Picture
Life is full of exciting developments. In October, I attended my first Central Canada Comic Convention as an artist/vendor. I was there with Peasantry Press and the Authors of Manitoba. I sold copies of Dragonfly. I talked to people - readers and writers and artists of all sorts. I gave out candy for "Safe Halloween". I admired the many costumes. I bought some Christmas gifts. I bought some "I love me" gifts. Basically, it was a fantastic weekend. Exciting. And more exciting? I've already reserved my table for next year.

Another exciting development in my life right now is this beautiful little MacBook I'm using at this very moment. I destroyed my previous MacBook this summer (due to a juice spill and an absentminded writer...) and the husband surprised me with my top pick for a replacement: the 2016 12-inch MacBook in Rose Gold, and I love love love it. I'm using it to edit my most recent novels (coming soon!) and to work on a new - top secret - project my writer-daughter and I are doing together.

Finally, I'm excited about my latest release, entitled "Infusion". Published by Charlie Dawg Press, I'm thrilled to see my baby in print at last.  Of all the things I've written, it's my favourite.

And thus ends the "10 Day Writing Challenge". 

 
 
Picture
I am married. We celebrated our 18 year anniversary in July with a 27 km bike ride in the morning, followed by Sushi for lunch and hanging out in the evening. It was nice. 

Now, we try to set aside every Monday for date night. I'm really enjoying the time together. Especially because things have been so crazy lately. This year, as I've gone back to work after a year on mat. leave, things have been especially busy. With our teaching jobs, Zig's publishing and graphics business, my writing, our three amazing children, our mini schnauzer, not to mention our hobbies and the kids' lessons and the never ever EVER ending pile of laundry, it's a frantic - but fun - life. I'm happy. Sleepless, but happy. 


#18yearsandcounting

 
 
Picture
I like this question. 

I'll tell you what it used to be. It used to be "there are no wrong choices - only learning choices." Wow.  That was not a good quote to live by, that's for sure. And when I took a hard look at my choices and the results, it was pretty clear: there are definitely wrong choices. I made a bunch of them. So do most people. Yes, we can - and do! - learn from those choices. But that doesn't mean they weren't wrong.


These days, I don't use quotes from other strugglers like myself to guide my choices or, as the challenge says, "live by". But there are a few that resonate with me. 

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." (Helen Keller). I really like this one. I do believe we should approach each new day as an adventure, willing to risk and push and drink it in, even those mundane days where nothing seems extraordinary. Because life is extraordinary, isn't it? 

"900 years of time and space, and I've never met anyone who wasn't important." (Doctor Who). Man, I love this one. Yes, he's a fictional character, but the line itself - and the sentiment behind it - reminds me that all these fellow humans are each unique and special. Each person matters. And the way I treat others - all others - should reflect this truth. It doesn't always - I'm human too, and I fail sometimes - but I try. 

"Love God, love others" (Luke 10:27, which actually reads "He answered,"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind', and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" ). This is again a reminder of what I am here for - to love God and to love others.  And yes, as I mentioned above, I often fail. But I'm thankful God is merciful and graceful when I mess up. And I keep trying. 

So, there they are: my favourite quotes for living: Life is an adventure and people matter, so love them (and God too).  

 
 
Loved: I loved the book Numb, by John Otte. I first noticed it during its promotional period, where they were allowing people to vote on the cover art. It sounded like a book I might like, so when it was finally out, I bought it. Here’s the description, from Amazon: 
"Save the girl...or his soul? Crusader is numb. He feels neither emotion nor pain, a divine gift that allows him to be the Ministrix's best assassin. Whether it's heretics from within or heathen from without, Crusader is the sword in the True Church's hand. And if he remains obedient to his superiors, he will be able to let go of his guilt.

But then he's ordered to kill Isolda Westin. It shouldn't be a problem. A target is a target. When Crusader sees Isolda's image, though, something strange happens. He experiences a moment of panic, a wave of emotions, the first he's felt in as long as he can remember.

In that moment, he realizes he can't fulfill his mission. He can't kill Isolda Westin, even if it means he'll be condemned as an enemy of the Ministrix.

Soon Crusader and Isolda are on the run. Will they be able to learn why the Ministrix wants Isolda dead? Or will they both face the harsh justice of the "True Church"?"
Yeah. I loved it. The writing was great, the characters were just how I liked them (conflicted and human), the romance was subtle and intriguing, the created world was believable. So good. It’s the kind of book that stayed with me after reading it.
Did Not Love: No comment. Is that bad? There are definitely books I did not love, but really, for the most part, that's just because everyone has different tastes. I'm reluctant to tell people NOT to read a specific book, even if I didn't enjoy it myself. What one person may not like may be another person's favourite. That said, I can't imagine anyone who likes science fiction action/suspense NOT liking Numb. Again, it was really great. 
 
 
Picture
I had real trouble with this one. What does it mean to fascinate someone? There are people I find interesting and impressive. Writers and entrepreneurs like Marcher Lord Press founder Jeff Gerke, for instance. Such an interesting person with such a wealth of knowledge. Or former Prime Ministers I used to passionately dislike but who, during subsequent terms, came to seriously impress me. Or my own Mom, who seems to know every single thing about grammar and the English language, whose stories of her own childhood captured my imagination and who is still a constant source of support and wisdom. Interesting, impressive, inspiring people.

But fascinating? I guess I’m going to have to go with Doctor Who. I mean, the man is a Time Lord, after all.


 
 
I would like to live in the highlands of Scotland! (Says I, who knows nothing about it except it’s so pretty! And Duncan Mcleod was from there, wasn’t he. I mean, yeah, he was fictional, but still… so pretty…) 


And preferably in a castle. I do like castles.
 
 
Picture
1) I married my highschool sweetheart at 18.

2) I have a heart condition - Pulmonary Stenosis. 

It makes me prone to infection and, among other things, means I’m not allowed to give blood (what?!), and not supposed to get a tattoo. So there’s that.

3) I wrote my first “novel” at 16. 

It was 100 typed pages and inspired by a friend’s “bad boy” crush that I found interesting and tragic. The story will never see the light of day, of course. 

4) I’ve been to Japan as a teen.

My high school band took a trip to play in Japan. I was a terrible alto sax player, but a great traveler.

5) I’ve also been to Paraguay and Brazil.  

My husband’s family is from Paraguay, in the Mennonite colonies, so we flew down to visit them. I learned that not EVERYBODY speaks English :) 

6) I once had 15 hamsters. 

Then we found out my dad had an allergy and had to give most of them away. He let me keep my favourite, but it died mysteriously when I was away at camp...

7) My love of writing really took off in second grade..
when a teacher praised my creative writing and encouraged me to keep at it. I did. When I won a contest in grade four for a story entitled “Why Doesn’t My Daddy Hamster Love Me” (Inspired by true events based on the life of my hamsters) - I discovered the joy of being “published”. 

8) I used to have a “Highlander” obsession. 

For my 18th birthday I had a Scottish bagpipe player come and play in my basement. Lol. It was hilariously awkward. 

9) Speaking of obsessions, I’m also a total Buffy and Dr. Who Nerd
I used to be obsessed with Buffy as a teen, and am currently a major fangirl of Doctor Who. I tend to nerd out when I find something I love. Stories with fantastical elements and tragic, lonely heroes always just grab me. 


10) I am both extroverted and socially awkward.
It’s kind of unfair. Sometimes, people assume social awkwardness is only attached to introverted people. You know, those people who find crowds draining and prefer to recharge on their own - rather than being energized by larger groups. But actually, I find introverts often manage to avoid social awkwardness altogether simply by the fact that they are more selective in their social engagement, more thoughtful and deliberate with their words, more careful with the social energy they choose to expend. 

But I love being around people - groups of people and social interaction energize me. When I’m trying to work and I’m alone, I’m distracted by my own thoughts and bored quickly. In a crowded coffee shop, I can work happily to the hum of voices around me. Unfortunately, I’m also fairly socially awkward. It’s not that I don’t know what the right thing to say is in a situation… it’s just I don’t know until after I’ve said the wrong thing. And further, I am painfully aware that I’m going to say the wrong thing - I’ll be too blunt, or too honest, or too sarcastic, or too over-sharey… or just too weird… and so my social awkwardness gets in the way of my extroverted nature. And it doesn’t help that most of my friends are introverts. Sigh. Such is the plight of an extroverted, socially awkward nerd. :) 



And there we are: 10 facts about yours truly. 

 
 
Picture
What counts as a first love? 

In grade 1, there was Greg, the boy I loved with all my 6-year-old heart. Then there was my mad crush on that boy from youth group, John, who I sent a secret rose and poem to on Valentine’s Day in grade 8 (and if you were to read my diary from back then, I certainly thought I loved that boy.) Finally, there was the first boy I fell for as a full fledged teenager, that boy who made my heart race by holding my hand, whose kiss made me realize what a kiss should really feel like, that boy I’d fall asleep with on the phone - the boy I eventually married. As I think about it now, I’m sure it was him - Zig -  my future husband,  my heart first truly loved. 

But it’s a good reminder that when someone thinks they are in love - whether they are six years old or twelve  years old or sixteen years old, it’s real to them at the time. As a teacher and a Mom, it’s good for me to remember how I felt back then, as a child, then as a preteen, then as a teenager.

Love changes with time. It grows, it evolves. But it’s fun to remember how bright it burned back when we were first falling.




 
 
This is a tough one. I don’t know if I could find the earliest. I remember a lot from when I was five, but before that… One of my earliest, maybe, was the Christmas I got a giant teddy bear that reminded me of banana bread. So I named him… Banana Bread. He was huge and soft and I still love him. It’s crazy how real and how comforting teddy bears can feel. I must have had at least twenty in my bed as a kid - and as a teen, too. If I had my way, my bed would still be full of them teddy bears. But after I got married, the husband kicked them out. :) 

My bed is full of my children now instead. Which is much better.
 
 
Okay, so this is a little late… but I’m starting the 10 day writing challenge that I  mentioned back in March… today. 

Writing Challenge Day One: Five Problems With Social Media
This is funny, because I very much have a love/hate relationship with social media. Looking at my life, one would assume Social Media and I are seriously tight. I mean, you’ll rarely catch me without my phone at my fingertips. I check notifications from Facebook and Twitter within a few minutes. I usually know what’s going on in the public lives of my friends within moments of them posting. I use it to communicate with friends, promote my writing, find out what’s new in the world. And I actually don’t think all things about social media are bad.

Yeah, some people say it encourages shallow friendships and phoniness, and in many cases, sure - true enough. But it also allows you to stay in close and frequent contact with friends who are at a distance and with friends who, due to the busyness of life, you may have otherwise lost touch with. It allows you to send quick messages of support, of prayer, of warmth. It allows you to engage in interesting conversations on topics you may have not had an opportunity to otherwise discuss. These can all be good things. But, of course, as with most things in life, what can be a positive thing can also have limitations and drawbacks. Social media is no exception. Here are my top five.

5) Can be an addictive time waster
With so much social media, it’s easy to get caught up in scrolling through - news, updates from friends, drama - all of it can be interesting and entertaining and… completely mind numbing. Hours can seriously slip by while caught in the web of updates… Sometimes I’ll find myself on Facebook and have no idea how I got there.

4) A potential platform for unsupported opinions and misinformation
This is a pet peeve of mine. People will post and repost the most ridiculous and inflammatory stuff - usually in the form of some unsupported article. From politics to health to childcare… the eye-rolling, head shaking, and painfully stupid stuff out there is never ending. And if one makes the foolish mistake to comment on it… well, then an ugly, silly debate ensues. Ugh.

3) Sometimes encourages narcissism and voyeurism
Look at me! Look at me! LOOK AT ME!!!! Look how much personal growth and introspection I have. Look at my awesome family. Look at how fit I am. Look at how comfortable in my own skin I am. Look at my perfect, fun,  life. Look at me. Look at me! LOOK AT ME!!!!

Sure!

2) Oversharing
Listen, it’s okay not to post EVERY SINGLE THING that pops into your head. It may not feel like it at the time, but there are some things your 750 “friends” don’t need to...probably shouldn’t...know.

1) Distracts one from being present
I think the very worst thing about social media is that it can distract me from being present with the people in my life. It feels terrible to look up from my phone and realize one of the kids was trying to talk to me and I just...didn’t hear them. That is not okay. And it’s one of the reasons I am striving to create more distance from my phone and spend less time on social media.

Because being present matters. It really does. And when social media gets in the way of that, I think that’s the biggest problem of all.