Category Archives: Life

Snapshot: July 26, 2015

Time: 8:20 pm

Feeling: Productive, even though I really haven’t done much today. But I FINALLY got around to getting some pictures taken so I can have a decent social media picture, instead of either the one that’s years old, or the one where I’m hiding behind my 12-year-old Dylan or the one where I’m on the edge of the picture with all three of my kids.

It turns out I was using a different picture on different social media sites. Once I uploaded to Facebook, it took me another ten minutes to log in and change my pictures on all my other social media accounts and all my email accounts, too. Phew! But I’m glad I finally got it done.

It was quite the family affair. I got Dylan to take several shots of me, and then today when I met my daughter Hayley for an early dinner, I got her to select the shot she liked best.

This was actually the picture I personally liked, but I guess it doesn’t work well as a social media profile pic, does it?

Me trying to grab the phone

Eating: I went with Hayley to Queen Mother Café here on Queen Street West. They had a smaller menu than normal when we went, but Hayley was very pleased with her Ping Gai (boneless chicken marinated with garlic, coriander and black peppercorns, grilled crispy and served with a spicy lime and coriander dipping sauce, salad and  jasmine steamed rice) and I was quite happy with my arugula and smoked cheddar cheese salad (baby arugula, toasted pumpkin seeds, pickled red onion and  grape tomatoes, in a lime spinach and Dijon dressing, topped with grated smoked cheddar cheese). I also added grilled chicken to it so it would be more substantial.

Reading: Maybe it’s a summer thing, but I seem to be drawn to chunksters right now. There’s Atlas Shrugged, which I want to read for the #AtlasRAL. And there’s my book club read, The Name of the Wind (I know! It’s so exciting—I’m in a science fiction and fantasy book club!).

What’s really gotten my attention lately, though, is Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. What a great book! I’m about a third of the way through, and I’m really liking it.

Listening: I haven’t had a chance to get back to Ernest Cline’s Armada, which makes me quite sad because I’ve really enjoyed the few chapters I’ve listened to. I find I haven’t had as much time for audiobooks because when I’m not doing something I’m trying to keep noodling over bits and pieces of the story I’m working on. I used to do this all the time—I’d go off on a daydream about whatever book I happened to be writing, any time, any place—but it’s something I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing over the past four or five years. Which has been detrimental to my writing but very good for my audiobook stats.

Writing: Yes! I am still writing! Although I’ve now written all the scenes I’ve thought up, so the past few days I’ve been brainstorming instead of actually writing any new scenes. But I’m brainstorming in a “writing journal” file specifically for this book, so I’m counting it even if the word count can’t be added to my actual writing word count. Because really, while actually writing the words of your novel every day is a good goal, there’s some prep work that needs to be done and if I didn’t count it as “writing” I’d feel pretty down on the days when I didn’t “write” even though I was still working on my story. Right?

Working: This is a bit of a heavier week coming up for me. I’ve got three deadlines to finish up, plus it’s my older son’s birthday this Thursday. The tabletop board games I ordered for his birthday did arrive in time, which is good. He wants to have biscuits and sausage gravy for his birthday dinner, so we’re trying to find a restaurant around here that has that on its menu.

Creating: Nothing yet, but I’ve got a nice big stash now of adult colouring books, and I’m just waiting for a bit of time so I can pull out my Prismacolor pencils and start colouring!

Snapshot: July 16, 2015

Time: 9:25 pm

Feeling: A little sad, because tomorrow’s the last day of my Dark Fantasy writing class. And tired, because for some reason I was wired last night and had trouble falling asleep. Before I started feeling tired, I was actually feeling motivated, so I’m hoping if I get a good night’s sleep tonight I’ll go back to being motivated again!

Reading: I haven’t had much time to read this week. I did read a few pages of Meg Cabot’s Royal Wedding, since I need to post a review at the end of the month for the book’s blog tour, but what with being tired it was hard to get into it.

Listening: 

Armada

My Armada audiobook preorder came in earlier this week! I haven’t had a chance to transfer it over to my iPod, and I’m not going to do it tonight because I’m just way too tired to listen to it without falling asleep. So it will have to wait until the weekend.

Writing: Nothing, but hey, I’ve been in writing classes all this week! But I’ve started daydreaming scenes, which is good. I’m hoping to start a new writing schedule (that I’ll stick to) this weekend. Taking this writing class makes me feel I will finally start finishing my novels, so I want to tap into this motivation for as long as it lasts (hopefully it will last and last and never go away …).

Working: I’ve got one big index and one small index due next week, so in addition to starting a new writing schedule this weekend, I’ll also be working. Sigh.

Looking forward to: My last day of class tomorrow!

Snapshot: July 8, 2015

Feeling: Really really nervous and stressed about next week’s writing class/workshop with Kelley Armstrong. I didn’t realize just how nervous until the university sent me a link to register with the student portal so I can access the class materials—which, I think, consists of all the students’ writing submissions. Including mine. And I realized, OMG, I’m going to get critiqued. By a bunch of people. None of whom I know. Including Kelley Armstrong.

Gulp.

I’m not very good with this stress thing …

Eating: Guess what? I’m back to low-carb! I know I got that brain fog the last time, but it appears I had misread my research and the brain can indeed use ketones as fuel, rather than glucose. So I’m giving low-carb another try. It helps that Ward, the former book-reading demon, has stayed low-carb during my own low-carb ups and downs.

This time around, I’ve been  looking for some good recipes. And I found some! On the weekend, Ward made me these low-carb cream cheese pancakes. So, okay, my food photography isn’t going to stun anyone, but trust me, they tasted much better than they look in the photo. (I have NO clue why the picture looks so blue!) You can click on the link above to see a much much better picture of the pancakes.

These pancakes had a nice sorta pancakey texture and taste. Next time, I’ll leave the cinnamon out (or rather, get Ward to leave it out), as I normally eat pancakes with butter rather than syrup so I prefer just the pancake-like taste. Can you believe it, though? These have NO flour in them!

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Drinking: I haven’t been drinking this, but Ward has. He bought a package of Counting Sheep Coffee a while back and was really wowed by it. He’s been driving all over the place looking for a store that carries it, but has turned up empty-handed. So he emailed the company, and it sounds like they’ve been having trouble getting their product placed in the big stores.

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Right now their site shows only the decaf pods with valerian, but he’d bought a package of their ground decaf and he swore by it. He could have his coffee at night (he says it was a nice and strong decaf) and then fall right asleep.

Reading: So I mentioned in my last post that I’ve finally broken out of my reading slump. It only takes that one book (in my case, Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris) and BOOM! you’re back to reading. At least, I am.

When I finished Elantris I went on to Kelley Armstrong’s Visions. I’d read the first book in the Cainsville series, Omens, and thought I should probably get to Visions. Especially since I’m in her Dark Fantasy class next week. She’ll be doing a reading near the end of the week, and I’m hoping it will be from Deceptions, the third book in the series, which won’t be released until mid-August.

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I also decided to start Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. It’s over 1,000 pages long, so it means this month I’ll be reading two 1,000+ page books, since I’ll also be starting Atlas Shrugged for #AtlasRAL. Atlas Shrugged weighs in at 1,200 pages. Luckily I’m reading both of these in ebook format; my wrists are thanking me already!

Listening: I just started John Scalzi’s Redshirts, partly because I want to start reading Scalzi (I have several of his books on hold right now at the library) and partly because it’s narrated by Wil Wheaton and I figured this might be a good listen while I’m waiting for my pre-ordered audio of Ernest Cline’s Armada, which should be arriving soon. Just not soon enough.

Writing: Nothing. I’ve been too nervous and stressed, thinking about next week’s class.

Working: I finished up that big index I talked about last week. I have three small ones for the end of this week, but they’re fun ones so I’m not too worried about them. I had four articles due this week, and got three of them off my desk yesterday, so that leaves just one more. I need to clear the decks so I can attend next week’s class without worrying too much about work, although I do have another large index coming in over the next few days.

Photo of the week:

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I’m rather proud of this. It’s grass, in case you were wondering.

One of my cats, Hobbes, has been having trouble with hairballs. He’s Siamese, so the hairballs aren’t originating with him. But our other cat, Creeper, is a Snowshoe (the same breed as Grumpy Cat), so he’s on the fluffy side, and Hobbes is the one who’s always cleaning him. Hence the hairballs.

And the strange thing about Hobbes getting hairballs: he can’t be like a normal cat and just hock up the darn thing and be done with it. No, not Hobbes. Instead, he has to spend a few days throwing up and THEN he has to develop an allergic reaction which means he starts scratching his ears and then if I don’t stop him (which is nearly impossible despite anti-histamines and the liberal use of hydrogen peroxide) he develops an infection and has to go on antibiotics.

So I decided to grow some grass for him. Isn’t it just splendid? He’s already been grazing on it.

So that’s been my week! What has yours been like?

Snapshot: June 30, 2015

Time: Hah! I’m being a really really good blogger and writing this at 11:11 pm the night before.

Feeling: Well, I’ve had a glass of wine, so I’m feeling good. Does that count?

Eating: A blade steak, to go with my wine. I think in the US it’s called a flatiron steak?

Drinking: Wine (a Malbec) *cough*

Reading:

bishops wife

I wish! I’m still in a reading slump. But I did dive a little into The Bishop’s Wife and it’s quite intriguing. I’m not very familiar with the Mormon religion, and this promises to be both a good read and a good way to learn more about the Mormon religion.

Listening: I’ve been working and listening to the last few chapters of The Strain. Liking my reread (relisten?) so much, I downloaded the next two books in the trilogy from the library.

Writing: Can I just say, I’m REALLY REALLY NERVOUS about the Dark Fantasy writing class I’ll be attending mid-July, the one that’s taught by Kelley Armstrong? First, there’s the “I already know this” knowledge that I’m probably going to be the oldest person attending the class *sigh*. Second, there’s the fact that it’s a workshop and I’m going to be getting a critique of the first 20+ pages of my dark fantasy WIP Sweetness and Dank (and that’s a working title, in case you were thinking That’s a pretty strange title).

Working: I’m working on indexing a huge (massive!) criminal law text book. Think roughly 1400 pages and you’ll be almost right.

Photo of the week:

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Hobbes has been under the weather this week (hairballs from grooming Creeper, I think) but Creeper’s been taking care of him. :)

Snapshot: June 25, 2015

Time: 1:05 pm

Feeling: Revved up and motivated—yay!!

Eating & Drinking: I have fallen in love with savoury green smoothies. Last week we bought a NutriBullet blender/liquifier and I’ve been having a blast with it. I searched for savoury green smoothie recipes, then ended up making up one of my own based on seeing what other people are using in theirs.

Basically I throw in a tomato, some cucumber, a handful of cilantro, a cup of plain kefir, a quarter of a small onion, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of flaxseed, a half a tablespoon of potato starch and salt to taste. Zap it for about a minute, and it’s the most delicious veggie drink ever. And the bonus? It’s pretty filling, so easily substitutes for a light lunch.

Reading: I’m in a reading slump. Yes, I figured I should just bold that for good measure. I think it’s because I’m feeling both productive and busy, and I’m scared if I pick up a good book, I’ll end up sucked in for hours on end.

Whatever the reason, though, I haven’t picked up either a print book or a physical book for a week, other than continuing with my reading of Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction. It’s not really a “how to write” book, but rather more a memoir type book in which Highsmith describes how she came to write several of her works.

But I’m headed to the library later today to pick up some holds, so something enticing might get my out of my slump. I can hope, anyway!

Watching: On the other hand, maybe what I just wrote above about being scared that picking up a good book will blow my productivity right out of the water is just an excuse. Because I started watching season 2 of “Agents of Shield” on Netflix last night …

Listening:

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I’m skipping around between a bunch of things (which is often what happens when I’m in a reading slump): Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny (I have the omnibus in print version in my TBR stack—all the books in the series will be rereads for me); The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, another reread/relisten; and Bryant & May: The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler.

Writing: I’m finally working on those first 20 pages of my dark fantasy, for my summer writing workshop class with Kelley Armstrong. Memory gave a me some great developmental feedback, and my older son also read my first draft and pointed out the things which puzzled him or weren’t clear. I’ve got lots of good points to work on now, and both of them tell me what I’ve got so far is very interesting, so I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Working: I’m back on a productivity binge. I’ve decided to try doing a daily braindump to-do on Trello and so far (for today, anyway), it’s been working. Doing the braindump turns out to be quite the relief for my poor brain which has been trying to juggle everything.

And having a list of things, big and little, seems to be helping, too. I pick and choose depending on my mood. Like this blog post.

I’ve already moved several things to the “done” list, which feels great.

Kijiji: Ward and I finally got around to listing something on Kijiji—a computer desk we no longer need or use—and I can’t believe how easy the whole sales transaction went. I listed the desk late Monday night, and someone emailed us at 7:00 in the morning the very next day. The desk was gone by early afternoon!

I have a friend who recently downsized from a huge house to a condo; she had a blast selling her too-big furniture on Kijiji. She told me it becomes addictive. I can certainly see how that could happen!

So that’s been my week so far. How’s your week been? Any tips for battling a reading slump?

Gay Mean Girls, a coming of queer dramedy

My daughter Hayley is the DoP (Director of Photography) for Gay Mean Girls. It’s a beautiful short film, well worth watching. And when you’re done, you can go to IMDB and rate it!

I’m really excited about the plans for the film—Hayley and Coco (Heyishi Zhang, the director) will be making this into a Web series! Follow Gay Mean Girls on Tumblr to stay in the know about dates and such!

Snapshot: June 16, 2015

Time: 6:26 pm

Feeling: Ready for a nap. Mainly because I’ve been up since 6:30 am—although sadly I didn’t end up gong for a walk because (a) it was raining, (b) I decided to get some social media work done first and (c) by the time I finished up the rain had stopped and things were looking too hot outside for a walk.

Eating: We’ve been eating out too much. Or so says the latest credit card bill. Sigh. I want to spend some time looking for crunchy summery salads with a dash of protein. Maybe I’ll have a cool new recipe to link to in next week’s Snapshot …

Drinking: I’ve started making kefir smoothies! I add spinach and whatever fruit I have on hand and feel rather nutritionally virtuous as a result. On the days when I remember to make them, that is.

Reading: The reading’s taken a bit of back seat because I just haven’t had much time for it lately. *sob*

BUT I’m really excited about this:

Armada.jpg

Ernest Cline’s Armada is being released on July 15 and what’s even more exciting? Wil Wheaton is narrating the audio version! I already have an Audible credit earmarked for it.

I’m also eyeing the Atlas Shrugged (#AtlasRAL) Readalong that Ti’s hosting over July and August. I’ve not been doing so well with my readalongs, though. I didn’t finish a single readalong book from last month, and this month I’m definitely behind with the #MiseryRAL readalong.

Listening:

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I’m having much better luck with my audiobooks. I’m listening to Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May—The Burning Man right now. It’s always nice to slip back into the world of Bryant and May (I want to say they’re octogenarian detectives, but I’m actually not sure exactly how old they are. But May is four years younger than Bryant. I think.)

Writing: The deadline for submitting my dark fantasy for the workshop class I’m taking from Kelley Armstrong next month is June 29, so I still have some time left to make my revisions. Whew.

Working: I finished up an index on Sunday night, and this week I have five articles to write. Work on the book marketing for Booktrope is going well.

I also got started with my big readers’ site project—well, sort of. I’m still developing the site, but I finally got the Twitter account up and running: @bookstormcafe! While of course it would be lovely if you’d give it a follow, I should warn you that it is simply chockful of tweets about book news, book giveaways, new book releases, book reviews and author interviews. I’m not kidding—the tweet stream is loaded. It’s been fun diving into all this bookish stuff on the one hand, but on the other hand, let me just say there’s an awful lot of book news, book giveaways and new books out there!

Playing:

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We’ve had the Lord of the Rings board game for a while, and finally opened it up last night. It was a lot of fun (once we figured out the rules) but there was a certain cat who kept wanting to join us.

Looking forward to: The weekend! For once I’m actually getting out and about. We have tickets to see Titanic the Musical this Friday night, and then on Saturday a friend of mine is holding a girls-only birthday bash, which should be fun.

What about you? How has your week been so far? And what are your plans for the rest of the week?

A Rather Eerie Sight This Morning

On Friday mornings I do my morning walk with my friend Christy. It rained this morning, so we decided to stay on the sidewalk rather than along the Harbourfront, and walk farther west on Toronto’s Queen’s Quay than we normally do.

And that’s when we came across a little park on the waterfront called Ireland Park.

It was a cloudy, wet morning, and these statues in the park came as something of a surprise to both of us.

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Quite the eerie sight! I’m glad I was there with Christy; there was no-one else around, and the air had that thickness to it you often get when it rains. Queue some scary music and a bit of fog, and I would have been out of there like a shot. But since Christy is one of those comforting, practical people you’d want to have with you in a haunted house, I stayed and even took pictures.

So of course I had to look up “Ireland Park” when I got home. It turns out Ireland Park is a memorial to the 38,000 Irish immigrants who came to Canada in 1847 to escape famine; more than 1,000 of them died that summer.

The statues are by artist Rowan Gillespie, and there are similar statues on Dublin’s quay side.

There is also a large limestone wall, which was shipped from Ireland. The names of those who died are engraved on it. According to Robert Kearns, the chair of the Ireland Park Foundation, “It represents the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland, the last sight seen by emigrants leaving home. The names of the dead are engraved on the gaps in the wall. The park is really a cemetery without bodies, for the people who didn’t make it.”

Yes, it was definitely a very interesting walk today!

Snapshot: June 10, 2015

Time: 9:26 p.m.

Feeling: Pretty good. Probably a good thing that I didn’t write my Snapshot yesterday, when I was feeling rather bummed out. Today? Much better.

Eating: Nothing spectacular to report today. I do have an organic steak defrosting right now. I had a mostly-veggie dinner earlier and sadly, this is my later-in-the-evening snack. Sadly, because I’ve been trying to kick the late-night eating habit but it’s too hard.

Drinking: It’s too hard because of the wine. I like to have a glass of Malbec at nights, but I don’t like to drink wine without food. Quite the dilemma, no?

Reading: I’m still reading Misery for #MiseryRAL but haven’t gotten too much further into the book yet.

I spent some time today reading a bit more of Gideon by Alex Gordon. I’m past the historical chapters, so just diving into the present-day scenes. It’s been very interesting, and so far I can see it living up to the blurb on the back of the book:

Gideon blurb

Listening: I just finished Peter Clines’ The Fold this morning and all I can say is: go read it if you like sci-fi thrillers!! It was so good. I like how Clines gives us the science without it being too academic or overwhelming. And the ending! I was on the edge of my seat (actually, I was running/walking at the time—even though I haven’t been bringing an audiobook with me on my walks, I decided to this morning because I only had about half an hour to go and I just had to find out what happened. Luckily, I finished the audiobook before it got dark and cold and the skies started spitting rain …)

thefold

I really liked the protagonist, Mike Erikson, and I’m hoping we’ll get to see him in another book. Ray Porter’s narration was stellar. I definitely recommend this one in audio.

Writing: I finally “got” the short story i was working on way back in April when I was trying to write a short story a week (and then my mom broke her hip and my time and daily schedule went out the window). I’d written down the first paragraph a few weeks ago, and yesterday the rest of it came to me, so that was nice. I haven’t had a chance yet to write it out, but I did capture notes so I wouldn’t forget anything.

I still have to get the first 20 pages of my dark fantasy ready for my workshop course with Kelley Armstrong next month … I’m definitely procrastinating!

Working: I’ve got an index due next week, some more articles, and I’m working on the book marketing stuff, of course.

I’ve also decided to work on something fairly large as a complement to the book marketing: a site for readers. Not a Bookriot-type of site, but one for those readers who aren’t already blogging about books or a part of the online book community, but who do like to go online to get information about books. I think a site like that would be excellent for featuring book bloggers too, so I’m working on incorporating weekly features that will promo book bloggers somehow into my ideas as well.

Since I tend to try for too big too soon, which just overwhelms me, right now I’m developing the features I want to have, but I’m going to begin implementing them a bit at a time so I don’t get overwhelmed. Wish me luck, because I’m going to need it!

Stress Relief: I’ve been doing quite well! I think the walking has a lot to do with it. I’m juggling a lot of things but so far I’ve been quite good at keeping the overwhelm at bay. Hopefully I can keep it up!

Sunday Morning Walk: Meditation (sort of), Observations, and Distractions

I’ve been loving my morning walks, but one thing that’s gotten shifted to the side as a result is my meditation. My mornings are now so full, and when I get back from my walk, I’m just not feeling in the meditation spirit.

So this morning I decided to try a walking meditation. A friend of mine had sent me this YouTube meditation, which she highly recommended:

So I thought I’d give it a try today, while I was walking. As soon as I finished the running portion of my walk (I’m up to, oh, maybe five minutes now?) I slipped on my earbuds and played the meditation.

It’s a beautiful meditation, but it turned out I just can’t do the walk and meditate thing. After fifteen minutes, I absolutely had to stop and sit, so that I could finish the meditation. I found a beautiful spot where I could watch the waves come in, and the final fifteen minutes were really lovely.

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On my way back, I let myself observe everything the way I normally do on my walks (when I’m not trying to meditate). No wonder I found it so hard to meditate while I was walking!

There are so many people out and about along Toronto’s Harbourfront. One of the things I love doing is people watching, and it turns out I spend a lot of my walking time doing that.

And the distractions? Well, on my way back, a bird divebombed me. It felt like it landed on my head and immediately took off again. When I got home I made everyone check my head to make sure I didn’t have a bird scratch or two on  my scalp.

It’s a good thing I haven’t been reading du Maurier’s “The Birds” at the time, or I probably would have run all the way back home.