Pupdate, part the third

Yesterday marked the removal of Nuala’s staples.  She’d finished her cocktail of medications on Wednesday, and since then, had been increasingly restive.  I think as least one of the medications was to calm her down.

Nu doesn’t like to be this inactive.  She likes her morning walks, chasing her ball, wrastling on the floor.  After her meds were done, she wanted to get back to her normal routine.

This was challenging for my mom.  She called late last Sunday to suggest that we bring Nu over and that she keep her enclosed in the basement.  As Nu became more active, this became more demanding.  On Friday, Nu jumped onto the bed that Mom has in her basement.  She hadn’t even attempted it any time in the year previous.  She might be feeling better, but she’s not supposed to run or jump at all.

Try to tell her that.

A note on accommodations

I’m not talking hotel rooms; I’m talking about the ways that we’ve had to rearrange our lives to accommodate Nu’s recovery.

We have a small house, so limiting her activity isn’t too difficult in general, but we do have stairs that lead into the house and so bathroom breaks have been somewhat of a challenge.  We’ve been trying to help her up the stairs by slinging a towel around her abdomen, but lately she doesn’t have the patience for it.

While she was on the medication, we had to make sure that we administered it at the proper times and dosages.

Since walking was out, we had to make sure that she had relief before we went to work.  Nu’s a dog of habit and she doesn’t like to do her “business” in the yard.  She prefers to decorate the yards of others so I can show my love for her by cleaning up after 😛  This last week has been one of the coldest in Sudbury for the past few years.  Waiting outside, impatiently, for Nu to realize she had to choice but to drop a deuce in the yard was a B-triple-R challenge.

Our dog has the run of our house.  Normally, she sleeps on the bed (until it gets too hot) or on the couch.  These are two of her favourite places.  Because she’s not supposed to jump, we’ve had to get creative.  The couch isn’t so bad.  We can pull the cushions down and she won’t try anything.  The bed’s a different story, though.

We have a king-sized bed with a pillow top mattress.  Before Nu started to show signs of lameness, it was really high.  Neither Phil nor I had to sit down much to get in it.  When she was initially diagnosed with arthritis, Phil cut the legs off the bed, shortening it by six inches so that Nu could hop in again.

We’ve noticed something, though.  When we have laundry out on the bed, Nu won’t go near it.  So for the last week and a half, we’ve left the laundry spread on Phil’s side of the bed and he’s volunteered to sleep on the couch nights.  See, if we were just to go to bed as usual, Nu would be tempted to jump up.  She used to leap right over Phil to get into her preferred spot between us.  Then sometime in the night, she’d hop down again.

You see how we have a problem with this.

Tonight, however, we are going to bring Phil back from his exile and put Nu into hers.  He hasn’t been sleeping so well on the couch, so we’re going to try closing the bedroom door on her.  I anticipate some trouble …

We have to work some new system out, though, because Nu will be under restrictions for at least three more weeks.

It takes six to eight to heal bone completely.

naked pup bumSorry about the lack of a decent picture.  Nu won’t sit still enough for me to take one 😛

Unless something bizarre happens, you can expect pup-related silence for the next three weeks.  Our next appointment is February 16th, so I’ll catch everyone up then.

Nu thanks you for all of the support 🙂

Writer-tech: Asus Transformer and Samsung Galaxy Note II

I’ve always been a bit of a technophile.  I think it comes from the fact that Phil is computer-dude supreme, a genius even, or, as one of our friends once called him, an ass in jeans 🙂  I like to joke that I learn things from him through osmosis.  I’m fairly certain that if it weren’t for Phil, that I’d still be tech-clueless and likely in a lot sorrier shape than I am now.

I’m still tentative about some things though, and learning something new in the technical realm that I’m not particularly motivated to learn can still stress me out.

Once upon a time …

In another life (that’s how long ago it was), I had an interest in creating Web pages, and with Phil’s help, I learned how to do basic HTML scripting, you know, the kind that you had to type out in Wordpad, tags and all?  I’d do my own graphics too, real basic stuff, that I’d put together in a freeware imaging editor that I no longer remember the name of.  I use The Gimp now 🙂

I did a few Web pages for some of my employers at the time: Huntington University, The Art Gallery of Sudbury, and ACCUTE (the association of Canadian college and university teachers of English).  Eventually, I graduated to Microsoft FrontPage, but I couldn’t compete with the new Web page design companies that were plentiful even in a place like Sudbury.

I maintained listservs too, and brought at least one employer into the world of Yahoo! Groups, then the only game in town, so to speak.

Enough of my techie history though.  I just wanted to give you some perspective, and to set the stage for my next revelation.

Let’s do the Time Warp!

Fast forward a few years and here I am happily writing away with a desktop, laptop, and USB keys to affect file transfers.  I was a confirmed bibliophile too, lived the smell and the feel of books, and didn’t want to enter the world of ereaders even after Phil bought one (a Kobo, by the way).  As Rupert Giles said to Jenny, knowledge should be … smelly.

I’d started my blog, been hacked, restarted my blog and was on a dedicated mission to build my platform.  I didn’t even understand what that was to begin with; I just know that I should have one.

My phone was what I affectionately called a “dumb” phone.  It was the dumbest I could find when my contract came up.  Called the Doro phone, it was marketed at seniors 😛 with a big number pad and no camera on board.  I had a digital camera.  I didn’t think I’d ever have need for anything else.  I just wanted to be able to make a phone call, and to receive one, maybe text a friend every once in a while.

Then things changed

I got tired of the dumb phone and its limitations, of paying more than half of what my friends were for their I-phones and Blackberries.  As my shelves were quickly filled with paper books, I began to see the benefits of an ereader.

Phil had given his Kobo to his mom and purchased an ASUS Transformer.  He began to use it every night, reading books off Project Gutenberg, comics, and even watching Netflix in bed.  I began to see the attraction.

So, I bought my own ASUS Transformer, and I love it!Transformer1

First, it was super easy to set up and learn how to use.  I was downloading apps from the first day.  There’s more than enough space on the dear little thing to keep me happy for a long time.

Second, it has a suppementary keyboard attachment which extends the battery life, memory, and data ports, as well as helping to protect your investment.

I have access to internet, email, all of my social media, WordPress, and just about anything else I’d want.  The only down side is that it’s not so easy taking my writing on the road.  Polaris Office doesn’t do a bad job, but there are some features that I’ve just gotten used to in Microsoft Word that Polaris doesn’t understand or offer.

Dropbox has the potential to replace my USB though 🙂

transformer2I also have, with the tablet, not only Kobo’s, but Amazon’s app too, so now I can read whatever I want wherever I want 🙂  I also have news, comics, and other readers, so I’m pretty much loaded for bear.

Plus, it has a camera/video recorder with voice recording too!  Can my dreams of podcasting and vlogging be far off?

The Transformer’s all but made my laptop (and my camera) obsolete.  Who knew that an upgrade could actually lead to an overall reduction in the amount of tech I own/use?

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

(The more things change, the more they stay the same.)

Around my birthday last year, I had done a lot of word-of-mouth research, asking friends and coworkers about the kinds of smart phones they had, about their service providers, and contracts.  How much were they paying a month and what were they getting for the price?

I’d had my eye on the Galaxy Note since Guy Kawasaki reviewed his purchase of one.  I looked up every review and the worst anyone had to say about it was that it was a little big.  Big whoop, I thought, I’ve got decent-sized hands.

As serendipity would have it, my service provider sent an upgrade offer to my email.

Phil, who used to have his own cell phone, then tired of it, had been forced back into a contract by his employer.  Then, as a cost-saving measure, his employer introduced a cost-sharing program, whereby Phil could get his own phone again, and his employer refund him for part of the monthly cost by way of compensation for using the service for work purposes.

So when I mentioned the upgrade offer, and that I was seriously considering the Galaxy Note II, it was perfect-tech-storm time 🙂

Galaxy1We went out and got ourselves a couple of Galaxy Note II’s that weekend.

Phil now uses his note to read/watch movies in bed 🙂  It’s lighter than the Transformer, even without the keyboard.  We have a wireless network at home and Phil has one at work, so we’re going to downgrade his data plan.  He almost never has to use LTE at all.

I’ve found it a boon because I can keep track of my email and SoMe notifications at work and better manage the time I spend online in the evenings.  I haven’t yet graduated to using it to create blog posts at lunch or anything, but I can see that happening in the future.

It’s essentially a tablet with a phone and text capability.  Because it’s an Android, like my tablet, I can have all the apps I have on my tablet on my phone too.  Many of them will even sync up.

I love the stylus feature though.  Included in the Galaxy Note II’s applications is a note suite galaxy2which has everything from basic notes, to meeting minutes, mind-mapping tools, financial planning notes, greeting card creation notes, drawing apps, etc.  I haven’t explored these thoroughly yet, but I have used it for shopping lists, to do lists, and reminders.

galaxy3You can simply write on your note, or use the text conversion feature to change your handwriting to text.  It works great for me.  It’s only messed up once, when I was demonstrating the feature to a friend.  I can definitely see this replacing my journal some day, but I still have about 10 or so paper journals to write through first.

I’m not an early adopter

For some things, I’m the first person to take an interest and conquer the new tech.  This happens most often in my day-job.  In general, I’m not the first person to pick up the latest technology.  I like to wait until the manufacturer has worked out the bugs and someone else has tested the product first, often Phil.

I haven’t been very quick on the uptake with respect to all the writerly apps I can make use of on my tablet and phone either.  I’ve barely scratched the surface, so I’ll leave you with a few sites I found that were very helpful to me in selecting the best apps for my droid.

I hope this post will be useful to those of you considering a tablet or smart phone.

Tomorrow, there will be a brief pupdate.  Come on back now, ya hear 😉

Pupdate, part the second

Please find the last pupdate here.

While I was away Jan 8-11 for IPCTD, Phil made the arrangements for Nuala’s surgery.  He took the x-rays out to Dr. Hoscheit and took Nu in for her pre-operative blood test.  On Friday, he made the appointment for Nu’s surgery: January 16, 2013.

I was home for the weekend, but then returned to Toronto for an in-person team meeting including budget discussions and discussion on the revised code of conduct.  While there, I talked to my manager about taking Thursday off.  I was completely up front about it with him and he was very accommodating.

So after my whirlwind trip to Toronto (down January 14 and up January 15), Phil and I drove Nu out to Dr. Hoscheit and went to work.  Just after noon, we got the report.  The surgery was over and appeared at first blush to be a success.  Nu was in recovery and the veterinary technician would call and check in with us when she completed her evening visit.

In the evening, the tech called and reported that Nu was doing well.  She spent 20 minutes with Nu, checking, medicating, and comforting.  Nu would be ready to return home the next morning.  We arranged to arrive for 9 am.

When we arrived, we brought some of Nuala’s food with us.  While the techs fed and prepped Nu for departure, we met a very sweet chocolate lab who’d had the same procedure only six days before.  Other than being shaved, we almost couldn’t tell she’d had an operation.

We booked the appointments to have Nuala’s bandage removed on Saturday (yesterday), and her staples removed the Saturday following.  The final follow-ups could be booked at that time.  We received three prescriptions, an antibiotic and two pain management meds, along with instructions on when to administer them.

Nu would continue to receive her Metacam in the evenings and with luck, all would be well within a couple of weeks.  Of course, we’d have to keep her quiet.  Any activity, even normal activity, could set back her recovery and potentially undo some of the benefits of the procedure.  She shouldn’t put weight on her leg and definitely shouldn’t be allowed to lick or worry at either the bandages or the incision.

Nuala was handed over to us, shaved, bandaged, and wearing the Elizabethan collar or, ‘cone of shame.”



The drive home was largely uneventful, and we managed to get her out of the car alright, but Nu likes to sniff as she walks, and as soon as she lowered her head, the cone became a shovel as she repeatedly jammed it into the ground.

Phil ended up carrying her into the house as the cone got stuck on every step en route to the entry, plus the door frame.  Needless to say, the cone of shame was removed as soon as we were safely in the house 🙂

Nuala post-surgery

Nuala post-surgery


Looking good 🙂

Nuala’s been really good about keeping her leg elevated and not putting her weight on the leg.  I think we had to caution her against licking the bandage once.  We saw steady improvement, even on Friday.

Until the bandage was removed, we had to put a plastic bag over it when we took her out, and to assist her in getting up the steps, we used a towel wrapped around her abdomen to bear her weight on the way up.  The first couple of times we had her out, it was a bit of a production.

Yesterday, we took her to have the bandage removed.  Once again, she’s been very good, not licking at the staples and keeping her weight off the leg.  Phil and I are becoming expert (he more so than I) at cutting small tablets.  One of the three medications must be given in two and three quarter tablet dosages.

So that’s how my darlin’s faring this week.  Will likely have another pupdate coming in the next week or two to let you know how the staple removal and other follow-up appointments go.

The Forgotten Ones cover reveal blitz and five questions with Laura Conant Howard

Title: The Forgotten Ones

Author: Laura Howard

Genre: NA Paranormal Fantasy Romance

Expected release date: May 15, 2013

Age Group: New Adult

Cover Designer: Stephanie Mooney

Book Description:

Allison O’Malley just graduated from college. Her life’s plan is to get a job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She doesn’t have room for friends or even Ethan, who clearly wants more.

When Allison’s long-lost father shows up, he claims he can bring her mother back from the dark place her mind has sent her. He reveals legends of a race of people long forgotten, the Tuatha de Danaan, along with the truth about why he abandoned her mother.

Share on Facebook and/or Twitter and you could win a $50 Amazon (or B&N) Gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Five questions with Laura Conant Howard

First of all, welcome to Writerly Goodness, Laura, and thank you for the opportunity to share your experience with my readers 🙂

1. I’m an unapologetic Celtophile and as such, I was immediately drawn to the premise of The Forgotten Ones.  What draws you to that tradition and who have your literary influences been?

LCH: Growing up, my Irish grandmother was a big influence in the way I saw the world. Then I married an Irish man, which deepened my love for all things Irish. My biggest influences have been Juliet Marillier, Holly Black, and so many more.

2. When and how did the inspiration for your novel strike?

LCH: This book started out quite different than it has turned out. I started writing it as a contemporary romance, but my love for paranormal worked it’s way in. At first I thought I’d base it on post-Christian faerie stories aka Seelie vs Unseelie. I have seen those done many times, so I decided to try going further back in the history of Ireland to when the Tuatha de Danaan were said to rule.

3. I’m also a process geek.  I love it when writers share this aspect of their craft.  What was your process in writing The Forgotten Ones?

LCH: This has been a very unorthodox process, I guess. I started it by writing for myself. I have started and stopped it many times over the past 3 and 1/2 years. But, the characters have stayed with me and I knew when the time was right, the story would be done.

4. What did your novel teach you about yourself as a writer?

LCH: That I need to just write what’s in my head and edit later. This has been very difficult for me, and probably for most writers. Accepting that the first draft isn’t going to be great took a long time for me to come to terms with.

5. What will be happening between now and May 15, 2013?  Flog the writerly goodness that is The Forgotten Ones 🙂

LCH: In two days I’m sending it in to my editor. I have two more revisions planned at this point. The goal is to have Advanced Copies ready by late April, and I have book blog tours in the works.

Well thanks again, Laura 🙂  It’s been a pleasure.  I’m looking foward to May!

Now everyone, hop on over to Finding Bliss, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads and get likin’ 🙂


Spinning the wheel for Chuck Wendig

So … this is my response to a flash fiction challenge posted by Chuck Wendig last Friday.  Through random selection, I got sub-genre: Zombie Apocalypse; conflict: family torn apart; and must include: a forbidden book.

Here’s the result (at exactly 1000 words):

Nothing’s perfect

The first time I’d done more than throw a punch at anyone, I levelled a rusted axe … at my mother’s neck.  Then again, she had just tried to eat me.

What a mind-fuck.  Despite the dire nature of my circumstances, I just couldn’t do it.  I swung the axe a couple of times, half-hearted, backing down the hall.

Then, I turned and ran like all the the demons of hell were on my ass.  Believe me, a zombie-mom qualifies.  I took the stairs at a leap, one hand on the rail.

Mom tumbled down after me.

There was no point staying in the house, fighting a losing battle with a mother, who, though diseased, I refused to kill.  So I’d have to take my chances outside.  Until I found some better place to hole up.

I locked the door behind me, hoping to slow Mom down further.  If she never got out of the house, I wouldn’t complain.  Not only would I not have to kill her then, but nobody else would be able to either.  Zombie or not, she was still my mom and I just couldn’t imagine Justin or Laur—or any of my other friends—taking a baseball bat to her head.  That assumed that none of my friends had been infected.

Stop thinking about this shit.  Just go!

The street appeared empty enough, the odd mail or news carrier shambling along would be easy to evade, but a quick look through the windows, cheerily lit for the evening meal, of the surrounding homes told me that no house on the street could be considered safe.  Even if it was only a smear of blood on the wall, I wasn’t about to take the chance.  Not after I saw Darcy’s dad sink his teeth into his daughter’s arm.  I stopped looking in windows after that.

Skimming along the back fences of the yards, between the property lines, seemed a safe-enough plan and the school a possible destination.  Old Larry, the crazy janitor, should be gone by now and I hoped the security guard had gotten “distracted” on his way in.  Either that, or one of them saw what happened and raised some form of defence.

“Jesus Christ!”  Someone barrelled into me from behind, her scream mingling with my profanity.  Her light blue hoodie stood out in the darkness.  She didn’t try to bite me.  “It’s okay,” I said repeating the words several times, holding onto her shoulders, praying she hadn’t been bit, or lost her shit.

“Andy?” she said.  Not bitten.  Not shitless, but shaking like a Chihuahua.  “It’s really not.  Okay, I mean.”

“Sands?”  Thank God I’m not alone.  “Where’s Justin?”

“I don’t know.”

“Your parents?”

“Dead.  Or undead.  Justin told me to run.  I couldn’t not—God!  They got him, didn’t they?”

“Did you see him get bit?”


“Then he’s not bit.  Where you headed?”

“I don’t know,” she said again.  Calmer, but hopeless now.

“Come with me.”


Sands and I made our way around Barton Hill Secondary, checking doors as we went.  All locked.

“Andy,” she said, voice made strange by the night, “if we see Justin and he’s one of them, you’d kill him, right?”

“I don’t think so.  I could kill my mom even after she … I don’t think so.”

“It’s the right thing to do though, isn’t it?  They wouldn’t want to be … that way.”

I had no clue what she wanted me to say, figured anything I’d say would go wrong.

“I’m not your friend.  You barely know me,” she said.

“No.”  I can’t.  Don’t ask me.

“If something happens, you kill me.”

“No.”  I don’t want to be alone.

Sands opened her mouth to speak again and screamed instead.  I turned and saw Larry running at us with a real axe, one of the shiny, red ones in the cases with the fire extinguishers.   The rusty axe made a hollow ‘thunk’ as it hit the ground.  I followed, landed on my ass and elbows.  Sands screamed again.

Larry lumbered to a stop, grunting, and then smiled like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.  “Perfect,” he said.  “Inside. You’re just what I need.”

Sands knelt beside me, dragging the axe back so she could get a good grip on it.

“Inside.”  Larry pointed to the door.  In the next moment, it opened and Laur poked his head out.

“Get your asses in here.”  He looked again, his eyebrows rose, and he looked back over his shoulder.  “Dieser, it’s your sister and Carsin.”

“Justin?” said Sands.

We scrambled up and ran to the door, Larry watching our backs with the shiny, red axe.

Inside the cafe-torium, Laur led us to a table where Justin, a security guard, and a wide-eyed and shaking woman sat.  Laur and Justin were spattered with blood.

Larry locked the door behind us and joined us.  “Seven’s the number we need to do this thing.”

“What thing?” I said.

“This thing,” said Larry.  He threw something onto the table between us.  A big, musty-smelling book.  He reached between me and Laur, tipped the cover open with his finger, and leafed through the pages.  “There.”

All I saw were a bunch of scrawling letters with a drawing that looked like a zombie.

“What’s it say?” Sands asked.

“Don’t they teach you kids Latin anymore?”  Not even the guard and the woman nodded.  “Jesus … Stole this from my uncle.  Archaeologist, dug up a bunch of old monasteries in France.  Said the church didn’t want to lay claim to this.  I figured it was something special.”

“So?” said Justin.

“It’s magic.  Spells.  This one’s to stop the end of days.”


“The Rapture.  Revelations?  You think the Bible’s all metaphor?  The dead walk.  I’m sure it’s not what the Pope thought it’d be.”  Larry laughed.  “If seven of us say the words, we reset the clock.  The dead go back to being dead and we get back to living.”

“What about our parents?”

“Nothing’s perfect.”


Introduction to Participant-Centered Training Delivery

Or, how I spent last week 🙂

Nothing is more fun than three ring binders.

Nothing is more fun than three ring binders. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So last week I was down in Toronto, the Big Smoke, Hogtown (never figured out why they call it that—oh, my friends Google and Wikipedia have discovered the answer: livestock processing was a big part of Toronto at one time) co-facilitating the Introduction to Participant-Centered Training Delivery (IPCTD) course.

Ostensibly, this is part of my attempt to become certified as a trainer through my employer.  The co-facilitation of this course was listed as a recommendation to anyone going through the process.  I didn’t think I would have this opportunity, having been told in the fall that the delivery of this and all other certification courses was being outsourced.

When the opportunity arose, I could not pass it up.

My co-facilitator and mentor for this part of the journey had just been certified in November herself and part of the purpose of our training together was so that she could give me a few pointers, watch out for those unconscious bad habits of the past.

I’ve blogged about Participant-Centered Training (PCT) before, but just to recap for those of you not interested in reading the whole post:

[In PCT, t]he trainer is merely present to elicit the desired knowledge from the learners, to encourage the appropriate behaviours, and to facilitate the process of discovery that will lead the learners to exhibit the desired performance in the workplace.  It’s no longer about [the trainer] having all the answers, but about being able to help the learners, now active participants in their own learning, find the answers for themselves.

The tag line is: Instead of the “sage on the stage,” be the “guide on the side.”

The course is two and a half days long and includes a practical demonstration by the participants, of the techniques they’ve learned.

Prior to the course, I met virtually with my co-facilitator a couple of times.  We divided up the material so that neither one of us would be leading the class for very long.  I read through the material to refresh my memory (when I took the course as a participant, it was 2009 and the course had subsequently been revised) and made copious notes.  I also brought a second copy of all the manuals, flipcharts, and PowerPoint presentations on a USB.

I travelled down on Tuesday morning and helped my co-facilitator set up the room.  That’s one thing to keep in mind with PCT: it may demand less of the facilitators in the classroom, but it requires much more preparation.  There are usually tonnes (I’m Canadian, eh?) of flip charts, visuals, learning aids, and activities to be set up in order for the session to go as planned.

The facilitators’ manual is critical as it lists times and required elements for each section of the course.  Most PCT courses are crammed full of information, the enrichment materials marked as “optional.”  Most of the time, there is no time to address much of the “optional” material, but every attempt is made to at least refer to it and ensure that the participants have access to those additional references and resources.

The course

The course was designed with a nautical theme and contained four sections: Opening and introduction; Methodologies and techniques; Communication, group building, group management techniques, and co-facilitation skills, with the practical component thrown in for good measure; and the Course closing.

The pre-course materials and assignments were to have been printed out, reviewed, completed, and brought with the participants.

The course opening includes an activity first thing to immediately engage the participants in the topic, review of some of the pre-course materials, expectations, comfort rating, course objective, agenda, participant introductions, and an introduction to PCT.

A note on objectives: prior to getting into PCT myself, I didn’t know the criteria for a good course objective.  A course objective should include performance, process, and standard or method of evaluation.

Examples: By the end of this course, you will be able to build a bird house using the bird house building instructions so that the result will meet the criteria described in the bird house schematic.

Or: By the end of this course, you will learn how to process an application, using the application policy, such that you will be able to achieve our 80% quality assurance goal on the simulation test.

Or: By the end of this course, you will be able to use Microsoft Word, in accordance with the Microsoft Word for Dummies Tip Sheet, so that you will be able to create documents for your employer more efficiently and confidently.

And yes, the standard or method of evaluation can be the participant’s own comfort level.

The methodologies and techniques section deals with the different PCT methods of delivery and the specific techniques, or activities that can be used to effectively engage participants.

The next section is the big one.  Communication skills, group building, group management, and co-facilitation are all covered, and then the participants are divided into groups, assigned a topic, and given an hour and a half to work on a 20 minute presentation in which they will demonstrate the skills, methods, and techniques they have learned.

The closing section revisits much of the material presented in the opening to answer the following questions:  Did we meet the course objective and participant expectations?  Do the participants feel they have learned valuable tools that they will take back to their jobs?  Review and transfer strategies are also incorporated.

Throughout the course, the co-facilitators are actively demonstrating all of the skills that we teach.  That’s another difficult aspect of adopting PCT: developing your awareness.  Though PCT takes the pressure off the facilitators to be the “talking head” or subject-matter expert, they have to be aware of everything that’s happening in the class: the participants’ attitudes, changing levels of engagement, the environment, and their own behaviours.

If you’ve done any training in a traditional environment, it’s essentially lecture.  Students sit there like baby birds waiting for their meal to be shoved down their throats.  This establishes some habits that have to be consciously broken when the trainer moves to PCT.

Questioning techniques are paramount.  Relays and overheads fly and form the foundation of debriefing every activity and conducting every review.  Knowledge must be drawn out of the participants, not fed to them.

This can be demanding, especially for someone like myself.  Though I enjoy training and think that I am good at it, I am, at my core, a shy person, and more fond of information than of social interaction.  This makes delivering training an exhausting activity for me.  I’ve noticed that even in the last six months that my tolerance seems to have decreased.  The need to retreat at the end of the day is nigh on irresistible.

Despite this, my co-facilitator said that after the first day, she didn’t notice any bad habits or poor behaviours on my part.  I was a little too fond of the closed questions at the start.  We worked well together and delivered a course that was well-received by the participants.

I won’t be able to review the assessments for a while yet, but there was nothing but compliments flying about the room that last day.

So that’s the Learning Mutt’s adventure for this week.  Tomorrow, I’m heading out of town again and we’ll see if the life of a training coordinator will provide any more fodder for Writerly Goodness in the future 🙂

Next weekend, look forward to an interview with Laura Conant Howard in conjunction with her cover reveal blitz for the upcoming The Forgotten Ones, another pupdate, and, if I have the gumption, my review of the Galaxy Note II as the smart phone writers want 🙂

Goodnight everyone!

Sunday night line up: Once Upon a Time; Beauty and the Beast; and Lost Girl 🙂

The next chapter

Have desk, will write

Have desk, will write (Photo credit: Bright Meadow)

Today, I’m going to share some of what’s happening next with my work in progress (WIP).

Early in the life of Writerly Goodness, I blogged regularly about my WIP, from its origins, through various drafts, to the lessons the whole process taught me.  I also blogged my character sketches and world-building fairly extensively.  I’ve been a little quiet on the subject in recent months however.

The reason for this is that I have been focusing on the revision of my latest draft, and in keeping with my reasonable and malleable goals for the new year, I have now finished that work (to the degree I am currently able) and have sent my manuscript for a content edit.

This is scary.

Why?  Because it means that I’m taking this whole process seriously.  I’m getting closer to perfecting Initiate of Stone for submission and/or publication.

Given the responses I’ve gotten from various writerly authority figures in my early life, my internal editor is very well-versed in the whole “what the hell do you think you’re doing/you can’t write/your ideas are crap/your writing is puerile/you’ll never make it” brand of advice.  I’ve had to tame that beast and try to get over it.

But … there’s still this voice in my head that says: “but what if this investment (the content edit) backfires?”  What if the result is the confirmation of all my worst fears and neuroses?

I can’t think about that.  So, while I wait to hear back from the editor, I’m moving on.

What’s up, buttercup?

First, I’m going to make a few submissions of short stories.

I’m revising one for submission to an SF magazine, which I will have to do this weekend.

I’m going to participate in a few flash fiction challenges.

I’m also going to aim for a couple of anthology submissions:

  • Sword and Mythos – January 15-February 15, 2013
  • Tesseracts 17 – February 28, 2013
  • Plus, I’m going to keep my eye out for the open reading period for Fearful Symmetries.  I don’t know if I’ll have anything appropriate for the publication, but I’ll certainly give it a try.

Second, I’m going to move on to a new novel.  As of my last writing on the subject, I hadn’t decided what.  The logical next step would be the second novel in the Ascension series, Apprentice of Wind.  I’m thinking that something completely different might be in order though.

So just to give me a complete break from Ferathainn for a while, I’m going to tackle Gerod and the Lions.  I’m just going to leave you with the title for now and I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

Finally, I’m getting back to work on my critiquing.  I’ve been inactive on this front for a while, again because I’ve been focusing on my novel, but I’m waaaaaay overdue in this department and I have to get back into it.

This will have to wait one more week, in the event, because I’m traveling for the day-job again.  My apologies to my peers.  Zombie Mel will return from the land of the critiquing dead, just not quite yet.

Set yourself up for success

The deal here is that if you are progressing on one project, but not actively working on it,

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

you may need to pick something else up.  Take on a new challenge.  Keep honing your craft.  Get over your bad self.

Now this is not something you might just choose to do while waiting to hear back from your beta-readers or an editor.  You could be querying, or trying to get your self-publishing ducks in a row.  Keep in touch with your creativity.  A writer writes above all else.

Some people may think that juggling projects is a bad idea.  They want to see one project through from beginning to end and believe that they can’t divide their attention with another novel.

There are going to be those fallow times though, and I’m not just talking about those times when you have to “get distance” from your novel between drafts, when you might want to do something non-writing related (I’ve done home reno projects, or some other form of artistic expression for this, drawing, pottery, or taking part in a play).

I’m not talking about keeping your creative reserves replenished with reading and movies and creative dates either.

I’m talking about those times when you’re waiting.  Fill up those fallow times with new creative projects so you don’t stall out entirely.  Don’t let your muse get lazy.  Keep him, her, or it, active and healthy.

This is just my opinion.  In no way am I suggesting that this approach is the only one.  It’s just the strategy that I’m using, and that I’ve seen other successful authors use.

How do you fill up your fallow times?  How do you manage your writing projects?  Do you work multiple ones at the same time, or focus on a single project until it’s completed?  Do share 🙂

The pupdate: Nuala’s ACL saga continues

When I first mentioned Nuala’s troubles, I indicated that if she didn’t improve over the holidays, that she’d be going in to Lockerby Animal Hospital for a full assessment.

This happened last Thursday, January 3, 2013.

The snow-nosian pupPhil and I took Nuala into the veterinarian in the morning and would pick her up after work.  During the day, she would be lightly sedated, a proper assessment of the ACL injury performed, and then some x-rays taken t see if any subsequent joint damage occurred.

As an unexpected bonus, they also trimmed Nu’s nails and scraped the tartar back on her teeth 🙂  due to the injury, we decided not to take her in for her regular grooming (we call it her spa day).  I’m recommitting to a regular dental care regime for my girl now.

After work, we met with Dr. Wilkinson with no little bit of trepidation.  Upon our last visit, Chad had said that if Nu needed surgery, that she’d likely have to go to Ottawa.  This presented problems for Phil and I because we don’t have the leave to take a week off and see Nu to her surgery.  Further, Nu doesn’t travel well and a six-hour car ride on either side of surgery would be untenable.

The verdict now: Nu’s ACL is indeed ruptured.  Chad figured it occurred over the holidays because her symptoms were much more pronounced now than they were before.

Surprisingly, the x-rays revealed that Nu’s hips were just fine 🙂

Phil and I explained our issues with traveling to Ottawa, and Chad provided a local solution, one Dr. Hoscheit, but time was of the essence, as the good doctor would be leaving his practice at the end of February.

Referral in hand, we hurried home and discussed how we would proceed.

On Friday, Phil made the call to Dr. Hoscheit and we waited for an appointment.  At 9:30 am on Saturday, the call came and we could be fit in at 12:20 for an initial consult.  We’d have to act quickly, as Dr. Hoscheit prefers to see a patient post-surgically for up to 2 months after.

At the appointment, Dr. Hoscheit made his own assessment of Nu, and afterward discussed options.  One of the procedures, a TTA, or tibial tuberosity advancement, was a possibility, but Dr. Hoscheit recommended a tightrope procedure instead.  He said that for a dog of Nu’s size and age, that the procedure had the potential to be much more successful than a TTA.

He would be able to proceed as soon as he ordered more tightrope material.  He hadn’t anticipated being able to complete another procedure before leaving the practice.

In the meantime, Phil will have to get the x-rays from Dr. Wilkinson as well as Nu’s blood test results, and bring Nu in for a pre-surgical blood test on Tuesday.  Unfortunately, I’ll be out of town and this will all be on Phil.  Fortunately, my mom has agreed to pick up the x-rays and lab results so that Phil will just have to come home, pick up Nu, and get her to Dr. Hoscheit’s in time for her 6:45 appointment.

So that’s how things are looking for the moment.

I think it’s a much more positive situation than we had expected and so both Phil and I are happy, relatively speaking.  We’re very grateful that the doctor has agreed to fit us in before his departure.

So that, for now, is the pupdate.

I <3 my blog: the beginning

I’ve enjoyed Khara House’s challenges before.  Her October submit-o-rama was a hit 🙂

Khara HouseKhara’s really good at sussing out what her community might need and delivering it while playing to her strengths.

January is I ❤ my blog month and it’s not going to be a challenge in which everyone is dashing helter skelter to get a bunch of stuff done.  It’s going to be a gentle, thoughtful reintroduction to your blog and the reasons you started it in the first place.  It’s meant to reignite your passion for your blog and get you back on track.

I first met Khara in Robert Lee Brewer’s April Platform challenge and that was a task-a-day, whip your butt into shape kind of challenge.  A lot of us struggled to keep up, but Khara was way out in the leader-pack, showing the way.

So I’m back.

The “assignment” for week one was about developing a blogging schedule.  Now I had one.  When I started off, I was posting 6 days a week, then I dropped to five, then four … you get the idea.  In September, I hit the burnout phase.  I was trying to do too many different things and I just couldn’t keep up with the posting on a regular basis anymore.  It felt like a chore.

So I deleted my blogging schedule page and defaulted to posting when I wanted to/had the time/had something to say.  Sometimes that was several times in the course of a week.  Sometimes it wasn’t at all.

So now, in addition to being back with a Khara House challenge, my blogging schedule will be back.

It’s going to be basic.  Something I can manage given working and writing and critiquing (which I’m getting back to shortly).  What I’ve hit on, is a weekend blog-for-all 🙂

Lemme ‘splain: I figure that blogging once a week will fit into my schedule and if nothing else, I’ll post on Saturdays.  But … if it’s been a particularly inspirational week, I’m going to blog on Sundays too, and if a whole lot is happening, I might blog more than once a day.

So it’s a bloggin’ free-for-all, or a weekend blog-for-all.

Hope you like it, ‘cause it’s what you’re gonna get!

What a lovely way to start the New Year!

sunshineawardHey y’all!  Jay Morris of The Wayward Journey nominated Writerly Goodness for the Sunshine Award 🙂  As Jay says in his post, it was the result one of his resolutions: to encourage other bloggers and foster community online.  I think that’s a worthy goal.

First, thanks!  It’s nice to be recognized by your fellow bloggers.

Second, here are the rules:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  2. Post the award image to your page.
  3. Tell seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 10 other blogs.
  5. Let them know they are nominated.

Numbers 1 and 2 are already taken care of, so without further ado, here are seven facts about me:

  1. I’m a writing geek (really?).  That is, I love words, grammar (yes, grammar), and the whole shebang.  I get excited when I write; I don’t even have to be writing particularly well.  Writing is my friend, therapist, and spiritual practice rolled into one.
  2. I’ve been married for eighteen and a half years to a wonderful man.  Phil’s my BFF, inspirator (conspirator in inspiration), and makes me laugh my hoop off at least once a day.  Yup.  I’m hoopless 😀
  3. I haven’t taken down the Christmas decorations yet, in violation of the standing practice to pack them away January 1st.  Maybe I’ll get to it by Ukrainian Christmas?  Sadly doubtful.  Before the end of January though, for sure.
  4. I need to know the rules, but often, once I’ve figured them out, I find my own way forward.
  5. I think my Mom is a “cool mom.”
  6. I’m terrible at traditional correspondence.  I have a friend who, without fail, sends birthday, anniversary, occasional, and sometimes just-for-the-heck-of-it cards.  I always get a postcard from her on every vacation.  I admire, and secretly envy, this friend 🙂
  7. After work, I transform into “comfort woman.” She’s a strange creature, who wears flannel and sits at her computer all night … writing, yeah, that’s it … writing.

Now, here are my ma-nominations (doo-doo-da-doo-doo!).  Yes, I’m a Muppet maniac 🙂

  1. Laura Conant Howard – Finding Bliss  Fantastic site with all kinds of interviews and book features.  Her new book, The Forgotten Ones, is coming out soon!  Also follow Laura on FB and Twitter.  She will often share when good books are on special – bonus!
  2. Khara House – Our Lost Jungle  Khara is fabulous, and so is her site.  She has led several great challenges over the past year that have kept me motivated.  Her current: I ❤ my blog.  Yup.  I’m in it.
  3. Karen Woodward  Karen is a prolific blogger and has a variety of good advice to offer.
  4. Kim Fahner – The Republic of Poetry  Kim is a poet and a teacher, and waxes lyrical on many topics.  Just love her 🙂
  5. Vikki Thompson – The View Outside  Vikki invites us to follow along on her writing journey.  There’s always something interesting going on at The View Outside 🙂
  6. Sarah Rios – Riosfan  Sarah is hilarious!  Become her minion on G+ too and get all the fangrrl goods 🙂
  7. Lara Britt – Writing Space  Lara is a working writer in Hawaii.  What a wonderful place to be 🙂
  8. Claudia Karabaic Sargent – CKSWarriorQueen  Another one of my Wordsmith Studio connections (as are Lara B, Lara S, and Khara).
  9. Lara Schiffbauer – Motivation for Creation  Her Funny Friday Photos are always a hoot and I love feeding her fish 🙂  Also, check out her book Finding Meara.
  10. Brian Braden  Brian’s WIP, Black Sea Gods is moving toward publication.  He’s been supportive of my project and I just want to return the favour 🙂

There were a lot of blogs that I wanted to feature.  If yours isn’t in here, I mean no disrespect.

TTFN blogging buds 🙂

I’ll be back tomorrow with I ❤ my blog, and the Pupdate 🙂