Muse-inks: Gittin’ ‘er done

I’m writing again, slowly building back up. I probably won’t write today because the weekend has gotten away from me and the Sudbury Writers’ Guild Newsletter is due. But it feels good to be getting words on the page.

At work, we’re almost at the end of the fiscal year and so somethings have settled down. Our problematic pay system is still problematic, but our employer has agreed to hold off on the collection of overpayments until all underpayments have first been issued. The union fought hard for the concession and I’m grateful, not so much for myself, though I have been affected, but for all the employees less fortunate than me facing huge overpayments or underpayments.

It’s a serious situation. On one hand, some employees haven’t been able to pay their mortgages and loans. Some haven’t been able to pay rent or for day care. On the other hand, employees are delaying retirement, or turning down promotions because they fear that their pay will be stopped, as has happened to other employees.

Progress is being made, but it’s slow, and for some, it’s already too late.

Phil’s work situation hasn’t improved. The promise of help isn’t materializing and he’s still facing a number of deadlines that he can’t meet on his own. It’s just not possible, and though consequences are continually threatened, no one is willing to explain exactly what those consequences are.

We aren’t really in the financial situation to allow Phil to retire, and he’s not willing to take a stress leave, though things are bad enough that he has considered it.

It’s incredibly frustrating and Phil can’t help but bring it all home. Our crazy bout of cold/flu (we’re heading into week three and it’s not just cough and congestion—aches, weakness, and nausea have joined the party) hasn’t helped.

Several my colleagues at work have been stricken. It’s not fun.

Torvi was spayed, chipped, and got her final vaccines this past week. With those procedures done, she’s officially transferred from the rescue’s ownership to ours. She was sent home with three days of Metacam and Trazodone (that’s an anti-anxiety med) to keep her calm. That course of treatment is now complete, and the Torvi-beast is back to her old, pugilistic self.

Dr. Andrews did a fabulous job. The stitches are internal and dissolving. I wasn’t able to get a decent picture of that, but here’s her intravenous site, fully healed. Trust me, her incision looks just as good. And, I took another picture of her in a rare, calm moment.

I’ve signed us up for beginner obedience starting this coming Thursday for ten weeks.

I hope that our Torvi stresses (relatively minor as they are) will soon be at an end.


The orchids continue to cheer me with their bloomage.

And that’s been a week in this writer’s life.

I hope y’all had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day and that the spring equinox brings some light back into your lives.

And now, it’s on to the newsletter!

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.



Muse-inks: Sick away and figuring out where the stirrup is

This past week, I spent most of it out of town at a learning event for work. I carpooled with three of my colleagues, none of whom drive. The rental agency gave me a Ford Expedition, which I appreciated on the winter highways, but not so much in the parking garages of North York and Richmond Hill.

The hotel we stayed at was driving distance and we had to find parking at the office every morning. The mornings weren’t so bad. It was travelling down Tuesday and trying to find parking around noon that was the challenge. I levelled up my large vehicle driving skills, though.

And, as I mentioned last week, I had a cold the whole time. Being sick away is exhausting. I still have the dregs, but I’m in recovery.

Phil was not so lucky. I shared my illen with him prior to my departure and, as he texted me on Tuesday, “the man cold dialled up to eleven.” He’s still quite sick, but he’s determined to go back to work tomorrow because of the difficulties I’ve mentioned in past posts.

Torvi was quite good for him through the week but, because he was sick, Phil shipped her over to my mom’s most days, so he could stay in bed. Torvi destroyed Mom’s welcome mat, two hats, and she’s had to move the hall tree (an antique) into the basement and close the door. Torvi was jumping on it and threatened to tip it over.

Once Torvi is spayed and has her final vaccines, I’m definitely investing in obedience training.

While I was down south, because I was sick and on call for driving duties, I didn’t really have a lot of time to devote to creativity. I generally tackled essential duties, like curation, and went to bed early.

I let things slide Friday night after my return and caught up yesterday, though I was obliged to have not one, but two, naps yesterday. I should be fit to return to work tomorrow as well, though.

I did write a little bit in the last week, however. Sunday and Monday nights, I was able to commit a few words to Playing with Fire, and on Thursday night, I wrote a few more. Yay me 🙂

This is where “figuring out where the stirrup is” comes in. I’m ready to get back on the writing horse again, but the first step is to figure out where the stirrup is. One can’t get back in the saddle until one finds the stirrup. Not everyone has the ability to vault onto the horse and ride bareback 😉

I suppose I could have extended the metaphor to saddling the horse and tightening the girth, but the horse has been saddled and waiting for me since I started to think about PwF again. I think I’ll leave the equine metaphor there for now.

This morning we lost an hour. Daylight savings time is another challenging time of year for me. It usually takes me a week to properly adjust my sleeping and waking habits. I’m hoping my naps yesterday helped. We are creeping closer to the vernal equinox, though, and spring. It’s lighter in the mornings and the quality of the light is changing as the earth shifts on its seasonal axis. My mood is improving.

I also have my follow up appointment with my gynecologist for the ablation this week. So far, I have experienced two very light periods and I have stopped discharging in between. I’m seeing it as a good sign and have stopped taking my iron supplements. I’m going to let my body adjust to its new normal and hope that I don’t get anemic again. The blood tests will tell the tale, though.

I’ve also lost about twenty pounds since last fall. It’s mostly been due to Torvi and my increased level of activity from walking, caring, and playing with her. I weighed the Torvi-beast this morning, BTW … She’s 48 pounds (!)

I have hope that this cold was just a stress thing and that my recovery heralds an overall improvement in my health. There’s still Phil’s uncertain work situation and my ongoing pay difficulties that have to be overcome. Those were the stressors that helped to make both of us vulnerable and until we both have solutions in place, I anticipate that we will continue to face a few challenges.

My critique group has, after a delay due to various members moving and adjusting to life in new time zones, started up. This is another good thing.


And … my orchids are in flowering mode again!

I’m going to be taking some time in the next week to try to refocus and organize my life again. I have been in denial that I could take on pup parenthood and that I could still devote the same kind of time to everything else in my life.

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, something’s gotta give. I don’t want that something to be my writing anymore and it can’t be Phil, Torvi, or the rest of my family. Fiscal necessity means it can’t be the day job, at least not in the short term.

What does that leave? That’s where things get interesting and that’s where my efforts will focus for the foreseeable.

All these things are first world problems, though. That is to say, they’re not really weighty problems in the bigger scheme of things. I have to keep things in perspective and hope I’m not whinging too much.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.


Muse-inks: Hanging in there

Another week has passed without a single word being written on my WIP. There. I wrote it down. It must be true.

Things at work continue to be stressful. The latest, poor feedback on the training I did a couple of weeks ago has resulted in an additional workshop, hastily pulled together, which only five of the eleven participants are taking part in. If it was that much of an issue, I’m sure all of them would have signed on.

Admittedly, two of them did withdraw from the mentoring phase of training and returned to their normal duties and one returned to his specialized unit where he had already been doing most of what we were delivering the training on, but still. Eight people should have signed on.

It’s the reactionary nature of my employer, though. So, I’ll do what I’ve been asked to do.

And then, I’m heading out of town for most of a week for an in-person team meeting, leaving Phil and my mom to deal with what I expect to be a very upset Torvi. This will be the first time I’ve been away overnight, or for more than a day.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to get much writing done over the next couple of weeks, either.

Things should ease off after that, though.

I signed up for Jennifer Louden’s Get back to Creating workshop, though, and while I didn’t participate, I did watch the videos and garnered some tips for when I’ll be ready to use them.

And I have been thinking about Playing with Fire in the last week. That’s something.

Phil’s work troubles aren’t quite at an end yet, either. Again, progress is being made, enough for Phil to feel comfortable taking a few days off, but it’s a slow process and new crises seem to pop up on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, Phil took Friday off to deal with a leak in the basement. It’s been warm (above zero degrees Celsius) and rainy in the last week or so. A fair amount of freezing rain as well. He’s waiting for the next deluge to see if his repairs will address the problem. If not, he may be obliged to rent a jackhammer and install some weeping tile inside the basement (below the concrete) to divert the water to the sump pump, which has, interestingly enough, remained dry the whole time.

This has, of course, meant, that while the basement is once more in disarray, it is forbidden to Torvi. Just a week after having opened it up to her, we’ve had to deny her access. It’s been a challenge. She doesn’t understand 😦

Torvi Tales (Tails?)

A couple of things have happened in the last week that have been amusing.

One night, after she’d settled down, Torvi was sleeping on her back, which she still often does, propped against my legs as I worked at my standing desk. Without warning, or my human ears detecting any noise, Torvi flips over with a thump and charges for the front of the house, barking like mad.

It was enough to get Phil up from downstairs.

I think she was dreaming.

With all the freezing rain, just getting Torvi out to do her business is a challenge. The first day, she was sliding down the driveway (her favourite place to do number one) while she peed. The look on her face was priceless.

She hasn’t attempted to pee in the driveway since, though. It’s meant an increase in accidents indoors. With a week of above-zero daytime temperatures and freezing overnight, I don’t anticipate remediation in the short term.

But, she’s our sweetie.

And here she is, challenging Mommy to play.

The current list of Torvi’s nicknames: Torv, the Torvster, Torvina, Torvi-adore (like toreador, and yes, I sometimes hum Tosca to her), turkey-Torvi (cause she can be), sweetie, sweet pea, love/my love/little love, lovey-bum, fuzzy butt, puppy love, wee one (we call all of our dogs that), and Phil has come up with an elaborate one … Torvi Consuela Josephine. Don’t ask me why. He can’t even explain where the impulse came from.

So that is the weekly update.

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.


Muse-Inks: Honouring my reality

So … this past week was a week of delivering training at work.

Day one, I felt obliged to nap after supper. And I don’t nap. Generally, I might lay down, but I don’t sleep. As a result, I don’t even bother getting prone most of the time. But I was bushed. I went to bed at 8 pm and woke up just after 10 pm.

During the day, the participants, all of whom work earlier shifts, asked for the training to shift to an earlier time, as well. Remember that meme? I’m not an night owl. I’m not an early bird. I’m some kind of permanently exhausted pigeon? Yeah.

For the rest of the week, I decided to nap when I got home so Phil could wake me up for supper. Well, Torvi had something to say about that and I didn’t end up getting any quality rest.

Needless to say, I went into maintenance mode. I dealt with my daily curation tasks for my weekly curation posts as quickly as possible, and then relaxed for the rest of the evening.

That’s right. I didn’t write a word on my novel all week.

And I probably won’t write a word this weekend, either. I have a friend coming in from out of town that I’d much rather visit with. I have a deadline for the Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter I have to meet. Priorities.

I’ve had to fight a certain amount of guilt over not writing. But I haven’t felt the burning desire to get back to the page, either. The last time I took a purposeful break, I was immediately thinking about what I would be writing. Even though I’d stopped writing, my creative brain was still immersed in the project and when I returned to the project, I was working at full steam.

That hasn’t happened this time.

What this means is that I’ll probably be drafting Playing with Fire into April. So be it.

This is my reality at the moment. I have to honour what’s happening in my life, make choices, and live with the results. I will be adjusting my goals accordingly.

In other news …

Things continue to improve, in small increments, for Phil at work. He’s felt motivated enough to clean up the basement so Torvi can go down there and spend time with him if she wants.

Today was the first time we coaxed Torvi down into the basement. I have a couple of old pillows I took down there for a dog bed (until Phil buys another one) and a few toys. It’s been a bit of a stressful afternoon. Torvi doesn’t like change. She’s been constantly running the stairs and whining. It was to the point that we couldn’t tell when she was asking to go out. But there were no accidents. I’m counting it a win.

She’s also making progress with controlling her excitement when meeting people. She still jumps and freaks out, but if we get visitors to ignore her, she settles quickly. We’ll see how it works with our guests tonight.


I weighed her last week. She’s 42 pounds. Woof! Here she is, waiting for Phil to come home, and NOT destroying footwear (!) Another win.


And she’s starting to lose her puppy teeth. I know, it’s kind of gross, but if I find them, I save them. I still have some of Nuala’s teeth.

And that’s all the news for the week.

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kinds, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.


Muse-inks: Treading water

Hello again, writerly peeps.

I’ve really been too ambitious in my goals this year, in every aspect.

I forget to account for age.

Every year that passes alters my ability to be productive. Part of the problem is that I don’t pay attention to age. I’ve never felt the typical crises that some of my friends and family have experienced. 25, 30, 40, these milestones have passed me without much notice or angst.

But, as I age, my physical and mental health have changed. I feel more aches and pains, my anxiety and depression have influenced me differently, and my hormones are wreaking havoc.

I think that I take these things into account, modifying my goals to accomplish less, or take longer to meet a goal. Then I have a procedure—yes, I knew about it in advance, but not so far in advance that I was able to account for it in my annual planning—and it throws things out of whack. I’m not great at sudden course correction. It takes time for me to adjust.

I forget to account for changing circumstances.

When Phil and I adopted our first puppy, Zoe, I had just gotten my MA from the University of Windsor and had just finished a one-semester contract with the Cambrian College Library. I was newly unemployed and able to devote my complete attention to Zoe’s care and training.

We’d previously had cats, rats, budgies, and fish, all animals that don’t require as much time and attention.

Zoe was with us for five years, during which time I’d started to work for my current employer, but in a different position than I currently work, and part-time.

After two years, we adopted Nuala. I was still working part-time, and I was still able to devote a lot of time to Nu. I also hadn’t yet found my way to a regular writing practice. By the time I started working full-time, and writing regularly, Nu was two years old and was able to adapt to the change with no adverse behavioural results. Both of my parents were around and took care of Nu while we worked. They could get out and do what they wanted, as well. Nuala was very good when left alone. She didn’t enjoy it, but she wasn’t destructive.

Nuala was with us for ten years, and we again waited for two years to look at adoption again.

With Torvi, while I was able to take a six week leave, I’m generally working full-time, as is Phil. My dad passed away during Nuala’s time with us and now my mom takes care of her during the day alone.

Torvi’s training and raising has had to be shared between Phil, me, and Mom, with assistance from Phil’s mom and a family friend. This generally means that we’re, all of us, tied to home. We haven’t felt that we can leave Torvi completely alone yet, and so my mom’s given up her volunteering, for the most part, we haven’t gone out together, even to dinner, and it’s made for some stir crazy among Torvi’s three primary caretakers.

The big test coming up is my impending trip to Toronto in March. I hope Phil survives.

Phil’s also been having some challenges with his employment, which I’m not at liberty to share. It’s not my story. But it’s meant that he’s had additional pressures on him and he hasn’t been as able to deal with the bitey beast.

So, our household has been in a bit of a mess.

Torvi’s been making progress, but we got her younger than any other pup, and she’s so much larger—she’s already the size of Zoe when she was full grown—that it’s been quite challenging to teach her the behaviour we want her to exhibit.

Verbal reprimands are interpreted as invitations to play. She will do what we ask for kibs or other treats, but only then. She’s still so excited when people return, or when she meets new people, we practically have to sit on her to keep her down. She’s strong. Our morning walks are decent, but the time will soon arrive when I won’t be able to use the harness anymore. She’ll be able to haul me around if something freaks her out or catches her fancy. Our training sessions with the Halti have so far not been successful.

It’s all a work in progress. Eventually, we know she will become the dog we’re training her to be, but experience tells us that time won’t arrive for a year to eighteen months.

The result of all this is that I’m not getting as much writing done as I’d hoped.

I’m dealing with it. As one of my writing mentors, Gabriela Pereira says, I have to honour my reality. Things are what they are. I have to accept that there are going to be more days than not that I can’t accomplish what I’d hoped to. Eventually, our situation will improve.

Here she is, “helping Grandma with the laundry.” The bottle was empty, headed for the recycling bin. And yes, I took it away from her before she got at its scant contents. It was just a cute moment I had to capture. Also notice the new, heavy-duty harness. The white stitching is reflective for safety.

Already, Phil’s employer is taking action to improve his circumstances, but it’s not going to be a quick fix, and, as with any complex situation, things will get worse before they get better. There is now the hope that they will get better, though.

With that pressure eased, and Torvi’s continued improvement, we plan to take back our lives to some degree. Phil’s slowly cleaning up the basement, which, because his main hobby involves computers as well as his job, was a mine field of hazardous materials. We’re going to give her more of a run of the house. We’re going to try going out to dinner and see what kind of destruction she causes.

Once Torvi has her final vaccinations, I’m going to start taking her out to places where I can give her a bit of a run, or at least a long enough walk that she’ll get her “ya-ya’s” out. I’m going to start taking her places in the car—short trips at first, then gradually longer ones—so we can overcome her motion sickness.

But each stage is going to be an adjustment. Each change will present new challenges. My goals will have to be amended accordingly. And I’m going to have to become more agile again, something that becomes more difficult with each passing year.

Winter is also a hard time for me. I want to hibernate, like a bear, and wake up when spring arrives.

These are all parts of my current reality that I have to recognize and honour.

I’m working on it. In the meantime, I’m treading water. Endurance, I have 🙂

Until the next time I blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.


Muse-inks: Health and wellbeing

Trigger warning: I’m going to discuss feminine health in this post. If that makes you squeamish, you may want to skip this one.

So … I’ve been mentioning for a few weeks now that I had an upcoming procedure. Well, I had the procedure on Monday (Jan 22) and all went well.

The procedure was an ablation. I’ll let those of you who don’t know what that is look it up on your own.

I’m perimenopausal, and since I turned 40, my periods have been getting worse in terms of flow and pain. For the last three years, I’ve been anemic and on iron supplements. 2016 was a very bad year with one period (onset to onset) of 15 days. Yup. I think I stopped bleeding for two or three days before I started up again. That was followed by an epic 25-day bleed (35-day cycle) replete with three two-day episodes of what I’ve lovingly come to call endometrial slugs.

A friend of mine called them blood babies but … babies are cute. These things are not. I think endometrial slugs is a far more descriptive and apt phrase for them.

Hormones don’t work for me (believe me, I’ve tried them all) and so that wasn’t a solution. Being on the pill has generally worsened my mental health and that’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice for the sake of a “happy” period.

After that hellish end to 2016, I called my doctor, got an appointment, got a referral, and was put on the list for ablation as of March last year. Yes, it takes that long for surgeries considered elective to be scheduled, particularly when surgical times for gynecological procedures are cut. I still love our health care system, but there’s room for improvement.

Last weekend, I was nervous. I also have a condition called malignant hyperthermia. I’ll let you look that one up, too.

Suffice it to say, I can’t have regular anaesthetic. If I do, it could set off a hyperthermic reaction in my muscles, including my heart and intercostals, causing them to seize. MH is a fairly new condition and is thought to explain a lot of mysterious operating table deaths due to cardiac arrest in patients who were otherwise healthy.

Don’t worry, there are special anaesthetics they can use for me, but that means I have to be the first operation of the day because there can’t be a trace of other anaesthetics in the system. Everything must be flushed in preparation. It was a very early morning for this permanently exhausted pigeon.

But it all went well. Everyone was well-aware of my MH and every precaution was taken. They had to keep me for four hours post-operatively to be sure that my temperature wasn’t spiking. I’ve been feeling warm through the week, but not feverish. Though it’s been years since my last operation, I seem to remember that happening. Nothing unusual. But it’s good that I’ve had the week off work. Just to be sure.

The best outcome of ablation is the complete cessation of bleeding. This is what I hope for but am too realistic to expect. Any improvement will be welcome. I’m of an age where, by the time the beneficial effects of the ablation fade, I should be in full menopause.

I don’t want to be anemic, and therefore exhausted, anymore. I don’t want to take prescription medication to deal with the pain of menses. I don’t want to have to take days off work because, even with the most absorbent feminine protection, I still bleed through and ruin clothes.

I’m looking for an improvement in my quality of life.

Bonus pupdate

Torvi turned four months yesterday (Jan 26) and is now 35 pounds. She’s slowly coming around. Mornings are particularly good. She’s all cuddly and sweet when she’s sleepy 🙂

There’s still the odd accident in the house. Phil and I haven’t figured out her signals yet but, overall, Torvi’s doing as well as you’d expect a four-month-old puppy to do.

The shepherd “saddle” is becoming more pronounced, but her fur is still so soft. Some of her nails have grown in black (most are white) and her white socks are becoming speckled with brown. Her buttery puppy belly is slowly furring over.


Last night the power went out three times. We had tuna sandwiches for our candlelit supper.

I’ve had to pause in writing this post twice to take Torvi out. The first time, thin cloud veiled the gibbous moon. The second time, the sky was clear, and I could see Orion hanging out just below the moon.

Overall, life is good.

Until my next blog, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.


Muse-inks: SAD and pupdate

AKA, Another week in the writerly life.

I seem to write about this every year: seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Winter up here is northeastern Ontario is a dark season. It’s not as dark as the communities further north, but the sun doesn’t rise until after we go to work in the mornings and it sets about the time we come home.

My new desk at work (moved in the spring of last year) had lovely, large windows, but many days are overcast. My usual level of tired, driven by anemia and hormones and neurotransmitters, is exaggerated by the low levels of light.

I’ve mentioned in a past post that the snow came early this winter. Or rather it came on time. The previous two years, we had green Christmases. When the snow arrived in early November, it was followed by bitter cold, then unseasonably warm. It’s been vacillating between the two extremes since. It’s been a brutal season for colds and flu. I’m so glad I got my flu shot early.

When I was young, I was an early bird. Up at 6 am without a complaint, but I’d fall asleep any time after 10 pm. I remember one late dinner after several hours of travel during which I could not keep my eyes open. Now … I drag myself out of bed with difficulty in the morning. Everything takes longer because I’m fighting to keep my eyes open. As a consequence, I’m usually writing later into the night.

This past week, I’ve generally gone to bed around midnight and still had to get up early, so I could walk Torvi before breakfast and heading to work.

I feel like that meme: I’m not an early bird or a night hawk; I’m some kind of permanently exhausted pigeon.

In other health-related news, I’m going to be off work this week due to a medical procedure I’ve been waiting for since last March. I’m hopeful that it will improve my quality of life, but nervous because it means anaesthetic.

Due to another condition, I can’t have regular anaesthetics. My surgery is booked first thing so that the special anaesthetic I can have can be used before the systems are contaminated with other anaesthetics. It means an even earlier day. I’ll get to catch up on my sleep later, though.

Onto the pupdate.


Last week, Torvi had what we can only conclude was a case of the new dog flu that’s supposed to be going around. We have no idea where she picked it up, but she was splitty for three days. No parasites, no blood, no vomiting. She continued to eat and drink as normal. She wasn’t dehydrated. She hadn’t gotten into anything that could have cause her to be sick. She didn’t have anything to eat that she hadn’t had in the last couple of months.

We sorted things by restricting her food and administering a puppy-appropriate dose of Pepto-Bismol. Since then, she’s been fine and no signs of a resurgence.

That’s all for this week.

Be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.


Muse-inks: A week in this writer’s life

The beginning of 2018 is proving to be a challenge.

At my day job, were heading into a busy quarter. Training and monitoring and an in-person team learning event.

The medical procedure I’ve been waiting for since last March has finally been scheduled for the week after next.

Torvi continues to improve, but she’s still a (32 pound!) puppy and Phil and I and my mom, who watches Torvi weekdays while we work, have had our hands full. We’re still getting used to the continual disruptions life with a puppy requires.

Since I’m twelve years older than I was the last time I did this, I find I’m exhausted. It’s worth it, but I wish I could catch up on my sleep. Maybe when Torvi’s older.


For now, as she closes in on four months, the shepherd in her is coming out, personality-wise as well as physically. Her head, shoulders, legs and paws are still super-soft. I just want to cuddle her ALL the time. When she’s not biting me *sigh*

Four out of five people in my critique group are in the process of moving and so the start of that new adventure will be delayed.

And that’s about it for the week.

Bed’s calling.

Until Tuesday, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories 🙂


Bidding farewell to 2017

Greetings, all!

K. Tempest Bradford shared something that Catherynne Valente wrote:

“If this were a trilogy, 2016 would be the explosively dramatic establishment of conflict. 2017 would be the lowest point, when all seems lost. And 2018 would be the redemption, the triumph snatched from defeat at the last moment, the victory over darkness. Here’s to 2018.”

As a writer of science fiction and fantasy, this struck me as true. Not real, but true.

Not only has the political situation been depressing (Trump and Brexit), but also continued terror attacks, refugees in the millions, mass shootings, sexual assault and harassment revelations, floods, fire, hurricanes, and cyclones … it really feels as if the world is falling apart on all levels.

Even I, as a Canadian, shielded from much of the douche-baggery rampant in the world, have felt the weight of depression more this year that in the several preceding. I’m still struggling with burnout, but I know that I’m in good company. Many of the authors, mostly American, that I follow online have expressed similar sentiments, though for different, and many more dire, reasons.

John Scalzi has had to slow the pace of his writing to deal. Kameron Hurley has had the medical rug pulled out from under her and is seeking to move to Canada, or at least to some place she doesn’t need to shell out thousands a month for the medication she needs to save her life.

Though Chuck Wendig initially expressed similar sentiments at the beginning of the year, he is also considering a move to another state, where state medical benefits can shore up the deficits in the national plan.

But even in 2017, some good things happened. Another thing I saw this morning was former president Obama’s tweets about some of those events.

Communities struck by tragedy have rallied to support their members. Whistle blowers have spoken out and inspired other victims to do the same. There is hope, even in the midst of the dark tea time of the soul. There can be no shadow without the light.

Trump hasn’t been half as successful as he says, and although he managed to dismantle the accessible healthcare act and protection for dreamers, his continual public displays of ignorance, misogyny, and other-phobia, combined with the scandals that continue to dog his heels give me hope for the future.

Then again, I (and so many other people) never thought he’d get into office in the first place.

Brexit proceeds, as it must, changing the political and trade landscape of Europe.

Global warming continues to mess with weather patterns creating monster storms, floods, and conditions ideal for wildfires.

Even here, in north eastern (more like central) Ontario we’ve felt the effects. In the last couple of years, we’ve had green Christmases. This year, it looked like the same thing was going to happen. We had a lovely, warm fall, but then the snow arrived on its usual schedule. And then we got hammered by cold temperatures we usually don’t see until January or February. New Year’s celebrations across Canada have been cancelled or moved indoors because it’s too cold to ask people to stand outside for very long.

Even Torvi, who I’m convinced has husky in her, who loves to stay outside much longer than her humans can bear to, is doing the cold paw dance and willingly comes inside once her business is done.

But the winter solstice is past and it’s getting lighter a little earlier each day. I have hope that this, too, shall pass.

I have hope that mid-term elections in the States will shift the balance of power in senate and congress.

I have hope that as more people speak out against injustice, the rest of the world will finally listen.

I have hope that we can turn the tide in our dependence of fossil fuels and invest more in renewable energy before it’s too late.

The point is, I have hope. I hope for a lot of things, but I have hope.

In the summer, when I embarked on the Writing Excuses Cruise, I wanted to make a breakthrough of some kind. I’ve been feeling for a couple of year that I’ve been on the cusp of something. I know. I’m a slow learner, I guess. I got my breakthrough, but not in the way I expected.

It took Emma Newman to ask me to look deeper for the source of my prolonged burnout. I immediately felt resistance to the suggestion, which told me it was exactly what I needed to do. I cracked the shell on the cruise, but it’s taken me some time to muck about in the goo within to come to terms.

When I first exposed my tender underbelly to a group of writers, I thought I finally had my past trauma under my thumb. I mistakenly thought that my inner editor, informed by a series of threshold guardian experiences, was the thing I had to conquer.

Yes and no.

I had to overcome the inner editor to believe that my work was good enough to submit. It wasn’t long after that, that I started to get second readings, short list placements, contest wins, and finally, a couple of paid publications. So it was work I had to do.

Then I stalled.

Those threshold guardian experiences instilled in me an instinctive, but wrong-headed, mistrust of editors, critique partners, and generally anyone else in whose hands I might put my words. Though I’ve worked with a few editors, took their advice, and worked to improve my stories, I think part of me has been trying to sabotage my own efforts. The resistance has always been there, the distrust.

So that’s my big goal for 2018. I have a critique group, and I’m going to work it. I’m going to open myself up and see if I can’t make one of my novels into something that agents and editors will like.

So … there it is, out in the world. My big, scary goal for 2018.

Be vulnerable. Get out of my own way.

And hope that everything will turn out for the best in the end.

Have a triumphant 2018, everyone!

Until the New Year, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.


Things for which I am thankful in 2017

I know that gratitude is something that’s supposed to be reserved for Thanksgiving, but in this year of political upheaval and general dreck, I wanted to share my list of things for which I am thankful in 2017.

Things have been shifting for me in the past couple of years. I’m not expending as much energy at the day job and trying to focus on what makes me happy, namely, writing and my family.

Accordingly, the first item on my list is: Phil.

Though he may not understand me all the time, Phil has been unfailingly supportive and loving. We really are the best of friends.

I am also grateful for my mom, who, likely because I’ve chosen not to have kids, continues to care for me long after I’ve become an independent adult. Phil and I should be taking care of her, and we do, but moms are moms, ya?

I give thanks for my extended family, Phil’s mom and sister and her husband. We’re a small family up here, but that’s just the right size for us.

I’m thankful for my dearest friends, Margaret, Kim, Yana, Sandy, Sharon, and Stacy. These people have been in my life for a long time and even if we don’t chat often, we do keep in touch and keep each other grounded.

I’m grateful for my job, believe it or not. Having a day job gives me enough disposable income to travel and attend writerly events. It also gives me the opportunity to take self-funded leaves, like the one I just finished. While it’s still a dream of mine to be able to quit and devote my time to my craft, for now, it remains a dream. And I have some great co-workers, many of whom I count among my friends.

I’m thankful for my writing community, locally, and on line. There are so many of you, now, that I can’t list you all. But know that you’ve all contributed to my development as an artist. If I ever do get a novel published, it will be due, in part, to all of you.

I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend the Writing Excuses Baltic Cruise. It really was a transformative event, as I continue to say.

And I’m thankful for Torvi, though she’s driving me a bit mad with her puppy shenanigans at the moment.


Here she is, doing her best imitation of a good dog 😉 The perspective’s off a bit because of the angle I took the picture at. Her head is still big, proportionally, but not that big …

We weighed her yesterday. She’s 25 pounds and on Tuesday, she’ll be three months old (!)

Phil and I have been ready to welcome a new pup into our lives for about a year. This fall, everything came together like it was kismet. Torvi was meant to be our pup.

And now, all that’s left is to say Merry Christmas. And to those who celebrate other traditions, I hope you have had, or will have, the best of times with family and friends. That’s what this time of year is all about, after all.

Blessings to you all!

Be kind, be well, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.