Friday, July 26, 2013

Oh Joy, It's a Boy!

Where were you when....the Duchess of Cambridge was delivered of a son, 8lbs, 6ounces, at 4:24pm (UK time) on Monday, July 22, 2013?

I was, ahem, at work, avidly watching the news for the big announcement – most everyone was. Then, the following day, I was glued to the screen watching the door of the Lindo Wing at St. Mary’s Hospital, waiting for Kate, Will and baby to make their first appearance as a family. The door will forever be imprinted in my mind. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the paparazzi who had camped out for 3 weeks, before.

Yes, there are many who don’t believe in, or agree with, the monarchy. But royalty in every country has been around for centuries, and I suspect always will be. And really, with ALL the negative stuff in the news lately, waiting for the ‘royal baby’ was a HAPPY, welcome change. We needed to be excited about something for a day or two. And, whether we agree with it all or not, we watched history in the making.

I couldn’t help but get swept away by the excitement. And of course, I couldn’t help but write about it.

And let’s face it, who doesn’t love a fairy tale with likeable folks? Throw in a baby, and the story just gets better. And at the end of the day, they’re just people, so why not celebrate along with them? Yes, I do respect their privacy, despite being yet ANOTHER person to watch then write about them. But when all was said and done, I went about my business; I didn’t stalk the hospital or their residence or anything.

When the internet was abuzz that Kate was in the hospital, I immediately started having contractions of my own. Sympathy, phantom – whatever you want to call them – I was in full, hard labour. I couldn’t do much else, so incapacitated I was by excitement and anticipation. But part of me felt sorry for the girl – can’t a woman be in labour without all the world knowing? But at least – at least – the photographers who happened to see her enter the hospital while in labour didn’t snap a million dollar photo. Kudos to them.

So I paced, and paced, and paced some more. I was reliving my own child-birthing days. I rubbed my back (age will do that to you), practiced my breathing (handy for dealing with annoying co-workers), and sought ice chips (um, a Slurpee from the infamous store down the street worked for me).

The world waited, and paced, and waited, and paced. Talk about pressure – poor Kate!

Then came the town crier! Oh, the cheers! Then came the golden easel! More cheers! Cameras flashed, more people cheered, a 21-gun salute burst eardrums, and the water in the fountain at Trafalgar Square was tinted blue (watch out for yellow water!). Oh joy, it’s a boy!
I was now linked to Kate like no family tree could – we were both mothers, and of a son, no less!

But the next day led to more waiting; more door-staring. The world waited for the wee prince to make his first appearance. One hour turned to two, and I squirmed in my seat. The washroom was calling me. But I couldn’t leave my computer with its live-stream of the door – I would miss the big moment! If only I could bring it into the washroom, but I guess that’s what fancy cell-phones are for (ew, gross!). And so we waited for the trio to appear on the steps of Lindo Wing.

But as I watched the door, I felt sorry for Kate. We all knew she would emerge looking fabulous, but I, her soul-sister in motherhood, knew she likely felt like crap. Elation and excitement might be masking it all, but no stylist or hairdresser can get rid of that ‘I just feel like I’ve been hit by a truck’ feeling, post birth. For the average woman, when she has a baby, there’s a bit of fan fare, a few visitors (some annoying), then she goes home. But for Kate...well, she’s in the spotlight from the get-go. Many will say this is the life she/they chose, so she should just grin and bear it, but really...I kinda felt sorry for her.

And then, before I could text Kate with a few words of care and support, the doors opened and......they were there! Kate’s blue dress, Will’s blue shirt, and the object of everyone’s attention and affection swaddled in white blankets will be in memories for centuries to come. A little hand poked out to wave at us all.

But then off they raced, back in the hospital for the car seat and bags. Then back out they came, like every other new couple, buckling everyone into the car. Kate and baby sat in the back with Will at the helm – where any proud papa should be.

And then...that was it. Over. Resume lives and carry on. wasn’t quite over yet – we had a name to wait for. But luckily we didn’t to wait for too long; ‘George Alexander Louis’ might be king one day.

Oh. Okay.

I had sympathy night-time-feeding memories for Kate and Will; been there/done that, twice. The exhaustion, the fear, the newness of it all – having a new baby is overwhelming for anyone. I know many royals have nannies, etc, but I think Kate and Will very much intend on doing it all themselves. Bad ‘nappies,’ crying all night (baby AND mother), baby spit-up – the works. Good for them!

In the end, people are people, no matter where they come from. Babies are born and they eat, sleep and poop – no matter who they are. Nappies will always need to be changed. And at the end of the day, we’re all the same - we’re all looking for a bit of happiness.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bow and Arrow - Pen and Paper

Fwomp......fwomp...fwomp fwomp....fwompfwompfwomp..........fwomp.


Yesssss!’ is quietly hissed.

A silent fist-pump slashes the air.


That’s the sound of the sport of archery. Or more specifically, the sound of arrows hitting a target fixed on a butt.

But not just any old butt. Unless, however, one is a tad moody that day, one might have a specific ‘butt’ in mind. Morally wrong, yes, but some days oh so tempting.


The butt in question is big wooden stand with a target fixed in the center, placed anywhere from 20 – 60 meters from the archer.

The archer stands at the shooting line, his body facing sideways. His arm guard is in place; a snapping bowstring on the forearm does NOT tickle. His sight is adjusted and his hat is turned backwards. The ‘nock’ of the arrow is fixed on the string and the ‘shaft’ of the arrow is settled on the arrow-rest of the bow. With fingers holding the arrow in place, the bow is raised and pointed at the target. The string is drawn back and the archer closes one eye. The string and archers’ arm quiver at fighting the sometimes 30 pounds of resistance, but he or she can’t let go yet.

The archer takes a deep breath and pulls the string-yielding-arrow up to his or her cheek. With the sight lining up the tip of the arrow just so, take aim, take just the right moment.......release.



But not all the time.

There are ‘good’ days and ‘bad.’ Sometimes the target is missed completely, sometimes the arrow gets ‘oh so close.’ Hitting the black outer ring is good, hitting the second inner blue ring is better, hitting the third inner red ring is that much closer, and getting the yellow bull’s eye? THE BEST.

And if none of those hit, well, follow directions and repeat.

And repeat.

And repeat.

For those not into team sports, archery is the way to go. You compete with yourself, trying to out-do your last shot; perfecting your skill to better your aim. A bull’s eye is always the goal. And if a practice session involves working on getting one’s arrows on the red inner circle and not always on the black, that’s fine too. It’s a goal you set for yourself.

Sure, if you wanted to, you could enter tournaments, and aim to be the next Olympian. Beating out other countries with your fine marksmanship can be a goal – there’s nothing wrong with that. Dream big, I say. But if fame, glory, and Olympic gold medals are not your thing – fine. In archery, you are your own competitor. And if at the end of a practice session you can leave the archery range knowing you beat your last score by a mile, and at the farthest shooting range you can muster, you know you won!

Yes, it’s hard not to watch the guy next to you with his state-of-the art bow, his arrows with pristine fletchings, and his near-perfect shots (1/2 a millimeter from dead center of a perfect bull’s eye – not bad). But every shot you make yourself, by yourself. Every arrow lifted, every sight adjusted; it’s about bettering yourself each and every time. You’re relying on your skill and experience.

Like archery, writing is solitary. You compete with yourself, bettering your craft with every word, sentence, paragraph and novel. It’s up to you and only you. If aiming for publication, giving up is not an option. If every writer put down their pen or threw their laptop out the window with every rejection received, there would be no writers. If every archer threw down their bow with every missed shot, there would be no archers. Everyone has good days and bad. Every one either misses the target or sometimes gets a bull’s eye – a perfect sentence written, a publishing contract offered. Sometimes it’s hit-and-miss, but practice, perseverance and focusing on the target, or goal, pays.

Yes, in the publishing world, competition is fierce. But as the archer takes a deep breath, takes aim, focuses and blocks out everyone else, so can the writer. Keep writing, keep perfecting, keep taking aim – you WILL eventually hit the mark. Ignore everyone else.

With my one son having taken up this Robin Hood-like sport, and my husband a past archer himself, the sport is rampant in my house. I have yet to shoot an arrow, but in watching my son at the range as well as recent movies showcasing the sport, I am intrigued. Yes, it would be neat to be like the character Katniss Evergreen from ‘Hunger Games,’ with her trademark braid flung over her shoulder as she bravely takes the next shot in a game of life and death. And yes, it would be neat to be like wild-haired Merida from ‘Brave,’ her inner strength to defy age-old customs coupled with her awe-inspiring archery skills makes me wish I could be like her.

Although it’s never too late to take up a new hobby, I know I could never look as good as these youthful characters when shooting a bow and arrow - their hair is better than mine. I think I’ll stick to writing.

But as I sit at the archery range with binoculars and camera ready to capture my son’s ‘perfect’ shot, I realize, in some ways, I’m sort of like these highly skilled archers - sort of. I know it’s cliché, but with paper as my bow and my pen as my arrow, I keep practicing and aiming for my target - a bull's eye. I make writing goals for myself, and make plans of which editor/agent/publisher I want to next target with my work. Despite sometimes missing the mark, I keep drawing back the string, and taking aim......

Sometimes I hit, sometimes I miss. But then I take aim again, take a deep breath, and shoot.

And repeat.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Plight of the Corn Cob Holder

You know how it is.....

It’s summer. The barbeque has long-since cooled down, the ice has melted in the now-empty cooler, and the sun has finally set. Those last few much-needed ‘special’ drinks have worn off, you’re bleary-eyed and tired, maybe a little bit sunburnt, and you just wanna go to bed.
But you’ve got a kitchen to clean; plates to scrape and wash and leftovers to be put in the fridge.


It’s the morning after a barbeque-turned-all-night party. Fizzy drinks from the night before are taking their toll on your body and mind. Your mind, tongue and eyes are not fizzy anymore, but fuzzy. But you have a kitchen to clean, and all those dirty dishes need to be scraped and soaked.

In either scenario, you want to – have to – get things cleaned and put away. From somewhere deep inside you get your second, third or fourth wind, and you’re suddenly frantic to get it all done.

And in your cleaning furry, you throw out some the most important items of summer. They’re small, seemingly insignificant, and easily missed in the piles of yellow corn cobs and napkins. Corn cob holders.

Some call them ‘skewers,’ and that’s fine, but this is my story, so I’m calling them ‘holders.’

In this part of the world, we typically use them during two months of the year. The average Canadian household associates corn on the cob with summer, the only time of year it can be grown in abundance. The only time of year we can really use the cute little plastic commodities.

Sure if you really, really want, you can have corn on the cob year round – if you are willing to pay, say, $10.00 for two ears of corn imported from lands afar. Pre-husked and cello-wrapped on a Styrofoam tray, they are often found nestled with the ‘exotic’ vegetables in the produce section.

But when you can get 6 ears of locally-grown corn on the cob for $2.00 during a Canadian summer, you’ll be passing by the über-expensive corn on the cob and heading to the frozen food section. But frozen corn, already off the cob, is definitely not the same. And the corn cob holders remain idle, if you still have them, that is.

So during the rest of the year, if your corn cob holders have survived the massive post-barbeque clean-up from the summer, they sit in your drawer, untouched, unloved, and often used, abused and cursed at.

If you’re like me, you prefer the corn cob holders with metal prongs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see the point of the ones that look like a big plastic drill. Those corn cobs are hard in the middle, and when fresh out of the pot or barbeque, they’re too hot to try to screw in a plastic corn cob holder. So the metal-pronged ones are best – trust me.

In the back of the utensil drawer they stay, forgotten and unloved, until one day when you’re rummaging around in the drawer and AACK! One of the sharp points stabs you under your fingernail.

Hmm....maybe the metal pronged ones aren’t a good idea, after all, you say.

Actually, they’re a very good idea - good for a many great things. When not impaling corn cobs two months out of the year, they’re good for:

• Popping unpopped balloons (unless you want to sit on them, which is always fun)
• Digging out a piece of uncooked spaghetti that has fallen down the crack between the stove and the counter
• Picking out dried-up Play-dough from various nooks and crannies
• Picking out garlic from a garlic press
• Assisting in decorating Jack O’Lanterns (that pumpkin skin is VERY tough)
• Picking corn out of teeth (although not the safest thing to do – and not the most polite)

And the list goes on....

In my ever-constant quest for finding out more, I discovered corn cob holders that nest inside each other, thereby eliminating the wretched stabbing-under-the-finger nails bit. There are everything from dinosaur corn cob holders, to über-classy rosewood holders for the more posh than I (although eating corn on the cob is not the most ‘poshest’ of dining experiences, anyways).
All this is what I thought about as I sat there one summer evening watching my family all but inhale a few cobs of the summer treat. I fiddled with the holders resting on my plate after fulfilling their intended use, and pondered the little plastic gems. Even the most tiniest, insignificant things have their use; never under-estimate the power of ‘little.’

And hold on to those corn cob holders – you never know when you might need them.

Oh...and don’t forget the dental floss.

(Hmmm....maybe I should try this...)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Not-So-Crazy Writer

In the wee hours of the morning before the birds and the bees are at ‘it,’ I sit at my desk (the kitchen table) to write. But before I do, my wrist watch comes off, my tea is made and placed in its rightful spot beside the computer mouse, and if my fingernails I so desperately wish looked like that of magazine ads are too long, out come the nail clippers. Typing with glamorous long finger nails doesn’t work for me.

I don’t know when all this started, but when I recently realized I did these three things ALL the time, I wondered – is this a ritual, a routine, or obsession? And am I like many of the notable writers who are sometimes known more for their quirky rituals than their writing? Not that I dare put my lowly, amateur self at their esteemed level, but.....will having weird little writing habits make me famous one day?

I dare not equate myself to the likes of the great Hemingway, who preferred to stand and write. Nor do I compare myself to Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Misérables and other notable works while in the nude – he even went so far as to have his clothes removed from his house so he would be forced to stay indoors and write. Um...that’s NOT for me. And I dare not consider myself in the company of those award winning authors who need certain pencils, robes, or the objects on their desk lined up a certain way before a word could be written.

Am I strange, weird, and losing my marbles like a ‘tortured artist’ because when it comes time to write, I feel I can write better if I have completed these certain ‘rituals’?

It doesn’t mean that without any of these things I simply CANNOT write. I’m not a diva. I would love, however, to be able to insist that my assistant (the cat) have the finest chocolates (chocolate chips) shipped in from across the globe (try the grocery store across the street) for my intense daily writing sessions (surfing Pinterest when I should be writing). But I am not a diva; I CAN write anywhere.

I can write with paper and pen on a bus, on the couch – anywhere. When an idea comes, I have to get it down. Even if it means a few pages hastily scribbled while holed up in the bathroom. But there’s something about sitting down for my daily writing session in the early mornings that requires my little rituals. I didn’t plan them, they just happened over time.

The removed watch and clipped fingernails are necessary for comfort and for being able to type on my laptop. The long nails get in the way of the keys, and the watchband catches on the edge of the laptop. Both can hamper my productivity, and are just plain annoying. But as soon as my watch comes off, it’s like my body knows it’s time to work. Without it, I can work more freely, and not feel weighed down.

And added to that, the superstitious side of me kicks in. Without these little oddities performed, I worry/wonder if my writing would be jinxed, thereby casting bad luck FOREVER on my being.

When psycho-analyzing my weird little ‘traditions,’ I realized the concept of rituals, routines and obsessions can be sometimes blurred.

So like any good writer, I pulled out the dictionary. An ACTUAL paper, feel-it-in-my-hand dictionary. I’m ‘old fashioned’ like that.

According to the Paperback Oxford Canadian Dictionary (Copyright Oxford University Press Canada 2000), the words ‘ritual,’ ‘routine,’ and ‘obsession’ are defined as follows:

ritual (n): 1. A prescribed order of performing rites. 2. A procedure regularly followed.

routine (n): 1. A regular course or procedure, an unvarying performance or certain acts. 2. A set sequence in a performance of certain acts.

obsession (n): 1. The act of obsessing or the state of being obsessed. 2. A persistent idea or thought dominating a person’s mind. 2. A condition in which such ideas are present.

Okay, the first two definitions seemed to make sense, but the obsession? Hmmm...I can honestly say I’m not ‘obsessed’ with these pre-writing procedures I do. I can write without them, but during my daily scheduled writing session, I much, MUCH prefer them.

But then, right below the word ‘obsession’ was this:

obsessive-compulsive (adj): Of or designating a disorder in which a person has an obsessive compulsion to perform meaningless acts repeatedly.

I nearly threw-up on the dictionary I was holding. Is something wrong with me? I hadn’t even thought of it, but upon reading the definition I panicked: what if that’s me?!

After putting the vomit-free dictionary away, chewing the cuticles on my freshly trimmed fingernails to obliteration, and removing my watch as I was sure my arm was swelling in reaction to my instant stress, I realized, so what? In the great scheme of things, having these three little rituals, or whatever they are called that make me feel comfortable, stable and ready to write, is really no big deal. It could be A LOT worse (I live across the street from a liquor store).

So whether I could be classed as ritualistic, obsessive compulsive or neurotic, I don’t care. To be considered a writer with quirky rituals like the great many writers of our time is an honour. I am fortunate to have the freedom to write, when I want and how I want. Having little rituals, or whatever they are called, isn’t hurting anyone.

Excuse me, I gotta run. The liquor store closes in five minutes.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Jo-Ann Carson, fellow writer and Vancouver Island Chapter of RWA member, as well as author of romantic suspense, thrillers and mysteries, so VERY kindly awarded me the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award.’ Read about her and her writing at her blog 'Lovin' Danger'. Also, be sure to visit her website to find out more about Jo-Ann and her numerous writing awards received.

Part of receiving this award is to not only pass it on to someone else, but to also tell you seven things about me. Now, for those of you who follow my blog, I know you might be thinking, ‘Um, I read about Lisa and her weird thoughts and adventures ALL the time – what’s so different this time?’ Well, we all can’t know everything about everyone now, can we? And then you might be thinking, ‘Why do I care about seven things about Lisa?’ They way I see it is this – there are too many sad, negative things in the world these days, why not talk about something else (or someone else, like me?) for a change.

And I know this award is called the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award,’ and therefore I should maybe write something ‘inspiring’ about me, but instead I figured I would share a few ‘odd,’ sometimes contradictory, things about me - just for fun.

1. I hate chocolate chips in my muffins. I love chocolate – I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can eat it any time of day, as early as 5am. I have been known to eat a whole bag of chocolate chips. But I cannot stand them in a muffin.

2. I have switched to drinking soy – in my tea, cereal, and everything else – but insist in half/half in my coffee (decaf only). The 'soy choice' is not a vegetarian/vegan thing – I’m just trying to be healthier – plus it offsets the chocolate problem (see #1).

3. As a kid, I wanted to be Solid Gold dancer when I grew up – remember that music/dance show from the 80’s? But even as I wished I could dance like them as they gyrated and wiggled around on stage with their gold leotards, leg warmers and awesome headbands, I thought some of them were...strange.

4. I’m not a fan of seafood – I don’t like fish. But I will eat tuna (from a tin), shrimp (from frozen – already de-veined), crab (already picked out of the shell for me), fish and chips (already battered and fried for me) and smoked oysters (from a tin). But I don’t like seafood at all.

5. I love sushi, minus any meat of any kind (see #4).

6. I only drink Tetley's Orange Pekoe tea – that brand specifically. ONLY. I hate anything else. Everything else tastes like bananas – I don’t know why. And I love bananas. But I WILL drink herb tea in any brand. Oh, and the tea has to be decaf (I say this in case the kind folks at Tetley’s choose to send me a free box of tea in gratitude for me plugging them).

7. I only eat Kraft brand peanut butter – yes, for the taste, but I like the picture of the teddy bears on the container. Oh, and it has to be the ‘light’ kind (I say this in case the kind folks at Kraft choose to send me a free container of peanut butter in gratitude for me plugging them).

8. It takes me forever to order food in a restaurant – I have questions, concerns and I like things ‘on the side.’ But I figure; I cook most of the days/weeks/months of the year, so when I go out to eat it’s a BIG treat. I want things how I want them, and I don’t want to order something I won’t like and be disappointed (my apologies to the ever-patient servers at White Spot restaurant – I say this in case the kind folks at White Spot choose to send me a gift certificate in gratitude for me plugging them).

I don’t know why all these facts about me turned into my likes/dislikes/contradictions about food (except for the Solid Gold dancers bit – they have been on my mind lately), but there you have it. Oh, and it ended up being eight things about me. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

Now to pass the award to others:

I pass this award to novelist Jodie Esch. Visit her blog at 'Confessions of Young Adult Author.' Jodie has recently published not one, but TWO novels for young adults - 'Little White Lies: Book #1 (The Girlfriends Series)' and 'Little White Pills: Book #2 (The Girlfriends Series). You can find them on

I also pass this award to Ryshia Kennie, romance novelist and blogger. You can also read about Ryshia at her website. Her first two novels, Ring of Desire and From the Dust were published by Black Lyon Publishing. She is represented by Scott Eagen of Greyhaus Literary Agency.

Both these ladies inspire me with their desire and drive to keep writing and publishing, as well as their support and promotion of other writers. Here's to you, ladies!

Thanks for reading!