Archive for the ‘Stuff About Me’ Category
Today is the last of the Listify Life Spring Challenges! A new Challenge for Summer starts next week, and I’m going to see if I can keep up. But this week’s theme is very simple for me, Favorite Vacations I’ve Taken…
In the last six years, my husband and I have done a LOT of traveling. The plan is to now slow down (our bank accounts need to catch back up). There are a ton of places I would still like to travel, but currently no plans are in place beyond next year. With no further ado…
- The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – 2012. This is by far the best vacation I have ever taken! We were on a catamaran exploring the islands for two weeks and also enjoyed some time beforehand in Quito. During these two weeks, we made some friendships that are still on-going. We’ve met one of the couples in Vegas for a visit and stayed with another couple in Australia. They’re returning the favor by visiting B.C. next year.
- Peru and Machu Picchu – 2012. And Lake Titicaca, and the Nazca Lines, and Huancayo in the mountains. This trip started our six-year whirlwind of adventures and was a celebration for our 25th anniversary. This trip was just my husband and myself. We felt like we were backpacking through Europe again, like a couple of kids.
- China – 2013. Our son moved to China several years ago to teach the B.C. high school curriculum in Shanghai. We had a wonderful time visiting him and exploring Beijing, the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, visiting rice fields and escaping landslides, but there was some Serious Stuff happening back home, so we decided to return home early. It’s human nature – the Serious Stuff will forever affect how I feel about China. I loved traveling there, but a melancholy followed us.
- Australia – 2014. My husband had an uncle in Australia, plus cousins we had been planning to visit since the 80s, so we finally gave it a shot. For a solid month. One of our two longest trips. Loved Australia! Visited Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, Ayer’s Rock, Perth (where we stayed with a couple we met in the Galapagos) and Melbourne. We even met up with an Aussie we knew from 1981 and had lost touch with long ago.
- Chile and Patagonia – 2016. This year’s trip! And the last “big trip” until we see where the next chapter of our lives takes us. We spent four weeks visiting the wineries south of Santiago, Easter Island, Chiloe Island, cruising the Patagonian Fjords and seeing Pia Glacier, and trying to land on Cape Horn, visiting the End of the World, and Buenos Aires. The big surprise for us was how much Chile was like British Columbia. So it wasn’t as different as, say, the Galapagos or Peru, but it was very much a Bucket List experience.
- Cuba – 2015. Last year we took a year off from adventure travel and stayed in an all-in-one resort for a few days in Varadero. But then we took a 7-day cruise around Cuba and had the opportunity to visit several ports of call before Cuba and the U.S. mended ways.
Next Stop? Haida Gwaii in our own British Columbia, next summer. We’re going on a fishing trip to the Queen Charlottes with the same Aussie couple we stayed with in Perth after meeting them in the Galapagos.
What are your travel hot spots?
This week’s theme was a tough one for me, because I do quote from some movies but not often, and most of the movies are old. But if I were a movie-quoter, here’s my list of Movies I Sometimes/Sorta Quote From:
Oh, I couldn’t find the Listify Life cards for the last two weeks of the spring challenge, so I just wrote on a notebook page. It was simpler, so I’ll probably continue the notebook pages for the Summer Challenge (Yes, it’s continuing!).
I can not seem to get a non-blurry picture.
- “I’ll be back.” – from the original Terminator. Must be said with an Arnie-ominous voice.
- “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” – with Name of Choice in place of Baby. Allie McBeagle likes to use this one. From Dirty Dancing.
- “Go ahead. Make my day.” From, I think it was, one of the Dirty Harry movies starring Clint Eastwood. The Internet says it’s from Sudden Impact. Must attempt channeling of Clint when speaking this line.
- “You talking to me?” – I knew this was a Robert DeNiro quote, but I had to look up the movie. I’ve never seen Taxi Driver, but mucho channeling of DeNiro occurs when this quote is uttered.
Are you a movie-quoter? I’m proud of myself that I managed to come up with some!
There’s one more week remaining in the Listify Life Spring Challenge. But a Summer Listify Life Challenge begins, well, sometime after June 21st, the equinox. I’m gonna try participating again.
I would argue that for a writer there is no such thing as wasting time on the Internet, because entertainment is fodder for stories, and we use the Internet a lot for research and for planning our writing days, etc. So this is really more a catalogue of where I am most likely to be spending my time on the Internet. If I weren’t a writer, would I visit Facebook several times a day? I honestly have no idea because I was an author before I joined Facebook. The Internet, whether you are using email loops or forums or Facebook groups, provides a way for writers to get together and brainstorm and exchange ideas and experiences about publishing houses, editors and agents. It really is an invaluable tool. So that’s my caveat!
- Facebook – Yes, I do waste a lot of time following links on Facebook that have nothing to do with writing. I love being able to stalk my kids online using Facebook, and it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends both old and new. I spend more time then I should following links to quizzes and news items that I know are just going to irritate me. I could just open up my USA Today app instead. But of all the social networks out there, Facebook is the one I go to most frequently. I belong to an author support group and also to a group of publishing folks who are really into paper planning, and I just joined a group for authors who are interested in doing their own formatting. All that I find absolutely necessary. 🙂 As I look at my list, though, I realize I haven’t even included Twitter. I have tried really hard to get into Twitter, but it’s just not in my top three. Same with Pinterest. Unless I’m looking for renovation ideas, which is when I usually visit Pinterest, I don’t go there. There’s only so much time in the day!
- Trip Advisor – When we are planning a big trip I usually start out by buying a Frommer’s book on the country and reading it cover to cover. But then I follow up with months of research on Trip Advisor. It’s hands-down the best place I know to get advice on where I want to go. I tend to pay the most attention to reviews from travelers who live in my province or Alberta, because we have similar expectations. Whereas, folks from Ontario and folks from the UK have different expectations, I’ve come to realize through reading reviews on Trip Advisor. So while I might check those reviews and those ideas, if I really want to know how I might feel about a place, I depend on the residents of BC and our neighbours to the left, depending which way you are looking at the map of Canada. I consider Alberta to be on the left, because I am standing inside British Columbia looking out. 🙂
- Instagram – This is a new one for me. I discovered Instagram basically because I decided to participate in the spring #listifylife challenge and Instagram is the primary place where the challenge is occurring. I discovered that I really like Instagram. Maybe it’s because participating in the challenge coincided with me blogging about our trip to Patagonia, because I realized I could start posting pictures of the trip to Instagram. 🙂 So, on Instagram, instead of networking really with just other writers, I have started networking with other travellers. I follow a lot of travel bloggers and photographers on Instagram, and honestly it is what I am mainly there for, the travel photography, not the social networking.
- Romance Divas Forum – Easily the best, in my opinion, support and industry and research and brainstorming forum for romance authors on the Internet. And… It’s how I discovered my paper planning group on Facebook, and that paper planning group is my happiest place on the Internet right now. 🙂
- Stock Photo Websites – This one wouldn’t be on my list if I weren’t an author. What reason would I have to visit stock photo websites? You would probably more likely find me on shoe buying websites… But because I am mainly independently publishing right now, stock photo websites are super important in the book cover brainstorming process. While some book cover artists will look at the stock photo websites for you, others want you to search for your own stock images or at least provide them as an example of what you’re looking for. Believe me, I can spend hours and hours and hours on stock photo websites when I am brainstorming a book cover.
- Amazon and Chapters – Chapters is a Canadian online bookstore, and I buy paper books mainly from Chapters or Canadian Amazon. I buy e-books from American Amazon, and because I am an independent author I am on Amazon a fair amount checking sales rankings, etc. But I also check sales rankings on Kobo, iBooks, and other places. Actually, I don’t really check sales rankings all that much unless I am running a promotion or have a new release, which hasn’t occurred in too long. But when my next release does come out within the next few months, I know I will be stalking my Amazon dashboard. Kobo is also easy to stalk, but I don’t buy books from Kobo. I buy the odd book from iBooks, but I prefer the lighting on my Kindle to reading on an iPad, so therefore I spend the most time buying books on Amazon. I had a Kindle before the Kobo came out, and I still use my original Kindle (sorry, Kobo, but as an author I love you!)
- Cover Artist Sites – I have used the same cover artist for all my books as Cindy and under my pen name except for two short stories. Even though I keep going back to the same cover artist, I like to visit other cover artist sites just to get a taste for what else is out there. A lot of cover artists also run their own photography shoots, so I get sucked into those rabbit holes very, very easily. 😉
Where do you waste time on the Internet? Is it time wasted? Or is it…a necessity?
Welcome back to Listify Life! This week’s theme is What I Splurge On/My Indulgences. Caveat: I am not really a splurgy person. I am very practical and hate shopping for clothes, for example. So this is the best list I could come up with:
I should splurge on Lessons on How to Take Centered Pictures.
- Massage Therapy. Okay, I splurge on this. I go every other week, but really I consider it a necessity because I work at a computer for long hours at a time. Also, I couldn’t run three times a week without someone to fix me up. When my husband retires and I no longer have his medical benefits to help me out, I don’t know what I’ll do! I usually run out his benefits by October. My only excuse is that I was in a major five-car pile-up 24 years ago and have had troubles off and on since. But really it’s because I don’t like being in pain. Why should I b*tch and moan about my aching shoulders and hip or rotator cuff or whatever when I can do something about it and NOT be in pain? I honestly think massage therapy should be a write-off for writers. It’s a business expense, not an indulgence!
- Shoes that Don’t Kill My Feet. I no longer buy cheap shoes. I developed a problem in my foot from running and ran in pain for two years. It took a few years WITH orthopedic arches to overcome the issue. My shoes might not be the prettiest on the planet, but I have learned I have really high arches and that’s part of the issue.
- Running Gear. Once I discovered the arch issue, I also discovered that I “pronate.” Especially with my floppy right foot (I swear someone put it on crooked before I was born). So I now buy my runners every year or two (I really only need new runners every other year) from an actual Running store. This led to buying actual “running socks” (good quality) and running tights/pants/gloves/water bottle, etc. The only thing I don’t splurge on is running hats. I steal golf hats from my husband.
- Chocolate. I don’t feel I need to explain this one.
- Take-Out. As in food. I also don’t feel I need to explain this one. I am also quite willing to sit in a restaurant. I’m a writer, not a chef. I get quite irked when I have to “cook too much” (like three planned meals a week). Luckily my husband adores Kraft Dinner. I should note that I made an honest attempt to learn to cook when we got married, but as soon as I learned he doesn’t like leftovers it was ALL. OVER.
- Multi-colored pens. This is a new indulgence which sprang from beginning to use a pretty paper planner this years. I try to color-code different to-do lists, but really I just wind up writing in whatever order I like, the colors I like. I love pens in general but we don’t live in a town with a good pen store or I would be in serious trouble. As it is, I have to order refills for my “best” pen from a shop in Montreal.
- Travel. I love to travel, and I would rather travel than have a new car (hence the 1999 Altima I drive) or a new house (hence, we live in the first and only house we have ever bought; been here since 1990 and have no plans to move). I guess I can add “renovations” onto my list of Indulgences, because we have done a lot of that (and all the DYI has contributed to my need for Massage Therapy).
- Office Supplies. Yes, I adore buying computer ink and computer paper, Post-It notes and whatever else might be handy around the office. I also like collecting writing software, whether I use it or not….
What do you splurge on?
I usually have a mix of books on the go. While I write contemporary romance, I don’t have a CR on my TBR pile right now because I’m waiting for a fave author’s book to release before I get my next mass market delivery. I like to read outside of genre a lot, and I like to read books on craft of writing, plus I’ve gotten back into reading some biographies, which I used to read all the time when I was younger.
Here we go:
I just finished UNSAID by Neil Abramson. There’s a chimpanzee named Cindy in the story. My BFF lent me this book last week while she was in town. In exchange, she’s supposed to read MY FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger, which I loved.
UNSAID is a great story if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary. I would read more from Mr. Abramson (it looks like he’ll have a new release this summer).
To Be Read, Fiction:
- THE SEVEN SISTERS by Lucinda Riley. I have never read this author. I am pretty sure my daughter-in-law left this book at the house before she and my son returned to Shanghai for another year of work. So I better get reading, in case she wants it back. 🙂
- COLD, COLD HEART by Tami Hoag. I’ll either read that or THE BONE GARDEN by Tess Gerritsen. I haven’t read Hoag in a very long time, but saw CCH in the drugstore so picked it up awhile ago. Plenty of folks have recommended Gerritsen. I haven’t read her before, so I’m eager to get to THE BONE GARDEN. Which of these two I choose to read actually comes down to how I feel about the books when I hold them in my hands when the time comes to choose. Don’t ask. Yes, it’s weird. So what?
- AVENUE OF MYSTERIES by John Irving. Irving is an auto-buy for me, and this one has been “gelling” on my nightstand for awhile now (books need to sit on my nightstand or in the drawer for an undetermined amount of time before they “gel” enough for me to read them). Don’t ask. Yes, it’s weird. So what?
Oooh, interesting note, I attended a reading of John Irving’s on Granville Island in Vancouver with my BFF many moons ago. He read from A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY, one of my favorite of his books, and he signed my copy (the poor guy was swamped by folks after the reading, swarming around him; it was crazy; yes, I was one). I’ve been collecting his novels in hardcover since THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP.
THE HEART GOES LAST by Margaret Atwood, another of my auto-buys and my all-time favorite author, although sometimes she writes a book I don’t like (don’t ask me where she gets the nerve). Loved it! Ms. Atwood, I truly regret that I was too hung over to attend your reading of BODILY HARM at the University of Victoria in the 1980s. I meant to bring my copy and get your autograph. I think I purposely drank too much the night before because you’re one of my idols and I was just too shy to attend the reading. Yeah, it sucks I’m writing you from my blog and you’ll never see this note, but I just wanted you to know I regret my actions, but at the time I thought I could have a fun night out and still make it to the reading. Apologies.
I have also been collecting Ms. Atwood’s novels and short stories in hardcover since BODILY HARM. I have her novels from before BH in paperback.
To Be Read, Craft of Writing:
- ROMANCING THE BEAT: STORY STRUCTURE FOR ROMANCE NOVELS by Gwen Hayes. A friend mentioned this book on Facebook the other day, and Gwen belongs to Romance Divas, an online romance writers forum I also belong to, so I bought a copy for my Kindle and can’t wait to dig into it.
- WIRED FOR STORY: THE WRITER’S GUIDE TO USING BRAIN SCIENCE TO HOOK READERS FROM THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE by Lisa Cron. This book has been on my TBR pile for a very long time. I’m sort of saving it for when I begin brainstorming the next book on my To Be Written pile.
To Be Read, Biography:
- THE DUCHESS by Amanda Foreman. My mom picked up this book without realizing it was a biography, so she passed it along. A few years ago, a movie with Keira Knightly came out called The Duchess, based at least in part on this biography, so I’ll give it a whirl.
What’s on your To Be Read pile?
After listening to any song thirty times in a row, I can get tired of it. But these are some of the songs that always appeal to me:
They are in no order, just as they popped to mind. There are a lot more songs on my list, but basically I am attracted to anything with a lot of piano or a bit of blues, or a bit of melancholy. I like songs that tug on my heartstrings. If they make me want to cry, great!
- Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin. Guitar! Plus, great social commentary on materialism. Loved playing this on the piano in my twenties. Lyrics. YouTube.
- Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen. I just love the crazy story in the lyrics. YouTube. And Freddy Mercury’s vocals are astounding. As is the whole theatricality.
- Downstream – SuperTramp. This was the first song my husband and I danced to at our wedding. We each went to university near an ocean/sea, and when you get to those words in the song, just substitute ocean/sea with lake – we each either grew up on a lake or near a lake, or overlooking a lake. Read the lyrics and tell me this isn’t a great song to start a marriage. YouTube. Very romantic, and gorgeous to play on the piano.
- Breakin’ Me – Jonny Lang. The entire Wander this World CD is amazing. Jonny Lang was very young when he put out this album, and the entire thing captures me, but Breakin’ Me is my fav of his songs. Lyrics. YouTube.
- Falling Down Blue – Blue Rodeo. Another song about loss and love. These kinds of songs make my heart ache in the most wonderful way. Lyrics. YouTube.
- Reminiscing – Little River Band. This song came out around the year I met my husband. I was 18 and he 19. I went away to university four months after meeting him, and while we knew we loved each other we didn’t realize then that we would be spending the rest of our lives together. Once I moved away, he traveled often to see me, and he had me listen to these lyrics. He said, “I want this to be us.” (With the exception that neither of us knew who “Miller’s Band” was–The Steve Miller Band? Nope). And damned if we aren’t well on our way. YouTube. (BTW, the reference is to The Glenn Miller Orchestra, I believe, before our time).
What songs do you never tire of hearing?
Ooh, this week’s theme might open up a can of worms! Finally, you all get to see just how weird I am! (I understand some of you realize this already).
Things I Collect…
- Face Masks and Pottery Heads. This collection started when my best friend and maid of honor gave me a pottery head/cookie jar of a guy who looked like he might have been an extra in the original Mad Max movie. That led to me buying a second head by a different potter, which led to my sister-in-law buying me a funky face mask of a guy with huge red lips and sunglasses smoking a cigarette, which led to me buying a companion face mask from the same artist of a woman in hair curlers and an earring that says, “You’ll have to marry me first.” Which led to at least half-a-dozen face masks since then. I only have room for one or two more face masks above my desk, so I’m getting pickier.
- Weird Cat Statues. Okay, I have three floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and while I have a lot of books, they would look boring (to me) if they only had books on them. So I started collecting weird cat statues. I must have at least twenty of these statues in various places–on my roll-top desk, on my bookshelves, on top of my grandmother’s china cabinet–but I’ve heard about other folks’ animal collections, elephants and such, and I don’t think I’m too out to lunch with this one.
- Leather-Bound Classics. For years I collected leather-bound books, and I have about 110 of them on my bookshelves (but have only read about 50; gotta get moving on that again) along with contemporary hardcovers and trade paperbacks. I don’t keep many mass market paperbacks, just my absolute favorites. The books were the reason for the bookshelves, which then begged to be filled with cats and pottery heads and other stuff, such as…
- Unique Bookends. I have at least a dozen quirky bookend sets, and not all of them get to sit on the same shelf as their pair. I need maybe one more set of bookends so I can get rid of the last tin set.
- Wooden Body Parts. Yes, I know it sounds odd, but it’s not, really. I found this life-sized wooden foot in a store in Mexico, and it was a nice change from wooden ducks, etc., so I bought it. Then we went to Cuba, and I found a Cuban clenched fist. That seemed to go along. I have a couple of mom and daughter wooden heads my parents picked up in a foreign country ages ago. I’m open to more wooden body parts, so if you have some, send them along! *Note, I have no need to collect skulls. I will leave that to some of my relatives.
If you think my adult collections are a bit off the wall, as a child I collected:
- Pamphlets. Every time we went to a motel/hotel (not often), I would collect the tourism pamphlets. Then somehow I discovered that I could send away to companies for information on their products, and thus collect more pamphlets! I sent away at least twenty letters to places like Firestone, using up all my dad’s business stamps, just so I could get these pamphlets. I had a dresser with pretty skinny drawers, like a tallboy. One drawer was filled with pamphlets. I have no defense for this collection other than we didn’t have an encyclopedia set, it was before the Internet, I craved information, I craved words, I craved reading, I craved learning, and I craved what I would later realize might be called research. I just loved words so much I needed all the words I could find. I no longer have this collection.
- Bird Parts. Yes, I know this one is odd, and my mother put a stop to it as soon as she discovered the little wooden box in my closet with bird heads and claws that my cat left over after she finished eating a bird beneath my bed. They were petrifying nicely. This was around the time I wanted to be a pathologist, and the birds were already dead, it wasn’t like I was the cat, you know. So it made sense to me. But my mother feared collecting dead bird parts might lead to collecting, I don’t know what she thought. But I had to stop.
- Teeth. Yikes, I can see you running away. But, you see, there was a time I wanted to become a dentist. So it made total sense to collect my brother’s baby teeth as they were falling out. I had a couple of own teeth and put them under plastic wrap in my scrapbooks.
Just go ahead, tell me something weird you collect or collected as a child. Show me up. I dare you.
Sorry for the blurriness in this week’s image:
This week’s theme is Scents that Conjure up Memories…
- Fresh Pastry –> Paris. My then-boyfriend/now-husband and I backpacked through Europe during our university years. Okay, this was a long time ago, and I had never tasted croissants before! For years after visiting Paris, and even sometimes now (despite the proliferation of croissants in my part of Canada since), if I pass a bakery and catch the whiff of freshly baked pastries, I am transported back to memories of the left bank, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sewers of Paris (which was a very interesting tour, although no croissants were consumed during the informative boat trip).
- Chainsaw Oil or Sawdust –> My Husband’s Early Forestry Days. My husband is now in the business end of the forest industry, but he began as a silviculture field forester plus he logged with my dad for a brief spell. Now, whenever he gets firewood or “prunes” (his term for huge tree haircuts) in our backyard and then comes in the house, when I hug him I breathe deeply of his work shirt. I admit it, I find the scent of chainsaw oil and/or sawdust romantic! (By the by, the hero in WHERE SHE BELONGS, Adam Wright, is a forester–shameless plug).
- Mothballs –> Visiting Other Granny. My “Other Granny” was my mom’s mom, my maternal grandmother. She always lived in very small houses, and the closets smelled like mothballs. She has been gone a very long time, but I will forever associate the scent with her. And you know what? She’s not the sort who would mind it. 🙂
- Scent of Fireplace Burning (well, firewood IN fireplace) –> Watching Movies on TV with my DH and Our Kids. I love the scent of firewood burning in an open fireplace! We are lucky enough to have a wonderful chimney in the middle of our house, in the family room, which is in the basement. My family loves movies, and we watched a lot of movies with our kids with a hearty fire crackling on the hearth. When your fireplace is in the middle of the house, as opposed to an exterior wall, a fire in the fireplace heats the whole place, giving it a super cozy feeling. The scent is “home” to me.
Do you have any scents that conjure up good memories?
Welcome back to the #ListifyLife Spring Challenge! Weird Talents or Skills I Have…
- Conversing with Animals and Puppets, Especially Allie McBeagle. Now, I have enjoyed talking “for” animals and inanimate objects since I was around 18 and my then-boyfriend/now-husband bought me a Grover hand puppet. Honestly, creative folks shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near muppets, puppets, and the like. I always talked “a bit” for previous cats and dogs, but Allie McBeagle pretty much jumped into my brain and started conversing regularly with me from the time she was a few months old. She’s slowing down in that department now that she’s 14 and a half. She no longer reports on her earlier entrepreneurial endeavors (like beagle T-shirts, the Beaglah University she started in England, or “Alpha Training”), but we do okay. Believe me when I say, with a beagle around, I am never alone.
- Predicting Weather with My Knee. Eighteen seems to have been a defining year for me. In 1978 I was in a high school production of Oklahoma, and I had to dance during some dream sequence scene. There was a wagon wheel backstage, and someone (accidentally, I hear) pushed me into it right before I needed to go on-stage. I really REALLY hurt my knee, but didn’t tell the doctor about it for, oh, thirty years. It took several months for the knee to heal to the point where I only have to pop it several times a day. I really don’t know what’s wrong with it, but it’s fairly reliable at predicting rain. It’s really picking up on barometric pressure changes in the air, not actual rain. But if I tell you, “It’s gonna rain,” I usually mean within hours.
- Objects Fly Off Shelves/Out of My Hands for No Reason. I can’t quite figure this one out. All I know is that if I’m opening the bathroom medicine cabinet, 80% of the time something will fly out at me. Or I’ll drop whatever I’m holding that I just took out. This goes for kitchen cabinets, too. I gather it’s because I’m a klutz or not paying enough attention, or I lack hand-eye coordination, but I’m also the type who gets in an elevator which then refuses to go anywhere, or if I step on an escalator I’m likely to get my jacket caught in some mechanism or other. This sort of thing happens to me all of the time. I’ve just come to accept it, but my husband shakes his head.
- I Can Put My Foot Behind My…Never Mind. My chiropractor says not to do it anymore, so I haven’t practiced in awhile. It’s just one foot. The other doesn’t work as well. But putting my foot…wherever I can put it just leads to spinal problems, so we’re done with that.
Do you have any weird talents or skills?