Archive for the ‘This & That’ Category

Quick Palm Springs Break

Friday, March 16th, 2018

I recently returned from a week’s visit to Palm Springs with my husband. This gave me a great chance to see where my parents spend their winters. My first time in Palm Springs, and I loved it. Palm Springs has a great, laid-back vibe, and, well, it kinda reminded me of Fred Flintstone’s Bedrock City. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Bedrock City is based on Palm Springs (I shall have to google that and see if I’m right).

We had some “bad weather” (aka clouds) while there, but still plenty of pool time. Had a chance to visit the zoo and also ride the Aerial Tram. Here’s a shot of me with my Dad at the top of the tram.

Here’s another of my husband playing with the big rocks:

And me, afraid of slipping down the slope, so this is as far as I got:

I usually post photos on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. I’m trying to get better at doing it here.

Did you have a chance to take a break somewhere warm this winter? I’m now back to snow, which thankfully is finally melting (slowly…so slow…ly…).

A Slushy Walk

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Between bouts of clouds and slushy snow, it’s a beautiful day. Ghost of Allie pulled me away from my laptop and took me for a walk. She’s much faster now that she’s not in earthly form. We happened to pass the house of one of my “old man friends” from the dog park. There were two special old guys with dogs with the same name (different breeds). Both called Shadow, humans named Bob and Jim. I remembered their names by thinking of Jim-Bob Walton. Bob passed away from an aggressive cancer maybe over a year ago. Maybe longer. His Shadow died a week later. Jim continued to walk to the park even after his own Shadow died. But then Allie and I changed our patterns, and I stopped seeing Jim.

What a delight to find Jim out shoveling snow today (he’s in his late 80s last I knew). I didn’t know if he was still around or not. I don’t know if he recognized me, but we chatted, and I was so pleased Ghost of Allie decided to drag me on this walk. It just lifted my spirits to see Jim still in his huge house and still obviously managing. Way to go, Jim. Thinking of Bob. Jim-Bob Dog Park Old Man Friends…I’ll remember you both fondly.

A New Year – A New Word(s) of Intention

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions. The surest way for me not to attain a resolution is to set it in stone. I don’t know, the rebel in me just balks. So for the past couple of years, I have chosen a Word of Intention for the year. 2016 was Gratitude. Each day, I strove (strived? stroved? egad) to feel grateful for some aspect of my life, no matter how small. My mood is affected by not only the ups and downs of daily life, the losses that naturally increase as we and our loved ones age, but also by the weather. And in my part of the world, in the winters we get our fair share of white-shrouded skies, in the spring comes the gray clouds and sometimes torrential rains (our region suffered severe flooding in 2017), and the summers, while usually nice, lately we are experiencing drought and forest fires up the whazoo, which makes for more clouds–with smoke–obscuring the skies. Something about a blue sky just lifts my spirits. The weight of clouds weighs me down. So my annual Word of Intention helps me get through those rainy or fire-smoky days,

For 2017, I chose Positivity as my Word of Intention. In retrospect, this was a fantastic choice. My dear doggie left this world in November, and I spent most of last year as her caregiver. Reminding myself to find the positive in a day–no matter how small–helped me focus on the positivity animals, and especially dogs, radiate. Once Allie died, I got very ill with a host of viruses that seemed to swoop in and take advantage of my total lack of defenses. Only wrapping myself in the feeling of positivity Allie gave me helped me through some of those days.

So along came the time to choose my word for 2018. I chose Joy, as an extension of Gratitude and Positivity. Here we are less than 10 days into the new year, though, and Joy alone isn’t quite working. As I gazed at the white sky while on a solo walk without my beloved pooch, I wondered why. And I decided Joy wasn’t…verby enough. It’s a fine plan to try and embrace a spark of joy in daily life as we proceed through the year, but I needed something more active to spur me along. Joy is my goal, but being Proactive every day, in my writing and in my life, I believe will help set me on the path to Joy.

And you know what? It’s working. The days I can’t find joy, I remind myself to just be proactive, to take a step toward a writing or personal goal. And once I’m in the midst of doing that, well, there comes my joy.

Some days, joy is elusive. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s hard to find joy when someone passes away or another sort of tragedy befalls a loved one. But by being proactive, I am confident that step by step, I will find my way back to joy every time.

What about you? Do you set Resolutions? Or do you have a Word of Intention for the year? The season? This month? That’s sort of the approach I’m taking with 2018. If February requires a word other than Proactive to pave the path to Joy, so be it. Don’t fence me in! My year is wide open.

Oh, Dear, Summer Happened Again!

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

I know, I know. I had high hopes for blogging over the summer. What can I say? Once Eldest Son comes home from China for a few precious weeks every year, I lose sight of everything else. And it seems most everyone is on social media these days rather than blogs.

Well, today ES and DILly 2 departed for Shanghai again, and I won’t see them for another ten months. So it’s back to writing–and hopefully back to some semblance of blogging. I have good intentions, I really do. But right now I’m delving into formatting for PICTURE IMPERFECT, which IS coming out this fall! This is my first time trying to format, both eBook and print. I have a professional in the wings, should it come to that. But I really would like to be able to change out my backmatter, etc., as needed without hiring out, so it’s time to get technical.


Listify Life – Favorite Places on the Internet to Waste Time

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

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?

In His Pocket

Monday, December 14th, 2015

One of my favorite running socks has been missing for months. The remaining sock has been hanging on the lost sock rung in our laundry, getting more and more lonely. I nearly threw it out last week.

But you know what happens if you throw out a missing sock, don’t you? The mate is sure to turn up very shortly. So I left the lonely sock hanging there.

Guess what? This morning my husband put on a pair of pants he doesn’t wear often, and the missing sock was in his pocket!

I always knew I was in the man’s pocket, but for reals? The only thing I can figure is that pants and sock were in the same load of laundry and somehow in the washing and drying process the sock got shoved into his pocket.

This morning I went running in my favorite running socks. 🙂

Allie McBeagle Claims Shared Lineage with Westminster Best of Show Winner “Miss P”

Friday, February 20th, 2015

“Claims” being the operative word.

Since it was announced the other day that Miss P the beautiful beagle soundly won Best of Show at the prestigious Westminster Dog Show, I have been hounded day and night (by Allie) to prove they share a lineage.

Alas, all I can turn up is that they hail from the same kennel, owned by Ms. Lori Crandlemire, and from whom we purchased the rights to house the “princess” Allie McBeagle in our home, to walk her twice a day, hike her on the weekends, provide her laps, try to evade her attempts to steal cat food, allow her a Dairy Queen ice cream cone now and then, and generally be her slaves.

Yup, Allie might not come directly from champion stock (ain’t got a clue), but she has a pedigree. Her official name is Tashtin’s Allie McBeagle, and her mom and pop are Carbonwillis’ Twilight Melody and Laponderosa’s Humphrey Bogart.

Upon discovering that Miss P was in competition with a dog that belongs to Patti Hearst and another that claims cousinhood with American President Barack Obama’s pooch, Allie said, “Woof!” (Translation: “Go, Beaglah!”)

Allie would like to announce that although she is now 13, has grown several fat lumps since the age of 10, is getting a tooth pulled Monday, has a stage three heart murmur and melanoma of the iris (which might render her a one-eyed dog sooner or later), and is on human health-food-store supplements to prevent kidney stones, she is still enjoying life to the fullest, as every beagle does. Go, Allie!

And congratulations to Miss P.

La Baby Beaglah:

Two months old, December 2001.

Two months old, December 2001.

In Regal Old Age:


Sweet Potato Recipes Filched from My Mom

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Whenever I am invited to Thanksgiving dinner, which invariably occurs because I never host Thanksgiving dinner, often I am asked to provide a sweet potato casserole of some sort. Considering I hate sweet potatoes, at first that struck me as sort of absurd. I had no sweet potato recipes! Alack, alas, a mess, turns out I can steal them from my mom!

It is Canadian Thanksgiving this coming weekend. Whether or not you are Canadian, you can make of these two sweet potato casseroles what you will. Apparently, they are quite tasty. Don’t believe me? Try them out. You can’t rely on me to tell you, because the only way I can handle eating one of them is by doubling the maple syrup ingredients.

My mother insists I am remarkably talented at making sweet potato casserole, so I must be doing something right. Your blood sugar, however, may not survive.

Maple-Sweet Potatoes:

– Preheat oven to 350°F. No, I do not know what the equivalent is in Celsius. Don’t worry about it. If you are Canadian, you know darn well that your stove is not in Celsius. Just suck it up that the stoves are still in Fahrenheit. If you are American, I’m sure you are thrilled that this recipe is in Fahrenheit. You’re welcome. If you are Canadian and you have a stove that is in Celsius, then you’re a lot richer than me, because I have no idea if they even exist.

– You want Celsius? Go outside.

– Take about eight sweet potatoes. Boil them in skins until tender. Cool them and cut them into slices.

– Do not ask me what happens to the skins at this point. They do not wind up in the casserole, so I am assuming they just kind of slide off after the sweet potatoes are boiled. If my readers are supposed to peel the sweet potatoes before boiling them, somebody please let me know in the comments and I will edit this post.

– Turn the potatoes into a baking dish that can hold all the potatoes. It has been a couple of years so I cannot remember if I grease the baking dish with margarine or cooking spray, or not. I’m thinking not. But if you thive on cholesterol, go ahead.

Here comes the sauce! Warning! Warning! Warning! The sauce in this recipe may be doubled. By that, I do not mean that you may choose to double the sauce if you wish. I mean that I might’ve doubled the sauce before writing it on the recipe card, but I do not recall.

SP Tip! If there are folks in your family who hate sweet potatoes, you may get them to eat the casserole by using my version of the sauce. If everyone in your family adores sweet potatoes, go ahead and cut the sauce portions in half. I would advise you not to cut the pecan pieces portion in half. I mean, who can have too many pecans?

You need:

– 1/4 cup butter, a half cup packed brown sugar, and a half cup maple syrup. Don’t scrinch on the maple syrup. Buy the best maple syrup you can find.

– Apparently you also need a quarter teaspoon salt and some pepper, but I don’t know why. Do with these condiments what you will.

Combine the butter, sugar, syrup, and salt – there you go, a use for the salt! Still no mention of the pepper… I tend to add pepper to practically everything I make, so take that under advisement. Combine all in sauce pan and heat to boiling. Lower heat and cook, stirring constantly until clear and thick. Then slop the sauce over the potatoes in the baking dish, and top with at least a half cup of pecan pieces.

Bake until bubbly. Voilà!

Sweet Potato Casserole:

This is a mashed potato type casserole. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

I do not like this recipe as much as the first one, but considering I eat about half a tablespoon of sweet potatoes every Thanksgiving, I am not really one to judge. Try both recipes and let me know what you think!

– Boil some sweet potatoes until tender. Do not ask me how many sweet potatoes to boil, because my mother leaves such things out of her recipes. The details are beneath her. I swear, she lives to mess with my head. Again, I am assuming that the skins somehow come off after they are boiled. I don’t know, that just makes sense? I should try it sometime with real potatoes. Hmmm.

– Judge how long it takes to boil the sweet potatoes until tender. While they are boiling, combine the following ingredients in a pot and heat until melted:

– Half a cup butter, a quarter cup maple syrup, half a teaspoon nutmeg, half a cup heavy cream, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. I do not think I have messed with these ingredients, because there is only one quarter cup of maple syrup listed. If I messed with the ingredients, there would be more maple syrup.

– Eat one of the tablespoons of brown sugar and then get another tablespoon to add to the sauce.

– Use only the very best maple syrup at your disposal! None of this using pancake syrup that is flavored to taste a bit like maple syrup instead of real maple syrup. Got it? Sheesh, I mean, we are Canadian here.

Once the potatoes are tender and the skins somehow come off, mash them. Really pound them. Destroy those suckers until they don’t have any eyes left. Potatoes are not steak. You cannot over pound them. Or maybe you can, and I just don’t know. Whatever!

Take the aformentioned heated ingredients (the stuff in the sauce pan) and beat it into the mashed sweet potatoes.

Transfer all to a baking dish and bake until bubbly. No, I do not have any conceptualization of how long that takes. Thanks, Mom.

I would show pictures, but I do not have pictures. If you use one of my recipes and it turns out, please send me a picture! If it doesn’t turn out, I don’t want to know about it.

*Blog post will be updated if I ever remember to take a picture.

Happy Early Canadian Thanksgiving!

Summer, Summer, Summer!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

And so far it’s been a great one. Eldest Son returned home from teaching abroad, and we went on a road trip to see Youngest Son at his co-op job in northern Alberta. A great family time was had by all.

I put the final touches on a submission for Evil Twin and sent said sub off to ET’s editor. Being ET, the submission got caught in cyber-space, an issue that has now been rectified. ET’s editor is looking at her submission now.

As for moi, I’ve gone over critique notes for PICTURE IMPERFECT, my upcoming single title mystery romance, and figured out how I’m going to layer in extra emotional depth. A key to uncovering extra depth to the emotion came through rewriting the synopsis, for once without a care as to the length but to what the synopsis could reveal to me about the characters and their journey. I am super excited to get into the revisions (my last round before the book hits a copy editor’s desk), but, alas, first I must hie myself down to San Antonio for the RWA National Conference!

I’ve visited Texas before, but never San Antonio. I’m really looking forward to exploring what sounds like a beautiful city. To connecting with writing friends, networking with writing professionals, and attending excellent workshops.

I’m taking a small camera. I’m usually not very good about these things, but if I can manage I’ll post a picture or two.

San Antonio, here I come!

How To Turn Into A Zombie

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

I know I’m a little late for Halloween this year, but for you Halloween die-hards who want to gain a head start for next year or for all the zombie TV and movie buffs out there who wish that they, too, could become zombies, an actual zombie infestation is not necessary! You can easily become a zombie by following the tried-and-tested steps listed below.

NOTE: Do not abandon the process until you have achieved your desired level of zombie status! Abandoning the process requires you to start all over again, losing yourself precious zombing time (zombing is whatever you choose to do while you are a zombie, and if it’s not already a word, it should be).

  1. Develop chronic insomnia. It REALLY HELPS if you already have a history of insomnia, particularly if you have suffered for over a decade. If you only have “trouble sleeping” now and then, then note that is it vitally important to practice poor sleep hygiene habits until your insomnia is entrenched. Poor sleep hygiene habits include, but are not limited to, sitting at your computer, TV, or staring at your tablet until right before you want to go to bed (repeating on a daily basis); quaffing huge amounts of caffeine; over-stressing, over-working, and forgetting to wash your hair; not going to bed or getting up at approximately the same time, yadda, yadda.
  2. So, you’ve mastered the chronic insomnia. Sorry if you had to go through the poor sleep hygiene habits to get there. Some of us come by insomnia naturally. We are the lucky ones! But the trick to becoming a zombie is for any insomnia-coping mechanisms that you have developed over the years to suddenly stop, without warning and for no discernible reason. Believe me, this step, which, I admit, might require a tad of the supernatural if you are not already super and natural yourself (we can’t all be), is of tantamount importance. If you can not persuade your insomnia-coping mechanisms to abandon you, continue repeating Step 1 until you feel half-dead. Because FEELING zombie-esque takes you halfway to getting there!
  3. Try new insomnia-coping mechanisms that plain old don’t work and just make you feel worse. For some of us, taking melantonin, which others recommend for fixing a faulty sleep cycle, will result in restless nights with Alice-in-Wonderland-like dreams where everything feels so vivid and horrible and anxiety-ridden that you’ll wish you could wake up and when you do you’ll be exhausted…well, I can’t recommend this step enough for achieving zombie status.
  4. Stop using hand sanitation gel or washing your hands. When you see someone sneeze on a shopping cart at the grocery store, wait until that person puts away the cart and then MAKE SURE you get that very cart. Do NOT wipe down the cart handles with an anti-bacterial wipe, and, after finishing your shopping, make sure to touch your face, your lips, or even your eyes. If you need to put in eye drops often because your eyes are dry from laser eye surgery, so much the better. The dry eyes help you feel even more like a zombie!
  5. If you have not gotten sick in quite a long time, it might be necessary to repeat Step 4 as needed, be around sick people as much as you can, and eventually, if you’re lucky, you will catch a nasty virus that dries up your sinus cavity on one side of your head, completely blocks one ear, and renders your eye drops essentially useless. So your eyes are red, you are unbalanced (zombies hate balance), you are dizzy, and your brain begins to resemble Swiss cheese, because the insomnia combined with the weird sinus-blocking virus such as you have never before experienced will, essentially, turn you into an idiot unable to concentrate or focus on anything resembling creativity. Good work!
  6. Sometime before Step 4, book a flight somewhere to coincide with the timing of Step 5. DO NOT MISS THIS STEP. A plane trip is the perfect way to ensure that your blocked ear will remain blocked for three weeks, thus contributing to your coveted zombieism in a big way.
  7. Plan your destination carefully. I find that if you go somewhere where you can attend three rock concerts, or stage shows, or huge musical extravaganzas, in a row, that are so loud that despite your blocked ears you believe you can still hear them – that’s half the battle. Or a quarter of the battle. I’m not so good at math, so don’t quote me. Just pummel your ears with as much noise as you can, meanwhile continuing with as little sleep as possible and also maintaining the blocked ear syndrome for AS LONG AS YOU CAN.
  8. Through your “suffering” of the virus, do not take any cold or flu medications. They will disrupt your path to zombieism. WARNING: Do not take so much as an over-the-counter ear drop.
  9. When you return from the trip, which hopefully required several plane changes and the necessary noisy events, have the blocked ear move from one ear to the other. Back and forth, back and forth. You get the idea. For a day, have the blocked ears nearly clear. Go to your doctor for another issue, discover you have too much wax in your ears, and he or she will wash out the wax with blasting water. This step is essential for developing tinnitus.
  10. Tinnitus is when you hear ringing in your ears. The ringing, if you’re not used to it, can easily drive you insane. The most blessed among you will discover that your Eustachian tubes are completely blocked despite the wax removal, and that your ear tubes will remain blocked for a good two or three weeks. All efforts to unblock them prove fruitless. This is a good sign!
  11. Just when you feel like your mind is the consistency of Swiss cheese combined with tapioca pudding is a wonderful time to develop an allergy to a substance you may have slathered all over your body. In absence of an allergen, dry shave your legs (while you’re at it, dry shave your entire self). In the absence of an allergen, the rash from the dry-shaving will make you feel most zombie-like!
  12. For some of you, this is the point where you will feel that you have reached Zombie Nirvana. If such is the case, go out and commence your zombing. But! You might not get the full enjoyment out of your zombie status without completing the next step.
  13. Trip and fall on your face. You might have to precede this “accident” with a previous injury to your hip just to reinforce it. The idea is that it will then feel totally natural to have to drag one of your legs behind you. If you already have an old rotator cuff injury or carpal tunnel issues, so much the better! You’ll get to drag your leg and have your arm slump! This will make you much too slow to catch up to humans, because who really wants to eat human brains, anyway, while still maintaining your zombie status.

That’s it! Thirteen easy steps to becoming a zombie. Have fun!

Fine Print: Do not attempt without parental authorization or a physician’s note. Author is not responsible for those who take her seriously (or those who do not). Author is not responsible at all.