Tag Archives: Blogging

2 steps forward and 5 back

I started transferring my website from one overpriced, gouging hack to what I hoped was a better site on Dec 11th. On Jan 3rd I finally got the new site to stop screwing me around and moved to a third site recommended by a close friend.  Fingers crossed.

Right now one site has been moved, but it’s set up to email me at my author’s mailbox. Which isn’t working because the 1st host no longer has the website, and I can’t get the 3rd site to change the email address they use without clicking on the verification email which is not working because….   round and round we go.

Good news!  I just got another review for A Test of Loyalty and Alone in the Night, my 2 NA gritty urban books.  At least, I think it’s a good review.

“I hate you, I hate you! I was up most of the night!
I could not stop reading your books… LOVE them! Love your books;”A Test of Loyalty” and “Alone at Night”. Read them real fast just couldn’t get enough… extremely well written! Seriously I’m happy I had both books … I would have been really dead not to be able to read the second one right away.”

So, next time on my struggles with tech… maybe I’ll have email because right now it’s really annoying not to. I had a book signing last weekend and another next weekend with NO WEBSITE!!

I also have books to review, and you guessed it… no website to post them to!

Nano killed me this year

I have officially given up on Nano for the first time in years. I had a good streak, 4 straight years, but this year it was not working. It was closer to pulling teeth from a live, awake and pissed off bobcat, than writing.

It didn’t help that we had a long, warm Fall which encouraged mold growth up the wazoo. Usually we have had several days of hard freeze by now, which kills off the mold. Mold of pretty much any kind, but especially cellulose mold, gives me migraines. Bold, visual, pounding, nauseating migraines. Guess what the moldy leaves and grass are made of?

Staring at a computer screen trying to force out a set number of words didn’t help either.

Neither did the pressure of a deadline, trying to get 2 books up on every imaginable platform, a sinus infection thing that may be mold related since I’ve had it for a month (same length of time as the migraine, more or less)

Now, I can hear a few fellow migrainers questioning the month long migraine and my still being able to function at all. And in most cases, you would be right. But I’ve been living on antihistamines, migraine meds, tylenol, etc. And I’ve had them for 42 years. (OMG does that make me sound old!) I started them the year before puberty hit. (That’s a bit better)

And since I have always been allergic to mold and cigarette smoke, although undiagnosed until 2003, I am accustomed to being able to function. Not brilliantly, witness my 500 word days on Nano, but enough to eat, dress, wash dishes, go to my Dr for more meds…

I end up with a “migrainey”. Flashy lights, but no real hallucinations, some light sensitivity, but not crippling. (except making coffee before 9am because the sun bounces off our neighbour’s barn’s tin roof right into my kitchen by the… you guessed, coffeepot.)

Other things are difficulty focusing; both eyes and attention, slight nausea so I munch salty things constantly, short temper and other migrainey things, just in smaller amounts.

But don’t worry about A Ring of Earth. I will still write it, just without that kind of pressure. I have someone who wants the complete, perfect manuscript next fall. So… deadline, but reasonable. Hopefully, it will be the first in a series of five books. I’m hoping to pitch it to an agent and/or publisher next year.

To celebrate my freedom to be migrainey, I will be posting a free coupon code in a few days for last year’s Nano winner, Alone in the Night. It’s a gritty, realistic look at teens from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds fighting to survive in the worst neighbourhood in Ottawa. There are elements of sexual/ physical abuse, drugs, homelessness, and street gangs. Recommended for 14+ years

If you have not read the first in the series, A Test of Loyalty, comment and I can send you a coupon for that, too.  My goal is to get 25+ reviews up on Amazon so they’ll put me on the “People who looked at this book, also looked at this one” list.

So, see you in a few days with the codes!

A writer’s best friends!

When I write, I immerse myself completely in my story. I call myself a “method writer”, Similar to a “method actor” but less annoying. (Why is my hubby laughing?)

I surround myself with tokens of that world; an intricate ring, a photo of a misty mountain, a particular scent… Then I disappear completely. Not always good for something on the stove, but great for imagery in the book.

It’s the burned offerings for supper that annoy me. I know better than to ignore something on the stove. But it happens, rarely, but always the most expensive meals.

So I have decided that these two things are my best friends in the kitchen. A crockpot and an Instant Pot. These two are programmable, useful for more than one thing, and holy guacamole, do they make supper easy!

*I get a small percentage of sales off these 2 items if you purchase them through this page. The crockpot is an incredible price! And if you buy through this page, Amazon won’t close my acct for inactivity.

Both are programmable, so you can pile everything into the pot in the morning, set the timer and ignore it all day! My kinda cooking. The Instant Pot also has 7 functions, including slowcooker. So technically, you only need the one.

I have made chicken and veggie curry in 25 minutes (from frozen) in the Instant Pot. I’ve also made broth so strong it gels in the fridge in 2 hours. THat usually takes at least 24 hours in the crockpot.

I also use them both for making stuff to can; jams, leftovers, stews…. The Instant Pot even lets you pressure can up to 4 500ml jars. Like leftover 20 minute chili?

 

This week in writing…

So I am flying to Winnipeg tonight at 8, arriving about midnight. So I can spend the whole day freaking out about forgetting stuff. It’s my M-i-L’s 80th birthday, and we are having a 5 day celebration! Four if you don’t count the rack of lamb for last night’s dinner.

This is going to be a break from writing, and a chance to catch up on two books I promised to review. So I’m taking my tablet, but not the laptop. Tablet is great for reading on, lousy for writing.

I need the break, I’ve been writing so much I’m starting to confuse conversations in the book for conversations with my hubby. I also had my author’s photos done!

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So, I’ll be offline for a few days. Try not to bring on the apocalypse while I’m gone.

Climate change and Senate seats?

I’ll start with the Senate. Further to his agenda of making the Senate (in Canada) non-partisan, PM Trudeau II has opened the senate to 35 non-partisan, self-nominated appointees.

What this means is that if you feel you’d make a good senator, don’t religiously follow one party, and can find three other people who think you’d be a good senator, you can apply to be appointed.  Last time there was an open season on senate seats, there were 300 applicants. That makes it a 1 in 10 shot.

I’ll take those odds. Although I have asked 10 people to write me a letter of support and only ONE has done it. Does no-one but me think I’d be a good senator?

I’m educated, open -minded (about everything but Harpes) and a strong supporter of  equality, human rights, equal pay, religious freedom, climate change strategies, and more.My foster son, with whom I’m still close, is a gay person of colour, so I’m keen on both those groups having rights and protections under the law. I have worked with and done a documentary on Indigenous groups at risk, including the devastating poverty of remote reservations.

I follow politics and keep an eye on legislation for its impact on specialty groups. I’m not quite so open minded that my brain falls out, but I’m willing to listen. I’m white, from a poor family, but now have a foot firmly in the middle-class. I know what it is to be hungry, to choose between hydro and lunches at school. I have also seen the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

I’m mobility impaired, I know how insufficient disability support is at both federal and provincial levels, I know how poorly executed a lot of “accessible” buildings are.

I’m a firm believer in stopping omnibus Bills (one bill = one changed/ new law), and in having Bills written in plain language, if you mean X, say X, don’t leave it open to interpretation and abuse.

I’m also a very spiritual person, I formed and led Ottawa’s largest open neo-pagan temple in history. I have been a spiritual elder for twenty years, and am well respected in the community. I have published articles on paganism for a non-pagan audience, and have written for pagan magazines.

As a senator, I would watch closely every Bill that may impact individual freedom of choice, pay and job equity, religious and cultural freedom, health care and any that slide into omnibus status.  I would fight for the average, lower-to-middle-income guy. I would fight for the environment.

I just need three letters from people who’ve known me more than five years, although “fan mail” would also help. LOL

 

And speaking of climate change.

This is my garden 3 years ago, and this year. See a difference?

2013

2016

20160623_133630   Can you see the difference? I sure do! It is getting hotter and drier even in Canada. Since when is 35C+ the norm ? I used to wear sweaters in August!

Desks and writerly rituals

A friend (also an author) posted a photo on Facecrack of his new writing space. It’s the spare bedroom in their apartment, now with a Murphy bed and his desk, bookcases, laptop, etc. It’s gorgeous. It’s pristine and decorated, and the exact opposite of mine.

The left one is mine.  Jamieson‘s looks like something from a magazine.  I tell myself I’d never get anything done there, too clean, where would I put my notes? The cat says I’m just jealous. Yeah, but where are his Crabbies? Where is his ingredients for a Gimlet (and if I used the gin made in Canada, would it be a Gimli?)

I’m thinking that we could make this comparison of desks/ writing space a thing. Karen Marie Moning recently posted a photo of her incredibly beautiful writing space on Facecrack. I was overcome with the greenies. And decided to try traditional publishing for my novels, and self publish or sell to anthologies, the short stories. Like my writing hero, Gail Z Martin, (I’d love to see her writing space)! She self publishes short stories on Amazon, based on her traditionally published novels. She is also incredibly prolific!

As for rituals, well… I get up 8ish, as I have a big insomnia problem and it takes hours to fall asleep. Then I feed cats, get coffee, do email and FB until about noon, then write until my hubby comes home. Some days, if it’s really flowing, I chase him out of the living room, and continue to write.

What do you do to tell the muse it’s time to show up? Other than shower, weed the garden or try to sleep?

I’ve rearranged my living room to make an “author’s photo booth” so I can get a proper author’s book cover photo. The cookbook cover photo is fun, but not appropriate to all things.

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In fact, it’s barely appropriate for any cookbook other than the Asian one. But I like it and it’s big enough to pass the sniff test on a printer’s upload program.

BTW, both the Asian and Indian cookbooks have gone into a second printing!  Go, me! And they will soon be reviewed by a professional chef and caterer. Not sure if I’m excited or scared witless.

 

My dear hubby and I are renewing our passports, decided to go for the 10 year one, as I’m not going to get any younger.  lol

Although I must say, 55 (my birthday was the 6th) has been pretty awesome. One short story in an anthology, a publisher ASKED ME to submit another story for a feminist fantasy anthology. And the writing is coming so easy! If only the garden could weed itself.

So, that’s a view into my warped brain for this Monday. Stay tuned…

Old friends and birthday surprises!

A few days ago, I turned 55. Many would shy away from admitting such an age, but I take pride in it. I am less thrilled with asking what age the senior’s discount starts at, but frugal is an art form where I’m from.  🙂

Laurie Stewart 6-7-2015 Besides, this is me at 54. Not too shabby.

A bit of backstory on my chronic pain and degenerating spine…. in 1980 I was diagnosed with Scoliosis, my back was curved wrong. Not too bad, and not painful. But this shiny-eyed young surgeon had an experimental technique he thought would fix the curve and let me live a better life.

He convinced my parents to sign off. The operation was a “limited success”. Years of body casts, hip to neck braces and pain followed. In 1985, he tried to fix it again. Messed it up worse, and informed us that I’d be in a wheelchair for life by age 35.

Well, suck on this, Mr. Expert! Not only am I still walking, I garden! And I paint and write and occasionally produce films! Twenty. Years. Later!

Okay, I do use a wheelchair or scooter in conventions, festivals, malls or big stores, but most of the time I walk. Just, not far or for long, but that’s beside the point. I can still walk!

I have also not just survived, but thrived after partners who broke my ribs, beat me into a miscarriage, cheated on me, stole from me….  And I met and married the most wonderful man, ever! So, HA! to those guys too.

As for the surprise birthday party, well… it starts with Blue Gypsy Wines. A small fruit winery owned and run by awesome friends, where we often have BBQ dinners and buy way too much cranberry wine. It also starts with planning a quiet luncheon with a couple friends, then driving to the winery to try out the new sangria slushies. (May I just say O. M. G!) And in a hilariously accurate attempt, my auto-correct wants to change slushies to lushes!

So we drove for an hour to my friend’s house, with dearest hubby even doing a little moaning about the drive for veracity. And we had a lovely visit. And incredible lunch! Hummus crusted chicken breasts, GF herb-cheese scones, deviled eggs, 3 kinds of cold cuts, salad with home-made herb dressing, quinoa salad, and a shortcake with berries and whipped coconut cream. This was about 4 days after my birthday, so I thought nothing of the cake being anything other than yummy.  I was so stuffed I waddled.

After chatting all afternoon, we realized that the winery closed in about an hour, so we hurried over. I needed to try that sangria slushy.

I walked in to masses of friends! Including one I see only every few years! It was awesome! We talked and laughed and caught up until long after they should have closed. But being wonderful, awesome friends, Louis and Claire kept the winery open for us.

We had another dinner, and I practically needed to be rolled out by the end.

Claire is also an amazing GF baker. She made me a salted caramel birthday cake with caramel sauce held in by fluffy caramel frosting. It was a real cake, light, flavourful… perfect. (Claire runs Indulge! the food fare at Blue Gypsy.)

Only one skinny piece was left to take home. Soooo good!

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The lone surviving piece! I would have taken a photo of the whole thing, but it disappeared too fast.