Wednesday, November 30, 2016


I am actually sad that the month is over but also exhausted, so therefore relieved. I am so proud to say that I did not miss one day of writing and now have over 150 pages (double spaced) of a manuscript to work off of. I actually plan to stick it in the freezer for two months before I go to edit it.

I did not read ANYTHING that I wrote for the first time ever. Each day was just a matter of keeping on. Which led to some great momentum. I was able to stay focused on where the story was headed instead of perfecting how to tell it. I have finally embraced the methods that seem to work best for me, which is also such a win in its own right.

I feel like I've reached a different understanding of writing that I have been striving for --> knowing the ending. This was another big one because I had to realistically get my characters there. It gave me momentum and made me think harder about character choices and therefor character identity.

Lastly, NaNoWriMo has given me pacing. Since I had my scene's as a sentence on index cards (with one to four jot notes) ahead of time, I knew that I had a limited amount of scenes that I could use each day. This forced me to draw things out that I normally wouldn't have. To really enhance the detail and give more meaning to why the character was there. I played more with scent and sound and really stretched which helped me be there with my character.

This was a great experience and it was easier this year because 1. This book has been in my brain for a long ass time, 2. I had a plan and the random things floating in my head turned into 'scenes' for the character to get through 3. I didn't let myself fall behind, I planned ahead and wrote more whenever I could to get ahead.

I imagine this process is so different for everyone but I'll keep doing this every year and maybe try a NaNoCamp in April?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

NaNoWriMo - Day 5

So it's day 5 of NaNoWriMo and my scene titles have come in real handy. On a set of large index cards I wrote a heading and then scribbled some notes to jog my memory further. I try to just use one index card a day but sometimes I've used as many as three if the scene ends up being really lame. Then there's the whole blank white space on the back of the index card and when I think up some new scene I jot it down there. 
Index Cards as scene notes
The last time I did an outline like this of only a descriptive sentence as a scene was 4 years ago and it worked SO WELL for me that I can't believe it took me this long to try it out again. Granted I don't know where exactly the story is headed in terms of plot. Had to check some things in the wonderful "Writing Fiction" text book. So phenomenal. I really hated reading it cover to cover but it's an amazing book and now I enjoy it for reference.

Image result for writing fiction a guide to narrative craft
Awesome book for writers

So what have I gotten out of re-reading the chapter on plot:

Story says, "... and then..."

Plot asks, "WHY?"

Feel the cause and effect

So that's mainly what I'm up to. I've also been journaling and doing a couple random flash fiction stories from prompts just to keep things fresh. NaNoWriMo can get really intense so I'm really doing my best to only think about it when I am actually writing it. 

Best of luck!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016 - Day 1

This is the first year that I have prepped for NaNoWriMo. I have a book that's been brewing and has taken different shapes in short story and now it is ready/time/I really want get it on paper. I used some tips online and made index cards with possible scenes I've been dreaming up. I'm not the greatest at story progression but at lest I have some scenes to get me started each day. I'm hoping that will really help with my word count.

After talking with someone at my new writing group I also learned that you actually win some things from NaNoWriMo. I guess it's just been a personal journey the last few years of doing National Novel Writing Month, I make my own spreadsheet to track my progress and only once have submitted words to their site. This year I plan to use all that has to offer. I love their NaNoToons and I've even been reading the emails of encouragement they send out. It wasn't that I was against it before I was just worried it would serve as a distraction.

These are my 'Must Haves' for writing these days. That pink piggy timer is invaluable. For me the sweet spot is 45 minutes. I can't get out of the chair until it rings. Not to pee, not to get a glass of water, not to grab a sweater. I have to be in the chair with pen or key board for that time. It gives me the same feeling as a hike, you can't just stop walking every time you're uncomfortable to have a snack or change your layers. It's better when you wait until you reach a certain km or check point. 

The Candle is a newer commitment. I don't usually love scented candles but I couldn't resist the Frost Beard Studio ones. They're not overwhelming, it has a nice scent and someone else described writing with a candle in the room, it feels special? It's comforting and ritualistic for me and I tend to go with what works, and it's working. Makes the space cozier too. 

The keyboard is bluetooth and can hook up to my phone which I have Google Docs on. I find the small screen tedious to read so it helps to keep me focused on what I want to say not what I just did. Editing and rereading are my biggest pulls to slow down my day's word count. I can easily forget that editing is a whole other process and always want to dive in and fix things right away. 

So, there it is, NaNoWriMo begins. I have done my 1670 words for the day and feeling good about tomorrow. All the best if you're working on a novel and if you're a NaNo nerd add me as a buddy - Stagewhisper

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Tufted Headboard

Pinterest was invaluable with the finding a stagey and giving me the confidence to make this headboard.

So, step one was grabbing the wood board that was randomly in the house and had been moved around to it's home leaning against a wall in the garage. Bought some carpenters glue and smeared that all over. You can see in the top of the photo is some foam. We had this on our bed for a while but no longer needed it so another re-purposed piece made this project WAY cheaper. Dan really thought the foam was useless but I knew it could live on.

I took over most of the floor in the spare room with this project. I really wanted to use a fabric that I already had but the only one I really liked I didn't have enough material to hang over the edge and I liked that the wood hung over the edge of the bed a little. So off to Fabricland where I found this beauty. There was three yards and it was 80% off and I found a button bin that was three packs for $1 which is practically unheard of in button world. 

Mr. Nacho gave his approval so on it went. Damn! I didn't take a photo but, once I glued the foam on the wood, I grabbed sharpie and made dots where I wanted all the holes. Then grabbed a kitchen knife and cut a large cross over the dots so the fabric had somewhere to go and I could feel the hole without having to guess where my mark may be placed while the fabric was on. 

Then I grabbed the drill and drilled small screws. This made it so easy and fast going. I can't imagine having to sew through all that fabric. Once all the holes were seen to I flipped over the board and used a staple gun to pull the fabric tight and secure it on the back.

I filled all the holes with random white buttons and borrowed Sue's glue gun to put them in place. This was a NO-Sew project. All fitting pieces together and using durable materials. I really can't believe people attempt this with just a needle and thread. So glad I scoured Pinterest! That place can be a tunnel of overwhelming crafts but if you have a project in mind there's such a wealth of tips. So, here is mine! Ready to be leaned up against to read on.


It's not perfect by any means but I'm certainly happy that it cost me less than $50 instead of a new one for $200-$1000!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Cherry Creek Cabin

 Our first in B.C. road trip took four hours around Kootaney lake to a cabin just outside of Kaslo.

There were many windy mountain roads, maybe even more than are around Manitoulin and Sault Ste. Marie. We took a ferry, it was free and you don't need an advanced ticket, you just show up and hope you get on.

We saw many bears and enjoyed some really nice days with this view. I did a paddle board across the  Kootany river and was pleasantly reminded of my quiet days at Casa Cayuco in Panama. All the memories of going out on my own and then teaching guests how to Stand Up Paddle Board. The water was so calm and deep. In the sun it was a forest green, but in the shadows it looked like black glass, or making ripples in onyx.

Oh yeah, I made Sangria in this giant vat.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

No more golf for me

 It was a tough choice but I gave my two weeks notice at the golf course. I was grateful for the job but it just became overwhelming and exhausting when I had to work doubles. My writing was hell-a-suffering. I had to go back to the roots of why we moved here, and why we bought a house: Enjoy life more, write more, be outside more.

6am at opening the golf shop doors
goodbye golf world

Deer Bums

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Washer or not...

Our first 'paid for' reno in the house was putting in a washing machine upstairs so that downstairs can be it's own private rental suite. It didn't go so well.

Ummmmmm where does the water come in? Yup, that's right, it's just a drain pipe...

Thankfully when I texted the plumber he came right over, hooked up the faucets and now we're in business with a washer! Less than $500 for the washer and install, looking pretty schnazzy.

This is my new drying system:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Turning Tables

Ok, sorry for the cheesy title, I just love alliteration.

Dan (mostly) and I recently fixed up a table. Our first big house project together. Sanding, staining, varnishing. $100 of materials later we have a spruced up dining room table. Here are the before and after pics. 

We bought enough stain and varnish to do a few tables and chairs and boxes and anything wood. So let the sanding begin.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A New Kind of Adventure

So folks, I'm on a new kind of adventure. I didn't quite realize how much I missed my blog until a friend's Dad started one that made me laugh:

I'm on an adventure and I'm in one place - what a concept. I've traded in my 'ready to escape at any time bag' for a house. I don't know the next plane I'll jump on, not even mild plans in the works and I'm not hyperventilating. I'm happy.

I found a way to make travel and living in one place work out well in Thunder Bay for the past three years. With my frugal lifestyle at home I afforded travel once every three months. It's not posted here but I went to the United States, around Canada & Spain. I figured out how to just make it part of my lifestyle. I'm not afraid that I'm going to lose it, or that travel will somehow not pull me in anymore. Discovering places and people will always give me that special adrenaline.

So here I am, back in blogosphere. This lighthearted way of writing, making writing errors, and being candid. I've gotten more serious with my writing the past few years and (as I sigh and roll my eyes) I want to get serious about submitting more, but I also want a break from formalities and reconnect.

So back to this adventure: we've taken the plunge into investment.
(I say WE happily too! It's taken a long time to stuff that word into my vocabulary).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I wonder if I'll ever write on here as consistently as I did...

There are some new exciting things going on in my life. I have a book done and ready to send off to publishers. I have a fancy new sewing machine that I'm making my book covers on...

 I have a studio space and Mr. Nacho is the coolest cat. I keep thinking I don't do all that much here in Thunder Bay but I guess that's just not true.

I've been part of a writing group that meets once a month. I'm going to school and working on two books. I'm on track to meet my goal of reading 50 books this year. (see that here)

I've also gone through a spectrum of hair... this was the last one and I just chopped it all off today. 

Well there's a mini update.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Don't be just a tourist

"Please be careful." My dad said before we hung up on Skype. It was in reference to my up coming Cuba trip. "Of course!" I replied, "What could I get up to? I'll be staying at a resort." 
He just gave me a knowing look and repeated, "Be careful."

About 20 minutes later, in between texting with Tara about bikini's, cameras, sunscreen, departure times, if I should bring the crib board, I threw in "Wanna be a legal mule for medical supplies?"

As it happened, a mere 5 minutes after talking to my dad I found something on the internet called Not Just Tourists. A non-profit organization that has three ways to support other countries around the world when you're traveling. Their website seemed legit and it linked me to a Not Just Tourist-Toronto branch, and within a few moments I was calling to see if I could volunteer on such short notice, my flight left in just a few days. They assured me they would try to get a suitcase together that I could pick up when I stopped in Toronto the day before my Cuba departure.


Or so I thought... until I told my partner. In a very happy-go-lucky tone I said something like, "I decided to volunteer to take medical supplies to Cuba. Yeah, I'm just going to pick up a suitcase when I land in Toronto and then drop it off somewhere in Cuba..." 
"You're what?"
"The website has pictures."

To which Dan was the voice of reason and brought up some really good points that hadn't even crossed my mind. The main ones were:

1. Cuba doesn't mess around, especially when it comes to drugs (further research after this talk found that association with drugs in Cuba is a crime punishable by death) Who is packing this suitcase?

2. I had no idea where I was going to pick up the mystery case (something I really didn't see as a problem, I knew it would be downtown and I knew I'd know before I landed in Toronto)

3. I had no idea where I was going to drop off the suitcase. To which my retort was "... the city I'm dropping it off in is called Moron." (You can't search for streets in Google maps of Cuba and there is no street view.)

4. I didn't know anyone personally who had done this before. 

I'll address #4 first, this made me see a whole other way of thinking that gave me even more conviction to follow through. Other people probably thought this way, my friends probably felt this way, and now having done it I want to encourage everyone I know to give it a try.

The address of the pick up was figured out quickly and I was explicitly told to unpack and repack the suitcase so I'd know all the contents. When I got to Tara's that evening we looked at the goods. Everything checked out, there were bandages, vitamins, syringes, pretty much a closet full of supplies.
Not knowing exactly where I would be going to drop the supplies off didn't phase me. I had four addresses of drop off clinics in a town nearby the resort Tara and I would be staying at. 

Fast forward to the Cuban customs. I was nervous, all the warnings people had given me rang in my mind, I had my paperwork handy just in case. But no one asked, no one cared, I had zero problems and easily grabbed my bag and left the airport. 
Fast forward to Moron trip, we grabbed a cab and headed to the hospital.

Hospital in Moron, Cuba
Walking with receptionist
Waiting with cockroaches in the hall
my eyes are closed but the logo is there
Now... as much as I'd like to I'm not going to sugarcoat this. We got there and looking at the outside of the hospital I thought I was making a huge mistake. The place looked great from the outside and I thought I was about to offend someone with my "gift" (I was told explicitly NOT to call it a donation and practiced saying 'Regalo' in my head over and over.) So we got inside and immediately knew we were doing the right thing. This looked more like a converted middle school than a hospital. We were taken down many corridors and eventually were asked to wait in a hall for the director. It was then I realized I wish I hadn't spoken Spanish. Wishing that I had just played dumb and handed over the suitcase and walked away. After waiting for a while, getting hot and bothered, and squeamish for watching so many people pass by a giant cockroach flailing its legs while laying on it's back as if it were a normal thing, we were finally let into the room. The director explained (in Spanish) that he was not allowed to take the gift. It had to be given to a different organization who would distribute it fairly.
My spoiled Canadian self expected him to boot up his computer, connect to the internet and give me the address, directions, and phone number for this other location. But when internet is $6/hour that was not happening. He called his reception, who then called back with a phone number. Then he called that number and surprise... no one answered. No one had another number, or address, or directions.
I was getting annoyed by this point, I wanted to do a good thing and there seemed to be some hoops to jump through. There was a lot of back and forth until I finally got into my thick skull that this man could lose his job for accepting these supplies, which moments ago the receptionist seemed so excited about. So we up and left. With the bag. There were three other clinics on my list that I had gotten from the organization.

I'm going to jump ahead through the minutia, we found the other clinic, we dropped off the supplies, and were not too worse for wear.Apparently there was a doctor coming in later that day for a clinic that only happened at certain times, the lady in pink was the receptionist. If it wasn't for the logo on the door and some randomly placed chairs slightly representing a waiting room, I would have thought it was someone's house.

It's something I would do again but give myself more time.


Alright. WOW. Life is just a wave of pretty damn cool right now, so I wanted to share my beam of happiness. 2015 has started off with a bang. I actually submitted two things in January. A play for 10X10 and an application for Correspondence program of the Humber School for Writers. Today I just found out I got both. AND I got my Puzzometry puzzle in the mail. AND yesterday there was a huge snowfall covering Thunder Bay in an awesome blanket of hip level snow. AND I'm in an online writing class which made the whole correspondence program at Humber seem like the best way to go to school ever.
So open the pink champagne, do the work, show up, follow your dreams folks.