MESSAGE FROM THE GRAVE

Tom Thomson once said, “The way to paint is to paint.” This has certainly been true of Thomson. He never took any formal art classes. It has been said that he had “The confidence of inexperience.” He picked up techniques from other artists, but mostly he just had fun with his painting. Sure, he got […]

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SEVEN THINGS I’VE LEARNED WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION

  As I work on my next novel, set in 1911, I am amazed, though not totally surprised, how much work goes into preparing to write a simple scene. I have to consider every aspect of what is possible during this time period. Did they have cars? What kind of clothes did they wear? How […]

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YOU ARE IN GOOD COMPANY

A number of years ago, while taking piano lessons and worrying that I wasn’t good enough or getting any better, my teacher told me that it wasn’t helpful to compare myself to others who have been playing for years. Instead she reminded me to focus on the fact that, like Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Chopin, and […]

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A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON THE AGING POPULATION

I read an article in the paper recently about how the hospitals are so crowded nowadays that people are either forced to go home before they are ready, or they’re being dropped off at a shelter. The article went on to say that because of the increase in the aging population, they expect to see […]

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VALIDATION

“I’m so pissed off today. This happened and that happened. Why are they bothering me with this kind of stuff? I planned to do so much today and this had to happen,” she said, pulling her hair out. She was overwhelmed by the events of the day and venting to her husband. But then she […]

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WHAT ARE YOU FOR?

WHAT ARE YOU FOR? Such an interesting question. I came across it while listening to a Wild Woman Project video celebrating the Spring Solstice. With all the changes going on in the world today, particularly in the political realm, people are worried and want to know what they can do. The people at the Wild […]

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THE ROYAL NANNY

The Royal Nanny by Karen Harper is what is called a book of faction – this means it combines truth with fiction. The dialogue is made up, but many of the events and people actually existed. In this case, the Royal Nanny, Charlotte Bill, was the Nanny to the offspring of the Duke and Duchess […]

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THE TENTH GIFT

There’s an old saying, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.” Catherine Ann Tregenna, the heroine of Jane Johnson’s The Tenth Gift longs to escape the life that has been set out for her – that of marriage and babies, in favor of making a name for herself with her exquisite […]

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IN REMEMBRANCE

March 10, 2017 was a sad day in the literary world. Two great writer’s died: Richard Wagamese and Robert James Waller. Both authors have had an impact on my life, and I’d like to honour these two men by telling you a little about them. ROBERT JAMES WALLER: Bridges of Madison County. Who hasn’t heard […]

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PATH TO THE SILENT COUNTRY – The Final Years of Charlotte Brontë

  I was shocked when I heard that people were up in arms by the novel Jane Eyre when it first came out in print in 1847. People were offended that Jane Eyre could love a man (Mr. Rochester) who had had an illicit affair with a woman and bore him an child, of which […]

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MY MINI RETREAT

I don’t know if it’s because of lent – a time of death and resurrection, but it seems that a number of my friends, as well as myself, have been going through some kind of transition lately. For a while now there’s been a battle going on inside me that’s pitted intuition against logic. And […]

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WRITER’S STRESS

  I recently received an article across my desk about writer’s stress that really got me thinking. Well, thinking, and a little scared. I knew writing could be stressful at times, but I had no idea of the impact it could have on our health over the long term. It’s true, we have to deal […]

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A NEW WRITING PROJECT

And so it begins. The start of a new novel. How do I commence? Where will the story be set? What kind of research will I have to do? What genre will I pick? Who are my cast of characters? These are just a few things I will have to ponder, as I begin a journey […]

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WHAT’S YOUR LEGACY?

When we think of leaving a legacy behind, we think of something physical: money, land, a house, or perhaps some kind of creative work. It could also mean taking stock of your accomplishments and disappointments in the hope that you’ve created some kind of blueprint for your children to follow. Or perhaps you might be […]

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A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS – 25 To Be Exact

Julia Cameron is one of my absolute favorite authors of books on creativity and writing. I have learned so much about myself from reading her books. Every chapter asks you to think about the significant and the seemingly insignificant things in your life, so you can understand yourself better. One of the things she asks […]

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BOOK REPORT – Aliens should read Calvin and Hobbes

Every Saturday there’s a book report on an author of interest in the arts section of the Globe and Mail.  It’s my favourite part of the paper that even my husband, who likes to do the crosswords, allows me to read first.  I have often wondered what responses I would give if I was the […]

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GIRL RUNNER

When I first heard about Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder, I was intrigued by the notion of a young woman running in the 1928 Olympics. I enjoy reading about women who are outside the norm of what is expected of a woman. I suppose it feeds the feminist in me. So when I picked up […]

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PARENTING IN THE 21st. CENTURY

Once upon a time, a son or daughter would grow up, find a job, get married, and shortly thereafter, have a baby or two, or six. They’d live in the same community, and often drop by for Sunday dinner of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, potatoes, carrots and gravy. Perhaps followed by apple dumplings with lemon […]

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A Woman’s Strength

Those of you who have read my book River of the Stick Wavers, or who have tuned in to my blog, will know that I like to write about how women move through their world. In River of the Stick Wavers my main character, Grace is trying to figure out her place in the world […]

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Victoria – Our Fascination with Royalty

As I completed the book, “Victoria” by Daisy Goodwin and await the PBS series based on the book, I started to think about why it is we are so intrigued by royalty. This post looks at my own thoughts on the subject. When Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married in July 29, 1981, my […]

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Prioritizing

Have you ever been in a situation where you are stressed out because you’re trying to do too much? It keeps you awake at night and has your brain doing somersaults during the day, as it jumps from one idea to the next. Yet you keep on plowing through because you believe that everything you’re […]

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New Year’s Resolutions – A New Vision

I’ve always struggled with the idea of having a New Year’s resolution. It suggests that we are not good enough as we are. Self-improvement should be a natural extension of the direction you’re heading in anyway, as I mentioned in last year’s post You are Good Enough, therefore, increasing the likelihood of success. By this […]

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Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas

Two years ago, I wrote a post called The Season of Movies. In it I talked about how our family enjoys watching movies during the Christmas Season.  It is the one time of year that I can plan on getting everyone together in one room to spend time together.  This year I would like to […]

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Reading Drought

Everyone’s heard of writer’s block – that’s when, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to come up with anything to write about.  Well, I am experiencing a reading drought. It’s been months since I’ve read a really good book – one that captures my attention to the extent that I can’t wait to […]

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A Woman’s Journey

An innocent born out of desire, turns into a child, girl, woman made out of porcelain. She is a prisoner of her sex. She is haunted, poisoned, turned inside out of herself. Until anger sets up a fever inside her body. She struggles in the ferocious darkness to awaken or die. She lies naked, bleeding, […]

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Cemetery Life

When was the last time you visited a cemetery?  I bet it was when someone died, wasn’t it? Whereas I spend a lot of time there.  Surprised?  You’re probably wondering why I could possibly want to spend time with a bunch of dead people.  Well, there’s a lot of life in a cemetery if you […]

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Book Launch Speech – Nov. 13, 2016

Five years ago, when I began to write River of the Stick Wavers, I wasn’t even thinking in terms of publishing. All I wanted to do was write a story, based on an obituary I’d read in the Globe and Mail. It was about a woman who paddled her boat back and forth to an […]

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Cultural Creative Revolution

There’s a revolution going on in the world today, and I’m a part of it, and maybe you are too and don’t even know it.  It’s called a Cultural Creative revolution.  Cultural Creatives actually came out of the 60s movement and has been growing ever since.  All the people who were fighting for love and […]

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River of the Stick Wavers – A Preview of my new book

SYNOPSIS:  Following the premature death of her husband, Grace Irwin discovers that she no longer fits in to the world she knew. Always a dutiful daughter, wife, and mother, the widow is unmoored by her loneliness, fearing the slightest rapid will sweep her away. Grace travels to the French River in Northern Ontario, to grieve […]

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Life is Holy

We serve life, not because it is broken, but because it is holy. -Mother Theresa- In my new book River of the Stick Wavers one of the characters, Harry Stonecalfe, tells the story of the Seven Fires Prophesy in a scene that takes place after a sweat lodge ceremony with the two of the main […]

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Women and Power

What do you think would have happened if a woman had discovered American and not Christopher Columbus?  Instead of forcing the Indians to adopt the ways of the white man, perhaps a woman might have acted differently toward the Indians and therefore, prevented the turn of events that systematically destroyed much of the indigenous tribes […]

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The Search for Happiness

At this writing, I am reading a book by Natalie Goldberg called The True Secret of Writing.  On page 34, she talks about when she was in college, she studied Descartes, Bergson, James, Kant, Socratres, or as she puts it, “The full gamut of dead white Western men.” The essence of each reading was the […]

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Birthing a Book

Louise and I were sitting under a tree when it happened.  The sun was beating down on us, so we had taken shelter under a maple tree to enjoy a cool drink and a chat.  The final layout of my book River of the Stick Wavers had been sitting in my inbox for the past week […]

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Hear today, gone tomorrow

Imagine if you will, sitting in a Tim Horton’s restaurant at the height of the lunch hour.  There’s a buzz of conversation in the air, and you’re sitting there across from your friend as you try to hear what it is they’re saying to you above the chatter.  You think that if you turn up […]

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Dragonfly in Amber – Being Stuck

In Season 2 of the Outlander series, there’s a scene where a 20th century Claire comes across a dragonfly in amber on display in a museum.  This dragonfly in amber was a wedding gift given to her by Hugh Munro after she married Jamie Fraser in 1746.  To me, the dragonfly in amber symbolizes being […]

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The Mandorla

It’s funny how when you are searching for answers, the universe has a way of putting it in your path.  I recently wrote a post about diversity, particularly about what it would feel like to be neither masculine nor feminine.  Then up pops this article about the mandorla.  In The Book of SHE, Sara Avant […]

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There is only one thing you need to know

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I have recently returned from a trip to the French River, where I spent a week with my girlfriends, swimming, canoeing, hiking, and eating chocolate on the beach, in the canoe, in the car; well, you get the idea.  We had a fantastic time because of […]

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Our Great Big Canoe Adventure

Isabella had never done any serious canoeing before and wasn’t sure if she was up for the 4 ½ hour return canoe trip to Five Finger Rapids, part of the Dokis Native Reserve at the French River. But she was willing to give it a try as long as we didn’t mind taking an occasional […]

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Windswept Georgian Bay

Every Saturday night, they have a cocktail party at Pine Cove Lodge, which my friends and I like to attend whenever we visit, because it gives us the opportunity to connect with the temporary residents of the lodge.  Last year, we were lucky enough to befriend writer Camilla Gibb, and this year we made contact […]

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Hiking Granite Ridge

It’s hard to hike on flat terrain.  That’s why my friend and I were so excited about getting away from the wide open spaces of southern Ontario, to go hiking in Killarney Provincial Park, near Sudbury.  The terrain winds through old fields and forests as it scales it way to the top to where we […]

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How To Respond To Your Inner Needs

Life is busy.  If we life in this world, it’s a well-known fact that the pace of life is skyrocketing to astronomical heights.  We have so many choices:  to work or not to work; to join this club or that club or maybe all the clubs; to have children or not to have children; to […]

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It’s Never Too Late

In Julia Cameron’s new book It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again she talks about how, as people shift gears from busy careers to a creative life, they are free to explore avenues of endeavor that have been previously stymied by other responsibilities.  As people live longer, they are looking for new ways to be […]

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Me A Feminist?

While sitting in a Tim Horton’s one day, a friend asked me if I was a feminist.  I was taken aback by the question. “I don’t even know what a feminist is.”  She asked if I believe in equality for men and women.  “Well yes,” I replied.  “Then you’re a feminist,” she answered. It seems […]

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Diversity

Whenever I visit Toronto I find it hugely tiring.  The people, the buildings, the transportation, are all quite overwhelming.  Especially coming from a small community of 40,000 people, if you don’t count the surrounding communities.  But I go whenever I can to spend time with my daughter.  She’s gotten used to the hustle and bustle […]

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Success Story

Every week at my Toastmaster’s meeting we take some time to share our success stories for the week.  I really enjoy these because it not only helps us to practice speaking in front of people, it reminds me to be grateful for the small successes we have throughout the week.  The following is a story […]

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Novel Number Two

Novel Number Two.  Such a poor choice of name for a new novel.  Especially when my first novel River of the Stick Wavers has such a “kick ass” title.  Once I figure out the central story behind my new book I will, or course, come up with a better title.  Be that as it may, […]

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Senior Discount – Thoughts About Aging

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called a senior. I don’t feel like a senior.  I don’t think I look like a senior.  So why must I be referred to in this way?  Yet, the government has determined that people of a certain age are entitled to old age benefits.  But […]

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Impostor Syndrome

It’s always the same.  Whenever I go forth with a new project, I worry about impostor syndrome.  Will people believe that I have something to offer or not?  Will they find out that I don’t have credentials?  Do I have the right to share what I know, even though my only desire is to be […]

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Rest is a Four Letter Word

According to Sara Avant Stover, author of The Book of SHE we treat rest as a four letter word in our society today.  She goes on to talk about being out of touch with our feminine menses cycle, or if you no longer menstruate, cycles of the moon.  During the first day of our menses, […]

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Be Your Own Best Friend – Doing It Alone (Part 2)

I just got back from listening to Margaret Atwood speak at the Alice Munro Festival in Blyth and wanted to share my thoughts before they disappear into the fine mist of my memory.  What can anyone say about Margaret Atwood?  She’s a well-known, prolific writer of many genres.  At 76 she has three pieces of literature […]

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Be Your Own Best Friend – Part 1

Do you find it difficult doing things on your own?  Do you prefer to spend time with others because it gives you energy?  Would you rather stay home alone, than go out by yourself?  I think the answer varies depending on who you talk to.  I know that I’ve done a few things on my […]

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E-Books vs. Hardcover

I first read about the kindle e-book on amazon and marvelled at how amazing it would be to have an entire library at my fingertips.  Then, when they came out in Canada, my husband surprised me with one for Christmas.  I was completely overwhelmed.  Such a perfect gift for a writer.  I couldn’t help crying.  […]

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Full Circle

I was going through my book shelf the other day to see if I had some books that talk about the different phases of a woman’s life.  You see, I’m in the process of preparing a presentation about this very topic, and the books I ordered haven’t come in yet.  So, rather than sit around […]

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The Power of “No”

There’s a movie with Jim Carrey called the Yes Man where he is challenged to say yes to everything in his life.  It seems like a reasonable hypothesis to say yes to life. How often have you said no to something because you were afraid?  Probably too often to count. I remember being asked to […]

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What Scares Me As A Writer?

From Globe and Mail Arts – Saturday April 9, 2016 – The Book Report: Yasuko Thanh. What scares you as a writer? Lack of resources and time.  The ability to have both in necessary measure eludes most artists: You pay for one with the other.  Everything is a sacrifice.  If you want your family to […]

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Toastmaster Talking

Last week, I shared my very first Toastmaster’s speech with you.  This week, I going to tell you what it felt like for me to speak in front of people, and how I prepared. “Here’s Gillian Andrews to give her very first speech called, Words.”  I walked up to the lectern and shook Mr. Toastmaster’s […]

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Words

When my new book is published, it will be necessary for me to give presentations in front of people.  So I joined Toastmasters to learn how to speak more effectively.  I thought you might like to read my first speech called an Icebreaker, where we talk about our lives as an introduction to speaking.  From […]

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Being Of Service

My girlfriend, Mia recently said, “If we could all be of service to one another, the world would be a better place to live.”  I know for myself, when I’m wrapped up in my own struggles, I find it helpful to be of service to someone else.  It gets my mind off my own problems.  […]

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What Do Dances With Wolves and Jane Eyre Have In Common?

Have you ever wondered what your choice is reading material says about you?  This insight came to me from the pages of a Julia Cameron book about the creative process, as a way to learn more about ourselves and the kind of books we might like to write. Dances with Wolves is one of my […]

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Relax

When I was a little girl, I remember waking up one morning and sitting at the top of the stairs in my pajamas, listening to the breakfast conversation of my family down below.  For some reason, instead of feeling comforted by the sounds of my family, I felt left behind, forgotten, lonely, like I was […]

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Ask And You Shall Receive

As a parent, and a woman, it is not uncommon for me to put the needs of others before my own.  I think this is in part, due to the fact that I’ve been taught that it’s selfish to put my needs above someone else’s.  While putting the needs of others before my own is […]

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Set Sail

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.  I see the world spread before me like food on a plate, but I don’t know what choices I’m going to make, or how I’m going to land when I do choose.  Some of my choices will matter, others – not so […]

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Farewell To Pine Cove Lodge

It was our final evening at Pine Cove Lodge.  Lucy, Joan, Geraldine, and I, were sitting around the dining table, overlooking the river, when someone asked what we each liked best about our week at the lodge.  While Geraldine was happy just to be invited to this wonderful place, Lucy enjoyed a stress-free week with […]

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Into The Arena

It has taken me four years to write my novel River of the Stick Wavers and another year to edit it.  Whether I publish traditionally, or self-publish, I know it won’t be an easy process.  In today’s society we measure success by how much money we make, or how many people like us (particularly on social media).  […]

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Writing – The Beautiful Mess

Once upon a time I took painting lessons with an artist friend of mine.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I didn’t want anyone to see the beginning stages of my work-in- progress. Why couldn’t I paint like my friend? I wondered.  I wanted it to look pretty from the get […]

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Writing And The Spirit

Sometimes when I’m writing, or even researching, I get this feeling that comes over me.  It’s like I’m vibrating at a higher frequency than usual.  That sounds weird doesn’t it?  But I don’t know how else to explain it.  It’s like I’m on another plane.  That something greater than my self is working through me […]

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Bow Grip – A Novel Reflection

When I’m wandering down the book aisle at the library, it’s difficult to zero in on a book with only the spine showing.  Unless that is, there is a red maple leaf alerting me to the fact that the book is written by a Canadian author.  As a Canadian who has just completed writing a […]

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Things I Learned At The Feet Of My Children

  When I was in my forties I decided that I wanted to learn how to play the piano.  When I expressed this desire to my daughter’s piano teacher, she offered to instruct me.  I knew that once I started lessons, there would be no quitting.  I had to set an example for my child.  […]

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Perfectionism

I don’t know how many times in my life I have sabotaged my own success because I’m afraid of failing.  It seems I would rather quit than be seen as a failure.  At least then, I am the one who chooses my own path, not someone else because they have decided I’m not good enough.  […]

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Living In The Question

It seems to me that I’m always in a learning curve.  When I wanted to write a novel, I first had to learn how to be a better writer, so I took courses and workshops.  Then computers came along and I knew that if I wanted keep up, I needed to learn how to use […]

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I’ll Be Seeing You – An Epistolary Novel

Once upon a time people used to write letters. I mean hand-written letters from one heart to another.  Then sent it through the mail, to be delivered right to your door, and read in your private place as though that person were right there in the room with you.  How can I explain it?  There’s […]

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You Are Good Enough

Do you remember in the movie, Bridget Jones’ Diary, when Mr. Darcy told Bridget that he liked her just the way she was?  We all went, “Aaaw” and fell a little bit in love with Mr. Darcy in that moment.  Here was the rich, educated Barrister, falling for the bumbling Bridget, who was forever getting […]

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It Was The Best Of Times…- Editing Continued

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  I feel certain my editor would shudder for borrowing these famous words from Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.  But it best describes the experience of editing my novel, River of the Stick Wavers.  It is a scary experience to open the […]

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What’s Your Story?

I was watching the movie Australia with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman over the weekend and one of the things that came up is the idea of our personal story.  They suggested that our story is one of the most important things we have to give, or leave behind – I’m expanding the idea here.  […]

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Time Management – Good Thing or Bad?

There’s no doubt about it, life is busy.  Even with all the up-to-date technology that is supposed to make our lives easier, we still find ourselves over extended.  Our days are filled with activities, work, children, household responsibilities, aging parents, social functions, and exercise, to name a few.  It therefore, makes sense to want to […]

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Reflections On A Marriage

It’s interesting to watch a newly married couple.  They look at each other with such love and devotion in their eyes don’t they?  I often wonder what their relationship will be like in a few years from now.  Will they have weathered the rough spots that life will inevitably throw their way?  Or will they […]

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Resilience – The Path Through Crisis

It’s not uncommon for a crisis to arise as the result of a traumatic event in a person’s life. For me, it was 1998, the year my parent’s split up. I’m not sure why this particular episode brought up some unfinished business from my past, but it did. As a manic depressive, or bipolar, as […]

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Authenticity

  A number of years ago, I worked at a place where my boss accused me of doing something I didn’t do.  Because they were my boss, I was afraid to say anything.  In bed that night I went over and over all the things I could have said – should have said – in […]

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Write Your Own Obituary – An Exercise in Positive Outcome

I was at a writing workshop recently and as a way of introduction, we interviewed one of the other participants, and then wrote their obituary based on our conversation. While it was a fun way to break the ice, I started to think about what I would like to write my own obituary notice.  How […]

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Filling The Creative Well

When the writing’s going well, it’s easy to feel focused and in the zone.  Nothing gets in the way of ideas flowing from my brain, out through my fingertips, and onto the page.  Even daily chores and responsibilities don’t distract me from getting back to the work at hand.   Then there are those other […]

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In The Driver’s Seat – Notes on Driving Alone.

It seems to me that I am surrounded by fearless people. I have friends who travel across the country and across the world, alone.  Even an elderly friend drives across the country alone without a cell phone. I always try to travel with a companion or not at all; cell phone or no cell phone.   […]

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Sidewalk Flowers – About Beauty

Every now and then I come across a children’s book that has a message which is suitable for adults as well as children.  Sidewalk Flowers, by Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith, is just such a book.  It is a story without words.  Which seems appropriate when you consider it is about paying attention to […]

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Age of Impermanence

Life is impermanent.  It is a truth that we are able to bear throughout most of our lives.  A child is born and we look forward with anticipation as it learns to walk, talk, and become independent. The years of schooling shape and develop the child’s character, values, likes and dislikes, until finally it becomes […]

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Stone World

Stone world lies lonely for a while. Til light shines down on snow. Wild River etches a pattern of waterways to the setting sun. Insects, fish, mink, beaver, bear. Birds carry seeds of life. Trees emerge from stone with grasping fingers on rock. The People come in response to the Seven Fires. All is peace […]

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Decions, Decisions

Many years ago I took a course in assertiveness training.  One of the things the instructor taught us was:  Whether you make one decision over another, it doesn’t matter.  It is just a decision you make.  Either way, there will be some kind of outcome.  One is not better than the other.  It is just […]

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Into The Underground

  “What poor bargain does every woman make?”  This is the question Clarrisa Pinkola Estes asks on page 395 of Women who run with the Wolves.  Her answer:  “We forfeit our deep knowing life for one that is far more frail … we surrender our wild nature for a promise of something that seems rich […]

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Discovery at Five Finger Rapids

I opened my sleepy eyes to the call of a loon through my bedroom window.  Ripples of reflected sunlight on water, danced on the beamed ceiling above my head. I knew without looking, that Joan was already awake and down by the river watching the sun come up.  It  was a daily ritual for her, […]

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Canoe Trip To Doctor’s Island

We call ourselves The Ladies of Recollet Cabin – four like-minded friends come to Pine Cove Lodge in search of a canoe adventure:  Lucy, Geraldine, Joan, and Gillian.  The staff at the lodge kindly map out directions for us.  Look out for sign posts that include a red boat house, and a yellow cottage, and […]

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Sunrise at Pine Cove Lodge

I was awaken at 5:30 am with a nudge on my hip from my friend Joan, letting me know that the sun was about to rise.  I pulled a pair of sweat pants and a sweater on over my pjs and joined her on the veranda with a cup of Chinese Dragon tea provided by […]

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Patience – The Art of Doing Nothing

There’s been an undercurrent of struggle going on beneath the surface of my life at the moment.  I know that some kind of transition is taking place within me, but I don’t know how it’s going to play out.  When I told my friend Suzanne about my struggle and she asked if I was the […]

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Women and Trees – What’s the Connection?

I’ve always felt a strong connection to trees.  Even as a child growing up in England I felt safe among the tree edging the Llangollen Canal at Wrenbury Bridge.  In fact this is the first time I came to know the presence of God or, something greater than myself.  In later years I spent many […]

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Cycle Of Love

There is a Life/Death/Life cycle of love that Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about in “Women Who Run with the Wolves,” that I find most interesting.  She believes that every relationship has this cycle and that in order to know the deepest kind of love, we need to embrace it.  The Life part of the cycle […]

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Anxiety

I first discovered I have anxiety issues a few years ago when my mother-in-law was dying of cancer.  I remember the night we got the call that that she was being taken to the hospital because she was having difficulty breathing.  When the doctor showed us the X-rays of her lungs, I could see the […]

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Life Rhythms – Part 2

After I wrote my post, Life Rhythms last week, I spent some time talking to my friend Joan about the concept.  Turns out that the rhythm of her own life has changed in a big way recently, so we sat on the patio overlooking the Thames River and discussed the matter in depth. Most days […]

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Life Rhythms – Part 1

Did you ever have one of those days where no matter what you do, you can’t get it together?  I’ve been having one of those days for the past three days now.  Whenever I go away for a week, or even a weekend, I have a hard time getting back into the rhythm of my […]

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Women’s Intuition

I always thought that intuition was something that turns up when you least expect it.  It’s certainly not a thing that anyone seems to pay much heed to, least of all me – certainly not on a regular basis. Although, having said that, I do recall times in my life when a voice inside has […]

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Anger: The Path to Enlightenment

Anger as a path to enlightenment.  How is this even possible, you may be wondering?  Anger is a bad thing, you say.  Something that must be suppressed at all costs.  If I let go of my anger, I will be out of control.  But what if anger is the psyche’s way of reminding you that […]

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The Danger of Secrets

We’ve all held on to a secret at one time or another.  The secret party, the secret lover, the secret travel destination, or the shared secret with a friend.  To be one of the chosen few who shares such a secret makes us feel special, part of the inner circle of those “in the know.”  […]

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Evolving Motherhood

  I think it’s true when they say that as mothers we spend our lives teaching our children how to become independent, yet when they grow up, we long for them to want to spend time with us. I know when my daughter first learned to walk, I sat down and cried.  “My little girl […]

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A Few Thoughts About Fear

Everyone is afraid of something.  It doesn’t matter how brave you think you are, there will always be something that makes you shudder.  Maybe you have no problem climbing a mountain, but cannot bear to go to the dentist.  The very idea of that drill boring into your teeth makes you want to run for […]

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The Dual Nature Of Women

This week I’d like to look at another chapter in Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book The Women Who Run with the Wolves called, The Mate: Union With the Other.  In it she talks about how women have a dual nature.  While I didn’t get a real sense of what she believes a woman’s dual nature is, she […]

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Kindred Spirits – Finding Your People.

I always thought the story of The Ugly Duckling was about transformation.  But according to Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, it is a story about finding your pack, or as I like to call it –kindred spirits.   As the story goes the egg of the ugly duckling (or swan […]

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Returning To The Self

A few years ago, when I was home sick I spent three days lying around in my pajamas reading a Pride and Prejudice sequel.  It was heaven.  How often did I take time for myself?  I’m certainly not in the habit of wearing PJs during the day time unless I’m ill.  And taking entire days […]

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Paper Bag Courage

I’ve been thinking a lot about strong women lately.  Particularly about how women become strong.  I’m not talking about physical strength, but inner strength that allows women to be the hero of their own story. Becoming a strong woman is a process that can begin at any time and be on-going.  I think it is […]

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Writing Challenge – How I Encounter the Blank Page.

I think the biggest challenge that faces any writer is sitting down to a blank page. Working at home as I do, poses an additional challenge.  There is always something else that I could be – should be — doing.  You know how it is?  There’s the housework, the laundry, the groceries, dinner to prepare, […]

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Why I Write

I remember many years ago when I signed up for a correspondence course in writing, one of the questions they asked was, “Why do you like to write?”  I was stumped.  I had no idea why I write.  At the time I was writing a romance novel so I asked myself why I liked to […]

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Life Passages

I started to reflect about the passage of time on my thirtieth birthday.  I worried that half my life was over and I had nothing to show for it.  I had no children, no career. I had a job at the library but that’s not the same as a career.  I wanted more.  That was […]

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Found Characters: How I Came Up With the Characters for My Book

People fascinate me.  What is it that motivates them to act in a certain way?  What pain have they suffered in their life?  Why are they so cruel?  So when I’m looking for ideas for a new novel or story, more often than not, I start with a character.  Out of the characters life, the […]

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The Wayfinders – Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

Just because people don’t have the written word, or machines of destruction, doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything to offer the world.  This is the lesson I learned while reading a fascinating book call The Wayfinders by Wade Davis. Anthropologist Wade Davis has traveled the world and lived with many of its indigenous peoples.  […]

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The Season Of Movies

Christmas is a time when families gather to celebrate the holidays.  For my family, it is also a time when we join together in front of the big screen TV to watch Christmas movies. If you knew our history, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the love of movies was passed on to our […]

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Writers Who Have Influenced My Style

It has been said that when you are writing you should give up reading because it is likely to influence your own style.  If I did that, I’d never read again.  Reading is essential part of being a writer.  Read all kinds of books, and don’t be afraid pick and choose the things you like […]

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Annabel

What does it mean to be human?  I think that is the question that Kathleen Winter is posing in her novel Annabel.  Set in Labrador in 1968, Annabel is the story of a child who is born both male and female.  The father, Treadway, decides to raise the child as a boy and so the […]

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Book Expo… and other things about writing.

My friend Helen and I went to the Windsor Book Expo November 23, 2014 held at the St. Clair College Centre for the Arts in Windsor.  It was a wonderful opportunity to meet other authors and to find out what kind of books people are writing in the area.  Along with memoir there was romance, suspense, […]

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84 Charing Cross Road – The Book About Books

This memoir is told in a series of letters across the Atlantic from writer Helene Hanff who can’t seem to get the books she wants in New York.  So she writes to Marks & Company in London, England after she finds an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature stating they specialize in out-of-print books. […]

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Hairy Monday

Did you ever have one of those days when you should have stayed in bed?  I woke up this Monday (Nov. 17/14) and it was snowing.  The sudden change in the weather usually gives me a migraine and today is no different.  I didn’t sleep well last night. I guess I must have eaten something […]

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Alex Colville At The AGO

I knew when I went to see the Alex Colville exhibit at the AGO the summer of 2014, that he’s not my favourite artist.  That right is reserved for Tom Thomson.  However, he was Canadian, (he died in 2013) and for that reason alone I was interested in seeing his work.  I am in fact, […]

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Ghost Walk

It was a dark and windy night when my friend Suzanne and I set of for our ghost walk at the Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham.  There were at least twenty of us huddled together as we followed our guide through the head stones and pathways of the dark terrain.  I brought a lantern to […]

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Birding With Yeats

My daughter Mallory and I took a trip to Queen’s Park Circle in Toronto this year to check out Word on the Street, the annual festival of books.  While there were many different publishers represented, none were familiar to me.  My daughter however, recognized Anansi Publishing as having a good reputation, so we decided to […]

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Scenes From A Train Window

The last time I went to Toronto I promised myself I’d pay attention to what was going on outside my train window and write about it down in a descriptive manner.  This poem reflects what I saw and by eliminating punctuation, offers the impression of the forward movement of the train. Going away sadness Dirt […]

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Editing So Far

The hardest thing I did while editing my novel River of the Stick Wavers was to delete the first chapter:  The image of an old woman traveling alone in a motor boat to a distant island. I thought people would wonder who she was and why she was traveling alone to an island. I mean, […]

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Female Friendship

I got the idea to write about female friendship after I saw a play at the Blyth Festival the summer of 2014.  Set in 1968, Kitchen Radio is a story about Eleanor who lacks female friendship due to her husband’s latest transfer.  She fills her loneliness by listening to the local country radio station. Until, […]

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Liquid Universe

Who are the brilliant fools of our insidious decay? They breathe fire into the belly of the brother: The bugs that devour us. The wars that divide. The suppression of the Mother while grasping for the green. Be not as a prisoner broken in the dark. Peer through the steaming window of the liquid universe […]

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Garden of Unborn Dreams

As I meandered over the tree-covered paths and bridges of Maple Leaf Cemetery on my bike one sunny Sunday morning, I came across the Garden to the Unborn.  This was a new development, or at least one I hadn’t noticed before.  I slammed on my brakes to get a closer look. I began to wonder […]

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The Writer

I wrote this poem in response to the theme of “passion” during a writing workshop. Since writing is my passion I decided to use my surroundings as a metaphor for the writer in me while walking the labyrinth at Five Oaks Retreat Centre in Paris, Ontario. I am the tree with my roots planted firmly […]

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Tom Thomson: A Canadian Artist Who Helped to Define a Nation

I picked up this book at the Trading Post at the French River.   It seemed like the perfect place to learn about Tom Thomson’s life as an artist.  He painted at Georgian Bay (where the French River is located) and canoed the French River on his way to Algonquin Park. I love this picture of […]

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The Lodge at Pine Cove

A well-placed phone call got me a spot on the 1:30 p.m. Champlain cruise at Wolseley Bay, the North Channel of the French River system.  When I arrived at the Lodge at Pine Cove, it was raining so Alex, the proprietor and our skipper, asked if I minded waiting until the rain passed before we […]

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Recollect Falls

One of the first places I visited while at the French River was the historic Recollet Falls where Friars of the Recollet order drowned in their quest to convert the natives to Christianity in the time of Champlain.  In order to get to the falls I had to hike the 4 km trail located beside the French […]

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On Location At The French

I visited the French River because it is the setting of my novel River of the Stick Wavers.  I wanted to experience first-hand what it felt like to be there, but what I gained was far more than I could have ever imagined. Being a woman alone in a setting that is more isolated than […]

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Shifting Sand

You would think that when I turned fifty, it would have been a difficult time for me, but it wasn’t.  In fact that year I got a new bike for my birthday, took up roller blading as well as horse-back riding.  It was great.  Fifty-five, on the other hand, was not.  So what happened? The […]

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Chocolate Blood

Chocolate blood rose through the crashing waves. The girl is smeared beneath the sordid symphony of life. She screams at the foot of the goddess moon. Sweet life whispers of a mother’s love, not the bitter moan of a thousand black shadows of raw language at her mother’s breast. She beats her tiny fingers against […]

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Why I Bike

The grip of winter has finally given way to the torrential rains of spring, followed by the hazy days of summer.  I say hazy because in Southern Ontario we tend to get quite a bit of humidity.  Despite this, it’s biking weather for me.  I love getting up in the early morning when it’s still […]

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Forest Sanctuary

Behold, the ancient air of the forest sanctuary, where verdant tendrils of summer grass blow gently on the breeze. Intuition shines softly as a river, and wild flowers rustle with insect harmony. Watch as life blossoms through nature’s spirit, and quiet walks breath poetry into the soul.

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Emily Carr – A biography by Maria Tippett

A few years ago I had the pleasure of viewing a painting by Emily Carr at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  It was a tree bathed in light from above, surrounded by the dark images of other trees hidden in the dense wood.   I studied this painting for a long time trying to understand what […]

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Medicine Walk

Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese, is the story of sixteen year old Franklin Starlight who only knew his father Eldon, as a shadowy figure who came sporadically into his life to see the son he gave up to the guardianship of a man we know only as, “Old Man”. As the story begins Eldon is […]

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Adventures In Piano

I’ve always loved the piano.  As a young girl I had to content myself with banging away on my grandparent’s piano as my parents couldn’t afford lessons.  It wasn’t until I became an adult that I had the opportunity to take piano lessons, though at great risk to myself.  You see, my daughter, Mallory was […]

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The Good Olde Days… Are Now

There’s a black and white picture of my Grandmother hanging in our family room.  It was taken in 1961 at her son, Jimmy’s wedding.  I’m in the picture too as the six year old bride’s maid along with my aunt, and my mother.  Three generations together.  When my mother told me that my Grandmother was […]

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ME: Stories of My Life

I just got done reading, ME: Stories of My Life, by Katharine Hepburn.  The title seems appropriate for the story of the life of a woman who freely admits that she lived a selfish life.  At least until she met Spencer Tracy; but more on that later. I think it’s good for a writer to […]

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The Joy Of Reading

In my last post, A Room of My Own, I talked about my writing space.  In this post, I’d like to talk about the places I like to read, and my love of reading. It’s a miraculous when you think about the whole process of reading.  I remember in kindergarten when the teacher kept showing […]

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A Room of My Own

Virginia Woolf talks about writer’s needing “A Room of One’s Own,” in which to write in her essay of the same name.  As I sit at my desk and look around me, I understand the importance of having my own space to imagine my next book. My husband and I actually made an office out […]

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Beginnings

Well, I’m done the first draft of my novel River of the Stick Wavers, and I’ve sent it off to my editor.  What do I do now? Lucky for me I won’t have to spend weeks searching for a new project.  My son gave it to me as a gift one day when he approached […]

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The Holy Road

Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake has long been a favorite of mine because it tells the story of the journey of a man to find himself.  I fell in love with John Dunbar and members of the Comanche Nation:  Kicking Bird, The Holy Man; Ten Bears, The Chief; Wind in his Hair, Warrior, and […]

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Endings

Whenever I’m writing a novel, I never know how it’s going to end.  Part of the fun of writing is to let the characters tell their own story.  I think that endings should come about organically.  So, why was it that I was having such a difficult time writing my own ending to River of […]

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The Sun Storm

While I was visiting my daughter in Toronto recently we composed a sad poem from refrigerator magnets with “happy” words on them.  When I got back to Chatham, I started to work on my own poem and found that I enjoy putting disparate words together to see what they will become.  It’s like magic as […]

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Small Things

Life is mostly made up of small events interspersed with the occasional drama.  If that’s true, why is it we tend to give more attention to the more dramatic events of life? The recent Olympics is a perfect example: watching the dramatic highs and lows of the athletes as they strive to honour their country […]

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A Star for Mrs. Blake

Twenty-five years in the writing, A Star for Mrs. Blake, by April Smith is based on the real-life diaries of Colonel Thomas Hammond.  Colonel Hammond was the liaison officer to the Gold Star Mothers who visited the graves of their sons at the Meuse-Argonne cemetery in France after WWI. The story primarily revolves around five […]

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Writing About Emotions

The human mind is complex.  Emotions are created out of a lifetime of experiences and each experience informs how an individual will react to life’s challenges.  Sometimes our emotions are confusing and difficult to understand.  For example, when someone we love dies, it is easy to feel selfish for thinking of only ourselves and how […]

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Discovery

While taking a course that included poetry two years ago, I came to appreciate how important it is to express yourself eloquently using a minimum of words.  Though I rarely write my own poetry except when I have to, the opportunity to change that came my way through two different media over a single weekend:  […]

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Panic

This poem is the result of taking an abstract word and describing it as a painting.  More than that, it can also describe how life feels sometimes. Panic poured black on a canvas of white. Starts out small, and spreads in all directions. It cannot be contained. The artist struggles, while the paint drips down […]

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The Orenda

I was a little apprehensive about reading The Orenda by Joseph Boyden.  Not because of his writing, but because in this particular book I heard there are scenes of torture. Despite this, I decided to reserve it from the library to find out why everyone is reading it.  When it came my turn to sign […]

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Minor Characters

Never underestimate a minor character.  How I wish I had known about this before I started my novel.  As it is, on the near completion of my work-in-progress, I now have to go back to the drawing board to re-evaluate whether a minor character’s motivation is strong enough to justify his treatment of my major […]

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Still Writing

The tab title “Novel Reflections” was a deliberate choice in that “novel” expresses more than just a piece of fiction.  It can also mean “new”, “original”, and “worth looking into”, according to my thesaurus.  In choosing this title, I feel free to talk about any genre that would be of interest to my readers.  In […]

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A Christmas Guest

I don’t usually read mysteries, but Anne Perry’s, A Christmas Guest caught my eye on display at the library this Christmas.  I enjoy period novels so I read the inside flap to see what it was about. What struck me right away is the main character, Mariah Ellison, who is described as a “vinegar-tongued Grandmamma”.  […]

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Getting Focused

It’s funny; I’m sitting here trying to write an article about staying focused on writing and I’ve already been distracted by my washing.  Yes, but that’s only because I have an appointment this afternoon, and then there’s the soup I want to make for supper.  Sound familiar? There’s no doubt about it, distractions are an […]

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Hotel Du Lac

Much like Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban, Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner, is a quite novel about an ordinary woman who has been sent away to Hotel du Lac to overcome a recent folly of the romantic kind. Edith Hope is a woman who has been deemed unacceptable in a society that abhors passion […]

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Turtle Diary

I first read about Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban in the Globe and Mail as a rediscovered classic and was intrigued by how releasing turtles into their natural habitat after a life of captivity, could help the two major characters overcome their self-imposed isolation. William is divorced and working in a book store while Neara […]

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The Button

My girlfriend Mia recently asked if I had a fictional story to share on my blog.  I went through all the stories I have written over the years and found this one filed away and brought it up to speed. I hope you like it.  This one’s for you Mia. It all started with a button. […]

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The Call of Home

In 1995 I went on a literary tour of England after a twenty-five year absence.  This story expresses what I felt while I was there. There’s an old saying:  “You can’t go home again.”  People move or die, the landscape changes, and someone else has moved into your childhood home. But what if the idea […]

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The Labyrinth

I was at Five Oaks, a United Church Retreat Centre in Paris, Ontario for a writing weekend.  My novel wasn’t going very well and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to write anything.  When I told the instructor Nora how I was feeling she suggested I write about the struggle I was having. […]

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The Long Goodbye

This particular memoir piece came about due to a photograph of an iron railing from a balcony.  It generated a variety of different stories in the class.  As for me, I was reminded of the cemetery gates at Wrenbury village in England where I grew up and a visit with my Nana. The wrought-iron gate […]

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Noise

 I wrote this poem at the end of a week of writing memoir pieces.  We were all pretty tired yet I had to come up with one more piece.  What to do?  I decided to walk down to the dock by the lake and just listen.  This is what I came up with. Is there […]

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A Slice of Life

A Slice of Life is a memoir piece I wrote at at writing workshop at Fleming College in Haiburton, Ontario. It is about a close friend of mine who was diagnosed with lung cancer eleven years ago. I changed the names to protect my friend’s privacy. She also gave me permission to write this story. […]

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Biography

Hi, I’m Gillian.  I’ve been writing stories since I was in high school many moons ago. In those days I wrote my own love stories about Mark Lindsay, of Paul Revere and the Raiders fame.  I dreamed of becoming a writer but nothing ever came of it until I was a stay at home mom […]

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