Waiting for Spring — Winter’s Wrath


Spring-time never ceases to fascinate me with the first sightings of new life in the garden. This past brutal winter in particular, left me doubting whether or not many of my plants and flowers had survived the cruel force of the elements which pummeled them endlessly.


The relentless winds and weighted ice lay stubbornly on the branches, bending and snapping some off in its fury. I recall layering myself up on more than one occasion and going out into the three feet of snow in my backyard to correct the weighted branches in an effort to save my plants. I reinforced their structure with metal stands to try to re-align their spines in hopes of seeing them flourish once again.


Inspecting my garden every year in the advent of spring, always stirs my curiosity. While I search in detail for sprouting of buds and a hint of green, it never fails to delight.


Tomorrow is May 1st. “Really?” I question. The temperature today is still in the mid forties. The trees are blowing and the sky remains grey with intermittent, violent rain. If I had no calendar to know what month it is, I would have to say it feels like the end of Fall, November. Preparing for winter. I haven’t stopped turning on my fireplace since last October. It has been seven long months of winter here.


So many people have endured a most brutal winter in many parts of the world. Many of those people have been gifted with arrival of Spring by now. Earlier in April, we had to fluke days when our temperatures went up to the high sixties, leaving a false hope for many and my plants. After each of those days passed, the temperatures dropped right back down to the forties and the odd time reached in the low fifty degrees mark.

I always worry about my plants being fooled by the false starts of the arrival of Spring. Some plants come out of their winter sleep being duped into believing it was safe for them to come out, only to be hit with continued cold temperatures. Then I begin to wonder how many plants I will have to replace, yet again, when winter’s shenanigans have stopped playing tricks.


As I look out my window, I am inspired to see one of my shrubs growing tiny, green buds. The last section of snow in my backyard has surprisingly melted and although it feels nothing like Spring, I feel optimistic that somehow, my garden has endured the wrath of winter and will eventually bloom once again, with new life.



Social Courtesy



When did it become acceptable to stop saying thank you or excuse me? When were the rules of common courtesy changed?

I realize people are busy, but we shouldn’t forget about common courtesies in every aspect —  cyber or real life. Why are some people so pushy in the grocery store? I can’t tell you how many times I encounter rudeness there. People will literally squeeze their body right in front of you and a shelf as if you aren’t even standing there, without batting an eye or uttering an ‘excuse me.’

Another peeve of mine is when the aisles are narrow, people will park their cart smack in the center while they’re ten feet up the aisle hoarding things to come back and throw into their cart, which also happens to be holding up four other people. I don’t get it and it pisses me off. I don’t think courtesies should be any different in the cyber world with social media.

I like to live by the adage of giving back. It works for me. I give and I receive and sometimes although it may take awhile until the universe gives us back in gratitude, it always does.


In our social cyber world there are so many of us in it struggling to be seen or heard. We all want our words of wisdom heard or mentions of our works to be seen, but we cannot ask for these things without giving back and so we shouldn’t. This is the proper etiquette of social media. This mantra is talked about often in our social cyber world. There are many publications on how to be diplomatic and not pushy with our tweets but sometimes I am puzzled by the amount some of us put out to praise others on a continual basis and yet some of these praises aren’t even acknowledged by a thank you nor are they reciprocated so our words in turn may be shared. I personally don’t think it is fair or good business.


Some will thank you, some will not and there are some who won’t pay the courtesy back to retweet or repost someone else’s info. I can’t help but wonder if this is because they cannot be bothered or if somehow the thought of putting something out or resharing for someone else takes away from themselves. The universe is abundant. A kindness we pay to someone won’t take away from ourselves, in fact it would make us shine brighter. So a simple reminder for us all to be courteous is the message I am sharing here.


Helpful Writing Tips – From the Blog of Kristen Lamb




Today I am posting another informative post from Kristen Lamb’s blog. This particular article offers a Red Flag checklist on common errors that writers sometimes overlook. Kristen comments on the importance of editing for all writers — experienced and new. She reminds us that ‘cleaning up’ our manuscripts, with her flagged list, not only makes the editor’s job easier to read but also results in costing writers less in editing fees.

Five Warning Signs Your Story Needs Revision | Kristen Lamb’s Blog.

Echoes of Life

Today's thought

It is funny how much we tend to over-look so many things in life – things that are so matter-of-fact which exist in our daily lives yet we may take no notice of their significance until something happens to remind us of their existence.

I am referring to the topic of telephone answering machines. We simply take it for granted that the person leaving an outgoing message when they aren’t home, a simple gesture, can live on much longer than the actual person who’s voice has left that message.

My husband came home from work the other day and instead of being in his usual jovial mood when he returns from work, he appeared to be flustered and distracted. When I asked him what the matter was he responded by telling me that he had tried to get in touch with his grandson that day but he wasn’t home and when the answering machine picked up, he was greeted by a message left from his daughter Sue who had recently passed away. He hadn’t anticipated hearing the sound of his daughter’s voice again and the incident had temporarily froze him in time. He sat silently then for a few moments after hearing her voice in short reminisce of his lost daughter and shed some tears. The voice from the past had certainly taken him by surprise.

After he shared the incident with me he questioned whether or not the message was a good thing to keep on the machine or if he should speak to his grandsons about changing it. As I had never been faced with this type of dilemma, I told him that his grandsons may either not be aware of it or perhaps they may be and choose to leave it on until they are ready to change it;  a delicate subject at this time to bring up.

I found the whole incident haunting yet touching and I can’t even pretend to imagine what went through my husband’s mind when he was caught off guard at that moment. The incident did however bring to mind a beautiful article I had read a few months previous, written by my writer friend Elaine Mansfield who writes beautiful articles on the subject of grief and bereavement. Elaine wrote an article on a related topic when she was deciding what to do with her husband’s cellphone after her beloved husband had passed away http://bit.ly/1n4Tx41

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to answer this question. Perhaps for some of us, the sound of a lost loved one’s voice is a comfort or for others it may just reinforce or reignite the grief process.


Savvy Grocery Shopping



Grocery shopping has always been one of my least favourite past-times. It is ironic for someone like me who loves to shop anything, that grocery shopping is not high on my list of enjoyment. This is mostly because it is time consuming. I am not one to grab things and go. I am a big-time reader of labels, ingredients and expiration dates. I like to eat healthy so I am always ultra aware of sodium content, sugar amounts and if there is  fibre involved for nutritional value.


What is up with the escalation of grocery prices and the quality of produce going down? I can’t help but notice how expensive everything is becoming and as I like to pride myself on being a very savvy shopper. I also notice in my local grocery store that when items go out of stock it can take weeks until they are replaced. I can’t help but wonder if this is due to poor management or if  the employees down the ladder of authority just can’t be bothered doing their jobs properly.


I went to my local supermarket yesterday for the third time in 3 weeks. Once in between that time I went to another supermarket which I favour because it has so many more products and the prices are considerably lower. But as it isn’t always convenient for me to go to the other side of town, I only get to my favourite store about once a month and stock up on items I can’t get at my local grocer.

Yesterday I went to my local store to pick up a few things and it was mainly coffee that I was there to buy – the type you pour the beans into a bag and choose how finely ground you prefer it. Three weeks had gone by and all the coffee in the bins was still EMPTY. I couldn’t believe how a major supermarket could be out of coffee for three weeks and when I brought it to one of the employee’s attention, he replied with “Oh, has it been that long?”


As I cruised by a few aisles I also noticed that some of the items I use on a regular basis were ‘out of stock’ on the shelves. I found that was becoming common and not coincidental that every time I shopped there, something I needed always seemed to be out of stock. It really irked  me that these places could charge so much money, yet the products they offer never seem to have stable availability on a regular basis. Surely if I owned a store and kept track of best selling items I would make it my business to keep them properly replenished to maximize profits and keep my customers from going to the competition.

money tree


My biggest complaint was about the produce. The prices of much of the produce are so expensive that one would expect that these things wouldn’t be bruised or already over-ripe.

Being a savvy shopper, I am well-versed in pricing of groceries and department stores. I suppose my years of being a shopaholic has afforded me the experience of knowing prices, sales and coupons to get the best bang for my buck. If I like something and the price is worth it to me, I buy it. On the other hand, my principles about never over-paying for something won’t make me hesitate to leave an item behind if I deem it a ridiculous price. If I cannot justify the price, it’s not coming home with me.


I remember once last year I wanted to buy some cherries, about a pound and a half and when the check-out girl rang them up I saw a price of around $12.00. I almost choked and asked her to remove it from my bill and told her that she could keep them.

Almost all supermarkets will reduce prices on produce for fast sale if they are reaching their expiry date. You should always check the expiry dates on foods that can spoil, such as produce and dairy products.

Yesterday while I was at the grocery store I thought I’d pick up a few vegetables to get through the weekend. They sell a pre-shredded package of brussell sprouts that I love and although they aren’t naturally my favourite vegetable, when they are shredded like cole slaw they become more accessible to create a tasty side-dish I make out of them (see recipe below). This little package costs $4.99, somewhat steep but being when I get through cooking them it makes enough for two side-dish dinners for two. But when I picked up the last of two packages I noticed the expiry date was the next day with no price reduction and they were already looking like they were on their way to drying out. I stood for a moment wondering if I should just leave them there because I couldn’t justify the price and then I decided to take action. I looked for the grocer and showed him the sprouts and asked him how come they weren’t marked down when they were ready to be tossed out. I told him I would buy them if he lowered the price. He kindly agreed as he took his black marker from behind his ear and marked the label as .99 cents.


I was elated that I had the nerve to ask for a markdown and promptly received one. It never hurts to ask for a price change. If you notice items constantly out of stock, look for a floor attendant to find out what the problem is, and hopefully you will get a better answer than I did for the lack of coffee in stock. If you call items to someone’s attention there is a better chance the issues will be recognized and rectified. Pay attention to expiry dates. I like to shop with a loose plan of what I’ll be cooking for the week. If the dates on the produce aren’t going to make it through that time period, ask for a discount and use as soon as possible or leave it behind.

Recipe – Sauteed Brussell Sprouts:

1 Package pre-shredded sprouts (or about 4 cups hand shredded)

2 Cloves of Garlic chopped

3 Tablespoons of Olive oil

1 Onion minced

Salt and pepper to taste.

Steam the sprouts in water for approx. 7 minute until they soften.

In a separate pan, heat oil and saute onion until it starts to brown and then add garlic and brown. Then add shredded Brussell sprouts and seasoning and toss around in fry pan for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Getting Back In The Groove Part 2- EXERCISE


exercise 2

Exercise. A word we are all quite familiar with but we sometimes  choose to ignore, have no time for or basically have no interest in.

I have followed an exercise routine for well over a decade now which I had incorporated into my daily routine. Now don’t misunderstand me, I have no aspirations to become an athlete or a model, I just felt as though it was good for my health and to try and keep fit with a bit of cardio and the use of resistance bands with some Pilates.


After experimenting with so many different modes of exercise, I found what was comfortable and enjoyable for me and which had good benefits for my sore lower back. Although in the beginning I found myself looking for logical excuses to avoid exercising some days, I gradually became dedicated to myself and followed through five to six days a week.

Besides my routine I have always been a fairly active person — not one to sit much. This plan seemed to get neglected and mostly ignored when I began writing my first book Conflicted Hearts. Somehow the hours turned into days then months and I was finding with the shortage of time that I was waking up and getting right to work and the span of days and sometimes weeks were passing where I was neglecting my exercise routine.


I know as the months rolled by I was starting to feel less pulled together, muffin top was trying to make a home around my waistline and I began having more problems with my sore back and hips which would occasionally decide to lock up on me. I also found that the longer I ignored exercising, the harder it became to establish a disciplined pattern again.


I still went for little walks but the days I had previously spent on my feet, had become days that I sat on my butt working. I gained four pounds in the last year without even a change of diet and my body doesn’t even resemble its former shape. I blamed being busy and post menopause, in denial that my old simple little half hour exercise routine now lacking, certainly couldn’t be the cause of all the changes.


I thought back to when I was exercising. It had become so effortless that I was sure it wasn’t even doing anything much for me anymore without realizing it was that very routine which had kept me feeling good and my clothes fitting properly. It had become simply taken for granted.

Moving forward, I had begun to do some of the other little things I also engaged in as part of my old routine like lifting some light weights and occasionally picking up my hula hoop once in a while which I used to do for twenty minutes daily. I used to do all kinds of moves with that hoop and could keep that baby up and moving for as long as I wanted to without dropping it once.


When I returned from my winter vacation and re-organized my daily work schedule, I promised myself that I was going back to a committed routine to help me feel fitter. I implemented a morning routine once again before beginning my work because I decided it was important and I owed it to myself. No more sporadic, spare moments of exercise and broken promises I told myself each time I stepped on the scale. I picked up the hula hoop which I hadn’t used for months and in disbelief, I struggled to keep it going steady without it continuously falling to the floor. I was shocked that my auto pilot ability to manipulate that hoop had gone rusty. Then I attempted to follow through with my Pilates program which I had previously considered so effortless only to find that each move felt torturous to my abs.

weight scale


Wow I thought, holy crap am I ever out of shape! What a wake up call this was. How easy it is to assume that things remain a constant because we take them for granted. Life moves on and if we neglect our bodies, they don’t come along for the ride. Lessons learned.


It’s only been two weeks now that I have disciplined (and scared) myself into a regular routine. Although I still panic when I look at the clock, knowing I should be working, I realize I am working. I am working on me! I am important to me and although I impose my own deadlines and have to deal with life’s punches in between, I decided to enjoy my fitness break and if it helps me feel better and motivated to continue on with everything else, it was important time spent.

I am also happy to report that I am once again in control of the hula hoop and my resistance Pilates isn’t nearly as painful — almost like riding a bike. With a little more practice and dedication we can accomplish what we thought was once lost. I have definitely learned not to take my body for granted. After all, I need it to work well for lots of things. In the past I thought I wasn’t doing much because I was so used to feeling good and fit but when I stopped, I found the benefits I had lost by not realizing the way I was before was because of the benefits of exercising.

Let us not get so busy that we forget to take care of us!

Createspace for Self Publishing and Sticky Royalty Payments for Canadian Authors

money tree

I’ve got this nagging peeve that I wanted to use my page here to beef about. It has to do with the royalty payment structure Createspace uses with Canadian authors. I find it quite unfair.



The situation is this: When a Canadian author self publishes a paperback version of their book with Createspace, we aren’t given the option for Direct Deposit for royalties accumulated. Our only option is to be paid by cheque…and their is a HUGE drawback. Royalties paid to Direct Deposit accounts are paid soon after royalties accrue past ten dollars, pounds, euros, depending on the currency books were purchased in. If you don’t have a Direct Deposit account, us Canadian authors have to wait until $100 is accrued in royalties in EACH currency to be paid by cheque.


When I first published with Createspace I wasn’t too thrilled about the lack of option for Canada but I had no choice if I wanted to publish there. When my book Conflicted Hearts came out I had sold some paperback copies through there as I was told it may take a week until the paperback version would be linked to the ebook version on Amazon. After Amazon linked the two versions it was much easier for people to purchase the paperback from Amazon than emailing me for a link where they could buy it elsewhere. Hence, all my paperbacks sold after the initial release of my book, had been sold off Amazon.

I am not one of the author types who checks her sales hourly or even daily on either site and quite frankly, when I visit my Createspace sales page, it just seems to light a fire in me. I had often emailed Createspace asking them why on earth they don’t have a Direct Deposit option for Canada, yet they have one for such countries such as U.K., Netherlands, Portugal, France and a few more. I mean geez, we are part of North America? The same responses came back with the usual, “We are sorry we don’t have that option now.” After awhile I would abandon my frustration and try not to think about it. So maybe once a month I pop by my page there to visit my $78 being held ransom until I hit the $100 mark so I can have my funds.



Today was one of those days I visited again and it pissed me off enough to write about it. I just don’t get it. I don’t think it’s fair and as an author I am trapped at their mercy.

I wanted to post about this, not only to vent (yes, it feels good!) but  also to put an awareness out for those who may not be quite aware of how the system works. I have given up emailing Createspace.

dollar-499478_640 (2)

As most self-published authors know, ebooks outsell paperback versions by a landslide, so it can take quite awhile for these paperback royalties to meet the threshold, particularly because paperback royalties bought anywhere other than from Createspace, are quite miniscule compared to Createspace purchasing. The cost of the book is the same everywhere but the royalties diminish. And I will also note although there doesn’t seem like a price advantage purchasing from Createspace, the shipping is cheaper and the author makes a higher royalty.

For the time being, I have added a “buy” link to my Conflicted Hearts page here. This will allow anyone who visits that page to purchase it directly from Createspace by the click of a button without having to surf around and look for the link. You can also click on my Meno-What? page and find a link there as well.



Have any of you faced this problem?

April 2015 addendum:

I have received a few questions regarding the tax holdback on royalties for Canadian authors. Please see Diane Tibert’s update on the new process for filling out tax exempt information now for author’s by Amazon. http://dianetibert.com/2014/11/07/update-on-canada-tax-information-with-the-united-states/



Why You Should Walk Away From Your Writing – Helping Writers Become Authors

Reblogged from K.M. Weiland’s blog


time out


We have all heard it before, but do we all follow the advice? Do we know when to take a break from our manuscripts? Sometimes we tend to force ourselves to continue writing when our brains don’t wish to cooperate.


K.M. Weiland wrote a great post to remind us how to take a step back and how to regenerate our creative juices. In her blog she shares a handy checklist on why we need to walk away from our work and ideas for awhile, and she also talks about  how to get back to it with a rested mind.

See the full post on her blog linked below:


Why You Should Walk Away From Your Writing – Helping Writers Become Authors.