#amblogging: The Many Reasons For Keeping a Journal

Create_a_Personal_Journal1[1]I believe that everyone has a story. Some of the best ones I’ve read came from members of critique groups who were writing their life stories to pass along to their grandchildren. Those stories were filled with captivating details about times and places long gone. How did they do it? Aside from great memories, most of the writers kept journals. The ability to revisit times and places through old photos and the written word was invaluable.

I’ve kept a journal for most of my adult life. It began with boyfriend and school issues, then slowly progressed to work challenges, and later parenting ups and downs. Lately, I’ve discovered another reason to keep a journal. In fact, I’ve started a second one which has nothing to do with me as a writer, but as a daughter.

I call it the dementia journal. Our family saga began two and a half years ago, when my sister and I realized that our mother’s cognitive skills were diminishing. It seemed like a good idea to record what we were experiencing. I’ve since learned that journal records can give healthcare professionals better insight as to what’s happening.

Journals have many purposes, and not all of them are about writing fiction or memoirs. You don’t need to be a professional or even a passionate writer to note things down. But you can jot down a few lines about a memorable vacation or event. How about keeping a food journal filled with great recipes you’ve experimented with? What about writing down goals, or challenges to help you focus, or put things in perspective?

In his blog, Benjamin P. Hardy outlines several potential benefits when one starts to keep a journal. It’s never too late to start. Here’s the link to his piece: https://medium.com/the-mission/why-keeping-a-daily-journal-could-change-your-life-9a4c11f1a475

 

#amblogging: This Year’s Vacation

Bark and I, winery, Okanagan Falls

As much as I love writing and editing, every now and then I’ve got to stop and take it easy, and this week there was no better place than Penticton, B.C. My family and I spent a quick, eventful five days away, enjoying one another’s company and trying new things, in particular, some of the many wineries along the Naramata Bench.

Joie Winery, Naramata Bench

If you’re a fan of wines, this is a terrific stretch to explore, with over 40 small, highly individualistic wineries nudged together in the hills and valleys overlooking Okanagan Lake. We found that stopping to taste wine at four wineries per afternoon was plenty. Many of the wineries allowed us to sample four to six wines, so you can imagine how the consumption added up.

Kanazawa Winery

Unfortunately, many businesses along the Bench are losing business due to fears about the ongoing wildfires. Penticton, while hazy during our first three days there, is out of the danger zone as I write this, and still going strong. The raised water levels this spring are receding and as you’ll see below, the beaches are coming back. It had been five years between visits to this lovely area. I won’t wait so long next time. Lakeshore Drive, Penticton

By the way, if you’re looking for a great place to stay, try Haven Hill Guest House. We had a great time there.

 

#amblogging: The Power and Importance of Reading

Books

From an early age, I’ve loved to read. Books kept me company in a life that involved frequent moves, and were solace when family life was tough. Although I didn’t plan to become a writer, a love for the written word and a good imagination found me delving into the world of fiction.

Reading has many benefits. One study says that readers live longer. An article in Blinklist states that the common link among the world’s high achievers isn’t IQ or luck, it’s a love of reading. Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, are all avid readers. I’m not saying that they read fiction, but that they make a point to read daily and often learn something new nearly every day. How cool is that?

I’ve learned a lot about the craft of storytelling by reading thousands of works of fiction and books on writing. I’m turning to other types of nonfiction these days, and I can’t wait to learn many more things.

By the way, for those of you who love to discuss books, I belong to three great groups on Facebook. All are well moderated, so the discussions usually stays friendly.

Bookworms Anonymous, https://www.facebook.com/groups/131878603663093/

Readers Coffee House, https://www.facebook.com/groups/ReadersCoffeehouse/

BookAholic Café, https://www.facebook.com/groups/BookAholicCafe/

Happy reading!

#amblogging #Canada150Event!

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, my publisher, Imajin Books will be giving away 150 ebooks to Canadian residents and 150 ebooks to international residents. To enter, just subscribe to the Imajin Books Inner Circle (IBIC newsletter).

international ad2 Winners will be selected from subscribers, and will be able to choose their ebook prize. This is a great way to add to your summer reading collection, for free!

To enter, go to http://www.imajinbooks.com/ibic

Good luck!

 

#amblogging: Imajin Book’s Summer Sizzles Ebook Sale, July 1 – 1 5!

Summer Sizzles sale-July 1 -15

My publisher, Imajin Books, is about to launch a terrific two-week sale on their ebooks from July 1st to July 15. My first Evan Dunstan mystery novella, DEAD MAN FLOATING, will be on sale for only $.99 (U.S.) through the following links:

http://www.imajinbooks.com/kindle-ebook-sale

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/573302, (use promo code HF32M)

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/l77ymg5

Amazon: myBook.to/DEADMANFLOATING

Imajin Dead Man Floating Qwickie
Evan Dunstan, Mystery #1

One wrong decision… 

Security guard Evan Dunstan didn’t expect to find a body floating in a campus stream. An empty vodka bottle nearby suggests that the highly despised George Krenn, head of the plumbing department, had drunkenly fallen in. Refusing to let the death of a vile man ruin his romantic plans, Evan decides to leave the body for the next shift to find.

One friend in trouble…

When it’s discovered that Krenn was murdered, Evan has a lot of explaining to do. So does his friend Sully, Krenn’s least favourite student. Evan uses his hacking skills and campus knowledge to keep them both out of jail, but the investigation forces him to question Sully’s innocence.

One mystery to solve…

Uncovering the truth proves to be more than challenging. It may cost Evan his job, his friendship, and his woman. Will Evan find the killer, or will the killer find him first?

 

 

#amblogging: Wicca: Where Everything Old Is New Again

I don’t have a strong religious background. My Sunday school education ended at age twelve. Neither my parents nor any of my grandparents went to church. Lately, though, I’ve become interested in reading about all types of religious beliefs.

In particular, I’ve been reading about Wicca, primarily because it’s at the core of an urban fantasy I’m writing. I also took an introductory course on the topic last year. That six-evening session was so interesting that it inspired further reading. Our instructor recommended books by Scott Cunningham, so I picked up a couple. Here’s a snippet of notes I made from his work:

. Wicca is a loosely organized pagan religion centering toward reverence for the creative forces of nature, usually symbolized by a Goddess and a God.

. Wiccan’s spiritual roots accepts magic. Wicca doesn’t solicit members because it doesn’t claim to be the one try way to deity. (I like that part.)

. Wicca is a joyous religion that stems from a kinship with nature. It is a merging with the goddesses and gods, the universal energies that created all in existence. It is a personal, positive celebration of life.

. Wicca arose from shamanic beginnings, which the author says was the first, original religion. (I know plenty of Christians who would disagree, but there you go, diversity of opinion, right?)

. The Wiccan rule of morality: do what you want, as long as you harm none. Also, do nothing that will harm yourself. Concern and love for the planet is at the heart of Wicca.

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Wicca has gained a lot of popularity over the last twenty years. You could say that it’s been making a slow but steady comeback. As hard as some people tried in earlier centuries, this earth-based religion never really died. If practitioners are true Wiccans, they use magic solely to make the world a better place, to heal and to help.

As with most fantasy novels, authors who write about witches are actually writing about Wiccans gone wrong. It’s where a writer’s imagination takes off, and why I love this genre as a reader and a writer.

 

#amblogging: You Want To Be A What?

I was raised in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Back then Surrey was both rural and a rapidly growing urban area for young families. In those days, one salary could support a family in a modest, detached house.

Fifty years later, Vancouver is now one of the most expensive cities in the country. The average Canadian is nearly $22,000 in debt, which doesn’t include a mortgage. The living wage in Vancouver is now set at $20.64 an hour. It’s barely enough for one person to survive on, let alone a family. dollar-signs-money-clip-art-thumb2184272[1]

You can therefore imagine how difficult it is for a writer to survive financially. Truth is, (and this shouldn’t surprise you) that the overwhelming majority of Canadian fiction authors earn far below a poverty wage.

So I gasped when my husband ran into an associate who told him that his 22-year-old child is at university studying to become a writer. His impression was that he wanted to write books for a living, although my husband wasn’t entirely sure about it.

While I’m happy that the younger generation is interested in writing, to think that one can earn a living from fiction at that age is wildly improbable. If I had a chance to talk with this young person, I’d say, “Go ahead and pursue your dream, but get a steady job while doing so..at least until you’ve attended useful writing conferences, networked with authors in the biz, and have some publication credits under your belt.”

I hope he’s doing these things. But I worry. You see, when I’m selling my books at craft fairs, a disturbingly large number of customers assume that I’m making piles of money. Unpublished writers seem shocked that my former publisher only granted me ten free copies of each newly released title, as per our contract. If I wanted more, I had to pay for them, albeit at a discount.

I’ve also encountered writers on forums who appear to be counting on writing income to support meager pensions. Yikes! To all fiction writers out there, have a Plan  B and a Plan C!. Life is stressful enough without putting that kind of financial pressure on yourself.