Monthly Archives: August 2013

To The Barkery!

Otherwise entitled: THIS is how you make a great idea work.

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get to this post. I really wanted my pictures, but they refuse to leave the camera. Never fear, I’ve stolen some from my husband and asked for help from other people, so we should get through this just fine.

To answer your first question: Yes, it’s a BARKery, not a bakery. In fact, it’s Hamilton, Ontario’s first dog/pet-friendly restaurant!

To answer your second question (which I assume is, “come again?”), yes, pets are welcome. If you’re out for a walk with your dog and you’re in need of a coffee, or if your furry friend looks like he needs some frozen treats made just for dogs, you can both mosey on in.

Pet of the Month photo, yoinked with permission from Munchies' Facebook page. :)

Pet of the Month photo, yoinked with permission from Munchies’ Facebook page. 🙂

Do you have visions of cat hair in your coffee? I know that was my first thought when I heard about this concept, but it’s not an issue. The owners had to jump through hoops of fire to please the health inspectors, but they worked everything out, and food safety is a big deal here. The food is prepared and served in a glassed-in, pet-free area (see photo above- the dog’s in the sitting area). The cook/server puts the tray on the counter for the customer to pick up rather than handing it over, because apparently this makes it safer. The ceilings are made of non-porous materials.

Like I said, ALL of the hoops.

The eating area is cozy and comfortable, with arm chairs for sitting and chatting, or cafe tables for anyone interested in a proper meal. There’s a stage in the corner where the performers come for music nights, and an entire wall is filled with high-quality tricks and treats for cats and dogs (as well as a fridge full of raw food for dogs).


Some crazy kids enjoying lunch on the stage

The ordering/cooking/serving area, on the other side of the glass wall and door, is filled with tempting treats and the smell of a variety of amazing (fair trade, organic) coffees. The menu covers the top of one wall: all-day breakfast and lunch options plus pastries, salads, and fresh home-made lemonade, lattes and turkish coffee. The counter is a delicious sea of baklava, “magic bars,” butter tarts, muffins and brownies and danishes and… well, it’s probably a good thing I don’t live in the neighborhood. Plenty of vegan options, too.


AJ’s lunch. He just barely managed to stop eating long enough to take a picture for me!

Photo courtesy of Munchies

Photo courtesy of Munchies

Can any animals come in? As far as I know, yes, though I don’t think anyone has tried to bring in an ostrich or a buffalo yet. We met a lovely old Siamese cat named Angus on one of our visits, a pair of massive Leonbergers, and a dog named Doomageddon, which may be the greatest name ever given to a dog. Apparently we missed a corn snake one day, and they usually have a rabbit living there, on loan from a pet rescue organization and available for adoption.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? And yet it works. Part of the reason things run so smoothly is the rules. All pets must be leashed, and anyone who’s being intrusive, unfriendly, or messy will be asked to leave. If a dog is acting up, they’ll recommend going for a nice, relaxing (or exhausting) walk before you come in.


Actually, I think a lot of bars could use these rules.

The other reason this whole thing works is the owners. Rosie and Gary are kind, warm, wonderful people. Everyone is welcome and made to feel at home at Munchies. Have questions about the facilities or the menu? Ask away. Want to hang around for a while with your friends? Go ahead, you’ll find some games in the sitting area, and there’s a nice, puffy bed for your dog to lie on. Dog has nasty fish breath? Rosie can probably recommend a natural product to help with that, and if they don’t have it in, she’ll see about ordering it. Need a birthday cake to share with your dog? Just give ’em enough notice, they’ll make sure everyone’s tail is wagging on the big day.

Most of you probably won’t get a chance to visit Munchies, unless you’re already living in Hamilton. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, though, it’s worth stopping by 1000 Upper Gage Avenue (aka the Goodness Me plaza). I highly recommend Munchies’ baklava. And the light roast coffee. And the magic bars. And the BLT. And our dog loves the elk antler we brought home for him. And…

This is Lilly. Lilly ikes Munchies. Lilly would also like some of your sandwich, thank you.

This is Lilly. Lilly likes Munchies. Lilly would also like some of your sandwich, thank you.

Want more info?

Urbanspoon reviews

Blog post from Hungry Hammer Girl

Munchies Facebook page

Did I mention the Baklava?

Did I mention the Baklava?


Carry On: WIPpet Wednesday and ROW80 Update

Nothing new from any other WIP to share yet, so I wrote a bit more of last week’s story for you, since people responded so positively. If you don’t have time for a longer snippet and have to go, that’s OK. For anyone who wants to see what happened with that dragon, here you go. It’s 28 (mostly short) paragraphs for the 28th.

I’m thinking about making the protagonist a little older (because I can do that with my god-like powers), but we’ll wait and see on that. Rough draft again, sorry. I’l try to be more on the ball next time. 🙂

I fought to control the shaking in my hands as I held out my basket. “Y-you can have them back,” I stammered. “I didn’t know they were yours.” 

The dragon— and there was no doubt as to what it was, impossible though it seemed— lifted its head to sniff at the breeze, then moved toward me, serpentine body emerging slowly from the underbrush, curving around the clearing until the tip of its tail appeared. It wasn’t as large as the dragons in drawings and movies I’d seen, but was more than big enough to make a meal of me if it wanted to. “How generous of you,” it said. “But what of the ones you’ve eaten? However shall I retrieve those?” It raised its emerald head until we stood face to face, and the nostril slits widened as it sniffed at my mouth.

A hissing noise ripped through the forest’s silence, and the dragon let out a long, death-scented groan. Its eyes widened and rolled to the side as claws reached to grasp the wooden shaft that had appeared in its armpit. Another hiss, and a second arrow was embedded in the creature’s golden eye. The dragon slumped in a graceful wave of scaled body, then lay twitching at my feet.

I gagged at the smell and backed into the woods as quickly as I could, not wanting to wait around to see what other fairy tales were about to come to life. But which way to run? I didn’t know where the stream was, or even how far I’d come. Calm down. Think.

I needed to get higher, but most of the trees around me were spruces with branches that weretoo dense for climbing. That strange pink tree, though, had looked sturdy, and the branches started low. I crept back toward the clearing, but paused when I saw the hunter.

A girl dressed in brown pants and a stained, cream-coloured shirt stood beside the still form of the dragon. She braced a foot against the skull and pulled at her arrow, which came out with a wet squishing sound. The other arrow broke when she tried to remove it. She snarled and tossed the shaft into the woods, then pulled out a knife and sawed into the flesh at the bottom of the dragon’s ear.

She looked up as I stepped into the clearing, taking in my clothing and the now-empty basket I still held onto so tightly that splinters dug into my fingers. She held up one finger, indicating that I should wait, and went back to the ear. I suddenly felt dizzy, and sat down before my legs had a chance to fail me.

The girl, who looked to be about sixteen years old, tucked the dragon’s ear safely at the bottom of the canvas shoulder bag she carried, then offered me a blood-stained hand to help me up. “Are you hurt?”

“No, I don’t think so. Thank you.”

She shrugged. “I should thank you. My family needs the reward money.” She pulled a cloth out of her bag and cleaned her knife. “You’re new?”

“Sorry? I mean, I’m visiting my grandmother in Brightdale, if that’s what you mean.”

The girl narrowed her eyes and looked me over from my braided hair to my steel-toed hiking boots. “Not exactly, but that will do. Where did you cross?”

“Cross what, the stream?”

“Come on.”

Without any further explanation the girl led the way back into the berry patch, confidently retracing my path. When I followed her gaze, I saw signs of my earlier passage that I’d missed before in my panic: twisted branches, a patch of moss scraped off of a rock by my boot. Soon we were back at the stream.

“Thank you,” I said. I wanted to rush across the water and back home, but I had to ask. “About that dragon…”

She smiled. She was pretty, if somewhat rough-looking. A faint scar crossed her left cheek from nose to jaw, and her blond hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed in a month. “Don’t see those too often where you come from?”

“Not exactly. What—” I hesitated. I didn’t even know what to ask. There were too many questions.

She crouched to rinse her hands in the water. “You probably won’t get back,” she said, and looked back at me over her shoulder. “You can try. I’ll wait. You can come home with me.”

“I should be able to find my way back from here.”

“Good luck.”

I hopped across the stones, just as I had before, and turned confidently to go back down the hill to where I hoped Gran wasn’t still waiting for me.

Something wasn’t right. There was another one of those strange trees, and I was sure I hadn’t passed that on the way up. A bird trilled overhead, then flitted closer to investigate. Iridescent sapphire feathers glistened on its back, and bright red flashed as it spread its wings to fly away. I wasn’t much of a birdwatcher, but I was fairly certain that this wasn’t any species native to Newfoundland. Still, I pushed on down the hill.

I gasped as I emerged from the forest onto a stone outcropping that looked just like the one that had shaded me and Gran while we ate our lunch. The view had changed completely. Instead of low hills, a winding road and the village of Brightdale nestled in the valley, I was faced with a range of round-topped mountains that I had never seen before. I sank to my knees, shaking, finally understanding what the girl had meant when she asked where I crossed.

A hand settled on my shoulder. “I’m sorry,” the girl said as she sat beside me. “I had to let you try. You never know, right?” She pulled a clean cloth from her bag and offered it to me, then turned away as I wiped my eyes and blew my nose.

When I’d calmed down enough to speak, there was only one question on my mind.

“Where am I?”

Hmm… A couple of you might know the answer to that one.

Care to join in the fun? Read the other WIPpeteers’ entries at this link, and join in if you’d like! Post a snippet of a work in progress that relates in some way to today’s date (page number, chapter, etc) and add your link. Thanks to KL Schwengel for hosting this hootenanny every week!


I did. True story.

All right, Wednesday also means I owe an update for ROW80.


And the big news is… Nothing has changed. I might as well say “see Sunday’s post.” Are you all impressed? I hope so.

No, seriously, that’s it. That’s all I have to say. You’re welcome. 🙂

If you’d like to see what everyone else is up to, though, try clicking here.


Recalled to Life

“Live like someone recalled to life. Because you are.” Wise words!

El Space--The Blog of L. Marie

“Buried how long?”

The answer was always the same. “Almost eighteen years.”
“You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?”
“Long ago.”
“You knew that you were recalled to life?”
“They tell me so.”
“I hope you care to live?”
“I can’t say.”  (11)

If you don’t like book spoilers, you might say, “Fiddle-dee-dee,” and skip this post. It includes a spoiler for A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens—at least the first part of the book.

Last chance to depart before I launch into the rest of the post. . . .

If you’re still here, there’s a method to my madness, so please bear with me.

In Dickens’s saga of life before and during the French Revolution, the lines you read at the beginning of the post are an imagined conversation between Mr. Jarvis Lorry, an English banker, and Monsieur Manette, a former prisoner of the…

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Would You Rather Be Right, or Kind?

It’s a question that’s been attacking me from several angles this week.

It started, I suppose, with a Facebook post from Grammarly called “25 Common Phrases That You’re Saying Wrong”. It was an interesting post, listing commonly misused phrases and the correct versions. Go have a look, I’ll wait.

Fun, right? I’ve been saying all of them correctly except for number four, but I found the (repeated) explanations in the comments section very interesting. I also realized that I don’t use the phrase “you’ve got another thing/think coming,” because I can’t think of a situation when using that wouldn’t be rude or condescending. But that’s not the point.

The comments were enlightening in another way. Many of the comments were of the “I didn’t know that, thanks!” variety,  some were debating the correctness of numbers four and 24, and seemingly hundreds were of the “It’s WRONGLY, not WRONG, dumbass” variety. But a number of comments ran in the self-righteous, “I’ve never used any of these phrases incorrectly, and anyone who has is an idiot. Why bother speaking English if you can’t do it properly?” vein.

As I was reading through the comments, a realization bit me on the nose. Are you ready for it?

These people sound like assholes, and I don’t want to be one of them.

Yes, it bothers me when people use the wrong form of “your/you’re” in anything more formal than a Facebook status, because I think clarity in expression is important, and glaring errors distract me from the message a person is trying to convey or the story they’re trying to tell.  I have been tempted to carry post-it notes and a black Sharpie in my purse so I can correct errors on signs without actually committing vandalism. I think it’s ridiculous that “irregardless” is in the dictionary, and that “literally” is now literally defined as “figuratively.”

I love English, messy pawn-shop of a language that it is, and I cringe when it’s (not its) abused.

But I’ll tell you something: I don’t love it enough to think that it’s more important than being kind. I don’t ever want to be one of those small-minded jerks who reads someone’s tweet about their dog dying and corrects the message’s grammar instead of offering sympathy.

Perfect example of what I mean: In the comments on that Grammarly post, several people said that when they ask someone, “How are you?” and the person says “Good,” they want to walk away from the conversation.

Did you catch that? Because someone said “good” instead of “well,” these self-proclaimed grammar nazis* consider that person beneath them, not worthy of notice or care. They’re more concerned with a correct response than with the fact that maybe that person said “good” with a tear in her eye or a dishonest wobble in his voice.

No, they’d rather be right than be kind.

I don’t want to be like that. I also don’t want to deal with people like that, so I think from now on I’m going to say “good” whenever someone asks me how I’m doing.  That should weed a few of them out.

This issue goes far beyond grammar, of course. That was just the first incandescent brain-flash I got this week. It applies to so many things in life. Take Batfleck (or whatever people are calling this “issue”). I understand thinking that someone made a bad casting decision for a movie. I also understand that this is important to many people. Discussing these things can be interesting, and expressing passion is important.

But when you look at the comments on Twitter and the posts on Facebook, something becomes apparent very quickly. People are more concerned with seeming clever than with the fact that they’re ripping an actual human being apart with their personal insults. “I think _______ would have been a better choice for Batman” is an opinion, and there’s nothing wrong with it. “Dare-Douche can’t be batman” is also an opinion, but it’s attempting to be hurtful to a real person. It’s also not particularly clever, and there are a lot out there that are far crueler, but you get my point. People are going for laughs, for “look how clever and wonderful I am” rather than trying to actually add something relevant and useful to the discussion.

Again, they’d rather be right (or funny, or admired by their Twitter followers) than be kind.

Have you looked at reviews of popular books on Goodreads lately? Scandals and kerfuffles aside, there are a whole lot of negative reviews that consist entirely of GIFs and statements like “_________ is the worst writer ever and should give up now” and “nice try, sweetie, better luck next time.”

I can’t and won’t claim that I’m innocent in this. I’ve made fun of celebrities who I won’t name here. I get frustrated when people are famous for being famous, or for apparently being pregnant for two years, or for spreading glitter and bad decisions like confetti. I’ve wondered out loud how people can enjoy certain books that are either badly-written or that make pre-teen girls swoon over stalkers. And there’s a place for honest criticism, for talking about the larger issues that these things bring to light, for sharing concerns over young women flocking to Twitter to beg a certain singer to beat them up because he’s OMG SO HAWT. But when it comes to the balance of being right or kind, I’m going to be making some changes. I’m going to make sure that when I share my opinions I’m focusing on my concerns or on the issues– not on insulting the celebrity/author/politician in a personal way, and certainly not on insulting the people who love their work.

This isn’t about pretending everything is sunshine and rainbows, or wanting to buy the world a Coke, or why can’t we all just get along, guys? There’s a place for honest criticism, for fans expressing their opinions on casting decisions in movies, and for defending the integrity of our language (b3caws engush is gr8, guise). There are issues that need to be discussed, even if there are people who are going to have their feelings hurt because they have different opinions. I’m not saying that I’m going to hold in my thoughts and opinions until I explode, just because I think someone won’t like what I say.

This is about me (just me) trying to make a small change. Before I open my mouth or set fingers to keyboard, I’m going to take a minute to ask, “why am I saying this?” If I’m adding to a discussion in a productive way, or if I’m offering gentle correction because I want to help someone or improve a situation, I’ll go ahead. If I’m just talking for the sake of talking, if I’m trying to sound clever or make myself feel smart because I’m right and someone else is wrong, or if I’m saying something that’s hurtful to someone on a personal level, I’m going to back off.

I’ve decided that for me, being kind is more important than being right. It’s not going to be easy to let go of my snarkiness over celebrities; I suspect I’ll be a work in progress for quite some time.

But there you go. I’m going to try.

(Please forgive me if none of this made sense. There’s an invisible troll trying to drive a foot-long section of rebar through the right side of my cranium this morning, and it’s throwing me off a bit.)

*Yes, a phrase with its own significant problems, but we’ll leave that for another time. This is dragging on as it is.

ROW, ROW, ROW Your Words (Sunday Update)


Well, well, here we are again. I’ve had so many thoughts about blog posts this week, and haven’t actually written any of them. I have no good excuse for that, so I’m just going to move right along…

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that understands that you have a life, and thank goodness for that. Let’s see how this week has been going:

I’m still editing… kind of. Until I finish getting feedback, I’m hovering in the “festering thoughts” phase, and not actually writing. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? “Brewing” would also do, as would “cautious approach and retreat.” I have this story that needs a bit of fixing, but every time I try to sit and approach the problems head-on, they fight back. I have an idea, I try to examine it, and I realize that it won’t work. Everything I change has a ripple effect, changing other aspects of the story that were working just fine, or even changing the basic message and theme of the story.

Not so much what I was looking for.

But I think I’ve got a new approach to try. See, the problem with the problems is that most of them are at the beginning of the story. An ending would be easier to change; a beginning affects everything that comes after. When I start at the beginning and consider a big change, it doesn’t work… so I’m going to try working backwards. Start with the smaller problems and single-scene problems later in the story, then ask, “what led to this?”

It’s still not going to be easy, but at least it’s less intimidating, and sometimes just looking at things from another angle can shake a person’t thoughts up enough that a solution becomes clear. I’m also not doing and “sit and think” brainstorming sessions; it’s too frustrating, and I’m easily distracted. Right now I’m letting things percolate while I’m resting, walking, doing the dishes, etc. This works better for me, as the thoughts float around and come together like pieces of a puzzle. You know, one of them there floaty-like puzzles.

…It’s probably for the best that I’m not fixing similes and metaphors right now, eh?

So there’s my editing update.

Actually, that’s all I have to update. Oh, for those of you following along at home, I did get to the doctor on Friday, and got my prescription renewed. My hip’s almost better, and I’m back to walking the dog when I can, so here’s hoping that my mood, motivation, and creativity are all back to normal before school starts. Why? Because, my darlings, both of my kids are going to be in school in the mornings, and that means that if I can find the energy and sense of purpose I need, I’ll have time to sit and write.

It’s a little intimidating, actually. No more excuses. If I can manage to keep up on housework and everything else during the rest of the day, I can pretty much make writing a part-time job.

True, it’s a part-time job that pays absolutely nothing, but we’ll just stick a pin in that and let it rest for now. Not the point.

Wish me luck.

New Story For You: WIPpin’ it good again, and ROW80

No, I’m not back to my regular works in progress, but I couldn’t stay away any longer. Wouldn’t want the WIPpeteers to forget me entirely. *sniffle*

So what the heck am I doing for WIPpet Wednesday? Well, according to a recent amendment to the rules, we can post the beginning of something new if we have nothing from our current work in progress to show, we can start something new. So this morning (yes, leaving it to the last minute, I was sewing Barbie pants last night) I whipped up a little something I was contemplating yesterday while I was out picking blueberries.

You’ll see the connection very quickly. 🙂

Today is the 21st… this is the first 23 paragraphs of the story. I’m sorry, but cutting off the last few lines of the scene just seemed mean. Forgive the first-draftiness. But hey, I’m here! That’s something, right? Actually, this is kind of a story in itself. I may or may not continue…



“And that’s when the dragon ate her. The End.” Gran chomped her teeth together and grinned, eyes sparkling.

I snorted. “I had no idea dragons even liked blueberries,” I said, and settled on my haunches to reach a few sweet berries nestled beneath a spruce.

“Oh, they don’t particularly.” She twisted a thick strand of iron-grey hair behind her ear, pinning it beneath the arm of her glasses. “But they’re a might territorial, my dear, and unlikely to pass up a meal.” She stood and stretched her back, rolling her shoulders forward and back. “Especially not a tender, tasty morsel like that. You know, she probably looked a lot like you. Young woman, strong, tender. Blueberry-filled.”

I turned to her and tossed a handful of berries into my mouth, and we both laughed as juice squirted out between my lips and down my chin. I wiped it on the sleeve of my red plaid shirt.

My grandmother had always told unconventional bedtime stories, even when I was a child. Princesses found their way out of ogres’ lairs without the assistance of princes, the old witch in the woods occasionally saved Hansel and Gretel from their abusive parents, and no one was guaranteed a happy ending. At eighteen I had long outgrown my need to be tucked in when my family visited Gran in Newfoundland, but I still enjoyed the stories on rainy days, and they helped pass the time during chores.

Gran winced and rubbed her knuckles.

“Are you all right?”

“Of course,” she said. “Rain coming, though.”

I glanced up at the blue sky, streaked with a few high mare’s tails. Cirrus, I reminded myself. I kept two sets of names in my mind for most of the natural world: the Proper Names, and Gran’s Names. She always listened with polite and amused interest when I shared names from my field guides, then went back to explaining the useful properties of whatever plant we were examining at the time. I looked at the clouds again. Mare’s tails. Gran’s names were always better.

She crouched beside me and resumed her efficient plucking. “D’you have a story for me today, my treasure?”

“Maybe later?” I asked, and she nodded. It was so easy for her, telling her stories as she worked, the ones she’d learned when she was a child, fables from her family or her isolated community, or those she’d made up herself as she raised her children. I was a storyteller, myself, but I had loftier ambitions. Fame. Fortune. An adoring fan-base who would devour very word I came out with, if only I could find the courage to share those words.

Not yet. The words weren’t ready yet. They had to be perfect before I could share them.

I stretched my own stiff back. “Excuse me for a minute? Lemonade’s catching up with me.”

Gran nodded, and I wandered off to find a likely-looking spot in the bushes.

“Mind you don’t wander too far,” she called after me. “They say they found that poor girl’s charred bones not far from here.”

I smiled and nodded, hoping she was joking. My mother worried that Gran was growing senile. I usually told her that she was being overprotective of her mother-in-law, that Gran was just being fanciful when she talked about the fairies in the garden. Sometimes, though, she seemed to believe her own tall tales, and I wondered whether Mom was right.

A few minutes later I pulled up my jeans and rinsed my hands as well as I could in a cold stream. A patch of sunlight on the other side lit a berry patch, packed with promising-looking blue clusters. Best time of year, I thought, and hopped from stone to half-submerged stone across the stream. I thought about going back to tell Gran where I was going, but I wouldn’t be gone long. I’d just check it out, then go back and let her know. I didn’t want her to wet her boots in the stream, anyway.

The berries were like nothing I’d ever seen or tasted. Large, juicy, and impossibly flavorful— I couldn’t resist eating as I went. Without realizing I was doing it, I followed what looked like a path deeper into the woods, stepping forward to reach each tantalizing bush as it came into view.

When I looked up, the shadows were long. I pulled out my phone, but the battery was dead. It wouldn’t have done me any good to try to call Gran, not out here where there was no signal to speak of, but I’d have liked a sense of the time. Was she worried? I turned to run back toward the stream, but the path was gone.

“Gran?” I called, but the sound seemed to disappear in the trees. I cupped my hands around my mouth. “Gran?” No response. Don’t panic. Fine advice, of course, but my racing heart didn’t want to hear it, and my skin broke out in a cool sweat.

We weren’t far from civilization. Someone would find me. I just hoped Gran wouldn’t try to search on her own. To pass the time and distract my mind, I stepped into a clearing and crossed to look at a strange tree that grew on the far side. Its thick, twisted trunk was covered in deep and regular scars, as though someone had been at the bark with a knife. Long branches drooped toward the ground, covered in deep pink, heart-shaped leaves. I inhaled. The smell was sweet, and somehow comforting. I wanted to touch the leaves, but resisted. I wasn’t going to risk a rash on top of being lost.

I spun toward a rustling sound behind me, sending a few berries flying from my over-full basket. My throat tightened as a sleek, green head appeared from beneath a clump of bushes, followed by a sinuous neck covered in shining scales. The lips on the pointed snout pulled back in something like a sneer, revealing dozens of teeth that looked razor-sharp, and glowed white in the shadows.

The creature chuckled, and every hair on my body stood on end. A hiss burst from the long throat, and golden eyes looked me up and down. My stomach clenched as the beast smiled. “Who’s been eating my berries?”

So there you go. This is what I think about when I’m picking berries. What will happen? Do you think she’ll get chomped?

If you’re looking for more (and probably shorter) WIPpety goodness, check out the linkie here. Good times, good times. If you want to join in, post a snippet of a work in progress corresponding to today’s date on your own blog (21 lines, a few paragraphs from page 21, whatever). Or start something new! You could end up like our dear host, K.L. Schwengel, and have WIPs climbing all over you like needy quadruplets, begging for attention! FUN!



OK, I’ve already said that I haven’t been doing much actual writing (as in, the writing I’m supposed to be doing), but that can wait for now. I am getting other goal-related things done. The pony I was working on just needs hair and touch-ups, and I’m now customizing a Barbie doll for my son’s birthday, because for some reason there’s no Beothuk Barbie, and he wants one. Go figure. I’m trying to keep up with meal-planning for the family, and we’re doing some Big Fun Things. Today I was planning to take the boys out to a book signing, but they’re not behaving very well this morning, so that might not happen.

Reading goals: I read Outlander in three days this week. That’s a lot of words (as in, almost 300,000). I really enjoyed it– obviously. Great story and characters. I did find myself a bit distracted my the extreme adverb abuse in the dialogue tags, but I think I’m getting better at just enjoying stories again.

Really, though. In the space of three paragraphs we get “he said, rather grumpily,” “I said nastily,” and “I demanded ungramatically,” which actually made me giggle out loud. The phrase “his hands digging bruisingly into my flesh” was also… present elsewhere.

Otherwise, though, I had a good time. Highly recommended. Great sex scenes, too, detailed without being graphic. That’s a tough balance to achieve, and I can see why so many people mention this book when the subject comes up. It was also a nice change to enjoy a book where the story is allowed to take some time to unfold, where descriptions aren’t rushed and no one is perfect.  I look forward to reading the next book in the series, AFTER I get through more of my TBR pile.

So there you go, my goal updates, in higgledy-piggledy form. For more Round of Words updates, give this here a click.

Bye for now!

Something Odd, Something… something.

Just a little end-of-week blog clean-up here, a few updates and addendums, a fiddle-dee-dee and a hi-dee-ho, and I really need to get my meds refilled.

I didn’t participate in WIPpet Wednesday this week. Again. Between depression issues and being uncertain about a few things that I won’t bore you with, I’m not working on WIPs right now. I did write a flash fiction piece the other night, but that wasn’t appropriate for the blog hop, so… no post. But I am reading everyone’s entries when I get the chance. I don’t always have the energy (or technology) to comment, but I’m there, and I’m reading, and you guys are all fantastic.

And now for something completely different! I posted pictures of the albino axolotl on Facebook (remember this guy?)


“Hai again.”

…and a friend of mine posted this in response.  So I’m passing it on, because it’s Friday, and why not?

That might get stuck in your head. I’m sorry.

Another update from that same post: Remember Long Dick’s Sausage Emporium, and how it was closed when we went? Well, we weren’t the only ones who missed out.

Tweet from Marianas Trench:

So at least I’m in good company? I guess?

I feel like there was something else that I was going to say here, but it’s gone. My brain’s not working so good. Here’s hoping I can make an appointment with my doctor soon (don’t even get me STARTED on how impossible that is). I wasn’t kidding about the meds. At least loopy-brain isn’t life-threatening, right?


Eat Poop Now Cat

If you have no sense of humor, don’t like having fun, or are very easily offended, you can skip this one. For everyone else, I offer my favourite game.

Eat Poop Now Cat: Easy, fun, insane, and no one loses. Well, you might lose control of your bladder if that’s a thing for you. It happens.

I almost never get to play this one, because it really only works with groups larger than four people. If you have a group like that, though, give this one a shot. I’ve played with my parents, my grandparents, and friends much closer to my own age, and it’s been hysterical every time.

Eat Poop Now Cat is… well, first of all, is probably not the original or proper name for this game, but it’s how I was introduced to it, and it works for me. It’s sort of a combination of Telephone and Pictionary.

Here’s how we do it:

Everyone needs a piece of paper and a pen. That’s it. Each player writes a sentence (ANY sentence) at the top of the page, and you pass to the player on the left. That player draws a picture of that sentence, trying not to take up more than a few inches of vertical space. That player then folds the paper, hiding the original sentence but leaving the picture visible, and passes to the left again. The next player sees the picture, and writes a sentence based on that picture.

Every paper is moving at the same time, so every player should be drawing or writing at the same time.

Play continues this way, passing in one direction, always folding so that only the previous player’s sentence or drawing is visible, until the papers get back to their original player, or until you run out of room. The only condition is that you ALWAYS end with a sentence written, not on a picture. Then pass one more time.

Then it gets fun. You might have had a few titters, giggles, guffaws or “WTF?” looks before this, but here’s the payoff. One by one, the players unfold their papers and read out loud the original sentence, and then the final one.

The first round, if people are learning the game, might be a bit tame. Give it another round. I have never played this and NOT had things get either ridiculous, nonsensical, surreal, or dirty, depending on who I’m playing with. Always play multiple rounds, and be sure to pass in the opposite direction on each round to keep things interesting.

Examples? Of course I brought examples!

This is what your papers will look like at the end. Sentence, drawing, sentence, drawing, etc. And no worries if you can’t draw. It makes things SO much more interesting!

Language in this first one…


Here we’ve gone from “three blind mice miss their tails” to “Three blind mice versus the martians.” I think it has summer blockbuster potential. You cans see the progression, though. It’s… interesting.


This one made my dad laugh harder than I’ve ever seen before. We went from “Wendy thinks Sean Connery is hot” (which is the sentence my dad wrote) to “The Titanic had seasick Ghostbusters at a reasonable temperature, broken bits of thing made it snow on Santa, who looked a bit like GIR,” which he had to read out loud.


“You can’t read my poker face” became “An angry hedgehog is trying to read his book while a zombie teacher tries to hypnotize children to say zzzzzz.”

OK, so it’s funnier when you’re involved in the game. Really, give it a try ASAP. Good times.

One more? OK, but fair warning: gnomes and dildos ahead.


“Butterflies and snapdragons are man-eating zombies” morphed into… “Dead zombies, bludgeoned by lawn gnomes were observed by a half-witted child, jumping rope,” by way of “Three people were dead, but some jump rope and nosediving brain splatter followed by two gnomes with a dildo lead to only two people being dead.”

Well, we preserved the zombies, anyway. So to speak.

Yes, there is a board game something like this, the totally-less-interestingly-named Cranium Scribblish. But why would you want to do that when you can have hilarity like this at a fraction of the cost? And also, you get to say “Eat Poop Now Cat” to your friends. Wicked icebreaker.

If any of you do try this out, please, PLEASE share your results and report back to me!

St. John’s Days

We spent a few days in St. John’s at the beginning and end of our vacation this summer. It’s a good thing, too; trying to go from our tiny town to Hamilton and back without some kind of smaller-city buffer would be like trying to go to the depths of the ocean and back to the surface without any pause for pressure adjustment.

What I’m saying is, we’d have been crushed or exploded.

We didn’t do much tourist-type stuff this time. Maybe it was the knowledge that we were going to be doing beaucoup de shit in Ontario (pardon my french), or the threat to our budget, but we laid pretty low. AJ got his tattoo re-inked before our flight out, so that took up a whole day. Seriously. The guy had set a 4-5 hour block of time aside; it took more than eight. LONG day with the kids!

That’s not what we’re here to talk about. There are a few semi-random things I want to show you, though, and they are threefold.*

First, the weather in St. John’s.

This is a picture I took from the car the evening we came back into the city:

It's a pretty town. Have I mentioned that?

It’s a pretty town. Have I mentioned that?

…and the weather when we woke up the next morning:



Really. Welcome to Newfoundland. 🙂

The second thing is a few photos from a pet store, and a couple of interesting creatures we met there.

The caiman, who is NOT FOR SALE and DISPLAY ONLY:



…and the albino axolotl, which I had seen pictures of before but never encountered in real life. Friends, it’s super creepy, and almost cute. Sort of. Creepicute.



Weird, right? Tiny little alien monster thing. Totally for sale, though. $90 and he’s yours!

No takers?

Moving right along, then…

We thought we’d try to grab a couple of Long Dick’s while we were in town. Don’t leave! This isn’t going where you think it is. We just wanted some meat to stuff in our faces, and we’d heard fantastic things about this sausage truck across from Mile One stadium. Long Dick’s Sausage Emporium.



Sadly, we did not get any of that hot, juicy sausage. That weekend was the annual George Street Festival, and the guy who owns this was keeping late hours. I never would have thought it would be impossible to get some street meat in downtown St John’s on a Saturday afternoon, but there you go. We tried, and we will try again. My husband is totally on board with this mission now. WE WILL HAVE OUR LONG DICK’S!

And here’s the Long Dick’s story, for anyone who’s interested:

Yeeeeah, history!

Yeeeeah, history!

Hmm… looks like the picture got cut off. Well, just know that it’s about rum running and three boys called Little Dick, Long Dick, and Goat Dick, and that’s pretty much all you need to know about Newfoundland’s history.

I kid. The history here is actually fascinating. But really, Goat Dick.


So let’s end on a less awkward note. A picture of me kissing a giant puffin, perhaps? Well, not kissing him… that thing is filthy. But I liked it, anyway.

Between the puffin, the Tim Horton's cup, the Avalon mall and the Labraorite necklace, this may be the newfiest I'll ever get.

Between the puffin, the Tim Horton’s cup, the Avalon mall and the Labraorite necklace, this may be the newfiest picture I’ll ever get of me.

Thanks for visiting the city with me. I’ll be back soon with that party game I promised (which I think made my dad laugh so hard he almost threw up), and pictures of that barkery. No, I can’t get them off of my camera, but I’ll send family members to get more for me if I have to!

“He had his reasons.”
“They were threefold.”


Product Review: What the…

So here’s the story: I was at my grandparents’ house, and there was a HUGE bag of this stuff on a shelf. My aunt told me that it’s AMAZING, that a friend of hers claims to have gained 10 lbs just because of this sweet and salty snack.

Perhaps not the sort of endorsement they’d prefer, but impressive, nonetheless.

Fast-forward to the day after we got home from our vacation. I was in Gander for much-needed groceries (after 2 weeks away, the perishables had pretty much perished), but it was a holiday. The grocery store was closed. Freaking WALMART was closed. Shoppers Drug Mart was the only place open that sold milk, eggs, bread, and hot dogs. Those are the four food groups, right? Well, they also happen to sell this stuff, so I grabbed a smaller bag, excited to see what all the fuss was about.

In case you can’t see the picture clearly, this is G.H. Cretors “Chicago Mix” popcorn. That is, caramel corn and cheddar cheese corn, all mixed together in one bag. To be honest, the thought made me a little ill, but come on. 10 lbs!

So how was it?

I don’t want to insult anyone from Chicago, but you people are NUTS.

Remember that episode of FRIENDS when Rachel made trifle with sauteed beef and peas? In the words of Ross Gellar:

That may be a slight exaggeration. If you get a strict 1:1 cheese-to-caramel ratio, it’s palatable. If you separate the popcorns, neither is horrible (though I’ve had others of each that I’ve liked more). But yeah, most of the bag ended up in the garbage.

Hey, I get the sweet-and-salty thing; this is why they invented chocolate-covered pretzels, which I heartily endorse as a concept. I eat poutine, for crying out loud. French fries with gravy and cheese curds. I know this sounds gross to many people who haven’t tried it, but SO GOOD. Also, the Pulled Pork Poutine at New York Fries (pulled pork in BBQ sauce over fries and cheese curds) is to DIE for. So it’s not that I’m opposed to weird flavour combinations.

This one just did NOT do it for me.

*Goes back to dipping Wendy’s fries in a chocolate Frosty*

Oh, yeeeeah.

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