Thursday, March 23, 2023

Birthday Contest

 No...It's not my birthday. That was weeks ago, but I'm behind in a lot of things. Like my contest. I'm even late here. I wrote this post two weeks ago. It occurred to me I NEVER had a contest or giveaway of any kind for 'Elaina's Fate'. I'm sorry. As often happens, my life ran away with me. It wasn't just work, writing or editing, though they played a factor. 

I've become very jealous of my time. I treat it like a kind of currency, and I'm picky about how I spend it. I hate wasted time. 

That doesn't mean I don't like spending time with my friends and family--quite the opposite. Time spent with people I love has become MORE important. It's to be savored. 

I speak often about becoming a hermit. I love my alone time, and honestly the pandemic didn't hit me very hard. Maybe because I'm getting older, I realize that time is short. My friends have been calling, and hey....if they're making time for me, maybe I should make time for them. 

And what if my mother falls again?  She spent Christmas in the hospital with a broken nose where they discovered she had Covid. My sister then tested positive for Covid as well and spent Christmas in their apartment, sick and alone. I find myself making more plans with them. Life is too damned short. What if they didn't make it?  

This has nothing to do with the contest. More like me reflecting on things that have become bigger priorities to me as I age. 

For this birthday, I spent it with my best friend, Melaida. Since we're only a day apart in ages, we like to spend at least one whole day together to celebrate. We couldn't do anything last year, because she got COVID for her birthday LAST year. Again...What IF? 

This year, we got a hotel room, just to have lots of girl time and hang out. We planned to go for Japanese food, maybe hit the pool. We stopped to get booze and snacks. We ended up not leaving the room. We had a few drinks before dinner, and decided we didn't feel like walking and we had plenty of noms, so... 

It was perfect. It was exactly what I needed. It's the best birthday I've had in a very long time. 

So that's what my contest--which is in NO WAY involved with Facebook or Meta or any other social media outfit-- is about. 

I'm giving away THREE copies of Elaina's Fate away. Here's how to enter: 

I need to read stories of your BEST birthday. I don't care if it was a party or just quiet time with those you love. I want to read about the birthday that made you truly happy.I'm going to make the deadline two weeks from today. You have until midnight, Mountain Time on April 6th, 2023 to submit your stories in the comment section of this post on my author page. (Sorry about that..I just want to be sure I can see them all and they can be properly voted on.) The one that gets the most votes by readers will be the winners. My author page is at:

By the way....That is an old photo of another birthday I had, but it's my second favorite. I had several friends over, and Melaida bought me that cake, and it was personalized just for me with book stuff and Greek mythology aspects. It says, "Best Writer in the World" She's awesome. 

Friday, February 3, 2023

Struggles with Publishing

 I actually hate self publishing. I'm not very computer savvy, and everything I do here is a result of frustrated determination and help from friends. Believe it or not, I used to excel at computers. I had a 95% average in my computer class, but after I left high school, I didn't have access to personal computers for years. By the time I got myself a computer, everything I'd learned was obsolete and I had to start from scratch without any help. 

But eventually I learned, and muddled through. Dealing with Windows did make things easier, but there was the Internet to get through. Still not bad. Learning to blog? Got personal, step by step help from former critique partner Dawn Dalton. 

Then came self-publishing. Hoo-boy. There were a lot of tears and some screaming. Some of you may remember when Her True Name: Volume Two arrived in the format of a big coloring book, except with BIG letters. I'd ordered 18 of them, and decided to market them as collectors items because there was no way in Hell the rest of them were coming out that way. What a mess...but believe it or not, they all went. 

My editor and friend Heather Savage Fransen recommended Draft2Digital and what a blessing! Thanks, Heather! I couldn't believe how easy it was to use! But here comes the glitch. 

I had to figure out how to get PAID. This is not a computer struggle, but a banking one. I sent out an SOS about it on my author page, and no one touched it. So this is why I'm sharing it with you. 

I went to my Credit Union first. They were lovely, and gave me a print out of all the numbers I needed since I didn't have a checking account with them. It included my account number, transit and route numbers, SWIFT number...It wasn't until I got home, I realized there was no IBAN number. What is it? I don't know. Neither did the woman I spoke to on the phone. 

So I called D2D. They didn't know what an IBAN number was either. I'm almost in tears at the frustration and the wonderful woman I spoke to says, "Let me ask my supervisor." and she put me on hold. I still don't know what an IBAN number is, but as a Canadian--I don't need one. I can ignore that part of the application. That was a load off my mind. I thanked her, and told her I'd try again. 

Still didn't work. Certain numbers were just plain rejected, including the SWIFT number. I lay awake for two days, frustrated to the point of angry rage tears. Then it occurred to me...

They said BANK numbers. I was using a Credit Union. Are they different? YES, they are. 

I went to my bank this time. I got a teller in training, and the amazing Indian woman training her--I wish I'd gotten her name--because she saved my sanity. The trainee had no idea what I needed, but her trainer did. She immediately went to the printer and printed out a sheet that looked much like the one I got from the Credit Union, BUT...

She walked me through it. This is your account number, this is your transit number, etcetera. I was surprised to learn that the SWIFT number isn't a number but letters. For Scotiabank, it's NOSCATT. That was a surprise, but it went through just fine. 

Here's the super important part that I never would have known if she hadn't told me. I can't remember what the name of the number they wanted was, but it's nine digits. (Sorry...I'm NOT going back in there to look.) She wrote over the first five digits of my account number and marked them 'transit' then she told me I would need those digits, not just for transit, but for the nine digit number....THEN she underlined three digits in the Canadian Clearing Code. Those three numbers were the ones needed in front of the transit numbers, which were the first five digits of my account number. 

I left, feeling a lot better, even though I can count, and that was eight numbers, not nine. It had better work!

Nope. Rejected. How could this not work again? So f#%ing frustrating, but....What if I put a space? Or a hyphen...?

IT WORKED!! As far as I know.  I filled out the tax interview with the promise that if anything isn't right, I will fix it within 30 days. So far, so good. I can't believe the release I felt. Like I had purged my lungs and run a marathon. I slept well that night. It's been over a week, and I've heard nothing from D2D. Feels like a win. I hope. 

I want to hug that woman. Next time I go to that bank, I'm going to tell her how STELLAR she is. I'm going to put her name in the acknowledgements for Her True Name: Volume Three. In my books, She was doing her job, but for me, it was a life saver. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

About Amir


Somewhere in July, a black and white Persian cat started hanging out in our yard. Very skittish. Would not address us, ran when he saw us. Poor sweetie. Collar-less cats are not unusual in our neighborhood. Charlie, for example, is a grey cat that is also skittish, but he belongs to my neighbor Joyce. She can't keep a collar on him. We lost five collars on Grendel before Dan found him a puppy collar.

So when we saw this cat, we tried to approach him. No dice. We left kibble out, just in case. And yes, Charlie eats from it too. Grendel also eats from Charlie's stash that Joyce leaves out in her garage. Joyce would ask me if the Persian was my cat. No,  I thought it was hers. Apparently, there's another man down the block who wondered the same thing. 

So we left food out for the Persian. Timid cat. Didn't want much to do with us at all, very wary, and we couldn't touch him. He'd run and jump if we tried. 

I'm going to condense this. Too many boring details, so let's talk about November the second. 

It had snowed the day before, and I was concerned, of course. I went to put food out, and found him waiting as he sometimes did. But THIS TIME...

I invited kitty in. I stood guard as he ate, but this time I held the door open and asked if he wanted to come inside. He followed me up the porch stairs. It might have taken five or seven minutes, but it felt like twenty before he crept his way into the kitchen and I quietly shut the door. 

He looked alarmed when the exit closed, but still ventured inside. I used my most soothing voice, as he slinked into the living room. He sniffed Grendel's face. Grendel has always been nice to him, and sniffed back.His sniffed Freya's face, She gave him The Swat. 

Once he figured out there was a basement, he hid in the spare bedroom, under the futon. I left him a dish of food and let him diffuse. A day and a half, I left food, and left him alone. 

That evening, a different cat came up the stairs. He was shouty and purring. He demanded pets, and rolled around being adorable so we would indulge him. We won him over! Yay! He's been here ever since.

Here's the thing....He's not a stray cat. Someone must be missing him. I'm doing the right thing and looking for his owners, But...

I had other names for him. I thought about naming him Balder, Norse god of all things pure and innocent.(Bald-er. People wouldn't get it, and would think that was a dumb name for a fluffy kitty)  I thought about calling him Helios, for the Greek god who drives the sun chariot, based on his beautiful yellow eyes that look like an eclipse when his pupils are large. I started calling him 'Amir' because he was a little prince and he was a Persian longhair. Many people know this...Yes, 'Amir' is the Persian word for 'Prince'. 

I'm not sure I like it. I catch myself saying, "C'mere Amir." and it sounds dumb. And Amir Milward sounds like 'A mere Milward.'

Not particularly imaginative of me, but he suits it. He's a little prince. He yells for affection and food. He likes to be held. I tried brushing him, and he knows the routine. I wouldn't say he likes it like Freya does, but he accepts the brush and rolls over accordingly. He's taken over the couch and has taken other surfaces accordingly. What do I mean by that? I mean my desk, the couch, my makeup table, the kitchen counter. Everything, everywhere. But he's rather polite about it, if that makes sense.  He knows how to play with toys and he SHOUTS for attention. 

We're in love with him, but he clearly belongs to someone. I've put him on all my social media, including 'Next Door', the neighborhood app. No answers, no replies in ten days. Currently looking for posters about him. 

The truth is, we don't need another mouth to feed, but what could I do? Leave him to scrounge kibble from our yard? What if it gets REALLY cold. Today was -20 Celsius, and it's early yet. There's still December and January to get through. . I can't imagine. Here's another thing. He's been here for ten days and NOT ONCE has he asked to go outside. He isn't fixed either. He also hasn't sprayed. He's an impressively good cat. Like he's been trained. He even knows not to scratch the furniture with a simple "Noooo."

There is no microchip. That doesn't mean this won't end in heartbreak. I do believe someone else owns Amir. In the meantime, I will look for his owners and hope that they will let me be a part of his life once we find them. In the meantime, Amir is a part of this family. He will be safe, warm and loved. 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Earth to Thoeba: Hurray for Fall!

Earth to Thoeba: Hurray for Fall!:   I love September. I love summer and fall, but September is the best of both worlds. It's still warm, but not too much so. There's ...

Hurray for Fall!


I love September. I love summer and fall, but September is the best of both worlds.

It's still warm, but not too much so. There's more yardwork to do, but because it's cooler, it's easier to do. Don't get me wrong, I love yardwork, but those plus 30 Celsius temperatures can really sap a person's energy. It's time to harvest and reap the rewards of all that spring and summer work. 

I've stopped raking my yard in the fall. Or at least I don't rake too much of them. Someone pointed out how a yard full of leaves is bad for your grass and attracts pests and snow mold. It's true, but I'm not talking about that kind of thing. Mine never gets that bad. 

My neighbor across the street gets the carpet of leaves. They're the people who clear my sidewalks and driveway in the winter. So I rake their tiny lawn clean and put the leaves in my compost. Win/win, and it's the least we can do for them.  

I do my fall cleaning. Like I said, it's a lot cooler outside, but I can still keep my windows open to air things out. Perfect.

Then there's the harvesting and canning. I've already done a batch of canned tomatos and a batch of freezer pickles. The pears are plump this year, and that means I'll spend my evenings making pear bread. It's also a lot of work, but the results are so rewarding. When last I visited my friend Tracey, his mom gave me QUALITY vanilla--the kind you get from Mexico--and I'm excited to try it out. 

Melaida's new business is off to a good start. She'd given me a stack of flyers to put out when she started the business, and today I got them all out. She's got new ones coming soon, and I've already figured out new neighborhoods to hand them out. There's entire blocks in my own region I haven't even been to, not even in my garage sale days. I'm finding that those long walks around the neighborhoods are a lot more pleasant this month.

I'm excited and proud of her, but I just realized I haven't done anything to promote my own work lately. I was thinking I should publish an excerpt of Chasing Monsters for Halloween. Then later, one for Elaina's Fate. maybe a contest. With all the aggravation that went into publishing Elaina's Fate, and the length of time it took to finish it, I stepped back from it, and never really came back. I didn't even hold a contest for it. 

I intend to fix that...soon. There's still a lot going on. I finished the first draft for HER TRUE NAME: VOLUME THREE, but I'm taking a short break on that before I edit. I'll start in October. There's also the anthology that has new stories to add, and truthfully, I need to get all of it organized. At least get all the stories on a single USB key. ( Yeep!) I finished a short story named 'Bad Clown'but it needs work. 

I've got a new short called 'Darkness Encroaches' but I don't like the title. Yet another piece that needs a lot of work.  

I've started work on a eulogy for a friend that has signed up for the MAID program, but that's the only new thing right now, and as you can imagine, it's not fun. 

So, yeah...I'm still hard at work. You can probably expect something new from me next year. Hopefully. We'll see. At least two new books are on their way. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Happy Birthday Grandma


My last living grandparent turns one hundred years old tomorrow. I love her so much, and I'd love to celebrate it with her, or at least phone her. So you're asking, why don't I? She's a Jehovah's Witness. 

That sucks a bit. I have to pretend it isn't a big deal. I told her I'd phone her after she turned one hundred years old, because I can't celebrate it. At least not in any obvious ways. 

I think she's amazing. She raised four boys in a time of need. When her husband broke his back, she took on THREE jobs and still kept her house and her children. Egg grader, janitor, newspaper columnist.. She did whatever.

She was the sixth born child, the first born in Canada, when her parents, Walter and Lydia P:ajunen, arrived in Canada. The first two children didn't survive.  They died in Finland, and I think two died on the journey to the new country. Lydia Pajunen became a midwife who delivered over 2000 babies, though older locals said the number was closer to 5000. I'm not sure I believe that for the simple reason that I can't picture Grandma Lydia having the time to raise my grandma, also conceiving  and giving birth to Aunt Toini and being the bread winner in the whole process Two thousand? There's records. FIVE thousand? Can you even picture that kind of number? Though I'm certain that she probably got paid in things like food. Or maybe nothing. All while taking care of a husband with a drinking problem. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. Maybe she left him on his own while she did whatever she had to. 

Grandma told me a story... She slept between her parents almost always. One morning, she woke up in a different  place, and she had  a new sister.  They told her an angel brought her down from the chimney. My grandmother's first thought was...Why didn't the angel use the door? 

My grandma had four boys. Jerrold, Arnold, Richard (Sandy) and David. Lydia delivered all but Uncle David, who arrived  14 years after my father and at 14 pounds. 

When my father, Sandy, as he was commonly known, died, I was struck by how hard it must be for my grandmother to out live one of her children. She told me, "I used to consider it such a blessing to live this long..." My heart broke her her that day. 

She dreamed of my father. He was wearing a white shirt, so bright, it glowed. He asked her to come outside, She asked him to come in for a cup of coffee. He would not. And she wasn't coming out. It remained that way until she finally woke up,

Don't worry...I didn't out her. My relatives, even the ones who aren't Jehovah's Witnesses never read this blog or anything else I write. I'm a bit of a black sheep and they are religious in one way or another.  

This photo I have of her is the last time she came to Alberta to see everyone, so to speak. She saw my cat, Freya and she said, "Kitty is washing her face. You'll get company."

My uncle, who brought her there, and is a Jehovah's Witness Elder gave her a poisonous glare.  So I said, "Well you're here, aren't you? She's a bit late."

I love my Grandma. She's the last grandparent I have left. She can't call me, so I will call her. On Thursday. 

Friday, July 8, 2022

iListen: Proud of my Bestie


My best friend embarked on a new and unusual business, and I couldn't be prouder. She is a professional listener. And why not? There are professional dog walkers and professional cuddlers, why not a professional listener? 

In this day and age, I think it's a fantastic idea. No one listens anymore. No one listens without offering advice and opinions. Have you expressed something on social media, only to be bombarded by advice and ideas or other things you didn't ask for?

 Don't you sometimes just want to vent without someone butting in with an opinion?  Are you sick of being interrupted?  Are your friends and family bored and tired of your so-called whining?  Do people roll their eyes when you need to talk about something? It's becoming all too common. 

It might sound like a luxury, but it's really self-care.

If this sounds a bit like advertising, it kind of is. I'm proud of her and I think it's a great idea. It's my blog and I can say what I like anyway, right? 

I trust her. I know her listening skills, not just because she's my bestie. She has a thoughtfulness that astounds me at times. Not only is she educated in the art of listening, she's simply good at it naturally. She's teaching classes now. She's taught me a lot, and now I'm trying to emulate her. I want to be a better listener.

One of the reasons she's my best friend is because we both share a desire to be heard, and because we give each other that kind of space, She just happens to be WAAAAAY better at it than I am. 

Melaida is self-aware. Her own experience has brought her to this. She knows that everyone in the world has lives and complications of their own and sometimes all you want to do is get it off your chest. She understands that importance. She knows not everything is about her, which I find is a rarity. 

She's not a therapist or psychologist.  She's just there to listen, that's all. Sometimes, that's all you need. I invite you to check it out.  Here's the link :

What if, just this once, it was all about YOU? Why should talking about yourself, FOR yourself be selfish,? Not anymore. This has been a long time coming.