Saturday, December 30, 2017

Bad Dreams/New Year

I'm having a midlife crisis brought on by a bad dream.

I dreamed I was seventeen again, and back at my high school  locker. The locker between the Industrial Arts class and the Home Economics class. Mr. Chichak was still alive, but I never saw him.

There was a massive jukebox blocking the exit. I would go to that jukebox everyday, spending money on songs I liked even though I was wearing my Sony Walkman with my favorite Metal cassettes in my pockets. I approached it everyday, noticing that every week the songs changed until I didn't recognize anything in the selection. The titles became gibberish, and all that was left were guitar instrumentals on mix tapes.

That upset me, but I made a decision. I could learn to LIKE those songs. I could change my mind. Maybe....I could change who I was, adapt. Conform. Just a bit.

MAYBE I could suck things up and stay home. Maybe I could graduate. Maybe if I just kept quiet and sucked it up, I wouldn't have to work minimum wage jobs with maximum physical effort that caused me to drop weight at alarming speeds and force me to work even when pulled muscles and aching tendons screamed at me to rest.

Maybe I'd already be a successful writer with more than four titles. Maybe I'd be a BETTER writer. Maybe I'd be someone else, and just father would still be alive. Or maybe it wouldn't have been such a vicious shock when he died. Maybe maybe maybe.

I cried for two days. I'd like to thank Colleen and my mother for making it stop, but it's still bugging me. Who would I have been?

Thursday, December 28, 2017


This will be my third attempt to write a Christmas/New Year's blog. I found that as Christmas approached and winter closed in it got harder and harder to stay upbeat and not to leak my anger and self pity into this blog.

The truth is, this year, all the fiction I wrote was one single Drabble. 100 words. Don't worry, I've still been editing a bit. Until I spent two months working graveyard shift at a toy store. (Oddly rewarding and educational.) Then edits fell by the wayside.

I only have one New Year's resolution this year. I need to rekindle my passion for writing. I need to let go of my guilt and regrets. I need to give myself permission to be kinder to myself. There's so much I haven't said, but I'm not here to bring people down. I'm here to tell you I will write again. I'm here to tell you I'm returning to my edits in the hopes that I can get 'Her True Name: Volume Two' out soon. I'm going to continue work on my anthology about my dreams.

Thank you Sharon, Sherri and Judy,  Jesse and Michelle, and always Mel, Colleen, Sylvia, Rita, Kevin and Ashley for being there when my father passed, and for sticking with me and supporting me. Thank you to my husband Dan and my perfect cats Freya and Spartacus for the much needed cuddles.

Happy New Year and I'll see you all in 2018.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

For the Love of Pears!

It was a cold and rainy summer. Somehow, the pear tree that grows next to me--the one my neighbor has almost decided is mine produced a scary abundance this year. It's good that I wasn't working.
I have no idea how many I picked. I gave away seven bags to friends. I canned, and gave away countless more.

Pinterest was my precious tool...until the end of pear season when I discovered EVEN MORE pear recipes I really could have used. At least I'm fully armed for next year. And I'll be calling Fruit by Sherbrooke as soon as they start dropping.

That's less than half of it.

I got off easier when I found this canning recipe: The Easy Way to Can pears  But I also made my famous Pear Liqueur:http://DIY Pear Liqueur But do you think I could find real vanilla bean anywhere? I used cinnamon sticks until that ran out. Then I went to my local Halal store and purchased real cinnamon, which I can't find now. The universe is telling me to 'Stahp!'.
Not all of it. Just the cool bottles.

I made four of these: Pear Custard Pie and my husband was addicted, until he wasn't anymore. STAHP. And I literally made ten loaves of this: Pear Loaf and a few Pear Dump Cakes, which is a layer of pears with a pre-boxed cake batter and some cinnamon thrown in.

And There's still a third of them lying on the ground, too abused to use because it was also windy this year and they hit the sidewalk and other various concrete garden fixtures with ferocious velocity.

I'm glad it's over before I started dreaming about them. It's true that the last few days have seemed strange because I have not done any pear related chores. Now I can go back to editing.

Oh RIGHT!!   I almost forgot! I can now go back to writing and writing related things that don't involve pears! Enjoy the recipes. I for one don't want to see another pear until next year.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Earth to Thoeba: The Thing About Edits

Earth to Thoeba: The Thing About Edits: Yay! You've finished your novel! It took you months, maybe a year or so. You've overcome the dry spells, the self doubt, and const...

The Thing About Edits

Yay! You've finished your novel! It took you months, maybe a year or so. You've overcome the dry spells, the self doubt, and constant revisions. You've added extra details and removed superfluous sentences. You gave some characters more to say, and eliminated others. You remembered to show, not tell.

Or did you? Now that you're gazing lovingly at your finished manuscript, it's time to look it over and berate yourself on what a clumsy, amateurish job you did. Oh, edits are fun.

You give it a good once over. Check your spelling, and count the sensory details. (Crap! Excuse me, I have to check Freya's reaction to her new environment in the Prologue. Don't forget to describe the setting.) Make sure the five senses are represented, and if applicable, include the sixth sense hunches and feelings.

Another run. This time you read it outloud, checking for grammar and flow. Did that sentence make sense as you read it? Did everything mesh together properly? Or were there pieces that pulled you out of the moment? Would an Old Norse Viking use the word 'demented'? No. They use the word 'beserk', and it's okay to use it more than once. Put the Thesaurus down.

Third run. NOW, we're in the thick of it. Read it like a reader, not a writer. It looks different. Are you pulled in? Are you bored? Why? Today, it was show and not tell. Fix it with a dialog between the characters about how they're feeling about arriving on Earth for the first time. Pick apart every sentence. You find a sentence you don't like, and you realize it's because it uses a lame cliche. Why say 'incomprehensible babble' when you can say 'words that fell from his mouth rolled, pitching high and low in an incomprehensible deluge. Like a song.' Answer your own questions. Like why doesn't anyone believe Heimo when he tells the villagers that naked strangers have arrived? Because one sentence claims Heimo has seen fairies. No one believes that either.

When that exhausting exercise is finished, you'll probably go over it again. Just to be sure. Because you're going to send it to Beta readers, people who love to read and will give you important feedback about your carefully polished offering. If they care about you and your work, they'll be brutally honest. Put your ego aside. This is your audience. If they find flaws, examine and correct them. Remember--"No one ever became great by being told they were great." --Stephen King (I think.) 

So we're done now? No. Hand it all over to a professional editor, and squirm as they take your baby and manipulate it into something palatable for the masses. Anyone who trusts their own objectivity and publishes without this step is an arrogant fool. Besides, it will only enhance your work, and make you look that much more talented. If you have a good editor, you'll barely be able to see them in the final product. 

I'm in the third edits of Her True Name: Volume Two. I just finished Chapter One, and it took all day. Here's a sad fact about edits...You'll never quite be satisfied. While I'm here writing advice, I'm clicking back to those pages I did today and tweaking them as I am reminded to practice what I preach. (Ooh...such a bad cliche! This blog is full of them.) 

Here's a happy fact about editing. It's hard work, but I'm glad to be doing it. I feel like myself, and I feel accomplished. If you wrote the book, edits are just a good way to make it the very best you can offer the world. Don't rush. Just enjoy the improvements, and know it's worth it.

Saturday, August 26, 2017


I'm tired of stuff. Things have been wonky since my father's passing, but I've found something of a coping mechanism. Or maybe the walls of my house are closing in on me and I felt compelled to do something about it.

The original plan was to move my mother to Edmonton. Cue the ultimate stress. You see, my mother collects collections. She has salt and pepper shakers, tins, pretty and interesting bottles, red kitchen paraphernalia featuring chefs, plus eagles, owls, wolves, cork sculptures, Coke-a-Cola everything, nutcrackers, and dolls. True, it's clean, orderly and she DID downsize, but the house still looks like a museum of curios. I dreaded moving her.

THEN the plan changed, and we moved my sister to her instead. She also collects collections.  I once told her. "Geez, you have WAAAAY too much stuff! Honestly, why do you have all this cutesy shit all over the place?" She gave me a rare glare and replied, "Because people keep giving me all this cutesy shit." Oops...point taken.

And moving her turned out to be chaos. All of her stuff, packed up, took up half her living room.

It got me thinking. Why do I have so much stuff? Does it bring me joy? Have I read any of my Dragonlance or Ravenloft novels in the last ten years? Suddenly, all this stuff is closing in around me.

I don't have any children, so what am I saving it all for? My house is pretty small as it is. What's going to happen when we get older, and we need to move and downsize?

Did you know? Antiques are out. Millennials are not interested in your china, your silver tea sets or your massive wooden furniture. Why, when IKEA furniture is lighter, cheaper, and easier to move? Therefore, those estimates you see on Antiques Roadshow no longer apply as much.

Millennials don't want antiques

What will happen when the things I once treasured no longer hold value? I'm purging now, starting with the Ravenloft novel collection. The Dragonlance novel collection and the Magic the Gathering cards will follow.

We had a garage sale today, and I'm sunburned and satisfied. My husband's friend came by, and gave me some decent advice. First of all, he advised me to keep my 'Cable' #1 mint condition comic book for now, because that character has a movie coming out. Then he suggested I build myself an on-line store to sell the things I mentioned above. So next week, we're going to feed him, beer him, and I'm going to pick his brain and take notes. Because you know what brings me joy? Paying my mortgage faster, and gaining some extra space in my tiny home.

Did you know? You can hire a liquidation company to take care of these things? Here's one article about it: When we get too old to take care of this little house with the big yard, that's what we'll do. Purge. Then we move into a cozy condo, with sparse furniture and a few mementos.

 So this is my coping mechanism and my comfort. At least it will be lucrative. And I already feel the urge to WRITE.

Monday, August 14, 2017

I've Been Dreaming Photo by: medilo
I can't believe it's been so long since I posted, but I've been dreaming. That means I've been writing what I've been dreaming.

Last night I was a demon. I had red eyes and long teeth. I could leap vast distances, and my jaw unhinged like a snake to swallow larger prey. Being a demon didn't seem to frighten me. It was the unrelenting darkness before me that made me wake in a cold sweat. When I slept again, I was a chambermaid in a cheesy motel and I had a pink uniform.

No, I'm not writing a lot, but I am editing. Her True Name: Volume Two is two chapters away from the completion of the second read-through. I've fixed a few things and checked the flow. It doesn't feel ready.

On the advice of a friend, I started a dream journal. It's a way to deal with my father's passing. She believes that I'll get book ideas from it. What I am getting is more strange cities and even more hotels than before. The airports and airplanes are still there, and there's a new symbol.

There's a blue car now. It's a rickety old thing, maybe a Ford or a Chevy or something European from the sixties. It putters in the sky and along mountain roads. It hits the ditch often because it's both an automatic and a standard, and I need to but both gears in 'park'. It makes me think of my father, especially since I've never dreamed of it before last month. What does it mean?

I can tell you that I'm working on a project, off and on regarding my dreams. It's a collection of blog posts, drabbles and short stories. Just things I've dreamed up in the past that don't fit my brand. I don't know if any of the dreams I've had since Dad died will be there. None so far, but that doesn't mean anything yet.

I'm just wondering where these odd thoughts are taking me. What's in store for me? Is my father trying to say something to me in my sleep? Why the shabby little blue car?  Are you as curious as I am where this is going? Guess we'll find out. Eventually.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Happy Canada Day!!

Canada is celebrating 150 years as a country, and I am soooo proud to be Canadian. Here's why:

Multiculturalism: Anywhere you go in this country you can experience a smorgasbord of culture and diversity. Ever been to Heritage Days? Go! There are pavilions of food, dance and merchandise that are irresistible. I own two saris, thanks to my friends across the street. They are Fijian, and Tara makes the BEST curried chicken livers you will ever taste. I don't even like curry, but I can't resist hers...creamy with just the right amount of spiciness. I love them as family. If you get a chance to experience a culture not your own, do it! And share yours with them.

Hockey: We all love hockey. It's not our national sport, but when playoff season comes and our teams made it....everyone is a fan. Because it's REALLY FUN to watch. Exciting. Yes, American teams always win, but most of their players are Canadians. Not kidding. Google it.

Our National sport is Lacrosse: Google that too.. It involves people catching a little ball in tiny nets on the end of sticks and the pros make it look easy. It's not.

Beer: We make pretty awesome beer. Molson Canadian, Labatt's, Kokanee and too many craft beers to mention. I like mine with Clamato juice, which is another tasty Canadian invention. Tastes like thinnned tomato juice with savory salty elements of clams. It's subtle.

Clamato juice: I could drink it straight. When I'm certain in writing modes, I like to make a 'virgin caeser'. The real caeser drink was invented in Calgary, Alberta, and predominantly made with clamato juice, vodka, Worchester sauce, a hint of lemon juice and Tabasco sauce,  and celery salt on the rim. When I first started drinking, it came with a celery stalk. Nowadays you can get it with bacon, pickled asparagus or a bean pod, or even half a grilled cheese sandwich. Anyway you drink it, it's brilliant.
And Tim Horton's! Double double.

Canadians care: We rally. We take care of our own and others. Nine -eleven saw Newfoundland opening their homes to grounded people around the world when jumbo jets were forced to land in their airports. Newfoundlanders, known for their open hearts didn't fail them. There are still stories of their generosity.

When Alberta suffered a drought, Ontario farmers drove tractors hauling hay to feed our cattle, over a THOUSAND miles to feed Alberta cattle. Does anyone know how important that was? Alberta is normally a rich province, so we send fire fighters, grain, volunteers and money where needed. We all take care of our country and the people within it..

Healthcare: Ending on a serious note, but the more I see American politics, the larger my gratitude for our system. We all pay for it, whether we need it or not. But we'll all need it eventually, for one reason or another. I've seen the bills that American people post on Facebook. I can't imagine what it must be like to endure thousands of dollars of surgery---and then try to recover with the knowledge that you have thousands of dollars of debt because of it. And for the families....Just because you don't want to die or live with excruciating pain. Awful.

My point is: It's good to be Canadian. I wouldn't live anywhere else in the world.

Friday, June 9, 2017

It's the Little Things

I was five. We're learning to write my name.
I'm beginning to remember things Dad taught me, big and small. I guess when you're trying to get yourself back, stuff will come up.

Today I watched a man filling his tires at the gas station. He kept filling his tire, looking at it, trying to feel it. Filling it a little more, filling it a little bit again. Where's your tire gauge? Why don't you know to use one?

When I got my first car, Dad bought me a tire gauge. He explained what PSI meant, and where I would find the information I needed for my specific tires. He taught me how to read the gauge, and check my treads.  Thanks for that, Daddy, It's come in handy.

Other useful things Dad taught me:

How to skate: I was five when dad whooshed up to me on his Bauers and asked, "What's wrong, Princess?" I wailed-- "Daddy, I can't skate!"  He showed me it's not like walking...more like gliding. He demonstrated how to use feet and leg muscles to push outward and propel myself forward. I remembered yelling "Daddy, I'm skating!" Important? Maybe not, but it's the first thing I remember him teaching me.

When in doubt, grow tomatoes: I learned of an acquaintance who committed suicide. Mom sent me out to hang with Dad, who was in the garden. He saw my tears and kept me distracted by teaching me everything he knew about tending to healthy tomato plants. To this day, tomatoes are my favorite thing to grow, eat and can.

How to fly: Dad loved his Cessna 177 Cardinal, maybe as much as he loved his kids. He REALLY loved to fly, and he shared that gift enthusiastically. Everything I know about aviation, I learned from him. He made sure we knew how to control AND  land the plane just in case something happened to him in the air. So in case of emergency, I have the confidence to get a single engine aircraft safely to the ground.

He shared interesting books: 1. The Wealthy Barber-Dad felt I should learn things about investing that have stuck with me to this day. 2. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet-Dad was very much affected by the novel, walking around sad and hungry even days after he finished it. It taught me empathy and when I think about my own writing--I remember the depressing details that made Pillars such a work of art. 3. Holographic Universe-It's a valuable read about the mechanics of reincarnation. I didn't consider myself bright enough to understand metaphysics, yet I absorbed all of it.

The lawnmower: When I bought my house, he bought us a lawnmower as a housewarming gift. He wouldn't allow me to choose the cheapest one. He also taught me how to check the oil and the absolute importance of it. I always think of him every time I mow the lawn. We still have that mower and it's been 13 years.

Honesty: My father was a contractor--an instrument mechanic in the oilfield. He remained so for twenty-two years, and retired on his own terms. He was successful because he was a good worker and an honest business man. He was trusted. We've taken that lesson to heart, and that is why we are rarely unemployed for long.

Take Risks: Dad was fearless. He drove from Manitoba to Alberta to look for work and went from there. My father took electronics  at NAIT but jumped at the chance to become a pioneer in the field of instrumentation. Then he challenged the exam for his ticket. My father took a job in a new town and moved his family there before we'd found a house to rent. My father used my college fund to start his contracting business. It all worked.

This is my first stepping stone to becoming myself again. If you have memories of things you've learned from your parents and taken comfort in, it would be my pleasure to know of them.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Black Joke

Dad and me. April 1977
I wasn't sure I should write this blog. Too personal, too much self-pity maybe. But this is how I purge my heart. I'm a writer, and this is what I do. Bear with me. If grief and loss are something you don't wish to read about, stop now. I'm trying to sort through stuff.

On April 2nd, 2017, my father passed from heart failure. He was only seventy years old. I know seventy is not young, but it's too young to die. Especially for my father. The word 'spry' doesn't begin to describe him. Spry describes seniors who still have the get-up-and-go. He was never old in the first place.

Four months ago, my father had a heart attack, and the family was blindsided. My father quit smoking forty years ago. He rarely had more than two beers at a sitting. He only ever had a weight problem at Christmas, when everyone would gift him with pistachios. He ate those like a squirrel preparing to hibernate. He had all his blonde hair, and always looked ten years younger than his actual age. How the hell did this happen? We don't know, but he never recovered.

I can't begin to tell you how angry I am. Why?! Why him? Why does my mother have to live without him after 46+ years? Why did my 94 year old grandmother have to live to see the death of her third child? Why was he the first one to die? Why did he have to suffer so much in the last four months of his life after 70 years of fantastic health? Why wasn't I there for him? Why didn't it rain for his memorial like it does for good people? Why was it sunny and cold? Dad couldn't get warm anymore, so why did it have to be sunny AND cold? Stupid Alberta weather. WHY?

Speaking of anger, you know what's an insensitive thing to say to a grieving co-worker? "Smile!"and "Cheer up!" I seem to have misplaced my sense of humor.

Why him? I'm the one who is overweight, drinks and smokes. Why him and not me? I see old people walking the mall, and I wonder why they continue to live when he didn't. I shouldn't be so selfish. I can name at least five people from my home town of Fox Creek who could ask themselves the same thing after they lost a parent before me. Why them? Maybe the Black Joke is an odd chuckle when it isn't you.

Grief is HEAVY. I can barely move. I think my sister and I wanted to be brave. Jody got the phone call at work, and finished her shift. I got the phone call on my days off--Sunday, and went to work on Tuesday, without any time off. We're proud of our work ethic. Now I'm scared it's going to kill us. I can't speak for my sister, but I didn't take any time off for that first week. I had reasons that I'm still trying to justify.

I wanted to honor is memory by being strong. Neither of us ever called in sick, and we felt a sense of duty and loyalty to our jobs. Jody and I learned our work ethic from our parents, and we felt the need to keep it. And I'm speaking for myself when I say I worked because I feel a sense of guilt.

I had a disturbing dream after learning of my father's death. I dreamed that I was at an airshow, with all manner of aircraft flying through the air. I noticed these hot air balloons, they were black, dark blue, and dark red striped. They had jesters on them, and were piloted by men in jester costumes. Thick black smoke streamed from beneath them.

It was time for my plane to leave. I watched out the window, nervous about bypassing these strange balloons, and how did they get away with belching pollution like that? We passed them and I noticed with increasing agitation that we had entered the stratosphere. I could see the shape of the earth. It was then that I noticed I wasn't buckled in.
He got that plaque for the most miles flown to that event in Rimbey.

I used to say that God had a strange sense of humor because the biggest mystery was what happened after death. And you had to die to find the answers. Now I know death is the Black Joke, and it's not funny.

I went to my mother's house. She gave me a whole stack of unused socks to give to my husband. Turns out Daddy was unable to wear them. Something about them not being warm enough, and he wasn't able to pull them up by himself. Actually, he was in such bad shape, mom had to pull them up, despite the fact that she needs a walker everywhere she goes.

So I took the socks from the bed where my mother placed them, to the spare bedroom where my father slept the last four months of his life. They couldn't even sleep together because Daddy had to sprawl because he couldn't breathe. I'm holding an armload of unused socks, and my duffle bag is right next to the spot on the floor where my mother found my father's body.

I wonder.. Did he cry out for help? Was he able to? Or did he choke on the fluids building in his lungs? Was he cold? Was he scared? His left hand was still on the bed. Did he know what was happening to him? Was he trying to get up? Next thing I know, I am sobbing and trembling into an armload of socks.My Poor, Sweet, Daddy.

What have I learned from this? Never ask the universe for a little more time off from work. In fact, don't ask the universe for anything. It will make stuff happen in ways you don't want. Keep your family close. You'll never know when you'll need them, or worse--when you'll lose them. Let love be your motivation. That's what I've learned.
One of Dad's last photos. They used it for his obituary.

Right now, I'm trying to rest. No edits, no research, no new writing. I don't really have much of a choice, since dad's death has sucked my energy away. But death is a natural conclusion to life, and we will all lose someone we love at some time. This is my time to mourn, and when I'm done, I will honor my father by chasing my dreams. It's just going to take some time for the cracks in my shell to heal.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Worry Dolls and Sleepy Inspirations

Or...How to Use Worry Dolls to Keep Those Late Night Ideas Until Morning.

This last Christmas my husband bought me a set of six Worry Dolls. He got them from a store here in Edmonton called Ascendant Books. (I LOVE that store.) It's a place where you can get your tarot cards or your palm read. You can buy crystals, sage, yoga tapes, incense, fairy houses and paraphernalia, and of course BOOKS. Books on anything and everything metaphysical. The store has a fantastic vibe, kinda magical.

That's where he bought the Worry Dolls. Use these little treasures at bedtime. You tell a worry doll what's keeping you up at night. Tell one doll about how you're stressed about bills. Tell another you're worried about your friend who's having surgery. Tell another that the job interview tomorrow has you nervous--anything that might keep you awake.

The idea is that THEY do the worrying FOR you. I find it helps. When the things that bother me sneak into my brain, I remind myself that the dolls are keeping my problems. They aren't mine for the night. It's physiological, and you have to let it work.

Here's how I use them for writing ideas:

Every writer has experienced that flood of inspiration that happens just as we're dropping off. You're half asleep, and a really cool thought hits you--something that might make a great story idea. How badly do you need sleep? Do you get up, turn the light on and write it down? Or do you drift off and hope it's still there in the morning?

Most writers choose the former, and they keep pen and paper on the nightstand for just such an occurrence. That means waking your spouse to turn the light on, or maybe you get out of bed and leave the room. You force your eyes to adjust, writing blearily and hoping the resulting plot bunny doesn't hop all over your brain for a few hours more. You hope you'll sleep.

This happened to me two weeks ago. I don't remember what triggered it, but a concept shouted at me. I also had to work early. I grabbed a worry doll from my nightstand without turning on the lamp. I whispered my idea to her. I even gave her keywords. Medieval England. Papal Indulgences. Her True Name:Volume unknown. Then I tucked her under my pillow, and went to sleep.

The next day, I readied myself for work. The day was uneventful. I came home, and changed into my pajamas, remembering I had worry dolls under my pillow. When I saw the third one, I remembered my thought, and ran to my journal to get it down. It stuck!

Guess what? I have a book idea. I think it might even be my next novel. I'm not saying it will work as a novel. And I'm not saying this method will work for everyone. I'm saying give it a shot.

t doesn't even have to be a doll. It can be anything, can't it? If you whisper your idea to your spare bookmark or a hair brush and find it under your pillow the next day, you'll probably find the trigger again anyway. Mostly because you'll wonder why you put it there, right? (Hey you remember that thing I told you about historical corruption and how a certain god-figure did the thing I want to write about?) Try it. See what happens. Best of luck!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fighting the Block by Being Kinder to Myself

"A clean desk is a sign of a sick mind."
I'm not washing my walls this spring. That's right, I said I'm NOT. Sure I'll still clean my fridge and stove, wash all the linens and dust the hell out of everything, but I'm not washing the walls. I'm taking a load off my plate, since I'm the one who put it there to begin with.

I'm feeling tired. I'm currently editing two books and working full time. It bothers me to admit that it's causing mild Writer's Block.

I hesitate to call it true Writer's Block. What it actually is, is the lack of time or energy to do research and find a useable plot for ancient East Indian humans. When I come home from work, I worry about all the other things I have to get done and stress out because I don't have the energy to do them.

This is how we fight this kind of Writer's Block.

1. We Relax-- Nothing strengthens a bout of Writer's Block like tension. Think Chinese finger trap. The more you worry about it, the tighter the trap.

2. We trust ourselves and our imaginations--This isn't just for writers. You can't force ideas, but ideas flow when you just let your mind be free to wander outside your day to day life. Inspiration can be found anywhere, and it will find you again when the time is right. No need to push.

3. If there's too much crowding the mind, remove a few things--Like the self-imposed obligations of a sparkling clean house and a massive garden I can't actually take care of. I'm a writer. I have no social life. No one comes to my house anyway! Who am I trying to impress?

4. Cut yourself some slack--I just finished two novels, and I'm in the process of editing and improving upon them. That's plenty right there. Maybe now isn't the time to start something new. Maybe right now, it's time to...

5. Find inspiration anywhere and everywhere-- You know what happens when you have your husband's longtime-friend-he-hasn't-seen-in-ages over for dinner? And he's a history freak? You learn things you can use to make the novel you're editing right now into something more interesting, with more depth.

Don't worry, I'm not worried. Just writing this blog proves to me I still have creativity flowing--just not in the direction of something new. It'll come. And when it does, there will be new books to write:) You don't need to wish me luck this time. I won't need it.

Author's Note: I actually wrote this blog three days ago. I practiced what I preach, and today I found a brand new book idea. Now I have to get off social media to write up an outline.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Congratulations to my winners!

Cover by Terra Weston
It's March first, 2017 and it's time to announce my contest winners. I would like to that everyone for participating, mostly on Facebook and Twitter. A few of you also used Pinterest and their own blogs, and I loved that. Thank you <3

First place winner of signed copies of Chasing Monsters and Her True Name Volume One and an Aphrodite's War notebook: Jody Haynes!!

Second place winner of signed copies of Chasing Monsters and Her True Name Volume One: Meghan McKenzie!!

Third place winner of a signed copy of Chasing Monsters: Michelle Ashley Gordon!!

Thankfully all three of you are easy to contact through Facebook. Thanks for all the shares, ladies <3 Again, thanks to everyone who entered. It did my heart good to see the response. I hope my winners enjoy the novels.
Cover by: Anima Black

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New Contest for Black Valentines

I promised a contest, and here it is. This is for everyone, but especially those of you who would rather have a second Halloween than Valentine's Day.

Chasing Monsters is a love story, sure. But I don't know about you, but I like a little more than that in the books I read and write. I certainly don't object to some violence and creepiness. If that's you too, than maybe you want to participate in this contest. *This is a private contest done by the author, and is in no way endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other social media site.*

Here are the rules:

1. Entrants must post or share links involving Chasing Monsters or anything else to do with Donna Milward, Author. Don't forget to tag me so I can see you. Here's a couple of ideas:Donna Milward's Author page on Amazon  Donna Milward Facebook page

2. Do it often. Every post counts as an entry. The most posts wins. First, second, and third prize will be determined by who has the most entries. In the event of a tie, BOTH parties will be awarded the same prize.

1st Prize: Chasing Monsters Paperback, Her True Name Paperback, Aphrodite's War notebook, and Chasing Monsters bookmarks. Signed as requested by prize winner.

2nd Prize: Chasing Monsters Paperback, Her True Name Paperback and Chasing Monsters bookmarks. Signed as requested by prize winner.

3rd Prize: Chasing Monsters Paperback and Chasing Monsters bookmarks. Signed as requested by prizewinner.

This contest runs until February 28th, 2017, and winners will be announced March 1st, 2017. At this time, I will contact the winners for addresses.

IF the winner is outside North America, the novels will be given in a Kindle version. Other prizes will be sent by regular mail.

My goal here is to expose Chasing Monsters to as many people as possible, and although I intend to expand my marketing, I'm counting on you to start me off.  Thanks in advance, and I wish us all luck!

And why do you want this book? Here's an excerpt:

     Noelles shriek lodged in her throat like a half-chewed chunk of chicken. Hiding in a pile were a pair of glowing crimson eyes.
     Rodent’s eyes shone like that in certain lights, right? But these appeared much too large, and they seemed to radiate, like embers, not reflect.
     Dried grass tumbled as the creature rose to tower above her. Bat-like wings created Halloween shadows on the walls until they filled the tiny room. Teeth the length of her fingers lined an impossibly long mouth. It was leathery and black, and had short horns on its head and shoulders. Those scarlet eyes were larger than the palms of her hands.
     She took a step backward, and a talon shot forward to grasp her arm. Her phone spilled from her fingers to the ground. Noelle barely registered the clatter as it smashed on the cement below.
     The beast pulled her close. She squirmed from its searing touch until her sleeve ripped. The heat from its breath flushed her face. A bead of sweat trickled from her temple. It pressed a gnarled hand to its chest. Nequam.
     “Get away from me!Noelle attempted to run. The thing reached out, grabbed her again. She emptied her lungs in a scream of panic.

     “Auxilium me,” the monster said. “Auxilium me, amicus.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2017


Front AND back cover by: Terra Weston

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche

It's official. CHASING MONSTERS has been released!! To be honest, I'm more relieved than excited. It doesn't even feel real. Such a long and exhausting brain birth. I couldn't give up though. WOULDN'T give up. Not only do I love this novel, but I made a promise to publish it, and dedicate it to Gary Larsen. 

If you follow this blog, you'll recognize the name. He was the paranormal investigator who asked if he could be in my book, but passed away before I finished it. I miss him. Everyone who knew him does, especially his friends at Edmonton Paranormal. I hope his spirit is proud, and he likes the character of 'Joey'. 

I'm pleased to tell you CHASING MONSTERS is available in both Kindle and paperback from Amazon, and is also part of the Kindle Unlimited program. Currently, the paperback is unavailable in Canada, but give it time. Createspace tells me it can take up to 30 days to go up, but that it can be purchased here: To order a paperback copy of CHASING MONSTERS.  In the meantime, Kindle versions are available exclusively at Amazon. The above link is the US link, here's the Canadian link: Donna Milward at

And here is the back blurb:

Noelle is keeping too many secrets. But what happens when this paranormal investigator befriends a demon? Meeting Nequam  complicates everything  Now people are dying.
When she reaches out to Sam Castellano, she’s met with skepticism. He thinks she’s delusional, or lying, but he’s determined to find out which.

Danger is closer than either of them know. There’s more than one predator watching.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be running a contest. The prizes will be copies of CHASING MONSTERS and bookmarks, so watch this space for more info.

Thanks to all of you for being more patient than me. I hope you love it! 

Cover by: Terra Weston

Thursday, January 26, 2017

COVER REVEAL:Chasing Monsters

Cover art by Terra Weston
Ever closer! I can't tell you how excited I am to show you the cover for my upcoming novel CHASING MONSTERS! My God, this feels like it's taken forever.

Here's where we're at...Edits and formats done and downloaded. Front cover--downloaded. Bookmarks? I'm going to see if I can get my bestie to help me with that. Melaida's the one I turn to when I can't computer.

I'm hoping to have a contest later in February. I'm hoping to have paperbacks to give away. HOPING. Because we know there will be a GLITCH somewhere.

In fact, they're already here! This cover is the first glitch. Terra Weston did a front AND back cover for this novel. The problem? It's too big. Createspace doesn't accept anything over 40 MB, whatever that means. I don't speak tech. I haven't given up. I really want everyone to see what the back looks like. She did a phenomenal job, yes?

Bookmarks might be fun...Like I said, I'm going to buy Mel dinner if she helps me again, but wouldn't you know it? My printer leaves black guck on everything. This might be a job for Vistaprint. We will see.

In the meantime, feast your eyeballs on this deliciously wicked work of art, and know that someday very soon, there will be a book behind it.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

SO Proud Tonight

Borrowed from:Isobel Carr. Photographer Unknown
Normally I try to keep politics and writing separate. Yes, I'm perfectly aware that my true feelings have a tendency to leak into my work. But if you've ever read any of my stuff, I'm sure you've guessed that I am a feminist.

I've actually been a feminist since I was a teen. Truth be told, I distanced myself for a lot of years when I found the feminist movement seemed less about women's rights than it seemed to be about being MORE equal. I happen to like men. I have male friends I adore, and like to coffee with.Guess what? My husband ALLOWS that! He allows me a lot. Part of the reasons why I married him. Anyway, I wasn't willing to view them as my enemy to get my point across. I saw a movement that no longer reflected my views. I viewed old school feminism as an aggressive, bad joke unto itself.

But the new feminist movement recognizes EVERYONE as equals, and I'm proud to support it. Men, women, gay, trans, children---we all deserve equality. I speak of it on my personal Facebook page. I feared I was one in a handful of people who cared.

Ever feel happy to be wrong? Today millions of people--men and women marched. I have the privilege to know a few of them on Facebook. Mj Weber marched with a sign. Michael Charton provided security on the outer edges. No violence, thank you. <3

Where was I? I was at work. It's a Saturday, a restaurant/pub's busiest day of the week. I worked on a team of four men, and three women, and we all have important parts to play. I lift things, chop things, mix and prep things. I'm also the 'runner', as in I run to get things for the cooks in order for them to make the food orders. It's a team effort, and I really like my co-workers. I don't make excuses to not do things because 'I'm a girl', and my male co-workers don't disrespect me. We all respect each other, and I love that.

I work because I am in a partnership with the man I love, and when he got laid off I stepped up and got a job. Now we're both working, and we're surviving decently. I still have to keep the job--which works against my writing, but I'm okay with that. Because it's my mortgage too. Because they're my bills too. And why should that be all his responsibility anyway? Who decided that the MAN had to do all that?

Gone are the fifties. Gone are the days of the single income home. The ideal of the perfectly coiffed housewife and the immaculate home and children are gone. Thank God. While there are still women who would like to have families and be homemakers, there are some who would prefer to work and avoid motherhood. We should have the right to CHOOSE.

Today, when I came home from work, I saw my facebook page filled with hope. I am NOT alone. There are thousands upon thousands of us--men and women working together to fight for what I believe are basic human rights. It brought me to happy tears.

I may be an armadillo, but know this...I am a feminist and I've never been prouder!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A-Musing Henry Rollins

Photo by: Nic Walker
God, I love Henry Rollins. Smart, handsome, funny and interesting--everything museworthy. He's a radio announcer, vocalist, columnist, writer, punk icon and much more. Oh, and he's also Brave. He's touring Canada in January. It was -17 Celsius in Edmonton last night. Note the capital 'B'.

My husband and I got to see him last night, doing one of his spoken word shows. In fact, when I told my husband Henry Rollins was coming to Edmonton his response was "Oh yeah, let's go!"  You see we saw him a few years back, and I have never heard my husband laugh so much and so hard. And I've been with that troll for twenty years.

How does anyone talk about themselves for two hours, all the celebrities they've met, all the places they've visited and all the things they've accomplished without being boring and pompous? That's a rare gift.

There's a lot about the Black Flag frontman that astonishes me. How does he travel the entire world and keep up with a regular column? I can't figure out what to blog about. Where did he find the time to write books while touring? I can barely pump out a book a year. How does he keep up with and answer all his emails? Sometimes I can barely look at mine, never mind respond timely. How does he keep up with world politics? How does he know about which country voted for who? I've been getting my news from social media. (I know. I'm sorry.) and can barely stand to look at what Canada and the US are doing. And HOW does this guy make time for friends and fans who ask advice and opinions from him on a weekly basis? How does he seem to have the right answers? How does he tell the sad stories of the broken people he meets and turn those tales into pure inspiration? How does he make us laugh? How does he sound geeky and humble while talking about meeting Iggy Pop, David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister? Must be a muse thing. Do you understand why he is MY muse?

Henry Rollins, if you ever see this blog, I want you to know I am grateful for you. I'm grateful for your books and your lyrics. I'm grateful for your sense of humor (Thanks for making my husband laugh so hard. That's a rarity in itself.) I'm grateful for your sweet neurosis and that you choose to share it for the sake of entertainment and inspiration. YOU are truly MUSEWORTHY and you bring me happiness and ideas. You also gave me a much needed kick in the pants. If you can do all these things and still write, I can hold down a job and write novels.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to begin the edits I'm afraid of. I also need to research Eastern mythology for my next novella.