Bucket List, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Piece of Cake, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel

My Perfect Day

Okay, so I am a week behind on this, but I like this particular writing prompt and wanted to still take my shot at sharing my dream for a perfect day.

“Our theme this week is to write a day in your life where there would be no boundaries and you could do anything you want.”

http://originalbunkerpunks.com/blog-battle-zone-1/

I have been published on this witty, satirical, thought-provoking website, full of writers who want to get the conversation going and who do that very well.

Check me out here.

Then, earlier today

I ended up reading a piece on this site

and I went on to expressing my feelings, which meant criticizing the authors involved in the writing.

They were only being humorous, provocative; yet, due to the news of a two-year-old girl and her father being murdered in Alberta (which could be the inspiration for a more on time response I could write for this week’s prompt), this heartbroken Canadian wasn’t able to see any humour whatsoever.

It made me think about writing and its possible consequences because I was able to have a productive discussion with these writers, after-the-fact, and I wanted them to know why I may have sounded at all harsh. That is not how I usually am. Just a bad day.

Thank you,

Original Bunker Punks,

and now…onto my perfect day.

***

Something seems odd about this day. What could it be?

Oh yeah, I am pulling into my driveway. Yes, me.

For years it was me, in the passenger seat, the passenger. Shotgun was where I was designated to be.

Now I am driving. All those self driving cars in the works, for so long, well they are out and they are becoming the norm. Sure, it could lead to some sort of science fiction nightmare, cars becoming intelligent and driving their riders into trees and over bridges, but I overlook this fear because things are perfect now, right here, as I don’t have to have sight to operate a motor vehicle.

I enter my house and notice a suitcase sitting out, ready for packing to commence. We are soon off on another trip.

We met at TBEX, a travel expo I finally made it to a few years back. It was in Honolulu, my dream spot. I’d always wanted to visit there and this travel writing/blogging conference was the perfect chance. Two birds with one stone as they say.

I didn’t expect to meet him, but, I must admit, I hoped it would happen, sooner or later. I am comfortable with some independent travel now, after a lot of practice, but it’s still nice to have someone there to experience the world with.

He is a photographer and knows about technology and websites.

I may be able to drive a car, but I haven’t wished hard enough for perfect sight, at least I guess not. Huh.

If I had that, I wouldn’t be The Insightful Wanderer, as the whole position of my travel blog would be altered. I am insightful, just as I am, but I will never stop wandering. It does not have to be a bad, lost, aimless way to go through life.

I struggled to learn about my blog and website, for a few years, but am glad I can leave that responsibility to him.

I am still The Insightful Wanderer and Her Headache. I am KerryKay.com too. Bought that domain ages ago, as my writing needed my real name to be known and featured more prominently.

Branding is a strange thing, but I have embraced it and now am known as three brands in one.

I haven’t given up on my writing, memoir and literary mostly, because fiction is a beautiful thing, but not where my natural talents are.

I walk past one of the many bookshelves in my house, and there are some of my books there, a few are fiction. I had modest success with that, beginning with the anthology I was accepted into, my first real big break really.

I have written three books and am currently working on a fourth, two memoir and two fiction: Piece of Cake, Connecting the Dots, Till Death, and Out Beyond the Hedgerows.

The first two are memoirs about my life, struggles, with disability, being a visually impaired woman in a mostly sighted world.

The third is a fictional story about how death and loss affect three different generations of one family.

And the fourth is an historical novel, based on family who lived through World War II.

I did not start to write a string of genre books, ones that get put on Amazon and Smash Words and of which I would have needed to keep on putting out to gain any momentum in the book world. I found my own path to success.

I have books everywhere, which brings me peace and solace when I’ve had a bad day.

It’s so nice to have found a partner who loves travel and we are a team. He takes care of the site and its visual elements, while I write. Writing has its place, but the world is and always will be a visual one.

I think a world of all blind humans is worse than the one where the cars take over, but I can’t say. Science fiction writing is not my area of expertise.

I have checked off many of the items on my bucket list, which brings me great pleasure, but it’s nice to know I will soon have a husband who is committed, not only to me, but to helping me achieve the rest. Life is precious and it goes by like that! We are making the most of every day.

I have broken the record for longest living kidney transplant recipient and the medications have made it possible that this won’t change anytime soon. When I reached my twenty year mark (June 5, 2017) I had a huge party to celebrate and everybody I know came.

In this fantasy, we have not cured cancer yet, but we are actually getting close this time, no fooling.

We’re still trying to decide what kind of a wedding to have and where to have it. Being the travellers we are, a destination wedding is most appealing, but I don’t want to put that pressure on the people I hope will attend.

I want to have it at the hotel in Niagara Falls, the one from my childhood and its precious memories, moving to the closest hotel to the falls for the wedding night. I will finally feel that vibration of the roaring falls through the window of our room.

Maybe we’ll get married on a beach or on top of the CN Tower in Toronto. I loved it up there, the first time I tried it, and a wedding on that ledge sounds strangely perfect to me. After all, isn’t marriage a little like standing on a ledge?

It’s scary but exhilarating. It’s freeing, once you find love and let yourself feel worthy of having and holding onto it.

I can admit, finally after years, that wanting marriage, a wedding, this does not make me weak. I am not some Disney fairy princess, waiting to be rescued. I want a partnership and that commitment is and always has been important to me. I’ve been shown what that can be like, through the examples of my wonderful parents and their parents before them. It’s in my bones, just like writing and travel.

I can make a living from my writing now. I was afraid that was holding me back from finding a guy who could understand, accept me for me, and not let money and pride and the pressures of that get in the way. I am not rich, but I am rich in all that I really will ever need.

I have seen my words in print, in a book, on my shelf and in a bookstore.

I have an advice column which helps people. I can write and offer my advice, which can be a tricky thing to give others, but I know I’ve had more experience with the hard stuff than most. Plus, this side work allows me freedom to travel. I can answer people’s questions from anywhere I might happen to be.

I hand out my business card:

The Insightful Wanderer

http://www.theinsightfulwanderer.ca/

And on the other side.

KerryKay.com

Her Headache

Blog. Writing. Travel writing is my first love because the world is everything. It’s all around us. We are it.

I had to build up my writing portfolio. I had to practice my craft, art as pure as anything.

Now, I can admit that making a reasonable living off of that is no crime. People are paid for all kinds of things, some that might seem less deserving, but that’s how the world works. It’s all about money, for so many, but it doesn’t have to be.

We discuss having children, after we decide on a wedding spot, but the jury is still out on that. I can accept that, even as I know the rules of this writing challenge aren’t at all limiting, because sometimes life means accepting some realities and hard truths.

It’s still open for discussion. Age doesn’t have to matter because I want to freeze this day, in time, so my parents are here and the children currently in my life stay the sweet age they are.

We will deal with the future tomorrow, but let this day and the moment linger.

Anyway, we are off, to make our flight. I will finally get my chance to swim with jellyfish, in their lake home, on the island of Palau in the south pacific.

***

Why do we feel so guilty, why do I, just for speaking up and admitting what it is we want for ourselves?

Why do I feel so selfish and awful to be so open with the things I dream about having, the life I would ideally wish for myself?

Do you ever feel that way?

If you could have an ideal day in your own life, what might that include?

I know I am worth it, I am worth everything, and I want to say so. I know what some people say, about the universe and just by saying it, you are actually letting into your life the things you believe you deserve. This is what I am doing here, today, because I am tired of holding myself back.

Yes, believe it or not, this blog has been me holding myself back, up until this point.

🙂

I have been blogging for a year and a half now and I continue to be myself, to let my self shine through here. That is what is at the essence of Her Headache.

Check these guys out on Facebook.

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Bucket List, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, TravelWriting, TToT

TToT: Laborious, Notorious, Glorious – Go THANK Yourself! #10Thankful

“No man ever was glorious, who was not laborious.”
–Benjamin Franklin

10 THINGS OF THANKFUL

Someone asked me how my Labor Day was going and I wanted to answer with a little something different:

“laborious,” I replied.

🙂

A lot went on this week, both in my life and in my mind. School’s back in session, for my niece and my brother, and for me, in a way too.

September 11th was also remembered this week. I can’t believe it’s been fourteen years since 9/11 happened.

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”
–Winston Churchill

It is thought that twenty-six Canadians lost their lives that day.

On the eve of 9/11, a rainbow appears in the sky over One World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Ten Things of Thankful:

For my latest travel writing piece to be published on the travel blog of someone I really admire.

Can you travel blind, crossing Ireland’s Carrick-a-rede- rope bridge?

Thank you, Megan, for giving me a second spot on your travel blog.

It has gotten dozens of RT’s on Twitter in the last week.

First it was our interview.

Can blind people travel?

Of course we can!

And now my guest post where I explain what taking a risk, is like, for me.

Night Swimming

It’s a little like swimming at night. I’ve long wanted to do this and I thought of it, again, on Labor Day.

It’s a bit of a frightening thing, the thought of being out there, at night. I guess it’s the way I live most of my life, stepping out, in the darkness of the unknown, but taking the plunge anyway.

For the chance to spend, what was said to be the hottest day of the year, in the water and so I didn’t even notice the heat they spoke of.

We decided to spend our Labor Day at the lake. We are lucky to live so close to all those fresh water sources.

For my flexibility.

In life, sure, I’m improving. However, I mean that literally because I have been told, by doctors on more than one occasion, that I am incredibly flexible. My muscular skeletal system can bend in strange directions.

So, when I decided to jump in the sand, right along with my nephew, I just so happened to land on a log that was sticking out at my feet.

Luckily my ankles are one of those highly flexible parts of my body and although I went down, landing hard in the sand, my ankle did turn over but did not sprain badly. I felt it go over sideways, but I have stretched out those muscles so much over the years, leaving little to no pain as a result.

The opportunity to chase seagulls with my nephew wasn’t to be missed. Just thankful I walked away from that and did not have to crawl back to the car on hands and knees.

🙂

For literacy and education.

International Literacy Day, 2015

I would be lost otherwise.

For the education we’re lucky enough to have in Canada, as my niece begins kindergarten this week.

She is smart and sharp and bright. She learns so much and loves to share it. She surprises us all with the things she’s learning everyday. and I know she will do amazing things as she grows.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=207&v=CQ2noSR1qdY

It’s a good thing John Oliver is not her teacher.

For the premier of the newest in late night television.

Late Show Recap

Stephen Colbert makes me smile and I look forward to his jokes and his unique style of interviews.

One of his first guests, on his very first week, was George Clooney. They discussed and even showed a clip of George’s new film: Decision Strike!

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Well, don’t go looking for it in theatres in the coming weeks or months, as it is only a fictional movie, as he did not actually have anything real to promote. Sounds impressive anyway.

With all the talk of the heating up of the late night show wars, now that Colbert has thrown his own hat into the ring, Stephen made light of this when he mentioned all the thoughtful first-week gifts the other late night comedians have been sending him. He joked that they could all be expecting the best thank you card ever, with the words: GO THANK YOURSELF, written in them.

TAKE THAT! … Jimmy, Jimmy, Conan, John, and the rest.

🙂

For whatever it was that got me a replacement battery for my iPhone 5 and finally, after talking about doing it for months.

I put it off for too long. Not sure why. I can actually go a whole day and my phone does not die, a beautiful thing. This will be necessary for my trip to Toronto later this month.

I went in one of those crazy Apple stores, so hip and which make me feel very uncool. They have the genius bar. Well, I was informed of some loophole which made it so I did not have to pay the $100 for a new battery. Okay by me.

🙂

It just so happened to be September 9th and the big reveal day for Apple. I did not upgrade to the newly revealed iPhone 6S. My iPhone 5 works just fine, but it’s amazing just how revolutionary the iPhone has been for so many, but for anyone who is visually impaired especially.

For the people, in my life, who have gone through the loss of a loved one to suicide. They teach me things, all the time, about survival and resilience.

World Suicide Prevention Day, 2015

Sometimes prevention isn’t possible, upon looking back, no matter what anyone could have done. That doesn’t mean we stop trying.

I know life is forever altered for them. It isn’t easy and life will never feel happy, truly happy again. I just hope they know someone is thinking about them, always.

Everybody Hurts

The day was such a beautiful one this year, the weather anyway.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
–Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

For a dream come true – a dream of clarity, reason, and shape.

😉

First I was accepted into an anthology, with my short story: One Last Kiss.

Then it came out, on Amazon, but first only as an ebook.

It wasn’t until this week, finally, that I actually got to hold a print copy of the book in my own hands. I could feel the weight of it, turn the pages, and smell that signature bookish smell, all knowing my words could be found within. It is an indescribable feeling, a dream come true for me, and I will never forget what that felt like.

kerrsbook-closeup-2015-09-12-11-45.jpg

For a friend, somebody there on the day the book arrived in the mail. Someone to celebrate with.

We got Dairy Queen confetti cake blizzards to celebrate. Her five-month-old daughter sat, in her carrier, staring at me and I wanted to share, but unfortunately she isn’t eating ice cream, not just yet. I loved celebrating with her too, all the same.

🙂

Thanks, Mom, for bringing the book over.

For the best, most loving parents my nephew could ever have. And it all began on that warm day in September, back in 2009 – Happy Anniversary guys!

I will never forget that summer, that day, as long as I live. It was the day my sister had worked so hard for and looked so forward to. I got to be in the wedding party and was happy she allowed me to give a speech at the reception.

Storybook Love

My sister’s favourite movie is The Princess Bride and she wanted my uncle to sing the theme song from the film, at the wedding. It made it special, unique, and all hers. She wanted to get married in our back yard, of the home we grew up in. It was a wedding at home and meant so much to all of us.

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

For rainbows, literacy, firsts, celebrations, dreams, and anniversaries.

I am thankful I’ve gotten to share my words, more and more, in recent days and weeks. I guess, for me, the need to share my words with the world goes back to all that stuff I said about night swimming.

It’s scary, certainly, but the idea of being swept up and away, washed out there and with no sign or footprint to show that I was ever here, that is what I am most afraid of.

Sure, the chance for rejection is ever present in the present, but not nearly as great as that there could be no proof that I ever existed in the first place.

“I don’t know how long I kept at it…
I felt reasonably safe, stretched out on the floor, and lay quite still.
It didn’t seem to be summer anymore.”
–Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

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Fiction Friday, TGIF, This Day In Literature

Big News For Harper Lee Fans Everywhere

THIS DAY IN LITERATURE:

This week it was announced that the reclusive author, Harper Lee, has decided to publish again.

I wrote a piece early on with this blog:

Dusty Old Books.

In it I spoke about Harper Lee and how I found it strange that she was one of few authors, to come out with success with really just one book, years ago, and never to have published much since.

As a struggling, beginner writer, I guess I found it amazing that she was able to walk away from success.

I wondered: if I had found success in writing a hit novel, like Lee, would I be able to stop there, at that?

Of course I can understand the fear of never being able to top something as huge as

“To Kill A Mockingbird”.

I got the feeling, while researching the post I wrote last spring, she didn’t ever plan to try.

Until now, that is…

GO SET A WATCHMAN: to be released July 14th.

This news of her publisher’s plan to release “Go Set a Watchman” on Jul 14th made me happy, at first.

I am still thrilled, of course, as “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a true classic.

It’s a book lover’s fantasy, such as my own, to think there’s some hidden literary gold stashed away somewhere, by all great authors.

Nothing intrigues me more.

The literary world, and indeed social media are buzzing about this news the last few days. I don’t know what to think and I hate that feeling.

So often the publishing business is about the bottom line, about making money.

As a lover of books and of stories, I like to frame it in a more romantic way than that.

These days, with the internet, articles are everywhere and the views are divided. This wasn’t quite as easily the case when Lee published her hit novel fifty years ago.

I hate to believe the ones who claim Harper Lee is senile and unable to make her wishes known, now being taken advantage of by greedy lawyers and book publishers.

The problem is that she has been so reclusive, all these years, hiding away from media and turning down interviews, leaving the suspicion door left open…at least, in my own mind.

True, it’s only left open even a little bit of a crack and that’s all it takes.

She has lost her sister and trusted confidant. Who does she really have left, who has her best interests at heart now?

I wish, like so many others I am sure, that I could speak with the woman herself. I would ask her what she wants and if this was her choice.

Sadly, this will not happen. I can show my enthusiasm, and yet, I still hold onto that little snippet of doubt I feel.

She had a stroke and is now deaf and blind. How much so is up for interpretation of course, but she has to have people around her, even a few. When do you believe and listen to statements and press reports?

This whole thing is nagging at me. I try not to believe everything I read and I try to keep my scepticism in check.

This novel is said to have been written five years before the novel we are all so familiar with. It is going to be a sequel to TKAM and this is definitely an intriguing thought.

Scout and Atticus are two of my favourite characters in all literature. They are the father-daughter duo I love to watch brought to life in the 1962 film.

I am excited to read about how they relate to one another after the passing years since the events from Mockingbird.

I would hate to think all this craziness and the already growing pre-orders for this now highly anticipated novel on Amazon were at the detriment and at the expense of Lee, wherever and however she is, because no amount of money is worth that.

Maybe she is in full control of this and was just as thrilled as any of us that this old manuscript was discovered.

Maybe that is hopeful, romantic, and naive of me to believe that.

Next week I will write about the subject of compassion, so strongly found at the centre of “To Kill A Mockingbird” as it applies to the blogging movement I am participating in at the moment.

1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

How do you feel about “To Kill A Mockingbird”?

What are your thoughts on this week’s news? Do you choose to hold an optimistic view that Lee made the decision to release this new book?

Or do you have your doubts?

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Blogging, Memoir and Reflections, NANOWRIMO 2013, Writing

Letting Go and Continuing to Write Another Day

Last May I read a call for submissions, from an online author’s Facebook group I had recently joined. They said it was for an anthology they were thinking of putting together, for charity, and that people didn’t need to be experienced or professional writers to join in. Sounded like an excellent cause: literacy for children was the thought at the time. I could think of no better cause than that.

I was new to this, thinking this would be the perfect way to get my feet wet, so-to-speak. I felt welcomed with open arms. I thought it could be the perfect opportunity to send a short story in and I started working through some ideas in my head immediately.

As summer progressed the idea took shape in even clearer ways. The storyline grew out of some things I had recently experienced in my own life, but I was attempting to deal with those real-life issues and feelings through the magic of fiction.

I write a lot and I mostly have written memoir over time. A lot of authors say writing memoir makes them feel naked and exposed, but I find fiction does that more for me than anything I’ve ever written about myself outright.

Now that it is mid-January I am trying to stick to really the only sort-of resolution I’ve made since 2015 began a few short weeks ago. I am trying to not feel envious or jealous of what others have and to find the good in my own life, where I currently stand and to not feel angry at what I see that others may have or be doing without me. Then something happened to me last week that left me feeling angry and wounded.

I know. I know. That didn’t take very long at all, did it?
🙂
I actually did it. I have very little to show for any sort of fictional writing, but I wrote a short piece to submit to this charity anthology. Other than the half-way attempt at a novel from 2013s National Novel Writing Month and a few short stories I’ve written on my blog, I have very little to show for the years I let pass me by, but I hoped to start on the road to changing all that.

Unfortunately, things did not work out like I hoped they would. First of all, I found it difficult to communicate with the group of writers who were publishing this anthology, especially over the holidays. This is totally understandable. People are busy and days are hectic and harried.

So then when the new year came and went I had sent several emails, gotten help to make sure I’d sent my story in a format easily edited, but I hadn’t heard back that my story had been edited at all. I still assumed, having kept in some contact over the private Facebook group about this anthology, that everything would work out somehow. I guess I was being naive.

I received an online contract from one of the authors in charge and I sent it back, all filled out. I wasn’t making any money from this. I didn’t want any. I only wanted to be included in something with a group of other writers, just a way to get my work out there amongst others, for the experience of joining something alone. The contract wasn’t perfect, but it promised my story would be one amongst the others in the anthology and that I would receive one e-copy for myself.

Someone else, with much more experience than myself, they would be handling everything else. I only had to write the story and they would see that it got published with the others in the group, on the online ebook selling sites such as Amazon. I knew, from others who had recently done it, that the formatting and publishing of an ebook on Amazon is difficult and confusing. I was glad to have my story included and this first time I didn’t have the stress of trying to figure all that other stuff out.

There was to be a big online release party on the weekend and as far as I knew, I would be a part of it, but I wanted to be sure, before I went and told friends and family.

I thought I was getting a short piece of my writing published on a site last spring and I couldn’t help telling people about it; I was so excited. When that did not materialize, I felt let down and disappointed. It had been my fault though. I was the one to jump the gun and rush into speaking about it, before I had any real confirmation, but I figured I would get another chance.

Well this wouldn’t be it.

I decided I needed to confirm so I came right out and asked and was informed that my story was lost, never received, and that they were sorry to tell me I would not be included in the anthology. The timing had never been right and I felt like there was enough blame to go around, me included, but I felt the sting of rejection and mistreatment nonetheless.

This story was a short story I wrote about the roller coaster, the ups and downs, all that love can throw at you and how to move on and turn a new page. Even the title of the anthology seemed to be perfectly fitting and meant to be. That is what it was called and what it was about.

Why should I be upset? This was just some online thing with people I have never met in person. Why did it hurt so much when I heard for certain that I was not a part of it?

I was mad and hurt, in equal measure. I felt toyed with, like a lot of drama and unprofessionalism had gone on behind the scenes somewhere and through no fault of my own. I did not fully understand what had happened and I never will. I had worked hard on my story and had written it about a particularly difficult period of my life, hoping too that the publishing of this story would mean a new page, a fresh start, a blank slate and next chapter in my own life, personally and maybe even a step forward with my writing.

I felt like I had been messed with and treated carelessly. I wanted to complain and whine and vent my frustrations on Facebook, to all who would listen, even those who were celebrating their stories all being published in the anthology that weekend. I got upset all over again when I accidentally heard notifications and statuses about the anthology’s release.

I have sat with these emotions ever since and have tried telling myself I am better off. I know it wasn’t meant to be and I will have future opportunities still to come. I know the important thing is that I wrote it and nobody can take that away from me.

Then negative thoughts entered my mind. The suspicious part of my brain feared that someone somewhere still actually has my story and that they could possibly take it and publish it as their own. I know this isn’t likely. I know the authors involved are still people I have never met in person and that I didn’t really know any of them. They don’t owe me anything and I don’t either.

Even online I feel it, it can be petty. I have realized there can be and there are groups like in real life, like in high school and beyond. I suppose what I wanted was to be a part of something, to feel my writing was receiving some sort of attention and recognition from others. I had to let go of any anger, realizing that I had written something that meant a lot to me. That hadn’t changed.

I believe in taking the good and the positive from any situation and learning and growing from it. I have felt a bit lost and adrift lately and since the start of 2015 even more so.

I have found a lot of interesting blogs and bloggers, writers and authors, but online is still a mystery to me, a place where circles of people hang out. I see it all the time. I wonder how these circles form and how they keep going. I see it because I have a blog. I can’t avoid it, but it is important to remember that there is a big bad world not to be missed outside my own door. Sometimes it’s just easier to hide out where I have been, but I know I will move forward and on to experience new places and new people, perhaps even over the coming year.

So much bad stuff in the news and these latest above experiences notwithstanding…I woke this week to a truly wonderful thing going on online, mostly through social media and blogging. I wrote about it the other day. If you missed it or are a blogger who might be interested, check it out here:

https://kkherheadache.wordpress.com/2015/01/14/my-voice-amungst-the-thousands/

It’s hard for me to understand why people do what they do. A lot of it, although often called selfless or good deedish, still comes off feeling disingenuous and unauthentic. I wonder if anyone ever does anything without expecting something for themselves, deep down. Even the best people with the best intentions, it seems to me, are ultimately hoping to get something out of it.

This isn’t a bad thing; however, I have a hard time with it. Perhaps that is why, online or off, I am not making a lot of money, certainly not of my own. I can’t feel like I am selling myself. I feel dirty and uncomfortable, like I am not being true to who I am. It doesn’t seem to sit well with me.

I know writing is most often an attention-seeking endeavour. It screams, if you choose to share it, “LOOK AT ME!” and I do play a part in this dance.

I guess I just haven’t found a way to use my blog to sell something to people or to sell myself as a product. I have developed a brand for myself: the Her Headache of this blog and the Insightful Wanderer more recently still, but I can’t quite seem to fit comfortably snug in either role, not entirely anyway.

Sounds fickle, I know.

Finally, I just wanted to share the following link, an interview below with a writer and blogger I’ve followed for some time now. She is a Canadian, a mother and wife, and a writer. I have been attempting to focus in on a selection of Canadian literature and writers when I can find it. This interview is the purest explanation of what being a writer means, why it’s important, and how life feels without that outlet. I couldn’t agree more with Carrie Snyder and her thoughts:

Carrie Snyder’s Advice to an Aspiring Writer

I want things too. I want, ultimately, to be recognized for the thing I love and for which makes me whole. I want to be able to support myself through this thing.

Is that possible or a far-away pipe dream?

It isn’t easy. In the end I will need to let go of the relative security of the online world and hopefully show what I can do to real people, people I can speak in person with, who I can look directly in the face. I declare here that I will find a way to do this. I have taken steps and I will take more of them. I will not let myself grow bitter and disillusioned. I just won’t!

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Book Reviews, Spotlight Sunday, The Blind Reviewer

Book Review: Leading You Out of the Darkness Into the Light

Leading you out of the Darkness Book Cover

“Take many small steps and never stop stepping,” Max says. Truer words have never been spoken.

First there was Helen Keller, there’s Erik Weihenmayer, and now we’ve got Maxwell Ivey Jr. and his wisdom and generous spirit, total willingness to help others.

Here is: “A Blind Man’s Inspirational Guide to Success” – in his own words and through concrete steps he guides the reader toward finding their own.

He is a peer advisor for

The American Foundation for the Blind.

I met him through social media and he has happily advised me on numerous occasions and now he wants to help you.

I had never met a fellow visually impaired person who had experience running and selling carnival rides. When I first spoke with him I checked out his only website at the time:

The Midway Marketplace

Within months of knowing him he began his second website and from there he was unstoppable:

The Blind Blogger

He wrote a book. Seriously. He wrote a book. I was impressed by this, when I heard it, because this is an admirable thing to have done, and no small feat.

This book lays everything out in a neat and orderly fashion, leading the reader through with eleven clear-cut steps, such as:

Step 1: Begin by determining your end goal.

Step 2: Assess the situation

Step 3: Do what you can, one thing at a time

Step 5: Ask for help when you need it

Step 6: Staying motivated by taking small steps

Step 7: Celebrate your accomplishments

And much more. For the rest of Max’s steps, check this book out.

“Don’t delay – sign up today!”

Catchy lines like this are great, but he offers so much more within this short ebook.

Role model. Mentor. Coach.

These are just a few names Max goes by and a few ways he wants to help anyone who might be lost, needing to be pointed in the right direction.

This book is reflective, motivational, and practical.

You’re only truly in the dark when you have lost purpose. In this book, Max aims to help you find it again, all while referring to his own process of finding it himself.

Most people figure, if this blind gentleman is able to find his way, there is no real excuse or reason for me not to. This gives credit where credit is due, to the author, and makes the idea of coming out of the darkness and into the light a hugely powerful image.

He believes in the best in people. If I could choose the single biggest message from this book, it would definitely be that asking for help is encouraged and an important step for human growth and self-development, for reaching one’s goals.

It is impossible to get through life, as someone who is blind or visually impaired, without seeking help from others at one time or another. This can cause one to become extra stubborn and self-reliant, but sooner or later help is needed and necessary. This, following by example, is the most essential lesson I took away from Max in this book and I believe you will too.

He shows that it’s okay…perfectly healthy…the key to success. Nobody does it alone.

Having trust and faith in people and to be willing and open to asking for and accepting other people’s help are two things one learns from the start when visually impaired. These are important lessons anyone can learn and should adopt.

Unexpected things can come from reaching out to others. This one lone thought is highly motivational for me and the best thing I took from reading Max’s words and meeting Max to begin with. Max is proof of this and this is the most inspiring part of his story and of this book.

One foot in front of the other.

Eagle Scouts gave Max badges to track his progress. There are often no physical badges given out in life for your accomplishments, but Max’s above words are true all the same.

His experiences as an Eagle Scout, having gastric surgery, and just learning to persevere in life with a physical disability clearly taught him some valuable lessons, which he outlines here through clear and action-oriented steps. These sound easy to follow on paper, but they take work. His unique approach in this book is to continually remind the reader to stop reading and make good on the suggested exercises and then to contact him to discuss how each step of the process went. This personal connection he cultivates with each and every reader is what sets him apart from most self-help books on the market.

Yes, often, historically, self-help guide books have been overrated, but Max truly follows this well-known line, “putting your money where your mouth is”. Max does this and more. He doesn’t just “talk the talk”, but he “walks the walk” that is necessary for any real and lasting success in life.

Once you experience how good it feels to have accomplished steps toward your goal it will become a feeling you want to repeat over and over again.
I am on this journey myself right now and reading this book has confirmed all I have been telling myself and everything I have been applying to my own life in recent months.

Gratitude:

Being visually impaired teaches also that it is important, to get through life, to be able and willing to look for the good wherever possible. I may not have one first prize, but I wrote my story and had the courage to share it. I may not have gotten what I hoped for in a particular experience, but once I could get past the disappointment I could find the valuable lessons I did learn and that is enough.

I know I am not the only one to get something from this book, to apply to my own life, and I won’t be the last to find strength and encouragement from it.

Friend…coach…rock.

What does success mean to you? Max wants to know. He is genuinely interested.

HE shares his own definition of success.

Failures and accomplishments.
Negativity and positivity.
Overcoming adversity.

He invites readers to share, not only their successes, but their failures too.

He has learned to be persistent and to never give up or give in, using the example of banging on the door and if you receive no answer, to check the tool with which you are using.

Thank you Max, for writing this, and for being the example we all need.

Purchasing links:

(Ebook Format)

SELZ

(Kindle version)

Amazon

(Print copy)

Create Space

Acknowledgements:

As Max continually says in Leading You Out of the Darkness Into the Light, nobody does anything of real worth and value by themselves. Max had help from his friends at every step of the way.

He needed help with the visual aspects, specifically cover images and formatting: Jenny Rollo and Angela McCall.

His editor, Lorraine Reguly, can be found at her website:

Wording Well

Her site’s motto is “Helping writers become authors” and that is what she has graciously done for Max and what Max has done is truly remarkable.

If you feel like you are lost in uncertainty, adrift in the darkness that life sometimes brings, let Max help guide you out of that darkness and back into the light.

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Book Reviews, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Writing

Review of Interference by Michelle Berry

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Today I am pleased to welcome to the blog, author of short stories and novels, Michelle Berry. She is here to promote her latest, Interference, published this month by ECW Press, and I was honoured when she agreed to also let me interview her about her books, this one in particular, and about writing. I knew I could use this opportunity to learn something about writing from an expert in her field.

***

1. Did you always want to be an author? Did you write as a child? I grew up in a house full of literature and art. My mother is an artist, my father is a now-retired English Professor. So I always wrote. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. It was just part of me. Part of who I am. I wrote a lot as a child — journals, diaries, stories, even novels. My father and I wrote (and I also illustrated) a children’s book called, “Sailing the Deep Blue Sea” when I was about five years old. It’s quite catchy.

2. What was your first break in your writing career? I would say the first “break” was when Turnstone Press accepted my first short story collection. I was about 7 months pregnant AT the time and thought I’d given birth that second as I jumped up and down screaming. I first published in high school, though (a high school anthology called, “Unicorns Be” )— so that was my first publication. And before Turnstone Press I did publish in quite a few literary magazines (“Perhaps?”, “Blood & Aphorisms,” “The Malahat Review,” etc), so I got a lot of “first breaks.”

3. How do you handle the rejection that goes along with being a writer? I’m still trying to handle it. There is always rejection. Always. No matter how much you publish, how famous you are, how well-received you are, etc.. I’m sure Alice Munro still writes stories that need editing and aren’t immediately loved the minute they are finished. Maybe. I think. I handle rejection by getting first really sad and mournful (“No one loves me,” “I’ll never write again.”), but then I suddenly become angry (“What do they know anyway?”) and that’s what fuels the desire to keep writing, that’s what fuels the work, that’s what makes me a better writer. Writing is all about rejection and loneliness. I tell my students this, but they don’t believe me. They think it’s all chocolates and feather boas.

4. Where did the idea for this novel come from? It creeped up on me. It’s loosely based on quite a few things in my life. My daughter was the same age as Becky and Rachel (characters) when I was writing it, there is a big tree across the street from me, the school had sent home a letter saying that someone was stalking children in the neighborhood, I do play women’s house league hockey, my husband and a friend were going through cancer and treatment, etc.. But it’s one of those things where I combined all that was going on and heightened it, morphed it, faded it, played with it. I wrote around it and through it. Created a story. Used my imagination.

5. What is your daily writing routine? Lately I’ve been teaching so much (I teach online at U of T, online at Humber College and in-class at Trent University), that I don’t have much of a routine. But I usually try for an hour or so a day of good writing — or at least one or two days a week. Last year I rented an office for six months downtown and I would teach Monday to Wednesday and then do nothing but write for eight hours a day Thursday and Friday. It was wonderful.

6. Which character from Interference is most like you? Which one is least like you? Most like me: Maria (sadly, I don’t want to be like her — but she has all my faults — a bad back, kind of ornery to her husband (sorry!), clean freak, worried all the time). Least like me: Dayton (stylish, beautiful, but damaged). Although, to be truly honest, all of the women are a mesh of me — Trish’s behavior when she ducks behind the couch when there is a knock at the door (me!), Claire’s thoughts on death, on cancer. Even Ralph wandering through the snow in his slippers — he has a bit of my melancholy.

7. What is your experience with the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council? I’ve had a few grants over the years. They do a wonderful service. I’ve been on juries for them. Love them both.

8. I have seen a lot of debate on what makes someone an author and when to call them a writer. Do you see a difference in the two and when would you say it’s appropriate to use either one? Yes, I’ve been hearing a bit about that lately too. I’m not sure what I think. I always thought of myself as both author and writer and used the terms interchangeably. But I think “author” is becoming a hoity-toity thing to be these days (not sure I agree with that). I don’t know. I’m both, I guess. I am the author of books that I have written and the writer of books that I have authored. How’s that?

9. How would you define literary fiction as a genre? Good question. My students never seem to understand what literary fiction is — to me it’s fiction that leaves more to your imagination than any other genre writing does. So things aren’t explained and told and shown with such detail. It is subtle and intelligent and often has underlying meaning all through. But it can also be fun and wild — it doesn’t have to be stodgy at all. I consider my fiction to be literary. I don’t go into detail about scenery and appearances. I don’t tell you that a character is feeling blue (I hope), I try instead to show it through how that character moves and talks and acts. I try to give the reader a scene or situation he/she can interpret in his/her own way.

10. Community is the setting of this novel. What sort of neighbourhood did you grow up in and did that come into your writing of this fictitious neighborhood? This is more my neighborhood now rather than the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s an amalgamation of the street I live on presently and of the neighbors and community around me now. Sort of. But it’s fiction.

11. What does the photo album with the circus postcards in main character Tom’s childhood basement illustrate about Tom and his character or the themes of this book? I debated having actual “freak” photographs in the book. But it didn’t work (too costly to do and might seem gimmicky). Tom learns a lot about appearance and about how we all see the world through those postcards and his interest in them. I guess I was trying to say that we all judge all the time, we have our own opinions and views — but we aren’t always right. There are many sides to every issue. People we think are scary because of their appearance, might not be the scary ones. They might be the good ones. Tom sort of sees this by the end of the book — the old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

  1. You teach writing and have had success with short story collections and novels. What would you say to anyone hoping to have a career as an author? Don’t do it! No, just kidding. It’s an infuriating business as you are always scrambling to find freelance or teaching work in order to pay for the time you need to write the book. Because of this you never have time to actually write. But I guess the two best pieces of advice I can give are:1. Be a reader. Read all the time. Read the kinds of books you want to write. And think about how they are written and why they were written and what they do for you. And then write. And, 2, write because you have to. Don’t write to get published or “be famous” or — hilariously — “to be rich.” You might as well decide to be a famous actress at the same time. Write because your story is important to you, because it’s all you can do not to write. Because you need to write more than anything. And then get a paying job!

***

I thought “Interference” refreshingly unique (letters and emails sprinkled throughout), starting with a letter home from the school to the parents. Throughout the novel more letters and emails are sent and received. A Cease and Desist order from Build-A-Bear Workshop and the women’s hockey team announcements. There are angry and threatening messages from one spouse to another. A question is posed by a son to his parents about the past. A short correspondence takes place to the director of the men’s shelter and one to a woman who volunteers for an organization driving cancer patients to their appointments.

Michelle Berry’s “Interference” is what good literary fiction should be, a gripping contemporary literary fiction story which forces the reader to think about the deeper questions in life and the things that ultimately interfere with the status quo.

She poses these questions in terms such as: “We’re all a little strange. We’re all different.”

“Life is not fair; life and death.”

“It’s good to have something to look forward to.” This line really did sum things up nicely for me.

I pondered all these things as I was introduced to the people and the families living in and around the neighbourhood of Parkville.

On Edgewood Drive the story opens. A man and his wife rake leaves on an autumn day, while their twelve-year-old daughter plays basketball with the neighbour girl across the street. Berry puts us directly in the mind and thoughts of Tom and his prejudices are laid bare almost immediately when a stranger with a hideous scar across his face wanders into the yard, offering to help rake.

Tom is influenced strongly by being a husband, a father, and a son and has seemingly forgotten himself in the process. I was automatically drawn in by Tom’s memory of an old album full of faded postcards of circus freaks, high up on a shelf in his grandfather’s basement. Does this memory mean anything more or is it simply an example of the sort of judgement that goes on by people against others who are different, in neighbourhoods and towns everywhere?

The man with the terribly disfigured face. The creepy bald man in the brown suit. The still stranger in the dark hoodie watching the schoolyard that only Tom’s daughter Becky has seen. The teenaged boy sitting up in the stands every Wednesday evening who watches the women’s hockey league play. The slow boy who acts inappropriately and hangs around the playground at the school after hours.

Pedophile rings and child porn. Someone is stocking around backyards and peering in windows. Kidnapping and cancer scares. The unpredictable and spurned husband who could show up at anytime.

I see it as the kids vs. the adults in a way. Children vs. adults. Men vs. women. Husbands vs. wives. Each group has their own battles, issues, and things going on that they don’t or can’t necessarily talk to anyone else about.

The women of the neighbourhood interact different with one another during their Wednesday night games and in the dressing room than they do off the ice and during their interactions in their homes and with their spouses, children, and next door neighbours, back on Edgewood Drive.

Just off this idyllic street the ones on the fringe peer in on suburbia and can’t help looking in on what they could have had and probably never will. I was constantly on edge to see who would survive through the winter unscathed.

Michelle Berry provides a glimpse into all kinds of people and she leaves me to wonder how things aren’t always what they seem at first glance. I wanted the residents of Parkville to learn something about their neighbours, themselves, and those different, but no less deserving of a little understanding and acceptance and I came away from reading this novel having learned something about those things myself.
That, to me, is the mark of a well-thought-out and touching view of humanity wrapped up in a well-crafted literary fictional package.

***

Interference Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, August 4: Laurie’s Not the Worst

Wednesday, August 6th: Obscure CanLit Mama

Thursday, August 7th: Cozy Up With a Good Read

Friday, August 8th: Feisty Little Woman

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I want to thank Michelle B and Michelle M for giving me a chance to take part in the blog tour.
Michelle Berry’s Interference is published this month by ECW Press, Toronto. Check it out

Here,

or

on Amazon.

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Fiction Friday

Fiction Friday: Mine and Others

April is Camp NaNoWriMo, a variation on what I took part in last November. It’s all in how it is set up, with a camp setting, organizing participants into cabins, which basically means writers are linked with other writers, for support throughout the month.
I am not taking part this time. I found the site a little tricky to use with VO (VoiceOver) and had trouble keeping track of my daily word count.
I hadn’t been able to find the necessary motivation before that time to actually write down the story I had swirling around in my head for several years. I went forward and used Twitter and kept track of my word count on my own.
I found it successful in that I managed to reach 50K words in 30 days.
Now it is happening again. They host this event every November, April, and July, along with their Young Writer’s Program.
I am not a camper for several reasons, the technology issues being one of them. The others are, simply put, that I still haven’t finished the ending of my first NaNo experience. I suppose I could have joined up and written another 50K words again this month; maybe the second half of my story or a sequel to it. I still have not decided.
However, I have way too much work I need to get done for school and that must take precedent right now. I do have a first draft of the first part, eagerly awaiting attention and major editing I am sure. I hope to share it here at some point.
***
April is also National Poetry Month in the US, which I’ve previously spoken about. Another event put on this month is called NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month). The challenge is to write a poem a day for the 30 days of April.
I marvel at anyone able to pull this feet off, as I struggle sometimes to write one poem, let alone thirty. I love poetry and wish everyone who is taking that challenge on all the luck in the world.
***
I have no more of my own fiction to offer up today, but I can lastly comment on someone else’s.
I am not one of those blogs which exclusively writes and posts book reviews for authors. Some of them, like the lovely young lady I have convinced to join me in the Blog Hop I will be posting for on Monday, she does this. Her site Brittany’s Book Blog, posts and hosts books from many independent authors and she hosts a lot of them for book take-overs. These consist of the author speaking directly to the fans over Facebook, posting teasers and teaser pics from their books, and having give-aways of book related swag and prizes.
I admire her and the work she puts into this, plus a full-time college work load. She is simply a lover of books and does so much to support authors.
I have considered going into this area of blogging, but think, for the most part, I would prefer to focus mainly on my own writing. I am still trying to figure out what this blog is, but it is a bit of a confusing question. I was just hoping it would come to me, without having to consciously think about it.
I hope to be an author myself and greatly admire the authors who do all the work themselves. A lot goes into it. I want to support as many authors as I can and that is why I’ve seriously considered the book review blogging rout.
Today I will give a quick try at it with a book I was just recently given to read, by an up-and-coming independent author. I tried the Amazon/B and N/GoodReads thing, but think I will need extra practice navigating all those sites. I don’t have the largest following on here, but I can give it a try and maybe someone will read this and check her out.
Her name is Komali da Silva and her book is Angels Dawn. (Wow. I feel like I am writing a book report for school.)
If you are a fan of teen/Ya (young adult) you will love this story. It is a tale of young love, first loves, and the turmoil of being a teen.
Dawn is turning sixteen and living a good life with her family, her best friend, and her other life-long friend/boyfriend.
She and he have been friends for years and it finally turned into something more. He is reliable and the good guy, but we all know girls like that bad boy at one time or another, even if it gets her into trouble.
She is swept up in the heat of emotions she feels stronger than she’s ever felt before. He comes into her life, this stunningly good-looking stranger, seemingly out of nowhere, after she is attacked on the school grounds while her family and friends are waiting to celebrate her birthday with her.
When she wakes up in the hospital she remembers very little. It was her trusty boyfriend who came to her rescue, or was it?
This new guy might be the answer to all of her prayers or might just lead her into danger and trouble.
She must choose between the dependable friend who loves her or the guy she feels an intensity for that can not be explained.
The cliff hanger ending comes up upon you as a reader and you are left with another mysterious attack and more questions to be answered about everyone involved than answers.
Who is this mysterious and powerful female who seems to find Dawn as a threat and is doing her best to get rid of her? Is this guy really her saviour and the one she should be with or is he dangerous? Should she follow her heart or her head?
I look forward to the second instalment in the Angels Dawn series. I hope to learn all of this and more.
Thank you Komali, for sending your book over to me and I hope you find all the success for your future writing career that you are working so hard for.
Angels Dawn is the smart and fast-paced story of teen angst and a bunch of the supernatural thrown in to make a winning combination of a developing love story and a growing roller coaster of suspense.
Do you enjoy supernatural beings in the stories you read or do you prefer gritty reality?

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