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A new year and reflections of 2014

Belated Happy New Year to everyone! I should have posted this earlier. So far so good this year during the first week and a half of 2015. I know this post is late and I have no excuses except my procrastination. And my tendency to make long lists of things to do that I will never be able to finish. I had intentions of doing a wrap up post on December 31. It’s been over a year since I’ve posted here but I have good (to me) reasons for neglecting my blog for so long. Then I intended to do another post New Year’s Day with my goals. As writers frequently do, I’m combining those two posts into one to make things easier, cleaner, and shorten my to do list.

A Look Back

First, I’m going to talk about 2014. The year was full of ups and downs, not only for me but for friends as well. We had deaths in the family that are still painful to think about. We had illness and accidents. The weather sucked and I found myself working from home a lot giving me a lot more time to think about the bad stuff 2014 brought. But there was a high, and that high was really high. I got married.

During ceremony - photo taken by Nik Rosser

During ceremony – photo taken by Nik Rosser

I didn’t talk about the wedding plans on my social media accounts because we didn’t get married in Ontario. We got married in England. Planning an overseas wedding is not an easy feat and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have help. We,thankfully, had lots of help from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. We got married at the town hall in Woodstock. My husband did a lot of internet research to find our caterer, photographer, and cake person. I was a little nervous because the only one we met in person well in advance of the wedding was the woman doing our cake. We made a special trip to England in November of 2013 to apply for our marriage licence and to discuss what we wanted for a cake. Everyone else we met the week of the wedding and I actually never met our florist.



The cake - photo taken by Christopher Graefe

The cake – photo taken by Christopher Graefe

After the wedding we stayed in England for two more weeks. It was a honeymoon packed with activities including the beer festival, WorldCon, a soccer match, plus lots of shopping. Now I want to go back to England with a smaller agenda because we still haven’t done everything we said we wanted to do there. And we’ve been there three times since we met.

It’s been a series of firsts since August. First flight as a married couple. First birthday as a married couple. First Thanksgiving, first Christmas as a married couple. I’m loving every minute of it. And of course this was our first New Year’s Eve as a married couple. You’d think we would have done something, gone out. But we did exactly what we wanted. Relaxed at home with the cats.

New Year Lots of Goals

With the new year a lot of people make resolutions. I don’t call them that. To me they’re goals. Goals with clear tasks to accomplish those goals. This year is no different. What is different is the sheer number of words I want to write this year. I have a lot of projects I want to finish and release. So, here they are in no particular order.

1. Write 600,000 words
2. Release Almost Normal
3. Release new adult dystopian trilogy
4. Read 25 books
5. Watch 100 movies
6. Continue on low carb diet
7. Exercise three times a week
8. Spend quality time with family and friends
9. Blog regularly

That’s it for now, though I’m sure I’ll be adding to the list as the year goes on. To accomplish the word count goal I’ll have to write 2400 words a day (taking weekends off).

What about you? Anyone have any goals/resolutions they want to share?

Until next time…




Goals for 2014 – Are yours SMART?

I love the New Year. Like the new school season in September, January 1, to me, is a day to start over again. Wipe the slate clean and strive for a great year. I start every year with goals. I don’t like to call them resolutions. These are goals. Goals for writing, goals for finance, goals for every day life. At work we have to set goals when the fiscal year starts and it’s a good time for me to think about my own personal goals as well. For the day job the fiscal year starts in July. So I usually have six months to mull over what I’ll putting on my goals list for the New Year.

At work we make our goals SMART:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Relevant

T – Time-bound

I try to do that with goals in my personal life as well. Specific goals, I find, are easier to work towards. Vague goals have no focus and are harder to achieve. Measurable goals are important. You need to be able to tell that the goal has been achieved.  Attainable or achievable is the next step. Setting goals that are not attainable only serve to discourage you when you fail to achieve them. Relevant means the goal is aligned with other goals, it’s a goal that matters. Finally, it’s important to have goals that have a time frame otherwise you’ll keep putting them off.

For me, achievable is the most important step. There’s a difference between dreams and goals. Goals should be in your control, something you can achieve. Dreams are under someone else’s control for the most part. The only thing you can control are the goals you accomplish that move you closer to your dream. My dream is to write full time. So my goals should be aligned to help me get there. The goals I can control and hopefully the dream will come true. I’d love to be a New York Times bestselling author. But I have no control over readers buying my books. I only  have control over the books I put out there. So my goal (that will help me achieve my dream) is to put out the best books I can.

I won’t list them here but on my list of goals beside the goal is how I will accomplish that goal. I include all the steps I need for the goal to be achieved.

So, this year’s goals are:

Have a total of ten books up on the major online retailers

Submit two stories to Woman’s World

Submit at least two other short stories to calls for submission

Read at least 12 books (at least 6 fiction)

Watch 100 movies

The most important goals:

Spend quality time with family at least once a week

Hire caterer for wedding

Finalize wedding details

Get married!

Follow the Weight Watchers points program

Exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week

I will revisit the goals monthly to see how I”m doing with them and reevaluate if needed. Life happens and we have to adapt. But that doesn’t mean we’ll have failed to accomplish what we want. You define what success looks like to you.

What about you? Have goals for 2014?

Until next time…





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Looking back at 2013

I’m a superstitious person. I knock on wood, if something bad happens I don’t wear the same outfit again, I throw salt over my shoulder. In the past five years I’ve noticed that odd years aren’t good for me. Bad things happen in odd years that I would rather forget. And 2013 was no exception. I got bronchitis, had stomach flu, found out my cat is very sick (heart problem and a blot clot), my grandmother passed away. But I realized that good things also happened in those years and that’s what I should be focusing on. I went on an amazing trip to England with my fiancé, I published my first short story – and then two more were in an anthology.  I also figured out why I tended to procrastinate a lot instead of getting work done.

First I want to examine the goals I had for 2013. I didn’t accomplish them. I got close on a few but for the most part they were a total bust.

To recap here were the goals I posted January 1:

Have at least 5 books available on the major online stores – the first one in January (most of these will be under my pen name but Reflections will be under mine)I have 4 “books” up. Reflections, Nefarious North (with the two short stories), a booklet about wedding dress shopping by the creative pen name Wendy Bridal and another short story under my pen name.

Submit the four short stories I wrote for Woman’s World to Woman’s WorldI submitted one short story.

Submit at least 2 other short stories for calls for submissionsBy the end of today I will be submitting 2 short stories for calls for submission.

Finish writing one script (I have a few on the go so I should be able to finish one of them)Nope.

Read 24 books (I’m starting today with Tess Gerritsen’s The Apprentice)Including non-fiction I’ve read 12 books this year.

Watch 100 movies (I’m starting this today too with January Man)Not even close. I think it was around 30.

Read 12 scripts (I have a list started of the ones I want to read)Nope.

I saved the most important goals for last:

Spend time with family and friendsI always do this one.

Plan my wedding!Yes. Most of it is planned but we still need a caterer.

Save for my weddingYes, started saving for it but still have a lot to save.

Diet and exercise to improve my healthNope.

Not a stellar year. I’ve definitely had better. But I did get some things accomplished. Back to the why I procrastinate part. If you’ve been following the blog you know I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. It’s dangerous if untreated and has a lot of symptoms. Now that I know I have it I realize my lack of focus was probably because of the sleep apnea. My irritability (especially at work) was because of it. Waking up tired all the time, especially during the week, was because of it. Now that I’m using a CPAP machine I have more energy and more focus. So that was my year in a nutshell. How was yours? Did you accomplish everything you wanted? Tomorrow I’ll be posting new goals. I’m hoping 2014 will be a great year.

Until next time…








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Christie and Sayers

Welcome back to my blog! Today I have Kate Parker talking about two great mystery writers. Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.

Here’s Kate!

In the interests of honesty, I have to admit to reading Agatha Christie’s novels from the time I graduated from Dick and Jane. Dorothy Sayers’ works took me years longer to absorb, but now I can say I’ve read, and watched thanks to PBS, almost everything either woman wrote. I’ve even read Jill Paton Walsh’s work from unfinished stories by Sayers, Anne Hart’s biography of Miss Jane Marple, and Max Allan Collins work staring Agatha Christie, sleuth.

It took the book, Bluestockings, The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education, by Jane Robinson, to help me see why these two popular mystery writers of the 1920s thru the 1950s differed so widely in their plots and motives.

University education, now almost a rite of passage for women, was still a novelty when Christie and Sayers came of age. Christie, who was from a wealthy family, never attended college. In fact, she never attended school until she was twelve, being educated at home. Then she attended school in Torquay and Paris, coming home from finishing school at age twenty to begin her hunt for a husband. She married at the beginning of World War I, becoming a mother after the war ended. She never held a job outside the home except during the war years.

Sayers, the only child of a minister, won a scholarship to Oxford at nineteen and finished her courses with firsts although women were not awarded degrees at that time. She returned to gain an MA after women began receiving degrees. She was a career woman in the advertising industry, creating a well-known advertising campaign for Guinness in use long after her death.

Christie’s works were domestic. They frequently involved a village or a country house. She used exotic locales because her second husband was a noted archaeologist and she traveled with him, but most of her works were set in southern England. Her mysteries revolved around jealousy and greed, around families and close neighbors who were comfortable with their role in society.

Sayers’ works frequently presented causes. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club featured PTSD in soldiers after World War I, Murder must Advertize looked at the unfortunate truth behind advertising, and Gaudy Night championed women’s education.

Christie wrote 66 mysteries, 6 romances, and several plays. She employed several different sleuths, the most famous of which are Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. She was still producing novels into her eighties. The last two published, killing off Poirot and Marple, were written decades before during World War II in case she was killed in the blitz.

Sayers wrote only a handful of mysteries, all featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. She quit writing mysteries during World War II and turned to “serious subjects” such as penning religious articles and translating Dante’s Inferno. She died at age 64.

How much of the serious tone of Sayers’ mysteries came from the expectation that once gained, a woman with a university-education should be involved in politics and business? Could this have led her to drop writing mysteries and turn to non-fiction works as more intellectually stimulating and acceptable for the highly-educated?

Although not university educated, Christie was obviously a smart woman. Mystery writing was an outlet for a creative woman that was acceptable at that time. Miss Jane Marple was the antithesis of the university educated woman, but she became one of the best known sleuths in English literature as she solved murders for the police.

Kate Parker sets her historical mysteries a generation before Christie and Sayers. The Vanishing Thief, the first of the Victorian Bookshop Mysteries, will arrive today at your favorite on-line or physical book store.

About The Vanishing Thief: 

TheVanishingThiefAt 30, Victorian bookshop owner Georgia Fenchurch knows she’s considered a middle-class old maid. That’s all right with her. She has the bookshop she inherited when her parents were murdered before her eyes, providing her with a living and something to keep her busy during the day. At night, she has another occupation. Driven by her need to see people rescued and justice done, she works with the Archivist Society.


In the foggy London of coal fires and carriages, glittering balls and Sherlock Holmes, the Archivist Society digs through musty records searching for the truth. They also don disguises and assume identities as they hunt for missing people, stolen treasures, and cunning murderers. Between her efforts for the Archivist Society and her management of the bookshop, Georgia doesn’t have time to be lonely.


When a respectable middle-class woman comes into her bookshop complaining that a duke has abducted her next door neighbor, Georgia thinks the investigation will be a short one. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in theft, blackmail, lies, secret marriages, and murder. The man Georgia is asked to find may be royalty, may be dead, and is definitely missing. The woman who hired her won’t reveal the truth. The accused duke may be a victim or a killer, but he certainly is involved in the hunt for the missing man. And every aristocrat who knew the missing man seems to be hiding their own dangerous lie.


As Georgia crosses London searching for the missing man, she finds herself staring into the face of the one person she has wanted to capture for a dozen years. The one who got away. The man who killed her parents.

Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here, Kate! This sounds like a really interesting book. I must pop over and check it out.

Until next time…



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Attack of the killer Vajayjays

Welcome to the blog! Today I have Nicole Chardenet talking about femme fatales.

Here’s Nicole!

The femme fatale. Why do men fear her so much? Yet like the vampire figure for women, men are mesmerized and inexorably drawn to the dangerous, possibly fatal woman. She’s been an irresistible attraction in literature and then the mass media for centuries, even millennia.

Cleopatra as portrayed by Theda Bara in the 19...

Cleopatra as portrayed by Theda Bara in the 1917 movie Cleopatra, in a costume of dubious historical accuracy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cleopatra. Delilah. Theda Bara. The ‘black widow’. Margaret’s murderous muff in Liquid Sky. Sharon Stone with her ice pick, mesmerizing an office full of cops.

Beautiful women, seductive and inviting, leading a man by his—-free will to his doom.

A femme fatale is a man’s most deep-seated nightmare – she represents his complete loss of control. He can’t control his thoughts around this intoxicating creature, and it drives him insane that she has this power over him. She might well even use it to destroy him.

But why? Why would she do that?

Because in a world set up by men, for men, to serve men, women have historically had only one power men can’t take away – and that is their irresistible desire for her portal of Venus . Men may fear it and fight it – hell, the undeniable power of the mighty cunnikin clearly drives men mad with fear in the Middle East – but in the end, the promised nirvana between her legs has complete control over him. Forcing it under a burqa doesn’t help; it makes it worse. The less he sees, the more he imagines.

English: Actress Theda Bara in a promotional photo

English: Actress Theda Bara in a promotional photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I began thinking more about women’s sexual power after I started writing Sumer Lovin’. I wanted a female villain, and Googling one night I found Lamashtu, an ancient Sumerian divinity about whom little was written, but legend stated that the space between her legs was like a scorpion.

Holy shit!

I made Lamashtu the ultimate femme fatale, seducing virgins to steal their male essence to stay young and beautiful and to keep from reverting to her true form, which, let’s just say wasn’t nearly as shaggable as the well-formed barely-clad woman that stalked the mean streets of Toronto, honing in on her perfect virgin. She also left her victims in a highly diminished state as well.

It got me to thinking just who the hell came up with the idea of a woman with a scorpion in the ol’ cha-cha. It had to be a man, some ancient Sumerian vadge-fearin’ misogynist. Mythology, I already knew, was rife with tales of women with killer vaginas – like the vagina dentata, the ‘vagina with teeth’ – the ultimate ‘man-eater’. Or the only recently-abandoned belief that a woman steals a man’s essence through sexual intercourse, a myth that made a star of Theda Bara back in the day. Such myths express the apparently universal male fear, as Camille Paglia pointed out, that a man enters a woman strong and ready but leaves diminished, or something. Because something about our mighty minge is scaring the living bejeebus out of the boys, even as they’re inexorably drawn to it, obsessed by it, and want to possess it totally.

Of course, the notion that our vaginas somehow diminish men seems completely bizarre to most women, who don’t understand what the big deal is. Okay, so you’re an overcooked noodle when you exit, just give it twenty minutes! A little longer if you’re older.

Perhaps male fear stems from the subconscious realization that powerful patriarchy created the femme fatale. Women needed to be manipulative and scheming to get what they wanted, a fact that has only begun to change in the last century because of feminism. Women used their bodies and faces to manipulate men or even to destroy them if it suited their interests – because what other choice did they have? Especially if it meant their own survival, or those of their children.

The femme fatale wouldn’t have this power, of course, if men could control their thoughts around us better. Which, apparently, many can’t, so the femme fatale will always be there, ready and waiting, lush and alluring, to snatch his penis or his self-control or his wallet or whatever.

Leave it to men to complicate a simple joyous reproductive act with a lot of scary and ridiculous gender politics.

Why can’t we all just get naked and make joyous whoopee?

Cover - BlueSumer Lovin’ (Deux Voiliers Publishing), a crazy tale of the search for love and lust in Toronto after an earthquake opens up portals from the Underworld all over the city.

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Sumer Lovin’ (Deux Voiliers Publishing), a crazy tale of the search for love and lust in Toronto after an earthquake opens up portals from the Underworld all over the city.

Available from Amazon:





Cindy here again!

Thanks for being here, Nicole. Loved the post. I do like a good femme fatale in a movie or book.

Until next time…



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How well do you sleep?

This post is reposted by permission from me. :) I wrote the original on my group blog, Writing Wranglers and Warriors.

This is a serious question. Sleep apnea can cause a lot of health problems. Sleep problems aren’t something that should be taken lightly though people who don’t get enough sleep tend to brag about how little sleep they need to function. Ever heard anyone do that? “Oh I can get by on four hours a night.” They say it like it’s a great thing. But really they’re just getting by on that. Lack of sleep is their new normal. They would feel better if they got more sleep. How much more productive could they be if they actually got enough sleep?

Gained weight recently and don’t know why? Can’t lose weight even though you’re watching what you eat? Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep. Because not getting enough sleep puts your body in stress mode. In stress mode the body stores fat. This could be why I haven’t been able to lose weight. I don’t eat a lot more than other people. Since I’m a quality assurance engineer for the day job I think this calls for a test. Change nothing in the way food intake or exercise but get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. See if I lose any weight.

But maybe me going to bed too late and getting up too early aren’t the only reasons I’m not getting enough sleep.  I went for a sleep study to find out if I have sleep apnea because I made my fiancé get one done. Turns out I was right. He does have it. Now he’s on a CPAP machine.

You should have the sleep study done if you suspect you have sleep apnea. I’m going to give you some tough love here. SLEEP APNEA KILLS. You stop breathing while you sleep. Most times your body wakes itself up and then you just go back to sleep. Sometimes your body doesn’t wake itself up and YOU DIE. Yes, it is a hot button with me because I know people who suspect they have sleep apnea but haven’t gone for the study. They have children. One is a single mother. If she doesn’t care about herself she should at least care enough for her son.  I have another friend who won’t go for one because she says she wouldn’t want to use the CPAP machine. So to me that says she’d rather risk death. Totally up to her but so ridiculous. Not to mention the danger you are on the road if you have sleep apnea and don’t get treatment.

My sleep doctor does lots of tests before the study. I had to go for blood tests – regular blood test and a blood gas test. The blood gas is to determine how my oxygen saturation is in my blood. People with sleep apnea can have low blood oxygen. With sleep apnea your brain is starved for oxygen. This can cause all sorts of other problems including high blood pressure.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea: From

Sleepy during the day and don’t know why
Morning headaches
Can’t concentrate
High blood pressure

Don’t have sleep apnea but still aren’t sleeping well?

Tips on getting a better sleep:

Sleep in a cool room.

No lights – so that’s TV lights, lights from gadgets etc. (I put my iPhone face down so if it does buzz with a notification the room isn’t suddenly bathed in light.)

Go to bed at the same time (even on the weekends) and get up at the same time.

Cut out caffeinated beverages after noon.

Do something soothing before bed. So as much as I would love for you to read my horror short story – don’t do it right before bed. :)

That also goes for watching television or a movie. Don’t watch something frightening before bed. Stick to feel good dramas or comedies.

I had been doing some of these. When I watch a horror movie I make sure I watch a comedy movie afterwards. Or I watch two comedy shows. To get the horror stuff out of my head.

So, what should you take away from all this? Sleep is important. But the body doesn’t just need sleep. It needs good, uninterrupted sleep. If you have symptoms, talk to your doctor and go for a sleep study.

Until next time…



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