Category Archives: That’s Life

Life is About Change

Seasons change

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Copyright Cindy Carroll

Change isn’t easy for most people. If I surveyed my family and friends I’m sure 99% of them would say they dislike change. I would be one of those people who like things to stay the same, provided things are ticking along okay. No ripples. When things are bad I can’t wait for change. Almost every month last year I hoped for something to change. There are reasons people stay in jobs they hate. Neighbourhoods they’re tired of. Relationships that are dead. Change is hard. There’s comfort in the familiar eve if it drives you nuts. But change is a part of life. Why not embrace it?

There are different kinds of change. Good. Bad. Natural and unstoppable. Anything that makes my routine, my day to day life as I know it, different is welcome if it’s good. Winning money, a raise, unexpected praise from someone I admire. If the change is bad the universe can take it back. The hard times last year were decidedly unwelcome. But is there ever a silver lining when things are bad? I’ve looked into ways to deal better with change and part of that is saying yes when you really want to say no.

Can Bad Things Turn Good?

A cancer diagnosis in the family last year was bad. More bad news came on job fronts. Health issues came on pet fronts. None of that change was good. The only good that came out of it was me discovering my employer is hugely understanding. They let me work form home for three months while I attempted to not fall apart. The good part about working form home was at the end of my work day I was already home. I could start writing right away. No one hour commute.

If it weren’t for the sucktastic year that was 2015 I wouldn’t have started ghostwriting. I’m glad that I did but now I’ll have to deal with a whole can of tax worms I wouldn’t have had to deal with otherwise. On the other hand it has broadened my writing horizons and that will serve me well in the future.

I’d still prefer for those changes not to have happened.

Change For the Sake of Change

I hate this kind of change too. Businesses do this a lot. I know a company that changes its tagline and focus just about every year. They changed their cubicle structure to an open office set up because some of the big companies use that set up. Gotta jump on the trends!

One of the banks I deal with changed its online banking layout to make it easier for customers to find things. The layout is horrible. Everything is huge, forcing me to scroll to find things I could see right away before. They moved things that fell mid screen to the top of the page. To me it looks like a change for the sake of change. It’s a New Year we need to do an update!

Change for the Good

As much as I like routine, for things to stay the same, sometimes the same doesn’t work anymore. Sometimes change is needed for things to improve. I am so happy the publishing industry changed and that self publishing isn’t just feasible but authors can actually make a living publishing on their won. To embrace that though I had to think differently. Gradually, after hearing all the success stories, I decided I would change my publishing strategy.

When I first jumped in short erotica was selling like crazy. Readers would pay $2.99 for a short erotica story, leaving those authors pretty flush with cash. Then Amazon made changes (there’s that word again) and they were offering a borrowing experience. Authors still did well in Kindle Unlimited 1.0 because they were still getting an amount comparable to a royalty. But when Amazon changed the pay structure of KU to be less than a penny per page read a lot of erotica authors had to reevaluate.

This year I’ve decided to leave the secret erotica pen names behind (not for good, just for now) and focus on my books. I have New Adult dystopian stories to tell, urban fantasies to explore, serial killers that need to be caught. So other than the ghostwriting most writing this year will be to bring those stories to life. Novels sell better than short stories so it’s time I worked on full length books.

Of course since nothing in life stays the same I could be singing a different tune a few months from now.

How about you? Do you resist change or embrace it?

Until next time…


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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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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Toronto flood causes chaos

The Toronto flood caused chaos on Monday all across the GTA. The city is somewhat back to normal after flooding crippled much of the GTA yesterday. The storm happened just in time for the evening commute and caused unexpected flooding. As far as I know there wasn’t a warning given.

Flood Etobicoke 2013

Rain still coming down in Etobicoke*

I was still at work in Mississauga at 17:15. The rain was coming down heavily so I waited under the awning by the back doors for it to let up. That turned into a ten minute wait until finally for about thirty seconds the rain slowed enough so that I didn’t get soaked running to my car. As soon as I shut my door the skies opened up again. I stopped twice on the drive home, pulling into parking lots to wait it out. Hoping it would slow so I could at least see out the windshield.

Etobicoke flood after July 2013 storm

Etobicoke after July storm*


It slowed slightly so I left the parking lot and headed for the highway. City streets were flooded. Parking lots were flooded. I didn’t know it yet but some of the 400 series highways were flooded. I worried what the 401 would be like. But I didn’t have to worry. After five minutes on the highway going west I was out of the storm. the sky was actually blue ahead of me. I looked in the rear view mirror to see black skies and rain.

Today most areas of the city were back to normal. When I left for work 35,000 homes were without power. Then it was 20,000 homes. Then it went up again with rolling blackouts throughout the city. I’m not sure when the power will be back to normal for them. For those of us west of the city we hardly received any rain.

We’ve had a lot of precipitation this summer. Makes me think my friend had the right idea moving to a desert.

Until next time…



*Photos courtesy of Graeme McIntosh of Risk Solutions (part of the Toti Group)

If you could go back in time…

What would you tell your younger self?

Regrets anyone? Almost everyone has at least one regret. Until I met my fiancé I regretted a misunderstanding with a boy I met when I was seventeen. Because of that misunderstanding (maybe not just because of it) we never ended up dating. If we had we probably would have been married. So I wouldn’t have met my fiancé.

No, I’m happy about all the ones “that got away”. Some I’m more happy about than others. What I regret happened when I was fourteen. My cousin, a few friends and I were extras in Youngblood starring Patrick Swayze and Rob Lowe. It was a great summer. We learned after the first location shoot that they (the stars) were hardly ever inside. We spent most of our eight hours inside a hockey arena clapping or pretending to clap, freezing our butts off, while the stars sunned themselves outside.

So when the shoot moved to a new location we found out where but we did not sign up as extras. We went every day and hung out on the baseball field beside the arena. Because of that I got to play Trivial Pursuit with Melissa Gilbert (she was dating Rob Lowe at the time). I told Patrick Swayze to quit smoking and Rob Low mistook me for Cynthia Gibb. But also because of that we found out where Rob and Partrick were staying, including their room numbers.

This is where the regret comes in. I regret we didn’t go check it out sooner. By the time we worked up the nerve (my cousin and I) to go to the Sutton Place Hotel they had already checked out. On the ride down in the elevator the car stopped on a floor and someone got in. It was Michael Damien (of Young and the Restless). He was shooting a video in Toronto, playing the love interest to singer Cynthia. He noticed us recognizing him and he invited us to go watch the video shoot.

And we said no! We said we had to be home for dinner.

If I could go back in time I would tell my fourteen year old self to go to the video shoot. Get grounded for life!  Live a little. Times like that are once in a lifetime experiences. Instead, we went back home.

What advice would you give your younger self?

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Until next time…



When does procrastination pay?

IMG_5292We don’t have all the time in the world. Some things can’t wait. Usually, procrastination costs you money and opportunities. One of my (many) flaws is that I’m an expert procrastinator. Because of my tendency to put things off I’m a year late releasing my first self published book. If I don’t procrastinate this week the book should be up by June 30. I never did write the horror script for the Hollywood manager who loved my writing (he read my Supernatural teleplay) and told me to send him a movie script when it was done. I wasn’t working on one at the time and now it’s too late.

I could go on about the missed opportunities but you get the idea. When it comes to money procrastination costs you there too. Usually in late fees if you’re talking about bills. Or renewals. I’m sending in the renewal for my passport tonight – a week before the rates are set to go up. Will they charge me the old renewal fee or the new much more expensive fee? I’ll find out when I get my VISA bill.

But there are times when procrastination is a good thing.

When you really want to buy something but wait and then it goes on sale. I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve won a mini lottery when that happens.

I procrastinated with picking a couple for my pen name’s cover because there is so much of a selection over at Hot Damn Stock and I had to get edits done on that June 30th book (novella actually). It turned out great for me though because Kim Killion did a photo shoot with one of my favourite male cover models a week later. And now he is going to be on my pen name’s cover.

The fiancé and I hired a wedding planner. Well, we were looking into hiring her. She offered us a one month free trial where she actually did a lot of work for us. When the trial was over she sent a contract (in April) that we finally got around to signing and sending back on Friday. We said we would PayPal her the fee later that day. She emailed back to say the company was no longer in business. So we saved hundreds of dollars. If we’d signed the contract in April and sent payment there’s no way we would have gotten it back.

So maybe procrastination isn’t always a bad thing. When it comes to the writing career though I need to eliminate procrastination for good.

What about you? Any missed opportunities because you procrastinated? Lose any money because of your procrastination? Or did procrastination work in your favour?

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Until next time…




Yesterday, after what I can only assume was a reminiscing lunch with a friend, the boyfriend came home and proposed. Complete with ring! He was very mushy when he got home, talking about champagne and special birthdays. My birthday is soon but it’s not a milestone birthday so I had no idea what he was talking about. Then he pulled out the box with the ring (purple stone of course!) and asked me to marry him. I think my first words were – “Get out of here. Are you serious?” I then scooped up the ring and put in on and said “you know that means yes, right?”

Why did I have such a reaction? We’d talked about marriage so I “knew” it was going to happen eventually. But I still wasn’t 100% positive. I also had no idea it would happen now. I had mentioned to the boyfriend (fiance!) that waiting 10 years to ask me to marry him was too long. I didn’t think he would be ready after 3 years.

Now I want to talk about the benefits of online dating. Since I met the fiance 🙂 I’ve been telling anyone who will listen how great they are. Well, not all of them are great. I tried 2 of the big ones and got nothing. Well, not nothing. I did get a (one) date that didn’t work out. It took a service I’d never heard of before to get the two of us together.

I was very insistent that I be myself in my profile. I’m not a girly girl. I like sports, scifi, action, thrillers. I love computers and video games. I was also adamant that I didn’t want children. I had a number of people tell me I was being too picky and I should lighten up on some of my must haves. Of course I refused. I knew how I’d feel if I was roped in with false advertising.

Almost from the moment we met we knew we would be together forever. We met the end of June and in July he want camping with me and my friends. In August we went on a road trip to Montreal. when we got back I practically lived at his place, staying at my sister’s only 2 nights a week.

So we knew we would get married. I just didn’t know when. Even though I’m not a girly girl I wanted to be married to him. I don’t care that much about the wedding itself. I want a marriage, not a wedding. For various reasons, that he agrees with, I won’t be changing my last name officially. But with family and friends I will be using his last name.

Before I met him I’d pretty much given up on “romance”. Oh, I was dating and having fun but I knew those weren’t happily ever afters. My fiance renewed my faith in romance. I’d stopped writing romance and switched to suspense/thrillers because I didn’t believe in romances anymore. Now, I do believe again. And started writing erotica and erotic romance under a pen name. 🙂

If you haven’t met “the one” yet I encourage you to try online dating. Be careful about it. Meet in a crowded location. Arrive separately. Let people know where you’re going and who you’ll be meeting and how long you expect to be. But try it. You never know. “The one” could be at their keyboard right now waiting for you.

Until next time…


New year – same goals

Happy New Year from England!

The boyfriend and I are visiting the UK to see old friends, see family and do some sight seeing. Posts about England will follow later this month. This post is about my yearly goals. As usual I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to last year. I did not submit ten short stories and one novel. Though I did submit short stories. I did not read twenty-four books. I read five. The workshop goals I always manage to do. And the movie goal is easy to accomplish as well. I watched movie 100 in England.

Onto this year’s writing goals:

1. Write every day with an average of at least 1,000 words a day
2. Read twenty-four books
3. Watch 100 movies
4. Read twelve scripts
5. Critique more
6. Take at least two workshops
7. Give workshops
8. Submit ten short stories and one novel
9. Continue to grow the in person writing group
10. Update website

I’m taking Margie Lawson’s Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors so I’m confident I will be able to accomplish everything on my list this year.

I hope 2012 is great for everyone. Do you have any 2012 goals?

Until next time…