Three Weeks Into 2015 – Am I On Track?

Hi everyone, happy Friday once again! Hope you all had a good week. I am busy juggling my many balls in the air these days. I re-read my first blog of the year and reminded myself of my focuses. I am three weeks into the New Year already and I’m pretty much on track. Well not on everything, but one thing at a time. For the first time since I was in high school, I entered my work into a writing contest. I entered a short story contest and was really pumped about it. I should hear by the end of February if I won anything, but that would just be the icing on the cake. I was just proud that I built up the courage to submit my short story in the first place. I will be sure to keep you posted when and if I hear anything. I also managed to write another five hundred words in my book. Although it’s not a lot for three weeks of time, I remind myself there are only twenty-four hours in a day and I probably should sleep for at least seven of them… so my time is limited. Even though I may not actually be writing words down in Word, the story is very much alive in my mind and I am always thinking about scenarios to write and the direction of the characters. That has to count towards it too. Every day at least once I think about my story.

Keeping up with my blog once a week takes quite a bit of my free time too because I have to think about what to write about, write it, edit it and post it somewhere between Thursday morning and Friday morning. That is tight space considering I spend the whole day with my little man who is also trying to get and hold my attention. This week actually I was almost certain I wasn’t going to get this up… but here it is. My New Year Focus is still holding. Yay me! Self high-five. My family focus is well on track too. My son’s second birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks and that is certainly occupying a lot of space in my mind. I am thinking of special things we can do together on his actual birthday and I am planning a party for him the following Saturday. I said I wasn’t going to go overboard… but I was just fooling myself. I believe this will be controlled overboard though. I think. No I’m pretty sure. I will plan two activities for the kids and have got most of his decorations already, so check on the list.

AND – somewhere in between all this stuff I am still finding time to read my newest book from ‘Blogging For Books’. The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith- book review to come. This time I think I’ll actually finish the book too. Ha! The emotional turmoil of the family reeling from the loss of their husband/father has sucked me in. Stay tuned for that.

TGIF! Have yourself a very happy weekend.

❤ Melissa

2015! Out With The Old, Focus On The New

amazing-hope-quotes-sayings-pictures-5-24e753a7Happy New Year!! 2015: the bright, new, un-corrupted, full of promise. Everything is still yet to be this year and once again I am filled with hope. The beginning of a new year always makes me reflective, as I’m sure it does many, but more so it fills me with hope. Hope this year will be the best one yet. I am not really one to set New Years resolutions because more often than not people set unreasonable expectations of themselves and when they don’t succeed at them within the first couple weeks, they give up. Change requires devotion and hard work. Instead of setting resolutions, I set focus for the year. I do a little soul-searching and review the good and the bad of my year prior taking into consideration what I’d really like to achieve in the next year. Some times I set a main focus and then a few minor focuses. I’ve been spending the last few days reviewing my choices for focus this year. Of course continuing my writing is one on the list. I definitely want to finish writing my novel this year. It’s super important to me to complete it. It’s also important to continue my blog, but I also feel like I need to focus more on promoting myself. I was content in 2014 just to write and post, but keep myself some what in the shadows of writing still. I really wasn’t quite ready to shout from the rooftops, “Hey World, here’s my blog…. read it!” I’ve been playing it way too cautious and doing a disservice to myself; I feel like I do have a message to share with the world and my words have a positive impact on those who read them, so I should really try harder to put myself out there more often. Write Novel and Promote blog: focus number one and two.

My younger brother is getting married in May, which I am super excited about, so the wedding will definitely be a main focus, which naturally leads me to family. I want to spend more time sharing memories with our families. Busy and conflicting schedules makes it a challenge, but one I need to focus more on. I am certainly looking forward to being a bridesmaid and helping plan all the fun wedding related events. Family: Focus Three

Volunteer work is another task that has been on my mind lately. I feel like I haven’t given back enough to my community. Working part-time and being a Mom limits my time quite a bit, so I couldn’t commit myself to a part-time volunteer position, but there are lots of one day community events that go on all throughout the year that I really want to take part in. One of them I found last year was an environment clean up event where you can sign up to go clean up garbage down by the river near our house. Helping clean up our world and keep it a beautiful place for our next generations is one of the most important things to me and I want to instill those environmentally conscious beliefs in my son as well. A river clean up day is something we both can do together to help make a difference. Volunteer work: Focus Four.

2014 was rocky at times for my family and we lost great people. I am looking forward to starting 2015 with a fresh and positive attitude. I will try hard every day to be humble and thankful for every breath of this life. I will focus on the good and the great and leave all the negative and bad behind in 2014. I wish all of you reading the best love and laughter 2015 has to offer. I hope you conquer your dreams and your fears. I hope many wonderful things will come to you and your families. I look forward to taking each day, one at a time with the bravest of smiles on my face and the brightest of light and love filling my heart. 

To my amazing family and friends near and far, happiest new year! I love you all.

2015 here I come!

❤ Melissa

My Top Three Tips for Surviving the Christmas Season

SurvivalGuideHappy last Friday before Christmas! If you’re reading this, I’ll congratulate you for being so prepared that you have spare time to read my little blog post. Thank you! And if you’re using to procrastinate on your last Christmas preparations, sorry but thank you anyway! To those of you who celebrate Christmas, you know how much work and stress it can be. The build up to the actual day can be exhausting and I thought I would share my top three tips for surviving this Christmas season.

Tip One: Always have several bottles of wine on hand – it’s a guarantee that unexpected company will invite themselves over last-minute. You want to be a prepared host, so always be sure to have a bottle of wine ready for guests. More importantly, have a bottle of wine prepared for yourself. Consuming alcohol is the best way to calm the stressed nerves.

Tip Two: Keep an extra box of chocolates- chances are a neighbour or extended family member will drop by with an unexpected gift for you. No one likes to be empty-handed when someone comes with a gift. You could give them this box of extra chocolate, but I suggest keeping it for yourself. Chocolate goes great with red wine and the sugar rush will give you the final energy to wrap all those presents.

Tip Three : Borrow A Child- Though the world may feel like it’s closing in on you, though you may be tired, overworked, underpaid, stressed out… a child is happiness. They are pure and embody the essence of what Christmas should be about. Joy. So if you don’t own a child yourself, borrow one from a family member or friend. After I’ve had the worst day ever, I walk through the front door and my son smiles while running to greet me; the worst of the day melts away when I lay my eyes on him. Spend an hour in the world of a child and suddenly you’ll remember what life was like without a care in the world.

So… wine, chocolate and a child’s laughter and you can survive the last few days before Christmas. Really that’s pretty much how I survive every day in this crazy world. Now I just want to take this opportunity to tell you next week I am going to take a week off of blogging to spend more time with my family. I would like to wish each of you the happiest of holiday time. No matter where you are, who you are with, whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you love, laughter and peace. May the year 2015 be filled with the happiest moments with all your dreams, wishes and resolutions fulfilled. Thank you for sharing in the journey with me during 2014. I hope you’ll stick around next year to see where my writing path leads.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

See you in 2015!!!

❤ Melissa

Poem Rewrite: “History” New and Improved

Hi everyone. Hope you had a great week. Here we are again, poetry Friday- Revision and Edit Note Edition. Last week I posted the original version of my poem, “History“. I spent the past week updating it to what I like to think is a much better version and as good as I can make it at this point. There were a lot of repetitive words like “that”, “when”, “and”,  as well as unnecessary words such as, “thinking of days before”, “simply forgotten”,”you are the historic”. To write great poetry, the useless words need to be cut out. Every word should have some importance to the imagery of the poem. “Simply forgotten” and “you are the historic” were much too obvious statements and hit the reader over the head with the message of the poem, which really is just bad poetry. It is implied throughout the poem the narrator is having difficulty writing about the emotions. Those emotions I had in my mind while I wrote it directly relates to a bad break up. At the end of the poem, ‘the historic’ is never recorded, so telling the reader they are ‘simply forgotten’ is redundant.

The next editing I did was to remove some confusing lines, such as, “I need a drink so I drown myself in water…”. These lines did not make sense upon review because during this part of the poem the narrator is expressing though much time passes they are still unable to write their feelings down. Though ‘drinking until you drown’ would take some time I didn’t feel I could portray this clear enough to keep it in the poem. So I deleted it. 

I don’t want to dissect this poem so much that I take the enjoyment of reading the new and improved version away from you, the reader. With that, I give the 2014 version of “History”. Please read, enjoy and feel free to leave me comments on how you like the new version. 

As always… thank you for reading and for sharing. Happy Friday! 

❤ Melissa


History

With the last breath of day
the fall of night,
I write history.
Falling into poetic release,
I am the historian.

My weakness for solitude
prevails in the night air
as I turn to liquid ink.
Succumbing to passage of unconscious thought
hoping upon revival
answers will be inked.
Though I walk this endless trail,
I am still lost in liquid ink.
Though a million years pass,
I am still lost in liquid ink.
Knowing I possess the immortality
dripping from my finger-tips,
history written.
I am the historian knowing no history
you, the historic,
never recorded.
History.

Warning… December Is Approaching.

33-days-until-christmasHappy Friday and happy 33 days until Christmas. Yikes! That’s a reality check for me for sure. I really wanted to be on top of everything this year and get all my shopping done by the end of November so I can enjoy lots of family time in December instead of running around in the consumer chaos. My plan may not exactly on schedule yet but I am trying to do my best. Of course that means with so much to do that my writing gets pushed to the bottom of the list which is so frustrating. I am in such a good place with my book and I can see everything unfolding so naturally in the story, but I don’t have time to write it. Worse yet, every time I step away from my story for a long period of time, the longer it takes me to get back my story mojo. People tell me all the time that I am too hard and put too much pressure on myself, but it’s only because I want to be able to do it all. I don’t want to waste a second of life and this story is burning in my soul to be written. I need to write it, but I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that it could take a decade to write. Okay… maybe a decade is a bit dramatic. Maybe another year would be more reasonable, but I am so terrified within that time that I will lose my passion for it. It’s happened to me before when life becomes overwhelming and the thought of writing and completing a novel feels daunting so I shut down. I know the difference this time around is I am far more committed to my writing; this being my 36th weekly post and counting. I know I need to live in the moment more and appreciate the small victories. I suppose it could be worse and I could have absolutely no inspiration; no story burning inside me to tell. I have lived through that horrid writer’s block many times throughout the years. That is not fun.

The holiday season is stressful for everyone: finding the perfect gifts, decorating the house just right, attending parties and events, finding time to reflect on the past year. Ultimately I know Christmas is supposed to be about family. It’s about sharing that day with my son, soaking up the small moments. He is still young enough that he doesn’t care about the presents under the tree (though I’m sure he’ll be happy) but he cares more about his Mommy and Daddy being there on the floor with him. He wants to snuggle near the fire with us and play our silly little games. In 33 days from now, after the day is done and the house is quiet again, I’ll put my head down on the pillow exhausted and think about the simple moments with my son. Those are what I will carry with me. So I guess when I start to feel stressed about trying to balance everything in my life and pushing my writing down to lowest priority, I will read this blog post again and remind myself. It’s okay. It’s okay to give myself a break for the next 33 days if I simply can’t find the time. My characters will survive in my mind until the new year…however spending time enjoying my son can’t wait. 

So I wish all of you good luck finding balance over the next month and accepting time is limited. I’m sorry if I rambled a bit in this post; I think I might be under a bit of stress. I ramble when I’m stressed.

Until next week!

❤ Melissa

When Years Have Elasped… Can You Really Go Back?

Back in timeHappy Friday everyone. I hope you had a good week and found some time to reflect on Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day for my US friends). I always make time to appreciate the sacrifice those soldiers made all those years ago and those today who are still sacrificing to make our world a better place. This kind of inspired my blog piece for this week because it reminded me of the novels I wrote when I was 17. 

I wrote a romance trilogy over the course of about two years, from 17-18. At the time, I was so excited that I completed three manuscripts and so sad when I finished them. I remember sitting at my computer screen typing the last words of my third novel and after I saw the words ‘the end’ I ended up crying. I cried happy and some sad tears because I knew my time with those characters had come to an end. After that emotional rollercoaster, I needed to take a break from it, so I left those books alone for years until one day I had an itch to edit them. I had some more writing experience under my belt by then; I’d taken a few college writing courses and felt like I was ready to make my return to them. Reading about five or six pages in, I realised they were horribly written and it was going to take some serious editing to get them where they needed to be. I think I tried for six months before I just couldn’t stand the book any longer. The plot events and character reactions were so far-fetched that no one would believe them. The grammar of the book was just as bad and quickly I became overwhelmed by the crappiness of my book, so I turned my back on it again. This happened several times over the course of ten years that I kept coming back to those stories and trying to fix them up piece by piece, but I couldn’t figure out why I would only grow more and more frustrated and never felt like I was getting anywhere. The crap book hole just seemed to get bigger and bigger every time I touched it. But just a few weeks ago I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. During one of the seminars I attended the instructor was talking about how he edits a book by telling us about a book he’d written years prior but just couldn’t bring himself to edit it because too much time had passed. He explained that the writer who wrote that book no longer existed. As years go back our writing evolves, we evolve and to try to go back and edit the words just doesn’t work. YES! Yes, it totally completely made sense. Every time I added a sentence or edited words, I was doing so as my current writer self, not as the 17-year-old writer. The only way to go back to those stories would be to rewrite them all over again from scratch and edit them to perfection soon after completing them. All the anger, frustration at myself I felt for trying and failing, it all got washed away. I wasn’t a failure because I couldn’t edit my story. Finally after all these years, I can just appreciate those stories for what they really were…. practice. I was practicing to be a romance novelist. I feel good now that they are a part of my history and don’t need to be in my present. One day, far in the future, I might get the courage up to rewrite them all over again, but if I don’t, I will always have those three novels, frozen in time, as only my 17-year-old self could write. Those books are my time machine to bring me back to those nights after school, typing furiously in my bedroom, for hours. Back when I had endless amounts of free time and much angst living inside me, ready to spill out on to the pages.

I can’t wait to read my blog posts in twenty years from now and admire how much farther my writing will develop. Maybe I’ll appreciate my angst-y 30-year-old self then too.

Til next week. 

❤ Melissa

Whistler Readers and Writers Festival

slider-festivalHappy Friday! Hope you all have had a good week. I have had an amazing couple weeks. At the beginning of October we spent eleven days in Maui relaxing on the beach then last weekend I spent in Whistler enjoying the Writers Festival.

This was my first writer’s festival and I didn’t really know what to expect, but I had my notebook ready in my hand and my mind open to learn. I started at 6am Friday morning driving up the treacherous Sea to Sky Highway. It was pitch black dark and pouring rain the whole drive up, but slowly I made it. My first seminar was The A to Z of Self Publishing with Martin Crosbie. After having his book turned down over one hundred and thirty times, he self-published his first novel and subsequently became an Amazon bestseller. The seminar was all about Crosbie sharing his tips and tricks on self publishing. He shared a lot of the things that he did wrong when he first went to self published his first novel; basically the what to do and not to do’s of self publishing. It was all day seminar which he mentioned he normally teaches in a weekend, so my head was overrun with great information. He provided great tips on using Amazon as your distributor. I’m still not sure if I’m going the self publishing route when I complete my novel but I definitely feel like I have a great head start on how to do it if I decide to.

On the Saturday my first seminar was writing descriptive prose with Steven Galloway, the director of the University of BC’s Creative Writing Program. He captured my attention with whole two hours with his advice on writing prose. He was funny, interesting and according to many people in the audience a brilliant writer. I, myself, haven’t read his work, but I did send one of his book’s to my Kindle to find out. My second seminar was ‘Good Writing is Rewriting’ with Charles Foran and I was looking forward to tips on editing and maybe some advice on how to appreciate it because I loathe doing it. (That’s a blog for another day.) I didn’t really get what I was hoping to from his lecture which was disappointing, but the one thing I took away from the class was I’m not the only one starts editing only to get frustrated and then quickly ends the editing session.

The last seminar for the day was a reading by four Canadian authors: Vincent Lam, Denise Roig, Kim Moritsugu, Ian Weir. They all read from their currents book and I have to say Vincent Lam was my favorite. His book, “The Headmaster’s Wager” really grabbed my attention and I actually downloaded the book because he left me wanting more.  I really enjoyed hearing the stories from the authors themselves because they brought the story to life with their love for the characters as they read it aloud.

Overall I had an amazing experience in Whistler. I have renewed inspiration to keep going with my writing. Maybe one day they’ll ask me to read from my story. One can only dream. Somehow listening to what everyone had to say over the weekend really concreted the fact that I am on the right track and now all I need to do is finish this book. And I will.

Thanks for taking time to read my words again. I hope you find inspiration during this weekend to encourage you to write or do whatever makes you happy. Until next week.

Stay tuned for my next book review next week and more detail blogs about the inspiration I got from the Whistler Writer’s Festival.

❤ Melissa

 *To find out more about any of the people I wrote about today, click on their names to visit their websites.

Charlotte Kitley’s Final Words

Happy Friday again. Hope you are doing well. This week I’d like to dedicate this blog to Charlotte Kitley, a writer for the Huffington Post UK and blogger of  http://lifeasasemi-colon.blogspot.co.uk/.

If I am being perfectly honest, I hadn’t heard about Charlotte or read any of her work until after she passed away a few weeks ago. I actually happened to be scrolling through status updates on Facebook when I stumbled upon a Huffington Post recommendation to read the last article she wrote; well more accurately, her husband posted her last words after she passed away. You can find her last post in its entirety here http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/charlotte-kitley/bowel-cancer-charlotte-kitley_b_5836238.html

Something about the title, “And so there must come an end”, grabbed hold on my attention and refused to let go until I read it. Her words were so beautiful, so tragic. I was crushed and inspired by what she said all at the same time. The first thing that struck me was the fact she was 36, had a husband and 2 children and was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. 36, she was 36! Only a few years older than I am right now. She faced the horrible truth that most of us couldn’t bare to think about happening to us; she was told she was going to die. As a mother, I couldn’t imagine the devastation I would feel knowing I would never see my son grow up.  “And so I leave a gaping, unjust, cruel and pointless hole… I have so much life I still want to live, but know I won’t have that.”, are her words from the last post she wrote before she passed. By this point in her post, I was already crying, yet sadness was not the message she wanted to portray. Hope and a love of life was her message. “So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life.  Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it… Life has a lot of grey and sadness – look for that rainbow and frame it. There is beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it.”

I didn’t know this woman before at all, but I found her words inspiring and so brave. Her final thought, besides obviously her love of her family was to remind all the rest of us that life is frail, precious and to never take it for-granted. I am tearing up just thinking about it right now. I am in awe that she didn’t say, ‘why me, why now’ and be angry and resentful- all the emotions I certainly would not fault her for. It is senseless for anyone young and with so much life still yet to live to be taken from this world all too soon. Instead of being bitter, she ended her blog post with humor, “And when you close your curtains tonight, look out for a star, it will be me, looking down, sipping a pina colada, enjoying a box of (very expensive) chocolates.”

I didn’t know her, but her story and her words touched me deeply and for that I felt I had to share her story to spread her message of living and loving life as hard as you can while you can. I hope you will go to her website http://lifeasasemi-colon.blogspot.co.uk/, read her words and maybe they will remind you as they did for me that life is short, most of the time against our will, too short. Never ever, take a single breath for-granted. I treasure every second of this difficult yet profound life. It truly is a gift.

Thank you Charlotte Kitley for sharing your story with me and for your encouraging words. I promise to hold my son a little tighter, a little longer and as often as I can. My thoughts will be with your family and I wish them strength in this very difficult time.

If you want to know more about Charlotte, her bio  can be found here- http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/charlotte-kitley/

Thank you for reading and connecting with me again this week. I wish you a very happy weekend, spent with your loved ones, embracing life for all it’s worth.

Until next week.

❤ Melissa

 

My No TV Challenge

couchpotatoHello everyone out there, hope you are doing well. As always, thank you for checking in with me. What is new with me you ask? Well for a long while now I have felt completely under the gun with laundry list of fun and not so fun activities we have had planned and some how I find myself scrambling often at the last-minute to get things done in time. I thought I had pretty good time management skills, so I figured it came down to too many things in my life. What to do? I guess I have to eliminate something. Hmm.. that was difficult because I didn’t really want to get rid of anything I had planned. After a week of contemplating every day of what I should do, I came up with the only answer I could think of. TV had to go. Yes, I was taking a no TV two-week challenge to test myself and whether I could free up some time to get my other tasks done. The few people I have told about it first gasped and then said you’re crazy… how will you relax then? Good point- I do enjoy turning my brain off at the end of the day and just watching a great TV show. Really by the time we’ve had dinner, cleaned up, done bedtime routine with our son and then packed lunches for the next day we only get about an hour of TV during the week nights. Still if I took that hour to write a blog post or read a couple of chapters of a book then I’d both be relaxed and ahead of the game. One problem I’ve encountered this week though is I am not home at night until late or my hubby isn’t home til late which means I’ve had to do all the nighttime routine myself, so really I have yet to gain any time to get myself ahead. This weekend I’m away for a bachelorette party weekend and next week the hubby is away fishing… so the ironic part is I haven’t actually had a chance to sit down and be tempted to watch TV and don’t foresee much of a chance next week either. Ha, ha, ha! So all I do is laugh to myself. I guess I’ve learned TV isn’t much of a priority in my life, but it is the summer time and there isn’t anything on TV anyway. I might as well watch TV when I can because obviously I do take on too much and have little time to watch TV any way. Not willing to give up on busy schedule just yet, I’ll just keep thinking that I’ll rest when I’m dead until then I guess I’ll keep living every minute, full steam ahead.

Unless of course you wise people out there, have any advice to offer me? Is everyone else always on the run trying to balance everything and get it all done? I sure hope so!

Well here’s hoping to find some balance this weekend. Until next week!

❤ Melissa

Karma… she’s after me.

Happy Friday once again! Hope all of you are doing well. I have a feeling this post is going to be a short one because it’s Thursday at 2:00pm and I’m just sitting down to write this and my son will probably wake up soon. I am under the gun big time! I have a huge lists of things to do and feeling like time just slips right through my fingers. My list keep growing because- well that’s where the karma comes in. The past few weeks have been rough and I have been feeling so negative. There have been obstacles I have been fighting, parking issues at work, conflicting feelings within myself, anger being one. Our car broke down a few weeks ago and we spent a bunch of money getting that fixed only for our washing machine to crap out this week. Now I have huge piles of laundry I need to cart else where to wash there. I have a child; I have a lot of laundry and I’m short on time.

I have always been a believer of you get back what you put out in the world, so I am taking full responsibility for putting out anger and frustration. The world has presented situations to test my character and I am up to the challenge. I am done being mad and sad, so I figured the only what to stop bad things coming my way is to put out positivity. I am going to be doing random acts of kindness over the next while. I might even try to stop yelling and fingering people when I am stuck in rush hour traffic and they can’t drive worth shit. I will smile and say it’s okay that life has thrown my family some curve balls because it is just money. It isn’t important. We have our health and our happiness and that is enough. I have the support of my family and friends who I don’t tell enough that each of you are always in my thoughts. Every single day I am grateful to have the best friends and the best families, most people aren’t as lucky as I am. I am surrounded by so many people who would drop everything and give anything if I asked and even if I didn’t. I have the most precious perfect son who melts my heart just by one smile. The world can burn down around me and I wouldn’t care as long as I could hold him in my arms and listen to his laughter. I have the most supportive, loving husband and I often sit and wonder what I did so right in my life to deserve someone so wonderful. I am sorry I don’t tell him that enough.

So I take these rough couples weeks as the world reminding me, I have so much greatness in my life and I haven’t been working hard enough to return the goodness out in the world. I will do better. I will spend less time complaining about the bad things and more time being thankful for all the good. Like you… thank you, yes you for reading my words. Your support means everything to me. I am honoured that with the infinite amount of blogs, websites, social media apps, you choose to come back every week and see what I have to say. I wish you all good karma in your lives. TGIF! With that I must go, my son is calling me. I guess this post wasn’t so short after all. 🙂

Off to find a working washing machine… um… yay?! See I’m being all positive already…

Have a happy, safe weekend filled with laughter and love.

❤ Melissa