Category Archives: Revelations & Humor

Walk the Walk #fashion #charity #dtwl

I’ll be walking the runway tomorrow for Dare to Wear Love. If you want to know more about my involvement, you can read about it here.

Normally, for such a swanky event, I would need to find an outfit to wear. Since I’m part of the fashion show, however, I’m fortunate to have something custom made for me!

The amazing Farley Chatto designed my dress, and I had the pleasure of trying it on earlier this week.

I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s fabulous. Made from six yards of African fabric in colours I would never choose for myself, it’s a complete departure from my all-black wardrobe. Farley calls it “naughty goodness” as he juxtapositions African fabric with Italian lamb leather! My dress is the one in the middle. The other two are also being worn by winners of the Dare to Wear Love Challenge.

I’m having my hair attended to by one of two masters in the craft—Brian Phillips of World Salon and John Taccone of Navigate Salon. MAC Cosmetics will take care of my make-up. Even my jewellery will be looked after by Rita Tesolin.

The only thing I had to get were shoes. Farley told me early on to get a pair of heels, not the chunky heels I’m used to wearing, but the tall, skinny heels. The higher the heel, the better it would show off my legs and the dress, which sits just above my knees.

And I definitely wanted to do that, but … Yikes!

Recently, I wore my highest, skinniest heels for the Toronto International Porn Festival. They are two inches. I was able to walk in them, albeit not for long stretches at a time. 

You’re talking about a girl who lives in sneakers, after all! These are my beat-up runners on the car’s dashboard. Heh.

“Walk the walk” is almost always said in combination with “talk the talk.” It’s an alternative to old sayings such as “Talk is cheap,” or “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s quite fitting as the title of this post.

After weeks of raising money for the event and “talking” about it on social media, I finally have to walk it. Less than a minute’s worth of stepping one foot in front of the other shouldn’t be too difficult, right?

Plus I’ve done it once before.

The difference last time was I walked in boots with wide heels. My floor-length skirt covered my boots, so it didn’t matter what I wore on my feet, really.

This time …

Three inches! Count them—One, Two, Threeeee inches!

I practised walking up and down my driveway after watching some “How to walk in high heels” videos. Pretty sad, right?

Anyway, I managed to scuff up the soles a bit for better grip, and I even surprised myself with how steadily I walked. The test will be tomorrow evening when I take to the runway.

Just when I was feeling more confident, a friend sent me this video.

It actually did make me feel better. I mean … there is no way I’m going to be this bad, and these are professional models!

Join me if you can tomorrow night. It’s fashion for fun, hope, and a great cause. There are limited tickets available as the event is close to being sold out.

An incredible amount of love and work goes into producing the Dare to Wear Love event, and I want to thank everyone who has supported me with a donation or encouraged me on social media.

Wish me luck and that I stay upright!

eden 

XX

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Toning my Mind, Body, and Time Travel (Part 2) #Bali #Ubud

Welcome to the fourth instalment of my Mind Body Series. If you missed the first three, you can start reading here. The series is about my efforts to unite mind, body, and spirit to inspire my writing.

I started writing this blog while in Indonesia. I have since returned home. What an amazing trip!

Here are some final thoughts on my time in Ubud, which encompasses changes I encountered in Bali from the last time I was there in 1988.

Postcards—The Internet of the Past

The Internet was in its infancy when I was traveling around Asia almost thirty years ago. For all intents and purposes, it didn’t exist. To stay in touch, one of the first things I did when I arrived at a new destination was pick up a stack of postcards and spend a couple of hours writing them. The process helped me acclimatize to my surroundings and lay down thoughts on my travels while planning next steps. I had a list of about twenty people to write, including family, friends, and acquaintances I had met along the way.

Writing postcards was not just a responsible travel ritual.

I did not pen: “Hi, I’m here in XYZ city. Alive and well!” on all my cards. No, each one was personalized.

Even though it was one-way communication, postcards helped me maintain friendships and forge new ones.

bali postcard

In my two years away, I must have sent close to 200 postcards. My only regret was that I didn’t send one to myself each time I posted them. Along with my photographs, they would’ve added another dimension to my scrapbook.

Fast forward to this trip and I can hardly remember when the Internet did not exist.

En route to Ubud, I connected with loved ones at each juncture—each time I landed at a different airport until arrival at my final destination. Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter made it easy. I no longer had to write a note to each person. I could provide an update of my whereabouts and what I was doing en masse.

It was quick and easy, but it did not have the personal investment of postcards. As much as I love the Internet and its ability for near instant communication, it lacks for something. Perhaps I’m a romantic. I still like writing letters and cards on occasion.

Even now, postcards are available if I want to buy and send them, but the process seems like more effort than it’s worth. For a short trip, coupled with slow postal service, postcards probably won’t make it to the addressee until I’m already home.

For most people (and me included) *sigh*, the Internet has replaced postcards as the touchpoint along one’s journey.

Hostels and Hotels

Hostels were a great place to meet other travelers especially when backpacking on my own. I never felt like I was alone and the normally small facilities meant I would make friends, usually over breakfast or while using shared facilities.

This type of accommodation was perfect for a twenty-something on a budget. I don’t remember exactly where I stayed in Ubud so long ago, but it couldn’t have been more than $4 a night.

This go-round, I didn’t exactly stay at the Ritz, but it was luxury by comparison. I had a large room, king-sized bed, and a washroom I didn’t have to share with anyone! Breakfast was included as was a pool, and housekeeping was excellent. Space and privacy was what I valued during my stay at Gana Restaurant and Villa.

If you’re thinking of going to Ubud, consider booking Gana, located centrally and within walking distance to many attractions. The best way to book is via Anita’s Airbnb Listings. She has multiple places listed with different price points.

gana staff 2

The friendly and helpful staff at Gana!

Monkeys—Then and Now

Below are pictures of me in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary back in ’88.

bali me and monkey 1 I was feeding peanuts to the Balinese long-tailed macaques and recall them being quite timid. They didn’t mind sitting with me for a while before scampering off.
bali_monkey-2

For this trip, I brought with me a a bag of unshelled peanuts again. Unfortunately, visitors to the forest can no longer feed the monkeys certain foods—peanuts being one of them. The caretakers maintain a strict diet with the monkeys, which consists of sweet potato, bananas, coconut and other fruit. It’s understandable for the continued health of the monkeys.

monkey forest sign

Instead of feeding them nuts, I gave them bananas purchased inside the Forest. Several monkeys approached and snatched the fruit immediately. They were no longer willing to sit and have a chat. 😉

monkey forest 3

There are now more than 600 monkeys living in the area. This has more than doubled since I was last there. Along with the population growth, the monkeys now seem more brazen. I can’t help but think it’s due to the continued interaction with tourists.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-7-47-37-pm

One of the guidelines states: Do not make eye contact with the monkeys. They see this as a sign of aggression.

And yes, there are stories of how monkeys bite, scratch, and jump on tourists.

The amount of interaction between humans and monkeys did seem too intimate at times. I saw tourists posing with monkeys using their selfie sticks, the monkeys on their heads and shoulders. I was only too happy to observe from afar.

monkey-forest-roots

A photo opportunity with a monkey did not interest me, as I wanted my presence to be as non intrusive as possible.

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-7-43-15-pm

Along with monkeys, there are 115 separate species of trees and three temples inside the Forest. With its moss-covered statues and hanging tree roots, the Forest is an amazing place to walk through.

monkey forest temple

Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal or the “Main Temple,” built around 1350

Toilets, Toilet Paper and Why the Hose? 

When I was first in Indonesia, I was terribly naive about many things. The first time I walked into a public toilet, I was shocked to find nothing more than a hole in the ground. No toilet paper.

Luckily for me, I always traveled with a small packet of tissues, so I was able to take care of myself that time. Later, I learned the lay of the land as far as toilets were concerned.

If you’re squeamish about bodily functions, this is a warning not to read further.

In Asia, travelers spoke incessantly of their bowel movements. Whether you were constipated or had diarrhea was a topic of conversation at breakfast. I quickly got over my shyness around the subject, and to this day, I have no issue talking about poo to anyone at anytime. (Not that too many of my friends want to talk about this anyway!).

There are several iterations of the Indonesian toilet. In the one I first experienced, a ceramic basin filled with water and a bucket stood next to the toilet. The idea was to use the bucket to scoop water from the basin and clean yourself—with your left hand only. (I’ll talk about this distinction of hands shortly). You would also use the water to flush contents down the bowl.

Below is a pretty fancy version of these toilets. The one I remember was simply a hole with no decorative ceramic tile. I’m not sure why the water is brown in this picture, but it should be clean water from the spigot.

squat toilet

With regards to cleaning yourself with your left hand only, I learned this when I was introduced to an Indonesian man and extended my left hand in greeting. He was polite but did not shake my hand.

As the left hand is used for cleaning yourself, you would never touch a stranger with it. Also, Indonesians eat traditional meals with their hands, and only the right hand is used to pick up food.

On this trip, my hotel had a Western-style toilet along with a handheld hose—a bidet, if you will. I saw more and more of these bidet hoses in public restrooms.

toilet with hose The hose is attached to the seat and activated by a button or knob, or in some toilets, it is mounted to the wall. In any case, it’s a step up from using the bucket. The idea is simple: After you finish your business, you would hose yourself while sitting on the toilet. Because I had good water pressure at my hotel, I didn’t need to clean myself with my hand.

The hotel also provided toilet paper, which I used sparingly to dab myself dry after applying the hose. A full roll of paper is only about a quarter of what you would get in the West.

Toilet paper is expensive, and the sewer system is not equipped for flushing copious amounts of it.

It takes some adjustment and coordination, but I like the idea of cleaning with water. It’s much more hygienic than just using toilet paper.

Food and Drink

I LOVE Indonesian food.

I had opportunity to eat at some fantastic warungs this trip. These small, family-owned businesses serve traditional food, and are usually housed in modest dwellings, though some can be quite large.

trad-food The food is normally a simple combination of rice, meat or fish, and a vegetable. Along with a drink and shrimp chips, you can have a filling meal for less than $3.00.

trad-food-2

What makes the meals delicious are the spices, usually a combination of chilli, turmeric, garlic, and ginger. Curries are also a big part of Indonesian cuisine.

curry

On one of my last days in Ubud, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party with many other women. It was a veritable feast that lasted over three hours. Thank you Ednawati!

I tried a shaved ice dessert made with fruit, grass jelly, and sweet and condensed milk called Es Campur.

me holding es campur

I never thought I would be able to eat the entire bowl, but I did. It was so delicious! I couldn’t finish the birthday cake though, but it was also very good.

dessert-and-drinkYoung coconuts were abundant, and since it’s a super food, I could not get enough of them. The juice from one coconut filled me for hours.

coconuts

Wine is expensive in Indonesia, given it is imported and there isn’t much variety. I’m also not much of a beer drinker. As such, I drank hot tea most days, particularly green tea, which I am addicted to! I found an amazing brand of it at Kakiang Bakery near my hotel and bought three bags to take home.

Now I have to find out how to replenish my supply once it’s finished! green-tea

On this trip, I tried something I’ve never had before—Kopi Luwak coffee. If you are unfamiliar with this coffee, it is the most expensive coffee in the world.

Why? The unusual production process.

The coffee beans (which are actually seeds) are digested by the Indonesian cat-like animal called the civet cat (known as luwaks in Indonesia). The feces of the cat/luwak are collected by farmers, processed, and then sold as Kopi Luwak.

Cat poo coffee.

civet-coffee

I told you I had no qualms talking about poo. Heh.

So, did I like it?

To frame my response, remember I’m a lover of green tea. I’ve also been off coffee for several months, so my taste for it is not discerning, by any stretch.

I drank the Kopi Luwak black, which is what you’re supposed to do in order to experience the unique flavour.

Truth is … I didn’t hate it, but that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement!

kopi luwak

Kopi Luwak is very rich, as you can see from the residue around the cup.

I tried not to disturb the coffee as I drank it, but once I got near the bottom, it became too thick to continue.

My best analysis of the flavour is it’s a blend of dark chocolate and dark coffee with a smooth, nutty aftertaste. Given I usually take my coffee with a bit of cream, I expected it to be bitter. Surprisingly, it wasn’t bitter at all.

My recommendation is you try it once and make up your own mind. Indonesia is certainly the place to do it.

Travel with Purpose

When I traveled to Bali and Asia in the late eighties, the purpose was to explore the world. With an open ticket and no set timeline, I started in Hong Kong and meandered from there. I had a simple formula—when my funds ran out, I would return home.

Indonesia was not on my radar when I started my journey, but it manifested as I met other travelers along the way.

bali_Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah, 1988

The only purpose of that trip was to expand my realm of experience and my mind. The power of travel helped mould me into the person I am today.

festival banner

On this trip, I planned my stay around the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. The festival saw numerous speakers come together for a five-day event to discuss writing, books, and issues affecting the world today.

open-dance-for-fest

The festival began with a traditional Balinese welcome dance.

The theme – Tat Tvam Asi: ‘I am you, you are me’ – created a strong focus for the conversations.

eden at the festival

One of the most entertaining speakers I met was Delhi-based author, Mayank Austen Soofi. (You have to love a man who chooses his middle name after his favorite author!).

He writes a popular blog called The Delhi Walla. I attended a couple of his panels, one in which he shared the stage with three other authors.

His approach was decidedly different from the others.

How so?

He didn’t try to sell his books by obnoxiously mentioning them while answering questions from the moderator.

Indie authors like myself who do it all, including promote our work will understand why this is so important. Nobody wants to listen to someone who screams: “Buy my book!” at every turn. In the age of social media, over-selling is easy to do, but it won’t work. Seasoned authors know that selling a book does not mean flogging it to death.

Mr. Soofi’s responses, infused with enthusiasm, warmth, and wit sold his book.

nobody can love you moreFor this reason, I feel fortunate to have received a copy of Mr. Soofi’s book, Nobody Can Love You More. It is an account in words and photographs of life in Delhi’s red light district. He was gracious enough to sign the book for me, and I look forward to reading it.

mayank sign book

Writing, yoga, and sightseeing made up the other days of my stay in Ubud. Instead of telling you about it, I’ve attached a slideshow. You will see for yourself why Ubud, Bali is one of the most magical places on earth.

Thank you for reading. Now that I’ve returned from Bali, my Mind Body Series will tackle other areas of my life. I hope you continue to join me as I explore this curious time in my life.

~eden

Approximately 30 pictures

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Pieces of You in Ubud #poem #Bali

A poem for my husband on the occasion of his birthday.

* * *

John,

Thank you for being who you are, for granting me precious time and space … for Ubud.

In return, this is my gift to you,

eden
xox

* * *

Pieces of You in Ubud

 

I walk the streets of Ubud and discover pieces of you
In the cracks of broken tile pavements
Across ill-fitting, metal sewer grates
Your spirit rises to greet me like incense to the gods

Faded signs of cafés and hotels line a main road
Veering toward alleyways filled with unknown treasures
You pull me close for a moment or two
To breathe in the wonder of a new day

Appeasing and pleasing gods and demons
Begins a daily ritual in Bali
Devotional gifts of flower petals and frangipani
Adorn sidewalks, shrines, and statues

You walk with me in harmony
Careful not to step on the canangs
The day is young and the hustle has just begun
You hypnotize at every turn

 

I meander the streets of Ubud and find traces of you
In statues wrapped with black and white checkered cloth
In the sweet fragrance of incense permeating the air
You guide me through narrow walkways hand in hand

I sidestep a dog that is too hot or too tired to move
Or maybe he is just claiming his space
You escort me to the edge of shattered crossroads
Where I look right, then left, then right again

A rumble quickly escalates to a roar
In the tangle of vehicles that defines Ubud traffic
A chaotic racetrack unfurls from around the bend
Unleashing a blur of motorbikes and vans

“Wait …” you whisper in a cautionary voice
I feel the squeeze of your hand as you inch me forward
The dust and noise settle down, a fleeting calm
Just the break needed to run to the opposite side

 

I weave through the streets of Ubud and remember pieces of you
In the voices of young women offering a massage
In a bakery window filled with chocolates and sweets
Your essence surrounds me like a favorite sarong

A gentle rain falls in the early evening
Merchants pull in their wares and clapboard signs
Backpackers scurry to find shelter
I seek refuge under my latest possession

A monsoon hits, third one in a less than a week
The downpour floods the streets within seconds
I skip over puddles with unsteady footing
My flip-flops are soaked, yet again

You navigate me around a minefield of gaping holes
Loose rocks and debris float toward overflowing gutters
I squelch my way toward my hotel
And silently thank you for my umbrella

 

I travel the town of Ubud and conjure up images of you
In the faces of men who call out “Taxi?” as I walk by
In swathes of brilliant green rice fields as far as the eye can see
You tug at my heart until I choke with tears

Ubud …

You cast your spell on mortals and spiritual beings
Lay bare the knowledge of your ancient wisdom
You tempt
Like the graceful sway of a Balinese woman
You inspire
With the mystery of the Sacred Monkey Forest
You arouse passions and fulfillment of passions
Pieces of you live inside of me
And they always will

* * *


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Toning my Mind, Body, and Time Travel (Part 1)

Welcome to the third instalment of my Mind Body Series. If you missed the first two, you can start reading here. The series is about my efforts to unite both mind and body to inspire my writing.

I’m currently in Bali, Indonesia. Travel is a passion for me, and I haven’t been to Asia since 1988. It was time to return.

For this post, I’ll highlight a few things that have changed since my last trip.

Checking Luggage

My flights to Bali were without incident … but for one issue—I’ll get to that in a minute. I originally booked to fly to Denpasar via Beijing and Singapore. With connection times, it would’ve taken me over 33 hours. I found a better route a few days before the trip. It cut my travel time to less than 29 hours, flying Toronto—Houston—Taipei—Denpasar.

I never fly Air Canada because it’s too expensive, but I was traveling on points and it was worth making the change. Air Canada would fly me to Houston and EVA Airways (the Hello Kitty airline based in Taiwan) would take me to Taipei and my final destination.

eva airways

The AC flight was uneventful, and I slept part of the way. When I got off the plane to catch my connecting flight, I thought I heard my name over the intercom. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Houston is an enormous airport with multiple terminals. I only had 75 minutes to catch the next flight. As I waited for the airport train to take me from Terminal A to D, my name sounded over the speaker again.

I couldn’t catch the garbled message. A slight panic set in. Who was calling me and why?

At that moment, the airport train arrived. There was nothing I could do but go forward.

When I arrived at Terminal D, I immediately went to the EVA Airways counter and asked if they had paged me. The attendant confirmed she had. The reason? She wanted to give me EVA’s official boarding passes and vouchers for the lounge.

I didn’t even know I had the privilege of a lounge. Bonus … and relief!

It was past midnight, and there was a giant buffet in the lounge. People were piling food on their plates, but I couldn’t eat. I watched CNN’s ongoing recap of the last Presidential debate. An announcement for pre-boarding sounded shortly thereafter. I was anxious to board the 16-hour flight to Taipei.

Queued up for the gate, I felt pretty good until the attendant scanned my boarding pass and asked me to step aside.

Now what?

Another attendant’s worried look told me it was not good news. She asked me to sign a form absolving EVA Airways of any fault. Apparently, they could not find my one piece of checked luggage. It was supposed to be delivered to them by Air Canada, but they never received it.

luggage

I would have to fly to Bali without it.

There was no time to think, even less time to be upset. While in the air, I tried not to fret, but I did use the plane’s WIFI to send a note to a friend. Perhaps he could do some investigative work for me before I landed.

Long story short, my luggage never made it out of Toronto. I thought it was misplaced in the transfer, but Air Canada had not even loaded it on to the their own plane! Several e-mail exchanges with my friend revealed my suitcase was en route to Houston. It was leaving 24 hours after I did.

In the two years I traveled around Asia back in 1988, no airline ever lost my luggage, and I took a lot of flights back then.

Time has not improved the transport of luggage.

Indonesian Currency

I’m a millionaire here in Indonesia!

Back in 1988, the exchange rate was 1 USD = 1,665 Rupiahs.

Today, 1 USD is approximately 13,000 Rupiahs. it means $500 US equals $6,507,493 Rupiahs. That’s a lot of zeros.

The currency has devalued over the years, with the 100,000 note now worth about $8 USD or $10 Canadian dollars.

idr currency

An interesting note: I was told that Indonesia changes its money every five years. That could mean a change in denominations, removing old notes, adding new ones, or other changes.idr currencies

Recording my trip

It’s hard to believe I carried around 50 rolls of film and a camera the size of a small appliance when I was last in Bali. I still have my old 35mm Minolta with its zoom lens.

camera

Film camera vs camera i-Phone

The camera served me well and took some great pictures, but it weighed a ton. I was self-conscious of its size in countries where photography was not consistently welcome. The Balinese are a modest people and do not always want their picture snapped.

Today, convenience is key. I take pictures with both my phone and a small digital camera.

Music

Remember this?

walkman

It’s a Walkman, akin to today’s MP3 players such as iPods, except that it plays cassettes.

Today, I don’t travel with an MP3 player. I no longer consider it a necessity to be constantly plugged in. I listen to music on my laptop when I’m working (not writing).

I haven’t thrown away my Walkman. Maybe I should donate it to a museum, along with all my cassettes?

Travel Information

I love books and that goes for travel books too. One of the great pleasures for me was always in the planning of the trip. Travel books were excellent guides to help with the process. Well … no more.

travel-books

Now, with the Internet, I can book a hotel online and research anything I care to know about a destination before I get there. For instance, I’m staying at a terrific hotel called Gana Restaurant and Villa, which I found on AirBnB.

gana

Since the Internet allows for so much available information, I am able to customize my searches and create the holiday I want. No longer is it necessary to carry maps and books to locate landmarks and other places of interest, though I still keep a blank notebook for recording interesting facts.

Thank you for reading. I hope you will join me for Part 2 of this Time Travel instalment for Mind Body Series. I’ll be writing it this coming week.

 

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Toning my Mind, Body, and a Trip to Bali

Welcome to the second instalment of my Mind Body Series. If you missed the first one, Toning my Mind, Body and Breasts, you can read it here. It provides a basis for the series.

For this post, I’m tackling a few topics: My upcoming trip to Indonesia (specifically Bali); writer’s block; and travel as inspiration.

But first, a few facts about Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation.

map of indonesia

Indonesia is home to more than 17,000 islands in each of its 34 provinces. With a population of 260 million (dated: July 2016), it is the world’s fourth most populous country after China, India, and the United States. My flight to Bali by way of Beijing and Singapore will take about 22 hours from Toronto.

With wait times for connections added in, it will be 33 hours before I land in Denpasar, the capital city of Bali.

I traveled around Indonesia in 1988 as part of a trip I took across Southeast Asia. Here I was on the most exquisite white-sand beach in Lombok.

lombok beach

That was nearly thirty years ago, but I’ve never forgotten the beauty of the country and the people I met there.

I knew I would return to this part of the world someday, but what would call me back?

As it turns out, several things did. In my first post, I talked about health concerns which forced me to make some changes. I started a regimen of Chinese herbs, continued to meditate, and took up yoga. I’m in better shape now than I was twenty years ago; I lost ten pounds without even trying, and I feel terrific.

It was all good, except … my writing was stuck.

Stranger at Sunset released in 2014. It was the first of a 3-book trilogy, but books 2 and 3 are not finished. A bit of introspection uncovered the following thoughts, which of all things, involved the concept of input and output.

My mind is a mystery, even to me.

input output

My thinking went something like this. As with all things that require an ‘output’— correct and adequate ‘input’ must first feed the brain. A series of steps known collectively as a ‘process’ then creates an output. If the output is not as expected, it only makes sense to go back to the source and ask: Is something missing from or wrong with the input?

For example, if my pipes leak, I engage the services of a plumber. If the leak persists, it’s due to bad input. Either the plumber used incorrect or faulty parts, or the problem was misdiagnosed, resulting in a flawed process to fix it. Whatever it is, the desired result is not achieved.

Why am I using this odd plumber analogy?

Because once upon a time, in an over-simplified attempt to dismiss writer’s block, I wrote: “Plumbers don’t have plumber’s block, so why do writers have writer’s block?”

Unlike plumbing though, writing is deeply entangled with an author’s personal identity. The inability to produce undoubtedly creates angst. This in turn, can paralyze the process of writing altogether.

So … as much as I hate to admit it, writer’s block is real. I had to eat my words.

eat your words

I initially treated my block as emotional noise, something I could banish by continuing to write. I produced novellas and short stories, but I could not move forward with my series, no matter how hard I tried.

My block was specific. I couldn’t defeat it with enthusiasm and discipline.

I beat myself up mentally until I realized I had to change my input if I wanted a different outcome.

When I purposely shifted away from negative thoughts, I created space for opportunity. That’s when I came upon a festival—in Ubud, Bali.

ubud writers fest

I was familiar with the festival but had always dismissed it. The cost of airfare and distance to get there made the trip prohibitive. I never gave it a second thought. This time, I thought twice, so I decided to explore the pros and cons of making the journey.

Pros:

(1) Travel lifts my spirit and imagination to a new high.

(2) Parts of my next two books are set in Asia. Firsthand research is the best, whenever possible.

(3) Ubud is the cultural heart of Bali filled with temples, galleries, and local markets—an inspiring place like no other.

(4) Numerous yoga studios are located in Ubud, so I can keep up my practice while there.

(5) The aforementioned Writers and Readers Festival.

Cons:

Hmm …

Aside from the cost and distance, I really had no cons.

I chose to make the trip because ultimately, it was an investment in me and my writing. And the two are inextricably linked.

From the moment I booked the trip, my imagination went into overdrive. I won’t make empty promises about when I will finish my books, but I do know this … I’m excited and I’m writing, and I look forward to returning to Bali to recharge my batteries.

Stay tuned for the next instalment of my Mind Body Series when I’ll be writing to you while en route to Beijing. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing on a 16-hour flight. 🙂

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Toning my Mind, Body, and Breasts

I hope you’re here for my mind and not my breasts. 😉

The title is a bit misleading, so allow me to elaborate.

Over the next month (possibly longer), I’ll be blogging about my mind, body, and … something else. I’m calling it the Mind Body Series. The “something else” is a by-product of the work I’ve been doing to improve myself mentally and physically.

For this post, I’ll talk about toning my mind and body and only touch on my breasts.

Hmm … that didn’t sound right. What I mean is, I won’t be offering any tips on how to make your breasts perkier or firmer, in case that’s why you stopped by.

As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (USA | Canada | UK), it’s important that I highlight this worthy cause in any way I can. Since I was diagnosed in 2000, both detection and treatment have improved significantly for those with breast cancer.

It’s encouraging to read about the progress over the years and know this disease may someday be eradicated—in my lifetime.

breast cancer awareness month

The stuttered beginning of this post provides a small indication for how I’ve been feeling the past two years—hesitant and unfocused. It’s affected every area of my life, most notably my writing. I’ve pushed ahead as best as I can, but it’s been a difficult time not knowing how long the lethargy would last.

In essence, when would my mind bounce back to the way it was—to when it was sharp and clear, without the filter of cobwebs behind a thick fog, buried under a rock?

See? I need major help with my metaphors too.

empty brain

On paper, my thoughts were dysfunctional and incomprehensible to me. Others did not seem to think so, but I’ve always been my own worst critic. The words rang hollow. At times, I felt like my brain was empty of thought. This, of course, was impossible. What offered me small comfort was knowing that I can write. I had proof of it in my previous books even though my perception of my writing had changed. When I used to read my old work, I would think: “Ha! I can write better than that now!” and feel good that I had improved.

Now, I did not recognize myself in my writing. I felt like an imposter, which wasn’t all that different from how I felt when I first started writing fulltime. Call it self-doubt or a crisis of confidence, but whatever it was, it gripped me in a headlock and was not letting go.

For the better part of this year, I’ve limited my blog to music posts and author promotions. I figured I couldn’t mess those up too much. Penning an original and personal post had become increasingly difficult. I wrote the last one when I returned from my grandmother’s funeral, and that was nearly ten months ago.

If it were not for R.B. Wood’s WordCount Podcast and Toby Neal’s Lei Crime KindleWorlds series, I would not have done much creative writing at all. Both of them gave me opportunities to write—at least in the short fiction format.

Regardless of how I felt, it was important that I kept up a daily writing ritual, so I turned into a robotic vomiter of words for the sake of meeting word count.

word vomit

I tried to maintain discipline, anchoring myself in the knowledge that these words were not without merit. The problem was, none of them were in the proper order for my next book—A Fragile Truce, which was to follow Stranger at Sunset, released 2014.

I had planned to launch the second book less than a year later, followed by book three shortly after that.

The pressure to meet my deadline prompted me to withdraw from social media for a while, but that didn’t help.

What was happening to me?

Was it the dreaded writer’s block (which I had vehemently denied even existed?)

writer's block

Or was it something more sinister?

Following a couple of trips to see my doctor, he diagnosed me as severely anemic. My iron level was non-existent and my blood pressure so low he was surprised I didn’t faint. I was 50 at the time. It made sense I would be experiencing hormonal fluctuation and other symptoms of life change. Still, I never thought it would affect me with such intensity—to the point where both my mind and body felt foreign to me.

I know every woman goes through this, and some I’ve spoken to have much worse symptoms than me. I was also reminded that fifteen years ago, my oncologist told me there might be lingering effects from my chemo treatment. I guess I had chosen to ignore that little piece of information. Unfortunately, it was impossible to ignore the connection between changes in my body and how it affected my ability to communicate – both verbally and via the written word. I never used to struggle to find the right words. Now, It’s on the tip of my tongue syndrome occurred more often than I cared to admit. My vocabulary plummeted, which meant writing took longer since I needed to consult a Thesaurus more often.

Something had to change, but what?

meditator

Since my mid twenties, I’ve meditated regularly, which I owe to saving my mind from becoming even more erratic than it already was. What I didn’t realize was the process of stilling my mind (sitting for long periods in meditation) was not fully serving me at this stage in my life—not physically anyway.

I’ve never really had to exercise. Moderate physical activity was enough to keep me in good shape, but I knew I needed to do more. I felt sluggish and heavy. I couldn’t sleep.

In February, against my doctor’s wishes, I decided not to take iron supplements and instead, started a regimen of Chinese herbs. They have helped me regain much of my energy. I don’t have that lethargic feeling anymore, and best yet, my foggy brain cleared up as well.

chinese herbal concoction

Concoction of dates, goji berries, and dong quai

I also did something opposite to what my doctor recommended. He wanted me to take it easy with exercise. I understood his rationale, but I listened to my body, and my body told me it needed to move. It needed to move A LOT. I felt manic when I made the decision to join a hot yoga studio in the neighbourhood, like I had been on ice for far too long.

5-lb-dumbbell

I started going to classes two, three, then five times a week. One of the classes is a Body Tone class which is fitness inspired. We work with weights, loud music, and the pace is breakneck. I imagine it’s what “Bootcamp Yoga” would be if there was such a thing. In the beginning, I couldn’t even do half the moves of the hour-long class. I am now happy to say that after eight months, I can complete the full class—with gusto! I’ve even moved up to using 5-lb weights from my original 3-pounders. Though that might not sound like a lot, performing repetitive weight-bearing squats, lifts, and sit-ups in 35C (95F) heat is exhausting. I walk out of the class drenched but feeling happy and invigorated. The workouts have also helped me sleep much better.

I returned to my doctor recently for a follow-up appointment and told him what I had been doing. He was fine with my approach though a bit concerned I had lost 10 pounds since I started yoga. It shocked me, really. I don’t own a scale, so the only time I ever weigh myself is at my doctor’s office. It was never my intention to lose weight, but despite my thinner body, I felt stronger than I have ever felt in my life.

All good news, right?

Well, there is a small downside to the story … and that’s where my breasts enter into the picture.

Or more accurately, it’s where they make their exit.

Those 10 pounds I lost came straight off the top. I didn’t think it was possible to go down a size from a 32A bra, but it is.

The main casualty of this weight loss is now I have to get rid of many of my bras. I love beautiful lingerie, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I own several push-ups that feel like they could double as a football player’s shoulder pads. They transformed me from a 32A to a 32C—a two-cup increase. Woohoo!

bras

These babies could stop bullets!

When I fitted myself with these push-ups the other day, I laughed my ass off! I thought I was going to topple over. Suffice it to say it looks unnatural for me to have such large breasts now.

Did you ever think you would be so intimate with my intimates? Heh.

It’s been a trying and interesting time. I’m not one who complains, but I wanted to let readers know why I haven’t been able to deliver on my trilogy. At the same time, I also wanted to thank you for reading my meanderings, now and in the past.

The good news is I’m on the mend.

My mind is much improved with Chinese herbs and meditation. My body is leaner and growing stronger with yoga, and last but not least, even though there is less to them now …

love your breasts

Stay tuned for the next instalment of my Mind Body Series when I talk about travel and returning to a magical place—Bali.

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A Chinese Funeral, Good Luck, and the Powerball

2015 ended sadly with the death of my grandmother, but I’ve processed much of it over the past couple of weeks, and I’m finally beginning to feel lighter. I know this because I can write about my recent trip with some levity.

On New Year’s Day, I traveled to New York City for my grandmother’s funeral. I haven’t been with that much family under one roof in a long time. The last occasion was probably for my grandfather’s funeral, and that was eighteen years ago. My memory of it has faded. I was not as close to my grandfather as I was to my grandmother, so I was probably less interested in the customs then. This time, I paid attention because I knew it would be the last time my family followed this tradition so closely. My grandmother was my last surviving grandparent. All five of her children (my mom is the oldest) planned her funeral together. Along with losing a generation, it’s inevitable many of its customs will also be lost. Even though my beliefs about death are different, I find value in following rituals. It helps ease the pain of loss.

The ceremony consisted of a two-day service and numerous tasks in between. Much of the time at the funeral home involved burning spirit money that resembles legal tender. The money is available in outrageous denominations from 10,000 to 1,000,000 dollars and is used to purchase services or buy things in the afterlife.

heaven notes

Joss paper, thin sheets of coarse bamboo decorated in gold or silver foil is also burned. The assumption is the offerings consumed by fire will reappear as actual items in the spirit world, making them available for departed loved ones. My grandmother enjoyed life, so we didn’t stop burning once the fire started. Mourners who came to pay their respects were encouraged to participate as well.

joss paper

When I wasn’t burning something, I sat in my designated seat in a section with the other grandchildren. We folded stacks and stacks of Joss paper into oblong-shaped ingots in preparation for their burning. Folding the paper is an important part of the burning ceremony as it distinguishes Joss paper from actual money. As the paper is treated with the respect of real money, it cannot be casually tossed in the fire. Instead, it is placed carefully in a loose bundle. I guesstimate I folded more than two thousand sheets over the two days.

folded joss paper

The combination of a freezing room (expected for an open casket viewing), and a raging fire only a few feet from my grandmother’s body seemed absurd at times. I dressed warmly for the day, but when I got cold, I stoked the fire or burned a bag of money to warm up.

The immediate family was also tasked with burning papier-mâché items, representing articles my grandmother might need in the afterlife. This included an elaborate paper folding of a mansion (seen below), SUV, mahjong table, foot massager, and other necessities. When it came time to burn these, each family member chose an item(s) and headed outside the room where my grandmother lay.

We needed a bigger fireplace.

joss paper house

I grabbed the cut-out representations of a male and female butler, along with a pair of slippers. Considering my grandmother did not drive and a car was part of her offering, I thought she would need someone to chauffeur her around, and who couldn’t use a little help putting on their slippers?

The Chinese are strong believers in good fortune and luck. In a traditional Chinese funeral, as was my grandmother’s, all mourners received a white envelope filled with candy and money before they left the funeral home. The candy is to sweeten the bitter taste of death, and the money is for luck. The candy must be eaten immediately, and the money must be spent. My family pooled our money (there was a nickel in each envelope) and bought a lottery ticket called the Powerball.

powerball

If you’re not familiar with the Powerball, it’s a multi-state lottery held in the U.S. Shortly after I arrived in New York, I heard the buzz about the jackpot at 300 million dollars. After a drawing that produced no winner, it jumped to 600 million. As of this writing, the jackpot sits at $1.4 billion (that’s billion with a BIG FAT B) and is likely to surge higher by Wednesday’s drawing. It could become the world’s richest grand prize awarded to one ticket holder.

So here’s the second part of the story … and I must meander a bit, so I hope you stay with me.

I had a 12:05 PM flight to return to Canada from New Jersey’s Newark airport on Sunday. I was staying in Long Island. Normally, my uncle would’ve driven me to the airport, but he had to take my family to the cemetery for another post burial ritual. Given that, I awoke at 6:45 AM to give myself plenty of time to get to the airport since I had to co-ordinate multiple railway systems. Connection times were tight, with only five minutes in between disembarking and boarding.

lirr

Add to this, the weather conditions.

There had been flood warnings the night before, and sure enough, heavy rain and winds hit early Sunday morning. When I stood on the platform of the local railroad, the puddles crested the tops of my boots. I didn’t see much more of the weather after I entered the railway. I squeaked into my connection train at Penn Station seconds before the doors closed and got to the airport in record time! When the agent at the check-in counter offered me an earlier flight of 10:05 AM, I did a fist pump and gladly accepted. I sat in the lounge with a cup of coffee, stoked I had to wait a mere thirty minutes instead of ninety before boarding. How lucky was I?

airline map

 

Not long after though, things went downhill.

An announcement of mechanical failure for the 10:05 flight resulted in its cancellation. The airline had to reschedule a planeload of passengers. I was disappointed but figured I could get on the next flight at 11:05. Worst case, I’d fly back at my original departure time of 12:05, or so I thought. When I went to update my boarding pass, I was informed the 11:05 was full. I was re-booked on a 1:05 PM flight and now on standby for the 12:05.

Shit! I shouldn’t have changed my flight in the first place! 

I’m sure other expletives bounced around in my head, but I stayed calm. When the airline announced the 12:05 flight, I watched the long line-up of passengers dwindle as they boarded the plane. I stayed close to the gate but was not hopeful there would be a seat left for me. A frustrated passenger started yelling at the ticket agent for giving away a seat she thought belonged to her. All the screaming did nothing to improve the situation. As I was about to walk away, an airport employee approached the counter and handed a boarding pass to the clerk. I overheard her say, “This is for the final passenger on this flight.”

Then the agent called my name. I felt like I had won the lottery!

It was only supposed to be an hour flight, but the weather continued to worsen as we flew. When we approached Western New York, the captain informed us the visibility in Toronto was so bad he was unable to land. He circled the plane, waiting for weather conditions to improve. After more than thirty minutes of an aerial view of Buffalo, the pilot announced the fog had lifted enough for him to try and land.

Try?

I must say his words did not instill confidence in me. The woman beside me had already been white-knuckling it the entire journey. Even as a normally good flyer, the constant turbulence unsettled me. Clouds had obstructed the view outside the window for most of the flight, so there were no visual cues to make me feel better. I tightened my seat belt and closed my eyes.

airplane seat belt

Suddenly, I wasn’t feeling so lucky anymore.

When the plane pitched forward and sped up, I knew we were closing in on the airport. I opened my eyes just as the plane penetrated the fog and saw the runway appear too quickly for my liking. I braced myself for a rough landing.

As the 70-person propeller plane came to a halt, a round of applause and cheers broke the tension. It’s a short runway, and the pilot did an excellent job. The proof is I’m here to write about it.

The caveat to this airplane story is the earlier flight at 11:05 was diverted back to New Jersey due to weather. If I had made it on that plane, I would not have landed in Toronto until much later.

After a long day, which fortunately ended well, I couldn’t help but think my grandmother had been looking out for me. It’s metaphorical, of course, but I felt extremely lucky, so much so that that when I arrived home safely, I called my aunt and uncle in New York and gave them numbers to play the Powerball. I’m not lucky with lotteries and I rarely play them, but there’s no way my grandma would have missed the opportunity to buy a ticket. Since she’s no longer here, I’m buying one for her.

If I win, there’s going to be one hell of a fire in her honour. 

grandma at her birthday

 

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Living through the holidays with death and social media

I lost my grandmother over the holidays. She passed away Christmas Eve.

My grandmother lived in Manhattan in a small apartment in the Lower East Side. This past summer, she came to Canada as she often did, a long drive across the border for a 94-year-old woman. My uncle and aunts drove with her to visit my mom in Montreal first, then they came to Toronto to see me and the rest of the family. That was July. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time I saw Grandma alive.

I agonized over writing this post. The holidays are supposed to be a good time—a union of family and friends. Fun and happy moments, with nothing worse than a bit of melancholy for another year passed, but what do you do when someone dies at this time? Holidays are not supposed to include death … but death is never convenient. You have to deal with it when it happens.

My grandmother’s death came suddenly. Even at 94, it was unexpected. I thought she could live forever. She had that aura of invincibility. Here she was at her 89th birthday party laughing with my mom.

grandma and mom

As an author who creates fictional stories, I debated whether I should write a post about my grandmother’s passing.

And how could I do it without sounding maudlin? Especially at this time of year.

You see, each December since starting this blog, I’ve written a holiday message to end the year. The messages have been about reflection, happiness, and looking ahead. I’ve often included humor as part of the festive season. I wanted this post to be something along the same lines, but I couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm to write it that way.

I just couldn’t.

I had to reflect on the life of a woman who meant a great deal to me, and it would be dishonest to write a holiday message without acknowledging the loss. Another year is coming to an end, but an important life has already ended. My grandmother deserved her time with me here.

grandma and me

With Grandma in Toronto 2013

Those who know me well understand I’m a private person. I rarely make announcements about my personal life. I share private matters one-on-one using more traditional means—telephone and email. My declarations via public forums such as Twitter and Facebook are mainly for my writing news. As much as I like social media, I consider it somewhat of a mirage.

Are people always as happy as they appear in their pictures?

The answer is obviously “no.”

With this post, my main purpose is to honor my grandmother, to let people know how lovely she was. What she lacked in physical stature, she made up for in toughness of mind and spirit. She was fiercely independent and got her way without ever raising her voice. Her quiet strength spoke to the many qualities I admired about her, particularly her thoughtfulness and grace. She made the world a better place, and she was a cool woman in every sense of the word.

I also want to thank everyone for their outpouring of support and comforting words of condolences. I’m extremely grateful for the kindness of friends, both virtual and in real life. Though I feel a sad void right now, I know how fortunate I am to have had my grandmother in my life for so long. Many of my friends no longer have parents, let alone grandparents. The reality is Grandma influenced me well into adulthood, and I will forever cherish the precious years I had with her. Her legacy lives on in the small things, which added up to her huge appetite for life.

As she was my last surviving grandparent, her passing brings me closer to my own mortality, but I am not afraid.

I never saw Grandma afraid of anything.

* * *

Some final words for the readers of this blog …

I so appreciate the personal notes, comments, follows, shares, likes, emails, and messages you’ve sent over the years. With your kindness, you’ve given me the best gift for the holidays during a difficult time.

Thank you.

As I close my blog for another year, I am grateful that social media has connected us. We are here together, and that is something worth celebrating.

Wishing love, health, and happiness for you and your families. May 2016 be unforgettable in the best of ways,

~ eden ♥

 

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On judging feminist p*rn and what feminism means to me

As I have done the previous four years, I served on a panel of judges for the upcoming Feminist Porn Awards (FPA) sponsored by Good For Her, the premiere erotic boutique in Toronto. As a judge, I watched a lot of porn in the past few weeks. A LOT of porn.

good for her banner

I’ve blogged about the FPA in the past, and what the spirit of the show means. Read my articles if you’re interested to know my history with it.

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the awards, and my last year as a judge for the show. As much as I have enjoyed doing it, I’m passing the baton due to other commitments.

The FPA is an inclusive forum for filmmakers—gay, straight, transgender, and those who identify themselves differently. For me, the highest marks went to the films that met all or most of the following criteria:

I love feminist porn

1) Inclusiveness: The work expands sexual representation on film and presents a vision that sets it apart from mainstream pornography.

2) Good quality filmmaking: If you shot the film using your phone, chances are you won’t win points with me. I like good quality filmmaking, attention to detail, lighting, and sound.

3) Creativity: Just as I don’t enjoy reading about stereotypes, I don’t enjoy watching sexual stereotypes. Show me something I haven’t seen before.

4) Arousal factor: Did the film arouse me? Even if the film does not depict something I would necessarily like, I need to see that the actors are genuinely enjoying themselves.

5) Story: Story crafting is not always necessary, but if the film strives to tell one, then please don’t include a thinly-veiled “Pizza delivery boy scene.” It’s unnecessary if it adds nothing.

* * * *

The films I saw are unlikely to hit mainstream theatres. And over the years, it has surprised some people that I’m involved with movies in this genre.

One question that has continued to pop up, especially in light of Fifty Shades of Grey, (which I have neither read nor watched the movie) is:

You support feminist porn, but what does it say about a woman if she enjoys fantasies where men dominate women? Isn’t this against feminism?

Though I’ve answered this question privately, I’ve never formally answered it, so I will do so now.

Let me talk about feminism first, as my definition of it may not be the same as yours. I believe in the rights of people, which means both women’s rights AND men’s rights. One should not trump the other based on sex.

My idea of feminism is not that I should have everything that men have, but I should not be prohibited to pursue what I want in life because I am a woman.

It does NOT mean that all things ‘male’ need to be open to me. Just as not all things ‘female’ should be open to men.

As an example, I have zero interest in joining exclusive men’s clubs where they drink whisky, smoke cigars, and whatever else men do behind closed doors out of the watchful eye of their wives and significant others. To women who feel they should be able to join these clubs, I say: Start your own damn club!

That is the freedom you have.

I am all for gender equality, but I believe there is value in men bonding with men only. And the same is true for women being with women only. Men and women are inherently different. We don’t always find the same things appealing, and nowhere is this more evident than when we socialize. We behave differently when members of the opposite sex are around. This may not be the case if the men and women know each other very well, but otherwise, most of us have been socialized to behave in a certain way depending on the company we keep.

At times, I fear the fight to close the gender gap has verged on the ridiculous, which in turn, has muddied more legitimate pursuits. An issue such as equal pay for equal work should be a no-brainer, and yet, women with the same job and same qualifications as men are still, on the whole, paid less than men. This is worth fighting for, not trying to get into private men’s clubs.

But hey, that’s just how I feel.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent.

Back to the question of women who fantasize about being dominated by men. Is this against feminism?

No.

It’s that simple.

I refuse to police anyone’s desires or fantasies. I am sure there are many women with fantasies of being dominated by men, myself included. It does not make me weak, passive, or against feminism.

Men dominating women on film and in literature are not anti-feminist, but a reason it may be perceived as such is because consent is not always clear.

CONSENT.

That is a key factor in fantasy play, and it must be explicit.

If all we ever see or read is men dominating women, then some people may think this type of power exchange is what all women want. That is not the case. Conversely, the stereotype of the woman who only wants soft, gentle, romantic sex in her porn and books is also untrue.

Regardless of who is on top, both men and women should have the freedom to explore their fantasies, sans judgment, especially since the psychology of eroticism is impossible to define.

What I find erotic is not within my control, so why do I need to fit my fantasy into a box that is socially acceptable?

I don’t.

My erotic imagination and life should not have to conform to my real life, which is built around a specific set of social and moral values.

The two lives never have to meet.

As human beings, we need to stop judging others for their sexual preferences and realize that the mind is both complex and mysterious. It’s not our sexual fantasies that inform our decisions and how we behave in the real world.

So … in a nutshell, if you’re a woman who wants a man to dominate you in your fantasies, go for it if it turns you on. It does not make you a bad person nor does it make you anti-feminist.

 * * * *

Come join me at the events leading up to the FPA Gala this Friday. Tickets are still available at Good For Her or online at: The 10th Anniversary Feminist Porn Awards! – Feminist Porn Awards. If you’re able to make it, come and say “hi.” I’d love to meet you. 😉

FPA poster final jpeg

Wednesday April 15th Erika Lust and XConfessions
The Royal Cinema 608 College St., Toronto

Thursday April 16th Public. Provocative. Porn
Bloor Hot Docs Cinema 506 Bloor St W, Toronto

Friday April 17th Feminist Porn Awards Gala
Capitol Event Theatre 2492 Yonge St., Toronto

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An Infographic by @Grammarly shows good writing matters … not just for authors

From time to time, I muse on the craft of writing. I don’t go into writers’ tips so much as observations about writing in general. Below are a few of my more popular posts on the subject:

About that C-word

It’s Only Words … Or is it?

Plotting for Pantsers

Although I consider words fun to play with, I do not, however, play without established rules. What are these rules, you ask?

They would be: punctuation, sentence structure, correct wording, spelling, and so on. They are areas I strive to improve upon each time I write a book/story/blog. I know this because I cringe (just a little) when I read some of my earlier offerings. It’s not that they were terrible, but I would have written them differently today. I consider this progress—a barometer of my own learning, if you will.

As authors, words are our tools. We use them to create content that must be both compelling and good.

What makes it compelling is our imagination and passion for telling a story.

What makes it good is our ability to capture readers’ imaginations in the telling.

Mastering the basics of writing is essential, and because language evolves, it is also a continuous learning process. Authors cannot become complacent with the mechanics of writing for it is the very foundation on which our imaginations rest. Without good writing skills, a story, no matter how compelling will never connect to a reader.

And it’s not only authors who need to write well.

Grammarly, a “grammar checker” and education website conducted a study to measure the impact of good writing skills on earnings. The Huffington Post published their infographic, and I have as well.

In the interest of full disclosure, Grammarly approached me to share it. For doing so, a donation will be made in my name to Reading Is Fundamental, a charity that promotes literacy.

I encourage you to read the infographic. Of particular interest to me were the findings related to the finance sector. As a former banker, I always knew good writing skills were important for moving up the corporate ladder. This was especially true as more areas relied on written communication to cement contracts with partners, both domestically and globally.

If there is a lesson to be learned, it’s that good writing matters. And nothing will convince some people more of this than the amount of pay they take home.

writing_skills_matter infographic

flourish

Learn more about Grammarly 

Website | Facebook| Twitter @Grammarly

xx

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A new year and moving forward

In the past, I’ve ended the blog year by looking back, reflecting on the previous twelve months and lessons learned. Though it never started out as such, the posts usually leaned toward the sentimental. It mirrored the mood I was in post Christmas and before the start of something new—in this case, a new year. It reminded me of old school days and a new notebook. I almost hated to write in it. I wanted everything to stay perfect as it was at that moment, but that was never to be. Once school began, I would break open the spine, and my neat writing would eventually become messy. I would make mistakes, erase entire passages, tear out pages. And once that book was full, I would start a new one. The shine of a brand-spanking new year would fade as I moved forward.

So this year, I won’t be dwelling on the past. I’m sure you had your ups and downs in 2014 as I did, but if you are reading this now, we have one important thing in common—we are here, and that’s something to celebrate.

2015 begins as a blank notebook, and we get to fill it with whatever we want. It may get messy or it may stay neat, but hopefully, we cram it with so much life that we need a continuous supply of notebooks as the year progresses.

My good friend, poet Steven Marty Grant, sent me a terrific Christmas gift. The message resonates loud with me. 😉

motherfucker mug

 

With everything you do this coming year, DO IT like a MOTHERFUCKER, and may 2015 overflow with wonderful things for you.

~ eden 

 

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Merry Christmas from Toronto and its Many Santas

Merry Christmas!

I didn’t intend to blog today but wanted to share this video from a couple of nights ago. In midtown Toronto, many neighbours of Inglewood Drive do something unique for the holidays. This year, forty-five of them have installed giant-sized, inflatable Santa Clauses on their front lawns. Each measure over fourteen feet, and they’re quite the sight!

Accompanied by an upbeat song, “Birdman” by John Beadle, I hope you enjoy the video … and have a wonderful Christmas day!

~ eden 

 

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About that C-word …

‘Tis the season for C-words—cranberries, cookies, candy cane … but I won’t be talking about these C-words.

This post contains THE C-word. Consider yourself warned. It’s not my intention to offend, but if you are someone who is sensitive to words, then you may choose not to read further. I’ve written about the importance of words before, so you know I’m passionate about the topic.

unlocking the mysteryI started thinking about this post following a recent free promotion I did for my novella, Unlocking the Mystery. It’s the only story included in my erotic anthologies that contains no sex, but it does contain adult language. As with all my writing, I don’t insinuate “bad” words into a story for the sake of it. I make a choice to use specific words because they reflect a mood or a feeling. Certain words are just more powerful than others.

The story was inspired in part by letters Irish novelist James Joyce wrote to his wife Nora Barnacle. Titillating, romantic, poetic, and often rude as hell, Nora initiated the correspondence in November of 1909. At the time, Joyce was in Dublin and she was in Italy raising their children. Nora hoped that by feeding her husband’s fantasies in writing, she would keep him away from the courtesans.

I’ve received several reviews for Unlocking the Mystery. They are good reviews, so this post is not to discredit any of them. I’ve also entered into some interesting e-mail exchange with readers of the story. The reviews and the e-mails have something in common. They all mention a particular word I used: Cunt, and to a lesser extent cock.

“… using the crude words the author chose were unnecessary and jarring.”

“… change the descriptive word used in this story for the woman’s lady part, as it turns away many readers for some reason from what I ‘ve gathered.”

“I liked the story very much, but did you really need to use the C-word?”

“… That word is so demeaning to women. It shocked me that you used it.”

And so on …

I am not easily offended. Honest feedback is what authors want and need in order to become better at what we do. Reviews help us know when we are connecting with readers, and more importantly, when we are not.

As such, I’m writing this post as a form of explanation. I respect the opinions of those I excerpted above. I’m sure they represent a segment of the population who feels the same way. The thing is, if I were to appease every reader who disliked my choice of words, I would not be writing my own stories, I’d be writing someone else’s. My own conviction is what dictates that certain words “fit” a story. That’s the reason I choose them and why I must stand by them.

Unlocking the Mystery is a romance between two grown-ups, separated by an ocean. They cannot use their senses to experience each other. They can only convey their desire by writing letters.

Letter writing—it’s a dying art, so why write one, post it, and wait two weeks or longer to receive a response? The anticipation must make the desire unbearable, and that’s the point. My story is about a generation that was a lot more patient than we are today.

Yes, Caroline and Shane were romantic, but it does not mean they could not be lewd, crude, and raw in their desire for one another.

My use of the word cunt is present in two passages in the story. In both instances, they were included in the letters Shane wrote to Caroline.

(1) … Your last letter had me excited for days. I read it over and over again, seeing you doing all the things you wrote of. It was wonderfully disjointed and made me feel the desperation of you fingering your cunt right before you wrote it. To play with yourself like that for hours in a deep sea of blankets, my god, but you are a vixen! …

(2) … I dream of your breasts, your cunt, your arse, your lips, your hands. I dream of you, my beautiful, sweet Caroline and count the seconds until I receive your next letter…

The raw nature of the letters was meant to express a man’s sexual frustration at being separated from his love. Though mere words could never communicate his feelings properly, they were all he had.

In my opinion, the word cunt fit. After all, sex is not always a polite “please and thank you” session. Sometimes, it is raw passion driven by libido, and in the absence of connecting to Caroline physically, Shane’s animalistic lust fueled his letters.

james joyce

James Joyce

Here is a post that contains some of James Joyce’s letters to his wifeCunt is used sixteen times, along with other “taboo” words. You soon realize how his lust fueled his letters as well.

Etymology of CUNT

Most sources I have read show the word cunt as derived from the Germanic “kunte” and dates back to the 1200s. The word’s etymology is complicated, and I am not a scholar on the topic. It does appear, however, that in the Middle Ages, English speakers were less squeamish about obscene language. With a lack of privacy, there was probably less shame about sex and body parts. The C-word was socially acceptable for a time until it became taboo. When and why the switch occurred is a source of debate. Dates are bandied about based on when texts were censored if the word cunt was used. If you wish to read more on the topic, refer to a comprehensive article on Matthew Hunt’s blog.

The word’s acceptability can also be regional. Barbados-born pop star Rihanna included it freely in her tweets until she was criticized for it. She defended her action by saying the word is not offensive to Bajans, and she used it as a term of endearment.

The queer subculture has been using cunt for years to describe something beautiful, delicate, and soft.

In the UK, the word does not apply only to women. It is a gender-neutral slur that is often directed at men as well.

My point is: the word cunt and words derived from it will offend if you hear it as the most vile swear word that can be directed at a woman, if it speaks to you of misogyny, sexual harassment, and abuse.

And here is where another C-word comes into play: Context.

It’s my firm belief that the volition behind the words we say or write is every bit as important, if not more important than the actual words used.

Language is a living and breathing discipline, and words that make up a language evolve. What was taboo at one time may transition from unacceptable to acceptable. In 1966, comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for saying nine words: ass, balls, cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, piss, shit, tits.  Today, most of these words are commonplace in spoken and written media.

Whether we like the C-word or not, it is not going away. Earlier this year, The Oxford Dictionary added four new words—cunty, cuntish, cunted, and cunting. You may never use them, but they exist.

Like the words sick, wicked, and bad, whose informal meanings have been changed from negative to positive, so too might the case be for cunt one day.

You just never know.

FiW.act-three_4And on this positive note, I offer one last FREE novella this month, available Dec. 22-24. ACT THREE is the most over-the-top erotic story I’ve written to date. It’s raw fantasy inspired by adult play, mixed with reality. At times, the lines blur. For some readers, this story will push the boundaries for what they find comfortable in erotic writing. I hope you’ll pick it up.

One final C-word—Christmas. Have a Merry one, and no matter what you celebrate, I wish you warmth, health, and happiness this holiday season.

Have a wonderful week,

~ eden 

 

39 Comments

Filed under Craft of Writing, Promo of ebooks, freebies, Revelations & Humor

Read: RAW by Peter Cantelon (@cantelon)

I have never re-blogged an article, and as it turns out, I don’t even know how to do it properly, so instead, I’m sharing it via a link at the end of my intro.

Normally, when I have something to say, I’m able to say it in my own words. This time, however, I’ve had difficulty expressing my thoughts clearly, and then … I came upon a blog last night that said what I could not say.

It speaks to the recent shootings in Quebec and Ottawa. It speaks to the unity of Canadian people, and it also speaks to a collective sadness. Over the next weeks, with the funerals of two Canadian soldiers, the nation will be mourning.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist, was shot Wednesday while standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, and two days earlier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run down in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

The killers were also Canadian, homegrown terrorists.

Please read the article, simply entitled:

 RAW

by Peter Cantelon

 

I don’t know Mr. Cantelon, but he has articulated his thoughts and feelings so well in his article, that I would be remiss in not sharing it. If you feel the same, please comment on and share his blog.

– eden 

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8 Comments

Filed under Important Announcements, Revelations & Humor

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes


change is the only constant

I’ve been changing some of my backlist as part of the promotion for my current book, Stranger at Sunset. With thirteen titles under my name, it’s not unheard of to use an existing book to help sell a new release, but it’s been tricky. I’ve changed genres from erotica to mystery/thriller. For many reasons, I didn’t write my new book under a different author name, so it’s required some re-branding on my part. A combination of research, luck, dogged determination, and sleepless nights has gotten me to this point.

trust me

This should say: Trust me, I’m NO social media expert.

Many of you have kindly commented on how good I am with social media. It may appear that way, but I’ll let you in on a secret. I follow the successful people and find out what they’re doing and then I copy them! It’s that simple. I don’t listen to “so-called” experts because they change their tune as often as I change my underwear (probably more so). I follow those whose teachings resonate with me. I’m not afraid to put in the hours, and my method of learning has always been to jump in and “do it.” It’s my impatient nature. I’ll make lots of mistakes along the way, but I’ll usually only make the same mistake once.

Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 12.08.29 PM

Go to YouTube and listen to the song. It’s terrific.

I take a lot of inspiration from people who’ve constantly reinvented themselves. David Bowie is one of them. Since the release of Stranger at Sunset end of JuneI’ve sent out close to 600 emails to potential reviewers. I’ve contacted over 100 sites for interviews, guest blogs, etc. Along the way, I’ve made some excellent connections. I have a pipeline of guest blogs and interviews I still need to write. I believe I’m doing all the right things to get my books out there, but it’s a matter of connecting to the right people—the readers. That’s always the challenge.

pressure cooker

Relieve some pressure with “Under Pressure” on YouTube. Great song.

There’s a lot of pressure to succeed. I consider myself a good writer, but I also know that bad writing soars to the bestseller lists, and good writing languishes in the rankings. Life isn’t fair, so I don’t measure myself against anyone else’s successess or failures. I can only gauge my own progress.

Having said this … here are some changes I’ve made over the past months.

smashwords

(1) I’ve published many of my books to Smashwords for wider distribution. Through it, my titles will be pushed out to Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks, Sony, Kobo, and other retailers. When those new links are available, I will update my sales sites. For now, all my books are available via Amazon.

Seeking Sexy Sadie old_new

(2) I’ve updated the cover of Seeking Sexy Sadie

This short story is a psychological mystery with an erotic bent, exploring desire and the genesis of fantasy. I’m offering it FREE—forever and ever. You can find reviews from Amazon (where it remains 99 cents because I can’t change it to ZERO just yet). My recommendation is to get it FREE HERE. I mean, why not? That way, you’re saving money and might consider buying another one of my books :D.

hot flash old new

(3) I’ve updated the cover of Hot Flash. As you’ve noticed with the two cover changes, I’ve scaled back the “so-called” revealing nature of my covers. This is because certain distributors don’t want dangly bits, nipples, cracks, and other bodily parts. I mean, really. I’ve always considered my covers quite tame as compared to others in the erotica genre, but … I’m not going to fight that battle.

You can pick up Hot Flash on Amazon and Smashwords for 2.99. It’s a collection of flash fiction. Some are sexy, and some are written with an irreverent sense of humor, because you know … I never take myself too seriously. 😉

sas_2kindle

(4) Over the next while, I’ll write on other ways I’m trying to sell my books, but of course, we all know that nothing can sell a book more than getting out the next book. It’s a fine balance, so I must return to the writing of A Fragile Truce, the book following Stranger at Sunset.

thank you

A final message to readers, commenters, and those who’ve been so kind to share my posts across their networks, THANK YOU for all you do. Sometimes, your kind words are all that keep me going. Your support means the world to me AND you can definitely trust me when I say that.

eden

x

21 Comments

Filed under Revelations & Humor, Stranger at Sunset

My Rant about the #ALS #IceBucketChallenge

I haven’t had a rant in a while. Perhaps nothing has rattled me that much lately, so I’ve let things roll off me like water off a duck’s back. Speaking of water …

By now, most of you are aware of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. ALS, (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) also known as “Lou Gehrig’s” disease or Motor Neurone Diseases in the UK has come up with an innovative way to raise money for its cause. The Challenge dares nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and challenging others to do the same. Recipients of the Challenge have 24 hours to comply or they are asked to make a donation (originally set at $100). The Challenge has gone viral with the participation of celebrities and other public figures. Facebook and Youtube are popular media outlets for sharing the videos.

As the movement has grown, people are choosing to both donate AND get water dumped on their heads. How much money people donate can range from $10 to $100, or even more.

All in good fun, but most importantly, all for a worthy cause that has raised record amounts of money for a disease that currently has no cure.

I recently did the Challenge and posted the video on Facebook. I have no connection to ALS and prior to my nomination, knew little about it. I now know a lot more because of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So, why am I ranting?

For whatever reason, I’m suddenly seeing a lot of hostile comments interspersed with the videos of those participating in the Challenge. I don’t understand it.

The range of criticism is vast:

“Participants are posting videos only to get publicity and boost their own egos.”

“The Challenge is wasting water.”

“We’re dumping water on our heads when people all over the world are really suffering. It shows we are disconnected to the global community.”

“ALS is stealing funds from diseases like cancer, which affects more people.”

That last one was the final straw for me. Really? Are we now comparing diseases to see which is more worthy of funding? Exactly how do we measure the worthiness of one life against another?

For me, charity is very personal. Why we donate to some causes and not to others is no one else’s business. That also applies to how people choose to use social media. If they are posting videos of themselves for the Ice Bucket Challenge, then it’s their business. Don’t like it? Don’t watch the videos. Don’t comment. Don’t share. Unfollow the person if it offends you so much. It’s that simple.

If you think the Challenge is wasting water, consider how you can conserve water the next time you take a bath, a shower, or do your laundry. Water is everyone’s responsibility every time we use it.

I don’t disagree the world is in turmoil, and many people are suffering. We cannot possibly know the plight of those living through war, starvation, and poverty unless we’ve experienced it. We can help by donating money, time, and giving of ourselves in creative ways to make the world a better place. By being born in the west or a developed country, we are extremely fortunate, but we cannot help those less fortunate by apologizing for the way we live.

If you think your money is better served donating to PETA, cancer, or another cause, then DO IT. The Ice Bucket Challenge is certainly not dictating where your money should go. If anything, it has given visibility to other charitable organizations that need help.

Lastly, don’t rain on the parade of those who are trying to do good. They’ve already had ice water dumped on them. Negativity helps no one. Convert your judgement, scorn, and mockery into something useful or SHUT UP.

End rant.

**

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Filed under Revelations & Humor

You LIKE me! On winning the Versatile Blogger Award

Okay, so I stole Sally Field’s line, but I’m truly honored to receive the Versatile Blogger Award from author, Christoph Fisher, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing. If you missed it, you can still read it here.

For me, the most rewarding thing about blog awards is learning more about the person who nominated me. I rarely participate in these memes myself. If you want to know why, read my article from Nov. 2011, a year after I set up my blog.

In re-reading that post, I realized I had received this award before, so I thought I should finally participate. It’s great to be recognized by a peer, and versatility is something I value in blogs, but even more so in people.

Given that, don’t forget to find out why Christoph received his award.

* * * *

versatile blogger

As part of this award, I’m supposed to tell you seven things about myself, then nominate fifteen other bloggers whom I think deserve this award.

They in turn, will keep this meme going (if they so wish), and we all get to discover some wonderful and versatile bloggers. So, here goes, and hope you enjoy 😉

* * * *

1) I had my ears pierced at five by my aunt. She rubbed ginger root on my lobes and stuck a needle through them that had been heated over a stove burner. I don’t remember it hurting but I cried anyway. Here I am modeling my first pair of earrings. Please ignore the outfit.

me with earrings

 2) I do not own a cell phone and have no intention of getting one. I never want to be that accessible, nor do I want to look like this guy.

rude cell phone

3) My laptop is with me almost all the time, and I’m one of those obnoxious MAC users. You know who you are.

laptop

4) I’m an online Scrabble freak with about 20 games on the go at any given time. I play with friends, strangers, enemies. I’m also extremely competitive, so don’t expect to win.

scrabble

5) I’m a strong advocate for sexual diversity and since 2011, have been a judge for the Feminist Porn Awards. It’s an incredible event sponsored by Good for Her, which supports the LGBTQ community in Toronto.
good for her banner

6) I still have all 130 of my 45s in pristine condition (numbered and dated of course). If you’re too young to know what a 45 is, then you probably won’t know what this is either.

45 adapter

7) I took two years of classes for a Conservative Jewish conversion. At one time, I could read Hebrew and recite many of the prayers. In the end, I went through three rabbis who would not convert me … but that’s a story for another blog.

star of david

flourish

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Drum roll please …

I bequeath the honors to these fifteen bloggers, whom I have great respect for. It wasn’t easy to narrow down to only 15, but here goes …

* * * *

thedailygrime ~ Writer of funny, witty, and newsworthy posts

John Dolan ~ English author living in Thailand, polymath, smartypants

Nicole Chardenet ~ American author turned crazy Canuck author

Billy Ray Chitwood ~ Prolific author and poet who tells beautiful stories

Lisette Brodey ~ Author of multiple genres and terrific interviewer

Jamie White ~ Author, blogger, photo geek, editor

William Kendall ~ Writer, rogue, and scoundrel

Ned Hickson ~ Author and journalist of humor and writerly advice

Junying Kirk ~ Traveller, author, foodie, videographer

Sharkbait Writes ~ Author of multiple genres and gamer, Rob Pruneda

Justin Bog ~ Author, storyteller, pop culture connoisseur

ThrillWriting ~ Excellent resource for writers from author, Fiona Quinn

L.M. Stull ~ Poet, author, reader, runner, and so much more

Majk Ink ~ Author, school nerd and techno genius

Bloody Munchkin ~ Creative writer and advocate of worthy causes

* * * *

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Filed under Craft of Writing, Revelations & Humor

Learn About my Writing Process

Happy Monday! My regular Music Monday post has been replaced by this blog meme and will return next week. “My Writing Process” is a blog tour which takes place every Monday. Here, you will discover an individual author’s writing process based on four simple questions.

I was invited by author Raymond Bolton, who posted his writing process last Monday. I’ve featured Raymond on my blog previously when he released his novel, Awakening.

Below are the questions and my answers:

What am I working on?
My very first novel. Wheee! I’ve written and published anthologies, novellas, short stories, and flash fiction up until now, so this full-length novel has been a real challenge. It’s also a different genre from what I primarily wrote in. I’m moving from erotica to mystery.

Double whammy, but hey, I love a challenge, or maybe I’m just mad.

steven saylor quote

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’ll be honest. I hate this question. As a writer who’s penned erotica, romance, thrillers, I’m all about the storytelling and I could give a rat’s ass about genre. Genre is an old dividing line for readers, with some stories categorized as plot-driven and others as character-driven. Mysteries are normally classified as plot-driven, along with thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, and romance. There’s a lot of judgment in this type of categorization, with the assumption that character-driven stories are more “literary,” and plot-driven “genre” stories are entertaining but not well written.

To this, I say, Bullocks! And I’m not even British.

mysteryIt’s ridiculous to pit one against the other, and that’s why the argument of genre becomes tiresome for me.

I don’t write to fit my work into a genre. I’ve classified my upcoming book as a psychological mystery because there are complex characters and interplay between them. There is also a plot that moves them forward. There is no detective, but there is suspense. The end product has both conflict and growth. Whether you love the “Whodunnit” mystery or prefer the psychological interaction between characters, I think you’ll enjoy my book.

Why do I write what I do?

I’m not crazy about this question either (I’m beginning to wonder why I’m on this tour 😉 ). The best answer I can come up with is my writing is fuelled by interests outside of writing. Some of these things are: the human psyche; foreign destinations; music; culture; current events; travel; life and death; love; sex; life in general. Until now, I’ve written erotica because I had the stories, and I liked telling them. Sex is a provocative and universal subject.

Now, I have another story to tell. It’s not erotic. It’s mysterious. Can you tell I really don’t like being labeled?

How does my writing process work?

In previous interviews, I’ve said I don’t deconstruct my writing, and that’s the god’s honest truth, but there are a few things I do regularly which steep me in the discipline.

Writing everyday is important. Reading is important. Right now, I’m on a word count schedule because it’s important to know I’ve reached milestones in my book, but that’s as strict as I get. The internal pressure to finish my book is great, but I also know myself. As a full time writer, I can easily become obsessive and self-absorbed if I don’t have a balance in my life. For this reason, I pursue external endeavours that have little to do with writing. 

One last tidbit, though I consider writing a serious business (and it should be if you want to earn a living from it), it needs to be fun. Here’s a piece of writing humour you might enjoy.

ImportantWritingTips humor

Next week, you can discover the writing process of three more authors. Visit their sites and see how amazing they are, then you’ll know why I chose them for this tour. I’ve included their Twitter handles too, so you can follow them now.

They will each post on Monday, February 24th to their individual sites, so watch for them!

Annetta Ribken ~ A professional editor of over ninety novels, Annetta Ribken has also been writing since a tender young age, when letters were chiseled on stone tablets, and is currently living and working just outside St. Louis with her evil feline overlord, a rescued shelter cat named Athena. Twitter: @netta50

Cameron Garriepy ~ Romance novelist, genre-crossing short story author and indie publisher. Twitter: @camerongarriepy

Victoria Dougherty ~ She comes from the ultimate Cold War family – daring escapes, backyard firing squads, Communist snitches, bowlfuls of goulash, gargoyles, spies, killers and dangerous pursuits, all part of her recent family history and explain why she writes Cold War thrillers. Twitter: @vicdougherty

My sincere thanks again to Ray for inviting me on this tour.

~eden

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Filed under Author Promotions, Craft of Writing, Eden's Guest Blogs & Interviews, Revelations & Humor

Music Monday accompanied by a rant ~ Cold as Ice

Remember Foreigner? They were a British-American rock band formed in the seventies. They sang a song called “Cold As Ice” and it became one of their big hits. The song was about a woman. When I listen to it now, I interpret the lyrics to be about something else.

Winter is my least favorite season. I make no secret of it, and this year is making up for mild winters of the past.

My experience with winter?

I’m Canadian.

I grew up in Montreal, a city where the winters were much harsher than they are in Toronto, where I now live. We had more snow, which was fun as a kid. I used to skate, toboggan, and jump in snow banks.

As I’ve aged, I’ve grown a thicker skin (metaphorically), but the physical reality is the exact opposite. I wear a hat in the house four to six months of the year. If there is one thing I loathe, it’s having my head cold. I also don’t like being touched on the top of my head. It gives me the shivers like the cold does, so the hat keeps me warm and prevents anyone from patting my head.

Along with the hat, I wear little socks that resemble slippers, and I have a cup of tea beside me all day, which I repeatedly reheat if I don’t drink it quickly enough. It’s not that I can’t afford heating. The truth is I feel the cold acutely and find it difficult to think unless my entire body is warm. Someone coined the term “brain freeze” for me, I’m sure of it.

Canada is a country of four seasons. I love the heat. I hate the cold. I used to think I had to suffer through winter to appreciate the summer, but no …

Seriously, no.

I would appreciate and love summer even if it were 365 days of the year.

This circles me back to Foreigner and “Cold as Ice,” a song about a love affair with a woman, written by a man. He considers her cold as ice because she sacrifices love for money, prefers gold and riches to a fortune in warm feelings from him. He says to her, someday, she will pay the price for wanting paradise.

I would too if paradise was somewhere hot. 😉

I used to like that song, but I listened to it last week while in my car at below freezing temperatures, waiting for the seat warmers to kick in. That was following an ice storm during Christmas, and before the freezing rain which recently hit. “Cold” and “ice” were not two words I wanted to hear.

So … I decided to do a quick re-write of the song.

~~~

I’m as cold as ice
I’m not willing to sacrifice my hat
I never take it off
But someday it will be spring
I know

I’ve seen it before
It happens all the time
I’m closing the door
To leave the cold behind
I’m wearing my socks
My big sweater too
I look out my window
And wish for the sun

I’m as cold as ice
I’m not willing to sacrifice my hat
I never take it off
But someday it will be spring
I know …

~~~

Brrrr. Now enjoy the real lyrics, stay warm everyone,

~eden

16 Comments

Filed under Musical Mondays, Revelations & Humor

Gratitude – My Message for the Holidays

This past year has been a strange one, a tumultuous year for many friends and loved ones, myself included. I had not intended to write this post at the beginning of the month, but then something strange happened.

I took a shower.

No, that’s not the strange part.

The strange part happened during it. My muse opened the door and stepped in. He’s done this before, but not in a while. I should have known. He tends to show up when I least expect him. On this particular visit, we had a long conversation. It started off as more of a monologue on my part. I rhymed off all the things I had to do, my gift list, my dinner list, this list and that list. The lists went on and on, and somewhere between the shampoo and body scrub, he reminded me to clean out my ears because I wasn’t listening to him.

He’s kind of pushy that way, but I complied, and that’s when he said I needed to blog about gratitude.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes in the frenzy of “doing,” I tend to forget just “being.” When I cannot take the time to reflect, then it’s difficult to be grateful.

Another year was coming to an end. It deserved its own time apart from all the things that still had to be done.

A time-out was important.

He was right.

* * *

2013 went by in a flash, and the years have gone by quicker as I’ve gotten older. When the end of the year approaches, it speeds up, almost as if we want this one to be over with, so we can start anew. In an effort to let a difficult year slip into oblivion, I thought the best thing was to not even write about it, but of course, I could not. Life, like my muse, always shows up on its own schedule—at an inconvenient time. I didn’t feel like writing this. I had a million other things to do. Yet here I am.

So … gratitude.

Around this time of year, the question does not tend to be: “What are you grateful for?”

For Canadians, that was back in October. Americans had their Thanksgiving less than a month ago.

No, this holiday demands to know: “What do you want?”

Everywhere I turn, I see the lure of things that people want.

For me, there’s little I want that is material in nature.

Stay with me … this is going off on a tangent but I’ll circle back. I promise.

* * *

I visited the John Lennon exhibit in New York City several years ago at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Annex, which no longer exists. The exhibit consisted of all things Lennon that one would expect—music, memorabilia, pictures, albums. I’m a big fan of John Lennon, but I don’t remember anything specific from that show, except for one thing—a crumpled brown paper bag.

The exhibit was marked: “Patient’s Belongings,” and it contained all of John Lennon’s belongings after he was killed, his body processed, and his clothing removed by the coroner.

Stark.

That image has stayed with me, and I saw the exhibit four years ago. For me, it was a metaphor for life, no matter who we are. Though Lennon lives on through his music, he left this world as we will all leave it, with nothing of value we can take with us.

For many of us, who we touch, love, spend time with, and share of ourselves will be our lasting legacy.

With a circle of friends that extends out from a small family, I consider the readers and writers whom I’ve connected with over the past several years as important in my life.

This season, I will spend time thinking of you and how you have enriched my life, how material goods will never replace what you mean to me. Even the occasional email you send my way is worth more than any diamond, which to me is worthless, so don’t send me one.

In this fast world where we are sometimes overburdened with too many tasks and too little time, I never want to be someone who doesn’t take the time for those I love most. That includes the readers of my blog and books.

Thank you.

In the end, none of us will be defined by the ‘stuff’ we have, but by the kindness we’ve shown, the love we’ve shared, and more than anything, by the gratitude we’ve shown others.

Wishing all love, warmth, health, and happiness,

~ eden ♥

xmas msg 2014

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