Where Friends Meet…

Friends are part of what makes life so enjoyable. They allow us to let down our hair, laugh at ourselves, and completely be who we are meant to be. There is a special feeling though, a connection of sorts, when you spend time in the company of people of like mind. These are people you want to hang with, learn more about, and most certainly celebrate a great event with.

This past weekend, I was fortunate to attend the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. This was my third time at the conference and though I am exhausted beyond what should be possible, I walked away with a brain full of workshop related processes and two new friends. Even though, I am renewed with more knowledge from the workshops and keynote speakers, I have a feeling, it is the connection to my new friends that will carry me further in life and in writing.

Friends at the Surrey International Writers' Conference

My advice for meeting friends is….

  • Be yourself
  • Get out there and meet people
  • You have nothing to lose
  • You have everything to gain
  • Like minds attract like minds
  • Everyone has something to contribute
  • You are not the only person who is shy, quiet, reserved, etc
  • Somebody, somewhere is waiting for a friend like you, so what are you waiting for?

An Autumn to Remember…

Autumn on the coast of British Columbia is, generally speaking, wet, blustery, and at times a punch to the gut from Mother Nature, reminding us that summer has come to an end. To be completely honest, I am a summer girl. I love the heat, the patio dinning, beach BBQ’s, and all things that go along with the footloose and fancy free season. This autumn however, has demonstrated just how the season between summer fun and Christmas can be a magical symphony of vibrant colors and delicious, crisp autumn air.

I have been lapping up the change of season happening beyond my window for several weeks. It has been a slow but stunning transition. When the first leaf turned red, I honestly thought the rain would follow fast on its heels. To my delight, autumn has been anything but rainy.

an autumn to remember
Photo courtesy of (c) David C Williams

Yesterday was reminiscent of my younger years when as a family we would pile into the station wagon and go for a Sunday drive. We didn’t always have a destination, nor did we have an expectation of anything other than that which the drive provided.

My husband and I ventured out early yesterday morning. The sun was bright and promised a glorious day. We drove the back roads taking in farmers fields, sleepy farm animals, and the most amazing landscape of color every way my eyes turned.

The local mountains, rich with a jumble of shapes and colors, suddenly had depth to their towering masses. Even the berry fields have tinted themselves a festive cranberry color in celebration of the season. If you are lucky enough (and thankfully we are) to live near the ocean, the contrast of the blue water against a fireworks display of autumn is a sight one is not easy to forget.

Yes, autumn is certainly giving us a show this year and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to experience it.

Thankful Thoughts

Today, thankful thoughts are at the forefront of my mind. It is, after all, Thanksgiving Monday in Canada. Today, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media will be littered with gratitude filled thoughts. This of course, is a very good thing. Most certainly it is a trend I would like to see more of.

My  belief is, that which you focus on is equal to that which you experience. This belief is the reason I guide my thoughts daily through meditation, gratitude exercises and such. If we only ever have control over how we perceive and react to the world beyond our own minds, then surely we can find a little time each day to take care of those thoughts. 

Several of my previous posts have focused on mindfulness, seventy three of them to be precise. You can read more of my “mindful” posts here. Mindfulness is not merely a state of mind, but also an active, doing, sort of approach to life. It involves being aware of our surroundings just as much as it involves being centered and grounded in our own peacefulness. Mindfulness asks us to be present in the moment and have gratitude for whatever that present happens to be.

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Mindful Mondays – Week 73 – My Tribe

A tribe, as defined by the English Oxford Dictionary, is “a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.”

My tribe however isn’t linked by blood or religion. I have no idea where they fit in terms of social or economic standing. I know we use different dialects at times (oh those darn Canadian u’s) and we certainly follow no leader. Instead we move as one, each taking a turn at showcasing that which the rest of us might enjoy, delight in, and share.

My Tribe

My tribe consists of authors, readers, editors, marketing specialists, book designers, formatting experts, and more. Most importantly though, my tribe is a tribe of book lovers. We read and then proclaim a story’s greatness to the rest of the group. Gathering for book related events is a highlight to our week. We celebrate book releases like we would a child’s birth.

We may not ever have the opportunity to meet in person, but we certainly consider ourselves exceptionally fortunate if we do. Our excitement for one another’s accomplishment is honest and authentic. The uniqueness of our tribe is that we recognize we are not in competition with one another but instead in a relationship of shared interests. 

We are book lovers and it has been my most fortunate circumstance to call these amazing people part of my tribe. This past week, many members of my tribe took time out of their own busy lives to share the release of my latest book. Honored, touched, and incredibly grateful I am to call these individuals friends.

Take a moment and check out what my tribe has been up to….

Kelsey Gietl is currently finishing up her second novel titled, Twisted River. I was thrilled to be an early reader, and I am telling you it is going to be so challenging for all of you to wait until Twisted Rivers arrives in stores this December.

Heather from Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen blog read and reviewed Stealing Mr. Smith. Word has it Heather is also working on her own novel. I am very much looking forward to that release. Check out her blog and see what she is reading next.

Books and a Brunette (I love the name of her blog) AKA Jen reads and blogs about her picks. I am always certain to learn something new when I visit her blog. This month she interviewed me for the release of Stealing Mr. Smith and I have to admit that I had to really think about a couple of those questions. She asks unique and intriguing questions and it was a joy to be interviewed by her.

Looking for an Instagram bookworm to follow? Look no further than myreadingzen or adventurenlit. These two book lovers offer great book posts. You can be sure your tbr pile is about to grow by the bushel.

A voice actor is a special individual who crafts a story into a production with the sole use of their own voice. Lillian is one of those talented people who I desperately wanted to work with. I have a new goal to write a story that calls for a British protagonist if only so she can narrate it.

I have been fortunate to meet some amazing people through social media. It gives me hope that the world, despite the latest and greatest developments in technology, cannot remove the need for humans to connect with one another. We do that through books. How do you connect with your tribe?

Mindful Mondays – Week 71 – Be Authentic!

Being authentic sounds easy enough. I mean how difficult is it to be the real version of yourself? You, after all, are already perfect for the job of being you. You’ve been training for it your entire life, evolving, growing, shifting. No one can tell you, “you are doing “you” wrong”. Being you, being authentic, is a key element to experiencing your life’s joys, successes, and opportunities.

Can you imagine living your life by way of another person’s expectations? What if your family wants you to be one thing, your boss wants you to be something else, and your best friend expects yet another version? Exhaustion would hit you before you even put your feet on the floor each morning.

Here is the kicker….in the above example, you would be behaving as if you knew precisely how those individuals expect you to be. But, you never truly know another person’s thoughts, you would be making life choices based on what you interpreted someone else wanting from you. To me, that is the epitome of a hamster wheel on high speed.

So, how do you be authentic?

Love yourself first:

Give yourself permission to love yourself. If you do not see fit to love yourself, just think of how much more difficult you are making it for others to love you. When you love yourself, you tell yourself good stories about who you are. You don’t let negative self talk derail the good qualities you carry with you. Nobody is perfect, but we are all worthy of love. Start with you and watch it grow.

For more information on how to love yourself first check out my I Am Love blog post.

Do what you love:

How many people do you know that are living a life that doesn’t resonate with them? Whether it is a job or another area of your life, doing what you love is a direct route to being authentic. Just to be clear, doing what you love doesn’t mean you neglect responsibilities. I don’t exactly enjoy taking out the garbage, but if I didn’t take out the garbage the ramifications most certainly wouldn’t make me feel more authentic.

I have a 70/30 rule (you can check out the blog post here). In a nutshell the rule states if you are enjoying or for our purposes here, are being authentic for 70% of your day to day activities, the other 30% isn’t nearly as distracting. This rule allows you to focus the majority of your life on things that you love and the rest, well, it just kind of takes care of itself as you work your way through your day.

Give of yourself:

Being authentic isn’t a solitary path in life. As humans, we seek out communion with others. To be authentic, it is important to find a way to give of yourself to others. These acts of giving should not come from a place of obligation, but instead from a place of true desire to share with others that which you enjoy.

Random acts of kindness remain at the top of my list for a direct route to feeling fulfilled. If you ever find yourself in a slump, get up immediately and go and do or say something kind to another individual. You will magically change two lives in one moment.

An authentic life:

I do my best to live an authentic life. Seldom does a day go by where I don’t show myself love and kindness. I love what I do and have gratitude for the opportunity to work from home as a writer each and every day. Giving of myself is a natural part of life for me. Sometimes it is through volunteer work other times it is with heartfelt connections with others in all kinds of otherwise mundane situations.

Recently, in anticipation of the release of Stealing Mr. Smith, I offered a giveaway. I had so much fun with the giveaway and it reminded me just how much I enjoy sharing books with others. Seldom does a book remain on my shelf once I’ve read it. I am always excited to give it away to family and friends and share the joy of the story that I found within its pages.

So, starting this October, I am excited to announce that I will be offering a monthly giveaway for books that I have enjoyed. I can’t wait to share them with you. Sign up for my newsletter or follow me on social media to find out how to enter the monthly giveaway.

Don’t forget… Stealing Mr. Smith releases on September 25th.

Stealing Mr. Smith

Mindful Mondays – Week 70 – Stealing Mr. Smith

Stealing Mr. Smith is a mere two weeks away from releasing. The time has whipped by at break neck speed as I attempt to tackle my “to do” list. As you can probably tell by this very tardy blog post, time is slipping away from me. I hope you’ll forgive me the late post as I have a GIVEAWAY to offer you!

I am giving away 3 digital copies of Stealing Mr. Smith. Time is running out though so get yourself over to the link ASAP as the giveaway closes tonight. Seriously, run! Don’t walk. You have 5 hours left to enter.

Good luck and happy reading!


P.S. If you miss the giveaway, you can pick up the new release on September 25, 2018 at Amazon or one of your favorite online retailers.

Stealing Mr. Smith Giveaway

Mindful Mondays – Week 69 – Living Life with Priorities

Priorities are those items in life that we put above others. Priorities should and will shift as we navigate the waters of our life. In the early years when my son was a toddler, he was my priority. He was my focus and I spent my days teaching, playing, and enjoying his young life experiences. Now that he is a young adult (how did that happen?!?!), my priority is not to ensure he gets enough sleep, eats well, and has outside time everyday.

Though my son’s wellbeing continues to be important to me, his day to day choices are out of my scope as they are now his responsibility. Different ages and stages in life elicit a varying list of priorities. I tend to reboot with every change in season. With autumn hot on our heels, I am reminded to update my beliefs on what is important to me in the coming months.

Autumn’s Priorities #1

Meditate daily. I love to meditate. I am well versed in the benefits of meditation and I experience first hand how amazing it feels to begin each day with hope and love in my heart.

In fact, I am delighted with a special mediation I experienced just a couple of days ago. There I was sitting on a cliff above the water’s edge. The ocean waves crashing below me. The wind gently kissing my face. The morning birds calling to one another in song.  With out the rhythm of music or the guidance of thought, just me, my breath, and the sounds of nature, I went deep into a restorative state of meditation.

It would seem likely that with a recent experience such as the one described above, I would leap right out of bed each morning and put meditation first on my to do list every day. Priorities can be challenging. They can argue, cajole, and try to convince you to do them later. I noticed this morning that my priority of mediation tried some of those tricks, listing off all the other important tasks that needed doing.

In order to stay true to my priorities, I need to silence the voice of all other things and focus on taking care of the things that are important to me first. This is one reason why I keep my priority list to a small number. I fully believe I can do anything I want to do in this world, I just can’t do all of them at the same time.

Living Life With Priorities

Autumn’s Priorities #2

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Mindful Mondays – Week 68 – A Journey Through Fiction

Fiction, that magical storybook time machine that can have us on the edge of our seats in suspense. Keep us reading late into the night for just one more chapter. Or even transport us to an entirely new world in a few pages. Journeying into fiction is one of my guilty pleasures. It also feels much like a life force that has the ability to sustain me.

On a weekend trip to Portland, Oregon, I found myself in the position of appreciating fiction from three uniquely different vantage points. One as a writer. Another as a reader. Yet more surprising was when I saw a setting through the eyes of a character. You will soon meet Bernice from Stealing Mr. Smith when the title releases in September 2018.

I traveled by train from the quaint little corner of Bellingham, Washington known as Fairhaven to Portland’s Union Station. As a historical fiction author, I have to mention my love of train stations. The architecture, the moldings, the wooden benches, and the actual train itself. All of these inspire stories inside my head. A Journey Through Fiction Continue reading

Mindful Mondays – Week 67 – Brilliance or Insanity???

Brilliance, defined by dictionary.com is excellence or distinction; conspicuous talent, or mental ability. In contrast, insanity is defined as a derangement of the mind. However, as a writer, the two are inextricable. Of course writers prefer to be viewed as brilliant creators, but in reality, insanity seems to lie just below the surface.

The topic of brilliance versus insanity has come up a few times over the past couple of weeks as I discuss the soon to be released, Stealing Mr. Smith with my beta readers. To give you an idea of where things lie among these two contrasting yet entangled words, I want to share with you the logic that has me experiencing both moments of brilliance and glimmers (okay, reams) of insanity.

Stealing Mr. Smith

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Mindful Mondays – Week 66 – Remembering Flower

Flower was one of my closest friends. She inserted herself into my life by way of cuteness and persistence. It has been over a year since she passed away, yet lately she has been in my mind and on my heart in a new way. Now, is probably a good time to tell you that Flower was our family dog.

We stumbled upon Flower, some would say by accident, others might say it was serendipity at play. I choose to believe the latter. She had recently arrived in our city, accompanied by her brothers and sisters as part of the English Springer Spaniel Rescue Society. For our son, it was love at first sight. In the end, that is what tugged our hearts to inquire about her. 

In her later years, our once bounding puppy (seriously, if she liked you, there was no keeping her down from enthusiastically saying hello), dealt with blindness and hearing loss. Even these challenges refused to alter her joyful disposition.

Flower navigated the neighborhood from memory. In this video, she knows the curb is coming as this was her beloved lavender bush, the one I occasionally had to pull her out of as she immersed herself in all its glory.

I think of her often and miss her every time. She was my running buddy for years. Then as my life changed, so did hers. She became my constant companion, under the desk as I began the journey of writing, often stretching out to claim every square inch of floor space.

For months after she passed, we avoided neighborhood walking routes that would take us past her favorite spots. Neighbors, so used to seeing her beside us, shared our grief at her passing. Even dogs we encountered knew our heart's loss, for they would stop and wait for us to meet them and sit patiently as we said hello, absorbing their understanding of our loss.

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