Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dinner with Guelph Write Now

Last evening, I met with Cindy Carroll and seven other members of Guelph Write Now. The group is celebrating its second anniversary as a writing group.

The conversation was lively and we covered many topics as we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Symposium Restaurant.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


My book review of Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World by Lisa Bloom appears in today's edition of The Globe and Mail.

Read the review.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Tree of Life

This film is unlike any other film I have seen. Even after discussing it afterward with a good friend, I am still not clear about some of its elements. It probably warrants a second viewing, but I think I will wait awhile.

The film meanders around the subconscious of one character, who grows up to be Sean Penn. On the anniversary of his brother's death, he flashes back to his childhood in Waco, Texas.

Watch the trailer.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Revisiting Brian Henry

Five years ago, I attended a few of Brian Henry's workshops. Yesterday, I drove to Woodstock for his workshop entitled, "How to Get Published." It was informative and interesting, definitely worth the drive.

During the day-long workshop, Brian gave us many valuable insights and tips on getting published. Here a few of them:
  • To get published, you need any two of the following: good writing, luck or persistence.
  • Start small and write short stories, book reviews, and articles for online and print markets. 
  • Good writing involves endless rewriting.
  • While you can send your work directly to a publishing house, it is preferable to get an agent. Your manuscript will be taken more seriously.
I enjoyed the hands-on sessions where we shared our query letters and story openings.I appreciated Brian's critique and will redo my letter.

Brian will be facilitating this workshop in Guelph on Saturday, September 17th. Visit his blog for more details about all his workshops and courses.

Monday, August 22, 2011


My article, "Mastering the Art of Haggling," appears in today's edition of The Dollar Stretcher.

The Dollar Stretcher is a group of publications dedicated to helping readers save time and money.

Read the article.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One Day

I chose to ignore the critics and watch this movie.

I was not disappointed.

The movie traces the life of two protagonists, Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) over a 20-year period. After spending time together on the night of their college graduation, they agree to keep in touch on July 15th (St. Swithin's Day).

The film alternates between England and France as Emma and Dexter have their career and relationship ups-and-downs. While Anne Hathaway's British accent was a bit contrived, she delivers an excellent performance as the bright and quirky Emma.

The ending is unexpected. Bring Kleenex.

Watch the trailer.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


My book review of Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden appears in today's Guelph Mercury and Waterloo Record.

Read the review.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Help

It is definitely the best movie of the summer, possibly of the year.

Based in Jackson, Mississippi during the Civil Rights era, The Help focuses on two black maids and the privileged white woman who sets them free. It closely follows the sensational bestseller (of the same name) written by Kathryn Stockett. The book was on the New York Bestseller List for 120 weeks.

Four of the actresses could easily be contenders for the 2012 Oscars. Emma Stone captures the courage and passionate spirit of Skeeter, the young, educated white woman who is determined to expose the lives of colored maids. Viola Davis delivers a spectacular performance as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer plays the outspoken Minny. Bryce Dallas Howard plays the part of Hilly Hillbrook, the "godless" woman who is leader of the Junior League.

On the lighter side...strains of bathroom humour run throughout the movie.

When I read the book a few months ago, I couldn't put it down. This morning, I am still thinking about the movie I saw yesterday.

I highly recommend the book and the movie.

Watch the trailer.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Last night, I joined a few other women of the GPL book club at the Red Papaya restaurant in downtown Guelph. We gathered to eat and enjoy Thai food and discuss Helen Simonson's novel, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.

It was unanimous--we all enjoyed the book.

It is a well-written debut novel based in Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside. Retired Major Pettigrew strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mrs. Ali, the Pakistani village shopkeeper. Brought together by a shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali fall in love. They encounter  a number of subtle and not-so-subtle racist attitudes among their friends and relatives.

I agree with one of the reviews that described the Major as "the perfect romantic hero for thinking women of a certain age."

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Today, I received the July issue of More of Our Canada.  My article, "A Little Maritime Healing," appears on pages 30 to 31 along with four pictures from my latest trip to Nova Scotia.

I am including the first paragraph of my article:

I finally made the connection: I am at my happiest and healthiest whenever I return from the eastern shores of Canada, and shortly after returning, I make my best decisions. I am convinced that some kind of magical spell has been cast over the landscapes and seascapes that make up Canada's Atlantic provinces.