Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My article, "Reducing Food Waste" appeared in yesterday'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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Healthy Choices Wellness Show

Yesterday, I spent most of the day at the Hampton Inns Hotel. I enjoyed meeting with vendors and holistic practitioners from Guelph and nearby communities. I also sat in on six workshops.

Some of the highlights...

From Spiritual Intuitive Kerrilynn Shellhorn
  • Peace is our ego's greatest enemy.
  • We have a misguided obligation to purpose. Purpose is not saving the whales or moving to Africa. Whatever we do with joy and passion is our purpose.
  • Stop. Think. Breathe.
  • Each morning, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath and ask yourself: What does my spirit need today to feel joy? The answer you receive within five seconds comes from your heart space. 
From Holistic psychotherapist Tiffany Lazic
  • If we do not practice self care, we will not have enough physical energy.
  • When our lower chakras are blocked, we lack physical health and vitality.
  • When our upper chakras are blocked, we lack discernment. We do not listen to inner messages and guidance. We feel lost and do not know how to put ourselves out there. 
  • Heart chakra is the meeting place of the upper and lower chakras. Healing comes from the heart chakra.
  • Definition of perfectionism--A process by which we put a bar so high it is unattainable. This is a form of self-abuse.
From Psychologist Cecilie Lacey
  • If certain negative events and conflicts constantly appear in your life, ask yourself the following question: What part of me attracts this experience? You may be unconsciously attracting a victim experience. Meditate and pray on it.
  • At the level of your true self, you are perfect, but living in a less-than-perfect reality.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


 My article, "Designing Your Business Card," 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, November 20, 2011

J. Edgar

A powerful movie directed by Clint Eastwood, J. Edgar opens the door to the secretive FBI director's closet.

Leonardo DiCaprio delivers an outstanding and convincing performance as Hoover evolves from an awkward young man under the control of his mother to a brooding and menacing public figure. J. Edgar Hoover worked under eight presidents and had a collection of secret files that were destroyed immediately after his death. It was not necessary to use two actors to portray Hoover over the forty-eight year span covered by the movie.  Heavy layers of latex and makeup were used to transform DiCaprio's baby cheeks into Hoover's bulldog jowls.

Eastwood succeeds in questioning Hoover's historical record while giving credence to the many rumours about cross-dressing and homosexuality.

Watch the trailer.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Fireside Chat with Nicholas Ruddock

Last night, local author and doctor Nicholas Ruddock talked about his writing journey at the third in a series of fireside chats at the Guelph Public Library.

In his twenties, Ruddock took a year off to write, but found he had no ideas or inspiration. So, he completed his internship and spent the next thirty years or so practicing medicine in Newfoundland, Yukon, Montreal and Guelph. In 2002, he decided to start writing. At that time, he was "a writer without connections." Using Newfoundland as his base, he wrote poetry and a number of short stories. He has been published in The Dalhousie Review, The Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead, Prism International, Grain, sub-Terrain, Event and Exile. He also entered and won a number of contests, including the Journey Prize.

He wanted to publish a book of his short stories, but his agent suggested he write a novel instead. Using Toronto as his base, he wrote The Parabolist in seven months. He did not intend for the novel to be a thriller, but found himself writing about murder, rape and a police investigation. He sent the novel in installments to his agent. The final manuscript was sent to six publishers. Within 24 hours, Doubleday expressed interest. The book was out in the spring of 2010. He has written another novel which is being reviewed by Doubleday.

He offered the following tips to aspiring writers...
  • Enter contests before writing a novel. You need a track record in Canada before agents and publishers will take you on.
  • A sense of failure is continually present. Your work will be rejected. Rise above it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three Authors

Last night, I enjoyed listening to three authors--Ami McKay, Wayne Johnston, Anita Rau Badami--at Norfolk United Church in downtown Guelph.

Ami McKay read from the prologue of her latest book, The Virgin Cure. This is McKay's followup novel to her highly successful debut, The Birth House. Set in New York City's Lower East Side during the 1870s, The Virgin Cure was inspired by McKay's great-great-grandmother, Dr. Sadie Fonda Macintosh, who practiced street medicine in the slums. McKay had intended to write the book in her grandmother's voice, but while writing, she began to hear the words of a very different character, a twelve year old girl named Moth.

Wayne Johnston's humour and Newfoundland roots were evident as he talked about his writing journey and his latest book, A World Elsewhere. Set in Manhattan and Rhode Island during the late nineteenth century, Johnston was inspired to write the book after a series of extended visits to George Vanderbilt's estate. Although Johnston draws upon the historical existence of the Vanderbilt family, A World Elsewhere is fiction.

Anita Rau Badami is one of my favourite authors. I have read many of her books and enjoyed listening to her read from her latest, Tell it to the Trees. She was inspired to write the book after visiting an Indian family in a small, isolated town in Northern British Columbia. There was tension in the home and one of rumours about the family stayed with Badami. Apparently, the older woman had locked her husband out during a cold winter night, and he had frozen to death. In Tell it to the Trees, the story begins with the discovery of a tenant's frozen body in the backyard of the Dharma family's isolated home.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Comforting Prayer

I found the following prayer in the December issue of Oprah.


May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that
you are exactly where you are 
meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite
possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that
you have received,
and pass on the love that has
been given to you.

May you be content knowing
you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into
your bones and allow
your soul the freedom to sing,
dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every
one of us.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

And Also Sharks

Last night, I visited another book club. This time, I was in for a special treat. Jessica Westhead, the author of And Also Sharks was also in attendance. Catalina Novoa, bookseller at The Bookshelf, had invited Jessica to the November meeting.

Nine of us listened as Jessica read from the title story. One of the ladies commented that Jessica's speaking voice and writing voice were one and the same. We all agreed. She brought the book to life and then proceeded to share her motivation for some of the stories in the collection.

While riding her bicycle in Toronto, she thought about shoplifting and wondered how she could take it to a whole new level. The result is "Coconut," In this piece, the protagonist progresses from shoplifting to abducting a baby from a stroller on a city sidewalk.

Jessica spoke at length about "Plant Lady." While working overtime at an earlier job, Jessica met a plant lady who reprimanded her for forgetting her name.

She based "The Healing Arts" on an actual encounter with a belligerent photographer at one of her husband's early photo shoots. There was no violence, but the incident stayed with her and she decided to stretch the drama in this short story.

The main characters in her stories can be considered misfits, outsiders or losers. Such characters are often disliked by their co-workers and experience discomfort in their long-term personal relationships. As I read through the stories, I found myself laughing at their quirks and, a few pages later, grieving or feeling embarrassed for them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tower Heist

LOL throughout the entire movie.

While the movie is based on the antics of Bernie Madoff, it is not a serious drama. Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy are comedic actors who deliver outstanding performances. Stiller plays the part of building manager Josh and Murphy is a local hoodlum Slide. Alan Alda captures the callousness of generic scammer, Arthur Shaw.

Parts of the movie are  farcical giving new meaning to the expression "a willing suspension of disbelief."

I recommend this movie--you will leave with a smile on your face.

Watch the trailer.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Liona Boyd in Guelph

Last night, I attended a Liona Boyd concert at the Village by the Arboretum. While it was described as a dress rehearsal or preview of her Ontario tour, we all enjoyed listening to the First Lady of Guitar sing, play and talk about her life.

We were surprised to learn that she had been diagnosed with Task Specific Focal Dystonia--an incurable neurological disease--in 2003. Years of repetitive guitar movements had caused her brain maps for the right hand fingers to lose their clarity. When she realize she could no longer perform to her own high standards, she left the concert stage. Needing an outlet for her creativity, she took up singing and began songwriting in 2004. Through retraining, she was able to pick up the guitar again. She is back on the concert stage and,with an accompanying guitarist, delighting her many fans with her performances.

Listen to her beautiful voice.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Fireside Chat with Edeet Ravel

Last night, I joined about twenty people gathered around Edeet Ravel, the first author in the Guelph Public Library's Fireside Chat series.

Born in Israel and raised in Montreal, Edeet now makes Guelph her home. Her background is an impressive one: a PhD in Jewish Studies and a Masters in Creative Writing. Her teaching career spanned twenty years; she taught at McGill, Concordia and John Abbott College.

We were all fascinated by her writing journey. While she has been writing since age twelve, she did not submit her work until her forties. After writing 10,000 Lovers, she spent one hour on the Internet looking for U.K. publishing houses. She addressed twenty different envelopes and enclosed the first five pages of her novel in each one. She did not include a query letter or SASE. One editor responded, asking her to send her novel as an attachment. Two weeks later, the editor made an offer. In the past ten years, Edeet has released ten more books. Many of those books had been written previously; she edited and revamped them after 10,000 Lovers was released.

Edeet shared many tips and tidbits about the world of writing...
  • In Canada, small presses are supported by the Canada Council. They cannot take money from writers, and they are expected to publish seven books a year. 
  • You can send a manuscript to a Canadian publishing house--large and small--without an agent. Edeet does not recommend sending manuscripts to American agents.
  • Edeet relies on her own professional editor. She believes it is important to have get feedback from many readers and to ensure that the final draft is a polished one.
  • You must be excited about your book and want to work on it all the time. If not, give yourself permission to find another topic.
  • Do not be afraid to press Delete. When Edeet rewrote one of her books as Young Adult, only one sentence of the original book survived.
  • Self-published books are expensive and are not eligible for any prizes. Edeet recommends a traditional publisher.
  • Ambition is a big part of making it in the literary world. Publishing houses, especially small ones, expect you to handle your own promotion. How well you do depends upon your energy level, financial investment and motivation.
  • We are now in a male era. Books written by men are doing better than those written by women.
  • Novellas are very popular now.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Published in Spanish

As I was surfing the Internet, I discovered two of my articles had been translated into Spanish.

Check out the following articles: Como Preparar un Curriculum Tecnico and Como Tratar el Prurito Invernal.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dinner with Writers Ink

Last night, four of us gathered at Symposium Restaurant for our monthly dinner meeting. The conversation varied as we discussed literary agents, query letters, social networking, and NaNoWrMo.

I left inspired to continue writing and sending out more query letters.

Visit the blog for Writers Ink.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wellness Care not Sick Care for Baby Boomers

Brampton based chiropractor, Justine Blainey-Broker, delivered a high-energy presentation at the Better Living Boomer Show. She is enthusiastic and passionate about helping us become healthy and independent centenarians.

While I had heard some of the suggestions before, I found the following tips and statistics very interesting:
  • Each year, there are 7.5 million unnecessary surgeries in North America.
  • 75% of major illnesses such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's are preventable if we make appropriate lifestyle changes.
  • In addition to a good quality multivitamin and essential oils, Dr. Blainey recommends we take the following: Vitamins C and D3, Calcium/Magnesium, CoQ10, and Glucosamine.
  • CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) helps with memory and stress. It can also delay the onset of Parkinson's Disease.
  • Buy grain-fed or free-range chicken and turkey.
  • If you do not get all your vegetable servings, consider using a juicer to make delicious juices. She recommended a combination of kale, banana and mango.
  • Arthritis is not a function of age. It is due mainly to lack of maintenance. Like cars, our bodies need to be driven and have regular maintenance checks. 
  • One in two women and one in eight men will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lives.
  • Be careful when taking anti-inflammatory medications. They can cause health problems with the gastro-intestinal system, liver and kidneys.