The Summer of 2021

The summer of 2021 has been a rollercoaster ride in every way. Covered by a heat dome, our little valley reached 40+ degrees Celsius, an oppressive and unusually high temperature on the coast of the island. We have moved on to temps in the mid to high teens, more like fall than late summer. The one constant has been dryness. With the exception of a few hours of light rain a week or so ago, we have not had rain since June 15th. Climate change is at our back door, banging loudly, trying to grab our attention before it's too late. Our serious drought conditions have sparked fires, devastating forests and wildlife, ravaging homes and hopes.

And the world at large? Yikes! I'm hesitant to open news feeds for fear of what I'll see. The heartbreak of Haiti, once again suffering from the forces of nature, their plight overshadowed by the endless news cycle that excitedly pounces on the next traumatic or dramatic event. The people of Afghanistan, a seemingly endless war ending, yet they will continue to be torn apart as their country gropes for equilibrium—the fear that it will forever be out of reach and that women, in particular, will suffer for it. The US battle for democracy; unrelenting images of unrest, violence, and racism—politicians spewing hatred on all media platforms.

Closer to home, Indigenous nightmares exposed, people crying out in horror and solidarity, then moving on to the next news item. Our government seemingly insensitive to the plight of our forests, our waters, our people. Calling an election when none is needed rather than using funds more productively.

Then there's Covid. Containment was in sight in our little corner of the world. In reach. But we removed a mask mandate too soon. We tore them off and invited travellers to visit. At the same time. Did no one consider the scientific concept of introducing one variable at a time? There was always going to be a spike, but our spike is higher than it needed to be, and continues to grow. Rather than extinguishing Covid here, so that we can fully support needier countries in achieving the same goal, we have fanned the flames and will continue to focus on us. I'm also seeing the same unrest and racism, the same vitriol, spewing from mouths of citizens and politicians alike, that we see in the States. It is not the Canada I thought I knew. My naiveté is a hard realization.

Those are the dips in the rollercoaster this summer—scraping the bottom, sparks of anger and angst mingling with the weight of sadness. But just as daylight follows night, a rollercoaster car climbs after descent, right? That was the premise I opened with…a ride of ups and downs. I planned on highlighting the climb by listing counterpoints for each negative news story with equally large positive ones. Sadly, I couldn't think of any. At a loss, I Googled, and could find no major good news stories in the past few months.

Don't get me wrong. There have been many wonderful small moments, mostly locally, mostly in my own life. In the valley, good deeds abound and our charity organizations are well led and sustained. Local businesses are coming alive again, and in my community, they reach out and support one another. While the weather has created chaos, it has also allowed patios, outdoor markets, and outdoor activities to once again thrive. We are now able to gather with a few friends, and I am so lucky that my friends believe in science and are as diligent as we are in thinking about the safety of everyone in our community. I haven't been anemic for the last few years, so I was able to give blood for the first time in my life and look forward to doing so regularly. We expected to say goodbye to one of our pups last summer, but she's graced us with her presence for another year. A beautiful new baby was added to our friend-family circle. I have a new book coming out and several in the cooker. The goodness bounty is plentiful in my small sphere.

But what of its absence on a larger scale? Is it because media, social and mainstream, is powered by negativity and there is no money in "good" news? Or am I looking at it wrong? A series of small celebratory moments—active empathy, helpful deeds, personal successes, recognizing the goodness in people, the wonder of our planet—surely adds up? Analogous to the saying that a single twig breaks, but a bundle of twigs is strong, these small celebratory moments, banded together and wrapped in a hopeful ribbon, become as impactful as a single large positive event, don't they? Is it enough to power that cart back up the track to the top of the rollercoaster?

I sure hope so.

 


We are wired to be caring for the other and generous to one another. We shrivel when we are not able to interact. — Desmond Tutu

I've been absent for far too long. Not just from blogging, but it seems sometimes, from life. Like so many people, with each ripple effect of Covid, my morale ebbs further out of reach and with it, my motivation. A general malaise rides the current, at times threatening to draw all optimism under. I've been diligent in following rules and have led an insular life, my husband and my two pups pretty much my sole companions. They are also my soul compadres, which makes me incredibly fortunate.

I always thought that I would enjoy a quiet life. The concept of moving to one of the smaller islands and cloistering away from the larger world seemed serene and ideal. But the appeal of some quiet time is an entirely different thing than day in and day out of staid sameness. It seems interaction is not an optional component of life for me, but a necessity. I'm craving it. I want to be with friends and laugh. I want to sit in a park and watch children playing and teens hanging out. I even want to be bumped and banged and irritated in a busy mall. I want it all—the whole busy crazy mashup of humanity colliding.

I remind myself constantly about how very lucky I am. I am secure. I am loved. I am not mourning personal loss. These are gifts that an unfathomable number of people cannot claim. However, there is an emotional toll for all of us and the tension these days is both dissipating and swelling. A return to normal, albeit an altered one, is just around the bend…yet still out of sight. The heart buoys at the thought and sinks at the wait. Perhaps, because waiting is all we have been doing. And doing is what keeps our spirit up. That and people. People. People. People.

Anyone for a group hug when this is over?



New Resource & Giveaway Alert: The Occupation Thesaurus Writing Guide Is Here!

Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share...a special chance to win some help with your writing bills. Awesome, right?

Some of you may know Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I'm part of their street team. I'm handing the blog over to them so they can tell you a bit about their Writer's Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!





Certain details can say a lot about who someone is, like a character's goals, desires, and backstory wound. But did you know there's another detail that can tie your character's arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the "get to know the character" curve for readers?


It's true. Your character's occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.


Think about it...how much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles, or helping you live your truth?

Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.

Maybe you haven't thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character's personality, interests, and skills. It's okay, you aren't alone. The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. You'll be able to pick the perfect job for them and discover how to weave it into the very fabric of the story. (Here's one of the jobs profiled in this book: FIREFIGHTER.)

GIVEAWAY ALERT: THE WRITER'S SHOWCASE IS WAITING


To celebrate the release of a new book, Becca and Angela are running a giveaway from July 20th and July 23rd. You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within the Writer's Showcase. Stop by to enter if you like!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles For Your Characters!



Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past.

What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right?

To access this list, GO HERE. 

Happy writing to all!


A Contemplative Study of Humanity...and Writing

Keep in mind that I am not a huge fan of television and, as such, I am incredibly judgmental and easily disinterested.

We just finished watching the Netflix series “Rectify.” I will mourn its end, but will savour and contemplate it for weeks to come. For those who like a good film or show, it is a slow burn with exemplary acting and a solid story line. 

For the writers who read my posts, buckle up. It is an endless lesson in craft. The dialogue is incredibly authentic. Simple and raw, it is peppered with the quietest sense of humour, bringing relief to the most angst-ridden moments. Conceptually it is metaphorical and philosophical, yet somehow remains grounded in earthy believability. The characters are drawn from (and the actors deliver) every man— people we all know...or someone we are. They’re thrown into this impossible “what if” situation. The writing has such contemplative depth and has the courage to let the space between the words speak for itself. It is a masterpiece of show don’t tell...both in the writing and acting. 

That’s it. All I’ve got to say. Check it out. Hopefully, it will help fill the void many of you are facing these days.

(Warning: Spoilers in the Vulture Article linked below.) 

There May Never Be a Show Like Rectify Again



I'm interested in history, in trying to relate the past to the present and to understand how people thought about their problems and pleasures. —Claire Tomalin

And so it begins...bagging and boxing, hoping my treasures travel safely to their new home.

I found packing my non-fiction books depressing. At first, I thought it was because it was like saying goodbye to old friends, but then I realized it was something else entirely. It was depressing because I registered how little time I’ve spent in their company in recent years. I miss them. I miss researching historical events and stumbling across minutia that make my heart hum. I miss writing historical fiction.

So as I placed them in their cartons and methodically dragged the tape across the top, snugging them closed, I made a promise to them and to me. If I can write YA and contemporary romance at the same time, why can’t I add a third? History will once again become my present.