Posted in writer, writiers

Welcome to Purgatorium

Purgatorium is coming!

Do you enjoy dark tales that will keep you up in the night? Coming November 2016, Purgatorium is an anthology of eleven dark works, by ten writers. 

A project started over a year ago by Connie Di Pietro, Tobin Elliott, Pat Flewwelling and Dale Long. Together, they formed ID Press.

Kevin Craig started The Purgatorio Diaries on his blog recently, where he asked each of us with stories in Purgatorium to answer a range of questions. Kevin’s blogs let you learn a little about each of the ten writers that make up Purgatorium.

I decided to do something a bit different. I asked each writer (and our writer duo) to tell our readers about their story in Purgatorium in ten words or less, and pick a photo that gave a visual insight into their story.

Like what you see? Purgatorium is being launched at Bookapalooza November 19th in Whitby, Ontario. Check out both Bookaplaooza and ID Press to learn more.

I hope you enjoy a peek into the works in Purgatorium, in alphabetical order by story title.


Blood Pies – Kate Arms

Pizza, drugs, or death. A delivery guy’s nightmare.

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You can follow Kate on her Facebook or learn more via her website.


Carousel Eyes – Yvonne Hess

A dark entity must have the woman who escaped him.

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Yvonne is anti social media- but she can find you.


Dubious Pickles – Kevin Craig

The curiosity of boys is far too overpowering to ignore.

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Kevin can be found on Facebook , his website or Twitter.


Fight or Flight – Tobin Elliott

Sometimes love is painful. Sometimes pain feels like love.

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Tobin can be found on his website or Twitter.


Ivy – Mel E. Cober

The Bad Voice makes a little girl do horrid things.

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Mel can be found on Facebook her website or Twitter.


Mule – Pat Flewwelling

Joshua’s worst day becomes his best – and last – day ever.

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Pat can be found on her Facebookher website or Twitter.


Nekomata – A.L. Tompkins

Trapped by a murderous ghost, two girls find an unlikely ally.

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Amanda is too busy saving the world to be on social media. (Or is that destroying the world?)


Pieces – Tobin Elliott & Robert E. Walton

Frankenstein can replace body parts, but when his mind goes…

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This dangerous duo can be found on their respective social media sites.


Terminal – Robert E. Walton

Time is nothing but a human construct.

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Robert can be found on Facebook.


Unstrung – Connie Di Pietro

Sometimes being friendly to the new neighbour comes with strings attached.

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Connie can be found on Facebook her website and Twitter.


Victim of Love – Samantha Banik

A fountain of youth camouflaged by dangers of unrequited love.

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 Samantha can be found on Twitter .


Purgatorium is launching at Bookaplaooza 2016. See you there!

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Posted in anxiety, stress

Anxiety- You Don’t Control Me Anymore

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I haven’t written a blog for a long time for my own website. But several people have asked me to write this one.

Last week, was Bell’s #LetsTalk mental health awareness campaign. I meant to have this written well before then. But writing about your own personal issues is hard. Especially ones that come with a stigma.

I have anxiety- and I’ve been taking medication to help control it for years. I’m not ashamed I take medication, it was either take pills, or feel panicked all the time.

I still have anxious times, but nowhere the level it used to be. Some things, like large crowds still trigger me. Especially if I feel closed in amungst a bunch of strangers. I don’t go near malls in December, and I go to places like Disney in off seasons.

I was originally put on medication because I have an irregular and rapid heart beat- and my anxiety makes my heart act up even more. Feeling my heart race like that made me even more anxious. A vicious circle.

I’ve been coping much better over the last year or so. I’m down to the lowest dosage of my medication at last. The hardest part is getting fully OFF anxiety medications. I tried to go too far in between doses too fast, and I ended up having withdrawals. (Yes, I’m under care of a doctor, along with advice from a pharmacist- I’m in no way suggesting anyone attempt to go off long-term medication on their own.)

After a week of attempting to go forty-eight hours in between doses, and having terrible headache, dizziness, and mood swings I opted to try every thirty-six hours instead. I’m feeling like my head is much less foggy this week, although I’m still having some ups and downs. I know it will take several weeks, if not months to completly wean off of my medications- and that’s okay.

However, the part about all of this that’s not okay, and I’ve dealt with first hand is the main reason I had to write this. Mental illness of any kind is not in our head, and we can’t “just get over it.” Or how about “What do you have to be anxious about anyway?” Saying so to a person suffering from anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness makes them feel like shit. If we could stop feeling this way on our own, we would.

When my anxiety is at it’s worse I feel like I’m drowning, but only I can feel the water fill my lungs. I’m learning to cope, but others aren’t so lucky. I know many who suffer from various forms of mental illness. It took me a lot to write this and put myself out there like this. All I ask is for a little more understanding. You have no idea what another person may be going though, so don’t be so quick to judge.

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Posted in writer

Ontario Writers’ Conference 2015

Wayson Choy, our lunch speaker.
Wayson Choy, our lunch speaker.

My third year at the Ontario Writers Conference was this past weekend. I’m still worn out. So much learning, new ideas and fun crammed into just two days.

I attended the Festival of Authors Friday night. (Daytime Master classes were also offered, but I didn’t sign up this year). Actress Anna MacKay-Smith did a great job interviewing each of the authors. Rob Winger, Plum Johnson and Catherine Gildiner were each given a series of questions to answer, followed by a reading of their works. I purchased Gildiner’s book the next day at conference, from Blue Herron Books, the book seller for OWC. (and WCDR I might add- support your small town book stores!)

Saturday was the big event. Conference ran from 9am-almost 6pm. A full day for sure, but very rewarding. I thourougly enjoyed the two classes and one lecture I selected, as well as the other speakers. I’d say i took the most away from Andrew Borkowski’s Delicious Dialogue I could take more classes from him for sure. He’s entertaining, as well as incredibly informative. The other highlight for me was Wayson Choy’s lunch talk. I could listen to Wayson talk for hours, as i’m sure the rest of those attending would agree. I even got the privilege of talking to him at the festival Friday night. He’s incredibly approachable and easy to talk to.

Lunch followed, and it was the best I’ve had at a conference yet. My second workshop was Breaking and Entering, with Senior Editor Craig Pyette, followed by a lecture by Olga Filina of The Rights Factory. I took a ton of notes at both, that I can’t wait to put into practice.IMG_6943

All the learning is wonderful, but the best part about conference for me is getting to spend time with other writer friends. Some I get to see in real life only at the annual conference. The encouragement, the laughter, the congratulations when we accomplish a writing goal. These friends have made this journey all that much better. The best friends push you when you need it, and back off when you need that too. They also know who they are, without any mention of their names here. One is pictured here, but everyone knows Kevin Craig and I are great friends.

A dozen of us also went out for dinner after conference ended. What a loud, fun night! Can’t wait to do it again.

Two crazy writers.
Two crazy writers at OWC.
Posted in writer

National Scrabble Day is Today

Today is National Scrabble Day!

The creator of National Scrabble Day is unknown, but it’s celebrated annually on its creator’s birthday, April 13th. An unemployed artist created the classic game of Scrabble in 1931. Alfred Mosher Butts originally called the game Lexiko, Criss-Cross Words, and finally Scrabble, as we all know today.win-372770_1280

Butt and entrepreneur James Burnot made the original games by hand, stamping each letter on each tile.

Scrabble Facts:

Scrabble is played on a fifteen by fifteen square grid.

Scrabble is sold in over one hundred and twenty countries, in twenty-nine languages.

Since 2004 you can watch the National Scrabble Championships on ESPN.

The original game didn’t have a board, but was played with tiles only.

There are over four thousand Scrabble clubs worldwide.

For the game’s 50th anniversary (1998) a Guinness Record was set for the world’s largest Scrabble game, where it took two men to move each six foot square tile.

For Scrabble’s 60th anniversary (2008), which was also Prince Charles’s 60th birthday, a portrait of the prince was made, using Scrabble tiles.

Many celebrities are known to play the game; John Travolta, Sting, Jimmy Kimmel, Moby, Tom Cruise and the Queen are a few.

Chuck Woolery, famous game show personality hosted the TV version of Scrabble form 1984 to 1990. It returned briefly in 1993.

There are one hundred tiles in a Scrabble set, and only one J,K,Q,X and Z.

Are you a competitive Scrabble player?

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BTW- welcome to my new website. Watch for more updates and improvements here.

There are ten two-letter vowel only words that can be played.

Are you a competitive Scrabble player? Will you be playing today?

Posted in family, medical, parenting

Long Winter Nights

It started a few days ago. I’ve seen three a.m., four a.m. and five a.m.. Being awakened by the noise. Having being cursed with being born a light sleeper, I lay awake in between each episode & only fall asleep soundly just before it’s time to get up. I push snooze as many times as possible before dragging my ass out of bed and trudging down to the kitchen to make my morning cup of caffeine.

puppy-487960_1280No, I don’t have a newborn, or even a puppy. I have a husband- with a man cold.

He seemed to be improving- until three a.m. this morning when his hacking started up again. The coughing, the tossing and turning, and oh yes the moaning made it impossible for me to sleep. I love him, but he’s harder to take care of than the kids when he’s ill.

Today, he tried to get up and go to work at 5, but said his entire body ached. I insisted he say home, and got to hear his many complaints today including:

“They taste gross and are yucky!” (Me, trying to give him a different kind of cough drop)

“This soup is too hot- can I have some ice?” (After I delivered him soup- in bed)

“It’s too bright in here- can you close the window?” (After asking me to open the curtains two minutes before)

“You can’t leave me!” (When I had to go to the store to get him more medication.

And then there is his “death whine” when he’s sick. I’ll spare you all the headache-inducing wail my adult husband can make. It’s bad enough I have to hear it!

But I love him, and I take care of him when he’s sick because I do. The fluffing of the blankets, the running to the store, the re-filling of his orange juice. I just got him back to bed, and the kids too. Now I can do some writing, and try not to pay attention to that tingle in my throat…

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Posted in friends, reading, writiers

Standing on the Edge & Jumping into the New

The last little while has been full of writerly newness for me. I went from being totally stalled, to having lots of advancements in my writing goals happen at once.

IMG_5444I think the key to the changes is that I’ve been surrounding myself more and more with my writer friends. They inspire me. There have been several members of The Writers Community of Durham Region that have hit major milestones in their careers in just the last few months. That excitement is almost contagious. I want more for myself now, too.

I think my 1st novel may never see the outside of my computer now but that’s okay. I have many more stories

inside of me, clawing to get out.

On Tuesday night, I read my work aloud for the very first time in front of a crowd. A crowd almost entirely made up of other writers. I knew I’d be reading for WCDR’s Words of the Season back in December, but it wasn’t until two weeks ago that I finally selected a piece.

I chose to get out of my comfort zone, and read a piece that was not what I’d shared with many before. I know

My nervous reading debut
My nervous reading debut

my reading wasn’t without it’s flaws- my anxiety went into overdrive, and I had to force myself to slow down and to breathe a few times. (Five minutes feels like forever when a room full of people are looking at you.) Afterwards, my story was referred to as macabre. I was delighted to hear that. Not only that, but several horror writer friends seemed to really enjoy it. Several have approached me since. Also, another writer friend told me I need to read aloud more often that my work needs to be shared with others. This is why I love being part of such a big community of writers. I’ve now decided to focus on a darker work I’ve wanted to write for quite some time now. Not sure how it will turn out, but I won’t know until I get further into it.

My other news is that I’ve started occasionally blogging for the Toronto radio station Boom 97.3. I’ve had two published so far, with more to come. You can check them out here and here.

Please take the time to check out some of my fellow writer friends as well. I’ll feature one at the end of each of my blogs. I’m a firm believer in reading the works of local authors, as well as the international ones.

Kevin Craig had his 4th book, Burn Baby Burn Baby released in December, and his 5th book, Half Dead and Fully Broken released this week. I absolutely love everything he writes. Pick up one of his books and you’ll see what I mean. All of his books have 4 and 5 star ratings. I think his latest; a young adult paranormal may be my favorite (so far) You can read all about Kevin and his many accomplishments as a writer via his website.

Kevin Craig's novels
Kevin Craig’s novels
Posted in stress

Life’s Little Annoyances

Are there little things in your life that can just drive your around the bend? Stupid things? Here a few of the little things that can tick me right off. I’d love to hear yours.

1. The slippery spot on the hardwood floor from the last time you dusted- weeks ago. Yes, furniture polish cleans your table well- but the teeniest bit of overspray can turn an invisible patch on your floor into a death trap. Of course, I always manage to find that tiny spot & go flying.

The humanity!
The humanity!

2. Cheap plastic wrap. Just went through this. Hubby nearly lost his mind every time he’d go to use the cheap wrap I bought. The cutter tore the plastic into shreds. I finally remembered to buy decent plastic wrap this week and threw out that cheap stuff!

3. Certain food smells. There are some things that just are awful smelling, such at burnt popcorn (seems to linger for days) or a rotten potato (always the last place I look)

4. GPS that tries to kill you. Okay- maybe this one is just me. But on more than one occasion, my GPS has told me to turn the wrong way on a one-way street, or turn where there is a median. I recently changed to my cell phone’s GPS instead- and it lead me down a road that’s been closed for months.

5. People who park like idiots. You know the ones I mean- the ones who think it’s okay to park on sidewalks, take up four spaces with, park in handicapped spaces when they aren’t eligible to do so.

6. Speaking of cars- people who follow me too closely, when I’m already speeding and they could easily pass may annoy me the most of all.

7. Black ice- much like furniture polish overspray. Driveway looks bare- but I’ll be sure to find that 2-inch square of invisible ice and land on my ass.

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No end in sight…

8. Finding the end of a roll of tape. Every. Single. Time. Many a roll have been thrown in frustration and anger when the end morphs into the rest of the roll.

9. Ear worms- how is it that it’s usually the most annoying songs that get stuck in your head? For days? Like the day Boom played a clip of Eddie Murphy’s Party All The Time? That one stuck for 2 entire days.

BTW- it’s apparently my 3rd year anniversary of this blog. Many thanks to those of you who read my works, and especially those of you who share or comment. You can look back at my very first post if you’d like here. I’d proud to say I can see how much I’ve grown as a writer in just 3 years & can’t wait to grow even more.