Guest Blog: Grocery Store Conundrums by Jaclyn Dawn

Ever wonder what the featured celebrities think when they see the tabloids? What about their friends, family, and neighbours? How much truth is in those headlines? These are the things I think about when waiting in line at the grocery store.

My curiosity, sense of humour, and impending deadline for the final assignment of my Creative Writing Masters–a full-length novel–led to my debut novel: The Inquirer.

“When an accident jeopardizing the family farm draws Amiah Williams back to Kingsley, Alberta, population 1431, she doesn’t expect her homecoming to make front-page news. But there she is in The Inquirer, the mysterious tabloid that is airing her hometown’s dirty laundry. Alongside stories of high school rivalries and truck-bed love affairs, disturbing revelations about Amiah’s past and present are selling papers and fuelling small-town gossip. As the stakes get higher, Amiah must either expose the twisted truth behind The Inquirer or watch her life fall apart again.”

For me, novels are opportunities for communicating something intricate or otherwise difficult to communicate. Punctuated by headlines, The Inquirer is literary fiction that explores when to speak up and when best to be quiet.

Surrounded by social media, perhaps this book will have readers think twice about posts and tweets as well as the tabloids at the grocery store. More than a social experiment, The Inquirer is dedicated to every woman–to anyone really–who has ever hidden behind a smile. At the very least, I hope readers are entertained.

Published by NeWest Press, The Inquirer officially hits shelves on October 1, 2019. To find out more, you can check out www.jaclyndawn.com or connect with me on Facebook (@authorjaclyndawn) and Twitter (@readjaclyndawn).

Book Launches

St. Albert @ The Cajun House

Oct 1, 7:00pm-9:00pm

Join Jaclyn at The Cajun House in St. Albert for a night of good eats and good drinks.

Triple Header in Calgary @ Shelf Life Books

Oct 9, 7:00pm-9:00pm

Joined by authors Randy Nikkel Schroeder (Arctic Smoke) and Wendy McGrath (Broke City).

Triple Header in Edmonton @ The Almanac on Whyte

Oct 22, 7:00pm-9:00pm

Hosted by Claire Kelly and with authors Randy Nikkel Schroeder (Arctic Smoke) and Meaghan Marie Hackinen (South Away: The Pacific Coast on Two Wheels).

Banana Bread

The characters in The Inquirer and I make a lot of banana bread. It’s my son’s favourite, and overripe bananas are Kingsley Grocery’s specialty.

1 cup              Sugar                                                             1 cup              Chocolate Chips
2 cups                        Flour                                                               1 tsp                Baking Powder
1/3 cup                       Butter, soft                                                     ½ tsp               Vanilla
3                      Bananas, overripe                                       ¼ tsp               Nutmeg
2                      Eggs                                                               ¼ tsp               Cinnamon
1 tsp                Baking Soda, dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients
  3. Place batter in a greased bread pan or muffin tins.
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Cool on wire rack.
  6. Enjoy!
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Guest Blog: Reader Demands by Mandy Eve-Barnett

When I launched my fantasy novella into the world in 2012, I did not have any intention of writing a sequel, to my mind it was complete and I went onto the next writing project. However, it became clear as many similar messages were received from readers that they wanted to know what happen next, even though the story was resolved. It became apparent that my readers wanted to know what the characters did next. So I utilized my enrollment in NaNowriMo 2018 to write a sequel novella, which follows the granddaughter of the original sorceress in The Rython Kingdom.

 

This new story is, once again, set in medieval England and an old foe returns to wreak havoc. Can the young sorceress, Maralynn, see through the disguise of the enemy? Her time will be fraught with challenges but can her exceptional power ultimately overcome? I hope that Rython Legacy satisfies my reader’s curiosity and that the Rython saga is complete.

The official launch is set for 28th September 2019 at Words in the Park in the Agora, 401, Festival Lane, Sherwood Park. Both novellas will be able for sale as well as all my other books. If you would like to connect please use: www.mandyevebarnett.com or any of the social media sites. (I’m on most of them!)

 

 

 

Recipe – Herb Omelette

I began growing fresh herbs on my deck last year and found that a large bunch of mixed herbs cut finely into an omelette mixture gave a fresh summery taste. This year’s herb selection thyme, parsley, rosemary, lemon thyme and oregano.

Apart from the basics: eggs, milk, pepper and salt lightly whisked, you can add whatever takes your fancy to the mix. I soften white or red onion first, and then add some combination of chopped cherry tomatoes, spinach, sliced peppers, asparagus, shredded cheese or anything that is surplus in the fridge basically! Then add the herb and egg mixture.

I cook the omelette in a cast iron skillet and once the bottom is cooked place the skillet under the broiler/grill to fluff up the top. It is an easy, tasty breakfast, lunch or even light supper.

 

 

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Guest Blog: Recycling by Brenda Currey Lewis

I’m so happy to have the opportunity to talk about two of my favorite passions. My memoir about my rare disorder and the environment!

The brain is a complicated organ. But how aware are we that the slightest little thing can go wrong and change the course of a life dramatically. ‘A Twisted Fate: My Life with Dystonia’ tells about my great but ordinary life until the age of seven when things started to go wrong. I started walking on the outside edge of my right foot and it spread through my body. ‘Dystonia’, a rare neurological movement disorder, seizes muscles and forces limbs to twist into odd postures.

My book is a mix of the path that my life took, to medical treatments that would probably not be done today. My parents unwavering advocacy for me and a mention of some of the wonderful people I met along the way. Dystonia and all rare disorders need awareness and this is my contribution.

I will be at Indigo books in South Edmonton Common 1837 99 street on Saturday October 5th from 11 – 4 pm. Drop by, I would love to meet you! Here are a few reviews.

http://www.atwistedfate.ca/Reviews.html

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00GI2WN18/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Environmental issues such as climate change, affecting the health of our planet, seem to get bigger every day. I have been a Reducer, Reuser and Recycler for many years now. The following are tips; suggestions and just ways of thinking that I believe have the potential to help make a difference no matter how big or small! The following actions and beliefs are my opinions only but I want to share! Plastic is the biggest of all our problems. We lived without it and we can again. The following changes are just a start but give me hope!

  • Reduce before the other R’s. Think outside the box and find other uses for things you might just throw away without consideration.
  • Bamboo toothbrushes decompose, shampoo and conditioners that come in the form of bars of soap, all soap should go back to bar form, eliminating the plastic pump containers. There is now detergent that comes in a form very similar to the look of a dryer sheet.
  • Cloth shopping bags are compact and can be folded or balled up and easily slipped in to a purse, pocket etc.
  • Edmonton (and many other cities) has very safe levels of clean drinking water. Why buy bottled water that costs $2 – 3, when you can go home and get that water and more for pennies a glass and tote around in a reusable bottle.
  • The more demand for these types of items will affect corporation’s bottom line and therefore help convince them to make these changes!

          With out of the box thinking, plastic can be reduced significantly. Don’t be told that one person’s contributions will not make a difference. One person can make a difference. There is strength in numbers! It won’t be easy but I will be willing to give up a few things in order to save this planet, I hope you will too!!! Please be ready to give up a few conveniences for a healthier place to live in tomorrow!

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Guest Blog: Stress by Leslie Hodgins

Stress. We hear about and feel stress daily, to the point where we don’t even realize how much it is affecting us.

And if we do know how it’s affecting us, we often don’t know how to reduce it or get away from it. It just becomes a part of our life.

In a study done in 2018 in the UK, over 4,600 persons participated, and the stats were quite disturbing.

2018 STATS

  1. 74% felt so stressed out and overwhelmed that they were unable to cope.
  2. 51% of adults who felt stressed also reported feeling depressed.
  3. 61% of adults reported feeling anxious as a result of stress.

And what are the causes of stress? Things we’re told are a part of everyday life: debts, housing opportunities, body image, comparisons to others and the list goes on.

As if stress in our daily lives isn’t bad enough, there is a certain way of thinking that idolizes stress, wearing it as a badge of honour, believing that we’re not working hard unless we’re so stressed we can’t think straight. Stress has been put up on a pedestal, and we honour it, or are so indifferent to it we don’t think twice about why we feel so bad.

There’s a reason stress makes us feel terrible.

And that’s where I come in. I am a Wellness Coach, specializing in Stress Management. For years, I stressed. I was stressed before there was something to stress about, over-stressed about things when they did happen. I was a stress-o-holic, and I wore it like a badge. It wasn’t until recently I started to manage it and, my life did change for the better.

Of course, it’s easier said than done, but starting small, with something healthy done every day, lets you feel better about life, yourself and goes a long way. The items below are some of the things I did:

  1. Wrote out my dreams on a daily or weekly basis. This made it into a goal, something tangible.
  2. Scheduled self-care regularly. Self-care can be a bath, a spa day, an extra hour of sleep.
  3. Practiced daily affirmations
  4. Stopped comparing myself to everyone else.

Visit my website for more information on stress management.

Stress can be handled. Don’t let it get you.

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Edmonton Hunt for Gold and Treasure

Who hasn’t read books about pirates and treasure chests of gold?

In the past few years, there has been a resurgence for television viewers interested in lost treasures and the expeditions to find them. On television, there is The Curse of Oak Island, where Marty and Rick Lagina are searching on an Island in Nova Scotia for a treasure, and John Gates who has dedicated several episodes of Expedition Unknown on finding treasure, including “The Secret,” about a cryptic book of riddles and illustrations. For all the inclined couch hunters, there are numerous other options.

A long time ago, The Edmonton Journal ran the Great Journal Gold Rush contest in which they printed carton drawings with abstract items and red herrings that ultimately led to a park where a $5,000 voucher for gold wafers was hidden. Readers and their families became treasure hunters.

Presently, for anyone who wishes to go out and explore, there are hands-on hunts in several cities in Canada and the United States. GoldHunt ran their first hunts in June of 2019 in Edmonton and several other locations, each for a chest containing $100,000. With a map, the participants solved the riddles to find the treasure. Yes, maybe this is not the best adventure for myself, as I use a wheelchair to navigate and the world is not entirely accessible, but something compelled me to give it a try. With a team, we started to explore the riddles, but before we could be out searching, it was solved.

When news of a second GoldHunt was released, of course, I wanted another chance at the chest. While $100,000 would be amazing, the treasure hunt was more than the money. Hunting was about using my brain to find the answers to the riddles and their physical locations. The search was about exploring and learning more about the city in which I grew up.

The hunting process was different in GoldHunt 2. Participants were provided an Inception Map with sixteen riddles. Once those were solved, the participants advanced to the next level of four riddles, and then ultimately to the final riddle. Additionally, the YEG map was released on a Saturday afternoon instead of at midnight. This difference has made the treasure hunt more accessible and allowed us the luxury of time.

Photo: Angela Staines

The first day of the hunt, I was researching online and was able to decipher some possible locations for the physical search. The second day of the hunt, my team and I were out exploring the locations where we believed the riddles led and had confirmation by others walking with their phones and maps in hand.

When we solved the first riddle, the rush was exhilarating.

For me, the experience of trying to solve the riddles has been a rollercoaster adventure. During the hunt, I have learned about the city and been able to visit some amazing river valley locations in which I would have never known. Each solved riddle revealed a nugget of history and places which I had yet personally discovered. While my team has not advanced as far as we would’ve hoped – argh – I know the answers are there but have yet to be cracked. I’m hoping we will have time to discover their location.

Shout out to GoldHunt for an amazing summer adventure searching for gold and discovering the local treasures along the way.

#GoldHunt        @GoldHuntCA

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#projectwarmth2019

The extreme cold has been causing extreme temperatures here in our city. 2019’s New Work Award winner Alison Neuman and The Print Machine in Edmonton are launching a short campaign to help those in need with a T-shirt Drive.

For every long sleeve T-shirt purchased- another will be donated to the Bissell Centre in Edmonton to help those in need.

Contact me @, info@alisonneuman.ca, for ordering details.

Together we can wrap our community in warmth.

 

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Punctuation 101

Guest Post by Jaclyn Dawn

As a writer and instructor, I have been asked by Alison to write a few guest blogs on basic grammar. At least with a blog, I couldn’t hear my audience groan.

Let’s start with punctuation. Despite what texting may lead you to believe, we still need punctuation. Below are the main punctuation marks, their basic uses, and some examples:

    • Period (.) If reading were driving, the period is a red light, indicating the end of a sentence. Stop. Example: Grammar is our friend.
    • Comma (,) Again, if reading were driving, the comma is a yield sign. Commas cause a reader to pause, while joining dependant parts of sentences to sentences or while separating items in a list. Examples: In advanced grammar lessons, I label those dependant parts of sentences. Adverbial, adjectival, and nominal clauses are dependant parts of sentences. 
    • Semi-colon (;) Like a period, the semi-colon is a full stop. Semi-colons separate sentences that can stand alone but are closely related in subject matter. Example: When in doubt, don’t throw in a comma or semi-colon; this is a common mistake. (Note: The only time a semi-colon can be used in place of a comma is when dividing complex items in a list, but that is getting a too complex for the purpose of this blog.)
    • Question Mark (?) The question mark simply follows a complete sentence that is asking a question, even if the question is rhetorical. Examples: Is this making sense? Do you, like me, have a love-hate relationship with grammar?
    • Exclamation Mark (!) The exclamation mark ends a sentence with emphasis, implying importance and demanding attention. Use them sparingly to avoid sounding like you are shouting and to ensure impact when you do use one. Example: Even if a sentence is really important, do not use more than one exclamation mark!
    • Colon (:) If you are attached to the driving analogy, would it be acceptable to compare colons to traffic circles since they are often misused? Colons follow a complete sentence and precede a list of one or more items. Examples: The majority of my students say this is the worst part of a communications class: grammar. I assure them of the following benefits: reduced miscommunication and increased professionalism.
    • Apostrophe (‘) I am abandoning the driving analogy. The apostrophe simply replaces missing letters or numbers in contractions or signifies possession. Example: The instructor’s opinion is that proper punctuation shouldn’t be a thing of the ‘90s.
    • Dash (-) In short, dashes are often lazy replacements for other forms of punctuation. Do not use these unless you are comfortable with the basics. Examples: In this example, commas which were previously discussed are being replaced by dashes. I could write entire blogs on each of the three types of dashes the em dash, the en dash, and the hyphen.
    • Quotation Marks (‘ and “) Quotation marks divide speech from the rest of the text. Examples: Quotation marks make it easier to decipher which words belong to the writer/narrator and which belong to someone else, Jaclyn explains. They get tricky when there are quotes within quotes.

Proper punctuation can make your writing easier to understand and more enjoyable to read, at least on a structural basis. In my defense, proper punctuation can only do so much for a grammar blog.

 

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By a Landslide … Fragments and Run-Ons

Guest Post by Jaclyn Dawn

My fellow writer/editor and friend Alison asked, “As an instructor, which grammar errors do you see most often?” The answer came easily: fragments and run-ons.

A sentence needs a subject and a predicate, an actor and an action.

      [Jaclyn] [teaches grammar.]

      [Grammar] [is important.]

If one or the other is missing, you have a fragment.

     [Jaclyn] does what?  

     What [is important]?

These examples are easy, but I will tell you how I trick my students on quizzes. I make the fragments long.

[The brilliant student in the front row who never thought she could be tricked].

I even tricked Microsoft Word with that example because the green, wiggly line didn’t appear under it. What did the brilliant student do?

        Maybe she [looked foolish.]

        Or perhaps she [caught the error.]

Here is another example.

[Singing high praises to the one student of thirty who caught  the error.]

Who? Who is singing the high praises?

            [Jaclyn] [is…] perhaps the one impressed in this example.

            But for all we know [The blue giraffe at the zoo] [is…]

If a sentence has a subject and a predicate, another subject and predicate, and perhaps another subject and predicate without proper punctuation, you have a run-on or the run-on’s cousin, the comma splice.

I like teaching communications and my students are usually eager to learn, but they don’t like grammar, the truth is I have a love-hate relationship with grammar, too.

An independent clause – a subject and a predicate/actor and action – must be divided from other independent clauses.

I like teaching communications. My students are usually eager to learn, but they don’t like grammar. The truth is I have a love-hate relationship with grammar, too.

My theory for why I see so many fragments and run-ons is that writers are trying to write how we speak. The problem is the result can be confusing and just plain ugly on the page.

 

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The Sunset Syndrome – Guest Post – Catherine Wenschlag

When we finished the Sunset Syndrome in May 2016, I knew I wanted to have even more people see this amazing story. Thankfully, Alison agreed and we’re now busy rehearsing for the Edmonton Fringe! The cast is full of talented, hard-working actors who are all committed to sharing the story of Emily in a sincere and compassionate way. They a true ensemble and family. We’ve started a fundraiser to help cover costs for the show and have a bunch of perks for those who donate, including free tickets, signed posters, chocolate, and a donation made to the Alzheimer’s Society from the production in memorium of a person of donor’s choice. We hope you will come out to see the show that Alison has so beautifully crafted and that we are diligently working to bring to life with great love.

Show times:

Fri Aug 18 – 7:00pm

Sat Aug 19 – 12:00noon

Sun Aug 20 – 3:30pm

Mon Aug 21 – 5:15pm

Wed Aug 23 – 5:15pm

Thu Aug 24 – 8:45pm

Fri Aug 25 – 1:45pm

Sat Aug 26 – 10:30pm

Sun Aug 27 – 12:00 noon

 

All performances at:

Campus St. Jean Auditorium

8406 Rue Marie-Anne Gaboury NW

Edmonton, AB T6C 4G9

 

Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign

 

Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival

 

 

 

 

Home

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My Creative Intuition Advisor

Finding the time to get activities accomplished in a day can be a challenge. Everyone has a set of tasks to accomplish daily and a certain number of hours for each. Creative writing is one of my activities for which I’m always trying to figure out a better system so when I have those few precious minutes to write, my time is best used.

I’m very lucky to have an opportunity to be in a mentorship with an editor who I have had the privilege to work with in the past. She is able to edit my material in a way that keeps my writer’s voice. She is a straightforward editor who tells me like it is. She always provides me an opportunity to learn and grow with every communication.

I have had this young adult novel bouncing around in my creative projects list since the idea popped in my head in 2007.  It is science fiction, a genre which is a depart from my usual reality based genres. So, I am learning the specific conventions for the genre, along with creating characters and worlds.

In an effort to have an outsider’s view of the work, I had several readers provide feedback. Some of the changes resonated and others didn’t. What I found is that, even if I was unable to articulate or name a reason, if I did the change anyway, it didn’t feel right. At the end of the day, the manuscript and book had my name on it.

This manuscript has been more challenging than all my others to date, but in the past few weeks, as I have been writing, it has reminded me of how much I love writing. Yes, the road ahead can be challenging and frustrating, but the process of creating characters, worlds, and stories is humbling.

The content has challenged my creative brain for although it is set in reality, some of the characters and situations are fantasy-based. For example, the concept of living forever and travelling into the past. For the characters who live forever, finding their motivations has been an interesting process. When I wrote my first book, Ice Rose: A Young Adult Spy Novel, it was like living with the characters, but not all of the characters in my new books have moved in with me yet. They only come to visit. The same experience is similar to meeting a new person in the real world. During the visits I am able to learn more about them and understand how they interact in the world and the way they speak.  Guess it will take some convincing and getting to know all the characters before they will come to stay.

As I progress through this stage in my young adult creation, I am reminded of the new conventions and applications and maybe the most important lesson of listening to my intuition. No matter what I am writing, if I’m unable to find the words, if it just doesn’t feel correct in my writing brain and heart, then it simply is not.

 

 

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