Everything is going to be okay.

“Knowing is not enough; we must Apply.
Willing is not enough; we must Do.”

Bruce Lee.

Do you ever, just, I don’t know – sit down on the edge of your bed late at night after a real long day and just reflect on how far off-course your life has gotten, compared to where a younger, more idealistic, version of yourself thought things would go?

When you sit there on the edge of your bed, just allowing yourself to trance out into meditative head-space, what comes to mind when you think back on your life up ‘til this point? Are there feelings of accomplishment? Memories of regret, or possibly anger? I’m sure a lot of people could say confusion often comes to mind – What happened? Where the hell am I? Who have I become in all these years since then? God, how about the future? Is this my future? Oh, my God…

Not many folks can say they look back on their lives with much praise. Oh, sure, there are absolutely events that have happened that have filled our souls with a speck of self-respect, or admiration. But the overall product, though? How many people can honestly say to themselves, as they reflect while sitting slumped over the edge of their bed, that they are truly happy, and have achieved complete fulfillment in their lives?

Almost none, I can guarantee you.

When I was ten years old, I wanted to be was the CEO of my own video game company. “Virtualplay Entertainment” would helm the coming of the upcoming [predecessor] to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which – naturally – would be called the “Mega Nintendo”. Virtualplay would be right in the fray, holding its own alongside other big-name third-party companies responsible for cultivating what would become the “Golden Age” of video games, with an extensive library of cutting edge role playing games that rivaled the likes of Square Soft and Enix.

When I was twenty years old, I wanted to be the CEO of my own comics and animation studio. “Sterilized Dirt Productions” would helm the peak of the booming Japanese animation craze here in North America. I would write, illustrate, and produce a visual adaption of my anime/manga-inspired novel, Monster Slayer (now called Master of Monsers) – first in comic book form, with an animated series to follow, both of which would inspire the likes of a new generation of English-speaking otaku.

I’m now thirty years old, and I sit on the edge of my bed late at night, writing this blog post with barely anything to show for those last twenty years of moon-sized dreams and aspirations. When I think back on these memories, a dull pain forms in my heart. I’m a strong enough woman able to easily deflect temptations to crumble into self pity. Self victimization and passing the buck on personal responsibility are not values written down in my playbook. I’ve done a lot. I’ve accomplished plenty. And yet, thoughts that I’ve become a disappointment to my younger selves sets in – and quite quickly so does guilt.

So if you’re reading this, and you’re still sitting on the edge of your bed like I am as I write all this out, there’s a fairly good chance that you’re open to suggestion – reassurance of some kind, maybe a magic train ticket that will some how reverse your history yet keep in-tact your wise, worldly, mind in order to finally create those memories you will be proud of in the coming years.

Whatever it is you look back on and feel pain in your heart over, I’ve some good news for you: despite what your mind wants you to believe – it’s never too late to achieve a damn thing. If you put in the work and take the idea of your personal fulfillment with utmost seriousness – you will be amazed at the things possible.

Take heart that if you put in the effort, giving up will never be an option. There will be times where you continue to “fail”, there will be times where you are impatient for results, there will be times where the temptation to give up is right on the edge of your false sense of intuition. These things are going to happen, but it’s important to not let these things consume you, like they have for however long you’ve allowed them to up ‘til now.

I am here to at least try to help you – as I strive to help myself. Consider this a contract of fiery wills. Sure, the passing of time has perhaps shifted the trajectory our particular paths in life – but you need to understand that it is never too late, though it’s true that time is not our friend. But time doesn’t matter anymore. We could die at any time. We could continue to live on into near-eternity. What does matter is this: if you put in the effort to make your life better, to go after what you desire and deserve –  action, patience, and perseverance will always pick up the tab.

In the mean time however, don’t sit and stagnate. Take initiative and dedicate your time to progress. Start to ingest inspirational content in the areas of your life you wish to improve upon. Utilize YouTube for guided meditations (these are amazing and have done a lot of good in my own life). Research local meet ups (or online communities) where you can network with like-minded people who will inspire and ignite your fire.

It’s so important to take small steps. Small steps lead to big results. Don’t believe me? Let’s take the process of writing the first draft of a novel or memoir. That’s a huge commitment, yes? A daunting task that, at full scope, seems a monolithic impossibility for most people. But what if we broke that down? Keep it simple, attainable? What if you committed yourself to 300 words a day? Hell or high water, you wrote 300 words a day – – every day – no matter the quality of those words. 365 days later, you have yourself a novel or memoir with a stunning word count of 109,500.

It’s that simple. Please trust in this.

Everything is going to be okay. Just don’t give up on yourself. Please.




Quitting NaNoWriMo

Not so much conceding; not so much viewing the whole ordeal as a failure; but stepping back in order to re-prioritize.

That’s the way to think about it. And from one writer to another – doing so is completely a-okay.

The fear of failure is so prevalent in the world we live in. Many people regard a notion such as failure with scorn, revile it with such reverent disassociation to anything normal – as if success is the only thing we have in our lives to strive for. As if anything less than success is death, itself.

One of the main characters in my upcoming YA novel, The Quest for the Crystals: The Book of Wind, states such fears with eloquent honesty:

“Every mammal fears death,” said the heretic. “Death is weakness. Death is dishonour. Death is the relinquishment of what we strive to protect: our livelihood, our legacy – our place in the order of tribal hierarchy. Once upon a time, these lands were not so kind … though the Wolfen Empire no longer stands, the tenants of its foundation still very much exist today: only those who with the will and wits to survive unto another day matter. The fear that death brings is innate within almost all of us.”

– Chapter 19, “Trial of the Toecutter”

So many of us fear failure, that we would risk living out the rest of our lives in mediocrity, pushing ourselves to do things that our hearts simply do not yearn for. Anxiety sets in. Over-thinking, and then soon enough, we crumble from the inside, out.

I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo four times. 2010, 2011, then in 2013, and finally 2014. Three of which were written from scratch; the second one a “rebel” cause. None of those books have yet seen the light of day. Each experience was trying and amazing in its own right.

The prospect of jumping back into NaNo this year in 2016 would have continued the novelling pattern seen above. Incidentally, it would have been another rebel cause, dedicated to revising the already-written sequel to Book of Wind.

Writing and revising Book of Wind had been a grueling, rewarding, two-year process. After sending it off to a handful of beta readers, it was time to work on something fresh, something on the back burner for a long while. I was looking forward to NaNoWriMo all year for this.

But then ideas came for the sequel, and the decision to hop right in was made. Logic told that letting the story stagnate for too long would only kill the momentum. Not a bad idea, but the problem came down to organization of the chapters already written.

Long story short, I became overwhelmed with the process of revising a story in as little as thirty days, especially when additional content needed to be written in lieu of processing older content, and my brain went kaput.

Thirty days is a generous amount of time to revise a currently 45,000 word novella. No doubt about it. But it was the pressure. The pressure of NaNoWriMo, everything it encompassed, exhaustion of things in my personal life, and the egoic need to succeed just shorted everything out.

So I decided to step back.  And that’s a good thing. Revising your novel shouldn’t be a hap-hazard, messy, race to the finish. That’s what first drafts are for. The process of revision is to deliberately slow down and analyze everything you’ve written – see what’s great, what’s redundant, and how many darlings there are to slaughter.

For first drafts, NaNoWriMo is an incredible asset. You sit down, you turn your brain off, you write, and write, and write. It’s such a raw, emotional roller coaster of a thing to do – that more often than not, you’ll end up pleasantly surprising yourself upon reading the manuscript.

I’ll keep working on my project throughout the month. Whether I finish it or not isn’t the point. Reaching the word-count goal – that’s not the point.

Yes, writing 50,000 words in thirty days, from scratch, is an incredible thing to accomplish. But don’t let that daunting number hang over your head. If you’re struggling this month, please know that “winning” NaNoWriMo shouldn’t be the basis for an end-goal.

Sitting down and getting into the habit of writing every single day – that’s the goal. That’s the real test. In essence, that is what NaNoWriMo is setting you up for, if you’re a writer who wishes to take their craft with upmost seriousness.

It doesn’t matter how long you write for each day.

It doesn’t matter how many words you write each day.

Just so long as you make the effort, get into the habit, to write at least a little bit, each and every day. It adds up, man. Believe me.

So if you’re feeling the pressure of NaNoWriMo, feeling the urge to quit – that’s just fine. If it’s too much pressure to keep up with, that’s just fine. NaNoWriMo isn’t for everyone, and quite honestly, life gets in the way, our self-destructive minds get in the way. And that’s totally fine. Just do your best, and know that you at least did your best. That’s the important thing. Take your time, go at your own pace, and things will work out just fine.



The Mother Moon

So, how many of you pulled away from NaNoing long enough to check out the super moon this morning?

If you missed it, likelihood is Twitter and Facebook have already force-fed your news feed with various articles and snap shots of the event. Good! Who gives a shit about Walking Dead spoilers when the moon’s been at its closest to Earth since 1948?!


Any excuse to crack out the old Rebel T2i is an excuse to be celebrated. Photography isn’t something I really dedicate enough time to, not since J-school, and when social media announced this astrological phenom, not a hound of hell could keep me from sneaking a peek.

I read somewhere that the peak time to view the moon was just before dawn – so around 6:22 am EST. Here are the best shots from in and around that time.


What a beauty. ❤

Shit like this is so important. Not just to science, but for us as human beings, individuals, living creatures uncertain of what lays ahead of us. The last few days have been especially unnerving for people in the U.S., over the election, and with everything going on with that – the spectacle of the super moon couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Our world, and everything beyond it, offers the wildest, wondrous, and most mystical of all gifts we shall receive in our life – all of our lives, combined.

We don’t know what’s going to happen. And I don’t even mean this from a political stance. As humans, we don’t know what’s next for us – for anything. There is only speculation. There is only hope. There is only fear, but with fear, there is also adventure.

Carl Sagan said it best, when he spoke of Earth as a pale blue dot:

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

It really makes you think. Really makes you wonder. As this new week unfolds for you, dear reader, I hope you have something to look forward to. And if you don’t – it’s not too late to cultivate a desire for change, so that you do.


NaNoWriMo: Week One

Woo-hoo! Day two into National Novel Writing Month. How’re we all doing so far, folks? Feeling overwhelmed yet? Exhilarated? I’m right there on the front lines, with you.

I look forward to NaNoWriMo every year there’s availability to participate. It’s really like Christmas in a sense: there’s so much mystery, so many surprises, and an overflow of excitement at the thought of starting – and completing – the 50,000 word goal in such a short amount of time as a meagre 30 days.

Reminds me of  writers, like Stephen King and Lawrence Block, who sneeze and, poof, a full manuscript seemingly appears out of nowhere. They produce volumes of work so quickly, it’s like they never sleep! Genuinely, they are Masters of the Craft.

I’m a slow writer as it is, because I overthink everything and let life drag me around by the back pocket. But the lifestyle of authorship is something so dear and important to me – as I am sure it is to all of you. So when November is near to roll around, I get super giddy and impatient. An excuse to execute my dreams and goals to actually sit down and develop discipline enough to finish something (let alone in a timely fashion) is simply just a beautiful thing.

Writers beware: whether you’re a NaNoNewbie or a celebrated veteran, the risk of burnout is real. As artists we are so hard enough on ourselves as it is, and this time of year brings a LOT of pressure into our lives – not even directly related to NaNoWriMo.

Much like anything we face day-to-day, it’s all about having perspective. We can view NaNoWriMo as a stressful fight against all odds, or we can view NaNoWriMo as a lesson that can teach us how to stay productive. Whether you’re a pantster, like me, or you’ve got a stack of notes on standby, the most important thing is to just have fun.





Five Halloween Writing Prompts

There’s something very 1970s about autumn that I love. Maybe it’s the colours, intertwined with the fact that I live in an old neighbourhood. Whatever the reason, everything about this time of year just fills me to the brim: sharing Thanksgiving dinners with the people who I love; seeing couples out for walks, hand-in-hand, as the different coloured leaves all flutter to the sidewalks around them; the smell of the harvest; and the ominous whisper in the air that ghouls, and witches, and vampires just might be lurking while I sleep.

Halloween is less than two weeks upon us. It’s by far my favourite holiday of the year, due to the fact that I grew up naturally drawn to all things gothic and horror-themed. Not only is it the one time of the year my local Wal-Mart regularly merchandises a semi-wide selection of classic horror movies (usually at an affordable price!), but ideas of house redecoration that rival Morticia Addams can’t help but come to mind.

That, and the excitement for NaNoWriMo starts to kick in.

Yes, National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner. Whether this world-wide bonanza celebrating authorship and the death of procrastination fills you with vigour or dread, there is no better way to bridge the gap between now and November and prepare the creative brain-gears than some Halloween-themed writing prompts.

Obviously, you are free to do one, a couple, or all of them – however long or short you’d like. Doesn’t matter. The important thing is to at least get into the habit of writing by the seam of your pants, because come November, the terror of the word count begins.

1. I awoke to the sound of the baby monitor crackling with a voice comforting my firstborn child. As I adjusted to a new position, my arm brushed against my wife, sleeping next to me. – From Tickld

2. You are frozen with fear. You open your eyes, the tent is dark. But you can feel the heavy weight of a large tarantula covering one eye. Through the other eye you can see the shadows, from the moonlight, of hundreds, if not thousands, of other spiders covering the tent. – From Every Writer’s Resource

3. Write from the perspective of the antagonist. Give them a name and a backstory. What drove them to be the big bad in your horror story? What are their motivations? Do they have any special tattoos or scars or other sorts of branding? Where do they live? What do they have planned for their victims? What is their relationship to one another? – From Needle in the Hay

4. When we bought the house I assumed the scratches on the inside of the basement door were from a dog, but the neighbors say the previous owner didn’t have one. This morning the scratches had multiplied. – From Chicago Now

5. A hiker is trapped in a freak snowstorm but finds shelter in an old cave. As the weeks pass, he grows hungry. Water is not a problem, but he is a meat eater and he begins to look at his lower leg. “There’s a lot of good muscle on the lower leg.” He draws out his knife and prepares to do what’s necessary to survive. – From Letter Pile

Happy writing, my little ghosts and goblins! In the coming weeks we will be delving more into NaNoWriMo, and how to survive thirty days and 50,000 words of literary abandon.


NEW: Motivation Monday

Image Credit goes to Bridget Mc Dermott.

Embracing an artist’s life isn’t always roses and daffodils, no matter the field you’re called to. There are so many obstacles in our way: lack of time, family and work obligations, among other responsibilities. Even when we do finally sit down to hone our craft, the inner demons that are The Inner Critic and Artist’s Block rear their ugly heads.

Over the weekend, I met someone who confided in me that she is “a writer who doesn’t write”.

Well then, you’re not a writer, I thought.

All of us have that grand opus in our souls that, if only the world could see, we’d die fulfilled. It’s easy to let life distract us, take us for a ride, all while creative expression is pushed further and further away from the forefront.

But if you are determined, dedicated to pursuing the life of an artist – no matter your motivation for doing so, be it stress relief or entrepreneurship – the best, most healthiest, thing to do is become surrounded by mentors and like-minded creatives.

Introducing #MotivationMonday. Your weekly kick in the pants to  spend some time on whatever projects you are struggling with or have dreamed of, via famous quotes from the masters who have come before us.

You can do whatever you set your mind to. We all can. Let this be the start to a week of change – a week of productivity and success for you. No more excuses. Find the time and just do it.