Wednesday, May 28, 2014

IN…in…inner peace…



Yeah, so it's Wednesday again, and well, shit…another freaking zen post. Don't get me wrong, I love that the other ladies are all into spiritual awareness, but damn it… I have not found my inner peace. Not even close. In fact, I'm currently embracing my dark side. Say it with me… DARK SIDE. They have cookies, people. COOKIES!!!



But I digress…actually, this week's post in on how we combat stress. Which is good, because stress I have. Tons. As in more than I really need, but no one seems to want to take it kind of stress. And I do realize that a lot of it is probably of my own making. I tend to worry too much about shit I can't change. Then I obsess over it, trying to imagine every possible scenario only to reach the point where I realize I have to let it go. It's probably out of my hands, anyway. But then I go right back to stressing over it. Mostly because I know I have a slightly (hey, work with me, here) obsessive personality. Okay, so it's more than slightly… at least thus far I've managed to contain my obsessions to somewhat healthier ones. (Don't start with me on the Diet Coke thing. We all need a vice, people.)

So, stress. How do I combat it?

My big one is exercise.

I know… it's terribly clichĂ©, but it's true. I run damn near everyday. Part of it is to take my running buddy, Bandit, out… here's a quick pic of us… (Bandit's the furry one, in case you got us confused. They do say we look like our furry companions.) And of course, it's poetic that my favourite dog is a husky/malamute. They tend to be high-stress dogs, lol.

But I honestly would go even if I didn't have her. The ladies from the cabin can attest to this. I go everyday I'm there without the pup. And I've got running routes in all the towns where the boys have hockey tournaments. Just cause. I even have one for Bronwyn's house:)

Because running in the trails is, without a doubt, the one thing I truly do for me. And one of the few things on this earth that actually brings me peace. I don't care how I look. What's going on in the rest of the world. It's just me and that trail.

There's just something about being alone in the woods (other than with Bandit). The steady crunch of dirt and stones beneath my feet. The sweet scent of the cottonwood. Or even the brisk smell of winter or the earthy aroma of fall. I don't really care. I run in the rain, the snow, spring or fall. I guess I just like to run.




Or ride... I love to mountain bike as well. Now, I'm indecisive about posting this, as you see me in tights, lol... But here's a shot of the dog in action. Oh and I'm on the bike. I know... try to concentrate on the cute, furry one. It's jerky because it's shot from my brother who's running. Yeah, he runs so damn fast I have to bike. No shit. The man does Ironman. He lives and dies by his watch. So not me...


video









I get to see eagles fly overhead, like this one. It was on the top of a tree about five feet away from me.

Or a visit from a black bear (yeah, that black thing in the picture). I know this looks really far away but.. It was only about fifty feet. And the silly guy moved by the time I got my phone out, lol. But coming around a bend and seeing wildlife like this is incredible. Running is also one of the best ways to figure something out. If I'm stuck with a scene, running gives me an hour to just work it out. And you can talk to yourself all you want without folks looking at you as if you're completely batshit crazy. And I do talk to myself. A lot.


I also use other workouts as a stress reliever. There's just something about sweating and working to exhaustion, lol. It clears the mind. It also means you're happy to plant you ass down for the rest of the day and work:)

Okay.. so other than running. Yeah, I have a few other tricks up my sleeve. Another one is music. I'm sure most of us are this way. You put on songs to deal with your moods. I have some default happy songs — Top of the World by Imagine Dragons. Beat This Summer by Brad Paisley. Jump Right In but Zac Brown Band.  Then there are the sad ones when you just want to wallow in it. Music let's us embrace whatever we're feeling and sing it out loud. You just might not want to be around when I'm singing it out loud.

I also use movies or TV. Of course comedies are the best, lol. Especially a brilliant stand-up show. My youngest son, Jared, is awesome at hooking me up with comedians I've never heard of but who make me laugh until I cry. And there's no better medicine to stress than laughing.

And last but not least...friends. Talking shit out with my soul sisters is the other great way to beat the early heart attack. They get me. They don't judge and generally have good suggestions. They see the bigger picture when I'm stuck on one particular damn tree. They'll cry with me, laugh with me and just let me be if that's what's needed. But they never let me down.

Okay, that got just a bit too mushy. So, to end... how about some eye candy. Ah, I bet you thought I'd forgotten. Just trying to switch things up a bit.

It's a form of stress-reduction too, wouldn't you say…oh yeah, bud. Let's go out for a rip...








And to end if off, here's the perfect little scene about Inner Peace. I like Po's style and his idea of finding it:) I hope you find yours. Stop by the other ladies and see how they stay calm...



Gwendolyn Cease

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Darkest Night…it's finally here…

Woo Hoo...  

Okay, so I had a book release yesterday, but as it was Random Wednesday, I didn't want to mess with having two blog posts on the same day. I mean, what will people think? That's craziness, folks.

Anyway, I'm super happy to have a new book released with Resplendence Publishing. And it's special in a couple of ways. First, it's my first action-adventure/suspense-thriller in a while. Yeah, the What Remains series is somewhat both of these, but… This might be a bit more pure. It's also a single book release. I love series, but it's also refreshing to have a single book out.

Finally, it's also my first book cover release with Resplendence. I know...how cool is that RP allowed me to create my own cover? They completely rock. I have a number of other book covers releasing with them, but Darkest Night is my first:)

There's also another reason this book is special to me. It's based in Canada. I don't often do that, for a number of reasons. One, we don't have an FBI or a CIA. We also just don't have the population for some of the settings I want. My go-to city of choice is generally Seattle. Having been there a number of times, I'm more familiar with it. And hey, they have similar weather, lol.

But Darkest Night takes place up in the true, great white north. The Arctic. Well, the Arctic Circle to be exact. About an hour northeast of a small town called Norman Wells. I really enjoyed switching it up. Playing around in unmanned territory. But even better, the heroine is a helicopter pilot! I absolutely loved writing her. Putting all those years of work, well, back to work:) And writing the helicopter action scenes...yeah. That's what I'm talking about.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Here's the blurb and a taste of the balls to the walls action in this book.

Blurb

Time is running out

McKinley Baker’s job is simple—fly her client to the remote research station an hour north, at the edge of the Arctic Circle, before the lack of available daylight and extreme weather conditions isolate the facility for the foreseeable future. Just her luck, the guy's late.

One day of complete darkness

Beckett Foster hadn't planned on running into McKinley when he’d agreed to take the job. But he has to admit—the possibility of getting trapped at the station with the woman he’s been crazy about since the day they met, just made the Arctic conditions a little less harsh. And if he has to share his body heat to help keep her warm, he’s willing to man up.

Theres no escape


But the fire sizzling between them in the cockpit might not be enough to keep them alive when an unexpected encounter turns deadly. And if the sub-zero temperatures don't kill them, their new enemy just might as the sun finally sets on this year's darkest night.

Excerpt

McKinley slapped his shoulder, drawing his attention. She snapped her fingers in front of his face. You back from wherever you zoned out to?

Sorry. I wasjust thinking.

Her gaze fell to his groin before jerking back to his face. A hint of worry crossed her features as she motioned ahead of the aircraft. I cant raise the station on the radio. Ive double checked everything on my end, but it all seems to be working.

He frowned, looking toward the horizon. Though the setting sun cast long shadows across the snow-covered landscape, he could just make out the outline of the complex ahead. A series of dark spots against the pristine white. Maybe theyre all outside or something. Securing the bunkers for the storm.

Maybe, but…” She tilted her head to the side, scanning the area on either side of the chopper as if keeping her options open. I specifically told Josh to turn the helipad lights on. The fading light makes it hard to distinguish the ground from the sky. And Id rather not plow this baby in, if its all the same to you.

Hey, Im with you. He tapped a finger against his chin. Maybe give them another minute then try again. Its not like they left or anything. Theyve got to be there.

She nodded, but he could see her reservations in the tight press of her lips.

He reached for her hand, brushing his fingers over hers. I know that look. Whats really going on here, McKinley?

She frowned, a delectable pout gracing her lips. Nothings going on, its just…” She huffed. When I called the station earlier, Josh seemed…”

He seemed what?

Reluctant.

Ill need a bit more than that. Reluctant about what?

Having us come out today. He said they were in the middle of a sensitive experiment. Went so far as to suggest I wait the storm out back at Norman Wells and bring you up after it passed.

Cant fault the guy for looking out for you. It actually sounds kind of sweet.

She snorted, giving him a firm look. It wasnt that kind of concern. He seemed edgy.

Beckett glanced at the complex again. Still too far away to see any details, but something about the collection of black shapes made the hairs on his neck prickle. Whats your gut telling you?

She glanced out the bubble then back to him. Somethingswrong.

Then I trust your instincts. Theres just one problem. We dont really have anywhere else to go.

I know. Damn storms already moved through our alternate airport. And itd be crazy to land out in the open with it bearing down on us. She scanned the surrounding area again. Ill do a flyby. Hopefully its just a lack of sleep and sunshine making me paranoid.

He nodded, wanting to laugh it off, but he wasnt convinced hed be able to come across at all convincing. There was just something about the way shed described Joshs behavior. Hed known the guy for nearly two years. And it didnt sound like the man hed spent more than a few months rooming with.

The air inside the cabin seemed colder as McKinley angled the helicopter off to the right, slowing their speed. She didnt talk, just kept her attention concentrated on the compound as it slowly wavered into focus. Beckett squinted, trying to decipher a collection of dark objects lined up to one side.

He pointed at the station. What the hell are those black specks off to the right?

Not sure. They kind of look like some sort of vehicle. But that doesnt make sense. She banked the machine over, giving him a slightly better view. Are those snowcats?

They sure as hell look like cats. But thats crazy. Who would bring a convoy of snowcats all the way up here? Im pretty damn sure wed know about this if the company had ordered it.

Bugger. I knew something didnt feel right. Ill do a low pass. See if we can get a better look before we commit to anything. But I swearJosh is going to have a lot of explaining to do once I get my hands on the man.

Beckett winked at her. Not sure thats really a threat but…”

He grunted when she hit him in the shoulder, some of the tension dissipating. He gave her a smile as she maneuvered the helicopter in line with the vehicles, losing enough altitude theyd be close enough to get a good look as they passed overhead. Movement by the machines caught his attention.
He cocked his head, trying to get a better bead on the object moving across the snow, but the damn shadows blurred the form into nothing more than a black blob. Is that a person? Whats he holding?

Im notshit—”

Her voice cut off as the Plexiglas on the bubble cracked, a sharp metal ping sounding close to his head. McKinley reacted, shoving the cyclic forward, nearly throwing him against the front console as his stomach hit the back of his throat then plummeted into his boots. The straps from the belt cut into his shoulders and waist, knocking the air out of his lungs.

He braced his arm against the doorframe as another series of pings echoed outside. What the hell?

Theyre fucking shooting at us. She banked hard one way, then the other, aiming straight for the ground as the chopper picked up speed. Hold on. Lets see if those bastards can matrix their asses out of the way when Ive got her pegged at full throttle.

Beckett fisted the frame as the helicopter all but dropped out the sky, losing what little altitude theyd had in a matter of seconds. The nauseating maneuvers blurred the surrounding landscape as it rushed past the windows, reducing the scenery into a wash of white and gray. More shots hit the fuselage as she bore down on the men holding what looked like assault rifles before they dove for cover, blasted by the downwash from the blades as she soared over top, missing them and the machines by a few feet. Vortices of snow followed the helicopters path as McKinley sailed across the surface, covering everything in the aircrafts wake with a blast of whirling powder.

God damn, McKinley. Youre going to fly this thing into the ground.

Not quite. But I bet my ass theyll have a hard time pinpointing us when we disappear behind the bunkers.

The bunkers? Shit, theyre only fifteen feet high.

I know.

She banked hard again, pelting the sides of the bunkers with a blast of icy snow as the helicopter skimmed across the surface, following the line of buildings before angling toward a copse of trees to the north. Beckett twisted in his seat, trying to look out the back when one of the snowcats appeared amidst the swirling flakes. Something moved along the back of the machine before a long arm pointed toward them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just follow the yellow brick road…

How is it Wednesday again, so damn soon? I either need more time or less to do. And it was a long weekend for us up here in the great white north, eh? We got to celebrate the Queen's birthday. And if it gives us all an extra day off, hell yeah, Happy Birthday to the Queen, I say.

Okay, so this week, the ladies are super killing me. It's MY DREAM YARD... hello! They are all crafty and "oh, look at my pretty flowers"... Yeah. I'm a freaking Walking Dead fan. If anyone tells me to LOOK AT THE FLOWERS, I'm likely to shoot them first. So not cool.

Now don't get me wrong. Yes, I'd love to have a pretty back yard. I do love organization and lovely things, but it's just not me. I kill everything. I mean, everything. Flowers, shrubs, trees...if there's a way to kill it off, I'll find it. About the only thing that's impressive at my house is my wisteria tree. Apparently the damn thing thrives on neglect and abuse. So ramming the trunk with the John Deer...it likes it. Not worrying about watering it ever. No problem. My kind of tree, people. And if dandelions were cherished, I'd have the best damn lawn in town. Along with the buttercup. Yup, I'd be the envy of all.

Alas, some jackass decided weeds aren't nice. Don't know why. They grow. Without help, without nurturing...they just grow. And they spread. Everywhere. About the only saving grace is that this is a post about my Dream Yard, not the one I currently have, so...let's begin.

But first...you got it. Motivation...


Can I have him in my perfect garden? I'm a sucker for that longer hair. What can I say. I bet it grows without too much effort:)

Okay...now on to gardens. Well, first off, my ultimate garden would have some kind of deck created by Paul LeFrance...damn. The imagination on this guy. Here are some of the ones I've loved the most..




And maybe, just maybe, if I had a deck like this, the boys wouldn't play hockey on it. I can tell you that no amount of stain holds up to that, lol. But then we wouldn't be Canadian if we didn't play hockey year round on the damn deck!

I'd also like to have some kind of zen thing going on. And that would most likely mean it'd need water. So something like this...






And I'd need a place to write...or read...




And I think I'd like a treehouse. I mean, I always wanted a treehouse. Perhaps at the new house, I'll finally freaking build one. Not sure any of these will be the design, but if I could...




So I'm noticing a pattern here, folks. I haven't included much greenery. I think because in my ideal garden, it'd be mostly forest. No grass to mow, no flower beds to weed. Just nature as she was intended to be...chaotic in all her beauty. My house nestled amidst the pines. Maybe I should consider living in a giant treehouse, lol. A place like these...



Yup. I definitely think those last two would incorporate my dream house in my dream yard. The one Mother Nature takes care of for me. 

Now, I'm sure the other ladies will put me to shame. They are all visionaries, let's face it. They have green thumbs. They grow vegetables! They have living things in their yards. They probably edge their grass and nurture bulbs...whatever. Look at the flowers...

So hop on over and check out their inspirations on Dream Yards. For me, I'll stick to the forest.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

It's a Dirty Job, but…

Wow, is it Wednesday randomness already? Where did the week go? I've been too damn busy doing house shit—as I might be putting the house on the market. I know. It pains me, mostly because I hate the idea of actually moving. Not living somewhere else. Moving. Packing. Unpacking. Having to keep the house clean. Tidy. It's like never-ending laundry.

But life is what it is. And I'm trying to embrace it. As much as anyone can. I think I've be able to embrace it more if I were moving somewhere exotic. Ireland, or Scotland. Maybe Wales. But, with kids near the end of their school, chances are I'm stuck here. Sigh.

Anyway, none of that has to do with this week's blog. The spinner has landed on — songs from the 80's. OH SHIT. Sorry, that was Pitch Perfect. I am stuck with shitty jobs I've had. Which, honestly for me, isn't that easy. I've really not had any horrific jobs. I know. But I'm not joking. Now, I realize this might come as a shock, but…when it comes to jobs, I tend to look outside the box. Even as a kid. So, instead of telling you about my shitty jobs, I'll list them and you can decide if any would hit your 'shit' list. But first, this is for Jessica. You do realize, girl, that I'll be posting prettiness every week now—I blame you.



All right. If you ever manage to shift your focus down here, I'm back, but hey…take as long as you want. They are definitely more eye-worthy than my list of not so crappy, but actually kind of cool, jobs.

So, in all honestly, I've probably had about three 'crappy' jobs. Or at least not desirable ones. The first,  was the typical fast food restaurant job. Yes, I worked at McDonald's. Which is arguably not a glamorous job. Though there was a catch. It was inside the Toronto Metro Zoo, so, I was in a little kiosk like shack and half the time served ice cream and sandwiches. But it was McDonalds. Though, seriously, what else does a fifteen-year old do for money? That's legal, people. Legal.

Second, I was a car jockey. I only wish it'd been a regular jockey. Really I do, but when I was sixteen, I worked for a company that moved cars back and forth across Toronto. Not a glamorous job, and if I had it now, I'd think it was pretty crappy, but at sixteen—I thought it was pretty cool. And it beat babysitting...

Last, I was a lifeguard. Now, if my job had been at all like Bay Watch, this would have been a super amazing job. But alas, I worked in run-down places with sketchy security. I had drunk people harass me, fifty kids swimming at once and had to actually worry about my safety getting to and from the pool. But, that's what teenagers do. Nothing glamorous about it and you honestly probably couldn't ever convince me to be a lifeguard again.

And that's honestly where my crappy job list ends. I've had lots of other jobs, but none of them were shitty. And to illustrate this, I'm going to list them, well those I remember, lol. So here is my kind of cool list of jobs…

Tour guide at a museum. I loved this and the people there were super cool.

Boat Captain. Yes, this was actually a summer job in university. (and I think you'll start to see a trend now.)

Fitness Instructor... taught a bunch of stuff…

Commercial Helicopter Pilot... I was also an Instructor. Go figure.

Air Ambulance.

911 Dispatcher

And now my present jobs, lol

So, yeah, not a ton of crappy ones. I've actually lucked out. Now, being a single mom, who knows if I'll have to take on some kind of crappy one at some point, lol. But for now, I'm lucky.

Why not hop on over and see what the other ladies have as their list of shit they've had to do to eat! 


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…

Hello cyberworld. Yup, Wednesday Randomness is back, and I've managed to make another one. And did you notice there was a post between these? I know. And it was a fabulous cover reveal for three of the awesome Wednesday Random ladies—Bronwyn Green, Jessica Jarman and Jenny Trout. They have an Arthurian Collection releasing this summer and were showing off their pretty cover.

Okay, so I might be biased about the cover—hint, hint…I made it. But still. This collection is going to rock!

Now back to our regularly scheduled program. This week's topic is…Some of my favourite things, specifically, Books!

From what I understand, this will be a recurring theme each month, we'll just be swapping out what kind of fave things we mention.

As you can probably tell from the title, as soon as I heard the topic, that song from The Sound of Music just starting playing in my head. And while I know it was an epic movie, it really isn't my favourite, lol. So spoiler alert—it won't be on my list of favourite movies. Which is, I guess, ironic for this week's post. But I couldn't resist the catchiness of it.

So…favourite books. Now, I could go ahead and site a few from the ladies who are in this group. Seriously, there is such huge talent in here and they have honestly written some of my favourite stories. But I thought that'd come across as being either kiss-ass, or promo-happy. So, let's just say, I love their work—all of them—and leave it at that. And for the sake of not appearing as if I'm sucking up to anyone, I'll just stick to books outside of this group. (but I could mention several!)

For those of you who know me, you'll know the first person—yes person—to make my list. And I say person because pretty much anything the man writes would make this list. I'll name a few, but it's safe to say that there isn't much he's written that I haven't loved. And yes, that's one of his awesome covers above. And I'll include another below.

Stephen King

I'm sure this surprises no one. He is the king of horror, but what's amazing, is that he has a whole host of other books he's written that have very little to do with horror. One of his best books is called… THROUGH THE EYES OF THE DRAGON… it's an amazing story that has a medieval flare to it. All about castles and honour. If you're the kind of reader that says, hey—Stephen King isn't for me, you have got to try this book. I promise you won't be sorry. (yes, Kellie, it's pronounced, sore-ree)

Also by him that's, again, not a horror book, THE DARK TOWER SERIES. Damn, western theme with enough paranormal shit tossed in to make your head spin. And do you know what else I love about his series? He doesn't waste half the damn book, retelling the first ones. He has a small paragraph or two in the pre-amble then just picks up where he left off. Again, a fabulous set of books by my number one favourite author.

Here's a short list of the books by him that make my all-time favourite list, and in no particular order…

THROUGH THE EYES OF THE DRAGON
THE DARK TOWER-THE GUNSLINGER (SERIES)
IT
SALEM'S LOT (back when vampires weren't sexy heroes)
THE TOMMYKNOCKERS
THE DARK HALF
NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES

Now I could probably list more, but you don't need an outline of every book the man wrote.

Now, while he is a masterful story-teller, I do have other authors I adore.

Robert Jordan.

He's a fantasy writer, and the big series I loved of his was THE WHEEL OF TIME. It's an epic story encompassing over ten books (fourteen I believe), but the man is another who can weave a tale worth coming back to. It starts with EYE OF THE WORLD and doesn't let you go from there. And I won't list all the books in this series…

David Eddings.

This man wrote a couple of series I adored and have read more than once. THE ELENIUM... or what I call the chronicles of Sparhawk. Another fantasy novel with knights and evil forces, and of course some romance tossed in and a happily ever after. The characters continue in a second series, THE TAMULI, which was just as compelling.

Stephen R. Donaldson…the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. The first in the series, LORD FOWL'S BANE. A great trilogy that I still remember most of to this day.

And I do love some YA as well. Having read so much to my kids over the years. But my favourite is the series by Eoin Colfer… ARTEMIS FOWL. I've read every one in the series, and the last couple without the kids, lol.

Another YA series... DELTORA'S QUEST by Emily Rodda. I loved reading all of the books over a number of series written by this lady to my kids. Made story time more than enjoyable. And it engaged my kids, which is not something books do that often. I know. Believe me I haven't missed the irony in it.

So…you can see I have a thing for fantasy and futuristic or sci-fi kinds of stories. And you might be wondering about romance? Hello, I write that so, where is my list of awesome romance books. Well, as I said at the beginning, there are a bunch from the ladies in this group, but I also have other authors I read. I think my favourite must be Tielle St. Clare. Her dragon series, like DRAGON'S FIRE was fantastic. Others, MATCHING SIGNS, NEW YEAR'S KISS, FAIRY DUST…I've read all of these multiple times.

I guess I could add other kinds of books. But I don't read a lot of non-fiction or self-help books. Perhaps I should, on the latter, lol, but I prefer to get lost in another world. And I don't want it to be dramatic or depressing. Hello, I said escape. I'm a single mom. I need alternate realities sometimes.

Okay, I'll wrap it up. Apparently I have more than a few favourite books, or perhaps, just favourite authors. Please hop on over to the other ladies and see what strikes their fancy…

Bronwyn Green
Jessica Jarman
Jenny Trout
Gwendolyn Cease
Kellie St. James
Leigh Jones
Tess Grant