I didn’t expect to be linked to a book review when I clicked onto my Twitter app yesterday afternoon. I was floored since I always had to ask to get my book reveiwed. Being a first-time author is hard work. I want to get my book out there and seen without rubbing the cover into peoples faces saying, “Here! Here! I wrote a book! See!”
This shock got even better as I read through her review. I have an idea about where my strengths and weaknesses are in writing, but it’s nice to hear them from someone else that has a better understanding then I do. I am always looking to improve my craft. Without constructive criticism how will I ever know where I need to focus my attention.
**The clips that I have in bold below are from Cheyanne Lepka’s Blog.**
“Even though I found this book had a slow start, there’s a lot to love about it. The brilliant description and unique world/story definitely stick out in my mind.”
That slow start… Somehow I missed this when I was in the revision stage I had read the manuscript over and over. I ‘ve focused my attention on this issue for Mortal Soul Ascension. I hope that book two will kickstart on the first note.
“Unique world – Now I normally read straight fantasy and this is arguably horror-fantasy but the world that I was presented with is both vivid and a little disturbing (I mean this as a compliment!)…”
“Instead of the same stock images that fantasy often conjures up I was presented with a world that is both unique and richly imagined. Moreover, it’s presented in such a way that the world isn’t overpowering to the story nor is it flat and undeveloped.”
Is it okay to be in love with the world I created? I know that it’s a bit, umm, well… brutal. I couldn’t stop thinking up more and more detail. The world was inspired by nightmares that I had as a child. I wonder if that had something to play in the world building.
“Vivid detail – As part of the unique world, we’re exposed to some incredibly vivid scenes. The detail was done so well that even a couple weeks after reading the book my imagination conjures up various scenes. My favourite part is that it is so subtly described that I’m not entirely convinced that she wasn’t injecting images straight into my brain (seriously, you have to tell me if this is what you were doing!).”
The vivid and subtle description was purposeful. Every time I wrote a scene I would lean back and feel it play all around me. What does it smell/sound/taste/appear/feel like where I am? I tried to activate all senses without being wordy. I even did this for the darker scenes. It makes me happy to hear that my world has imprinted on you.
Dialogue – I’ll be honest the dialogue was my least favourite part of the book. Either the characters sounded all like each other or they were way over the top (looking at you Hope). It improves throughout the book to the point where it hardly bothered me at the end, so I’m hoping that it’s a kink that’s already been ironed out.
Ah, yes, my dreaded time with dialogue. This is something that I have to put most of my attention in. I’ve been striving to make this better. I’m glad to hear that it got better throughout the story. Thank you for letting me know that my studying wasn’t for nothing and that I did manage to learn something as Wicked was being written.
Thank you Cheyanne for giving me a suprise book review. I had no idea this was about to happen. This was the best thing to open today. I am really greatful for the knowledge that you have shared with me. I will work on becoming better and expanding my craft.
I was a young child setting up dance routines to the soundtrack of The Labyrinth with my cousins, or singing made up songs on the trampoline. My poor parents had to deal with this tone-deaf child that couldn’t keep a beat. No matter how bad it was, I loved doing it.
I lost interest in music when I got older. I liked it as background music, but I would never turn it on to clean or just sing-a-long. I hit a strange phase as a teenager.
Fast forward to 2017. I still can’t keep a beat. I can never remember the words, but I sing-a-long anyway. And…cleaning without music! Hello! I’m sure that’s a sin!
For my first novel, Wicked Soul Ascension, I only listened to music to distract me from the other noises in the coffeeshops where I wrote. I lived with roommates at the time, and most of the time they were great. I had my writing times, but my desk was in the living room for a while. I kept pushing writing for another time. The room was always too busy.
It was during this time that I refound my love for music. Listening to songs with lyrics was hard. I ended up writing in some of the words into the manuscript my accident. I had a hard time editing that out. So, I listened to classical music. Violin, cello, and acoustic guitar became my favourites. I branched into other types of music from there.
After I published Wicked Soul Ascension I had dug my claws into 50’s, punk, classic rock, and pop. I had grown up with classic rock from my dad and pop from my mom. I found my love of strange music all on my own.
I now have Spotify. I didn’t think my music collection could get more strange. I have a playlist I listen to as my characters are getting through their day by day, one for when they’re in battle, and another to add that eerie effect.
I’m glad that music found me again. It was meant to be. I find that music makes me a better writer. The music seems to pull my imagination out of its dark corner so I can see it in full view. There are still thousands of songs that I haven’t heard that I was meant to hear. Just as there are thousands of stories within me ready to be told.
Here are some of the songs I listen to almost daily. It’s always changing and growing. That’s the joy of discovery.
Misunderstood by P!nk
Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked by Cage The Elephant
Joker And The Thief by Wolfmother
Chasing Ghosts by Against The Current
Human by Rag’n’Bone Man
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown By Volbeat
Places We Were Made By Maisie Perers
My music doesn’t really have walls. I don’t listen to one thing. I pick out the books I read the same way. It’s like my brain has no borders when it comes to liking something. I rather like whatever (music, books, coffee) for how it makes me feel instead it’s label/brand.
What is your favourite song? Do you find music motivating?
(I will keep howling out my favourite songs when I think no one is listening. My poor dear husband.)
Check out my novel: Wicked Soul Ascension
Jumping back into the swing of things has never felt so good. Like a drink of fresh cool water, this week has started off leaving me feeling awesome. Last night’s writing session didn’t really go as planned. I only typed out a few words. I’ve come to realize that I can’t win every time I sit down to type.
I have found a rhythm that has worked for my writing and other daily activities. I love to swim laps at the pool and go out on hikes. Writing at night has become a great way to unwind from the day. I am able to work on Mortal Soul Ascension after dinner until it’s bedtime. While I sleep I dream up new events and my characters get more defined in their personalities. This system has been working. I hope that I will be able to stick with it and get this first draft over and done with.
Self-edits and revisions have become my favourite parts of writing. I hated it the first time I did it. And now, I enjoy sitting down with my manuscript to change it from a jumble of ideas into a readable story for all to enjoy. I can’t wait until Mortal Soul Ascension is at this point. Novemeber is ever creeping closer.
Wicked Soul Ascension will always have a place in my heart. My first book that got me to where I am today. Since I wrote it I have become a stronger writer that is letting everyday strengthen my craft. I am taking what I learnt from that experence and applying it to where I am going from here.
If you’d like to get a free preview of Wicked Soul Ascension click the link below.
This morning I woke up writing. I was half asleep with the idea that I was at my desk typing out The Dreamer. I was halfway through writing it out when I realized I was sitting on the edge of my bed attempting to find my glasses.
Once I got myself together; dressed, glasses on, and alarm shut off. I wobbled to my computer to actually write it. I don’t recall what I was dreaming about, but I knew that I had to write a letter to my dreams. I hit snooze for my first alarm. And that’s when my subconscious started writing. It was around my third time pressing snooze that I sat up. Around fourth or fifth alarm when it clicked that I wasn’t at my computer.
My sister, who was a delight and made me breakfast, watched as I sleepily poured myself a coffee with far to much honey and plopped myself in front of my computer to type out this letter.
There’s something about writing what the subconscious wants you to. I know I am missing fragments that would have made it better. There was this thing about the clouds and how the dreams would type the story onto the computer or save as a video for me to rewrite later. I can’t remember. It’s lost in that realm of sleep that stores all the hopes and wonder that is buried within my brain. I hope that the longer I write, the more I write, I might be able to unlock that hidden world.
If I only had the key.
Thank you for all the great adventures we’ve been having lately. I especially loved the one where we fought zombies while riding on dragons back. And then that time we got lost in a haunted labyrinth was pretty epic.
I have one thing to ask of you. Please, write your stories down. I will even leave my laptop open on the bedside table so you don’t have to reach far. I can leave the word program open. It would be nice.
I only ask this because you seem to remove most of the memory of the journey we endure together. I can’t remember how they start or end. The feeling of, what a trip! Vibrates under my skin all morning.
Your Dearest Friend,
Ps. The world would love to go on the same adventures you put me on. All you have to do is write them out.
There are moments when writing comes to me and I can’t stop my fingers from clicking against the keys. Last night was one of those nights. I had a great time writing until one o’clock AM. It feels great when my work in progress flows out of me. There’s this soothing freshness that calms me. Work on my writing has always cleared my mind like a hot bath or that euphoric sense of accomplishment.
I am happy to say that the first draft of Mortal Soul Ascension has taken my breath away. There are some new characters that have taken some time for me to get to know. There’s one in particular that I would love to meet in person. I will talk more about this person when I publish the book.
My aim is to have the first draft done before the end of the month. This is going to call for some really late nights and dedication. It will be worth it though. I find when I don’t write I get all jumbled up. There is a piece of me that goes missing while I don’t write. It has become a part of me that is needed, like breathing. People can’t live without the constant breaths of air, and I can’t live without clicking words into a page.
To write with a pen is satisfying, but I have come to the conclusion that I am addicted to the sound of the sound of the keyboard. It’s music to my ears.
C. B. Dixon
I made a Youtube video yesterday and realised that I wasn’t in the right head space to make one. Lately, I haven’t been able to talk with all these things going on.
(Link to the video: Adoption Education Program.)
Writing a book, working full time, getting debt free, getting fit, adopting from foster care, and vlogging about the adoption. It has taken up more time then I imagined. I haven’t been able to time manage all these things. I’ve realized after I posted my video about the AEP, adoption education program, that I mumbled about the weather more times then I would have liked. I rushed through the editing so I could make dinner.
I need to rethink about how I would like to manage my time. I did this for my writing last year and I was able to publish a book. A schedule is needed when you have so much on the go. I love writing. It is my main passion when it comes to life. I would love for it to be my full-time job so I can have flexible hours when Mark and I are placed with our child.
Adoption has been weighing heavily on my mind.
Adoption has taken up most of my energy as I have been trying to contact social workers, educating myself about adoption, and talking to friends and family about the adoption. With my YouTube channel, Our Journey to Family, I have tried to answer as many questions about our process. There are weeks where we haven’t moved forward and I am online looking at profiles of the Children in Waiting. Every time I read those little profiles my heart hurts for them. I know we can’t adopt all of them…
With the vlog, I hope to educate people about adoption. If I could get one more family to think about adoption then I will be satisfied. It was an easy choice for us, but that’s not the case with everyone else.
Adoption can be scary. You don’t know the trauma that your child will come with. It’s a hard transition for the children that come into your home. For one, they were chosen to be part of a family. And on the other hand, they were given up/taken by their biological family. Mark and I both had blessed childhoods so it’s hard for us to truly relate what the child will be going through. We both know we have the patients and the support from our family to help our child however they need.
Vlogging about adoption has me facing my biggest fear. People hearing my voice. I am trying to get better with how I present myself on camera. There are moments though, where videos like yesterdays happen. Where I mumble about everything under the sun, and the sun. I should rename the video Rambles by Chianne due to me bouncing all over the place. But the vlog is a life vlog as well. The adoption in at the point of a standstill so there isn’t much to discuss.
I want to do a video covering the emotions that go with being able to see the children’s profiles (no pictures) and wondering about our lives together. It has given me much to think about. There are many more videos that I would like to do covering trauma, FASD, and what we learn through our AEP and home study.
Now it’s time to hit the time management board.
If there is anything that you would like to learn about adoption or have an adoption story please let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading,
C. B. Dixon
Step back for a moment. Wonder that for a moment. You might be thinking that I’m a crazy writer that wants to blast the world with my conspiracies about great living. I’m not. Really and truly I am seriously letting you know I have saved money by managing my garbage. Yes, my garbage has helped me save money and I’m about to tell you how.
I live in a small tiny town where it takes a boat to get to me. Please keep in mind that my prices for things might be more than yours due to the fact that I do pay more than you for my products. Local is cheaper here.
Let me begin the tale of the Benckhuysen garbage plan. Here we have to pay $2 per 50lb. garbage bag. It adds up over time. Think $4 a week for a month, then a year. There are approximately 53 weeks in a year, so that’s $212 a year to get my garbage picked up and gone.
Hmm… that’s ridiculous, right?
That price is if we never recycled anything, it might even be more. Taking out our bottles, and recyclables our cost is half that. Bottle recycling we get money back, and plastic, paper, and glass are free curb pick up. This is a great incentive to recycle if saving the planet wasn’t good enough as an excuse.
There was one thing missing. Something we didn’t know we could do in town here because there is no facility this far up the coast. We had no idea we could compost our table scraps, yard waste, and A&W food wrappers. Yes, we now compost those. Ever see that label on the side that says compostable? It’s not lying to you.
On Monday, August 21st we started our composting journey. I had a lovely conversation with a woman that worked at the library coffee shop about how Mark and I started to compost our table scraps in Victoria. She went on to say that she composted everything in her cafe. She only had a small round garbage bin beside this five-gallon bucket. I thought the smaller one was her compost bucket…but I was wrong. The barista went on to say how she wants to have zero garbage come out of her cafe.
Pointed in the right direction I found the small composting bin beside the recycling place in town. The person that runs the operation came out as he saw me studying the signs. I tried to memorize all that information…he gave me a list of things that could go into the bin and things that can’t. He told me how to contact the facility if I ever had questions. I told him about how my husband and I were trying to be as waste free as possible. The reactions from people are amazing. He seemed thrilled with the idea. He took me aside and told me that there will be a curb side test. 500 people will be selected from town to see who will actually use the program. If there are enough participants that keep up with the program a compost facility will be built closer to town. Right now all the bins that collect the compost go down the coast to a place near Vancouver. After the conversation, he gave me an empty cat litter bin and sent me on my way.
Goal: Go from two regular white garbage bags to one.
At the end of the week, Mark and I filled the compost bucket with our scraps, coffee grounds, A&W compostable wrappers, and tea bags. Our garbage…well, I think we need a smaller bin. I thought we’d at least have half a bag filled. We just covered the bottom. There’s not even enough in there to put on the curb sided. Our goal was easily met. We no longer have to pay as much for garbage bags. We might be able to make one box last us a year. Imagine only having to buy one box of bags a year.
To save money and waste we also carry around our own water bottle and travel mug. Mark loves his tea, and I can’t function without coffee. It may only be a 10 cent discount or one free refill. If you’re like me and drink more than one coffee a day you will save yourself dollars by bringing these things with you. That goes for bottled water. Have you seen the price tags on those things?! Water’s free here in Canada. Where ever you go, whether it is a gas station or cafe, water is free unless you pay for a bottle. Save yourself the dollars and save the planet from one more plastic bottle. Use a reusable mug/bottle. It’s worth the change. For your wallet, the planet, and your health.
Where do we spend our money the most? How much waste do we make? Why? Why? Why? For the most part, all the questions ended up with, why? Why do we eat out three or four times a week? Why do we end up throwing out most of our vegetables and fruits? Why does it feel like we have no money left over?
Mark and I made lists. And lists. Some more lists, and why not, another list. These lists that we made became important. We look back at them now wondering what was wrong with us. Damn, there goes all our money…
List one: Our debts, interest rates, bills, and other payments.
List two: How much we both made and how we made it.
List three: Where we spent our food money.
List four: Where we spent our other money.
List one was as we expected. We owed a lot of money all over the place. Both Mark and I went to school, bought vehicles, have visas, both own a cell phone, rent our home, and have other little debts. Individually we both spent around $2,000 on debt and bills a month. This is one of those unmindful parts of our journey. We knew that it was a lot, but didn’t know how much.
To solve this problem we have made a mindful plan to be 80% to 100% debt-free by next fall. (More on how we’re doing that later.)
List two is extremely hard to predict. Mark’s job is weather dependent. Bad weather equals low pay cheque. My job is fairly constant as long as I don’t get sick. Putting all this together was easier this time around. When I was a nanny I had eight clients and writing where all the money came from was harder to do.
List three had our jaws on the floor. To save money we are currently running off of one vehicle. Mark has to go to the Tim Houston’s beside my work to pick up his coworker so it couldn’t be more perfect. One gas bill, I have time to work on my writing in the mornings and afternoons, and we save money on insurance. Win!
The downfall to this is our food spending. When I get dropped off at Starbucks, a few steps away from the Timmies, they also give free refills to gold members. I pay for my coffee, using my travel mug to get a small discount. I then work on my writing before I walk to work. Sometimes I order a bagel. This is still cheaper and more time efficient than making a pot of coffee at home due to how many refills I get. That’s a plus. At the end of the day, Mark sometimes doesn’t get into town until 7 or 7:30. By the time we get home, and cook and eat dinner it’s 9ish…and then there’s the cleanup. We get no unwind time…so we eat A&W. Healthier than Mc Donald’s, but still fast food…
In a month we eat out at a fast food place about ten times, give or take a few days. We get so tired, not to mention hungry, by the end of our work day that we want food, now! We do mix it up and go to other places to eat. In the end, we end up throwing out food that has gone bad in our fridge. That part always hurts. We intended to eat healthily. All those vegetables and fruits that had gone to waste. We might as well threw away our pay cheques…
List four happened to be a sad little list of one thing this month. We went to Blackberry Fest. A block party that the whole town goes too! It was a blast. I got a $40 blackberry tattoo that I adore. Mark drank more than he thought he could. (I was the designated driver.) We spent less than we put aside for the party which was a surprise. Mark and I hadn’t gone out in months. It was fun to see what the whole town was talking about. Everyone said we had to attend Blackberry Fest, and now we know why. It was super fun.
In list one I had mentioned that we wanted to be 80% to 100% debt-free. It seemed highly unlikely that we would be able to accomplish this in a year. I watched YouTube videos, read blogs, watched that show Till Debt Do Us Part, money management Ted Talks and whatever else I could get my hands on for free. I also talked about our debt and bill payments. These were the key to how we plan to get a grip on the hand around our wallets. We listed all the payments and interest rate, this included what we owed family. At the top of the list was the highest interest rate down to the lowest at the bottom. If they had the same interest rate we put the lesser amount owed at the top.
There we had a neatly organized disaster we had created ourselves. I know I could have bought a used car instead of a new one. We didn’t have to have five credit cards. But there they are.
Here’s the game we play. It’s like stacking dominoes in a neat little line. Push one over and they all fall over.
Dept one: Visa. Owe: $673.00. Interest: 18%. Payment: $100 (I always round up to the nearest $50.) PAID OFF.
Dept two: Visa. Owe: $1,300. Interest: 18% Payment: 150.00. Added payment: $100.00. (And there’s the first domino hitting the second.) The payment bounces to $250.00! It will take about 6 months to pay off that debt.
That $250 will be added on to the next debt payment, and so on and so forth. The bills I pay now won’t go up or down until all is paid. At the time I will still be making all rounded up regular payments to my debt so it doesn’t go to collections. It’s a fun fast game that will get my debt caught up and gone.
I want to bring some light onto list three. Even though we are running off of one vehicle and eating out we’re still saving money. The cost of double gas and insurance out weighs our eating out habit. The horror is in the food at home that we throw away. Mark and I talked about how we can make this into a better plan. We know there are going to be days we eat out. It’s going to happen. We tried the zero eating out thing and came up short on money elsewhere because we did eat out.
Our meal planning needed to change. Instead of planning for seven meals a week. We plan for four or five. We try to get frozen whenever we can that way things don’t go bad as fast. And I cut up most of the fruit and freeze it. This way we can still enjoy it fresh with minimal waste. The frozen fruit is great for smoothies, breakfast toppings, and dessert.
(There will be a post on our house waste and the environment in the future.)
These are simple changes that Mark and I have brought forward to get our handle on money. As much as I hate to admit it, money has a strong hold over the world. We’re just making sure it’s grip doesn’t kill us. It was time for us to make mindful decisions on our money to bring less stress to ourselves. We made them so they fit into our lifestyle, and so can you.
All money above is in Canadian dollars.
Ever look at your garbage bins and wonder if you could make less? How about that look you give yourself in the mirror wondering how you can help your body become healthier? Then there’s that empty wallet that you wished would fill its self.
Mark and I have wondered these questions and more. From everyday stress to the everyday impact on the environment. We didn’t know it then, but this was only the beginning of our mindful journey. Those thoughts turned into conversations, then into actions.
Our journey began years ago before we even knew what we were doing. We traded in the plastic disposable water bottles in for a reusable one. For us, it was a way to save money. That choice was more than a money saving choice. It was less plastic water bottles being made and disposed of. Another money saver was us using a reusable tea/coffee cup that had the same effect. Mark and I had no idea what was going to happen in the future as these choices began to snowball.
The decision to become debt-free made us think more about what we used, how we used things, and what we could reuse. Last year Mark and I lived in different towns. I lived on Vancouver Island and he lived across the ocean on the Sunshine Coast. We lived like this for a year while he tested out his job, and then last spring I moved to him on the Sunshine Coast. With the move came a new job. It cost us a lot of money in travelling between the island and mainland. So, I bit the bullet and made the move. We wanted to cut expenses where ever we could.
When I lived on the island I worked with individual families as a nanny. At my clients home, I found this amazing book for preschool to grade two children called MindUp Curriculum. (They have three books that span all the way up to grade 8.) I read once and loved it. I told my new boss about the book. She loved the idea of it and put it in her next Amazon order. I didn’t want to start the Curriculum until September, but the children had questions about the brain. With their interest peeked I snuck in the first lesson of MindUp, which teaches children about their brain and what it means to be mindful and unmindful. This is when I realized what Mark and I had started doing without noticing it.
Mindful- conscious or aware of something.
We discussed better options when it came to our money.
Unmindful- not conscious or aware of something.
We had no idea that we were creating less garbage, being healthy to our bodies, and affecting the world around us. Even if it was in a positive way.
I brought this up to him in a conversation as we sat outside one summer night. “Did you know that we’re doing this?” Mark then began to state, that we’re finally getting a handle on our finances. And, saving the planet. We both had huge grins on our face. We love the beauty our world has to offer. That’s why we live in a place surrounded by trees, lakes, and ocean. We wouldn’t, couldn’t, have it any other way.
A few weeks later I finally got time to go to the library here in town. I was blown away by how stunning it was inside. It was freshly built and still has that slight smell of fresh paint…and coffee! They had put in a cafe in! It’s a non-profit organization that gives the proceeds back to the town. I ended up talking with the barista about how Mark and I wanted to limit our impact on the planet as best we could. That we wanted to live a mindful life. We were already using reusable cups, eating at home whenever we could, but we still created too much garbage. In Victoria, there was a compost program that picked up table scraps at our door. The woman then told me that there’s a program here in town. I was thrilled.
(I will do another post about our mindful garbage goal.)
Mark and I had another discussion like we do every night. We’ve adopted the compost program into our home.
I will be writing a Mindful Life series about the changes that Mark and I have been doing to become healthier human beings. Healthier to ourselves and the environment that we love.
Every day, and every night, I pull the blinds closed so no one can see into the house and watch me. I have this people paranoia. It might stem from the genre I chose to write or all the horror movies that I love to watch. When I have the windows blocked up I feel safe, cosy, and unbothered. No one can know what I have if the curtains are pulled tight enough that even the sun has a hard time peering in.
And then we moved.
We found this beautiful coastal home where we have an ocean view out the front and a forest in the back. Holy shit, I feel as if I am in heaven. I feel like Anna from FroZen when I throw open the curtains for the first time. I want to be able to look up from my breakfast to see the sail boats going by and hopefully a pod of Orcas. It’s a strange feeling I’m getting as people walk by, our eyes meet and we smile at one another. For the first time in my life, I feel okay with people looking in to see my weird art on the walls. Our mass amounts of books. It’s okay.
Our library found the perfect room to grow. We’re able to put our TV room hidden away in the house. It’s nice to have the main area not aimed at this ugly black box. It’s beautiful to have people walk into our home and comment on the books. Mark and I even have room for new shelves…which may or may not be a good thing, only time can tell us that one. We also need to get an armchair for our reading spot. I can’t wait to set up a comfy chair facing the water.
It feels fantastic to have the windows open so Mark and I, plus all three of the cats, can see out. I’ve decided to toss my paranoia to the side for the daytime. At night though, they must be closed. I do, from time to time, peek out to see if the cruise ships are going by.
I like our new tiny coastal town. It’s might be hard to reach across the water to touch civilisation to get our box store wants. I like the simple life that this town has to offer me. It makes me realise how much I took for granted, and how little I truly need to be happy.
If you’re interested in checking out my novel: Wicked Soul Ascension