Category Archives: Uncategorised

I’ll Show You My Drafts Folder If You’ll Show Me Yours

Woman working in home officeWhy, yes, I did write the same sort of post last summer! It was such a smashing success that I’ve decided to do it again.

Last year’s peek at upcoming posts has since been edited to include links to everything that I ended up writing.

Some of the stuff listed below are ideas from last year that I didn’t end up writing then but plan or hope to change this time around.

Once again, I’ll edit this post to include links to the posts of anyone else who decides to write about this same topic. I love getting sneak peeks of what all of you are working on!

 

Title: Mindfulness Exercises for a Bad Mood

Publication Date: August 3

Why: This is something I talked about writing last year. My research into the topic has finally culminated in enough knowledge to share what I’ve learned.

Film poster for The Others. Image on poster is of Nicole Kidman looking scared.

Title: A Review of The Others

Publication Date: August 20

Why: The 2001 film The Others is my all-time favourite haunted house story. I’ve been raving about it here for years and finally found space in my editorial calendar to officially review it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, this is your chance to go rent it so we can gush about it together.

 

Title:Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Favourite Things to Do in the Autumn

Publication Date: September 23

Why: Autumn in Toronto is gorgeous and filled with amazing things to do, many of which are outdoors and therefore will hopefully not be affected by Covid-19. Fingers crossed.

 

Film poster for Us. Image on cover is of protagonist crying while holding a mask that looks identical to her face.

Title: Dodging Doppelgängers: A Review of Us 

Publication Date: October 15

Why: Am I the last person on Earth to see Us? Possibly.  It was still a great deal of fun to watch, though, and is perfect for Halloween, my favourite holiday.

 

Title: Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Funniest Things That Have Happened To Me

Publication Date: November 18

Why: These stories would otherwise never fit into the theme of this site. Their topics range from alternative uses for adamantium (the fictional alloy used to coat Wolverine’s bones in the Marvel universe) to what it’s like when acquaintences get so confused about certain facts about your life like your racial identity that they argue with you about how everything really must work.

 

Title: Stained Property: A Review of The Red Lodge (Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories)

Publication Date: December 3

Why: Did you all know that telling Christmas ghost stories was a tradition in England in the 1800s and early 1900s? Seth’s Christmas Ghost Stories is a series of those tales. I’ve written reviews of all of them and will publish them in December 2020 and December 2021. This is something I’m really excited to share with you all as some of them aren’t well known at all in our era. And what’s better than shining light on excellent stories from the past? 

Person standing on snowy mountain while looking at aurora borealis at night

Title: Fitness and the Holidays

Publication Date: December 7

Why: Like a lot of folks, my healthy habits tend to slip up a bit over the holidays. I’ve been meaning to talk about this topic for years and decided to finally bite the bullet in 2020.

 

Title: My 20 Most Popular Posts of 2020

Publication Date: December 28

Why: One, I enjoy sharing the posts that resonated with all of you the most. Two, seeing how the trends change over time helps me figure out what to focus on in the coming year.

The number 2020 cut out of white paper and surrounded by confetti

Title: Search Engine Questions from 2020

Publication Date: December 31

Why: The pure frivolity of it all. Some of these search engine questions are hilarious but don’t make enough room to be expanded into a 500-1000 word post. So why not let them shine in a few sentences instead?

 

Title: What I Read in 2020

Publication Date: January 4, 2021

Why: This is something I’ve written about annually for a long time. It’s always fun to take a look back at how many books you’ve finished!

 

Woman reading book while sitting on a stone bench in a forest

Title: Modern Classics Series (tentative title)

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Eventually, I hope to start recommending science fiction and fantasy books written in the last 20 years that I believe will be considered classics in the future. I still need to do a lot more reading before beginning this series, though!

 

Title: How to Find Your Way Home in Minecraft

Publication Date: Unknown

Why: I stopped playing Minecraft. Someday when I regain my interest in it I hope to write this post.

 

Rolled up yoga mats

Title: 3 Benefits of Taking a Yoga Class

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: Even if fitness classes were open here at the moment, Covid-19 and what we know about how it spreads makes this stuff far too high risk for me to take that gamble.

 

Title: Health and Fitness at the Library

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why: *Me glaring at Covid-19 for shutting down all of the cool library programs I was going to promote here*

 

Title: 5 Places You Should Visit on a Trip to Ontario for Canada Day

Publication Date: Unknown.

Why:  Damn you, Covid-19!

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors Who Have a Fun Social Media Presence

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Cellphone with three pieces of paper lying above it. One has a heart, one has a human emoji, and one has a conversation bubble in it. My first impression of this week’s prompt was that it would be an easy one. It turned out to be trickier than I assumed. In my experience, some people misinterpret social media as a place to sell books or draw traffic to one’s latest blog post.

While I love seeing what authors have recently created, having a fun social media account requires effort, creativity, and, most importantly, regularly engaging with your followers. All of the authors I’m about to share do just that. I’d recommend checking out their creative, thought-provoking status updates regardless of what your personal feelings are about poetry, horror, science fiction, or any of the other genres they represent.

This post is divided into two sections: Twitter and Instagram.

Twitter

N.K. Jemisin

As N.K.’s pinned tweet says:

Please be advised that I only talk here about writing-related topics, which means just politics, media, science, food, charity, cartoons, volcanoes, gardening, space, cats, health care, cats, fanfic, Afrofuturist music, human nature, video gam

And, honestly, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Her Twitter feed is filled with interesting stuff from a wide range of topics.

Chuck Wendig

Chuck is one of the funniest people I follow on Twitter. His timeline is filled with the sorts of random thoughts that most people don’t speak aloud.

Nnedi Okorafor

Nnedi’s cat is adorable, and her tweets about the Coronavirus are on point.

Stephen King

Stephen is like that cool uncle everyone hopes will show up at the next family reunion. You never quite know what he’s going to say, but you know it will always be worth listening to.

Instagram

Rupi Kaur 

Rupi’s poetry melds perfectly with the Instagram aesthetic.

Danez Smith

Danez’s feed is such an eclectic mixture of poetry, writing, selfies, and random pictures from his life.

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favourites

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week’s prompt is a cute one. I’m going to try to answer it without mentioning books I’ve talked about here many times before like Harry Potter, Anne of Green Gables, and the Little House on the Prairie novels. Not only will it make this post a bit more unique, it will show you parts of my personality that I don’t think most of you have seen before.

 The Childcraft Series

Childcraft is a set of encyclopedias and anthologies meant for kids. Someone gave my mother a set of them in the 1960s or 1970s. After she and her siblings outgrew them, she saved them for her own children a few decades later. I believe that my nephews are now reading or have read these anthologies, too!

These books covered an incredibly wide range of subjects: history, science, technology, creative play/hobbies, animals, fairy tales, crafts, kid-friendly sociology, how things work, and much more. Just about anything a child might wonder about was covered by one of the volumes. Reading them was a fantastic way to learn a little bit about a wide range of topics.

I think this series had far more than 10 volumes, so technically they could be the basis for my entire post today. Let’s count them all as one answer and move on to other stuff, though.

Lois Gladys Leppard’s Mandie series

Once again, there were so many books in this series that I could have counted them as all of my answers today.

Mandie was a biracial orphan whose solved all sorts of mysteries in the late 1800s to early 1900s. I haven’t reread these books as a adult due to my loss of interest in the inspirational genre, but I do remember really liking her adventures when I was in elementary school because of how smart and headstrong the main character was.

The Dictionary

I loved reading the dictionary for fun when I was growing up. Sometimes I go to dictionary.com and look up new words for the sheer joy of it to this day.

The Thesaurus 

I’ve also read thesaurus entries for fun both as a child and as an adult . Can you all tell I’m a writer?

Medical Textbooks

My mom went back to college to get her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing when I was about eight or nine years old. I remember being fascinated by all of the textbooks she bought for her courses. Sometimes I’d read them when she wasn’t studying.

While I didn’t necessarily understand everything they talked about, I loved the case studies in her textbooks and was proud of myself when I figured out how to pronounce the really long medical terms. These books also confirmed that I am in no way suited to be a doctor or nurse…although I have the utmost respect for people who can deliver babies, perform surgeries, place IVs, and stitch up wounds!

This might be the most unique Top Ten Tuesday post I’ve written so far. How many of you had similar reading habits as kids?

Top Ten Tuesday: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

It’s going to be interesting to see how everyone responds to this week’s prompt. I wasn’t sure if I could come up with enough responses to justify participating this week, but luckily I did.

1. Sometimes the movie is better than the book.

For example, The Hobbit was a fantastic book. Peter Jackson’s trilogy based on it was not something I’d ever watch again.

2. While I regularly seek out #OwnVoices stories, every author who is willing to do the appropriate research should feel free to create characters from any background or identity they wish.

Speaking as someone who is bisexual, it makes me so happy when mono-sexual authors write bi characters so long as they talk to people from my community about our experiences and listen to our feedback on how to create non-stereotypical characters if they have any questions about the appropriateness of their ideas.

The more representation we get, the better! I’d also love it if we could create a literary culture that expects inclusivity in every story and applauds authors who put the work in that is necessary to create fresh characters from a wide range of backgrounds.

3.Stalking and jealousy aren’t romantic.

I see this a lot in young adult novels especially, but it bothers me when a young girl is harassed by a guy who knows she’s completely uninterested in him. It’s even more concerning when he continues to pursue her no matter how often she turns him down or tries to avoid him. Sometimes these “love interests” will also start telling her to stop talking to certain people, insist she dress a certain way, or make other big changes to who she is as a human being without her consent.

The thing is, this isn’t romance. It’s abuse. This is a totally unacceptable way for anyone to behave and should never be part of any romantic storyline…especially when it’s written for teenagers who might not have enough life experience yet to catch these red flags if or when they pop up in real life.

4.  Characters who die must stay dead.

I’m looking at you, super heroes and other inhabitants of graphic novels.

Exceptions to this rule include ghosts, zombies, and vampires, but  character can only be one of them. If they take this path, they should be exactly as dangerous as all of the other ghosts, zombies, or vampires out there.

I have no interest in the “true love makes it safe to kiss a creature that wants to eat me” trope. If a character is a monster, let them be a proper monster.

5. Short books are better than long ones.

There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but in general I believe it’s better to leave the audience wanting more than to turn what could have been a tightly-written 200 page novel into a 400+ page monstrosity.

I do not need dozens of pages of descriptions of the flora and fauna of a universe in the vast majority of cases. Give me the basic rundown of how that world is different from the one I live in and let my imagination fill in the gaps. It’s so much nicer to get straight to the plot than it is to wade through what I think of as unnecessary descriptions.

6. Proselytizing books are unhelpful.

No, this isn’t about any particular religion, ethical stance, or philosophical belief. I don’t care what point the author is trying to make or even if I happen to agree with them. Books should never be used as an excuse to sermonize.

They should be used to, you know, tell a story and entertain their audience. By all means introduce a sympathetic character who happens to be on your side of issue X if it happens to genuinely fit the storyline, but always stay focused on developing the plot and characters instead of pressuring the audience to join you in your love of big, purple hats or personal vendetta against cilantro.

7. Hype is like a drug

I tend to be cautious about books that are heavily hyped up. If they’re still receiving glowing reviews six months or a year after they are published, I will start to take the overwhelmingly positive response to them more seriously.

This isn’t to say that I avoid reading books that have overwhelmingly positive reviews, only that I try to temper my expectations if the response to them feels too good to be true.

8. Excessive slang makes novels feel dated before their time.

In no way do I expect characters to speak formal English all the time, but will we remember what TBF or honey wagon means 20 years from now? If every single scene in a book is filled with slang terms that are only a few months or years old, it makes me wonder if people will still find it readable in the future.

9. Some love triangles should have unconventional endings.

Love triangles would be rare if I had my way. In my opinion, they’re overused and often take up space that would be better allotted to resolving the main conflict. If they’re going to keep existing, why not wrap them up by:

  • Everyone turning out to be polyamorous
  • The main character choosing to keep dating around instead of picking from their first two options
  • The two love interests deciding to date while the main character ends up happily alone
  • All three characters finding partners who are better matches for themselves elsewhere
  • Everyone ending up happily single for now (or forever)
  • The main character picking one person for a romantic, committed, asexual happily ever after

I believe we need much more diversity in what is counted as a happy ending in tales that decide to make love a conflict.

10. Most stories should not have romantic subplots at all.

This might be my most unpopular bookish opinion of all, but I’ve grown weary of how often characters in non-romance genres suddenly end up in relationships when they have more pressing concerns in their lives like running from a hoard of zombies or figuring out who the killer really is before they become his next victim.

Look, I’ve been happily married for years. Romance and love are incredible experiences…but there are many other equally thrilling things to explore in fiction and in real life.

I dislike the cultural pressure that is placed on folks to be married or in a longterm romantic relationship regardless of whether that’s something they actually desire in the short term or long term.  I feel like making every character have a love interest only makes this pressure more intense.

Despite the occasionally critical things I’ve had to say about romantic plots today, I am in no way opposed to them in general. I simply wish it were as common for characters to be asexual, demisexual, polyamorous, or even simply too focused on building a career, dating around, or fighting the undead to settle down right now as it is for everyone to pair off by the final scene in so many of the books out there.

My Review of Bipasha Basu’s Unleash 30 Minute Fat Burning Cardio Workout

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this post is in no way intended to provide medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before beginning this or any other type of workout routine. 

I’m reviewing this workout simply because I enjoyed it and think some of you might, too. I’m not being compensated for this post in any way and have no affiliation with Bipasha Basu or Shemaroo Good Health 24/7. As always, this is an advertisement-free site. 

A surprising number of people find my site every week by searching for Bipasha Basu. If you’re one of them, I hope you enjoy this workout as much as you have her previous ones. If you’re new to her videos, you’re in for a real treat today!

About the 30 Minute Fat Burning Cardio Workout

This is a 30 minute workout that includes approximately five minutes each of warmup and cool down exercises. I liked the fact that those things were accounted for. As I’ve said here in the past, I find it easy to skip out on cool downs especially when videos don’t include them because of how eager I am to flop over and relax after exercising.

One of the biggest reasons why I decided to do this particular workout was because Bipasha Basu was in it! She has an aerobic dance workout I’ll link to at the bottom of today’s post that I love, so I was curious to see what else she’s been up to lately.

There is no special equipment required for this routine. I appreciated having a yoga mat to jump around on, but this extra layer of padding on the ground is optional.

The cardiovascular exercises in this video included jumping jacks, pushups, mountain climbers, squats, kicks, squats, bunny hops, and marching in place between the most strenuous moves. Bipasha Basu’s 30 Minute Fat Burning Cardio Workout 

My Review

Let’s begin this review with a lighthearted comment about bunny hops. This wasn’t something I’d ever heard of before, but anyone who knows how much I adore rabbits can probably guess how much I enjoyed that particular part of the workout. It was the last thing I was expecting to find in such a serious video, but it sure was a cute thing to try.

Most of the cardiovascular exercise I do is in the form of walking. While it’s brisk, I was still more challenged by this workout than I was expecting to be. There’s a difference between taking a walk and doing jumping jacks, and I think I need to be doing more of the latter to build up my endurance!

This definitely isn’t something I’d recommend to a beginner. I consider myself to be a reasonably fit person, and I wasn’t able to go through this entire video without pausing when I was testing it out for this post. If you’ve been exercising regularly for a while, this may be right up your alley.

I never know how to properly gauge the intensity of a workout, but I would recommend it to people who have been exercising regularly for a while and are interested in trying something new. Bipasha’s Basu’s aerobic dance workout I previously reviewed on my site was an easier, lower-impact workout that included all sorts of positive messages about loving yourself and doing your best.

This one included a minimum amount of narration and more energetic moves. That minimalistic approach is something I appreciate. I suspect I’ll continue to be challenged by it for quite a while.

With that being said, I did notice a few exercises that carried over from her aerobic dance workout. It was amusing to be surprised by them just when I thought that Ms. Basu was expecting her audience to learn an entirely new set of moves.

The only non-complimentary thing I’ll say about this workout has to do with the background music. I’m not a fan of exercising to music unless I’m dancing, so I did find myself wishing for a version of this workout that included Ms. Basu’s instructions but no other noises. This is a minor criticism of something I otherwise found quite useful and challenging, though, and I am glad that the background music didn’t include lyrics.

What I like the most about Bipasha Basu’s workouts is the repetition built into them. Every move was repeated once before she had her audience go onto a different set of exercises. While this is a common thing to find in all sorts of fitness routines, I’ve only grown to appreciate it more over time. It’s nice to be able to practice certain moves more than once, especially if they’d be something I might skip if I were making up my own list of exercises to get through on cardio days.

Previous Reviews of Free Youtube Workout Routines:

The Challenging Chair Workout 

Bipasha Basu’s 30-Minute Aerobic Dance Workout

Fitness Blender’s Brutal Butt & Thigh Workout

Fitness Blender’s Ab Blasting Interval Workout

Fitness Blender’s Toned, Lean Arms Workout

What to Read If You Liked The Walking Dead

Since the first post in this series was about a book published almost forty years ago, I thought the second post should feature something more contemporary from the speculative fiction genre. I try not to make assumptions about what my followers already know about any book or graphic novel I blog about, so I’ll summarize… Read More

Taking an Excused Absence Today

Don’t worry, everything is well in my world. I’m simply not satisfied enough with the posts I’m currently working on to publish any of them quite yet. It’s better to say nothing than to share half-formed thoughts, I think. I’ll go back to my usual posting routine on Monday. Cheers! Read More

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Suggestion Saturday: August 18, 2018

Here is this week’s list of links from my favourite corners of the web. Last week’s list was a little sparse. I think I more than made up for that this time around. Don’t Worry About Feeling Sad – on the Benefits of a Blue Period. What do all of you think of this idea? I… Read More

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My 4 Favourite Science Fiction Books About Life on Mars

Today’s post was inspired by yesterday’s breaking news about a lake of salty, liquid water being found on Mars. This is exciting news for the scientific community and humanity in general. We may now be a little closer to discovering life on another planet. As a sci-fi writer, I can only hope this leads to… Read More