Wednesday, 29 January 2014

My Open Letter to Book Reviewers

I recently I saw a tweet in which a book blogger was hesitant to write a poor review based on her dislike of the novel.

The reason?

She didn't want to upset the author.

Let me ask this...

Who is the real audience?

Yup, that's right, the readers. Not the author.

Book reviews are for people who may consider buying/reading the book. The author has already read the book—probably a hundred times.

Here are the three top reasons I will never read reviews of my books.

#1. It won't improve my writing. That's why critique partners and editors exist.

#2. It could be filled with accolades and only one complaint, but that negative comment would stick with me. The last thing any writer needs is more self doubt.

#3. Time spent in front of the computer searching for reviews of my books is a waste of my time. Instead, I should be working on my blog, answering e-mails, paying bills, surfing Pinterest, or how about this one...writing.

I have a ton of respect and admiration for people who review books. It's hard work I tell you. HARD WORK. I hated doing book reports in school. But these 'consumers of all things written' do it because they LOVE it...and for FREE.

There's this girl, Amy Mathers, and she's doing something above and beyond.

She's embarking on a journey to read one Canadian-authored book every day of the year. She'll be reading teen fiction books from every province and territory, exploring Canada and promoting Canadian teen authors and books by finishing a book a day for each day of 2014. She will write a review for each book she reads, and invites people to share their thoughts on the books she reads too.

Amy's marathon will raise money for the The Canadian Children's Book Centre in order to endow a Canadian teen book award to be presented at the yearly Canadian Children’s Literature Awards gala.

That's 365 book reviews, people! Anne Shirley would be ever so impressed!

In advance of my YA novel, Busgirl Blues, coming out this fall, I want to thank bloggers out there who will read my book. I won't read your review, but I thank you for taking the time.

Now go follow Amy on twitter, facebook and check out her website.

And here's some advice on how to handle a snarky review.

Congratulations! You made it to the end of the post. As a reward, please enjoy this Gravity Falls short!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 4, "Karaoke, K-pop, and Kissing"
There are thirteen girls left. And their prize for making it this far is a free trip to Seoul, South Korea! The girls squeal because they're so excited to finally visit Seoul.

I'm pretty sure twelve of them couldn't find it on a map.

They land in Seoul and run down the streets full of giddy adventure. They lay about the posh hotel, but soon tears are falling when the group date card is read out loud.

Nikki is bummed to be going on another group date.

But,'re in Seoul!

Juan takes the girls dancing at a K-Pop studio with 2NE1. Yes, the 2NE1. He says the girl who can dance is the girl who can steal his heart.

The girls show off their 'skills.' Kat works it like a pole dancer.

2NE1 tries to give them some choreography. Kat is practically bouncing out of her leotard. Nikki has less moves than a white dude on crutches. And Kat's over the top jazz hands make her want to stick needles in her eye.

When they learn they'll be joining 2NE1 on stage that night, Nikki looks like she's ready to curl into the fetal position.

The girls get dolled up in make-up and wardrobe. They enter the foyer of the mega mall with five floors packed with screaming fans. 2NE1 comes on stage and invite the girls to join them as their backup dancers.

Nikki doesn't fall. Kat tells us, “I'm a K-Pop star!”

The evening portion of the date begins.

I'm guessing they're going to a have a restaurant to themselves that only serves booze.

Kat gets alone time with Juan first. Nikki suggests to the other girls how much they should dislike Kat because she has awesome dance moves and they don't. Danielle, the psychiatric nurse, listens patiently, secretly gathering material for her next case study.

When Nikki gets Juan alone she talks about how she's much better at changing diapers than dancing.

Nikki gets the date rose. And they finally kiss.

Elise says, “Yuck, I would never let her around my child.”

But she changes diapers really fast.

Sharleen gets chosen for the solo date. She tells us she's still not sure if Juan is the man she wants to marry.

She sounds so normal every time she speaks. Why is she even on this show?

They go through the marketplace and sample food and do some shopping. She tells us she is pleasantly surprised that he's so interesting and worldly. He asks her to sing for him. She says she never sings for a guy this early in a relationship.

She asks him to close his eyes, then lets it rip.

My eye glasses shatter.

It works. He's enamoured. They make out.

She tells us, “I like Juan Pablo. We could make a go of it.”

They discuss their experiences about moving to different countries when they were young. She tells him she once dated someone who had a daughter and she was conflicted because she knew she'd never have that first with him. He says, “Exactly! I appreciate your honesty.”

She gets the date rose.

For the next group date, Juan takes the girls to a karaoke bar. Then they peruse the marketplace, go on paddle boats, and get pedicures with little fish nibbling on their dead skin. Claire chomps on her gum, doing whatever she can to get Juan's attention.

We move onto the evening portion which I'm guessing will include bitching, back stabbing and boozing.

Juan is determined not to kiss any of the girls tonight, even after Renee asks him.


Claire interrogates each of the girls when they return from their one on one time.

Lauren, the music composer chick, who I can't believe is still on the show, asks for a kiss and when he turns her down, she cries.

Claire uses her one on one time with Juan Pablo to tell him how when she ate the octopus, she threw up in her mouth and then swallowed it back down.

And what does he do with this information?

He kisses her.

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

Andi gets the date rose.

The girls gather for the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party.

FYI, stilettos and ancient temples don't mix.

Claire tells Juan Pablo, “Just being here...?” Then she shakes her head, “has been like more than I would have ever expected. Yeah.”

Hmm. She should work for Hallmark.

Nikki interrupts their alone time, even though she already has a rose.

How selfish!

Claire is so upset she almost eats octopus by mistake.

It's time for the rose ceremony.

Renee gets the first rose, followed by Chelsea, Kelly 'the dog lover', Danielle, Cassandra...yada, yada, yada...

Going home are Lauren, the music composer, and Elise.

Elise says, “This sucks. Who knows what's in store now?”

A twelve hour flight back home, that's what.

Lauren reflects she probably shouldn't have cried when he didn't kiss her. And then she starts to cry.

Dear girls,

Dry your tears. The sun will come out again. And don't sign up for any more reality shows. 

Juant more?

The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 1 "Girls Just Juanna Have Fun"
The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 2 "Boobs, Blindfolds, and Bathroom Breakdowns"
The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 3 "Splashing, Soccer, and Poolside Sobbing"

Congratulations! You made it to the end of the post. As your reward, enjoy this Duran Duran hit from the 80's.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Five Words to Cut from Your Manuscript

If you're writing the first draft, come back later.

If you've finished the first draft and you're looking to clean up your manuscript, keep reading.

Top five words that have no business being in YOUR amazing story.

1. Just. If your sentence includes "just," take it out and see if the sentence still makes sense. If it does, leave it out.

2. That. Same as above. And if "that" is referring to a person, change it to "who." For example- "The guy that works in the coffee shop is my secret crush" sounds better written as "The guy who works in the coffee shop is my secret crush"

3. Many. Instead consider; teeming, bountiful, myriad, copious. Even better, give a precise number. Instead of, "I had no idea this many people would come to the play" say, "I had no idea there would be almost a hundred faces staring at me on stage"

4. Very. This is perfectly acceptable for the first draft, but there's always a better way to convey the same idea. "Very clean" can be replaced with "spotless".

5. Most adverbs. Usually there's a stronger verb that can convey your idea without the aid of an adverb. "He fled down the hallway" is stronger than "He ran quickly down the hallway." A sprinkling here and there is fine, but if every second sentence contains a word ending in 'ly' your prose will be distracting.

BONUS: Write with language your character would normally use. An English professor and a street wise gang leader should have their own distinct, and flavorful point of view. Let your characters be genuine.

Happy editing! 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 3 "Splashing, Soccer, and Poolside Sobbing"
It's a new week and there are only fifteen girls left!

Cassandra, the cry baby from last episode, is going on the next solo date. She keeps telling us she hasn't been on a date since she was eighteen and she's really nervous. Juan Pablo tells us he realizes she has a child waiting for her at home and won't waste her time.

They spin around in an amphibious vehicle. That's a car that can drive on land and be a power boat on the water. We have several in Halifax for tourists, they're called the Harbour Hoppers.

Cassandra has never heard of these. She says, “This is like something out of a movie.”

Or Halifax.

They 'park' beside a yacht and Cassandra is no longer worried or nervous. She peels off her cover-up, showing off her bikini. She says, “I'm going to trust Juan.”

'Trusting' Juan looks a lot like making out with Juan.

After frolicking in the water, they go back to his mansion and he cooks for her. She reminds us again that she hasn't dated in three years. He gives her an impromptu dance lesson to make her more comfortable.


She says, “I'm so surprised I'm so relaxed.”

It's the wine, sweetheart.

They move onto dessert. She tells us again she hasn't had a date in three years. They look at pictures of each others kids. Cassandra tells Juan she's having a great time with him today. Guess how long it's been since she's felt like this for a guy?

Yes, that's right. Three years! Which coincidentally is how long this episode already feels.

The next day Juan takes the group date to a soccer field.

Side note, girls play waaaaay dirtier than any FIFA match. This should be interesting.

The girls show up and watch Juan play with the Galaxy team. The dudes show off their moves for the screaming ladies.

Oh Gawd! Horrible high school flash back.

Allie, the Nanny, is also a soccer player so she's totally stoked to show off. The girls have a quick practice with Juan and then they split into teams.


Sharlene uses all of her body parts to block the ball, including her face. Juan thinks her grit is attractive.

One team won, one team lost. Whatever.

The evening portion of the group date consists of wine, candles and couches throughout the empty stadium.

Juan takes Nikki for the first one on one. She talks about how scared she is to 'open up and put herself out there.'

I wish I had a nickel for every frickin' time those girls said that phrase.

He takes Andi, the lawyer, into the concession stand. They slip on slushies and talk about love. She tells us, “He makes me giddy.”

It's the sugar, babycakes.

Then they make out by the stainless steel fridge.

Allie tells Juan she wants to have five or six kids so they can have their own soccer team.

Nice strategy, Allie.

Juan takes Sharleen to the middle of the field and lays down a blanket. I'm waiting for her to break out into an aria. They have a steamy kiss and the other girls watch from the upper bowl.

But it's Nikki who gets the date rose.

Andi quickly questions her kissing technique, while Sharleen tells us. “I'm surprised by how much that bothers me.”


Chelsea, "the science educator", is going on the last solo date. Juan says he wants to make her fears go away and starts singing to the Spanish song on the car radio. She rocks it out like any white girl who is desperate to look cool.

They eat burritos and stuff, then he takes her bungee jumping off a bridge.

Yup. That should help get rid of her fears. What the heck is it with these bachelors making the girls do these ridiculous stunts?

They get strapped together and Chelsea tells him she's terrified.

Juan tells us he's going to try and make her feel comfortable.

God, I hope he doesn't start singing again. If he really wanted her to be comfortable he'd let her back off.

They he says, “We'll do whatever you want to do.”

She steps on the ledge, then they back up...again. He tells her it's okay.

I'll spare you the next ten minutes of the back and forthing that keeps happening. She doesn't want to do it, but she's worried she's not going to get a rose.

Then they jump. Once the bouncing stops, they kiss, upside down, Spiderman style.


She says, “If we can jump off a bridge together we can do anything.”

They have a private dinner—or at least there are candles and wine glasses.

Juan tells her his biggest fear is not being a role model for his daughter. Chelsea says she's most afraid of not being happy.

Really? I thought it was heights.

Then she tells him she's the black sheep of the family because she's a teacher and the rest of her family are dentists and doctors.

Hmm...brag much?

She gets the date rose.

Then they're treated to a private concert.

*Hits fast forward*

Listen, until they get Duran Duran up there, I'm not watching.

The next morning Juan surprises the girls with an early morning visit to make them breakfast. He looks hot, they're in panamas and no makeup. Afterwards, there's a pool party.

*Cue the bikini's and cat claws*

They all preen themselves pool side staring at Juan's abs.

Sharleen gets a little weepy and tells Juan all the cameras are freaking her out a bit. The cuddle turns into a kiss. Some of the girls aren't impressed. Claire escapes to the house to cry. Renee goes into therapy mode with her.

Oh-uh. Juan forgot Sean's golden rule; Don't make out when the other girls are watching.

Renee must be getting tired of listening to all these crying girls.

Claire goes to see Juan on the cuddle couch and lets him know she's NOT jealous but it was hard listening to hear all the girls talk about their awesome solo dates. Plus, she's been 'putting herself out there' and it's scary.

Juan charms her and soon she's smiling.

Renee and Juan should open up their own counselling clinic.

The rose ceremony is next.

The girls get their make-up and stilettos on.

Andi, the lawyer, gets the first rose. Followed by Renee, Kelli and her dog, Sharleen, Elise, and a few others. I can't name them all because I don't want to get too attached.

The last rose goes to...Danielle.

Lucy the free spirit and some blond chick I don't even recognize, are going back home to real life.

Too bad, they didn't even get a chance to leave the continent.

The blond cries and says this is her worst nightmare. Lucy is also weepy but she leaves us with some hopeful words. “I hope everyone in there finds love one way or the other because everyone deserves to be loved.”

Well, Lucy, at least two people will be happy.

Thirsty for more?

The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 1 "Girls Just Juanna Have Fun"

The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 2 "Boobs, Blindfolds, and Bathroom Breakdowns"

Thursday, 16 January 2014

In Defence of Romance in YA

Romeo & Juliet

At my latest 'YA only' book club meeting, we were discussing our favourite novels that we'd read over the Christmas holidays. See the list at the end of this post for our top picks!

We got on the topic of how we'd like to see stronger friendships for the main character to develop in addition to the love interest. “There's romance, of course,” someone had said, “but you can't escape that in YA.”

Everyone nodded and then the conversation progressed to the next novel on the list. But I couldn't stop thinking about that one particular comment. It wasn't said with a negative intonation, but it wasn't a compliment either.

“You can't escape romance in YA.”

Sometimes, as adults, we forgot how different our brain worked as a teenager. I remember my entire happiness riding on the simplest decision. And don't get me started on bad hair. A whole day could be ruined by a wayward curl. That is, until the guy you've secretly been crushing on for two months, finally smiled at you in history class and let you borrow his pen.

In high school, I was terribly average in every way. I wasn't fashionable, athletic or an outstanding student. Reading was my escape. It was a place where I could be the smart, stylish girl who was brilliant on the soccer field.

YA was limited back then—not the cornucopia of selection today. Thank God for Judy Blume or I'd be stuck reading Sweet Valley High over and over again. I discovered Lois Duncan and then branched off into Ray Bradbury and Stephen King.

And even in these genres of horror and mystery, there was still romance. The protagonist always had someone they were in love with or were falling in love with—there was someone worth fighting for.

“You can't escape romance in YA.”

You can't escape mystery, humour, horror, fantasy, or science fiction in YA either.

But why is the romantic element viewed differently?

Would The Fault in Our Stars be more compelling if Hazel hadn't fallen in love with Augustus? way! A female protagonist motivated by love isn't weak or boring; she's genuine and compassionate.

One of my favourite books is The Republic of Love by Canadian author, Carol Shields (Pulitzer Prize winner). It's told from the view points of both Fay, a folklorist whose passion for mermaids has kept her from focusing on any one man, and Tom, a popular radio talk-show host, who has been married and divorced three times.

When they finally meet at the mid-point of the book, they fall in love at first sight.

'But Fay's noticed something she's never noticed before. That love is not, anywhere, taken seriously. It's not respected. It's the one thing in the world everyone wants—she's convinced of that—but for some reason people are obligated to pretend that love is trifling and foolish.'

“You can't escape romance in YA.”

What about Romeo and Juliet? Do you think anyone took Shakespeare aside and told him Juliet seemed weak because she was consumed by her love for Romeo?

So far in the last four hundred years, no one's mentioned romance ruined the story.

Recently, Alice Munro (another Canadian author) won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In the presentation speech, Professor Peter Englund said, “Over the years, numerous prominent scientists have received their well deserved awards in this auditorium for having solved some of the greatest enigmas of the universe or our material of existence. But you, dear Alice Munro, like few others, have come close to solving the greatest mystery of all; the human heart and its caprices."

“You can't escape romance in YA.”

Here, here, I say!

And in honour of romance, check out this post on how to write a simply head over heels, swoony worthy, kissing scene.

Awesome YA titles highly recommended by a bunch of smart bookish people

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Namesake by Sue MacLeod

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow

Undercurrent by Paul Blackwell

Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock

What are your views on romance in YA?

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 2, "Boobs, Blindfolds and Bathroom Breakdowns"

Claire is chosen to go on the first solo date with Juan. It's a surprise so he blind folds her and puts her into the car. The other girls scream and ooze with jealousy.

Yeah, because we all want to be kidnapped.

She tells us, “He smells like heaven in a bottle.”

Here's a tip, if you find yourself abducted and locked in the trunk of a car, unscrew the tail light and the car will be pulled over by the police.

Anyway, he takes her sledding in a make shift private winter park.

She says, “This is a fairy tale and it feels unreal.”

That's because it is, Claire.

Back at the mansion, Lucy walks around topless and tells the girls she'd prefer a group date because that would give her the chance to stand out.

The naked boobs should help.

After an hour in winter wonderland, Juan says, “I can feel myself having a nice life with Claire and Carmella.”

It's important that he takes his time considering his daughter's future.

*Cue the hot tub scene*

Claire gives Juan a back rub and starts to talk about her late dad and how she closed off herself emotionally after he died.


She says her dad would be happy for her. You know, sitting in a hot tub on prime time television entered in a contest with other women for the same guy.

Juan gives her the date rose and they make out. She tells him he tastes like snow.

Not yellow snow, I hope.

Then she says to us, “If this is the beginning of our love story, I can't wait to see what happens next.”

Oh, I can tell you, he'll have a date with someone else.

Some dude with a guitar and a piano accompaniment gives them a private concert in the middle of the fake snow park.


*Hits fast forward*


Kat is next on the solo date. They catch a private jet and she wonders which romantic destination he's taking her to; Miami? New York?


He hands her a fluorescent tracksuit complete with glow in the dark goggles. They will be running in the electric 5K race with dance music and thousands of other people.

Totally romantic.

Kat says, “There's definitely electricity in the air and there's definitely a future for us.”

And there's definitely more footage to fast forward through.

*Hits fast forward*

There's a concert at the finish line. The audience is full of women. Juan and Kat are called up on stage where he gives her the date rose in front of all those screaming women.

She says, “I can't think of a better way to start a relationship.”

Certainly not talking about your similar interests.

The next day, group date includes thirteen of the girls.


Victoria, a legal assistant, gives us this wisdom, “All of these girls want to date Juan Pablo so it could turn into a horror show.”

Oh, it will, Victoria, it will.

Lauren, the music composer tells us, “Juan looks so hot. He's showing his arms and he's wearing blue.”

Wow, she should write lyrics too.

The girls are scheduled to do a photo shoot with Juan and...puppies.

*Cue the giggling and cooing*

Kelly, a professional dog lover, is in heaven. That is until she finds out she's being put in a bald wig and painted to look like an actual dog.

Lucy, the nudist free spirit who doesn't own shoes, worries she might get poop on the sandals she had to borrow from one of the other girls. Ironically, she gets a costume that make her look like a huge fire hydrant.

Andi, the lawyer, and Elsie get assigned a costume that is only a sign.

What a great group date idea, Juan! Forcing women to pose practically naked for pictures.

Elsie, a first grade teacher, tries to talk to the director and he tells her to suck it up. She sees Lucy and asks if the free spirit would like to trade costumes. Lucy goes for it of course, and even takes her dog around the block totally nude just for practice.

Renee, the single mom, got the best costume and snuggled up with Juan in her evening dress and diamonds.

Andi is freaking out about going in the raw. Juan puts an arm around her and says he's going to be naked too. “Trust me it's going to be fine,” he assures her.

If I had a nickel for every time a guy said that to me before our nude photo shoot...

Juan, Andi and Lucy do the pose, all three naked with dogs strategically placed. After the shoot, Andi is relieved and empowered. Lucy nods back at her like Yoda to Luke when he was Jedi training.

The group date moves to the evening portion complete with a roof top pool and lots of booze.

Cassandra, the former NBA dancer, tells Juan she has a son. He's all giggly and cute about it.


Renee is next and there's more kid talk. Then there's cuddling with the sky line in the background. She talks about how close they snuggled during their photo shoot, but they don't get any closer.

Everyone is enjoying the wine, and Victoria is already slurring. “I'm not drunk,” she tells the other girls. “I'm fun sober. And I want to straddle Juan everyday.”


Juan tells us, “Nikki is cute and she's a nurse. She takes care of kids. I want to get to know Nikki.”

Where is the library? This chicken is delicious. Oh, sorry. I thought we were in language class.

Victoria puts on her bikini and spends some quality hot tub time—by herself. Soon she's upset that Juan is spending all his time talking with Nikki. She deals with this by going to the bathroom and crying on the floor and yelling at Renee for trying to help her.

She makes for the elevator. The producers try to convince her to at least put some clothes on. She returns to the bathroom and continues to cry on the floor.

Hey, I can't judge. I react the same way when the grocery store runs out of Lucky Charms.

Concerned, Juan goes into the bathroom to try and reason with her, but she is in full out wacko sooky pants mode.

Juan gives the date rose to Kelly because she had to wear all that weird body makeup and was such a good sport about it. Then he asks the girls to make sure Victoria gets back to the mansion safely so he can talk to her tomorrow.

Charlane says, “Why is he so perfect?”

Exactly! Just like I thought, Juan is a robot.

Victoria actually spends the night in the hotel. All the girls back at the mansion say they feel sad for her, but secretly they're all happy.

When Juan visits Victoria the next morning this is how it goes.

Victoria: “When I'm happy I'm really happy, and when I'm sad I'm really sad...”

Juan: blinks

Victoria: “I guess I should apologize?”

Juan: “How are you feeling now?”

Victoria: “I don't want a guy I'm going to be dating see me cry.”

Juan: blinks

Victoria: “I might have had too much to drink...?”

Juan tells her he accepts her apology, but he's thirty-two with a child to think of and he can't be with anyone who can't take care of herself.

FYI, any dude of any age with or without kids would have backed away too.

It's the night of the rose ceremony and a few girls get some much needed interview time. Amy is a local reporter so she should handle this like a pro. It's dorky. She'll be perfect for the red carpet.

Cassandra looks at pictures of her son and starts to cry. “I thought coming her would bring me more happiness.”

You mean competing with other women for a stranger's attention?

Renee spends some time consoling her and they end up in the bathroom.

Renee is going for the Miss Congeniality award.

Juan goes to speak with them—he must be sick of crying girls in the bathroom.

She tearfully tells him, “I'm trying to be realistic about things.”

Um, you're on a reality TV show, things don't get more real than this!

Juan completely understands. He sees her and Renee differently than the other girls because they're both moms. He jokes with her and says he's not sure about anyone yet so she shouldn't be worried about not being sure about him.

They end the conversation with a fist pump.

That robot man is slick.

It's time for the rose ceremony!

Cassandra, the cry baby, gets the first rose.

Nikki, Sharleen, Andi, Lucy, and others I don't care to name all get flowers until it comes down to Amy and two other chicks.

Christi, who I haven't even seen before, gets the last rose.

Amy smiles huge for the camera and gives a stellar post dump interview. “I still want to find love and who knows who it will be with.”

Charlane is shocked. “I don't know who else to love. I haven't dated in so long.”

Dear girls,

This too shall pass. This isn't reality. Take solace in the fact that you won't be crying on television next week.

Who do you think is the best match for Juan?

Check out all the past episode recaps...

Season 18, Episode 1, "Girls Just Juanna Have Fun"

Friday, 10 January 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside

The chilly record breaking temperatures felt all over North America this last month have kept most of us indoors and grumbling about our lazy ancestors who decided to settle in the north instead of continuing down south.

"Big deal", I'd say to them, "so you built a log cabin. That's no reason to lay about making maple syrup and cooking bacon. Two words, palm trees."

However, my time machine is broken so I guess the temperatures are something I'll have to weather, whether I like it or not.

Did you see what I did there? I made a homonym pun.

But let's not forget about all the little creatures that can't come into the warm log cabin and enjoy some maple syrup. In the winter the birds need extra fat to help them weather the colder temperatures

I think Mary Poppins said it best, "Feed the birds..."

So while we're all lamenting about the frigid winter, here's something to do with left over bacon fat to help our feathered friends.

Notice I didn't mention left over syrup. That's because there's no such thing as left over syrup.

Five easy steps to make a wicked awesome winter bird feeder!

Step 1.  Gather up store bought bird seed, one of those garbage bag twist ties, a big bowl, a mesh bag (the kind the grocery store uses to package onions), and some reserved bacon fat. We save ours in a tin can and keep it under the sink. You should never pour hot fat down a drain.

Step 2. Mix your bacon fat and bird seed in the big bowl until it gets a sloppy porridge kind of consistency. I used about a full soup can of cold fat and probably five cups of seed. This is MESSY and gooey fun.

Step 3. Cut an opening in your mesh bag. Then spoon the bird seed mixture into the sack. Some seeds will spill out.

Step 4. Use the green twist tie to close up the opening, making sure to leave enough on the ends to attach to the tree branch.

Step 5. Secure the mesh sack to the tree branch with the twist tie.

And voila!

You've done a great thing. Now all you have to do is pour a cup of coffee and stand by the window in your housecoat to wait for the birds to show up!

The next morning this is what I saw from my living room window.

And then a few minutes later...

And then it soon became a party...

Have fun making your own feeder and enjoy all that bacon!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Bachelor, Season 18, Episode 1, "Girls Just Juanna Have Fun"

Remember Juan Pablo from last season's The Bachelorette?

He's a retired professional soccer player who now works as a travelling sports reporter. He's hot, has a great job, and a cute little daughter.

If Juan can't get a date then what the heck is the rest of the population doing?

Oh, he's looking for true love.

And everyone knows the best way to find true love is to make out with strangers on prime time.

He says being a dad is not easy, and that he's always thinking about how his actions will affect Camilla—no matter what he's doing.

Let's remember that little gem for a hot tub scene, shall we?

Juan tells us, “There's a person for everyone. And I'm hoping to fall in love.”

Well, it worked for all the other shows...right?

Sean from The Bachelorette Season 8 and The Bachelor Season 17 shows up to give Juan some advice. Maybe he's going for a record in consecutive reality show appearances.

Dear God, what pearls of wisdom will Sean bestow upon Juan?

Sean says, “Some woman will be wacky, just have fun and go with it.” Then he adds this, “When making out with one girl, make sure the others aren't watching.”

Good to know.

Buckle your safety belts! The girls are about to arrive. I can't wait to meet the crazy one.

Chelsie is a 'science educator'. mean like a teacher or is she a summer camp counselor?


There's Renee, a single mom, who is in amazing shape. When do all these single parents have time to work out?

Andi is a prosecutor with a penchant for dressing like she's rehearsing for Law&Order.

Amy is a massage therapist. She says, “I want a man who wants to be rubbed by me.”

I think we just found our freak for this season.


Nikki is a paediatric nurse. “I want that head over heels feeling. Juan is very sexy.”

Go girl.

Lauren tells us she has a great family life, but her love life sucks. She got engaged, had the dress ready, and the ring, then he broke up with her over the phone. “I want Juan Paulo!” She was already crying and the show hasn't even started.

I fast forwarded through the rest. Suffice to say, they all have long hair and big boobs.

The Host greets Juan Paulo and blah, blah, blah...

The first limo pulls up with loads of squealing.

Amy, a local news reporter is the first to tackle hug Juan Paulo.

Cassandra is a former NBA dancer and she brings a lot of awkward pauses.

Juan is soon overcome with how hot the girls are. He's ready to start picking wives from the first limo.

Nikki the paediatric nurse, brought a stethoscope and lets Juan listen to her racing heart so he can tell how nervous she is.

Hey, Juan got to first base already. Sean would be proud.

Lucy, twirls out of the limo in her white dress with no shoes and is wearing a crown of flowers. She says she's a free spirit. I think she's a fairy on a spy mission.

Lauren arrives on a bike playing the piano. I can smell the desperation through the TV.

Chelsie 'the science educator', tells him they should make chemistry together.


Another teacher shows up and gives him a gold star sticker.

What the heck is with all the teachers?

The next girl, Clare, arrives with an obvious baby bump. It's a joke.

Oh my Lord! Amy, the massage therapist has arrived. She manages to keep her hands to herself.

Kelly, a dog lover—yes that's her actual job title, brought her dog. I can't wait to see the other women dodge the dog in their gowns and dresses.

Sharleen arrives in her flowing lavender gown. Juan LOVES her dress. She's an opera singer and she's from Canada! Yeah!

For the record, Sharleen is not only a Murakami fan, but she's the only one who put down someone other than 'Dr. Seuss' for Favorite Author.


Andi the prosecutor, gets out of the limo in her navel skimming, low cut dress and makes Juan all silly. He even repeats her name a few times.

Yup, Andi's getting a rose.

When all the girls are assembled, Juan walks into the room and all the women giggle and stare at him. He tells them how beautiful they all are. Then he whips out the BOSE stereo and a dance party starts.

And you know what every party needs? Yes, drunk girls crying.

Nikki the nurse gets him alone and they chit chat, she makes him repeat her name a few times.


Renee and Juan discuss their kids.

Lucy, the fairy queen, twirls around and tells him, “Don't be nervous, be sure.” He calls her a happy camper. I think he means crazy girl.

Amy decides the best way to bond with Juan is to give him a massage...with his suit on. She discusses how he's one of the most beautiful people in the world.

The Host brings out the 'first impression rose' and the girls are freaking out.

Lauren, the jilted bride, bites her nails and says she needs that rose.

One of the girls from the mid-west said that rose represents her future.

Interesting how normal people lose touch with reality soooo quickly on this show.


Lauren monologues about her insecurities and starts to cry in front of the camera. “I can't believe I'm the one who's getting worked up.”

I hate to say it, but I did predict this.

Lauren waits alone on the couch. “I want him to see the good energy I have, but I'm breaking a little bit.”

Juan finally meets up with her. Lauren tells Juan about her ex-fiance and how she was ready to be a step-mom to his young son. She's smiling through the story of her break-up, but cries again to the camera.

Andi tells Juan she's a lawyer and he says, “Wow you read a lot.”

She replies with, "I send bad people to jail."

Such compelling conversation for a first date.

                                                                     Sharleen and Jaun.

Juan has some time with Sharleen the opera singer. He compliments her again how much he loves her dress. He tells us her elegance and worldly presence sets her apart from the other girls. He gives her the first impression rose.

She stares at the rose and stammers, “Sure. Thank you.” She's shocked, but she tells the camera she wishes there was more of a connection. She seems awkward to have the rose in front of so many girls who are salivating for it.

I'm thinking Sharleen is just realizing only wackos sign up for this show.  

It's time for the rose ceremony.

The first rose goes to Claire, a girl with long hair and big boobs.

Nikki the nurse is next.

Renee the single mom, also gets a rose.

Andi the lawyer gets a rose. No shock there.

Oh my God, he chose the girl with the dog!

Chelsie the 'science educator' also gets a flower.

Cat is called and Kylie steps forward. Insert awkward moment. Kylie steps back and blinks away tears.

Lucy the fairy skips across the floor for her rose.

There is only one rose left, so of course the host comes out to tell us there's only one rose left.

Kylie, Amy the massage therapist, Lauren, and a bunch of other nameless chicks are left.

Some other girl gets the rose.

Amy cries and says, “I put myself out there completely.”

No, you got on a plane, put on a dress and gave a dude a massage.

Kylie pouts in her neon pink lipstick and lets us know her heart is breaking. She's so ready to find that perfect person.

Lauren says she tired of people feeling sorry for her. She's also shocked she's going home on the first night.

Dear Lauren,

Sell that wedding dress and book a cruise.

She leaves us with these words of wisdom, “I'm going to go home to my family and try to get back to normal.”

Amen to that, sister.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Happily Ever After; Dating Service for Fictional Characters, Session Three

Voted as the number one on-line dating service for fictional characters.

It doesn't matter if you're a hero or a zero on the pages, our on-line dating service will help you find your soul mate.

We'll have you picking out matching bookmarks before you can say, 'library late fees'.

We helped Victor Frankenstein find love in our very first on-line chat room, and our second session featured a war or wits between Lydia Bennet, George Weasley, and Pip from Great Expectations.

This session is about to get started! Let's see who's looking for love today.

Moderator: Hello, everyone. I see we have a whole new group! Splendid. Who would like to start the conversation tonight? How about you, Ariel?

Mute Maid: First of all, I'm not used to using a computer. Being submerged in water most of the day cramps my social media presence. But since my voice was stolen I have no choice but to join an on-line chat group.

Nancy Drew: Is that why your user name is 'Mute Maid'?

Mute Maid: You're a clever two legged one, aren't you?

Nancy Drew: It's kind of my thing, I guess.


Jacob Black: Whoa, like did you just say, oops I mean type, two legged one? Does that mean you're not human? Hey, that's cool with me. do you feel about four legs?

Romeo Montague: O, here upon this keyboard I press the letters that shall bequeath my purest dream come true. How is it that thou shall not speaketh, Mute Maid? And may the conviction of your soul bare to me the solution for all our woes the God's have vexed upon us.

Jacob Black: Dude. Like, what?

Nancy Drew: I think he's asking Mute Maid how she lost her voice.

Mute Maid: I made an unsavoury trade with a spiteful sea witch.

Percy Jackson: Oh yeah? What's her name? I might be able to help you out.

Mute Maid: Ursula is not to be underestimated. What do you know of the sea?

Percy Jackson: Quite a bit, actually. My dad is Poseidon.

Mute Maid: ZOMG! No way!!!

Jacob Black: Hey, sorry to interrupt, but a sea witch is no match for my cunning stealth and massive fangs.

Nancy Drew: Yikes! Are you half shark or something?

Jacob Black: Some know me as Shark Boy, but I'm a werewolf now.

Mute Maid: I don't suppose werewolves can swim?

Romeo Montague: Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate! Why then, does love create these bonds that tether us to a dateless bargain of engrossing death?

Nancy Drew: Sorry, was that a question or a statement?

Romeo Montague: Thouest have the loveliest of names, Miss Nancy Drew.

Nancy Drew: Thank you, Romeo. Tell me, what are some of your interests?

Romeo Montague: Sword fighting, revenge, buying tights and smart gold trimmed tunics, going to balls...


Percy Jackson: Can we get back to the ocean thing? Mute Maid, are you free next Friday?

Jacob Black: Hey, Bro, back off. I don't care if your dad has a fish tail for legs and owns a magical fork—

Percy Jackson: It's called a Trident, fang face.

Jacob Black: Whatever. I'm a way better date than you. I can run fast and there's always plenty of homemade muffins and spaghetti at my house.

Mute Maid: What's spaghetti?

Nancy Drew: Hannah, our housekeeper, makes the best muffins!

Jacob Black: And I can swim really fast, too.

Mute Maid: That's important.

Jacob Black: And I never get cold, so we could travel to Antarctica or something and hang out on an ice flow.

Mute Maid: Oh...but how can I kiss you if you're a werewolf?

Jacob Black: No problemo, I can turn into a MAN whenever I want. Although since I can't travel with clothes when I'm a werewolf, I'll be naked when I transform to kiss you.

Nancy Drew: Insert awkward silence here.

Romeo Montague: O, pained heart! You speaketh the truth. The frosted breath of lovers denied cannot battle the boundaries of thine flesh.

Mute Maid: I think Romeo is right, Jacob. I'm not quite ready for naked hugs on the first date and I can't risk becoming sushi in your arms.

Jacob Black: Well, I didn't mean it THAT way!

Percy Jackson: Mute Maid, I can breathe under water. And I promise to wear clothes on our date.

Mute Maid: ....I'll be at the end of Pier 21 on Friday at 6pm. And you can call me Ariel.

Percy Jackson: Awesome, Ariel. I'll bring my underwater white board and waterproof marker.

Nancy Drew: Smart thinking, Percy!

Mute Maid: I'm sorry, Jacob.

Jacob Black: I'm used to be passed over. It's okay.

Romeo Montague: Love's heavy burden is great indeed. No man nor werewolf shall be king of such a cruel power.

Nancy Drew: Um...Jacob. I'm presently working on a case that involves suspicious night time activities surrounding a supposed haunted house on the edge of my town. I could use a brave, fast running assistant.

Jacob Black: I'll bring a thermos of spaghetti!

Nancy Drew: And pants as well please. Okay?

Jacob Black: Should I take a shirt too?

Nancy Drew: Um...I'll leave that up to you ;)

Moderator: I'm sorry to say our time has come to an end. Delightful session, everyone. Hoping to see you next time.

Romeo Montague: Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Moderator: Yes, thank you, Romeo. And remember, if you have to have an 'ever after', make sure it's a happy one. Until next time...

Who would you like to see show up in the next chat room?

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