Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Shadows crept across the wall. A crack in the ceiling let in the only light. Odrin knew he had only minutes before the guards found him. His orange eyes widened as they adjusted to the darkness.  The alien’s dust-covered bones were laid out on a table. Though its flesh had long since disappeared, Odrin saw echoes of the being that his mother had described, the immense height, five-fingered hands.   His hearts swelled with wonder as he gazed upon the creature that had always been a part of him. Odrin pictured the skeleton encased in the same pinkish skin that appeared in patches over his own body. He’d always hated how they marred his violet scales but, in that moment, treasured their one connection. How stupid he’d been to wait so long to find his father. His mind burst with questions that couldn’t be answered. Who are you? Why did you come to this world? Now all he’d ever know was this collection of bones. He stood mesmerized, not hearing the guard’s approach until she was right behind him.  Her stunner seared into his back. His skin tingled from the weapon’s heat. His last breath reeked of burning flesh. Then everything faded.

I wrote the above snippet for Rachael Harrie's Campaign Challenge.  (This post is #101 on that page. Like it!). The criteria:

  • 200 words or less (check)
  • Begin the story with the words "shadows crept across the wall" (check)
Bonus challenges:
  • End the story with "everything faded" (check)
  • Use the word "orange" (check)
  • Write in the genre you normally write (check)
  • Use exactly 200 words (check)

I used a character from my work in progress.  This might end up being a scene in the book, depending on how the story plays out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Eleven Questions

So there's this meme going around where you answer eleven questions about yourself. It's kind of a fun meme because instead of everyone getting the same questions, you think up different questions every time (My questions are at the very bottom of the post). Fun! I was tagged by Elizabeth Twist.  These are her questions (copied from her blog formatting and all) with my answers. Enjoy!

1. What are you reading?
Right now I'm reading "the Help". I'm going to watch the movie when I'm done. The book is beautifully written, the characters feel real, and I'm truly enjoying it but next I'm looking forward to reading something set in the future with aliens and robots.

2. What is your favourite creative activity that is not writing?
Lately I’ve been really into Improv. I go every Monday to a drop-in beginner’s class. Not only is it a blast, but it’s also therapeutic because I often pretend to be my tantruming children. I also paint.

3. Where or how do you get your best ideas?
I’m not really sure. I do know that I tend to look at things differently than most people. Any stimuli I receive gets mixed up in my brain and transformed into a story about aliens and/or robots.

4. If you could magically and painlessly change one thing about your mind or body, what would it be, if anything?
I’m pretty happy with myself generally, but I would like to remove my tendency to procrastinate. I struggle with this a lot. Often, I don’t even realize I’m doing it.  Other times, I know I am but can’t seem to help myself.

5. What's the scariest movie, story, novel, or scene you can recall?
There’s an episode of CSI where a kid takes a ride in a dryer at the laundromat and is killed from the extreme heat. Kind of freaked me out because it involved a kid just being a kid, not murder or rape or anything.

6. What's the weirdest thing you believe?
I believe in the future everything will keep getting better. I know that global warming is threatening our way of life, people are starving, animals are becoming extinct, the oceans are dying, and war and greed continue to thrive.  And yet, every generation becomes a little more tolerant, a little more aware, a little kinder to one another.  I believe that there are people right now working on solutions that will allow us to live in harmony with each other and with nature, without sacrificing the luxuries we enjoy.  

7. Super strength or super intelligence?
Super intelligence. Although I’m pretty sure I have that already.

8. You're granted the ability to become invisible. Where do you go and what do you do? (Bonus question: are you wearing clothes? I mean, what about YOUR becoming invisible makes your clothes invisible too? This has always bothered me.)
This has always struck me as the least useful superpower for my day to day life.  I don’t hide. I’m not particularly curious about what people say behind my back. I’m not interested in invading the men’s washroom. If I was being chased by a rapist or something then invisibility might be useful, but other than that no. As for the clothing, perhaps it is what makes me invisible, as in Harry Potter’s magic cloak.  Or, my super power might create an aura around me and make whatever I’m wearing invisible (like how Superman’s clothing is also bulletproof). This would also avoid the whole objects floating in the air problem.  Alternatively, I might need special clothes, like Violet in the Incredibles. I wouldn’t use my power if I had to be naked. It doesn’t matter if no one can see. I’d know. I don’t even like to be naked while talking on the phone.

9. What one change do you think would have the most positive impact on the world as a whole?
The abolishment of dogmatic ideas.

10. What is the crappiest advice you've ever been given?
I once took a career assessment which concluded that I should be an audiologist or a technical writer.

11. What's your favourite song right now?
I don’t really have a favourite song, but I had a blast singing MacArthur Park last time I was at karaoke.

I also got tagged by Avery Marsh. Here are her questions:

1. Who was your favorite author when you were a child?
My Mom has always been my favourite author.

2. If you could put yourself in any book, what would it be?
I would put myself in a Star Trek novel. Since I was a kid, I've dreamed of serving aboard the Enterprise, under Captain Picard's wise command.

3. What is the best writing advice you ever read/received?
Just keep writing.

4. If you were a prescription drug, what would your list of side effects include?
Unrestrained laughter, confusion, and nausea (don't they all cause nausea?) 

5. Name an interesting trait you've given one of your characters.
Scales that change colour with emotions.

6. Edit as you go or edit by the draft?
Both. If I get blocked I go back and edit the last few chapters to get me in the groove. 

7. If you were to write an autobiography, what would it be called?
Super Happy Jen's Super Happy Autobiography

8. Introduce us to one of your villains.
The villain in my upcoming book is a prototype soldier droid who has been retrofitted into a sex slave. She has an unrestrained hatred of humans, and stubbornly denies that her fellow wardroids are not self aware. 

9. How many novels have you written?
Just the one, more to come!

10. What is your favorite writing related website?
I like all the blogs I'm reading during this writing campaign.

11. What other secret talents do you have?
I mentioned improv and painting above. I used to make flash cartoons, when people did that sort of thing. 

Here are some people I'm tagging.  (If you want, you can tag yourself)

Natalie Francisco
A J Mullarky
Brooke Hamilton
Sharon Clare, Sherry Isaac, and Carole St-Laurent
Rhiannon Morgan
Kevin Hiatt
Carolin Seidenkranz
Sherri Lackey
Ruth Schiffmann

And here are my random questions:
1. If there was a movie made about your life, which celebrity would play you?
2. What were you like in high school?
3. Which character in Star Trek: the Next Generation would you be for a day?
4. Karaoke?
5. In the fictionalization of your life, are you the hero or the villain?
6. Vampires or zombies?
7. Children?
8. If you could have a pet dinosaur, what kind of dinosaur would you get?
9. How do you picture yourself in the future?
10. Dogs or cats?
11. Favourite youtube channel?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


My son William turned five today.  Here's a picture him when he was just a month old:
Here's a picture of him with his sister, taken just before his birthday party on Sunday:
He sure has transformed! (Get it?) Yes, he opted for a Halloween party for his birthday. I borrowed some Halloween decorations from a Halloween-obsessed friend and we put them up together.  He also helped decorate the cake, too. Here's the cake:
William chose all the icing colours and sprinkled the candy stars.  The orange happy face in the middle started out as a pumpkin, in keeping with the Halloween theme. Also, according to William, the red corner is  "blood from where somebody died".  Spooky. And what cake would be complete without three random cars?

Here's a picture of the kids playing bean bag toss:
The idea was to get your beanbag to land on that pumpkin. William asked for a beanbag game to be included in the festivities so Adam made that poster especially for the occasion. Later, William had fun sliding on the slippery print, and jumping off the stairs onto it.

Here are all the kids waiting for their food:
After all the hoopla about the cake, William had exactly one bite of it. He didn't even eat his ice cream.  He did have a popsicle though (he made me buy those).

Here is William opening presents:
One day he'll get the process of opening each present one at a time, reading the card first, and then thanking the gift giver.  That is not what happened here. Presents were being thrust at him by helpful party-goers and he tore at them like a gift-starved animal.

I spent all of Monday putting together Lego flying saucers and army vehicles.  None of these are still together now that it is Wednesday.

After the party goers left we went to visit my in-laws in Niagara Falls. Here is William opening the Innotab they got him:

He calls it his iPad. The thing is pretty cool. Of course, in about an hour both my kids had passed the games that came with it, including the difficult level. I can see how this thing could easily become a money sucker (and a battery sucker).

Here's Babcia, wearing William's Bumblebee mask:

Today (after William opened his presents from me and Adam) I spent about an hour trying to find a friend for William to play with on his birthday.  Having been unsuccessful, we headed to the Early Years, where we saw noone we know (other than the staff). The kids had a good time anyway.  They sang Happy Birthday to him in circle and he blew out a candle (no cake, just the candle).  

I promised my kids McDonald's for lunch but when I got to the McDonald's next door to the OEYC I realized I had forgotten my wallet at home. We went all the way home, then went to a different, closer McDonald's that had a play place in it.  I climbed through the tubes with Jadzia because she was too cranky to do it herself. The entire structure was hard plastic and tough on the knees.

We went home eventually, then went outside and played baseball in the snow. (William got a bat, ball and glove from Adam).  I pitched, he batted.  He didn't do too badly considering I'm a pretty terrible pitcher.

For dinner we went to my Mom's house, where he got gifts from his grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Here is a picture of the monkey cupcakes my Mom made for him:

He ate the digestive biscuit off the top, and also had some strawberries.  He's not much of a cake person, as you may have gathered.

In conclusion, my son is five. The tiny zygote that lived in my belly is big grown-up boy. 

Happy Birthday William!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An Improveriffic V-day

Tonight I went to possibly the greatest Valentine's Day* show in the universe at the Staircase Theater, where I go to improv class every Monday.  After buying our tickets we filled out a card about how we first met, because in the show they choose three couples to interview on stage.  I was hoping I would be chosen, because I enjoy an outing a hundred times more when it's all about me.

On the card we were asked to describe our partner in one word.  My word for Adam was "huggable" and Adam's word for me was "distractable".  Hmmn.

We sat right in the front row and the host (Devlin, also one of my improv teachers) called us up first.  (I was told later that they picked randomly and didn't know that I was in fact "their Jen"). We sat on a comfy couch and were interviewed about how we first met (over balloons at a friend's birthday party).  Then we chose a couple of improv actors to play us in the reenactment.  

I chose Jessica to play me because I happen to know she is very funny, and also she wears glasses and looks a bit like I did in my early years of dating Adam.  I've already forgot the name of the guy who played Adam, but again, it's all about me.

Adam had told the story of how when he picked me up to go to a movie, my whole family was watching from the window, so they kind of melded that with our first kiss.  The actors playing us were having an intimate moment doing eskimo kisses and butterfly kisses, while all the rest of the improvisers pretended to be my family watching from behind a curtain. Most of them were gesturing with their tongues to encourage us to kiss, while the "Dad" was shaking his head and scowling.  Priceless.

We got flowers and a pack of gummy hearts for participating.  Then, later on in the show, I won a raffle prize.  Guess what? Tickets for two to improv bootcamp, where I go anyway every Monday!

I thought we were pretty boring, especially since the couple who went after us had sex on their front lawn the night they first met. After the show, though, people kept coming up to us and telling us how great we were. I'm not sure why. The improvisers were great, all we did was answer questions.

As we were leaving another one of my teachers told Adam that his wife is very funny.  Yay!

*My husband says that I should write about my son's birthday party instead, since that is a much more important event.  I agree that my baby turning five tomorrow is far more important and his birthday party we had on Sunday deserves a post, but the V-day show is fresher in my mind and more appropriate for a February 14th entry. Also I'm too lazy to upload the party pictures from my camera just yet. Maybe tomorrow on his actual birthday. Or sometime I don't know.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Campaigning again

Remember a while back I participated a blogging campaign with the goal of having fun, attracting readers, and creating blog friends?  You might remember that this involved lots of flash fiction stories.  Well, I'm going to go ahead and do that again.

This means I'll have a lot of new people visiting my blog.  Hi new people!  Some days this blog is about writing, sometime about whatever, but most of the time it's about my kids.  This is my life, unedited. I recommend you watch the silly trailer I made for my new book (coming in 2013). It's up in the top right corner. I also recommend you read a couple of the earlier posts, as the required "Hey, I'm in a campaign" post is never my most inspiring.

Incidentally, the stories from the last campaign have been published into a book that you can buy and all the proceeds go to charity (no, the charity is not me, an even worthier cause).

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


The other day I took advantage of the inexplicable lack of winter weather and went outside with the kids.  In addition to creating a family portrait with sidewalk chalk, playing hopscotch and tic-tac-toe, and attempting to skip in snow boots with a too short rope, I also waved a bubble sword around.  Kids really do go crazy for bubbles, running down the sidewalk, jumping and popping them in the air, squealing at the big sized ones, the snowmen ones, the ones that seem like they will go on forever and never burst.  No grown-up would be this excited about anything, even if thousand-dollar bills were floating in the air.

I was immediately reminded of two movie scenes.  The first from the movie "Knocked Up":
And the second from "Finding Nemo":
Yes, Mr. Rudd, my children do remind me how difficult it is for my adult self to enjoy anything, but they also help me appreciate things anew.  We all have an excited little yellow fish inside us, don't we? Anyway, I love bubbles for their ability to amuse my children until the soap runs out.  (They also add extra fun to bath time).

Strangely enough, this week's scishow was about bubbles.  Apparently they can destroy boat propellers and  also cure cancer. Fun!

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