How to Make Sweet Easter Treats

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Hey gang!
I’ve decided to start sharing some of my artistic hobbies with you: chocolate lollipop making, flower arranging, and perhaps even patio table-decorating if we ever get rid of this snow!

These are the arts and crafts I do while I’m plotting my next novel or poem. I like to keep my mind busy with another art form while I’m ironing out the writing project I’m working on, or when I just need to do something different with my creativity.

These easter lollipops are the latest batch of lollipops I’ve made with my nine-year-old daughter. We don’t like to use the words, ‘I’m bored’ around here, but that means coming up with creative activities to suggest to your children, or to do with them.  If you always have some chocolate compound (also called melts), molds and lollipop sticks on hand, you’re set for a fun (though rather messy!) afternoon with your children aged 7 and up. They may even forget about their iPhones and iPads for a while!

It can be an expensive hobby to start up just because you’ll probably want to get molds for every holiday – when we started we got ones for my daughter’s birthday, Christmas, and Easter. The molds are only $3 each, and the compound that melts in the microwave is $5 at Goldas Kitchen (where I love to order all my supplies as they always arrive the next day or in 2 days at the latest). You can probably find it cheaper somewhere like Bulk Barn. The lollipop sticks are $7 for 150, but again you can maybe find them cheaper at Walmart or a party store.

My daughter has told me she’d much rather make chocolate lollipops with us on a weekend afternoon than go to a movie – which these days runs at $50 for a family of four, if you want drinks and popcorn too. The best part is that I can spend $50 on supplies and we get to make the lollipops several times a season (and the molds are reusable forever, just don’t put them in the dishwasher!)

We use paintbrushes to fill in the fine details before filling the molds up with melted chocolate. We had to experiment with bowls and microwave time before being able to make really complicated and detailed molds. Some bowl types get really hot and then burn the chocolate. We now put in 1/4 cup of chocolate melts, put it in the micro for 35 seconds, stir it, then put it in for another 35 seconds, stir again until smooth, and place as much is needed in mold. Now that we’ve figured out the process (we each like to have our own mold to work with, a paintbrush or two of our own, and a section of the counter where we can ‘share’ a bowl of chocolate) the sky’s the limit, and we even make some of these without lollipop sticks to place as decorations on cakes.

We love giving the treats away as gifts. We use small plastic bags, tied with dollar-store ribbon. It feels good to give someone we love a chocolate treat and see their face light up.

Please ask any questions below – I’m happy to try to answer them.

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One Strangely, Incredibly Good Tour!

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STRANGELY, INCREDIBLY GOOD comes out in ebook June 5th, and I’m going on tour in May. Fictionella is setting up an online blog tour for me -I’ll be visiting 25 blogs.

This Is So Exciting!

What do you want me to talk about? Please discuss below, or send me a note via my Facebook Page. I’ll make sure those questions get answered during my blog tour. I’ll also be re-blogging some of the best interviews here.

Another question: I haven’t decided if I should create an event page for the digital launch of the book on June 5, (so many people hate those event invites!) or just create one post, such as, THE DAY IS HERE! ;) and we can all chat on that on the main page of the Facebook Author Page that day. Ideas?

Thanks again for your support and loyalty. You rock.

Can’t wait for you to meet Cat, Eugene, and Gram!

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Love,
Heather

 

The Writing Process Blog Hop

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Thanks very much to Doreen Pendgracs for inviting me to participate in this fun blog hop about the writing process. I met Doreen through PWAC (Professional Writers Association of Canada) many years ago, and she has been a great supporter of all my writing projects ever since. Thanks Doreen!

Doreen Pendgracs

Doreen’s intent is to educate, entertain and inspire writers and anyone interested in creative and cultural endeavours.If you’re a chocolate lover and love to travel, you will enjoy Doreen’s chocolate travel blog at http://diversionswithdoreen.com/. If you’re interested in her latest book, Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate, visit  http://chocolatour.net/ for updates about the book, and chocolate tours, tastings and events. In addition to non-fiction books, Doreen also writes magazine, newspaper, and online articles and blog posts about travel, lifestyle, chocolate, volunteerism, and other topics for various publications. You can read some of her published articles on the “Samples” page of her static website at http://www.wizardofwords.net.

Doreen’s previous title, Before You Say Yes … A Guide to the Pleasures & Pitfalls of Volunteer Boards was released by Dundurn Press in 2010 and has been renowned as the “volunteer’s bible” as it was written to serve as the ultimate guide for anyone sitting on a board of directors in the non-profit sector. In addition to books and periodical assignments, Doreen has also done writing/editing projects for various corporate clients, and conducted writing and public speaking workshops for numerous writing and community groups. As a Distinguished Toastmaster, Doreen’s speaking abilities have dazzled audiences on Celebrity Cruise Lines and in other forums.
Doreen loves making contact with readers and fellow writers and hopes you will enjoy perusing her wide variety of posts. Drop by her Twitter and don’t forget to check out her Chocolatour website.

Okay, now it’s my turn:
Author Heather Grace Stewart

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1) What am I working on?

I am excited to say that I’m currently “in final edits” on my adult fiction/women’s fiction novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good, with my publisher Morning Rain Publishing. Gosh, I love being able to say that! I got the best Christmas gift ever when they sent me a publishing contract for Strangely, Incredibly Good on December 23rd, 2013! I’m also thrilled that we haven’t revised much from my original manuscript. We’re just looking to clean it up and make it shine now. It is due to be launched on June 5, 2014.

When I’m not working on edits for that book, I’m coming up with the plot for my next book. I can’t say much about that. You’ll just have to wait. :D

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

 I hope that people will say it has more humour than most other women’s fiction novels. I also hope they find it’s more of an escape. It’s about a woman who starts an exercise routine and discovers a genie in her Wii machine! It’s definitely fanciful, but that’s what I set out to do. I wanted it to be based in modern reality, but allow for the characters to escape that reality – and take the reader along with them on that fanciful journey. It’s more adventure packed than some other books that are considered women’s fiction, I think, but then, I didn’t write it specifically for women  – I wrote it for myself, and my friends and family, with hopes that many people from diverse backgrounds, men and women, would pick it up and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

3) Why do I write what I do?


I write to entertain myself, first and foremost. It’s pure entertainment for me. When I’m writing a longer work of fiction like this, I’ve noticed the TV remains off for several weeks at a time, or, only one or two shows pull me in a couple times a week (I do need to watch some times to recharge my batteries after writing all day)!

The topics I choose to write about – in my poetry and in fiction like Strangely, Incredibly Good - are all themes I feel need more discourse in our society. I want to get people thinking and talking about these themes. Sometimes, I just want to poke fun of our society and get us all laughing at ourselves. Other times, I’m more direct, and I’m trying to incite change. This novel was really meant as an escape for the reader, and as a form of entertainment, but there are some themes and sub-themes in there I hope get dissected to pieces in Book Clubs across Canada and beyond. As long as you have some wine in hand and don’t take my book too seriously! The last thing I want is to cause cat fights at Book Clubs!

Side note: My main character’s name is Cat. This could get interesting. We could actually call debates over that character – debates over her actions and what they mean – Cat Fights.

See? I’m having waaaaay too much fun with this book. I may never watch The Bachelor again!

4) How does your writing process work?

The only hard and fast rule I have is to write something every day. If I’ve got a lot of marketing to do, or maybe I’m prepping a writing workshop like the one I just did at Queen’s University, I still set aside half an hour every day to write creatively. I don’t always like what I wrote, but I save it in a file, and work on it the next day, and the day after that.

When I was working on this novel, I got to my desk every morning at 7:30 a.m. and wrote until noon. That’s a little trick I learned when I read that Hemingway did that. Then he went fishing every day at noon. I choose to have lunch, Tweet, check Facebook, do yoga, take a walk, read, or do laundry! Then I get back to other work tasks.

The first week or so of writing Strangely, Incredibly Good, I just wrote. I didn’t edit at all. I tried to not even edit my sentences as I put them down, let alone re-read what I wrote and edit that paragraph or paragraphs. I just wrote. I had an idea, and I saw the beginning, so I wrote that. And then I kept going.

When I got to about 5,000 words, I took a look at what I had, and started plotting. I had cue cards, and a filing system, and filed items on plot, main characters, sub characters, etc. I plotted out how the story was going to end, but I did so in a vague way. My story wasn’t solidified yet. I still had to write and find out what was going to happen.

So, I got back to writing, and worked at a slow but steady pace. Some days I put down 1,000 words; other days, more like 1500. I never wrote beyond that because I never wanted my writing to sound tired.

Once I was finished my book, I spent weeks going over it and massaging it for language, plot development, and character development. Then I wrote up my query letter and started looking for a publisher. This is the first time I’ve found a publisher for my work this quickly. I sent my letters out in early November, and received this request for publication just before Christmas. It doesn’t usually happen like that, trust me. But it does feel meant to be.

This is one experience where I can say I’ve definitely enjoyed the journey, the writing, as much as the destination of getting published.

PLEASE visit the following three writers, who will be posting their answers to these questions next week, Monday, March 31, 2014. Not only are they talented writers, they have become dear friends. I feel blessed that they have become part of my life.

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Joseph Hesch is a writer and poet who lives near Albany, New York. Many of his poems and stories are inspired by the spirit and history his 350-year-old hometown. But often, they capture the observations and feelings of a man who began to create verse and stories in middle age. His work has been published by numerous U.S. literary journals, as well as in anthologies such as Petrichor Rising, a worldwide collaboration with a small group of friends brought together on Twitter. Joe posts many poems and in-progress short stories on his blog, A Thing for Words A founding staff member with the dVerse Poets Pub community, and now a contributor to the Bardo Group, Joe has been named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.”

Please drop by his Twitter timeline and his Facebook page.

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Author Elisa Lorello was born and raised on Long Island, the youngest of seven children. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and eventually launched a career teaching rhetoric and composition. Elisa spent six years in North Carolina, where she split her time between teaching writing to university students and publishing her own work. She has since returned home to the Northeast.

Elisa is the author of Kindle bestselling novels Faking It and Ordinary World, Why I Love Singlehood (co-authored with Sarah Girrell), and Adulation. Faking It, translated in German as Vorgetäuscht, also spent three consecutive weeks at #1 on the German Kindle Bestseller List.

When not writing, Elisa is an unapologetic Duran Duran fan, Pop-Tart enthusiast, walker, and coffee shop patron, and she can sing two-part harmony.

After you visit her awesome website, please visit her on Twitter and drop by her  Facebook Page.

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Author Arianna Merritt, M.Ed, is a Canadian Psychotherapist (registration in progress), Author of ‘Stand Tall & Speak from the Heart: How to Find Your Way’ and the Founder of
Arianna’s Random Thoughts. The focus of her work is centred around issues of expressive writing, self-worth, and perseverance. Arianna empowers individuals to reach their full potential through finding their voices and sharing their stories. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website.

Take Ten Thursday Writing Prompt

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Hello again!
I missed a Thursday while visiting Kingston, Ontario on my Three Spaces book tour, speaking at Queen’s University and visiting two bookstores. But while there, I took some neat shots, and was hoping you’d be inspired to write something looking at them today. I’ll post two.

All you have to do is take ten minutes to get yourself started today. Just ten. You can take more if you have it, but at least get a paragraph down if you don’t have much time, and then write more tomorrow. I’d love a link to your post when it’s ready and will share it.

If you are working on another writing project, I encourage you to stick to it and keep writing! Let me know how it’s going here?

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The Friends I’ve Never Met: ‘Delightful’ Weekend Read

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The Friends I’ve Never Met has reappeared on the Women’s Fiction> Action and Adventure Bestsellers list on Amazon.com!  Thanks for your fantastic support, readers!

If you haven’t decided if it’s worth a read yet, here are some of the reviews posted on Amazon.

RAVE REVIEWS

THE FRIENDS I’VE NEVER MET
4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews

Delightful!
By itsjustus – Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition  – What a delightful gem – I’m so glad I discovered this screenplay! The story is full of highly relatable characters, laugh-out-loud humor, touching emotional scenes, and even a fun plot twist I didn’t see coming.

The main character, Jessica, is a mom of three and a writer, just like I am; how could I not relate to that? An author’s life can indeed be lonely, so Jessica goes online to find support/companionship/advice/etc. Even though she hasn’t met her online friends in person, oftentimes they provide better moral support and camaraderie than the people she does see in person. When one of her online friends faces a personal tragedy, the group arranges a face-to-face meeting for the first time. The touching descriptions that follow are so heartfelt and superbly done. It’s also wonderful to witness Jessica coming out of her shell and truly expressing herself.

Overall, The Friends I’ve Never Met really resonated with me. It was an easy and entertaining read, and if you’ve never read a screenplay the way you would a novel, I highly recommend you start with this one – you’ll be glad you did!

5.0 out of 5 stars

When’s the movie coming out?

By S. Dean – Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I loved this screenplay – well written, funny and intelligent. I think I would be first in line to see it on a big screen!

5.0 out of 5 stars

Couldn’t put it down!

By J. Kondraciuk – Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I have to say I was hesitant about reading a screenplay, but once I started to read it I just couldn’t put it down! I really liked how they helped each other during difficult times each character was going through. How they were there for one another. This is a very good, well written screenplay!

You can find THE FRIENDS I’VE NEVER MET on KINDLE as well as on Kobo, iBooks, Nook Books and Smashwords

What’s Next? This!

The place-holder for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Can't wait to create and reveal the cover!

The place-holder for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Can’t wait to create and reveal the cover!

Take Ten Thursday: Social Networking in the Future

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It’s Take Ten Thursday! For those of you who haven’t been following this blog in the last few weeks, I have started a series of Thursday posts meant to encourage you to take time out every day to write.

You don’t need more than ten minutes to get your creativity flowing. I hope you’ll write for more than ten minutes, but I’m trying to prove the point that, when we say, “I don’t have the time to start a book, a poem, or a short story, I have to work and then there’s driving the kids to xx activities, xx times,” we are selling ourselves short. Whether we think we are lacking creativity or that we’re the next E.L. James, we need to give ourselves those ten minutes a day to find out. Skip a shower if you have to! (I’m kidding. Sort of. There are waterproof note pads on the market. You could stick one on your shower wall. See? There are options to get those ten minutes in every day!)

Today, I’d like you to use this photo prompt and the words within the photo quoto to inspire your writing. Your story can be on the theme of Social Networking: In the Future,or you can simply write about a graveyard, or about the future. Just get some words down on paper or on your computer, and don’t over-edit. See what flows naturally. You can edit tomorrow.

I like to read these posts, so keep them coming, keep linking back to me, and posting the links here in the comments section. You can take until next Thursday to publish your piece – as long as you let me know where to find it, I will read and share them all as often as I can!

Happy writing,

Heather

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The Weight Loss Struggle (You Can Help Me With SIG!)

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The main character in my upcoming novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good, struggles with her weight. This is a serious issue and I take it seriously in the book, but the book is also humorous, and I hope you’ll laugh over the situations the main character gets herself into as she struggles to exercise, lose pounds and feel better about herself.

I’m not sure many people know this except my family, but maintaining my weight has never been easy, and I struggled with it in my 20′s. At one point, in my late 20′s, I was 60 pounds overweight, so I know a little about what that feels like, emotionally.

For my novel, I researched what it might feel like to be even more overweight by reading a lot on the topic, surfing discussion forums, and speaking with different women. It was eye-opening for me.

One of the complaints my character  ‘Cat’ has is believing in weight loss programs and products or trends that are only in the business to make money, and don’t actually work. There’s a slimming spray out on the market right now that I thought sounded fantastic, until I read this fact:  “Energy is measured in calories. X Spray contains two calories per dose. That is not enough energy to stop the stomach from grumbling with hunger.”

For years, I was drinking Slim Fast for breakfast and lunch but it never filled me up. I ended up snacking more at the end of the day.

It took me years to stop being conned by all these ‘get thin fast’ techniques and to finally just discipline myself to eat healthier food, smaller portions, and cut out a lot of my sugar intake. I still struggle to eat right every day.

Please share some of your dieting ‘flops,’ if you will, what you learned, and if you’ve found success at keeping a healthy lifestyle, how did you do that? Let’s encourage each other!

The book doesn’t come out until June, and while it is written, it’s never completely finished until we hit ‘publish.’ I know it isn’t easy to discuss this issue, but I’d appreciate any comments you can make, if you feel you can. Your comments may provide me with even more insight to make this character’s struggle a realistic one.

Thanks!
HeatherVeggie Diet

“I hate you, fashion industry, with your tiny t-shirts that would only fit small, starving boys.”

~Cat Glamour  in Strangely, Incredibly Good

Take Ten Thursday: A Snowy Scene

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Take Ten Thursday: A Snowy Scene

Sorry I was late this week with #TTT ! You owe it to yourself to take some time -make it a Fifteen Minute Friday – to write today. Not one minute this Valentine’s Day? Then set aside some time this weekend. After you’ve written something, please let me know in the comments, and link back, so everyone can find your blog post!
Happy writing!

Take Ten Thursday: Writing Prompt

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Welcome to Take Ten Thursday at Where the Butterflies Go! Thanks for dropping in.

Your writing prompt today is this photo, taken at our local winter festival.

DSCN7219Snow taffy and later, in Spring, ‘sugaring off’ or going to the ‘sugar shack’ is part of the culture around here. If it’s not something you’re familiar with a) you really need to come visit Canada and enjoy all the celebrations surrounding the maple syrup industry! and b) just write about your Winter Traditions.

Ready? Got a pen, paper, or a computer keyboard? Got 10 minutes? Good. If not, TAKE ten. Find a quiet spot and jot down whatever comes to mind for at least 10 minutes. Please take more time if you have it! Hear that? Your inner artist is asking you for some play time!

Enjoy!
Heather

An Interview with Heather Grace Stewart

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Leap, from the author of Where the Butterflies Go, is available for purchase at Lulu.com and Amazon stores worldwide.
It’s also available on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and where all fine ebooks are sold. You can also order an autographed copy via Paypal. Contact the author at writer@hgrace.com. Half the proceeds from sales go to Hearts for Change – an Educational Project for orphaned children in Kenya.


Here’s an interview with the author from 2010:

Questions for a Poet, As Put to Seamus Heaney

Q: Some years ago, Seamus Heaney told an English journalist: “My notion was always that, if the poems were good, they would force their way through.” Is this now your experience?

HGS: Absolutely. Sometimes it comes through in a matter of minutes; other times, I write down a few lines, and the rest follows maybe a day or a few weeks later. But if it’s good, it all ends up on the page…and then typed into a document in my “Poetry in the works” file on my computer, and then, if I still like it after I’ve lived with it a couple weeks, I put it into a “Poetry to publish” file.

Q: Over the years, Heaney often quoted Keats’s observation, “If poetry comes not as naturally as leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.” Is that just a young poet’s perspective?

HGS: I think so. It doesn’t always come naturally to me. Sometimes I just need to sit down and force myself to write. Stop listening to the whining voice; shut it out, and just “do it.”

Q: Does this mean that a poem essentially begins for you when you find a form?

HGS: A poem essentially begins for me when I’ve found my voice for it; the form takes shape with the voice.

Q: Is there a poetry time of day and a prose time of day?

HGS: Used to be I used my early mornings for poetry and at sunset, and prose anytime, but now that I am a mother, it’s when I have a notepad, pen, and that spare minute when I’m not being asked to wipe a bum or put Barbie’s head back on.

Q: I remember Anne Yeats saying that her father mumbled to himself when he started to write. Would the Stewart household know that a poem was coming on?

HGS: In my household my hubby can usually tell a poem (for kids or adults) is being born if he comes home at 6:30 p.m. and DD is beside me doing a puzzle; a grilled cheese or rice is burning on the stove, and I’m soaking wet; just out of the shower in a towel with a focused look on my face, typing at the computer, “Just a minute, honey I have this idea…” And he’s so cool about that. He’s used to me by now. Now my daughter’s getting in on it, too. She looks at my face sometimes and says, “Mommy, what? Do you have an idea? Tell me, tell me, what is it? ” I try hard to be in the moment with her as often as I can, but the kid is smart, she’s onto me…so I usually end up spilling, because I don’t like to talk down to her, and sometimes, just by explaining it to her, she helps me better formulate the idea. Just wait, you guys are going to love our kids poem, ‘Cats Can’t Cook!’

Q: Do you ever feel burdened by the sheer amount of work you know it will require to do justice to a particular inspiration?

HGS: All the time. All the time. Right now, I’m trying to write a poem that’s going to do justice to this amazing group of people I’ve met online, and become close to over a year and a bit. Some might guffaw that you can make special friendships online. I beg to differ. I don’t know how I’m going to write something that truly speaks to this experience I’ve had. I think maybe they’ll help me somehow, because a lot of them are writers…actually, I’ve dedicated LEAP in part to them.

Q: How can you tell a poem is finished?

When it stops shouting at me. ;-)

Q: Do you keep a notebook of phrases and images for later use?

HGS: I have several notebooks, with penned poems/ ideas to type out later, and my images are saved on the computer by date.

Q: Does the poem come more quickly if there is a form? Would you be offended to be called a formalist?

HGS: I don’t think anyone would call me a formalist, but I definitely use techniques. Just not formally. Okay, seriously now, I’ve written haiku, tanka,
and Villanelles, using proper form. I just don’t like being weighed down by form. As Frank sang, I’ll do it my way ;)

Q: Do you have a preference for pararhymes and half rhymes over full rhymes?

HGS: I only use rhyme when it will only come to me that way, and even then, I hesitate to use it. I have to think about it first. I ask myself, is this form going to help the message or hinder it?

Q: Are you a poet for whom the sound the words make is crucial?

HGS: It’s all about sound for me. I love alliteration. Sometimes a poem starts out with words that sound great together; they just come to me and I have to write them down. For instance, I was walking to a Queen’s University class at 8 a.m. one rainy spring day in Kingston, and couldn’t get this line out of my head: ‘These are the days, quickly melting away,” (from the poem EQUINOX). The poem took off from there.

Q: Would you accept Eliot’s contention that the subject matter is simply a device to keep the reader distracted while the poem performs its real work subliminally?

HGS: To some extent. But I don’t do it on purpose. It must be subliminal. ;)

Q: What role does humor play in your poetry?

HGS: I don’t try to be funny. I don’t try to be anything. I just write the way I think, and I think people find my honesty refreshing and humorous.

Q: What are your thoughts about accessibility and obscurity in poetry?

HGS: Accessibility is probably my trademark: something I’m proud of and at the same time it’s my tragic flaw, if you will, because I’m so accessible, many journals wouldn’t be interested. I’ve managed to get several respected online journals interested, and printed ones in the UK, and even a Canadian textbook company sought me out. I’ve been published in international anthologies, including a very special one memorializing 911–Babylon Burning, edited by the great Canadian poet Todd Swift–and in a few print journals in Canada, but not the most “elite” ones–the ones that have been around almost 100 years. I’ve kind of given up trying because I don’t think it’s that important to me any more. I want to touch real people’s lives; not just the academics. I want to write something that might comfort a stay-at-home mom or a couple struggling with their love/ marriage or a depressed person looking for a glimmer of hope in a fast-paced world. I think the people I’m trying to reach are more likely to happen upon my poetry on the Net, not so much in the special collections rooms of their libraries. I know that people can understand my poetry without having to go look in some reference book (except for the odd references I make to items in the news, and even then I try not to be obscure) and that’s quite odd. But I can’t change the way I write. I guess I’m destined to be a Fridge Poet – the one that makes it to everyone’s fridge beside their kids’ finger paintings. And at the same time, to help a few children in third-world countries get the education they wouldn’t otherwise get. That’s just fine with me.

Q: And the avant-garde?

HGS: I’d love to be avant-garde. I’d love to be Avant anything. Ahead by a Century. That’s cool. I think some of my poems are there (for instance, my collection Leap features the concept of the Status Update as poetry), others, not so much, and I guess we’ll see which ones stand the test of time in 100 years. Well, no, unless I live to be 137, I guess I won’t see that. But whether they’re set in a classic or innovative style, as long as my words can touch a few people’s hearts along the way…for me, that’s really all that matters.

Thanks for reading! —Heather Grace Stewart

Take Ten Thursday Writing Prompt

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Take Ten Thursday Writing Prompt

Today I’d like to start something with you readers called Take Ten Thursday. Ten sit ups? Ten Coffees? You can do those things too, sure, but I’m encouraging you to spend JUST TEN MINUTES today on writing.

It can be poetry. It can be prose. It can be the start of a novel. It can be the middle of your novel. It can be as short as a haiku, as old-fashioned as a sonnet, or as modern as lyrics to a mash up song.

Just Take Ten. Take ten minutes for yourself in a quiet room, all alone, and just write – and do not edit what you write.

If you can continue past ten, great, but what I want to teach you is that if you think you aren’t creative, or you think you don’t have time, just ten minutes can get you started.

You’ll need to pick up what you did tomorrow and add to it, maybe edit it a little (although it’d be great if you leave it alone and keep adding to it throughout your weekend, and only edit it on Sunday). That’s why I wanted to start this on Thursday. I’d like to see what you came up with by SUNDAY every week. Or, if you’re too shy to share, simply post a comment here telling me that you did the exercise and how it went.

Today, I’m writing a few paragraphs in my novel about a ferris wheel. So, I thought I’d make the first writing photo prompt one of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where there’s a lovely ferris wheel on the beach.

Look at it carefully, and then use the photo to get you started writing. If you don’t feel inspired by it, try looking out your window. Don’t feel obliged to use my photo prompt. Do whatever it takes during your writing session to get something down on paper or on your computer.

I’m looking forward to hearing about how it goes in the comments below, and receiving LINKS here to your writing on your blogs!

Have fun with it!
Heather

Do Not Think…Just Write.

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Do not ‘Think’ you have a book inside of you.

Go from ‘Think’ to ‘Do!’ by scribbling or typing some of it down -at least 1,000 words of it- without editing it as you go.

Do it today. Do not tear up what you’ve done, or allow yourself to listen to the voices telling you the premise is silly and that everyone’s going to hate your book. Wake up early and do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day. Then, keep going.

There is a book inside everyone.

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Morning Rain Publishing To Publish My Novel

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I’m thrilled to announce that Canadian publisher Morning Rain Publishing has acquired my novel, ‘Strangely, Incredibly Good,’ for publication.

It has been a long, winding journey to my first novel, and I’m so excited that 14 months of imagining, writing & rewriting has resulted in a publishing deal with a fantastic publishing house.

I hope you wonderful regular readers will follow right along with me, right to the book launch (hopefully in early June 2014 in ebook, and a few months later in print).

Here is Morning Rain Publishing’s official announcement:

Announcing Our Newest Author

The place-holder for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Can't wait to create and reveal the cover!

The place-holder for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Can’t wait to create and reveal the cover!

Another Five Star Review for Three Spaces!

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THREE SPACES
5.0 out of 5 stars

A self-contained trilogy of insight in microcosm and macro-wisdom January 16, 2014
By Carl J Dubois

Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase

The concept of “Three Spaces” is more genius than appears at first glance. Public Space and Personal Space are prelude and context for Cyberspace, and they set up beautifully the expression of the mixed emotions inspired by the new connectivity we find ourselves navigating in this changing world.

“Dances With My Daughter,” in the Personal Space section, reveals — perhaps more than anywhere else — the poet, the woman, the mother, the wife, the person — the author and thinker coming to terms with all of life’s demands, and the juggling act required by them, but mostly the liver of life who knows where the real stuff resides, and why we juggle.

It is instructive, accessible reflection from someone who finds the time to observe in a briefly detached way before rushing back into all of life’s entanglements, commitments and momentum. So wonderful too how often it feels communal, as if she is expressing what we feel but struggle to say.

Open it to any page and enjoy the simple wisdom and honest revelations of self from a soul whose writing feels like her balancing act — beauty found in the spaces between all of our appointments, and like gifts rather than some obligation we have to read it so we can move on to the next thing on our list. You will want to keep it close by, to see what gifts it reveals next time.

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What I’m Up To When I’m Not Tweeting/on Facebook

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-In edits this month and next for my novel Strangely, Incredibly Good (more news on that from my new publisher next week!)

-Negotiating sale of poem ‘The Day You Looked Me In The Eyes’ (Three Spaces) to Oxford U. Press! It will be used for a teacher’s resource guide to teach their UK syllabus; anticipated sales are 500 over 3 years. I’ve worked with Oxford University Press a few times and am so impressed with them.

-Preparing to read from The Groovy Granny and teach Haiku and freestyle poetry to Gr. 3′s at a local school (early February 2014)

-Preparing to speak at Queen’s Media and Journalism Conference March 8-9 2014 – thrilled to be invited back!

-Laundry, laundry, laundry (does it clone itself when I’m not looking?)
-My title is a bit of a joke – I do love Tweeting and Facebook, but in my free time I also love Image
just being with my family, scrapbooking, and doing yoga (I’m writing those last two on purpose so I actually commit some time to them soon!)

Can’t wait to share more about my upcoming novel with all of you with a post from my new publisher – NEXT WEEK! :)

Have a great start to 2014, everyone. Make it count.
Heather

Another 5 Star Review for The Friends I’ve Never Met!

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I love waking up to surprises. Some of my favourites: Snow on the ground. My daughter leaving a crayoned card at my bedside table. Hubby and her made breakfast in bed. AND FIVE STAR REVIEWS LIKE THIS ONE!

Thanks to author Lisa Justus for such a well-written review that will hopefully make more people want to read this story.

You can read Lisa’s review here and follow her links to buy the book on Amazon. It’s also available on the Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Sony reader and at Smashwords in epub format.

2013-11-28 11.25.01_2This is me, keeping on going until I am stopped! What, you think a tree is going to stop me? :)

No One Will Retweet This.

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My brother in law passed away last week from a rare, fast-growing form of cancer. I mourned, and I wrote sad poetry, and I supported my husband who flew to BC to support his family, and I tried to hold myself together for our 8-year-old.

And then I just said screw it, and spent an entire day on Twitter.

Now, because I want my BIL to look down on me and go, ‘Yah, you really seized the day!’ in a proud and not sarcastic manner, let me elaborate. I spent the day on Twitter as an experiment.

I want to learn to use this amazing tool to reach out in a world that, more and more, is turning inward. I mean, the Oxford word of the year is Selfie. What does that say about us? We have more resources for connecting with others than ever before, but lately, it feels like we are more disconnected from one another than ever before. It’s easy to ignore a cell phone call, a text, a tweet, a FB post. Gone are the days when the phone rang loudly and we ran to grab it, then chatted for an hour with our best friend.

Life is fragile, as the death of two dear friends in January and now the death of my BIL have taught me. I want to meet people with like minds, and like perspectives on the world. I also want to meet my opposites. That’s the stuff that makes this fragile life interesting.

So, when I returned to tweeting more regularly after, quite honestly, having had my Facebook feed and blog just spurt out poetry and photography links for many years, I was pleased when I gained over 40 followers in a day.

The fact that one follower kept tweeting #MentionSomeoneBeautiful to me along with 1,000 other women he’d mentioned on his feed is besides the point. I also tried to disregard that one of my new followers calls himself a jackass, eats fire, and drinks milk through a tube that he’d stuck up his throat and out his nose. Hey. We all have our quirks!

I came away with quite a few observations from this experiment. If they can help even one new Tweeter or long-time frustrated Tweeter, I’ll not have wasted an entire day on Twitter, so I must share them.

Go for the Gentle Clap; Be Surprised By the Standing Ovation. Don’t expect a retweet, and above all don’t try to make it happen. Do not try to be funny or clever. Just be yourself and have fun on there. Besides, few of us give or receive Retweets anymore. That’s so 2008. People click one button, to Favorite. Faster. Easier. More like a gentle clap, rather than a standing ovation.

Find Your Own Voice. Some people do retweet, all the time. These are accounts that retweet lots of interesting, or maybe not so interesting, material, or anything a celebrity says, but they don’t have much to say themselves. I’d suggest that if you decide to Tweet, have something to teach people or to entertain your followers, or to enliven or enrich their lives every day. Or, at the very least have a dirty joke or two up your sleeve. Sex gets retweets, and often, mentions, which means you strike up conversations with other people, and there are lots of laughs. I can’t go there because I’m a respected professional writer, or I’m trying to be, anyway, but check out my character @BadAssGrandma  :)

Find Your Time to Tweet. The people who follow you all have schedules and routines they follow. Figure out what those are, so that your tweet gets the most exposure. If you tweet at 5:03 a.m., you may get some writers, or someone’s cat sleeping on the keyboard. Try to tweet at the same time every day, or, every few hours. Find the hour that works for you but make it during those hours when people are looking for something to do other than what they’re supposed to be doing (work hours, 9-5, is a good start).

Have Fun. Don’t take yourself or Twitter too seriously. In 10 years there will be some other social network type invention – probably involving Holograms and dancing penguins and blinking our Favorites with our eyes. We’ll all try to be Super Stars at that again, while our Twitter feeds lie dormant, but still displaying those horrid Tweets of Twitter Past.

Don’t Forget Your Ruby Slippers. Spend the bulk of your time trying to be the Super Star in your real life, giving to the people who love you and have your back. I’m not saying you can’t make genuine online friends on Twitter. I’m saying don’t forget about the people who love you back home. Twitter is Oz. Always bring your ruby slippers when you log on so you can get back home.

If you’re Tweeting to make money, please disregard these observations. I just tweet for fun, and for the applause, applause, applause. Excuse me, I have the urge to go take a Selfie.

Still have to work on my sarcasm…never been good at it. Another reason I’ll never be a Super Star on Twitter!

Heather ;-)

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Raising Kids In A Lowering World

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I’m a mother to an 8-year-old girl and I’m really concerned about what the world is telling her. (I have no son, but I know they’re also faced with mixed messages and poor role models on a daily basis.)

My little girl wakes up wanting to shine. She wants the world to see her beautiful spirit and for others to shine along with her. Crass advertising and TV have not yet spoiled her from just being her unique self. She takes her teddy bear to school for PJ day, and isn’t yet afraid of being laughed at for being different.

Sadly, I know that might change. It’s part of growing up, and I’ll try to deal with it. I’ll tell her it’s okay to be herself, and encourage her to try things, all kinds of things, that build self-confidence.

But the world for little girls has changed in my lifetime. Almost everywhere, every day, media targets her, overtly telling her that she must change who she is. She must present herself to the world differently than how she feels inside. The real, natural her isn’t right; isn’t good enough.

My girl likes cats and bugs, and teddy bears and fairies, and unicorns. Yes, she also likes pop music and videos, which I scrutinize before letting her listen to and watch. She likes texting her cousins on my phone and using the Apps I approve on my iPad. She likes doing ‘cool new things’ – and that’s where confusion enters her young mind.

I can only guard her so much. I must give her space to grow and discover things on her own. So, I let her play a fashion App that covertly tells her that girls are more popular (and richer in this game!) if they wear knee-high boots and leather corsets. At first I thought it was harmless, like playing paper dolls, right? I momentarily forgot that fantasy and cartoons still deliver a real message to a real kid.

I let her ‘buy in’ (we paid for that App!) to the ‘image is everything’ mindset. Then she was confused even further weeks later, when she saw a young celebrity on a magazine cover at the grocery store. This celebrity is a person my daughter thinks she’s supposed to admire, but in the photo, she was grinding her almost naked bum against a man’s crotch. ‘Why did she do that, Mommy?’

What do I say?  “Sex sells, honey, sex sells.”  No. But I tried hard to explain, using the words “attention” and “fame-seeking.” She was silent the whole drive home.

I don’t allow her to watch music videos (ok, maybe Alvin and the Chipmunks) but I see that same celebrity singing her latest hit, swinging naked on a wrecking ball while sensually licking a sledgehammer.

The song is beautiful. Why can’t the artist rely on her voice to sell it? Sadly, she doesn’t. And despite my no-videos rule, my daughter will likely see it since several of her friends have iPods. I know she’ll ask me, “Why did she do that, Mommy?” Again, what do I say?

She’s in a world that tells little girls to sing half-naked on stage, and to wear lacy bustiers and panties saying, “Call Me.” Wait a second… I was 12 when I saw Madonna sing, ‘Like A Virgin,’ but never once thought I had to wear fishnet stockings and a tin bra to get a man’s attention. (Ok, I did think it’d be a pretty cool Halloween costume).

But my concerns, and those I’ve heard from many mothers, are justified.

Instead of tweeting and commenting our rage about all this, parents should focus that time and energy on family life. We must keep an honest, open dialogue with our children, loving and respecting them for who they are; making them believe they’re already good enough as themselves.

We can’t stop the pop culture machine. Media will always try to teach girls to buy more stuff to be, ironically, less than they are, to grab attention. But if we constantly remind our individual girls that simply being who they are will make them stand out, they’ll grow up just fine.

Of course, they’ll still want an extravagant gown for their wedding day—you simply can’t un-program years of Say Yes To the Dress—but underneath it, they’ll be happy and confident in their own skin.

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Ask the Twitterverse

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Miley Cryus does some kinda twerk;
Twitterverse says that she’s a jerk. Image

PM Harper “twerks occasionally,” or so he thinks,
Twitterverse shares, with knowing winks.

Much ado about nothing
could be everything — who knew?

It depends what
the Twitterverse
thinks about you.

No E-Readers In The Tub!

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Three Spaces

It’s now in stock, so get back in the tub, with your paperback Three Spaces, Rub-a-dub-dub!

NEW! CANADA  – paperback and Kindle  (or contact me to sign & ship you a copy using Paypal)

USA http://amzn.com/0986945897
UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0986945897
Germany, Denmark: http://www.amazon.de/dp/0986945897
Italy: http://www.amazon.it/dp/0986945897
Japan: http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00BG2EJ9Y

Thanks for reading and for sharing these links with anyone you think may enjoy my poetry, and prose and photography.

Heather