We’ll Meet Again

Vera Lynn’s death is very sad to me…because her songs meant a lot to my Granddad when he was growing up. He requested to have it played at his funeral.

Honestly, I couldn’t listen to We’ll Meet Again for two years afterwards. Every time I heard it, it put me back into this place of deep sadness, where my father, uncle and brother carried my Granddad’s casket out.

I didn’t allow myself to cry until the funeral…and to this day, I keep telling myself that my Granddad passing when he did was for the best. I didn’t like watching him suffer. He was in a lot of pain during his last few months. That made me cry more.

My only regret was not knowing what to say to him when I had the chance. I just kind of sat there, speechless. I kept thinking something was wrong with me…but he stopped looking like himself. He was so frail and when I went to hug him, I was scolded by everyone because I didn’t think about how much pain his body was in. I beat myself up for not saying anything…for a very long time. I still do every now and thing, although its been a long time since he left us. Well…I guess it hasn’t been that long. It’s really only been a few years. Still…I do miss him, and I think missing people you love is normal. It’s better to miss someone, than to pretend they never existed at all. I find myself talking about him like he’s still here at times, but I don’t bother correcting myself anymore, especially when I’m remembering happy memories, like when I pointed out the bald spot on his head. I always thought it looked like a donut.

I’m sad that Vera Lynn is gone, but her music brought hope to so many people.

My Grandparents always sang together, especially when they washed the dishes. They also used to sing me to sleep when they’d tuck me in. I liked when they sang together.

My sister and I sing together when we do the dishes…in the goofiest voices we can think of. When my niece was a baby, and I’d babysit for my brother, I’d sing her to sleep at her nap and bedtime. The same song my Nana and Granddad would always sing.

Songs really do…hold so much meaning behind them…not just for those who write them, but for the people who sing them and share them. A song that brought so much hope and joy to my Granddad, and many others, still brings tears to my eyes. However, I like it, because its a song he shared with me.

Hello! – June 16th

I haven’t updated my blog recently…mainly due to the heartbreaking events that have been happening over the past few weeks. It didn’t feel right to post novel updates or do character collages. I felt that it was better to amplify the voices that needed to be heard at the time.

These events also made me reflect on my work, and how I can use my platform (although it isn’t very big), to educate people on the importance of diversity in the media.

I have been complaining about the lack thereof, for a couple of years now and before the tragic death of George Floyd I had been writing and planning post regarding diversity in books. I noticed that within my older work, despite having mainly white leads, there have been themes of injustice, not feeling like one fits in, prejudice and racism. Topics that I unintentionally included, and was writing about as a teenager…that I never thought to reflect on until becoming an adult. I think that in the back of my mind, as a visible minority in my community, and being mixed race, these were things that were constantly happening to or around me, that instead of speaking about them openly, I ended up expressing them through my art. A lot of my older stories explore things that I sometimes struggled to understand…emotions that perhaps at the time I didn’t know how to work through.

Do I put myself into my stories? No…I don’t think so. However, I cannot deny the correlation between things happening in the world around me and themes that appear in my books.

Injustice and racism play a huge role in my debut novel…along with discussions of police brutality. I wrote this when I was in high school. I have cops in my family…however, I am a POC. I am fully aware of how people view black people. I have had family members racially profiled. When I started this novel, I was being bullied at school and called all kinds of derogatory names. I brushed it off, but it still hurt…and somehow those emotions manifested in a place of creativity. It actually made me realize how deeply racism affected me growing up.

At seventeen I unintentionally wrote a series where one of my main characters is a visible minority, who is profiled and mistreated because of he’s different. He is forced to change himself to fit into someone else’s standards in order to “protect” himself, and has to act a certain way so people don’t “fear” him.

This series has definitely grown up with me in many ways…but I can’t deny that this character and his experiences are a reflection of how I felt at the time, when I was made to feel…different because of my hair, and my skin. Things that I couldn’t change or control. I understood and related to his frustrations while writing because it was something myself and many other people of colour have and continue to go through.

Realizing this…makes it a bit painful to write. I’ve been working on another novel while my debut is off with my editor, but everything in this series seems so much heavier than I initially thought…I had no intention of writing a story like this…but it seems I’ve been telling stories of injustice and cruelty my entire life. Somehow…pain seeped into my space of creativity and transformed itself through fiction into something that I could handle. In a way…it’s almost a blessing that I’ve been able to use my creativity to express these types of emotions…despite being fully aware of it.

The world is definitely changing…and I think this change will be good. I don’t want my children to have to bury those feelings of frustration and pain so deep that…years later they realize it manifested in their art.

On a less…depressing note…I’ve been working on some really fun voice over projects lately, and I’m really enjoying myself. I’m also finally able to buy makeup, which I haven’t done in…wow…I have work, so I actually want to use some concealer and what not. I’ve liked taking a break from wearing makeup, however, I also miss playing with all the beautiful colours and seeing what types of looks I can create. Honestly, I think Valentines day was the last time I did my makeup. My skin was really clear at the time, so I only used a bit of concealer. Being single on Valentines Day was so fun. I’ve been single every Valentines Day…so far though? I don’t mind honestly. Most of the time I was either in school or working, and I just like the holiday because I have an excuse to wear lots of red (like Christmas).

I’m rambling now, but I really just wanted to end my blog post with something a little less gloomy. I’ve been on and off social media as well because I’m finding it’s been taking a bit of a toll on my mental health, and because my job requires me to be very energetic, I don’t like to feel sad before I get in the booth.

Please remember to take care of yourself, stay safe, wash you hands, and be kind to yourself and others.

Shop Small, Support Local: Showing Love & Support to Artists During the Pandemic

This post is a little different than the usual…since it isn’t 100% book related, however, I felt the need to write it, so I will.

I want to support my fellow artists, authors, musicians and creatives alike. Whether it’s the small donut shop in my neighbourhood, a favourite artist I’ve grown to love by connecting at a convention, or maybe its my musician friends or an author I love (indie or traditional).

It is something that I’ve always felt was important, and when I have the means to do it, I do. There are so many people that I would absolutely love to show some support to even when I can’t do so financially, because I want their dreams to come true!

I know it might sound a bit childish or silly…but it brings me joy to see others doing what they love to do, and if I can somehow help them out even if that’s through word of mouth then I’ll definitely do so!

Not every artist or musician I know has work available to purchase right now, which is understandable, given the circumstances and both them and the ones that do are on my mind constantly. Many of them make the majority of their sales doing art shows, conventions, concerts, book launches, readings etc. All of which are community events, that require well…people being physically present and making connections with one another.

The other day when I was organizing my books, I came across 5 that I had purchased, which were signed copies! 4 of which I got a conventions over the years, and 1 which I got at an author meet and greet (the author who then later turned out to be my editor!).

I have art prints that I purchased, again signed by the artists, who I spent time getting to know over the years at conventions as well. Some that who I hold dear to my heart, because of how incredibly sweet they were to my friends, sister and I!

It isn’t just an item anymore, it’s a memory…and a connection…and I believe that connection is what really drives the artistic communities.

I loved attending my friends show, and cheering her on as she played her gorgeous music for everyone! I get chills every time she performs! Her songs are so beautiful, and the stories behind them are what make them even better!

It’s different listening to the recordings on Soundcloud or Spotify. It’s not the same as hearing and seeing her in person.

Art and the people behind it make me so happy, I can’t explain….and I’m sure there are others like me who have this need to show them love and support. I know many of them are self-employed and are doing their best right now, given the circumstances.

It really makes me think back to what Kenneth Oppel (author of Silverwing and Airborn) was saying about the lack of Canadian author representation in bookstores across Canada over the years, and how it was having a negative effect on the Canadian book sale market.

It really demonstrates how important it is to share and support the works created by your local artists!

So I’ve decided to finish off this post, that I will share a couple of Canadian artists, authors and musicians that I enjoy personally, and if you know any others (Canadian or not…maybe even yourself!) please feel free to link them in the comments to show your support. That way others can find and share them as well!

Artists with super cute online shops:

Shiroi Room

Café de Yume

Crywolf Clothing

Chocolat Chaud

Authors:

Nanci Pattenden

MJ Moores

Kim McDougall

Douglas Owen

Susan Faw

Book Talk Episode 8: 2020 Writing Goals

I managed to plot out three novels. I want to have them all completed before quarantine is up (which may as well be December 2020 at this point). I think setting myself a specific time frame to complete them will motivate me more.

On top of this, I’m also trying to be more active and eat better.

Honestly, I felt a little weird making all of these goals for myself but it gives me something to look forward to that isn’t seeing friends and family or going to the movies or trying something new.

One of the books I plotted is another piece I started, and actually entered in a writing contest back in high school. I didn’t win but I took a chance on writing in a newer genre, and I was worried constantly about what others would think of me for writing something that was well…”creepy.” Now that I’m older, I’m ready to tackle it without fear of judgement from my peers or my family.

I love watching scary movies or horror series. My cousin is the only person I can watch them with because the rest of my family hates them. I don’t blame them for it though, I try not to watch things like that right before bed. However if it has ghosts or monsters, it doesn’t scare me all that much. Psychological thrillers on the other hand…I can’t watch those on my own.

The other two books are new. One being a sequel to my debut novel and the other a stand-alone story, which I wrote a few chapters for back in March.

I’m excited to work on all of these, especially ones where I’m revisiting favourite characters of mine. I love watching them grow and develop as the story progresses.