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Dear Fall

October 1, 2020- A few weeks back, we had posted a photo writing prompt on our blog asking readers to send in a 500-word short story, poem, or journal entry about what Autumn means to them. Here is the entry we’ve chosen, written by Kinga Ulazka McDonald:

Dear Fall,
 
The cooler weather means a lot of things for me. The colour means pumpkins and the excitement I feel while decorating those round vegetables with not just flowers, but with different colours. Those pumpkins mean plaid, flavoured coffees, and hats to cover messy hair from early dark skies. Saturdays in October mean multiply blanket covers, golden colours and scary spooks. 
 
Going out may be chilly, but staying in is scary. Horror classics run through my mind with ideas of death, fright and uncertainty. Fall is cold and during normal times, not optimistic. These are not normal times, but the times happening now is bottled Fall: cold, darkened, unknowing, and involves the intention of dying with a promise of regrowth. Fall is these times and what comes next is scarier and unpredictable. 
 
With Fall also comes the joy of Halloween; the fear, the feel and the darkness of all those that still creep, wander and that are still here. 
 
The colours are warm, yet do not bring smiles during sunset. 
 
Fall, for me, is particularly ideal. The struggle with body image becomes less pressured since layers are added. Covering up makes me feel at ease, and somehow lessens the unwanted stares from exposure in dresses. 
 
It sounds unnecessary, but it runs through many minds. Words on dusted pages help with the darkness that creeps up every night. 
 
The workhorse kicks itself into overtime, while seasonal depression comes unwelcomed into the night with uneasiness and sometimes distress. 
 
Fall, you are both inspiring because of the idea of new light, but you are scary at the same time because of the death you bring. This year seems especially grim and not hopeful. 
 
Fall, please be kind, please do not bring the second wave and please continue with the pumpkins, the floral opportunities and the fear of horror classics. 
 
Fall, welcome the great pumpkin, welcome the idea of new, but do not forget about your traditions, and why we do not need any new ones. 
Thank you, Kinga, for this beautiful glimpse of Autumn.
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The Value of Book Clubs

March 20, 2020-Book clubs can be a valuable source of ideas and recommendations from one reader to the next. Here’s what you can learn from becoming a member of a book club in your area. *Due to recent world events, the availability and creation of online/digital book clubs are an excellent idea!

  1. You widen your views, ideas, and perception of the world. Have you ever discussed a book with a colleague and you each took away a different message from it? Of course, you have! No one sees the world the way that you do, and that’s what’s most exciting! A good debate/discussion around a topic gets new ideas flowing and expands our thinking. It allows us, even for a brief moment,  to experience the world through another person’s eyes.
  2. It betters your own writing skills. We know that the more we read, the better writers we become. Reading different genres that are offered at book clubs, expand our horizons and help us leave our reading comfort zones. Perhaps we’ve only been reading historical fiction, and our book club picks a new psych thriller! This will only help you in the long run as an author because it will expose you to different voices, points of view, narrative, and dialogue, as well as plot structures and character development.
  3. You’ll gain new friends. There will be people who you instantly connect with in your reading club and people who you won’t. That’s ok! Bonding over books is magical, and book clubs help develop life-long friendships in places all over the world.
  4. You’ll finish the book. This is an important one! I knew a woman who said one of the reasons she joined a local book club was because she had a reading goal that year, and the club was the only way that she was going to reach it! A book club will “force” you to finish the book, which is a good thing.

We’re working on a lot of things around here and with the current outbreak, we are trying to find new ways to connect with our readers. Soon, we’ll have an online book club that you’ll be able to participate in each month. We’re just figuring out the dynamics of that and the best way to communicate with our book club members remotely. Stay tuned for more details!

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Let’s Talk About Excess…

January 2, 2018– By now, I’m sure you’re sick of Christmas. Ok, maybe not sick of Christmas, but sick of the hullabaloo. It’s been over for about a week and the entire lead up to the special day has been excessive; holiday parties, work parties, get-togethers with friends, kid’s plays, decorating, shopping, eating, drinking, cleaning, spending, rushing, and cooking, it all becomes too much.

It’s time for a break! That’s what I love about a new year; it allows us to regroup and reset our lives and decide what we want for the coming year. I hate the word resolution because I think there are such negative emotions associated with it. I resolve to get fit, I resolve to save money, I resolve to climb to the top of the CN Tower, whatever it is, it’s all been said before. As humans, we are conditioned to want more, do more, spend more, say more, eat more, consume more, work more, pay more, and buy more. I for one, am so sick of it! It’s time to take control in all areas of our lives and use what we have until it runs out. And not to be the bearer of bad news, but most of the time when we resolve to do something, we fail. Sure, we start out strong with lots of momentum and we’re taking our healthy lunches to work, we’re hitting the gym five days a week at six in the morning, and we’re finally cutting back on coffee and getting more sleep. But, then the inevitable happens; life gets in the way and we slowly sink back into our comfortable realities. Of course, I’m not saying that it can’t be done, people change their entire lives every day, I’m just saying that there’s a better way.

The better way is to cut the excess. That’s it. It’s that simple and that hard. As writers and creatives, we often do things excessively; we use too many words, we have too many excuses as to why we didn’t write today, we have too many notebooks filled with ideas that we never follow through with. We have an excess of coffee mugs, an excess of deadlines, an excess of commitments, and an excess of time spent in front of our computers when we should be spending time with our loved ones. I’m pointing the finger straight at myself on this one. So, this year, I don’t resolve to do anything, but what I am going to do is finish what I start, one thing and one day at a time. I am NOT going to do anything to the point of excess. NOT. A. DAMN. THING. 2019 is my year of minimalism; it’s the year where I finally take control of my schedule, my writing, and my professional life. The funny thing is, it’s all been in my control from the start. I hope that you’ll join me in cutting out the excess in all areas of your writing life. Who knows? You could have your best year yet!

So, for 2019, the only things that I wish for you in excess are happiness, joy, and love.
X LLB