Reimagining Our History - DD at Doors Open

Upcoming Event: Reimagining our History – DD at Doors Open

On Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29 I’ll be reading excerpts from Shade at the Diaspora Dialogues’ Doors Open TO event.

The event, titled “Reimagining our History,” invites attendees to reimagine our great country’s history through a more diverse and inclusive lens with readings by writers, poets, and playwrights from around the GTA. I’m honoured to be reading amidst a lineup of amazing writers such as Priscila Uppal and Pratap Reddy as we explore a moment or figure in Canadian history.

For more info or to RSVP, check out the event’s Facebook page (linked above) or Eventbrite page here.

I hope to see you there!

In February 2016, I officially became a member of The Writers' Union of Canada.

“Making It” in the Writing World – Becoming a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada

In February 2016, I officially became a member of The Writers' Union of Canada.

In February 2016, I officially became a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada.

Hey all, as of February 2016, I officially became a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada. My profile can be found online here.

Becoming a member of The Writers’ Union has been on my bucket list since I first attended a Writers’ Union conference five years ago. I received a complimentary pass to attend as a Humber College School for Writers student and, at that time, learned that becoming a TWUC member is application based and dependent on having a published book that is recognized as successfully demonstrating commercial intent and professionalism. There are many organizations for writers that allow you to sign up for a fee and require no previously published work, but TWUC is not that kind of organization.  In other words, at that time, I saw membership to the Writers’ Union as a sign that you had “made it” as a writer. To join the Union, you had to be recognized by your peers as a professional writer – exactly what I always wanted to be.

It’s still mind-boggling for me to think that now, five years later, I am a Writers’ Union member – a professional writer with a book on its way – and I will actually even be presenting at the next Writers’ Union conference this summer (more on that later)! By my past self’s definition, it feels like I’ve “made it.” From this vantage, I’m not too sure what “making it” in the writing world really is anymore. Perhaps it’s seeing my first book do really well. If that happens, then perhaps it will be publishing a second book, and then a third, and then a fourth… And on and on it goes. I love to set milestones and see if I can meet them. I recognize now that “making it” – in writing and in life – will always be elusive and changing in definition. Needless to say, I was pretty much jumping for joy (clichéd, but true!) when my membership package arrived. I was able to look back on myself and say I’ve achieved at least one of the definitions of “making it” – at least in my little world.

Looking forward to sharing more news with everyone soon!

Inanna Spring Book Launch No. 1

Coming Up: Shade’s Book Launch


Join us on May 5 for the launch of four great books (including Shade!)

Hey all, It’s almost time! In less than a month, Shade will officially launch.

If you’re free Thursday, May 5, come out for the official launch of Shade and three other amazing Inanna books. It will be a great evening of readings from all four of us authors as well as appetizers, drinks, some live music, and the chance for Q&A.

Where: Women’s Art Association of Canada, 23 Prince Arthur Ave, Toronto, ON

When: Thursday, May 5 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

You can also RSVP to the event on Facebook.

I hope to see you all there!

Connect with me on Facebook!

I’ve been off work for the last couple of weeks due to (a) our office’s holiday closure and (b) vacation time pre-maternity leave. As a result, I’ve been systematically working my way through my to-do list of things to organize our home and my life pre-baby.

One of my maternity leave resolutions was to stay away from social media – ironic as my official title at work is actually “Corporate Social Media Specialist.” But I wanted to stay away from the personal, zombie-like addiction to social media that I often found myself in – the wake-up-and-scroll-through-Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Twitter/Goodreads/Fitbit/BabyBump-first-thing-in-the-morning addiction. The don’t-forget-to-check-Facebook/Instagram/Pinterest/Twitter/Goodreads/Fitbit/BabyBump-before-bed kind of addiction. I think I’ve done as well as could be expected over two-weeks, but placing timelines around my personal usage has certainly freed up my time for more productive forms of social media in my life now that I’m not managing work accounts.

And so enters my official Facebook author page. I’ll be using this platform to communicate with people/organizations on Facebook from a professional author perspective, share relevant events, and generally cross-promote across all channels so we can stay in touch in the form you most prefer. I’d love to connect with you! Like the page at or via my Facebook page widget on this site.

Looking forward to connecting more with everyone soon!

Shade: Available for pre-order now! & how it feels to be “Facebook official” with my novel

As the title of this post indicates, this past week, it happened… Shade was officially announced as a forthcoming book on Inanna Publications’ website and social media channels and was added to for pre-order!

I shared the Amazon link on my personal Facebook page for those interested in pre-ordering (post below) and was absolutely floored by the response.

Since posting it on Sunday, the above post has been liked 110+ times, shared on various feeds and has received so many encouraging comments from friends, family and those in my extended network – all of this via a post on my own personal Facebook page. I’ve received emails from coworkers at my current workplace and at places that I have previously worked who heard the news and even received autograph requests from friends of friends of friends. It’s crazy and awesome and overwhelming all at once. Just a few thoughts crossing my mind:

  • This is actually happening! This whole publication process is brand new to me. I remember jumping for joy when I heard publishers were interested in my novel, jumping for joy when I held the final contract in my hands, jumping for joy when I received a publication date, and on and on. The whole process has been amazing and my level of joy and gratitude has not gone down in the least with time. Each step in this process has been so surreal in that I’ve spent five years writing this book in isolation and suddenly it’s a real thing in the world
  • Geeze Louise. My book will be out in the world. There’s something that is both terrifying and exhilarating in the thought that the public can read what was once my most private thoughts in a little less than half a year’s time. Who knows what this revelation process will entail. Hopefully the book doesn’t disappoint, offend or [insert any other sort of negative verb] anyone
  • I love my support network and my support network’s support network and even my support networks’ support network’s network. I posted about my book on Facebook for form – to do my due diligence to the novel in getting the word out. But the response has amazed me. The post about my novel has received more likes than the post I made when I got engaged. It has as many likes and more comments than when my status changed to “Married.” I’ve received messages from people I haven’t spoken to since I was in grade school who remembered how much I loved to write back in the day. Again, I am simply overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and amazed at how supportive people are
  • This is a big deal for me. It’s so easy to get caught up in the trenches of writing – to plod along and eventually feel like maybe you’re just writing and editing in a void. You write to write and it’s good because… well, you couldn’t stop writing even if you wanted to. But some small part of you also wants to write to be read. Now that this is “Facebook official,” the moment feels just that much more real – and this is a big deal to me. If you look back at my school work from the time I was in Junior Kindergarten, that “What I want to be when I grow up” field always ended in “writer”

Does this mean I’m a writer now? Of course, I remember seeing that graphic (I believe I picked it up on Pinterest, but it’s been floating around for awhile) that says

You are a writer already. Today. Now. So start writing

And it’s true. Quotes like the one above got me through days when all I felt about my writing was frustration. Self-doubt and questioning and the constant second-guessing always creeps in. But for now… I’m jumping with joy and looking forward to the great year to come.

With that being said, check it out. Shade is available for pre-order on Amazon, everyone! Reserve your copy today!

New Book Announcement: Shade


I am beyond thrilled to announce that my book, Shade, will be published Spring 2016 by Inanna Publications. It will be launched May 5, 2016, to be exact.

Shade follows the travels of a young woman named Benni, who is born and raised in northern Ontario. After her plans for the future are disrupted, she seeks escape from her every day routine by visiting her father in the Philippines – the fantastical land of ghosts and glamour that her parents described to her as a child. Over two weeks, Benni finds much more than she bargained for – the honest, human relationships that come from seeking and reconnecting with family.

Stay tuned on details about book launches, readings and upcoming events. Help me spread the news by sharing information about my new book with your networks, tweeting the news or sharing a link. If you’re on Goodreads, let’s connect! You can find my author profile here or book profile here.

Playing Axis & Allies at FMG Con

Game Review: Axis & Allies

Playing Axis & Allies at FMG Con

Playing Axis & Allies at FMG Con

Key Designer: Larry Harris
Distributor: Wizards of the Coast

Axis & Allies is a World War II strategy board game. It has a long version history since its development in 1981 and a still-avid and active following. Axis & Allies is one of those games I heard lots about, saw copies of in hobby/game stores (and sometimes even in commercial stores), and yet was nervous to pick up due to the seemingly sprawling nature of the game and intense time requirement it’s rumored to require.

Ultimately, the game mechanics of Axis & Allies are simple. The game can have two to five players split up into two sides – one playing the Axis powers and one playing the Allies. Depending on the version you play, the board game is set up with the appropriate number of miniatures (ships, planes, artillery, naval bases, air bases and infantry) per country at the time that the game starts (for example, the 1940 game will have a slightly-different configuration at its start than the 1941 or 1942 game due to how Axis and Allied powers were positioned at this time). Turns consist of three parts:

  1. Purchasing units
  2. Making war/attack moves and playing out battle
  3. Making non-attack moves and placing the purchased units on the board

As previously mentioned, Axis & Allies still has an avid fan base, and I didn’t have to look far to find a participation demo where we could learn the game and play it for the first time. Since I was a bit intimated, I didn’t want to purchase the game myself and learn/teach game mechanics as a beginner.

My cousin and I attended this year’s annual Field Marshall Gaming Convention (FMG Con) for one day in Oshawa, Ontario. We had no clue what to expect after our adventure to the Amber Diceless RPG convention earlier this year and were surprised to drive out to Oshawa and find ourselves in a military aircraft museum – a fitting environment to learn how to play Axis & Allies for the first time. The building hosting FMG Con itself was quite small, but the feeling of being among people who shared a similar passion for tabletop gaming/pen and paper gaming was more than enough to make the environment a great one.

My cousin and I initially signed up for a four-hour participation demo of Axis & Allies Miniatures but, while waiting for our game to start, were invited to join a couple of guys who were interested in playing Axis & Allies: Global 1940. They gamely took us on despite our complete lack of experience and patiently explained game mechanics to us. Again, mechanics are simple, but the scope of playing out World War II was enormous. My cousin and I found ourselves playing for a solid eight-hours – taking a total of four turns before having to call an experienced gamer to assess the game and call the winner since we had to leave.

I left feeling the satisfaction of having learned something new, met a few great people in a friendly environment, and finding yet another game that was worth investing in. Though the initial investment to start playing is the cost of the board game (you can find decent boards online for about $150), the major investment is in time and energy – the game is certainly large scale and strategic and is not something you can complete in a couple of hours.

I can picture picking up Axis & Allies for myself if I were to find a dedicated group to play with over a series of weeks. In the meantime, if you’re into some serious strategic gaming with historical relevance, I’d recommend Axis & Allies. And if you’re feeling for a friendly environment of table top gaming, I’d recommend visiting FMG Con next year.

After note: I found a YouTube video of my cousin and I in action at FMG Con! Starting to build some great memories with my cousin of our adventures through Hobby Games: The 100 Best

Readings Made Simple: A workshop with Andrew J Borokowski

Last month I attended the Readings Made Simple workshop hosted jointly by The Writers Union of Canada and Diaspora Dialogues and led by Andrew J Borokowski. The event was a fun one, held in four parts:

  1. Andrew asking us about our public reading experience and sharing insights from his own experience
  2. An opportunity for us to read our work in a circle and get feedback
  3. A brief break followed by general stage/mic set up information and stretching
  4. An opportunity for us to read our work on stage through a mic

The workshop was insightful – an afternoon well spent. Key takeaways from the event for me included the following pointers from Andrew:

  • The challenge [with readings] can be how to get the poet out of the way – to let the words sing themselves” (so true!)
  • A reading is intended to convey the gist or flavour of a story, chapter, or book, and hopefully encourage your audience to buy what you are reading. As a result, material needs to be
    • Introduced (think about how you will do this/think about your introduction in advance)
    • Bridged (if you are reading from separate sections of the work)
    • Relative (think of how separate components of the reading relate to one another)
  • Control your gestures. Let your voice speak. Deliver your reading with honesty and conviction and “lift it up” (look up at the audience to bring your work to life)
  • If you’re extra nervous, invite a friend to be part of the audience and tell them the story
  • Ultimately “it’s telling the story, not giving a reading

My absolute favourite part of the workshop: the gentle reminder that readings are often central to an author’s promotional strategy and, though many authors may dread the public speaking aspect of it, the reading is not about the author – it’s about the work.

Thanks to Andrew, TWUC and DD for hosting a great event!

Becoming a Competent Communicator

Early 2014, I joined The Regional Municipality of York as the Region’s first Corporate Social Media Specialist – a dedicated resource to support the Region’s social media and online communications efforts. Since the role was brand new, I was able to shape the position, and I quickly began a flurry of training sessions and presentations to raise awareness about and familiarity with social media in the organization. These activities included a considerable amount of public speaking – something that was new and slightly terrifying for me. I’m a definite introvert and get my energy from being alone. At the same time, however, I was grateful for the challenge to step outside of my box and work on skills that I was previously unable to practice.

A few months after joining the Region, I was invited to attend a meeting for TROY Toastmasters – York Region’s corporate Toastmasters club. I’d heard of Toastmasters previously, mainly through my father, who has worked in a number of positions that has required him to assume roles in spotlights. He mentioned the merit of Toastmasters to me in the past but, short of being invited and escorted to a meeting, I never thought of actually seeking out a club.

I never thought I’d enjoy the Toastmasters experience so much. As a corporate club, TROY Toastmasters is somewhat smaller than public clubs. As a result, there are more opportunities to speak and participate. I enjoyed the opportunity to willingly step outside of my comfort zone with a supportive group of people and practice the various skills needed for effective public speaking. Furthermore, the certification process of Toastmasters appealed to my very process-oriented self. I enjoyed the clear guidelines, supportive reading material and step-by-step guide on how to go from step A – delivering an initial Ice Breaker speech – to the final step of being deemed a “Competent Communicator” (CC). Each step in the process also included a peer evaluation to provide constructive criticism.

I began my Competent Communicator journey in the fall of 2014 and secured Competent Communicator status by July 2015. My first few speeches focused entirely on work – offering mini training sessions on social media and conversation “netiquette.” As I progressed, however, I began offering speeches on more personal topics, which I found much harder to do. Speeches that delved into the benefits of writing and why I personally write and speeches that shared information about me and my personal life. The process forced me to learn and grow at every step.

Once securing your CC, Toastmasters encourages you to explore more refined levels of communication and leadership by using advanced manuals. They send you two advanced manuals for free as part of a reward for obtaining your CC. I chose Public Relations and Storytelling. The first for work, the second for writing (a whole other kind of work). I’ve found over the years that I’ve learned a few key things about my personality: I love a challenge. I like the reward of certification or course completion – I’d be a lifetime student if I could afford it! And I’m happiest when work meets my passion – my Toastmasters experience of being able to hone my professional skills while exploring those related to writing being a prime example. I’m looking forward to continuing my Toastmasters experience. I’d love to hear from you: Have you ever considered a Toastmasters club? What key things inspire you?

Attending a Flash Assessment: What I learned from sitting down with two book publishers and an agent

On June 24, I attended a Flash Assessment Lunch n’ Learn hosted by Diaspora Dialogues, where attendees had an opportunity to submit a query letter and one-page sample of work, to be pitched to and reviewed by Noelle Allen of Wolsak and Wynn, Jack David of ECW Press and agent Carolyn Forde of Westwood Creative Artists. I had attended only one similar session in the past, hosted as part of an International Festival of Authors Master Class. This lunch n’ learn was far more intimate, with fewer submissions being reviewed and each author given approximately fifteen minutes to pitch the idea, receive feedback from the panel and ask questions.

I submitted a query letter and first page for my second novel – a police thriller tentatively titled White and Blue. I’ve had the idea for this novel for quite some time, though the entire novel is far from written. I’ve written the first fifty or so pages of it, but will likely scrap it to begin fresh again. After my experience with Shade, this writing and rewriting is less stressful. However, I was curious to see how the concept and first page would be received.

The feedback: challenging but heartening. As suspected, my first page was not up to snuff (hence why it, along with the following fifty pages, is being thrown away), but I received pretty positive feedback about the concept. With that being said, the experience definitely taught me a few key things – both from my own critique and from observing others:

    1. Write, write, and write some more. I know this. Every writer knows this. And yet, as I’m sure most writers can attest to, sometimes the writing is painful. A good concept is all well and good, but it doesn’t matter if the writing isn’t there. As Jack David said, the idea is intriguing, but the writing is what matters. Jack mentioned he thought the concept might be difficult to write in a compelling manner. Little does he know… I love challenges. And hearing him say that the idea was good but needed a solid writer behind it has given me that extra push to bring this all to fruition. In the end, the experience reinforced something that I’m sure we all know deep down: the writing speaks. Having a solid query with no substance is pretty much being like any other person who says “Hey, I have a great idea for a book that you should write.” In short – it’s not being a writer.
    2. Treat every interaction as an opportunity. I’m a pretty shy person, and I found myself stressing just a little pre-workshop – the part where we got our lunch and settled in. It’s not that I don’t enjoy talking to people, it’s just that I have this little internal monologue that always worries about being talking too much or talking too little, saying too much or saying not enough, and on, and on, and on. It makes for difficult conversation. What I learned from observing other participants around me … If you’re presented with the opportunity to be in a room with two publishers and an agent, seize that opportunity. Make small talk. Network. Be a social butterfly. If you don’t take every interaction as an opportunity to network (and I don’t mean shamelessly dump your book on someone, but more as an opportunity to connect with someone on a human level), you’re wasting it.
    3. Read the room. If every person is given fifteen minutes to speak, share relevant information and respect everyone’s time. Trying to talk about the next, next, next book you’re writing, fit in two pitches, or see if you can find – through those panelists – an opportunity to pitch to Hollywood or the gaming industry, is unfair to the panelists and the other participants waiting for their allotted workshop time.
    4. Be prepared. In preparation for this meeting, I fine-tuned my query letter, tried to take one more stab at page one of my novel, and sent it off, praying it was up to snuff. When I arrived at the event, I realized I wasn’t sure what to do. Were we going to sit and listen to feedback but not have an opportunity to ask questions or pitch (similar to the IFOA workshop I attended)? Were we going to have to do our elevator pitch? These are questions I should have asked before the event. I strongly admired one of the workshop attendees who not only came prepared with a spotless elevator pitch, but with samples of her previous work and a business card, too. That was the one workshop participant who received a, “Hey, can you send me more?” request, and it was very well deserved. Again, I learned that you need to seize the opportunity for what it’s worth and arrive prepared.
    5. Be human. Coming into the workshop, I wasn’t sure how much of me I should share. I left out any personal backstory from my query letter and avoided talking about myself during my book pitch, only for the panelists to ask – Who was I to write this book? Where did this idea come from? What previous work had I written? These were questions that came up for many other attendees as well, and one thing it made me realize was that, when speaking to people (publishers and agents included), it’s one thing to talk about The Work, but it’s far more engaging when you can connect on a human level. If I were to have a re-do of the event, I’d come with the realization that I should be selling myself (in a completely non-seedy way) as well as the work. The Work and I are part and parcel. Share the human side, too.

The above are just a few points I learned from my Flash Assessment experience. It was a great learning experience. Attendees had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with amazing panelists, and the discussion was engaging and educational, even when not directly related an individual’s work. On the whole, the session was just right in length, with enough time being allotted to each writer so writers didn’t feel either neglected or bored listening for too long to one critique. My favourite element of this session: Being able to pitch, receive critique, and ask questions in such an intimate setting.

Thank you, Noelle, Jack, and Carolyn, for the valuable feedback, and thank you once again, Diaspora Dialogues, for organizing a great event!