What is Quinoa?

qui·noa  ~ pronounced ˈkeen-wa’
When I first heard of quinoa I had no idea what it was. I think I must have pronounced many different ways. As many as I get with my first name, I get everything but Marion-Ann from time to time. Just last week I had a woman say, Marion-and-ann – that version makes me shake my head every time.
Quinoa is an interesting grain to work with. I didn’t know it was part of the spinach family and it is gluten-free ~ a bonus for everyone looking to eat healthier. My first time making quinoa didn’t turn out so great, it was moist and had no flavor. After a few practices and spices and the right dressing, I finally was able to get the grain to a fluffy texture that both my husband and I enjoy. Sometimes I will add couscous with quinoa for different textures and flavors. That’s what cooking is all about, having fun!
I found a great salad recipe for this diverse grain, it’s full of flavor and is good to bring to any potluck. Thank you too, Two Health Kitchens for providing this easy recipe: Corn, Edamame and Quinoa Salad with Lemon-Dijon Vinaigrette
Enjoy!
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What is your genre?

When I am not writing memoirs, I write an assortment of genres because creativity provides me with an idea and go with it. Many of my author friends have one main genre and they are successful authors. One of my friends writes historical western romances. Another friend writes fantasy, romance, and adventure, and started to dabble in Bête Noire. There are so many genres and I love that each of us has been chosen to write different stories to share.

So what is my genre if I’m not memoir writing? I would have to say a little thriller, mystery, and romance. The one story I’m working on that came to me in flash is a thriller romance. More Thriller/mystery with a romantic element to keep the story interesting and just because the characters are keeping me on my toes.

When we first moved to Victoria, BC, we lived in a new condo building that was located right across from the hotel I work for. I know, it’s a little to close for comfort but the circumstances of how quickly I got the job and needed to move to the city from a three-hour away small town, was indeed how my husband and I end up places. Say yes first and then figure out everything afterward. So we find the one bedroom condo and my husband ended up moving to Canmore, Alberta, for a job for about six months. I was so grateful for the universe to have moved into the condo that I only needed to walk across the street to my place of employment.

There was a gym in the condo building and the same people would be in the gym at the same time. They became my gym friends, except for one guy, who, well let’s just say he was the typical metrosexual man. I’m not kidding you, he was obsessed with himself. He would jump off the treadmill when his phone rang and say ‘go for Dean!’ (Not his real name). I would see him come into the lounge located in the hotel where I work. He would have a different date each time and for some reason, he triggered an emotion in me that I just didn’t like him.

One night as I got in the elevator he walked into the building and sauntered to the elevator and just stood in front of the elevator. As the elevator doors shut he gave me this look, his eyes were peering into the elevator like he wanted to say something. I glared back at him and the image of a woman who killed her victims in their hotel room appeared and there in the elevator was born Catherine Harris, a serial killer who kills couples who are cheating on their spouses. More about Catherine later.

Now I’m working on the rewrites of my hotel memoir. It is my passion and my main focus at the moment. I will be honest that there are times when I am editing that I feel overwhelmed. I am aware that the ego is trying to run away and stay in its comfortable old ways sitting on the sofa and watching Saved By The Bell reruns. (Who didn’t like Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski?) I use to write episodes to be part of the Bayside Highschool crew. I embrace my imagination and all the ideas that are shared with me by creativity. Oh, how I love the creative process.

What genre do you write? What story are you writing now? How do your stories get inspired? I love hearing from you.

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Until Next Time, Keep on Typing. . . .

 

Deadlines and Everything In-Between

Ten days and counting. Ten days to submit my manuscript to my editor to keep on track with my goals. To self-publish my first book. I’ve said it out loud and now it is happening. Yet, here I am now working on my manuscript, while I’m typing this blog I’m also in-between making breakfast cookies for the week. I did work on my manuscript for most of the day but I took a break later in the afternoon and I thought I would get back to it sometime tonight, but my mind is not on the work at the moment. There are times where I could blink my eyes or twinkle my nose and the vision I have for my book is complete. Then I remember I’m not in TV land and Samantha Stephens is not here to work her magic. Darn!

I’m still with creativity. I’m reading Jacqui Nelson’s latest book, The Calling Birds, a historical romance filled love, promise, laughter and great advise by Grandpa Gus. Here is a little taste of Birdie and Jack’s world:

Many years have passed since Bernadette Bellamy fled the Cariboo Gold Rush and her reputation as the sister of a French-Canadian gang of thieves. Armed with only an honest talent for sewing and a willingness to lead a solitary life on the run, she stays one step ahead of everyone seeking her brothers’ last—and now lost—heist. Until a craving to settle down makes her reinvent herself as Birdie Bell, a dress shop owner. The arrival of an old foe combined with her desire to hold onto her treasure trove of fabrics has Birdie joining a wagonload of brides bound for a remote town.

After losing his leg and his wife, Jack Peregrine buries his pain under a mountain-high pile of work. He only agrees to sign up for a mail-order bride to save the town of Noelle, keep his freighting business, and care for his absentminded grandfather. But Jack’s request for a sturdy bride who won’t crumble under his burdens brings him a woman as tiny as she is troubled. Can two mismatched people band together to become the perfect match?

One of my favorite lines that captured me from the start:

Lives had ended. Memories had faded.

My curiosity was tickled and I have laughed out loud and turn the pages eagerly to find out what happens to Jack and Birdie. I hope you to do too, see more about the Calling Birds here.

The creative life is not always about sitting down to write. The creative life is engaging with creativity, with other writers and reading as much as you can. The more you read the more you dive deeper into your own craft. When you spend time with other creative minds and writers, the ideas flow and stories are written. How I love the creative process.

Now, back to the page. I have 2500 words to cut from my manuscript and at the moment my virtual red pen seems to be drying up. Any advice on how to slash some words from your manuscript?

Until next time, keep on typing. . .

The Blank Page

Whom do I tell when I tell a blank page? ~ Virgina Wolf

The blank page is waiting for what is already known. I look at the blank space and know it’s up to me to let it go, to put down the words that swirl within me, to share my fear of what I already know. The blank page is welcoming to me – I want to see what appears on the page, I’m eager to answer the questions that show up either through a character or simply an injury during my morning pages. What questions do I want to have answered now?

I’m a solitary writer – I enjoy being by myself, not so much an introvert, but I’m perfectly content to spend time with myself Yes, I love my friends and spending time with them is important, to connect with like-minded people is what nourish my creative spirit.

One year my husband and friends of ours were on vacation in Maui. It was my second time to the magical island and I was looking forward to spending time with the writing, along with enjoying the tropical island life. The first time my husband and I were in Maui I wrote a screenplay or a version of a romance screenplay. I had fun with it. This trip I was open to any idea that creativity provided. I’m open to creativity and the ideas it whispers to me.

We went on a snorkeling adventure to Molokini rock. There may have been sixty other people on this boat and I felt this great creative energy, I was ready for this experience. I watched people interact with one another and with one small glimpse of a woman fawning over the good-looking Captain who was giving us safety instructions of the boat a story sparked within me. Instantly I felt myself be removed from the other people, my husband, and friends. Yes, I was there in body, but my mind and spirit quickly pulled out my notebook and I started to write.

I wrote two thousand words that morning on the boat and I was grateful that no one interrupted me. They know me, I’m their writer friend, I tend to write at the drop of a pen (I know, I know, sorry for the pun). Once I finished this spurt of writing I was back on the boat gazing out at the ocean, engaging with my husband and friends. The story was started and lingering within. I knew once the characters started talking, sharing their stories I couldn’t walk away. I was hooked and wanted to write their story. The rest of the time in Maui I would sit on the beach and scribble away as my friends paddle-boarded or snorkel. I enjoyed my time by the ocean and soaked up the sun. I honored the creativity and took the time to get down the words when they came. For that I am grateful.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

Write a letter

W

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone? I don’t mean a business letter, but a long handed letter, where the pen glides along the paper, emotions pouring onto the page trying to tell a story. I have an idea of putting together a book filled with love letter and calling it ‘The art of a love letter’ or ‘The art of the love letter has died.’ I know it sounds depressing but it’s true, no one I know sits down and writes their partner a love letter just because, and if you do, I applaud you. I write little love notes to my partner and recently I went into his wallet (because he was driving and he needed the Visa for the ferry fare) and what did I find, one of the love notes I recently left for him. Let me tell you, I smiled with great pleasure. He smiled and I know what that means, he loves me and he loves my quirky little love notes.

love letter

I also write letters to myself from time to time, especially when I am writing my morning pages. I’m pouring onto the page to please keep writing and I do. I use to write a lot more letters when I was younger, before email, instant messaging, Facebook and every other social media form. But it’s important to keep writing letters, there is something about putting pen to paper. Or am I the only who still thinks letter writing is worth the time?

When I forget about letter writing I pick up the Observation Deck by Naomi Epel and reread the ‘Write a letter’ reminder.

If you are stuck in your work, write a letter describing your current dilemma. Outline what you are trying to accomplish and name the obstacles in your way. As you write about this thing you want to do, you may very well find it taking shape right there on the paper. Writing a letter helps relieve unnecessary pressure. You don’t have to create perfect prose, you are simply playing. And out of your attempt to understand and communicate, new ideas and the words to express them will emerge. ~Naomi Epel

vintage-gal-writing

I tend to express myself much better on the page than in person, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing down first what I wanted to say to someone. This little trait came in handy recently. I’ve been reconnected to a good a friend and I found myself feeling nervous about what to talk about when we decided to talk on the phone. I started to  write him a letter and once I was able to put down on the page what I was stuck on it became easier to express myself when we did talk.

Is there someone from your past that you would like to write today? A friend? A teacher? A former spouse? Express things you were never able to tell this person. Share some of the insights you’ve gained since your last communication. You need not mail this letter – simply voice your thoughts and feelings on paper. You may come to understand an unresolved issue that has blocked your progress or haunted once of your characters. ~ Naomi Epel

Until next time, keep on typing…

black and white

Fairy Godmothers and Goals

What are your goals this year? #amwriting #goalsetting #goals

My Name Is Marion Ann

2015 Leap

It’s 11 days into the New Year and I’m leaping into 2015 with process of goal setting. I’ve sat in on webinars on how to set specific writing goals, what do I want to work on this year; then I recently just watched a video from Natalie Macneil, She Takes On the World. It’s very simple and feeds my creative side. I love to write down my goals and I really enjoy creating vision boards; Natalie’s approach to goal setting has best of the both writing and creating a vision board. Here is what she has to say:

I downloaded the ‘Bigger Picture’ goal setting sheets and sat down and wrote out my five milestones for each goal, and then I made a list of what is needed to be done each day, each week to complete my goals. One of my goals is to blog more, I am…

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A Journey takes one step

journey

It’s been 48 days on my no chocolate challenge. I started this challenge to break the habit of eating chocolate everyday and on some days more than my fair share. I wanted to tame the addiction, the ego, the old behavior that “thought” it needed to have chocolate because it was part of some routine and if I didn’t follow the routine I’d some-way suffer. I learned a lot about myself this time around on my no chocolate challenge. In the past I would go at least a week or two without the delicious rich coco bean, but always fall back into it delicious temptation of creamy, dark, salted, caramel sweetness.

This challenge was more than just quitting chocolate, it was about learning to pay more attention to my thoughts and feelings, not just shove food into my mouth just because I thought I was hungry. Then during a moment of self doubt I was introduced to a food addiction writer, Geneen Roth and something clicked for me when reading two of her books. It made sense to me that even though I understand meditation, the higher power and enlightenment, I wasn’t really letting go of things that seemed to be holding on to me that I was not aware of, like boredom. Even though I wasn’t board my ego was and then I’d find myself eating another granola bar, or find some mints in my drawer to chomp on, get another tea, or chew some gum.  Chocolate was just my go to choice of food that I thought made me feel better, but when my jeans became tighter and working out was more of a chore than part of my daily life style I knew something had to change.

Geneene Roth talks about The Voice, it’s the voice that tells you it’s impossible. It says: You’ve always been like this, you’ll always be like this, what’s the point. No one ever really changes. Might as well eat. By the way, have you taken a look at your arms recently?…Who are you Queen of the Universe? How many times do you have to fall flat on your face before you learn to keep your mouth shut?… From Women Food and God

head

You can call the voice anything you relate to, the ego is the voice for me and I know when the voice speaks it’s just thoughts and I don’t’ have to hook into them, but I’m human and I sometimes take the bait. However, once I start going out there, riding the arrow of thought I quickly ask “Who is thinking this?” and I am brought back to myself, right here and now. I am perfect just I am to be at this very moment. I am at the right place in my journey and giving up chocolate is part of my journey, because it opened the doors to other things that I need to let go of.

I changed some of my routines slightly; and after three weeks without chocolate, less candy and one less glass of wine, I started to feel better. I accepted help from nutritionists and started to take supplements that my body was asking for, like liquid omega 3 and within a week I could feel and see a difference in my body and mind. better. I felt the haze that was hovering over my mind slowly lift.

beach

Now 50 days without chocolate I am transforming as I have intended, to live a clear and clean life. I’m not saying that not eating chocolate with bring you to enlightenment, but it was part of my journey and I’m grateful for this experience to learn from, to share and to be, just like my daily prayer to the universe, “I am grateful to be alive to accept today’s gifts to learn, to share, to be.”

Until next time my friends…keep on typing.