Vacation Adventures

Time for a vacation. I’m taking time away from the hotel life to spend with my family in Nova Scotia. I will be working but I don’t consider it “work”. Writing for me is not work, it is my passion. I will be preparing for NaNoWriMo and then on November 1st, I will begin the writing adventure of writing a novel of 50,000 words in one month. I should also clarify that the hotel life is not per se, work, it’s part of my life. I enjoy what I do at the hotel and there are days that it doesn’t feel like a job. I feel like I do when I’m writing. I’m going with the flow.

For now, I am packing my suitcase and trying to figure out which books will be in my carry on along with my laptop and earbuds. I tend to over pack my carry-on when I know at some point I will take a deep breath and let out a sigh of relief and relaxation and fall asleep to the white noise of whatever movie I choose on the airplane. I love to travel and I go with the flow.

I will be travel solo this trip. My husband visited his family in New Brunswick at the end of August, and we usually take a trip to the east coast together every three or four years. It’s nice to connect with family as a couple, but we both know we have our own little family quirks and even after 15 years together we still don’t get our families inside jokes and isms and I don’t expect my husband to understand when at times I may not quite understand my family. I love them and that’s all that matters. We go with the flow.

This trip I will be spending time with my dearest friend of over thirty years. We met when we were six. We may have moved away from one another, but it’s like not one moment of time has passed when we get together. We are like Anne of Green Gables and Diana, we just get one another. I am looking forward to connecting with family and friends. I crave spending time with family and friends. I need them. They need me. We are not only connected by blood, but by spirit and energy. We are in each other lives for a reason. We all go with the flow.


I’m in the flow at the moment and it feels good. Every step I’m taking feels natural. It feels like I’m in the zone, very much like when I am writing. When I am here on the page, sharing, letting go and going with the flow.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…


NaNoWriMo Adventures

NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. NaNo what? It is a writing challenge for the month of November where you write a 50K novel in one month. There is a whole community of writers who commit to this creative adventure. We connect by writing forms within the NaNoWriMo website and Facebook groups. This is a great way to connect with other writers. We help each other by words of encouragement, sharing about our progress, there are laughs, tears, and great energy.

What Kind of NaNo Writer are you?

In the past, I have been a full-on rebel NaNo writer. I didn’t really plan. I had an idea and went with the flow. I knew other writers were planning with outlines for their stories. I was sitting down and putting words on the page and thought I would edit at a later time because the goal was to write 50,000 words in a month. Then last year I used NaNo to shape my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers. I made an effort to plan what I was going to work on and by the end of November I had my draft completed and was actively looking for an editor by January and I self-published on September 15, 2018. What a journey!

What’s Next?

This year I’m going to be a bit more active in the NaNo adventures. I am part of a local NaNo group where we will meet up every Monday in November. We will write and share our progress. We had our kick-off event this week and I’m excited to cheer everyone on.                                                                                                                This year, I am planning to write the second memoir of my trilogy hotel memoirs. I have loosely outlined with the stories to share and that has made a big difference for me. I look at the list now and I’m still happy with what I want to focus on. I know if I am prepared that it will be a lot easier to execute throughout the month of November. I am very grateful for finding NaNoWriMo and the community that I am involved with.

Have you participated in any writing challenges/contests? What has been your experience? Any recommendations?

Have you ever wondered what it was like to work for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies? Find out in my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors,~ The Summers, how I survived three summers of working atop a mountain.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Words of Wisdom #Monday Blogs

Mary shares her thoughts on trying and learning. Thank you, Jo-Ann, for sharing.

Jo-Ann Carson

Have I told you how much I love podcasting lately? Well, I’ll say it again. I love being a podcast host.

I love interviewing people and talking with them about writing, their passions …  their lives. People always surprise me. I’m humbled that they let me into their lives.

Mary's photo 300dpiThis week I interviewed Mary Buckham. The episode won’t go live until December, but I couldn’t wait to talk about it, at least a little part of it. One of her statements that blew me away was about making mistakes.

I always say if you fall down, you get back up again. You know the Chinese proverb that if you get up one more time than you fail, you succeed.  Don’t we all say: If  you try something and you fail, you try again. At least that’s what I always said.

Mary stopped me, “No, no, no,” she said. “You don’t…

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For the Love of Hospitality ~ Or Not

Working for a luxury hotel in the Canadian Rockies was a blessing. I learned a lot about hospitality. At the time I didn’t know it, but I was learning how to become a better leader. I didn’t know I would be where I am today, I never thought I would be a manager of a front desk or even working within the HR field. I am very grateful for all the opportunities that were provided along the way. Yet, there were certain tasks I didn’t like and during my time at the Lake, I dreaded the end of night duties. At one time servers we able to pick their end of night duty so the easiest ones went right away, like making roll-ups. Then there was the buffet line.

The race to the end of night duties was on from the start of the evening. Or I felt it was. Once my first table was seated I watched the clock.  I paced my tables accordingly. I wanted to finish my evening by a 9 or 9:30 pm so that I could avoid setting up one of the two buffet lines. Moving tables and portable hot buffet tables was something I actually loathed, only because they were located in awkward storage areas not close to the dining room. For a 500 plus hotel, you would think there would be enough storage. Sadly, not. Every inch of the hotel was mostly for guests. Employees had to dance around the guest areas to make the hotel run seamlessly. This was a well-practiced art form, but not the most favorable.

Think of pushing and pulling a family of 12 size table made out of stainless steel with sharp edges and wobbly legs with small tricycle wheels. No fun at all. Why I didn’t like this duty. I did it over three nights a week out of a five or six work week. One of the nights would be for a boyfriend who charmed his way into my heart and I would do anything for him. Even if it meant setting up the bloody buffet line on top of my own duty. Some nights I ended up setting up both buffet lines.  I know, I know. I did it to myself.


I am so grateful for my experiences but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like certain areas of my job. Even today there are areas of my positions I don’t care for. Don’t get me wrong I love my job. I really do and I’m not just saying that. As an HR associate, I loved coaching people, helping them further their goals and passions. As a guest services manager, I love connecting with guests, helping them have a great experience. Then there are hard days when I have had conversations with employees that don’t go over all that well. Or a guest yell at me because I’m the manager and they have to tell me how awful their stay was. These days help me grow as a person and a professional. I learn a little more about human behavior and how I react to people’s reactions. I guess I learned more about myself when cursing those buffet lines over twenty years ago.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…






Have you ever wondered what happens behind the kitchen doors of a restaurant? My debut memoir shares my experiences of working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. If you don’t want to know that your server dropped acid in the soup, then this book may not be for you…







Ebook and Print book available on AMAZON. US | CA | AU

Happy Thanksgiving

We are celebrating Thanksgiving this long weekend. Thanksgiving Day in Canada usually occurring on the second Monday in October, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Thanksgiving has been officially celebrated as an annual holiday in Canada since November 6, 1879. This year it feels a bit early but we go with the flow and celebrate!

I have worked many Thanksgiving weekends and I’ve seen and been to a lot of amazing celebrations over the years. Including my own.

Me on my grandparent’s farm

As a young girl, I loved going to my Grandparent’s Berry’s farmhouse. Especially in the fall. My senses would be sparked immediately when we walked into the kitchen and my grandmother would be puttering away baking pies while basting the turkey and mashing potatoes. In my seven-year-old eyes, I saw a  wonder-woman. Someone who could dance around the kitchen creating such magic that brought us all together at the grand dining table to enjoy the harvest of their farm. What a blessing.

When I was working in the luxury hotel in the Canadian Rockies my first Thanksgiving away from home was tough. I longed for my family. I missed the smell of the turkey lingering in the house. I wished to be sitting around in the living room watching my parents create their own magic in the kitchen.                               As I served families at the hotel I witnessed similar reactions to the food that I placed on the table. Wide-eyed and grateful for the food they were being served. A little part of me was sad for the families that choose to have someone prepare their meal instead of creating a tradition in their own homes. Then I guess I wouldn’t have a job if people didn’t take advantage of the “Thanksgiving Package” at the resort. My hotel life at the time seemed to a double edge sword.

Over the years I have been able to spend Thanksgiving with my immediate family and each time my sever year old memories are tickled. I am grateful for what I have in my life. My heart is filled with gratitude for my family and friends. This year my husband and I are spending a quiet Thanksgiving together. We are celebrating our accomplishments and goals of 2018 ~ I am so grateful for being given the talent to write and to share stories. I have written my first memoir and have self-published with the help from a dear friend. I am very blessed.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…






Have you ever wondered what it may be like to work for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies? My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS, shares what it is like to work and live atop a mountain.

Ebook and Print book available on AMAZON. US | CA | AU

Thank you, Wikipedia for some information needed for this blog.

For The Love of Hospitality ~ Train the Trainer

My career in hospitality was not planned however being of service is in my blood. I get overjoyed when I helped people. I tend to tear up when I get excited about assisting guests to have a great experience at the hotels I’ve worked for. My first job was working for McDonald’s and there was a rigid training program that groomed me into one of the Golden Arches employees. It was one of the best training programs I’ve been through. I expected a similar program with a luxury hotel chain and there is a great training program, I just skipped the “official” first day.

When I started my bussing job over 20 years ago I was asked to help out before my first day of working at the hotel. This became the theme of my hospitality life. I portrayed I could do anything, and I could and I can. I was good with people, I took direction well because I was scared shitless to let anyone down that helped me get the job. There was also the sense of pride and loyalty of having a job in a luxury hotel was motivation. I was chosen to be part of a team who served the rich and famous, that was pretty freaking cool. Little did I know I’d be sitting here with two decades of hotel experience, a handful of heartaches and a can-do attitude that make for a great story.

When I first started in the food & beverage world, I was trained how to be a busser, then a server, then a host. I liked the progression of my career. I actually wanted to gobble up as much information I could. I wanted to grow into a supervisory role when and if an opportunity became available. I was ready to take on the world at the age of 22! Life had another plan for me before I moved forward. Lessons to learn, to accept, to learn, to accept, and repeat. If you haven’t learned the lesson presented the first time around it will keep showing up until you get it. The universe has a way to groom us in our own life lessons. Like how to train someone.

I had to take a standardized training course through the hotel chain that many organizations use to train trainers. its called Train the Trainer. When I’m talking with other hospitality colleagues I hear a similar conversation and have heard someone say, ‘when I was in train the trainer…’ so I know the course has accomplished its standards and many service colleagues share the same techniques when training new employees. What is Train the Trainer? It comes down to three simple steps.

  1. I train you on how to do a particular task.
  2. You repeat what I have shown you.
  3. You train me now on the same task.

That’s what I remember and it has been successful in my training practices over the years. The task I chose to train someone in my class was how to fold a napkin in the bird of paradise fold. It was a great learning experience and I was able to execute my training skills when training new bussers on how to fold the different napkin patterns. I now use the same techniques when training new front desk agents. There is a lot of information to learn on the front desk and it’s comforting to know that my soft skills as a manager help new colleagues feel comfortable and confident with the task at hand.

Have you taken Train the Trainer or use similar training tools where you work? How do you train for success? I hope to hear from you. Sharing helps us grow.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

I have been blessed with being in the hotel world. I’ve gained life experiences and skills that have helped me in many situations. I am as passionate about hospitality as I am with writing. I want to share a great experience and what better way is by writing about the hotel life.

My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS ~ The Summers, is about my experiences working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. It was a great way to spend the summers and even better life experiences. I’ll never forget when our staff housing was evacuated because of a black bear.

Ebook and Print book available on AMAZON. US | CA | AU

Thank you for stopping by!




Struggling to Find Time to Work on Your Project?


Life is a balancing act. Especially when you are an author. I have written a lot about my life-work balance in the past. I never felt it until I self-published my first book Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, a week ago.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a post from one of my favorite writing communities, FireFly Creative Writing, located in Toronto, Ontario. It’s a community and business that is built on words and people who are passionate about writing. Everything writing. It’s a business model that I hope one day to create. Even a fraction of what Chris Fraser, founder of FCW has created for the writing community.

The heading of the post for the Firefly community that caught my eye: Attention non-fiction writers who are balancing work and art, we have a beautiful opportunity for you. 

I am a writer who is balancing work and art and yes I would love to know about this opportunity. I read the article and the Firefly Creative Resident Writer, Simone Makeba Dalton, was offering a mentorship, to read up to 20K of your non-fiction work, conversations, feedback and encouragement to the lucky recipients who were chosen for this program. I went as far as opening the application form, started to fill out the application. Then four weeks ago I was in full swing of my first journey of self-publishing my book. A whole another adventure that requires a lot of balancing of work, art and life.

As my indie-publishing journey began I thought about the Firefly application and thought more about how I deal with my full-time position at the hotel, maintain my loving committed relationship with my husband and writing any chance I can. I have to share how grateful I am for my life. My husband completely gets me when I’m in the writing zone. He gives me the time and space that I need to write. My hotel life provides me with time off (vacation time and days owed) when I really need to take an extra day off to write.  And the writing takes care of itself when I’m settled on the page. I also meditate a lot to make space for what is needed to do what I love. I don’t allow my job to consume as I have in the past. I am a manager and I have big responsibilities, however, I know when I need to shut the door on my hotel life and open the doors and windows to my writing life. I have to write. If I don’t write then I am not doing what I am meant to be doing. That is not fair to me or the writing.

My work life balance is a work in progress. There is no secret recipe for how to fit everything I want or many need to do. There are tools to help me through the day. I just have to remember them. That is where my to-do lists help me, even if it for three things, but those three things are big and needed to get done.                          For example, last week, the day after I published my memoir, I had to set up my author pages for Amazon, GoodReads, and BookBub. Sounds like it shouldn’t take that much time. As a first time author you can’t set up your pages until your book is published, I get that, but having to wait to be approved felt like forever. It takes time to come up with the right descriptions, my bio, what picture to choose (this was when I decided to get head-shots done when all I have are selfie’s to use for my author picture – ouch!) Then a friend shared I had #1 New Release in Travel (I’ll take it, thank you) by Amazon and I should share that on social media, then I should follow up on… and then….                                                                                       My to-do list started to grow within a blink of an eye and I felt overwhelmed. I mean I wanted to shut my laptop, walk away and hide under the covers for a few hours. There is no way I can hide now and nor do I want to. I am living my dream of being a published author.

Then on Tuesday (my “Monday”) I got up and went to work. I had to shift the focus of my writing life to go to the job that provides me with what is needed to excel in my writing life.  There is no doubt that one hand helps the other. I am so very grateful.

Yes, I want to be writing more and I have scheduled the time to write. I will say no to social engagements to sit here in my writing room and get words on the page. No one else is going to write the next book for me. I have a lot more on my plate as an indie-published author and you know what? I am having fun learning and being part of a community filled with creative people, just like me. I have found my tribe.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…






My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS, ~ THE SUMMERS, is available now both ebook and paperback. For more information on how I stumbled upon the hospitality life, please sign up for my NEWSLETTER ~ I’ll send you a little gift of gratitude for stopping by ~ Thank you.

Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ Launch Day!

I launched my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, this weekend. What an adventure!

BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS ~ The Summers                                                 A Hotel Memoir Series

If you liked, Kitchen Confidential and the Grand Budapest Hotel, you will enjoy this eye-opening life experience of one employee’s journey of working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

When Marion Ann step on the plane for Alberta to work for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, she never thought her life would change. Sure, her first job was in the food service industry at McDonald’s, but the Golden Arches had nothing on the Chateau Lake Louise. A mountain resort where employees came to either experience a good time away from home, or to hide from secrets. Marion Ann was living both lives. She needed some time to heal from a broken love triangle and the secret of her not being the shy little girl she was labeled by her family.
When she was faced with a platter of cocaine during her first few weeks of working at the resort that essentially started her hospitality career, she knew life wasn’t going to be the same.
Intimate and truthful, Behind The Kitchen Doors is a coming of age for one employee who found out that working atop of a beautiful mountain came with a price.

I have learned so much during this self-publishing journey and I am so grateful for the support of my friends and family.

Writing this book took me far too long (that’s the ego talking). However, I know it took the time it needed to. I was finding my voice and how I wanted to share this part of my life. Now I’m ready to start the next book in the series, The Winters. A whole new set of experiences and struggles of working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

I have a promotional sale for $0.99 (USD) until the end of the day on Monday, September 17, 2018. If you download today and send me a note you have purchased the book I will send you a little gift of appreciation. I am grateful for your support and encouragement. | Amazon. ca

Thank you.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…










for a great promotional price of $0.99 (USD) ending at 6:00 pm on Monday, September 17, 2018.

Cupcakes & Cover Art

Getting ready to self-publish your first book can be overwhelming. For me, it is very exciting and scary wrapped up in a sparkly package of emotions. I am on my indie-publishing path and I am so grateful for my friend and award-winning author, Jacqui Nelson for helping me get prepared for my book launch on Saturday, September 15, 2018 – that’s like right around the corner. (A lot of deep breathing is going on)


I have a few things to cross of my check-list but the big one, like getting my cover completed, was done a month ago and then I went back and changed it again. The cover is so important. It is going to tell its own story, it’s going to help sell my book. The saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ I know we all do it – we can’t help ourselves. Working with a cover designer is interesting. You think as a writer I could articulate exactly what I wanted for my cover. I learned I had to be as blunt as possible. No need for, I would like… I think this would work… Could you do… No, what needs to be said: Please do a,b,c. Put the title here in this color, this font… there is no time for fluffy words when it comes to your business. I learned I had to be as clear in my writing career as I am in the hospitality world.


I just returned from a workshop hosted by award-winning author, Shannon Meyer. She shared her journey of not only her writing career but of her cover art adventures. Her analogy of cupcakes to cover art was inspirational. The cupcake in front of us should be intriguing and inviting. And the description of the cupcake just as provocative. Much like a cupcake, our book covers should be as intriguing for people to pick up and read the blurb that should entice us to read the book. If the cupcake looks great and the description of the desert is bland, there is something wrong. We put the cupcake back down and walk away. (Even if we really like cupcakes.)

I wish I wrote down the description of Shannon’s cupcake that I chose. It was striking. What I remember went something like, this delicious summer cupcake has a hint of watermelon icing… As you can see the cupcake had sparkly candy and mermaid tails toothpicks – why wouldn’t you want this treat? Great way to wake us up about our cover art.

Where did my cover design come from? It started off with a few vintage posters I loved when working in Lake Louise. They are fun and intriguing. Who wouldn’t want to be standing at the window looking out at the beautiful Lake Louise?









My memoir is about working at the luxury hotel, The Chateau Lake Louise in the mid-1990’s. I worked in the F&B (food and beverage) world for over ten years in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. I was provided with great experiences and stories.

How my cover turned out

If you liked, Kitchen Confidential and the Grand Budapest Hotel, you will enjoy this eye-opening life experience of one employee’s journey of working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

To find out more about my book, please sign up for my Newsletter ~ Thank you for being here with me during this great adventure of writing.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

A Few Things I am Learning

The life of a writer is an interesting one. It is a lot of work to write a book, but it’s the kind of work that we love. Spinning words together to create a great story. That is fun work and solitude work. Some non-writers question the amount of time writers spend alone. We need this time to be with the words that may or may not be read. We write because we have a story we would like to share.

Now that I have finished my book, I’m now on the self-publishing journey. I honestly have no-idea what I am doing except for following steps from good friends who are self-publishing. Then just when they share they may have cracked the Algorithm code on how to successful make it to top ten list on Amazon, the rules change within a blink of an eye. I’m looking forward to being part of this adventurous journey.

A few things I’ve been doing as I venture into the self-publishing world:
  • The last few weeks I have been working with my editor. It has been a good experience. I had to sit my butt down and really work. The book is not going to write it self and for that matter of fact, it is not going to edit itself either.
  • I have been stingy with my time lately. Any free time I have after I am done working eight or sometimes longer at the hotel life, I am in my writing room. I knew my editor had questions for me and I’m paying her to help me shape my book. She has a time-line and so do I. Why would I not be stingy with my time? If you want something to work, you have to work for it.
  • Self-care. I’ve spent hours in my writing room and sitting for most of the time. The body needs to stretch and move. I have to make sure I’m getting up from the chair every hour, or at least shift my body in my chair (which is one of the oldest office chairs that has a cracked seat and squeaks when I roll around – and I love it!) I go for walks and I spend about an hour in the gym six days a week. I sit on the sofa and talk with my husband while drinking beer. These things may seem small, but they help me relax and help me with not getting to antsy in my writing chair.
Things I am learning:
  • Last week I made a change to my book cover and I wanted to make sure I was very focused and clear on the changes. It cost money to have a book cover created. I paid for the final design, then I shared the cover with a group of people and the feedback I got was heartbreaking. Okay it wasn’t that bad, the comments were truthful and made sense to me. I asked my book designer if she could make the changes and what the cost would be. She didn’t charge me full price which I am very grateful for. I learned I need to lean on my writing support groups before I submit the payment. Check out my cover here ~ Thank you.

  • Self-care, part 2, sleep: I am passionate about my writing life and when you do something you love, you’ll never “work” another day in your life. I love the little things that need to be done when you’re getting ready to self-publish, it can be stressful, especially for anyone new to the process. I know I shared my self-care tips for me, but I have to remember that if I am feeling stressed that I need to take more time for myself and that usually means the body, mind and spirit needs more rest. If I get eight hours of sleep I feel well rested and ready for the next eight hours in my writing room.
  • Trust my self. I have to trust that I am on the right path.

What tips and tricks have your learned during your writing practice or self-publishing journeys?

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…