Thursday, July 31, 2014

You Want Me To Do What? Stand-Up Comedy and Other Pushed Boundaries

I love expanding my horizons. It helps me grow as a person. When I push past my comfort zone, I find a new place of normal, a new horizon, a new dimension to myself previously unexplored. Life has winked many a time I have pushed past those previous boundaries and found new ones.
Of course, sometimes I blow past my comfort zone then have to live with the deer-in-the-headlights feeling. It is often followed by me wondering how I got myself in that situation. Sarah, dude, what were you thinking?! It has always turned out awesome (probably why I keep doing it), but some of the hang time can fluster.

Personal growth . . . Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Enter When Words Collide (WWC). It is an all-genre conference held in Calgary for readers, writers and publishing types. I'm active in WWC. I love this conference. I love this crowd. I have a blast the second weekend in August playing with other writers and readers types. (It starts next week!!)

I have a solid line-up this year, including my third year on the Humor in Fiction panel. Our dear moderator is rocking it organizing us this year and innocently asked if I'd prepare a brief stand-up comedy piece.

After I picked myself up off the floor from laughing so hard, I looked at the computer screen and  realized he wasn't kidding. Crap. Stand-up comedy? Me? Deep breath . . . Good 'ol Sarah pep talk . . . Then sanity returned.

That's me, next to pilot.
This boundary pushing was pretty fun.
Well, until the weather got crappy.
But we made it. Another round
to personal growth.
And I realized some boundaries I wasn't ready to bump out. Then I realized there was personal growth in that, too.

A week from Friday, at When Words Collide, I will be a panelist for the 2014 version of Humor in Fiction, but I will not be doing stand-up comedy like a couple of my fellow panelists. (Whew!) I will be sharing how this past year especially, including humor in my writing has added depth and relate-ability to my characters, it has upped the human and emotional element, it has been an avenue for my author "voice" and it has been straight-up delightful to write funny characters.

Write on.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Top Five: Running Books . . . looking for #4 and #5

I'm a random runner . . . maybe jogger is a better description. But I am interested. My running is spontaneous. I should go more often because I feel like gold after. Seriously, my whole body feels great, even achy muscles are singing yes, yes, yes. My writing flows better when I'm running more regularly, too. Running clears all the cobwebs out of my brain and body.

I don't do schedules or train, yet. Life might be easier if I did, but so far no dice. Gen X Aquarius anyone? But I have found a few running books that I have really resonated with. So for this Top Five blog entry I bring you my favorite running books and am asking for suggestions for #4 and #5.

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never SeenBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book gently, but effectively, takes your hand and leads you down a whole new way of life; trusting your body, trusting yourself, and invites you to move.

View all my reviews

To add to my original review, this is the book that started me running. I don't go as often or as far as I would like, yet, but this book got me me moving. Thank you.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I first found this book in the library rather serendipitously . The only table left to work on was next to the running books. I looked up from my laptop and saw this awesome title. I had to pull it off the shelf. The cookie on the front charmed me further and I spent more time reading that afternoon than writing. When I got  to the part that inspired the title I laughed out loud. For anyone who has been scared to try running, try this book. Happy running.

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon GreatnessEat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not an ultrarunner or a vegan. I'm more a spontaneous jogger who likes locally grown/sourced omnivore food. But I definitely enjoyed this book. It reminded me how amazing the human body is, how food is fuel and community depending how we treat it, and that life is as fulfilling and satisfying as we make it. The sport of ultrarunning sounds like a welcoming community of folks who happen to run long and hard. Cool. I'll stick to my wee runs for now, but a seed once planted can be darn inspiring.
Run on.

View all my reviews

Any suggestions for #4 and #5 of running books to read?

Happy Running, Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Release: Kiss Me in the Rain

I am delighted, giddy, crazy awesome happy to announce
Kiss Me in the Rain, Book One of the Tanner Family Series 
is out!! 

Glaciologist Savannah MacIntyre was happy with her life far away from her family. But sometimes life has a way of bringing you back home when you least expect it and most need it. When the opportunity to reconnect with her estranged dad comes up, she takes it. Then finds herself distracted from her turmoil by ex-CSIS agent turned archaeologist Gabe Tanner, who would rather get another bullet to the head than reconcile with his own father. Family betrayal has taught both Savannah and Gabe not to trust, or love, which makes navigating their mutual attraction on a remote archaeological survey beyond frustrating. But somewhere between roaring fathers and dense spruce forests, they let go of the past and learn that love doesn’t care who the extended family is.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Time For Top Five!

I wondered what I should start my Time For Top Five blog series with. There are so many different things to choose from, anything from my top five favorite hiking trails to favorite beers to favorite books I read in English class.

My big opener? I chose university text books. That's right, folks, you read it correctly. I graduated a long time ago, but it was interesting which books had staying power for me. Besides, when was the last time (or any time) you saw a top five text book list that was for fun instead of required reading?

So without further ado, Sarah's Top Five: University Text Books (in no particular order)

1) Dilemmas of World Peace
2) Wheelocks Latin
3) Water, The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource
4) Ishmael
5) Fladmark's Guide to Archaeology Field Procedures

Dilemmas of War and Peace; Companion To Studies An Integrated Audio-Print Course by Dick Ringler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the textbook for my Dilemmas of War and Peace class in my undergrad. I considered majoring in Political Science after taking this course from Dr. Leonard Gambrell. It was one of my favorite classes in university and top three for ones that made me think the most.

View all my reviews

Workbook for Wheelock's LatinWorkbook for Wheelock's Latin by Paul T. Comeau
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lord knows why I decided to take Latin in university. The two years of Spanish I had in high school were not particularly positive experiences. But something amazing happened in this language class. I studied. Outside of class. And I resonated with my prof's teaching style. A potent combination.

View all my reviews

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm counting this book as one of my favorite text books, although I read it after university, I was working at Brandon University when I read it. Over beers with my husband and one of his thesis advisor, it came out that this book was used as a text book. So I read text books for fun. Could be worse.

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and SpiritIshmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was required reading in my World Religions course in my undergrad. Reminds me of that saying, a mind once opened can never be closed. Happy Reading indeed.

View all my reviews

I first came across Fladmark's A Guide to Basic Archaeological Field Procedures at my archeaology field school in 1997. It has been the go-to book on every archaeological crew I have ever worked on since. Every archaeologist I know, knows this book. It is the quintessential field guide to archaeology in Canada.

What are some of your favorite "text books?"

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friendship Through the Trees

Room with a View
Waterton National Park, Canada

Backcountry Backpacking,
Waterton National Park
When I was a kid, camping involved canvas tents. You know, the ones that always smell musty, had aluminum fit-together poles that had at least one that never fit correctly and were pitch black inside even in the daytime? Yeah, those ones. My dad would take us to some local campground. There would be a pool we'd play in all day and at night we would roast marshmallows and hotdogs over the campfire nestled safely in a truck rim. Sound familiar? We had a great time, but camping was really an opportunity to swim in a pool and eat marshmallows.

When I got to high school, I went camping with a youth group. The campground they took us to seemed pretty normal to me, but one of the guys was beyond agitated. I had met him a few times and as we walked along the paved drive through the campground, this mild-mannered, polite guy muttered how can they call this a forest. I figured I should know what he was referring to, but I just saw pine trees. We walked a bit more, still behind the rest of the group. I was pretty sure he would have preferred a game trail to the paved road, too. Finally he blurted why in the world are we camping in this sick forest?

Again I looked around, but this time I finally saw the forest. Even to my untrained, naive eye, I could finally see that the trees were sick. I also noticed that they were all the same size. It was a man-made forest and it was not doing well. And I hadn't even noticed.

It was one of those ah-ha moments in life. I am not a tree expert, but that moment opened my awareness and I have never looked at a forest the same way, since. My new friend's distress was real and his respect for the natural world palpable. I wanted to know more. It was an auspicious start to a friendship that has continued over two decades. And I'm still learning.

My expectations of camping experiences shifted. I still look back at those canvas-tent family trips from when I was a little kid fondly, they were my first fledgling forays into camping. But now I need more. And I get more out of each experience, too. Pools are awesome, but swimming in a mountain lake, although typically crazy-cold, is absolutely invigorating. Seeing big horn sheep grazing high above in the bowl that surrounds the trail you are on is infinitely more intriguing to me than watching TV in those campground rec rooms. Now, don't get me wrong, I like TV. But I can't imagine missing out on the sight of those Big Horns. Or a sunset. Or a fish jumping. Or a canoe paddle. Or the Milky Way. Or a real forest . . .There's so much to see!

What is your favorite thing about camping?

PS, I still love roasted marshmallows.