Sources of Inspiration

I’m sure it’s not just me. I’m sure every author has been asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” There is no one place, no Shopping Mall of Book Ideas where we can go and simply purchase the recipe or kit for our next book, characters, plot twists, and all. And sometimes there are multiple sources of inspiration for any one project.

Inspiration is the seed, the idea, the brainstorm, the whispers of the muse. Something makes us think “Oh, wouldn’t that be interested” and off we go. Sometimes inspiration sparks the birth of a character, a new setting, a plot or a twist, or a new detail of a project in the works.

Here are some of the places I’ve found inspiration:

Music

Music is a blend of poetry and sound, creating an atmosphere and eliciting emotion – like a tiny story packed into 3 minutes. And my favourite songs are the ones that have complex, tricky, or engaging lyrics, songs that tell a story. (Okay, I have a fondness for instrumental as well and I’ll get to that). I hear these songs and my mind starts to build the story.

Sometimes it’s the mood of the song so it doesn’t matter if it has words or not. The mood of the music will inspire a scene or a setting or help me come to grips with the emotions a character is feeling in a particular scene.

Personal Anecdotes

Something I see, hear, do, or hear about in the real world will often inspire a snippet of conversation, a background character, a minor interaction, or a setting in a book I’m writing. Rarely do these events or stories appear as I saw them, lived them, or heard about them. They change to suit the new setting, to fit the fictional characters I’m writing, and of course, to make them more interesting. Though there is some truth to the old adage: truth is stranger than fiction.

My kids are amazing sources of inspiration – not only the things they say and do, but in the way they see the world. You look outside and see a blustery fall day, they look outside and see all these fine little details that we as adults just gloss over. But it is those details that make a setting rich and realistic.

So to do real places morph to become fictional settings. Shopping malls, coffee shops, billboards on street corners, quiet streets, busy intersections – the whole world is full of inspiration.

Dreams

I think authors are on the fence on this one but for me, I’ve had some amazingly vivid dreams where I’ve been able to record entire sequences upon waking. I store these away and come back to them, much like personal anecdotes, to shift them and morph them to fit a story or scene I am working on.

Movies, Books, and Television

The creative endeavours of others provide a wealth of inspiration. Sometimes it’s for conversation-fodder when I’m writing a contemporary. My characters will discuss current politics, sure, but they also reference TV shows and movies. It adds immediacy, authenticity, and both a sense of time and place.

It is also fun to ask “what if” questions. What if that character was female? What if they didn’t fall in love? What if they were plumbers instead of soldiers? What if you killed that character in chapter 2?

This is a fine line to walk. Inspiration taken from these sources must be heavily edited and twisted into something truly unique.

 

I’m sure I’m missing things but I would love to know where you go for inspiration.

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Musical Motivation

This is a common question at launches and panels and such. Do you listen to music when you write? What music inspires you? Well, I’ll talk about music as inspiration in a later post, right now I want to write about music as motivation. I see motivation and inspiration as different things – inspiration is the idea, the spark, the image, the story. Inspiration gives us something to write about. Motivation is what keeps our butts in our chairs and our fingers on the key or pens in our hands.

I wrote previously that part of my motivation comes from seeing all the books on my shelf and knowing that I can do that. It comes from that desire, that drive, to fill a shelf with books that all have my name on the spine. That puts my butt in the chair – but what keeps me there? And what keeps me in the document window tapping out words instead of browsing social media or falling down the click-bait rabbit hole?

Short answer? Food and music. Food is easy. I eat in the pauses between thoughts so my hands are busy and I don’t click away from my document. I try to eat healthy – soup, veggies, fruit, crackers – but sometimes it’s chocolate, chips, or popcorn, especially if I’m on a deadline. Plus I keep a drink on hand – water, milk, or hot chocolate (I don’t drink coffee or tea). But we didn’t come here to talk about food. We came here to talk about music.

I’m an easily distracted writer so I need to keep my mind from wandering and my hands from changing jobs. The food helps my hands in those breaks between bursts of words. The music helps block distracting thoughts in my head and distracting stuff going on around me, like my husband puttering in the kitchen or my kids playing in the living room.

But it can’t be just any music. Well, I mean, it can be anything because my tastes are very broad, but it can’t be just anything at a given moment. The music has to fit my mood, and the mood of the piece I’m writing. When I’m on a deadline, for example, I pull out anything that’s too slow. I need fast-paced music with a driving tempo to keep my fingers and thoughts moving.

When I’m working on something difficult, something that’s moving a little slow, maybe because it’s in the early stages, maybe because I’m having trouble with the plot, and I really need to focus on it, that’s when I listen to instrumental music. I love classical music but I also listen to stuff like the overtures from Broadway musicals, the menu music from the Game of Thrones discs (you can find it online), Session by Linkin Park, and an instrumental techno version of the Japanese folk song “Sakura” (okay, and occasionally Crazy Frog).

When I’m on a deadline I need stuff with that driving beat. I like July Talk, some of Hozier’s quicker stuff, Meatloaf, and some of Evanescence’s quicker pieces. It’s got to have drums and bass and a good tempo, something that pulls my heart rate along with it.

Most of the time it’s just random stuff, like Pentatonix, July Talk, Hozier, Meatloaf, Pink Floyd, Evanescence, Ok Go, soundtracks, classic rock pieces from before I was born (or at least before I started school) or random pieces where I like 1 song by the artist. I keep a random playlist on Youtube and I have a massive 8 hour list on my computer.

Music is so hardwired into me that if I don’t have something playing on the speakers something is playing in my head (Dream On by Aerosmith is playing in my head as I type this). Of course the music playing in my head is usually incomplete or on weird loops so I prefer it on the speakers.

My bookshelf reminds me of my dream, of why I want to write. The snacks keep me from wandering away from my writing. The music keeps me mentally on track to write. That’s my motivation. I’d love to hear what motivates you.

Book Shelf Motivation

I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration and motivation these last few days. I guess inspiration is that air-fairy feeling of ideas and moods and wanting to write and knowing what to write about while motivation is what makes us put our butts in the chair and our fingers on the keys and makes us write stories instead of Facebook posts. They go hand in hand and one without the other causes all sorts of problems.

I’m a writer who rarely lacks inspiration but who often loses motivation.

Sometimes I’m a distracted writer. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Blogging. Answering emails. Some of it is legit marketing and networking. Some of it, a lot of it, is time wasting. I know this but it’s just so much easier to keep scrolling than to go back to work. And I often tumble down the rabbit-hole of related links and further reading.

And I’m not alone if the Memes out there are anything to go by.

But sometimes it’s not distraction that keeps my fingers from the keys. Sometimes it’s an overwhelming sense of … well, being overwhelmed. Deadlines and word count goals and the whole process of coherent thought and thoughtful story-telling just becomes too much. It’s this huge process and it’s easy to forget that it’s nothing more than one word after another – one letter at a time.

Every writer has that something that motivates them. Rewards are popular. So are editors or agents who stand there demanding deadlines be met. Sometimes I use rewards but I’m my own boss so I find it easy to ignore me.

For me, the greatest motivation I have is my book shelf. I inherited a lot of my mom’s books, like these Stephen King hardcovers:

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This doesn’t even include all the paperbacks I own by Stephen King and there’s a lot of books here. 34 here, plus On Writing which is one shelf up, plus the paperbacks. Mr. King has written a lot of books.

And then there’s these classics, also part of my inheritance:

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17 paperbacks by David Eddings, plus one hardcover a few shelves down.

Now David Eddings and Stephen King are both prolific writers and really, they take up the largest chunks of my book shelf. But here’s another, an author I didn’t inherit:

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I don’t even have this full series, and it’s not her only series.

So why am I showing you these snapshots of my book shelves? Because I walk into my room and I look at these shelves FULL of books by other authors and then I look at this shelf:

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6 books. Okay, the latest 2 are missing. I’m ordering them soon. So 8 books. That’s it. Compared to the other sections of my shelf it is LEAN.

I walk into my room and I see this and I think “I want to take up an entire shelf in someone’s room some day.” This is what puts my butt in the chair. This is what renews me and spurs me to finish the next book. Or one of the things, anyway.

I know I CAN have that many books on the shelf, I just have to write them. I just have to finish them. I just have to ignore the distractions and the doubts and the overwhelming big picture and write the books. They’re there inside me, all these stories just waiting to come out. All I have to do is get them down. And get them edited. And get covers for them. But I’m not thinking about that now or I’ll get overwhelmed again.

Right now I’m thinking about writing.

What motivates you?

Difficult Discussions

My children just brought home a letter from school about Orange Shirt Day. For my readers without kids, or who aren’t in Canada, Orange Shirt Day is September 30th and it was started to remember the residential schools and the children who were sent there.

My son was reading me the note in the car on the way home and afterwards I said, “That sounds like a very good idea.” My daughter then added, “Oh, I don’t really want to wear an orange shirt” in that infuriating tone that young girls seem to manage with ease.

“Now hold on just a minute,” I said. “I’m going to explain something to you.”

And I did.

You see, Orange Shirt Day for residential schools and Pink Shirt Day for bullying and poppies for Remembrance Day, is all about remembering, of course, but it’s about MORE than remembering. It’s about discussion.

A friend of mine online said her children were asking her about WWII and Nazis and she was wondering if they were old enough for that conversation and how to start it and what to say. And considering the political climate in North America right now I’m not sure it’s a conversation any parent can or should avoid for long. But the question still stands: at what age? And what is appropriate to tell them?

I took the opportunity in the car the other day to explain that the government took children away from their families and locked them in schools where they couldn’t speak their language, or wear their favourite clothes, or practice their religion or cultural traditions, where they were beaten for breaking the rules, all because the government and the church thought they were uncivilized. I told them that some of the children died there. And it hit home for them because their cousin is Dakota-Ojibway and they didn’t ever want their cousin taken away from them and beaten and killed. Because I told them we remember for two reasons: to tell survivors that we see them, that we acknowledge what happened to them, and we remember so it will not happen again.

Last November we talked about hatred. We talked about people being locked up and hurt and killed for looking different, for speaking different languages, for loving different people, or for praying to a different god. And because they have friends and classmates of every skin tone, because they have friends of various religions, and because they have family who are gay that explanation hit home and they do not want to see it happen again.

Did I tell them about gas chambers and mass graves? No. Did I tell them about the starvation and the forced marches? No. They are too young for those details. But I did tell them that many young men went over there to fight for an end to these bad things and that some of them, a lot of them, died over there so that those bad things would stop and that if we want to remember them we have to do more than wear a poppy and sing the national anthem – we have to work to make sure that hatred stays out of our country.

To remember is to work for peace.

To remember is to uphold the promise: Never Again. Not anywhere. Not to anyone. NEVER AGAIN.

My children are 5 and 7. It will be a few years before they are ready for anything more in depth than what I’ve already told them. But this message is hitting home for them and sinking in. And it’s all because of a letter about orange shirts.

The Value of Trades

Remember opening your lunch kit in elementary school and there it is, that snack you just hate? For me it was Wagon Wheels (thank god my Mom never bought the damn things) and Gushers (which she did buy, thanks Sis). If there were Gushers in my lunch it was going to be a no good awful day. Unless someone was willing to trade me their granola bar or their cheese and crackers for those damn squishy sugar-water filled sorry excuse for a fruit snack. Technically trades weren’t allowed but if you did it quiet-like and under the table maybe the teacher wouldn’t notice and you’d actually get to eat snack that day.

For writers, trades come in many forms and all of them can be important for marketing and networking.

Blog Hopping

This first type of trade deals in blog posts. You interview me, I’ll interview you. You do a post on my newest release, I’ll do a post on your upcoming reading. Whatever the format or content of this trade the purpose remains the same: expanding your online visibility and reach.

Presumably each author has a different set of followers with some overlap from shared groups. By getting your name and information and book cover on someone else’s blog you are making yourself visible to the unique set of followers they have access to and maybe some of them will be interested in you.

When doing any sort of blog trade be sure to include an author photo, at least one cover photo, and links to the other author’s blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or whatever. Make the post conversational – which is why interviews work so well. You want to generate interest in the person, not sound like a bad sales commercial on the shopping network.

Oh, and make sure you’re trading with someone you can trust to come through on their end of the bargain. Blog trades are free but they do take up time and effort. And if someone burns you in a trade feel free to take down the post. Also, if you see them volunteer to do a trade with someone else quietly and privately offer a warning that you got burned. I never advocate for making a public spectacle of these situations.

Digital Copy Trades

Generally these are the dreaded review trades. I do this a lot because I have a book addiction and no where near enough money to buy as many books as I read in a year. Over the summer I was reading two books a week!

First, be clear on where and when you will review the book and get a clear answer on where and when they will review yours. Is this a blog review? Will they post to Amazon or Goodreads? Will they get to it this week? This month? Next month? Don’t nag but do check in to make sure there are no errors with the file or no emergencies that may cause a delay on their part. There’s nothing wrong with staying in touch and up to date.

Second, a trade has to be mutually beneficial. That not only means both authors get a review and both authors get a free e-book, it also means both authors get a book they are potentially interested in. You need to talk to each other first and make sure you’re both getting a book you’ll actually read and hopefully enjoy.

Third, be clear on what you want the other author to do if they don’t like your book. For me I say as long as you’re willing to post something polite and constructive I don’t care if it’s a 1 or 2 star review. I know other authors don’t like getting 1 and 2 star reviews so they may ask to receive the review by PM and not have it publicly posted. You can ask someone not to post a review but  you cannot ask someone to post a faked review. If they don’t like your book, or if you don’t like theirs, then there shouldn’t be a 5 star review going up. Please. For the continued credibility of book reviews, be honest.

Paperback Trades

I went to When Words Collide, a readercon in Calgary, this August. I could go on for a few blog posts about how awesome WWC is (and I did, you can go read them if you’d like) but for now I will share this one story:

At the mass autograph session I got to talking with another author (who is also a musician) and he gave me a copy of his novella (which comes with a soundtrack!). Yeah. GAVE me a copy. “Here, take it”. So I gave him a copy of my novel, Pieces. There were no strings attached. I do plan to write a review on my blog and we keep in touch a little on social media, but this wasn’t a “you review mine, I review yours” sort of trade.

I highly encourage authors at conventions and other live sales to trade books with other authors. First, it’s a cheap way to build your own library. Second, it’s a cheap way to build connections with other authors. Third, it’s a cheap way to build an audience (I’ll explain that in a minute).

I belong to a local authors’ cooperative and we do a lot of these events together, 2 or more authors at one table or booth with all our books on display – it’s a wonderful experience. Sadly, a lot of authors in the group have never read the books of the other authors. We’re supposed to be supporting each other but we don’t even know what the other books are about, or what the writing style is. This may not sound important but I sold a book by one of my fellow authors because I’d read it and could honestly say I couldn’t put it down, and why it was so exciting to read. Actually, I’ve snagged more than one sale because I’d actually read the book I was trying to sell. I was selling to them as a fellow reader, not as a desperate author, and it worked REALLY well.

And that leads me to:

Benefits

I get it, giving shit away is counter-intuitive. We’ve all done giveaways and free-weekends, and forever-free-first-books and seen minimal translation into hard sales. The internet loves free and books are horribly undervalued. So let me explain why trades are different from other forms of giving shit away.

First – Trades are not like other freebie deals because instead of shouting at the whole world you’re targeting people who like to read, who understand the value of reviews, and who want to support you in some way. General freebies get lots of downloads but never translate into sales because you’re targeting mostly people who like free stuff, and not people who like to read, like to review, or like to support authors.

Authors are great readers but horrible customers. Most of the authors I know fall into one or more of the following categories: living paycheck to paycheck, supporting more than one person on a single reliable income, living with some form of disability which affects their ability to work, raising kids, attending university or college. All those things, in some way shape or form, limit expendable income. Most authors are pretty damn close to broke. So they save their money for those few books that they just HAVE TO HAVE – the next book in a series they love, or by their favourite author. They want to support fellow indies but they don’t have the money and won’t have the money unless they A) make it big or B) you can edge your way into their “Favourite Author” or “Must Have” lists.

In short, they won’t take a chance on your books if they have to spend money on it, not because they’re elitist but because they’re broke.

2) Trades have long been a viable economic structure. I have chickens, you have cows – I’ll trade you some eggs for some milk. You have sheep, I have a garden – I’ll give you veggies in return for winter hats for my kids. You have a book I want to read, I have a book you want to read – let’s swap books and leave each other a review and point other people towards these lovely books we have discovered.

Remember, with a trade you’re not really giving something away, you’re paying for goods with goods, or services with services. Just make sure that the trade is economically fair in both directions.

3) Digital books cost us nothing upfront. Yes, they cost us that elusive “sale” we’re all chasing but you’re not out the cost of paper and shipping. As with my second point, though, you’re not giving it away, you’re exchanging it for something of equal value PLUS, hopefully, a review and some good word of mouth marketing.

4) Personal connection – this is HUGE. You’ve spent some time talking with this other author, either while working a table together at an event, or working neighbouring tables, or you’ve been in an online writing group together. You know what sort of pet they have and if they like notebooks and whether they’re a coffee drinker or a tea drinker. Maybe this isn’t enough to spark a romantic relationship, but you do have a connection to them now. You are more likely to actually read the “free” book you got from this person because of that connection, and they are more likely to read yours for the same reason. This connection is lacking in those “free for 3 days” offers you see on Amazon. Readers download the book but they have no reason to pick it out of their TBR piles because they have no connection to you.

5) Readers sell more books than writers – Who are you going to listen to? Your BFF who just finished reading this awesome book in a genre you both love? Or that guy on your Facebook page who talks about his book ALL THE TIME?

This goes back to what I was saying about my local authors’ group. I’m really good at selling books by other authors because the potential buyer is viewing me as a fellow reader. I have no financial investment in the outcome of their purchase if I’m not selling my book and that makes my opinion more credible.

This is also why I post a link to a review I’ve done when someone posts about their book in a self-promo thread. It’s not to derail or get more views it’s a way of saying “Here, don’t take the author’s word for it. I’m a real reader and this is what I thought of the book.”

But, on that note, it means you have to talk about books you’ve read and enjoyed. And not just the latest by Stephen King or JK Rowling or Cassandra whats-her-name. Talk about the indie books you’ve read just like they’re the latest book by your favourite big name. Read the books in public, talk about them at coffee dates and cocktail parties. I mean, of course talk about your own books in a non-pushy, conversational way too, but I repeat: readers sell more books than writers.

Have you done many trades before? Do you prefer digital or print trades? Did you have a good experience with it? Do you do blog hops and interview swaps? I would love to hear your stories.

 

Casia Schreyer Does Panels

And apparently I’m pretty good at it too.

Sometimes being full of yourself is a necessity. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but my mantra at When Words Collide was: Speak up, be bold, do not be afraid to take up space. And it paid off.

I did three panels this year and would like to take a moment to talk about each of them.

CROSSING GENRES: We spoke on the thrill and difficulties of writing in multiple genres, either in different projects, or in projects that blur the lines between established genres.

Pros: I write fantasy, contemporary lit, and science fiction, and I find the biggest pro is that when people are looking at my books I have a greater chance of having something for them. As someone who reads widely I don’t have a real preference for genre. I don’t write mystery, can’t get the hang of it, but anything else is fair game for me. If there’s a story I want to write, I’ll write it, and I’ll figure out how it fits into genres and my own collection later. This seemed to be the consensus on the panel – we were all happy to write what we enjoyed and figure out what the genre was, who to sell it to, and how to market it, after it was written.

Cons: My fantasy fans are always hounding me for the next book while I’m working on the sci-fi series. For traditionally published authors they may have to find a different publisher if they stray from their established genre. And if you are established in one genre it can be hard to bring fans with you when you write something new.

Nom de Plume: There are pros and cons for using a pen name. It takes time and effort to cultivate a following for each name. On the other hand, fans know what they’re getting when they see the name on the cover. Casia writes fantasy while KC writes contemporary lit (I don’t use a pen name). Some traditional publishers require it because of marketing and branding. We all agreed that if you were writing YA or MG and you also wrote smut that you should use a pen name for the smut.

Genre and marketing: Publishers, book stores, and online publishing platforms are the ones pigeon holing books into genres so they can market them and recommend them to people, and sort them on lists and shelves. Many authors write fantasy that could also be horror, or could also be sci-fi. Or they write literary fiction with a paranormal bent, which is basically fantasy with pretty language and a good moral. Is it a mystery with paranormal elements, or a fantasy with a mysterious plot? Authors don’t always have control over how their book is marketed by the publisher.

This was my first panel ever and I was very nervous but I was the only indie on the panel so I had some unique insights to bring to the conversation. The other panelists were friendly and knowledgeable and no one person dominated the session. As an introduction to this type of speaking it was perfect for me and I hope those who attended enjoyed themselves.

YOUNG ADULT TO NEW ADULT:I could write a whole post on this subject!

There’s been a shift in YA literature. It used to be for teens, 14+, now it’s for kids as young as 10. Which isn’t a problem, except that over half the buying and reading market for YA lit are adults. Which means the YA category gets broken into young or lower YA (for 10-15 year olds – what used to be MG) YA (14-18) and upper YA (17+). NA looks to fill that crossover market, writing books that sound and feel like YA but feature protagonists who are in college or out of school completely as compared to being in junior high or high school.

The age of the protagonist and the maturity level of the content (violence, swearing, sex, politics, etc) are mainly what mark the difference between NA and YA but there is a large grey area between them and a lot of crossover depending on the interest and maturity of the reader.

PEN TO PAPER: When writing doesn’t look like putting words on the page.

We discussed outlining, doodling, world building, daydreaming, and brainstorming. We talked about where our inspiration came from and the types of activities we filled our time with while we were pondering or working through writers’ block.

Repetitive, mindless, physical activity, be it yoga, chopping wood, mowing the lawn, taking a walk, doing dishes, etc, was brought up time and again as a way to keep the body busy and distracted while the mind is free to wander.

We talked about visiting the settings of our stories, or if we wrote fantasy at least visiting museums and such places to get a feel for the time period we were basing our fantasy world in.

We discussed music as inspiration and as motivator (and we were split down the middle with two of us preferring silence and two of us using music to fuel our writing).

We weren’t very talented with art but map making was one of the doodling things we did for inspiration. That, and timelines and calendars for working through writers’ block.

And that was my experience doing panels. I admit, I was nervous, but I had a great time and I learned a lot. I hope other people learned something from me.

Review: Transverse

Transverse is a poetry book written by Theo Ashford and is a companion to his “memoir” Transform. One can be read without the other, I haven’t read Transform yet.

Transverse is not a long book but it was very moving. Each poem was unique and captured a distinctive emotion or moment. Theo relies strongly on images of breaking, shifting, change, emptiness, and confusion to illustrate his own personal journey.

He has provided an honest look at one person’s journey of discovery, one that is on going – at least that’s the sense I got from these poems. There was a sense of being stuck in the middle of a fight – he shares the things he struggles with, and against, and in doing so highlights where the world is failing.

As someone who identifies as “hetro-normative” in pretty much every way I really appreciated being able to read this book. It opened my eyes to the inner turmoil, yes, but it also shone a light on how people like me are failing at being supportive.

Definitely a glowing 5 our of 5 stars from me.

Saying Goodbye

Today we are burying my grandfather.

He passed away quite suddenly towards the end of January when it is cold and icy here and the ground is too hard and too covered in snow to bury anyone really. So he was cremated and the lovely wooden box has sat at my grandmother’s since then. The service has been held.

Today we gather together as a family – his nieces and nephews, his children and grandchildren and great grand children – to lay him to rest, to say one last goodbye.

It’s been six months. It’s still surreal.

I had to tell my children in January that he was in the hospital. A few days later I had to explain to a seven year old and a five year old that their Poppa was gone. They cried but seemed to handle it all right.

After the funeral we went to the apartment for dinner and visiting. When it was time to go the kids wanted to say good-bye to Poppa. Only it wasn’t Poppa they’d seen around all day, it was his older brother.

We went to visit about a month after the funeral. My kids still call it Nana and Poppa’s apartment.

In April or so my son started crying and he set my daughter off. They missed their Poppa. Out of the blue. He must have remembered something and the missing hit him again. I told them it was all right to cry.

In June a TV show I was watching made me cry – the old man in the hospital bed looked too much like my grandfather. All of June my daughter has been missing her Poppa. She told my husband she wished she could have had one last piece of cake with him.

I can call to mind his face and his voice as clear as day in my mind. I should be able to call him up, invite myself over for lunch, and hear him say “Well, let me just check with Nana first,” before telling me to “Come on over”.

When we go to visit he should just walk out of the office and offer my kids juice and cake and their favourite TV shows.

And when it doesn’t happen I remember. Then it feels real. Then it hurts again. But sitting at home most days, it’s not real. I don’t think about him in past tense yet.

Will it feel real now?

Somehow I don’t think so.

Local Business Review: 10 Acre Woods

10 Acre Woods is a petting farm, community resource center, animal rescue, located on Highway 15, east of Anola Manitoba. This family run farm offers a children’s outdoor education program, community craft and vendor sales, community BBQs, goat yoga, swimming with ducklings, and a unique site for birthdays, photo shoots, and even weddings.

They may be small but they are dedicated. When you book for a birthday that is the only booking they take for the day so you have the full attention of everyone working that day, you aren’t rushed, and you aren’t crowded. They are hands on, knowledgeable, and friendly and are concerned with the safety of every visitor and their animals.

They have goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, geese, an alpaca, Guinea fowl, a turkey, rabbits, peacocks, pigeons, and chickens. The Guinea fowl eat wood ticks so that is one thing you don’t have to worry about when you visit.

Their children’s program is called Trackers and they run both a spring and fall session. The program costs $50 per child for a 10 week session and the kids learn to interact with the animals, identify plants and bugs, and make nature based crafts.

The petting zoo costs $5 per person but once you’ve paid you can go in and out all day. This is nice because the kids get bored or overwhelmed and need a break (which is why they also have a large play structure) and you don’t need to worry about “getting your money’s worth” before walking out of the gate. This is really great if you’re attending a vendor sale as a vendor. I was able to bring my kids along and they could just run about on the play structure or go in to see the animals. There are electric fences in some places so parental supervision is advised (my kids were in Trackers so they already knew their way around).

Goat yoga is an experience I haven’t tried but it’s getting rave reviews. Thick mats are provided to protect your yoga mat from the ground and then you do your yoga outside, with an instructor, in the pen with the animals. The baby goats get right in your face as you’re stretching.

This is a great place to visit with the family and if you’re in the area I highly recommend the Trackers program.

Review: Wonder Woman

I saw Wonder Woman in theatres on June 6th and I waited until the 11th to write this (won’t show up on my blog until the 25th). I like to wait a few days after I see a movie before reviewing it. I like to think about it first.

Visually Wonder Woman was wonderful. You start on the sun swept beaches of her island home watching Diana grow up in a sequence that is emotional and fun, not at all tedious. It’s made even better by the cast. You move from there to London in the 1900s – all fog and smog and dirty streets. Then into Paris and Belgium to the front lines of the war.

The stunts were visually pleasing, the effects were spot on and not overwhelming. Gal Gabot’s acting was amazing.

The story, of course, is about Diana’s first foray into the world of mankind during World War 1. She is at turns innocent and wise, strong and vulnerable, powerful and powerless. She has choices to make, and she maintains her right to make them herself.

“What I do is none of your concern” “But it’s what I’m going to do”

She was a woman of strong convictions who faces an existential crisis.

I am beyond pleased that this is the first super hero movie we took my daughter to see. She wore her bracers and skirt and headband to the theatre. She was mesmerized. She beams when I call her my little Wonder Woman, my little Diana. I will likely make her a little brown tunic for October so she can attend C4 as a little Diana. She has been in love with Wonder Woman from the first trailer.

This will be the Wonder Woman my daughter grows up with. This woman who is full of moral conviction, who refuses to be left out, who refuses to be silenced. She demands that her knowledge be acknowledged, she demands that she be seen and heard. She is curious and bold. She is full of wonder. She is full of compassion. She is athletic and graceful but at times awkward and blunt. She fights because she has to and does not relish in the destruction. She loves and she mourns and she looks for the best in people always.

I loved the entire cast. The vulnerability of “Dr. Poison”, the pig-headedness of the British High Command, the endearing babbling of the secretary, the misfit band she travels with, the too-smooth British lord, the bull-headed German general – the boys at the end, relieved to be alive. And I loved that the ending was so strong. They didn’t back down. They didn’t cop out. And they leave Diana full of regret, and full of hope.

With a little luck this will be out on DVD for Christmas and I’ll be able to buy my daughter a copy to keep forever. Because Wonder Woman is her first favourite super hero and so very rightly so.