Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Reflection on Remembrance

I had the amazing opportunity on Sunday to take a break from my mad NaNo writing-fest and attend a Remembrance Day ceremony with my daughter. She's an Army cadet (much to the chagrin of her Air-Force father) and her unit was marching in support of their sponsor, a local Legion.

Veterans, Legion Members and Cadets stand at attention.
It was a bizarre little ceremony, as the memorial gates they were marching to are located on a main street in a busy city. There was a police escort, several bicycle cops and two police cars with flashing lights. The cadets (age 12-18) looked sharp, marched well, and came to a halt in the middle of the intersection, the police officers directing traffic around them and the few war vets healthy enough to stand with them. In spite of the setting, and the low attendance, the Legion members led us through the National Anthem and played (via recording) the Last Post. We had a moment of silence. Like every ceremony of this nature, I struggled with the tears that inevitably well up when I think of the lives lost. Perhaps it's survivors guilt, perhaps it's the memory of so many friends and neighbours who have lost their lives in the service of our country, or perhaps it's fear that some day I could hear that bugle call someone I love dearly home. Whatever the cause, the moment of silence, to me, is sacred. And on that busy street with police officers directing traffic Sunday morning, it was no different.

As the moment of silence ended, I was shocked to hear a middle-aged woman start to yell. "You ruined the last post! You ruined the moment of silence! You should be ashamed!" she screamed at a poor unsuspecting police officer just behind my daughter. I'm sure I wasn't the only one confused. My poor daughter, standing there protected by the police officer helping the traffic through (which, by the way, was now backed up at least 6 blocks in each direction), looked like she was about to bolt.

I think (but I'm not sure) that this woman was mad at the police officer for letting the traffic through during the moment of silence. In her ignorance though, she not only insulted someone who was bravely doing his job, but those in front of her, who were doing what was important...remembering. I can't tell you how furious I was at this loud, angry woman who for some reason thought she had the duty to blast someone for ruining a ceremony that she herself was ruining. I wanted to run into the street and scream at her. Had she worn a uniform for her country? Did she watch the father of her children get on a plane for a 6 month tour in the desert? Had she held her son as he cried silently for the father he knows is in danger? Had she seen the rows, upon rows of gravestones in a lonely French field? Had she sat up late at night waiting for her husband to come home from a rescue mission in the middle of a blinding storm?

I have.

And as much as I wanted to give this sad woman a piece of my mind, I didn't. The men and women who die every day so that we can stand and pray freely in a city street deserve better than that.

To his credit, the police officer listened to her quietly, attempted to placate her, and continued doing his job. The cadets, legion members and veterans ignored her. The ceremony finished and we walked away. I'm sure there are better ways to hold a ceremony than with a few straggly spectators in the middle of a busy street. But our discomfort was minimal. The act of remembrance is what counts. 

To the men and women who have died so that I can sit here, writing my unedited thoughts...thank you.

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

NaNo Countdown

If I was really cool, and really techno-savvy and had all kinds of time to spend figuring things out, I'd put a NaNoWriMo widget on my Blog right here


But sadly, this is not the case. Well, not today anyway. I have an hour before I have to take off for my real job, and would really like to spend a few minutes actually preparing for NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month starts in just

6 days

Have I prepared at all? Nope. Well, I guess I have a bit, as my plan for this year's NaNo is to redo (ie from the beginning) a manuscript that I fiddled with this summer. I've got the basic plotline in my head, the main characters, setting (more or less) and a title. But the conflict is a bit iffy. Will the story become a 50,000 + word manuscript? Who knows?

Last year I started NaNo with just about as much info, had a week long visit with my parents and welcomed my hubby home after a 5 month deployment in the Middle East. And I won! Not only that, but my little manuscript has been sent off, edited by the fabulous Jesse Steele of The Editorial Department, and as far as I can see, it's ready to go. Which I think is pretty darned cool. It took my 14 months to write my first manuscript, and it's still not ready 4 years later! I LOVE that at the end of NaNo, if all goes well, I'll have something else finished.

I'm looking forward to it. How 'bout you?


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time Flies


It's October.

I am officially sucking at keeping my blog up to date.

Seriously, though, I have a mental block when it comes to imputting (I never know how to spell that one...are there two t's or just one??) my email and password, so as to write a simple blog post. Why is that so difficult? It just took me two seconds to do, and here I am.

There is, of course, the slight life-upheaval thing that comes from packing your entire family's material existance into a tractor trailer, driving for hours, and then inserting said family into a newly built hobby farm. We have been working non-stop for weeks planting grass, building fences, making gardens, and (ugh) putting away box upon box upon box upon box of stuff. We win in the 'stuff' department. Thank God we move every few years or we'd be overcome with stuff.

Anyway, so now we're here, the horsies are happy in their little paddocks, kidlets are in school, and I'm finally able to concentrate on some writing-related stuff.

Lets hope I can input that little email address more often.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's baaa-ack...

*cue drumroll *

My manuscript has returned from the editors. Yup. It's back. The wonderful people at The Editorial Department even returned it on time. Now that's professionalism.

I'm not sure if I'm nervous, scared, excited, stressed or depressed. Probably a mix of all of the above. And I haven't even opened the file yet!

Today I'm allowing myself an hour to read over the editor's notes and skim through the side comments. And after that, I'm off to a funeral. Let's hope there is no connection. (Rest in peace, Mr. Hamilton.)

Will let you know how it goes!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


If you've been following along on my rants (God help you), you know that I currently have two completed first drafts sitting on my desk waiting for something exciting to happen to them. The problem is, they are just that - drafts.

The first manuscript was completed in 2008. I "edited" it, queried it, submitted it for contests, and quickly realized that although the story was good, the writing needed a little work.

Here's where things get a bit sketchy.

You see, I LOVE to write. Putting my words on the 15" screen in front of me gives me a high I never realized until I started taking it more seriously. But when I try to alter those words, make them flow better, correct grammatical mistakes, remove those nasty words with -ly at the end of them, I lose my focus. I second guess myself. I change things that should be left alone, and leave the things that should be changed. And when I think of someone else critiquing my work I hyperventilate.

Enter my new friends from Twitter. My four wonderful crit group members, in our varying states of busy-ness, have introduced me to the real world of critique. And my other friends at #WritersRoad have made me realize that editing doesn't have to be painful. When I discovered that some people actually like editing BETTER than writing, I was shocked. Seriously?? You LIKE to do this?

And then it hit me. If I'm ever going to get my completed manuscripts into print and my assorted works in progress there as well, I need help. Professional help. The kind that's worth paying for. Talk about scary. It's like the next step in the 12 steps..."Hi my name is Brenda and I suck at editing."

Thanks to a friend from my critique group, I've discovered the wonderful people at "The Editorial Department". And, no kidding, they've been wonderful. Jane has even sent me her virtual vodka-valium-latte to help with my pre-editing jitters. In a few days I should get back my edited draft from the amazing Jesse Steele. I feel like I do when the kids are at camp. My baby is off in the big world, and I'm waiting to go pick it up--cuts, bruises, and alterations included.

So...wish me luck. I'll let you know how it goes. Who knows? Maybe something exciting will happen.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bad Blogger. Bad.

Yah, so somehow it's May 30th. That would make it a month and a half since my last post. Somewhat failing in the content department, no? The excuses are many, but time is short, so I won't bother. Let's just say I've wanted to post, but haven't.

The problem with leaving something like this for too long is that the topic possibilities pile up and start staring you down. "Cummon, Brenda. I DARE you to post on me!" they scream from within my brain.

Oh yes, I've read all of the advice. Posting regularly is important. Weekly, daily, MUST post. Post in your sleep if you have to! The pressure!

I suck at prompt posting. I am the queen of bloggy procrastination. Procrastinating Poster's Anonymous Chairperson: That's me.

Bad blogger. BAD.

Today the sun is shining. It's Monday and I don't have to work at my 'real' job. The kids are at school. Hubby is off saving the world. The dog is walked. The house is relatively clean. The lawn is mown and the gardens are weeded. And I feel like writing.

I could write about the new house that we are building. I could write about sending my manuscript to a professional editor (scary prospect, that). I could write about kids, rain, sunshine, horses, work, blahbity blah-blah-blah.

But today I just feel like saying hi.

Hello all you friendly follower peeps! What's new with you?

Sunday, April 3, 2011


As if life isn't crazy enough, what with showing our house, getting ready to move, searching for a new place to live...we've been testing out a new pony this week. His name is Otto. Currently owned by good friends of ours who've bought a larger horse to suit their growing daughter, Otto is a 14.2hh gelding. Delaney loves him. He's 7 years old, has two white socks and a very cute white blaze.

So? What do you think? Cute, huh?


Monday, March 14, 2011

And So It Begins...

Finally! Our posting message is in!

After over a year of waiting, we know where we are going. And I’m exhausted already.

Last Wednesday (five days ago) the message came in. Thursday we contacted real estate agents both here and in our next location. Friday night we filled out the listing paperwork. Saturday and Sunday we cleaned like MAD. This morning (Monday) the photographer came to take pictures for our virtual tour. This afternoon the relocation company’s appraiser came to do his paperwork. Tonight the sign goes up on our driveway. Tomorrow morning the listing goes live on the internet and the REAL fun begins.

The posting process slowly builds as you wait to find out where, and begin the general process of cleaning out and getting ready. Then the bubbling frenzy of the pre-listing period hits. You scrub, paint, tidy, chuck, hide, dust and primp your house into looking like something from a magazine cover. In the past two days I’ve made curtains, flower arrangements and lovely clean piles of firewood. We started at 7 am and went until 11 pm. Last night I swear I dreamed of dust rhinos taking over the world. Our house has not been this clean in the two and a half years we’ve lived here. Sadly, military family organizational nirvana only happens in the brief period between listing and sale.

As a military family, we’re not new to this craziness. This will be our 8th move in 14 years. I’ve moved once with a toddler and a 4 week old baby who screamed every minute of our four day drive. And once with two toddlers and a 3 month old baby. Not fun. But, wonder of all wonders, this time our kids are actually HELPING in the process. It’s an odd development. Our twelve year old is a whiz at cleaning windows. Our ten year old can sweep and shovel like a pro. Even the eight year old is discovering the wonders of the home staging world. Very cool! And last night, after working hard ALL DAY, they were actually playing with one another! HAPPILY! And without making a mess! What’s with that? Who’d a thunk it?

There’s still work to do, but the preparations are almost finished. Now comes the annoying ‘keep-the-house-clean-because-showings-only-come-when-two-kids-are-barfing-and-the-dog-decides-to-eat-the-laundry-room-door’ phase. It’s a whole new category of Murphy’s Laws. The kid that forgets to flush his poo-poo before we leave. The dirty sock that doesn’t quite make it to the laundry basket. The (don’t laugh because it’s happened) boogers rubbed on the entryway wall. This momma’s got hawk eyes, but I know that something will be missed. And I also know that someone will come along and love this much just as much as we have.

Please God, just make it quick.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Re-Readable Books - A Top Ten List

I love to re-read books. There’s nothing better than picking up a book for the second, (or third, or fifteenth) time and entering the author’s world afresh. I read quickly, and sometimes I miss things. Or I’ll forget something in between readings. And depending on what’s going on in my life, I may discover entirely new meaning in the story.

I remember reading C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe when I was eight. I LOVED it. Escaping to a world where animals can talk? And magic is real? Just by hiding in a closet? Perfect. I read the whole series at least ten times. There was absolutely no part of my mind that searched for Christian references.

When the movie came out a few years ago, I bought the series and read it again. It amazed me to see what Lewis had hidden in the pages. And this time thinking all the while of how my children will enjoy the story, not just enjoying the story for itself.

I read for entertainment. If a part of a book doesn’t catch my interest, I’ll (*gasp*) skip whole pages to get onto the good parts. Sure there are millions of really good books out there. But only books that entertain me (or speak to me in some way) qualify as re-readable.

I recently picked up a book (let’s just say it’s from an insanely popular vampire series) for the second time. My daughter is reading the series, and I wanted to refresh the story in my mind. Sadly, this book (and series) does not qualify for re-reading status. It’s killing me. Too much mooning. The heroine is driving me insane. Not to mention the fact that I don’t like the casting of the movie, and all I can see are the movie characters when I read it. I don’t have a lot of time to read anyway, so it’s being shelved.

The fact that a book I enjoyed so much the first time (and yes, I REALLY loved it the first time) could be so un-entertaining the second time got me thinking. What are my favourite re-reads? And why are some books re-readable? Hence the list.

So—Ta da! Here are my top ten favourite re-reads of all time (in no particular order):

1. Harry Potter (1-7) by J.K. Rowling—Do I need to expand on this? Fantasy, excitement, brilliant entertainment. Sure there are a few parts I skip through, but for the most part I could re-read these books twenty times and not get bored.

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen—I love, love, love the snippy, barbed dialogue in this book. Who wouldn’t want a Mr. Darcy to rescue them? So romantic. And to top it off I really like both movie versions (BBC and Hollywood). Sigh.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte—Again, romance at it’s best. A few parts are skippable, and I want to shake Jane when she’s hanging out with St. John. Or slap him. But still, I could re-read it yearly.

4. The Narnia Series (1-7) by C.S. Lewis. I’m proud to admit how many times I climbed into my closet as a child, hoping to be greeted by a faun.

5. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick—This book gets me in the gut. Very entertaining. Even the third time. I’m eagerly awaiting book three.

6. Are We Having Fun Yet? (16 Secrets to Happy Parenting) by Kay Willis and Maryann Bucknum Brinley—This one you may not have heard of. It is an AMAZING guide to parenting. My copy is dog-eared and well worn. Kay Willis, may she rest in peace, is my hero.

7. Dragonsong by Anne MacCaffery—Another escapist’s dream series. I love Menolly. And dragons.

8. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M Montgomery—I have to admit, I tried to read Anne when I was ten, and had to put it down. I think Anne’s dialogue was just too much for me then. Now, it’s charming.

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins—Seriously. This book is so incredible on so many levels. Ethics, romance, drama and entertainment. I love it. Cover to cover.

10. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares. I can’t remember who recommended this book to me the first time. I know I begged my book club at the time to discuss it. And I’m looking forward to discussing it with my daughters in a few years. A feel-good series for teens and up.

So there you have it. I’m sure I’ve missed some. And don’t think me shallow for the lack of classics or deep philosophical books. If you agree, disagree, or think me a wacko, feel free to comment. I may come up with more and do a revised list later. I’d put the Bible down as one but I’ve never read it cover to cover. And my own manuscripts? Well they’ve been read a million times, but I can’t recommend them to you, as they’re not published. Yet.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

New Post on HorseFamily

I've branched out! I'm now a guest blogger on Horse Family Magazine, an online magazine for horse lovers. My first post is just an intro of sorts.In future I'll be posting on more physiotherapy related posts, diabetes in riding...and (cross your fingers) the trials and tribulations involved in buying a farm. You can find my post here:



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Life. In Six Words.

On Monday evening I was dropping my daughter off for an extra-curricular activity at a local school. While standing with her, my eyes drifted to the bulletin board in the hall. There was a double page spread from a national paper stapled there, and a whole bunch of white paper sheets with what looked like mini-poems on them.

Intrigued, I walked over and checked it out. The article was on ‘Six-Word Memoirs’. Basically, boiling your existence into a short, six-word blurb.

The memoirs on the bulletin board were amazing…

I am a sneaking ninja. Stealthy.

Six Siblings Make a Girl Tough!

Father died young. Grew Up Fast.

Working Janitor. My ambition lacks ignition.

And on, and on. Some of them were just lists of traits…Loving, Working, Sleeping… things like that. Some of them were full sentences.

I’ve since searched the internet—turns out this is quite a phenomenon. Magazines, newspapers, and news channels across the world have done articles on the six-word memoir. There are even books on the subject. So I'm a bit behind the times.

Anyway, as I was driving home Monday night, daughter safely ensconced in her activity, my mind whirled. Could I do it? How could I turn all of the things I do into a six word bio? My life is a neverending series of hats—I wear a different one every hour.

I couldn’t get it out of my head. Even while I was falling asleep that night the words were rolling through my mind. I help. I heal. I work, play, laugh, cry, push, hold, write… I’m a mother, a wife, a physio, a horse-holder, a diabetes nurse, and a shoulder to lean on.

And then it hit me. Everything I do involves building someone else up. My success is their success. My triumph is a good A1C. An A+ on a test. A patient rolling in to the clinic in a wheel chair and walking out his own feet weeks later. A military man standing at the front of the parade. Even in writing, I just want to share. I want to make you, the reader happy.

My six-word memoir?

Success doesn’t always mean coming first.

For me anyway. My success is standing in the wings. It makes my heart sing. Yah, I might have cheated a bit with the contraction. But I think that’s me in a nutshell. I haven’t been ‘first’ at anything since high school. But I’m content with where I am right now.

What’s yours? I’d love to hear it. Leave it in the comments. Or maybe make one up for someone else you know. Give it a try.

Monday, January 24, 2011


My girl and I...overlooking the Caldera in Santorini, Greece

A few months ago I took part in an online Twitter chat with others who have/care for someone who has diabetes. I can't remember the exact topic, but it had to do with 'controlling' diabetes. The discussion was fast and furious, and in my not-so-tech-savvy way I followed along, and even commented a few times when the urge struck.

What absolutely amazed me about the discussion was how wide the disease varied. There were the Type 2 diabetics who just watched what they ate, and the 'brittle' type 1's, who were just hanging in there. How do you 'control' something that affects people so differently? How can you keep your thumb down on something affected by so many variables?

In our house, we 'manage' diabetes. There's no controlling.

It's a delicate balance. My daughter does EVERYTHING a normal 8 year old does, from summer camp to somersaults. She eats sugary foods (sparingly, but no different than our other children). She swims, she dances, she rides horses...she flies across time zones and she canoes in the back-country.

Only sometimes in 'Dunnes vs Diabetes' the balance swings against us. Thursday, for example. Cell phone rings at work. It's the school calling...daughter's sugar levels are so high the test kit won't even register them (For those who aren't familiar with test levels, that's almost 5 times normal levels). A few suggestions, and I get back to work. An hour later, another phone call. During a recess martial arts lesson, another child accidentally ripped out daughter's catheter site. No catheter = no insulin. She's already super-crazy high, so this is an emergency. Thankfully my co-workers and patients are very understanding. I drop everything at work, tear off to the school at mach 5 to remove the rest of the old site, clean and insert a new catheter. Forty minutes later I'm back at my job, and it's business as usual.

Make no mistake. Diabetes never sleeps. Some nights I don't either. No matter how perfectly we measure carbs and calculate ratios, we cannot control it. And sometimes life gets so hectic we forget something. Insulin. Site changes. A test kit. Extra juice. A hug.

So we manage.

And hope. And pray. And test, and test, and test again.

Tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Waiting Game

Today is January 19th. In about 5 months the Dunne clan are going to pack up all of their worldly possessions and haul their little behinds to somewhere else. Possibly somewhere in this province. Possibly somewhere on this continent. Possibly somewhere on this planet.

Where, you ask? Heck knows! Your guess is as good as mine. We've known this posting was going to happen for more than a year. We kinda know where we are going. And we kinda know when. But other than prepping our house to sell (which, by the way, I'm avoiding right now by writing this blog...) there's not much we can do to prepare until we have our magical piece of paper..aka (deep reverberating theatrical voice) 'The Posting Message'. Dunh, dunh, dunh!

Patience is NOT my virtue.

I suck at waiting. Really. You'd think after 13 years as a military spouse, and seven family moves I'd have gotten used to this madness. If anything it's getting worse. I'm on the real estate websites every day. I'm searching the properties for sale in our local area. I'm researching schools. I'm cleaning out closets, going through books, weeding out the unnecessary crap that builds up in a house after a few years. I've warned, rewarned and warned again my work, kids teachers, extra-curricular activity organizers and friends. I'm sure they are sick to death of the endless mind-numbing babble. They humour me and ask socially appropriate questions--all the while questioning my sanity.

I think I could coin a syndrome here. 'Moving Madness'. "Pre-posting Parapsychosis". "Radical Relocation Radiculopathy". Or how about..

Condition of


My husband is afraid to come home because he knows I'll pounce on him. "Any news?" "Any emails?" "Did you talk to anyone?" "Come look at the house I found in (insert city here)!" He has this slightly terrified, cautious grin when he comes through the door. I try hard. Really I do. But I HAVE TO KNOW! NOW!

The good news is, that when that glorious (or awful-depending on where it says we are going) piece of paper comes, I'll be ready! Pre-printed info sheets abound! The house will be ready to show! The application forms will be ready to send! I'll have the hotels selected for our house hunting trip, the houses to look at, and the restaurant for the third day's supper selected! Life will be good! We'll be moving forward!

And two years later I'll be doing it all over again!

There's no life like it.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blogshead Revisited

Days hubby was gone.....151

Days til he returns.....NONE!

Current Work In Progress... Editing 48,000 wd manuscript from NaNoWriMo

Well, so much for November and December. Ummm...I lost them somewhere in the snow. How is it that when life is complicated and crappy I find lots of time to blog, but when it's busy but good...? Not so much.

I could bore you with tons of details about how my wonderful hubby came home(my kids had absolutely NO IDEA until he was standing in front of them), I took part in and won NaNoWriMo (along with my three children), and had a great Christmas with family and friends locally and in my home town...but there were no major catastrophes, blood sugars stayed relatively normal (well, except for the emergency roadside site change in Montreal), and people were happy in my house. I was happy in my house. November and December were good.

Enter January.

Snow. Cold. Dark. Editing.

As much as I dislike the snowy, dark, frigid days of late January. Editing really makes me shiver.

I've been a really good girl. I put away my NaNo manuscript for almost six weeks. And now, for the first time since I did my final NaNo update on Nov 29th, I've taken it out and am reading it.

It's always a bit shocking the first time I read something I've written. I wrote that?? Me?? Cool. It's not bad! Seriously! Sure, it's not publishable material yet, but the feeling is there. My problem is taking that feeling and expanding it to something vortexy. Something that sucks you in and spits you out panting on the last page. The bones are there, but my editing skills are not. Help!!

So....instead of editing (my plan for the evening), I'm blogging. Hmmm...avoidance is the best policy. And as a working, writing, miltary spouse and mom of three kids, there's always something else to do than edit!! Laundry! Dishes! Vacuuming! Cleaning the kitty litter! Scraping boogies off the wall! The list is endless.

But those all sound too much like work.

I'd rather just sit here and talk to you.