What I’m Reading Right Now: January

Hello and welcome to 2020!

With the start of the new year, I wanted to dive right in with some bookish content and start a monthly post sharing what I’m reading.

I’m notorious for reading multiple books at a time and after finishing a bunch of books before Christmas I went on a bit of a spree and picked a whole whack of books to start reading. Though, one of these books is one I started months and months ago and have picked back up after a break.

Currently reading

Honeybee by Trista Mateer

I wanted to branch out this year and read more poetry and this one gave me good vibes in the store, so I picked it up. I’ve read through a few of the poems and I’m enjoying it… if that’s the right word. The poems are about love, loss, and heartache which is a pretty universal experience, though coming from an LGBTQ perspective in this case.

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

This is an authorized prequel of the classic Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, so tells the story of Anne’s birth, the death of her parents all the way through to her stepping off the train at Bright River to wait for Matthew. This was the book I’d left for a while and I’m planning to write a review when I’m done reading it.

Middlemarch by George Eliot

I joined an online bookclub hosted by a Twitter writer friend and the theme is “large books by women.” I’d say this month’s book definitely falls in that category. I’ve only just started so I know this is going to take more than a month. But I’m glad to have an excuse to read a classic.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Besides poetry, I also wanted to read more nonfiction. A couple months ago I watched the documentary about her life on Netflix and had it in my head to read something of hers eventually. So far I’m very impressed by the writing style and I’m actually enjoying it, despite the fact that it’s about her husband’s sudden death and the serious illness of her daughter.

The Book of Dreams by Nina George

I love Nina George. I reviewed The Little French Bistro in 2018 and I was eagerly awaiting her next book. I was so excited when I ordered it late last year, but I was already reading so many other things that it had to go on my TBR pile. Now I have a chance to read it and I haven’t made it far, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been reading!

So that’s my list! Maybe this will give you some inspiration for your own reading this month.

What are you reading?

Call Down the Hawk Art Contest: An Entry

Call Down the Birds (Acrylic), Jenna Goldsmith

Does any part of you still look at the sky and hurt?

Call Down the Hawk

When Maggie first announced that she was hosting an art contest, I didn’t know if I wanted to submit anything or what I would submit if I did enter. But then I remembered that I enjoy painting birds, especially ravens.

Bird motifs are the best motifs.

This is also my first attempt at a hawk, so I don’t think it went horribly!

The End of a Year and a Decade

The sun is setting on 2019 and on the 2010s, which leaves me feeling equal amounts excited and vaguely nauseated. This has been a crazy rollercoaster year and an even bigger rollercoaster of a decade.

At the beginning of 2019, I still had an unfinished novel and now at the end of the year, the novel is finished and has been sent to a handful of agents. In 2010, I was still 16 and in high school and now at the end of the decade, I’ve graduated high school, gone through university, and graduated almost 5 years ago. Not to mention getting into the creative writing program at Humber, writing a whole 83k word book, getting a real adult job, and everything else I’ve done in the last 10 years. It’s been a big decade.

I’ve definitely accomplished a lot in the decade, but here’s what I’ve accomplished in 2019!


I’m including a few items that aren’t perfectly positive (the rejections and the Pitmad… which was basically just rejection via Twitter) because they were major learning experiences for me. This year I’ve learnt a lot about my work and the process of trying to get it published.

I’m certainly glad that I finished some of the goals I set out for myself last year. Maybe that’s an accomplishment that should go on the list!


It’s time for my long dreaded favourites section of this post. If you read my 2018 blog post, you’ll know that I’m quite bad at picking just one favourite. This year I’m going to try my best at just choosing ONE thing for this list.


A Darker Shade of Magic

This was a late addition to my read list this year and actually pretty spontaneous. I’d bought the box set last year when it was on sale, but hadn’t read it. Then I saw it on a list of portal fantasies and (since I’m querying a portal fantasy) decided to read it.

Wow! I knew I would enjoy it, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I wasn’t even done and I decided that this was going on my favourites list.

I was going to mention Winter of the Witch, but I won’t because I said I’d only pick one.


Doctor Sleep

This movie was also one I saw fairly late in the year, but it really stood out. It was one movie that I really just enjoyed watching. Simple as that!

I’m already a fan of Stephen King, though I hadn’t read this book yet. But I really enjoyed this movie, so I’ll have to give the book a read!



While last years’ winner, soup, is still a beloved food, this year has to go to burrito.

I love Mexican food (or at least the Mexican food you can get outside of Mexico) and last years’ runner up was tacos from my local Mexican restaurant. Earlier in the year, my dad and I would treat ourselves to very yummy “fast food” (just ready fast) burritos. And as I experimented with different fillings, I even got a little spicy with it, which is saying something because my spice tolerance is not very high.

Anyway, thanks burritos for being so delicious!


The Good Place

The Good Place had its final season this year and while I was sad to see it go, it wrapped up in such a good way. I always appreciate a show that has a plan and knows when to stop.

The show is amazing and is so clever with its concept and execution. And if you like moral philosophy, it’ll definitely tickle your fancy.

These were a few of my favourite things!


Instead of having a hard list of goals I’d like to achieve this year, I’m going to have a vague umbrella goal which I’m hoping will encompass all the other things I want to accomplish in 2020.

I want the coming year to be about creating. I want to write more, paint more, photograph more, make more music, everything.

To be more specific, I’d like to learn more about photography since I have a super nice camera that I don’t really know how to use. I’d like to get back into practising my ukulele!

I spent too much time in the second half of the year worrying about getting my book out, trying to get people to read my stuff online, trying to be noticed, instead of doing what makes me happy: the writing itself. So now that I know what querying is like, it’s not going to get to me as much and I’m not going to worry about anything else. I’m just going to create pieces I’m passionate about and everything else doesn’t matter.

Wishing you the very best for 2020 and I’ll see you in the new year!

Top 5 Hallmark Christmas Movies

Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash

It’s the time of year for hunkering down during the long nights of winter and watching Hallmark Christmas movies until your eyes pop out.

Seriously, that’s one thing that really gets me into the spirit of Christmas. They’re great to watch in the background while I write or read or basically anything. There’s something comforting in knowing that everything will work out in the end, and with oodles of Christmas cheer.

I’ve watched my fair share of Hallmark Christmas movies, and here’s my ranking (in no particular order):

The Mistletoe Inn

An aspiring romance writer attends a writer’s conference at a beautiful Vermont Inn. There, she meets another writer who appears to suffer from writer’s block. Through their time together, she begins to thrive and even writes a new chapter in her own romance story.

A Christmas movie about an aspiring author? Yes, please!! I dream of going to a Christmas themed writer’s conference. If anyone knows of one, please let me know! Alicia Witt is also one of my favourite Christmas movie actors.

The Sweetest Christmas

Kylie is expecting a proposal from her boyfriend/boss at a restaurant and gets a promotion instead. The restaurant owner is her old high school boyfriend, she hasn’t seen in years. They help each other out. Love in the air?

What that description fails to mention (the most important part of the movie) is that Kylie is a pastry-chef who’s a finalist in the American Gingerbread contest. I have a strange soft spot for the food-themed movies, where someone is a baker. I just love Christmas baking so it’s a combination of my favourite things.

Christmas Around the Corner

Claire, a savvy venture capitalist from New York City, escapes to a quaint town in Vermont for the holidays and becomes a guest of the Fortenbury Bookstore. Upon arrival, Claire finds Christmas celebrations have been canceled by the town after a flood and the bookstore is in a dire state of disrepair. She immediately takes on the challenge to revitalize the store, but clashes with the owner, Andrew (Jamie Spilchuk), who initially rejects all her proposed improvements.But everything comes to a screeching halt when Claire discovers that Andrew is planning to sell the bookstore in the New Year. Will the spirit of Christmas be enough to change Andrew’s mind and encourage him to follow his heart?

There’s nothing I like more than bookstores (see my post about my favourite bookstores) and this heartwarming story about bringing life back to a bookstore and saving Christmas… *Italian chef kiss* It’s the dream.

Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane

After their parents pass, siblings agree to sell their family home, leaving Emma in charge. While Emma’s mother’s collection is being appraised, they find a hidden surprise that helps them discover the power of love and family during the holidays.

Another Alicia Witt movie! I love the house in this movie, a gorgeous Victorian house (it’s a real B&B that you can stay in!), and the fact that the male love interest owns an antique store. There’s a bit of a mystery and a heartwarming twist.

The Christmas Club

Two busy strangers meet when they help an elderly woman find her lost Christmas savings. Thanks to fate and Christmas magic, they also find something they were both missing: true love.

This movie is new this year and I watched it for the first time this week. And I loved it! The two main characters have great chemistry and neither of them is annoying. It’s very sweet and cute. And it’s refreshing to see a movie where the love interests don’t hate each other at first.

And these were a few of my favourite Hallmark Christmas movies!

What are some of yours?

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I’m Starting a Newsletter

Some things have changed around here! For one, I have a new logo for my blog/facebook page; something a little more sophisticated. I’ve also added a new page to the top menu.

There’s a new page!

When you click on that lovely link, you’ll be taken to a page where you can subscribe.

If you subscribe, you’ll be treated once monthly to a lovely letter from yours truly. The letter will include:

  • Original pieces of writing from me (including blog posts and Medium articles)
  • Original photographs and artworks not seen anywhere else (including my painting process)
  • Articles and other pieces of writing I love and want to share
  • Inspirational videos and pictures I want to share

Sharing my passion for literature, books, art, and nature is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while and I hope you will consider subscribing!

What if I’m not Brave Enough?

I’m always so inspired by people who chase after their dreams no matter what. They quit their jobs, drop everything, and go. Just go.

I admire them so much because I don’t know if I could ever do it.

I’ve never been a particularly brave person. As a child, I was skittish and timid of trying new things and getting outside my comfort zone. Now that I’m an adult, I wish I’d been more fearless.

Creative pursuits—or really anything that you put a lot of care and attention to—require a certain amount of bravery. There’s so much vulnerability involved in creating something and putting it out there for people to see and potentially judge. Being vulnerable takes a lot of bravery.

I don’t think I’m very good at the whole vulnerability thing. Or I make up for it by being extra judgemental and hard on myself before anyone else has a chance. When I create something I love—something that came from my soul—even if someone says it’s good, I wonder if it is good enough. 

It’s my dream to make a living as an author. That involves people actually spending their money on something I created. And I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to that point.

I follow Swedish artist/blogger/musician/etc. Jonna Jinton, and at 21 she left her life in the city to move to the north and follow her creative dreams. She paints, makes music, photographs, and is generally a wonderfully creative human being. And I want to do what she does!

But I don’t know how if I could muster up the bravery to take the leap into the unknown (cue Frozen 2 song).

How can I justify quitting my job and leaving the security of my home if I don’t know if anything I actually make would support me? If money wasn’t an issue, then there would be no problem. But money is THE issue. Who is going to pay me to be creative? Who is going to like my art/writing so much that they’re willing to give me money for it?

Am I overthinking it? Maybe. Probably.

Of course, these feelings of doubt and inadequacy are coming up as I’m in the process of querying my novel. I’m facing much more rejection than I’ve ever had in my life. Being a writer means having a thick skin and I’m realizing that maybe mine isn’t as thick as I thought.

I don’t want to give up, though. I love writing (and painting and baking and all my other creative hobbies), so I’m not going to quit anytime soon. I just wish the universe would send me a sign that I’m on the right path.

While I’m waiting for my sign, I hope you’re all having a wonderful day!

I Participated in my First #PitMad and This is What Happened

Photo by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

If you’re not on Twitter all the time, like I am, you might not know what PitMad is. According to the website: “#PitMad is a pitch party on Twitter where writers tweet a 280-character pitch for their completed, polished, unpublished manuscripts. Agents and editors make requests by liking/favoriting the tweeted pitch.”

As an active member of the writing community on Twitter, I was aware any time a PitMad came around. Lots of pitches would be floating around, some of which were books I would actually read if they were published. Until recently, I didn’t have a manuscript ready to be pitched. But the Monday before Dec. 5, I saw a tweet about PitMad and thought maybe I’d give it a shot.


Now going in I didn’t have any expectations. I just thought it’d be a bit of fun to see what would happen.

My pitches (it was recommended I have three of them to post at different times during the day) were unpolished and fresh from the brainpan. They hadn’t been reviewed by any writer who actually knows how to write a decent pitch. This fuelled my low expectations.

I’m currently in the process of reworking/rewriting my query letter because I already knew I wasn’t doing my best at selling my book to agents. So I already knew I wasn’t very strong at the pitch game yet.


PitMad begins at 8am EST and I had my first tweet ready to go just after the clock struck.

During the day, I tried to retweet as many pitches I saw as possible to show support and love for my fellow writers. I also posted two more pitches around noon and 4pm, but my first tweet was the most “popular” and got continuous support throughout the day.

I stayed on as much as I could to support writers and monitor my own progress. Despite having low expectations, there was still a part of me that had hope I’d get noticed by an agent or two.

It didn’t happen. While I’m a smidge disappointed, I knew this would happen. This industry requires a thick skin and boy is mine really thick now.


Well nothing has drastically changed. I finished the evening feeling supported by the writing community, but not any closer to being represented. It takes a lot of bravery to put yourself out there (especially in a public forum like Twitter), and I’m proud of myself for doing it.

The next date is in March and I guess we’ll see what happens between now and then.

If I do participate next time I’m going to do some things differently:

  • Have my pitches critiqued beforehand
  • Have more willpower not to check Twitter every five minutes
  • Promote myself a little bit more before hand so my followers know I’m participating

This was an interesting experience, but ultimately I’m glad I participated. While nothing came out of it, I wouldn’t say anything negative about PitMad.

I’m hopeful that next year I’ll continue to improve my pitch and query, so that come March I can participate in the next PitMad feeling more confident.

Book Review: The Grimoire of Kensington Market

That door; it drew her like an enchanted flame. Kyle’s in there! The thought came to her as though someone screamed it. She put her hands over her ears, it was so loud. He’s in there! Open the door! Open it! Open it now! Her bones sang with the knowledge. Kyle was behind that door, and if she had any hope of bringing him home, she was going to have to open it.

The downtown core of Toronto is being consumed by Elysium, a drug that allows its users to slip through the permeable edges of this world and then consumes them utterly. Peddled by the icy Srebrenka, few have managed to escape the drug and its dealer. But Maggie has.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” The Grimoire of Kensington Market is the story of Maggie, guardian of The Grimoire bookstore, which expands and contracts as stories are born . . . or die. Only those who are destined to find The Grimoire enter through its front door. But one day a messenger arrives with a mysterious note that reads, “follow me.” The next day, another note arrives and then another. The messages, Maggie realizes, are from her brother, Kyle, who has fallen under the influence of the Elysium. Kyle has gone too far into the Silver World and needs his sister, a recovering addict herself, to rescue him.

Driven by guilt and love in equal measure, Maggie sets off on a quest where bands of robbers stalk the woods, tavern keepers weave clouds to hide mountains and caribou fly on the Northern Lights. A journey where dreams and the dead both come to life.

Goodreads | Amazon | Indigo

A fairy tale retelling that’s set in Toronto, Ontario? Yes please!

Right off the bat, I was drawn in by the urban fantasy elements of the beginning and as I delved deeper into the book and it grew more fantastical, I was even more hooked.

I’ve actually never read The Snow Queen, but I know the basic story enough to keep up with how Davis’ novel was running parallel with the fairy tale. But, it means I can’t really say how similar or different it is, I just know that I enjoyed it. It felt like a fairy tale, but in a new dark twisty way.

On book I was reminded of while reading this was The Hazel Wood, because of the connections to fairy tales and a more spooky look at them.

Of course, my favourite part of the book is that the main character, Maggie runs an enchanted bookstore that you can only find when you need to. I’m such a sucker for books with bookstores in them.

Davis drew me in with her writing and took me on an adventure through a vast and varied landscape of this magic world. The fantastical setting was written very well and was sometimes easier for me to visualize than the characters. But, I’m a big fan of well-built worlds that almost feel like a character within themselves.

Despite never having been a recovering(ed) addict, Maggie was quite a relatable character and–I don’t know if I’d call her a likeable character–she felt quite real. Her relationship with her brother pulled so much on my heart strings because of what they’d been through, and I looked forward to the final reconciliation that I figured would happen at the end of the novel.

The book did deliver on its fairy tale, everything mostly works out in the end, sort of ending, but the climax left something to be desired. We spend three-quarters of the novel on this adventure to seek out Kyle and save him from his captor. We get there and the big baddy is defeated almost too quickly. Of course there’s a little bit of struggle for Maggie, but the final moments of the villain seemed a bit rushed. I wanted to relish in their defeat a little bit more. I wanted it to pack more of a punch.

All in all, this book checks off a lot of boxes for me. I love a book set in Canada and a fairy tale retelling makes it even better, especially when there’s an enchanted bookstore involved.

I’ve Been Letting a Lack of Confidence Hold Me Back

grayscale photography of woman with earrings covering her mouth
Photo by Antonino Visalli on Unsplash

Back in September I started querying my first book agents seriously. I’d done a lot of research about who I should send my book to, what a query should (and shouldn’t) be, how to write a synopsis of varying lengths, etc.

But I’ve queried 16 times and I realized I’m short changing myself.

I’ve not been going in guns a-blazing… more like guns locked in a secure and unknown location. I wasn’t doing my best to sell myself and my book; I was letting my lack of confidence lead the way to wishy-washy mediocre queries.

I think it finally occurred to me when I got a rejection in less than 24 hours after I sent it. It was like a red flag finally went up that something wasn’t quite right. I could feel it in my gut. I needed to change my approach or else all that time I spent working on my book would be a waste.

This is not the time to cop out.

This is the time to take proactive steps to make sure that the next 16 queries make an impact and really show the book in its best light.

After a helpful tip from a fellow writer, I did even MORE reading about how to make a query give more bang for its buck. It’s going to take more time, but in the end it will be worth it.