Monday, 19 September 2011

The Case of the Missing Mayonnaise

It was a dark and stormy night....Too cliche? That's how Snoopy begins all of his novels.

Snoopy - Best-selling author, friend to birds and epic dancer. My hero.

But it's true.

It WAS a dark and stormy night. I was all cozied up in my apartment ready to settle down for a night of reading and self-reflection, when all of a sudden I was taken over by the need to go grocery shopping. Mother Hubbard's cupboard was bare. I figured if I wanted to eat tomorrow, I best go out and do something about it. I don't know about you, but I don't have grocery fairies at my place, nor do I have a personal chef. Both would be fantastic to have, especially the grocery fairies!! I wonder what they'd look like. They would definitely have their own reusable grocery bags. And bigger wings than your average fairy for hauling heavier jars of mayonnaise!

See folks, this is why I am writing to you. I am in desperate need of your expert sleuthing skills. Get out your Sherlock hat, your Columbo cigar and your Agatha Christie glasses (Agatha Christie teeth optional), we've got a mystery to solve!!

Operation: Saturated Fats

Your Mission: To solve the mystery of the missing mayonnaise

The facts: I left my house at 6:45 pm EST for the grocery store to get, well, groceries. I stopped into the LCBO (liquor store) to pick up the latest issue of Food&Drink magazine. Then I meandered over to the health food store to get some cold remedies. Then I headed over to the grocery store. I picked up the usuals: veggies, mixed nuts, tuna, and went to the check out. As I was standing there I realized...I needed mayonnaise! I left my groceries on the belt and let the guy behind me go ahead. I dashed over to the condiment aisle, chuckling as I dashed over. 'Condiment' - hehehe. Gets me every time. When I got to the mayonnaise shelf I saw that it was on sale! If I bought two, I saved more AND I got extra AirMiles. Naturally, I picked up two jars. Because, who doesn't need two jars of mayo? Apparently Canadians eat a lot of mayonnaise. Then again the people who made that up, probably learned about Canadians from these guys:

Anyway fellow sleuthers, back to the case at hand! I went back to the check out, paid for my groceries, put them in my reusable bag and headed to my car. My drive back from the grocery store was uneventful, but the action started once I got out of the car. I opened the passenger side door and BAM! Half of my groceries tumbled onto the tarmac and rolled under my car. I managed to save the tuna, the nuts, the veggies and one jar of mayonnaise (it was behind the back driver's side tire).

But where did the other jar of mayo go?

It was raining outside in a mist you couldn't escape. People were walking by wondering why there was a woman doing downward facing dog beside her car. I was wondering why I was doing downward facing dog beside my car trying to find the missing mayo.

Here's what I know. It wasn't under the car. It wasn't around the car. It wasn't in the car. It wasn't in my grocery bag. It wasn't anywhere. I gave up. Head hanging and shoulders slouched, I went inside out of the rain, bringing with me a pang of regret that I was leaving something behind in the rain.

If you're still out there mayonnaise, stay strong. I have a team of peeps out to look for you! If anyone approaches you, the code word is: Saturated Fats.

So my mystery mavens, can you solve the mystery of the missing mayonnaise?
Would love to hear your thoughts on 'Whodunnit'!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A Labour of Love

This past weekend was Labour Day weekend for us Canadians which is kind of an oxymoron because many people try to do exactly the opposite of labour. It's all about the 'chillaxing' on Labour Day. Taking a break from all the other days of week of labour whether it be managing a household, an office cubicle, or a construction site.

My 'getaway from the everyday' resulted in a trip up north to the family cottage on Georgian Bay. The anti-labour/chillaxation movement sets in once you get north of The Big Cities, which smell like a moldy, sweaty sock lost in a guy's unwashed jock strap. It's amazing how you forget what fresh air ACTUALLY smells like! Usually once we get north of Barrie I find myself taking a deep breath, filling up every square inch of my lungs. ahhhhhhhhhh. Fresh air! Pines, firs, wood stoves and the smell of fresh, clean water.  Car fresheners have tried to put the smell of the outdoors in a small little tree that hangs on your rearview mirror, but that pales in comparison to the TRUE smell of fresh air. That in itself takes the tension away from my neck and takes my shoulders out of my ears.

The other recipe for true 'chillaxation' on Labour Day weekend is getting on 'island time'. After a 4.5 hour drive of back-roading (no big highways for this gal. Small highways are the way to go. Where else am I going to get free-range eggs from a Mennonite family? Or fresh maple syrup poured just for me at a farm where they keep a goat tied to a tree as the family 'pet'??), it's time to park the car and load things into the boat. Goodbye civilization, hello island life!! The clocks tick slower on the island, if you choose to look at one. The clock in our kitchen at the cottage is good for one thing: determining how close we're getting to Cocktail Hour(s). Leaving the marina and getting on the water is like a form of brainwashing. Work? What work? Day job? I don't know what you're talking about! Stressful thoughts are washed away with the wake of the boat.

By the time we get to the cottage my body is feeling loose and limber, my mind has forgotten all about the stressful day job, and my spirit is ready to soar.

There's a lot of fun and fascinating people at our cottage and that's the way I like it. It's like coming home to family. But instead of the family that shares your DNA, it's the family you actually get along with! haHA! Visiting, cocktail hours, dinners, karaoke while the guys wash dishes (rather poorly, but what can you expect when they're busy singing Love Potion #9?).

This manifestation of chillaxation is pretty typical for any trip up to the cottage. But what makes Labour Day so special is: The Labour Day Weekend Cottage Come As You Are All Request All The Time Outdoor Church Sing Along Hymn Sing.

The what, you ask?

I'll wait a moment while you go back to read it.

Got it?


Near the cottage is an outdoor church. There is an organ and a lectern which are under a shelter. The granite pulpit is not used to serve Holy Communion, it's used to serve lemonade and water after the service.

Every Sunday from the start of summer until Labour Day any minister, priest, lay minister of any Christian faith can come up and deliver a service. Labour Day Sunday is reserved for a hymn sing. No sermon, just folks yelling our hymn numbers to an woman who writes down the hymn numbers on a chalk board and her husband who announces the hymn numbers into a microphone.

"Number 247!!", one person in the crowd yells.
"Number 28!", another person hollers at the same time. This prompts the first person to yell their request even louder one number at a time, thus confusing the woman writing down the hymn numbers and prompts further loud requests. It's fantastic. People are engaged, are laughing, and are advocating for others' hymn suggestions. Pure joy.

There's an organist, a guitarist, and just on Labour Day - a percussion section. Plastic tambourines and maracas are distributed to the crowd to shake and rattle as they see fit.

This is not your grandmother's church service.

I get such a kick out of it all. It's rare when I can laugh and feel inspired all at the same time. Of course the icing on the cake are the actual hymn selections - all cottage/outdoor/nature related. My favourite, "Will Your Anchor Hold in the Storms of Life" is always reserved as the last hymn and we sing all the verses. All the other songs we just sing the first and last serves with corresponding choruses - so there's more time for more hymns!

I look forward to this event all year. It's a great way to commune with nature, to sing with unabashed glory (because between the tamborines, the sound of the breeze through the soft-needled spruce trees, boats passing by the nearby channel, people singing harmonies and sometimes off-key singing, my 'most-times' off key singing goes unnoticed), engage in stimulating discussions of bear-sightings and cottage DIY projects, and feel completely and utterly away from the daily grind. No off-key singing about anchors and storms allowed in the office! No way!

A 'labour-free' weekend at the cottage is a bit impossible. Between the cocktails and church-singing is cutting down trees and other cottage duties, so there's lots of work to do. But the joy and simplicity in all of these tasks make it feel like play, not work.

For me, Labour Day weekend at the cottage is truly a labour of love.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Why We Write

The other day, while taking a mental side trip from getting to know my characters a little better, I thought back to when I started writing. And that led to thinking about why I write. It was a bit weird to think cognitively about something that can be so intuitive like creative writing, so then I let my mind drift a little deeper and thought about my visceral need to write.

It is a need, not a want. I HAVE to write. I have ink in my veins that needs to be bled out of my soul onto the paper (or the computer, though I think copious amounts of blood might ruin my laptop...).

See, the more I thought of it I realized that writing saved my life. Really.

A number of years ago I was having a hard time coping with things going on in my life. I was feeling depressed, hopeless and stuck in rut. I was Eeyore -  but with smaller ears and without the cute bow on my tail. I felt stuck in a dark tunnel where the exit had been filled in with boulders. My family tried to help me out. My friends tried to help me out. But I was stuck and I stayed stuck in the helpless feelings for a long time.

I stayed stuck in this hopeless tunnel until a part of me was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and decided to escape into my imagination. There I could fathom a world of characters with their own set of challenges, their own cast of loony, inspiring and heroic characters, and an untapped reservior of hope.

These stories stayed in my head for awhile until I couldn't take it anymore and had to write it down. So I peeled my ass off the couch *gasp* and bought a journal. And I wrote. And wrote. Every night. At the beach. On vacation. One story idea lead to another. So I went back to the book store and bought another journal. And wrote some more.

This whole process occurred over a couple of years and while there were other things happening in my life at that time that were more positive, I feel it was being able to live vicariously through my characters - to help them write their stories, to see them persevere and gain hope - that helped me get my hope back. And hope helped me to get my life back.

Writing happy endings for characters helped me to start to write my own happy ending. I began to believe it was possible to be happy. That there was a way out of the dank, dark tunnel. That I was the author of my own best-selling story starring Me, the fierce heroine who faces adversity and fights it with her sword and kick ass ninja moves.

So, in a round about way, this is why I write. Because it makes me feel good. Because I love connecting with a deep creative part of me where I feel free to be expressive. Because if writing about this stuff made me feel good, then maybe people reading what I write will help give them hope. Maybe they'll be able to relate to the characters. Or maybe they'll just have a chuckle or two. That's fine by me. Because, all in all, writing is plain old fun. Realizing this turned those boulders into sand and I was finally able to make my way out of the tunnel and into the light.

All that deep thinking about why I write got me thinking: Why do other authors write? Being the curious cat that I am, I asked a few authors that I know from a parallel universe called 'Twitter'. It was interesting to read why they write - all personal - but some similar themes across the board.

Here's what Al Boudreau (@threecifer) had to say about why he writes:
"I write because there is injustice in the world. However, if you stand on a
soapbox and yell, no one will listen. Therefore, my hope is to educate and
inform people of certain practices by big business and government that, if left
unchecked, can and will cause irreversible harm to us, and to our planet. By offering
this information within an exciting, compelling medium, the facts are delivered 
to the reader while entertaining them. This way, I believe there is a much
better chance that people will retain the information after the fact, and perhaps take
action of their own." 
- Al is the author of the gripping political thriller, In Memory of Greed and can be found supporting other independent artists via #pubwrite (through Twitter).

Don McGraw (@WHogarth) puts why he writes in his own words:
"We’re all wired to see the world in our own unique way.  I see stories.  A few days back I spotted a quaint old tin roof farmhouse tucked behind a bustling hardware store.  My wife saw an abandoned shack—I saw a hundred stories begging to be told.  For a moment I was there, oh so many years ago, no excavation, no highway, no urban sprawl.  My head spun with scenes of the past, all soon neatly cataloged in my gray matter alongside an aging courthouse, a report of a missing child, a mountain stream, an old man I met in the hardware store—scattered thoughts and images of every day life. Not all make it into the next novel but all add to the flavor and essence of the final product.  My product.  My craft.   This is what I do." 
- Don McGraw is author of two internationally acclaimed novels, Sins of a Nation and The Telltale Tempest.  He lives with his wife and three children in Austin, Texas.

My good pal Julie Bernhardt (@Julie_Bernhardt) shares with us her excitement for why she writes:
"My favourite part of writing is creating the first draft. No, scratch that, it's the revision process. No, no, it's making my outline. Or submitting my book to agents. Oh heck, I love it all! I am still so green at this I don't even mind rejection letters - it reminds me that I am actually doing this. I started writing seriously two and a half years ago, and it's just what this busy mom of two boys needs at the end of a tiring day. I may not have a lot of drama in my own life right now, but I love creating it for my characters - the more stressful for them the better. Although I admit, I love nothing better than making my characters fall in love, especially when they don't see it coming. So, if you're looking for me, I'll be curled up on the couch with my netbook tonight. And the night after that. And the night after that..."

Then Karen DeLabar (@KarenDeLabar) chimed in on her reasons for writing:
"All my life I have had someone else’s rules, ideals, and impressions pressed upon me. Even though I followed the rules, stayed in line and did what I was told to do, I had a need to express myself and stand out from the rest. For most of my life that need for creativity was filled by the stage. However, the written word was always there in the wings, waiting patiently for me to give it its cue. An avid reader my entire life, I began to crave the freedom and release that only writing can give. The ability to go anywhere, be anyone, do anything is more powerful and more addicting than any adrenaline rush the stage ever gave me. My world can be one of chaos and confusion, but when I sit down to write, I have control, I have the vision and that is most empowering." 
- Karen is a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. She helps run Writing on the Rocks, an interview/review site of indie and self-published authors and an active member of the Twitter hashtag #pubwrite ( In between caring for her children, reading and writing she can be found on the stage in local community theatre and choral performances. Find her on Twitter (@KarenDeLabar) at her website ( at Writing on the Rocks ( or on her Facebook page (

Finally, I was talking (okay, I admit it, we were 'tweeting') to Erica Lucke Dean (@ericaluckedean) the other night about why we write and she shared with me her blog post where she wrote about her unwavering desire to write, no matter what interruptions get in her way. Her humourous and passionate blog entry can be found here.
- Erica writes romantic comedy and suspense novels. And, like the mailman, she delivers humorous and relatable blogs through snow, sleet, rain or shine. Information about her books, including sample chapters can be found here.

As you can see (because you're so smart and aware of these things) my fellow authors and I have our own reasons for writing. 

But there are common threads that connect the reasons we write: passion, hope, change, escape, and fun. 

I guarantee that if you read the works of these authors, and many others, their raison d'etre will be obvious.

We put our hearts right on the page for you to read.

We give our hearts to you, dear readers, with unconditional love, because underneath it all, that is why we write.

For you.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

I've got the music in me...

It's no surprise that the idea for my first novel came from my love of music. I mean, I LOVE music. I consider it a soundtrack to my life. If I'm in the car, I must have driving music. When I'm working in my 'real job', I have classical music on in the background while I'm writing reports. When I'm writing, music is playing. Not just any music, though. Music that helps me get in touch with my characters and with the plot.

There's something about music, I believe, that gets deep in your soul and helps you tap into creativity. I'm currently reading Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Revised and Expanded Edition. Sacks is a neuropsychiatrist. He tells stories (case studies actually) about the remarkable, mysterious and often miraculous relationship between music and our brain. It's a fascinating read.

So what type of music do I listen to while I writing this book? Lots of classical music. My main character is a classical pianist, so I've spent many enjoyable hours exploring the character's personality and who she would be as an artist. What type of music would she play? How would she play the piano? Intricately with technical poise? Or expressively with passion flowing out of her fingertips? I decided the latter. And that has informed what music she likes to play. That means I've been listening to lots of Beethoven, Chopin, Mendelssohn, and the rest of the boys from the Romantic Era. Anything with lyrical, song-like melodies that are dynamic and have the ability to pull heartstrings is on the playlist.

Classical music has been instrumental (pardon the pun) in inspiring me to write and connecting me with the characters in the book. But the characters in this book have other musical tastes. It's so fascinating to be able to go on a journey with the characters and be musically inspired through them. Cool, eh?

What is the musical soundtrack of your life? I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The path to becoming a published author starts...NOW!

Greetings Earthlings and welcome to my first blog post. I figured that since I want to become a published writer, I best set some time aside to practice publishing...and writing. Makes sense, no?

My name is Christina Esdon and I have many book outlines, mostly in the contemporary romance category and women's' fiction (or chick-lit) written. I have finally decided to take the plunge from causally writing things down in journals and notebooks (yes kids, people used to write using things called 'pens' and 'paper') to typing out my novels and getting them published.

This whole process seems daunting at times, so I decided to do two things: 1) Read up on the publishing process and 2) Just get writing!!

To get things started on the right foot (which is actually the left foot in my world), last weekend I read successful sci-fi author Michael R. Hicks' guide to self-publishing aptly titled, 'The Path to Self-Publishing Success' (shown left). It was an informative and entertaining read. Because of his easy to read writing style and his humorous nature, I felt less overwhelmed and ready to, as Nike says, 'Just Do It'. I'm taking some of his advice right in the moment by starting up a web page or blog so that you, the reader, can know what I'm up to, get to know me better, and in the end discover that I'm sweet, and funny, topped with a bit of nuts. Is it working?

So while I'm developing my 'publishing muscle', it's also important that I actually write something so that I can publish it! Who knew? I'm working on taking the outline from one of my novels and put it into coherent sentences and flowing paragraphs which will hopefully dazzle and entice you to no end. :o)

The working title for my first novel is 'Robbed Time'. There will be romance, suspense, humour and lots and lots of music as the main character is an up and coming classical pianist. I'll be using this space to blog about the process of writing this book, highlighting other authors whom I've come to know, or whose books I enjoy reading, and other things related (or not-so related) to being an author, writing, and books.

While I don't want to show all of my tricks at once, I will tell you a bit more about myself should you be interested.
1. I'm Canadian and I openly admit that I do say 'eh'. But not all the time. I use it appropriately in sentences. For example, "That Tim Horton's makes a good cup of coffee, eh?" :o)
2. I name inanimate objects. My car. My laptop. But not my Crock-Pot. That would just be weird.
3. When I'm not writing, I enjoy pretending I'm a Canadian version of Martha Stewart and try (with limited success) to make everything myself. This is a work in progress. So far, the I have a kitchen drawer that is overflowing with newly knitted dishcloths and a garden overrun with wild raspberries. Baby steps, right?

Many thanks for popping by my blog. I promise more updates on 'Robbed Time' and, of course more romance, laughter and fun!

Hope you pop by again soon,