2019 In Review

This has been quite a year. Some of it good, some of it bad, but on balance I would say more of it fell on the better end of the spectrum.
Back at the start of the year, I had no idea that I’d be writing this, or that I’d even have a blog, let alone post to it weekly. I had no idea I’d resurrect my penchant for writing. Honestly, all that was really on my mind most of the time was planning my trip to Disney, with occasional thoughts straying to this novel idea that kept popping up to wave at me. Well, and the issue of recovering from minor whiplash and concussion, but by the time 2019 rolled into existence, that recovery was pretty well in hand.
In February, I turned 43, but more importantly I took the vacationI had been planning; a mother daughter trip with my Mom and I to the most magical place on earth for a week. It was glorious. Rides were ridden, good food was eaten, and I even met a lovely lady named Pammie for whom I had recently offered to help run a Facebook group that functionned in support of her youtube channel. Pammie runs a channel dedicated to themeparks and travel for people of size or those with physical, cognitive, sensory or other accessibility issues. It’s wonderful, and so is she.
After the trip, life settled back into normalcy. Back to work, back to reality. I did begin moderating that group, but otherwise things seemed to be fairly humdrum. Until May.
May is when it all started. That idea I mentionned earlier? It would. Not. Leave. Me. Alone. Ever since the previous Thanksgiving, I’d been thinking about this thing. Sort of a Narnia for adults. Where a woman was meant to go through a portal in a lake as a kid and enter a fantasy world and then need to try to save it. They were waiting for her. Unfortunately, a responsible adult saw a kid about to fall into a lake and di the responsible adult thing and pulled her back. That world kept waiting, and now she’s all grown up.
I wished someone else would write something sort of like it. Seanan McGuire was writing about the children who found doors into magical worlds and what happened to them when they came back, and they are wonderful books, but they were still about kids. Or teens, anyway. I wanted something about an adult. There was only one way to make that happen, though. I had to write it myself.
The decision to start was abrupt. I was listening to a podcast for creative types – I don’t remember it’s name, because I got distracted by what came next and didn’t subscribe – and it said to stop procrastinating with elaborate preparations and just start writing. So I did. I wrote every day. Sometimes, just a paragraph, some days several chapters. Three weeks later, I had a rather short rough draft finished. Super short, it was only about 35000 words. But I’d done it. About this time, I started this blog, too, in furtherance of this newfound writing thing, and decided to post every week. I chose Wednesdays as posting day, because I have Tuesdays off, so even if I leave a post to thelast minute, I’ll have a non-work day to see to it.
Then, my sister enrolled me in this crazy writing challenge where I had to write one short story a day, in response to a prompt, for the entire month of June. It was insane, and it was glorious.
However, at the same time I was also facing health trouble. My thyroid was in overdrive, which sent my metabolism haywire. I was tired, constantly dizzy – not a good state for a blind person – and my spatial sense was nowhere to be found. Doctors decided to treatit with radiation and essentially kill off part of the thyroid, which we eventually did, but I had to wait for it. I kept writing, though.
In July, I began working on a second draft of the novel. This one was roughly twice the length of the first, thank goodness, as35000 words isn’t really a novel. More of a novella. Or novelette. I finished that in August, and put it into beta reading.
By the fall, my thyroid levels were finally dropping. Of course, they fell below the normal level, but that was expected and more easily dealt with.
Meanwhile, remember the Pammie Plus Parks youtube channel? She decided along with the rest of the moderator team that she needed a website, with articles, and so http://www.pammieplusparks.com was born, and yes, you can find several things written by yours truly there. It’s a terrific resource.
Finally, the place I work for decided that they needed a blog, and put out a call for freelance bloggers. Needless to say, I jumped on that and was accepted. So now I’m a freelance writer for them. Paid work 3/4 of a year past when I decided to actually make a real try at a writing career isn’t bad. And I’m partway through a sequel to the first novel, as I hope to try to sell them as a pair for hopefully better luck finding an agent and publisher.
Not too bad for a year. Sure, the health issues weren’t fun, but at least they were issues that could be dealt with. Taken altogether, the good things absolutely outweigh the bad ones.
Makes me wonder what the next year will bring. Or the next decade, for that matter. I’m entering both with optimism.
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

So You Want To Be A Massage Therapist

Massage therapy really is an excellent choice for a career. The job market is actually pretty good, particularly compared to some others, or at least it is in my little corner of the world.
But what is it like, and what does it take to become one?
First and foremost, a little disclaimer. While many of my readers are local to me, there are also a fair few who are not. Requirements can differ pretty widely, especially once you hit the global level. What is true for most of Canada is not true for the United States, the UK, Australia, etc. I will mainly be speaking to my own experiences here, you will want to look into how things work for your area.
So, firstly, what is it really like? It is hard, glorious work. Massage therapy is one of those careers that requires exercise of both your brain and your muscles. Physically, it can be strenuous, especially once you venture into the realms of deep pressure. But you can’t just turn off your brain and exert yourself, as you do need to figure out what is actually causing discomfort/pain/tension/reduced mobility, etc, and help the client correct it.
You will get to meet and interact closely with a wide variety of people. How much you interact with the same people really depends on the sort of place you work. The place I work at, for example, has a high rate of regular clients as it is built around encouraging that. Someone working at a hotel spa, or the sort of clinic that specializes in injury recovery, may only see someone once or for a limited number of visits. Neither way is “better”, in and of itself, it all depends on where your preferences are. Mine are for building a working relationship with my clients and working with them to promote long term improvements in their physical health.
You don’t need to be an extrovert to do this job, though. I am not. In fact, I am a massive introvert socially, and quite comfortable being one. But I do enjoy one on one interactions with people, and that is precisely what I get. You also don’t need to be a chatty Kathy, as some clients prefer silence. On the other hand, some prefer to talk a lot. Don’t worry too much about being one or the other, whatever your style is, clients who prefer it will stick with you. What you do have to be is comfortable with being in close proximity to strangers. You will, after all, be all up in their personal space for extended periods of time. A healthy sense of boundaries, both yours and others, is important.
For the most part, I have found massage therapy to be a pretty low stress work environment. Generally speaking, the people you meet are very happy to be there. You are making them feel better, and most folks are nice to the person making them feel better. Is that always the case? No. You’ll encounter jerks no matter what career you follow, but the jerks, for me at least, have been an extreme minority. You’ll also get the very real satisfaction of feeling the positive changes you’re helping your clients achieve happen right under your hands.
So, yes, I think it’s a wonderful career choice. But how does one become a massage therapist?
Here in Canada, you can’t just decide to be one and go apply for a job. Or at least, you shouldn’t, and can’t in a lot of places. Here in Nova Scotia, a bill is currently being worked on to protect the term “massage therapist”. We call ourselves Registered Massage Therapists (RMT’s) because we are, in fact, registered with a professional association.
To achieve that state, you have to go to school. In most of Canada, that involves a 2200 hour long program. I’m going to be blunt here… that program is no cakewalk. I urge anyone considering this to contact their local colleges offering this training and find out in advance exactly what you’re going to be getting yourself in for. It is absolutely worth it, but it isn’t easy.
I didn’t just learn various ways to rub sore muscles. I learned an incredibly detailed amount of anatomy & physiology. I studied pathology, neurology and kinesiology. I did a course on medical research, and how to do it properly. Passing grade was 70%. Comprehensive exams lurked at the end of it all where we were again tested on everything and anything covered, with again, passing grade of 70%.
It was a lot of work. It was also a lot of fun. And at the end of the day, I came out of it with a deep understanding of exactly what I was doing, and thanks to copious hours working in the student clinic, a lot of real world experience, so that by the time I treated my very first client as a fully registered therapist, I knew exactly what I was doing.
Is massage therapy right for you? Honestly, I can’t answer that. But if it interests you, do check out your local colleges. If they have something like a student for a day program, go ahead and do it.  Ask any questions that crop up, and if it seems right, go for it. I haven’t regretted for one moment my decision to do this.
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Lessons From Failure

About a month ago, I announced that I had begun my second novel. Not only that, but I was going to finish it, or hit 50000 words before the end of November as part of NaNoWriMo.
I did not. In point of fact, I stalled out about halfway through the month at roughly 20000 words and ten chapters.
Technically, this counts as failure. I mean, I set a goal and didn’t meet it. Now, I could hang my head in shame. I could take this as a sign that I’m not cut out to be a writer. After all, I wrote my first novel in less than a month. Sure, it was super short at roughly 35000 words in the first draft, but I finished it. (And, yes, the second draft is more than twice as long)
I’m not going to do that, though. This little endeavour taught me a few important things. First and foremost, it taught me that this style of daily goal oriented writing simply does not work for me. The NaNoWriMo model gives you a daily suggested word count. It’s not static, mind you. It is the number of words left to reach your goal divided by the number of days left, or at least I think so. I found that super daunting.
Secondly, I don’t evidently like reporting daily progress when it comes to writing. With my first novel, the only goal I set for myself was “write something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph”. I managed that. I made progress every day. It was almost always far more than a paragraph, but on the odd day where I was super busy or tired, and only managed that little bit, I still felt as though I had accomplished something. Doing it this way made me feel as though I had failed more than once.
I also learned to listen to my gut. See, he place I stalled out was right after a day where doubling up was the theme. Double the words written, doubling up on donations, and the like. I decided I would surpass twice the number of words I’d managed so far. The trouble was, I’d had some super productive days already. Doubling that pushed me further than was reasonable. I wanted to stop, and didn’t. The next day, I felt burnt out, so took a day off. The next day was a work day, so I didn’t write anything. Then I felt ill the next day, and so on. I haven’t made any progress since then. I should have listened to my little inner voice.
I also learned that the NaNoWriMo template is really hard for me to use with my screen reader. Reporting my daily word count was very tricky, which led to frustration. Frustration is not a great state of mind in which to write.
But the most important lesson I learned is that it’s okay to fail. Not meeting my NaNoWriMo goal doesn’t mean I’m not going to finish this book. I am. I simply decided to put it on hold until the month was over and pick it up again without the pressure. Failure taught me what not to do in the future. Knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what works.
So, yes, technically I failed. But I also won, because I learned some hings about how I write, and that’s valuable.  I also learned that minor failures aren’t enough to dissuade me from this crazy dream of mine.
Onward and upward.
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

The Starless Sea – A Book Review

About seven years ago, The Night Circus was released, written by a debut novelist named Erin Morgenstern. It seemed to come out of nowhere and exploded onto bestseller lists everywhere, and with good reason. It was magical.
Ever since, I’ve periodically gone looking to see if she had released anything else, and to my chagrin the answer was always no. Then, in early October, while taking a peek at upcoming releases on Audible, Erin Morgenstern’s name popped up. The Starless Sea was clearly not a sequel to The Night Circus, and thank goodness for that, some stories should never be added to. No, this was a stand alone once more. Not read by the immensely talented Jim Dale this time, though. I was simultaneously elated and nervous. I had been eagerly awaiting more from her, but it had been so long now that I worried the anticipation might lead to disappointment. And did Jim Dale’s performance lend a magic to the first book that would now be lacking? Also… why did it take seven years to write this?
I shouldn’t have worried. The Starless Sea is just as good as The Night Circus, if not better. I can’t make up my mind on that, actually. Whatever magic she captured for the first book, she found yet again for the second. The narrators – there’s more than one this time – are just as good. And good lord, I now understand why this thing took seven years to get finished. Stories within stories. A narrative that doesn’t seem to be connected at first, but by the end all threads have been gathered together into a fantastic tapestry. It’s funny, but now that I’m trying to put together a novel myself, my appreciation of the sort of work that goes into a more complex storyline has risen by leaps and bounds. The Starless Sea, like The Night Circus, is complex storytelling at its finest, and is honestly beyond anything I could ever hope to write.
I keep saying that the magic is the same. But it also isn’t. Her two books are equally magical, but they are quite differently magical at the same time. She hasn’t just regurgitated the structure of her first book in a slightly different form. The story is vastly different, the plot elements are vastly different, the feel is vastly different. And good lord, but that is impressive.
Now, if you like a simpler storyline, this may not be the book for you. B does not follow A, and is not followed by C, and that isn’t for everyone. I’m not going to throw shade on anyone who feels that way, either. But if complicated, multi-layered storytelling is your cup of tea, and especially if stories about stories is your jam, check this book out.
And yes, my lack of saying anything about the plot of this is a deliberate choice. I couldn’t do it justice, and this is one of those books that it’s better for you to go in knowing as little as possible. Just check it out, in print or in audio.
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Disney Plus Or Minus?

Last week, a new streaming service came on the market. Most of you have heard of it by now. I’m talking about Disney Plus, of course. As any of you who regularly read me know by now, I am an enormous Disney fangirl, so it is surely no surprise that I’ve been anticipating this one for awhile. I had that app downloaded the moment it became available – that was about seven in the morning, for me. Thank goodness it dropped on a day that I wasn’t working.
But is it any good? And is it accessible?
Let’s answer that second one first. The short answer is yes. The longer answer? Mostly. Now, let me be clear that my experience is only with the IOS app. I don’t have any other devices, nor have I tried to stream anything from my laptop’s web browser, so I can’t speak for anything else. The app isn’t perfect, but it’s close. Nearly all buttons are labelled, which means that Voice Over (that’s the iphone’s text to speech native app) can read them. The interface is just a tiny bit clunky from the perspective of a blind user, but it does work. If the app has a fault, it is that the control interface vanishes during playback. In some other streaming apps, it doesn’t vanish if the app notices you using Voice Over. But it is a minor inconvenience only, and easy to bring up the controls with a split or double tap.
Much of the content has audio description, too. Now, look, it’s only been a week, and the library is enormous, so I can’t verify that a majority of things have it, but every bit of original programming I’ve watched has it, all modern movies with cinematic releases had it, and the oldest thing I’ve watched (Robin Hood, released in 1973) had it. What didn’t have it is anything from the Disney Channel. But I barely skimmed the surface of that particular well spring.
So yes, I deem it accessible. This fails to surprise me. Disney has audio description for many of its’ park rides, it clearly knows that blind people are part of the market.
Now. Is it any good?
Oh, my Disney, yes. The library is immense. Every Disney movie you can think of. No, really, I mean it. Every. Disney movie. Well, except Song Of The South, which will never again see the light of day, thank goodness. It has Avengers End Game. It has Davey Crockett. It has The Shaggy Dog. It has Mr. Boogity, which I’m not sure anyone but myself remembers fondly. It has Duck Tales. It has Gargoyles (ahem, this may have been the first thing I watched.) No matter how old you are, Disney Plus has something to hit the nostalgia button for you.
It also has new stuff. Now, granted, the original content for opening day was limited, but it was mostly all really good. The Mandalorian is a Star Wars universe live action show, but you could enjoy this if your knowledge of SW doesn’t extend much beyond Yoda, exploding Death Stars and dudes with light-up sword things. Not that any of the light up swords have shown up. There is also a documentary series called The Imagineering Story which follows the history and creation of Disney parks, which you know I’m going to be watching. Encore is like ahigh school reunion meets musical theatre… getting together the cast of past high school productions years later and getting them to do it again. It’s… interesting. Those are the ones I’ve seen, though there are a few more. Interestingly, Disney is veering away from the binge viewing model, and releasing episodes weekly.
More new stuff will be coming in the future, includeing a lot of Marvel original content. Some of it I am excited for, some not.
As for the price? It’s competitive. Less expensive than Netflix, certainly, at just under nine bucks a month. There is also a week’s free trial, if you’re just not sure.
So, put together great old content that you might not find anywhere else, fascinating new things to be excited about, competitive pricing and pretty good accessibility, and you have a streaming service I’ll be sticking with.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go watch The Great Mouse Detective.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

The Freedom to Choose

This week marks Remembrance Day. In fact, while this post won’t go up today, it currently is November 11 as I sit down to write this.
Additionally, here in Canada we recently held our Federal election. In the US, next year will see there own.
What do those two things have to do with one another? Those fallen soldiers, and all those who fought and returned to us, did so to ensure our freedom. Freedom from oppression, yes, but also the freedom to do something like choosing our leader. Many gave their lives for that freedom. Many returned with scars, some visible and some not. For my own part, the veteran I was closest to was my great uncle Neil, who fought in World War II. Neil was a kind, gentle man who loved to make furniture. He also liked to talk. But I never once heard him talk about the war. He was proud of his work with the Legion, he participated every Remembrance Day, but he would not talk about the war. I’ve always thought that this fact told me all I need to know about what those brave souls faced.
All so we could have that freedom.
Which brings me around to elections. We seem to be living in an increasingly divisve world. This is not a phenomenon relegated to just one nation, but many. Yes, division has always been part and parcel of the whole humanity thing, but the “us vs them” mentality seems to be increasingly pronounced. I’m seeing more and more incidents of “if you don’t vote for the party/person I voted for, I don’t want anything to do with you”.
I can understand feeling angry about who may or may not be in power where you live. It’s a touchy subject, especially these days. Or, on the reverse, being angry at the anger you seee directed against your chosen person. But we seem to be getting angrier and angrier at one another.
Look, here’s the thing. Be angry in the face of injustice. Speak up against racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of prejudice. Those are things worth your passion and your anger. But we need to stop with the belief that anyone who disagrees with us is bad.
That’s not the freedom they fought for. That’s not what those countless sacrifices were made for. And hate and anger are not, at the end of the day, very effective tactics in convincing anyone to see things your way.
Be bold. Be passionate. Just please, try to remember to hold onto compassion for the other side, too. We all deserve the freedom to make our choices. You deserve your choice, even if it isn’t my choice.
We’re all in this together.
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Newsvember

It’s the start of a new month. Granted, it isn’t usually the most cheerful or exciting month of the year here in Canada, without even Thanksgiving to bring some warmth to the heart.
However, for me, this November is an exciting one. I have two bits of news to share with you all.
First, I’ve begun writing my second novel. Why on earth would I do this before my first has reached a state of completion? A few reasons. Firstly, with the second draft done, it is at a stage where only minimal changes will need to be made, minor fixes in response to beta feedback. No more full rewrites there. The story and plot points will likely remain as they are. That makes it safe to venture into new territory, as my second book is its sequel. Second, I have a feeling that it may be easier to pich two completed books in the same series to a literary agent than just one. And should, heavens forfend, no one wan these books, then it’s still practice. Finally, ther’s NaNoWriMo, which for those who don’t know is a writing program that happens every November, where you try to write one book or 50000 words in 30 days.
I’ve always wanted to try doing this, but before this month I didn’t really believe that I had the capacity to write a complete novel. Prior to this time last year, I didn’t have any good ideas, either, and last year the basis for the two novels had yet to flesh itself out. This time, I have the confidence and the idea, and have already made significant progress.
Without giving anything away from the first book, I will say that this one picks up a few years after the first, and will reintroduce all major players from the first to varying degrees, flesh out the world more, introduce new areas and fulfill some clues I peppered through the first book.
Now, the second news? As of this moment, I am pleased to announce that I am now a freelance writer. That is to say, I will get paid for some things I write. I have signed a contract as a contributer to a professional blog that will soon be starting. It remains to be seen how often they’ll want pieces from me, but however much I write, this is a big and exciting step for me. I’m not going to announce where just yet, that will come when I am actually published for the first time, but this is fantastic.
At the start of 2019, I had no idea that I was capable of any of this. I didn’t think I could maintain a weekly blog. Writing a novel seemed like a pipe dream. Getting paid for the words I write was a pleasant daydream. Yet, here I am, able to claim all three as things I achieved. And the year isn’t even over yet.
What will 2020 bring? Time will tell.
ps: The first two books even have names. The first is Spring Thaw, the second is Changing Tide.
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to https://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every Wednesday.

Costumes and Disguises

Ah, Halloween. The time of year when we don costumes and pose as something other than what we are. When children roam the streets in search of treats.

 
I love Halloween. I always have. Dressing up is fun, and not something that an adult can often get away with. I’ll be doing so tomorrow at work. I wish sometimes that I could get away with it more often.

 
The thing is, though, that I do. We all do. We all wear disguises of a sort. We do it all the time. It’s just that our disguises have nothing to do with fancy clothing, makeup or masks. Not physical ones.

 
Don’t you ever feel like no one, or perhaps only very few, know the real you? That you have to wear a mask of sorts to hide something? That if the world knew your true feelings on something, you would be judged?

 
Or perhaps you feel like an imposter. Like you are only pretending to know what you’re doing professionally. As though your colleagues are actually better and more knowledgeable than you are, so you must pretend.

 
I think that we all feel like that at least some of the time. Look at my own case. Here I am, posting every week, trying to be incisive or thoughtful. Trying to portray an image of myself. It isn’t the real me, of course. All of my flaws aren’t exactly put on display here. Or that’s how I feel.

 
The thing is, those thoughts and feelings aren’t quite realistic, either. These disguises that we all wear aren’t lies, even though we sometimes think that they are. I’m not lying to the world in these posts. You aren’t lying to the world when you use your talents and expertise out in the real world. True, we aren’t showing the real world everything, but we’re showing them something.

 
We wear a disguise that we identify with at some level. Just as at Halloween, we choose a costume that we identify with. No, I didn’t ever think I was a witch, or a playing card, or a princess. But I found something in those choices – all things I did dress up as for Halloween at some point as a child – that appealed to me.

 
I think the truth lies somewhere in between. The world doesn’t see everything, and doesn’t need to. But we aren’t as far from that disguise as we fear we are, either.

 
So. Go forth and don your costumes tomorrow, if that appeals to you. Who knows, you may just be showing the world a facet of yourself that you try to hide.

 
Happy Halloween!

 
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to http://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every week on Wednesdays.

A Few Of My Favourite Authors

Stardust by Gaiman and anything by McGuire
Discworld by Pratchett with wit that inspires.
Books that take flight like a bird on the wing
These are a few of my favourite things.

 
Okay, so. I find it hard to answer the question “What’s your favourite book”. I don’t have a favourite book. Perhaps I might in a given moment, but that says more about my mood when asked than it does overall preference.

 
I do have favourite authors, though.

 
Neil Gaiman. The man can write and narrate. I’m fairly sure I could listen to him reciting the proverbial phonebook, but he’d have to find one first. I might not love all of his books equally, but I do at least enjoy every little thing he’s written, and love quite a lot of it. From his whimsical short stories to his entrancing novels. He does good screenplays, too. ‘Stardust’ is an audiobook I often turn to when I’m feeling stressed, listening to him reading it is soothing in a way I can’t adequately put into words.

 
Sir Terry Pratchett. I’m still not over his untimely departure from us, even if his final novel was very much a farewell to his readers. It wasn’t closure enough. Nor were the epic tweets he’d written in advance to be released. Mind how you go, Sir Terry. I find that you can just enjoy his books as light, fluffy reads by only paying attention to the surface, in which case they’re amusing. But if you start to think about what he’s actually saying, there’s layers and layers of meaning, most of it satirical and exceedingly witty.

 
Jim Butcher is one of those writers that grew on me. I started reading him after encountering a short story based in the universe of his Dresden Files series. It made me laugh out loud, so I bought the first book. The first three were light reads. Then it started getting epic. Then it started with the emotional gut punches while still having bits that made me laugh. Yes, some of it is downright ridiculous, but if you can get past that, you’ll find a lot worth reading.

 
Seanan McGuire has a very near and dear place in my heart. She’s a brilliant writer, to start with. That would be enough, but the truth is that I used to play online, text-based roleplaying games with her, a very long time ago, and she was part of a crowd that hung out with me on a chat-based place. We were never close or anything, I likely remember her a lot better than she does me, and she met me in my unfortunate early days of gaming, I’m sure I was an annoying pain in the backside then. Neither one of us plays those games anymore, but because I also used to get her amusing little emailed newsletters before she started actually publishing, I knew enough about her to recognize her work when it got released. Girl freaking won the John W. Campbell award for best debut novel. That wasn’t enough, so she later won a Hugo for best novella. Of everyone I’ve read, McGuire is the one that convinced me it was possible for me to also write. Plus, I just plain love her books. At least the ones in the fantasy genre. I don’t do horror… but she does, so if you’re into that, check her out under the pen name Mira Grant as well.

 
David Eddings still has a place in my heart, though I’m not sure his books have aged so well. They’re sort of a guilty pleasure for me. I do still reread them. And at least some of the women in them are strong and independant, though many are written as unfortunately manipulative. Still, I was madly into his stuff in junior high, so reading him is a nice trip down memory lane.

 
J. K. Rowling does need a mention, though my adoration has cooled in recent years. I’ll always love the Harry Potter books, but enough is enough, lady.

 
Guy Gavriel Kay and Charles deLint are fantastic Canadian writers. Kay writes poetically without being overblown about it. deLint’s world is one I want to live in.

 
Now. All of those are fantasy authors. Largely, that’s what I read. It’s what I like. And I’m not going to pretend to really dig Wuthering Heights. The only Pride and Prejudice I enjoyed was the version with zombies in. Though I don’t usually like zombie stories.

 
I do occasionally enjoy a good book out of the genre. ‘You’ was great, though I’ve never wanted to revisit it, probably because it’s also disturbing. I even enjoyed the first two Dan Brown books before he fell into the trap of being formulaic. But I always come back to fantasy. Just as well, since it’s also what I like to write.

 
There are more. I could make this into a very, very long post, but I’ll leave it there for now.
Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to http://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every week on Wednesdays.

Giving Thanks

It was Thanksgiving this past weekend up here in Canada, so I thought that this week, I would talk about gratitude.

There is much in my life that I am grateful for. All in all, I’m a pretty lucky woman.

I am blessed with a family that I love, who loves me back. We may be a bit spread out with my sister, brother in law and nieces living overseas, but in this day and age that is no barrier to closeness. I have parents who love and support me who were there growing up. I have a brilliant and talented older sister, and two young nieces who are geniuses. I’m not biased at all there.  I have a terrific extended family, full of wonderful aunts, uncles and cousins, and more recently acquired step family who are terrific.

I have a career that I love. Massage therapy doesn’t just keep a roof over my head, it feeds my soul. It gives me the ability to help others in a very tangible way, and gives me the opportunity to meet a variety of interesting and truly wonderful people. I get to work with some very talented, kind and funny people who I look forward to seeing each week.

I live in a fantastic city in a wonderful country. I’ve had the chance to live briefly in other parts of the country and world, but Halifax is the place I keep coming back to. It’s just the right size, neither too large nor too small. I live in a country that isn’t perfect by any means, but is still wonderful. I am particularly grateful for our healthcare system. If I get sick, I don’t need to worry about going into massive debt, and given my history of vision problems, that has been significant. I have loved some of the other places I’ve lived, too, ranging from northern England to Washington, D.C., but this place is my true home.

I am grateful for the chance to write like this. You all have been receptive, and seem to enjoy reading my occasionally far-ranging thoughts, so I am also grateful for all of you.  Your encouragement and support means the world to me.

Finally, I am grateful for the negative things I have encountered, especially vision loss. I think our challenges shape us. How we overcome them, and even more so how we accept them. I would not be the person that I became without them. True, I didn’t exactly appreciate them at the time they were happening, but looking back on them, I can only show gratitude.

To my fellow Canadians, I hope that you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. To everyone else… well, if you are American, I hope you have a terrific one next month, and if you are not I convey my condolences that you don’t get Thanksgiving, as I absolutely love it.

ps: My apologies for last week’s lack of a blog. I caugh the virus that was going around and spent significant parts of the week in bed. It takes a lot to keep me from the keyboard, but that did it.

Want to follow or interact with me on social media? Find me on Twitter by following @jennifermorash or head over to http://www.facebook.com/jennifermorashblog. I post blogs every week on Wednesdays.