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My Trip to Imaginairium

I hope everyone has had a good couple of weeks. I thought it was just a week ago that I last posted, and realized I haven’t written anything since the ninth. Shame on me!

I enjoyed my time at Imaginairium, and for those of you who follow my author Instagram, you will have seen my posts. For those of you who don’t, feel free to do so. I don’t post there daily, but I prefer quality over quantity.

We are getting a taste of winter today, complete with blowing snow. It doesn’t make me happy, because so many crops are still out in the field. It’s going to be a tough year for the farmers if they can’t get the harvesting done because of the weather. 

Now, let me backtrack a little and tell you a bit about my trip to Calgary for Wordfest’s Imaginairium. My drive down was mostly uneventful, aside from getting a rock in my windshield which has led to a crack at least twelve inches long, so far. (My glass guy says it’s not fixable, so I will wait and see what happens through the winter. If the crack obstructs my line of vision, I’ll be getting a new windshield sooner than I had anticipated.)

When I got to Calgary I was quite impressed with the fact I didn’t have to rely on my GPS to get to my home-away-from-home. I surprised myself on that one. It has been over a year since I was in Calgary, so I was afraid I wouldn’t remember where my turnoff was.

My first day of Imaginairium was a little stressful, and it started with the public transit driver not being very helpful. Thankfully I had my phone and I utilized my GPS to navigate where I needed to be once I got off the bus. I walked several blocks to the new Central Public Library downtown, and was quite overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. I’m sure our little library would have fit in the main entryway.

My first event was at Memorial Library, which is several blocks away. Even with all of the walking, I still managed to get into the event before my first scheduled one. I was quite pleased about that, because I was ready for a break. Having a pass for the entire week was beneficial.

A neat thing the organizers did this year was to have attendees collect beads from each event. Apparently it was the first year to try it, and I think it was well-received. I enjoyed being able to add a bead to my bracelet at the beginning of each event I attended. Each was different, and there was one special author bead in each bag. I didn’t get any of the special ones, but for those who did it would have been quite exciting.

For me the most memorable event was the one by author Michael Christie when he talked about his latest book Greenwood. It spans over four generations, and talks about trees, family roots and climate change. I have yet to read it, but have my very own autographed copy for when I am able to sit down with it. I briefly spoke with Michael while he was signing it for me, and he is a down-to-earth gentleman. I wish him all the best with his books.

In addition to me attending several of the events, I also took some time to go to Cross Iron Mills. I started at one end where I bought myself some new walking shoes, and ended at the other end where I spent well over an hour in the Indigo bookstore. I ended up leaving there with five books; one of them being the Writer’s Guide to Character Traits Second Edition. It will come in handy when I’m writing my stories.

I highly recommend attending an event such as Wordfest’s Imaginairium to writers and readers alike. For me it was a step outside of my comfort zone, but I am happy with my decision. Perhaps one day I will be in front of the room telling the audience about my books.

Photo Credit: Diane Ziomek
I took this after the event. Note the beads on the bracelet (his is the first from the left); I did add a few from additional events.

With all that being said, I’m gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, which begins November 1st. I have a basic plot figured out, but my characters will need to help me out with my story. It’s going to be a busy month with working, writing and getting ready for our local Christmas Extravaganza Craft Market.

Have a great week!

Diane

Growing as a Person Never Ends

Working part-time and freelancing has its advantages. Today I am helping out with the harvest.

It is my job today to watch the grain drier. We’ve had a wet summer and fall, so putting wet wheat into the bins is not a good idea. The grain drier does just that; dries the grain so it can be safely stored until it is trucked to the grain elevators.

I’m fortunate I am able to take my work with me. We only live a quarter-mile away from my father-in-law’s, but I prefer to stay at his house so I can keep a better eye on the equipment. I do a walk-around every fifteen minutes, just to make sure all is running smoothly.

Living in a farming community is exactly where I like to be. Having grown up on a farm, I still enjoy the quiet and wide open spaces. I’ve done my share of living in cities and towns, and am so fortunate to be able to have a rural home again.

Before my dad passed away five years ago, I spent a good portion of the fall hauling bales, swathing and combining. I miss him every day, but even more so this time of year. It was when him and I spent the most time together.

Setting the farm talk aside for awhile I’d like to talk a bit about growing as people. It doesn’t matter how old we are, there’s always an opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes life itself teaches us the biggest lessons.

One of the biggest things I have learned is that as a writer, I have to go out and get what I want. Sitting around waiting for someone to notice me and my work is not time well spent. Being an introvert doesn’t make putting myself out there easy, but it is something I must do if I want to succeed as an author.

And to get a better feel for what it takes to make it in the writing world, I have purchased an event pass for Wordfest’s Imaginairium in Calgary Alberta. The event runs from October 14 – 23, and will host a number of speakers each day. I will be attending from the 17th to the 20th, as I am unable to go for longer than that. As a relatively new member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta, I am excited to learn of the writer events available. (I’m going to allow myself one day to drive there, and another to drive home. And I’ll be back in plenty of time to cast my ballot at the polls on the 21st.) My goal for attending the Imaginairium is to connect with other writers and speakers, with the intention of building some friendships beyond the event.

To attend such a large event on my own is both scary and exciting for me. This is where growing as a person comes into play. Without stepping outside of my comfort zone I may never realize my full potential as a writer, or as a contributing member of the literary world.

No matter how old we are, there’s always room to learn and grow. Farmers can learn to utilize technology to be more efficient, and writers can learn to go after what they want in their careers. And no matter who you are, there’s always a learning and growing opportunity just around the corner.

To wrap up this post (I know, it has been a long one) I would like to briefly step back to the beginning of it. If you live in a farming community, enjoy it and never take it for granted. If you’re an urban dweller, I encourage you to pay a visit to a nearby farm. I’m sure you’ll gain some new insight on what farmers do and how they contribute to your food supply. And if you’re also a writer, your experience can be used as story fodder.

Have a great week,

Diane

Photo credit: Diane Ziomek Copyright 2019. My part in helping with the harvest.

My Week in Review

I hope everyone has had a good week and weekend. Mine has been busy with my writing course, a couple extra shifts at work and getting my site updated. The latter was fun for me, and it really made me think about where I want to go in my writing career.

I write almost every single day. My journal is my thinking space, and it provides me with a place to voice my concerns, share my worries and come up with story ideas. Some days are vent days, while others are more productive.

My writing courses have been an eye opener for me in terms of what readers expect from different types of writing. I’ve been utilizing what I’ve learned so far, and can’t wait to see the results.

Even without formal training, I’ve had plenty of positive feedback from clients. Updating my website helped me realize that my work has been valuable to others, and has provided great content for their sites. What more could a person ask for?

Having short stories published has also been good for easing the self-doubt most (if not all) writers harbor occasionally. Polar Expressions Publishing holds annual contests for short stories, and my work has appeared in Shoreline (2016 Summer Collection) and Wherever We Roam (2015 Summer Collection). Seeing them in print among others gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Submitting articles on behalf of our library to a local newspaper helps me exercise my skills as well. There is never a lot of space for an article, so saying all that’s needed in less than 150 words can sometimes be a challenge. I envy those who can write flash fiction, because in some cases a newspaper article is much like that. Short, sweet and to the point.

As you may be aware, I do not spend my entire time writing. I also enjoy crocheting, spinning yarn and needle-felting. Yesterday I invested in a drum carder to make the process of carding my alpaca fiber easier and faster. I have several big bags of it, as well as no less than a dozen smaller bags. Plus I also have four bags of raw sheep wool. Do you think that will keep me busy for awhile?

Crocheting and spinning are my way to relax, and I often find my stories taking shape while I work with my hands. I’m the first to say I’m not much of a plotter, but when a story takes hold I will run with it. If any of you have read The Hidden Estate, you’ll see my hobbies have worked their way into the novel. It was the first novel I ever wrote, and those who have read it have given it a good rating which makes any new author do a little happy dance.

As I wrap up this post, I have to remind myself to take the time to just be. My mind is often going in several directions at once (are all writers like this?), and I have to center myself. And as a writer, I like a challenge. I have my usual topics to write about, but have found satisfaction in writing about something out of my element as well. Should you ever find yourself needing a blog post or article for your website, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Have a great week everyone,

Diane

Getting ready for another couple ounces of alpaca fiber.

Photo credit Copyright Diane Ziomek 2019. The photo is of my new drum carder, taken after I carded some dyed alpaca fiber.

Last Minute Decision Pays Off

I have to admit, I’m a little frugal when it comes to spending my money on something I feel I don’t really need. Or for something I feel is an indulgence.

We occasionally host workshops at the library for different things, and I generally don’t attend for one reason or another. Most often that reasoning is only logical to me I’m sure. Well, on Friday we were hosting a Sea Glass Art Workshop, and after seeing all the pretty things for it I commented to my manager I regretted not signing up. As luck would have it, there had been a last minute cancellation.

I decided on the spot to take advantage of it, and said I would fill that space available. I honestly didn’t give the frugal side of me a chance to list 101 reasons why I shouldn’t take it (it was $160.00) and am happy with my decision.

It was a last minute decision that paid off, because not only did I have a fun evening, I also came home with a piece of art which I created. The design was inspired by a photo found on Pinterest, and was so simple to make. We had a wonderful, knowledgeable instructor who owns her own studio (Shattered and in Pane) in Victoria, BC, Canada. It was a real treat to know she loaded up her supplies and drove them from Victoria to Mannville, AB., just so we could create our own works of art.

I see myself taking what I learned and buying some supplies to make more pieces. I think it’s something my sisters and I could do together, as well as my daughter and I. Not only will we be creating art, we’ll also be creating memories. And at this point in life, I am realizing that’s what’s most important. Creating the memories, having the laughs and drinking that special bottle of wine.

I spent the evening with some amazing women, and even though we were all given the same materials to work with, none of the finished projects were the same. I’m pretty sure mine was the only turtle though.

The photo (also posted on Instagram) is of my creation after a few hours of curing time. It won’t be ready for the wall for another day, just to be on the safe side. Oh, and the turtle’s name is Fred.

The point to all of this is, don’t be afraid to try something new. You never know how something will be until you give it a try. (And if money is an object, perhaps you could start a little side hustle to fund the little extras you deserve.)

On another note, I’ll be adding a few pages to my site over the next couple of weeks so feel free to check back often to see what I’m up to. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and have a great week.

Diane

It’s a ME Day

I hope you have all had a great weekend. Mine was good, and the weather even cooperated so I could bring in part of my garden. Yesterday wasn’t as nice, so I worked on cleaning out the bathroom cabinet and figuring out a plan for my bedroom closet.

Today I decided to make it a ME day, and drove to a small city less than an hour from home. I bought some organizers for my closet and pantry, ordered some new glasses and spent time in the bookstore. I have been spending so much time either working, doing yard work and my course, I decided today was a good day to just do something for me.

Plus, I bought a spinning wheel. It’s different than the one I have, and needs a little TLC to get it working properly. I have my sister to thank for noticing it listed on a local Facebook Group. I can’t wait to get it set up and working right. I’ll bring it inside tomorrow; tonight it’s going to stay in my Jeep. I’m not quite sure where to put it yet, so need to figure that out before I bring it inside.

As part of my ME day, I decided to do some crocheting this evening. As I walked down the yarn aisle in Walmart I spotted some nice blanket yarn. I think it will be perfect for a throw for the new sectional. I don’t think it’s going to be very big, because I only bought two balls of it. But, it’ll be perfect to keep my cold feet warm as I write.

And yes, I tend to be most productive writing when I’m sitting in a comfy spot. When I’m comfortable I get a lot more accomplished, and the words flow freely. My desk and computer chair don’t usually produce the number of words I can come up with when I’m relaxed in my “spot”. Granted, I’m going to have a new spot when the new furniture gets here Wednesday. If I’m right, the chaise part of the new furniture will be perfect.

It’s going to be warm!

I don’t usually take a ME day, but with the next course starting on Wednesday I decided to regenerate a little. It’s important to take the time for ourselves, and I know I need to practice what I preach a little more often. So, tonight the computer will stay off and as soon as I finish this post, my iPad will be set aside as well.

Do you find yourself taking on too much sometimes? What helps you get everything done while keeping your sanity?

Have a wonderful week!

Diane

Photo credit Diane Ziomek. It’s the first half-dozen rows of my blanket yarn throw.

Back to School

Okay, I know you’re probably thinking “Whaaat?”. Actually, it’s me who’s going back to school, not my kids. Although, I do have their full support on it.

It’s not a traditional classroom or schedule by any means, but it does mean work and dedication on my part.

Let me back up just a little.

As some of you know, I am an independent author in addition to a library assistant. As my LA position is very part-time (six days a month), I am wanting to further my writing career. I love to write, and do just for the sake of writing. Sometimes I sell a book, pattern or printable, but it’s not enough to add to my nest egg. (And we all know how important having one of them is.)

Anyway, I recently became a member of the Writer’s Guild of Alberta. While perusing the Members area, I found out about a conference in Banff in October, plus some provincial colleges that offer distance learning. To add to my excitement, I realized GPRC offers writing courses. I haven’t had any formal training or education as far as writing goes, so decided to register for a couple. I mean, it can’t hurt can it?

When I told my kids about it, then made a comment about my age, they both said “You got this!”. It’s wonderful to have their support.

The photo is of my bubbles showing the topics I am including in my upcoming Reference Guide for Romance Authors.

I spent some time on the first one last night, and am working on it again today. One of the lessons stresses the use of bubbling (or mind mapping), which I haven’t done much of. My first attempt was on a loose leaf sheet of lined paper, but today I bought a larger pad of paper; simply because I ran out of room.

It’s never too late to enroll in a class, nor is it never too late to begin a writing career. Or if writing isn’t your thing, then that’s okay too. There are plenty of other career choices available if you’re not happy in your current one.

With the distance learning options available, there’s no reason why anyone can’t learn something new. And for those who are happy in your career, what about taking a crafting class? Or perhaps learn more about a hobby? The possibilities are endless. I can see myself delving a little deeper into the writing field; perhaps deep enough to earn a full time income.

Before I close this post, I am curious to know: have you changed careers or taken a course online after the age of fifty? (And for the readers who aren’t in that age group yet, do you see yourself pursuing an online education to change or expand your career ?)

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, as well as the other trials and tribulations of being over fifty. Have a great week!

Diane

Remembering Dad, and Living Life

Two weeks ago I started a post which was to be dedicated to the fifth anniversary since my dad suddenly passed away. Needless to say, that post didn’t get very far. It was an emotional day for me, but I made the best of it.

My sisters and I had talked about getting together but hadn’t really figured anything out. I decided to throw together a quick meal and took it to my younger sister’s house, where we all got together. It was a simple meal, a beer to toast him and we parted ways. Sometimes the quick meals and get-togethers are the most memorable.

The following couple of days were spent vehicle shopping, and I settled on a 2016 Jeep Patriot. Let’s just say I have Dad to thank. I just wish he was here to see it. I’m sure he would have liked my choice. (Photo below.)

Last week was a work week; and I never seem to get much else accomplished when it’s a work week. I did take Wednesday and went to visit my best friend; something I need to do more of. We used to call each other regularly, and visit frequently when our kids were little. As the kids grew, life got in the way and our time together was all but nonexistent.

Losing both of my parents in less than three and a half years of one another made me realize just how quickly life can change. My best friend lost her mom and step-dad in an accident in April of this year, and so many lives were affected. What I’m saying is we never know what tomorrow will bring, so we need to take advantage of today.

We all have such busy lives, although technology was supposed to make it easier. I think we need to all take a step back sometimes and put the phones and computers away, and just go visit family and friends. No one is going to regret not working, but they will (and so often do) regret not spending time with each other. I know I have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to spending time with friends.

Something else I did today was surprise my daughter at work. Seeing her eyes light up when I walked into the office was so worth it. And it probably didn’t hurt to have an Iced Cappuccino in hand for her either. 🙂

It’s those moments that really count, and make life worth living. I can burn the midnight oil and get my work done (current WIP is a reference guide for romance authors) after the house is quiet. Enjoying my time with my kids is worth losing sleep over.

Photo by Diane Ziomek. My new SUV.

Do you take time to visit family and friends?