My Birthday and Christmas, in Pictures

First stop after picking up the fam from the airport: the liquor store. As nothing gets you into the Christmas spirit more than a whole lotta spirits.

My Mum brought this TP with her. Awesome.

Birthday pedicures! 

Champagne and ice cream cake. The best birthday combo.

Amazing animal print balloons! The Remix knows me so well...

Getting into the festive spirit for Christmas cooking!

First up, my Grandma's secret bread recipe, made into garlic parmesan monkey bread. 

Christmas turkey supper with all of the trimmings, after being brined to perfection by my Mum (as I loathe touching raw poultry...*shudders*)

Ahh, family....

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! I know that I sure did!

And Happy New Year!


The Nail Files: Seche Away

The Nail Files Link Up

When my awesome Sequel Christmas Mani chipped the DAY before Christmas, I had no choice but to put together a quick polish change because naked nails are the worst, especially in pictures. However, it kind of worked out because I got to try a new polish! Yay!

After a delightful birthday pedicure with my Mum, we popped next door to Sally's and she treated me to a whole whack of nail-related things. One of them being Seche's new limited edition colour: Collage Overlay! It's my first Seche polish ever and aside from being disappointed with the utterly uncreative name, its multidimensional glitter (in three shapes no less) is so pretty that it evens out the blah name. 

Two coats of Paper Mâché, one coat of Collage Overlay on all fingers except feature, which has one coat of It's a Trap-eze!

Now, Collage Overlay is beau-ti-ful but be warned that the chunky pieces of white glitter are HUGE! I have freakishly big and curved nail beds and even with a couple coats of top coat, I could still feel the edges of the larger octagons. You can't really see them in the picture because I layered it over a white polish, but rest assured, they're there. I love how the sparkles change in different light and although I thought that they'd need a second coat, I'm happy that I stuck with one because I think that the straight sparkles would overpower the larger ones. And, as always, It's a Trap-eze! is freaking fantastic and makes my little heart soar with glee. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

And, again, thanks to Tara and Vicki for hosting!


The Nail Files: Sequel Christmas Mani

The Nail Files Link Up

Santa's almost here, HE'S ALMOST HERE!!


Oh man, the anticipation is CRAZY!

So, in order to pass the time, I spent a long time on my mani this week after pinning my little face off. Side note: WHAT DID I DO BEFORE PINTEREST?

Here's what I used:

Err...I also used It's A Trap-eze but forgot to take a picture of it. Can you blame me, though? I used so many! Also, I've just noticed that I misspelt You Don't Know Jacques. *headdesk*

And here's what I did with all of them!

Candy Cane Pinkys: One coat of Paper Mâché, followed by stripes of Dovima and I'm Not Lion.

Ring Finger Presents: Three coats of Creative Fantasy, DS Coronation cross and bows with a thin line of Paper Mâché overtop so the sparkles are more in the background.

Middle Finger Trees: Two coats of Paper Mâché, then random sized dots of Turned Up Turquoise, In The Lime Light, Ski Teal We Drop, and Running in Circles. And for the top, a dot of Felicity

Pointer Finger Icicles: One coat of Paper Mâché, one coat of It's A Trap-eze, two coats of Creative Fantasy, gooped on with a small brush to make it look like the polish was literally melting off.

And for the grande finale:


One coat of Paper Mâché, one coat of DS Coronation, I'm Not Jacques for the head and ears, Dovima and Glitter All The Way for the nose, and Black Expressionism for the mouth, pupils and antlers. Originally, they didn't have mouths but I thought they looked weird. That said, I'm not too happy with how they look but since it was an afterthought and they were already done and I wasn't about to re-do them.

Have a wonderful holiday week, everyone!!

ps. Turns out that when I changed the primary email address of my blog, I became a noreply commenter! Oh, the HORROR! I believe that I've rectified the situation so my sincerest of apologies for the last month-or-so of comments I've left on other's blogs. 

Thanks to Tara and Vicki for hosting!


If Only I Were Oprah...

A few nights ago, I was trolling the internet and found a link for Oprah’s most recent Favourite Things episode. Now, I was slightly confused as I thought that Oprah had gone off the air but that’s really neither here nor there. As I read about all the fancypant presents that Oprah would be giving her audience of military spouses (ballin’ idea), I couldn’t help but wonder (haha)….what would I give away if I had the opportunity? I mean, I often get complimented on my somewhat eclectic fashion sense, and my plethora of funny home furnishing ideas, so really, if money were no object (read: corporately sponsored), I’m pretty sure that I’d (lovingly) kick Oprah’s butt (I can’t say “ass" because it’s Oprah).

Side note: Sometimes I’m competitive with people who aren’t aware that we’re competing.

Additional side note: I often win. 

Oprah picked 60 items and…well…I’m not going to do that as I’m not sure if I could think of 60 favourite things. I mean, that’s a lot of stuff! SIXTY favourite things? Who has that kind of time or disposable income to be able to try out that many new things?

(Oprah. The answer is Oprah.)

Since I'm not Oprah, I've put together a much smaller list. 

So, in no particular order, here are my current favourite things:

1. Gurgle Pot
Here's the deal: I freaking LOVE my gurgle pot. Not only is it really pretty but, when filled with liquid (we use it for milk) it makes the most glorious gurgling sound as it pours out. Hence the name: Gurgle Pots. They also make a really cute vase.

Ordering Gurgle Pots is a bit of an issue if you're in Canada but pretty simple if you're in the USA.

2. Personal, Indoor S’mores Machine

Do you live in an urban area and have little access to campfires, therefore living in a perpetual state of s'more craving? Then this little contraption is for you!

I gave my Baby Brother one of these puppies for his birthday this year and, after personally sampling a few, I'm able testify to its awesomeness. In less than two minutes, the marshmallows are perfectly browned and oh, so gooey. The little stakes rotate themselves so it's as easy as setting the timer and walking away. Of course, it's probably not the best idea to just walk away but the self-rotating stakes give you just enough time to prepare your graham cracker and chocolate.

The company's called Nostalgia Electrics and they also make popcorn and cotton candy machines, which I have my eye on, obviously.

3. Chalkboard Paint
Rust-Oleum Specialty - Chalkboard Paint - Black (887ml) - N1913 504 - Home Depot Canada
This paint has been blowing up all of the home fashion magazines this year and it's for good reason--it's amazing! We painted our main floor bathroom with it and it's pretty much the best decision we've ever made. It's our go-to place to leave notes for each other, make countdown calendars for special events, and when we have a party, everyone contributes to a theme (under the sea, a ski hill, beach vacation).

Excuse the dated watermark, I was too lazy to change it.

The paint comes in a variety of colours and can be found at The Home Depot. And if you want to take it to the next level, prime the walls with a magnetic primer! Yes, magnetic primer.

4. Kelly Moore Camera Bag

I.love.this.bag. When I got my fancy Canon T2i a couple of years ago, I was sad with the boring camera bags that were available. Why can't there be a camera bag that looks like a cute purse? I wondered. And then, I discovered Kelly Moore camera bags and everything changed. This is the one that I have (a present from my Baby Brother). She's a Mimi and I LOVE that she's functional and fashionable. There are a ton of different styles to choose from and there are constantly introducing new colours. The inside of the bags are soft and each one comes with velcro dividers so you can customize the layout to suit your needs. Total genius.

5. Books: Gone Girl, Let’s Pretend This Never Really Happened, Yours Truly, Kissed in Paris, Between The Lines. Click on the titles to read my reviews on why they're so awesome. Err...and then go buy them.

6. Acti-Fry
Tefal Actifry
I love french fries. Repeat: I.love.french.fries. However, I also like my size 8 jeans and unfortunately, the two don't go hand-in-hand. Or do they? The acti-fry is unbelievable as it takes a mere tablespoon of oil for up to FOUR servings of fries! And they're DELICIOUS! Not quite the same as traditional deep fried fries but certainly crispier than ones baked in the oven. Sometimes we use it to make pineapple chicken curry, but it's mostly for the fries. They're hella expensive but totally worth it as we're able to have fries WAY more, which makes my belly (and waistline) happy.

7. Sprit Hood

Living in Eastern Canada means that there's a ridiculous amount of snow. As such, it's important to never leave the house without a hat, scarf, and mittens. Now, if you're like me, that's a lot to remember. Just grabbing my purse and phone is, at times, challenging. So when I found this AMAZING hat/scarf/mittens combo, designed to look like grey fox, no less, I was sold. Not only is the Spirit Hood super warm and wind resistant, but if you buy one with a ProBlue Label, a certain percentage of the proceeds go towards conservation efforts for the animal that you purchased! A double-win!

 I'll admit that the fur looks real but rest assured that it is NOT. Sometimes, I get the stink-eye when I'm walking down the street and I'm forced to cry out: "It's FAUX! Don't throw red paint on me!" And, granted, there's been a handful of times where the stink-eyer has run away in fear but the point is that I'm warm and toasty as I run after them, professing my love for animals. 

There are a whole bunch of animals that you can choose from, just take a look around the Spirit Hood website!

8. Nail Polish Products

Nail polish colours are subjective (for instance, I hate red) but there are a couple of products that I think any die-hard nail polish enthusiast needs to have. First, it's a speed dryer. I've tried the drops, the OPI mist sprays, fast-drying top coats--a whole whack of different products. The Beauty Secrets' Nail Polish Dryer is HANDS DOWN (ha) the best I've tried. Be warned, it smells like moth balls, but when I'm attempting a new nail art design, spraying my nails between each coat with this stuff makes it dry, almost instantaneously. Just remember to go outside to spray. The only place I've seen this for sale is at Sally's Beauty Supply Outlet and it only costs $5!

The second is Sally Hansen's Salon Strength remover. I love using dark, and highly pigmented colours and when I take the polish off, it often stains my skin. And rocking light blue skin just isn't something I want to do, or anyone would really. Well, except if your Daisy Smurf, that is. This very inexpensive polish remover gets rid of mega colourful polish in no time flat AND it's AMAZING at getting rid of sparkles. The remover can be found at Wal-Mart.

9. Bliss Super Minty Soap'n Scrub

If you're like me, the mornings can sometimes be a slow start but with Bliss Super Minty Soap'n Scrub, my eyes perk up in an instant. I adore the scent of mint and this is the mintiest of all the mints. There's a disclaimer on the tube that it's super minty and trust me when I say that you do NOT want to get this stuff near your eye. It happened by accident once and it was the burn-i-est of experiences. That said, there's no better way to wake up than slathering yourself with delicate minty grains that polish your skin. Throw on some moisturizer afterwards and you'll be sprinting out the door! 

So there you have it: my favourite things!! YAY!! 

What are some of your favourite things? I'm always on the lookout for new and fun things so if you have any in mind, please share!


The Time I (Almost) Ate An Enormous Secret Burger

When I was in Ontario, having tests done to verify my Human Guinea Pig Status, I spent a few days in Toronto with my Baby Brother. When The Remix and I were visiting in August, he took us to an ah-mazing burger joint called The Burger's Priest. It required a bit of a drive, as it was clear across the city but my BB said that it was worth it. And he was right. Very, very right. So, naturally, when I was back visiting with him a few weeks ago, I was all: TAKE ME TO THAT BURGER PLACE. And he was all: GET IN THE CAR. (I really love my BB).

To back up for a moment, I need to explain the day leading up to The Burger's Priest Adventure. My  pal, The Fisch, had never been to The Priest before, so she spent her day looking at the online menu and sent me a text that blew my mind


Naturally, my next step was a frazzled text to my BB, asking him if he was aware of The Secret Menu. 

Just to clarify, I LOVE being in the know, so even though all of the burgers on The Secret Menu are far more intense than any burger I'd regularly eat, I couldn't resist. 

So, I spent a considerable time drooling profusely going through the options. 

This was the winner...


The Vatican City

 Simply described as: A double cheeseburger squeezed between two grilled cheese buns. From my pervious Priest experience, I knew that the meat was DELICIOUS, and so were the buns. So, as far as I was concerned, having two patties AND two grilled cheese sandwiches was pretty much the best secret burger ever, despite the burger potentially being bigger than my head.

A few hours after my formal decision, BB and I were off in search of copious amounts of beef, along with one of BB's closest friends, The Recently Liberated Pal, and The Fisch. We took BB's new pseudo-rocket-ship car (A Subaru STI) and ventured out to The Beaches (apparently, it's now called The Beach but I'm not super into that because it reminds me of that movie with Leo Dicaprio and, rest assured, that part of the city is NOTHING like the movie. Therefore, I will continue to refer to it as The BeachES). Anyway, we get to the restaurant--if you can call it that because there's nowhere to sit and there are signs, actual signs that read: No consumption on the premises. Seriously. They really don't want you eating there. The reason? It's TOO DAMN BUSY! There are also signs on the front door that tell you not to block the neighbouring convenience store or crowd the sidewalk. Why they chose to have such a small establishment, I don't quite know, but it is what it is.

The Recently Liberated Pal was a smarty-pants and opted to order a "pre" burger, as in, a burger that he'd eat before getting into the car, but The Fisch and I stood strong with our single orders, despite the mouth-watering scents that wafted from the grill. After all, we knew that we were gearing up for some serious burger tastiness that was at least double to the average amount of food that we were used to eating so we opted to play it safe. 

I was SO EXCITED when it was my time to order and as The Recently Liberated Pal stepped away from the cash, I approached the female employee with a sneaky smile.

"I'll have The Vatican City, please," I said, raising an eyebrow.

"That'll be $11.50," she replied, without so much as a wink.

Now, I'm not saying that I was expecting confetti guns or an air horn (okay, maybe a little confetti), but I did hope that there'd be some kind of subtle acknowledgement that I was in The Know. Like a fist pump, or a smirk--SOMETHING. Alas, she really couldn't have cared less and was far more interested in asking me what kind of toppings I wanted instead of letting me bask in the glow of Know-ing-ness. Her lack of reaction threw me for a moment, but my enthusiasm perked up again when I thought about the hugeness of the burger that was being cooked to perfection by one of the three young but burger-savvy cooks behind the in-theme counter. 

Shuffling around to wait for our orders, my BB, The Fisch and The Recently Liberated Pal circled around me to form a germ barrier from the influx of customers that filled the small space. Then, after an almost unbearably long time (probably around seven minutes but were were HUNGRY), my name was called:

"Jennie? The Vatican City?" one of the burger-savvy cooks called out.

"THAT'S ME!" I cried, pushing aside three small children and an elderly gentleman. (Kidding, there was no elderly gentleman. Okay, there weren't any small children, either.) 

Shortly after, the other orders were ready and then we were off.

On the way to the car, I noticed that not only was the brown paper bag already soaked with grease, but there was a good chance that the weight of the burger would eventually rip through the weakened paper. So, with a hand firmly underneath the bag to counteract gravity's desire to destroy my two-to-three pound burger, we headed back to BB's condo. And it was there, at his long wooden coffee table, where I saw the full glory that was The Vatican City.

Clearly, this isn't a staged photo, although after being shoved in a bag for the better part of 20 minutes, I think that it held up rather well. I'd also like to note that I asked for "lots" of pickles, which apparently translated into "two." *shakes head*

Of course, it took some time to determine an appropriate plan of attack and after a few failed bites where I got only one patty and one grilled cheese sandwich, I had no choice but to patty down, which is why the title of this post is: I "almost" ate an enormous secret burger. Yes, it seems like I was giving up but my little mouth just isn't equipped for such a significant stack of deliciousness. But even though I went single patty on The Vatican City, it.was.amazeballs. Kind of like eating two grilled cheese sandwiches made out of clouds, sandwiched around fall-apart patties of happiness (even though they were pickle light). 

So, if you're ever in Toronto, and have a hankering for an off-the-chain burger, head on over to The BeachES and check out The Burger's Priest. And if you're feeling extra-ambitions, take a moment to peruse The Secret Menu. No, you won't get any props, but there's still something cool about ordering from a menu that isn't posted. And if you decide to go the traditional route, take a note from The Recently Liberated Pal and get a burger that you can eat immediately. I know that next time, I will!


Yay! I'm a Human Guinea Pig!

It's been pretty quiet on my blog this month, and that's because there's been a lot going on behind the scenes (if my life were a broadway play, that is. Haha!) Improper metaphor aside, there's been quite the development in my health. No, I haven't been miraculously cured but the end may be near, my friends!

In mid-October, I got a wonderful email from my nurse with news of a drug study for a medication that has the potential to fundamentally change my life. It's name is Mepolizumab and it's being developed by a pharmaceutical company called GlaxoSmithKline. To make a very complicated medical story short, it's a synthetic version of an antibody that will stop the hyper-reproduction of my eosinophilial cells. Making it even simpler: it's a medication that could virtually eliminate my sickness! Err...with monthly injections for the rest of my life, that is.  

Last week, I was on a psuedo-secret trip to Hamilton, Ontario, where I was poked and prodded in a similar way to an alien abduction. I kid, I kid, there weren't any actual probes. However, I went through a series of tests that, in the end, got me into the study! So for the next six months, I'm going to be a human Guinea Pig!

The X Factor Pepsi PreShow GIF of the Week!

Sometime in January, my number (all participants are assigned a number for anonymity) will be entered into a computer (along with the other numbers) that will divide us into two groups. One group gets the drug while the other gets a placebo supplement (there needs to be a placebo group for comparison purposes). Then, each month, I'll receive an injection either with the drug or with the placebo. I know that it sounds like there's a 50/50 chance that I'm not going to get the drug, and you're right, but the REALLY GOOD NEWS is that even if I am in the placebo group, I'll get access to the REAL medication once the six month study is over!!


Of course, there are a few catches: I can't get pregnant (ha) and I have to complete twice-daily breathing tests and enter the results into a Palm Pilot with a wireless internet connection. Yes, a Palm Pilot (circa 1995).

Here's my bluetooth peak flow meter and the Palm Pilot, which I affectionately call Ernie and Bert. And since they always need to be with me, I bought them a super cute purse from H&M because that's just how I roll.

Yes, there is no guarantee that the medication will work for me but this is pretty much the best thing that's happened since getting sick. The mere thought that I can get off of these stupid steroids is almost too glorious to imagine. Since I was 25 (I'll be 31 next week), my life has pretty much been stuck in pause and if this medication can give me back some of the life choices that have been stolen, it's well worth the hoops I have to jump through. 

For instance, I've had to switch from the Medrol back to the Prednisone and it is making me FREAK the EFF OUT. I want to eat all of the food I have in my house, and everything I see on TV...and the internet, especially Pinterest (oh yeah, Pinterest is the worst), and I'm so anxious that I can't seem to sit still but again, it's totally worth it. If I end up in the group that gets the drug during the study, I'll start weening off of the steroids as soon as February! And again, if not, I'll be weening sometime in the summer. Either way, THIS IS FANTASTIC NEWS!!

And in the meantime, I've decided to blog about my experiences as a human Guinea Pig. It's time to be honest--really honest--with what's going on. I like to put on a brave face and pretend that everything's okay because if I don't "act" sick then I sometimes forget that I am. Granted, I never really forget but it's better than everyone constantly asking how I am. Because that's what you do with sick people: you ask them how they are. That and I don't want to be thought of as a whiner because I'm well aware that there are others who are far sicker than I am. I know that my friends and family care deeply about me but, frankly, when I can muster the energy to be social, there are about one million other things I'd rather talk about. Like, Teen Mom 2, for instance. Yes, I could talk about Teen Mom 2 for quite some time. However, being included in this study is a SERIOUSLY big deal as there are just over a hundred participants in 27 countries so it's time to step out of my comfort zone and let people into my personal bubble.

Since my diagnosis, I've kept my fears to myself and, in the interest of being honest, I'm tired of doing it. Tired of trying to pretend that I'm okay; tired of feeling like I have no control over my life; tired of having to accept that I'll be sick forever. And my newest fear is that I'll be the one freak who doesn't respond to this new medication. You know that saying: "You're the rule, not the exception," from the movie He's Just Not That Into You? Well, let's just say that my medical experiences have shown that I AM the exception. So yeah, the next few months are going to test my ability to manage my expectations.

I'm scared shitless kind of worried about revealing my vulnerabilities, as I pride myself on being a strong woman, but being honest about my situation will hopefully open up a way for others to connect with me (instead of just blowing up in my face). My hope is that my honesty will open a door of communication without having to repeat myself a thousand times, so that's what The Guinea Pig Diaries is about: sharing my experiences--both physical and emotional--with whoever wants to read them.

And for those who follow me on Twitter (which you should because I'm awesome) THIS is the news I was cryptically referring to! Sorry to those who weren't in "the know" about the study but I didn't want to talk about it until it was confirmed. Not getting into the study would have been devastating enough without having to un-tell people. Thank you for your understanding.

So until next time, I leave you with the tune that will hopefully be my theme song for 2013 (which, by the way, was the first song I heard when I landed back in Fredericton. Fitting, no?)


The Nail Files: Santa Penguins Wandering in a Forest Of Awesome

The Nail Files Link Up

Whoa, it's Friday ALREADY! Where is the time going? 


We don't even have a Christmas tree yet! 

*looks outside and contemplates getting a chainsaw to cut down tree from surrounding forest*

With the plethora of Pinspirational Christmas manis out there, I realized that there just isn't enough time to try them out individually. So, I've decided to spend the next 10 days combining their awesomeness! Yay!!

Each nail got two coats of Paper Mâché to start.

Trees: With the small brush, I painted a narrow triangle with Running In Circles. Truth be told, I started with narrow nail tape but the lines weren't clean so I ended up going over them with the brush anyway (stupid Pinterest making it look so easy, haha!). After one coat of Running in Circles, I followed it up with one coat of Harper and then did a dot of Felicity at the top with the medium dotting tool.

Santa Hat: After figuring out which way the hat should curve, (which took an embarrassingly long time because it had to be done upside-down) I swooped it on, using the brush that came with Dovima because it was narrow enough. Then, I did a medium dot with Paper Mâché at the tip of the hat and four small dots at the bottom.

Penguin: Black Expressionism for the body, with the bottle's brush, then Paper Mâché for the stomach, with the small brush. Medium white dots for the eyes with a small black pupil and Iconic Orange for the beak, applied with the small brush. 

WARNING: I let the penguins dry overnight to prevent smudging but the penguin on my right thumb still smudged! The left one didn't, though, which is not only totally bizarre but also VERY FRUSTRATING as they each took multiple attempts to get done. Seriously, how did one smudge but the other didn't? How was it not dry after EIGHT HOURS? 
(Obviously, I only included a pic of the non-smudged hand.)

*shakes fist*

That said, I think the combo of the penguin and santa hat are adorable, and well worth the effort. 

If I had to rate the three designs in terms of ease, the trees are by far the easiest, followed by the santa hat and the penguins. 

Happy Friday, everyone!

And thanks to Tara and Vicki for hosting!


Another Book Swap Success!

The first time I participated in a Book Swap, my partner flaked and I got nothing (boo). The second time, I was introduced to some fabulous books that I probably wouldn't have picked out myself (yay). And this time, for my third Book Swap, although there was a small logistical hiccup, everything worked out, in the end. 

I was paired with the adorable Myra from The Little Aslam and, after a few emails, she really figured me out. So well, in fact, that she sent me Tina Fey's Bossypants. The only bummer is that I'd already read it. 
(Unlike Myra, who sent me a list of a few books she was interested in reading, I wasn't at all organized so really, the circumstance was totally my fault.) 

However, with some quick online researching, we sussed out that it was possible to get a credit on Amazon (yay). 

So then began the task of figuring out which book I'd get. Myra suggested Stephen Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You!), which I was totally digging, but there didn't seem to be a Kindle version. *shakes fist*

Then, in the wee hours of the morning, the idea hit me square in the nose: Mindy Kaling! She's sort of like Tina Fey but edgier and they're both on TV so, in actuality, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is almost like Bossypants.

And that is what I spent my credit on. 

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Thanks, Myra! I can't wait to get started!

And thanks to Heather and Katie for arranging the Book Swap!

The Nail Files: Patience is a Virtue

The Nail Files Link Up

So after seeing EVERYONE ON THE INTERNET sporting China Glaze's new Cirque du Soleil polishes I finally got my greedy little paws on some. YAY!!!

Creative Fantasy, For Audrey, and It's a Trap-eze!

Three coats of Creative Fantasy, one coat of For Audrey followed by one coat of It's a Trap-eze!

Usually, I'm NOT a fan of three-coat polish but this purple is so freaking pretty that I don't care. (I know, after all of my bitching and complaining about three-coat polish, I can hardly believe it myself.) That said, not only is Creative Fantasy a three-coat polish, but one of those weirdo neon polishes that needs top coat for any shine. (Again, I believe that it's totally worth the extra effort.)

And It's A Trap-eze! is so freaking awesome that I can barely contain myself. It's like my nails have sprinkles on them. Good sprinkles--the kind you'd find on top of buttercream icing. Mmmm...

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thanks to Tara and Vicki for hosting!


The Next Big Thing: Week 27

As if there hasn't excitement enough regarding my writing lately, the lovely Gina Salamon tagged me in a blog hop named The Next Big Thing (as you can tell by the title of this post, haha). The deal is that you answer ten questions about a manuscript that you're either working on, or polishing. Then, you tag up to five other writers, who will answer the same questions. 

Sounds fun, right? 

Of course it does! 
(Well, probably only if you're a writer but let's not split hairs.)

So let's get started!

*bangs gong*

1. What is the working title of your book?

My working title is ROBIN’S A LITTLE HOOD. I freaking LOVE titles that are twists on old favourites. Or puns. I also really, really like puns.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?

The idea for the book was one that I’d mulled over after finishing my first (and very bad) manuscript. In fact, as soon as I came up with the title, the story began to unfold. Before I got sick, I was a volunteer rape crisis counselor and the stress from the work often had me fantasizing on how I could take care of the abusive men who essentially got away with their actions.  And, of course, I mean "take care" in a Mafioso sense (minus the actual Mafia, of course...hmm...that's making me think I should add something about concrete shoes, haha!). 

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Women’s fiction (but not chick-lit--oh no, it's far too violent to be considered chick-lit). 

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

When I first began drafting, I had two actresses in mind for my MCs but as I waded into the deep pool of revisions, they changed. So, after the third draft, I made new character boards (I’m a visual person so the boards REALLY help me stay focused) and found two much more appropriate representations.

   Robin Richards, played by Michelle Williams              Nina Soleti, played by Monica Bellucci

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Frustrated with abusive men getting slaps on the wrist from the judicial system, two front-line social workers decide to shock some sense into them—literally.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

While I have NO JUDGEMENT regarding authors who choose to self-publish, I will be pursing representation by an agency. I’m well aware of where my talents lie and they're not in contract negotiation, royalty collection or any of the other one thousand things that agents do. Also, I’m very much into the idea of having someone by my side throughout the process instead of going at it alone. It’s scary out there!

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took a very short three months to get the first draft down but I’m on month four of revisions. The story began as a much more lighthearted tale but I quickly realized that the subject matter was too intense for such a delivery. And, as other authors can sympathize with, every time I had “finished” revisions, I would get another great idea that—like the proverbial thrown pebble in still water—had a ripple effect, which left me no other choice but to rip the MS apart. That said, the carnage was, and is, totally worth it. 

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Obviously, the tone of the book is very similar to the original Robin Hood but there's a lot of swearing. Like, a lot of swearing. A very talented editor suggested that my MS is a cross between Dexter and Nine to Five (an 80s movie featuring the awesome Dolly Parton) because although there is violence and raw emotion, there is also humour.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

A few things inspired me to write this book. First, the dedicated front-line workers who I had the priviledge of working with and secondly, the horrific injustices that I witnessed with my own eyes, where the Canadian judicial system would declare that sexual assault and battery offences weren't "serious" enough to merit action. Yeah, seriously. It happened all of the time. Don't.Get.Me.Started.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Aside from seeing abusive men get their just desserts, there are also a few scenes with pot-related shenanigans. Yes, good old Mary Jane is almost a character in her own right. *puts on a little Bob Marley* My book is also a love-song to feminist counselling methodology. Say what you want about The Crazy Feminists (although you should tread carefully as I'm one of them) but their perspective on supporting female survivors of intimate violence is far and away the best that I've encountered.

So now it’s time to tag some other fabulous writers!

Megan Peterson – Super cool writer with a fantastic blog that's full of posts about her process (she keeps it real, people). And she has biceps that I’d kill for (haha, I’ve got murder on the brain). 

Gina Denny – Awesome writer with a beyond witty sense of humour (mostly because she has three sons and therefore has no other choice) but I strongly suspect that she's part robot, as she manages to find time to write while homeschooling said sons.  

Natasha Rauf – Former reporter turned author so you just know that she’s the bee’s knees when it comes to prose. And she reads. A lot. I imagine she'd be a great Jeopardy contestant. Also, she has really pretty hair. 

Suzanne Gale – The woman who single-handedly made my love for blue and purple streaks far less of an issue by introducing me to Elumen hair dye (thanks!) AND she’s freaking hilarious. Just watch some of her vlogs and you'll know what I'm talking about. Oh, and she's also a fabulous writer.

Megan Whitmer – Amazing writer and one of the funniest gals on Twitter. Seriously. Start following her right now. If you don't have a Twitter account, get one (if only to read about her Mom's texts--trust me, it's worth it).