Tens of People zine available now!!!

Hey, y'all!

So I've been working on this project for awhile and now it's all up and ready to go and available for purchase!

One of my favorite podcasts is Who Weekly - A podcast about everything you need to know about the celebrities you don't. There are numerous Facebook groups dedicated to it and we've become a legit community. Lots of media types, writers and everyday folks who love pop culture have become my fast internet friends over the past year and a half.

With so many talented Wholigans (as we call ourselves), I thought it'd be cool to solicit creative writing and art and publish them in a zine. And now it's here! I've got two poems in it. :)

Tens of People - A Lifestyle Change Zine is available to order now for $9 USD

To order your copy, email tensofpeoplezine@gmail.com

New Stuff!

Hey y'all!

I started another writing class last week and so far it's going great! I actually brought in my latest essay to get some help with structure and was glad I did it.

Check out my post about how Bell's "Let's Talk" campaign rubs me the wrong way as a person living with mental illness here! Share with your friends!

Rejection Lessons

For my first blog post of 2018, I wanted to share my latest writing milestone - I got my first rejection letter.

I knew this would be one of the hardest parts about putting myself out there in the literary world, but I took it in stride. Lessons learned are:

- really get to know the publication you're submitting to to see if it's a right fit for your writing

- keep on editing to perfection... if you're at a point where you're sick of the piece because you've edited it so much, take a break from that one and come back to it

- just because it's not a right fit for the publication who rejected you doesn't mean it won't be right someplace else

- a rejection means someone took the time to read it!

I feel strong for submitting the piece. I feel good that it was actually read by somebody at a publication. I want to make the piece better and try to find its rightful place. I believe in the story, and I've worked so hard to believe in myself that it's finally paying off!

Done With 2017

It’s been a wild year. We’ve all been miserable and the world is shit. Donald Trump is president of the USA. Tom Petty died. Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl” exists. It’s bleak af. I can’t be all Taylor Swift about it and say, “Well, I had a good year!” because, well, I didn’t. But here’s some things that helped:

A New Online Community

Online communities have been important to me for awhile. I spent the better part of the late 90s/early-mid 2000s involved in a chat room, then a message board dedicated to a certain 90s band. In the mid-2000s/early ‘10s, a Toronto-centric message board that was aimed at indie kids. In the last part of 2016, I joined a Facebook group based off my favorite celebrity gossip podcast and it’s been rewarding. I’ve made some pals I might not have otherwise and there’s always someone to chat with about the silliest little thing on my mind about some obscure celebrity. Shout-out to my Wholigans! – y’all have no idea how crucial you are to my mental health.

PS – Stay tuned for information about a project I’m working to related to this!

Pop Culture as Art

I’d heard about the THNK1994 Museum a few years ago and thought it was a cool idea – I was prime age for the Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan debacle of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics. In May of this year, my husband and I were planning to visit friends in New York City and while browsing events, I discovered that the THNK1994 Museum would be having a Britney Spears Panel Discussion. I had to go! It was part of their Yama Kippi Yay Bo exhibit of art dedicated to Kim Cattrall. I absolutely loved it! I made a point to visit again in August for the Nicole Richie’s 2007 BBQ exhibit in partnership with @popculturediedin2009. Matt and Viviana are visionaries in terms of taking pop culture of the past couple of decades and lovingly showcasing art inspired from it. In turn, they inspired me to undertake my own projects of pop culture-saturated short stories and poetry. I’m hoping I have the opportunity to share more of this work of mine in 2018. Thanks Matt & Viviana, and check out the THNK1994 Museum next time you’re in NYC!

Celine Dion

I’ve always had a soft spot for Celine – her music, her goofy personality, her je-ne-sais-quoi. But when she embraced taking her already-iconic fashions to new heights with stylist Law Roach this year, it was a revelation. Some said this was her new passion in the wake of the passing of her beloved husband Rene Angelil. Each new outfit she wore in 2017 was more daring, fun and chic than the last. She said, “I’ve always been interested in fashion. Now, fashion is interested in me.” 2017 was my year of taking the things I’ve always been interested in to the next level; writing, embracing my queerness, deeper pop culture analysis, being open about my mental illness and sobriety. I can’t afford to dress like Celine, but she inspired me to express myself in a bigger way.

Thanks to everyone who clicked on my blog, liked my Facebook page or helped me with my writing in one way or another this year. I’m feeling positive about 2018. I’ll wrap this up with a few of my favorite things in 2017. See you next year!

Favorite song of 2017: Demi Lovato – “Daddy Issues”

Favorite movie of 2017: Lady Bird

Favorite new TV show of 2017: Claws

Favorite comeback of 2017: Spencer Pratt

Favorite book of 2017: Cat Marnell's How To Murder Your Life

Favorite concert of 2017: Janet Jackson's State of the World

Life-changing moment of 2017: LaCroix coming to Ontario

48, 849 Words

Hey y'all!

Everyone is sick right now, or getting over something, right? Same here. Catch me covered in Kleenex with oil of oregano, Advil, eucalyptus aromatherapy and David's Organic Cold 911 tea!

So, earlier this month I set out to do NaNoWriMo for the first time ever. Turns out... it was a great experience. I didn't finish my novel, but I think I only want to add 3-5 more chapters to wrap it up.

Something my teacher said to me a couple nights ago was "trust your voice," and NaNoWriMo's concept of not editing, just writing, is a way to write in which trusting your voice is the only way to go.

Writing a novel for the first time has been very rewarding. I'm stacked with ideas these days. New short stories, new essays, ongoing projects and yet another new project that I'm super excited about. Will check in again soon - hopefully with an essay!

My First Reading!

Hey y'all!

I know it's been awhile since I've updated the blog, but with working on my NaNoWriMo novel, as well as my short stories for class, my blog's been on the back burner for a bit.

This past Tuesday night, though, I was honoured to be included in the CRUSH Zine Reading and Exhibition at Glad Day Bookshop. For the first time, pretty much ever, I read four poems in front of an audience of strangers, as well as my husband and best friend.

Being someone who has struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, I was nervous AF! Public speaking was my least-favorite thing in elementary school. In grade six, my French teacher tried to encourage me to go to the regional competition but I refused. She even tried to tempt me with saying it'd be a trip to Deep River! Yeah, no.

I popped half a clonazepam to help calm my nerves, then carefully selected my outfit, turned on some Taylor Swift, applied my makeup and straightened my hair for maybe the third time this year. I read my poems to myself. I bought a pack of gum... I was as ready as I was gonna be.

I felt genuinely inspired, humbled and grateful for all of the other artists that night, sharing stories and poems on bisexuality and beyond. I'm not so great at the mingling aspect of this whole "emerging writer" thing, but just know, all of your stories resonated with me!

Shout out to the person who came up to me after the show to tell me that they really liked my work and said they'd check out my website! That really did mean a lot to me. I was honestly taken aback and felt great about it. :)

So, I did it. I read in public. I think it went well. I think my work is good. I want to do it again. Hit me up for future reading events, anyone who's reading this!

NaNoWriMo

I've always had good intentions about doing NaNoWriMo every year, but this year I'm actually doing it. I've signed up and written more than 1,000 words on a YA-ish novel that's been brewing in me for awhile. I'm not sure if there's really a market for YA about romances, friendships and high school politics in the dystopia-saturated genre nowadays, but it's what I can relate to! Anyway, if you want to add me as a "writing buddy," I'm on there as, of course, Dietcoke4breakfast.

At the same time, I've got short stories on the go for my Short Story I class at George Brown, as well as a few poetry things and, of course, this website! I feel like November is starting off on a good note and want to keep this momentum going. I can do it!

A Blackout & A Reading

It's been awhile since I've updated. Honestly, I've had a rough couple weeks and I'm working on coming out from under. Some good stuff for today, though!

I've been invited to participate in the CRUSH ZINE: Reading & Exhibition. It's my first reading, so come out and support me if you can!

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of one of my all-time favorite albums, Blackout by Britney Spears. Instead of doing a rehash of where she was at during that period of her life, I decided to write a piece of me instead. Scroll over to Writing to check it out.

That's all for now! Hope everyone has a great Halloweekend!

National Coming Out Day!

Hey y'all!

In honor of National Coming Out Day, I've decided to share a piece I wrote about the quietly groundbreaking way LGBTQ+ characters were portrayed in Friday Night Lights! I know, I know and I swear, not everything I write will be about that football show that ended 6 years ago. But then again, I wouldn't hate that, and this is my website :)

I had originally intended to try to see if I could pitch this think piece somewhere, but I feel like I want to share it today. I've added a new page for my non-blog writing that I'll be posting here, so keep an eye on that!

Laughter is the Best Medicine?

My husband and I have gone to JFL42, the Toronto offshoot of Montreal's Just for Laughs festival for three out of its past four years. It falls around the same time as my husband's birthday, so there's often a headliner he'd like to get tickets for and this year's was Tim and Eric. I take care of buying the passes, and buy the Headliner + two credits option. The credits are good to use at any of the non-headliner shows which happen at smaller venues like Queen Elizabeth Theatre (ugh), The Royal Theatre and The Garrison, with slightly-smaller or used-to-be-bigger names. The excellent thing about the credits is that once you check into the show electronically, you can re-use them as many times as you like. So, after all was said and done, I got to see 14 different shows with 20+ comedians in the span of 10 days. I went to a lot of these shows alone, actually. I've always been the kind of person whose attitude was "I'd rather go alone than not go at all." I don't need someone I know to laugh beside me when a whole crowd is laughing along.

I was on a bit of a high last week, laughing pretty much every night, trying out comedians I hadn't heard of and busting a gut from new sets from reliable ones, too. My two favorites of the week, Michelle Wolf and Sasheer Zamata, even <3'd my tweets about them! JFL42 was done on Sunday, but I had one more comedy show to go to - and my friend, Jennie Steer-Welbourn, won second place at the Underground Comedy & Social Club amateur comedy competition!

Some of these comedy shows, unfortunately, led to late nights, which are not conducive with my mental illness. So what happened yesterday? Why, a depression crash, of course! Vegas and Tom Petty only compounded things. How did I deal with it? By cutting myself some slack. I bought some mini cherry cheesecakes and got Caribbean takeout and watched some music documentaries on Netflix. Practicing self-care (I know, I know!) didn't cure my depression, but I've managed to force myself out of the house today and to write a bit. It's a victory.

So, even though laughter was great for me last week, I have to remember to not push myself. Remind me, no midnight shows next year!

Rewriting and Revisiting: The Old Becomes New Again

I wrote a story back in my third go-round of college that I was incredibly proud of and I knew had potential. I would re-read it every now and then, but I eventually forgot about it. Recently, I went through my old containers of things I wrote and couldn't find this particular story anywhere. It was so many computers so many years ago that there's absolutely no soft copy anywhere! Maybe I threw out my only hard copy in a drunken stupor or a depressive episode years back? I wouldn't put it past me back in those days.

The story has stuck with me through the years. I remembered a few key phrases and moments that I loved. I opened a new Word document and jotted the phrases and moments down. Maybe I could make it work again.

On Tuesday, I started my Short Story I class at George Brown with Richard Scarsbrook. We did some writing exercises and one of my classmates asked if we were going to read them out loud. He said no, as first drafts aren't usually that great. That made me think - this first draft from 2004 may be lost, but I'm still very in tune with its essence and what I wanted to accomplish with it. But 13 years later, there's so much room for modernization that I'd love to explore. I'm happy to say that I've begun rewriting it today and I think this new version will be even better!

My First Poetry Magazine Submission & My First Shared Poem!

I just submitted two poems for consideration in a poetry magazine for the first time in my life. I have this wild rush of anxiety and pride as I type at my desk, heart racing to the beat of the 80s song on my bluetooth speaker. 

The amount of places to submit poetry, short stories, essays and anything else I may dabble in is overwhelming. What's the publication rate? Is there a submission fee? Will I get paid? Which ones are worth it? I went on a whim and submitted to a reputable no-fee one that pays. I'll probably pay to enter some contests, eventually. Pursuing this hobby is costly, but at least I got 10% off my Squarespace site because I listen to podcasts!

One of the poems I submitted is from 2004, 13 damn years ago, but possibly my favorite I've ever written. It has a Bruce Springsteen reference. The other one, I wrote for my creative writing intro class back in March. It's about Bipolar Disorder. I'm v. on-brand!

To celebrate, I thought I'd share another poem I wrote for class back in March. Writing poetry over the years, I was never really committed to traditional styles, or any style at all, mostly just free-verse. When I learned about sestinas from my teacher, Terri Goveia, I wanted to challenge myself and try to do one.

I knew immediately I wanted to do something Friday Night Lights-related (my favorite TV show of all-time, don't worry I'll definitely mention it again numerous times). At first, I tried doing one ending in the most obviously-iconic six words of the series; "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose." I couldn't make it work, so I lifted some key words from Tim Riggins' Texas Forever speech in the pilot episode. God, Football, Good Friends, Texas Forever.

So here's my first poem I'm sharing, a first-person account through the eyes of Jason Street throughout the first ten or so episodes of the show!

It's called "The Fallen Small Town Football God (The Ballad of Jason Street)" and I hope you like it!

Welcome to Dietcoke4breakfast!

How does a three-time community college dropout fit into the very academic Canadian literary scene? How does a woman in her 30s with a work history in customer service get published? How does a person who struggles so with anxiety and mental illness grin and bear it, knowing that their desire to be a writer will be met with rejections, critiques and possible failure?

This is me doing it.

This is me going for it.

I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. I have this book from when I was four or five years old, where I would draw a picture and dictate the story of the picture to my mom. They were shorter than short stories, about girls and their unicorns mostly. In a few years, I’d graduate to creating my own Sweet Valley-inspired tween romances, since I wasn’t popular enough to have any myself. I’ve kept journals off and on my whole life and gone through stints of writing and not writing poetry in said journals.

I discovered short story writing in college, which led me to write a few in those years. A couple good, but most not that good. Studying journalism, I mostly focused on arts and entertainment, interviewing student actors, musicians and faculty authors. I dreamed of writing for Rolling Stone or Spin, or maybe just Eye or Now.

During my third good ol’ college try, I fell in with the Wavelength crew and founder Jonny Dovercourt asked me to write for them. I had a great time culling comprehensive local show listings, interviewing bands, reviewing CDs and eventually getting a bit of a local indie music gossip column! Things were going swell with Wavelength and I was proud that I’d gone for it, despite my anxiety. Unfortunately, I ended up quitting abruptly due to a number of factors, most of them having to do with my addiction and then-undiagnosed mental illness. Let’s just say that in my mind, I was on top of the world and had everything going for me and I was going to get a job at a tabloid. Instead, I just wound up being another office drone killing time by being nasty on the internet.

Between then and now, I’ve had scattered creative bursts, mostly just private journals, poems and story ideas. Earlier this year, I admitted to a friend that I wanted to write again. That I felt like I had things in me again. Ideas and characters, things that needed to be shared. She was taking night courses unrelated to writing at George Brown College and suggested I check out their writing classes. I signed up for Creative Writing- Getting Started the day before class began in late January. In that class, I wrote a short story that I love, a play scene that needs work, but I would like to be the bones for a short story eventually and a couple of poems. Next was the program’s Expressive Writing class, in which I wrote a few personal essays, some of which I will publish here, one short story that was so-so and rushed and another which I think has … a lot of potential, actually! It feels weird to be confident in saying things like this, but part of this confidence is what got this website up! I’ll be starting the Short Story I class at the end of this month.

A month ago, I found out that the Bi Arts Festival's zine, CRUSH was looking for submissions. I submitted a poem and it was accepted! I’m so excited and pleased to be part of this collection. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my newest writing journey than by being included in this zine - especially since my poem is about Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson, true to my pop culture-obsessed self! The launch party is Friday, September 22 at D-Beatstro. I’ll be there, and I’m nervous, yet excited, to meet all of the other talented writers, artists and photographers featured in the zine. Not to mention the cool vendors taking part in the pop-up market!

And now, Dietcoke4breakfast, the website! First, the name is inspired by my own personal morning ritual of cracking open a cold, fizzy, satisfying can of Diet Coke before I wash down my morning meds. Maybe I’ll change the name one day to something a bit more profesh, but this feels more me.  It’s a place for me to share my writing on a regular basis. Hopefully, it turns into something more. It already is something more.