ESL educating, writing, cat loving, recovering from illness, enjoying island living kind of gal!

Grammar Granny's Ivory Tower

Image of blond woman at laptop with cityscape behind her Image: iClipart

As many of my regular followers know, I’m not just an English teacher. I also moonlight as a YA novelist. My tale of a Latina teen who finds herself pregnant without a baby daddy will be released in July of 2016 by Reputation Books. It’s called Sunkissed Sodas, and you can see the book trailer on my YouTube channel.

I use Pinterest to build trust with my readers and create a following that may later help me promote my book when it’s published. If you’re a writer, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to market your book, because let’s face it, Pinterest is FUN!

According to Mashable, “Pinterest drives more referral traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.” So how do you get on the train? Just start a Pinterest account. Create boards that interest you and make you happy. Create boards that inspire your…

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I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

If you want a novel to come alive, you don’t want a generic group of people. You want some culture. Culture is an important part of life, and different cultures are often shown in novels, whether real cultures or fictional ones like in fantasy. But how do authors handle cultures?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 47 – How do you portray different cultures in your writing?

Linda G. Hill

I don’t. I like to know what I’m writing about, so if I was to include another culture in my fiction, I would demand extensive research of myself. Research takes a lot of time, and time isn’t something I have a lot of… so… I haven’t, really, had any cultures in my writing that aren’t my own.

Allen Tiffany

Great question. Doing this is tough. You have to be judicious and clever as you share aspects of different cultures, especially if you created them (such…

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Let The Words Flow

This is something I get asked a lot: what’s the difference between YA and adult fiction? So rather than continuing to reinvent this wheel, I’ll just write a blog and direct people to it from now on. Sneaky, eh?

To begin with it is important to have a protagonist firmly within the standard age–typically younger than 18, but simply making your protagonist 17 isn’t sufficient. Many adult books feature younger characters, but the way the story is told varies.

And, keep in mind, a story’s content will vary between YA and adult. Lots of graphic sex might fly in an adult book, but will usually be considered too much for YA. However, you can include a lot of mature situations in YA as long as you handle it well.

So that said, I think the biggest differences between YA and adult boil down to:

  1. the voice
  2. the length (though that…

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After a series of deplorable, headline-grabbing events on university campuses, the term “rape culture” has entered the popular lexicon in Canada.

During the current academic year, we heard about chants promoting the sexual assault of underage girls at both Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and the University of British Columbia. Most recently, scandal erupted at the University of Ottawa after it was revealed members of the student leadership made sexually violent comments about the student union president.

In the wake of these incidents, there’s been discussion about rape culture on Canadian campuses. Rape culture is term used to describe the societal attitudes that excuse, tolerate and dismiss sexual assault. Rape culture is blaming someone for their rape because they were drunk or wearing a short dress. It’s the assumption that men can’t be raped because they are supposedly always the sexual aggressors. It’s telling victims not to be raped…

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Morocco…I miss you!

In A Search of Balance

You have to live the experience that is Morocco. It’s hard to describe in words really, but there is something magical about that place. Despite the rocky start for many a tourist who ventures outside the well-lit path (which in my case included almost getting robbed and beaten up the first night), the country opens up and embraces you in its unforgettable atmosphere and culture. In the words of my friend Jawad, “Where you come from you might have watches, but here we’ve got time”!

And just like that, somewhere in between wandering around the local souks and haggling for trinkets, drinking the most incredible mint tea (also known as the Moroccan whiskey!) and tasting the flavorful local meals, or riding through the mighty Atlas mountains and sleeping under the stars in the Sahara, you fall in love with it.

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Such a beautiful blog! So inspiring! Definitely play the song that is on top! Love it!

In A Search of Balance

When we were considering the trip to Iceland I looked into when’s the best time to see the Northern Lights, but my research showed August wasn’t really it. We decided to go anyway because there’s plenty else you can see & do and that we’d come back another time just for this. After touching down and being rained on for the majority of the first couple of days we’d basically given up hope we were going to see the Aurora. And like it often does in life, just when you least expect it something amazing happened — the sky cleared up, the sun broke through and we spent the latter part of the third day roaming around as much as possible.

After the long day, we’d found a camp site to stay for our last night and being extremely tired we were about to give in around 10pm when someone…

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sahara nights

Morocco…my second home…gorgeous, awe-inspiring photos! WOW!

In A Search of Balance

(I highly encourage you to play the song before reading on, best part starts around 2nd minute)

What a night that was! After watching the sunset from atop a dune (see previous post on Sahara days), we literally rode our camels toward the rising orange full moon ahead of us. Unfortunately, it was impossible to take a photo of it while being shaken around the camel’s back, but it was so surreal that it almost felt like being in a movie. Very powerful moment.

Naturally, when we reached the camp I couldn’t resist to take some shots around the area. The light from the moon made it almost look like day time, as you can see below. Though not as bright as we were hoping, the stars were still incredibly crisp. We were lucky enough to be in the Sahara around the time of the Jupiter and Venus alignment, a…

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Blogging University 101: Dream Reader

Assignment: “We often create posts hoping that someone in particular will see (and appreciate) our work. Today, publish a post for that person — whether they’re a real-life figure or not — and stretch your blogging chops as you do.”

In relation to my journey to become just a little bit better, I began counseling about a month ago. I have met with counselors who have ‘hurt’ me, done nothing for me except listen to my story, tell me I don’t need counseling etc. Then…I met Tammy (not her actual name). I have called my sessions with Tammy life changing and mind blowing. I am excited I didn’t give up on counseling all together, since counseling can often times seem so fruitless. Now, I find myself eagerly wanting to grasp the concepts of this new counseling method Tammy and I are using that encompasses affective neuroscience and healing the reactive mind.

Update: I have since learned this method is called SRT. What is SRT? Here is a link:

When I first met Tammy, I felt very comfortable with her. The office and chair were comfortable and relaxing. I was optimistic that I could learn something from our upcoming sessions together. Using this new method is quite simple and so effective! When my emotions come up during conversation, Tammy asks me what I am feeling in my body. Sometimes I feel a wave of emotion going up and down in my chest and stomach. Sometimes it is a pain in my shoulder blade. This transfer of thought from my emotions to feeling my body in the present, takes attention away from my amygdala (the part of my brain) that emotionally reacts to the world around me.

My brain, like so many other individuals, responds from a place of trauma. This place of trauma came about from life events in my childhood. My amygdala doesn’t know of any other way to respond to emotional, difficult situations except from a place of trauma. It is as if my house is on fire most of the time and my brain is always responding to the fire alarm or some other kind of emergency when there is no emergency in the current moment.

Tammy guides me by grounding me…by asking what I am feeling in my physical body and just being in the moment with my body sensations, thus quieting my reactive mind as it realizes there is no emergency in the moment. This is key here…living in the moment. A new neural pathway is being formed, one that reacts more appropriately to the current situation rather than reacting from emergencies (or trauma) from the past. Once I have been grounded, I feel an objectivity to the events of the past and feel free from the emotional pain they have caused!

Before Tammy and I had started this method, I had bought a book that resonated with me. I felt very compelled to buy the book! I had told Tammy I was in search of clarity and was explaining how I thought there was a better way to respond to the world around me. At this point, I had bought the book but was unable to tell Tammy what it was called or what it was about. I had forgotten. I later realized that what I wanted out of counseling was identical to the title and subject of the book! Synchronicity! Here’s the book!

It was quite amusing that I had to have this book that fits so well with the counseling sessions I am now experiencing. The book gives me another perspective on the same topic to actually use and heal via this neuroscientific method.

I have only met with Tammy a few times and with each session there have been positive changes. After I left my last session, the core of my being spoke to me. I recognized what my core was saying as I had heard it before, but it was a reminder that all my work through chaos is to reach this point in my core, this long standing false belief that needs to be ‘re-wired’ hence new neural pathways must be created. This distorted belief of myself that my core spoke about is personal so I won’t share it today, but I wanted to speak about my experience because others might hear there inner being calling out to them too which, in my case, highlights my deepest, darkest issue. I might not be able to share this with Tammy yet, as I don’t want the floodgates to open too much leaving me feeling too vulnerable to move forward.

It has been a true gift that I met Tammy and stumbled upon Moffitt’s book! But wait! Two more gifts were forthcoming this week!

The second gift. A few days later during a coffee run to Starbucks, I came upon a newspaper article about neural pathways:

I was excited (excited because of the help available to correct and heal from these behaviours) to see this recent news story about child punishment (a form of trauma) and changing brain neural pathways. It was also great to see awareness being raised for child abuse. If you skipped over this article, it is a great read and not too long! I highly recommend the read to everyone. We are all touched by this trapped inner trauma. We are personally ‘affected’ or have loved ones, colleagues, family etc who are dealing with altered neural pathways.

These excerpts from the article really resonated with me.

Within the brain, when a child is spanked or hit, “there’s a pathway being formed instantly between the emotions that child is feeling, of fear and terror and threat, and the source of those emotions, which is the parent,” says Durrant, a professor of family social sciences at the University of Manitoba.

Learning to respond to such stress takes place at a neural level, she explains; a particular stimulus will automatically evoke a particular emotional response. So when adults who were abused as children are confronted with a familiar situation in which they feel out of control, they may lash out without thinking – and with far more force than they intended.

One of my revelations was ‘knowing’ that what I felt and experienced and how I responded wasn’t ‘my fault’ in a sense and it is terrific this part of the brain is very plastic, meaning very changeable allowing for new neural pathways! I held the notion that the way I sometimes responded to people or situations made me a ‘bad’ person. As an abuse survivor, I am guessing the idea that one is ‘bad’ is a fairly common misbelief of oneself.

And my final gift this week came from Facebook. A friend of mine, who lives in Morocco, shared a great read on her Facebook wall. She said, “A MUST REaD !! Didn’t enjoy reading this much for a while! This book is fantastic ! Life changing !! Available at Virgin RAbat.” I quickly searched for this book and found it in my local library. So I am reading this book too. So far, it has interesting ideas and it is a simple read. The video below features the authors speaking a little bit about the book.

I think so many people could benefit from this counseling that has only been in practice for 10-15 years. How fortunate I am to experience and reap the rewards of my sessions with Tammy. Hence I wrote this Blogging University 101 assignment entitled Dream Reader, thinking of Tammy, my counselor as my dream reader!


Disclaimer: I am not a teacher and I am not married to a teacher. I do not have children currently and have absolutely no stake in the outcome of this labour dispute, financial or otherwise. Though I was a member of a CUPE union for several years, I am no longer in a unionized position. I am, however, the daughter of teachers (in Saskatchewan) and am incredibly passionate about this issue.

Photo: Brayden McCluskey Photo: Brayden McCluskey

Like many people in BC, I am sick and tired of the teachers’ strike. I’m sick of the anxiety underlying every news story, especially as the first day of school has come and gone and public schools in BC remain closed. I am sick of parents needing to worry about how to pay for childcare/time taken off from work. I am sick of the idea that kids are missing out on their right to education. I…

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