If you know much about my writing you're probably aware that most of my published work has been contemporary YA, very realistic stuff similar to things that might well have happened to you or someone you know. I've also written two sci-fi eco-thrillers, a novel about a twenty-year-old who goes into a state of collapse after the love-of-her-life boyfriend dies, and a book about a ghost girl tethered to a grieving teenage boy.

What you might not guess from all this is that I'm a sucker for a good alien story—a huge fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X-Files, Stargate Atlantis, Falling Skies, V (both the 1984 series and 09 remake), Invasion (such an amazing show—can't believe it was cancelled after only a single season!), Doctor Who (more on that here) and Torchwood. Likewise, when a cool alien flick rolls up at the Cineplex, I'm there. Below are some of my personal favourites from over the years.

* Monsters (2010)
Directed and written by Gareth Edwards
Anything but your typical alien invasion picture or boiler plate aliens. "Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border."

* The Abyss (1989)
Directed and written by James Cameron
When a diving team search for a lost nuclear submarine they encounter something more. A terrific cast (Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn) and highly original—-almost whimsical—-alien species make this underwater drama one of a kind.
The Abyss
The Abyss

* Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Directed and written by Steven Spielberg
A group of strangers are inexorably drawn toward an encounter with intelligent alien life in Spielberg's iconic follow-up film to Jaws.

* Starship Troopers (1997)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven; screenplay by Edward Neumeier, based on a book by Robert A. Heinlein
Bug-squishing fun. In the near future humanity battles giant alien insects. One of the noteworthy aspects of the film is the comprehensive gender quality we observe in the military.

* Alien | Aliens (1979/1986)
Alien directed by Ridley Scott; written by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett Aliens directed and written by James Cameron
The alien(s) of the title are horrific to look at, all endless sets of teeth and seething acid. If possible, they seem even more single-minded than Daleks. Exterminate!

* District 9 (2009)
Directd by Neill Blomkamp; written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
That rarity amongst modern action films, one that's as intelligent as it is gripping. Alien refugees are housed in South Africa's District 9, a makeshift ghetto. But when a human government operative begins to mutate into an alien creature, the fragile relationship between the refugees and their hosts explodes.

District 9
District 9

* Signs (2002)
Directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan
The crop circles that appear in the fields of a family farm are just the sinister beginning. In Roger Ebert's review of the film he writes, "M. Night Shyamalan's 'Signs' is the work of a born filmmaker, able to summon apprehension out of thin air."

* Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Director by Philip Kaufman; screenplay by W.D. Richter, based on a book by Jack Finney
Humans are systematically replaced by aliens who stealthily duplicate them. If you've seen this particular adaptation no doubt Donald Sutherland's other worldly howl is etched in your memory forever like it is in mine.

* Prometheus (2012)
Directed by Ridley Scott; written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof
I didn't group this with the other Alien movies above because Prometheus is a very different sort of film. For me the creation of the alien wasn't the most interesting element about this one—the glimpses at humanity's creators were.

* War of the Worlds (2005)
Directed by Steven Spielberg; screenplay by Josh Friedman and David Koepp, based on a book by H.G. Wells
Relentless, terrifying and realistic—humanity struggles to survive an alien onslaught.

War of the Worlds
War of the Worlds

At one point, for several months after finishing Come See About Me, I considered writing another book focused on a main character in his or her early adult years. I had a couple of ideas floating around at the time — one centred around an eighteen year old guy recently out of high school and who would've been in university if not for other issues in his life, the other was about a twenty-year-old girl who leaves college to help take care of her older sister's young kids when her sister is struck with cancer. Although I've penned more young adult fiction than anything else, the characters I'm interested in writing about aren't solely ones that fit comfortably in the young adult range and actually extend from twelve to twenty-two or so. That could mean delving into middle grade, young adult or new adult fiction, except that I don't really buy into new adult as a viable category that exists outside of romance fiction anymore.

Nearly all of the new adult books I've seen reviewed or even mentioned fall into a very narrow type — steamy romances between 18 - 25 year olds. I know there surely must be other books dealing with a wider variety of subjects that either aren't garnering anywhere near the same level of interest as the heated romances or perhaps are simply sitting on hard drives because writers don't know quite what to do with them. Then there are novels (not many) that deal with college-age protagonists but have been published as young adult fiction - e.g. Something like Normal (Trish Doller), Just One Year (Gayle Foreman), Love Story (Jennifer Echols).
The Confines of New Adult Fiction

Personally, I'd love to read more books about young people who have left high school behind and are beginning to make their way into the world of adulthood. It's a time of countless possibilities — education, careers, emotional growth to name a few — yet the novels being published as NA for the most part only seem to explore love and sex, and explore them in a very similar manner at that. There's nothing wrong with romance, of course, but currently there doesn't seem to be much room inside NA for stories that don't focus heavily on sex and love, and which seem to see the subject through a very similar lens to one another.

Maybe that wouldn't really matter if the area outside the NA umbrella wasn't largely a dead zone for books about 18 - 25 year olds. If there were ample space for those characters within adult fiction, for example. When I first sent out Come See About Me I considered it an adult book. Then traditional publisher after traditional publisher told my agent Come See About Me's main character, Leah, and the treatment of her situation was too young for adult fiction and too grown for YA, and I figured it must be new adult fiction instead. Where else could the book possibly fit?

Right now it doesn't fit anywhere, as far as I can see — neither in terms of traditional publishers nor the indie publishing scene — and neither would the other novels with slightly older than YA characters I would've written if there were a place for them.

I wish this wasn't the case; I wish NA had been the answer, a space for those characters to comfortably exist. But it isn't. Not the way the genre or whatever you want to term it stands now.

For now, I've stopped thinking of Come See About Me as new adult fiction and, for lack of an approachable market, will leave similar endeavours to writers with either better luck or greater adeptness in carving out a place for stories about 18 - 25 year old characters that don't fall inside the confines of the current new adult mold.

COME SEE ABOUT ME $2.99 at Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | * equivalent prices at other Amazons: £ 1.95 at Amazon.co.uk | Euro Amazons € 2.77 until end of November

Twenty-year-old Leah Fischer's been in a state of collapse since the moment police arrived on her Toronto doorstep to inform her that boyfriend Bastien was killed in a car accident. After flunking out of university and cutting herself off from nearly everyone she knows, Leah's saved by Bastien's aunt who offers her a rent-free place to stay in a nearby suburban town.

Initially Leah keeps to herself, with no energy for anyone or anything else, but it's not long before her nurturing neighbours begin to become fixtures in Leah's life and a much needed part-time job forces her to interact with other members of the community. And when Leah is faced with another earth-shattering event, her perspective on life begins to shift again. Soon Leah's falling into a casual sexual relationship with Irish actor Liam Kellehan, who has troubles of his own, even as she continues to yearn for her dead boyfriend. Clearly she's not the person she thought she was—and maybe Liam isn't either.

Reading level: Adult (mature readers 16+)

TOMORROW (Yesterday Book 2) $2.99 at Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | * equivalent prices at other Amazons: £ 1.95 at Amazon.co.uk | Euro Amazons € 2.77 until end of November

The sci-fi adventure that began with Yesterday continues with a thriller that can also be read as a standalone.

2063, United North America: climate change has rendered great swathes of the country uninhabitable, the rise of robot workers has created mass unemployment, eco-terrorism is a constant threat and a 2059 nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India has torn large holes in the world's ozone layer and pushed humanity's existence towards a cliff.

Nineteen-year-old Garren and seventeen-year-old Freya have managed to escape that nightmare world and lose themselves in 1986 Vancouver. But the future's reach is long, and they're no longer safe there. No one is. Shadowy forces are intent on influencing the past's path. And when Freya is taken, it's up to Garren to save both her, and the future.

Reading level: Young Adult & Up

Sadly, I missed the Toronto International Film Festival this past September because I wasn't capable of standing in line for more than ten minutes (the damn plantar fasciitis and patellofemoral syndrome--—yep, still!). Plus, If you have trouble with your knees you'll know how uncomfortable it can be to sit with them bent for any length of time. But I've still been going to the movies; I just fidget like CRAZY throughout, straightening my legs every fifteen minutes or so. Let me apologize here for anyone I might've driven bonkers (I swear I typically try to pick an otherwise empty row) with my cinema-restlessness!

But what I really want to say is that Australian end of the world flick These Final Hours is exactly the kind of gem I go to the festival to discover, a film you otherwise might miss because it doesn't have a big budget, a wide-release or tons of promotional $ behind it.

Nathan Phillips (James) and Angourie Rice (Rose)  in These Final Hours

What it does have going for it are wonderfully convincing performances from Nathan Phillips (James) and Angourie Rice (Rose) as its central characters and a compelling plotline which begins with the destruction of Western Europe and North America—after the Atlantic is hit by a meteor—and is destined to end with the frying of Australia in twelve hours' time.

Our setting is Perth, Western Australia looking every inch the last outpost of a fast-vanishing civilization. As the film kicks into gear, society rapidly unspooling, James's only plan for the end of the world is to face the moment out of his head so he won't feel the pain of annihilation. But en route to his own personal oblivion, James stumbles upon a situation he can't ignore, rescuing Rose from reprobate abductors.

With the clock ticking down a lifetime shrinks down to hours. As James deals with the hardest questions, we are forced to ponder them ourselves. How do we say goodbye? At the very end, who and what still matters?

If you admired Miracle Mile and Melancholia and are intrigued by the idea of a film that plays like the flipside of On the Beach, These Final Hours is for you, an entirely realistic but not heartless rendering of the end of life on our planet seen through the eyes of one man.

This is week 2 of The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing's blog tour and I want to say an enormous thank you to Giselle of Xpresso Book Tours and Alessandra from Dancing Cat Books for putting together such a wonderful tour so far. I've loved reading all the reviews!                              

There's a tour giveaway for The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing plus other Dancing Cat Books releases so please stop by and say hi along the route somewhere to enter.

You can also read my Back to School post on the Dancing Cat Books blog. The entry comes complete with a perm photo of my seventeen-year-old self with one of my favourite high school teachers.

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing Blog  Tour: Sept 29-Oct 10
Week 1:
September 29th
-Back Porchervations  Review
-Read more-sleep less Guest Post: For the Love of Judy Blume
-Cindy’s Love of Books  Review

September 30th
-Bookshipper Review
-Shayna Varadeaux Books & Reviews  Review

October 1st
-Rhea’s Neon Journal  Review
-Book Lit Love  Review + Top 10 Tips for Debut Authors

October 2nd
-Reading In Winter Excerpt
-Journey with Books  Review
-Daydream Books Playlist Post

October 3rd
-The Book Landers Review
-The Bookish Confections Review

Week 2

October 6th
-A Reader of Fictions Review
-Heather’s Book Chatter  Guest Post: The Importance of Book Covers

October 7th
-Actin’ Up with Books Review
-Sassy Book Lovers  Excerpt
-Creating Serenity  Review

October 8th
-Beneath the Jacket Reviews Review

October 9th
-Becky on Books Interview
-Doodles, doodles everywhere Excerpt
-YA Story Teller  Review

October 10th
-The Young Folks Excerpt
-Loving the Language of Literacy Review + Top 10 List

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing should be arriving in Canadian bookstores within the next week or so and I'm excited at the thought of encountering it out in the real world. It's a strange but good feeling when the characters and situations that had previously only been living in your head (and Word document file!) leap into the outside world.

To celebrate the book's release I'll be doing a blog tour that starts at the end of the month. I hope you'll stop by somewhere along the way! You can click the banner for details regarding when and where I'll be.
The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing Blog  Tour: Sept 29-Oct 10

Meanwhile, during the last few days one of the stories the media has been buzzing about is the leak of nude photos of several famous Hollywood actresses. These kinds of "leaks" don't just happen to famous women, and they shouldn't happen at all. They're a violation, a crime. But in response to this crime, ridiculous articles like this one from Fox news advising stars who want to take nude photos with getting hacked to never upload them online or, better yet, use a Polaroid have sprung up.

Why not go a step further and advise women never to be naked in the first place? And definitely not to have sex! Because if it's discovered that any of us are 1) naked under our clothes, complete with female bodys parts and 2) engage in sexual activities—well, then it's open season. It's our fault simply for being women in the first place!

While many people (including Seth Meyers) are well aware that blaming the women whose privacy was criminally invaded is unjust

culturally, we continue to face an enormous problem. One that all women potentially face as large segments of society cling to damaging double standards. This is partly what The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing is about as main character Serena and several of her friends fall afoul of the thin line of acceptable sexual behaviour they are supposed to display as girls. Actually, instead of thin line we could more accurately call it an impossible line, one where you can garner negative attention for being considered attractive as well as not not attractive enough, one where sexual acts are encouraged and cheered one one hand and then condemned, the girls taking part in them termed sluts and hos, on the other.

A study published in the Journal of Children and Media in June found that adolescent boys judge teenage girls whether they sext or not, calling teen girls who send sexts “insecure” or “slutty” and  and labelling ones who don't as “stuck up”and prudes. Meanwile "boys were virtually immune from criticism regardless."

How do you discover your authentic sexual self in a culture that's not-so-secretly hostile towards you, glorying in dictating and policing your sexual behaviour in the most illogical and—now public—of ways? This is one of the challenges facing young women today. Prejudices of the past mingling with ominpresent technology.

We are never allowed to forget how the rules are different for girls

We can help girls and young women by letting them know we're on their side, that there is nothing shameful about their naked bodies or sexuality, but that who they share those things with should always be their choice. That means instilling these same values in boys—respect for girls as their equals— again and again and again until they, and we all, have incorporated them to the point that things like revenge porn, slut-shaming and sexual bullying become rarities.

In some ways I feel like I've been living this summer inside of a bubble. It seems strange not to be getting out for the long walks that were common for me up until last winter. I hope someday I can return to those, although never ever to the evil manual treadmill that I hold responsible for my current knee and feet woes (they require more force so put extras stress on your joints over the years)!

But I've been sitting outside when I can—a friend and I hung out by the lake for a good two hours this past Saturday afternoon, and each week Paddy and I've been hitting the Tuesday evening performances by the Oakville Wind Orchestra.

Several years before I moved to Oakville I worked with a woman who lived here. I can't remember exactly what she told me about the place except that she spoke of it in glowing terms. So much so that when Paddy and I decided to leave Ireland for Canada (man, was I homesick!) I was sure that Oakville was the place we should ultimately head for. Since then we've both fallen ever more in love with the town because of things like the lovely lakefront parks, the picturesque downtown streets, the jazz festival, the summer wind orchestra times, and the GO Train system (which makes it easy to get into Toronto whenever you like).

So if you don't know Oakville but happened to read about it in my new adult book, Come See About Me, I swear I'm not just making Oakville sound good, it truly is a terrific place to live.

Anyway, the below photos of Oakville were all taken yesterday but pretty much sum up most of my summer (I've also seen a fair amount of movies—another sitting activity—but the cinema is no place for taking pictures!).

August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

Often we follow wind orchestra night with gelato from one of a handful of places in the area. My favourite flavours are pistachio (La Dolce Vita on Lakeshore makes their with pistachios from Sicily) and lemon vanilla custard, but last night's chocolate orange was scrumptious, as was Paddy's scoop of Ferrero Rocher.

August 5, 2014

Good evening, moon. I will miss these long, balmy evenings with you.

August 5, 2014

Hanging out by the water's edge, watching the boats go by...

August 5, 2014

and wondering precisely what the not-so friendly ghost does. I'm guessing with a title of 'not-so friendly' he or she is just a little on the cranky side rather than being a full-blown horror meaning there's probably nothing to fear.

August 5, 2014

Of course, in the run up to the September first release of The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing I've also been doing things like looking at copy-edits and page proofs. There'll be a blog tour shortly after the release. I'll post details when I have them. In the meantime Canadians can enter to win 1 of 5 copies (international giveaway to follow!).

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing by C.K. Kelly Martin

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing

by C.K. Kelly Martin

Giveaway ends September 10, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
I hope all the Canadians out there had a fantastic Canada Day, and the Americans, a terrific Fourth of July! Paddy and I try to make it out to the local fireworks display every year, and this one was no exception. As you can see from the below photos, it was a perfectly clear summer evening with plenty of Canadian pride on display.

Canada Day, Bronte, Oakville, 2014

Canada Day, Bronte, Oakville, 2014

Canada Day, Bronte, Oakville, 2014

Canada Day, Bronte, Oakville, 2014

If I'd had it together (and not been spending so much time watching the World Cup lately!) I would've posted this video of astronaut Chris Hadfield and his brother, Dave singing about Canada on Canada Day. You can read the lyrics and chords here.

While my Goodreads Come See About Me contest concluded earlier this week, and the winners been sent out their books, my summer giveaway continues with the chance to win signed copies of sci-thriller Yesterday AND its sequel Tomorrow. If you haven't read them yet but can imagine something like Looper meets an Inconvenient Truth meets Say Anything but in book form, you'll get a good idea of what the novels are like.

Come See About Me, Yesterday, Tomorrow by C. K. Kelly Martin

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Yesterday by C.K. Kelly Martin


by C.K. Kelly Martin

Giveaway ends August 02, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Because the Netherlands vs Costa Rica match will be starting shortly I have to wrap this entry up! But before I go I want to recommend some fun summer reading for kids ten and up—Governor General’s Literary Award finalist Deborah Kerbel's new book: Bye Bye, Evil Eye.

Here's the blurb:

A summer trip to Greece seems like the perfect chance for thirteen-year-old Dani to spend some time on the beach, help her bookish best friend Cathy get her first kiss, and maybe find some summer romance of her own. But when bad luck begins to strike over and over, and continues to strike when she returns to her home in Toronto, Dani starts to wonder if she is cursed. Literally. Cathy tells of the “evil eye,” and warns that a curse may have been put on Dani by a mysterious girl whose path she crossed in Greece. Dani gets sick, injured, and her family car is vandalized. Is it the “evil eye,” or is someone out to get Dani? And what bizarre lengths will Dani go to as she tries to get the curse lifted?

I finished reading it the other day and am now hoping Deborah's planning a sequel for Dan and Kat! Get a load of the snazzy trailer. It's one of the best I've ever seen.

Now, Go Netherlands!
I'm reluctant to count down to September, because who wants to wish summer away? But it's 77 Days until The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing's release! Voila the newly-finished trailer:

While it's technically not summer just yet, it sure feels like the season has arrived. I've already watched a couple of summer blockbusters (and enjoyed X-Men: Days of Future Past so much that I'm planning to see it again soon, probably just after Edge of Tomorrow). I've also been on several gelato-oriented outings in the past few weeks and on Sunday afternoon dragged my Frankenfeet outside to lounge in the sunny barbecue grounds of our condo along with the rest of me. They may not be up for much lately, but the Frankenfeet appreciate a sunny day as much as anyone, as long as they can sit down while doing it!
Summer Giveaways at Goodreads: Come See About Me, Yesterday, Tomorrow, The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing by C.K. kelly Martin

To celebrate the return of fine weather, and the upcoming release of my brand new book, I'll be holding several Goodreads giveaways over the course of the summer. The first one, for my new adult book, Come See About Me is open now. Draw date = July 1st.

The next giveaway will open at the beginning of July with a draw date of August 1st. Winners will receive signed copies of my YA sci-fi books, Yesterday AND Tomorrow.

Finally, on September 1st I'll be giving away FIVE copies of my brand new contemporary young adult book, The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing. The giveaway will open at the start of August.

* All contests will be open to residents of Canada and the United States. I wish I could send some lemon custard gelato to the winners too, but I think that might get a little messy.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin

Come See About Me

by C.K. Kelly Martin

Giveaway ends July 01, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

In restrospect, paying a visit to the Toronto Zoo at the end of March—when my plantar fasciitis was already a chronic problem and my knees even unhappier than my feet—wasn't the brightest idea. But fourth month old Humphrey beckoned. How could I resist?

And he was adorable. Have a look:
Humphrey at four months, Toronto Zoo

Humphrey at four months, Toronto Zoo

Humphrey at four months, Toronto Zoo

If you haven't already, you might want to take a look at Humphrey's video album clips of his early days. Here's one of my favourite videos—Humphrey's first steps:

And here are Humphrey's parents in the water (family friend hanging out on the rocks in the background).

polar bears, Toronto Zoo, March 29

If you've ever been to the Toronto Zoo, you'll know it's huge. 2.87 km² to be exact. Paddy and I didn't walk all of it that day at the end of March, but we didn't exactly take it easy either. Seeing the pandas was another must. I hadn't laid eyes on pandas in person since the last time they were at the Toronto Zoo, way back in 1985.

This time around a wide-eyed little girl in a stroller was peering at the pandas at the same time as we were. I'm not sure how old she was, definitely not more than a year, but her mother informed us that she had a beloved plush toy panda at home and now couldn't believe her eyes. Indeed, awe lit up this little girl's face like a sunny July. Yes, pandas are REAL. There is true magic in the world.

Panda Bear, Toronto Zoo, March 29

Panda Bears, Toronto Zoo, March 29

Magic and beauty like the stunning white lions, and all sorts of intriguing creatures from Australia's Kookaburra to a brand new mountain gorilla baby.

White Lions, Toronto Zoo, March 29

So I'm not the least bit sorry I went to the zoo at the end of March, but I couldn't do it now. For the last six weeks or so twenty minutes of standing/very ginger walking has been my absolute maxium, which meant I had to cut the Dublin trip short. As it was, the majority of my holiday looked much like this, and I've been spending countless hours in the night splint sock since returning to Canada too.

CK in Night Splint sock, Dublin

Yep, I'm pretty much housebound. But I'm very grateful for the time I had visiting with family and friends while in Ireland, and am already looking forward to the next trip. In the meantime I'm continuing to do battle with plantar fasciitis, tendonitis and patellofemoral syndrome. My latest weapon is orthotics. Voila the molds of my Frankenfeet

feet molds

feet molds

which were used to produce some incredibly hard custom insoles designed to correct my specific feet imbalances. Luckily, I can still type and so none of this will interfere with revisions on The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing that I'm expecting later today.

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing

Me and my Frankenfeet will be back online once I'm done editing. Meanwhile, If you happen to visit the Toronto zoo, please give Humphrey my love!

Whoah, my contemporary new YA, The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing, is now up for pre-order at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Indigo/Chapters, the Book Depository and Barnes and Noble. Release day is only 105 days away...September 1st!

Here's the catalogue copy: Losing weight over the summer gains Serena some popularity, but it also means discovering first-hand the pains of being a fifteen-year-old girl in a world that both sexualizes and shames young women. After narrowly avoiding exploitation in a shortlived relationship, Serena aligns with a new friend who was the victim of an explicit image that was shared at school. When Serena finds herself in a relationship with a new guy, she is surprised to find a different set of expectations. But have her previous experiences damaged her too much to make it work? As Serena struggles to find who she is as opposed to who she is expected to be, she begins sighting Devin — her older brother who disappeared months earlier.

Out September 1st!

The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing by C. K. Kelly Martin
Dancing Cat Books, 2014
1770864113 (ISBN13: 9781770864115)

More info coming soon!

Add to goodreads
It's that time of year again—the season when sun and warmth return to the land, and when Canadians look forward to receiving Prime Minister Harper's annual Easter card in the mail. As has become tradition, I've scanned in the Prime Minister's Easter card so Canadians who happen to be out of the country or who didn't receive their greeting (possibly due to the phasing out of Canada Post!) before the holiday can have a look.

Maybe it's just me but this year's card seems to contain a certain ennui, perhaps a sense that Stephen's time at the helm is fading. Nonetheless, professional that he is, Steve-o still showed up for the Easter photoshoot. He clearly doesn't want to let Canadians down——except when it comes to human rights, the environment, gun control, job creation, and other, er, trifling matters.

Happy Easter, peasants. Your czar, Stephen Harper

View Easter cards from other years:

Now I know why Frankenstein's monster usually looks so miserable. It's not existential angst or loneliness, not even body image problems. Nope, none of that. What's wrong with Frankenstein's monster is foot pain. Specifically, plantar fasciitis.
Mayo Clinic definition: "pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes."
I can tell by the look in his eyes. This guy is in physical agony.

No doubt all his joints ache. But the soles of his feet, they're in excruciating pain. He feels like gravity is pummelling his soles into the hard ground beneath his feet. If he sits down, for a few minutes of relief, his feet howl at him when he rises again. But staying on his feet for more than a handful of a minutes at a time is a problem too. The pain is more or less constant.

When he's sleeping the stabbing pain wakes him at least once a night, and makes it difficult for him to fall asleep in the first place. Granted, he probably wouldn't sleep like a log anyway, because of the other issues I mentioned, like the existential angst and feelings of alienation. But it's the feet——the plantar fasciitis——which is Frankenstein's monster's numero uno problem.

How do I know this? I recognize that haunted PF look in his eyes because, man, I'm feeling that Frankenstein's monster foot pain big-time. For the first while——and by that I mean, like, the first year——the foot pain didn't interfere with my life very much. My heel hurt a little when I got on my feet after a period of sitting or sleeping and then the pain swiftly disappeared. My doctor suggested I wear supportive shoes at all times, even indoors (staring at this full length photo of the monster, I seriously think he needs to get his hands on some New Balance running shoes!) and I did.

But that didn't help. Instead the pain got worse. Then my knees started to hurt too. Not a lot and not often. But enough for me to return to the doctor, who diagnosed patellofemoral syndrome (runner's knee) on top of my plantar fasciitis. She prescribed physiotherapy, and off I went, happy to hear from my physiotherapist that I should begin to feel better in 2 - 3 weeks and be back to my old self in 8 - 10. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and instead my condition got exponentially worse. After 5 weeks I was advised to drop the physio, and now, about a month afterwards, I'm at a place where the last two weeks have been the worst yet.

The arches of my feet are in severe pain. They're most comfortable when I'm lying down, but even then they feel stiff and achy, like someone else's feet have been roughly attached to my body. Sometimes darting pains wake me up at night. During the day, I can't be on my feet for more than a handful of minutes at a time before the pain becomes unbearable. Sometimes the pain is so bad I'm driven to tears and chills. My knees can't handle stairs and feel like they're being sliced into if I squat or bend at the knee at all, or even sometimes if I don't. My calves are so tight that they feel as though they're about to snap and my IT band is a mess too. My normal gait doesn't exist anymore. I limp and wince.

Just yesterday I began seeing a sports doctor who says my severe case of plantar fasciitis gave rise to patellofemoral syndrome in both my knees and has affected my whole kinetic chain, hence the pain in my legs, thighs, calves and, well, just about everywhere from the waist down. I was also diagnosed with this mouthful of a condition: Flexor Hallucis Longus tendinopathy. Lovely, huh? Now I'm going to be trying a number of things she's suggested——some of which will have to wait until I get back from my upcoming trip to Ireland (during which I will be spending more time sitting down than anything!) because orthotics and night splints need to be broken in gradually.

But these ongoing health issues have been crowding my life since December/January and are some of the reasons that I haven't been online often. I'm almost as tired and beleaguered as Frankenstein's monster looks in the top photo! So once I kick this thing I'm determined to search out the poor monster, share my weapons of choice against planter fasciitis and finally, finally bring him some much needed peace.

Additional reading on the condition:

* Everything you need to know about Plantar Fasciitis
*  Plantar Fasciitis article at Sports Injury Clinic.net
*  Plantar Fasciitis -- the most maddening injury in sports
*  Plantar Fasciitis overview at Patient.co.uk
*  Plantar Fasciitis Prevention and Treatment
No Consensus on a Common Cause of Foot Pain

I've just come from a rather long appointment with my GP. Cost to me: FREE. Then follow-up blood-work. Cost to me: FREE. Next, multiple X-rays at the local hospital. Cost to me: FREE. When I can get an appointment with the sports doctor I've been referred to that will also be FREE.
All thanks to Canadian socialized medicine!

Meanwhile Stephen Harper's Conservative government is trying to sabotage "the Health Accord that protects equal care for all Canadians" by quietly "cutting $36 billion over 10 years and breaking the pact that all Canadians should get equal care, no matter what province they live in."

"By pulling out of the agreement, cutting billions in transfers, and letting standards fall across the country, Prime Minister Harper will undermine our public health system.

If he succeeds, cash-starved provinces will face intense pressure to let America’s titanic for-profit companies buy into our system and give us worse care for higher prices."

You can begin the fight for our health care system by emailing your Member of Parliament, Prime Minister Harper and and Health Minister Rona Ambrose via Lead Now.
Don't Let Harper sabotage your health care

Then please pass this message on to everyone across the country. A whopping 94% of Canadians "support public —not private, for-profit— solutions to making the country's healthcare system stronger." We can't let Harper gut our treasured healthcare system.

Yes, February made me shiver. This winter has been unusually brutal, extremely cold and snowy with very few breaks. And I can't believe we lost Philip Seymour Hoffman and Harold Ramis before their times. Such sad news.

This month I also started going to physio for knee and arch woes (ouch!). My dad's furnace broke down and had to be replaced and my mom was in her third snow-related car accident (thankfully she's fine but her car was totalled) within six weeks. So February hasn't been the best of times, but neither has it been the worst of times and I wanted to blog about some of the good things that happened this month before it gets away from me.

Things like Paddy having Valentine's Day off which allowed us to spend the day together. We spent part of it tromping around Oakville in the snow. Indeed the laneways were such a wintery white that the town nearly appeared like someplace else.
Snowy Oakville Street, February 14, 2014

Below you can see Oakville's " Homecoming Trail" looking ever so pretty in the snow. If you gaze closely enough you'll see the pier jutting off to the left. Even years after writing Come See About Me the location always make me think of Leah and Liam!

The Homecoming Trail,. Oakville, February 14, 2014

I felt a bit sorry for this reindeer buried under layers of snow in a Christmas arrangement outside a local business. Surely with the holiday long behind us the reindeer should be off duty by now and allowed to go on its merry way?

Buried Reindeer, outside an Oakville business, February 14, 2014

Wonderful Canadian author Monica Kulling (who penned the Mister Dash books and the Great Ideas series) very kindly sent me a copy of her beautiful new picture book, The Tweedles Go Electric this month. Thanks so much, Monica! The Tweedles have already garnered a glimmering star from Kirkus which described the book as, "A fine joke, well-delivered, and as clever as it is timely."

And here's what I had to say on Goodreads:

"The clever Tweedle family are bound to attract a slew of young fans with this infectiously fun and visually fetching tale. I wanted to jump into the book the way Mary Poppins and her young charges did with chalk drawings, and stay there awhile."

The Tweedles Go Electric by Monica Kulling

Don't you just love the Tweedles' spiffy green electric automobile? Every time I look at the cover I like to pretend I'm the woman on the Penny Farthing bicycle.

I couldn't possibly talk about February without mentioning the fantastic Blue Rodeo gig Paddy and I caught at Massey Hall on the 20th. If you live in the GTA you'll remember that day as the one we caught unexpected late afternoon/rush hour snow which turned to evening rain. But what better way to spend a rainy night than watching Blue Rodeo play most of the tracks from their new album, In Our Nature, as well as old favourites like Rose Coloured Glasses and 5 Days in May? You can take a look at the entire setlist here.

We were fortunate to have fourth row centre tickets and from my seat I had a good view of one of the security folks singing along with Head Over Heels (he knew all the words) in the centre aisle.

Below are a handful of concert shots I took on the night, and to hope that the rest of the month will be as much fun as the Blue Rodeo show would be wildly unrealistic, but at least I have The Tweedles and their world to keep me company. There's no snow where the Tweedles live, I've noticed, and no chilly temperatures. No need for snow tires or outerwear any heavier than a blazer!

Blue Rodeo, Massey Hall, February 20, 2014

Blue Rodeo, Massey Hall, February 20, 2014

Blue Rodeo, Massey Hall, February 20, 2014

Blue Rodeo, Massey Hall, February 20, 2014

Blue Rodeo, Massey Hall, February 20, 2014
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