Beth Burnett

Storyteller

It’s been a very good year. I think, on the whole, it falls more into the joy category than the grief.

1 brutieThere has been some struggle, most of it financial. But I keep reminding myself that I have a roof over my head. I have friends who have helped in bad times. I have a working vehicle. I’m not hungry. I can still rustle up money to donate to my two favorite charities. Life isn’t hard.

There has been some grief, most of it around our aging dog who still has more good days than bad. We feel we’re always on the edge, waiting for that tipping moment. And we have days of tears. But we also have days of love and laughter, long walks, playing with stuffed toys, cuddling.

I became a legal permanent resident of Canada this year. The process wasn’t as hard as I expected, but we were privileged to be able to pay a lawyer to help with the paperwork. (And there was A LOT) The lawyer kept coming back with things we’d missed, more information they needed, more proof of the validity of mine and Joy’s relationship. Finally, when he came back with yet another request for proof, I sent him fifty pages of our Google Hangouts chats going back to the beginning of our relationship. I told him I couldn’t be held accountable for things he might see. I did notice that there were many redacted spots in the final submission, perhaps he deleted all the boob pics we sent to each other. Though we spent about a year gathering documents, once we submitted the final package, the official acceptance didn’t take long. We submitted the whole package in September of 2018 and I became a Canadian in March of 2019.

beth and gordo in CanmoreIn May, my wife and I moved to British Columbia from Ontario. This involved packing most of what we owned into a POD, shoving the rest of it into our sprinter van and driving across Canada with our sixty pound dog and our cat, Gordo. It was the best road trip of my life. Five days in a van with my wife and not a harsh word, no moments of regret.

 

 

 

We laughed, talked, looked at some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. (And some of the most 1 gordoboring – after leaving Ontario and until we got to Calgary things were pretty flat.) The boys were absolute troopers. Gordo didn’t want to be in his carrier, so we let him sleep on Brutie’s bed and they were amazing. At rest areas, one of us would take the dog out while the other stayed with the cat. We took turns going into gas stations for bathroom breaks so the boys wouldn’t be alone in the van. At night, we stayed in a series of pet friendly hotels

 

1 joy and brutie at lake louise

It was an incredible way to get to know my new home. Driving across the country with my family gave me a sense of homecoming. It also gave me a sense of the vastness of Canada – so many unpopulated areas still. In Banff, I saw my first bear. At Lake Louise, we hiked out to see the lake in our hoodies and tennis shoes because it was warm at the lower elevations. And it made my marriage even stronger – I’ve never spent so much concentrated time with someone who was always kind, always interested in what I had to say. When we pulled into Princeton for the first time, the whole family was a unit – we were coming home together and it felt amazing.

In July, I had to miss a writer’s conference that I haven’t missed in years. The Golden Crown Literary Society is the best (IMO) LGBTQ writer’s and reader’s conference of all time. It hurt my heart to have to miss it, but I was dealing with a health problem and long hours of flying from here to Pittsburgh, PA didn’t seem like a good idea. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed some tears during the week of the conference, especially when the pictures started getting posted on Facebook.

 

Joy and I spent the summer, the fall, and most of the winter exploring the outdoors in 1 gordo in strollerour new home. We walked a lot, biked a lot, climbed a lot of hills. We crossed some rivers, found some dead ends, saw a lot of deer, a couple bears, and a Mama moose and her baby. (We didn’t see a cougar, but there were several sightings in our area by some of our neighbors.) We got a pet stroller and took Gordo with us on several hikes.

 

 

 

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We got to know our new home. We acted like tourists – tourists who get to come back to our own comfortable home and our own comfortable bed at the end of the day of exploring. We didn’t do everything we wanted to do before the snowfall, but we did a lot. And we made notes of things we intend to do next year as soon as the weather starts clearing up and we can get out on the bikes again.

 

 

We ate a lot of healthy vegan food. We ate some unhealthy vegan food. We spent a lot of time in Keremeos, haunting the fruit stands. We bought pounds and pounds of tomatoes and I made gallons of sauce which we promptly breezed through and now wish we had more.

I got to know Joy’s parents – delightful, kind people who instantly accepted me as if I have been part of the family forever. They were a big reason we decided to move to BC. That and the fact that once we realized it would be far easier for me to immigrate to Canada than Joy to immigrate to the U.S., we needed to find a place we liked better than where we were in Ontario. And we wanted to buy a house, something we couldn’t afford where we were living before.

No regrets, y’all. 2019 has been a year of big changes. Huge changes. And here at the end, I can honestly say I have no regrets. My only New Year’s resolution is to be able to same the same at this time next year.

I had a great reading year on 2019. I read a couple I wish I hadn’t (Hi Dave Eggers), but for the most part, I got to sink my teeth into some fascinating, compelling, and well-written books.

*Though this is my 2019 reading year in review, these books aren’t all from 2019. These are just the books I read this year.

The first book I read in 2019 was Sandman by Tammy Bird. Here’s my review from Goodreads.

SandmanSandman by Tammy Bird

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I should note first that I don’t normally read thrillers. I read this one because I heard the author read a five-minute snippet from this book at a reading and it was visceral enough to make me want to check out the book. Once I was in, I was deeply in. The characters are well-rounded and interesting with their individual foibles and their real human conversations. I love how the author delved into the psyches of the different characters, especially when dealing with people who don’t normally get a voice in fiction. The book gave me several gasp-out-loud moments. There were enough twists to keep it interesting and, without giving anything away, a couple of times when I was sure the author was going to do one thing and they took it another direction instead. I liked the bits of comic relief and the human stories behind the mystery. One important aspect of this book is the very real look into a character with autism – something we need more of by authors who do so with the same sensitivity, insight, and love that this author did. I look forward to more from this author.

View all my reviews

I also got to read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishigur – a book I read back in January that I still keep thinking about.

I read Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern based on the recommendation of my friend Nikki who forever gets to recommend books and movies to me because she is always right.

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon was one of the highlights of my year. This incredible spec-fiction, science fiction book is compelling and beautifully written.

After reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, I couldn’t read anything else for several days. It stuck in my mind and heart for a long time. I still have Nickel Boys, another by Whitehead, on my TBR list, but since I know it’s going to wreck me, I’m waiting for the right time.

After that, I was looking for something light and fun and I found it in the The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Such a fun romp through a universe in which a cyborg girl, based loosely on the Cinderella legend becomes an unlikely hero.

I don’t know how I can pick a book of the year for 2019. There are too many amazing books and so many that I’ve missed. Instead of picking a single book of the year, I’ll say of the 28 books I read in 2019, these are the six you shouldn’t miss.

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Today, I’m excited to welcome KD Williamson to talk about fishing, worms, and her new release, Big Girl Pill. Please check it out. You can find contact information for KD, including where to find her book, below.


 

Fish, Cabins and Worms

 

 

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer. I pictured myself living in an isolated cabin in the woods with a Golden Retriever, a typewriter and an endless supply of cocoa that I was going to drink during the summer months as well. The trees around me would be plentiful and tall looking down and, protecting me like sentinels. The creek that circled my home would be of the babbling kind and overrun with fish.

Full disclosure, I’m deathly allergic to fish. The only kind I can eat is tuna. Yes, please giphyinsert bad lesbian joke here. Regardless, the act of actually catching fish used to be something I enjoyed. That is until I developed a fear of worms thanks to the 1970’s horror classic, SQUIRM!

Thanks so much.

Now, what was I saying?

Oh, regardless, being a writer was a dream I held on to for a long time. Much longer than my other dream to be a gynecologist. Okay, insert another lesbian joke here. No, I’m not making that up. You see, I didn’t think I had the smarts to retain all the information to be a doctor. Well, that and I didn’t want to go to school for twenty years. As time passed, the dream to be a writer did too. I never thought I had what it took to be one.

Then, during my Junior year in high school I do believe, the English teacher gave the class a writing prompt to write about an emotional situation. I chose to write about the anxiousness and fear I experienced during an activity at JROTC summer camp. The activity was repelling down a fifty-foot tower. By the time I finished reading my prompt aloud. my classmates, who I’d known since elementary, were staring at me and the teacher had a big ole smile on her face.

Quite a few chimed in on how they could actually see things happening as if they were there and feel my fear. They even laughed at my detailed comical exchange with the army guy; how I was pushed and went down screaming.

It was then that the dream sparked again. Oh, it fizzled on and off for a while until I finally decided to dedicate myself due to real life circumstances. Until I figured out, despite anything else I was doing career wise, I was going to write every chance I got.

BGPcoverNow, here I am on my sixth novel and it’s a book very different from all my others. Yes, it’s a romance. Yes, it has a happily ever after. Yes, it’s full of humor and has just enough angst to bite off and chew. I say different because of the characters and the genuineness and earnestness they radiate. I say different because while it fits the simplistic tropes for friends-to-lovers and second chance romance there’s still an air of complication surrounding it. This could be your story. This could be my story filled with nuance and emotional undercurrent that is strangely familiar.

Just like me, Nina Sterling has to figure out her own path. She’s two women…the woman her mother and fiancé want her to be and the woman that lives inside her struggling to get out. Whereas, Maya Davis’ has her eyes on the prize: to get over the one who got away. Things don’t go exactly as planned and that prize becomes something else entirely. The supporting cast enriches the main characters and stand on their own as well. It’s a book filled with small quiet moments and big ones that are wrapped in hilarity and warmth.

It’s a book I think readers will be surprised by and utterly enjoy.

BGPlips

Links: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081VXQR41/

B and N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/big-girl-pill-kd-williamson/1135086427?ean=2940163578412

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/big-girl-pill

 

Email: Williamson_kd@yahoo.com

Twitter: @rizzleslovr72

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KDWauthor/

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/kdwilliamsonauthor/

I love this video series from Oregon State University. They are brief videos of the university’s professors explaining various literary terms and concepts.

While these videos are great for students and teachers, I also find them interesting as a writer. After all, we should be thinking about literary devices in our writing. And we can’t do it unless we have a firm grasp of what they are.

This is one of my favorites, but all of them are good. Check them out if you’re interested in learning more about literary terms.

Oregon State University educational videos. 

 

 

1 CaptureI swear I drag this book out every few years and try to make a go at learning to draw. In my heart of hearts, I want to be able to create art.

In my reality, however, everything I draw showcases not creative energy, but an absolute lack of artistic talent. I’m like Mulder. I WANT to believe. My heart longs to draw, but my hands say no.

Perhaps that’s why I’m a writer. I have all that frustrated artist energy, but not the talent to go along with it.

Do you have any creative endeavors that burn in your soul, but not in your abilities?

 

fashion art coffee macbook pro

Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

Writing is hard work. It’s solitary, it’s sometimes nerve-wracking. It can be exhilarating and it can be devastating.

There are times when I think I’m on the cusp of landing something huge and there are times I feel I should just go ahead and quit now.

Somehow, those moments of wanting to quit are always ameliorated by the support of other writers. I’m lucky to have a network of supportive writer friends who reach out at just the right time. I’m blessed to be married to a writer who understands the exhilaration and devastation that comes from the acceptances and rejections. I’ve been the recipient of gift cards for groceries from other writers during tough times. I’ve had writers read my works and give me constructive feedback. I know writers who send just the right humorous meme at just the writer time. There are people who share my blog posts and those who retweet me on Twitter.

I’ve been so lucky to have the support of so many amazing people in my life. One of those incredible people is author Kris Bryant. She has simply shown up for me on several occasions in different ways.

Kris is one of those people who understands that success is not a pie and supporting other authors is not going to take away from her chance to thrive as a writer. She does a lot for a lot of people. She is a talented writer. And more importantly, she is a good person with a great heart.

Writing is hard, y’all. Having a good support system is vital. If you don’t yet have that support system, consider the ways you can support others. It doesn’t have to be financial. You can request a library carry someone’s book. You can share their promo posts on social media. You can read their work, write reviews, mention their name when people ask for book recommendations. You can gather a good support system by *being* a good support system. The rest will follow naturally.


You can find out more about Kris Bryant and her work here.  (You can also pre-order this delightful story there, as well)

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It’s been a month of ups and downs with NaNoWriMo – yesterday, for the first time since November 6th, I actually hit the target of where the NaNo site said I should be in order to finish this project.

 

I’ve gone days without writing and I’ve had days where I’ve busted out 5,000 words. The last time I won NaNo, in 2017, I ended up with an award-winning novel, Coyote Ate the Stars.

This time, I’m feeling pretty good about what I’ve produced over the month of November. It will need some revision, but it isn’t awful. It isn’t just a jumble of furiously pounded out words.

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The picture of inconsistency

Last year, I started my NaNo novel without outlining it. I still haven’t finished that work. In 2017, I had an solid, basic outline. This year, I also started with a good outline. I didn’t always stick exactly to it, but in general, I knew where I was going to start and I knew where I was going to end.

Some people do better writing as a pantser – I never want to get myself painted into a corner that I can’t get out of. And as long as I have the outline, I’m relatively safe from those inescapable corners.

It’s getting close to the end of the month – I still have a little over eight thousand words to write. I don’t know if the novel itself will be finished, but I’m relatively sure I will make the fifty-thousand words.

In some ways, winning NaNoWriMo is a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, I set a lofty goal and I accomplished it. On the other hand, there’s a part of me who’s screaming, “Why don’t you work like this EVERY month?”

As I’ve said before, November is a month of introspection. It’s also the month of a hell of a lot of hard work. Let’s see how these last few days go.