Historical Fiction

Redheads Writing In Cafes and Mindfulness

(except when it’s my bedroom)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about mindfulness, how we treat people and I have been taking every opportunity to listen to other’s stories. We are living in a time when people have had enough, have been pushed too many times, and are rising up! We need to continue to educate ourselves on the issues, how we can help, and how we can just be better people!

Earlier this week, I posted about this on my Instagram and want to expand on it, not only because it affects me personally, but because I see it happen way too often to friends and so many others, is body shaming. IT HAS TO STOP! Shaming is bullying. Point blank.

Over the last few months, I’ve been fat-shamed a few times. Both in public and online. A friend this week, who is a fucking Goddess, was fat-shamed. It also happens to her quite often. Another friend who lives a 1930s lifestyle is constantly fat-shamed because she isn’t as slender as the women from the era… women who were thin because they were literally starving due to The Great Depression. These are only a couple stories! We read and hear this all the time and we shouldn’t be!!! This goes beyond fat-shaming as well. I’ve heard from friends with physical disabilities and a few friends who are transitioning, that they have been shamed many, many, many times!

It. Needs. To. Stop! Bullying has long-lasting effects on those who are being bullied. You may not see the damage on the outside, but it is there!

Personally, I try to ignore the shaming, but let me tell you sometimes it’s really hard to restrain myself from lashing out, but I would be doing the same thing they are. I do try my darndest to educate and hope they understand what they’ve done is unacceptable.

While I’m at it, let’s also throw judging people into the discussion. Please don’t do that either! You don’t know their story and even when you think you do, you really, really don’t! Just because someone is smiling doesn’t mean they aren’t in pain! We really need to be mindful of how we speak to others. We all have inner editors and sadly, many of us forget to use them.

Our world needs more mindfulness and compassion. Not more hate

Redheads Writing In Cafes & A Poem

(for those who no longer can, for those who had to be sacrificed to be heard, for those who are just born, we must stand up against what is wrong)

The Dreadfuls

Feelings, feeling, felt
Avoidance, avoiding, void
That void, the one that echos
Remembrance vibrating past memories
Locked into a glass box of fear and dread

Hater, hating, hate
Screams, screaming, deaf
You tell them your pain
Your scars pulsating for centuries
Why can’t they hear your wails beyond the glass jar

Fighters, fighting, fight
Chanting, chants, warriors
They stomp in rhythm
Building walls to protect their inheritance
Names tapped into stone with too many to read

Breath, breathe, breathing
Justice, fairness, healing
If we can listen, can we not learn
Repeating what our fathers said
Will only burn all of the buildings to the ground

Mother, Mother’s, Mama
Fear, anger, love
We can fix what was once unfixable
Stand up for those who cannot
Push back against those who won’t

Together, togetherness, gather
Whole, circle, live
Push back, push forward, reach out
Give a hand to help and pull them up
Shout with them and let them be heard

Redheads Writing In Cafes (except when it’s from my bedroom) The History of Toronto Laneways

If you recently saw my blog post about Bat Adventures Laneway Style, you will know that I’ve recently started exploring the laneways in my neighbourbhood. Since starting this, I have gotten more and more fascinated by the history of laneways in Toronto. I know many others are as well, so I thought I would do a blog post about it.

Toronto’s laneways have a fascinating history and were considered mixed-use. “Toronto’s laneways historically were mixed-used.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they housed services, from stables and dairies, to blacksmiths, and were avenues for coal delivery. With that in mind, what role should a 21st century mixed-use laneway play in our city?” (source eraarch.ca/) Today these same laneways mostly house garages.

Many of those same laneways also had beautiful coach houses! Sadly, I had a really hard time finding any photos either vintage or current. I imagine that there was a lot of hustle in bustle in those laneways in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. If those laneways could, they would have wonderful stories to tell.

When I am finally allowed to, I plan on doing a deeper dive, especially in The Junction/High Park/Roncesvalles/Parkdale area via The Junction Archives and The Toronto Archives. I will do a follow up blog post then. In the meantime, below are some links about the history and great information of Toronto’s laneways.

http://www.eraarch.ca/2019/uncovering-the-potential-of-torontos-laneways/

https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/88a5-Changing-Lanes-CCM-March-29-2018-AODA2.pdf

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2014/03/22/the_hidden_history_in_torontos_back_lanes.html

Art In Laneways

Toronto has some famous laneways for it’s art that boast a variety of styles and artist work. One in particular is called Graffiti Alley and it can be found south of Queen street and running between Augusta and Spadina. It is a photographers dream. Many more of Toronto’s laneways have stunning graffiti and art, you just need to go looking for it. Recently, we have started exploring the laneways in the High Park/Roncesvalles/Junction area and have been stumbling across both graffiti and individual artists work. We found below in an laneway just off of Humberside.

Toronto needs to utilize it’s space better and there is a lot of potential for laneways. Please check out The Laneway Project. They are working to unlock the potential of Toronto’s laneways.

When we were in Japan I was in awe of the usage of space. Most laneways had stores or restaurants or hidden doors to magical places. Wandering down a random laneway brought so many wonderful surprises. Toronto really needs to learn from Japan.

If you would like to also explore Toronto’s laneways, there is a map showing where they all are! https://www.thelanewayproject.ca/torontolanewaymap

Here are some links to articles about art in laneways in Toronto.

https://www.seetorontonow.com/my-toronto/toronto-street-art/

https://streetart.to/

https://locallove.ca/places/how-one-organization-is-revitalizing-torontos-laneways/#.XtUfcppE1QI

Redheads Writing In Cafes (except when it’s from my bedroom) Discovering New Things

Do you ever come a cross something new, that isn’t new and secretly yell at your friends for not telling you about it! Then those friends usually say… we thought you knew! That happened recently! For the first time, I discovered that Boris Karloff had a series called Thriller. Now to do you all a favour, so you know what I now know, I’m also going to tell you about a few other things he starred in that you may or may not know about, plus a few other classic suspense/horror TV shows you may love just as much as I am. This way we can stay friends.

Thriller (also known as Boris Karloff’s Thriller and Boris Karloff Presents) is an American anthology television series that aired during the 1960–61 and 1961–62 seasons on NBC. The show featured host Boris Karloff introducing a mix of macabre horror tales and suspense thrillers. (source Wikipedia)

Thriller (70s version) Anthology series of self-contained episodes with the genres ranging from murder mystery to suspense to psychological and supernatural horror. It ran from 1973 to 1976.

Ghost Story (later re-titled Circle Of Fear) is an American television horror anthology series that aired for one season on NBC from 1972 to 1973. Executive-produced by William Castle, Ghost Story featured supernatural entities such as ghosts, vampires, and witches. The show’s format and tone drew comparisons to NBC’s Night Gallery and ABC‘s The Sixth Sense. (source Wikipedia)

The Veil is an American horror/suspense anthology television series produced in 1958 by Hal Roach Studios.

The series is hosted by Boris Karloff, who also acts in every episode but one. Episode plots allegedly were based upon real-life reports of supernatural happenings and the unexplained. Ten of the 12 episodes begin and end with Karloff standing in front of a roaring fireplace and inviting viewers to find out what lies “behind the veil”. (source Wikipedia)

Redheads Writing In Cafes (except when it’s from my bedroom) Be A Pain In The Ass!

While doing yoga today, (day 128 for those keeping track), the term ‘you are such a pain in the ass’ kept popping into my head. As a child, I was told that often, that and ‘stop being such a pain in the ass’. What that meant in my case was I was questioning everything. Everything! I know I used to drive everyone nuts. There are a few incidents that really stick in my memory.

Incident number one that I clearly remember in my minds eye is my Brownie leader complained all the time about me to my mother. When it came time to move onto Girl Guides, the leader said I couldn’t join. Because… wait for it. I asked too many questions. My mother was furious and told the Brownie leader off, then turned to me and said they didn’t deserve me. It wasn’t the first or last time my mother would stick up for me in this way.

Quite often I talk about my Grandma Betty and how she influenced me, but I don’t talk about my own mother enough. I do mention how she taught me to sew and that she always made sure I had art supplies. I talk a lot about how she used to draft and sew our clothes when we were kids. I talk about a lot of creative things regarding my mother, but I don’t talk enough about how she influenced my entire life.

There are a lot of similarities between my mother and I. We are both the oldest child in our families. We are both creative. We are both stubborn. We are both pains in the ass. I truly come by this honestly. As mentioned above she had to stick up for me often. I’m going to talk about a few more incidents, because they did affect the type of person I became.

My Great Grandpa Bill dying had a huge impact on my life. I was really close to him. As a child who was shy and preferred her own company, I always felt like he was one of the few people I was happy to hang out with. We spent a lot of time together. He was tall, handsome, funny and a great story teller. He told many wonderful ghost stories. I was ten and half when he died. I was devastated by the loss. It was the first time I remember going through depression. Not just grief, but actual depression.

My Great Grandpa Bill came to live with us after the farm house burnt down. He had lived on and worked that farm for many decades of his life. Suddenly, he had no where to go, so my Mom told him to come live with us. I went from seeing him every day, to him being gone. He died of a stroke. If that wasn’t devastating enough, when we went to view his body at the funeral home, I had a complete melt down. The man in the casket did not look like Grandpa Bill. It’s not an exaggeration. The make-up made him look like a weird wax figure. Even my mother will confirm that. From that point on, I was changed. I started to question everything. I started to question death. In fact I became obsessed about it.

When I say I became obsessed, I don’t mean suicide or murder, what I mean is, I started to question what it was. I needed to know what death meant. What happened after you died, to your body, to your soul, after all, my Great Grandpa Bill used to tell me ghost stories. Was he a ghost now? I was relentless. I would not stop asking. In fact, I went to the school library and would constantly harass the librarian to find me a book that explained death. I apparently freaked her out to the point where my mother was called into see the Principal.

“Can you please tell your daughter to stop asking the librarian about death. She is being a pain in the ass.”

Once again my mother was telling someone else off. Saying her daughter was allowed to ask questions. She would not stop me from being a pain in the ass and she didn’t.

The next ‘big’ incident was in grade seven. Our teacher was physically abusive to the boys and a chauvinistic pig and verbally abusive to the girls. Oh the seventies…. One morning, I raised my hand to answer a question, which I got wrong and rather than move onto the next student, he decided to berate me and called me a moron. I of course wasn’t having it. I spit back at him, “If you think I’m a moron, then I’m not doing any more work.” I sat at my desk for the next few hours, hands folded on top of the desk staring forward. He kept threatening to send me to ‘the office’, if I didn’t smarten up. I just kept shrugging my shoulders. He had finally enough of me, got up close to my face and started yelling at me. I yelled back. FINALLY, he sent me to the office. I too had had enough. Every detail, every abuse, every single event that had happened up to the that point was laid out to the Principal. I’m certain I wasn’t the first to complain.

Guess what happened next…. you likely guessed, my mother was called, she told the Principal off, and that was that. By the way, I also have my mother’s temper, it doesn’t come out often, but when it does, you’d better be running.

I was sent back to class, the Principal pulled our teacher out of class and when he returned he was beet red. A nasty look flashed my way and he didn’t talk to me for the rest of the school year, which was fine by me. The abuse also stopped as well. Sadly, for our class only, as I have heard other stories of classes the years after us still dealing with it. I honestly don’t know how he was allowed to continue on, but then again… the seventies, where corporal punishment was still allowed in schools.

That was only a couple examples of me being a pain in the ass, asking questions, sticking up for myself, never backing down. When someone is, it’s because they believe in something or they need answers. If I’m onto something, I keep on it, until I’m satisfied. I will continue to be a pain in the ass.

My mother stood up for me because she wanted me to be a pain in the ass. This woman, my mother raised me to be strong and independent. She raised me to be able to get the fuck out of Wiarton and survive on my own. I know it is something she had hoped for herself. I often wondered and still do, if she constantly pushed me explore being artistic, because deep down inside, she wanted to be an artist herself. I wonder if she will ever admit that.

Mamma bird did her job well, because I left and have never looked back. I never will. To this day, she herself continues to be a pain in the ass and sticks up for the ones she loves.

If you take anything away from this, I hope it’s this. When you believe in something, love something, need an answer to something, be relentless, be stubborn, never give up. Succeed in getting the results you expect.

Be a pain in the ass!

Redheads Writing In Cafes (except when it’s from my bedroom) Why I Love Vamps

No. No. No that kind of vamp. Not a vampire. The silent film vamp! Ok. Ok. Let me explain.

The term vamp (for a woman) originated in during the silent film era. Prior to that it was generally a short form for the word vampire. In the 1920s A Vamp was the combination of the Flapper and the now more public erotic behavior of women. It might have also been used toward a woman who was a tease. Vamp gained even more popularity when silent films began.

Along with my love of silent film, I absolutely a more interesting characters, clothes and their make up was always way over the top. They were saucy. They were seductive. They were sassy. They definitely were bolder, braver and stronger. These were women I would have looked up to if I was around in the 1920s.

Theda Bara was probably one of the most famous vamps or at least a name that is recognizable to most. But… there were more. So many more.

Olga Petrova, Nita Naldi, Pola Negri, even Hedda Hopper (aka Hollywood gossip column queen), and Virginia Pearson, were also incredibly popular vamps, but somehow their names don’t come up as often. Some of these actresses went on to have long careers on stage and screen while others were not able to make it past these roles.

Olga Petrova

Nita Naldi

Poala Negri

Here are a few other great articles on Vamps in the Silent Movies.

https://silentology.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/vamps-your-great-grandfathers-femme-fatales/

Redheads Writing in Cafes except when they are on the road again

I’m on the road again and now saying that, the ‘on the road again song is stuck in my head. Why do I do this to myself? I’m on my way back to Toronto, back to my fella and my own bed. Don’t get me wrong here, I will miss my parents. I am thankful that as a full-time writer, I could be there for my Mom to help her after her surgery. What I won’t miss, is the futon bed/couch torture device. I have the sore hips and bruises to prove it.

Vintage Circus Photos (5)

The bus from Owen Sound to Toronto leaves hella early. We were up at 6 am, to ensure I was packed, fed and to the bus by 7:30. I’m not a morning person, this was and always is a struggle. Yesterday my Mom kept apologizing that we didn’t get to do more things while I was there. I reminded her that I wasn’t up there for a vacation, I was there to look after her. Why must parents feel bad when we look after them? Being there was just like being a kid, my parents couldn’t remember which child I was and my Dad kept mixing Flash and me up. I know I have puppy-dog eyes, but I don’t think my ears are quite that floppy.

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One of the advantages of being at my parents was the lack of distractions the city has. I was able to get a lot more writing and research done. I am hoping to keep up the same pace with I return home. I’m incredibly disciplined and work hard, however, it is easy to procrastinate when you live in a really amazing neighbourhood and have incredibly interesting and fun friends. Being at my parents and my hometown also gave me incredible amounts of inspiration for my novel and reminders as to why ghost stories will always be my favourite genre.

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I’m hoping we get a chance to head back up to my parents again at some point this summer. I didn’t get a chance to hang out near the water this time around but would love to find an opportunity to sit by the water and write. Living near High Park, I can do this whenever I like. Grenadier Pond is a stunning body of water and I always feel inspired when I am near it. I’m sure it has it’s own ghost stories to tell. We are also very close to Lake Ontario and can walk to it in about thirty minutes.  I’m never that far away from water.

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Today is also the first day of summer and the longest day of the year. Fortunately, it is also sunny (enjoy it, it’s raining again tomorrow). Unfortunately, I will be spending the first half of the day on the bus. I would normally go out today and enjoy the extra daylight, but I am likely going to spend it relaxing, on the couch with my fella, finishing off season two of Twin Peaks (refresher for me, newish for him) before we start watching season three. I’ve made it this far without seeing spoilers. I’ve also been spending less time on the book of faces these days, that could explain why. It’s good for the soul to take Facebook vacations. Tonight might also be a good time to watch Jaws again. Always a fun summer movie favourite.

I’m signing off, until next time…. SHARK!

Redheads Writing in Cafes — there’s a storm coming and it’s full of ghosts

And… it’s raining again. This edition of Redheads Writing in Cafes is brought to you from the kitchen table. At some point, I will head to the front covered porch to work on my novel.

ghost-cloud

The sky is beautiful gray and gloomy and the dark clouds are rolling in over the horizon It’s beginning to look like nightfall. This ghoul loves the gloom, the dark skies, and thunderstorms. I’m not a huge fan of the constant rain. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, I will melt. According to the radar, a thunderstorm will be hitting soon and there is now a severe thunderstorm watch. I had to leave Toronto to get all this stormy weather.

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Between the times of 7:30 and 9 am the crows are at their peak of loudness. Apparently, this is when they are feeding their young. The feeding frenzy is a feast to my ears with the loud cawing vibrating through the evergreens. As soon as the rain starts they head for shelter. Do you blame them? Instead, I’m now stuck listening to the incessant sounds of the seagulls. Yes, I am a bird snob. I’m hoping when the rain stops, the crows will return. I’m still on a mission to take a good photo of them.

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Yesterday evening we went for a drive down by the bay shore. I asked my Dad to drive past the Anchor Inn (the old Inn, not the restaurant) as I wanted to get a reference shot. Growing up, I heard many incredible ghost stories about the Anchor Inn, in addition to a few other local buildings. At one point I had a few books about haunted areas along the Bruce Peninsula, but it was lost (amongst other books) during a move that happened ten plus years ago. Of course, I need them now for research. I’m sure I can find another copy, I feel like it was written by either Terry Boyle or Bruce Bell. Time to cruise on over to the Toronto Public Library!  One of the other houses I wanted a picture of has been torn down and it’s been too wet to trek out to the McNeill Mansion. Fortunately, there are lots of photos available online of the McNeill Mansion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_McNeill).

 

Now that I’m back in research mode, I will need to pull out the books I still have. There are also a few websites that have some information that is helpful. If only I could find the exact information I need. In the late 1980s and 1990s, I was obsessively researching ghosts and hauntings. I did this with a few other people. I’ve always been interested in ghosts and ghost stories and have written lots of short stories (hidden away in a folder somewhere) about ghosts. It’s funny how this knowledge creeps back to my frontal lobe cortex just when I need it most. Being in my hometown has brought a lot of this to the surface. There are many ghost stories to tell and I need to tell them. Now if I could just find those books and if the crows would finally cooperate with me!

Websites/Databases:

https://coldspot.org/category/haunted-ontario-database/

http://www.hauntedplaces.org/Canada/Ontario

http://www.theparanormalseekers.ca/places-weve-investigated.html

http://www.torontoghosts.org/

http://www.chapsparanormal.ca/chaps/investigations.html

Until tomorrow… stay ghostly.

 

Redheads Writing in Cafes — except when it’s raining and from my parent’s kitchen table

Rain, rain, go away
Come again some other day
We want to go outside and play
Come again some other day

Raise your hand if you sang this nursery rhyme as a child. I did then and am singing it now. It’s pouring here right now and isn’t going to be letting up until Monday, which is fine on one side of the coin since I am looking after my mother and am writing. However, on the other side of the coin — ENOUGH WITH THE RAIN ALREADY — I want to be able to go outside, go for a walk, get some exercise. I know, I know, stop complaining, it could be worse, we could be having a drought. Blah Blah Blah Blah. Seriously, it’s overcast, gloomy and my kinda weather, minus the rain. Seriously, I want to go outside and without an umbrella. Ok. Enough of the whining.

When it’s raining, I love to watch schlocky 1950s, b-movie, horror, and sci-fi. The schlockier the better. When I’m not at home and near my DVD collection, I’m grateful for YouTube and the growing selection of bad, I mean b-movie selection. There is such an incredible selection and one could easily spend days binge watching. Some of my favourites are movies such as The Screaming Skull, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, Plan 9 From Outer Space (actually any Ed Wood Jr. movies), Eegah!, The Manster and all of the Universal Monsters pictures.

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The dream is to have my own schlock horror channel. It is one of my projects to be started after I get the first draft of my novel finished. I will also need to purchase a light and some clip-on microphones, but worst case, I can borrow these items till I can get my own. Channels such as Macabre Theatre and many of the ones I watched as a kid inspired me. I even wrote a blog about it, that you can read by clicking here

I’m not generally a morning person, but my parents and the crows are up at that crack of freaking dawn, so I have been as well. The gloom outside actually gave me that ah-ha moment I needed, for a place I was stuck in my novel. There was a very important scene I have been writing around, trying not to get myself stalled. Today it clicked. I know what that scene/chapter and arc will be!

Well kiddies, I am closing off this blog entry for today and back to working on Freaks and Grimm.  If you are looking for something to watch on this rainy Thursday, here are some movies I suggest. If you click on them, you will be taken to the YouTube video.

Until then… stay gloomy!

The Screaming Skull   

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

Manster   

Eegah!

The Next Big Thing Interview

I was asked by my friend and fellow scribe Heather Wood to participate in “The Next Big Thing” project. TNBT is a way for wordsmiths to promote upcoming work. Basically, a writer answers ten questions about a new work and then get other writers to do the same. However, I’ve added a bit of a twist to my list.  I think that playwrights, bloggers and songwriters should be part of this as well, so… here are my Next Big Thing Q & A’s:


Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?  The Treadle

Where did the idea come from for the book? I was I was around 5 or 6 my Mom inherited her Grandma Brown’s Treadle sewing machine (made in 1889).  I became obsessed with it.  I would actually play games where I would open the drawers and pretend there were magical creatures hidden in them.  As I got older, my obsession turned to designing doll clothes, then eventually my own clothes.  I learned how to sew on it.  As I sat there running the petal with my foot I would come up with stories about the kinds of women who might have also used it.

What genre does your book fall under?  Literary Fiction.  Though there will be a bit of historical fiction in it as well, as it spans time from the early 1900’s to mid 1980’s.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
Though they aren’t Scottish (Elizabeth is Scottish), I picture a young Elizabeth played by Kate Winslet and older Elizabeth would be Helen Mirren.  The book itself has 3 female protagonists.  Elizabeth, Carrie and Lizzie. Grandmother, Mother, Daughter.  I’m not sure who I’d cast for the rest of the characters.  Knowing me, it would be a mix of quirky Canadian and British actors.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Three women, three generations, with one very powerful object that ties them all together.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Once the manuscript is done, I will be sending it off to a publisher.  I’ve already lived through the world of self-publishing and feel this novel deserves so much more.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? The story has been with me since I was a kid. I finally sat down and started working on it between other projects over the last 2 years.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?  I don’t like comparing what I’m writing to other books, because they all stand on their own, although I am inspired by many writers.  Just too many to list here.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  A few people inspired this book.  My Great Grandma Brown, whose Treadle sewing machine I inherited, my Grandma Betty, My Grandma Carrie and my mother.  All strong women who have had a lot of influence on the woman and writer I have become.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  Strong female characters.

And now check out The Next Big Things of these wonderful writers.
Kat Leonard
Cathy McKim
Monica S. Kuebler
Brandon Pitts
Marcy Rogers