Camaraderie in Axe Throwing

Shared interests create commonality and friendships, even with people who are disparate. 

I forgot that. I saw it when I was a kid watching my parents in their dart league. Through a shared activity, they could chat with other people that they normally might not talk to or have much to talk about with. 

A friend invited me to axe throwing night at his club, Batl: Backyard Axe Throwing League. The scoring is simple and for a more complete description than I could give, check out the FAQ page. At this club, people face off one another in a round robin style tournament each night for a season (eight weeks).

The night was filled with axes bouncing off targets, people throwing one or two handed, people showing me their axes, people sitting at tables and watching others throw axes, and people watching their own scores in comparison to others. It’s a loud but not too loud event where things are happening and everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves. 

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Of course, darts is nothing like axe throwing. One person (who I later learned works at the axe throwing club) visibly winced when I asked about scoring and commented that it was nothing like darts (don’t make this mistake!). Fair play, the scoring is nothing like darts but the camaraderie, the chatter, the ambiance, all of that energy and warm human interaction buzzing around me, was. 

People love to lament nowadays that social media has led us down a path of no human interaction where we lack empathy and understanding of each other. I saw no evidence of that when I watched people throw axes. And guess what everyone was doing every time they threw an axe – exercising and having fun at the same time! It is possible. 

**I didn’t participate in throwing axes only because my shoulders dislocate (subluxate? Physicians, discuss!) when they are out to the side so throwing at or above shoulder height is out of the question, especially large, sharp objects. 

When Words Collide 2019

I’ve been going to When Words Collide for 7 years and the knowledge I’ve gained has taken me much farther in my writing than I would have ever gotten on my own. I attended this year’s festival (check out #wwcyyc2019 for highlights) I was really surprised how many new and different panels there were, ones that I had never seen before so of course I had to go see them. Unfortunately that meant I didn’t make it to enough publisher events but I bought enough books to make up for it. I’ve just started The Dame was Trouble edited by Sarah Johnson (published by Coffin Hop Press) and it’s off to a delicious start with a tale of a shrewd woman looking out for herself even as she holds her hand out to help others.

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Dwayne Clayden’s presentation on “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” had tears flowing (I refuse to acknowledge that any tears touched my cheeks or that my nose was running) and surprised quite a few people, in a good way, with its heartfelt tenderness and fresh honesty. His presentations are always interesting and he’s got a wealth of knowledge from years working as a police officer and as an emergency medical technician (EMT).

Dave Sweet’s presentation on “How to Sell a Life Sentence” was relevant to my own work and so I had to go. I’m never disappointed when I go to his presentations. They are often filled with sad stories of those who have suffered, but his gritty lived experiences give writers and readers a glimpse into the city outside of our house, our car, our workplace where people are experiencing the most powerful stories when their loved ones don’t come home, or their own choices catch up with them. Characters and books and adventures and the theory that we explore at such festivals can often feel disconnected from people out there who may be experiencing their own trials and bridging that disconnection, for those who see that suffering every day, can bring a story to life.

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Next year will be ten years for this fantastic festival! The organizers have done a phenomenal job building a bigger and better festival every year, one where new people arrive with fresh faces and repeat attenders can’t help themselves and gush.

A lot of people give their time and effort to make events happen – presenters, editors, agents, volunteers. I have to give another big thank you and shout out to all who volunteer their time.

#wwcyyc2020 looks like another promising festival. In the meantime, time to put my new knowledge to use. Happy reading and writing!

 

Struggling

I haven’t been exercising at all lately (How off brand! Twirls hair around finger, stomps foot, walks off) and it’s affecting me. I’m quick to lose my temper, all the time, and bubbling with thwarted desires. My mental paralysis is swallowing my home and work life, and yet I’m finding it so hard to get up off my chair, go downstairs at home or go to my gym at work (in my workplace!) and lift those weights or run on the treadmill. Last year, I could get up every morning at 4:30am and go for a run. Now, I only get as close as picturing myself running (is that a start?). 

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Exercise isn’t hard really. All I have to do is make the choice and do it. I can’t really explain why I don’t. I am stuck in many aspects of my life and wonder if this is some weird physical manifestation of that psychological status. It might be. It doesn’t make a difference in the end because I am standing still, not exercising, letting my emotions control me. 

This is where I am right now. Someone once told me to be kind of myself when I was at a low point and this is a semi-philosophy that I have embraced fully. For now, this is where I am – not exercising, focused on writing, and undergoing a lot of self reflection, examining past decisions and the regrets they have led me to. 

The internet appears to be a place where I’m supposed to talk about how everything is great and positive and that I have learned lessons and I’m becoming a better person. I have no idea if any of that is happening right now but I do know that I am stuck. I will not be stuck forever so I will not beat myself up about it or badger myself. Feel this moment and then see what happens. 

To all those who might be stuck out there, that’s okay. Just don’t stay too long (at least that’s what I keep telling myself). To others, let me know what action, plan, thought, motivation, whatever, unstuck you. When Words Collide 2019 is coming up so maybe I will pull myself out of this quagmire at that wondrous celebration of all things writing and reading.

 

Fonda Lee – Kaul Shaelinsan

With Jade War out, it’s long past time I mention Fonda Lee’s Jade City, where Ms. Lee has imagined a new world, a contemporary alternate history with a rich history that intimately informs its present. Cleverly woven in, I can see Lee writing books chronicling the history at which she’s hinted. 

Into this world returns Shae, the youngest of the Kaul clan, even though she had tried to step out of it. 

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Her family is a crime family which doesn’t just have its fingers spread throughout Kekon, they rule Kekon and the city Janloon through their use and control of jade. Jade gives users enhanced abilities, but only if that person has trained to use it. 

Shae, who trained to use jade but chose not to use it, leaves to remove herself from clan business and ensure that she makes it on her own rather than in a world where everyone would assist her to curry favour with her family. To test one’s mettle, to be successful on our own merit drives us forward and it has driven Shae to make herself the most vulnerable by going to a foreign country where no one knows her or cares about her country and learning how to be successful. She returns educated, poised and ready to navigate her family and her country on her own. 

But she returns to the Island that shaped her family and herself and a favour to her brother Lan pulls her back into clan business.

Shae’s quiet workings, a relatively minor character who wants to be minor, reveal a critical weakness that may undermine the whole family. Yet, despite her not wanting to be involved with her family’s business, she makes decisions to protect her family, inserting herself into the business out of a sense of honour and duty. By doing so, her life will be ruled once more by her family. It’s a difficult choice to make but she does so to protect her family.

Her loyalty to her family mean that she has to make difficult choices that pull her into her family’s ways and business. However, there is no doubt or hesitation on her part. She makes the requests of the people around her that have to be made to look after the family’s interests. 

We don’t get to see all the results of Shae’s actions but Jade City laid a lot of promises for Jade War. 

 

Desert’s Daughter is Done!

The first draft is done! 190000 words! 

I finished Desert’s Daughter and I plotted my way through it. Even though I plotted it, my manuscript still managed to surprise me, so that’s delightful!

Editing will come but definitely later…for now, onto another edit of Burnt or maybe writing short stories.  

Time of Day

My favourite time of the day to exercise is early morning. I am more successful at exercising in the morning in the summertime since it is light. We have porcupines and coyotes in our neighbourhoods and parks so walking or running in the morning in the winter is a bit more hazardous. The quiet air lets me hear the birds chirping and the leaves whispering in the wind.

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However,  when I’m working it’s not always feasible for me to take a long walk in the morning so the other time I like to exercise is when I can’t do anything else. I build it into my day so I can’t avoid exercising. For example, if I cycle to work, the only way I can get home is to cycle home. Or if I eat my lunch at my desk, the only lunch break I will get is if I go to the gym.

Both of these strategies help me to stick to my exercise routine, making it something I just do, like getting dressed, rather than something I have to choose to do. The less I have to choose to do, the more likely I am to do something.

What strategies have you found to keep to a new routine?

 

Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns – Rhonda Parrish

Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinns edited by Rhonda Parrish celebrates fire, its capacity to destroy, to liberate, to heal and to provide heat.

Collateral damage, when the results of a decision to help someone cause damage to others or the ones we want to help. We see collateral damage all the time, from politicians to charities to families.

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In The Djinni and the Accountant by Hal J. Friesen, Charlotte finds out that she is a victim of collateral damage. Because of that damage, she has had to work harder and alone to get an accounting eduction and job.

The one who caused the damage offers to fix the damage. Who wouldn’t want to take the hurt that we’ve experienced in the past and wish it away? We’re always told that the hurts we’ve experienced make us stronger, make us the people that we are today.

Maybe. But having experienced that hurt ourselves, we are more empathetic when others experience it, as Charlotte is when she reviews the collateral damage the djinni’s wishes have caused. Being empathetic increases with age (insert link) as we experience more.

Charlotte takes that hurt and turns it to something good when she makes her choice. Not all of us can do that so if you see someone else doing so, see it and commend them.