Promoting the Manitoba Writers’ Guild

This past weekend was very busy for me! Both Friday and Saturday, I manned a table at two very different events to promote the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and next Friday I will do the same at ComicCon, for which I am very excited!


On Friday, my cohort, Jodi Carmichael (author of Spaghetti Is NOT a Finger Food) and I talked to English Teachers attending the annual SAGE conference. We also shamelessly promoted our books! (By the way, next spring she will be launching her teen novel, Forever Julia, so stay tuned for that book launch.) During the conference, we had one person renew her lapsed membership and sold one of our Writer’s Blocks – our infamous fundraising gimmick. I sold 2 of my books (Jody sold most of the ones she’d brought with her!) and I  gave away all but one of my business cards, so I’m hoping to be asked into many classrooms during this school year.


On Saturday, fellow board member, Donna Besel, and I attended the Mamingwey Burn Survivor Conference. On the table, we had a sign I created that read, “Everyone has a story. Let the Guild help you tell it.”, which became our theme for the conference. We took turns popping in to the conference room to listen to what some of the survivors had gone through and how they courageously chose the difficult road to recovery, ‘turning their demons into diamonds’, which was the conference theme for this year.


Those of you who have been following this blog for the last couple of years will recall me telling you my brother-in-law’s story and how he came to live with us after he was badly burned when his van caught fire. The organizers of the conference asked him to talk about his ordeal on a panel with three other survivors. He told his story with his usual wry sense of humour, knowing that laughter is the best medicine.

Donna had been asked to give a talk and was prepared to get everyone started with writing exercises, but she had no idea how many people she would be speaking to – over 80! She thought that only those who really wanted to write about their experience would be in attendance. While she was a little nervous at the change in expectations, she took it in stride and had many compliments about her workshop. Many attendees were interested in our programming and we gave away a lot of brochures and a few membership forms.

This coming Friday, I look forward to rubbing shoulders with celebrity guests and authors at ComiCon. It should be a blast. As another fundraiser/promotional gimmick for this event, we are creating a Colouring book with sketches of Manitoba Authors with which the attendees should be familiar – and if they are NOT familiar with them, they will be by the time they colour in all the faces! We at the Guild are trying hard to promote our many local writers of all genres.

Oh, and one last tidbit of information! By Friday, my writers group and I are hoping to have our chapbook, In The Woods, published in e-format so it will be available on-line, as well as sell hard copies at ComicCon. As soon as the e-version is available, I will pass along the details.

So, how was YOUR weekend?


Back to normal – sort of

It’s been a long and stressful summer and fall, but I think things are beginning to normalize. At the very least, there are days when life does return to the way things were ‘before’, the ‘before’ being before Hubby was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It all started when he was having extreme weakness in his extremities, making it impossible for him to do the site visits required with his job. Since he hadn’t been to a doctor in over a decade (our family doctor suddenly gave up his practice with no notice), he finally sought medical advice from his brothers’ family physician.

The doctor was horrified, on that first visit, when he saw the reading on the blood pressure monitor – 265/130! He immediately put him on a regimen of medications; two to control the blood pressure, one to reduce his cholesterol and a diuretic. After a few weeks of taking them, Hubby felt fuzzy-headed, finding it hard to concentrate on work, forgetting things. I read all the information given with each medication and these symptoms were among the side effects listed, so we just assumed things would settle down once his body got used to the medications. That didn’t happen. In fact, things got worse.

His first emergency visit occurred after he collapsed in the bathroom. His legs suddenly gave way under him and he had difficulty getting up off the floor. The strength in his ankles has not been good since he broke them both, almost 40 years and, as he’s aged, arthritis has grown steadily worse, but this episode did not seem to be related to that. The hospital, after running many tests determined that his sodium level was a little low, probably inducing what is known as a vassal Vegal episode – something to do with the main nerve bundle running through the body, determining where to send blood, etc. Obviously, it decided his body needed to concentrate on urinating instead of standing. This was blamed on the low sodium. He was given what he needed and sent home.

His second emergency visit was a result of his blood pressure taking a dive. He managed to drive back to his work after getting the test done, but the folks in his office took one look at him and sent him home, but were conscientious enough not to let him drive himself. The doctor had told Hubby that if he didn’t feel better, to go to the hospital. After a rather starchy lunch, he still wasn’t feeling well, so I took him to the hospital. With all the tests they did, the ER doctor came back and announced, Hubby now has the Big Three – high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, because his blood glucose was 12.5. Apparently, it shouldn’t be higher than 10, even after a starchy meal. Oh, and his sodium was a little low. So, on top of everything else, we now had to watch his sugar intake and add another pill to his daily routine.

After that incident, he got steadily worse. He had no appetite, barely touching the meals I so carefully prepared. His insomnia worsened – hardly any wonder with all that had happened! By the end of the weekend, he was so disoriented and weak he didn’t know what he was doing. He’d go lie down for a nap and he’d be up in an hour or two, having barely slept the whole time. He’d wander around and when I asked him what he was doing, he’d say he was looking for the bathroom. We’ve lived in the same house for almost 35 years and he couldn’t find the bathroom! I decided, that if he didn’t get a good night’s sleep, I would take him to emergency. That night, things were worse than ever. He was up almost every hour, couldn’t find the bathroom and when I’d guide him there, he didn’t know what to do or where he should be peeing! A couple of times during his late night wanderings, he collapsed on the floor or fell onto the cedar chest. When he started vomiting at 6 a.m. I knew I had to get him to the hospital. I tried to get him dressed, but he was so out of it, I couldn’t get him to do anything but get his pants on, so I called for an ambulance.

They gave him the whole gambit of tests; CT scan, EKG, blood tests, chest x-ray. The main thing they found was that his sodium and potassium levels were so low they were almost non-existent. Apparently, that makes a person act like a drunk 5 year old. Who knew? They suggested he stop taking the diuretic, which was making him have to pee every five minutes and, with the urine, taking away all his sodium and potassium. Done. Four days later, he was still pretty confused about things, but they let him come home.

His short term memory was . . . and still is . . . a little short. His math skills were barely comprehensible to him. We tried to play Cribbage in those first few days back home, a game he’s played since he was a teen, and he had no idea what to do with the cards. His job, which all involves numbers, was impossible. He was off work for two months. He’s only back, now, half days and that’s only if he is clear-headed enough to drive in the morning. Some nights, even the sleep aid doesn’t work and he’s up half the night, leaving him so tired by morning he can’t concentrate on anything. Despite all the tests done while he was in hospital, there was no conclusive evidence that he’d had a stroke, although the doctor is beginning to believe there was some sort of stroke-like event that occurred that didn’t show up on any of the tests.

We’re still taking each day at a time, hoping things come back to him so he can function the same as before all this happened. Sorry if I bored you all, but I wanted you to know why I haven’t really felt up to blogging, until now. When he doesn’t sleep, neither do I, so I have very little energy to do anything but take care of him, maybe check emails &/or Facebook on a good day. I want you to know, though, that I am going to try to catch up on what you all have been doing and will have some book reviews posted in the coming weeks, so please stay tuned. Thanks to all of you who have showed concern and stuck around through this ‘dark’ time.

Hope you are all having a great day!