Tag Archives: Eden Baylee

Thank You BIWP

It’s my final post here at BIWP, and it’s going to be short and bittersweet.

I finally met Kate Austin who invited me to be part of this collective and provided valuable advice when I started writing. She came to Toronto and we had dinner with Nancy, the friend who introduced me to Kate almost three years ago.

The evening was filled with laughter, and Kate was every bit as lovely in person as she’s been in the virtual world.

To everyone who made up this diverse group—it’s been a true pleasure writing with you.

Big hugs to all, and best for 2013 and beyond,


nancy, kate, me


Why I Won’t Follow Users of TrueTwit

I haven’t had a Twitter rant in a while, so I’m due.

Here’s what TrueTwit says about its service – quoted from its website –

“… a service committed to making it easier to manage your Twitter followers without having to wade manually though spam users. TrueTwit attempts to validate your new followers to see if they are human as opposed to automated bots…”

Here’s what happens when I follow someone who uses TrueTwit:

  1. I get a direct message
  2. It prompts me to hit a link
  3. The link brings me to a site to add information
  4. Based on what I input, TrueTwit will determine if I’m spam or not.

Using an automated service to determine if I’m human?

Ironic, isn’t it?

Notice it says “…TrueTwit attempts to validate your new followers…”

For this reason alone, I’d never use the service. What kind of confidence does that line instill?

For those who do use it though, all I can say is: No thanks.

In real life, if you want to be my friend or get to know me, here’s what you do. You approach me, introduce yourself, and say hello.

You DON’T send a representative to check me out beforehand. That’s rude. We’re talking about social networking here, not arranging a marriage.

If you can’t take five seconds to find out about me by going to my profile, or looking at my tweet history to see that I’m human, then I have to wonder why you’re on Twitter at all.

People who lock/block/privatize their accounts and make it difficult for me to follow them send a clear message – they DON’T want to be bothered.

I’m cool with that. I don’t want to work so hard to befriend anyone. I don’t do that in real life, and I certainly won’t do it on Twitter.

I don’t care who you are. I don’t care how many followers you have. I don’t care if you’re the Queen of England, (who doesn’t use TrueTwit, by the way).

You want to be part of a social network like Twitter? Then behave socially, otherwise delete your account and stop wasting my time.


Crazy Jewelry

Okay men, this post will probably be of little interest to you. Just sayin’ before you read it and wonder why you wasted your time.

Now, for the ladies.

I’m not a jewelry whore. As with the color of the clothes I wear (black), I’m a minimalist, so you’ll never see me wearing a matching set of earrings, necklace, and bracelet. I actually really dislike that look on a woman—makes me think she’s adorned herself like a Christmas tree. Just my opinion.

Don’t worry. Not even my friends agree with me. They think I’m boring, monochromatic, and should take more risks with my wardrobe.

So, I decided to buy this crazy necklace, only I didn’t know it was crazy when I bought it. It fit my subtle taste. With numerous grey strands made of microscopic glass beads, I imagined it would go perfectly with all my black dresses.

A NYC architect who became an industrial and jewelry designer made it. Unique pieces intrigue me, so it was all the more reason I liked it. I wore it to my first book club meeting with the fabulous women of S.W.E.E.T. They all commented on the unusual piece, how it had a crepe-like feel to it, how it reflected the light so oddly.

I suppose I’d forgotten the necklace was made of glass because it certainly didn’t feel like it. That was, until we took a picture with me wearing it. See for yourself.

Kind of creepy, isn’t it? Happy Halloween, all.


What do you know About.me?

I first used social media in September 2008, starting with Facebook (at least that’s what Facebook tells me). I honestly can’t remember when I signed up.

It’s been four years since then, and I can proudly (or shamefully) say I’m attached to more virtual sites than I can keep track of.

It seems like every week there is a new site that offers something just a little different. Being a geek by nature, I tend to check it all out, but I hadn’t signed up for anything new in sometime. Twitter and Facebook are still where I hang out the most. Blogging is how I connect to readers. Given that, when I came across a site called About.me, I didn’t think much of it at first, but I signed up. Here’s why.

About.me is a free service that allows you to create a one-page website listing facts about you and your interests. You can upload a picture, background, and get this – you can add ALL your social media networks to it. Your bio can be whimsical, serious, short or long. Customize it to suit you. Bring out your personality.

It was simple to set up and there was really no maintenance. Simplicity was key for me, as was the short time spent to build the page. Since adding mine, I now use the URL as part of my email signature, and as part of my Facebook and Twitter bios. You can find out about me here if you like.

I view my page as my virtual business card, and it was kind of fun to set up. The other cool thing is there are so many different types of people on it—filmmakers, authors, artists, etc. It’s a great way to increase your network if you want to.

If you’re interested in setting up your page, just go here > https://about.me/

Hope to see you there. Come and say ‘hi’ if you join.


Dung—A Comfort Food


Yes, that’s how it’s pronounced in the dated Toisan Chinese dialect I speak, and I’ve been eating dung since I was six years old.

I remember my mother making it in the house—an assembly line production. In preparation, banana leaves were soaked and hung to dry, then large bowls containing various ingredients were arranged in an orderly fashion on the dining room table. They contained rice, mung beans, salted pork, sausages, duck eggs, dried shrimp, and chestnuts.

Watching my mother make dung fascinated me. Each one required 2-3 banana leaves, and she explained how difficult it was to arrange the leaves properly in her small hands. Afterward, she’d fill the leaves in a specific order, rice on the bottom and everything else around it. As I didn’t like dried shrimp, she’d make mine without. My brother didn’t like eggs so she’d omit them from his. Once all the proper ingredients were filled, she’d wrap each dung and secure it with string. She would tie the dungs differently so we could tell them apart once they were cooked. And boy … were they ever cooked. It seemed to take days before they were done. A huge pot boiled on the stove for hours until the house was steaming in the smell of dung.

[Dung wrapped up]

I just returned from a trip to see my mother and she prepared 28 dungs for me to take home. I put them in my freezer, and they’re my favorite comfort food for the cold season. One dung accompanied by a heaping plate of greens is the equivalent of a meal for me.

[Inside the dung]

After all these years, I have a discerning taste and will not eat anyone else’s dung other than my mother’s. She dishes out the best dung I know.


MorgueFile and Other Free Photo Sites

On the heels of the post by author, Roni Loren entitled: Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics on Your Blog – My Story, bloggers around the world have been stripping their posts of images for fear of copyright infringement.

I’ve done the same.

I enjoy blogging, but probably like many of you, don’t enjoy reading huge blocks of text without pictures to break them up. Though technology makes it easy to copy, modify and share images, it doesn’t make it legal. Getting caught can be a costly affair as Roni attests to in her post.

So … what are the options if you want images for your posts?
1 – Continue with the status quo and hope you don’t get caught
2 – Buy images
3 – Use images from sites that offer free pictures

I contacted my editor, Annetta Ribken, who provided some solid information about morgueFile.com – a site she’s been using for years.

The name comes from the term “morgue file,” which refers to post-production materials for use of reference, an inactive job file. The term is popular in the newspaper business but is also used by illustrators, comic book artists, and designers.

The site allows you to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work. Attribution is not required.

Some other sites that offer free images are:





How have you been dealing with the copyright issues, and do you have a special place to get your pictures?


Pin me to Pinterest—For Now

I opened an account with Pinterest—a site that advertises itself as an online pinboard that helps organize and share things I love.

Do I like it? To tell you the truth, I’m not sure. As with most social networks, there’s a balance between whether it’s helpful or just a time waster. In the back of my mind, I think it might increase exposure for my writing and books, but I don’t know just yet, as I’ve been on it for less than a month.

As music inspires me to write, beautiful pictures also inspire me, and that was the initial draw to Pinterest. It’s akin to flipping through a stack of magazines I enjoy – only I don’t have to pay a subscription.

So far, I have twelve boards, ranging from my favorite poisons to New York scenes to art I love. You need to request an invitation to join, which I thought was a strange formality, though it didn’t take long to get signed up after being accepted.

As I don’t really enjoy writing about myself, I find “telling” my story through pictures easier. Perhaps you might too.

Here’s my link if  you’re interested to see my boards.


So…are you on Pinterest and do you find it helpful?


I’m Damn Boring!!! Read Me Anyway!!!

Did you feel your heart beat a little faster when you read the title?
The Internet has made communicating so easy there is a tendency to disregard grammar. That goes for emails, blogs, and all social media forums. No one is perfect, least of all me, but I see an irritating pattern—the overuse of exclamation marks.

In emails, there isn’t an easy way to convey emotions, inflection of voice or sarcasm. Messages can be easily misinterpreted since you have little control over how it’s read. The use of smiley faces, acronyms such as ROFL, LOL, LMAO, and bolding words for emphasis all help to express a thought more clearly. When someone uses all uppercase letters, I imagine them screaming their entire message at me.

When a sentence is followed by an exclamation mark, I read it as if the person is cheerfully declaring their message. Two exclamation marks indicate the person is so animated they are falling out of their chair. Three exclamations mean they’re practically having an orgasm. Really? Is that true? Somehow I doubt it.

The saying, “Less is more” applies in the case of exclamation marks. One will suffice; forming a small army of them to assault your reader is unnecessary. It’d be like the boy who cried exclamation mark. If you use it all the time, people will soon realize you have nothing to exclaim.
Perhaps the advent of electronic communication makes it necessary to insert exclamations – to alleviate the boredom. Emails, direct messages, comments can seem lifeless without them.

All right, I’ll give you that, but can we keep it to a dull roar and just use one exclamation mark per sentence? Thanks!


May 24 Includes a Trip to the Dump

The May Two-Four weekend in Canada is a bit of a misnomer. It actually falls on the Monday preceding May 25th and represents a statutory holiday—a long weekend to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday.

Informally, it’s also considered the beginning of summer in Canada, and if you’re a gardener, it’s a safe bet the frost season is over, so garden centers are booming.

Over the past few years, I’ve traveled up north of the city to cottage country. It’s the weekend most people open up their cottages. That entails putting in the dock, motors on boats, and clean up for the upcoming season. Aside from the flying ants, mosquitoes, and black flies, it’s great to get away from the city even for a few days. The lake is pristine and nature is vast. The fresh air away from the concrete jungle of the city is a drug for me, and I sleep better. A new favorite activity of mine is to kayak.

One of the more peculiar rituals of getting out of the city is not having garbage pick-up. Instead, cottagers store their garbage and go to a dump when they have to. It’s not a dreaded event either; it’s actually quite fun. I’ve seen retail stores less organized. I even showered and dressed up for the occasion! I jest, but going to the dump is part of the experience away from the city, just like seeing moose, bears and road kill.

May you enjoy all the unique wonders of your upcoming summer season,


The Opening Lines

I’ve been reading a wonderful serialized story by writer friend, Lance Burson called The Ballad of Helene Troy. He posts segments every few days at “My Blog can Beat Up Your Blog” and eventually this serial will become a full-length novel.

Recently, he posted the first 333 words of the story. It was quite brilliant that he write a new beginning considering I’ve been hooked on his story for sometime already. I then thought about what his starting lines revealed, and why they were so perfect.

What author doesn’t dream of an opening that will gain them the recognition of “Call me Ishmael”? The first lines set the tone and reveal key elements to a story. Without these elements, the story could fall flat within pages.

I’m no expert on this topic, but given the genre I write (erotic short stories), it’s important to build momentum toward climax within a limited time. The opening lines and paragraphs are therefore critical and should reveal the following:

1. Distinctive voice
2. Point of View
3. Basic Plot (with some characterization)
4. Setting
5. Conflict

These elements basically make up a complete story, but not all of them are exposed in their entirety upfront. A successful opener does not need to be complicated, but it will entice the reader to want more and continue reading. Revealing something about the protagonist’s nature or introducing a setting can be done without going overboard. It’s better to build momentum than to disappoint with an opener that over promises, but can’t deliver with its subsequent narrative.

Because stories evolve and can often go in a different direction than originally anticipated, it’s a good idea to revisit the beginning lines once you’ve reached the end. In some cases, I’ve had to rewrite the opening paragraphs because they no longer set the tone I wanted.

Though the first lines cannot salvage a story that lacks in other areas, a riveting opening can help define a piece. This is vital especially if you want to pursue the traditional publishing route. Think of it as an opportunity to make a good first impression on the editor. We all know initial reactions matter because you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression.

So, what are the things you look for when reading the opening lines of a story?