On my tenth birthday, my parents bought me a Maltipoo puppy. My sister, who turned eight that year, got a Sheltie. We gave them the most logical names that sisters living in the 90s would give two puppies. We named them Mary-Kate and Ashley. Read More

This writing prompt was part of the Indie Fall Fest—several weeks of author interviews, giveaways, fun questions, guest posts, and more. The challenge was to write about a character who has one of your bad habits, and in which that bad habit gets out of hand.

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i enter the barn at the end of the day
worries and stress squeezing my shoulders
scrunching my brow
and hitching my breath

halter on and brushes out
i tie the lead rope and pull back my hair …
and i’m angry.

but i can’t let her feel my stress
or she’ll bolt faster than light before my foot hits the stirrup
so i curry in slow circles
over her neck and shoulder and haunches
hearing her sigh and stomp and swish
and i let the rhythm lull me

i can’t let her feel my anger
or i’ll eat dirt faster than i can say giddy-up
so i brush in soft flicks
watching the dust curl in the rays peeking in
smelling the hay and grain and wood
and i let the tranquility calm me

i can’t let her feel that stab of sadness
or she’ll go where she wants despite my commands
so i brush her face with the softest touch
and she closes her eyes and leans into the bristles
i feel the tickle of her mane on my skin
and i let the serenity cheer me

and i brush and pamper ‘til her red coat gleams
and i rub her mane and tail with sheen
she’s beautiful, shiny, no dust to be seen
and all that dirt is on my face and my jeans …
and i’m happy.

dedicated to Bailey

In winter nineteen-thirty-two
On humble Makwa plains
Born to Julia and Walter
Art Warner was his name.

He dug for gold when he was eight,
Went trapping after school,
He learned to fly, and ride, and boat,
And live by his own rules.

He pioneered a company,
He hunted, fished, and snared.
He worked, he farmed, and once – no lie –
He fought a grizzly bear.

To four he was a loyal Dad
And husband to their mother,
To eight he was a caring Umpa,
To others, son and brother.

Now this cowboy reunites
With Doc, his trusty steed.
He rounds up cattle, gallops on,
And lives that cowboy creed.

Although he’s passed beyond this life,
His spirit still lives strong
Within our memories and hearts
For that’s where it belongs.

His love and life are worth the tears
We shed for this great man,
So if we had to live once more
We’d do it all again.

So on the shining BC coast
This great man he became.
Admired, adored, and full of life,
Art Warner was his name.

Arthur Oswald Warner

She paced around the darkened room,
Her lovely face drained white.
Her thoughts obsessed with what did loom,
That cold and daunting night.

The candles danced and flickered low,
The dinner plates were set.
Her golden hair donned with a bow,
The stew not ready yet.

She painted pink her cheeks with blush,
She brushed blue ’round her eyes.
Pulled on her skirt without a rush,
Then heard the doorbell’s cries.

Her nerves were gone, replaced with joy,
She trotted to the door.
“Hello, good sir!” she told the boy,
And smiled at him once more.

The fellow said, “How glad I am,
You’re giving me this chance!
You having me for dinner, ma’am,
Is true first-date romance.”

“I thought so too,” she smiled and said,
Hanging up his coat.
He kissed her cheek and she blushed red
And told him not to dote.

He sat down in the dining room,
While she went to the pot.
She stirred the stew and pretty soon,
It boiled nice and hot.

“You’re quite the chef,” he said and smelled.
She turned to look at he.
And then with shock, he saw she held
A knife as large as three.

“What’s that for?” he asked with fear,
Her eyes a twinkling red.
“I’m having you for dinner, dear.
Is that not what I said?”

“I’ve had before a rabbit soup.”
She clenched, unclenched her hand.
“As well as one of duck and goose,
But never one of man.”

He shouted out and stood up quick,
To stop her in her path.
But late he was, and with a flick,
She made a hot blood bath.

The crimson ran onto her dress,
And sullied up the floor.
She giggled down at all the mess
She must, for now, ignore.

“This boyfriend soup will not be bland,
Once I mince this meat.”
She licked her lips and wiped her hands,
And made her tasty treat.

Consult your physician
As seen on TV
Enlarged to show texture
It’s not you it’s me

Legal separation
Please hold your applause
Studies have shown
I’m calling because

National bestseller
Attempted suicide
Antioxidant-rich
Look on the bright side

Scientific method
Ladies first
Performance review
For better or worse

We’re gonna need backup
Results may vary
Let’s get wasted
Eat drink and be merry

Regulate your cycle
Read package directions
Nonsurgical face-lift
We’ve got a situation

Pro-life pro-choice
Procrastination
Pro-active pro-rated
Professional opinion

One-millionth visitor
Come claim your prize
I want my lawyer
Actual size

Guard dog on duty
Recommended dosage
Side-effects include
Take out a second mortgage

Remember to log out
Remember to vote
Remember to smile
That’s a misquote

War on terror
Jesus loves you
God hates gays
Have you heard the good news?

Capital punishment
Christmas in July
It’s only a theory
The cake is a lie

Mad cow salmonella
Bird flu swine flu
Nervous breakdown
Your books are overdue

Trespassers prosecuted
She’s a train wreck
Physical examination
Practice makes perfect

Go for coffee
Enter to win
Plagiarism
Intervention

school shooting
zero trans fat
probation
instant chat

tax-free
GST
audit me
HST

own
lease
war
peace

truth
lies
laugh
cry

sex
death

lust
greed
wrath
envy
pride

This is a deleted scene from The Infinite Knowledge of J. T. Badgley. I removed it because it’s a thought tangent that does absolutely nothing to advance the plot—but I’m still fond of it, so here it is. It happens on page 141, when Jake is trying to sneak back into the Kremlin.

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I have to share this. It’s one of the first poems I ever wrote. The positive reaction from the class and teacher was a huge factor in inspiring me to keep writing. Moral of the story: praise a kid’s work, because that encouragement makes a big impact!

When I make my snowman
With a carrot for his nose
Along comes my pony
Munch munch! Off she goes!

When I make my snowman
With peanuts for his toes
Along comes a squirrel
Munch munch! Off he goes!

When I make my snowman
With no nose or toes
Along comes my puppy
Now he has yellow clothes.

To match the human to the face that has Picasso drawn
To find among the autumn leaves the still and silent fawn
On such a day I know the truth whether the path is set
Be the ground fresh laid in stone or be its clay still wet

Does great Hecate see me there in grass that seems more lush?
Or should the daisies at my feet subdue my need to rush?
Is it a house that I’ve begun to build with this brick wall?
Or is it meant to crumble here ’til brick by brick, it falls?

Beyond the bricks perhaps there lies an Earth of paradise
But since its snow is free of prints it may be mere thin ice
I can’t but tell unless I try to build my house from snow
If it shall melt I still at least have all those bricks to show

And so I carve said house of snow but build the bricks up still
In hopes someday that igloo holds, and move to it, I will
For I cannot but know for sure the nature of my path
The trades of safety, fun or growth, responsible or rash

I will not be the fawn so still on clear untrodden land
But rather be Picasso’s work, and paint my Earth by hand