7 Things I'm Grateful For

Wow, so much has happened last week/will be happening this week that I'm going to be posting a couple times this week. For today, because it's Monday, because it's been a while, and because I'm much better at posting these moments on Instagram and Facebook than keeping my blog updated, here's a 7 Things summary of what's been going on.

Also, as a side note--there is some kind of critter that sounds very much like a grasshopper sawing it's legs singing in the box of firewood behind me. I love country living most of the time, but in spring, the proliferation of insects always takes an adjustment period.

My scalp is crawling right now. Literally. I keep checking over my shoulder to see if it's coming crawling out of the box and flying straight at me.

Anyway... on to the 7 Things.

1. Glass Fusion Field Trip

Last Monday, two cool things happened. First, I got to hang out with Jabin and his class all morning for an art workshop field trip to Glass Fusion, where Jabin made a Minion. We'll get to see the final results in two weeks after it has been fired. (All the coloured sand is actually ground glass. Each part of the pattern had to be filled in with glass and shaped with a dry paintbrush.)

I didn't make one, because the artist in me rebelled when I was told I could only use one of the patterns on hand, none of which I wanted on display in my home. (She really told me that if she let me do my own thing, everyone would want to. Um, she hasn't heard of the "I'm an adult" card, obviously. Lol.) So I took lots of photos of the other participants and cheered them on.

However, I am looking forward to coming back with just a few interested parties, and here's hoping she will let me be a little more spontaneous when she doesn't have twenty kids to wrangle at the same time. (I'm really hoping for a rooster design. Or a teapot.)

2. Date Dress-Inspired Fan Design

Also last Monday, I received a direct message on Facebook from local dress designer Cassandra Tyler (whom I had never met) who had read my book The Friday Night Date Dress. Before even reading it, she was inspired by the book's title alone to create a Friday Night Date Dress of her own for a night out with her hubby.

Sewists will be able to see the fine attention to detail she put into this--matching stripes on the bias? *Talena geeks out for a moment*

Since reading the book, she is now working on a collection of dresses inspired by Melinda's dresses in the book which will be for sale. That means you can have one of Melinda's dresses!!

I'm super excited about this, because honestly, I'm never going to have the time to make those dresses into reality. And it will be so great to see how Cassandra interprets the designs I put into the book, plus lots of fun for my other fans.

I feel a little bit like J.K. Rowling must feel when she sees her fans walking around in House Scarves and Potter glasses. And being like Ms. Rowling is pretty much the dream for most authors in my position. (Fan-made clothing? It's a little thing, but I'll take it.)

Potter fans pose at King's Cross Station's Platform 9 3/4. Photo copyright madrabothair/123RF Stock Photos

If you want to keep updated on Cassandra's progress on the Date Dresses, like her Facebook page Magic Happens. She has hinted that she'll be posting progress photos of fabrics, etc., so we can watch the magic as it happens.

... Okay, that was bad, but it was so perfectly there.

3. Writing Progress on Finding Heaven

After over a month of profound setbacks on my current work-in-progress, due mostly to the fact that the story had fallen and couldn't get up, last week saw significant increases in the word count. By the end of the week, I had hit the "blackest moment"--which means I am nearly finished my first draft! I am SO excited about that.

This book has taken much more time to complete than I had ever anticipated it would, and I am itching to get started on some other shorter, sweeter, and much more-lighthearted ideas I have had in the interim.

I have also been working on the short story I promised my loyal readers/newsletter subscribers in my last post.

As far as Finding Heaven is concerned, I expect that this book will be launching in September--right around the time of year the story begins. I'll keep you posted!

4. Spring Is Here to Stay. Maybe.

The weather this spring has caused many a person to grump and gripe because of the constant teasers of better weather. We've had our second exceptionally mild winter in a row, with January temperatures warm enough to bring on a melt, and fits and spurts ever since. By early April, the snow had disappeared in the town of Peace River. (Not here, but it was close.) Then, province-wide snowstorms sparked a flurry of posts on social media along the lines of Old Man Winter and Mother Nature having a drunken hookup (I'm looking at you, Tammy. I laughed and laughed.)

I tried to keep a moderate attitude about the whole winter-that-just-wouldn't end, but I confess to wondering if there was some way we could bring Aslan back to oust the white queen when we got this dump a couple weekends ago:

Which led to some springtime scenes rarely seen.

#canadiankid #onlyincanada #ohcanada #thatsmyboy #snowman

A post shared by Talena Winters (@talenawinters) on

Snowball fights in Alberta. I bet Noah was glad he was dressed more warmly than his older brother with the much better throwing arm...

This base snowball became a ginormous seven-foot-tall snowman. Go, team Jabin!

My attitude started to wane somewhat as the snow kept coming, though. And coming. And coming.

This morning, the last few flakes of Jabin's and Jason's snowman (seen in the distance in the previous image) faded into oblivion. There are still some holdout strips of white in the shade of the trees on the south side of my yard. But I think I can officially begin to believe that spring is here.

It's May, so I guess I might be safe.

In celebration, I am putting the mittens and snow gear away today. If it snows again... I guess we'll just layer up. :-)

5. Celebrating a Year with Move Up

A year ago, I took a risk and asked local magazine Move Up for a writing job. They said yes, and I have just worked with them for the fourth issue in a row, which released last week.

I am so grateful for the team that runs this magazine, Tormaigh and Jenelle Van Slyke. They have coached me to be a better editorial writer and have given me some great opportunities. (I have written the cover article for three out of the four issues I have worked on. The kind of trust my editors have put in my ability is beyond humbling. A great deal of credit also goes to the photographer on those articles, Melissa E. Earle. No images=no cover story. Melissa is awesome.)

Also, working with them, getting out of my comfort zone and learning how to interview and get to the heart of an article with many different facets has given me the confidence I needed to do the same for my fiction.

Probably the coolest part of working for Move Up, though, has been the many amazing, inspirational people I have "met" or gotten to know even better around the Peace Country. Thank you to all of you whom I have interviewed and who have so generously shared your time with me. You have inspired me more than you know!

6. Great Books by Indie Authors

Over the past year, I have had the privilege to beta-read for several talented authors, three of which are releasing books this month.

Jessica L. Jackson just released her Regency romance That Wicked Earl on the weekend, and I will be posting my review of the book tomorrow.

Melissa Keaster will be releasing her fantasy novel Eleora in the next week (I haven't read this one, but will do so as soon as possible and post a review. I helped Melissa with her blurb, and have been sharing my experience as a self-publisher with her through the process, as this is her first release. Melissa was one of my first author friends, and I just love her. She's got an amazing heart and testimony, which I will likely talk about in a future post.)

P.D. Workman will be releasing Endless Change later in the month, a YA novel about a boy named Parker who is just trying to help, but gets himself into a sticky situation. I'll post my review of the book when it launches.


7. A Weekend of Down Time and Craft Therapy

On Saturday, while Jason shingled a shed and my kids and their friends created a small tornado around us, my friend Chantelle, my mom, and I had some crafting, bonding time.

Our date morphed last-minute from tea to scrapbooking. I was working through a plot problem in my head, and with the funny way the brain works, I knew I needed to do something totally different to give my subconscious time to work it out. So we had an impromptu crafting party.

I kept the scrapping stuff out on Sunday, and by the end of the weekend, I had fixed the plot problem, worked out the ending of my book, and created five scrapbook pages. Not bad, I'd say.

Now, I just need to get those scenes written down...

Also, I need to print more photos for paper scrapping. Something more recent than 2006 would be good. (As cute as those little kiddos were...)

What are you grateful for this Monday, friend?