Short story sold to Engen Books

Your truly is being published once again; another feather in my hat, and this one’s the most aviation focused story I’ve sold so far. The anthology is called “Flights from the Rock” and is a Canadian publisher publishing Canadian writers writing stories about flight.

I had originally written this for another anthology, but hadn’t finished it in time, but when I found this call for submissions, I thought this was the perfect home for it, and it seems the editors did too. Can’t wait for you all to read it!

“Obviously you’re not the pilot”

So I was at Costco to stock up on things. I grabbed a hot dog on my way out because I was rushed and hadn’t eaten. Went over to the tables, and all the tables were full.

But a lady saw me looking for someplace to sit, and invited me to sit with her. I was feeling pretty awesome, new job and all, so I sat down and introduced myself. I told her how I was starting a new job, and stocking up on things for my new job, since I was going to be working for a small charter/air taxi operation and based at the airport 5 days a week.

And she said “Oh, that sounds exciting! What are you going to be doing for them? Obviously you’re not the pilot.”

*sigh*

I wasn’t nasty about it, I let it just be a learning experience for her; she backpedaled pretty fast when I told her I was in fact the pilot. Tried to say she’d said it because I looked too young, but you just know, the real reason was because I was a woman. But it was innocent; obviously she wasn’t trying to be sexist; it was an unconscious bias; I bet she didn’t think through what she said at all.

Or possibly even, she didn’t want me to feel like I was disappointing her if I wasn’t the pilot, unfortunate as the phrasing she chose was. I mean, when people hear someone’s a pilot, usually the first question is “Oh? What airline do you fly for?” And then the poor private pilot has to explain that they don’t have a commercial licence, they just fly for fun, etc. (And I’m not gonna lie, being able to reply to that question with the name of my current employer feels so frickin’ good, lol.)

But whatever the reason, it’s what comes when people don’t stop and be self-critical about the assumptions we make about people. And it’s why young women don’t look at jobs like commercial piloting, construction, electrician, things like that, as things they might be good at and enjoy as professions. Because, obviously that’s not the sort of job for them.

Obviously.

A co-worker back at the call centre told me one day about talking to her daughter about women pilots. Her daughter was convinced that being a pilot was a boy thing, and girls could not be pilots, and her mother had a hard time convincing her otherwise. She was four.

And it’s a prejudice that comes from outside the aviation industry almost exclusively in my experience. So far, I don’t have any story of sexism that I’ve experienced that has come from anyone involved in aviation. The only examples I have are from people who know nothing about it. We’re getting to a point where lots of male pilots have flown with women and they’ve mostly gotten past the oh-god-how-do-I-handle-this stage to just treating other crew members as crew members. My new boss seemed to care far more about my farm background than my gender. The one other pilot working for him at the moment is also another woman, and as far as his assumptions about my ability suitability for the job, the fact that I’m a farm girl seemed to trump all else.

In conclusion – yes, there’s progress been made. Yes, women pilots still deal with sexist attitudes. No, it’s not just the older generation, nor is it only men who share those attitudes. Because there are lots of old guys who are 100% supportive of women in aviation and think the idea that women can’t be pilots is absurd. So let’s move forward and celebrate our victories and successes, and let change come, until it’s obvious to everyone that women belong wherever their hearts are.

New Year’s Post 2019

So in 2018, I never even got to writing a New Year’s post. Before 2018 was halfway over, we’d brought 4 cats to our vet and not all of them came home. I was kind of emotionally beat up, and 2018 didn’t start out great. For this year, better late than never, I guess.

The cat situation has settled down now and we have a healthy new kitten who’s quickly outgrowing his eleven year old Siamese house buddy. I like big cats and I cannot lie.

This Christmas we had no sick cats, and I was even mostly over my cold.

When I started flying, my vacation time was dedicated to flying, and once I finished, I left one job before my vacation was scheduled, and then the job after that before I got a chance to schedule more than a few random days here and there. This year, the new boss decided to just shut down over Christmas and I got the first real vacation I’ve had in five years.

That came just in time to have my mom come stay with me for a week and a half. She lives in Australia now, and I haven’t seen her since my wedding ten years ago. It’s been a wonderful visit.

2019 is starting off really great for me. I have a new job, a new cat, a new decade of marriage to kick off. Because holy fuck, I’ve been married for ten years. Sometimes it feels like it can’t have been that long, and sometimes it feels like it’s been forever. In all the good ways.

So – like many others, the New Year’s resolution thing tends to be really negative, so I set goals instead. Here’s what I want to get done in 2019:

  • Stay married.
  • Become the most confident, competent, safe bush pilot I can be.
  • Finish all the missing scenes in Skybound so a proper edit can begin.
  • Write at least one short story.
  • Get the apartment organized.
  • Hobby goal: get to an F2 generation in my hybrids – I’ve got an F1 generation maturing and blooming and I’ve attempted pollination with a couple plants so I hopefully have seed pods coming along on a back cross. I’m just getting started with the hybridizing thing, but I’m enjoying it immensely.
  • Take some first steps in buying a first house.

So I hope 2019 is great for everyone reading this, and I for one will be trying my best to make the most of all of it.

Ten Years

Today my husband and I celebrate our ten year anniversary.

New Years is coming up, and that’s always a time that I reflect on where I’ve gotten from one year to the next, but of course this is a huge landmark, and makes me think back much farther, and about how far both my husband and I have come in our lives. 

Our accomplishments are not the traditional accomplishments. If I were more inclined to be a slave to societal expectations, I might feel like a failure for not having children and owning a house at this stage in my life, like my husband’s brother and his wife. Not that those aren’t fantastic accomplishments; that just wasn’t our path. 

When I think about who I was ten years ago, it blows my mind what a different place I was in in my life. I was passionate about my writing, working in a call centre. But I was still putting myself back together after gaining some independence and getting myself into a healthier living situation. My husband recently described my state back then as “held together with tape and glue.”

Anyway, that’s where I was when I got married, but I was just reaching a point where I was gaining confidence and blossoming as a person. I managed to organize my own wedding. 

And friends who knew me best told me of all the people they’d seen get married, they believed my marriage would be successful, and that we were getting married for the right reasons. We didn’t just love one another, we were supportive of one another, not just in our shared interests, but we encourage one another to pursue our interests that the other doesn’t share. We both want the other to be happy, but we also don’t want a relationship where one of us is making all the sacrifices for the sake of the other, and breeding resentment. 

And I don’t think I can describe to you how good being married to this man has been for me. I’m not even sure how much of the confidence I have now is just from him believing in me. I feel like it’s the reverse of the old adage “Behind every good man, is a great woman.” If I didn’t have him, would I have had the courage to learn to fly? He says I would – I’m not sure. Maybe I would and it would just have taken longer. 

And you have to remember, he didn’t marry a pilot. He didn’t sign on for this ten years ago when we stood in front of family and friends and the officiant tied our hands together with ribbon. He’ll say he realized that it would have been worse for our marriage for him to hold me back than to get on board, but he’s playing his role down. Not only did he not stand in my way, he gave me a large sum of money that was by all rights his, to get me started on flight training, and said go be everything you can be. You don’t get much more supportive than that, and that money was basically everything we had – he had that much faith in me that I could do it. 

Well, whether I would have become a pilot without him or not, we are both of us more and stronger than we would be alone, and I can’t imagine my life without him. 

Love you Nathan ❤

NaNoWriMo 2018

I join Nano every year, even if I know I’m not going to have a chance to write enough to win. This year I hoped to do a bit better, possibly even win. It didn’t happen, but I’m still happy with what I got done. 

I haven’t talked much about what I’m working on at the moment. Redwing is at a stage where I’ve mostly got it as good as I can get it, and while I have ideas for a sequel, I decided a few years ago to dive into something different. Well, ok, it still has aeroplanes and all the characters are pilots. But it’s completely different I swear. 

The world idea was only a small fraction of the population is Skybound and can withstand altitudes of more than 2000 feet above sea level without suffering from skysickness – a made up illness in this world, with similarities to hypoxia. Skybound people are invited to join an organization called One Sky, kind of a combination of the EU, Red Cross, and NATO. They have aeroplanes. 

It’s YA this time, and I’m bringing scenes to my critique group every month, where it seems well received. It’s still early drafts, though, and in the first draft, another Nano project, I had left numerous scenes missing as I moved on to the easier scenes. This year I was filling in those missing scenes through Nano, which is much harder – it slows you down. I might have got far more than the 8700 words I managed if I had been writing something completely new. 

But – I’m almost finished plugging in the missing scenes, at which point I can start going back and reconstructing an outline and assessing story arcs, and properly beginning the editing process. 

And currently, with nearly all the missing bits added, it’s sitting at about 83k words. When I edit, I tend to add more words than I remove, so that makes it look like it’s going to settle into a nice 100k words, or thereabouts when I’m done. I just seem to have a natural tendency towards that length, which is awesome, because that’s nicely in the range of not too long and not too short for the genre, as far as sale-ability. 

I’m excited about this one because it’s a lot more what I think is the definition of “high concept” – that it’s easy to describe what the premise is and what’s interesting about the world and story. My critique group is taking sides with regards to the two male supporting characters – apparently I have a team Zach and team Toby already, though there’s really very little on the romance front. The story’s mainly about the main character learning to fly, at the same time as she learns that One Sky is not the bastion of fairness and acceptance that it presents itself as. 

I think it’s got a good shot at finding an agent when it’s ready.

Back To Flying

I know I haven’t posted about flying for a bit, and it’s mainly because I’ve been taking kind of a break. While I was doing my multi-instrument rating, a lot of stuff was happening in my personal life causing stress – my Grandma’s death was only the most acute, obvious one.

When I was done that, I quit the call centre, and I was pretty badly burnt out at that point. I sent out a few resumes but when it comes to the smaller places that hire low time pilots, it’s hard to know when they’re hiring. They often don’t advertise positions. It seems most people get their first job by getting a reference from one of their instructors, but my main instructor was a career instructor, and I had decided not to go for the instructor rating because there was only one job it would qualify me for. A few people tipped me off on places, and one of them even was willing to hire me. But it turned out to be kind of sketchy, and the more I learned about the operation, the more it felt wrong. I walked away from it.

Then last winter was kind of a rough one again – with the husband in and out of the emergency room, multiple sick and dying cats, etc.

And on top of various stress, I’m just one of those people who, once I’ve lost momentum on something, I have a really hard time getting going again. I felt like I was making excuses, but my closest friends told me not to be so hard on myself. I’m pretty self critical, sometimes I need people to tell me to give myself a break.

Anyway, things seemed to be finally taking a turn for the better. I was starting to think I should start getting serious again about the job hunt, and getting current again.

They say when it rains, it falls – stressful stuff happens all at once and piles up.- Well, sometimes things can fall into place just as fast.

The job tip came from my float instructor from a few years ago, and it was finally one that wasn’t one of those long shots that they were likely to have plenty of pilots applying that had way more time than me. This was more of a typical first job for a pilot.

Day VFR, bush pilot job flying passengers and freight around lake Winnipeg. The sort of job that would take me out to those rural sort of places I loved as a child, and an owner that appreciated pilots with farm backgrounds for the resourcefulness and work ethic that tended to come with it. It wasn’t one of those places people had warned me had poor safety records or management that pressured pilots into pushing their limits. The pay was industry standard, and given the choice, I opted for salary. Plus, there’s something romantic about the whole idea of bush flying. As wrong as that one job I walked away from last year, this one feels equally right.

Wish me good flying weather 🙂

Parallel Prairies

So, I’ve been busy lately. I happened to have a bunch of posts queued around when my cat died, so I didn’t have to worry about it for a while, but then there were no more queued posts, and my husband had an event, and we both got sick after, and we got a new kitten, and our other cat got sick,* and it’s been a rough April/May.

And through that whole period, I’ve been getting notifications of new subscribers. Mostly email ones too, so not just porn-bots trying to get me to click on their profiles! Like, there’s been a lot of them lately, to the point where I wonder if they’re all real except for the whole lack of porn thing, or trying to sell me anything at all. I think maybe one of my pages or posts got shared on a site or something.

So welcome to all my new followers!

And I have news!

I’ve got the clear to announce that my short story “Cod Liver Oil” will appear in the anthology Parallel Prairies, out next fall! It’s a horror anthology full of stories set in or inspired by my home province of Manitoba.

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I’m super chuffed to be published alongside awesome authors like Chadwick Ginther, Patrick Johanneson, Craig Russell, Samantha Beiko and lots more.

My contribution is a story set shortly after the railroad comes through, bringing all sorts to town, including peddlers selling all sorts of concoctions. It’s inspired by the traditional maritime song of the same name about a man who’s sickly wife persuades him to buy her a bottle of cod liver oil from Doctor John, and comes to regret it.

I had a lot of fun writing this one. Sometimes you get into writing a character that’s so different from yourself that it’s freeing to just write what they would think and imagine your readers cringing. The most delicious feedback I got on it was one beta reader telling me that it made him feel uncomfortable to be a man.

I really had a lot of fun writing this one….

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it!

Pre-order here!!!!

*He lived tho! It was just a flu. Like, seriously, we were like, really worried, he started puking, wouldn’t eat, same main symptoms of the cat that had cancer, but the vet was like, nah, he’s got a temperature, just a flu, we fix him up, and he did. Apollo is fine.