Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back...

I posted this on the first of the year, and it seems appropriate to comment on how things went in 2009:

  • Starting a fresh day book and calendar: the old ones were getting ratty--they were, like, a year old!--Okay, this still holds true at the end of every year. What can I say, I'm a sucker for calendars.
  • A hot new president who will change the world (politics is fun again!)--Obama is on the road to implementing Universal Health Care, won a Nobel Peace Prize (whether you think he deserves it or not), and has done assorted other good things. No complaints from me so far.
  • Being a bridesmaid in one of my longest standing friends' wedding (I'm struggling with the proper term, because it's not oldest friend, and long-time friend sounds weird. Anyone? Help?)--Er...yeah...that didn't happen...
  • The bachelorette party associated with said nuptial (very possibly to Las Vegas)--This did happen. Good times.
  • Watching as more of my friends from high school try for and grow big with children (and subsequently pointing and laughing, then consoling the tears and recriminations...)--Two more on the way!
  • John finishing his masters of journalism (and school forever...?)--DONE AND DONE. THANK GOD.
  • Me and John going on a celebratory trip to some place hot--possibly on a cruise of some kind--We both ended up taking separate trips to Vegas this year. That's as close as we got.
  • A possible start to searching for our first home together--CHECK!
  • Planning the wedding--Venues are booked, dress is bought...I don't need anything else, do I?

What does 2010 hold?

The wedding!
The honeymoon!
And I WILL sell a book, dammit, or else get an agent or SOMETHING.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Photo editor FAIL

Today's Metro News commuter paper, page 10:

Someone's St. Peter is showing. can read the whole paper by clicking on the link on the left-hand side bar.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Smartikus J. Cat, Destroyer of Worlds

It's been a little over a month since we adopted Smartikus, and he's all settled in and comfortable now. Perhaps a little too comfortable.

It's hard to determine most days if he's being affectionate or just a jerk because he knows he can get away with it. Even as I'm typing this post, he is purring and getting right in my face so that he can get a shot at my cereal milk. I'm trying to ignore him, but he keeps tapping me: just a little reminder that he's here. Tap, tap, tap. Hi, Mommy, gimme yur fud.

And now he's pushed my elbow and made me spill a spoonful of cereal down my front.

Other affectionately jerky things he's been up to:

  • Chewing through both mine and John's cell phone charger cords (that's just plain jerky)
  • Waking me up just before my alarm goes off every morning by jumping on me, poking my face, giving me wet willies (he actually licks his paw and smears it all over my face and, if he can, my mouth)
  • Attacking my hands or feet if I try to sleep in too late. (Mommy, wake up! Wake up! The sun's out! Wake up! GIVE ME LUV!!!)
  • Sitting directly in front of my computer screen and helping me write (No, Mommy, I like this letter ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;)
  • Sitting right on top of my overtime manuscripts, no matter where I put them (I help you, Mommy! I keep the plot under my bum!)
  • Climbing onto my back and shoulders at least once every day--I can't decide if this is some display of dominance or affection (I shnuggle! I shnuggle you lots! AND NOW I BITE YOUR ELBOW AND RIBS!)

Other fun things we've learned about Smarty:

  • He plays fetch with balls of crumpled up paper. No dollar-store toys for him!
  • He's bananas for bananas.
  • If he likes you, he'll reach out and put a paw on you and give you a meaningful look, just to let you know he's there for you, bro.
  • He talks a lot.
  • He has cold kitty breath. Very odd to feel when you're sleeping and he decides to give you a little nuzzle.
  • One of his favorite places to be: on top of the fridge, where he can survey his domain and watch the squirrels outside.

Despite the jerkiness, he always makes up for his bad behaviour by being shnuggly. He really is our dream cat.

Friday, December 04, 2009

To Whom It May Concern...

We've started receiving Christmas cards for the former and now deceased owner of our house. Up until now, I've written Return to Sender--Deceased on all mail for her. Most of it was from charities she probably donated to. But something tells me treating Christmas cards from friends overseas would should I put this...dickish.

What do I do? Write a letter Regretting to inform you to the sender? Do I forward personal mail to the deceased's son, who is probably still heartbroken over her death? I don't know if I want to bother him with it during the holidays.

Help? Advice?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I'm baaaack...


All moved into the new house; cat's settling in nicely; Halloween's over; most of my immediate writing projects are being put to bed now; Trojan scareware seems to have disappeared from the computer for now....

Time to blog and post pics!

Proof that I did the Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk on Sept. 12,
the day after closing my house:

Before and after shots of the living room and kitchen at my new place:

Living room before:

Living room after (no, it's not yellow, that's just the lighting and camera. And it's fuzzy.):

Kitchen before:

Kitchen after:

My baby's got his Masters of Journalism!

Smartikus J. Cat, the newest addition to our home/family
(Charmander: "GONNA GET U!"):

Halloween costume contest at Harlequin: almost the entire proofreading department came as a pink sheet and Post-It note flags for the editor (we use this pink sheet as a control sheet so that everyone's on the same page). Our group won second place!

Note: the girl in the silver box is a proofreader, but she came as a Lite-Brite. It worked, too.

So yeah, been kinda busy. Now that things are a little more settled, I might actually get some other stuff done....

Sunday, October 18, 2009


As I'm in the process of moving and will be Internet-less until after the move, blogs will be few and far between for the next couple of weeks. My desktop has also contracted a Trojan Horse virus, and since I'm in the market for a new computer anyhow, it may be a bit before I get back to our regularly scheduled program.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


As I make the slow change over to my pseudonym, Victory Essex, you'll see shorter (and fewer) Writer Updates. Those will be hosted exclusively on Victory's March (my author blog), and occasionally on Vicki Heat's blog, Thermal Dynamics.

If you haven't done so, visit my blogs! And Become a Fan of Victory Essex on Facebook, and Tweet her! (If VE's on Twitter, does that make her a Twit?)

Any suggestions on design or content? Let me know! I'm always up for improving stuff. Cuz stuff is fun! Yay!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Third of three does not make me a loser, dammit!

I got the news today, oh, boy....

Finished third in the TRW's Golden Opportunity contest in the Contemporary Series category. From first in scores to third in rank (of three).

Poop. Oh, well, there's always next year. It was good to know I even made the finals.

Here's what the category judge, Harlequin Superromance's Wanda Ottewell, had to say:

How would you rate this entry on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest?

What was strong about this entry?
Really captures the heroine’s unique voice with the narrative. Her personality comes through well so the reader feels connected.

What could be improved?
A more unique, less typical meet between the hero and heroine would be good. While the collision between hero and heroine sparks physical awareness, as a device it gets used a lot.

I totally knew this about the setup when I set out to write the book, of course. But it is my first book, and after three years of rejigging, it actually rates as not half-bad, so on the scale of things, WIN!

Better luck next time!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Life: an update

Renovations on the new house are on hold as we await the electrical inspector's okay. It's a frustrating time as we wait to get more done. We can't patch or close walls or put kitchen cabinets up until he says to go ahead. All I can do right now is pack.

John is sick with what sounds to be a nasty respiratory infection. I'm loading up on good food, lots of sleep and lots of hand washing to keep the illness at bay. Everyone in my office is sick, so it's been like trying to dodge mist.

Meanwhile, because our life isn't interesting enough, we're adopting a cat. A friend of a friend has to give up her furry companion, so John and I've decided to take him in. He sounds perfect for us. Three years old, neutered and declawed...and his name is Smartikus. We knew as soon as we heard that name that he'd be perfect. We get to meet him tomorrow, and hopefully, we'll be moved in and ready to take him home at the end of the month.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

If only this was the world's only problem...

Jesus would be mortified.

I find it hilarious that my teacher incorrectly fixed my spelling of "weird" by putting an "e" after "i", making it "wiered" rather than "wired."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cowboys and cookies, beefcake and biscuits

Corportate shilling? Maybe. But I like men and cookies and would do anything to push both upon the beefcake cookie monsters of the world. Nom nom nom.

As part of Harlequin’s 60th anniversary sampling campaign, Harlequin has partnered with Peek Freans Lifestyle Selections to offer Canadian women A Taste of Mischief through a unique co-branded promotion – and the fun starts this Saturday right here in Toronto!

Promotional Events & Highlights

Sampling at Indigo Stores – Sat. Sept. 26

Come check out the heroes of Harlequin’s Montana Royalty as cowboys, sheriffs, and princes greet customers with cookie samples at select Indigo stores this weekend. Staff at many other Chapters, Indigo and Coles locations across Ontario will also be distributing the sample packs. The Heroes will be at the following Indigo stores at 12pm this Saturday and Sunday:

· Scarborough Commons

· Yorkdale

· Square One

Launch Event at Yonge/Dundas Square – Wed. Sept. 30

Harlequin is hosting a live-sampling event at Yonge/Dundas Square on Wednesday, September 30. Highlights include:

· LiveEye segment with CP24’s Matte Babel (7:00 am – 9:00 am)

· Learn how to pose for a Harlequin cover and have your photo taken with our Harlequin Heroes. (10:00 am – 2:00 pm)

· Enjoy a musical performance by The Good Lovelies, a sassy and flirty bluegrass trio reminiscent of The Dixie Chicks (12:30 pm – 1:30 pm)

· Catch the Harlequin Heroes distributing sample packs (10:00 am – 2:00 pm; 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm) – Sept. 8 - Nov. 15

If you haven’t done so already, visit to:

· Enter for a chance to WIN a trip fit for one of Harlequin’s Heroines

· Download Montana Royalty, a FREE exclusive eBook from Harlequin’s Intrigue series

· Create Your Harlequin Story by completing a short and simple questionnaire

· Tell us what tempts you by answering the Harlequin Romance Report questionnaire

· View photos from the Harlequin Hero events

· Learn about the better-for-you qualities of Peek Freans Lifestyle Selections cookies

Saturday, September 19, 2009

For Anna

Sad news: one of my fondest childhood memories has passed away.

Anna Scaramuzza ran the little convenience store across the street from my elementary school, Lord Lansdowne P.S. The no-nonsense German woman with the white apron and frazzled, curly grey hair often wore a frown as she was beseiged every lunchtime and after school by junior and senior school kids clamoring for penny candies, powdered donuts, Mr. Noodles, and sandwiches. But even if Anna's mouth wasn't smiling, her eyes and her heart were. She passed away peacefully September 17, 2009.

The unassuming turquoise-fronted shop on Robert Street was simply known as "Anna's." The fixtures hadn't been updated since the days when the shop had been a general goods store. I remembered the geraniums and spider plants in the front window on one side, along with the assortment of toys, firecrackers, styrofoam airplanes, water pistols, and other awesome things she sold on the other. When you walked into Anna's, you knew you would come out with something special. I remember how I found a penny on the ground once when I was 6, and after school bought the yummiest lone Gummi Bear I had ever eaten. Anna was amused.

I remember how the older grade 7 and 8 kids would sit on the sawed off picnic bench leaning out front during lunchtime in the days before containment became the only means for schoolyard safety. That bench was a hallmark of seniority, and if you were sitting there, you were in the big leagues.

My first kiss in grade 7 was in front of that store. I remember spitting in mild disgust over the waist-high cinderblock wall afterward. (Sorry, first junior-high bf. You really just didn't do it for me. At all.)

Anna had a beautiful chocolate-colored short-haired Weimaraner-mixed dog named Cindy who grew fat, red-eyed and ill on the gummies the students fed her. Her offspring, Lola, faired no better. Nonetheless, the students mourned when each of these dogs passed. Smelly and chubby and obsequious as they were, they were a part of the legacy, fixtures in our quickly dwindling childhoods. I remember that Anna, though her dour expression did not show it, was sad when they were gone, too.

When I was in grade 7, Anna's husband, Luigi, died. He had left a donation to the school of a set of new encyclopedias (there was no Internet back then) and the students in the senior art classes were asked to sketch Anna's as a tribute. I remember sitting out in front of the school with my pencils and sketchbook, surrounded by my classmates, trying to get the details in the front window just right. Never mind that the lintel of the roof wasn't right; I just had to get those plants in. The details were everything. I would have drawn the colorful array of gummies in if I could. I even included a sleeping Lola, who turned out to be an amorphous grey blob in front of the shop.

To my great dismay, I wore down my turquoise pencil crayon coloring the place in, as well as my apple-red for the painted brick. I was so upset by the fact that my pencil crayons weren't being worn down evenly that I selfishly refused to lend out those two colors to anyone else. After all, what was I to do once I ran out of turquoise or apple-red?

Eventually, one of those sketches was chosen to honor Luigi's donation. Apparently, it was framed and is hanging in the principal's office. I've been told that picture was mine.

Anna will always be remembered among the students, parents and alumni of Lord Lansdowne as someone who not only provided us treats, but who also provided us a retreat from the drudgery of elementary academics and melodrama.

Anna's was a special place. Anna was a special lady.

She will be missed.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Interactivity! Identity Crisis

I'm currently participating in an online workshop hosted by the Toronto Romance Writers on branding and, as I'm early in my career, it has been an eye-opening and thoroughly frustrating experience.

Admittedly, marketing is not my forte: I figured that out early during my short and entirely degrading experience working in a marketing department.

Simply put, it is entirely counter-intuitive to represent myself as something I'm not--and what I write is not who I am. I am not a person who focuses solely on contemporary family romance, even though that was what my last book was; nor am I the fantasy fanfiction writer most of the Google world knows me as.

Still, I can see the benefits of maintaining a certain integrity and message in my "public" face, i.e. Vicki Heat or Victory Essex. But having these two distinct IDs is really starting to throw me off. Some days I'm Victory Essex, the classy, dramatic writer who likes to glide through her mansion in her red velvet dress and drink brandy by the fireplace; other days, I'm Vicki Heat, who takes a shot of tequila with her to the bathtub where she lies around and dreams about where she'd like to place GSP or Tahmoh Penikett in her stories.

In the various worksheets and exercises, we're quizzed on the colors we like, the clothes that make us feel like a million bucks; we're asked to describe ourselves, how we present ourselves to others, our's all very confusing. Up until now, I've always just been Vicki So, an eclectic mix of all that is zany and sweet in the a cotton candy cloud filled with euphoric ants. Now that I'm forcing myself to narrow it down to one identity to sell to the public, I don't know WHO I AM!

Help! Readers out there know me best (sorta). I need you to identify me!

Throw me some words to describe me! Manic? Humorous? Funky? Fresh? Smelly? Just this side of bat-shit-crazy? One donut short of a baker's dozen? You decide!

Your task: Give me your best adjective, adjective noun description of me as a writer.

(Bad) Examples:
Funky, Fresh Comedian
Wry, Witty Go-getter
Hungry, Hungry Hippo

Winner will get an icon designed by Poor, Pennyless Author!

Contest ends midnight EST, September 30, 2009.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

WEBC Wrap-up

By the numbers:

4,616 = walkers participating this weekend
$11.6 million = total money raised to end women's cancers for the Princess Margaret Hospital
$37,561 = money raised by Team Harlequin
$1,510 = amount I raised through the very generous donations given directly to my campaign
$255.58 = funds raised from donations from the Kensington Market Community
$34.68 = price of the awesome dri-fit Team Harlequin T-shirt we wore
3 = times I used a port-a-potty on my 1-day +30 km walk
10 = hours it took me to complete the walk
4 = ibuprofen tablets I took within a 24-hour span
17 = hours it took to get the stiffness out of my legs

Highlights of the walk:

It was way more than 30km. After the first 4km, the sign said: "30.43 km to go!" and 4 km later, at the next stop, it said "30.4 km to go!" So I probably walked closer to 40 km that one day.

The route takes you through several residential neighborhoods, and people tie pink ribbons or decorate their properties, or sit out on the porch and say thank you and cheer you on all along the way. A number of them lay out spreads of cookies, fruit, snacks, water, chocolate and more. One house handed out little cups of beer. After 28 km, it was the BEST. BEER. EVER.

You wouldn't believe the vast array of people who turn up at these things just to give you high fives and cheer you on. There was this woman on a motorcycle who'd had a mastectomy and way wearing this leather metal-studded one-boob bra who was right in there, all smiles, her hog decorated with boobs and bras.

Lunch was a box set of grilled chicken, pasta salad, a dinner roll, and a lemon tart, plus some Lipton Green Tea drinks. It didn't matter if they didn't taste perfect--at that point, ANYTHING tasted good.

The route:

Starting at Exhibition Place, through Princess Gates, along Lakeshore Blvd., north along Parkside (next to High Park) and then through some residential streets, through Bloor West Village (why we had to walk along the busy Bloor Street stretch from Keele to Humber River, I really don't understand) and then a whole bunch north...I got lost since we doubled-backed a few times. We crossed Islington several times, in fact. We ended up at Downsview Park.

The day:


Hour 1.5: Wooo! Wooooooo!

Hour 2: *Stark silence as the realization of how long this walk is hits*

Hour 3: WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU'RE OUT OF GATORADE AND PEANUT BUTTER? *eats bagel dry, downs water, regrets the bloating combination*

Hour 4: Shoulda stopped at the last convenience store for Gatorade...I'm drowning in water, but I'm STILL THIRSTY.

Hour 5: Terrible hunger pangs lead to discussions about food. *Word games to pass the time commence to distract us from hunger*

Hour 6: Lunch! WOOOOO!!!! YEAH!!!! FREEBIES!!! WOOOO!!! BOOBIES!!! YEAH!!!

Hour 7: Are we there yet? Oh, God, Are we there yet? *cries a little*

Hour 8: You said it'd be 4 more kilometers FIVE KILOMETERS AGO!!! WHY ARE YOU PLAYING WITH MY MIND???

Hour 9: Support SUVs (of shame) start to look really appealing. Thinks driving one is the better option. Someone in a swank neighborhood hands me a Rocket Popsicle. I am rejuvenated.

Hour 10: WOOOOO!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!! I'm done! Oh, thank you, jeebus, I'm done!!! *hips collapse, calves seize, spine accordions, pass out on ground*


This was a personal endeavor for me, and of course it was important. But I'm not sure I'll do this again next year simply because hitting up my friends and family for that kind of money regularly is draining. Maybe in another year's time I'll do it. I will, however, continue other fund-raising efforts in order to help those members of Team Harlequin who do this every year. They are inspiring and awesome.

For a more interesting (and invariably more emotional) rundown of the WEBC from someone who walked the (omigod, how she did it, I will never know) 2-day walk, go to my pal's blog at

Short segment featuring a few of my co-walkers on CTV News here. (Go to Sunday, September 13, and start the clip at 11:47)

Thanks again to everyone who supported this fantastic endeavor! If you're interested in signing up for next year, go to

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I swear this didn't come off the Onion

UFC President Dana White reacts to news that Rampage Jackson might star in the A-Team movie as B.A. Baracus (aka Mr. T), missing his fight with Rashad Evans in UFC 107.

“‘Guess what is thinking about right now,’” White said. “‘He’s thinking about beating your [expletive] ass. He’s not sitting around thinking about how him and his mom used to watch the [expletive] ‘Love Boat’ together and (how) he wants to get the role of Isaac the bartender. ‘Get a [expletive] grip, dude. You’re going to make a lot of money. You ain’t going to make a lot of money playing B.A. Baracus on ‘The A-Team.’ Jesus Christ...."

Oh, the ever eloquent Dana White.

Original story here.

And yet more news that MMA is about to jump a popularity shark: female fighter Gina Carano's also getting a movie role.

Monday, September 07, 2009


People often ask me if I base my characters on people I know.

Meet my latest hero, Kyle Peters.

Because working with Georges St. Pierre as a template for Dominic Payette in Fighting for Her Love worked so well to keep my creative juices (get your mind out of the gutter) flowing, I decided to pattern Kyle after Tahmoh Penikett, aka Helo from Battlestar Galactica and Paul Ballard from Dollhouse.

What I particularly like about Tahmoh, apart from a fantastic body, is his ability to shift from hard get-the-job-done guy to soft and sweet husband/lover/father. In his roles as Helo and Paul, he radiates absolute strength, but there's also a core of uncertainty and the tiniest hint of weakness there, too. If you watch him in interviews and on stage at conventions, he comes off as a super-playful guy who loves what he does and loves the fans. Tahmoh is also a practitioner of Muay Thai, as demonstrated in Dollhouse.

I found it quite easy to picture Kyle, a former Olympic gold wrestler, shifting through these different variations of Tahmoh at different stages of Kyle's life. The sheer intensity on his face is what I try to keep in mind.

And just because I think it's funny, Kyle's also a huge fan of Battlestar. 'Cuz that's the way I role.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

One week left

Training is stopping pretty much as of yesterday. I walked 23.31 km in 5 hours, to and from the new house. I was exhausted by the end of it, and had a pretty dark tan despite the sunscreen. It wasn't until the next morning that I was really feeling it.

And, oh, boy, do I hurt right now. I guess I know what to expect next weekend now: pain in my gluts, back, ribs, spine, shins and knees. My feet are miraculously fine, thanks to double-layer frictionless socks and my New Balance shoes.

Meanwhile, a shout out to the community of Kensington Market and patrons of CAAM United Hardware. They helped me raise $255.58 for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer! Thank you everyone in the market!

Friday, September 04, 2009


I've gone from having a dry skin problem in the winter to having a dry lips problem in the summer. Lately, my lips can't get enough moisture, and when left to their own devices, they get all shrunken and chapped and cracked.

Usually, I just use Vaseline to kept them covered, but having a jar around isn't handy, and I detest those little squeeze tubes--they get fetid and smelly really quickly.

So I've been trying out different products in the hopes of finding something suitable. Here's my run down of my stock.

Vaseline: good ol' petroleum jelly. Great for lubricating parts of your body when you go for a run, makes a good toast spread...Is there nothing it can't do? Unfortunately, the goo hasn't been cutting it lately, not without slathering it on with a trowel.

Blistex lip chap (mint): this has a nice, delicately medicated burn I associate with healing properties. Because if it doesn't burn, it can't be doing anything to help, right? Actually, I find this is pretty much the most effective lip chap I buy, but at almost $3 for this tiny tube, I kinda wonder if it's worth it. I use it up really quickly.

Tinkerbell lip balm: I figured, hey, if it's good enough for little girls, it's gotta be fine for me, right? Wrong. This atomic pink tube of goo actually tastes like what I imagine a ground-up fairy would taste like--alternately lovely and disgusting. I can't decide if it's a berry mixture, a flower mixture, bubblegum, or if someone just scooped out the contents of a Glade gel plug in and stuffed it into this tiny tube. Also, it make you look like you've been sucking on lollipops all day. It was the cheapest thing at Shoppers Drug Mart, though. $1.49 for the tube of 4.5 g.

Nivea Hydro Care: The lipstick format of this tube is much nicer than the tiny twist bottom lip chaps. I've always hated how when you get to the end of the lip chap, you try grinding it onto your lips, hollowing out a nice, sharp bowl in the end bit of plastic. So far, my only issue with this lip chap is that it has a strangely suffocating feeling when applied, as though my lips can't breathe. They feel silky smooth, sure, but that might be from some kind of reaction to the cream. It's normally $3, but I got it on sale for $2.

C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve: It's like Vaseline, only pink and it smells of roses. This stuff is actually really nice, but it comes in a little tin and it costs $8 for 22 g. The whole idea for lip care is that I don't have to touch my mouth--at least, that's my aim. I apply it in the morning, but it doesn't exactly last.

Anyone have any suggestions for my lips? And don't suggest kisses--saliva dries our your lips really fast.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ai yi yi yi yi!

The Green Power Ranger is training in MMA!

The former action star from the hit series "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" has officially made the move to mixed martial arts, and while training with UFC lightweight Melvin Guillard, he hopes to make his real fighting experience as successful as he did on television.

Frank is hoping to fight as soon as possible.

"I was supposed to fight in 2007, but it fell through. In truth, I've wanted to put the work in until I'm ready," Frank said in an interview from the Suckerpunch website. "I know I have a target on my back. Everyone is going to want to beat up the Green Ranger."

Personally, I'm rooting for him. At 35, he's gotta be pretty ballsy to get into pro MMA fighting. Mind you, he does have a crapload of experience beyond punching Putties.

And, just because the hair was fantastic...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


In the ongoing saga of paperwork associated with homebuying:

Scene 1: Catch-22
Got home insurance finally. YAY! It was a big to-do since no one would insure a house with 100% knob and tube...which really doesn't make sense since I need home insurance to get into the house to take the knob and tube out so I can get home insurance. Biggest catch-22 ever. Managed to work it out with TD Insurance (thank you, Suke!) but there's lots of paperwork that needs to be done, plus the rewiring all needs to be completed 30 days after my closing date. ACK!

Scene 2: Bran helps with weight loss
Did an interview with the mortgage insurance people regarding my health. I guess they're trying to decide whether I'm going to drop dead suddenly. My favorite question went like this:

Questioner: Have you recently lost any weight?
Me: Hmm...well, maybe about five pounds.
Q: And can you tell me why?
Me: ...Er...I pooped?

I'm still waiting to get the A-OK from them--John and I are both young and relatively healthy, but I'm gnashing my teeth until then.

Scene 3: Father Time treads softly
Today I learned it would take 10 days or so to process the request to withdraw funds from my RRSP under the Home Buyer's Plan so that I don't get charged tax on it. I'm seeing my lawyer and need to give him the balance of my downpayment and the fees etc. next Wednesday. And Labour Day is coming up. That gives me 7 days to deal with this.

Moral of the story: shoulda withdrawn them waaaay earlier.

Scene 4: In which we plan our house
We've purchased new appliances at the Brick, but the kitchen cabinets and counter from Ikea are on hold until a little later in the month--supposedly, there'll be a kitchen event in the fall and we're going to cash in on that when it comes up. I just hope that's sooner rather than later. I want to get this place started and done so I can sleep in my new house, dammit.

I'm happy to say that some very nice friends and colleagues are volunteering to help with the kitchen demolition and painting later on. They shall all be well pizzaed and beered. Assuming I still have money when we get to that point...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Best. Birthday Card. Ever.

Proof that my little sister shares the same DNA: we have the same morbid sense of humor.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


My first book, Her Cinderella Secret, made the finals in the Toronto Romance Writers' Golden Opportunity Contest in the Contemporary Category!

YAY! Peer recognition!

Even if I don't win, I consider this a real accomplishment. Something to put on my resume.

Mind you, I still haven't heard back from Mills & Boon Tender Romance about it--I've emailed a couple of times, hoping to get a response. Next step is to write a letter, I suppose, to let them know the book (or at least the first three chapters) did pretty well.

Meanwhile, and are up and running! For now, each will get a posting on alternating weeks, unless something big happens, like this. HCS will likely be published under the Victory Essex label...if and when someone buys it...*hopes*

In other news...

My third book, Fighting for Her Love, is still awaiting a verdict (aka rejection) from Harlequin Superromance. It's still the best book I've written until now, and lots of people who've read the first chapter really like it. Big sister Fiona read the whole thing and told me it "kept her up at night," which is good.

I'm working on a second "Fight" book, tentatively titled Wrestling with Attraction. A brief overview:

Kyle Peters has a new student: Charlie Handover was sent to him with promises that ol' Chuck would be the next big thing in mixed martial arts. Just one thing: Charlie's a girl. Kyle refuses to get into it with another female fighter. The last one accused him of sexual assault and nearly ruined his career as a coach.

Charlie Handover has never been good at anything except fighting. The tomboy has a real chance to be an MMA star. But to get there, she needs Kyle to teach her. He can train her to grapple and hold an opponent in submission. But it seems her untrained heart has other ideas when she falls for her reluctant coach.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

...And then an extra horrible thought came to me...

...Is my new house okay? It hasn't been insured yet...

...And did someone close the window in the basement? Because last time we were there, it'd been left open (not by us, though we left it on the assumption that someone had left it open for a reason) to get the damp, musty smell out...

Aw, hell, homeowning is aging me superfast.


Welcome to my nightmare: Tornados in the GTA. The sky coming down for a little stroll in your neighborhood. The sky wears big boots.

It's nice to know that all over this city, this province, this country, THE WORLD, the reaction to tornadoes and doom weather is the same, no matter what language you speak or where you hail from:


Yeah. Yeah, it is. Now y'all know why I have reoccurring nightmares about them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I am now a homeowner

John and I have been keeping this news to ourselves until the official day, but we decided to make it official via Facebook.

We bought a house!

It's at Main and Danforth, semi-detached 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, unfinished basement, with a garage and small backyard and front yard. It was a terrific find. It needs lots of work--the wiring all has to be replaced and we're planning a whole new kitchen. But it is undeniably ours, thanks to my parents' help.

The story goes like this: we were heading out to see a bunch of houses when my funcle Simon (that's fake Uncle Simon) sent along this listing that had just gone up. It was the first house we saw that day, and we fell in love. The next day, we went to the bank, got our mortgage approved, saved a man's life*, and won the bid in a nail-biting round of bidding that ended with us still bidding beneath the asking price.

Closing date's Sept. 11, at which point we'll be sending in the troops to fix things up. We're knocking down a wall, stripping out wires, and ripping up the kitchen floor. Fun times ahead!

So if I've been kind of distracted lately...well, now you know.

*(Yes, we did, in fact save a man's life. A guy pitched forward and fell in the middle of the street in front of my father's car on our way to the bank. I called 911 while John turned him over and Dad redirected traffic. Something similar happened to us the day after John and mine's first date. I'm sure John will blog about it.)

This just in...

Chef Gordon Ramsay stabbed through heart by Stingray

ReallyFakeNews, New York--Celebrity reality TV chef Gordon Ramsay was stabbed to death while filming his newest reality cooking show, Shut the Fuck Up and Cook Shit While I Scream At You. He was 48.

"It's really no surprise," one witness at the fake five-star restaurant said as Ramsay's eviscerated body was carted away. "This was a long time coming."

Fans and foodies alike concur. "He was always handling dangerous, high-strung people with his trademark in-your-face attitude," says Bob Green, a stage hand who's worked with Ramsay on his other hit shows You'll Take It and Like It, and You Can Eat My Ass. "He never had any fear. That was probably his first mistake. I mean, the man wrestled with egos armed with fire and sharp knives. Did he really think he was going to keep doing that and not get stabbed one day?"

Ramsay was chewing out one of the apprentice chefs who was cooking steak when the man, 25-year-old Scott "Stingray" Smith turned on the man and jabbed a boning knife into Ramsay's chest.

"Is that well-done enough for you? Is it too raw now, Chef? Huh, huh, huh?" Stingray screamed as he twisted the weapon like a corkscrew.

Police are treating the death as an accident.

"If anything, the deceased fell victim to his own inflated sense of invulnerability," Police Commissioner Bruce Redding said. "You just don't go poking rabid dogs with sticks...especially if they're skilled with Five-Star Henckles."

Ramsay is survived by four children and his wife.

Friday, August 14, 2009

THAT'S in a name!

The people have spoken. My pen name is:

Victory Essex

But since the votes were so close, I'll be taking on Vicki Heat for more salacious contemporary fiction, and using Victory Essex for more family-oriented romance. Special thanks to Xiao Pangzi for the name suggestion: she'll be receiving a special Harlequin vintage print T-shirt as thanks for the suggestion.

Thanks to everyone who voted!

Stay tuned for!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Best. Book review. EVER.

From Smart Bitches, guest book review on PREGNESIA, which I proofread.

Frickin' hilarious.

Carla Cassidy's comments are included. What a sport.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just a quick note to say...

...that like John, shit is getting real. I'll be back soon with more silliness and non-Dymaxion-World type musings about nothing to waste your day away.

Monday, August 03, 2009

In which I beg forgiveness

I fucked up.

I was supposed to arrange for a weekend getaway with my bridesmaids to my parents' cottage. But in the hubbub of house hunting and thinking about the wedding, I totally dropped the ball, forgot all about the trip, and double booked the weekend to go to Ottawa.

I feel like an idiot. A complete and utter moron. I've been feeling terrible about it all weekend, and I can't forgive myself this humiliating lapse in friendship. For one, I know my two girls needed the getaway to de-stress from a long and hard summer; and two, I wanted to be, you know, a friend. Not the girl who just forgets the people who are supposed to be close to her.

In the mire of life, of balancing work with play and family with friends, it's easy to lose sight of the important things. Not only did I lose sight, I was totally and utterly blindsided by the spectacle of home ownership, and then, instead of looking around and getting my bearings, I put on blinders and focused on one thing.

Fuck. I hate disappointing others, and I hate being a disappointment. I hate feeling like I'm unreliable, and I hate that I've just totally let this slip through the cracks. This is almost as bad as that nightmare I had about leaving my babies in the trunk of the car, and them turning into frozen chickens.

To my ladies, if they're reading this: I'm. So. Sorry. Please, just beat the crap out of me next time you see me. I'll come bearing steak and crepes and the saddest hang-dog face ever.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Conversations with the fiance

Me, watching John, playing Super Mario World:

Me: That's just the stupidest design for a castle. I mean, how dickish is it to have a floor that sinks into a pit of lava? You're killing all your minions!
John: Well, this way they don't have to pay union dues.
Me: Huh?
John: It's cheaper to give the families of the minions a small payout rather than continue paying out benefits and salary.
Me: ...I'm going to blog this conversation now.

Friday, July 31, 2009

What's in a Name, part II

I've put up my 4 narrowed-down choices for a nom de plume for my romance writing career (see side bar), but that doesn't mean I won't accept more suggestions!

I thought I'd share a few tips from various persons in the industry about choosing a pen name. I learned a lot, especially, from a workshop romance author Eloisa James gave the TRW a while ago:
  1. Make the name short, less than seven letters long. The size of the font used on the cover will be bigger this way. Don't forget, you're competing with a whole bunch of other romance books and authors--make yours stick out.
  2. On choosing your last name, think about who you'll be close to, and who you want to associate your work with.
  3. Be wary of picking letters at the end of the alphabet: in big bookstores, that usually means you'll be at the bottom right-hand corner of the bookshelf, where no one will see your books.

The other requirements still stand: domains have to be available, as well as a blogger account name.

Thanks to everyone who has voted or put in their own two cents so far!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Property Virgin Gone Wild

Today I went to see my first house.

Now, it's a funny (or perhaps perplexing) story of how I got to this point in my life. See, with our impending nuptials slated for next year, John and I have decided moving out from my sister's basement apartment would be beneficial for all of us. After all, the last thing we want to do is spend our honeymoon with Bowie and Avery hanging around us (not that I don't love the rascals, but, y'know.)

We talked back and forth for months about owning versus renting. I preferred to own, but John was (and still may be) a little queasy about home ownership. For the record, so am I: who really wants to be in debt for the next 30 years? But the interest rates really are too good to pass up right now. It wouldn't hurt to at least look.

My parents have offered loads of support, but their ideas of our lifestyle choice don't exactly jive with ours. Nevertheless, yesterday I spotted a listing for a cute house in Leslieville and got my Funcle (fake uncle) Simon, who's a Realtor, to arrange for a viewing.

We drove the neighborhood and weren't entirely impressed by the exterior. The next day it was sealed: this place was a painted hole. It looked like someone had gone to the effort of staging the place nicely, but it didn't hide the fact that the floors were more slanted than a bunny hill at the ski resort, or that the shoddy finishes would all have to be torn out.

So it was a bust. But it was our first viewing, so we've finally broken the house-hunting hymen. I'm in the process of applying for a pre-approved mortgage, but the specialist assured me the house I looked at today was within my price range, so now I know what to look for.

Admittedly, I spent a sleepless night wondering and worrying--something I thought would never happen to me over something like house hunting. I suddenly feel 40 years old.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Like soccer? Like clothes? Go to!

An old colleague of mine, Patrick, has opened his awesome new apparel company,

I'm getting my dad one of these.

Check it out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guilty of Cruelty to the Visually Impaired...

...And that's that.

I think that person on top of the ginormous bird is playing with a paddle ball.

So You Think You Can Cry

I saw a story on Yahoo about an emotional tribute to breast cancer on So You Think You Can Dance and decided, hmm, this might be good to put on my blog.

Now, I'm fairly cynical when it comes to watching dancers and dance routines. Dancing ranks just above mimes and poets on my art-I-don't-really-get scale (sorry, Fi), so you'd think go into this with a fairly jaded point of view. After all, if the headline said "Tribute to bad smells" or "Tribute to Gummi bears", I probably wouldn't have shed a tear. Context is key in a performance like this, so really, I shouldn't have been all that moved.

I was wrong.

At first, it wasn't so much the dancing as it was watching the stiff-upper-lip British judge Nigel swallow down his emotions like a Vulcan chugging vinegar that made my eyes get all hot. Then I rewatched the performance then and said, hey, wow, that is a really good show.

And then I spent the next ten minutes chewing on my tongue so I wouldn't sob out loud.

Watch the full piece, including the judges' reactions here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Readin' the Blogs, Postin' the Links...

Just thought I'd point y'all towards my friend Heather's awesome word blog. Check it out at

Also, for no reason other than I need a laugh during these dreary, rainy days, this:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Goodbye fanfiction...

...Hello real world writing.

Yup, I've pretty much decided to leave the realm of fanfiction so that I can focus on honing my craft as a "real" writer. Last night, I posted my final chapter of my final Avatar: The Last Airbender story. The series is over, and I've pretty much told all the stories I'm going to tell. So it's a good time for me to stop.

I had some great times working on that stuff over the past three years with some great reviews and fantastic support from fans who've written some really nice things about me. They're the reason why I'm pursuing my writing career, and one day, I'm going to be able to thank them all in print when I get published.

Fare thee well, fanfiction. Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Meanwhile, big sis said she enjoyed Fighting for Her Love, (Hi Fi! Thanks for reading!) so with a little more spit and polish, plus a beta read among the pros, I think I'll be ready to pitch it to Harlequin Superromance. It'll be the first time I'll pitch to someone at my actual office--I've been staunchly avoiding that scenario when an editorial assistant smacks me across the back of the head with my own manuscript before setting it on fire and placing it on my desk. But I can't help what I write, and it fits best with the line, so I'm going ahead and risking injury.

Star Attraction is giving me a headache. I'm not sure I like it anymore. But it's still worth pitching, just because I can. If nothing else, I can post it on a blog or on

Haven't heard from Mills & Boon still about Her Cinderella Secret. Will try contacting someone at the end of the month.

Testing ideas for a fourth novel. Still have lots of unfinished projects, plus I want to try my hand at short stories. Mostly trying to take it easy and enjoy the summer while simultaneously planning the wedding and finding a new place to live. Fun times.

"Gay penguin couple splits after one shacks up with female "

Saddest animal world breakup ever.

From Yahoo! News:

After six years together, the relationship between a pair of gay male penguins at San Francisco zoo is apparently over, with Harry leaving Pepper for another penguin -- Linda.

The Los Angeles Times reported Friday that the relationship between Harry and Pepper, who lived side-by-side, protecting eggs abandoned by other penguins, came to a shocking end when Harry moved into a neighboring nest with recently-widowed Linda.

The development has sparked a variety of reactions in the blogosphere, where Linda has been called a "home wrecker" who "lives for her own happiness, no matter who gets hurt."

John, writing on "The Frigging Loon" blog, said he was "heartbroken" about the split and that he hopes Pepper "finds another male penguin that is ten times hotter than Harry!"

That whore!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Said Yes to the Dress

Thanks to my two awesome bridesmaids, I got my dress yesterday.

No peeking till the wedding day, John.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Interactivity Challenge! What's in a Name?

In a chicken and the egg dilemma, I have been staring down the inevitability of choosing a pen name and establishing a web presence by registering a domain, building a website, and starting up a separate Blogger blog. I tried this earlier when I'd finished my first draft on my first book, but as I hadn't chosen anything or even nailed down any choices.

No, I haven't sold a book...yet, but when I do (stay optimistic!) I want to be able to post the news somewhere that "isn't me."

It's a totally counter-intuitive choice--I'm not even willing to take John's name when we get married, but as many articles and advice column suggest, romance authors choosing nom de plumes should take on identities and stick to them. I've never been anything other than me, and I'm rather sheepishly unapologetic about it (why yes, that is an oxymoron, but so am I). So how do you go about turning yourself into someone else?

First step seems to be in choosing a name. (The Human Spider!)

So far, I've chosen Victory as a first name: there are already a lot of Vickies and Victorias, so I'm going to try to separate myself from the pack a little while maintaining my "real" name.

Any suggestions for a last name? I've played with the following: vote for your fave, or suggest your own! The criteria: it has to be available as a domain name and a Blogger blog name (e.g.;,, etc.)

  1. Victory Essex
  2. Victory Soto
  3. Victory McGrath
  4. Victory Jones
  5. Victory So
  6. Other...?

No closing date set for this challenge yet...but I'll be providing a real prize if you suggest the name I go with! (Think T-shirt and books and fun crap!)

Stay tuned!


Headshots from The Last Airbender:

Yeah, yeah, they're all white (not Dev). I'm giving up on any belief Hollywood would change their mind on casting Asians to play Asians. Whatever. This movie's getting made, and I'll judge it based on the performances. (Holds breath.)

Noah Ringer as Aang:

Dev Patel as Zuko:
Nicola Peltz as Katara:
Jackson Rathbone as Sokka:

Saturday, July 04, 2009

30 km might be easier if there was lots of shopping on the way...

Since I've been sick with laryngitis, I haven't been able to do my usual workout, but I got back into training for the big Weekend to End Breast Cancer walk today, and boy howdy, gravity and my weak stomach were really trying to take me out. Did 14.31 km in about 5 hours (with lots of shopping and a couple of quick bathroom stops.)

Found that the khaki shorts I was wearing--casual things I got at Bluenotes--were a little too long and didn't give me much in the way of comfort for a walk this "intense". So I stopped at Old Navy and picked up a pair of teeny-tiny running shorts for, like $7.25 (they had a 50% off summer hot picks sale. Woot!) I even got the matching running bra top so that I'll be forced to work off some of my gut before I can wear it in public...which will likely be never.

A lot of people don't really understand why I'm training the way I am. They don't have a concept of what 30 km is to walk.

Well, here are some examples of 30 km walks, mapped out via Google Earth:

  • If you started at Exhibition Place and headed north via the most direct street route, you could walk to Vaughn Mills/Wonderland in 30 km.
  • If you started at the bottom of Yonge Street and kept heading north, after 30 km you'd be in Richmond Hill, just north of Gamble Rd./19th Ave.
  • If you were to drive 30 km on the 401, you could start at Yonge and 401 and end up at Brock Road in Pickering.
  • If you were to travel 30 km on the TTC Bloor/Danforth subway line, you could start at Kipling station, ride all the way to Kennedy station, and continue on the Scarborough LRT to Ellesmere station.
So yeah. I'm training. Good thing shopping is a good incentive for all this exercise.

Economics for the Anal Retentive

In these tough economic times, and as someone who has been diligently saving for a house since I was 6, people have asked me how it is I've managed to squirrel away what I have.

The easy answer is that I'm a cheap and boring person who doesn't travel, have a hobby, or generally enjoy life to its fullest. The hard answer is that I'm an Excel nut.

Since June 2004, I have been anally keeping track of every single penny I spend and make. I developed a sophisticated Excel spreadsheet to help me watch my expenditures and check it against what I earn.

Because a friend asked to see my system, today, I'm making my insanity available to the public!

Budget and Expenses vs Earnings.xls

The Excel spreadsheet includes notes on how things are listed and kept track of. It can be tailored to your needs, but the point of the whole exercise is to keep track of what you spend.

Sounds easy, but most people don't have the room in their heads to remember they spent $1.73 on a cup of tea from Starbucks that morning, or that they dropped $5.89 on a bag of milk at the grocery store.

How do you keep track? Here are some tips:
  • Keep receipts.
  • Write it down in a little notebook, if you have to.
  • As soon as you come home at the end of the day, log everything you bought into your spreadsheet.
  • If you're not good at that, email yourself or set up an alarm to remind you to look at your spreadsheet every day.
Any financial planner will tell you that keeping track of what you spend is essential to your financial well-being. Whether you want to be as nit-picky about it as me remains to be seen...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Run for Liqueur 2009

This Canada Day garnered me the most fascinating fund-raising contribution ever--donations from people willing to drink beer (or milk) and run laps around a the same time.

I acknowledge the following, and thank them for their support and sacrifice:

Joe (technically came in second place since he managed to drink his beers and run)
Denise (finished two laps after drinking two glasses of chocolate soy milk)
Roger (who did 5 laps, but couldn't quite get through his beer)
Mike (who completed all four laps and finished his Canadian)
Attila (I had my money on the MMA fighter in training, but he, too, quit after 2 laps and two glasses of rice milk)
Jon (who didn't run, but very kindly donated)
Kristeen (who has been diligently raising funds for the WEBC and came out in support of Roger and the rest)
Yvette (who kept score)

Thanks to Xiao Pangzi for organizing a successful--albeit kinda disgusting--fund-raising event for the WEBC via the Run for Liqueur. The proceeds were donated to my teammate, Ivana, on my behalf.