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...