Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ellie’s Read on Ottawa

Hi there,

I feel like I have been an absentee-blogger.  A feeling I am pretty much used to.  I have really been focusing on this novel, Forgiveness is a Four-Letter Word. I am in Draft 7 and like the direction into which it is heading.

I have also been reading Terry Fallis – The Best Laid Plans and am now reading the sequel, The High Road.  His cantankerous Scot hates things like split infinitives and ending a sentence with a proposition. Hence, “the direction into which it is heading” and not “the direction it is heading to.”

The book reminds me how badly I speak English.  We say, “Is that her?” But, Terry Fallis reminds us that the proper English is, “Is that she?”  Sounds weird!  And, I bet if you say it like that, people will look at you funny. I dare you to put it to the test and let me know how it works out for you.

Anyway, that said, I thought I would pass along the beginning of this novel. And, let you know Ellie’s Read on Ottawa, a series I put together for Rogers 22 (Ottawa) is on tonight at 7 p.m.  It is a show that highlights local authors.  On tonight’s agenda is award-winning author Mark Frutkin.  His book, A Message for the Emperor is sooooo good!  And, my second guest is Jasmine Aziz, author of Sex and Samosas.  Need I say more? If we get bumped tonight for hockey (arg), you can check it out on one of the repeats, Thursday (tomorrow) at 10 a.m., Tuesday at 6 p.m. or Monday at 3:30 p.m.

Here’s a snippet from my own novel, Forgiveness is a Four-Letter word:

Micah walked up the slope toward the National Art Centre. She lifted her hood to see that the rain was letting up. It was now a mist, gently covering her. She let her hood fall back into place, continuing to walk at a pace her mother would have deemed impatience. Slow down. Where’s the fire? She could hear her brother Simon calling to her, running, trying to keep up. Most times she could outrun her younger siblings, leaving them in her dust. But, not Maya. The youngest of the four Johnston’s had a dogged determination.

Maya had spunk. A word their next door neighbor, Mrs. Sampson, used to describe her. She had words to describe every neighbourhood child. Some good. Some not so good. And, some were just plain offensive. Maya had spunk. Simon had a smile that would light up Manhattan. Rosalie had a good heart. Micah had a good head on her shoulders. The Johnston family got off lucky. Other children were labelled as troublemakers, others sluts and some queer.

She reached the Elgin Street entrance and pulled the door open. A lady dressed in white from head to foot, stepped inside as Micah opened the door. She rolled her eyes, saying, “You’re welcome” to the lady who had bothered to say, “Thank you.” She was still trying to get used to the capital. Why didn’t anyone smile in this city?

Micah pulled the hood off of her head and ran her fingers through her hair combing it out. She headed toward the stairs and made her way down. She passed the wall, now empty of its pictures of Canadian celebrities of the art world. The hallway was stripped bare. They must be getting it ready to paint, Micah thought to herself.

She rounded the corner to the noise and chatter of people standing, waiting for friends and/or family to arrive, or chatting with those who had just arrived. She scanned the room, but could find no sign of her sister. She sighed and went to the doors. They were to meet by the stairs. A good solid meeting place. She passed the poster for tonight’s play, Time’s a Killer.

And, remember, no splitting of infinitives! If any of you can tell me what that even is, I’d be forever indebted to you.  🙂




Hi there,

I recently saw a news piece that talked about a new study on happiness. The results were depressing.   They found that people who are happy have the same (forgive my lack of science-y terms) chemicals released in their brains as those who have suffered a broken heart.

Yes, the same physiological response!

BAH!  It feels like an affront to King Solomon, who said, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 15:13).

Psychology Today* tells us that there is scientific proof to back up what Solomon said. Laughter reduces pain, reduces blood sugar levels, increases job performance… All sounds great.

So, why do these current bozos (yes, I called them bozos) want to come along and ruin a good thing?

The final word in this new’s piece was that more studies were needed to find out why this would be the case.

I had some initial thoughts myself. Call them Ellie’s Hypotheses.  (Grade 9 Science really did come in handy! Who knew?)

  1. Guilt.  I think that some of us might feel guilty for being happy. Particularly, if we have close friends going through a hard time.
  2. Deserving. Or a lack thereof.  Perhaps some of us feel like we don’t deserve to be happy.
  3. The Shoe.  The “When’s-the-shoe-going-to-drop?” mentality.  We say, “Sure, things are good now, but it’s not going to last.”  We can’t even enjoy the good times, for fear and anxiety of the future, of the bad things we think are on the way.

I say, “BAH” again.  (I’m starting to feel like Scrooge…)

Psychology Today goes on to say that, “some researchers believe that the major function of laughter is to bring people together.”  I like that.

Laughter helps build community.

I think laughter can help bridge communities too.  Jesus always shared meals with people. I know from personal experience of small group that sharing a meal built a bridge to the Bible study.

By the time we got to the serious part of the discussion, we had already shared how our days had gone.  We had talked, and I would argue, more importantly, we had laughed together.  It did wonders for building relationships.

And, here’s the best advice I’ve heard all week (granted it’s only Tuesday). “Dr. Miller offers a simple prescription that won’t bankrupt you and could save your life. “Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week, and 15 minutes of laughter on a daily basis is probably good for the vascular system.”

Here to help you “Laugh-on!” is a funny from my favourite cartoon, The Far Side:

And, one more just to show you some of us Christians have a sense of humour. Ta da!

Look closely!  🙂



* See Psychology Today

Free Will

Hi there,

George MacDonald said, “Free will is not the liberty to do whatever one likes, but the power of doing whatever one sees ought to be done, even in the very face of otherwise overwhelming impulse. There lies freedom, indeed.”

I don’t think I’ve ever written about free will. It’s an interesting thing, this free will.  (My brain automatically pictures a beast of a killer whale jumping over a ‘bridge’ to get back to his family in the wide open ocean. Might not be a bad metaphor to keep on the shelf, actually.)

One time, a non-Christian told me I could do whatever I wanted to do, live my life however I see fit, and then when I’m on my deathbed, repent. All is forgiven.

I told him there was one problem with his theory – What if I get hit by a bus?  I imagine the last thing on my mind if I saw a bus coming toward me, would be to repent of my sins.  Just saying.

Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines “Freedom” as:

1:  the quality or state of being free: as

a :  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

b :  liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another :  independence

c :  the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous<freedom from care>

Free will is the choice to do what is right.  I like how Merriam Webster reminds me that freedom involves an “absence of necessity, coercion, or restraint”.

I hear pastors speaking of this freedom, that there is no guilt, no condemnation, that God does not want us to do anything we don’t want to do.

A christian once told me, “God is a gentleman.  He won’t force himself on us.”  I like that.

According to MacDonald, freedom involves self-control. says, “The Greek word for self-control in Galatians 5:23 is “egkrateia” which means “temperance: the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites.”

I think this is where MacDonald is leaning.  He tells us that true freedom lies in doing what is right, “even in the very face of otherwise overwhelming impulse”.

So, now how to bring back the killer whale?  I am drawing a blank, but am a whale of a fan  of Jill Scott’s song, “Golden”.   (Apologies. I am in pun mode – You’re just lucky I didn’t name this blog, Time’s Marchin’ on… Bring on Spring!)