A couple of weeks ago an editor e-mailed me a response to a piece I had submitted, of which the gist was: I like what you’re doing here, but your title doesn’t quite fit the situation you describe in your work. Either change the situation or change the title – it’s up to you.  Of course, I took the easier (but possibly more stressful) route and spent a day and a half agonizing over potential new titles, one of which was ultimately affixed to the published work.

Coming up with suitable titles is probably one of the most difficult parts of writing for me. If I’m writing an article – about composting, perhaps, or dividing perennials or buying garden tools – I tend to simply give a really brief statement about where I’m headed with the content. So far, I haven’t had to apply the heavy-handed sass that might yield that special click bait edge. “10 Deadly Secrets Your Lawnmower is Harbouring” isn’t really the sort of thing I write.  Yet.  These are lean times.


I usually fare better when it comes to fiction, because the story tells me what it wants to be called (yeah, that doesn’t sound quite right now that I read that back but we’ll go with it).  Because I often write humour, my titles have contained puns (“Johnny Cache Steps Out”), snippets of clichéd sayings (“…If You Were the Last Man on Earth”), or slang (“Sheeple”). Still, the titles are usually coughed up at the end, when I’ve gotten the text down.  The only time it can get a bit shaky is when you have to scramble to meet a deadline and your story is ambiguous with its choice.  You don’t want your title to come across reading like a label hastily slapped on a shipping container (well, I guess it depends on the story).

Blog posts are even worse.  Take today’s title, for example.  It’s short and to the point, and definitely conveys what the writer wants it to, but it’s lacking a certain grittiness that would just nudge it over the top.  I’d chew on it a little bit more, but I’m suddenly inspired to write some horror flash fic about lawnmowers….  (Garden horror – that could seriously be a sub-genre, am I right?).

Are titles a struggle for you?

Clipart credit.

Neither flowery nor prose-y. Aiming for “cute.”

Something has been bothering me lately. I think it could be argued that my blog lacks a certain critical “cuteness factor.”

*shamelessly inserts photo of fuzzy, adorable baby duckling*


I believe I have that taken care of now….   😉

Bananas for books.


Kids and books can be a hilarious combination.  As most of you know, I work in a library, and one of my favourite things is to see children having fun with reading and enjoying a good story.  Last week, I was tidying up the toys in the play area and I heard a mother reading aloud to her young son, who was about three or four years old.  She was telling a story about farm animals, and she came to a part where she questioned her child, “What animal says ‘moo’ and gives us milk?”

The little one thought about it for a moment (I figure he was pausing for dramatic effect), and then shouted mischievously, “A GORILLA!”

I burst out laughing, and the mother was just in stitches.  You really have to wonder how kids come up with these things!

I think most libraries nowadays have a Reader’s Advisory program, which patrons can use to find new authors, books, and materials they otherwise wouldn’t know about.  They’ll obtain this information by talking to a librarian in their local branch, checking the Hotlist, browsing through display areas, or surfing the home page or blog on the library’s website.  Sometimes I hear patrons soliciting the opinions of other patrons – they’ll see someone with a particular book in hand and simply go up and ask them about it.  Everyone is always happy to offer an opinion on a book.

Case in point:  a couple of weeks ago, I was putting away some board books in the children’s area, when I overheard the greatest book recommendation ever.  One little guy – he couldn’t have been more than six years old – was enthusiastically broadcasting to his younger brother the merits of a certain volume he had picked up.  “You’ll LOVE this book!” he exclaimed.  “It has a booger in it!” *

Children’s book authors, take note – that’s the magic stuff, right there!  Five stars!

*(Subject matter, not actual object. Ewwwww…).


How do you get your book recommendations?  Do you check out book reviews on the web, or ask other readers?  Do you pick up books from the displays at your local library?  Are you part of a book club?


“When a bookmark tumbles out of an old book pristine and unwrinkled, it is like a gasp of breath from another century.”

~Don Borchert

As many of you may know, I work in a library.  I was training a new employee this past week and when I showed her the Lost and Found bins, I mentioned a few of the items we sometimes find inserted within the pages of the books that come down the chutes.  She was a little surprised at some of them, and I got to thinking it would be fun to make a list of all the “bookmarks” I’ve personally encountered over the years.  What do you think of some of these?

Due date slips (obviously)

Postcards from all over the world

Airline boarding passes, printed with destinations all over the world

Brightly coloured Post-Its on every.single.page. of a 300+ page book

Price tags from articles of clothing

Receipts and tickets from movies, concerts, etc.

Old photographs

Facial tissue – and my particular favourite, toilet paper (thankfully it’s always unused!)

Credit cards

Library cards

Hair ties


Snow in the winter, grass in the summer

Lollipops – wrapped and unwrapped (and partially consumed)

Pencils, pens, crayons

Grocery lists

Electricity/water bills

Lottery tickets

Paper money in small denominations

Pages of schoolwork

Single playing cards and trading or game cards such as Pokemon

Parts of a manuscript for a novel

A handwritten note which stated we were the recipients of a Random Act of Kindness and we were offered best wishes to have a wonderful day (how sweet is that?)

Christmas/Birthday cards

Calendar pages

Payroll stubs – and paycheques!

Certificates of various achievements

Sudoku, crossword puzzles (always mostly completed)

Bus/train tickets

Cross stitch samplers

Sketches/artwork/doodles (including a child’s macaroni masterpiece!)

Origami creations

Lists of books to borrow next time

“Honey Do” lists

Cigarettes, not smoked

Drinking straws

Plastic cutlery

Oh yeah, and actual bookmarks of every size and shape, homemade and store-bought.  Besides the obvious (ie: the toilet paper!), we always keep everything in case someone comes by to claim their items.

Do you use an actual bookmark when you read print books, or do you employ whatever is handy?  What is the strangest thing you’ve ever used as a bookmark?

The don’ts of bird photography, part 2.

This black-capped chickadee clearly wasn’t ready for his close-up.  And neither was I.  😉


See the first Don’t here….

Bad hair day.



Still standing…even when the chips are down!  (Which is rather punny, given that my hubby and I came across this mostly-defoliated specimen in a logged area in Bragg Creek, Alberta).   😉

I think a lot of people in the province are coming off of a week of “bad hair days”…perhaps it has something to do with the ever-changing weather and the constant “tuque-on, tuque-off”* activity or the hair-raisingly icy and snowy road conditions.  I’m good with the sunshine and brilliant blue sky that showed up in the south today – that can stay!  Here’s to a new week of “Good Hair Days!”

What are your favourite comforts when you’re having one of those days? 

*55 Canadianisms You May Not Know or Are Using Differently

Photo credit: R. Normandeau


Bugleweed. And “friends.”


Some gardeners steer clear of plants like bugleweed (Ajuga reptans) – but in my case, ‘Black Scallop’ was the perfect choice for a large space that needed a pretty cover. And although it may appear that the bugleweed  is gunning for the lawn in this photo, rest assured it is actually the other way around and unfortunately presents clear photographic evidence of my faulty weeding practices.   Sigh…just keeping it real!   😉

What are your favourite ground cover plants?  Which are big no-no’s?  Are there any that you particularly favour for difficult spots (ie: under trees, in shady locations etc.)?