The Real Issues Facing our Next Mayor (Part 1)

city hall

One of the complicated issues relating to running for Mayor in the City of Winnipeg is the expectations of the voters wanting each candidate to explain:

1) What are you going to do?

2) Why should I vote for you?

This often results in as Bartley Knives indicates in his very good summary of the campaign thus far in his article ‘(Some) campaigns picking up steam: A look at the landscape in the mayoral race’ a torrent of promises. The other complicated issue is many of the major issues relating to economic growth, poverty alleviation, crime reduction, tax fairness and infrastructure improvement are not entirely something the Mayor or City Council can solve or is even in their power to solve unilaterally.

The requirements of a Mayor necessitate being an advocate for the City of Winnipeg and its people. It is essential the Mayor understand policy implications at the Municipal, Provincial and Federal Level. The City of Winnipeg is able to generate very little revenue to make the impact on infrastructure as a result of some inequities that have resulted by policies of both the Provincial and Federal Government.

A website every Canadian should visit is called ’Canadians for Tax Fairness’. It provides some excellent discussion points about the data and the truth about Tax Fairness in our country.

Property Taxes

proprty

Many people would describe Property Taxes as a necessary evil, but in Winnipeg and in Manitoba, it is counter-intuitive to the economic and educational growth the tax is intended to provide. Property Taxes, by most experts, is considered to be a regressive tax, as it impedes growth. Manitoba is the last province that relies so heavily on Property Tax as a method to fund education. Historically property taxes were seen by local communities as a way to address the unique educational needs of their communities. However, with provincial curriculum, educational policies, standards and most of what happens in schools in regards to programming, assessment and reporting is now mandated, therefore the rationale has lost its validity. Education is 100% the provinces responsibility (except on Reserves-more on that later), as well as the responsibility of every Manitoban, not only property owners. Even if School Divisions no longer collected educational taxes; despite what some may say; the need for School Trustees would still be required as representatives of the community’s voice and an integral part of the accountability process for education. Their role may become less focused on budget issues and more focused on student outcomes.

bill

Every property owner in Winnipeg when they open their letter from the Assessment and Taxation Department look to the bottom of the page to see how much they owe. They then will see how much goes to the City and how much goes to education. The City of Winnipeg has no control over the education portion of property taxes and for that matter neither do the Trustees of the School Divisions. When the province mandates educational policy and standards (which they should) the School Divisions must create and provide the systems and provide the resources to ensure these standards are reached.

The money needs to come from somewhere. Education is an essential component in the well-being of our society now and in the future. Property Taxes for education needs to end and the 35% of Education Taxes that are generated that way need to go back to the Province to fund. Currently the Province tries to make political points by giving money back to property owners and now even more if you are a senior. For more information on this matter visit: letsplayfair.com.

Imagine opening your Tax Bill and seeing it be cut in half. Imagine what that does to your spending money or the ability for business to develop the many empty lots in Winnipeg, improve property without the worry of increasing value. Imagine what it means to small business and their ability to grow and expand. The province could look at numerous other ways to fund education which the foundational principal would be to create a more equitable way to fund education.

Poverty

Canada's Oliver Twist

Canada’s Oliver Twist

This is a larger and more complicated issue which currently is eroding our human infrastructure and negatively impacting police services, ambulance services as well as the need to address the associated impact of what increased poverty does to the cost of many of our essential services. In Canada, child poverty remains high as well as the discrepancy between those that have and those that do not. This discrepancy is having a negative impact on Canadian unity. The majority of Canadians have seen a decrease in their disposable income resulting in everyone trying to maintain their standard of living with less. The double–edged sword of course is that if we don’t address poverty now, the costs associated with poverty such as medical, social services and crime will increase, resulting in the long-term costs continuing to balloon. We have high unemployment when it comes to full-time jobs for young people and 1/3 of people in poverty have jobs, but are the working poor.

wage

In the 1960’s more than 25% of seniors lived in poverty. This was unacceptable to Canadians and pressure was put on the government and society to solve this issue. The solution was the development of Old Age Security, the Canadian Pension Plan as well as Medicare to ensure all Canadians were able to benefit from being Canadian. It is those systems developed to assist all Canadians that also help provide Canadians with a social safety net that minimized our impact during the last global recession. The solutions needed today will require similar innovative changes to our taxation system to support families, decrease child poverty and provide people with full-time work.

The tax system can be a key tool for redistributing wealth. Closing the gap between rich and poor is not only a moral and ethical imperative, it is also critical to restoring a healthy society and a healthy economy.

Taxes could reduce inequality and boost economy: by Dennis Howlett, 05/22/2014

This is not to say the only solution is to increase taxes on the wealthy or on corporations but we do need to close Tax Haven loop holes immediately. Many G7 countries have already done so. Secondly, if the rationale for decreasing taxation for corporations is to create employment and that is not being accomplished despite profits and income of Canada’s wealthiest Canadians growing, then the Government needs to tax the so-called ‘Dead Money’ as former Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney indicated. We need to create tax incentives that reward corporations who help strengthen communities and encourage growth of jobs and help educate Canadians to become part of the workforce.

Successful People

Successful People

A fair tax policy is essential to reducing income inequality and to re-building Canada. Since 1981 Corporations have seen a 40% reduction in their tax rate and this does not include the tax relief legally or illegally obtained through Tax Havens. At the same time individuals are paying more and small businesses that are often the life-blood of growth in local communities have also not benefitted to the same degree from Federal Government Tax Policies. The OECD states the top one per cent of Canadian pre-tax income earners captured 37 per cent of the overall income growth between 1981 and 2012, and now account for 12.2 per cent of the country’s total annual income.

All of this could be tolerated if as indicated by our Prime Minister that the reason for decreasing tax burden for Corporations and the wealthy was to create jobs. This has not been accomplished, rather, what has occurred is the decreasing of full-time jobs, decreasing of salaries and an increase burden on the so-called ‘Middle Class’ to support Canada’s economic and social infrastructure.

tracy1

The bottom-line is that by decreasing taxes for corporations, the support to assist all Canadians has also lessened. The untruthfulness of the rhetoric that lower taxes for the wealthy benefit everyone has not worked and our government has no evidence to support this is helping Canada be a better stronger, healthy country. A fairer tax system is needed and even one perhaps that can vary from corporation to corporation depending on the business’s committment to the creation of full-time jobs. Many Canadians have fallen victim to blaming the poor as being the problem rather than looking at what the data is actually telling us. This blame game is destroying the Canadian social fabric.

A simple example of excess of the wealthy is the purchase of car for 38 million dollars. The purchaser of the car did not want to be identified but if I was a business owner that 38 million dollars means a salary of $50, 000 a year for 760 employees. For the government, it means receiving taxes from 760 people were previously not paying taxes. It means more money for families, fewer children in poverty and an increase in spending in the local community benefitting small and local businesses. It means a reduction in social costs for our communities, increased employment and increased revenue to support our social programs benefitting all Canadians. Hey, but perhaps one person got a 38 million dollar car from the money they didn’t pay tax on because they took advantage of the loopholes in our taxation system.

This is certainly not something a Mayor or Winnipeg can solve alone, as Taxation is a Federal issue. It is estimated that by closing some of these loop holes and making a fairer tax system could net at least $40 billion dollars a year for Canada to invest in health, education and infrastructure development of our crumbling cities and towns. It would mean we wouldn’t need to have a fire sale of ‘Green Space’ in the City of Winnipeg to fix our roads. It would mean we could support children and families in the way that will benefit society today as well as in the future. It would mean jobs, training and a much-needed influx of capital for municipalities to address the issues related to roads, public transportation, public safety, frozen pipes, snow removal and creating a greener, more sustainable Canada.

This requires a leader, a mayor, who is vocal and will challenge the Federal Government to address these tax inequities that are putting such a heavy financial burden on provincial and municipal governments.

PART 2 (to be posted Sunday, August 31st) and discuss issues relating to Sustainable Development, City Planning as well as the need for an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Woman and I will include protection of children as well.

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Sunsets

Sunsets are one of the most photographed of nature’s natural wonders. There never seems to be a sunset exactly the same. It comes as no surprise the romance of a sunset whether it be as you stroll down the beach or admire the sun as it says goodnight with a group of friends, it is hard not to be amazed by nature’s tapestry.

      A Sail Boat on       Tamarindo Bay

A Sail Boat on
Tamarindo Bay

        A Sunset at Sea           Playa Grande

A Sunset at Sea
Playa Grande

A Sunset in Hanalei Bay on the Beautiful Island of Kauii

A Sunset in Hanalei Bay on the Beautiful Island of Kauii

A South Pacific Sunset on the Cook Islands  (Taken with a phone)

A South Pacific Sunset on the Cook Islands
(Taken with a phone)

A Maui Sunset

A Maui Sunset

 

A Big Island Sunset

A Big Island Sunset

 All photos taken by James W Hoddinott

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Bystanders to Violence and Neglect

children

In Canada the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) recently published a report that focused on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women. The numbers are staggering for a country that prides itself on equality and issues relating to human rights. What is lost in the report that states there are 1181 missing and murdered aboriginal woman is the fact that if we take the report further we would understand that represents 11.3% of missing and murdered woman. Meaning there are over 13 000 missing or murdered woman in this country.

Individuals who want to continue to ignore or be bystanders to the violence, exploitation and abuse of missing aboriginal woman and the RCMP report want to make this an issue of race. In fact this is about far more than just the over-representation of aboriginal woman who are either missing or murdered. Globally people who are in poverty, marginalized, dealing with issues of neglect, abuse and find themselves not having their basic human rights realized are far more likely to be victimized.

It would be premature to focus on research outcomes without first addressing the context of the research. Violence against women is a significant societal issue. According to the World Health Organization, it affects one-third of women around the globe and represents a health problem of “epidemic proportions.”1

Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: A National Operational Overview

The most recent murder of Tina Fontaine brings to the light our need to be more vigilant in supporting our most vulnerable citizens. Our children, like Tina Fontaine, are at-risk of being abused, exploited and fall victim to those individuals that prey on children and those people most vulnerable. Canadian musician Wab Kinew indicated the over one thousand people who attended the vigil are stating ‘We will be silent no more’. Let’s be clear, there are people who know what happened to Tina Fontaine and the 1181 other aboriginal woman who are missing and murdered, as well as the over 13 000 other woman, but continue to remain silent. For our society to truly not be silent anymore those that were witness to or know who committed these acts of unspeakable violence and exploitation of woman and children will come forward and speak-up on behalf of the victims rather than remain in silence supporting the perpetrators of violence.

Violence and exploitation of woman, children and our vulnerable citizens is reaching epidemic proportions. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services ““After drug dealing, trafficking of humans is tied with arms dealing as the second-largest criminal industry in the world.” The ‘Not for Sale’ campaign indicates that there are over 30 million people enslaved world-wide and is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Issues related to child pornography, prostitution and free or cheap labour as the world seems to be adopting a money no matter what the cost attitude. Countries seem reluctant to deal with criminal activity of this magnitude, even at times seeming to portray the exploitation of woman as their choice, rather than seeing them as victims.

In order to start to make a difference and end the need to have vigils so we can hear the voice of the victim of such horrific acts of violence, we need more than laws and the enforcement of those laws but we need to change our own beliefs and attitudes about what is acceptable. We need to understand our responsiblity to protect all our children and vulnerable citizens. We need to all believe we are all born equal and we must work together to find a way that we remain equal no matter what race, culture or circumstance we find ourselves in.

It will require that we are no longer bystanders to violence and neglect. We need to protect our children by changing our attitude to the exploitation of woman and children through on-line pornography, child pornography or remain silent as they fall victims to drugs, alcohol or the sex trade. We must put a stop to those who earn their living through the exploitation of others.

We must create a more inclusive society where everyone matters, where people matter.

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Travel Costa Rica by Photograph

It is always a strange feeling. The moment you step on the plane to fly back home that feeling of didn’t I just get here envelopes you.

Prior to leaving people kept telling me how much they loved Costa Rica. Would this be like the movie everyone tells you to see and those high expectations leave you disappointed. With Costa Rica it was different. The experience exceeded the hype. Here are a few photos to share a piece of Costa Rica with you. ‘Pura Vida’ the good life.

Howler Monkey relaxing in Tamarindo.

Howler Monkey relaxing in Tamarindo.

Every morning and evening the sounds of the Howler Monkey filled the air. Initially what seemed strange by the end it was comforting as you felt a part of nature rather than an intruder.

The Beach at Sunset enjoyed by all

The Beach at Sunset enjoyed by all

It is hard to imagine a sunset changing the color of the sky, the sand and water but the magic of the sunset was the place to be as tourists and locals all relaxed on beach enjoying nature’s splendour.

 

The waves of Playa Grande

The waves of Playa Grande

Most days the waves were there to surf, bogie board or simply swim as the power of the ocean shared its playground. Some days on Playa Grande the waves and riptides were so strong we were reminded of the strength of nature.

Hummingbird

Hummingbird

 

Iguana

Iguana

White-Faced Monkey

White-Faced Monkey

Crocodile of Palo Verde

Crocodile of Palo Verde

The wildlife of Costa Rica was there to see. Whether it be on a hike through a National Park, a boat ride down the river or sharing the town Costa Rica is the home to a variety of wildlife to please the professional or casual photographer like me.

The ocean paints a mural in the sand

The ocean paints a mural in the sand

A walk of the multi-coloured sand beach of Tamarindo Bay allows nature to use the beach as its canvas.

A trip to Costa Rica as discussed with other travellers who remarked “It truly makes you wonder if somehow we have our priorities mixed-up.” Sharing our world with the environment by letting it be part of us and us part of nature rather than pushing nature out to create our concrete jungles.

All photos taken by James W Hoddinott with his Sony a57

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Leadership: Vision, Action and Integrity

 buffet

Leadership whether it be of our country, province, city, business, education or our local communities and families all have something in common. It isn’t easy and in order to be effective it requires some of the same characteristics. Have you had the good fortune to see the dedication and strength of a parent as they put the needs of their children and family ahead of their own? It takes hard work, commitment, dedication and honesty. It sometimes means making tough decisions, it may mean doing without because of unexpected expenses or just the cost of living. It requires planning, organizing and communication.

This fall Winnipeggers will be going to the polls to elect a new mayor, city council and school trustees. People that have tremendous influence, yet the percentage of people taking advantage of their democratic right to vote continues to decline. It has become blatantly obvious that we need to do our due diligence by not only voting but also electing quality people. Many voters have lost their faith that we can elect someone with the integrity, intelligence and energy to make a difference at City Hall, in government at any level for that matter.

People have grown tired over the last few years of what appears to be a litany of broken promises, back door politics, favoritism and some serious financial over-runs that will negatively affect our City now and moving forward. One could go on at nauseam about the problems plaguing City Hall, but in the end, the current issues will be the starting place for a new mayor and council. The question we need to ask ourselves is which candidate, if any, has a vision for Winnipeg that is sustainable and creates a form of governance and leadership that will instil confidence in an electorate that no longer believes they have a voice. Governance is about more than what we need today, it must also be about ensuring that we create a sustainable future for our children and future generations. It is about balancing a budget and protecting our important assets so that we can have a city that is vibrant now and in the future.

In essence from the outside looking in, if we are to bring about the change required to create an effective municipal government it demands a unified effort by those elected to recognize our municipal government is broken and then put a plan in effect that will have community voice as an integral part of our local government. A daunting task to say the least. Winnipeg’s most valuable asset is the people. We need to value what they have to say about the needs of their community, their local neighbourhoods as well as their views on what our city’s priorities need to be.

It will require a mayor that can create a vision and belief in our city that people matter. All people. Many issues will require a leader who can partner with the other levels of government to put together a cohesive effort to unravel the complicated issues related to our faltering infrastructure. Examining the fairness of our current taxation system including the city’s ability to raise the needed capital to fund the projects required to put our city on its feet again. A mayor able to work with all levels of government, including civil servants, and businesses (please note that is plural) to create a strong and vibrant Winnipeg which will help make our province stronger. It is no easy task facing any newly elected officials.

What are the characteristics we should be looking for in our Mayor?

vision

1)      A Vision for the future. The mayor should be able to look at where the city is now and where it needs to be in two years, five years and even twenty-five years. It is looking at the city from above and identifying what pieces of the puzzle are missing and put a plan of action together that allows us to finish that puzzle. We don’t ram puzzle pieces in places they don’t fit.

2)      A great communicator. It is one thing to have a vision but can our mayor articulate that vision and convince others to join in making that vision a reality. The vision needs to become a shared vision. In order for this to happen it means meeting and talking with community groups, business leaders and developers as well as those everyday people who pay taxes to keep our city running.

3)      Be an inspiration to others. In the end it will not be the mayor who does great things but the mayor who creates an atmosphere where the people of Winnipeg are able to make each community a great place to live. The mayor needs to be the leader and facilitator in putting the vision into action.

inspire

4)      Is surrounded by good people.  Decisions need to be made by people who can make the vision and plans happen. We must take the politics, out of action. It easy for a mayor or political leader to lose their way as a result of political and media pressure. An individual who makes promises they can’t keep or is willing to sell off assets to keep the city’s head above water, is not the kind of person or mayor we need. The mayor must have people who keep the vision moving ahead and not get side-tracked because of an issue of the day or the day-to-day management of the city. If we have good people, the management of the city should take care of itself. If the management of the city’s daily affairs isn’t working, then that is another problem to be fixed, another plan of action to put in place. Do the civil servants and leaders in the city’s departments have the ability to advise the mayor and if so, do their voices count? If they don’t have the skills why not? All individuals both political and non-political, need to be focused on what is best for the city and set aside their personal interests and agendas.

5)      The mayor must be a person of action. Change is difficult. If what we are doing isn’t working we need to do something different. It must be done strategically and with an eye on the long-term vision. We don’t do something just to do something. It must fit into where we see our city going or it will cause more problems and cost more than the issue it was supposed to solve.

integrity

6)      The mayor must have Integrity. Michael Josephson in his article HIRE FOR CHARACTER, TRAIN FOR SKILLS: Character is an Essential Competence he states, “If you were hiring a new CEO, what are the most important qualities you’d look for? Surely you’d want a high level of demonstrated competence – knowledge, experience, intelligence, vision, communication, and relationship skills and the ability to motivate, manage, and solve problems. But what about qualities such as honesty, moral courage, accountability, and fairness?”

Each of us can make our own decisions as they read this article as to if any of our current candidates meet any or all of the criteria listed above. In essence it doesn’t matter if it is for government, business, or education, the qualities of a good leader do not change. It doesn’t matter what the situation, we need leaders with integrity, intelligence and energy. We need to have high expectations of our leaders. We don’t need someone whose goal is politics, saying what they think people want to hear. We need someone whose goal is to make a difference, create a better Winnipeg. Give people the facts about our current financial situation, be transparent with the data about our crumbling infrastructure, poverty and openly discuss possible solutions as we work on developing our shared vision for Winnipeg a reality.

We need someone who is willing to put the needs of our city and its people ahead of their own. We need a leader.

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Miravalles Volcano “Harnessing the Energy”

Waterfall #1

Waterfall #1

A visit to Costa Rica, actually any place that is different from your own, gives you a great opportunity to see and experience a different culture, different ideas, as  well as explore the natural and man-made wonders of the country  When the opportunity to visit one of the Volcanoes that are part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” we chose Miravalles which is part of the North Volcanic Mountain Ridge in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, This region is also home to the Miravalles Geothermal Field, which consists of five plants, produces nearly 14% of the National Electrical System’s (SEN) capacity; it opened in 1994.

Costa Rica is attempting to become less reliant on fossil fuels and already harnesses hydro-electric, wind and to a smaller extent solar power and increasing the country’s ability to access the geothermal energy from the volcanoes would create a cleaner and more environmental solution to the counties energy needs. The balancing act will be to harness the power through the development of more Geothermal Plants and continue to protect the National Parks and Eco-Tourism which is important both environmentally and economically.

Close-up of Volcanic Mud

Close-up of Volcanic Mud

To visit Miravalles Volcano we went with Xplore Costa Rica and were fortunate enough to travel with 5 people from New York City. It is highly recommended when exploring Miravalles Volcano and Las Hornillas Volcanic Hot Springs you utilize the services of a guide. This is the second time we had local Naturalist Eugene as our guide who was accompanied by Felix who was making like us his first trip to Miravalles Volcano. Eugene knows the flora, fauna and wildlife of Costa Rica and understands the importance of the environment.

The tour includes horseback riding, a 90 minute hike through the rainforest, over suspension bridges to see 5 waterfalls with each one getting better as you moved further up the volcano. After a traditional Costa Rican lunch (pescado, pollo or cerdo, beans and rice as well as plantains and cheese) you had the opportunity to explore the crater and enjoy the steam and bubbling clay before taking a natural steam bath, a relaxing soak in the hot volcanic mud, then finishing by dipping yourself in the three different pools as you cleansed your pores and skins.

Felix and Fernando and the base of the Waterfall

Felix and Fernando and the base of the Waterfall

Fernando or as he is playfully known as ‘Mono’ led us on the hike and is quite the photographer. He borrowed my camera to take some amazing shots of our experience as you walked across the suspension bridge or in front of the one of the magnificent waterfalls. You have a choice to go by tractor or horseback and as a group we took the horses. All of us were novices to say the least, with three of our group never have been on a horse. The horses being trail horses were well-tempered and any initial concerns anyone had were eased by our three tour guides.

Suspension Bridge

Suspension Bridge

The hiking although not strenuous does require a moderate level of fitness and balance. It is rocky in places and a natural rainforest. A couple of the well-built suspension bridges were long but offered spectacular views of the majesty of Miravalles Volcano. The hike is certainly worth the effort. Cooler because it is out of the sun and you start to enter parts of the rainforest with an opportunity to see some unique flora and fauna.

Sulfur Deposit in Crater

Sulfur Deposit in Crater

The crater itself is a geologists dream with deposits of sulfur, iron and the bubbling volcanic mud creating steam vents as you meander through this wonder of nature. Although a bit reluctant at first the natural steam bath is hot and wonderful as you prepare yourself for a dip in the volcanic mud. Initially we sat in the closest mud bath as the water streamed into the pool but it was very hot. The second mud bath was cooler and we were able to cover ourselves in nature’s skin cream. The showers to clean off the mud is a must as you finally take your time as you relax in the three natural pools. It was a great time to relax with a cerveza or some agua before the journey back into Guanacaste.

The trip to Miravalles Volcano was fantastic but a few tips:

1) Don’t take your best swim suit

2) Towels are a must

3) They say mosquito repellant, but so far I have found Costa Rica almost bug free

4) A Camera

5) ALWAYS end your day with a spectacular walk on the beach at sunset

Tamarindo Beach Sunset

Tamarindo Beach Sunset

 

For more information visit Xplore Costa Rica or The Costa Rica Travel Blog

or

Las Hornillas Volcanic Activity Centre

All photos taken with my Sony A57

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Birth of a Story

writing

It has often been said the writing of a story, a novel is like giving birth. I am not sure about that, as one look at my photo and the amazement of childbirth I have obviously not fully experienced. As a father you can feel the kicking, watch the growth of your child though ultra-sound, reading and talking to your child as they grow inside of the mother’s womb and even be there at birth, but you will never experience the gift a mother feels as the new life grows inside of her. The creation of story is an incredible release of something inside of the writer that in the beginning, at conception, is growing from a mere idea, to vivid images and thoughts that grow in you until it is born, is given life.

One of my bosses once said to me, “You can’t be passionate about everything?” I understood his point, as at times one’s passions can have you lose focus on the task at hand. However, when it comes to writing, it is those passions, life’s experiences that feed the story providing the nutrition for the story to grow into something powerful, meaningful and lasting.

One of my favorite quotes is “If your writing doesn’t have a point, why write.” It is through issues of social justice, human rights, poverty, education, the rights of children, photography and the sustainability of our planet that feed my imagination to look at what was, what is and what could be. I use my blog to write and express my thoughts and ideas about all my passions. Blogging for me has had a positive impact on my writing. It has taught me to take an idea, read, research, and expand my understanding and then write. Just write.

When writing, even sleep is different. Dreams are more vivid, more real, more dramatic. The world around you changes. Faces of strangers become characters, the simple becomes complex and for the mind there is no peace, no rest, just words bouncing about trying to get out. Long walks on the beach, staring out the window to the casual onlooker may appear to be times of relaxation, but when you are in the midst of writing, the story is always there. Lurking in your subconscious making you appear distant and lost. People talk and their words fall in amongst all those other ideas and thoughts and sometimes disappear without a response. Writing can be solitary, but never lonely as the characters take life, become real.

I have started my next novel so conception has occurred, each word, every sentence seems to reach a point where it takes on a life of its own, Where each word leads to the next and before long that mere idea you started with evolves. Characters are created breeding new life, new conflict, raw emotions and at times I no longer feel I am writing the story but it is using me as the scribe.

The birth of a story is exciting and more that just a little frightening. Like raising a child, you give it your time, your love and attention but you don’t always have control and eventually, once released out of your arms and into the world, then a new life and journey will begin.

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