The writer's desk

How Do Writers Know What To Write About?

As an avid reader, I am fascinated how great writers can keep you spellbound and conjure up such amazing characters that you are caught up in the story and can’t put the book down! On my author’s website, I write about various topics in my blog relating to the books and articles I publish. Human beings are fascinating. What makes people tick, why they do the things they do and the differences between good and evil are all part of stories and plots that keep us interested.

How does an idea begin? As with my first book, it could be something that happened personally to the author. It could also be a newspaper headline, a documentary on TV, a photo, the weather, or something that causes the writer to want to take the idea and add more to it. My first children’s book is The Fairy Hollow Chronicles. It is the story of four tiny fairies who live in Fairy Hollow and are to attend their Coming of Age Ceremony the next day. They must first complete their Fairy Quest. I got this idea from my daughter when she was small. She loved fairy stories. I decided to write a story which would incorporate challenges, goal-setting, positive thinking and a a happy ending! Though this book is mainly a Children’s Early Reader, adults reading to children will enjoy it.

From my background as a public health inspector and previous food safety blog writer, my upcoming memoir is about my experiences as the first female public health inspector at the health units where I was employed. Memoirs can be written many different ways. They are interesting to the reader because the author usually lived the experiences so a firsthand account is better than imagining an event happening. I encountered sexism in the workplace, the glass ceiling and lack of professional recognition for my contributions in the field. However, I did make many friends along the way and have some fabulous experiences such as being an international conference speaker in countries from Great Britain to Lithuania. That will be a timely topic for the another blog!

Back To School Lunch Safety

Safely Prepared Lunches Are Important

I always get asked questions on children’s school lunches. Parents ask if lunches are not refrigerated, how can they be safe? Of course, most of us attended school and didn’t have insulated lunch boxes or ice gel packs and did not become ill. However, there are some steps to take that will help reduce the risk of food poisoning and provide a safe lunch.

Here are safety tips for parents:

Temperature Control

** When preparing sandwiches, use either frozen bread or refrigerate the night before. Otherwise, pack with cold drinks, a frozen juice box or an ice pack in an insulated lunch box and that will keep food cool enough until lunch time.


** Remind children to throw away perishable leftovers and recycle packaging when possible. Use individual containers and don’t re-use food packaging as this increases the risk of cross-contamination. As allergies are an increasing concern with children, any re-used packaging could contain an allergen, eg. peanut butter, which can be placed onto another food, eg. cheese, causing an allergic reaction.

** Wash all fruits and vegetables with tap water and then dry with paper towel before adding to the lunch box.

** Insulated bottles can also be used to keep hot food out of the temperature danger zone. Fill the bottle first with boiling water, empty and fill with the hot food.

Sandwich & Salad

** Most importantly, wash your hands before preparing your child’s lunch.

Stay on the Right Track

School lunches safety prepared will help children start back to school safely and ensure a great start to the new school year!

Inspection Reports

As a public health inspector, I remember waiting for the restaurant manager to discuss the inspection report based on my visit to the foodservice operation. I had been writing my report by hand. In those days, reports were handwritten noting any deficiencies which required correction. A voice suddenly interrupted my train of thought, “I wasn’t expecting a woman!”. This came from the manager of the restaurant. He was shocked that a woman could do the job.  My reply was “You never had it so good!”. Now in 2021, many years later, those words are the working title of my next book which will be a memoir on my experiences as a female public health inspector.

When I began my first position in Medicine Hat, Alberta, there had not been another public health inspector hired for 20 years. I was described by one of the inspectors as “a bright light”. I didn’t walk around plugged in all the time but I did bring a new perspective on getting the job done. The secretary was impressed to have a female around the office. She told me that a new broom sweeps clean. Another inspector, who also had been with the unit for 20 years, was not pleased to have a female inspector on the job. I might have shown him up as he hadn’t done much work for many years.

There was definitely lots of work to be done. Restaurants hadn’t been inspected, small towns had been neglected, grocery stores and hotels had not had follow-up inspections. One of my restaurant managers in a small town called Bow River reminded me that I was tough. “Your reputation has preceded you!” she said. Her restaurant had many violations but she and her staff did co-operate and clean up. It was wonderful to have food operations running in compliance compared which protected the health of the population.  Also, the general public noticed the improvement in foodservice operations when dining out and phoned in compliments to the Health Unit.