Interview :: Meet Danielle Paradis

Photo sourced from Dani’s Blog

This is Danielle Paradis! A fellow writer and Grant MacEwan graduate, I met Dani when we were working on creating a nude calendar at our school. She writes, reviews, works on her Masters, and was the lead organizer for this year’s Slut Walk in Edmonton. Here, Dani talks about her life of writing, schooling, slut walking, and nail art!

1. Tell me about yourself.

I have a day job doing project coordinating of educational materials related to various trades. I am in school too, taking my Master of Arts in Learning Technology. I love reading. I review a lot of books on sex. Coming up soon I have a review for Violet Blue’s “The Adventurous Couple’s Guide to Sex Toys” and will be giving away a copy of the book on my blog. I like knitting too. And hula hooping.

2. What do you write about? What’s your favourite topic, genre, and avenue? What motivates your writing?

Oh a wide range of things! I write about current events, political musings, and intersectional feminism. I write about fashion and beauty. I also write some poetry and fiction. Like every other writer out there I would like to write a novel but I honestly don’t know what I would write about. I have one that I started about 8 years ago (!) In high school but I sort of lost interest.

3. You give voice to many sensitive subjects. What is your biggest struggle when writing a controversial article?

Yes I do end up writing about some sensitive topics. My biggest struggle is the argument. I write to bring awareness to issues where there are still a lot of misconceptions like sexual violence. Sometimes when writing the struggle comes from knowing what is going to happen when the article gets published some topics really bring out the dissenters and everyone expects you to have time to personally address their arguments.

4. You recently took part in Edmonton’s Slut Walk. Can you briefly explain what this is and why it’s important to you?

I was the lead organizer for this year’s slut walk. The movement began when a police officer said some less-than-sensitive remarks about how women should dress in order not to be victimized. Now every SW is slightly different because it conforms to the perspective of the organizer and the needs of the community. I participate because I and many women I know have experiences of sexual violence often without any hope of justice. I’ve been assaulted and never went to the police. A part of the stigma was highlighted by the remarks of the Toronto cop–women are blamed for their sexual assault. We’re scrutinized for behaviour and any hint of sexuality. Society needs to learn that the only person we should blame for rape are the rapists.

5. What advice can you give to aspiring writers?

Go to events where there will be other writers! So much of the time people assume writing is about isolation, but it doesn’t have to be the entirety. A part of getting your foot in the door is to actually know other writers and editors. New media is more social than its predecessors social media is now mandatory. Sure, there are some writers like David Sedaris who are able to get by shunning all technology but the vast majority of us have to get out there to make our voices known.

I also read a lot about writing. “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser is one of my favourites, and I also like Stephen King’s “On Writing” and “Danse Macabre”. “Writing Down the Bones” by Natalie Goldberg is also worth checking out.

6. What’s in the works for you in the near future?

I’m just beginning writing my thesis right now. It is on Open Textbooks. I’m very interested in how technology and education intersect with one another and the ways in which we can enhance society through education. I’m going to keep writing too of course. I’m going to an Open Education conference in November that I am pretty excited about.

7. How do you keep your life playful & brilliant?

Whew boy. Um this can be a challenge when you are writing about dark topics. My friends on Twitter always help with a few pictures of bunnies and a good cat video here and there. In real life I try to go outside and go for walks I find myself cooped up in doors between work and study a lot. I travel when I can. We went to San Francisco and Seattle last year those were two great cities. I don’t think that I am particularly playful I have a pretty serious streak but I mindfully try to lighten up at least occasionally.

Nail art is fun I used to paint but I don’t have a lot of time to do that now. It was mostly water colors. I live in a small space so nail art allows me to still be creative.

8. Anything else you want to add?!

You know when they tell you to write everyday? It is true. Write and read every single day if you want to be a writer. After awhile it becomes a habit. Writing really isn’t that glamorous. You learn to face a lot of rejection. Keep pitching and you’ll get there.

More From Dani!

My Slut Walk Speech
Body Image and Fashion: How I Learned To Accept Myself Through Embracing Vintage
On Alberta Primetime Discussing Rape Culture

Thanks Dani! I love Stephen King’s “On Writing” too. I was skeptical at first because of his horror niche, but it was so beautifully written. You can find more from Danielle Paradis on twitter!

Interview :: Meet Photos by Adele

Photos by Adele :: Interview with Stylings + Stories

Photo by Photos by Adele

So, this is Adele! She’s the sweetie behind my Pick Me photo shoot. She’s an inspiration and and I wanted to learn about her quirks. Here’s our interview!

1. Tell us about yourself.

I’m a photographer who works in Calgary Alberta, I’ve been photographing people for the past five years, and I love it! Some other things that I love are my slippers, summer patios, pizza with just “cheese and pineapple on it,” and dogs running at high speed (that one is always hilarious!)

2. What drew you in to photography?

My parents bought me a six-dollar film camera when I was about eight for our family trip to Mexico. I can remember being so excited to get my film developed, which took about a week, and finally when I got that package back of 25 pictures about 24 of those were blurry pictures of my thumb. However, there was one slightly crooked ocean picture of the sun setting. I loved it so much I framed it and put it next to my Aaron Carter poster. If you would have asked my eight-year-old self, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I know my response would have been something like, “a singer!” At the time I wouldn’t have guessed that I would fall in love with photography as much as I have, but I love everything that photography stands for and I think I subconsciously knew that even at eight years old.

3. What do you love most about your job?

There are lots of different aspects that are extremely rewarding about photography. My favourite photographs are the ones of people. There is always a story that can be told through a photograph and I love being a part of it!

4. What has been the biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge for me has been how much there is to learn in photography. Accepting criticism and learning from it has been challenging, but also the most rewarding to my photography.

5. What advice can you give aspiring business ladies & gents?

Never stop learning. Take the opportunities every day to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Reflect on your work and make a list of the things you can work on, and the things you did well, it will only make your work improve!

6. Tell us about a memorable photo shoot!

Last April I assisted on a wedding and it unexpectedly dumped snow on the wedding day! Traveling from the ceremony to the reception was slippery and terrifying, but we made it! The snow was so fresh and beautiful it made for stunning photographs!

7. What’s in the works for you in the near future?

The upcoming summer I have weddings to photograph, which I am very excited about! I also hope to have my own website up by the end of summer, so all my pictures will be online for everyone to view!

8. How do you keep your life playful & brilliant?

I try to surround myself with inspirational people, who work hard and also play hard.

Thanks so much, Adele. You are truly charming and a pleasure to work with. I love how you find beauty in everything, from the crooked ocean sunset to sparkling snow in April.

How to Overcome Writers’ Block

How to Overcome Writers' Block

“Just write,” they say. “I don’t believe in writers’ block. It’s all in your head. Here’s a pen.”

I want to stick my tongue out at they. They doesn’t even know how it feels to have such genius ideas dancing a sexy tango in your head only to become floppy 1990’s boy band choreography on the page. Not only is it a total mess, it’s embarrassing.

It’s like one of those bad dreams where you show up to work in your underwear and everyone laughs, only it’s actually happening and you’re not caught in your underwear but a tacky neon leotard and everyone just stares uncomfortably because they can’t tell if you’re joking or not.

It’s not a joke.

So, writers’ block, instead of working her tacky neon leotard like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat, awkwardly sits at her computer fidgeting with her hair, shoveling snacks down her throat, and wiping away wet mascara running from the frustrated tears that pour out.

Never. Typing. A. Single. Word.

Maybe they has good advice after all. Just write.

Just write the cringe-worthy choreography, get it out of the way so you can smooth it into a sensual, heart-stopping tango. Wear that leotard like hot red lipstick.

I’m tellin’ ya, if you work it, those stares will be wrung with jealousy, because secretly, deep down, we all want the confidence to squirm in our most embarrassing indulgences. We fear our most intimate desires because they aren’t what we thought they would be, they aren’t what we were told they would be. They’re more like cheesy boy bands and bright, clingy spandex.

Trust me, once you’re done with it, people will want all your tacky like a popsicle in the summer sun, like beer by the barbecue, like kisses in the morning and cuddles at night.

I mean, you’re stuck in that damn leotard anyway, might as well make the best of it.

If that doesn’t work, just give up. Become a clown like all those high school career tests told you to. You’re half way there anyway, right?

Wrong. Big fat wrong.

If working it isn’t your style, chill out, there are a million ways to get out of your rut. I like to start with taking a break. Go for a run, walk through nature, meditate, make lunch or dinner or midnight snack, take a shower, call your mom and cry your poor little encumbered heart out. It’s okay. Everything is going to be okay.

Then, pour yourself a tall glass of malbec and sit back down to your notebook, or laptop or napkin, and write.

Just write.

Here are some writing prompts to get you started:

  1. I remember …
  2. The last time I …
  3. The more I think about ____ the more I wish …
  4. I wish …
  5. If I were …
  6. The colour ____ always reminds me of …
  7. My mom thinks I’m ____ but I’m really …
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