Sunday, February 28, 2016

Becoming Real

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”

   For such a long time, I didn't feel real. 
   I felt like I was here simply to make everyone else happy and then I'd fade back into the wallpaper.
Even when each new book came out, it was a hollow celebration simply because I had someone in my life constantly telling me to give up. Why couldn't they be happy for me? 
  Why couldn't I be happy for me?
  Being a writer is in my blood. I have relatives who are writers, musician/songwriters, and storytellers. Why should I be any different?
  I have been a writer since as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I'd both write and tell stories.    As I grew up, I'd write short stories and poems (many of which my dad has turned into songs over the years!) I even started to write a novel about a rock band that I still have in my closet but have never tried to publish. I also still have some of my childhood stories, written in pencil, in a filing cabinet.
  It wasn't until I had three kids and joined a writing group that I became serious about writing and felt like I was on the right path in my life. A writing career was something I could work on while the kids grew up and I could be there for them, writing while they were in karate or at school.
  I won a writing contest and published my very first novella:  Murder on Manitou. Then, through a critique partner, I found and agent then a publisher (Books We Love Inc, a Canadian publisher) who turned my book The Bookstore Lady into reality. Once that was out of my system, the pressure to get a full-time job was on once more. Then I published book numbers three and four, The Mystery Lady and The Bakery Lady, with two more being planned.
  I was happy, but the more books I wrote and released, the more hollow the celebrations.
Then I started a whole new series and published two Gilda Wright Mysteries with Gemma Halliday Publishing, a US publisher. Can't Keep a Brunette Down and Hardheaded Brunette will soon be joined by the third in the series, Life is Better Brunette. On top of that, I am currently at work on a new book for Gemma Halliday called Steeped in Trouble.
  A friend recently told me I needed to find my self worth. 
  My self worth is in my creativity. My passion for the written word. Hoarding words on my book shelves and computer. Telling my stories to the world.
  Sharing the very thing that helps me to feel real. The one thing I refuse to give up, even when life is at its busiest and at its lowest low. My own little piece of happy.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Round Robin Blog Fest January 2016

Welcome to another installment of the Round Robin Blog Fest!

This month's topic: What are one (or two) writing projects you  want to accomplish this year? What will be any obstacles you might encounter?

This year I have two books on my schedule. The first is for a new book in the Danger Cove series by Gemma Halliday Publishing. My book is called Steeped in Trouble about a quaint tea house in Danger Cove and a woman who has recently divorced her philandering husband and battled cancer. She's looking for a fresh start and ends up with so much more.

The second book is the fourth in my Wild Blue Mystery series from Books We Love Ltd., The Painted Lady. I've had to set this series aside for a while to focus on another series, but Katie, Lucy and the gang will be back for another mystery set in Packham.

Obstacles? Yup, there are a few right now!

2015 was a long, crazy year for me. Between health issues, losing the job I enjoyed, and my marriage breaking down until hubby and I separated and he moved to the southern US right after Christmas for a new job. My writing suffered. My sanity suffered. My health suffered. I took a temporary job to make some money while I figure out what I want to do with my life now that things have flipped over completely. Since I still have 2 teenagers at home and an older son who lives away from home, life is extra busy with activities and their jobs. Just keeping track of our schedules is a full-time job!

January is my time for a deep breath and getting back on track.

Health:  I am looking for answers as to why I am in constant pain and what will give me relief - besides a big glass of wine now and then!  While I can no longer go on long walks in the woods, I can do easy yoga and aquafit. I can find ways to relax and declutter my environment as well as cleaning up my diet and losing a few pounds.

Job: I took a temporary job at a fast food place just because they're the only people who called me back when I applied all over the place. If I'd been smart, I would have taken a month or so off to just screw my head back on straight, but I was pushed by outside forces to "get a real job" and "take care of things." Unfortunately, those things didn't include ME. Mentally and physically, I need a job that has far less stress and I don't have to be on my feet moving and lifting for 8 hours a day. I'm off to the employment center to narrow down my search criteria and do what I want to do.

Romance:  I have a new love. ME. I need to take care of me the way I want to be taken care of. Making time to write, hang out with friends, and exercise are all a part of that. There's a great song right now called "Cheerleader" by Omi. My favorite lyrics from the song are the chorus:
Oh I think that I found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

I used to think I needed someone else to be my cheerleader. Now I realize, I have to be my own cheerleader. I am the only one right there when I need someone.  Including with my writing. I need to clean up my work environment, bring my books and manuscripts out of the closet (literally) and into the open, and be my own cheerleader and manager.

No matter what direction my life takes in this New Year, I need to be my own best friend and take care of me.
And I need to get to work on those books!


Please drop by to find out what obstacles my fellow Round Robin writers are dealing with!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

2015 has been a long, hard road...

I've been really bad about posting to my blog for so many reasons this year. One of which has been my health, dealing with doctor appointments, MRIs, and test after test. My body has become inflamed and stiff with arthritis to the point I've had to give up karate classes and even walking long distances, both things I've loved to do for years. I've been unable to life things and even little things like doing laundry and housecleaning have become major ordeals. I've been left to do these things alone. Even before my husband decided to move on to take a job in another country. Once more, his career comes before his family's concerns or needs. The kids and I will have to find somewhere else to live and I will have to take a full time job. Working part time and writing has never been acceptable.

Yet, through it all I am trying hard to stay positive.

I have discovered aquafit classes and do them a couple times a week. Through doing these classes, I have also learned something wonderful. Little old ladies are amazing! A lot of the women I do class with are in their seventies and beyond. They are funny, they are thoughtful, and they have no shame about their bodies. It's very liberating to be in a room of women whose bodies have served them well and they are proud just to be there.

In all the issues I've faced over the past year, I've discovered something else I never knew.
I enjoy the company of other women and have learned a great deal from some amazing women thanks to one woman who has brought many of us together:  Crystal Andrus Morrisette. I won't go into a lot of detail about Crystal, but I will tell you she has a soothing voice and a wonderful way of looking at the world. In turn, she helps her students to look inward and learn more about how they appear and react in the world. I have been fortunate to take a couple telecourses with her and look forward to her January course as, hopefully, my life calms and the dust settles. I look forward to rebuilding my spirit and clearing the brush aside to find my life path once more.

Health-wise, I have a series of MRIs starting November 25th to see what is causing the debilitating pain in my right knee as well as my hips and spine. I see my rheumatologist in January to get answers. To find out what I am dealing with and what to do next, aside from changing medications. I want to be able to keep walking, with or without the meds at this point!

Writing-wise, my I am currently editing my 6th book for my agent and look forward to it's release in April 2016. I will also be working on 2 more books next year. Actually, I think a lot of great things will happen in 2016!

Whatever happens, I would love to continue to dance in the water with the lovely ladies at the pool.
I would love to will finally get that tattoo I designed years ago and have been too afraid to get because I never spent a lot of money on me.
I would love to will go back to school and learn the skills to help me help other women.
I would love to will move my kids and I to an apartment and seek to have a less stressful life.
I will keep writing and creating.
I will be more open to life and all it has to offer.
I will love me.
And I will learn the things I want to know and to show my kids that life goes on even when it feels like you're in a toilet bowl and swirling down fast...

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Round Robin Blog Fest November 2015

Welcome to another session of the Round Robin Blog Fest!  
Fall has settled in and the Santa Claus parades have begun here in Canada. I have my Christmas lights up and this is the time of year I seek, not only gift ideas for family and friends, but ways to make life better for others. This year for Christmas, a friend of mine is helping someone gather enough winter hats, mittens, and socks for a homeless shelter. That was my most recent act of kindness that made me feel good, despite a lot of challenges in my own life right now.

Ironically, today's blog them is:  Tell when you either performed or received a random act of kindness that made your day better.

Right away, I thought of the best one that we've ever performed that ended up making a world of difference to a neighbour.  My kids don't exactly love to shovel snow, but they do love to do good deeds for others - a lot of the time without taking any credit - and not once have they ever asked for money. When we had a particularly heavy snowfall a few years ago, they went around and shoveled sidewalks for a few neighbours they knew could not do the chore for themselves. One of the men had recent health issues and we took it upon ourselves to clear his driveway through the day while he and his wife were at work. 

Flash forward three months later. I ran into this man at the local grocery store. I hadn't seen him over the winter, but my kids were very much on his mind. He had a story to tell that made my eyes fill with tears.

That particular day the kids had shoveled his driveway, he was in the hospital an hour away. His wife had spent part of the morning with him, most of her day at work, then a good part of the evening back at the hospital. By the time she was on her way home, it was very late at night and she was dreading having to shovel the driveway to get into her garage. She came home to a clear driveway and immediately burst into tears. She went into the house and called her husband to ask "who would do such a thing?" He had two neighbours in mind, but was very sure he knew who had done the deed. Three months later, he was able to let us know what a wonderful impact that random act of kindness had on he and his wife.

We have shoveled their driveway many times over the years, but none of those times have meant as much to the kids and I as that one winter storm.

Let's grab a cup of tea and shake off the winter chill as we stop by to see what Skye Taylor's favorite random act of kindness was all about!

Our Writers:
Diane Bator
Skye Taylor
Fiona McGier
Bob Rich
Marci Baun
Connie Vines
Rachael Kosinski
Hollie Glover
Judy Copek
Anne Stenhouse
Rhobin Courtright

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween Round Robin Blog Fest October 24th

Happy Halloween!

This month's Round Robin Topic is:  Do you believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations? What do you think when they appear in stories? Have you used them in your own stories?

Wow! Hard to believe it's already that time of year again. Halloween is one of my favorites. Every year I am involved with a Haunted Dojo (basically a fun Haunted House, but built in a karate school) and get to meet and greet dozens of trick-or-treaters. I love the magic of the holiday as well as the way we are able to suspend all belief in the way things "should be" for "what is possible." Including how we are more willing to think about spirits, ghosts and demons, even for just a couple of days.

I used to love to read stories of the paranormal and have actually edited a couple. A well written book of any sort can get me to suspend all belief in reality. Something spooky and logically done, could totally convince me it is all real. I have read one or two that made me want to keep the lights on at night. One of which was written by my friend Richard Goodship called "The Camera Guy."

While I have never used ghosts or demons in any of my own stories, I am currently writing a cozy mystery with a psychic as one of the minor characters. Watch for "Life is Better Brunette" coming out in Spring 2016!

And now for my own ghost story....


My mother-in-law passed away in October 2013 a day before my kids and I were meeting up with family in Collingwood, Ontario. Since it was difficult for us to get away to attend Grandma's funeral 2,000 miles away, we held our own memorial on the shores of Lake Huron with Grandma's favorite Tim Horton's coffee and timbits (donut holes!) We also bought a bright green star balloon to release over the lake as we said our goodbyes. 

The kids and I made a circle, said our goodbyes and released the full-to-bursting helium balloon to the elements. To our surprise, it didn't sail off into the sky as we expected. Instead, the balloon sank to the ground and bobbed toward the highway. We all started to laugh and cry at the same time. Grandma had a notorious bad sense of direction as well as being a bit of a joker and it seemed she wanted to get in one last laugh. We all shouted to the balloon - and Grandma - that she was going the wrong way and needed to go up over the lake into the sky. No word of a lie, the balloon did a 180 degree turn and rose up over the lake then disappeared into the clouds.

We tried again the next year on Mother's Day to launch one more balloon in her honor. My youngest son clutched the balloon in his hands, the long ribbon tied so tight around his hand he nearly cut off circulation. As we walked from our home to our launch site, a gust of wind came up out of the blue and ripped the balloon off the ribbon and right out of his hands. He was nearly in tears as we watched the balloon sail off over the trees and into the sky. Then we burst out laughing. Grandma was never one for sitting around feeling sad. She would have preferred to go for an ice cream cone and make the best of things. 
Which is exactly what we did...

Have a wonderful, wonderous Halloween and make your way over to visit Beverley Bateman to see what she has stirred up on her creative cauldron!! Be sure to check out the rest of our amazing authors as well!

Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
A.J. Maguire
Fiona McGier
Heather Haven
Bob Rich
Anne Stenhouse
Helena Fairfax
Hollie Glover
Rachael Kosinski
Connie Vines
Skye Taylor
Rhobin Courtright

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Oh my! I have been away from my blog for a little while, but for a few good reasons.

I am hard at work on Book #3 of my Gilda Wright Mystery series:  Life is Better Brunette which is due to my agent in a couple of weeks. In this book, Gilda meets her match in the form of a psychic who worms her way into Kane Garrick's life. Is this psychic the real deal or is there more to her than meets the eye?

I have also have also been dealing with some health issues, one of which is being tested for arthritis in my back, hips, knees, and ankles. Not a fun thing to deal with, but once I have a proper diagnosis, I'll be able to deal with the pain and move forward. It may also mean a change of residence due to the abundance of stairs in my current home.

My oldest son moved out on his own this fall. Not to school this time, he's working and taking care of himself for real now. I'm very proud of him!

Of course, there will be many more changes and other things going on, but for now, I look forward to getting back on top of things this fall. To getting my new book out soon and to working on Book #4 of the Wild Blue Mystery series, The Painted Lady.

So much on the go!
Have a wonderful autumn,

Saturday, July 25, 2015

July 25th Round Robin Blog Fest

Welcome back to the Round Robin Blog Fest! How do you like our new logo? 

I sure hope you're enjoying the glory days of summer, I know I am! Before we get into the question of the month, I'd like to announce that there will be a new book in my Gilda Wright Mystery series coming November 1st. I am currently knee deep in writing Life is Better Brunette for Gemma Halliday Publishing. How exciting!

Now on to this month's topic:
Have you used pets or other animals in your stories? What function do they perform in the story? Do they need to have a function? Can they be a character?

Up until recently, I have rarely used an animal in any of my books or stories. In a new book I'm working on a book for Gemma Halliday Publishing as part of their Danger Cove series, my main character, Laken, finds an Old English Sheepdog puppy and takes it in without realizing the downside of owning a teething dog. Not only does Sammy become her sidekick since she can't leave him alone without coming back to mass destruction, but he is also her ally in solving a murder. 

In the novella Death of a Christmas Witch I did for Cozy Christmas Capers, an anthology released only during December and January this year, I had another dog. A Golden Retriever-Husky mix much like a dog I grew up with. Drake, the dog, had a love/hate relationship with my main character Audra's husband Rex. For me, Sammy will be a recurring character, as was Drake, but that doesn't need to be the case in all books.

My favorite animal books belong to Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who... series where the cats are major characters in crime solving capers. If you're looking for a great animal read, these are fabulous cozy mystery novels!
  1. The Cat Who... is a series of twenty-nine mystery novels and three related collections by Lilian Jackson Braun and published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, featuring a reporter named Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats, Kao K'o-Kung and Yum-Yum. Wikipedia
As far as being characters, I find the animals usually steal the scene they are in, Whether that's intentionally done by the author or just where my attention becomes fixated is debatable. But I do love a well written mystery with or without animals. Even Janet Evanovich uses animals in her books. Stephanie Plum has a hamster named Rex, a dog named Bob, and even ends up taking care of a monkey named Carl.

Look for more animals in my upcoming books and make sure you hop over to visit the fabulous Anne Stenhouse and see what she has to say regarding writing about animals. While you're at it, stop by and say hello to all our contributing authors:

Beverley Bateman
Victoria Chatham
Connie Vines
Margaret Fieland
Rachael Kosinski
Kay Sisk
Judith Copek
Marci Baun
Diane Bator
Anne Stenhouse
Rhobin Courtright

Skye Taylor