A Sneak Peek

I’ve been inundating the internet with graphics of quotes from my book, False Hope. Below, is another I created to give a sense of Ashley’s thoughts on death, grief and hope. I’ve also given a brief summary of the book. Enjoy!

Ashley Wells is a young woman making her way in Toronto. A new job at a small law firm propels her into a romantic relationship with Jax Fuller, a handsome young intern destined to be her biggest mistake. As their bond deepens, Ashley can’t help but think Jax is hiding his true self. As she navigates through the deception, betrayal and grief she discovers the truth about her lover and the dangerous game he is playing. She becomes embroiled in a fight against a crime boss determined to stop at nothing even if it costs the lives of those she loves,. Ashley summons her courage to fight for justice, and in doing so, confronts the limits of the human spirit. In her final testament of love, Ashley forfeits the life she had for one filled with an uncertain path and an undiscovered landscape.

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The Puppet Master

I’ll be posting some quotes from my upcoming Romantic fiction, False Hope due to be released in a week.

Ashley is the protagonist struggling through the journey of young adulthood marred by love and danger.

Stay tuned for more quotes and updates!

Romancing The Work

I just finished work on my first romantic fiction piece.  It took me over a year to write and my days were fraught with doubt, indecision, and wine.  I wrote the original manuscript over twenty-years ago.  At that time, I had pitched it to publishers, agents and to whoever I could find.  After the onslaught of rejection letters arrived, I decided to put it away.  I felt it was destined for the great slush pile in the sky.

Fast forward twenty years and that manuscript sat there daring me to open it and take a peek.  So I did.  The bones were still good, but the story and the characters needed work.  I needed better dialogue and a better plot.  I opened my ten-year-old laptop and started typing.  I bought a book on how to write a novel.  I researched websites on how to write a good romance.  I bought a fresh notebook and wrote character outlines, plot structures, subplots, point of views, dialogue and pretty much anything that popped into my head.

I kept a running recipe card summarizing each chapter so I could remember details of characters like birthdates, hair color, eye color, traits, jobs, families, and backstories.  I kept pictures of my old apartment in the back of the notebook so I could take it out and look at it remembering it in detail.  It is the inspiration for Ashley’s apartment in the book, right down to the weather-beaten picnic table and it was fun to relive that time through a character’s eyes.

I took the pile of rejection letters and went through them.  Again.  I researched how to write dialogue.  I researched plots and pacing.  I wrote and rewrote chapters.  I sat in my basement and isolated myself from everyone, who still insisted they needed to see what I was doing.  I took my ten-pound laptop to work and wrote outlines on my lunch break.  I rewrote the chapters at home in the evening.  I read and wrote for months.  Then I stopped.

I left the project for three months.  I’m not sure why.  By the fall, I was ready to tackle it again and began.  Again.  It took me until June to finish what I started. 

But I finished.

And I’m happy I didn’t give up.  I’m happy I didn’t listen to that voice telling me to put it away.  The voice that said it was too hard and complicated and no one would read it.  I’m happy the rejection letters sat in my file daring me to try again because, without all of that negative “I-knew-you-couldn’t-do-it” attitude, I proved them wrong.

My decision to self-publish was born from the above-noted rejection letters.  I didn’t think I was as bad as all of these lovely publishers and agents thought I was.   I am determined to get this book out into the world by the end of this month and I can’t wait.

Wading through all of the self-publishing advice and webinars and blogs can be tedious.  I picked one person who sounded knowledgeable and listened to his advice.  Some of it I used, and some I threw aside.  Not everything is written in stone.

I just want to publish a book.  Simple. 

Apparently, not.

There’s designing a cover and editing your work.  Selecting a platform and uploading files.  Formatting, ISBN numbers, social media, marketing, and the list goes on.

Tackle one thing at a time.  I started months ago researching book cover design.

I created a cover for the book using a free online service.  I just couldn’t find a resource or a designer that fit what I had in mind.  I used the suggestions I found online.  I researched the most appealing colors and the most attractive fonts.  I went through stock photos and templates.  I wasn’t liking anything I saw.  I stuck to my original plan and with a new YouTube vid in my mind, I designed what I wanted. 

 Through happenstance, my cover came to life.  I love it.

It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed every step of the process.  I’m now working on the outline for Book 2 and have ideas for the third.   I’m taking my time and I will publish when I feel I have everything set and ready to go. 

If you are working on your first novel, keep going.  You’ll want to give up and throw the laptop out of the window but resist.  Drink the wine and take a walk.  Then go back to it.  The journey in writing the book is the most fun. 

You’ll find there are no better words than “The End” staring back at you.

A Little Hope

These past few months, I’ve been working on my first romantic fiction novel titled, False Hope.©  It’s been a long haul and I’m still writing and I hope to be finished soon.  I’m to the point now where I’m cluing up the last few chapters.  Below is the final passage that is written from my protagonist’s point of view regarding death and loss.  I thought it was especially true and wanted to share it.  Here it is….

  I came to view the emotional tumult of death similar to that of travelling through a tunnel.   My life prior to entering the tunnel as opposed to my life after having walked through it.  My life before the tunnel was full of youthful energy and hope for the future.  I had a new job, good friends and much to look forward to;  then without warning I lost her.  Midway through the tunnel,  I didn’t think I would ever recover from the devastation and despair.  I crawled my way grasping to anything that remotely made sense to me.  It was dark and rank and I knew I had to keep going, but the struggle was so mired in confusion and pain, it was exhausting.  And then I woke up.  After walking through all of the sorrow and grief and loss,  I felt a change within me.  I emerged from the tunnel different than when I had entered.  Things appeared clearer, my understanding of the world around me was renewed and I felt empowered.  I had conquered the most overwhelming loss and yet, I was still standing.  I was still breathing.  It was miraculous to me that after having my guts kicked in by her death, I ceased being doubled over in agony.  It had passed.  It had evolved into an everlasting ache, more than a sharp acute stab.  I could live with that.  The choice to move forward was as much in my power as I willed it to be.  I could have chosen to wither and wallow in self-pity and hide myself from the world, but that would not have been living.  That would have merely been existing and was that any way to honour someone who had died?  By simply throwing myself on the mercy of the earth and grovel away my life, instead of making it count for something?   My choice to stand and move forward was as much for selfish reasons as opposed to anything close to altruistic.  I refused to concern myself with how others viewed my departure from grief and instead focused on how to live with the loss.  It wasn’t going away, there was nowhere for the empty space that was once occupied by a living breathing person to go.  It simply did not get refilled with something or someone else.  It continued to be empty.  It followed me around and became a part of me.  This empty space attached to my leg or my arm or my heart continues be a part of who I am.  Yes, death changed me.  But so did hope.  Hope in its finest form gave me the chance to move forward.  The hope for a better tomorrow, the hope I could find love, the hope I would feel like a whole human being again pushed me to live my life; to re-enter the world with the perspective that I had the power to change what may lie in wait for me.  Good or bad, wrong or right, truth or lie I hoped for more for myself.  Whether that hope was true or false it was worth holding tight to my chest.                                                                                                                                                         -Ashley, False Hope© 2019

Top Ten List of Shit You Don’t Want to Know When Turning Fifty

A friend asked the other day for any useful tips for turning fifty.  I struggled with ‘tips’ as I was unsure as to what infinite wisdom I could bestow.  I’ve been fifty for a few years now and I have some advice, warnings and ‘ohmygawdwatchoutforthisshit’, but not exactly the ‘tips’ I think she was looking for.  In any case, in honour of all of those young ladies turning fifty, here is my Top Ten List of Shit You Don’t Want to Know When Turning Fifty. 

 You. Are. Welcome.

And Happy Birthday!

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10.  You lose interest in everything except yoga pants, wine and food-  Okay, maybe that blanket statement goes too far.  You lose MOST of the interest you had in leaving the house.  I started wanting to spend more time drinking in my yoga pants than going out or doing something that required me to wear pants or an ‘outfit’.  I still enjoy going out, but I really have to want it.

9.  Impatience is the new virtue since you don’t have time for shit, don’t give a shit and basically you can’t put up with anyone’s shit. True.  My patience is waning for whiners and folks who like to complain simply to hear themselves talk.  NO. TIME.

8.  Crashing Fatigue is actually a ‘thing’ and when it hits, it’s difficult to snap out of it-  You feel exhausted every day all day and you just want to crawl into bed and stay there. It will pass, but you have to summon up some patience.  It usually lasts a few days and I get through it by telling Hubby I’m on strike of mother duties due to the polar vortex and incessant winter.  Even if it’s summer, I can say I’ll be tired for the next few days so just let me be the best version of Greta Garbo and I vant to be alone…. Trust that this is simply an ‘episode’ and it WILL pass.  It IS an actual part of the Big M, so take it day by day.

7.  Opposite of Crashing Fatigue, comes Insomnia AKA Your Brain On Menopausal Meth- Sleep is a distant thing and you stay awake with songs blaring in your brain, a to-do list of epic proportions, the mistakes you made on the Grade 6 Spelling Bee and how you’ve clearly failed as a parent because your child can’t boil and egg. You start to panic realizing you haven’t accomplished ANYTHING and your life has been one big waste of time. Up you get from your bed, start writing out a bucket list of stuff that you WILL NEVER DO because you don’t have boatloads of cash and your Fairy God Mother is on vacation.  Breathe.  This too shall pass…but still write the list because you’ll need something to make you laugh later that day when the Migraine Auras start.  Oh, I didn’t tell you about that, yet?

6.  Migraine Auras are fucktastic – No, you are not having a stroke. You don’t have a brain tumour.  You are having Auras.  Little bits of psychedelic lights dancing in your eyes like you’ve been staring at the sun too long.  They flash, they dance and are squiggly lines pulsing and moving.  It’s a part of having a Migraine.  I don’t actually get the blinding headache pain with migraines, just the auras, but some people get both.  After fifty, you can experience these auras a little bit more frequently.  Awesome.   They usually disappear within 30 minutes with my eyes closed and laying down.  That’s after having a few nights of no sleep thanks to #7.  See how this works?  Fun.  Times.  *having said that, make sure to get your blood work done regularly so you can keep your levels in check.  Your chances of stroke, heart disease and diabetes rise as you age. Know the signs of a stroke so you can differentiate between the two.  If you have any doubts, get thee to a doctor.   Stay healthy.

5.  Breakouts vs Wrinkles, the Epic Battle of your Skin – Around the time when my period used to occur, my body still thought I should endure the effects of one. My skin continues to break out like I’m seventeen, I get all that crampy-bloated-wonderfulness of a tween and I’m crankier more than usual.  AND, I’m over fifty so the fight against aging or simply looking older than I should, is an ongoing battle.  I’m not thinking I should look twenty, because I’m not.  I just don’t want to look ninety, either.  I went on this epic fact finding mission to discover the basic ingredients for fighting wrinkles.  I found a few things:  Serums – I like them and use them daily.  They go on first, then a moisturizer.  Vitamin C and E are your friends.  Vitamin C helps with brightening and tone, Vitamin E helps with repairing the wrinkles and I use that one at night.  Hyaluronic acid plumps up your skin.  Retinol fights wrinkles.  Glycolic Acid exfoliates.  Those are the basics.  I don’t buy anything expensive.  I use all-natural as much as possible.  You really don’t need to buy expensive creams to look good.  Use something that you like and stick with it.

4.  You need a hobby – seriously, you have dedicated your time, energy and talents to work and raising a family. Now, take some time and develop something else.  Do something out of your comfort zone or find your creativity.  Paint, write, run, walk, volunteer, sand-down the outside steps…it doesn’t have to be wowtastic, just something you enjoy.  You need time for you to develop your own interests and hidden talents so you don’t go batty.  It’s healthy for you to be busy and enjoy something other than work/kid/husband/partner related.

3.  Brain fog – I’ve noticed that I can’t remember as much as I used to. My short term memory decides to take periodic vacations.  I can’t keep the kids’ schedules straight in my head and I incessantly ask what they are doing every day.   I’ve decided to practice using my brain more.  Crossword puzzles, games with reasoning, reading something other than newspapers or online content and writing are all keeping my brain active and engaged.  Something TV does not do.  Turn off the tv and do something else for your brain.

2.  Exercise- Oh, come on you knew that was coming. Weight training and aerobic exercise are important to keeping you feeling and looking younger.  Weight training builds muscle, and helps your joints.  Aerobic exercise keeps that heart pumping.  Do both.  You’ll feel better.  It may help with #7 and #8 as well.  Kinda.

1. The Fashion Industry Sucks at dressing us – We either end up looking like a wannabe-twenty-something, or like Dorothy’s Auntie Em. It’s disgusting, really.  I don’t do elastic waist band pants and I don’t like being called ma’am.  I also can’t wear a dress up to my bum and a v-neck down to my naval.  Trust me NOBODY WANTS TO SEE THAT.   Finding age-appropriate comfortable clothing is challenging, but I always manage to find something.  I drag daughters with me and find some stuff at Winners on a good day.  Sometimes, online is the best bet, but you are taking a chance on sizing and fit.  It’s a trial and error thing, but know that you are not alone.  That’s why yoga pants will always be in style.

BONUS:  Key to staying young is a positive attitude and finding your tribe.  Having friends and a good support system is vital at any age, especially when journeying through a transition.   Getting through the hard days will be sweeter with some good friends and some hearty laughter.

Enjoy the journey!  xo

Conquering ‘Hoods

I don’t know when it happened.  When the kids grew up and I am now faced with retirement ads that I actually watch.  When we look at the house and say ‘we need to fix this before we move’ or when we look around at the now adults who we once carted and snuggled and fed and loved; who needed bed times and naps; who needed rocking to sleep and lessons in ‘appropriate songs to sing in public’; who were once my babies but somehow morphed into adults, and I hear myself say ‘when y’all fixin’ to move out?’  like I’m suddenly southern and drink lemonade in a rocker on the front porch.  I’ve been so busy raising kids and cleaning houses and buying groceries and making dinners and trekking kids to this and that, then driving lessons and graduations and convocations and first jobs and first dates and first car accidents and first hangovers and generally, just living, that  I missed when I grew up.  I missed my journey into full-fledged adulthood, motherhood and womanhood.  Generally, all of the ‘hoods.  How did that happen?

I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment of ‘missing’ my growth.  It happened when I wasn’t looking.  When I was distracted by a ten pound baby careening out of my vagina.  And by ‘careening’ I mean taking his sweet ass time because who doesn’t love being in labour for fifteen ungodly hours followed by hearing the words “You’ll feel a little discomfort” (HAHAHAHA)   and then seeing a wall of onlookers oohing and ahhing.  Ahh, childbirth.  And that was the last time I did THAT.

I wouldn’t change it.  The three labours.  The three births.  The three babies that are now trying to find their ways into the world and stumbling every now and then.  I’m not missing their journeys into their ‘hoods…I’m paying attention to theirs.  I’ve just been absent in consciousness for mine. 

I look at the pictures and see the outward changes.  The weight gain, then loss, then gain.  The progression of one baby, then another baby and then the last chunky kid who threw Cheerios on the floor in great bunches.  The relocations.  The new friends.  The old friends.  The new neighbourhood.  The hair gets lighter, then lighter then *gasp* grey!  The glory of discovering ‘the perfect shade of red’….

Maybe I haven’t missed my growing up, but have simply participated in less mindful way.  That’s a new term I’m learning.  Mindfulness.  Maybe I haven’t been so much AWARE of my growth, as I have actually grown.  That could be it.  I must have matured and grown emotionally after all of these twenty five years of being Mommy, Mom, Maaaaaammmmmm!!!   It isn’t possible to stay stagnant without some semblance of inward enlightenment from all of the nights of illness, worry, fights, battles and dolls thrown down the hall in outward defiance of ‘get to your room’.  (That was D1 in all of her 7 year old will) There has to be some sage, some wisdom from raising three children while working and staying married.  There has to be something other than grey hair and osteoarthritis awarded for all of this middle-agedness.  For all of this Motherdom.  Wifedom.  Womandom. 

Please tell me, there is.  

There must be some spec of intelligent advice, some all-out magical power that is awarded to us moms, dads and upbringersof the generations that carries us to that moment in our lives when we fold our hands on our laps and say ‘we did it’.  

What if I’m at that moment?  What if I’m there now and I don’t know it?  What if I’m missing it? That would be a tragedy.  

I don’t think I am.  There yet, I mean.  I’m hoping in a new mindful way, I can acknowledge when I’ve reached the point where I can say I truly feel grown up enough.  Grown up enough to say that I’ve done everything I’m supposed to do.  Grown up enough to let go of those babies and watch them move on without the dramatic doll-throwing.  Grown up enough to take ma damn lemonade and sit on the porch in my rocking chair, saying ‘have a nice day, y’all.’    

Until then, I’ll just be over here while you conquer your ‘hoods.  I’m not quite finished conquering mine.  I’m still growing up.  

 

Falling for Spring

March breezes are upon us with the promise of Spring.  It’s so close, I almost believe in its careless whispers and its falsepromises of sunshine, trees with sprouts of green buds and the ground giving birth to colourful tulips.  Then I walk outside and I am almost blown to my knees from hurricane force windswhile wrapped in a one hundred pound down filled parka with mittens and boots cemented to my appendages.  Spring!  Let me make it through winter without frost bite, or hospitalizations from injuries sustained in slippages or needing to be thawed by an open flame for hours.  

It’s a little much and I’m tired.  I want to go outside and feel the sun. Instead, I’m still waiting for some semblance of warmth.  Some sign from the Weather Gods that I am not just waiting for nothing.  That they’re not up in the sky looking down at me laughing at me for even THINKING about Spring while they plan the next ice extravaganza.  “Hey, Thor.  Throw that hammer on THIS THREE FEET THICK SHEET OF ICE!  The humans will be SO SCREWED! HAHAHAHA!”

Ice is terrifying for me and my reasons should be very self-explanatory.  The whole fall-down-on-my-arse thing.  Or the dreaded Face-Plant of 2012, the Sequel.  The slip in Toronto a week ago.   It could happen even without the presence of slippery-when-wet or when-icy conditions.   Gravity is not my friend.  THE MINUTE I think spring could be wrapping me in warmth, I dare to be too brave and saunter outside without grippy boots and immediately fall on my ass.  It’s a given.  I need a bodyguard or five to walk me gently down the driveway to my car, then gently down the stairs from the parking lot to the door of my work.  I need them to repeat this exercise from October right up until July.  Or maybe I could get my hands on a hover board and hover my way to EVERYWHERE during the winter.  THAT WOULD BE AWESOME.

Who has a hover board they’re not currently using??  Is that even a thing?

I need to research this.  It could be my answer to NEVER FALLING AGAIN.  I could market it like the Acorn Stair Lift for old people.   HOVER YOUR WAY TO EVERYWHERE.   

DON’T WALK.  HOVER.

DON’T FALL EVER AGAIN. 

Wow.  The possibilities are endless!  

Wait…is there balance involved in these hover boards?  ‘Causethat may be the Dragon’s Den rejection of the year if I have to actually use balance to operate it.  

I need to research this and get back.  My solution may have fallen into the abyss of Bad Ideas not to be resurrected anytime soon.  

I could be back to just plain old walking and hoping I don’t fall.  That’s okay, since that’s what I’ve been doing forever, but it would be nice to have an alternate solution that looks way cooler than a scooter or moped thingy. Or ending up looking like I volunteered to spar with Rocky sans protective gear.  

And cooler than being called Jay Leno.  

Friends…. emmiright?!    

My future…