Writing a Sequel

The undertaking of writing the second instalment of False Hope is beginning to make me nervous.  I remember how time consuming and all-encompassing it was writing the first book and I’m beginning to feel bogged down.   I have one chapter completed with work starting on the second.  The struggle of carving out time to write characters and scenes and implement accents and plot points is difficult when summer weather decides to make an appearance.  The sun shines and I want to be outside, not locked in a room in the basement writing the next big adventure.  The rarity of sunshine makes it all the more important for me to head outside while it lasts.  Autumn is packing its bags getting ready to move in and wave summer off into the grand abyss where the seasons-that-barely-happened go to die.   Before I know it, I’ll be welcoming students back for another year, scheduling tests and skipping lunches in favour of one more hour for testing.   I’m fearful my penchant to procrastinate will overtake me and I’ll finish Book Two around the same time any grandchildren I’ve been promised have graduated high school.  

I’m ever-aware of my tendency to simply give-up or to throw my hands up in the air and proclaim it all a bit too much before I’ve even given it my best shot. I managed to stay focused and finish the first round and I’m hoping my determination will see me through to the next.  I have big plans for Claire and Jimmy in Book Two and I’m hoping it will all come to fruition.  They may even run into some old friends from False Hope.  (That was a hint, by the way in case you missed it.)  

My notes are gathering in the purple notebook I used for the False Hope.  I’ll simply keep it moving with more notes chapter-by-chapter and flesh out some new characters I have in mind.  I always change around chapters and events according to how things logistically work out.  For example, in False Hope Julien was supposed to be accused of nefarious activities with the women he was photographing.  If you notice in the book, there are references to a rapist running around loose in town and even a dark hooded stranger bumping into Julien when he was standing outside the office building where Ashley worked.  That incident was initially a set-up to a much larger sub-plot.  I backed down at the last minute not wanting Julien to undergo any further scrutiny and bias from his colleagues.  He had enough on his plate.  

My work continues on Book Two and I hope my characters move forward with their lives, but not everything can go easily for them in their new circumstances.  I’ll try to keep the momentum going through bouts of soaking up the intermittent sunshine and my tendency to walk away.

 I’ll keep you posted on the progress and maybe drop a few more hints along the way, like Jimmy Feherty.  He’s an Irishman straight from Belfast with eyes only for Claire.  Or so he says….

 

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Dinner With February

Christmas is over and packed away.  January is winding down and the dreaded month of February is rearing its ugly head.  NO ONE likes February.  There is nothing magical or lovely about it.  Oh sure, there’s Valentine’s Day but that’s brief and fleeting and overly annoying.  February is fraught with unpredictable weather (at least here) and blue moods, and muddy porches and dirty windows and bone chilling cold.  What exactly is there to like?  Even the dog can’t stand February.  It’s too cold to go outside to pee, she is cranky that she can’t get in her walks and she gives me that sidelong look when I try to get her to play.  At all.  It’s like she’s too tired to even lift her head from a pillow and why would I even suggest she chase that stupid ball?!  

DON’T YOU KNOW IT’S ALMOST FEBRUARY?!  

It’s like I’m being ridiculous for even mentioning life goes on and it’s worth trying to make the best of it, isn’t it?  

NO. NO IT ISN’T.  IT’S FEBRUARY.

The least favourite of the more popular months, February is like the annoying relative that nobody likes and dreads him arriving to any family gathering.  It’s like the other 11 months are sitting around the dinner table all reveling in their own positive energy, and then HE walks in. 

 There’s December holidaying it up and drinking eggnog.  January is still recovering from ringing in a new year with December who steadily hands him water and Ibuprofen, not to mention January trying to keep up with all the resolutions he said he was going to make, but didn’t bother because there was just. Too. Much. Wine.  March is sitting stoicly playing with his grean beans because he is both feared and loved.  The older generation is adhering to the “Beware the Ides of March” bullshit and the younger ones are readying the beer kegs for March break.  Duuudddde.   Then April is laughing hysterically at the other end of the table about the first day for all the foolish pranks, the rain that will undoubtedly ensue and the whole Easter Bunny charade that brings CHOCOLATE.  Then he turns to May and starts talking smack about how one affects the other.  “There would be no flowers without my showers, you idiotic twat!”   May sits and laughs because there’s Queen Victoria’s birthday and the traditional May 2-4 weekend which brings yetanother camping extravaganza.  Duuuude.  June is warming up to July and August who all sit glowing in their inner warmth and bestowing happiness and rainbows to September, who has hit menopause.  Her hot flashes give way to cold snaps.  One minute she’s too hot and the next she needs a sweater.  October is chillin’ it and scaring the crap out of November with a Jack-o’-lantern he just carved and November resumes her knitting of a beautifully multi-coloured blanket of red, gold and orange.   There they are, all sitting waiting for HIM to walk in.  Finally, the door swings open and in strides February, soaked with freezing icicles dripping from his nose, his face blue with depression and a random red cinnamon heart stuck to his chest.  He takes a seat and his hands shake from the cold.  

Everyone stops what they are doing and stares.  “Oh.  You’re here” they say.  “Yeah.  What’s for dinner?” says February.  And then he starts, “Hey, January are you STILL hungover?!  HAHAHA!!   Pass the beans, March, don’t hog them.  Hey, October that’s one ugly whattya-callit?  Geezuz, JuneJulyAugust, can’t you three stop all the happiness and sunshine and rainbows bullshit?!   IT’S A BIT MUCH DON’T YOU THINK?”  

They all roll their eyes and continue with their dinner.  When it comes right down to it, as annoying as he is, he’s family.  “Gaawwwdd, did you guys SEE the amount of ICE I brought to the partay??!!  It’s EPIC!”  

All I Need For Christmas Is A Goblet of Wine and A Comfy Pillow

 

Christmas is around the corner and the anxiety and stress has hit full frontal without even the tiniest iota of grace.  All the joy and heavenly peace of the season flies out the window when shopping and baking and cleaning and wrapping takes precedence.  I’ve decided to not give two fucks and buy stuff that they ‘better absolutely love with the totality of their beings’ and not hear ‘any itty bitty words of shit’ on Christmas Day, or my life as a parent and woman of quiet dignity and strength would be shattered along with my mimosa glass.   Be warned, adults of mine.  

I think the more-than-fifty-year-old me, has taken the whole meaning of peace and love at Christmas to mean it better be peaceful and lovely around ME.  All of the damned time.  Mags has even gotten fed up with humanity and taken to growling at the air. I hear ya, girl.  She’s middle-aged, too so I’m thinking we are now miserable together.  Nice to have company.  Growling at the air has its merits.  The adults decide you have had enough stress for one day and pat you on the head and put you on a comfy pillow. They wrap you in a cozy blanket by the fire and sit silently beside you while you close your eyes.  Or, they back away and leave you to yourself.  If it was me, wrap me up, pour the wine and walk away.    Next time I’m feeling overwhelmed, I’ll be more like Mags and growl at the air.  I’m thinking an ambulance would be called and people will be asking if I need any medication.  Yes.  Yes please.  Or maybe, just some chocolate?  Wine?   A little Aretha Franklin singing Natural Woman?  Any and all of these things.

Clearly, a little breather during this hectic time of year is warranted. Hence, I have exercise classes where Coach dances and demands we bow to her will during fast feet (ugh).  Then there’s binge drinking Saturday nights and I-Don’t-Give-A-Shit-Fridays which entitles one to eat chips and chocolate chip cookies simultaneously, whilst binge watching crappy Christmas movies on the W channel. I do believe these are actual days on the calendar during this time of year.  Look it up.    I FUCKING LOVE CHRISTMAS!!

So, for all of you pre-stressed and already stressed anxiety-ridden folks who just want A LITTLE PEACE AND QUIET IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!  I give you a celebratory toast from my goblet of wine and happily share my chips and cookies with you.  May you go forward with kindness in your hearts, wine in your glass and crappy Christmas movies on the TV to numb the nerves.   Oh, and try intermittently growling, if for nothing else but to make them all think twice about asking to be driven downtown or looking for dinner.    

ITS CHRISTMAS DAMMIT!  ENJOY! 

*GRRRRR…*

Fall Feels

September winds are on the way.  Summer weather is hanging around like a bad house guest who refuses to leave.  Pretty soon we’ll be packing the suitcases and hastily pushing them onto the front porch, the awkward goodbyes impetuously tossed around like a kid’s unfinished homework.  It was good while it lasted, but for Fallies like me, it’s time to move on to the chilliness, pumpkins and spooks; AKA, THE BEST TIME OF YEAR EVAH.

I love autumn like Mags loves her donuts; fallen onto my lap and gobbled up with feverish joy.  The leaves turning colour, the frosty mornings and chilly afternoon sunshine.  Early fires and warm coffee with a good book.  Warm socks, cozy sweaters and candles lit with vanilla or cinnamon scent.  This is the time of year I start the bread making, D1’s birthday, a new school year with challenges and the preparation for Christmas ( I know, I hear you groan).  This year, D2 will be coming home after 4 months away and only 2 months left to go in her training.  IT’S GOING TO BE AN EPIC CHRISTMAS.  She’ll be squished so much, she’ll be begging to go back to the -40 degree temps and desolation of Regina.

The family unit is changing with thoughts of both daughters moving onwards and upwards and the boy starting his second year of Uni peering down the tunnel of med school, career and ultimate move to parts unknown.   We’re holding on to the last of the full nest, pondering the future of where they’ll be and where we will end up.  It’s a bit daunting, but the natural progression is unstoppable.  That train left the station once that new pink fat baby was placed in our arms and we dedicated ourselves to securing her future.

Now, three fat babies later, we have to let them all go.  We would rather it be a progression of one at a time, but like a sticky bandage, maybe its better it be ripped off all at once.  Maybe it’ll be less painful if all three decided to leave home en masse instead of one at a time.

Or not.

The boy will be home for the duration of Uni, so that guarantees me another three years.  Yay!  D1 has one foot out the door with the collecting of “things I’ll need when I move out”.  Huh.  Am I supposed to help her with that?  I think I’ve been suggesting dishes and pots and pans, instead of the marble coaster set and random pink throw she bought, but she looks at me like I have three heads.  I’ve clearly failed her as a mother.  “I CAN’T COOK”  Ugh.  My reply:  “LEARN. RACHEL RAY IS ON TV FOR A REASON”    “Okay, Mom.”  Of course then I regrettably say things like “Maybe you’ll get a nice boyfriend who can cook for you, then you’ll NEED nice pots and pans.”     She looks at me like this:

Ain’t parenting grand?!

As I hungrily await the first fallen leaf, the first bite of air, and the first murmur of “I’M NEVER COOKING MEAT.  EVER.”, I remain ever steadfast in my belief that I am one of the lucky ones.  The parent that GETS to see her children grow up and move on; I am one of the privileged ones that is allowed to see my fat pink babies have careers and be employed and be secure in their development.  I am ever aware of the unique honour it is to have the opportunity to be here for our children as they become adults, help them move out, and say things like “Gee, that handsome Cardiologist is single…”

And I am eternally grateful for it all…

Friday, Fall and Garden Gnome Gary

Friday is finally here and the rejoicing has begun. Even the dog is happy….for a change. The sun has finally appeared and all seems to be almost right with the world. Now if we can only get the world to cooperate.Fall is knocking on my front door and I’m thinking I should get my ass in gear this year to be ready for a festive season, unlike previous years where I bought a pumpkin the day of Halloween and made the kids carve it after school. It was an interesting looking pumpkin. Sort of like Quasimodo meets Mickey Mouse.  

This year, I should be preparing early for Halloween by making up some treat bags that have actual treats in them and not pencils or small ghoul-shaped erasers or left over Froot Loops…what? Desperate times….

Or, find some pumpkins and paint them freaky colours so my neighbours think I actually do something besides throw a random pumpkin on the front step and take a sharpie and draw on a weird-ass awkward smile…then blame the kids for not being ‘motivated with the spirit of Halloween’. Damned kids.

I’m thinking of scoping out a local field and thieving a hay stack to throw on my front porch. A) Field? B) Will a haystack fit in my Corolla? I should have asked that ever important question when I bought the car. Note to self, ask next time.

My garden gnome Gary has been hanging out in the front garden all summer. I found him toppled over face first in the dirt. Poor Gary. I stood him upright and vowed to include him in my fall-planning. I’m thinking I could make him more fall-like if I hide him inside a plastic skull and sharpie on some fake blood. He could become Ghoulish Gary by Halloween. I bet I’ll start a trend and the ‘hood will be filled with blood-stained garden gnomes strewn all over front porches…It’ll be like the Walking Dead only we could call it the March of the Garish Gnomes….WHO’S WITH ME??!!  

I love getting out the scented candles and lighting them on crisp fall evenings…yes, I just took that from a Good Housekeeping magazine. HAHAHAHA. So cute. The rest of us just throw on the washing machine and hope the fabric softener makes the house smell clean.  

There are so many DIY sites with awesome ideas for fall decorating, that I should check them out. Or not. I’ll see if any include Sharpies and colouring garden gnomes, otherwise I’m out.

My biggest tip to get ready for fall is stock up on that wine before we have another wine shortage crises and the world comes crashing down around our feet and we have to actually think of something creative to do with our time. Pffft…STOP ME NOW BEFORE I GO TO MICHAELS AND SUCCUMB TO THE SMELL OF THE CRAFT PAINT.

OH THE HUMANITY…..    

 

 

The Fall of Summer

The_Shining_Sun_by_edsousa

Summer is coming to a close and I can’t help but feel a little sad.  It seemed so fleeting, so brief a season.  I can’t seem to remember long days or hot evenings. (Probably because they were few and far between)  I hate the thoughts of putting away the outdoor furniture and my pretty colourful cushions that adorn my porch chairs.  My flowers are dying at the front garden and the strawberries have all been picked and eaten.  I’m starting to eye my sweaters and long pants and the search for matching socks has taken on a desperate tone.  The kids in the ‘hood are getting ready for the whole back to school thing and that means at work I’m going to be flat out running around busy with exams and shattered nerves right up until Christmas break.

There are also changes around the house.  The kid will be starting Uni, the two girls are working full-time jobs and Hubby is going back to work.  Will there be any reprieve from the busy-ness of the fall?

I am looking forward to warm fires and homemade bread.  Spice candles and trick-or-treaters.  Colourful leaves and bright frosty mornings.

I’ll miss the easy-ness of summer.  The slow moving work schedule, the comfort of getting home a little earlier and walks around the lake in the warmth.  The barbeques and days we could sit out with a few drinks with friends.  The days I could run in the sun or rain and not worry about catching a death of a cold or slipping on icy asphalt.

I lamented a few days ago about the beach and how I thought becoming an alcoholic beach bum seemed a perfect fit and to some degree, heading to the warmth and sunshine still greatly appeals to me.  But there is something to be said for the change of seasons.  A new beginning, a new endeavor, a shift of consciousness from easy to busy, from warm to cool, from ending a project to looking forward to the start of a new one.  To keep motivated and always looking ahead to the next big adventure or the next little task is what keeps life from getting too mundane.  The change of seasons brings with it another chance at regaining some perspective, or beginning something new or moving around something that just wasn’t working.  Taking stock and reviewing the ending season allows for ample room to implement some new plan or goal for the future.

Take the opportunity to look forward to the changes that lie ahead with another season and set a challenge.

A little step outside the box can make a big difference in one’s perspective.

Deep Breaths And Wine

The vacation planning and the ongoing struggle to remain a human being whilst juggling the tedious, yet ever-so-important mundane task of breathing is getting exhausting.  
If you just read that SENTENCE and you aren’t fainting from the mere lengthy run-on-edness, then yay for you! You have more stamina than most folks who checked out after ‘the’.  

I know, “vacation planning…Ooooh so sucky to be you right now”, but wait! I’m a let’s-stay-at-home-and-find-something-interesting-to-do-around-here-that-doesn’t-involve-lenghty-lines-and-blistered-feet-and-quotes-of-GAWDIDON’TKNOWWHEREIAMRIGHTNOW!-kinda girl. I love to go away at the beach, etc. but SOME people get so worked up a week before we go, it’s like dancing around a campfire in a drunken stupor knowing at some point you are going to go headfirst into those flames and it ain’t going to be pretty. And nobody wants to see that go down.

Vacation planning sucks. That’s what I’m saying.

It’s all good once the vacay has commenced, but this week is fraught with anxiety and hand wringing and exclamations of “WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE DON’T HAVE THAT BOOKED?!” Gawd, don’t have a cow, it’s not like there are NO HOTELS ANYWHERE IN TORONTO. Or…where are we going, again?  

Yeah, it’s like that.

I should heed advice and not get so upset when SOMEBODY rips my head off because THERE ARE NO GRAPES IN THE HOUSE. WHO KEEPS EATING ALL OF THE GRAPES?! Because, obviously the secret minions of grape-land come in late at night and eat all the friggin’ grapes and it’s really not the grapes that SOMEBODY is upset about, but the getting on the plane and hoping there was nothing forgotten and hope we have enough money for that and let’s not lose the kid this time or fall down and almost break your face, remember that?  

Yeah. Good times.

Truly a hard go at this stage in the game, and with the whole WRITING OF THE EXAM, THE SEQUEL going on, it’s a little testy around these parts.  

I’m basically trying to keep my head on straight and secretly ordering batches of wine to be delivered to my room once we get to the sunny south so I can drink away the voices in my head still screaming DID YOU REMEMBER TO BRING THE PAPERWORK AND YOUR STURDY NO SLIP SHOES?!  

Fuck.