Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer's Over - Fall is Near

It's been a long hot, busy summer. When I wasn't busy working outside the home, I was busy with my family at home. New places of employment for many in my house prevented us from going anywhere, but that's okay - it just meant I could explore and enjoy where I live! Although my writing suffered a tad, other goals were met like publishing a much-loved story of mine, Street Notes (Opal Moon Press). I'm so thrilled and honored to have my book as part of this new line of young adult fiction!

Sadly the hot, dry summer months in these parts brought record-breaking, tragic wildfires around our province. Perspective is always being thrown back at me reminding me to always remember to make the most of what we have during the time we have. Although over the course of a few weeks we were covered in wildfire smoke and ash, there were a few weeks I was able to get out with my camera and enjoy some sun - I'm a lucky girl. Despite how extremely busy I was, I swam in the local lakes, practiced archery, read when I could, and focused on my family. I guess this is me writing a condensed first-week-of-school 'What I Did Last Summer' essay - oh how I loved writing essays when I was in school oh-so-many-moons ago!

Now with summer over and my one son back in school, routines will set back to normal - whatever normal is - and I hope to get back to writing, and on a regular basis. I have been chomping at the bit to write, but other things - and goals - took up my time and energy. I have learned that sometimes a break away from what we love can only strengthen the passion that brought us to that love in the first place. I had lots of time for thought and reflection and I look forward to jumping into fall that will race to the end of the year with a renewed perspective and fresh energy.
I can't wait for nights curled up with a book, getting out in clear, crisp, sunny fall days with my camera, writing in the early mornings, and setting and meeting new goals. Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte's are calling my name, a shawl/wrap I am knitting is eager to be finished and worn, and I think this year I want to buy a pair of kitschy fall boots.

I wish you all a happy fall season. Stay safe, hug your loved ones (and often), call those who aren't local (and often), enjoy every moment of what you have, and always take time to read a book.

xo




Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New Release - Street Notes

I'm proud to reveal my new release - Street Notes - published by Opal Moon Press, the young adult line of After Glows Publishing!

Available for sale in ebook format right now at Amazon and at Chapters/Indigo.

Blurb: All 15-year-old Nick Zinsky wanted was a guitar of his own and a necklace for his mom, and he wanted to buy both on his own, without anyone’s help.

Nick’s mom want him to focus on school and not get a job. But Nick is anxious to save up, so he spends the summer and weekends busking downtown with a guitar loaned from school – a secret he has to keep from his mom, his music teacher, his friends, and especially from the school bully, Beau.

But when a music competition is announced where the prizes would solve all Nick’s problems, Nick lacks the confidence to enter.

Can he find the courage to enter and will it make his problems disappear?

Author note: ‘Street Notes’ is a story about bullying, a teens’ struggle for independence, and about learning that sometimes it’s okay to ask for help.

This book was previously published with the title “Newbie Nick” in June 2014.

Hope you'll check it out!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Canada Day, eh?

Here we are - the moment we have been waiting for. The build-up for Canada's 150th birthday has been a big one, and there are festivities everywhere! If you are one to brave the crowds (unlike me), I hope you have a great time out there - lots of sunscreen, lots of water, and lots of patience!

For me this long weekend means some time off work and not only spending time with friends and family, but also tackling a huge to-do list. But aside from all that, it's a time to be thankful for where we live, our sense of fellowship and pride, and our freedom to think, write, and speak freely. I am proud of where I live, proud of who I am - and just proud to be Canadian!

So while I'm busy getting through my to-do list, I'll be embracing my friends and family, enjoying a bit of Tim Horton's, enjoy saying 'Happy Canada Day, eh?' to everyone I meet, and wearing proudly wearing red.
Happy Canada Day, eh?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Eclectic Never-Ending To-Be-Read Pile

I have books, and lots of them.

I have books I save because they have been signed by the author specifically to me.

I have books I love beyond words and they reside on a keeper shelf to save forever.

I have books that are reference books, mostly for writing and inspiration, that I refer back to time and again; they have their own shelf.

Then there are the books I have won, bought and been given as gifts. Those gems are in my to-be-read pile.

Or more like shelf.

Or to be honest - shelves, closets, cupboards and drawers.

Yes, many readers have to-be-read piles - like an actual PILE of books - but I have shelves of to-be-read books, and any place I can store them. The 'to-be-read pile' is a general concept, I know. Many people DO have books waiting to be read on shelves and not in actual piles, but if I kept them in piles, I'd have nowhere to walk on my living room floor.

Some of the books waiting in line to be read are new books (new-releases or used/new to me) and some are cherished copies I have pulled off my keeper-shelf waiting to be re-read.

And no sooner do I make a pact with myself to a/don't buy anymore books until b/I have systematically gone through my to-be-read shelves - and I DO make a barely-there dent in my to-be-read pile - when I 'accidentally' come home with 'a' book or a 'few' books...

It's not that I don't want to read the books I have waiting in the wings, it's just that I'm like a crow - I pick up any shiny new thing I see along the way. I can't help it.

Here are just a few of my books in my to-be-read pile. Some are re-reads I have pulled off my keeper-shelf to re-read, some are new-to-me books. No book is more important than the other - some books in my to-be-read pile are based off mood. I hope this eclectic list of my books waiting to be read (or re-read) inspires you to branch out and get reading!

It's Kind of Funny Story - Ned Vizzini (April 2007)

I saw the movie first, got the book second. But then is - and it's kind of a funny story - I didn't even KNOW about this movie until it happened upon it on Netflix one night AND THEN I didn't even know it was a book first! So what did I do? After loving the movie I raced out to get the book. This has been patiently waiting on my to-be-read pile...must get to it!

Blurb:

Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan's Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life-which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job-Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That's when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he's just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping-until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig's suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (October 16, 1847)
A classic I was introduced to in English class in high school, I instantly fell in love with everything about it. The era, the style of writing , the characters, the story - all of it. I have read this book countless times over the decades (gasp!) and have many reprinted versions sporting various covers. This classic will always be my fave (I once met a real-life 'rake' whose dog was named Pilot - I swooned. I really did).

Blurb:

Having grown up an orphan in the home of her cruel aunt and at a harsh charity school, Jane Eyre becomes an independent and spirited survivor-qualities that serve her well as governess at Thornfield Hall. But when she finds love with her sardonic employer, Rochester, the discovery of his terrible secret forces her to make a choice. Should she stay with him whatever the consequences or follow her convictions, even if it means leaving her beloved?


The Outsiders - S E Hinton (April 24, 1967)
A classic I read in school, got a crush on Dallas and Ponyboy but on the page and on the big screen, this timeless story has me coming back time and again, always on the keeper shelf and never far from my heart.

Blurb:

No one ever said life was easy. But Ponyboy is pretty sure that he's got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers, Darry and Sodapop. And he knows that he can count on his friends—true friends who would do anything for him, like Johnny and Two-Bit. But not on much else besides trouble with the Socs, a vicious gang of rich kids whose idea of a good time is beating up on “greasers” like Ponyboy. At least he knows what to expect—until the night someone takes things too far.


Fearless Writing - William Kenower (May 2017)

I love a good writing reference book, and I know from the blurb this one will help keep me going in my own writing. I just gotten myself out of a writing slump, and I know this will help keep me on track - fearlessly. Writer's get hit with lack of confidence, doubt, insecurity and fear with their writing. I know from the blurb this will help me get on track...

Blurb:

Find the courage to create your best writing life.

Whether you're a fledgling writer or a veteran with years of experience, fearlessness--that elusive blend of self-acceptance, confidence, and curiosity--is the defining quality of those who find fulfillment and success. Truly fearless authors banish writer's blocks with ease, receive critiques gracefully, and infuse their passion for the craft into every word they write.

Filled with insightful wisdom and practical advice, Fearless Writing teaches you how to thrive as a writer, no matter your genre or career path. You'll learn how to:
Find and enter a Flow state in which writing is a natural, deeply satisfying process.
Quiet both internal and external critics and embrace the inherent value in your work.
Use love, emotional engagement, and curiosity as the guiding principles for what you write and how you share it with others.
Overcome rejection, procrastination, and other obstacles that stifle your creativity.


Searching for Beautiful - Nyrae Dawn (March 2014)

I haven't read this before, and I'm very much looking forward to it. I'm a fan of young adult fiction, and I love following rich characters on their journey's of self-discovery, coming of age, and enlightenment. I know from the blurb this will be a good one!

Blurb:

Before it happened…

Brynn had a group of best friends, a boyfriend who loved her, a growing talent for pottery. She had a life. And then…she had none.

After it happened…

Everything was lost. The boy she now knew never loved her. The friends who felt she betrayed their trust. The new life just beginning to grow inside her.

Brynn believes her future is as empty as her body until Christian, the boy next door, starts coming around. Playing his guitar and pushing her to create art once more. She meets some new friends at the local community center, plus even gets her dad to look her in the eye again…sort of. But letting someone in isn't as easy as it seems.

Now…

Can Brynn open up her heart to truly find her life's own beauty, when living for the after means letting go of the before?

***

My collection of books keeps growing, which only proves frustrating as it makes me wish I had more time to read!

And of course, partway through writing this, I made a trip to the bookstore and got some more....

Friday, June 2, 2017

Reading and Writing and Everything in Between...

My time, mind, and body had recently been immersed and nearly swallowed-whole by other endeavours and life events, both good and bad. My reading and writing had suffered. But the distractions, the good and the not so good were, I realize now, needed, teaching me the never-ending lessons of perspective, gratitude, self-awareness, self-confidence, and enlightenment. So as some things have settled but others have accelerated, I’m making/finding/keeping time to read AND write. I never thought I’d say that as for much of my life reading and writing have consumed me, but maybe the break was needed with the benefits yet to be realized.

But despite the distance from the written word – both mine and of others – words were never far from my heart and soul. I’d jot down ideas – concepts, potential book titles, themes and plots. I’d have a book always at hand, and although I wasn’t reading in my usual voracious way, I DID still read, any amount good enough for me at the time.

So here I am, back on track, and with a few books, and magazines, on the go. My notebook, pen and laptop are humming…

And I can WRITE about what I’m READING, which in turn has only made me read more!

What I’m reading:

Write Naked by Jennifer Probst

Never judge a book by its cover.

How true that is. When I first saw ‘Write Naked’ on the shelf I suspected the book would be all about writing romance – and the ‘naked’ side of romance. Wrong. Written by a multi-published, award-winning, list-achieving romance author, this is a ‘what I learned along the way’ book with tips, lessons-learned, and honestly shared ups-and-down. Jennifer’s writing-journey in ‘Write Naked’ has me captivated – not only with her personal, down-to-earth voice, but with helping me get my writing life back on track, and deciphering what I want – and don’t want – to do with my writing. I’m loving every page, and every chapter has me thinking – and getting inspired. I’ve learned to just strip down, get naked, and write from the naked heart – and not to market and what everyone else is doing. The writing market is a fickle one, always changing without warning or reason. At the end of the day, I’ve surmised from the pages, just write and all will work out in the end.

Blurb: Learn how to transform your passion for writing into a career. New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Probst reveals her pathway to success, from struggling as a new writer to signing a seven-figure deal. Write Naked intermingles personal essays on craft with down-to-earth advice on writing romance in the digital age. Probst will teach you how to:
• Commit to your current work-in-progress, get focused, and complete it on schedule
• Reveal raw emotions and thoughts on the page to hook your readers
• Assemble a street team to promote and celebrate your books
• Overcome writer's block with ease
• Develop themes that tie together your books and series
• Write the most difficult elements of romance--including sex scenes--with skill and style
Regardless of the genre, every novelist faces a difficult task. Creating authentic characters and an engaging plot are challenging enough. But attempting to break into the hotter-than-ever romance genre, which is constantly flooded with new titles and fresh faces? It can feel impossible. This is where Probst's Write Naked comes in. To survive--and thrive--you need the help and wisdom of an expert.

Written in Probst's unmistakable and honest voice, Write Naked is filled with the lessons and craft advice every writer needs in order to carve out a rewarding career.

Blood on the Beach by Sarah Harvey and Robin Stevenson

I just started reading Blood on the Beach and I'm hooked! I’m a big young adult fiction reader (and writer) and I love getting down to the nitty-gritty of teen life – the dark, the happy, the coming-of-age, and everything in between. The writing in this contemporary/mystery/thriller written by two multi-published young adult authors is down-to-earth, blunt and honest, cuts to the chase – and most importantly keeps you turning the pages in anticipation. Kids, like adults, get themselves in to trouble and make wrong choices, but it’s how they see themselves out of those wrong decisions, and what they learn, is what matters.

Blurb: Eight teens are dropped off on a remote west-coast island for a week-long treatment program called INTRO (Into Nature to Renew Ourselves). The story is told by two of them: Alice, whose police-officer mother believes Alice might have a substance-abuse problem, and Caleb, who assaulted his abusive stepfather. They are joined by six other miscreants and three staff: a psychologist, a social worker and an ex-cop. On the first night, one of the girls disappears from her cabin. There is a panicked search of the island, but she is nowhere to be found. The adults seem oddly ineffectual in dealing with the crisis—and then the ex-cop gets sick and dies. The radio has been sabotaged, and there is no way to call for help. When the social worker also becomes ill, the kids decide to take matters into their own hands and track down the killer.

Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes! By Phyllis Pellman Good

Yes, you CAN read a cookbook cover to cover! And with 1,400 recipes at that!

I love my crockpot and the abundance of recipes for everything from the down-home to the more adventurous palates is right in this perfect-sized book. Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook has 1,400 simple recipes with ingredients for every budget there is something here for everyone. From beef to chicken to meatless recipes – from desserts to breakfasts to hot drinks – the possibilities are endless. Just put it all in, turn to low or high, set your timer, and go about your day (and get some reading and writing done instead of cooking!). This book is one of my go-to books and I love it.

And it keeps my taller-than-me family of men happily and heartily fed.

Blurb: Finally, all in one handsome volume, the best 1400 slow-cooker recipes!

New York Times bestselling author Phyllis Pellman Good has gathered the biggest collection of tantalizing, best-ever slow-cooker recipes into one great book.

The recipes in this amazing treasure are all—

• Collected from some of America’s best home cooks.
• Tested in real-life settings. Carefully selected from thousands of recipes.
• Eight small “galleries” of full-color photos of delectable slow-cooker dishes from the collection add sparkle throughout the cookbook.
• Absolutely manageable for those who lack confidence in the kitchen.
• Convenient for those who are short on time.
• Will bring a “make-it-again” request from all who are lucky enough to enjoy these tasty dishes.


And what about that never-ending to-be-read pile? See next post....

Thank you for stopping by!
Lisa


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Busy Easter Bunny....

I'm a busy girl today. Not only am I counting all my blessings during this special time, but I'm cooking a turkey, WRITING, getting outside on this sunny day to practice archery, 'helping' the Easter Bunny (my own little Easter Bunnies still asleep in their beds will never be too old for the Easter Bunny to visit), and most importantly....spending time with family and friends. True I won't be with my family in Vancouver (an expensive ferry ride away), but they are with me all the time in mind and spirit. The world of the internet makes maintaining relationships staying connected a little easier, and although nothing can replace being together in person, at least we make the most of what we DO have - each other - and stay connected all the time.

As I write this I'm about to get the turkey in the oven (I had to thaw it in the bathroom so the cat wouldn't get at it), then after a quick shower and spackling-on of make-up, I'll sit down and read for a bit. I made all my veggies yesterday and I actually cut-down on the amount I do, making more of one thing instead of 5 different things so I could have time for family and friends - and time to just BE. I've been in in a constant state of whirlwind go-go-go lately, and I'm trying - and this is not the first time - to slow down. Every time I put myself in check and nearly crumble under an avalanche overwhelm-ness, I remember I have to slow down. I'm getting better at it - I am - but it takes work. Another Easter is here - weren't we JUST celebrating Easter 2016? - and a lot has happened in my life in that year. A lot. But one constant is to slow down...and always count your Easter Eggs. Too much can get in the way of stopping to smell the roses - or in this case, to count your Easter Eggs. I take on too much, do too much, and although I could never say 'no' to too many chocolates, I know moderation is key - and with everything.

Easter is a time of reflection, remembrance, new beginnings, and renewed hope for the future. It's a time to stop and be with family, something I work year-round to do as best as I can, and a time to just enjoy what we have. I have the freedom and means to write what I want, when I want, and believe what I want, and how I want. I can take this time, yet again, to set and start anew, and know the future is bright no matter what tries to get in my way. I take time to read quietly from the abundance of books I have, and later sit back and watch my house full of men banter and bicker over turkey dinner. Yup - life is good.

I hope you have a lovely Easter and take time to hug your family, celebrate all you have, and just as equally important - to count your Easter Eggs - you have more than you realize.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Make-Over = Fresh Start

A Make-over = Fresh Start....

But first a bit of rambling that needs to get out...

I've been in a bit of a rut lately - I think the not-so-notable weather, a month of bad health, and just generally being overwhelmed and burned out got to me. Something had to give, I had to take a step back from a few things, and I needed time to think, reflect, recharge and reset. My writing took a hit, along with a few other things, but I'm slowly getting back on track. I thrive on routine and routine WILL only foster productivity and regular output, but that will come. I have to not be so hard on myself.

But that writing itch has been building, getting more and more itchy - so much it needs a really good scratch. But I'm holding out. I'm not giving into that scratch just yet. Where the writing spark had evaded me before, now I'M taking charge and not letting it have it's way just yet. Not letting myself scratch just yet. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that, and I think by holding off on finally giving in to a good scratch (I HAVE been writing little bits here and there, just not my usual full-steam-ahead-writing) I'm letting the momentum build and letting my desperate writing spark know who's in charge.

I'm in charge of my writing - only me. I say how often, how much and what. No one else. I'm responsible for what I do - and what I don't do. In my last author interview with Jodie Esch, she mentioned she had burned out. She said 'After living in the teen head for my four YA books, I was burnt out. I needed a change of pace.' That resonated with me. I realize I HAD burned out on various things. I had to step away and ignore, and the moment you ignore something, it wants you back. Well I'm coming back, but on MY terms. I got caught up in the 'rules' of writing - meaning a 'true writer' is only a 'true writer' if they are doing X,Y,Z. Nope - not having that anymore. It's not a lame excuse to EXCUSE for not writing, I'm just not going to keep myself within the confines of what constitutes a 'real writer' anymore.

I had been questioning what a real writer IS and IS NOT, and part of my problem of getting myself into a rut was that I was overthinking everything. This the norm for me. I overthink everything and don't just let things BE and come naturally. So I acknowledged I was burned out and ACCEPTED IT. I acknowledged that I was overthinking it all and LET THINGS GO. I saw I was overwhelmed and took a STEP BACK. I knew I was stale and needed a fresh start and CHANGED. And most importantly, I GAVE MYSELF A BREAK - because no one's gonna give yourself a break except you.

So as I inch closer to something new - something that is right for me - and tease that writing spark with just a tiny scratch, I know I'm back. Everything WILL be okay. I AM a writer - no one has the right to tell me what I AM or AM NOT.

First step is a make-over. A fresh start - a clean slate - and a new look. And I'll sit back and see how that feels...and then carry on at my own pace. In my own time.

And goshdarnit, lookee here! I DID write something after all!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Interview With Author Jodie Esch

I'm thrilled to have multi-published author Jodie Esch visiting today. She writes young adult fiction, and most recently switched things up and published a contemporary women's romance novel called Finding Hayden. I have known Jodie for many years and have had the fortune of watching her writing career bloom. She is a cherished friend and writing colleague, and is always a great support.

About writing....

Lisa: What do you write?

Jodie: I’ve written 4 Young Adult Novels – entitled The Girlfriends Series. I wrote them as stand-alone novels, however, amazingly they turned into a series. Who knew? They’re fast-paced, dialogue driven and focus on current issues such as cyberbullying, using prescription medication, self-esteem and searching for a parent. Heavy issues but handled with a light touch.

Lisa: Why do you write what you do?

Jodie: That’s hard to say, but I wrote a lot as a young teen. Angst filled diaries, bad poetry, and a thinly veiled romance novel about a young girl with a crush on her ski instructor. All about moi! Oh yes! I was obsessed with the ‘idea’ of being a writer, but my dad said ‘first things first’ or something along that line and he urged me to become a teacher. And so I did.

After a career in teaching and school administration in Quebec, the NWT and in B.C. I finally had the time to write fiction. Oh joy, oh joy! Oh happy days!

I joined a writing group (VIRA) attended conferences, entered contests, pitched my work and tried to improve my craft. Along the way I met authors who became close friends. This writing journey is challenging, frustrating and enlightening. Much harder than I thought. I’ve learned a lot about me in the process.

I meet regularly with a group of indie authors and we share good food, writing tips and a lot of laughs. Mostly we try to give each other support.

Lisa: What is your writing process?

Jodie: I’m a ‘plotter’ and I like to know where I’m going. I always know my ending. I tried being one of those ‘into the mist’ writers, but I got lost in the fog.

I don’t write with a rigid over-view, and can embrace a new character if he or she suddenly appears. And I love when that happens. That’s part of the magic of the creative process. That is, allowing ideas/characters/events to flow. It’s important to be open. I think I allowed myself more freedom in my last book ‘Finding Hayden’, a contemporary romance. I simply opened a vein and bled on the page. I think Steven King has said that.

Lisa: Do you have a favorite background noise you like to have going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?

Jodie: I like total silence while writing and drink a lot of tea.
Lisa: Do you have a current release:

Jodie: After living in the teen head for my four YA books, I was burnt out. I needed a change of pace. I was tired of writing in first person point-of-view.

So, I made myself write in third person and decided to embrace the romance genre. I’d written at least three romance novels when I first started out, but none of them were worthy of being published. I had a lot to learn. And still do of course.

I discovered that I loved writing ‘Finding Hayden’. It was truly a book of the heart, as they say in the writing biz. I floundered in the middle of the manuscript because I had some unexpected health issues, but I didn’t want to leave the novel unfinished. I knew if I abandoned this novel, it would bother me forever.

So I pressed onwards. And I’m thrilled that I did. My readers uplift me every day. I love it when a reader takes the time to comment on my book. There is always something to learn from an astute reader.

Here is the back-cover blurb from ‘Finding Hayden’.

A woman on the run.
A wounded military hero.
Two lives collide. Can they learn to accept their pasts?

She isn’t looking for love and he isn’t thinking about tomorrow. Their journey together is not what they expected but it may turn into something they need.

Lily Morgan is a woman who harbors a terrible secret. She escapes to an island sanctuary and reinvents herself. Everything is fine until her past shows up to haunt her.

Hayden Cooper is a reluctant military hero. Now he’s lost his job and maybe he’s lost his mind. Every day he battles PTSD. He doesn’t expect to find a woman who challenges all of his thinking.

Can two lost souls save each other and learn to trust again?

About you....


Lisa: Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?

Jodie: Oh yes! I adore reading. And I’m a total foodie. I love to entertain and fuss about with table décor and experiment with new recipes. I’m a carb-queen and could easily weigh a lot more than I do. It’s a constant and totally boring struggle.

Lisa: Have you travelled?

Jodie: Lots. Back and forth across Canada and the United States, Europe, the Bahamas, the Windward Islands, Peru, and Mexico. But now, I’m quite content to hide-out in the country on a small property on Vancouver Island and live in my fictional worlds. I guess you could say I’m living ‘smaller’ and I like that.

Thank you so much for chatting with us and sharing your writing life, Jodie!

Finding Hayden is available on Amazon.

Be sure to find more about Jodie and her books at:

Website: http://www.jodieesch.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JodieEschAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodieesch?lang=en

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jodieesch/



Friday, February 24, 2017

Author Interview with Rose Phillips

I'm very happy to have fellow Evernight Teen author, Rose Phillips, here on my blog! She is the author of contemporary fiction for young adults and her debut novel 'Cutting to the Chase' (Evernight Teen Publishing) is now on the cyber shelves!

In a previous incarnation, Rose was an educator who worked with at-risk adolescents. She left that behind to write and live on the beautiful West Coast with the love of her life and her two fur children, Ginger and Spice.

Rose on writing....

Lisa: What do you write?

Rose: Realistic contemporary young adult.

Lisa: Why do you write what you do?

Rose: I was an educator for many years. Kids and teens are the world I lived in, the world I know.

Lisa: Do you have a favorite background noise you like to have going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?

Rose: I don’t enjoy silence while writing but lyrics tend to distract me. So I listen to instrumental, mostly solo piano or spa.

Lisa: Do you have a favorite snack you have while writing?

Rose: I never eat while writing. I use that as an excuse to get up and stretch and give my brain a break. I do enjoy a Werthers with a vanilla flavoured coffee though.

Lisa: What are you working on?

Rose: I have several projects on the go right now but the most relevant one to our conversation today is Mags’s story. Mags is a secondary character in Cutting to the Chase who insisted on her own story line. Becky, another secondary character, is also demanding to be heard. I suspect she will be the next focused writing project.

Lisa: Do you have a new release?

Rose: Today is release day for my novel, Cutting to the Chase (published by Evernight Teen/Evernight Publishing), and is available in ebook, soon to come out in paperback.

Blurb: How do you fix something you didn't break?

Lizzy certainly doesn't have the answer. All she knows is that she needs to survive senior year, then get as far away from her dysfunctional family as possible. In the meantime, when she can't take the pressure, she eases it with the sharp edge of a razor blade.

But, she's been cutting deeper and her thoughts are growing darker.

Until she meets Michael. With him she finds relief.

Now, maybe—just maybe—she can make it.

Lisa: What a teaser of a blurb! Is this a stand-alone book or is it part of a series?

Rose: It is definitely a stand-alone, but as I explained above, two more characters are getting a chance to tell their stories. But they are not a series, not dependent on one another, merely connected.

All about Rose....

Lisa: What is one thing you would love to learn ‘one day’?

Rose: To paint. I always loved cartooning but I was never very good at any other type of visual art. I did a lot of research on painting when I wrote Cutting to the Chase as it is a passion of Lizzy’s. It reignited the desire to try it. We went to a paint and sip in the fall. I loved both the painting and the sipping, although I fear I was much better at the latter.

Lisa: What is your least favorite ‘adult’ task, and why?

Rose: I hate to make the bed. What’s the point? It just gets messed up. I must confess that I rarely do it.

Lisa: Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?

Rose: Music is probably my favorite pastime. Before moving, I was very involved in musical theater. My husband and I also had a trio with a good friend. That was great fun.

Lisa: Have you traveled – even if in your own province or state – and what was your most memorable/favorite destination?

Rose: When I finished university, my husband and I left for a year and backpacked. We traveled throughout Europe, into North Africa and over to Turkey. We’ve had many travel experiences since, but nothing tops that year.

Lisa:
Do you have a ‘keeper shelf’ of books? If so, take a picture and share it here. What is your most re-read book and why?

Rose: Because of a long distance move, I had to pare down. I also write historical fiction, so I had a lot of weight in non-fiction books. Many of the fiction had to go. Most of the fiction keepers are from a broad spectrum of genres and age groups and kept mostly because I have connected with the authors personally. I rarely re-read a book, but I have re-read Diana Gabaldon’s first book, Outlander. I do intend on re-reading Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy to see if it stands the test of time. I loved it so much when I was a teen that I wrote to her. I was thrilled when she wrote back from Scotland, telling me she was busy working on the third installment.

Lisa: Do you have any pets, currently or in the past? Did you have a favorite?

Rose: I have two fur babies, Ginger and Spice. Two Lhasa Apso sisters, they bring laughter to our household every day.

Lisa: Do you have a dream car?

Rose: I’ve never been into cars. So long as I can get from point A to B, I am happy.

Thank you so much, Rose, for sharing your writing life as well as a bit about your personal life! Congratulations on the new release - I'm looking forward to reading it!

Be sure to visit Rose and find out what else she's up to at:

Website: http://rosephillipsya.blogspot.ca/
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/rosephillipsya/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rosephillipsya (@rosephillipsya )
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rosephillipsya/


Excerpt of Cutting to the Chase (February 2017 - Evernight Teen Publishing)

Chapter One

The metal is cool against my leg. I want to put it away, shove it back in the cabinet out of sight, and forget it exists. But I can’t. Instead, I tip it and drag it across my skin, scraping slowly. Chills run down my spine, making me shiver. I spread my legs wider, allowing my hand to slip to my inner thigh, totally giving in to it, edging the corner of the razor blade in. It’s easy. Flesh is soft.

I hold my breath and wait. The first crimson drop hits the water. The silent splash echoes in the room, shouts in my mind—then it disappears into watery nothingness. The buzzing in my head softens Mom’s angry words to whispers. I can breathe now and my heart starts to thump normally. The sharp pain eases. I draw the blade in a straight path. I love how the skin folds away. Like pulling the strip on a Babybel. Except I’m the cheese inside out.

“You’ve been in there thirty minutes!”

I pull at the roll of toilet paper and press a clump of it against the cut. The little shit can wait.

“I timed it. Thirty stinkin’ minutes. You don’t own the freakin’ washroom!” The door reverberates from his banging.

“Shut up.” I wipe, but I’ve gone deeper this time and it keeps dripping. Crap! Grabbing more tissue, I manage to smear the blood, the mess looking a lot like my watercolor attempt last week. Mrs. Opal had described it as a sailor’s warning, whatever the hell that means.

He pounds the door again, obviously totally pissed. “I mean it, Lizzy. Get out!”

I pull up my panties, then wad some more tissue and hold it against my skin, carefully tugging my jeans with my free hand. Sucking in my stomach, I pull my hand out, leaving the padding there. My heart is pounding again, so loud in my head I can barely hear Midget muttering. I pull up the zipper and snap the jeans, looking around like there’s someone watching me or something. I don’t know why I’ve done it in here today. It’s not my usual spot. I rinse the blade, slip it into my front pocket, then turn and look at the bloodied mess bloating in the basin. Screw it.


You can find Cutting to the Chase at:

Evernight Teen Publishing

Amazon

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Pink Shirt Day Feb 22 2017



Today is Pink Shirt Day, a movement started by teen boys who saw a wrong and stood up for what is right. Although a day has been marked for everyone to come together and support the movement – bringing awareness to bullying everywhere, no matter the age – awareness, action, and support has to be year-round. The Pink Shirt movement started with a couple of courageous boys who took action – actions speak louder than words – so remember to show your support and commitment to anti-bullying and wear pink, and think pink, today and all year long.

Visit www.pinkshirtday.ca


Be sure to check out the video of Pink Shirt Day happenings around BC by Arnold Lim of Victoria News.
http://www.vicnews.com/news/414554983.html

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Interview with Judith Graves, Young Adult Author

Judith Graves writes 'young adult fiction to die for,' is a screenwriter, musician, dog-lover and so much more! When not co-writing a series for Orca Book Publishers, she's co-publisher and acquisitions editor for Leap Books, LLC.

Despite knowing how busy she is, I had the nerve to ask her for an interview, and she agreed! I am so glad she took the time to answer a few questions about her life and writing, as well as what ELSE she's up to! (And I thought I was busy!)

Read on.....

About Judith's writing...

Lisa: Thank you so much for visiting me here, Judith. What do you write?

Judith: I’m published in young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as a crossover between young adult / new adult fiction (under the pen name, Judith Tewes). I also write scripts for film, TV, and the stage, as well as freelance articles for writing magazine and library blogs / journals. I’m just getting a feel for composing picture books. I guess you could say I dabble in a bit of everything.

Lisa: Why do you write what you do?

Judith: Other than my script work, which is more mature and features adult characters, I’ve settled in YA/MG and those voices are the ones that seem to come quite naturally. Does that mean I’m stuck in adolescence forever? Lol. Maybe, but it’s also likely because my husband is a high school social studies teacher and basketball coach, and I work in an elementary school library. We don’t have kids of our own – we have three fur babies! – but we’re surrounded by tweens / teens - their stories, hopes, struggles, and dreams. It’s quite helpful to be on the frontlines with my target audiences.

Lisa: Do you get the munchies while writing and if so what do you crave/eat?

Judith: I do! I’m known to have a secret stash of Smarties in my desk drawer. They’re perfect for picking away at during revisions. This is also why I have to get on my treadmill at least three days a week.

Lisa: What are you working on?

Judith: I have several projects on the go at any given time. Some lead to publication, some get set aside for future development. I’m waiting to get revision notes on INFILTRATE, my second book in the Retribution series published by Orca Book Publishers and am excited for that one to get born. The Retribution series is unique in that it’s written by myself and two other authors, Natasha Deen and Sigmund Brouwer Our characters are an unlikely team of teens who band together to take down adults in their lives who have done them wrong, which in turn leads them into taking on “cases” for other kids in need of their specialized skills. I should mention, our characters are anti-heroes: a car thief, a boxer, a hacker, and an art forger. Such a fun series to write and plan and plot – all with two additional creative minds and talents to bounce ideas off of. The initial three stories, EXPOSED by Judith Graves, BURNED by Natasha Deen, and UNLEASHED by Sigmund Brouwer, launched last year and the second batch are set to go this spring (TERMINATE by Natasha Deen), fall (INFILTRATE by Judith Graves), and then spring of 2018 (ESCALATE by Sigmund Brouwer). Each of us pen individual volumes in the series, taking the characters on different adventures. We have a nifty website that features the books if you want to check them out: http://retributiontheseries.com/ And here are a few pics of us hamming it up during a young writers conference.

I’m thrilled that EXPOSED has been nominated for a 2017 Golden Oak Award through the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading program. As both a library technician and an author – it’s a huge honour to be noticed by such an authoritative organization.

A bit about Judith....

Lisa: Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?

Judith: I love hanging out with my husband and our three crazy mutts (two Labrador Retrievers and an English Mastiff), trying to capture cool moments via photography, and I play bass / sing backup vocals in a two or three gigs a year folk-rock band.

Lisa: Have you travelled – even if in your own province or state – and what was your most memorable/favorite destination?

Judith: Travel – ah, that’s pretty much my thing. My dad was in the military and I grew up on the move. I have itchy feet, as they say. Although we’re pretty much settled in Alberta, thankfully my hankering for the road is well met, as my husband also loves to travel. We’ve seen much of Canada, Europe, the UK, and the US. But there are always more places and worlds to discover. We’re gearing up for an Italy trip and I’m forever researching sites to add to our itinerary.

My special interest is in tracking down abandoned structures, ghost towns, graveyards, tombs, crypts, and catacombs at the various locations we visit. I know, I know...even my last name is “Graves”...lol...but I’ve always loved walking through graveyards and reading the headstones, imagining the lives of the people and the times in which they lived. Even if I visit a small town, I’ve likely checked out the dead folk before the living. Ireland has some of the most visually striking tombstones / burial sites I’ve seen thus far. But for emotional impact - I’d have to say our time spent at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial in Poland hit me the hardest. I’m still haunted by the things we saw there.

Here’s a pic of an abandoned old truck we discovered during a road trip in rural Alberta...


Book excerpt: EXPOSED (Retribution Series)

The trouble with most people? They never look up.

They keep their eyes dead ahead, fixated as they march forward and go about getting the day done. And like ants, they don’t notice that the darkness creeping over them isn’t just another storm cloud. It’s a freaking shoe. No. It’s a steel-toed boot on the foot of some beer-guzzling, asbestos-lunged construction worker, and the thing is going to stomp their lights out.

I thought I wasn’t most people.

Guess I was wrong.

I shifted my grip on the crumbled concrete, the pull of my weight stretching the tendons in my fingers like the string on a crossbow threatening to snap. Toes digging into the brick, I managed to snag an edge and relieve some of the pressure. I’d completed this route more times than I could count and that was the problem. I’d been using this building for training for weeks, its brick façade perfect for an easy climb. But I’d become complacent. Forgotten my own rule. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Just like those dead-ahead ants I promised myself I’d never be.

If I had simply looked up while I’d made the climb, I would have noticed the awning I decided to rest my feet on was missing a bolt, or had rusted out, or whatever had made the metal bar pop from under me. Leaving me dangling by my fingertips fifteen feet above a major street.


Thank you again for the interview, Judith.

For more about Judith, I hope you'll check her out at:

Website/blog: http://judithgraves.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/judithgraveswrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/judithgraves
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gravesjudith/

Friday, February 3, 2017

Guilt and the Keeper Shelf

I have yet to meet an avid reader who doesn’t have a keeper shelf.

What’s a keeper shelf?

To bibliophiles – lovers of books – a keeper shelf is a shelf (or in my case ‘shelves’) bearing the most favored, treasured, and adored books. They are books that may or may not ever be re-read, but are books that simply canNOT be parted with.

Every reader has his or her reasons for what books get shelved on this most sacred of shelves. It could be one that made the reader laugh, cry, or sigh in happy satisfaction. Or maybe the words between the covers transformed the reader, helping him or her through a difficult time by giving clarity and answers when it felt like none would ever be found. Maybe the book is a reference book – an often-read, much jotted-in, dog-eared book of information. Or better yet maybe it’s a rare or signed edition in which the reader spent hours in the rain waiting at a book signing.

The keeper shelf is often the most sacred and cherished place in the house. Messy linen shelves? Who cares. Messy keeper shelf? Call in sick from work to straighten it out, PRONTO!

Whatever the reason – and there ARE no right or wrong reasons – the books on a reader’s keeper shelf are personal and ever-changing. Sometimes, and sadly at that, the collection needs to be thinned out – books are always being added, but there is (unfortunately) only so much space a person can have. It’s a hard task, purging books, a task often put-off for weeks, months and years.

As for my keeper shelf?

I have three – well, four.

My main bookcase is a compilation of keepers, reference books and my ever-growing TBR pile (To Be Read pile – another commonly known collection of books among readers). It’s a huge bookshelf, two and a half rows deep, and it’s one of my most prized possessions. I remember all the books stored there (well, most of the time – my memory is finicky), but when I do a little rearranging/digging around the shelves it’s often like Christmas morning when I find forgotten treasures! I try to keep my ‘keepers’ on their own shelf – space is always an issue - but I know I must be diligent and grant them the honour of allowing them their own rightful spot on the designated keeper shelf.

Then in my bedroom I have two keeper shelves (two small bookcases) designated ONLY to books I simply CANNOT part with, as well as a shelf in the closet. Sure I have clothes like any ‘normal’ person in there, but my keeper books on the shelves above my non-fashionable clothes? Worth more to me than any design on a fashion runway.

And every so often things get out of control and I have to get brave and summon the courage to do the dreaded GREAT PURGE. I have to pare down, thin out, and minimize what’s on my shelves – not out of anger or revenge, but out of necessity. I hate doing it – guilt gnaws at me like a dog on a bone – but sometimes ya just gotta take a deep breath and do it. Reading tastes change – there’s no doubt about it – and as a writer my reading tastes change a lot. What I read affects my writing, and vice versa. That’s not to say I’m as flighty, fickle and easily swayed to trends, but despite my resistance and denial of my own aging (read: I’m getting older but I don’t have to like it), what I read is always evolving

As I write this I’m gearing up to do a Great Purge. I’ve been building-up for it for two weeks – the excuse of ‘no time’ is perfect for avoiding the inevitable. I know I must do it – I want to, I need to, I must. There are some books I have noted SAVE FOREVER in the front cover – those will stay. But there are some that must go – they were a trend for me at the time (maybe I AM fickle), but not everything can be saved for all time.

In prepping for the Great Purge I did a quick review of my treasured books and they were like a time capsule – a timeline of my life. Where some books were relevant at different times of my life, now they are not. They served their purpose. That’s not to say I ‘used them’ and now I’m tossing them aside without thought – they ended up on my keeper shelf for a reason, didn’t they? And I honoured the author who wrote them – I bought the book and I finished reading it. Even books that don’t end-up on the keeper shelf are not to be forgotten – all books matter and have something to offer, even if only one spirit-changing, uplifting, mood-shifting sentence. Keeper shelf or not, I hate having to purge my books – but at least I’m passing them on to another reader to love (used book stores, libraries, and lunchrooms are the recipients). But still the guilt eats away at me.

My keeper shelves have books like classics – Jane Eyre is my favorite – a few favorites I read in my teens that I found in used book stores, a series or two I love, favorite authors who inspire my writing, a few historical biographies that make me think, a Danielle Steel translated to French, signed copies of books by authors I have met or know personally, and books that just simply made me sit back and sigh at THE END. I have books I love just for the sake of loving them, and books that were relevant in my life BACK THEN. It’s hard, but holding on to something for the sake of holding on to them – especially out of guilt – can weigh a person down.

So as I continue to mentally prepare for this great task of the Great Purge, I will work through my guilt. I know that I am doing it for the greater good – making room for more books, honouring past and present author’s and their work by reading the books, loving them, then passing them on. that I’m making room for more book, I’m honouring past and present authors and their work by reading them then passing them on, and will always be adding to my Keeper Shelf – and know I will have to go through all the guilt again.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Interview with Laura Langston, Young Adult Author

Today I welcome Laura Langston, multi-published author of picture books and novels for kids and teens. I met Laura through the Romance Writer's of America many years ago (I think almost 12 years ago!) and our paths have criss-crossed over the years bringing us to what we are today - writing colleagues and friends.

I interviewed Laura about what she's doing these days. Here's what she had to say.....

What do you write?

I write books for teens and kids as Laura Langston and books for adults as Laura Tobias.

Why do you write what you do?

I’ve always written and I decided to be a writer when I was in Grade Four. But I didn’t know any writers and wasn’t sure exactly how to turn writing into a career that would pay the bills so I became a journalist. I wrote news articles and radio documentaries and did a lot of reporting, but when my first child was born everything changed and I decided to follow my passion for storytelling. In terms of what I write, I gravitate to subjects I feel strongly about or that mean something to me, whether it’s a theme or subject or even a setting. Sometimes I’m inspired by a person I meet or an event that happens to someone I love. In a lot of ways, my career trajectory has followed my children’s growing up years. When they were tiny I tended to write more picture book manuscripts because I was immersed in the concerns of pre-schoolers. As they grew, my books got longer and more complex. Part of that was my personal growth as a writer but some of that was undoubtedly influenced by my children.

What is your writing process?

I go by the JDI process. Just do it. Writing is my full time job and I treat it as such which means I’m at my desk five days a week with occasional stints of night shifts if things are percolating or if I’m on deadline and need to catch up. On days I work out of the office (usually one day a week) I definitely put in more hours at night or on the weekend. I have both a treadmill desk and sit down desk in my office and I go back and forth between the two. Walking and writing work well for me. It seems to free the muse.

Do you have a favorite background noise you like to have going while you write (TV, Music, kids playing)?

I like quiet when I write! And I don’t often get it these days because I have two Shelties (Team Sheltie) who like to be in the office with me and I haven’t the heart (or backbone) to lock them out. They’re very vocal. As well, our house is on the small side and my office, by necessity, is in the middle of the action which I find distracting. So the more quiet I get, the better.

Do you have a favorite snack you have while writing?

I guess I’m boring because I never eat when I’m working. I drink a cup of coffee in the morning while I check email and I usually have herbal tea after lunch. That’s it.

What are you working on?

I generally juggle multiple projects in varying stages of completion. Right now, I’m writing my next Laura Tobias title in the Girls Who Dish Series and I’m plotting a YA novel tentatively titled A Lesson in Song.

Do you have a new release – immediate past or upcoming?

In Plain Sight releases on February 7, 2017. Here’s what it’s about:
Fifteen-year-old Megan Caliente prides herself on rallying for causes and standing up for the underdog. She’s the president of the school’s political science club and she likes to make her voice heard. But when she learns the father she thought was dead is actually a convicted terrorist responsible for more than two hundred deaths, Megan is forced to examine everything she believes about being an activist. As she wrestles with her values, Megan faces humiliation and betrayal from friends, struggles with the guilt of knowing she carries her father’s DNA, and ultimately comes to accept that her father’s sins are not her own.
www.lauralangston.com
https://www.orcabook.com

What is one thing you would love to learn ‘one day’?

It would have to be something to do with dance. To belly dance, to flamenco dance, to dance the tango. Maybe all three!

What is your least favorite ‘adult’ task, and why?

Washing the mashed potato pot. I mean, really! That stuff turns into cement before you even finish dinner. Who has an hour to scrub a dirty pot? Maybe that’s why we eat so much brown rice.

Do you have any hobbies outside of writing?

So many it’s hard to know where to start. I’m an obsessive reader (I read 2-3 books a week). I practice yoga and in the summer I cycle. I’m a dedicated gardener and lucky enough to live in a mild climate where I can get outside 8 or 9 months of the year. Our yard is crammed with hundreds of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs, and many of the plants I’ve started myself from seed. The garden is not only restorative but practical too. I’m also hugely interested in mystical arts so at least once a month I’ll attend lectures on everything from crystal healing to animal communication.

Have you travelled – even if in your own province or state – and what was your most memorable/favorite destination?

Travel is hugely important to me. I think seeing the world is one of the best educations you can have. It’s impossible to pick one favorite or memorable destination. Before we had our kids, we traveled for five months in Europe and Russia. That was incredibly memorable and something we’ll do again when family and work obligations lessen. After the kids came along, we spent a lot of years camping at Long Beach and Saratoga Beach and those memories still make me smile. I also took my daughter to New York when she graduated from high school. I had to be in Toronto for a family event so she came with me and we took the train to New York for 4 days. We had a lot of adventures, including narrowly missing a hostage taking!

Do you have a ‘keeper shelf’ of books? What is your most re-read book and why?

I have a keeper shelf and I sometimes re-read books but my existing ‘to be read’ pile is so huge that I rarely have time to go back to a book I’ve already read, unless it’s a writing craft
book. I re-read those fairly often. But that doesn’t stop me from keeping my favorite novels!

Do you have any pets, currently or in the past? Did you have a favorite?

I’ve had a pet since I became an adult, often two at a time. When we were first married we rescued two Pekingese puppies and they were with us for almost fifteen years. When our kids came along, we welcomed a Beagle and a feral cat into our house (the cat was in charge). And now we have Luna and Trace, our two shelties. I can’t pick a favorite. I honestly can’t. Interestingly enough, I’m not a cat person; I’m actually quite allergic to them (which made having a cat problematic, believe me). But I became quite attached to our lovely cat and really grieved when she died. Sometimes early in the morning as I’m just waking up I’m convinced I feel her jump up on the bed to greet me like she did when she was alive.

If you had a ‘spirit animal’ what would it be?

I have one! The owl. Owls seem to be appearing all around me lately, including in our back yard. I’m convinced he’s trying to tell me something.

Do you have a special trick or talent?

Reading people’s minds. It’s my super power!


Thank you so much for letting us into your world, Laura. I wish you much continued success in your writing, and when I see an owl I'll think of you!

To find out more about Laura Langston and what she's up to, be sure to visit:

Website/blog:www.lauralangston.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraLangston.Author/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraLangston


Book excerpt of In Plain Sight (Orca Book Publishers - February 2017)

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “You’re saying Mom lied to me? That she’s not Rochelle Caliente? She’s somebody named Alice Farnsworth? That all these years she’s been hiding in plain sight?”

Bev nods. “That’s exactly what I’m saying.” Her dark eyes are grave and unblinking.

I think of Mom’s paranoia every time she saw a cop. Her unease around my friend in sixth grade whose parents were both lawyers. The way that lieutenant looked at her earlier today. The guilty flush on her cheeks when she told me everything would be fine. And, like toxic smoke slowly rising in a house fire, the truth starts seeping through the cracks of my disbelief.

“Really?” I finally ask.

“Really.”

I stare around the kitchen, looking for a sign that I’ve somehow stepped into the wrong life. But everything is familiar—the box of cereal on the counter where I left it this morning, the gravy splatter on the front of the microwave that Mom asked me to wipe off days ago. “Why would Mom disappear? Innocent people don’t do that.”

“To protect you,” Bev says simply.

My stomach flips, a nasty mix of coffee and nerves. “From what?”

“Your mother got caught up with the Dodger Five.”

The Dodger Five. We learned about them in school. The terrorists, five guys, were responsible for a massive bombing at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles that killed over two hundred people in 2002. The fifteenth anniversary of the attack is only weeks away. The local paper ran a big story about them last weekend. “What do you mean she got caught up with them?”

Bev sips her wine. “Your mother was in a relationship with one of the members,” she says after putting her glass down. “She didn’t know who they were or what they were about. They weren’t a group or anything. At least, not as far as she knew. They were just friends of—” She hesitates. “Of the man she was involved with. And then the bombing happened, and the police showed up at her door and her laptop was seized and her life went to hell.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Evidence of the plot was on her laptop.”

I clench my coffee so hard my knuckles hurt. “But she was innocent, right?”

“Yes, but—.”

I interrupt her. “She should have told the police that.”

“She did. She was questioned and released, but she knew she’d have to testify in court. She panicked, and she ran.”

“That doesn’t make sense.”

Bev won’t meet my gaze. “She was afraid of…of one of the bombers.”

“I thought they all died in the bombing.”

“One didn’t.” Bev takes a breath. “And the one who survived is your father.”

Blood rushes to my head. “No way.”

“Yes.” Bev nods. “Your mother isn’t a terrorist, Megan, but your father is. Your father is Sal Gaber, the ringleader of the Dodger Five.”

Monday, January 2, 2017

Planning My AuthorLife for 2017

Happy New Year to all! I started off the new year right by getting organized and on track. I usually am more direction-focused, but 2016 proved to be a bit of a challenge as far as staying on track with my writing. But it's done and over with and in the past - can't go back, can only go forward. So my determined-self had a talk with my laggy-self and said 'It's time to take charge - take action!' So I have.

As a writer I'm big on notebooks, of course. I always have one with me, jotting personal to-do notes (family etc) along with writing ideas and to-do's, and as of the last two years, archery notes as well (I took up archery two years ago). But I knew I needed something more - not just a notebook to help me keep on track, and not just an agenda. They both are useless if I don't refer to them or update them regularly. But given how I let things compromise my direction in my writing career over the past year (notice how I said 'I LET' - I'm taking responsibility for my lagging-self, not blaming everything else), I knew I needed something MORE to help me along.

In comes a discovery - 'AuthorLife Planner - 2017' by Bria Quinlan. As the subtitle suggests - 'Prep. Plan. Produce' - it's just what I needed. Goal-setting, time-management, personal dreams/wants/desires, accountability - the list goes on of what this planner intends for the author trying to create a productive writing career. I worked through the first pages which invite the author to realize dreams, goals and areas-of-improvement both personally and writerly. Quinlan suggests the breaking down of the year into quarters, and planning week by week, month by month and then quarter by quarter. I had never thought of viewing my writing goals in quarters - seems so obvious, but sometimes the obvious isn't so obvious - and the concept rang true for me. It's not as overwhelming as planning for year, and planning for the month ahead, although good to do, sometimes leads to disappointment for me. A month goes by, my busy work-life and home-life makes the month a blur, and then I look back and realize I got nothing done over that month, and then beat myself up over it.

But who's to say I won't achieve what I want in the first quarter of the year - January 1st to March 31st? Well, I'll be taking responsibility for that. Determination is my weapon against disappointment, along with a sprinkle of allowances for hiccups or setbacks along the way. I have resolved to not be so hard on myself when things don't go as planned - when I don't accomplish what I want. That's life. I have even scheduled/planned time in the week to ONLY work on the AuthorLife Planning book - to sit, plan, think, review, revise and re-direct my AuthorLife (if and when needed).

Added to that, I received a new notebook for Christmas from my mom, the cover bearing an appropriate inspirational message of 'This Moment Is Yours.' And it's right - this moment IS mine. With the two books freshly cracked open and ready to help me along my year of writing (and whatever comes my way), I'm happy and confident I'm on the 'write' track.

It takes three weeks to make or break a habit, a routine. I'm determined to see through to the end of January with my new goals and plans. I'm determined to not be so hard on myself, and know I will make-up setbacks in other ways, yet to not look at those 'setbacks' in a negative way, but as something to learn from and move forward with. I'm a busy office-worker/momma/wife/writer/archer. Among all those roles I lead, I look forward to planning my AuthorLife for 2017, and know that keeping track in one area of my life will only spill-over and result in positive and productive other areas of my life.

Love this book - I highly recommend it! Write on!

Find Bria Quinlan at www.briaquinlan.com

Want to know more about the book? Click here.

Find AuthorLife Planner 2017 on Amazon - click here.