My Pencil is Sharp But My Page is Blank

I have sharpened pencils, pens in every colour, notebooks aplenty, and a keyboard or two waiting to be used, and yet the page is still blank. It’s not writer’s block. I have plenty of ideas for stories. I have characters yelling at me to get back to work, and I know what I want them to do. The problem is that I’m distracted. There is no shortage of things for me to do. Every day I have a choice, and yet I choose to do anything but write.

Why am I so hesitant to get my next story written?

I think I know why. My plan was to get myself organised. Clean up my office, get year end over and done with, get caught up on my social media, get that basket of laundry ironed. The list went on and on. The truth is that I will never get myself organised to the point where I can take time off to write without feeling guilty.
I shouldn’t feel guilty. Writing shouldn’t be considered a guilty pleasure. Writing is a gift. Having a story to tell and having people who want to read my stories is a gift. I don’t take it for granted; I am in awe of it. When I receive emails or phone calls from readers who want to talk about my stories, I feel honoured. I enjoy answering questions and getting their opinions on my characters. I value their support and encouragement.

What’s the plan?

I’m a member of the local library’s writers’ group. Once a month we get together and read aloud something that we are working on. We give each other suggestions and support. At our last meeting, I read a story I was hesitant to complete. I felt that it may be too dark for my readers. However, the feedback the group gave me was enough to make me want to continue working on it. Will I work on it today? I hope so. I have other things to do, and yet I have marked in my day planner that I will take an hour or two to get some words written. It’s been awhile and I am looking forward to seeing what appears on my blank page.
How about you?

What do you do when the page is blank and you don’t know how to get back to writing?

Five Facts About Family Pictures

Family Pictures is published! Family Pictures is Jack’s story. It’s a contemporary romance, funny and steamy. To celebrate, I thought I would share five facts about Family Pictures.

  1. I started to write Family Pictures in 2011 when my daughter, Tiegan, asked me to write her a story. We were chatting on Facebook and Tiegan wanted to know when I would write something for her. I wrote about five chapters and sent them to her. I made it to sixteen chapters before I turned my attention to Love’s Promises and Love’s Games. Tiegan waited five years for her story to come, always asking me, “Is it done yet?”IMG_20140416_185244
  2. Adam Levine of Maroon 5 inspired me to write Jack’s story. I imagine Jack Thomas to sound like Adam Levine when he sings. I imagine Jack to be bigger than Adam, more muscular and taller. Jack is a younger version of his dad, Quinn Thomas.adam levine
  3. I don’t have a tattoo. Tattoos fascinate me and I collect pictures of them on Pinterest. However, I haven’t been interested in having one until lately. Tiegan surprised me with a fake tattoo one Christmas. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the shock of seeing it.IMG_20131225_102702
  4. I name my characters after people I know. Cat, Tigger and Rich are my children. I first used their names in Forever Love (with their permission) and have continued to add other friends and family members to my list of characters. There are four names in Family Pictures that are real names of people in my life.weddingparty
  5. I usually write to a playlist to help with setting the mood for various scenes. When writing Family Pictures, I didn’t listen to music. I suffered from migraines for over a year. Certain sounds, not volume, were quite painful to listen to. However, I found 2Cellos and instantly thought of Stevie. I will start listening to them soon when Stevie demands that her story gets told, which may be sooner than later.

Starting My Day Off Right

20160605_085025-1-1Every morning, before I sit at my desk and plan the day’s work, I make myself a pot of coffee, eat breakfast and sit outside and take in the sounds of the farm. I hear the birds chirping. We have barn swallows, robins, crows and starlings. I miss the coo of the mourning dove; it hasn’t made an appearance in awhile. Our neighbour has a rooster that sings his cock-a-doodle-doos all through the day. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to his cries.

I hear the tractors on the farm as they begin their day’s work; delivering feed to the cows is the top priority. I hear the moos of the cows in the maternity barn. This barn is a stone’s throw from my patio. I can tell when a cow is in labour; her moo is distinctive in its tone. I smile at the familiar sound of the milk truck as it makes its way to the dairy barn for its daily pick up.

Competing with these farm sounds is the traffic passing by our farm. Our once quiet road has become the main route for transport trucks heading to the highway. Cars and motorcycles add to the constant din that permeates the country air. It’s a noise that I try to ignore, yet cannot. Even from within the confines of my home, I cannot escape the constant sound of the tires against the pavement.

And yet, despite the noise and the encroachment of urban development, I would not trade my place with anyone. This is my home, my place of solitude, no matter what happens around me. I take comfort in knowing that the start to every day is unchanged. As long as the birds still chirp, the cows moo, and my cup of coffee is hot, all is right with my world.

Do You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

My book of story ideas.

My book of story ideas.

When you choose a book for reading, how much does the book’s cover influence your decision? If you read romance novels, do you prefer to see a half-naked couple locked in a lovers’ embrace? Do you want to see them kissing or do you prefer to see them gazing into each other’s eyes, that tentative moment before they kiss? Do you want the lovers to be real people or an artist’s drawing? Do you want to see a woman only? A man? Or no one at all because you want to imagine the characters and setting by what you read and not what you see.

 I ask these questions because I am currently deciding on the new cover for Family Pictures. When I first had the cover designed for Family Pictures, I hadn’t completed the story. I had an idea of what Jack looked like, and it wasn’t until he told me his story that I realized that Jack needed a makeover. He’s not the man I first envisioned. It’s a difficult decision because I have one chance to get it right with the prospective reader. I want the cover to be an exact representation of my book, or as close to it as I can get. It has to be a realistic image of my characters and hint at the story line.
 
 I want this because I know that I judge a book by its cover. When I read a book, I sometimes take a time out and look at its cover. Is the cover reflective of the characters in the book? Is the setting in the book a match to what the cover shows?
 
For those of you following me on social media, I’ve been using the original cover of Family Pictures. I hope you like the change when you see it later this summer.

There’s a Dragon in My Family Pictures

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While researching dragons, I came across various pictures, tattoos, and toys of the fearsome beasts. If you follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook, you will find the occasional picture or reference to the fantastic creature.

One Saturday afternoon, after running a few errands, I returned home with four cuties in my shopping bag. My original plan was to give them away when I started to promote Family Pictures’ release. However, I have become quite accustomed to the little fellows keeping watch in my office.

Family Pictures is a contemporary romance. It’s Jack’s story twenty-five years after he made his debut in Forever Love (2012). Jack grew up in a world full of fantasy and romance. Who could blame him for being a hopeless romantic with a father who is a Hollywood heart throb and a mother who writes best-selling romance novels? Jack’s the lead singer of the band Dragon Slayers. He’s a romantic who believes in love at first sight, dragons, knights and rescuing damsels in distress.

 Family Pictures will be available summer 2016.

I’m Back!

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I’m back! I didn’t know when the time would come that I could actually post these words. It’s been a very difficult year for me. Almost from the moment I last posted on this website, I was hit hard with severe migraines that were non-stop. I would wake up with a headache, try to survive the day in constant pain, and then go to bed with the pain still with me. I tried various therapies and drugs without getting any relief. One drug I took almost killed me. I was the unlucky one to get hit with every known side-effect the drug offered. I stopped taking the drug before I felt like killing myself.

So a year has passed and I’m beginning to feel like my old self. I’m still taking painkillers, however, I can go about my day without feeling like I have a headache. I don’t know if the headaches are gone or it’s the painkillers. Right now I don’t care. I have my life back. I can write.

I managed to finish Family Pictures, a contemporary romance. It’s part of the Forever Love serial. I revised it once and I know it needs more work. I don’t want to rush publishing it. My readers have been patient waiting for familypicturesbinderits release and I will make sure that the wait was worth it.

Family Pictures is Jack’s love story. He’s twenty-five years old, has his father’s movie star looks and his mother’s smile. Jack, the lead singer of Dragon Slayers, has the world for his taking and yet there is something that eludes him. Love. Jack’s story is about his quest to win a woman’s heart and her trust.

I promise to keep you updated on Family Pictures. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for posts, too.

 

 

Game #2 – Here Kitty Kitty

February Freebies is in its second day. I’m celebrating my one year anniversary winning a Tim Horton’s car and I am giving away prizes. You don’t have to read Forever Love, Love’s Promises, and Love’s Games to win, although I hope you will. Follow the love story of Quinn Thomas and Davina Stewart and the trials and tribulations of being married to one of Hollywood’s hottest heartthrobs. If you like to read hot and spicy contemporary romance, you’ll LOVE this series.

Yesterday’s game  went to the dogs, so it’s only fitting that today is for the cats. In Love’s Games, Quinn, who is allergic to cats, offers to buy Davi a cat. Pick your favourite hypoallergenic cat from the pictures below and give it a name. Bonus point if you can name the reality television couple Davi makes reference to more than once in the book. You can post your answers in the contact section of this website or you can email  your answers directly to debdee99@gmail.com

 

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In Celebration of Winning and Having Fun

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How would you like to win some fun prizes?
It’s February Freebie month. I’m celebrating my winning a Tim Horton’s car one year ago (February 21, 2014) and I thought I would play some games with you. They aren’t hard to play and everyone has a chance of winning (better than one in 7.7 million). I’ve got Tim Horton’s cards, swag (promos for my books) and other goodies to award.

The games will be based on my three published books: Forever Love, Love’s Promises, and Love’s Games. I may also include some tidbits on my two works in progress: Family Pictures and Love’s (to be determined). Don’t worry, the questions won’t be hard. There may also be some Valentine’s Day games.

I’m hosting the games on my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/deboraharmstrongauthorofromance

However if you aren’t on Facebook and you would like to play, you can play here on my website. All you have to do is leave a comment with your answer in the contact section of my website. I’ll announce the winners on Valentine’s Day. Good luck and have fun!

Game #1.

Davi’s got a new puppy. He’s a gift from Quinn’s nemesis, Ryan You Know Who. Which puppy did he give her? Bonus points if you name him and I choose that name.

 

 

Puppy #1. Some of you may recognize this little guy. I couldn’t resist posting his picture.

 

 

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Puppy #2. Who could resist this adorable face?

Puppy #3. Fun and mischief on four white paws.

 

 

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Puppy #4. He looks a bit sad. Nothing that a few hugs and treats won’t cure.

 

Stories From Just Down The Road – Courtesy of Dupont Pioneer Canada

In Forever Love, Love’s Promises and Love’s Games, you’ll read about my farm. I give you a tour of our barns and tell you about our cows, the Ladies. I am very proud of our family business, Armstrong Manor Farm. I am also proud of my family – my husband, my son and daughters, and my extended family who work so very hard to make our farm the success that it is.

I use my family and friends in my books and I have their permission to do so. Some family members are featured more than others, not because I have favourites, but it’s just the way their stories played out. I keep my friends’ placement in my books a secret so that they are pleasantly surprised when they come across themselves in the story. My husband jokes that he has the role of the dead husband. So not true. I did not write the character of Davina with myself in mind. However, I will admit that I wouldn’t mind trading in my boots and jeans to live a day in her shoes – the 5 inch heels that go perfectly with the David Paul designer gown at a star-studded gala.

In this video you will see my husband, Philip, and my son, Richard. It is a promotional video for Pioneer Sila-Bac 11CFT, a product we use in our corn silage (cattle feed).

June Newsletter

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He remembered everything about Rene and what

she liked – the smile that turned her on, the wink

that promised her more later, and the kiss that

made her drop to her knees willingly.

 

The Writing Game

Love’s Games is finally finished! I thought it would only take one lap around the course to complete the final draft. I was wrong. The game kept changing and with it the finish line. Blame Davi and Quinn. Blame Rene and her partner in crime (I’m not ready to reveal his name yet – contest winner has yet to be announced).

The rules of the story were quite clear. Give you, the reader, what you asked for – more of Davi and Quinn. The rules that Davi and Quinn play by may not be what you are expecting. They want to shake things up a bit and keep you and each other on edge. 

The players in the game are seasoned pros when it comes to love. They know what they’re doing, or at least they think they do. Love’s Games is about playing the game of love, win or lose, and discovering that winning isn’t everything and losing is – well, that’s for the reader to find out.

Love’s Games will be out later this summer. I promise. Thank you for your patience. There will be contests and give aways for book bling and free copies of Love’s Games.You are invited to follow me on Twitter and Facebook where I will be posting updates on a regular basis.


Happy Birthday To Me!

 

birthdaycakeThis week I turned fifty five. I don’t feel much different from my last birthday or from quite  a few that came before it. I still feel that my age is a frame of mind. If I didn’t see those around me aging, I wouldn’t see myself as getting older. Blame it on the kids. Seeing them change from teenagers to young adults is a reality check that time is passing quickly. Granted, the hair gets dyed more often and stores I used to shop in are no longer frequented. My taste in music hasn’t changed nor my taste in reading and movies. My friends have stayed the same, too. I’m in no rush to trade them in for new models. I like what I have.

Did I do anything different this past year that stood out from the rest? Of course I did! I won’t list my accomplishments in any order. Just as Quinn Thomas says of Davina, in Forever Love, I don’t rate anyone or anything higher than the rest. I love and cherish everything equally and treat everything and everyone as special. I won a car from Tim Hortons. Being that one in 7 million plus is a definite thrill. Being interviewed for tv, radio and print – another all time high. Becoming a mother-in-law for the first time is up there, too. Having my books mentioned on television – definite stand out moment. Having people recognize me from that television show and from my blogs – another rush. Being asked when Love’s Games is finally going to arrive is another thrill.

It’s three years ago this summer that I began my writing journey. Forever Love was just a thought of what ifs. What if someone met a Hollywood heartthrob on an airplane, what would happen next? What would happen if she were older? What about a pregnancy?  Love’s Promises continued the what ifs. What if something happened to threaten the happy ever after ending? Would the happy couple be able to survive it? Then there’s Love’s Games, the last of Davi and Quinn’s trilogy. It’s darker and still asks, what if someone risks the happily ever after for his or her selfish needs? What if the unexpected happens? Will love survive? Will there be a happy forever after?

Love’s Games is finished. I’m doing something different this time. I’m thinking about it before I rush to have it published. Why? Because it’s a bit different to what my readers may be used to.  I’ve asked my husband to read the story before I send it off to print. I want his opinion before I make the final commitment to publish. He knows my characters and my writing. I trust that he will give me honest and helpful feedback. After almost thirty-three years of marriage, I know that I can depend on him. What better birthday present to me than the words, “I love it!”

 

Latest Review

 

 

Blog Tour

 

While I’ve been putting the final touches on Love’s Games, I enrolled in a blog tour to promote my books. Blog tours are fun, stressful, time consuming, and educational. For one week, various bloggers will post my books by reviewing them or by simply advertising them on their page. Although Forever Love has been reviewed before, this is the first time that it has been blogged in such an awesome way. I use the word awesome because this blogger went all out (at least in my opinion) in presenting my story.

I invite you to check it out and leave a comment. Bloggers, just like authors, appreciate knowing that their work was read.

http://gwyneiirabookblog.weebly.com/home/blog-tour-review-forever-love-by-deborah-armstrong

What’s in a Car’s Name?

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It’s here! I have my car from Tim Horton’s. It’s beautiful. I’d like to give it a name and yet I’m not sure if my car is female or male. I haven’t felt its vibe yet and found out what he or she is all about.

I remember that my father named all of his cars Bessy. My car doesn’t look like a Bessy. Bessy sounds big and dependable, something for driving the family across the country during summer vacation. If my car is female, she’s hot and wild and likes to move in the fast lane. She’s awesome in every way possible. She definitely needs a name that reflects that. If it’s male, the name will have to be the name of a romantic hero. He’s got no choice in the matter.

My character, Davina Stuart, in Forever Love, calls her pickup truck Buddy. She loves him and takes great pride in him. She has a picture of him on her cellphone. Remember her fantasy with Quinn in the back of her pickup truck, looking down on Toronto from the Escarpment and getting hot and steamy underneath the stars?

In Forever Love, Quinn has fantasies that involve the backseat of his limo. I don’t know if he has a name for that limo. He also drives a Black VW Beetle, one he loves and wants to share with Davi. He probably has a name for it. He definitely refers to the bug as she. And then there’s his Porsche. The one we get to experience in Love’s Promises, the one where he and Davi have fast and furious lovemaking for the very first time. In Love’s Games, Rene Adams thinks Quinn drives his Porsche because he’s not ready to be a family man. When Quinn tells her the real reason behind holding onto his beloved Porsche, she is floored by his response.

I’m looking forward to spending time with my car and getting to know it. Whether it’s male or female, I know we’ll have a great time getting to know each other.

I’m Back and I Have News!

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The winning cup!

I’ve been bad and I have to apologize for my absence. There are no excuses only reasons, if that makes any sense to you. After coming home from a wonderful holiday with my hubby, I have been thrown into a whirlwind of work, writing and winning!

I promised posts from my holiday about real romance – they are still to come. The free wifi was only available one hour a day and quite often I missed my window of opportunity to post. I managed to write most of Love’s Games. It took a short holiday to Florida with my daughter to finish the remainder. Now it’s on to a final read through to make sure my story works for me. I am hoping for a late April or May release of this year.

I will be at the Chapters Square One in Mississauga on Friday March 28th from 6-9pm signing copies of Forever Love and Love’s Promises. I’ll also be able to give a few tidbits on Love’s Games. I’m very excited!

To add to my excitement, I played Tim Horton’s Roll Up the Rim and won a 2014 Toyota Corolla Sport! There’s a story in this. My daughter, Caitlin, needed to go to the ER at the Brampton Civic Hospital. Don’t worry – she’s fine. While we waited, we enjoyed a Tim’s coffee and tea and my cup happened to be a winner. It didn’t take long before the press got wind of the news and Caitlin and I were interviewed by CBC tv news, local newspapers, and CBC Radio and CFRB Radio.

Now I am busy catching up on my office work and getting my paperwork organized for the accountant – tax time will be here sooner than I’d like.

So – that’s what I’ve been up to. I will try to post on a regular basis. I have issues with time management. I’d rather be writing and socialing than getting the “real” work done.

Talk to you soon.

Oh yes – my cup was a large and the winning rim was the regular rim, not the bonus rim.

Romance Writer on Holiday – Day One

Since I write hot and steamy romance, people either assume two things about me. One, that I have a very healthy sex life, I am knowledgeable in the sexual content about which I write and that I am very open minded. Two, I live a frustrated life, my sex life sucks and the only way I can get enjoyment is to write about sex – at least someone is getting it. Well, much to my husband’s pride and joy, I write about romance and sex because I enjoy romance and I’m getting it at home. I realize that as I write this, my adult daughters may read this at some time. That’s alright with me. They read my books before I published them and they must know by now that I had to have had sex at least three times for them and their brother to exist. But I digress. My intention for this blog is to write about the real romance that happens when an author of romance takes a holiday.

My husband and I are in Punta Cana, enjoying the heat and the sun and the endless supply of rum based drinks. It’s a working holiday for me and a pleasure holiday for him. Yes, I’m here for pleasure, too, however I also have a work in progress to complete and various blogs and website updates to do. So, as I’m here sitting by the pool on a hot Dominican Republic afternoon, I’m writing this blog as my wonderfully supportive and incredibly sexy husband sits beside me while reading his book. He waits patiently for me to finish so that we can go for that long awaited romantic walk on the beach. A walk on the beach should be impulsive, although it is difficult to do when one of the members of the couple has a very expensive laptop stowed away in her beach bag. Once this blog is done, we will retreat to our room where my laptop will be stored away and I can then walk the beach with my honey, hand in hand. Visions of Chapter One Love’s Promises fill my head.

Reason for taking this holiday – hubby finally had enough of working without a week’s holiday since March of 2013. My reason – I needed time to reconnect with hubby and time to finish my third book – Love’s Games. I told everyone this would be a working holiday, so I had better show something by the time I return home.

So, here it is – my first romantic moment while on holiday. You’ve all read it in some romance novel, or seen it on the silver screen. The couple has just arrived at their resort and enters their hotel suite. The bed has already been prepared for them. The maid has turned down the bed, the chocolates have been placed on their pillows, the lights have been dimmed for atmosphere, oh, and the piece de resistance – the bed has been covered in rose petals. Hot passionate sex ensues. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination – you’ve read about it so many times before Think about Quinn and Davi. I know that I do.

Here’s what happens in the author’s world. The bed has been prepared, including rose petals strewn throughout the bed. Hot passionate sex ensues and then, well you can imagine the rest. As we make our way to our obligatory post-coital cuddle, my husband exclaims, “Oh, great, your period has started.”

I’m in shock since I haven’t had a period in five months and there was no signal to let me know that it might be making its appearance. I curse under my breath as I imagine Mother Nature standing beside the bed with the white box just for me. Do you remember that television commercial for Tampax or Playtex? Don’t worry, Mother Nature, I came prepared. I look down at the bloody mess only to find that it’s not bloody and it’s not red, but purple.

“It’s not me,” I exclaim with relief. “It’s the rose petals. And your balls are purple, too.”

Rose petal stains marked our sheets. Wherever our bodies pressed against the red velvet, their colour bled into the clean white sheets. Our sheets were bloodier than any surprise period I’ve ever had. It was a roadmap for a nose bleed, period, and blood letting from both arms. There was no hiding from the maid what we’d been up to. I can only hope that she’s seen worse, or she has a perverse sense of humour. Nevertheless, I made sure we left a good tip so that we’d have clean sheets in the morning.

Well, it’s getting late and we need to fit our walk in before happy hour. In my next post I’ll tell you how our romantic walk turned out. I’m looking forward to re-enacting Quinn and Davi’s walk along the beach in Aruba.

Wishing you romance from Punta Cana – Deb

 

National Women’s Show – Toronto – Romance, Hormones and Other Things

deb 003This past weekend I had the opportunity to share a booth with three amazing ladies at the National Women’s Show in Toronto where we promoted our very different but connected products. Marlene, a life and career coach, assists people in making life and career choices. Sonia promotes healthy living through essential oils. Kelly, a pharmacist, focuses on getting our hormones working naturally. I, of course, sell hot and spicy romance novels. It was interesting how we were able to successfully pitch all four of our products to passers-by.

Kelly’s banner was the eye catcher, reading something like, “Kathy age 32 was heading for divorce. She couldn’t sleep, was gaining weight and her sex life was non-existent.” Women would stop, point and say, “That’s me.” Then they would see my Love’s Promises banner showing a naked man and woman in a lover’s embrace and then say, “That’s what I want.”  One of us would approach them and introduce our group. We had a system that enabled us to connect with our visitors.

Over three days, we met and spoke with many women. I was surprised to learn that so many women were going through menopause and suffering. I was shocked to hear of those who unknowingly let their hormones affect their sex life and their marriage. As a romance writer, I was saddened by the number of women who no longer had a sex life and those who didn’t believe in romance, loving relationships (unless it was with a pet) and who didn’t think there was a decent man out there in the world. Many of them had suffered and were still suffering alone.

I had the opportunity to talk about romance and sex in real terms and not just in the fantasy world of romance. Women would ask me what I thought worked in the bedroom and what I would do to get the passion burning again. I write about what I know and so I talked about what I knew from my own experience. I talked easily, never lecturing, and I listened.  We knew the same bedroom games, the way to a man’s heart and more. We knew what we liked and wanted in the bedroom, too. Sometimes all a woman needed was one of us to offer her our support and encouragement.

Oh, and I did sell some of my books. Our dairy farm was on Toronto’s Breakfast Television show in July of this year and I was fortunate to be given a few minutes with Jennifer Valentyne. Women approached me at our booth and said, “You’re Deborah Armstrong and I saw you on tv! I read your first book and I’m a fan! I want to buy the next one.”  It was a thrilling experience to be recognized and to be told that my stories were loved. I chatted about my farm and my characters. I talked about my family and friends who support my writing and allow me to use them in my stories. I shared the writing experience and what it is like to self-publish. I talked about my stories that are still in progress. I was asked to write a love story with a lesbian side. Already looked after. Stay tuned.

Now, I’m back at home checking emails, updating my Facebook status and tending to my real world that was put on hold while I was away. The house has been tidied, groceries have been bought and bills have been paid. I met with Kelly this afternoon and discussed hormones and other things. I spent time with my family over the dinner hour and I gave my husband a hug and a kiss just because I wanted to. Enjoy your week and take care of yourself in every way.

 

 

Giving Thanks

  • I am thankful every day.
  • I am thankful that I wake up and the aches and pains I feel are familiar and not new.
  • I am thankful that my calico cat is happy to greet me every morning – even if it is to be served her breakfast.
  • I am thankful for food in my fridge and pantry.
  • I am thankful for coffee – strong with cream.
  • I am thankful for my family, my friends and for friends yet to be made.
  • I am thankful for the gathering of friends and family and for the gift of conversation.
  • I am thankful that I am able to go to the gym three times a week and that I can do the weight lifting and cardio my 80 year old trainer throws at me.
  • I am thankful for the gift of being able to write, even though it seems to hide from me from time to time.
  • I am thankful for the support of my friends and family. Their encouragement means the world to me.
  • I am thankful for my farm, my home and my refuge.
  • I am thankful for my freedom and my right to choose.
  • I am thankful for knowing love, for being loved and for having the opportunity to love.

See You at the Brampton Fall Fair

It’s that time of year again. The Brampton Fall Fair is fast approaching. The weather forecast doesn’t look great (what’s new?), and the excitement in our household builds for the Demolition Derby.

I’ll be there promoting my books. Last year, I debuted Forever Love. I was touched by the tremendous support the community showed me by dropping by my booth, talking with me about romance, and by purchasing my book. This year, I will  be selling Forever Love and Love’s Promises, the second in the series. I will also have the cover of Love’s Games, the third book in the Quinn and Davi series, to debut. Love’s Promises has been so well received, and the characters of Davi and Quinn so well loved, that I was asked to give my readers another story.

I have had three stories waiting to be completed. Love’s Games is one of them and Family Pictures is another. This summer, my plan was to finish Love’s Games and get it ready for publishing for Christmas. I doubt if that plan will be realized. I won’t blame my son’s August wedding for the delay. Nor will I blame the weather and its affect on the farm. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get the time to write for more than a few hours a week.

However, I am optimistic. I managed to write two chapters on the weekend while I revised the story. I’m getting closer to the end and I look forward to finally reaching it.   I’m also optimistic about the fair. There is so much to share with everyone – I have a beautiful booth designed by my multi-talented BF Paula, I have my books, and I have goodies. I love sharing goodies, whether they’re home made baked goods, candies, or little promos for my books.

So, if you happen to be in the area, come to the fair. Drop by and see me and pick up a goodie or two. Maybe I’ll let you in on what’s going to happen in Love’s Games. You can always read the excerpt I posted on Facebook. I think you’ll like it.

 

The Perfect Love Story

On Friday, we welcomed a new member to our family. Our son, Richard, married Bethany – a beautiful woman who brings a smile to our face and warms our hearts whenever we are with her. She is kind, considerate and loving.

All of the guests at the wedding could see how much Richard loves Beth. The goofy wave and smile he gave her as she waited in the church foyer to make her entrance. There was no display of nerves or second thoughts. This is what Richard had been waiting for – to marry the love of his life. His focus was on her to let her know that this was all that mattered – the two of them exchanging their vows and beginning their life together as husband and wife.

Their’s is the perfect love story. A chance meeting through friends with the timing never quite right for them to get together until that moment when Fate decided it was time. Then falling in love, knowing that they had found their life’s partner. To top it off, they had the perfect wedding and reception. The day was a celebration of love, family, friends and of happily ever afters. No one wanted the day to end, reluctant to say goodnight to the happy couple and their love that touched us so deeply.

Congratulations, Richard and Beth. All the best to you forever. Mom

Richard & Bethany

 

Just Another Day

I think that I suffer from some sort of attention deficit disorder. Not to make light of this, if any of you suffer from it, but on a daily basis my attention wanders. I make mental goals for myself – clear off my desk, finish this paper work, call so and so – and then it happens. A scene pops into my head and in that moment all else is forgotten. I play out the scene from beginning to end with dialogue included. I run through it a few times to burn it into my memory so that when I sit down at my computer I can  recreate the scene as best I can.

My goal for this weekend is to get the office work done so that July will start with a clean slate. This goal lasted twenty minutes before an idea for a book cover popped into my head. I emailed Katherine Auty and asked her to put something together. She did. Not quite satisfied with what she found for me, I searched the web myself, looking for that one picture that would pop out at me and tell me that it was The Book Cover photo for me. I found it. Then I emailed my find to Katherine. That job was now safely in her hands, leaving me free to carry on with my work.

I went upstairs to brush my teeth. A dialogue ran through my head. Yes! I have to put that in the second chapter – bathtub scene, talking about love, marriage, games. I run it through my head with every brush stroke and spit. Finished, I go downstairs, change a load of laundry and then head back to my office. I’ve forgotten the exact wording of my dialogue, but I find the chapter and the page where I want to insert the scene. I don’t know how much time has passed, but I know it’s substantial. My office work still remains unfinished.

I stop working to run some errands. I return home exhausted. I lie down for a power nap and the scene revisits me with improvements. I fall asleep thinking of airplanes and phone calls. I wake up and head downstairs. The tv is on. The Blue Jays are playing in Boston. My son and his buddies are in Boston to see the game as part of his bachelor weekend away. I watch the game, hoping that I might see the gang and quickly forget about airplanes and phone calls and watch the game for four hours.

Katherine sends me an email with two potential cover designs. Yes! We have a winner. Now I know I’m committed to the story line if I use that cover. More incentive to get writing. Supper is finished, Philip is at the barn checking on something, and so I head downstairs to my computer. Instead of writing, I become distracted. I check my emails, Facebook postings and play a game or two of Solitaire Blitz. Maroon 5 is playing on my iTunes. I’m now in the mood to write. It’s time.

But wait. I haven’t blogged  in awhile. I’d better post something. What should I write about? I don’t know. I let my mind wander. . .

It looks like it worked. I have my blog. Now it’s time to get back to my story. Bathtub and games or airplanes and phone calls? I’ll see what happens if and when I get there.

 

This one’s for Jess

Jessica is near and dear to my heart. She is one of my daughter Caitlin’s best friends. I have known Jessica since she became classmates with Caitlin in middle school. I have followed Jessica’s life through her school years, college, and now as she makes her way in the world as a registered massage therapist. The two of us share a love of Johnny Depp, pirates, Dr. Who and the Twilight series. We both love to travel, although we have never traveled together. Jessica doesn’t believe in visiting the same place twice while I am all for return visits.

Jess has been following me since she found out that I was writing a novel. She was most likely the first person who ordered an ebook copy from Kobo of Forever Love and then she came to my first book signing to buy a softcover of the same book. Jessica follows me on Facebook and Twitter. She sends me pictures of my book travelling along with her. I have a picture of Forever Love at the Toronto International airport and on an Alaskan cruise. Today I received a picture of the snack counter at the airport with the caption, “Got junk?”, a reference to Davi’s requirements for airplane travel in Love’s Promises.

Jessica loves the fact that my kids are in my books and that their characters and mannerisms are reflected perfectly. She laughed at one of the events portrayed in Love’s Promises because she was there when it happened.  I wonder what Jessica will think when she reads Family Pictures. Although the book isn’t finished, and the characters are not fully developed, I have my Jess. She’s self-assured, opinionated, shoots from the hip and loves pirates. She’s the best friend the heroine could ever want (sorry, Jess, you’re not the heroine – this time) and she plays a major role in getting the heroine her man. She is as important to my story line as she is to my life’s story. Her absence would be noticed and truly missed.

Today, Jess heads out on holiday for another one of her adventures. I wish her a fun and safe trip. I wish her many adventures and entertaining stories to tell on her return. I hope she finds her Quinn – whether it’s on the plane, the tour bus, or a seat in an Irish pub. Not that Jessica is looking for that someone special, far from it. It’s only me dreaming about another romance – one that would make a great story, real or imagined, this time with her as the heroine.

 

 

For Tiegan

I am being hounded by my youngest daughter. Every day she looks at me with those expectant eyes as though I can magically produce the object of her desire. I can give her what she wants, however it will take time.

Tiegan wants to read my third book. I have given her three choices – a third book in the Davi and Quinn love story, Family Pictures and Cat’s Tale. Tiegan wants Cat’s Tale because she knows nothing about it. She has read the first drafts, although unfinished, of the first two manuscripts. Although she loves the stories, she wants to be surprised.

My daughter is resourceful. She has joined Pinterest so that she can look at my storyboard. She follows me on Twitter, Instagram  and Facebook looking for any tidbit on what I’m writing. She will stand behind me as I work at my computer, looking at my toolbar to see what windows I have open, hoping she sees the one for a work in progress.

Everyday she asks me how my day was. I know it has nothing to do with anything but my writing. She doesn’t care if I had a good work out at the gym. She doesn’t really care if I lost another pound or if I cheated and ate some chocolate. She wants the story and only that.

Well, Tiegan, today is your day. While you laze in bed on this beautiful Saturday morning, I am in my office writing for you.

 

Watching television with my husband

You would think that after 32 years of marriage, I would know how my husband Philip’s mind works and he mine. Every day we surprise each other and most of the time it’s worth a chuckle or two.

Last night we were watching the latest season of Homeland.  The setting doesn’t vary much – we’re either at CIA headquarters, a surveillance stakeout, or someone’s bedroom. I know there are more sets, but that’s not the point. Anyway, as we’re watching the show I point out to him that I like the bedroom furniture in one of the character’s bedrooms and we should think about upgrading to that style.  He turned and looked at me with that deer-in-the-headlights look.

“What? he asked with incredulity.

“The bedroom furniture,” I answered. “I like it.”

“What bedroom furniture?”

“The bed they’re having sex on.”

“Who looks at the furniture?” he asked me.

“It’s a sleigh bed. I like it.”

“What’s a sleigh bed?”

I shook my head and smiled. For as long as I have known this man, he can read a book and watch television at the same time and never miss a thing except for commercials. They don’t sink in with him. All the funny ones or stupid ads that make me wonder aloud what the message is, he misses. He doesn’t take in unnecessary information. I guess it’s the same with furniture in a scene, especially a sex scene. Who looks at the furniture when there’s something else more interesting going on?

I, on the other hand, take it all in. I make mental notes – notes for my home – check out the master bedroom furniture. Notes for my book – nice dialogue. They did it right. Notes for conversation with friends – Have you been watching Homeland? Great story, huh? Do you think their marriage will last?

Tonight we will continue watching the series. I don’t know if there will be another bedroom scene for us to watch, and I am sure that Philip will once again not be looking at the furniture. Maybe I’ll ask him about the cars being driven. I really like that deer-in-the-headlights look.

 

April is the Hardest Month

I will be happy to see the end of April. I don’t usually like to see the days of the month pass by me. I like to hold on to every day as though it were my last. This year, April has been different. It has been stressful and I don’t like to be stressed.

Sure, it’s tax time and we all have to get our income taxes prepared. There is always a bit of stress when getting the tax receipts gathered and the income and expense sheet prepared for the accountant. I cross my fingers and hope that I don’t owe too much this year.

The stressful part about April has been the publication of Love’s Promises. I have struggled this month with copy editing and customer service reps who should not be in customer service. I have tried to be patient. I have tried to be polite. I have tried to be understanding. On a few occasions I have failed.

I think of a phrase my father always used on us at the dinner table – “Don’t say it unless it’s nice, necessary and true.” This month I have been tested to find the nice. My complaints have been warranted, however conveying them while being nice has proved difficult. I hung up on someone because she wouldn’t transfer me to my marketing rep. I sent an email to my marketing rep with the comment, “Give me a break here.” when the press release she wanted me to endorse about my book didn’t have me listed as the author, but someone else. I have practically shouted, “You have got to be kidding!” at other reps, incredulous at their incompetence.

There are some good things about April. It hasn’t been completely bad – birthdays to celebrate, great sales of Forever Love and the arrival of Spring.

Now I am getting ready for a busy Spring and Summer. There is so much to look forward to – my book release, my son’s wedding and the birth of my grand niece or nephew. Hurry up Spring. And April? Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

Writer’s Block – It’s not me, it’s them.

I’m suffering from writer’s block and it’s not my fault. I blame my publisher for not being as quick and efficient as it showed itself to be with Forever Love. In a matter of weeks, I had my copy edit completed, my book galley designed and a hard copy of Forever Love in my hands awaiting my approval for its release.

This time it’s not happening. I am being blocked at every turn. My manuscript was lost in an email void over Christmas. Then my manuscript was copy edited by someone unfamiliar with the use of prepositions in the English language. I made the copy editing corrections while away on holidays then sent it back to have it re-read. It’s been weeks and I have yet to have anything returned to me. My release date keeps getting delayed. I’m chomping at the bit to have a hard copy of Love’s Promises in my hands.

I have grown impatient and a bit testy. A rep from the company called and wanted me to sign on to promote Forever Love. “I want my second book printed first!” I yelled at him over the telephone. “I want to publicize both books not just the first one.” He told me that it wasn’t his job to be connected with the second book.
I told him that it should be because I was a very frustrated client and I wasn’t getting the service I expected.

I called my rep today only to get blocked by the operator. She asked me questions that shouldn’t have been asked. She delayed me by complaining about the computer not being up and running. “All I want is his extension number!” I said angrily over the phone.

She gave it to me, surprised that I would ask for something so simple. and then she said that my rep was out to lunch. They all are in more ways than one.

I’m waiting for that return phone call and I’m still very much feeling blocked.

Thanks for letting me vent.

‘via Blog this’

Vegas, Baby!

Travelling with a baby to Vegas – easy as a walk in the park or a a trek up Mount Everest with one hi-tech stroller, one Super Mom armed with passport and signed permission form from daddy, and two strong Sherpas to pull four suitcases behind them. Getting there is easy. A smiling baby opens so many doors for you at the airport. You get moved to the head of the line at security. You get to board the plane first. There’s no waiting. Although, I must admit I was surprised that the flight attendants didn’t give us a few minutes to get the car seat strapped into place before the rest of the passengers boarded. We were a bit rushed. Take note West Jet.

Mom knew all the tricks for flying – new toys, banana flavoured pablum biscuits that taste like paste, favourite soother or soo soo as Mom calls it, and the ever popular breast for nursing. Our beautiful bouncing seven month old  visited and gave her best gurgles and smiles to strangers (mostly good looking young men). The four and one half hours literally flew by.

Then the real work began. I didn’t realize how much had changed about looking after babies in twenty-two years. Babies no longer get to taste real food until they are at least one year old – no cracker to gum to death, no milk, nothing that tastes like real food. Baby food, formula or mother’s milk were all our little mite could eat. No blankets when sleeping either – in case of SIDS. Baby now sleeps in a baby’s sleeping bag at night. I was surprised that I still knew how to change a diaper. Diapers have improved. The waist band has velcro – no more ripping apart a diaper to check on wetness. Wipes haven’t changed and neither has the baby’s cream to prevent diaper rash. I guess there’s not much that can change when dealing with poop.

And we did deal with poop. Baby hadn’t pooped in days. Mommy was fixated with baby’s lack of bowel movements. She was singing songs to baby to get her to poop. We fed baby lots of pureed fruit to get the movement going. Then Mom left us for the day to go to work. That’s when the poop hit the proverbial fan. And she pooped and she pooped. Sherpa Two didn’t handle diapers or crying baby, only happy baby. Sherpa One got diaper detail and bottle detail. Sherpa One showed Sherpa Two how it’s done.

We really couldn’t do Vegas with a baby in tow, but we still had fun. We cruised the strip with our hi-tech stroller and walked through various casinos: Caesar’s, The Mirage, The Flamingo, Paris, The Venetian – the list goes on.There was no stopping to gamble.  No underage gamblers allowed. We saw the casinos at warp speed as we pushed our hi tech stroller sometimes sans baby as one of us often volunteered to carry baby and show her off. We were in awe, Super Mom and I, as we watched Sherpa Two walk through the crowd holding baby in her arms. Both beauties were catching many a passers’ by eye as they cut their way through the crowd. Both were smiling and looking so relaxed as they made their way through the crowd. They owned that sidewalk.

Our schedule worked on baby time. Eating, sleeping, play time and work time were all controlled by this little   one. Super Mom would apologize for the constant change in plans, but her apologies were unnecessary. Who could blame baby for not wanting to miss out on all the action. We were in Vegas, baby!

To be continued…

What’s Your Dream?

The other night I attended a Ladies’ Night where the guest speaker was Diane Mentiply, the National Sales Director (US) for Mary Kay Cosmetics. The purpose of the evening was to inspire all of us to set goals for ourselves and achieve them. It was obvious by some of the Mary Kay reps who were in attendance that they were doing just that.

The audience was filled with women wearing coloured jackets. The jackets represented level of sales, number of sales reps recruited and goals achieved. Forgive me if I don’t have this quite right. Red signified one level within the organization, black another, and a leopard print dress with a black jacket another level. The speaker, whose ranking was the highest of those attending, wore a stylish black and gold suit. Some of these ladies also drove pink Cadillacs or pink Ford Escalades. These women were the high achievers who were living their dream.

Diane Mentiply is a very dynamic speaker. She talked about many things, but what impressed me was how she focused on setting goals for ourselves and being happy with the choices we make in our lives. I realize that the evening’s focus was to pump up the sales reps and to recruit new members to the Mary Kay organization, but her message was for everyone attending. Choose to do something you enjoy and that fulfills you. Choose a path where your priorities are kept in the proper order – faith, family and then your career. Don’t just work to survive. Easy words to say when eighty per cent of the work force works just to survive.

I didn’t jump on the bandwagon and sign up to sell Mary Kay products. I love what I am doing with my life right now. Although I may feel rushed and pressed for time, I am in no hurry to make a change. I love my volunteer work. I love working for the farm. I love writing my books. I’m not living the dream life. My life is not perfect, but for the time being, I am happy with this reality. When I dream, I dream about future stories and my family. I dream about weddings and grandchildren and happily ever afters. These are my kind of dreams.

Does anyone make a New Year’s resolution anymore? I think we all know that after a month or less, whatever we had resolved to do, determined to make it happen, do or die, it wasn’t meant to be. It doesn’t matter – a new diet, working out more, reading more, watching less television, spending more time with our family or phoning our mother – we program ourselves to fail. We live a life of busyness. We can barely fit in what we do on a regular basis. How can we possibly expect ourselves to change what we’re doing to accommodate doing more or less of something else? And yet we still try.

I’ve cut out bread and limited my wheat intake to the occasional pasta dish. I keep my snacks down to a handful of almonds and fresh fruit. I drink my water and have only one coffee per day. I’ve added an extra half hour to each visit to the gym ( three times a week). I PVR the Bold and Beautiful and Coronation Street so I save on time spent in front of the television. The remainder of my television viewing time is reserved for late evening when I am totally exhausted and cannot do anything else.

I don’t make lists of all the things I need to do. I know what has to be done and I know that I will get as much done in a day as I possibly can, but I don’t hold myself to a deadline. The work gets done as quickly as I can do it. My office is tidier – a definite sign that I am catching up.

I bought myself a new cell phone phone. I am now connected to the world. I can now access all of my email accounts, Facebook pages, blog, and Twitter. I am accessible to everyone, working on increasing my followers. I no longer have the excuse that I only use my cellphone for emergencies. I downloaded Kindle and Kobo to my phone. I am reading again. There is not one game downloaded onto my phone. I am very proud of this since I can be distracted very easily.

I haven’t looked at Family Pictures in awhile. My publishing rep emailed me today to check on its progress. I have no idea when I’ll have it finished. Love’s Promises is with the publisher. I’ve chosen my cover and only need to think of something for the back cover, inside page and the dedication. I have time for getting that chore done. I have another story niggling at me. I can’t acknowledge it yet. It will still have to whisper to me as I try to fall asleep at night and wake me in the morning before Chloe, my cat, demands to be fed so that she can start her day. “Feed me.I’m family. I’m important,” is what I’m sure she’s telling me as she meows at me from the hallway.

She’s right. Family first. So, as I’m finishing this post, I’m thinking of turning off the computer, turning off the lights and spending a half hour with my family before it’s time for bed. We’ll watch Peter Manbridge tell us the news or opt for the hilarity of a Graham Norton show. It doesn’t matter as long as the last thing I do at night is spend some quality time with the people most important to me. The rest will just have to wait their turn – the reading, the working and the whispering.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my mom’s birthday. She is 85 years old and is still going strong.

My mom and I look nothing alike. She is a petite 5’4″ blonde now silver gray. I am 5’9″, brunette and XLovable in size. I attribute my height and colouring to my dad and my long skinny legs to my mom, both of which I will be eternally grateful. My mom and I have a lot in common, though she does it best. Gardening, playing the piano, baking and doing crossword puzzles.

As my life became busier, I gave up on the gardening, played the piano less often, and baked only when I had to, but the crosswords are still a daily activity for me. When I take my coffee break in the morning, I find the crossword in the morning paper and attempt to finish it off at one go. Rarely does this happen, but I try.
Mom and I have always finished each other’s crosswords. For as long as I can remember, every visit to her home eventually found me going through her Toronto Star crossword and filling in the blanks she couldn’t. Then I’d move on to the jumble puzzle – always a favorite of ours. Mom does this to me, too. for Christmas this year I received the New York Times Sunday Crossword book. It’s hell on paper. The clues are vague and the answers are harder to find. Mom found the book and scoffed at me when I told her how hard this book was. Nothing was too hard for her. She filled in a few squares then put the book down. I didn’t ask her if she found it hard. We had Christmas visiting to do.

Last night, as I was watching television, I picked up the book and found the page Mom had worked on. Her familiar handwriting in the small squares made me smile. I tried to work around her words, but I couldn’t get anything to work, and so I cheated. I looked in the back for the answers. Mom was wrong. What one may wear in winter was not PARKAS but LAYERS. Now I could go on a solve the puzzle. Not! It’s still hell on paper and I am lucky to fill in two answers without looking at the answer section.

Back from Holidays!

I enjoyed my Christmas holidays. I didn’t work. I didn’t sit at my computer and try to write the next chapter of Family Pictures. I didn’t even read a book! I indulged in a guilty pleasure and sat in front of the Philip’s seventy inch television screen and watched videos.

It all started with a Korean dramatic series entitled Coffee Prince. It’s eighteen shows long and it is a very adorable romance. Caitlin and Sunny got me started watching it on Christmas Eve day and I had to watch the rest of the series on Boxing Day and the next day.

When this series ended, Tiegan brought in Sons of Anarchy – the first two seasons. Well,  Philip and I both got hooked and we watched both seasons with Tiegan over four days. We needed season three immediately thereafter and found it. Once that was completed, we searched the stores for season four. Tiegan was our life saver and brought that one home for us. It was finished in two days. Now what to do? Season five wasn’t in the stores yet. Eureka! A cousin had downloaded it and we made quick use of the downloads in three days. Season six doesn’t air until September. We’re done. For a while.

Now we wait for the regular series to start back on HBO – Dexter, the Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire and I’m sure there are one or two I can’t remember.Philip can sit in his comfy chair and read from his Kobo while he listens to the news or watches some silly television show. Tiegan will stay in her room studying or keep him company in the family room while she watches a Korean drama on her laptop. Caitlin will mark homework or watch her own Korean shows on her laptop. And me? Well, I’ll be downstairs in my office, trying to catch up on long overdue computer work, or thinking of the next chapter in Family Pictures, wondering how to get Molly and Jack to their happily ever after.

Love’s Promises is with the publisher now. I am waiting on the copy editing and then the galley proof. I’ll also have to choose a book cover. I hope I can have the book in my hands for February.

There’s more to tell, but I’ll save that for another blog. I’m happy I had the chance to write this.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas holiday. I hope you had time to relax and enjoy spending time with your family. All the best to you in 2013.

Deb

Almost There

I’m almost there. Almost ready to say, “It’s finished. The book is done and is ready for publication.”

I”m almost there. Almost ready to ask, “What’s next?”

I’m almost there. Almost ready to ask, “Should I?”

I’m almost there. Almost ready to say, “Yes, go for it.”

I’m almost there. Almost ready to say, “Make sure.”

I’m almost there. Almost ready to ask, “Why now when I haven’t done it before?”

I’m almost there. Almost ready to say, “Because.”

I’m almost there. Almost ready to tell you all about it.

Almost….

Mom, what is it that you actually do?

My eldest daughter thinks I spend too much time on my computer. Actually, she says that I spend too much time on Facebook. I tell her it’s work related, but she doesn’t believe me when I share posts on her page regarding the Zombie Apocalypse.

I have 123 actual friends on Facebook. My page for Forever Love has 487 Likes which means that I receive posts from 123 people and 487 people read my posts on Forever Love. That’s a lot of reading material whichever way you look at it.

I read posts that are funny, informative and personal. I pass on the posts I think relate to my friends, my family or my writing. I hide the posts I don’t want taking up valuable space on my page. All the time that I am busy on Facebook, I find links that are invaluable to me for promoting my writing. I find websites that offer free reviews. Others offer free or cheap promotion for authors. I find websites of authors who write in my genre or whose genre I like to read. I subscribe to newsletters, blogs, and contests. I make friends and drop some. I add comments to other’s posts. I keep myself in the loop.

I have eight windows open on my two computer screens as I write this. All but two are related to writing. Accounting software doesn’t count unless writing a cheque counts as actual writing. My iTunes window should count as writing related, since I have playlists related to my characters, but I don’t actually type any words in, so I won’t count it.

I have four email accounts. Two are business related while the other two are for me and my book. It takes about an hour every morning to sort through my emails, print the important business ones out for my husband, read and file my own and trash the rest that have come in over the evening. Throughout the day, I check for the emails that will make my day – book reviews.

Today I revised two chapters of Love’s Promises, entered one book contest, joined www.manicreaders.com, read a new review of my book on Goodreads (the reviewer would have given me 5 stars except for my numerous errors with capitalization and such -what?), checked out my Amazon.com site, followed an author’s blog, and made contact with the local library to donate copies of Forever Love (car trip tomorrow).

While I’ve been doing all of the above, I have done the dishes, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, washed two loads of laundry and planned my dinner menu for tonight ( something Zombie Apocalypse daughter can take to work tomorrow for her lunch).

And this is what I do. Stay Calm. Write On.

Let’s do the Time Warp again!

I was caught in a time warp and have lost the past two weeks. I looked at the date of my last blog – September 5th. Surely, I’ve posted something since then? Apparently not, so it must be the time warp.
I’ve done the step to the right and the step to the left and the rest but I can’t seem to get back to September 5th. Oh well, no sense in worrying about it. I’m sure I’ll remember what I’ve been up to.

Oh yes, before I forget – I had a thirty minute medical exam over the telephone. A nurse asked me questions about my health. I was asked about every known disease known to man, asked about my medication, hospital visits and surgeries in the past five years. That part was easy. It was the memory tests. What a wonderful stressful invention. I’ll try it on you. Here is a list of ten words. Read them through once then continue with reading my blog.

CLOCK
AMOUNT
FLOOD
LAYER
RESPECT
DOUBLE
SPACE
SPORT
THREAT
SCALE

I’ve added a picture of me at WOTS as filler for the page.

We had a a family wedding. It seems like ages since we had a family get together that was so much fun. The food was delicious, the liquor flowed, the dance floor was packed and the company was entertaining. Oh yes, the bride was a princess in her bejeweled strapless gown and the groom was handsome. And the mother of the bride (my sister) looked her fabulous gorgeous self. The flower girls and ring bearer were cute, too. I applaud the time, energy and patience of their parents for preparing the little ones for the rehearsal, the actual wedding day, the clothes

Let’s do the Time Warp Again

It’s just a jump to the left.
And then a step to the right.
With your hands on your hips.
You bring you knees in tight.
But it’s the pelvic thrust…
That really drives you insane
Let’s do the Time Warp again.

I need to go back in time. I don’t need to go back for long – just a week or two so that I can catch up on my life. I’ve been busy and despite being in the present, I have no idea how time flew past so quickly. Let me see…

I spent time at the local food bank reorganizing the shelves. One day.
 
I attended a family wedding. I wore a new dress, had my hair done and a manicure. I danced, had a few drinks and had a wonderful visit with my family. One day.
 
I attended the Brampton Fall Fair, where I sold my book, Forever Love. Over four days, I sold 29 copies, gave out my business card along with chocolate kisses. I talked about love and romance with men and women who stopped by and asked about my book. Thursday and Friday were slow days in our building, so various merchants dropped by and bought a copy of the book to read. By Saturday morning, one of them, Judy, had read the book and wanted Book Two now. The others were taking their time with the book. They would come back to my table and ask me questions about Quinn. They wanted to know how I came up with the story. They were hooked. I loved it. Four days.
 
This past Sunday, I attended WOTS (Word on the Street) in Toronto. For one hour I gave out signed copies of Forever Love. I talked about romance and love that lasts forever with so many people. One man, Jason, didn’t believe love lasted forever. The woman standing in line beside him disagreed. She had just celebrated her 41st wedding anniversary and she said she was still in love. I’ve been married for 31 years, and I still think love can last forever. One day.
 
For one week I have tried to get through Chapter 16 in Book Two. What a struggle it was to write a believable fight scene. Never mind the dialogue and story line that had to work. One week spent on 25 pages – successful, but time consuming. I am happy with the results. Now on to the rest of the story. Seven days.
 
In the meantime, I’ve kept up with the laundry. It’s washed and dried and folded. I iron when necessary. I need that time warp to get that chore done. I’ve managed to get my banking done and buy groceries. Two days.
 
I need to add in a day or two when I can meet with my friends over breakfast or coffee. I need to see them face to face and not just leave a voice message or post on their Facebook Page. I need a day to catch up on my reading. Make that two days. Yes, I do read. I need a day to find my office. Every time I find it, I lose it again. I think my office will be a two day job. I’ll give it three days, just in case. Seven days.
 
So here it goes. If it works, I’ll see you last week.
 
It’s just a jump to the left.
And then a step to the right.
With your hands on your hips.
You bring you knees in tight.
But it’s the pelvic thrust…
That really drives you insane
Let’s do the Time Warp again…
 
 
 

What can I say? I’ve been busy.

Once again, I looked at my last posting and saw that a month has passed. What can I say? I have been busy. For two weeks I worked my tail off to get my office work done – farm work, charity work and personal paperwork that had to be dealt with and filed or would just get burned, and I know Revenue Canada would have frowned at the idea of it being burned.

Then for one week, Tiegan and I went on a work holiday. She and I read books – she more than I, and then we discussed them. For the first few days, she would ask, “Have you finished Chapter Eleven yet?” I felt guilty when I answered, ‘no’, but she was very understanding – for the next hour or two. Then she would ask me the same question again and again.

Over supper and after dinner drinks, we would discuss my works in progress and she gave me her input. I must say that she was helpful in her enthusiasm, but she did add to my stress level when she said, “Hurry up and get it done! I want to read it now!” To pacify her demands, I let her read the first draft of Book Three. When she was finished, she told me in no uncertain terms, “Finish Book Two so you can Finish Book Three. I really want to read that story. Now!”

Tiegan suffered. She brought two books with her which were devoured in two or three days. I then gave her the two that I had brought with me. She read them in one day. Fortunately, Tiegan brought her Kobo with her, but she neglected to update it before she left on holiday. So, over the course of two nights, Tiegan sat in the hotel lobby and waited for her Kobo to update on the hotel’s free but slow internet service. Once that was completed, she purchased a book on my dime. This kept her happy for another day or two. The price we have to pay to keep our book advisers happy!

Back to me and my work. I was foolish to think that once I had revised the first ten chapters or so of Book Two, that the rest of my work would be fast and easy. Just a few cuts and pastes and my work would be done. What an idiot! Nothing flowed since I revised Book One, I had to rewrite more than I revised. I ended my holiday with the completion of Chapter Fourteen. Four Chapters – that’s all I managed to complete.

Now I’m back home to face piles of unopened snail mail, ten or more pages of emails, and four voice mails that needed to be answered. I am busily promoting myself on Facebook and Goodreads. I gave away one signed copy of Forever Love on Goodreads and an ebook on Page Turners, a Facebook page for writers and readers. I have lost count as to how many websites I have joined, how many pages I have “liked” and how many new friends I now have. I’m tired. I need a break. I need another holiday – this time to relax.

My office for one week.

This Week is Dedicated to Maggie

July is gone and we are almost half way through August. It isn’t fair. The weather was too hot to enjoy the summer days of July. I spent most of my time indoors trying to catch up on paper work with the goal to work on my writing during August. I almost succeeded. I have forced myself to take a few days off to revise a few chapters of Part Two.

It’s all Maggie’s fault. When I revised Forever Love, I left a cliff hanger with Maggie (oops – spoiler alert). Now I have to revise Part Two to accommodate Maggie and her visions.

As I am rereading and rewriting, I have noticed that I have scenes similar to Shades of Grey. I wrote Part Two three years ago – long before Shades of Grey was published. At first I thought that I should rework the scenes because readers may think that I copied from E.L. James, but then I realized that none of us really has an original idea anymore. It’s just how we express the idea that makes us different. However, in honor of  E.L. James and the attention she has brought to romance novels, I do make a reference or two to her novels without naming them directly.

Back to Maggie. I’ve ignored her for a month. She’s been sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear to get busy writing her part. I tried but nothing was coming. Instead, my thoughts were on Part Three’s reunion scene. For a few weeks I was playing out the scene in my head, trying to get the visual and the dialogue right. It had to be real. It had to be a page turner. But once again, I digress. Maggie. Her nudges are becoming more like jabs to the rib cage. Her whispers are getting louder and her breath smells like scotch. I think Quinn is on her side now. He wants to know how I get him through this. Davi’s patient. She’s sipping her mocha decaf and smiling at the two of them. She’s knows it will get done and it will be done the right way.

It’s because you are special, Maggie, that this is taking me so long to write. You are not the focus of the book, but an integral part of it. Without you, there wouldn’t be much of a story. So, please be patient. Have another double with Quinn and I promise I will have your parts written by the end of the week. Then Quinn and I will have a scotch together and you can have your Bailey’s while you give me that look that is only for me and you say, “You took your frickin time!”

Summer Plans

I look forward to August with just as much anticipation a child would have for Christmas. Every day, I check off the calendar with my eyes focused on August. And like the child who wants to be on Santa’s nice list, I work hard to be “nice” by August. My office is tidied (somewhat). I’m caught up in the paperwork and all of the important stuff is done.

Why August? August is the month I play hooky. From January to July, I dutifully work in my office – paying bills, sending faxes, answering emails and doing what I’m paid to do. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy my work, but it interferes with what I really want to do. I want to write. I want to surf the internet and read other writer’s blogs. I want to read novels and review them. I want to publicize my book and get noticed. Some of this I do during my regular day, but it’s never enough. In August I can go full tilt.
At least I try to go full tilt. There are the days that I take off for a real holiday away from home. There are the emergency cheques that need to be written, the last minute entries for the accountant, and the “this has to be done now” work that always seems to crop up.

Fifty Shades of Grey

One of the first things I am asked about my book, Forever Love,  is, “Is it like Fifty Shades of Grey?” Not having read the books and only knowing that it has bondage and domination it in, I would reply, “no, but it does have sex in it.” Since my daughter had downloaded the series onto my Kobo account, I thought I’d better read it and have a better answer next time I was asked a similar question. So, I guess you could say that I spent  three days last week researching by reading the three books.


My answer is now, “Yes and no. Yes, my book is a romance with sex in it. No, there is no S&M in it, although some of my sex scenes may be a bit more graphic. And no, because my book is written better or is that better written?”


Now, don’t get me wrong. I liked Fifty Shades of Grey. I liked the characters and the plot. To really enjoy the book, I had to believe that a woman could enter a relationship with a man knowing full well that he was damaged goods and knowing that he liked his sex rough (that’s putting it lightly) and knowing that he wasn’t into hearts and flowers. I had to believe that a man as perfect yet damaged as the hero, could be saved by love. I believe in suspending my disbelief when it comes to stories such as this and it worked for me. Overlook the dark cloud of S&M that hovers over the story and you will like the story.


In Forever Love, if you can believe that a younger man can fall in love with an older woman and if you can believe in love at first sight, then my book is for you.


Where Fifty Shades of Grey and Forever Love differ is in the writing. When I read Fifty Shades of Grey, I was shocked by the number of spelling and grammatical mistakes. I don’t think the author used a thesaurus when she wrote the book or a copy editor. I was bothered by the constant use of the adverb intently. I’m sure the hero,Christian Grey, could look into Ana’s eyes in some other way than intently. Some paragraphs seemed to be copied throughout the series word for word. The language was repetitive and dull. Once again, overlook the poor writing and you will enjoy the story.


In Forever Love, I tried my best to be grammatically correct (thanks Dad) and to vary my use of adverbs and adjectives. I did not copy paragraphs throughout the story. I think it’s well written. If  I didn’t, I wouldn’t have published it. I may have overdone it on the sex scenes, but I won’t apologize for them. The heroine, Davina, is an older woman pursued by a younger man. He finds her sexually attractive and thinks she’s a live wire in bed. The story is about her sexual rejuvenation. It’s about her emotional resurrection when she thought her time for love was gone. It’s about people finding love when they least expect it and fighting to hold on to it. Forever.


So, if you want to read Shades of Grey, go ahead. It’s a romance. Enjoy it. Then compare it to Forever Love and let me know what you think. Do you agree with me? Yes or no.

Happy Birthday, Paul

Today is Sir Paul McCartney’s biggest fan’s birthday – Paul S.

Paul has been a fan of the Beatles and every member of the Beatles since I have known him. Paul knows everything about them – their songs, their relationships, the inspiration for a particular song, what instrument was played on every song – including the brand of guitar. Paul probably knows what John and Paul ate for breakfast on the morning they wrote Hey Jude.

When I first knew Paul, we shared the same French class. On the days when we had to play the guessing game, “Who Am I?” in French, Paul was always Paul McCartney. Before the game would start, he would tell me not to play. He never chose another character. I don’t know how the rest of the class never figured this out during the year.

I think it’s Paul’s love for the Beatles that has been the biggest influence in his life. Paul has a love and knowledge for music that is unparalleled by anyone I know. He knows guitars. He plays guitar, but it’s his knowledge of the various makes of guitars and the musicians who play them that is remarkable.

Paul knows his music. I feel very lucky when I can tell him the title of a song we are listening to or even the artist playing it. We like to test each other’s knowledge. When neither one of us is sure of the correct answer, Paul reaches for his iPhone and quickly finds the answer. This has been a game we have played for years, even before the invention of google or the iPhone.

Paul and I are friends through Philip. Paul and Philip have been best friends since public school. I think that we are very fortunate that our families are best buddies – we travel together, celebrate holidays and birthdays, and know that we are always welcome to drop in for a drink and chat. We have our “in” jokes that only the ten of us get. The word “pleasure” will always be associated with Paul and holidays.

Paul is our artiste in residence – an amazingly talented and gifted man. Paul is the teller of bad jokes and the one who is lousy at accents, although he gets A for effort. He’s our entertainer and our expert (with iPhone in hand). Paul is an artist, although it doesn’t help him in the game Cranium. He over thinks what he has to draw – too much detail. He tried Guitar Hero once and failed miserably – pressing four buttons in sync is a lot harder than strumming six or twelve strings on a real guitar.

As I write this, Paul is sitting at his desk doing “lots of work” when he’d rather be doing something else. It’s his birthday, he should be doing something he enjoys doing – like shopping for guitars. Enjoy your day, Paul. I’d type out Happy Birthday to you, but I don’t want to infringe on any copyright laws.

Hugs and best wishes from all of us.

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Today is the birthday of Paul McCartney’s biggest fan – Paul.
Paul knows everything about the Beatles, John, Ringo, George and Sir Paul. He knows their songs inside and out. He knows the type of guitar played and why it was played for a particular song. Paul knows why the songs were written and to whom they were dedicated. He probably knows where Paul and John were when they wrote Hey Jude and what the color of their underwear was at the time. I kid you not.

Paul’s licence plate is a Beatle’s name. I won’t type it, but when you see the car, you know Paul has arrived.

Paul’s not great at accents. His English accent is now where near British, but it is cute in it’s awfulness. He tries. Paul

Thirty One Years Ago…

Thirty one years ago, I took his name.
Thirty one years ago, I made him promises. I kept them.
Thirty one years ago, I told him I would love him forever. I still do.
Thirty one years ago, the world was ours. Now we share it with three beautiful children.
Thirty one years ago, we thought we knew each other. Every day we still surprise each other.
Thirty one years ago, I thought I knew what commitment meant. Now I know.
Thirty one years ago, we were young. Now we’re young at heart.
Thirty one years ago, our hair was a natural brown. Now he’s a handsome gray. I’m still brown.
Thirty one years ago, if I could look ahead and see our lives together, all of the ups and downs, the smiles and the tears, I’d still take his name.

Happy Anniversary, Philip

Today I Found My Muse on Jimmy’s Butt

I was visiting with a friend today when I noticed that one of the two young men working in her front garden was someone I wanted to see – not as in visit, but really see. I knew this man had a tattoo and I had heard much about it. I wanted to see it for myself.

As I was leaving, I made sure I visited the garden where the two men were working and I struck up a conversation with them. We talked about the various perennials being planted. We talked about the one man’s wife’s latest foray into running and that they were thinking of adding a second child to their family. Then we talked about my book which gave me the perfect opportunity to broach the topic about seeing the other man’s tattoo. One of my works in progress is about a man with a full body tattoo. I needed to do some research.

I know that tattoos are personal and that the person sporting them may not want to show them off, so I broached the topic carefully – “Hey, Jimmy (not his real name) I’m told you have an amazing tattoo. May I see it?”  I could already glimpse ink on his forearm and thought he’d show me that tattoo. I didn’t know I was in for a real show and tell experience.

Jimmy stopped working right away and smiled at me. “Of course you can,” he answered as he stood up from the garden where he was busy planting. Right away he pulled off his T-shirt then turned his back to me and undid his pants. Before I could yell, “stop!” Jimmy had his pants and briefs down to his ankles as he showed me the work in progress on his back, his ribs, his buttocks and his legs. His hands carefully covered his manhood as he talked over his shoulder and gave me the story of his naked back and backside. It was a zombie-Halloween combination. Jimmy’s front from the waist up was untouched and would remain that way. There would be no tattoos on his neck or below his wrists. Jimmy’s tattoos would remain private unless he wanted you to see them.

My friend stood on her front porch, speechless as the other fellow (I’ll call him Fred) made Jimmy bend over so that I could appreciate the detail of the zombie’s toothy red mouth on Jimmy’s right buttock and its body that was now part of Jimmy’s leg. Both Fred and I moved in closer to Jimmy’s backside as the detail was pointed out to me. I noticed every fine white hair on Jimmy’s butt.Then my eyes moved up to the two children walking across Jimmy’s back. They were trick or treating. I don’t know if they were zombies or human.There were houses, other zombies, jack-o-lanterns and so much more on Jimmy’s back. It was not finished – only the outlines were done.

Jimmy told me how long it took to come up with the concept, how long it took to meet with the artist and have him agree to do the work, and how long it took to have the draft sketched on his body to see if the design actually worked and so on. This is not something Jimmy takes lightly. He drives eleven hours to get to the artist’s studio. He has his back worked on for hours at a time for a day or two before he heads back home. I am amazed at Jimmy’s dedication.

As I took in Jimmy’s back, I made mental notes for my hero’s tattoos. I could now visualize the placement of the people on his back, I could see where the dragon would go (that idea came from the fellow I met at the gym, June 6th blog) and where the other tattoos would be placed. It all came together for me. I may not have written one word for the book, but I now have my visual.

Before I left, I thanked Jimmy and Fred for their time and waved good bye to my friend who was still standing on the porch. I didn’t have the chance to take one look at my manuscript, but I decided to write this blog. I never know when my muse will send someone or something my way to inspire me.Today, I thought it would be an arm. Instead it was an arm, a leg and a very cute butt. Thank you, Jimmy. Thank you muse.

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday. I am 53 years young.

I don’t feel old. Am I supposed to? I have a bit of arthritis in my hips and my left knee doesn’t always co-operate when I need to use the stairs. I color my hair, but my colorist says I don’t have enough grey to consider going completely grey. My doctor says I’m healthy except for the slightly high blood pressure. My teeth are good – no cavities last check up. I need to lose weight – I drop ten pounds then the rest holds on tight (or soft) and refuses to disappear. I work out at the gym 3 days a week with cardio and weight lifting. I don’t smoke and I don’t drink much. Wine goes to my head quickly, mixed drinks are too sweet and I don’t like to drink Scotch alone. I love chocolate covered almonds – they are an infrequent treat and my true sinful pleasure.

I pamper myself. I pay too much for a haircut and color, but I love the service and I love going shopping afterwards in the mall where the salon is located. I treat myself to an expensive coffee every once in awhile for that strong caffeine fix. I buy a lottery ticket when the pot is in the tens of millions. I love to travel. Give me twenty four hours notice or less and I will be at the airport with passport in hand. I keep foreign currency in my safe – why exchange it when I know I will be travelling again. I love to shop at Trove. I’m not plugging the store. This is just a fact.

I love my family and friends. They complete me (please don’t think of Jerry McGuire). I love it when I get their hugs and kisses. There are never enough to fill my day. I’m not big on telephone calls, but email me or message me on Facebook and I am thrilled. Silly, I know, but my fingers like to do the talking.

This has been a great year for me. I finally published my book, Forever Love. This was not an item on My Bucket list, but an item on the For Me list. We renovated our family room. Finally, we have a room for entertaining and relaxing. We have a hot tub which we use almost every day. My achy joints don’t ache as much now. My family is happy and healthy. My husband I will celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary next month.

I am not expecting any birthday gifts today. I don’t need anything. I have everything I need – my family, my friends, my health and moments like this when I can take the time to write. I am having a very happy birthday.

Why it pays to work out at the gym.

Forget the health benefits. There is more to working out at the gym than you may realize. It’s a writer’s paradise, or at least it is to me. Let me explain.

Warm up and cardio – the time to raise your heart beat and burn fat. It’s also the time to watch people. Watch the interaction between men and women as they talk to each other. Take note of the body language and the language used (eavesdrop). Watch the smiles, the laughs and the flick of the hair. Look for tattoos or other interesting body features you can use in your story.

Lately, I’ve been looking at tattoos. I’m not a fan of them. I think most of what I have seen are ugly and were not given much consideration before the ink was applied. Today I saw a young man working out in a muscle shirt. His arms were exposed. My gaze was instantly drawn to his tattoos. He had dragons! My hero (Book 4) has tattoos, one of which is a dragon. This man’s tattoo was the dragon I’ve been trying to imagine – the color, the placement on the body, how it really looked. Eureka!

Now, I’m not one to approach strangers in the gym, but I had to talk to this man. He had what I wanted.Without hesitation I asked him if his tattoo on his right arm was a dragon. When he said yes, I asked him if I could look at it. I quickly explained that I’m writing a book and my character has a dragon tattoo. I couldn’t get the look right in my mind and his looked perfect. I asked if he would mind if I had a closer look. He may have thought I was a bit nuts, but he agreed. I scanned his arm, admiring the detail and the placement of the dragon starting at his wrist right up to his shoulder. The dragon’s neck and head were concealed by the shoulder of the shirt. Brazenly, I pulled the neck of his shirt down so that I could see the dragon’s neck and head. I noticed his surprise, but still I carried on with my examination.
“Are you going to color it in?” I asked him since the dragon was a pale green outline.
“Maybe when I’m old,” he replied.
“I love his head,” I said with genuine awe.I loved the eyes, the flaring nostrils and the fire.
“It’s Chinese,” he said, clearly wanting me to let go of his shirt and let him escape.With reluctance, I freed the young man and let him continue his workout and I did the same. I spent the next thirty minutes pedaling on my stationary bike while I thought of my dragon. I knew how to describe him now. As I was working on my dragon, I couldn’t help but notice the young man with the tattoos kept circling around in my cardio area. I wondered if he wanted me to stop him for another look or if he was wondering if I had a tattoo hidden under my T-shirt and yoga pants. Not in this lifetime.

Weight training – the time to build your muscle and core strength. It’s also the perfect time to talk about sex with your trainer. Rudy is seventy-nine years old with the body of a forty-year old man and the face of a fifty year old. We have been friends for years.Nothing gets me through twenty reps of heavy weights better than talking about sex, relationships and body parts with him. He gives me things to think about for my writing and I tell him what I’ve written. He’s the only man I would let say to me, “on your back and spread ’em.” When it’s been a really good workout, we pause and share the invisible cigarette of satisfaction.

Rudy’s also my book pimp. His support of my writing has really touched me. Every time we have a session he’s read one more chapter of the book and gives me feedback. Today he complimented me on a scene that took me more than a few tries to get right and one I still doubted . He said something like, “Man, you really nailed that scene. The way his mother talked… What a character! This is a really good book.” Another reason to work out at the gym – forget the body, it’s great for the ego.

The Book Has Arrived – Now What?

It is hard to believe that it has been almost a month since my last post. A few times I thought about logging on and writing something, but the something never came to me.

My very friendly mail delivery man arrived with five large boxes last week with 140 copies of my book (hard copy and soft cover). The ebook is available for sale on Amazon, Kobo, Xlibris and various foreign bookstore websites. Friends and family are excited for me. I am excited for me.

My personal trainer, Rudy, has become my book pimp at the gym. Within a week he has sold 11 copies. Male or female, it doesn’t matter to him. He tells men they’ll enjoy it and if they’re too afraid to read a romance they can give the book to their wife or girlfriend. Rudy has read Forever Love. He really likes it although he said to me, “men aren’t like that Quinn guy.” To which I responded, “it’s a fantasy. We can dream about having a guy like Quinn.”

My mother saw a hard copy of the book in my family room and took the book. I tried to tell her it wasn’t a tame romance novel but my family told me to let her have it. After all, it was my mother who, at the dining table, talked about visiting the Guelph strip clubs on Tuesday afternoons to see the male strippers. She may have mentioned a senior’s discount too. We know she was kidding, but if a woman in her 80’s can joke about something like that, I think she can handle Forever Love. I’m giving  her a couple of weeks before I ask her what she thinks of it.

I have set up a Facebook Page for Forever Love and have some advertising running for it on Facebook. I am getting wonderful feedback. I have opened a PayPal account for book orders. I have set up a new email account just for the book. Now all I have to do is sell the book.

Selling the book wasn’t my priority. I wrote the book for my daughters. It was written for fun. It was an outlet for turning 50 and feeling very distracted. At the time, I was told it could be menopause or my thyroid that was causing that feeling. Now it doesn’t matter what caused me to write it. It’s written and it’s published. If the book sells – great! Wonderful! Fantastic! If not, there’s always plan B. Although Quinn and I are similar in that there is no plan B. Not yet, anyway.

I look at my calendar, trying to find a day when I can officially launch my book to my family and friends. My calendar isn’t co-operating. Week days fill up with meetings and commitments. Weekends fill up with family gatherings and bbqs with friends. I know I will have to pick a date and do it. It will be sooner than later. Be sure to check your mailbox  – Canada Post or email.

Almost There

I’ve come to the conclusion that renovations are very similar to book revisions. No matter how finished the project looks, there is always something left undone. There is always something that only one person knows is missing and accepts it for the time being until it is actually completely finished.

Although the renovation isn’t one hundred per cent complete, it looks it. I don’t mind getting the emails putting off the final finishing day – I know it will happen eventually. Yesterday, the decorator brought in her photographer to photograph the two rooms. After four hours, the photographer said he could stay for another two – there were so many interesting angles to photograph. I thought maybe he would take a few photographs. Silly me – I didn’t realize the staging that was involved with the right lighting and the right angles. The photos will be posted on the designer’s website. I’ll let you know when they are posted. Note to Paula – Liz is very interested in hearing your opinion. 

Now on to the really good stuff – Forever Love. It’s being published slowly. At least that’s how it feels. Yesterday, UPS delivered the posters for my book. They are to be used when I have my book launches. Note the plural – so if anyone wants to help me in organizing one or two, please let me know. Today I received the ebook file for Forever Love. I have downloaded it and put it on the Kobo reader I bought for Philip. I’ve downloaded other books that he may enjoy, but I thought mine should be the first he reads.
Philip has yet to read my book. He refuses. Although he’s been supportive of my project, he would not look at one page for me. He has no idea what the story is about, but in typical Philip fashion, he assumes he knows everything about it. The husband is dead, therefore Philip is dead, so there is nothing more he needs to know. Obviously, Forever Love is not a biography or else Philip would actually be dead. Forever Love is a work of fiction and I took advantage of the people and places I know and love and used them in the book. I am not the heroine although I put a little bit of me in her. Some of you may change “little bit” to “large part” and that is your choice. Philip’s in the story too. It’s up to my friends and family to identify those parts. No pun intended.
Xlibris now has the book listed for sale on its website in hardcover, softcover and ebook format. I expect to receive my hardcover book in the next week or two. I won’t have extra copies for friends and family for another four to six weeks. It seems like a very long process, but I can wait to see the finished project. I hope you can too.

Cat Pictures for Gwen P.

Gwen asked me today what the cats look like since I said that we were decorating in their colors. As you can see, Duchess, aka The Mouth, is on the grey couch. Chloe, aka The Tank, is on the chair. Both cats have tried out every seat, every basket, and anything else that looks like it is made for a cat. They are very happy.

Happy Birthday, Alannah!

This is a belated Happy Birthday Blog to Alannah. I knew her birthday was on Friday, but I was too exhausted physically and mentally to function. Great excuse, eh? So – today is my day to blog for her.

Alannah is growing up too fast. I don’t get to see her as often as I would like. She’s either away at university studying or she’s working at her summer job. I don’t mind though. I know that this is something she needs to do because she has goals and they are admirable ones.

This fall, she will be off to Europe studying at various universities over two years for her Masters under the Erasmus Mundus program. Alannah was one of two people from Canada selected for the program. Her focus will be on Crossways in Cultural Narratives. I’m sure when she tells me again for the umpteenth time, it will finally sink in as to what it is she will be studying. Then when this is completed, she’ll focus on earning her doctorate with the goal of becoming a professor.

I know Alannah will do well. She is intelligent, sociable, adaptable and resourceful. She is fun to be around, she has a good sense of humor, and she is adventurous. Alannah spent her third year of university studying in Lyon, France. When there she saw as much of Europe as she could, and she learned a lot about the European life style. Speaking from experience, she makes an excellent tour guide. I hope to visit her at least once more while she is abroad for another fun filled tour.

Alannah asked me what my plans were for the summer. I told her I’d like to have more time to visit with my friends. That includes her. Maybe we can get together over coffee or breakfast every once in awhile to catch up with each other. I’ve volunteered for a few road trips. Just give me a few hours notice and I’ll be ready. Passport and foreign currency are in the safe.

I have no words of wisdom for Alannah except for these – “Graduate from a university that has the coolest hood and headdress.” There’s nothing more spectacular at convocation than the procession of professors in their various colors. Get one that stands out among the crowd. You already do, but get one that makes a statement. I’ve always liked the hood, gown and headdress for Cambridge. Take a look and perhaps you’ll agree. Nothing beats the Tudor cap with tassels. Sorry Guelph and Western, but it’s true.

One more word of wisdom – “Enjoy!”

Installation Day!

Wow! That’s all I can say. It took close to seven hours to put everything together. It’s not quite done, but I don’t think anyone would notice.

Tiegan and I spent the day in Guelph to occupy our time while we had to be out of the house. No peeking! Then, when we returned home so that Tiegan could get ready for her first day of work, we weren’t allowed in the house. Alvin, the painter, negotiated for us so that we could come in through the front door as long as we didn’t try to sneak a peek. Agreed. Then on to the next obstacle – getting to my office to get the necessary paperwork Tiegan needed for her job. After promising that I wouldn’t try to look, I was allowed to re-enter my house through the “back” door and walk down the stairs to my office. No looking above or around me. I didn’t. Liz, the decorator, stood watch on the landing to make sure I didn’t cheat. A couple minutes later, I was back up the stairs, outside and back in the living room without glimpsing a thing.

Tiegan got ready for work then left. This left Cailtin and me to wait it out in the living room for another half hour or so. Finally, Liz appeared and said, “You can see the family room first, but don’t look in the kitchen, it’s not quite done.” So, Caitlin and I walked through the kitchen with our heads down so that we didn’t see what changes had been made. When we entered the family room, this is what we saw.

Caitlin and I were in awe. After the shock wore off, I hugged Liz and then I cried. I knew the room would look great, but I never imagined this.

Then we went on to the kitchen.

Ahhhhh….

Liz and Nicole did a great job finishing the rooms with the little details. The vases and bookends I wanted to keep were used. Philip’s samurai sword is also displayed. Liz and Nicole scoured our home looking for hardcover books. We laughed (the family, that is) when we saw the hardcovers we had stored away only weeks ago, find their way back onto the shelves. Family pictures were reframed and relocated. New collectibles were added. We have candles and lots of them. We have fresh flowers, candies and fresh pastries. We have super hot and spicy pizza (Philip likes it, Caitlin ordered in for the rest of us).

We have a home we love and friends and family we can share its warmth and comfort with. We have our family pictures all around us – a reminder of what is most important to us. We have our health and we are happy. Life is good.

I have my doorbell. You are welcome to try it out and come for a visit.

Forever Love Poster

This hasn’t been released yet. Just thought I’d share this with you. Another two or three weeks then I’ll have a real copy of the book. Thanks for your support!

Renovation- Day 21 and the rest…

Sunday afternoon – the experts from FutureShop came to set up the television and all of the components.It took these experienced men 2 1/2 hours to get everything up and running. We shudder to think how long it would have taken us to do the same task. We were told our back speakers are too high, but there is nothing we can do about that. The speaker over the tv should have gone underneath it. We followed the schematics – what do the manufacturers know?

We were all excited to have this centerpiece up and running. Philip brought in a kitchen chair and watched in awe. The rest of us sat by the fireplace keeping warm and we still had a great view of the screen. Hearing was no problem with the surround sound.

We have a small problem with the drapery. The speaker on the north window interferes with the curtain rod. The screen on the south window interferes with the curtain rod. The drapery person came out yesterday (Monday) to remeasure everything and to come up with an alternative way of hanging the drapes. They will also have to be shorter now – not that anyone would notice. When remeasuring, she discovered that the south wall is one inch taller than the north wall. Her measurements didn’t show that when she took the measurements in March.

Alvin, the painter, is coming out this afternoon to paint the stairway wall. We didn’t paint the lower half – keeping it the same color as the basement. Our designer mentioned in passing that we might want to paint it. That was on Friday after the painters had finished their work. Alvin dropped by yesterday to hang wallpaper. I asked for his opinion and he agreed. So – he’s coming by this afternoon to paint the wall. We’re getting there.

This will probably be my last renovation post until late Thursday. Little fixits will happen between today and Wednesday. On Thursday, INSTALLATION DAY,  I am to vacate my home while the house is put together. Light fixtures will be installed, furniture will be placed, drapery hung, collectibles will be set out and pictures will be hung. I have made plans to go to Guelph for most of the day. My cellphone will be with me as I await the call that I can come home.

Many pictures will be posted. Better yet, if you’re in the neighborhood, drop in and have a look.

Renovation – Days 19 & 20 – We got through them.

There’s a reason why renovators don’t want the home owner to be around during the renovations. We’re not supposed to see the drama and the mistakes that happen between start to finish. The renovation is supposed to look like it was smooth sailing from start to finish and that there were no “oops”  that had to be fixed or covered up. Yesterday was a very long day and I got to see the “oops” moments and the drama.

If nothing else, communication between the various tradesmen is absolutely necessary. The designer needs to be kept in the loop as well as keeping the tradesmen informed when plans have been changed. There was so much confusion yesterday as to who was doing what that I wondered how these men kept their sanity and their tools in their hands without clocking each other over the head with them. I tried to be impartial but by the end of the evening I realized whose side I was on without trying to take sides. I have to be careful – the renovation isn’t finished.

While I was washing up tonight I realized the difference in two of the  men’s personalities. The first man said, “It bothered me that your bathroom door doesn’t shut right so I fixed it for you. It happens all the time with old houses.”  This man is wonderful and very capable. You’d want him working in your house without giving it a second thought.

The second man said, “Your toilet is broken. How long have you known that it doesn’t work?” As if I’d let anyone use a toilet that didn’t flush! Our toilet wasn’t broken. He broke it (that is, he didn’t know how to flush it – he turned the handle instead of pushing it in) and left it that way. We fixed it when he left. This man is an excellent tradesman, it’s his attitude that needs some adjusting.

The electrician, the painter and his crew, and the carpet installers are very professional and friendly people. I  expect them to be since they are in my home. They may be working in my home, but they are still guests and should be nice. Professional and nice – that’s all I ask for. I would be thrilled to have them back for a visit to show them the finished rooms.

Anyway, the shelves and the doors have been installed. The overhead lighting in the cabinets is still to be done. The screen was installed. It’s a dark dark blue. Gorgeous.

When the designer came to inspect the damage, she asked what the wires were that were coming out of the walls. I don’t know how the speakers to our sound system were not in her plans. Anyway, the one speaker may interfere with the drapery track. Would we consider ceiling mounted speakers? Our answer was no. Kyle will think of something and the designer look into getting the drapery shortened if necessary to accommodate the speaker. We’re assured everything will work out. Wait until she sees Philip’s huge woofer! It’s staying. It’s Philip’s.

Positive ideas came out of the meeting and I am very excited to see the ideas made into a reality. Thursday April 26th is the new date now.

To top off the day, Kyle and his buddy (sorry that I can’t remember his name) came back to put the television on the wall. Apparently, it’s easy to take off the mounting but a real toughy to put back on.
Philip and I spent 1 1/2 hours at FutureShop that night to get the right cables, universal remote, latest Apple tv and a new Blueray/DVD player. I couldn’t believe the amount of paperwork that we went through to make one return, buy the cables and dvd player and  prepay for the remote. There has to be a better way.

Today, was a quiet day. My favorite electrician did more work in the family room. He got a stubborn light and switch to finally work. He managed to get the propane fireplace’s on-off switch to work the way it should. Sunday he will be back to hard wire the fireplace to hide the external cord. I may even get a remote for the fireplace.The basement lights and door bell are still on the “to do” list. Sunday is installation day for the tv and sound system. We are looking forward to it.

Today we also updated our HD satellite receivers. What a difference it has made! The Bell service technician was here on time and such a pleasant man to talk to. He gave me a quick lesson on how to use the PVR. I’m finally catching up to the rest of you.

This weekend we will be cleaning out the downstairs tv room and we’ll be sorting through pictures and collectibles that we want to put back in the kitchen and the family room. As I’ve had time to appreciate the absence of clutter, I know it won’t be as hard to do as I first thought. I’m ready to let go – again.

Renovation – Day 18

Today we have carpeting. It looks wonderful. It’s so nice to see something other than plywood. The room has that new house smell about it. Yes!
I wish there was more to say. I don’t know if anything is happening tomorrow. Thursday is scheduled for the electrical work. We’re getting closer. Yes! Again.

Renovation – Days 16 & 17

Alvin and his crew are amazing. They worked most of Saturday to finish painting, then spent today doing a final  touch up and painting of the cupboard doors. They are meticulous in their work. When they are done, both the kitchen and family room were left spotless (at least as close to spotless as one can expect in an unfinished room). Now, I am left with the chore of sorting through my collectibles and deciding which ones make it back to the kitchen and which ones get tossed or boxed for charity.

I had a wonderful visit/consultation with the interior designer. She is excited that we are excited. Then she asked, “What does Paula think?” Paula is our friend who could be an interior designer but she doesn’t have the credentials ( the silly letters behind her name, except for BFF). She has fabulous taste and a flair for making a room personal. Liz would like her to take up the trade.and is eagerly awaiting Paula’s reaction and approval.

The carpeting will be installed tomorrow – it may take two days to do the room and the stairs. The electrician will arrive on Wednesday or Thursday to install the fixtures and the plates. He’s also going to rewire the gas fireplace so that we don’t have a cord running across the stonework to a wall plug. I’ll also get my doorbell installed! The wires for Philip’s tv and sound system will also be pulled through the wall. We’re getting closer to watching that 70 inch tv every day!

Kyle has offered to install the tv – he wants to make sure it is centered properly in its place. Then the crew from Future Shop will come in and make sure the tv and sound system are set to work properly. This happens on Sunday. Bell comes on Friday with the new HD receivers with PVR.

Friday is carpentry day – the shelves, doors and screen will be installed. Can’t wait!

There are a few surprises to come. I will wait until I can post their pictures. It may not be until April 25th, but I will make sure that everything is captured on film. Thanks for sharing this experience with me.

I have the feeling that we are now back on schedule.

Renovation Day 16

These pictures were taken Saturday morning before Alvin and Sean arrived to put on the final coats of paint in the family room and kitchen. The shelving and doors were painted Granite grey. The grey looks really sharp next to the brick. The walls are a Moth grey – it doesn’t look very grey after the first coat. We’ll see how it looks later. The ceiling and trim are done. Looks great!

The kitchen will get its final coat of paint today. The ceiling is done. The room looks so different now.

It’s a dull grey day outside today, so the lack of sunlight in the family room is working against the painters. Sean will return on Monday to see if there is anything that was missed and needs to be touched up. I will post more pictures when they are finished.

Happy Birthday, Rachel!

Due to it being Friday the 13th yesterday, my sense of actual time was messed up. I knew that Rachel’s birthday was the 14th, but I still posted on the 13th. I now have complete control of my senses (don’t argue with me) and I will now repost my birthday blog to her.

Today is Rachel’s birthday. She’s seventeen. It’s hard to believe she’s that old and still that young.

Rachel’s been around forever – at least that’s how it seems. It’s hard to remember a time when she hasn’t been in my life. She’s the little girl who always wanted to play with the Barbies when she came for a visit. She’s the one who always fell asleep on the carpet or on the couch while the rest of us visited. We all remember her cry as she was woken up to be taken home, “But I didn’t get a chance to play!” We’d always promise her, “next time.” We’ve had lots of next times.

Rachel loved animal crackers and chocolate milk. Maybe she still does. Now she loves meatballs and Dr. Pepper.

Rachel doesn’t walk. She lopes into a room, her long legs carrying her gracefully into the room before she plops into a chair or couch. Rachel would make an excellent model. She has the long blond wavy hair. She has the beautiful angelic face with the charming smile. She has the perfect frown as she sighs, “I’m bored.”
She knows all about wardrobe changes. Rachel can go through a week’s worth of clothes in a couple of hours. She’s never satisfied with the look or the feel of what she’s wearing. The same goes with her nail polish. Once her nails are done, every nail painted perfectly, every applique glued on, she starts the process of gradually picking at the polish. If you see her today, take a look at her nails. Let me know what you see.

Rachel is smart and funny. She is a very sensitive and caring soul. She wants everyone to get along and to keep their voices down. Rachel is not one for conflict. I’m with you, Rachel.

Today we are getting together for a birthday breakfast. I always look forward to these occasions. It’s a fun time for catching up on the latest gossip, the latest news with Rachel and her friends, and much more. It’s our “family” time. Though we have no connection through blood, we are family. She’s my Rachel and I’m her Debbie. That’s all that matters.

Have a wonderful year, Rachel. You have your driver’s licence. Congratulations! You have freedom (as long as you get to drive the car). Next year is your last year of high school before the real adventure begins. Enjoy every moment.

Hugs!

Renovation – Day 15

I  have forgotten what day it is in the Renovation countdown. I took this picture this morning. I will take this afternoon’s pictures tomorrow morning because of lighting and I don’t want to interrupt the workers.
The smell of the primer has left the house. Now it’s just the fresh smell of paint. Alvin and his crew are amazing. Once again, my kitchen is being left in pristine condition. Today, the walls were primed again and the ceilings and trim were painted – I think 2 coats each. I finally get to see what the colors are!

We’re getting into the excitement phase now, or is it the really excited phase?  Kyle was here to put in the frames and baseboards for the kitchen. He was here and gone before I knew it. The man is fast. The shelving and the screen are scheduled to arrive on Friday.

Alvin hopes to have the family room finished before the carpeting arrives on Monday. Worst-case scenario is that if only the under pad is installed, he can use Monday to finish up whatever may not have been covered. Alvin asked if it’s okay to work on Saturday. Are you kidding me? Of course it is!   
The decorator has sent me a picture of the second choice for Philip’s desk chair. Sorry, I can’t turn it around. This is how I received it. Anyway – we’re going to try this one out. It’s about 80% cheaper than the first suggestion. Philip is happy.
April 25th has been set as the installation day. Furniture et al will be installed and the rooms will be completed. Looks like we’re back on schedule – albeit a new one, but at least it’s a schedule.
                       

Happy Birthday. Caitlin

Today is Caitlin’s 26th birthday. It’s also my 26th anniversary of being a Mom.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I had no idea I was in for the adventure of a lifetime — being Caitlin’s Mom. I call her my guinea pig, as in a test guinea pig. Being a first time mom, everything was new to me. The feeding and diaper changes were easy, or so I recall, and playtime was easy, too. We had the time to learn and grow together. I must have thought I was okay at being a mom because Philip and I decided to have another baby. And then another.

Then things got tough. My cute and cuddly guinea pig was developing into her own independent self. Caitlin’s mantra was and still is, “I can do it. Let me do it.”  She could scale the kitchen cupboards like a Sherpa, showing the babysitter where to find the popcorn, the butter and the bowls, without making a misstep and tumbling to the floor. She could maneuver any freezer door to get to that coveted pound of frozen butter, then find a hiding place to devour her treasure. She always found the hidden jar of Grandma Puppies’ maraschino cherries. There was no stopping her. She was always getting into mischief.

We clashed a few times as mother and daughter. It wasn’t that Caitlin was bad. She never gave me a moment’s worry in that department. It was her stubbornness and her determination to do what she wanted and only what she wanted that caused us to clash. I attribute her determination to her type A personality. She has to lead, she’s head strong, smart, and can dig her heels and and stop the world when it suits her. Caitlin’s stint in the hospital when she broke her femur is the best example of this. Whether her determination hindered or helped her recovery, I’ll never know. But I don’t know if a weaker child could have survived the pain and the isolation.

As Caitlin gets older, I realize that perhaps the roles have reversed and that perhaps I am now the guinea pig. I wonder if Caitlin is testing me to see how long I will let her live at home before she gets the proverbial boot from the nest. I wonder if she’s waiting to find out how long it will take for me to say, “Do your own cooking.”  No mushrooms, no funny cheese, no leftovers…the list goes on. I cannot resist quoting her, “blah, blah, blah.”

I don’t know if I’ll pass the test. I enjoy her company. She gets my sense of humor. She’s always up to seeing a movie. Need company in the hot tub? She’s there. She acts as mediator when Philip and I disagree over the silliest things – mostly she-said he-said scenarios. I think Philip and I are giving her excellent training on marriage and communication. I can hear her guffaw now.

When I think of Caitlin, I think of the three P’s – Punctuality, Perfection and Participation. All three she expects of herself. She expects two of the three from everyone else. Sorry, this is late in getting posted. It’s taken me all day to get it typed. If it’s not perfect – what can I say? It’s the one and only draft. Participation? Most definitely. I’ve had twenty-six years of non-stop participation in this wonderful adventure with you and I’m looking forward to many more.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.

Love – Mom

Renovation – Day 14

The Easter weekend cut into the renovation days. Philip wondered why the men couldn’t work on the Monday, since it really wasn’t a holiday. I think it’s the farmer in him – one good working day lost.

Alvin and his two man crew showed up yesterday and got to work in the kitchen. They peeled off my beloved wallpaper and found what they expected to find. The walls hadn’t been prepared properly before the paper was applied, SO when they took the paper off, the dry wall came with it. They did the best they could and washed down the walls. The walls would need a day to dry. Today they will be primed and then plastered where the holes are. My kitchen has been emptied. Philip likes the minimalist look. I don’t. It looks like no one lives here.

Alvin and his crew moved onto the family room and primed everything. The room is one big massive room of white. They will be working in here again today, caulking, sanding and other painter stuff.

The cabinet maker was here, too. He said that the shelving and the screen are scheduled to arrive on Friday. Does that mean installed?  I don’t know. He left the cabinet doors and some pieces of wood for Alvin to prime. He thought everything was going to plan.

Kyle, the contractor, dropped by, too, to show Alvin the plans. Kyle will be back today to install the new baseboards and trim in the kitchen. He said that renovations tend to go slow when there are more people involved. It’s hard to co-ordinate everyone’s schedules. Really? That’s not what I was told. Everyone would be available to work together and keep on schedule.

Anyway, the plan is now to have everything ready by the end of next week – April 20th or earlier. The carpet is scheduled to arrive next Tuesday.

In the meantime, I am working in my office listening to the sound of sanding by hand. It’s a more soothing sound than that of the nail guns and drills that echoed throughout the house. I now have no excuse not to get my work done.

Happy Birthday, Paula

Today is my best friend Paula’s birthday. We met almost twenty-six years ago when her future husband decided it was time to introduce her to us, his friends from public school (Philip) and high school (me). She retells the story the same way every time of how stressful it was to meet The Philip and Deb, and how she wondered if she would ever fit in.

Let me tell you, she fit in in more ways than you could ever imagine one friend ever fitting into your life. She has become my kids’ second mom. She’s the one who accompanies us when it’s time to purchase the all important suit or dress for prom or graduation. She’s the decorator of their bedrooms. Her opinion matters. She’s the one who frets about them when they are away at school or sick. She’s a worrier. I’m glad she worries for my family. She doesn’t have to, but it’s nice to  know she thinks that much about us that she gives herself grey hairs, worry lines and ulcers over us. That is a true sign of love.

Paula is our social director. When she wants to holiday, all she has to do is make the arrangements and we will tag along. Once again, we let her stress over making the plans – we’re happy to be invited. We share the load though. We make sure that the conversation is always flowing (don’t get Philip and Paula started on the heavy stuff). We can talk sports and music to keep Paul happy. I can usually follow Paula’s train of thought without her using the right words. I’ve developed a knack for being a Paula interpreter. I’ve learned to discuss fashion and interior design. Amazing – I know!

With Paula, there is no pretense. Dinners are always informal gatherings. Last minute invitations, a pooling of food and wine. There is always enough to share.

Our friendship is like a comfy sweater worn throughout the years. It gives warmth and comfort when needed and suits us perfectly, holes and all. It’s a big sweater –our children share it too and treasure it.

One day, I was out shopping with Caitlin and we saw two elderly ladies who were obviously dear friends by the way they were talking to each other. Their hair was dyed – bright red and blonde, I think. Their makeup was plastered on and their clothing was way too young for them. They were looking at shoes with five-inch heels. They were having fun and they were oblivious to the stares focused on them. When we are older, and our hair is dyed bolder than it is today, and our clothes are more a reflection of our sanity than our fashion sense, I hope Paula and I are just like them.

Happy Birthday, dear friend.

Renovation – Day 13

What a noisy day! My head is pounding and my ears are ringing – perhaps a carry over from Saturday’s social events or last night’s sleeplessness, but nevertheless, everything above my shoulders is suffering.

Kyle, the contractor, was not here when I returned from the gym. I think the trim is finished. It looks amazing. What a change to the room. No visit from the cabinetmakers. Maybe tomorrow…

The painter called a few minutes ago and he will be here to start in the kitchen on Tuesday. This will work out perfectly. I am hopeful that the family room will be ready for painting by the time the kitchen has been finished. The wallpaper will be stripped and the walls and trim will receive a fresh coat of paint. I am sorry to see the wallpaper go. It was designed by one of our dearest friends, Paul Sawatsky. I will have to take before and after shots of the kitchen. (make a note to self).

The designer will be here tomorrow. I am looking forward to touching base with her. Perhaps we’ll have a more agreeable idea for a desk chair. I still smile when I think about Philip’s reaction to her choice for his desk – Holy Crap!

Thursday may be the last day of renovation work until Tuesday. I don’t know what the workers’ plans are for the Easter weekend.

The house is less dusty. There is less white stuff being tracked through the house. The cats are relaxed. The house is quiet. Caitlin is up in her room enjoying the comforts of her bedroom – tv, laptop, comfy bed and warmth. Philip is at a meeting. I am in my office posting this blog, and then I will turn my attention to reading the final galley of my book.

There’s never a dull moment here. I’ll let you know tomorrow if we’re still on schedule.

Have you had your eyes checked lately?

Yesterday, I had my bi-annual check up with my optometrist. My complaint was that my right eye felt “goopy”.
It felt like it was turning to jelly, but there was no discharge or visible sign of “goopiness”. It was just a feeling. Dr. Rick, my optometrist, knew exactly what I meant.

If you know me, You know that I hate having my eyes checked. It ranks right below visiting the dentist (which I do every six months with complaint – ask my hygienist). I feel as though I’m taking a test that I have no reasonable hope in hell of passing. Which is better? The first slide or the second? Which is clearer? This or this? By the time I’m half way through the exam, my eyes ache and I have a major headache. Every nerve in my body is screaming for me to escape.

Then out of the blue, Dr. Rick asks, “Do you have sleep apnea?”
“Not that I know of,” I answer somewhat surprised. “What makes you ask?”
“You always hold your breath when you’re looking at the charts. It’s a sign of sleep apnea.”
“Really? I hold my breath because I don’t like having my eyes tested.” I answered honestly.
“I bet when you’re at your computer, you hold your breath. You have to look away to get your breathing back in sync. You should get tested. I have sleep apnea,” he confessed. “When I had the testing done, I stopped breathing over 50 times through the night. Now that I have the breathing machine I sleep like a baby.”

I went home, a bit perplexed. My vision was fine. I didn’t need a new prescription. Dr. Rick gave me the usual tips — use hot compresses to open the tear ducts, take breaks from the computer and exercise my eyes. I didn’t think I’d have a diagnosis of sleep apnea. I told my husband, Philip, of my diagnosis. He laughed, the way he always does. “You don’t stop breathing. I hear you snore all night.” Snoring is a sign of sleep apnea, too, but he still doesn’t believe it.

So last night I went to bed, thinking about sleep apnea and my sick son who was spending the night at our place for some TLC. I don’t know who or what to blame, but I kept waking up all night. I would hear Richard get up. I would think I wasn’t breathing and then I’d wake up (at least it felt like I wasn’t breathing). Was it mind over matter? I don’t know, I’ll have to wait and see how I sleep tonight.

If you haven’t visited your optometrist or ophthalmologist lately, maybe you should. Your eyes can tell him a lot about you. Of course he can diagnose your vision, but it’s the other important things like high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, high cholesterol and sleep apnea, to name a few.

Your eyes are the window to your soul and good health. Have them checked. Please.

Renovation – Day 12

It was a very noisy day today. My head was pounding – right along with every “zzzt” of the pressure hammer (if that is what it is called). I tried my various pain killers to try to ease the pain. Something kicked in, although I’m not sure which one it was.

Today the walls were primed AFTER the dust from the dry wall was vacuumed and cleaned up. The dust is still tracking through the house and I think this will continue for quite some time.

Then the trim was put up around the door frames and the windows.

The box was put up that the screen will attach to. I am looking forward to seeing the screen when it is finished.

Tomorrow, there will be more hammering and sawing as the rest of the trim is finished and the crown molding is installed. The cabinetmakers were no shows – perhaps tomorrow I will see the shelving.

I’m told the painter may arrive some time this week to start on the kitchen. Then, he’ll paint the family room. All of this is to be done before the carpeting is installed next Tuesday. I don’t know if he’ll be finished by that time given that it is the Easter weekend.

Our updated HD satellite receiver with PVR is scheduled to be installed next week. I know. We finally gave in and bought PVR. Let’s see if we use it. Philip is still looking at the space for the 70 inch tv and is wondering if it is big enough (the tv, that is). Men!

Our designer e-mailed us a picture of a chair she thought would be nice for Philip’s desk in the kitchen. After looking at the picture of the chair and then the price, Philip uttered two words, “Holy Crap!” Then after a breath or two he asked. “Does she not realize I’ll be sitting in it with my barn clothes on?”
 I added, “Your stinky dirty barn clothes.”
I e-mailed her back, “Please try again.”

Today, Tiegan asked if we were on schedule. The contractor said three weeks. Only twelve working days have gone by. I’m sure we’ll be close. If we’re one week over, I won’t mind, but I won’t tell him.

Renovation – Day 11

Today, John, the dry wall guy, made his last visit. He told me right away, “this is a dirty job – the worst of your renovation.” He was right. There is white dust everywhere. It’s down the stairs, on the banister, it’s all over the floors. But it’s not only in the renovation area. I have white dust tracked all through the house. Everything is covered in the white stuff. Even with plastic covering the doorways, the dust made its way through.. Thanks, John.

Tomorrow, the carpenters are expected to return, as well as Kyle, the contractor. The shelving is to be installed and so is the trim. I’m looking forward to seeing something “finished”.

No one mentioned the words, “on schedule” today.

Press Release – Pending

New Novel Blows Readers Away with a Whirlwind of Unlikely Romance
Literally and figuratively a match made in heaven tickles hearts of romance fiction fans
CALEDON, Ontario – (Release Date TBD) – Author Deborah Armstrong graces bookshelves with love and affection as she intertwines romance and wit in Forever Love. In this endearing romance fiction, Armstrong touches on one of the most daring decisions of a man—or woman. She snaps readers back to the reality of love at first sight against obsession in this adventure-romantic drama.
Davina Stuart, farmer and bestselling author of Second Harvest, shares a flight to Los Angeles with Hollywood’s latest heartthrob, Quinn Thomas. Three hours of in-flight speed dating and Quinn’s in love. Davina is not so sure. She’s older and wiser. She’ll settle for a one-night stand but he wants more. Davina’s cows and her children are her life. She’s not so sure about Hollywood and its glamour. Blue jeans, cowboy boots and her pickup truck are more her style. Quinn is tired of the plastic starlets, his empty bed and his lonely heart. He’d give up everything, including his career, for the love of a woman, his woman.
Armstrong’s book follows their whirlwind romance as the widow of two years, who thought her time for romance was over, finds love with a man who has to have her in his life, to love her forever. Armstrong invites readers to witness how Davina learns to face her fears, and how Quinn perseveres to win the heart of his one true love in Forever Love.
For more information on this book, interested parties may log on to www.Xlibris.com.

About the Author

Deborah Armstrong is a firm believer in genetics. She attributes her love of the English language, reading and writing to her parents. She is thrilled to have passed on her love of books (with the help of her husband, also an avid reader) to her children. Armstrong lives with her husband, three children, two cats and five hundred cows on their dairy farm in Ontario, Canada. When she’s not writing or working on the farm, she enjoys reading, traveling, watching movies and spending time with her family and friends. Armstrong enjoys strong coffee, chocolate milk and single malt scotch in no particular order.

Renovation – Days 9 & 10

I’ve been waiting for something to happen. Finally, I have pictures. The floor was leveled between the entrance way between the family room and kitchen.

The carpenters arrived to work on the shelving. I am told that Wenge will be used for the shelves. I had to look it up on the Internet to know what the wood was. I like it. There will be more work done on this spot on Tuesday.

The sample for the screen was brought to make sure of the sizing. The wood screen will go in this open space to prevent people from falling down to the basement, landing on the stairs and possibly breaking bones. The spacing in the screen is quite large, so the door and outside will still be visible, and light will come through easily. I’m sure little ones will look at it and think that perhaps it would be fun to climb. It will be firmly anchored, but the wood will not  be strong enough to hold body weight. Parents beware.

John, the dry wall guy or is he called the taper guy, visited us too. He applied the second coat on the walls and will return sometime today (Saturday) to finish up.

Kyle, the contractor, fixed the laundry room/powder room door. To you who have used this room, you will be relieved to know that the door actually shuts now and that you can lock it. Kyle said that it really bothered him and so he took the liberty to fix it. He said it’s standard for old houses to have doors that don’t close properly. No more surprise visits from the cats. You can use the powder room and know that no two-legged or four-legged being will walk in on you.

I am told there is a lot to do, but it will all fall into place.Are we still on schedule? I don’t know, but I will let you know when I find out.

Publishing Update

For all of you who are waiting for your hot off the press copy of Forever Love, don’t despair. It’s getting closer.

I have received the copy-edited manuscript for a final read through. I am rather impressed that there weren’t many errors – a few commas and ‘ands’ needed. However, I’m only a third of the way through my read through.

I had to laugh when it was recommended that I not use the term, ‘change room’. It seems it’s not recognized in the States and ‘changing room’ is preferred. Well, being Canadian, I wasn’t into ‘changing’. Instead, I offered ‘fitting room’ as the replacement. We have fitting rooms and change rooms here, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a changing room. If you have, please let me know.

I also had to inform the editor that my use of the term ‘head of cattle’ was correct. He or she had corrected the term to read ‘heads of cattle’, and that certainly would not do. You be the judge – “We have 500 head of cattle” as opposed to, “We have 500 heads of cattle.” All I can picture is 500 cows without bodies as they chew their cud. Gross!

Tonight I will continue with my reading. I want this work published!

Tiegan is asking for me to upload Chapter 15 of Family Pictures. I am also revising Love’s Promise so that it is ready for the Authonomy Website. I am aiming for April – sometime after taxes are done and my office is finally back in order. Oh yes, and sometime after the renovation is completed.

Renovation – Day 7 & 8

There isn’t much to report, but not to worry – WE’RE STILL ON SCHEDULE!

Yesterday the electrician, Carlo, arrived to install plates on the switches. Only the outdoor switches were done. I don’t know why this was a priority, but it was. Now we can see outside when it’s dark, but we can’t see inside the family room. While he was here, I asked him to look at the basement lights and he will fix them when he returns. So this day was a good day.

Today, John, the dry waller (I hope that’s what I should call him) arrived to start the taping and whatever else it is called. He managed to do the whole room in under three hours. John will be back on Friday and then on Saturday or Sunday to finish the job. It has to be done since the carpet is scheduled to be installed on Tuesday.

That pile you see is his work clothes and that is the corner where he changes. I know this because this is where I almost saw him between changes of clothes. I know now to “knock” on the plastic in case he needs privacy.

For those of you who know my household, privacy is very rare, even modesty. We may not have Richard walking about in his boxers, but you may catch one of us stripping on our way from the hot tub to the upstairs. I know Caitlin and Tiegan will think, “That’s not the only time,” but we won’t go there…

I realize that I’m digressing, but this is the only ‘near excitement’ I’ve had in the last two days in regard to our renovation project.

Renovation – Day 6

Nothing much happened. Kyle and his assistant tidied up the family room to have it ready for the dry waller.

The electrician was scheduled to finish up something. The designer called to say she wanted to discuss shelving. Both were no shows.

We’re still on schedule though.

My wonderful sister, Barb, and her husband, Ross, dropped by. I gave them the grand tour of the empty room.and acted out where the various pieces of furniture would go. I pointed to the cats (the calico and the grey) and said, “There’s my color pallet.”  I know it’s hard to tell in the photos (will try for better ones later), but Duchess, the grey cat, is the same shade as the sofas. Chloe, the calico, has the colors that will be found in almost everything else.

We sat in the kitchen and nursed our hot cups of coffee. The house is cold. The fireplace is covered in plastic wrap so it can’t be turned on to heat the house. My hands have been cold all day. They are still cold as I type this. I’m off to the gym to get my blood circulating and warmed.

Renovation – Day 5

I’m a day late in posting. By the time I arrived home to take pictures, it was too dark in the room. We have walls and a ceiling now. The dry waller can’t make it here until Wednesday, but I am assured that we are still on schedule. The carpeting is to be installed the following Tuesday and the painter arrives the following Monday. Easter falls into place somewhere along our timeline and we are unsure how this will affect our schedule.

The cabinet makers were here yesterday to figure out what to do with the now demolished bookcases. I will be getting two prices – one for glass shelves with mini pot lights and one for wooden shelves. I think the glass shelves will look better and am leaning toward that decision.

My mind has gone blank as to the chosen colors for the walls. The wall for the flat screen is similar to a steel gray (I’m not good with color samples and names). The other walls will be in the light tan range. I can imagine Paula cringing as she reads this. The color for the kitchen is Burnt Almond – I think. The colors work – that’s the main thing.

As I’m writing this, the contractor has arrived with a Tim’s in hand to finish up the last little bits for the dry walling. The noise will begin soon.

My friend, Paula, who has the amazing talent for decorating (she’s not doing the family room, by the way) is redoing her living room. She’s removing a love seat and replacing it with two wing backed armchairs. She has the material samples for the chairs, pillows and ottoman hanging from two stand in chairs. She asked my opinion as to which samples I liked. We both agreed on what didn’t work, but once again, my first choice was not hers and in one sentence she set me straight as to why I was wrong. Her choice was more dramatic. My choice was subdued. I like her choice. It will definitely work. This is why I don’t decorate or renovate on my own. I can tell what does or doesn’t work, but it’s the talent in knowing when something truly works that I lack completely.

Renovation – Day 4

I wish I had a more exciting picture to show you, but I don’t. Today, the wiring was installed for Philip’s 70″ television and sound system. With over the phone advice from my amazing brother-in-law, Ross, the men were able to figure out the correct way to put in the wiring from the tv up into the ceiling and across to the opposite wall. I now have black wires hanging like snakes from the ceiling and walls. It’s a good thing I don’t mind snakes.

Today the walls were prepared (?). Tomorrow the electrician will finish and then the walls will go up. Monday and the rest of the week is slated for drywall.

“Everything is going according to schedule,” Kyle, the contractor, assures me as he gives me his best smile. I believe him.

Philip is wondering if he should have bought the 80″ flat screen television. If this is all he worries about over the next two to three weeks, I will be pleasantly surprised.

Renovation – Day 3

I had a very disturbing morning. Four fairly good looking young men worked endlessly in the family room with their electric drills, hammers and whatever else one needs to install electrical wires and fittings. The sound was deafening as it pulsated through the walls and ceiling of my office which is directly underneath the family room.. It felt as though I were in a dentist’s office, forced to listen to his drill as he filled endless cavities.

When the power was cut off to the office and my computer died quickly, I decided that today would be a no work day. So, I parked myself at the kitchen table within range of our internet and decided to catch up on owed reads on Authonomy and other fun stuff.

Now, the house is quiet and dusty and it’s time to catch up on some “real” work. Happily, there is not much to report – no problems so far.

Renovation – Day 2

A lot happened today. At first glance, one may not notice, but I heard it all day long. Bang. Bang. Bang. (The sound of hammers). Screeeeeew.  (That’s the sound of an electric screwdriver). Crash! The sound of brick work falling down the stairs.

Today the floor was screwed down. The brick planter was disassembled. The wall frame for Philip’s70 inch flat screen was installed. The insulation was removed from where the electrician would need to work.

Tomorrow the electrician will be here to rewire the room for pot lights and dimmer switches. How exciting! Then the walls go up.

I wish there was more to tell. Some big snafu to rave about (not really), but it was a normal noisy renovation day.

Renovation – Day 1

Our family room was built in 1972, replacing the wood shed that was attached to the century farmhouse. My in-laws built it and did a wonderful job. The room is a spacious 20 x20, with full windows on the north and south sides. We have a gas fireplace, plenty of room to store books, collectibles and dust.

This year, we decided to renovate. The oak paneling was dated, our large television overpowered the room and the twenty-six year old blinds had faded from the sun. It was time. So, with the amazing ideas and designs from a friend who is also a well know interior designer, we took the plunge. One visit to a furniture maker’s showroom and we had decided on the style, stuffing and size of our two sofas. By the end of the next visit, the fabrics had been chosen along with the various tables, lamps and chairs. The kitchen is also to be touched up with new paint and light fixture.  

The tradesmen were booked, the calendar checked and the beginning date decided upon. “Ten weeks” we were told – from the time the orders are placed for the furniture and the completion of the room. It took us the weekend to clean out the family room. Books were taken upstairs to another bookcase, where its occupants were quickly dispatched to the garbage. My husband and I had saved both our high school and university textbooks. They wouldn’t be looked at again. We saved the Hardy Boys that my husband had read as a young boy. We saved Little Women and books my father-in-law had been given as presents in the 1940’s. We saved the history books and the reference books that could be useful.

I threw out collectibles I had been saving for almost forty years. I threw out keepsakes from trips to Europe. They had lost their appeal long ago. I threw out crafts the kids had made for me – with their encouragement, “Mom, get rid of it!” I threw out jigsaw puzzles, not sure if I still had all of the pieces. I wanted to throw out our last three remaining tropical fish. My daughter wouldn’t let me so she put the tank heater in with the goldfish (they winter upstairs in a separate tank) and added the three tropical fish to the mix. She had to give them a chance to survive or get eaten. It’s been twenty four hours and they are still swimming.

My dining room table is stacked with the things that will go back into the new family room or will be thrown out after we determine there is no place or need for them anymore. I cringe every time I have to walk through the room.

I have found old photographs and some not so old. I took some time this morning and posted some of them on Facebook, thinking my friends and family would enjoy them. I found old note paper and greeting cards that were never sent.

So far, everything is going according to schedule. This morning, the carpeting was ripped out, the oak paneling was pried off the walls, the valances were pulled from the ceiling, and the old electric baseboard heaters were ripped from the walls. The electrician visited to see what work he needs to do. Tomorrow the stone planter will be ripped out and work will begin on the walls and ceiling.

Tonight my husband watches television in the basement as I work at my computer. The cats have explored the vacant room and are now bored. It’s time to go outside and explore. Tomorrow, they will probably take cover in one of our bedrooms and not emerge until the noisy strangers have left.
The family room is defined as a place where family gathers with friends to relax, watch television, play games and converse.


I’m looking forward to having one again.

You know your daughter is a farmer when…

  • she gets excited when she wins five doses of bull semen
  • she says that size matters – with pickup trucks
  • she’ll shovel shit but won’t clean out the cat’s litter box
  • she’ll pick steak over salad every time

Where Have You Been, Pussy Cat?

I’ve been busy. That’s my only excuse for not blogging. I wish I had something original to tell you.
Something like:

  •  – my husband whisked me off on a month’s cruise (me on a boat? – not a good idea)  
  •  – our power has been out on the farm and we’ve had to rough it for the last month (me and camping? – get serious)
  •  – there’s been nothing for me to write (have you seen my laptops? – yes I am writing on two laptops and one desktop and I carry a flash drive in my jeans’ pocket).
No, the reason for my not blogging has been that I have been working to get Forever Love back to the publisher. I made February 29th the deadline to resubmit the manuscript. Today, March 8th, I finally hit the send button and committed myself to eternal pride or embarrassment.
Perhaps I will be proud and embarrassed at the same time. I’m sure someone or more than one will say, “Great job, but how could you write something like that? Aren’t you embarrassed to have your family and friends read it?”
My response would be something like, “Thanks for liking it. How could I write something like this? Quite easily – I wrote it for them. My family and my friends are my inspiration. You would have seen that if you read the book right through. You would have seen their names, and even if you didn’t, they are there between the lines.” 
Forget about all of the sex, although, it may be hard to do since it’s a major component of the book. Rather, think about the risk someone you know (that’s me) took to put it all out there for your enjoyment. To be honest, I put it out there for my enjoyment, too. I accept the possibility that not every one will want to read this book and that some may read it and not like it. That’s okay.
If you don’t like to read sex scenes, I think your reading will be limited to the first three chapters, maybe two in the middle and the last two.The sex doesn’t jump out at you. You know when it’s coming. As I write this, I think of Tiegan’s paperbacks and how we teased her mercilessly one summer when the we could open any book she was reading and instantly find a sex scene. Thank you, Tiegan, for being my muse.
I read my blog from four months ago. I wrote about my binders on the shelf – the ones with the various versions of Forever Love. Tonight I will put Binder 4 ( I think it’s the thirteenth revision) with them. This binder is orange. It has 74,993 words less the original version. That’s 300 pages deleted of family stories I put into print.as Davi’s and Quinn’s adventures. Perhaps I’ll use them another time.
Part Two is waiting to be revised. If I tell you I’m busy. You’ll know why. 
 

Post Adventure – Condition Normal

I’ve been home from vacation for four days now and everything seems to be back to normal. My feet and legs are no longer swollen. I can gaze down at my tender tootsies and marvel at their slenderness, despite their high arch and claw toes. I am no longer reminded of the elderly lady clad in black, wearing support hose, whose legs are as thick as a tree trunk with feet to match crammed into heavy black shoes. 

My sleep pattern has returned to normal. I am back in my own bed – the waterbed I’ve had for thirty years and have had a love hate relationship with for the past year. I sleep through the night with what seems to be endless dreams of wonderful weirdness. I wake up refreshed and ready to face the day. 
I don’t hear the sounds of mourning doves, white owls (Philip’s bird of choice) or the beast that haunted our roof top for one very long sleepless night. Ahh – the sounds of silence.
My cat is talking to me in the morning, reminding me that feeding her should be my first act of the day, that is, after my visit to the bathroom. She likes bathroom time, too, when she gets her belly rubbed, her eyes cleaned and a poke or two from my feet. Her welcome home gift to me was a dried up hairball in my bed. Thank you, Chloe, I missed you, too.
Now that I’m home, I have to start cooking again. I don’t really look forward to cooking. I think most people like having someone else cook for them. Usually, someone else’s cooking always tastes better. I say usually – we all know someone who cannot cook no matter how hard they try. They are blessed with many other talents. I’m not pointing fingers, but you know who you are.
Now that I’m home, I have to be responsible. I have to buy groceries, do the laundry and keep the house tidy. I have to get my accounting ready for year end. I have to prioritize my work – again. What gets done first? Farm, church, SHARE, personal, estate? When do I fit in the time to write?
You may ask – Aren’t you writing now?

To which I reply – Yes, finally.

Our Adventures – Part Deux

Mr. Ingledale’s burn turned out to be more major than minor. He didn’t make his way back into the sun until our second last day on the island. Remember fellow travelers – do not apply spray sunscreen outdoors in the wind, unless you are trying for that just burned look.

The two Mr.’s had a great time body surfing. The waves were massive and constant. Mr. Ingledale’s laughter could be heard by all as his body was continuously smashed by the waves. Mrs. Ingledale refused to watch them so I tried to provide the adult supervision. Eventually, I got bored watching the grown men at play and returned to revising my manuscript.

Mrs. Ingledale and I enjoyed the beach candy – very lovely indeed. We also scouted the various sun bathers for tattoos – doing research for Family Pictures. To the women who were inked – What were you thinking? One woman had wings on her back, but they were not angels’ – more demonic with claws. And the men? We saw the standard barbed wire, crosses and various beasts. The man whose back was tattooed with what appeared to be the face of death – again, what were you thinking?

I changed Mr. Ingledale’s name from Indian Jones to Captain Highliner. He was our rain adviser as he looked out onto the horizon and told us how much time we had before the rains came. He was always right. We also made use of Captain Highliner’s iPhone so that we could keep track of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the weather back home and in Samana. The translator app came in very handy as we tried to sing along with Beatles songs being sung in Spanish.

I was the teller of time, being the only one who brought a watch to the beach.  Usually it would be Mr. Ingledale who would ask me the time and it was always time for lunch, drinks, snacks, more drinks, time to move to the pool, time for cocktails and time to get ready for dinner. He had an uncanny talent for asking the time at the right moment.

Mrs. Ingledale was our humorist as she read aloud from her book about one man’s hike through Ireland. We were amazed to learn that the Irish were involved with Noah’s ark and had also attended the crucifixion of Christ. I think the gist of the story was that whatever the event, past or present, the Irish were there.

As for Mr. Armstrong – he was our scout for the prime beach location – the right amount of sun and shade, close to the water and visible to the waiters for bar service. He would also provide commentary or the right answer for the rest of us when we were too fried (by the sun, of course) to know the correct answer to our questions. I don’t know if his answers were correct, but he gave them with so much confidence we had to accept them as the truth.

As I write this, I can’t help but smile and shake my head as I think about the four of us and wonder how we would ever survive on our own. We had one rule – Make sure you tell an adult where you’re going. I think that says it all and it’s all good.

Our Adventures with the Ingledales

Once again we have decided to holiday with the Ingledale family, but this time without kids in tow and once again we started off laughing and haven’t stopped.

Mrs. Ingledale and I have both been caught wearing our clothing inside out. She wore her swimsuit cover up inside out (only noticeable by the black tag) and I had my swimsuit on inside out (only noticeable by the white tag). Mr. Ingledale sustained a minor sunburn – using spray sun block on a windy beach is not a good idea. I needed  my hubby’s assistance to get out of the water (visions of the commercial – help I’ve fallen and I can’t get up flashed through my mind).

Both hubbys decided to try their skills at water sports. Mr. Ingledale went wind surfing and Mr, Armstrong went kayaking. They went without telling us – guess they didn’t want an audience. Anyway, Mr. Ingledale needed to be towed back to shore – first by Mr. Armstrong then by the water patrol boat. We weren’t given the complete story until a few hours later and a couple of glasses of good chianti.

We are also working on our Spanish – please, thank you and for four. Mr. Ingledale is really into using the language, although we wonder how he manages to speak Spanish with an Italian accent.

Mrs. Ingledale and I have renamed ourselves. She is Thelma and I am Louise. Our husbands are now Indiana Jones and Dean Martin. We are the embodiment of cool, adventurous, fun loving and too old to care what anyone else thinks.

Right now it is pouring with liquid sunshine. Dean Martin is out on the patio reading his book, Indiana Jones is probably checking last night’s sports scores, Thelma is reapplying sunscreen and I am posting this. It’s all good. Can’t wait for the next adventure…

Baby it’s Hot Down Here

Once again the Ingledales and Armstrongs have decided to vacation together. We have only been away from home for 36 hours and there is so much to tell.

New Year’s

It’s New Year’s Eve day. The house is clean, the kitchen cupboards and fridge are filled with food, the wine rack is full and the bank account is on the plus side. According to the Ingledales, you need to have a clean and orderly house and plenty of food in the house to guarantee that the New Year will provide the same. I added the full wine rack and money in the bank for my own piece of mind.

Tonight we’ll be celebrating bringing in the New Year with the Ingledales. It’s been a tradition that started years ago. Even we can’t remember with our collective memories when we started to celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve together. I think it may be coming up to our twentieth year, but I don’t know.

We’ll eat delicious appetizers, enjoy an amazing home cooked meal with a few bottles of well matched wine. We’ll probably play a game or watch something on television. We’ll pull out our predictions for 2011 and see who was the most right (?) and make ones for 2012. We’ll talk about politics, entertainment and the latest news. Then as it nears midnight, we’ll find the right channel on the television to watch the countdown to the New Year. We’ll see Dick Clark giving the commentary and we’ll wonder why he still does it. We’ll cheer in the New Year, hug and kiss each other then the Ingledales will beat their pots at the front and back doors for good luck (or something like that) and then we’ll sing Happy Birthday to Philip, our New Year’s baby.

Our cell phones will ring. Children celebrating elsewhere will phone to wish us a Happy New Year. We’ll tell them we love them – there’s no better way to start the New Year than by telling someone you love them and being told you’re loved back.

We’ll try to keep the celebration going, but it won’t last for long. Philip will be thinking that morning chores come early and he really should try to get in five hours sleep. Mr. Ingledale’s eyes will start to close although he says he’s fine. Mrs. Ingledale will be thinking of her children off partying with friends.

I’ll be thinking of friends and my family, too, wishing them health and happiness and the joy that comes with having friends and family. I think that sometimes we forget that having friends and family to share our life with is so important. To have everything but to have no one to share it with is a very lonely life. I am thankful that I have all of you to share my life with through all the good times and the bad. I am thankful for all the kind words and hugs and emails that let me know that you care. I am thankful for your laughter at my jokes and your interest in my latest project. I am thankful for you being you.

Happy New Year, everyone! All the best to you and your family.

Deb 

It’s Been A Year

One year ago today we lost Bryan. I remember the heartache, the tremendous sense of loss, the incredulity of someone so young dying so tragically. We all handled the news of his death in our own way. Some of us carried on, keeping our grief hidden while others cried openly, gladly accepting comforting hugs from friends and strangers.

Today, we still miss him but the heartache has dulled. It’s hard to believe he’s gone and we won’t see him again. In the back of our minds we tell ourselves that he’s still away at college or he’s moved far away. We’re sure we’ll see him soon. And we do see him and we do hear from him. I see a young man in a crowd and he reminds me of Bryan. I hear a laugh or see a silly commercial on television and I think of Bryan. We get together as a family and someone says, “Remember when Bryan…?” Then the stories flow freely and sometimes the tears. But it’s all good. Good memories. Good tears. Good feelings that we were blessed to have had him in our lives – as a son, nephew, grandson, brother, cousin or friend.

Today I  sit in my office and I cry for him. I cry for his loss and for ours. What a terrible senseless tragedy.

I was wrong. The heartache hasn’t dulled. It’s still here.

Family Photos

No – this isn’t what you think. I’m not posting about family photographs or family stuff or Christmas for that matter. An idea for a story hit me this week and I’ve been toying with it. Work has come to a standstill. Laundry is piling up and the vacuum is asking to be let out from the closet. Thank goodness for frozen food and canned soup or else the natives would be banging at my office door. I’ve posted the first six chapters on my Authonomy Website. For those of you who don’t or can’t get to that site, here is the first chapter for you. If you’d like to read more, please register as a follower on my blog. I know you’re reading my posts. If I’m brave enough to post them, won’t you be brave enough to admit it publicly?

Tiegan wants this finished over the Christmas holidays. Don’t blame me if my work doesn’t get done. I write for her.

Chapter One
Molly sat at a table in the local coffee shop sipping at her double Americano as she watched the thunderstorm outside. Sheets of rain pelted down onto the street, soaking pedestrians and causing mini flash floods on the sidewalk.

The forecast hadn’t called for rain today. It was obvious since very few of the people outside were carrying umbrellas. Those who had the time to wait it out ducked into the coffee shop for refuge. Molly was lucky. She’d been sitting at her table for the last hour or so drinking coffee and thinking about nothing in particular. She liked days like these when she had no place in particular to be and no where she wanted to go.

“Is this seat taken?” a warm voice asked her, sending shivers up her spine.

Molly looked away from the window to find a rain soaked man standing by the empty chair at her table. Water dripped from his leather coat as he held his steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a guitar case in the other.

“No,” she answered quickly. “Please take it.”

“Thanks,” he said appreciatively as he leaned his guitar case against the window, took off his coat and sat down at the table. “I didn’t know they were calling for rain today,” he said, sounding slightly pissed off.

“It wasn’t called for, but this area is known for freak thunderstorms this time of year. Sorry,” Molly apologized as though the weather were her fault. “The locals don’t go anywhere without their umbrellas.” She nodded to one sticking out of her bag.

“So I guess you can tell who the tourists are by the ones who are soaked?” he smiled at her sheepishly.
Molly returned his smile, “Most of the time, yes.” She held out her hand to him, “Welcome to Ingledale. My name is Molly MacGuire.”

“Jack Thomas,” he said as he shook her hand.

Jack tried no to stare at the woman sitting across from him but her beauty was hard to ignore. Her long blonde hair fell in waves past her shoulders. Her eyes were pale blue, set perfectly in a face that was slightly round with unblemished snow white skin. It was her disarming smile that pulled him in instantly.

Maggie couldn’t help but take stock of the man looking at her. She was immediately drawn to his eyes. She had never seen grey eyes before. His face was chiselled with a boyish smile. His head was covered by a mop of dark hair. One ear had a gold stud in it.

“So you’re a tourist? “Molly asked as she realized they’d been staring at each other for too long.

“No touring. I’m here for a few days then moving on.” Jack looked out the window at the deluge. “I’m supposed to be somewhere right now.”

“Somewhere important?” Molly asked, almost disappointed that he should be anywhere but sitting across from her.

“Yes,” he said softly then shook his head and looked back at her. “But it can wait. They’ll call me when they realize I’m late.”

“They?” Molly asked with great interest.

“My band,” Jack nodded toward his guitar case. “I’m late for rehearsal.”

“So you’re a real musician?” she raised her eyebrow.

“I guess you could say that,” he chuckled. His mouth opened to elaborate then he stopped as he realized that she probably had no idea who he was.

“What about you? What do you do in Ingledale?”

“I own the local bar, MacGuire’s. It’s across the street from the theatre. If you’d kept walking you’d have walked right past it.”

“If you own your own place, what are you doing in here?” he asked, intrigued.

“Change of scenery,” Molly leaned in toward him as if confessing a secret. “It’s a different crowd in here. Sometimes I need the quiet.”

Molly didn’t explain that MacGuire’s was a busy and noisy hang out for the university crowd. The food was good and the beer was reasonably priced, a must for that crowd.

“I like a change of scenery, too,” Jack agreed. “That’s why I got caught in the rain.”

“Rain’s supposed to be good luck,” Molly said as though it were a matter of fact.

“Do you think so?” He agreed silently. What great luck it was to have opted to walk to the theatre instead of taking the limo.

“Yes, I do,” Molly drained her coffee cup. “It washes away the old and lets new things begin afresh. Have you ever watched the sun come out after a thunderstorm and marvelled at how everything is different? The air is cleaner, the temperature changes, even the birds sing a different tune.”

“Not to mention the beautiful rainbows,” Jack offered.

“And the rainbows,” Molly agreed.

He nodded to her empty cup. “Would you like another? My treat.”

Molly smiled at him, “Please. Double Americano. No sugar.”

“You like the strong stuff I see,” Jack chuckled. “My mom likes it strong, too.”

“It’s the only way to drink coffee.”
Molly watched Jack as he took their empty cups to the counter and ordered two Americanos. He was about six foot three inches with broad shoulders and a lean body. He wore a white shirt and baggy jeans.
What a waste, Molly thought, I bet he’s got a gorgeous ass.

Jack knew he was being ogled as he leaned into the counter to place his order. He was used to it. He’d learned from his dad that it came with the territory. But for some reason he hoped Molly liked what she saw.

“They’ll stare at you and undress you with their eyes, Jack,” he remembered his dad telling him, “Let them. As long as you have one woman who wants you for who you are inside, the rest won’t matter.”

Jack returned to the table with the coffee.

“It seems like you come here a lot,” he said to her as he placed her cup down in front of her. “You forgot to tell me you liked cream with it.”

Molly looked into her cup. “Thank you, “she said as she saw the cream coloured coffee.

“You’re welcome.” Jack caught himself staring at her. God, she was beautiful. She wore a bit of make-up just enough to highlight her eyes and add color to her full lips.

“Are you in a band?” Molly asked him.

“Like a bar band?” Jack answered casually.

“Yes. Like a bar band. Sometimes I hire a band for weekends. Is your band any good?”

“You wouldn’t want us,” Jack said to her, shaking his head.

“That bad?” she laughed.

“No. We’re just not playing in bars right now.”

“Still struggling to become famous?”

“Just struggling,” Jack said sadly.

He should have told her who he was. Jack Thomas, lead singer and guitarist of the Dragon Slayers, nominated best new group and album of this year. Their latest single, I’m Lonely had been released just this week and was already in the top ten on the Billboard chart. But the band was struggling to stay together.

“It will work out for you,” Molly said with conviction.

“How do you know that?” he asked her.

“The rain has stopped and there’s a double rainbow outside. Now that has to bring you good luck.”

“Have you always been so upbeat?’ Jack asked Molly, dying to touch her hand and feel her positive energy.
 He was sure she had it flowing through her.

“No,” she shook her head, “but eventually I realized that there was no use in seeing the bad in everything. I figured that if I saw the good in everything then maybe the good would stay with me.”

“You sound like my mom,” Jack said thoughtfully. “She’s the eternal optimist.”

“What about your dad?”

“My mom’s his world. As long as she’s happy, he’s happy.”

“Mmm, sounds romantic,” Molly said dreamily. “You must come from a happy family.”

Jack couldn’t believe his luck. Molly had no clue who he was or who his parents were. His father, Quinn Thomas, was a Hollywood movie star with four Academy Awards for best actor. Even now at age fifty, Quinn Thomas was still one of the top twenty- five sexiest men alive. His mother, Davina Stuart, was a well known author. Their marriage was a Hollywood anomaly. Not only had their marriage lasted twenty-five years, but there had never been one scandal or hint of scandal to hit the tabloids. His parents were hopelessly in love with each other. Jack wanted to find a love like that.

“I do,” he answered. “What about you?”

“My dad died when I was eight. My mom remarried last year and moved away with her new husband. I took over the running of the bar.”

“I’m sorry about your dad,” Jack said softly. “I can’t imagine not having mine around.”

“Oh, he’s around me every day,” Molly said without sadness. “When you come to my bar you’ll see his pictures everywhere. I’ll introduce you to him.”

Molly couldn’t believe the words as they left her mouth. She had never been so brazen in talking to men, unless of course she had the security of her oak bar standing between them.

“Cool,” Jack said eagerly. “I’m looking forward to it.”

His cell phone rang. Jack looked at the display then typed something into it.

“I have to go,” he said reluctantly.

“Drop by my bar and have a drink on the house,” Molly said cheerfully.”If you’ve got your guitar, maybe you can play for us.”

“Maybe I will.” Jack stared at her. He didn’t want to leave this woman. She was pulling him into her and he didn’t want to break the connection. “There’s a concert playing tonight, The Dragon Slayers. Have you heard of them?” He tried to look casual as he waited for her reply.

“I’ve heard of them but I’ve never seen them. Their new single is out this week. It’s something about being lonely I’m not sure what it’s called.”

Jack breathed out a sigh of relief. She was either an excellent liar or she really had no idea who he was.
“It’s called, ‘I’m Lonely’. I have to work at the theatre tonight. If I get you a pass, will you come to the concert? I won’t be able to sit with you, but I’ll see you there. We can go out for drinks or a late dinner afterwards. You can introduce me to your dad.”

Molly couldn’t resist his eyes. They were pleading with her to say yes.

“Yes. I’d love to go. Thank you.”

“Great,” he said, tamping down his excitement. “I’ll have a pass waiting for you at the box office.”

“Are you sure you can do that? I hear the concert’s been sold out.”

“Don’t worry. I can always get someone in.”

Jack stood up from the table and put on his damp coat. He reached for his guitar case. “I’ll see you later, Molly.”

“Bye, Jack. Later.” Molly smiled at him.

She watched him as he made his way along the sidewalk. He walked tall, holding his head high with his shoulders pushed back. Her mother had always told her that men should always walk that way, as though they were challenging the world to take them on. He was soon out of sight but not out of mind. Molly MacGuire had just found someone to occupy her thoughts for the rest of the afternoon.

Jingle Bells

On Saturday, I voluntold (how I love that new word) my family that we would be attending a seniors’ Christmas Cabaret in Guelph. As we sat down at our table and saw the bowls of snacks and the two bottles of wine, we realized that we could be in for a long night. Then we glanced at the program. The list of skits hinted at a two hour program. It ended up being three and one half hours including the fifteen minute intermission.

My mother sat with us at our table. Her hearing wasn’t the best that night. One ear is totally deaf and the other ear needs a hearing aid. Mom didn’t hear most of the jokes and looked a bit puzzled at some of the skits. No wonder – if you didn’t hear the dialogue, you’d have no idea what was going on. Mom knew the actors though, and would tell my sister the age of the various participants. One singer was well into her nineties and most of the men were in their eighties.

Things I Learned Yesterday

Yesterday I learned that my blood pressure is high but not high enough to kill me right away. If I don’t do anything about it to lower it now, maybe in ten or fifteen years  I may suffer the repercussions.

Yesterday I learned that my headaches are not caused from high blood pressure or migraines.

Yesterday I learned that the pain in my chest is not indicative of heart problems or related to high blood pressure.

Yesterday I learned that if I apply pressure to the back of my skull, in just the right spot, then release, the pain I feel will tell me from where the pain originates.

Yesterday I learned that I have pulled a muscle in my neck which I don’t feel.

Yesterday I learned that the pulled muscle in my neck is pulling across my chest, giving me chest pain.

Yesterday I learned that the pain in my head is caused from the pulled muscle in my neck.

Yesterday I learned that a good massage and a new pillow would help alleviate the pain.

Yesterday I learned that my migraines will change as I age. Whoopee! Thank you menopause.

Yesterday I learned that sometimes things seem worse than they actually are. When in doubt see your doctor.

Something for Sunday

I’ve been asked to tell my story in five minutes or less. If the story were about my actual book, I would have no problem telling you about it. Hopefully, by the end of the five minutes you’d want to read the story to find out who I actually wrote about in the book. Would you find yourself depicted in their story or at the very least, would you see your name in print? Don’t worry, there’s always Part Two if you don’t find yourself in Part One. Maybe if you ask me nicely, I’ll write your name in a sentence or two.

But the story I’ve been asked to tell is the story about me. It’s more personal and definitely harder to talk about. It’s my story as it pertains to me and the giving of my talents, my time and my money to the church. Those who really know me, know that I am a newbie to the faith community. Maybe they don’t see me that way, but it’s how I see myself. I haven’t spent my whole life involved with a church or even religion. I’m not as confident in having faith or in the power of prayer.

Maybe I am not as much of a newbie as I think. I get the gist of most of the Bible stories I hear on Sunday mornings. I know that the teachings of Jesus are common sense and that no matter what our faith is, we should be living our lives by being kind and loving, giving of ourselves to friends and strangers, and being the best possible version of ourselves that we can be without pretense. We can all talk the talk, it’s the walking the walk that is the challenge. I guess that’s why I wear low heels.

My mother was raised Anglican. My father was an atheist, although he believed in reincarnation and could sing all the old hymns from memory. My father was well read in religion. He could discuss most faiths and always enjoyed having Philip over for religious debates. My father always asked Philip to say Grace at the table. We never said Grace when I was growing up, but my father was always respectful of Philip’s beliefs so we said Grace. I know it wouldn’t have mattered to Philip if we’d said Grace, but in return, out of respect for my dad, he would offer thanks before the meal.

And so, this brings me to why I am a part of Mayfield Church. Out of respect for Philip and and his family, I started attending church after we were married. I remember that we started off right away giving regularly to both the Local fund and the Mission and Service fund. It was ingrained in Philip. His parents were stellar role models for giving of one’s talents. Anyway, Philip was involved with Stewards and Sunday School and I eventually felt the call to become involved.. My talents were not in teaching Sunday School or in serving on the various other committees. My talent, I thought, was with money so I volunteered to be the Treasurer a very long time ago.

I look after paying the bills so that we have heat and hydro for our Sunday morning service. I make sure that our minister, our choir director, and our church secretary  are paid so that we are blessed with their talents every day of the week. I look after keeping the church finances up to date so that you know if you need to give more of your talents. One of my talents is to know your envelope number but to not remember your donation balance, unless you give the same amount 52 times a year and then I could easily do the math and let you know. Otherwise, I’d have to look it up. I’m not that talented.

I’m also a member of the Ministry of Mission and Outreach and the choir. I enjoy being a part of Mission and Outreach because it gives me the chance to give outside of the church. I do support many other charities. I can write the cheque. That’s the easy part. It’s the giving of my time that I look forward to;. bringing guest speakers to our church to tell us about what’s going on outside our doors, telling us that there is a definite need for our talents whether it’s money or our hands.

I love being a member of the choir. I love sharing the gift of music. I love the four part harmonies. Sometimes it’s five or six part when we don’t always hit the right notes, but that’s okay. It’s like the sharing of our talents – whether we sing soprano, alto, tenor , bass or somewhere in between we sound amazing. And whether it’s the sharing of our time, or money or our particular talent, together as the congregation of Mayfield United Church we are amazing.

So, that’s my story about my talents. We all have talents. Today’s reading deals with the use of our talents. How do you plan to use yours?

Revision

So here it is – my blog for the day. I sent my manuscript to my editor today. I think it’s the seventh revision. I have three printed editions on my bookshelf. The red binder reads VERY FIRST TRY. This is the version I wrote with Tiegan and Caitlin in mind. I remember when I got the courage to toss the binder on Tiegan’s bed at bedtime and suggested she might want to have a look inside. I also remember Caitlin coming home from school and looking for this binder, hoping there would be new pages added to it for her to read. This binder is 420 pages long with two endings. My girls got to pick their favourite ending.

I remember how I came up with the ending that they didn’t like. I was at a friend’s father’s funeral. I was crying and Philip thought I’d lost it because I didn’t know the man and it really wasn’t an emotional service. I had to tell him that I had just realized that I had to kill off my hero. It was the only way to end the story and that’s why I was crying. I think Philip thought I’d really lost my sanity by then. Don’t worry, I didn’t kill off my hero. My girls cried too much when they read that ending and told me I just couldn’t do that to Quinn. And so began Part Two.

The black binder on my bookshelf reads FIRST EDITION FOREVER LOVE AND LOVE’S PROMISE. The page count for this is 763. This is the one I sent to friends and family. If you didn’t get this, please don’t be offended. The story has changed. Just a little bit. Thank you to those who did read it for me and offered your opinions.

My purple binder is the version I planned on self-publishing, SUBMITTED VERSION FOREVER LOVE. It is only Part One and is 570 pages and 126,000 words. This is the version I sent to an editor for evaluation in August. She liked the story and had great things to say about it, but the story was too long. I had to make cuts, drastic cuts. When I made the cuts, I had to change the story. By the time I was finished I was down to 109,000 words, This is an acceptable word count for chick lit and romance novels. The standard for Harlequin novels is around 50,000 – 60,000.

On my laptop and my desktop I have other versions of the manuscript saved. They are categorized by the date or by the chapter. Sometimes I forgot how I saved a day’s work and would spend a frantic fifteen or twenty minutes entering searches for various words I knew I had used in order to find a particular chapter. From now on everything is saved to a USB stick and a folder for the day.

I have also uploaded fifteen chapters to a website called authonomy.com. This is a website for authors, published or not, to share their work with others. I was doing quite well on this site. I had made it to the top 200 out of a few thousand. Then before I knew it I had plummeted down to the 600’s. Now, after taking my book off the site while I updated it, I am in the 800 level. My goal is to get back up there. The top five books at the end of each month are evaluated by Harper Collins. If they are good enough, Harper Collins publishes them. It takes a minimum of a year to make it up through the ranks. Rankings can fluctuate daily.

So what happens next? I ignore Part One and read through Part Two again. I’ll have to make sure that the changes I made in Part One are carried through to Part Two because I know all of you will notice if I’ve made a mistake. So here we go again. Revision. Revision. Revision.

I’m so proud. My son’s on YouTube

I don’t kiss and tell, but…

I don’t kiss and tell, but last night I had a wonderful time out with friends and family. It was at the annual SHARE dinner and dance, a fund raiser for a charity that was started by my father-in-law and other local farmers in the area to give a helping hand up instead of a hand out to people in other countries, particularly South and Central America.

My father-in-law, David, passed away on September 13th. He was a faithful attendee of this SHARE fund raiser, and its other fund raising venues.  He encouraged his grandchildren to support charities, especially Mayfield United Church, and he encouraged them to become involved with SHARE.

Last night I think David would have been proud of his grandchildren. They managed to put together two tables of ten, comprised of cousins and friends. The kids (although they are all in their twenties) were dressed up to the nines (is that phrase still in use?) and they partied. They kept the dj busy with their song requests and they kept the dance floor hopping. Usually this event ends around eleven p.m. when most of us are danced out and talked out. Not last night. The kids kept the dance floor busy until way past midnight. We could tell that the dj wanted to leave, but he kept playing the tunes for the kids. Hire this fellow for next year, Joe!

David was with us last night. I’m sure he was shaking his head in mild embarrassment or perhaps amazement when his two grandsons took the stage and danced to a disco song. When the dance floor formed into a circle to watch three young men dance with each other David was there laughing along with everyone else. Not one for compliments, I think David would have remarked to one of us as to how beautiful all of the young women looked that evening. Perhaps he wouldn’t have said anything about the five inch heels or the short  dresses, but he would have said something about all of the single women on the dance floor, such as, “What? They don’t have boyfriends?”

What about the adults? We had a blast as we watched our kids on the dance floor or danced along with them. We enjoyed ourselves as we had great conversations with friends we hadn’t seen in a while. We enjoyed ourselves as we did shots with our kids or enjoyed a neat scotch with a friend. We truly had fun.

Thank you to everyone who supported David’s charity. Thank you to everyone who made this evening a very memorable one for me. I think I’ll be talking about it for quite some time.

Autumn Inspiration

Fall is playful. It toys with us, pushing us to our limit and sometimes past it. The corn silage is the first to be harvested. A long week of fourteen hour days to get the corn harvested, packed and covered before the rain comes. And it comes, delaying the harvest of the soybeans, making the fields too wet and muddy for the planting of winter wheat. We are forever watching the weather radar, praying for the rain to miss our fields. For a week now, we have had sunshine and warmth. We like this Fall. Two more fields to go and we’ll be finished. Now the header of the combine breaks. We’ll lose a day. Rain is forecast for next week. Can we get it all done before then?


This picture was taken of our farm on a Thanksgiving Sunday a few years ago. I love the colors of the fields and the how the red leaves of the Maples stand out. Fall is truly a beautiful season.

Coffee

Awhile ago I had coffee with a friend in a local Second Cup. I saw Americano posted on the board. Immediately I thought of the strong coffee I had consumed in England while on holiday. I remember mistakenly believing the English were only good at brewing tea (or are they?) Not so. Coffee is their forte, too.

I ordered a double Americano, added a bit of cream to the china cup and then I nursed it for an hour. I breathed in the rich aroma, I savored the strong taste on my tongue. I thought back to the cafes where I enjoyed the brew and the French pastries we would treat ourselves to. (I know – French pastries in England, but true).  I thought of my travelling companions and our adventures. Coffee started our days – usually a cappuccino in the morning., then off for a day of adventure.

In the Dominican Republic we enjoyed cappuccinos, too. It would be late afternoon, after a day on the beach. We’d sit and relax by the pool before it was time to dress for dinner. We’d have them after dinner, too, as we waited for the evening’s entertainment to begin.

At home we get together for coffee to catch up on the week’s news. I often think about coffee. Is it the coffee or the act of drinking it that seems to relax us? Sharing a strong brew with friends, talking about everything and nothing – that’s what it’s all about.

My friends know that I’m a coffee drinker. They know I like it strong. But if they ever looked inside my cup would they find the cup empty or would it be left unfinished from too much talking?

One month of writing

Today is the first day of the NaNoWriMo – National November Writing Month Challenge. All of us who signed on have pledged to write something, no matter the topic or the medium – blog, manuscript, letter to the editor or a letter to a friend. Every day we have to state what our goal is for the day and at the end of our writing day we have to report on our success.
Today, my goal is to finish the seventh rewrite of Forever Love. I think I can do it. That is, if  I stop reading other members’ blogs and emails that are forwarded to me. That is, if I don’t stop to read FB posts and stop to talk to family members on Skype. That is, if I close my door, turn up my iTunes and tell the world to go away.
But right now, Coronation Street is on and the plot is getting really good. So I have to postpone my writing for the next hour. Unless something else happens.
Wish me luck.

Holiday Dinners with Family

Ten things I have learned over the years when hosting a family get together  (listed in no particular order):
1. Vacuum. Get as much cat hair out of the house before the allergy sufferers arrive. Nothing puts a damper on the festivities more than sniffling noses and red eyes. It’s best to vacuum the day before to let the dander settle out of the air.  Have Benedryl or something like it on hand for those allergy sufferers who forget about the cats (every year) and bring nothing to help ease their reactions.
2. Don’t worry about the table cloth – stains and wrinkles from its last use don’t matter. Once the plates and serving dishes are set for twenty, no one will notice a thing. Be assured another stain will be added during the meal.
3. Don’t sweat the cooking. Stuffing the turkey, making the casseroles and setting the table takes 2 1/2 hours. This can be done the day of the gathering leaving plenty of time for a nap before company arrives.
4. Be flexible. Let your family arrive when they can get there. Appreciate the long distances they are driving to spend time with you. Have supper when the meal is ready, not when the clock says it’s time to eat.
5. Let your family bring food if they want. Wine is always better, but food should always be accepted graciously.
6. Let your family sit where they want to at the table. The conversation always turns out to be entertaining and educational. You never know what you will learn.
7. Don’t be upset if not everyone can make it. You know you’ll see them next time when it’s your turn for their visit.
8. Let your family do the dishes if they volunteer. It’s the best hostess gift you could ask for.
9. Serve decaf. It sucks being up at 2:30 am when the two cups of coffee consumed with pumpkin pie at 7pm kicks in.
10. Enjoy your time with family and make the most of it. Be truly thankful. Family is precious and our time spent together is a gift we should never take for granted.

You know the saying "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"…

Today I had coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in close to a month. We have a friendship that started in the strangest of ways. We train with the same personal trainer at the gym and our conversation time would be in the crossover – the five to ten minutes we would sometimes have between sessions. She would be finishing up her session and I would be warming up for mine or vice versa, side by side on cardio machines as we had a quick chat before one of us would  be called away for an hour of torture.

What did we talk about? Our trainer, naturally. He always gave us something to gripe or laugh about. We’d talk about the latest tv shows, the weather, holidays and our families. Lately there hasn’t been much opportunity to talk. She’s been cancelling her workouts to look after her ailing husband. I’ve been cancelling because of family (two funerals in 3 weeks).

Today we talked about everything. She talked about her experiences dealing with her husband and the various doctors involved with his treatment. She told me how she has come to terms with the fact that life will not get any better for him and that at some point she will lose him. She told me of the good days and of the bad ones. Today was a good day and she was making the most of it. I talked about my family and the decisions we were now facing regarding our business. I talked of the busyness of my life, the work waiting for me at home and my writing.

She told me the doctors told her it was time to give herself permission to let go. To let go of treatments that weren’t working, to let go of numerous trips to the hospital that weren’t needed, to let go of the hope that more could be done. They gave her permission to move on to the next stage, to prepare. She felt relieved that the doctors had given her something she didn’t know how to ask for.  She told me to give myself permission to take time for me. I thought that I did that, but she said I didn’t take enough time. Give yourself one day a week, she said. Write. Do what you want to do for that entire day. The days you can attack the growing pile in your office, the laundry and the vacuuming.

Sometimes I think we need someone to tell us that what we want to do is okay. It’s allowed. When I was younger, my interests were very different to what they are now. I kept a fairly tidy house, the laundry was always done and my gardens were well maintained. Today, I tidy up when I can, the laundry is folded – ironing is another story, and my gardens are full of weeds. My office is stacked with papers demanding attention. My sixth or seventh edition of my novel is waiting for the final reading before publishing.

This Is Not a Eulogy

My father-in-law passed away suddenly just over a week ago. He was in his eighty first year. He was active but he suffered from respiratory problems. His health was gradually failing. We expected him to leave us but not so soon. We thought we had another year or two of his company.

He was independent. He only wanted help in looking after his garden or accessing his email account. He was opinionated. Even when he knew he was wrong he would take the opposing side just to get a discussion going. I don’t think I ever heard him tell a joke but he appreciated others’ ability to tell them. He had a wonderful laugh and his eyes always sparkled with amusement. His forte was his dry sense of humor that would throw all of us off guard when he would utter something so unexpected. He loved to visit and engage anyone in friendly conversation. He wanted to know everyone’s roots – where they came from, what they did and who they were related to. He was known for his gift of gab and genuine interest in everyone he met.

He wasn’t one to show affection but we all knew how much he loved his family. Maybe we didn’t get as many hugs as we would have liked, but he was generous in his praise and his company. He always had time for us. The grandchildren in particular knew that whenever they wanted to hang out with Grandpa they would always be welcome. He was proud of his grandchildren in their accomplishments in school, sports and work.He was proud of his sons and their accomplishments in managing the family farm. I think he was proud of his daughters-in-law, too, although I don’t think I ever heard him say so. He knew that it took a lot of love and understanding and perhaps sacrifice on their part to ensure the family and the family business thrived.

This year, Thanksgiving won’t be the same without Grandpa talking about politics and crops at the dining room table. Grandpa won’t be waiting for family to arrive at his home on Christmas morning.  Once again we will feel the void from the loss of a beloved family member.

Gwen, Robert, Bryan, David – you were taken from us much too soon. Always loved. Always remembered.

Happy Birthday, Sarah

Today is the nineteenth birthday of my BFF, Sarah. I have known Sarah since the day she was born. She is an amazing young lady. She is smart, thoughtful,  has a wicked sense of humor and she speaks her mind instantly. I get Sarah and she gets me despite our age difference. I like that.

I dye my hair to cover the grey. Sarah dyes her hair for a new look. I never know when she’ll be a blond, a brunette or a red head. Today she was a brunette. She had the wet look as though she were just out of the shower. I thought she looked great and said so. I was quickly corrected – Hello! I didn’t have time to wash my hair. This is just the way it looks with yesterday’s hair product! If my mother had woken me up earlier it wouldn’t look like this! Her mother and I looked at each other knowingly. It’s always mom’s fault no matter what.

When the girls (mine and the Ingledales) were in public school we’d have lunch at McD’s to celebrate birthdays. Now that everyone has busy schedules we meet for breakfast at the local diner.  I know the day will come when we may not have the chance to get together on birthdays. There’s always Facebook, email or the text message that can be sent. Who actually talks to anyone on the phone anymore? But I will truly miss our breakfast chats, the many cups of coffee, and the lively conversation from such an amazing group of young women, especially Sarah.

Have an amazing year at school, Sarah, and an even more amazing one as a nineteen year old.

Best Friends Forever

Second Annual Flip Cup Tournament

This holiday weekend, my son, with the help of family and friends, hosted a Flip Cup Tournament (beer drinking party). Now, my husband and I are not heavy drinkers and we don’t believe that you should have to drink to have fun. In fact, if you have to drink to have fun then maybe you’re not really having fun. But this past Saturday, I witnessed young adults drinking, having fun, and behaving remarkably well  for the purpose of raising money for a scholarship fund in memory of a young man who died tragically in a house fire last year. Bryan was a brother, cousin, close friend, teammate, or classmate to most of those who gathered. Some people didn’t know him, but they were supportive of the fund raising event.

We did not take this event lightly. Attendees had to sign in and indicate their after drinking plans – camp out in our yard, sleep in their cars, walk home (safely), have a designated driver, or have someone pick them up (parent or taxi). Car keys were handed in and were given back in the morning. Food and water were always available. Nontransferable wristbands were issued to everyone to indicate that they were supposed to be there. There was no crashing of the party, no fighting, and no inappropriate behavior.

My husband and I were pleasantly surprised by the politeness of the guests. Many introduced themselves to us and shook our hands. They thanked us for hosting the party and were amazed that we let so many people take over our back yard (125 partyers). Many offered to help with the clean up. By nine o’clock in the morning most of the tents had disappeared. By ten o’clock most of the yard had been cleaned up. By eleven thirty the yard and house were back to normal.

We spent the rest of Sunday feeling exhausted but happy in knowing that the Second Annual Flip Cup Tournament was a success. Roughly $2,100 was raised, there was no property damage and everyone arrived home alive – perhaps sleep deprived and hungover, but alive and that is most important of all.

Will we host this event next year? Most definitely. Will we make any changes? Definitely. One more porta-potty and half the number of hot dogs. Will we still feel the pain of losing Bryan? Yes, but having this gathering in memory of him and talking about him keeps him close to us, forever in our hearts.

Thinking of you Bryan – captain of the winning team First Annual Flip Cup Tournament 2010.