Monthly Archives: October 2014

Music & Lyrics

We all hum the tune, we all sing along to the words, but how many of us really listen to the lyrics? It depends on my mood; when I’m in a good mood I just hear the music, but when I’m not feeling so great, for whatever reason, the lyrics become more significant somehow. It doesn’t seem to matter what the genre or artist, whether it’s something I listen to often or infrequently, I can always place some meaning on the words that seem to capture my innermost feelings at that given time. I think I have a wide taste in music, but I can hear my husband laughing and rolling his eyes at this statement! I think he’s the one that needs to branch out and get something decent to listen to. There is however, one band that we both enjoy, and have seen live several times, and that’s Train.

I got my dog a couple of years ago, a decision that wasn’t taken lightly because of the commitment animals require, and our boys were still very young. I wasn’t in a good place at that time, temporarily off medication and turning into a bit of a cripple. Despite what many people think when they see me, I don’t/can’t exercise any more like I used to. Yes, that’s right, I’m the bitch you all hate because I do nothing to maintain my size 0-2 figure! Walking is the only way I can continue some sort of low impact activity. This influenced our decision greatly, and my 40th birthday gift was an adorable Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier named Tess.

Every morning, rain hail or shine, we walk. Armed with the obligatory wad of poop bags, treats and sticks, I plug myself into whatever takes my fancy and off we go. We walk locally, exploring parks, along the beach, and around the seawall while the music puts a bounce in my step and the lyrics capture my imagination. There is, however, one minor problem with this arrangement… I appear to own the only terrier in the world that doesn’t like walking! Honestly, I know this is hard to believe, but until recently she used to hide under the table when I reached for her leash. The mere mention of the word ‘walk’ would send most dogs into an excited frenzy – not Tess! She refuses to come out of her crate, peering at me through the side window hoping I will take pity on her incredible cuteness – NOT going to wash with me, dog, we’re walking!!

It was while out walking my girl that Frankie and Jack’s story evolved out of nowhere. I was having a major Train blitz of all of their albums that I would just shuffle; I like the surprise of not knowing what is coming next. Over time their excellent song writing began to fit with my story, it was like some of the lyrics had been written for my book, but more likely that my book evolved because of their lyrics. I decided to somehow incorporate the band and their music into the story, and the ‘Train game’ was born. I made both my characters Train fans and used random lyrics that fitted in with parts of the story, in their dialogue. The other character would then have to guess the title track, album, track number and year with consequences if they got it wrong – something fun and usually naughty of course. Ever wondered where I got the title of the book? Bruises is one of my favourite Train songs from their California 37 album in 2012 (track 3 & a duet sung with Ashley Monroe, just to prove myself!). It has started a bit of a trend with me and book titles: I have given all three of my novels song titles. Music and lyrics will always be very influential in my writing, and maybe one day I’ll have All I wanted

Bruises is available from FriesenPress, Amazon, and other major online bookstores.

The Power of Life Experience – A Writing Tool

I sometimes wonder if she’s looking down on me and shaking her head in disapproval, while secretly admiring my achievement. I remember her reaction when I told her my dissertation was to be published in a nursing journal, full of pride and admiration. However, the relationship I had with my mum was not always a harmonious one. A long time ago I made mistakes, I am human, we all do. I eventually came clean and declared my gross error of judgment, and suffered the consequences. I decided from then on that I would always be honest with myself, and not to be afraid of living my life my way. This cost me my relationship with my parents; they were not so understanding, and we parted ways for over ten years. I’d tried on a couple of occasions during that time to build bridges, but nothing became of it, until my brother’s wedding. I didn’t want a significant family event to be awkward, so I tried once again, and that time we were all ready to move on.

If I had known then that we would have less than a year to bury our differences and re-build our mother-daughter relationship, I might have done some things differently. Yes, I still would have emigrated, I had already made that decision. I really didn’t expect to be getting that call for a long time. The saddest part was that I’d only just told her the news she had always hoped one day to hear. I was 11 weeks pregnant when I found out that she was terminally ill. Returning home to England was something I did with a second thought. It was the right thing to do, a lot of water had passed under the bridge, and we built new ones. I showed her my scans; she was the only person to know which names we’d chosen. Deep down I think I always knew she would never see her first grandchild. She died when I was 31 weeks and too sick to travel long haul to say a final goodbye. It took me a long time to have closure.

That was 8 years ago today, and a day doesn’t go by when I don’t think of her. It used to be in a sad way, but now I sometimes laugh and joke with myself about the fact that sometimes I open my mouth and she comes out. Despite our differences, we parted good friends. Anyone who reads/has read Bruises will now understand where some of my words have come from. They are the product of a very real and powerful emotional experience that I believe you can only write about if you truly know how it feels. It took me some time to write that particular chapter – sometimes I just couldn’t see through my own tears – but it was quite cathartic to use it as part of someone else’s story. Every time I re-read it I could feel the depth of Frankie’s emotional pain. I deal with physical pain all day, every day, but emotional pain is something far more excruciating.

This particular life experience has been a very powerful tool, and incorporating it into my writing has helped me enormously. Of course, I have had many very positive life events too, but oddly it seems to be the sad ones that fall naturally onto the page and make good reading. I hope she is out there somewhere, once again proud at what I’ve achieved, and I don’t just mean my book. However, there is a tiny part of me that is also glad that she can’t actually read it – there are some things a mother doesn’t need to know about, and my sexy imagination is one of them!

Bruises is available from FriesenPress, Amazon, and other major online bookstores.

Result!!

Result!

Result!

Where do you get your hair done? I’m always being asked. The truth… a training school!

Yes that’s right, students cut & colour my hair, and have done for over five years now. People very often don’t believe me, I would never go anywhere else – Future Hair Training School on Broadway @ Cambie, never once have I left disappointed (apart from the odd really bad blow dry but they all have to learn). So, when I turned up for the full monty today they were really excited to see the book. As you can see they did an awesome job once again with my slightly vibrant request in colour, and a new shorter do was also done to perfection – as always.

The highlight of the whole experience – I sold two books. They made me feel like a local celebrity by requesting a signing too – hehe! I now have happy hair and readers too… Result!!

You can get your copy from FriesenPress, Amazon and other major online bookstores.

And so it begins…

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I decided to get Thanksgiving over with before I jumped on the promotional bandwagon, and here I am. The coffee shop in which I wrote most of Bruises is the first place that has offered to promote me. The owner has been very accommodating and keen to help promote me in anyway he can, though I’m not sure he really knows what my book is about… probably best not to enlighten him. After several attempts at an author poster – without the help of hubby, so I’m quite proud, actually – I still ended up resorting to my craft supplies. I would welcome readers’ thoughts on it – good or bad?! Anyway, this little display now has pride of place in the coffee shop, right next to the milk & napkins etc. It’s at eye level (well, my eye level, so chest level really) and also happens to be beside the area where the punters wait for their beverages. Only a few minutes after it went on display, I spotted a woman reading the back, and then a dirty old man began fingering it after he studied my picture then glanced across at me sat in the corner, where I promptly tried to make myself even smaller.

The great thing about this gig is that once again I get to hang out here regularly and enjoy some very good overpriced coffee. It is, thankfully, proving to be a more positive promotional experience than the one in the independent bookstore on the next block. I randomly called in after a brutal physio session (in which, despite turning up with a lovely signed hardback copy for my tormentor, I was still attacked with a gazillion needles – I actually thought I was in pretty good shape that day too, having had no painkillers for two days – clearly I was wrong!) Hoping I didn’t look as bad as I felt, I presented myself to the ‘lady’ at the counter in this tiny bookstore. There were one or two people milling around shelves as I launched into my speech… ‘self-published author… consider consignment…’ etc. etc. The assistant, who was significantly taller than me (not difficult, despite my wedges) looked down on me like I was something the cat had dragged in. It took me nearly all of my ‘cheeky free’ 20 minutes on my parking meter to extract the owner’s business card from her, as it was clearly more than her job’s worth to give it up. There was once a time when I would have cowered and left, but not now. Now, I believe in myself, and I believe in my book, and I will succeed because I’m crazy and have enough confidence now to think I can.

‘So it’s explicit?’ she said with slight tone of disgust.

‘No, it’s tasteful but smouldering.’ I had to stop my inside voice from adding, ‘read it lady, you might learn something!’

Sadly, the owner still hasn’t emailed me back, but I’m not seeing this as a setback; if anything, it’s her loss not mine. I’ll just move onto my next port of call… which just happens to be our local kids’ bookstore. They have a small adult section that features various genres. Appropriate? I don’t see why not. I’ve seen many mums (& dads) let their kids loose in that place to peruse the shelves alone; it’s the perfect situation for mum to find a little something too!

You can get your copy of Bruises direct from my publisher, from Amazon and other major online bookstores.

Now it’s real!!

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I was so excited I couldn’t resist the bad hair and no make up silly selfie… and I know the orange clashes really badly – But I don’t care, I’M OFFICIALLY AN AUTHOR!!!

Get your copy of Bruises from FriesenPress or Amazon

Social media thingy management

Keep a constant social media presence, the article said… you must tweet approximately 3 times a day… you must blog at least once a week… you must do this and you must do that… have a word with myself is what I must do, it’s exhausting!

I would appear to have all the right social mediary things, according to my several Google searches, but I’m not sure I really know what I’m doing with them to be honest. I think I’m ok with this Blog thing, but I’ve been doing that for a while now. Maybe not – you tell me? I’ve had a personal Facebook profile for years, so having a separate Author profile is fine, but I also now have a page for Bruises – so, if you’re keeping count, that’s 3 Facebook thingys to maintain, as well as the Blog; 4 thingys in total!

Then there’s Twitter (so now that’s 5 thingys), which I still don’t really understand but it sounds quite impressive that I ‘tweeted’ this or I ‘retweeted’ that. No idea if what I post is playing the right game or not with all the hashtags – often I just see what other people put and shamelessly copy, which seems to work. People abbreviate things I don’t get, so I then have to sheepishly ask my husband, who usually rolls his eyes in utter despair at my blondeness and tells me something that is SO obvious now he’s said it. Just because I can write a novel or three doesn’t mean I understand technoacronyms, does it?!

So here I am, doing my best to put myself out there, and occasionally somebody takes notice and Likes, or Follows, or posts something back. I’ve even been Re-tweeted a couple of times. However, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that actually writing the book, and publishing it for that matter, were the easy bits, all the other thingys you have to do afterwards – if you want it to do well of course – is the really hard bit. I just need to keep calm and carry on thingy management!

You can get your copy of Bruises direct from my publisher, from Amazon and other major online bookstores.