Wednesday, 27 January 2016

2 weeks!

Wow, so its two weeks until my release date, February 9th. Liquid Fire is my second full length novel and third published overall. It’s been a crazy ride to this point. I am in the process right now of planning and executing my book launch party.

Add into the stress of the book release the fact that I have started a new day to day job. It will only be part time but the training period of six weeks, is full time. I accepted the part time job, knowing that it would give me and my family security along with still giving me the time to be my usual creative self.

I am working on the sequel to Supernaturally Yours, and am loving the character development. I am learning so much more about Reta than I ever expected. That being said, don’t get too excited. I am still on the initial draft (and only about ¼ of the way through that) there is still plenty of work to go on it. I am tentatively calling it “Supernaturally Mine.” And I hope to have the initial draft done by the time the flowers bloom.

Back to Liquid Fire, I am working on this launch party. Which is like a celebration where I do a little reading from the new novel and answer questions, sign postcards and so on. Because Liquid Fire will be an Ebook only I’ve had a little trouble coming up with what to do at a book launch.
I will include a picture of what I finally came up with – the prototype if you will. I will change a few things when I continue with the production. Essentially what I am giving out, and signing, will be a preview. The first chapter of Liquid Fire, done up in booklet formula with a postcard on the front. I hope everyone will like them. I spent a lot of time creatively cursing at my computer as I tried desperately to get the formatting to work. Mr. Gloria had to come in and calm me a few times, but I digress. They are figured out. Now on to assembly…

Honestly I am pretty impressed with myself and how my little preview copy. Amazing what my ink jet, some card stock, staples and postcards can look like.

Besides that my life has been rushing by, never enough hours or energy. I am sure everyone can understand that feeling all too well. Things have been falling to the wayside. House cleaning for sure, meaningful conversation is another. Friendships have been neglected and for that I am sorry. I am fighting to find the time that I need. Luckily the full time schedule is half over and my life should return to a semblance of normal. Until then I soldier on.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

A morose post, for a morose time.

As we approach the dreaded middle of January I find myself becoming more and more morose. January 16th is the anniversary of my Mom’s death. This January it will be twelve years. Everyone who has lost a parent will understand. If you don’t want to read a sad, reflective post perhaps you will want to skip this installment and come back next time.

Twelve years. A lifetime. I often reflect on what, on who my mom would be today. She would be fifty eight. How would those years have changed her? Would she still be the woman I remember? Or are my memories tainted by the pain of her death? I know how much I have changed in the years since her death and I recognize that she would have changed as well. As it is, she is frozen in time, unchangeable. Both the woman I remember and the woman she was at the time of her death.
She suffered so much as the cancer took her from us. Both physically and mentally. My mom was a voracious reader, unbelievably creative and a family woman to her core. As she got sicker she didn’t even read. She didn’t create anything. She faded. I wish I could say it was a slow passing, and in many ways it was. But it was only nine months from the moment we found out until she was gone. A drop in the bucket of time. A drop that seemed suspended in midair at the time.

Mom and I at her wedding in 1981

I wish I could say I said everything I wanted to say to her. That I told her I loved her. That I was at peace with her death. I can’t. I always held the belief that she would get better. That she would recover. Even when the doctors said she wouldn’t I still couldn’t believe it. I didn’t say the words. I held them back believing there would be time. It is a regret I have to live with.

She’s missed so much. Watching my kids grow into teenagers. My sibling’s weddings. The birth of their kids. She’s missed seeing me become an author. My sister become a bigwig at a bank. My brother move away. My other brother finally find the woman he was meant to be with. So much. A lifetime.

I know she’s still here and watching, but it isn’t the same.

Mom, my sister and I crammed in a photo booth in 1990 ish

So I’m going to share some of my good memories and hope that they are enough to stitch my heart together so that these tears that leak out of the holes inside me finally slow. I know I will always cry, always be sad, however I am getting to the point where I can move past the pain of her death and remember the good stuff. It’s a step. Small. But I’ll take it.

-Christmas baking. Mom loved to bake. We never had a lot of money growing up and she would bake up a storm for the month before Christmas making boxes of cookies for everyone. At the time I would roll my eyes and begrudgingly help, now I remember her with flour on her cheeks as she grinned and made yet another bar.

-Cleaning. We moved a lot growing up, but in every house we would crank up the old stereo (with a record player) and dance around singing Janis Joplin as we vacuumed or dusted.

-Roller coasters. Mom was deathly afraid of roller coasters. We, as a family went to Cedar Point Amusement park in Ohio. My grandparents, my dad, sister, brother, Mr. Gloria and myself drove down. We convinced mom to go on one roller coaster with us. She agreed, providing it had no loop de loops. We took her on the worlds (at the time) tallest roller coaster….I still have the picture of her face coming off that ride.

-Her creativity. Any craft or art thing my mom picked up she did beautifully. She decided to knit and effortlessly whipped out these beautiful sweaters with 3-d dragons on them. She decided to paint and painted with oils amazing pictures of dogs and landscapes that could have hung in a gallery. She decided to write and became a columnist for the local paper (I have all her columns and still read them when I need to feel close to her).

-Her ability to drink anyone I know under the table. She introduced me and my friends to the wonderful world of tequila poppers.

-Her love of her grandchildren and practical jokes. She taught my son to say ‘redrum’ in a creepy voice while wiggling his pointing finger. Of course she didn’t tell me about it. I found out when I woke up to my two year old kneeling on the bed croaking at me, a scene right out of the shining. Of course she laughed like a fiend when I told her about it. She also bribed my son until he referred to her as “Grandma Jenie Queen of the World. Master of all she surveys.”

-I married into a fairly traditional family. Or at least that is how they seemed to my dysfunctional, loud, freeform one at the time. So just before the wedding my mother in law asked my mom if she had picked out her mother of the bride outfit and that perhaps the two of them could co-ordinate their dresses. My mom deadpanned (and I remember her exact words) “I found this hot little number in purple sequins and ostrich feathers that I thought I would pick up for the shindig.” Needless to say my mother in law didn’t quite know how to respond.

-Lunch. After I moved back to town, once a week my mom and I had lunch. We always went to Sids (a local pub) and we would talk about everything. Sometimes friends joined us, but not always. Most of the time it was just her and I. I treasure those times with her.

-Kindergarten. My mom was a very young mother. She had my older brother at fifteen and me at sixteen and in the small town we were born in that was a big no no. I think most people would expect her to be a pushover. To let other, more experienced (aka older) people tell her what to think. Not so much. When I went to kindergarten, I came home crying every day from school and no matter what mom did she couldn’t get me to tell her what was wrong. Finally, months into the school year, I confessed that every day my teacher would tell me that my tongue was too big and that I would never talk right. Mom calmed me down and reassured me then made an appointment to speak with my teacher. She went into the classroom and didn’t pay attention as the teacher spoke. Instead she kept looking around at the walls, refusing to participate in the conversation until the teacher, exasperated asked her what it was that she was looking for. Mom answered, “I’m looking for your fucking medical degree to dare to tell my daughter she won’t ever talk right.” Needless to say the conversation went downhill from there. But on the upside, my teacher never said anything like that to me again.

-when I was thirteen Mom worked at a printing place. They were small time, making notepads and business cards and promotional materials for businesses. For Christmas that year she made me my own set of business cards. They said “Gloria Balfour (my maiden name) writer” Maybe she did know, at least in some hidden part of her what would happen for me.

Those are a sprinkling of the memories I hold close to my heart. A snapshot of the woman who made me what I am today, my Mom. Thank you for letting me blather on and remember her as she was. If your parents are still with you, hug them today. Tell them everything you ever wanted to but felt stupid saying. Don’t wait. For those of you, like me, who are missing a loved one know a virtual hug is coming to you from me in lieu of the parent who would put their arms around you if only they could.

Mom and I at my wedding in 1995

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Uh oh, here comes the freak

I have been described as a little weird. Odd, just a touch off. My tastes are eclectic to say the least. Being able to quote most of The Princess Bride, paired with singing every word from the Buffy musical episode makes me different than the norm. I wear a Wookie jacket while I ride my electric blue scooter through town. I love zombies as much as I am fascinated by romance novels. I go to karaoke, but can’t talk in front of strangers. My bucket list contains living in a musical for a day and being on reality television. My musical playlist contains everything from old school jazz to Gwen Stefani to Adele to Nine Inch Nails. I read Anne McCaffrey, Jean M. Auel, Maya Banks, Stephen King, Phillip Pullman and Lorelei James equally - my tastes vary as often as my mood. If that makes me a weirdo, well then I’ll take it. I, as they say, let my freak flag fly.

For so many years I tried to fit into the mold that was pre-destined for me. Even as a teenager I tried to be like everyone else, I wore the right jeans and refused to admit that I didn’t like them. I listened to the top forty and gushed over Rick Astley (I know I am showing my age here but whatever). I had the prerequisite teen heart throb posters covering my walls. I thumbed my nose up at the freaks. Then I became a wife, and wore the perfect dress beside my equally conventionally dressed husband. I put away my ‘childish’ dreams and became an adult, or should I say an adult the way society says an adult should be. I set up house, popped out the two kids and got myself a dog. We bought a house and did everything the way we were supposed to. I had mom hair for god’s sake.

Then I guess it would have been when I was around thirty I changed. I don’t remember an epiphany, or a moment that the lightbulb went on. It just happened. Maybe in little ways. Tiny steps taken towards my authentic self. Tiny steps taken that I realized just how much I loved the unconventional. I was happier the more I moved towards the person I am today. Each step was like the shackles of the expected were removed from me. I learned how to be happy with who I am. To be the misfit I have always been but hidden from the world. I brought out my childish dreams and ambitions and dusted them off.

I was labelled, I have always been labelled. From lower class child (my goodwill clothes put me firmly in that place), to preppy teenager, to mom, wife, adult. I allowed these labels to shape me, I became what the label said I had to be. But you know what? That’s bullshit. That’s right, I said it. The only place labels should offer directions are on your clothes. They shouldn’t define who I am, what I can do, who I can be. Who I should be, what I should like. Screw that. Labels are always going to exist, we as a society need to accept that. What we don’t have to accept is what those labels mean. Being a mother doesn’t mean I can’t have pink hair and tattoos. Being a wife doesn’t mean I have to like loafers and have inane small talk about cooking and what cleaning products work best. I can have all the labels in the world, but I don’t have to let them define who I am. I can still be me, within the labels.

Today I want everyone to accept what they really like. If you like top forty then so be it. If you are an anime loving guy who wants to cosplay, do it. If you are more of a country music twangy shit-kicker wearing girl – own it! Be your authentic self, don’t let anyone tell you what you should like, who you should be. Be you. That’s the most important thing, learning to like ourselves and accept who we need to be. I hid from myself for so long that I almost didn’t recognize the real me when she finally surfaced. Don’t let that happen to you, be the person you want. Dream the dreams you want and don’t ever let anyone tell you they shouldn’t be your dreams. You can be the person you were always meant to be.

I am me. Freak for sure and loving every minute. Now if you’ll excuse me I feel a marathon of Firefly coming on.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

New Year?

It's January 2nd. It's a new year. 2016 says hello while 2015 waves its final goodbyes. I've spent my day reading - mostly blog posts and facebook posts. Everyone is all inspirational about what they have planned and what they will change from last year. There were a few sad posts about what went wrong last year as well.

And then there's me...sitting over in the corner just hoping I remember to put on pants everyday in 2016. It's not that I don't feel all emotional (both up and down) about last year or that I am not looking forward to this new year. It's more that I don't feel like writing an obituary over last year. What happened - happened. And I don't want to write a wish list for the next twelve months. What will happen - will happen.

I've never been a resolution maker. I am by definition a planner. A slightly obsessive, excessive thinker, who plans out EVERYTHING. I have to do lists coming out the wazoo. Resolutions to me seem like wishes. What we hope for, rather than what we plan to do. Trust me, I have tried the resolution thing but it seems as soon as I put the title 'resolution' on anything the rebel in me screams "I don't have to do everything you say!" And refuses to co-operate. So I've spent the last year meticulously planning out my year. In a reachable, orderly fashion. Not just throwing thoughts out on the wind and hoping for the best.

That being said I know there is much to do, much to dream about and wish for, I just won't put it down in words like 'resolution'.

I spent my new years eve surrounded by friends, laughing and singing objectionable karaoke like fools. Then the first day of 2016 was spent in bed trying to recover from an unrelated migraine. Once I managed to medicate myself enough to drag my sorry butt out of bed, my family and I followed our tradition of staying in our pjs and watching action movies all day. This year we didn't blow up the air mattresses but we did cuddle under blankets and laugh and talk. It was a good day.

I sincerely hope that everyone out there in the wonderful world of cyberland (Rent reference anyone?) had a great new years eve and that their plans for 2016 come to full fruition.