So a few weeks ago on my personal Facebook I joined the #metoo movement. I, like so many others, have been on the receiving end of sexual assault and harassment.

I am a supporter of the #metoo movement. I think it’s important for those who have never been on the receiving end of sexual assault or harassment to understand that they are the lucky few. I think it’s equally important for whom it has happened to have an opportunity to say “this happened and I have had to live with it every day.”

I think it has also shone a light on how, primarily but not exclusively, women have changed the way they live to protect themselves… many times not enjoying the same freedoms a man has – such as simply walking alone. (I know! Rather than teaching people how to protect themselves from attack, how about we teach people not to attack and punish the heck out of them when they do.)

What worries me about any movement like this is the risk it runs to become a space to ‘out’ people without proof or corroboration. I don’t like trials by social media because of what it does to both sides – victim and accused.

If you have been the victim of a crime, then please talk to the police. Even if it’s one, five, fifteen years ago, then they should know about it. If you are looking for justice, they are your resource. And one voice might not make a difference but a million voices will. It will change the way sexual assault/harassment is perceived by the world (including law enforcement).

For me – and this is only my perspective – I hope #metoo will give us a historical reference point in time that we can look back one day and say “things got better after this and because of this.”

And I think our relations with one another can get better from here on in. We should be empowered by this movement to say, “I won’t stand for it. I won’t stay silent. I won’t watch it happen to someone else anymore.”

And I hope as a writer that I am more mindful of the characters I create – not that I won’t write asshole characters, but that the other characters will call them on their bullshit. They won’t let it stand.

#bethechange #metoo

#metoo

Autumn seems much shorter than it used to…

I realize that title could apply to many things after all, the days (hours of daylight) are shorter but it seems in the last few years, the time between the end of summer and Christmas just seem to pass so quickly. How is it that there are fewer than 60 days until Santa Day!

We used to live in a part of Canada where there was no real discernible autumn. It went from Summer to Winter in the blink of an eye. And you could count on having the first snow long before Halloween. Since moving to the Maritimes, that’s not the case. We have beautiful fall days, and we usually get a few days of Indian Summer (forgive me if there is a better more PC term for that nowadays). We had a few days of it this week with 22 feels like 27 (celsius) but horribly gray outside. Barely a speck of sunshine. Maybe that has me feeling lacklustre today.

eightyonedays_800And it has been a busy fall. Taking an active management role in the yoga studio and teaching barre actually takes up a lot more time than I expected. But I’m loving it. There as been a lot of marketing work for the two releases I had at the end of the summer – Eighty-One Days (jesus, I still love this cover) and Bound to Happen (from the Sensory Limits Anthology).

I am nearly finished my next novella in the Men of Steele Novella series. This one is called Playing It Cool. The cover should arrive next week, and I’ve told my editor she would have it early in November so I need to get it done. It’s crunch time now, and my problem is the ending. Obviously it’s HEA – happily ever after – but trying to do that with some originality and flare 🙂 If everything goes well, it should be released mid-December. (I’m trying for that sweet space before Christmas.)

The next big thing to plan for is Christmas and my in-laws spending a week with us over the holidays. It will be fine, really. I keep reminding myself that a week is after all only seven days. They uh, don’t really know/understand what I write, and are pretty ‘churchy’ so I’m thinking I may have to lock my office door, or at least shroud my photo display of my novel covers (hehehe!) And since they are teetotalers (and we respectfully don’t drink around them) I may need to do make an extra batch or seven of rum balls rum balls 😉

So I will keep slogging away here… enjoying the fact that at this point there is no snow in the forecast and while autumn may go fast, at least winter hasn’t begun (like elsewhere in Canada). Take care my friends!

 

 

 

Advice to ‘wanna-be’ authors

It took me a long time to realize that I was a writer, not a ‘wanna-be’ writer. I had been working in communications/public relations for over ten years and I said to a designer I’d been working with that I wanted to a writer some day.

She laughed at me. Then she pointed out all I’d written. Articles, newsletters, press materials, websites. She said “you are already a writer.” That was an eye opening moment. She was right. I was a writer. I wanted to be an AUTHOR.

That day started me on a journey, because part of my ‘fears’ evaporated that day. I was already a writer, how do I make the leap to becoming an author. Now with book number six about to be released today, I want to share some of what I’ve learned along the way… I have no doubt you have heard this before. But I had written a lot before understanding that I was a writer, so I think some things need great repetition before it sinks in.

  1. Watch people. Not your phone. Not your TV. It’s the people where you will learn about mannerisms, and habits and quirks that bring your characters to life.
  2. Write something. And you don’t have to necessarily start with fiction – not even a short story. Volunteer at a community non-profit or church and write their newsletter. This is where you practice your craft. Or as some may say – this is where you learn the rules before you break them.
  3. Read. A lot. Find out what authors you like. What about their story telling appeals to you? Are they very descriptive? Are they the rockstars of dialogue? Use their works – what you like, what you hate – as your mentors. And to find out what genre interests you.
  4. Sit down and write. Or stand up if you are one of those people who prefer a stand up desk. (I can’t stand and write – I can stand and dictate though). Put the words on the page and leave them there. Even if it’s rough. Especially if it’s rough. It’s your blueprint to getting better. You can’t edit something if there is nothing there.
  5. Finish it. Whether it’s a poem, or a short story or an epic novel. Get the first draft done. You are now an AUTHOR.
  6. Enjoy the moment. Go pour yourself a glass of wine, or take yourself out to dinner, because now is where the real work begins.

You may never publish your work. Or you may go on to be a bestseller. The point is once the draft is done, you’ve already made it further than most people. You may have always been a writer, or in your heart knew you could be. But now you’re there, and the next steps are up to you.

In my spare time…

You would not naturally look at me and think ‘ATHLETE’ or ‘FITNESS BUFF’. Neither of those things would be true. What is true is that I like trying new things, even if I’m not very good at it.

Right now that means indoor rock climbing. I’m still working on the beginner circuits up the wall, or on harnessed routes (though I worry the harness will not hold my weight and instead of repelling down  – the fun part – I climb back down.)

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Each time I go, I spend about 45 minutes laying my right shoulder and elbow on ice packs. when I get home. I did my elbow a mischief about 6 years ago when I was working with a trainer to lose weight. And my shoulder I injured falling on a patch of ice nearly fifteen years ago. But rock climbing is not about upper body strength (you just use your hands to hang on for dear life), it’s about your quads. You push up with your legs. The strength of your quads propel you and my quads are awesome shape.

This sudden interest in rock climbing came about for a couple of reasons – my favourite yoga studio (to which I’ve been going for the last four years) is takinga summer hiatus while they move to a new location. And our city’s first rock climbing gym just opened up. So here I was with a hole in my schedule and nothing to fill it… Voila! Zoe is rock climbing two – three times a week for the summer.

Yoga is one of the few exercises that have held my attention. I have done it off and on for most of my life, and I am always learning something about it or myself when I practice. Happily I connected really well with the owner (we are both Northern Ontario girls now translated to the east coast.) She has supported and encouraged me both on the mat and off. Her encouragement led me to submitting my first book “Winning Cait” for publication and trying my first (and to date only) triathlon. (I came in second last, just ahead of the woman who was recovering from a stroke.)

And now she is prodding me along to pursue one other fitness passion – Barre.

I may not look like an athlete now but in my youth I did gymnastics and competitive dance – jazz, modern and musical theatre. My mother actually taught ballroom dance at one point and mus660691eda70414d666af2b087c0d72d5.jpgic and dance was part of our home. I only quit when my math grades suffered from my training schedule and my mother threw a fit. She thought I was going to be (read: she wanted me to be) an accountant – yeah right! My calculus teacher actually called her to convince her to put me out of my math-misery because “everyone knew” I was going to be a writer.

To make a long story, short – I am doing my online certifications to become a Barre Instructor, and I will be teaching in the fall at my favourite yoga studio. So while you may not think ‘athlete’ when you look at me, I hope people see one thing… someone who isn’t afraid to try new things. To follow their dreams. And to laugh at herself and life.

I keep thinking, there are so many things I want to do, and want to try, it’s a shame we only have one life in which to do it.

 

Whiskey Creek Lodge – the new series

I am embarking on a new series… I’ve nearly finished the first chapter of the first book. I know I’m not very far yet but it took me some time to get a visual in my head of the people and places around which this series will centre.

It is a small town series, because I love small town. I think a lot of us can’t wait to get out of our ‘small town’ and then we grow up and wonder why it was so bad. Sure maybe high school sucked but was it the town or the people you had the bad luck to associate with. I like bringing back characters to their home town, or if they have never lived in one before, to a small town for the first time.

That preamble should give you some idea of where I’m going with this…

Hannah thought she knew what she was going to do with her life. Get a marketing degree, marry her long-time boyfriend Ryan and run her grandfather’s inn. Except her grandfather tells her in no uncertain terms she’s not ‘man’ enough to run his ‘lodge’. She gets angry and she gets lost, out to prove to herself and to those around her that she is good enough. 

Fast-forward to more than a 10 years later and she’s just lost her job as the director of marketing for one of the priciest boutique hotels in Toronto. Okay, she didn’t lose her job. She quit in a very public, much talked about break up with her married boss. Now she’s persona non grata and begrudgingly accepts her twin brothers’ request that she comes home to run Whiskey Creek Lodge with him. Harris has been doing managing it on his own for two years since their grandfather died but he needs her. Whiskey Creek needs her. 

And he doesn’t tell her but Ryan needs her.

So as you can see Hannah and Ryan are the first book. The town is loosely modelled after Dryden, Ontario. I think their website may be pushing it a bit when they say it’s  where the rugged beauty of Northwestern Ontario meets the bright lights of city life. It’s not a very ‘big’ city. Okay, sure it has a Walmart, and thanks to the highway it has a lot hotels but you are not going to find a swinging nightlife here. It’s charming and quaint. It is economically sound, thanks in large part to the mill which makes the town stinky too, depending on which way the wind blows. I’ve always liked Dryden.

As for the Lodge – it was inspired by the Riverview Lodge, which has these beach volleyball courts out back. It is located on the Wabigoon River… or in the book, Whiskey Creek. The goal is to have book one finished and to the publisher by mid-September, so I better get cracking.

If you don’t hear from me for a bit – please know it’s because I’m spending some time in Whiskey Creek with some new friends.

In the mean time I hope you will check out my new summer releases:

Eighty-One Days is available for pre-order this week from PRIDE Publishing and for early download on August 8th. Jenna is there to mend Luke’s heart after Eric leaves town – now that Eric’s back, how long will it be before Jenna invites him to share her and Luke’s bed?

 

 

 

Sensory Limits is a BDSM anthology from Totally Bound Publishing. In it you will find Bound to Happen, my short story. Jaymie knows better than to date her best friend’s brother, but there is no way she can keep the sexy Dom in the ‘friend-zone’.It is available for pre-order on August 8th, early release on August 22nd.

 

 

 

AND IF YOU CAN’T WAIT…

Don’t forget that Invitation to Play is available now. Married for nearly five years, Deacon and Sherri didn’t extend an invitation to play with them to just anyone. But the ex-air force Captain turned tattoo artist wasn’t just anyone. Kai intrigued them. The three quickly discover they don’t want one night they want forever.

 

What not to wear…

I had a work colleague who looked aghast at my boss and I one day when we said we couldn’t wait to get home at the end of the day and change into our jammies (to be clear, we were both going to our own homes, not hanging out in our pjs together.)86b3d30fbca9254e9dc74dddb481af09.jpg

Her horror was in the fact that we wore pyjamas around the house, or for that matter sweats. When we pressed her she gave a nervous laugh and said, even when she’s doing her housework she’s still wearing her heels.

It was our turn for horror. I think I said something like “you vacuum in highheels” to which she replied, “of course!”

There is no of course about this. That’s just weird to me. I would come home from work and change immediately into either sweats or what I still call ‘house jammies’. These are not sleeping jammies. These are cute little patterned pj pants or capris (some actually need ironing but I try hard not to buy ones that do because they sit on the ‘to be ironed’ pile for months) and tank tops or t-shirts and sweaters.

They could almost be considered lounge wear but I probably wouldn’t be as embarrassed opening the door to the delivery man in ‘lounge wear’ the way I am in my mint green panda capri pj pants.

When I want to pull out all the stops at home, then I will wear yoga clothes because my husband likes my butt in yoga pants and built in bra shelves help to lift and sometimes even separate (be sure to get ones with good cups to avoid uni-boob.)

bb32bb2e990de41669cb61f321dcbce8.jpgHowever this has left me, now that I’m not working in the corporate world, with a plethora of ‘good clothes’. I am loathe to go shopping even on a Saturday in my sweats or yoga gear because that’s now ‘everyday wear’. I love to get dressed up and feel ‘a different type of pretty’ (I’ve updated this from just saying pretty because even in my pj’s… I’m still pretty) even if I’m just picking up dog-food, getting groceries, or meeting a friend for coffee.

So how is this about ‘what not to wear’… well I’m going to say never wear something that you aren’t comfortable in. If want to wear your heels and feather boa to clean the toilets – go for it. Don’t let anyone, or their expectation of propriety deter you.

As one of my besties always says… “Let your freak flag fly – we’ll love you while we mock you.”

 

My first novel

In the interest of full disclosure the one I’m about to discuss wasn’t my very first one… but it was the first one that I got nearly completed. I was twelve when I wrote the first one and it turned into more of a novella – very Sweet Valley High sort of thing with a girl playing a fortune telling gypsy at the schools’ spring carnival and the boy she liked. I can’t remember if it was more romance or mystery but it had a heaping helping of teen angst. And I, unfortunately, don’t have a copy of it any more.

But I do have a copy of The Legend of Landau. I actually rediscovered it this past weekend when I pulled a binder down from the top shelf in my office. There it was in all its still dot-matrix glory.

The Legend of Landau was written during my senior year of high-school – 1990. I was a fan at the time of romantic fantasy. The characters were young adults, who using their psychic gifts, follow an old legend and uncover the ‘stone’ that will awaken/call forth Landau.

There are numerous flashbacks because our heroine is the descendent of a powerful witch whom Landau loved and she shares her memories (these usually come to her in dreams). In this way she learns more of Landau’s true nature, and it’s not all sexy, god-like immortal. There is a evil undercurrent – his kind were the Destroyers.

No wonder I never finished it – I’m sure I fell in love with our bad boy and had no idea how to redeem him… Either that or school ended and I had my own teen angst to follow.

I decided to move the binder to the shelf next to my desk to remind me to get back to it one day. Of course that would mean re-typing all 200+ pages, but maybe one day.

In the meantime…here’s a very short sample.

     Terri collapsed on the bed of room seventeen at the Journey’s End Motel. She felt drained and could hardly keep her eyes open. She wasn’t sure how she’d been able to drive from the beach in this condition, when all she wanted to do was sleep for a month or so. Raising a god took a lot out of you.

     Landau followed her into the room, shutting the door behind him. He marvelled for a moment over the complexity of the door lock. “Terrena,” he said exasperated, an ignorant of her exhaustion, “Teach me to latch this.” 

     She climbed off the bed, after all, this was now her job. Teaching him to survive in the modern world. “Here, she said showing him the little button in the centre of the knob. “You turn this to the right and this,” indicating the deadbolt, “You also turn to the right.” 

     She unlocked them both two more times and then let him do it for himself. 

     “Just how much do you know about our world?” 

     “I know of your advances, but I have never tested them myself.” He looked around the room, assessing the myriad of technology that made up modern life. “I feel you’re tired, but could you please show me how these machines operate?” 

     “Of course.”