The loss of a light…

So I usually use my blog to talk about my beliefs in equality, or what inspires me to write but today I was thinking about something a little different.

I work in a small town grocery store. It’s a great place to work and I am very grateful every day that I was given the opportunity to work there. One of the things that I love about it is that I get to meet so many interesting people. As a small community, we get the same people in our store day after day and I talk to a lot of them. I enjoy listening to their stories, especially from the large senior population that comes to shop almost every day. I always try to remember that for some of these people, the cashiers and other store staff might be the only conversations some of the people get to have all day.

Today this lady came in and I hadn’t seen her in a little while. She’s a lovely lady and usually came in with her mom. Her mom suffers from dementia and I’ve known them for about 5 years now. When I first met them, her mom still talked. She would say hi, ask how I was doing and tell me she was going home to Spruce Grove every chance I get. Even then the dementia had started to set in but she was a feisty old lady, dashing off and trying to escape the store every chance she got. She was sneaky too, waiting until her daughter was distracted by something before making a break for it. She was always smiling while she did it too, and I knew that some part of her was getting a kick out of being a bit of a rebel.

Because they were in the store a lot, I could see as the dementia got worse. For a while she started glaring at me and a couple of times she tried to hit me, much to the horror of her daughter but I didn’t let it bother me. I can only imagine the frustration her mom must have felt in her moments of clarity, knowing there was something wrong and not knowing how to fix it.

The last couple of year, she didn’t speak at all. She yelled a lot, like a small child does, smiling and gesturing and still getting into little bits of trouble. You could hear her clearly as she made her way through the store with her daughter and it always made me smile. Most of the staff said hi to her and spoke to them both as they went through and the daughter was always very grateful for the kindness she found at the store for her and her mom.

Today the daughter came in alone and I asked how she was doing and her eyes teared up as she shared with me that her mom had passed away 3 weeks ago and I wanted to go around my counter and give her a hug. I didn’t though. I could see that she was trying hard to hold herself together, and sometimes when you are in that head space, a hug with good intentions can be the straw that broke the camels back.

But the reason her visit today affected me so much was how much she very obviously missed her mom.

Her life couldn’t have been easy the last few years. Her mom’s behaviour was pretty much that of a toddler, and the daughter looked completely exhausted every time I saw her. She’d always have to keep her mom behind her at the till so she didn’t run out of the store and her mom was always smashing the small cart she was pushing into her daughter’s side and I know it had to hurt, in more ways than just physical.

But she still missed her. Even though it was hard, even though it was probably painful, having to act like the parent in the relationship because I know that when my life is making me crazy, the first person I still want to talk to is my mom.

That kind of love really is amazing. I mean, I wouldn’t have blamed the daughter for being a little relieved that the ordeal was finally over and that they would both get some peace, but I could tell that she’d give anything to have her mom back, just how she was, for just a little longer.

Alzheimer’s runs in my family. Both my grandmothers suffered from it as did an aunt and I know the odds of one of my parents…or myself developing it is fairly high. And I won’t lie and say it doesn’t scare me. I rely so much on my parents, mostly because I truly enjoy their company, and I have no idea what I would do without them to lean on.

I talk to my mom almost every day and movie night with dad is one of my very favorite things. When life is wearing me down, moms always got a free ear for me and dad always knows how to make me laugh.

I can only hope that if I find myself in that daughter’s shoes one day, I can half as amazing as she did with her mom. Her patience and good humor were truly a miracle and while I know she most likely got down at times and probably despaired a time or two, you never would have guessed it from the way she interacted with her mom every time I saw them.

I hope that someday my girl remembers me and smiles through her tears.

And I’m thankful for days like today that remind of how lucky I am to have my family in my life.

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No, I’m not lost…just…misplaced. Also a fic rec.

Yeah, I know, I say it every time. Too long between blogs but honestly, my life is just not that interesting and finding things to write about that won’t get me into trouble can be difficult. I could find lots to say that would get me in trouble, lol.

I’m still working on getting Love Aggression published. I’m sorry it’s taking so long, but life gets in the way sometimes. I’m hoping for a cover reveal this month and to have a publishing date not long after that. Between books I forget how much hard work it is to go from manuscript to sale-worthy. I have faith in my publisher though. And just so you all know, I think you’ll love the cover. I know I do.

We are definitely heading into fall in Alberta. Warm days and cool crisp evenings are my absolute favorite. I also tend to write more in the fall, because it’s when I’m the most comfortable I think.

And I really do need to get back to writing. I’ve been letting it slip because I’ve been stressed over getting Love Aggression ready to go but I think it’s making me lazy, lol.

As for everything else, I’ve been so busy working that I missed Edmonton Pride this year and I’m also missing the AIDs Walk. Both make me very sad but I’m going to plan better next year. I miss getting to connect in a more literal way with the community my daughter belongs to (at Pride) and doing my best to help out HIV Edmonton just makes my life a little brighter. But, I will be making a donation none the less, and I encourage you to do the same in your community.

The one thing I don’t stop doing ever is reading. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I couldn’t read. It’s my escape from the stresses of life when I can’t actually get away. Today, I’m going to rec one of my favorite all-time series. It’s one of those that I can read over and over again and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. I know I’ve recced it here years ago, but I’m doing it again because I can’t help myself. I know when I’ve finished it (the whole series, every damn time) I’ll be smiling.

The Sinner’s Series by Rhys Ford is about the Morgan family and their friends and the men who love them. Every story will leave you wishing you were a part of this amazing group of individuals. Kane Morgan and Miki St. John introduce you to the series in Sinner’s Gin. I warn you though…be prepared to get swept into a tidal wave of angst and love and Irish mother’s who you will wish was your own. You will be lost to the world until you devour every single story include the one from the dog’s POV.

You can find it on Amazon and at Dreamspinner Press and if you haven’t read it, I suggest you run to get them. DSP always has one sale or another going on, so take advantage if you can.

As for my stories, you can find me on Amazon as well as Dreamspinner so far. Soon you will be able to find me on the Purple Horn Press website so check them out as well. My dear friend Ashavan Doyon has his wonderful stories going up there and I promise you, if you are looking for stories that break your heart before putting it back together, then Ash is the writer for you.

And because Sinner’s Gin takes place in San Francisco, here’s a beautiful photo from Anthony Aceto to get you in the mood.

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Filed under Friday Ramblings, Pride, Uncategorized, Writing and thinking.

Anyone interested in an audiobook? Let’s catch up and do a give away!

So, my novel Wrapped Up in Chains is finally out as an audiobook at Audible.com and I’m very excited about it. I was sitting there listening to it the other day and I have to admit, it’s a little strange to hear it read out loud. I tried to be objective and listen to it just as a reader but it was impossible.

We are our own worst critics and have having been over the story a million times during the editing process, I did hear some things in the audiobook that I feel maybe I should have done differently. However, I still love the story and I’m very proud of it and I found myself in tears in a few places…and laughing out loud in others.

What else is new? I am in the middle of editing Love Aggression with my wonderful new publisher, Purple Horn press and my editor Ashavan Doyon. I am blessed to have someone who is a talented wordsmith helping me polish this story. It took me a while to get to the point where I could appreciate what good editing can do but now I understand that even the very best writers need help now and again. And the rest of us need it all the time.

We are working on doing a cover reveal very soon and I can’t wait to show you what a talented visual artist that Ash is. He found the perfect bits and pieces to put together to make something that I think is amazing and reflects my vision of what represents the story.

I’ve got a few WIP’s that I keep going back to but I have two plot bunnies that keep hopping around in my head and I just know that sooner or later I’m going to have to get one of them down on paper, so to speak.

Of course, there’s real life in there too. Working my butt off at my day job, but I am enjoying it still so if I have to work for a living (damn it) then at least I like what I do and love who I work for.

So, that’s it. Keep your eyes and ears open for the Love Aggression cover reveal and I’ll try to keep you all updated more often.

So now, here’s the give away part. I’m giving away 2 copies of the Wrapped Up in Chains audiobook so if you’re interested in a copy, comment on this post to enter, and let me know what it is that you like about m/m stories.

WrappedUpInChainsFS

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Filed under Giveaway!, I'm so excited!, Writing and thinking.

My heart hurts but I have hope…remembering Pulse one year later.

I remember waking up a year ago and turning on the news and it wasn’t long until I started to cry. I just couldn’t fathom how so much pain and anguish could be visited on so many people because of who they love. Think about that for a minute. Because of who they LOVE…

How ridiculous does that sound when you say it out loud? I can’t bring myself to understand how love could ever be a reason for hate.

49 people lost their lives in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida because some mentally deranged man decided walk in and start shooting. Why? No one will ever truly be able to explain it but it’s probably a combination of things. I’ve heard he wanted to make his father proud of him. I’ve heard that he may have been gay and it went against everything he and his family believed in. Self-hatred is a powerful thing, especially when everyone you surround yourself with openly hates everything you secretly know you are.

In the end though, the why of it all doesn’t change anything. Those people are still gone and their friends and family and the LGTBQ community and their allies are still mourning for them. Parents lost sons and daughters, children lost mother’s and father’s and so many lives were irreparably damaged and sometimes the scope of it overwhelms me.

The day after it happened, a gay couple I am acquainted with in town came into the store I work at and the sadness in their faces almost had me breaking into tears at the till and I wanted to walk up and hug them both so tightly. They are a couple in their 40’s who are always smiling, joking and they take the time to speak to me with kindness every time I see them so for me their pain was glaringly obvious as they caught my eye and nodded. It was heartbreaking.

I look at my daughter. She is the shining light of my life and I can’t imagine the darkness that would overtake me if she was no longer there. I’m trying to raise her to be the best person she can be and I love every single thing about her, the good and the bad. There is nothing she could ever be or do that would make me love her any less and every single parent should feel the same way.

The urge to hide her away to protect her is so strong but I know I can’t. So, I let her go, she’s 16 and starting to make strides toward her independent life and all I can do is hope that she finds her happiness.

On Saturday, Meg went to Pride without me for the first time with the GSA she attends and it was so hard. Letting her go to the city alone is difficult at the best of times and something like Pride could be an attraction to people who could be looking to hurt the LGTBQ community. But she is determined to show her support and she loves going to Pride so much. Like me, she finds that the joy of all the people celebrating Pride is contagious and as she has a lot of friends who are a part of the community, it is her honor (and mine) to go out and show her support for them.

Her and I have a deal. She gets to do things as long as she has her phone on her and always answers it when I call. Most of the time she does. Once in a while, she misses the call and it always makes my heart stutter in my chest until I hear back from her.

One of the stories that had me sobbing was of rescue workers and police, who in the aftermath of the murders, had to try to sort through the scene while listening to the never-ending ringing cellphones of people who were never going to answer them again. Loved ones, having heard about the shootings, desperately trying to get a hold of someone they knew could be there, hoping and praying for an answer that would never come.

So yes, today my heart hurts so very much. I will spend the day thinking about the Pulse victims and the friends and family who are still mourning for them.

But I will also be thinking about my daughter and her friends in the GSA. Kids who are being raised to help make the world a better place for everyone. I will think about all the people I’m seeing on the news who are remembering and paying tribute to those who were lost and know that are trying so very hard to help the community heal.

I know this post rambles on a little. My head and my heart are all over today but I felt the need to remember out loud. I don’t claim to be a part of the LGTBQ community and I can never truly understand everything they have been through, but I’m an ally, and I stand with them whenever I can. And I’m hoping for a better tomorrow for us all.

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Ignorance has me sitting here shaking my head….

You know, I’ve heard some ridiculous things in my life and there’s no doubt I’ll hear more, but once in a while, I hear something that leaves me speechless…and not in a good way.

I was just talking to a friend and he was telling me a story that I’ve heard before. He’s a writer who spins amazing tales that leave me heartbroken before he picks up the pieces and puts it all back together again. I believe his books are so wonderful because he’s writing m/m stories from the point of view of a gay man who has lived what he’s writing about. There’s so much of him in his stories that I recognise from what I know about his life. The details might not be the same but he and his husband of many years are still in love and that’s something to be admired.

And that’s not to say that the ladies in this genre don’t write some breathtaking stories, because there’s some out there who make me crave every story they write because they are just that talented and fantastic. I feel lucky as a reader to have more and more stories to choose from in this field and I’m grateful to all the writers who grace us with their musings.

The thing my friend and I were talking about? The issue that’s put a burr under my saddle so to speak? He’s been told by women writers, to his face, that gay men should not be participating in m/m romance because it was “invented by women, for women”.

I have to admit, the top of my head just about blew off. And just to be clear here, I am a straight, female who is proud to be a part of this amazing family of writers but I cannot believe the gall of someone telling a GAY man that he shouldn’t be writing GAY romance stories because it’s not about him…

Excuse me? As far as I’m concerned, I am grateful beyond belief to all the gay men who have supported my writing over the years. This is them and their lives that I’m writing about and I do my damnedest to make sure I get it as right as I can. In fact some of my friends roll their eyes when I ask them questions because they’ve been asked “is this right?” so many time and they think I’m being a little ridiculous.

But as the writing community has found out in the last week, words hurt. Maybe most people don’t mean them with that intent, but if it is pointed out to you by people you are supposed to be supporting that what you’ve said has offended and hurt them then there is one proper course of action.

Apologize sincerely and learn from your mistake. Then move on. Don’t bluster and try to make light of it. Don’t accuse them of being too sensitive and don’t belittle their feelings. Be a grownup.

I don’t believe the gender of the writer is important in most cases. What’s important is the story and the feelings it invokes in the reader. But telling someone they shouldn’t be writing about their own lives is preposterous and if it wasn’t so ignorant it would almost be funny.

So I want to say thank you to all the men out there who have read my stories and sent me messages thanking me for them. I love hearing about how something I wrote has touched someone in some way. It’s what I dreamed of as a writer.

And I want to thank all the men who have supported me as I’ve dragged a story kicking a screaming out of my brain. The ones who told me when I got something right and the ones who told me when I got it all wrong. Both have helped me grow as a writer and I appreciate it more than I can ever express.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. My friend’s hurt was something I couldn’t ignore because it wasn’t something he deserved and I hope that the men in the genre realize that most of the women around here don’t feel that way and that we are happy to stand alongside you as we all try to live out our dreams.

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Filed under Things that bug me., This is important., Writing and thinking.

Love Aggression has a wonderful home!

Long time no blog huh?

Yeah, there’s a lot going on that’s keeping me distracted so here’s a little catch-up!

I wanted to talk a little about Love Aggression. I’ve been working on this story for far too long and it’s been a lot of ups and downs but it finally has a home at a wonderful new publishing family, Purple Horn Press. I’m very proud to be a part of this new venture. It’s being run by two amazing men. Ashavan Doyon and his husband Ron Desroches.

Ash is a brilliant writer whose wonderful stories always wring my heart to peices before putting it back together again. They are raw and real and there’s always little bit of my friend Ash that I recognize in every story, because they all come from the heart. He had to deal with the fallout of Torquere and All Romance Ebooks closing and became determined to provide a better place for authors.

Ron is a businessman who will be making sure that everything is being run the way a proper publishing family should be and I know that between the two of them, they will make sure that every author that publishes with them is treated with decency and respect, something that seems to have been lacking as of late with some publishers and promoters.

So, if you have a story you’d like to get out there and would like all the help that a publishing family has to offer, give Purple Horn Press a chance. They are accepting submissions and the guidelines can be found here.

So, Love Aggression…it’s kind of a strange name but it has a story behind it. In fact, the whole book was written around it.

I was talking with a friend one day. They had adopted a Pitbull from a rescue shelter and after having him home for a little while they realised that there was a bit of a food issue with the dog. It all came to a head one day when they were feeding both the rescue dog and the other dog they’d had for years and the rescue attacked their other dog. Of course, my friend intervened and ended up getting bitten in the process. After everything had calmed down, my friend had gone back over the info they’d been given from the shelter and realised that in their enthusiasm, they’d missed the part about the dog being starved almost to death in its former home and it suffered from food aggression.

It was understandable. After living so long with not enough food the dog was very protective over not only its own food but any food in his area. The solution was simple really, they just had to feed the dogs in separate rooms and after that things ran a lot more smoothly.

That got us talking however. About how when you’d been denied something so important your whole life and how it would make it even more precious to you. And this idea came into my head…what if you’d never been loved? Your parents didn’t care about you, made you feel unworthy of love¬†and because of that you’d never trusted anyone to really love you? Then what if you found yourself with a child? Someone who loved you just for being you? And then you found a lover, someone who fit everything you never admitted to wanting and who made you feel like you deserved to be loved for the first time in your life?

And then imagine what you would do if someone tried to take them away from you? And what if you weren’t¬†completely human and that the animal that lived under your skin fought and howled to be let out to protect the most important people to you when they were under attack?

That’s where this story came from. Ty is a father and a lover whose whole life is wrapped up in protecting his son Jesse and his boyfriend Kelan from the men who killed Jesse’s mother. The fact that he’s a wolf shifter just means that he has one more fight going on, but this one is inside of himself, against the wolf who is a part of him but almost has a mind of its own at the same time.

I can’t wait to share this story with all of you. It took so long to get it out of my head and heart and into my book but I’m very happy with how it all turned out and I hope you will be too.

If you are looking to catch up with some of my other books, you can find them at Amazon.

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Filed under I'm so excited!, Things I'm Thankful For, Writing and thinking.

World AID’s Day and in case you didn’t realize, it’s still an issue.

So, here I am again, another year later, trying to figure out what to write that’s different…that will make people pay attention to something that I’m still not sure why it’s so important to me.

I mean, it should be important to everyone. Finding a cure, helping those already infected and figuring out how to educate people so that new infections slow and finally stop…that should be a priority for everyone who considers themselves to be a decent human being. This is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. If you aren’t safe, if you don’t take every precaution, you are at risk. It doesn’t care who you are, if you are straight or a member of the LGTBQ community. It’s doesn’t care about gender or race or monetary status. If you share needles, if you don’t use a condom, if you don’t take the available medications, if you don’t get tested so that you know your status then you are taking your life into your hands. And the lives of anyone you are making a part of these at-risk activities.

For a long time, my interest and concern was more global than personal. I didn’t know anyone who was HIV positive but I do now. Friends I talk to almost every day and so now my heart is invested and maybe that’s more than enough reason to speak my bit whenever I get a chance. So here’s a link to a place that will help you find help in your Canadian community, but of course a quick Google search will find you help in just about any country in the world.

You want a few statistics? 37 million people are HIV positive world-wide. Almost 2 million of those are children under 15 who were most likely infected in the womb, during childbirth or from breastfeeding. Most people who are HIV positive come from low to middle-income countries, particularly in the third world. Only about 60% of people who are HIV positive know their status. That means there are a whopping 14 million people out there who don’t have a clue and that’s more than a little scary.

Another happier statistic? There are about 18 million people who are accessing antiretroviral therapy drugs that will hopefully give them a chance at a better life.

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, especially on HIV and it’s treatment or prevention. But I know that studies are showing that PrEP and Pep are saving people’s lives and I know that it’s a step in the right direction.

I know that there are a lot of people out there who will help you if you are looking to stay negative and there’s a lot who will help you if you are HIV positive. But you have to look for that help so please, do what’s best for you and get whatever help it is that you need.

I could post a lot of links but each country has its own resources and I think if you are reading this post, you know how to use a computer enough to go looking.

The last thing I know is that if you are HIV positive, I am your friend, your advocate and your shoulder to cry on. I would hug the stuffing out of you if I met you and would love to sit down and hear your story.

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