Love Aggression, the Pride Parade and life in general. June is a busy month!

My latest novel, Love Aggression came out on May 30 and I am so immensely proud of it. Getting it published took a long time and I hope Ashavan Doyan and Ron Desroches at Purple Horn Press know how grateful I am for all of their hard work. And writers, especially new writers, if you’re looking for a publisher, then give Purple Horn Press a chance. They will walk you through all the steps and I promise, you won’t be sorry. Here’s a link to the submission guidelines!

You know, this has been a stressful couple of months for me. Waiting for the release and then sitting and watching my book riding the rankings at Amazon like a roller coaster. It’s left me feeling a little sick to my stomach. But it also gives me a feeling of accomplishment that nothing else can compare to.

So what else is new? It’s Pride month, obviously and I got back to the parade this year, after having to work last year. My daughter Meghan was part of the Grand Marshal contingent this year and it made me so proud to see her walking up there with her peers, and standing up for herself and the community she was representing.

For those of you who don’t know, Meghan is pansexual. That means she doesn’t really care about the sexual identity of the person she’s attracted to. She looks more at who a person is in their heart and in their mind and I think that makes her amazing.

This year was the first time we encountered a protest at the parade. A group of people from the community wanted to be heard and made sure they were. I absolutely understand that there is still work to be done on behalf of transgendered persons and people of color in the LGTBQ community and I’m glad they had the chance to say what was on their minds. I hope that it will open up a dialogue with the Pride Committee and others who need to work on their interactions and support with the people are still feeling like they are on the outside looking in and terrified of the things that could still happen to them.

However, as a mother, watching your child disappear around the corner at the end of the parade, out of your sight, only to have it all stop a minute or so later it was very scary. I couldn’t see her, or the group she had been with, but I could see all the police officers who were there providing security looking in that direction. My only consolation was they didn’t seem very concerned and when I texted Meghan she answered me right away, telling me about the protest and letting me know that she was with people she trusted and out of harms way.

Fortunately it ended a short time later, with concessions made on both sides and promises for future talks. But the thought of what could have been left me sleepless for more than a few nights.

I thought about telling her no more Pride but then I realized that if I was going to stand with her and the rest of the community, then I also had to understand that sometimes there are risks. I always considered that before going, although my concerns where always more along the lines of queerphobic assholes causing problems.

I think when we are celebrating how far we have come in the world in regards to equal rights, we sometimes forget how far there still is to go. And as an ally, if I want to celebrate with you in the good times, I also have to stand with you in the scary, sad and frustrating times. This year was a sobering reminder that Pride didn’t start as a celebration, it started as a protest against oppression and I’m thankful for that reminder.

And as for the rest of life, well, it’s busy. Working full-time, trying to promote Love Aggression and finding time to read, write reviews for the Love Bytes book blog and work on my WIP…well it doesn’t leave time for much else.

Except thinking about that sequel my publisher keeps hinting at. Woof!

Anyway, you can find all my books at Amazon as always. And just so you know, my best-seller Wrapped Up in Chains is only 99 cents until the end of June!

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Filed under I'm so excited!, Monday Raves, Pride, Things I'm Thankful For, This is important., Writing and thinking.

Patience is a virtue, might be my only one…

So, it’s been a while. Life had definitely been making things interesting lately….or always.

Work keeps me the most busy. I love my job but sometimes it feels like it’s taken over my whole life and I have to work harder on changing that a bit.

Also, trying to write takes up a lot of my time. Not actually writing of course. That would be silly. I mean trying to find the urge to write. When I’m not at home with free time, there are a ton of ideas running through my brain. I write chapters of stuff in my head when I have no time to write it down, but as soon as I sit down in front of my computer, it all flies right out of my head and all that flows from my fingers is gibberish.

However, things are looking up. I’ve got some chapters of a new story, one that my friend, editor and publisher (all the same person, lol) says has promise. And I have an idea for Love Aggression.

Oh yeah, there’s that too. After a long, long, (so freaking long) time, Love Aggression will be out on May 30th, thanks to that publisher I mentioned. Purple Horn Press has taken a chance on me and for that I am eternally grateful.

I can’t wait for you all to read this story. I am still so proud of it. Its funny, after I go through the editing process with a book, I usually end up almost hating it. The stress of the whole publishing process drives me up the wall because it makes me feel so incompetent.

But with this story, its different. I still felt like a moron after the 3 round of edits but all in all, I still love it. I love my characters, especially Jesse. Everyone who knows me knows how much I love kids and Jesse is no exception. He’s a mashup of all my nieces and nephews with a big splash of my sarcastic, sassy and amazing daughter thrown in for good measure. I spent a long time looking after other people’s children and I’ve met dozens of wonderful kids just like Jesse…without the wolf shifter thing of course.

And Ty and Kelan? I hope you fall for them as much as I have. Sometimes I can’t believe that they chose me to tell their story. They lived in my head for a long time and I don’t think I’m quite done with them yet. They might make an appearance in another story I have in mind that stars one of my side characters that my pre-readers and proofer seemed to be fascinated by.

What else is going on? Pride is coming up in a couple of weeks. I’ve already booked the day off because I had to miss last year due to work. I am really looking forward to this year. I’m going with my girl, of course, and some of her friends who have never been. One of them is a young man who has just recently come out and he really is a wonderful human being. He’s been a great friend to my kid, which will always win my heart over and I know that experiencing Pride with him and Meg and Dani and Jeremy will be a lot of fun.

So yeah, that catches you all up on me. In a couple of weeks there will be another post with my flailing about my book and I will apologize now for my over-enthusiasm. For now, here’s a look at my beautiful cover, designed by the very talented Ashavan Doyon.

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The world keeps spinning…World Aids Day 2017

Every year at this time I do a post about World Aids Day. Why? Because I feel like it’s important to remind people that this epidemic hasn’t gone away and even though things are getting better, there’s still a lot of fighting left to do.

I remember becoming aware of HIV and Aids a long time ago, watching on the news as it became apparent that this new disease so many people were calling “gay cancer” was something that could…and would affect everyone. And I was horrified by the fact that so many governments seemed so unconcerned about doing something to help stop it.

I haven’t always been an advocate of equality. When I was younger I was so caught up in my own life, so sure in my immortality back then, that most of the time, the goings on in the world around me barely registered with me.

But as I got older, I grew to understand that the people I shared the world with did have an effect on me and my life and that by at least trying to make things better for them, I was making the world a better place for me.

So, I could spout statistics here, tell you about the millions of people around the world who are still contracting HIV and dying from its effects. I could tell you about the treatments that are helping people live better lives, treatments that when followed properly will leave someone HIV virtually undetectable. I could tell you about all the amazing people in so many different countries who are working together to hopefully and finally find a cure for this virus that has taken so many lives. I could tell you that there are drugs you can take that will help protect you from becoming HIV positive.

But I won’t. If you’re interested, you will look that information up for yourselves. All the soapboxing I can do here will not make you care if you don’t already. I’ll include some links at the end of this post to help you along if you care to learn more.

What I am going to do it to continue trying my best to help where I can. I’m looking for new opportunities in 2018. I’ll be doing the AIDS Walk in Edmonton again and this year I’m hoping my daughter will join me. My kid has so much heart and spirit and it makes me proud that she is so much more aware of what’s going on in the world around her than I ever was at her age.

We will go to Pride together again in 2018, doing our best to support a community that so many people we care about belong to. We always meet the most interesting people there and it’s one of the ways we find opportunities to give back.

And I truly hope every year when I write this post, that someday I will be writing about how the cure was finally found. That is my dearest wish for the people I know who are HIV positive and for everyone who is living with, or will be living with this disease.

Here’s those links I told you about.

The link to CATIE in Canada: http://www.catie.ca/en/world-aids-day

World Health Organization information: http://www.who.int/entity/campaigns/aids-day/en/

Canadian Aids Society: http://www.cdnaids.ca/

United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/events/aidsday/index.shtml

Please take the time to investigate the options in your own country, where you want to help, or you need help.

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Filed under AIDS Walk Edmonton, Monday Raves, Pride, World Aids Day

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.

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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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