Thursday, October 27, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

This was what was on my door one autumn Tuesday afternoon from Canpar Delivery. Most interesting to note, of course, was who the boxes were from – SIMON AND SCHUSTER (book distributor). Note also, if you can, my explicit instructions of where to leave the (most waited for, highly anticipated, treasured) boxes. My note to the delivery guy said "Please leave just under the hose by door."

Hmmm……..the excitement was building.

The next day….

This was what my door looked like with boxes from Simon and Schuster sitting in front….the delivery guy followed my instructions. Note the hose; he followed my explicit instructions. I like that delivery guy.

This is what 40 copies of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness’ look like. They were in the boxes.

Never before have books been so photographed…I have lots more pictures if you want to see…….

This is an artfully arranged display of the books, ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness’ (yes, I am plugging the book).

Why the boxes, books and pictures?

Two of my stories are featured in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness’ (ISBN: 978-1-935096-77-1, Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC), story #31 – A Real Turnaround and story #85 – How I Talked My Way to Happiness.

There are no pictures of me with the books on the day they arrived. I looked awful from not getting any sleep the night before – I was waiting for the delivery guy to come back with my boxes.

Which was dumb of me, as it wasn't like he was gonna come back at 3:00 o’clock in the morning.

I was a tad excited, to say the least.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Turkey and a Nighthawk

Nosy Person: “Lisa, why are you limping?”
Sarcastic Lisa: “I tripped on a pinecone while feeding a toothless cat at 2:30 in the morning.”

Truly, that’s what happened.

My son was hired to feed a neighbour’s cat over the Thanksgiving weekend; just breakfast and dinner.

So on the third night in to ‘his’ job, I woke at 2am – wide, WIDE awake. After a trip to the washroom, hoping to remedy the non-sleeping issue, I went back to bed. The sandman was JUST about to have his way with me, when………

Oh my God – I don’t think the cat was fed dinner!

I sifted through the sand in my brain trying to remember if the cat had been fed. True, it wasn’t MY job. And true, the cat WOULD live until breakfast. But it would be MY luck, on OUR watch, that something would happen to the cat.

Added to that, the poor thing has no teeth. I couldn’t very well let it suffer anymore than it likely already was; separation anxiety from her owners, and all that. Never mind not eating turkey.

By then it was 2:15 am, so knowing I would never get back to sleep worrying about the cat, I knew what I had to do. With a coat thrown over my pyjamas, and bed-head big enough to turn a racoon to stone with one look, I picked my way through the leaves to the neighbour’s house. The extreme silence at that time of morning amplifies every sound, and I was sure that one wrong step on an extra crunchy leaf would have the neighbours calling 9-1-1. Onward I plodded; down the lane, down some steps, and I was there.

I got to the house - the cat was alive - fed her some pureed cat food, and started to make my way back home. Phew. Hopefully now, worry-free, I would be able to get back to sleep.

Up the stairs I picked my way, again avoiding the leaves.

Oh God. Did I lock their door?

Up a few more steps.

Ummmm…hmmmm. I can’t remember.

I knew if I went home, I would never get back to sleep with worrying about the door – even though I was sure I locked it.

Aw crap. I better go back and check. I’m awake anyways.
So back down the steps I went.

I (stupidly) step on some SOFT looking leaves, and….stumble and twist my ankle on a pinecone hidden underneath.

And mid-stumble, I had a million thoughts race through my head, all jumbled together in one long sentence:

What if I fall and as my body flails down the steps I wake the neighbours and they see me in my pyjamas and they call 911 fearing I am a crazy murderer and with my hair looking the way it does and my arm is still bad from my fall in July (see story ‘The One Armed Rancher' - August 11, 2011) and I hope I don’t fall on it and ohmygodmyanklereallyhurts…..

So I stumbled and fumbled, and luckily didn’t actually fall DOWN the steps. After the sound of things cracking and tearing in my ankle finished echoing off the surrounding homes (I swear I saw someone’s bedroom light come on), I hobbled my way down the steps, back to the neighbour’s front door.

It was locked. Lovely. Perfect. Great. I could finally hobble back home.

And of course, because I am a precautious kinda girl, not a few steps away from the house did I have to go back and double-check. Again. Just to make sure.

Great. The house was locked, the cat was fed - I could go home and back to sleep. Hopefully.

Little did I know (and by then I SHOULD have known – what am I, thick?), that after all those early morning exploits, I would never get back to sleep.

I hobbled home, my bed-head finally settling down. My shoes and coat were quietly thrown on the floor, and I made my way to the couch; why wake the rest of the house?

And then it started.

The throbbing. Ba boom, ba boom, ba boom, ba boom. That dull thud like a beating drum vibrated from my ankle through my leg, and kept me awake for most of the night. Or morning. Or whatever it was at that point. In the great scheme of things, it really didn’t matter.

Needless to say, the boy hadn’t fed the cat dinner the night before, so my nocturnal antics were not completely unfounded. I didn’t get mad at him, however; it’s not his fault his mother is a neurotic nighthawk.

And at least I got my turkey in the oven just a few hours later.

Mine never looks like this.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thankful for the Words and I

For the past year, much of my energy has been spent thinking about my bathroom.

Upon moving into our home - complete with one-and-a-half bathrooms - over a year ago, I claimed the ‘powder room’ as my own. My own office, that is. And I have exuded extreme patience while waiting to make it into my own place to write. But time and money needed to create the office of my dreams, in and around the toilet, have failed to surface. I won’t let those dreams completely flush away.

With a house too small to situate a desk elsewhere, every nook and cranny occupying Legos©, Nerf© guns, gaming systems, and cat paraphanelia, having a desk of my own, elsewhere, is not an option. All the bedrooms, albeit small, are inhabited. Now I see why folks get excited when their brood fly the coop – they immediately make plans for the bedroom left behind. Not that I am anxious for my growing little weeds to leave, just so I can selfishly foster my writing-space dreams, but…..

Books, endless paper (of all kinds), make-up, hairspray, and countless jars of anti-wrinkle cream are stashed on shelves, under the sink, and on a TV tray - from the 70’s, no less. But I love my room, it’s mine, and I can put anything I want in it.

Even autographed Rick Springfield albums.

So, while I wait for the bathroom transformation, I write at the kitchen table at 5 am before the world awakes. Every night I haul out the laptop, brush dinner crumbs off the kitchen table, and set it up, ready for the next morning. But, over time, resentment seeped in. Why can’t I have a desk like every other writer? Why is my office/bathroom STILL not a fully functioning office?

One night as I aggressively wiped a smear of ketchup from MY spot on the table, I remembered – countless writing careers were started at the kitchen table. And in the basement. And in the garage. And better yet, in the bathtub.

Now if my ‘office’ only had a bathtub…..

And although I am nowhere near being the next (insert famous author name, here), the bottom line is, I write.

I met someone the other day who admitted they always imagined writers as being reclusive and mysterious, living and writing in a castle far, far away. Heck, I’m a writer, and my castle is my rented townhouse. And really, I guess you could say I DO have my own throne.

Maybe it doesn’t matter that I don’t have my own office. Where ‘home is where you hang your hat,’ my office is wherever I write. Whether at the kitchen table, or sitting on the toilet seat lid and scribbling a few thoughts with paper and pen, or on the bus, it doesn’t matter. I write.

And I have also come to realize that not having an actual desk has been beneficial. No distractions.

The most distraction I have during the wee hours of my sacred writing time is watching a spider spin his (or her – I didn’t check) web under the glow of the street light outside the kitchen window. Sometimes the kitchen tap drips, so when a writerly thought is stuck, I get up to tighten the faucet. But once that procrastinating-task is complete, and I am sure the spider hasn’t fallen off his/her web, I am back at it, thoughts refreshed. And it’s just the screen, the keys, the words, and I. No paperclips to bend into weird shapes, no books to get lost in research, no nick-nacks to dust or rearrange. Nothing is within reach to distract, fostering procrastination.

Maybe not having a dolled-up desk is best, after all. Who knows….

Despite the spiders and faucets, I would still like to have a desk. All this doesn’t mean I am giving-up, thereby resigning to the fact of ‘never’ having a desk. There is always ‘one day,’ and the dreams surrounding it are endless.

But for now, I am thankful for what I do have. I have a space of my own, complete with toilet paper. I have a roof over my head to write, and the means with which to do so. I enjoy every moment my kids are at home, nestled in their rooms, and Rick Springfield watches me do my hair every morning.

Now, excuse me – I have to visit the powder room...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pickles, Firemen and Chocolate

With pickling salt on one side of us, and an urn on the other, I, along with members of the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America, chatted-up attendees at the Victoria Women`s Show. Fine ladies selling homemade pickles were on one side of our booth, while on the other side, a memorial/crematorium company sold…well…they weren’t selling anything other than an option of who to go to when you are ready to – go. The urn they had on display was quite nice, and at least a make-up artist was a few booths over to give one last quick make-over, just in case.

The Saanich Firefighters were conveniently onsite, selling their pin-up style calendar for charity. Those guys knew how to work a room – hey, it was the Women’s Show, what do you expect? Sadly, however, they never made it our way, so I resorted to eating a chocolate – or two. Maybe more.

So the weekend of October 1 was full of talking, smiling, talking, and smiling. When we weren’t promoting the chapter, we were promoting the romance genre and our authors. Hundreds of books, bookmarks and chocolates were handed out, all in the name of sharing the world of romance writing. Folks claiming to be ‘closet writers’ were thankful to have found us. There were those who were admirers of our local authors present at the booth, as well as those who were surprised to learn how rich Vancouver Island is with writers, published and aspired.

By the end of the weekend, the shortage of bookmarks and bookmarks was telling – we had done our best in promoting the romance genre. My networking muscles had a good work-out, and A535 was liberally applied at night to my sore cheeks aching from all that smiling and talking. And I neither ended up pickled nor in an urn – so that’s something!

From left to right: Jodie Esch, writer of young adult fiction; Susan Lyons, multi-published author of sexy romance; and me…just trying to look cute.

From left to right: Multi-published author of spicy romance,Bonnie Edwards; multi-published author of contemporary romance, Lee McKenzie; and Susan Lyons, multi-published author of sexy romance.

Mimi Barbour, multi-published author of contemporary romance, and Daniella Hewson, historical romance writer

Pat Amsden and Judy Hudson, romance writers

Not shown: Sharon Ashwood, Multi-published author of paranormal romance