Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Not Your Mother's Book - On Family

Just had to share!

My story 'Me vs. Technology' is in the funny anthology, 'Not Your Mother's Book...On Family' published by Publishing Syndicate. My story is my funny take (at least I hope it's funny) on my constant battles with the power of technology and keeping my family away from it, if only just for a moment!

The book can be found in ebook and paper copy at Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, and too-many-too list other good places!

About the book! 'Not Your Mother's Book...On Family' features 60 funny, first-person stories the book’s contributors have written about their own families. As the old saying about families goes: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ain’t that the truth! How many times have you hollered at your kids then thought, Oh, no! I sound just like my mom! Or looking into a mirror you notice your temples beginning to gray, just like your dad’s? Genetics is the hand we are all dealt, and we have nothing to blame but our family lineage. Regardless of what limb you dangle from on your family tree, your roots play an important part in your everyday life, from “Oh, crap!” moments to family squabbles, from daring adventures to dealing with a crazy aunt or uncle. From those nuclear, blended or extended families, new memories are created, memories that turn into family legacies and stories often repeated. While you can choose your friends, you can’t choose your family. So like the family on the cover of this book, always have a box at the ready. You never know when you’ll need it!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Me and Harrison Ford

Notice how I mentioned ‘me’ before ‘Harrison Ford’? That’s because I was first. That’s right. I was FIRST.

Yet, I was one-upped by the great actor.


Let me explain....

So I was hustling along, minding my own business as I do, when just outside McDonald’s right smack in the middle of downtown Victoria, BC, I fell. Like right-down-on-my-hands-and-knees, fell. I stepped on something, something unstable and trippy, and my ankle buckled and twisted. I lost my balance, crashed down on all fours, my bags flying out into the middle of the road (I wasn’t ‘trippy,’ myself, in case you were wondering) (sheesh).

I remember seeing a lady bug on the ground when I was down like a dog.

It hurt like a YOU KNOW WHAT yet I managed to stand up, take a few limpy, gimpy steps, and tried not to faint and throw-up at the pain and shock of it all. Within minutes my ankle swelled up bigger than a grapefruit, and my scraped knee bled all over the place (okay, so I’m exaggerating, but it WAS pretty bad). My panty hose did nothing to protect my delicate skin against the harsh pavement.

That’s right – panty hose. And you know what that means, right?

Well, as luck would have it, I was wearing a dress and it was kind of short (save the wolf whistles) and, as I said above, I was outside McDonald’s right smack in the middle of lovely downtown Victoria. That particular fast food eatery has window seats – a long bench along the windows where folks can snarf down their grease and people-watch.

So needless to say, they got a show that day – if you know what I mean. Like a BIG SHOW.

So I limped back to work and seeing as my grapefruit was not getting smaller and my panty hose were sticking to my pulsating, bleeding knee, I knew it was time to call it a day and hit-up the kind folks at the hospital’s emergency room for a little TLC.

The x-rays came back showing that my bones were gorgeous (what can I say) and nothing was out of sorts in that respect. I did, however, tear all the ligaments and tendons in my ankle and would be off work for a week with a 6 – 8 week recovery. It wasn’t a sprain, but ‘one up from sprain’ said the kind doctor: I had done a ‘doozy of a job’ on my ankle. I was given a tensor bandage, some fun little pills (LOVE THOSE!) and advice to use crutches (not possible with my already compromised multi-hernia-repaired stomach).

So I hobbled home, smiled a goofy, fond smile to anyone and everyone I passed (like I said, I LOVE THOSE PILLS), and tried not to get frost-bite on my ankle from all the ice I had to pack on it.

Fast forward a few days and my ankle, foot, toes and half of my calf is a canvas of colours: eggplant, mouldy grapefruit, beet and the burgundy leaves of a Japanese maple tree. I was one hot momma.

During my recovery I would admire my colourful ankle/foot/leg while writing up a storm. It was hard to concentrate, however, what with worrying about getting more pantyhose being forefront on my mind.

Writing while on a computer often involves some ‘net surfing.’ One day during my convalescence I almost fell out of my chair (not a good idea) when I found some ‘breaking news.’ Before I go on, I want to reiterate that I take NO GLEE in anyone else’s pain and suffering, whatsoever.

Harrison Ford, the actor extraordinaire who stole my heart when I was a wee lass when he played the strapping Han Solo in Star Wars Episode IV back in 1970-something, had been rushed to hospital after sustaining an ankle/leg injury on the set of filming the current Star Wars movie (Episode VII) being filmed in the UK.

Unfortunately, a door on the Millennium Falcon fell open and landed on his ankle, crushing it – OUCH! It turns out the poor guy (and I am sincere in my sympathies) broke his leg and required metal plates in his leg. It’ll be a few months before he can go back to work.

Where he has a broken bone or two, I have torn ligaments, tendons, or whatever they are called. Where he was airlifted to a hospital, I had to stumble back to work through the streets of downtown Victoria, trying not to puke. Where I was savouring whatever sympathy I could get from those around me, he made headlines. (As of this writing it’s been over two weeks since the poor man’s accident and he’s STILL in the news!)

But oh how I wish we could compare horror stories. Oh how I wish we could compare bruises. I would loan him my mop I used to get up and down the stairs. I would loan him my ice pack and share the funny little pills I LOVE SO MUCH. We could sit on the couch, our ankles elevated, and watch Star Wars in high-def, shoving popcorn in our faces faster than we can knock back vodka shots (always fun with the funny little pills I LOVE SO MUCH).

Where he can say he was injured outside the Millennium Falcon, I can only hang my head and mutter “I was outside McDonald’s.” It’s not his fault a door fell on him. And it’s not my fault I can’t walk properly.

But no matter who has it better or worse, at least we can say we both have our health – as it were.

But I’m still choked he was airlifted by helicopter and I wasn’t.

Maybe, however, despite him making all the headlines he did, along with the helicopter ride and extra attention, maybe I didn't have it so bad, after all. At least I can skip - now, at least, however unattractively, however - to the movie theatres.

Harrison, I hope you feel better soon. While you’re lounging around, gimme a call – we can wallow in our suffering together and share stories about our adventures while comparing bruises.

Come on, call me – it won’t hurt one bit.

(News is always changing, but here is the latest from the Toronto Sun on Mr. Ford's condition)

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Those Two Houses

There are two houses for sale on opposite sides of North America. Yes, yes, I know – there are many houses up for sale. But these houses are significant. And it’s by pure coincidence and of keen interest to me that their listings were found within a week of each other, especially given their genealogical connection.

It’s very weird, very spooky and very poignant.

On one side of North America is Waltham, Massachusetts, home of my forefathers. My grandmother was born there, her family is from there (or at least in that region), and my dad and aunt were born there.

On the other side of North America is Richmond, BC, the little city on little Lulu Island where my forefathers emigrated to and where I was born and raised.

Within days of each other, we discovered that not only is the house where my dad grew up in Waltham up for sale, but the house where I grew up in Richmond is also up for sale. Yes, these houses have been bought and sold a few times over the years, but this is the first time we could see their listings, and more.

Oh, the miracle of the internet.

Now, for legal reasons, I can’t show you the listings because I am very by-the-book and follow all laws, rules and regulations.

Says me who, during a drive-by-snoop of our old house in Richmond a week before finding the real estate listing, wanted to steal the house number which was nailed to a piece of wood and left leaning, forgotten, against the garage. My dad, being the stand-up kind of guy he is, said ‘no’ to my sticky-fingered temptation. Harumpf....

Over the years I have often imagined walking through our old house. But right then when we were parked outside the house contemplating theft (me) and commenting on the quality of their yard work (Dad), waves of bittersweet nostalgia at the thought of being able to revisit my old room, kitchen, living room and bathroom took my breath away. I had always been curious about the inside but right then, for whatever reason, overwhelming feelings of homesickness and wistful memories had me knowing that if I were to go through there, I would be a puddle of sentimental tears.

(Just thinking about it, here, has my throat tightening in anticipation).

So it was beyond ironic, coincidence and downright spooky that not a few days later, my dad sent me the real estate listing for his old house in Massachusetts – the house I had heard so much about most of my life. Inside photos of the rooms were on the listing, and although they had been remodelled and updated in the old 1920’s house, he said he could still remember the rooms from when he was a kid.

Then, not a few days later, he found the listing for our old house in Richmond – the house I had just driven-by and pined for only a few days before.

(Note: it was built as a bungalow in 1958, and later raised to become a top/bottom duplex in 1974. We lived in the bottom, my grandparents lived in the top)

It was all very weird - two of our houses found for sale in a matter of days.

When I pulled up the listing for my old house, the real estate company’s website had photos of the interior. FINALLY I could see the inside of my old house. With anticipation and trepidation, the same feelings of angst I had had a week or so before at the thought of going through the old house surfacing, I clicked and opened the photos.

And was dismayed.

Nothing looked like how it was when I lived there. Except for the fireplaces on both floors, wall sconces from when I was a kid still on either side of one fireplace, and the layout of one of the kitchens still somewhat recognizable, nothing was the same. Sure I could figure out which room was which based on the view outside each rooms’ window, but that was it. New paint and flooring everywhere as well as new kitchens and bathrooms had the place looking like someone else’s home, entirely. I knew SOMEthings would change over the years, but I hadn’t imagined the concept of not being able to recognize anything.

And I know it’s not MY home anymore.

And just like that, the nostalgic, wistful, sentimental homesick feelings blew out the front door. Sure I had a tinge of disappointment and loss; the house as I knew it from the inside was gone forever. But there was nothing I could do about it.

It wasn’t like I had been pining for my old house all these years, but I had always cherished the thought of it being THERE, exactly as I remembered it.

Things might look the same on the outside, and though the base - the foundation - might still be the same, things change. It happens, and it’s inevitable. Things need upgrading, updating and fine-tuning – inside and out. Sure there is comfort in the knowledge that the house is still there, and no matter what changes cosmetically, it’s still the same house under all the paint, but still......

There have been lots of changes for me lately – lots good, some bad, and some ‘just the way life goes’ - and that house, those changes, were a much-needed reminder to keep moving forward and to accept change. Let go, move on, and get on with things.

I know this is very cliché, but it reminded me, too, that home is where the heart is (you can stop rolling your eyes now). The memories of my home, and all those I have lived in, will always be safe and secure in my memories. Nothing will change those.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Blog Hop? What is That?

Laura Langston (www.lauralangston.com) invited me to participate in a ‘blog hop.’ Before I explain further, I just want to thank Laura for inviting me to participate. Laura and I met many years ago through the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America, and have stayed in touch personally and professionally. Her current release, “Hot New Thing,” is published by Orca Books (I read it – fabulous! The signed copy is on my keeper shelf!)

Getting on with things...

For those of you new to it all (as am I), a blog hop is like a game of tag between authors where they promote each other. Below are four questions each tagged person answers on their site, and then I ‘tag’ three other authors who, in turn, answers the same four questions on each of their blogs/sites, tagging three other authors to do the same, and so on, and so on, and so on....

It sounded like fun; a perfect chance for me to tell you a bit more about myself (as if you REALLY needed to know MORE), and an opportunity for you to learn about other writers, as well. So without further adieu, here we go...

What am I working on?

Wow – that’s a big first question. Well, I’m right now in the middle of promoting my upcoming young adult novel, ‘Newbie Nick,’ published by Lycaon Press. ‘Newbie Nick’ is about 14-year-old Nick Zinsky who secretly busks for money on the streets of downtown – a ‘job’ he soon learns is hard to keep secret. Since first signing the contract, I have been in a flurry of edits, website building, author/computer-techie stuff, and just plain old excitement. All that, and more, has eaten up a lot of scarce writing time – but in a GOOD way! Since I’m sort of in a ‘lull’ between edits while waiting for the bit release day in June, there’s not much I can do other than start another young adult novel (stay tuned – it’s kind of heavy and ‘dark’), and continue to name-drop my upcoming book here and there.

Newbie Nick.

So juggling my teen boys, home life, and my day job, all with a book coming out, has been a bit chaotic. This is not a bad thing, mind you – I mean, who doesn’t want their own book to be published? So for now I excitedly anticipate the release date, all while busy prepping marketing stuff, writing blog posts when I can, working on edits for various anthologies for my slice-of-life stories that have (happily) popped-up unexpectedly, and try to keep all the ideas for other young adult novels sorted in my head.

How does my work differ from others in it’s genre?

Another big question for being only the second question out of four – I hope the next two aren’t as difficult.

Well – how does my work differ from others in it's genre? I have been compared to Erma Bombeck time and again. However MOST flattering and MOST honouring, I couldn't ever compare myself to the queen of all that is slice-of-life.

Saying that, however, I would say – or I would like to think – that my writing differs from others because I have my own distinctive writing voice. I try to write as if I’m chatting with a friend over coffee (me blabbering a mile-a-minute, mind you), while trying to entertain, keep things light and humorous, all with an attempt at offering insight and inspiration. That’s not to say that I am ‘the knower of all things.’ I don’t claim to know everything. But we all have experiences and insights, so why not share them - nicely and with humour - in the hope of helping someone else?

Why do I write what I do?

Now that’s better - an easier question.

I write what I do because, as I said in the previous question, I write to entertain and to hopefully make you laugh (what’s funny to one person is not so funny to another, I know). I also hope to make you cry, but in a good way, because then that would mean that what I wrote mattered, and made you think, feel and ‘be.’ And I hope what I write inspires you to better yourself (not to sound conceited). We all are trying to get through this thing called life – one step at a time.

How does my writing process work?

Process? What process? There are a million ways to do things, and there is no one right way for everyone. I try to write every morning between 4:30 and 6am before heading off to my ‘day job.’ Everyone’s in bed so I have the whole place to myself. I try to write at lunch and sometimes, if I’m lucky, on Saturday nights I head over to a local coffee shop and cram/write hard for two hours.

I get an idea – usually from a snippet of conversation, an image or scene from a book or movie, or come across a quote that inspires me - and then it snowballs from there. It pays to be snoopy and eavesdrop. Then I think, I make notes, I think, I make notes, I think some more, and then I try to make sense of all my notes. For my fiction work it usually takes about seven or eight versions of the first two to three chapters before I really get the ball rolling. Very often as the story progresses, it completely changes from when I first started – and that’s okay. It’s the constant writing, pushing the story along and allowing to screw up and accept change along the way that makes the story progress. Some hair-pulling ensues, but that’s okay. It’s all part of being a writer! Just keep writing, just keep writing....

And there you have it – a little about me and my writing! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you'll also visit me at my site for my young adult books www.lisamcmanus.com

And now I would like to introduce you to three authors I admire - Ryshia Kennie, Jenny Watson and Jodie Esch. I hope you stop by their own blogs around June 9th and say ‘hi!’

First, I’d like to introduce Ryshia Kennie. We met online (not in ‘that way’) and for the life of me I can’t remember where or how. I think we just ‘found each other’ in the online writing circles we frequent. She’s always one to offer a supportive comment or two and I am inspired by her often-posted writing-words-of-wisdom, as well as the numerous publications under her belt.

Bio: The Canadian prairies are where Ryshia Kennie makes her home. The winner of her city’s Writing Award in 2011, her novels have taken her characters from the depression era prairies in her first book “From the Dust” to the ancient stones of Angkor Wat in her latest book, “Intent to Kill”. For more, visit her website at www.ryshiakennie.com

I’d also like to introduce you to children’s author, Jenny Watson. Jenny and I have recently become acquainted through the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America, as well as through the Victoria Children’s Literature Roundtable. Most recently I spotted her current release “Prove It, Josh,” (published by Sono Nis Press) during my travels on the BC Ferries!

Bio: Jenny Watson grew up in small-town New Zealand, dreaming of big adventures in faraway places. When she was 18, she spent a year as an exchange student in Thailand, where she learned to speak a little Thai (nit noi) and to eat curry and sticky rice with her fingers. After returning to New Zealand to earn a Master’s degree in psychology, she moved to San Diego and trained to be a technical writer. Jenny, her husband and their small but feisty parrot now make their home in Victoria, B.C. where they grab every opportunity they can to go sailing with friends until they launch their own plywood sailing dinghy. Find her at www.jennywatson.ca

Last but not least is Jodie Esch. I met Jodie years ago through the Vancouver Island Chapter of Romance Writers of America, and have come to know and admire her personally and professionally. A former teacher, she has directed her love of writing towards writing for kids (makes sense to me!), and her book “Little White Castles” is part four of ‘The Girlfriends Series.’

Bio: Jodie Esch lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, dog, cat, chickens and alpacas. When not living in her fictional world, she spends her time as the ‘Waste Management Queen’ picking up manure on the property. She is passionate about words and is obsessed with writing and reading. Find her at www.jodieesch.com