Lessons Of the Heart

I learned some important lessons recently when I had a heart attack.

  1. Relax. The world goes on without me. I have to leave my classes in the hands of other people for the rest of the school year. Guess what? They’ll managed.  I just have to let it go because there is nothing I can do about it.
  2. Patience. I was in line for a medical flight to a larger hospital to have some further tests, but I kept getting bumped by patients whose conditions were worse than mine. It is one instance when getting bumped out of line is a good thing, because it meant I was in better shape than someone else. However, it was a test of my patience as I laid in a hospital bed for several days just waiting. (Turns out I need bypass surgery.)
  3. Priorities. These types of situations tend to put things into perspective. While I might think something on my agenda is of super-importance, often the ‘urgent’ really isn’t that important. Faith, family and friends trump events, projects, and deadlines every time.

Progress OUTSIDE the Neighbourhood…

I’ve been sharing a lot about the second in the NEIGHBOURS Series that is currently releasing in instalments. Keeping Up With the Neighbours is into it’s third ‘episode’, with the release of the complete series in both ebook and paperback set for July 30.

But there has been lots of other writing related activity at my house!

I finally finished editing my novel AND THE BEAT GOES ON – the first book I had published way back in 2009. Once I got the rights back I knew I wanted to revamp it slightly, but I just couldn’t seem to find the time. Good news! it’s ready to go with a brand new cover and even a change in title. CONSPIRACY OF BONES is set to release sometime in the near future. I am waiting for the right time to give it the fanfare I think it deserves.

Also  ‘revamped’ is PLAY IT AGAIN and MY MOTHER THE MAN-EATER will hopefully not be far behind. Each release will come out when the timing is right.

I also have been submitting several plays that have been languishing on my computer for several years. It’s Your Life, Murder at the Paradise Express, and King William Travels the World have all been submitted to various play publishers so I am just waiting to hear back to see if anyone wants to publish any of them. I also plan to submit my Drama class’s newest play, Snow White and the Dwarf’s Revenge, very soon. If no one picks them up, I may even decide to self publish them…. although I have never done anything like that for any of my plays so far, so that could be a new adventure! (Especially the distribution and performance royalty end of things…)

You could say, I’ve been keeping myself ot of trouble!

NOTE: I wrote and scheduled this post several weeks before it actually went live here. Since then I have had a small heart attack and have had to slow things down a bit. Fortunately, all but the last instalment of NEIGHBOURS II are already in the queue and scheduled for release so that project should move forward with no blips! 

 

A WorDshop, Another Release, and ‘The Discomfort Zone’!

Inscribe’s final WorDshop of the season took place this past weekend in Fort St. John, BC. It was a great time of learning and networking. thanks to those that shared (I did a workshop and moderated a panel) and those that helped organize.

On the fifteenth my regular contribution to Inscribe’s blog was posted entitled ‘The Discomfort Zone’. Check it out at the link.

And last but not least, Volume 3 in my new Neighbours series – KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHOURS – NEIGHBOURHOOD REBEL – REBA released on Monday.

It’s available on amazon along with the first two volumes. (Subsequent volumes are also available for pre-order.)

Passing On the Legacy – A Post Mother’s Day Tribute

This post was originally shared on my previous blog ‘Expression Express’. Since Mother’s Day has just come and gone, I share it here again. Enjoy!

My mother was a very vibrant and eccentric individual. She was known for her whimsical ways and inspired a family phrase that perfectly described the way she lived her life. The Doreen Method is our way of saying ‘make it up as you go along’. This applied to recipes, sewing, carpentry… just about anything. Mom wasn’t afraid to tackle tasks if she had no previous experience or skill, but the outcome might not be the norm. As an artist she loved to paint on any surface from canvas to rocks to whole buildings. When my sister and her husband moved into Mom’s old house they were faced with a dilemma.  There were lots of funny little murals she had painted in obscure nooks and crannies. How could one paint over them?

Mom was also a storyteller, and some of my favourite childhood memories include listening to bedtime stories and songs. We were well acquainted with Thornton W. Burgess’ Adventures of Reddy Fox, for instance. In fact, foxes and mice were the favourite characters in her repertoire of stories and songs. She shared them with her children and nieces and nephews, and the tradition was carried forward to her grandchildren and even her great-grandchildren.

Mom passed away in 2007 at the age of 80. Unfortunately, we lost her seven years earlier to dementia. It was so difficult to see such a formerly vibrant individual reduced to the shell that she became. I had the privilege of sitting with her during the hours before she passed away. Somewhere around four o’clock in the morning on January 17, 2007, she slipped away to be with Jesus, free from the mental constraints that had kept her trapped for those seven years.

While I sat with her, holding her hand, I sang some of those old songs. One particularly special song was an old Haven Gillespie tune written in the 1930s called ‘The Sleepytown Express’. (listen here!) This is the song that ushered her into the presence of the Lord.  Strangely, my sisters and my two female cousins all woke at around four o’clock, dreaming about the Sleepytown Express…

I decided soon afterward that I would like to publish a book illustrating the song as a tribute to my mother. It took several years to do the paintings and quite a bit of  research to obtain permission to use the lyrics, but finally, in February of 2014, seven years after Mom passed, The Sleepytown Express was published.

For me this project was so much more than another book under my belt. It was about sharing Mom’s legacy with the extended family and passing it on to the next generation. This is not a book to be kept in pristine or precious condition; it is a book to be sung and celebrated as we pass the memorial torch on to the next generation.

 

The Dreaded One Star Review

One star reviews. Nobody likes them, least of all an author. When someone – usually a stranger – expresses their less than enthusiastic opinion about something I’ve written, it hurts. I’m not going to lie and pretend that it doesn’t. The good news is, experts say a few less than stellar reviews actually add credibility to one’s author platform, since nobody can appeal to everyone.

I get it when a person just doesn’t like a book. There can be many reasons for this. However, the ones that I find most irritating are those that say something like, “This is just too religious for me.” Duh! Did you read the blurb? Did it mention that this is a work of ‘Christian fiction‘? What about the keywords and tags? If the word faith, Christian, or inspirational is in there, chances are it will have those elements.

Somewhat more problematic, however, are those that are expecting a squeaky clean Christian read and find that my work may be a bit edgier than they had anticipated. A case in point is my NEIGHBOURS Series.  ‘A Contemporary Christian Romance’ is right there in the subtitle, but several readers found it was not Christian enough for their liking.

I have since added a ‘warning’ label to the product description and I’ve made sure to include it on all future descriptions, especially as the sequel to NEIGHBOURS – KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURHOOD – is currently being released. (Thanks to Beta reader, Violet, for making this suggestion.) Here it is:

NOTE TO READERS: Although this series is categorized as ‘Christian fiction’  and has a strong redemptive message toward the end, there may be events that some Christians find troubling, such as the use of alcohol and references to sexual activity, although this always takes place ‘off camera’.

In the end, I must content myself with the fact that many readers have given me positive feedback about the series, and even asked (repeatedly!) for the sequel. Unfortunately, not all of these readers like leaving reviews on Amazon.com or goodreads.com – the too most sought after places for reviews. Perhaps they don’t understand the huge impact that reviews actually have on a book’s sales. (Even though I’ve mentioned it a time or two!)

Here is my final appeal to any readers out there. If you read a book and like it, take a few minutes to leave a review. It means A LOT – probably more than you realize.

Having said that, if you’ve read any of MY books and liked them – please leave a review. ( I said please!) I would especially appreciate a few more positive reviews to balance the negative ones on the first volume of NEIGHBOURS. Things like ‘This is too short” or “It ended too abruptly. It needs a sequel” kind of missed the point…   (It’s a novella and it’s supposed to end abruptly like a TV episode so that readers come back for the next part.) I could use a few more ‘thumbs up’ to boost its creds. *smile*

New In the Neighbourhood Volume 1
Neighbours Series 1 Complete

 

Also, don’t forget that the sequel KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURS is currently being released in instalments! Here is the line up:

Vol 1 – Neighbourhood Tangle – JED

Vol 2 – Neighbourhood Watch – BO

Vol 3 – Neighbourhood Rebel – REBA

Vol 4 – Neighbourhood Upstart – PIP

Vol 5 – Neighbourhood Freedom – WILL

Vol 6 – Neighbourhood Cupid – ZEB

 

 

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