1. The Re-release of My Contemporary Romance, The Still Life of Hannah Morgan
This was the first novel I penned and just like the main character, Hannah, it was a book that never gave up. The first publisher that I signed with closed its doors just a month after my book was released. Much to my delight, this year, my current publisher decided to re-release the book. So after a round of edits and revisions and a beautiful new cover, Hannah Morgan’s struggle to find her way and follow her dreams has been reborn. Again.
To Purchase: Amazon
I’ve had several cat companions over the years. Six to be exact. Each one, a rescue from the animal shelter or has come to me after being abandoned. The newest addition to the family is Steve. I’ve never had a kitten before so his antics and boundless energy has been something I needed to get accustomed to. And it is hard to believe that this fuzzy little bundle of goofy energy and loud rumbling purrs almost didn’t make it through his first weeks of life.
It was our local Vet. that introduced Steve to me as he was under her care at the time. He arrived at the clinic severally anemic and infested with fleas. The Vet. said she’d never seen such an extreme case and after the treatment over 300 fleas had been removed. She wasn’t sure he would make it but because of her care and attention he now has a new life with us.
He is now two months old and I still secretly harbour the suspicion that he is really a small dragon, possibly related to Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.
3. HONEY CRISP APPLES
There are apples and then there are Honey Crisps. I’m not a great fan of apples unless they are baked into a pie or a turnover but I make the exception with these little lovelies. They are sweet and crisp with a delicate skin that makes them the perfect eating apple. They are also atrociously expensive and only available for a few months in the fall so they are definitely an indulgence worth waiting for and savouring for the short time they are available.
This week is the book tour for my current release, The Enchanted One. I’m giving away free ebook copies and one signed book so head on over to these great bloggers and enter to win.
Book Tour Schedule:
Everyone has ideal work and home environments, places where they can be their most productive and authentic. I wonder where these preferences come from. Is it an attempt to recreate a childhood home where one felt safe and loved, is it just a matter of convenience and lifestyle or is it a link to the way our ancestors lived that is stored in our DNA that makes one person hanker for city life and another for the quiet of the country?
As an introvert, I’ve spent most of my life trying to fit into an extrovert world. I tried to convince myself living in an apartment in a big city was what I wanted and working in a government office was the thing to do. Then I got older and wiser and just plain tired of trying to be something and someone I wasn’t.
If I had just listened to my child self and followed what made her happy, I would have saved myself a great deal of time, grief and moving expenses. Children always know their preferences especially when they are young enough not to care about what society says.
I’ve always preferred a forest, and not a forest view but being amongst the trees, down in the understory. As a preschooler, I would head outside and straight for the hedgerow that divided our property from the neighbour’s. I would spend hours tucked underneath the branches where it was cool and dark making up stories about magical animals and places. Once I started attending school, every recess I would scoot down to a small dell where a poplar forest stood. I loved that tiny green palace with its shimmering leaves that shivered with the slightest breeze breaking the sunlight into moving sculptures of dark and light.
It wasn’t until my forties when I would finally own a property that was nestled in the trees and for five years I lived in my dream environment. Even on the brightest, hottest days of summer I could find a cool, dark spot of shade where my light-sensitive eyes could enjoy looking at the sunny day from a comfortable perspective.
When it comes to work environment, a softly lit, quiet room with the sound of the rain outside is when I feel the most energized and productive. A sunny day does the opposite for me; I just want to find shade and read all afternoon or have a long afternoon nap. Give me an overcast stormy day, soft glowing yellow light and even better a fire roaring on the hearth and I’m a very happy camper.
I am also a morning person, a very early morning person. Before sunrise, I take my coffee outside no matter what time of year. I go outside to experience the brief moment when the night creatures have all gone to bed and the day beings haven’t gotten up yet. The silence that exists is like the earth holding its breath and it feels as if all things are possible in that fleeting period of absolute silence.
So, I prefer the sun dappled shade of a forest and my home needs to reflect a sense of calm, warmth and dreaminess. I contemplated why I hold such preferences and I think I unconsciously try to recreate in the external world what my internal one looks and feels like.
My imagination and inspiration live in a place of shadows where characters and stories emerge from the half-light of a flickering candle flame, where the brooding clouds create a blank slate for my characters to act out their stories. And the in between places of my mind are where I catch glimpses of another world that ask to be placed on the page.
So what is your ideal place to live; the stark beauty of a desert, the vastness of an ocean view, a cottage in the forest, the open vistas of a prairie, or the exotic flora of a jungle? And what environment allows you to feel most comfortable, the hum and buzz of a city, the quiet of the country or something in between?
I know this is a strange confession for a writer but when it comes to writing regular blog posts, I struggle. If you check my archives I post about once a month and that is a great accomplishment for me. So if this is such a difficult task, why do I do it? Three reasons really. One, I love connecting with other writers and readers, two, as a novelist I need a website where people can find me and three, there are times when I have something I really need to say.
So when I mentioned my peculiar reticence to posting more frequently to my writer friend, Claire, she challenged me to write more often. I protested, I dug in my heels, I threw a temper tantrum but she wouldn’t be put off until I accepted. The challenge: to write a post once a week. Gulp. The thought of that is making my palms sweaty and I think I’m having heart palpitations even as I write this. So why do I have such an aversion to doing this? Is it because I write fiction and this is non-fiction? Do I think I have nothing important to say? Do I fear rejection? Is it low self-esteem? Is Mercury in retrograde?
I do love a good mystery so I did what I always do when faced with a question I don’t know the answer to; I pondered it for a few days. And the answer is quite simple.
I’m an introvert. And on the introversion/extroversion scale I sit on the far left of centre. I’m not a hermit living in a cave but I probably would be if not for the fact I still have a day job I have to go to. I have often joked with Claire that in a previous life I was a monk or a hermit living in seclusion.
And if you have read anything on introverts you will know it has nothing to do with being shy but everything to do with how I process information and the world around me. Contemplation is a natural place for me to dwell. And that is why writing full-length novels is what I do. I love the time it takes to delve into a story, spending months with my characters and seeing what unfolds. It takes me six months to a year to get a novel ready for publication and in that time I write three drafts and that doesn’t include the revisions once it is sent to the publisher. And I know this sounds daft, but I enjoy working on revisions and edits too. When I write novels there is less constraint both in subject matter and time compared to blogging. I am more turtle than hare.
This way of being is also the reason I am drawn to gardening. In order to have a successful garden you need to take it slow, get a feel for the land and the soil, for how the wind dances over the land and how much sun the plants get through the changing seasons. It is important to understand the interconnectedness of the plants, insects and soil that make up the garden. The only way to gain this knowledge is through observation. And growing things takes time from planting seeds to harvest, several months in fact. There is nothing fast about gardening, except for how quickly weeds can spread.
Claire writes short stories; beautiful, evocative short stories. She also worked for a time as the editor of a village newspaper. She had a few reporters on staff but she had to interview, write and put together the paper mostly single-handed. And she had to do it every week. I have told her several times how her ability to do this was beyond my comprehension and just the idea of working on such a tight deadline and writing non-fiction is my version of hell. Why? Because it would be way outside my comfort zone. More like being pushed out of a plane without a parachute than stepping over an imaginary line into the unknown.
I trust Claire. She knows me and what makes me tick. I value her assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. We also share a desire to grow and to stretch who we are and who we aspire to be. So here I go, the first post of the challenge is almost done. And who knows how I will feel in three months if I keep this up. Perhaps, over time it will feel less intimidating and become a comfortable way of being for this introvert.
I love the word comfort for it is derived from the Latin word meaning to strengthen. So with fingers crossed, this blogging thing may strengthen my ability to sit down once a week and put my non-fiction thoughts on paper so that I truly will feel comfortable and comforted when faced with a blank screen and a really short deadline.
I am excited to announce that November 15, 2014 is the release date for my next novel,
The Enchanted One, published by World Castle Publishing.
I’ve got some great giveaways in the works so keep checking back or watch my posts on FB at Lora Deeprose Author and Twitter.
Recently, I watched best-selling author of The Signature Of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow-up presentation on TED talks called Success, Failure and the Drive to Keep Creating.
In this seven minutes talk, she provides examples of the pitfalls of pursuing a creative life and a sure-fire remedy to keep on track and maintain your equilibrium during the inevitable ups and downs.
She explains why both success and failure can wreak havoc on your life:
“For most of your life, you live out your existence here in the middle of the chain of human experience where everything is normal and reassuring and regular, but failure catapults you abruptly way out over here into the blinding darkness of disappointment. Success catapults you just as abruptly but just as far way out over here into the equally blinding glare of fame and recognition and praise.”
The solution to both of these extremes, Elizabeth states is:
“. . . you’ve got to find your way back home again as swiftly and smoothly as you can, and if you’re wondering what your home is, here’s a hint: Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself.”
“You’ve got to identify the best, worthiest thing you love most, and then build your house right on top of it and don’t budge from it. So addiction and infatuation don’t count because we all know that those are not safe places.”
I would add that along with addiction and unbalanced relationships another unsafe place to build your home is people pleasing. It’s just as destructive to the body and soul as any street drug out there.
I came to be the consummate people pleaser as a way for a child of five to keep myself safe and protected while growing up in an abusive home. It made sense as a little girl with no protection to adopt this strategy, it was the only tool at my disposal that would secure a small measure of safety.
Focusing on pleasing others meant I was constantly putting my energy into someone else’s dreams, needs and desires. In essence willingly giving away my power and energy in the hopes of securing love, security, safety. This destruction of the soul is very seductive because I could convince myself that I was being noble, helpful, a good girl, a great partner whenever I would drop what was important to me to please others but at the core of it, this behaviour in an adult is a cop-out because I could always use it as an excuse to never fully invest in myself and thus never really have to fail or succeed.
So a strategy that kept me safe as a child morphed into the most unsafe place on which to build my own dreams of being a writer. I had placed my home, my desire and dreams on an ever shifting trash heap of pain and unloveableness. What is more, I willing kept abandoning work on my own house of dreams (usually when I just started laying the foundation) to put all my time and effort into building someone else’s.
So I recently moved my home onto safer ground with a clearer understanding of how to set boundaries in a loving way and to refocus my attention on myself.
This process of reclaiming who I am at times can be both exhilarating and frightening but I am determined now that I have found a safe place to begin building my home, I will not budge. And when old habits crop up and I am tempted to abandon my writing to give energy to someone else in an unhealthy way I will do as my favourite author suggests:
“And if you should someday, somehow get vaulted out of your home by either great failure or great success, then you job is to fight your way back to that home, the only way that it has ever been done, by putting your head down and performing with diligence and devotion and respect and reverence whatever the task is that love is calling forth from you next.”
Thank you Elizabeth.
I’ve never had a dedicated writing studio. I write wherever I can find a little space and a little solitude. But I do dream of one day having a writing space where creative magic is nurtured by the beauty of the space and it is decorated with a dash of childlike whimsy.
The place I’m currently renting is a basement apartment that I share with my sister and three very demanding cats. But I am lucky enough that my bedroom can accommodate my bedroom furniture and my small writing table.
It is an entry-level basement which means we are blessed with full-sized windows and my room has two that look out into the back garden and the mountains beyond. The only downside is that I write in the mornings and the windows face east. It was impossible to write with the blinds up as the sun was directly in my face. The simple solution would be to keep the metal blinds closed when I write, or it would be if I didn’t have three cats.
If you’ve ever owned even one cat you will understand the futility of trying to keep them out of any room they decide they want to hang out in and a closed door is a definite invitation to bat at it like a pugilist or as my one cat does, throw his whole body at it making it rattle in its frame.
It’s enough of a challenge to write while you have a cat walking across the keyboard (cats can be such critics of the written word) or draped over your forearms as one of them is doing now as I write this. But my feline companions also think closed Venetians are the best cat toys in the world.
After spending several months pulling cats out of bent and twisted louvers or having to reinstall the blind because they pulled it off the window I resorted to taping up thick blotting paper on the panes while leaving the blinds pulled up.
That inexpensive solution did the trick, the sun was off my face and the cats ignored the windows. But after two years, the tape I used to secure the paper had dried up and the paper has curled with age.
I wanted something a bit less utilitarian than paper and tinfoil screamed white trash, so I decided to install frosted privacy film on the windows. I was going to choose something simple, maybe with a bit of texture but when I went to the hardware store and looked at the choices, I did an unexpected thing.
Along with frosted textures and understated designs there were two patterns that I can only describe as faux stained glass. One featured magnolias, the other clematis and both bordered on the tacky end of the design esthetic. But there was something about them, their vibrant colours and as a gardener I can’t help but love flowers. My first choice, the simple frosted white ones suddenly looked institutional.
I bought the stained glass flowered window film, one of each pattern. This choice shocked me and my sister too as she said “Really, that’s not what I thought you would have picked.”
But now that I’ve installed them I know why I made those choices and why they are perfect for my room. They may be fake stained glass but they transformed the space in which I write into a sacred space of creativity. The quality of light that now streams in, in the morning makes the room feel magical and a little bit whimsical. In fact, a perfect place to write.
I just finished writing a story where the house is as much a character as the people. It is a snug little cottage that at first, welcomes the new owner but below the surface it hides its own mystery and pain. As I wrote, I thought about the way houses have a personality, a feeling about them good or bad and I wondered how this comes about.
I believe that in some cases it’s because of spirits that still linger. I’ve had enough first-hand experience not to question the possibility of ghosts and things that go bump in the night. But what about places that have no spectral visitors but still elicit an emotional response from visitors. What is it we are feeling?
At the most basic level we are all energy. Thoughts and emotions are no different, just another form of energy. So if a home is filled with loving people, where the events were positive can these energies become imprinted into the very walls and floors? And would the reverse be true, if a building has witnessed trauma, violence and deep unhappiness would that too become part of the fabric of the building.
So what allows a dwelling to record the lives of its previous owners or the events that occurred there? If most building materials are porous and can absorb sound, is it just an accumulation of these sound waves that contribute to the overall feel of a home; much like a sponge absorbing water. Or could it be something more? What if it is more like a relationship that over time becomes an indelible bond between house and homeowner?
I recently read The Bond, Connecting Through The Space Between Us by Lynne McTaggart. In her book she explores the nature of bonds not just between human beings but between our environment, the natural world, our solar system and even the universe. It is a fascinating read and a book I highly recommend.
In discussing Heisenberg’s “quantum field theory” she states the following;
He discovered that at our most fundamental layer of being, our subatomic particles not only aren’t really a definable anything, but also do not remain the same at any moment. . . . All subatomic particles are constantly trading information with their environment and being reshuffled in a dynamic pattern. The universe contains and indeterminate number of vibrating packets of energy that constantly pass energy back and forth as if in an endless game of basketball with the quantum sea of light.
Further she writes:
Nature’s most basic ingredients are bundles of energy that are indistinguishable from the field around it. According to quantum field theory, the individual entity is transient and insubstantial, and particles cannot be separated from the empty space around them. Although you appear the same at any given moment, you are an entirely new batch of subatomic energy with every breath you take.
Rather than a batch of separate things jostling around in empty space, it is more correct to say that fundamental matter is simply a relationship between two indeterminate things: particle energy traded with other particle energy and also with the background Field. It is in fact the Bond between these tiny particles and the background Field that creates everything that we refer to as “matter.
She concludes her description of the relationship between energy and the Zero-Point field with the following:
What this essentially boils down to is that everything we label an object, no matter how large or how heavy, is essentially a collection of electric charges interacting with other energy. The most basic property of matter, its sense of being a solid “something,” is only and entirely due to the Bond between subatomic particles and the background sea of energy.” A subatomic “particle” is simply the seeking of a connection in the space between a big web of energy and a little knot of energy. You and everything around you are simply a collection of charged energy having a relationship.
I know that the above quotes deal with a purely scientific description of an energetic relationship but I’m a fiction writer so I’m allowed to make the next supposition if only as an exercise in creativity.
So if we are energy having a relationship with other energy and the Zero-point Field by constantly exchanging subatomic particles and our environment includes our home what if what was going on was that over time the energy that was once house is now you and vice versa. And in that back and forth relationship would the memories and emotions be part of that exchange?
And what about the house? Over time do we take on the history of the trees that the framing is constructed from, or the feeling of a mountain from which the stone was quarried. And what about the people who built the house, the land that it is situated on or the furniture inside it?
My mind fizzes with the possibilities.
What kind of relationship are you having with your home? Do you have a blissful union or do you require couples counselling? Or maybe it’s time to find a new house mate.
Something to ponder isn’t it?