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Playlist for Four (The Republic #2): A Little Heartbreak, A Lot of Romance, and Something About Sleep

Time for a little audio show-and-tell! With Four coming out next week, I wanted to share its playlist. For those who don’t know: I’m addicted to music. Always have been. And my interests are WIDE when it comes to genres and artists. All of that helps when I write, especially since I find writing in the silence incredibly uncomfortable. Each story has its own soundtrack and its own personality. This is no less true for Four, which turned out to be slightly alternative and indie rock, heavily electronic and indie pop, and suitably acoustic, with a touch of darker tones. Then again, the playlists for The Republic series are, surprisingly, not as dark and heavy as I anticipated. Instead, the muses are banking that deliciously dark stuff for when I start on the two science fiction series I’ve dubbed “the Kindles”. (More on those once I get more of The Republic completed.)

 

 

The Major Themes

Conjure One – Extraordinary Way (feat. Poe)
One of my favourite Conjure One songs. Then again, I love Poe’s voice. But this became a theme given the lyrics and sound. It’s a song that, on the right day at the right time, can make me cry from the bridge onward because of the beautiful sentiment and the tension crafted with the electric guitar. In terms of the book, it’s very much a theme for Mayr and Tash’s relationship. They’ve both been hurt in the past because they haven’t been enough, but this song celebrates relationships that are enough.
“What an ordinary day,
the extraordinary way
you take what I can give
and you treasure it.”

 

Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do
This song is one of two ultimate Mayr & Tash themes. I first heard about it from a party on Facebook where I asked readers to share their fave songs. I gave the video a go after someone posted it — I like about 1/2 of Ellie’s discography, and I was curious because the song is on the soundtrack for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. At some point during my first listen, the song became a staple on Four‘s playlist. The whole thing screamed perfect for the boys. I can’t listen to it without thinking of them. Although what makes it even better is knowing Tove Lo wrote the lyrics — a lovely Swedish songwriter and musician I have a big musical crush on.

 

Florence + the Machine – Long & Lost
The song that became an instant theme for Tash. I won’t say too much as to why since spoilers, but it speaks to those choices he’s not proud of, all those things he wishes he could redo. All his heartbreak. The song had me at my first listen. Here’s the live version since the studio album version isn’t on YouTube. :S

 

Lifehouse – Trying
If the previous song is Tash’s theme, this one is Mayr’s. He tries so hard in love and life, and the overall sound and tone fits who he is. Plus I’m a sucker for a waltz time signature.

 

Nickelback – Trying Not to Love You
Here’s the second ultimate Mayr & Tash theme — the song that captures the whole book.

 

SOHN – Carry Me Home
Again, another song that had me at first listen after I watched the movie “Insurgent” to the very end. I replayed this song a dozen times on the Blu-ray that night. This became the soundscape for intimate scenes and other key emotional bits.

 

 

 

Then there were those other songs…

 

A Perfect Circle – The Noose
A darker song on the playlist, and one of my favourites by A Perfect Circle (right up there with “Passive”). For readers: this fits in the book during Trial #3.

 

Ahn Trio – All I Want (feat. Susie Suh)
This song makes me cry. Seriously. I heard it on So You Think You Can Dance and it’s been on a few of my playlists since. Where there is a romance in trouble, there is this song.

 

Avril Lavigne – Let Me Go (feat. Chad Kroeger)
A song about overcoming the failed relationships of the past and moving on. Mayr & Tash have a lot of that going on.

 

Bedroom Rockers – Nothing Else Matters
I love watching CSI and CSI: Miami, not just because of the science spin but because there are fantastic songs. This is one of those, and the lyrics are quite fitting with Four. So is the slow feel.

 

Blue October – Hate Me
Another song that (a) makes me cry and (b) reminds me of Tash. A beautiful, emotionally raw song about sacrifice and wanting a better life for someone you love.

 

Cinephile – Comatose
A walk on the darker side.

 

Cinephile – One
Something a little more romantic and that concept of soulmates…

 

Cinephile – What Becomes of Us
Right back to the dark side. Another song I found thanks to CSI.

 

City and Colour – As Much As I Ever Could
More Canadian content. More waltz. More acoustic guitar.  The pace and tone of Mayr & Tash’s romance. For readers: this song is especially relevant when Tash goes through those parts of the book.

 

City and Colour – Day Old Hate
The sound of heartbreak in the book.
“Now you still speak of day old hate
though your whole world has gone up into flames.
And isn’t it great to find that you’re really worth nothing
and how safe it is to feel safe?”

 

Conjure One – Sleep (feat. Marie-Claire D’Ubaldo)
Another one of my top Conjure One songs — especially when I’m trying to go to sleep (go figure). But seriously, this song works with both Mayr and Tash. My favourite lines: “My nervous system is shot all right, I won’t sleep unless you sleep with me tonight”.

 

Daft Punk – Beyond
Because Daft Punk. This is the most sensual I’ve heard them get.

 

Frou Frou – Let Go
Another song about letting go, moving on, and taking a chance.

 

Gotye – Hearts A Mess
Love me a touch of jazz and a bit of darkness to the sensual feels. Not to mention that yes, both Mayr and Tash are a freaking mess in the very context of this song.

 

Joseph Trapanese – Convergence (Score Suite from “Insurgent”)
OMG, Joseph Trapanese. Hands down the best young composer our household has heard in a long time. He’s going to have such a great career like Howard Shore, James Newton Howard, John Williams, and all those awesome composers. I loved his work in “Tron: Legacy” with Daft Punk and the Divergent movies, “Insurgent” and “Allegiant”. The third movement in this suite is the foundation for SOHN’s “Carry Me Home”, which I figured out after I adopted both songs for the playlist.

 

Loreena McKennitt – The Old Ways (live, Nights From The Alhambra)
A song of love and woe from a Celtic heart (err, Canadian with a love of crafting Celtic music). Another song that moves me to tears — the cello solo kills me in this live version, but the wail of the Uilleann pipes does me in on the studio album. This song also tends to show up on my playlists whenever I write fantasy novels that include not-so-good times and/or pagan undertones and elements. And Four certainly is all the above. From what I can tell, this song will appear on the playlists for at least half of the series.

 

Metric – Gold Guns Girls
I heard this in the car coming back from a family function and thought “YES, this song”. Then I found out the lyrics were inspired by the movie “Scarface” and that was it. Because criminals and mobs. This is the sound of the Shar-denn’s gangster activity in the series. Welcome to the darker side of Canadian rock music.

 

Metric – Gold Guns Girls (Acoustic)
… And then, there was this. On my way to finding the album version, I stumbled across this acoustic version and immediately fell in love. It gives the song a rather different spin. A softer, emotional touch. A great song for those moments in the book when things are bittersweet and weighted with doubt.

 

Moana and the Tribe – Manawa Tahi
Music from a Māori band in New Zealand. I had the pleasure of seeing them live a few years ago and they were brilliant. This song provided the right inspiration at the right time in the book, during parts of the Uldana Trials where there’s a certain atmosphere and feeling.

 

Skylar Grey – Words
Somehow this made it onto the playlist, which is interesting considering I usually can’t listen to this song without being a mess (ever since my mom died, it hits a little too close to home). But sometimes, as a writer, things go into that place and you do things you normally wouldn’t. In this case, this worked for the worst possible feels in the book.

 

Underworld – And I Will Kiss (feat. Dame Eve Glennie)(London Olympics 2012)
I don’t do sports and I usually avoid the Olympic Games like the plague. But I did catch the Opening Ceremonies for the Summer Olympics in 2012 and wow, I’m so glad I did! Of the whole thing, this opening piece was the most amazing. It took me until recently to realize the music was done by Underworld (my dad loves their music), but seeing the whole thing unfold at the Games was a HOLY S*#T moment. The video here shows only still photos, but there might be a live version somewhere that the Games Committee didn’t have taken down. I can’t remember exactly where I used this to write, but it was there (mostly the first ten minutes).

 

Woodkid – Never Let You Down (feat. Lykke Li)
Going back to that romantic feels thing…

 

Zella Day – Sacrifice
And finally, the list ends with Zella. Because at the end of the day, the themes in this book include sacrifice, the things people do for those they love, and the fear of being alone. This is a song for a hero and a relationship that fights to hold on.

 

 

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The Republic Book #3 Has Been Signed! Blood Borne: Enemies-to-lovers & Bad Things (+ excerpt)

Wooooo! There’s some partying going on around here: Blood Borne’s been picked up by Less Than Three Press. *happy dance* It’s the third book in The Republic series and reveals several things that are key to the series going forward. It also offers both my first asexual MC and first bigender MC.

The contract has come at such an amazing time. I finished edits on the galley for Four (book #2) this week and I’m currently working on book #4, Soulbound. Together with Blood Borne, the three books form a snug trio within the whole series. There’s a lot of spill-over.

More information to come in 2017. For right now, here’s a bit about the book and an excerpt.

 

BLOOD BORNE Coming in 2017 poster

 

 

About Blood Borne:

For Ress, survival is nothing short of a complicated nightmare. Caught between two masters on different sides of the law, his life is falling apart one bad decision at a time. All he wants is to be is a good person, a loyal family man, and a successful metalsmith–a fantasy he can never obtain while he works for the Shar-denn, the gang that plagues the republic of Kattal with violence and criminal activity.

To make matters worse, he works as an informant for the High Council. He scrapes through both jobs waiting for his last breath, knowing his usefulness is coming to an end. As the Shar-denn motto says: “The only way out is dead.”

Death is coming sooner than he expects.

No stranger to living complicated decisions, Adren is caught between worlds of cir own. The child of a Shar-denn faction boss, Adren is alone after the rest of cir family is arrested. Enraged and on the run, Adren is determined to punish Ress for turning in cir family. No one betrays the gang and lives. In true Shar-denn style, he will pay in blood.

 

Excerpt:

No one betrayed the Shar-denn and got away with it. No one.

And no one hurts my family without paying for it. Revenge isn’t sweet, it’s necessary. And I’m going to bring so much necessary upon this guy he’ll feel it for all eternity.

Gripping Pade by the collar, Adren tugged him close. “Give me the name. Tell me whose blood I need to wear.”

“Ress.” Pade’s lips curled into a smirk. “If you’re going to do your daddy proud, please tell me I can come with.”

Adren shoved him back. “Be my guest. There’ll be enough guts to go around.”

“There won’t be anything if we don’t shut up and get moving.” Darus growled and snapped his fingers at the quiet, gangly man in the furthest corner. “You, Heweth, get that damn door open.” He sheathed his knife as Heweth obeyed, dragging a short ladder with him from where it had leaned against the wall. “The rest of you run. Don’t look back, don’t give me sad eyes, don’t give me lip. Head for cache houses in any direction that isn’t where we’re going or find one of the other hideaways. When you get there, spread the word that Rivane’s gone down.”

Heweth positioned the ladder beneath the ceiling door and climbed the steps. The door squeaked as Heweth opened it slowly, allowing dim light to creep into the hidey-hole. Adren bit back cir protest as Darus clapped a dirty hand over cir mouth, jerking cir against his chest.

“Shut it,” Darus whispered, tilting his head and stepping against the wall, hiding in the safety of the shadows. No one breathed or moved, the perfect silence in the cellar disrupted by the soft sounds of leaves moving in the breeze. Heweth pushed the door open further and stuck his head out, glancing in every direction he could manage without falling.

“Clear,” Heweth announced with a hoarse whisper, pushing the door open completely. “See you on the other side.” He scrambled out of the hole and disappeared into the darkness, his footsteps heavy on fallen leaves, branches cracking in his wake.

Pade grabbed Adren’s hand and yanked cir from Darus. “Your turn.” He pulled cir towards the steps, gripping cir tight as he climbed the ladder and dragged cir with him.

From behind, Darus shoved Adren up the steps, jabbing cir in the back and pushing on cir legs.

Hands off, Adren almost yelled. If circumstances were different, ce would have turned around and punched him in the throat.

Things are already complicated enough. And that bastard—that unbelievable, cock-twisting bastard of a little bitch—he snitched on us. Us!

Adren snarled at Pade as he hauled cir onto the grass, twigs snapping under their shifting weight. It should have been Mordane standing there with cir. It should have been Tethe pushing cir up the steps. Rivane should have been the first to run, not an overpaid lackey who they would likely never see again. Not one of the men in the hole would ever measure up to the men that had raised cir. For all of Tethe’s inner darkness and inconsiderate impositions, he was the staunch protector ce needed to feel safe in cir own home. When no one else could be trusted, Tethe was the one ce turned to, knowing his scathing hands would settle any danger ce could not ward off cirself.

And when no one else wants to be seen with me, there’s Mordane, the only one who’s ever cared enough to love me for me most of the time. He’s the only one who bothers listening that little bit further. And they’re both gone because someone couldn’t keep their mouth shut.

As Darus pulled himself out of the hole, Adren flicked cir glance to the sky. Through the gaps in shaking branches and wilting leaves, ce glimpsed the stars, cursing every breath the snitch took. The last time ce had stared at the stars, ce had stood with Mordane and Tethe, laughing at the absurdity of wishing upon the night sky. It was so vast, so consuming, yet untouchable, unobtainable. A sea of cold emptiness waiting to crash down upon them and still people cast their hopes to the stars. Adren had agreed with cir brothers that would never be them, only one of the things they had in common. Stars would never dictate their future. Wishes would never fool them. They would make their own destinies, pulling each other along for the ride. None of them would be left behind.

Now that memory was tainted, muddied by a new memory of standing alone, wishing upon the stars for cir family to survive.

Darus snatched Adren’s arm. “Let’s go.” He pulled cir to the north, charging between bushes without waiting for Amelin to catch up. Pade hurried past them, light on his feet, scanning every direction for danger. So far, the soldiers’ focus seemed to have remained on the estate on the other side of the woods, though their luck could change at any moment.

“And you expect us to go where?” Adren clutched cir satchel, picking up cir pace to match Darus’s.

He sighed loudly, throwing an annoyed glance over his shoulder. “Cache house. We need information. Can’t catch a snitch when you don’t know where he is.”

“And we need a plan,” Amelin added, rushing up behind them, winded.

“That, too.” Darus tugged Adren harder. “But we need to leave now, so keep up.”

When he broke into a run, Adren followed, batting away leaves and tall grasses as they fled with Pade in the lead and Amelin behind. Each step that took cir away from home felt like a blunt saw shredding cir heart. The house ce had grown up in. The family ce loved. Both abandoned, both seized; both in the custody of cruel hands that would respect nothing about them.

Ress would die—a promise, not a hope. He would shed a drop of blood for every memory that haunted cir.

For each comforting image of cir father playing a game with cir, teaching cir about rules and strategy, Ress would weep at cir feet.

For every time ce remembered cir mother’s girlish laughter as they danced barefoot in the courtyard to the dulcet sounds of a string quartet, Ress would feel the lash of Adren’s wrath.

For all the times ce relived the times Mordane and Tethe had embraced cir and wiped the fear from cir soul with the gentlest glance, Ress would scream for mercy.

Ce would teach him what loyalty meant. Ce would bleed him dry.

I can just see him now: a sleazy, greasy, little man in expensive boots with cheap perfume. Not even worth the flimsy rag to wipe his guts from the wall. Or he’s some lazy lowlife of a rodent, toothless and clawing at the scraps. No prospects except to run his mouth. I bet he’s too stupid to hide.

Adren glanced at Darus, his long coat trailing behind him as he kept a steady pace, taking large strides with Pade through the harvested field before cir. They would find Ress and make certain he could never speak again. Any plan, any strategy. I’ll do whatever I have to do to shut him down, and these guys can take whatever shots they want. But the final kill is mine. I’ll make his soul writhe in agony forever then I’ll get my family back. And if there’s one life I’ll end happily, one name I’ll die saying without regret, it’s Ress’s.

 

 

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For the Clan: Facts & Trivia About the Book

 

During the process of writing For the Clan, I had to dig deep into the real world and pull out bits that worked. The book took me into a direction that I don’t normally go: a futuristic version of Canada with a dystopian spin. Usually I create whole new worlds, but this one wanted to stay firmly on Earth. And it turned out to be such an angsty outlook on Canada. Like, really, really angsty. It took me awhile, but I think I figured out why: other than the fact I love writing dark and angsty plots and characters, there’s a little thing called politics. At the time, I was pretty pissed off at what federal government was doing with our country and the road we were headed down. For the Canadians reading this, you know what I mean. One word: Harper. Had that line of political thought and disgusting discrimination continued, we wouldn’t have recognized our country.

So there’s THAT, one solid fact about the book that underlies the whole thing.

But wait, there’s more!

I thought I’d share a few of the facts about the book, just because I like sharing and some of it I found terribly interesting. So here we go…

 

For the Clan: Trivia and Fun Facts

(#1) Jace’s clan was named Teach because I was watching Crossbones at the time (TV show about the famous pirate, Blackbeard, also known as Edward Teach). I thought it worked well, in a weird sort of way.

 

(#2) The Sigma program is named after sigma receptors, which are affected by drugs. When I was thinking about Roan, his tattoos, and the program he was enrolled in, I kept thinking sigma was in there somewhere. I didn’t know why, just that it sounded like it belonged. When I looked up the use of sigma in the scientific world, I discovered its biological connection. It’s also used in statistics to denote standard deviation; or rather, the deviation from the statistical normal. I immediately knew I had to go with sigma: the word play made me laugh so hard, it’s embarrassing.

 

(#3) The clan’s gas masks are based off the M50 Joint Service General Purpose mask that’s in use right now by the United States armed forces.

 

(#4) The locations are based off of real places. The fight between the military and rogue element is based off a mall in London, Ontario that I visit monthly, and it really is north of a university (my alma mater, actually… love you, Western U!). The prologue is based off a couple towns on Lake Huron where my grandmother lives – they’ve been a big part of my life as much as my hometown and London, involving many a summer vacation and family Christmas. (Incidentally, she’s the same grandmother who writes.)

 

(#5) The “burning monks” mentioned are inspired by real incidents. The photograph referenced is that of Thích Quảng Đức, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk. He burned himself to death at a busy intersection in Saigon, Vietnam on June 11, 1963, in protest of the persecution of Buddhists by the government. The chilling photograph, taken by Malcolm Browne, has been famous since. (Don’t look it up if you’re easily queasy.)

 

(#6) Nannie’s name is pronounced “Nah-nee” rather than “Nan-nee”. The spelling was inspired by a nickname given to Anne Boleyn (Black Nan) and ties back to Roan’s mother, Anna.

Although a fun fact I’ve learned recently: in the mid-1800s, members of the Newash tribe were still in Owen Sound, a major town which is roughly a 30 minute drive from Port Elgin and Southampton (the towns featured in For the Clan’s prologue). At the time, their leader was Chief Senegal, who had a daughter… named Nah-nee-bah-wee-quay (“Upright Woman”). [According to Owen Sound: The Port City by Paul White] In a strange way, that ties the beginning and end of For the Clan together, all within the concept of a nomadic society and matters of the people versus government. Mind. Blown.

 

(#7) The character Winchester was named after the Winchester rifle. Yeah, I went there.

 

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that are the major facts worth sharing!

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Release Day! Enchanted Soles Anthology + Excerpt #bisexual♥ #fantasy #anthology

 

It’s Release Day!!!

Enchanted Soles cover (small)

 

Purchase Enchanted Soles directly from the publisher Less Than Three Press or from any major online retailer, including: Amazon • Barnes & NobleSmashwordsAll Romance eBooksKoboiTunes

 

 

Enchanted Soles

Sometimes all it takes is the right pair of shoes…

In Three Nights (A.D. Truax), Synder buys a pair of sandals that have a mind and plan of their own, and drag him to a celebration to which he was not invited—and into the arms of a handsome prince.

Saidah of Dame Fortune (C. Finley) asks her beautiful new wishing boots to take her to her true love, but the simple question has a complicated answer that will take more than magic boots to find.

Heart, Lace, and Soul (Archer Kay Leah) brings together Elly, who seldom removes the psychic boots that let her read and feel the minds of other people in order to help them, and a man her boots cannot read.

In Aelfwear (Katey Hawthorne), Frida is hired to make hideous shoes for a beautiful woman who claims she’s out to cause misery for a man who once betrayed Frida’s family—but Frida fears she’ll wind up being played for a fool a second time.

And Into the Hollowed Veil (A.M. Valenza) is the story of a man who puts on a pair of beautiful red shoes and finds himself in a strange forest helping a beautiful woman rescue the man she loves…

** Enchanted Soles contains no explicit content. The story Heart, Lace, and Soul contains brief descriptions of depression and suicidal thoughts.

 

And if you’re on Goodreads, the book can be added here.

 

•••

Excerpt from Heart, Lace, and Soul

“Everything all right?” The man in the grey coat stepped onto the patio carrying two mugs. The corners of his eyes softened. His lips offered a small, sad smile, as if in reassurance.

As if he understood heartbreak.

“Never better.” Standing, Elly held out his phone, relieved she didn’t tremble like she used to after talking to Nareen. “Thanks again.”

“Sure, any time. I can even listen if you need me to.” The man held out a mug. “Here, I’ll trade you. Thought you could use some fresh tea. Something peaceful for a hectic day.”

“Wait.” Elly cautiously accepted the tea before handing him his phone. “This isn’t right. I’m supposed to be buying you the drink for saving me.”

The man shrugged. “So maybe we’ll trade gratitude, instead. You got the pleasure of using my phone, and I got the pleasure of finally meeting you.”

“Finally?”

A blush spread across the man’s face. “I kept meaning to say hello before this. You’ve come in often during the last six months. I’ve been thinking about you and how it might be nice to get to know each other. Maybe try a meal and see where it goes.”

The words could’ve knocked her over had she not been leaning against the table. He wanted a date?

His glance flicked to the street on the other side of the bushes behind Elly. “When I saw you about to kill your phone, I thought maybe fate was trying to tell me something. It gave me the chance to talk to you without creeping you out like a stalker. At least, I hope it did. Didn’t. Did? Crap, I don’t know which one. And I’m sounding like a complete idiot, aren’t I?” He stepped back. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you.”

“No! You aren’t bothering me. It’s sweet. It’s just… been a while—”

Elly’s breath hitched as she went to say his name.

She didn’t know it.

His name had never flashed across her visual field. For all of the moments he’d stared her in the eye, his face perfectly exposed to the facial recognition software in her microchips, his personal information had never popped up. She saw nothing but him.

But why? Why wouldn’t it have activated? It should’ve the second… No.

Elly’s fingers numbed. That was the reason why he was peculiar, the reason why he knocked her off-kilter. She couldn’t read him. She felt nothing from him.

Nothing.

He was an emotional void. Her boots didn’t register him, not even a little. Her enchanted boots, the ones she’d worked hard to earn from the Academy for Empathic Healers; the greatest tool available to empaths, helping them heal others—and they were suddenly useless.

He rendered her emotionally blind.

It all made sense: since her boots didn’t connect to his essence, his deepest self, the microchips didn’t activate to give her his information. If she wasn’t standing before him, she would’ve thought he didn’t exist.

That’s what was missing. The rush. The ride. She’d always likened it to being engulfed by a tornado, spinning wildly, downwards and upwards until getting tossed into the eye. Sometimes it was more like being swept into oblivion by a tidal wave that broke violently, stranding her in darkness and stark clarity.

Other times, at its most joyful point, it was a gentle, uplifting energy that coiled around her. While it overwhelmed her and devoured her spirit, it fulfilled her with the feeling of being the other person, of being someone who wasn’t her.

The stranger offered none of that. Instead of feeling like him, she was acutely aware of herself and her emotions. As if he was a mirror. She hated the reflection reaching back.

 

 

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4 Years Later… Still Missing You, Mom

Time is one sneaky little bastard. It flies by, whooshing past and spinning us around, blurring some things while making other things annoyingly clear.

As I’m writing this, it’s 5am and I should be in bed, but I’m not. I was just posting a reply to a blog post when it hit me:

It’s June 30 tomorrow. June freaking 30th.

And this year, it’ll be 4 years without my mother gracing our lives.

It fucking sucks.

 

So, This Thing Happened…

At this time four years ago, my partner and I were excited. We’d made plans to take a train into Toronto on June 30 to see Johnny Clegg, a wonderful musician from South Africa that my partner loves. His music has been part of her life since her childhood years in South Africa, and it was the first time she’d had the chance to see him in a long time. The concert was free, part of Toronto’s Canada Day celebrations. We had the train tickets. We had the thrill. We were committed.

Fast forward to the middle of the night. We’re asleep. I have a strange dream that ends in a bright white light and something unusual I can’t put my finger on…

The cell phone goes off. It’s my family. I hear what my brother’s saying, but it doesn’t make sense. I’m praying he doesn’t mean what I think he means. I ask him to put his girlfriend on. I ask her straight out if my mother’s dead.

There’s silence, a hesitant pause.

Yes.

My mother’s dead. She went in her sleep. In her bed, right beside my dad. He heard her last breath or death rattle or whatever you want to call it. And he did everything he could — all the CPR he could — but she was gone.

I’ve never screamed over the phone like I did right then.

I went into shock. Freaked out. Cried and cried. I promised my dad we’d be there that afternoon. We’d take the train tickets we had into Toronto already and use them. Then we’d buy tickets for the other train that went into town and be there, at the house.

There were a few quick emails to people I was working with. We packed what we needed, mostly while on autopilot. I think we went on a walk around the neighbourhood just after dawn, crying and sniffling.

I spent the first train ride crying silently, wiping away tears, cursing the child in the seat across from me as he babbled  and his parents went on with their lives. Couldn’t they see I was hurting? Couldn’t they just go away and leave me the fuck alone? Why did we have to end up sitting in those group seats instead of the regular ones? I just wanted to sit with my partner with no one else watching, crying for my mommy.

I cried in Union Station, waiting for the next train. People stared at me, but I just kept crying. And my partner, she took care of things. She made sure we kept going.

I managed to hold it together the next train ride. When we got to the station, my brother and his best friend were there. I hugged them hard, but not as hard as I hugged my dad the moment I got into the house. I dropped everything and just hugged him.

It was too much, especially after we’d lost one of Mom’s sisters the year before and her oldest brother a little before that.

That sister also died in her sleep. Their brother died from an aneurysm.

And a few months later after my mom passed, another one of my mom’s sisters died. In her sleep. On September 11. She was discovered by her husband, my uncle, who is also my dad’s brother. She was supposed to be at work but never made it. Both sides of our family took another hit.

Time. It fucking sucks.

 

All Those Things We Never See Coming

My mom had a rough day at work that last day of her life, but she’d ended it in such a normal way. She went to work; she came home. She went to dinner with my dad and came home. She watched TV while dad was doing his thing on the computer. Then she went to bed and that was how she went out.

God, she was so down to earth.

She liked to crochet and make soft, beautiful baby blankets. She used to sew our Hallowe’en costumes and give trick-or-treaters grab bags stuffed so full with goodies the bags had to be stapled — and gave up her time to hand out those Hallowe’en bags even though it was her birthday. She made the gown I wore to my grade 8 graduation and another gown the first time I went to prom. She made mouth-watering Sunday dinners and taught me how cook and bake. She loved to shop and laugh and smile. She got teary-eyed that one Mother’s Day when I snuck into the house without her suspecting that I’d visit — only hoped. And she worked damn hard, always doing something, always detailed, always intent on doing it right the first time.

We didn’t see her last day coming. Yes, she’d had a problem with her heart the year before — something about her chest filling with fluid and damaging part of the heart — but the doctor had said she was improving. My parents had changed her eating habits. They watched her salt intake. She was taking her pills. But she was on the mend, we were told.

She was on the mend.

But suddenly she was gone, and it hurt. I’ve seen my dad a bit teary eyed before when his step-father died, but I’ve never seen him cry. Not like this. Sitting in the funeral home killed all of us, every word shredding a little more of our hearts, but we got through it. Somehow I found my calm side and kept it together during that meeting, helping to sort out Mom’s obituary and the flowers and the coffin and all that stuff I didn’t know how to do. When dad couldn’t form words, I did my best to find them. And my paternal grandmother, she was strength and love and understanding the whole time. She’s a widow, so she got it, but she’s a mother, too. She knew what her boy needed. She knew what we all needed. (She was as amazing as my maternal grandmother, who’s also a widow and had lost 3 children by that point amidst other tragedies — yet she still carried on. Everything that happened around this time reminded me of why both grandmothers are my heroes. Their lives have been tough, but they’ve pushed back and raised their families to be just as determined.)

We made it through the visitation.

We made it through the funeral.

Somehow, I managed to deliver the eulogy even though I hate public speaking. But for Mom, I did it. I wrote my heart out for her, just like I am now. I was 29 years old, but I wasn’t ready to be without her.

I never got to say goodbye.

The best I had was waving at her from the stairwell in a train station two weeks before she died. When I thought we had time. When I thought she’d see my partner and I get married once we finally got the money for the wedding we wanted. When I thought she’d see me in my first career-specific job.

When I thought she’d still be there.

She was my cheerleader. My first fan. One of my biggest supporters. She encouraged my writing. She fed my reading addiction, even when I was running out of places to put my books. When I was 12, I worked on my first novella. And when I was 14, wanting to be published, my mom helped me send that novella to publishers. She got the big manila envelopes and stamps and sent the submissions off. Then she was there when I got the rejection letters.

She never told me to stop working for it.

 

What To Do When Your World Falls Apart

I grieved so hard. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t even read a simple email. I’d read sentences over and over again, unable to comprehend anything. I hated everything. It was like living in a snow globe, where the rest of my life was hidden behind a blinding, suffocating cloud.

On top of it, there were other deaths that compounded my grief. Two weeks before Mom died, there was the loss of three individuals in a project I’d been working on, trying to get those individuals sent to a better home. Then my aunt passed in September. I couldn’t take it. I was fucking useless.

But then I sat down and wrote a few words of a fantasy novel I’d started during my early years in university. Then I wrote a few more words. They came so easily, so I didn’t stop. I’d put that project aside for so long — I had to in order to concentrate on my Zoology/science degree, especially when I worked security, volunteered, and had a partner at the same time. But then I went back to school after that degree for a post-grad program, and the writing didn’t go anywhere that fast.

Until grief shredded me apart, tearing me down until all that was left was a storyteller.

So I wrote. Considering the novel was an epic fantasy in a series that’s incredibly dark and much in the vein of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series, it was pretty therapeutic. Angst, anger, joy, romance, tears, pain, discovery, the fight for freedom, life, and love when the world is throwing shit at you. I worked a little on the other books in the series, too, including the death of a main character.

A mother.

Once I got that far, it was an inevitable slide into getting back into writing creatively. My subconscious changed priorities on me. Next thing I knew, my conscious was shifting things, too. I started walking away from the work I had been doing and ran towards writing, one of my first loves, along with animals and music. Writing has always been there, at my core, ever since my mom’s step-dad died when I was 6.

He died the same day I wrote my first story. And I didn’t know it until that night. I cried hard then, too.

So these words, strangely enough, are born from death as much as they’re born from life. It’s no wonder that when Mom left us, it was the only safe, sane place I could find refuge.

A year later, I decided to pursue writing for real. To put myself out there, publishers and rejection and all. Since then, being an author has topped my to do list. This is where the romance novels have come from, and why I’m so humbled and grateful to publishers like Less Than Three Press for giving my work a chance — for helping me pursue a dream I’d put aside. A dream that my mother supported and cheered for and never made me feel ashamed over. Writing has been my breath and thought and my soul reaching out into the universe to make sense of it.

 

 

But Mom, sweet Mom, you’re in every word. I hear your love in the silence.

And in every story is a piece of my broken heart saying “I love you” right back.

 

 

October 31, 1959 – June 30, 2012

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Cover Reveal & Preorder: Four (The Republic #2)

 

I’m stoked to be able to share this cover for Four, the second installment in my high fantasy, LGBTQA romance series, The Republic. I loved it the moment I saw it — it’s so completely perfect for the book, but I can’t say why (spoilers!). So here it is, with the warmest thanks to my favourite cover designer, Natasha Snow, and Less Than Three Press. They’re all so awesome.❤

FOUR COVER
Publication date: September 7, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, romance
Series: The Republic

On the outside, Mayr seems to have it all: a successful career as Head of the Guard for a prominent politician, family and friends who adore him, and the attention of beautiful women. But appearances are a good way to bury secrets, including the fact that while Mayr is a romantic at heart, searching for the one person to share his life with, his lovers keep leaving him.

When his last girlfriend takes him back and suggests an intimate night with Tash, one of her lovers, Mayr reluctantly agrees. The last thing he expects is to fall hard for Tash, who is nothing like Mayr’s previous lovers—and about to undertake the Uldana Trials. If Tash fails, he’ll likely die. If he succeeds, he must give up Mayr, and become the latest to leave Mayr standing alone with a broken heart.


Pre-order the eBook now from Less Than Three Press!

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30619748-four

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Enchanted Soles: Release Info & Pre-order Link! #bisexual♥ #fantasy #anthology

Enchanted Soles cover (small)

 

The Enchanted Soles anthology is almost here! The anthology contains five enchanted stories, all delving into adventures with magical footwear. Release date is July 6 and includes my novella, Heart, Lace, and Soul.

The eBook is available for pre-order from Less Than Three Press! Order now and they’ll have the file ready for you the night before it’s available to everyone else. ^_^

 

You can also find the book at these other retailers:

Amazon (print)

Barnes & Noble (print)

All Romance eBooks

Smashwords

 

And if you’re on Goodreads, the book can be added here.

 

 

Sometimes all it takes is the right pair of shoes…

In Three Nights (A.D. Truax), Synder buys a pair of sandals that have a mind and plan of their own, and drag him to a celebration to which he was not invited—and into the arms of a handsome prince.

Saidah of Dame Fortune (C. Finley) asks her beautiful new wishing boots to take her to her true love, but the simple question has a complicated answer that will take more than magic boots to find.

Heart, Lace, and Soul (Archer Kay Leah) brings together Elly, who seldom removes the psychic boots that let her read and feel the minds of other people in order to help them, and a man her boots cannot read.

In Aelfwear (Katey Hawthorne), Frida is hired to make hideous shoes for a beautiful woman who claims she’s out to cause misery for a man who once betrayed Frida’s family—but Frida fears she’ll wind up being played for a fool a second time.

And Into the Hollowed Veil (A.M. Valenza) is the story of a man who puts on a pair of beautiful red shoes and finds himself in a strange forest helping a beautiful woman rescue the man she loves…

 

** Enchanted Soles contains no explicit content. The story Heart, Lace, and Soul contains brief descriptions of depression and suicidal thoughts.

 

HLS Coming in 2016 poster

 

 

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