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Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

I have so many things to be grateful for this year. It’s hard to believe how long this list is.

Fired
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My job was terminated. That doesn’t sound great but it opened up many possibilities. It enabled me to step aside and look at my career. I determined the types of tasks I really like doing, the type of role I like playing, and create a plan for the future. I’m also grateful to my former employer for setting me up with a career services agency so that I could get my resume together, polish my interview skills and network like a pro.

Montreal Map
Image courtesy of Tuomas_Lehtinen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Without a job in Toronto, I had very little reason to stay there. So I moved back to Montreal where most of my family and friends are. I’m grateful for my friends and family and, especially, my mom for taking my daughter and me in until I find a job.

Writing wise, I’m grateful to be working on my next book, the third novel in The True Hearts Series, which I plan to release by the end of this year. I’m encouraged by the success of the first two in the series. The Indie Editors of Kirkus Reviews magazine featured a review of my first novel Masks in the February 15 2018 issue. And the second book Secrets received an Honorable Mention under General Fiction from the 2017 London Book Festival.

Happy Turkey Day!

chicken close up dish food
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

What are you grateful for most this year? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

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Hoarding In Secrets

Secrets - eBookIn Secrets, Ron Pearl, Diana Rainville’s love interest, is a hoarder. In the story, the death of his mother and Diana’s support lead him to clean his basement. That seems miraculous, doesn’t it? Even Hollywood. But it’s not so farfetched. Alcoholics who fall in love often note that they drink less when they start a relationship.  The abuse victim feels strong and powerful. Depressed people are happy. Research shows that falling in love does cause a high due to a change in brain chemistry. Some research suggests the rush is Mother Nature’s way of making sure we bond so that eventually we reproduce. But that feeling of euphoria doesn’t last forever.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what happens to Ron’s hoarding after Ron and Diana have been a couple for a few months? The only thing that can happen. It returns in full force. As much as love can heal all wounds, only self-love can heal them directly. The loving people can help the healing by being supportive, accepting, respectful, open-minded, encouraging, by listening and by empathizing. So how can hoarding become part of Ron’s past?

Heartbroken
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the story, Ron seemed so in control and confident, but he was far from it. His parents fought all the time. He couldn’t stop his father from leaving when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He couldn’t stop his mother’s cancer or her death. He can’t get an education due to the medical bills and his career is chosen for him. He hangs on to garbage like a security blanket. It’s his way of dealing with his emotions. He gets a high from finding things he could use although he doesn’t use them. He collects them in his bedroom and his basement.

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Image courtesy of thephotoholic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When his mother talks about counselling, he doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s been to counselling and he does clear the basement so he is cognizant of the problem. But denial is a big problem for many hoarders. It is a life threatening disease. The only reason the hoarding hasn’t taken over in the story is because of his mother’s presence. But his room has no space and neither has the basement. If allowed, he will eventually fill the entire house. Eventually becoming unhealthy and unsafe for himself and his neighbors.

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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether hoarding comes from collecting trash or buying too much, it’s a ritual which creates excitement. It’s also unusual for hoarders to share with others. And it’s not surprising that Ron didn’t need to think twice about dumpster diving alone when Diana wanted to leave. He just let her go without blinking. It is not an addiction although it can be associated with addiction and other mental health issues, nor is it an obsessive compulsive disorder although it can coexist.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The only cure is to stop and deal with the emotions that are causing the hoarding. To learn more about hoarding, check out these resources:

www.hoarding.ca

https://www.helpforhoarders.co.uk/resources/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20356056

What do you do when you are avoiding emotions? What do you do to accept those emotions? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

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Mixing Tourism With Learning in New York City

I spent last week in New York City with my family. We played tourist together for four days. Despite the crazy heat and high humidity, we managed to grab the hop-on hop-off bus to tour Manhattan. Then, we got the bird’s eye view from the Empire State Building.

View from Empire State Building

Restaurants were quite expensive, but we did find a grocery store a few blocks away from our hotel and we’re able to eat more affordably. Thank you Morton Williams Food Market.

Capture

We boarded a ferry and admired the State of Liberty from all sides. Until we approached the island from the boat ourselves, it had never occurred to me what a combination of fear, excitement and relief newcomers must have felt when they first saw her.

Statue Of Liberty

We sweated our way through some of Central Park, visited the impressive Cathedral of St John the Divine and admired the architecture of the buildings facing the Park.

Central ParkSt. JohnArchitecture

Of course, we had to grab red velvet and chocolate cake from Magnolia Bakery.

Bakery

And it wasn’t enough to see Times Square during the day time, so we went back in the evening. Interestingly, there’s so much digital advertisement that you can’t tell that it’s night time.

My touring time ended on Thursday night. I’ll have to go back because I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to. Plus, there are still so many libraries and museums to visit.

Friday morning, I joined my fellow writers. Writers tend to write alone. Maybe that’s why most of us are so social. We join associations, attend workshops, network at conferences and support each other online.  And why not? We write to share our knowledge through non-fiction, our experiences through memoir, or our stories through fiction and poetry.  We are people of the world. I love to meet new people, explore new places, and learn new things. Who doesn’t? I’m sure there’s a little bit of a writer in everyone.

wdc18

The Writer’s Digest Annual Conference was great. I got to learn craft from Steven James, Jane K. Cleland, Whitney Davis, Jordan Rosenfeld, and Chuck Wendig. I also took some genre workshops and discovered some great speakers like Gabriela Pereira, Kim Van Alkemade, and Rachael Herron. Any writer will tell you that you need to know the business of writing as much as the art of it. So I sat in on lectures by Jennifer S. Wilkov and Carol Van Den Hende. If you think that’s enough, it’s not! I made some new friends: Gail Nastacia, Marti Mattia, Patricia Powell and Silas Archambault. Overall, the conference helped me grow as a writer and charge my writing batteries.

Time to work on novel number three.

Number 3

Is there an event in your field that focuses and energizes you? Tell me about it. I love to hear from you.

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Ready To Publish the Next Novel

The last modified date on my manuscript Stay was 2014. I was shocked when I saw that today. Three years have passed since the manuscript was professionally edited. Since then, I struggled with insecurities and also with illness. I sold my condo and moved. I switched jobs twice. I became a certified fitness instructor. I went back to university for a few writing classes. I made a small effort to find an agent. I wrote another novel and started a fourth and decided on the plot for a fifth. But mostly, I grew up.

During these three years, I would get upset thinking about how Stay sat on my computer ready for publishing, then I’d forget about it for while, and start the cycle all over again. But I’ve changed. And in the last few months, I understood that I’d get to publishing it when I was ready. I guess I’m ready now because I’ve been reading Joanna Penn’s blog, Creative Penn and downloaded one of her books. If you’ve never read her blog, she’s definitely worth the read. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve also organized myself based on her suggestions.

A couple of summer’s ago, I read a series by Erin McCarthy called True Believers. I was intrigued by some of the similarities between our stories. The friendships, the boyfriends, the parents and the one word titles. Later, I read a post about series and titling a series around a theme. It’s nothing new or earth moving but it did get me thinking about how to unify the Masks series. I still don’t have a title for the series but I did change Stay to Secrets. A major theme throughout the series is the hidden, unspoken parts of life and finding the courage to confront them.

I looked up some of the cover designer recommendations from Joanna Penn and chose a company. Last night, I went to the bookstore and found an 18 year old girl (Just the perfect age!) and asked which types of book covers she preferred. She liked the drawn covers, not the pictures. Unfortunately, she was the only girl there. One is not exactly a recommended sample size so I’ll have to keep up the survey. I’ve noticed that most of the young adult book covers either picture people or are drawn people or scenes. There are very few with only a title. So, I’m thinking as long as it’s not a title on a coloured background I can’t go wrong.

During the week, I wrote the back cover blurb. Today, I priced out professional reviews and found a proofreader.

So maybe, I’m ready to publish another novel, huh?

What bloggers and writers are your mentors? Leave me a comment. I love to hear from you.