Friday, 26 July 2013

The Bitches Are Back

A few years ago, I was contracted for a book based on a partial. I accepted, and started writing. Halfway through the process, a family tragedy took hold and I struggled to finish the book on time. But I did.

The publisher took it on good faith, and did their best to promote it, but it wasn't quite the kind of book they were marketing. It was an erotic romance publisher, and my book seemed more like spicy women's fiction than the hotsy-totsy stuff they were churning out.
So it languished. And languished. I wasn't thrilled with the final product, and finally asked for the rights back. They gracefully complied, and Musa Publishing decided to take my girls on and re-release them with a new cover and fresh edits. Today is The Bitches' new debut.
The Toast Bitches is about Four women who negotiate the narrows of friendship, marriage, motherhood, divorce and new love... until one man forces them to reveal their inner Bitch.

Hana, Paige, Connie and Pepper form a bond at Dempster Media, gathering in the break room for tea and toast. Later, they add a new venue - Paige's cabin in the woods.

Hana develops an easy friendship with Michael Preston, the company's dynamic CEO, but she really has her eye on hot editor Adam Wylde.

Connie's tastes run toward spectacular shoes and opera. Her jealous husband prefers NASCAR and hurtin' songs. When he leaves her for another woman, she hesitantly dips her manicured toes into single life, with the help of her fellow Bitches.

Pepper is the firecracker, careening from domestic drudgery to freedom, much to the chagrin of her friends. She seeks adventure and spice, but did she really need it after all?

Paige is the oldest - the mother hen, dispensing snippets of wisdom like herbs on a salad. Her life seems perfect, but not everything is as it seems.

When Adam finally asks Hana to experiment with BDSM, she panics and calls off the relationship, setting off a chain of events that brings the four women closer than ever.

The book is an e-book only, for now. In the fall, I hope to have print copies to use for promotions and signings. Please give my girls a second chance. I hope you like them.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Dear Chris...

I met you online, back when I was a baby writer. I can't remember whether it was on Miss Snark's blog, or Evil Editor's, or on one of the many writer blogs on which we made so many new and supportive friends.

You called yourself Church Lady back then, and your profile picture was of Dana Carvey's iconic SNL character. I loved that character, and your quirky sense of humour showed through that little avatar.

We crossed paths often while negotiating the winding and often looping road to publication. We exchanged ideas, jokes, emails. We read each other's work, and offered and received advice. You talked about your children, but took care to preserve their privacy.

Later, you dropped the Church Lady persona and changed your blog profile name to Chris Eldin. I followed suit by adding my author name to my Chumplet nickname. After all, we had to take our writing seriously, right?

You started Book Roast, a celebration of reading and the opportunity to showcase new books by new writers, myself included. That ran its course and ended in 2009.

You visited some of us, and promised to visit others. Some of us were lucky to meet you, and others never quite found the chance to get together with you. In retrospect, we sensed you were troubled.

Some offered help, some thought about it but didn't want to interfere. Eventually, you dropped out of sight. We thought about you, and Googled you, tried all your email accounts and received no response. We figured you were taking an Internet hiatus, gearing toward getting your writing out there.

Yesterday, in the midst of Canada Day celebrations, I received a Twitter notification, a follow-up from a similar Facebook message from one of our friends. Someone had found a news article about a woman who walked in front of a minivan on the I-95 in Maryland. She didn't survive. Suicide notes were found in her abandoned car.

They said it was you. I didn't believe them. I looked at the date. It was almost a year old, from August of 2012. I checked again. I looked for other sources.

It was true. You were gone, and we had no idea.

What forced you to take your own life? Fear? Depression? Loneliness? Desperation? We only had an inkling of what you were going through, but only in retrospect could we glue all the pieces together to get the whole story.

I raked through former blog posts and bits of flash fiction you had submitted. One line jumped out at me, "If you have nobody in your life to support you in times of crisis, you won’t survive."

Did you feel you had nobody, Chris? Did you not realize you had a host of friends who would give their souls to lift you from your despair? I wish you could have grasped the hand of one of us, who reached for you.

You slipped away.

Friends and family, if you suffer from depression, or feel that you are alone with your troubles, please reach out to someone. It might stick. I hope it sticks. If you sense that a friend or family member is desperate, listen. Listen.

Make it stick.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Happy Birthday Canada! And... to Bad Ice, too!

Update: The winner of the Canada Day Contest is Brian O'Rourke, who answered the questions on Twitter (in three parts!) since he couldn't comment on Blogger. Email me, Brian, with your mail address!

Today is Canada's Birthday. I expect the masses to march past my house tonight to take in the annual Newmarket fireworks at the end of my street. Maybe I'll go there, too, armed with bug spray, a blanket and my camera. This, when hockey ended only a couple of weeks ago! I already can't wait for next season.

Today also marks the fifth birthday of my hockey romantic suspense, Bad Ice. I've always been fond of this story, which kept me awake nights while I wove Jason's tragic past around his burgeoning relationship with Christina, while Sheila's jealousy threw a wrench in the works.

I have a single trade paperback copy of Bad Ice in my study. I'd love to celebrate Canada Day and Bad Ice's Birthday by sending the copy, personally signed, to somebody out there. International is okay.

Five years ago, I held a Canadian trivia contest for the e-book release. I'd like to do that again today with the paperback. You don't have to get all the answers right. In fact, humour (with a U) is welcome. After the fireworks tonight, I'll draw from the comments that answer the following questions.

Okay, let's drop the puck:

1. Give me a unique Canadian word. Example: Toboggan.
2. Who wore No. 99 in the National Hockey League?
3. Give me an alternate name for the Canadian Niagara Falls.
4. What Canadian was known as 'America's Sweetheart?"
5. Canada is a bilingual country, but what is the only official bilingual province?
6. What is the Canadian term for a sweetened carbonated beverage?
7. Name a Canadian invention.
8. What is the oldest walled city that still exists north of Mexico?
9. What is the Canadian word for sofa?
10. What is the alcohol content of typical Canadian beer?

I'll take answers until 10 p.m. Eastern tonight. Come on in, have a beer and a laugh. I'll drop in often. Good luck!