Wednesday, November 28, 2018

And Thus a Romantic Suspense Book Is Born – a Ten Part Series

The idea for a story hits me somewhere - anywhere, usually some place where my cell phone is missing and even an archaic pencil is nowhere to be found. Thrilled with the idea, I charge forward anyway. And from there the days roll out and  it could go like this...

Part One - The start of the story. What a brilliant idea. Love it.
Part Two – How the heck is that going to happen? That doesn’t make sense. What idiot came up with this? This is doomed. More coffee – much more!!
Part Three – Still no light – just one dark tunnel of going no-where. Obviously, it was a ridiculous idea and I need to think of something else.
Part Four – Can’t do this. It's going nowhere and my heroine, well – I love my hero and heroine, they love each other. It’s just this darn swampy plot that they can’t get out of. 
A reader with one of my books, in The Dead Sea.
Part Five – Maybe the characters need another complication to get things moving.
Part Six – Too much complication. They’re sinking. Everyone is doomed or already dead. There are few characters left and I’m guessing no happily ever after.
Part Seven – More coffee
Part Eight – Eureka – bells and whistles sound and I rise shrieking from my chair. The neighbors call for a curb on noise.
Part Nine – Coffee-fueled writing
Part Ten – The beauty of love rises over evil once again – I write - The end.

Now, everyone including me, can enjoy the story!

FYI - it was stories like this, where plot and writer randomly lost their way, that have dragged me reluctantly toward the fine idea of an outline!

Ryshia Kennie
..a world you never imagined!

On Twitter:  @ryshiakennie

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Price of Love

I was reminded the other day  of why I write romance. There is nothing better than that warm and fuzzy ending. You can kill as many people (bad guys, of course) as you like but in the end, everything is going to work out for your couple. They'll find each other and they'll find love. And - they'll be happy from then to eternity. It's the one guarantee, happy ever after.
My MIL and I

I was telling my MIL that as we walked in the remnants of good fall weather, and the last of the leaves hung tenaciously on. She's one of my best listeners and sounding boards when it comes to my books. While she struggles with her memory, when it comes to the dilemmas of fiction writing, she's on it. I can always count on at least one piece of sage advice.

Back to: love and the guaranteed happily ever after. In life, that's unfortunately, not quite how it works. I don't often think about that as the majority of my stories never face that reality. But a chance meeting this fall reminded me of all that and then some. It was as haunting as the story highlighted by the theme music of this long ago movie - Love Story...

And so, the story goes:

It was a beautiful fall day so I took my mother in law for a walk and to a nearby craft sale.  At one of the tables, a small man stood in a dull shirt that I imagined was as elderly as he was. He carved pictures in wood. Not just any picture, but stories intricately crafted and moments he explained of life that he'd seen or experienced. After what looking over his work and listening to what I thought was his story, I was ready to move on but my MIL likes to chat. And she'll keep asking questions as long as someone is willing to answer them. Soon I knew a little too much about the artist's life. And it was then that the story took a turn that none of us could escape from. He began telling us about his dog that had been his wife's. The dog hadn't liked him until his wife died. On that day, the dog moved from the foot of the bed to his wife's side of the bed. And he looked so lost when he said now it was just him and the dog. But, the saddest bit was that today was their sixtieth wedding anniversary. He said he just had to get out and so here he was at the craft sale, selling his goods.
My happily ever after took the pic.

I wished I could rewrite his story and give him the happily ever after I'm sure he deserved. And then I realized that he'd had his happy ever after. He'd had his love. Now, he was standing alone on the pier with all his memories behind him and a stretch of life ahead that he needed to navigate alone. That harsh fact is the price of love. I see it every day, my MIL is a widow and my mother is a widow too. But that day it really hit home.

And on the way home, my MIL only reminded me of that pier as she told me how much she missed her own husband.  I'd known that, but today just brought everything home.

I'd never thought so clearly of the price of love before.

We all have our stories. Some of us have love, some had, and some may still be waiting.  In my stories they lose and they love and they lose only to win in the end. That's not always how life works but in those stories, for a few hours we twist it to make it all that we dream of.

A disclaimer - while this happened a few weeks ago - life and a book got in the way. But that book is now off and another is stirring. In the meantime, snow arrived, yes in November and even before that. But I'm posting this anyway. This was what mid-October looked like in Saskatchewan.

Ryshia Kennie
..a world you never imagined!

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The Dead Sea and a whole other  story!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

One Hundred Years - So Much to Remember

At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the First World War officially came to an end. 
Since then, the poppy became the symbol of remembrance in many countries. That was the result of a poem written by a Canadian Artillery, field-surgeon. If you can even begin to imagine, he wrote the poem in the midst of battle in 1915. Now one hundred years since that war ended, the poem lives on.

So today I'll leave you with your own thoughts and the poem that couldn't say any of it any better.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, saw dawn, felt sunset glow
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you with failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

by: John McCrae

Ryshia Kennie

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Life Happens - Keep Writing!

Waiting for surgery to finish.
So Ma D, my MIL, has been in a care home for most of the year. Things were chugging along fine until the beginning of July when her stomach became bloated and she felt sick. A trip to the doctor led to a trip to the emergency room. We arrived at three o'clock in the afternoon on a Saturday, to find out emergency meant a four hour wait, unless you're bleeding out. And, that's just to be assigned a bed. By the time the exam and tests were done and it was clear that this was at least an overnight stay, it was almost morning. Hospitals are not great for small children - there's one crying down the hall because of the threat of a needle. I feel bad for his fear but it's not so great at this end of the hall either. Emergency rooms are not good for confused elderly either. She's upset and I don't blame her. We can't leave until she's settled. Three thirty in the morning and she's finally sleeping. We sneak home for a few hours sleep and are back by 8:00 a.m. By noon we have the grim news - surgery. Nothing major but when you're elderly, every surgery can be major. Gall bladder needs to come out.

Four hours before surgery - I step out of her room for less than a minute and on my return there are crumbs on her gown. "What did you eat," I ask waiting for the worst.
"A cookie," she says with a smile.
I'm thinking, trying to figure out where she might have gotten a cookie and then I see the offending purse that goes everywhere with her. There's nothing much in it but apparently there was a cookie. Fortunately, after I fessed up to the surgeon, the surgery was still a go.

And so a week in the hospital, a week of days by her bedside and she's finally sent home - looking fine with a drain.

The drain. I know it's going to be a problem and less than a week later it is. She pulls it out. Although, that's not quite the story. We figure out later that she's clipped it neatly off, leaving a hunk of plastic still inside. Back at the emergency there's no indication that anything is still inside. Maybe infection and a round of antibiotics and another overnighter, will fix the problem we're told. It does for a few days. But the pain comes back - two more visits to the emergency, one by ambulance, and a second admission uncovers the culprit causing the  severe abdominal pain that comes and goes and for some reason, can't be easily detected. But the hunk of plastic roaming around her abdomen is finally caught. Now another surgery to remove it. Yes, sigh - this has been the month of July. I know every corner of the hospital, where to go to read quietly, where to find the best coffee, where to get a bit of fresh air - and... where to pull out a pen and paper and get writing the old fashioned way.

As the surgeon gives the green light and authorizes discharge, I smile and look forward to putting our hospital days behind us. But the surgeon isn't done, he asks Ma D what she thinks about being discharged. And, her response surprises me as she answers with a big smile:

"I'm quite comfortable. Maybe tomorrow."

Some stuff, you just can't make up.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Day In The Sun

I love golfing although this summer I didn't get to do much of it but that's another story. This week made up for all that missed golfing when the CP Women's Open came to town. Added bonus, Canadian, Brooke Henderson, is among the favourites to win.

The event might be close to home, but getting there wasn't straight forward. No, spectators can't park at the golf course. Instead there are parking lots set up where you drive to and then hop on a school bus to take you to the rest of the way.

Our Canadian-hope-to-win, Brooke Henderson, was holding one of the leading positions - not first but close enough.  On Friday, it was still early days with two more days left in the tournament. She had some great shots and seemed not to notice the crowd that watch every shot as intently as if it were her last. It's amazing the discipline these golfers have. They're not distracted by the crowd of spectators, nor by the cameraman following them. It's them and that little white ball and nothing else matters. A lesson in discipline, for sure.

Note to writer - keyboard and paper is all that matters. Yet there are no crowds and still I can be so easily distracted. 

Beer samples from a pseudo golf bag out of this redone truck.
So, great day - glad we went.  It was an experience to be on the course, actually touching the rope that kept us off the fairway, being the one doing the clapping instead of some fan on television. My fingers are crossed that Brooke will pull off a win. There's a lot of Canadians cheering her on.

Hours later and we're back on the school bus. This time our volunteer driver is looking not at all like one might expect of a bus driver. She's wearing a cheery sundress, a brilliant smile and a pony tail - and greets us all as we enter the bus that is rocking with music that I'm not unfamiliar with - I've heard it in another era. DH looks at me as the school bus lurches into motion, smiles and says "Rather appropriate. The last time we heard this we were riding one one of these to school."

Past meets present yet again. 


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Friday, August 3, 2018

One Week In A Care Home

I've blogged little this year. Time got away from me. Mainly because I was stuck in the mire of what else was happening in my life. I wasn't sure how to write about it or if I wanted to say anything at all. But what I've experienced this year and even last year, what's been creeping up slowly - was the return of dementia, Alzheimers, whatever you want to call it, into my life. Recently I decided that it's as much a part of my life as my writing is. It's time to fess up. After having lost my dad to this horrid disease I now face it with my mother in law.  Whether there was something that could have been done, less sugar, less stress or whether it was just a shitload of bad luck, it's crappy and there's nothing to be done to fix it, only manage it. Besides, Mum's not gone. We're figuring this thing out as we go along. And, there's still a whole lot of fun and laughter to be found. Crap happens and then we laugh. So let me share and tell you how the year began.

Ma D or Mum (my mother-in-law) moved into a care home shortly after the start of the year. This wasn't something she wanted to do or even believed she needed. In her mind she cooked for herself, cleaned her house and toodled around town in her little car. In reality, I had cooked the majority of her meals for over a year, chauffeured her to the majority of her appointments and with the rest of the family basically managed her life.  The car, well it sat in the garage with the keys tucked safely away. I'm not proud of the fact that we had to trick her into moving but it was the only way to keep her safe. When coffee was left on the burner for hours, when doors were left open in the midst of January on the prairie and with doors unlocked, and a friendly smile, she'd let anyone in - stranger or neighbour - it was time. So we began the arduous journey; wading through the options, readying her and her things for where she needed to go.

Mum fought through the early days of that first move in. It was tough for all of us but we'd found her the best place we could. Her own little suite where she could shut the door and call it her own, where staff checked on her and the meals are great. Except, problems came one after the other like a tsunami. Confusion at being moved doubled - a temporary occurrence thank goodness but one that had to be dealt with. So, week one I moved in for a few days to lend her the support it was clear she so desperately needed.

Day 1 in a Care Home
After a day of convincing her that this is her new home, after facing more failure than success - watching the 2018 Olympics seem to make everything right. But, night brings other troubles. Staff check on their latest resident throughout the night and each time she pops up on cue. On my end, the couch I sleep on is too short, even for me. It is too slippery too. The pillows shoot out from under my head and launch across the room. I just get them back in place when a sound has Mum sitting up in confusion. Settled once again and then it's the sheets that the staff so kindly lend me - they slip every time I move. So when Mum sits bolt upright in bed with a question as to where she is, the sheet slips off the couch as I sit up to answer every time, all half dozen times that she awakes through the night. I hunt down those pillows and remake that makeshift bed again - and again and... Morning takes a long time coming and finds me pre-breakfast sitting in a chair in the hallway wondering at six a.m. if the day that has only begun would ever end or if Mum will ever accept this place as home. It's the latter that has me worried. But Mum cheers up right after breakfast is served. Now, it is only the night that I dread. On the upside, the meals are great here and later in the day, for the first time ever, I actually enjoy pineapple on my pizza.

Day 2 in a Care Home
Mum's been the financial head of the household that once included the family farm, and she won't be fooled. So, when light is flooding under her door at midnight, she's concerned about what this might cost her. The issue comes up every hour on the hour through the night. I finally convince her that it is the hall light and the fact that the woman across the corridor has her light on and the door open. But, she's yet to believe that she's not going to be charged for the excessive use of power. And the next day, my short escape home for supper is interrupted as the care home calls - Mum is insisting on leaving and they fear they don't have the manpower to stop her.

I would laugh if it weren't so tragic. Mum used to be tall and strong. Now she is slightly shorter than me and when I take her hands in mine, she can't pull free. But she still gives the illusion of strength and her determination is legendary. So the night begins early as I head back to the home only to find Mum settled in her room with one of those fabulous staff members having taken charge and convincing her, for now, that this is home.

We go to bed early for I know the worst will come in the early hours of the morning starting from midnight on and there'll be no sleep after that. I'm sad as I tuck in those slippery sheets on that slick sofa thinking what has happened, how Mum's life has changed. But there's no choice, we need her safe.

Day 3 and 4 in a Care Home
The staff can make or break a place. Here, with welcoming smiles they've made Mum feel precariously comfortable. And, they make sure we're all watered, fed and happy, yes, even me who is planning an exit strategy soon. Meantime, I've stuffed a notepad and a pen in my overnight bag, just in case I have an idea or two for a story. Instead Mum believes it's time to go home and won't be convinced otherwise. I strike gold with the piano in the lounge and we both give it a go. It's the best therapy ever. Mum is a fabulous piano player - she can wing pretty near any piece with a combination of reading the music and playing by ear.

Fast forward a few months and we're celebrating Mother's Day. Except mum doesn't feel much like celebrating. We're playing bingo and she wants nothing to do with it. She shoves the bingo card at me
repeatedly and gets crankier each time she does it. I'm guessing she fears she may have forgotten how to play and doesn't want to embarrass herself. So I take charge of the card and gamely play. However, I miss one key fact - it's blackout bingo. So when I call bingo and they bring over the prize, the laughs on me when we realize that there is no win. On the upside, my embarrassment was worth Mum's smile.

And the journey goes on...


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Thursday, January 11, 2018

It's Never Too Late

It's never too late for a New Year's resolution.  It's 2018 - hard to believe, where did 2017 go?  Coming off the chocolate fuelled holiday season I've finally sat down to make some resolutions.  That's something I've done in past years but not well.  None made it to the next new year.  This time I'm changing things up.  I waited until the holiday season was over, until  today actually, mid-January, to begin it all.

Back in November  of 2017 James Atkinson asked me to review his latest book.  While I've reviewed his books before, and they are all great fitness guides, this book really resonated with me as one of my resolutions is to get fit.  While I don't need to lose weight I sure could use some muscle.  So recently, I've been trolling gyms and deciding where to join and feeling decidedly like a fish out of water.  So I picked up the book I'd so recently reviewed, Health & Fitness Tips That Will Change Your Life and found the section on those first ventures into a gym.   The book is an easy read - easy to follow.  It leads you from the beginning through the dark days of motivation to finding your fitness zone and keeping at it.

My favourite part of this book is not only does it touch on mindset, diet and fitness, James provides a 25 step guide (yes, there's a reason for the 25 steps) that you can begin now and work through 2018.     

Here's my review of "Health & Fitness Tips that Will Change Your Life"

“A healthy mind starts with a healthy body: a healthy body promotes a healthy mind.”
The author gets into the heart of body/mind and how the discipline to mold a healthy body also includes forging a healthy mind and attitude toward life. While enforcing the tie between mental and physical health there are tips to strengthening motivation to reach fitness goals. With the addition of a free exercise guide this book makes getting fit seem doable.

It's written for the every-day person trying to get fit and/or drop a few pounds. Implement a change every two weeks using a 25 step program that runs over the course of a year. It begins with something as simple as walking before breakfast in the morning. Simple - doable. A routine complete with motivation that’s easy to follow."

Check out James's website here.  You can't help but get motivated!


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