Saturday, January 28, 2017

The First Draft-How to do it in 16 days!

This is about that time I drafted a book in 16 days.  Does that sound crazy? It wasn't, it was actually easy. And to add to that, I finished the draft of a book I started Mid December before I started this one, and I took 2 weeks off for Christmas.

And neither are absolutely horrible drafts.

The book I just finished was a project I'm publishing myself simply because I want to get it out there, it's a fun book, a story to celebrate the 150th birthday of Canada and there isn't enough time to shop it out to publishers.  I'll do that with the next one.

Meanwhile, I know you writer types. You want to know one thing. How did I do it?

1. I set a goal of 1000 words per day, 5 days per week, 7000 per week.  The fact is the first 1000 words are the hardest. I started every day at 9 am knowing I had a block of three hours to complete 1000 words. That had to be done, and it was every day. Some days I struggled to get that many but I always did it but most days I did far more, usually between 3000 and 5000. I was slowed down only by the odd google to research something.

2. I did it nearly all in dialogue which is my weakness.  Now I get to improve my description in rewrites which is far easier for me. And of course, when I started reading I had some fairly good description in there anyway.

3. This is something that may have given me an edge.  I'm a really fast typist, 80 words a minute back when I was tested last. I didn't even learn to type until I was 25 but since that time, I've typed a helluva lot. And now, my typing is super fast.

4. I never gave up, even in the moments where I thought, this is awful, this is boring, this isn't going anywhere because I had only an idea. I didn't have a fully developed story.

5. I trusted the process.  Nearly two-thirds of the way into the story I had no clue where it was headed. I just kept going. Then, during a conversation with a friend about something totally unrelated it hit me. So I started writing out that idea and it all came together from that point. I did have to go back and insert some references to the thing that came to me, but that is how it goes. Still finished the draft.

6. I set the goal at 50,000 words as the finish, the book will be around 60,000 but that's fine. Getting to 50,000 meant novel-length and accomplishment. Realizing there were six more chapters required after I reached 50,000 was fine. If I could write thirty-six chapters, I could write six more right?

7. I just did it. I set a time to start, a time to finish and just do it.

8. I'm in rewrites, end of this week it should go to readers, then a week later off to editors. The minute this goes to editors, I'm starting another book.  Don't ever start writing. It must become the thing you do, no matter what. Great swathes of time without writing aren't what writers have. I hated even taking the weekends off but I am finding it does help with burnout.

9. There are no secrets. You want to write books, write them.

Many of you are thinking, yeah, but is it good? It can't be that good. Well, it's actually quite good, not Pulitzer prize good, but a really good, fun, quick-to-read book. And that was the goal so I've achieved it.

Write. Sit down, make the goals and write.  Excuses don't write books.  The photo above is just an inspiration, the cover is being designed by a very talented graphic artist and will be available for reveal soon.

Have a fantastic day everybody


Monday, January 9, 2017

Romance, Love & witing like a Fiend

That clipart above? That's the kind of muse I have lately.  My deadline for finishing the draft of the romance novel I'm working on is January this coming Friday, But me, in an epic marathon writing spree finished that sucker on Friday. I wrote over 15000 words, well beyond my goal.  I have set the manuscript aside and I'm now working on another book, a character-driven story that I'll have published before the summer. The goal is to finish the draft. I'm into Chapter four with 3500 words written this morning before noon.

Discipline is the key. At the moment I am now enjoying the time to work and so, work I am. At 9am I sit down every morning and write at least until noon with a goal of 1000 words.  If I do that I am satisfied that I have accomplished enough. There is some research happening simultaneously, locations to be researched and so forth but when there is just the dialogue I can zoom along at great speed.

I saw a tweet from a writer who said he was disappointed he had only reached 1000 words today when his goal was 3500.  That's backwards to me. Set 1000 as the goal, it's easy and achievable and delight in reaching it. When you're having a wonderful day, and hit 3500, which I most often do, you feel amazing. Trick your brain. Go ahead. It works.

Have a happy day!


Monday, January 2, 2017

Book Reviews; Then She Danced and Skinny Me!

And with a flip, the wall calendar is now glaring 2017 at me over my shoulder. I should really do something new, make some resolutions, restart life and so on. But I am just carrying on writing when I can and doing catch up on other things when I can't.

Today's catch up included writing two reviews for some books I've read recently. I'm trying to do that more because reviews are very important to authors.

To read the reviews or to purchase the books click on the links below. The second one is free right now on Amazon so get in there and grab it!  Might be a good one to read if you've got that "get fit in 2017 new years resolution" thing going on!

Then She Danced by Janis Godin

Skinny Me by Charlene Carr

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Process of Changing the Process.

When I wrote my first book it was a roller coaster ride.  I was so productive but nothing other than writing was ever accomplished.  For some time now I've been scared to death to get into that again, letting my life fall by the wayside as I write. For some reason I thought that was the process,  the only process that would work for me. So, I need a period of six months to do nothing but write. Now that I think about it that's crazy. I have children, a husband, other commitments.  Lately, however, I've been trying something completely different and it's working.

 I set a goal. 1000 words per day every day of the week, weekends if I can but without pressure.  Nothing comes before that and if I have to do a morning appointment, I'll do it and write later.  But I'm booking things around my "job" now after all, that's what people employed by others have to do. This is my work, I have to treat it as such.  I have allowed myself to not write on holidays and weekends because they're so challenging but I am trying to do it if I get up before the girls. Now a second thing has happened. I write, no matter if I'm stuck or not. In fact I've got four projects on the go, that are in different phases so that I have something to write. One is well underway and looks to be the first in line for completion, The other two are also romances that I work on as well

The fourth is a completely different sort of project, a short story collection needs research so I'll do the research at times when writing isn't so easy, it is just reading and taking notes after all, and promotion occurs in between times. So when I'm truly not able to do either. And it's working. I cannot remember when I've been more productive. Last week I wrote at least 20,000 words, on two of my projects, moving one into the midpoint that I always find so daunting, when things change and move forward, the part that causes me to lose focus because it requires some inspiration and focus.

The best part is that I'm living life. The house is semi-clean, I eat fairly regularly and things are not crazy and hectic from day and night marathon writing session.   After Christmas I plan to work full time but cutting myself some slack I've made the remainder of this year about working part-time, and 1000 words per day which morphs into thousands more once I get into the rhythm, is a good goal.

Today I broke the 5000 word mark and it's not even noon.  I've learned that I can do it if I choose.  And that four works in progress is fine.  Plus I still have the entire afternoon and evening to get some Christmas stuff done. No excerpts from either book yet but the photo above will give you an indication of the heat level of my latest project. It's going to singe your eyebrows and leave you wanting more...more of my romance stories or more of something else...wait and see... Romantically yours... C

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Hearts; A Christmas Romance Anthology!

Very Proud of this Project!

It is almost Christmas!  And this year we have a bit of snow here on our beautiful shores.  Our family is in a new home that is undergoing renovations, I am  just back from a long vacation-over three weeks away in Ontario and then Florida-and now I'm pumped up on Vitamin D and ready for the winter!  And I'm re-committing to my writing with a series of short stories to kick things off mid-winter!  But first, an anthology!

I want to let you all know about the above book, an anthology of Christmas Romance that I'm certain you will enjoy a great deal! Grab your beverage of choice, bundle under some blankets, turn on the tree lights, fire up the e-reader and enjoy some incredible escapism from some very fine authors.

Romance is a new genre for me but it is so fun! My story is called Seasons of Love and is an easy and quick escape into the lives of two people caught up in feelings that are not appropriate but oh so very real and strong.  Buy it on Amazon iTunes Books or Kobo for only $2.99 and please leave a review after you've panted through it! 

A bit about my story in the anthology.


Isolated on her little point of land in a tiny town, Donna is delighted when the house next door is sold. But when the very married William Gage arrives alone sparks fly as they figure out the boundaries of their properties and their friendship. Will she give in to temptation and sample some pre-Christmas treats before his wife arrives?

Also here is a  video excerpt from the story 

Win! Win! Win!

Also, subscribe to my email list by sending an email to carolynrparsons using the email address you want to use with the subject line "Subscribe to Carolyn R Parsons Books" and you will be entered to win a signed copy of The Secrets of Rare Moon Tickle, my first novel. The draw will be held January 1, 2017 and the winner will be announced here!

Ps. You won't receive a deluge of emails from me. Just updates from time to time and notifications of new published material!

Happy Holidays everyone;


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Come From Away~A Few Thoughts. (Spoiler Alert)

In a world where horror is often the predominant televised experience, where humans commit atrocities against humans for the flimsiest of excuses-a different religion, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, passion, revenge and general hate--and for this continent, our shared experience of on September eleventh 2001--it's easy to lose hope.  Horror can only be overshadowed by an extreme outpouring of bravery and compassion.

"Look for the helpers," I've read and that's where you find the means to pull yourself up out of the depths of despair for humanity and find hope.  The heroes, the regular people doing what they can for a traumatized people.

On September 11, 2001, Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, along with multiple communities in the region gave refuge to thousands of people from all over the world when American airspace shut down and a large number of planes were forced to land there.

Come From Away, a musical performance, seeks to tell the story of those days when "The Plane People" were here, awaiting permission to return home.

It succeeds by every measure.

From the first note it is a celebration of who we--Newfoundlanders--are as a people. Set to Newfoundland inspired music, the tales are spun, the poignant stories extracted from the true stories, merged but somehow made bigger while being condensed. These are nobody's stories and everybody's stories. The plane people shared theirs, the surrounding residents told of their experiences and they set the entire damned thing to music. And it's brilliant.

There is love, hate, fear, anger, racism, homophobia, feminism and a dogged determination on behalf of the locals to just fix this, to make it better, to ensure that all are taken care of, both human and animal.

It is such a fascinating thing to see your people through the eyes of others.

It is eye-opening to note that what to you is perfectly normal, is in fact perfectly remarkable.

"Go steal everybody's grill," the mayor of Appleton advises one CFA (Come From Away) when they decide to cook up the excess food and have a community gathering in Gander for residents and plane people. "They're gonna shoot me," he thinks. But of course, if you need all the barbecues in the town to use for a big town event, what community of Newfoundland wouldn't offer theirs up to whoever came knocking on the door? None. Ours in on the back porch...we'd help load it on the truck.  That's what you do. Here. It's Normal.

Apparently that's not normal in the big world and as such, normal is probably not something we should strive for.  There is nothing wrong with us. There is something wrong with "normal."

Normal is taking the plane people for a drink at the legion or a stop at the Tim Horton's or giving the RCMP the go ahead to clear the shelves of the Shoppers Drug Mart of whatever is needed in a state of emergency.   You know, ordinary things.  In other places you hear of looting during a State of Emergency, in Gander there was permission to loot.

I recall asking my daughter a few weeks into her new school here in Lewisporte about how it was going and what noticeable differences she had discovered between this school and her previous, fantastic school, in Ontario.

"Well," she said, "in that school, if I need a pencil and I told the teacher, somebody in my class would offer me a pencil. Here, if I needed a pencil, everybody would offer me a pencil."

And indeed I've seen it for myself.  When the Syrian crisis was at the forefront of the news and the government committed to bringing twenty five thousand people to Canada, this region offered to take ten families. They're all not here yet but some are. And some of those new Canadians were at the show last night. They enjoyed it very much and feel very proud to be new Newfoundlanders.

We, in this province, have a family dynamic going on. We row among ourselves, get right upstrapless at times, but when the chips are down we stick together, we celebrate together and we dare anyone come out against one of us because we'll all have that person's back. Loudly and soundly. We are family, a great big loving, giving, passionate family.

And we will pull together for the common good, every single person offering for everything they require. Put out a call and you will receive, if somebody is in need. Whether it be a pencil or seven thousand beds, they'll be provided immediately.

That's us.

And the show? Well I started weeping around the time they hit the second note. I started stomping my feet at the first. I laughed, cried, was shocked, was proud (over and over and over) and as the energy in the room built, the energy on stage grew. I probably wept most at the celebration of the social issues that were covered and was delighted that the entire place erupted in joy or sadness at those junctures as well.  I probably laughed loudest at the line, "Hi, I'm your Walmart greeter, would you like to come to my house for a shower?"

I walked out feeling blessed and grateful and thoroughly entertained. Blessed to be here. Grateful for all who brought the show to us and thoroughly entertained because that was a rock solid, energetic and absolutely incredible performance.

And after a run in Toronto, it's going to Broadway in February.

Broadway is lucky to have them.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Heartwarming Welcome to Canada

Some things are worth missing sleep for. Recently I drove to Gander and witnessed what Talal calls his "Miracle." After years of uncertainty after leaving their home country he is here now in Canada, along with his family, as permanent residents. I first became familiar with this family when a letter Talal wrote to the Prime Minister was read to GRO. We pledged at that time to do all we could to get the family to Gander and now that pledge has been fulfilled. It has been a pleasure getting to know Talal through Facebook this past year and we all look forward to getting to know the entire family now that they've arrived. I made this video of the arrival. Please excuse the amateur camera work. I don't use the video setting on my camera very often. < < <

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stories by a Cove Garden Girl

How winding the road is that takes you along in life. And yes the road is the driver and you are the passenger because you really have no control over outcomes, you only have control over your enjoyment level.

I've been distracted. For years.  I've found my way back however.  There are things to be written that have filled my brain while I spent (wasted?) my time doing other things.

I've found my way back and I've been working on some podcasts. Here is the first one..just a practice but something to share as I move back into my writing life. Stories by a Cove Garden Girl (That's me) will be some short stories about women in the history of Newfoundland. You'll note I never name the woman in this story. That's because I wanted her to be any woman or every woman. Most of the women of the time disappeared, a marker, a side bar on the life of the man. My goal is to make some of them breathe again. Perhaps this story is an attempt to make all of them breathe again.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve!

It is Christmas eve in the morning! 

I am here with my tree lights on and my coffee has a touch of Bailey's in it just has it has had every Christmas eve morning for numerous years. The girls are still asleep and the cats are curled asleep, Marble on the arm of the sofa to my left and Magic behind my head on the back of sofa. Robert Downey Jr is playing "River" one of my Christmas tunes, a sad and haunting song that reminds me that others aren't quite so fortunate. 

I'm thinking particularly of Kent's Uncle Alvin Gale who is in the hospital in St. John's. We'll miss visiting them this Christmas as well as his cousin Brian and family who'll be with his dad in St. John's. Christmas is an arbitrary day chosen to celebrate joy and peace but so many in this world have neither. The best we can do is give where we can, help however we're able to help bring better days for everyone. Not every Christmas is a happy one. In 1998 my father was celebrating his last one while very ill and he passed two short weeks later. 

Everybody is on a journey and while we mark a day as special, time has no markers or labels and the calendar we flip is irrelevant to its passing. As we go along on our journey we often, especially in sad times, seek the meaning and purpose. As far as I can tell the only purpose to life which is fragile and cruel at times is to be as happy as possible in any given moment and to share that joy with others and often all you need to give is a smile or a word of encouragement. Joy and laughter are contagious and if you feel it, it will spread. 

My heart is with the troubled but not troubled this year. My soul is with the joyless while filled with joy and my love surrounds the lonely because I've got so much to spare. I'm missing my girls in Ontario and my grandchildren. Hope they find lots of happiness in their Christmas presents tomorrow sent with love from Newfoundland. I wish you all peace and joy. Merry Christmas Eve 2015!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Corners-A long short story.

It’s a habit of mine, when the weather is fine, to walk out to the lighthouse.  I’m afraid of heights.  I get a squeamish feeling in my belly whenever I go there.  Yet, I do.  I walk along the rail and look out at the ocean.  That is all I plan until I’m compelled to do more.  And I’m always compelled to do more.  I have to see the Bell and I cannot see it from there. So I walk a little further.  My feet crunch and meld into the turf and my breath is quick from the activity and the anticipation. 

There is a high, narrow Island just off the main island that is a spectacular geological formation. I have never learned if Bell Island is named for that strange landmark that looks like a bell.  A few trees dot the top and then a rocky little area resembles a bell with a clapper.  I have asked locals. Nobody knows for sure and many say they didn’t even notice it there and are surprised by what I show them in the picture I have from my first visit.  But it’s a Bell and I think that can’t be coincidence. 

 After a few moments of looking at the mysterious bell, I am then drawn to see the swell and foam of the water at the base of that statuesque Island and inch closer. 

The fear is physical.  It is irrational.  It screams “don’t do it”.  But I’m drawn by a force in me stronger than fear. Curiosity.   I have never walked close to that cliff with anyone.   It’s not because I’m alone all the time though I am.  It’s because I’ve never been comfortable enough with another person to have them beside me as I near the edge. 

It never ever subsides, this phobia.  I face my fear frequently but it never goes away.   It just settles down and curls up for a nap, kind of like a cat, relaxed and comfortable but ready to hiss and scratch in an instant.   I have learned learn to live with it instead of from it.   Maybe it’s because I’m a cat person. 

I smile at my whimsy and then, when the time is perfect, I do perch at the edge, the dangerous part where I had no intention of sitting.  I am accompanied only by my notebook, a pen, my Blackberry and the ever present fear.  It is from that spot I do my best writing.  And it is from another, similar spot in my psyche that I do my best living. 

He is home.  The brisk wind blows at me forcing me to pull my windbreaker a little closer.  I tamp down my enemies of which expectation is the worse.  I used to expect it to be fun.  I always worked hard to make his visits home happy.  I expected him to do the same.  But after years, a decade to be exact, of not a single time having them met by him, I let them go. 

From the time when I had our first baby and it never crossed his mind to give me flowers or any symbol of respect for becoming the mother of his child I started to let them go.  Each time he got up from the table and didn’t say thank you for the meal I prepared.  Every time instead of a positive comment, I got a “joke” that made fun. 

I can take a joke, I can put myself down, but each whip of the tongue by a partner, if not tempered by appreciation and compliment at some point is a knife blade.  Not one that penetrates, sharp and quick like a switch blade, more like a dull butter knife scraped across the skin in the same spot time after time after time.  If you complain about each time, you have nothing to really complain about.  But if you add up a decade of such rakes across the skin you know it’s been cut deep and left scarring.  He hasn’t done anything wrong as a life partner really.  He’s just never done anything at all.  Except scrape my heart with a butter knife for ten years.

                “Mommy!”   Autumn’s blond hair curls around her head like a halo.  She is four and she is bonnie.  That’s the word I always think of when asked to describe her.   She bops when she walks.  She skips to me, a one legged kind of skip because she hasn’t learned the two legged kind.

                I reach out my arms and she jumps.  Light like fluff, I smell her indoor smell and her shampoo.  Dad had given her a bath she informs me.  Sis is reading and she missed me.  I missed her too.  I didn’t tell her that I needed to miss her because I’m burnt out from being the only parent for, well, ever.   An annoyed voice from the garage tells me the dog escaped.  If the blond child’s one-word description is bonnie, the dad’s one-word descriptor is annoyed.  I don’t answer.  I inhale my child’s essence and walk up the steps. 

The serene one smiles from behind her book and I love her like candies and cake and all things sweet right then.  Yes.  She is serene.  They have real names,  Autumn, Summer and he is Tyler.  That’s my family.  I could have called the babies Bonnie and Serene I suppose but I’m lucky their dad went for the whimsical names I did give them. He wanted Chloe or Zoe or something equally awful and trendy.  I won that battle at least.   It was the one time I actually insisted and got exactly what I wanted.  Perhaps I should have paid closer attention to that.  This was before of course.  Perhaps, if I had taken notice, been a little more that kind of woman instead of the kind of woman I really am, he’d pay attention. I simply can’t bring myself to force people to be who they aren’t.

                I don’t do corners.   Once my father in law complained that they had to let a cleaning lady go because she never did the corners.  She just cleaned the middle of the room.   I thought that was sort of petty.  Maybe she didn’t have time.  They had liked her.  She was trustworthy, she folded well and ironed and she dusted.  But she didn’t do corners so she was fired. 

 That’s me, I think as I flick the mop around the legs of the table.  I think a lot during housework.  It’s boring and mindless and I hate it but I do my best brain writing while doing them.  I do prefer the pen writing and often, in the middle of a chore I’ll stop mid job and run and type for an hour so I don’t lose the inspiration.  Is it any wonder I don’t get the house clean?

                Nope, I don’t do corners either.  Maybe if I was paid to do it I would.  It’s not that I don’t like a shiny clean house, it’s just that I never have time.  I do it half-assed between things I like doing.  Some might call that lazy.  I call it being happy.

My hair is tickling my face and I scratch it back quickly and continue with the mopping.  It’s the best I can do.  I have been at the Centre and I have written some poetry and updated the blog.  I have walked for exercise.  The kids are splashing in a long overdue bath and making noise in our only bathroom and my mind drifts to the latest escapade of Diane, the character in my book.    I’m running scenarios through my mind, trying to figure out if she would do this or that. 

Damn, the time!  I leave the mop in the bucket, against the wall, and run to the bathroom looking at my wrist.  There is steam behind the face of the watch.  Another one wrecked. Oh well.

”Quick kids, get out”.  They agree.   For a promise of cartoons.
I dry them off, then see that their hair still has some soap and I plop them back, run the shower quick over their heads and lift them out again.  They go from the room, wrapped in Justin Bieber towels to the television down the hall and with a sigh I hook the shower on its handle and strip my clothes off.

  The water sooths and irritates all at once because I don’t have time to bask in it.  I like to bask.  I grab my intuition razor and do some quick shaving as the conditioner detangles my hair.  I won’t have time to dry and straighten it before Tyler gets here.  Oh well, Tyler says he prefers it natural.  I sigh.  I like it straight so it’s not really a compliment.

                I hear the door open and slip and skid in my rush to get out.  He’s back and I’m not ready as usual.   My heart quickens in anticipation.  I realize that I missed him.  I never realize that any more until he gets home.   I get a towel around myself and figure after ten days he should be more excited to see me in a towel than have the house perfect. 

                He’s giggling with the girls a bit then I hear him admonish them for the wet footprints on the floor.  The kids stop giggling and Bonnie starts crying.  Already he’s annoyed.  I paste a smile and run my usual interference. 

                “It’s my fault, I needed to shower and didn’t get them dry.  I’m just finishing the floors anyway.”  I step around the corner and he looks at me, glancing with a grimace at the bucket of water. 

Then removes himself from the girls and gives me a quick kiss that I try to keep going but he pulls back and grabs the mop from the bucket and begins to clean the floor.  I shake it off.  I go to my little girls and quick kiss them and say let’s all go get dressed and ready together.  Their smiles melt me and we go have some fun and leave him alone as he prefers.  Jammies are on before the dinner I have made to welcome daddy home.
                Dinner gets no comment good or bad.  He cleans it up and then goes into the office to work on some paper work.  I get the kids upstairs and into bed.  Their hair is still wet so I braid it, ignoring the icky texture of the wet hair in my hands.  Instead I revel in the smell of them, clean and new from the bath.

                He will read the story and settle them as he always does when he’s home.  I let him know they’re in bed and I go to the basement.

                My world is online.  Sometimes I wonder how I would have survived without it.  Isolated on this island for the last 5 years, nobody really to relate to though I had a few friends in the town, it saved me from complete and utter despair many times.  Now I also had an iPod, and an iPad to play with.   My writing forums, my parenting forums and my Face Book friends spent more time with me than my life partner.
                “Hi.”  The little window pops open to the right of 3 other little windows that are open.
                “How do I get a copy of this book you wrote?”
                The little tingle of excitement is new.  I like it and my fingers pop the cursor in the box and reply instantly.
                “Hi, I have some here and I can send you one if you like?  I’ll sign it.”
                “Really?  That easy?
                “That easy.  Is it for you or a gift.” He has a wife, there is a picture of them together in his profile picture. 
                “For me.”
                “You like poetry ?J
                “I like your poetry.  I read it on your blog sometimes. J
                “Thank you J.  You’ll have to send me your address.”
                “How much is the book?  How do I pay?”
                The conversation moves to the details and I write the address on the envelope and place it with the others.  A signed book will be in there to mail before morning.  An email funds transfer is on its way to my bank account. 
                But I don’t say goodbye.  He’s very good looking, for one and for two, well, I don’t know. He’s somebody to talk to.  Somebody new.  Somebody male.
                “I was sorry to hear about George.  Shocked actually, I hadn’t even heard that he was sick.  He was very good friends with my brother when we were younger.”
                “It was hard.  Six years ago now.  Feels like yesterday.  I miss him.  We were very close.”
                “You’re younger?  How many years?”
                “Three.  He was my big brother.”
                “That’s why we don’t do know each other that well.  But I knew George.  He pretty much lived at the house in the summer, with my brother.”
                “What’s your brother’s name? “
                And so the small talk continues.  I’m curious about him.  He’s equally curious about me. 
My manuscript lies minimized in the corner as we get to know each other and then he tells me he has five sons including twins.  I tease him that he’s a “boy makin’ machine” and he “lol’s” at that.  

                I’m disappointed when he says good night but his wife has called him to bed and he has to go.  I see the little indicator shut off and know he’s gone and that’s when I realize I haven’t spoken to any of the others since we had started our conversation.  I pop them open and apologize to them all, one by one, and tell them I was selling books.  It’s the truth. 

                I wind up the conversations and shut the manuscript.  Tyler has been home for hours and we’ve barely spoken.  He is still in the office when I come upstairs, his light dim, he works in the dark.  Spreadsheets cover the screen and I tell him I’m going to bed.  He says he’ll be up in a minute.  

                The cool sheets lay on my skin and I wait.  My mind drifts to the conversation I’ve just had with the guy and his profile photo is behind my eyelids as I close my eyes to end the day, still alone.

 I don’t do corners. That is the second time to today that this thought crosses my mind.  It’s really not just about cleaning the floors.  It’s a commentary on my life.  I never my get to the edges, never get to be thorough.   I never complete anything but just sort of scrub around the middle of things. 

Tyler is always sick.  Wait.  That’s not exactly it.  Tyler is “sicker than thou”.  If I am tired, he is exhausted.  If I have a cold he’s dying with something.  If I have a back ache, he’s riddled with arthritic aches and pains.  I’m resentful too perhaps. 
Sicker than Thou is a strange thing.  I think he thinks he’s relating but what he’s really doing is invalidating my illness.  Luckily I don’t get ill often. 
                I once got my friend in the room and put him on speaker phone and started the conversation to prove what I meant.
Tyler:  Hi, how are you?
Me:  I think I’m getting a cold actually.
Tyler:  I’ve had a bad headache since I got up.  I can barely drive.
Me:  My back is sore too
Tyler: My back has been the worse it’s been since I had the surgery, all this week.  I have to start doing my stretches.
Me:  I have cramps too.
Tyler:  I had to go crap three times yesterday.  I can’t think of anything I ate but I had something going on.  I only had to go once this morning so far but it’s still early.
Me:  I think I’m getting a sty. (I’m making this up)
Tyler: What’s that?
Me: A little bump on the eyelid
Tyler:  My allergies have me going nuts.  I could scratch my eyes out.”
By this time my friend is rolling on the floor laughing and trying not to be heard.  I’m ready to pee my pants from having proven my point so I say a quick “I love you.” And hang up.

            I think Bonnie’s first day of school was when I started moving from us to me.  When we were plural I preferred it.  But after years of not feeling all that coupled I started just kind of becoming who I am.  I know I started cooking for me right after the second baby started kindergarten.  For years I had made the meals Tyler preferred when he was home.  My nature was to take care of him.  To make for him all that he desired. 

                But six solid years of parenting alone is enough.  I had breastfed each for three and a half years and tandem nursed them for a while even.  I made my parenting a full time career.   I have researched and I have learned and I have grown.  I have loved every bit and I am not resentful of it.  But I am quite willing to take the time that I am given to do what I need to do for me. 

If I ask Tyler if he liked his meal he’ll reply “good enough to make a bit of shit out of”.  That was not even funny once.  To save him the embarrassment of me telling him not to say that I stopped asking if he liked his food.

 The thing is, he is a good man.   He does for his family.  He provides  Tyler works in the oil fields in Alberta.  He is intelligent, liberal in his thoughts and open in his mind.  He’s wasted out west and we both know it.  He is not a bad person.  He is, as I’ve said before, annoyed.  He is also very sensitive.  He cries at the end of Extreme Makeover Home Edition every single time.  He just doesn’t care about me.  That’s what it feels like anyway.

                It was also about this time that I started writing.  I started creating work that was good enough to submit.  I became published.  I made little money but I loved it and I was building towards something.  So with that came less time to keep the house in its preferred pristine condition.  I managed somehow, to make it presentable before he came home but that was easy as he came home once every few weeks.  The writing kept me sane and with my youngest now in full time kindergarten, I wrote every day, even when Tyler was home. 

I put me first in food first. Then eventually  I started bit by bit to put me first in everything.  My writing came before my house cleaning.  My volunteer work came before the gardening.  My children came before all of those things but only in a healthy way.  I was never born to be a martyr and somehow, my Bonnie and Serene, they love me better for it.

                Tyler didn’t really notice my absence.  He did notice the messy house.  If he noticed the food he didn’t mention it.  He’s too good for that.  He’s quietly resentful, fighting is beneath him so we never fight.   I wish we did.  I’d murder baby sheep for some make up sex.

                “Saw Manny in town.” Tyler was starting conversation?
                “Aww..I miss him.  How did he look?  Family ok?”  I sighed a nostalgic sigh.
Manny grew up with us and had been one of my best friends.   He had been a loner, spending his time with telescopes and teachers and was teased a lot as a kid.  I’d been in University with him and he’d found his crowd there, the science geeks but had married a local girl, a pretty blond who has five years younger than us and controlled his every move.  Well that’s how it seemed, since he didn’t say more than hi, if that, when he saw me now.  She was always there and swiveled him away from his old crowd.  His family no longer lived on the island so he never came back anyway except to visit her family sometimes.  

“He’s great.  Looks like he’s doing well, working at some big government job.  No kids.  Lots of money, nice car. He’s not a nerd anymore.”  Tyler chuckled and I smiled. 

Yeah, Manny had been a nerd.  Skinny, awkward, smart and different, he had been teased mercilessly by the boys, including Tyler.  I had been his friend however, and loved to hang with him.  Perhaps because I was a nerd too and he was the only boy my parents knew I was safe with.  Manny just didn’t appeal to the girls.

“That’s good, I knew he’d do well.  Wish we could get together with them sometime, have dinner or something.”  But I knew it would never happen.  Not because of Cindy and her separating him from his teenage friends, but because of Tyler and his reluctance to set any time aside for anything but work.  We have no couple friends.   My brother is single and Tyler is an only child. 

I sneezed then.  My allergies acting up due to my bad habit of petting our dog that I’m allergic to. 

“I was sneezing last week.” There is no God Bless or gesundheit.  “I had a day where I swore I was getting a cold.  Headache, sneezing.  Nothing came of it but I’ll probably get one soon.  My immune system is probably down.”

“I’m not getting a cold, I petted the dog.  My ovaries are aching though.”  And I wait.
“I’m chafed, right at the groin area.  Bought some Gold Bond but it’s not helping.  Some bad.” 

I cover my mouth and fake a cough to cover my laugh.  Then I veer and start walking before the eruption.  It starts after six strides and doesn’t stop until I’m a hysterical mess, tears from my eyes.  Cannot wait to tell my friend about.             

It seems the fog will never lift, either in the city or in my heart.  I miss my children.  I miss having a man.  I miss being part of a couple.  Yet somehow not enough to entice me into thinking I’ve made a mistake.  It is grey and damp and I step into the lane where the breeze can’t find me.  I hesitate in front of the door under the little canopy. 
 I have two choices, sit in my little apartment and be alone with the loneliness or go and be with people and escape for a while.  I prefer the second.   I refuse to wallow.  I push the heavy door and step into the Duke.
                It’s familiar now.  And I am there at the right time.  There are tables.  I move towards a small one at the back and remove my jacket and scarf and get ready to slide in when I hear my name.
                I turn and the man is right there upon me.  It takes me a moment. 
His sullen is broken by a smile.  This is Manny.  Sullen but then he smiles and the contrast is like the sun breaking through the fog at the edge of the ocean.  More magnificent because it’s unexpected and once told him he needed to smile more.  He had smiled at that.
He feels warm in my embrace and his hands come around my back and I remember that perhaps this is the first time I’ve hugged him as a man.  It feels different and I pull back.  It’s been a long time.  Perhaps I don’t know him anymore.
“Wow, you’ve changed.” and this is a compliment and he smiles again and knows it.
“You have too.” And he doesn’t appear disappointed by the changes but who knows.  I’m much older, I’ve had kids, put on weight.  I’m confused as to why I care about that. This is Manny, one of my best friends and that’s all irrelevant to him.
“Do you have a moment to chat?”
He looks sort of thoughtful, as though he’s trying to decide something and then another smile. 
“I have a lot of moments.  In town for a conference tomorrow, just grabbing a bite to eat.” He has decided. 
“You don’t live here?”
“No we moved to Bay Robert’s a few years ago.  I work all over so I can live anywhere and Cindy wanted to be near her father.” 
We order Fish and Chips and a pint of Guinness each.  It is good to chat.  His blue eyes flash with intelligence as we catch up.  We are still friends.  We are still comfortable.  We are interested in each other and I remember now why we were such good friends.  The things we talk about are not what interested all of the other people in our circle.  We were different from them.  I assimilated.  He didn’t.  But we were alike otherwise.  I touch his hand once.   A familiar gesture. 
A second Guinness loosens me up.
“Cindy doesn’t let you see much of the old crowd uh?”  It’s always bothered me that she controlled him so much.
“What?  Nah,  we see Mack a lot.  And Stan and Sue often come by.”
“Really?  Well guess it’s me then.  I’ve invited for you both to come to dinner with Tyler and me.  Both of you several times and she always says she will but it never happens.” 
“Yeah?  She never told me.”  He avoids my eyes.
“Really? I have stopped inviting her.  She actually seems annoyed when I do.  I just thought it would be nice if all four of us could be friends.  Too late now with Tyler and I splitting.  Probably shouldn’t have brought it up.”  I shouldn’t have. 
“It’s…complicated.”  Manny looks at the beer and then looks at me..then the door as though he wonders if it would be rude to run.
“Complicated?  What? How complicated could dinner be?”  It’s not like Manny to be dramatic. 
“I can’t talk about it here, but it’s not that she controls me so much as she just doesn’t want me to see you.”  He again glances at the door. 
“Are you expecting somebody?” I glance at the door.
“No,” he chuckles, “I ‘m afraid I’ll get caught I guess.”
“Caught?  Doing what?”  Isn’t he even allowed at a bar?
“If somebody we know tells Cindy we have been here together, then there’ll be trouble.  I’ll get in trouble.”  He reaches out and takes my hand and I look at his face.  He’s telling me something and I’m dying to know what it is.  I’m not letting him go without knowing.
“Then come to my apartment.  We’ll talk, nobody will know and you can tell me what the hell it is you seem to want to tell me and relax about it instead of watching the door for spies all night.”
“That might get me in more trouble if she found out.” But he laughs and nods in agreement.
“Well, yeah but there is less chance.   We’ll have a glass of wine and you’ll spill.  Let’s go.”
My curiosity is piqued and I’m taking him back to my place.  We had a very close friendship and I want to know what this “thing” is that is keeping us from being friends. 
                He calls the waiter over and pays for both our dinners.  I protest and he insists.  Outside we are greeted by the smell of cigarette smoke lingering and the fog of the St John’s night wrapped around us.  It’s a ten minute stroll and we chat about people we know and people who have died and remember the time we built a camp in the woods behind his house.  But I’m dying to know what’s complicated.
                I unlock the apartment door and the Fizz greets me.  I throw off my coat and tell him to do the same.  Then I walk into the kitchen and pour two glasses of red wine from the bottle I opened last night. 
                The living room lights are still low when I hand him the glass.  He takes a sip.
                “Now, you’re gonna have to tell me why Cindy doesn’t like me.” I smile then.  “Doesn’t everybody love me?”  I joke and he doesn’t smile.
                Sullen Manny is back for a moment and he takes the wine glass from my hand.  He puts both on the table and reaches out with his right hand.  I am protesting him taking the wine and I’m in his arms.
                “This is why.” He breathes into my lips just before they touch mine and the shock of the situation melts under the sensuality of it.  He wants me.  He not only wants me, he has wanted me for a very long time.  He is desperate and nervous and pulls away but I’m not letting him get away with that.  I reach my hand up and hold him right where he is.  And that is his undoing.  It is mine as well.
                We don’t make it to the bedroom.  We are urgent.  He has been waiting a life time for me.  I have waited a lifetime for this.  This loving from a man who wants me.  He wants me.  He wants me.  It’s  a drum beat in my brain.  He wants me.  Rat at tat tat the tom tom beats this message in my skull and I match its rhythm with my body.  I have only ever wanted to be wanted.
                He is hot in me, hot on me, hot beside me.  His skin is smooth and rough in all the right places.  He is large and he satisfies me in every way.  I am lost in it.  In this time, this place, this man.  I love him, I have always loved him but this surprises me, excites me, this different love that you have for a man only because he loves you.
                He makes love as though this is his only chance.  And I make love back as though this my one chance not to disappoint.  The cat disappears.  The apartment disappears.  The world disappears.  I disappear.  But this man.  This beautiful man.  He is present and real and tangible and he never disappears.  
                “I’m sorry.”  His apology is weak.  He is not sullen now.  He is sad. 
                “Sorry?  I’m not.” 
                “No. That was really unexpected.  But sorry?  Not remotely.”  I wait.  He will explain now.  But now I know.  I listen anyway.  
                “Cindy and I were friends.  We were close friends.  Kind of like you and I were friends.  And I told her then.  I told her that I loved you.  That I had been in love with you forever.  I also told her there was nothing between us other than friendship.   She was ok with that while we were just friends.  Then she developed feelings for me.  And I cared for her.  She is also very pretty and I was flattered.  I never even had a girlfriend until Cindy.  She was my first.  And then she couldn’t deal with our friendship.  I tried to tell her that you weren’t interested in me but that just made her worse.  She said that if you were, then I’d be gone to you.  So I stayed away for her sake.  She would never have allowed us to be friends, she was too insecure.”
                “Insecure?  It seems she was right?”  I get up and take the wine.  I don’t dress.  I hadn’t suspected.  I had suspected some attraction, it seems men always are attracted but I hadn’t even seen Manny as a man then. 
                “Yeah, guess so.” Sullen came back then.
                “Don’t do that?”  He is feeling guilty now and I can’t take that. 
                “What?”  He has grabbed his pants.
                “Don’t put on your pants.  Leave them off.  If we’re gonna ruin this friendship with sex I want the full measure.”
                He pulls his pants back off.  And he smiles.  I remember then that when we were kids I used to do all sorts of things to make Manny smile.  It was like a challenge to me.  I think I honed my wit on him and I fall back into that easily.  Yeah.  I would do anything to see him smile.
                “We have one night.  We’ve already done the damage.  Let’s enjoy what we have ok?  I’m here, you’re here.  We have wine and music..wait..where is the music?  We need music.  I know exactly which song to play!”
                I flick through the iPod as he drains his glass.  I tell him to go refill and he drains the bottle.  I find the song. 
                “Babe, I love you so, and I, I want you to know, that I, I’m gonna miss your love, the minute you walk out that door”  KC and the Sunshine band drifts through.
                “Ha!” his laugh is music and he moves to me, pulling me close in an embrace.  We sway together to it, its meaning so much more poignant now. 
                “I meant every word of this song at grad.” He says.  He sings along to me as he did so many years before.  We had always danced the last dance together.  This had always been the last dance.
                “I didn’t know.” But I mean every word of it now and I breathe it back to this man who has always wanted me.
                “Please don’t go, please don’t.”
                The next morning, in spite of all of KC and the Sunshine Band’s begging, he goes.  He has a conference and a wife.  Our friendship isn’t salvageable.  We know this.  We also know that we will always wish that wasn’t the case but he’s too good to leave his wife and I’m too good to make him.  So a foggy morning moistens our farewell kiss and I watch him walk down the hill to his hotel.  We haven’t exchanged numbers, we haven’t made promises.  We have simply spent a long overdue night together.
                I wait on the step.  The cup cools from the brisk air and I look towards the east at the sudden brightness.  The fog is moving, rolling and I wait for it.  I sip the coffee.  And watch the sky dance and quiver and change and then just as I’m about to give up it happens.
                The sun breaks through the fog and an amber light graces the day like a ray of hope.  Like a smile on a sullen mans face, it was always there, it just needs the fog to move for  it to be seen. 
                I want to be the sunshine.  I want to be the one who makes people happy, who makes people smile.  Perhaps I’ll practice with my kids.  No that’s too easy.  I have a better idea.
                I pick up the phone and call Tyler.  He answers and tells me he will get the kids.
                “No, I want to talk to you”.
                “You do?  What about?” he sounds wary.
                “I think we should try again.” 
                “You do?”  There is a long silence.
                “Not for the kids, not for the family, but for me and you.   I won’t move back, I can’t yet, but perhaps we can try a different way.  See each other, see if there is something there to save.”
                “Ok.” He says and I hear the smile in his voice.  I also hear tears but they’re not sad ones.
                I have done it once.  I have made the sun break through the clouds and if I can do it once I can do it again.  I then ask to speak to the kids but he comes back on the phone after. 
                “Do you mean it?” He asks quickly.  He knows me well enough to know I don’t play games with him.
                “Yes I mean it.  Catch the ferry here and we’ll start talking.  Find someone to watch the kids.” 
                And again I hear the smile and he hasn’t spoken a word.  I smile back. 

                I look across the floor after I hang up and the large window allows the first sun in weeks through. I notice where I had quickly run the dust mop over the aging hardwood floors in the little apartment at some point between chapters of the book I wrote these past few days. There is however, a layer of dust at the periphery of the room, around the edges while the center is shiny. I glance at the mop and reach for the handle then pull my hand back and head instead towards the shower.
I have to get ready for Tyler so the corners will have to wait.