CHAPTER 1

Badger, Newfoundland. March, 1958

 Theresa Bennet was sixteen, pregnant, and unwed. By the end of the night she’d be homeless, sliced away from her family and chewed up by the machinations of moral fortitude. Forced to the fringes of society. She approached the supper table timidly, just as her father bowed his head to say grace.

Bless this food Lord and keep us strong that we may continue to be your faithful servants. Amen.

The family ate at 5:00 p.m. sharp and Theresa was late. Her mother cut her a sidelong glance, a precursor of the fury to come. Theresa picked up her fork and poked at the plate of baked beans in front of her. They were heavy with molasses, the way she normally loved them, thick with the blackened sweet syrup that coated her tongue and satisfied her hunger. But tonight, the beans were too hot, the molasses too heavily laden. The smell turned her stomach and even the fresh loaf of brown bread felt like a heavy stone in her hand.

Lillian, her 14-year-old sister, sat beside her and practiced piling beans on her fork, as many as she could, carefully lifting the towering legumes to her mouth.

“Stop playing with your food!” her mother snapped. Lillian jumped and the beans toppled back onto the dish. Eveline Bennett was a stern, no-nonsense woman who kept her house meticulously clean and her family in line. She impatiently thrust a napkin at her youngest daughter and as she did, Theresa caught a whiff of bleach and pine, harsh cleaning agents that permeated her mother’s skin. Theresa swallowed hard against rising nausea, a by-product of fear and the decoction of chemicals and hormones that rendered her insides perpetually unsettled. Slowly, she pushed her fork through the beans, unsure whether she’d be able to eat at all. She stared at her plate without blinking, until the food before her morphed into a vision of a hundred tiny fetuses with curved backs, the beginnings of heads and feet. She slapped her hand over her mouth and jumped from the table.

“What the devil got into you?” her mother asked, fork mid-air. Theresa ran for the bathroom and slammed the door behind her. Lillian dropped her fork, about to follow her older sister but her mother shook her head. “Eat your food.”

Their father ate in silence, head raised, mystified.

“Theresa? What’s the matter? Are ya sick or what?”

I can’t do it, Theresa thought. I can’t tell them I’m pregnant.

Her mother jiggled the doorknob but Theresa had locked it.

“What’s wrong?” Eveline asked again. “Open this door right now!” she demanded. Theresa reluctantly complied.

“Look at you! White as a ghost you are!” Eveline took a wash cloth and ran it under the cold tap. She wrung it dry and passed it to Theresa who buried her face in it, the smell of bleach permanently embedded into the fibres, into everything her mother ever washed.

“There’s an awful flu goin’ round,” Eveline rationalized. “I told you to button up that damned jacket. Catch your death!”

“I can’t eat,” Theresa said and her mother, believing she was sick, excused her. Theresa went into the living room and stretched out on the couch, relieved to be away from the table. I can’t tell them. But she knew she had to. She was already 12 weeks along and had convinced her boyfriend, Albert, to meet her at the house around suppertime, the designated time to tell her parents that she was expecting. Albert was older, a recent navy recruit. He promised to look after her and the baby. As she lay on the couch summoning her nerve, her thoughts drifted to Albert and the first time she met him.

He was stretched out on the steps of Jimmy’s, the local grocery store named for its owner. She was in a hurry, on her way to pick up bread and butter and some other baking supplies for her mother. She walked fast against the cold air, head down. As she neared the steps she raised her head and stopped short, disarmed by the sight of him. My lord he’s handsome Theresa thought. The weather was cold but his lean body was relaxed and loose as if it were a sweltering day. He propped himself on his elbows, the sleeves of his jacket rolled just high enough to reveal a heart-and-anchor tattoo. He smoked a cigarette and gazed at the sky. Theresa couldn’t take her eyes away, even when he lifted the cigarette to his mouth and shifted his gaze to where she stood. Everything about him created heat within her body, the way he grinned and shifted his weight, the simple way he allowed his bent leg to drift open. She held his intense gaze and realized she was holding her breath when he said, “Hello me dear.”

“Hello,” Theresa said. Her heart fluttered in her chest but she ignored that as she approached the steps, ignored the way her thighs felt like melting wax. Lord Jesus he’s a looker, she thought.

He smiled as she walked towards him, shifting his weight so she could get past. She caught a whiff of cologne as she opened the door, an aroma that nearly finished her. Once inside she took a minute to catch her bearings.

“Good afternoon Theresa,” the store clerk said. He smiled and leaned on the counter, both meaty hands splayed flat.

“Mr. Nelson,” Theresa nodded. She blushed and ducked her head as she tried to remember what her mother had asked for. Molasses, butter, bread, eggs. She alternated between rushing and taking her time as she walked the aisles, unsure if she wanted to see him on the step when she left the store. When she was sure she had everything, she emptied her canvas bag on the counter.

“That’ll be a buck eighty-five.”

Theresa tipped her palm and slid the coins onto the counter. Movement from the door caught her eye and she jerked her head to see what it was. A trio of girls had gathered at Albert’s feet. She recognized them from school, the earlier grades, long before she stopped attending.

“Thank you muchly. You have yourself a nice day,” the clerk said. Theresa hoped to slip past Albert while his attention was elsewhere but the bell above the door gave her away. Albert twisted his body and tipped his head to look up at her. She kept her eyes averted but could still see him from the corner of her eye. She could see the big toothy grin and couldn’t help but laugh. Her face reddened. She thought she’d get away but the minute her foot touched the second step his arm shot out and his hand caught her above the knee. She could feel the heat of his hand straight through her black winter tights.

“I didn’t get your name me love,” he said. His voice was deep and throaty.

“Theresa,” she said. At last, she looked him in the eye. The grin was gone but there was something else, a probing look in his eye that made Theresa want to follow him home. The trio of girls quieted their chatter.

“Nice to meet you, Theresa,” he said. His grasp on her leg softened, but he didn’t let go right away. Theresa willed herself to move but the mischief in Albert’s eyes, the silent promise of what was to come kept her rooted. That’s when she fell in love.

 

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NOVEL WRITING SAMPLE

Theresa Bennet was sixteen, pregnant, and unwed. By the end of the night she’d be homeless, sliced away from her family and chewed up by the machinations of moral fortitude. Forced to the fringes of society. She approached the supper table timidly, just as her father bowed his head to say grace.
Bless this food Lord and keep us strong that we may continue to be your faithful servants. Amen.
The family ate at 5:00 p.m. sharp and Theresa was late. Her mother cut her a sidelong glance, a precursor of the fury to come. Theresa picked up her fork and poked at the plate of baked beans in front of her. They were heavy with molasses, the way she normally loved them, thick with the blackened sweet syrup that coated her tongue and satisfied her hunger. But tonight, the beans were too hot, the molasses too heavily laden. The smell turned her stomach and even the fresh loaf of brown bread felt like a heavy stone in her hand.
Lillian, her 14-year-old sister, sat beside her and practiced piling beans on her fork, as many as she could, carefully lifting the towering legumes to her mouth.
“Stop playing with your food!” her mother snapped. Lillian jumped and the beans toppled back onto the dish. Eveline Bennett was a stern, no-nonsense woman who kept her house meticulously clean and her family in line. She impatiently thrust a napkin at her youngest daughter and as she did, Theresa caught a whiff of bleach and pine, harsh cleaning agents that permeated her mother’s skin. Theresa swallowed hard against rising nausea, a by-product of fear and the decoction of chemicals and hormones that rendered her insides perpetually unsettled. Slowly, she pushed her fork through the beans, unsure whether she’d be able to eat at all. She stared at her plate without blinking, until the food before her morphed into a vision of a hundred tiny fetuses with curved backs, the beginnings of heads and feet. She slapped her hand over her mouth and jumped from the table.
“What the devil got into you?” her mother asked, fork mid-air. Theresa ran for the bathroom and slammed the door behind her. Lillian dropped her fork, about to follow her older sister but her mother shook her head. “Eat your food.”
Their father ate in silence, head raised, mystified.
“Theresa? What’s the matter? Are ya sick or what?”
I can’t do it, Theresa thought. I can’t tell them I’m pregnant.
Her mother jiggled the doorknob but Theresa had locked it.
“What’s wrong?” Eveline asked again. “Open this door right now!” she demanded. Theresa reluctantly complied.
“Look at you! White as a ghost you are!” Eveline took a wash cloth and ran it under the cold tap. She wrung it dry and passed it to Theresa who buried her face in it, the smell of bleach permanently embedded into the fibres, into everything her mother ever washed.
“There’s an awful flu goin’ round,” Eveline rationalized. “I told you to button up that damned jacket. Catch your death!”
“I can’t eat,” Theresa said and her mother, believing she was sick, excused her. Theresa went into the living room and stretched out on the couch, relieved to be away from the table. I can’t tell them. But she knew she had to. She was already 12 weeks along and had convinced her boyfriend, Albert, to meet her at the house around suppertime, the designated time to tell her parents that she was expecting. Albert was older, a recent navy recruit. He promised to look after her and the baby. As she lay on the couch summoning her nerve, her thoughts drifted to Albert and the first time she met him.
He was stretched out on the steps of Jimmy’s, the local grocery store named for its owner. She was in a hurry, on her way to pick up bread and butter and some other baking supplies for her mother. She walked fast against the cold air, head down. As she neared the steps she raised her head and stopped short, disarmed by the sight of him. My lord he’s handsome Theresa thought. The weather was cold but his lean body was relaxed and loose as if it were a sweltering day. He propped himself on his elbows, the sleeves of his jacket rolled just high enough to reveal a heart-and-anchor tattoo. He smoked a cigarette and gazed at the sky. Theresa couldn’t take her eyes away, even when he lifted the cigarette to his mouth and shifted his gaze to where she stood. Everything about him created heat within her body, the way he grinned and shifted his weight, the simple way he allowed his bent leg to drift open. She held his intense gaze and realized she was holding her breath when he said, “Hello me dear.”
“Hello,” Theresa said. Her heart fluttered in her chest but she ignored that as she approached the steps, ignored the way her thighs felt like melting wax. Lord Jesus he’s a looker, she thought.
He smiled as she walked towards him, shifting his weight so she could get past. She caught a whiff of cologne as she opened the door, an aroma that nearly finished her. Once inside she took a minute to catch her bearings.
“Good afternoon Theresa,” the store clerk said. He smiled and leaned on the counter, both meaty hands splayed flat.
“Mr. Nelson,” Theresa nodded. She blushed and ducked her head as she tried to remember what her mother had asked for. Molasses, butter, bread, eggs. She alternated between rushing and taking her time as she walked the aisles, unsure if she wanted to see him on the step when she left the store. When she was sure she had everything, she emptied her canvas bag on the counter.
“That’ll be a buck eighty-five.”
Theresa tipped her palm and slid the coins onto the counter. Movement from the door caught her eye and she jerked her head to see what it was. A trio of girls had gathered at Albert’s feet. She recognized them from school, the earlier grades, long before she stopped attending.
“Thank you muchly. You have yourself a nice day,” the clerk said. Theresa hoped to slip past Albert while his attention was elsewhere but the bell above the door gave her away. Albert twisted his body and tipped his head to look up at her. She kept her eyes averted but could still see him from the corner of her eye. She could see the big toothy grin and couldn’t help but laugh. Her face reddened. She thought she’d get away but the minute her foot touched the second step his arm shot out and his hand caught her above the knee. She could feel the heat of his hand straight through her black winter tights.
“I didn’t get your name me love,” he said. His voice was deep and throaty.
“Theresa,” she said. At last, she looked him in the eye. The grin was gone but there was something else, a probing look in his eye that made Theresa want to follow him home. The trio of girls quieted their chatter.
“Nice to meet you, Theresa,” he said. His grasp on her leg softened, but he didn’t let go right away. Theresa willed herself to move but the mischief in Albert’s eyes, the silent promise of what was to come kept her rooted. That’s when she fell in love.

This book is about…

ME DEAR LOVE is about Theresa Bennett…

Pregnant and unwed, 16-year-old Theresa Bennett is kicked out of her family’s home and coerced by the church into giving up her six-month old baby for adoption. Albert, the baby’s father and the man Theresa adores, walks away from the relationship. Exiled from her home, Theresa takes shelter in a Corner Brook boarding house until her pregnancy becomes obvious and, once again, she is forced to flee.  Albert drifts in and out of Theresa’s life while she struggles with first-time motherhood. Just when life is getting good for Theresa, Albert hits her and threatens their newborn. Taking only the necessities, Theresa and her infant move to Montreal where – once again – Theresa finds herself at a boarding house.  This time, the stakes are much higher. Convinced that she cannot look after a baby as a single mother, the Catholic Church convince her to give up the baby for adoption.

The baby is six months old when he is taken from her. “Just pretend he died”, the nuns tell her. She is devastated.  Then she discovers she is pregnant again. Determined not to lose this baby, Theresa escapes the boarding house.

ME DEAR LOVE is also about Eddie Rowenthe adopted son. Mother and son, both on a search for each other, struggle against demons of their own. This is a story about the human condition and the struggles to define happiness.

This novel is inspired by a true story.

 

How Much Time is ENOUGH Time to Write?

I’ve discovered unique benefits to having huge swaths of time to write (weekends, holidays, vacation) versus quick I’ve-only-got-twenty-minutes to write. If a story doesn’t evoke some kind of emotion from me, it’s definitely not going to reasonate with the reader.  That means I have to get into the heads of my characters and feel whatever they’re feeling.  And I simply can’t dig that deep with just a few moments here and there.   What I can do in a short period of time is allow myself to pour words and sentences all over the blank page.  Those are the times I can “allow” my internal critic to take a hike. Sure a lot of it ends up being cut, but the exercise inevitably moves the story forward. It forces me away from places where I’ve become too comfortable.  

Now I’m looking forward to a long vacation from work so that I can buckle-down and really get into the meat of my novel.  I’m hoping this 3-week stretch will allow me the time to reconnect with the characters, to churn up the well so-to-speak.  The fact that the process causes me a lot of personal anxiety is good for the story I suppose.  Not so good for me.  It’s necessary because it creates something real, something the readers can latch on to. 

There’s really no “bad” time to write.  As I mentioned above, having just minutes forces me to plow ahead and that’s absolutely necessary to unleash new ideas. But I’ve had a lot of minutes lately.  Now it’s time to bravely dig deep.  I may need to take up smoking.  

Wherever you are with your writing, just remember that every minute matters. The story will take shape; the characters will evolve.  You just have to make it happen with whatever piece of time you have.

Brief Book Synopsis – Draft

Pregnant and unwed, 16-year-old Theresa Bennet was kicked out of her home and eventually forced to give up her baby by the Catholic Church.

With nowhere to turn, Theresa moved to Corner Brook, Newfoundland, where she lived in a boarding house for a while.  Her lover – Al – quickly disappeared long before the baby was born leaving Theresa to fend for herself.   It didn’t take long for the charming Al to find his way to Theresa and back into her life, however.  They were finally going to be a family, Theresa thought. All was good until Al hit her and threatened the baby.  That’s when the owner of the boarding house stepped in and demanded that Theresa leave.  She’d decided that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all to house a single mother.

The church became involved and sent her to Montreal where a young married couple would be waiting to take the baby.  By then the baby was 6 months old. “Just pretend he died”, the nuns told her.

The book continues through the life of Theresa Bennet, her lover Al, and the adult life of her son Eddie who, by chance, is told a story that suddenly awakens a need to find his mother.

This book chronicles their lives and the search for their biological connections. From Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, this story take Eddie across the ocean on the Grand Banks Schooner to a province that welcomes him like the son he is.

 

 

Second Sample Chapter

ANOTHER SAMPLE CHAPTER FROM BOOK-IN-PROGRESS, “ME DEAR LOVE”

~please keep in mind this is a work-in-progress and is only the first draft. To read the other sample chapter please click here: NEW – Sample Chapter from Me Dear Love – Novel            Thank you for reading!  It is very much appreciated.  Comments & Critiques are also welcome.

@LisaTheriault2016

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 The ship was alive with music and dance, fueled by rum, vodka, and beer from the moment she sailed out of the Halifax harbour. Socializing began after supper in the sailor’s living quarters but it wasn’t unusual for pop-up parties to happen anywhere on the ship at any time. The trip from Halifax was smooth and uneventful. The weather was beautiful until the fog banks on the horizon moved in, pushed the warmth out of the way and blocking the sunshine. People quickly covered their shoulders with sweaters and switched from shorts to pants.

“Did they just cut the engine?” Eddie asked Pete.

Pete listened and looked around. The crew was busy with the sails, intent on finishing their job. “Let’s go see what’s happening,” Eddie suggested. He and Pete walked around to the wheelhouse where they found the plotter hunched over his charts deep in thought.

“What’s happening?” Eddie asked looking down at the paper charts spread out on the desk. The plotter rubbed the back of his neck and sat back in his chair, sizing Eddie up.

“You one of the Americans?” he asked wearily.”

“No I’m from Nova Scotia actually. Eddie Rowen.”

The plotter shook his band.

“The fog is thick,” Eddie said.

“That it is. Problem is, nobody’s comfortable steering ‘er into this channel.” Eddie leaned in a little further to see where the plotter was pointing.

“How tight is that?”

“Well this schooner will fit into the channel with a couple feet either side. It’s tough to do in fog this thick.”

“What’s the other option?” Eddie asked. The plotter shrugged and nodded off to the side where Captain Ellis spoke with Pete. “Be up to him.”

Eddie studied the charts closely.

“You seem interested in this stuff,” the plotter said.

“I am. I’ve sailed some.”

The plotter looked at him and said, “Seeing’s that nobody’s too interested in trying this, how about you get us through that channel?”

Word spread quickly that this thirty-two-year-old “kid” was going to navigate the ship through the narrow channel where they’d finally anchor for the night. A big wind was coming and the ship needed to find a good spot to shelter.

Eddie examined the chart. “Looks tight.”

“Think you can do this?”

“I’ve done it before although the ship was a lot smaller than this.”

The plotter nodded and waved Captain Ellis over. Told him the plans.

With the captain’s blessing, Eddie took the helm. Two crew members stood on top deck periodically blasting signalling horns while the plotter called out their position. Crew stood by, on edge. The fog was thick like grey cement. Occasionally a gull would cry out, but nothing could be seen. The only thing they had to go by were the chart positions and Eddie’s steady hand. The crew was silent. Laughter and talk drifted by the wheelhouse where only working crew were allowed. When Eddie and Pete had first inquired about the trip and purchased their tickets, Captain Ellis sent everyone a Rules of the Schooner guide that specified where and when they could move about on the ship.

“20 degrees due north,” the plotter said. Eddie watched the electronic navigator and wondered how anybody could have managed to sail through this without one.

40 degrees northwest.

Eddie complied.

45 degrees north.

An hour and a half felt like eternity but finally, the plotter called out their final position and time. Crew on standby lowered anchor and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Still, with the wall off fog around them, nobody was absolutely certain they were where they should be. They’d made it through the narrowest part of the channel though and everyone relaxed, suddenly relieved and giddy. Liquor flowed immediately.

Eager to escape the darkness and damp fog, people congregated in the galley. The crew, grateful to Eddie, were eager to learn more about him.

“That was right amazing it was!” said one of the crew. Others, including guests, chimed in.

“I don’t think nobody’s ever tried that before in fog like that.”

“You got us here safe me son!”

The relief was palpable. Pent-up adrenalin exhausted itself through jokes, laughter, and drink. From the minute the ship anchored to late into the night, crew and guests shared food, drink, laughter, and dance.

Eddie stretched his neck and cracked his knuckles.

“That was crazy,” Pete said. He stood with the plotter at the navigation table still looking down at the chart. When the plotter saw him coming he stood and shook Eddie’s hand.

“Thank you,” he said.

“The anchor’s dropped,” Eddie said. “Can I see the mark again?”

The plotter stepped aside and pointed to the chart.

“We should be here,” he said. “We’ll see in the morning if the fog lifts.” The tension from earlier had evaporated. Captain Ellis appeared in the hold and shook Eddie’s hand.

“Consider yourself honorary crew!” he said. “That was flawless.”

Eddie took a deep breath, releasing his own tension.

“Grab yourselves a drink from the galley and make yourselves comfortable.”

Eddie went to his berth, grabbed his foul-weather jacket and met up with Pete outside.

The ship’s supper bell rang at 6:00 p.m. for the first ten crew members to eat. At 6:30 p.m., the next ten crew members would sit at the long wooden bench for their share of the meal and, finally, at 7:00 p.m., guests of the Grand Banks schooner made their way to the forecastle for a meal. The table, made from wood once milled at the logging camp in Badger, was 13 feet long and bolted to the deck floor. The seating area on part of the port side of the ship was one long bench built into the boat itself. Along the starboard side was a long picnic-like bench with back.

Eddie and Pete hungrily dug into the evenings fare, a traditional salt dinner. Salt cod, pickled cabbage, boiled potatoes served with scraps of salt pork and homemade biscuits. To a maritimer it was comfort food, a familiar meal that was normally cooked in the winter when families lived on the remains of root vegetables and salt fish. Now, it served as sustenance, a hearty meal after a long day on the sea. To the disgust of the Americans aboard, crew crunched through the fried bits of pork fat and added more salt to the mashed potatoes. The fish, flaked in a pile of white flesh, was more like a grated block of sea salt.

Eddie laughed quietly and briefly pointed his fork at a few men near the end of the long table.

“I guess they’re not hungry,” he said to Pete. Pete watched them pick around their plates, grimacing in disgust. Everything but the boiled potatoes were pushed to the sides of their plates.

“Those boys are gonna get the scurvy,” one of the older crew, who’d noticed what was happening, shouted merrily. Eddie guessed him to be in his late 60’s, a man completely at ease with his naval surroundings.

“Naw, it’s the rickets!” said another, pounding his fist onto the table in jest. He was younger, Eddie guessed, and strong by the looks of his arms. His head was shaved and he sported a whole sleeve of tattoos down his left arm.

“Oh now come then. Don’t be arseholes!” The captain hollered as he passed by the table. He carried a bottle of opened rum in one hand and a partially filled glass in the other, swaying more to the effect of the liquor, Eddie surmised, than to the pitch of the ocean.

Gales of laughter erupted to the embarrassment of the Americans. They’d been invited aboard as guests because of plans to buy the ship at the end of the sail, hoping to use it as a tourist draw in Boston.

Pete’s face was dark from the heat in the galley and the free-flowing alcohol. He lifted a leg and turned his body sideways to straddle the bench.

”I’m stuffed!” he said, rubbing abdomen. Pete and Eddie were in good shape after years of lobster fishing.

“Where’s that dessert?” shouted one of the crew. Eddie held a hand in the air and shook his head no.

“None for me,” he said. Pete wasn’t interested either although it looked good. Fresh apple pie warm from the oven piled high with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. The smell of cinnamon filled the air. People from above deck appeared and lined up for their share of dessert. Some lingered and talked; others took their desserts to another deck. Eddie was happy, giddy even. Flush from the alcohol and sparked with the excitement of finding his mother, he suddenly felt years younger and freer than he’d ever felt. He took it all in, the fiddlers over by the antique pot-belly stove, a boy sitting on someone’s knee attempting to play the spoons, clacking the utensils in time to the Irish jig quickly building in crescendo. A CBC news crew consisting of two cameramen and a reporter tapped their feet and clapped their hands, relaxed and laughing.

Suddenly Pete nudged him in the ribs. “They’re asking you something,” he said. Three sets of eyes were on him, twinkling, waiting for an answer.

“I…I’m sorry. I didn’t hear you,” Eddie replied.

“So g’wan b’y, who’d ya come from?” The oldest crew member asked.

Eddie smiled and shook his head. “I’m sorry, I’m not…I don’t…”

The younger crew members laughed and one of them spoke up. “He’s just askin’ where you come from, who your parents are. This here is Dodo. His real name is Donald but it’s not what we call him.”

“Oh!” Eddie replied and laughed. Dodo’s accent, combined with the colloquialisms inherent only to Newfoundland, made it especially difficult to understand what he was saying. So Eddie talked. He built the story slowly, explaining his intention to find his biological mother. On the precipice of tipping from “feeling good” to outright drunk, there was no filter to keep his emotions shut down. A few tears slid down his numb cheeks and he went into the story as if he were already in Newfoundland, seeing his mother for the first time. While the clamour of music and drunken dance built like a rising tide around them, Eddie’s audience remained rapt.

When he was done, he sipped from his recently refilled glass and looked around with a sigh and his gaze landed on the female reporter who had found her way to the table to listen to his story. She leaned forward, her arms sliding towards him across the table. Her mouth opened and she asked him something, but Eddie couldn’t hear over the music and laughter. A hand slapped him on the back. Another pinched the top of his shoulder.

“Thank you for that,” one of the crew said.

“I just knows you gonna find her,” another said. “Don’t ask me how, I just knows.” A glass was raised and a toast offered.

“To Eddie, may he find his mother in good health!”

Eddie looked back but the reporter had moved already.

“There’s more music on the upper deck,” he suddenly heard. It was her, standing behind him. She held a fistful of curls that had burst from her ponytail away from her mouth, and spoke into his ear.

Pete was on the other side of the galley talking to the captain. Eddie pulled his legs around the bench and stood up slowly to get his balance. The reporter held onto his arm as he turned again to rescue what was left of his drink.

People were up and dancing as the music picked up the pace. Men and women, all invited guests, mimicked the dance of the Newfoundlander’s. They clapped, stomped a foot, moved their feet in what looked like a cross between tap dancing and the River dance.

“Do you want to stay and dance?” the reporter asked him. When Eddie shook his head, the world spun a little.

“Let’s get fresh air,” he said dizzily.

The reporter, who only had a thin long-sleeved t-shirt on shivered in the night air. The fog had left puddles on the benches outside. Eddie unzipped his jacket and pulled her inside to keep her warm. She was petite and when Eddie looked down, all he saw was the top of her head, a riot of black curls heavy with humidity.

“I’m sorry,” Eddie said, his words slightly slurred. He pulled away from her long enough to look into her eyes. “I’m Eddie.”

The reporter laughed heartily, her round cheeks punctuated with dimples on each side. Eddie was captivated. She wiggled her head so that she could look up into his face. “Lynette,” she said. Eddie smiled through a mixture of emotions that seemed to have cut through the alcohol. He wasn’t used to holding another woman and it felt different. His hands and body folded differently over hers. Rachel was taller, slimmer in some ways. She had a long neck and a way of standing sideways so that she was never fully pressed against him. But here was Lynette. He bent down and kissed her lips. Gently. He lingered. The tip of her nose was wet from the fog.

He thought the alcohol would numb the pain of betrayal but it did nothing. Instead, he stood drunk, in as much pain as he’d ever been in, trying to find any way he could to dissolve it.

Eddie, in his drunken state, thought they were discrete but when Lynette slipped out of his birth before sunrise, Pete had seen.

Breakfast was less formal than the previous night’s supper. Bacon, eggs, and toast were piled a mile high on the table. If you got there early, breakfast would still be warm. Pete, who hadn’t slept well, was able to get two warm plates of food; a plate for himself and a plate for Eddie.

Pete had witnessed plenty of Eddie’s hangovers and knew that he’d be hungry when he awoke. He’d have a large breakfast, feel good for a while, and then feel like shit until late afternoon.

Pete cleared his throat before gently pulling the curtain back on Eddie’s berth.

“Brought you some….”

Eddie wasn’t there. With two full plates of food, Pete walked to the main deck, first around the stern and then forward to the bow of the ship. No sign of Eddie. With his breakfast getting colder by the minute, Pete found a spot to sit and eat. The coolness of the overnight air still clung to the ship, but the fog was lifting fast. Someone shouted, “Look!” and people stood, walking to starboard. They were so close to land you could practically touch it.

“Are you going to eat all of that?” Lynette asked. Pete smiled and past her the now-cold breakfast.

“Your friend is quite a sailor,” she said.

_End of Sample_

Does Writing Make You Anxious?

I’m writing a novel that requires me to dig deep into the hearts and souls of the people I love. Yes, it’s fictional – but it’s based on true events and emotions that aren’t always pleasant. Getting that close to something uncomfortable makes my chest burn with anxiety.  I mean it freaking hurts. Call me weak, but I had to take 1/2 Ativan.  I need to write this book.  I have committed to writing this book and I will finish it.

It made me wonder whether other writers are plagued by anxiety caused by writing. It’s one thing to write about depression and anxiety as its own subject.  But what about feeling perfectly okay UNTIL you start writing.  Once I’ve finished this post I’m going to go back to it.  Bravely.  In order to create a book that has substance, grit, and truly developed characters, I’m going to have to dig deep and really face this head on. In order to write about someone else’s emotions (fictional or not), I have to feel those things too.

Think about it this way, if you had to write about the taste and feel of the salty ocean, you would first need to have that experience. Gotta tell ya….it really sucks. It’s going to be worth it when the book is done. Maybe I’ll learn to get used to this feeling, or at least learn how to handle this so that I don’t spend the next couple of years in a constant state of pain. That would be stupid.

I need to learn how to disassociate to some degree.  I’ve felt pain in my life so I know it’s in my toolbox to write about.  If I could just turn off the receptors that bring me back there….

I don’t have the answers today. I just know that I have the day off from work to write and I should probably get back to it.

If you’re a writer or someone who deals with anxiety on the reg, let me know about your experiences!  I’m open to hearing how other people manage it without medication, and without avoiding writing.

Thanks!img_0301

 

3 Ways to Boost the Creative Process


  1. RUN WITH DOGS

    As you can see from the photos, they LOVED IT.  Now, they’re totally flaked out on the couch wrapped in blankets.  Snoring away.  Without them constantly at me for food, treats, playtime, etc., I can finally sit down and get some serious writing done.

2. WRITE STANDING UP

It works! Since I’m sitting all day at work (bad girl I know!), it doesn’t make sense to come home and sit some more.  Hunching over the keyboard is awful for my back and shoulders.  You can’t be creative when you’re in pain.  Standing lets the creativity out, as opposed to getting all jammed up in your heart chakra.  Nobody wants a jammed up heart chakra.  Am I right?

3.  READ IT OUT LOUD

I prefer to do this when I’m alone, but reading what I’ve just written helps to give me an idea how the sentences are flowing. If I’m getting tongue-tied, or the tone just isn’t write, it’s easier to hone in on those trouble spots and fix them.

And now that I’ve ran in the rain, written a blog, and had a cup of tea and a cookie….I’m going to work on my novel.  But first, where is my sweater.  It’s chilly in here….

How I Broke Through A Writing Wall

I finally found my way through a fee weeks of “writer’s block”.  Want to know how?
Whether you’re writing a note to your friend, a poem, or a novel, you just know when something isn’t right.  I knew if I just kept typing words (reasonable words and phrases that made some kind of sense), I’d find my way.   I worried about it.  I’d write eight pages and then delete them all because it was garbage.  Trust the process I reminded myself.  Trust the process.  Finally, I decided to try something else.

FREESTYLE:  That’s just a formal way of giving yourself permission to fire your internal editor for a while.  I realized I was trying to write about characters I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting.  With an open mind I let the thoughts flow. Who is this person? Where is she from? What are her hopes? Dreams? Fears?  It was one long rambling unedited mess.  But it helped get my head around the characters holding me back.

RUN:  Long, slow runs give me a chance to visual the book unfolding like a movie in my mind. It takes me away from the computer screen and gets the blood pumping.  The result? Fresh, creative ideas to try and sore calves.  It’s amazing what a little exercise does to keep those neurons firing.

PERSISTENCE: Even when I don’t feel I have anything to write, I write. Every day.  I go to the computer and pluck away at words and phrases until – at last – something clicks.  It might take days.  It might take months.  You might not notice when it happens because your mind takes something good and runs with it.  For a while, it’s practically effortless.  At least I knew when I was on the right track. Something changed in the way I felt about the characters and what they were experiencing.

That’s it!  Nothing earth-shattering.  It really helps to remind yourself to trust the process.  You know what you’re doing, you might just have to wait for the characters to introduce themselves.  And for that you need an open mind.  These are just some things that work for me.

Happy Writing!

Thank you to Unsplash.com for the copyright free image.

Homemade Irish Stew Recipe

Irish StewI totally played this by ear and I’m happy to say it was delicious. Mike had two huge bowls and he rarely has seconds!

Ingredients:

Two large potatoes

Two large carrots

Stewing beef – 1 pound (ish)

Two stalks of celery

1 onion

two large cloves of garlic

Beef broth

2 tbsps tomato paste

I can of beer

two cups of water

2 tbsps of vegetable oil

1/4 cup of red wine

Pinch of tyme

Salt and pepper

Dumplings ingredients:

Ummmmm I don’t remember. BUT it’s easy to find recipes for dumplings online.

I added a pinch of rosemary and some cheddar cheese to the batter for extra flavour.

To Prepare:

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  Add the beef and brown.

Remove the beef and put in the crockpot (did I mention this is a crockpot recipe?)

Saute the chopped onion, celery, and chopped garlic cloves. Add to crockpot.

Add everything else to the crockpot, cover, and cook on low for 4 hrs.

I transfered the cooked stew to a large pot and let it simmer over the stove.  I added the dumplings to cook about 20 minutes before serving.