Friday, April 26, 2019

Title and Synopsis Reveal of my Next Contemporary Romance

I’m so excited to share some details about my next contemporary romance with you! I’ve been working on this book since last autumn, and it’s almost ready to go out into the world. Maybe You is a standalone romance. The heroine was first introduced in my last book, Only You. While there are familiar characters in Maybe You, it can 100% be read on its own. That being said, I do think the reading experience will be a bit richer for those who have read Only You because Ivy and Hugh play an important role in Meredith’s story. I had so much fun writing this book. I got the idea last year, before I even knew Meredith would be getting her own story. I thought it would be a complete standalone, separate from anything else I’d written, and I thought it would be a romcom. By the time I finished writing Only You and knew I wanted to write Meredith’s story, the idea for my completely separate book (I even had the main character’s name chosen!) kept overlapping with Meredith’s story, and soon became hers. I’ll talk more about the characters and the story in the coming weeks, but for today, I wanted to share a few details, along with the synopsis.

Some rules are meant to be broken… Meredith has rules. As a “professional cuddler” at Human Touch Companions, it’s a necessity. Her number one rule: Don’t get attached to clients and don’t let them get attached to her. She’s never had a problem with that until she meets Keiran. The adorable Irishman hires Meredith for emotional support in facing his estranged family, but he’s the one who ends up comforting her as she tries to come to terms with her beloved mother’s slide into the heartbreaking abyss of Alzheimer’s. It's only when Meredith sees how much she's leaning on Keiran that she realizes she's blurred the lines between professional and personal, but even worse? She’s broken her number one rule. She’s gotten attached to a client. Meredith knows the best solution is to resume a strictly professional relationship. But Keiran makes her feel something she never thought she'd feel again. Surely that's worth breaking her own rules for?

Add Maybe You on Goodreads

Maybe You will be hitting e-readers on Thursday, May 23rd. The cover is almost finished and will likely be revealed a week or two before the book’s release. I’ll be having a short 3-day 99 cent preorder, and for those who don’t want to/can’t preorder I’ll leave the price at 99 cents through release day and the next day. If you’d like to be sure to snag a copy for that price (regular price will be $2.99), I’ve created a sign-up form for a one-time notification where you can choose to receive an email from me either when the preorder goes live or on release day. If you’d like to receive the one-time notification (and I really do mean one time; you won’t be added to my mailing list or sent anything other than a release notification), you can sign up here.

If you haven't read Only You and you'd like to meet Meredith before reading Maybe You (plus meet Ivy and Hugh, who are pretty damn great if I do say so myself), you can get a copy of Only You for just $2.99 on Kindle or read it free if you have Kindle Unlimited. Want to get a better feel for Meredith and Keiran's story before it comes out? Check out my Maybe You Pinterest board and my Maybe You Spotify Playlist.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Reminiscing About Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and Thoughts on Why the Fire That Nearly Destroyed the Historical Landmark Touched People Worldwide

All photographs in this post are courtesy of my best friend, Krista Van Staalduinen, from our trip to Paris in June 2015, and have been used with her permission

Yesterday afternoon when I opened Facebook and saw the news that Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was on fire, my heart sank. I hoped it was a minor fire and the pompiers (firefighters) in Paris would be able to put it out. But as the afternoon wore on and my social media feeds filled with pictures and videos of the raging fire, that sick feeling in my stomach grew. Notre Dame was burning in earnest; 800+ years of history was literally going up in flames. Now because there are always ignorant, negative people on social media, I had the displeasure of seeing someone make the comment, “But it’s only a building. Be glad nobody died.” Of course everyone is glad nobody died; it’s an absolute miracle nobody was killed. And, yes, okay, it is technically just a building and you can’t equate that with the loss of human life. But it’s so much more than ‘just a building’. For centuries, Notre Dame has been a symbol of Paris. A symbol of art, architecture, history, religion, and culture. It has survived the French Revolution and two World Wars. You don’t have to be Catholic - or even Christian - to appreciate its beauty and rich history. Those things, paired with the fact it seemed like one of those monuments that would be around forever, are part of what makes this such a devastating tragedy for people all over the world. Whether you’ve been to Notre Dame, hoped to go there someday, or you’re indifferent, this is a loss felt by the whole world.

Exterior shot of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris France in the sunshine
I had the pleasure of visiting Notre Dame twice. My first time was in 2001; I was 17, and it was my first trip abroad. It was a whirlwind ten days of history and art and food and freedom. We saw ancient buildings and priceless art and so many things that left me speechless, but I remember being in complete awe when we walked into Notre Dame. It was swarming with people, and yet there was this hushed sort of reverence inside as people wandered around or sat in the pews or lit candles.

I vividly remember stopping in front of the statue of Joan of Arc and feeling this rush of emotions that brought tears to my eyes. I had just done a school project on the saint and felt this strange affinity to her; I had gone above and beyond on my project, reading everything I could get my hands on (and these were the days when there wasn’t much to be found online, so I think I checked out nearly every book from my library that so much as referenced her). Even though it was just a statue, it was like history coming alive in front of me and making it more real. Another special moment was when I lit a candle in memory of my dad, who died in 1994, and whose family originated in France.

Inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris lit candles for prayer
My second trip to Paris, and to Notre Dame, was in 2015. Our time in Paris was cut short after an issue at the border in Callais, France (it was closed due to riots and strikes, so we were stuck in Dover, England for a day, unable to cross the Channel until the border reopened). That meant we only had about two full days in Paris, but we were determined to make the most of it and see as much as possible. I knew for sure that despite having seen it 14 years before, I wanted to see Notre Dame again. It had made a real impression on me, and I wanted my travelling companion/bestie, Krista - a fellow lover of art, history, and architecture - to see it. I can honestly say it was just as awe-inspiring the second time. Tragedies like this show us that nothing - not even the things that seem indestructible and eternal - lasts forever. Just because something has stood the test of time, as Notre Dame did for hundreds of years, doesn’t mean it can or will forever. A friend messaged me yesterday and told me how much she regretted skipping a visit to the cathedral during both her visits to Paris because of the long lines, assuming she’d visit it next time. I saw other people sharing the same sentiment on social media yesterday and this morning. Because that's the thing, right? We all think we have time. Time to see and do the things we want, especially when it comes to seeing the things that have always been there and you assume always will be. When I think of my last trip to Europe, one thing that often comes to mind is the number of times we had to wait in line. The first instance was our visit to the Tower of London. Krista and I wanted to see the Crown Jewels, but the people we were with didn’t want to ‘waste time’ in line. Krista and I looked at each other and agreed that we hadn’t travelled thousands of miles to let something like a line stop us from seeing something we wanted - and had paid a lot of money - to see. So we got ourselves some ice cream from a nearby vendor and we waited in line, taking pictures, talking, and laughing all the while. That moment set a precedence for us: if there was something we wanted to see, screw the lines. It happened again several times throughout our travels (the most memorable being the hour we spent in the blazing Italian sun while waiting to enter St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican), including when we visited Notre Dame. We had a limited amount of time to squeeze in everything we wanted to do, but it was a beautiful day, so even though the lines stretched all the way to the end of the square, we joined the queue. Now I’m so grateful we did.

Notre Dame Cathedral Paris France interior chandeliers and stained glass windows
We hear about ‘gentle reminders’ all the time these days. ‘Just sending a gentle reminder to get your entries in for X by tonight’ or a ‘gentle reminder to practise self-care’. Well, let this horrible event serve as a not-so-gentle reminder. Do the things you want to do. See the things you want to see. I know it’s not always that simple, believe me. If I could hop on a plane to Europe right now I would, but it’s not possible right this moment. But whenever possible, even if it may make you a little uncomfortable, even if it means stepping outside your comfort zone (hell, especially if it means stepping outside your comfort zone), even if it takes time, even if it means waiting in a huge line, do the things you want to do. Don’t assume you can ‘do it next time’ because there might not be a next time. Let this also serve as an everyday reminder: Take chances. Do the things you love to do, as often and as joyfully as you can. Appreciate the good people in your life. Make sure the people you love know how you feel about them. See and do as much as you can, because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

2019 First Quarter Check-In

Anyone else find it hard to believe we’re already a quarter of the way through 2019? January and February moved along at a slow but steady pace for me, while March flew by. I wish I could say the weather was spring-like in my little corner of Ontario, but considering we’ve had snow on and off the last few days, we’re not quite there yet. 2019 has been a great year for me so far. I’ve made some big changes in my life, especially pertaining to my physical and mental health. I’ve created a morning routine - 30+ minutes of exercise, followed by yoga and meditation - that I’m really proud of. I’ve been working away at my current work in progress (a contemporary romance), I’ve been reading as much as I can, and I’ve succeeded at my goal of having one new blog post each week. Here’s a closer look at what the first quarter of 2019 looked like for me: *I wrote 50,000 words on my current WIP. I’m so close to being finished the first draft!
*It’s been a weird reading year for me. I’ve completed 11 books, but have had 10 DNFs. Ten! Of the books I’ve read, my favourites have been: -Happy New You by Brenda St John Brown, Cassie-Ann L Miller, Ceri Grenelle, Elizabeth Lynx, Jami Albright, Julia Wolf, Laura Lee, Marika Ray, Mya Martin, Nikky Kaye, and Sylvie Stewart -Hold Me Today by Maria Luis -The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane -At the Mountain’s Edge by Genevieve Graham You can see all my 2019 books (both read and DNFs) here. *On the blog: -Thoughts on How You Want to be Known in Life and How You Want to be Remembered -Spring Cleaning Isn’t Just For Your Home. Here’s How to Spring Clean Your Life Too -7 Books to Satisfy Your Ireland Wanderlust -2019: The Year of Big Life Changes -Experiencing Jealousy as an Author And How To Turn It Into Something Positive -One Day in December by Josie Silver: Did it Live Up to the Hype? -2018: A Year in Review *TV shows I’ve watched and loved: I haven’t been watching much TV this year, but I did watch Bodyguard and Medici: Masters of Florence in March (and I’ll admit both were 100% because Richard Madden was the star). I particularly loved Bodyguard and talked about some of the reasons why here.

Looking ahead at the next quarter of 2019:

*I’ll be finishing and publishing my WIP. I have a title and a publication date in mind, but I’m keeping quiet about both for now. Stay tuned for more details! Once that’s finished, I have a *secret project* I’m excited to work on. I can give you a few hints: it's a series of three books, probably novellas, and they’re romantic comedies.

*I’ll be doing some not-too-far travelling. Next month I’ll be spending a weekend with my bestie in my favourite Canadian city, Kingston, along with the Nation’s Capital, Ottawa. We’re planning to do a day at the Tulip Festival. I love Ottawa and I haven't been there in over a decade, plus I've always wanted to go to the Tulip Festival. In June, I’ll be spending a weekend in Toronto with another friend, attending a 90s Nostalgia Dance Party. If you know me at all, you'll know I live for 90s music. So much so, in fact, that in my last book, Only You, the main character Ivy was obsessed with 90s music too. Im excited beyond words about both these things!
*I’m going to continue focusing on my health and wellbeing. My body craves movement now, and I love the changes I’m seeing in my body, and how much better I feel. Meditation and journaling have also led to a vast improvement in my mental health. I’m much calmer, less anxious, less stressed, and I find it easier to just roll with things.
How were the first three months of 2019 for you? Do you have anything big planned for the next quarter of the year?

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