Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hung Up on You Release Day!

Hung Up on You is now officially out in the world!

I can't believe this day is finally here. I started writing this book three years ago, finished two years ago, and then set it aside to work on other projects. Late last summer, I knew it was time to finally pull it out again and see if it was worth publishing, and I immediately fell back in love with Julia, Zack, and the other characters. With help from two amazing author friends, I came up with a title and synopsis, and my wonderful team of beta readers helped me make the story itself much better. Writing is such a solitary thing, but all the rest of it involves so many moving pieces and people behind the scenes.

Now on to the book! Hung Up on You is a sweet and sexy slow-burn, friends-to-lovers, fake-dating romance. It's set in Canada and features Canadian characters. Friendship is an important aspect of the story, and you can expect plenty of giggles and swoons. Sound like your kind of thing? The ebook will be 99 cents for a day or two longer and then the price will go up to $2.99 so be sure to snag a copy soon!

Julia and Zack aren’t really dating. Their ‘relationship’ is fake. Julia’s heart did not get the memo. 

Julia is single and happy, thank you very much. Try telling that to her happily-coupled bestie, though. She’s so determined to pair Julia off, she brings an extra guy friend along on a weekend getaway, in what’s clearly a set-up attempt. Julia’s interest is immediately piqued by sweet, sexy, nerdy Zack. There’s just one problem: he’s still hung up on his ex. Big time.

Despite knowing that - and despite her attraction to him - it doesn’t stop her friends from throwing them together every other second, insisting they’d make the perfect couple. But Julia is determined to friend zone him...at least until he suggests they pretend to date to get their respective friends off their backs.

At first, their fake “dating” is more friendship than fireworks. But as they get closer, the lines begin to blur between them, and Julia realizes she has to either shut down her developing feelings for Zack or let him in. The question is: can she fully trust him with her heart? Or does his heart still belong to his ex?


Hung Up on You is making the rounds of the blogosphere as well as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter this week thanks to Xpresso Book Tours, so be sure to keep an eye out for posts featuring reviews, excerpts, teasers, and more! There's also a tour-wide giveaway, which you can enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 3, 2020

Friday Favourites: 2019 Edition

Happy New Year! I know it’s now 2020, but I have one more 2019 recap of sorts to do, showcasing some of the things I loved last year. I did a separate post for my favourite books of 2019, but I thought I’d share my favourite TV shows, movies, and music too.

The Year of Elton John

If I could sum up 2019, especially the last half of the year, I’d call it The Year of Elton John. Early in the year, I became obsessed with Richard Madden. When I found out he was going to be in the movie Rocketman, I knew I had to see it. I didn’t know much about Elton and really only knew his hit songs, especially those from The Lion King, plus of course “Candle in the Wind” since I loved Princess Diana and her death really shook me. A few days after I went to spend part of the summer with my best friend Krista (you can read more about that here), we went to see Rocketman in the theatre. I went into it basically just wanting to see Richard Madden and Taron Egerton on the big screen, and I left with a newfound love and respect for Elton John. I was completely captivated from beginning to end, and it was easily one of the best movies I’d seen in a very long time.

Rocketman Elton John Taron Egerton

After that, I had Elton’s music on repeat pretty much non-stop. I did the Spotify Wrapped thing for 2019, and it said I’d listened to 173 hours of Elton’s music, and that was mostly since July when I saw Rocketman. That doesn’t include the hours I listened to his music on Krista’s Alexa when we were hanging out or doing work around the house. What can I say, my obsessions are intense!

So, favourite movie of the year: Rocketman, obviously, hands down. Most listened to song, according to Spotify: “I Guess That’s What They Call it the Blues” by Elton John.

Other favourite music of 2019: Taylor Swift’s new album “Lover”. When I didn’t have Elton on repeat, I had “Lover” on repeat.

Favourite TV shows:

Bodyguard. Did I mention my obsession with Richard Madden? I watched Bodyguard early in the year based on a friend's recommendation, and then I made Krista watch it when I was living with her. Psychological thrillers aren’t usually my thing (I get scared too easily!), so this was 100% another one of those things I watched specifically because of Richard Madden. BUT...I loved it. It was intense and raw and emotional, and the whole cast was phenomenal. I’ve got my fingers crossed for another season.

Anne With an E. I’ll admit, I was hesitant to watch this show. I’m a diehard fan of the 1980s Anne mini-series starring Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie, and I was afraid I’d have trouble separating it from Anne With an E. I kept hearing amazing things about it, though, and finally one day this summer Krista announced we were watching it, put it on, and that was that. I went in with an open mind and decided to enjoy it for what it was, and I ended up loving it. The actors are fantastic, the stories are great (although there’s still a part of me that’s a tiny bit twitchy over some of the creative liberties they’ve taken with the story and characters), and I love how inclusive and diverse it is.

Good Omens. This is another one Krista and I watched together in the summer. We weren’t sure about it at first, but we ended up getting hooked. It was strange and hilarious, and it reminded me why I adore David Tennant.

Fleabag. When season two of Fleabag aired, my whole Twitter feed seemed to be full of mentions of the Hot Priest and Andrew Scott. My curiosity was piqued, especially since I love Andrew in Sherlock. Krista and I talked about watching it together, but things got a bit chaotic toward the end of my stay, so while she was away for a few days, I decided to watch it on my own. It was another show I wasn’t sure about at first but got hooked on; I ended up watching both seasons in the span of two days. It was twisted and irreverent and so, so funny. I especially loved season two, and yes, it was largely because of the Hot Priest!

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This was another show I a) resisted watching for a long time, and b) wasn’t sure about when I finally started. I loved Sabrina the Teenage Witch (still do, actually; my nine-year-old nephew and I watch it together all the time) and I kept hearing about how dark and twisted this version was. I caved in October, figuring it was the perfect show to watch around Halloween. It definitely was dark, twisted, and sometimes downright disturbing, but there’s something compulsively watchable about it, and I'm looking forward to the next season.

So, those are some of my top favourite things of 2019. It was a good year for entertainment, and this year is shaping up to be just as good and we’re only a few days in! Stay tuned for more about what I’m currently watching because I feel like I’ll have a lot to say about it. In the meantime, if you’re curious, be sure to follow me on bookstagram.

What were some of your favourite things in 2019? Do we have any faves in common?

*Please note I'm an Amazon affiliate, and some of the links in this review are affiliate links. All income made through affiliate sales goes directly back into maintaining Ramblings of a Daydreamer. Thank you for your support!  

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: A Year in Review

2019 has been a memorable one for a lot of reasons, both good and bad. I’ve grown and changed a lot, gained a ton of confidence, and have been through things that have left me with both literal and emotional scars. When I look back at the last twelve months, I have the urge to both laugh and cry, but overall I’d say it was a good year. I wanted it to be a year of big changes and it certainly was that. 

The highs and lows (some of which came simultaneously)

The first real curveball 2019 threw at me came in May. One day I suddenly developed what felt like really bad heartburn; when it didn’t go away after two days, I finally headed to the ER. After hours of waiting and a few tests, I was finally told I likely had gallstones and would need to spend the night to have an ultrasound in the morning. My first thought was 'Spend the night? In the hospital?!' My second thought was 'I don't care, just give me drugs'. By that point, I was crawling out of my skin because I was in so much pain (afterward I had a couple of friends tell me they'd had gallstones and the pain was as bad as or worse than childbirth).

They put me on heavy-duty drugs and by some miracle, I got my own little cubby-like room in Emergency where I spent the night. The ultrasound the next morning confirmed I did indeed have gallstones. I was told I could go home and would be contacted soon by a surgeon who would assess me and likely want to remove my gallbladder. I felt okay as I left (except for being queasy), but by the time I got into a taxi to go home, the pain was returning. It increased throughout the day and I wasn’t able to keep anything down - including the morphine they’d prescribed me. I ended up back in Emerg the next morning, where they did another ultrasound and then admitted me.

Long story short(er): besides the gallstones, I also had jaundice and pancreatitis, so they decided to keep me so they could manage my pain (I was at a level 8 or 9 by the time they admitted me), give me antibiotics, monitor my blood work, and prepare me for surgery. In the week leading up to my surgery, I had an MRI (not gonna lie, I’m still traumatized by that), and a procedure where they put me under and basically shoved the gallstones back into my gallbladder. They removed my gallbladder two days later, and I was sent home the next day after being in the hospital for a total of nine days. I spent the next six-ish weeks recovering.

This whole thing was obviously physically trying, but it was the emotional aspect that’s had a lasting effect. This was the hospital where my dad spent countless days and weeks while he was dying of cancer in the early 90s. This was the hospital where my Grama died eight years ago. There have been good things there too - all four of my brother’s children were born there, and I was present for my youngest nephew’s birth. But that hospital stirs up a lot of stuff for me. Then there was the fact the elderly woman in the bed next to me was dying. Her family was there pretty much 24/7, which made resting difficult. The constant noise (they made no effort whatsoever to be quiet, day or night) added to my stress, but somewhere along the way, this ragtag group of people adopted me and my mum and we became this strange little family in the span of a few days. I listened to them say their goodbyes over and over, pray over her with ministers, tell her they loved her, share stories and memories, all while quietly crying from my side of the privacy curtain. Being attached to an IV and being weak from not eating (I was on a liquid diet my entire stay because they were never sure when I might have surgery) meant I was stuck in my room a lot of the time, so I was an unwilling witness - and at times participant - to this family’s final goodbyes.

me in the hospital with gallstones, jaundice, and pancreatitis before having my gallbladder removed

It stirred up so many emotions over my own beloved Grama’s death. It set off a chain of events that would lead to me feeling like I was in mourning all over again, even though it’s been eight years since she died. That whole experience changed me in many ways. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but I feel like I dealt with mild PTSD in the following months. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t think of anything other than my hospital stay. I’d replay it all over and over in my mind. I’d have strange, vivid dreams, and wake up thinking I was still in the hospital. Despite all of that, I was honestly amazed by my own strength. I managed to stay calm throughout my whole stay and all the various procedures and tests, plus the emotional trauma. My best friend Krista came to visit me one night and when she took my mum home, she told her how surprised and proud she was at how calm and collected I was. Having known me for thirty years, I think she probably expected me to be a blubbering mess, but I guess all that yoga, meditation and inner work I’d been doing earlier in the year really paid off!

The whole experience was also a really interesting and enlightening reminder of who my true friends are. Krista checked in with me every single day (which you might expect since we're lifelong best friends, but we don't normally talk daily), as did my amazing friend Jaimie who lives in Wales, and another friend who lives on the West Coast. A few other friends checked in regularly during and after the whole ordeal, and the people who didn’t bother to check in, despite knowing what was going on, confirmed things I already knew about how important our friendship was to them. That was further compounded by the other low point in 2019…

Just a few weeks after my surgery, my mum’s only sister lost her long, brave battle with cancer. We knew she was terminal and it was only a matter of time, but she suffered so much. It was agony watching my mum’s anticipatory grief, knowing what was coming, and then the full-on grief of actually losing my aunt. The visitation and funeral - which were an incredible tribute to my aunt, with hundreds and hundreds of people attending - were like a nightmare for my family. My aunt’s death also continued to stir up that shallowly-buried grief over my Grama.

Even the greatest high of my year had an undertone of deep sadness. My amazing best friend decided it was time to buy a house and she did exactly that. She said she’d need to get a roommate in the fall to help with expenses, and we joked about me living with her for part of the summer as a trial run since she’d lived alone for so long. The joking soon turned serious, and I ended up living with Krista in her brand new house for six wonderful weeks this summer. It was an incredible experience; Kingston is my favourite city and, I mean, who doesn’t dream of living with their lifelong best friend at some point? The whole thing was an exercise in me stepping outside my comfort zone over and over in big ways and small. We did so many fun things together, including a Harry Potter photoshoot at Queen’s University, a visit to a brewery, fun days with her family, hikes, plus we ate lots of amazing food (I tried sushi for the first time and loved it).

But...during the six weeks I was there, Krista’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, went into the hospital, and died. You hear of it happening quickly for some people, but to actually have it happen within your own family was shocking and heartbreaking. One minute they were talking about a course of treatment, and the next she was in the hospital, not expected to survive. Adding to the difficulty: the fact Krista’s grandma lived four hours away so it wasn't easy to just pop up for visits. Now here’s the funny thing (obviously not funny-haha): I was originally only supposed to stay for a month. One day Krista randomly said I could stay longer if I wanted to, and in that moment, I knew there was a reason for me to stay. I was sure of it. Turns out that reason was that Krista had to leave several times to go visit her grandmother, and then she was gone for a few days for the funeral, so I stayed to look after the house and the cats. Krista provides foster care for the local animal rescue, and during the summer she had her own three cats, plus a mama and four babies. Two of the kittens weren’t well when Krista had to leave for the funeral, so I was there to take care of them. I was also there as emotional support for Krista, who would otherwise have had to deal with all of this largely on her own.

But that took me right back to having my own Grama ‘issues’ stirred up. I tried so hard to be strong for Krista (and for her mother when she came to visit us), but I would break down anytime we talked about her grandma. I’m one of those people whose emotions are always very close to the surface and I cry at the drop of a hat, so it was difficult to keep it together, even though I wanted so badly to be strong for Krista. We’ve been friends for thirty years, and I feel like this year cemented our friendship in so many ways. We spent those six weeks together, I visited her again in November for a few days, and she came to spend Christmas Eve with my family, which was absolutely amazing. I’m so, so incredibly grateful to have such an incredible friend.

Krista and Marie best friends forever

Writing career highlights:

In the spring, I finished writing my contemporary romance, Maybe You, and published it in June. I also pulled out an old manuscript that I finished writing two years ago and revised it for publication. Hung Up on You will be hitting e-readers worldwide on January 14th, 2020! I’m so excited to share this story with fellow romance lovers. I’ve also dabbled in a few other projects throughout the year and have a good start on my writing for next year.

Back to the '90s

One of the other highlights of my year was attending a '90s Nostalgia concert in the Toronto area this summer. The line-up included S Club Party (formerly S Club 7, who I was obsessed with for years and still listen to regularly), Aqua, Vengaboys, Right Said Fred, and Prozzak. It was co-hosted by Rick "The Temp" Campanelli, who I grew up watching on Much Music. The whole thing was incredible and was just the balm my '90s-loving heart needed. You can see pictures and videos by visiting my Instagram account (@rambling_daydreamer) and clicking on the highlight called '90s Party.

That's a wrap

Honestly, in a lot of ways this year made me feel like I was being tested. I’ve definitely had worse years and despite everything that happened, I wouldn’t even say this year was bad, just emotional and trying. When I think back to the beginning of the year, I feel like a different person now. I’m stronger, smarter, and more confident. I’m more willing to step outside my comfort zone, and I’m learning to go with the flow more since life has a way of making you veer off the expected course. I was going to share my goals for 2020 in this post, but considering it’s already novel-length (I’m sorry! And thank you, sincerely, if you've made it this far), I guess that’ll have to wait until my next post.

How was 2019 for you? What were some of the highlights? Or the lows, if you're comfortable sharing?

Previous Yearly Recaps:
2018: A Year in Review
2017: A Year in Review
2016: A Year in Review
Looking Back on 2015
Reflecting on 2014 and Looking at the Year Ahead 
2012: A Year in Review
2010: A Year in Review
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