Beauty and the Beast

A Beauty and the Beast March Break

Today is a good day!  Not only is it the first day of spring – coming to you in about one minute now! – but my kids are back to school after March break. #amwriting all day today!

I call it a Beauty and the Beast break; not only did we watch the movie (more in a minute) but while it’s lovely being able to spend time with my kids, at times it can be a bit beastly. Two teenagers plus one who wants to do everything they can, no vacation planned, frigid cold snap keeping us inside, and a mother getting twitchy because she isn’t writing – things got a little beastly at times!  But for the most part, it was a beautiful week off.

We started off the week with a bang at iFly Toronto. If you’ve ever thought about skydiving but not sure if you can make the jump, give iFly a try. So much fun! It was the second time for me but first for kids. And hubby did it too!

Beauty and the Beast – the Movie

Little S and I have been eagerly waiting for Beauty and the Beast to hit theaters on Friday. And we were so happy that it did not disappoint!

I’ve never been a huge fan of Beauty and the Beast. Not sure why – the feisty fearlessness of Belle should have been a draw for me. For some reason, Little Mermaid has always been my favourite. But watching Emma Watson as Belle has me converted! In my mind, no one else could have played the part. Like Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter series, Belle was the perfect role for her.

The other characters were amazing as well, especially Luke Evans’ Gaston. He was almost likable until he wasn’t. Le Fou was a perfect sidekick.

If you haven’t seen it yet, make a point to go. And it’s not just for women – my thirteen-year-old son tagged along and he didn’t hate it!

Watching Spring Springing

I know winter isn’t over, and I know there will be another dump of snow, but I feel so hopeful that spring is on its way! I’ve noticed a few crocus popping up in the gardens and there’ll be more before the week is out. We sat on the porch last night, so I’m pretty optimistic good weather is right around the corner. But maybe I’m just happy that the kids are going back to school! It’s been a good week with them, but today I am writing, all alone in the house! Coming Home is out April 11 (Pre-order now!) and The Best Worst First Date has been calling to me for weeks. But I wanted to show a little love to my blog first, and wish you all a Happy Spring!

 

 

 

 

Happy Women’s Day

I’m forgoing WWW Wednesday in favour of a few quotes about the awesomeness of women!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally from my favourite creator of strong women, Joss Whedon….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Women’s Day and spend the day celebrating being the best woman you can be!

 

Going back to Coming Home

Coming Home has come home to Holly

Picking a Favourite

For writers, books are like children – it’s impossible to have a favourite.

When my kids ask who my favourite child is, I always tell them I love them equally and for different reasons.

I feel the same way about the books I’ve written. I love Unexpecting because it was my first published and because of the secondary characters, Cooper and Emma and Brit. I love Absinthe because of the friendship of the women, and the twist at the end (which was fun to write!) I love Charlotte because I found I love writing action sequences, and I love Dragon for my kids.

 

 

I love Coming Home because…

And there lies the problem. Coming Home is the black sheep of my book family. I love it but…

…it has issues.

The History

Coming Home was published in 2013, by Etopia Press. The first time one of my books had been sold to a publisher, which helped validate my new attempt at a writing career. I loved the story – five sisters who grew up in a tiny little town in Northern Ontario; two of which loved each other but really never got along.

I still love the story. I love the characters and the interactions and the fight scene between… (oops, spoiler!)

I dedicated the book to my sister, because after she left a tumultuous marriage, I felt like I was getting my sister back in my life. Not only getting my sister back, but finding a new friend. Coming Home has a lot of personal meaning for me and I was ecstatic when I sold it to Etopia.

Last year, I starting working on finding my brand and all those fun marketing things that authors now need to deal with. I had covers re-did, changed some things around; I’m an independent author/publisher now, so I can do that! 🙂 I looked at Coming Home.

I couldn’t do a thing with it. I couldn’t change the description on-line, drop the price for a sale, change the cover (which doesn’t really fit with my others). My hands were tied, which wasn’t a nice feeling after doing everything myself for the last 4 years! So I started wondering what I could do. Coming Home never really sold well for Etopia. It’s mainly a romance publisher, and my book isn’t a romance. Plus, there was the edit problem when it first came out…

I’m not about to trash Etopia because they are lovely people. But let’s just say I was never really happy with the final version of the book. 

And now…

Long story short, I got the rights for Coming Home back from the publisher! And I’m about to re-release it into the world, under my Three Birds Press imprint.

New cover – same title

Same story – complete overhaul

I wrote Coming Home at the beginning of my career and I have to admit, I’m a MUCH better writer now! I’m almost finished the revisions – I’ve changed the POV from first person, to third, which is a bit of an undertaking. With critique partners now. Sending it to the editor next week. Cover reveal next week, and pre-order date.

I can’t say how much I’M IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK!

It’s like the first time, all over again. It’s getting excited about a scene or a line of dialogue in the middle of the night, rushing to wake up to begin working on it. I can’t wait for people to read it! I’ll have to do a giveaway. In fact, I’m so happy with my changes that I want to offer a copy (paperback or ebook) to anyone who read the other version, just so they can see how much better it is! (Corinne, are you out there?)

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. This is why my blog has been neglected. This is why I had to push off any thoughts of a book tour for The Best Worst First Date because it’s not ready! This is why my daughter is mad at me because I won’t work on her Dragon book! Coming Home has consumed me. I planned for a week of quick edits, a read-through by one of my crit partners which has now turned into two months and counting of daily re-writes of chapters. Cutting – I’ve cut so much! But it’s so much better for it.

I hope I’ve gotten you excited about it, too. Because you’ll be able to read it soon! 🙂

 

Best of 2016 – My Favourite Movies, Books and T.V

Happy New Year!

2016 is over

And the consensus is that is a good thing.

Everyone can agree that a great many bad things happened in 2016. And then to top it off, only days from the end, George Michael and Carrie Fisher passed away. And her mother, Debbie Reynolds. But instead of dwelling on the negatives, I chose to look at the positives. Like all these good things that happened in 2016:

  • The manatee population is increasing! And there are more tigers. And more pandas
  • In California, 6 million homes are now powered by solar energy. And a solar-powered plane circled the world
  • India planted 50 million trees in one day
  • The Ice Bucket Challenge helped ALS researchers get one step closer to help find a cure for the disease
  • Leonardo Dicaprio won an Oscar!

A Few of My Favourite Things

Let’s start with a few lists of my favourite things from 2016.

Movies

Now, these aren’t the best movies of 2016, but the ones I was looking forward to seeing, and didn’t disappoint.

As you’ll see from my list, I go primarily for entertainment value when it comes to my movies – entertainment that often involves laughter, comic book heroes and things blowing up! What can I say – I go for mindless entertainment! I’m also a self-professed geek, and since 2 out of my 3 kids are headed that way as well, we go see a lot of ‘fun’ movies!

Favourite Movies of 2016

(in no particular order)

  • Captain America – Civil War
  • Rogue One
  • Bad Moms
  • Deadpool
  • Finding Dory
  • Dr. Strange
  • Batman vs Superman
  • Suicide Squad
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Favourite Television shows

  • Stranger Things – this Netflix show was amazing! Scarier than I expected (I ran from the room more than once, to my kids’ delight at seeing their mother scared!) Set in the 80s with a weird Lost/Stand By Me feel to it, I’m counting the days until the next season
  • Game of Thrones (season 6) – Oh, Jon Snow. And Tyrion. And Daenarys. And Arya Stark. How do I love thee?
  • The Crown – Another good one from Netflix. I’ve always been mildly interested in the royal family, but now I’m hooked!
  • Madam Secretary – Does anyone watch this? Because I never hear anything about it, but it’s terrific

Favourite Books I Read in 2016

  • Eligible (Curtis Sittenfeld) – best retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Ever.
  • Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)  – full of 80s references, this sci-fi thriller would appeal to anyone who likes action, not just the gamers. I’ve already passed it on to 2 guys I know will love it as much as I did
  • It Ends With Us (Colleen Hoover) -I read anything of hers
  • The Court of Mist and Fury (Sarah J. Maas) – the second in this YA fantasy series so much better than the first book! And I never like the second books in a series. Can’t wait for the next one
  • Kindred Spirits (Rainbow Rowell)  – Short and sweet, about two fans waiting in line for the new Star Wars movie
  • Mount (Jilly Cooper) – It’s been years since Jilly Cooper released a book and I’ve been (im)patiently waiting! This is smut, in it’s finest form
  • Nuts (Alice Clayton)
  • Dirty Rowdy Thing (Christina Lauren)  – Sexy and sweet from two of my favourite New Adult authors
  • Victoria (Daisy Goodwin) – I’m all about the royal families. Can’t wait for the series to come to Canada this month!
  • Dark Matter (Blake Crouch) – Wow. Just wow. This blew my mind. Some of the quantum physics stuff went right over my head, but wow. So good.

It’s my birthday!

It’s my Birthday today!

It’s my birthday and right now I’m on a plane coming home from vacation. I know, not the best way to celebrate, but it’s been a great trip. At least, I think it was because I’m writing this in advance of my big day. I’m sure I had a great time!

I’m very big on birthdays, for myself and others. Everyone needs a day to celebrate being you.

While I won’t go so far to reveal just what birthday this is for me, I do have a list to share.

I read a few lists on 50 Things to do before you’re 50. While that milestone is more than a few years away for me, I thought I’d make my own list.

Ten Things I’ve Learned in my 40s

  • I’ve accepted 40 isn’t as old as I once thought it was
  • How to say no/Refuse to feel obligated
  • Admit I’m okay with fewer friends, but they darn well better be good ones
  • Accept that irrational crushes are a good thing – and that I might have the same taste as my daughter!
  • Losing weight just got a whole lot harder!
  • Realize I often dress like I’m still in my 20s (comfy boho/grunge)
  • Realize I really can’t drink like I’m in my 20s anymore
  • To stop saying sorry for things I’m not responsible for
  • Not to argue with my children – discussions are okay but I am the parent here!
  • Pick your battles

While there’s still more for me to learn, I think I’m off to a good start. What about you? Got your own list to share?

 

Merry Kerr-ismas!! Happy Holly-days!!

My present to you –

Select books only 99 cents until December 27!

Looking to gift yourself something fun this Christmas? Check out Absinthe, Unexpecting or Charlotte Dodd – or all 3! Only 99p!!!

Merry Christmas to you from me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m thankful for my daughter’s cell phone

Things I am thankful for – my daughter’s cell phone!

phones3To my continual horror and amazement, I am the mother of a teenager. She is the source of laughter and frustration, joy and exasperation, worry and pride. With the teenage years, comes hormonal mood swings, later bedtimes, the growing importance of friends and the bizarre world of social media. Her cell phone is her life line. We’ve had many talks about her constant need to be in touch with people, how streaks in Snapchat are soooo important and reminding her that what she shares on-line is forever.

I’m sure my parents had issues to deal with when I was teenager, but nothing like this. And we haven’t even got to boys yet!

Anyway, I used to view K’s cell phone with a mixture of disgust and wariness. Yes, I like my phone and yes, I use social media but never to the extent that she does. I’m actually thinking of putting her in charge of my Instagram account! But to be honest, when she got the cell phone, I viewed as one more way I was losing my little girl.

Sidenote:

My husband and I are unusual in our neighbourhood – we made K responsible for her phone. She picked out the phone she wanted, pays the bills with her babysitting money. When her screen broke a few months ago, it was up to her to deal with whether to replace or repair. I’m sure not all everyone agrees with this (I’m sure K doesn’t, especially when her friends seem to get new phones every time someone sneezes on it) but we’re hoping it will teach her responsibility. I don’t want one of those kids who think they’re entitled to everything.

K is in high school, yet another way I feel I’m losing her. But thanks to her cellphone, we’ve found a new way to communicate. I’m happy that we’ve always been close, and proud that my daughter still tells me everything. (Sure, sure, you say, but I believe it’s true. Plus, nothing that exciting has happened that she would feel the need to keep from me.I’m sure this phase won’t last forever so I’m enjoying it while it lasts.) Lately, I’ve discovered a new-found appreciation for her cell phone.

It does the basics:

  • what time she’ll be home
  • lets her ask permission to do things with her friends
  • double check schedule

A handy fixture is the ability for me to double check anything I might be buying her because she rarely agrees with my sense of fashion. When she does, it’s usually joined by anger that I bought something similar to something she already has!

Favourite thing

But my favourite thing about the phone is that K texts me during the day. Sometimes she does it in class, but only when she wants to share a grade with me, or something that happened. She keeps me informed of her day and lets me be a part of it. I don’t have to wait until we’re home for the one-word answers teenagers are famous for. I have a string of texts from her – some funny and light-hearted, some proud, some disappointed.I get to share it all with her.

My son is starting high school next year and I’m not sure I’ll have the same experience. But I’ll do my best to keep up with his day, like I do with K. I’m very thankful for her phone and how it helps with our communication, because I think that’s so important for kids and parents. I’m thankful for her, too. All of my kids!

Happy thanksgiving weekend!

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A Little Extra Nostalgia – E.T. was on T.V on Sunday

When’s the last time you watched E.T?

On Friday I posted about my confusion about country music. UPDATE – I actually had to go and download several country songs Friday afternoon. The horror! I’ll try and work through it.

On Sunday, I had a few free moments (which doesn’t normally happen on a weekend, so I took advantage of it because I can’t seem to shake this silly cold I’ve had all week) and actually had the television to myself for a short time. I found E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial was playing on one of the movie channels, with only a half hour to go, so I turned it on.

It was an emotional roller-coaster.

When was the last time you watched this movie? It has been years for me – so long that my children can’t remember ever watching it with me. And they need to watch it. In 101 Movies To See Before You Grow Up, E.T. is number 10 on the list.

For those of you who don’t remember, or might have been living under a rock for theet-heart last few decades, E.T. is about a little boy (Elliot) who finds an alien stranded on Earth and living in his shed. He lures him into the house using Reese’s Pieces and Elliot’s brother and sister help hide the alien from their mother. E.T. and Elliot soon begin to share a strange connection as the kids help E.T. build a device that will let him contact his people. They both get sick, E.T. actually ‘dies’ but both recover and with help from kids on the street race to get away from the authorities in an epic bike chase. You know the one.

et-gertieThe short time I spent watching the movie brought back a ton of memories of my childhood. It came out in 1982; the iconic catchphrases still exist for many. ‘E.T. phone home.’ When E.T. touches his heart and the finger glows. ‘Ouuuch.’ Reese’s Pieces became famous from that movie. I had a stuffed E.T. and everyone wanted a little sister like Gertie. Even after 30+ years, there are so many moments from the movie that are embedded in our pop culture.

et-sickI started watching just before E.T. dies and started crying right away. I have been known to cry while watching movies, but this was a bit much, especially when I just tuned in. I chalk the waterworks up to how many times I’ve watched the movie, the love I have for it, and the nostalgia it brought while watching it.

Spoilers ahead…

I cried when he died, I cried when E.T.’s heart started to glow again. I laughed when the brother was trying to drive the van with the scientists still in the giant tube attached. I made 2 of the kids watch the bike chase with me. S was at first concerned and then amazed to find me crying, tears that would not stop!

et-movie-poster2I cried when the bikes lifted into the air and that iconic scene of the kids against the setting sun. I cried when they got into the woods and the glow of the incoming spacecraft appeared. And I was practically bawling as as they took turns saying good-bye to the beloved little alien. It was bad. Maybe it was hormonal or because I’ve been sick, but I ugly-cry-facewatched 30 minutes of that movie Sunday afternoon, and I cried during 26 of them. I was spent, exhausted… but so happy I had the experience of watching it again, and especially that 2 of my kids watched some of it with me. They made fun of me crying, once they figured out I wasn’t upset, but it nice watching it with them. We’ll watch the entire movie as a family sometime soon, and I’ll make sure I have lots of Kleenex.

101-moviesSIDENOTE

This is an awesome book if you have kids and like watching movies with them!  It’s full of little tidbits that are interesting for all.

Why is Dolly Parton singing in my head? I don’t like country music!

Maybe the title should be – Why am I writing about country music?

I don’t listen to country music. Ever. I only like Taylor Swift when she’s pop, not country. The only thing that interests me about Keith Urban is that he’s married to Nicole Kidman. (wouldn’t it be cool if he was related to Karl Urban – Bones on new Star Trek?) And Blake Shelton may be a handsome devil but his music doesn’t move me in the slightest.

My country past

conway-twittyAnd I do have one. I admit, there was a time I used to listen to country music. My childhood was spent in the country, growing up on a farm, with parents who did their best to share their love for artists like Charley Pride and Conway Twitty with their daughters. This was the time before iTunes, so unless you had your own stereo in your room, with your own supply of LPs (vinyl records for those of you millennials) you listened to the same music as your parents. Country music was in the car, with my mother singing along to Skeeter Davis’ End of the World. (thanks Kristi for coming up with the song!) Country music was always in the house. I think it might have been in the barn as well.

My first record was Kenny Roger’s Greatest Hits and to this day, I still know every word of  Coward of the County. My sister and I went to country dances at the Community Centre in Roseneath, doing our version of the two-step to the George Brothers’ band, Family Tradition. (Drummer Teddy was always my favourite!)

But as soon as I was able to trade in Kenny Rogers for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, I dukesbegan to shun country music. Cyndi Lauper took over from Waylon Jennings’ as my most listened to record (The theme from Dukes of Hazard if you must know.) I began to travel down my own music path, as far away from country as I could go. The screaming of 80s metal has nothing to do with the wailings of Tammy Wynette and was much more to my liking.

And this is where I find myself – more interested in listening to alternative pop than the grandpop of country, Hank Williams Jr. Yes, I admit I have the odd country ditty on my iTunes playlist (Kenny Rogers still has a place in my heart, as does Alabama’s Roll on Eighteen Wheeler) but the list is pretty country clean.

But then this happened…

My parents had a dance for their 50th wedding anniversary. I found myself dancing to country music. Singing along. Knowing EVERY WORD.

john-denverI chalked it up to a one-night lapse in judgement and even though I was left with the earworm Thank God I’m a Country Boy, I thought it would go away.

And then…

I started seeing commercials for the 50th CMA Awards. (Country Music Awards)

Here’s the link that’s causing all my kerfluffle. It’s got the Forever Country video, a mix of new and old artists singing a few classics, including Dolly’s I Will Always Love You. Because I watched that (I’m not telling how many times), I then had to watch the highlights of the show, including medley of hits the show started with. I knew who most of the performers were! I knew all of the songs! Because that’s what I had grown up listening to. And the tribute to Dolly Parton…wow.  I don’t know if it’s all included in the clip but watch it if you can. Amazing.

I thought I had shaken the country off my city boots, but now I’m not sure. I’m going tojolene go listen to some Green Day now, or I might find myself scrolling through Dolly’s Greatest Hits on iTunes, looking to download Jolene. Wish me luck!