Get Hooked! :)

Hooked by Ev BishopWow, it’s been a super fun, super busy few days! Huge thanks to everyone who purchased Hooked this week (I hope you love it!), and to all those who left such kind reviews. It’s very exciting and I’m incredibly grateful. :)

For those of you who haven’t gotten Hooked yet, bump it up on your to-read list, will you? (Hee hee, just joking–though I’m serious that Hooked is a perfect weekend read.)

Here are the first two chapters, just to whet your appetite.

Hooked by Ev Bishop

~ Chapter 1 ~

Sam was fresh from the shower, barefoot and dressed only in a robe. She wrapped her arms around herself and turned in a slow circle. Five stars or not, a hotel room was always just a hotel room, wasn’t it? It was beautiful with its teak four-poster bed, matching highboy and desk, and snow-white linens, but generic nonetheless.

She settled into the leather wingback chair, the room’s best feature in her opinion, and put her feet up. A niggle of surprise tickled her as she uncapped a pen and reached for her spiral bound notebook. Who’d have thought? Samantha Kendall using a diary. But she couldn’t help it. The movement of her hand across page, the scent of the paper, the process of filling the sheet with the mess in her head—slowly at first, then so fast her hand cramped—soothed her and helped her see more clearly than she had in a long time. Her life, once so beautiful and busy, felt empty. Come to think of it maybe that was the appeal of the journaling. She filled something. Created a tangible mark that she was here. That she lived.

The coffee pot on the desk across the room sighed and sputtered.

“Ah, my faithful friend,” she whispered, then got up, doctored herself a mug of the dark espresso blend, and settled down again.

She sipped her hot drink and drummed her fingers on her notebook. What to say, what to say?

She paused, drank more coffee, and ran her fingers through her damp hair. Finally she began to write.

Sheesh, three pages minimum is going to take hours today.

But it didn’t. By the time she had two cups of caffeine in her, she’d churned out her minimum, plus another three pages—yet she wasn’t calmed. She was edgier than ever. She scanned the last page, bit her lip and barely resisted the urge to tear the sheets loose and throw them away.

There’s nothing I hate more than my sister being right about anything, but I have to hand it to Jo. She is right about this, and the pros and cons I wrote yesterday confirm it.

I always figured Aisha would reenter my life at some point, if only, like seems to be the case, for medical information and “closure.” (How I hate that damn word!) I just thought I’d be at a spot in time, personally and professionally, that I could be proud of—or at least not a bloody embarrassment. But at the same time, I guess it’s not about me, is it? (Ha ha, quick, someone tell Jo I actually said that!) I would’ve done anything to have someone to talk to, when I was stuck in the same boat Aisha’s in, so how can I refuse her request to meet?

My two biggest fears: that she’ll ask about the asshole who fathered her. (What can I say about him that won’t just be a huge ugly shadow over her?), or that she’ll hate me—which is pretty hilarious because I definitely don’t want her in my life permanently.

That was the line that stopped her. She shook her head, crossed the last line out, drew an arrow, and scribbled furiously.

That she’ll hate me, which I’ll totally understand, or worse, want something I don’t have to give her. All of my love for her went out the door with her the day I gave her a chance for a better life. (Not that it seems to have panned out—but don’t even get me started!) And what if she does want a relationship? I have no frigging clue what I’ll do.

Samantha closed the book, and stashed it in her suitcase.

She paid special attention to her outfit and did her makeup and hair just so, but it wasn’t until she sprayed a light mist of perfume in front of her and walked through it that she admitted she’d made up her mind.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. She’d return to Greenridge. She’d see if she could be of any help to Aisha and answer any awkward questions her biological daughter had.

And then, so long as Jo and Callum were willing to let her monopolize one of their B & B cabins—and why wouldn’t they? Her cash was as good as anyone’s—she’d spend some concentrated time figuring out what exactly she wanted next and why her life, which she’d always enjoyed, wasn’t enough for her these days.

She cocked her head, smiled at her reflection in the mirror, and nodded approval at both the image she projected and her new thoughts. She was an excellent planner and there was no reason she couldn’t get herself back on track. And once she had a new direction, she’d leave Greenridge in the dust and never return. The place was a black hole. In lieu of a welcome sign at the beginning of town, there should be a plaque that read, “Abandon all hopes of having a life, ye who enter here.”

And if Jo wanted to visit now and again? Well, she’d have to sojourn out of her hobbit village and head for the city. Sam was done with the ghost town of bad memories. She was sick of the family-focused “great place to raise kids” motto that everyone in town seemed to spout. Not everyone had kids or even wanted them. And she was beyond weary of how the place reminded her that except for her one solitary sibling, Jo, she had no family. Everyone was dead. There’d be no TV movie worthy reunion or redemption scene. Greenridge was like one big beer commercial for all the things she didn’t have. And didn’t want, she reminded herself.

~ Chapter 2 ~

Charles tripped over the stuffed-to-bursting rucksack he’d stowed by his office door and stared at the ringing phone like it might bite. The call display showed T.C.O. Literary Management all too clearly, and unfortunately his agent Theresa, the “T” in T.C.O., knew he was home. After all, he’d just sent an e-mail seconds ago admitting it. He sighed heavily and picked up.

“Theresa, hi. Good to hear from you.”

“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, and get real. You knew that e-mail wasn’t going to fly.”

“But—”

“And no buts.” Her voice softened. “I feel for you. You know I do. And I’m on your side even if it doesn’t feel like it, but it’s time, Charlie. Past time. And if you can’t see that, maybe it’s time to rethink your career.”

Charles sank into his office chair and rolled back and forth across the room. He didn’t want to “rethink” his work. He loved what he did, what he wrote. Or he used to. And anyway, it wasn’t like he hadn’t considered doing something else. Just absolutely nothing came to him that didn’t sink him even more deeply into the mire of apathy and disillusionment he seemed unable to pull himself from. And now, with Aisha living only God knew where and insisting she was staying there to have her baby, he didn’t even have the occasional bright spot of her presence.

“You’ve used up all your reserve books, even your earliest ones that were previously unpublished for pretty good reasons. It’s just a good thing some readers don’t care what you write as long as the story says Jax Bailey on the cover.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“Oh, you know what I mean. Don’t get pissy. I love your books. You’ve earned reader loyalty, but even diehard fans are starting to grumble on the Interwebs. You can only play the dead wife card for so long before people start to think you need to get over it.”

Charles managed to not throw the phone across the room, but only just.

Theresa seemed to sense she’d crossed a line. “Sorry, that was crass. Obviously, healing isn’t an easy one, two, three process. I know you’re doing the best you can, just barely hanging on, and I know it will take time—but I’d hate to see you lose everything you worked so hard to build.”

Too late. Everything he’d worked for died when Maureen did. Still, Theresa wasn’t the enemy and she was on his side. He knew this. He also knew he’d probably exhausted every possible extension. He made a decent living, and Maureen’s life insurance had paid off the mortgage and left a little besides, but not enough to see him through life—and definitely not enough to provide ongoing stability to Aisha and her little one, should she decide to keep it. And he was a young(ish) man still. Forty-four was nowhere near the time to retire even if it felt closer to eighty these days.

“They need a new book, or, and it’s pretty nice of them, almost human in fact, they’ll forgive the contract without penalty, but if you ever want to write for them again, it’ll be like starting new.”

Perish the thought—and no, that wasn’t melodrama. “How long?” he asked.

“I got you six months, but that’s it, final offer, last extension.”

“Okay,” he said.

“Okay?” Even though their connection was a little static-filled, the surprise in Theresa’s voice was loud and clear. “Just like that you say okay?

“Do I have a choice?”

“No, but I still thought you’d be a harder sell.”

They wrapped the conversation up quickly from there, and Charles was careful to sound more positive than he felt. Six months, if he was his old self, was more than enough time to get a solid book to his publisher. But he wasn’t his old self, and didn’t think he ever would be again. Maureen had been gone three years, yet in some ways it was like she’d passed away yesterday, the grief would hit so fresh and raw. In other ways, however, it was like she’d left a lifetime ago, which, hard as it was, was sort of the truth. Neither his nor Aisha’s lives were the same. They had new existences altogether, as if their time on earth had been divided into separate realities: Life with Mo. Life without her.

He stood up, scooted his chair under his desk and turned off his computer, then grabbed his laptop. He was sick of himself and the endless woe-to-me pool he wallowed in. Even his self-pitying thought about everything he’d worked for dying when Maureen did wasn’t fully honest. Only half of what he worked for and lived for had passed on when she did. He still had their daughter, and who knows, maybe a grandbaby too.

He hit the lights and hefted his bag. Soon, with any luck, he’d be in a better writing space and headspace. For a moment he wondered if he should’ve told Theresa his plan, then shook his head. Where he spent his time wasn’t her business and she’d just worry. Besides, though she’d be skeptical, he could write—or not write—just as easily in the boonies as he could at home.

And if Aisha was intent on setting up a temporary home in Greenridge, wherever that was, with this aunt whoever she was, in the hopes of connecting with her birth mom—who back in the day had seemed level-headed, but now he worried was a callous flake . . . well, he wasn’t going to just abandon her to the wolves and wilds. He’d take up residence in one of the cabins that were “so far beyond cool that he couldn’t possibly imagine how cool they were,” to quote Aisha, and support her in whatever ways he could. She was the only family he had left, and if anything came between them, damaged their relationship, or hurt her, it would be over his dead body.

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Buy Hooked, River’s Sigh B & B Book 2, today:

Amazon ~ Kobo ~ iTunes ~ Barnes & Noble

Paperbacks coming soon!

– – – – – – – – – – – –

I hope you’ll give Hooked a try, and if you’d be kind enough to share word of it to your friends or family in case it’s just the type of story they love, I’d be thrilled and very appreciate.

Have a wonderful weekend, filled with (I hope!) some uninterrupted reading time.

:) Ev

p.s. If you buy Hooked–or have already bought it–don’t forget to play in the contest! Hooked_Contest

Cora Seton Facebook Party – woot, woot!

In a super fun twist of fate and coincidence, my good friend and fellow author–the fabulous storyteller extraordinaire Cora Seton–and I both ended up launching new books yesterday. Happy belated book birthday to us!

22f43ff1-9e0a-4f61-8b82-b399013512f3-1Hooked by Ev Bishop

Buy them on Amazon: The Airman’s E-mail Order Bride ~ Hooked

On Kobo: The Airman’s E-mail Order Bride ~ Hooked

On B & N  ~The Airman’s E-mail Order Bride ~ Hooked

On iTunes ~ The Airman’s E-mail Order Bride ~ Hooked

To celebrate her Airman, Cora’s throwing a Facebook party and we’re all invited to attend! There will be tons of door prizes and free books, great chat with nine guest authors–Amity Lassiter, Sharon Hamilton, Kimberley Troutte, Jennifer Lowery, Anne Marsh, Lynn Raye Harris, Zoe York, and Elle James–and miscellaneous fun and games. Please come and join in the fun. Just click this link, then show up. :)  I’ll be in and out of the party room all day, and I’ll be co-hosting a special slot 1:00 – 1:30 PST.  Hope to see you there!

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It’s here! Hooked by Ev Bishop (River’s Sigh B & B #2)

EvBishop_Hooked_200pxDear Readers,

Yay and finally! Hooked, River’s Sigh B & B #2, is ready for your reading delight. :) Please join me in the adventure, and watch for little celebrations all week. Happy reading! I hope you get hooked on Hooked.

Buy Hooked, River’s Sigh B & B #2, today:

Amazon ~ Kobo ~ iBooks ~ Page Foundry ~

It will be available for Nook at Barnes & Noble soon and is up at a few other online venders as well. Paperbacks are available through various online distributors–and watch for signed copies at Misty River Books in Terrace and Eddie’s News in Prince Rupert. Hooray!

Sign up for my newsletter to receive the latest on upcoming books, contests, and miscellaneous tidbits and occasional free content.

Hooked by Ev Bishop

Knocked around by life—and then knocked up by a man she won’t speak of—Sam Kendall gives her baby for adoption.

Envisioning herself a lone cowboy, she avoids any relationships that might risk her heart or cause pain. There’s wonderful fun to be had if you don’t fall prey to the ludicrous notion of true love!

Lately, however, Sam is niggled by doubts. She’s not as content as she was. Plus her daughter Aisha has tracked her down—seventeen-years-old and pregnant. Despite misgivings, Sam checks into River’s Sigh Bed-and-Breakfast to meet her.

Then widower Charles Bailey, Aisha’s adoptive father, shows up, and Sam can’t control her outrage. What was her sacrifice for? She could’ve raised the kid to follow her stupid footsteps all on her own. And topping it off? Charlie’s a neurotic, stodgy jerk—even if he is ridiculously hot.

The longer Sam stays at River’s Sigh, exploring the wild outdoors—and her own inner desires—the more her terror grows. Maybe Charlie isn’t so terrible after all. Maybe his approach to life is actually refreshing. Maybe all this family stuff is something she could get hooked on.

Yet they’re opposites in every way, and worse: he’s her biological child’s adoptive dad. A romance between them would be too weird, wouldn’t it? Every part of Sam screams play it safe, run.

But what if, in spurning Charlie and Aisha, she’s turning her back on everything she never knew she wanted?

4 More Sleeps ’til HOOKED by Ev Bishop launches!

Eeii! I’ve been excited for weeks, but now only four more sleeps ’til Hooked hits the shelves. I can’t wait. I love River’s Sigh B & B (wish I could literally visit it), and the more time I spend with Jo and Callum–and Hooked’s Sam and Charlie–the more I want to spend. I’m so hoping you’ll feel the same way.

So today’s treat: a glimpse at the full cover, back jacket and all. Huge thanks to Kim Killion and her wonderful staff at The Killion Group for the gorgeous work.

EvBishop_Hooked_Full_cover

I have lots of treats planned next week to celebrate the birth of Hooked, River’s Sigh B & B, #2, including a contest, a Facebook party with Cora Seton whose The Airman’s E-mail Order Bride hits shelves June 16th too, and a couple of *secret* things too. I hope you’ll join in the fun.

Wishing you an adventure and story packed weekend,
Ev

p.s. If you haven’t read Wedding Bands (Book 1 in the River’s Sigh B & B series) yet, don’t worry. Hooked totally stands on its own. That said, what are you waiting for? Buy it today. :) Paperbacks are available at the wonderful Misty River Books in Terrace and Eddie’s News in Prince Rupert or online, and in eBook pretty much everywhere.

Bigger Things by Ev Bishop = RONE Award finalist!

2015_03_Chick-Lit-Womens_Fiction_FINI have incredibly exciting news! (Well, exciting to me anyway, lol.) Bigger Things made the second cut for InD’Tale Magazine’s RONE Award in the Women’s Fiction category. Yay! Now it goes to the third and final phase: a judging panal. A huge thanks to each of you who read Bigger Things and voted for me. I appreciate both very much. Should I win, you bet I’ll let you know . . . and even if it goes no further now, I’m honored to have made it this far. :)

And in the meantime, if there’s someone in your life you think would enjoy Bigger Things, please let them know it exists. Word of mouth is a wonderful thing and I’m beyond grateful (kind of dizzy and thrilled, actually!) when kind people recommend my stories.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, filled with sunshine, time in the dirt, laughter with friends and a good book.

:) Ev

rsz_biggerthings_evbishoppromoadAvailable online at:

Chapters – eBook AND paperback

Kobo – eBook

Page Foundry – eBook

Smashwords – eBook

Amazon.com – eBook AND paperback

Amazon.ca – eBook AND paperback

Amazon.co.uk – eBook AND paperback

Barnes & Noble (Nook)
– eBook AND paperback

iTunes/iBook
– eBook

Within all this darkness, there is hope?

A good friend of mine, J.H. Moncrieff, has exciting news this month—her novella The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave just came out through Samhain Publishing as part of their Childhood Fears Series.

I almost postponed blogging about it, however, because of bitter, terrible news. My brain tries to skirt it. I feel sick to the point of nausea and wanting to vomit when my mind presses even lightly on the tiniest shards of it. I can’t imagine—and I can. And I hate it and would do anything to change it. Would trade my limbs, my life, if I could. There are types of pain that the brain doesn’t know how to process.

So why on earth post a blurb promoting a horror story right now of all times? Well, for the same reason I write and read. Good stories delve into those most tender parts of the human psyche—parts that, to me at least, seem inexorably linked: what we love and what we fear. When we’re suffering (and we all do at various times in various ways), they offer a much-needed escape—but even more so, they acknowledge and spend time mucking about in the things that hurt us most and can be a form of catharsis.

In an English Lit course once, studying Ann-Marie MacDonald’s amazing but brutal Fall On Your Knees, one of the students—a woman who was so quiet I had literally never heard her voice until that day—spoke up when a bunch of other students were whining and griping about some of the novel’s content, how “dark” it was, and how they shouldn’t “have” to read it. The prof was understandably disheartened by their attitude and said something like, “So why do you think there might be value or a point in reading stories that are hard emotionally?”

The quiet woman held up her hand and even the professor’s face registered surprise. “Yes?” she asked.

“For me . . . ” The woman spoke with a slight accent and turned red the minute she opened her mouth. “When I read stories of what other people have survived through, it makes me think I can survive too.”

Then she dropped her head, picked up her pen and busied herself writing something down. The whole class was stunned silent for a moment.

And her words have stayed with me because she summed up, so concisely, one the reasons I have always read so voraciously. It makes me think I can survive. And it gives me a bruised and bleeding hope that people I love can too.

I’m sorry that my introduction to J.H. Moncrieff isn’t cheerier—but I do sincerely hope you’ll pick up her novella, whether it’s just for a thrill and escape, or whether you have something you wish to forget for a bit, or even if you, like me, have your own demons you’re wrestling with right now.

In a weird coincidence with my thinking about why I write and read, when I was chatting with Holli earlier this month about her book, I asked her if she’d care to share what draws her to horror as a reader and a writer. Here are her thoughts.

Once I learned to read, I couldn’t stop. I was a veritable book addict, and pretty soon I’d worked my way through the children’s section at my local library.

My mom was a reader as well, and her collection kept me going. I loved it all—racy Sidney Sheldon mysteries, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Rosemary’s Baby, even her Jackie Collins bodice rippers. I read anything I could get my hands on, and one thing I’ll say for my mom—she never censored what I read.

In spite of the presence of Rosemary’s Baby on her bookshelves, she claimed to hate horror. It was strange, then, to find a few Stephen King paperbacks among several garbage bags full of books that were hidden under the basement stairs.

I’d always been titillated by scary stories—there was something irresistible about reading books and watching movies that were considered “off limits” for someone my age. Who can resist the forbidden?

Mom claimed not to know where the paperbacks had come from, but as usual, she didn’t care if I read them. So my very first King experience was Different Seasons, and I couldn’t have chosen a better book. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption…Apt Pupil…The Body. They are still some of the finest stories I’ve ever read.

From that moment on, I was hooked. My first published story was about a vampire who ran around devouring everything (I’d recently learned the word ‘devour’ and loved it.) As an adult, I initially preferred to write mysteries and psychological suspense, but all my novels had one thing in common—they were dark. Very dark. I decided to embrace the darkness.

Done well, horror can make us question our preconceived ideas. It presents the worst-case scenario so we can think about how we’d deal with the same situation. A thrilling horror story will grab us and hypnotize us, forcing us to turn page after page until it’s finished. (I’ve lost many nights of sleep to Stephen King.) And there are no guarantees with this genre—horror writers never promise their readers a happily ever after.

Sadly, there is quite a bit of crap cluttering the genre, and it’s given horror a bad name. But there are writers who grew up reading the masters, who truly love horror, and who are determined to keep elevating the genre. So within all this darkness, there is hope. [Emphasis mine.]

J. H. Moncrieff

J. H. Moncrieff

J.H. Moncrieff loves scaring people with her books, and she blogs about the supernatural, the creepy, and the mysterious on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. In her “spare” time, J.H. travels to exotic locales, advocates for animal rights, and practices Muay Thai kickboxing.

Her newest release is The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave:

Still grieving the untimely death of his dad, ten-year-old Josh Leary is reluctant to accept a well-worn teddy bear from his new stepfather. He soon learns he was right to be wary. Edgar is no ordinary toy, and he doesn’t like being rejected. When Josh banishes him to the closet, terrible things happen.

Desperate to be rid of the bear, Josh engages the help of a friend. As the boys’ efforts rebound on them with horrifying results, Josh is forced to accept the truth — Edgar will always get even.

J.H. Moncrieff: Website | Twitter | Facebook
The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave: Amazon | Samhain | Kobo | B&N | Trailer

Happy Belated Mother’s Day . . . All is Right

My latest Terrace Standard column seems an appropriate thing to share on the heels of Mother’s Day. . . . I did most of my young mothering without my own mother or mother-in-law around to help or offer advice and I’ve always wondered if that loss and lack made me more neurotic than other moms. More and more, however, I feel comforted (er, wrong word, perhaps, but the closest I can find) that no, most of us feel wildly unprepared and terrified for every stage of our children’s lives, even while we’re thrilled and excited for them. Thoughts?

p.s. A special call out to my lovely, supportive step mom who is always the first to reassure me that all my angst is normal and that you never fully stop worrying about your kids.

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Are you sure going over there is a good idea? No, are you _sure_? Hey, I asked are you really, surely, _sure_?! - Photo by Don McCullough.

Are you sure going over there is a good idea? No, are you _sure_? Hey, I asked are you really, surely, _sure_?! – Photo by Don McCullough.

All is Right

When my children were small, I used to tiptoe into their rooms at night to watch their sweet sleeping faces. I would say it was for their benefit, that I wanted to make sure they were settled, but really it was to reassure myself that this loveliest of experiences was real. No matter what stress or problems nagged or future worries loomed, in the now, my children were sleeping, were safe.
 
I’ve never lost the awe and gratitude I felt at their births. Even now, I sometimes gawk at grown-up them and feel overwhelmed with it.
 
There were trying times through the years, of course. Exhaustion, heartbreak, turmoil, and guilt. (Ah, guilt that horrible part and package of becoming a parent, seeing first hand that no matter how hard you try, you’ll still fail them and be completely inadequate in some pretty crucial ways.) Yet through it all, the dominant emotion I associate with parenting was—and is—joy. Joy and deep thankfulness.
 
That said, the last two or so years have been tough. I knew my job would change once my children became adults, but I didn’t know how or in what ways—and I fully counted on my worrying about them to decrease. (I hear you other parents of adult kids laughing right now, and it’s not helpful. Not helpful at all!) More frequently than ever before, I was at a loss for what to do, what to say. . . .
 
Thanks to help from parents I admired and to a lot of reading, I knew how to rear babies and toddlers (which isn’t to say I did so well—but I knew the basics and could aspire to higher things). Ditto children and tweens. And I was one of those annoying parents who enjoyed raising my teenagers. (Don’t worry: I also pulled out a lot of hair and wept buckets too. I think that’s the developmental norm for parents of children that age.)
 
But adulthood? Somehow, seemingly overnight, I was supposed to trust we’d instilled the tools they needed to maneuver life, provide for themselves, build healthy relationships, etc., etc.
 
For a while, I went backward in my parenting skills. I struggled (struggle!) with letting go. It’s just that I have all this hope and love and desire for them, coupled with a truth we all learn pretty quickly: life can kick the heart out of you sometimes. I desperately wanted (want!) to spare them any pain. But that’s inner-Ev. Outer-Ev is more sensible and knows full well their lives and decisions are on them now—as they must be for them to mature into healthy, independent adults.
 
Thankfully, after some blue, anxious months, I had a small epiphany. My daughter was sharing some issue and as I opened my mouth to give suggestions, she held up her hand. “You don’t have to fix this, Mom. It’s not your job.”
 
A light went on. She was right. “Fixing things” for her isn’t my job anymore—and hasn’t been for some time.
 
Then I read an article, “The Danger of Micromanaging your Teenagers” by Mike Duran. It affirmed how my husband and I tried to raise our kids—and provided guidance for this next phase. He described parenting adults as a partnership. You’re still there for them, but as equals facing life together. You’re supportive, not dictatorial. Available, but not hovering.
 
I know I’ll be tempted to micromanage or to give more advice than is appropriate again (It’s just so hard not to look at them and see the toddlers who needed so much of me!), but I’ve been at peace since getting this tidbit of insight.
 
Will I still sneak into their bedrooms to check on them if I get the chance? Of course! Heh. Got you. Of course not. Part of me, however, will always want to. Just to know they’re all right. And to reassure myself that this loveliest of all experiences is real. I am the parent of adults, and in the now, they’re safe. 

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“All is Right” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, April 29, 2015 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”