Cover reveal . . . HOOKED by Ev Bishop

AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! <Shrieks excitedly and does a really strange and awkward but extremely happy little jig around her office!>

After a week of awful computer issues that, phew, phew, PHEW AND YAY are all taken care of now, I finally got into my e-mail and what did I find? The cover for my upcoming book, HOOKED, Book 2 in the River’s Sigh B & B series. I’ll post an official blurb in a few days too–but in the meantime, I couldn’t wait to share. Doesn’t it just make you want to hike into the pages and never come out? :)

Hooked by Ev Bishop

If you haven’t read Book 1, WEDDING BANDS, no worries. HOOKED completely stands alone–then again, it’s always fun to jump into a series right at the beginning and there’s plenty of time to read WEDDING BANDS before HOOKED hooks you in June. :)

EvBishop_WeddingsBands_200px(1)WEDDING BANDS is available in paperback online and at Misty River Books and in digital through a wide variety of online vendors, including:

Amazon.com ~ Amazon.ca ~ Amazon.co.uk ~ Amazon.co.au

KOBO ~ For your NOOK at Barnes & Noble ~ Apple/iBooks ~ Page Foundry ~ Scribd ~ Smashwords

Wishing you adventure in and out of the pages this weekend. Happy reading!

April is national poetry month – thoughts and a workshop

April is national poetry month and since poetry has always been a great help and boon to me emotionally, I celebrate it.

When I was twelve or thirteen or so, I discovered Zibby Oneal’s novel A Formal Feeling, a title borrowed from the first line in an Emily Dickinson poem that goes by the same name and casts light on the story’s themes. (It’s a wonderful book, by the way. I highly recommend it to YA readers, young and old . . . I mean, er, older. :D)

After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs—
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round—
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought—
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone—

This is the Hour of Lead—
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow—
First—Chill—then Stupor—then the letting go—

– Emily Dickinson

My dad had a love for Irish poetry and songs and old English verse, plus I was a fan of Robert Louis Stevenson’s verses for children, but Emily’s “A Formal Feeling” was the first poem (that I remember anyway) to strike a chord of recognition deep within me. By then I was already acquainted with sorrow—and for me, her words captured a truth that was difficult to put into words. She conveyed what sadness felt like and expressed a process I was learning.

I don’t know how many times I reread the poem as a teenager (or have done so as an adult), but it continues to be one my favourites.

Another piece that meant more to me than I can probably explain without a lot of melodrama is “First Ice” by Andrei Voznesensky.

A girl freezes in a telephone booth.
In her draughty overcoat she hides
A face all smeared
In tears and lipstick.
She breathes on her thin palms. Her fingers are icy. She wears earrings.
She’ll have to go home alone, alone
Along the icy street.
First ice. It is the first time.
The first ice of telephone phrases.
Frozen tears glitter on her cheeks-
The first ice of human hurt.

I suspect you, having read it, know the phase of life I’d entered—first love, first heartbreak, yes . . . but I always felt the poem spoke to something bigger than one isolated break up. It was the disappointment that resonated with me: the girl, for the first time, recognizing that people weren’t always what they promised—and/or weren’t as honest or straight forward as she was.

I could share many, many more poems that influenced me or comforted me (or just made me laugh; not every poem I love is sad!), but I’ll spare you for now.

I suspect you have your own poems or songs (and what are lyrics if not poetry?) that, no matter how long ago you came across them, still have profound meaning to you. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that you’ve even penned a stanza or two (or more), whether you consider yourself a writer or poet or not. Most of us have. There’s something in the human spirit that yearns to give voice to the emotions that move us and the passions that make us us.

It’s definitely true for me. Despite all my affection for essays and letters and my love of fiction, when overcome by happiness—or weeping, wordless sadness or white-hot coiled rage—I turn to poetry to help me vent, express, or attempt to make muddled sense of my mad joy and intense pangs and desires. Perhaps you do, too? If yes, I’d love to hear about it. (Or better yet, share a poem you love—your own or someone else’s—here. Please!)

Now circling back to it being national poetry month—and my desire to celebrate it.

If you’ve written poetry before but stopped for some reason, or if you never have but would like to—or if you’re a prolific pro looking for ways to invigorate and refresh your muse, honour those stirrings. Join me and Joan Conway this Saturday (April 25th) for an afternoon of poetry exercises and inspiration.

Spring Stirrings

Reading at Prince Rupert Library, Thursday, April 16, 7:00 – I hope you can come!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to take part in some super fun events over the next few weeks: An author reading at the Prince Rupert Library, Spring Stirrings – a Poetry Workshop (that I’m co-facilitating with Joan Conway), and an Authors for Indie Bookstores event at Misty River Books. I’ll post full details for each in the days to come, so keep a kind eye out if you’re interested.

Kicking off the three, I’m calling for all Prince Rupert, B.C. readers and writers. The Prince Rupert Library has invited me to do a reading and question and answer session, Thursday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. I’ll be focusing on BIGGER THINGS, but will also have copies of WEDDING BANDS on hand. It should be a fun, thought-provoking evening (and there are great door prizes, lol). I hope to meet you there!

P.S. Please like and/or share this post if you have friends or family in the Prince Rupert area–and if you have any questions, ask away. :)

Bigger Things Reading Poster PRINCE RUPERT

Start Already

Journal2Sometimes ideas, chores, and plans energize and invigorate me. Other times, they’re paralyzing. All the stuff that needs doing wars with all things I want to do, and I never know what to begin with. Stymied by indecision, I can waste hours worrying and overthinking instead of being productive. 
 
Our house and property have a lot of potential (Beware of that danger-laden euphemism for “work intensive, never ending project” when you buy!), but prioritizing the seemingly insurmountable work sometimes feels impossible.   
 
In my work life, there’s always so much to do that my brain hums a constant refrain of where to start, where to start.
 
And then there are all the annoying household tasks. Toilets need cleaned. Meals need prepared. (Hopefully not at the same time.) Laundry breeds the minute you turn your back. (Tell you something you don’t know, right?)
 
Contemplating my latest struggle to get down to work, however, I realized something encouraging. As much as I bellyache and feel in over my head at times, I also tackle a lot and get a lot done, so long as I remember the secret: Tackle one piece at a time.
 
When I was a kid, I was incredibly messy (much to the despair of my poor, clean freak mom who had a houseful of chaos-lovers.)
 
Even though we all did chores regularly, my room always looked like I’d never sorted, organized or picked it up in my life.
 
When ordered to clean it, overwhelmed by the looming work, I’d do what seemed most sensible to me: waste a ton of time, crying, whining, and/or playing with things I was supposed to be putting away. (You’d think that at some point in my childhood I would’ve figured out procrastination didn’t help, but no. . . .)
 
My mom would wait, hoping if left to my own devices I’d finally incorporate the strategy she tried so hard to drill into me, but as minutes turned to hours and she saw my whole day being frittered away, she’d intervene—note I did not say “do it for me.” She never did it for me. (And wow . . . it really would’ve been so much easier for her if she had. Kudos to her for her long-suffering patience!)
 
“Just pick up one thing at a time.”
 
“I can’t. There’s too much.” (Whine. Wail!)
 
“Pick something. It doesn’t matter what. Start with the biggest things—like your bedding. Put it back on your bed. It’s not rocket science.”
 
She’d watch from the doorway to make sure I didn’t get sidetracked. “If you make your bed during this step—don’t just jumble everything in a heap—it will save work later.” (Again, this always seemed like brand new wisdom every time I heard it.)
 
Fine.”
 
“Now pick up all your stupid stuffed animals.” (They weren’t really stupid but I understand her frustration.) “No, don’t just throw them willy-nilly. Line them up.”
 
And once Raggedy Anne and Co. were all arranged: “That’s a good start. Now the Barbie stuff. I’ll be back shortly.”
 
Barbies. Check. Blocks (without being prodded—go me!) Check.
 
Mom in the doorway again. “Good. Now the Fisher Price—and you know, every time you play with one thing you don’t have to dump out every other single thing you own all at one time.” (Ha! Good one, Mom. You’re such a kidder.)
 
Next, groan, all the Lego. Then—voilà!—vacuum time. Once I was finished I was always happily surprised. It really hadn’t been that difficult. 
 
Final check and advice: “Good job. Now don’t you think it’d be easier to tidy as you go instead of waiting ‘til your whole room is a pigsty?” (Well, duh, Mom . . . but having a pet unicorn would also be nice.)
 
After ten years or so, I didn’t need constant nudging to apply my mom’s step-by-step breakdown and conquer approach. And today, yes, I still get overwhelmed and whine occasionally, but eventually I remember to just pick something and start—and there isn’t a pet unicorn in sight.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“Start Already” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, March 25, 2015 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

Don’t Look!

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 9.19.41 AMAlternate title: A Tetris Battle lesson

If you read my column “Lessons From Bubble Pop,” I know what you’re thinking: What, she’s writing about another computer game? She has a problem.

While it’s kind of cruel of you to be so judgmental, I can’t argue with you. I really am a game addict and Tetris has topped the list of my weaknesses since approximately 1988.

At various times in my life I’ve been on the wagon, the longest break being the years I no longer frequented Gus’s Arcade. Online Tetris versions were lame compared to the arcade game—or were until I joined Facebook and discovered—Oh, the joy, oh, the agony, oh, the huge time suckage but wonderful stress reliever—Tetris Battle.

(You said there was a lesson in this blather, I hear you mutter—and right you are. Patience, patience. All the little blocks will fall into place soon and you’ll soon see what I’m putting down. Heh heh. A Tetris joke. Get it?)

ANYWAY, I’ve been playing like a mad woman again because after a six-month hiatus, I logged in and discovered I’d lost my rank and had to restart from scratch. (I know. It’s an outrage.)

It’s been a rough month. February weather is hard on my spirits in general (although the respite provided by the crazy, glorious snowstorm was lovely!), plus some things in my personal life have been tough—and professionally I’ve been fraught with indecision and insecurity about the path I’ve chosen and the direction I’m going. . . . Sounds familiar, right? Yes, I think it’s called life, sometimes. . . .

But I’ve been kicking butt in Tetris at least.

The lesson I want to share comes—as so many lessons do—from a mistake I made. For an instant, while battling a User-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, I broke with my proven strategy and looked to see how my opponent was doing.

Gah! I recognized my error immediately. He was doing great. Had even dropped more lines than I had. (The horror, the horror!) Flustered, I made a rookie error, landed a Z shape at an awkward angle, leaving a gap exposed—then compounded the problem by dropping a square too close, so I couldn’t snug another piece under the jutting edge.

Even worse, I darted a sideways glance again to see how badly my screw-up had hurt my game. Bleeeep—KO’D. Even as the buzzer sounded, my brain screamed, “What were you doing? Don’t look. Don’t look!”

Wham! Crossover wisdom hit me and fleshed itself out. Don’t look at your neighbor or friend or peer. Keep focused on your plan, your goal, what works for you.

To win in Tetris, you can’t let yourself get distracted by someone else’s progress, concentrate too heavily on the way they play, or compare their results to your own. Doing so will immobilize you, fill you with doubt, and crush your game.

The same is true for other parts of life. I’m usually content with my home, relationships, accomplishments, work——until I fall into the comparison trap. I sometimes need to remind myself: Don’t look! Zeroing in on how someone else is doing doesn’t change my situation, skills, talents, or assets—but it does take my focus off what it should be on: what I do have, what I can do, what I should do.

Flipping that (because there’s always flipping in Tetris), all of life is not like the game. Sometimes contemplating what other people are doing encourages, challenges and spurs you on. . . .

The trick, I guess, is to know which to do and when. Thankfully, the answer’s fairly clear. If looking at others makes you dissatisfied or diminishes your ability to maneuver the pieces of your life with joy and ease, stop looking. If studying someone else fills you with a sense of possibility or lends you a strategy you hadn’t yet considered, gawk away.

And now I’m off to level up. :)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

“Don’t Look! A Tetris Battle lesson” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, February 25, 2015 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

Wedding Bands by Ev Bishop – in paperback!

EvBishop_WeddingsBands_800pxDear all,

A few of you kind folk following my blog asked for me to let you know when WEDDING BANDS was out in paperback. Good news! It’s out and ready for your hot little hands. Find it online at Amazon.com (.ca is slower, don’t know why) and Barnes & Noble (Will be at Chapters, too – but again, slower to show up there, for whatever reason), for order into your favorite bookstore and in stock at my favorite bookstore Misty River Books. (Misty River Books’ copies are signed.) If you’re in the mood for romance and/or food and entrepreneurial adventure, Wedding Bands, Book 1 in the River’s Sigh B & B series, might be just the thing!

I definitely recommend reading with chocolate and tea – or red wine – close at hand. (Then again, I always recommend that. :) )

p.s. Want a signed copy made out to you or a friend or family member specifically? I’m happy to oblige. E-mail me at ev_bishop AT SIGN yahoo DOT com or give me a shout here for more details. I can take credit card payments or you can pay via PayPal, e-mail transfer or personal cheque. **Free shipping for orders going to Canadian addresses**

Uncomplicated Kindness

Photo Credit: Jennifer/Sweet on Veg on Flickr

Photo Credit: Jennifer/Sweet on Veg on Flickr

My thoughts are all over the place today, flitting here, darting there, from dark and muddy places as dreary as my sodden yard to joy-inducing, light-filled bright spots, as beautiful as sunshine through blue and amber glass.

I wanted to write an inspiring January note for you all, some wise words on motivation, an encouragement about how to stick to a plan, or how to set and achieve goals, but instead I find myself dwelling on a little thing that, the older I get, seems not so little after all: the power of a kind word.

I learned this lesson personally when I was fifteen or sixteen or so. Picasso has his blue period; I had my black stage. For a long time I dressed in black from head to toe, and wore heavy kohl eyeliner. “Goth” wasn’t really a thing yet, in Terrace, at least, but my clothing was dramatic enough to single me out sometimes. I’m still amazed at some of the responses I got to such an innocuous thing as wearing all black—but this is not about the rotten stuff people say and do. It’s about the shiny, lovely things.

My mom and dad hated my “ghoulish” attire and makeup, thought it was at best inappropriate for a young girl (who should wear bright “happy” colors) and at worst “sluttish.”

I loved my black wardrobe for many reasons—and still gravitate to the shade—and I don’t think you have to be morbid, obsessed with death or depressed to revel in black . . . but I was depressed. Sad. Lonely. And I will admit that some days, maybe I was sort of saying, This is me. I don’t fit in. See?

(At this point, I have to stress, you cannot and should not assume anything about a person’s mood or morals or anything else by what they wear. Usually clothes are just clothes, fashion—and despite my confession above, the biggest reason behind my clothing choices was esthetic. I just loved black.)

Anyway, I’d had a bad weekend to top off a bad week that topped off a bad month that—okay, I guess I could just say I was feeling low. I was at church with my family, the service had ended, and I was being subjected to after church “fellowship” in the foyer. My mom, for reasons I now think I understand, yet still don’t make sense, decided to publicly nag me about my clothing again. Yes, it felt awesome, as humiliations and conflicts always do.

To this day, I remember my outfit with fondness. It was quintessential 80s Ev: Black spandex leggings. Black pointy-toed ankle boots. A black tank top with an off the shoulder, long black sweatshirt. A boxy black denim jacket. I’m sure my hair was a blow-dried mess, and may or may not have had some purple in it. My eyes were pointed like a cat’s.

I looked rad. But also out of place in the room of equally 80s fashionable—yet polar opposite of “alternative”—ice cream pink, mint and yellow sweaters and polo shirts.

Regardless of how much I liked what I was wearing and felt good in it, I was hurt and angered by my Mom’s vented disapproval and obvious embarrassment about me.

Suddenly, a twinkly-eyed woman with short gray curls piped up, “You don’t like Ev’s look? Really? Whenever I see her I always think, wow, she looks so flamboyant!” She proceeded to add that she’d read the newspaper and noticed I’d made the honor roll, adding a cheery, “Again. Good for you!”

Conversation rolled on and I escaped—and I’m sure she had no idea that her small comment turned on a comforting light that only grew brighter with the years: Someone will like you, whether you’re a bit different or not. You’re okay.

Twenty-five years later I still recall the power of that moment and the gratitude I felt for her kindness. She saw me, not just my exterior.

We all live with varying degrees of insecurity, doubt, worry, fear. . . . No one needs more criticism or condemnation. We all could use a quiet, I see you—the real you. I like you. I accept you.

And who knows? Maybe a casual, encouraging word we give off the cuff will end up being the light that gets someone else through some dark time.

Wishing you a year of kindness—to yourself and to others,
Ev

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“Uncomplicated Kindness” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, January 28, 2015 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”