So this is happening! My River’s Sigh B & B series will be available as audio books. First up Wedding Bands.

Picture of Wedding Bands by Ev Bishop - the audio book version I have to share a super happy blurt! Some of you already know from my newsletter, but my River’s Sigh B & B series is coming out in audio! WEDDING BANDS is in final stages of production now, actually. Eeeeeiiii! Watch for it mid-May.

I’ll share the news again on launch day, don’t worry, LOL! Meanwhile, here’s a sample for your listening pleasure.  (And yes, I am happy-dancing around the room, and yes, it does make typing difficult!)

I hope you enjoy the sneak preview and if you’re an audio book addict like me (I mean there has to be some decent tradeoff for cleaning the house, right?!), I hope you’ll snap it up in May. 🙂

Ms. Bishop. In the Library. Redux.

A photo of Ev Bishop's library at her old home

A glimpse into my library of yore . . .

If you read my last Terrace Standard column, you know I’ve been on organizing kick—and my latest target is my new library. I’ve had the shelves up for a few months, yet my books are still stashed willy-nilly throughout the house, much to my husband’s confusion. He doesn’t understand that I need to know what specific shelf and/or books I want to add first before I can get started. I was a tad baffled myself—and then I came upon a column I wrote a few years ago about my old house’s library.

Books mean a lot to me, so sorting, shelving and possibly culling them is a complex undertaking. Perhaps you’ll see something of yourself in my process.

I’m prone to flights of daydreaming and distraction at the best of times, but when I’m supposed to be tidying books? Heaven help me! All those ideas, adventures, life-changing worlds and words. . . .

I’ve been known to box up books, only to go back and rescue select titles. I keep doubles of some novels—because they’re that good and because it is a truth universally acknowledged that if you loan books, you rarely get them back.

Anyway, armed with fresh coffee, a multitude of multi-sized cardboard boxes, and a belly full of steely resolve, I headed to my miniature library.

I’d just gotten through my writing-related books, when the biggest killer of productivity, house-cleaning wishes, and de-junking desires hit me: an interesting thought. My brother had been sorting my Dad’s books and commented that you can learn a lot about people from their bookcases.

I found his theory interesting. So interesting that I lost several hours to perusing titles with an eye to what secrets my books might tell about my psyche, obsessions, and beliefs, instead of focusing on whether or not I would ever actually read or refer to them again.

A deer skull (complete with lower jaw and teeth) sits atop one row of books (Christianity and other faith and religion texts). I’m not sure what that says.

A bottle of wine lounges on its side, coming of age in the lofty company of modern literary fiction greats like Joy Kogawa, Barbara Gowdy, Wally Lamb, and Eden Robinson. Why am I storing a bottle of wine there? To make the classic authors a shelf above and a shelf below jealous? Perhaps. Also, it looks kind of pretty.

I have a lot of science fiction—Orwell, Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Asimov and Silverman, Heinlein, Robert J Sawyer. . . .

A full shelf homes titles by authors who are also personal friends. And another carries autographed works. And I have a small (but growing!) section with books that carry stories by me.

I have gads of Stephen King, the full Merrily Watkins series by Phil Rickman (highly recommended, by the way), Diana Gabaldon’s wonderful genre-bending Outlander series, and a myriad of other scary or scintillating tales. They hulk in the shadows, balancing the sweetness and light of my Jan Karon and Maeve Binchy books.

Although I parted with any kids’ books that were lame after my children grew up, I still have one full five-shelf case of “must keeps.”

My collection is roughly 1/5 non-fiction (but within that, a full shelf is devoted to poetry), with a higher concentration of writing craft and religious texts—but lots of history, social sciences, and philosophy, too.

What fascinated me most circles back to my original goal of pruning my collection. Weirdly, it’s not the best books I have the hardest time parting with. The story between the covers isn’t my only consideration—nor the information relayed, nor the style, humour, or power with which the author writes. Not even my firm “Will you ever read this again?” question actually determines whether I cull or not. No, what really hampers my ability to part with a book is the story within the story.

I bought this for the kids at that little bookstore when we were on holidays on the Island.

My aunt and I spotted this book at the same time. She let me have it, but I “owed” her.

This was the first book I read after my mom died.

Aw, this is the one Chris read to Christopher all the time!

Breaking Smith’s Quarter Horse! My dad was obsessed with this forever.

And that—the notion that the story within a book is only part of the reason it keeps its spot when another, arguably far superior, might be pulled—was eye opening. I’ve long fought junk collecting because I know what a trap it can become. I had no idea that the psychology behind why I hold onto some books is similar to why some people can’t get rid of broken toys, old clothes, or boxes of knick-knacks they haven’t looked at in years.

Reading over reflections on my last library was inspiring and motivating. I’ll have to let you know when I have my new library in shape, though I suspect it will always be a work in progress—as every good library should be! 

A photo of Ev's work-in-progress library

A peek into the start of my library to be! This is actually a slightly outdated picture. I have my poetry shelf filled and one of non-fiction history books. Will update you when the stacks are stacked!

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“Ms. Bishop. In the Library. Redux,” by me, Ev Bishop, is a combination of new thoughts and old ones originally pondered in an essay called “Ms. Bishop. In the Library. With a Coffee Mug.” This version was published in the Terrace Standard, April 5, 2018 as my regular column “Just a Thought.”

Today, April 6 = 1st Friday Fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello and happy Friday – the 1st Friday of lovely April 2018 to be exact!

To celebrate the (soon, please, pretty please!) arrival of spring, we have a lovely, cheery giveaway for this month’s 1st Friday Fun.

What is 1st Friday Fun you ask?

Every 1st Friday of the month I’ll put together some form of themed giveaway, sometimes related to my books, sometimes fitting with River’s Sigh B & B themes, sometimes something more generic–but still super fun! 🙂 🙂

All you have to do is show up and follow the “comment suggestion” on the Giveaway’s thread and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. Each giveaway will be open until the 15th of the month, then a winner will be chosen at random and contacted for his/her mailing address and the goodies will go in the post.

Super simple and super fun, hey? (Have I said it’s fun enough times? LOL.)  I hope you’ll play and I hope you’ll spread the word/share so more people can get in on the . . . fun. 😉

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: A sweet twine-dispensing tin (that I covet and don’t want to part with, LOL), a little message pad with a very good reminder/motto for life 🙂, a signed copy of HOOK, LINE & SINKER, 3 or 4 River’s Sigh B & B book charms and minty lip-soothing balm from yours truly!

COMMENT SUGGESTION: What’s your favourite flower? (And, of course, you can say anything else you want, so long as it’s appropriate for all ages. 🙂 🙂 )

***GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED! Holly Stover is our fabulous winner! 🙂 Congrats, Holly!

Next 1st Friday Fun – May 4th, 2018! See you then! 🙂 *** 

 

The Maximum Minimalist Challenge

Day 15 – so much gone, so much still to go!

I like to believe I’m not that much of a junk collector, but a contest this past month quashed my wishful thinking. In reality I have two ever-battling, opposing personalities when it comes to stuff: dreamer Ev, who clings to mementos and to anything that might possibly come in handy in any way, ever, and practical Ev who vows to not be ruled by the tyranny of possessions.  

The lesson kicked off in mid-January when my daughter invited me and a friend to take part in a decluttering “minimalist” challenge that she’d heard about online. 

Every day for 30 consecutive days, we’d purge the number of items dictated by whatever day it was in the contest, so Day 1, 1 item. Day 2, 2 items. Day 3, 3 items. And so on. We’d send each other daily pictures to show what we got rid of. Whoever made it the furthest into the 30 days would “win” and get all the discarded stuff. Just kidding! The stuff was sold, donated, recycled or trashed. The prize was “loser buys coffee.” 

The first few days were, as you probably guessed, super easy—and our artfully staged photos reflected our enthusiasm. 

As the month rolled on and items accumulated, our increasingly messy photo record sparked much laughter, conversation and debate. We frequently coveted each other’s giveaways and had to make a new rule: taking someone’s discard required the shedding of two additional items. That mostly cured our magpie ways.  

We were all surprised that gathering our daily quotas didn’t become impossible—or even difficult. What was? Motivation over the long haul.  

Making time to delve into the back corners of cupboards and closets, then sorting, packaging, driving and dropping off, etc., got tedious. Just maintaining our normal home and work lives is work intensive enough. Anything extra feels like extra.   

Also, re-homing some items required uncomfortable honesty and/or a kind of letting go. There are interests and hobbies from bygone days that you’ll never rekindle, no matter how fondly you look back. There are impulse purchases that were mistakes—and keeping them another ten years will not remedy that fact. 

And, of course, things stowed because of who or what they remind us of were—and are—tricky. It’s important to figure out what’s really precious and what’s just stored out of habit or guilt—and that’s highly personal. No-one else can determine it for you. I try to go by rule that if I literally never use it, never display it, never pull it out for rainy day reminiscences, I should re-home it.  

I wasn’t surprised by the pull of sentimental items—or by my resistance to relinquishing things that might have a purpose. Someday. Maybe. Plus, there are things I love just because they’re pretty or whimsical or whisper of secrets and conjure up stories. So no, stashes of things like old keys, etc. didn’t shock me either. 

No, what I found horrifying was the actual, literal, garbage I found. And worse, in one case, still didn’t get rid of. I wasn’t alone in my bewilderment about what my brain deemed must keep treasures. We all had some type of thing we clung to out of strange compulsion, all had our own But why? moments.  

Over the years, I’ve worked hard to learn how to let go of hurts, to deal with grief and change, to let myself feel joy without guilt, and to not fall for the lie that purchasing another this or that will cheer me up if I’m sad or make me feel good about myself if I’m feeling bad, but this challenge was a good reminder: it’s a lifelong process. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying things we’ve work for or appreciating relics from the past, but it can be all too easy to accumulate and hoard stuff for more complex reasons. For me, the best thing about the challenge was the reminder to be intentional about what I hold on to.   

If you want a little glimpse into what makes you tick (or what your ticks are!), or even if you “just” want a closet that contains only wearable clothes (I know, crazy concept, right?)—do this challenge. You’ll lose clutter and gain a lot in the process.   

P.S. In just 30 days, we each unburdened ourselves of 465 things. Collectively, that was a whopping 1395 no longer useful (to us) items!

P.P.S. If you’ve done – or do! – a similar challenge, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the process.
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“The Maximum Minimalist Challenge” by me, Ev Bishop, was written in February 2018 and was originally published in the Terrace Standard, March 15, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

I’ve written on this subject before in a larger, more serious scale: CIRCLES by Ev Bishop

1st Friday Fun Kicks off!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello and happy Friday – the 1st Friday of a new month to be exact!

To celebrate the march of March, I thought it would be fun to kick off a brand new, super fun tradition here at evbishop.com, so I’m announcing – *Drum roll, please!* – 1st Friday Fun!

What is 1st Friday Fun you ask?

Every 1st Friday of the month I’ll put together some form of themed giveaway, sometimes related to my books, sometimes fitting with River’s Sigh B & B themes, sometimes something more generic (but still super fun!). 🙂 🙂

All you have to do is show up and follow the “comment suggestion” on the Giveaway’s thread and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. Each giveaway will be open until the 15th of the month, then a winner will be chosen at random and contacted for his/her mailing address and the goodies will go in the post.

Super simple and super fun, hey?  I hope you’ll play and I hope you’ll spread the word/share so more people can get in on the fun.

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY: A small painting to lose yourself in and remind you to relax, ahhhh… A signed proof copy of SILVER BELLS, River’s Sigh B & B book charms and minty lip-soothing balm from yours truly!

COMMENT SUGGESTION: Can you build your own campfire or do you prefer to have someone else do it for you? (And, of course, you can say anything else you want, so long as it’s appropriate for all ages. 🙂 🙂 )

 

Good luck! I look forward to hearing all about your fire building prowess – or failures!

Wishing you a very fun Friday,

🙂 Ev

P.S. Sadly, cupcakes, especially ones as deliciously decadent as the one in the Friday Fun picture above, don’t travel well in the mail. Or that’s my excuse for hoarding those types of goodies for myself, anyway. 😉 You’ll have to buy your own sweets.  🙂

***March 16, 2018 Update*** WE HAVE A WINNER!

Lucky Michelle Pierce will be receiving our March 1st Friday Fun goodies in the mail very soon!

It was super fun to have so many of you come out and share whether you have mad fire building skills (or the opposite of that, LOL!) Please join us for April’s 1st Friday Fun on April 6th, for a chance to win another super fun T.B.A. prize!

Snowed In

The view outside my front door, Jan. 31, 2018

I live on the same property I lived as a teenager. Its terrain is as familiar to me as my own backyard because, of course, that’s exactly what it is—and what it has been for so many years.

The last few days of heavy snow have changed everything, however. The view outside my door and a trek across the yard reveal a foreign landscape. It surprises me every winter, how the sound-dampening white blanket turns the familiar strange and the once-obvious into something only hinted at.

And that’s how I feel this new year as I contemplate the future, like the landmarks, anchors and foundations of my life are still there—yet at the same time, somehow hidden from me. I can’t make out their details.

I had my children about ten years younger than a lot of my friends did, so while they’re still busy with childrearing and household things . . . I am not as much. So this spot I’ve hit . . . Is it empty nest syndrome? A midlife crisis? The itch before an opportunity? I don’t know—but I suspect it’s a normal phase of human development, like teething for babies and tantrums for toddlers. (So not the most fun, understatement, but survivable. Normal.)

The other day, I described my life as “empty” to a friend, but even as I said it, I knew it wasn’t the word I was looking for—too ungrateful, too negative, when I actually feel so much thankfulness for all that I have. The fresh snow showed me what I’d truly meant and failed to describe: not empty at all, full—but with the pieces that make me whole a bit buried at the moment, hard to see clearly or to make sense of.

In my 20s, I knew what my time needed to be filled with, what my priorities were, what I believed in and lived by (for the most part anyway—or my life was so busy that I didn’t have as much time to dwell).

Ditto in my 30s. Trying to put all my plans into action, working to see my hopes become reality, and keeping on top of the choices I made kept me focused and determined, constantly learning and seeking. I had to-do lists and goal maps that spanned years.

My early 40s were like a harvest. The bulk of things I had invested my time, energy and heart in for so long matured and were . . . done.

And 45? It’s a mystery. Thankfully, I love my work and take a lot of joy and solace in the fact that I still have lots of room to grow in it (forever), but everything else—who my husband and I are as a couple, instead of just as parents, what my new role is in my children’s lives (and in my grandchildren’s), what my faith is, how I should live, where I should spend my personal time—is blurry.

What will the next half of my life look like? I have no idea. Right now, it’s all shadowy outlines and slightly lumpy impressions. I think that’s okay though. As disconcerting as it is to be unsure of pretty much everything, beneath the obscuring layers, the landmarks and foundations of my life are still there. And just like I’ll have to wait until spring to see the details of my yard again, I may have to wait a while for the things I’m pondering to become clear.

Some seasons in life provide a straightforward vision of what we want to do next or how we need to grow. Others call for hunkering down, lying dormant, waiting—which is always, at least for me, less comfortable than forging ahead.

Whether your path is clear, or whether you, like me, feel that if a path exists, it needs to be shovelled (or plowed with a loader), I wish you a wonderful 2018. May you find what you need most—and may joy, laughter and good friends accompany you on the journey!

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“Snowed In” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, February 1, 2018 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

What better way to spend a winter’s evening?

I just wanted to share a happy blurt! SILVER BELLS (River’s Sigh B & B, Book 5), which debuted in the contemporary Christmas Romance Anthology MISTLETOE KISSES is now available as a single title for your reading pleasure. I know you, like me, are thinking HOORAY and FINALLY, LOL. 🙂 🙂

One lonely highway and a brutal snowstorm. Two broken hearts and an accident. Can Bryn and Sean find lasting love in such random, fleeting circumstances?

I hope you enjoy this latest sweet, cozy visit to River’s Sigh B & B immensely! After all, we’re definitely having curl-up-with-a-good-book weather. 😉

ENJOY SILVER BELLS TODAY! 

AMAZON USAMAZON CAAMAZON AUAMAZON UK 

iBOOKSKOBO USKOBO CA ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE PLAY 

Also, just a reminder . . . reviews are incredibly helpful to authors. If you would take a minute or two to add even just one line with a star review, wherever you buy your books, I would be over the moon.

Thank you and happy reading!