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!

Writing Romance – a FREE workshop with Ev Bishop

Hello and greetings and tidings of exciting news!

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be giving an Intro to Writing Romance workshop at the Terrace Public Library, Thursday, November 23rd from 6:00 – 8:30.

Admission is FREE (Yes, you read that right! 🙂 ), thanks to the generosity of the event’s organizers and sponsors, the Federation of BC Writers and the Terrace Public Library. However, you must register in advance and there are limited seats. If you’re interested, book your spot now: 250-638-8177.

Topics to be covered:

  • Romance as a genre and why writing (and reading) romance is so satisfying
  • Generating (or narrowing down!) ideas and writing the story
  • Editing Tips
  • Publishing Paths . . .  (I’ll try to give some marketing musts, too–but it’s not a super long workshop and we’ll have lots to tackle as it is. 🙂 It is going to be fun!)

If you’re currently writing romance (in the closet or out, LOL), have always wanted to but haven’t started yet, or are just curious about the genre in general, this workshop’s for you. We’ll have a blast, I’ll talk your ears off, and you’ll leave buzzing with energy, inspiration and information. (Or that’s my plan and hope anyway. 😉 ) I hope to see you there!

P.S. The writing life can be isolating (is of necessity, actually), yet at the same time, almost without exception, we accomplish more and feel happier when we’re part of a community. If you’re a writer yearning for a tribe or in need of fellow writerly chat and support, consider joining the BC Federation of Writers. They are an amazing source of information and opportunities, well worth their modest annual fee.

And a little closer to home . . . If you’re writing in Terrace, BC (or area) and want to be part of a dynamic, supportive writing network, check out the Terrace Public Library’s writing group. Contact Jess for more information: 250-638-8177.

P.P.S. I’ve had a few people ask if this workshop would be valuable for writers working in other genres. My answer is a hearty YES!  It is a romance workshop and that will be my total focus, but there will definitely be takeaway information and advice applicable to whatever you write.

A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER – a 7 Christmas novel box set you’ll treasure! #mgtab

As promised–eiiiieeee and HOORAY!–here are the details about the second fabulously fun box set I’m part of this year.

Just launched today, A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER is a collection of Christmas romances you’ll treasure and remember, with 7 novels by bestselling authors, including Mimi Barbour, Patricia Rosemoor, Joan Reeves, Tamara Ferguson, Alicia Street, Stephanie Queen, and (of course! 🙂 ) me. Grab it today before the price goes up, while it’s still cheap, cheap, cheap (and FREE on KU)–and happy reading! 🙂

The novel I was delighted to have included is ONE TO KEEP, a River’s Sigh B & B holiday novella. Want to know a little about the story? Well, how can I resist? 🙂 🙂

It’s been two years since Sophie was dumped at the altar, and she’s scarred, but wiser. She has a career she loves, good friends, and a caring family. It should be more than enough, and she wants to vanquish the part of her that still craves something more.

This year, unable to bear one more “festive” get together where everyone gives her sad eyes and asks how she’s doing, she heads to River’s Sigh B & B, a picturesque spot she discovered online. It will be a New Year’s celebration for one, a place to unwind and kick off her new resolution: to embrace single life as a permanent choice.

Jesse Ales has found the perfect way to avoid the world this holiday season. He’ll be the caretaker at River’s Sigh B & B and enjoy a break from well-meaning friends who think he should be over his ex-wife. The whole place will be deserted, except for some eccentric old woman holidaying alone in the wilderness. Even after making her breakfast every day, he’ll have plenty of time to plan his new life: committed bachelorhood.

When chance throws Sophie and Jesse together in a pub, a night of alcohol, food, and laughter-infused lunacy almost leads to a one-night stand. They’re both shaken, but doubly resolved to remain single.

And then they meet again at River’s Sigh and realize they’re about to spend a week alone together—twenty miles from their nearest neighbor. They’ll each have to face their worst fears: their own unacknowledged yearnings for a love that lasts.

Can love tempt them to commitment a second time around?

 CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW! 

ACSR_OTK-99 Cents-Free on KU

MISTLETOE KISSES ~ A 9 Christmas Romance novel box set

Treat Yourself TodayIt’s here! Yay and wow! My brand-new River’s Sigh novella SILVER BELLS has hit the shelves.

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?

Happy book birthday to me – and to the 8 other fabulous authors in MISTLETOE KISSES: Nancy Stopper, Christa Maurice, Maria Luis, Reese Patton, Susan Saxx, July Dawson, Kimberly Readnour, and Natalia Banks!

Lovely reviews are pouring in and I’m over the moon with all the kind comments and all the Christmas romance love! And I have to confess that with another holiday-themed romance box set coming out on Friday (A CHRISTMAS SHE’LL REMEMBER, which contains my River’s Sigh B & B novella ONE TO KEEP), I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. In fact, I’ve enjoyed getting into the Christmas spirit early so much that I think I might start my Christmas reading in October every year from now on. The nights are so long and dark, the weather so wet and dreary . . . it’s super fun to read things that are sweet, steamy and cheery. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you’ll get your copy MISTLETOE KISSES—especially while it’s just .99 cents! And if you’d consider leaving a review . . . Well, it would be a lovely early Christmas present for me. Thank you!

AMAZON ~ KOBO ~ iBOOKS ~ NOOK ~ GOOGLE PLAY

Mistletoe Kisses 99 cent ad 3

 

Fear of Falling

Nanaimo River Picture by Gerry Thomasen Seth Godin quote

“Boulder Swim” Photo Copyright Gerry Thomasen.

I spent ten days up and down Vancouver Island this summer, visiting family and friends. One moment of the holiday will be etched in my mind (and felt in my gut) forever—for both positive and negative reasons.

Nanaimo River is a gorgeous run of jade green water that cuts through wide crevices of massive rocks, flanked by ancient forests. It has sections of rapids and white water, but for huge stretches, it is peaceful and current free. Here and there, in spots often decorated with giant boulders and featuring convenient layers of flat rocks down to the water’s edge, it widens into pools—which make spectacular swimming holes.

Because it’s in a valley, you have to climb down to it, and sometimes the inclines are steep. There are places where multiple rough ladders have been placed end to end to make certain spots accessible. Even for me, however—and I’m no gazelle—the trails are doable. I just went very slowly and my family was very patient.

Anyone who knows me knows there is nothing in the world I love better activity-wise than swimming in lakes or oceans, and Nanaimo River is a particularly glorious place to take a dip—cool, clear, super clean and green, green, green. We had an amazing afternoon for it too: hot and sunny with the kind of deep blue sky that’s so pure and pretty it’s dreamlike.

On the hike down, my brother pointed out a giant fallen tree lying bridge-like across a deep ravine. We could’ve taken it instead of one of the three ladders, and we all thought it looked like fun, so on our way back up after swimming, take the tree bridge we did. And this is where the gut-roiling moment occurred.

It really was an enormous tree, easily four feet wide, and absolutely solid. Yes, there was a huge drop to the rock strewn, branch-spiked earth below, but there was no question that it was safe. When I was three or four steps out, however, my husband (behind me) said something like, “Don’t fall.”

It was a joke, not meant meanly. Half the group had already skipped across, after all, and a person would pretty much have to try to fall to actually manage to do so—but it didn’t matter. I heard “fall” and looked down. Instantly, my breath was sucked from me. My lungs, chest and stomach cramped so hard and so quickly that I couldn’t inhale. My limbs locked, my heart hammered like it would explode, and I broke out in a prickly sweat but felt ice cold.

Seconds that felt like years later, I managed to speak—not to move. “I don’t think I can do this. I can’t do this.”

Immediately my family and husband were like, “You can. It’s okay. It’s safe. Just go slow.”

“Don’t talk about falling,” I growled to my husband, who felt bad.

Painstakingly, utterly humiliated, I minced across in the tiniest, most halting steps. Everyone cheered when I made it, like it was some big feat, but I just felt stupid. And embarrassed. And weak. And out of shape. And, and, and . . . a whole slew of other negative, self-berating things.

The worst part was that I had been so excited, was so looking forward to crossing the log bridge. It looked almost magical, surrounded by old growth trees and moss that glowed golden in the filtered sunlight. And I am someone who has always imagined herself up for any adventure—or at least not fear-stricken and crippled when confronted with one.

It also really bothered me because I worried that it might speak to how I handle other challenges. We never know when some event or issue at work or in our personal life is going to trigger . . . fear. Fear of falling. Of being damaged beyond repair. Or just of looking stupid or weak. I kind of hate that it was that last part—appearing weak—that bothered me the most. Why did that bother me so much? Who did I think I had fooled? I am weak. In so many ways. We all are. But the bridges need to be crossed! Fear, weakness or perceived failure shouldn’t keep us from going for the things we want.

It’s okay to freeze, to need reassurance, to only be able to muster up enough courage to mince—but mince we must. And hopefully we’ll also have those other times, the ones where we run full out, arms wide at our sides, laughing and adventuring forth in brave delight.

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“Fear of Falling” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, October 12, 2017 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”

The Trips They Are a-Changin’

I’ve been busy this month solidifying summer vacation plans, and while there are always some details that need careful attention or adjustments, what strikes me most about this empty nester holiday stuff is how easy it is, how few things need to be nailed down when you’re only organizing for two adults.
 
I remember well—and a huge part of me will always miss—the days when my children were small, despite all the work that went into planning even small excursions then. The labor was well worth it in the fun and memories we created, but it was exhausting at times, physically and emotionally.  
 
Plus our budget was always tight, a common yet frustrating fact: often your finances are at their shakiest at the time in life when you have the highest set expenses, the most mouths to feed, the most bodies to dress, and, simultaneously, the most things you want your kids to experience and see.
 
Recently I returned from a ten-day combined work/pleasure trip, where I carried a backpack and one small book bag—and that’s it. Parents of young kids carry more stuff just to go to church or for an afternoon at the lake. Stroller. Diapers. Wipes. Changes of clothes. Water bottles. Sunscreen. Toys. Food. 
 
Nowadays, I literally live by this travel mantra: Oh well, if I forget something I need, I’ll just pick it up somewhere. That attitude doesn’t really suffice when you have infants or toddlers and have to plan for possible delays, lack of access to restaurants, etc.
 
It’s nice to know where I’ll be staying, but it’s not critical in the way it is when you have children. As my adult son, who, along with his girlfriend, will be meeting up with my husband and me for part of our trip, said when he realized they’ll be arriving at our destination a day or two before our reservations kick in, “Oh well, we can always car camp.” Exactly. That’s totally an option when you’re an adult. Spontaneous car camping doesn’t work with small kids. To swing an overnight in a vehicle, you’d have to be completely non-spontaneous and make sure you had enough of everything mentioned in the list above—plus bedding.
 
I also—gasp!—actually sleep the night before holidays. I know. Crazy stuff, right? I’m not up until three in the morning doing all the things I didn’t have time for when I was running after youngsters—and then kept awake, though beyond tired, by racing thoughts, wildly going over and over all the things we still need to do before leaving the next morning.
 
Do you think I’m protesting too much? That perhaps I’m trying to sing the praises of empty nester trips only because I miss past ones full of kids and mayhem so much? (After all, you’ve read almost eighteen years of my thoughts. You know how much I loved traveling with my kids!) Okay, you got me. You’re partially right. As I said at the beginning: the work and the craziness and the busyness of planning and taking trips with your family is always worth it. For kids, every trip from the treat of a lifetime Disney vacation to the most simple getaway, camping excursion, or road trip is chock-full of new moments and first time experiences. I loved every minute of that and found it precious and joy evoking to get to relive that newness, that freshness, through their eyes.
 
But I also see things anew and differently traveling alone as an adult, unencumbered. Some opportunities open up that aren’t available or practical with children in tow.
 
So yes, I confess I look forward to taking my grans on overnights and/or holidays (hopefully my kids will be the kind of parents who let me, LOL!). I’ll happily shoulder the extra work, carry the gear, and shell out the money. But in the meantime? It’s great fun to travel light and to, instead of revelling in the thrill of others’ first experiences, keep having some myself. Hopefully that part of trip taking never changes.
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“The Trips They Are a-Changin’” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, August 16, 2017 as my monthly column “Just a Thought.”