I have long been obsessed . . . plus a 99 cent sale!

EvBishop_BiggerThings2_800pxAbout a year and a half ago I published Bigger Things, a novel very near and dear to my heart. I think every book or story resonates with its author (or I hope it does!), but in the case of Bigger Things, it really was a personal story—complete fiction, but fiction where the characters confront, question, laugh and cry over, obsess and get pissed off about things I’ve experienced (or do experience)—most specifically, body issues and fatism, abuse and/or the sexualization and objectification of young girls, and the way food and body image issues aren’t, unpopular as it is to some folks’ opinions, just “fat girl” issues.

It’s always a nerve wracking, anxiety inducing, cold sweat producing thing for me to release a new story out to the world. (Will people hate it, hate me? Does anyone else relate or “get” any of this? Am I totally alone? And on and on nag the inner voices.) Bigger Things was no exception; I was nervous. As readers found the novel, however, responses and reviews, online and in person, were very affirming. And many, many women and girls ended their comments with statements like, “I might not be fat, but I’m a fat girl too.” And that was one of my hopes in publishing it, that maybe someone out there somewhere would read Jen, Chelsea, and Kyra’s stories—and Fat Girl’s too—and feel encouraged or heard or seen. Would know that whatever their head is doing/saying, they’re not alone. That kind of response, even from a tiny few, was all that I had hoped for.

Then early this spring I was notified that Bigger Things was nominated for InD’Tale Magazine’s RONE Award (Chick Lit/Women’s Fiction category)—then made the finals.
I didn’t end up winning, but I don’t mind. I was (am!) honored Bigger Things made it that far. I did, however, ponder what I would’ve said if I had won and had to go up to the podium—probably some amalgamation of the above and this:

When my kids were little, they and I adored a story written and illustrated by Janell Cannon called Stellaluna.

Stellaluna is the story of a little fruit bat who gets separated from her mother and ends up taken in (grudgingly) by a mother bird who raises her alongside her baby birds. The book is rich with themes about being lost, or losing your home, searching for belonging and what constitutes family, friendship, etc. It’s both heartbreaking and hilarious to watch Stellaluna try to relate to the birds—and to witness the birds try to enhance Stellaluna’s “birdlike” behavior and curb her bat tendencies. They, bat and birds, are all frustrated and a bit mystified that they can have so much in common, yet be so different in such critical ways.

For me, the most poignant part of the story comes near the end when the baby birds and Stellaluna have finally forged a friendship despite their differences, and Stellaluna is musing on this very topic: “How can we be so different and feel so much alike? And how can we feel so different and be so much alike?”

For my children, the most touching part was a tiny story outside the main narrative. The whole book is gorgeously put together and its illustrations are purely wonderful. The primary tale is riveting. It needed no embellishment—yet the top corner of each page holds a tiny drawing revealing a separate-but-related ongoing saga.

All the while Stellaluna is struggling with her identity and trying to figure out where she truly fits, her mother has never stopped searching for her. It’s this search that’s detailed in tiny pictures, no less impacting for their small size or lack of words.

Within these elements of the story—Stellaluna’s musing about differences and similarities and her longing for meaningful connection and in the mother’s quest to bring her baby back to the fold—lies the impetus behind not just my writing of Bigger Things, but behind a lot of my stories and writing in general.

I have long been obsessed with how we humans can be so similar, yet feel so different—and how we can be so different, yet feel so much the same. And I think most of us, regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, education, religion, geography, past history, etc. seek similar things to varying degrees: belonging, companionship, a sense of who we are in the context of other people, a reason for why we exist and a desire to know how we’re supposed to live. And I also believe, as lonely as human existence sometimes feels, there are usually other people searching for us whether we—or they—are consciously aware of it or not. We are, despite so many obvious, glaring, often conflict-causing outer differences—mostly the same under the skin. This notion (and longing and hope) fuels a lot of the ideas I explore.

To celebrate my conviction that Bigger Things is (and bigger things are) important, my novel has just been re-released with a brand new cover and for one week only it’s at a spectacular sale price, just 99 cents!

If you’ve already read Bigger Things and enjoyed it, please share and encourage other people in your life to read it too. And if you haven’t yet indulged, I hope you’ll give it a try. (And please know, despite my blathering here about what it may or may not be about to me, most of all Bigger Things is a just a great story about three lifelong friends and the things that weigh them down—and that eventually, hopefully, also have the power to free them.)

Amazon.com ~ Amazon.ca ~ KOBO ~ iBooks ~ Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Thanks, as ever, for reading and thinking and just being.

~ Ev

Bigger_Things_Pins_2p.s. I’d love to give away some Bigger Things pins! How do you get your hot little hands on one you ask? Easy! Share this post, comment here that you shared, then e-mail me your snail mail address and I’ll send you a pin. (ev_bishopATSIGNyahooDOTcom)

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

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

Losing Me, Finding Me

Photo credit: DualD FlipFLop, Flickr

Photo credit: DualD FlipFLop, Flickr

A few days ago a kind reader contacted me about BIGGER THINGS, saying very complimentary things about it, including that it was “insightful” and made her think. She also asked, “Whatever compelled you to write about body image?”

I get asked that fairly frequently, and my short form answer is always something like, body issues and food issues are something I’ve dealt with in many incarnations, personally, and I still see, despite all our modern so-called enlightenment and equality, etc., a disgusting amount of value put on people’s bodies and looks (by individuals against themselves and others, but also within the workplace and society) over who they really are. And I still see a lot of us doing horrifying things to our physical and emotional heath—and to our children’s—in the name of “health” that’s really just fat-hating, something that I think has very little to do with a number on a scale, and way more do with . . . well, a lot of other things. I wrote BIGGER THINGS partly to exorcise my own ghosts, partly to explore what I think about things, and largely (pun intended, lol) because the main character Jen appeared in my head one day, yammering away.

Anyway, as I was thinking about my response to the reader, I remembered a column for the Terrace Standard that I wrote a few years before I started the novel’s first draft—and I’ve dug it out for your reading pleasure (or something that’s hopefully not displeasure, anyway ☺). It was published Wednesday, January 30, 2002—and I’m happily surprised, though a little weirded out, by how it’s still a good reflection on how I feel about a lot issues surrounding weight and weight loss, with the following few caveats:

My children are young adults now and while I hope I was the good role model I wanted to be, I’m sure there were (are!) failing moments. Also, I’d be lying if I said I followed my “never diet” again vow perfectly. I still get tempted. Having a bad day or week? My first thought is usually that I should definitely start a diet. I usually manage to resist. . . . And I’ve also noticed that the language surrounding extreme calorie cutting and purging has changed. Some people still use “diet,” but a lot of us have gotten sneakier. We don’t go on abusive, calorie restricted diets of cabbage soup. Don’t ridiculous. We go on raw food or broth only cleanses. 😉 Don’t get me started! Grrrr! (By the way, I’m not saying you shouldn’t give your colon a break now and again—but we need to be honest with ourselves. Is it really about our health or are we weighing ourselves every day or so to make sure the cleanse is “working?”)

And a note about the statistics I refer to below: the numbers are outdated now, obviously, but if you do some research, you’ll be shocked by how little progress we’ve made in this area. . . .

Anyway, enjoy my thoughts. I’d love to hear your reflections on the weighty topic too, so if so moved, please reply.

biggerthings_ThumbnailAnd if you’re interested in reading BIGGER THINGS, I’d be honored. It’s available in eBook form, pretty much everywhere, in paperback at Misty River Books, online (Chapters, Barnes & Noble, Amazon) or for order in at your favorite bricks and mortar bookseller.

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Losing me and finding me
By Ev Bishop

How many people made some sort of resolution to lose weight this year? It seems to be the most popular New Year’s goal.

Magazine companies know it. Almost every issue has some skinny, manically cheerful model assuring us that we can get thin. Pseudo-scientific facts are printed about how some latest discovery will miraculously help shed all unwanted pounds, without any effort, in just ten days!

I’m furious with articles that equate losing weight with changing who you are. “New Year, New You.” They may as well just come out and say, “You’re just a body.” “Change your body, change who you are.” And we fall for it! We believe that somehow changing our body weight will change our lives and eliminate the stuff of life that hurts. We think that shedding pounds will help us shed the parts of ourselves that we don’t like, don’t feel comfortable with.

Consider these statistics from the National Eating Disorders Association: Almost half of American women are on a diet on any given day, as are 1 in 4 men. Half of 9 and 10 year old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.

Are you thinking, so what?

Think about this then: 35 percent of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting and of those, 1 in 4 will progress to a partial or full syndrome eating disorder; the kind that, without intervention, can kill you.

In It’s Not About Food, Carol Emery Normandi and Laurelee Roark say that while the symptoms are different, the roots of all eating disorders are similar and that most of the mindset behind dieting has nothing to do with weight at all.

It’s something less tangible than actual weight that’s bothering the individual, usually a feeling that, as a being, they’re unacceptable or out of control.

At age eight, I had my first binge and vomit session.

The summer after grade seven, I lived on a box of chips and a two-lire of diet Coke a day. I lost forty pounds and started a decade-long war, the battle of losing me.

For eight years I abused myself, equating every problem in my life with the number on a scale and attributing every success to the same thing. Now I am fat. Don’t worry. I’m not putting myself down. I don’t see the word as an insult, more like a fact of life, like saying, “I have ‘brown eyes.”

Strangely, I’m more at peace with my body than I’ve ever been. I have been every weight, every size and I know that my life stays the same, my battles are the same and my pleasures are the same.

In some ways getting big saved me. It made me aware that the reflection in the mirror has no bearing at all on who I am as a person.

Despite the added weight, I’m probably healthier than when I was a teen. I can bump my knee without it turning purple and green all the way down my shin. I don’t get paralysing charley horses running the entire length of my leg, toe to thigh. I don’t wake up suddenly in the middle of the night in front of the fridge, scarfing down leftovers.

Still it would be healthy for me to lose some weight—yet I will never diet again. Ever. I have good reasons. I just don’t hate myself enough anymore to endure the agony of self-induced starvation.

I have two wonderful kids who need to know that their value has nothing to do with externals. Society won’t teach them that. It may give the idea lip service but everything else in the media will contradict it. They need a strong, healthy, kind-to-herself-at-any-weight role model, me.

So what can I do? I can start to listen to myself. I can quit stifling my emotions with food, thinking I have no right to them, and acknowledge when I’m pissed off, when I’m sad, when I’m afraid. I can move because it feels good to move, I can stop eating when I’m full because I know I will let myself eat again. Most of all, when the mirror says, “You’re worthless.” I can remember; the mirror lies.

Maybe by not waiting till I arrive at some magic weight to participate in life, by eating when I’m hungry, by refusing to buy into society’s beauty ideals, I will sometime arrive at what, a long time ago, was my body’s natural weight. But I might not. In either event, I am not my body.

If you are dieting, I hope you will remember that you are not a number on a scale. Your value is not in your waist size. Be kind to yourself and make sure that it’s weight that you’re trying to lose, not who you are.

Book News and a Podcast for the Merry Month!

Goldilocks and the 3 Cares feature BIGGER THINGS.

Goldilocks and the 3 Cares feature BIGGER THINGS.

Hello and happy December! It’s my favorite time of year here on my olde blog spot, as lovely WordPress makes it snow across the screen each and every day. Fun! 🙂

As ever, the merry month is already busy, but I’m carefully treasuring time aside each evening for reading, TV and a bit of knitting. You gotta have priorities, right?

I just finished BEFORE I WAKE by Robert J Wiersema and can’t recommend it enough, a beautifully written, heartbreaking and spooky story that also manages to contain a lot of hope and moments of intense joy and beauty. I couldn’t put it down and actually played hookey from my own writing yesterday morning to finish it.

In other news (which all seems to be story related – yay!), my alter ego Toni Sheridan has another Christmas novella just out: DRUMMER BOY, a sister story to last year’s THE PRESENT. They’re both on sale now, cheap, cheap, cheap, so snap them up and enjoy a bit of sweet romance and an escape from the winter chill. (And if you end up needing to play hookey so you can see what happens in the end, I won’t tell a soul. I’ll just be flattered. :))

And speaking of flattered, last but not least, I was contacted today by Crystal Bourque, an author, speaker and reader that I met at SiWC this year (exemplifying just one of the many reasons I think the conference is so great, the people you meet). We hit it off and have stayed in touch. Recently she gave BIGGER THINGS a read and decided to use it for her Podcast, Goldilocks and the 3 Cares.

It was fascinating and a little bizarre to hear other people (Crystal and her co-host, Andrew Gaudet) discuss my book. To my relief, though yes, there was an element they found too hot and one they found too cold, they mostly considered it just right. Yay!

The more people read BIGGER THINGS and talk to me about it or review it, the more interesting I find the variety of opinions people hold. Very fun! You can listen to the Podcast here. And do make sure to check out some of their other offerings as well, or subscribe to them. They always make me laugh, provoke thought, and give me new titles to add to my to-read list–as if I need more!

And since we’re on the topic of BIGGER THINGS, I have a promotion for any of you looking for gift ideas for book-loving friends or family members. For the month of December, if you buy a paperback directly from me, I’ll sign it to whomever you say, gift wrap it and mail it FREE OF CHARGE directly to your intended’s address (Canada addresses only). Contact me on or before DECEMBER 10th if you want the present to arrive in time for Christmas (Canada Post’s cut off for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery in Canada is Dec. 11).

I can take payments via PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, or you can do an e-mail transfer from your bank. Books, including GST and FREE SHIPPING within Canada, are $17.84 each. E-mail me at evbishopATSIGNevbishopDOTcom for more info or to order.

And well, I think that’s it for me today: stories, stories, and more stories on the brain. I hope you’re in a similar delightful state.

Enjoy the merry month!

How BIGGER THINGS came to be

Image credit: Margaret Speirs

Image credit: Margaret Speirs

I’ve had a few people ask me about the writing and birthing of BIGGER THINGS, so for your reading pleasure (or not, lol) I’m sharing a blip that I originally posted on the Compuserve Readers and Writers forum. 🙂  E.

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The beginning: Once upon a time, quite a few years ago, I was walking my dog along a quiet, totally deserted street. Suddenly a woman spoke so clearly that I actually paused and looked around. “Everyone gets a happily ever after, yeah right,” she said. There was, of course, no one there, but I had this person, fully-formed in my head, blathering away at me like we were good friends and I knew I needed to write her story–and then the story of her two lifelong friends as well.

The Middle: BIGGER THINGS wasn’t my first novel, but it was an early one. It took a while to finish it because I was learning as I went (which is still true for every book), and I struggled with how to organize it. Once I realized it was written in seasons that worked as a metaphor for the changes in the friends’ lives over one pivotal year, and that it was interspersed with letters to a columnist called “Fat Girl,” everything took off and came together.

The Climax (which was, like so many early publishing attempts, actually an anti-climax): I had a finished, polished, “long enough” novel, the first I’d written that I wanted to publish. I believed in the story and was super excited about it. I had worked it over a lot–and had it worked over by other people (which was sometimes super helpful and other times . . . the opposite of that). I wanted an agent. I sent it out and sent it out. And sent it out. I had quite a few requests for full manuscripts from “big” agents. It was horrible. Almost without exception they all said really, really, really positive things–then went on to say they didn’t know where it would go on the shelf, how it would be marketed, or who it would sell to. I probably quit too soon but I was a bit disheartened–and more and more involved with/excited about other writing projects.

The end (which is actually another beginning): I shelved BIGGER THINGS and tried to move on, but it stayed lodged in my heart (corny as that is!) and frequently muttered that it wanted to be shared. . . . 

In the years that passed I sold two short novels under a pen name, a variety of short stories in addition to my non-fiction, and wrote five other novels, two that start a mystery series I’ll be pitching to traditional publishers; one that’s Book 1 in a romance series for Winding Path Books. Yet BIGGER THINGS kept whispering. And the publishing world kept changing.

I love romance and women’s fiction–and my romance and women’s fiction author friends and clients were doing marvelous, exciting, FUN things with indie publishing, but I hung back. . . . What writer doesn’t dream of New York, right?

Then one day I was walking on my property, contemplating an old cabin and what it could become, and a woman that I recognized spoke in my ear. “Oh, for crying out loud. Just publish me yourself.” I’m obedient. I dug BIGGER THINGS back out, did yet another rewrite and a polish and another polish. I met some amazing, talented people as I hired a designer, a formatting guru, and yet another editor. . . . and I have loved every bit of the process.

I have a lot of editing experience and have done some desktop publishing (small stuff, like chapbooks, anthologies, etc.), so Winding Path Books isn’t a brand new world to me, but it is a thrilling one. I’m wowed by the resources and tools available to any writer who goes looking.

There can be a lot of negativity and fear in author circles–or, at the very least, a lot of uneasiness–about the future of publishing and making a living off of your writing, but I’m excited. Never in history has there been more avenues to share your passions or the things that keep you up at night. I only see new bridges to cross, new lands to explore, more opportunity for adventure.

I’m solidly pro both indie publishing and traditional publishing, and I don’t see an either/or attitude as beneficial to anyone, particularly to any authors. Both worlds offer unique advantages and disadvantages, but the biggest, most exciting pro of the indie world is the door it opens for great books and stories that don’t fit easily into a perfectly-defined traditional market spot, how it helps them find their home. 🙂

One month till Surrey International Writers’ Conference 2014!

SiWC 2014For the fall and winter months (Yes, they’re here, wail!), I’ve decided to resurrect Déjà vu Thursdays. Exciting, right? I knew you’d think so. To kick it off, and because I just realized that it’s exactly a month until I leave for the 2014 Surrey International Writers’ Conference, I give you a happy pre-conference blurt that I wrote way back on June 10th, 2009 just after I paid my registration fee and booked my hotel and flights for SiWC 2009.

I didn’t attend last year’s conference because I was (Oh, poor me!) in London. The year before that (so 2013) my father had just passed away, and the conference was a blur. To say I’m excited about this year, but also a bit unsettled, worried that it will trigger unhappy memories, is an understatement. I know he’d want me to attend, however, to have a great time, to share BIGGER THINGS, to refill my creative well, to encourage and be encouraged, etc. After all, in the hospital he told me, “You make sure you go to that conference, Ev, even if I’m not dead yet. You paid good money for it.” Which made me laugh because it was so typically pragmatic. And cry. And, of course, tell him absolutely no way was I going if he was still there to visit with. Anyway, I’ve kind of gotten off track. Back to my old but still relevant pre-conference thoughts. I’d love to hear yours on the subject!

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So I just did something very exciting—booked a four-night stay at the gorgeous Sheraton Guildford in Surrey, BC. It seems unbelievable, but it’s already time—really time!—to start planning my favourite annual indulgence: The Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

I normally try to rein in my freakish enthusiasm and exuberance while blogging, so I don’t scare readers away, but allow me one, YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

I know some writers are sceptical of the advantages of writing conferences. They think they’re nothing but a money grab. They feel you don’t learn anything that you couldn’t from a book or a bit of research. They’re sure everyone’s just there for their egos—I’m a writer, look at me. They’re convinced you’d be better off spending the time writing, not talking about writing.

I confess I don’t understand conference bashers.

1. Yes, attending a conference is a financial commitment. That it costs you something is part of its value. Say what? Just that: Putting money into your craft, saying in essence, “I’m serious about my writing, and it’s worth not just my time, but also my material resources to pursue,” is like giving yourself a big ol’ permission slip to take your goals more seriously. It’s also a big cue to family and friends—Oh, she’s serious about this little writing thing.

Professional development (Yes, a little FYI, conferences are P-D, not just wonderfully social times where everyone sips wine, talks about their favourite things—books and storytelling, of course—and comes away absolutely inspired) betters the quality of your work and boosts your word counts. Being with other people who are excited about the same things you are is motivating.

2. Books on craft are great, and yep, you learn a lot reading them, but—and gasp, I can’t quite believe I’m saying this—there are some things being alone with a book can’t do. Reading alone in your study doesn’t give you the experience of being with 1000 other souls who love what you love—ideas, words, stories. It doesn’t give you the chance to laugh along with one of your favourite authors. It doesn’t provide the opportunity to stick up your hand in the middle of the information to say, “Gah—I don’t get it!” or “Yay—I love how you put that!”

Hearing authors talk about their personal experiences, reassure you that it’s an achievable dream (they’re living proof, after all), and answer every-question-you-can-imagine is invaluable. As is getting to learn face-to-face from agents and editors who accept books (maybe even one like yours!) for their livings.

3. As for the complaints about “egos” . . . I don’t see it. I’ve met people I don’t click with, sure. I may have (it’s terrible) even cringed or grimaced inwardly a time or two on behalf of a cornered agent or author, yep. But people are people wherever you go. The great, the bad, the meh—they’re everywhere. And for what it’s worth, I think writing conferences having a higher per ratio capacity of hilarious, generous, kind, and witty people than most public groupings. The feeling of community and camaraderie is almost the whole reason I go. I work alone day after day all year (Yay for the Internet, but that’s an aside). Even the most reclusive of us benefit from and need human company sometimes.

4. Four days of conferencing and sushilizing does not, in anyway, take away from my productivity. I write almost every day—and that’s in addition to my business writing, editing, and workshops. Surrey energizes me for a whole year. If I have a day where I feel kind of unmotivated, I look at the calendar and recall the goals I’ve set for the next conference . . . Speaking of which, I’m on track, but not ahead of where I wanted to be by this month, so I should go.

Happy writing, everyone—and if you’re heading out to Surrey this October for SiWC, let me know.

I’m also interested in any comments about why you love writing workshops or conferences—or really mix things up and tell me why I’m out to lunch and they suck!

~ Ev