January 15 - Blue Monday - I'm scared.

I'm sure this blog has been a long time coming, but it's so very hard for me to talk about. VERY few people know what's going on, only because I've felt it's not my news to share, even if it's deeply affecting me.
Even typing this, I'm crying -- which is why I can't actually voice it. So to my friends who are reading and hearing about this for the first time, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I can't say it in person. I wanted to, but it's too hard. I hope you understand why. (I hate crying in front of people, or even my own family.)


My dad has cancer. 


There I said it. Still doesn't make it easier. We just got through my maternal grandfather dying from it on March 14, 2016. And then my maternal grandmother passed on February 4, 2017. In between that I lost two friends, one on November 20th (to cancer) and another on Dec 29th. I'm really tried of Death hanging around. Seriously, it needs to chill out and take a vacation --- far away, like Antarctica or something. In the fall, we dealt with what appeared to be some serious health complications with my 10 year old son -- which THANKFULLY on November 16, turned out to be inaccurate, and my son will NOT need new lungs anytime soon.

I figured that was the end of our medical woes and bad news for 2017. We were on the home stretch and a fresh, new year was on the horizon.


WRONG. 


Wednesday November 29th my world was rocked once again.

My dad is a colourful character, and anyone who's ever met him, will remember him. Even if they've only met him once. He just has a way with people, good, bad and interesting (he has NO issues telling you what's on his mind, and giving you his opinion. In a way, it's refreshing, and irritating. LOL). Call it charisma, call it charm, call it whatever you want. He's okay with that.

Many people say I am just like my father as far as looks, mannerisms and personality, although I tend to err on the side of diplomacy. But there's no mistaking who my father is. None. My dad and I are pretty close, at least I think so.

He started having some pretty bad pains on Tuesday November 21 -- two days after he renewed wedding vows with Mom -- and spent a few hours in emergency, several times over the course of a week. He met with his personal doctor a couple of time. I'll spare you the details but he went from a robust 60+ year old man to being unable to walk because of the pain in the span of a few days. His life went downhill fast.

I thank GOD everyday that he has a kind and caring doctor, who fast tracked him as the whole thing was out of the ordinary for my dad. Tuesday November 28th my parents spent the night in emerg (again) and dad had more tests done. He wasn't supposed to but he saw the results ahead of the doctor he was meeting on November 29th.

My parents phoned and asked to meet me at the McD's near my house. My heart stopped. This wasn't going to be good news, I just knew it, and I figured they wanted to meet me there rather than at my house because I'd cause less of a commotion (as diplomatic as I can be, I'm also highly emotional).

I sat down, and my parents, who usually sit side by side, changed seats. Dad sat beside me, Mom across from me. I could barely hear from the race of my blood as it pounded through my veins. I see my parents every week. I saw Dad on Sunday. Four days later he looked like he'd aged a decade. His eyes were tired, he could barely move. And he dropped the news.

"My kidney is full of little tumors, and one very big one. That one is full of cancer." 

I know he said more, but I couldn't hear. I hugged my dad. I cried inside a McD's as I looked at my mother, who was completely shaken by the news. This isn't what we wanted to hear. We thought it was an infection of the bladder, or as the pain progressed, a kidney infection. We never expected to hear it was kidney cancer.

I offered my kidney, after all, since we're so similar, I'm sure we'd be a perfect match. But he won't need it -- for now, so I'm saving it and making it the best kidney, just in case he does.

I'm thankful for a system that got him in, with the ultrasounds and CT scans and bloodwork and catheters and genuine care he's felt over the past 8 weeks.

Friday he goes in for surgery to remove the bad kidney. 

They are confident that the cancer is located in just the one kidney, but still they are going to look around and check his lymph nodes out, as well as other tissues just to be sure. I am putting my trust into these surgeons that they do a remarkable job, and he comes out of the OR cancer free.

Friday, I will be sitting/pacing/praying at the hospital with my mom and brother, and we will wait (and pray) and worry. One of my dad's so-called friends told him he'll die on the table (WTF? Who says that???) But he has to have more time on Earth as he's not finished yet. Plus, I'm selfish. I'm not ready to lose him.

I'm scared. I'm terrified and I don't know what to do. 

Death needs to be nowhere near the hospital. My kids still need their Papa, and my mom needs her liver (a nickname). Cancer is a bitch, and I'm mad that it's touched someone so close to me. It's always been an arm's length away, as I know several who have had it, or been affected by it. But it's never been this close.

So if you know of any ideas on what I can do, to either help Mom through this, to help Dad post-surgery, lay them on me. I'm completely open. I want a care package for them both but I have no idea what to include??
The hardest day will be Friday for Mom, the night before for Dad.

Thank you for reading, and if you can, say a prayer for my parents. They're going to need it, even if they don't believe.


UPDATE

Dad's kidney was removed Friday Jan 19. It was a long morning as Mom, Brother and I waited in the waiting. It was a relief to have the nurse tell us he was in recovery, and even better when we got to see him. The road to recovery is going to be a rough one, if the past three days are any indication, but the doctor confirmed what we hoped: 
There was no metastasis beyond the kidney and the lymph nodes looked clear. :) Yeah. He is cancer free, and alive. The best news of all.  

2018 Goals

Alright 2018 - I'm ready for you! Bring it on. 


My goals are lofty and ambitious, but I think I can achieve them. 

Professionally: 
To do more giveaways. Watch my twitter and facebook pages for more details.
Finish up Joy's story by Jan 30.
Write Meghan's story by March 15. 
Select covers for the four books in the Westside Series by March 30. 
Secure editing for all four books. 
To swallow my fear and talk to the powers that be at our local book store that carries local authors.
Contact bloggers for the fall release of the entire series. 
Release the books 4 - 6 weeks apart starting mid to late September. 
Continue to promote the hell out of other books.
Continue blogging. Perhaps even streamline it a bit, but we'll see. I like showing you parts of me that aren't always writerly. 
To stop be a stepping stone for others who abuse my time and generosity. 


Personally: 
To read 30 books or more.
To walk over 1000 kms. My treadmill's been neglected lately and I miss the feeling I got after a solid workout.
To pamper myself a little more; whether it be massages, facials or pedicures. 
To have more coffees/lunches with my friends. 
To de-clutter and rid my house of extra things - I'm having a wicked garage sale in the spring. Watch out! 
To reconnect with a lost friend - this will be a work in progress as a lot of hurt happened in the fallout.
To have a couple of great vacations. Planning on something wonderful for my 20th wedding anniversary, and something in the summer. 
To cherish time with my kids. It won't be long before hanging with mom will no longer be cool, got to max it out while I can. 



What about you? Do you have any goals for the upcoming year? 

2017 - A Year in Review - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

What a year 2017 was! It didn't start out so well, with two celebrations of life within the first week. It marginally improved until I lost my beloved Grandmother on February 4. At least now she and my grandfather are together again, and that gives me some peace, even if I miss her every day. 
2017 was also the year I dealt with my youngest's health issues. At each respirology visit, he got worse, and his medications were increased. It wasn't until October, after a really bad visit where we were told my young son would need new lungs, that we got referred to a new pediatric Respirologist. That visit in November changed things for us. My son wasn't as sick as the other doctor was reporting (and to his credit, he was going based off the breathing test report done in another part of his office). It seems like that may have been where things went south. But I know now. He's on meds he was on 2 years ago, and is doing fine! Amen! 

In November, my Momma Bear came out with full claws when my oldest child was attacked at school. Grr... My son was okay as it was an isolated issue, and I dealt with the situation with tact and restrain (I think) and eventually the child was transferred to another school. It stirred up some very mixed emotions in me. As happy as I was to learn he was gone, I worried what kind of home life that child had to be so destructive in his life. And my heart broke a little. I hope wherever he is, that there are some programs he can access. 

But there were a lot of good things that happened as well, both personally and professionally. 
We went on an amazing trip to the US to take in the Total Solar Eclipse. You can read about the highlights here

I stepped out of my comfort zone and took a trip down the North Saskatchewan River in a canoe. Too many people filled my head with doubt and all the things that could go wrong. None did (thankfully) and we had an amazing time. So much so, we'll be doing it again! Read and see the pictures I took here.

Also, the limits of my daytime job were tested. Gutting the huge library in June and packing/moving thousands of books was a taxing endeavor. Putting it all back together starting at the end of August was grueling. I built tables and shelves, and moved some sections of books 4-5 times until the new placement was just right. However, I'm pleased to say, most of the people I've talked to who have changed their libraries into learning commons took about a year to reorganize their literary collections, and somehow I managed to do it in 4 months. Now when I return next week, I can focus on getting the rest of the commons set up with the non-book portion and work on behind the scenes things. I'll blog about it soon.

Ended the year with some devastating news about someone very close to me. My dad has kidney cancer -- however -- the doctors & specialists are uber confident that when they remove his kidney in mid-January, that he will be cancer free. We can only hope they are correct. Considering the speed from diagnosis to removal will be less than two months, I pray they are right and chemo and radiation may not be needed. Any prayers are most welcome!


So, did I make my 2017 goals? I need to see high to set the bar for 2018.

My 2017 Goals were:
-Release Two Books - DONE! That Summer came out Feb 19, If You Say Yes on October 17.
-Budget for Advertising - I did, and sadly the ROI wasn't very high. Need to rethink my marketing.
-Find an affordable and GOOD editor - Still searching for this.  
-Promote the hell out of my friend's books - YES! So many great books this year.
-To blog more - Did it - 40 times to be exact. 
-To unsubscribe from mailing lists - DONE! And my inbox has never been happier. 
-To let go Still working on this, but I managed to let some things go. 
-To be more "selfish" YES. 
- To have more date nights It was a weird year for this, but something to focus on in 2018. 

In retrospect, it was a good year. Had room for improvement, to be sure, but we survived and lived to tell about it.
What about you? Looking back at 2017, how was your year overall?

A DIY Foosball game


Every year in my family, we have a tradition we stick to (and have for over 30 years). It's to draw a name at Thanksgiving and you make a gift for that name. On Christmas Eve (or Christmas Day as it's moved to now), we present our handmade gifts. It started out with four family members and grew to include spouses, and a couple years back the kids were old enough to join in, so now there's ten of us. It's probably the most exciting part for our family - to see what the others have crafted and created with their own hands. 


Over the years, there have been so many unique handmade gifts -- housecoats, chess boards with golf players for pieces, under the bed storage units, wedding scrapbooks, string art designs and so much more. 
This year, I drew my youngest's name and struggled with what to make him that
A) he wouldn't see me creating. It is supposed to remain a secret until the big reveal and
B) something that was sturdy and can withstand a tough playing ten year old and
C) wouldn't take up too make valuable play space in his room and
D) was something I could make within my limits and knowledge and budget. 

I scoured the internet, hunting for ideas and kept coming back to a miniature foosball game. Most if not all were made out of a shoebox, and would take ten minutes to create. That wasn't going to work. I wanted something that would withstand a play, and maybe even last a few years. I continued searching. Nothing. Sigh. 

Well, I'm not one to give up. I'll create my own, and use my limited math skills and construct the thing from scratch. Since there was nothing readily available, I jotted down notes and took pictures to share with you, if you are deciding to make your own table top Foosball Soccer game. 

Here's what my finished product looked like: 


 As best as I can recall, this is my supply list: 
- 3/4" thick board 4 inches wide of about 8 feet long. 
- 4 x 1/4" dowels of 4 foot lengths
- 1 x 1" dowel (I needed about 16" worth)
- 1 sheet of 1/4" thick particle board - for the base. I used something similar to what goes on the back of bookshelves but a tad thicker
- 26 clothespins
- 4 corks 
- carpenters glue
- paint
- nails
- varnish
- saws/drills/hammers/etc

I started out simply enough. I took my clothespins apart and glued the fronts together to make miniature men. I made extra (thank goodness, as two snapped when I drilled the holes for the dowels. Start small and change out your drill bit, working your way up to 1/4". Too big, too fast and heads will fly. LMAO!) I'd recommend saving the painting until the drilling is complete. ;) Lesson learned for me.

Then came the fun part. I'm not a math person by any stretch, but I drew out and mapped the layout so I'd know how much wood I needed, based on the size of the men and the distance apart they needed to be. They could be spaced even an inch further apart which would add to the overall length, but for mine, it worked out okay even if they men have potential to hit each other on occasion. Like I said, there were no drawings/diagrams for me to base a smaller version on.



 And then I got to put to use my woodworking skills. I used a hacksaw on the dowels, cutting the 1/4" ones to 22" long, and the 1" thick one into 2" long pieces. I drilled out a 1/4" thick hole down the centre of each thick dowel, but did NOT go through (this will become the handle).
Using a saw, I cut the poplar board into 2 x 28" lengths, and 2 x 12.5" lengths (so the overall width would be 14".) I will leave out the part that my board was warped and as such, did not go neatly together like it should have. Lesson learned -- buy perfectly straight boards. Apparently, these are known for warping. Anyhow, some adjustments were made, and I got everything hammered together and it laid flat. Good enough for me. :)
I cut the bottom board into a 28" by 14" piece and nailed it on. Perfecto!!

Then came more drilling. I drilled eight 9/32" holes along the length 2" from the bottom. Anyone who has ever shopped in the wood department knows a true 1x4, is not actually 1" x 4". ;) The holes are just large enough for the 1/4" dowels to go through and turn/twist with ease, and the height is perfect so the little men don't scrape the bottom and their heads are barely visible over the top of the side boards. The cork pieces also got a 1/4" hole through the centre -- these will become the bumpers to stop the dowels from going to far in/out.

With everything flat and drilled, I gave it a nice sanding to smooth the sides and the ends of the dowels. Time to paint. I grabbed a couple of 'sample sized' paint containers and had them tinted to the colour I needed, and used that. For the bottom, it took about 3 coats to get a nice even coverage and it took at least that to cover the sides in a rich brown. I painted on the white goalie lines before finishing with multiple coats of varnish. It's so shiny!!


Working on the men was by far one of my favourites, and easiest of the entire project. I had lots of acrylic paint on hand, and painted all 26 men, and painted the handles red & blue to match the players, and the bumpers black. 


Binder clips work awesome to hold them while they dry. ;) After all men were painted, each got a number on his back before the varnish went on and were tested to make sure the dowel fit through when everything dried. 

With everything painted and varnished, it was assembly day. Dun-dun-dun!! They all fit - the dowels through the holes, the bumpers on the end, the men through the middle. :) Happy dance! I glued each piece on, spacing them according to my measurements. 


My oldest came into the room and we tested it out with a little ball. It works well and the players are good kickers. Now to wait until Christmas Day to reveal my project. Can't wait to see his little face. I hope he likes it. I'll keep you posted. 

If you make your own based off of this, I'd LOVE to know of any adjustments you made. 









November - a month in review

Wow - November flew by in a flash. Already December is knocking on the door, good thing I am starting to prepare for it. Are you? Our tree is up, the cards are signed (and mostly mailed) and the little people (nieces, nephews, kids) are all purchased and wrapped. Just a few adult gifts to purchase remain. Hopefully, I'll have time to do some Christmas baking, and if not, that's what the bakery is for, am I right?
What are you plans for Christmas? Do you have any traditions?

So what have I been up to professionally?
In October I wrote a short 45K novel, featuring Jasper and Jade (they've had a couple of name changes but these names are much more fitting to the characters) a Bohemian and a straight laced lady. This is the first book of a brand new series, affectionately titled the Westside Series, about a group of servers searching for love.


For the month of November, I set daily word goals as part of NaNoWriMo (National November Writing Month) and wrote the second book in the series. It's not finished yet, as I still need to wrap up the ending. But it's an amazing love story, and won't be quite what you think. ;) You'll see. The story revolves around one of Jade's co-workers named Evanora, and her journey to love and acceptance. My plan is to finish it up before Christmas so it can hit beta readers and my critique partner in the new year. If all goes well, I want to release the entire series before the end of 2018. Wish me luck.  

Interested in being one of the first to see sneak peeks, promos, blurbs and more? Join my special group where all the news about this series will release FIRST. :)  You won't want to miss it. 

And personally, in the month of November, I got some great news as far as my youngest son's health, after a nightmare-ish health scare. Had to deal with a bully who attacked my oldest son at school, and ended the month with bad news about another family member. That's my three, right?  My anxiety has reached epic levels and I'm not sleeping much. Really, some good news would be most welcome and that's my Christmas wish - health and happiness for everyone. 


Thanks for reading and see you in the brand new year! :)

Check it Out - #NewRelease from Emma Tharp


Keeping It Casual by Emma Tharp

Now available for free! 

Amazon UK: Amazon AU: Amazon US:



It started with a proposition: one night.

But Reid Livingston’s steel eyes, hot as hell body, and alpha male attitude tempt Mia to accept his second proposition. A no-strings attached relationship while he’s in town.

Mia thinks she can do it. She’s in no position to start a new relationship anyway. But when she starts seeing his sweet, thoughtful side, the one that takes care of her and starts healing her, she knows she’s falling for him. Who’s going to be there to pick her up when he leaves town - and her - behind?

Mia thought she was strong, thought she could keep it casual.
 Turns out she was wrong.

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The Aurora Trilogy is complete


It started with a standalone (Duly Noted), a story about a girl-Aurora, her prescription drug addiction, and her fear of cars that gave her vehicular PTSD. I thought was over when I got to the final page. Turns out I was wrong. 
Something inside my brain was tickling that I hadn't told the whole story. In a whirlwind, That Summer fell out of me. It explained so much more, and delved even deeper into Aurora's PTSD but the end result was that it also made her question so much more. Hmm... what to do? 
It took a while longer, but finally the rest of the story came to light. And it made so much more sense. It explored her addictions, and her need for something stronger. Her new drug became something else she hadn't expected, but it turned her life around and gave her hope. The final pages of If You Say Yes showcase her true happiness, something she never expected to find. 
It took three stories spanning seven months to show her complete growth, from sassy and closed off to a woman who's ready to explore and finally live her life. 


Duly Noted (book 1)- on sale until Dec 1 for $0.99 US 

The blurb and the cast of characters await you here
You can also read the first chapter here



That Summer (book 2) - on sale until Dec 1 for $0.99 US




If You Say Yes (book 3) - on sale until Dec 1 for $2.99 US 






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