Chynna's Books!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Writing Sample Wednesday: A Snippet From 'Out Of Sync'

Sorry we missed yesterday's 'Talk About It'. Not only is it Spring Break here, I have three sick kids. Of COURSE they'd get sick one their down time. On the up side, I'm getting alot of things done that I usually don't whenever they are all here.

For today's writing sample, I thought I'd share a snippet from a book I haven't touched on for awhile. 'Out Of Sync' was one of my first novels, and my only adult one. The story came to me, start to finish, in a dream and I wrote it in about three weeks. It has all the elements most of my books have: a strong main character dealing with some element of special needs (either personally or with someone close to them), a shine on the Native culture and many little twists and turns to make things interesting.

I will share the Prologue with you today, which gives a few hints as to what the book is about. It is available in both eBook and print formats, in case you want to read more. AND...we might be doing a blog tour for this one very soon. I'll  keep you posted.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this snippet.

Happy Humpday!
Accused Double Homicide Suspect to Stand Trial

EDMONTON – Yesterday in Alberta Criminal Court, Judge Fernadette Noseworthy ruled that there was enough evidence against double homicide suspect, Marcus Harper, to go ahead with a trial.

Immediately after the Judge’s ruling, Harper lost control and not only threatened his lawyer but also the Prosecution team as well. “This is your fault,” he yelled at them. “I will get out. And you will suffer as I did. All of you will suffer. You will know what it’s like to have everything taken away!”

Harper, who had been brought into the courtroom in shackles and restrained to the defense table with handcuffs, sprang at his lawyer, knocking the table over, in an attempt to choke the man. It took the bailiff and three police officers to remove him from the lawyer, with the assistance of a taser to control him.

Harper was immediately removed from the courtroom and ordered back to the Maximum Security Prison, where he had been held in isolation since his arrest. Back when local TV stations broke the story last month, public outcry for revenge grew intense, due to the brutality of his crime. And his antics in the courtroom only seemed to confirm public concerns.
* * * *
On his way out of the courtroom, the threats he directed to Cheyenne McCarthy, the Chief-of-Police, William McCarthy’s wife, were the most chilling: “I’ll save you for last, Dr. Lady. This isn’t the first time you’ve screwed with my life. You’re gonna get what you deserve. And I’ll enjoy hearing you scream for mercy.”

Cheyenne McCarthy is the Forensic Psychologist who played a key role in bringing Harper down.
Harper is accused of gunning down two people, one, a young adult male currently known as a ‘John Doe,’ and a Hopinachi woman believed to have been in the later stages of pregnancy. Harper’s detached demeanor and lack of remorse during his arrest and pretrial have sent angry ripples through the community, creating an even stronger public outcry for justice for the three lives he’s accused of taking.

When police had arrived at the scene of the shooting, Marcus was found standing by the bodies smoking a cigarette—still holding the gun in his hand—seemingly with no acknowledgment for what he had done or remorse.

“The man is sick,” one woman was quoted to have said outside of the courthouse, shortly after court adjourned. “It’s about time this thing moved forward so that guy is put away for good.”

Not all people are happy about the ruling, however. The leader of the Hopinachi Tribe, Chief Longfellow, along other tribe members who had witnessed the pretrial, felt that Harper would do better if he were returned to his people and punished in their own traditions.

“His family has suffered too much through all of this,” Chief Longfellow said, as he was led to his car by two fellow Hopinachi members. “We all need to be at peace, including Marcus.”

The Prosecution team is currently preparing a statement for later this afternoon.

Harper is without bail until his trial on the 15th of next month.
* * * *
A week had passed since the pretrial. Those involved with Marcus’s trial spent much time looking over their shoulders taking his threats to heart. Even Cheyenne.

As per Judge Noseworthy’s order, Marcus Harper was held in solitary confinement at the maximum security prison just outside of Edmonton until his trial. He was also ordered to attend the Anger and Emotions Management program, as requested by the Prosecuting team.

Even with the upcoming trial, and worries of Marcus’ threats, Cheyenne had more important things on her mind.

The atmosphere was perfect: candles were lit, Michael BublĂ© crooned from the stereo, baked gnocchi bubbled in the oven and a fruity, non-alcohol wine rested in ice. Everything was ready, except William wasn’t home yet.

She glanced at the time as she switched the plasma television on to catch the news. She didn’t like listening to the news—it always upset her. But she kept it on just in case.

Even though she has a private psychology practice, her expertise in Forensic Psychology and forensic sciences have made her a highly sought-after expert for the District Attorney , especially on high profile cases. So watching the news helps prepare her for any upcoming job she’d be forced to take on.

6:45 p.m. Where was William?

He was one of those anally-prompt people who got ready, then waited for everyone else. Cheyenne and William had made a promise to one another—once the clock hit 6:00 p.m., they’d leave work at work and spend their evenings together—except when those high-profile cases screamed for their attention.

As she checked on the gnocchi—fearing it’d been in the oven too long—something caught her eye on the television. Perry, William’s partner, was being interviewed by a local reporter. His face was white and expressionless as his lips moved. A shot of adrenaline sparked like a wildfire from her stomach out to her extremities. She reached for the remote to turn up the sound.

Perry’s rich Irish accent filled the dining room. “…he didn’t know what hit him.” What?
A reporter shoved her microphone in Perry’s face. “There’s speculation the shooter was Marcus Harper, a suspect in the double homicide at the convenience store earlier this month. Is that true, Detective?”

Perry rolled his eyes. “Darlin’, it wasn’t ‘speculation.’ It was Marcus.”

Cheyenne felt nauseous. Where was William?

“And where is Marcus now, Detective?” Microphones and tape recorders surrounded Perry’s head. “Is Harper back in custody?”

“Do ya see him around, darlin’?” Perry pushed the microphones out of his way and turned to walk back to a squad car when another question stopped him cold. “And what about Chief McCarthy,? What is his current status? Did he survive the shooting?”

Cheyenne’s blood froze. Perry spoke slowly, his back facing the crowd of reporters. “That information is private until family is contacted. You know how it works, lass. If his wife wants to make a statement after that, it’s up to her. No more questions.”

The scene switched back to the newscaster at the station. Her heart thudding, Cheyenne stared at the television.

Did he survive the shooting?

The words echoed in her head. A knock at the door caused her to drop the remote. She ran to the door and flung it open to see Perry’s grim face. He said nothing—just held out his hand.

Finally he spoke. “Ya gotta come with me, love. Now.”

Cheyenne shook her head, backing away. “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell is going on? Where’s William?”

“Just come with me, Chey,” Perry said. “I’ll tell you everything on the way to the hospital.”
Cheyenne had enough sense to shut the oven off, pull the overcooked gnocchi out and blow out the candles on the table. As she pulled her over-sized sweatshirt on, she turned back to her surprise dinner table. Her eyes welled with tears.

She left the positive pregnancy test in the middle of the table.

He’ll be back home soon…he has to be.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Music Mantra Monday: Rascal Flatts "Why" - Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Hope

Recently I was approached by an online psychology magazine and resource website to write an article about raising awareness for, and giving suggestions on how to help prevent, youth/teen suicide. It was one of the toughest assignments I've been given.

The subject matter is one that is very close to my heart, for many personal reasons. I have done many talks, written many articles on the subject and have personally reached out to a few young people who just needed someone to listen and try to understand.

Kids do not talk about death, hint about wanting to die or discuss how the world would be better off without them in it simply because they are trying to get attention.  Trust me when I say that kids in this mindset have no desire for attention. What they are seeking is relief from the pain they feel that, in their minds, no one understands (or tries to).

I chose to focus on psychology, majoring on children and families living with mental/emotional struggles and other special needs, because of the experiences I had growing up. I hungered to understand how people slipped into this dark place, and worked hard to figure out how could help.

It's one thing to hear about a random someone the world has lost. It is quite another to either witness a stranger, or even more painful, a friend, relative or your child touch on these struggles. A lot of times, these thoughts stem from a state of depression, which is treatable.

We all experience sadness and question our self-worth from time-to-time. But most of us are able to face the hurdles and down times we come to and move on. Some of us aren't strong enough on our own to get over such times and need a set of comforting hands on our shoulders to make it.

Please join me in raising awareness for our youth/teens so we'll never again have to ask, 'Why?'. After all, once we are aware of these issues, we learn to understand them.

And that is a powerful thing.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Writing Sample Saturday: Pearls of Wisdom From My Grandpa

When I was growing up, two of the people I held most dear to me were my grandparents.

My younger brother and I spent a lot of time with them when we were younger. In a way it was great because in the midst of being surrounded by chaos, they offered us a calm environment where we were loved, nurtured and could just be kids.

In a way, though, it was sad because they were more like our parents, so we didn't get that, 'fun time at Grandma and Grandpa's house' that most other kids got to enjoy. But it's all good.

I learned a tremendous amount from each of them. My Grandma taught us manners, 'proper behavior' and respect for ourselves and others. What I loved was that although she taught me the importance of 'being a lady', she also instilled in me the inner strength and courage never to let others stop me from being what I want to be just because I was a girl.

Grandpa was the one who kicked us in the butt, in a gentle way, when we weren't pulling our weight. Yes, we were allowed to be kids, but we still had to pull our weight and work hard. There was no excuse for laziness.

The following story was featured in Chicken Soup For the Soul. It focuses on the virtues my grandfather instilled in me, and that I still carry with me to this day. I think he'd be proud of where I am today and that I am trying to inspire in my children what he had always inspired in me:

~ To be myself.
~ To be the best me I could be.
~ To never give up on a dream, even when others tell me to.
~ To be brave enough to take every challenge thrown my way.
~ To never hear, or use, the words, "I can't".
~ To take every down moment, turn it into an up one and learn from the experience.
~ To surround myself with those who I aspire to be.

This is for you, Grandpa.

Thank you.

Pearls of Wisdom

Most people describe my grandfather as ‘the last of a dying breed’, whenever his name floats into conversation. I guess he was a gentleman. He opened doors, pulled out chairs, had a firm handshake and, no matter the weather, always wore a gentleman’s hat. He reminded me of Jimmy Stewart. Most of all, he loved his family with every fiber of his being.
He came from very humble beginnings and worked like a mule, as he’d said, for everything he had. Yes, when I was growing up, he had a nice house, which he’d built, in one of the more prominent areas in Winnipeg. Yes, he’d built a cabin at West Hawk Lake where our family was fortunate enough to have spent every summer. Yes, he was able to retire from the wool company he’d built from the ground up to enjoy the rest of his life gardening, golfing or resting. None of us had ever wanted for anything.  But that didn’t mean he was easy on us, or that we were spoiled.
 “Things don’t make a person, a person,” he said to me often. “You have to go out there and work hard. Nobody ever got anything by waiting for someone else to take care of them.”
My being a girl didn’t matter to Grandpa either. In fact, I think in some ways, he was harder on me than he was on my brother. But I think that was only because he saw potential in me I didn’t see.
I dropped out of high school to help my family at home, losing myself in my mom’s personal problems. Grandpa never lectured me. He just helped me get a job at the local drugstore. I really wasn’t interested in working at that age, but I sure wasn’t going to disappoint my grandfather either. Plus, I liked making my own money that wasn’t totally derived from babysitting.
I worked in retail for many years because I didn’t finish high school, but he never seemed disappointed in me. In fact, he was my loudest cheerleader and my strongest supporter. And he always had a way of making me feel better, even on days I’d beat myself up for not being the success I thought he wanted me to be.
“Chynna,” he said, holding my cheeks between his long, calloused hands. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a garbage man, as long as you’re the best damn garbage man there is. Remember that. You’re meant to be something special. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel less than that.”
Grandpa died in 1995 from a stroke, something I still haven’t gotten over. One minute he was there, the next I had an empty space in my soul nobody else could fill. But he’s still in my heart. Because of his support, his silent strength, his rib-crushing hugs and his pearls of wisdom, I got a degree in Psychology as well as completing my BPA in Criminology, I have a beautiful family of my own and have my own freelance writing/editing business I call, “Lily Wolf Words” after my grandparents (“Lily” for Lillian and “Wolf” for Wilf). And if he was here to read my books, I’m sure he’d be my main PR guy.
His pearls of wisdom are with me always and I will pass these heirlooms down through my children as his legacy. I’m not a garbage man, but I’m the best damn writer I can be. And with his name fronting my company, I’ll never have an excuse to give up. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Food For Thought: Pita Pizza!

Well, this would be the third time I've posted awesome pizza recipes. Next to hotdogs (ew), pizza is one of my kids' favorite fun foods. So I try my best to put a healthier twist on their fun foods that not only appeal to their taste buds, but eases my mommy-guilt of giving them 'junk food'.

So far, we've shared our original homemade pizza, which I turned to when I stopped buying the heavily processed, greasy and overly-salty frozen boxed stuff. And, let's face it. The stuff you get for take-out or order-in isn't exactly on the healthy side either.

Then, I shared a wonderful recipe for pepper pizza, which uses sweet peppers as the 'crust' with all the regular fixings. Surprisingly, even my son, who can be a very fussy eater, loved these.

Today we are sharing another version of pizza: pita pizza. These are fast, easy and kids love to put them together themselves. We tried these using organic Greek pitas, but you could also use the whole wheat or multi grain versions to get a bit of extra fiber. I chose the Greek ones because they have a little extra boost of protein, which I am always looking for. You could even make your own pitas, if you are ambitious.

The key is offering a nice variety of toppings that they'd be willing to give things a try.

Have fun and let me know if these go off well in your family.

Happy cooking!

8 - 12 pitas of your choice (this, of course, depends entirely on the size of your family)
pizza sauce (can be jarred, but I make my own. Can be tomato or cream-based, Pesto...anything goes)
a few cups of shredded cheese (again, go with what works. Mozza, cheddar or another fave)
Variety of favorite pizza toppings

~ Pre-heat oven to *350.
~ Shred cheese, set aside.
~ Place toppings out for the kids to pick, choose and pile on what they want to try. We usually have onions, olives, tomatoes, some kind of green (eg: spinach, herbs, arugula, etc.), feta, meat (we usually use leftover cooked meat because I don't like using processed packaged meat, but it can be easiest in a crunch). My kids have even gotten into snooping through my spice rack and choosing different spices and herbs to the mix.
~ Gently grease a few cookie sheets. Get the kids to choose their pita, put it on the cookie sheet for prep (this step is easier for counter clean-up purposes), then start with adding the sauce of their choice as the base.
~ I usually put toppings on first then the cheese but it's a preference thing. I have one kid that likes veggies under the cheese, then puts meat on last. Another that puts cheese first, then everything on top. Like I said, anything goes.
~ Once their pizzas are done to their specifications, place them in the oven for about 10 - 15 minutes. (My oven seems to cook things faster so I usually peek in on them at around 10 minutes, but it all depends on your oven and the toppings that the kids pile on).
~ Let the pizzas cool for a few minutes before cutting into them.

For vegetarian or vegan versions, substitute the cheese with vegan versions as well as the meats, and add on protein-enriched ingredients.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Awesome People Doing Awesome Things: Help For Working Moms

While going through some of my Bookmarked links a couple of weeks ago to get rid of old connections, or ones that don't even exist anymore, I came across a wonderful site called, "Work Your Way".

The focus of this website is to motivate and encourage freelance writers to continue on their path to success. Freelancing can often be a frustrating and bumpy road in the beginning, especially for those who are new to the writing arena. And Mary 'gets' this.

She began her journey helping freelancers, particularly work-at-home moms, get connected to the resources they needed to get their work out there. Mary now focuses more on giving suggestions and insight on the business side of freelancing, as well as giving wonderful advice on how to stay inspired by sticking with what keeps us excited about what we do.

Trust me, as Mary knows far too well also, getting your work out there, seen and published can be rather difficult at first especially when you have no experience. The writing arena is extremely competitive and it truly helps to have the right tools, resources and connections to make your specific work stand out above the others in the editor's pile. It can be a lot of work at first but with confidence, perseverance and the right motivation from the right people, anything is possible.

Mary, in my opinion, has been that 'right person' for many people, including myself, and I so admire what she continues to do. I am so happy that she will be joining us for an upcoming "Awesome People Doing Awesome Things". For today, I just wanted to introduce her to you all and invite you to visit her page to get an idea of who she is and the amazing things she's doing.

Tune back for our interview.

Video trailer for BLACKBIRD FLIES!

Video Trailor for JUST SHUT UP and DRIVE