I have learned a lot of things lately. Some personal...some professional. On a personal note, I've learned that knowing when things are 'too much' is a good thing. It's OKAY to take a time out once in awhile. It's OKAY to cry if and when you need to. It's OKAY to admit defeat as long as you remember to pick yourself up and go on. Those are very humbling things, I have to say. I consider myself a very strong person but I've learned that it takes a stronger person to admit she needs help once in awhile than pretend all is good and she can do it all on her own.
On a professional level, I was painfully reminded what happens when you aren't able, or willing to, continue with self-promotion. You see, over this last year I had a combination of personal and health issues that required me to pay more attention to what was going on around me rather than my work and books. It was a difficult decision to make because, as authors, our main responsibility is to make sure we are doing our part to promote ourselves and our work. Admittedly, I wasn't doing that. I couldn't. Yes, I was focusing on what was most important at the time but, still. I wasn't doing my job as an author. For that reason, my novel DARK WATER will no longer be published through Imajin Books. It was strictly a business decision, and I 'get' that, but it still hurts. It's fine, though. There were no hurt feelings and I still have the utmost of respect for the publisher and I thank her for her insight, her influence and her generosity.
DARK WATER will now officially be published through ASTRAEA PRESS and will be an awesome series. Stayed tuned for further developments.
On that note, I am sharing a scene from one of my works-in-progress, Passing Loop. This is a book about three generations of women trying not only to deal with what's in the present but all that they have in the past. I hope you enjoy it.
“You can make me go but you can’t make me like it,” Chrissella Cantelli said.
“Oh come on, Chrissy,” her mother, Enya, said. “It’s not that bad.”
“How can you say that? You’re kidnapping me to some stupid butt hole small town in the middle of nowhere. All of my friends are here. I only have one year left at school before I go to university, and I just started a job at the coffee house. Why are you doing this to me?”
Her mom shoved bubble wrap on top of an open box, and folded the flaps down. “Stop being so dramatic. First of all, Melville is not that small. There are over 4500 people living there. And I’m not kidnapping you. You are only seventeen. You’re going because I’m your mother and I say so. You’ll survive, I promise.” She ripped off a line of packing tape, pressed it down on top of the closed box, then added, “Besides, I think you could stand to make some new friends.”
“And what’s wrong with my friends?”
“You want the whole list, or just the top ten?”
Chrissella folded her arms across her chest and glared. “That’s really nice. I get into trouble once…”
Enya stopped mid-taping, and raised an eyebrow. “Once?”
“Fine…a few times…”
“Crissy, you cut school, I’ve caught you smoking, I came home from work one night to a bunch of under-aged teenagers drinking in my home and that one girl…Karen, is it?…making out with some boy in my bed.
“Mom, they aren’t that bad. Seriously. Don’t you remember being a teenager? And that thing with Karen was crappy. I didn’t invite her. We aren’t even friends. Plus, I didn’t even know that was going on or I would have stopped it.”
Her mom finished taping up the box, then shoved it to the side with the others piled up almost ceiling high. “Maybe if you hadn’t been hanging over the toilet, that is, right? In fact, I think you are still serving a grounding sentence for that little party, if I’m not mistaken.”
Heat rose up Chrissella’s neck, settling into her cheeks. “Well, if I’m not mistaken, you did a lot of those things and more. And you were a lot younger than me.”
Enya froze mid-stride on her way to the kitchen and turned, her face frozen in a glare. “Now look. I ‘get’ that you’re ticked off that I am moving you out of the big city to my hometown. I ‘get’ you’re resentful that I’m taking you out of school so close to graduation to finish somewhere else. I can even ‘get’ that you might not feel great about having to meet new friends. But you do not get to talk to me like that or treat me like crap under your shoe. Yeah, I did make some bad choices when I was younger. But I learned from them, and so will you.” She continued walking, then said over her shoulder, “Now go make sure you have everything packed up in your room and that you have what you need for the trip. The truck should be here soon.”
Angry tears flooded Chrissella’s eyes as she stomped off to her room. I’m not going to make this easy on anyone, she thought. No one asked me how I felt about moving two provinces away to help care for a grandmother who never gave a hooter’s damn about me.
She flopped face down on her bare mattress lying in the middle of her room. The walls were all bare, the closet empty and all of her possessions packed away in various sized boxes. She flipped over onto her back, staring up at the ceiling fan.
What happened? Two weeks earlier things had been awesome. She had gotten a new job, had planned on saving up for her own car and had actually been doing better in school. Then Lily Gran’s doctor called her mom telling her that the old woman had fallen and broken her hip. Her mom had decided that once Chrissella had finished the school year, they’d pack up and move to Melville to help her grandmother. Moving to a small town after living in the big city her entire life was going to be hard enough. The added ‘bonus’ of being forced to live with Lily Gran was enough to make her want to jump from the top of her apartment building.
“Still mad at me?”
Without taking her eyes off the ceiling fan, Chrisella responded to her mom. “Of course. But you feed me and don’t make me pay rent yet so I’ll force myself to be nice to you.”
Her mother’s gentle hoarse-like laugh echoed around the empty room. “Move over. I’ll join you.”
Chrissella scooted over, allowing her mother to lie down. They didn’t speak for several seconds. A breeze blew the smell of car exhaust, mixed with food and coffee smells from the street below, through the open window. A car honked, then a loud squeal indicated a sudden stop. A woman cursed, and a man responded with several insults of his own. Food truck vendors yelled to passers-by about their wares.
“And you’re making me give up all of this toxic wonderfulness,” Chrissella finally said.
“Personally, I’m looking forward to a bit quieter of an environment. The city stinks, literally. And it’s loud. And you can be guaranteed there will be no smog warnings in Melville.”
“Oh great. Fresh air too? My lungs are going to go into shock. If you tell me we’ll be living on a farm and I’m going to have to wear overalls and a straw hat singing, “Ee-I-Ee-O”, I may as well end it all now.”
They looked at each other, then burst into giggles.
“No, Lily Gran doesn’t live on a farm. She did in Scotland, but hated it. Don’t tell her I told you that. She lives in a big house on a small acreage just outside of Regina.”
“The woman hates me.”
Her mom pushed herself up and leaned on her elbow. “She does not. Why would you think that?”
“Mom, she has seen me once in my entire life and she never even talked to me. I may have only been five, but I remember it clearly. She wouldn’t even look at me. She’s never called me or sent me a birthday card. Hell, she rarely calls you. How am I supposed to feel good about sharing a living space with a woman who obviously harbors some serious resentment towards me?”
“She’s angry with me not you. And she’s more bark than bite.”
“Her bark is pretty damn scary from what I remember.”
“Nah. That’s her natural tone and attitude. She’s Scottish.”
Chrissella moved her gaze from the ceiling fan to her mom. Actually, her mom looked a lot like Lily Gran with her dark red hair, fair skin and green eyes. The major difference is that her mother had a beautiful, kind face and was rarely without a smile, whereas her grandmother had a constant scowl.
Maybe if Lily Gran loosened up that bun she always wears, her face would relax, Chrissella thought, repressing a laugh.
“Give her a chance, Chrissy,” her mother said, pushing herself up to her knees. “You might find the two of you have more in common than you think.”
Enya got up, stretched, then repressed a yawn.
“Tired again? You’ve been like that a lot lately.”
“Ah, don’t worry about me. It’s probably just the stress of the move. I’ll be okay. Promise.”
“Yeah. I totally ‘get’ the stress part.”
Suddenly, a loud honk, similar to the sound of a semi horn, blared from the street caused them both to jump.
“That must be the moving guys.” Her mother moved to the window and looked down. “Yup. They’re here. Let’s get the last of the stuff ready.”
Chrissella groaned, got up then leaned the mattress against the wall of boxes. She walked up beside her mom, resting her chin on her shoulder. Her mom leaned her head down on Chrissella’s.
“We good?” her mom asked.
“Guess so. For now.”
“Anyone you need to say goodbye to before we start loading up?”
“Nah. I’ll just text everyone later. That’s if I can have my cell back.”
Enya kissed Chrissella’s temple, then said, “We’ll see after we get everything all loaded up.”
The door buzzer went off in the living room and Enya ran to let the movers in.
Thank God we have an elevator, Chrissella thought. Otherwise I’d start chucking crap out the window.
She took one last look around her room, and her eyes stopped at an old, ragged teddy bear she’d had since she was little. His dark brown fur was worn and balling. And although it was faded, he still wore a beret and traditional kilt of her family’s clan. She had no idea where she got the bear, or who named it Quincy, but he’d always been there.
Her mother’s voice calling her from the living room brought her out of her thoughts. “Chrissy? The movers are up. Let’s get going.”
“Coming!” She grabbed her backpack, stuffed Quincy inside then walked toward her door.
I’m keeping one thing from my life here with me, she thought. And I won’t make this easy for anyone. Get ready, Melville. And especially you, Lily Gran.