Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I wish each and every one of you a joyous Christmas.  Gather with friends in front of the fire this evening or cuddle with your kids on the couch.  Whatever your tradition may be, celebrate the eve of Christmas with love and expectation in your heart.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Confessions of an Aging Writer (re-post from Feb/12)

Please do not think less of me. I lie. No, not about everything. My age mostly. I have always lied about my age. Way back when, it was such a kick the way I looked older. That was so cool. Little did I know that after I turned thirty, looking older than my age was not so cool.
Dressed to go out−makeup applied and hair freshly shampooed−I am convinced I don’t look too bad. Then again, I am getting very near sighted. If not for the extendable magnifying mirror, applying my makeup would prove challenging. On the positive side, my ever-multiplying age spots would not be as noticeable.

Since this is a confession, I might as well be brutally honest. Glancing in the mirror can still catch me off guard. Pausing to study my reflection, I pull back the loose skin on my face. I pull tighter until my jowls disappear. That makes my eyes look slightly misshapen but my face looks more like the face I remember.
It is the weight gain, of course. It is easier to believe that gaining weight in middle age is inevitable than it is to trek to the gym each morning. We should be comfortable in our own skin. I just never realized that I would have this much skin. Like Bette Davis said, Getting old ain’t for sissies.

A blonde since my teens, I had this crazy urge to discover the true colour of my hair. My friends were horrified at the very thought. As I explained to them, it takes a lot of energy to be a perky blonde. It was the conception for years that blondes have more fun. Well, I wasn’t sure if I needed all that fun anymore.
My stylist, unable to change my mind, hacked off my hair to a spiky length to ease the transition. To my surprise and delight, my hair grew in TOTALLY GREY. Everyone was shocked. I liked it! No one else liked it. Not my friends. Not my co-workers. Not my husband. I asked my son if he liked my new colour. He looked at my hair before saying, Why? Did you change it? So much for that.

Many months later, my husband still had not accepted the grey. I could tell. I went to a new hairdresser. My trusted regular had moved out west. I asked for a few dark streaks for interest sake through my grey. The grey hair that I loved. She nodded her head as if she understood what I wanted. She didn’t have a ##$% clue.
She unveiled my new do. I would have shrieked in horror had my throat not been paralyzed with shock. I could not even cry. My face in the mirror paled and then became red and blotchy. With shaking hands I pulled my debit card from my wallet.

The car made the trip home on autopilot. My husband and son stopped talking when I walked through the room. They looked at me. I know they looked. With instinctive self-preservation they did not speak. My expression alone stifled their comments.
Streaks? What streaks? The near black hair was too awful for words. I could not get rid of the colour. Even washing my hair three times a day did not reveal a trace of grey.

Let me tell you the worst of the situation. I had lectured every woman within earshot that grey hair was natural and beautiful, and women should not obsess over a younger image. It was far better to age gracefully with shining silver hair. We were middle-aged women, after all.
Naturally, horror stricken with my dyed hair, I could not look anyone in the eye. I felt like a traitor. I had actually influenced some of the women to go au naturel. How could I face them?

I wore hats and scarves each time I left the house. I apologized for my look to absolute strangers; cashiers at the grocery store, the receptionist at the vet’s office. I was utterly traumatized. Only another woman would understand my anguish.
Returning to the hair salon, I demanded my grey hair back. The stylists stood around my chair looking from one to the other. They told me there was nothing they could do. They pooh-poohed my contention that it would take years to get rid of the colour. Having finally settled into a longer hairstyle that I loved, chopping my hair short again was not an option.

Finally, after months of trimming (at a new hair shop), exposing my dark locks to the sun, and daily shampooing, what remained were streaks of different colours−with grey roots.
My new hairdresser, Giulia, understood my nightmare with the almost-black hair. She suggested lowlights. The results were pleasing. I finally had the subtle streaks of interest through my hair that I had requested back on that devastating day. This time everyone loved the new look!

Perhaps I look a bit younger now. I know I feel younger. I continue to lie about my age. Only this time I add a few years. They gasp and squeeze my arm before gushing, “You look marvellous, dear.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Write On Lorna Pominville (re-post from Feb/12)

Her name is Lorna Pominville. Tenacious and capable describe her. With the advent of her new release, Alpha! Alpha! Alpha!, there is only one word that defines her− fearless!

When you live your dreams
you’re answering your soul’s
request to be heard
...A Fearless Woman quote byJeannine Roberts Royce

At age fifty-five Lorna packed all her belongings in storage, said adios to the family, and embarked on an exciting and eventful ten year employ as a nurse on a cruise ship.

Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! is a wonderfully candid account of her adventures behind the scenes of a luxurious floating palace.

I was impressed and, yes, intrigued when I learned Lorna had worked the cruise ships. Not only because it sounded like an interesting job but also because she accepted this position later in life.

With her family grown and gone from the nest, she was off and

Lorna is charming and quick-witted. Always a laugh bubbling just below the surface. It is my pleasure to know her and now having read her book I know her a lot better.

I caught up with Lorna and over an enjoyable lunch and pleasurable glass of merlot, she answered some questions I could not resist asking.

Q:Lorna, in your book you claim to be five feet tall.You don’t appear that tall to me but I won’t challenge you.(laugh)
Lorna:I used to be taller.(more laughter)Until now, I never weighed more than 90 lbs.I remember being thrilled when I reached the 89 mark.
Q:I never realized until I read your book what was expected of you physically in your job. Did your size not come into question during the hiring process?
Lorna:No, a nurse accepts the same physical challenges no matter where she works.
Q:I couldn’t help laughing when I read about you taking the large lady in the wheel chair down the gangway. I could picture your little rubber-soled shoes lifting off the ground.
Lorna:Oh my goodness, I thought we were going to crash.(laughter)
Q:Did you expect that being a nurse on a cruise ship would be a different experience?
Lorna:Nursing is different even in different areas of a hospital.I knew it would be different on the ship.For one thing, I needed an ACLS (Advanced Cardio Life Support) certificate.
Q:Obviously, you enjoy a challenge.What qualities did you have that prepared you for life aboard ship?
Lorna:I enjoy a warm climate.I love to travel.I had done some travelling−not a lot−but I had been to China, Hawaii, Spain.A couple of cruises, as well.
Q:You were a 55-year-old woman applying for a job on a cruise ship.Was age ever an issue?
Lorna:No, maturity and experience were assets.I was physically fit and energetic.
Q:That’s a good thing.You didn’t believe in using elevators, did you.
Lorna:No, I was always racing up and down the stairs from one deck to another.That was my exercise.We had a gym facility for crew but it wasn’t practical for me to use it.The minute I changed into sweats and got on a machine I could get a call.We only had five minutes to respond to an emergency.
Q:There are so many adventures in your book−your camel ride being one that comes to mind.You live life to the fullest and it shows on every page.You mention sampling the different cuisine; were you ever sick from food poisoning?I remember you did not like eating eel.(laugh)
Lorna:No, I was never sick.I was always willing to try something new.Sometimes with the language barrier, I wasn’t sure what I was eating.(much laughter)It was probably better that way.Do you remember what I said about the snakes?
Q:What struck me most in reading your account, aside from your positive attitude and confidence, was your hardiness.I can’t imagine being alone in a lifeboat with the prospect of scaling a six-foot concrete wall without assistance.I would have packed my bags and gone home long before that episode.Did you ever consider leaving your job?
Lorna:No, never.In that particular instance, it was a drill and the tide had changed.No, I was dedicated to my work.There were times−there are times in anyone’s job−but I knew I could quit at the end of a contract.When that time came, I always looked forward to my next contract.
Q:What prompted you to write articles for travel magazines?How did that come about?
Lorna:I knew the publisher of the magazine.We’d gone to school together.She heard I was working for a cruise line and she approached me.I thought, oh that sounds exciting.I wrote one article a month for a year and a half.
Q: Tell me a bit about yourself. Your life before hitting the high seas.
Lorna:I was a professional dressmaker.When all three kids were in school, I went back to school myself.I completed my grade thirteen and went on to nursing school. Then university.I would have liked to pursue a career in interior design or continue with my dressmaking, but nursing contributed more to the household income.I enjoyed nursing.I thought of becoming a nurse from an early age.After working in Sarnia for sixteen years, I decided to make a change.I was on my own, having been divorced for many years, and my children were married. There were more nursing opportunities in London so I moved there.I worked for seven years non-stop and continued my education at Fanshawe. Then I spotted an ad in a nursing journal.The rest is in the book.
Q:Lorna, what is next for you?
Lorna:Right now, I am promoting my book.I would like to organize some more book signings.A couple of groups contacted me for speaking engagements.That sounds like fun.I keep in touch with a number of the crew that I worked with over the years and they are excited about my book and anxious to read it.I have a request from South Africa that I am filling.I keep busy.I always have a project on the go.I still love to sew.
Q:What project are you working on now?
Lorna:A bit of woodworking.I am putting mouldings on the door in my condo.(laugh)I just want to dress it up a bit.
Q:I am convinced there is nothing beyond your capabilities, Lorna.I know everybody is anxious to read about your escapades.Where can they pick up a copy of Lorna Pominville’s Alpha! Alpha! Alpha! Tales of a Cruise Ship Nurse?
Lorna:From the Honey and Locust, 180 N. Front Street in Sarnia, or from me. Contact me at lornapominville@hotmail.comI can send you a personalized copy.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Reflecting on a Year of Writing

We were enjoying an after lunch tea before attending the theatre, when we began discussing my blog.  Yes, it’s been over a year since I started The Write Break.  It’s not particularly aimed at writers but is more the thoughts of a writer.  Namely me.

My friend and greatest advocate, Diane, suggested this week’s blog be about my accomplishments over the past year.  Her comment made me realize that I dwell mostly on what I have not accomplished. 

Diane’s nudge, and the ensuing discussion, revealed that even though I didn’t secure that big publishing contract, a great many good things have happened in my writing career over the past few months.

Two print anthologies have included my short stories.  Simone Press, U.K., published one anthology, Indie Trigger Short Stories, which is available on Amazon.  Another two stories have been chosen for a print anthology in the New Year. 

This year my stories have, also, appeared in online journals, as well as a newspaper.  The publication She’s All Around You, an amazing tribute to Peggy Fletcher, included an excerpt from my blog.
Bob McCarthy asked me to write the foreword for his latest book, Voices of Lambton−An Alphabet of Stories, which means that my writing is now in the public library system.

In March, I began writing a column, Up Close and Personal, for the monthly magazine, First Monday.  During that time, in addition to sundry columns, I wrote two three-part series. 
The inexplicable success of Fifty Shades of Grey triggered the first series. 
The next series, approached in my typical tongue-in-cheek style, covers Obituaries, Eulogies, and Funerals.  This series began in the November edition of the magazine. 

During research for these columns, I interviewed amazing people in the fields of romance and grief.  Hmmm, romance and grief...I never thought of it that way before.

In, around, and between managing The Write Break facebook page, writing a weekly blog, a monthly column, and attending workshops, meetings, and readings, I write novels.  Make no mistake; that is my passion.  Everything else is a means to the end.

Aside from the published work, I’ve connected with wonderful writers whom I’ve met online, at launches, and various gatherings.  There has never been a group more supportive than writers.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I was interviewed by Brian Feinblum from New York for his bookmarketingbuzzblog?

This past year has been quite a journey.  My writing has led me in directions I never imagined.  Barely hesitating at the forks in the road, I trudge on in the hopes that one day my book(s) will catch the attention of an enthusiastic, hard working agent or publisher.

If that never happens, well – hey− it’s been a trip!