I’m usually adept at multi-tasking. So far it hasn’t damaged my brain, lowered my IQ, or affected my work performance as documented by Forbes. I don’t think. It did, however, cause a glitch in my breakfast plan this morning. It happened something like this.
Rachael Herron emailed me and invited me to be a guest on her podcast and video show. I am thrilled! I met Rachael at SiWC where we shared a table (Herron and Hawkin) for the Author Signing Event and discovered we were kindred spirits—not just alphabetical authors. Rachael sent me a link to her latest youtube interview with Eve O. Schaub. You can find the show here. I thought, Hey this is perfect. I can sit and watch this while I eat breakfast. I can even have that manicure I’ve been putting off for days. My nails were looking like claws and I can’t type out my words with claws.
So, I put on the interview and started watching as I prepared my oatmeal. Now, I make the BEST oatmeal ever. It’s thick-cut flakes with almond milk and nuts and fresh blueberries. While the oatmeal was simmering, I heated up the kettle and got a bowl out for soaking my nails. Remember Madge and Palmolive? Soft on hands. You’re soaking in it.
No, I didn’t use Palmolive. I squeezed a little low-chem shampoo into the bowl and continued watching the interview. When the oatmeal was perfect, I scooped it out into — OH WHAT? Was that the bowl with the shampoo in it? Sure enough it was and there was no saving that oatmeal! So I cleaned everything up and kept watching the show. But I was starving!
Rather than start at the beginning with the oatmeal again, I decided to just stir up some way too expensive vegan yogurt with homemade granola and fresh blueberries. I squeezed some shampoo in the clean bowl and then — NO! I DIDN’T!
Yes. I did. I spooned the way too expensive vegan yogurt right into the shampoo!
Is it time for a mindfulness meditation retreat?
On my third attempt, I was able to get the yogurt concoction in the right bowl and the shampoo concoction in the other bowl AND watch the end of the interview! Phew!
I want to be clear that this was no senior moment. This was all about trying to do too many things at once. If you are guilty of multi-tasking—I think women do this much more than men—here’s an article that lists 12 ways to stop doing it.
Meanwhile, I’m eating a big bowl of rice and dahl as I write this. And so far, no soapy aftertaste!
As I sit here watching the snow fall—yet again—in Vancouver, I’m hopeful. Spring is coming, and I’m gearing up for another Writer’s Conference. Every year, I go to the SiWC at the end of October, and then I wait and wait and wait. Writing is a solitary activity—just me and my dog and my laptop, and the odd online writing sprint I can manage in between. But this year, I’ve discovered a new local conference at half-time!
Creative Ink is only a few weeks away—the last weekend in March! Hurray! After a winter of rain and snow and cold, the promise of writer camaraderie injects me with inspiration.
I’m feeling green and ready to grow!
Several writers, I met at SiWC will be there and many are presenting. I’ve been hanging out with them online doing writerly things at The Creative Academy, and am excited to make a physical connection (AKA sharing stories over a glass of wine;). I also have some very excited meetings lined up.
Kelley is a prolific CANADIAN writer who writes in my genres, more or less—mystery, thriller, and urban fantasy. I’m thrilled to be in her master class and can’t wait to hear her speak. Check out the ad below—you can still sign up for her master class! I also have a Blue Pencil Session with her, meaning she will sit with me, read a couple of pages of my work, and give me some tips. I’ve reviewed her first three Rockton thrillers for the Ottawa Review of Books and I’m reading her latest, Watcher in the Woods, right now!
I also have a Red Pencil Session with thriller writer, Jonas Saul. It’s red, rather than blue, because I have to send three pages ahead of time. Jonas will take his red pencil to my writing and inject it with blood? passion? error marks? Oh my! Red pencils conjure all kinds of images.
I’m also sitting down for a chat with Sylvia Taylor. There’s just too much to write about Sylvia Taylor. Read her “about” page to get some inkling of what she does.
I think it’s incredibly generous of authors to give their time and expertise to other authors. It’s something that makes conferences like this GOLDEN! The presenters are all writers who volunteer their time to make it happen. Creative Ink is held at the Delta Hotel, Burnaby, and there is still space.
Here’s the full scoop on Creative Ink!
In the prologue of this historical novel, Anne Emery reveals that the title is derived from a Latin phrase inscribed on the Four Courts in Dublin, fiat justitia ruat caelum. Transcribed in English it means “let justice be done though the heavens fall.” It’s a fitting title for a book starring a Catholic priest and a lawyer, both who are consumed by righting wrongs in Northern Ireland.
This book is set in Belfast 1995. Though the IRA has called a ceasefire, it’s still an uneasy time. Centuries of violence and hatred have left a legacy of vengeance that is unforgettable, and for some, unforgivable. Everyone has been affected in some way; most have lost family members, through death and imprisonment. It is a difficult conversation and I applaud Anne Emery for her courage. This could not have been an easy book to research and to write, and is, at times, not easy to read.
Much of the story is based on historical events, and be forewarned: the tale is told by Republican characters from a Republican point-of-view. Though we sometimes hear that horrible crimes were committed by both sides, most events depicted were perpetrated by Orangemen—Protestants loyal to Britain who wanted to keep their border (their wall) and a divided Ireland. The brutal beatings in Loyalist prisons. The Catholic Republican martyrs who died in Kesh while enduring hunger strikes to make their point. These were Nationalists who wanted the British out of Ireland, the border gone, and a free self-determining Republic that included the entire island, all thirty-two counties.
This is a timely book release, given the looming threat imposed by Brexit. If the right deal is not struck between the EU and Britain by the March 29 deadline, the physical partition between north and south, that fell after the Good Friday Peace Agreement in 1998, could rise again with British troops and all the anguish that divides a people.
It is this highly charged emotional backdrop that fuels the question: can justice be done?
The two main characters in this story are both determined to right past wrongs and see justice done. This book is part of a series, the Collins-Burke Mysteries and is actually Book Ten. Having not read any of the others—which are set in Nova Scotia where Collins and Burke live—I read it as a stand-alone. The characters are developed well enough, and we see them working away from home, navigating a hostile environment.
While working in Belfast on a farm equipment case, Monty Collins gets caught up in trying to solve the 1992 murder of a Republican, which has left the man’s family destitute. Because his death has been deemed an accident—Eamon Flannigan was drunk and fell off a bridge so the story goes—his family can claim no financial compensation. Out of the goodness of his heart and his pocketbook, Monty becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened out there on the bridge that night. If he can pin Flannigan’s murder on someone, he can, at least, save this family from financial ruin. The same night near the same bridge, an IRA gunman was executed by an Ulster man.
Meanwhile, Father Brennan Burke is living with his cousin Ronan’s family in Andersontown, a Republican community southwest of Belfast. Ronan Burke is a leading man in the IRA—the man his supporters would hail as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) if ever they had the chance to create a new, peaceful Ireland. He’s tough and he’s loved. He’s also a prime target who travels with bodyguards, and the ghosts of his past, and his son’s, arise to haunt him. Ronan is investigating an unsolved bombing from 1974 that killed many civilians—one of whom was Father Burke’s best mate. The suspects are all dead but one—a man who’s just returned to Belfast, and the Burkes are intent on bringing him to justice.
Emery’s writing is impeccable, sophisticated and polished; the accents subtle enough to set the reader in Belfast without sounding staged or overdone. Though politically complex, Emery has a way of making this war accessible, even understandable. The gritty details are difficult to read. She sets us down in the thick of it, with all the graffiti, the ruins, the prison beatings, and massacres. At times, you can almost smell the smoke of the bombs, feel the despair, taste the blood. And in the end, when the heavens fall and come crashing down around Father Brennan, his realizations link all the puzzle pieces together. For at the heart of this book is a political murder mystery rife with red herrings.
As reviewed in the Ottawa Review of Books, February 2019
The Four Courts, Dublin, courtesy of libraryireland.com
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