Here it is, my final and favourite character to introduce to you. Martin is my Casanova, my Mr. Romeo of a certain age. He knows a lot, yet he’s still got a lot left to learn.
I hope you enjoy Martin as much as I enjoyed writing him!
Martin fidgeted with his coffee cup before setting it down on the tabletop. “I need a little help.” He withdrew a folded piece of paper and his reading glasses from the breast pocket of his sports coat. After putting the glasses on, Martin unfolded the paper. There were several points he needed to discuss, and he didn’t want to miss anything important. “It’s the Internet.”
“The Internet?” asked Chad.
“I need to know how to do a few things.” Martin looked down, referencing his list. “Like open this Facebook thing. And ‘surfing’ sounds like something I should know how to do. Do you know what the Wikipedia is?”
“I do. But I thought there were introductory computer classes being offered at the Eldernest. Remember? We saw a poster about it on the bulletin board. Facebook, email…”
“Right, right. It’s just I can’t go.” Martin shifted in his seat and lowered his voice. “Clara’s the instructor.”
“Perfect. You like Clara, you’ve said so yourself.”
“I can’t show up knowing nothing. She’ll figure it out in a jiffy.” Martin rubbed his swollen knuckles and tried not to make eye contact with his nephew. Back in his day a man would never have admitted to not knowing how to use machines. Unless it was the clothes dryer. Or maybe the kitchen mixer. And that had been a point of pride! Truth was, all these computerized gadgets made him feel vulnerable. He could feel his shoulders rounding, his chest caving in. He wasn’t ready to be obsolete.
“Damnit Chad, it makes me feel weak.”
Chad blinked, his eyes round as saucers. “I just. Well. I don’t think of you that way. You just seem so…well, confident all the time.” He took a sip of his coffee before continuing. “Why don’t you be open with Clara? She seems like a nice enough lady. Tell her you’re feeling vulnerable and explain what you’d like to learn about the internet. Who knows, maybe it will be fun having a woman show you the ropes for a change.”
“Tell her?” A bark of laughter escaped Martin.
Please meet Lila; I only wish I could sit down and enjoy a tea with her in real life. I’m not alone. Our main character, Chad, has quite the crush on this single parent / college student / Eldernest Housekeeper and Cafeteria Assistant and readers will see him spending quite a bit of time trying to cross paths with her in Flying the Nest.
When I wrote Flying the Nest, I had no idea what people in Lila’s position would be dealing with amidst the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Their work was not easy before the pandemic; it’s even more difficult now.
Here is a sneak peak to a more innocent time. I hope you enjoy Lila as much as I do!
“You don’t blink a lot,” said Lila.
“Er,” I’d never been told that before and my mind scrambled for an answer. “I do that. You know. Forget to blink. When I hear something interesting.”
I was officially shit at small talk. I nodded, making sure to blink. “Right. Nice to meet you.”
I had at least tried talking to her. I reached into my pocket and pulled my own phone out. Now seemed a great time to check my emails. My Facebook. My non-existent follower list on Twitter.
“The body’s like that,” she continued, “works in very creepy, random ways.”
Was that a lifeline? I was not about to turn down dumb luck. “Totally.” My voice rose as though I were asking a question rather than making a statement.
Lila shrugged. “That’s what I love about embalming.”
I put my phone back in my pocket. “Pardon?”
“Embalming. It’s fascinating.” Lila leaned in. “I’m studying for my license. Well, my Funeral Director license too; it’s kind of a two-part deal these days.”
My eyelids didn’t want to, but I forced them to blink. Twice. “And you work in a senior’s lodge. Are these two interests…related?” Maybe she served people coffee one week and was preparing their cold, dead bodies the next?
“Heck, no. The ‘Nest is a paycheck. The other’s a passion. Do your eyes get dry a lot?”
When the ink was still wet on the publishing contract for Flying the Nest, I was already imagining the party I would host at the local pub to celebrate with friends. Live music perhaps, and a round of celebratory beverages for sure! It takes me 3 years to write a single novel, a single SHORT novel, as my daughter has frequently pointed out. (Not to worry, I’m collecting all her uplifting comments for a future project involving a pre-teen, so I consider it research, haha).
Anyway, parties are a bit out of the question right now, aren’t they?
Instead, I’ll be participating in a few virtual events and one local craft fair. These events are about celebrating, and the advantage is you don't need to live in Calgary to participate. You don't even need to buy the book; for those looking for a more cost effective option it'll be available in the spring in ebook and in libraries. And perhaps you just want to celebrate and don't even plan to read. That is fair too, although, for goodness sake, I hope you are all reading SOMETHING other than your phone! haha. That was my ‘mom’ voice. It will also appear in said 'future' project.
So, if you’d like to celebrate the launch of Flying the Nest with me, I’ve listed all the upcoming events below:
Saturday, November 28th | Official Launch Day | 1:00 pm MST
My publisher, Dixi Books UK, is hosting this fun, Facebook Live event with myself and two other fabulous authors, S.C. Farrow in Melbourne, Australia and Mark Tedesco in L.A., California.
This event will include a Q & A, a chance to enter prize draws. You can ask questions in the Facebook live comment section for a chance to win, and you don’t have to worry about being on camera; you can attend in your pj’s or messy bun, or on your headphones while grocery shopping!
You must have a Facebook account to participate and the link is here.
Tip: (If you mark yourself as Going or Interested) you’ll get a notification on your phone when the event is beginning.
Wednesday, December 2nd | 7:00 pm MST | Zoom Event
Do you love to keep things local?
The Owl’s Nest Bookstore, Calgary’s longest running independent bookshop, will be hosting this virtual celebration over Zoom. In order to attend you must register at the following link here and then Owl’s Nest will send you a link to your email address.
If you would like to purchase a signed copy of Flying the Nest, you can place your order using the same link above. Or, you can drop by to pick up a copy after November 28th, however there will be limited availability before Christmas (curbside pick-up available; masks required in store).
At this virtual event I will do a few short & fun readings and we will play a few literary games for some beautiful handsewn items by creator, Silvia Ross, and a copy of recently released ROUGH by local author Robin van Eck. Rough is a fictional story set during the 2013 Calgary flood and the main character is a man experiencing homelessness. I greatly admire the writing in this book and I will be including a signed copy as a door prize.
At this event you will have a chance to see each other's faces, (only if you want to turn your camera on) have a good laugh, and cheers! our celebratory beverages!
Saturday, December 5th | 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
This will be the only in-person book event I will participate in this season. If you’d like to do a bit of local Christmas shopping and stop by to say hi, I would love to see a friendly, masked face or two! Of course masks and hand sanitizing will be required.
The Triwood Community Association will be limiting the number of shoppers allowed into the event at any one time.
I’ll have copies of both Flying the Nest and Out of Play available for purchase, as well as some fun bookish gift tags for the gift giving season ahead.
As one agent told me: "this would sell much better if you changed the main character into a woman." But honestly, as a reader I'm tired of reading about insecure women, and confidence is a big part of what my main character struggles with.
And so I give you Chad, a slightly insecure, slightly unlucky member of the male species who has truckloads of potential. I'm super fond of Chad and his emotional journey in Flying the Nest, and I hope you will enjoy him too.
Here is a sneak peak, a little look-see into who Chad is at the beginning of Flying the Nest.
I tried not to stare, tried not to commit the dreaded male gaze by keeping my head tilted toward the window across from me. It was a battle keeping my eyes from wandering back to her. Every movement she made seemed graceful and elegant. I’d watched from afar for weeks yet had barely been able to maintain eye contact when she filled my coffee cup. And now here I was. Sitting nearly beside her on the number six bus.
A strange warmth filled me. Optimism? Hope? Who the hell knew, but what was certain: I was not about to waste this opportunity. Should I suggest going for a drink? As I tried to work up the courage, I found myself distracted by the way she bit her lower lip while thumb-typing into her phone. I could practically feel her tongue tracing a line along my clavicle. My ex, Kate, had once said my collarbone looked just like Jake Gyllenhaal’s and I reminded myself of that every time I got out of the shower and caught my reflection in the bathroom mirror. It was, perhaps, the kindest gift she’d given me.
Lila reached over to the chrome rail and pushed the button to indicate she wanted the bus driver to pull over at the next stop. “It was nice to meet you, Chuck.”
“Oh right. Chad. See ya’ around.”
I barely got out a goodbye before she ambled up to the front and got off. The bus pulled away and she didn’t look back. Not once. I know because I watched as she turned and walked down Seventeenth Avenue, the bus rumbling away.
Here’s a quick little cameo for you to enjoy while waiting for the November 28th release:
"What we need is something warm and affectionate for residents to hold.” Something that wouldn’t leave a person feeling so damn alone. Fish could not help with that. They swam about in their cold water, cold blood flowing through their cold veins. Rosie couldn’t name a less emotive animal. “It’s touch everyone at the Eldernest is starving for. You can’t pet a fish.”
“We’ve got the psychologist on Tuesdays if people are feeling lonely, Mrs. Dylan. I highly encourage anyone feeling lonely,” he paused and raised his eyebrows suggestively at Rosie, “to make an appointment with the psychologist.”
Rosie’s cheeks flamed. She picked up her PET-ition and rolled it into a tight bat. She imagined whacking Director Knightly about the ears with it. Or, better yet, she could get one of those sledgehammers from her nephew’s costume shop and smack it down on Knightly’s lollipop head.
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social worker, writer, family woman, Canadian, coffee-a-holic
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