Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Expansion and Contraction

Not talking about my jean size.
Or the cracks in my driveway.
I'm talking about the patterns of life that become more apparent the longer you live.
I find myself in constant periods of expansion and contraction.
Expansion is when my world gets bigger, more complicated, more exciting.
It is the months of success and trading business cards and meeting friends and feeling my sphere of influence in the world is.... well, expanding.
And then there is contraction.
The friend who moves away. The person who gets upset with you. The sickness or the deadlines or the snowstorms or the deaths that shrink your world, one person, or friendship, or contact or freedom at a time.
And I have discovered one fundamental truth in the last two years as I've swung wildly between great expansions and frightening contractions. The very center of my life, of me, is my husband and children.
That is about as small as my bubble gets.
When the world shrinks and closes in on me, they are the ones whose arms are so tight around me that they will not let the pressures or worries crush me. They are the net around me that doesn't buckle or bend.
I've had to learn that almost everything beyond them is a sort of mirage, the parts of life that are not definite or determined. Whatever I gain can be lost, whatever I achieve can be forgotten, whatever I strive for can end in failure, beyond that tiny, incredible circle of family. They are indestructible.
I should have named the Dancer Atlas because one of her smiles can lift an entire world of despair from my shoulders. Does she have any idea she is a Colossus?
So I've learned not to be as frightened by the days or months or even years when the world starts shrinking, the walls start closing in, because no matter how small and confined I feel in those moments, I know it will not crush me.
My husband stretches out his arms of steel and just like Samson, holds up our walls while everything crumbles down around us.
I can't stop the forces of nature. I can't stop the pattern of expansion and contraction.
I can't fit into my pre-children jeans.
But I get to live with super-heroes.

So all things considered, I think it's pretty good.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Put the Book Down and No One Gets Hurts

 Today I have the treat of having a guest blogger. One of my favorite writers, Jaima Fixsen, just released her first full-length novel, Fairchild, and when I could force myself to put it down and stop laughing (her characters are hilarious) I asked her if she would please introduce herself to my readers.
I am giving away her ebook to three lucky readers, and a print copy to one grand winner. Just say hello in the comments or like her amazon page to be entered.
But for now, just enjoy her true story of why books get torn in half in her home...
There is a kind of book stealing more terrible than any other--picking up a book that someone is halfway finished reading. We have a word for this in my family. We call it Tai-Pan-ing. 
Let me explain. Long ago, before I was born, my parents took a train holiday west through the Rocky Mountains all the way to Vancouver. My mother, being the type of person who prepares, brought along a book, James Clavell’s Tai-Pan. You can guess what happened. 
In a moment of idleness, my father picked up her book (so foolish of her to lay it down!) and he was hooked. My mother spent the rest of the holiday viewing the scenery and holding one-sided conversations with my father, who mumbled random replies from behind her book. Tai-Pan might have remained an amusing story, instead of becoming an often used verb, if our clan didn’t have such thieving tendencies. 
I remember one summer at a family reunion (multiply the number of culprits by five), my father brought a book--one of the Star Wars sequels by Timothy Zahn. I started reading it when he was driving, knowing his guard was down. Once you start reading, you don’t want to stop, even to return the book to its’ rightful owner. You tuck that book behind your back and sneak it out of sight and hide away in the laundry room of the cottage, reading as fast as you can. 
My dad, determined to have his book back, solved the problem by tearing it in half. We could both read at the same time. It worked great, until my mother and my cousin started reading. The book ended up in four pieces, and even that wasn’t enough when my uncle joined in. I will never forget the prods--hurry up! I need section three!--or the accusations that flew, when two pages went missing. 
Unless you are reading a manual on Freudian dream analysis, and sometimes even then, it isn’t safe to bring a new book if you are spending time with us. And no one can pick up a resting book, even to read the back cover, without someone calling anxiously, “No Tai-Pan-ing! That’s mine!” 
We went skiing together over Christmas, and my sister brought a book I had read years before, Georgette Heyer’s Venetia. It had been long enough that I couldn’t remember all the details, only that I particularly liked them. When I saw the book alone on the side table, I picked it up. With only the best intentions, I promise. 
Venetia remained intact, but my sister had to strenuously assert her rights. I was slotted in the number two spot on the reading schedule. 
Have you ever been a victim of Tai-Pan-ing? Or been the thief?

 Truth or dare? 
Good English families all have a house in the country with a deer park, a trout stream, and an army of gardeners. They should have a son and if it can be managed, he should be handsome. Cleverness isn’t important. Daughters in limited quantities are fine so long as they are pretty. Bastards are inconvenient and best ignored. It's not a big problem, unless you are one.
Unfortunately, Sophy is.
Sick of her outcast role, she escapes her father’s house, only to fall from her horse during a spring storm. Injured, soaked, and shivering, she stumbles to a stranger’s door—Tom, a blunt edged merchant from a family of vulgar upstarts. Mistaking Sophy for the genuine article, he takes her in.
Sophy can’t resist twisting the truth. Soon she’s caught in her own snare—and it might just be a noose.

Monday, February 4, 2013

When cheaper and faster is better...

I found out some big news four days ago and I haven't told anyone because I wasn't sure how to say it.

Even now I am mostly just staring at a blinking cursor.

First, I had to believe it myself. And after it sank it, I had to think of some way to say it so my friends and readers would know exactly how I feel.
And lucky.
And maybe, deep down, undeserving.

Maybe that is the problem. I don't really know why all these little miracles are happening to me. I don't want to sound exultant over something is the result of all the right people at all the right moments combining to equal a huge blessing. Because I know that's what it is.

So I will just say it and hope that you know how humbled and grateful I feel.
Due to unanticipated enthusiasm, Penguin has taken the rare step of changing the release date for On Little Wings from August 15th to May 30th.

Also, the price has dropped once again. It is a big enough run (they are printing enough copies) that readers will be able to get a gorgeous hardcover copy for eleven dollars and change.

That means so much to me because I am a penny pincher and I want my book to be as small a financial burden to my readers as possible. I know that dollars and cents matter.

My thanks to the team at Viking who tackled this news with gusto since it meant almost impossible deadlines and long hours of work. They could have said it can't be done, but they jumped on board and sacrificed time and energy to make it happen.

If you pre-ordered a copy please accept my sincere thanks. My friends and readers have done it again.
And again.
And again.

Thank you.

To find out more about On Little Wings, or to order a copy please visit www.reginasirois.com

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Magic at the dinner table

No recipe here.
I'm not talking about the food.
I just happened to take a bite of my Polynesian barbecue chicken and rice yesterday and looked up and I realized: This isn't normal.

Most parents don't ask how school was and have their children say,
"Real school or Hogwarts?"

And I wanted to say thank-you to J.K. Rowling. Thank you for showing the world that books change everything; even how we dress for dinner in a corner of Kansas on a random day in February.

You made our lives a little more magical.
And a lot more fun.