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I was 14, he was 15. The very first day we met, he kissed my hand, very Cinderella style. Little did he know he was kissing the hand of a hopeless dreamer. An incurable romantic. A girl who, even at 14, had learned how to exit the world of her reality and dwell in the world of books, movies, plays and music. My fantasy world was the real one in which I dwelt and the reality of school and homework and parents and such were just the nuisance that had to be endured between escapisms.
Our first date. How ironic it was to a movie. Escapism please!
We went to see The Little Mermaid. When it was first released to theatres (am I dating myself, much?). The song “kiss the girl” was the backdrop to our first kiss. He with his towering height and me with my fantasies and already I had us married off with kids and living in a far away land.
Cut to now, and we’re married with kids and moved provinces, so in a way, my 14 year old dream came true.
My number is inverted now. I’m 41. I still use books and movies and plays and music as a way to leave the trappings of the adult world, a world VASTLY more disappointing than I was led to believe as a child. Sure, I can eat what I want and go to bed when I want, but I also pay taxes and clean and raise children and have a job. But I have my dreams. Tucked away where I can call upon them when needed. I still read books and fall in love with the mythical worlds weaved for me. I even write books where I can bend the fantasy to my own will and whimsy. Songs still transport me and movies are where I give over my heart and soul to be drawn into another place and time.
So, it’s no surprise that when the live action Beauty and the Beast was announced that I immediately professed that I would not only see this in theatre, but that we would all go, husband, wife and the three children still remaining at home. No one minded. When your mother is a dreamer, she tends to influence her children.
The day approached and the closer we got, the more excited we became. The kids would frequently play the trailers on the internet and I, the eternal crier, would more often than not, feel my eyes growing hot with anticipation.

On Sunday we crammed our five adult forms into the car and drove to the theatre where Belle awaited. As we sat in a row at the back of the theatre, I leaned over to my husband and whispered “I love that 22 years of marriage later, you’re still taking me to Disney movies. Only now we bring our children.” He tried to pretend like that didn’t make him “catch the feels” too, but I know it did. He has been much more sentimental since his heart attacks.
The show started and transported is exactly what we were. My youngest, the 15 year old, 6’2 man-child sitting beside me, spent the entire show holding my hand, or laying his head on my shoulder, or hugging me. My girls sat at the end silently letting tears fall. The movie was perfection. It should be held up as an example of how to bring a beloved animation to live action. I won`t go into the details of the myriad of ways I loved it, because this post would simply be too long.
It was beautiful visually, artistically, musically and in it`s composition. The casting was perfect and I truly wanted to step through that screen and into Belle`s world.
We left the theatre that evening to go home to the world that we built. It`s warm, inviting and loving. It`s full of laughter, and yes, sometimes tears. Usually mine. It`s teenagers and adult children who still hug their parents. It`s kids who were brought up to love and to treat people with kindness and dignity and inclusion. With all the mistakes and pitfalls I’ve taken in my life, it`s my deepest source of pride to see the family that we built and what we`ve built it into. Even with my love for escaping through books and music and movies and plays, it’s still that Prince Charming of mine that I come back to.

And he still kisses my hand.

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I’m taking this weekend to work hard on Summer Poppies. It’s high time I gave it the attention it’s due. I’m not in a hotel, locked away as I used to do, I’m simply at home. Shawn has taken the teens out of the house for me and I am working along to the soundtrack of my childhood.

Seems only fitting since so much of this book takes place in Ireland. Writing this end to my series feels like completing a long tale that began the very first night I heard from my own father that his family got on a ship one day and crossed the ocean to come and live in Canada. A story that just a few years ago took me back to Ireland myself to see the home where he lived and the town he grew up in. My body was born and bred in Canada, but, my heart is Irish and always has been.

And now I’m going back to my beloved Siobhan, a character inspired by my own grandmother Lucy, to finish her story and to travel in my thoughts and my heart, back to Ireland again.

I hope to finish soon. Perhaps even before the summer is out.

I hope your own Saturdays are full of life and love and wonderful adventures, be them out in the world or in your own hearts and minds.

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Where did all the damn traffic come from??? Seriously? And I won’t even talk about the INSANELY aggressive drivers. No wonder we were always smoking and stressed out. Woah.
We landed yesterday morning at about 6:45am Ontario time, got Shawn dropped off in Brampton and then I went to Guelph to pick up our oldest daughter Keisha from her house and we zoomed 25 minutes north to Elora, my hometown. We walked around for about an hour, saw the house where I grew up and where she spent most of her childhood weekends and almost all of her childhood major holidays and decided that it had changed too much. The town, that is. The vibe was completely different. It no longer felt like home to me. So, we headed back to Guelph. As much as to beat the massive storm clouds as to go play around the other city I grew up in and where her Dad and I first met. We had a great time. We saw the high school I went to in Grade nine, both where it used to be and where they rebuilt it, the park where Shawn and I had our first kiss, his old high school, the hospital where my beloved Nana lived out the last years of her life, and a whole bunch of “places of interest”. Read: where all my teenaged shenanigans took place. The Guelph ones, anyway.
But the city has changed SO MUCH. At one point we were headed to a Walmart, which I distinctly remembered the location of, and she kept telling me to turn too soon. I tried to argue with her but, well, she lives here now, so I turned and there it was. Guelph had picked up the whole damn building and moved it. And painted it green! I told Guelph to go home, because it was (and is) clearly drunk.

We didn’t actually wind up taking a lot of pictures, though I thought we would, but, we were so in the moment yesterday. And dudes, she looks fucking amazing. She has worked really hard for the last year and has lost almost 80lbs and she just was so, so, HAPPY. I loved it.

We went out for dinner all three of us last night and finally Shawn and I got some sleep.
Today I get the morning to do just this: writing. First this post and then I’m working on my book again. (SQUEALS OF JOY) and then….
We’re off to Paris Ontario tonight to see our beloved friends and to go to the theatre. You remember my theatre days, right? Lord I miss that. The last show we ever did and by far my favourite was I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. Damn I loved that role. I played Jan. I got to go crazy, shoot a (fake) shotgun, cry onstage, kiss onstage, freak the fuck out on stage, go catatonic onstage and finally, murder my stage husband with an axe. It was awesome.
And Paris Performers are doing the show tonight. So we’re going to see it. YAAYY!!!!

Tomorrow we are going to meet our new niece for the first time, see my brother and sister in law, see my Grandparents and get ready for the early Sunday morning flight home.

I’m already sunburned (I had forgotten about Ontario heat, it’s going to be 40 today with the humidity), I’ve already laughed until my face hurt. I’ve already gotten emotional.

It’s been the best day so far. I’m looking forward to the next two immensely.

Happy Friday, all!!

Now I’m off to exercise my fingers and work out what’s going on in Summer Poppies. I’ve been working on this book for Four Years. It’s time I get serious with it again and wrap it up.

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Morning:
1. Get up
2. No seriously, get up. It’s hard to go through your day from in bed.
2 1/2 *wouldn’t it be great though? That floating bed from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Eat from bed, drink from bed, work out from bed, go to work from bed. Ahhhhhh
3. Okay, quit it. Get up.
4. Bathroom, brush teeth, yoga pants and tank top. My working mom’s uniform
5. Navigate hallway of teenagers yo-yo-ing in and out of the hallway bathroom
6. Downstairs for breakfast. Mine and dogs. Feed dogs. Feed face.
7. Fill water bottle and go back to bed.
Sleep?
No.
Damn.
8. If it’s a writing day, do some writing. If not, fart around on social media
9. Check emails
10. Don’t get distracted by YouTube. Don’t get distracted by YouTube. Don’t get distracted by YouTube.

Lunch:
1. Go back to kitchen.
2. Look at bowls and mess from breakfast/kids making lunches.
3. Think about cleaning
4. Don’t.
5. Make lunch. Talk to dogs. Be both my own side of the conversation and theirs. Use voices for dogs.
6. More water
7. Let dogs out again. Spend ten minutes trying to convince Katie to come back inside while she stares at me from fifteen feet away, totally not coming back in.
8. Work out
9. Sweat balls
10. Shower

Prep:
1. Time to get into fresh yoga pants and tank.
2. Clean kitchen
3. Plan dinner
4. Kids come home, listen to three teenagers simultaneously talk about their day
5. At least ONE of these kids will bitch about dinner choice. Ignore
6. Make awesome dinner. Seriously, that shit goes on Instagram.
7. Eat. Drink more water.
8. Time for television guilty pleasures depending on the night
9. Maybe some wii golf
10. Go to bed, can’t sleep, watch boyfriend Netflix until 1:30 or 2am
11. Sleep

Repeat.

My list of alternate sub-ins (to be used at my own discretion)

1. Sing show tunes or radio tunes at the top of my voice.
2. Be baffled that I was never offered a role on broadway
3. Watch YouTube videos of fav dance routines from movies
4. Try to learn them.
5. Paint my nails. Seriously, that shit goes on Instagram
6. Take my workout outside and go for a walk
7. Re-live previous “debates”, not arguments, in my head and have way wittier responses
8. Scenario act out conversations, or “debates” that never happened, in my head of course
9. Fantasize about what life would have been like if I had moved to Hollywood and been a movie star
10. Read
11. Blog
12. Nap

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I find it almost impossible to get any decent writing time in during summer. The kids are home all day with me and although they are all teens and older now and would completely understand my ditching them in favour of my laptop, they are actually really cool to be around and I like spending time with them. I like more, the fact that they still like my company and as they are all careening towards adulthood and their own lives with a speed that staggers me, I’d like to hang on to this willingness to “do stuff with mom” for as long as I can. I had a little reminder last night in the form of a message from an old friend just how fleeting that time can be. My own teen years seem like they were simultaneously seconds ago and an entire age away from me.

That being said…

Come September 8th my youngest baby joins his sisters in high school and my middle child embarks on her final year. I have two kids in their twenties now. One who no longer lives at home. Ash is off to university next year. The house is becoming exponentially empty.

So, as my wee littles who are no longer either wee or little set their paws upon the path of education and activities once again, so too will I return to my other sweet love. My keyboard.

I have let it all slide this summer, but, I have two books to finish come fall and I’d like to have at least one of them ready to release by Christmas. It’s a lofty goal, but I think I may just be able to pull it off.

I can’t wait to get back to it.

Bring on September. I have typing to do and worlds left hanging in the balance to right and release from my imagination.

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It’s my 1000th post on the blog today!!

What started out as a neat little blog with tidbits of my writing (and a lot of writing promotion) has turned into a blog that encompasses most of my life. I talk about almost everything on here from kids to dogs to husbands to family and health and everything and anything else that is on my mind on a given day when I post. Sometimes I plan them, and sometimes I write off the cuff. In five years of writing this blog, I have only ever pulled three posts off it. Two were for personal reasons and one was a reactionary post I put up about Jian Ghomeshi after his facebook post about his firing and before the assault charges came to life.

I’d like to take a little walk back with you all now, over my most popular postings and just how much this blog has meant to me.

This first one is from 2012 and concerned a recent, well publicized in the news, teen suicide due to bullying, and the subsequent conversation it spawned between myself and my daughter. It’s one of my top 20 viewed posts of all time and it strikes a chord with me today as much as it did three years ago. Women are still our own worst enemies and we’re still far harder on one another than we should be.

This next one is actually the first article I ever wrote for The Cambridge Times. It was published in 2004 and later on my blog under published work. It spawned years of my contributions to the paper, and eventually, for my one year working on freelancing for The Toronto Sun.

Over the years I’ve shared some pretty cool things. Our trip to Ireland
Why I don’t like cats
Book Reviews
The first time I was ever pulled over by police
And of course, all of Shawn’s recent health problems

With all that goodness to read on my site, what’s the one random post that *still* comes up on my weekly stats as the one that is searched out and read most often?? It’s the one I wrote about the underwear I bought Shawn with a hidden clip, or “pushup“. It’s silly and yet, it gets read and re-read all the time.

Of course there is the anniversary post where we recently remarried and the sad ones, like when twin brothers I went to high school with passed away, three months apart. But that is life, right? A mixture of the extraordinary, the devastating and the everyday. We all have our wonderful highs and our terrible lows. What it comes down to is how we get through them.
Me? I share it all online, in my little corner of the internet. I write books and I chat with my girls in my online groups. I do impressions of animals for my family and a lot of times, I cry, because I am a big crier. And I invite you to be part of it all.

Thank you for staying with me through 1000 memories, events, deaths, births, losses and loves. Let’s stay together a little while longer.

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As promised, here we go!

So, first of all, my great Uncle Eldon passed away yesterday and although it is definitely sad, he is truly one of the most incredible men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing let along being related to. He was 103 years old, a veteran, an activist, an advocate and an avid lover of limericks. He died peacefully and with his family.
I loved him very much and although we were all happy to hear that he went very peacefully, it was sad and we all took a few minutes last night to hug one another and tell each other that we loved each other.

I woke up this morning still sad and even concerned for my Grandpa who just lost his last living sibling and I kind of spent a bit of time wallowing, as I am wont to do probably more than is healthy, when I came downstairs and saw the pile of books I had left out and remembered, hey, I promised to get some books to some new readers. If I know anything about my family, extended and immediate, it is how much we all treasure reading. A lot of us are also writers including Uncle Eldon. So, here we go.

The Contest:

For the month of June I’m going to be giving away several copies of all four of my current books. Autumn Violets, Winter Jasmine, Spring Daisies and Keeping the Women.

I have 2 copies of Autumn Violets with the original artwork cover, as released by Crackjaw Publishing. I have 1 copy of Autumn Violets with the full picture cover and 4 copies with its current cover.

I have 1 copy of Winter Jasmine with its full picture cover and 4 copies of it with the current cover art.

I have 1 proof copy, large size, of Spring Daisies. It should be noted that this is a proof copy and therefore may contain some errors.

I have 1 copy of Keeping the Women.

What do you have to do to get them??

Easy.

Leave me a comment here. What book would you like and why?
Comment on your Facebook page which book you would like and why. Tag me in your comment so I can see it.
Comment on Twitter and tag me in that comment. @NualaAReilly and use the hashtag #BookGiveaway
Nominate a friend to receive a book using any of these means.

Already read one of my books and want another?? Leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads and tag me on either Facebook or Twitter with the link.

I will do draws at the end of every week and will announce all winners here.

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Good luck, everyone!

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