These days, I feel as if I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.It’s as if I’ve lost any and all control over my future. Not only is the light at the end of the tunnel an oncoming train, it’s one that’s completely out of control. I’ve done my part. The engineer has been properly trained and has all of the necessary tools at his disposal, but someone tied his hands behind his back, and he’s powerless to do anything. And so, I, too, feel powerless.
To put it another way, I’m adrift on the sea in a leaky rowboat. Whether I survive or not depends on how well others around me follow instructions and bail. Do I enjoy being at the mercy of others? Absolutely not! Do I have a choice? Not really. Unfortunately, there are people in the boat who haven’t realized that we’re sinking in shark infested waters. While they party and carry on, the boat sinks deeper and deeper into the salty brine. All I can do is pray that my lifejacket works.
Ten years ago, when I retired from teaching, I had my future mapped out. I had a bucket list of hopes and dreams, as did most of my fellow retirees. My health was good, and I had enough money to do some of the things I wanted to do. I was also grandmother with kidlets to spoil. The world was my oyster. Until it wasn’t.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author. I can’t recall a time when I couldn’t read, when I didn’t have a book in my hands. Three years after retiring, I sold the first book I’d ever written to a small, traditional publisher. I was living the dream. Suddenly, I was busier than ever, working longer hours, meeting deadlines, but loving every single minute of it. Was I making a fortune? No, but I was having fun. Locked away with the characters I’d created, the children I’d given birth to in my mind, I lived complex and wonderful adventures that took me to exotic times and places.
Since then, I’ve written more than 33 novels. I have a website and a blog, and I’ve joined the ABB, the best thing that could ever have happened to me. Have there been problems? Definitely. Like many new authors, I’ve felt the pain of unscrupulous publishers who stole from me. I learned the devastating reality that when a big publisher swallows a little one, it doesn’t end well for the authors. Most importantly, I learned to value my skills and talent, stand on my own two feet, and do what was best for me.
What kind of books do I write? The kind with happily ever afters. Of those books, some are histories, others mysteries, some are gory thrillers and others sweet romances. A few have paranormal elements, while others are funny. Each book allows me to share a piece of myself with others.My biggest thrill? Hearing readers tell me how much they love my stories. Once the pandemic struck, stealing away so much of my life, those novels and my ability to keep writing sustained me through the darkest days.
A Time for Everything
The Byrds took a page out of Ecclesiastes in the Bible when they put out their song, Turn, Turn, Turn. As a teenager in the sixties, I couldn’t imagine how my life would change over the decades that followed. I certainly would never have foreseen the world we live in today. Many of the things we take for granted didn’t even exist. I still wonder how we managed without microwave ovens, color television, cell phones, and computers. If I had to give up one of those today, it would have to be TV since I couldn’t survive without the other three.
The world is a smaller place today than it was in my youth. travel is easier, cheaper, and more widespread. On the one hand, that opens up an enormous number of possibilities; on the other, it lands us in the middle of a pandemic. The sky isn’t falling, but at times it feels that way. So, how does a writer cope? You adapt.
One Way of Adapting to a Changing World
During the pandemic, I found two ways to deal with my writing. I could ignore the reality of life as it is now, by pre-dating my books, or I could include the horror of life in a bubble. I predated the story in my newest independent release, The White Dahlia, Book four of The Harvester Files.
The first book in the series, The White Carnation was released in 2015, with The White Lily and The White Iris joining it within the year. When I got my rights back after my publisher was bought out, I re-edited and revised the books in 2019, but I left the story in the time and place it was. When I wrote The White Dahlia, I dated it at the end of The White Iris, book three of the trilogy, and even with my moving the storyline ahead, I was still able to keep it pre-pandemic.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Michael and Rafe Colchester escaped death in Alaska and eluded the FBI in Reno when the Harvester Task Force took down the Prophet and his son Adam, putting an end to the threat of the Great Burning. Beth Reynolds, a member of the task force vowed to get them all, but with a trail as cold as the one they had, she had no choice but to go back to Boston. Unable to pick up the pieces of her life there, constantly on the lookout for those who’d served the Prophet, she joined NYPD, hoping the change would help her heal. Called a hero after stopping a crazed shooter in Central Park, she’s slowly getting it together again … until a vicious murder brings it all back. Recognizing the victim whose organs and blood are missing as a Missing Person, she calls for help.
Al Foster moved from St. Louis and joined the NYPD after his ex-wife went missing. He recognizes the body as one of his cold cases. With Beth’s insight, he begins to see things from her point of view and realizes his ex-wife could well have been one of this serial killer’s victims, making solving the case a joint FBI-NYPD operation. But where does the stalker find his prey with its specific blood type?
When forensic evidence points to the fact that this killer may be one of the Colchesters, the case becomes personal for both of them. As he works with her, Al must fight his growing attraction for the woman determined to bring down the Colchesters at all costs, but with Beth possessing all of the qualities they require in a woman, will she get them before they get her?
You can find The Harvester Files and all of my books on my website. https://mhsusannematthews.ca/
Making a Different Choice
Knowing that I couldn’t bury my head in the sand and pretend the pandemic wasn’t happening, I opted to include the necessary precautions we all must follow in my novel The Tipsy Pig, available in paperback or as part of the Cute But Crazy 3, Unique and Unpredictable box set from the ABB. The heroine must deal with masks, social distancing, and many of the other restrictions we all have to face due to the COVID 19 virus, which sadly threatens to stick around a while longer. But even in a pandemic, people have to laugh.
A former socialite, a recluse, and a tipsy pig—the perfect recipe for disaster or romance? Dreading publicity over her recent divorce, her ex-husband’s arrest, and her upcoming 40th birthday, Sahara Larson, the former CEO of Larson Enterprises, escapes from Toronto to hide away at a friend’s rustic cabin near Algonquin Park. The future looks bleak, but among her neighbors is Hiram Colson, a reclusive bestselling author who rescues discarded pets. Will he be able to rescue her, too? Can a potbellied pig with a penchant for homemade dandelion wine unite two lonely people?
Check it our for yourself. https://www.amazon.com/Cute-But-Crazy-Unique-Unpredictable-ebook/dp/B08PC9MLVV
And while you’re there, don’t miss the other terrific box set released this month. Brazen Protectors (Protect and Desire 4) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B094H7KBWH
So what’s next?
I’ve had my second dose of the vaccine, and I’m praying that enough others will follow suit. Until we are all vaccinated, life can’t go back to being the way it was. I have places to see, people to meet, and things to do. The window of time is shrinking. Here’s hoping things improve sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing, incorporating the details of life as best as i can. Wishing you all a healthy, happy, and pleasant month of June.
I’m a retired high school English teacher turned author. I’m Canadian. My husband and I have been married 48 years and have 3 children and 5 grandchildren, as well as 2 step-grandchildren. I enjoy traveling, especially somewhere warm in winter.