About Susanne Matthews

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.

Who Needs Pain-free Knees? I Do!

On the left is a picture of a healthy knee. Looks complicated, doesn’t it? All that soft, easily damaged tissue holding everything in place. Words like ligament and tendon–when I mentioned meniscus, my husband said, “Aren’t we growing some of those out back?” I shook my head. “No, those are hibiscus.” On the right, there’s another picture, one indicating where pain might be located if a person, like me, may have screwed up that previously healthy and pain-free knee.

Are you a walker? I am. In fact, it’s my sole form of exercise … or was until I did something foolish and hurt my left knee. Have you ever carried as many bags as you can to save yourself one more trip out to the car? Well, that’s what I did a week ago when I had bags of groceries to carry up the stairs of our split-level house. I was on the second step, when my knee twisted. Luckily, I was able to throw myself against the railing, earning myself a couple of scrapes and bruises, and only went backwards down one step. Unfortunately, I landed on the bag containing the eggs, but that’s a messy story for another time.

The knee popped and hurt like the dickens, but it seemed okay. Little did I know that this was the prelude to great pain.

I finished doing what I had to do, making more trips since I wasn’t going to do that again–this will end up in a book, I’m sure. As the day wore on, the knee got sorer and sorer. There was a slight swelling at the back and side, but seriously, I didn’t fall, so why was it hurting so much? By the time I was ready for bed, I couldn’t put any weight on it at all. Knowing the wait at the E R is up to sixteen hours long thanks to severe staff shortages, going there wasn’t an option, but telemedicine, the way things are done now, was.

The answer is in the diagram. Arthritis, my enemy. I suffer from a form of arthritis that moves around my body, usually settling in my right wrist, but occasionally, it finds a weak joint elsewhere to visit. By twisting my knee, I aggravated the arthritis in that joint–not for the first time, I might add, but more severely than usual. I haven’t torn anything, but I’ve stretched the meniscus and the collateral tendon.

So, what do I do? The answer seems simple enough. RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. For four to six weeks! There go long walks on warm summer evenings, climbing in and out of my sister’s above ground pool, and anything else that requires me to be on my feet. My new summer wardrobe includes a nifty knee brace for pain and support for those frequent time I can’t stay off it, and a cane–a lovely, stylish, pink floral creation.

So, with my limited mobility and that in mind and body, I’m focusing on my writing and started my book for the next Cute But Crazy box set. My book is called Pumpkin Spice and will feature the recipe for a Pumpkin Spice drink, perfect for the fall and Halloween season, along with a cast of eclectic characters including a ghost who may be a parrot, a few interesting cats, ghost hunters looking for treasure, not ghosts, and a swoon-worthy hero. He’s a doctor. Who doesn’t like a doctor? If you haven’t picked up the other four box sets, you should do so today. After the week I’ve had, and the ones coming up, I know I can use a good laugh.

See you in August!

Reliving my Youth Through Music

I was only eight years old when I used to walk from home to The Roxy for an afternoon matinee, usually, something from Disney or an old black and white comedy show featuring Ma and Pa Kettle, Laurel and Hardy, or the Three Stooges. By the time I’d reached my teens, the theater was renamed The Port, and featured Sunday afternoon horroramas with the likes of Vincent price, Bela Lugosi, and Peter Lorre.

Cornwall had three movie theaters, The Roxy, The Palace, and The Capital. Time wasn’t kind to them, and by the end of the twentieth century, The Palace and The Captial were closed and eventually demolished. Only The Roxy, renamed The Port, continued to compete with the new multi-screen theaters. While it was still open and showed movies that were no longer in their prime, anyone picking flaking paint from the ceiling out of the popcorn could see the writing on the wall. The place was a mess, and it would take huge amounts of money to fix it up. We expected the closed for demolition notice at any time, but such was not to be.

An enterprising young man bought an old movie theater that was falling apart. He had a vision for the place, a way to restore and rejuvenate the old gem. The young man started to peddle his ideas and drum up support as well as money in the form of heritage grants. While the building was getting a much needed indoor facelift, it continued to show second and third run movies at a discounted price. With movies as expensive as they are now, people didn’t mind seeing something six months later for only $3.50 a ticket.

The outside is much the way it used to be, kindling nostalgia in all its patrons. Located in central Cornwall on Montreal Rd., The Port Theatre is as iconic to Cornwall as it’s bridge once was. Originally titled The Roxy, the Port opened in December of 1941 to glowing success. After its opening, the Standard Freeholder called it “one of the finest theatres in the province,” costing approximately $75,000 at the time of its construction. Thanks to a young man’s remarkable vision, the Port still stands strong. Boasting an impressive marquee and distinct lettering, its iconic look has become an area fixture and is a huge part of Cornwall history. Recently purchased by Larry Sylvain (Sylvain Sound), the Port has been bringing in a plethora of live music. Unsurprisingly, it’s layout doubles perfectly as an auditorium that features some amazing acoustics.

And this was where The Port got its new life as a concert venue for live bands–not just any bands, but tribute bands, making The Port the premier live experience in town. Larry and his team have been working tirelessly to bring live events and world class music back to the forefront of Cornwall, all while delivering a great cinema experience. Featuring a full-sized stage with top-notch PA equipment, in house sound engineers, a 450-capacity room featuring an upper balcony, and a new fully licensed drink bar. The Port Theatre operates under corporate status of Sonic Amusements Ltd.

Before the pandemic, I went to see a number of different tribute bands including ABBA, Neil Diamond, Elton John, The Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, and The Beatles. Every show was a trip back in time, as we sang along with the band, got up and danced in our seats, all the while enjoying an adult beverage.

But then COVID happened and the lockdowns. I didn’t think the venue would survive, but thanks to federal funding, they managed, and the venue reopened in April. Last month, I went to see Stayin Alive, a tribute to the Bee Gees, bringing me back to the seventies when life was simpler. I may have been a stay-at-home mom with three toddlers, but life was good.

This month, I saw Help, a tribute to The Beatles, brining me back to my high school and university years. There’s nothing like the music you love to lift your spirits.

In my book, Same Time Next Year, my heroine, Twyla, uses the music of 1967 to write her memoirs. Listening to music is the best way to bring back memories, emotions, and reactions to the events from the past that shaped our future.

A novel within a novel. For three short weeks, Twyla Lancaster was the fairy tale princess who’d found her prince, but just like that, reality ripped them apart. Now, fifty years later, she needs to know why the only man she ever loved broke his promises. As she writes her memoir and learns more about that summer, she realizes things were not what they seemed. Hormones raced, promises were made, but Twyla left Michael Morrison high and dry, and within weeks, married someone else. Grieving the loss of his parents and her betrayal, he turned his back on love, focusing on his military career. Now, goaded by his sister, he agrees to attend a wedding and reunion, knowing Twyla will be there. It’s time to find out why she lied to him all those years ago. The moment the star-crossed lovers see one another, love blooms between them, but when Michael discovers Twyla’s secret, he’s devastated. Is love enough to erase fifty years of pain and betrayal? https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07FPWDH1T

As I look forward to seeing The Eagles in August, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite 1967 songs.

To all my Canadian friends Happy Canada Day, and to my American friends, Happy Fourth of July! See you next month.

Don’t forget to check out the amazing book boxes available from the ABB

Life is Full of Surprises

Last weekend, my husband and I joined my sister and brother-in-law for a weekend away in Toronto. Our purpose was to attend a Blue Jays’ game, which we did, but we had lots of excitement along the way.

Since gas has gotten more expensive, we opted to take the train rather than drive. While you do have to have proof of vaccine and wear a mask, as seniors our fares were very reasonable, and the trip was comfortable and uneventful.

The fun started when we arrived in Toronto shortly after noon on Saturday. The day was gorgeous, with warm temperatures and sunny skies. We made our way out of the station and walked along Front Street to the Intercontinental Hotel where we stayed. The walk was no more than fifteen minutes, so dragging our suitcases, we joined the throng of people heading west.

This is the view from our room. You can’t ask for a better, closer hotel when going to a game. The walk to the stadium is less than ten minutes.

Inside the hotel lobby, as we were checking in, everyone’s cellphone started to sound an alert. Like many, I assumed it was an AMBER ALERT for a missing child. I didn’t check my phone. As expected, our room wasn’t ready, so we checked our bags with the concierge and decided to go to lunch.

At some point during the fifteen minutes we’d been waiting, dark clouds had replaced the sun. My sister asked me to check to see if there was rain in the forecast. I opened my phone and the first thing I saw was a weather warning unlike any I had ever seen before. I later learned that it was the first time the system had been used. The warning advised people to seek immediate shelter from storms heading into the area which would feature heavy winds, rain, and had the potential for golf ball sized hail. Heeding the warning, we crossed the street and went into an Italian restaurant for lunch. We’d only been inside a few minutes when the rain started, but for us in the city’s downtown core, that’s all it was.

We had lunch, an absolute feast with the best fresh mozzarella I’ve ever tasted, and then since the rain had stopped although the temperature had dropped, we went out exploring. It wasn’t until hours later that we learned that an EF2 tornado had set down an hour north of us. An EF2 tornado has wind speeds between 111 and 135 mph (178 and 217 km/h). Damage from an EF2 tornado is considerable. But the tornado was only part of the story. A derecho had swept across the province creating chaos and disaster, especially in and around the City of Ottawa as well as west, south, and east of it.

Part of a utility pole lies on a driveway, along with the roof of a hardware store that was lifted off by extreme winds during Saturday’s storm, in the community of Hammond in Clarence-Rockland, Ont. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Unlike the rotating winds in a hurricane or a tornado, a derecho’s winds are straight. That doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging; its winds can topple trees and lift up roofs. Another feature of a derecho is that unlike the slow building of a supercell thunderstorm, the business end of a derecho is at the front.  When you see a derecho approaching, it often looks like an ominous wall of wind and rain.  It hits fast with the worst damage happening in minutes. As I write this, many people are still without power, and it will take months, maybe even years before all the damage is repaired. Luckily, Kingston, where my son lives, and Cornwall where our families were, only got rain.

Oblivious to all of this, we left the restaurant and walked down Front Street to the Royal York Hotel and one of its bars, The Library. Since we were on an adventure, we opted to have something out of the ordinary to drink. Each one of us selected something different. My husband had a variation on a Manhattan, my sister a lemon drop, my brother-in-law a martini, but my choice was easy. I had a Twist of Fate. Why? Because I’d written a book with the same title, a historical romance.

It made sense to me. Twist of Fate is set in the seventeenth century on Saint John Island in the Caribbean.

Can a cursed treasure unite two lonely outcasts?

Overton Stafford, shunned by his family because of a birthmark on his face, made a life for himself as Second Mate on The Golden Fleece. In a battle with pirates, Overton loses his left arm, ending his career. Knowing he will be a wealthy man makes the pain easier to bear, especially when he discovers he can repay a moral debt and help an old friend. When he meets Anna, Overton realizes he wants more from her than a financial partnership.

Anneliese Van Stubel lost her sight at nine as a result of Smallpox. Now eighteen, a ward of the crown because of the Danish Age of Majority law, she lives in limbo, uncertain what will happen to her. When Overton approaches her with the proposition to help her rebuild the plantation, she’s excited with the idea of returning to her home. But her joy fades when her caregiver makes it plain that he has a different future in mind for her, one that will profit him.

Set in a time when brutality against women and slaves was the norm, Overton seeks to change things as he falls in love with the girl who has lost so much.

I couldn’t wait for my drink to arrive. When it did, I wasn’t disappointed.

No one else got a bouquet of baby’s breath with their drink. It was absolutely delicious.

The rest of the weekend was as exciting and full of surprises as the first day was. Some of those surprises included a delicious dinner at another Italian restaurant, a not as much fun fire alarm in the middle of the night because some idiot was smoking in his room, and a dinner down on the waterfront at a brewery and roadhouse. While the fire alarm was disturbing, I didn’t do much other than wake up and listen for instructions. We were on the 24th floor. What else could we do?

Sadly, the Jays lost on Sunday afternoon, but all in all, it was a fantastic weekend full of surprises.

If you’re looking for summer reading for your own getaway, check out, Irresistible, I’ve got a Secret with my latest contemporary romance, Royal Flush.

Everyone has secrets…
But when you find that special someone, it’s those secrets that can make or break a relationship.
Six stories.
Six secrets—some bad, some good—featured in these BRAND NEW STEAMY STORIES From New York Times & USA Today Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors.
Can they hang on to their happy-ever-after once those secrets are revealed?

TWO HEARTS’ SUBVERSION by Tamara Ferguson, USA Today bestselling author: Marc Theroux and Desiree Broussard shared tragedy when they were kids. As friendship grows into something more, they’re forced to keep secrets when both are recruited by separate agencies responsible for investigating domestic terrorism. Will their love survive separation as Broussard Industries is targeted by one of the largest terrorist organizations in the middle east?

NO MORE HIDING by Natalie Ann, USA Today bestselling author:Brent and Vivian both have secrets that they are keeping from the other. When trust becomes a factor, can they find their way past their lies to love again?

MESSY PLANS by Mona Risk,New York Times and USA Today bestselling author:Dr. Matt Lopez is perfectly happy with his medical career until the new nurse practitioner, with her lovely smile and crazy ideas, turns his life upside down.

EVAN by Stacy Eaton, USA Today bestselling author: Can Laney and Evan find a way to build a relationship while keeping others from getting involved, or will the revealed secrets be enough to end any chance of a future before it begins?

DEAR DIARY HOTTIE by Mimi Barbour, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author: During their last months of high school, Eva and Jason hook up in a way that neither of them forgets. When they finally meet by chance, can he forget his animosity toward the girl who never acknowledged him after their passionate encounter, and can she put aside her unending grief that he never called.

ROYAL FLUSH by Susanne Matthews, International bestselling author: Pearl refuses to be part of another of her father’s mergers and runs away to be herself. When she meets Kyle, she falls for him, but what will happen when he learns who she really is?

Walking. It’s the Best Medicine

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. Now that I’ve turned the corner on seventy, I’ve become more concerned with my health. It was probably the pandemic that did it, but the last few years I’ve worried more about my overall health than ever.

Being confined to the house made me realize how much time I spend sitting each day. I sit at the computer to write and sit in my rocker-recliner to watch TV. Sit, sit, sit. I was recently made aware of how bad sitting for prolonged periods is for your overall health. Research has linked sitting for long periods of time to a number of health concerns, including obesity and a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels — that make up metabolic syndrome. Sitting can damage your heart, shorten your life, even increase your chances of getting dementia. You risk weight gain, osteoporosis, varicose veins, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which can lead to blood clots. As well, no matter how ergonomic your chair is, sitting too long wrecks your back. It also causes your anxiety to spike and increases your risk for some cancers and diabetes.

So, what are you supposed to do if your job requires you to sit for prolonged periods of time?

You balance your sitting with exercise, and one of the easiest exercises, one of the cheapest, and one that can be done by anyone anywhere is walking. Invest in a good pair of walking shoes. You won’t regret it.

Of course, you know that any physical activity, including walking, is good for your health. As kids, we were always outside, running, jumping, swimming, sledding, cycling, and walking. Most of us walked to school, unlike kids who get bussed. But walking comes with a host of benefits. According to Harvard Health Publishing, here’s a list of five benefits of walking that may surprise you.

1. It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.

2. It helps tame a sweet tooth. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.

3. It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.

4. It eases joint pain. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.

5. It boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.

Since I live in an area that makes it hard to get outside to walk every day. I’ve invested in a treadmill for the days when i just can’t get out to walk. Can I match the number of hours I sit with the number I walk? Not even close, but I’m trying. Every step is a step in the right direction. So, now, I’m going to get up and move around for a bit. Have a nice day, and don’t forget to take time to walk!