Thank-you, Red City Review!

Control Switch by Leana Delle

5redstarsS51LOOde11DL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ince high school, Candace Bradford has been offering advice to anyone who would listen: stop procrastinating, start exercising, remain calm in tense situations.  Now that she has a just-released book on the market and a radio show airing weekly out of Chicago, people are definitely listening.  It seems that thirty-something Candace has achieved her single greatest dream in less time than she could have imagined.  But despite her bright future, Candace’s success comes with a price – at the very moment when her career is poised to take off, she comes under the hold of a strange illness, the ramifications of which could tear her carefully constructed world apart.  Candace makes a quick decision that could save her life while simultaneously ruining her marriage to Ross Simpson, a hunky, hot shot lawyer with a severe competitive streak and a burgeoning workload of his own.  In an effort to protect Ross, Candace lies about her health, preventing him from having any influence in her decision-making process.  Ross becomes irate when she finally fills him in on the situation, walking out on their already-troubled marriage.  Even so, Candace can sense that there is more to Ross’s reaction than he is letting on.  The real question is, can Candace keep her crumbling career together long enough to figure out what he is hiding?

Control Switch is an unerringly enthralling read that rolls out a well-written narrative and addresses key social themes at the same time.  First, there is the issue of being a successful female in a male-dominated work environment.  Delle’s protagonist is adamant that she have control over her own life, but sometimes that right is unfairly hoarded from hardworking women.  Second, Delle writes about a convincingly troubled marriage that ails because a couple feels the need to fight over things like finances and the relative success of either person’s career.  With a unique premise and engaging conflict, Control Switch asks tough questions that deserve answers.

~ Red City Review

 

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He Stood On Guard For Thee

I write this blog from the perspective of a Canadian American. Yes, I’m considered to beFlag-U.S.-Canada both, having immigrated to the US in 1997 and obtaining US citizenship. Throw in a brief return to Ottawa in recent years, and I can tell you that I feel equally as much one as the other. I’m truly blessed to call each of these fine nations “home.” It’s today, however, that I feel closest to my birth country.

Those of you who know me know that I spend as little time watching the news as possible. I see it as nothing more than a fear generating machine manned by variations of Barbie and Ken, spouting off their latest “RUN FOR THE HILLS!” version of propaganda. ‘If something important arises,’ I tell myself, ‘I’ll hear about it.’ And hear about it, I did.

On Wednesday of this week, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down while standing guard – unarmed – at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Ottawa. The gunman, who does not deserve to be mentioned, then proceeded to enter Parliament where gunfire erupted. For those who have never visited Canada, know that this is far beyond shocking.

I’ve become accustomed to living in the US. I’ve learned to accept the fact that we are loathed by some, which makes us the constant target of radical extremists. That became a harsh reality on September 11, 2001, while I was living in Portland, OR. Prior to that, for me anyway, it felt like we lived in a kind of Never on our soil, blissful numbness. That’s now long gone.

CirilloI have found myself in tears several times over the last few days. No, I didn’t know Cpl. Cirillo personally, or his family, but the Canadian people are my family, and I ache for the harsh reality that they now face.

I knew it was only a matter of time, given the current state of the world, but – still – I literally wouldn’t wish the end of “Never on our soil,” on my worst enemy. It has been said that the demise of a belief system is the most difficult personal challenge of all. One would have to assume that this also applies to a culture.

Canada has always been an open, generous, loving, peaceful and accepting culture – all reasons to be proud of the country from whence I came. I cried this week, because they will literally – now – have to “stand on guard” and make efforts to partially close their ever open arms. I cried, because I lived the shift after 9/11, and – sure – one guy compared to thousands may not seem comparative, but the aftermath of disillusion has potential to be. Nothing will ever be the same.

Cpl. Cirillo did stand on guard for us, and he did it unarmed and open to embracing people from all over the globe. Isn’t that the reputation of Canada, itself? Could it be that the gunman who performed this horrific act was determined to hit us at our very core?

I dreaded the day that Canada would have to face the harsh reality of extreme hatred, but I pray that all are aware that their neighbo(u)rs to the south feel their pain, and, if something good is to come of this, which I’m already seeing evidence of, it’s an undeniable sense of unity, brotherhood and determination.

“We will not be intimidated,” chimed Prime Minister Stephen Harper. No – you won’t – and I’m proud to be part of the true north. Shall we forever remain strong and FREE!

**This blog is also available at http://www.leanadelle.com

Every Monarch Deserves A Long And Joyous Reign

I moved to San Antonio from Canada in 1997, and I can distinctly remember my initial awe at witnessing a sky full of monarch butterflies. I was confused by the site initially, having monarch sightings 2012seen monarchs all my life in southern Ontario, but I’d been naive regarding their life cycle and migration patterns. Not only did I not expect to see them in Texas, but the vast number of them astounded me. Hundreds, more like thousands, working their way across six and eight lanes of aggressive Texas traffic. It was a jaw dropping.

But all the way from Canada to Mexico?’ I asked myself. Yep – all that way. A trip that few would make by car.

I had occasion this week to take a road trip through central and eastern Texas, and I got a glorious reminder of my first autumn mexico-butterflies-monarchs-1_24999_600x450in San Antonio. There they were again. Pockets of monarchs struggling their way through 75 mph traffic. Not even close to the number I remember seeing seventeen years ago, which saddens me, but enough that every few minutes I’d cringe at the thought of hitting one. I hit two, and I mourned. The rest, which seemed to fly right about windshield level, got caught up in the air current and whipped over the top of the car into safety. I suppose this phenomenon occurs, because they weigh – ah – nothing whatsoever.

All I know is that few things inspire me as much as these little creatures on their annual mission. At a stop light yesterday, I watched one maneuver his/her way through the intersection. Flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Repeated motion, and for thousands of miles! Fragile and vulnerable little bodies accomplishing the seemingly impossible.

I admire, respect and truly love these blossoms of nature – and I’m grateful for them. Grateful Photo-from-Mexicotoday.org_for the reminder to appreciate beauty and to keep repeating our own version of flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Sure, some of us will hit obstacles on the way to our destinations, but most will arrive simply by staying the course.

How can we help these little treasures replenish their numbers and continue their inspiration? It’s simple, really. I urge you all, especially those in the north, to watch this video and provide our butterflies with a much needed place to rest – and reign:

**This blog is also available at http://www.leanadelle.com

Aspiring To Be More Like Bubba

Bubba. Does that name conjure up any images for you? Any words that come to mind? I have one: joy.

I met Joyful Bubba at a roadside venue in Bulverde, Texas in 1999 where I was lonestarperforming with my guitar, Lydia. Just over six feet tall, and pushing 300 lbs, Bubba filled his faded overalls like an overstuffed cushion. He wore a camouflage tractor cap and leather work boots that had worn at the toes exposing the protective steel beneath. Despite his attempt to speak to me, he was quite obviously a shy man. He stared at the toes of those boots while introducing himself. 

“Sure did like your singin’, ma’am.”

He barely looked at me, and when he did, his small blue eyes expressed less than his lips. Until I asked him this question: “What is it that you do?”

Bubba’s stature altered. His shoulders, which had been bent forward as though to shield himself from potential enemies, moved back, pushing his chest out and exaggerating his already massive frame. His hands, which had been stuffed into the pockets of his overalls, reached for his suspenders. The corners of his mouth curled up in an obvious smile, and those blue eyes twinkled like Santa himself.

“I work with wood,” he said, as though he’d been responsible for its creation.

Bubba“Wood?” I replied. “In what way?”

“I make things. Cabinets, tables, chairs. Why, pretty much anything you can make out of wood, I make it.”

And, even though it was obvious to me what the answer to my next question would be, I asked anyway. “Do you like what you do?”

“Like it? I love it! There’s nothing I hate worse than Fridays.”

I stood and stared at this man with a slacked jaw and a tilted head. I’d never met anyone in my life who hated Fridays. I was raised to believe that you worked to fund the things you loved to do – not that the two could actually go hand-in-hand. And if they did, that only the fortunate and famous in our culture were lucky enough to have both. Not average Joes like me or Bubba.

Up until that encounter, I’d envied only those fortunate and famous among us. That night I drove home envying a gentle messenger wrapped in denim and camouflage.

You see, Bubba had it all figured out. He’d mastered what great minds have been trying to teach us for an eternity. Joseph Campbell would have loved this guy! 

Admittedly, I still struggle with wishing my week away. Monday mornings continue to be my least favorite part of the week and Friday afternoons my favorite, but I’m working at it. I try and do something every day that moves me in the direction my ultimate goal, and even in that practice, I’ve found a bit of the joy that Bubba shared with me that day.

There are three key things that I learned from the man I’ve since aspired to be more like:

1) Look past the stereotype to the soul of a person (this one was more of a reminder)

2) You don’t have to associate success with grandiose accomplishments

3) Strive – above all else – to make your weekends less appealing

THANK-YOU, BUBBA!

**Leana’s blog is also available at http://www.leanadelle.com

iBooks Rocks!

Admittedly, I’m a Kindle girl when I’m not reading an honest-to-goodness, hold it in your hands, page flipping version of a story, but iBooks started carrying my novel recently, and I see that as cause to celebrate.

Wanna win a free eBook from moi? Click “Like” on my Facebook page over the next week (you can find me here) for a chance to win.

I’ll announce the recipient on Wednesday, September 17th.

Good luck, and happy reading!

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Traversing Time

I love traveling, and I travel frequently, which requires me to rent a variety of vehicles. This past week I found myself in a Chevy Traverse LT, and, although it had a bit of a mom’s mini van look to it, it drove like a dream, allowing my mind to wander as though in one. Hypnotized for miles by the rhythm of broken center lines against glistening asphalt, I seemed to snap out of my daze when the year of my birth popped up on the odometer reading. I smiled.

Remember how we all felt about the year of our birth when we were younger (or maybe it was just me)? Like it was the coolest thing ever? So proud to spout it off when asked, unless – or course – when trying to get alcohol underage. Not that I ever did that, but I’ve heard that this is a common practice among teens. Cough – cough – sputter.

IMG_1048That birth year, which I feel compelled to keep secret, passed on the odometer as my attention went back to the center line. Not until I hit 1974 did I smile again, remembering that decade and the many antics I got into with friends. A classic identity vs. role confusion phase filled with tough lessons and easy living.

Then a left turn onto a new highway flipped the reading into the 1980s where I realized that the drive had become synonymous with my IMG_1056journey through life. I began drawing comparisons between the speed it took to get to the day’s destination and the speed it took to get to 2014.

It’s all going too fast! I’m trying to maintain the speed limit, or drive under it if at all possible, but it’s becoming a blur. I want to get pulled over. I wouldn’t protest in court. Instead I’d ask for tips; driving school, if you will. Anything to teach me the fine art of not running out of time.

IMG_1074I eventually traveled right past 2014 and into the future, which always excites me with its potential new travel routes and horizons to explore.

The most surreal part of my road trip? Outdriving my life expectancy, which left me feeling, well, non-existent in a IMG_1089way. Just an indie traveller on the byways of actuality who will pull off the road someday and never be seen again. Odd.

I suppose the best approach is to take a lot of deep breaths and appreciate each intersection. Savor the moments and allow for random detours without a GPS. Take mental pictures and collect memories along the way, and never, if at all possible, run out of gas.

**This blog is also available at http://www.leanadelle.com

California Dreaming

I’m sitting in an outdoor café in Palm Springs, California having a flashback. Well, two
actually. One because I was a card carrying member of the Sonny & Cher fan club as a IMG_0974child, and Sonny Bono’s statue is smiling at me from across the street. Two because 
approximately six years ago I sat in an outdoor cafe in San Jose, California and dreamed of becoming a writer. I remember that evening so clearly that I feel as though I’m still sitting at that same table:

I had a glass of wine in one hand and a journal in the other. With the evening sun on my face, I scribbled until my hand ached about future dreams and story ideas. I didn’t begin my writing journey immediately after returning home from that trip, but I did eventually take those first tentative steps toward making it happen.


IMG_0982Now, as I sit here in the warm air surrounded by granite majesty, I stare at that not so flattering likeness of poor old Sonny and feel amazed at where this journey has taken me. One novel completed and a second well on its way. Who knew?

I find it far too easy to lose sight of accomplishments and dwell on what’s not getting done. I suppose we all do, to a certain degree, unless we’re graced with the opportunity to do what we love on a full-time basis. I also think that
its harder to push past the rhetoric and expectations the older we get. Faced with an ever IMG_0972decreasing amount of time, the thought of “giving it our all,” when there isn’t as much left to give, can be daunting. That being said, it beats sitting around in a state of self-loathing because life’s passing you by and your dreams have become nothing more than ammunition for your internal failure firing squad.

As you can see, I’m doing a bit of pondering again tonight – this time via keyboard versus journal – and I’m thrilled that I get to do it in another outdoor California café. Something about CA helps me put things in perspective, or at least consider perspective, which Sonny appears to approve of.

This blog is also available at http://www.leanadelle.com