My Week 167: My Book, Titus Learns Some Shocking News, Beelzebub’s Elevator

Two Worlds Collide

Last week I mentioned that I’d just had my first novel published in my other, non-blogging life. In THAT life, I write Young Adult fiction and it’s very different from what I write here. I normally keep those two worlds separate, but I’ve had several people message me wanting to know more about the book. I’ve never been very comfortable with self-promotion (I was actually at Chapters Indigo yesterday to talk to them about an upcoming book signing, and I was super-nervous just to do that), but I’m going to put it out here. And please, if you’re really not interested in this, skip down to the next bit, where Titus and I have a revealing conversation. Anyway, this is my book. It’s called Smile.

Here’s the synopsis from the back of the book:

“Cassandra Wilson’s life isn’t easy. She’s spent most of her teenage years taking care of her much younger brother, working to support her widowed mother, coping with high school and its pressures, and still grieving over the death of her beloved father. The smile on her face has become an easy way of disguising her true feelings and the fact that she really isn’t sure who she is anymore. Her life suddenly begins to change when she learns that her mother has been secretly dating a co-worker for months and plans to introduce him to the family. Feeling betrayed, and fearing that her mother’s new boyfriend will try to take the place of her father, Cassandra decides it’s time to start living a little herself. That impulsive decision marks the beginning of a series of suspenseful twists, turns, and revelations involving a strange cast of characters who may just help her find what she’s looking for—a real reason to smile.”

The target audience is teens 12 to 18, although my twenty-year-old roommate in Toronto read it and said she loved it (so did my Mom and Dad, haha). I finished writing it about 5 years ago, and I sent it to a couple of publishers, who rejected it. Then I sent it out again last year, and it got picked up right away by a publishing house called Bookland Press, who apparently believe in me, which is very nice of them. One of the key points in the plot is that my main character, who’s 16 years old,  starts getting harassed by a guy at her school after she rebuffs his advances, and considering what’s happening in the world right now, it’s become more timely that I ever would have thought. Of course, that’s only ONE of the things she has to deal with, but I don’t want to give away too much. It’s available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Chapters Indigo (in-store and on-line). If you buy it, cool. If you don’t buy it, also cool. If you like it and leave a review on any of the above websites, I will buy you a drink if you ever come to Toronto. But no pressure, obviously. I’d still buy you a drink if you came to Toronto. And now back to our regular (or irregular) programming…

Titus Learns the Shocking Truth

Titus: Hey. Congratulations on that Liebster award.
Me: Thanks.
Titus: I was just offered an award too. National Dog Magazine called and said I’d PROBABLY win Biggest Stud of the Year, but they wanted dick pics so I was like “I’ll consider it.”
Me: Did you actually just say “dick pics”?!
Titus: Well, technically you did…
Me: What?
Titus (under breath): Fourth wall baby, fourth wall.
Me: Anyway, you CAN’T be Stud of the Year.
Titus: Why the hell not? I’m super-sexy.
Me: For a very obvious reason. Or should I say, TWO very obvious reasons.
Titus: I’m not seeing your point.
Me: Because…how should I put this delicately? Because you don’t have any balls.
Titus: What do you mean, I don’t have any balls?! I have balls! I have balls all over this house!
Me: I’m not talking about the kind of balls you play with—don’t give me that look, smartass. I mean you’re lacking a vital part of the anatomy necessary for “studding”.
Titus: But the ladies love me!
Me: I’m sure they do. Listen, I know it’s a difficult thing to hear. All I can tell you is that they were removed long before you came to live with us.
Titus: You know, I’ve always felt like part of me was missing. Especially every time I lick my—
Me: Stop. I don’t need to know.
Titus: Well, I hope National Dog Magazine likes the pictures I sent them. Check this out! I might not have balls but I certainly make up for it in other areas!
Me: Classy.
Titus: That’s my middle name.

(*This came up in a different font–I don’t know why and I can’t change it–weird.)

“Lifting” Experiences

I hate elevators. I have hated them irrationally ever since I can remember, yet despite that, it’s been my fate to have lived or worked in many buildings where an elevator is mandatory. I would LOVE to be one of those people who can’t wait to get in their extra “steps” by climbing the stairs, but a) I have arthritis in my feet and b) even if I didn’t, I hate stairs because they make me wheezy. My condo in Toronto is on the 34th floor and my worst nightmare is having the fire alarm go off in the middle of the night, and instead of the concierge saying, “Please wait for further instructions”, he screams wildly, “Abandon ship! Fire in the hole!” and then we all have to go down 34 flights of stairs in our pajamas. OK, dying in a fire might be worse, but stairs also suck.

Elevators, on the other hand, are the devil spawn of convenience and ease, but for some reason, they scare me silly. You know how, when you’re really stressed out, you dream about certain things? Well, I always know when my stress level is getting high because I’ll start having nightmares about out-of-control elevators, like the cable has snapped and the elevator I’m in is plummeting to the ground, or it flies out of the top of the building launching me into space, or other terrifying dream scenarios. I don’t know where this deep-seated subconscious fear comes from, since I don’t remember ever having an early childhood experience with a rogue elevator, but even as a rational (well, semi-rational) middle-aged woman, I WILL get out of an elevator if it even makes a weird noise.

As a quick side note, the elevators in my building have cameras in them, which I discovered one day when I was talking to the concierge. I realized that there was a little bank of tv screens behind his desk and 3 of the screens had interior shots of the elevators:

Me: You can see what people are doing in the elevators?
Concierge (laughs): Yep.
Me: So if, for example, I was alone on the elevator, and I happened to be dancing, you could see that?
Concierge: Yep.
Me: Oh.
Concierge: Don’t worry–I don’t judge. But you might want to get a couple of new moves.

Anyway, I’m not like some people, who can’t stand elevators because they have a fear of enclosed spaces, or hate being in close quarters with other people—in fact, I’m always happier when I’m NOT alone on an elevator, because I figure if something bad happens, the other person will know what to do. Case in point: Last week, I got on the elevator at work. We have 6 of them, and there’s always one that’s out of order, or acts wobbly, or makes screechy sounds, but I can always take another one that seems relatively normal. On the day in question, I finished work late, and got on the first elevator to arrive. The doors closed. I went to push the ‘L’ button (‘L’ for lobby), but instead, I accidentally hit the button next to it, which said ‘B’, which I assume, based on what happened next, stands for ‘Beelzebub’. The ‘B’ started flashing, and I realized I’d pushed the wrong button, so I pushed ‘L’. The ‘L’ light came on, then just as quickly blinked off. The ‘B’ was still flashing. Nothing was happening. I stabbed the ‘L’ button again—same thing. It lit up then went off. I realized that we weren’t moving, and that the ‘B’ button was still flashing at which point, I got super-panicky. Suddenly, the elevator gave a shudder and started moving and, I kid you not, I actually yelled out loud in anguish, “I don’t want to go to the basement!! Not the basement!!” just as the doors opened on a young guy standing in the lobby of the 15th floor.

“This isn’t the basement,” he said.

“Thank god you’re here,” I replied. “I was stuck in the elevator. The ‘B’ light kept blinking.”

“Oh,” he said. “If you want to go to the basement, you need a key as well. You have to be authorized.”

“I didn’t WANT to go to the basement. I hit the wrong button. If you hadn’t been there, who knows how long I would have been stuck. Thank you for saving me.”

“Uh, no problem. See, now we’re in the lobby. It’s all good.”

And it was, although I’m sure the poor guy thought I was overreacting and being super-dramatic, which would not be a lie. But I can tell you this: I will never take Elevator Number 4 and its direct line to the lair of Beelzebub again. I’d rather take the stairs.