Friday, 20 January 2012

Guest Post by Marie Landry & Blue Sky Days excerpt

Marie Landry, Author

Guest Post from Marie Landry and excerpt of Blue Sky Days

First, I’d like to thank Michelle for having me here today. She’s been a huge support the last few months, and I greatly appreciate it.

I originally wrote Blue Sky Days when I was 20. I started with the title, which is unusual for me because normally the title is one of the things I have the most trouble with. I had all these ideas rolling around in my head—a girl who needed to break free and assert her independence, a boy who was free-spirited, had a heart of gold, and energy to spare. I knew it would be a love story, but also a story about a girl discovering her true self, and what she wanted in life.

When a good friend of mine was diagnosed with leukaemia, the idea for the book became more prominent in my mind. This wasn’t my first encounter with cancer, or even withleukemia—my dad was diagnosed when I was eight, suffered for two long years,and finally lost his battle. With those things on my mind, I started writing the book, but I started in the middle, with the scene where Nicholas tells Emmahe’s been diagnosed with leukaemia. It wasn’t an easy scene to write, but the emotions behind it were real. Once that scene was written, I started at the beginning and was able to write the book all the way through. Although I had a product that was technically finished, it wasn’t really done. I knew it needed a lot of work, but I didn’t know what to do with it, so I set it aside.

Jump ahead seven years to 2011. I had been working as a freelance writer for a while, selling short stories and writing articles for online magazines and websites. I knew I still wanted to be a novelist, and had written a few other novels in those seven years, but Blue Sky Days was always in the back of my mind. With some encouragement from a friend, I started writing a new novel, but I felt like Blue Sky Days was calling to me, so I pulled it out and set to work.

It’s amazing what seven years of experience—in life, love, and writing—had done for me. The bare bones of Blue Sky Days remained the same, but I fleshed it out and made it better. I tripled the word count within two months, and finally had a finished product I was proud of and knew I wanted to share with the world.

I always assumedI’d be traditionally published, but when I started researching self-publishing,I knew it was the path for me. I liked the idea of being in complete control,and also of taking my future into my hands and running with it. I never would have thought of myself as a businesswoman or an entrepreneur, but in the last few months I’ve been called that several times, and I really like those titles.

My favourite title of all, though, is something I’ve waited my whole life to hear: author. That one feels pretty freaking fantastic! Knowing that I get to share my story—Emmaand Nicholas’s story—with the world brings me so much joy.

 I glanced at Daisy and saw she was trying unsuccessfully to hide a broad grin. Her hand covered her mouth, but her eyes always gave her away. “You know you’re welcome here as long as you want or need, right? I’d be happy to have you here forever,” she said, finally letting a little laugh escape.

“Don’t tempt me. It would definitely be easy to stay here forever.” I paused and thought about it for a moment. Forever. I liked the sound of that. Riverview was the first place in my entire life where I felt at home. There were people I loved who loved me in return.

I was comfortable there, and even after just a short time, I knew Riverview better than I had known my own hometown. My mother could swallow her pride and visit if she really wanted to see me—which in all honesty I didn’t think she did. I was sure it had more to do with control than a desire to actually see or be near her only child. I wanted to believe my dad would eventually come without her if he had to, but the sad thing was, I wasn’t completely confident in that notion either. Regardless, there was no reason I couldn’t eventually go home for visits. Just not to stay. Riverview was where I wanted to stay…forever.

I laughed out loud at my realisation. Daisy looked at me wonderingly and I laughed harder.

“Were you serious about me staying as long as I want?” I asked.

Daisy’s eyes lit up. “Of course. As long as you want.”

I nodded my head and gave a little shrug. “Okay then.”

“Okay then?”

“Okay then. I’mstaying. Riverview is my new home.”

Daisy jumped out of her chair, nearly knocking it over. She threw her arms around me and squeezed tightly, enveloping me in the scent of wild flowers and paint. When she pulled away, her face was shining with tears. “Look at me! Blubbering idiot.”  She laughed and wiped at her face. “I’m so happy. This is wonderful!” A fresh wave of tears ran down her face. “Ugh, I’llbe right back.” She bent to place a loud, smacking kiss on my forehead before disappearing inside.

I leaned back in my chair and laughed through my own tears. Inside, I could hear Daisy running water, probably washing her face, and then walking through the house humming softly to herself. I heard the phone ring, and a few seconds later I could hear her talking.

She reappeared in the doorway holding the portable phone, the mouthpiece of which was covered by her hand. All the joy had left her face and she was now expressionless as she held the phone out to me with the mouthpiece still covered. “Speak of the devil,” she said, raising one eyebrow contemptuously. “And I do mean the devil.”

I took the phone from her, confused. “Hello?” I watched Daisy roll her eyes as she turned to walk back into the house. When I heard my mother’s voice on the other end, I understood the reason for Daisy’s disdain.

“Emma? It’s Mom,”my mother said in a sickeningly sweet voice that made my nose crinkle. It also made me instantly suspicious.

“Hello, Mother,” I said slowly. “How are you?”

“Oh I’m fine,dear,” she said, maintaining her sugary tone. “Just missing my girl. How are you?”

Now I was really suspicious. My girl? When had she ever called me that? And I’m sure she missed me about as much as she’d miss a hangnail on her perfectly manicured hands.

“I’m good. What’sup?”

She laughed airily as if trying to keep a casual feel to this odd conversation. “Well, like Isaid, I miss you. I was wondering if you were thinking about coming home yet.”

I knew it. My mother always had an ulterior motive. I thought about the conversation Daisy and I just had, and the decision to make Riverview my new home. “Actually, Mother…”I said slowly, bracing myself for her inevitable slew of angry responses. “AuntDaisy and I were just talking, and I…I’ve decided to stay in Riverview.Permanently.” I squeezed my eyes shut.

There was a moment of silence when all that could be heard was my mother’s breathing coming heavier and faster with each passing second. “Did Daisy put you up to this?”she asked in a monotone.

“No!” I cried.“Mother, this was my idea. Daisy’s supporting me, not ‘putting me up toit’. I want to stay in Riverview. I love it here. I’m happy here.”

My mother cleared her throat. When she spoke again, all pretence of sugary sweetness was gone.“That’s fine, then. I hope you enjoy your life there. I’ll see you at Christmas I’m sure.”

“Christmas?!”I cried. “Mother, don’t be ridiculous, I’ll see you before Christmas. There’s no reason you and Daddy can’t come spend a few days here.”

“We’re very busy,”she said shortly.

“Doing what?” I retorted without thinking. I had never spoken back to my mother.

I heard her take a deep breath, then she slowly repeated, as if through gritted teeth, “We are very busy, Emma.”

I shook my head.What was I supposed to say now? I wasn’t the same girl who had left home desperate for my mother’s approval and attention. I was perfectly capable of making my own decisions, yet in her mind my mother had reduced me to a child, incapable of knowing what was best.

But I did know what was best for me. I inhaled deeply, about to do something I hoped I wouldn’t regret. With a honey-coated tone that rivalled hers, I said, “See you at Christmas then, Mother,” and I hung up.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you again for participating, Michelle - you rock! :-) <3


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