Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Hello readers!

As autumn approaches, and the air becomes crisp and dark evenings fall, it is a clear sign to reach for a warm mug, cozy blanket and engaging book.

I am a poet and novelist, and the themes of my writing touch on all parts of the human spectrum: birth, death, love, family, loss, travel, place, nature, relationships, sex, religion, spiritualism and philosophy.

My fiction mostly examines the darker side of relationships, society and the human psyche, but there is always a trail of light leading back to hope and redemption.

If you are interested in these subjects, you may wish to explore my books at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00J1NO56W.

My prequel novel, A Crowded Heart, is scheduled for publication by Inkwater Press in November 2015. I am also working toward publishing another poetry collection of ghazal couplets in the near future.

Happy reading, everyone! xo

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

TurnstilesTurnstiles by Andrea McKenzie Raine
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Raine handles a long list of characters with dexterity, offering credible emotional histories." -- Kirkus Reviews

View all my reviews

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Read Weekly Chapter Excerpts of Turnstiles on Goodreads


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Upcoming Book Promotion for My Novel Turnstiles

My novel Turnstiles will be promoted on the website Snowflakes in a Blizzard on June 12th at https://snowflakesarise.wordpress.com/. Please check it out, bookmark it, and spread the word. Thank you, everyone! Cheers and happy reading, Andrea McKenzie Raine xo

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Considering Publishing A Short Print-Run of My Poetry Chapbooks

Recently, I've received some feedback from a few readers saying that they would be interested in purchasing my poetry chapbooks titled Waiting: Ghazals http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TN2GWCG and Impetus: Ghazals http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W1SYVDQ if they were available in print (paperback). I am considering publishing a short print-run of these chapbooks, but I am wondering how much reader interest there is in the availability of these books in print. My other option is to create homemade copies on a print-on-demand basis. Don't worry... I'll make them look pretty. Note: If you would be interested in buying a professionally-printed copy, please leave a comment here stating 'I want one'. Depending on the responses to this post, I will decide what direction to take and determine the price listing for creation and mailing of my poetry chapbooks. I will post an update about my decision and, if I don't receive enough responses to justify a short-print run, I will then offer to make print-on-demand copies for anyone who would like one (to order one, I will ask you to send me a PM). I would most likely sell my chapbooks through a PayPal link on my author website at http://andreamckenzieraine.com/. I may also publish printed copies through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) on Amazon. Thank you so much, everyone. Happy reading! Cheers, Andrea McKenzie Raine xo

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A Sentiment That Lurks in my Brain and Makes Me Smile and Cringe At The Same Time

As a government employee striving to fit poetry and fiction writing into my life, I found this anecdote in an article titled Reminisces of Walt Whitman published in The Atlantic Monthly, February 1902, by John Townsend Trowbridge, to be humorous, disheartening and validating: In the latter part of November, 1863, a fortunate circumstance placed me in friendly relations with Salmon P. Chase, then at the summit of his fame as Secretary of The Treasury in Lincoln's Cabinet, and I became a guest in his house. I had at that time few acquaintances in Washington. One of the most prized of these was William Douglas O'Connor. He had turned aside from literature, in which we who knew him in the flower of his youthful promise had believed him destined to excel, and entered a department of the government--one of those vast mausoleums in which so many talents, small and great, have been buried, and brave ambitions have turned quietly to dust. His first employment was in the Treasury; in the Treasury, also, when I first knew him, was that other valiant friend of Whitman's, John Burroughs, who, fortunately for himself and his readers, escaped O'Connor's fate.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Weekly Installments of my novel Turnstiles -- Chapter One

1. Martin Martin opened his eyes. He squinted between his zippered lashes, stuck together with sleep. A small army of shoes marched past his face, half-hidden inside a dingy blue sleeping bag. His first instinct was to place a limp, protective hand on his red knapsack. He was inside a short tunnel that lay beneath a busy London street beside Hyde Park. He didn’t look up. He knew what their faces would convey; their cowardly faces. He was experiencing the real Europe, instead of peering out at it through heated hotel windows or hostel bunk beds and tour buses. He didn’t have to pay anyone for his space of concrete bedding. He was free. He closed his eyes. Martin was free. He ignored his growling stomach, as he smelled the subtle waft of fries from the nearby Hard Rock Café. Tourists, he thought. They were all missing the local colour. Except Joe the hotdog vendor who was from the North; a Scot, an outsider. Hot dogs in London were a foreign idea, but it seemed to catch on like every other American phenomena. London was a metropolis with people from every race sounding their thick British accents. It didn’t really matter who you were or what you were, only where you happened to become that person. Still, people could tell if you were from somewhere else, and Martin stuck out like a wounded hitch-hiker’s thumb. He had a quiet bond with Joe the outsider and, on most occasions, got his hotdogs for free. Then he would usually lie under a tree in the park and watch tourists get charged two pounds by security for using the lawn chairs. The grass was free. Martin felt as though mindless sheep surrounded him. He had it all figured out. A year ago he had bought a cheap ticket to London and decided to depend on the day to see him through. Martin cherished every consequence. He held on to every face that examined him with curiosity and disgust. He always kept a plain expression. He had no reason to indulge anyone with emotion. In fact, he barely spoke. Except to people like Joe. When he opened his eyes again, a different army of shoes were marching past. The tunnel was never quiet, and he had long gotten used to the intrusion of echoing sounds and rustling pavement. It was a small sacrifice. He wriggled out of his bed and began to pack up. He would return later that night. Martin had become a familiar sight, and some of the locals knew this tunnel was his home. So did the other shoestring backpackers. Martin marched alongside the army out of the tunnel. The sun was out, and again he squinted. He ran a hand over his stubble head and rubbed his eyes. He turned left. The sun was already seated royally in the sky as Martin strolled down the wide, crowded sidewalk. He could see the faint shape of an umbrella a few blocks away, and as he came closer he recognized Joe. Martin’s stomach began to growl again. “Get your hotdogs here! Hello Sir, what a gorgeous day. Would you like a hotdog? Get your hotdogs here! Good day, love! Can I get you a hotdog? Would you like the works?” Joe called to the passing public all day long. He set up his stand on the same corner every day, and everyone who frequented that spot knew him. Some just by his ruddy, round face and others knew him well enough to have a word or two. Martin felt he could relate to Joe because it seemed they were both stuck in London making a living on the sidewalks, and most of the people bustling by chose to ignore them. “Hey, Joe,” Martin showed a couple of teeth and then retracted his smile. Even though he liked Joe, he was still careful not to let anyone get too close. “Catering to the North American public, eh? It’s amazing you are able to sell hotdogs here. I guess if you had your way, you’d be selling cans of haggis.” “Marty, my boy!” Joe’s face opened wide with good-natured eyes. “How was your night? Those bloody bed bugs didn’t bite ya, aye, lad?” He boomed in his rich, Scottish accent, completely disregarding Martin's offhand remarks. “Nah, Joe. No rats, neither. Just the bloody tourists waking me up in the morning,” Martin grimaced. “Bloody tourists?” Joe raised his eyebrows so high they looked comical. “You better button your tongue, Marty. If there were no tourists there’d be no hotdogs! Besides, what the devil do you think you are... a member of the general voting public? “You’re the worst kind of tourist, Marty. You don’t pay taxes and you don’t leave!” Joe chuckled and flung a hotdog with ketchup and mustard into Martin’s waiting hand. “See ya tomorrow, Joe,” said Martin without looking at his friend, and began to walk away. “See ya, Marty,” Joe said quietly to himself because Martin was already out of earshot. And they both knew they meant it. Tomorrow. Chances were they would find themselves in the same skin, and doing the same thing. The two of them were like hamsters trapped in transparent, plastic balls looking out at the world, unable to break free of their bubbles, and constantly bumping into walls. Willis The radio alarm clock began to hum in Willis Hancocks' hotel room, which he rented in downtown London. He groaned, rolled over, and slapped an unseeing hand on the off button. He rolled back and stared groggily at the dented pillow beside him. She was already gone, and he tried to recollect the night before. He rolled his eye towards the dresser. There was his wallet, open and most likely empty. His pants lay crumpled beside it. He rubbed his hands over his face and gave a self-deprecating chuckle. Then he began to rise. He was anything but happy. She had definitely served her purpose, but the others had been more professional, and much more discreet. When this happened, he usually didn’t realize he had been robbed until hours later when he found himself at a store counter fumbling for his credit cards. “You cheeky little bitch,” Willis mumbled to himself as he flipped through his wallet. She hadn’t been discreet, but she had been thorough. Even his lucky franc coin from his trip to Paris was gone. It must have caught her eye. Ignorant street kid. “She’ll never use it,” he mumbled. “Never in a million years.” And suddenly he felt vulnerable without it. He was used to having small charms in his pockets. They were little reminders that there was some luck in the universe, good or bad. This afternoon he was going to the courthouse to hear his father’s will. His father. He sure as hell had never been a Dad. He hadn’t earned the title. Dads taught you how to play cricket on summer days. Fathers called from foreign cities to say, again, that they wouldn’t make it to the biggest day of your life. Willis was tempted to throw the wallet in the wastebasket, but he gently placed it back on the dresser with an air of defeat. An hour later he was showered, sharply dressed, and hurriedly locking the hotel room behind him. He strolled with purpose through the chic lobby and out onto the pavement. He was not rushing to his appointment with excitement or even mild anticipation. He was rushing to get it all over with. He desired the whole matter to be dead and buried. There was a shameful question repeating itself over and over again in his head, and he tried desperately to ignore it… ‘What did the bastard leave me? His only son. What did the bastard leave me? Bastard… bastard… bast…’ he began walking faster. As he rounded the corner, the large impersonal, grey building loomed before him with its long stone steps. He vaguely imagined guillotines. Willis couldn’t remember the streets he had walked, as though something else had brought him to this place without his knowing or consent. In many ways, it had. He did not want this part of his life to exist. Where was Occam’s razor for moments like these? How wonderful it would be to splice out all the undesirable bits. Willis threw these encroaching thoughts from his mind and scurried up the stone steps. The engraved wooden doors looked large and imposing, but were surprisingly light and swung open with ease. Willis couldn’t help thinking that perhaps these doors were much like his father. If only he had taken the time to turn the doorknob. Once again he banished his useless mind chatter. None of it could be helped now. His father’s barrister, and friend, was waiting for him, perched on one of the many benches placed along the sides of the grandeur hallway. The white marble floor was immaculate. Almost so that if he desired he could see his reflection near his feet, but few dared to look at themselves in a courthouse. The man rose to meet Willis. Willis knew this man well – too well. Sometimes the disappointing calls from his father would be telegrammed through this man’s voice. “I’m sorry, son…” the voice would say, “your father has been held up in a meeting.” Even this man knew his father well enough to know he was only that. A father. A sperm donor. An absent male figure. The dictionary was far too generous with the word. Father. A male parent. God. One who originates, makes possible, or inspires something. The word Dad was merely listed as a colloquial term or a short-cut for Father. It was all so backwards. “Hello, Willis,” the man extended his hand, which was taken without hesitation. However, Willis shook hands limply. He was still overwhelmed by this place and these people and papers and things. They were all just things. Was he grieving? He didn’t know. It was all packed somewhere inside his big toe. Everything would take a very long time to reach his mouth, and then his brain. “Hi, Sam,” he answered in a voice that was barely audible. Sam motioned him into another room nearby. There were too many thresholds today. The room was small and dimly lit. The blinds were down and the large desk and tall bookshelves seemed to judge Willis from their standpoints. Willis loosened his tie, feeling the musty tone of the heavy dark brown books and neglected carpets. It was a furnished closet where many unsaid things happened. “Would you like some coffee?” Sam offered. Willis thought he could use something a bit stronger, but he politely raised his hand in decline. Sam poured himself a cup and settled in behind the large oak desk. He folded and unfolded his hands and then laid them flat before him. There was no real sense of sorrow in the room, but the situation was delicate and Sam wasn’t sure where to begin. He didn’t want to touch a raw nerve. “I have your father’s papers,” he began. He pulled an envelope out of a large, squeaky drawer in his desk and deftly handed it over. Willis didn’t make any move to accept it. “Shouldn’t mother be here?” Willis stalled. “Your mother conveyed point blank that she isn’t interested in what he had to say.” Willis nodded solemnly. She was still his widow, but he had been less than a husband to her. She had known the truth behind his unscheduled business trips years ago. However, she had kept quiet and continued to pack his lunch every morning and make pork chops every Tuesday night. It had been a different era then and she probably made herself believe there was nowhere else for her to go. Maybe it would have been easier if he had run off and left her for good. Besides, she had to stay. She had Willis to think about. And now Hancocks Sr. was dead. The freedom of it was suffocating. "Heart attack, was it?" Willis asked. He tried to sound casual. Sam didn't answer right away. Instead, he let go a long sigh through his nostrils. "Yes, I believe his heart simply gave out. Strange that it wasn't his lungs instead. He certainly liked his tobacco, didn't he?" Sam attempted to be warm, almost nostalgic. Willis squirmed in his seat. He felt his own heart tense. Sam noticed his anxiety, and decided to move things along. He was starting to feel uncomfortable, too. He jerked the envelope impatiently towards Willis. The younger man glanced at him sharply, warily, as though he’d been wakened from a deep sleep. He didn’t want anything from his father. Not like this. Feeling cornered, he accepted the envelope and toyed with the seal. “Do I have to open this now?” he asked, sounding like a child who didn’t want to do a chore. “Here?” “I must be a witness to make sure you understand all the implications of your father’s last wishes,” Sam answered in a distant voice. Willis began to peel open the seal. The package felt quite heavy for a man who had been so empty. He pulled out a stack of papers attached with a clip. There was too much print – large blocks of ink that Willis didn’t want to swim through. He passed the document back to Sam with a plea in his eyes for some comprehension. Sam replaced his reading glasses with an air of formality and began to read: "Here states the last will and testament of myself, Willis Hancocks Sr., to be read upon my time of death. To my faithful wife I leave my property estate…” Faithful! How the bastard could even constitute the word and never know the meaning. Willis felt his innards turn and was relieved about his mother’s absence in this obscene mockery. “…and to my only son I leave a portion of myself that I hope will fill the gaps I have left behind…” the remainder of the document contained instructions for the dividing of his assets, including a generous portion, which was granted to Sam for both his personal and professional services through the years. Willis barely heard the rest of it. “How much?” he interrupted. Sam stopped in mid-sentence and removed the ominous glasses. His dusty blue eyes were small and beady. He had a luke-warm glance that took on a cooler slant. Sam had been a dutiful friend, even when it had gone against his better judgement. He was trying to be discreet even now by sounding vague and assuming his authoritative business voice, but the younger man knew him too well. Sam’s voice began to trail off, losing its facade. “It’s quite a sum, Willis,” he replied in a serious tone. “How much?” “Your father wasn’t very good with his feelings. He didn’t really know how to express…” “How much?” Willis was becoming irritable. “Fifty million pounds, son.” His voice was like a dull thud in the room. Then he added, “Your father set up a trust fund for you when he found out he was dying from his clogged arteries. I’ve already taken the liberty of depositing the funds directly into your account.” Willis felt immobilized in his chair. The cushion on the chair had suddenly become quicksand. He was a millionaire, just like his father. Just like his father. Willis wanted no part of his father’s impersonal, hard cash world. His father was made of money, it seemed; still, he couldn't take it with him. "What about my mother, Sam? What did she get?" "Your father made sure she would be comfortable. Hopefully your mother was also given some closure," Sam seemed uncomfortable, and avoided eye contact. "What if I don't accept?" brilliant, Willis thought. "Then the money will be given to the city," Sam said with urgency. His loyalty still lay with his friend, and the last thing Hancocks Sr. ever wanted was to invest one cent in the government. He never trusted the politicians to do the right thing with their liberties. If Willis had known, he would have marched down to City Hall and delivered the boodle himself, but the unreturned affections he carried for his father lay like silt in his stomach. He also didn’t want his father’s money to go into a new McDonald's or a city parking lot. The two men stood up abruptly and shook hands. Willis just wanted to escape. When he emerged from the ominous courthouse doors, he took a long pause on the entrance steps. He drew everything in, and the world looked stranger. Even the clouds appeared to be moving faster across an otherwise pleasant sky. The voices around him slowed down. The tempo in the atmosphere was out of step. The mechanics in his brain had been reduced to a hamster in a wheel, overworked. What had just happened? *** Martin had been wandering the streets all morning. The sidewalks were wide and crowded. The streets had a smaller ratio of traffic and he was tempted to walk along the painted dotted lines in the middle of the road and dodge the cars. At least he would get paid if some careless driver bumped into him. The mob on the sidewalk lived by the rule of every man for himself. He unsuccessfully tried to avoid the shoving, and gave it back where he could without making eye contact. He had grown sour and didn’t want to admit his thoughts, even to himself. The truth was that he was young and ready to accept his creature comforts again. He began to miss pillows, basic warmth, and friendly conversation. The problem was he had delved so deep into his notions of the world being dictated by the evils of money, politics, and fads that he didn’t know how to slip back into the norm, undetected. His rebellious nature had won him a reputation in the spreading vicinity of his tunnel life. His thoughts pushed behind his eyes as he walked recklessly. What could he do now? He had no money. Suddenly the colourful printed paper and accumulative clinking coins he once detested seemed essential. He kicked the pavement in defeat. There was no use fighting the greedy gods. Could he work? Would anyone hire him? Here? His appearance was almost frightening. He prayed for rain on the days between using the public showers, which cost two pounds. Martin didn’t want to admit that he had failed in his attempts to rail against the grain, to not be a sheep. He always returned to his home in the underground walkway. After all, home was a place you could escape to after your legs grew weary and your head swelled with the pressure of people and words and laborious tasks, wasn't it? Perhaps Martin’s home didn’t provide the best comfort, but it did provide him with shelter and a place to submerge from the busy streets. The hum of cars and shoes clanking on the grates above him provided company in the night when only a few stray souls might join him or pass through, stealth-like, hiding also from the moonlight or police car beams. Martin wandered the streets of London by day and hid from them in the late, dark hours. As he headed back to Hyde Park, he would often see the homeless people cluster together in alleys. They were prohibited from seeking soft grass beds in the parks, even in the warmer season. So, in alleys they lit each other’s cigarettes and spat on the sidewalks. They swayed from the drink, and huddled together to keep warm and upright. They cajoled with each other and laughed with smoker’s lungs. Martin didn't know them, and he avoided them. Whatever choices those poor, fading souls had ever made in their lives, they had not chosen to live on the streets with every door closed against them. At least, he was sure the choice had not been a conscious one. How the warmly lit windows in every flat on every block must have appeared to them. Martin was painfully aware of his free will. Still, he wasn’t ready to surrender. He had chosen the broadness of the streets over being confined in those brightly lit boxes of windows looking down. Now his smug feelings had slowly turned to jealousy. He suddenly hated the working locals and carefree tourists, brushing by him cheerfully with their groceries and Harrods bags, for a different reason. They had something he didn’t have. They were free. Martin sat down and occupied a piece of concrete. *** As Willis rounded the corner he almost tripped over a grungy looking young man sitting on the pavement. The man looked as though he had walked across the continent. The blue of his startled eyes, as he glanced up, looked lost and old. The young man’s expectant hand emerged from his jacket sheepishly, and wavered open before him. Willis hesitated for half a second and then pulled out an executive-looking leather booklet from his inside pocket. He then pulled a pen out of his shirt pocket and began scribbling furiously inside the booklet. “Here chap, here’s a big fat cheque, and all you have to do is authorize it. I hand you the keys to my palace,” Willis said. He roughly stuffed the piece of paper into the other man's waiting hand, and hurried off, jamming both of his empty hands into deep pockets. http://www.amazon.com/Turnstiles-Andrea-McKenzie-Raine-ebook/dp/B00HFIXUES/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430540347&sr=1-1&keywords=turnstiles

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

My Author Page at Red Tuque Books

My author page is now available on the Red Tuque Books website at http://www.redtuquebooks.ca/publishers/books/distribution/1086. Please check it out, and spread the word! Cheers and happy reading, Andrea xo

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Review of Emily Dickinson Poems

Emily Dickinson PoemsEmily Dickinson Poems by Emily Dickinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me years to ingest these poems... mostly saved them for bathtime reading. Emily Dickinson's life is shrouded in mystery, and her poems are a small window into her period of time, quiet musings about social and political practices and institutions of the time. In her poems, she expresses a great prediction for change; the world going on and unfolding with new ideas. She also seems to rail against the expectations of her own time, and turns to the natural and spiritual world for eternal comfort, connection and stability.

I thought to include, and humbly analyze a well-known poem of Dickinson's, which almost resonates with me:


Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
and never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could absorb the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

In the poem, the poet is personifying hope by turning it into a grounded bird within us -- something that hasn't yet tested its wings. Still, the bird sings, ever faithful, unrelenting to its caged existence. It knows how to free itself, to look beyond the danger and hostility -- the unknown. Hope asks for nothing and needs no promise. It simply knows and believes, beyond any and all circumstances, in the truth, regardless.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

An Excerpt of My Unpublished Prequel Novel, A Crowded Heart

One evening, as Ellie was coming to grips with the notion of a person growing inside her body, she was strolling blindly up and down the downtown London streets. She thought of how she was in the middle of the world, and the world existed in the middle of her. The sky was losing its sun like a dying peacock, and the shadows seemed to stretch and rubberband away from her, attracted to the darkening horizon. Yet, the air was balmy and the rain clouds were staying at bay over the sea. She became aware of the heaviness in her shoes, nearly tripping over the cracks in the centuries-old pavement, and her head floating--somehow detached from her body and the fingertip-sized creature in her belly. She turned down a familiar road either on purpose or by design; she wasn't sure. Ellie drew closer to a large, bright window that emitted happy chatter and light, airy classical music lifting into the grey night. She stopped in her shoes, looking in. She watched the elegant people in their black evening attire sip their flutes of sparkling champagne, mingle in small groups--she was visible in the large window, casting light onto the dim sidewalk where she stood, but they didn't see her. They were in a different world and she couldn't cross over to join them. Her eyes left the elegant people and drifted, falling on the art that adorned the walls--canvases that had become portals of the world--some bursting with colour, others drawing on darker tones; living snapshots of memory, places, perceptions, emotions that couldn't be expressed in any other medium; music for the eye. She was watching the opening night of the art show unfold--Peter's art show. Then she saw him, shifting in his shoes in the far corner, briefly holding hands with one elegant woman and then another. She watched him anxiously switch his wine glass between his hands, back and forth to create an opening for any patron who approached him--any prospective buyer, admirer, art lover, romantic partner. He looked like a boy trying to find the right person to engage in a slow dance. She watched him as he watched everyone else take in his heart's work. He was about to turn his head to peer out into the evening--the other world that didn't revolve around him, yet. Ellie instinctively moved back, away from the window, acutely aware that she could be inside with him basking in that moment of sunshine. She pulled herself away and walked briskly down the street towards the train station, towards home, back into the monotony of the world she knew. She could feel a silver cord pull her back deep down into her body, an insistent unborn cry, the creature, she could not ignore dwelling inside as she fought to stifle her own desperate cry deep in her throat. She had to contain the universe existing under her skin.

Friday, 6 March 2015

A Review of Turnstiles by Book Viral

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Pitching Turnstiles to Literary Agents

I have submitted a query package for my self-published novel, Turnstiles, to a number of literary agencies, and the responses are beginning to trickle in. I’ve received two rejections so far, but I am told that rejections are not always a bad thing. So, I am staying positive and viewing this as a hopeful journey to success. Wish me luck! Thank you also to everyone who has read, reviewed and recommended my debut novel. http://www.amazon.com/Turnstiles-Andrea-McKenzie-Raine/dp/162901012X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1424378471&sr=1-1&keywords=Turnstiles

Monday, 16 February 2015

My New Chapbook Titled Waiting Is Currently #1 On the Amazon list of Hot New Releases

Good Monday morning, everyone! Okay, this is kind of crazy -- my new chapbook of ghazals titled Waiting is currently listed as #1 in the Hot New Releases Kindle edition category of books about Motherhood. Check it out at http://www.amazon.ca/gp/new-releases/digital-text/5790834011/ref=zg_bs_tab_t_bsnr. Cheers, Andrea xo

Sunday, 8 February 2015

New Writings on My Author Website


Literary Passages -- The Blackbird's Song by Pauline Holdstock

Bony shins and bare feet sticking out from shorn-off breeches, the men are padding over our deck. We lie in shadow still. The sunrise only just fleshing the air. Across the river the light falls on the mass of sails and spars. Behind them, the bare, stripped hills are made beautiful by the pink light. Every indentation, every cleft and fissure in the land coloured one of a thousand shades from the purple of the black rose to the pink of a cat's lip.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

My Author Website

Please check out my updated author website at http://andreamckenzieraine.com/ and spread the word. See you there! Cheers, Andrea xo

Monday, 2 February 2015

Guest Author at a Kindergarten Class Today

I am excited about going to my son's kindergarten class this afternoon as a guest author to help kick off their Book Week. I will talk briefly about the importance of imagination and playing with words to create stories and poems, and hopefully have time for a little creative exercise or two.

Monday, 26 January 2015

A Glowing 5-star Review for Turnstiles!

Such remarkable work!, January 25, 2015 By Dr. Glen Hepker "Dr. Glen Hepker" (Mason City, Iowa USA) - See all my reviews (REAL NAME) This review is from: Turnstiles (Paperback) ... It is truly an honor to write a review for this impeccable work by Andrea McKenzie Raine. I believe that this is in no way an exaggeration - Andrea truly is an artist/writer of the highest caliber, and Turnstiles is splendidly consistent with this level of artistry. Please know I do not say this lightly - with this book, she has offered us a work which is impeccably written, quintessentially resplendent, and with a powerful, deeply moving message...so much so that I (humbly and respectfully) believe it is important to say that she has truly made the world a better place through her splendid effort. Through the troubled characters in her book, Andrea weaves a so quite spellbinding study into the dynamics of life...and does so in a fashion congruent with succinct depth, prompting a deep and abiding insight into her characters. Once one begins reading, it really truly IS difficult to put down. – Dr. Glen Hepker (author of “A Glimpse of Heaven: The Philosophy of True Health) http://www.amazon.com/Turnstiles-Andrea-McKenzie-Raine-ebook/dp/B00HFIXUES/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope 2015 brings health, happiness, success and prosperity -- as well as new inspirations and wonderful books. I am pumped up for the new year -- feeling the creative juices flowing steadily and hoping that I am able to turn my writing passions into a career. I am focused on completing my prequel novel to Turnstiles. As well, I am still trying to find a home for my second book of poetry and a chapbook of ghazis, which are titled a Spectrums & Apertures and A Year of Mornings. I am collaborating with a childhood friend to publish another chapbook of ghazis titled Impetus on Kindle Direct Publishing. She is a talented illustrator located in Norway. It is a special project for both of us. I have a large box of filled journals in the basement, and a half-written journal in my night table. These days, it seems harder to find the time to scribble in an 'old school' journal about my daily life, past events, current writing projects and happenings and future endeavours. Somehow, sitting at the computer is easier and more immediate, although I can't share every intimate thought in a global arena -- so I will share the highlights: my professional plans, upcoming events, current writings, and a snapshot of family life (as my children and general family support, creative inspiration and challenges relate to my writing). Thank you for following my writing blog, sharing my posts, reading my books, and lending your support and virtual and/or real world friendships. I look forward to connecting more with you as the year unfolds. Cheers and happy reading and writing, Andrea McKenzie Raine xo http://andreamckenzieraine.com/ https://www.facebook.com/ARainewriter

Sorry I Had To

She slept in the middle of the living room, on the couch where they never made love, for a week’s worth of nights after he left. The couch wasn’t comfortable, but she had found comfort there instead of the hostile bed. Her bed was the place he chose to talk about another woman, his failed love, his bleeding heart, as though she was expected to be his bedside psychiatrist. How do you tell your lover it is normal to grieve, and keep grieving, for old loves? The ashes of old flames still dangerously warm. Wasn’t it common knowledge that first kisses and body memories made us human? For him, it was a revelation, a floodgate, a topic of interest. For her, it was boring. To make a point, she would fling herself out of the sheets, already soaked with another woman’s dried sweat and broken promises, and crank up Alanis Morrisette’s You Oughta Know in the living room. She would wrap herself in the angry noise. He would wait patiently in her bed, tea balanced in hand, for her return. The point was always lost. He puzzled at her dagger eyes and pent-up tears -- What is the matter? I’m only talking. I’m only telling you that I will always love someone else. Why can’t I talk? -- He was a shard of glass, a hard-edged stone, and sometimes she wanted to cut him deep. Sometimes she managed to. He was gone now. He took his books, most of his clothes, and homesickness for where he was going – home. He left his hiking boots, folk music, and a few second favourite shirts. Still, he didn’t take the other woman with him. She wouldn’t fit in his suitcase. Instead, her name moved from the bed and hung from the stucco ceiling like tiny, sharp suckles. She already knew her name well. Her green-tinged skin would glow at night, watching him dream in another language, and waiting for her name to tumble out in his sleep. One night, it did. She stuffed her pillow into her mouth, soaked the pillow case with saliva and salt, and finally crept from the bed. The computer glowed in the dark living room. The google page emerged and she typed in each letter with trepidation. A first name, country and occupation, and there she was with her half smirk – conniving and treacherous. Saying her name made her grind her teeth on the hard sounds, and bite the inside of her cheek. It was ludicrous, really; a farce. This other woman didn't want him - it was only the two of them who foolishly brought her into their bed. She didn't want to be there. She was halfway around the world, oblivious. He was holding onto a half-love, but still happy to be in another woman's bed. He was on vacation here, living in a parallel universe, where no one really knew him. And yet, this other woman who didn't ask to be talked about and didn't ask for her picture to be found on the information highway in the middle of the night was a threat to her. She was a two-dimensional obstacle, but she had a 3-dimensional room waiting for him when he flew home. Yes, he was using her, as well. He told her he wanted to cut costs on his accommodation while completing his Masters. He didn't want to throw his boodles of money out the window on rent. His ex-girlfriend, nay, fiancée, was a means, not an end. Nothing was happening, he said. There is nothing to worry about. I haven't done anything wrong, he argued, showing his exhaustion for the topic, while she stood in the corner of the room with her arms folded and forehead creased. She remembered how he had leaned away from her, lowering his tones while talking and giggling into the phone, on her couch, talking to his lost love across the ocean. She emptied the dishwasher, slamming the cups back into their cupboards. He didn't look over, perhaps embarrassed as though she were the one intruding. He thought she wouldn't know because he spoke in a foreign tongue. For all his intellect, he couldn't conceal that the signs of infatuation are universal. Her thoughts were screeching in her head. Was she being unreasonable? Didn't couples stay friends after breaking up? If only he'd kept his mouth shut about his unresolved feelings. The threat was in him. She went for a run around the block at midnight. She didn't care about the bums in the park. They couldn't catch her. There were enough cars circling, and lights on inside the apartment building windows. People were still awake. She huffed rhythmically in the dark, January air, her ankles pounding into the soles of her feet. She knew deep down she would never leave here. He didn't like Canada. He complained daily about the customer service in stores, the way he was treated in the emergency room, the banks and restaurants. He didn't like the cost of anything, the way the radio broadcaster announced the weather prediction. When the two of them began fighting about the weather forecast, she knew. This wasn't going to work. Emotion couldn't be conveyed in a messenger chat room, and she couldn't be woken up anymore at 3am on a work night because he was bored and miscalculated the time difference. Once she called him, as an experiment, knowing it was the wee hours and dark on his side of the world. He answered, sounding incoherent and annoyed. In a groggy voice, he protested to her, "-- but I was sleeping". She knew then, too. He would also tell her "this isn't a real relationship if we're not in the same place." He was cold, emphasizing his physical distance from her. She was no more than an idea to him, a happy thought he carried in his back pocket, as he strolled around his home and familiar surroundings. She started to play a movie reel in her mind, hitting rewind, and then watched how she gazed after the couples who strolled by holding hands downtown. How she would wait for her 9am Saturday date with him on the computer, keep his voicemail on her phone for weeks, and send rambling and distraught emails that he wouldn't respond to. In her mind, she left him. All it took was not thinking about him because he wasn't there. The idea was a jolt, a breaking of chains around her, and an unloading of bricks off her small and sagging shoulders. She stopped writing. She stopped calling. He phoned one night as she was watching a late movie before bed. He was in tears - he couldn't understand her. Why hadn't she been sending him emails? Why would she end it? What was the matter? Funny, she thought, how he lived in his head, too. Funny, how he would begin to cry only when she stopped. She felt as though after a long sleep she had stepped back into her own body. She felt her happiness tingle back into her arms and legs. He had been giving her mixed messages, just enough to hang on to some small spark. He could have his theories, his nationalism, and his invisible women. She told him, calmly, the truth - that he was right: this wasn't real love, this wasn't a relationship, and this wasn't going to work.

Dream Boy

Jodie was always skinning her knees: on trees, sidewalks and bike riding trails. She was fifteen, and never been kissed. She had never fallen head over heels in love, but frequently fell over her handlebars. She had bruises that no school girl crush could match. She didn't wear skirts or makeup or talk in high, flirty tones with the boys. She was quiet, but tumbled with the best of them. There was no question, Jodie was a tomboy, and she lived dangerously close to the edge. She jay-walked into traffic and often challenged the neighbourhood boys down the back mountain trails on her dirt bike. She seemed to bounce like rubber, with a few cuts and marks. She didn't have a death wish so much as she wished to hide her awkwardness. The more extreme she was, the less people would notice her quiet insecurities. She was like a stuntman, falling on purpose. She didn't wait around for accidents to happen; she set the stage for them. Her parents were thankful she wasn't driving, yet. They suggested she wear a helmet, stay off the back trails, use crosswalks, follow traffic rules, walk slower and gear down. Her mother kept the first aid kit handy, and habitually bought her daughter long-sleeved shirts and dark slacks. Jodie wasn't an unattractive girl, but the boys seemed to be afraid of her or failed to see her as being a girl at all. Jodie wasn't entirely unaware of the boys, either. Despite her inner daredevil, she was afraid to bat her eyelashes, walk like a ballerina, and abandon her dirt bike riding and tree climbing. She kept her girl thoughts locked up, and practiced future kisses on her pillow. The boys she knew were so young and uninteresting. They were all afraid, being at that awkward first stage of growing into themselves. Jodie raced down the road to school every day on her 10-speed, trying not to think about her bra digging into her ribs or her period that was coming. She gripped the handlebars, her backpack flying off her shoulders. On a fall day, she weaved her way down the back mountain trails with her friend, Jimmy. Her tires cut neatly through the leaves, still wet from an early morning rain shower. The bark glistened on the trees. The octopus-like roots of the trees slithered over the trails, half-hidden. Jodie was riding in front, and managed to swerve past the obstacles gracefully. She turned her head to check on Jimmy who was a beat behind her. She didn't see the large root that met her tire and hurled her bike sideways into the shallow bank. She had ridden down this path a hundred times, and never known that root. It seemed to jump out of the earth, waiting for her. In her sight, the earth and sky flipped like a coin. Her unguarded head hit a tree stump, and she lay limp on the forest floor while Jimmy scrambled off his bike, yelling her name. He was afraid to touch her, despite his overwhelming urge to shake her. "I'll get help," he said. He knew she couldn't hear him. He mounted his bike and raced back up the trail from where they had come. Jodie opened her eyes slowly. The blue sky stared down at her through the fern leaves that hovered over her face. She sat up on her forearms... slowly, slowly. Her head hurt, and she touched the back of her skull gingerly. There was no blood, just tenderness. She unfolded herself until she was standing, and turned to see a young man standing on the path in clear view, watching her with interest. He was dressed in white. He didn't move to help her, but slowly walked towards her. "Am I dead?" she asked, touching her head. "Do you think you would feel pain if you were dead?" the young man asked. "I don't know," she answered. "I guess not." He smiled at her as though she were young and silly. She grimaced. "You bumped your head," the young man said. "You'll be alright. Help is coming." He didn't have a speck of dirt on his white sweater and pants. He was extremely handsome with cutting blue eyes, dark hair parted to the side and perfect teeth. She guessed that he was in his late twenties. She was afraid to ask his name. "Are you sure I'm not dead?" she asked again. "Positive," he laughed. He walked closer and placed his hand on her face, and brushed her cheek lightly with his fingers. "Come on, little girl," another man's voice floated into her ear. "Let's get you out of here." She felt herself being hoisted off the ground, and wondered how she got back down there. Did she faint? She could still feel the man's fingers on her face, and then realized the fingers belonged to someone else. She couldn't form words, and emitted soft groans. Her limbs felt heavy and sore. "She's coming around," the voice said. She wanted to ask: Where is the man in white? She was being carried on a stretcher, and could hear the whirring sound of a helicopter close by. Then she fell back asleep with the blue sky and treetops whirling around her. Jodie spent one week in the hospital with a bandage on her head. Her parents stayed with her, and she had a stream of visitors from school. Her most frequent visitor was Jimmy. She wished they would all leave so that she could sleep. She felt guilty about wishing for solitude, but she wanted to find the man in her dream. The nurses gave her pain killers at night, so she would fall into a period of black, dreamless sleep. He only appeared during her half-lucid daydreams. He would stand in the corner of the room, cross-armed, looking at her and his watch, as though he was waiting for something to happen. "Are you my guardian angel?" she asked him. He didn't answer. Instead, he looked at her, tapped his watch and vanished. When she woke up, a nurse was wheeling in a meal tray. Another day, Jodie dozed while her mother sat by her bedside, trying to solve word puzzles. Jodie woke up abruptly, saying, "Don't go!" Her mother, alarmed, took her hand. "I'm right here, sweetheart. I'm not going anywhere," she said, in soothing tones. Jodie looked at her and sighed. Tears were forming in her eyes. "Not you," she said, crudely. Her mother looked stricken, as Jodie lay back on the pillow and stared at the ceiling. "What do you mean?" she asked, sounding hurt. Jodie grunted and turned over in her bed. "I don't want to be awake," Jodie cried. "I want to be with him." "Him who?" "The man in my dreams," she replied. In silence, Jodie's mother worried about her daughter's head. Jodie was watched closely in the hospital and, at her mother's request, strapped to monitoring devices while she slept. The doctor agreed there was an unusual amount of brain activity in her sleep time, but no real concern. At home, Jodie's desire to sleep became worse. She didn't talk to the boys at school anymore, including Jimmy who liked her. She didn’t talk to anyone. She was intent on seeing only one face. She constantly thought about the man in her dreams, trying to hold on to the features of his face and the sound of his voice. She tried falling asleep in her classes, but soon she realized the young man only came to her when she was hurt. She walked across the fairways on golf courses and busy streets in rush hour. She walked on top of fences and soared over manmade jumps on her bike, hoping to land on her head. She continued to ride the dangerous back trails, looking for rogue roots in the ground. When that didn't work, she took sleeping pills. One night, she swallowed too many. Her mother went into her room one evening to check on her, thinking that she was doing her homework. She found her daughter face down on the bed with a half-filled bottle of sleeping pills on the night stand. Her mother fell to her daughter's side. "No man is worth this, real or not," she said. She stroked her daughter's hair. Her husband came in, pushed his wife aside and began pulling his daughter's eyelids open and listening to her chest. He grabbed the phone and pushed the buttons with a steady, deliberate finger. The white room spiraled into focus with a clean brilliancy. Jodie closed her eyes, and slowly opened them again. She smiled, looking up, as the young man’s perfect teeth and mouth formed the same words that echoed in her head.