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 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)

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

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, fiancĂ©e, 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.