Friday, September 25, 2015

P. J. O'Rourke - The End of An Era

P.J. O'Rourke
July 4, 2000 - September 22, 2015

This week I lost my friend and writing companion.  It's been a long and happy partnership, and my friend was tired - it was time to say goodbye.

My journey with Rourke began when we brought home a new puppy, an Irish Terrier.  Rourke began life in the heart of the British Columbia mountains.  I would joke about his "dual citizenship" for his sire was an American dog and Rourke was born on the fourth of July.  But none of that mattered much to Rourke.  What mattered to him was having his people close, having a bit of fun in the day - a game or two or maybe three, getting into a bit of mischief and going for that daily walk.

We wanted a good solid Irish name so we named him after one of my husband's favourite author's at that time, P. J. O'Rourke.

Rourke was a good traveller from the beginning and where we went, at least on our road trips, he went too.  He settled himself into the backseat ready for any adventure that was to follow.  Intelligent and quick to learn, he wasn't so quick to follow commands.  He had a mind of his own, a trait bred into him eons ago when the Irish Terrier was raised as an independent Irish farm dog.  Now that trait was clear with Rourke.  At obedience, he learned quickly but after learning a command he wasn't apt to repeat it over and over again.  Once he'd done it, the look on his face would say that was enough.  He loved little children and other dogs.  And a walk where either of those appeared ended up in a very distracted Rourke.  He wanted to visit the children and charge head first at the dog, ready for any game whether it was a nose sniffing hello or a pseudo fight.  While he could fly over an agility course, he wasn't so apt to stop if distracted by another dog.  He loved winter and shovelling his face through the banks of fresh snow.  Doing a rather face forward snowplow until there was snow clinging to his moustache.  He loved playing and even a few days before he died he was trying to do spins on the lawn.  But his favourite toys and games were with his stuffed animals - always oversized.

He was there when my first book, From the Dust was published in 2007 and through the writing journey thats followed with all its twists and turns.  He's accompanied me on fifteen years of idea laden walks.  Every morning he made sure that I took a break from writing to go on those walks.  There he strolled by my side, sniffing trees and shrubs, running ahead and always game to keep extending the walk to sniff one more tree and then one more.  In later years, our walks were slower but he still enjoyed every moment of the new sights and smells and the simple joy of being together.  A walk with Rourke never failed to end in feeling good - you couldn't help it.

There was ritual attached to my writing.  Every morning I would get my coffee and Rourke would follow me downstairs to my office where he would settle on his oversized dog bed.  It was a bed we'd brought home from a trip despite the good-natured griping of my husband at the size of it and the room it took, never mind the fact that we had to haul it thousands of miles.  My office looks empty without Rourke laying on that big dog bed.   Sometimes I can imagine he's still there.  

Through the ups and downs of establishing a writing career, Rourke was one of the constants.  When I was accepted by Harlequin intrigue I didn't know it but his time here was dwindling.  I like to think that he stuck around to see me become a Harlequin author and once that was accomplished, Rourke saw it as a time to let go.

I know that'll I'll never know the truth of that but but what I know for sure is that a little over a week before he died, the lameness he was experiencing was diagnosed as something much worse, bone cancer.  He spent his last week being held and pampered, the king of his domain, as he always was, and as loving as he had always been.   The end was peaceful in my arms, just as he arrived in our life as a small puppy over fifteen years ago.

Rest well, sweet Rourke.  Enjoy the stories from afar.


Rourke's Salmon Biscuits
1 can salmon (about 200 grams)
1/2 cup water
pinch of dill
a dash or two of lemon
a dash of pepper 
bake at 325 - flip the cookies after thirty minutes
and continue to bake for another half hour.
Turn off oven but leave cookies in the oven until it cools.  
Cookies will harden just a bit more

Monday, September 21, 2015

Gotcha: The Subordination of Free Will

I was thrilled to be asked to review another of Eldon Taylor's books.  His books are always educational and inspirational.  But this time I was a little surprised.  Gotcha is unlike any of his books I've read before.  Gotcha is a wake-up call and as such, it is as thought provoking as it is disturbing.  But don't let all that scare you - instead look at it as a challenge, a book that could change your life like all his others but in a different way.  So without anymore rambling - here's my review of Gotcha and a bit about its author, Eldon Taylor.

My review of:  

Gotcha:  The Subordination of Free Will

Gotcha is a reminder that in a world of propaganda we must be aware and alert and most of all, prepared to act.  Taylor takes us through the background and history of aspects of hypnosis and behavioral modification and demonstrates how government and big business uses this knowledge for their own agendas through an almost constant flood of advertisement and doublespeak that strives to lead us like sheep.  Knowledge is power and the  more big business and government knows about us the more power they have over use, giving them the ability to do anything from selling us the latest in toothpaste to gaining our acceptance of restrictive government legislations and even wars.  Gotcha reminds us of how many of our rights have already been given away for the privilege of what authorities call security or safety and how those lost freedoms may only serve to give them more power over us.  Gotcha is a call to action.  It is a reminder that if each of us believes we cannot make a difference and don't act because our actions will be too small, then our individuality will eventually be swallowed by those who exert their influence over us.  Gotcha is a thought provoking must read for anyone who cares about the future of humanity in the twenty-first century.

Available at most bookstores online including:,, Barnes and Noble

About the Author - Eldon Taylor:

Eldon has made a lifelong study of the human mind and has earned doctoral degrees in psychology and metaphysics.  He is president of Progressive Awareness Research, an organization dedicated to researching techniques for accessing the immense powers of the mind.  For more than 20 years, he has approached personal empowerment from the cornerstone perspective of forgiveness, gratitude, service and respect for all life.

Eldon can be reached at:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Suspect Witness - It's Been a Journey

Since I learned earlier this year that Suspect Witness was accepted for publication with Harlequin Intrigue there's been the proverbial "learning curve."  While setting up an author profile I learned that after making DH take numerous pictures before I was finally satisfied - the picture may and would be rejected.   My photo rejected?  Yes, for lack of acceptable resolution.   I've rejected many photos of moi in my day but for very different reasons!  But seriously, there's much to learn and yes - another photo to be taken.

Suspect Witness left my hands, for the last time, earlier this month.  It didn't leave easily.  When I received that last copy and heard that this was it - last chance to make changes, I had a hard time letting it go.  In fact I held on to it right until D day or deadline day.  And then I had to pry off all ten fingers that clung to cyber space hoping for another hour, minute, second.  But the truth was the story was ready, scanned by many eyes, researched written and pampered in the planing stages and polished long after that.  I let go.

In a way it feels like my book has become a communal project.  But I'm grateful for that community who with sharp eyes and sharper grammar skills have pulled out a few misplaced phrases.  I've never had this many eyes on a manuscript and it was both supportive and in a way intimidating.  Being from Canada there were a few twists of grammar that left me stumped.  I thought I had all the cheque/check or neighbour/neighbor etc. etc., covered.  But there were some I hadn't anticipated and that I admit I looked it up to be sure that I was right - and I was, as long as I kept my foot on the north side of the border.

But all of that aside, that isn't the exciting news.  What is is that while Suspect Witness still doesn't have a cover, it has a date - February 1, 2016.  Check it out on Amazon where you can pre order.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Must Reads of Summer

I'm not sure why in the middle of a gorgeous summer day with the temperature sitting at a beautiful
26 Celsius that I'm sitting in the house.  Maybe it's because yesterday I attended the "family" barbecue, which means I got my quota of outdoors.  It was a day of being outside and catching up with an interesting mix of people that included my brother's in-laws as well as his side of the family, which was how I ended up outside enjoying the sun at a party at his house.  It's only once a year that we get to do this but it's always a fun time.

Saskatchewan prairie
Now, with the summer half over it's time to get serious about summer reads.  And today I've come across a dilemma.  The problems comes in the form of Harper Lee and her new book.  I want to read it but I can't read it.

Why...  ?

Because of "To Kill a Mockingbird".

"To Kill a Mockingbird" was a grade school compulsory read.  Why we would have read it then, I don't know but the result is that it was so long ago that I can't remember much of anything about the book.  So, I've pulled out a copy I got at a garage sale, like a batch of other books I've picked up along the way just just because I thought one day I might read it again.  One day in this case turned into a year and then two, and my book collection of one day I might read expanded with silent precision in my bookcase downstairs.

My curiosity has me wanting to read the"Go Set a Watchman" but practicality tells me I need a brush up on history first.  So "To Kill a Mockingbird" has moved upstairs where I promise myself it will be read just as soon as I finish a non-fiction that promises to motivate me to hit the treadmill - we'll see.

What are you reading this summer?


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Bio? - Even the Dog is Stressed

Okay, so the dog wasn't too stressed except that his lunch was delayed.  Me on the other hand, there was just a little sweat.  It's not that this was the first bio I've ever written, or even the second.   But there I was poised with the publish button on my new website that had been out of commission for over a week, before I even hit the publish button, but that's another story.

All the drama was exhausting.
I hesitated.


Couldn't do it.


I made the mistake of reading the bio.  No good, I told self.  Why?  It's all true.  It's me, it really happened.  Maybe it needs more reality...

But really, does anyone care that I'll devour chocolate chip cookies and can't keep a full package in the house.  Is letting them know that I once killed an influx of spiders with a can of hairspray relevant?  Seriously, none of that was there but what was, well it just wasn't grabbing me.  Maybe there's only so many times you can read about your own life - or at least skim the surface of it.

So back to square one and the original bio.  You know I think I agonized too much.  I love reading biographies, what was so hard about writing a brief bit about myself?  Once I sharpened and shortened, it's not bad.  I think it's interesting and well, it's all true.  It's my life, short form, the relevant parts... the bits that hopefully really matter to me as a writer - and the rest, well I'm not filling in the blanks at least not this go around...

Cheers to Canada Day!
 and to the upcoming Fourth of July!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Stories of Prairie People

I am fortunate to still have some of my family elders around with stories of past days on the prairie.  So when I heard a local publisher was putting together an anthology of stories from the depression on cream money and it's importance to local farmers - I had just the story to include.

It's hard to imagine what life would be like in a tiny town in the middle of the prairies circa nineteen-forty.  It's definitely another world and I'm so lucky to have someone whose been there entertain me with how it was.  Barefoot, windblown kids running free, racing trains and doing their part in supporting the family by wrestling those cans onto a train - a train that might still be moving.    Unbelievable now but reality then.

That was the story I was told and wrote for the anthology, Cream Money, which will be debuting this Saturday.

There are other fantastic stories by other authors, in fact a whole collection of true tales of another world on the prairies - long ago.  It's better than fiction because it's real and just as unimaginable.  Imagine digging a hole in the ground to live for a prairie winter.  Imagine temperatures that can go double digit below zero and be accompanied by harsh winds.  There are tales of survival, and if talking to our many pioneers is any indication, more tales of fun and adventure.  All of it is wrapped around the theme of cream money and how it helped those hardy pioneers survive the nineteen-thirties depression.  Check it out, there's lots of stories from other authors all compacted into one great book.

I'll be giving a copy or two of Cream Money away in the month of June - sign up for my newsletter to learn more.  E-mail and just put newsletter in the re line.