This afternoon I was on the tram on my way to Taksim Square in Istanbul. I had a meeting in a place I’d never been to and I had to do something I’ve never done before. I was nervous and focused on the task.
I arrived at my location and suddenly, in the midst of hundreds of people coming and going, I stopped. I panicked and pulled out my cell phone to make notes.
I could see the scene. I could hear the screams and watch the tragedy unfold. The horrific event was happening in the middle of a face-time video conversation between one of the members of my Raven Group operatives. I even caught the conversation. I have no idea what any of it meant but I knew it was the opening of my next Code Raven 8 book!
The thing is, I’m in the middle of writing a second memoir. It’s going so well and I’m caught up in Rumi, and Turkey and how a nice Catholic girl ends up living in the Middle East. The absolute last thoughts I’m having are of a world-wide disaster that will require my Raven Group to get to the bottom of this brutal act.
But there it is. What can an author do? I’m powerless to the magic that unfolds when this happens. And it’s all my fault. I’ve allowed my Muse to have her way with me far too often. So she thinks she can interrupt my lovely non-fiction project and my very busy afternoon at a government office to insert a new thriller/suspense plot in my psyche!!
My writer’s day is never done—my Muse sleeps with me too!
Like right now! I should be working on a newMemoir. But, I’m checking out Quora, eating breakfast, trying to make sense out of World Politics and man’s determination to kill. Sometimes I wonder if as a society we’ve progressed at all.
I retired from a full-time career a year ago. And traveled for months to all parts of the world. So I haven’t quite fallen into a routine workday. I love this newfound freedom and the 10 extra pounds that go with it. And the decision to live in Istanbul for the foreseeable future.
I’ve given myself permission to LOVE my current lack of schedule. However, I have a new release The Istanbul Conspiracy, that came online at Amazon Christmas Day. I purposely gave myself a deadline and the pressure of making sure I was ready.
Now I have fallen into a schedule that looks like this. I have 3 distinct projects every day.
Yoga for 30 minutes the moment I wake up.
Coffee, Breakfast, World news, Q, FB and I limit that fun to 1 hour
Write. I have 2 Code Ravens to publish this year. And another memoir. I’ve already published 16 books on Amazon. I’m doing the memoir first. But if I need a break, I will work on the two plots for the CRaven series books 8 and 9.
I take breaks for WordWars—I admit I’m addicted to the game even with the new site full of advertisements that drive me crazy!
I allow myself the indulgence of Prime Video or Netflix but more than likely this pastime is saved for late evening.
I have a boyfriend who is low maintenance so every couple of days he shows up in my world which is great. I get a break. Plus he loves food and takes me to all his favorite Turkish restaurants.
My body refuses to adjust to Istanbul time or a work schedule like I might have maintained when I lived in Mexico. That means my body believes bedtime is around 2–3 am and wakeup somewhere between 10:45-11:30 am.
It’s not unusual for me to write or do marketing in the evening and I will work sometimes up until midnight. (I’m self-published and marketing is a large part of my job.)
I LOVE my life! I’m living the dream.
My New Years’ resolution is to have more DISCIPLINE! Hah!
In the fall of 1995, Nov. 4th, to be exact, the Prime Minister of Israel was assassinated.
I remember driving the Sea-to-Sky highway from Whistler British Columbia to Vancouver Airport. I was going to a funeral.
The year before, 1994, I went bankrupt. I lost my manufacturing business in Montreal and my home. My husband and I packed our suitcases and took our two young boys across Canada to start all over again. I’m good at re-inventing myself. I’ve done it several times during my lifetime.
I had charmed my way into a top job in Whistler BC. In those days, if you were female and in charge of a multi-million-dollar sales team, you were a Bitch. When I think back to those days, I might have been tough; but I was a very Successful Bitch! And my boys and husband and I were happy with our new life.
Then I received a phone call. My Dad was dead.
My father fought in the Canadian army during WWII, and he was also a UN peacekeeper in the Middle East. The military moved us every three years. I’m sure this is familiar to many who lived the military life in the ’50s and ’60s.
I skipped the hippie years. I was too busy being a ‘good girl’ and too afraid to smoke pot or do drugs, or drop out, or experience free love—I made up for the ‘free love’ thing over the years! As an adult, I divorced like we moved, often, and never looking back.
My fondest memories of my father were him sitting in his lazy-boy chair, smoking his cigarettes surrounded by newspapers. He was a brilliant man, a techie—Morse Code guy in his time. He would have loved the Internet! I was never sure what he did in London during the war, but I have my suspicions. No one knew for sure. I think he was a spy, decrypting coded messages.
But in my memories, my Dad was always talking about world events. He gave up alcohol in the ’80s, because it almost killed him, and pretended to give up smoking. But we could smell it on his clothes when he would come up from his basement workroom. So, not long after re-inventing my life and moving to Western Canada, I got the phone call. My Dad was dead. And a couple of days later, so was Yitzhak Rabin, the PM of Israel.
It’s strange how the mind works. Growing up with my father was challenging. We always fought—he was drunk by dinner time, and I often left the table in tears. But I know he loved me with everything he was capable of giving. And I’m thinking about him tonight on New Year’s Eve.
Every time I release a new Code Raven novel (spies and current event-related mysteries and suspense), I think of my father. Driving along the Sea-to-Sky highway in November of 1995, Yitzhak Rabin, the Prime Minister of Israel, was assassinated. And through my tears, for my Dad, I smiled and thought to myself: My Dad will have someone to talk politics in Heaven, or wherever you go in the afterlife.
Writing is not something you choose to do. Writing chooses you.
What you decide to do with your gift is up to you.
I’ve always lived inside my head. I have a vivid imagination—not just for fiction but for living. I can picture myself on a plane to anywhere, anytime, even right this moment! I can read something in the news like the plane that crashed yesterday in Kazakhastan and imagine myself being a crew member when the plane went down. RIP 100 people.
I wander around my apartment in Istanbul—this time last year I was living in Mexico—and play out my next Code Raven Plot in my mind. Should I remain in Turkey, like The Istanbul Conspiracy I published on Christmas Day? The surprises in that book have me reeling! Maybe I will take CR 8 to Jerusalem, or Bangkok? Wait! But my next book will be another memoir!!
“Hah, you think you are in control, Lynda?” My cocky Muse.
“No ‘but’s’ about it. You ended that political suspense book with too much drama. We have to know where this story will go. So sit down, and plot it out!”
“Wait. I really want to write another memoir! I traveled this year, I learned so much. I grew so much!! This memoir will be so filled with life and love. My fans are waiting.”
“Okay, we will compromise. You can work on both of them at the same time.”
“Muse! You are out of control!! First, you aged my young Alice by 7 years in this book! Then, you did the unspeakable! I mean, really, right before the wedding a terrorist attack! How could you?”
My Muse remained silent. I imagine she/he/God is smiling.
A quote comes to mind, “When man plans, God laughs.”
As a writer, I can plan all I want, but the magic happens when I let my Muse have her way with me.
One must start the day off at Starbucks, and yes, Cats are revered in Turkey, in the Islam religion, so this beauty was saying hello to everyone before she went on her independent Christmas Eve day.
I sent Santa this above message and followed it up with the one below, because last year I was in Mexico, and I didn’t want him to worry about trying to locate me in Istanbul–the city has 17 million people!
Although there are no signs of Christmas in this Muslim country, colorful lights decorate every street in this intensely lively city!
And the weather feels like spring, not winter. I don’t really need to wear my winter coat just yet!
This week my boyfriend bought me chocolates from the Spice Bazaar for absolutely no reason! Well, maybe he realized Christmas was coming and I was feeling … lonely? I knocked them off in 48 hours!!! And two days later he came over with another box of the same. He adores me and thinks I look amazing even if I’m sure I’ve put on 10 chocolate pounds in the last week.
The mosques still fascinate me. I love to listen to the call to prayer. Last night I couldn’t sleep–maybe memories of Christmas past and family that is no longer with us. So I listened to the call to prayer well before sunrise. There’s something comforting in this age-old manner of professing a love of God. It’s one of the things I find special about this culture.
My hairdresser decided it was time to change my hair color for this festive time of year, He added blue!! If he had asked me first, we both would have had to use Google Translate! I laughed out loud when I saw it. It’s absolutely perfect for me.
And to top off my evening–because soup alone does not cut it on Christmas Eve–I had a lovely glass or two of Blush Shiraz from Turkey. Then I chatted online with people I love from all around the world.
And I almost forgot!! Today I released my latest Code Raven book 7 The Istanbul Conspiracy! https://amzn.to/2PSAApgMy Christmas gift to you! It’s available in download and in print.
The wedding of DJ Turk and the daughter of the Minister of Defense is about to take place on a mega-yacht on the Bosphorus in Istanbul. Hours later the much-anticipated photos show corpses lined up along the dock and a bride covered in blood. Was this a random act of terror, a targeted assassination of the Turkish political elite, or an attack on DJ Turk who leads a double life? Luke and Samaar of the Raven Group have their own wedding to attend but it’s called off at the last minute when they uncover a breach in their security. Instead of returning to Paris, they come to the aid of the Turk to get to the bottom of this horrific event. The conspiracy they uncover must be prevented before the balance of power in the world is perilously reversed. Get your copy at https://amzn.to/2EQdpWf
Thank you for your support in 2019. I look forward to continuing to cause trouble, shock, and entertain you in 2020!!
Reacher takes a stroll through a small Wisconsin town and sees a class ring in a pawn shop window: West Point 2005. A tough year to graduate, Iraq, then Afghanistan. The ring is tiny, for a woman, and it has her initials engraved on the inside.
If you’re a fiction reader and love mystery and suspense, you’re familiar with Lee Child. I’ve learned so much about the art of writing from this contemporary author. I’m always reading something, blogs, books, fiction, non-fiction, Quora, research for my novels, etc. But I rarely remember a plot. The Midnight Line haunted me. Not only for the brilliance of the simple plot and unusual way LC approached a serious problem in society today; but also the empathy and passion of the character that LC created in Jack Reacher.
I have a new book coming out Dec. 25, The Istanbul Conspiracy (don’t tell the censors in TKY because I’m currently living in IST). During the writing of several scenes in this book—Code Raven 7—I found the words coming through me faster than I could type! When I would finish a section I would give thanks to LEE CHILD and The Midnight Line. I never thought I was studying his work. But I am such a fan of his plots, his simplistic yet haunting style, that I absorbed his style. And I am forever grateful.
A reviewer once compared my writing to Lee Child. That was a long time before I’d earned any such reference—and I still don’t. But he inspires and entertains me, and his books remain a source of motivation every time I sit down at the computer.
There have been many books over the years that left a lasting impression in my heart and soul. Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
I have a family member caught up in a world that Lee Child explores the Midnight Line. The book helped me understand addiction in a way I could never fathom before.
I knew I liked to shake up my life, but this year has been amazing!
It’s almost 2020, so I’m taking a moment to look back and do the proverbial: how did Lynda do in 2019? But today I’m going one step further, I’m going ALL the way back. How many times can I re-invent myself?
I was a good girl, a Canadian army brat. We moved every three years. You packed up your things, said goodbye to your friends, and moved on with your life. Didn’t everyone live like that?
In my teens, I thought I’d be a Catholic nun. I entered a convent of missionary sisters straight from high school. I was religious. I wanted to save the world, look after orphans, feed the poor. Instead, I recall days of washing floors and stealing cookies from the kitchen after lights out! Less than a year later, I left the convent, returned to Ottawa, and married my high school sweetheart. A year later, I was divorced.
I look back on my life and see the characteristics and events that define the woman I’ve become. At the time, I couldn’t see it, but as Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “I can see clearly now.”
First, I’m a loner. It turns out that’s a good thing because change is easy, maybe too easy for me. I don’t form the kind of attachments others form. As a result of my upbringing, I don’t have childhood friends. When people ask me where I come from, I never know what to say. I lived in Petawawa, Toronto, Lindsay, Edmonton, Montreal, Whistler—all in Canada. Then Puerto Vallarta Mexico for the last 17 years. What do I say Canada or Mexico? And now I’m in Istanbul, Turkey!
I could live anywhere in the world because “wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”
I did the same thing with my various careers and in my own businesses.
I started in sales part-time over the summer in Ottawa when I was 18. Then I taught myself how to type and assisted the GM of a stock brokerage firm. I moved to Toronto and began a short-lived modeling career that led me into fashion. I opened a store and sold ladies’ clothing. I built that into a chain of stores. Unfortunately, husband number 2 was a gambler, and he stole money from the business. And “the rest is history!”
The next stop was Montreal, where I began a career as a women’s clothing buyer for retail businesses, importing, designing, and creating. I woke up one morning and said to myself, “If you can make money for someone else, why not do it for yourself.” I opened a manufacturing plant.
Several years later, I now had two young boys. Quebec was in a recession. So I moved from Montreal to western Canada and began a career in resort sales that lasted 25 years! “Why invest money for inventory, rent, retail, and wholesale, when you can make just as much money using your sales skills without the financial risk?”
Witness the evolution of a woman:
“I can see clearly now.”
“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”
“The rest is history!”
“If you can make money for someone else, why not do it for yourself.”
“Why invest the money for inventory, rent, retail, and wholesale, when you can make just as much money using your sales skills without the financial risk?”
And this brings us to the year 2019. After 54 years of working, 9-5, 8-midnight, and 3, or 4-hour days, I retired! Well, my version of retirement. I sold everything and bought an airline ticket with multiple destinations—precisely the way I’ve lived my life! I celebrated my 72nd birthday in Tel Aviv to the sound of air raid sirens. And from there, I traveled to Europe, India, Thailand. And along the way, I found Istanbul.
The one constant in my life is my love of books. I think my first memory of a book is Little Women. I will reread it someday. In my teens, I started to write poetry and journal. And in my 20’s I wrote my first novel. I never published it and lost the manuscript in one of my moves. But that’s fine with me. It was never meant to be published. I never even tried. But in 2008, I was diagnosed with incurable heart disease and told I had “6 months to live.”
This time I not only had to re-invent myself but re-create myself. “And that has made all the difference.”
Now the promises to self kicked in, and I began to write in earnest. I published three books of poetry and wrote several books of fiction. I waited for years to write and publish my journey to healing because I wanted to be sure that I actually survived what I call my miracle. And now I’m almost on the eve of publishing my 16th book on Amazon, The Istanbul Conspiracy! The 7th in my Code Raven Series.
So far, it’s been and wild and wondrous journey. I’ve managed to stay retired all of 2019 and finally returned to writing to gather my plots for this new release. Yes, I call this retirement even though I am super busy with writing novels, blogs, Quora, FB, IG, Twitter, yoga, traveling, and living my beautiful creative life. I love Istanbul and I think I will stay for a while. It’s been 8 months so far. I’m researching for my books, learning to cook Turkish food, wandering the streets, doing photography, and now I’m back to full-time writing. I finally have time to keep in touch with friends I’ve made along the way in Mexico and in Turkey and all over the world.
So, tell me something. How many times can you reinvent yourself? I say, as many times as it takes!
I LOVE that I am fearless and refuse to live my life the way society dictates. Every morning I find joy in my love of life that has led me to adventures beyond what I ever thought possible.
I woke up this morning and hit the yoga mat. I have immense gratitude that at 72 I am able to move every single part of my body without pain.
I sat down at my desk and finished editing my latest book, The Istanbul Conspiracy. I LOVE that I’ve been blessed with the gift of imagination and the ability to entertain and inspire.
When I take a my medications for heart/blood pressure, I give thanks to a world that has created drugs that have allowed a woman like me to continue living and loving even though I was given “6 months to live” in 2009!
And I take joy from my attitude in life: everything amazes, surprises, and delights me…simple things like the Istanbul cats, Starbucks coffee, caramel waffle cookies, and finding fresh lettuce for my salad at the corner store.
And I find joy — endless joy, in creativity: photography, writing my novels, reading, graphics, fashion, music. And style, like my new hair color. This is what happens when you don’t speak Turkish, your hairdresser doesn’t speak English — but he gets me!
I take joy in knowing I have two amazing sons in my life. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but that’s okay. They are both just like me: strong-willed and on their own paths.
I’ve been through bankruptcies and divorces — make no comment about the plurals, please! But my stubborn determination to succeed means I’ve bounced back from both more times than I can remember and refuse to become hardened or bitter.
And at this moment in time, I have a very loving relationship with a guy who makes me laugh-out-loud and reminds me that I’m beautiful inside and out. He says that age is just a number to be ignored — ”It’s what’s in your heart that counts.”
Finally — although I’m sure I can come up with a lot more — I have a philosophy in life — many, actually, but I will share this one:
I believe that loneliness is a direct relation to self-love and self-worth. Let’s face the fact that aging is a subject that’s on every woman’s mind once she reaches the age of 30. Why is that? Why do we worry so much about getting older and being alone? I think it has to do with self-love. We just don’t love our selves enough.
We can blame it on the society we live in as aging is a first-world-obsession. All we have to do is look at the media to see that once a woman hits 50 she begins to become invisible. But mostly, this same woman is allowing society to create the fiction that there is something wrong with aging.
I know this might be a rambling comment, but it hurts my heart to hear talk of loneliness when I believe that within ourselves we are whole and complete. I’ve always been a loner—I’m a poet, a memoirist—LOVE The Beat Goes On—a novelist, a whole new career that began in the last decade.
I remember a time when I wouldn’t go to a restaurant and dine alone. I didn’t always have the confidence I have today. I had to work at it.
This photo was taken on my 70th birthday. I spent it at a high-end restaurant on the beach in Puerto Vallarta—a sunset dinner ALL BY MYSELF! It was a first. And it was amazing.
It took me until I was 72 to begin an amazing journey to many countries in the world, not on a tour, not with a group—all alone. And it’s been life-changing.
WE create a situation called loneliness. It doesn’t have to be that way.
I’ve always believed that happiness, contentment, love, health, all these things are related to how much we not only like our self but LOVE ourselves.
I love to say I live in my own little world, they know me there. I could also add, they—all the different aspects that make up the person I have become—LOVE me there. I don’t need other people in my life and yet, I meet new people everywhere. I met my current boyfriend at a touristy spot in Istanbul seven months ago. He was studying English and wanted to practice with someone. It was cold and rather rainy so I accepted the offer of Turkish tea. I took a chance and said yes to dinner later that evening. And here I am, living in Istanbul—for now.
Loneliness is a decision and a choice. You can meet people in a coffee shop, at an art gallery, at the museum, standing in line at the grocery store. I met a woman who has become a friend in a restaurant in Istanbul. She was dining alone and asked me to join her. I had a cold and didn’t want the company. But she asked again when her dessert came and you can always bribe me with “this is too much for me, please share my baklava!” She’s from the Philippines, lives in Florida with her sister, and is currently doing some freelance writing in Rome! She fell in love with Turkey at the same time as I did. Now she’s organizing a religious tour around Turkey next year!!
In today’s world, it’s easy to make friends if you want to. But you need to have the strength inside your own heart—self-love and personal happiness—to make it through the ups and downs of navigating the world.
It all comes back to self-love. And it’s never too late to learn to love yourself.
learn something new every day
Read, voraciously. Choose new genres, expand the mind
Travel, even if it’s to a new neighborhood—take risks, step outside your comfort zone
Take up a new hobby—everyone has a cell phone—take photos, have fun with them, join Instagram, connect with old friends.
And if you’re my age, do something crazy, like color your hair—okay, not this bright (I manipulated the brightness for the fun of it!)
And take care of your health, take your meds, do some yoga—you don’t have to leave home to find a great yoga video online
And try writing. I know you already love reading or you wouldn’t be here.