Thank you for coming back for What to Read Wednesday 🙂 Today we have author Victoria Bernadine visiting. She’s written a wonderful post that I’m sure you’ll enjoy and then afterward is sharing her latest release, a chick lit/contemporary fiction book titled A LIFE LESS ORDINARY!
And don’t forget to enter Victoria’s giveaway at the end of the post!!
Take it away Victoria!
Good morning! Thanks for inviting me to your blog today.
I’ve had a lot of people in my “real” (read: non-writing) life ask me (usually with wide eyes and a nervous chuckle) if the characters in A Life Less Ordinary are based on real people.
Rest easy, my friends! A Life Less Ordinary is pure fiction!
Well. Mostly. (Cue evil grin.)
Manny grew out of my own emotional state at the time I started writing the book. Up until that point, I’d never really had an issue with aging. Like I used to tell my mother, getting older is better than the alternative! I managed to turn 18, 20, 21, 30 and 40 without turning a hair.
Then I turned 45.
It just about killed me.
I was suddenly very aware of my age, and the fact that, if I was very lucky, I really was at the mid-point of my life. I was looking back on my life and wondering what I’d done with it, and where, exactly, had the time gone, and bloody hell, I still hadn’t made it to Europe! I was suddenly and sharply aware of opportunities lost and roads not taken. I was almost in a blind panic, and all I really wanted to do was run away and hide from it all.
I am, however, a Responsible Adult…although I know quite a few people who would laugh hysterically at that thought. So, being a Responsible Adult, I didn’t run screaming from the building; I had Manny do it for me.
While Manny does embody (at least at the beginning) the emotions I was feeling at the time I wrote the book, it is not autobiographical. None of the characters are “real people”, and I don’t – I repeat, I don’t! – have an imaginary friend named Harvey.
Although I’d like one. ;D
(And I still haven’t made it to Europe…*sigh*.)
For the last fifteen years, Rose “Manny” Mankowski has been a very good girl. She turned her back on her youthful fancies and focused on her career. But now, at the age of 45, she’s questioning her choices and feeling more and more disconnected from her own life. When she’s passed over for promotion and her much younger new boss implies Manny’s life will never change, something snaps. In the blink of an eye, she’s quit her job, sold her house and cashed in her pension, and she’s leaving town on a six month road trip.
After placing a personal ad for a travelling companion, she’s joined in her mid-life crisis by Zeke Powell, the cynical, satirical, most-read – and most controversial – blogger for the e-magazine, What Women Want. Zeke’s true goal is to expose Manny’s journey as a pitiful and desperate attempt to reclaim her lost youth – and increase his readership at the same time. Leaving it all behind for six months is just an added bonus.
Now, armed with a bagful of destinations, a fistful of maps, and an out-spoken imaginary friend named Harvey, Manny’s on a quest to rediscover herself – and taking Zeke along for the ride.
“All I ever wanted was a life less ordinary.”
Manny lay flat on her back, eyes wide, staring at the ceiling while she waited for her clock to hit 6:00. Another day of work, she thought. Another day older and deeper in debt.
She had the alarm timed to the millisecond. The jarring noise had barely begun when she clicked it off. She sighed then threw back the covers and got out of bed.
She padded into the bathroom, glanced without interest in the full-length mirror that doubled as her shower doors and took her morning inventory.
Plain face? Check.
Looking tired? Check.
Thirty pounds overweight? Check.
Dark circles under deer-caught-in-headlights eyes? Check and check.
She shook her head at her limp, mousy hair and wondered when she’d gotten so old.
She sighed in resignation then conjured up her Perfect Fantasy Man–or Harvey, as she liked to call him–to give her a morning lift. She cocked her head to one side as she stared into the mirror and imagined him standing behind her. She smiled at the handsome man, and he smiled back, putting his hands on her shoulders. Everything about him was warm, in stark contrast to the cold shades of grey in which she lived her life. He had warm brown eyes, warm brown skin, and a warm smooth voice that always reminded her of golden honey. Today his hair was black with greying temples, and yes, even that seemed warm to her.
He was perfect, everything she considered ideal in a man–and extra-perfect, of course, because he was a fantasy. Just the thought of trying to establish a relationship with an actual man felt too much like work.
She sighed and Harvey disappeared.
“Instead I ended up in a rut–everything planned and executed to the minute.”
She finished her shower and padded out to the kitchen wrapped in a worn terrycloth robe just as the coffee pot finished perking her morning coffee. She pulled a white cup out of the cupboard, filled it and took it with her to the bedroom, where she drank her coffee while she dressed and pulled her hair into its habitual bun high on the back of her head. At 6:45 sharp, she was back in the kitchen where she rinsed out the cup and put it on the rack next to the other three cups from earlier in the week; they marked the passage of time like scratches on a prison wall.
She walked out the door at 6:55 as usual, called good morning to Mr. Abinash from next door, as usual, got into her car and drove to work. As usual. She walked in at 7:37, called good morning to those of her staff already at their desks, and settled herself in her office.
She sighed silently as she logged on to her computer and realized she couldn’t remember the last time she’d had a sick day or had come in late. Even her car and traffic and the sometimes-harsh Edmonton winters had given up trying to throw off her schedule.
She sighed again as she rifled through her stacks of paper, searching for the information she needed to review before the staff meeting at nine. The last staff meeting before their new boss arrived at ten, and Manny went back to her old position. She’d enjoyed being the boss and thought she’d had a good chance to win the promotion. If she was honest with herself, though, she hadn’t really been surprised with the decision to offer the job to Steph. If she had the energy, she’d almost wonder why she didn’t even care that much.
“I told myself it was security. But all I was doing was sleeping with my eyes open.”
Manny glanced up as her assistant energetically bounced in.
“Morning, Roxie. How was your evening?”
“Great–went to that new Robert Downey Jr. movie–rrrooowwwrrrr! Phil wasn’t too impressed with my drooling though.”
Manny laughed. “I’d expect not. I guess I need to go see it then.”
“Yeah, sure. When was the last time you actually went to a movie in the theatre?”
Manny paused, considering the question then shrugged carelessly. “Can’t remember, actually.”
Roxie shook her head in exasperated fondness and sat down in front of Manny’s desk. She leaned forward and lowered her voice. “So, the new boss starts today?”
“Yep,” Manny replied absently, reviewing the e-mails in her inbox.
“Are you going to be okay with this? I mean, you–”
“Of course I’m okay with it. Steph’s a nice person, bright, energetic, competent, levelheaded, full of new ideas. She may have a bit of a learning curve ahead of her, but she’ll do just fine. She may be just what we need around here. Perk us up a bit.”
“Yeah, but you–”
Manny took her hands off the keyboard and turned to face Roxie directly. She gave her a reassuring smile and calmly held her gaze.
“I’m okay with it,” she said. “Really. I didn’t want to be the boss anyway.” She paused then continued. “Everything’s going to be fine. You’ll see. A new boss will be fun!”
Roxie grimaced cynically and Manny shook her head in mock disapproval.
“We should get to work,” she urged gently.
Roxie nodded and stood. “Yeah, that at least never changes. But Manny…”
Manny raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“It should’ve been you.”
Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008. Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody’s guess. She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt). A Life Less Ordinary is the first novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.
- Victoria’s Website | Twitter | Goodreads
- Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords
- Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Fiction
- Length: 371 pages
- Release Date: December 10, 2012
**Click HERE to enter giveaway**