Sunday, June 17, 2012

So What Happens Now?

So the last chapter is over. Katie's story has been told, with your help, and it was a fun, crazy experience.

I had no idea where this story was going to end up, but, thanks to your creative ideas and input, I think we took Katie, Anne, Melissa, and Eoin to some pretty great places.

So what happens now? Is the adventure over?

Of course not!

While I'll be leaving this blog up as a sort of archive, I'm going to transfer all the chapters onto my computer and edit them into something that resembles something slightly more novel-like. This will take some time, because I would really like to edit it well, get some people to read it, that kind of thing. So what we've completed is really only the first draft in a long journey towards turning Katie's story into a real, honest-to-goodness book. And once it's ready and I'm confident I've made it perfect, then I'll see if anyone wants to make it a book for us!

But, you say, the publishing racket is tough. What if no one wants to buy it?

Then I suppose I venture into self-publishing. After all, you guys, we wrote an awesome story. It deserves to be read! So if no one wants to buy our book and publish it, we will just have to make an eBook.

So, to sum up, I present my plan:

1. Edit
2. Publish somehow.
3. Share our story with the world.

Hooray! I'll keep you posted with updates on Katie's journey into noveland.

xo Jenny

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chapter 48: You Are Fantastic

"Eoin," Katie said. "I think you need to look at it now." She held up an envelope that was on the bottom of the pile. It had a red URGENT on the front. "It's from immigration. I think this is serious."

Eoin came forward and ripped it open. His normally jovial face turned pale and frightened.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Katie felt her stomach go cold.

"I'm being deported," Eoin said, his voice flat. "They're sending me back to Ireland."

Eight Months Later

"Of course, of course. We'll be happy to meet with you. Absolutely." Melissa waved a pretty, manicured hand urgently in Katie's direction. Katie gripped Erica's arm tightly. "Yes. Sure." Melissa continued. "There's a great little boutique hotel right near our offices, let's meet there, shall we? Our space is undergoing some ... renos." Katie glanced around their cramped office, which was currently sporting three large blue buckets to catch the drips from a leaky roof. They didn't even have proper desks for all their staff yet (albeit a small staff, consisting of Erica and Mike -- Paul had stayed on at Ambrose's to "keep an eye on the competition", he promised), let alone a meeting room and a cappuccino machine. "Yes, it's a lovely place called the Senator. I'll meet you there in twenty minutes."

Melissa hung up the phone and gave a triumphant shout. "It's done! I think. We have a meeting, at least."

"Where you'll charm them and they'll have to sign with us," Katie clapped her hands. "Ooh! Can you imagine the fun we could have with a software company? We could do so much online stuff."

"We have to sign them first," Mike said, grimly. "Don't get too carried away."

"We have to think positively," Erica reminded him. "Positive thinking is the only way we're going to succeed."

"Yeah, that and clients," Katie said. "But I have a really good feeling about this one."

It wasn't as though they hadn't been getting work. Since they'd finally left Ambrose six months ago and set up their own company, they'd had a few small accounts, mostly just sent their way by Rebecca. But they still needed a big name to help them move up, and this software deal would be just the thing to put them on the map, as it were.

"I have a good feeling, too!" Melissa said. She grabbed her purse. "I'm going to head out now. I'm too nervous to just sit here, waiting!" 

"Okay, keep me posted on how it goes, Melissa. I've got my phone, so text as soon as it's over!" Katie watched as Melissa smoothed down her already impeccably-pressed suit and smoothed down her perfect hair. It was just as well they'd decided Melissa would be the one to meet clients first, Katie thought ruefully, looking down at her own wrinkly ensemble of faded blue jeans and soft black tshirt. Once an artist, always an artist, Katie thought.

After Melissa had left Katie stared glumly at her computer screen. She knew she should be working on some ideas for the possible deal with the software company, but she just wasn't that interested in software, to be honest. There was the online marketing angle, and that was cool, but Katie was way more in her element with tangible, physical stuff. Art pieces. She'd probably end up passing any online stuff to Mike, and he'd take the lead on the account, anyway. Katie sighed, and decided to Facebook-stalk Eoin.

Katie and Eoin had broken up. There wasn't any other way to describe it. He'd tried to fight the deportation but he'd been living in Canada illegally for so long there was no way they'd renew his student Visa. "It's not as though I was actually ever a student, anyway," Eoin shrugged when he lost his fight, then pulled Katie close to him, right there in the hallway of the stuffy government building. He'd been wearing a suit that day, it was dark blue and too small and his tie was crooked and his feet were in giant black Converse sneakers with no socks. It was no surprise the government wouldn't keep him, but Katie would, Katie wanted to, her heart broke and she sobbed into his white shirt front, turning it translucent with tears.

"I don't want to lose you," she'd snuffled, and he'd laughed and kissed her wet face.

"You won't lose me."

"I won't?"

"No. Because you'll come with me. You'll come to Ireland and we'll make art together."

For one whole week that had been the plan. Katie and Eoin had decided that she would move with him back to Dublin. She would find renters for her house, she would quit her job, she would pack up her art supplies and her cardigan sweaters and she would take this leap with this man she loved.

Her mother had been appalled. Her aunt and her friends had been thrilled. Her boss had been stoic but accepting. But her sister .... Anne hadn't said anything much at all. She'd only smiled tiredly and said, "I'll miss you, Katie."

And yet eight months later Katie was here, in this office (her office, she fiercely reminded herself, like a slap. It has your name on the door, and everything), spying on her ex-boyfriend.

He looked like he was doing well. Really well. Although the deportation had been a negative, a lot of positive things were happening for him. His show in Toronto had been a smash hit, and New York, London, and Barcelona had all asked him to do the same kind of project for them, following Vancouver (and Bobby's) lead. The London one, set to coincide with the 2013 Olympics, would basically set him up for life. Katie knew all this from his status updates and his friends' comments; though she and Eoin were Facebook-friends, they hadn't had any direct communication in a long, long time.

There were a bunch of new photos: Eoin with friends out at a pub somewhere. (He had his arm around a girl, a strange, pretty girl. Who was that? She was tall and leggy with satiny tops and skimpy skirts. Katie felt a jealous sadness, and clicked quickly through the photos, looking for evidence, looking for salt to rub into this already aching wound. Surely she'd find one of them kissing. She could cry herself to sleep with that one for days.)

"Umm. Katie?" Erica's voice, rather timid, rather quiet, but firm. "Can I ...."

Katie quickly shut her laptop. "What's up, Erica?"

"Nothing. Really. It's you want to talk about it? About Eoin? Because I'm happy to listen...." Though Erica wouldn't make eye contact, Katie had no doubt as to her sincerity.

"It's fine, Erica. Honestly. I'll get over him, eventually. Anyway, I have to go out to meet Anne right away, so it's cool. I can talk to her if I need to." Katie grabbed her sweater, shoved her phone into her bag, and hurried out the door. It wasn't only that she wanted to get away from this potential conversation, she was honestly already running late.

"So sorry!" She gasped as she rushed into the Magic Oven. It was right by the dog grooming place where Anne was now working as assistant manager and accountant. "I know you only have a short lunch break."

"It's okay," Anne said. "I figured you'd be late so I warned my boss. She's cool. I just can't make a habit of it."

"Well, that's okay then. You're not really supposed to be forming habits, anyway," Katie said, and was pleased that her sister laughed. She was far enough along in her recovery that she was able to appreciate jokes about her alcoholism.

"So how's it been with Jonah?" Katie asked between sips of her iced tea."Is he doing better?"

Jonah had been having a tough time adjusting to having his mother reappear. Katie knew that Anne felt really badly about it. On top of all that, Jason had moved his new girlfriend into the condo he'd shared with Anne, which was definitely an adjustment for their son.

"I think so. Seeing me regularly, in the same house, at the same time each week seems to help. Plus Aunt Angela's been amazing. I don't know what I'm going to do when her house-sitting gig runs out."

"You could always move in with mum and dad," Katie said, and the sisters both laughed. "Seriously, though, you're totally welcome to live with me. I'm all alone in that house, and until business picks up I could use the help paying my mortgage."

"How's it going, anyway?" Anne asked as the waiter delivered their large spinach pizza.

"Oh, fine." Katie sighed. "We're waiting to find out about this software company. If we land that, well, we'll be set. We'll be viable."

"That's great!" Anne raised her glass of lemonade in a toast. Just then, Katie's cell phone pinged.

"Just a sec," said Katie. "It might be from Melissa."

WE GOT IT!! said Melissa's text. WE GOT THE ENTIRE ACCOUNT!

"We got it," Katie said, staring at her phone. "We're ... viable."  She felt a wave of relief wash over her, relief and regret.

"I guess my toast worked, hey?" Anne said, cheerfully, and reached across the table to squeeze her sister's hand. "I'm so glad that things are going so well for you and me. You are happy, aren't you?"

"Yeah." Katie smiled at her sister. Anne was right. She was working, seeing her son, staying sober, and Katie had been around to help her transition. Katie was proud of that. And meanwhile, Katie was working at a mostly creative job, one that was just about to explode on the marketing world. So what if she wasn't painting much for herself any more? She would get around to her own work when the job settled down. And so what if she'd broken up with Eoin? He was great but he'd had to go back to Ireland. It just wouldn't have worked out in the long run. Katie clinked her glass against her sister's. "Hooray for us!"

That night Katie, Melissa, Erica and Mike ordered in Indian food and sat in Katie's house, celebrating the rise of their fledgling company. Paul came by, too, and over samosas and chicken vindaloo they tried to convince him to come work for them. "It'll be great! We'll have tons of work now," the cajoled him, and by the third bottle of wine he seemed like he might be willing to make the leap.

Katie sat surrounded by her friends and colleagues, her heart high and her face flushed. This is it, she said to herself, reaching for more rice. She wished she could tell Eoin about it, but she wasn't sure what he'd say.

He hadn't really understood why she didn't go with him. Not at first, anyway.

"Is this about work?" He'd asked. "Because I know I told you that commercial art is still art, Katie. I know I said that and I do believe it. But ... you've only just gotten started on your own path. Are you sure you want to give up your own work to make art for corporations?"

That had made her angry, mostly because she knew he was right. She'd stormed out of the apartment, yelling, "I have a chance to be a success, Eoin. Why would you deny me that?"

"This isn't the only way to succeed, Kate!" He'd called after her. "Please don't just take the easy way out! Don't forget yourself in all of this!" But she was already down the stairs, his voice fading as she ran.

Later, when she'd calmed down, she'd come back to his place, and he'd opened the door and put his arms around her, saying nothing. "It's not just the work, Eoin. It's not the art. It's Anne. She's only just back on her feet. She needs me here. She needs support while she goes through the custody and everything."

"Then come and meet me, come to me later," he'd asked, but she couldn't know when Anne would be better. She couldn't make Eoin wait. And so they'd ended it. Severed things. It had hurt, it had been awful, it had been hard, but there had been the business to set up and Anne's living arrangements to settle and the visitation and the courts and Jason and the divorce.....But now Anne was doing well, better than well, and the business was taking off, thanks in no small part to her creativity and innovation, and she was even going to hire someone to waterproof the basement, everything was terrific, everything was amazing.

But later, when the celebration was over and Melissa and the rest of them had left, slipped out with leftovers to catch the subway home, Katie headed off to bed, glancing quickly at her pile of art supplies, untouched for months, promising herself, as she always did, "I'll get to that soon. This weekend. I swear it."

The next morning she got to work only a few minutes late, carrying breakfast muffins and lattes for everyone. "In honour of our success!" she called out, and Melissa laugh/sighed.

"If we keep landing deals like this we're all going to gain 10 pounds what with all the celebratory eating that we're doing!"

"At least we'll be able to afford new clothes," Erica said, reaching for her muffin.

Around midmorning Katie decided to take a break from work and checked Facebook. Not really to stalk Eoin, but there he was, anyway.

Hey! his message said. Anne told me the good news about the software company. Congratulations. It looks like things are going really well for you and Melissa. How are you, anyway? I have to admit I really miss you.

Katie felt her heart lurch, drop. "Katie? You okay?" Melissa was standing by her desk. "You look seriously pale."

"I'm um...Can we go talk in the hall?" The two friends hurried past Mark and Erica and the drip-catching buckets and huddled in the stairwell like kids in a suburban highschool.

"Okay, what's up?" Melissa asked.

"It's Eoin." Katie said, feeling even more like a highschool student. "He says he misses me."

"What? Just out of the blue?"

"Well, I guess Anne contacted him and told him about our success. I have no idea why. But she did and now he's sending me facebook messages congratulating us and then saying, I have to admit I really miss you."

"What a jerk!" Melissa scowled. "How could he manipulate you like that?"

"No, no, he's not being manipulative, honest." The idea of Eoin doing anything underhanded was almost laughable. "He's incapable of that. He's just ... being Eoin. Weird, honest Eoin. He misses me so he had to tell me." Katie's heart constricted and she felt a bit teary.

"Okay, so maybe that's what's going on." Melissa conceded, grudgingly. "So what will you do about it?"

"Do? What do you mean? What can I do?"

"Oh, I don't know. Write back? Tell him you miss him, too?" Melissa took her friend's hand. "Because it's obvious that you really do."

"I know." Katie crumpled and sat in a heap on the top step. "I do."

Melissa sat next to her. "You don't regret staying, do you?"

"No ... not really. I mean, I needed to be here for my sister and well, if I'd followed him I might never have found my own two feet."

"But are these the feet you want?" Melissa waved above them, to the door to their office. "Is advertising really where you want to be?"

"I don't know," Katie whispered, her face lowered to her lap. "Some things about it are. But sometimes I worry that this is just another form of running away from what I really want to do." She couldn't even look at Melissa, but hoped that she was sharing these feelings with Melissa The Friend, and not Melissa The Business Partner.

"Look." Melissa took her hand. "I think you need to get in touch with Eoin, first of all. And you need to think about what you really want. Things here are about to get mega-huge. You need to get out now if you're going to get out at all."

Katie squeezed Melissa's hand.

Back at her desk, Katie composed a million different versions of a reply, and settled on,

Hi Eoin, 

Yes, things here are going really well with the company, but I'm not sure I'm ready to go where the company might take me. I guess I've got some thinking to do! I hear you're off to New York to work on the city project there. Have fun, and thanks for getting in touch. I miss you, too. 


She then worked on the software company account, and allowed herself to check her Facebook messages every fifteen minutes. By 1:15, he'd written back.

You've got some things to think about. Well, well. You know where a good place to think is? New York! Come and meet me here. You can go to galleries and out to restaurants and shows and you can spend the days in Central Park and the lobbies of fancy hotels and you can figure out what to do with your life. You could even stay with me -- no pressure. I can get us a double room, just friends. But maybe a friend is what you need?

"Melissa!" Katie hissed across the office, and within seconds the two of them were once again hiding in the stairwell, pouring over the message, which Katie had opened on her phone.

"So what are you going to do?" Melissa asked.

"I don't know. What do you think he means by friends? Does he mean friends, or is he saying friends because he thinks I want him to say friends?"

"Do you want him to say friends?"

"Maybe? No? I don't know. I don't know!" Katie stared hard at the message. Who knew the word "friends" could cause this kind of stress!

"I hate to say this, but I think you're going to have to go to New York." Melissa winked at Katie. "I think this one might require a face-to-face meeting."

Three days later it was Anne who drove Katie to the airport in their parents' car. "You're sure this isn't a mistake?" Katie had been asking repeatedly since she decided to go on the trip.

"Of course no. A mistake would have been ignoring it. By going you're opening yourself up the possibility that something -- anything -- might happen. This is an adventure, not a mistake!"

After she'd gotten the message from Eoin, Katie had called Anne who'd confessed that she had gotten in touch with Eoin on her little sister's behalf. "You were so happy when you were with him. And if I've learned anything it's that happiness is rare and important. I want you to be happy, Katie. I think he's good for you. And I know you gave him up because of me. But I'm fine now. So call him."

Katie had hung up with her sister, and she had shakily phoned Eoin and told him that she wanted to see him, that she was looking forward to the trip. He'd sounded excited, and he'd promised that he'd give her all the space she needed, but he had some good ideas for where she could go for inspiration, and some friends he thought she should meet. He said he'd meet her at the hotel when she arrived. He told her to bring her sketchbook, and some slides of her work. "Your work-work, not your job-work," he'd stressed, and she'd felt so happy when he'd said that. "Not that your advertising stuff isn't awesome, because it is. But I want this to be all about you, Katie. Not about anything else." She wanted that, too.

Melissa had assured Katie that the business would still be there while she was away. She'd left her preliminary ideas and plans for the software firm with Mike, and they'd hired on Paul to pick up the slack while she was gone. "And if you want to be a freelancer, or work part time, or whatever when you get back, we can do that, too. Okay? I just want you to be happy," Melissa had said during one of their many heart-to-hearts in the stairwell.

And that morning, over breakfast, Melissa had told her to come back to Toronto soon, because she had finally booked a gallery space for Katie to display her work. "So you have to come back, because you have a showing in six months."

Katie had hugged her friend tight, and Melissa had hugged back.

"It's not one hundred percent altruistic of me, Katie. If the show's a hit it'll be good for the company," Melissa reminded her, and the two of them had laughed.

So now Katie and Anne were on their way to the airport, and Anne and Angela were going to housesit while she was away. Katie had a one-way ticket to New York in her hand. She didn't know when she'd be back, and she didn't know where she was headed next. Katie felt a bit anxious and excited about an unknown, unplanned future.

Almost as though she were reading her sister's mind, Anne reached across the seat and took Katie's hand. "Whatever happens, though, you know it's going to be fantastic."

"Going to be?" Katie looked at Anne, and smiled. "I'd say it already is."

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chapter 47: In Which Katie Finds Even More Fame and Eoin Gets Devastating News

"This is Margaret Vogel," she heard instead. " I'm a producer for As It Happens, a national CBC radio show, and we're quite excited about the ad campaign you've come up with for the new line of boutique hotels in Toronto. We wonder if you'd be available for a radio interview? Tomorrow evening, around 8?"

Katie stood in her living room, her pants unbuttoned, shivering in her bra. She didn't say anything, just stared at Eoin, who was fully dressed again, smiling patiently from the couch.

"Katie?" Margaret said. "Are you there?"

"Just thinking," Katie said. She jammed her hand over the mouthpiece. "They want me on As It Happens!" Katie hissed to Eoin. "Tomorrow night!"

"That's great!" he whispered back. "Say you'll do it!"

"I can't." Katie's heart fell. "It's your art opening. It's at the exact same time as the opening."

"Just go and do it anyway," Eoin said. "It's really important. You can come by the gallery afterwards."

"Katie? Are you there?" Margaret Vogel asked, somewhat impatiently.

"Oh, right. Sorry," Katie apologized. "Does it have to be tomorrow night? It's just that I have plans."

"Well, this is live national radio. We kind of need to do it tomorrow, while the story's hot."

"I see." Katie bit her lip, and looked at her gorgeous, patient boyfriend. He'd been through so much with her lately, what with her job and her sister and Bobby and her friends...He needed her help, didn't he? "It's just my plans are very important. It's my boyfriend's art opening, and I would really like to be there. But don't get me wrong, the interview is important to me, too. Is there anyway we can do the interview earlier in the day?"

Eoin rolled his eyes at her.

"So your boyfriend is an artist, too?" Margaret Vogel sounded intrigued. "What's his project all about?"

Katie explained a bit about his art project, trying not to be jealous that Eoin was hijacking her moment.

"Katie, I have an idea -- could we come and interview you at the art opening?"

"Sure!" Katie exclaimed, hoping that Eoin wouldn't mind if she hijacked his moment.  She glanced at him, still sitting, smiling, on the couch. She was pretty sure he'd be okay with it; he seemed okay with sharing.

And he was okay with sharing, but not necessarily good with nerves. Eoin had spent the whole day at the gallery, prepping the work and agonizing over the technology, the programs, even the snacks. Of which there were none.

"What do you mean you didn't get a caterer?" Melissa crossed her arms across her chest and frowned. She'd shown up early to help, and found Katie and Eoin testing all the ipads against the big map of Toronto. They couldn't get the smaller ipod touches to work quite as well, and Eoin was spending a lot of time biting his lip and swearing in his fun Irish accent, which made his swear words that much cuter.

"I didn't know. I didn't think about it," Eoin said. "Feck!"

"How could you not know?" Melissa asked. "You've been a professional artist for years!" Katie made shut up  motions with her hands. Eoin had been dealing with enough stuff, it was no wonder this had slipped his mind.

"It's fine. We'll go get some stuff now," Katie said, grabbing her jacket and giving Eoin a quick kiss. "What do you want?"

"Boxed wine and cheese cubes seems the standard art opening fair," Eoin said while tugging on some wires, and Katie wasn't sure if he was kidding.

"We'll be back soon," she said, and, grabbing Melissa's hand, they were off.

"So how's it going?" Melissa asked as they hurried down the cracker aisle of Whole Foods.

"What do you mean? With Eoin, with work, what?"

"With everything," Melissa said. "I feel like I haven't seen you in forever," she said, pulling a package of gourmet rice crackers into their basket.

"Everything's good. Great,  I guess. Anne's coming tonight, and I've got that interview with the CBC. It's all nearly perfect."


"Well, I am a bit jealous of Eoin's art show. I mean, I know I have the ad campaign, but I still wish I were making art for myself."

"That'll come," Melissa said, steering them towards the fancy cheeses. "Someday."

Someday. It was hopeful, but was hopeful enough?

By the time the food, wine, and cute napkins were laid out, (along with a few bowls of Hawkins' Cheezies -- Katie couldn't resist), Eoin had the art installation working perfectly, and people were beginning to trickle in. Anne arrived, looking clean, sober, and strong. She was on the arm of Aunt Angela, with whom, it turned out, Anne was now living.

"Angela's got me a job working at a dog grooming place near the place she's house-sitting. It's perfect," Anne said, smiling. She glanced over at the art installation. "I know I'm in that map somewhere, I know there's a video of me. But it's not me anymore, you know? It's not the person I want to be anymore." Anne had gotten herself a lawyer, she had gotten a job. "That woman," Anne said, pointing at the installation, "deserved to lose custody of her son. But this woman," she pressed her hand against her heart, "deserves to keep him."

Katie held her sister close, and only let go when Melissa tapped her on the shoulder. "Katie? Margaret Vogel from the CBC is here..."

The interview was quick. Katie hoped that she was funny, insightful and charming (Margaret Vogel assured her that she was) and that she put the ad agency and Rebecca's company in a good light. Luckily the questions were mostly about her inspiration, and then Katie got into talking about her You Were Going To Be Fantastic project -- though she didn't mention her sister, she pretended it was a message to the world-at-large -- and that kept the interview off of the commercial side of her work.

"I have to say, Katie, it seems as though you are already pretty fantastic," Margaret Vogel said, concluding the interview, and Rebecca, appearing at Katie's side, murmured, "we couldn't agree more."

"Katie, I need to talk to you," Rebecca said, once the CBC people had left to enjoy the medium-priced wine (Melissa refused to go with boxed. "I don't care if it is 'pretty good' these days. We won't do it," she declared.)

"What is it?" Katie felt a familiar chill. What had she done wrong now?

"I have a few business associate friends who love what you've done for my company. They're really interested in working with you." Rebecca said.

"Really?" She waved frantically at Melissa, who hurried over.

"Yes," Rebecca said. "In fact, my colleagues would probably bring you both enough work that you could set up your own firm."

Katie and Melissa glanced at one another. Imagine!

Once the last few stragglers were home, the last cubes of cheese consumed and the dregs of wine drunk, Eoin and Katie walked the 6 blocks to Eoin's apartment. The show had been a success, Katie and Melissa were going to open their own firm, Anne was back in the land of the living...Everything was perfect.

Eoin pushed open his front door, shoving aside a pile of mail that had accumulated on the floor. "What is all of this?" Katie bent down to pick it up.

"Just throw it on the kitchen table. I'll look at it later,"  Eoin yawned. "Let's get to bed."

Katie put the mail down on the ever-growing pile of envelopes that were choking the table. "How long since you opened any of these?" she asked.

"I don't know."

"There might be important stuff in here," Katie said, sifting through it.

"Whatever. I'll look at it later."

"Eoin," she said. "I think you need to look at it now." She held up an envelope that was on the bottom of the pile. It had a red URGENT on the front. "It's from immigration. I think this is serious."

Eoin came forward and ripped it open, and his normally jovial face turned pale and frightened.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Katie felt her stomach go cold.

"I'm being deported," Eoin said, his voice flat. "They're sending me back to Ireland."

You Decide!

Katie goes with Eoin to Ireland so she can work on her career as an artist.


Eoin goes back to Ireland and Katie remains in Toronto so she can start her advertising agency with Melissa.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chapter 46: In Which Katie Finds Herself On The Cusp Of Fame

"So!" Eoin leaned back and lay with his back against the roof, looking up at the sky. "Who's up for breakfast?"

"Me!" Rebecca crunched on the last of the Smarties. "I could really use some pancakes. On our way we could check on the fliers, make sure the posters got up in key spots."

"I don't know," Katie yawned again. It seemed wrong to go against the wishes of her client, but she was so tired her body was shaking. "I wouldn't mind getting to bed. After all, I have to work tomorrow. I mean, today."
"Bed?" Rebecca wrinkled up her cute, pug nose. "That's no fair. You two have one another and I'm just a lonely single lady....." she slapped Katie on the thigh. "Breakfast it is!"

Katie sighed and gave Eoin a baleful look, but he just shrugged. "Don't look at me. I'm the one who suggested it."

"Don't worry, hon. I'll call in sick for ya," Rebecca told Katie. "I won't make someone with your genius work for 24 hours straight."

The three of them headed over to the Vesta Lunch, a 24 hour diner where old bearded men and hungover (and, to be fair, some still-drunk) youth sat hunched over plates of bacon and eggs along a narrow counter. The three of them slid onto stools and while Rebecca and Eoin ordered them all pancakes and coffee, Katie called Melissa.

"How's it going?" Katie asked. "We drove to the Vesta and saw some of your posters along Bathurst. This is so exciting!"

"I know," Melissa yawned. "You guys went for breakfast? Erica and I called it quits a couple of hours ago."

"Do you know what Paul and Mike are up to?"

"Last I heard they'd decided to put the little hotels around the CN Tower. And I think they went to some after-hours clubs along Church Street to put up the fliers."

"So they went dancing on the job?" Katie laughed.

"I think it was just a detour," Melissa said. "But they called me a few minutes ago to say they'd distributed everything, so I think they did a good job."

"I hope so." Katie glanced toward Rebecca and Eoin. "I'm actually pretty nervous. What if this fails?"

"It's a brilliant campaign, Katie," Melissa reassured her friend.

"Is it? I really hope it works."

"It will," Melissa said, then yawned again. "Listen, I have to go. I've got a meeting at 10 this morning and I need a few hours of sleep."

"Okay. Thanks so much for everything," Katie said.

"Sure, sure. Just get me a drink or something next week."

"Of course," Katie promised, and went back to Eoin and Rebecca as the pancakes appeared.

They were about half-way through their meals when the waitress appeared. "Do you guys mind if i put on the television? It's 6:30 and I'd like to catch the news."

"Sure!" Eoin said enthusiastically. He turned to Rebecca. "I don't have a television so this is a real treat."

"Some people are easily pleased," Rebecca raised an eyebrow.

The television came to life and a chipper young newswoman in a red jacket was standing in front of the CN Tower, holding something in the palm of her hand. "So the question on everyone's lips is, who is responsible for these little miniature buildings that have blanketed our city?"

Eoin gripped Katie's arm. "Those are yours! Your hotels!"

"So there is no hint about where they came from?" An anchorman asked the outdoor reporter from his comfortable, indoor set.

"Not that we can see," the newswoman said cheerfully.

"Turn it over," moaned Katie quietly. "Why won't she turn it over?"

The camera pulled back and showed dozens of little hotels scattered around the walkway leading up to the CN Tower.

"Well, thanks for this interesting story, Jackie." The anchorman said as the image cut out and focused on him in his studio. "Toronto, an artist seems to be on the loose! Keep your eyes open this morning as you head out for work. Someone has put little tiny houses all over our fair city!"

Little tiny houses? An artist on the loose? Katie's guts went all icy and she glanced at Rebecca. How would she react?

Luckily, Rebecca was smiling widely. "This is amazing! We did it!"

"But they don't know what the hotels are for...." Katie tried, tentatively.

"Oh, that's okay," Eoin said. "You wouldn't want them to know right away, anyway. This builds up the mystery."

"Check it out!" Rebecca held up her phone; it was on a news site. "People are talking about the spray paint already!"

Over the next few hours Katie forgot sleep entirely. She and Eoin went back to her house where they watched the local news and followed news sites, Twitter (#guerillahotel), and Facebook. By noon even the Huffington Post had an article! People were putting the posters, the fliers, the hotels and the graffiti together, and  the response was mostly positive, although one or two Twits seemed irritated when they discovered it was an ad campaign.

This isn't real art it's selling out #guerillahotel #lies, complained @hiptastic. My heart broke when I learned it's all propaganda #guerillahotelsux, said @torontoartist.

"Did you see these?" Katie showed her computer to Eoin. "They hate me."

He rolled his eyes. "All art is propaganda. And if it makes an impact and makes people think, it's not selling out. Selling out would have been a boring commercial or something. What you did is true," Eoin pulled her in for a hug and she felt such relief. She'd never tell him, but she really, really wanted Eoin, a real, honest artist, to respect her.

"Thanks, Eoin." She settled herself against his chest and heard his heart beat; her own heart began to quicken. She breathed in his scent, closed her eyes. She didn't have to go to work. She was tired, of course, but sleep could wait....She reached up and began to kiss him, climbing into his lap, his hands reaching up under her shirt --- RING! RING!

"You should get that," he murmured, but Katie just kept kissing.

"It's probably a telemarketer," she said, tugging on his t-shirt.

"You're an artist now, Kate." He held her wrists and look at her, serious. "This could be important."

Reluctantly Katie got her phone. "Hello?"

"Katie Christensen?"

"Speaking," she said, ready to tell whoever it was that she wasn't interested in a new cable package.

"This is Margaret Vogel," she heard instead. " I'm a producer for As It Happens, a national CBC radio show, and we're quite excited about the ad campaign you've come up with for the new line of boutique hotels in Toronto. We wonder if you'd be available for a radio interview? Tomorrow evening, around 8?"

Katie stood in her living room, her pants unbuttoned, shivering in her bra. She didn't say anything, just stared at Eoin, who was fully dressed again, smiling patiently from the couch.

"Katie?" Margaret said. "Are you there?"

"Just thinking," Katie said. She jammed her hand over the mouthpiece. "They want me on As It Happens!" Katie hissed to Eoin. "Tomorrow night!"

"That's great!" he whispered back. "Say you'll do it!"

"I can't." Katie's heart fell. "It's your art opening. It's at the exact same time as the opening."

You Decide! 

Katie skips Eoin's art opening to do the radio interview.


Katie skips the radio interview to attend the art opening.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chapter 45: In Which Katie's Advertising Campaign is Revealed!

Once Aunt Angela, Jonah, and her mother had been tucked into their cars and sent on their way, Eoin and Katie sat quietly in the front seat of the pick-up. Eoin started the engine, and the truck rumbled loudly to life. "Where to, Kate?" he asked.

Just as Katie was about to suggest they go to Lick's for a burger and some entertainment by sullen, singing teenaged employees, her cell phone rang. "It's Melissa," she said, and Eoin killed the noisy engine.

"Hey Melissa. What's up?"

"Katie!" Melissa's voice was loud. "I'm so glad I found you." Her voice was loud, urgent. "Listen, can you get to the office straight away?"

"What? It's nearly 8 o'clock! What's happened? Is everything okay?" Katie's mind raced.  She had had such an emotional day already; she couldn't take much more. Maybe Melissa was just calling to tell her that Glass Tiger was doing a reunion tour? She held her breath and hoped for good news.

"Yes, everything is fine. Amazing, actually! Your add campaign is all ready to go, and Rebecca wants us to implement the guerrilla marketing tonight!"

"Tonight? Really?"

"Yes! Paul and Mike and Erica and I are all down here, ready to help. Hurry up! Where are you, anyway?"

"I'm ..." Katie glanced toward her sister's temporary home. Where was she? She was in another world, a place where her sister was found and sober, where her family was reuniting, where emotions and expectations ran high and fast. She was somewhere exhausting. She could definitely use a break, and if that break involved running around in the dark, art-bombing the city? It sounded perfect to Katie. "I'm on my way."

Twenty minutes later Eoin pulled his big, rambling truck into the metered parking outside her building, taking up two spots.  "So what's the plan?" he asked, but Katie just took his hand and pulled him inside, eager to wow him with her art.

They met the group in the conference room. Melissa had been right -- everyone was waiting there, including Rebecca, dressed in black pants and a tight black turtleneck sweater. She clapped her hands when she saw Katie. "Excellent!" she said. "They won't show me the work. They said you needed to be here for the unveiling."

On the centre of the table was a lumpy cloth. "It's all under there," Erica whispered to Katie. "We worked so hard this weekend to get it done."

"Why didn't you call me in to help?" Katie asked, but Erica just shrugged.

"Melissa said you were busy with family stuff, and couldn't be disturbed," said Erica, and Katie glanced at her friend, who just smiled at her, her eyes warm with understanding.

"What's under here?" Asked Eoin, his hands reaching to yank the cloth off the table, but Paul gave his arm a smack.

"Not yet!" Paul admonished, and Rebecca whined, "But when?"

"After Katie gives her speech!" Melissa said, and suddenly Katie felt all their eyes on her. "Katie needs to explain her vision."

"Well..." Katie cleared her throat. "The assignment was to promote a new line of hotels in Southern Ontario. Comfortable, boutique hotels for the discerning but perhaps less-than-affluent guest. People who like unique, whimsical places, with comfort and charm. We wanted to promote these with a unique, whimsical ad campaign, so we came up with a few tools to convey this message around the city. Erica?" Katie raised an eyebrow at her colleague, who yanked the cloth off the table. "You'll see here a variety of tools to promote your hotels, Rebecca." Katie held up a couple of posters that said, Where will you sleep tonight? Under the writing was a picture of a cute, comfortable bed with a cocktail on the side table and pair of slippers on the floor beside it. The poster also had a QR code that would lead people to the hotel chain's website. "We'll put these up all over -- bathroom stalls, clubs, lounges, libraries, restaurants, community centres, museums, art galleries...all kinds of places. These," Katie held up a stenciled image of the same bed, "will be spray-painted on the sides of buildings, telephone poles, bridges ... anywhere we can get away with it!" The group laughed, and Katie felt the glow of their adoration. Eoin was smiling at her with pride. She blushed and reached for a set of smaller fliers on stiff cardstock.

"We'll hand these out at concerts and at bars and on the street --" They were handbill versions of the poster, only when they were folded along the dotted lines that were faintly drawn on them, they turned into paper airplanes, the QR code and slippers on the wings -- "And these..." Katie held up the final part of the marketing plan, and her heart swelled with pride. "These will go anywhere and everywhere." She passed them around -- they were miniature versions of the hotel, about three inches by three inches, tiny little buildings made of wood and paper. On their undersides it said, Where will you sleep tonight? with the same QR code. "We'll of course follow this up with a regular campaign in a month's time, with the same poster that gives the hotel's name." She took a deep breath. "So this is what we've come up with."  She looked at Rebecca, whose eyes were sparkling with delight.

"Oh, this is better than anything I had in mind!" She held one of the mini hotels up to the light. "This is genius! I can't wait to get started."

"We haven't told you the best part of all of this, Katie." Melissa smiled at her friend. "Rebecca has some really great news."

"Oh, that's right," Rebecca said, putting the tiny hotel back on the table. "We decided that we're going to add something to our promotion, something on our website, so when people follow the QR code they'll get taken to our site and learn that for every bed that's booked in the next year in our new hotels, we'll donate a portion of our revenue to homeless shelters in the area." She grinned at Katie. "It was Melissa's idea. I hope you like it."

"I do," Katie said, nearly speechless. Where will you sleep tonight? It was perfect. She gave her friend a grateful smile.

"Well, I have to say this is all really impressive," Eoin tossed one of the paper airplanes across the room. "It puts my work to shame, it truly does." Katie rolled her eyes at him, but she didn't correct him. This was her night, after all.

The entire group gathered up their supplies and headed out. Each took a part of the city to blanket with posters, flyers, and tiny hotels. Only Katie and Eoin were going to do the spray-painting, though Melissa had secured them a permit so they didn't have to worry about the police.

"I'm coming with you two!" Rebecca declared, and the three of them crammed into Eoin's truck and they drove around the city, leaving pink-and-green images of the cozy, comfy bed-with-slippers on nearly every bare surface in downtown Toronto.

At 5am Eoin drove the three of them out to the waterfront and they sat on the hood of the truck, sharing a box of Smarties, their hands covered in paint. Rebecca had insisted on climbing under a particularly difficult-to-access bridge, and she was nursing a sprained ankle. "That was so much fun," she said. "Where should we go tonight?"

"Tonight?" Katie could barely keep her eyes open. "Oh, I think we might be done with the spray paint."

"But surely the rest of the team didn't get all the posters or tiny hotels put out," Rebecca tipped a handful of Smarties into her mouth. "We should do those next!"

"I think we'll hire a team of minimum-wage teenagers to do that for us," Katie yawned. "Either that or I need at least a few days to recover. That was one long night."

"So!" Eoin leaned back and lay with his back against the roof, looking up at the sky. "Who's up for breakfast?"

"Me!" Rebecca crunched on the last of the Smarties. "I could really use some pancakes. On our way we could check on the fliers, make sure the posters got up in key spots."

"I don't know," Katie yawned again. It seemed wrong to go against the wishes of her client, but she was so tired her body was shaking. "I wouldn't mind getting to bed. After all, I have to work tomorrow. I mean, today."

You Decide!

The trio goes for breakfast, on the way checking up on the postering teams


Eoin and Katie drop of Rebecca at a pancake place so they get go home and get some rest.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chapter 44: The Story Resumes!

As soon as Anne looked up and caught her staring, all the peacefulness was gone. The pain, the fear, the panic, it could all be seen in her eyes and once more Katie was left at a complete loss. She had absolutely no idea of how to make things better, how to make them easier.   
She could side-step it all and just introduce Eion. She was aware of how cowardly an escape it was, but she just didn’t know what else to say. Katie was about to start talking when they were surprised by a loud knock on the door.  
"Who's that?" Katie jumped, and Anne's eyes went wide. The knocking continued, loud and insistent. Could it be the police? Katie wondered.

"I don't know," Anne murmured, and sort of pushed Jonah away from her. She looked scared, like she was wondering about the police, too. Angela stood up with a fierce determination.

"I'll go see about this," Angela's full, batiked skirts swirled around her as made her way to the door, wielding a packet of Oreos like a weapon.

The front door swung open and they heard Angela's loud, deep voice. "Yes? Can I help you?" Then there was a thunk, like the sound of a body falling to the floor.

"Oh my god!" Katie pushed away from Eoin and ran to the front of the house. There she found her aunt towered over a young woman, who was sprawled across the hallway, moaning.

"Aunt Angela!" Katie hissed, coming forward.  The bag of Oreos hung limply at her aunt's side."What did you do?"

"Nothing!" Angela hissed back. "Honestly! I just opened the door and this ... person just tumbled inside and collapsed."

"Well, is she okay?" Katie bent down to look at the woman, whom she recognized as the squatter she'd met the first time she'd come to this house looking for Anne. "Becky?" Katie shook her gently. "Are you okay?"

Becky rolled her eyes back and stared at Katie through shaggy bangs. "Oh, hello," she slurred. "I forgot my key."

"We don't have locks, Becks." Anne was there, using that tired, patient tone she'd used on Katie many, many times in her role as Big Sister. Anne came forward and knelt beside her roommate. (Does one call them roommates when one shares an unheated, waterless squat? Katie wondered but suspected this was probably the wrong time to ask). "Come on. I'll get you upstairs."

"Can I help?" Katie asked as Anne hauled Becky to her feet and the two women began to stumble toward the stairs.

"It's okay," Anne said, smiling somewhat sadly. "We've done this before." The two of them disappeared into the darkness of the stairwell and Katie looked at her aunt, who was now munching on an Oreo.

"What do we do now?" Katie asked, just as Eoin, her mother, and Jonah traipsed into the hallway. Eoin was holding Jonah's little hand in his giant one and Katie felt her insides squeeze.

"What's going on?" Katie's mother demanded in a rather tight, tense voice. "Where's your sister?"

"She's just dealing with something. Her friend -- roommate, I guess? -- is unwell so she's helping her out."

"Unwell?" Her mother said, crossing her arms across her chest. "I should think drunk's more like it." She glanced at Jonah. "I think we should get him out of here. This is no place for a little boy."

"You're right," Katie said, somewhat reluctantly. She'd loved seeing her sister and her nephew reunite, but the rolling, drunk eyes and the desperate, dirty smell coming off of Becky as she lay there on the floor had reminded her about the reality of Anne's situation. "Just let them say goodbye."

"Good bye?" Her mother frowned. "Why? Anne's coming home with me."

"You can't just decide that for her, mum." Katie said, her voice rising. "She's an adult."

"Look, I'm just going to take Jonah outside for a bit," Eoin said, then he leaned down til he was eye-to-eye with Jonah. "Hey, kiddo. Want to see a big pick up truck? I'll let you pick the flaky rust off the doors."

Katie watched them go, and then it was just her, her mother, and her Aunt, who continued to consume Oreos.

"Look, we can't force Anne to do anything," Katie began, but then her sister came down the stairs. "How's Becky?" Katie asked her.

"She's okay," Anne sighed. "She's been having a really hard time with sobriety."

Their mother snorted, and Katie jabbed an elbow into her side. Anne said nothing -- she either hadn't noticed or was pretending she hadn't. Instead she looked around, and asked, "Where's Jonah?", panic on the edge of her words.

"He's outside with Eoin, but he can come back in to say good-bye," said Katie.

"There's no need for good-byes," their mother said. "Anne, go get your things and we'll get out of here right away."

"I'm not...." Anne glanced at Katie, who smiled at her older sister, offering support. "I'm not going anywhere, mum. Becky needs me."

"Becky!" Her mother scoffed. "Who's she? Your son needs you, Annie. You know what Jason's trying to do, you know that you only have a few weeks here to get yourself organized, get a job--"

"--I have a job," Anne cut in.

"Walking dogs isn't going to cut it in court, Anne. You should know that. You're a lawyer."

"I was. I was a lawyer," Anne's eyes were filling with frustrated, angry tears. "Listen, you guys need to go, okay? I really appreciate you coming, and bringing Jonah. And I am going to get out of here soon, okay? But I need to get Becky to a meeting, I need to help her. I can't leave her behind."

When they were younger Anne took Katie to the mall one afternoon, and they'd run into some of Anne's friends. Older girls, with puffed-up bangs and flower-patterned jeans, high-top sneakers and cigarettes. They'd wanted to hit the food court, and Katie had trailed along behind them, for nearly an entire afternoon, watching her sister laughing, tossing french fries at cute grade 8 boys and trying on outfits at the Le Chateau. But when Katie started getting tired, when she'd started trailing further and further behind, and when she balked and refused to go inside the La Senza to try on bras that wouldn't fit any of them yet, that's when Anne stopped being a fourteen-year-old mall rat and remembered to be a big sister. She'd taken her little sister's hand and together they'd walked to the Baskin-Robbins for ice cream cones, which they'd eaten on the way home.

"I'll call you, mum." Anne raked her hands through her hair, a sure sign she was getting stressed. "I'll call you tomorrow, and we can talk about the next steps. But tonight, right now, I need to be here."

Their mother looked like she wanted to say something, wanted to protest, but Aunt Angela pressed an Oreo cookie into her hand and said, "Come on. It's been a long afternoon." The older women both came forward and hugged Anne, and she hugged them back, a bit stiff, almost like she'd forgotten how.

And then it was just the sisters, Anne and Katie standing together in the hallway. Anne was holding the nearly-empty bag of cookies. "Do you want to say goodbye to Jonah? Eoin could bring him back inside." They looked out the window where Eoin and Jonah were playing tag on the sidewalk.

"No, he looks so happy. I don't want to confuse him by saying goodbye again. I'll see him, soon, Katie."

"I know." Katie hugged her sister. "You're sure you'll be okay? I mean, with won't..."

Anne shook her head. "No, I won't drink. At least, I'll try my very hardest not to. That's all I can promise."

"Of course." Katie didn't want to let her sister go, but she knew she had to get out before they started crying again.

"Listen, that Eoin guy seems really great," Anne said, and Katie smiled wide.

"I know! I wish you'd gotten to meet him properly."

"I will. Soon. That I can promise."

 Once Aunt Angela, Jonah, and her mother had been tucked into their cars and sent on their way, Eoin and Katie sat quietly in the front seat of the pick-up. Eoin started the engine, and the truck rumbled loudly to life. "Where to, Kate?" he asked.

Just as Katie was about to suggest they go to Lick's for a burger and some entertainment by sullen, singing teenaged employees, her cell phone rang. "It's Melissa," she said, and Eoin killed the noisy engine.

"Hey Melissa. What's up?"

"Katie!" Melissa's voice was loud. "I'm so glad I found you." Her voice was loud, urgent. "Listen, can you get to the office straight away?"

"What? It's nearly 8 o'clock! What's happened? Is everything okay?"

You Decide!

Melissa says, "Yes, everything is amazing! Your add campaign is all ready to go, and Rebecca wants us to implement the guerrilla marketing tonight!" 


Melissa says, "No, it's awful. The office building burnt down and the art department lost all your prototypes for Rebecca's guerrilla-marketing add campaign."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I swear I'm still here

I promise. I'm still here. I am still planning on finishing this story.

BUT. My basement, like Katie's, is a bit of a sieve, in that it leaks and has cracks and this spring it developed and Honest To Goodness waterfall. Snow is melting and finding its way indoors and it's kind of terrifying.

So my lovely boyfriend and I have been trying really, really hard to fix it up before the rains begin in April. So there is this window of time in which the work has to be done, and since we can't really afford to pay other people to do the work, we're doing it by ourselves. And since it's actually my house, not his, and I bought the house-with-terrible-basement, I can't really abandon the lovely boyfriend to do all the work on his own while I write. It just isn't fair.

What all this means is I have no time for myself, or Katie and Eoin.

But we aim to get most of the work done by the end of March, and then I'm totally recommitting to this project!!!

Love, Jenny