You can’t judge a book by it’s cover

At the job I do to support my writing habit, I meet a lot of international students. They arrive on the shores of the Great White North with designer luggage in their hands and dreams in their eyes.

Okay, so they don’t all have designer luggage (but a lot of them do).

Anyway, they arrive with the hopes of mastering the English language and achieving their college-education-in-an-English-speaking-country goals. What they don’t arrive with, is the expectation that the reality may be far from the dream. They don’t expect to be stuck in a house with bedbugs, or to be locked out at midnight, or have 10-12 housemates. But that is the reality they experience. One student, who kept scratching her legs in class told me that she had barely slept because she would wake up with bites on her arms and legs from the bedbugs at the place she was staying. The landlords told her she was too sensetive. Another student, while trying to keep from falling asleep in class, told me that her landlord ran the washing machine every morning. And by every morning she meant 3am. With the laundry room right beside her bedroom, she was barely getting any sleep. Another student was only allowed one load of laundry a week and was bullied by her landlord.

It sucks to be taken advantage of when you are alone in another country. I should know, because it happened to me too while I was living overseas. Living quarters that don’t look like the pictures. Pay that was half of what was in your contract. Expectations that you should work even when you are so tired you can’t stand up straight. If you have lived abroad and not experienced anything like this, count yourself one of the lucky few.

I thought for a long time that this only happened to westerners in the East. But now I think it happens everywhere. I also used to think that most Asians who came to school in the West were on that Crazy-Rich-Asians life. But now I know that this is also not true. There are so many stereotypes we can hold about people without even realizing that we do hold them. Africans in North America must have money. Brazilians all love football. Men always cheat. Pretty people don’t have problems. I thought I was a free thinking person, but I realized recently that there were still some unproven beliefs that I was courting myself. I guess you are never too old to uncover your biases. And you’re also never too old to change them either. Anyone else got some weird assumptions?

…“Looks aren’t everything. Don’t be impressed with his looks and stature. I’ve already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” –  1 Samuel 16:7

Don’t stop believing

At your fingertipsI love travelling. The nervous anxiety of preparing for a trip; the picking out of the travel outfit; even the airport food. I love it. What I don’t love is booking accommodation. I don’t love the games these booking sites play with my emotions; the way they tease me with these reasonable prices, make me add them to my list of favorites, then turn around and jack up the prices the moment I am actually ready to book. Now I am out here juggling browsers, using incognito windows, creating alternate profiles, just so I can get to the truth. It feels like stalking an ex on social media. Which, of course, I would never ever do. Ever.

But yeah, I hate the booking part, which is why I have been procrastinating on booking  rooms for my next trip. It doesn’t help that I am on a shoe string budget either. After a week of checking and searching almost every day, I feel like my eyes are about to fall out.

Then today, after work, I checked again and suddenly all the prices at half a dozen of the links I saved had dropped; some of them slashed in half. Thank God! Because I and my pocket had been praying. But it reminded me of how sometimes we give up too easily. Sometimes that thing we are hoping, working and going for is right there, right beyond the tips of our fingers but we stop reaching too soon.

I’ve been reaching for some things for a while now. The opportunity to write commercially again; my dream job; the healing of some friendships; some Isaac-Rebecca style love. And sometimes, I feel like giving up. Sometimes I do give up momentarily. But this simple thing today reminded me to keep reaching, because like my underpriced hotel booking, what I am reaching for might be right beyond my fingertips. And if I reach out a little more, it might be mine.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie

We’ve only just begun

new thingsWhen I was a teenager (eons ago) I worked at the local power company one summer. My boss was this amazing super-cool girl boss who I totally wanted to be when I grew up. She taught me many insightful things about writing and the corporate world. Then I went back to the boring world of high school. Next summer, I came back to work for her and showed up to find my shero sporting a huge belly. She saw the shock on my face and laughed and said “We are doing new things.” I have loved that phrase ever since, and today I get to use it.

We’re doing new things over here!

And by we I really mean God. I’m just along for the ride. But it sure is exciting and not that different from making a baby. I guess it could be called, making a book baby. After several submissions to several publishers and several polite and sometimes detailed rejections, there is finally light at the end of the tunnel for my most recent Work In Progress. It is a story I started writing long ago therapeutically that I finally finished late last year. And while I haven’t gotten “the call” yet, I have gotten through the first round of selection. It is enough to make me hopeful. Something new may be coming around the corner, and when it does I will let you know more.

morgan-2In the meantime, if you haven’t seen any of my previous books, you can view the list here. And if you want to same one, check out Morgan’s story, on sale for $0.99 at Amazon.com.

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. – Isaiah 43:19, The Message

Thinking about you…

So, I have a crush on this guy. And it’s an Alicia-Keys-You-Don’t-Know-My-Name type of situation, except he does know my name and ain’t nobody singing. (If you don’t get the Alicia Keys reference, let Youtube be your friend.)

Anyway, the point is that I have this crush and I don’t know what to do about it, which is silly cause I’m a grown woman.(Any grown women out there got some advice for me?) I also don’t know what to do with my thoughts. I am a writer, friends. My brain never shuts off and there is an infinite supply of creativity in there. This, combined with my crush’s frequent appearance in my every day life is not a good combination. Why? Because thoughts have “no behavior” as Miss Paulette (one of the women who raised me) would say. Thoughts are like the 3-year-old shrieking and running up and down the aisles in Walmart. They don’t care about you. Meanwhile, I’m out here trying to chase them down and keep them under control. But just like that kid in Walmart, they’re having none of it.

I’ve really been on a mission to control my thoughts recently. Not just the ones about Mr Crush, but all of them. The ones about my fears about the future; the ones that have me worrying about my finances (remember the job thing?); the ones that have me assigning motives to my coworkers behavior. Thoughts. They can lead us down a dark road.

But they don’t have to. Focusing on things that are true, lovely, pure, worthy of respect has really helped me with this. Asking God to control them has also helped. So if my problem is your problem too, give it a try. You can also check out this great book by Crain Groeschel on Winning the War in Your Mind.

Okay, that’s all. I’m off to go NOT think about you know who. Good luck warriors!

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. – Philippians 4:8, The Message



Jobs, priorities and walking in water

This morning I quit my job.

Well, one of them. You see, as a Jamaican it is required that you hold multiple jobs at all times. If you don’t, they snatch your citizenship. No, I am just joking.

Except not really. Multiple jobs really is a thing.

But anyway, back to the story. This morning I quit my job. A job I actually didn’t hate but which was shredding years off my life.

Truth be told, I should have quit months ago. I was wrestling with the truth of it for weeks. But I hate losing an income stream, especially when I am not sure when or how it will be replaced. But there are things more important than money. (Though my student loan balance doesn’t seem to care about that.) Things like health – mental and physical; things like self-development, which I have been putting off for a long time; things like faith. And that last one was the one that really made the difference for me. Because if I say I trust God to take care of me, then I can’t be hesitating when he tells me to do something. I have to trust that once I take the first step, He will create the dry land for me to take the next one. (That’s a reference to a really cool story you can find here by the way).

So I took that faith step. I quit my job. God help me. I’ll let you know how it goes!

RB

City Girls Series

So I am continuing on with the City Girl series and am seven scenes away from finishing the first draft of Book 3.

This is Portia’s story. You remember her? Derek’s twin sister from Under My Skin? Yeah, she’s got the stage now and a lot is going on with her. I am excited about her story and can’t wait to finish it. Don’t ask me when it will happen. I don’t know. I am a totally indisciplined writer. I will write every day for five days and not write at all for ten. But it will get done before the end of the year by the grace of God.

The problem is I keep getting sidetracked. Example? While I was writing Portia’s story, Malcolm’s story kind of slipped into my head (if you remember who Malcolm is I applaud you – you’re the real MVP). Anyway, had to stop and scribble down a scene and save it for later. I am really loving this group of people though so I think Book 3 is not the last we will see of them. That’s exciting!

PS: If you did not hear about Book 2 check out the whole series here: www.rhondabowen.com/books

New Decade, New Release

Under Covers 2015 (sm)It’s my birthday month! Yes my birthday was earlier this month and just like I have done around every birthday for the past four years, this year I am releasing my fifth novel Under Covers. This one is more of a novella and a shorter story but it is packed with real life, real love and real faith which is all I am about when it comes to writing.

I invite you to meet my girl Naomi. She is about to get married to Jordan Lennox, the son of a former governor of New York and a successful businessman in his own right. And to top it off, he loves her like crazy. Sounds perfect right? Well it is, until Naomi faces a crises with her missing sister Camille. And when the search for her sister sends her back ‘home’ to the island of her birth, the real drama begins. Suddenly a lot of things that she had carefully packed away, things that she neglected to tell her husband-to-be are now coming to the surface. Will she be faithful to God and the man of her future or will she succumb to the security of her past? You got to read it to find out!

I really enjoyed writing this story. I actually finished it late last year then I lost the document and had to rewrite half of it. But I think all things happen for a reason and you have gotten the best version of Naomi’s story. I invite you to take the journey with her. Pick up Under Covers on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks or your favorite ebook retailer. And of course you can get the paperback on Amazon. And please let me know what you think!

Happy reading!

Real Talk: That awkward moment

awkward2This week has been the week of awkward conversations. It seems like every day this week I have had to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone important in my life. Sometimes about things that I needed their opinion on, other times on things that I had done that I needed to make right. On every occasion I spent the hours of the day prior in mental agony about the conversation that had not yet happened. In some cases I would lie awake the night before thinking about what might happen. Continue reading

Higher Thoughts: Dress Shopping

dressSome time ago I went shopping for a dress for a specific occasion. I had been thinking about this purchase for a couple days, and I had in mind exactly the dress I wanted, down to the cut, color and fabric. So you can imagine how frustrated I was after several afternoons of several hours of shopping did not produce the dress I was looking for. Then, when I had almost given up, I found the dress. It was the exact colour and design I wanted, in the exact fabric I imagined. I was over the moon – until I tried it on and it didn’t look at all how I thought it would. I was beyond disappointed.

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Dealing with the damages

brokennessI spend most of my days with children. Some days I am with children who are functional. Other days I am with children who function differently. Society has lots of labels for this second set, labels that are mostly polite ways for saying they are damaged. We live in a world where broken-ness is not tolerated. Instead it is something to be defined, analysed and fixed. This is fairly easy to do when you wear your damage at a surface level – when the way you walk or talk or behave is clearly different from the way everyone else does. But what about when your malfunction is not on the surface? What about what your broken-ness is so deep inside that no one can see it? Or so deeply woven into who you are that you don’t realize it is broken-ness until you try to untangle the reasons you behave the way you do?

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