The young, naïve and optimistic Calista Caldwell is new to Capital City. She lands what seems like a dream job working for veteran City Councillor, Ralph Mastronzo. Follow her through her first grueling election year where she is tested to her absolute limits. She discovers a passion for working with the community and falls in love with the people who volunteer their time to make their corner of the world just a little bit brighter but the hours of work and stress take a toll on her personal life.
This novel is the first of a three part series inspired by my traumatic experience working in municipal politics for an Ottawa City Councillor in Canada. I worked for over five years in an abusive and hostile environment. In late 2020 my former boss was found to have committed “incomprehensible incidents of harassment” against staff through an Integrity Commissioner investigation. I can’t go into details about my experiences publicly as there is an currently an open OPP investigation where I am a witness regarding my former boss.
This series is a gift I am giving myself by taking back control of my story and laying it out in fantasy through writing these novels. I also hope to validate the experiences of other millennial women who have had to mitigate these “old boys” type of environments.
After reading my first book my hope is to give readers a peak behind the curtain of what happens behind the scenes in a municipal politicians office and a better understanding of the backwards thinking women have to endure. The intention I have set for this series is to empower women and illustrate how much we can overcome.
I discovered a love for writing when I was quite young but life got in the way and I stopped doing it for the most part, except to occasionally write in my personal journal. It was through writing my experiences to the Integrity Commissioner that I remembered just how cathartic writing can be and have since picked it up again as a mechanism to help heal me.
I wrote this novel in about ten months. I started with creating the world: the characters, wards, city hall and other locations that are familiar scenes throughout. Next I turned to the process of the storyline and the main character’s arch, in going through this process it is how I discovered that I wanted to write a series. I had identified natural endings in different points of her story that could allow for those sought after “cliffhangers” and hopefully compel readers to want to know more. Then I got deep into the weeds and started writing my chapter outlines, they were only one or two reminders of major conflicts or plot points that I wanted to cover in each chapter. Once that prep-work was done, I got to writing.
They say the hardest part about writing is sitting down in your seat. I can’t tell you how true that is. In order to keep me motivated on days that I wasn’t feeling inspired, I’d set deadlines for myself. I relied heavily on one of those old school weekly calendars to lay out my writing schedule and plan “writing shifts” for myself in the evening once my three girls were all in bed. There were days where the writing was unplanned but I was feeling inspired and I’d take advantage of those moments to let the magic flow from my finger tips until the well had run dry; sometimes that meant less sleep but as a mother you learn to work off a minimal amount anyway. I made the commitment to keep moving forward. I didn’t want to become ensnared in fine tuning and only went back to edit chapters when I had to add or change a detail because of the way the story was evolving.
When the first draft was completed I can’t express to you in words how utterly satisfying it felt and how proud I was of myself for accomplishing what seemed like an insurmountable task. Then came the editing. I can assure you, that first draft is vastly different than what was uploaded onto amazon kdp. I reviewed it in its entirety at lest four times,,, probably more. I then asked my retired English teacher father to review it for me and help edit the grammar. From feedback I’d received from him, it was a lot of the dialogue punctuation that he had to remedy (being dyslexic I tend to miss those tiny details.) After that, I hired a copy editor to complete a review of the book and it was the best money I had ever spent. If you are looking at self-publishing and you have the means, I highly recommend that you get one. I did a final review to proofread – I had to stay committed to not changing the story at all at this point – then I hit the upload button!
I’ve documented a lot of my writing and survivor journey on my blog: Harbinger Moon
I want to thank Authors’ Lounge for the opportunity to promote my book. It’s available on amazon or if you live in Ottawa, signed copies are available at Octopus Books in the Glebe.
Just finished reading “The Political Assistant: Election Year”, political fiction by @NancyObooks . I highly recommend it if you want to take a peek into the world of municipal politics and the familiar sting of patriarchal nonsense. Easy to devour in a sitting or two. pic.twitter.com/Cb4utwiEGh— Becky (@rikkuriffic) December 28, 2020
For more about my future projects, please visit my website nancyobrien.ca
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