Excerpt: Hold on please, Emily by Doris Siu

Meet Emily McGregor. Musician, songwriter, coffee addict, and promise keeper extraordinaire. Haunted by the death of her parents, Emily hides in the shadows until Max Miller suddenly pulls her into the light at her favourite coffee shop, Espresso Amore. What started off as a curiosity, flourishes into a beautiful friendship sealed between the strings of a guitar. Their love is tested when Emily is diagnosed with brain cancer. Despite her struggles, Emily becomes a beacon of hope as she opens up to find her voice through music. Their relationship is threatened when Max reveals a shocking secret as Emily fights for her life. Join Emily as she embarks on an emotional journey to discover how one song can change the way she dances in life.

Excerpt from Chapter 4, Page 47-49

It was almost time to walk back to GMC for the start of class. I finished scribbling some lyrics into my pocket-sized black Moleskine notebook and tucked it beneath Jimi before I cleared the table.

Writing was a form of therapy for me. I started songwriting once I picked up guitar in my earlier years. They kind of went hand in hand. Dad got me my very first Moleskine, but it wasn’t until after the accident that I started writing songs more frequently. I scribbled everything in my Moleskine. Song ideas. Poetry. Lyrics. Even doodles whenever I got writer’s block. Eventually, those scribbles became songs that I could hum to with a melody. And whenever I finished writing a song, I would randomly select a coloured piece of paper and copy out my lyrics onto the sheet. Then, I would fold a paper airplane with it and pin it to the bulletin board that hung in my room.

As I wrote more, I eventually ran out of space on my bulletin board. I began taping my paper airplanes to the walls of my bedroom. It became my Wall of Hope. One day, I would let my music soar through the sky and touch the hearts of random strangers. One day my voice would be heard. But not today. And probably not tomorrow.

It was a bit ironic that I wanted to be a musical star but feared performing in front of a large audience. Music was meant to be shared. But I was too scared even to show the world who I really was. I was too scared to find my voice.

There was something magical when words joined in tune with a melody. I felt that magical feeling whenever my mind met with paper. It was like the birth of something. Something beautiful.


I gathered my belongings and quickly bolted to the door. Suddenly, a sharp, throbbing pain on the left side of my head temporarily incapacitated me. I fell to the ground, crouched forward with my hands tightly cradling my head.

At that same moment, a mysterious well-dressed Amore patron entered and literally tripped over me. The contents of my backpack were scattered across the floor. My Moleskine flew to the opposite end of the shop. And Jimi fell out of my grasp, landing awkwardly by the front door.

“Woah! I’m not sure why you’ve decided to take a seat on the floor in the middle of the entryway, but Miss, you may not want to do this at a busy coffee shop,” said the mysterious man.

He chuckled as he got up and dusted his suit. Then, he offered his hand to help me up onto my feet. “You okay there? Sorry about that. I didn’t expect to run over anyone this morning,” he said apologetically.

He walked back to the doorway and picked up Jimi. He stared at Jimi wide-eyed, and his eyebrows tensed. It was almost like he saw a ghost or something. It was rather strange for someone to have such a reaction from the sight of a guitar. My guitar.

The man finally spoke. “Wow, Maestro. Gibson. It’s—”

I quickly snatched Jimi out of his hands and glared at the mysterious stranger. “I think you had enough time ogling my guitar. I never said you could touch it.”

“Oh, sorry. Umm, where did you get this guitar of yours? And you are Miss—”

“Late. I’m late!” I screamed.

I had no time for small talk. And I felt agitated about how fashionably late I was for my very first class. I was never one to be tardy. Without another word, I quickly stuffed everything sprawled on the floor into my bag and zoomed out the door. I ran so fast that several onlookers probably thought I was a madwoman on rollerblades fueled by mass hysteria.

Doris Siu is a bestselling Canadian author, editor, and songwriter based in Toronto with a passion for harnessing the beauty of words with music. Growing up, Doris was shackled to the library, quoting excerpts from her favourite books in her notebook and creating alternate endings for novels she had read. Her books give readers the opportunity to emotionally connect with words since they are accompanied by music that enhances your reading experience.

Doris’s latest release is a quotebook, Wise Up, Stand Up: 101 Words of Wisdom, which is accompanied by a 12-track instrumental album, Sonder, created in collaboration with 12 talented artists in the lofi, hip hop, and soul communities across the globe. She is also the author of Hold on please, Emily, which features her song lyrics and wordsmith abilities.

Sign up for Doris’s newsletter and read her blog at dorissiu.com.

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