Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Resolutions

  1. Write Rookie Reiner (yeah, I should think so... I'm contracted to do it now!)
  2. Increase writing income by 10-15%
  3. Learn to do my own taxes
  4. Reach the milestone of 300 published articles (I'm at about 210)
  5. Finish my ICEA coursework and attend the September convention.
  6. Finish two more Book Proposals (one horse book and one non-horse book)
  7. Set up new accounting system.
  8. Pay off two credit cards, the line of credit and cancel one card.
  9. Move. (as in... out of this house...)
  10. Write more about common things people care about and less about politics.

Out with the old..

It's been a tumultuous year. (Note to self: check for spelling of tumultuous)

Full of change in my home, in the organizations I volunteer with, in the industry I write about. Some changes have been good and some bad. Before I write my resolutions (or 'aspirations' as I've heard them called), I feel I must look over 2006 to see just what has gone right and what has gone wrong in my writing career.

1. Right: Signed with my agent.
2. Right: Worked on my proposal with my agent and sold my book to the publisher.
3. Right: Gave birth in the middle of doing #2.
4: Right: Increased my income by 10%, right on plan.

1. Wrong: Didn't take enough time to write That Editorial that got me in so much trouble, just a sentence or two to explain one point MAY have saved me some headache.
2. Wrong: Let myself be bothered by the pettiness of others.

So the rights are winning, two to one. This is ok. More good has come of 2006 than bad. I think that next year I'll try to be less opinionated. Not to avoid controversy, but because I really don't care as much about the politics in the industry anymore.

I want to focus on the people that love the industry, the new people coming in with their squeaky clean, brand new enthusiasm. The people who give back to the industry, the ones who love the horses and not just the sport.

On one of my lists someone made a very good comment: People involved in some sports are so passionate about the sport because it's all they have. It's like their religion.

That made a pile of sense. People who can become so nasty when involved in the politics are to be pitied - that they have lost the ability to see past the commandments of the political arena. Thou shalt not break bread with those you disagree with. Thou shalt not listen to any opinion other than those that support your own.

I vow not to be this person.

I learned this year that you can be unbiased, but if you appear to be biased then you are biased. People who perceive you as biased will always do so.

I have learned a great deal from the husband: Major Man. He's helped me see that sometimes people will dislike me just because I do my job. He's helped me to understand my own biases and helped me to overcome them.

It was a good year. Here's to a new year with all the love of last and less of the heartache.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Didn't he go to college?

The other day I caught my husband doing something very, very odd.

He was following the directions on the Kraft Mac & Cheese box. I mean... does ANYONE do that?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Tis the Season to be BUSY!

The other Sunday our pastor spoke about the song, Joy to the World. It begins "Joy to the World, the Lord has come.." and yet we often feel no joy at this time of year. It's stressful to be buying Christmas presents on a budget, to welcome family into the house so that all the stressors can be right on top of one another.

I'm trying very hard this year to be relaxed. To remain calm, to find the joy in my life. Some days are harder than others.

I've been reading a book called "Raising Your Spirited Child" and part of the book involves doing a little quiz on behalf of your child to determine his level of 'spiritedness'. M. scored quite high... but when it came to the parent's quiz... I scored even higher! Yes, I'm a spirited parent.

This apparently comes as no surprise to my family who laugh and say "Tree. Apple." while drawing a straight line in the air from head to toe.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

OKC here I come!

There is a huge event taking place in Oklahoma City at the end of the month and I'm headed down to cover it.

Never did I think I'd be doing so much travelling for writing. Toronto, Winnipeg, Portland and now Oklahoma City. My daughter comes with me and it a very good baby. An excellent travelling partner who ensures I am back to the hotel at bedtime.

The magazine is covering my hotel and giving me a press pass, while I'm responsible for my flight and rental car. All in all I'll probably come out a few hundred dollars ahead, but the experience of travelling to an event like this makes up for it.

Anyone know what the temperature is like there at this time of year? Someone said cold... but I'm not sure how that translates into Canadian.

New Blog - Generation NeXt Parenting

I've found a new blog to read, Tricia Goyer and Generation NeXt Parenting.

I feel like I've found a home... every post spoke to me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Poor National Free Press

Once again I've been spammed by the National Free Press. It's just not worth my time to tell him for the fifth... or is it sixth? ... time that I want to be removed from his database. He's the dumbest supposed smart person I've met.

Last time he told me I was the only one out of 20,000 (or some crazy number) people who responded negatively. Yeah... he had a total of 20 people registered on his forum. Now it's risen to a whole 35 people registered. Yeah... tens of people are excited about him.

Wooooo.

During our last spam conversation he said basically 'oh yeah, well I don't want your writing anyways'.

Yet with this spam he's asking me to sign up for his database.

As Winston said, "A modest little person, with much to be modest about."

Tired of Rejection?

My sometimes... (ok, one time) coffee date and writer of over 20-some books, the lovely, the wonderful Shirley Jump has some advice for you:

Hey, listen, if *I* could learn to write a book, ANYONE can. I was awful, but I had some nugget of something because like DJ, I had notes back from contests and the occasional rejection letter that said nice things (most were form letters, though). And yes, lots of the books out there ARE bad. I read books by NYT bestselling authors who are making ten times what I make and getting treated way better by their publishers than me and they can't write their way out of a paper bag.

Is it fair? Heck, no.

Do plumbers and carpenters and basketball players and teachers and dog poop cleaners have all the same complaints? Yeah, they do. You know what the difference is? We take it personally because we are artistes.

Oooh, the big creative minds.

These books are our babies, our creations... Yada-yada. Yawn.

I don't want to be mean, or insensitive, but folks, it's only personal to YOU. This is a business to everyone else in this industry (meaning the editors, the publishing house, the bookseller, the bookstore), except for the writer.

That means when they are rejecting the book, they are not rejecting you, for Pete's sake, they are rejecting a PRODUCT. Do you think that if Paul Newman sent in a proposal for a spinach-rutabaga-chocolate salad dressing, any store in their right mind would put in on shelves, even with his trademark blue eyes on the bottle? I sure hope not, because they wouldn't sell a single one.

They'd reject the product, not poor old Paul. It's a business.

Rejection is all about dollars and sense, plain and simple. And if you can change your attitude, and realize that you have to deliver a better PRODUCT than what they can buy from Jane Doe Debut Author, then you'll jump light years ahead :-)

And also realize that even after you sell, the golden gates don't open and the doves don't fly open, and not everything you write is gold. I still get rejections, I still have projects that don't sell. I still have PRODUCT that isn't RIGHT for the MARKET. It's a business and I'm not always there with the right money-maker :-) And hey, yeah, I get sad that some of my babies are too ugly for the store shelves, but then I go back and make prettier ones. Mix up the word DNA and create a new one. :-)


If you want to hear more wise words from Shirley, swing by her site or visit her online group.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lil' Blue Eyes

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My Son

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My Daughter

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Mother and Daughter

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Brother and Sister

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Brother and Sister

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I want to remember...

My son is growing so incredibly fast. Many days I am impatient and find myself wishing he were in grade one already or that he would stop being afraid of the shower at the swimming pool or that he'd realize that he needs to eat some supper within some reasonable time frame that is shorter than an hour.

And then I forget about when he was really small and I would rock him to sleep every night and say "I'd better rock him now because someday he won't let me." And that day is almost here. He'll let me hold him or rock him in the big chair, but only on certain days or after he's stubbed his toe or fallen down. One day he'll be too big, one day he really will be a big boy.

I want to remember how he used to say s'lookit instead of 'look at that'. How he says toot sometimes instead of toque. "Look, mom, her toot has a flower on it!"

I read a book tonight with a chapter on how to recognize your children's strenghts. I was worried because my son's might be "doing cool tricks on his skateboard game". But when I thought about it I realized somethings:

My son has amazing empathy. He can almost sense someone else's emotions. He knows if I'm frustrated by the sound of my breathing. One day when I was dating my (now) husband long distance we had just returned from dropping him off at the airport. I was in my room and my son was playing in the living room. I was allowing myself to have a little cry because I was sad to see Randy go.

I had my back to the door as I was sitting on my bed and did not notice my son slip in until he reached up to put his little hand on my shoulder and said "Do you miss Randy, mommy?" How can a three year old know this?

My son has a great vocabulary. He loves to learn new words and uses them, he'll hear any word and ask what it means. (Which means we have to be careful when he watches TV!) Words like consequences, accept, decline, incredible, arrest.... ("If we go too fast and the police catch us, will they unrest us, mommy?)

I hope and pray that I can recognize more of his strong suits. That I can accept and encourage them, even when they are things I know nothing about. I want my son to grow up knowing that his mom encouraged him to follow his heart. If he likes somethings I do, then that's great. Even better if I learn about what he wants to do.

For now, I want to spend less time worrying and wondering about what he will become and spend more time relishing in the unique little boy that he is. I want to remember every misspoken word and clever joke and every quiet little moment together.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Brass Ring – Or the Bottom Rung?

The Brass Ring – Or the Bottom Rung?
By Dee Power, copyright November 2006 (reprinted WITH PERMISSION)

24 million adults in the United States consider themselves creative writers but less than 5% have ever been published anywhere. 172,000 titles were released in 2005. It has been estimated that at any one time there are between 5 to 6 million manuscripts looking for a publishing home. Many writers are turning toward publish-on-demand (POD) houses like iUniverse, AuthorHouse and Publish America to get their books into readers’ hands. About 25,000 titles will be released by POD houses in 2006.

Does a publish-on-demand book, sometimes called vanity or subsidy publisher, help a previously unpublished writer get closer to the brass ring of a commercial publishing contract? Or does it bump them down a rung on their climb up the publishing ladder? Writers often comment that a publish-on-demand book will at least “get their name out there” or that a POD book will show that they are capable of writing a 50,000 to 100,000 word manuscript. But does a POD book really help get a writer commercially published?

That question was asked of nearly 60 successful literary agents in the Hill and Power 2006 Survey of Literary Agents. These agents’ collective opinion is that a publish-on-demand book seriously hurt an author’s chance at being commercially published. Agents were asked to rate their response from 1 - significantly hurt, to 5 - significantly helped.

The average rating was 2. 28% declared a POD title to be neutral (a rating of 3) but half of those specified that a POD title would only help if the sales reached a significant level, from 5,000 to 10,000 copies. Just a handful of publish-on-demand titles have reached that level of sales. The average number of copies sold for a POD title is around 100.

The book publishing industry has never been easy to break into and these same literary agents see the environment getting a bit more challenging in the next year or so for unpublished writers. Combine that with the significantly increased number of unsolicited submissions agents say they’re receiving and writers need every boost they can get toward agency representation and the ultimate goal of commercial publication.

Unfortunately, contrary to what quite a few writers think, that boost isn’t going to come from a publish-on-demand book.

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Dee Power is the author, with Brian Hill, of The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them, Kaplan Trade. Find out more about her at http://www.brianhillanddeepower.com/ If you would like to comment on these findings go to Dee’s Blog.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Gray's Dichotomy

Oh. Paperback Writer's post, Coming Soon on Book TV absolutely killed me tonight. Seriously.

SHOW DESCRIPTION:A publishing drama that focuses on Merryditz Gray, who is part of a group of authors hanging out at a Borders' cafe. The daughter of a famous (unnamed) writer, Merryditz struggles to maintain relationships with her fellow writers while at the same time competing with them.

How do you view rejection?

Here's an interesting quote from Barbara Kingsolver:

"This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'To the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'Not at this address.' Just keep looking for the right address."


I love that quote. It was passed around one of my writing groups today and I felt the need to share it with writers who may pass by this site.

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mama Ain't Happy

I'm not happy.

Call it a NaNoWriMo induced depression or the winter blues or even the baby blues but I'm just not happy.

I have an expensive hobby. Let's not bother with WHAT it is... but just know that spending $300 a month would be the minimum on the said hobby. Nevermind the time factor... at least three times a week for three hours at a time.

I haven't done it in several years. Financially I haven't made the sacrifice.

But I want to do it. I want so badly to be back up in the saddle. More importantly, I want to have goals. I want to have things to work towards.

Right now it seems that all I do is write. I write and write and write and then when I'm done. Oooh I allow myself to write some more! Yay! Yippee!

There is no carrot dangling anywhere on any stick.

Hobby - $300

But it replaces: mental health days, spa days, gym memberships, vacations...

How do you decide when it's ok to spend money on your hobby? When is a hobby more than a hobby?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Writing for Free Debate

Every once in a while the debate of 'writing for free' comes up.

I have swung from one side to the other several times, but recently I came up with my rules for writing for free.

I have over 200 published and paid articles.

I began my career by writing a couple of articles for free. There were three reasons I did this.

1. It was a non profit that I volunteered for anyway.
2. It wasn’t just ‘exposure’, but exposure to a select audience in my niche industry.
3. The magazine did not accept advertising, but rather sponsorship. They were not making a profit from the magazine, it was for their members. The sponsorship dollars that came in went to a multitude of programs for members (of which I was one) and in return the sponsors were given space in the magazine.

Once I had TWO articles published, I pursued paid publication. At no point have I accepted an assignment and worked for free when:

a) the magazine accepts advertising
b) they are NOT a non profit
c) the magazine or site allowed anyone to submit anything (or the editing was so poor that it appeared that way) just for the sake of expressing themselves.

Many smaller publications will try the “oh, but I’m not a for profit magazine because I don’t even pay myself.” That’s bunk. If they are accepting advertising that’s called income. Just because they haven’t managed to make their income result in more money than their expenses is no reason to write for them.

I am always astounded when smaller pubs make writers jump through hoops like signing contracts, multiple revisions, signing away of rights when there is no pay.

HAVING SAID THAT…

I’m not one of the writers who feels that the hobby writers (those who don’t care if they get paid, but write for the love of writing) are somehow hurting the professional writers by offering their writing for free and thereby devaluing writing in general. I’ve heard the argument that “well, there aren’t any hobby doctors are there?”

Actually, there are. There are plenty of doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers, therapists, etc… who give their expertise away for free or on a volunteer basis. You don’t see any doctor going around and saying “the reason I’m not being paid enough is because Dr. So and So is giving away his services.”

If a publication is reputable and professional, they WILL pay their writers SOMETHING. It’s up to you to place a specific value on your own writing. For example, I will not write for a print magazine that pays less than $100 per article. It is not worth my time when I can probably write the same article for over $250 for a larger, more reputable one.

I still volunteer with the same non profit that I wrote my first unpaid article for and I’m the Chair of the Communications Committee. I do a lot of writing for free, but this is where I choose to volunteer. Through volunteering in this organization I’ve made contacts and contracts to be paid for a variety of services. I’ve been contacted by people who want to pay me rather than me have to seek them out. This does not mean that if you volunteer to write for your local parenting magazine that it will work out to be the same…

Look for places that offer advertising space in exchange for writing articles. (Not pay per click, but actual, on paper advertising) Then put in a quick little ad about yourself and writing… maybe someone needs a church bulletin written every Saturday. Maybe someone wants to do an ezine for their company and needs some short articles, maybe ….

Recently a commentor said that I seemed to be too focused on making money with my writing. I am. It's about the only talent I have and it also happens to be my job. That means it's how I feed my kids. So yeah, I happen to love my job and make money at it. Why wouldn't I want to be focused on it?

Writing and making money allows me to stay home with my kids. It wasn't always that way, but it is now. And if I remain focused, it's the way it will always be.

Friday, November 03, 2006

New Feature!

Thank you to Terry Whalin of The Writing Life for creating a Writing Tip of the Day! You can see it over to the right, just scroll down a wee bit.

Terry wrote a wunderbar book called Book Proposals That $ell and I encourage you to buy it. (No, I don't get a cut, lol) I bought it and read it stem to stern. Then I applied it to my book proposal in progress.

I had sent my proposal to a couple of publishers and one agent, the results had been sad. No responses and form rejections.

After applying the 21 techniques he lists to my proposal I sent it out again. It was immediately accepted by my agent, Kate Epstein.

Head over to Terry's blog, or check out the transcript of his recent chat on book proposals at the web site for the Institute of Children's Literature.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Most Pitiful of All

Oh the saddness of being outside! Our poor dog sleeps inside at night, but goes outside to eat her breakfast. This is her at her most pitiful.  Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I wish I had insomnia

I do. I wish I had insomnia.

Oh there's some insomniac out there shaking his/her fist at the monitor and thinking I'm an idiot for even thinking this...

BUT.

Think about how much reading I could get done. These days, it seems like the only reading I can manage to accomplish is in the bath tub. And by the time the tub is full and I shut the water off, sometimes I can hear my daughter crying and hungry. So out comes the plug and out I climb. Luckily it's a deep tub that takes ten minutes to fill... so I get a ten minute read in!

The only thing that guarantees me a few minutes of reading is when I'm pumping milk... ten minutes of being hooked up to the pump, stuck in one spot.

I have books piled up, ready to be read. On the top of the list are some behaviour books to help my son adjust to life as a kindergartener. Who knew THAT would be so hard?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Link of the Day: Publishing Myths

Perusing the blog-o-sphere this morning, I came across a great post at one of my regular reads. Konrath demystifies the publishing industry, something I'm just learning about. It's a great read and I agree with many of his points.

Many writers, whether published or not, seem to believe that their job is simply to write and it's the publisher's job to do "everything else". I disagree. Konrath says it perfectly:
Once you're a writer, you become the CEO of your own business.

This means that I'm also responsible for the areas of my business such as advertising, promotions, marketing, customer satisfaction etc... When my book hits the shelves I will promote it, I will pay for ads if I need to, I will promote it over all other competitors. Because it's not up to the publisher to do everything. If I want my book to do well, then I need to put some elbow grease to work.

The better my book does, the better my company performs, the more my words are worth.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ack!

There's one main reason I pursued an agent first rather than a publisher... contract negotiations! Definitely the scariest part of the whole deal. Reviewing my contract gave me heart palpitations, I swear!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Announcement!

Woot! Woohoo! Wahoo! Whichever you'd prefer...

My agent is announcing it, so I'm gonna announce it:

I sold my first book! We, meaning my agent and me, sold it to Trafalgar Square.

Heather Cook's THE ROOKIE REINER, a guide to reining for everyone from the horse expert to the equine novice.

Yippeeeee!

Now I have to a) write the book and b) write the next proposal for the next book! No rest for us word whores!

Monday, October 02, 2006

The tricks

I've heard a lot of women - mothers especially - say that they have no time to write. It's understandable.

First there are the mothers that work outside the home and are raising families. They want to spend as much time with their kids as they can when they are home. They feel guilty when they take some time for themselves to sit and visit with their muse.

Then there are the mothers that work inside the home while raising families. They have kids pulling them in a variety of directions, extra laundry it seems, three meals to cook and clean up after, chores to complete. They too feel guilty if they stop to take time to write because their kids are right there, wanting their attention. Even the ones whose kids are in school find that they try get the household chores done during those times.

I have been in both camps.

Right now I work at home, I have a 5 year old son in kindergarten and a six week old daughter. Before having my daughter, I worked outside of the home.

Here are the tricks:
  1. Forget the muse. She is a slack-ass and never shows up for work. If you were her boss, which you are, you'd fire her butt and send her packin'. This doesn't mean that when she does show up you aren't going to ride her like you stole her... because she serves her purpose ... when she shows up. Writing mothers like us? We don't have time to wait on the muse. We write when our fingers are on the keyboard
  2. It's crap, admit it. When we do sit down and write, some of it is crap. We know it. We don't read back over it and tell ourselves what crappy writers we are, we know that we can always go back and revise. But if there's nothing there to work with, there's nothing to craft into a beautiful piece of writing. Now on the days Ms. Muse shows her face, things don't seem so crappy. Still, go back and revise later, she has her off days too.
  3. Set a timer. When you really think you don't have time, you make it. When the kids have fallen asleep, set a timer for 15 minutes. Put fingers on keyboard and write. When you are on your lunch break, set a timer and write. Then reward yourself with a nice Chai Latte.
  4. Give yourself a break. You are busy. Do not try to do it all. I know that' s silly advice from the woman who has hauled her six week old daughter on four flights already to make writing committments... and has two more flights this week alone... but really, don't beat yourself up for not doing it all. There's plenty more I think I could do, but I am not doing it because I know I am human. Pay attention to your stress signs and don't take on any more projects just because you don't have something to do for six minutes one tuesday morning and figure you can write a query for an article you have no time to write. Instead, write it down and pin it on your wall. Decide that when you are done a current project that you will give your attention to this one, waiting in the wings.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gotta getta plan...

Ok. I need to do it. I need to get a plan.

I've been keeping it under wraps for the last few weeks, but my non-fiction book is more than 'under consideration' by a publisher... we have the handshake. They made an offer, we countered (we, meaning me and the agent), they re-offered and we accepted. There were a few mini-hoops to jump through, but the contract is ready to be sent to my agent!

So now... the writing begins.

Oh, what? I have to write it now?

Yes. The writing. Of the book. That I've already sold.

Selling non-fiction books rocks. Sell it, then write it.

I had been waiting until the contract was finalized, but after speaking with my agent we agreed that now was the time to write it. Due date, so far, is April 1st.

The book will be 21 chapters + appendix. Most chapters are relatively the same size... with one or two shorter ones.

So, 26 weeks... 182 days.

This means I need to write a chapter a week. With time off for Christmas.

Scary? Yes. Exciting? YES!

It's my fault... I admit it.

I realized today that my son is far too addicted to video games. He's five.

I know, I know. I can hear you... "five is far too young to be playing video games... MY child doesn't play them..." I know.

I didn't introduce them to him. I didn't want him anywhere near them. Then my mom let him play some games... then his dad let him play during one of their visits. Then next thing you know, mom brought the game box over to our house... six months later I have a little addict.

I tried to limit him, I really did. But like any good drug I kept going back for more. I was suddenly getting a lot more work done during the day. I had an hour or (I know) two of time to work, time to write.

Yesterday his dad brought him home after a visit and brought the PS2 plus Tony Hawk game. "It was the only way I could get him to leave," he said.

I'll skip over the fact that my ex avoids disciplining our son at all costs. I can even understand it. if I only saw my son once a week (shudder) then I'd want to spoil him and skip the discipline too.

This morning I was intending to try out a new church, so I wanted to take my son with me to see the Sunday School. He had been playing the PS2 between breakfast and church. I gave him the countdown. "Ten more minutes, buddy!" then "Five more minutes, buddy!" But when it came time to shut it down... let's just say all heck broke loose.

Meltdown time.

He cried, he threw himself on the floor, he pouted. When we got to the church he would not do a thing. Wouldn't come into the sanctuary, wouldn't go near the Sunday School room. The only thing he'd do is pout and say "I want to play my gaaaaaames!"

So they ALL went away. Every box, every game.

When he realized that this had been done he Flipped Out. He needed a solid 10 minutes in his bed for him to calm down.

This is my fault. I was drawn into the ease of getting work done while he played away and turned his brain into mush. I ignored the pangs of guilt when I'd walk by him, all zoned out on the game. I tried to make it more interactive, I'd talk to him about the games and sporadically watch him play, but for the most part, I let him play.

Now that he's in Kindergarten he is back to getting the interaction and activity that he craves. When he was in day care there was never more than a half hour of game time between coming home and going to bed, what with all the other stuff we had to accomplish in under 3 hours.

I have decided that we're going back to that half hour schedule. He can play his games for half an hour a day. AND, he needs to earn that half an hour.

At first I was just going to get rid of every game. Period. But I know he does enjoy them, and I think that he should be allowed to play them here a little bit because he needs to learn to limit the time rather than just remove the 'addiction'.

I liken it to learning to eat properly. The key to knowing you can control your eating is having tup of super extra triple chocolate supreme in your freezer and only eating a small portion rather than the entire tub in a single sitting.

We live and learn.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Being a Writing Mother

Is being a writing mother THAT much different than being just a writer? I dunno... how many writers deal with leaking breastmilk during interviews... phone interviews, thank goodness. How many have promised their children all sorts of wonderful rewards if they will Just Be Quiet?

Now that there are two wee gobblers in my life, it seems like I've shifted down and grabbed a lower gear to power through some of the tough times. No longer can I cruise through my days, getting the writing done as it happens.

Nope. The effort now is focused. Centered. Driven.

I make a list every morning. I cross things off and celebrate. I drink more coffee. I take fewer breaks.

My breaks are enforced by my daughter - when she needs to eat, I take a break and nurse her. When she is not sleeping, I'm with her. When she is sleeping, I sit in front of my computer with my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. The List is at my left elbow.

My prayers now include asking the good Lord to make my interview subjects call me back during nap times.

But there's just no better life. How could I not be a writer or a mother. They're just what I am.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Moving. Again.

I shall be out of contact for a couple of days.

Moving sucks.

Moving in the RAIN sucks times two.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Parenting Prayer

I heard this prayer recently and it really resonated with me. Thought I'd share:

Dear Lord,

Thank you for this child that I call mine; not my possession but my sacred charge. Teach me patience and humility so that the best I now may flow in his being. Let me always remember, parental love is my natural instinct but my child's love must ever be deserved and earned; That for love I must give love, That for understanding I must give understanding, That for respect, I must give respect; That, as I was the giver of life, so must I be the giver always. Help me to share my child with life and not to clutch at him for my own sake. Give me courage to do my share to make this world a better place for all children and my own.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Check out Blue Bird Blogs!

The wonderful designer who created the beauty that is GoodApple is having a contest for a blog re-design. Click here!

She is very easy to work with and I swear she's an intuitive because it only took her one try to get a great design on this blog and my other blog.

Go! Enter!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

My Son - Mr. Sensitive

I was watching one of the 9/11 tribute videos today and bawling. (I tried to put the YouTube link up here and was having difficulties)

I'm a proponent of bawling. It's cleansing and nourishing all at once. As I mentioned in a previous post, sadness is surrender. And sometimes you have to just surrender yourself to the feelings you have in order to fully explore, develop, digest and move on with them.

My son was playing a game in the same room as me and he heard the sad sounding music. He apparently knows already that I'm a bawl-baby. Without looking up he said "Mommy, are you sad?"

He came over to me and looked at me with such deep concern in his eyes. He needed to understand why I was sad.

I explained that I was just watching a sad movie and he suggested that we find a funny one on the computer and watch that one and then I'd be happy again.

He wears his heart right there out on his sleeve, he's so transparent that I want to wrap him up in bubblewrap to keep him from being damaged.

Please, big world, be nice to my little boy while he's out there.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Shocking!

I have this friend. I'm going to call her.... 'Teri Readall' ... and she reads a lot... more than I can. And luckily we have similar reading styles so we can swap books back and forth.

She also happens to be my person*.

She revealed a shocking secret to me today. Shock.ing.

When she starts reading a book, she reads one or two chapters first... then she (brace yourself) reads the last chapter.

I know. I KNOW.

My response was along the lines of "What? Why? Why? What does that fulfill in you... what burning desire does that meet for you?"

Basically, she explained, she wants to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If the ending is good then she will excitedly devour the book to get to the end. (If it doesn't, then she'll still read it, but at not near the blistering pace.)

I just could NOT do this... not that my eyes don't sometimes wander ahead every once in a while... but, 'Teri Readall' has very rarely lead me wrong. And yet... this ONE thing, I just don't think I could do.

*Extra-special secret reference.

Link of the Day: Indexed

I love people who take a unique idea and run with it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The National (Writing For) Free Press

Several times this year (four) I've been spammed by The National Free Press. This is a web site that basically asks writers to write opinion pieces simply for the joy of doing so. I've asked all four times they've spammed me (their emails are disguised as invitations to write for them and as far as I'm concerned if you are asking me to donate my time for free, you are soliciting something from me... unrequested. That's spam) I've politely requested to be removed from their database.

This does not sit well with their publisher who feels the absolute burning desire to respond to my request for removal with absolute indignation that *I* a *writer* would dare to NOT support them.

Apparently he can feed his family on good intentions. I cannot.

He says out of "20,000 emails that have gone out across the country", I'm the "only one" to "have a problem with" the web site and the publication.

Right. I surfed over to their forum and found a whopping 37 posts. Yeah, the other 19,999 are so enthralled with the site that they are burning up the forum. Not to mention the obvious spelling mistakes, even on the front page of the site. Sad, sad, sad.

But the publisher feels he must let me know he's a Very Important Person with "many" of his publications "stored comfortably in the National Library of Canada". Ooooh... colour me impressed. And, he assures me, he has "connections".

Then he obviously used his incredible powers of research to Google me (snort) and didn't find ANY of my articles. Shall I tell him that I got married last year so 3/4 of my articles are in my previous name? Nah...

Buddy, look at life beyond the internet. My articles are actually published *in print*. He tried to find me on CBC's web site and couldn't... because he's was at the wrong web site.

He critiques my credentials - mentioning that I have no experience writing about free speech. Oh, I see... I have to have experience writing ABOUT free speech to be included on his site? Well, gee, I guess I fall short.

He throws in a little bit about how "no one has ever heard of me"... and fails to realize that I don't write so that people will "hear about me"... I write to make money. It's my job.

And he tipped his hand to being a very poor researcher. Here's a tip (for free!), if you are going to say you "know" something to be a fact... make sure you actually know it and aren't guessing.

Poor, poor, small-minded man.

The only thing that makes me mad is that I was almost late picking up the kindergartener. I've now wasted far too much time on The National (Writing For) Free Press.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Midwife

I adore this picture. This is my midwife Diane holding my daughter on our last home visit.

Her passion for her work is simply unparalleled.

We should all be doing the work we love. Posted by Picasa

My Helper - The Strong Willed Child

M. has become the best big brother. He constantly wants to hold E. or entertain her. While I check my email in the morning, he usually eats his breakfast and talks to his little sister.

Here they are last week having a little sibling bonding time.

His behaviour lately suggests that he's feeling the strain of no longer being the centre of attention. He's not acting out towards E. in any way... but he's acting out. Blatant disobedience and major limit testing. I may have to go back and re-read the book "Parenting the Strong Willed Child" because this boy has a will of steel.

Just like mama. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 04, 2006

I survived!

Have you ever stressed yourself out over something - an event or a committment - and then when it came time to deliver it was way less stressful and not nearly as hard as you'd imagined? That's what I did recently.

I'd been hired by CBC Country Canada to do the reining commentary for the World Equestrian Games. There was a host (Nancy) who I'd be sitting with and together we would provide the colour commentary for the reining runs at the Games. It wasn't live, but live to tape. In other words, we sat in a little room with headsets on and gave commentary on the runs.

See... here I am.

Well... I'd psyched myself up for this task. I was wringing my hands, I was losing sleep... I'd wake up in the middle of the night (my two-week old daughter helped with that) and fret about what I DIDN'T know about the sport. Would I flub up and say something was a 2 pt penalty when it was a 1 pt penalty? Would I forget to mention an important rule? Because the sport is so new on the international scene, I don't know what some of the competitors look like or much about them...

But I did my reseach and had rider bios for all 21 countries represented at the Games. I had copious amounts of notes. I had my rule book.

And I was SO overprepared.

The commentary was FUN! It was like sitting down and having a coffee with another horse person and talking horses.

BUT... and I'm kicking myself... I think I did make one rule-related mistake. I said something was against the rules and it turns out that it's not.

Here's the funny part... a trainer I worked for told me specifically that it was against the rules and I bet... I just BET that it was so I would not do it. It's not a major thing, it's a crutch that some riders use to pretend their horse is more broke than it actually is. He didn't want me doing it so he told me it was against the rules.

And I've thought this for almost 8 years now!

Oh well, hopefully I didn't state it as blatantly as I keep remembering myself doing.

I got very positive feedback from several people - most importantly the production crew.

But when I got home, I happened to open the wrong email first and I got some very negative feedback. I'm not disregarding it totally... but I so wanted to refute what they said. I wanted to ask if they realized that it's tough to stick your neck out and know that you aren't going to be perfect. That there are people out there that don't like you and will likely say bad things about you. But you do it anyway.

Funny, but several days before I left I stumbled across a quote that confounded me a little bit. I wasn't entirely sure if I understood it fully. Now I do:

"He who jumps into the void owes no explanation to those who stand and watch."

*Jean Luc Godard

Friday, August 25, 2006

The fascination...

I have had a bad day. So I placated myself by taking photos of my daughter. I'll try not to innundate you with all the pictures, I just wanted to share one.

Yesterday was a great day.

Tomorrow will be better.

This sustains me. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

BIC HOK

There's a great interview up at Trashonista with Joshilyn Jackson:

What tips would you give to any of our readers who want to become writers? Writers write, so BIC,HOK. It's the advice I give myself on lazy days when I want to go watch all 100 episodes of CRIMINAL INTENT I have Tivo'd. (Vincent Donofrio is PRETTY!) It's pronounced BICK-HOCK, and it stands for, "Butt in chair, hands on keyboard." I did NOT make that up, but am not sure who did. I heard it on a writer's list, and it's useful to me still.

Don't put ANY emotion into the publishing end. You have no control over that. Just send out your queries and forget them. Focus on the thing you can control...the work. How much craft you learn. Revising and improving and WRITING every day. Publishing is heartbreaking and exhausting and breaking in takes years. Do the time, but don't put your heart in it. Put your heart into the work, love the work so much that you would want to make it perfect whether you were pursuing publication or not. The work will fill you up if you let it.


There is much more HERE, including a dishy paragraph on Joshilyn's next book - The Girl Who Stopped Swimming.

One part excitement; one part terror

In eight days I will pack up my family - all four of us - and head half way across the country to do some contract commentary for Canada's national news network, the CBC. The World Equestrian Games are happening over in Germany and I am going to be in Toronto commenting on the reining classes.

My bio and head shot are up HERE.

Just seeing that bio up there makes totally excited and totally terrified! The thing is... I know what I need to say, I'm confident that I can do the commentary.

But...

My husband is going to be watching both the kids by himself! A five year old kid and a two week old baby!

These are the sorts of things that only us "writing mothers" have to worry about.

Will I be able to pump enough milk?

Will she even take a bottle?

Will the crew get upset with my requests for nursing/pumping breaks? (I checked that this was possible before I accepted the job - but you never know, it could be a problem when it comes time to actually do it...)

Will my five year old son behave?

Will the baby go back to nursing just fine after being given a bottle?

I'm a bit of a worrier. I know - deep down - that worrying will do me no good. What will be, will be. But this doesn't stop me from thinking about it in the middle of the night when I'm up nursing the babe.

Last night I had the BEST sleep ever. I went to bed early... I had to force myself to go to bed early since I'm usually an evening writer... but I laid down with the baby at 8:30 pm and I did not get out of that bed until almost 8:00 am! I just nursed her laying down and she seemed to take to that. It took me a while to get the hang of it with my son, and it's taken a couple of nights to get the new one to latch on, but I did it.

I feel 100x better today than I did yesterday. It's amazing what a little sleep will do.

Got yer nose!

Just testing out some new photo hosting software... Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Adjusting

Emily has been here for five days. As she is a second baby, the culture shock has not been as severe as with my son. I have an idea about what to expect and going about my day slightly sleep deprived is nothing very new.

And yet there's a different kind of change I'm noticing.

When I had my son, I wasn't really 'a writer'. Oh sure, I wrote, but I had no real deadlines. No one expected anything from me. I just wrote to write. Now I have editors, and agent and deadlines, deadlines, deadlines! And the last thing I want to do is write.

I want to lay on the couch with my son and daughter and discuss the softness of her hair. I want to smell her sweet breath and watch her as she sleeps. My son is the greatest help. He plays peek-a-boo with her and loves to stroke her hair. I allow myself the maxium amount of cuddle time with both of my children, more than my 'career' would like me to.

I just keep waiting for the pull of the keyboard and it's not happening.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Story of Emily Grace

Tuesday, August 15th I felt the first contraction. My last appointment with the midwives had found me almost 2 cm dilated and about 50% effaced. I’d since gotten some acupuncture to increase the natural oxytocin levels in my body, and started taking blue and black cohosh to help with effacement. I’d been having fairly strong Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks and was beginning to doubt that I would even remember what a ‘real’ contraction felt like. But on that Tuesday morning I realized that the characteristics of the contractions had changed. These were achy, involved my belly, abdomen and my back… they weren’t strong, but they were actual contractions.

I held off telling my husband for most of the day. He was likely tired of me describing the exact feeling of the Braxton Hicks contractions and discussing the differences between them and ‘real’ ones. Plus, I had to go to the mall to get my hair and make-up done for some head shots for the CBC Country Canada contract! (Priorities people!) I also dropped my son off at my mother's, “just in case”.

By 1 am on Wednesday morning, the contractions were 5-6 minutes apart. But they were not nearly strong enough. However they were gaining in strength and I woke my husband and phoned my midwife, Diane, around 4 am, knowing she would have an hours drive to get to me. She could tell that I was not close enough for her to speed, but that I was having contractions. When she arrived she assessed me, the baby and checked me again. I was still 2 cm but this time the cervix was very stretchy and almost 75% effaced. She declared me “in labour”… BUT in the very early stages. This was starting to become very familiar as I’d had contractions for two days like this with my son. The baby was still posterior. This meant one thing: back labour was in my future if I didn’t get her turned.

During the day on Wednesday we went to the mall to walk around and I tried to get a little bit of rest in the evening. My son stayed another night at my mother’s house.

By the time I was in the shower at 2 am on Thursday morning, I knew that it was getting close. When you need a hot shower to cope with the contractions… they are good contractions. I woke my husband again and called Diane. This time she could tell that they were more serious than the last contractions.

She arrived around 3 am and assessed me and the baby again. She checked me and declared me 5-6 cm and pretty much effaced, which was wonderful news! However, the baby was still posterior, as she’d been for the last couple of days. Diane wanted to map the baby’s head, meaning that she would feel for the lines on the baby’s head that say exactly which direction she’s facing… just as she began, I started to say “be careful, that’s how…” and before I could say “the water broke last time”… the water broke. Right on cue. And, just like my last birth, there was some meconium in the water. No biggie.

I laughed, but I knew that this indicated things were going to get tougher… last time I’d been over 9 cm when the water broke. This time I had 3 more cm to go. And now we’d determined definitively that she was posterior, so I was instructed to begin walking the stairs in my house. With each contraction I had to do a lunge over a couple of stairs. Not so much fun. But I managed to do it for half an hour, she seemed to make a quarter turn in there during that time because her back was now on my right side. I noticed a distinct change in the contractions – almost as though there was a baby’s head right on my cervix. Because of course there was – once that water broke, Emily lost her little cushion of water that held her up off of my cervix. I asked Diane if we could please go to the hospital (we’d planned a hospital birth, so this was in the plan) as the last time I entered the transition phase shortly after the water broke.

As my midwives have privileges at all the hospitals in town, we were able to choose the best room we could find. After calling to check availability, we chose a room at a hospital 20 minutes away that had a big bathtub. They were concerned because they only had one labour room left, and no post partum rooms. However I was to be a direct discharge, so I wasn’t going to need a post partum room – the post partum room would be my own room at home.

The drive in was not very comfortable. I think my one and only swear word may have been uttered in transit. I alternated between kneeling on all fours with my head wedged between my husband and his seat… and sitting back in the seat with the seat-heater on high.

We arrived around 5:30 am, I think, and the midwife had arrived before we did and started the tub for me. As soon as I was in it I felt much better. The walk from the truck to the room had felt like one contraction after another. The tub is amazing. I can’t say enough about the tub! It allows me to move from side to side whenever I need to – which would be much more difficult in a bed. And it helped to keep me focused on relaxing during the worst contractions.

It’s about here that I begin to lose track of what happened when. I know I laboured in the tub for a long time, taking time out to labour on the toilet for a bit, which was uncomfortable, but definitely beneficial in a ‘gravity enhancing’ way. My husband was wonderful throughout the labour. He massaged where and when I said, and stopped when I said. For the most part I just wanted him there. I just wanted to open my eyes and see him there.

My mother arrived with my son shortly after our arrival and it took a few minutes before my son would come in. But he came in and stood by the tub, not really wanting to look at me. You could tell that he was a little bit nervous, but he asked to sit on Randy’s lap and the midwife talked to him about how hard I was working to give birth to our baby. I tried to reassure him and he seemed comforted. We’d prepared for this part by watching some birth videos and discussing the noises of birth. Eventually he would follow my husband’s lead and would even rub my arm. But this part of labour soon became quite boring and he went out to sit with my mother and watch cartoons.

I have no recollection of time. It seemed I’d be in the tub until I was out and then on the toilet until I was back in the tub. I would turn on the water and fill it as high as I could. I could handle the contractions best if I had running water over my feet to distract me. Other helpful pain coping techniques were having my husband ‘compress’ my hand while I was having a contraction, or having him run his fingers down my arm towards him. Or I would tap or drum my fingers on the side of the tub. It took all the effort I had to relax during the contractions, I would allow my hands and arms to float. It’s an amazing amount of effort to just simply allow contractions to happen and not fight them, but I knew that’s what I needed to do. Every once in a while I’d remind myself that ‘that contraction was gone and it would never come back’.

Soon enough I felt like pushing. It’s odd to think back to my first birth and realize that someone had to check me to tell me when I was 10 cm dilated and when I’d be allowed to push. The midwives simply told me to go with my body. About every other contraction I’d get an urge to push and so I would. Around this time, Diane said she would call her back-up midwife, Kimberly, to assist. She could use a nurse but they tend to get a little more anxious when confronted with mec in the water.

Eventually I moved out onto the bed. Diane checked me and found that there was an anterior lip on the cervix so I got on my hands and knees and tried not to push. If I were to push against that lip, then it could swell. By allowing my body to just labour for a bit longer without pushing, I could thin that lip out. It was tough. Very tough. When your body wants to push… you just push. There isn’t much you can do about it.

Eventually I had to keep pushing. I pushed on my side with my leg on my midwife’s shoulder for a while and pushed on all fours. Two of the most effective ways for me were the birth/squat bar. With the assistance of Kimberly on my right and my husband on my left, they’d lift me up to the bar with each contraction, then I’d push and allow gravity to do its job. After the contraction I’d lay back down. Then repeat… it was absolutely exhausting! I began to drink apple juice rather than water because I was getting so tired. Earlier on someone had made a comment that this would go faster than the first time, but it didn’t seem to be working out that way. Thankfully my husband was quick on the draw with the juice. Between each contraction I had to just turn my head and the straw was right there for me to drink from. Just one sip every break.

The final position was with my legs up on the squat bar. I was not a fan of getting into this position because it felt like my hips were going to pop out. But despite my objections, Kimberly instructed my husband to lift my legs into the position. Strangely enough, once my legs were in that position, it felt better. But I was very conscious of the fact that I was saying “no, no, no, no” and my poor husband was being given a direct order from the midwife to move my leg. Thankfully she knew much better than I did that it was a temporary discomfort.

By this time, my son was right in on the action. He sat right next to Diane at the end of the table, watching his baby sister come into this world. During pushing I would open my eyes briefly and see him smiling in amazement at the sight. He would dance around and laugh because he could see her head. By this time I could reach down and feel her head and it helped bolster my wavering strength. Every once in a while he’d declare “it’s taking too loooong”. I had to agree.


I could also hear the midwives discussing the heart rate. She had been a strong 140 baby throughout the labour, never going below 130. Now we were getting some 70s during contractions and although this didn’t necessarily stress the midwives out, they did speak in hushed tones. I knew it wasn’t a great sign, but I also knew that we were so close to the end that we would have her out before things got serious. About this time they also noticed that the mild meconium had turned into moderate meconium. This prompted the decision to call the pediatric unit to come in and take care of the baby as soon as she was out. They arrived in their bright greeny-yellow scrubs and stood at the baby warmer awaiting her arrival.

Crowning was tough for one major reason. She came into this world sideways. I don’t know how good your anatomy lesson was, but having a sideways head means that the broadest part of the head is coming out perpendicular to the way it should have been. I had to hold off from pushing for several contractions to let the perineum stretch. Meanwhile, Diane was asking me when the last time was that I rode a horse. “A couple of years ago” I managed to squeak out. Having trained horses for years has given me something that perhaps not many people know about (until now) a tough perineum. She had been doing perineal massage for the last half hour coupled with very warm compresses (that feels better than you can imagine!) and now that we were crowning it was paying off. I had no tears despite the odd head presentation. The rest of her came out sunny-side up, meaning she’d flipped back to posterior some time ago. One hour and twenty-nine minutes of pushing. I had cut a whole half hour off of the birth of my son as I’d pushed for one hour and fifty-nine minutes with him.

She flopped out on my chest quickly and my mother swiftly declared her to be of the fairer sex. Which was fortuitous since mom had copped to buying lots of girl clothes already. We had planned for some bonding time before the cord was cut, but because the peds were there my midwife cut and clipped and she was lifted off of me. She wasn’t breathing very well, so they suctioned and worked on her for a good minute. Then she began the mewling … and kept that up for a good hour! Just softly complaining about her misshapen head and lengthy stay in the birth canal.

After she was presented back to me, we attempted some nursing with skin-to-skin contact. She wasn’t very interested, but tried a couple times. I expressed some yummy colostrum into her mouth and figured we’d work on it later. Meanwhile both Kimberly and Diane were cleaning things up and getting me some food and juice. My husband stood at my side and fed me toast and milk and juice while I held our baby.

After I had a shower and a bath and my husband dressed our daughter, we discussed names. We decided on Emily Grace and filled out the paperwork. My mom took my son back to our house after he’d greeted his sister.

She was born at 10:59 am on August 17th. We walked out of the hospital three hours later and headed home to be with my son and start our life as a new family.
The most touching part of this experience has been watching both my husband and my son become smitten with this little baby. My son wants to hold her ten times a day if he holds her once.
My husband, who shows very little emotion, is obviously intrigued by the softness of her hand and the sound of her breathing. The other day I overheard him on the phone with his best friend. "Dude," he said, "you and I may think that we've done some tough things in our lives, but you've never done anything as tough as give birth. I'm tellin' ya. She worked hard." It's nice to be appreciated.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Totally not writing related...

Am I the last to know about Woot? It's this web site that advertises one huge, massive deal every day. I've seen Digital Projectors, DigiCams, MP3 Players.... lots of STUFF at huge discounts. Just thought you should know!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Big Boy

To say that I never thought this day would come is a little bit overdramatic. To say that I couldn't imagine it arriving is closer to the truth.

My son is five. He's FIVE. Years. It's one of those milestones that seems so far away. Until it's not. And now I'm left trying to remember all those things we've said he could do over the last year "when he's five". (I believe the other milestones are 10, 13, 16 and 18... those are just unimaginable right now...)

For the first time, M got cash for his birthday from two different family members. Totally $30. He was sitting on my lap (what little lap I have left) when he opened the cards and I said "Oh! Look! What are you going to buy?"

I could hear my husband's eyes roll from ten feet away.

Apparently the correct response was "Oh! Look! Now we can open up a SAVINGS account."

I'm still learning.

I have to agree, a savings account is a much better option. We've decided that we will match every dollar that he saves... but the condition is that he must have approval for every dollar he takes out of the savings account. This will be reassessed when he's old enough to get a job and have a paycheck. (Hint: I'll be completely lost at that point because I have no idea how to parent a working kid who makes his own money...)

We are soon going to start him with an allowance. But we haven't figured out HOW to do it. We do know one thing... with an allowance comes regular chores. But we just need to figure out what chores are appropriate for a five year old. (Ideas?)

My son impresses me. He has become this considerate little child.. sorry... considerate big boy. There was only one other child at the birthday party (we usually have family get togethers and he's the only other kid) and they played so well together it was amazing! Not only did M let the younger child help open presents, he shared his toys with him afterwards. It was a little touch and go with the new Lightning McQueen car... that's the 'special' present... but he did share just about everything.

How did I go from being the parent of a child to the parent of a big boy is such a short time?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Recording Phone Calls

I've just started to record some phone calls to prevent misquoting my interview subjects. To be safe and follow the law no matter where I'm calling, I have chosen to just ask everyone up front if I can record them.

I don't know if it was my pregnancy brain or what, but it took me forEVER to figure out what doo-hickeys I needed for what and in what order I had to plug the aforementioned doo-hickeys in... it seemed far too complicated!

But I did it and here's my 'secret'...

Plenty of trips to “The Source” complete with two or three returns of products, new phones bought and returned… little doo-hickeys bought and returned and THEN a trip to the pawn shop to buy a proper digital recorder.

So here’s the deal.

I have a thingy that turns one phone jack into three. It’s not a two-line jack, this is important, it must make that one jack have three inputs on the same line… you could do it with a two-jack, but my fax is also plugged in there, so I went with three…

Then my phone is plugged into it. Just a regular phone… I chose one that has speaker phone or a headset option… I always talk on a headset because it’s better for my neck (old horse training injury, lol).

Then I bought this ‘micro telerecorder’ thingy. I liked it because it came with two sizes of ‘male parts’ (oh the jokes are endless….) so it might fit different recording devices if needed…

I plug the ‘micro telerecorder’ into one of the three jack spots, right next to the one my phone is plugged in to.

Then came the hard part… finding the recorder. I had a microcassette recorder AND an iRiver MP3 player… both record audio BUT here was the part that I didn’t get until a couple of trips to the Source… neither had a microphone jack. Both of them had an external mic, so there was no way to plug the ‘micro telerecorder’ in to record the audio coming from the phone line.

So I hunted around until I found this handy-dandy ‘digital voice recorder’ at a pawn shop. I was fortunate and some dummy left an hour of some interview on there… I now know more than I’d like to know about the management practices of the Saskatchewan Roughriders… someone in that office is a raving jerk… and swears like a sailor… but ANYWAYS….

So I plug one of the male ends of the ‘micro telerecorder’ into the digital voice recorder. And then that’s it.

When I want to record, I take the recorder out of it’s little cradle (because there’s lots of feedback on the recording if I leave it to record while on the cradle) and press record.

Apparently I can download the audio files to my computer as well, but I haven’t figured that part out yet. It has a female part of a USB port… and I have a USB cable that I can hook up to it… but I haven’t tried to download anything yet… perhaps I should try with Mr. Saskatchewan Roughriders and send it to them… hehe… I haven’t deleted that off the recorder yet.

Get over it! We all have days that suck!

And THAT is my favourite quote from THIS interview. Julia Buckley interviews Echelon CEO, Karen Syed.

Here's an excerpt:

JB: You have given me plenty of good advice. What’s your number one piece of advice for new authors who might sometimes feel like giving up?

KS: Get over it! We all have days that suck. You can't let them rule your life. True story: my first marriage was a bad one. Abusive husband, mostly emotionally and verbally, for most of our time together I believed I was worthless, that no one could possibly love me, and I would never amount to anything. I couldn't look in a mirror and not a day passed that I didn't consider dying. It sucked. My grandmother bought me my first computer so I could write. My husband tried repeatedly to destroy it and me. One night I decided he was right. I couldn't write, what was I thinking? So I gathered up all my disks, printouts, research notes, everything-- stuffed it all into garbage bags and set it out on the curb. I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. Next morning, I woke up, realized he was an idiot and that I wanted to live and I wanted to write. I got outside in time to see the garbage truck drive out of sight. Holy Crap! What had I done? I'd lost my stinking mind. That's what.

YOU KNOW WHAT YOU CAN DO and you are a big fat dodo head if you let anyone tell you otherwise. (Preschool flashback) NEVER let yourself be led astray by the insecurities of those who run you down and try to make you feel like less than you are. Something inside each of us determines what we can accomplish; it's called confidence… determination. Never rely on anyone except yourself. You are the ruler of your own kingdom and as a writer you have the supreme power to design that kingdom from the ground up. OWN IT!

It's a pretty awesome interview. Go. Read. Comment.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

And in other news

I've been chosen to be the guest commentator for CBC Country Canada's coverage of the reining competition at the World Equestrian Games!

At the end of this month I will fly out to Toronto - family in tow - to tape the commentary of the runs. I've been involved in this sport since I was a teenager, so I'm not worried so much about my 'general knowledge'. But the hard part is finding out about the teams and the individual competitors I don't know. This sport is now international and I need to research everyone that I can.

Can you believe that even Israel has a team competing? That's grit for ya'!

Perhaps this factors in (perhaps you say?) to why I want to pop this child out. I am not worried about making deadlines (four articles due this week) or travelling with the family to Toronto. I know I can do it.

I have to do it.

This is the thing about being a writing mother... life doesn't stop when a child is added to the mix. I wasn't even a paid writer before I had my son. All my writing efforts in the last five years have occurred with him at my breast, then my feet, and now with him interrupting me every 6.4 minutes to discuss the minutiae of his day.

It's not easy, but it's the way I like it.

I may have other news to announce later.

Alcoholic Bark

Do you want to taste the nastiness of the herbs I've been shooting back to make this baby pop out?

My midwife has given me the perscription of '20 drops of black cohosh' and '20 drops of blue cohosh'. Mix together and 'shoot them back'. May mix with juice.

May mix with juice? I should say so. This stuff is the epitiome of nastiness.

Take some grain alcohol.

Pour it on a tree.

Lick.

Yummmmmm.

But, between this and the accupuncture, maybe this bean won't be so overdue.

I may have explained this before, but I'll go again...

With my son there was a little date discrepancy. I said he was due at the beginning of the month but the ultrasound put him almost three weeks later than that. When he was born smack dab between the dates he popped out all dry and very obviously overdue. In fact the nurse exclaimed "oh! This one was overcooked!"

So I reveled in knowing that I. Was. Right.

Because that's what it's all about, right?

This little bean was planned. I went off the pill. I counted days. I determined ovulation. Things were, um, done. So I am pretty sure that I KNOW when I conceived. And in fact, I tested positive very early and that confirmed for me that I'd ovulated when I thought I did and I'd gotten pregnant when I thought I did.

Then along came technology and the ultrasound put my dates about two weeks later... I say August 2nd or 3rd was the due date, ultrasound says August 13th or 14th.

So I'm either a week late, or my due date isn't for another three or four days.

I believe I'm late, so does my midwife. Kind of. She keeps bringing up the second dates as a reminder that hey, nature may be smarter than you, honeybunch. I am willing to admit that she's right.

But I still want to be right.

It's an obsession.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

AuthorHouse has to pay up...

PW reports: AuthorHouse Ordered to Pay Up

by Claire Kirch, PW Daily -- 8/8/2006

The Kansas district judge presiding over the defamation lawsuit brought by romance writer Rebecca Brandewyne against AuthorHouse ordered Friday that the POD subsidy publisher pay Brandewyne $200,000 in punitive damages. Brandewyne’s co-plaintiffs in the suit, her parents, also were awarded punitive damages of $20,000 each.

This past May, a Wichita jury found AuthorHouse guilty of publishing a book, Paperback Poison, in November 2003 by Brandewyne’s ex-husband that libeled her. The jury awarded Brandewyne $230,000 in actual damages (PW Daily, May 16).

In his 14-page decision, Judge Jeff Goering asserted that AuthorHouse “acted towards the plaintiffs with wanton conduct,” in publishing Paperback Poison, despite the fact that Gary Brock, the book’s author, had informedAuthorHouse during contract negotiations that iUniverse had rejected the manuscript on the grounds of possible libelous content.

You can read more over at Miss Snark ... her esteemable Snarkiness...

Monday, August 07, 2006

What's on your desk?

Thank you to Tod Goldberg who not only has one of the funniest blogs (if you aren't averse to swear words) but who also gave me this idea.

What is on your desk?
  1. Two digital recorders and a microcassette recorder
  2. A can of mints
  3. A phone and headset
  4. Notepad for writing phone messages
  5. receipt for recorders
  6. Notes on research I still need to accomplish before the end of the month
  7. One of those jewelry holding things with my engagement ring, watch and several sets of earrings - my fingers are currently too swollen to manage the engagement ring AND the wedding ring
  8. Several different sized Post-It Note pads
  9. Pens in boxes, pens in coffee mugs, pens in pen holders, pens not taken out of their fancy carrying case
  10. Fancy ceramic coffee cup holder
  11. Four cds of supposedly calming music that I've never listened to, despite the fact that I bought them over a month ago
  12. Three lip balms, all different
  13. A needle and thread for... ?
  14. My passport and birth certificate in a fancy little holder so I don't lose them
  15. A pocket knife with a variety of other implements, kind of a cheap Swiss Army thingy...
  16. Random sticky notes on which my son has drawn me pictures
  17. Bottle of glue
  18. Big box of stick pins
  19. Big box of multicoloured paperclips
  20. US and Canadian postage
  21. Sunglasses
  22. Sticky note with the words "all that is intended shall be provided unto you"
  23. Fax machine
  24. Fan
  25. Out of date weigh scale for postage
  26. Recipe box filled with cards, each one with a contact on it... I like the old school style of contact management
  27. A thesaurus
  28. The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
  29. Photocopies of some recipes that I need to file away... in the kitchen
  30. Three pregnancy tests, yes, three and yes, ON MY DESK

These are not particularly exciting things... but they give you a weird little glimpse into my office. What's in YOUR office?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Now THIS is a blog!

I am LOVIN' the new look... what do you think?

Susie over at Bluebird Blogs made it. I LOVE it...

And no... there's still no baby!

And I walked and walked and walked today...

But who cares?! My blog is PRETTY!!

Definitions of Freedom

  1. When your child can go to the bathroom by himself.
  2. Deciding by the amount of sun coming through the trees if it's time to get up yet.
  3. Napping at 2pm.
  4. Eating whatever you want.
  5. Reading in bed for hours before bedtime with no worries about how tired you'll be in the morning.

And all these will end when I have this baby.

Instead of playing the "when is this thing coming out of me?!?" game, I'm trying to relish my last few moments of freedom with my son. In short order, he will no longer be my only child and in a way, I mourn that.

So many things in my life I've done for him. The reason I'm a writer was because I needed to make money to get us out of debt and back on our feet. I am definitely not the perfect mother. I have many flaws that (if you'll excuse me) I won't catalogue here. I feel like my son has been a little guinea pig of parenting. I've learned what I'm good at and what I'm bad at as a parent with him.

And child #2 will reap the most benefit.

There's a quote taped to my computer monitor:

There are many ways to measure success; not the lest of which is the way your child describes you when talking to a friend.

I don't know who wrote it, but it helps me to remember to be the mother my child deserves.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Still waiting!

I was hoping that the next post here would be full of baby pictures, but alas... we're still waiting.

Due date was yesterday.

Why yes, I am normally this impatient. Why do you ask?

Without giving too many bodily function updates, I have been having stronger than average braxton hicks contractions and a lot of lower back pain. All good signs.

Red Rover, Red Rover, we call BABY over!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Now Reading: The Birth House by Ami McKay

Just opened a new book - The Birth House by Ami McKay. I figured that I should probably try and read this one before I give birth. From the publisher:

The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.


It's a story set in Canada, something unusual for me to be reading, even if I am Canadian. Surprisingly the book as 151 reviews on Chapters.ca and is still rated a five. I can't wait to go to bed tonight so I can read it!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Ahhh... Nesting

There is a distinct possibility that I am nesting. The kitchen, the dining room AND my office are nice and clean and tidy. This does NOT happen. Now, I don't live in filth, but I do have better things to do than to clean. (Lately it's been obsessively checking my inbox for the next email from my agent)

I do not recall nesting with my first child. Perhaps this one is different. Most of the pregnancy has been different. I was sicker, more tired and less able to cope with any stress. I did, however, carry exactly the same. High and out front.

Two things:

Hopefully I will have Book News soon... and my agent ROCKS.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Book Suggestions Required

I want to buy a book online (Chapters.ca) because I can't find it in the stores in town (and I'm far too preggo to walk around in this HEAT!) but I need to come up with a couple of other books to order so I can qualify for free shipping...

Does anyone have any suggestions?

Either for me... or maybe to help prepare my son (almost 5) for the birth of a new baby...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

ARGH!

I received an innocent looking email this morning... it had just my email address in the 'To' line and did not appear to be too spam-y... it was addressed to me as 'a writer' who might be interested in their site. Now I have my email address on my web site because, hey, I WANT people to contact me with things related to writing...

Well this particular site was a "news" site. And you would be correct if you assumed that my use of "quotation marks" there implied total sarcasm.

Let's just say they were on the opposite political spectrum from me. If I'm FOX, they are CNN. If they are Condi Rice, I'm Hilary Clinton.

There's nothing wrong with that... there are plenty of positions to take in politics in this world. I'll read just about anything because I like to stay informed and hear both sides of a story. If I try view an event from both sides... or from every side possible, then I think it helps me to form my own opinion. I don't just take the common stance of my political party of choice without thinking it through...

But here's what irritated me... the web site (no, I'm not linking to it...) was so very one sided with heds (headings) that screamed total bias. Then to top it off, they had a section titled 'Publishing Standards' which stated "The reporting must be fair and unbiased."

Yeah. Ok. The 'articles' listed were just opinion and propaganda. It was just one side trying to take the form of a 'respectable news source' ... when in reality they are just trying to validate themselves.

And then there was the kicker under their Use of Material heading:

Payments for any submitted work are not available for any Contributors under any means. The work that is sent to the XXX is submitted freely, and voluntarily. The XXX does not own any submitted work but essentially 'borrows' the contributed material for a period of one year of date of submission. This allows the Editorial process to view any sent material and use it in the best situations possible, a year is given for this to take place. The authors of submitted material fully own their work and are clearly free to do what they want with it outside of the XXX.


Yeah, they are 'borrowing' the material... what crap. If you publish something... pay for it.

I'm a little irritated. Can you tell? So I sent them a slightly testy email and made sure they knew to remove me from their email list.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ack!

It's going to be 90 degrees here today. I'm 37 weeks pregnant. We have no air conditioning. I have deadlines and not just the biological ones!!

Life is never smooth. It doesn't click and clack along like a reliable locomotive, impervious to the rest of the world. Sometimes it bumps and jiggles and shakes and shivers. Do you remember when you were a child and you spent your days just trying to figure out how life worked? Why wasn't it FAIR? Why didn't it go your way? Why were people so STOOPID? Why was your brother/sister so STOOPID? And what the heck was up with your parents?

You assumed that why you were Grown Up that life would be much smoother and would make SO MUCH more sense.

I don't know about you, but I'm still waiting.

Every once in a while things seem Just Right. It's about that time that I start looking over my shoulder and waiting for something to happen. It's silly, really. Shouldn't we just be able to enjoy the good moments in life?

This weekend, as I mentioned, is scheduled to be all hot and bothered. But unfortunately I have a couple of deadlines to meet, so I actually have to stay in my home office. What I'd like to do is go drive around in my air conditioned truck or go to the air conditioned mall and hang out... but I can't really do that and complete the interviews I need or access the internet like I'd like to.

There's a local coffee shop with internet access, but not so much in the way of kids stuff ... my son would bounce off of the wall. So for now I'll just practice good heat repellent techniques: keeping blinds closed, keeping the fans on, drinking lots of ice water... hoping my hands and feet don't continue to swell to gargantuan proportions!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Writing (and pregnant!) Mother

When I was pregnant with my son five years ago, I was 'a writer' in a very general sense. Sure I wrote, I'd always written... but nothing ever went anywhere. I didn't blog, I didn't send anything out... Suddenly I was on maternity leave (50 weeks up here in Canada) and decided to start sending out some queries.

I started at the bottom, places that really needed writing and didn't pay. First off was the magazine of a non-profit that was struggling, but seemed to be open to my articles. I wrote two for them and finally got to see my name in print.

Then something odd happened. An editor from another magazine emailed me to say that she had read my articles and she had an opening for a columnist (because her columnist had just... died!) and would I want to write for them. Once a month, paid, about 1000 words on a topic I knew a bit about.

Um. Yeah!

And that's how I began to be ' Writer'... a paid one.

Sometimes I don't like to tell that story, because it's so serendipitous that it's not like anyone can follow my example or anything!

But what I did after that was to write more, gain more confidence and branch out. Eventually the editor saw my small articles in competing magazines and asked why I was writing for them. "Money," I replied. "Well why didn't you say you wanted more writing?" she asked.

Now I write four or five columns for the magazine, plus one or two features every month. And I've been writing for them for over three years. I still write for other magazines, but nothing that competes directly with my main one - none of the other competitors pay as well anyways.

But now I'm entering a new phase. I've never really written while so heavily pregnant, and in a few weeks I'll be writing with a very new baby. I have deadlines. I have people expecting things from me, I have committments...

This is new ground... I hope my swollen fingers can keep up the pace!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Oh it's just so ... wrong!

Secret Agent Man

Bonus points if you can find "White Man's Overbite" and "Cheesie Wiggling to the Beat". I was making such a face while watching this that my son stopped in mid-play to say "what's wrong mommy?"

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Importance of Integrity

The industry that I write about is embroiled in a bit of a controversy. People have taken sides, they've planted their flags, they've drawn lines. Friendships and partnerships have broken up. Opinions range from the Mildly Irritated to Panties Firmly in Wad.

And - lucky me - I get to write about it.

The thing is, I am not sure if I truly care. It doesn't really affect me since I write about the industry and currently don't really participate in the industry. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing.

Sure, I have my opinions and they lean towards one side of the argument. And I'm certain that there are cracked pots on both sides of the debate. But ultimately, this boils doing to a handful of people who are just Mad, Mad, Mad and they are doing everything they can to discredit People On The Other Side.

So what else is new... do you even need to know what industry I'm talking about? No, not really. It's the same thing that happens any time there's political strife. I could be speaking about the War in Iraq, the Mac vs PC Debate, the Universal Child Care Solution in Canada.

The important thing to remember when covering debates like this is that no matter what side you are on, you must maintain your integrity. Integrity is defined as "steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code."

I work hard to report in a fair and balanced fashion. That's part of my ethical code. I've also learned the hard way that as soon as I put out a heavily opinionated piece that the fates will intervene and I'll start to consider the other side of the situation.

In fact, no matter what I feel passionately about - I believe that fair and balanced reporting is the way to go.

Take, for example, the recent breastfeeding campaigns appearing on televisions around the United States. They are a little bit overpowering. A pregnant woman getting bucked off of a mechanical bull and the lines "If you wouldn't take risks before your baby was born, why start now?"

That's not really fair or balanced. I happen to be passionately FOR breastfeeding, but not at the expense of fair and balanced reporting. I prefer to give people the information and have them make up their own mind. I am not responsible for their opinion, but I am responsible for what I write.

Recently, with this industry I write about, I interviewed someone in charge a particular event. I have covered this yearly event for three years now and each time I interview him or the person in his position. This year I asked the same questions and put his quote in the article. That was over a month ago. Today he emailed me with concerns that his quote would be used for the side he's against. "They tell me that this interview on my cell phone was used as a support mechanism for the ... fiasco that is going on this year."

I responded to thank him for his concern and to state that I preferred to keep the politics out of the event coverage pieces I write as people simply want to know how the event went, not the turmoil behind it. I replied with his quote in the context of the paragraph and stated "as you can see, your quote was taken verbatim and was not used for one side or another, it merely stated the facts as you had done."

I haven't heard back yet.

I admit that it irritated me. I know for a fact that I did not solicit an opinion for one side or another. I did not ask my questions in a biased fashion and I most certainly did not manipulate his quote for one side or another. Thankfully I have an editor at this publication who I am confident would take my word for it. I've written for them for over three years and have never had anyone question my integrity. But if others have interpreted his quote as for one side or another, there is nothing much I can do about it.

More importantly, I know - deep down - that I quoted him accurately. I know my integrity is intact, I know that I am comfortable looking at myself in the mirror because I am steadfastly adhering to my own moral and ethical code.

And that will help me weather any storm that comes my way.