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 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 ( 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


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


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.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Writing Around Life

As a mother and a writer, it seems that there is always something ready to take the place of actual writing. Not just 'kids' but all the added duties that come with them. Laundry followed by dishes followed by folding laundry followed by making more food... then there are the trips to the park, to the beach, to the store... Half the time I'm worrying about a deadline or something that is approaching...

But then I remind myself that THIS is why I'm staying home and writing. I stay home to write and I write to stay home.

Today I have to edit my book proposal, but I'm incredibly uncomfortable with the heat and this pregnancy. But I've managed to find a semi-comfortable, semi-reclined position on the couch and I can balance my laptop on one thigh to type. My belly, especially my right rib cage area is aching and so is my back.

Something tells me that Hemmingway didn't ever have this problem. He had other problems, mind you, like constant hangovers. I guess you could say both of our problems were self induced.