Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Baby. She Eats.

My son was not like this. He was an early talker and late walker. He didn't like things being put in his mouth and he didn't have an inclination to put anything in there other than food and maybe his fingers and toes.

But this one? This girl baby? She eats everything.

We were trying to have some coloring time this afternoon. The moment my back was turned she ate the marker. We know better than to give her crayons (very easy to chew) and I guess I thought that the markers would be better... or at least taste worth. But no. They taste just fine thankyouverymuchandcanIhaveanother?

But as a bonus... she does a great job cleaning cheerios off the floor. Who says we need a dog?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Big Question

M.: Can I have one more chocolate?

Me: No, you can't. It's bed time. Besides, too much chocolate will make you have bad dreams.

M.: But what about Jesus?

Me: ....

M.: But what about Jesus?

Me: What about him?

M.: Didn't you say that he can make bad dreams go away if we pray?

Me: Well. Yes. But, um,... well, just no more chocolate before bed.

M.: But, mommmyyyyy...

Me: Did you just call me butt-mommy? (distraction! distraction!)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Shiver-worthy

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hee hee hee



(It has to be said, my hubby isn't this pathetic...)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

It's one of those days...

When a handful of
chocolate chips
might suffice as dinner.

While the children are eating
I turn the TV on for them and then
lay face down on the couch
and wish it were bedtime.

My greatest desire
is to curl up under the bed.

I wish people would stop looking at me
like I'm some kind of adult.
Hello, there's still a kid in here.

And even the chocolate chip cookies
my husband made today
are not making me happy.

Deadlines glare,
threatening to overwhelm me.

Whose life is this?

Who is in charge?

Because surely it ain't me.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Owie, says my pride

I know, pride isn't a great thing to have, I don't think of myself as prideful... but I think I'm used to being around kind people that this stung.

I'm here in Oklahoma City at the moment, covering a big horse show and writing stories that I find and taking the odd picture. They don't need my photos, they just need my writing, which is fine, I like practicing with my camera. Well there is a photographer here who is really good and he was letting me pick his brain a little. He saw me reading my camera's instruction manual and laughed a bit, saying "uh-oh, that's never a good sign."

I said I wasn't really a photographer, I'm just a writer. He checked over my camera, said it was nice, asked me some questions.. more techincal questions that I didn't have answers to.. I felt kind of like an idiot. All I wanted to know was what was a good setting for taking pictures inside. Like a good ISO for the arena we were in, was sort of f-stop.... I was trying not to be too dense and was really trying to understand what he was saying. I don't think he was trying to be mean.

Then I did a dumb thing, I said "do you want to see my pictures?" and I showed him some on my web site. The comments were "sorry, that's so over-exposed I can't really make it out" or "wow, that cat is super-over-exposed" or "you have to connect with the eyes, sorry, that one doesn't have the impact it could". I can't really say I'm devestated... I knew I wasn't an awesome photographer... but I really felt like crying. I didn't expect praise for the photos... but maybe I expected some sort of praise for my efforts... a start... for trying... I think my composition is good, but it's the science I can't get. I don't understand inverse relationships between this setting and that setting and how the color works and the workings of the camera.

It really made me think about how I might approach a new writer. New creatives/writers/photographers are all very similar... they are fragile beings with tender little wings and if you poke too hard at them they will bruise.

I think I'll be taking my photos down from my web site, I can't bear to have them there if real photographers are looking that critically at them. I feel stupid for showing my pictures to him, he must think I'm a real dolt.

But I've wanted to take some photography courses .... but who has the bloody time! I can't do it all and my photography has just been lower on the totem pole, I like it and I enjoy it... but I'm not yet a photographer. It's not as natural to me.

I just wish... I don't know.. he could have been a little kinder. But hey, now I know I have a tendency to overexpose and "blow out my highlights".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hell Thy Name is Airline Travel

Okay. I've been up since 4:45 am. It's now ... shoot, I don't know what time it is! It's either after ten or after eleven at night.

Last night I booked a taxi for 5:15 am as I had to be at the airport by 6:00 am. It was a no-show. So I had to drive the truck to the airport and leave it there, unlocked, with the keys hidden inside so my husband could pick it up. We have one key for it.

I board my flight. I'm supposed to go Calgary -> Minneapolis -> Oklahoma City. But Calgary weather has other ideas and we sit on the tarmac for two hours waiting for de-icing. But, tis better to de-ice than not de-ice, right?

So I'm still in a good mood because I'm going to make the best of this trip and look on the bright side. I'm choosing happiness, remember?

When we land in Minneapolis, my connecting flight is taking off. Ok. So they bump me to the next flight.. I'm going through Memphis, TN. Cool, I've never been to that airport, or Tennessee for that matter!

Still in a good mood.

In Memphis, things started to go downhill. Drunk guy in the bar fell on me. Irate American started going off on America because he thought "hey, she's Canadian, surely she must hate America." Yeah, if you are going to bash your own army, please make sure you are not talking to someone whose husband is a former US Army Major. You will not win and you will stomp off like the big bawl baby that you are.

I got on the next flight and the one flight attendant was ker-anky. I was sitting with this very nice lady and her sleeping toddler. My seatmate was of Asian descent, but was from New Orleans. Flight attendant comes over and says, "I need to give you some instructions on holding your baby. Can you speak English?"

Dude. I was offended on her behalf. My mouth even dropped open, which attracted the attention of cranky stewardess who I think might have realized that she was rude. Maybe it's just me, growing up in a multi-cultural area, living overseas... your color does not dictate what you speak.

Finally arriving in Oklahoma City to find that for the third time (out of three trips) Northwest Airlines has lost my luggage.

Then I head to pick up my rental agency and they tell me "you are late, we gave away your car." What the heck? So all that entering my flight information and the insinuating that it was so that they would know if my flight was late? What was that? Just for the heck of it? I had a hard time not losing my temper. It was the last straw.

Oh, no... wait, it was paying $600 for a car rental at another company rather that the $200 that I had reserved a car at... yep, that was what broke me. Crying at the airport again. Nice.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Brand new day.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Choosing Happiness

I am watching a program this afternoon about being happy.

Travelling across the country, using surveys to determine the extent of the average Canadian's happiness, Sonja and Jon meet people from all different social-economic levels including a cheery funeral director who loves his work and a disabled single mother who happily spends her free time volunteering. Sonja and Jon find that money and prestige are not a reflection of a person's happiness. In fact, many people who are lower on the social-economic scale rank much higher in terms of happiness than many high-income professionals. Sonja reveals that the life traits adopted by satisfied people are the ones that contribute to a truly happy existence and are lessons that everyone can learn in order to live a more fulfilled life.


They say that 50% of your happiness quotient comes from genetics, 10% from life experiences and 40% from ... ?

Leaving many to think that 40% is choice. Can you imagine? They interivewed one woman who says she wakes up happy every morning. And looking at her, you truly believe that she is happy. She shows us a prime example of the "Duchenne smile". Another woman has used that smile to actually predict the lives of her students. The ones who have that smile are more likely to be married longer, sometimes into the decades, where the others either aren't married or are divorced.

You can find out more at Happy Canadians.

What does this have to do with being a Writing Mother? I'm not always happy. Big surprise there to friends and family ;0).

But starting today I'm going to choose to be happy more. I'm going to say thank you more to my friends rather than complain that no one comes to my parties. I'm going to delete emails that upset me or make me want to react in anger. I'm going to smile and laugh when I am frustrated or tired.

The key is... choosing to be happy isn't about faking it. It's about letting go of anger. Yes, there are deadlines to meet and kids who won't sleep. And there are days I oversleep and rush to work horrible hair. There are piles of laundry and kids who would rather throw spaghetti than eat it.

But there's also the promise of income and children who make the days worthwhile. There are days when I have a wonderful job full of opportunities and hair with it's own personality. We have enough clothes on our back and food in the cupboard.

These are the things I'm going to focus on. These are the choices and opportunities I'm going to seek.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Prayers for Personality Types

I really wish I knew who wrote this because I laughed my BUTT off!!

ISTJ: Lord, help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 11:41.23 a.m. EST.

ISTP: God, help me to consider people's feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.

ESTP: God, help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they're usually NOT my fault.

ESTJ: God, help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, just ask.

ISFJ: Lord, help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.

ISFP: Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if you don't mind my asking).

ESFP: God, help me to take things more seriously, especially parties and dancing.

ESFJ: God, give me patience, and I mean right NOW.

INFJ: Lord, help me not be a perfectionist. (Did I spell that correctly?)

INFP: God, help me to finish everything I sta

ENFP: God, help me to keep my mind on one th - Look a bird - ing at a time.

ENFJ: God, help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?

INTJ: Lord, keep me open to others' ideas, WRONG though they may be.

INTP: Lord, help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.

ENTP: Lord, help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I'll settle for a few minutes.

ENTJ: Lord, help me slow downandnotrushthroughwhatIdo.

Amen.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Personal Board of Directors

I have spent a few years sitting and volunteering on boards and committees for various groups. Currently I'm on the executive of one board, a political women's group. It's quite informal and I really enjoy the interaction with other women. I'm on a committee of another and I enjoy it too, though it's quite a bit more work.

It occurred to me tonight that I have a personal board of directors. These are the people I go to with questions and problems and I seek information and feedback from them. I don't always like the feedback I get, and sometimes I know they have an agenda that differs slightly from mine, but I always appreciate that they take the time to "volunteer".

I have Major Man, of course, who carries a lot of weight. He's like the chair of the finance committee... someone smarter than me in certain ways and able to answer the question "can we do this?" The answer is most commonly, we can do anything as long as we can afford it. He's a rock though. 110% in my corner at all times.

Then there's G. She's like the chair of the governance committee. Always ready to give direction if I ask and talk about precedence, procedure and the direction I am headed. Sometimes a conversation feels like an information gathering session, but I don't mind. She's a smart one too. Not much grey in her life, more black and white and she brings a lot of clarity to the table.

And of course J. She's the longest standing member on my board of directors. She's chair of the sponsorship committee, always working on helping me figure out how we're going to do what we want to get done. There are no roadblocks in her view and she helps me to look ahead positively.

M and E play a roll. They are the membership. They are the reason I need that board of directors to ensure I'm a success.

I don't always like what my committee members are telling me, I don't always like what the membership wants me to do. But I am glad for both of them. If they weren't here I would feel as though I were adrift. I mean, what would I DO all day?

I hope you have a personal board of directors. People who volunteer their time for you.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Some great advice...

For you fictionistas.... Diana Peterfreund offers these tidbits in her When Good Advice Goes Bad series:

Intro
1. Don't Use Passive Voice
2. Kill Your Darlings
3. Write the Book of Your Heart
4. Start With Category
5. The Myth of the One-Book Wonder

I am not a fiction writer just yet, though I have these little dreams tucked away in my heart. Maybe one day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Strike


I am naturally averse to unions. I am. I dislike big groups of like-minded people who all seem to swim the same way.

This could be because I'm not like anyone else in my family and I like it that way just fine.

So I was distrustful of the Writers Guild of America strike. Surely these writers are making a gazillion dollars already. Surely they aren't squabbling over cents here and there.

But I started to think about why I was opposing it. Does someone who makes more than me deserve to be paid less just because they already have more money? No.

After doing a little research, I realized that these writers aren't rich. They are writers. They are probably paid better than Joe Freelancer, but they are good at their jobs. If you've laughted at a sitcom or cried at a late night drama, it's because of the writers.

And they deserve to be paid for their work. Non-writers don't always understand, afterall, most people don't create something and then expect that thing to continue to pay them. But that's what writers do. They create a script, a plan, an outline, a guide.... and then it's used to create something in a different medium. It moves from paper to real life. So when it moves from real life to the internet, that is a continuation. Someone is using that original piece - words on paper - to make money.

At the moment it's not a lot of money. But it will be. Watch this video to learn about what happened the last time writers reached this crossroad. They didn't stand up and to date they have collectively lost MILLIONS.





Or, we can break it down into numbers:



I support them. I hope you do too.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mama's Got a Book Contract


Well, after a month of radio silence ... I can finally announce that I've sold my second book (tentatively titled) The Green Stable to Storey.


It was an exciting process. We (meaning my agent and I) started out with a list of six publishers. She sent the proposal to them and we got five responses back in the positive, one in the negative.


From there we pretty much let the dollars fall where they may. We had a dollar figure in mind for an advance and luckily three came around the same. One had a contract clause I didn't like, so we passed on them. That left two...


It's kind of impolite to discuss the specifics. Sort of like saying to your co-worker, "so, how much do you make? Did you negotiate more holidays?" So I apologize for being vague...


But in the end I had a choice to make. One publisher was offering more, but I really had strong feelings of Like towards the other publisher. Plus there were differences in regards to the acquisition fo photos and graphs for the book.


So I chose to go with Storey and I am exceedingly happy!! I feel - down in my toenails even - that I have made the right decision.

If you'd like to be put on a mailing list for The Green Stable, please leave a comment and I'll put ya on the list!

Oh yeah, what's the book about you ask?

It's a horse owner/rider guide to environmental horsekeeping. Everything from how to build a 'green' barn to using enviro-friendly products and practices to being an earthy trail rider.

(Cross-posted at Mama Needs A Book Contract)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembering


My son has been learning about Remembrance Day for the past week in school. I know this because he comes home and asks questions about his step-dad, who spent a dozen years in the US Army.


"It's a good thing he didn't die, right?"


"I'm glad he drove a tank because if you get out of a tank you die. So I'm glad he stayed in."


"He won't go back to a war, will he?"


As much as I want my son to know about his step-dad's Army career, as much as I want him to grow up and learn to be thankful... I'm not so sure just teaching kids that "people die in war" is the most important thing.


No, I think its important that we teach them WHY they died. The good, bad and ugly.


Ian Robinson with the Calgary Sun had a very moving tribute in the paper today:



Ahead was the slightly bent figure of a white-haired man in the blue blazer above gray flannels, Legion crest on one side, an array of service medals heavy on the other.

My daughter marched up to him. We adopted her from a Romanian orphanage when she was three.

Ethnically, she's a gypsy -- that's right, loud colours, long skirts, tambourines, fortune-telling, the works -- and we used to try to ensure she knew something of her culture until she sat us down and made us stop, explaining that she was a Canadian now.

But she remembered enough to stride confidently up to the veteran to ask, "Did you fight in the war?" He smiled and allowed as he had.

She stuck out her hand, looking solemn.

"Then I have to thank you," she said.

"I'm a gypsy.

"Do you know what Hitler and the Nazis planned for gypsies? He was going to kill all of us.

"The Jews call what happened to them during the war The Holocaust. Gypsies call it The Devouring, she told him.

"So if you hadn't stopped them, I wouldn't be here.

"Thank you beating them so I could be born and, you know, live and stuff."

Turns out we needn't have worried about Jillian being able to relate to acts of remembrance on Nov. 11.


We need to ensure that we Remember why they died and we need to teach our children.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Goodbye Norman Mailer. You Sucked.

Yes. You heard me. You sucked.

Norman Mailer died today.

I've never made it through a single one of Mailer's poorly written books so I was gritting my teeth as I read the tributes and the emails about losing a "great writer".

And then I stumbled along Roger Kimball's take on the passing of a "legend".

It is in his ideas about sex, especially as he relates them to the rest of life, that Mailer was influential and most destructive. It would be difficult to overstate the crudeness of his position. In 1973, in one of the countless interviews he has given, Mailer was asked for his opinion about legalized abortion. Mailer thought well enough of his answer to reprint it in Pieces and Pontifications (1982):

"I think when a woman goes through an abortion, even legalized abortion, she goes through hell. There’s no use hoping otherwise. For what is she doing? Sometimes she has to be saying to herself, “You’re killing the memory of a beautiful f***.” I don’t think abortion is a great strain when the act was some miserable little screech, or some squeak oozed up through the trapdoor, a little rat which got in, a worm who slithered under the threshold. That sort of abortion costs a woman little more than discomfort. Unless there are medical consequences years later. But if a woman has a great f***, and then has to abort, it embitters her."

Whatever else can be said about this statement, it is the declaration of a moral cretin.


I am disgusted. Goodbye Mr. Mailer. Full Stop.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Is this you? Because it sure is me....



I watched this video today and it really struck home. How easy is it to go through your day moment by moment and assume that you are the only character in your novel.

Yes, we're the main characters in our novels. But we have to remember that each person we meet has their own story. God help me to remember this.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

When Your Writing is Controversial

I write for a site that has its fair share of controversial articles. And every once in a while one that I put up is controversial. Like the one I put up today.

My article criticized the Canadian Border Services Agency. (As my husband said... good luck crossing the border later this month ;) lol) It's not like it garnered 100 comments, but it did get at least one comment from a superviser with the CSBA. (probably clicking 'flag this person' at this very moment...)

Basically they haven't been allowed to have guns. Now they are being given guns but it's taking a heck of a long time to get 7200 guards certified. (Not all of them will get guns)

To top it off, there are new recruits being incredibly dumb and posting pictures on Facebook of alcohol consumption in uniform.

Anyways... you can read it if you like.

So what do you do when your writing draws criticism?

1. Analyze the criticism to determine a) who it's coming from and b) if it has merit.

2. Find something in the criticism that you can learn from.

3. Do not take it personally.

The third point is the hardest because many critics take things to a personal level. For example, one critic didn't like my tone (sarcasm) and while on one hand I know that it's just the tone I chose to write in, on the other I feel it's a criticism of me as a writer and the tool I chose.

(I'm not a huge fan of sarcasm... but I use it sometimes...)

The first point is important because everyone one has a bias. A quick Google search determined that one of my commenters was a supervisor at the CSBA. I can understand why he'd take offense to my article.

It was about one viewpoint, one opinion.

It goes without saying that many, many employees at the CSBA are good workers. But the fact is, their employer has faced controversy in the last few years and that's what my article was about. The controversies.

After reading the comments, I digested them and responded. I wasn't offended, really, how can you be offended by an opinion. It's an opinion, not an action or a concrete attack. It's just one person's opinion.

Now if I'm totally flagged at the border now I will really be offended. LOL

Please feel free to comment...

(Cross-posted at Mama Needs A Book Contract)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sunday Date Night

Thank you NFL.

Yes, that's right, thank you to the National Football League.

Because if you didn't have exciting games to watch at the local pub, my husband and I might never have a date night! LOL

However, I now declare that I'll not name any future children Payton. Because... WTH Payton Manning? Tom Brady did not WIN that game, you LOST it.

Dude.

But I still had fun on date night with hubby. A beer, peanuts, a steak sandwich. That's my kinda date!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Balancing

Act as if it were impossible to fail.
-- Dorothea Brande


A co-worker of mine said recently, "I don't know how you do it all, I can hardly figure out how to be a dad and work full time... but you are a mom, you work full time and you have all these other things going on."


I admit, my plate is a little full. And I do have to stop once and a while and make sure that my full plate does not become too much of a source of pride. Because you know what comes after pride... right?


And I don't really want to drop a full plate.


I think that the reason I take on so much, is that I don't believe I will fail at them. I look at a task and think, "can I do this? do I want to do this?" and if my heart says yes both times, then I take it on.


Periodically, and driven by my own stress level, I reassess and sometimes I scoop a little off that full plate. I did that recently when I stepped down off of a committee that I'd spent two years chairing. It meant a lot to me, but at the same time I recognized that I had to let it go so someone else could do a better job.

Other things came in to fill it's spot... but they were different things, I could do them better or they took less energy or they were a better fit with my family.

I've also started trying to multi-task LESS and I'm finding I get MORE done. It used to be that I tried to juggle everything, including being a mom. But I started to realized that at the end of the day while I was here with my kids, I wasn't here for them. Once I started working full time and my son went back to school, I started seeing them even less. It meant that I wanted the time with them to be about them... not about me on the computer.

So now I spend more time playing, talking and attending. And when they are in bed, I sit down here at the computer and write.

NaNo Here We Come!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Heather Cook
Calgary Municipal Liaison, NaNoWriMo
76, 219 – 90th Ave SE
Calgary, AB T2J 0A3
(403) 815-7266
hlcook@shaw.ca
www.heather-cook.com

50 Calgary Writers Gathering to Kick Off National Novel Writing Month
October 29, 2007 – Calgary, Alberta – A group of brave Calgary writers are gathering at a local Chapters store on November 1, 2007 at 7pm to kick off the National Novel Writing Month. There are some who say writing a novel takes awesome talent, strong language skills, academic training, and years of dedication. Not true. All it really takes is a deadline – a very, very tight deadline – and a whole lot of coffee.
Welcome to National Novel Writing Month: a nonprofit literary crusade that encourages aspiring novelists all over the world to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. At midnight on Nov. 1, more than 100,000 writers from over 70 countries – poised over laptops and pads of paper, fingers itching and minds racing with plots and characters – will begin a furious adventure in fiction. By 11:59 PM on Nov. 30, thousands of them will be novelists.
NaNoWriMo is the largest writing contest in the world. In 2006, over 79,000 people took part in the free challenge. And while the event stresses fun and creative exploration over publication, sixteen NaNoWriMo novelists have had their NaNo-novels published, including Sarah Gruen, author of New York Times #1 Best Seller, Water for Elephants.

"The 50,000-word challenge has a wonderful way of opening up your imagination and unleashing creative potential like nothing else," says NaNoWriMo Director (and eight-time NaNoWriMo winner) Chris Baty. "When you write for quantity instead of quality, you end up getting both. Also, it's a great excuse for not doing any dishes for a month."

For the past eight years, Baty has sent out weekly pep talks to participants in November. This year, he's passing the pep talking torch to established authors, including mystery writer Sue Grafton, master storyteller Tom Robbins, and renowned fantasy writer Neil Gaiman.

Returning for her fourth year as municipal liaison is Heather Cook of Calgary. Proving that if you want to get something done… ask a busy person, Heather works full time and is a freelance writer for several magazines and online sites in North America, she’s writing her second book and she has two children.

The Calgary Kick Off will take place at the Macleod Trail Chapters at Macleod and 94th Ave SE. Start time is 7 pm and a write-off will begin at 8 pm.

For information: www.nanowrimo.org
Media Inquires: contact Heather Cook (403) 815-7266 or hlcook@shaw.ca

###

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rowling and Potter and Doris Lessing

I think my favorite thing about being a writer is having an overwhelming desire to know the backstory of the books I read. That's the part that the writer knows in her head, but doesn't necessarily put on the page. A bit might show up here and there, but for the most part it's all the history before page one.

(And we all know not to put any backstory on page one, right?)

Recently J.K. Rowling revealed that the Harry Potter saga was inspired by Christianity. This is no surprise, really, if she'd said different I would have had to call bull pucky. It's the great battle between good and evil, the forces gather on each side, alliances are formed, there are betrayals, innocent ones die.

And then she announced that Dumbledore was gay. And for some great reason, I was not surprised. It fit just fine the way she'd written it in the book. He's an old, single man and the only real infatuation we read about is with a young man from his past. It fit.

Now you're probably wondering why a Christian like myself is so fond of not only a book that some say promotes witchcraft, but also of a gay character.

I have no good answers for you other than a) I don't think it promotes witchcraft and b) if God wanted me to worry so much about homosexuality, I think he might have listed it in the top ten.

But back to Rowling.

I think the reason that I was not surprised by either is because that's the beauty of well crafted backstory. It's there, but you don't see it, it's woven so faintly into the tapestry like a pale blue thread, that you only pick up on it when held up to another blue cloth. Then you see it there and think "oh yes, of course that fits perfectly".

Now, as an aside. I find it very interesting how different sites reported this.

According to Guardian Unlimited:

'My truthful answer to you...I always thought of Dumbledore as gay.'


Which, despite being reported from the exact same event, differs from how the Associated Press reported it:
"Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause.

Now why is that, do you think? I've seen similar "massaging" of quotes before. Most recently with Doris Lessing's Nobel Prize retort. Some quoted her verbatim while others shortened her words up just enough to make her sound really snotty.

Personally, I think she is just a quiet older woman who is used to being lambasted in public for her views and she was surrounded by cameras and microphones while trying to climb out of a car from a shopping trip. We writers are not known for our improv skills, otherwise we'd be speakers, not writers. Even Churchill, one of the most amazing writers and speakers was first a writer. All those witty retorts? Written and memorized.

Now what do you think of Lessing's reaction?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

If you write at work... you're fired

These were the words my boss spoke to me before he hired rehired me this summer. I smirked.

I love NOT writing while I'm at work. I have plenty of things to write about... work-related things. But when I'm at the Regular Job I can be Regular Job Person and I don't have to worry about being Creative Writer Extraordinaire.

Which I'm not.

But doesn't every writer want to be?

So the pressure is off at work. I can be Talks to People Salesperson and What Can I Do For You Today Girl. I can even be Writes A Great Sales Letter Chic.

But at the office I'm not Struggling Writer Who Hates The Blank Page or Person Who Can't Come Up With a Better Word Lady.

I'm just me.

Trust me boss, you have nothing to worry about.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I've been tagged!

My gigglyness (totally a word) at being tagged for a meme can be directly connected to my desire to avoid working on an article that is vexing me tonight. So score one for the readers. Score nada for my writing career.

Thanks Lori. Thanks a LOT. :0)

It's a pretty simple meme... I am to identify five writing strengths.

Clearly avoiding procrastination is not one of them.

1. I can find a theme in almost any situation. I think it's my high 'intuitive' score on my Myers-Briggs test... I see big picture, I see forest. I don't see the individual trees so much.. oh, wait, we're working on my strengths. This means that I am really good at taking a theme, and like a ribbon, weaving in through a story and tying off with a nice bow at the end. And I love finding that ribbon, I love being able to see the bigger picture and presenting it to a reader like a big fancy package.

2. I never miss a deadline. Ok, never is a strong word. I despise missing deadlines with every molecule of my being. I may rub up against a deadline with such urgency that it seriously begins to question my intentions, but I don't often let it slip from my grasp. This is one of the most important ways you can prove to an editor that you are a professional. If you just do this one thing... you'll be ahead of half the writers out there.

3. I do what I say I'm going to do. Related to numero 2, when I have an assignment I do the assignment. I ask my questions up front and I turn in what my editor expects. If there are changes, or if research leads me in a different direction, I keep my editor informed. There are no surprises here.

4. In invest in other writers. How does this make me a better writer? Because by supporting the community at large by teaching and guiding other writers, I learn more about myself as a writer. I've learned about my own procrastination by writing emails to other writers about it. I've learned to query by crafting a query to post to my Writing Mother group. It's sort of a 'know why you believe' theory. As I explain writer to others, my knowledge of it expands.

5. I tell the truth. Well, duh, what the heck does this have to do with being a better writer? I'll tell you. I write with the same dedication to telling the truth whether I'm doing event coverage, explaining a concept, writing about politics or crafting an essay on motherhood. I don't use shock language to make a point or make a story more effective, I trust that the truth and the story are effective when mixed with some elbow grease to take out all the unneccessary parts and to leave all the working parts in tact. I don't spruce up quotes to make a point, I don't insert off color jokes so that someone else might find me funny, I don't take liberties with the stories of others. I'm just the scribe and I'm ultimately telling the story of someone else.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I'm Thankful For...

  1. My Father, who hears me.
  2. My husband who knows me
  3. My son who shows me how to live
  4. My daughter who teaches me to smile
  5. My parents to whom I owe much
  6. My in-laws who gave me my husband
  7. My ex-in-laws who have left an enduring mark
  8. My ex-husband, who taught me the messy, practical side of forgiveness
  9. My friends who inspire me
  10. My job, it comes with responsibility and teaches me humility
  11. The opportunities I have in life
  12. My childhood, as dysfunctional as all childhoods are
  13. My agent, the quiet little pitbull
  14. My publisher, for continuing to have faith in me
  15. Soldiers
  16. My country (kind of vague... but I'm thankful I was born here)
  17. My writing ability, I'm never going to be done learning how to be better at it
  18. My husband's financial acumen
  19. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  20. This breath. Right now.

Today's sermon at church was all about being thankful. A thankful heart is the gateway for so many blessings, I hope I can remember to be thankful year round.

It is far too easy to complain about things in life. How easy is it to say "I don't like that, or that, or that..." Instead I choose to be thankful for something every day. No, every hour... every minute.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

I just got my copy of CS for the Working Mom's Soul - my essay appears on page 237. This marks the second time I've been in a Chicken Soup book.

Chicken Soup essays don't pay a huge amount, but they pay enough, in my books. I will often sit down and write some personal essays just for the heck of it. I might turn them in to blog posts or I might hang on to them. Both of my CS essays have come about this way. So when I see a call out, I remember an essay I wrote and I submit it. So far I'm 2 for 2.

I think being a working mom is probably the toughest job in the world. It can be very hard to leave being a mom at home and leave work at work. I'm lucky to have great family support and one wonderful babysitter. Plus, my son is having a much better year at school this year, so I worry far less than I did last year.

But still, there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything I want to do. Blogging and writing are scheduled in for the 3 pm - to 10 pm time at home. At work I think I'm the most efficient because I have one thing to focus on: my job. Now it seems that when I'm at home, I'm doubly distracted. Supper-homework-diapers-writing-friends-phone calls-after school... it all gets squished in to seven hours in the afternoon evening. Sometimes I feel like I am not doing everything as well as I could.

My daughter is benefitting from more one on one time with her dad. He is with her a lot during the week while I'm at work. He doesn't work at home, which means that he has a lot of time to focus on her. She's thriving! Part of me feels a little guilty, she wasn't as talkative and easy to interact with when I was home because I spent a great deal of time distracting her so I could get some writing done.

That's the gist of my essay in CS for the Working Mom's Soul. How to balance being at home for your kids and being *there* for them too.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Working Squared

We fall asleep with a pile of laundry between us. A testament to the day's unfinished business. Most nights a six year old boy clambers over the pile, sometimes using it as his blanket and I wake up to find boy drool on my pillow and my son using my good work pants - the ones that don't cut me off in the middle and hang nice with their pleat - as his binkie.

My husband, Major Man, is softly snoring on the other side of the mountain of laundry. I can reach him with my fingers and sometimes fall asleep with my hand on his arm. I say snoring softly because we recently discovered those nose, uh, thingies that open the nasal passages.

So my hand can rest on his arm, instead of my toe or finger poking him in the side to Roll Over Already You Great Snoring Oaf.

I've been working a lot lately. My new-again job is in sales and my hours (which recently changed) are 7am - 3pm. Three days a week my husband stays home to take M to school and watch E for the rest of the day, until I return. Two afternoons a week, the sweet neighbour lady watches E until my return.

Upon my return I have a few minutes to download my email and check for emergencies in my inbox.

I know I've babbled about this before... so lets move on.

In theory, it looked like I'd have plenty of time to write in the afternoons. But instead my time feels strained, condensed and overflowing all at the same time. I feel that so many tasks are being left undone (the laundry being one of them) and so many balls are being dropped (a query? what is that?) that I feel suddenly like I'm only half a mom and half a writer...

Sure, I can almost read your comments already: just let the laundry go, don't worry about having a clean house, make more macaroni...

But I love my house in order; I just don't do it very well. I need to have clean work clothes; I just can't wash clothes worth a damn. I like feeding my kids healthy food; I just don't have the time to shop for it.

I'm re-reading To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife by Caitlin Flanagan. I quit reading it last time right around the same chapter I'm on now. The chapter where she starts talking about a nanny.

First of all, it would cost me about $2000 a month for a nanny... and then there would be the guilt. Oh, oh, oh the guilt of having someone else rock my babies to sleep. Someone else hugging their bumps better.

But then.... someone else doing the laundry. Someone else reminding me to pick up diapers before I reach in the bag and pull out the last one because Major Man apparently thinks that the Diaper Fairy brings them...

This time I kind of get it. Last time I was disgusted that Flanagan would think about hiring a nanny... I was bothered by her admissions that she was ok with someone else doing all the child raising. But reading it now, I see she wasn't ok with it at all.. she is ok with it now, which is easy to be when you've done something.

She just realized that something had to give. She wasn't going to do It All. She wasn't going to buy into the story that I have, that I can bake my own bread, work full time, write the rest of the time, be a good mom, have the laundry done, the shopping squared away and still get to Beavers and swimming and .... and .....

So I've been re-jigging the priorities. I may write a bit less, I no longer feel the burning desire to write anything and everything that gets offered to me.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Warning: Grumpiness Ahead

No one likes to read grumpy rants. I'm sure of it. But tonight I am irritated, grumpy and generally unbalanced.

It's been a long week at work. That's all I'm going to say about that.

I'm averaging 17 hour days between getting up and going to work, taking care of the kids, writing, studying and doing activities like the Beaver Walk this past week. By Friday, today, I'm pretty much done.

But I had a meeting to attend tonight. I sent a notice out to the members of my writing group, asking them to attend this Very Important Meeting. We were to plan the coming year. I wanted to know what they wanted, what types of meetings/speakers/locations... they pay to be a part of this national organization and they pay a chapter fee. I wanted to make it worth their while.

No one showed up. A possible attendance of almost 30... and no one showed.

Demoralized would be one word. Cranky another. I could even try mad on for a while. But the question begs to be asked: Why?

I really want this writing group to succeed. I really want to meet face-to-face with the writers, talk shop, learn, grow, develop. We've had some good meetings - web site copy, editorial panel, freelancing tips, marketing to editors - with very poor attendance.

What seems, for some reason, to be even worse is that I have several non-members on my email list. Lots of them show up and despite the note that it's $5 a meeting for non-members... in a year only one has ever paid. And then they request topics or locations... and honestly? Tonight I just want to say "pay your membership fee and then we'll talk".

Because in my work/life balance... this is unbalancing me. Major Man works from about 3 pm to 9 pm most days. I asked him to come home early (5:30) so I could attend this meeting. And no one showed. So not only did I waste my time, I wasted his as well.

The opinions on why people don't show vary from "the time doesn't work for me" to "the topics don't interest me" to "I have XYZ to do". Really, I think that the problem is that here in our city there's too much money, too much opulence, too many opportunities. A few years of making no money, barely scraping by or having to compete for work might change things... it might make the writers a little more willing to liaise with other writers, seek comfort from their kind.

But it doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. People don't care. I'm starting not to care. I have my online group, they are enough.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

'Scuse me... was I staring?

Like all great and wonderful parents, I signed my son up for Beavers hoping I'd be able to drop him off and escape for an hour a week. After I remembered that I had another child, I also remembered he's probably going to learn fun things like starting fires and how to read a map. Which means I won't be able to say "just a short trip" when we're driving across hell's half acre again. And I should hide the matches.

So it was with considerable trepidation that we made our way to the Beaver Hike so we could schlep around the local green space then congregate with 30 other kids around a little fire pit and try to roast wieners and marshmallows. Frankly I'm surprised no one got a flaming marshmallow in the eye. To make it even more exciting, the campsite was right on the edge of a 20 foot drop off into the creek. Fun!

Guess where the boys all wanted to sit. You guessed it, next to the drop off.

Truthfully (and I say truthfully because of course everything else here is a total lie) it was enjoyable. The fall foliage was beautiful, the air was just crisp enough to be invigorating, and the boys had a blast. A few leaders grumbled about the lack of organization, but I don't think a single boy complained. Funny, that.

The other parents provided great people viewing opportunities for me. Yes, I'm one of those people that thinks she's surreptitiously sneaking glances at others when in fact I'm probably standing there staring at them so hard that I'm starting to mimic their facial expressions. No lie (more lies!) I've caught myself doing that. But the parents are hilarious:

Former Girl Guide: spending her time saying things like "remember when we did this in Girl Guides" I find myself strangely attracted to her. No, not in THAT way but kind of like I wanted desperately to be liked by the cool girls in Girl Guides when I was Looser Mc-Looserton with one earring and a mop of messy red hair. Unfortunately I don't know any of the campfire songs she tries to start singing so I flunk out of the cool girl club. Again.

Skater Dude All Alone In Woodsmanville: With his bleached blond hair and the funky nest of hair JUST on the bottom of his chin (it kind of looks like a big brown cotton ball) he most decidedly does NOT fit in with the rest of the male leaders, most of whom are carrying axes and know how to use them. I half expected him to stand around the fire warming himself, turn to me and say "puff puff give dude".

Grandma and Grandpa Taking Over for Mom and Dad: Of course someone begged off of parental duties this evening and made grandma and grandpa go on the hike with the kids. I felt a little sorry for the kids, especially since grandpa risked a hip injury trying to climb down the bank to retrieve a marshmallow stick while everyone else stared, some checking their cell phone service to see if they could get a line out to 911 if they needed to.

Hitler Mom: overheard telling her son exactly how to play Red Light Green Light and telling him to listen carefully in Chinese Telephone. Missed the point completely I think.

By the end of the hike I was sufficiently plied with hot chocolate, perfectly toasted marshmallows and half a cold weiner and we headed home. Just in time because one second it was dusk and the next it was night time.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why do you procrastinate?

I think that if you asked writers "do you procrastinate?" 99.8% would say yes. And the 0.2% would be either lying or ... well, we don't really want to think or talk about the rest because they are probably named King or Gabaldon or Clancy.

The fact is... writers have the tendancy to procrastinate. They say it's a fear of... a) success, b) failure or c) both. I'd love to say I don't procrastinate, but I do. It's really a control thing for me. I think it is kind of like how I used to keep my room as a teenager: messy. I wanted my area to be just the way I wanted it. I didn't want to clean it until I wanted to clean it. I would not clean it a minute sooner than I wanted to clean it despite admonishments from my mother.

Psychology Today has a great article about why we procrastinate.

A few points really stood out for me as particularly writerly:

Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, "I'll feel more like doing this tomorrow." Or "I work best under pressure." But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying "this isn't important." Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources avoiding.

Isn't that the truth... how many times have you gone to start an article and thought "oh tomorrow I'll feel like writing, I just need more sleep/food/coffee" or "the kids are here, I'll get my hubby to watch them tomorrow and write the whole thing in an hour". And then we spend that golden hour drinking a latte and checking our email.

Which brings me to...

Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don't take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking e-mail is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.


As writing mothers we have this one down pat. I mean how EXCITING is laundry when you don't want to write. I've done crazy things like scrub my fridge or clean the toilet when a particularly vexing article is tapping its virtual fingers on my computer screen.

The article goes on to identify three types of procrastinators:
1. Arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.

2.Avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.

3.Decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.

Which type are you? I really think that I am number two. I think that there's a hybrid of number two... we writing mothers want to make sure that everyone (editors included) think we are Really Busy. When in fact there's more busy-ness going on to avoid writing an article.

What do you think?

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm Rubber. You're Glue.

Because I was recently asked if "having a husband, a child, and a freelance career" would be a "conflict" with my job....

I bring you Mir's perfect and wonderful Woulda Coulda Shoulda said responses...

My most favorite:

Oh, so that’s something you can do on the side while you’re being a mom!

A) Yes, it’s not really a career so much as something I fit in between sewing matching clothes for my kids.
B) Yes, nothing can be as fulfilling as doing everything for little people who claim I’m the meanest person on the planet, but writing does fill that little hole in my heart.
C) Actually, mothering is something I do on the side while I write. What?
D) I have never seen these children before in my life.
E) Yes, I plan to choose my next career around my pet goldfish. Got any ideas?



And Mir made a point in the comments... the snark isn't really for the people who are genuinely curious about what you do... more for those people who see the conversation as a chance to try and make you feel small.

But as we all know... no one can make you feel anything.

An Aside.

I met a woman recently who thought suprisingly like me... in weird ways too. Like the sign in the office bathroom that makes us NUTS:
Flush ONLY toilet paper down the toilet.

So, um... where should I pee then?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Spreading Light

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
- Edith Wharton

I don't really think that anyone can truly be the candle. I think probably the candle is God and the mirror is what we are supposed to be... us humans, trying mightily to reflect God's light.

Or some trying not so mightily.

In the workplace it can be hard to be a Christian without offending others. I admit, sometimes I settle for just appearing to be a good person. But I want people to know I'm a Christian. For one, I want them to hold me to a higher standard. I don't believe that just being a good person is good enough. I want them to know that my God expects more.

Dear co-worker: know that I pray for you. I pray for your strength and for mine. I pray that we heal and you find a light inside yourself that you can't help but reflect.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why is it...

... that when I started working full time outside the home again I didn't give up all my other duties like laundry, grocery shopping, breadmaking, cleaning?

... that the number of shoes that a six year old boy needs at the start of school/indoor soccer/Beavers is n+1 where n= the amount he currently has?

... that I can access the NFL, CFL, NHL and MBA sites from my work computer, but I'm blocked if I want to read something at TodaysChristianWoman.com?

... that the relationship between energy I have and work I have to do is completely flippin' inverse?

... that my wind-down time involves sweeping, baking, sewing badges on a Beaver uniform and blogging while Love of My Life's involves Watching Monday Night Football?

... that I can bring on a heat wave by being pregnant and bring on a cold snap by buying shoes with peeky toes because they were on sale? (And cute as heck!)

... that when I'm waiting to hear back from The Big NY Publisher, the hands on the clock move backwards?

(Cross-posted at Mama Needs A Book Contract)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Velveteen House

I came across an article today that really spoke to me. Here's a peek:

I recently took my first trip to Africa. One pre-dawn morning I decided to
stop trying to fight my body clock and got up early. As I sat by our hotel
window, I could see a shacklike house across the street, and its family
stirring. My first feelings were of sadness. The house contained no more than a
couple of rooms. There were piles of junk in every corner of their small ten-by-ten, bare-dirt yard. But as I continued to watch, my perspective changed. There were definite causes for sadness that trip, but this was not one of them.

As I watched the woman of the house, I realized what I was calling "junk" were their useful belongings. In the course of an hour, I saw the woman make good use of most of the tools in her yard—building a fire to prepare a meal for her family and tending to a small garden. The more I watched, the more I saw her care for her home and use her things well. Theirs was a "Velveteen House," where everything was well-used and full of purpose. In contrast, our culture creates "a house to look at" that covers the house in which we really live. For years I had towels that were not to be used, canisters lining shelves that held nothing, books that were purchased for the color of their cover, and most troubling, a guest room with no guests.

Read on...

I have been guilty in the past of wanting too much. I want 'things' for my house to try and make it a better home for my family. I want nicer pictures on the wall and more books for the bookshelf.

In reality, we need nothing more to make our home a warmer, friendlier, happier home. We just need to increase the love. So I've put a buying embargo on our house. We don't buy any more things unless it's something we can't cope without. If it's replacing something broken that can't be fixed, that's ok. But if it's just prettier or nicer than what we already have, I don't buy it. Surprisingly (or maybe not) this has stopped me from buying a lot of 'stuff'.

Notebooks and pens, books and daytimers, new coffee mugs and cutlery. When I'm at the store they seem the perfect things to complete my life... then I come home and see my cupboard bursting with mugs and my pen jar crammed full of pens that work just fine and I'm actually thankful that I have shown restraint.

This also makes my frugal and money-smart husband happy. Always a good thing!

Finishing Up With Harry

Last night I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I cried through the last 100 pages or so. Even having to stop at one point because I couldn't SEE the pages. Chapter 33 was especially hard because the very thing I wanted and wished and hoped to see happen since book one ... happened.

Now THAT is a series.

Part of my infatuation has been that I read all seven books in about seven weeks. I have even started having Harry Potter dreams since I read every night before bed. He's kept me up until almost midnight some nights. And I get up at 5 am, so that's saying something!

I have decided that I love series books. I adore series books. The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and the Harry Potter series are my most favourite. There's something about being on a long journey with someone. You feel like you are going through the experience with them. The good authors can ask you to suspend your belief for a moment and climb into their world. The good authors know their world so completely that they immerse you in the characters' lives flawlessly.

I don't know what I could possibly read next. I may take a reading break.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I Have Broken the Flux Capacitor

At this moment in my life I believe I am operating at full capacity. I don't think I have room for one more thing. Perhaps that's why Jordan Sadler's article, An Open Letter to My Son's PTA really struck a chord with me.

Some of us need to work full time. Some of us even need to work more than full time. For the past year and a bit I've been revelling in my abilities to work from home while raising my kids. You could say that I might even have been smug about it. I tried hard not to be. After all, I'd been a full time working single mother for a while so I knew that we all do the best we can at the time.

But even last year as I wrote my book and I juggled a full slate of columns and articles, I squeezed in a piddly four or five volunteer mornings in the Kindergarten classroom. The teachers were very accomodating and let me bring my daughter in while I volunteered. But it became apparent that we were more of a distraction than anything.

And I tried to get to the PTA meetings, I did. But, um, they coincided with my Thursday night off. And I love my Thursday night TV line up, it's my night to relax and veg and maybe even drink a beer glass of wine while hanging out with my husband.

And I admit, that activity had priority over listening to moms with pet projects complain about the lack of funding for security cameras/rubber bits for the playground/paint for walls... It seemed that there was already a clique of moms who had either raised their kids next door to each other, had their kids on the same team or volunteered at the same preschool. I did not fit in.

I tried. But I couldn't get revved up about their projects. I asked questions about why they were necessary or why we needed to paint the library wall two months before the end of school when a) the walls are covered in posters and b) the unionized maintenance staff will get around to it one of these years.

Anyways. I thought maybe I'd get involved this year.

But now I have n+1 projects on my plate where n = the maximum amount I should have and remain sane.

I now work from 6 am to 2 pm and let me tell you... me going around and saying I had "better hours" is somewhat of a pipe dream. Sure it's nice to leave the office at 2pm... but it's not so nice to leave the house at 5:45 am. They say I'll adjust.

I have one proposal sitting at four publishers. I have a query into my current publisher and I'm waiting to find out if they want a detailed proposal or an outline.

I have an article due on the 12th.

I also fly away for four days on the 12th.

I got sucked into going to a golf tournament for work on Monday. Forgetting that it's been four years since I've golfed...

I just begun my Pampered Chef training.

I am late in sending out my eNewsletter.

My juggling act is wobbly. My hold on sanity is tenuous. My veneer is cracking. I may be at maximum velocity, Captain.

(Cross posted at Mama Needs A Book Contract)

Monday, September 03, 2007

And now... for something controversial...

I have a daughter. Thankfully she's one and not a teenager, or even close to it. (Though she does put on some spectacular teenager-worthy tantrums!) So I currently don't have to worry about the HPV vaccine.

That doesn't stop me from thinking about it though. I worry because it seems to have been pushed through so fast. It went from "available" to "we think it should be compulsory" pretty darn quick.

Like the mother of many girls, I hope my daughter makes good choices when it comes to matters of the heart (or, let's face it, of other body parts too) and I do intend to promote abstinance. But I speak very openly about sex and other topics with my kids because I don't want them to learn stories from their friends. I will also discuss methods of birth control and what they protect against (besides babies).

I don't see the HPV vaccine as something that undermines abstinance. I just see it as a vaccine that we don't know a lot about. I hope that in ten years that we haven't learned that it was really something horrible. I have family members who have been harmed by medications that doctors promoted as safe... until problems cropped up years later.

But reading this article brought something home for me:
Dr. Foley says she'd never fault someone who vetoes the vaccine because of her
trust in her child's lifestyle choices, but she adds, "Given the number of circumstances we cannot control in our children's lives, I think the vaccine is a good idea." Some choose to vaccinate, even if their child has pledged chastity until marriage and monogamy afterwards, because of what they can't guarantee:

That their child won't be forced into a sexual situation.
That their child's marriage will be lifelong and mutually monogamous.
That their daughter won't be sexually active.

Can I guarantee those things? Can I protect my daughter from ever being assaulted? Gosh, I wish I could say yes... but I have to face reality. Can I guarantee that my daughter's marraige will be lifelong and mutually monagamous? I pray for it... but I cannot guarantee it.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

School Prep

At the end of last year the Kindergarten teacher told me that M. has issues with printing. I knew, of course, that he was a bit wobbly. However up until that final report card she assured me that it was normal boy behaviour.

Then I saw the words "will experience difficulty in Grade One due to poor writing skills". (Or something along those lines, I have already translated the teacher-speak for you here!) I realized that I'd been blissfully believing his printing would get better on its own. So as soon as school was out I started asking M. to print things for me every day. We started with a sentance and I let him choose what to print.

At first it was "I like my baby sister" and "I like to play outside" but soon it became "I like toys" and "I am cold"... shorter sentances that could get him out of his printing duties faster.

I smile. Then go buy lined printing paper so he can practice the ABCs.

And maze and connect the dot books so he can strengthen his fine motor skills.

I encourage him to color and draw me pictures.

But it dawns on me that my love of school and my love of writing is not genetically passed on. He is the lover of cars and spiders, the bike rider and Jedi Knight, the video game player and part-time Transformer.

I have, however, fostered a love of words. He has a huge vocabulary (which he uses mostly to impress friends and get out of trouble) because we read three books ever night.

I've tried explaining to him that I know he's smart and I love when he explains things to me, but in school you also have to explain things by writing them down to show the teacher. He accepts this and has just now accepted that you should also write in a line. Very often his words would all be there... just in their own order. Three letters, line break, three letters, line break. Last letter. I could read it, he could read it... but unfortunately that's not How It's Done.

So today he was practicing his c's and d's before he could play his video game and he was complaining about why he had to do it. I said that it's good to practice, that I'm proud of his letters and I want to see him write. He complained again.

Then I heard it come out of my mouth.

"I'll give you a quarter for every line you write."

Shoot. I didn't even think before that came out. I started adding up the number of lines he might write. I started thinking about whether or not it's unethical to pay your child to do his work. Will I start paying for A's and B's next? (We don't do A's and B's in Canada... we do percentages...) Will I end up with a kid that says "what's in it for me, show me the money?"

Hopefully not. I think I'll put a stop to it. Soon we'll have homework to do... I just have to vow not to pay him for doing his homework. Goodness... I'd be broke by grade three!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Agents etc...

I have an agent. I really, really like my agent for many reasons: honesty, open communication, thoughtful answers to my questions, enthusiasm for my work...

I reacted a little strongly at a local meeting when someone (as self-published individual) said "you really can't trust anyone in publishing any more". I beg to differ. You absolutely can. I trust my agent.

I targeted my agent specifically. I sought out an agent who had just what she has (experience with my type of book and my industry) and then I Google-stalked her to find out what she wanted from a writer. Then I did everything to become that writer.

And I got her right away. Now I'm not saying I was That Good. (<--woohoo, lookit me!) I'm saying I did my homework and spent time considering what needed changing and tweaking so that I could start with my best foot forward. (Not to be confused with sitting and stressing and worrying... but actual research, tweaking, writing and re-writing with purpose.)

It took about six weeks or so before I found her to when I signed with her.

My next literary goal is to finish my fiction manuscript. After that it's to find a fiction agent. I'm *hoping* that because I have proven that I can deliver a manuscript that I'll get just a fraction more than a first glance. I don't know if that's the case.

I do know that I'm starting my research now.

A Mom After My Own Heart

This frustrated, but very smart, mother is selling of the Pokemon cards that her kids snuck into her shopping cart at the grocery store.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Warning: Curves Ahead

I'm getting ready to be busy. Swamped. Distracted. Tired.

I'm headed back to my old job. Oh sure, I could look at it like giving up, like giving in... but those who might say that... don't live in Calgary. This place could surely be one of the most expensive cities to live in. And while I made the most ever in my last year of writing... It's not enough to survive. If surviving is ensuring I drive a safe truck, my kid can attend soccer camp and take gymnastics lessons.

In essence, I've put off my dreams just a little so I can give my kids a little more. I'm definitely not stopping writing, I have more books to write, more articles to write... but I'm just not doing it "full time". I tried to come up with reasons why I didn't do a better job over this past year and all I could come up with was "well, I just didn't... I had kids".

But this pending change has left me a little grumpy. I find myself sniping at friends and family. I find myself with a short temper.

Amidst this, my doctor believes I have premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. The typical treatment involves medication. Something not practical for me and a breastfeeding one year old. So my doctor has prescribed me Vitamin E and a B-50 Complex. After speaking with the most wonderful homeopathic pharmacist you'll ever meet I also picked up some iamara and sepia officinalis.

Just what does PMDD feel like? For about three days a month it feels like I'm going insane. I feel unable to cope, I feel mean, I feel angry. I feel like the best thing for me is to slam my bedroom door, crank up some Pink and scream into a pillow.

I normally hope that the urge occurs when my son is playing and my daughter is napping. It doesn't work that way though.

Here are some comments from others:

It was as if the normal ‘sane’ me was inside watching a psychotic me take over.

I would go off on him for absolutely no reason, or overreact to the point of being really hurtful.

At first I thought my emotions were simply out of whack and that I just needed to deal with it somehow. The past few months have been terrible in the sense that anger has turned into rage, sadness into depression, normal irritations bring on great frustration!

There’s a dark rage that takes over, turning everything black. Triggering stupid, impatient reactions to things that I can normally laugh off. I don’t even know who I am sometimes. I watch myself behave terribly, but I can do nothing to stop it. I have tried. I have tried so hard.

I’ve been trying to control my outbursts at others by going somewhere and crying until my eyes are swollen, then when I get home I scream at my son for no reason.

Ten days before my period I start to suffer severe anxiety and I can barely sleep or eat, I feel physically ill and I have the most awful panic attacks to the point where I just want to escape from my own mind. At these times I sincerely believe I have a terminal illness and that I am a bad, ugly person.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tasks and Such

I just posted a blog over at Mama Needs A Book Contract. Please stop by!

I've gotten away from listmaking in the last year, but started back up again last month. With my looming return to work, I feel as though I need some stability to help keep my sanity.

It's something that I talked about when I was interviewed last week about time management and effective communications. The interview is now up at Direct Sales Radio Show.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Fun With Words

I found a time-waster of a web site that you might be interested in:

Fun With Words: A Celebration of the English Language

And for a little politicking...

Background: I'm Canadian but pro-American, I like George Bush even if I don't like all of his policies. I didn't like Clinton even thought I liked one or two of his policies. I'm a capital-C Conservative in Canada, which makes me a lowercase-r republican with a socialist streak in the US.

I subscribe to an eNewsletter called Shelf Awareness, which is always interesting. Today they had an interview with Malcolm MacPherson:

Longtime journalist, war reporter and book author Malcolm MacPherson says the topic of Iraq in 2003--in the first flush of the U.S. occupation--is "like talking about the Revolutionary War." Yet, other than the disastrous decision to invade, the roots of the current problem lie in that period, which was when Ambassador Paul Bremer disbanded the Iraqi Army, leaving "500,000 men out of work, all with weapons in their homes, each with 30 people to support," as a CIA operative put it to MacPherson at the time. How better to help an insurgency start?

Wow. I had actually never thought of it that way.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Group Blogging

FYI... I'll ALSO be blogging over at the new Writing Mother Group Blog, come check us out!

www.mamaneedsabookcontract.blogspot.com

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Gone?

I think all the photos in my external hard drive are gone. I downloaded some pictures off of one of my cameras and thought "gee, what is that circle with an x doing on a couple of those pictures?" But I downloaded them anyway.

Now when I look mournfully in the folder when a few thousand pictures were once safely ensconced... I see, oh... thirty or so.

That drive was the only place I kept photos. No other back up. My writing is backed up to that drive, and the back up folder for that is right there... but alas, the photos are not.
THANKFULLY my publisher had me send all my photos to them in hard and digital copy so I can at least breathe knowing that's all taken care of.

But the photos of my son's first six years and my daughter's first year... not there.
I have a smarty pants tech guy coming tonight. When I spoke to him on the phone this morning he said, "you should prepare yourself... they might be gone."

I wonder if they bring tissues in their toolkits.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Announcing.... The Scribbler!

I'm so excited! I have a new *baby*!

Well, not a baby, baby... but a new project!

Sign up now for The Scribbler, the eNewsletter for writing mothers, by writing mothers.





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Psalm 23

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jodi Picoult

If you couldn't go to BEA (Book Expo America) and watch Jodi Picoult's Keynote speach, they now have it ONLINE.

It's 50 minutes and well worth it!

Don't write what you know... write what you are willing to learn!

Sometimes she spends more time researching her books than she does writing them. She has really done a lot of cool stuff in the name of fiction research! Watching open heart surgery, going to jail, ghosthunting...

And fascinating stuff about America's history in "racial hygine"... holy cow... who knew?!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Home Decorating

I did a snazzy redesign of The Writing Mother home site. I'm not a star when it comes to web site design, but I downloaded a free template designed for my web program and I customized it. Before it was bland... now it's kinda snazzy if I do say so myself!

It's clean, crisp and easy to read... and I had help from one of the list members with the header.

Tell me what you think!

And while you are at it... check out the resource section.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Christina Katz, Writer Mama, has a contest on. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Associations and Advocacy Groups

You know. I'm really getting tired of associations and advocacy groups. Not that I feel that they are unneccesary, I know that they are. And sometimes they have great networking opportunities and professional development. But lately I am just finding them tiring!

I tend to 'feel' when I read. If someone is writing an email about the wrongs of an association, I start to feel really anxious, I start to react to what they are saying. In reality, nothing has changed, someone is just relaying information. And what is very often the case is that it's a minute group who has a problem and they sound like a herd of elephants.

Some associations are more fractious than others and some go through periods of difficulty before finding their feet, again. Sometimes that happens over and over.

I'm involved in several organizations and it seems that they swap stressful times. When one has settled down... the other starts up. It is becoming really tempting to walk away and say "you know, I look out for me, that's it, that's all." But the problem is that I have a feeling like I need to give back. I feel like I *should* volunteer.

Lately I'm just wondering why. Why do I need to volunteer for a professional or sport organization?

How about Child Find Canada? How about groups that help rid the world of poverty and homelessness? How about a crisis line?

Why am I concerned about these other organizations when it would be so much more fulfilling and worthwhile to volunteer for a cause that matters in this world?

That is the question.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Car Seats

Please watch this video.

You may think that your child is too big for a five point harness carseat. You may think that now that he or she is 40 lbs that they can ride in just a booster or just a seat belt.

Please watch the video. I cried all the way through it.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

In Which The Weight Lifts

Ahhhhh.... I just got done the next draft of my second book proposal and sent it off to my agent for her review. With any luck it will be on its way out the door to some publishers this coming week!

I'm crossing my fingers for some bites. When my agent was at Book Expo America (BEA) she said that two houses were very interested. I should have gotten the proposal done much sooner, but honestly finishing up my book (Rookie Reiner) was top priority. I honestly had no idea that it would take so much work to get the permissions and signed releases for all the photos, graphics and illustrations. As well as the final ok's from people who were quoted or books that were referenced. It was all I did for about four weeks.

Now I know!

So I'm going to do two things this week:
  1. query my butt off
  2. work on book proposal #3

I am a member of a Query Challenge through FreelanceSuccess.com and our team has been in the lead since the start of the challenge. I've been a slacker (see: book proposal, Heather's slacking technique) but I'm back on the wagon. I had four queries this week plus the proposal.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

WARNING: Mattel Toy Recall

This is getting crazy. It's to the point where we should seriously question how we buy our kid's toys.

When you look for the recall list, you find that it's not really a list. Instead it says "Help me determine if I own product(s) affected by this recall."

Why don't you just put the list up? A little too long, hmmm?

Here's the official recall. Here's a list of the toys with pictures.

(Edited: It only affects toys sold from May 2007 and on... PHEW!!)

Hubba Hubba Hubby

This is a picture of Major Man just a couple of months before I met him in 1996. I think he's hot.

I still think he's hot, proving that it's not just the uniform, lol.

I found this photo at his parents' house and his mom had a couple of copies so she gave me one.

We are coming up to two years of marriage and I am trying to find something special for us to do. Eventually we would like to go back to the place we met - Lido de Jesolo, Italy. But right now that's a little out of our budget. We were going to go in 2006 but I was quite preggo!

I think that I find him even more attractive today. Now he's a dad who can do laundry!!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Back from vacation

Just got back this afternoon from a week-long vacation in the mid-west. Indiana to be exact. Now I'm a Canadian prairie girl so the mid-west feels very homey to me. It's different than home, of course, being that it isn't home... I love the huge trees that seem plucked right off of a romance cover and the humidity that does loverly things to my hair. (I kind of like it curly and unruly!)

One of the highlights of my trip was getting together for lunch with Shirley Jump. We actually didn't talk shop a lot, but she was very helpful with advice on family matters!

Sometimes family matters can really get you down. If perfect strangers were doing the same things our family did, we could let it slide. But because it's family, it's close to the bone.

I learned an important lesson this week. I am the most important advocate for my children. I can stand up firmly and draw the lines around my family so that my children know just how much I value them.

And to my former mother in law: I am SORRY. I had NO IDEA what I had in you. You are a wonderful grandmother, let me never take you for granted, I'm so happy you are in our lives. Granted, I wouldn't have stayed married to your son just for you (because honestly, we're better friends now than we were when we were married) but you are worth your weight in gold not just as a grandma, but as a mother in law. How precious it is to have an ally.

Now. I had so many ideas for articles while I was on vacation! I am just dancing at centre here, waiting to get some queries out the door. I put myself on a writing diet on vacation and did not write a word, didn't even start up my laptop! I wanted to some times, but I didn't... and it feels so good to be back at the keyboard today!
The kids had fun as well... getting to know their cousins. I think their cousins are sweethearts and I really enjoyed getting to know them as well!
Emily took her first steps this past week. Actually the first couple of steps were on a boat and we kind of looked at each other and said "now is that because the boat moved and she rebalanced herself, or did she just take a couple of steps?"She's taken to grinning at people with MY OWN CRINKLY GRIN. This face is identical to about fifty of my baby pictures. Major Man calls it the "who farted grin".

And the almost-six-year-old wouldn't get off the pool steps on day one, but was dog-paddling all over the pool by the last day! I have plenty of smiling pictures of him, but I feel like showing you the "I pout, therefore I am" one that I got when he decided that is cousin wasn't being fair.

I had no idea it was so hard to teach the rules of fairness and sharing. He's a conundrum, my son.

Monday, July 23, 2007

How to Loosen Lips

In 2004, investigative journalist Eric Nalder interviewed a whistleblower from ConocoPhillips, the nation's third-largest oil company. Nader's investigation revealed that oil industry safety nets were being undermined. EXPOSÉ episode, "A Sea of Troubles." featured Nalder's investigation into the enforcement of safety regulations on oil tankers which uncovered serious safety lapses and cover-ups.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Eric Nalder is known for his ability to get people to open up and tell all they know, on the record. His book, TANKERS FULL OF TROUBLE, won the Investigative Reporters and Editors book award in 1994. He has taught interviewing and investigative reporting workshops in five countries, each year adding new techniques learned from journalists, cops, FBI agents, and lawyers. "Loosening Lips" is Nalder's workshop on the art of the interview.
Read his tips on how to conduct an interview and get the most out of your interview subject. He has some great tips!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Of Other Mothers

Joshilyn (Joss, never Josh) Jackson has an interview up today on her blog Faster Than Kudzu. If you don't read Joss' blog, then you are missin' out on some funny stuff.

Julie Kenner is back to talk about the latest in her Demon Hunting Soccer Mom series and she talks about how her life as a writer changed after she had a child:

My schedule has changed dramatically over the years. At first, I was practicing law while writing and my husband was in grad school. We would both come home from work/school and write/study. Worked great :)

Then I had a baby, and life got hectic. I wrote in the evenings after she went to sleep until I could afford to quit and write full time. Then I had her in day care and would write during the day.

She has turned 5 and is in school now, but since we homeschool, she’s home with me during the day, and so is her sister, who we adopted at age three last October. So now I have two kids at home with me doing school (or preK play) during what used to be my writing time. So I’m back to writing in the evenings and squeezing it in.

Right now, a day might be:

7:30 — get up and veg in the recliner while the girls watch Curious George.
8:00 – noonish — school with the oldest while the littlest does “play school” and some speech and sign language games.
noon-1 — lunch, and I’ll usually answer emails while they eat
1-2 – any school we haven’t finished
2-5 – they play, sometimes by themselves, sometimes with me. I try to do non-writing writing stuff (emails,mailings, etc.). Or errands.
5-6 – daddy time. I write
Family time until their bedtime.
9-whenever. My writing time.

When I’m on a crazy deadline (like last week) going to bed at 2-3 is common. And I often will beg my mom to come over around lunch time once or twice a week to play with the girls so those afternoon hours can be writing time. During those weeks we squeeze in karate, piano and speech therapy for the little one!

It’s insane, but I’m loving it.

I heartily encourage you to go read it the rest of it. This past month I've also been begging my mother to come over and help with the kids, or I ship them over there for a break. She brings them back bathed, pajama'd, tired and ready for bed. That is a big secret to my success! (Thanks mom!)