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!)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Baby + Manuscript = Paper Party

No worries. I was finished editing and making the changes on my digital copy, LOL... Otherwise I might have freaked out.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My dream home

I regularly search MLS for one house. One house that I have always loved. I key in the small town that it resides in and I see if someone has chosen to part with her.

Yesterday I found that they had.

This is the house that holds all my happy childhood memories. Every one of them. I spent at least a dozen summers at this house. It was owned by my grandma and grandpa. It was a different color back then. Browns and yellows. It was built in 1902. Those big windows at the top was grandma and grandpa's room. I only got to sleep there when I wasn't feeling well. Below the windows is the door that used to have the clear glass handle. It opened into a front porch that we didn't use. It smelled of dry paint and cobwebs and it was always warm. It smelled warm even.

You can see the solar panels on the garage to the right. They used that to heat the pool. That garage also had "the pit". The big hole in the ground that grandpa would climb down in to if he wanted to work on a car or truck.

This is the back yard. The fire pit wasn't there when we were, but this is just a stone's throw from the trees (to the right of the picture) where a bee stung my lip. I remember it vividly and I remember going inside where grandma had me drink orange juice. My lip swelled up so much I couldn't drink. Almost exactly where this fire pit is was where we put the sprinkler. My cousin and I would run naked through it (hey, we were five). If you were walk into this picture right now and keep walking straight through those trees, you would come to her house. In the very, very top left corner of this picture is my tree. See that little 'V'? I used to sit there and watch the world around me. The prairie was flat as anything and you could see for miles. You could hear for miles too so grandma didn't have to yell very loud to tell me to get out of that tree before I fell and broke my neck.

This room was an addition when I was about eight I think. The windows weren't there. The fireplace was. I remember a bird flying in through that fireplace and grandma when crazy. She didn't like birds. But to the left of the fireplace was a shelf with the tv on it. During the hot prairie summers we would cool down in this room, hot from the baking sun, and watch Gilligan's Island.

Ah. The pool. I was the very first person in this pool when it was built. It used to be a big garden, I can remember that grandpa would dig up the potatoes in the garden. One time he was digging and I reached my hand in to grab a potatoe and he almost smashed my hand with the shovel. I was reminded to keep back... but I wanted to grab the potatoe and smell it, all earthy and cold. When I first climbed in the pool there were bugs in it, and it was cold as heck. I remember the shallow end came up to my arm pits. But it was so cold you tried to walk on your tippy-toes to get the least amount of you wet. The crack in the sidewalk is still there. I stubbed my toe too many times. My cousin and I had reading marathons on this deck. I always wanted to beat her. I wanted to be better at something. Even when I was young I knew she had the better life. Her parents were still married and she lived next door to grandma and grandpa. My parents were divorced and I had to drive hours and hours to get here.

When I saw this picture I cried. This window overlooks the deck and the garage. I pressed my face to it every single night to try and see the stars and the lights from the closest town. I used to read Reader's Digest sitting at the top of the stairs when everyone else was asleep. I can still feel the cold against my cheek and taste the condensation. I remember that if you rub your hand along that wallpaper it makes a "zip" sound. And that stair rail? I got my head stuck in that rail when I was five or six.

This is the view from inside grandma and grandpa's room. Grandma has a closet to the left that had dresses and shoes that I'd never seen her wear.

This deck. This deck got HOT in the summer. And just to the right of it is the big picture window from the dining room. We used to go in and out of here, dripping from the pool to the couches with our towels.

And here's the dining room. That built in cupboard in the corner used to hold grandma and grandpa's wedding picture and china. I can still remember grandma sitting in the far chair every single morning I got up. I'd come down and she'd be sitting there. Welcoming and loving.

I think that part of the reason this is so hard for me is because we just moved grandma into one of those assisted living homes. I realized as we did it that she'd never move out. This was her one last move. The room is so small, so hot and so not enough for a woman like her.

Things of Importance

I'm involved in several different associations. Sport associations, professional associations, political associations. All are very different. They have one thread in common: they fight amongst themselves.

Today I've been thinking about the things that are really important in life. These things are not committees and associations.

I came across this story, called Four Feet Under. It's a news piece about the deaths of 14 children in 2005 who were involved with CPS in San Antonio. It struck me suddenly: What if all those people on all those committees that fight amongst themselves fought for children like these? How many could be saved?

Here's the link for the video about two of the children.

The full story about the fourteen beautiful, innocent children can be found here.

Who speaks for these kids? Who bears witness to their life?

Monday, July 09, 2007

What a 245 page manuscript looks like

The view from my desk:

The view at my feet:

Tough Enough To Wear Pink:

Our recent visitor:

Suitable breakfast attire for the Stampede:

Friday, July 06, 2007

Interview: The Writing Mother

No, I'm not interviewing myself... but Kelly Robbins of the Copywriting Institute interviewed me a while back and my interview is now up!

Find out how I cope with writing at home with my kids, and how I broke into my niche market!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Oh I'm a little cranky today. It was one of THOSE days where nothing gets done. Where every time I ventured within a foot of my computer I would be pulled away by one of the kids.

My son is pretty easy to appease. He can pretty much be pointed in a direction and he'll run with it. My daughter, 10.5 months, not so much. Her favorite thing to do as soon as I sit at the computer is to crawl over and head for the cables beneath the desk I really wish I was organized enough to have my cables all neat and tidy and tucked. But I'm not.

I try to block her with my legs, but I can't really move since I'm usually worried about moving my chair and rolling it over a finger.

That lasts all of a minute before she objects and I pick her up and go play. Apparently she doesn't yet understand "Mommy has to transcribe three long interviews, honey!"

So why am I sitting here blogging...?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Just us chickens

I think that the midnight hour is a time seen by many writers. Especially the Writing Mothers. It's the quiet, still time of night when everyone is asleep and you are either just finishing up for the day, or just getting wound up.

Back when I worked full time and wrote "the rest of the time" I would rarely go to bed before midnight. It was just the way it was. My son was in bed, asleep by 8 pm and I would be sitting at the computer with the TV providing some background noise (and distraction).

These days I don't often see midnight as much as I used to. I get more done during the day. Normally. Today was not a normal day.

I had a photo shoot for my book, which was a blast. My model is one of the top professional horse trainers in Canada. In fact she is THE top rider. And she's gorgeous. And a sweetheart. You can't even hate her.

I battled traffic and road closures and was (unfortunately) late for our shoot, but we got it all done.

Earlier in the day a family friend had called. She's an accountant and had offered to help walk me through the hell that is QuickBooks. (Oh sure, you all SAY it's easy but you overestimate my mathability) She called and said "So, we're on for tonight, right?"
She'd forgotten to call and ask if Tuesday was ok for me. I made it ok. We walked through the process and I learned a great deal about what I can and can't do in the program. I have some data entry to get done... but other than that... I think I'll be ok.
The issues stem from the fact that there are many ways I receive money from publications. One, I send in an invoice when I submit my story and I'm paid on publication. Another is paid on acceptance. Another pays in US dollars and another pays in US dollars but on published word count only.. if they use it.
It's all straight in my head, really.
I started a new book yesterday. Jodi Picoult's Perfect Match. Boy, this is one emotionally draining book. But it's SO good. I'm not reading any more tonight as it's time for me to hit the sack, but you can bet it will be calling me in the morning!