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!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


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.

Subscribe to:
The Writing Mother



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 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.