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.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Sound of Writing

Thank you.

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.


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:

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


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.


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