Saturday, January 31, 2009

Side effects

I've found a side effect of doing one of those "25 things" lists is that you start remembering all the crazy little things from your childhood or young adulthood that you had long since forgotten. Memories beget memories I guess.

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I think. I always thought that if I had a skill, then I'd just go DO that and I was certain someone would pay me. Now, that didn't mean I always had the courage to take risks, or the smarts to know what to do to make my business stay afloat. I am horrible at bookkeeping and accounting. And though there may be some mental block created when you say "I'm horrible at..." I think it's more that, well, I hate numbers. They didn't really do testing when I was a child, but I'm certain I have a math disability of some sort.

As a child I lived briefly in a small town called Bradwell. It actually didn't really qualify as a town, I think that the correct term is "hamlet". There were less than 150 people living there and everyone knew everyone. We lived in a little trailer that was across the street from my cousins (who had a larger house) and down the street from grandma and grandpa's big house. One day I decided to set up a shop.

I was selling rocks. I had some sort of shelf and upon it I placed my carefully selected rocks. I am not sure if I painted them or not, though I do recall some kind of painting that involved mud. But this was small town Saskatchewan and we had enough mud to go around.

Now, understand that no one drove their car through town. You drove out of town, you drove into town, but you didn't exactly cruise the dozen or so streets that made up the village. No one passed by.

So, as you guessed it, that little venture failed. Or I became bored of standing in the summer sun. Not exactly a "little girl sells lemonade and makes a million dollars" type of story, but it does have a purpose.

You can try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and find success - as long as you keep trying. I have a family member who once accused me of hopping from thing to thing, job to job, infatuation to infatuation and expecting my family to care about every little venture. Now, he was trying to be hurtful and to some extent it worked. But when I thought about it later, I realized that what he was accusing me of wasn't all that horrible.

Yep, I've tried many different jobs, lived in different places and been going in many different directions in my life. I've been a horse trainer, office girl, feedlot worker, feed truck driver, cook, bartender, waitress, day care provider, teacher, student, sales person, manager. And to be honest, I'm never really satisfied with what I'm doing because no matter what job title I've held, for the most part you could add "and writer" onto the end of it - that's always been the suffix of who I am.

But I'm not sure I'll ever JUST write full time because at the moment I am quite enjoying my job and all it's benefits - never mind that I adore the company and think there's more for me there. It offers me the ability to exercise my entrepreneurial muscle without a whole ton of risk, I get to be creative and write, and (let's face it) I have a job that let's me have some sense of responsibility. (read: I get to be in charge of my little corner)

And it took me a while to realize that sales is a part of who I am. My husband doesnt quite understand this as he despises sales and salespeople. But really, he just hates to be sold, which is quite different. Sales, to me, is simply providing for others what they need. Or meeting the needs of others.

Which is why I feel that being a writer - especially a freelance writer - is so much more about SALES than it is about actually writing. Because you can be a writer and not be a freelance writer. There are millions of writers in this world from the teenager writing poetry in her diary to the best selling author with forty books under her belt. But to be a writer who SELLS her work, you must.... sell.

Now, it really goes without saying that all writers must have a focus on improving their writing. Good writing will always sell if the writer puts the words on the market. How do I know this? Because even bad writing sells when it's put on the market. Witness the transactions occuring on sites like where yes, yes, yes, some writers have gotten their start. But the vast majority of transactions that occur there are low-paying work for bad writing. Yes, I said it, bad writing. Because the vast majority of writers who start there, are newbies who are trying to get a foothold in the market, who think they have to sell some rocks before they can move up to selling a mountain.

But if you have a mountain inside you? Then just start there and sell that.

Huh. I think I have another book to write...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Random Bits of Life

The other day I stopped by my bank and as I was heading back to my van, I looked into the car next to me. There was an older couple in the little red Vibe and between them, on the centre console was a cat, just happy as can be looking out the window. In the back, was a very large bulldog. How odd, I thought, to travel around with a bulldog and a cat. I've never taken a trip with a cat yet that didn't involve it velcro'd to my face or head in some fashion.


A young girl stopped by the house some weeks ago asking to see my son. She is probably about nine and my son is seven. She was wearing lipstick. Despite this, I still think she's a nice girl. My son seems to think she's ok as well. Her dad owns a nearby store and I had stopped in to pick something up yesterday. Normally this girl is in there but this night, her sister or cousin was there instead. As I climbed back into the van my son said "I knew that wasn't her. Taylor is much wider than that girl."

Ummmm. Not sure how to have that talk with him. Might start with "here's a tip: never, ever describe a girl in terms of width."


Sunday, January 18, 2009

25 Things You Don't Know About Me

I've avoided writing one of these... but I've been tagged several times now and my reluctance is being overshadowed by my guilt for not responding. Damn you fellow bloggers!

The reason I struggle is that I think I live my life fairly transparently. I'm a bit of an over-sharer to tell you the truth. I can always be counted on to say something that will result in at least one "oh no, she did NOT just say..."

I've been trying to curb that little habit.

So, off we go:

1. I've suntanned topless.
2. I've been kicked out of a country.
3. As a teenager I once got so drunk I peed the bed. "oh no, she did NOT just say..."
4. I've NEVER been that drunk again.
5. Except when Jim was pouring.
6. I do not have a drinking problem. Really. And I'm not bragging about being drunk either. I think stupidity can happen once a decade...
7. Six was kind of a cheater one, so is this. In keeping with this theme, I've never, ever cheated on a test.
8. I cannot stand to be late. For anything. Both my kids were born late. The little turds.
9. In the past week I've watched Transformers over ten times. I just like the movie and I have to have background noise, even when I'm sleeping and hacking on the couch.
10. There are days that I understand WHY someone could hit a child. It takes every ounce of effort to not smack one of mine.
11. Just after I wrote that, my daughter had a melt down. I did not smack her, don't worry.
12. I am a horrible housekeeper. I regularly have more laundry lying in front of the washing machine than I do in my closets. I think that's the only way I have room for all the clothes.
13. The only way I know to do things is by jumping in over my head.
14. I have two compression fractures in my back. Or had, I think they fuse or something. I don't have any pain.
15. I'm running my first 10k in March and I haven't been running in over a month. (see: jumps in over head)
16. I love writing and I hate writing, all at the same time. I love to hate or I hate to love. It makes me crazy and I can't NOT do it.
17. I did not cheat on my first boyfriend, but I wanted to. And that's why I broke up with him. And then I didn't do anything with anyone... I don't deal well with guilt.
18. My daughter is SO MUCH like me that I worry for her future. She's destined to make her life more difficult than it needs to be.
19. My second cousin, Keith, is very, very different from me. He's here on the left...
20. Many days I can go until 3 pm and only drink coffee.... it's not healthy at all and I'm trying to change that.
21. My biggest, most favourite "splurge" is an afternoon nap.
22. I suspect that I have ADHD-I. But then again, so does every other writing mother I think... I'm to afraid to get tested because I don't want to use it as an excuse. I just want to will myself to do better job at being organized and staying focused.
23. I think people that volunteer or give money to help animals are chickens. I think it's much more brave and compassionate to volunteer to help out the homeless or drug addicts or any other fallible human being. It's easy to love a puppy. Not so easy to hold the hand of a drug addict and say, "I care".
24. I can be very judgmental. I'm working on that.
25. I worry that I will end up alone and that all my friends and family will eventually leave me.

So, that's the list! Now... who to tag...

(On Facebook I did a second list, which I thought was much better.)

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. I cry very easily. I cry when I’m happy, sad, frustrated, excited or angry. I cry every Sunday at Church because the music is always so beautiful.

2. I refuse to take the Lord's name in vain, but I will say the f-word when angry.

3. I think that the hardest job on the planet is being a GOOD MOTHER. You can be a mom with a uterus and a few too many shots of tequila, but to be a good mother is very, very hard and I’m never sure I’m actually doing it.

4. One of my biggest faults is that I’m convinced everyone else is happier than me, having more fun and doing more important things with their lives. I’ve always been afraid to be left behind.

5. I’m a huge procrastinator. I think it has something to do with part of my creative process as a writer, but that doesn’t explain why I fill the sink up with water and leave the dishes in there overnight. Procrastination makes me furious. I once bought a present for a friend and kept meaning to send it to her. And then she died. I can’t forgive myself for that.

6. I wish I were a kinder mother and person. Some of my employees nicknamed me The General. I’m also the disciplinarian at home.

7. I didn’t think I was a Type-A person until I said that to a friend and she laughed her butt off at me.

8. I have high expectations for people, but they are never as high as the ones I have for myself. I worry that I’ll accomplish something big and never be able to enjoy it. I think we should enjoy our successes.

9. I am inherently lazy. My biggest guilty pleasure is an afternoon nap. I would never finish anything without an external deadline.

10. Thank the good Lord that I have an internal editor because if I said have the things that were in my head … I’m sure I would be institutionalized.

11. I sort of cheated and wrote one of these already and then all my friends wrote theirs and I needed a second draft.

12. My parents used to live in a tent in the Northwest Territories. Or maybe the Yukon. I can’t remember (cause I wasn’t there).

13. I’ve lived in Canada, Barbados and Austria. But I’ve lived in Calgary, Alberta since 1988 and have lived in over 30 houses in this city alone. I finally bought a house last fall and I’m not moving for a good long time.

14. I almost joined the Army. I had applied for a job overseas and gone for an interview with the Armed Forces… I was 18 and couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do so I decided whichever job called me first would be the one I’d do. The job overseas called.

15. I met my husband while I was overseas because I got kicked out of the country I was working in (Austria) for not having a work visa. We went on a roadtrip to Italy and that’s where I met Randy. I loved him the moment I saw him.

16. Years later I read one of the letters I sent to him after I went back to work in Austria and I know why he ran screaming way.

17. I didn’t marry him until 9 years, another marriage and one child later. God Bless The Broken Road by Rascal Flatts is our song.

18. I loved him for a long time and always wanted to be an Army Wife. And then when I married him (we eloped), he wasn’t in the army any more. Oh well, I’d take him over the army any day.

19. My mother calls my daughter “payback”. During the writing of these 25 things she has puked, thrown a temper tantrum, been sweet as an angel and now I’ve walked her back to her bed for the seventh time. Payback is a youknowhat, that’s for sure.

20. I think Obama is very attractive. I thought Clinton was a Pervy McPervyton the first moment I saw him. Canada has never had an attractive Prime Minister.

21. Of course, I’ve always found American men more attractive than Canadian ones. Canadian accents are never attractive.

22. My favorite movie of all time is Transformers. I cried in the theatre when they captured Bumblebee.

23. It’s been well over a year since I rode a horse and I’m afraid that I’ll never own one again.

24. I loved school. I would love to go back to school full-time. But I have no idea what I’d take. I’ve alternated between: veterinarian, war correspondent, journalist, photographer, nurse, doctor, teacher and politician. But the only thing I know how to do well is write.

25. I am absolutely addicted to buying books. I have close to 1000 and many I haven’t read yet.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Puppy Love

This is a cute little lovestory. I'm a sucker for cute little love stories!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Open Letter to Airlines

I'm writing to you because you are listed as a customer of Cascade Aerospace.

I am aware that Cascade Aerospace has had several health and safety violations and accidents at their Abbotsford hanger. In fact, their workers are constantly exposed to dangerous chemicals that leave them disoriented and sick *while working on aircraft*. The company has, at times, insisted that they keep working and has fired workers who leave when sick.

This situation was recently profiled on Kathy Tomlinson's Go Public show.

Please don't just read the article and watch the video but read the comments made my previous employees and current employees who are too afraid to leave their names. Note that WorkSafeBC also responded in the comments but did not even get the name of the company correct.

I would ask that you consider switching service providers or contacting Cascade and insisting that they fix the problems at that hangar. Do not believe them when they try to discredit the former employees that were featured on that program. My father, Paul Atton, is one of those employees and has lost everything: his health, his wife and his career. He was an aircraft maintenance engineer and passionate about his work. He was very, very good at it and has always had a high level of integrity.

Now he spends days in bed, sometimes cannot get out of bed in pain. He is homeless but chooses to stay in BC where he can continue his fight against Cascade and where his doctor is, the only one who has been able to get him to a semi-functioning state. However his mind still wanders, he still experiences rages and mood swings and he is half the man he once was. He has been told that he will likely be diagnosed with Alzheimer's in five years.

This is the man who used to bike miles to work in the snow or climb a mountain or rock wall. He learned to snowboard when he was 50. There are days he cannot walk to get the mail.

We grew up around the airport and I love to fly. My daughter few on 18 flights before she was 18 months old. I love the industry.

I hope to hear from you.

Heather Cook

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ahhh that brings back memories.

Watching Law & Order and there's a character named Heather. She used to be a little chubby. She ran away from home after her sister called her a name.

I remember that name.


Monday, January 05, 2009

Boys and Girls

Army Boy is almost seven AND A HALF and he's all gangly arms, pseudo-cool moves, bruises and spacey teeth. I'm pretty used to having a gaggly gaggle of boys running around the house, down the block, at the park...

The other day the doorbell rang. When I opened the door, there stood a girl. At LEAST a year older.

Wearing lipstick.

To see my baby boy.

He wasn't home, so I gave her our phone number. Hey, it's cold here and no one wants to walk two blocks when it's -30C. Well. Now they sit on the phone and chat. Army Boy plays XBox while the phone sits beside him with the speaker on. They complain about little sisters. They talk about school.

And so it begins.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The making (or not) of goals

For the first time in a long time, I'm having difficulty creating any goals for 2009. It could be that I'm having a very rough week and my only goals at the moment are getting through the next 24 hours. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So I'm going to review some goals from past years.


1. Credit Cards paid off by March 31st. This would effectively
take me out of debt - on paper. There's still a Legal Aid bill from my
divorce, but there is no interest charged so it can continue to be
paid off in pre-authorized payments. My car is in my name and registered to
me, but the loan is not - therefore it does not show up as
'my' debt.

2. 10% increase in income from writing. Rather than do 10% more,
I'm going to become more efficient (buying the laptop was a start) and more
effective (by charging more).

3. One more column. I have two: both horse related. I'd like to
develop one either online or in print that is not related to the horse
industry. Maybe writing related.

4. Finish 2 non-fiction books that are currently in the works and
start developing my fiction writing.*

*I finished one proposal and the other one was crap


Apparently I made no resolutions!


  1. Write Rookie Reiner (yeah, I should think so... I'm contracted to do it now!)
  2. Increase writing income by 10-15%
  3. Learn to do my own taxes
  4. Reach the milestone of 300 published articles (I'm at about 210)
  5. Finish my ICEA coursework and attend the September convention.
  6. Finish two more Book Proposals (one horse book and one non-horse book*)
  7. Set up new accounting system**.
  8. Pay off two credit cards, the line of credit and cancel one card.
  9. Move. (as in... out of this house...)***
  10. Write more about common things people care about and less about politics.
*still does not exist
** yes, if by "new accounting system" you mean, continue to throw receipts on to a pile called "ignore".
*** I did, into another rental...


I didn't make any resolutions that I can find. I did write about 2008 being my Year of Hope though.

I did buy a house, finish my second book (and edits on the first), celebrate 3 years of marriage and my first year as a manager at work.

So I have tried a couple of different ways of resolving to resolve. I've made goals, I've set themes, I've NOT made goals. I can honestly say I do not know what works best for me. At the moment I can't see my way out of my little raincloud to decide what I want to do.

The skies will clear soon. I hope.