Dec 10, 2010

"The Rest is Still Unwritten"

Sound familiar? It’s from a Natasha Bedingfield song, “Unwritten”. I included it in the playlist I created to accompany (or compliment, rather) my recently published book, Amber Frost. Why? Because it’s a great song that will be stuck in your head all day now, and the lyrics are surprisingly insightful and well-suited to the mood of my book.

“Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten.”

I haven’t blogged in a while; I could barely find the time to complain about how little time I’ve had recently! In other words, a lot has been left unwritten. Anyway, I’m back, and since my novel was released this week, I thought a fitting topic to blog about would be to discuss how I write and what the process looks like for me. So here we go…

Every story starts with an idea (shocking, I know). For me, the idea can come in many different forms – an image, a sentence, a character, a scene. I think about my “idea” for a long time before I actually begin writing anything down. This may sound like procrastination but the majority of my writing is honestly done in my head. I develop characters, work on story lines and plan out dialogues while I’m out on walks, or trying to fall asleep at night, or even when I’m driving (no worries, I’m a great multi-tasker). It was for this reason that I bought a digital voice recorder – because I often have these great ideas but I’m not able to write them down when they occur (not because I love the sound of my own voice as my husband may try to tell you).

Once I’ve developed enough of an outline, I begin writing. I write straight through from Chapter One until “The End”. I don’t go back and re-read or edit until I’ve finished, for fear of becoming too caught up in making changes (I’ll admit, I can be a bit of an anal perfectionist). Typically, I’ll spend anywhere from 1-6 hrs a day writing. Some days, I’ll write as much as 50 pages, others I’ll write only a paragraph or two. If I sit down to write and nothing comes to me, I’ll put my work away until the next day, and do a lot of “writing in my head” in the meantime. I find if I force myself to write, the writing comes out forced (I know, another brilliant insight).

Moving on, once I’ve completed the story, I go back through and do an edit based solely on grammar and punctuation. While I work, I make a list of “problems” – inconsistencies in the story line, areas I’m not completely satisfied with, details that I feel need to be added in or taken out or clarified – and I go back and rework these areas on my second read through. When I was working on Amber Frost, I actually had the manuscript printed and spiral-bound after the second read-through and re-read the physical copy with a pencil in hand for the third edit. I wrote all over my manuscript – it looked like I had practically rewritten my novel. It was just what I needed.

The fourth edit was all about removing extraneous material and getting my word count and chapter lengths to a workable level. For Amber Frost, I think I dropped about 100 pages. The fifth and final read-through was my last chance to make any more changes before submitting my manuscript to publishers.

Submissions are a process in and of themselves. You must first spend HOURS researching potential publishers, deciding which might be appropriate to query, and then preparing a submission package based upon each publishers’ individual requirements (sample chapters, outlines, synopsis’s of varying lengths, cover letters, queries, etc.). Not to mention all the emails, stamps and envelopes to send out. It’s a nightmare but well worth the effort… if it pays off which most likely, it will not. Great motivation, right? But when you’ve already put this much work into something and when you’re passionate about the work you have done, it’s all just part of the fun.

Once I finally found a home for Amber Frost (at ireadiwrite Publishing), the process was far from over. I was to read-through my manuscript again, make more changes, have my manuscript professionally edited, make more changes, and then do two more read-through’s and make the final changes before its release date.

It has been a journey and a half. Two years ago was when my book began. Three days ago was when my book was published. The rest is still unwritten.


*Amber Frost is available now, anywhere that ebooks are sold. Purchase half-price ($2.50) from ireadiwrite Publishing's website until Christmas.
Click HERE to purchase now.


Nov 14, 2010

My Darkness

As my YA novel, AMBER FROST 's release date is approaching (Dec.7), my days are getting busier and busier.  Lately it feels like each day is becoming a little more stressful. The pressure on my shoulders weighs me down a fraction more. It’s nothing I can’t handle; pressure has always brought out the best in me but it is causing the shadows in my past to stir…

This week I’ve decided to write something a little different than what you may have come to expect from me. I think some of my best writing comes out through the more honest, expressive and ultimately, more frightening pieces to write and to share.

And so I begin.

I’ve suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for most of my life. The first time I can clearly remember dealing with anxiety was when I was about six. I was terrified to be left alone at night time. I would become overwhelmed by anxiety and fear when I was trying to fall asleep. This manifested in several ways; a fear of the dark, night terrors, to some extent insomnia. At the age of six, my anxiety was lessened by a very special teddy bear that my Mummy gave me to sleep with – I still believed in the power of my Mummy’s magic and took comfort from the companionship of a cuddly, stuffed friend. This reprise wouldn’t last forever though.

For the first eighteen years of my life, I also suffered from social anxiety disorder; in other words, I was excessively, almost debilitatingly, shy. I was terrified of looking stupid in front of other people. I imagined that no one liked me, and the idea of having to speak up in front of a group of my peers was a real, living nightmare to me. In my teenaged years, my social-anxiety slowly lessened. I never got completely past it until I was about 21 though, and that was because I finally started taking medication for my disorder.

And then there were my panic attacks too. I started having panic attacks when I was thirteen years old. There was no definable trigger for me. I would suddenly start to feel dizzy or “strange”. My pulse would start rapidly increasing and I’d find it hard to catch my breath. A wave of terrifying fear and the certainty that I was about to die would hit me. I would struggle to breathe. My hands would start to tingle, then fill with painful pins-and-needles pricks and finally would curl into rigid claws as I hyperventilated. I would feel like I was about to pass out and would sometimes become so dizzy that black spots would appear in front of my eyes and the world would suddenly feel distant and far away, fuzzy even. It could happen anywhere at anytime; the fear of it alone was enough to cause a panic attack if I thought on it too long. My panic attacks lasted anywhere from less than a minute to half an hour and at the worst point, they occurred several times a day.

Eventually (when I was about 21) I began taking medication for my anxiety disorder. I was amazed with the results. I hadn’t even realized how bad I’d become; I had forgotten what it was like to live “normally”. Having said that, after taking medication for about 4 years, it was very difficult to come off it and I suffered through some pretty strenuous withdrawals when I did eventually wean myself off.

I made the decision to stop taking medication when the Hubbie and I wanted to start trying for a family. Amazingly, I never once suffered a panic attack while pregnant. I was very concerned about the possibility of post-partum anxiety but that wasn’t an issue for me either. In fact, I haven’t taken any medication in over three years now and this is the least amount of anxiety I’ve ever had to deal with in my life.

It doesn’t mean I’m completely better. Likely, this is something I will always deal with to some extent but right now it is more than manageable and I’m feeling pretty good about how things are going.

So that’s my experience with anxiety and panic attacks, and medication too for that matter. This disorder is a lot more common than you think (I’ve met dozens of people in the past few years who at some point have suffered from similar conditions) and it’s also often misunderstood. Anxiety can manifest in many different ways. It is often (as it was for me) a quiet and private struggle that many people dismiss though at times, my disorder was quite serious and without a doubt, affected every part of my life.

The Hubbie likes to joke that I’m “crazy” and I’m ok with that. We both know I have issues – who doesn’t? In all seriousness though, I’d love to take away just a little of the stigma associated with mental health conditions, medication and therapy. So here I am, throwing my own experience out there, as frightening as it might be. I just hope that you might gain something from hearing a little about it and will maybe understand who I am, just a little bit more.


Oct 31, 2010

The Scariest Halloween Ever

It was Halloween morning and I was in my son’s room, changing his diaper. The Little Man was in a pleasant mood having had a good night’s sleep and a big breakfast. He was smiling, babbling, and being all kinds of cute, distracting me completely from everything else that was going on.

If I’d just been paying a little more attention, I might have thought longer about the fact that my sister-in-law had just pulled up outside our house and she had come from the wrong direction. When she came inside, I overheard Hubbie mention that he’d thought she’d said her fiancé (hahaha, I know how much she’ll hate me using that word) was coming too – but strangely, she had arrived alone.

I didn’t think about it though, I didn’t question what was going on. I was just happily doing my own thing, tickling my Little Man and making him laugh as I finished cleaning him up and redressing him. Sometimes I am so naïve and much too trusting.

My head was down as I walked out of his bedroom, dirty diaper in hand. My Hubbie (yes, he was involved by now in the conspiracy too) casually asked if I’d seen what was outside? He sounded so excited, I thought for sure I was about to see something pretty or funny or cool. I was sooooo wrong.

Peering through my living room window, its giant, distorted head just above the level of my couch, was an evil bunny. Have you seen the movie, Donnie Darko? Remember Frank the Bunny? Well, he was standing right outside my house, staring straight at me. You might be starting to make some connections here between this incident and the Evil Bunny statue (click here for a refresher) that my sister-in-law likes to move around the outside of my house and position so that he’s peering in my windows (yes, same sister-in-law). That Evil Bunny figurine is only about 9 inches tall though. What I was now looking at was a full-size, 7 foot, psychotic-looking bunny who had definitely caught me by surprise.

None of us were prepared for my reaction.

I screamed bloody-murder; the sound even scared me a little. I don’t remember doing this, but my traitor-of-a-husband and sadistic-sister-in-law assure me that I launched the dirty diaper in my hand into the air (narrowly missing my poor Little Man) and dove back into his bedroom like I was being shot at. I curled up into a ball on the ground beside the change-table and my whole body instantly started shaking. Even though I already realized that Frank the Bunny must really be my sister-in-law’s FIANCE in his Halloween costume and that this was all some kind of prank, I was still scared $hitless. I tried really hard to laugh but I was so scared I could hardly move or talk and tears were already uncontrollably sliding down my face.

My sister-in-law was horrified, I think they all were. It obviously wasn’t very funny. I have to admit though, it became funnier later once I saw the Frank the Bunny costume from a distance and was prepared for it. Watching my Hubbie organize a little photo shoot with Frank the Bunny peering through our windows and posing in our front yard even made me crack a smile too. I even laughed a bit when Hubbie described how he’d looked out the window when his sister first arrived and had seen Frank the Bunny walking slowly down the street towards our house along the neat sidewalk in a fairly quiet neighborhood at ten in the morning. I wonder what our neighbors think of us now?

Anyway, today was a Halloween I will NEVER forget. I guess the prank ended up working out because we’re all laughing about it now and not only did they manage to scare me but I got to scare all of them too!

Hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween!


Oct 17, 2010

10 Things I Wouldn't do Again

I’ve been incredibly busy lately with work and getting ready for the launch of my Young Adult/Teen paranormal-romance novel, Amber Frost (available Dec. 7, 2010 through all major ebook sellers!). I apologize for the lack of recent posts. I’ve been thinking about writing a lot lately – it’s just finding the time that is the challenge. Anyway, at some point over the past week or so I realized I started creating a list in my head of Things I Wouldn’t do Again and I had to write it down. I decided to cut it off at 10 because… well, why not?

1. Setting-up Friends
Who doesn’t love the idea of taking credit for someone else’s successful relationship? On some small level, don’t we all want to be pimps? Or at least just wear a pimp hat? No? Just me? Anyway, setting-up your friends is a horrible idea because ultimately, most couples break up. And when they do you’ll have to take a side – it’s unavoidable. I thought I was a genius for setting up two of my friends in University. They were so obviously perfect for one another and dated quite happily for several months; I couldn’t have been more smug. Then the messy breakup happened and things got awkward fast. I lost my bragging rights and ended up losing one of my friends. I will never set-up friends again.

2. Work at a Fast-Food Chain
I got paid minimum wage to work the most stressful, unpleasant and demanding job I’ve ever had which (as a bonus) also happened to be accompanied with the least amount of respect. I had to deal with rude and obnoxious customers on a daily basis, an unintelligent manager on a power trip, and for the ultimate humiliation, I had to wear tapered pants made out of fire-resistant material. Never again.
By the way, I admire the people who can work in these stressful and fast-paced restaurants because I certainly wasn’t cut out for it! It really was the hardest job I’ve ever had and we should all respect the people who do it. I definitely do.

3. Go to Art School
Why not? Because I only met three cool people who I still talk to (in 4 yrs), I use my degree in Visual Arts for… well, just about nothing, I racked up a student loan in excess of $30,000 and I really didn’t become that much of a better artist – just more cynical. I wouldn’t go back and change it if I could though, I’m glad with how my life’s worked out. I just wouldn’t do it again!

4. Party too Hard
We all say “never again” the next morning but I’m hoping the last time I said that really was the truth. After completely avoiding alcohol while trying to conceive for a year, then being pregnant for nine months, then nursing my child for 14 months after that – I haven’t uttered this phrase in well over 3 years. To some the extent of your hangover the next day may be the main defining quality of how much fun you had the night before but Momma’s don’t have the option of staying in bed all day to nurse a hangover. My Little Alarm clock goes off somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 am every morning – “mommmmmmm-mmmmaaaaa!” and I’d rather wake up ready to play than to puke.

5. Smoke
I just wanted to point out I quit about… 4 yrs ago now! Woo hoo!

6. Bake a Double Batch of Double-Chocolate Chip Cookies (when I know the only one who is going to eat them is me!)

7. Buy Halloween Candy Long Before Halloween (same reason as the cookies)

8. Give Birth
Just one of the many stupid things I have done and will do for my child. Ok, it wasn’t stupid and it really wasn’t that bad but I would LOVE not to have to do this again. And even as I say it, I know eventually, I probably will. I really am stupid.

9. Shop with the Hubbie
Sometimes I get these images in my mind and I become so obsessed with the perfection of these little imaginary scenes that I convince myself reality will be just as magical. It isn’t. Shopping with the Hubbie is not a fun, relaxed, bonding experience – it is excruciatingly painful for both of us. The main issue is that Hubbie does not (like many other men) understand the concept of “browsing”.
Hubbie – “What are you looking for?”
Me – “I don’t know.”
Hubbie – “Why are we in here then?”
Me – “In case I see something.”
Hubbie – “Like what?”
Me – *irritated* “I don’t know yet.”
Hubbie – *just as irritated* “I’m waiting outside.”
Hubbie approaches shopping like a military operation. There are ETA’s and EDT’s and specific mission objectives. There are meeting points and hydration breaks but no other unscheduled stops and absolutely no “browsing”. There is also no slow-paced strolling or hand-holding though sometimes I can slip my hand into his before he notices. Naturally when this happens, I make fun of how lame he is for walking around a mall on a Sunday afternoon, holding hands with his wife! This is our relationship in a nutshell. (Hubbie is objecting that he is not the shopping-Nazi that I’m making him out to be. In his defense, he tries his best to grin and bear it and still takes me shopping every year for my birthday – I’m really a very lucky gal.)

10. Have my Hair Cut into a Mullet
I was nine, my Mom convinced me it would be a good look for me. A nice short, easy-style for a nine year old to take care of while still long enough in the back that it would look feminine. Momma lied. Until the mullet grew out, my older sister was able to convince people I was her younger brother, Steve. I’m not entirely convinced that Mullets are for anyone, but they are definitely not for girls.


Oct 7, 2010

A Review of David Nicholls' "One Day"

Let me start off by saying, I want you to read this novel but only so you can tell me what you thought of it because as far as my reaction goes… I’m undecided. I’m not using my usual format for this review because it is quite an unusual book. And (since I’m starting off with all these side notes) I’d also like to apologize for the lateness of this post (it’s been a crazy week) and I also want to take a moment to announce the official launch date of my novel (Amber Frost) which will be made available Dec. 7 through ireadiwrite Publishing!!

Ok, back to business.

So I was pretty excited about reading One Day – I’d heard great things. It’s an International bestseller, the film adaptation has already completed filming, it’s been getting some amazing reviews and I’ve always had a weakness for an interesting love-story (not to mention the author, David Nicholls, just looks like a really cool, interesting guy) but this… was not what I expected.

I think my main issue with this novel is the characters. I didn’t love them, for the most part I didn’t even like them but through it all, I was completely fascinated by them. The protagonist, Emma (Em) Morley, is an idiot – there’s no avoiding that fact. No matter how badly I wanted her to be clever and confident and secure in herself, she was not. Though I enjoyed her sense of humor and inner dialogue, I was so frustrated by the poor choices she made that I frequently found myself wincing and groaning out loud. And then there’s Dexter – the douche bag. He really is a douche bag; he takes his friendship with Em (and just about everything else in his life) for granted, he’s self-possessed, disrespectful, egotistical and arrogant, and despite it all, Em loves him and you will too (and you may even hate yourself a little bit for it). Why? Because for some strange, inexplicable reason, we are often attracted to the people who are the least worthy of our love. That’s just the way it is and this is certainly the case with Dexter Mayhew.

The timeline of One Day, though unique, only added to my frustration with this novel. The plot moves at an unusual pace and leaves many gaps as the story leaps forward a year at a time, revisiting Em and Dexter’s relationship every July 15th, starting in 1988 and ending July 15th, 2007. Many of the events and details that you will crave to read the most are only hinted at because they do not fall on this specific, crucial day. July 15th is the only day that Nicholls provides us access to though he does follow his characters through 20 years of their relationship; it’s contradictory and frustrating and because of this, you may not be able to put it down. The entire novel (characters, plot and all the details in-between) was unsatisfying as a whole but that was ultimately what kept me turning the pages and left me craving more.

On the book’s cover The Guardian proclaims this novel to be “roaringly funny”. Apparently “The Guardian” is easily excited or at least prone to exaggeration. Obviously my sense of humor is on a whole different plane (good or bad who knows!?) or maybe I just didn’t “get it”. Either way, I don’t know how anyone could consider this a “funny” book; it’s actually quite a sad book. I think Tony Parsons’s endorsement was more honest when he described One Day to be “about the heartbreaking gap between the way we were and the way we are”. I wish I said that – let’s pretend I did as it sums up One Day quite well.

So while I can’t really decide how I feel about this book, and I definitely won’t read it again, I will say that it is still, for some indefinable reason, worth reading. One Day is interesting, unique and completely irritating. I hated it, then I loved it, then I hated it some more but I think, just like Dexter and Em’s relationship, that was sort of the point.

Would love to know your thoughts if you’ve read it. If you haven’t, you can borrow my copy because there’s one thing I’m certain of - it was not worth the $17.95 cover price I paid. I think I’ll have to stick with ebooks from now on. Hey… did I mention there’s this really great ebook (Amber Frost) coming out on Dec.7th? Mark your calendars...


Sep 26, 2010

The Craziest Thing

I can pinpoint the moment I decided I wanted to write a book. It was almost two years ago now, I was sitting on the couch in my living room and had just finished reading a really crappy novel that, for reasons I couldn’t (and still can’t) comprehend, had sold hundreds of thousands of copies.

“What a piece of crap!” I announced to my husband as I finished the last page. He patiently tore his eyes away from the Canucks game on TV with only a slight sigh (this, my friends, is true love) and he settled in to listen to the obvious rant I was about to embark on.

I have always been a passionate and over-enthusiastic reader, and I feel personally offended when books don’t live up to my expectations. Hubbie was aware of this – he knew what was coming but still listened attentively.

“Seriously, how did this get published? Who reads this stuff?” I demanded.

Hubbie raised an eyebrow but was wise enough not to comment. After seven years together, he’d learned that if he wanted to get back to the hockey game before the next power play, it would be best to keep quiet, nod in agreement and only let his eyes stray back to the TV when I wasn’t looking.

“I mean, even I could do better. I could write a book way better than this!” I declared, tossing said-book onto the glass coffee table and missing. I glared at the book as it was obviously such a piece of junk that it wouldn’t even make a good projectile (this, of course, had nothing to do with my lack or coordination or athletic ability).

And what does my other and at times (ok, a lot of the time) better-half say?

“Then do it.”

His eyes went back to the TV but I didn’t object because I knew he was right – I should do it. Hubbie had no idea what he’d started.

Why not? I thought. I loved reading, I loved writing. I used to begin writing novels all the time when I was a teenager but back then I didn’t have the focus or the drive to get past the first fifty pages (I was too busy smoking cigarettes and falling in love). I’d written many a lengthy, University paper since then; my vocabulary, life experience and confidence had all improved since those confused teenaged days… so why not?

And so I began to write.

A year and a bit later I have completed two, full length novels (currently I’m nearing completion of my third and have a killer idea for my fourth). The first book never really took off – it was my first attempt at writing a novel and it was written largely for my own enjoyment; I never really expected that one to get published. But the second… this one I’d invested a lot more time and emotion into. This one I had hopes for but after the first few rejection letters came in (positive but still “no’s” – remember the “shit sandwich”? LINK) my optimism began to fade.

I still loved writing but I was starting to realize there was something missing from the experience for me. What was it? What do you call that thing….? Oh right – an audience. No one was reading my work except for me and though I was thoroughly enjoying writing and was frequently impressed by my own brilliance (I know, I’m ridiculously egotistical in the privacy of my own home) – it wasn’t enough. And that’s when this blog was born.

Anyone remember my first post, Exposing Myself (LINK)?. I was so nervous to share my writing with anyone, even the limited audience I imagined that might view my blog. I did it though and I’m so glad I did. Now I barely think twice before hitting the “PUBLISH” button, even knowing that somewhere around 100 people (and counting!) are now viewing my blog every week. To you blog veterans, these numbers might not seem so impressive but to me it’s HUGE. It still blows my mind that people are interested in and entertained by what I have to say. The people I’ve met through my blog, the contacts and connections I’ve made and the recognition I’m starting to gain are priceless.

And now the craziest thing has happened – I’m getting published!

The second novel I wrote (which is currently titled “Amber Frost” but fondly referred to as “Book #2” in my house) will be made available to the ebook world through ireadiwrite Publishing (LINK) some time later this year. I hope you’ll understand what a huge understatement it is to say that I’m a little bit excited and kinda proud. Just a little bit.

I’ll be keeping you all updated as things move along but for now I’d just to say a quick thanks to all the wonderful people who read my blog each week, to my amazing family and friends who inspire me, and to my incredible husband who may at times be a “man of few words” but when he does speak, you’d be stupid not to listen. Thanks for letting me interrupt your hockey games honey, and sorry for all the nights I’ve made you watch “Glee” and “Gossip Girl” (no apologies for “Dating in the Dark” – you know you love that crap as much as I do).

Thanks everyone! Your support means the world to me.

And on that note… GO CANUCKS!


Sep 19, 2010

The Mad Skills of a Workin' Gal

After a year and a half of being a stay-at-home-mom and toying around with the idea (ok, dream) of being a professional writer, it is time to go back to the “real” world. The real world has some pro’s like paydays, for example. The real world has a few con’s too though – schedules, commutes, packed lunches and alarm clocks, workplace expectations that involve dressing in something other than yoga pants and styling my hair by some other method than a hair-tie. The real world kinda sucks.

For the past year, I have mostly avoided the subject of returning to work, assuring myself that one of my books would get picked up and published before I’d ever have to really consider things like job postings and daycare applications. I even timed my last round of queries and submissions so that I would receive my acceptances and have enough time to choose a publishing company to represent me before needing to commit to return to work, therefore avoiding an encounter with the “real” world entirely… sometimes I am so good at lying to myself.

Don’t get me wrong – I like my job; most days I would even go so far as to say I love it.  I get paid fairly, the hours I work are great, my coworkers are fantastic and the actual “work” itself ranges from challenging to rewarding to just plain fun which are all good things a mon avis (quietly groans at how pretentious French can sometimes sound). I don’t actually mind going back to work that much; sometimes it’s just fun to complain. Who doesn’t love the sound of their own voice? But since I have gone back to work, there is one challenge I’ve faced that, in all seriousness, has caused me some stress and anxiety - transitioning from stay-at-home-mom to working-mom. I’m finding myself in a very different role than what I’ve become used to and it’s taking some adjustment.

I hate to admit to this weakness but on my first day back at work, I was definitely feeling out of my element. Schools were so much noisier and busier than I remembered (especially in the first week of the school year), the kids were bigger and not as cute as they were in my memories, the buildings were more crowded and easier to get lost in. I totally felt like I’d lost my edge.

I began to doubt myself. I felt like I’d grown “rusty” from my year “off” (as if that year of maternity/parental leave was anything remotely comparable to a vacation). I wondered how my new mom-skills would translate into the workplace and began to realize that there would be no opportunity to demonstrate my mad laundry-skills, or my ability to soothe a crying baby while sautéing onions, or how I could pick up my son’s toys with one foot while balancing him on the other hip and using my remaining free limb to hold the phone so I could finish scheduling his next Doctor’s checkup (seriously – I can do that). There was no place for these skills (no matter how freakin’ fantastic they are) on a resume… or was there?

And that’s when I realized just how valuable and translatable my mom-skills are.

The past year and a half of leave has (in many ways) been like a boot camp of intensive mommy-training led by the unforgiving, unyielding and determined force of my beautiful baby boy. He has been my drill-sergeant and he has taught me well. My sweet little son has taught me to multi-task on a whole new level. I am more organized than I (or my mother) had ever thought possible. My thinking is broader as I have been trained to constantly think-ahead and plan for every possible scenario. My natural instincts of empathy, intuition and even my ability to understand and interpret non-verbal communication have reached a whole new level. And, as specifically relates to my field of work, my understanding of basic child development milestones, my patience, my nurturing skills and even my speedy and efficient diapering abilities have become incomparable. Full of myself much? I know. But honestly, when it comes to mom-skills, I have become a freakin’, unstoppable machine and I’m a little bit proud (why not?).

Which brings me to a point I have made before and will continue making time and time again because it is so very true. Being a Mom (or a Dad for that matter) is one of the hardest and most amazing jobs I, or anyone else, will ever do. Being a parent changes your whole life, every single aspect of it, in the most positive way. It brings some changes that you expect and about a million that you don’t but it affects absolutely everything you do. It has changed my outlook on life, my philosophies, my priorities, my skills and my abilities – even my sense of humor. I feel like my son is preparing me not just to support and care for him for the next 17 years of his life but to face the rest of my life also. I am more than ready to face the “real” world, it turns out I never actually left it.

So while I won’t be picking up any toys in the classroom with my feet any time soon and I can’t imagine singing all the verses of “Baby Beluga” at a staff meeting is going to impress anyone (though you never know!) I am still returning to work as a more capable and more highly-skilled employee. My employers have my son to thank. He likes bananas and things that make loud noises – he’ll be waiting for the gift basket.


Sep 12, 2010

The Goodness

*There's nothing particularly funny about this post but I think it's an interesting topic and since it's been stuck in my thoughts all week, I feel I must discuss.  I promise you something more light-hearted next week that will make you laugh - I'll try my best to even make you pee a bit. But in the meantime, I give you this to think about...

What is your definition of a “good” person? I think we’d all use a lot of the same words to describe the good people in our lives: loyal, caring, kind, generous, etc. Now think about yourself; what qualities do you possess that make you good? You must think that in some ways you are a good person – I’m sure everyone does. We can always justify our actions somehow to convince ourselves that we made the “right” choice or did the “right” thing, that our motivations weren’t selfish and that we were thinking of others. But are we really just lying to ourselves?

Recently I’ve been thinking about whether or not I am really a good person – and I’m not sure if I am. I can say without a doubt that I’m a good mother and I try to be a good friend, wife, employee, etc. but am I a good person? I don’t know. I’m not presenting this question so that you can rush to reassure me that I am indeed good – this is not an attempt to fish for compliments because I’m not really sure if you’re a good person either.  Ha, didn't see that coming, did you?  Anyway, let me explain:

I’ve come to decide that it is our actions and what motivates these actions that measure a person’s “goodness”. I think the selfish, vain, petty people have the same potential for goodness that the caring, generous, loyal people do. Having said this, what have I really done that makes me “good”? What motivates my actions? How often will I do something just because it feels good, and right, and for no other reason?

If I really am a good person, shouldn’t I be out donating all my free time and money to charities and volunteer organizations? Shouldn’t I be focusing my efforts on making the world that we live in a better place and solving global issues? And shouldn’t I be doing all of this quietly, with no expectation or desire to be acknowledged or rewarded for my generosity and dedication? Isn’t that what the truly “good” people do?

I don’t know. What I do know is this – I can do more, I can do better and I think it’s time to start. I’m challenging myself, and you, to show how good of a person you are. Start small but make a start. We need time to ourselves, we need time with our friends and families and time to relax, but it only takes a little time to make a difference. Find that time and use it. Let your actions speak for you and find an answer to that tricky question – what makes me “good”? Ah... sounding a bit too much like an infomercial motivational speaker now.  I get carried away sometimes.  Regardless, I think you got my point or at least I hope so.

On a brighter note, I think we all have the potential to be good, and I think we all are good at times.  I'm sure we all love someone who we think is "good" and that person inspires us and helps to bring out our own "goodness".  I think we are all that "good" person in someone else's life too and without knowing it, we inspire others.  I also think that even if we do so unaware, we can still make our world a better place through our small everyday choices and actions.  Imagine how much you could do though if you tried, if you really tried, to be "good".


Sep 7, 2010

Sometimes I Wonder About Myself

Did my mother make as many mistakes as I did and do? Do my friends? Do people just not want to talk about the stupid and embarrassing things they have done? I guess we’re all afraid of looking dumb or irresponsible but we all make mistakes sometimes, don’t we?

Over the past year and a bit, I have come to realize that parenting, like so many other things, is a trial and error process that you won’t necessarily get right the first time. I’m starting to wonder now about the “eldest children” out there that I know, aka. the parenting guinea pigs. Forget 'middle-child syndrome'!

But seriously, I think I am doing a pretty good job raising my Little Man but like I said, it’s harder than it looks. And though I’d like to blame lack of sleep and changing hormones and all those fabulous excuses, my child sleeps through the night and is nearly 1 ½ so I’ve got nothing. Guess I’ll just have to admit that sometimes, I’m just not that perfect - sometimes.

Here are just some of the things that make me question my ability to ‘parent:

I have literally spoken the phrase: “No, this is Mummy’s chocolate and I don’t have to share.” I have also tried to sneak chocolate past the Little Man . You don’t even have to say it – I know.

Similarly, I have seriously considered raising my child to believe that he is allergic to chocolate. I’d love to say this would be for his benefit but really…

When I have run out of things to entertain my son (if we’re stuck waiting somewhere) I have let him play with such non-Daddy-approved “toys” from my purse as lip gloss, tampons and make up.

Instead of nursery rhymes, since my son was a newborn I have been singing songs like “All the Single Babies” (Beyonce), “Shake, Shake, Shake – Don’t Shake the Baby” (Shake Your Booty) and “Push it” (Salt n’ Peppa – usually when he’s pooping).

I laugh when my son farts. I know this only encourages him but he looks so surprised and then cheeky… how do you not laugh?

Whenever the Little Man sees an empty beer can he runs to pick it up. He will either pretend to drink from it and then go “ahhhh” or he will take it straight to his Daddy. We have no idea where he picked up these habits.

I may have once forgotten to properly close the backdoor to my car after buckling my son in. I was pulling out of my spot in the Walmart parking lot and the door flew open – the Little Man laughed and started waving at the shocked people he could now clearly see. I stopped and closed the door. It may have actually happened twice.

Whenever the Little Man hears a loud truck, he points and yells, “Daddy!” When we’re in a parking lot, I find myself repeating over and over, “No, that’s not your Daddy. No, he’s not your Daddy either. Nope, not baby’s Daddy, try again.” I love it when the guys driving the big trucks have their windows down though and hear him. That “deer-in-headlights” look is priceless. It’s even funnier if there’s a girl sitting next to them. The Little Man will usually smile and wave like he really does recognize them too.

It’s bad enough that the Little Man already recognizes a Tim Horton’s (the source of the occasional cookie ) and claps his hands and points from the backseat of a car going 90 km/hr, but it’s even worse that the girls in the Tim Horton’s drive thru by my house know not just me but also my son by name!

I bought the Little Man his own little baseball bat. I don’t know what I was thinking with that one. Our cat still hasn’t forgiven me.

And finally, I’m wondering whether I really should be saying things to my son like:

- “No, we don’t hit Daddy. Only Mummy can do that.”

- “Get the cat!”
(He runs after it screaming. It’s pretty funny until he does it to other people’s cats.)

- Daddy – “What does Mummy say?”, Little Man – “Mooo!”
(My husband thought that was a pretty clever thing to teach him.)

- “Ouch! Mother Ducker!”
(If he repeats that one at daycare, I think I’m still going to look pretty bad.)

- “Look – there goes Big Fat Baby!”
(Baby who lives down the street whose name I always forget. This has the potential to be quite embarrassing once the Little Man can talk more.)

- “Pick it up quickly, it’s still good. Five second rule… Ten second rule… Thirty second rule… Here, let me get that for you.”

- “Baby, be careful! Don’t go near the Evil Bunny!”
(My sister-in-law bought me this as a joke. I suppose I shouldn’t perpetuate the idea that the bunny isevil. I’ll include a picture so then you’ll have a better idea of what I’m talking about. Actually, in this case, it might be an example of good parenting – you decide!)


Aug 27, 2010

Readers vs. Writers

I started reading Suzanne Collins’, Hunger Games trilogy last week and, as predicted by Lainey (link) became obsessed. I tore through the first two books in three days and then read the third, Mockingjay, within 24 hrs of it being released. Yes, it’s safe to assume I’m a bit of a bookworm, but this was bad even for me. These books were like crack to me – I couldn’t get enough. They had all the right elements; fast-paced plot, descriptive but not overly so, an intense love triangle that was trying to resolve itself under the shadow of the darker themes of distrust, corruption and instability. The plot kept me guessing to; I had no idea how it would all resolve and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the third and final installment, Mockingjay. My hopes were set so high…. and they all came crashing down. Mockingjay was good, but the ending SUCKED!

I had some bad dreams that first night after I finished reading Mockingjay (that’s how crazy, my book-crazy is). Mockingjay left me so unsatisfied, with so many questions left unanswered, that even my subconscious couldn’t let it go. No one else I knew had even finished reading it, so I had no one to discuss it with (by the way – who wants to start a bookclub because I am SO in?). And so my brain became stuck on the Mockingjay disappointment. I mulled my issues with Collins over and over in my mind until I came up with a justification for the ending that I could, at least partially and as a writer myself, accept. It took me a few days to come to terms with Mockingjay but eventually I did. And it was all because of this one realization: even though the ending was not what I wanted it to be, it was the only possible ending for the writer.

As readers, we often have completely different expectations than writers do, and for writers, it is not always possible to reconcile the differences between the two. As a reader and fan of the Hunger Games trilogy, I wanted a happy ending. I loved the characters, I’d seen them fight and struggle and conquer all odds and I wanted my happy freakin’ ending. I wanted all the loose ends neatly tied up. I wanted all my questions answered, all mysteries to be revealed. I wanted a happily-ever-after but I didn’t get one, at least not the one I wanted. At first that was a huge disappointment but as I moved on and let it go, I realized that perhaps I was left with something more important than what I had originally thought I wanted. Perhaps Mockingjay had accomplished something more than just entertaining and pleasing its readers.

Mockingjay really haunted me – days later it’s still prominent in my thoughts (enough so that I had to blog). I’m still thinking about the characters and replaying in my head how it “all went down” in the end. And I’m coming to realize that to tie it all up into a neat and perfect little package would have been unfaithful to the work, because a writer has to be true to their vision, to their inspirations and their themes. This was not a happy story, it was obviously never meant to be, so why was I wanting (so badly) for it to be something other than what it was?

Collins stayed true to her characters, dedicated to her themes and was disturbingly honest with the reality of her story. I’m willing to accept now that there aren’t always happy endings – and that’s ok. Sometimes, you have to find the happiness you can and accept it for what it is. Mockingjay also guides readers to appreciate the power of the unspoken word - the things that can be left unsaid yet despite and because of this, they are still so clearly heard.

The truth is, we don’t always get our happy endings. Things don’t always play out as you expect but you heal, you move on and you find what happiness you can and you take it. I will argue though that there is A LOT of opportunity for character exploration, growth and development in-between-the-lines but Collins chose to leave these moments untouched and in that way, I am still disappointed with Mockinjay’s ending. On the other hand, it makes me hope that one day she may eventually “go there” and tell us the rest of Katniss Everdeen’s story because I am not the only book-crazy, obsessive reader who would be all over that. This may be another case though, where the readers’ hopes and desires differ greatly from those which influence the writer.


PS - if you haven't read the Hunger Games, you should.  They are starting production on the movie soon and you definitely want to read the book first.

Aug 22, 2010

The Best of the Worst

One of the greatest challenges I’ve found in ‘blogging is creating interesting and entertaining posts on an (almost) weekly-basis. If I don’t have anything to write about, I refuse to force myself to write. The end result is always that my readers must force themselves to read; it doesn’t work out for anyone. I will only write if I’m excited about something, if I’m inspired or interested enough by the subject matter that the story (or in this case, the post) writes itself. But I have made a commitment to my readers to post as regularly as possible and so at times, I do find myself stretching for new ideas. This has resulted in some really bad and embarrassing posts that fortunately, were abandoned before they were ever published.

I try to keep in mind that the best ideas often plant their roots within the worst. They rise up from the manure that has fertilized their roots and blossom into a wonderful creation that can stand tall on its own. Excuse my bluntness, but I also feel it’s important not to forget the shit you had to get through to reach your eventual goal. And, in my case, sometimes “the shit” turns out to be even more entertaining than the actual end result. Or at least it can be once you’ve gained enough perspective to look back and laugh at yourself (re: The Cake That Everybody Ate but No One Ever Saw)

And with that being said, here are some of the best of my worst ideas for blog entries. I encourage you to laugh:

The Sugar Cleanse
An overview of journal entries from a sugar addict/chocoholic’s (my) experience on a self-imposed (and husband-suggested) sugar-free diet for ten days. I thought it might be funny/interesting to record my experiences… it wasn’t. It basically ended up being three days of me complaining how hungry I was and then pathetically abandoning the whole thing so I could devour unsightly amounts of chocolate. Not pretty and not funny – not in the way it was supposed to be anyway.

Ode to my Baby Daddy
This one was a poem I wrote for my husband for Father’s Day. He never saw it – no one ever did. The “Ode” may make an appearance next year on Father’s Day; I’ll admit it had some potential hilarity mixed into its short, rhyming lines. There were some awful parts too though. I may have rhymed “dear” with “beer”, and “happily” with “pee” – I don’t think I need to explain why this one never saw the light of day.

The Portrait Project
A photographic investigation of portraiture as I attempted to capture my subjects’ “true beauty” through a series of bad shots (poor lighting, unflattering angles, badly-timed moments, etc.). The end result was a series of fugly photos (oh, how I enjoy that word!) that though hilarious, were certainly not what they were meant to be. Maybe one day these photos will resurface for your enjoyment, or for future blackmail purposes.

The Right Lyrics
You know how sometimes you think you know all the lyrics to a song, and then one day you’re singing along to your car radio and your passenger enlightens you on the fact that you are actually singing the words completely wrong (by laughing hysterically at you)? Well... this happens to me a lot. I started writing a post about all the song lyrics I’ve gotten wrong over the years but to be perfectly honest – it was just too ridiculous. I mean, how did I think Nelly saying, “Hey… must be the money!” sounded like “Hey… fuck you buddy!”? And then why would I decide to sing along so loudly… in public…?

Oh there are so many more embarrassing ideas to tell you about but you’ll have to be satisfied with these gems for now. And to thank you all for your support of my blog… here’s a teaser from the “Portrait Project”. It’s a self-portrait of me and my son. You’re welcome.


Aug 16, 2010

The Best Intentions

I have a few friends right now who are pregnant - including my sister (love you!).  It's been nearly a year and a half since my days of waddling around town and rubbing my budda belly, and though I still don't really miss it, I have been somewhat fondly reminscing about my pregnancy lately.

I didn't really enjoy being pregnant; it was ok but not the lovey-dovey, cherished time in my life that I was told it was supposed to be.  I didn't feel like a "sacred vessel of life".  I felt like a bloated whale who was always hot, hungry, thirsty and tired (sounds attractive, right?).  My darling baby was a wiggler right from the start and he loved to wedge his little, pokey feet in underneath my ribs and push... (shudder) my ribs creak at the memory.  Don't get me wrong - there were good parts too and I suppose a small part of me may one day miss being pregnant... a little.  The hardest part for me though was all the unwanted attention that went along with it.

Pregnancy, for me, was a personal, private and emotional experience.  But I suppose since it's such an obvious, public condition everyone else feels like they are involved in your pregnancy too.  I hated how people would always look at my ever-expanding waist line before they looked at my face.  I felt violated whenever someone would (without asking permission) start rubbing my belly (something that you would never dare do to anyone else).  I detested being asked the same questions over and over again, usually by people I didn't even know - "how far along are you?" or "do you know what you're having?" and "when's your due date?"  And it annoyed me how people expected me to share every personal and intimate detail of my pregnancy when I so obviously did not want to.  I'm just not the kinda girl who can have a conversation about her cervix, especially at a work function.

Being pregnant is a bizarre and often hilarious time though.  I thought I'd share with you some of the random things people asked me and the questionable (not to mention unsolicited) advice I was given while pregnant. 

People REALLY said these things to me, though some may be hard to believe!  Sorry if you recognize a statement here as one you may have made.  Please note that I love my family and friends and know that all advice was given in love and all comments were made with the best of intentions at heart.  That being said... what were you thinking?

- "You're glowing!" 
This one I heard a lot and always new it was complete BS.  Pregnant women don't glow, they sweat.)

- "I bet your husband likes how 'well-endowed' you've become."
This one was said to me at the work place (did I mention I worked in an Elementary school at the time? A little inappropriate, non?)

- "Is your Doctor worried about how small you are?"
I think maybe there's a compliment hidden in that one... maybe? A note to the wise - never comment on a pregnant woman's size or shape in any way other than to tell her that she's "all baby" (I couldn't hear that one enough!).

- "Has your Doctor said anything about how much weight you've gained?"

- "You look great... for being pregnant."
In my opinion, qualifiers negate the compliment.

- "You're huge!" And also, "Look how big and fat you're getting!"
To which I pointed out, 'I'm not huge or fat - I'm pregnant! There's a BIG difference - it's called a baby!'

- "You're so lucky - you're not even that bloated."

- "You can't be seven months pregnant! Are you sure you've got your dates right?"
No, you're right.  Myself, my healthcare providers, the 3 ultrasounds I've had - we're all wrong. This question was followed up by the ever-appropriate:

- "Do you know which night you conceived?"
And I was similarly asked...

- "Did you know the moment you got pregnant? Was it a special night? When was it?"
These very personal questions were asked by two separate people, one at a family function and another at a child's birthday party.  Both people had very loud voices.  You can cringe for me if you like.

- "Babies are a lot more work than puppies!"
An old woman told me this when I commented that her puppy was cute... She was one of the few people who found me, in all my pregnant glory, offensive.  I turned 26 while I was pregnant but was often told I looked a few years younger.  A few seniors shot me some scandalized glances - it was sorta fun. What was also fun was when people asked...

- "How far along are you?"
The only reply to that was, 'Far along with what? Oh... did you think...?' and then watch them try to backpedal.  This is especially fun when you are in your ninth month of pregnancy.  It really confuses people.

- "Childbirth is the most painful thing you've ever experienced."
Really... why tell a pregnant woman that?

- "You'll be cursing your husband's name once you're in labor!"
I didn't.  I cursed the name of that lady who wrote the Hypnobirthing (painfree labor) book - for selling me a lie that I wanted so badly to believe!

- "Are you scared about giving birth?"
Does it matter? It's obviously too late for second thoughts.

- "When your water breaks, you'll be overwhelmed by a peaceful wave of tranquility. Your body's biologically programmed that way."
When my water broke, I was in the "Transition Phase" - aka. most intense part. It was not peaceful. And finally...

- "Does it bother you that your baby looks nothing like you?
No, I'm ok with it. I remember quite clearly how he was born and am pretty sure he's mine regardless. It would bother me if he didn't look like my husband. That would be awkward.

And then the old-wives tales that people insisted were true.  None of these were:

"Your cat will try and smother your baby."
Which was not quite as silly as...

"Your cat will be jealous of the baby because he'll be able to smell your milk and not want the baby to drink it." (A mother of 3 told me that one but I'm pretty sure she was stoned.)

"Because you don't have heartburn, your baby will be bald." (He was born with a full head of hair.)

"Because your baby moves a lot, it will be a girl."

"You'll go at least a week past your due date because it's your first baby." (He was born a day early.)

"Spicy food will make you go into early labor." (We eat a lot of Indian food, I was fine.)
"You're belly is too oval-shaped so you're going to have a girl."  (Definitely not a girl.)

"They'll give you an enema as soon as you get to the hospital." (I assure you, they certainly did not.)

"Episiotomies are routine." (Don't know what that is? Look it up - you'll be scared.)
And despite all this helpful advice, I made it through my pregnancy and labor experience ok, and I may even, possibly, do it all over again one day.  Maybe.

I'll end this post with a pic of me when I was 34 wks pregnant:


Aug 9, 2010

My Thoughts on 'Kick-Ass'

My brief synopsis: A geeky high-schooler decides to become a superhero (called Kick-Ass) and mainly ends up getting his own ass-kicked. Two other wanna-be superheroes (Hit Girl and Big Daddy) with real weapons expertise and fighting skills befriend him. HG and BD are planning revenge against a big crime boss and Kick Ass becomes unintentionally involved.

Likes and Dislikes: Hit Girl’s character is pretty cool – a thirteen year old girl in a purple wig and school girl skirt who swears like a sailor and seriously kicks ass. Pretty cool. But the violence and gore shown in her fight scenes is excessive and uncomfortable to watch (she is, after all, just a little girl). The fact that Big Daddy, her father, admittedly has brain-washed her to carry out his own desired revenge, taken away her childhood and warped her mind to think of it all as a game is also very disturbing.

High point: when director Matthew Vaughn (producer on Snatch and directed Stardust) takes a note from Kill Bill and incorporates a brief, comic book-style, animated sequence to explain some of the back-story of Big Daddy’s character. In a movie about superheroes and comic books, I expected (and wanted) a lot more of this.

Low point: the end of the film when Kick Ass rescues Hit Girl but kills multiple men in the process. Up until this point he was a loveable, awkward, well-meaning teen – now he has been bullied and brainwashed himself to believe that it is ok to violently and abruptly end the lives of others all in the name of revenge. He finally kicks some ass and it’s not a victorious moment but is actually sort of sad and disappointing.

What surprised me: it was definitely not what I expected. I thought Kick-Ass would be primarily a comedy and though I may have laughed once or twice, overall it wasn’t really funny. Then for a film that deals with the subject matter of superheroes and comic books I thought there would be more of that comic-book-movie style that is oh-so-much-fun (split screens, freeze frames, bright colors, interesting angles, incorporating animation, etc.). Especially after hearing so much hype about Kick-Ass and Brad Pitt’s involvement (he was one of the producers) in this film I had much higher hopes. Overall though, it was a big letdown.

Maybe if Kick-Ass were more stylized I could get behind it (like Sin City or Kill Bill). It’s confusing what genre this movie is meant to be though. It’s not really funny and it’s definitely not your typical teen, coming-of-age story (though it touches on some of the common themes). Kick-Ass is actually shockingly violent and gory, and is really just an exploitation film with a weak development of an interesting, original concept. What disappoints me most is that it had the potential to be great.

The final scene left the storyline open for a sequel… please – no sequel! I can’t watch more of this crap, though something tells me that out of curiosities sake, if for nothing else, I probably will.

My Rating: 3 out of 5
I’ve seen worse films, I’ve definitely seen better. Perhaps if I knew what to expect, I’d have enjoyed it more… maybe.


Aug 2, 2010

The Day that Kicked my Ass

It started out badly, as this type of day will tend to do.

The Hubbie and I overslept by an hour. We woke up to the sound of his cell phone ringing – the guy he gives a ride to work to was wondering where he was. It was 7 am.

Extra sleep might not sound like such a bad start to the day but for me it was. One of my many roles in our household is Head Alarm Clock Attendant and I had quite obviously failed. Hubbie would sleep through the alarm everyday if it weren’t for me. He requires a properly placed elbow in the ribs and a few loving slaps in the face to wake up. One day they’ll invent an alarm that will replace me and then I’ll have to find something else to contribute to our marriage. But anyway, I digress…

So the Hubbie was late for work and not too pleased about it. He left the house with a few grumpy stomps and a slightly over-enthusiastic slamming of the door that woke the Little Man up. And of course, my sweet baby boy decided to make my morning even more interesting. Toys were thrown at me, breakfast was thrown at me, and nothing I did pleased the little prince. It didn’t help my mood when he threw a spoonful of oatmeal onto my last pair of clean Capri pants and I had no other option but to put on jeans when at 8 am it was already over 20 degrees.

Thank goodness for naptime.

As soon as he was asleep, I took some time to check my emails. I happened to have received my first rejection letter for my second novel. It was a standard, polite response - the kind I’ve grown to expect. But no matter how ok you tell yourself you are with it, rejection still hurts. It definitely didn’t make my day any better.

Then the phone rang and woke up the Little Man after only 45 minutes of peace. And it wasn’t even a good phone call – it was a telemarketer. I was thrilled.

Little Man woke up cranky. Of course he did. I decided to take him to the pool to get us both out of the house but couldn’t find his swimming shorts. Then I realized that after I had been stung by a wasp the other day and had come home from the beach in a drug induced trance (prescription meds thank you very much and my sister-in-law was there babysitting me and the kiddo) I forgot to take the Little Man’s swimming things out of my backpack. Lovely. His swim shorts and towel were sandy and damp and had been sitting in the bottom of my backpack for 2 days. And they reeked – way more than they should have. And that’s when I realized I had been betrayed.

My dear sweet Fat Cat who has such perfect bladder control that we don’t even have a litter tray for him anymore had turned my backpack into his own personal bathroom. This, I would expect from the Bad Cat who presently lives outdoors because of such past incidents but my Fatipuss? The world really was turning against me.

So the swim shorts and towel went into the washing machine and my backpack went into the garbage. It was just what I needed to cheer me up – more laundry.

It was an hour or so later when we were finally ready to go swimming. We got all packed up and loaded into the car, drove down to the pool only to find out that in the summer time the wave machine is turned on from 1pm onwards. And it was 2pm. The Little Man doesn’t do waves.

Are you freakin’ kidding me?

So we pile back into the car (did I mention it’s nearly 30 degrees on this beautiful day and I drive a BLACK Honda?) and just as I go to pull out of my parking spot my Blackberry buzzes. I’ve just received another email in response to the queries I sent out – this one from a certain Literary Agency.

Well, what do you know? It’s another rejection letter but this one’s a “shit sandwich” (as a friend of mine likes to say). You know the format – compliment, criticism, compliment. So apparently my novel is “interesting” but “there is too much telling going on” while my ideas are still “creative”. Then it’s all topped off by saying that they rarely take on “previously unpublished authors” anyway.

Rejection I can deal with. Criticism I can accept, especially if I can learn from it - but this? Really? If you’re going to send me a four sentence rejection letter, why even bother to make vague and critical (yet non-constructive) comments?

So I was really getting my ass kicked by the world at this point and I realized that today, I was obviously not going to win. So what did I do? I went to a wonderful place where I could bury all of my troubles beneath a heap of chocolaty ice cream. Where no one could judge me for wanting both oreo cookies and chunks of brownies in my ice cream because it’s actually on the menu. Where I could satisfy my chocolate, cookie, brownie, ice cream craving without ever having to get out of my car. Thank you DQ.

And then things started to turn around (don’t tell me food doesn’t fix things).

Little Man had his first taste of a Blizzard which was pretty entertaining. We hit up Wal-mart and strolled around in the AC for longer than necessary, played with toys I had no intention of buying, and even found a new backpack. Then Hubbie got off work early and surprised me and the Little Man. He entertained our trouble-maker while I made dinner and he even handled a dirty diaper solo, making me fall in love with him all over again.

And that last rejection letter? I decided something that made me feel a lot better. When one of my novels is published and that particular agency comes knocking at my door offering representation, I will have a shit sandwich all ready to serve them back.

“Thank you for your generous offer” but “your agents do too much ‘telling’” so... “have a nice day”. Ha.

Immature, but it makes me smile.


Jul 21, 2010

Bitchin' Post

Bitchin. This term is used as either positive adjective or negative verb, generally speaking. The noun bitch used to be a negative word too but I’ve noticed lately that it’s gaining a more positive context. Which makes me wonder, when did it become cool to be a bitch? I’m all for strong, positive female role models but the lines between “strong” and “bitch” are at times becoming blurred. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It comes up when I’m writing fiction for teens and I want to develop characters that are positive, believable role-models. Also, when I think about my own life and how much unexpected satisfaction I’ve found in becoming a stay-at-home mother and wife, it makes me reconsider my previous notions of success and who positive female role-models are.

We often admire the women who have the most power, but why? Especially if that power has been gained through manipulation, deception and undermining the abilities of others – what’s admirable about that? Don’t praise someone for being rude and nice-it-up by saying they are just “honest” or “straight-forward” or “they tell it how it is”. Here’s straight-forward for you: Bitches are mean. Speak your mind and express how you feel but don’t do it at the expense of others’ feelings. There’s nothing wrong with being considerate of others. Can’t women who are passive, non-confrontational, considerate or kind be considered ‘strong’ role-models too?

I think positive female role-models are the ones who carefully choose their battles. I think they are the intelligent, self-aware, caring women who will bite their tongues when necessary and “rip you a new one” when appropriate. I think they are the teachers, the scientists, the artists, the business women, the laborers AND the wives and mothers of our world.

Try to imagine a movie that tells the story of a young woman who is intelligent, kind and though not overly popular, she is well-liked (now ask yourself why this character sounds so mediocre?). She decides that though she is perfectly capable of becoming a Doctor or Laywer or scientist, she’d rather spend her time focusing on her relationships with her family and friends, and so she bypasses University to become a young stay-at-home wife and mother. GASP. Are you horrified??? Why does it sound so scandalous? I even feel a little… wrong suggesting that this might be a positive female role-model for our youth. But why? Why can’t we admire the women who are confident enough to make the right choice for themselves, even if it’s not the choice that modern society suggests they should make?

Why does someone need a list of achievements and possessions to be admired? Who wrote this checklist that we work from? Why aren’t the accomplishments of wife, mother and friend enough? Why should I care how much education you have? Or where you work? Or how much you get paid? Or what kind of car you drive?

And why should I admire you when your honesty is hurtful? Or when you’re so concerned with proving you don’t need anyone else’s approval that you lose the respect and admiration of those closest to you? Why should I admire your strength when you’re overly aggressive and unnecessarily confrontational?

Call me a bitch, but I won’t.


Jun 5, 2010

Review of Twilight Author, Stephenie Meyer's New Novel

Stephenie Meyer (author of the Twilight Series) released a new book today (June 5th) entitled The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.  After reading it, of course I had to write about it.  There are some spoilers ahead but I won't give away anything that happens in the novel, only what doesn't happen.  Hopefully my review may help you decide if you're going to by this novella or wait until noon June 7th to read online for FREE at


I was hoping Meyer might explore Riley and Victoria’s characters more. Riley's character and motivations are touched upon but only briefly – very little new information is shared other than a slightly darker, more manipulative side to him than one may have expected. Nothing new about Victoria is revealed – a definite disappointment as her character, though significant to the plot in the first three novels of the Twilight Series, has very little depth.

Also, there is a brief period near the end of Eclipse, when Bella faints and is unconscious for several minutes. It would have been nice to see from Bree’s perspective what went on during this time but unfortunately, her eyes were closed and her ears were covered. I think Meyer missed out on a good opportunity here to exploit her narrator of choice.


Only by the end. You know what happens to Bree, you recognize the scene and the dialogue from Eclipse – you know it’s coming. The last two lines of the novel, even though they are lines of dialogue repeated from Eclipse, still gave me chills. Excellent ending - definitely my favorite part (and I'm not trying to be funny).

What will the Twi-hards think?

There was some excitement generated over the prospect of seeing the characters of Bella and Edward (and the rest of the Cullens) through Bree’s eyes. What interested me (and may disappoint fans of the series) was that Bree did not swoon over Edward’s supernatural good-looks, found absolutely nothing notable about Bella (other than the fact that she was human) and though she was confused over Edward and Bella’s relationship, she certainly didn’t see anything obviously intense or magical about their love for one another. I think this may piss off some fans but really just amused me.

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner has nothing to do with Edward, Bella or their relationship which (in my opinion) is not necessarily a weakness. Bree’s perspective does compliment the original story (Eclipse) well and fill in some of the blanks. The continuity between the two stories is also well thought-out and intriguing, and I think that this further examination and understanding of the Twilight world will please (if not thrill) fans.

To Sum it Up:

Stephenie Meyer is a good story-teller. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner is interesting and well-paced, it will keep the reader turning pages. Would I read it again though? Probably not. Though it was intriguing and complimented Eclipse well, Meyer’s forte is obviously in the romance genre and though there were brief glimpses of her skill in her new novella, (to borrow an over-used Meyerism) it “pales in comparison” to the rest of the Twilight Series.

Overall Rating: 7 (out of 10)
It was good - I'd even go so far as to say pretty good, but it was still far from amazing.

Have you read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner?  What did you think?