12/28/11

Count Down: 4 Websites Self-Publishers Should Consider

The Count Down: 10 Days Until New Year's Day

4 Websites Self-Publishers Should Consider

These are some websites that self-publishers should consider. Mostly due to the services they provide, but they are also worth considering because they provide a readership and the possibility to build fans.  Who doesn't want some fans?

4) Wattpad: www.wattpad.com

A website that also provides a phone app for those who become addicted.  It's a story sharing community that benefits the reader a fraction more than benefits the writer. I personally believe that stories should be paid for so this community, while it would be a great place to build readership- I'm not as big a fan of it as other groups on this list.

3) Lightning Source: www.lightningsource.com

A great location for lower cost print publishing, this website has fast turn around but doesn't provide ebook assistance and they don't provide publisher services that include design, editorial or marketing services. They can however, print from a digital copy from disc or download, or they can take a pre-published piece and make more of the same. It's worth considering since any person or distributor can access these books and put orders in for print copies.

2) Create Space: www.createspace.com

A website that allows you to publish either to the kindle format or in hardcover, the website assists you in designing your book and get it ready to publish. They have more information about formatting your work and tips for marketing. There are paid services but there are a whole host of options provided for free. You can review pictures and images to create a cover or, see my article about locations for great stock photos HERE.
Then you can go to the Cover Creator and review the inside of your book, it's all really easy and if you're only a little familiar with computer language then you can find comprehensive instructions on this site.

1) Smash Words: www.smashwords.com

The website where Amanda Hawking became a million dollar author, you can build your readership and charge a much lower cost for your work because it's available via ebook and you get 70% of the profits, rather than less.  In traditional publishing you would earn 15% if you're lucky, it's usually closer to 7%, 1/10th of what you can make self-publishing online. It's worth going there to publish your short stories at the least to build your platform and readership.  If, like me, you still want to publish traditionally, then this can be a great platform to -as I mentioned-publish your shorts, and if it does well you can mention that in your pitch.  Publishing houses are really starting to pay attention to these markets and sources for readership because traditional publishers are starting to miss out and the digital market is growing... it's hard to ignore.

Hope this list was helpful, only 4 days until the New Year!

Count Down: 5 Reasons to Write Your Book

The Count Down 10 Days Until New Years presents,

5 Reasons to Write Your Book

1) If you never start, you'll never finish.

The truth is, you can think about writing all you want but until you sit at that computer or desk and start typing your words or writing by hand, you haven't started anything.  Googling, researching and reading related books is all great for your research process, but it's separate from the actual act of writing.  Here's the rule fellow writers: Writing means creating words and recording them on some medium either digital or paper.  If new words aren't being recorded you're not writing.  Do you research after the book otherwise the story itself won't come out.  I get so distracted by "Research" and "Platform building," it's a wonder that I ever write anything... So get writing!

2) You'll have fun!

Believe it or not, the process of creating is so much fun.  Even if the book is non-fiction, the process to create a piece of literature is a lot of fun.  I write within a genre and I love creating new story worlds for these wonderful character.  I feel like an archaeologist slowly (sometimes quickly) pulling or sweeping off the dust/dirt and discovering a character as I test them and throw some really horrible experiences their way.  I think it's the closest to God that a human being to get to.

3) You gain experience as a writer.

The act of writing a book is a very difference beast than writing a short story or a novella because you have to have enough content and a strong plot to write a full-length novel. Plus, there has to be over and under-arching stories that wind their way through the plot.  Everything I've learned about writing a book has become some reflection of me.  For example, I finished my novel (the writing, not the editing) and something didn't feel quite right. I went through the entire novel and cut approximately 30,000 words.  When I did this I lost a bit of content but I also noticed that I tended to use adverbs and adjectives fairly often, so when I began to rewrite to fill the voids I found in story and content I was conscious of adverb and adjectives and going back over it was a pleasure because I didn't find a quarter of the level I was finding before the editing phase.

4) You can gain credibility and build a readership.

If you want to be a regular author then writing your first book can lead to writing a second book, gasp!  Who knew?  If you truly love to write then it comes down to, why aren't you? The more you write the more you'll reach people and the best platform for an author is actual readership.  Whether you want to self publish, or you want to publish traditionally or you only want to e-publish, you still need to write.  If you don't want to write to write but rather to build your expertise, then you can do it in this way.  It's almost sad to say that being a published author in your field is almost more credibility than having initials after your name with an education behind it.  There is a whole industry of self-help individuals that do not have credentials in the traditional sense, but once published had entire platforms explode! So, a book can only build your credibility, but remember that if you're going to self-publish, you need to get someone to edit it who isn't related to you.

5) If you're successful, it creates revenue.

There are a few people who find it hard to write a book because there's no immediate pay off, no check every two weeks so they can't justify their time spent away from family, friends and they have a hard time dealing with the looks they get from people after they tell them that they are writing a book.  Keep your eye on the prize: publication and therefore revenue.  Even if you don't want to sell your book to a traditional publisher, if you self-publish you will earn revenue from your readers when they pay for your book. Who doesn't want some extra cash?

So, get writing! 

Sure there are reasons not to write a book, but if you love to write, then you might as well try a book at least once.

12/26/11

Count Down 6: Stock Photo Resources

Count Down: Ten Days until the New Year Presents:




6 Stock Photo Resources

Whether you're a self or POD published author or you write articles and blogs online, writers sometimes need to get relevant photos at an inexpensive rate and in digital format.  If this applies to you, then here are six locations where you can get stock photos, in no particular order.

6. www.dreamstime.com

5. www.morguefile.com

4. www.getteimages.ca

3. www.corbis.com

2. www.shutterstock.com

1. www.istockphoto.com

The photo for this post was provided using  www.freedigitalphotos.net  care of it's creator Michal Marcol. For this image, please visit:  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=371

12/25/11

Count Down: 7 Resources for Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Count Down: Ten Days Until the New Year Presents,

7 Resources for Businesses & Entrepreneurs

Like #9 I'm going to focus for a bit on businesses since a great deal of serious writers are freelancers with or without day jobs.  These resources are quite broad for Yukoners and some a little more specific to Yukon but, in the end most persons in the rest of Canada can usually find resources in their own communities that provide similar opportunities.

7. www.bizpal.ca


Available online in both French and English I find this website on a handful of websites citing it as a resource but it's more of a one-trick pony.  If you're starting a company and you need to find out if you are required to get a permit, then this is the website for you.  As freelance writers it only cites one permit for use, but it's technically incorrect.  It cites the Federal business permit, but it's missing two others.  In order to opperate in the Yukon you have to be registered in the Yukon and you also need a municipality permit.  So if you operate in Whitehorse, you need a Whitehorse Business License.  Be careful on this one as it's obviously missing things.

6. YTG Business Resource Page: gov.yk.ca/services/business_resources.html

Includes Yukon-Specific information but if you require this information and do not live in the Yukon, just check our your province, territory or state's webpage and follow the prompts for businesses. This page provides information such as statistics and tenders and tendering forecast, and quite a bit more.

5. Industry Canada: www.ic.gc.ca

Includes resources for business start-up, statistics, and my favorite page is Business Tools and Resources.

4. Canada Business Service Centre: www.canadabusiness.ca

Tools for finding financing, another permits and licenses tool, and Service Centre details. Further to that there are great resources for starting your own business, tips for selling to governments, and even copyright and intellectual property details. This one is one of my favorite all-time resources just for some of the great details you can get in their resources and resource articles.

3. Dana Naye Ventures: www.dananaye.yk.net

Here in Whitehorse, DNV is a great opportunity if you qualify for their programming. They offer some of the most down-to-earth consulting on opening a business here in the Yukon and some great course options such as the Feasibility Study.  For more details see them or Employment Central.


1 & 2.  Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce: www.whitehorsechamber.com, and The Yukon Chamber of Commerce: www.yukonchamber.com

The best resource for entrepreneurs and business people are opportunities to network.  The chambers do this.  Both host events and have lists of local businesses that provide specific products or services for Yukoners or Whitehorse-ians. Great opportunities with these two chambers, and most communities either have local chambers or they'll have regional or provincial chambers.

Hope that everyone can find a resource to help them out in this list.  As sole-proprietorships, writers need to also see their writing as a business because there are laws regarding income, intellectual property and business activity in the instance of owning permits and licenses.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!  Hope you're all enjoying some form of cooked bird and underground tuber....

12/24/11

Count Down: 8 Top Websites for Writers

Count Down: 10 Days Until the New Year presents:

8 Top Websites for Writers

I have written on this before so I'll keep this list brief.  I'm going to try not to double up on my previous post or my recent email on ArtsNet by reiterating my favorite blogs or writers-only websites, instead I'm focusing on websites in general.

8)Joe Konrath Blog jakonrath.blogspot.com Successful genre-writing tips and a great list of about 300 recommended blogs as well.
7) Preditors and Editors: http://www.invirtuo.cc/prededitors/ A great website for ensuring you're not getting scammed by a fake or illegitimate editor or agent, etc.  They are being sued right now and are looking for donations to stay afloat, I honestly think it's worth supporting because they will report when agents, editors and publishers act inappropriately.  Take a look for yourself at their website.
6) Book Cover Archive: www.bookcoverarchive.com Search for book covers and the latest trends in the market.  Great for Self-Publishers.
5) Twitter: twitter.com You can follow a ton of people who are in the literary world like publishers, writers, editors and agents.  Each of these people pour out their knowledge daily in short snippets called tweets.  Some tweet often and others once a week, but it's a great way to keep on eye on things.  You can also check out the trends on hastags.  Usually with the pound symbol (#) before a word is called a hashtag.  Some popular ones for writers are: #amwriting, #writers, and #writing.
4) Media Bistro: mediabistro.com A website that give you information about the media publications that are open to pitches, gives feedback on writer-related items, such as how to write a resume as a writer. Worth taking a look at if you want to pitch magazines or large newspapers.
3)Places for Writers: placesforwriters.com Primarily Canadian, it posts when new opportunities to write are presented. I personally don't pitch to competitions because I would rather get published, but they also have a wonderful list of upcoming competitions that some writers will appreciate.
2) Easy Street Prompts: easystreetprompts.blogspot.com A website that posts a single photo everyday as a writing prompt.  Videos are given sometimes too.  Take a look if you're in a slump.
1) Blogger: blogger.com Okay a little bit silly but I've belonged to two other blogging locations before and they were so frustrating to learn and get used to that I never actually posted anything.  Blogger's great because you can use your blogger dashboard to subscribe to RSS feeds.  So, I've got a list of my favorite blogs and RSS feeds linked into my blogger and I couldn't be happier! One site for so much...

I hope you liked this list.  If you did, I'll have another list that's similar later on in this count down.  If you're a self-publisher or are interested in self or E publishing, then stay tuned for 4 days before New Years.  I'll have a short list of 4 great resources for self-publishers or e publishers.

12/23/11

Count Down: 9 Bad Habits Businesses Need to Banish

Count Down,  10 Days Until the New Year Presents...

9 Bad Habits Businesses Need to Banish

Some of my regular 1200 readers might be wondering, why are you all of a sudden giving out business tips? If you are a writer, then part of your job is being in business.  This includes freelancers, those who do business with other corporations or writers that work within a place of business such as publishing houses, newspapers and magazines. Each of these situations you work within a business,  if you're not any of the above then chances are-and knowing my readership- you are a writer who has a day job.

So, for each of your scenarios, I have these tips.

10) You say 'Yes' too much. Inherently the act of saying yes is not a bad thing, the problem arises when you don't know how to say 'no.'  Most businesses or business magazines have covered this at length and perhaps you've heard it.  Sometimes projects look great or they open doors, but you need to ask yourself a couple questions in order to know if you should take the assignment: a) Do I have the time to put in the work on a regular basis above my regular workload? b) Will anything else suffer? c) Can I meet the deadline? d) is there anyone else who could do this project that would do it just as well or sufficiently enough that I don't need to take this on?  Once you've asked yourself these, if the answers are predominantly no, then say No.

9)You try to appeal to everyone. Not everyone can be pleased.  Trust me. If you're looking to market yourself, cutting down your crowd is useful.  Target your marketing or platform approaches and you'll see way more success.  By trying to appeal to everyone, even in a single blog post, you're excluding everyone by having something there that doesn't appeal to them. Be direct and be succinct.  The succinctness will allow people to understand where you are coming from, tells them what your goal is and whether or not the reader can do anything about it.

8) Rudeness.  I face this more than some would believe.  I am originally from a small town and again once more I live in a small town.  When I was a teen I went into a cute store in my hometown and looked at the pretty baubles they had for girls.  While looking at them I asked the lady behind the counter what the price of one without a tag was, she yelled "I don't know," instead of checking.  Then, when I was looking elsewhere in the store, she said: "Listen, are you done yet?  I don't like teens hanging around in my store."  Not only is this rude, it shows ageism in a bad way and proves that the woman didn't know her market.  I walked out of that store and plainly said to her, "See that two-hundred dollar item up there on the shelf?  I was going to buy that for my mother for Christmas.  If you had been nice and helped me earlier I would have bought that for my sister.  Since you've been rude and offensive I'm going to spend my money elsewhere and I'll tell my friends to do the same."  I left and did tell my friends.  I had never been so offended in my life! Needless to say, the store closed before it reached it's first year in business

7) Bad Management.  A lot of chain stores have it, hence why they have a very tough time keeping employees.  There are lots of "types" of bad management. The truth is, many who hire in the retail industry for management positions rarely work that closely with the manager and rarely listen to staff feedback about the manager's performance. For a great article on this and behaviors of managers that suck, read this article "Managing Away Bad Habits," written by the Harvard Business Review.

6) Lack of Enthusiasm.  Having worked for Starbucks, their motto for employees is to "Create an Enthusiastic Experience for Every Customer, Every time."  This is quite high-reaching, but it works.  Most employees, which they may not always be thrilled by the prospects of working in a coffee shop forever, they certainly get swept off their feet in the training process which included enthusiastic management. (That's a nod at the previous number too.) If you don't like what you do, or you don't "feel" like getting out of bed to go to work, it's time for a career change.  Seriously. If you think, "Well, I just need to get more experience," or "I need to work here a full year or I'll look like a quitter," fine.  But, make yourself a promise to look for and apply for jobs you think you'd love as they come up.  There's no harm and the potential employer won't contact your current one until checking with you, or you can include it in your cover letter.  If you are a writer and don't like what you do, perhaps you need to change genres or audiences.  If you're writing for a beauty mag and you're slugging through the work, consider getting a job at a newspaper and writing your book on the side. 

5)Lack of Phone Etiquette. Too many times I call somewhere and the person is yelling at me, or answers with a "Yeah?" and I wonder: They want me to do business with them?  Nope, ain't going to happen!  You see, if they are that sloppy with their potential customers, how sloppy are they going to be with current customers.  I usually feign a "Sorry, wrong number," and then hang up and try their competitors.  Also, I can't stand automated phone lines.  If you only have ten employees and your phones don't automatically go to a receptionist, you're losing customers guaranteed.  I know because I hang up.  If I have to press a button to contact a human being, I press the hang up button and then I dial their competitor's number... noticing a pattern? Bad phone etiquette is hard to recover from because it's so easy for someone to lie to you or just hang up if they don't like what they hear, so be sure to mind your P's, Q's, don't slam the phone to hang up and turn your volume down.

4) Review Ignorance.  If you business is listed in the white or yellow pages of a phone book, then it is listed in that phone book's listing online.  If that is so, then you are capable of being reviewed.  I don't know why more people don't know this fact.  If you get a bad review on an important site, then you are hooped my friend. Even towns as small as Whitehorse have a review outlet, consider Yukono. http://yukono.com/  And, for the love of God, do not write a counter review by yourself.  It's so blatantly obvious to an actual or potential customer that it'll put them off for sure.

3) Habitual Ruts.  Most people have their own personal routine of how they pick out their outfit, for example.  Many businesses have a routine of how to enroll new customers, how to handle clients and case files and who to turn to for such and such information.  These need to stop.  These are called habitual ruts and when an office or business develop the same standard greeting in every year's Christmas Card, then it's time to make some change.  Perhaps reversing roles in the office for a day, perhaps getting employees to stop approaching others for information and making that available to them instead in a form of report or resources list is a couple of ways that a business can stop its dependency on habits.  Reason being that clients or customers can see the habit.  How many times have you gone to a dentist or doctor's office and the secretarial assistant hands you forms without a smile with a pen and motions (silently) to a chair. Repetitive much?  That's right, it's off-putting.  It's the same thing in any form of business, watch your habitual ruts.

2) Poor People Skills. Just like rudeness, poor people skills gets around.  Why? Poor people skills is not outright rudeness but it can be perceived as such. Also, your people skills are what's going to persuade others to partake in your business as a client or customer.  If you don't know the powers of persuasion, just look at Cleopatra and Julius Cesar.  That woman was persuasive and it saved her life, for a time. I've met new business people or individuals who work and wonder why they don't get raises or promotions and they whine about their lot in life.  Then I suggest, why don't you smile when you talk to clients?  I usually get this reply from them, "I'm not a people-person, and I don't like helping people." Well, then change jobs honey, because you are not doing well at this one.  The point is, your livelihood depends on your job and your success-people pleasing is a must.

1) Procrastination. The number one bad habit, for many good reasons.  First, most put stuff off because they believe they have lots of time.  So what?  You have lots of time? Put it to good use and get that project off your table before the next one, or worse-an emergency project- hits your desk leaving you with too little time to complete the project well or at all.  When most projects are put off until the last minute, it's obvious to the reciever and if you're working in a team, you've got people counting on you to bring the quality not just a "finished product."  Finishing school for young girls wasn't meant to kill them, as finishing as a verb would imply.  No, it would finish them.  Like a varnish it would polish them up and make them not only a good wife, but the best wife and woman they could possibly be in their instance.  Many cultures had this not only for women but for men too. Every project you put out should be something that's Finished; it has to be something you would be proud to put your name on it, because finished product is what sells to potential clients.

I hope this list was enlightening. Until tomorrow!

12/22/11

Cout Down, Ten Synonyms for Writers

Count Down: Ten Days Until The New Year presents...

Ten Synonyms for Writers

10) Ink Slinger
9) Scribbler
8) Contributor
7) Essayist
6) Poet
5) Editor
4) Author
3) Litterateur
2) Transcriber
1) Wordsmith: My personal favorite and my slogan.

Yes, yes.  Some are more specific, but nonetheless, it gives you ideas as to directions to take your writing, at least if you're unsure of your writing's future or if you're seeking a writing career, no?

10 Days Until The New Year

Hello everyone,

In preparation for the new year and all of those resolutions sure to be made, I have decided to do a Ten Days Until New Year's Eve count down.  I think this would be fun.  Later tonight I will post the first article. Stay Tuned!

Amanda

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule and hope everyone had a great Winter Solstice!

12/14/11

New Developments

I will begin a publication in the new year that will be placed in coffee shops, dentist and doctor office locations and will have advertising opportunities.  Business card size is going to be the average size of advertisement, however half page advertisements are available.

Pricing will be up soon, or you may contact me at the following information.  The first printing will be in January for the February month.

Amanda McDonald
867-334-3966
writeramandamcdonald@hotmail.com
or, comment below.

12/5/11

My Experience as a Self-Published Author, Guest Post


This is a guest post by Deanna Proach:

                                    My Experience as a Self-Published Author

"It's the best time to be published," said Bob Meyer at this year's writers conference in Surrey, British Columbia. In one way, he is right. It is the best time to be a published author because there are so many new ways for aspiring authors to get their books published. Self-publishing, e-format and paperback have become the norm, to the point where other authors would have you believe that it's the only way to go.
Self-publishing is not the only way to go. Many writers are still querying literary agents with the goal to strike it rich on their first book. But when you're starting out and you have no platform to boost your name, you might want to consider self-publishing. There are several book services out there that help new authors with the cover art, editing and formatting of their books. Then, there are companies that specialize in book promotion and marketing.
I went that route with Day of Revenge. The one good thing about self-publishing is that it gives you control over your creative work. If you work with a company like I did, the only task you are required to do is the marketing and promotion of your book. And, believe me. That is no easy task, especially when you have a meager web presence.
My experience as a self-published author has, overall been good. I've landed a number of internet radio interviews with Blog Talk Radio hosts, two speaking gigs (unpaid) and even organized four book signings: two in Penticton and two on the Sunshine Coast, the community where I reside. I consider my book launch as one of the book signing events. Yes, I made some very good connections. I have even written a personal story that will be published in another author's book. Her name is Christina Schlachter and she is a renowned motivational speaker.
I'm so thankful to have made these connections because I know that they will provide my second novel To be Maria with a nice platform. But, it is another story for Day of Revenge. I had no help with the marketing and I had no previous experience in marketing. So, getting it to sell well has been a struggle from the word go. Regardless, I have learned a lot from this first experience and my writing skills have improved dramatically; although, that probably has more to do with the fact that I switched to contemporary young adult, a genre I discovered I was most comfortable writing in.
So, what does all this have to do with self-publishing? Let's face it. In this bad economy, most prefer to read works from well-known authors. While self publishing does offer some benefits, it is not profitable. If you feel strongly about your novel, have received positive feedback from readers and other writers and are determined to make a handsome living from your books, then I strongly encourage you to seek out an agent or small royalty-paying press.

To learn more about Deanna Proach, you can visit her blog, http://desstories.blogspot.com or her website at www.deannaproach.com.  

12/2/11

Self Publishing

I went to a writing retreat in the fall and I have to say that I learned a lot about e-publishing as well as self publishing that  I didn't to begin with, but my opinion hasn't changed all that much.  For my initial blog about self-publishing versus traditional please click here.  I will have a few other blog posts and links below for anyone thinking about these processes or considering either.

YukonDude posted a question quite awhile ago about e-publishing and my opinion about such publishing.  You can see his secondary comment by clicking on the link I have above and scrolling down to see his comment.

The thing with e-publishing is that it makes it easy to buy for the tech-savy reader, it creates a large production range for the author/writer and it produces a plethora of reading for that writer's readership because the author can publish his or her own short stories, long stories or stories too short for one or too long for the other.
What someone considering e-publishing has to consider is the marketting.  Yes, it's less expensive than the marketing of paperback books but it's also very intensive.  The person who has written must therefore publish but then put the book out, it cuts out distributors and the actual publishers, hence: the middle man.

I can see these things making for a really positive outlook on e-publishing, but I would like to press that this is all great if you already have a readership.  If you don't you're just publishing a book that may or may not get readership. Marketing your book, going through the process of adding your book to e-bookstore locations, and then getting the odds and ends (think: book cover) done all take away time from what's most important to me: my writing.

If I do self-e-publish, then it would be in the far future after I have a large readership, but probably not.

When I truly love a book or writer, I buy their books because I know I'll want it for my permanent collection.  As a writer I have to hope that I can touch readers in that way... to make a reader want to keep my book for their permanent collection.

Now, as a person who understands she has her own bias here, I have invited Deanna Proach, a self-published author, to guest post here.  She wrote a historical fiction, Day of Revenge and can speak to the realities of self-publishing. We'll have her speak on Monday around 5pm. Keep an eye out for that post.

Here's the list of previous blogs regarding traditional, self or e-publishing.

Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Four things to consider if submitting traditionally


Here are some other blogs that I would recommend for writers looking at each of these forms.

Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing:  Caution, the video is very skewed in one way because the presenter is the CEO for a self-publishing company.  I would skip the video all-together! Read the article though.
Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Which will make you more money?  This one is great if you understand the numbers game... but let's be honest here, if you can't figure out these numbers then...
Self-Publish, or not? Brings up some good points...
Is self-publishing for you? Pros and Cons.  This writer has products for sale, and usually I am hesitant to recommend anything that advertises items, but the information is good and it's proof that she self-publishes.
3 Self-Publishing Pros and Cons  A little amateur and doesn't deal with every problem I would note, this blog entry has the tone of supporting self-publishing.
Traditional Publishing Pros and Cons A really great look at traditional publishing and it's pros and cons.  Brings to light some things that hopeful authors might not know.
Traditional Publishing: Pros and Cons Not bad, but as the image shows, it's a bit one sided.
What are the pros and cons of traditional publishing? This website launches not only into traditional, but also e-publishing, POD (Print on Demand) and self-publishing.

I hope this help, remember to come back on Monday for Deanna Proach's guest blog on self-publishing.

12/1/11

Subscribers, Addicts and Readership

Wow, I was only looking at the blogger count of subscribers this entire time, knowing that I have two bloggers from blogger that have subscribed.  I always figured that this was a low number but it was better than 0, right?  Plus, at the minimum I have two loyal readers.  So, thanks to N.A. Pedde and to Neragioia who have both subscribed via blogger.

However, I think that my Karma in positive belief is returning to me because I took a look at feedburner and a couple other stat sites and they stated that I have over 27 regular viewer that have subscribed to my feed.  Plus, there are over 1200 viewers on my blog every month.

Might not be much compared to the traffic that authors with 20 books published might get, but I'm stoked.  Thanks everyone for the readership.  Without you folks I wouldn't have a readership.  ;-)  Much love goes out to you!

11/30/11

Brave New Sex

Brave New Sex and the Nakai's 24 hour play writing competition were both great. I had a lot of enjoyment reading my play at the latter and seeing what else was written.

At Brave New Sex each performer was given feedback by the crowd.  I received twenty-six feedback cards and appreciate each of them.  Mostly positive in nature, there were about three recommendations, each of them different. 

Here are a few for my blog readers:

"I really liked your informal manner and how you interacted. Thank you for sharing."

"Wonderful and moving, love the ending. Got Goosebumps."

"Nice job. Great story. Very personal. Very well told. Nice delivery. I was totally enthralled."


I would now like to give the crowd my own feedback, "Thanks for coming and thank you for making my presentation easy."

Thanks again to everyone who came, produced and participated.

11/22/11

From Nakai...

Hey Everyone, read below. This is a post by Ruth of Nakai Theatre on ArtsNet.  Emphasis on the Cash Bar is mine ;)
Permissions to re-post this on my blog were given.
 
 
The 24 Hour Playwriting Cabaret takes place at the Yukon Inn Fireside Room on Friday, Nov. 25 at 7 pm.

$5 at the door.

MC Anthony Trombetta!
 
Participants from the 24 Hour Playwriting Competition will present the best 5 minutes of their plays. Many plays that began at the 24 Hr Playwriting Competition and Cabaret went on to be produced. 
Some of the playwrights reading their scripts are: Mike Ellis, Anna Hamilton, Doug Rutherford, Claire Ness, Anthony Trombetta, Norm Hamilton, Amanda McDonald, and Jack Jenkins. 
 
Exciting prizes will be awarded. Some of the categories are:
  • Best Line
  • People's Choice (YOU get to choose this one) 
  • Ryan Leef's Championship Title (Best Title)
  • Best Appearance by a Sasquatch Philosopher
  • Larry's (Bagnell, that is) Last Line
  • And 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize.

There will be a cash bar.
$5 cover
So come out to support local theatre and watch these theatre junkies make a scene!
 
Ruth Borgfjord
Nakai Theatre
Marketing Director. Producer
867 - 334 - 0317

11/15/11

Dress Rehearsal

Well, this weekend the crew for Brave New Sex ran through the whole lineup for Brave New Sex's performance this coming weekend.  It was great, everyone rocked.

Yes there's some explicit content, but it's not out and out erotica, so don't worry if sex makes you squirm, you'll enjoy it.

The line up has so much talent that I was a little shy for my own piece since the caliber of the other presenters was so high.  I guess, as a writer or artist-if you're picked for a project you have to assume it's for a reason.  Either your stuff was good enough to get picked, or it wasn't.  That always makes me feel better. 

Some of the amazing talent you'll find.  Take a look at the poster:


11/11/11

3 Reasons to NaNoWriMo

I recently read an article called "3 Reasons Not to do NaNoWriMo," and while she makes some valid claims, she's missing the point of NaNoWriMo.


Marla says the three following reasons are reasons not to participate:

1) Is this your real writing goal right now?
2) Set up for stress
3) Short-Term imbalance, long term effects.

I will argue the following:

1) Write with purpose: NaNoWriMo, is called National Novel Writing Month but the goal is only 50,000 words. Does this make a novel, no. Does it make a great start to a novel, yes. The problem is that most people continuously say "I want to write a novel," but do they?

I read an article last week that said out of the houndreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people that say they want to write a novel, only 5% actually ever finish the script and have a completed project in their hands. That's a handful of the initial amount. That means, if you're sitting there thinking "one day I'll write my novel," you've got a one in twenty chance of ever getting it done. In a world where one in four get cancer, those odds are pretty slim-comparatively. So, you're more likely to get cancer than write your novel.

Catch my drift? Nanowrimo gives you the ability to say, "I don't care if I finish it all this month, I'm going to start." And how can you finish something you never start?

2) Plan your time: 50,000 words is the goal, but it's not necessary. If you don't complete 50,000 words, you won't fail. They won't throw you in jail. So, participants need to be realistic and can't expect a whole lot in a month. It took me over 16 months to write my novel, and it's still not done editing. Also, I had to work. There was not way I was going to complete a novel in a month, even as a single person without kids, a job etc. An author in my genre, Laurel K Hamilton, takes on average 6 months to write a novel and she's in the double digits of published novels. If a professional writer has a hard time living life and pumping out novels within 6 months. You are not going to finish a completed and edited version of a novel in 30 days.

Try this instead:

Every weekday, write 1000 words. It's about an hour's worth of writing, if you've planned ahead and don't get stuck. If you don't type quickly, write it out by hand. On weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, write 3800 words a day. This works out to exactly 50,000 words by the end of a month. This can be done in the morning before you wake, over your breaks at work and perhaps at night to unwind before you go to bed. When you take 15 minutes here and 30 minutes there, over time it all adds up. If you miss your 1000 words today, do you owe 2000 tomorrow? No. You don't. You owe 1000 words tomorrow. Mourn the loss of yesterday's possibilities and get over it. If you go into writing debt, you'll never get out of it.

Do what you can, don't break your back and it'll lead to my next point.

3) Create a Habit. Nanowrimo isn't just for the newbie writer, it's for people who want to write. Those people who have always enjoyed writing but for one reason or another don't. Perhaps they've been told by local artists that writing fiction isn't a worthy art form, perhaps even writing at all has been taught to them as a "necessary evil" throughout their lives, but something makes them want to tell a story.

That's what writing is: you are a story teller and you are telling the universe that you deserve to tell that story. Writing can consist of writing in a journal every day, making sketches of a story line or writing scenes as they come to you. Writing is a habit and it's one that takes a long time to pick up. There's always excuses and there's always a reason not to. I've found it akin to going to the gym, "I don't have time," tends to take the lead when I think of excuses. Like the gym, I end up feeling grateful I hauled my butt out of bed though. It's been a long lesson to learn, but when I start writing-even when it's hard to continue writing, I look back at what's on the page and I hate it, but I feel great it's out. Sometimes I end up throwing it out, but most times it works just fine. Most of the time, if I show up my muse will too...it's just harder to detect her presence if I'm in a crappy mood.

This time is to create, not necessarily a novel, but to create the habit of writing and making it a priority in your life if you're serious about being a writer. Perhaps you only want to write a memoir, perhaps you absolutely hate writing. If this is the case, don't do Nanowrimo. If you hate writing, don't write.

If you hate writing, create an outline of how you would want your memoir organized right down to the chapter and perhaps paragraph. Once done, speak into a voice recorder. Then, send the recording to get transcribed. Take the transcription, organize it into your format and then edit it or send it away to be edited.

In the end, it doesn't matter how you write, only that you learn what your commitment level is. If you truly hate to write, then don't. Hire someone else or don't write at all. Paint, draw, skydive. Usually, people who aren't just having a hard time but truly loathe writing produce writing that people loathe to read.

If you truly love to write, Nanowrimo is the time of year you can commit to writing on a regular basis and teach your family or friends about your new commitment. Because, if you love to write- you won't mind doing it on your breaks, early in the morning or late at night. You'll find the time because after November, you'll have taught yourself that even when you don't feel like it, it's worth it to earn the exhilarating feeling of creating something from scratch and being a part of that 5%.

11/10/11

Brave New Sex Details

Brave New Sex

Where:   Baked Cafe, Whitehorse Yukon
When:    7 pm on November 18th and 19th
Tickets:  At the Door!

 Come see me perform my short piece:
"Bravery in the Face of Sexuality."

11/7/11

Preggers

No I'm not pregnant.  It's the name of my new play, a script I wrote this past weekend.

This weekend I participated in the Nakai Theatre's 24 hour playwriting competition, which-we won't find out the details for until the 25th of November. So, I invite you all to the following event:


Nakai Theatre's 24 Hour Cabaret
When: 7pm, 25th November
Where: Yukon Inn Fireside Room
Cost: $5.00 at the door

Come and see who will win some great categories and cheer me on as I read about 5 minutes worth of my play.  





10/26/11

Writing with Parental Obligations

In a comment, a reader asked me two questions.  This is the second question.  The first was published yesterday on my blog 25 Oct 2011: How do I generate ideas?

As a Parent, what are your suggestions regarding getting time to write amidst all of the other obligations?


I can say that I continue to struggle with this one everyday.  I only have one child and the comment by Kane indicated that he had five children.  I am hoping that in his case however, that some of his children are old enough to amuse themselves and if so, they can also be called upon to amuse the other children.
 
In my case I went through a pretty traumatic labour and birthing time with my daughter, so after she was born there was a period of about three months that I didn't get the chance to write at all.  She was, and still can be, a very needy child.  This is not a negative thing: in fact I love my little cuddle bug.  The problem arrived int he form of me not being able to put her down at all in those early months.  If she fell asleep, she woke when I put her down.  At night, she needed to be close to the breast at all times for her soothing needs.  Also, my husband was a little shell shocked (and rightfully so) with how much work was required to keep this little human alive and to take care of me.  I was quite a mess during this time.
 
Finally, I actually felt organized enough to put the baby down.  She cried, and that was okay.  I let her cry for the first time in three months, and I cried because I forced myself to teach her that she was not entirely dependant on me every moment of the day, even at three months old.  But it's hard for us as parents too because we play so many roles in children's lives that they can become too dependant. Sugarbee (That's what I'll call my daughter here) needed to be taught she could soothe herself.  Within a week, a hard week, she had learned that once a day I put her down on a play mat with toys suspended above her and mommy sits out of sight (her sight, not mine) and is there in case she has a problem. 
 
I was able to write for about 30 minutes.  Then, when she got older and could roll, I began to put her on the floor more often or in a playpen so that she could play.  That usually afforded me a total of an hour a day (on Maternity Leave) to write.
 
What about other parents?
 
Well, it comes down to the following: Where is it on your priority list?  Writing for me is below Children, spouse, and family but it is above church (Gasp! I know.  God understands-I assure you.) work, exercise and extra curricular activities; for me extra curriculars include choir, painting and jewelery making.
 
Then, you need to take time from all of those things at the bottom of the list and apply that time to your writing. So, for me it means writing on my breaks at work, writing instead of signing up for that painting class that I really wouldn't mind taking-at least until the ultimate goal is met.
 
If you have a specific goal in mind it really helps to solidify what you're willing to give up.  My goal is to be a New York Times best selling author in one year from today, and have a contract on a second book ready.  For me there's no true end game in sight.  My dream is to make a living off of my writing.
 
If you want to make a hobby of your writing, then give it the same time you would give other hobbies; remember though, every hobby requires a commitment of resources to some degree.  You don't take music lessons without either buying or renting an instrument.  Same with writing.  You don't need a computer (until you begin to want to pitch it) nor do you need fancy anything (besides a notepad that would make you proud) the commitment for writing is about time. 
 
Just like I did with Sugarbee, if you make writing a habit and a priority-your family will too. They'll get used to seeing you there and get used to the level of priority you make of it.  If you flake out, or you say you're going to write and then crawl out of your writing space to play with your kids, you're teaching them that it's not truly a priority to you.
 
Trust me, amidst the complaints you'll get about needing your attention-eventually you'll get left alone to focus, it's just a matter of time.

10/25/11

Question: How do I generate Ideas?

I had a question posed to me about two things that are both independant but are fairly related. I will pose the question here and break it down.

"You're a mother. I'm a working father (of 5). So, from one parent to another, do you have any advice for how to generate ideas, and get to the craft despite the clamour that usually attends parenthood?"

First: Do I have any advice on how to generate ideas? I'll deal with the second tomorrow.


Yes, in fact I do.  I have this little notebook, it's rather old (two year) but it's one that was fairly expensive for it's size ($16.99 for 5.5inch by 4inch with about 50 pages.)  I bought it at a cafe in Prince George literally, the day before I moved up to Whitehorse.  It was October 30th and I arrived in Whitehorse the 2nd of November because we got hit by bad weather the whole way up and we were driving a Uhaul.  Plus, there were almost no trucks on the road clearing or salting.  We got to the newly covered areas before the trucks could.  It was disastrous!

But, on to my suggestion.  Buy yourself a book that you like to look at and is tough enough to withstand heavy abuse.  The pages themselves have to be thick.  No more buying those crappy notebooks that you can see the color of your skin through, because they won't hold up-I guarantee it.  Worse yet, they won't serve your purpose.  If you can't stand the look of your book, or everytime you pull it out to make a note you rip a page, you'll stop using it within the week.  Also ensure that your book is about pocket sized. 

Some say, "but I don't know if I want to write, so going cheaper is better isn't it?"

No. It isn't.  Reason? If you have a crappy experience just trying to keep track of all of your earth-shattering ideas, you'll quickly discard the writing dream too...only, it'll rear it's ugly head everytime you hear a J.K. Rowling story or if someone you know gets published.  The cycle begins anew!  So, do it right the first time.

What about, "I always lose those books though, and I hate carrying them around?"  Well, you have an alternate choice.  Ensure you always have paper and pen in your car, in your purse or wallet (you can get some miniature pens/pencils and slip an index card into the cash side of your wallet) and keep your notebook at home.  This is what my notebook started out as.  It was a repository of all of my ideas.  If I had ideas important enough to write them down, I quickly put them into this notebook when I got home at the end of my day. 

Eventually you won't be able to live without your notebook because if you plan on going to a cafe to write or to the library to scour sources for ideas you recently had, you'll need your book.  Plus, if you begin this little exercise, you'll find that you really do have a ton of ideas.  Most people have tons of ideas but we fail to acknowledge them and fail to remember them.  Writing them down does this.

Imagine this:

You sit at a computer screen and see the blank white screen in front of you.  You think, "I want to be a writer, I have great ideas!"  You put your hands on the keyboards and type....nothing.

When most people sit down to write, that's not the time to think-it's time to write!  So, keep your ideas so that when you sit at that computer you're not wasting time trying to get an idea.  Expand on one in your notebook.  That way you won't waste a moment!

Tomorrow I will answer the second question which is: As a Parent, what are your suggestions regarding getting time to write amidst all of the other obligations? (See that post Here)

Happy writing.

10/17/11

Writer's Group

You'll know that in a previous post I have gotten a Critique/Editing group off the ground and we had our first meeting yesterday.  I must interject here that it really was no big deal to organize and took only a couple of minutes each day to email the list serve ArtsNet or reply to participant emails.  I took a look at people's availability and picked the best day.  We did lose one possible member, but when availabilities are pretty common and one's schedule is always changing it comes down to who's going to be the most dedicated member?

We met and not only was everyone who promised to be there present, I think our group hit it off nicely.  I know that some personalities will eventually rub us the wrong way when we get into the groove of editing, etc. but when it comes to being social, everyone's been amazing!

I've also finished reading everyone's work that they submitted and I've written my notes on them and highlighted what was fantastic, and let me tell you-there's a lot of highlighting!  Everyone in our group is SUPER talented!

So, that being said.  Those of you who do not believe in these groups- good for you.  I do believe that writers should find and cultivate a close circle of peers for readership review and industry standards checking.

If you read a lot of long-standing authors, many have writers' groups or belong to them.  Laurell K Hamilton, who appears regularly on my blog, has belonged to a writer's group called "the Alternate Historians" since the 80's, which is a pretty cool name, don't you think?  I've even seen the acknowledgement for a group in one of Stephen King's novels. 

While suggestions to alter manuscripts or other projects can be made from a person's personal or taste-related standpoint, there is often a pattern that can occur when someone is getting feedback.  Our group talked a little bit about if more than two people have said it, it's worth considering because then you know it's not just a personal quirk of the critiquer.  But, one thing we failed to mention-and is worth considering, isn't just the number of responses, it's the number of heads that nod.  If a number (over two-as it is the magical number) are nodding at someone's comments or muttering "um-hm" while that critiquer is talking, it's also worth considering. 

Sometimes something just doesn't work, so it's always worth considering someone's opinion but in the end if the manuscript takes off or flops, it's going to be a reflection of you-keep that in mind after the critiques when you've got the delete button under your finger.

Brave New Sex

I recently submitted a piece, non fiction/memoir-style, for the upcoming Brave New Sex which is put on by Brave New Works.  I presented the first scene of my novel at Brave New Works last year around this time and jumped at the opprotunity to present something again.


Well, I sent in my submission and eagerly awaited an answer.  This weekend I got one, here's part of the message:  (Please note: I have officially recieved permission to post about Brave New Sex.)


     "Hi Amanda,

       Thanks so much for your submission for Brave New Sex! Lauren and I have decided on the programming for the show, and are pleased to include you in what we know will be an amazing show!
     We'd like to have you present your piece, and can offer a dramaturgy session with Celia McBride and an editing/writing session with Patricia Robertston. More information about scheduling and sessions will be available soon. We're looking at having six other pieces/performers, plus one short video within the performance."


And there was more, but that stuff is not relevant to you, my readers.  What IS relevant to you is WHEN the presentations will be.


Brave New Sex will be on Nov. 18th and 19th (Subject to change) and location and times TBA, they will be posted here as I find them out!


So STAY TUNED!!!!

10/13/11

Four things to consider if submitting traditionally.

In the fairly quick-paced world of publishing, ebooks and POD presses, a lot is changing.  If you are an author who wishes to continue through traditional publishing, there are some major things to take into consideration. 

First: Why are you publishing traditionally?
Second: What Publishers are you looking to query/submit to?
Third: Have they had any improprieties?
Fourth: Have you looked through writers associations of your genre or style to find out what the authors in your industry are saying about those publishers?

Example:

I have written a book that could be called a political thriller, but it is based on a fantasy premise and focused on the urbanization of the fantastical world in which it was based.  This would make my book, Urban Fantasy, with regards to submissions or querying. 

When I looked at the SFWA, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, they had a list of publishers but beside them they also had notes by some.  Others, if clicked on, led to a page about the infractions.  Go to this page to see what SFWA had to say about the publisher: Dorchester Publishing Company

If you click on this page, it demonstrates that not one single author cried wolf.  Many authors had claims against this publishing group that led the SFWA to warn their writers against associating with this company. 

Does this mean that traditional publishing is bad? No.  It means there's bad apples and that writers have to be very careful about where they submit.  These authors had contracts but the company, allegedly, broke contract agreements to make more money at the writer's expense.  Soooo not cool.

So, careful writers.  You don't want to get taken advantage of...

Google

Well,

Two months ago I googled myself and found-to my absolute delight-that I appeared at third place on the first page.  That was really something, considering how common the names Amanda and McDonald are.  I am a little peeved today to find that I have slipped to eight.  8!  Well, I guess I better get posting eh?

Winks,

AMANDA MCDONALD!

Take that, Google!

9/23/11

Critique/Editing group

Hello All!

It is fall and there are a lot of new beginnings, and a lot of summer things completing if not already over.  The trees are yellow, orange and red and getting ready to adjust to the change of year.

So too must writers.  The freedom that late night light and warm weather affords will push us inside and force us more than ever to get cozy more than we would in the summer.  In the summer we spend time outside just to read, to listen and meditate, and for activities like running, etc.

In the winter we still spend activity time outside, but the less defined time is spent indoors.

With that in mind, we look to the best activities for writers that require intense time indoors.  Editing.  And what's editing without a critique group?

Announced:

I am beginning a writer's critique/editing group for the area of Whitehorse.  The group will meet once a month and I currently have approximately 5 people interested, with one 'Maybe.' 

This group will be for writers of any genre or medium; whether you are western, sci-fi or fantasy, and especially if you are a novel, memoir or poetry writer. This group is to bring people together who can look both within their style and outside of it, and for people who are willing to learn from others.  If you'd like to participate you will need to be willing not only to give pieces to critique/edit but also to take pieces to critique and edit. 

Don't be shy.  All the best writer's list critique groups in their acknowledgements and it's truly astounding the things you learn from other writers.  So, in support of other Northern Writers and Linguistic artists, send me an email and lend your expertise!
 My phone and email information is listed on my business page. 

9/15/11

Creation is done... Editing to commence...

Well, my novel is finished-the writing phase at least.  I am pretty proud that I got it done because getting the story out in the first place is where I have the hardest part with follow-through.  Right now I am in the midst of the "settling period" between when you finish the creation phase and begin editing...

I really enjoy editing because I go back and look at the writing that somehow flowed out of my consciousness and became this huge work.  Now, as I edit I have to go back and wonder where my brain was and why some things don't make sense.  I also marvel at how neat it is to go back and see something and remember Oh yeah, I wanted to flesh that out yet I didn't because something else came up either in the process of writing or in the story.  It's neat...

I like to think of God as a great editor.  He created this world (if you believe that) and had a couple of phases where things got edited out-think dinosaurs.  But for the most part his creation is self-editing isn't it?  Clever guy...  Now on to the hard part.  I find that I complained a lot about my procrastination so I thought it worth noting that the scene that I struggled with for the better part of four to six months didn't best me... It's completed and probably 60% of it will change, but for now I completed a 80 000 word draft...

Whew.

7/18/11

Barely here...

In the past my delinquency in writing has been due to a lack of direction with where the story was going, or perhaps I knew the basic plot but couldn't strum up the smaller-but more important) strings of character development and plot arch. 

Now, I find that everything is well planned... I just have to get the darned words out.  But it's not happening.

Frustrating enough would be the issues with writing, but now it's motivation.  It's as if I'm bored with my topic, but shring it with others seems exciting... then it's drowned with self-doubt.  Who'd want to read what I write?  Who cares about my genre of fiction anymore, anyways?  Seriously, aren't people sick of vampires yet?  What's my writing got that others don't?

Well, you get the point.  It seems, since my daughter's been able to walk, I've been completely unmotivated to write because I'm exhausted.  When I finally get time to myself, I'm selfish and steal all of it from my writing.  My poor muse looks like a crack addict on one of those posters ten years after she's been introduced.  She looks like she's 60! 

Writing this blog alone looks like it's rejuvinated her!  (My apologies for the absence for awhile.)

I have to find motivation.  For that reason, I'm looking at articles about motivation.  Follow me on twitter to see the articles and doo-dads that I find....

5/27/11

At it's best it's still procrastination...

It's been a while, but I'm still procrastinating??? Ugh!

Recently I realised that the same scene has been sitting there waiting for me to finish her. Imagining the scene is quite interesting because, in it, the main character gets attacked by a zombies and I can just imagine her frozen beneath the zombie saying... hurry up and finish the scene... this guy stinks.


This message was sent from a mobile phone.

5/11/11

Out and About

Today my husband and I went out for diner.  We'd had a great week overall and we wanted to celebrate.  There are two wonderful things that came out of this diner and one thing I want to rant about.

I guess I should start with the rant and get it out of the way.  I bring my daughter out often because she is such a well-behaved child.  The problem today is that she happens to be teething really bad.  We sat in a restaurant with very few patrons and let our baby play and draw and sometimes she whined.  Primarily it was a hollow cry that meant "Let me play with your phone."  I don't like her to whine for things, so I hold the item in front of me and I shush her.  If she doesn't quiet down I don't give it to her, I offer her instead a distraction. 

This usually works like a charm.  Unfortunately, my baby girl didn't.  She wanted my cell and she wanted it bad.  Finally I shushed her and then handed her the phone, why? Because, she's in pain, she's cranky and she's not whining to have her way--she's whining because she's got no more patience left.  On my right I had a solo man reading constantly shaking his head whenever he looked at us and then we had a pair of elderly women in a corner across from us tsk-ing my choice to hand her the phone.  I only have one thing to say to each: warning.  I'm not holding anything back.

Man with the book:  Get the hell over it, we're not "them with children," We're the average Canadian.. you're the anomaly.  If you want to be a single book reader without children interrupting your meal so you can read, go sign up at a monastery.  I hear there's a nice one in New Westminster.

Women in the corner: Screw off.  Last time you had to deal with a one year old, you were probably fighting off Americans in the year of 1912, or perhaps you were watching as Americans came trucking through the Yukon to build the Alaska Highway.  Either way, you don't know my child-at least not to the level that I do.

Up for something more pleasant now???

The two positive things were really awesome.

The first may seem trivial, but to be honest it really made our day and it saved us a pretty penny.  The one thing I hate about eating out with a one year old is that you never know what to order your child.  Children's menus tend to only cater to children who eat completely independently.  Adult menus are more expensive and the servings are much larger. So my husband and I were fretting over what to order her when we saw some really small script at the top of the children's menu, "Children under Two eat free."

Hurray!

My daughter got her mashed potatoes and gravy for free, saving us a ton of money.  Plus, she got a glass of warmed milk for free.  I was so stunned, I wondered why we hadn't eaten there sooner.  How do people not know about this?  So... if you're in Whitehorse, eat at......... Ricki's.  I know they have a bad rep-what for, I don't know. But the food, although chok-full of sodium, was really yummy.  They have some neat dishes that aren't at all scary, and the lengths they went through to make sure my family was situated comfortably, it put icing on the customer service cake.

The third item total, but second happy item.  My husband's and my wedding song came on while we ate.  I don't know why, but I haven't heard it since my baby girl was born.  As I sat there elated that the bill would be smaller, I also appreciated having my family around me and felt much more relaxed than I had in ages.

I better get to bed, but before I go... try this: for every one thing you could rant about, find two items you appreciate.  Good night sweet world.

5/7/11

Mother, Mother and Daughter.

Since becoming a mother, I've learned to appreciate how hard my own mother's worked at raising me.  I remember her tell us about times that my father, working in construction, would buy a loaf of bread and a package of meat.  He'd cut both open, slap the stuff together into sandwiches and stuff them in the freezer.  This would be his lunches throughout the week or, more accurately, paycheck.

I think about the woman behind that man, the woman who'd bought us $1.00 bags of chips from Zellers when we really wanted them and sprinkled household vinegar on them so that we'd have salt n vinegar chips.  It was pretty simple.

The things that's really getting to be lately however is the realization that I'm not my own mother.  I thought, because I knew my mother and she was a very great mom, perhaps I would recognize when I needed to do this or say that.  So far, nothing's clicking.  I'm still just as clueless.

I sit between my mother and my daughter as the go-between, the unwitting jokes-on-you fool.  I wonder if somehow I'll be able to handle it as gracefully as my grandmother did or as fiercely as my own mother. There are times where I look at my mother and feel as though nothing's changed and then my daughter's handed to me and I remember, Everything's Changed.

It's hard for me not to feel like a fool, for a child, when I see my parents and think of them as any child does their parents.  Even as a mother I have these deep recesses of self-consciousness when I doubt everything, hear Mom's voice and think, nah, maybe I shouldn't do it my own way.

Then, I look at my beautiful daughter, who is perfectly healthy (and a content baby at that) and I know I can do it.  I just have to stop second guessing myself.  You see the degree of difficulties and number of challenges are not what scares me or worries me about being a parent, it's that nagging self-doubt that I have in me.  For some reason it's there most when I'm with my parents.  I feel as though I constantly have to defend myself and work harder to prove myself, when really-I'm a grown up in my own home with my own family and I shouldn't have anything to prove.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.  Tomorrow, show that you have nothing to prove to anyone.  You're a Mother, or perhaps you're a father, and you are there.  You show up, take care of your child and love them with all of your heart.  So what if you let them have cheese before they were 1 year old, or you accidentally forgot to change their diaper for a whole day in their first week of life.  Perhaps you've accidentally banged their head against the roof when getting them out of the car.  It doesn't mean you shouldn't be a parent.  This second guessing ourselves means we were meant to be parents and it means we're Damn good ones too.  You see, if we never questioned ourselves, then it would be time to worry.  Our worth as parents goes down exponentially when we truly believe we're the best at it.  But, if we can convince ourselves for one day at least that we not only are good parents, but that we deserve to be parents, then we're truly making progress.

You and I, we're going to get better at this... and we'll laugh, cry and regret all the same; but we truly deserve to be able to look at our child and feel fulfilled.

Happy Mother's Day!