Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Whole Month

Wow, I can't believe that I am getting close to a month since I posted. I will have to do much better if I am going to keep this blog going. I mean you can only leave it for so long before it begins to feel abandoned.

I would like to say that I have been so busy that I haven't had time to post a little blurp here and there because the truth is that I haven't been that busy. Don't get me wrong, I have had a lot of work the last month but I still had time to come on and post a little tidbit. I also had tons of ideas, topics I wanted to cover here but it seemed like too much of a chore to post. Not the best way to look at a blog.

So although I am only going to have a short post tonight, my pre-New Year resolution will be to post at least once a week and to enjoy it. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

It's been awhile

I was doing so well in posting on a regular basis and then I let it fall through my hands. Part of the reason why I have been so silent is that I have been busy working on a number of freelance writing contracts. Yes, the novel is being ignored, again!

The other part is just life. I celebrated my 31st birthday last week. Hurray for me! I'm not too concerned with the number, I mean I used to be concerned because I was supposed to have saved the world by the time I was 30. Without a doubt that was what I had thought when I was a little girl; that I was put on this earth to save it somehow. It's strange how the imaginings of childhood still haunt you when you are an adult and you wake up one morning when you are 29 realizing that you haven't saved the world yet. Oh my God! Where did I put that red cape?

So 31 comes with a realization that maybe I won't save it but I can do little things that will make it a better place. Maybe, just maybe, something I write or something I do will change just one life for the better, hopefully a lot more (hint, hint, wink, wink at you world, just kidding). The morning of my birthday was wonderful and my kids had bought me a foot massager because you can't save the world with soar feet or without a nice pedicure. Then it was off to get my health card updated and then back to do some work. No day off for me.

It wasn't until my brother called that the day went bad and I am sure that he is completely unaware of it. Needless to say, by the end of the conversation I was barely able to hold back my tears and the moment that I hung up the phone I collapsed into sobs. I don't want to get into what was said, my brother wasn't mean but there is a history and things were rehashed (isn't that the case with all families). The rest of the day was a wash but somehow I managed to finish up an article and get it sent out when I went back to work at night.

I work mostly at night by the way. During the day I am a stay at home mom although I try to sneak in a few minutes here and there to touch base with clients and nap time is a perfect time to write. It makes life interesting but that is why I am grateful that I am a writer.

There is the long story as to why I haven't been writing. Things keep you busy or they keep you down and sometimes it takes a little while to scramble out from underneath whatever is burying you, whether it's work, family or emotions, and get back into the swing of things.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A frequent conversation at home

Although every family has unique conversations that you won't hear anywhere else, I often find that being a writer offers a different flavour to those conversations.

A common conversation that takes place in our house is as follows and if anyone was listening they might be inclined to call the police or something.

Husband, "So, how many people did you kill this time?" (in your story, novel, etc, is left unsaid)

"Oh, come on, it's not that bad," I say, indignation dripping from my voice as I look away from him.

Silence. I shuffle the papers that contain my latest story, the white edges nipping into my fingers as I flex my hand, before I sigh in resignation. "Two," I mutter, "But there was a really good reason why they died. It's not like I did it on purpose and it was only two this time."

"Only two," a smile teases the words and his light brown eyes, "Well, I guess that's something."


Now in my defense, I don't purposely start a story planning on killing a character off, at least not usually. Generally a series of plot twists will lead to the ultimate conclusion that some character really had one purpose and that was to be killed off (although some die peacefully).

On that note, I'm off to work. Today I am writing non-fiction for a client so rest assured that no imaginary character is going to bite the big one in any of the writing I do today.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"I'm a genius!"

As said by that funny little sloth in Ice Age, Sid the Sloth. Yes I watch cartoons and I love them but besides that I am feeling great.

I was recently asked to do something that I had never done before in my writing career. It wasn't exactly hard work but it was a bit more technical then I am used to doing. I took the challenge because I thought it was interesting and I want to expand as a writer.

The first attempt was awful and I got this sinking feeling that much like my venture into children's writing, this may be a style that I am not capable of writing. Not trying to discourage myself, I gave the good ol' college try and submitted again. This time, they saw some things that they liked but just didn't think it was what they were looking for.

Yep, this is definitely going the way of the children's books. My ego was a little dashed and I found myself avoiding the work since I was so horrible about it. Still, deadlines reigned and I had to get back to work. I like to say that the light bulb finally came on but I think it was really the third times the charm type thing. I completely scraped what I had and reformatted it and completely rewrote it.

I am happy to say that outside of one minor change, they are very happy with it and my confidence sky rocketed. I think I'm at Venus by now. Top off that success with an email confirming publication in Southern Families Magazine for the November/December issue has made it a very good day indeed.

Now I am on my way to reward myself for a job well done and then tomorrow I am back into the grind and my confidence will be firmly in its place after its tour of the universe.

Monday, November 5, 2007

I haven't forgotten you...

I know, it's been a long time in between breaths but I haven't been avoiding you...really...truly. Just last Thursday I had brainstormed a wonderful post on my way to class; the only problem; I forgot to post when I got home.

The next day another wonderful post surfaced, and of course I was in the shower, so although I tried to scrawl it on the tiles with bath crayons it just didn't translate well after the shower.

I have been busy, juggling a thousand balls and I'm pretty sure that I never learned how to juggle in the first place. Oh well, must be a natural talent. I have a few contracts and the white whale is beckoning me from the icy depths of antiquity so today will be a short post, yet again. (On a side note, I have yet to read Moby Dick but I sure refer to that whale a lot).

If you want to see my latest article, go to http://www.rochellenicolemag.com/?p=192#more-192 and if you want to join a wonderful writing group that is just getting started, click on the yahoo group icon on the left hand side.

All the best and hopefully tomorrow will bring more words and an ocean of ideas surfacing before the girth of that darn whale.

Monday, October 29, 2007

1st Paragraph Contest

I'm sad to say that I didn't win the contest or even qualify but I am happy with the paragraphs that were chosen. The writers who qualified had excellent paragraphs that made me want to begin reading. The winner of the contest was Emily Ryan-Davis. and her paragraph can be read here.

Congratulations to everyone who were nominated and also to the winner. It was well deserved.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A few good links

Resources are always worth their weight in gold so I thought I would just add a few tonight. Not into writing too much. Again, my yahoo group has been started so if you would like to join, go to the yahoo link on the side bar.

Another great resource is

Pasic: This site offers some wonderful online writing courses. I took one in September and really enjoyed it. I am taking another in December and probably 4 or 5 in the new year.

A Woman's Write: Another great site that has contests and so much more. Check it out, even if your not a woman.

Preditors and Editors: A great place to look up publishers and editors and find out if they are considered a preditor or not.

Enjoy and hope they help.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Class last night

Had class last night and found it pretty boring. Usually I find it enjoyable because my instructor is very funny but he didn't seem to be in his usual mood.

I think my lack of enthusiasm was partly due to the fact that I was almost late. I hate being late and prefer to arrive about a half hour early. This gives me time to relax and get some much needed editing done to either an article or my novel. Last night was meant for the novel and I found myself racing over to FedEx and the bank before I could go to class.

I decided at class that I was going to stay up late and edit but I barely made the 45 minute drive home without falling asleep. I swear I saw a cougar run across the road but chopped it up to a sleepy mind and opened the window to let the cool air in.

The rest of the night was spent in a pity fest. Should I be a writer? Do I have the talent but lack the training or am I just lying to myself about the talent? It was a moot point and DH was helpful by pointing out the successes that I have already had. His favourite saying is, ":You can't expect it to come easy. I couldn't go and sculpt a miniature right from the start, it took years of training."

Sometimes I hate sculptors, especially when they are making sense. LOL. That is what my husband does by the way. He sculpts miniatures and it is a talent that I have no skill in. I am always amazed at how he can shape a ball of putty into a miniature. If I took a ball of putty, worked for weeks on it, I would have a dented ball of putty at the end.

His pep talked worked but I was a little upset with him that he wouldn't let me have my pity fest. I mean everyone deserves a pity fest now and then. I guess I will have to thank him by finishing his web page for him. Something I have been avoiding.

Well, have a great weekend and I'll probably chat some more tomorrow.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

1st Paragraph Contest

I entered a 1st paragraph contest today. The contest was brought to my attention by a woman in my writing group, The Writing Mothers. I thought I would try and put in two entries. If you want to see them, go to the link and scroll through until you get to my name, Sirena.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Working on revisions today for Lost Souls, which I am happy to say that I am on 32,000+ words revised several times. I am rewriting a chapter, not the first chapter to be rewritten and not the last.

When I started Lost Souls I just wrote without editing, now I am paying for that and I have had some major rewrites because of it. I took out a character that I loved only to have to rewrite him into it so that I didn't have to pull a god thing just to make him work. Now he works but every chapter that he was in has to be rewritten for the most part. This has made the revisions a long process but I am happier with the story than I was initially, which was very happy after it was first finished.

I will not be doing a book like this again. I think my next manuscript will be done chapter by chapter, write it, revise it and then move on. I will save the later revisions for the whole book but the first and probably 2nd revisions will be done right after I write a chapter. That way I don't have to rewrite so much.

Anyway, after I finished doing revisions for tonight, I decided to see what my word count was at so far. The grand total was 32,666. I wouldn't have been thrown by the last three numbers except the word that I ended on was hell. Ok, that's coincidental and a little eerie since that part of the book was during an intense scene and the book is a horror novel. So I decided to keep writing for a little while until I got closer to 33,000. I know, it's me being silly but that would have bothered me all night. Now I can relax and just go to bed without worrying over it.

I'm off to relax and then I want to get up early to work on the novel. My focus right now is the novel. That is my dream and I need to start pursuing it a little bit more than I have been. There is always an article to write, one where the pay comes in a lot faster and I tend to ignore the novel when the thought of a pay check is dangled before me. So no distractions for the rest of this week, except an hour each day spent job hunting, and I will be focused solely on Lost Souls at least when I am working.

"It Shat all over my nose..."

I love that part of The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams. Poor Rowf is chasing after a dump truck that is leaking gravel only to trot back to Snitter, who is cowering at the sight of the "Lorry", and say, "It shat all over my nose-it must have been terrified - grr- owf!" Richard Adams, The Plague Dogs.

I'm not sure why I love that line. I think it is because it reminds me of life. Sometimes when you get going, chasing after something that you really want, life decides to crap all over you and your nose.

As you can tell, I am really enjoying my book. I did take a break from it to read, Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson, which I noticed in Zellers when I was buying Halloween costumes. I thought the title was funny and the back cover painted a clever and funny novel so I picked it up. I was not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised at the fun and funny story.

Now that I had a light read, it was back to The Plague Dogs and once again I am loving it.

Other than that, not much has happened since my last post. I am sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear back from the grant committee. It is horrible and I wait nervously each morning until the mail carrier drives up and deposits mail into my mail box. I can hardly contain myself as I rush out to the road, trying not to look too deranged to any passing cars, and open up the white mailbox only to find a bill or flyer for water softener salt. Yippee.

I think that my mailbox has it out for me and has decided to eat the letter from the OAC. I haven't fixed it since last week when it was brutally attacked two nights in a row. The first was by screaming teenagers wielding pumpkins and the second was probably the same screaming teenagers but the second time they were armed with construction pylons. The poor mailbox has been dented and listing ever since.

That brings me to attacking mailboxes. What the heck is fun about that? I know mine has a door on both ends that fly open when a pumpkin smashes into it but I really don't see any comedic value to a breaking mailbox. It just seems like such a waste of time and energy. Maybe it's because I am a woman but I have never ever attacked a mailbox or anything for that matter. I could enjoy myself other ways as a teenager, and it's probably better not to speak of those days.

So that is where I am. My poor mailbox is holding out on the proper mail and I think that if it could it really would "shat all over my nose."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New Group

I formed a new writing group today called The Practical Muse. I am hoping that it will be a place where writers can come together, share, and encourage each other to write.

If you are interested in joining, please hit the Yahoo Google button on the side of the page or go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ThePracticalMuse/

Saturday, October 20, 2007


We have all heard the shout, "Freedom!" and we know that it means something wonderful right. The freedom to choose, the freedom to vote, the freedom to retire, freedom, freedom, freedom.

There are tons of speeches that speak of freedom and countless books that talk of freedom and everything that makes it great. Usually freedom is looked at as a bonus, something wonderful to never let go of. Mel Gibson as William Wallace didn't cry for his life, nope, he yelled for his freedom and spent it rotting in a grave, after being tortured for several days and having his body put up for everyone to see and a few other things that I can't quite remember.

I reached a point of The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams that truly shows what an amazing book it is. It talks about freedom and how it really isn't a wonderful thing. It looks at how miserable freedom can be and also points out that we would not turn our backs on it even when it treats us poorly.

I love the book and I think that my husband believes that I am one step closer to lunacy when I accosted him on his way to work so that I could read this long description of Freedom.

Not only did it get my mind going but it made me realize that I need to join a book club just so I can talk about these wonderful things I glean from tightly bound pages. I really believe that everyone should read this book. Even if you don't end up loving it, and I will admit that some areas do require skimming, you'll at least appreciate some of the finer thoughts in the book.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Need a cover letter?

I know that I have pumped this site before but I thought I would do so again. Freelance Writing Jobs is having a cover letter clinic. This is a great way to gather some tips on creating a perfect cover letter and has some excellent tips on what not to do. So head on over.

Writing what comes naturally

About ten years ago I decided to embark on a writing journey that would lead me to children's literature. I took a course, went to college and obtained my Early Childhood Education diploma, and generally felt that the best way for me to be "normal" was to write happy, cheerful children's books.

The first story I wrote still had an element of sadness to it so I quickly packed up the story and went back to the proverbial drawing board. My only comfort was, "Hey, if thousands of other writers can write happy, so can I."

The second book was a bit happier but still had feelings of loss, loneliness and fear. Ok, not exactly what I was driving for but it still was a child's story. One where the character has to overcome being lost in the woods. No problem, not happy, happy, joy, joy but there was a happy ending, friendships were found and a world of wonder was opened up for the character. By jove, I think I'm getting it.

Third book was a dud, fourth, fifth, sixth book had some potential but still there wasn't that happy feeling I felt I should write. Where was that darn cat and why wasn't he wearing a hat?

I tried funneling my darker stories into poems. A way to clear the mind and only ignite happy feelings. I decided that not all children's books were happy and I could write ones that weren't brimming with quirky rhymes and overjoyed snufflebums.

With that new thought in my head, I danced to the computer, typed out a story and came up with another dreadful piece. Even after revisions! The flow was wrong, the speech halting, the voice was lacking. So many things could be listed as wrong and it destroyed my confidence.

It was at that point that I turned off the computer and left my stories hanging in the air around it like cobwebs drifting in the wind. I was defeated and I put aside my dream to be a writer. I felt like a complete failure. I couldn't write happy...wonderful, now what was the point in even writing.

I left it like that for years. I fought the headaches and nightmares that plague me whenever I am not writing and eventually they went away. Yippee, I'm cured! I didn't feel the urge to scribble nonsense on a piece of paper and was happy just being a mom and teacher. Writing could be for another life.

It's pretty obvious that that isn't where the story ended. The muse had other plans for me and I am sure that somehow she orchestrated the whole thing. My need to feel fulfilled, my feelings that somewhere along the road I had lost who I was or who I was meant to be. I needed closure with so many things and the muse was sitting there ready to pounce, pen in hand as she signed my name up for a journalling group.

The first night I sat there with a pen and book in hand and thought, "What am I doing here?"

There was so much I wanted to write, I felt it spilling from me as surely as tears do when I watch "Iron Giant". By the end of the night, I had filled several pages and I felt a burning need to fill the whole book. It was at that point that I knew I was a writer.

At first I thought I should try my hand at children's books again but the Muse in a wonderful stroke of genius decided that since I write darker stories, that was where my direction was going. Much to my surprise I began writing Lost Souls and it was a horror novel. Me writing a horror novel. I was floored.

Next the story idea came for The Murders of Lillian Ross and then another and another. Not all of them are horror but all of them have darker plot lines and I have never felt happier with my writing. It was at that point when I realized that I don't have to write happy stories to be a successful writer. I can write darker novels and that is just fine. It doesn't make me strange or a million other descriptions; it just makes me a writer.

My stories aren't as dark as some and they do have happy parts to them. They just aren't bursting with bright sunshine, chirping birds and laughter. They are the slower happiness, the lazy smile when you wake up, the laugh after the pain, the tears that send rainbows sliding down your cheeks.

That is where I am now. Writing what comes naturally, not fighting the muse anymore, well at least when she's not being difficult, and enjoying what I write. I hope that a million more stories find their way down to my fingertips and out onto the screen and I hope that I won't forget to write what I love and what comes naturally to me. I really feel that my journey has just begun as a writer and I am looking forward to all the vistas that I will see, even if they are sometimes cast in midnight.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Latest Read

Ok, it's more of a reread but I am really excited to pull the book off the shelf. There are very few books that I feel are worth a reread but The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams is one of my all time favourite books. I think I am moving into the 4th or 5th reread but it has been about 2 years since I have read it that I feel I can read it again.

Last night was another blah night. I know, I'm so descriptive. I decided to just forget about working and watched a little tv. I'll probably have more ramblings about that later. Well, I went to my bookshelf and was looking for a book I hadn't read yet. There are a few. I still have to work through the last two books by George R. Martin; I'm getting very bored with him, and I have about three non-fiction books about writing and editing that I have put to the side. None of those really peaked my interest last night so I was going to go to bed early.

Then I noticed The Plague Dogs and decided, why not. I mean I love the characters, love the story and it has been a while. I didn't get too far into it but maybe a nice read is just what the doctor ordered. Maybe this will help me get through my block and get me writing again. I have been so focused on getting articles out and the novel finished that I haven't read anything lately or at least anything interesting.

So for the next week or so, I will still get my deadlines met but I will be reserving at least 20 minutes to curl up with a good book, even if it is a reread.

Oh, books that I consider rereads:

The Odyssey by Homer (My all time favourite and it is usually a yearly reread)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
Darkness Visible by William Styron

and a few others that may make the list. I'll let you know if they do when I reread them ;o).

My husband doesn't understand how I can read the same book more than once but with each read I notice something new, something I had missed and the characters are ones I love.

I'm looking forward to seeing Rowf, Snitter and the Tod again and really recommend The Plague Dogs for anyone who has never read it. A truly wonderful story.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Article

Just a little post today, or at least this morning. I still have that overwhelmed feeling so I don't think I will post any goals for this week. I do have them written down and glaring at me every time I sit down to work. One major goal is to finish an article by the end of the week since its due on Saturday. After that article, I am just going to see what the week brings and how I do at it.

Other than that not much is happening. The article I wrote for Rochelle Nicole came out yesterday so if you want to read it go and visit http://www.rochellenicolemag.com/?p=142#more-142

Have a good Tuesday!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A week in review

This last week has been awful. I have been overwhelmed with too many things and it finally got to me around Wednesday. I have to admit that my work week was a bust. I was able to get two articles done and start the research for another two but other than that my "to do" list stayed mainly unfulfilled.

I think I just need some down time. I have so many expectations and goals for myself. My novel has taken a year to write and revise and most of the year was spent ignoring it. I have 101 pages completely edited and ready to go but I need to do some rewriting for the rest of it so I'm not sure if I will get it done in the time frame I want it done in.

November is Nanowrimo and although I signed up for it again this year, I am beginning to think that it is not plausible for me to start my second novel while I am rewriting parts of Lost Souls. If I was just doing the last of the edits, I don't think it would be a problem but there are some major parts that have to be reworked and I don't want to lose focus on the manuscript by starting a second.

If this is the rate that I produce a novel, any fans that I do establish will probably scream at me, "For crying out loud woman...get the novel written." I'm hoping that with time, my speed and skill will pick up but this novel is the white whale. I want to finish it. I feel that it has a lot of potential and even if it doesn't get picked up for publication, I can say, "Whew, there's one, now let's do another." The first time is always the hardest isn't it. Probably not.

So my week has been a dud. I have spent more time with woe is me pity fests than I have with writing. I have to sit down and start scheduling. I also have to learn to balance the freelancing career with the novel writing career. I enjoy both and the freelancing helps pay the bills so that I can pursue the white whale but I have to learn to schedule and organize things better and I have to stop waiting for things.

Right now I am waiting to hear back for a "works in progress grant" from the Ontario Arts Council in regards to Lost Souls. I have put myself out there and it has been nearly 4 months since the application went in, which is how long the selection process takes. I had lots to keep myself occupied, a move, kids, vacations, etc, but there are two weeks until I get the official word and I am going crazy waiting for it.

I think that is why last week was such a bad week. I am waiting and I'm not a patient person, although I think I have been really patient for the last 3 and a half months.

One thing they never seem to tell you, or maybe I just didn't believe it, is that you have to wait a lot as a writer. Every aspect of it deals with waiting. If you apply for a contract, you have to wait to hear back about yes or no. If you query, you have to wait for the letter or call saying, "Yes or no." Then you have to wait to hear back about the article or story and whether they like it or not. You're story needs changes. Well, just wait until we figure out what and we will get back to you. It is a waiting game and the key is to stay busy while your waiting but I haven't mastered that just yet.

Hopefully next week will be much better. I have set up a new "to do" list and hopefully I will stick to it this week. Hopefully, waiting won't get to me so badly this week and maybe, fingers crossed, I will hear back about the grant early. I'm praying that it is a yes, you have the grant but if not, I won't be discouraged. As my husband always says, "You can't expect it to be easy."

Wish me luck for next week and have a good week yourself.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Looks like babies...

...or rather nymphs. That's right, baby insects or better yet, baby praying mantises. Boy am I excited, well not really. How did I become the proud keeper of praying mantis eggs?

All I really need to say is that I have two sons...end of story...case close. Everyone who has a son, or even a daughter for that matter, is well aware of the wonderful prizes children bring home. I have never been overly squeamish, although I have my moments, and I have welcomed a wide array of insects and other creepy crawlies into my home At least when they are under proper supervision.

The latest creepy crawly to find its way in, are the Praying Mantises. Not one, but three have cycled through the house and each one is eager to stay when the time comes to set them free. Each one has been named Mantee with the applicable number of one, two and three. Mantee One was a nymph, not that old or big by any standards. How my son was able to pick him out in the grass is beyond me.

Mantee number one stayed with us for about two weeks but we just didn't have the proper food for him so away he went. Mantee number two was picked up already trying to get into our house. He was big, probably full grown and he enjoyed the crickets that we fed him on a daily basis. We have no short supply of crickets since we have a bearded dragon.

After about a month and a half, I decided that although Mantee number two was happy being hand fed, it was time he hit the road. Unfortunately, as we were releasing number two, a third Praying Mantis was again trying to sneak into the house.

In came Mantee number three and he was just as happy as can be with the cuisine we were providing. I didn't really pay attention to the Praying Mantis because let's face it, once you've seen one hunt, you've seen them all hunt. I have to admit that Mantee number three was a bit more ferocious in his hunting techniques and he was aware of food the moment it hopped into his cage.

After a few weeks of having Mantee number three, I looked in his cage and was surprised by a large, brown spongy looking pod on a stick. After some research and a few "ewwws", we determined that Mantee number three wasn't a he, it was a she. We also found out that she had decided our lovely cage was as good a place as any to secure her egg sac, properly known as a "ootheca".

Now I have a bunch of reading to do and after a long cold winter, my kids are hoping that we will be blessed with the arrival of a hundred to two hundred Praying Mantis Nymphs. I'm not exactly thrilled but I figure if they do hatch, we will release about 2/3rds of them since they are from this area, we picked them up right outside our door, and then study the life cycle of the Praying Mantis.

As for Mantee number three. She's resting well, has laid a second smaller ootheca and is still enjoying her diet of crickets and flies. We have plans on releasing her back into the wild in a few days and hopefully her eggs will hatch come spring.

I'm not sure what this makes me exactly but I suspect it is a four letter word that begins with n and ends with uts. Only spring will tell. ;o)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Green Spaces

The cool green whispered of secrets not yet shared and I felt like I had come home. I knew what it was, knew who was calling me and I answered with an open soul. Mother Earth beckoned with her unique smells; damp earth, water, trees, life. She laughed with the simple wildflowers dancing in a gust of sunlight. She tickled my skin with the hands of reaching bushes and she welcomed me home to cool shadowy places where I could rest and become rejuvenated.

Although it might sound like the beginning to an even deeper story, it is simply a lead in for pictures from this summer's trip to Blue Mountain and the Scenic Caves. I loved it there and I have been threatening to post pictures of it for a while. After last week and a stressful couple of days, I have to admit that I am more than ready to head back there and find the serenity that evades me now.

A Place to Climb

A hole in the stone. I thought it was interesting how the photograph came out.

The view at one point

Dark Green Places

Of course I couldn't resist taking a picture of a thistle. My little wildflower.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Goals for the week

I know I am a day late but yesterday was a holiday so my week started today, not yesterday. Yeah, right. Sure it did.

Ok, maybe I worked yesterday but these goals are all new and I didn't start working on them until today.

1. Finish an article for Pet Gazette
2. Finish revisions on another article and get it sent out
3. Finish two more articles that were just assigned.
4. Revise 4 (count them) chapters of MS.
5. Get Halloween decorations up.
6. Go get my bloodwork done (I have been avoiding that)
7. Start research on another article.

It's Gone to the Dogs!

I have been waiting for moths for the first launch of this site and it is finally up and running. What is the site, you ask. Well, it's dogtime.com where a good chunk of my work has been published.

How much work? 85 breed profiles and an 1130 term dictionary. This was a major contract for me and it was one that I enjoyed working on, being the animal lover that I am. I think the site is amazing and not just because my work is on it. Go on over and check it out. You will be really happy.

Let's switch gears a bit, and if you haven't noticed already, I tend to switch my ramblings very quickly or at least the direction it is going. Anyway, I owe a lot to dogtime. Not only was it my first contract, it was also the catalyst that made me give up my day job, as a very unhappy Early Childhood Educator, and move into the career I had only dreamed about. The fact that they not only offered a green writer a very good contract right from the start, they also paid well and made every new assignment something that I looked forward to. The articles they asked me write helped build my skill, my confidence and also my portfolio, which as we all know is very important. I was extremely fortunate to have a good, well paying contract right from the start. I have several contracts now and I no longer work in my "designated" field.

It isn't to say that I didn't enjoy being an Early Childhood Educator. I enjoyed working with the kids, and I had some pretty amazing families over the years but I was burnt out. I didn't care about how much I was making but how I was being treated. Let's face it, Early Childhood Educators are not treated as well as they should be especially by centres. I could go on and on but I won't since I would sound very bitter. Basically it all boiled down to dreams and fulfilling them.

Was my dream to work in daycare? No, although I enjoyed my years in the field. Was it to be a writer? Definitely. Early Childhood Education was a good place to gain my strength and to realize where I was destined to go. It gave me skills when it comes to raising my own kids that I don't think I would have had without it. It gave me a unlimited well of information to draw from and for the first time since I started writing nine months ago, I am actually using it for parenting magazines.

I urge anyone to grasp on to opportunities that let them realize their dreams. It is never too late to try to fulfill a dream and it will always be an exciting ride but it is worth it in the end. Dogtime was that opportunity for me and I will always be grateful to that contract, the people associated with the company and the wonderful editors (yes, it's supposed to be plural) that I worked with.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

The smell of tukey fills the house and family gathers around to celebrate. There is good cheer, good food and only the minor stresses that family gatherings create.

Thankfully, that was Sunday and today I get to sit back, make a small turkey and just spend it with my husband and sons. It is a really hot day and not the best for cooking turkey but we have spent most of it outside.

So this is a quick little blurp, "Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!"

I could list everything I am thankful for but the main points are my kids, my husband, my career, God and anyone that takes the time to come and read my blog.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Power of Words

Everyone knows that words can be powerful. They can incite strong emotions, cause a fight or sooth a hurt. They have been used for peace negotiations, company mergers and they have even changed the world.

As a writer, I am aware of the power of words but in the every day grind of writing this article or that article, I tend to lose focus on that. I sometimes forget that what I say can either make a difference, or cause a hurt. What I say can be negative or positive and it can affect the reader in both those ways. When I write fiction or creative non-fic, I rely on that to draw my readers in, take them on a scenic tour that can be a heart-pounding thrill ride or a lazy drift down a wide, slow moving river. I never imagined that a letter that I wrote would have the ability to make someone take notice.

I really shouldn't take all the credit, I mean my words are not that all inspiring that they could change everyone but this time, the fact that I stood up for myself through writing a professional letter has worked out for the best. This time, the editor on the other end was a decent person and realized her mistakes.

As you can tell, I give credit to the editor that I was having problems with earlier this week; see Editor Troubles.

On Friday night I received a letter stating that my article has been pulled and they apologized that it hadn't been when they said it would. That was it, short and sweet, no warmth, no anger, just a business feel to it. This was actually much better than the letter I had received the day before that was more negative in form and nature.

After the Friday email, I figured that was it. The battle was over and although it wasn't a spectacular victory with the injured soldiers returning home under banners and fireworks, it was still a victory. Chalk one up to the writer and add a lesson learned in there.

I was completely caught off guard when I received a second response to my email on Saturday. In it she apologized for how she acted in this. Apologized for using the article the way she had and went on to say that they are reviewing their record keeping and how they work with writers. I was flabbergasted :o), never thought I would use that word ever.

She went on to say that she thought I was a very talented writer and also that she had been an arse. That a true professional is willing to say that and I have to agree with her.

I think that the editor deserves an applause for correcting her mistake and learning from it. For admitting that she behaved badly and for making amends. I am sure it wasn't easy for her to write the letter but it proved that she is an editor that values professionalism and integrity.

I emailed her back and thanked her for her apology and complimented her on her level of professionalism. I hope that her magazine continues to grow into something that she can be proud of and I hope that after my dealings with her, all other writers will find her to be an excellent and professional editor.

Now, not that I think I should have any extra treatment but this tired soldier has turned her sights for home and that spectacular victory parade. I think we should order extra fireworks and balloons because the editor definitely deserves to walk in it too.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Mama has something to say

One thing that fires writers up is deadbeat editors. All writers have either had or will have an editor that does something similar or worse to them then the editor that I am having problems with.

Whew...what a run on sentence...but to read more about how this problem affects writers as a whole run on over to Mama Needs a Book Contract and see for yourself.

Editor Troubles

I could start with metaphors or cliches. I could rant and rave, wave my arms around me and froth at the mouth. I could shout about the injustices of the publishing world and cry about my poor ego that has been bruised and beaten. I could start so many ways but I won't, at least not now ;o).

When I saw a particular ad for a writer to provide content for a particular online magazine, I jumped at the chance. I barely registered the low pay but the quality of the site and the seemingly professionalism of the editor made me leap head first into the work.

I guess I should have known better, I should have looked at the price and said, "Wait a minute, is my time really worth this." Did I do that? Nope, nadda, no way. I was eager to start writing for this company, eager to cut my teeth on a new topic that I have never written on before. I hate to admit it but I had been type casted already and although I enjoy writing about pets and animals, I long for other topics. That is why I was able to overlook the pay.

When we talked about terms it was simply 15 dollars per article and they did not say that I would lose full rights to my article. They also didn't discuss that the only way to have my name on the article was to write the article for free. This came much later, after the article was sent in and after the article was published.

From the time I handed in the article to the time I saw it published, I had been out of touch with the editor. They did not give a clear answer as to if it would be published only that it might be in the October issue. Fair enough. I did not invoice them since I was planning on writing a few more articles for them before hand.

Come October 1st, the article was published, without crediting me and I had not received payment. I wasn't too stressed by it and sent a letter asking why my article was printed without my name. See Exposure or Pay for further details on that.

I did send a reply back that I would give them 1st rights to the article for free but my name needed to be on the article. They did not respond until last night where they told me they were pulling the article, which they have not done so as of 2:00pm today, and they said some derogatory things about me and the fact that I dictated my rights. I mean how could I stand up for myself and tell them that not only did they have to put my name on an article I wrote and they didn't pay for but I was also only giving them first rights.

This is my reply back to the editor and please bear in mind that this was written during the heat of the moment. I have also taken out information that will identify the magazine.


Thank you for addressing my concern in a professional manner. I am sure that you were so turned off that you reacted by being derogatory and condescending. It shows the caliber of professionalism that both you and your magazine bring to the table.

Let's state facts here. You used my article, however poorly written you felt it was, without my permission or paying me for it. You then took off my name, published it without alerting me and continued on with business. When I called you on it, you stated that you had no idea it was my article. I'm not sure what your filing system is but if you do not know who the writer is or if you even paid for a piece, you should not use it. Its hard to believe that you didn't know who wrote it since my name is under the title on the first page. Even if some mishap with white out occurred and you were unable to see my name, what you did is content theft. Taking an article and publishing it without full permission is not an ethical practice.

I am still a fairly new writer but I'm not desperate enough for exposure that I would over look being exploited. You should really look at your business practices and the fact that paying 15 dollars for full rights of a 1000 word article is exploiting new writers. I have read through both your copy of the article and my copy and although there were changes it was not a significant amount to claim that you rewrote the piece. This was my first ******* article and it is reflected in the copy but if it was so rough you should not have used it. Many of the places that were changed had less to do with editing and more to do with the spiritual tone that you prefer to reflect in articles on your site.

I have published several articles where they paid $200 or more for first time rights. I did not expect that from you since I would not exploit a new company that is just starting out. I understand that there are a lot of variables in publishing especially when you are starting but since I won't exploit small companies, I expect the same courtesies extended to me.

As to your statement "by dictating what we could use", that is my right because I wrote it. It is my article and I do not want to give you full rights to it. There really isn't anything else to say to that except that you plagiarized my article by trying to change it enough to pass it off as your own without crediting me.

Also, Editor, I handed in the article directly to you. I did not give it to anyone else and the only person that I have ever spoken to from the ******* ****** is you.

In regards to the article being taken off your site, it is still up there. Here is the link to it "link". Since we are no longer in a working relationship, I want the article off your site immediately, no archiving or anything else. I have no desire in working with a company that has conducted itself in the manner yours has.

If it is not taken off in a timely manner I will be contacting both my attorney and other writing organizations and alerting them to your practices and the fact that you are exploiting new writers.


Sirena Van Schaik"

So there it is in a nutshell, although a very big nut to be sure. I was plagiarized, I had my article used without proper permissions, or payment. I was insulted and abused by an editor and ultimately I was burned by the magazine.

I feel stupid for not seeing the red flags but I am hoping that my mistakes will teach not only myself but other writers to avoid those magazines that pay low amounts. Once in a while you may find a gem of a contract where there is more than enough quantity to make up for the low pay but more often than not you will find a greedy little publication that wants to steal content and make their money by forcing writers into low pay and even lower gratitude.

I will keep you updated on how this works out but for now, be wary of low paying jobs.

Know your rights

I am currently dealing with problems concerning an article that I submitted, see Editor Troubles, and it made me realize that how many of us truly know our rights when it comes to Intellectual Properties.

To me it seems simple, and it boils down to two simple pronouns, I and my. I researched the article, I outlined the article, I wrote it, and so on. Therefore it is my article and they are my rights.

Simple, right?

I'm sure if I didn't try to sell my articles to magazines or other publications it would be, however, I enjoy making the occasional dollar and I send out my articles with calm deliberation. I spend countless weeks chewing my nails waiting for the letter to say whether it has been approved or rejected. I rarely think of rights since I generally sell 1st rights for an article unless it is otherwise stipulated.

This isn't to say that I haven't sold full rights. Of course I have but how do you know your selling full rights and how do you stop people from using your work as your own? Also, if you sell full rights does that mean the purchaser can take your name off and put their own on it?

We've heard of ghostwriting so the answer seems fairly clear that the answer is sure, people can take your name off and use the work as their own but is it really that simply?

I am no expert on copyright law and I don't have the answers. I'm like thousands of other writers who have all the same questions. What are my rights? Can I keep my article to use again once I sell it? Do I lose all I put into the article simply because I want to see it in print?

With all those questions swimming in my head I hunted down a legitimate source to answer all my questions and although I am still reading it I strongly suggest that others visit this site and take a look at what your rights are.

After all, the only person who is going to look out for your own Intellectual Property Rights is you.

Visit the World Intellectual Property Organization at http://www.wipo.int/portal/index.html.en or go straight to their publication on copyrights at http://www.wipo.int/freepublications/en/intproperty/909/wipo_pub_909.pdf to find out what your rights are.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Freelance Anyone?

Although I would not recommend freelance for everyone, I do think that it can be a viable choice whether you want to make a career out of it or simply want the extra funds. It isn't the easiest of careers and there are many times when it is either feast or famine. There are no coworkers to bother you, no demanding boss but then again there are no coworkers to chat with, and there are demanding editors looking for copy yesterday.

Not only that but there are clients that don't pay, ones that turn out to be scams and a constant search for a new client. Not just any client by the way but one that will pay well, pay on time and have steady work for you. There are also tons of rejection letters and days when you slack off.

So does it sound interesting? Is it something you have dreamed about for years? A career where you can set your own hours and usually they are longer than the average work day with fewer sick days and even fewer holidays.

Still interested. Well, first thing's first, you need a business plan, set some goals and find some really great communities to help you on your way. A great place to start is Freelance Writing Jobs. It not only lists links to job ads but it also has lots of discussion, heads up when they or their readers find scams and a great group of people.

So head over there now and check it out. I am sure you will be welcomed if you are there to learn and succeed at freelancing. http://www.writersrow.com/deborahng/

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Exposure or Pay

I have recently been presented with a quandary about whether I should accept a pay check or merely accept exposure. I chose exposure for this one time but I think it has become a very sad state when clients feel that they can purchase full rights for less than 25 dollars.

I'm not going to name any names but recently I noticed one of my articles was published without my name on it. I wrote the article some time back and it was in an topic that I did not have experience in. For this reason I took the low pay of 15 dollars with the belief that I still maintained full rights to my article. I should mention that I have not invoiced the magazine at this time simply because I was asked to write more and I was also asked to invoice all at once.

They published the article and did not credit me for writing it. Seeing this, I emailed the editor and asked her why I wasn't credited. Her response was, "You wrote that article. I honestly didn't know who did." This isn't verbatim by the way. I was shocked at the poor filing system they have but my name was on the article so it seemed a little strange that they didn't know who had written it or that they chose to publish it without finding out first.

Anyway, after that she went on to say that people who get paid do not get to have their name on the article. The small amount of 15 dollars is enough for them to have full rights for the article. What?!

I replied with a statement about how I will allow them to have first time rights for free but my name needs to be on it and they are not allowed to use it for any further issues. I continued to say that 15 dollars is not enough for full rights and that I would not be invoicing them for it. The article is mine and if I chose to sell the reprints of the article then I would.

I still have not heard back from them but really, should a company be allowed to have full rights for such a small amount. I mean the amount they wanted to pay was pathetic to begin with but I went against my better judgement only to have some samples available for that particular topic. I am interested in it and I was planning on approaching other magazines that specialize in that area. I have sold my rights to articles, especially web content that I have written but articles like this, I do not have any interest in selling full rights, especially for 15 dollars.

My thoughts are that companies are taking advantage of the whole "exposure" thing. If it is a start up magazine, website or company, how much exposure are you really going to get and if it isn't, shouldn't they have more money to pay writers what they deserve. I mean, if you want full rights pay the proper amount but telling someone you have full rights for a price tag that will buy a couple of tins of coffee, I mean come on.

I was insulted by the tactics of this company and I will not be sending them anymore articles. To me this just shows the type of people I am dealing with and it was rather disappointing.

So now that I've ranted a bit, what do you think is a fair amount for full rights? Do you think exposure is more important than pay? or do you think I should have bothered being upset?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Another Article

It is always exciting to see your words in print whether they are in an e-zine, magazine, or book. You know that at least 10 people you don't know will take the time to read it and that in the few minutes it takes them to finish it, you have influenced them at least slightly.

I know that I may not write about political views or anything, although I can if I chose to, but even knowing that a few more gardeners may create a living wreath simply because of my article is exciting in its own way.

So why am I in such a good mood and ranting about living wreaths. It's because my article has been published today in the e-zine, The Blessed Garden. If you would like to read it just follow this link http://www.blessedgardens.com/this_month/Living-Wreaths.html of just ignore my little squeal of delight and continue on your way.

i know that I will still have a great day and my article will be there to read if you ever decide you need a living wreath.

A whole month!

Ok, so it hasn't been a whole month, at least not completely. I am 7 days away from not posting for a month and there have been times when I knew I should post but I didn't take the time to.

It has been a strange month for me. Constantly moving forward but always feeling like I was standing still. I have been going through some health concerns, dealing with a move and dealing with a million other things.

Not much has changed in the whole but I have resolved some of the health issues and I am starting over again with trying to quit coffee. Boy will that be fun. I am also trying for baby number three and although I would love to have a girl, I am sure it will be a boy.

So on that note, I will sign off for tonight and hopefully I will resurface tomorrow and post something, anything, even if it just my shopping list.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

How Many Crosses Do You See?

At the Martyr's Shrine there is a prayer garden in the forest. It is a short path that leads to an opening. You can hear the wind blowing through the trees and for a nature lover like me it is the ideal place to pray and meditate.
In that clearing a Saint used to go there to pray and he saw a cross hanging in the air above him each time he visited there. They have a wooden cross nailed up to aid people in seeing what the Saint saw and a statue of him kneeling where they believe he had kneeled. I took a picture of him...

and then I took a picture standing beside him. My DH was amazed at all the crosses in the picture. He didn't see them when he was there but it is the reason I took the picture. I was surprised by how many I saw in the photograph after I got it on the computer. So how many crosses do you see?

The Stations of the Cross

More from the Martyr's Shrine. These were the Statiosn of the Cross. I was a shutterbug the whole time and I wanted to take even more pictures but my camera battery died.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Martyr's Shrine

This summer I actually had a vacation! This doesn't happen very often and usually I get a day trip here and a weekend there. We took a total of 5 days off which is a big thing for me and my husband since we are both self-employed. He is a miniature sculptor.

At one point of our trip we were out looking for Saint Marie among the Hurons which is a monastery and we happened upon the Martyr's Shrine. We stopped there and were filled with peace and awe at the beauty of the church and the grounds. Two Saints lived and worshipped there and we were able to see the relic of one Saint, his skull, in the church.
Here are a few pictures of the grounds.

Moving All Around

I thought I would start my blog with an introduction, talk about myself and yadda yadda yadda with a big yawn. I have a horrible time talking about myself and will often find myself talking about kids, work, school, pets, husband and even my husband's work to avoid talking about myself. In the grand scheme of things there really isn't much to tell but then again there's plenty. Today, however, I am not going to go on and on about my trial and tribulations as a child but really just summarize where I am going at this point in time and with this blog.

Pssst...this isn't my first blog. I have another one, Finding My Inner Voice, which so happens to be a dud, I guess my inner voice is something of a mute and really doesn't want to talk. I ignored it so much that I really have no idea what direction I was going in. I was at a loss and not sure where to go with it.

So when I went through a major physical move I decided that it was time to go through a blog move and start over. I have added a few things here and there and this blog still has a lot of work and tweaking to do but I really feel like I am going to enjoy it here. I may not post as often as other bloggers. I may not be witty or awe inspiring but I will ramble happily as I put a final touch to a story line or rant when I am having difficulties with kids or classes. Some things I talk about will really have no bearing on the grand scheme of life and probably doesn't need to be read by the public but then again how much of main stream culture is as mundane as how many loads of laundry I did. Tons I' sure, of course if I get so desperate that I am talking about seperating whites from colours, I'll...well you know.

So this is really just a place to practice talking about myself, things I've seen and to give little shouts of joy as my career moves forward and I get that pink elephant (the novel) revised, published and finally move onto the next elephant (which I am sure is going to be a lovely shade of lavendar).

Anyway, enjoy or don't. Hopefully I will see you around and maybe you will get a few rare glimpses of the crazy woman that shares my brain and forces me to not only be a mother, wife and zoo keeper (too many animals) but also a writer and dreamer.

So without further ado, welcome to my blog.