National Family Literacy Day!

La journée nationale de l'aphabétisation familale!

Curled up for the night, with a stack of books; silly ones, French ones, reference ones, from dinosaurs to dogs that just looked too cute on the library shelves. Ah... It's wonderful to read to my children. It's our time, when nothing else matters. I wouldn't give it up for anything, yet I know it's nearing an end. Within a few years, my son will have outgrown our snuggle sessions, and I'll be left with one comforting thought-- I gave my children a gift.

It was gradual with my daughter. The odd novel was in the mix... then she wanted to read it to me, and now, frankly, I'm just slowing her down. She has a stack of books by her bed and the best I get is her mad dash to my room to read a sentence out loud that she just has to share. I have no context for it, and don't have a clue what makes it ring so exciting for her, but it always makes me smile, and wish I had the author on speed dial.

I gave her a gift. She loves reading. Not just fiction. She reads magazines, she reads reference guides, she reads, reads and reads, in two languages.

Even better, she asked what I was writing. Imagine my surprise. So, I read her a few chapters of the mid-grade novel I was working on, to see what she thought. My son crept in, curious. They gave me interesting feed back. I was working on a book for boys but didn't tell them this.
"Not enough zombies." My son was quick to say. (There wasn't supposed to be any, so I took it as a compliment.)
My daughter took her time, I knew she was thinking up a diplomatic way to tell me that something didn't sit right with her. Finally, her face all twisted, she blurted out, "I like the girl, but she has a stupid name. What's it short for?"
She smiled and settled in, he giggled and shoved her over.
And so, I told my tale and this time-- my children gave me a gift.

January 27th is National Family Literacy Day, and I'm using this day to reflect on what reading to my kids has brought us, what writing for my brats has given me.

What if one day, I wrote a story with my children? Zombies who eat princesses with girlie names aside, that might be fun.

Can't wait.

The Drunken Bliss of a 1st Draft

So I was over at again, and I picked one of Don's neat stories to read, at random. (For those of you who missed that post, Don is dedicating himself to write 24 novels in one year, each in a 3 day time span... on line, live-- see my post Inside a Writer's Mind for details or just check out his website for yourself. If you're like me, you have to see the insanity to believe it.)
Anyway, I ended up with The Fall Guy. A fun story that sucked me in, and it was worth the read.

I knew I was reading a first draft, and that's what made it a fun read. I got goosebumps. (Still have them actually.) And it brought back memories.

Ah... first drafts. The drunken bliss of it.
I wrote my last first draft about six months ago. (Gee, when I write it like that, it comes off a little like an AA meeting introduction.-- Maybe I should start a blog for Writing Addicts.) Anyway, writing binges aside, I can proudly say that some of my novels, I've been soberly editing for years, and the chill-factor is long gone. No more goosebumps, no more mad rush, just me ploughing through them, head strong and determined to polish them up for my readers.

Still, it's nagging at me. How does a first draft do that?

What is the magical ingredient in a first draft that makes it so blasted fun to read? I went back and examined mine. Is it the rawness? Is it the fearlessness? I mean, I write anything in a first draft. It's written vomit that would make my husband blush.

Yet... there's just a certain magic there. A spontaneity.

Don't get me wrong, my writing evolved with the edits, became stronger, and looking at that chilling first draft, it's better. Minus the chills. Yeah, my first drafts still give me chills, my fifteenth just gives me butterflies.- I'm so close!

So from draft one to fifteen, what happened to the goosebump-factor? Am I immune from reading them seventy times, forwards and backwards? Or is it the potential that gives me a rush?

Maybe that's it, the goosebumps are a sign of possibility, hope... madness.

Know It All

In life, we deal with specialists all the time. Professionals. The guys and gals who KNOW their stuff. They come in handy for work, writing, even as a parent.
Yet, five minutes with my very informed doctor makes me wonder if she knows I have magical kisses that heal boo boos. Because I really do-- they even impress the hell out of me.

In my world, I wouldn't survive if I knew a lot about one thing. In fact, I'd bore myself to death. So proudly, I admit, I'm a generalist, I have to be, my job demands that I know very little about everything.
And so I do.
Being a mother demands this too. I can stop a leak with a coat hanger (that sucker lasted 6 months), and I do impossible things like getting my kids to clean their rooms. Try it, not as easy as it sounds. 
Still, that hardly holds up on a writing resume, it's not even a talent, yet it's these very things that inspire my creative juices, and enrich my fantasy world.

Besides, knowledge is easy to acquire, specialists are everywhere, and I talk to them often, from the magician to the economist. (Now, if only I knew an agent, eh?)
They're all pretty cool actually.
But you don't have to be a specialist to come in handy. An informed generalist gets attention too, especially one who is passionate about life.

Media are easily intrigued, which means I do a lot of interviews.
Just this month I did one with Radio Canada to discuss primary health care in Saskatchewan (why me you ask? Because she wanted a story- and I love telling tales), another radio interview was in regard to the Canadian/US economic mess (why me? Because I live by the boarder and my name rang a bell with their listeners). What was the one this week? Oh yeah, it was about exercise. I skipped that one, don't ask why, it's embarrassing. I did survive a paper interview on parents needing a Parent and Tots group in rural settings, though. Hell, I even started a blog. Not saying I sounded like a professional, but I wasn't trying to, I know what I am.

Research. Read. Ask questions, but dig deeper.
Even better, know who to ask-- that's all anyone really needs to know. (Believe me, I didn't think up the coat hanger in the faucet myself. I have a dad who rocks in any home renovation crises. I called, he came, I learnt.)

I love books written by doctors and lawyers, their insight, the details, the professionalism. I eat them up, but they are focused, their world is soooooo small, and if a dragon landed in their ER or courtroom, well, they'd turn to someone like me for advice. Since I know all about fantasy worlds, I wouldn't panic at all. A dragon in an ER is really not a big deal, not when the new nurse is a dragon whisperer.

See what I mean? You don't have to be a specialist to come in handy. Pay attention, be a generalist, see the big picture, it pays off too.

It's how we survive that matters in life, not what we know. Now go write about what little you know. It'll be fun to see how brilliant you can be.

Stylish Blogger Award

I was awarded this awesome award!
Thanks Elizabeth Arroyo of Chandrawrites!
So to accept this award I must
1.Thank and link back to the person who awarded it
2.Share 7 things about myself
3.Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers
4.Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

Seven things about myself
Now since I've been so bummed this week, I decided to write 7 things that make me proud about myself.
Leave yours in the comments, might cheer me up.
In no order:
1. I survived pregnancy and childbirth- twice, and am about to undertake preteens.
2. I was class valedictorian and won a LT Governor Award that I gave to my mom since she's the only one who thinks that's cool.
3. I wrote ten novels and I'm still happily married.
4. I did three media interviews in one week about three different subjects
5. I made a website and a blog, even though I had no idea what I was doing
6. I can run like nobody's business, but chose not to
7. I live a rockstar life even though I can't sing and have no money.

Here are my ten bloggers! Check them out.
Flo of
Lianne of
Lisa of
Betsy of
Karen Amanda of
Summer of
Jaybe of
Deirdra of
Regina of
Norma of

Thanks again!!

Top 10 for January

Top ten signs that winter has just gotten too long.
Be sure to leave yours.
10. Even my Saint Bernard sighs while looking out the window.
9.   My shovel is buried but who cares?
8.   Walking half a block to the rink feels like a trek I might not survive.
7.   All my writing involves shivers, goosebumps, and chills.
6.   My husband gives me ten minute updates on the weather and every second word is ploughing.
5.   When the power goes out, the kids head for blankets, not flashlights.
4.   Nobody wants to take a sick day, yet everyone is sick.
3.   News story of the week is parents meeting to play.
2.   Stories about sunny Florida piss me off, Cuba too.
1.   I ate the chocolate bar in my winter survival kit and it was stale.

Update on Inside a Writer's Mind

During lunch, I peeked in to read another one of Don Britt's first drafts and caught him in the process of writing LIVE. Today is day one, if anyone is curious I attached the link. He has the weekend to finish it. Pretty neat to witness, I felt like I was intruding in his thoughts.

Inside a Writer's Mind

No one sees our first drafts. Sometimes, for several good reasons.

Yet, Don Britt recently took on a challenge to write 24 novels in 1 year. Think that's insane, right? It gets worse. He puts his work on line, LIVE. That's right. What he writes, as he writes it. Okay, that proves our winters are too long in Canada, and in itself, it's enough for me to drive to his house and take his temperature. But it screams even more intervention time than that, you see, each book has to be done in a 72h period.

I can't even comprehend that part. 72 hrs.

At first, I thought, what is he doing? Has he gone mad? Is this what happens to writers after years of juggling life and writing? Is this a new form of suicide?

I mean, gee, I thought I was a sucker for punishment, but I can't even justify self torture like this. Most I ever wrote was four books in a year, and the ones that pass the potential test will take years of editing/revising before anyone else gets to breathe near them.

Still, I was intrigued and looked up his website.  (Admit it, you will too.)

Now I'm hooked.

It was exciting to get inside the head of another writer, to see how he gets from point A to point B, in a first draft. A first draft. Wow, that takes guts.

I'm really rooting for him too. ( I say this as I clutch my seventeenth draft tighter.) Yeah, glad it's not me, still you know... some weird little twisted part of me wishes it was.

We do insane things for a rush, don't we? Cripes, I'm tempted to try.

Good luck Don and I hope you have fun, because honestly, that's what life is all about.

Confessions of a Writing Addict

Yeah, I have a problem.

I'm addicted to writing. It's not so funny. It took a long time for me to admit that.

I should sleep but it nags at me until I get up and satisfy the craving. The laundry needs to be folded, but honestly, can't we wear it out of the basket? I mean, come on! It's been sitting there so long it's already wrinkled!

Yeah, it's more than a problem. My fantasy world has taken over my life. I can't even talk to someone without thinking, gee, how would Hero respond to this idiot? Sometimes, I use his words. Why not? I mean, at this point I know more about him than myself.

Don't ask me to go cold turkey either-- it puts me in a bad mood. In fact, for two years, I got a daily fix.

I had such a high last summer, it's all a blur. Oh, yeah, that was some good writing.

It's costly. Forget the books I buy to support my habit, or the time I spend in front of a manuscript I won't let anyone else near... it cost me sleep, it cost me a clean house, it might even cost me my relationships. I mean, my friends wonder why I never call, but how do I tell them I need to write? It comes off a little problematic and screams intervention time.

I'm enjoying a fantasy life, have ten books, neatly lined up on my shelf to prove it. I read them often, needing a shot of the good stuff once and awhile.

Well, truth be told, there's one that doesn't give me a buzz anymore. Guess I overdosed or something. Maybe it's a sign that it's done, really, there's not much more I can do with it. Isn't that sad? My baby is all grown up and doesn't need me.

I still get a wicked rush from two of them.

I'm saving three for future editing cravings.

The other four we don't talk about. Cripes, I get goosebumps just thinking about them.

I live in a fantasy world, and I'm really at home there. I bet someplace out in the real world, someone else knows the pains of perfecting their books, the costs involved, and the sobering truth- one day I will have to  let them go, wonder what kinda rush that would be?

Now I'm curious.