Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Are You MADD Enough?

It is the middle of the night, and someone is knocking on your front door. Your 18 year old daughter isn’t in her bed. Your stomach turns. You panic. Acknowledgement of what you’re about to be told slams into you like a ton of bricks. You cannot catch your breath. Your hand tightens on the doorknob, not ready to face the reality you know you cannot change.

Many of us will never experience this horrific feeling. Many of us will never know what it is to lose a loved one so tragically. And many of us will have restful nights, never awoken to death knocking at your door.

But there are many who have. They’ve lived through their own nightmare. They’ve answered the door in the middle of the night. They’ve taken vigil beside a hospital bed, the only sounds coming from the ventilator keeping their child, husband, wife, or friend alive. They’ve screamed in agony, shed relentless tears, lost a piece of their soul. They are victims from drinking and driving.

Drunk driving has been a problem since before prohibition. However, with time things have changed. Now it is a criminal offence. If you kill someone while driving under the influence it is considered manslaughter. You are no different than the man, or woman who shoots their neighbor over a disagreement. You are equal to the person who robs a convenience store, killing the cashier.

You are a murderer.

Many of you may disagree. You argue that a few beers or shots at the bar do not change your perception while behind the wheel. You’re fine. You know exactly what you are doing. You have complete control.

News flash! So did the man who held up the convenience store. He was in control too.

What if it was your child, wife, or husband who had been killed in an armed robbery? You would want justice. Demand the killer go to jail for his crimes. You may even think he should die. As a Canadian Citizen you rely on the government to punish this criminal in the court of law. You expect nothing less. What is so different if the killing is done from behind the wheel of a Ford Escort, or Dodge Ram? Just like the robber, the drunk driver made a choice. Isn’t driving under the influence similar to waving a loaded gun in public? You are placing innocent civilians at risk. You are a danger to society. You are using your vehicle as a weapon.

Ask yourself, is drinking and driving worth it? Are a dozen beers and a buzz worth the consequences if you drive home killing yourself or someone else? Are you prepared to put all your aspirations and dreams on the back burner for a good time that could land you in jail with a criminal record?

Will you be able to look into the eyes of a grieving mother, or father after you’ve killed their child? A few years behind bars is never going to come close to the guilt, and anguish of what you did. Just like the victims family, you will never forget. You will live your own personal nightmare.
The only difference is… you created it.

Monday, 25 April 2011

When Gourmet Cakes go Wrong

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend. I enjoyed time with my family, and ate way too much turkey!

This weekend, however was not so great for a friend of mine. She went out on a limb, and decided to purchase a gourmet cake for her daughter’s birthday. A giant step out of her comfort zone, she normally opts for the usual Safeway cake with nutri-whip icing, my friend took a leap of faith and dove right in head first.

She did her research. Looked the company up on the internet, and scanned through all the gourmet cakes, and flavours. She even read the testimonies of the people who had ordered, and ecstatically proclaimed how they will definitely order again!

Now, I feel the need to explain something here. These cakes were nothing compared to Buddy Valastro from Carlos Bakery on Cake Boss, but they were fancy just the same. Decorated with all sorts of trinkets, and doodads, and painted in colours one has never seen on a cake before. From the pictures on the website, the baker seemed to be talented in the sugary art. Seeing this, my friend put her reservations aside and picked up the phone.

A Smurf cake was ordered.

Saturday came, and she swung by to pick me up. We were going to get the cake, and like two kids who had just been let loose inside a candy store, we couldn’t contain our excitement. What would it look like? How would it taste? Which Smurfs would the baker use?

I waited anxiously inside her car as she dashed into the store. Five minutes later we both sat silently staring at what was supposed to be the infamous Smurf cake. Puzzled, we gaped at the three disproportioned blue dudes, definitely not Smurfs, sitting on top. Pink and yellow flowers littered the cake, and a purple ribbon was wrapped around.

Now, I am no Smurf concierge, but I do know they were short with round bellies. They lived in the forest, and with a little Google search I soon remembered red mushrooms were their houses. This cake looked nothing like the Smurf cake we expected. In fact it wasn’t even close to what it should have been, and unfortunately neither was the price tag.

So I wonder, was the baker rushed and didn’t have time to fulfill the order to perfection? Did she over analyse her expertise, and soon realize she couldn’t design the blue figures? We will never know, and I suppose it doesn't matter. The little girl loved her cake, and how it tasted.


Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Happy Tuesday!!!

It's Tuesday, and I can't be happier. My renovations are almost completed, and book number two is coming along nicely.

I'd been falling a little behind with my writing lately, two months of nothing, and so I am excited that the muse has finally returned.
For how long? I don't know, but I will take the small doses it has to offer in hopes of finally finishing this damn book.

Yesterday was revision day, and I didn't get anything done. Instead I sat down at the computer and wrote. I love creating a story. I get excited when I see my characters evolve from a biography I wrote months before, into real people. Their problems are like mine or yours, and they display true genuine emotions towards them. In this part of the writing stage my characters start to lose my voice and whisper to me their own words.

My favourite part of writing, is when everything I've worked so hard to build, create, and plot comes together. Whether it be soft and subtle or a big bang, the ending has to be a moment of discovery for the reader.

And so, today I have been writing since early this morning. Much of it I will delete, re-write, or save for another part of the book. But I met my quota today, and that is something I haven't done in a while.

So I am celebrating...with a little song.

Enjoy friends, and have a great Tuesday!!


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Renovations = Relationship Ruiner?

Well, the weekend is almost over and I have to tell you mine wasn't full of rest and relaxation.
Instead it was filled with another R word. Renovations.

(sigh) Renovations are simular to a nasty flu. Although, I think I'd prefer the flu. Much like dry heaving, renovations can have you purging just the same. Whether it be the price, or the simple fact of who is doing the demos the out come is still the same....they suck!

In my case it is the latter. The who. And that person is my husband. Please don't misunderstand me, I love my husband, but we do not work well together.
Especially when it is the demolition of my kitchen wall. You see, the problem stems way back. He is irish and I am italian. Need I say more?
I am a born arguer. I don't mind a little confrontation now and then, however he'd tell you I like it. Pish Posh. He on the other hand is a one track person, and therefore does not clean up behind him.
He figures this is my part of the job. AND folks, this is where the problem begins.

I don't mind helping. I am willing to meet half way, and that would be by helping him clean. You know, holding the dust pan, plug in the vacuum, supervising.
He doesn't quite see it that way, and so the fight starts.

While he is ripping down the wall, I take up my broom and begin to clean. This is not the thing to do apparently. Oops.
A tool gets lost amongst the rubble littering my kitchen floor. What tool? I ask unconcerned glancing over at him. I'm met with a glare scary enough to frighten the devil.
Don't judge me. I don't know the fancy names for these things. I only know what they do by their shape, and that's it!

Well, you'd think it was the end of the world. I suddenly became the abductor of the tool. I somehow kidnapped the dodad and was holding it hostage. Yes, dear husband this is what I've done!
Are you kidding me?
Give me a bloody break!!
I was cleaning. A task, may I remind you was handed down to me.

I knew I wouldn't throw away a tool. It was some where in the kitchen. But it wasn't until the doors had been slammed a few times, and some good curse words spewed from our arguing lips, that the little tool made itself known. It had fallen into the recycle bin.
Phew, that was close. I took my leave and went shopping, and he continued on his project. And wouldn't you know it, we are getting along just fine!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Inspired by Rejection?

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
-Ernest Hemingway

Every writer knows what a rejection is. It’s that proverbial knife to the heart – the slap to the face. But worse, it is the moment when a writer begins to second guess themselves, to wonder if the path they have chosen was the wrong one.
As a writer, ideas float in and out of your brain like boats in a harbor. The voices in your head will not cease, and the only way to get them to quiet down is to place fingers to keyboard and write. Over time you produce articles, essays, short stories, and possibly a novel. Hours, days, months, and sometimes years go into perfecting your masterpieces. Plot, sub plot, and characterization, are all over analyzed. Sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation have been checked, re-checked, and checked again. It isn’t until you finally feel a sense of completion with your piece that you decide to move onto the next step; searching for a publisher.
You dust off your Writers Market, wipe down the keyboard and spend countless hours reading and re-reading submission guidelines. Every detail is memorized until you’ve narrowed your search down to a list of potential prospects. The next few weeks are dedicated to writing the best damn query letter ever. The guidelines have been followed. You hold your breath and email your letter.
You wake one morning to find a reply. With shaky fingers you click on the message and read “Dear Writer.” You have been rejected. Your query was not even good enough to require addressing you by name. Smack.
In the beginning of the rejection process you can understand a publisher’s plight. You are a new writer with little or no other published pieces, and minimal experience. However, as a writer you should know, there will always be rejections. The question is will it be easier to take? Will the knife only venture in a little bit, just grazing the skin? Will there be no more slaps to the face, your pride staying intact?

The answer is no.

As a writer you do not put fingers to keyboard without depositing a sliver of yourself. And so, because your writing becomes personal, a rejection will hurt. Some may go deeper than others, but they will all cut just the same.

It is a ritual for me, after receiving a rejection, to find myself at the bookstore. Reminiscent to Time Square on New Year’s Eve, the bookstore is my happy place. I feel exhilarated when I walk through the glass doors and anticipate what my next new read will be. But I often find myself amongst the tall shelves and smell of paper for another reason. There is something else – something deeper. And maybe you have to be a writer to understand, but the bookstore is the one place I can go and be surrounded by those who trudged the “writer’s path” long before me.
It is a place void of judgment. No one here knows about my battles as a writer, my scars invisible to all. I can walk through the aisles and run my fingers down the short and tall bindings playing refuge to the words written by some of my favourite authors. It is here I can take Charlotte Bronte’s Jayne Eyre, and read her words as if she is standing right before me. I can clutch Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and know he revised every word a hundred times. I can wonder if Charles Dickens felt the burst of emotion I do when I’ve completed a piece of literature. And I can sit cross-legged and thumb through Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice knowing she felt the same pain I do with a rejection. And in my private moment of self pity, my eyes are opened. I have not been the only one to labor over pages and pages, trying desperately to make them perfect. I am not the only one whose dream was squashed with the words “I’m sorry” or “Dear Writer.”
I am not alone. I will never be alone as I carve out my small niche in the writing world. I am surrounded by the best. The “greats” I aspire to be. The authors who have all been there, but still prevailed. They survived amongst the piles and piles of rejection letters. They picked themselves up, and pulled the knife from their heart, sat down at their desks and started all over again. They carried on. And so must I.


Monday, 11 April 2011

Monday, Monday!

Well, I can't say that I'm happy it's Monday. Of all the days in the week Monday has got to be the worst. Monday's are the start of the work week. Kids are back to school. Sports and other extra-curricular activities resume their nightly rituals. And to top it all off, you've gotten nothing done on the weekend. You are left with a messy house, laundry and dinner to make when you get home from work.

I try not to do any writing on Monday's. Not only because I have a lack of knowledge and couldn't spell a word if my life depended on it (right now I am spell checking this post as I type) but because I have no creative juices left. I've tried to write on Monday's and the outcome is disastrous, horrible, unreadable garbage!

So most Monday's I dedicate to the three R's. Research, re-reading, and revising whatever I wrote that week. This in itself is a daunting task. Especially if you've had a bad writing week, and I've had many of those.
But in the words of Isaac Bashevis Singer "The wastebasket is a writers bestfriend." And mine is well used.

I've added a link to one of my favourite songs. If you're having a crappy Monday, I hope this will cheer you up!!


Saturday, 9 April 2011

The English Language

Yesterday, my 12 year old son informs me he broke a window in my van while playing street hockey with his brothers. On the verge of losing my mind when he smiles and says J.K.
"J.K?? What the hell is J.K?" I ask him.
"Just kidding, mom." He laughs.
Is he kidding??
So, being the person that I am, I go into a long and drawn out conversation about the english language and how these silly abbreviations don't mean anything if no one knows what the definition is.
"Everyone at school says it, and mom, OMG and LOL are now a part of the english dictionary."
WHAT???? Is he J.K? This is absurd! Honestly,what kind of world do we live in when OMG and LOL are credited as actual words????

According to my son there are tons of these new-fandangle type words. AND this generation has become enamored with it. J.K. aside. Soon these kids won't know how to speak proper english. Soon all we'll hear on the streets is a bunch of gibberish - abbreviated words that we will not be able to understand!!

Will we for-go our language and adopt this new idiom of abbreviations? We're not too far off you know. Texts and emails are written this way. Son's and daughter's are trying it on their unsuspecting and clueless parents.
It's only a matter of time before it will replace all sentences.

Prepare yourselves people. A new language will be created, it will be called something fancy, retro, and catchy like AWL AESPAOB!!!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Number One.

Good day! I am blogging for the first time. You will have to bear with me here, as I medle through this first post.
Today was the day I chose to create this page, after much procrastination and biting of the nails, I had a moment of, umm well let's just say insanity. I mean creating a blog is stressful. What will I write about? Will it be interesting? Will anyone care? And what if I have nothing to say!
This is ubsurd! I feel naked, strangely so that I swear I feel a draft.
Okay, breathe. 
This can't be too hard. Write about things you know. Write about topics you are passionate about. Write about the news. Blah! On occasion I may feel the need to post about something on the news, but for the majority of this blog it will be about writing and publishing. How to write, what to write, how to search for that perfect publisher. Do's and Don'ts. I will update on my writing endevors, of course. The struggles and triumphs of being a writer. I will post links to articles pertaining to writing, contests, submission guidelines, and of course some new and old good reads.

So, now that I've started I have to go and find some followers.
Wish me luck!