You may stop and stare,
but do not pity me.
I may be caged,
but how are you free?
Chained to your desks
while I play & preen;
You spend half your days
glued to a screen.
I delight in my prey;
I pounce when they sing.
Chained to your devices;
you jump when they ping.
I don’t beg for attention.
Selfie? Hear me roar!
Why update the pride
that I just caught a boar?
I owe no one money,
I have no where to be.
Perhaps you are caged,
I am free.
I photographed this Amur Tiger yesterday at Granby Zoo, Quebec. I was amazed how much the photo came out like a painting. It is not. It is my favourite animal photograph I’ve ever taken.
I always find it sad to see a caged animal, but when I read that there are fewer than 400 Amur Tigers left in the wild, I got thinking about how this one might not have survived life in the wild, or perhaps he was bred in captivity and never knew the wild. It got me thinking about North American society today, and how we are living our lives, so much ‘freedom,’ all these ‘toys,’ and yet so little time to actually stop and rest and enjoy living, and that’s how this poem came to be.
For more information about the Amur Tiger and to learn how you can help conservation efforts, please visit http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/amur-tiger
I dance by the camp fire with a S’more every year. It’s my way of appreciating my life and all my blessings, and trying to entertain my family. It’s me being me and communing with nature. It’s my weird ritual, and man, it feels good.
One year, my family got it on camera, and I posted it for you readers to have a laugh at. My dear friend Larry, who has since passed away, had an especially long
good belly laugh over it. This one’s for you, Lar.
This white poet can’t dance (or rap). I sure do have fun trying, though.
..for being inspired by all the beauty around me!
In between writing books, I often turn to photography and reading other authors’ books as a mini-vacation from the work involved in writing a book. I love writing, but I find I’m at my best when I’m rested, and when I’ve taken a break to be inspired by certain aspects of my world. Such as:
A gift of flowers from our nine-year-old, placed in an old Buckley’s jar…
Entertaining for Friends and Family (Move over, Martha Stewart) :)
The breakfast was cooked by hubby. I just do the decorating :) Wait, not true. The dinner (Salad, appetizer, Indian butter chicken) was cooked by me. But seriously, I write and photograph – I rarely cook. I will cook if I think it will look pretty for my photographs :)
Alright, one more. Having the girls over for drinks? Confession: That’s not research. That’s just plain FUN!
What inspires YOU most in the summertime?
Perhaps I talk to flowers
because they don’t talk back.
They blossom when I’m kind;
wish the world were more like that.
“Strangely, Incredibly Good” has a lot going for it from the off. Great characters, humour, adult conversations, and a sidekick in Gram that lights the book up even more whenever she’s around. While funny and biting, though, the book also has some standout emotional moments (chapter eight, for example, leaves you breathless with its prose and punch to the heart).
It’s this kind of emotional swing that makes the book so enjoyable. We know that life is never perfect; we know we make mistakes; we know we chase often-impossible dreams. The fact Heather Grace Stewart captures all these emotions so well in her tight debut novel shows a writer who knows her craft and audience.
An excellent first book, and hopefully the first of many in the adventures of Cat.
5 Authors make a salary.
That’s just funny. Some of us, if we have a large publisher, get something called an advance on royalties. I got a nice big one ($2,000 per book divided into three installments) when I worked with Jackfruit Press, writing a couple books on Canada’s Prime Ministers. It’s a wonderful recognition of your hard work to get these installments after you’ve signed your contract, sent in a draft, and delivered your final manuscript, but I don’t know many independent publishers who offer this. It’s too much of a risk for a publisher to do this. So, authors might work for 1-2 or even more years on a book, and not see any payment until their first royalty cheque. This is just the way it is.
4 Once you’re a published author, you’ll have your own agent & assistant!
Nope. Authors with big publishing firms, and ‘names,’ have these. I have tried to find an agent for years. It would help me and my books get more visibility. It’s a Catch 22 because you can’t find an agent unless you grab their attention. I sent 50 queries to agents *accepting* queries when I finished Strangely, Incredibly Good, hoping one would represent me. Many agents and publishers don’t accept unsolicited requests – they want someone to refer you. ONE of those accepting queries responded in the 3 month time span they’d said they’d take to reply to me. ONE. No one else ever even sent me a “Decline” type note. I heard nothing. The one who did write back, thankfully, wrote to me that my manuscript wasn’t what they were looking to publish but they didn’t doubt that another agency would ‘jump on it’ (none did).
That one response gave me some motivation to keep on searching for an agent or small publisher, and I soon heard from the small Canadian publisher, Morning Rain Publishing.
3 You must be wealthy if you’re on/have appeared on an Amazon & Kobo Bestseller List!
Hardly. You need to realize these best seller lists are meant to help authors sell more books, but they don’t necessarily mean an author who made that list is rolling in it. Remember, Amazon and Kobo take a percentage of your royalties. If you have a publisher, that’s one more middle-man. So, we’re talking about a royalty between .40 cents and $3.99 per book, depending on what you’ve set your book at – but with many books going for .99 to $2.99 these days, an author’s royalty is probably on the lower end of that scale. Royalties for print books also vary, but I’ve never earned more than $4 per book, and though I’ve worked hard at selling these books, I haven’t yet sold more than 300 print copies (that is my sell-count for Where the Butterflies Go, my oldest poetry collection, so it’s had more time to sell. Carry On Dancing is at about the 250 mark, and my latest novel, now out one month, is at about 40 digital copies and 50 print copies sold. The silver lining here is that the publisher didn’t even intend to print the book until six months after the ebook release, but decided to print it early. It’s now available through special order or at events.
Don’t forget I had expenses to promote these books – book cover art, promotional ads, travel – so the $1,000 I may have earned for sales of WTBG was not my net profit. My first royalty cheque for Carry On Dancing amounted to a nice dinner with wine with my husband. After that, three months later, I got one that was around $30, and then because it was no longer new, sales petered out. Now my four poetry collections provide what I call “coffee money” every few months.
I was really pleased with that first royalty cheque from COD and I’ll never be ungrateful for the money I have managed to make as a published author, but you need to understand that royalties on books do not make authors rich, unless they have a viral best-seller, which is rare. Speaking engagements can provide some good income, but unless you’re John Grisham, you’ll be earning $100-$300 per speech, not the $50,000-$100,000 he earns for speaking.
2 Traditional publishers have tons of pull & power to help you sell your book.
It depends on their size. There are five publishers, ‘The Big 5’, that have some pull in the world. They compete with Amazon. Then there are the independent publishers, like mine. Mine is a small independent Canadian publisher that’s less than a year old. They do their best to give their authors a fighting chance, but my publisher can’t compete with the big publishers with big budgets (at least, not yet).
Chapters will allow independent authors (including those published by independent publishers like mine) to sell books on consignment. The author sets the “list” price, and the store takes up to 45% of that price as payment for shelf space. Yes you read that right: they take up to 45 percent. Sometimes, I’ve lost money just to appear at Chapters. It’s a decision I stand by today, since I ended up gaining lots of new readers because of those appearances. However, those were not money-making appearances. They were great for publicity.
1 You’re always smiling and excited about your latest achievement. Your books must be selling like crazy!
Yea, I don’t want to be a mopey bitch of an author now, do I? (actually maybe that would get headlines and sell more books! I’m kidding. )
I am so grateful that I get to do what I love – write books – that they’ve actually been published, and that I have a lot of support from family, friends and a few loyal fans. However, when you work two years or more on a book that is your heart and soul, and it only sells 75 print copies, while How To Properly Pull Nosehairs has sold 750,000, that can be quite discouraging. I keep on smiling and keep on writing* though, because the alternative isn’t my style.
*(After I’ve obsessively checked my Amazon rankings and screamed out loud a few dozen times)
It took me several years of playing around on social media to realize that my first love on the Net – blogging – is still my passion. I love blogging!
I miss posting photos and blogging regularly. Writing a novel took me away from that, as I needed time offline to get the novel finished, but time on Twitter and Facebook has also cut into my blogging time.
I’d also noticed a drop in commenting in the last few years, and that was discouraging. The LIKE button came along, and many of us – yes me included – now find it easier to simply LIKE a blog post, rather than take the time to log in and comment.
While I can’t promise another novel won’t take me away from regular blogging (that would be a good thing, right?) for now, I’d like to try posting at least once a week again; to have some fun with taking and posting photographs again, and to try commenting on more blogs each week. I know how great it feels to read someone’s comment on my blog. I hope to give that back.
Meanwhile, it’s Saturday and it’s summertime, so I’ve just been chillin': reading, gardening and picking bouquets of lilies, floating in the pool, and taking lots photographs ….my daughter and I loved these tangerine drinks, and I loved how they made those lilies pop!
Confessions of a Girly Girl
Originally posted on Where the Butterflies Go:
I’m a girly girl.
There, I said it. Sometimes I have problems admitting it, because it seems a little weak. And I’m not weak. I like to inline skate long distances. I love to cardio box. I like to debate a point. I love to win.
But the girly girl in me takes over when there are dresses and heels in my vicinity. I don’t own many: maybe just three good party dresses and three pairs of nice heels. But I love it when I get a chance to wear them.
Dressing up lifts my spirits, and makes me feel youthful (with the big 4-0 approaching–in 2012–feeling youthful is a very, very good thing). I’m not saying I’d happily go grocery shopping in heels–that’s when I break out the running shoes–but fashion can be so much fun. Life is short. Play it up!
I finally had the opportunity to meet some of my Morning Rain Publishing colleagues last night!
Editor Jennifer Bogart kindly invited me, Nancy Beattie, and JM Lavallée and our families to her home for a BBQ. JM and her family were traveling from their home in Alberta to Quebec’s Lower North Shore, where JM is going to be doing several book signings (be sure to visit her Facebook Page to learn more). We met up just outside of Montreal.
It was fun getting to know each other, and doing a silly photo shoot with our books. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get together again soon, because we all really hit it off – and our kids had a blast together, too.
Thanks to my husband, talented engineer/ photographer :) Bill Stewart, for all the great photos.
My last guest post for my Strangely, Incredibly Good blog tour is
about telling your inner critic to take a hike.
Come check it out at Chick Lit Club!
Cosmochicklitan interviewed me! Find out when I write, how Twitter helped me write my first novel, and what Superpower I’d choose to have.
Originally posted on cosmochicklitan:
I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather Grace Stewart as part of the blog tour for Strangely, Incredibly Good. Thank you so much for visiting Heather!
Your debut novel is called Strangely, Incredibly Good. Could you please tell us a bit more about this book?
Sure, and thanks so much for having me here. My novel is about Cat Glamour, a 38-year-old woman who has just been through a rotten divorce and now she’s struggling with finances, self-esteem and balancing her personal life. She lives with her two teen daughters and her 91-year-old grandmother who…let’s just call her a unique trip. On the day that Cat decides to start an exercise routine, the last thing she expects is a modern-day Genie to pop out of her Wii machine. Unfortunately for Cat, her genie is somewhat unreliable in his wish-granting capabilities. In a series of hilarious misadventures, he sends Cat…
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Here’s an interview at the Fictionella blog as part of the Strangely, Incredibly
Good blog tour!Thanks for reading!
Thanks to Everything Books & Authors for featuring Strangely Incredibly Good today. Here’s their post!
Are you still here? Well then guess I should thank you for being an exceptionally loyal reader. You helped get SIG to #11 in Humorous Fiction on Kobo this past weekend, and made it an Amazon Bestseller – #82 in Contemporary Romance !
Please keep on sharing links to this book. If you liked it, spread the word! Thanks so much.
It’s release day! Thanks again to everyone at Morning Rain Publishing for helping get this book out into the world. Here’s what Morning Rain Publishing has to say today (you can buy Strangely, Incredibly Good at this link too).
I wanted to write something special for this day, but the fact that I woke up at 3 a.m. ! like a child on Christmas morning has left me with rather poor writing skills. I don’t like how my writing turns out when I’m tired. I can still try to offer you, my dear, loyal readers, a list of Top Ten Confessions about this novelist’s journey to getting Strangely, Incredibly Good published. Just please excuse any typos :)
10. Came up with the idea mid-2012 but then a few people (including me!) said it sounded kind of silly…and I stuffed the idea in a drawer. NEVER LET SELF DOUBT STOP YOUR GOOD INSTINCTS.
9. For years and years, I didn’t think I had a longer story in me. Then, after being inspired by the people mingling at a wonderful discussion board led by writer Aaron Sorkin, I penned an 18500 word screenplay. I was on my way. Thanks to The Undeletables for firing me up, and knowing how to get me out of that hole!
8. I have spent too much of the ’00s online, and not enough time writing. Don’t do this. It took until about 2012 for me to find true discipline and realize that if I want to write something, I can’t be online until at least lunch time. When I have a project I want to finish, I write early, and log on late.
7. I fuss about my hair too much. It’s amazing what going au naturel curly (letting it be air-dried) did for my writing! I’m serious! I had really bad hair days for months while writing Strangely, Incredibly Good, but hell, it got finished!
6. Working at home all day can be a lonely existence. I’m thankful for some wonderful neighbors, music, and the friends in my social networks. I hope I don’t become a crazy old novelist with four cats (we currently have three) ….but if I do maybe I’ll write some really weird and wonderful stuff? Laughing!
5. When I finished the manuscript in October 2013, I sent it to 50 literary agents with a really great (at least I thought so) cover letter. I heard back from ONE who said it wasn’t what they were looking for but someone else would absolutely love it. I’m thankful for that ONE agent as she convinced me to keep pushing this manuscript, and I started just sending queries to publishers that were looking for unsolicited manus. I never did need an agent, in the end, a wonderful Canadian publisher took me on without the help of an agent.
4. I thought I was writing a piece of crap about 60 percent of the time. I’m glad I listened to how I felt about the work the other 40 percent of the time – and I’m grateful to those who read it in its early stages and insisted I keep going.
3. We’re all just winging it. Every one of us.
2. I believe in magic.
1. I’d like Hugh Jackman cast as Gene, the genie. Who wouldn’t?!
Okay, maybe WITHOUT the turban and genie pants! But imagine Hugh as Gene in the tuxedo? Mmm.
In this interview, I talk about when I knew I wanted to be a writer, and divulge my guilty pleasure!
Tour Stop One: Keep Calm & Blog On – Interview & Review
Originally posted on keep calm & blog on:
Cat Glamour is an overweight 38-year-old divorcée who is struggling with finances, self-esteem, and balancing her personal life. While her 91-year-old, decidedly different, grandmother provides emotional support, Cat needs to take control of the life that has been shattered by her abusive ex-husband and tragic events of the past. On the day Cat decides to start an exercise routine, the last thing she expects is a modern-day Genie to pop out of her Wii machine. Unfortunately for Cat, her Genie is somewhat unreliable in his wish-granting capabilities. In a series of hilarious misadventures, he sends Cat to a castle in France and back in time 20 years in an attempt to solve both Cat’s weight issues and emotional stresses. Cat’s journey is one filled with quirky adventures, realistic love, and above all, self-discovery.
First, I absolutely love Heather, her interview below is so fun and I thank…
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The first review is in and it’s five stars! Wow!
Fictionella tour begins tomorrow – please join in the fun and discussions.
Thanks again for reading,
I’m going on tour. This is so exciting!
I’ll be on tour with help from the wonderful Fictionella from June 1-30. Here’s the Fictionella tour schedule so far. Book bloggers, there is still time to join!
I signed my contract with the e-book publisher Morning Rain Publishing in December, with the hopes they’d move to print for December 2014. Today I got the exciting news that they’re printing all their fantasy books including Strangely, Incredibly Good in June!
The easiest way to get the book is still to get it on Kindle or Kobo or iBooks on June 5th. However, looks like (*barring emergencies ) I should have some print books at my release party at Herb’s on Friday June 13th.
Visit the MRP blog to learn more:
Genies exist in my novel. Wish one could help me clean & fold laundry while I’m deep in final-edits & hubby is working to a deadline! (our 9 year old is a big help but you can only ask her so much).
‘You can’t do it all, and you shouldn’t even try!’ is my new mantra. Before working on edits today though, I walked through our small flower & veggie gardens with a cup of coffee. There is so much promise in new buds and blossoms. I think that’s why I love gardening. It’s a lot like creating a book.
THREE weeks until the release of Strangely, Incredibly Good, my debut novel, to be published by Morning Rain Publishing! Woo hooo! Thanks for all the encouragement!
If you’ve been following this blog since 2008, and many of you have and I love you for it!, you know that I’ve written poetry most of my life. My first poetry collection, Where the Butterflies Go, was born from this blog in 2008, and three others followed. Then I tried my hand at screenwriting, with The Friends I’ve Never Met, and realized how much I love writing longer stories. So, a year and a half ago, I tackled my first novel, which will be published by Morning Rain Publishing on Thursday, June 5, 2014.
I’m inviting you all to celebrate this occasion with me. Let’s meet online HERE – comments and questions welcome anytime! – I’ll also post links to my Fictionella blog tour posts here from June 1-30th and ask you to please join me on my Facebook Page, where I’ve set up an event for the evening of June 5th, to pop some cyber champagne and celebrate the release of Strangely, Incredibly Good with you, my wonderful readers. Please join the event and share it with others!
For those of you who only read print books, please have patience. There *should* be a printed version of this book later this year – just not quite yet. Morning Rain Publishing is a small but mighty publisher, putting out primarily ebooks. I’d really appreciate your support in please buying the ebook (on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, or at the Morning Rain site) because the more ebook copies that are sold, the more chances it has to be published as a printed volume. Please help make that happen!
Thanks again for following & supporting me on this journey.
I’ve decided to start sharing some of my artistic hobbies with you: chocolate lollipop making, flower arranging, and perhaps even patio table-decorating if we ever get rid of this snow!
These are the arts and crafts I do while I’m plotting my next novel or poem. I like to keep my mind busy with another art form while I’m ironing out the writing project I’m working on, or when I just need to do something different with my creativity.
These easter lollipops are the latest batch of lollipops I’ve made with my nine-year-old daughter. We don’t like to use the words, ‘I’m bored’ around here, but that means coming up with creative activities to suggest to your children, or to do with them. If you always have some chocolate compound (also called melts), molds and lollipop sticks on hand, you’re set for a fun (though rather messy!) afternoon with your children aged 7 and up. They may even forget about their iPhones and iPads for a while!
It can be an expensive hobby to start up just because you’ll probably want to get molds for every holiday – when we started we got ones for my daughter’s birthday, Christmas, and Easter. The molds are only $3 each, and the compound that melts in the microwave is $5 at Goldas Kitchen (where I love to order all my supplies as they always arrive the next day or in 2 days at the latest). You can probably find it cheaper somewhere like Bulk Barn. The lollipop sticks are $7 for 150, but again you can maybe find them cheaper at Walmart or a party store.
My daughter has told me she’d much rather make chocolate lollipops with us on a weekend afternoon than go to a movie – which these days runs at $50 for a family of four, if you want drinks and popcorn too. The best part is that I can spend $50 on supplies and we get to make the lollipops several times a season (and the molds are reusable forever, just don’t put them in the dishwasher!)
We use paintbrushes to fill in the fine details before filling the molds up with melted chocolate. We had to experiment with bowls and microwave time before being able to make really complicated and detailed molds. Some bowl types get really hot and then burn the chocolate. We now put in 1/4 cup of chocolate melts, put it in the micro for 35 seconds, stir it, then put it in for another 35 seconds, stir again until smooth, and place as much is needed in mold. Now that we’ve figured out the process (we each like to have our own mold to work with, a paintbrush or two of our own, and a section of the counter where we can ‘share’ a bowl of chocolate) the sky’s the limit, and we even make some of these without lollipop sticks to place as decorations on cakes.
We love giving the treats away as gifts. We use small plastic bags, tied with dollar-store ribbon. It feels good to give someone we love a chocolate treat and see their face light up.
Please ask any questions below – I’m happy to try to answer them.
This Is So Exciting!
What do you want me to talk about? Please discuss below, or send me a note via my Facebook Page. I’ll make sure those questions get answered during my blog tour. I’ll also be re-blogging some of the best interviews here.
I’m going to set up an event page for the June 5th digital launch, and hope we can all chat on that event page at my Facebook Author Page that day. We’ll have an online party like the ones I used to have on my Facebook Wall years ago.
My publisher & I are planning a Friday the 13th Strangely, Incredibly Good Novel Release Party as well, somewhere in the Montreal area. Details to follow!
Thanks again for your support and loyalty. You rock.
Can’t wait for you to meet Cat, Eugene, and Gram!
Thanks very much to Doreen Pendgracs for inviting me to participate in this fun blog hop about the writing process. I met Doreen through PWAC (Professional Writers Association of Canada) many years ago, and she has been a great supporter of all my writing projects ever since. Thanks Doreen!
Doreen’s intent is to educate, entertain and inspire writers and anyone interested in creative and cultural endeavours.If you’re a chocolate lover and love to travel, you will enjoy Doreen’s chocolate travel blog at http://diversionswithdoreen.com/. If you’re interested in her latest book, Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate, visit http://chocolatour.net/ for updates about the book, and chocolate tours, tastings and events. In addition to non-fiction books, Doreen also writes magazine, newspaper, and online articles and blog posts about travel, lifestyle, chocolate, volunteerism, and other topics for various publications. You can read some of her published articles on the “Samples” page of her static website at http://www.wizardofwords.net.
Okay, now it’s my turn:
Author Heather Grace Stewart
1) What am I working on?
I am excited to say that I’m currently “in final edits” on my adult fiction/women’s fiction novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good, with my publisher Morning Rain Publishing. Gosh, I love being able to say that! I got the best Christmas gift ever when they sent me a publishing contract for Strangely, Incredibly Good on December 23rd, 2013! I’m also thrilled that we haven’t revised much from my original manuscript. We’re just looking to clean it up and make it shine now. It is due to be launched on June 5, 2014.
When I’m not working on edits for that book, I’m coming up with the plot for my next book. I can’t say much about that. You’ll just have to wait. :D
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I hope that people will say it has more humour than most other women’s fiction novels. I also hope they find it’s more of an escape. It’s about a woman who starts an exercise routine and discovers a genie in her Wii machine! It’s definitely fanciful, but that’s what I set out to do. I wanted it to be based in modern reality, but allow for the characters to escape that reality – and take the reader along with them on that fanciful journey. It’s more adventure packed than some other books that are considered women’s fiction, I think, but then, I didn’t write it specifically for women – I wrote it for myself, and my friends and family, with hopes that many people from diverse backgrounds, men and women, would pick it up and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write to entertain myself, first and foremost. It’s pure entertainment for me. When I’m writing a longer work of fiction like this, I’ve noticed the TV remains off for several weeks at a time, or, only one or two shows pull me in a couple times a week (I do need to watch some times to recharge my batteries after writing all day)!
The topics I choose to write about – in my poetry and in fiction like Strangely, Incredibly Good - are all themes I feel need more discourse in our society. I want to get people thinking and talking about these themes. Sometimes, I just want to poke fun of our society and get us all laughing at ourselves. Other times, I’m more direct, and I’m trying to incite change. This novel was really meant as an escape for the reader, and as a form of entertainment, but there are some themes and sub-themes in there I hope get dissected to pieces in Book Clubs across Canada and beyond. As long as you have some wine in hand and don’t take my book too seriously! The last thing I want is to cause cat fights at Book Clubs!
Side note: My main character’s name is Cat. This could get interesting. We could actually call debates over that character – debates over her actions and what they mean – Cat Fights.
See? I’m having waaaaay too much fun with this book. I may never watch The Bachelor again!
4) How does your writing process work?
The only hard and fast rule I have is to write something every day. If I’ve got a lot of marketing to do, or maybe I’m prepping a writing workshop like the one I just did at Queen’s University, I still set aside half an hour every day to write creatively. I don’t always like what I wrote, but I save it in a file, and work on it the next day, and the day after that.
When I was working on this novel, I got to my desk every morning at 7:30 a.m. and wrote until noon. That’s a little trick I learned when I read that Hemingway did that. Then he went fishing every day at noon. I choose to have lunch, Tweet, check Facebook, do yoga, take a walk, read, or do laundry! Then I get back to other work tasks.
The first week or so of writing Strangely, Incredibly Good, I just wrote. I didn’t edit at all. I tried to not even edit my sentences as I put them down, let alone re-read what I wrote and edit that paragraph or paragraphs. I just wrote. I had an idea, and I saw the beginning, so I wrote that. And then I kept going.
When I got to about 5,000 words, I took a look at what I had, and started plotting. I had cue cards, and a filing system, and filed items on plot, main characters, sub characters, etc. I plotted out how the story was going to end, but I did so in a vague way. My story wasn’t solidified yet. I still had to write and find out what was going to happen.
So, I got back to writing, and worked at a slow but steady pace. Some days I put down 1,000 words; other days, more like 1500. I never wrote beyond that because I never wanted my writing to sound tired.
Once I was finished my book, I spent weeks going over it and massaging it for language, plot development, and character development. Then I wrote up my query letter and started looking for a publisher. This is the first time I’ve found a publisher for my work this quickly. I sent my letters out in early November, and received this request for publication just before Christmas. It doesn’t usually happen like that, trust me. But it does feel meant to be.
This is one experience where I can say I’ve definitely enjoyed the journey, the writing, as much as the destination of getting published.
PLEASE visit the following three writers, who will be posting their answers to these questions next week, Monday, March 31, 2014. Not only are they talented writers, they have become dear friends. I feel blessed that they have become part of my life.
Joseph Hesch is a writer and poet who lives near Albany, New York. Many of his poems and stories are inspired by the spirit and history his 350-year-old hometown. But often, they capture the observations and feelings of a man who began to create verse and stories in middle age. His work has been published by numerous U.S. literary journals, as well as in anthologies such as Petrichor Rising, a worldwide collaboration with a small group of friends brought together on Twitter. Joe posts many poems and in-progress short stories on his blog, A Thing for Words A founding staff member with the dVerse Poets Pub community, and now a contributor to the Bardo Group, Joe has been named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.”
Author Elisa Lorello was born and raised on Long Island, the youngest of seven children. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and eventually launched a career teaching rhetoric and composition. Elisa spent six years in North Carolina, where she split her time between teaching writing to university students and publishing her own work. She has since returned home to the Northeast.
Elisa is the author of Kindle bestselling novels Faking It and Ordinary World, Why I Love Singlehood (co-authored with Sarah Girrell), and Adulation. Faking It, translated in German as Vorgetäuscht, also spent three consecutive weeks at #1 on the German Kindle Bestseller List.
When not writing, Elisa is an unapologetic Duran Duran fan, Pop-Tart enthusiast, walker, and coffee shop patron, and she can sing two-part harmony.
Author Arianna Merritt, M.Ed, is a Canadian Psychotherapist (registration in progress), Author of ‘Stand Tall & Speak from the Heart: How to Find Your Way’ and the Founder of
Arianna’s Random Thoughts. The focus of her work is centred around issues of expressive writing, self-worth, and perseverance. Arianna empowers individuals to reach their full potential through finding their voices and sharing their stories. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and on her website.
I missed a Thursday while visiting Kingston, Ontario on my Three Spaces book tour, speaking at Queen’s University and visiting two bookstores. But while there, I took some neat shots, and was hoping you’d be inspired to write something looking at them today. I’ll post two.
All you have to do is take ten minutes to get yourself started today. Just ten. You can take more if you have it, but at least get a paragraph down if you don’t have much time, and then write more tomorrow. I’d love a link to your post when it’s ready and will share it.
If you are working on another writing project, I encourage you to stick to it and keep writing! Let me know how it’s going here?
The Friends I’ve Never Met has reappeared on the Women’s Fiction> Action and Adventure Bestsellers list on Amazon.com! Thanks for your fantastic support, readers!
If you haven’t decided if it’s worth a read yet, here are some of the reviews posted on Amazon.
THE FRIENDS I’VE NEVER MET
4.8 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
By itsjustus – Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition – What a delightful gem – I’m so glad I discovered this screenplay! The story is full of highly relatable characters, laugh-out-loud humor, touching emotional scenes, and even a fun plot twist I didn’t see coming.
The main character, Jessica, is a mom of three and a writer, just like I am; how could I not relate to that? An author’s life can indeed be lonely, so Jessica goes online to find support/companionship/advice/etc. Even though she hasn’t met her online friends in person, oftentimes they provide better moral support and camaraderie than the people she does see in person. When one of her online friends faces a personal tragedy, the group arranges a face-to-face meeting for the first time. The touching descriptions that follow are so heartfelt and superbly done. It’s also wonderful to witness Jessica coming out of her shell and truly expressing herself.
Overall, The Friends I’ve Never Met really resonated with me. It was an easy and entertaining read, and if you’ve never read a screenplay the way you would a novel, I highly recommend you start with this one – you’ll be glad you did!
5.0 out of 5 stars
When’s the movie coming out?
By S. Dean – Published on Amazon.com
I loved this screenplay – well written, funny and intelligent. I think I would be first in line to see it on a big screen!
5.0 out of 5 stars
Couldn’t put it down!
By J. Kondraciuk – Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
I have to say I was hesitant about reading a screenplay, but once I started to read it I just couldn’t put it down! I really liked how they helped each other during difficult times each character was going through. How they were there for one another. This is a very good, well written screenplay!
What’s Next? This!
It’s Take Ten Thursday! For those of you who haven’t been following this blog in the last few weeks, I have started a series of Thursday posts meant to encourage you to take time out every day to write.
You don’t need more than ten minutes to get your creativity flowing. I hope you’ll write for more than ten minutes, but I’m trying to prove the point that, when we say, “I don’t have the time to start a book, a poem, or a short story, I have to work and then there’s driving the kids to xx activities, xx times,” we are selling ourselves short. Whether we think we are lacking creativity or that we’re the next E.L. James, we need to give ourselves those ten minutes a day to find out. Skip a shower if you have to! (I’m kidding. Sort of. There are waterproof note pads on the market. You could stick one on your shower wall. See? There are options to get those ten minutes in every day!)
Today, I’d like you to use this photo prompt and the words within the photo quoto to inspire your writing. Your story can be on the theme of Social Networking: In the Future,or you can simply write about a graveyard, or about the future. Just get some words down on paper or on your computer, and don’t over-edit. See what flows naturally. You can edit tomorrow.
I like to read these posts, so keep them coming, keep linking back to me, and posting the links here in the comments section. You can take until next Thursday to publish your piece – as long as you let me know where to find it, I will read and share them all as often as I can!
The main character in my upcoming novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good, struggles with her weight. This is a serious issue and I take it seriously in the book, but the book is also humorous, and I hope you’ll laugh over the situations the main character gets herself into as she struggles to exercise, lose pounds and feel better about herself.
I’m not sure many people know this except my family, but maintaining my weight has never been easy, and I struggled with it in my 20’s. At one point, in my late 20’s, I was 60 pounds overweight, so I know a little about what that feels like, emotionally.
For my novel, I researched what it might feel like to be even more overweight by reading a lot on the topic, surfing discussion forums, and speaking with different women. It was eye-opening for me.
One of the complaints my character ‘Cat’ has is believing in weight loss programs and products or trends that are only in the business to make money, and don’t actually work. There’s a slimming spray out on the market right now that I thought sounded fantastic, until I read this fact: “Energy is measured in calories. X Spray contains two calories per dose. That is not enough energy to stop the stomach from grumbling with hunger.”
For years, I was drinking Slim Fast for breakfast and lunch but it never filled me up. I ended up snacking more at the end of the day.
It took me years to stop being conned by all these ‘get thin fast’ techniques and to finally just discipline myself to eat healthier food, smaller portions, and cut out a lot of my sugar intake. I still struggle to eat right every day.
Please share some of your dieting ‘flops,’ if you will, what you learned, and if you’ve found success at keeping a healthy lifestyle, how did you do that? Let’s encourage each other!
The book doesn’t come out until June, and while it is written, it’s never completely finished until we hit ‘publish.’ I know it isn’t easy to discuss this issue, but I’d appreciate any comments you can make, if you feel you can. Your comments may provide me with even more insight to make this character’s struggle a realistic one.
“I hate you, fashion industry, with your tiny t-shirts that would only fit small, starving boys.”
~Cat Glamour in Strangely, Incredibly Good
Sorry I was late this week with #TTT ! You owe it to yourself to take some time -make it a Fifteen Minute Friday – to write today. Not one minute this Valentine’s Day? Then set aside some time this weekend. After you’ve written something, please let me know in the comments, and link back, so everyone can find your blog post!
Welcome to Take Ten Thursday at Where the Butterflies Go! Thanks for dropping in.
Your writing prompt today is this photo, taken at our local winter festival.
Snow taffy and later, in Spring, ‘sugaring off’ or going to the ‘sugar shack’ is part of the culture around here. If it’s not something you’re familiar with a) you really need to come visit Canada and enjoy all the celebrations surrounding the maple syrup industry! and b) just write about your Winter Traditions.
Ready? Got a pen, paper, or a computer keyboard? Got 10 minutes? Good. If not, TAKE ten. Find a quiet spot and jot down whatever comes to mind for at least 10 minutes. Please take more time if you have it! Hear that? Your inner artist is asking you for some play time!
Leap, from the author of Where the Butterflies Go, is available for purchase at Lulu.com and Amazon stores worldwide. It’s also available on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and where all fine ebooks are sold. You can also order an autographed copy via Paypal. Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. Half the proceeds from sales go to Hearts for Change – an Educational Project for orphaned children in Kenya.
Here’s an interview with the author from 2010:
Questions for a Poet, As Put to Seamus Heaney
Q: Some years ago, Seamus Heaney told an English journalist: “My notion was always that, if the poems were good, they would force their way through.” Is this now your experience?
HGS: Absolutely. Sometimes it comes through in a matter of minutes; other times, I write down a few lines, and the rest follows maybe a day or a few weeks later. But if it’s good, it all ends up on the page…and then typed into a document in my “Poetry in the works” file on my computer, and then, if I still like it after I’ve lived with it a couple weeks, I put it into a “Poetry to publish” file.
Q: Over the years, Heaney often quoted Keats’s observation, “If poetry comes not as naturally as leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.” Is that just a young poet’s perspective?
HGS: I think so. It doesn’t always come naturally to me. Sometimes I just need to sit down and force myself to write. Stop listening to the whining voice; shut it out, and just “do it.”
Q: Does this mean that a poem essentially begins for you when you find a form?
HGS: A poem essentially begins for me when I’ve found my voice for it; the form takes shape with the voice.
Q: Is there a poetry time of day and a prose time of day?
HGS: Used to be I used my early mornings for poetry and at sunset, and prose anytime, but now that I am a mother, it’s when I have a notepad, pen, and that spare minute when I’m not being asked to wipe a bum or put Barbie’s head back on.
Q: I remember Anne Yeats saying that her father mumbled to himself when he started to write. Would the Stewart household know that a poem was coming on?
HGS: In my household my hubby can usually tell a poem (for kids or adults) is being born if he comes home at 6:30 p.m. and DD is beside me doing a puzzle; a grilled cheese or rice is burning on the stove, and I’m soaking wet; just out of the shower in a towel with a focused look on my face, typing at the computer, “Just a minute, honey I have this idea…” And he’s so cool about that. He’s used to me by now. Now my daughter’s getting in on it, too. She looks at my face sometimes and says, “Mommy, what? Do you have an idea? Tell me, tell me, what is it? ” I try hard to be in the moment with her as often as I can, but the kid is smart, she’s onto me…so I usually end up spilling, because I don’t like to talk down to her, and sometimes, just by explaining it to her, she helps me better formulate the idea. Just wait, you guys are going to love our kids poem, ‘Cats Can’t Cook!’
Q: Do you ever feel burdened by the sheer amount of work you know it will require to do justice to a particular inspiration?
HGS: All the time. All the time. Right now, I’m trying to write a poem that’s going to do justice to this amazing group of people I’ve met online, and become close to over a year and a bit. Some might guffaw that you can make special friendships online. I beg to differ. I don’t know how I’m going to write something that truly speaks to this experience I’ve had. I think maybe they’ll help me somehow, because a lot of them are writers…actually, I’ve dedicated LEAP in part to them.
Q: How can you tell a poem is finished?
When it stops shouting at me. ;-)
Q: Do you keep a notebook of phrases and images for later use?
HGS: I have several notebooks, with penned poems/ ideas to type out later, and my images are saved on the computer by date.
Q: Does the poem come more quickly if there is a form? Would you be offended to be called a formalist?
HGS: I don’t think anyone would call me a formalist, but I definitely use techniques. Just not formally. Okay, seriously now, I’ve written haiku, tanka,
and Villanelles, using proper form. I just don’t like being weighed down by form. As Frank sang, I’ll do it my way ;)
Q: Do you have a preference for pararhymes and half rhymes over full rhymes?
HGS: I only use rhyme when it will only come to me that way, and even then, I hesitate to use it. I have to think about it first. I ask myself, is this form going to help the message or hinder it?
Q: Are you a poet for whom the sound the words make is crucial?
HGS: It’s all about sound for me. I love alliteration. Sometimes a poem starts out with words that sound great together; they just come to me and I have to write them down. For instance, I was walking to a Queen’s University class at 8 a.m. one rainy spring day in Kingston, and couldn’t get this line out of my head: ‘These are the days, quickly melting away,” (from the poem EQUINOX). The poem took off from there.
Q: Would you accept Eliot’s contention that the subject matter is simply a device to keep the reader distracted while the poem performs its real work subliminally?
HGS: To some extent. But I don’t do it on purpose. It must be subliminal. ;)
Q: What role does humor play in your poetry?
HGS: I don’t try to be funny. I don’t try to be anything. I just write the way I think, and I think people find my honesty refreshing and humorous.
Q: What are your thoughts about accessibility and obscurity in poetry?
HGS: Accessibility is probably my trademark: something I’m proud of and at the same time it’s my tragic flaw, if you will, because I’m so accessible, many journals wouldn’t be interested. I’ve managed to get several respected online journals interested, and printed ones in the UK, and even a Canadian textbook company sought me out. I’ve been published in international anthologies, including a very special one memorializing 911–Babylon Burning, edited by the great Canadian poet Todd Swift–and in a few print journals in Canada, but not the most “elite” ones–the ones that have been around almost 100 years. I’ve kind of given up trying because I don’t think it’s that important to me any more. I want to touch real people’s lives; not just the academics. I want to write something that might comfort a stay-at-home mom or a couple struggling with their love/ marriage or a depressed person looking for a glimmer of hope in a fast-paced world. I think the people I’m trying to reach are more likely to happen upon my poetry on the Net, not so much in the special collections rooms of their libraries. I know that people can understand my poetry without having to go look in some reference book (except for the odd references I make to items in the news, and even then I try not to be obscure) and that’s quite odd. But I can’t change the way I write. I guess I’m destined to be a Fridge Poet – the one that makes it to everyone’s fridge beside their kids’ finger paintings. And at the same time, to help a few children in third-world countries get the education they wouldn’t otherwise get. That’s just fine with me.
Q: And the avant-garde?
HGS: I’d love to be avant-garde. I’d love to be Avant anything. Ahead by a Century. That’s cool. I think some of my poems are there (for instance, my collection Leap features the concept of the Status Update as poetry), others, not so much, and I guess we’ll see which ones stand the test of time in 100 years. Well, no, unless I live to be 137, I guess I won’t see that. But whether they’re set in a classic or innovative style, as long as my words can touch a few people’s hearts along the way…for me, that’s really all that matters.
Thanks for reading! —Heather Grace Stewart
Today I’d like to start something with you readers called Take Ten Thursday. Ten sit ups? Ten Coffees? You can do those things too, sure, but I’m encouraging you to spend JUST TEN MINUTES today on writing.
It can be poetry. It can be prose. It can be the start of a novel. It can be the middle of your novel. It can be as short as a haiku, as old-fashioned as a sonnet, or as modern as lyrics to a mash up song.
Just Take Ten. Take ten minutes for yourself in a quiet room, all alone, and just write – and do not edit what you write.
If you can continue past ten, great, but what I want to teach you is that if you think you aren’t creative, or you think you don’t have time, just ten minutes can get you started.
You’ll need to pick up what you did tomorrow and add to it, maybe edit it a little (although it’d be great if you leave it alone and keep adding to it throughout your weekend, and only edit it on Sunday). That’s why I wanted to start this on Thursday. I’d like to see what you came up with by SUNDAY every week. Or, if you’re too shy to share, simply post a comment here telling me that you did the exercise and how it went.
Today, I’m writing a few paragraphs in my novel about a ferris wheel. So, I thought I’d make the first writing photo prompt one of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where there’s a lovely ferris wheel on the beach.
Look at it carefully, and then use the photo to get you started writing. If you don’t feel inspired by it, try looking out your window. Don’t feel obliged to use my photo prompt. Do whatever it takes during your writing session to get something down on paper or on your computer.
I’m looking forward to hearing about how it goes in the comments below, and receiving LINKS here to your writing on your blogs!
Have fun with it!
Do not ‘Think’ you have a book inside of you.
Go from ‘Think’ to ‘Do!’ by scribbling or typing some of it down -at least 1,000 words of it- without editing it as you go.
Do it today. Do not tear up what you’ve done, or allow yourself to listen to the voices telling you the premise is silly and that everyone’s going to hate your book. Wake up early and do the same thing tomorrow, and the next day. Then, keep going.
There is a book inside everyone.
I’m thrilled to announce that Canadian publisher Morning Rain Publishing has acquired my novel, ‘Strangely, Incredibly Good,’ for publication.
It has been a long, winding journey to my first novel, and I’m so excited that 14 months of imagining, writing & rewriting has resulted in a publishing deal with a fantastic publishing house.
I hope you wonderful regular readers will follow right along with me, right to the book launch (hopefully in early June 2014 in ebook, and a few months later in print).
Here is Morning Rain Publishing’s official announcement:
5.0 out of 5 stars
A self-contained trilogy of insight in microcosm and macro-wisdom January 16, 2014
By Carl J Dubois
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
The concept of “Three Spaces” is more genius than appears at first glance. Public Space and Personal Space are prelude and context for Cyberspace, and they set up beautifully the expression of the mixed emotions inspired by the new connectivity we find ourselves navigating in this changing world.
“Dances With My Daughter,” in the Personal Space section, reveals — perhaps more than anywhere else — the poet, the woman, the mother, the wife, the person — the author and thinker coming to terms with all of life’s demands, and the juggling act required by them, but mostly the liver of life who knows where the real stuff resides, and why we juggle.
It is instructive, accessible reflection from someone who finds the time to observe in a briefly detached way before rushing back into all of life’s entanglements, commitments and momentum. So wonderful too how often it feels communal, as if she is expressing what we feel but struggle to say.
Open it to any page and enjoy the simple wisdom and honest revelations of self from a soul whose writing feels like her balancing act — beauty found in the spaces between all of our appointments, and like gifts rather than some obligation we have to read it so we can move on to the next thing on our list. You will want to keep it close by, to see what gifts it reveals next time.
-In edits this month and next for my novel Strangely, Incredibly Good (more news on that from my new publisher next week!)
-Negotiating sale of poem ‘The Day You Looked Me In The Eyes’ (Three Spaces) to Oxford U. Press! It will be used for a teacher’s resource guide to teach their UK syllabus; anticipated sales are 500 over 3 years. I’ve worked with Oxford University Press a few times and am so impressed with them.
-Preparing to read from The Groovy Granny and teach Haiku and freestyle poetry to Gr. 3’s at a local school (early February 2014)
-Preparing to speak at Queen’s Media and Journalism Conference March 8-9 2014 – thrilled to be invited back!
Can’t wait to share more about my upcoming novel with all of you with a post from my new publisher – NEXT WEEK! :)
I love waking up to surprises. Some of my favourites: Snow on the ground. My daughter leaving a crayoned card at my bedside table. Hubby and her made breakfast in bed. AND FIVE STAR REVIEWS LIKE THIS ONE!
Thanks to author Lisa Justus for such a well-written review that will hopefully make more people want to read this story.
You can read Lisa’s review here and follow her links to buy the book on Amazon. It’s also available on the Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Sony reader and at Smashwords in epub format.
My brother in law passed away last week from a rare, fast-growing form of cancer. I mourned, and I wrote sad poetry, and I supported my husband who flew to BC to support his family, and I tried to hold myself together for our 8-year-old.
And then I just said screw it, and spent an entire day on Twitter.
Now, because I want my BIL to look down on me and go, ‘Yah, you really seized the day!’ in a proud and not sarcastic manner, let me elaborate. I spent the day on Twitter as an experiment.
I want to learn to use this amazing tool to reach out in a world that, more and more, is turning inward. I mean, the Oxford word of the year is Selfie. What does that say about us? We have more resources for connecting with others than ever before, but lately, it feels like we are more disconnected from one another than ever before. It’s easy to ignore a cell phone call, a text, a tweet, a FB post. Gone are the days when the phone rang loudly and we ran to grab it, then chatted for an hour with our best friend.
Life is fragile, as the death of two dear friends in January and now the death of my BIL have taught me. I want to meet people with like minds, and like perspectives on the world. I also want to meet my opposites. That’s the stuff that makes this fragile life interesting.
So, when I returned to tweeting more regularly after, quite honestly, having had my Facebook feed and blog just spurt out poetry and photography links for many years, I was pleased when I gained over 40 followers in a day.
The fact that one follower kept tweeting #MentionSomeoneBeautiful to me along with 1,000 other women he’d mentioned on his feed is besides the point. I also tried to disregard that one of my new followers calls himself a jackass, eats fire, and drinks milk through a tube that he’d stuck up his throat and out his nose. Hey. We all have our quirks!
I came away with quite a few observations from this experiment. If they can help even one new Tweeter or long-time frustrated Tweeter, I’ll not have wasted an entire day on Twitter, so I must share them.
Go for the Gentle Clap; Be Surprised By the Standing Ovation. Don’t expect a retweet, and above all don’t try to make it happen. Do not try to be funny or clever. Just be yourself and have fun on there. Besides, few of us give or receive Retweets anymore. That’s so 2008. People click one button, to Favorite. Faster. Easier. More like a gentle clap, rather than a standing ovation.
Find Your Own Voice. Some people do retweet, all the time. These are accounts that retweet lots of interesting, or maybe not so interesting, material, or anything a celebrity says, but they don’t have much to say themselves. I’d suggest that if you decide to Tweet, have something to teach people or to entertain your followers, or to enliven or enrich their lives every day. Or, at the very least have a dirty joke or two up your sleeve. Sex gets retweets, and often, mentions, which means you strike up conversations with other people, and there are lots of laughs. I can’t go there because I’m a respected professional writer, or I’m trying to be, anyway, but check out my character @BadAssGrandma :)
Find Your Time to Tweet. The people who follow you all have schedules and routines they follow. Figure out what those are, so that your tweet gets the most exposure. If you tweet at 5:03 a.m., you may get some writers, or someone’s cat sleeping on the keyboard. Try to tweet at the same time every day, or, every few hours. Find the hour that works for you but make it during those hours when people are looking for something to do other than what they’re supposed to be doing (work hours, 9-5, is a good start).
Have Fun. Don’t take yourself or Twitter too seriously. In 10 years there will be some other social network type invention – probably involving Holograms and dancing penguins and blinking our Favorites with our eyes. We’ll all try to be Super Stars at that again, while our Twitter feeds lie dormant, but still displaying those horrid Tweets of Twitter Past.
Don’t Forget Your Ruby Slippers. Spend the bulk of your time trying to be the Super Star in your real life, giving to the people who love you and have your back. I’m not saying you can’t make genuine online friends on Twitter. I’m saying don’t forget about the people who love you back home. Twitter is Oz. Always bring your ruby slippers when you log on so you can get back home.
If you’re Tweeting to make money, please disregard these observations. I just tweet for fun, and for the applause, applause, applause. Excuse me, I have the urge to go take a Selfie.
Still have to work on my sarcasm…never been good at it. Another reason I’ll never be a Super Star on Twitter!
I’m a mother to an 8-year-old girl and I’m really concerned about what the world is telling her. (I have no son, but I know they’re also faced with mixed messages and poor role models on a daily basis.)
My little girl wakes up wanting to shine. She wants the world to see her beautiful spirit and for others to shine along with her. Crass advertising and TV have not yet spoiled her from just being her unique self. She takes her teddy bear to school for PJ day, and isn’t yet afraid of being laughed at for being different.
Sadly, I know that might change. It’s part of growing up, and I’ll try to deal with it. I’ll tell her it’s okay to be herself, and encourage her to try things, all kinds of things, that build self-confidence.
But the world for little girls has changed in my lifetime. Almost everywhere, every day, media targets her, overtly telling her that she must change who she is. She must present herself to the world differently than how she feels inside. The real, natural her isn’t right; isn’t good enough.
My girl likes cats and bugs, and teddy bears and fairies, and unicorns. Yes, she also likes pop music and videos, which I scrutinize before letting her listen to and watch. She likes texting her cousins on my phone and using the Apps I approve on my iPad. She likes doing ‘cool new things’ – and that’s where confusion enters her young mind.
I can only guard her so much. I must give her space to grow and discover things on her own. So, I let her play a fashion App that covertly tells her that girls are more popular (and richer in this game!) if they wear knee-high boots and leather corsets. At first I thought it was harmless, like playing paper dolls, right? I momentarily forgot that fantasy and cartoons still deliver a real message to a real kid.
I let her ‘buy in’ (we paid for that App!) to the ‘image is everything’ mindset. Then she was confused even further weeks later, when she saw a young celebrity on a magazine cover at the grocery store. This celebrity is a person my daughter thinks she’s supposed to admire, but in the photo, she was grinding her almost naked bum against a man’s crotch. ‘Why did she do that, Mommy?’
What do I say? “Sex sells, honey, sex sells.” No. But I tried hard to explain, using the words “attention” and “fame-seeking.” She was silent the whole drive home.
I don’t allow her to watch music videos (ok, maybe Alvin and the Chipmunks) but I see that same celebrity singing her latest hit, swinging naked on a wrecking ball while sensually licking a sledgehammer.
The song is beautiful. Why can’t the artist rely on her voice to sell it? Sadly, she doesn’t. And despite my no-videos rule, my daughter will likely see it since several of her friends have iPods. I know she’ll ask me, “Why did she do that, Mommy?” Again, what do I say?
She’s in a world that tells little girls to sing half-naked on stage, and to wear lacy bustiers and panties saying, “Call Me.” Wait a second… I was 12 when I saw Madonna sing, ‘Like A Virgin,’ but never once thought I had to wear fishnet stockings and a tin bra to get a man’s attention. (Ok, I did think it’d be a pretty cool Halloween costume).
But my concerns, and those I’ve heard from many mothers, are justified.
Instead of tweeting and commenting our rage about all this, parents should focus that time and energy on family life. We must keep an honest, open dialogue with our children, loving and respecting them for who they are; making them believe they’re already good enough as themselves.
We can’t stop the pop culture machine. Media will always try to teach girls to buy more stuff to be, ironically, less than they are, to grab attention. But if we constantly remind our individual girls that simply being who they are will make them stand out, they’ll grow up just fine.
Of course, they’ll still want an extravagant gown for their wedding day—you simply can’t un-program years of Say Yes To the Dress—but underneath it, they’ll be happy and confident in their own skin.
Here’s to the journey!
Originally posted on Chick Lit Goddess:
About author, Heather Grace Stewart: Heather Grace Stewart is a Canadian magazine writer, author, and poet. Her first poem was published in her school newsletter when she was five, and she’s been hooked on writing ever since. Heather’s debut novel, Strangely, Incredibly Good, will be released by Morning Rain Publishing on June 5, 2014. Heather’s screenplay The Friends I’ve Never Met is her bestselling Kindle book to date, reaching #28 in Action & Adventure in Women’s Fiction in November 2013. Her third poetry collection, Carry On Dancing (Winter Goose Publishing, March 2012) charted on print and Kindle bestseller lists in Poetry and Canadian Poetry in Canada, the US, and the UK. Heather is also the author of the Kindle bestselling poetry collections Leap and Where the Butterflies Go, two non-fiction books for youth, and a book of children’s poetry,The Groovy Granny. Born…
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