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My Halloween Treat for You

Sunday, October 31, 2004
I have uncovered some more treats during a leisurely surf through my Blogmarks at Blog Explosion. I've got a two more recommendations to pass along to you in the Mommy Blogs category: Mommy Matters and Ramblings of a SAHM. Check 'em out in between doorbell rings while you're on trick-or-treat duty tonight.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:39 PM

Entrepreneurial Kid Update

Saturday, October 30, 2004
Two reasons why I'm hiring my seven-year-old to be my new business manager.
1. He managed to collect more than the agreed upon price from the neighbours for the leaf-raking job ($5 rather than $3).
2. He was able to collect payment in full before he was finished doing the job.

I've been been doing this all wrong.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:18 PM

Writing and Life

Ericka Lutz, one of the other contributors to Mamasink.com, recently posted a link to an article on writing by Hubert Selby Jr., author of Final Exit. The entire article makes for a powerful read, but I wanted to draw your attention to one quote in particular, when Selby talks about the powerful link between writing and life itself:

Writing, like any art, is a continuing process of discovering the infinite possibilities of Life. A blank piece of paper can be terrifying. It can also be exciting when ideas, images and sounds come together and sing off the page. For me there is no other experience like it. When I just touch the keyboard a part of me comes to life that at one time I did not know existed.

That's what writing is like for me -- how I feel when I finish the final words of a book manuscript and realize that I have created something that didn't exist before I started writing.

Some authors are able to be quite dispassionate about their books, treating them like widgets that are being sent off to the widget store.

I'm not able to do that. I put heart and soul into every aspect of the book development process, from "conception" through "birth" and throughout the entire life cycle of that book. My books are more than just books to me -- they are extensions of myself, almost like children.

| posted by Ann D @ 12:15 AM

Move Over, Bill Gates

Friday, October 29, 2004
Kid number four clearly has a future as an entrepreneur. Last week, he was handing out photocopies of a picture of himself to the kids in his class. ("They wanted one," he explained, shrugging, when I asked.) Today, it was promotional bookmarks for my book Before You Were Born. (I guess I should be happy he didn't charge me a commission.) And a neighbour just called to let me know he'd been at her door offering to rake her leaves for $3. (She took him up on the offer because it was a pretty good deal.) A few weeks ago, I gave him a basket of tomatoes and asked him to give some to the neighbors because we had too many. I caught him selling them to the neighbors instead. What a kid!

| posted by Ann D @ 8:32 PM

On Integrity and Hard Choices

I'm having a hard time sleeping tonight because I have a lot on my mind. I've been thinking a lot about integrity and truly living by our principles, even if there's a cost attached to standing up for what we believe in.

This comes to mind for two reasons: I did a presentation in Windsor earlier in the week about the importance of having a fully functioning parenting compass that guides your parenting decisions. That way, you aren't flip-flopping all over the place, confusing yourself and your kids. That same night, Barbara Coloroso talked about raising kids who are well equipped to make ethical choices. And I've also been doing some reading about making hard choices and living with the consequences of those choices because I've had to make a difficult decision in my own life recently.

I thought I'd share a few of the quotes that I uncovered this evening in case you're grappling with hard choices, too:

The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.
- General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Necessity may well be called the mother of invention -- but calamity is the test of integrity.
- Samuel Richardson

On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.
- Thomas Jefferson

You can find other quotations by visiting Justin Tyme's web site.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:27 AM

Find Work That You Love

Thursday, October 28, 2004
I have been doing a lot of thinking today about the importance of finding work that you love. Here's what the poet, philosopher, and artist Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) had to say about the subject in his book The Prophet:

What is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching....
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.

Those are words to live by, if you ask me....

| posted by Ann D @ 9:11 PM

Lunar Eclipse

Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Neil just set up his telescope in the driveway to view the lunar eclipse. I went outside to check out the view for myself. The action's just starting, so if you want to see something that won't happen again until 2007 (I hope I picked that fact up right at dinnertime!), back away from the computer and head outdoors. It's very cool.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:43 PM

Postcard from Windsor

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Just a quick postcard from Windsor, where I've been in town to do a fundraiser on behalf of the Teen Health Centre. I had the privilege of sharing the stage with the truly inspiring Barbara Coloroso, who talked about bullying, her forthcoming book on raising ethical kids, and a smorgasbord of other important parenting topics. During my hour on stage, I talked about the seven secrets of calm and confident parents. We had a huge turnout for the event, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves tremendously.

I also managed to squeeze in lunch with Shelley, who looked anything but Xhausted, despite her crazy-busy week. In fact, she looked pretty in pink! (She showed up wearing a pink jacket, a dark pink shirt, and carrying a striped pink purse.) She claims it was because she missed the key "pink stage" during her formative years, but I think it's actually a very sophisticated marketing technique designed to lull would-be book buyers into forking over the cash for a copy of Generation Xhausted....

I also got to meet Kim at the Teen Health Centre event. Kim came up to me and told me that she was a faithful reader of my blog which, of course, totally made my day. (Thank you, Kim!)

And, tomorrow morning, I'll be having breakfast with my writer buddy Catherine before making the six hour drive back to Peterborough.

I'd better remember to charge my iPod so that I'll have my favorite tunes ready for the ride. I am totally loving my new Joni Mitchell CD (Dreamland). I think I listened to "Free Man in Paris" a half-dozen times on the way up here. I was in that kind of mood. Of course, I'm also still totally loving the new Sarah Harmer album (All of Our Names), pretty any of Sarah McLachlan's stuff (especially on days when I'm feeling blue/frustrated), and a lot of Alanis Morisette songs (a mix of her "angry young woman" stuff plus her more spiritual/grateful stuff).

I've created this Playlist that I call "Canuck Chicks in a Mellow Mood." The title is inspired by my book Canuck Chicks and Maple Leaf Mamas. It contains a lot of music that I listen to when I'm feeling melancholy, sad, or reflective. The most played tracks in the Playlist are "Fallen," "Stupid," and "Perfect Girl" by Sarah McLachlan; "Basement Apartment" and "Things to Forget" by Sarah Harmer; "Thank U" by Alanis Morisette; and "Free Man in Paris" by Joni Mitchell.

| posted by Ann D @ 3:40 PM

Blog Explosion!

Sunday, October 24, 2004
While surfing some member sites over at Blog Explosion, I came across a bunch of truly fabulous blogs, including American Mom, Mimilou, Suburban Bliss, This Woman's Work, Very Mom, Uncommon Misconception, and The New Jan Brady.

I've added all of these links to the relevant categories of my sidebar so that they'll be easy to find on your next visit.

(You are coming back, aren't you?) :-)

| posted by Ann D @ 3:19 PM

My Political Statement on Coffee

I picked up this cute little widget while surfing this afternoon:

If you want one of your own, you can scoop one up from The Muttering Muse, with the artist's blessing.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:12 AM

Smiling about Gigglefactory

Saturday, October 23, 2004
I have some very exciting news -- news that I am finally allowed to spill the beans about. I'm going to be working with Decode Entertainment a hugely successful television production and interactive media company to help develop a humor website for preschoolers and their parents. The website will be tied to the launch of Gigglefactory, a brand new show that the company will be bringing to market in a number of different countries, including Canada. I'll be responsible for the parent portion of the site. This is the company responsible for Freaky Stories, Angela Anaconda, Radio Free Roscoe, and other highly innovative shows for kids and teens. Stay tuned for details!

| posted by Ann D @ 4:00 PM

Shockingly Good Fun

Friday, October 22, 2004
I hit the big city for an evening of shockingly good fun with Mother Shock author Andi Buchanan. The thing you need to know about Andi is that she is every bit as nice, real, and down-to-earth as she comes across in her book. This is the kind of person you want to have coffee with, which is why I suggested that we do just that. And when I found out that she had never been to a Tim Horton's in her entire life, well, I decided that it was my patriotic duty to introduce her to this Canadian cultural establishment. (It was either that or take her to the Canadian Tire store near her hotel, and that didn't sound nearly as fun.) Anyway, the first Tim Horton's we tried to go to was closed for a reno, and I wasn't about to take Andi to a Tim Horton's trailer, so we had to venture a little further afield. I got us lost, but we eventually found another Tim Horton's another 10 minutes away. Then I got us lost again on the way back. Twice. I'm sure Andi felt really good about being in the hands of such a competent city guide. But in between all the wrong turns we had a fabulous conversation about motherhood, book publishing, etc. She is an amazing and inspiring woman and I can't wait to find an excuse to have coffee with her again. Andi, you rock!

| posted by Ann D @ 12:28 PM

Lost: One Pair of Rose-Colored Maternity Glasses

Thursday, October 21, 2004
I was just reading the discussion about the emotions surrounding pregnancy after infertility over at a little pregnant.

Having walked this path myself, I can tell you that there's definitely a loss of innocence once you've had trouble conceiving or experienced miscarriage or stillbirth. You know longer take for granted that

earnest babymaking efforts = positive pregnancy test = perfect pregnancy = healthy baby

As much as you'd like to be able to slip on a pair of rose-colored maternity glasses, your innocence was lost along with the baby who was miscarried or stillborn, or during those heartbreaking months or years of infertility.

And if and when you do finally get a positive pregnancy test result, it's hardly surprising that your joy at being pregnant may be guarded at best, and that any pregnancy complication or setback can seem like evidence that Mother Nature likes nothing more than to take cruel and sadistic pleasure in your misery -- to dangle the possibility of a successful pregnancy in front of you and then threaten to steal it away from you again.

The 41 1/2 weeks that I was pregnant with my youngest child were the longest 41 1/2 weeks of my life. Sometimes I felt like I was in purgatory. And if I thought that the anxiety would end after he was born, I was sadly mistaken. I continued to be The Mother of All Headcases throughout much of his infancy, worrying about SIDS, choking, and other horrible possibilities. It's only been in recent years that I've been able to work through my grief about my stillbirth and to become a more relaxed and less anxious parent (although I don't think I'm going to be winning the "Most Relaxed Parent of The Year Award" anytime soon!)

| posted by Ann D @ 4:29 PM

Frame by Frame

I was just reading The Nutmeg News. The October 15th post reminded me about those moments in motherhood when you can literally feel your children growing up before your eyes. Sometimes I feel the same kind of sensation I get when I'm watching a movie and the camera pulls back and starts receeding in slow motion, except that in this case I feel my child's childhood slipping by frame by frame. It's a very poignant sensation. Do you ever experience that?

| posted by Ann D @ 1:19 PM

Blogging Withdrawal, Living Dolls, Old Friends, Dive-Bombing Butterflies

Wednesday, October 20, 2004
While I was travelling earlier in the week, I ended up staying in a hotel that was not exactly equipped with state of the art telephone equipment, something that led to an acute case of e-mail and blogging withdrawal. Of course, naturally that meant that every few hours I'd encounter a truly blogworthy situation -- Murphy's Law of Blogging, I presume?

(Now, I suppose I could have scribbled in my notebook and transcribed my pen-and-paper "blog" notes when I got home, but it wouldn't have been quite the same experience. So much of blogging is that desire to get your words online where other people can read them right away, isn't it?)

I was invited up to Bruce County for a few days to give two presentations on "Practical Parenting in the Real World" for the Children's Aid Society of Bruce County. A really cool group of high school students came out to the afternoon session. One of the students was toting along one of those dolls that's programmed to cry and otherwise demand attention in a surprisingly realistic manner in order to give teenagers a sneak preview of the demands of parenthood. It was the first time I'd ever encountered one of these dolls and I can tell you, this doll cried more often and more loudly during my session than any of the real babies in the audience! One of the other students told me that the doll had had her up four times in the night on Saturday night, so clearly they must change the batteries in this doll at regular intervals. (Either that, or they go for the batteries that just keep going and going. Trust me, you'd need 'em with this particular doll.) Anyway, it was fascinating to see how well designed this doll is and what a great job the student in question did in responding to her "baby's" cries -- deciphering whether it was the "cuddle me" cry, "the breastfeed me" cry, and so on. Totally fascinating stuff!

I also had the opportunity to meet Cheryl -- a reporter from local radio station CKNX (something that gave me the opportunity to put a face to the friendly voice that has interviewed me over the years) -- and to reconnect with Zanda, an old friend that I haven't seen for well over a decade. She has two more children and I think I've had at least one more since the last time we were in touch. She made my day by showing up totally unannounced at my presentation. Thanks, Zanda. And, Zanda, if you're reading this, I hope you will remember to e-mail me so that I'll actually have your e-mail address!

I'm getting asked to do more and more of these types of speaking engagements. I'm really finding them enjoyable. I love the fact that I get to meet with parents and swap ideas about parenting -- something that I find very fun and inspiring. Regular readers of this blog may recall that I recently spoke at Baby Fair in Vancouver. Last night, I got an e-mail from CANSPEAK, the speaker's bureau that booked this particular speaking engagement on my behalf. They told me that the folks at Baby Fair had e-mailed them to say how happy them were with my participation in their event. Here's what they had to say:

"Ann Douglas was the ideal keynote speaker for Vancouver's Baby Fair 2004. Our attendees found her to be highly professional, while at the same time warm and engaging. Ann's commitment to Baby Fair was evident in the additional exposure she helped to generate through numerous public appearances and promotion on her website. She was generous with her time and worked with management to help make Baby Fair a success. We enjoyed working with Ann and highly recommend her as an informative and entertaining guest speaker."
- Tracey Anderson, Producer, Baby Fair

The Baby Fair folks were terrific to work with, so it meant a lot to get such positive feedback from them. Who knows? Maybe I'll be able to develop speaking into a successful offshoot to my day job as an author. Of course, I'm both thrilled and a little overwhelmed to know that I'll be sharing the stage with Barbara Coloroso in Windsor on Tuesday night. I guess you can't grow in your career without those weird little butterflies dive-bombing in your stomach, right? If everything seems comfortable and easy, it means you're just coasting along on Easy Street and that you've stopped pushing yourself professionally. Well, at least that's my theory.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:58 AM

Blog Reno Night

Friday, October 15, 2004
It's blog reno night here at The Mother of All Blogs. That can only mean one thing: I'm supposed to be writing something.

Hope you enjoy the new retro photos I've uploaded for your enjoyment.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:11 PM

Regrets, I Have A Few....

Members of the media might do well to hire a few more editors now that Craig Silverman is monitoring their every move. Silverman has launched Regret the Error to track "corrections, retractions, clarifications, and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in North American media." The blog is smart, savvy, and right on the mark, especially when Silverman zeroes in on newspaper corrections policies.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:02 PM

Britney Could Use This Book

I just received a nice surprise in the mail -- a copy of Intimate Weddings by Christina Friedrichsen.

Now before you get the idea that I'm trying to follow in Britney's shoes by planning a post-wedding party (the post-wedding party, in my case, being a mere 18 years after the fact!), let me explain. Christina Friedrichsen sent me a copy of her book because I mentored her back when she was first developing her book proposal and again when she was developing a marketing plan for her book, and she wanted to thank me for my help. (Actually, when I flipped open the book, I noticed that she thanked me in a very public way, acknowledging my help in the acknowledgments of the book. How cool is that?)

Anyway, I spent some time reading the book last night and thought I'd post a mini-review of it to help spread the word about Christina's book. It's really well done and I'm very proud of her for doing such a great job with her first book. (Christina, have you cracked open the champagne yet? I hope I remembered to tell you that some serious celebrations are in order when your first book hits the bookstore shelves. There are few things as exciting in life as having a book published. In fact, I can only think of one other thing: having a baby. Books and babies, books and babies -- my two favourite subjects. But I digress.)

Anyway, here's my take on Christina's book.

Intimate Weddings is beautifully designed, has been painstakingly researched, and is written with Christina's usual style and elegance. The book explains the rationale for having a small wedding, how to go about planning your wedding, setting a budget, creating an intimate ceremony, organizing a reception, planning indoor vs. outdoor receptions, choosing a theme, planning your honeymoon, second weddings, and preserving your wedding memories. I loved the fact that Christina challenges couples to question wedding traditions that may or may not work for them as they plan an intimate and memorable wedding: e.g. do you really want a receiving line?

Anyone who has read my books knows that I am the Appendices Queen, and Christina certainly made me proud with the breadth and quality of the resources she shared with her readers. If you want to plan a simple but tasteful wedding, the resource directory at the back of this book will be invaluable to you in your research.

Christina, you have done a fabulous job with your book. Congratulations!

| posted by Ann D @ 11:52 AM

Don't Get Spooked by Halloween!

Thursday, October 14, 2004
If you tend to get spooked by Halloween (after all, there's a lot of pressure to pull off the perfect costume, to give out the best treats, and to somehow have dinner on the table, too!), you can stop freaking out right now. John Wiley and Sons Canada (the publisher of my Mother of all Books series) has just sent out a press release that contains all the Halloween tips that I've managed to accumulate during my 16+ years in the mothering trenches. (Okay, true confession time: I cribbed a few Halloween cheat notes from other moms who were willing to share!) Anyway, the Halloween press release contains safety tips, Halloween party planning ideas, tips on making super-simple Halloween costumes (the only kind your resident blogger is capable of cobbling together), links to the best Halloween websites, and so on.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:30 PM

Good News from All Fronts

My editor just called to tell me that a bunch of my "Mother of All" books have been approved as titles under the Indigo Trusted Health Advisor program. Needless to say I'm pretty thrilled that leading Canadian health authorities have chosen to endorse my books. This has definitely made my day!

I've also got some other exciting news. The folks at Invest in Kids have invited me to serve as a member of their Expert Advisory Group for a new parenting initiative they have in the works. I have a huge amount of respect for the excellent work they do, so I am thrilled and honoured to be working with them.

Finally, I had a call yesterday from one of my U.S. editors about another foreign rights deal. It's too soon to say anything, but it's for a country I've never been in before (either physically or book-wise!), so that's very cool and exciting. Stay tuned for details....

| posted by Ann D @ 12:06 PM

Writing The Book You Are Meant to Write

Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Just came across an interesting quote from bestselling chicklit novelist Jennifer Crusie on writing the book you were meant to write. She was speaking with The Writer magazine. She said:

"The best advice anybody ever gave [me] is to write the book you want to read but can't find, because that's your story. You're the only person who was born at the time you were, to the parents that you were, who had the experiences that you had. You're the only person who's equipped to write your story, so if you don't write it, nobody will."

So there you have it: an inspiring thought to get you started on your writing day.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:53 AM

Author Links

I've just added a list of some of my favourite links for authors to the sidebar on the side of my blog. (See "Author, Author.")

| posted by Ann D @ 9:17 AM

How to Procrastinate

Monday, October 11, 2004
If you're a writer and you should be writing, but you find yourself doing anything but, you owe it to yourself to check out this hilarious article on The Art of Creative Aversion. I stumbled across a link to it over at Weirdwriter's blog.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:45 PM

Blog Review: The Nutmeg News

Saturday, October 09, 2004
I've just discovered The Nutmeg News -- a blog featuring "dispatches from life with the world's cutest, smartest baby" from a business journalist mama. I really like the blog because the writer, Carrie, documents her daily struggles: her efforts to convince her boss to let her work less-than-full-time hours; her anxiety about leaving her baby with someone other than family members for the very first time; etc. It's very real and very readable -- an excellent combination in a mama blog! Check it out....

| posted by Ann D @ 3:46 PM

How Do Friends Know?

How do friends instinctively know when you could benefit from some heavy-duty pampering?

Yesterday, I was having The Mother of All Bad Days when the postman unexpectedly delivered two gifts from friends. One writer-friend sent me some chocolate to thank me for providing her with some contract advice recently (totally unnecessary because I'm always happy to help my writer buddies); and a girlfriend in another city sent me a bunch of goodies from Lush Canada. (She knows I'm a card-carrying Lush-a-holic.)

And the night before, my friend Lisa showed up with a CD full of wonderfully nurturing songs about friendship.

Am I well cared for or what?

| posted by Ann D @ 3:46 PM

No Longer Living in October's Shadow

Thursday, October 07, 2004
Eight years ago today, I went for an ultrasound that changed my life forever. My midwife was unable to detect my baby's heartbeat during a routine prenatal checkup. Within a few hours, I found myself sitting in an ultrasound room at the local hospital, trying to make sense of what the radiologist was trying to tell me: something had gone terribly wrong with my pregnancy, and my baby had died. A day-and-a-half later, I gave birth to a tiny baby girl who was perfect in every way, except for the fact that an umbilical cord knot had cut off her life so cruelly at just 26 weeks gestation.

My daughter's stillbirth totally shattered my faith in the world. The world might has well have started spinning in the opposite direction. Nothing in my world made sense anymore. How could a baby die before she was even born? -- especially a baby who was cared for and nurtured in the womb by a mother who loved her and was eagerly anticipating her birth?

My grief was overwhelming. Sure, I found ways to channel it in productive ways -- writing about perinatal bereavement and helping to found a local organization to support moms who had experienced the death of a baby -- but I still couldn't stand to hear the cry of a newborn baby or to listen to sad music. And each time the leaves started to change colour and the cooler weather arrived, I felt a heavy sadness sweep over me again as I marked yet another year without my baby.

It wasn't until my mother died last year and I was forced to deal with my grief about her death that I realized that I was carrying around a lot of unresolved grief about my baby's death -- that even though I had cried for months when my baby was stillborn, I hadn't allowed myself to fully acknowledge how traumatic and painful her stillbirth had been. Facing those emotions head-on allowed me to finally make peace with the events of that October day eight years ago.

I am no longer living in October's shadow.

| posted by Ann D @ 7:32 PM

Desperate Housewives

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
A friend suggested that I tune into Desperate Housewives last night. I'm glad I did. I totally loved the show. It paints a wonderfully dark portrait of life in suburbia.

Classic moments from this first episode?

  • When Bree "accidentally" puts onions in her husband's salad after he asks for a divorce. (He's deathly allergic to them.)

  • When Lynette is forced to wade into a swimming pool in her dress and high heels at a neighbour's wake in order to pull out her unruly children. (At least the kids had the foresight to bring their bathing suits. It could have been worse!)

  • When Susan almost burns Edie's house down after accidentally setting one of Edie's bras on fire. (Hey, accidents happen.)

  • Given the number of calamities that occurred in the pilot episode, I think the show's creators could very well have called the show "Dangerous Housewives!"

    I'm officially hooked and will be tuning in next week. How about you?

    | posted by Ann D @ 10:25 AM

    Riding the Happy Wave

    Tuesday, October 05, 2004
    Thought I'd take a moment to list the reasons why I'm riding the happy wave today:

    1. The buffet unit for my office arrived yesterday and it has managed to swallow up a huge amount of office clutter. I feel positively zen-like and semi-organized. (Just don't look at the four file boxes of junk tucked in the corner of my office. I'm going to have to go through them and find a home for them soon -- just not yet.)

    2. I drove past my friend Laura yesterday and decided to pull over and give her a drive-by hug. I'm sure I looked like a maniac pulling off this manoeuvre on a busy street, but it was totally worth it. It put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

    3. I have a wonderful new assistant. She's working alongside my wonderful old assistant (old as in "been with me for a while," not old as in "over the hill"). My old assistant just got a fabulous new full-time job, so she's going to be working with me on a part-time basis. So, for once, I feel like I've got enough people helping me. (For a while there, I felt like I was drowning in a sea of administrivia, and, trust me, it was not a pretty scene.)

    4. I have tickets for an upcoming Sarah Harmer concert. I adore Sarah Harmer! If you check out my iPod, you will see that I pretty much alternate between playing Sarah Harmer and Sarah McLachlan these days. So I am TOTALLY PUMPED about getting to see Sarah Harmer. And, best of all, she's coming to the town where I live. Woo hoo!!!

    5. I am working on really cool assignments for Cottage Life and Every Baby magazine. I haven't done a lot of writing lately, so it feels great to be able to roll up my sleeves and dive into a couple of nice, juicy magazine assignments again. I am remembering how much I love to research and write -- all the more reason to continue to delegate my bookkeeping and other administrative stuff to my lovely and capable assistants!

    | posted by Ann D @ 5:36 PM

    "We're calling him Molson."

    Sunday, October 03, 2004
    This article about the branding of babies via baby names got me wondering how this phenomenon might play out in Canada. Do you really think we'll see a huge number of kids named Molson, Horton, or Sandy McTire, in honor of their parents' favorite Canadian brands? (Sandy McTire is, of course, the stately Scotsman who can be found on Canadian Tire money, Canada's other currency.) Can you think of any other scary kids' names we might see as a result of our obsession with brands?

    Now before anyone decides to write in to debate whether Molson is still a Canadian brand, let's all agree to play nice for the purpose of this exercise. :-) Deal?

    | posted by Ann D @ 7:19 PM

    Bullying Article in Today's Toronto Sun

    I am quoted in an article about bullying in today's Toronto Sun.

    If you read the article, you will see that I am quite passionate about this subject. This is because I was on the receiving end of a lot of bullying during my own growing up years, and because I have witnessed the effects of bullying on two of my kids.

    What I really hate is when adults fail to take bullying seriously, viewing it as some sort of childhood rite of passage. Bullying can make a child's life sheer hell. As the grownups in their lives, we owe it to them to do whatever we can to deal with the problem decisively. We can't afford to be wishy-washy when it comes to bullying. Our kids' physical and emotional well-being is at stake.

    | posted by Ann D @ 5:13 PM

    CAPPA Conference, The Author's Life

    Saturday, October 02, 2004
    Last night, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals (CAPPA) Canada conference. Imagine being in a room filled with people who are totally passionate about pregnancy, birth, babies, and parenthood. Well, let me tell you: this was the place. We were even in a womb-like setting -- the council chambers at Toronto's Metro Hall. (It's a rounded dome which, if you happen to have birth on the brain, kind of looks like the inside of a uterus!) The organizers started out with this amazing audio/visual montage of birth clips which just about brought me to tears before I had to give my presentation. (I had to do my labour breathing to hold it all together.)

    I gave a presentation entitled "Baby Boot Camp: Helping Parents Prepare for the Babymoon and the Early Weeks Postpartum." The group was extremely enthusiastic and I had the opportunity to chat with a lot of childbirth educators, doulas, and others who have read my books and who have had the opportunity to recommend them to their clients. It was a wonderful, inspiring evening that left me more convinced than ever that I am doing the work that I was put on the planet to do.

    Prior to the CAPPA conference, I had the pleasure of meeting my editor and the director of sales and marketing from Wiley Canada for high tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel. I have been working with these two women since The Mother of All Books series was born and I respect the two of them more than mere words can say. They aren't merely brilliant at their jobs and passionate about what they do. They also positively ooze integrity, kindness, and all the other immeasurable things that don't show up on royalty statements, but that can ultimately make or break the success of publishing relationships. It's great to have them on "The Mother of All Teams"! (Gosh, I'm in a sappy mood. I wonder if the Blogger people have a sap filter that cleans up posts like this. Or will they simply quietly transfer my account over to Sapster?)

    A note in my defence, lest you think I'm euphorically happy about the writing life each and every day of my life and/or high on caffeine: not every day is like this.

    As much as I love the writing life, there are many, many days when I, like many of my other author buddies, am tempted to list my laptop at eBay and switch to a low-stress profession -- e.g., air-traffic controller or heart surgeon.

    So what kinds of things drive us authors to distraction?

    Well, for one thing, there are those days when you show up to do an author event in a bookstore and no one in the store knows that you are coming, and consequently the staff have to scramble to try to find the handful of misshelved copies of your books. That's when the book event domino effect kicks in. If the staff didn't know you were coming, odds are their customers don't know that you're coming, and the event can only go downhill from there. At this point, you have a choice:

    • (A) go into miffed author mode and throw The Mother of All Hissy Fits

    • (B) Make the most of a very annoying situation.

    I generally opt for plan B. This involves nursing your slightly wounded ego while simultaneously helping customers to find books that they're really after (e.g., any book but your own!), directing them to the washroom, listening to them tell you about their grandchildren and/or their hobbies, and so on.

    I've yet to have an event that turned out to be a total flop because I am always determined to find a way to make some good come out of even the Author Event from Hell, even if that simply means ensuring that the staff in the store know a little bit more about me and my books than they did when I first arrived on the premises; that I make friendly small talk with the customers who happen to walk past my table of books; and/or that I learn something from the experience (even if it's just what NOT to do an event of that type the next time around). Hey, life's too short to have meltdowns over the small stuff, even if it would feel so good to act like a toddler right then and there. Or at least that's what I tell myself....

    | posted by Ann D @ 3:01 PM