Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sometimes, I get it right

My cousin Amanda posted this beautiful photo essay the other day on her blog, pondering how one knows when one is a good parent, and concluding, through her daughter's actions, that she must be doing something right.

I've often considered the same question in different contexts: how do I know whther or not I'm a good writer? For me, it's not about the number of books I sell, the awards I win, or even the great reviews. The real proof, for me, is in hearing about the positive impact my writing has had on readers. I've heard from girls who found the strength to end abusive relationships after reading Painting Caitlyn . I've heard from grown women who say they sobbed all the way through, because they recognized so much of their own history in the novel. Once, I even heard from a boy who had purchased the book for his sister, because he feared for her safety. Those are the stories that tell me I've touched someone's life. That's what tells me I've done a good job.

And today, I had one of those teacher moments (or maybe, it was a human being moment?). A student I once taught knocked unexpectedly on my door. She's almost seventeen now, and, through family circumstances that were completely beyond her control, living on her own. This kid - because yes, from where I sit, she is still a kid - has been through more personal tragedy and betrayal than anyone should ever experience, at any age. Enough *crap* to send any adult over the edge. I don't know if I can say she's thriving, but she's coping. She's still in school. She's drug-free. She's volunteering. And she's hoping to go to university. She's on her way to thriving.

And she stopped by to thank me for what seemed to me to be some very small things I contributed to her life. The thing is, to her, they weren't small. They mattered. They made a difference in her life. And she makes a difference in the world. Imagine the difference I can make now by putting in a conscious, consistent effort!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


The town, that is. Here in Canada, we're having Victoria Day Weekend - the first long weekend of the summer season.

Traditionally, it's the weekend when we can finally plant our gardens without fear of frost, but many people also use it as a chance to get away. I have lots of fond memories of this weekend, including a trip to the beach with my friends during my senior year, a weekend at the cottage with the family of my first serious boyfriend, and one weekend where I was double-booked, spending time both at one friend's cottage, and on another's boat.

Now, as an adult, I have chosen to live in "cottage country", and I see the holiday weekend in a whole new way. Last night, as the sun began to set, the main intersection in town (still, blessedly, a traffic-light free four-way stop) had more teens than usual standing on the corner. The cars driving by had canoes and kayaks on top, or boat trailers behind them. Ice cream signs appeared in front of the businesses in town, and many stayed open late for what will now be their "summer hours". Lights came on in the cottages around my home, the scent of lilacs mingled with phlox and lily-of-the-valley and BBQ'd steak, and people came outside, tolerant of the first mosquitoes, because suddenly, it feels like summer, and the town is alive.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Okay - I admit it. I go one step beyond Googling myself. I get Google alerts to tell me when someone has mentioned one of my books (or a found cat....)on the internet. Mostly, it's vanity, to see where I show up. Officially, though, it's so I don't miss out on a favorable review.

Last week Painting Caitlyn was mentioned in a blog

The author was discussing titles, and what a turn-off bad ones can be, and said:

For example, I was looking on Amazon the other day and came across a young adult book titled, Painting Caitlyn. Did I want to click on this book and read more about it? Absolutely not. I don't want to paint Caitlyn or even learn how to.

Although her opening question "How do authors come up with titles" was probably rhetorical, I couldn't resist replying. Click on the links to see thread.