Award nominations

Unfortunately, the way it works is that when there are urgent things needing doing for The Word Guild, my own writing gets sadly neglected – including this site. I've actually been working like mad on Write! Canada and on starting a new site for The Word Guild Awards.

But I was reminded last night that I ought to mention that I have been shortlisted for three awards. well, two stories. Both of them from Hot Apple Cider. "The Diamond Ring" is shortlisted for the General Readership article, along with three others. And both it and "My Letter to the Editor" are shortlisted for Inspirational/Devotional article:

Article—General Readership
Cynthia d'Entremont of Lakeview, N.S. for “An Unexpected Gift” (A Maritime Christmas: New Stories and Memories of the Season Anthology)
Angelina Fast-Vlaar of St. Catharines, Ont. for “It Was Then That I Carried You” (Hot Apple Cider Anthology)
N. J. Lindquist of Markham, Ont. for “The Diamond Ring” (Hot Apple Cider Anthology)
Colleen Taylor of Duval, Sask. for “Arlington Beach Camp and Conference Centre: a very special place” (Last Mountain Times)
Colleen Taylor of Duval, Sask. for “Newschool Arts: so much more than pottery” (Last Mountain Times)

N. J. Lindquist of Markham, Ont. for “My Letter to the Editor” (Hot Apple Cider Anthology)
N. J. Lindquist of Markham, Ont. for “The Diamond Ring” (Hot Apple Cider Anthology)
Rose McCormick Brandon of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. for “Discouraged” (Today's Pentecostal Evangel)

Of course, I edited Angie's story in Hot Apple Cider, so that's cool. :) I think a couple of other pieces from Hot Apple Cider are also up for awards.

And Colleen Taylor's article on Arlington Beach Camp and Conference Centre brings back memories. I was born in Regina and lived there for a number of years after I was married. (My husband is from Swift Current). We lived at Arlington Beach Camp the first summer after we were married, looking after the camp store and the grounds. Les also served as life guard. And the following summer we directed a camp for junior highs.A long time ago…

Check out the complete list of finalists for these awards, as well as the Best New Canadian Author Award finalists and the press release for the 2009 Leslie K. Tarr Award winner, Ray Wiseman.

The Word Guild Awards Gala on June 17th will be held at World Vision headquarters in Mississauga. It's open to the public. With Herbie Kuhn (the Air Canada voice of the Toronto Raptors) as emcee, it's guaranteed to be a great evening.

June 17, 2009: World Vision headquarters, 1 World Drive, Mississauga. For tickets call Jeanette Duncan at 519-886-4196.

A million little mosquitoes

Some days it feels as if I’m being eaten alive by a million little mosquitoes. I look at my to-do list of maybe 20 items, and I try to work through them. But at the end of the day, my list is always longer, instead of shorter! None of the items that have been added are usually that huge, but each one seems to take just a little bit of my blood out and leave me tired, frustrated, and wondering where I went wrong. Okay, that’s my explanation for not posting here recently.

And now, I will respond to a few questions I’ve been asked:

Dave asked about finding a Christian bookstore near Richmond Hill, Ontario.

The best online lists of Christian bookstores in Canada I’m aware of is that of Parasource Distribution. You can find it here:

Several people have asked me what I’m working on (as a writer, that is).

The short answer, not much. The longer answer, I’m actually trying to put my writing first. Hoping to write something each day. Hoping to make it a habit. But the reality is that until Write! Canada is history, I likely won’t get any writing done. My writing to do list includes trying to complete my edit of Princess Persnickety and figuring out what to do with it re publishing (find an agent who loves children’s fantasy, look for a publisher, etc.) I’m also trying to work on an adult contemporary novel called Transforming Jesse Owen Tucker which I started writing about 15 years ago, I think. One thing you can say for me is that I don’t give up on anything easily. It’s probably 1/3 written. I’m hoping to finish it this summer. I’m also getting ready to put a lot of my writing workshops into some form of book, ebook, audio, video, etc. over the summer.And then I have two mysteries, 2 non-fiction books, a memoir, a new teen novel, and a host of other things I’ve already begun. Sigh.

Where am I speaking?

Right now, I’m trying to figure out what I want to do in the fall and 2010, so I’m sort of “on hold.”

I did speak recently for a Unionville Women’s Group of 100 or so, and that went very well. My talk was based on my story “The Diamond Ring” in Hot Apple Cider. That story, by the way, is shortlisted for two awards in The Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Awards. My other story in Hot Apple Cider, “My Letter to the Editor,” is also shortlisted for an award. If you’re interested in supporting Canadian writers, do consider coming to the Awards Gala June 17th. It’s open to the public.

And of course, I’ll be at Write! Canada (I am the co-director). I’ll be teaching and facilitating, with 4 other people, the continuing class, “Everything You Need to Know about Publishing a Book in Canada.” I’ll also be teaching a workshop on writing fiction and moderating a panel on creating a platform. Yep, looks as though I’ll be busy.

Why do I  look different?

Because over the winter, I let my hair go au naturelle, and this is the result. I hated putting chemicals on my head and only started because it looked so bad when I started going grey in my 40’s (still had long hair and it came in in streaks). But now I am very happy to be “me.”

If you have any other questions, on any topic, feel free to ask here.

A fun memory from an early God Uses Ink Conference (before it was called Write! Canada)

In the fall of 1995, when Audrey Dorsch resigned as the editor of Faith Today and director of the God Uses Ink Conference, I was part of the planning committee.

Even though Faith Today was short-staffed and assistant editor Marianne Meed Ward knew she couldn’t handle the workload of both putting out the magazine and organizing the conference, we decided to go ahead and hold the 1996 conference. Larry Matthews, the editor of the Canadian Baptist, had been part of the committee, and agreed to be the conference director that year. But things were a bit rushed.

Back then, the conference didn’t actually start until 5:00 pm on Thursday. A few years earlier, we’d started having an early bird workshop for those who wanted to come earlier. We would charter a bus for an off-site trip to an interesting location, and then give people an hour or so to write something based on what they’d seen and heard. Then the organizer would judge the stories and we’d give prizes. I remember going on field trips to a mission in downtown Hamilton, the Hamilton Spectator, an historic church, and a book distributor’s warehouse.

Anyway, we decided we didn’t have time to organize a field trip for this year, so I volunteered to do something on-site (which was then Redeemer College in Ancaster.)

A brand new writer whose second novel had just been published had written to say she was interested in coming to the conference and could possibly teach a workshop. She added that she’d be willing to do whatever we wanted.

I phoned her and asked if she’d be willing to be interviewed at our “early-bird” workshop—with the goal of teaching people how to interview someone. Then I’d have the participants either write a profile on her based on the interview or an article on how to do a good interview. She said sure. I asked her if she could act a little. She said she was game to try.

Fast forward a few months to Redeemer College in Ancaster on a Thursday afternoon in June, at 2:00 pm.

ClassroomPicture a large, brightly-lit college classroom with the participants at desks. The only entrance to the room is a door on the wall to the right, about mid-way. I’m at the front of the room with a blackboard on the wall behind me. I’ve moved the podium to one side and set up two chairs at the front for the interview. About 25 or 30 people are present.

I begin by talking about some good habits for writers.

“Read a lot. Read articles and books on writing; great literature; popular work; and of course, read whatever you want to write. Always have a notebook with you so you can jot down any ideas you get. Be attentive. Eavesdrop on people’s conversation when you’re in malls or standing in line at Tim Horton’s. Notice things you’ll be able to use la—“

There’s a sharp knock at the door.

I walk over and open it. A woman is standing there. I ask if she’s come for the workshop and she says. “No, I was using the room earlier and I think I left my Bible in it. I’m so sorry to bother you, but, please, can I just grab it? I won’t take a second.”

I tell her to go ahead. She walks to the front right corner of the room, and takes a Bible from a shelf inside the podium. The entire time she’s in the room, she’s apologizing to the room at large and telling everyone about leaving her Bible and just wanting to get it and go. She finally walks out the door and closes it after a last apology.

As the group looks back at me, I say, “We were just talking about noticing things. So what I want you to do is to write down everything you noticed about that woman and what she did.”

There’s an audible gasp.

I give them a few minutes to write, and then have them share what they recalled. Few of them get the clothing right. Some get her hair colour right, but many don’t. Most don’t remember what she was looking for or what she said.

I go to the door and the woman is standing on the other side. I ask her to repeat what she did while people go over what they remembered. She not only repeats what she did and said, but does it perfectly. At the end, instead of leaving, she comes to stand beside me. One woman brings down the house by asking, “Are you sure that’s the same person who was here before?”

Powers of observation. Yes, very important for a writer.

I then introduce the women. She is Linda Hall, a Canadian author living in New Brunswick, who has three books out: a science fiction novel called The Josiah Files and the first two books in her RCMP mystery series, August Gamble and November Veil. I let them know that Linda has agreed to be interviewed by me so that we can go over the techniques of doing an interview while learning about a Canadian author. Linda and I sit down on the two chairs at the front.

I pull November Veil out of my briefcase and say, “I see you have a new mystery out. Is it your first book?”

She says no and tells us a little about The Josiah Files.

I say, “So, the new book is science fiction, too?”

She patiently explains that the new book is a mystery.

“I really wish I’d had time to read if before today,” I say. “Way too busy getting ready for the conference.” I look at the back of the book and read a bit of the description aloud. Then I say, “Oh, yes, it says here that it has an RCMP officer in it. So it takes place in Canada?”Linda Hall

“Yes,” she says. “It’s set in Alberta, where we lived before moving to New Brunswick.”

“And what’s it about?” I ask.

She begins to tell me, but I’m thumbing through the book and notice something interesting. “Where did you get the idea for this character?” I ask. “You know, I’m working on a mystery myself. About a body found in a Japanese garden.”


“So, have you always lived in the Maritimes?” I ask.

Linda is about to answer (patiently, I might add) when a young man seated in the middle of the room holds up his hand.

“Yes?” I say. “Did you have a question?”

“Yes,” he says. “Have you ever done an interview before?”

There are sharp intakes of breath throughout the room. A few people’s eyes throw imaginary daggers at the rude young man.

“I certainly have,” I say. “Many times.”

“Well, I find that hard to believe.”

More quiet gasps and shocked faces.

I glare at him. “Well, if you think you could do better—.” I stand. “Why don’t you take over?”

Linda remains seated, quietly watching, a puzzled look on her face.

The young man leaps to his feet, comes right up to the front of the class, and sits in my chair. I look at him for a moment and then walk down the side of the room to a desk at the back, where I sit down.

The young man then proceeds to do a great interview, asking all the right questions. He’s actually read the book! And Linda responds beautifully, giving interesting, informative answers. At the end, I come up and introduce the young man, who is, in fact, my son Mark, a student at Providence College at that time, studying music and drama.

I thank Linda and Mark for participating in the workshop and for demonstrating amazing acting skills at the same time. How they both kept a straight face throughout the entire time is beyond me! (Yes, it was all planned ahead of time!)

I then let the participants know they have an hour to write something based on the interview. Half write about Linda, but the rest write about what they learned about interviewing someone. And all of them say they had a good time, though a few were apparently ready to defend me and confront the young man despite my appalling interview.

And that is one of my fondest, “fun” memories of the conference, as well as the way I met Linda Hall, who’s been a good friend of mine ever since.

Check out Linda’s books. There are a lot more now!

As for Mark, he’s currently working on two books, and we’re hoping for publication one of these days.

Time for a change

Les LindquistToday is my husband’s last day with IBM. He just left to turn in his laptop. I’m sure it must be a strange feeling.

In actual fact, he hasn’t worked in an office for over 15 years. He simply walked to a room in our house, turned on his computer, picked up his phone, and dialed in to “work.” I remember during the winter Olympics a few years back, one of our sons looked in at 6 in the morning to see his dad wearing a housecoat, sipping coffee, and talking on the phone while watching Olympic coverage on the TV with the sound turned off. Our son’s comment was, “I think I want your job.”

What Les has been doing during those years was working on world wide teams. Usually, he was the only Canadian on a team of people from the United States, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Japan, Australia, and other countries. They rarely met face-to-face, but talked on the phone and of course via the computer. Many meetings were early in the morning because they had to work with time schedules in Japan and Europe as well as North America. So someone in Japan might be on the phone late at night while for you it’s early in the morning and for someone else it’s noon. Kind of crazy, but it seemed to work.

And because there was always a new project, and the overall focus was on working to make things better, he enjoyed his job. He was, in fact, a change management consultant, and now he’s thinking how to use those skills in other areas.

He’d have been with IBM for 35 years at the end of July. A long time. Pretty well all his adult life. He left university and went to work for IBM three months later. His original goal was to work for a few years in order to get some business experience and then go into full time ministry of some sort. But life happened and kids arrived and other opportunities arose, and we realized we could do a lot with him at IBM. (That didn’t stop our family from asking him every year or so if he thought he had his business experience yet. I guess he has it now. Hope so, anyway.)

He’s wondering how long it will be before he wakes up and doesn’t immediately wonder what he needs to do for IBM today. I’m wondering how long it will take us to adjust to the next phase of our lives.

The first few years of our marriage were just him and me, and it was great. Relaxed. Then came a dog, four sons, moves from Regina to Mississauga to Calgary and finally to Markham, church planting, homeschooling, leadership, and then the world of writing, speaking, and publishing.

There always seemed to be a flow from one thing to the next, and the next step seemed logical and necessary. For the first time in a long, long time we have the opportunity to sit down and decide exactly what we want to do. Our sons are adults, and while we like being near them, we don’t HAVE to beDaniel and Les Lindquist with their provincial Masters Swimming medals . We’re doing things with The Word Guild and publishing, but again, we don’t HAVE to do them. So it’s time to stop and think about how we spend our time, where we live, what we still want to accomplish, and so forth without feeling obligated to anyone.  A nice feeling.

I wonder how long it will last before we jump into a new project? Not long, I expect. We both love new challenges and we don’t have to look very far to find some. Still, it’s nice to have that brief moment, even a week or so, to take some time to think and dream and pray before jumping into pool again.

Which reminds me – Les will be swimming in the Canadian Masters’ Championships in Etobicoke this May, along with our third son, Daniel. They both won a number of medals in the Ontario Master’s Swimming Championships last year in Sudbury and this year in Ottawa, and they’re motivated to keep going.

And Les has started a blog called “More from Les.” It’s  going to be about – wait for it – change! Funny – so many people resist change as hard as they possibly can – while we both look forward to it. And this could be one of the best changes yet.

Thank you, Johnny Reid

At the end of the year, it's good to look back and think about the people who have helped you along the way in the past 12 months, or longer.

When I was quite young I memorized a poem about a self-made man who was only self-made in his own mind. The truth was he'd forgotten about all the people who'd helped him along his way.

I hope none of us will ever do that. I have a long list myself of people who've helped me – intentionally or not.

Not the least of those is Johnny Reid.

Now although I'm a fan of his on a couple of web places, Johnny has very likely never heard of me. But the creativity, passion, and excellence in his CD, Kicking Stones, helped me in a number of ways this year. Listening to this CD entertains me, encourages me, and inspires me both as a person and as a writer.

I've even played the title song from the CD at my writing workshops because it's one of the best examples I've found for  teaching people how to "show, not tell" as you write. Kicking stones video 

If you don't know Johnny, who was the 2009 Canadian Country Music male singer of the year. and whose CD Kicking Stones has sold over 100,000 copies, you might want to watch this video of his performance of one of the many great songs on the Kicking Stones CD –  "Thank You."

And you might want to make a list of the people who've helped you this year.

Another edit

Princess Persnickety coverOkay, I have taken Trevel's suggestion and dropped the "and Her Friends" and the Part 1 bit.Trevel is one of my primary editors and is usually right. :) New cover. 

I just finished writing a book!

Princess P 1st coverI did it! Wrote a fantasy chapter book for my granddaughters in time for Christmas. Even managed three edits.

This is the working cover I used on the Advance Reading Copy of the book.

Of course, things did change a little bit along the way. The original goal was to come up with a story of about 10 or 12,000 words by Nov. 7th, 2008 – in time for a birthday. Maybe 12 chapters.

But there’s this law about things filling up all available  space.  And it must have seemed as though I had extra space available – though I have no idea why! Anyway, the story somehow kept growing. And growing. It ended up just shy of 40,000 words, with 30 chapters.

It probably needs a couple more edits prior to showing it to an editor or agent, but I think it’s good enough for a Christmas read. The full title is The Misadventures and Tribulations of Princess Persnickety and Her Friends.

And here’s the clincher.

Under the title it says Part 1: The Stranger.

You see, as I wrote, I kept getting all kinds of other ideas. After all, once you’ve gone to all the trouble of creating an entire world, you kind of want to spend some quality time there. Writing the book also gave me more insights into the Narnia series. I’ll be writing my thoughts here shortly. Click here to read the original opening of the book.

My Perfect Morning

tea cupI’m sitting here drinking lapsang souchong tea (the result of reading a book by Ron and Janet Benrey entitled Dead as a Scone, which is set in a tea museum in England (one of my all-time favorite cozy mysteries!).

I actually bought the tea thinking my husband would like it (he likes smoked meat and it has kind of a smoked flavour). He hates it: I love it: go figure.

I’m listening to John Berry sing “O Holy Night” on YouTube. Currently listening for the seventh time this morning. I watched the first couple, too. :) You can also hear it at his website. I love John Berry’s voice, but I also love the way he sings. It’s about the words and the song, not so much about him.

And I’m chatting via instant messaging with a close friend. Not idle chatter – we’re discussing interesting things – called ideas. I love talking with creative people who aren’t afraid to dream and envision and put varied thoughts together. Very cool.

My dog is in my room on her blanket, snoring slightly. She’s 16, blind, and pretty well deaf. We live in a three-story house (four if you count the basement) and she can go up the stairs but can’t find them to go down, so we have to watch she doesn’t accidentally fall down them – which explains the large boxes across the basement stairway and the fact I keep my office door closed).

I have become a 24/7 caregiver for a dog. Not terrific, but she follows me wherever I go, does tricks for her cookies at night, pushes her popcorn bowl around the room when it’s empty (how many dogs do you know who have their own popcorn bowl?), and tosses rawhides in the air and then sniffs around until she finds them (unless they’re on top of a table or the piano, in which case we have to help). So she may be elderly, but she’s still doing pretty good, though we know it’s kind of week to week at this point.IMG_1055

My oldest son just learned that the Lasik surgery he had on both eyes yesterday is successful and he can now legally drive without glasses. When you consider that he could barely walk across the room without glasses before, this is amazing!

My husband is at a fun swim meet he goes to every year, where participants swim all four strokes – freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly – and then you add the times to get placings for each age group. He usually does well.

At 12:30. the Raptors are playing. What can I say? Since the moment Jay Triano was hired as an assistant coach, I’ve been waiting for him to get the opportunity to be the head coach. I’m hoping for good things. Now all we need is Steve Nash – could Steve and Jose platoon?

While Raptor watching, I’m going to do some editing on The Misadventures and Tribulations of Princess Persnickety and Her Friend Stefan. The story I started at the request of my granddaughters has somehow morphed into a 35,000 word chapter book with 27 chapters. Both my granddaughters will get copies for Christmas. Then I’ll have to decide what to do with it next. You can see the original beginning here.

Ahh. My idea of a perfect morning.

The magic of Narnia

“I would read other books, of course,” wrote the novelist Neil Gaiman, “but in my heart I knew that I read them only because there wasn’t an infinite number of Narnia books.”

My son sent me that quotation the other day. Partly because he knows I’m a big fan of the Narnia books, too, and partly because he knows I’m in the middle of writing a children’s fantasy. I am not, however, going to claim that my book is even remotely like the Narnia ones.

Why not? First, because that claim has been made so often, and second, because it leaves a disgruntled reader in the wake. It’s very easy to understand why, on front covers, back covers, and in publishers’ blurbs, so many books have been compared favourably to the Narnia series.  Since so many readers love the Narnia series, and publishers want to entice us to buy their new books, it makes sense for the advertising copy writer to put, the author is “like Lewis,” the book is “like the Narnia books” or “in the style of the Narnia books”  somewhere readers will see it.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, at least, what happens next is that I get disappointed. To date, I’ve never found another book that was compared to the Narnia series that has been anywhere near as good as the original.

So the book I am writing is most definitely NOT intended to be like the Narnia books. It’s simply a book  I’m writing at the request of my granddaughter who thought it unfair that I should write books for teens and adults but none for her age group. And it’s in the fantasy genre simply because I thought of this neat character and she happened to be a princess and live in a rather interesting world that wasn’t quite real, so by default it had to be a fantasy.

Do I read fantasy? Well, growing up, I read every fairy tale I could find, over and over again, plus Alice in Wonderland and many others. I’ve read Lewis, of course—over and over. And Tolkien, and many others, including another of my all-time favorite writers, Terry Pratchett. But I’m not trying to write like any of them. I’m hoping my book will simply look like itself.

But today, after reading the Gaiman quotation, I’m thinking about the Narnia series, and why it stands alone at the head of the class. What is it that makes those books so beloved and so difficult to imitate? Is it the setting? the plot? the characters? the themes? the dialogue? the style? Hmm. While I don’t want to imitate what Lewis did, I would like to find a way to write a book that will have the staying power of the Narnia series.

I’m contemplating what that means.

What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

030218_0028_0155.wbcI was at the mall today (more about that later). Shortly after I went into one highish end (for our mall) women’s clothing stores, the alarm went off and the next thing I knew, a salesclerk was yelling at an older lady who apparently had put on a jacket and then walked out of the store.

The lady claimed she had a migraine, was distracted, and hadn’t realized she still had the jacket on. The saleslady obviously didn’t believe it. In the end, she let the lady leave, but not before she made some scathing remarks. She was still talking about it to one of the other clerks when I left.

I know shop-lifting is a major problem in our culture, but my sympathy on this day was with the older lady. Anyone who’s gone through menopause or been busy with a number of things know how easy it is to get distracted and absent-minded.

I once walked out of a Walmart store into the mall holding a small item I was buying, thinking absently that I’d pay at the far door (door to the mall). When it suddenly dawned on me there was was no checkout, and I had in effect shoplifted the item, I hurriedly returned to the Walmart store, wondering if someone had seen me on a video camera and had called the police. Fortunately, no one appeared to apprehend me, and I paid and left the store.

Sometimes absent-minded really is absent-minded.

Do the clothes you wear really affect how you feel?

When people asked me what I wore to write, I used to have an easy answer: whatever I have on. Jeans, cut-offs, a T-shirt, possibly pyjamas and a housecoat. Whatever. I mean, who’s going to see me, right? I’m sitting alone at a computer desk in my house. A New York publisher is unlikely to walk by.

My normal companion is my dog, and all she cares about is whether or not we have enough food and cookies and popcorn and water to last the day, and whether or not I’ll remember to take her for a walk and make certain she gets her after-walk treat. And, oh, yeah, what did she do with that cool squeaky toy she had just a minute ago? Ah, there it is. Nope. She’s not thinking about what clothes I have on or whether I’ve forgotten to comb my hair.

My husband is in the house, upstairs at his computer. He’s worked from home for quite a few years now, and revels in the fact that he no longer has to go to the office in a navy suit with a shirt and tie. He wears shorts, perhaps jeans if it’s way below zero outside, and a T-shirt. So he doesn’t exactly get upset with me if I don’t look spectacular. In fact, a couple of Olympics ago, he was at “work” in his home office at six AM on a worldwide call with people from Japan, Europe, the US and South America. One of our sons looked in, saw his dad sitting in his bathrobe with his feet up on his desk, his coffee at his fingertips, and the Olympics on TV, all while he talked on the phone and manipulated his computer mouse. And said, “I think I want your job.” Nope, my husband doesn’t care. Dressing down is the norm in my house.

And yet, a couple of months ago, I decided to change my lifestyle. When I get up, I dress in appropriate clothes for the treadmill or going outside for a walk. Then I have breakfast and do any necessary household chores. Then I dress for work and walk upstairs to my writing office.

If you’d been able to look into my office this week, you’d have seen the following:

Monday – okay, it was a holiday here, so I wore a yellow sleeveless cotton top with a pair of black cotton capris, low black strappy sandals, and yellow earrings.

Tuesday – I opted for black office-style capris, a purple deep V cotton top with winged sleeves, purple sandals with a kitten heel, and purple/silver earrings and necklace.

Wednesday – short-sleeved V-neck full-skirted dress (just below the knee) with black polka dots, black and red earrings, black sandals with a 2-inch heel

Today – blue/brown/turquoise print wrap dress (just above the knee) with brown jewelry and brown platform sandals.

Say what? Why go to all the trouble of dressing up to sit at a computer desk?

Has my dog noticed the change? She hasn’t indicated anything to me. Where’s my food? and What did I do with my toys? still seem to be her primary concerns.

Has my husband commented? Well, he did notice the bills from the stores where I’ve been shopping. But I assured him everything was on sale. Other than that, I don’t think it’s bothered him. I do have a sneaky suspicion he actually likes it, but he hasn’t actually said so. Could be after nearly 36 years together he’s used to my getting “ideas.”

As for me…well, "I feel pretty, oh so pretty…" Okay, I have to confess. Over the last few years, I’ve watched TLC’s What Not to Wear a gazillion times.

I’ve watched it partly because I’ve always been interested in clothes and dressing well. After all, my dad owned a clothing store, so fashion is kind of in my blood. I spent hours and hours designing clothes for my dolls. I even considered become a dress designer when I was trying to decide where to go to university. I used to help people figure out their colours. I mean, this stuff really interests me. I even managed to include a makeover in my first mystery! Hmm. Now that I think about it, there are actually two makeovers in my second mystery! (And neither one was planned.)

But fashion fun aside, the really reason I watch What Not to Wear is because I love seeing people transformed. I love seeing their eyes light up and begin to sparkle. I love seeing them walk with confidence, glad to be who they are. And while I know there are hurts and needs that can’t possibly be resolved with new clothes and a better haircut, I also know that one’s appearance needs to be part of any meaningful change.

So I decided to try an experiment. I decided to dress as if I was actually going to a creative, dynamic office – the kind of office I’d like to be a part of. And after a month, I’d look back and evaluate the process and see if I could see a change in me.

Stay tuned for my conclusions.


Silx age 17

My dog and I were walking down the sidewalk as usual, her out in front leading the way, me working a little bit to keep up. Except for occasional times when she decided she just had to stop and sniff a fragrant tree, check out a suspicious walkway, or observe a patch of interesting grass, she went straight down the middle of the sidewalk.

Not bad when you consider that she’s 16, deaf to almost every sound, and nearly blind. No one looking at her as she heads down the street would ever suspect she has problems. She is and has always been an Alpha dog who believes the world belongs to her.

While we were walking this morning, it occurred to me to ask myself how it is that she can walk so confidently while I in a similar position would be afraid to leave the door to my house. I can think of a thousand problems that would arise – tripping over anything and everything, walking onto the street and getting hit by a car, falling over the curb, bumping into someone…. True, cement sidewalk feels very unlike soft grass, and it might be possible to stay on the walkway, but at best I would stumble along slowly, one hesitant step following another.

So how can she do it? Doesn’t she understand the dangers?

And then my son reminds me that in the past, the few times she has gotten out of our yard alone, she’s always gone to the front door and scratched to get in the house – very unlike her usual behaviour. And I understand. The reason she can walk quickly and confidently is because she knows she’s safe. There’s a leash that connects us.

Without the leash, she would be alone and fearful, even more so than she’s been when she got out alone before she began to have sight and hearing problems. But with the tension of the leash between us, she’s secure. She knows that I’m with her and that she’s safe.

And sure enough, more than ever before, I make sure she gets over curbs safely and doesn’t bump into a stray bike or something else that’s unexpectedly in her path. I have become her guide person as well as her security.

And I consider how the leash, which might seem to be a restraint, actually gives her freedom.