All posts for the month January, 2012
This coming Friday is Family Literacy Day in Canada.
So what is Family Literacy Day all about? Well, it was created back in 1999 by ABC Life Literacy Canada and is held every year on January 27 to raise awareness of the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. The idea is for parents to take an active role in helping to strengthen the reading and writing skills of all family members. It’s a great idea! I’m not sure if there is any such program in other countries, but we hear plenty about it here in Canada.
In celebration of Family Literacy Day, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre in Toronto comprised a list a few weeks back consisting of 25 picture books and 25 works of fiction that “share in the joys (and struggles) of families of all sizes and combinations.” What was particularly nice about this, for me, was that Bitter, Sweet was included in this list. Feels kind of good to be a part of this especially since we’re talking about a subject that is near and dear to every writer’s heart.. Here’s the link if you’re interested in checking out all the great Canadian books on the list.
I think what’s important for us to understand about literacy is that creating a home environment where reading and writing is a priority doesn’t necessarily take oodles of time. I’m told that even fifteen minutes a day, reading, writing, playing a game, following a recipe or even singing a song will help to strengthen your family’s literacy skills. I know many of us are busy, especially those of us who work full time. One thing I found that worked well, when I was really busy after a day’s work, was to have my kids read to me while I prepared supper or did other chores in the kitchen. It was lots of fun when they were first learning to read. Reading was always an important part of our day, and while I can’t imagine a day going by without reading something, I know this isn’t the case in all families. So anything that helps raise awareness for this worthy cause if okay by me.
So even if you don’t celebrate Family Literacy Day where you live, perhaps you can help do something wherever you are to bring awareness to the importance of reading and writing in our every day lives.
Posted by Laura Best on January 22, 2012
If you don’t love winning free stuff than well, I guess you don’t love winning free stuff. Maybe you think you’re one of those unlucky people who never win a thing. That’s usually what I’m quick to say. But last year I entered several contests to win free books simply by leaving a comment on a blog and guess what? I won about seven or eight free books. Not too snotty considering I didn’t enter THAT many contests.
Now it’s your turn. Linda Cassidy Lewis is giving away an autographed print copy of her book The Brevity of Roses. That’s right, more free stuff! My little heart is thumping, not only at that word free, but book, as well. Yours should be too. Now a chance to win is pretty darn simple, just hop on over to Linda’s blog, “Out of my Mind,” leave a comment and voila, Linda will enter you in the draw. Read the details of her contest because there are ways to have your name entered more than once. Now I have to warn you, I already have a copy of Linda’s book but it’s not a signed copy, so of course I’ve entered. Why not, right? Then again you have just as good a chance to win this as me.You have until January 26th to enter, but why wait for that last minute? So are you still reading this or are ya heading on over to Linda’s and typing in that comment?
Come on….I’ll meet you over there.
Posted by Laura Best on January 18, 2012
What the heck does it mean to be on your high horse?
For me, being on your high horse means you’re indignant over a situation. How dare so and so expect this, say this to me or do that? I’m much better than that. Who do they think they are? Sound familiar?
Well, maybe we don’t articulate our woes in quite that manner. Maybe we’re annoyed and hurt by something without feeling or even thinking about the reason why. We’re just annoyed, and we have a right to it. We’ve been done wrong. I mean, they write songs about this kind of thing, don’t they?
But you know what, being up there on our high horse doesn’t serve any real purpose now does it? I’ve been up there a time or two, and I can unequivocally say it never did me any good. It was a miserable, cold and lonely place to be. And I’m not all that crazy about heights if you want to know the truth.
Some years back an editor sent me some feedback on a story I’d written. I’d had problems with the story. I’ll admit that. I simply couldn’t find the voice I was going after. But I had worked my little heart out on it, and was basically being told the story wasn’t worth working on. Ouch! Talk about a slap in the face, an upper cut to the jaw.
When we hear something we don’t want to hear, it stings at first. Maybe more than we’re willing to admit. But then reality sets in and the hurt turns to anger. How dare this editor suggest that my story is crap! What do they know anyway? Everyone knows it comes down to personal likes and dislikes?
You climb up on your high horse and there you sit looking down at the world. For awhile you feel as though you have every right to be up there and you’re even enjoying the view. The winds blowing through your hair, feels kind of nice. You’re the injured party. You’ve been done wrong. Surely, this editor could have spared your feelings, broke it to you more gently by perhaps suggesting you take a nice long trip, all expenses paid, and leave that manuscript behind when you go.
The truth is, editors don’t say things to be mean and hurtful, and likely no matter what words they offered up would not have been the words you desperately felt you needed to hear at the time of rejection. Granted, I’ve received as few rejection in my day that had me feeling pretty darn good about my work, ones that offered some solid feedback for improvements and a whole lot of encouragement sprinkled on top, a bright red cherry too if I’m being honest.. One would like to think, that no matter what we’ve written, there is something worthwhile and salvageable. But sometimes, what we’ve written is only practice for that stunning masterpiece that is waiting for us down the road. We sometimes need to get real. If we’re serious about writing that is, and even more serious about being published. Anyone can write (at least in some fashion) but not everyone will be published. That is the reality we face, people.
So what does getting on your high horse really do for us except make us feel indignant and done wrong by, maybe even cause us to be frightened of heights?
It doesn’t make us feel good about our situation nor does it do anything to improve our writing. If anything it holds us back, fills us with miserable and self-defeating thoughts, that keeps us stalled in time until hopefully we get up the courage to climb back down again.
Have you ever been on your high horse over a comment an editor, or even a critique partner, made? What eventually made you get back down?
Posted by Laura Best on January 16, 2012
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.~~ Albert Schweitzr
Good old Albert had a point, don’t you think? Loving what we do should bring the smile to any old grouch’s face, unless they’re simply being contrary. I’m not going to say that never happens.
In my world, nothing makes me happier than sitting at the computer and hearing the clicking of the keyboard. Okay, maybe not so much clicking since my typing skills are atrocious, but even the hunt and peck method can sound musical when thoughts are flowing and you’ve got a great idea by the tail.
Back when I was writing short stories there always seemed a time when I had work forthcoming, but I haven’t written a short story in a very long while. I’ve simply been too busy working on longer pieces. I don’t seem to write nearly as fast as some of the writers I’ve come to know, but as they say, “slow and steady wins the race.” Truthfully, I can’t say I’ve missed writing short fiction. I think it’s a matter of moving forward, and graduating into writing longer, more complex pieces. I’m not going to declare my short story days are over because one thing I know I’m not good at and that is predicting the future.
Anyway, the point behind this post is to mention a short story I wrote a number of years ago that appeared in the Nashwaak Review this time around. My copy arrived before Christmas, and although I took the time to read it (I always read my work after it is published) I didn’t take time to mention it to anyone except in passing to my daughter. The truth is, each story that we have published is just as important as the others considering how we toil over our words, pouring our hearts and souls into our work. The story I wrote is title Balloon Man it is told by a five year old boy whose mother has abandoned the family. His mother’s story, published by Transition a few years back, is available to read online and takes us quite far into the future. Transition published an earlier story told by the same character with the title, Mad Money, unfortunately that one can not be found online so far as I know. If you’re interested, you can check out the “publications” tab on my blog and click on: There’s This Thing About Leaving. It will take you to the issue in question. I can’t remember what page my story is on now, but scrolling down is always a good way to find something.
But enough about me, what’s new with you and your writing? Doesn’t have to be writing related, just anything you’re just dying to tell, and while you’re at it enjoy your weekend.
Posted by Laura Best on January 13, 2012
“It is better to spend one day contemplating the birth and death of all things than a hundred years never contemplating beginnings and endings.” ~~Budda
I’m always anxious for the new year to start. For me it represents beginnings. Beginnings are usually exciting and fresh, filled with so many promises I can’t close my eyes at night. Beginnings have the ability to tantalize, surprise and delight. With all that, do you wonder why I love beginnings so much? I have to admit, however, 2012 doesn’t see me beginning anything new on the writing front. I’m actually reworking a story I wrote some time ago, one of those stories that keep creeping back, begging me to keep working at it until I have the story told just so. Once that is finally done to the story’s satisfaction, I have a few new ideas I’m anxious to get started on. But all in good time. The wonderful thing about beginnings is that they can come to us at anytime not just when a new year begins.
Of course with every beginning there are also endings. It’s the way life is. Endings are sometimes as welcomed as what beginnings are, but not always. This post is about an ending to something that I only wish would never have had to end—at least not for a good long while.
In early December I received an email from the good folks at Sagors’ Bookstore in Bridgewater informing their customers that they would be closing their doors at the end of the month, and it made me SO sad. I hadn’t been expecting this, at least not just yet. Over the years I’d come to think of Sue and Ron as good friends, and their store a great place to stop by and chat when I had some time to spare. Sue and Ron helped me launch Bitter, Sweet, and I think they were almost as excited as I was that day! I did say almost. At any rate I was delighted to be able to share the day with them.
Sagors’ Bookstore has been on King Street since 1972. That’s a very long time. It’s hard to believe that the new year won’t find me browsing their selves for some of the latest YA Fiction. And in most cases, when I wanted a book ordered in they were able to do so. My mum also ordered many of her books this way. King Street has seen the loss of many small business over the years and it’s a real shame. Times change and people are often forced to shop in the larger stores where they can get the best deals. It’s the reality of the world we live in today. Some of us accept it willingly while others do not.
We are slowly losing our little bookstores and I can’t seem to put a positive spin on this. I wish it didn’t have to be so. I wish that people were able to support our small, independently owned bookstores instead of buying online from the larger distributors.
I can only wish for a future filled with nothing but the very best for Sue and Ron. I hope great things await you both.
Are there any independently owned bookstores in your area? Do you support them or do you purchase your books from a larger retailer that often has better buys, or do you buy your books online?
Posted by Laura Best on January 9, 2012
I’ll admit, my blog presence has been a bit scarce this past while.There have been several reasons. Christmas being one of them, plus the company of my daughter and granddaughter these past two weeks (Yay!) and not to mention the distraction with the guitar contest I blogged about last week.
Just want to thank those of you who took part in the contest and to let you know what the outcome was. I hadn’t planned to blog about the contest in the beginning because I knew quite a few of you who read this blog are also facebook friends and had already voted, but in the end I knew it would take every last vote we could get, and well, when it’s family involved I guess you do what you can. Right? Starting out with over 500 votes behind, we were able to get within 20 votes of the leader in the end and had nearly 1600 people supporting our efforts!!! Pretty darned impressive if you ask me. It only goes to prove that there are a lot of people out there willing to do something nice for someone even if that someone is a complete stranger.
Because the numbers were so close and because my nephew’s story was one that resonated with many people, Jimmy Rankin decided to give away two signed guitars… I mean how super is that? The whole reason behind everyone working toward this was to help lift my nephew’s spirits as he recovered from a broken back.
Not being an online person, my nephew still doesn’t know about any of this and won’t until the guitar is finally delivered to him. Bet he’s going to be surprised…
As to how he’s doing, he’s “amazed” everyone at the rehabilitation centre with how quickly he’s come along in his recovery and I’m really not surprised. Strength and determination go along way when we’re recuperating. He’s now out of rehab and staying with his parents, able to walk although the paralysis is still there. We’re all hopeful that he’ll make a full recovery. To be truthful, you can’t tell me that his recovery wasn’t helped along by the prayers of so many. For those of you who included him in your prayers, I thank you and so does Rob.
Next week I’m hoping to be back to regular blogging… Happy New Year to you all!
Posted by Laura Best on January 5, 2012