You’ll have a lot of time to write!

Hi, everyone,

I’m sure you are wondering why I haven’t written in my blog for so long. Lots of things have been happening in my personal life that made it difficult to write.

I broke my foot in Aug 2011, and thought that I would have time to write. However, a lot of my time was spent going to medical appointments, and it took a lot more time that it would normally take to do things like making meals and washing my hair. Dealing with unemployment insurance and such also took up a lot of my time. Normally such a break would take eight to ten weeks to heal, but mine took fifteen weeks to heal. About the time when my foot was close to healed, the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut offered me a place in their advanced program, based on my instructor’s recommendation and a committee’s evaluation of my work in the program that I had just finished. I agreed, because I was eager to continue honing my writing skills.

I was just starting to get my life back on track, when my brother died on the operating table on Nov 30, 2011. I was thankful to still be off work, but instead of reading and writing, I spend my time crying and trying to comprehend what had happened. Of course, working with my family on funeral arrangements long distance took up a lot of time, too.  The wonderful man that I was seeing was very supportive and, before I left, we had a long, romantic supper together and talked about taking an extended trip overseas in a few years. I wasn’t thinking about writing.

I got through the funeral, and came back home in Jan 2012 anxious to get back to work and to spend time with my guy. I was informed by the school board that I was put on leave with pay at one of my schools, because they didn’t want me to do the stairs at that school. This meant that I would have every afternoon off with pay until the end of the school year. I planned to use that time for reading and writing. However, that time got used to think about my brother and cry. Then, a few weeks later, I found out that my elderly mother, the only member of my immediate family that I have left, was diagnosed with cancer. My guy stopped returning my phone messages and text messages, and I couldn’t even consider using my afternoons to write. I had a lot of grieving to do. I’m happy to report that my mother got through her chemo and has been cancer-free for around a year and a half now.

Back to Jan 2013: I trudged along, trying to start writing “Don’t tell Julie!” but I couldn’t concentrate, and was obliged to ask for an extension for every single assignment. I wanted to just forget about my life as a writer completely until I got my personal life back on track, but I had already paid for my online course and I wanted to try to use those assignments as something positive to think about.

I ended up meeting another guy later that month, but it’s been a rocky road, and that turned into yet another distraction. I had to learn to set some limits and boundaries and, when I started doing so, the assignments started getting emailed on time, with no more requests for extensions.

You probably won’t believe me, but in Jan 2014, I broke my leg (at least it’s a change from breaking feet) and, again, I was back to spending my days going to medical appointments and taking care of myself as best I could. However, I did manage to get some writing done this winter, and have finished the rough draft of “Don’t tell Julie!”

It’s hard for women to compartmentalize their lives and think about one thing at a time, and I’m no exception to the rule. When difficult situations drag on, I spend my emotional and mental energy thinking of what I have to do to make the situation I’m obsessed about better. A loved one has a problem that has a big impact on my life, and I dream about solutions rather than letting the person learn to take responsibility for the situation and make things right. Again, my trying to solve this person’s problem drains my energy and it’s hard to concentrate on my writing.

I have always depended heavily on my agenda, but I am learning that I need to schedule work, medical appointments, ESL students, etc. into the agreed upon time slots and then schedule time for cooking and cleaning. This does leave some time slots for writing. Maybe the writing should come first, but I concentrate better in a clean environment. If my keyboard and desk are dusty, and I don’t know what I’m going to have for supper, I think about those things rather than spending the next hour writing. I’m more productive if I take a few minutes to dust and take something out of the freezer that I can throw in the oven. Once I do those things, I can concentrate on writing for the following hour or so.

If I get up at a reasonable time on a Saturday and get my laundry started and my dishes done, along with any other housecleaning, it’s surprising how productive I can be at the keyboard Saturday afternoon. However, If I sleep in till 11: 00, take a shower, have brunch, then do housecleaning all afternoon, my Saturday is shot before I even get started writing. My health may require some extra sleep, but I feel better when I get that extra sleep by going to bed a bit earlier on Friday night.

Fighting for that time dedicated to writing may involve letting the phone ring, writing down a list of things to do in the next few days instead of just doing those things right away, and saying no to certain activities. These are still things I am working out for myself, but I’ve noticed an improvement.

Have you had similar experiences with your personal time management? Do you manage to find time to finish projects that you would like to finish or even start? Do you have any suggestions for me? Please leave a comment in the comments section below.


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Standing Tall with Turner Syndrome

I don’t know when exactly I was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome. I remember getting my cheek swabbed when I was 10 or 11, but I wasn’t told why. I didn’t actually hear the term Turner Syndrome until I was 15. Back then, there wasn’t much they could do for me, so I gladly closed my file in the Genetics department of the hospital when I turned 20 or so and went on with my life.

About 25 years later, in Dec 2010, I had this overwhelming urge to do research on this extremely rare condition, even though I had a book signing to prepare for, a trip back to Saskatchewan to spend Christmas with my family for the first time in 3 years, and a lot of other things on my mind. I wanted to wait until Jan, but God was constraining me to do it right away.

I learned that TS can be related to a host of other conditions: Diabetes, hearing loss (check), rheumatoid arthritis (check, although it’s not a high percentage), osteoporosis (check), short stature (check) etc, etc. When I read the Wikipedia article, I thought they were describing me. Except for the Diabetes, they were spot on.

TS results from a missing X chromosome, therefore, it only affects women. Scientists still don’t know why this chromosome is missing, but they say it has nothing to do with heredity. The thing I learned that really blew me away was that 99% of baby girls missing this chromosome end up being miscarried. I had a 1% chance of being born! I am still humbled by the thought.

I found an ad on the Canadian Turner Society’s website that said, “Calling all authors” which invited people to contribute an article telling their TS stories. I sent the editor an email asking if it was too late, and she replied that it wasn’t too late, but she would need my article by the end of the month. Then I understood why it was so pressing that I do the research. I was leaving for SK  soon, and didn’t want my family time to be taken up with writing. I got right on the ball and sent my article the following Monday. 

The editor invited me down to NJ to a Christmas party for TS women and their families. I had never met anyone else with TS, so I drove 20 hours to spend about 20 hours with her and her family, and it was worth every minute of driving and effort. Fortunately, it happened just before I left for SK.

For various reasons, the book wasn’t published right away, but we launched it in Oct. 2013, at a seminar on TS held in Boston. It was closer than NJ, and I had great weather for driving. Thirteen out of eighteen contributors were there, and it was a life-changing experience to meet these amazing women. One came all the way from London, another came from Kansas, so I was by no means the one who travelled the farthest.

The turnout was twice what I was expecting and, after our presentation, people went back to buy a second or even third copy of our book, presumably to give to their doctors.

There were two young mothers there who had recently learned that their very young girls had TS. Since the condition is so little known, these young mothers were frightened, wondering if their daughters would have normal lives, wondering how to meet their special needs, wondering how to avoid making mistakes in raising them. After hearing our stories, they felt better, and I had a chance to remind them that it is not possible to raise children without making mistakes. 

We had two lovely, quiet evenings to get to know each other, and talk without being interrupted. I was struck by how similar my experiences were to the women in my age group, but how different our lives were from the lives of the younger women who grew up receiving Human Growth Hormone injections.

It was very difficult to go back to real life, and I was in a down all the following week. I asked God to give me something to look forward to, and a couple of days later, I got an email from the editor saying that she had been invited to present the book at the Canadian Turner Society national conference, in Montreal, in May. She thought that I should go, too. I wrote back to say that it was too far for me to drive, but she knew I was only joking, (I live in Quebec City). I have now made my arrangements, and am psyched to go.

If you will be in Montreal on the last weekend in May, please contact us through our facebook page to get the coordinates, and come see us at the conference. Even if you won’t be there, please visit our facebook page anyway and see the stories that have been posted there, and the interesting discussions.

I’ll tell you more after the conference.






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Sheree Fitch, Canadian author / Auteure canadienne

On Fri, April 12th, DDO School had the priviledge of welcoming Sheree Fitch, Canadian author for a recitation.  She gave a very fun, animated presentation of her poetry for children, and we had a good visit after.  Thank you, Sheree!

Le 12 avril, l’École DDO a eu le privilège de recevoir Mme Sheree Fitch, auteure canadienne.  Elle a donné une belle récitation très animé de sa poésie pour enfants et j’ai pu prendre un temps avec elle par après.  Merci, Sheree!

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Quebec City Book Fair / Salon du Livre de Québec

I had a blast at the Book Fair – my musketeers (Rachelle Gagnon and Michèle Ducasse) were there to share the moment with me, and I even was interviewed for SRC TV.

C’était super le fun au Salon du Livre – mes mousquetaires (Rachelle Gagnon et Michèle Ducasse étaient là pour vivre le moment avec moi et j’ai été interviewée pour le poste de télé SRC.

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New course / Nouveau cours

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So, I have once again embarked upon a correspondance course with the Institute of Children’s Literature.  We don’t apply for the Advanced program, we are offered a place if our instructor recommends us, and if the committee agrees.

I was hesitant at first, because I’ve got enough on my plate, but I decided to go for it.  I’m working on my sequel anyway, why not combine the 2, and get help with the sequel?  As it turned out, I’m learning exactly what I needed to learn to unblock and improve the story.

My new instructor, Nancy Butts, is awesome – we have a lot of affinities (she also has arthritis), and does the type of writing that I want to do.  So, once again, I’m crazy busy, but loving it.  Sleep is overrated!

Bien, oui, j’ai encore embarqué dans un cours à distance avec l’Institut pour la Littérature de Jeunesse.  On n’applique pas pour le programme avancé, on se voit offert une place si le prof nous recommande et si le comité est d’accord. 

J’ai hésité au début, puisque j’ai assez d’ouvrage comme ça, mais j’ai décidé d’y aller.  Je travaille sur la suite de toute façon, pourquoi pas combiner les 2 et me faire aider en même temps?  Et voilà que j’apprends exactement ce dont j’avais besoin pour débloquer et améliorer l’histoire. 

Ma nouvelle professeure (Nancy Butts) est formidable!  On a beaucoup d’affinités (elle aussi, elle fait de l’arthrite) et elle écrit dans le même genre que moi.  Alors, je suis encore dans le jus, mais j’adore ça.  Le sommeil, c’est quoi ça?

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Graphic novels, What do YOU say? / Les bandes dessinées, qu’en dites VOUS?

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As a Library Tech and an author, I’m still deciding what I think about Graphic novels.  They get kids excited about books, but the little ones in my library want to take books that are inappropriate, just because they like looking at pictures.  Even when the borrower has the appropriate age, they’re only reading about 60 words per page.  Will it come to a point where kids will read ONLY graphic novels?  Please take a couple of minutes to take my poll.

En tant que Technicienne en documentation et auteure, je suis toujours en train de réfléchir sur les bandes dessinées.  Elles suscitent un amour des livres, mais mes petits usagers veulent prendre des livres qui ne sont pas appropriés, juste pour regarder les images.  Même quand l’usager a l’âge approprié, il n’y a qu’un peu près 60 mots par page.  Est-ce qu’on arrivera à un point où les jeunes ne liront plus QUE les bandes dessinées?  Veuillez prendre deux minutes pour répondre à mon sondage.

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Salon international du livre de Québec / Quebec City International Book Fair

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I was recently invited by my bookstore here in Quebec City to have a one-hour book signing at the Quebec City International Book Fair.  (20,000 visiters per day).  Thank you La Maison Anglaise!  I’ll let you know the exact date and time once they’re set by leaving a comment attached to this post. 

In the meantime, please visit their web sites:

J’ai récemment été invitée par ma librairie ici à Québec au Salon internationale du livre de Québec pour faire une séance de signature d’une heure.  (20,000 visiteurs par jour).  Merci La Maison Anglaise! 

Je vous tiendrai au courant de la date et l’heure exactes une fois qu’elles soient fixées en laissant un commentaire à cette affichage.  Entretemps, je vous invite à visiter leurs sites web:

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