Canadian Mom Writer

Thoughts and Opinions on the writing life, working from home, and mothering.

Name:
Location: St Marys, Ontario, Canada

I am a work at home mom of 3 living in the country just outside of St Marys, Ontario. I am a freelance writer and copywriter just finally getting going on my business after baby #3. I was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland and have called Canada home for 16 years now.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

I gave my baby a Mullett....

Tonight I inadvertantly cost myself and my husband thousands of dollars in therapy for our son when I accidentally gave him a mullett during his first haircut...

I really didn't mean to, the idea was to just trim the top so that it stayed out of his eyes, and leave the rest of his beautiful blond baby curls till another day, but have you ever tried cutting the hair of a wriggly 15 month old? I had to get him to sit in Dad's lap with a towel around him to catch the hair. He didn't like me pulling his hair, and kept turning his head to the side and looking up at me. Needless to say he got a mouthful of hair a few times, and started crying. Dad started yelling at me to hurry up so I finished as quickly as I could. The girls rescued a lock of hair from the floor to keep as I spat the stray hair out of my mouth.

Once his hair dried, I looked in horror at what I'd done.... Short at the top and front and then these lovely golden curls cascading around his ears and neck. Eeek.. I didn't get a picture of it tonight, but I will have to get one tomorrow. Looks like the rest of the baby curls will have to come off tomorrow...sigh.... If he'll stay still...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I spent yesterday with my two little brothers. Not that they are little anymore, at 25 and 22 they are independant men, living on their own with their own lives. One lives in Manhattan and is pursuing a career in Musical Theatre, the other is at York University and will eventually be making scads of money in the tech field. You can view his blog here; http://www.concisecoding.blogspot.com

I am very proud of my brothers, even though they are much younger than me, they inspire me to follow my own dreams. When we were younger, it was always my job to watch over them, to make sure they didn't get into trouble or get run over or worse. I used to hate hanging out with my friends and having to keep an eye on a little gurrier or two, it really cramped my style! Now the tables have turned and they watch over me, like in New York when I could hardly walk after our weekend of sightseeing. I am the little sister now.

Christmas this year will be extra special, with them living away from home now and not being able to get home much, the time we spend together is quality. It won't be like this for much longer, as they are getting to the stage in their lives when girlfriends become more serious, they develop their own extended families through in-laws, and their lives and careers take them further away from the home base. My mother mentioned yesterday that she wanted to get a family picture of the 9 of us this year, I think deep down she knows that this may be the last Christmas that we will be able to do that.

But enough of that or I will get all misty eyed. We are constantly developing new Christmas traditions, and now I have to think about my children's view of the holidays, their memories are still being made, and I know I want them to have the same wonderful holiday memories that I have. Most of my memories as a child involve family, the presents fade into memory, but it's how we spend the time and who with, that remains in our memories many years from now.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Sorry to use this overused cliche, but this damn weather is starting to get to me. I know, we're in Canada, eh, so get used to it. I've been here for almost 17 years, I don't think I'll ever get used to it. It makes for hairy-scary driving, especially as we live in the country and all of the snow in the area seems to accumulate on our road.

Sure, it's nice this time of year, but crappy roads mixed with half crazed last minute Christmas shoppers is not a nice combination. I went to Walmart last night, the one place I try to stay clear of this time of year, but I am a sucker for punishment. I swear they pump in some kind of mood altering chemical in the heater when you walk through the front door. It means that everyone you encounter in the store will be in a hurry, will stop in the middle of a busy aisle so that you ram into the back of them, and will stand in front of the one item that you want. I made the mistake of entering the toy department last night, along with 64 million other people. They really need to make the aisles bigger in this one department.

But enough of that. I am almost done my shopping, and now comes the crazy week where the house has to be cleaned, the girl's room has to be cleaned (dreading that), the xmas cards still have to be mailed out (stupid printer....) and hopefully the 2 gifts that are coming via mail will get here on time.

On the up side, I am going to Toronto on Tuesday with my brother to pick up our little brother at York. We are then going shopping at Yorkdale. It will be nice to spend time with the bros, especially now that they live so far away.

Today is my husband's birthday, he seemed to have a good day doing nothing!

Grumpy baby ready for bed now so must be off.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Argh! Enough with the lousy spelling, people!

OK. So tonight I'm surfing through some copywriting blogs when I come across a request on a message board to give testimonials about a beta web site, the reward being a free 5,000 page training book, or something like that. I think, sure, I'll give it a look, not like I'm having any amazing breakthroughs on my book or anything. I couldn't understand the headline, it was that disorienting. Then mistake after mistake in the copy of the website. I check out the sample chapters.... I can't imagine wanting to plow through 1,200 pages of this stuff. Spelling errors rampant throughout the page. I can't stand to read any more so I close off the page. I think of emailing the guy to let him know my feelings, but decide not to as I've been told by a certain family member (yeah, you know who you are,) that I am too "HARSH"...

You know, if you're going to talk the talk and call yourself a copywriter, then you'd better walk the walk. How is it this guy is doing so well for himself, and here I am trying to figure out ways to justify writing off business expenses for the year when I haven't actually made any money? The bitter irony of it all..

The line from a Pink Floyd song just popped into my head, "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?" Do you think that people like, oh, say Bill Gates or Oprah would have the credibility that they have today if they'd published sloppy copy on their websites through the years? There's a reason we have proofreaders and editors in this world, like a good publicist they're there to make you look better, even if you can't spell or don't know the difference between the words your and you're.

I'll admit it; I am a spelling snob. However, in the business world, credibility and trust are huge. If I can't take you seriously from the content on your website, then how am I going to take your product seriously and actually purchase it? Sloppy copy is a sales killer, don't let it take down your business.

Copywriter for Hire
www.carolmcleod.net

Friday, December 16, 2005


Some Pictures of Dublin

Here are some pictures of Dublin that I took this summer, so that you can get an idea of the novel's setting. Granted, it's set in the past...but I don't think Dublin has changed all that much over the years. The First picture above is of the Halfpenny Bridge.




This next picture is taken on the Halfpenny Bridge looking east to O'Connell Bridge. I suppose I should mention that the river underneath is the River Liffey, and it is always written that way, never the Liffey River. Still not quite sure why that is, any Dubliners out there know the answer? Maybe because the gaelic translation, Abhainn na Life, puts the word 'river' in front of the noun.



This picture is of the North side entrance to the Halfpenny Bridge. This hopefully will give a better visual image when reading my last post.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Chapter from my book, Dubh Linn

Aisling first realized where she was when she saw her father Sean, walking across the bridge. She was almost ready to run to him, when something about him set her on edge. He looked younger, no signs of grey hair yet peeking out from under his hat, his face was less lined than she remembered, and his walk, his gait was as though he was on his way to the firing squad. He looked confused, miserable, and ready to burst into tears. Aisling couldn’t run up to him looking like this, plus she had a funny feeling something bigger was going on. Like Sean wasn’t the one she was supposed to be looking at.

Just then Aisling saw her. The black hair and blue eyes noticeable even from this distance. The woman came out of an alleyway so fast she nearly dropped the load she was carrying when she bumped into Sean. The two collided and the woman teetered off balance, catching herself and her washing basket against the wall of a shop. Sean bent to pick up his hat, and offered his apologies to the woman, who quickly mumbled something and rushed off. Sean didn’t think anymore of it as the two parted company, Sean heading to O’Connell Bridge, the woman hurrying towards the halfpenny bridge. Aisling staggered to control herself as she just realized what had happened. They had touched, even just for a brief moment.

She shrank back into the doorway as the woman came closer, noticing how much younger she looked also, and how pale her skin was, as if death itself were following her close behind. When the woman walked past her, unawares of who was watching her, Aisling felt the strangest sensation, what she would later describe as if she had received all the knowledge in the world in just one moment. She had been here before; she knew it deep in her heart. But how? And where? Her heart started to race and adrenalin filled her body. Something huge was going on, and she was privy to it amongst all these unsuspecting people.

The woman disappeared from her sight, but she searched frantically on O’Connell Bridge for Sean. There he was, dejectedly looking in the river, his hands tucked into his pockets, and his shoulders slouched. What had happened to him? Just then she heard a couple of passers-by talking. “Terrible day, this is. Poor Mick, done in and here’s the rest of us to pick up the pieces”. The man who said this had stopped to buy a newspaper from a boy on the Street. Aisling inched her way over to the boy, trying to read the headlines in the afternoon paper. She didn’t have to, however, as the Paper boy let out a hair raising shout to the crowds; “Michael Collins Dead! Read all about it”. This was it, the day she was born, the day of such happiness and sorrow for her father. No wonder he looked so awful.

Then there was a commotion on the bridge and down by the quays as people started shouting and pointing. Had someone fallen in? Or worse, jumped? She frantically searched the heads of the people on O’Connell Bridge to find her father, and there he was. What was he doing? Undressing? He had handed his hat and overcoat to a woman beside him, and now he was climbing onto the cement railing. No! Forgetting about being seen, Aisling ran across the road to the wall, where she blended in with the other onlookers who were pointing and shouting at something in the river. Her gaze fell off Sean for a second as she looked in the direction of their pointed fingers, and then she heard the splash. She lost what they were looking at for a moment as her attention once again focused on Sean. He had jumped into the Liffey? No! “Daddy! NO!”



Well? I'd appreciate any and all comments on this. Just a teaser....

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

E-Books and Editing: A Lost Art?

I've been subscribing to newsletter services like crazy lately, call it a quest for more business knowledge while I try to build my online 'empire'.. I've also come across a lot of e-books, one I actually bought, the others came as free gifts for signing on to newsletters.

I must say this. As a freelance copywriter, many of the e-books I've read have to do with copywriting, or blogging, or making money online. These books are designed by professionals, written by professionals, and (one would think) edited by professionals. Why is it then, that I've found frequent spelling mistakes and shoddy grammar in these e-books? One of the reasons I went into this business was because I hated seeing written material for companies with blatant errors in them. It just makes me lose trust in someone or a company when I see this. If they aren't going to spend the time making sure their image is as polished as it can be, then how are they going to deal with me as a customer?

For example, I used to work Front Desk in a Hotel. There was a large sign outside by the road that they used to advertise specials in the Hotel and Restaurant. The sign was changed daily to reflect new menu items and so on. The owner of the hotel came storming in one day, furious with whoever had changed the sign. She wasn't happy with the person who put "Visit our Dinning Room" on the board. Needless to say, that person was not allowed to put the sign out unless it had been checked by someone who could spell....

It all boils down to respect. I lose respect when I can't trust someone to follow through on their promises. It really leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I read something by a fellow wordsmith, only to have it littered with bad spelling and poor English. Is the quick turnaround for making money off these things too tempting now, that all the writers forget to read through before they hit the 'publish' button?

I would think that if I were to write an e-book, and have it circulating the internet as an example of my work, with possibly hundreds of copies being downloaded each week, that I would want to put forth the best representation of myself that I could possibly muster up.

But that's just me...

If you are writing an e-book and would like it proofread by a professional with years of experience, you know what you have to do.

Visit my site for more information
www.carolmcleod.net

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My Feelings on The Chronicles of Narnia Movie.


This morning I finished the last two chapters of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe with the girls. We then went this afternoon to see the movie. I can honestly say that I was impressed. For a relatively short book, I was pleased that the little plot add-ins worked with the rest of the story. For instance, the opening scenes aren't in the book, but it sets up the tension between the siblings. Also, in this day and age not many North American kids are aware that 60 years ago there was this huge event called World War 2, and many of London's children were billeted off to country homes to escape the Blitz. I had to explain this to my daughter when we were reading the book to her questions of "Where's their mom and dad?".

The children that were picked to play the lead roles were incredibly likeable, right down to the freckles on their face and the matching moles on the earlobes of Susan and Edmund. The actress who played Lucy should be nominated for an award.

Having just read the book, a lot of it was still fresh in my mind, and though I did pick up on some different things, they didn't really have that much of a negative effect. Unlike the LOTR trilogy, where they had no choice but to cut out so much of the book, this book seems to have adapted well to a screenplay.

Watching the news on Friday night, I was surprised to see that they were making such a big deal about the Christian elements of the story. For pete's sake people, last month the 4th Harry Potter movie came out, a series that gets more sinister with each book, and you're complaining about the overt Christian symbolism in this movie? Give me a break. There will be those who will say, it's just a story, no big deal. But you'd have to be living in a very dark void not to pick up on at least some of the references.

The soundtrack worked very well too, that haunting Enya-like instrumental music that gives you chills. I also felt that like LOTR, there was the attempt to make this a uniquely 'British' story, right down to some of the mythological creatures, the big old house in the country, and the folksy feel to some of the music. All in all I really enjoyed it, if you're thinking of taking the kids to a movie this holiday, Narnia should be on the top of your list.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Writing or Housework, which will win?

For those of you that may not know, I am a work at home mother of 3 kids under the age of 8. I am constantly struggling to find ways to get more writing done while the kids are underfoot, but, granted, the muse doesn't always strike when I need her to.

I've found lately that my writing progress can be measured by how clean my house is. When my house is spotlessly clean (Ha!) I'm usually going through a very dry spell and not much writing is being done. Thankfully, that hasn't been the case lately. I know it drives my husband insane when he gets home after a long busy day at work to find all manner of toys on the ground, the dishes not done and loads of laundry left on the bed 'in medias res'... But, in my defense, it is usually because I have been on a creative roll.

The baby is 15 months old now and amidst my efforts to turn him into a obsessive compulsive neat freak, he seems to be going the way of his slobbish older sisters. Can I not have at least one kid who will clean up after this family?

I know people who will not sit down unless the dishes are done, the floor is swept and the house is spotless as if they are expecting a visit from the Queen. I don't possess this clean gene. Is it because I'm creative? I like to think that I have better things to do than clean, after all, the toys are just going to get dumped on the floor again, so what's the point of spending my energy picking them up 10 times a day when I can channel that energy into writing?

Once I start bringing some decent money in, a cleaner will be on the top of my list, because writing will always win, or eBay.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Waiting with Anticipation for Narnia

I've been reading The Lion, the witch, and the wardrobe to my girls every night for the past week or so. We are on Chapter 11 tonight, and I am amazed at how well they will lie on their beds and listen. Lately we've been all clamouring onto one bed and reading while lying down....dangerous as I am liable not to get up from that position. The girls love it. I don't know why I didn't read it to them sooner, instead of waiting for the impending Hollywood movie version. I don't want them to grow up to be the type of person that watches the movie before reading the book, or worse still, being the type of person that foregoes the book altogether.

I bought the boxed set about 3 years ago now, and have read the first 2 books of the series...I know..but in the meantime, in my defense, the LOTR trilogy came out and I had to read the books before seeing the movies. Since then life, and 3 kids have gotten in the way of finishing the series.

The trailer for the movie version looks incredible, I hope it does the book justice. I remember seeing the BBC version as a teen, and then we borrowed it from the library 2 years ago.

Having said all this, I was hoping to go see the movie this weekend as a family.... but it looks like I'll have to do some more arm twisting on my husband's part. The promise of swords and battles may work on him yet.... I'm interested in what others have to say about the movie version, please leave me your comments!

Monday, December 05, 2005

7 ways to get work done with your kids around.

1. Invest in a laptop: My productivity has increased dramatically since I got my laptop. However, I am looking at getting my son his own mini computer as he has developed a bad case of ‘laptop’ envy. I like that I can write anytime of the day, without having to run into the office every time I want to check my e-mail or work on my website.

2. Use those pockets of time wisely: Nobody needs to tell you what to do while the baby naps, but what about when he’s playing quietly in the living room, or when the older siblings are there to entertain him?

3. Go low-tech: Leave notebooks and pens within reach throughout your house. Just make sure to put them up somewhere high so that the toddler doesn’t rip all the pages out or end up with a self-inflicted moustache. And make sure that the older children know these are YOUR notebooks otherwise they will be moved, stolen, coloured in etc.

4. Get a Portable Office: I implemented this idea so long ago that my office-in- a- basket has become a part of the furniture in the living room. The baby doesn’t touch it, which is good as it’s on ground level. I have a large 2 foot by 1 foot wicker lined basket (the kind you can pick up anywhere) filled with current writing magazines, binders and file folders containing articles I’m working on, and library books, cds, pens, etc.

5. Prioritize daily and weekly: Take a few minutes each day and at the beginning of the week to make a list of all that you have to do. Motherhood is an all-consuming job, and working at home means that we have to be that much more organized. I say this even though I still have a LOTR calendar from 2004 hanging in my kitchen…Until I get a new calendar entirely devoted to Aragorn, it’s staying on October 2004.

6. Share childcare with a neighbour/friend. If you can’t afford to get a regular babysitter while you work, consider trading childcare time with a neighbour. I am lucky to have a neighbour close by (I live in the country) who will watch my son for a couple of hours a week. I find that I can get writing done with him around, but when it comes down to crunch time, I like to give my work the undivided attention it deserves.

7. Get a MP3 player with Voice recording feature: They’ve come out with a device that plays music while you’re at the gym and doubles as a voice recorder? Brilliant!

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