Jennifer Hatt's Blog

January 5, 2016

<p>It's fresh start time, but I have the attention span of a flea and am by necessity, cheap. Can I commit to anything workable? Here are my thoughts.</p>
<p>As I stared at the piles in my office it occurred to me that I have spent hundreds of dollars and countless hours on organizing things with files, baskets, shelves, cabinets and those cute crafty inventions on Pinterest (which I nail, by the way ... NOT). Yet as small business owners, our most valuable assets are not the papers on our desk or files on our hard drive, but the things carried in our hearts, souls and bodies: our memories, experiences, ideas, and feelings. How much do we invest in processing and sorting all of that?</p>
<p>In my case, not nearly enough, which is why for years I have felt like I've been pitched overboard into a sea that some days is calm enough to almost let me reach my tropical island, before a wave sucks me under, rakes me across the coral and bounces me offshore. Regimens to fix me are numerous, it would seem, but as mentioned, routine is my sworn enemy and to survive on a writer's budget, I'm cheap. As a result, I need resolutions that are super easy, cost next to nothing, and give me results NOW. Here are my Top 5 resolutions for staying organized and energized this year.��</p>
<p>1. <strong>Breathing.</strong> I know, obvious and overstated. Yet, when I'm overwhelmed or jabbed by a spear of self-doubt, my breathing becomes so constricted and uncommitted that the air I take in could barely keep a bird alive, let alone fuel the brain and body cells I need to do soemthing constructive. Deep breaths: a gift we can give ourselves anytime we need it.��</p>
<p>2. <strong>Water. </strong>Again, I heard this so much I tuned it out, until I tried it. I added five glasses of water to my day: one when I got up, one with each meal, and one before I went to bed. Some days, I found I drank more but even on those days when I didn't want any, I was glad I drank them. I could actually make decisions about what to recycle and what to keep, when I had the liquid fuel I needed on board.��</p>
<p>3. <strong>Art.</strong> A favourite song. Better yet, a whole list of go-to songs for every occasion and mood: for reflecting, for planning, for jumping in and tackling that bloody overstuffed closet once and for all. Add to that a photograph or painting that inspires or transports you to another place, a mini vacation before stepping back into the fray. That quirky little statue on my shelf is there not because it's valuable or even beautiful, but because it reminds me of the tacky Florida gift shop shaped like a wizard where our family had a blast two years ago. We all have these things in our home, our office, our car even, but sometimes forget to let them in and absorb their goodness.��</p>
<p>4. <strong>Plants.</strong> For anyone who knows me, this is hilarious. I've killed everything in the garden, including the plastic stuff. But I'm finding as I become more mindful, I am keeping a plant or two alive, and that's a great feeling. So much of small business ownership is intangible, where you can't see or touch that which you are building, that it's encouraging to witness progress of any kind, whether its a seed sprouting roots or an herb producing enough leaves for dinner. And, if it doesn't work out, compost it, learn from it and start again.��</p>
<p>5. <strong>Time.</strong> 15 minutes. One-quarter of an hour, once a day, all to me, to snuggle in a blanket, meditate, read a chapter, colour a page, or nap. Fifteen minutes is nothing to to the folks out there needing our energy, expertise, and services, but it is an eternity to us: time enough to rest, be thankful, and to dream.</p>
<p>These are simple, which works for me. Self care is not something that I was taught or had modelled for me in my formative years, and as we know, learning things with an adult body and brain has its own set of challenges. I may never graduate from remedial self-help, but after my glass of water this morning I'm pretty sure I can get one more pile in my office sorted. Then who knows? Maybe tomorrow I'll be back to writing Book Five.</p>
<p>Wishing a terrific year to each of you, full of what works for you.</p>
<address>Jennifer Hatt is author of the Finding Maria series.<br/>Read more of her blogs, and about her books, at <a href="http://findingmaria.com/[sitetree_link id=1]" target="_blank">www.FindingMaria.com</a></ad...
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Published on January 05, 2016 05:02 • 4 views

December 18, 2015

<p>�� �� ��I am my father's daughter, a fact that both enriches and terrifies me. This will, however, make me a better writer. Here's how.<br/><img class="left" src="http://findingmaria.com/assets/_resam..." width="150" height="262" alt="" title=""/>First, though, a bit about my dad. He wasn't a writer, he was an electrician by trade, both of us in the business of connecting: his medium was electricity, mine was words. We also didn't realize then, but it is apparent now, that we shared something else: battles with ourselves, ��defining our lives from the time we both could remember. For him, it was being born a gentle, loving soul into a sandpaper world, a determined spirit in a body plagued by childhood illness and chronic pain, a ��life lived, as a result, in the protection of intellect while the spirit starved. On rare days his spirit won, and in those moments anyone in his presence, ever so brief, was made to feel part of something special, warm, aware, trusting in the great potential and unseen of the universe, until intellect would slam shut the door and begin the lockdown anew. His battle ended, I pray, with his passing on Dec. 13, 2015.��<br/>Reflecting on his life and death, however, has kicked my battle into high gear. I possess that same intellect, that same ability to talk myself out of things or even shut myself down rather than risk anything: stage fright as a child so severe that I quit the music I loved altogether at 16, and that by 30 was creeping into my writing as well. Shyness, self-doubt, fear of one's own voice are all butterfly kisses of death to any form of success as a writer. ��<br/>Life is choice. <br/>So, should I ignore my spirit's desire to connect through writing and save myself a lifetime of combat? Or, do I take a breath and dive into the memories, risking pain and drowning to find treasures of knowledge my time with my father has created?<br/>I choose memories. There are thousands upon thousands, so for this first attempt I didn't dive too deeply, and found these five. They came from our epic father-daughter battles, and from the quiet of just sitting together, saying nothing, knowing everything. Some things he taught me about what to do. Some are things I wished could have taught him. <br/>Here they are, five things my father's life teaches me about writing. ��</p>
<p>1. Be fastidious.<br/>This was an endless source of amusement when I was younger, and annoyance in my later years. He would check, recheck, and check again, every little step along the way: burners on the stove, door locks, keys in hand, wallet in pocket ... turning his computer on required the plugging in of two power bars and his monitor, plus the flipping of two switches. therer would be no power getting in or out of there without his say-so. Yet, it was this same attention to detail that saved me on grad night from driving to the wilds of cottage country without a drop of oil in the car, or from overpaying the government three years in a row on my taxes. <br/>In the context of writing, attention to detail can lead to a better quality of product, more efficient service, and benefits to both author and reader: good relationship, more sales, solid reputation ... all great stuff.��</p>
<p>2. Trust YOU.<br/>This is something I wish my father could have learned, but he was raised in an era when trust was to be placed only in the 'professionals': scientists and doctors, for example. As he aged and his health issues multiplied, he placed more and more expectation on the medical system, but didn't realize that in doing so, he was giving away more and more of himself. YOU do not need a degree, certificate, or acceptance letter to tell you who YOU are or what YOU are worth. In the writing world, where there is no clear-cut credential or formula to success, being true to YOU is the first and foremost unique quality YOU bring to the field. Once clear about YOU, then you as writer, publisher, or marketer can get out there and share your authentic story. ��</p>
<p>3. Know your numbers<br/>Okay, chalk another one up to dear old Dad. He spent hours, and I mean hours, at his desk, examining every bill and bank statement, checking his investments and account balances, writing budgets, and managing schedules. If a penny was amiss, he was on the phone or, in recent months, on the computer to identify and remedy the discrepancy. He spent more time in a month on his finances than I did in a year, and since I am a small business owner, that was not overzealousness on his part, but slackness on mine. His being on top of his finances brought he and my mom the simple yet comfortable retirement they wanted, ��a mere pipe dream for most people their age.��<br/>Know Your Numbers is the mantra of every marketing course I have taken, even those course supporting a business model based on personal goals rather than cold hard profits. Numbers are needed for good business decisions. Good decisions lead to success, yes, for writers, too.</p>
<p>4. Build your community.<br/>Another lesson I had little time to impart. My dad was brilliant, charming, and loved, but rarely shared this with the larger world. His comfort zone was doing things completely on his own. Writing may be solitary, but words freeze on the page without support of family and friends, beta readers, editors, mentors, investors, and word of mouth, blog and social media. It's a dangerous world out there, but silence inside is deadly.��</p>
<p>5. Believe <br/>In what? Something.<br/>Marriage is tough, but my parents did it with love for 49 years, because they believed it was their life, the best they could do for their family and each other. We kids and grandkids have to agree: our parents gave us what they could for a good life, and gave us the tools to get what they couldn't - or shouldn't - give us themselves. Throughout the hard work and pain that his life often included, my father always believed in the Golden Rule - Do Unto Others as your would have them Do Unto You. He encouraged his children to be independent, respectful and honest. He challenged institutions to be more humane. He clung to the belief that we as humans could create a better society, even though his intellect churned it into frustration. On a personal note, he always dreamed of visiting the Egyptian pyramids. Hope he's there right now, soaking up all the wonder and energy they represent.<br/>As writers, we believe we have something to say. As published authors we believe what we write is of interest to others. To be successful, we must believe in what we do, absorbing the fear and setbacks and criticism and rejection as energy to move forward rather than recoiling from it. We have to believe the hour spent polishing a sentence, the months spent doing a business plan, the week spent recharging on vacation will pay off.</p>
<p>It has taken me nearly a week to write this. In these hazy days after my father's death I wanted to write, needed to write, but my intellect would have none of it.<span style="color: #666666; font-size: 11px; line-height: 18px;">��</span>I have napped, snacked, paced, tidied, deleted emails, scrolled my timelines back to early fall, and cried. I am still doing all of the above. But one word after another, I have finished this. I am my father's daughter, the light and the dark of him, and I will make the most of the new lives ahead for both of us.��</p>
<p>Thanks for reading,</p>
<p>- Jennifer</p>
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Published on December 18, 2015 05:01 • 3 views

July 6, 2015

<p><img class="left" src="http://findingmaria.com/assets/_resam..." width="200" height="150" alt="" title=""/>Then I spent a week at the Ontario School of Piping, where my name tag distinctly said DRUMMER. Not mother, not writer, but DRUMMER. To be honest, ��I started drumming with our pipe band ��a few years ago to hang with my children. I ended up at this school ��in large part to chaperone my teenaged piper (and carry her instrument, according to her), then signed up for classes to avert the temptation of gadding about Toronto spending money��having fun��while she worked her butt off realizing her dream. Worlds collided in a skirl of drones, snares and clinking bottles as musical callings clad in Highland traditions waged war on my introvert's soul. And it was perfect. Here's why:</p>
<p>�� In addition to awesome instruction that revealed the can-do's for my drumming, I discovered this sparkler of a gem: week-long ��immersion in Highland pipes and drums literally drowns out the rest of the world, giving my brain on one level a rest from routine while allowing other levels to explore and create new connections. ��Among those connections are these little nuggets that work not only for drumming, but writing as well.</p>
<p>1. Ego. Check it at the door if you want to learn or accomplish anything. There is always someone better, and when you become the best, someone is working like crazy to take it away from you. Don't worry about them, but about you: develop your talent to YOUR goals. That's truly being the best.��</p>
<p>2. Give yourself permission to suck. Because on some level you do. As does the little phenom sitting across from you, and the gold medal winner instructing you. We all have something we're good at and something we need to do better. Criticism is like ye olde haggis - sounds frightening and looks God-awful, but nourishes in a way like no other.��</p>
<p>3. We learn better with wine. Or Scotch. Or Diet Coke. Or an herbal tea. Whatever can be shared during Happy Hour, room chats, or pre-dinner mixers, enabling conversations that tell us we're not the only ones feeling awkward or overwhelmed, that offer advice for how to navigate a complex tune, or give a safe space to perform and share. Writing and music practice are solitary pursuits, but they don't have to be solos all the time.��</p>
<p>4. Let it flow. The pen, like a drumstick, is an extension of our arm and our personality. If we're tense or afraid, nothing moves. Relax. Open. Trust. Relax some more. Dropping the stick every now and then is good. It's better than holding on too tightly.��</p>
<p>5. Practice. Remember those grammar exercises from school? ��Spelling tests? Hated then, but appreciated now. Same with drumming. Three minutes is an eternity when��repeating rolls, taps, buzzes... but over time, the connections are made and the notes meld, the words blend ... and music is made.</p>
<p>6. Build up to it. Going from zero to eight hours of writing a day is going to cause aches and strains, just like suddenly drumming for��an afternoon non-stop��when you've barely touched the sticks in months is going to make your muscles and brain feel like road kill in a matter of hours. Start with small measurable daily steps, and when those become comfortable, add more time, speed, or another challenge.��</p>
<p>7. Good food. Recharging from a hard day of work, be it learning left-handed flams or fleshing out a new character, is much easier with a quick tasty filling meal to ease the tummy rumbles. Fresh premade meals or a trusted soul who can whip up some comfort food? They are as valuable as instructors in ensuring the success of any creation.��</p>
<p>8. Be brave. My drumming instructor told me this in an effort to loosen my grip on the sticks. In reality, courage was needed to step into the room at all, with some ��of the best musicians in their field in the world. I could have said I wasn't good enough to be there. But because I went, I learned from them, and now I'm better. Same with writing. Stand in the presence of the greats; if they truly deserve your adoration, they'll welcome the opportunity to share a teachable moment, or two, or 10 ...��</p>
<p>9. Record the experience. Have your camera or phone fully charged and the memory clear. Use audio and/or video to store lessons and performances. Take photos. Write a funny song or poem. Journal. Message others about what you've learned and experienced. Lessons continue long after the schooling ends.</p>
<p>10. Believe in yourself. Own your talent and choose what to do with it. If it's to improve the quality of your work, then invest the time and sweat equity, wholeheartedly. Workshops and lessons to impart wisdom, a few minutes a day, every day to keep the momentum going. You're worth it.��</p>
<p>I will never be a champion musician, but I can be a drummer good enough to enjoy and share the experience. <br/>I may never win a major award, but I can be a writer skilled enough to enjoy and share a good story.<br/>That is what those five days of school taught me. <br/>And, that I should drink more, since relaxation is good for the flow.</p>
<p>You bet I'm going back next year.</p>
<p>Thanks for reading.</p>
<p>Jennifer Hatt is author of the Finding Maria series.<br/><a href="http://findingmaria.com/[sitetree_link id=1]" target="_blank">www.FindingMaria.com</a></p>
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Published on July 06, 2015 03:36 • 11 views

April 28, 2015

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<p><span style="color: #666666; font-size: 11px; line-height: 18px;">I never considered myself to be a poet, but a chance encounter wth a poem I scribbled years ago revealed a future that a decade later is now my present. Poetry was the medium I needed at that moment to preserve something that would be meangingful only after I matured another 10 years. So, why am I not a poet? What is our relationship with poetry, anyway?<br/></span>The great poet Maya Angelou has been quoted as saying, and I paraphrase, we rarely remember what people do, but always remember how they made us feel.<br/>Poetry does much the same thing. The songs we cherish and sing by heart: words by poets. Princess Diana's funeral: Elton John's haunting melody, but his words - 'Goodbye, English Rose,' haunt us more, much more powerful than 'Goodbye, Princess Diana.' Think of John MacCrae and his vision of Flanders Fields. We all have our favourite or inspoirational poems, whether we realize it daily or not. <br/>And the feeling is not always good.<br/>Among my favourite poems - and it feels strange to use the word favourite - is Alden Nowlan's The Bull Moose. Haunting and gruesome is how I would describe it, the story of the senseless torture and death of an animal at the hands of hunters. Many describe it as an analogy of the crucifixion of Christ.<br/>Whatever the interpretation, it is an unmistakeable reminder of the human capacity for darkness, something we cannot afford to forget. Because of the vision it took to write it, the skill it took to narrow the message to an arrow that has pierced my memory since childhood, and the courage it takes me to read it even today, I list this as a favourite, even though I find it difficult to think of it, let alone read. Things that are good for you are not always pleasant, but there is a sense of satisfaction in partaking of them. It is for our own good.<br/>But in the commercial world poetry is too easily dismissed. Its message can require a bit of peeling and simmering in a society that increasingly cooks by opening a can and pushing the start button. Its form is so laden with meaning that it can say in 10 words what it may take us 1000 words to share, and that can reduce its credibility in a society that values quantity over quality, where more is more, and less is just one letter away from lose. Those who know of the challenge shy away, as do those who show it little respect.<br/>A special few hear the call and pursue the craft, putting in hours to play with a single word, but elevating our vision as a result.<br/>A little tidbit about poetry, from BookRiot, a forum and news site for all things books:<br/>Poetry makes up less than 1% of print sales in the United States, but has held steady in the past five years and posted increases in the past two years. </p>
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<p>I wrote poetry in school as did most of us, when pushed by teachers to explore what they knew we would value later in life, butthat we just couldn't see at the time. By high school, my poetic tomes had been reduced to contests between us bratty kids on variations of There Once Was A Man From Venus. Or Nantucket. Or ... You get the idea. The one saving grace of this rather colorful time of life was that writing was still fun, and that element should always be present, or at least no more than an arms reach away. <br/>But the last poetry I wrote, I did in the midst of an overwhelming life change.<br/>Poetry suddenly became for me a funnel, providing a focus to channel the swirl of thoughts and energy, dark and light, into images, and then into words. These words were written for me, then put away and forgotten. In the years following, I would continue unchanged on my track of writing nonfiction for hire, until a few years ago the siren call of creative non-fiction returned, bringing with it a chorus of desire to explore fiction.<br/>Recently I uncovered the poems I had written long ago. Their message held a surprise. They foretold the writing of the book series in which I am now immersed. Those few words, so long forgotten, held fast, and connected two very important chapters in my life.<br/> I'll share one with you now. </p>
<p>Western Sky on the East River</p>
<p>We share a Hollywood story in the comfort of upholstery and popcorn<br/>Then we drive to nature's screen by the riverbank<br/>Cocooned in new car smell and promise<br/>For the greatest show on Earth</p>
<p>We curl up, absorbed in the other as the sun slips away.<br/>The river, now dark, still sings as sweetly.<br/>Wise with years of constant toil, <br/>brimming with news to share</p>
<p>We are born filled to our banks with innocence, trust, wonder<br/>Made to flow as freely as time<br/>Yet our early gifts are rules, fears, orders<br/>And our flow slowly trickles away</p>
<p>Love is the key that gently but firmly<br/>Turns back the clock<br/>To the age of innocence<br/>Releasing the optimism, the courage, the will to stretch for the highest of dreams</p>
<p>Where is this love?<br/>Ask the river. It knows.</p>
<p>We turn to the sunset<br/>And then to the other<br/>Tracing with eyes our silhouettes<br/>Outline of black and a shimmer of colour, outside the lines, just a little.</p>
<p>A gift of the river. It knows.<br/>For like love, it is always here, always flowing.<br/>Beauty, for no cost but a pause, a gaze, an ear.<br/>It knows. Just ask.</p>
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<p>My book series is a Nova Scotia love story, about one man's search for love. His story takes him across North America and Asia, but always back to Nova Scotia, like the tide, seeking ultimately the love that will unlock his age of innocence, and bring him out of the darkness so he can trust, love and again absorb the beauty of the world.<br/>Sound familiar?<br/>Poetry for me provided the forum to capture, retain, and process my early ideas when, firmly in nonfiction,  I had little capacity to process them otherwise. And as it turns out, the unleashing of words was also prophetic ... I didn't know I would go on to write a book series, and be a publisher ...<br/>But the poem, like the river, did. </p>
<p>What could poetry do for you? What has it done for you? I'd love to hear your story.<br/>Thanks for reading, and keep writing.</p>
<p>Jennifer Hatt is author of the Finding Maria series<br/>and a partner in Marechal Media Inc.<br/><a href="http://findingmaria.com/[sitetree_link id=]" target="_blank">www.FindingMaria.com</a></p>
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Published on April 28, 2015 07:32 • 16 views

April 10, 2015

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<p>Well, not a lot. I adore him. He has never even heard of me. But there are three things we share ...</p>
<p>First, the not-a-lot part. Martin Short is rich, famous, and funny. I pay for coffee with change scoured from the couch, have people in my own house ask what my name is again and the last time I told a joke, I heard crickets from as far away as Maine (and I'm in Nova Scotia.)<br/>Yet the awesome Mr. Short and I have three very important things in common.<br/>1. We are both proud Canadians<br/>2. We are both proud parents, each with three children without whom life would not have been near as complete<br/>3. We have seen the power of a story, a life story, to vanquish the shadows of grief and turn a final chapter into the NEXT chapter.<br/>I just finished reading I Must Say, his life story written in collaboration with David Kamp and I must say ... it was fascinating. His trail from middle class Hamilton, Ontario to zany star of the stage, television and silver screens was both blessed and bungled. Sometimes he landed the joke, part or project; sometimes he didn't, usually because of those great mysterious forces that govern studio decisions or audience preferences. There is no explaining it, just dealing with it. And deal he did, hanging in there after every surprise turn and carving both a professional and personal niche in Hollywood society. But amid all the marquis lights and name dropping, one stood out: his wife Nancy, who was by his side for every step, decision, doubt, failure, anxious moment, and gloried award. So much was she a part of his story that ... and <strong>spoiler alert</strong> if you're like me and don't keep up on celebrity news ... it was impossible to believe that she was actually going to die. In fact, on live TV a couple of years later he was quizzed on the secrets to their successful marriage, and what keeps them together.  The interviewer then, as I was while reading it, was oblivious to the fact that Nancy passed, in 2010. Always the gentleman, he didn't correct the host on air, and went on to say the slip wasn't her fault: he still felt married, and still felt his wife's presence in his life. Then in 2014, he released this book, which in its final chapter outlines his plans for shows, tours and other things he will do as he navigates this new phase of life: single again at 60.<br/>Now, I'm not a man of middle age or a widower, but this is where his path and mine align, at least for a time.<br/>The year he lost his wife and the light went out on his life, I was finishing Finding Maria, and turning the light back on for someone who, like Martin, had a life full of work, family, and a wife who kept him grounded and gave him wings.<br/>Until she died, taken suddenly by cancer, just like Nancy. <br/>Years would go by with him functioning but missing something, a part of him in perpetual darkness, until by some circumstance we met, he shared his story, and I became the named writer to get it to print, even though we had worked together for more than a year before I realized the wife he referred to so casually, as a routine part of his life, had passed away years before. As Martin did with the interviewer, this gentleman did with me: held me not responsible for the slip, choosing instead to see that I was reacting to the obvious. His wife was still very much alive in his heart, and a part of his life. So we forged on and five years later, we are business partners and creators of a book series, in which the fourth book - Song of the Lilacs - contains his beloved wife's story. <br/>So often I have asked as our books took form, and again I ask as I finished reading Martin's story:<br/>Why did these two men survive their devoted partners, when so much of their success and joy was entwined with them? The answer is in the writing. <br/>With each memory shared, a piece of a path was revealed; with each sentiment spoken aloud, a glimmer of light emerged. Simply put,  life turned out to be not a random series of events and mistakes, but a journey, with much left for them to explore and share: talent, experience, compassion, wisdom, a sense of fun, and an inner strength revealed only by their survival of a loss so deep. The world needs them, and the process of sharing their stories has helped  pull them from the depths and back, blinking, into the light. <br/>As I said, I don't have a lot in common with the humble legend Martin Short.  <br/>But we do have one connection. The power of the written word.</p>
<p>Thanks for reading.</p>
<p>- Jennifer</p>
<p>Jennifer Hatt is author of the Finding Maria series.<br/>Song of the Lilacs, Books Four, is now available. <a href="http://findingmaria.com/[sitetree_link id=1]" target="_blank">www.FindingMaria.com</a>. </p>
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Published on April 10, 2015 05:47 • 29 views

February 6, 2015

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<p>My love of Star Trek is not pure escape any more. It has taught me about the great unknown that is book marketing. For example:<br/><strong><br/></strong><strong>1. Look big, especially if you're small</strong><br/>  Think of wee Clint Howard's character in The Corbomite Manoeuvre. For those of you who haven't had the pelasure, the Enterprise crew face destruction from a stern, imposing alien. Meeting face-to-face, the crew discover a tiny childlike creature who only wanted some company, using a giant puppet to appear more fearsome. It certainly got their attention.<br/> For authors and publishers promotiong books, our 'imposing alien' is a professional storefront: engaging and efficient website, impressive social media presence, professionally designed and produced print materials, consistent and relevant blog posts ... you get the idea. Today's technology and range of services means our imposing appearance is limited only by our imagination and courage.</p>
<p><strong>2. There is no such thing as no-win</strong><strong><br/></strong>This lesson is courtesy of James T. Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru. To recap, the Kobayashi Maru was a training simulation mandatory for all Starfleet command cadets, programmed to be 'no-win' to gauge their ability to handle inevitable destruction. Kirk was the only cadet to 'beat' the simulation. He tampered with the simulation computer program, offering up as his defence the simple statement: "I don't believe in no-win scenarios." <br/> In the fierce, sometimes all-consuming world of book promotion, we need to be reminded that there is no such thing as no-win. If something looks dire, reprogram the parameters. </p>
<p><strong>3. The Prime Directive is sacred, except when it isn't.</strong><br/> The Prime Directive is the strict Starfleet regulation of non-interference with the evolution of other cultures, a regulation to be upheld at all cost. However, episodes abound in which the Prime Directive is broken, bent, or shaved just a little, because the greater good depended upon it. In other words, sometimes rules are guidelines, or need to be broken altogether. Instinct and circumstance are truly what count. </p>
<p><strong>4. Beware the colour green.</strong><br/> In the Star Trek universe, the green-skinned women are nothing but trouble, the green disrupter fire is deadly and green on your Vulcan officer's tunic means he is bleeding to death. In the universe of book writing and selling, green emerges in the form of jealousy, and that is one monster that needs to be transported off your ship or at least caged where it can do no harm. Being bitter over authors selling more or getting better reviews will set you on your arse faster than a phaser set on stun. </p>
<p><strong>5. Boldly go where no one has gone before.</strong><br/> That mantra has sustained generations of television franchises, movies, books, and fans. Even if you have never heard of Star Trek or have little desire to engage in the fandom, that's what your book does, too: Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before. Your voice is unique. So is your story. That's why you wrote it. Don't stop now.</p>
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Published on February 06, 2015 06:53 • 24 views

February 5, 2015

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<p>My love of Star Trek is not pure escape any more. It has taught me about the great unknown that is book marketing. For example:</p>
<p><strong>1. Look big, especially if you're small</strong><br/>Think of wee Clint Howard's character in The Corbomite Manoeuvre. For those of you who haven't had the pelasure, the Enterprise crew face destruction from a stern, imposing alien. Meeting face-to-face, the crew discover a tiny childlike creature who only wanted some company, using a giant puppet to appear more fearsome. It certainly got their attention.<br/>For authors and publishers promotiong books, our 'imposing alien' is a professional storefront: engaging and efficient website, impressive social media presence, professionally designed and produced print materials, consistent and relevant blog posts ... you get the idea. Today's technology and range of services means our imposing appearance is limited only by our imagination and courage.</p>
<p><strong>2. There is no such thing as no-win</strong><br/>This lesson is courtesy of James T. Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru. To recap, the Kobayashi Maru was a training simulation mandatory for all Starfleet cadets, programmed to be 'no-win' to gauge their ability to handle inevitable destruction. Kirk was the only cadet to 'beat' the simulation. He tampered with the simulation computer program, offering up as his defence the simple statement: "I don't believe in no-win scenarios." <br/>In the fierce, sometimes all-consuming world of book promotion, we need to be reminded that there is no such thing as no-win. If something looks dire, reprogram the parameters. </p>
<p><strong>3. The Prime Directive is sacred, except when it isn't.</strong><br/>The Prime Directive is the strict Starfleet regulation of non-interference with the evolution of other cultures, a regulation to be upheld at all cost. However, episodes abound in which the Prime Directive is broken, bent, or shaved just a little, because the greater good depended upon it. In other words, sometimes rules are guidelines, or need to be broken altogether. Instinct and circumstance are truly what count. </p>
<p><strong>4. Beware the colour green.</strong><br/>In the Star Trek universe, the green-skinned women are nothing but trouble, the green phaser fire is deadly and green on your Vulcan officer's tunic means he is bleeding to death. In the universe of book writing and selling, green emerges in the form of jealousy, and that is one monster that needs to be transported off your ship, or at least caged where it can do no harm. Being bitter over authors selling more or getting better reviews will set you on your arse faster than a phaser set on stun. </p>
<p><strong>5. Boldly go where no one has gone before.</strong><br/>That mantra has sustained generations of television franchises, movies, books, and fans. Even if you have never heard of Star Trek or have little desire to engage in the fandom, that's what your book does, too: Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before. Your voice is unique. So is your story. That's why you wrote it. Don't stop now.</p>
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Published on February 05, 2015 05:47 • 14 views

January 23, 2015

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 It feels like barbed wire across the heart to say goodbye to someone we love. What's stronger than the pain? The memory of how this person made us feel.<br/>  Anyone connected to our Nova Scotia town or East Coast music needs no introduction to Fleur Mainville. But explain her to those who never had the privilege? That's tough. Fiddler, singer, composer, recording artist, teacher, manager of our Farmer's Market ... her CV is pages long, without even touching on her role as wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, role model, community advocate, and divine spirit. She was all of these things and more, not just the sum of her parts but the energy that brought them all to bear. To meet her was to marvel at how she did so many things at once and still managed a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, or one more gig.<br/>   And now that her body has been taken by a rare and virulent cancer, we are left with the barbed wire, grinding into us the awareness of what will be no more - her voice that carried notes of crystal across a background of velvet scores, her ability to coax from four simple strings a tidal wave of delights - knee-slapping reels, fierce stories of battle, winsome laments, intricate sonatas. Her squeals of delight that preceded her all-consuming hugs, her fierce pride in community and passion for the stage, and her investment in the future by passing on her knowledge and her enthusiasm to anyone of any age open to the message. <br/>   As we wade, gasping, through the grief, we are reminded that what made Fleur such a brilliant part of our lives was not her body or her deeds: it was how she made us feel. She had a way of making each of us in her presence feel talented, beautiful, and optimistic, just as she was. We loved her; she loved us first. And now, as we mourn a life gone too soon, we are reminded that throughout our time with her it was much the same. Every gig, meeting, lunch date or evening with her ended with a hint of sadness that begged for one more hour, five more minutes, just a few more words. Now, with her spirit set free, we have all the time in the world with those feelings she evoked in us. We have the memories of our lessons with her, the conversations, the teasing grin, and the warmth she spread from the inside out.<br/>   As I write this my son is preparing for his fiddle lesson - not to take, but to give. His student is age 8, the same age he himself was when he first picked up the fiddle. For half his life Fleur stood over him, then beside him as he grew to her height and then some, imparting her wisdom on trills and rests, then strathspeys and concertos, and finally lesson plans and drills as she nudged him out of her safe harbour and toward his own stage. As he coaches his young student, I hear more than his voice. I hear Fleur's legacy. <br/>   We could not stop the disease that took her in body, but there is no stopping the spirit that will outlast and continue to live us all. The pain will ease for us as it has vanished for her. As  the barbed wire tightens its grip, we can remember this and for me, for a moment, I smile with all my heart.
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Published on January 23, 2015 05:58 • 16 views

January 21, 2015

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<p>  It was a day I was tempted to erase from the calendar. Then a trip to the grocery store changed everything.<br/>  My dad had just been taken to hospital, again, in a city just far enough away to be beyond reach. I had just returned home only a few days before, had rescheduled appointments, needed to try and put in a few hours for pay .... and on and on. I attempted to forge on while I awaited news from Emergency, and checked my list., Buy a thank-you bouquet for a local merchant who went above and beyond in supporting our author and her book sales. I scooted into the supermarket, scanned the floral arrays, and settled on a pot of tulips, just barely beginning to open. I hustled to the checkout, one ear to my phone, a hand on my wallet, as if moving quickly would somehow get this chaotic day over with faster.<br/>  "Aren't these lovely!"  the cashier enthused. Alice, her name tag said. A pleasant lady somewhere between my age and my mom's, I'm guessing. <br/>  Drawn in my her warmth, I smiled and agreed. <br/>  "My husband loved tulips. When he passed away, oh, about 12 years ago now," she paused, bag in midair, then tucked the plant inside, "we had tulips at the funeral home. All kinds of them." She tapped the register keys. "Our best man officiated ... he wasn't a full minister when he married us," she chatted as we waited for my debit card to be approved. "There was one big tulip that wasn't open. But when the minister started the service, it opened. Right then. Just like that." <br/>  I swallowed against the lump in my throat. "That was a beautiful story," I whispered. "What an amazing thing.'<br/>  "Yes, it was," she beamed, handing me my bag. "You have a good day."<br/>  I was now. Even the lump in my throat suddenly became beautiful, a sign that I could be touched by another's words, that I could feel more than resentment and exhaustion.<br/>  That is why we need to share our stories. That is love.</p>
<p>  Thanks for reading.</p>
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Published on January 21, 2015 05:39 • 21 views

January 19, 2015

<p>     I come from a long line of hermits. But there are five ways that can work in my favour.</p>
<p>Like my ancestors, I would rather stick needles in my eyes than step into a crowded room. Then, after years of fighting this to try and market my books - and by extension, myself -  I discovered that my inner hermit could become an ally in the arena of self-promotion. Here are five examples:</p>
<p>1. Seeing and hearing things many others do not notice. At a party, in a classroom, in a lineup at the grocery store: all are great places to hear what folks are chatting about, interested in, and excited by. Without the constant need to talk and interact, a hermit becomes the proverbial fly on the wall, not deliberately eavesdropping but floating on the constant stream of auditory data that, when processed, can give hints for messaging, positioning, and other must-know marketing details. </p>
<p>2. Reading more. To avoid outside contact we will often retreat into the world of books, which is why so many writers are introverts and therefore struggle with this self-promotion thing. However, that avoidance also leads us to <span style="color: #666666; font-size: 11px; line-height: 18px;">study brochures, menus and posters with intense interest, giving clues for </span>phrasing, design, and details that can make a marketing program shine. Better readers make better writers, and better marketers.</p>
<p>3. A quiet social life. Marketing takes time. Lots of it. Very little of it fun or in keeping with what you would do in leisure hours, like hanging with family, having drinks with friends, etc etc. Without the craving for girls' night out every week or daily phone chats with Sis, we hermits have more time to develop our marketing plans, brainstorm our campaigns, flesh out the details, and put ourselves out there to the target audience crowd. There is stress with all that interaction, but no guilt or remorse for missing something 'fun.' </p>
<p>4. Deep feelings. Authenticity is not just a buzzword, it is the cornerstone of our existence, and of sustainable marketing. Hermits often isolate themserlves to avoid being drained by the constant superficial banter, bells and whistles of the world. When we do emerge or share something, the exchange is heartfelt and our audiences come to respect, and then to trust us.</p>
<p>5. Independence. A hermit has no need for outside validation. We are perfetly positioned to do our own thing, be original, and be unique. We do, however, need motivation to engage with a population that most days we would rather hide from, but hey, no one is perfect. </p>
<p>In short, no matter your personality, if you are true to yourself and share yourself authentically, you can be a successful marketer. And after a day of spreading the word you choose to lock the door and curl up with your cat and a good book, you are indeed a person after my own heart. </p>
<p>Thanks for reading.</p>
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Published on January 19, 2015 09:30 • 14 views