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Archive for June, 2012

On Being In Between

There are so many things that came to mind when I wrote the title for this blog post. I think we spend so much of our lives en route from one place to another, one stage to another, one goal to another, that “in between” is a fairly common state of being for most of us. But the in between I want to talk about today is being twelve.

Remember twelve? Not a little kid anymore but not yet a teenager. 

Twelve, it turns out now that my own kid is there, is just as challenging today as it was when I knew just how many months it was until I was officially a teen.

This post, though, isn’t philosophical, but practical. because there are two areas in particular that we’re finding even harder than they were when I was twelve: clothes and books. I’m hoping maybe someone out there has some suggestions.

Like her friends, my twelve-year-old has her own sense of style. She knows what she likes and is very clear on what she doesn’t. The problem is, there is almost nothing for her to choose from, and not in a picky way, but a literal one. Style-wise, she’s too old for the kids’ stores, and what little might be appropriate of the stock in stores geared to young adults is almost all too big for her still. We can spend an afternoon shopping and find nothing for her to try on that’s even close to right for her, let alone anything to buy. (We did just this yesterday.) The tween market is huge, and they have money to spend. They’re outgrowing their clothes faster than we can keep up with, especially given the lack of stock to choose from. Why are retailers missing out on this goldmine? Or maybe it’s us. Please tell me we’re missing something and you know of a great place to get age-appropriate, well-fitting, cool clothes for girls that won’t bankrupt us. Anyone?

Books are another issue. My girl is a reader. She stays up later than she should nearly every night because she gets lost in a book, and there’s nothing she likes better than a lazy weekend morning when she can stay in bed reading for hours. A trip intoVancouver inevitably includes a stop at the “good” Chapters, where she can usually find a book or several. But it’s becoming harder and harder to find books for her the more she depletes the available stock. Here’s the thing: she doesn’t like fantasy. Have you looked at the teen shelves lately? Admittedly, she’s a bit picky about her books (aren’t we all?). But what she most likes to read is contemporary fiction about girls her age or a bit older than she is. Not historical or mysteries or fantasy or magic or, heaven forbid, vampires. She’s outgrown and/or read most of the contemporary stuff in the 9-12 section, but isn’t quite ready for the teen contemporary fiction with protagonists who are finishing high school, having sex, dealing with grown-up stuff. She’s read a few that skirt the edge of that, but isn’t there yet. She chooses her own books and put down at least ten at Chapters yesterday after reading the back because they felt “too old”.

She does occasionally branch out from her favourite genre. She loved Hunger Games and Eric Walters’s We All Fall Down. But what she’s drawn to in the bookstore is Susin Nielsen’s Dear George Clooney, books by Julia DeVillers and Joanna Philbin to name a couple I can think of off the top of my head. She likes series about dancers and camp and that kind of stuff.

Any thoughts on great contemporary young teen fiction that might suit her?

Thanks for any thoughts you may have on this!

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It’s a sleepy kind of day here, absolutely pouring rain, cold and grey, more like March than June, even here in the urban rainforest where I live. I’m feeling unproductive, so in a bid to get something useful done, I’m closing some links on my poor, overtaxed computer, the ones I’ve kept open with the intention of sharing. So today, I’ll share!

I’ve happened across quite a bit lately on responding to reviews. Here, a brilliant bit of perspective from author Beth Revis on handling negative ones: http://bethrevis.blogspot.ca/2012/05/how-to-respond-to-negative-reviews.html

Eileen Cook shares her own feelings about reviews on her blog: http://www.eileencook.com/blog/?p=3238

Changing gears completely, one of my favourite photographers, Steve Carter, shares a few panoramic shots of some incredibly beautiful places here: http://www.stevecarter.com/random/panoramics.htm

These next couple you’ll already have seen if you follow the blog at siwc.ca, but in case you missed them:

My friend Tyner has copies of his first published book in his hands. His take on the first book process here: http://tynergillies.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/first-time-novel-experience/

Writer Ginger Calem shares her story of achieving a goal, including an encouter with writer Jo Beverley: http://gingercalem.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/writersbutt-goes-international/

And lastly, the world lost writer Ray Bradbury this week. Whether you’re a Bradbury fan or not, if you’re a book lover, Nephele Tempest’s post is well worth a read: http://knightagency.net/2012/06/the-books-that-make-us/

Two posts in one week… don’t know if I can keep up this pace, but I’ll try! More soon, with any luck.

 

 

 

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I don’t have a dedicated office. I have instead a variety of spaces in my house where I can work: a desk in the middle of my kitchen, a guest room where I can sit on the bed with my laptop for a change of scene, an elliptical trainer where I have Skype meetings and catch up on reading email and blogs, and a favourite spot in my living room where I spend the bulk of my working hours. 

Whether it is the lack of a space specifcially dedicated to work or simply that my home also contains all the distractions and procrastination triggers everyone else’s does, some days there is nothing as unproductive as attempting to work there. 

It’s too easy at home, in the place where I do most of my paid work, to get caught up in the minutae of not wholly necessary bits and pieces of that job when I could be writing. It’s easier still to be conscious, even if I don’t do anything about it, of all the stuff that needs doing around the house, making it difficult to get lost in the world of words.

On days like that, when two hours have disappeared and I’ve done nothing more productive than check email and Twitter, rinse, and repeat, I know it’s time for a change of scene. And when I realize it’s one of those sorts of days before I completely blow the available time, I decamp and head for one of several branches of my favourite coffee shop. 

There, armed with my $5 hot chocolate or a cup of tea, surrounded by space I’m not responsible for cleaning, chatter I’m not responsible for listening to (except as an eavesdropper) and sights and sounds that are simply different from the ones at home, I write. The change of scene inevitably does my writing, and me, a lot of good. For the price of a beverage, I get a fresh perspective on the day and, often, on whatever I’m working on, and, more importantly, I simply get words. Rarely is the coffee shop writing session a bust, something I can’t say for writing at home on days like that.

I know for some writers, coffee shops are all about procrastination and the appearance of being a writer, a treat of time wasted instead of work done, but for me, some of my most productive hours are spent with the hiss of the milk steamer and multi-lingual conversations as part of the soundtrack of my day.

And coffee shops always have better people watching than my empty house, too.

Where do the words flow best for you?

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