Callout for Ongoing Support
Canadians have to learn how to listen to Indigenous people. Right now they are asking us to listen and for our support. Here's what the Unist'ot'en Solidarity Brigade has to say.
“Our people’s belief is that we are part of the land. The land is not separate from us. The land sustains us. And if we don’t take care of her, she won’t be able to sustain us, and we as a generation of people will die.”
– Freda Huson, Unist’ot’en Hereditary Spokesperson
To say Canada has a long and complicated history with indigenous peoples is an understatement. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) reports released in 2015, were a start to educate Canadians about the toll colonialism has had on indigenous peoples. But this is not enough, Canadians need to learn how to listen and support them so that we can move towards reconciliation.
Right now, First Nations are trying to be heard. Across Canada they have united in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en heredity chiefs who oppose the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through their territory in B.C. by setting up railway blockades. The blockades have hit the Canadian economy hard. It would appear that it takes A LOT to get Canada's attention.
But will Canadians finally listen?
How Can We Listen & Take Action to Show Our Support
Government is FINALLY Ready to Talk
Today, February 27th the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs are scheduled to meet with the B.C. provincial and federal governments...I hope the government has learned from past mistakes and their listening skills have improved.
When speaking with clients I am often asked...is reflexology a massage? This is a common misconception. Reflexology and massage are two very different therapeutic treatments. According to The Reflexology Association of Canada, here's how they are different:
Reflexology & Massage
Although different therapies, different is good. Reflexology and massage treatments compliment each other and both can help your health and well-being.
If you are looking for a certified reflexologist,
please click here.
If you are looking for a registered massage therapist,
please click here.
Image Source: drweil.com/nbrefl.com/Reflexology Association of Canada/Canadian Massage Therapy Alliance
A BIG congratulations! You’ve finished your manuscript and now it’s time to look for a publisher. Yikes! Actually…it doesn’t have to be yikes, with a step-by-step query plan in place—what may seem daunting is now a manageable task. To assist you with your quest, I’ve broken the process down into the following steps and added some useful tips to help you find a publisher:
Step#1: Determine your novel’s genre.
Before you send your manuscript out into the world, the foundation of your search is dependent on getting your manuscript into the right hands. Publishers do not accept anything and everything—they specialize in genres. Therefore, you must send your manuscript to a company that publishes materials in the same genre of your work.
When I began my quest, I quickly learned there are A LOT of genres beyond the fiction and non-fiction classification. A small sample of these categories includes: thriller, mystery, romance, gothic, mainstream, literary, commercial, biographical. Perhaps, you already know where you fit and that’s great! But for those who don't, please click here for a list of categories and their definitions.
Step#2: Create a target list.
Research. Research. Research. Create a list of the company’s that publish books like your manuscript and rank them according to their compatibility #1 being a perfect fit and #2 good fit. You can create your list in Word or Excel or whatever platform you like.
One of my favourite strategies to help with this ranking system was to go to the bookstore to see who was publishing work that was like mine. This exercise not only got me away from my desk, I found it inspiring to have a novel like mine in my hand. If you really dig into the book-shelves you soon notice—the same publisher(s) will keep coming up. And, voila these are the publishers you want on your target list.
There are also a variety of tools available to help you with your list. I found The Writer’s Market a valuable resource (US & CDN info) and the Canadian Author’s Association has an extensive listing of Canadian publishers with links to their websites.
And, of course google is your friend…for example, search google for 'UK Publishing Companies' or 'US Publishing Companies.'
Tip: To help with your ranking, peruse through the publishing companies’ book catalogue and their new release sections and ask yourself…do they publish material like mine?
Tip: when you are compiling your list, note what each of the publisher’s submission guidelines are as they do vary from publisher to publisher. For example, your list can be a chart with the following headings: company, rank, submission guidelines.
Step#3: Develop your submission materials.
In the competitive industry of book publishing you must put your best self forward to get noticed. It is critical to take the time to develop an out of this world query letter/email and submission support materials to grab the publisher’s attention. Support materials may include: synopsis, chapter outline, author bio, list of publishing credits.
Tip: Unfortunately, there is not an industry standard re publisher’s submission guidelines. Therefore, you must be careful to ensure you are sending the publisher what they have requested. For example, some publishers will request a short synopsis (1-page) while another publisher may request a long synopsis (5-pages) and another may not want a synopsis. Fortunately, a publisher’s website will have a submission guideline’s page which clearly indicates the materials they want to receive and how they want to receive them be it email, mail or through an online submission form.
Tip: ONLY send publishers what they are asking for. If a publisher has requested the first 20 pages of a novel ONLY send them 20, you are not being helpful by sending them 85 pages. Publisher’s are the experts and they inundated with queries—they know what they want—you don't.
Tip: based on your target list, you have an overview of what submission documents you need to develop. To start the process rolling, rather than develop every document before you even begin the query process you could develop the core requirements (query letter) and send to publisher’s who only require a query and sample pages. And, then develop the outstanding pieces.
Step #4: Keep track of your queries.
I recommend the first wave of queries be sent to your #1 perfect fit publishers, they are after all your best fit therefore, they should be your priority. You can follow up with the second wave of your #2 good fits.
There’s a lot going on…to help keep you organized, I recommend you expand your target chart so that it includes the following information.
This document will be an integral tool during your quest because at any time, in a glance, you will know who your target publishers are and the status for each company query.
The BIG question...Do I need an agent?
I'm sure you're wondering...DO I NEED AN AGENT? Although, an agent's expertise is invaluable and they have access to the big publishers (a BIG bonus indeed), getting an agent can be even more frustrating than getting a publisher. It is VERY competitive therefore, many authors publish their work without one--I did, and according to The Writer's Union of Canada approximately 80% of published Canadian writers do not have an agent.
How do I find an Agent?
If you want to look for an agent WHY NOT?!. I recommend looking for an agent and a publisher at the same time. The same process and tools outlined above can be applied to your search for an agent—you're simply changing your target. Here's some links to help you get started Canadian literary agents and US literary agents. I also found the Agent Query search tool to be very helpful.
To find an agent who is a good fit for your work, look in the author acknowledgement section of novels that are 'similar' to yours. Here, you will find the writer's shout out to their agent. Ta-da this is who you should query.
Be sure to mention that you are querying the agent because of their work with this author. This demonstrates that you have done your homework. Agents like it when you have done your homework and first impressions count in this competitive landscape.
I hope that I've been able to ease some of the yikes out of your mind. Now, for my little pep talk...You've got this! Formulate your plan and proceed confidently. Most important of all... BELIEVE in yourself and your work. Best of luck to you.
Image sources: Google Images and Writer's Edit
Prince Andrew is the Queen's 'Rock'
This headline says it all…Handy Randy Disgraced Prince Andrew has become the Queen's 'rock' during Megxit, royal insiders have revealed.
This is embarrassing. Shame on the UK Sun and the Royal Family for using the Duke and Duchess of Sussex as an opportunity to shed some positive media coverage around Prince Andrew.
Prince Andrew knowingly associated with a convicted pedophile. He expressed no remorse for this association nor did he offer any sympathy to the victims. AND, the Prince is allegedly accused of having sex with an underage girl three times. Now, I have to ask… why on earth are we reading sympathetic newspaper coverage for this man?
Shouldn't the Prince Be Hiding Under a Rock
Here’s a couple of my favourite lines from The Sun's article on January 19th; I’ve underlined the backhanded slaps that executive editor Dan Wooten has managed to slide in at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s expense.
The ONLY information I want to read about Prince Andrew is that he is cooperating with the FBI in their investigation. I don’t care that Prince Andrew attends church with his mother. I don’t care that he’s “immensely loyal.” I don’t care that he’s a “team player" because he was in Navy. This is embarrassing.
Can someone please explain to me how Prince Harry and Meghan Markle asking for independence and privacy is more scandalous than Prince Andrew associating with a pedophile? It's a good thing the British media insists that their coverage of the Sussexes has been fair.
Australian Bush Fires are the Priority
I wanted to kick the new year off with a 'positive' post because I love the start of a new year. To me, it's a fresh start and an opportunity to get it together. So on January 1, I always write down my goals for the upcoming year because I believe if they are written down they are more likely to happen. I will confess, many of the goals are the same...healthy mind and healthy body. But, some are new such as publish a travel article and I find this is exciting.
But before I sat down to compose a resolution post, I just happened to make a little detour to Facebook because I wanted to send my cousin birthday greetings. Of course, I was easily diverted to my friends posts and one in particular grabbed my attention. When I was in India, I had the pleasure of meeting a fantastic women from Australia and her post broke my heart.
I have been losing sleep (seriously) over the wildfires that are currently blazing in Australia. Any time there is a fire, my thoughts rest with all who are impacted--this includes the animals. Especially the animals. This is why her post hit me so hard. She posted about the impact on the animals and how many are so burned they cannot be saved. One of her friends commented about people who had returned to homes beside the national parks and they can hear the cries of the injured animals from inside the park. I can't even write about the animals crying without bursting into tears. The suffering is unimaginable.
The Damage is Far From Over
Summer is just beginning in Australia and here's the damage thus far:
How Can We Help
I am all for saving the caribou, but I question the tactic of killing one species to save another. Is this conservation?
It's been almost five years since I signed a petition to stop the wolf cull in B.C. It turned my stomach then, and it turns my stomach even more now as I had hoped the B.C. government would not continue such an inhumane practice. I was wrong.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is proposing to extend the wolf cull; killing 80% of the population in central B.C.
According to University of Alberta biologist Stan Boutin who has studied caribou herds and predator management there has been some success in stabilizing the herds, since the cull's inception. But...to save the caribou the cull would have to continue for the 'long haul.' "As soon as you stop the cull, wolf numbers come right back up to what they were before, and caribou populations decline again," Boutin said.
I am sorry, this is an unacceptable approach to conservation. I do not understand why wolves are being culled when there has not been any changes to the human activity, which has led to the deterioration of the caribou's natural habitat in the first place. There's still logging, resource extraction, road building...human activity is the root cause of the decline of the caribou NOT wolves yet, this business as usual, comes at the expense of the wolf population.
In the effort of conservation (ah hum), to date, more than 700 wolves have been killed (unacceptable!). I'd also like to know...Wolves are an integral part of an ecosystem...so what are the repercussions to an ecosystem when one of its species is drastically reduced as this wolf cull extension plan will do?
Pacific Wild has been working hard to try and save the B.C. wolves. Here's a link to their petition.
The Honeymoon's Over
What began as a ‘beautiful’ relationship—where the victim felt safe and loved in a way that they had never felt before—suddenly crumbles, the deception is over, and the nightmare begins. The honeymoon phase of a trafficked victim can be over in a matter of days. Yes, it’s that quick to be lured into ‘The Game’ and the game is all about control. Who has it and who doesn’t—it’s the loss of control for the victim and the traffickers gain of control over them.
When a victim is under the trafficker’s control, the trafficker dictates ALL aspects of their life—when they sleep, how long they sleep, when they eat, what they eat, when they shower, what they wear, how they do their hair to the colour of their nail polish. And, they certainly did not have any control over who they have sex with, what services they provide, nor do they get to keep any of the money they have earned. While the pimps drive around in Lamborghinis and Maseratis the victims are fed one meal a day.
The Game is beyond cruel and its victims are often played off each other. All the victim wants is love and security, so pimps give favour to the person who makes the most money for them. Driven by the need for affection, the victims work hard to out service each other for additional time with their pimp or as the victims see him—their boy friend. Because they believe they are in a relationship with someone who cares about them many of the individuals who are trafficked don’t know they’re victims.
In the beginning of the Beaten, Branded, Bought and Sold clip, the male speaking about 'The Game's is one of its players, convicted pimp Matthew Deiaco. The victims share their stories about what it's like to be in The Game.
In depth victim's story.
Dispelling the myth.
One of the common myths believed by those not playing The Game is that because an individual is not forcibly confined, they can leave. We should know by now that things are NEVER that simple. When an individual is entrenched in the trafficking world the victim feels they have no choice. They’re afraid for their family and loved ones, of being beaten, burnt. They’re ashamed. They have nowhere to go.
According to the RCMP,
Why don’t they just leave? Victims may:
What can you do?
Do you remember when your writing was going well?
Thoughts were pouring out of your head so fast your fingers could hardly keep up. You were in the zone. Your fingers were flying across the keyboard—words, sentences, paragraphs, pages upon pages of inspiration was falling out and you’d caught it all. And then, came that beautiful moment after the flood, tired hands resting on the keyboard and you thought…WOW! Where did that come from? That was awesome. I am BRILLIANT.
As a writer, there is nothing more exhilarating when inspiration is flowing. The brain adrenaline high is fantastic. But, unfortunately, much like after eating copious amounts of sugar, it can followed by a crash...when future sessions at your desk are a little light on the brilliance and heavy on the crap.
Bring Back the Brilliance
When you find yourself smack in the middle of a creative drought, there are days when you are ‘tasked,’ and I do mean tasked with writing—it becomes a chore to pull out the words. So, what do you do?
Perhaps, you venture online…check the weather 4 times an hour, peruse Lainey Gossip for the latest update on Baby Sussex and then you pop on YouTube to find yourself some chakra cleansing, meditative, stress relieving music to put yourself back in the zone. Does it work?
I’d love to say yes! every time I’m in a rut all it takes is a weather update, some inspirational music and a hit of pop culture, but I’d be lying. The reality is more of a two-part answer.
The Reality Check-In
Tackling the Big Stuff
Sometimes, these writing ruts will last a few hours, days or longer. Regardless, of the duration they are painful. To help pull yourself out of these biggie droughts the most important thing is to…BE KIND TO YOURSELF. We are not kind to ourselves. We kick ourselves when we’re already down. We curse our lack of brain power. We heap on the pressure to try and get the creative flow going. These cruel knocks aimed at our resting creative spirit do nothing for productivity in fact, they hamper it.
Three Steps to Get Out of that Rut
OMG…thanks for that?!!!??? (not). How the heck am I supposed to be kind to myself? My response is this...may I recommend the following 3 steps to self-kindness:
Step#1: Add a little sunshine.
To create a little joy and reduce the stress in your life try to incorporate as many of the following elements—spend time outdoors, pretty-up your work space with flowers or something that makes you smile, exercise, eat well, free write, listen to music, dance, read, talk with other artists, attend a community theater performance, host an artist talk, join a book club, listen to other artist’s podcasts and TED talks. This step should be ongoing. The key is to feed your happiness which in turn fuels your creativity.
Step#2: Give yourself a mantra.
Mine is…I am. I can and I will. Place your mantra on your desk. It doesn’t have to be framed; it can be as simple as a yellow post-it-note—as long as this little reminder is located somewhere you can see it everyday. Kick start your day by saying your mantra out loud firmly 3 times. Still not feeling it? Write out your mantra 10 times. Frequency of saying/writing will help you believe in yourself and your abilities.
Step #3: Shut down that pesky little voice that’s dragging you down.
Catch your negative thoughts as they fall out and reframe them as an affirmation. For example, turn This writing is terrible, why do I even bother? into Everything I write will not be brilliant but this is great practice. The brilliance will come. The more you do this the easier it gets. Reframing your mindset injects positivity which in turn lifts you up.
The art of practicing self-kindness is a process and once you dig in your writing mojo will come back. You will be in the zone and your fingers will once again be flying across the keyboard.
What helps you get out of a creative funk?
I thought the sale of human beings ended with the abolishment of slavery in the 1800’s. I was wrong. The sale of humans continues and has been deemed the slave trade of the 21st century.
I thought human trafficking was a European and developing world problem. I was wrong. According to the United Nations virtually EVERY country in the world is impacted and this includes Canada.
I thought in Canada, the sale of human beings involved foreigners who were falsely lured to Canada for a job. I was wrong. 90% of victims are Canadian born. 50% are indigenous.
I’m wrong A LOT.
The sale of human beings is a global problem and the scale of its growth is alarming—it’s the fastest growing industry in the world. This fact does not restore my faith in humanity. Like many, I cannot imagine inflicting such cruelty on another human being. But for organized crime, small family criminal groups and independents it’s all about money. Unlike drugs which are gone as soon as they’re sniffed up a nose or shot up the arm, a person can be sold over, and over again. It’s all about money.
What's being done?
Police and community associations have been tackling this issue for years and fortunately, human trafficking is slowing starting to be on the public’s radar, but it still has a long way to go. Part of the engagement strategy of anti-trafficking non-profits such Polaris and ECPAT-USA, is to enlist the support of organizations who are unwillingly part of the trafficking chain.
According to Detective Sargent Tramontozzi, head of Toronto’s sex crimes unit, “90% of human trafficking, if not more, occur in or involve a hotel.” As hotels are the ‘preferred venues’ for traffickers, hotel chains such as the Marriott are starting to train their employees to spot human trafficking and internal procedures are in place for reporting to the authorities. To date, Marriott has trained over 500,00 employees worldwide. Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham are also on board.
Tony Elenis, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, is also passionate about combatting human trafficking. The association distributes a list of human-trafficking indicators to hotel management, so that they can share with staff.
In December 2018, Toronto Crime Stoppers partnered up with Uber the ride-hailing app. Their drivers have also been mobilized to spot the signs of trafficking and are committed to help end the transportation of trafficked people.
The anti-human trafficking awareness campaigns have gained some momentum but what can the rest of us do? Well, we can talk about this issue to colleagues, friends and family members, we can write our local member of parliament to see what is being done to resolve this issue and, we can recognize the signs. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), there are very few clear black and white indicators of human trafficking it’s usually a combination of the following indicators:
How would I recognize a victim?
Where would I find...
A victim who has been trafficked for sexual exploitation?
Victims may be found anywhere in Canada. Some basic examples include:
A victim who has been trafficked for forced labour?
Victims can be found anywhere in Canada. Some basic examples include:
What can I do?
I don't want to be wrong about the abolishment of slavery. For once, I would like to be right…let's work together to generate awareness about this horrific crime. Talk about it. Tell someone what's happening in our backyard.
Should you suspect an individual is being trafficked, the police urge the public not to take matters in their own hands and to contact them or Crime Stoppers: 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).