Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Sunny Day

Just now, sitting on the back stoop, arms resting on my knees, dog snug against my leg, on a bright day that is now waning into late afternoon.

It's warm compared to yesterday, but anything's warm compared to that: -13C (8.6F). I had refused to turn up the thermostat (because it's October, damnit) and so spent the day shivering. We hooked up the electric blanket and went to bed at 9 o'clock, blocks of ice shaped like feet bumping into each other, yelps to "get over on your own side" in a bed the size of a football field. I don't like complaining about the cold because local folks can hardly wait to see how "the new people from Ontario" will cope with north Alberta's aptly named Cold Lake. We know cold, though. Both of us are hardy crops. The thing is, we're used to a woodstove, where you ignite a few sticks of maple and bake yourself down to your summer underwear faster than it takes to make porridge. The furnace here heats the air, not the house, and, the minute it shuts off, cold gels all feeling left in those icicles we once called toes.

The fighter jets drone overhead. Sleek bees with needlepoint noses. Incessantly practising to save the world.

Inside, I hear my coffee's ready.

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Not Hallowe'en That's Freaking Me Out

National Novel Writing Month starts this Friday and I'm scared out of my freakin' mind. Honestly, I haven't done any serious writing since who-the-feck-knows and I'm terrified I've forgotten how. Don't scoff – writing is like marathon running. Well, I think it is, not actually being a runner and getting winded when I make the way down the Twizzler aisle at Walmart.

Seriously though, writing is like any kind of training – the more you do, the easier it gets, and the better it gets. I did Nano two years ago (it's when I did the majority of writing for Green Eggs & Weezie) and I remember colleague Mark Kerstetter commenting that he could tell I had been doing some intensive writing because even my blog posts showed some powerfully buff writing muscles. Well, he said something like that. I forget exactly, but the point is he wrote that two years ago and his words still ring in my head, not only as a compliment but as a warning that my writing muscles are now as flabby as their owner.

Still, I'm not going to let that get me down. I am going to write at least 50,000 words during Nano. I will. I make that pledge to you and to myself this very moment. I will persevere. I have to. Because now, at the ripe old age of 53, I am finally starting to think of myself as a Writer. I've been playing around with it my whole darned life but I've never fully accepted it as a description that belongs fully to me. Yes, I wrote as a journalist. Yes, I blog and write short stories. And yeah, I finally realized my lifelong dream and finished an entire book. Still, I was sort of mincing around the title of Writer.

Not now, though. It's do or die for me. I've practically accepted the fact that nobody wants to hire a fat, grey-haired old broad anymore. No, don't scoff – it's true. I've tried. Wait until you're 53 or older and suddenly your old field of endeavour doesn't exist anymore (graphic design in newspapers is almost entirely done in India) and your experience doesn't apply anywhere else. I've tried applying at sign companies and for social media jobs and they've hired youngsters. Nobody wants to invest in a grey-hair. We think we know everything. We want to be paid too much. And, who knows, we could die at any moment so why invest training if we're just gonna pop off one night? Yes, I could work at Walmart. Or the grocery store – IF I didn't have such bad knees. Seriously, I couldn't stand behind the till for more than 20 minutes without crying in pain. Granted, I could lose weight and fix my knees and get a job at Canadian Tire, but why would I? For minimum wage? And be unhappy?

I'm lucky right now. Dave makes just enough money to support us both. You don't have to tell me to be grateful, because I am. This is an opportunity. The opportunity I've been wishing for my whole life. I can be a Writer. Now all I have to do is write. Oh, Nano, you're scaring the crap outta me. But I need you like an alkie needs a bottle of Listerine.


I was intrigued by a comment on yesterday's post from author River Fairchild who wrote: Cathy, published is published. It doesn't matter who published it. You are a business. You are not only a writer, but also a publisher.

She's right. It doesn't matter if you're self-published or published by Harper Collins. But there I was at a party denigrating myself, saying that I was "only" a self-published author. Yeah, I know. It's ridiculous. I know that it's almost impossible to get a traditional publishing contract when publishing companies and bookstores are going bankrupt. I know that e-books are the wave of, not only the future, but NOW. Because I'm also a reader, I know that self-published books are every bit as good as the other ones. I know this. I do. But I have to start owning it.

River is right. (If you know her, you know River is always right.)

I am an author. Period.


Speaking of authors, Marian Allen at Fantasies, Mysteries, Comedies and Recipes invited me to do a guest spot at her blog. (Thanks Marian! *waves*) Please, if you have a moment, drop by and leave a comment. So far I'm the only commenter - I'm beginning to think I drive people away in droves! Just the mere mention of MY BOOK sends 'em a-running! I do understand that you're sick of hearing about me and my book. It's just that it's the biggest thing going on in my life right now. Not working has limited my blogging experience. I find that I have three things to write about: my book, my dog's butt hole and cleaning kitty litter. I think I'll dress up as MY BOOK for Hallowe'en. That'll scare the little feckers who dare come to my door!

So go see Marian. Way you go, Alex ... yup, you too, William and EC. Delores and Deb, stop stalling. JoJo, step away from your sick couch. Geez you guys, somebody give Buzzard and Buttons and Karen a shove, will ya? And stop trampling on Juli, Dana, Deb and Linda!


One more thing - congratulations are in order for Madeline Mora-Summonte at Shellshank Redemption who has just today released her first book! Love the cover. Love the title. And the stories are fabulous – I just downloaded People We Used To Be this morning and already I'm halfway through.

If you buy her book (it's only a buck) and you love it (because you will), don't forget to leave a review on Amazon. It really helps other people decide whether or not to buy it.

Best of luck Madeline! So happy for you!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Freakin' Amateurs

I am such a dumb-ass. Yesterday I was at the neighbour's for one of those kitchen parties (you know, with the utensils that cost more than a trip around the fecking world). My neighbour, who is sweet, introduced me to everyone as a "published author" and I modestly explained that my real last name is Atwood, which made them look at me like a bug, and then I said, "no, no, I'm a self-published author and everyone looked relieved because they weren't in the presence of greatness after all.

The sales lady asked me if I had my book edited and I said, well, yes, I have writer friends who edited it for me to which she replied, "I have a friend who self-published a book," and she proceeded to tell me that the book wasn't all that interesting and was absolutely full of spelling errors.

"Huh," I said, because I didn't know what else to say. I'll tell you what I was thinking, though. I was thinking, smugly, that my book is almost typo-free. I was thinking that her friend must be a fecking AMATEUR to put out a book with so many typos. I was feeling all, uppity about my typo-free self.

I will concede that there may be the odd mistake here or there, because nobody's perfect, but I am confident there are very few spelling mistakes in Green Eggs & Weezie, thanks to the eagle eyes of a whole bunch of my editing buddies.

So I looked at her, and smiled graciously, and thought how freakin' fantastic I am compared to her poor spelling-challenged friend.

Pride always goeth before a fall, yes it does.

Last night I was pleased to discover Amazon.com had released the paperback version of my book.  I was all, like, hooting and happy, going over the amazingly professional blurb that I had written for the back cover and then used as a promo to sell the darned thing. This is what I wrote:

Down-to-earth, darkly humorous and wise, Cathy Olliffe-Webster’s debut novel, Green Eggs & Weezie, casts a wry eye over what can happen when even the best marriages go bad. Through the beguilingly earthy Weezie Polk we learn that it’s not a good idea to whack a cheating husband with a Dr. Seuss book; that Anthony Bandero has nothing to do with a Brazilian wax; and that it’s never a good idea to pee your pants in jail.

Anthony Bandero.

ANTHONY BANDERO? Who the feck is Anthony Bandero????

My blood ran cold. I had meant to write ANTONIO BANDERAS, you know, the famous Latin heart-throb and all-round stud-muffin actor, and yet, in a moment of absolute idiocy, I had spelled his name COMPLETELY WRONG, thought it looked just fine in editing and then, not only put it on the promo, but also had illustrator Steven Novak put it on the back cover!

Yep, uppity me, typo-free since never.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hey! I'm Over Here!

Squee! Come visit me  today over at my bloggy pal Delores' place, Under the Porch Light, where I'm spilling my guts and Delores is passing Kleenex for nose-blowing purposes.

Did I mention that when I blow my nose it sounds exactly like those noisemakers on New Year's Eve?

Yeah ... Not proud of that. But I AM proud of hanging with Delores, so drop by, ok?

Oh, and bring coffee and doughnuts. Delores didn't have time to shop!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What Does This Remind You Of?

I was watching Dave build a fenced run for the Misty-dog today, you know so bigger dogs won't come along and eat her while she's trying to poo, and also so I won't have to stare at her bum hole all day.

This is a good thing, although I fear the lack of bum hole observation will mean I will have nothing left to blog about. You know, besides my BOOK and I'm darned sure you're sick to absolute fecking DEATH of hearing about THAT.

So anyway, I was sitting on my double-wide arse watching my man work (as I am wont to do) and I noticed the fencing material lying in the grass and I thought, huh, that reminds me of something. I thought about it for a few minutes and then realized what it was.

You know how you haven't shaved your legs for a month and you put on pantyhose and the hair sticks out?

Yeah. Just like that.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tell Two Friends - And So On, And So On ...

I don't really know how to market my book. I mean, I know. It's all laid out there on the world wide web. But other than throwing myself at people in the grocery store and yelling READ MY NOVEL, I'm not sure how to reach the vast jillions of people out there.

I am, however, reading a book called Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle and it's helping me make sense of the ordeal that marketing an indie novel seems to be. It's not a how-to book, but it does lay out the experiences of authors from around the world. Some of them are published the traditional way; some are published through small presses; and some are entrepreneurs, completely self-published (like me).

I'm really enjoying the read. It gives me energy and, more importantly, hope. If you're a writer, any kind of writer, I recommend you give it a look. It cost me one whole buck on Amazon – and it could be the best buck you ever spend.

Still, I honestly believe the best way to market anything is through word of mouth. A couple years ago I was at my friend Tammy's for a visit and she started talking about some book called 50 Shades of Grey that had her absolutely hooked. "You HAVE to read this," she said. "I just can't put it down!"

Believe it or not I had never heard of 50 Shades until Tammy mentioned it. And because I love Tammy, I bought the book. I wonder how many copies of that infamous book were recommended exactly the same way?

I guess that's why I mentioned Indiestructible to you. Maybe I'm not over at your house, comfortably settled into a lawn chair with a Diet Coke, chatting about a great new book and waiting for the men to grill a few steaks. Maybe this is the best we can do, at least for now.

By the way, I just finished reading Stephen King's new novel, Doctor Sleep. For the first three-quarters, I was like, meh, it's merely OK. But as I reached the finish line King showed that he has still got it, in every conceivable way. When I finished the book I bawled like a baby, such was the emotional wallop that story packed. Like Tammy once said, "You HAVE to read it!" But since Stephen King has a few dollars and readers more than me, I suggest you read Green Eggs & Weezie first. :) And then tell two friends, just like this Heather Locklear Fabergé ad from the '80s:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Too Much Walking Dead?

I had the weirdest dream last night. My father had died and we were all at the funeral home, when Dad sat up in his coffin. He wasn't all zombified or gross or anything. Just confused. We told him to lie down, but he wasn't having it. So we helped him up and he shambled around the funeral home, then down the street, then back home. We didn't have the heart to tell him he was dead – I mean, how do you break that to someone? Awkward, right?

It reminded me of a story Dave likes to tell. His parents used to butcher their own chickens and it's apparently true that when you chop off the head of a chicken it continues to run around the yard for a bit. This one day their friends were over visiting and for some reason they were watching Dave's dad kill chickens. Maybe there was nothing on TV, who knows. It's not my idea of a good time, watching someone kill chickens, but hey, if it floats your boat ...

Well, this one hen lost her head then ran, spurting blood, over to the visitors, where she proceeded to corner the woman against a fence.

"Get it away!" she screeched. The woman, not the hen. "Do something! Kill it!"

"It's already dead!" howled Dave's father. "What more can I do????"

Last I saw my dead dad he was sitting on the couch, watching the news.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exciting News: I Had A Bath

Feeling good today! Got lots done, including:

1. Cleaning out the kitty truffles. This is more satisfying than it sounds. I do it every day but occasionally I miss and on those days I genuinely miss sitting on the floor next to the putrid pans full of chocolatey pudding pops. I like digging through the dirt, looking for truffles. It's like mining for gold, or playing in a sandbox. (That's one of the truffle-donaters in the pic, my toothless little crooked-face stinky-pot, Ben-Ben.)

2. Having a bath. I needed one. Especially after looking after item #1. It's hard to keep your elbows and droopy parts out of the truffle bowl. (Note to self: wear bra next time.)

3. Outlining my next novel. YES! I did this! After a few weeks of just thinking about book two, I actually sat down with pen and paper in hand. Even better, said paper and pen were gifts from the lovely lassies in my Muskoka writing circle. I have lots more outlining to do before National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) starts November 1, but at least I'm finally getting my game on. For those who don't know about Nanowrimo, it's an international festivus of writers who vow to write 50,000 words (or the better part of a novel) in the month of November. I took part a couple of years ago and it was the impetus and discipline I needed to write Green Eggs & Weezie. Anyone can take part. Always wanted to write a book? Now's your chance!

4. Opening a Twitter account. I used to be a Twit (some will argue I still am) but I closed my account after it was hacked. (Bah.) I've tried to look up my old writing buddies but if I missed you, let me know and I'll give you a follow!

5. Spamming everyone on Facebook and Twitter about Weezie. Heh-heh. Sorry. But I just HAD to tell everyone about the awesome-sauce article about Green Eggs & Weezie in the Almaguin News today! (Click here to admire its awesome-sauceness!)

6. Thanking Kristy from Ramblings of a Mad Woman and EvalinaMaria of This and That for posting about Weezie. Wow. I'm touched. Sincerely. You guys are so amazing. If I can ever return the favour for you, please let me know. oxox

7. Talking to my dear old friend Vic on the phone. Vic is an amazing pal who lives in my hometown. We talk once a week, usually for at least an hour (!), and she makes me laugh until my sides hurt. Usually I'm not much of a phone-talker. I'd rather get face time, if that's at all possible, but when I see it's Vic's number calling, I go put on the coffee and settle in for a good yak.

8. Watching the dog's bum hole. You knew I was gonna say that, right? Didn't want to disappoint...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Weezie And World Domination

I've been busier than a two-peckered rooster in a henhouse these last few days, what with celebrating yet another fecking birthday (yup, another year closer to wearing a tombstone on my head – and I thought I was having a bad hair day already), putting on an ab-fab Thanksgiving spread and obsessively checking my book stats.

It's the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night, and yes, it's the thing I do all day long, you know, when I'm not watching my dog's bum hole. Stats, bum hole. Bum hole, stats.

In the first few days after I released Green Eggs & Weezie, my book sold like silicone in Beverley Hills. In fact, it sold so well that it made #25 on the the Amazon.ca bestseller in fiction and literature list. I kid you not! But let's be real – that was only, like, 10 books. Apparently in Canada it only takes 10 books to be a bestselling author, but of course only 12 people live here. In igloos.

Alas, when all my friends and family finished buying their books, Weezie slid off the bestseller list and into the absolute obscurity of #1,950 in Canada and #130,975 in America. I haven't sold any books anywhere else. I can't imagine why non-English-speaking people in Japan and France haven't picked up my book. And I was sure there would be a rush on it in Denmark.

As of this morning, I've sold 51 books. Fifty-one! I'm RICH! heheheh... Seriously, that makes me happy. It does. And I am grateful to each and every one of you who bought one. THANK YOU dear hearts! It's a blessed wonder to have such friends!

Now the problem is, I'm outta friends. How is Weezie supposed to secure World Domination now???? I frankly have no idea. Do you? Seriously, any ideas for spreading the word on ol' Weezie-pants? I could use some advice. Oh, and if you feel the need to buy a book, here's some links:






For now, Green Eggs & Weezie is only available as an e-book. I'm thinking about making it available as an actual hardcover book but that's on the back-burner for now as I approach National Novel Writing Month and start to embrace the idea of writing novel #2. But for those without a Kindle or an e-reader, you can still buy the book and read it on your computer or your tablet or even your phone. When you buy the book from Kobo, you're given the choice on how you want to read it. With Amazon, you can download free apps to read it how you choose.

And to anyone who has read Weezie, and liked it, I would sincerely appreciate a review on any of the bookseller's websites, or on Goodreads, or on your own Facebook page or blog.

Oh, and please tell me if I'm being a pain. I don't want to be obnoxious about this – it's the LAST thing I want.

Hugs to you all! And again. Thanks.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Alice Munro And My Dog's Ass

I'm so happy about Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Happy, thrilled, proud, pumped – all that great stuff. I always feel a special affinity – a bond, if you will – with this great Canadian author, not just because she is Canadian, as am I, and she is a woman (me too) and she's old as dirt (I am as old as fresh dirt, whereas she's more like the stuff in the bottom of that philodendron that's been sitting on top of your fridge since the Boer War), but because we write EXACTLY THE SAME.

Take what I am about to write, for example. It is so remarkably like Alice Munro's work that you will think I stole it directly from her.

Do you have to tell your dog to poo?

I do and it just drives me fecking crazy. I mean, I know she has to poo. Her little bum hole, which has been exposed since her last trip to the sawmill, pooches out when poo is imminent. The more she has to poo, the bigger her little bum hole is. Sometimes it's so big I fear her tail might get caught in it.

I keep a close eye on her bum hole. Every chance I get, I'm looking at it. I'm beginning to think I'm a gay dog, such is my fascination. But I have to, because she's not paying it any attention at all. I say, "Misty, wanna go outside?" And she gets excited and I let her out and she runs down the stairs and squats and pees. I'm watching her, and I see her bum hole is about the size of a personal-pan pizza, and I know she has to poo, but nope. She finishes piddling, looks at me with the happy grin of somebody who just won the lottery, and runs up the stairs. "Lookitme! Ipeed! Ipeed! Lemmeinsowecanwatchthefoodnetworktogether!" That's what her face says. Her bum hole, however, is now the size of a soccer ball.

"Get down there and go poo," I order. I have to tell her thrice and finally she slinks down the stairs like she's just been beaten. She stands at the bottom and gives me her best sad puppy face. "Go on," I say. "Get pooing." She prances slowly around the yard like she's the most hard done by dog on the planet, which she may be, because surely she's the only one whose bum hole is so intricately described on the internet. She waddles around for a while, throwing me the occasional piteous glance, then tries to convince me she's done. Her bum hole is now the size of our cat, and we have a cat with the girth of a mini-van. "Go poo," I growl. Finally, blessedly, she squats, lays a substantial and no doubt satisfying turd where Dave always walks across the lawn, and her bum hole magically shrinks back to a happy little pinhole.

I've written about telling my dog to go poop before, probably more than once, but I don't think I've ever mentioned her bum hole and how much time I spend watching it. For easy figuring, I bet I look at her bum hole a full hour every day. That's 365 hours a year, or nine full work weeks, staring at my dog's ass.

I know, right? Alice Munro. It's fecking incredible.

I didn't take a picture of my dog's bum hole because it might be the object
of affection for some porn-addled web weirdos. Besides, is nothing sacred? Geez....

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Yay for Remicade!

I'm excited about today – for the first time since May I'll be getting a treatment for my Crohn's disease. Oh, and I can't wait. I haven't been feeling good at all. Low grade fevers, constant headaches, stiff joints, bumps all over my legs (erythema nodosum) and no energy.

Up until I moved to Alberta in July, I was getting a treatment called Remicade every two months at the Huntsville, Ontario, hospital. I'd go to the chemotherapy clinic and they'd hook me up to an IV and give me this ultra expensive drug (about $7,000 every two months).

Remicade has literally changed my life. My doctor wanted to take out my colon until we tried this. And while I was on the drug, I had no Crohn's symptoms. I carried on like a healthy person! It was wonderful.

Moving meant losing my doctor, my job and my health insurance – the latter was a huge deal. Getting any insurance company to cover that humongous bill is like pulling teeth without anesthetic. I have had to jump through a myriad of hoops in order to get coverage from Dave's new insurance company. Not only that, I had to find an internist, as well as a family doctor. And the paperwork! My gawd, the paperwork and the phone calls and the e-mails have been overwhelming. Meanwhile, I've been getting sicker and sicker.

Oh well. Not anymore. Today I go to the Cold Lake Hospital for my first treatment in a long time. I'm so excited! Wish me luck!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Erm, my book's out!

"Was it any different for you last night?" I asked Dave as he was shaving this morning. "Y'know, sleeping with a published author?"

He thought about it for a moment then said, "You snored more."

Just so you know, I have now officially self-published my book. After at least three years of doinking around, I finally bit the bullet and got it done. For me, this is nothing short of a miracle.

The book itself is OK. It's not going to win a Pulitzer and it's certainly not going to outsell 50 Shades of Grey, but you know what? It's not as bad as I sometimes think it is. This afternoon I spent a happy hour curled up on my bed with my Kindle, reading My Very Own Book. I bought it last night and, wham, it downloaded in a heartbeat, right there on my Kindle beside Stephen King's new book, Doctor Sleep.

Me and Stevie, hanging out in Kindleland.

That's pretty darn sweet.

I'm not going to launch into any big whoop-de-doo about all this. Suffice it to say, if you'd like to read Green Eggs & Weezie, you can find it on Amazon or on Kobo. If you happen to like it, I would sincerely appreciate if you could write a short review on the Amazon site. Apparently the more reviews one garners, the more books one sells and the closer I get to retirement.

Oh wait. I am retired. I KEEP FORGETTING! That's the greatest thing about getting old – you forget all the good stuff and every day you wake up to go to work and then you remember – I DON'T HAVE TO!

I'm so glad I published my book before complete Old-Timer's sets in, or before I'm dead. Seriously, I was beginning to think Dave would have to publish it post-humously. I made him promise that he'd publish my damned book if I choked on a chicken neck or something equally hideous. I mean, poor Mama Cass, she sang some of the best songs on the planet but she'll always be remembered as that fat chick who choked on a chicken bone.

Since, however, I am still alive I am able to tell you that my book can be found by clicking on the following links:


Amazon.ca (Canada)

Amazon.com (United States)

Amazon.co.uk (Great Britain)

Thanks to GP Ching for helping me get it online. Man, that job was a bit of a pig. Gen, I owe ya.