Resolutions we can Keep

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 5 January 2016 | 0 Comments

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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.

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Five things my father's life teaches me about writing

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 18 December 2015 | 6 Comments

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     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.
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. 
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.  
Life is choice.
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?
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.
Here they are, five things my father's life teaches me about writing.  

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Writing lessons from a drummer

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 6 July 2015 | 11 Comments

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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:

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A novelist, not a poet? Think again

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 28 April 2015 | 2 Comments

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What Martin Short and I have in common

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 10 April 2015 | 28 Comments

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Well, not a lot. I adore him. He has never even heard of me. But there are three things we share ...

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True love story: The Tulips

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 21 January 2015 | 2 Comments

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  It was a day I was tempted to erase from the calendar. Then a trip to the grocery store changed everything.
  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.
  "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.
  Drawn in my her warmth, I smiled and agreed.
  "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." 
  I swallowed against the lump in my throat. "That was a beautiful story," I whispered. "What an amazing thing.'
  "Yes, it was," she beamed, handing me my bag. "You have a good day."
  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.
  That is why we need to share our stories. That is love.

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Embracing my inner hermit to be a better marketer

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 19 January 2015 | 19 Comments

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     I come from a long line of hermits. But there are five ways that can work in my favour.

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Writing Rose, the character I didn't want to know

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 21 November 2014 | 1 Comments

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Writers control the story. So why choose a main character I didn’t like? Simple answer: he did, my male lead Jack, years ago, when I wrote my first book, Finding Maria. Rose was his love, his choice, and ultimately, his source of heartbreak when suddenly she was gone. To love Jack, which I do, hence the series of books to explore his life, I had to at least acknowledge the woman who made him a husband and father, and over two decades evolved to be the centre of his world. His heart had made its choice. To do justice to his story, I had to share hers, and that meant getting past the prickly habits and annoying weaknesses to the heart and soul of this woman. I didn’t have to like her, but I did have to understand her.

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