Sunday, May 29, 2005

Read a preview

To read a preview of D'Amour Road, visit my storefront at Lulu at and click on "Preview this book." I have posted the first six or seven pages so that you can see whether or not this book is for you.

Sigrid Mac May 28

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

My first book review!

This was written by Joan McEachern, a former teacher at Algonquin College and an active member of two Chapters' book clubs.

"I started this book at 9 a.m. and finished it at 7 p.m. To say that it held my interest is an understatement. The author uses a personal experience to weave a tale that is both riveting and spellbinding. The details of the Ottawa and Aylmer/Hull backscape are accurate and add in making this adventure real. I felt I was tracing the steps of the principals within the city. A valiant attempt for a first novel. Cudos to Ms. Macdonald."

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The ugly American

The other day I was talking to a friend who made a disparaging remark about Americans.

Right away, I reminded her that I had grown up in New Jersey. I'm kind of a hybrid in that I was born in Canada but I left at the age of five. Because my parents are Canadian, we returned to visit every year but basically, I grew up as a Yank. I went to grad school in Toronto and have lived in Ottawa for the last 17 years, so I'd like to believe that I'm a North American and that I don't have quite as many prejudices as someone from either Canada or the United States.

It's funny. Here we are in the age of extreme political correctness. Most people would never make a negative comment about blacks, women, or gays in public. But the same people would think nothing whatsoever about bashing Americans.

I told my friend that it was pretty hard to generalize about Americans given the fact that there are 291 million of them! Moreover, since when does the government represent the people? Just because someone agrees with George Bush's policies -- and that would certainly count me out! -- doesn't make them anti-American. The people and their political leaders are two completely different things.

Only slightly more than 25% of the people actually put a President in office. That's because only 50 - 55% of the registered voters even bother to show up at the polls. Is that apathetic? Not necessarily. When the next Canadian election rolls around, I'm not going. If you're given a choice between one idiot and another idiot, that's not much of choice.

In my novel, D'Amour Road, the woman who goes missing is American. Her best friend's husband is biased against Americans. This character isn't meant to be a stereotype or to represent all Canadians. He's just one guy who believes that George Bush, aggressive American foreign policies, and tacky Hawaiian shorts reflect the American populace. He's wrong! There's also that crazy woman who claimed to find a finger in her Wendy's chili bowl :-)

Sigrid Macdonald

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member

Last week, my 18-year-old nephew went to his high school prom. My mother asked me why I didn't attend my prom, and the only reason that I could come up with was that my crowd and I were down on our school. I graduated from high school in 1970 and prided myself on being an anti-establishment kid. If a club or an event was associated with the school, I didn't want any part of it.

In my twenties, I discovered certain clubs that I did want to belong to like SDS (Students for a Democratic Society,) NOW (the National Organization for Women) and the Feminist Party of Canada, which I believe existed for about 10 minutes. I also supported the New Democratic Party in Canada and the Democratic Party in the US. I was a party person! I had become a joiner but I always tried to join groups that were in some way "against" other groups.

Now I have reverted to my original stand. The only clubs that I belong to today are innocuous and uncontroversial like Toastmasters International and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Who can be FOR drunk driving? We'd be hard-pressed to envision a lobbying group that fought for the rights of drunks to get behind the wheel.

I used to participate in various women's collectives and women's centers, but I don't do that anymore. As much as I love other women and support most of the issues that collectives fight for, I find academic political correctness intolerable. Dissident feminist, Daphne Patai, has written extensively about the suffocating academic environment and the restrictions that many people find on campus in their Women's Studies classes. For a while, I considered myself one of the dissidents but then it seemed to me that the main purpose of groups like Women's Freedom Network was to criticize the traditional women's movement. That was never my goal, so I left the dissidents as well.

In D'Amour Road, my main character Tara is a devoted but ambivalent member of a local women's collective. The group is dedicated to eradicating sexual assault and raising public awareness about this horrific issue. Tara wholeheartedly supports the purpose of the group but she does not share their antipathy towards men. My fictional women's collective sees most issues in terms of black and white - e.g. everything is the fault of the patriarchy -- whereas Tara and I both see the world in terms of very complicated shades of gray.

There's a great sense of comfort and camaraderie in being a part of the group. It can be reassuring, reaffirming, energizing and empowering. But it can also be disturbing, confusing and alienating to belong to a group if you disagree with their policies or practices. I'd like to see certain social and political groups making more of an effort to accommodate different points of view. Debate is healthy. Disagreement is normal. I have Democratic friends who won't have lunch with Republicans! That's insane. Many people can find a common ground if they look hard enough for it. Meanwhile, I'm happy to echo Groucho's old saying, when he sent a telegram to his group stating, "Please accept my resignation. I don't want to be a part of any club that will have me as a member."

Sigrid Macdonald

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The woman who shot her hairdresser

A couple of weeks ago, a woman shot her hairdresser because she was unhappy with her haircut. I found out about this bizarre episode by listening to CNN's "American Morning" with Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien. Bill made the serious announcement and seemed puzzled as to how this could happen. Soledad paused and said, "Well, Bill, have you ever had a bad haircut?" My sentiments exactly.

Folks, today I'm having a very bad hair day! No matter what I do with my hair, I look like Anne Heche.

In D'Amour Road, Tara develops an obsession with her hair. Her best friend, Lisa, goes missing and as the situation becomes more desperate, Tara becomes increasingly preoccupied with changing her hair. On one hand, I used this storyline to add a little levity to an otherwise dark tale. On the other hand, I wanted to portray the different types of distractions that people use to cope when they are under stress.

When my father was dying of leukemia, I changed my hair color faster than most people change their underwear. I colored my hair brown. I bleached it platinum. I made my hair dirty blonde and then added heavy highlights. I permed it until it had the consistency of a Brillo pad, and then I cut it off so that I had less hair than Donald Trump. By the time my Dad died, I was almost bald!

Playing with my locks seemed to be one of the few things in life that was under my control at the time; certainly, my father's health was not. I hope that you will find Tara's obsession to be amusing, understandable and cathartic. There's just nothing like a day when our hair looks exactly the way that we want it to be. Or at least, that's what my inner Ally McBeal tells me :-)

Sigrid Macdonald. Copyright 2005. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Tunnel of Love

About two weeks ago, I created a post about unrequited love. Shortly afterwards, I received criticism about disclosing too much personal information about myself. Also, I got several phone calls from a young guy who said that he was the man for me! I suspect that the calls were a prank -- and they were certainly intriguing -- but I decided to pull that post. That doesn't mean that I don't want to address the topic.

In my new book, D'Amour Road, a 39-year-old nurse and mother by the name of Tara, falls in love with Alain, a 24-year-old assistant manager at the grocery store. Since Tara is not a dazzling beauty like Demi Moore, she frets about her infatuation with this man who is 15 years her junior. Much of the dynamics between Tara and Alain are based on my own relationship with a 26-year-old guy, who I will call AJ.

I wanted to add the story about Tara and Alain to illustrate that there are many types of relationships that are ill-fated. 39-year-old Lisa Campana has gone missing and the main suspect in her disappearance is her boyfriend, Ryan Whitman, who has a history of battering. At first glance, Lisa's best friend, Tara, appears to be quite together because she is married to a nice solid man. Closer scrutiny reveals that Tara is miserable in her marriage, and has developed the hots for a much younger guy.

There are many ways in which relationships are doomed to fail and all three of these interactions -- that of Tara with Alain, Tara with her husband Mark, and Lisa with Ryan -- illustrate that point. The title of the book "D'Amour Road" is also a double entendre. On one hand, it's the name of a real-life street in Alymer, Quebec, which will play a role in my story. On the other hand, the title is meant as a warning that says that the road of love can be dissatisfying or even dangerous. I've always liked the lyrics to the Springsteen song, The Tunnel of Love, which go something like this: "When the lights go out, it's just the three of us -- you, me, and all that stuff we're so scared of."

Tell us your stories about unrequited or unfulfilling love. If you've managed to break away from an abusive or unhappy relationship, pat yourself on the back, and write about it in the comment section. Use a pseudonym to protect yourself if necessary.

Sigrid Macdonald

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Carolyn Gardner

This morning, I had the pleasure of being on CFRA radio with Shirley Roy on The Broad Perspective. She had an interesting panel of men and women including Carolyn Gardner, whose sister Sheryl was brutally murdered in 1981 at the tender age of 15. Ralph Power, the man who committed this unspeakable act is currently eligible for day parole. He has never shown any remorse for his crime, and his DNA will not be automatically submitted into a national bank because this was not a legal requirement at the time that he committed the act.

Sometimes the law is so damn picky! Retroactivity is a ridiculous technicality in this case. A potentially dangerous man may be released from prison. The least that the law can do to protect future victims is to take a sample of this man's DNA.

Carolyn has started a petition opposing parole for Ralph Power. Please visit her web site at to read about the details of her case and to support her efforts.

Many thanks.

Sigrid Macdonald