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Archive for January, 2009

Discipline

First an admission: I am not the most disciplined person in the world. Too often, I’ve sat down to write and instead played a game of solitaire, you know to relax, or checked my email, twitter, blog stats or checked on some of the blogs I follow, posted a comment and the next thing I know, an hour is gone and I haven’t touched pen to paper or finger to keyboard.

If you read a recent post, you’ll know that D4 is having a problem with being alone for any length of time. This is a relatively new problem. Before Christmas, I could put on a movie, or get out the blocks, dolls or some other toy and she’d play for about an hour. During this hour, I’d work.

Working in hour long chunks throughout the day was sometimes frustrating but doable. Working in ten minute chunks? No. After the twentieth time saying, “Just a minute, mommy is working.” I get a little…edgy. So I decided to set a kitchen timer. I tried it first for 30 minutes. Too big of a chunk for her. So we went to 20. I put on a show, set the timer and told her she could come and get me when it went ‘ding’. It worked well. The first day she’d run and even if I was in the middle of a scene, I’d go and play with her. Then after awhile, I’d tell her I needed to go to work and set the timer again. It became a game.

The first week I learned several things, one of them being there is not 20 minutes during the day when there isn’t an interruption. It could be the door or the phone but there is something. D4 held me to my promise. Even if I was at the door talking to the bee carrier during my writing time, as soon as the timer dinged, it was her turn. Another thing I learned is to really value my writing time. And right along with that, I waste time getting ready to write.

When I knew I only had 20 minutes. I didn’t check anything, I turned the phone off, opened my file and got busy and that’s what started me thinking. I no longer wait to write when the muse strikes, although when it does strike, I write. I’m a writer, this is my job. A plumber doesn’t plumb only when he feels inspired. A janitor doesn’t clean only when he feels motivated. If I’m feeling uninspired, there is always research, excels, charts or maps requiring my attention. I recently worked on reviewing my agent list, checking websites and submission requirements; a mind numbing, but necessary task.

Sitting at home in front of my computer, there is no one to keep me on track, just me. Once I have an editor, this will change but until then, I’m the boss. I know some writers set word goals, some due dates. I do both. I’m currently editing a chapter a day of my new manuscript which averages about 2500 words a day and editing 30 pages of SO’s manuscript. These are my goals. And obviously, to accomplish those, takes all day…mostly in twenty minute intervals and I do work seven days a week.

So my questions for you: How do you organize your time? How do you handle distractions?

And that, my fellow bloggers is the sound of my bell dinging. : )

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I had planned

to write about discipline but I changed my mind. Instead I want to write about the kindness of strangers . Last night I looked in my cupboard and let the kids chose between top ramen and cereal. That bare. In the last two weeks, every time I’ve planned to go shopping for more than milk and bread, something has happened. Today, I knew I had to go. OB stayed home sick from school yesterday because he was coughing. I wasn’t alarmed, especially after he asked if he could ride his bike with a friend. He’d been fine all day so I let him go, but he came in shortly later coughing again. When he woke up this morning and asked to stay home again, I let him. But he wasn’t that sick, you know, just on the border between, ‘go back to  bed’ and ‘get dressed you’re going to school’.

So we went to the grocery store. About half way through, he started complaining and asking if we were almost done. This didn’t raise any alarms because, well, he always does that. But as we were heading past the dry pasta toward the  vegetables. He said, “mom I don’t feel good,” in a tone that means, Mom I really don’t feel good. I stopped and turned to look at him. He was chalky white. I asked if he was okay and he told me he thought he was going to throw up. I put one arm around him and we’d taken two steps toward the bathroom when he sunk to the floor in not quite a faint and then threw up. So I’m holding him, trying to keep D4 close but not looking (she’d already started gagging) in the store with a loaded cart.

I had some tissue and wipes in my purse so I was cleaning up as much as I could with one arm around OB and one eye on D4–He was as embarrassed as he was sick, poor guy–when a gentlemen with kind eyes asked if he could do anything. I thanked him and asked him to get someone from the store. By that time, another woman stopped by and asked if he was okay and could she do anything. I told her thank you but no. She directed traffic for a bit until someone from the store came and stood by my purse… which was open and I had completely forgotten. Another woman came up and said, “if it’s okay. I’ll just stand here with you for awhile.” Really if I wasn’t so stressed about how I was going to get out to the car, and the fact that I really did need those groceries (No bread, no milk-after cereal for dinner, no much of anything in cupboards) I would have cried. She stood there until OB was ready to stand. The grocery clerk very gently said, “don’t worry about that,” pointing the mess on the floor, “I’ll take care of it.”

So we walked to the check out and I’m still debating. The kids will want dinner tonight and there wasn’t even enough Top Ramen for that, but I wanted to get OB home. I asked him if he could manage until we got through the line. He said he wanted to go sit the car. I know, you’re not suppose to leave your children in the car, but I’d parked close and he is 11. The lady that waited with me was checking out with her husband and she offered to watch my cart and keep my place in line so I could take Ben to the  car and then when we got back, she offered to go sit with him (I’d already called D1 to come sit with him but she was at the gym across town) I could have hugged her, really I could have. I sped through the check out process and loaded the groceries and now OB is tucked under a nice warm blanket on the couch playing his DS.

I wonder if any of those people who said a kind word or offered to help know how they turned a difficult situation into an occasion of thankfulness? Don’t get me wrong, it was still tough, but so much less so. And I hope each one of those kindnesses returns to them a hundredfold.

OB will be fine in a day or two but I really wish I would have asked that last lady her name. I didn’t. I did say thank you, but it seemed inadequate. And although there were quite a few people who I thank today. That simple act of , ‘I’ll just stand here with you’ so profoundly touched me that I will never forget her. So lady at the grocery store, whoever you are, I may not know your name, but God does and really that’s better. And, once again, thank you.

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Whew

 

We are done with stage one. D4 is now boasting four white capped teeth, along with a temporarily numb mouth and nose. She started to cry just a little when they strapped her in. I know, I was ready to bolt with my child in tow. But if you think about it, a three year old is not going to hold still while you drill in their mouth and they weren’t like medical straps–you know like the kind Frankenstein broke to escape. They were more like a cocoon, the kind I wrapped her in right after she was born. Kissing her and walking away was difficult. I sat in the waiting room and worked on the map for TDYK. I don’t know why I always write the novel and then draw the map. It’s stupid really. Now I have to fit the map to the story instead of the other way around. Readers don’t really measure for distance, right?

 

If you ask D4 about her visit, she says that she got a sticker and a butterfly ring. So I don’t think she’s permanently scarred. D3 has an appointment next Wednesday for an x-ray. I’m hoping that will help Claire a bit as in four weeks, she has to go in to have a few minor cavities filled and get a professional cleaning.

 

About D3’s teeth. When she was about two, her teeth started decaying at a rapid rate. It’s odd, every single one of my BIL’s kids’ teeth rotted away. With D3, I did leave her on the bottle longer than I should have. I was going through a divorce and thought she needed the security, but with D4, I brushed her gums, then her teeth and she still has cavities. Dentist assures me that it’s not genetic though, but we’re talking about the children of three different mothers… anyway. D3 had to have her teeth removed. When they did x-rays, they found out she didn’t have any adult teeth to replace the front 4 baby teeth. He showed me the x-ray because one of the adult teeth was growing sideways and he had to have my permission to remove it.

I’d always planned to buy her a bridge when she turned 7 or 8 and recently looked into options and costs. Well the other day she came to me and said she thought her big teeth were coming in. I prepared to give my, ‘they’re not coming in, sweetheart’, speech when she opened her mouth to show me and there ARE adult teeth coming in. I saw the x-rays; there were no teeth up there waiting to come in. So where did these come from? That’s what I hope the dentist will answer next Wednesday.

 

In other news, my cats have killed four birds this week. There are feathers all over my yard. I don’t know if it’s the season, or they’ve developed a taste for mourning dove but I’m getting tired of finding the ‘surprises’ on my doorstep.

 

Well that’s all, I hope you’re having a wonderful day/evening.

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I know I said

that I had determined to take a little more care with my posts, but here is another one right off the cuff, no spell check and grammar-as-I-think instead of according to the various rules. Why you might ask? Well maybe you didn’t ask  but I’ll tell you anyway.  I’m venting, of course.

I just returned from taking D4 to the dentist. 2000$ Yeah, I thought I’d get that one out right away. No, I don’t have dental insurance, I can barely afford her health insurance. And if Obama really wants to do something about the health care system, how about making some provision for people with pre-existing conditions? Just my health insurance went up to 550$ a month this year. For just me. And my pre-existing condition has been under control for years. I haven’t seen a doctor (except for that yearly thing) for 2 years! And then it was a check up.

But I’m not really angsting about health care even though that is why I can’t afford dental insurance and the phrase two thousand dollars is echoing in my head. I’m stressing about having to take my 3 year old little girl to get four teeth capped. And I can’t  be in the room with her. And I hate that. I understand the damn rule. Some parents can be a little interfering. What parent likes to see their child in pain? I’d cry. Hell, I feel like crying just thinking about it. But I’d just stand there and hold her hand while I did it.  And then there is the guilt. Honest, I did brush her teeth. Honest, I don’t let her have candy all day or munch on potato chips and soda. Trust me, my kids will tell you, soda and potato chips are for birthdays and New Year’s eve and sometimes in the summer for root beer floats. We don’t do those kind of snacks. But the fact remains; I see them. Cavities. Cavities equal pain and your child in pain equals guilt and angst and tears.

Tomorrow at 2:30

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I thought this book sounded good when I read a shory synopsis. It didn’t disappoint. Great story and good character development. I hope the author does NOT sell to Hollywood because they will massacre this fine story. I recommend highly.”

http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Circle-Carlos-J-Cortes/dp/0553591622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1232847830&sr=8-1

Good news Chuck3rd (the reviewer) Hollywood already passed stating the dismal economy. Of course they have the option of changing their minds. : )

But I think Chuck3rd has a point. Although Perfect Circle would make an excellent movie–who would play Paul?– Hollywood has played fast and loose with a lot of really good books.

Which is your favorite film based on a book? Or for that matter, which movie do you think did the greatest injustice to its book?

Let me know.

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Book Reviews

I confess. Three out of five of my kids don’t like to read. Well, one is iffy, but I am constantly looking for books to tempt OB. With that thought in mind, I picked up THE TIME WARP TRIO by Jon Scieszka. I loved it. It’s Joe’s birthday and he’s hanging out with his two best friends when one of them finds a present Joe forgot to open. It’s from Joe’s uncle, the magician. It’s only a book but a strange book. One of the boys opens it to a page displaying a picture of a knight on horseback and when another says he’d like to see one of those in person; all three of them find themselves face to face with the very irritated knight in the picture. It has just the right amount of preteen boy humor (meaning flatulence and snot) but not so much that mom was grossed out, although quite frankly it takes a lot to gross me out any more. It’s only 54 pages so it’s not big enough to elicit the groan a large book inspires. Really, if you have a boy, or know someone who does, give this book a try.

I also just finished reading two Robin McKinley books. First off, I love Robin McKinley. Her book, SUNSHINE, is in my opinion the best vampire book out there. In fact, I recently borrowed it from the library so SO could read it. He has never read any fantasy but mine. Can you believe it? I still have a hard time getting my head around it. But he finally agreed to let me introduce him and I thought SUNSHINE would be a good start. He read half of it and started critiquing her technique. (She handles first person with a panache and style that I could only dream about.) I next handed him STARDUST by Gaiman but I haven’t asked if he even cracked it. Back to the review.

DRAGONHAVEN, like SUNSHINE, is written in first person but I think she uses the technique less effectively. I wanted to love it, I tried to love it. I only just managed to finish it. The pace is somewhat erratic, speeding up to a good clip then slowing down until I turned the page at random and read a future chapter. There’s a manic feel to it. Granted, the narrator is supposed to be remembering things that are difficult to remember and a certain amount of agitation is expected but I think it was overdone. Like most McKinley books, the plot is excellent. I’ll call it an alternate reality urban fantasy (I don’t know what she  calls it) where dragons have lived among us since the  beginning of time but have  been for the most part hidden. But now they are facing extinction and a group of scientists in a little reserve in America are fighting to save them. The son of the director, and the narrator, finds a badly wounded mother dragon who has just given birth and a dead poacher. As he gets ready to leave, he sees that one of the baby dragons is still alive. He sticks the little thing under his shirt to keep it warm and heads home. Of course this opens a huge can of worms but you’ll have to read the book.

As I said, the plot is engaging, but for me, it fell just short of the high expectation that I have for one of McKinley’s books. 

The second book is also Robin McKinley and its one of her earlier ones: THE SPINDLES END. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty, but I like her version better. She spins (No pun intended) such a detailed world that as a writer, sometimes I stop reading and just give her a moment of stunned respect. That said, the novel is dense. Too dense to read for an extended period of time and so it took me longer to finish than it normally would. Her characterization should be studied in writing schools across the land.

Next on deck, besides the many ‘how to write/publish/edit a synopsis/query/novel books, is MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews. It came highly recommended. I’ll let you know what I think.

 

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Today

was full of small blessings. Not the big knock -your-socks-off kind but little things that if you pay attention, make you smile and grateful. A friend of mine is blogging about Days of Grace  and though I didn’t plan it when I sat down to write, I suppose this is something similiar.

Snippets of things that made me happy today.

D4 and I were coloring  and she asked me to draw our family. She decided to draw me (I’m a great blue oval) but then she added arms and said, “Here are your arms so you can hug me.” And so I did.

Later we were cuddling on the couch and watching Wow Wow Wubbsy, she sighed and said, “I love me and you.” I hugged her tighter and just said, “me too.” And I do.

OB has  been bringing his friends home after school since school began. This is the IT house. And let me tell you, boys multiply noise  and activity exponentially. Three boys don’t just make three times as much noise as one; its three to the power of three. Lately, it’s been a struggle to get him to finish his homework. I walked past his room this afternoon (the door was shut) and heard him say, “No, let’s do our homework first.” I would have gone in and hugged him if it wouldn’t have embarrassed him half to death. I hugged him later.

Tonight, for family night we played Yahtzee. It was D2’s turn to pick the activity and she picked Yahtzee because she knows I love it. D3 rolled three Yahtzee’s. Yes three! Being the second to the smallest has its draw backs; it was nice to see her first when I didn’t have to pull any strings to get her there.

Oh yeah, we’ll hear about that one for weeks and weeks. : )

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