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Read all about the adventures of the Tsao Family during the summer of 2012

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 

Blog Book Tour: It's a Boy by Andrea Buchanan

Today I'm happy to be blogging about Andrea Buchanan's new book, It's a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons.

It's a Boy contains an amazing variety of essays all with one common theme: they are written by women about their experiences raising sons. Some of the essays are about the writer's trepidation when she found out she was having a son, what Andrea calls "prenatal boy apprehension." Others are about the unique challenges of raising boys who have been labelled as bullies. And still others address the ups and downs of raising boys who like "girly" things, such as shiny bead necklaces and the color pink.

The editor of It's a Boy and one of the contributing writers, Andrea Buchanan, is the managing editor of LiteraryMama.com, an online literary magazine for the maternally inclined. She also is the author of a book of essays on motherhood, Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It. Mother Shock was an eye opening book for me and I found much solace in Andrea's writing during the long dark months when I felt like I was stuck--both physically and mentally--at home with a toddler and a newborn.

Because I so enjoyed Mother Shock, I was eager to read--and enjoy--it's a Boy. I was not disappointed. The writing--at times thought provoking, at times heart breaking--is superb and always eloquent. Andrea has put together a remarkable collection of essays by an equally amazing collection of writers.

I was delighted to find out that one of my favorite essays in the book, "Pretty Baby" was written by Catherine Newman, whose writing I became familiar with from her parenting column on BabyCenter.com. Catherine also has written a memoir based on her column, titled Waiting for Birdy: A Year of Frantic Tedium, Neurotic Angst, and the Wild Magic of Growing a Family. In "Pretty Baby," she writes about the love her son has for the color pink, a fact that tends to elicit unpleasant reactions from complete strangers. Catherine explains her son's fondness for pink with an objective logic. "Are we genuinely shocked that the girls' section--with its plush bubblegum everything, its rhinestones and puppies and velvet detailing--calls out to some boys like a pastel siren song?" She refuses to let society's irriational fear of boys and the color pink affect how she mothers her child, and she appreciates it when others see her son for who he is, a happy, funny, smart, kind kid who just happens to be wearing a "pink shirt with a heart on its sleeve."

Melanie Lynn Hauser, one of my favorite bloggers and the author of Confessions of Super Mom wrote a beautiful essay on what it's like to be a mother to a teenage boy. In "Shapeshifter," Melanie writes about this elusive and almost-mythical creature. "He doesn't need you. He's perfectly capable of taking care of himself; doesn't he tell you that a dozen times a day?" Melanie aptly puts into words what it's like living with a son who one minute is embarassed by you and the next minute needs you to bake him cookies. "His eyes squeeze shut as he's hugging you and somehow, with those famous eyes at the back of your head, you can see this. Then he whispers. "Mommy."" Hidden behind humor, Melanie's tale of mothering an older son rings bittersweet and true.

The most moving essay in the book was written by Susan Ito. In "Samuel," she relives the pain and sense of failure she felt at losing her first child--a son--to preeclampsia. It's a heart wrenching piece of work filled with the kind of simple yet poignant writing to which any mother can relate, especially if she has experienced a loss of her own. Susan writes, "I have looked at a thousand boys, from toddlers to young men, since that day in 1989, and none of them have come close to the perfection of that unlived life, that beautiful son who never took a breath." Andrea calls Susan's essay "the emotional center of the book." I agree.

When I read Susan Ito's essay I wept for her son who never got to experience life outside her womb. And while I wept, I was thankful for my own sweet children, for my girl and for my boy. When I read Catherine Newman's essay, I rejoiced for the boy striving to be an individual in a world that prefers conformity. And I felt that same happiness when I saw my own son playing with his doll. I hope that he will always feel as free to play with dolls as he does now. When I read Melanie Lynn Hauser's essay, I wept for the mom who understands that she must tread carefully in her teenage boy's world if she wants to be allowed to remain. And then I found myself weeping for the mom that I will one day become when my own little boy--who now needs me more than anything in the world--will turn silent and secretive; when he will turn to others for comfort.

The writings in It's a Boy touch upon many aspects of raising boys, including the fears, the hopes, and the sorrows that can begin when the child is still in utero and that can continue until even after he is old enough to buy his own house. Both moms and dads will be able to relate to these individual stories. Combined, they ultimately reveal what most parents of boys know: that boys aren't just made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails, but that they're also made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Boys are complex creatures who might want nothing to do with us one minute and then need a hug and a plate of warm cookies the next. They are complicated; they are complex; they are contradictory. They are boys.

Do yourself a favor and add It's a Boy to your Holiday wish list. The stories will make you laugh and they'll make you cry. Like me, you will find yourself loving every minute of this book.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

 

The houseguests are coming! The houseguests are coming!

Oh, the houseguests. Those people we thought we wanted to have come and stay at our house until they came and stayed at our house. Oh, the joy. Oh, the pain. Oh, the houseguests.

If you're like me then you have a love/hate relationship with houseguests. That is, you love the idea of having houseguests but you hate the reality of having them. You alternate between loving them hating yourself; loving yourself hating them; hating yourself hating them; and in those rare sweet moments, loving yourself loving them.

You might be asking yourself, is it okay to feel this way?

Sure it is! I mean, let's face it. It's hard to have other people in your home. You don't realize how set in your ways you are until somebody comes and wants to do things (gasp!) a different way. And I'm not talking about major things, like calling your children by names other than the ones you picked out. I'm talking about minor things, like whether the kitchen sponge lives under the sink or next to the faucet.

Things that when done differently can drive you over the river and through the snow and straight to the nut house, where you suspect there are no houseguests and that's why you want to go there.

Remember when you had houseguests in college? You probably don’t. In those days, people who crashed at your place weren't called houseguests. They were called either your roommate's boyfriend or the guy who passed out on your couch after the party. They ate all your food, used your towel when they took a shower, and paid no rent.

Things haven't changed much since then, have they?

Except now houseguests are people you actually care about; you want them to come visit you. So what's the problem? Is it because they aren't coming to visit you? When was it you realized that no matter how much you clean and cook and spray the furniture with Febreze, you are basically a dim bulb compared to that bright light situated second row, center car seat.

That's right. At this stage of the game you've been upstaged by your child. Move over, rover.

I try and put this whole houseguest thing in perspective. After all, it's good for my kids to get to know their extended family. And I benefit from having houseguests because they do make my house look good. Not because they come wearing a work belt and slinging a cordless drill, but because the mere idea that people from the outside will be stepping foot inside my house sends me on a spree of cleaning, shopping, organizing, and decorating.

For example, because next week we’ll have houseguests, this weekend Mike and I hung a combination shelving unit/hand towel bar that’s been sitting in the closet for a year and a half; we turned the house into a Christmas wonderland; we got rid of all of the plastic boxes of old clothes that were lining the perimeter of our bedroom; and I even organized my underwear and sock drawer (You never know where a houseguest might look!)

As I sit here in anxious anticipation of the arrival of our guests, our house has never looked so good. I'm rehearsing my houseguest relaxation mantras: "It's okay; you can move the sponge when they leave," and "Don't say anything; just keep smiling." No matter how much I tell them we're soon going to have visitors, the kids seem oblivious to it. I'm sure they're excited on the inside. Me, I just have one more closet to clean and I think I'll be ready.

Can you tell I'm smiling already?

Friday, November 25, 2005

 

NaNoWriMo Day 25: Got book?

I did it! My official NaNoWriMo word count is 50,059. I get slightly more than that when I run the word counter in Microsoft Word, but hey, who's counting? Not me! Not anymore! I'm done!! And I still have time to go battle the crowds in search of a bargain or two.

HAPPY DANCE TIME!!

Here are the answers to some of the questions I've gotten over the past several weeks. I was too busy writing my behind off to answer them at the time.

Mother Goose Mouse wants to know:
Before you started NaNoWriMo, did you have an outline for your planned novel, or has it been stream of consciousness?

I had thought about the plot and had written a 100 word synopsis, but that's it. After I started writing, I realized that my initial plot idea would have created a story that ended after 20,000 words. That's when I started creating subplots and plot twists, etc. In that way, it's been stream of consciousness although I've tried to keep it realistic enough (no space ships to get me out of sticky plot issues) so that I'll be able to edit it later into something that might pass as readable fiction.

She also wants to know:
What happens to all of these novels that come from NaNoWriMo? Are they submitted en masse to publishing houses?

What happens to the novels is up to the individual writers. You can go on and edit your work and try to get it published. Or you can burn it in the fireplace. Or both.

NaNoWriMo doesn't do anything with the novels besides run a word counter on the files and immediately delete them. You get nothing from completing the contest except the sense of satisfaction from finishing something you started.

There are people who have successfully completed NaNoWriMo and gone on to publish their NaNo book, including Jon F. Merz, Lani Diane Rich, Sarah Gruen, Rebecca Agiewich, Dave Wilson, Gayle Brandeis, and Kimberly Llewellyn. In general, one or two participants every year (out of the three to six thousand who complete NaNoWriMo), get to see their book grace a bookstore shelf.

Elizabeth wants to know:
Are you going to post a link to your novel once it's done so all your dedicated blog readers can check it out?

Short answer: No.
Long answer: No. First, I want to do some editing on it. Then, if I think it's good enough I'll maybe try and get it published. If, after I work on it some more, I think it's garbage, I'll put it in a drawer and move on to the next story. If one day the novel is published, then you can see it.

In general I like the idea of blogging about writing a novel, but not the idea of blogging a novel. I think it's a lot to ask people to read unedited works of fiction, unedited works of anything actually.

Mother In Chief wants to know:
How do you manage to write that much a day with kids?

I found that pure writing--with no editing--takes much less time than I thought. It really wasn't hard for me to write my daily goal of 2,000 words while the kids played. I was interrupted a lot, but I'm used to that. I did try and write when at least one of the kids was napping, but I didn't wait until after they were asleep because I go to bed not long after they do. The best time for me to write is in the morning and that's what I tried to do.

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

 

Mommies talking turkey

Thank you to everybody who left a comment or just egged me on in your heart. I'm just 2,000 words shy of completing my novel and I'm so excited! Thank you, too, for your patience as I blogged about nothing but blah blah me blah blah writing blah blah NaNoWriMo blah blah blah.

ANYWAY, the mommy bloggers have put together a funny Q&A with a bunch of their blogging pals, including me. Click on over to their site and have a laugh or two as you eat the rest of that pumpkin pie straight from the tin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

 

NaNoWriMo Day 20: Reality check

Hello? Hello? Is there anybody out there?

There must be a name for what I'm feeling right now--Isolated Writer Syndrome or something. I'm cranking out the words*, but I feel that it's at the expense of something else, something I can't quite put a finger on... wait, that's it... yes, it's friends.

Writing is a lonely business.

Besides showering and leaving the house, I haven't even found the time to blog about subjects like my kids, my husband (our third anniversary was last week), my backyard remodel (finished two weeks ago; photos coming soon, I swear!), or me doing anything else besides NaNoWriMo. I miss blogging. I miss writing personal essays that I think are funny even if nobody else does.

Plus I don't smell pretty and my underarm hair looks like a guy's. No wonder I've lost all of my friends.

But let me remind both you and me why I'm doing this horrible novel writing thing. Right now, my tired brain can think of four reasons:
  • to see if I can write fiction (quite possibly)
  • to see how I feel about writing fiction (it only hurts a little bit)
  • to prove that I can finish what I start (so far, so good)
  • to feel good about myself (I am woman, hear me type)

    Just nod if you can hear me.
    ______________________________________________________

    *I've written 42,119 words at last count; for those of you who have just joined me, I'm doing NaNoWriMo and my goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words by the end of this month.

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  • Friday, November 18, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 18: Advice from Gayle Brandeis

    I came across this lovely tidbit while perusing writer Joshilyn Jackson's blog Faster Than Kudzu.

    In this post, she interviews writer Gayle Brandeis. She asks Brandeis what advice she would give writers "as they pursue this maddening and delightful craft."

    Brandeis answers:

    My favorite bit of advice is this: stay open. Keep your senses open—as writers, we so often live in our heads, but when we drop down into our senses and remember to take in the sights and smells and sounds and tastes and textures of the world, it gives us so much more juicy stuff to write about. It makes our writing really come to life. Keep your mind open—you never know where the next story will come from, and you should be ready for it. Inspiration often strikes from unexpected places. Be open to change—don't get too attached to any of your words; be prepared to slash them all, to start from scratch if need be (but at the same time, of course, be sure to stay true to your own personal vision and voice.) Read widely, live deeply, and dive into your work unafraid.


    Excellent advice. I'm glad I stumbled across it.

    NaNoWriMo update: 36,008 words and counting. I'm keeping up with my 2,000 words-a-day goal, and I'm feeling pretty darn proud of myself for getting in 300 words today before playgroup and then the other 1,700 after playgroup while the kids were napping. If it teaches me nothing else, participating in NaNoWriMo is definitely teaching me to use time wisely. Unfortunately, I had to decline an invite to an impromptu playgroup lunch at Chevy's and that hurt (this mommy likes to eat), but I know that Chevy's will be there for me after December 1...

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    Thursday, November 17, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 17: 1,667 words a day -- or not

    When my stepdad found out I was going to attempt NaNoWriMo, he sent me a bunch of cartoons he had clipped out of one or two of the million or so magazines and periodicals that he reads.

    One of the cartoons he sent me was by writer and cartoonist Harry Bliss, who regularly contributes to the New Yorker.

    In the cartoon, two men are sitting at a bar. One man is clearly a businessman. He is wearing a suit and tie. He looks a little like Nixon.

    The other man is more dishevelled looking. He is wearing a sweater over a shirt and he is a bit on the rotund side. His hair is thinning and he is wearing spectacles. He is holding up his glass and gazing into it as if might be the holy grail. In front of him is a pad of paper. It appears as though nothing is written on it.

    This man is clearly the writer.

    The caption under the cartoon reads, "I try to write 5000 words a day - or not."

    This cartoon tells it like it is and contains the essence--the ESSENCE I tells ya--of the daily flogging, the torture that is NaNoWriMo. This Harry Bliss character is clearly a genius or at least a tortured soul but definitely a potential kindred spirit.

    To check out the original cartoon, go to the Harry Bliss website.

    NaNoWriMo update: I'm at 34,008 words. I'm in some kind of crazy downhill spiral where every chapter leads almost effortlessly into the next. Or something like that. I'm aiming to be done a week from tomorrow. I.Can't.Wait.

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    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

     

    Not your mama's spinach salad

    Gentle readers, let me tell you how it is.

    In this house, I do most of the cooking. Mike brings home the bacon and I fry it up in a pan. Or something like that.

    But despite our insanely arcane division of domestic duties, my man is a wonderful cook. He really is and that's not just the wine talking. For example, here's the recipe for a salad he made Sunday night. The goodness seriously knocked me on my behind.

    Mike’s spinach salad
    [written by Mike]

    Ingredients
    Baby spinach
    Red onions, sliced
    Pistachios, shelled
    Goat cheese, crumbled
    Ranch dressing

    Toss ingredients well. Serve.

    Variation: jalapeno ranch dressing from Safeway.


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    Monday, November 14, 2005

     

    Living little but learning large

    Dorothy Law Nolte died yesterday at the age of 81. She was an author who may have been best known for her poem Children Learn What They Live.

    Here's a brief excerpt from her copyrighted piece. You can find the poem in its entirety here.

    If children live with criticism, They learn to condemn.
    If children live with hostility, They learn to fight.
    If children live with ridicule, They learn to be shy.
    If children live with shame, They learn to feel guilty.
    If children live with encouragement, They learn confidence.
    ...
    If children live with security, They learn to have faith in themselves and others.
    If children live with friendliness, They learn the world is a nice place in which to live.


    The poem is a great piece to print out and put up in a prominent place, like a refrigerator door. It's a nice simple reminder that what we're doing every day when we're handing out cookies, saying Good job!, and holding off that fight until the kids are asleep, is helping these little people grow up to be caring and confident adults.

    Okay, back to ignoring the kids so that I can work on my novel. I'm over 25,000 words now yet I'm still waiting for my muse to arrive. She's late. Argh.

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

     

    Future engineer of America

    I have fond memories of playing with blocks just like these when I was a kid. I found these blocks at a garage sale yesterday. Here's Emily displaying the first tower she's ever built. Do you remember building towers when you were a kid?

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 12: Words gone wild

    Jeffrey M. Anderson's Why I Write column in this weekend's paper is an interview with author Max Allan Collins.

    In the interview, Anderson asks Collins why he writes. I like Collin's response, especially the last sentence.

    What I attempt to do is make a living while I'm pursuing projects of interest. I don't limit storytelling to just writing novels--comics, movies, nonfiction, trading cards, video games, I'm there if the money is right and it's material I like. And sometimes even when the money isn't there, I'll do it just because I love to do this. It's a job that's really a hobby gotten out of hand.


    I'm up to 22,508 words. By the time I go to bed tonight I'll be up to 24,000 words. I'm almost to the halfway mark!

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    Thursday, November 10, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 10: 19,288 words and counting

    My nose is runny. And then it's stuffy. And then it's runny again.

    Whatever it is, it's not pretty.

    I am officially sick to death of NaNoWriMo. Why am I wasting all of my free time in a manner such as this? I could be doing housework! I could be cleaning off food from the floor! I could be talking to telemarketers on the phone!

    But I must continue. I will not be defeated by the small voice inside of me that says, "This thing that you're doing? It sucks and so do you."

    For inspiration, I will now remind myself of something I read on Andi Buchanan's blog Mother Shock.

    By Sue O'Doherty, PhD, a writer and a psychologist specializing in issues affecting writers via an interview at Buzz, Balls, & Hype.

    Regarding self-doubt, Dr. Sue says:

    Paul Cézanne once said that each time he finished painting an apple, he believed he had solved the problem of painting apples. But then, when he moved on to the next apple, it was an entirely new apple, and he had to start all over again. ... When you feel yourself falling into the trap of self-doubt, take out a piece of paper and write the following: "This is new territory. I am an explorer." Tack it up on your bulletin board. Look at it once an hour, and write it over again if necessary. Remind yourself that the most important work you are doing is in the process itself. You are discovering and recording aspects of yourself and the world that are uniquely yours. If this were easy, there would be no point to it. You are mapping out new territory, and it may be harrowing—and, for that matter, you may not arrive at the destination you had set out for. But you will experience wonders along the way, and you will transmit them to paper to the best of your ability.


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    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 9: Eight by Kurt Vonnegut

    Prego over at Rust Belt Ramblings left me a comment about Kurt Vonnegut's Eight Rules for Writing Fiction.

    These rules originally appeared in Vonnegut's book, Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction. I found them online at americanstate.org.

    Eight rules for writing fiction

    1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

    2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

    3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

    4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.

    5. Start as close to the end as possible.

    6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

    7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

    8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.



    Thanks to Prego for the tip and Kurt for the advice.

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    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 8: The plot, she thickens

    Despite the fact that our nanny is having car trouble and couldn't come today, I managed to open my dreaded beloved Word document and think about my novel. As I looked over the thirty odd pages I've written, I found myself searching for the answer to that burning question, "What is the plot of this novel anyway?"

    I thought and thought. Then I changed a diaper and thought some more. Then I put on a video--Clifford The Big Red Dog Does Something Amazing Although What It Is I Can't Remember--and thought some more. And then I had it!

    I wrote a couple of paragraphs that could easily summarize the rest of the story, get me through to the end of this novel, and provide me that all-esential plot. Eureka!

    The sinking feeling came as I re-read what I had written. My novel had become Terms of Endearment. Crap.

    But then I did some online research (just what was Terms of Endearment about again?) and realized that I have no neurotic mom, no sexy older neighbor, no daughter, and no daughter's lover. I do have an older mother-like character, a younger daughter-like character, and the big C word, but I think that's where the similarities end. Whew!

    Back to the plot at hand...

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    Monday, November 07, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 7: If life gives you mashed potatoes

    There was a section in my paper this weekend called "Why I Write." Reviewer Jeffrey M. Anderson interviews San Francisco author Andrew Sean Greer. In the interview, Anderson asks Greer, Why do you write? Greer responds,

    Always a hard question. What springs to mind is Richard Dreyfuss in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." You know how he is sitting there at dinner and can't get an image out of his head, just can't get it out, and he begins to make a pattern in his mashed potatoes with his fork. Then he mounds the mashed potatoes. Days pass and he has built a huge mound of soil in his living room; he doesn't know what it is, what it means, what it accomplishes, but he has been compelled to do it. That's what it feels like to write.


    Seven days and 13,000 words into NaNoWriMo 2005, I can completely relate to his answer. Can't you?

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    Sunday, November 06, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 6: Ann Douglas said it best

    Ann Douglas has written some powerful words about "the rollercoaster ride of the writing life." Check out her Newton's Third Law -- for Writers post. In it she compares the dark days of a writer's life with the dark days of motherhood, and explains that we as writers--just like we as mothers--shouldn't be afraid to speak up about those days.

    Ann writes:

    In many ways, writers need to experience the collective empowerment that has given mothers the courage to speak up about the darker side of motherhood. They also need to realize that, like mothers, they are creators and nurturers (in their case, they give birth to ideas and nurture those ideas along). This makes them essential to the publishing process and, as such, they deserve to be treated with respect. But far too many writers lack that respect and sell themselves short, not valuing the work they do -- work that can't be replicated in exactly the same way by any machine or even any other human being.


    The moral to the story: If you're having a bad writing day, take heart; you're not alone. We've all been there. It's okay to have bad days. And don't let your inner critic get you down; what you're doing is special, it's important, and you should feel good about it.

    Thank you, Ann.

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    Saturday, November 05, 2005

     

    Thomas in vintage baby Dior

    My aunt Mary sent me an outfit that my aunt Davida had given my cousin Jim (formerly known as Jimmy) when he was a baby.

    Got all that?

    Here's Thomas wearing my cousin Jim's hand-me-down baby Dior outfit. Jim is now in his early twenties so I'm guessing this outfit is from the early 1980s.

    That qualifies for vintage status, right?


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    Friday, November 04, 2005

     

    Mommybloggers has entered the blogosphere

    Check out the new collaborative blog Mommybloggers brought to you by beloved mommy bloggers Jenn Satterwhite, Jenny Lauck, and Meghan Townsend.

    These three funny and lovely ladies led the mommy blogging session at BlogHer '05. [If you missed it, check out these notes from the session.] Their new blog will "expose the diversity of the writers who commonly fall under the label mommyblogger."

    More from Mommybloggers:

    Mommybloggers is not about regurgitating news items, or promoting products. We are not a giant list of links, with no guideposts. We want to entertain our readers with personal stories from other moms as well as to introduce our readers to these women in a more personal, intimate way that they may not have seen before.


    Sounds good to me!

    NaNoWriMo update: I'm keeping to my schedule of 2,000 words a day; so far I've written 8,361. Whee!

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    Thursday, November 03, 2005

     

    100 things about me

    In honor of my 100th Blogger post, here is the long-awaited 100 things about me.

    1. I like to laugh.
    2. I like to laugh both with people and at people.
    3. My favorite kind of humor is sarcasm.
    4. I like chocolate.
    5. I love cookies.
    6. My favorite color is blue.
    7. I have blue eyes.
    8. My first bike was a sky blue Schwinn cruiser.
    9. I was born in Oak Park, Illinois.
    10. I am a fraternal twin.
    11. My sister's name is Barb and she lives in a suburb of Chicago.
    12. She has made me an aunt three times.
    13. I have never met my father.
    14. My mother is only 22 years older than me and the age difference seems to lessen every year.
    15. I come from a large family.
    16. Most of my family lives in Illinois.
    17. I have lived in Illinois, Texas, and California.
    18. When I was little I always had my head in a book.
    19. My aunt used to say that I was 9 going on 30.
    20. Around this same time, she once told me to think before I speak.
    21. I have never forgotten her advice.
    22. My mom married my step dad in 1979. (Or was it 1980?)
    23. My family moved to Austin, Texas in 1980.
    24. In 1980 I was in 7th grade.
    25. My family moved to California in 1982.
    26. In 1982 I was in 9th grade.
    27. In high school I liked heavy metal and hard rock music.
    28. My favorite band in high school was Metallica.
    29. My favorite band of all time is Metallica.
    30. My second favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin.
    31. I was considered a stoner but I got good grades.
    32. I graduated from Acalanes High School in 1986.
    33. After I graduated I went to Chico State.
    34. My first night in the dorms I vomited on my bed.
    35. That year Chico State was voted #1 party school in the nation by Playboy magazine.
    36. During college I started listening to alternative rock and goth music.
    37. I dropped out of college after 2 years.
    38. After I dropped out of college I moved to San Francisco.
    39. I lived in a bunch of different places.
    40. I worked at a law firm and it sucked.
    41. For a brief period of time I was a temp worker.
    42. Being a temp worker definitely sucked.
    43. That's when I got a job at an insurance brokerage firm.
    44. I eventually worked my way up to the position of Underwriter.
    45. I worked at this insurance brokerage firm for 8 years.
    46. I may have enjoyed my job for 1 of the 8 years that I worked there.
    47. The rest of the time it sucked.
    48. While I worked there I had a boyfriend.
    49. He became my first husband.
    50. We had no kids together.
    51. We did have two cats.
    52. He lives in San Francisco and we occasionally see each other.
    53. I finally was honest with myself about how much I hated my Underwriting career so I quit and went back to college to finish my degree.
    54. While I was in college I divorced my first husband.
    55. I started dating a guy who was 20.
    56. I was 29.
    57. In 2000 I graduated with a degree in Technical Writing from San Francisco State.
    58. I got a job as a Technical Writer.
    59. I worked for a software company during the dot com years.
    60. I was supposed to get rich after our company went public.
    61. I did not get rich.
    62. I was lucky I didn't get laid off during the multiple rounds of lay offs.
    63. I met my husband at this company.
    64. Our courtship was brief and to the point.
    65. Our second child was born one month after our second anniversary.
    66. Our third anniversary is November 16, 2005.
    67. I love my husband.
    68. I really like my husband's family.
    69. I have a daughter named Emily.
    70. When I look at her I see my husband.
    71. This is not a bad thing.
    72. She has brown eyes and she's the most beautiful little girl I've ever seen.
    73. I breastfed Emily for six months.
    74. I have a son named Thomas.
    75. When I look at him from the back I am amazed at how wide his head is.
    76. I remember how hard it was to get his head out of my body.
    77. But I have forgotten the pain.
    78. Thomas has blue eyes and people say he looks like me.
    79. I hope this is a good thing.
    80. I am still breastfeeding Thomas.
    81. He is 11 months old.
    82. I don't know if we will have any more children.
    83. I like to read.
    84. I like to write.
    85. I would like to be a published author.
    86. I have written a number of books with titles like AvantGo 4.0 Users Guide.
    87. I liked being a Technical Writer.
    88. I'm not sure if I'll return to my career as a Technical Writer.
    89. I like to garden but I haven't done it seriously in years.
    90. I like to ride motorcycles.
    91. I enjoy food, both cooking it and eating it.
    92. I have never had an eating disorder.
    93. My body type is pear.
    94. In college my friend told me that if I was an animal, I'd be a seal.
    95. I have child bearing hips.
    96. I used to collect vintage tablecloths and Hall pottery.
    97. I stopped collecting vintage items when I started having children.
    98. Coming up with 100 things about myself is hard.
    99. I hope you don't think I'm a wimp if I quit now.
    100. I did it!


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    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 2: Practicing to make perfect

    Word count is up to 4,021 and my new mantra is practice makes perfect.

    Practice makes perfect.

    Practice makes perfect.

    Even though I might write a bunch of crappy stuff one day, I'm not going to let it get me down. I'm simply going to do the best writing I can each day, not look back, and eventually I'll get better at writing fiction, which is something that I've never actually done before now.

    I've set myself a daily goal of 2,000 words. I could probably write more--as Melanie commented, it might be possible to generate 3,000 words a day--but I'm purposely not going over my self-allotted word count. I fear burnout and I think it would be wise for me to keep doing other things that I love to do.

    Other things that I love to do include, but are not limited to, showering, eating, blogging, and taking care of my children with a smile on my face.

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    Tuesday, November 01, 2005

     

    NaNoWriMo Day 1: Get your NaNoWriMo Meter here

    I've had a great first NaNoWriMo day. I've fired my inner critic and I'm dumping out the words like nobody's business. So far I've got a little over 2000; I'm ahead of schedule!

    Also, my respect for anybody who has written a novel that has dialogue in it is growing by the minute. So far I've written five pages of thoughts, actions, and setting, but no dialogue. [Note to self: Introduce another character, please. Have your first character and your second character talk to each other, please. Please!]

    To help me stay on schedule word count-wise, my smart and geeky husband has written a NaNoWriMo Meter, an extension for the Firefox browser. So if you're not already using Firefox, go get it. Then, install this nifty extension (it will take two seconds). Once it's installed you have a visual way to confirm that you're ahead of schedule, that you're right on schedule, or that you're doomed.

    Coming up: NaNoWriMo Day 2 or procrastination through shoe shelf organization.

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