Archive for March, 2007

Spring has sprung

I saw robins on the grass yesterday. Robins!! In northern New England in March!!

Spring means new starts, so I’m bringing other news: now that the kids are more or less in a routine, my career is more or less back on track. To wit:

Spinetingler published one of my short stories, “Dream House,” in its new Spring 2007 edition.

And in a moment of sheer insanity, I did an on-site interview in preparation for a new article. After I said I wasn’t doing any more articles because I had no time or enough childcare to do interviews. However, this is local. That has less to do with arranging childcare than with the fact that it involves the fire department whose EMTs delivered my son… so everyone knows I have young kids. We’ll see how that shakes out. I’m still querying markets for that one.

Meanwhile, I have my eye on other short story markets, including some contests. It’s all about putting the work out there – especially when writing it can be agonizingly slow at times!

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Unzipping my lip

In December I blogged about a new opportunity for which I had signed a non-disclosure agreement. I wasn’t sure I would take the job – I was required to sell all rights – but in the end, medical bills caught up to us. Besides, I figured the world has enough “momoirs” and other parenting books that I probably wouldn’t need to use this specific material again.

My new job is at Family.com, a new Disney venture that has me very excited. I’m one of almost two dozen bloggers talking specific areas of family life – finances, hobbies, health, cooking; my blog is mostly about attachment parenting, although some health and public safety topics make their way in there. You can’t write about something for over five years and not have it creep into other work!

You can read – and comment on – the new blog at http://family.go.com/blog/BrideofRainDog. I hope to see you there!

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I’m maxed out today. I told Rain Dog that I keep looking for a reserve of patience to tap and I don’t have one. I know exactly what the problem is: I haven’t written anything substantive in two weeks.

Two weeks ago, I got to hide upstairs in our “study.” (That means there’s a desk and two bookcases in a small room, which also contains the diaper changing table and some junk we haven’t found a home for since we moved in.) I finished revisions on an entire novel chapter that day. It was excellent.

Since then, however, I’ve only been able to noodle – sentence here, paragraph there. I have solid ideas in my head and no way to get them on paper. Even when Hamlet is in preschool, Boris usually demands to be held for most of those two hours. Just try to type anything when you’ve got a four-month-old grabbing for the keyboard.

Times like these, I wish I were one of those mothers who lives for nothing but kids. You know, the ones who run home daycares because they loooove kids so much. I may not have endless patience, but I feel like I might enjoy them a little more.

Which is foolish. I do enjoy my kids, very much. I enjoy them even more when I’ve had a good writing day. Like yesterday: I did my first on-site interview in four years. Had a great rapport with the interviewee, on a subject I was really into. Got home, spent the rest of the day having a good time with the boys.

I guess I just wish it was the boys who recharged my batteries, rather than an activity that pulls me away from them. But I’m not wired that way, so I guess it’s just about enjoying the time I do have with them to the fullest.

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Sandra has declared March 12 Ken Bruen Appreciation Day, to show support for a very well-known author who is, despite his great successes, nothing but humble and kind to everyone he meets – especially fans and new authors.

I have to admit that I have neither met Mr. Bruen nor read his books (which I am quite embarrassed about, even given my time constraints). However, after reading so much about him, I’ve put him first on my TBB/TBR list.

What does this have to do with writing and parenting? Maybe not much; I don’t even know if Mr. Bruen has children. However, considering that Hamlet has been learning his first lessons about the nasty ways people can treat other people – no matter how nice a person you are, or how well you treat others – I think “nice” is not a quality that should be taken for granted. More importantly, people do exist that we can point to as those our children should emulate. By all accounts, Mr. Bruen is just such a person. That, if nothing else about him, deserves all the appreciation we can give.

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As part of the 2007 Blog Short Story Project (thanks, Bryon and Dave), I’m posting the following short story. This, incidentally, is the reason why you will not see photos of my kids here anytime soon….

Blogging a Fantasy

I’ve never had much faith in the Internet’s so-called power to bring people together. That is, until I saw my pretty princess for the first time. Then my assumptions about everything changed.

I don’t even remember how I found her blog. I probably Googled models, or something. All I remember is seeing her picture. Some photo shoot she’d just come back from. God, she was beautiful. Curly brown hair down her back, delicate bone structure, perfect fit in her clothes no matter the cut or color.

But it was her face most of all, her shining pixie face. Her wide eyes were liquid crystal blue; her lips, pink Cupid’s-bow perfection. I go to sleep dreaming of those lips.

The blog, a running account of her nascent modeling career, made it so easy for me to follow her. For six months, I traveled to the cities she visited, watched her walk runways and perform songs and show everyone how special she was. Once I even got into a pageant’s backstage. That was a trip. It turned out just the same as in the movies–I knocked out a maintenance guy, dressed in his clothes and walked around the dressing areas and makeup booths for a while. What an opportunity. It could only have been destiny.

That was why I tried to get close to her for the first time. The only problem was, there were too many people around. Even so, a glimpse was enough. She was dressed like a harem girl. Exquisite.

The next week, a harem-girl photo was posted, along with a beach photo, a cowgirl photo, and an evening-wear photo. I couldn’t help it. I started posting comments, anonymously, of course. How pretty you are, I said. You’ll go far in the industry. Because it wasn’t just the outfits, or even the whole package. It was the sparkle in her eyes, the way she got into each “role,” her movements. I mentioned all that, too.

The next week, anonymous comments had been disabled. That upset me. I only wanted to encourage her. I used the name of a girl I liked in high school, left a comment about how much I admired her ability to shine through the lesser talent.

My big chance came two weeks after that, in the post that told me she would be in a modeling show at the Maine Mall. Just fifteen minutes from home, the entry said.

I Googled the Maine Mall, then went over to Priceline.com and set up my trip, a nice plane ticket-hotel-rental car package. It would have to be my last trip, though, or else I’d lose my job. That was okay, though. I had big plans for this trip.

Once I got to Portland, I found everything exactly where Mapquest said it would be, and the rest by observation and instinct. Watched the show like I always did. Mediocre little production, clearly a local affair. Beneath my princess, who was as always the star of the show.

I followed her to her car when it was done. Memorized the license plate, make, and model. Back at the hotel, I searched on her last name. I found a few matches in the general area. Then I went to find her.

Success came three hours later, around dinnertime. She lived in Gorham, in a nice cul-de-sac. I matched the address with the car.

I drove by a couple of times, planned how I would take her. It wouldn’t be hard if I did it at night. She was an only child, and I could take care of her parents if I had to. Joseph Edward Duncan III took care of a whole family out in Idaho.

Before I do her mother, though, I’ll thank her. If she hadn’t posted those pictures of my princess on her blog, I never would’ve found her.

Link to other great short stories from Bryon’s blog.

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Hamlet recently got into the movie Cars. (This is but one of many reasons why fast, loud cars must be a matter of nature, not nurture: we are not NASCAR fans. But I digress.) It’s a movie that’s on the long side for kids, but has plenty of speed and noise for them and enough character development for the adults watching with them.

Like many DVDs, this one contains extras like deleted scenes. These are what caught my eye, for two reasons:

First, these scenes–there are four of them–contain bits of action and dialogue that made it into the final production, but not in the same context or sequence. Second, the scenes are old in movie years. Cars came out just last year, but some scenes date back to 2002.

Watching other creative works take shape like this fascinates me. As these scenes show, revision is absolutely critical. Some things make sense, but make even more sense when put together a different way. Others are attractive, but detract from the story’s overall point; thus they must be cut. And making things make sense takes time–sometimes a lot of it.

It’s nice to see depth in a kids’ film, but even nicer to see depth that reinforces certain truths about creation.

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