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Archive for August, 2008

Not long ago I asked writers to consider submitting to Shroud’s new anthology, Northern Haunts. Today I want to let you know that although submissions are closed, the book is available for pre-order. You can order it in either hardcover or TPO editions, and right now it’s on sale.

Remember: all proceeds go to benefit the American Cancer Society. If you or any of your family members have ever dealt with cancer (as members of both my and Rain Dog’s families have), please consider buying a copy. Even if you don’t like to be scared, think about the people you know who do… because they will be! I have started to edit story submissions for publication, and folks, some of them are sticking with me. That is always a great sign (though not surprising given the quality of submissions to Shroud in general, and Tim’s prowess at selecting them).

Go on over and buy! Christmas (and Halloween) are coming!

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In a couple of short weeks, Hamlet will enter kindergarten. As excited as I am for him (and me!), I’m also apprehensive–not for his sake or any fear that he won’t excel, but because I know this new chapter in his life will bring changes in mine. That may sound selfish, but the fact is, listening to the other preschool moms talk this past year about their own experiences with school activities, after-school activities, their volunteer activities in the school, and (occasionally) their own work… I often wondered how I would make it all fit.

I’m not a people person and I’m comfortable with that, so I don’t see myself becoming hugely involved with the PTO or doing a lot of volunteer work in the school. At the same time, I thought, would Hamlet see other mothers volunteering more often than I do, and thus think maybe I care less? If I have trouble balancing my work life and mothering now, how will I do with school in the mix?

Enter Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too, authored by Susan Callahan, Anne Nolen, and Katrin Schumann. Indeed, in their opening chapter, they write: “But as our kids grew in inches and independence, everything started to shift…. Our lives sometimes seemed to lack achievable and satisfying personal goals.” These three are mothers who understand the balancing act, and their book is chock full of useful and resonant advice that cover a wide variety of mother care. Consider their chapter titles:

Introduction: From Never Being a Good-Enough Mother to Finding Happiness in Doing the Best You Can
1. The Attitude Shift: From Trying to Be Perfect to Taking Time-Outs for Yourself
2. The Power of Self-Awareness: From Losing Yourself in Motherhood to Understanding Who You Are Today
3. The Importance of the Here and Now: From Perpetual Preoccupation to Appreciating the Moment
4. The Value of Downtime: From Living in Perpetual Motion to Hearing Your Own Voice in the Silence
5. The Loving Link with Your Partner: From Living Side by Side to Integrating Your Life Together
6. The Need to Reach Out: From Motherhood in Isolation to Creating and Providing a Support Network
7. The Significance of Self-Care: From Never Putting Yourself First to Taking Care of Your Whole Self
8. The Power of Less: From Living a Frenzied Life to Gaining Greater Control
9. It’s Supposed to Be Fun: From Being a Good Girl to Breaking a Few Rules

But this book isn’t just about the advice. It’s interactive, with exercises to stimulate your thinking about how to get your mojo back (and what it is to begin with). Tips from the Trenches at the end of every chapter, especially, ask you to take a few risks–step away from the familiar and toward what will make you happy. Finding opportunities in ordinary life (even boredom), learning to share your interests with your children, and carving out space of your own (even if it’s in the car alone for 10 minutes with the music turned up) are just a few of the tips presented.

A freelancing friend of mine is contemplating returning to full-time work because as she says, being at home makes it too tempting for her to worry about family, friends, and neighbors. She knows she needs to say “No” more often, but sometimes it just isn’t that simple. This is the kind of book that breaks down the tasks needed to get to that point, thus making everyone happier in both the short and the long terms.

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New story published

Everyone needs a little lift when they are uncertain about life. Here’s mine: my short story “The Promise” is now online at Mouth Full of Bullets. Hope you all enjoy!

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It could work

I had an impromptu interview today with a source I had emailed only a few hours before, so I didn’t expect to hear from him quite so quickly. In the first place, I had emailed a generic police department address (the only one available), and in the second place, I had “media request” in my subject header. I figured it would take at least a week, if ever, to hear back. But no.

It’s been cold and rainy for days, so the boys were home. And it was late afternoon, and they were bored. Rain Dog ended up having to bring them upstairs, but they were in the living room for a good 20 minutes before that, talking (Hamlet) and babbling (Puck) and watching Scooby Doo. And it really wasn’t so bad. Not because it was easy to do the interview, but because the lieutenant I was talking to also has a 5 and a 2 year old. Every time mine did something he laughed, and we bookended our conversation with discussions about our kids.

My experience in the last seven years of freelancing is that the cops are almost universally understanding of small voices they hear in the background. The corporate types who supply them with equipment can be understanding, but are generally more focused and, yes, less patient. So I’m thinking that my upcoming projects, which almost all involve cops, might actually work with just Puck home. Especially if Scooby Doo is involved. I hope.

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Autumn blues

Yesterday we took the boys to the park. It was the first nice day we’d had in about a week: clouds blowing around in the sky, the sun appearing once in awhile, dry air.

We could feel fall creeping in.

This was depressing on several different levels. For Rain Dog it meant that he and the kids had just spent July watching me work. Yes, there were the days he was able to bring Hamlet out to fun places for quality father-son time, but for the most part? We had no good beach days (or beach evenings), and Puck is too little and too wild to take anywhere with Hamlet–I myself never take them both out by myself if I can help it. Anyway, faced with just four weeks left to summer vacation, Rain Dog is hoping for better weather and a better schedule.

I have autumn blues for a different reason. Over the last couple of days, I have spent much time working with various sources on a new article about mobile forensics. They are the best in the business, a loose group of investigators out West who know each other and are all on the same wavelength. It was like talking to the same guy. A few of them asked whether I was interested to work with them on more articles this fall. Before I could make excuses about having no childcare, I found myself enthusiastically writing things down.

What am I doing? I don’t know if I can pull this off. True, Puck sat quietly in his chair watching a video while I worked on the phone for over an hour. But was it a fluke? Will he do that every time? Can I depend on these sources, all of whom were very understanding when they did hear small voices on my end, to continue to have patience with us?

Last night I told Rain Dog that I am already missing this job, the synergy I have with these people. As I have said before, I really don’t want to put this off for another winter. But I don’t want to sabotage it either. I wish I had a better idea of what I “should” be doing. Until then, though, I guess the best I can do is take it a step at a time. If it’s meant to be, it will be available next spring. And if it isn’t? Well, I guess it will be the first time in my career that something I felt on a gut level won’t have worked out the way I hoped.

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