Monday, August 15, 2016

What did you do this morning?

I applied for a  grant. Excuse me while I puke.

Wait. I should back up, yes?

Where did we leave off? My dog died and we got a new puppy. I recorded a podcast, had a new site director and had just began (finished) hand editing my novel. And that was all eight months ago. So...

We have another puppy! Nothing is wrong with Mason. He just needed a buddy, I'm a sucker and my daughter and I wanted some more estrogen in the house. Enter Paisley Osgood, an English Springer Spaniel. You would think a dog would be a dog but no. Spaniels are so different from labs. For one, she "talks" all the time, especially at my husband. It's adorable. The pooping and peeing in the house... not so much. Yeah, we're (still) working on that.

As summer was edging closer, I began to look for a summer coaching position. I adore my job with the team that swims all year but hours get cut down during the summer. Most deck/assistant coaches seek additional hours with the summer league teams and I found a great position in a nearby town. Every morning I would get up at 530 a-frikkin-m and leave the house by seven. Can we say commute? I had one and I didn't like it.

But I did like the team and my co-workers. Scratch that- I loved them. I had the best co-workers and our parents were amazing. You don't have to be a parent to know that sports parents can make or break a team and these made my summer. I learned so much, had so much fun and grew as a coach. I couldn't ask for anything more!

Because I am insane and believe in hitting the ground running. I also took on private swim lessons at a community center and will be teaching swim lessons there during the school year. Preschool swim lessons. Can we say oy vey?

I hand edited my novel. Then I edited it again. It is currently with some beta readers and alpha readers and readers who simply wish to read a novel for free. I swear I am done editing it now but since Clinton was in office when I began it, I have my doubts. (The president, not the secretary of state.) No, really, I mean it this time!

Since my summer consisted of pool, kids, pool, dog hair, pool writing has fallen aside. Now that all four are in school for six hours a day, I hope to get back to the writing/querying side of things. I mean, I know we've heard that before but I mean it this time! No, really. I applied for that grant, after all!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Where to begin?

It seems that a new year is always for new beginnings. This year, it's also for endings.

Where to begin? Oh, where? At the end of September, a coach I work with took a new job and left. We had a temporary head coach for 6-8 weeks before getting a new head coach... and then the other deck (assistant) coach I worked with left. Have you ever tried to help 30+ 9-15 year olds through major transitions? While you have your own kids? Yeah. Physically and emotionally exhausted doesn't begin to describe it.

Right as we got our new head coach, Higgins, our giant black lab, got sick. It was my son's birthday and I said to the vet tech, "I don't care what the problem is, the dog DOES NOT die today. No way." He didn't die that day- he waited until a week later, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday indeed.

We thought he had a simple inflammation but the treatment didn't seem to be making him feel better. Thanksgiving night, he threw up bile. The next day, I headed into work (coaching hours change over the holidays) while Engineer Husband took him to the vet. I kinda knew it was coming but it was confirmed when I walked into the vet's office and he didn't even stand to greet the children. The vet talked to us, and Higgins had a massive abscess in his belly. He was in alot of pain and we were given several options. I actually wanted to do surgery, money be damned, to see if it was treatable. Could we remove the abscess and treat the other inflammation? And if the abscess was indeed cancer, just simply not allow him to wake up?

In the end, after hashing out all the details, the what-ifs, the how-to, we decided the most loving thing was to put him to sleep. I HATE IT. HATE IT. I feel like I'm playing God, even though Higgins was clearly telling us he was in pain. He could barely walk into the exam room and hardly lifted his head when the children came in. And, geez, the kids. My 11 year old tries to be all tough and manly and I held him while he sobbed. It. was. horrible.

As I said to my husband later, "The dog was a giant pain in my backside when he was alive and he didn't even have the decency to be sick for a long time. HE JUST DIED."

Needless to say, that put a damper on the holiday season. Neither EH nor myself were eager to jump on the new dog bandwagon. Both FancyGirl and Higgins were older when we adopted them and were only with us for five years before passing away. As much as we were committed to adopting older dogs, we simply couldn't face the "every five years plan" of putting a dog down. I feel like Higgins death was sudden, and I needed time to recover. I didn't even want my in-laws dog to stay with us over the holidays. I couldn't do it.

Until my evil, evil husband took me to PetSmart under the LIE of getting bird feed for the WildLife Bird Habitat we have going on in our backyard. (Four feeders and counting!) It was adoption day and I saw all the dogs and said "NO DOG" ... until a little Mini Aussie Shepherd puppy sat in my lap and snuggled. Then I was all, "DOG! PUPPY!"

We did not get that puppy (long story that makes me grumpy) but a one year old yellow lab named Mason joined out family this past weekend. I wanted small, girl and NotALab. He is small, male and very much a lab. He's a rescue and a "guide dog school" drop out. He's still very much a puppy and likes to play fetch with himself. It's adorable! He walks well on a leash, sheds, loves his people and can destroy balls in a single chewing. Good thing he;s cute!

While our time with Higgins was ending, and we were beginning a new life with Mason, my sister's family had their own new beginnings going on. Shortly after the new year, my sister had a  little girl at 25 weeks. My super adorable niece, Fruit Punch, is hanging in there. She looks JUST like my sister as a baby and I cannot wait to see her this weekend.

With so much going on I realized I needed a change. I tried something new, kickboxing class. I hate exercising in front of people and mirrors in equal measure but kickboxing is NOT the hardest thing I have ever done. Sure, I was and still am SUPER sore but it was a fun class. You can really work out some aggression on those bags!

Because I'm all about new things, I also helped record a podcast with two friends. My friend Charlie hosts Unblocked . We talked about books, award winning books, Percy Jackson, and so much more. I'll be sure to write more about it when the episode is on line!

As for my own writing, it took a backseat while all the work/dog/baby/kid stuff was going on. I juuust printed out the last pages in Until Then to finish hand-editing it. I had a dream that needs to be in a book. My husband got me a tablet with a proper keyboard for Christmas so I can write easily from anywhere. Here's to publishing the book in 2016! Well, one can hope....

Monday, October 5, 2015

I swear I am alive

I know I haven't blogged since July but I swear I am alive. I no longer feel like a Mommy-blogger, now that my kids are older. I mean, it's one thing to blog about potty training but puberty? Yeah, not sure my kids would ever forgive me for that!

So much has happened since the amazing trip to NYC. As soon as I got back, swim season ended and we picked my son up from a 3 week long trip with my parents. No sooner had we returned than we packed everyone up and went to up north to visit family. School began three days after we got back! And a week later, Engineer Husband had surgery! Oh, a week after THAT, I began coaching again.

Just as I began hoping everything would settle down, we've had an upheaval at work and things are crazy again! My car is currently requiring major $$$ in repairs. I want to DNR the thing but EH says a new car would be more expensive. I'm not seeing it but hey.

On the writing front, I'm using my free time in the morning to edit my book... again. I'm printing it off in bits and pieces, hand editing and then I'll go back a fix it in the computer. I've edited it plenty of times straight from the doc but I think hand editing is going to have to be my final go-to. It's old skool but it works for me.

My sister reminded me I need to get on making Christmas crafts. I wanted to make some super cute bird ornaments but I don't think I'll have the time. I may make their St. Nicholas PJ's though!

Okay, yeah, and I'm also using the time to catch up on my shows on Netflix. I do this while folding laundry. Laundry. Yeah. :)

Speaking of Mt. WashMore....

Monday, July 13, 2015

"Girl in Glass" Book Launch

A few months ago, the author of the soon to be released book "Girl in Glass" contacted me.  The end result, after much squealing and fan girl-ing, is that I will be attending her book launch on Wends, July 15.

I know! I know! I'm stupid excited. I get to see my grandmother, a whole bunch of family, and attend a real, live awesome book launch! The only downside is the time off work but the head coach I work with is super supportive. I plan on bringing them all back cookies. (No, really. I know where to get my favorite cookies and it's only in the same area as the launch.)

I'll post pictures to my facebook page, Slaying Dragons, if anyone wants to follow along. And please do! It should be amazing!

Friday, April 24, 2015

On the Deck: springtime reading

I set my goal to read 50 books this year. It's not going so hot. By the time I get home in the evening, all I want to do is sleep! I swear I get a better workout on the deck than the kids who are swimming!

It's slow going but here's some books we've read recently and loved. Please note all links are affiliate links.

Mom (Me!)

This is one of the few (two, I think) books authorized by Margret Mitchell's estate. While I find parts of it hard to follow- lots of people have the same or similar names- it's an enjoyable story about how Mammy came to live with the O'Hara's. You also learn more about Scarlett's extended family; specifically her mother and grandmother.

This book is so, so well written. Scotland is its own character in the story and even minor characters are well developed. I do have some trouble caring about the main character, Claire, but that's probably because she is so true to her time. It wouldn't have been true to the time(s) she lives in to make her a headstrong feminist who refused to do some of the things she did. Oh, and while the TV show is smutty (good but smut) the book isn't. However, if you can handle or fast forward through some of the more graphic scenes, the TV show is worth your time!

You also need to go over to WaldenMommy for a guest post about this book and then READ IT.

Eleven Year Old Boy:

 I told him to hurry up and finish these so I can read them!

Nine Year Old Girl:

 She's working her way through the entire series and loves them. They combine history and animal rights with fictional stories about brave dogs. It's pretty cool!

Six and Five Year Old Boys:

 If you haven't read Pete the Cat, you need too! The pictures are cute and the text if fun and easy to read. There is also a seris of easy readers that my six year old loves. The Little Duck was a favorite of mine when I was little and there's a whole slew of books about animals (goat, pig, sheep, kitten, puppy) that kids enjoy. My bird watchers are into it, and the Nat.Geo Bird guide. The pictures are bright, the text is easy enough for kids to read but isn't dumbed down. We keep it on our kitchen table to match the birds outside with the pictures in the book.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Guest Post: SCHISM book release on WaldenMommy

You all know I love a good book and I love, love helping others promote their books! Hop over to WaldenMommy for a guest post from the author of Schism. Oh, and did I mention a giveaway? Who doesn't love free stuff?!

Go on. Click on the link. You know you want too.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

It's never "just" a book

Honestly, I am so, so over this 50 Shades of Grey book and movie. I do not like either. The writing is horrible. The main female character, Ana, is unbelievable. The main male character, Christian Grey, is an abusive jerk. Oh, and did I mention the writing is HORRIBLE and it is about an abusive relationship? No, no it's not the BDSM that makes it abusive. BDSM in a normal, healthy relationship done properly between consenting adults is fine. Their relationship is not normal, healthy, the BDSM is not done right (from what I understand), nor do I think Ana is mature enough to fully consent to the BDSM. 

People say, "it's just a book." No, it's not. There is no such thing as "just" a book. "Just" implies that books do not have the power to influence people. That's never the case. All books have the power to influence the reader. Isn't that was every writer wants- to arise emotion in their reader, for good or ill? Romance novels want to draw the reader into the characters' world and turn the reader on. Fantasy takes you to another world. Self-help books give you ideas and tips on improving areas of your life. Certain novels, like The Hunger Games, 1984, Brave New World, point out flaws in our current society within the releam of a dystopia or uptopian universe. 

The written word always has the power to influence people. If it had none, why do people try to ban books? Why did certain societies burn books that they considered dangerous? (Think of the book burning scene in The Book Thief. Heck, think of the whole novel! If books weren't considered a dangerous influence on society, why did she have to steal them?) Books can change society, insight riots and be powerful forces of propganda. Don't believe me? Consider some of these books:

The Bible (the very word comes from the word for book, biblo)
The Koran
The Torah
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Remember learning about this book in history class when you studied the American Civil War?)
The Diary of Anne Frank (How many of you identified with her and were awakened to the horrors of Nazi Germany?)
Night by Ellie Weisel
Walden and "On Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau (The latter is an essay but both inspired Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr)
The Harry Potter series
The Hunger Games (protesters in India have adopted Katniss' three fingered salute that became a symbol of protest and defiance in the novels.)
Mien Kampf by Adolph Hilter. (Yep, THAT Hilter)

Now, I know what you're thinking- most of these are classic works of literature that you have read and analyze in English classes. Most people don't willing read them and "fluff" novels outsell classic literature. And you know what? You're right! 

Who wasn't moved by The Fault in Our Stars? You'd have to have the heart of a Weeping Angel to  not be moved by that book. When I say "Kansas" do you think about Dorothy and Toto? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was a book long before it was a movie. Shannon Stacy writes romance novels- not "Mommy P0rn" but romantic books with well developed characters and hilarious dialogue. You'll fall in love with the Kowalski family and isn't that the point of reading novels- to fall in love (or hate) the characters? To be invested in their outcome? (Come on... you know you wanted to throw the third Divigrent book across the room when.... well, read it.)

To say something is "just ____" implies that it is the least of something. It has no power. If books are "just" and thus have no power over readers, why do we fight so hard to make sure every child has an education? Why do people get riled up when certain classes (girls, minorities, etc) are denied an education? If words don't mean anything and books are a "just," then it shouldn't matter if everyone can read and write, huh?

No sane person will say that literacy is a "just" or that it is not important for everyone. Thus, words and books have power, the power to change the world and influence society. Yes, even poorly written fluff novels like 50 Shades.

50 Shades is marketed directly at women. As my sister said on Facebook, it's too believable. It's too close to home. Although some of it is stupid (like Ana having never read or used e-mail- come on!), it's "fantasy" doesn't have to do with things that don't exist, like vampires and werewolves. Billionaires are real. Rape is real. Child abuse is real. To say that everyone who reads this should know better is victim blaming. Not everyone has had the role models in life to know that the relationship in this book isn't healthy and that Christian Grey isn't a desirable man.

Should these books be banned? No. (I do wonder how the hell they were published in the first place since the writing is so bad!) I don't believe in banning books. However, the fact that they are marketed as showing a great relationship, or new ideas to spice up the bedroom (for the love of... read up on how to that properly!) and that Grey is something more than a mentally effed up rapist. I do think these books could influence a generation of young woman to think that a man who controls you, tracks your phone, stalks you, acts angry/jealous when you speak to other men, etc is "showing how much he loves you." Is this actually possible? Considering how heavily this book has been marketed, the audience that reads it, the power of literature and the level of denial that people exhibit when it comes to this boo and movie... it's not out of the realm of possibility. At all. 

For more on the topic of why 50 Shades is abusive:
Rosie Reviews
50 Abusive Moments in 50 Shades

And a big thanks to Katnissdoesnotfollowback for the inspiration!