Filed under: Books and Reading
Friday, October 2nd, 2015 • No Comments on September, a month in review
I’m tired of the rain…
And so, it’s October 2nd and Hurricane Joaquin is making his way up the east coast and here in Virginia we haven’t seen the sun in a week and I’m wearing my awesome rain boots and drinking coffee. Ah, fall! I could do without the rain, but I am ready for October!
September flashed by quicker than any month so far this year, though I couldn’t tell you why. We celebrated our youngest’s birthday and school is in full swing, for both kids and spouse, which means I’ve already had my first cold of the new school year. (Boo!) I have a regular work schedule again (yay!) and the weeks fly by as I balance school schedules, writing schedules and all the rest of life.
Speaking of writing, this month I wrote several pieces for Mom.me on topics ranging from miscarriage to Minecraft and I had my second byline at Cosmopolitan with a piece on how my husband and I text more than we talk. I’m still waiting to hear about a couple of end-of-month pitches and I’m working on my October Mom.me posts, including today’s funny piece on being a field trip chaperone.
I read a few books this month, all of which I reviewed at GoodReads. I’m trying to get better about posting reviews of all the books I read– I appreciate it as an author and know how important it is, but it also helps me keep track of what I’ve read. This month’s books included Hush by Kate White, Dare Me by Megan Abbott, Hold Me Close by Megan Hart and You by Caroline Kepnes. I’m reading a lot of thrillers these days, and I suppose that’s because I want to write one. There is a plot brewing (stewing?) and while I haven’t committed to NaNoWriMo 2015 yet, there’s a good chance I’ll dive in with this book I’m wanting to write.
September was a month for having friends over for dinner, visiting the park and farmers market and rediscovering the joys of crockpot meals. There is nothing better than a slow cooked pot roast with farmers market red potatoes and carrots! It’s nesting season, a time for snuggling and cooking and contemplation. Oh, I also saw a couple of movies– what Jay has taken to referring to as “old man” movies– A Walk in the Woods with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte and The Intern with Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway.
As October kicks off with this rainy weather and cooler temperatures, I’m looking forward to my 25th wedding anniversary next week, a fantastic fall writers conference, an anniversary trip to see the fall foliage of western Virginia and, of course, Halloween! It will be a month of wonderful memories and (hopefully) delicious surprises. Enjoy all October has to offer!
Thursday, September 10th, 2015 • No Comments on August, the month in review
On the beach at Isle of Palms, SC
Okay, so it’s September 10th and I’m finally getting around to talking about August. It was busy. I have a hard time remembering everything that happened, so I have to pull out my date book and my various to do lists and sales trackers to break it all down. So… August.
I traveled for nearly half the month, spending almost a week in Charleston, SC with the family. I came home for the weekend, did my laundry, packed again and got on a plane for San Antonio. (I wrote a little about that in my July update.) The Charleston trip was part vacation, part house hunting expedition. Yes, we are considering moving back to South Carolina (we lived there from 1993-2000), but it’ll be next year before that can happen. There is still a lot up details up in the air, far more logistics than I’d like to consider, but that seems to be the way we’re headed. I’ll be writing more about it in the coming months, I’m sure, but for now it’s kind of a goal in the distance, with a lot to accomplish between now and then.
The San Antonio trip was a last minute thing– I got to tag along with a friend on her work trip and turn it into a writing retreat of my own. I saw a little bit of San Antonio, including its famous Riverwalk and The Alamo, as well as the notoriously haunted Menger Hotel. I’m planning to write something about the Menger, and work San Antonio into a couple of future pieces. While I was there, I wrote a bunch of new essays (most of which have found homes), pitched a few ideas and reworked a few old essays and sent them them back into the world. It was a productive trip, though I like a little more vacation with my work. Maybe next time.
The rest of the month was spent getting the boys ready for school (older kid started kindergarten, younger kid started pre-K). They’re in a Montessori school, so they started school at the end of August rather than after Labor Day. So at this point they’ve been in school for two weeks. It’s been adjustment, especially for my little guy, but we’re getting there! And speaking of the little one– we celebrated his 4th birthday the last weekend in August. I know the cliche is that time flies, but for the most part it doesn’t seem that way. I’ve been here with them almost full-time since they were born, working only part-time (and when they were very little, at least half of my work time was their nap time), and full-time for the past year. I’m grateful for that time, especially now that my oldest is in school hours than I used to work.
Some days with young kids can seem endless, but most of the time I’m very aware of how fleeting it all is. I think my time with them while they’ve been young has been worthwhile for all of us, especially since they’ve gotten nearly four years of being inseparable. And for me, I feel as if I know them better than anyone, having seen their moods and their developments change and mature. There is something to be said for being a stay-at-home mom, and I’m happy to say I recognized it in the moment and not just in hindsight. Of course, I’m still a stay-at-home mom and my work schedule is built around the 3 days they’re both in school (my little one goes 3 days a week for now), so I’ll be always be here. I hope that gives them confidence to do their own thing and feel secure in knowing I’m right here.
And while I’m right here packing lunches, baking cookies and going back and forth to school (and hanging out with the 4 year old on the two days he’s not in school), I’ve been writing. I have something of a writing schedule again, so I’m not keeping track of my hours, but it varies from week to week from “almost enough” to “not even close to enough,” and that’s okay. I’ve found a way to write fairly regularly and although my to do list is far longer than the hours I get each week, I have enough time to sustain my creativity most weeks. Yay for that!
August bylines included several posts at Mom.me, including one of my favorite pieces about how we gave our oldest son two middle names, one of them being the dog’s name. We lost Henry in 2011 and I still miss him all the time.
I also had some first-time bylines in Cosmopolitan (After a Childhood Spent on Diets, I’m Finally Done) and Country Living (8 Things Not to Say to a Military Wife), as well as another piece in Good Housekeeping (Being a Mom Doesn’t Define Me). Finally, I did something new– an interview piece (with kids!), sponsored by Airbnb for Huffington Post (We Asked These Adorable Toddlers if People Are Good).
Rolling into September, I have filed a couple of my Mom.me posts, tackled another sponsored interview for Huffington Post and I’m working on some fresh pitches. Autumn is my favorite season and I’m anticipating it being very productive!
It wasn’t all work and no play in August. I saw a few movies (Minions with the boys, which was cute, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.– Henry Cavill, mmmm!) and read one of my favorite books of this–or any– year: Megan Abbott‘s The Fever. Brilliantly written. It was the first book I’ve read by her and now I want to read everything she’s ever written. It’s that good!
I think that wraps up August. This summer has been a bit of a blur of fun times, emotional moments and a sense of being in constant motion, emotionally and physically. Always growing, always changing.
Here’s to a beautiful fall season!
Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 • No Comments on March: The month in review
Well loved monkey.
Despite the fact that we had snow flurries last weekend, it really is spring! March was far more productive for me than February was and I’m bouncing into April with big plans and high hopes.
The monkey belongs to my youngest son. He and I made our debut in the Washington Post last week. This poor guy inspired an essay about love, Maurice Sendak and cute aggression.
I understand wanting to devour what you love. I understand the ache of need and the sense of belonging that is making my cute little boys sink sharp baby teeth into their monkeys.
(You can read the rest at: My kids are eating their lovies)
This month also brought the release of my anthology Three of Hearts: Erotic Romance for Women. This collection of erotic romance threesomes was one of my favorite anthologies to edit. This steamy, romantic collection has stories from Tiffany Reisz, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Angela Capterton and a dozen more talented authors, plus a foreword from one of my longtime inspirations, Alison Tyler. No matter how many more anthologies I may edit, this one is going to stay with me for the variety of sexy threesomes, the depth of emotion and the sheer sensuality these authors packed into their stories.
Also this month, I cracked a new market and sold an essay to a relatively new website called The Mid. I’ve been quite impressed with the essays they’re running– especially since I’m the demographic they’re targeting!– and I’m looking forward to joining the lineup.
I think that’s it for sales and new releases this month. The horror story I wrote in January was rejected, as was an essay I wrote for the New York Times. In both cases, I knew it was a long shot– the horror anthology received something like a thousand submissions (!!) and the NYT is, well, the NYT. But still, good to stretch myself and try.
This month I read Precious Thing by Colette McBeth– a book that twisted me ’round and ’round and I’m still thinking about it. Right now I’m reading Chelsea Cain’s Heartsick— another twisty little book that I’m happy is the first in a series of mysteries.
I saw a few movies this month, too. Kingsman wasn’t what I expected, but it was fun to see Colin Firth as a badass spy. Run All Night was exactly what it looks like, but I adore Liam Neeson no matter how mediocre the movie. And it was fun to revisit the geriatric gang in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
I had 26.5 writing hours this month, compared to only 17.5 last month. Those are hours I get outside the house, alone, focused. I try to squeeze in hours here and there at home with the family, with various degrees of success. It’s not much, but I’m still managing to be somewhat productive. It’ll get better in the fall when the boys are both in school and I have 3 days a week (the little one will only go to school MWF), every week, during the school year. Something to look forward to, along with more adjustments to make. Until then, I’m being as productive as I can be given the time I have.
April will be a tough month for writing. Jay is in a transition program to become a teacher (and he’s already been offered a job for the 2015-2016 school year!), which has him in class, either online or in-person, several days a week on top of his work schedule. So I’m pretty much on parent duty non-stop through April and May. But hopefully I’ll squeeze some work hours in. Right now, I have copyedits to work on for my July anthology Best Erotic Romance of the Year (formerly Best Erotic Romance 2015). I’ll also spend this month finishing and polishing two novel proposals to send to a literary agent who has requested them. And, hopefully, writing a few new essays and sending them out into the world.
Have a lovely April!