Catching up / Raising Empowered Daughters / Looking ahead

I’ve been absent. From the blog, anyway. And probably from lots of other stuff that I simply don’t make time for right now. But let’s catch up:

I’m pregnant with my third child, due in mid-November. We all are very excited, though frankly in my day-to-day with my five-year-old and my three-year-old, my pregnancy is an afterthought. I have lots of lower back pain, which really sucks. But I didn’t have any nausea, so there you have it.

I am still writing, though not as regularly as I’d like to be. I am working on a personal essay and have a piece of flash fiction submitted to my writing group for review. I’m trying to finish some piece of writing every month, so I hope to write something new (all the way to its ending) this month.

I’ve picked up a freelance writing gig wherein I write a reflection on some research I find (not a review, exactly, but hopefully a more digestible and accessible curation of ideas that emerge from the research I read).

I’m reading a lot lately, too. I’m in two book clubs that meet in person, and one that is online.

Dang it, I’m in love with the book Raising Empowered Daughters: A Dad-to-Dad Guide. Note that I am, in fact, not a dad, but a mom. I was introduced to the book via Cool Mom Picks (this is the online book club), and I think it’s really powerful. Written by a guy, Mike Adamick, he’s trying to reach other dads and guys out there who are raising girls. Every chapter lays out all the ways in which our culture is cheating our kids through the language we use and the products we buy. We are teaching our girls and our boys that girls are lesser than. And so we need to be intentional about how we speak to our kids (and how we don’t) about gender. I have a boy and a girl (and maybe another girl in November? I don’t know). It’s a maddening and lovely book.

Looking ahead, I’m planning to publish a podcast episode once every other week. I’m working on putting all of that together. I am truly addicted to podcasts, and simply want to have one of my own. Not that I expect listeners. I just want to do it.

Anybody out there?

The Round House / a story out in October / Chet Faker

Right now, I’m reading a few books, but most notably I’m trying to finish one. The Round House, by Louise Erdrich, has been a great, although slow, read so far. I’d say I’m about 80% through it. A novel, it’s about a 13-year-old Native American boy whose father is a tribal judge and whose mother had a very violent crime committed against her. One of the questions has to do with how to try the accused, given that the mother doesn’t recall if the crime happened on tribal land. There’s another mysterious element in it, which took its sweet time to reveal itself. I have been reading this for weeks, and though I like Erdrich and I like the story and I think the main character, Joe, is compelling, I can’t seem to get through the damned thing. Luckily it’s a library book, so I have a deadline to get it read.

I cannot believe I did not realize that Louise Erdrich lives here in Minneapolis, nor did I know that she owns and runs Birchbark Books. I’m embarrassed that I didn’t know that!

Oo, also: I’m in my “I get to read scary books because it’s almost Halloween” piece of the year. I have It waiting for me at the library.

My own writing news is that I’ve had a story accepted for publication at Flash Fiction Magazine. It will be out on October 27.

As far as new-to-me music goes, I’m really liking Chet Faker (or as he’s known now, Nick Murphy). Just sayin.

Sandra / Poets & Writers / Ed Harcourt

Of the 50 GB of podcast episodes I currently have in my library, one of my favorites is the first season of Sandra. This podcast is scripted sci-fi. I loved it.

The synopsis:

“A world where artificial intelligence isn’t so artificial.
Helen thought her new job would help her forget her dreary hometown, but working behind the curtain on everyone’s favorite A.I. isn’t quite the escape she expected.”

The three big actors in the series are Alia Shawkat (who I know only from “Arrested Development,” but she’s done a lot lately), Kristen Wiig, and Ethan Hawke. There are only seven episodes in the first season, and each of the episodes is about a half hour long. It’s so good — the story is interesting and creepy, but I think the most satisfying component of the whole thing is that we’re hearing Wiig and Shawkat and Hawke without seeing their awesome faces.

Right now, I have 1,876 unread e-mails in my inbox. (I have a system for catching the important ones.) The newsletter I’m trying to catch up on this week is Poets & Writers. What I like about this newsletter is that in most editions, there is a poetry prompt, a fiction prompt, and a creative non-fiction prompt. It also features a book about the writing practice. All of this is useful, I just never get around to using its usefulness…

As far as music goes, I haven’t gotten into this week’s album yet, but I’m looking forward to it. I heard Ed Harcourt’s song, “There’s a Light Below,” and got his album “Furnaces” as a result. I’ll get to it this week.

Any good music out there?

I write: Flash fiction and what it’s doing for me

I am writing. I am in a quasi-habit of writing on a somewhat regular basis. I’m in a writers’ group of four fiction writers, and I’m loving that. The feedback is always great, but mostly I’m happy to have a deadline and to have other people expecting something from me.

I’m nearly ready to submit a flash fiction story. I will try to have that out by next week. I’m going to send it to three places, and see what happens from there.

Flash fiction is so much more accessible and attainable for me right now. I would love to have the stamina and organizational skills to attempt to write a novel (and frankly, I’d love even more to have the time and space), but I’m lucky right now to get a few minutes in the fringes. I love flash fiction, though — writing it is fun because I know I can finish the thing, and reading it doesn’t take more than a few minutes.

I have had a lot of trouble getting a routine down, so I’ve decided to screw the routine and write whenever and however I can. I’m getting used to writing on my phone. I’m happy to write in the car while my kids sleep.

So. I’m writing. I’m happy for that.

Here is a story of mine that was published:

The Dog in the Moonlight

Any good writing podcasts out there?

I read: Brain Rules for Baby and The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice podcast


It’s Tuesday. I’m writing this in the car. Rather, I’m writing this in my office. (I am in this car more than any other place, I think.) My kids are snoring in the backseat, and I drug along my computer for this very purpose: To do something while they allowed it. And they’re allowing it now, as I am allowing them to push back their bedtime tonight…

Anyway. I have Book Club this week and haven’t even started the book. Dang it. I have a new rule: I cannot start a book until I have finished two of the books I’m already reading. So I’m trying really hard to finish a book so that I can start White Houses, by Amy Bloom. I know it’s a novel, but truthfully I’m not excited about it. But! I really wasn’t that into the book that I’m trying to finish until I gave it a chance, and now I’m loving it, so there. That one is Brain Rules for Baby, by John Medina. I haven’t read many books about parenting or baby development since I gave birth to my first new person almost five years ago. This book was recommended by an Early Childhood Family Educator, and I’m into it. It covers brain development from pregnancy through five years, and looks at how all kinds of things do and don’t affect the baby’s brain at certain stages. One of the take-aways I have is that the stress a mother feels while pregnant can be truly detrimental to an unborn child (I mean, sure, I knew that, but reading it here really brought that home). Something else in the book I liked was the reference to growth mindset parenting, in which I can applaud the effort that my kids employ as opposed to acknowledging only that they achieved something or won something or what have you. I was so proud of my two-year-old the other day when she was trying to get herself into her car seat but fell out, and instead of being really pissed and embarrassed and frustrated, she actually said, “I need to try again,” and did so. I praised her for her effort. That was awesome.

Now, I need to finish this book before I can start the book that I have to have read by Friday night.

My husband told me that my phone is holding 50 MB of podcast episodes, waiting sweetly for me to hear each and every one of them, whenever in life that might be.

The podcast I’m into this week is The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice. I love it. I’m pretty current with this one because it’s new to me (though I’ve been listening to The New Yorker: Fiction for many years). In “The Writer’s Voice,” a writer who is published in The New Yorker simply reads his or her story. I love, love, love the episode story, David Gilbert Reads “Fungus”.

It’s fantastic.

Another thing I’m really into lately: Newsletters. Is that weird? One of my very favorites is Brain Pickings, by Maria Popova. Some of the articles in the most recent edition are titled “Marcus Aurelius on How Meeting Reality on Its Own Terms Helps Us Live Through Our Difficulties,” “Amanda Palmer and the Decomposers Cover Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ in Tribute to Rachel Carson,” and “The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics Pioneer Norbert Wiener on Communication, Control, and the Morality of Our Machines.” And more, in just one newsletter. Man, it is so, so good. So good.

Oh, and finally, I just finished the album “Freetown Sound” by Blood Orange. I had heard the song “Best To You” and had decided to give the album a shot, but… it won’t make my Favorites playlist. It’s a lot of R & B with some shimmery 80’s to it. I didn’t love it. Next! (I’ll be listening to Ed Harcourt next week.)

Anything good out there?

A semi-annual re-launch of the blog (and what I’m reading)

There are so many things I want to do on a daily basis. So many things that I don’t fit them in, and then I write and re-write a list of priorities every so many weeks.

Today I woke up at 4:30 so that I can get a few things in before the rest of the household wakes. This is an experiment. I conduct so many experiments, usually starting on Mondays. A few Mondays ago, I decided it would be a good idea to drop caffeine and alcohol forever. This experiment, this forever commitment, lasted until the following Saturday.

At 4:30 this morning, I wrote for half an hour, with pencil on paper, and then transitioned to writing this damned story I want to finish for the next couple of hours. It was a frustrating morning, but maybe I’ll actually get something done some day.

I wonder how long I will be able to stay awake. I’m hoping until the kids go to sleep tonight.

Another new experiment is to blog. Post to the site. What an idea.

Last week I started Jonathan Franzen’s novel Purity. At 598 pages, I’ll be reading it for a while. According to Kindle, I’m only 22% into it.

The podcast I’ve got on my priority listening list this week is The Poetry Magazine Podcast. I don’t write poetry now, but anything and everything to do with words is always interesting and inspiring to me. The episodes run around half an hour, and there are typically two or three poems read and discussed.

That’s what I have for now.

I read: Fates and Furies and Stuff Mom Never Told You

Hi kids.

August. Both of my kids have birthdays this month. My mother-in-law turns 80 this month, and my parents have their anniversary this month, too. We have several other family birthdays. We also have lots of international family visiting, and man oh man, it’s busy.

I started Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff, a few days ago. Though it’s not a very long novel, it’s going to take a good long time for me to read it; the language is dense and gorgeous and will take a lot to process. Typically when I pick up a novel I have no idea what it’s going to be about. I decided on this title because it was the next title reviewed in a podcast book club, so here we are. I say this because I’m only two chapters in and can’t really tell you what it’s about yet. The library needs it back in just a couple days, and I can’t renew it because there are “people in line” for it, so I actually bought the book. (I hope I finish it, now that I’ll own it. I won’t have a deadline to read it!)

The podcast I’m featuring this week (which means I listen to an episode of this before I move on to the news) is Stuff Mom Never Told You. I had it in my rotation a few years ago, but unsubscribed for some reason I can’t remember. This is a weekly podcast hosted by two women about all things and how they apply to women. The last couple of episodes have been about mental health in the black community, and work fails. The episodes run about 45 minutes. (The most memorable episode of this series was a few years ago when the hosts covered vajazzling. Do you know what that is? I hope not, Mom. Vajazzle: To adorn the pubic area of a woman with crystals, glitter, and other decoration. Yoikes.)

Have you read anything by Lauren Groff?


I read: Happier At Home and The Secret Library Podcast

Hey there.

The week goes on, doesn’t it? Today is only Tuesday.

Last week my word count was 2,956. I think I got around four hours of writing done. That’s fine with me. I will continue to do as I do and get done what I get done. I did write up a short article that I submitted to an online magazine yesterday. I do not know when I’ll hear from them, but I gather they’re looking for submissions for their winter volume.

I’m deciding on realistic submission goals. Should I aim to submit a piece or a query once a week? Once a month, as I’m just beginning here? Or is that crazy?

I want to shave my head so I can’t pull out my hair.

I’ve mentioned before that I cannot abandon a book once I’ve started it, haven’t I? (I also can’t ditch a TV series. I’m still working my way through “The West Wing.” What’s cool about that is that I’ve found an accompanying podcast, so knowing that I get a podcast episode out of every TV episode really escalates my enjoyment. 🙂 ) I started Gretchen Rubin’s Happier At Home on August 10, 2014. I know this because I track these things pretty closely, mostly on Goodreads. Here I am, almost three years later, still wondering what it’s like to be Happier At Home.

Actually, I like the book. I like Rubin’s other books and her other endeavors that you can find at her website. This book breaks down every month of the school year and offers Rubin’s attempts at enjoying herself more in her home life by way of monthly themes. The only reason I haven’t gotten through the book is because I own it. Therefore, I have no deadline to read it. If it were a library book, I’d have to have it read in three weeks.

Don’t buy me a book you want me to read.

Here’s the book. Rubin’s newest title is The Four Tendencies, if you’re curious.

I’m pretty new to the podcast I’m featuring this week: The Secret Library Podcast, but I’m excited about it. The episodes are interviews with creative people — mostly authors, but some other media as well. I was inspired by Episode #28, “Gary Wilson on Structure and Novels.” I am troubling through the feelings of writing a first draft. I was interested in what Wilson said about the way he approaches his — he writes the whole first draft without editing it or revising it at all. Wow. Man, that could be hundreds of pages of unedited story. The idea of that is both liberating and terrifying.

The episodes run about 50 minutes, on average. I like it. I’m keeping it in my rotation.

How’s your Tuesday?

I write: Building stamina

Listen. I am new to this. I have two small babes and am three days into a new schedule, complete with an out-of-town husband. I find it so easy to think big picture as opposed to what I can realistically accomplish today.

A while ago my husband and I trained for a half marathon together. (We completed the half marathon, and a full marathon the following year, though the word “complete” is loosely used here.) Anyway, I hadn’t run such a long distance before, so I really appreciated having a training schedule that accommodated that. I had to build stamina and strength and learn how to endure the boring stretches of pavement in front of me. Yes, I could’ve talked to my husband, who was running right beside me. But that would have left me more breathless and pained. One day I may share about the race that we ran together wherein he, being the nurturing, thoughtful person he is, offered me some water and I yelled an obscenity and threw the Dixie cup on the ground for hundreds of people to stomp on. Immediately following the race he proposed to me. I guess my rage must do it for him.

My hope is that one day I will accept a gift without screaming and throwing a tantrum in public. Also, I hope to spend hours upon hours — maybe not consecutively — writing. But to do that, I have to teach myself how to sit and create and think like I need to do, in smaller chunks. I’m aiming to write for one hour per day. So far this week I’ve hit that mark. I’m also hoping to finish something that I’ve been trying to get done for a while now and submit it to a magazine I’ve landed on by the end of the week.

I have no idea how to do any of this. 🙂