Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Is There Room Here for a WAHM-to-Be? *Waves*

I don’t know anything about parenting. Yet.

So what am I doing as a guest blogger on a families and parenting blog? That’s easy. Just five weeks ago, I got some information that told me I had better learn—quickly!

The very same day I found out I was pregnant, Julie Fletcher invited me to be a guest blogger on Family Resource. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting—and pass my knowledge on to Family Resource’s faithful readers.

Lest you think I’m some bachelorette noob who knows nothing about running a household, parties every weekend and lives on pizza (you’d be right about the last part), I’ve been married for five years. My husband and I have been living successfully as a couple (and raising four cats) for the past decade. For almost exactly a year, I’ve been a full-time, work-at-home freelance writer or, as Julie calls me, a Future WAHM.

Stacey Graham left some big shoes to fill as a guest blogger. But I’d like to think, over the past decade or so, I’ve accumulated some advice and knowledge to share on the topics of cleaning; cooking quick, healthy meals; organizing a home office; green living; saving money; and of course, most recently, conception and pregnancy.

Who knows? I may even post some interviews with real-live Moms here in this space.

Right now, I’d like to share a few of my favorite places on the Internet for moms-to-be.

Babies Online – This is one of my first stops when I want to track the stages of my pregnancy, find out odd facts or research the latest myth. Today, I discovered that, at 5 weeks into the pregnancy, the baby’s major organs are starting to develop, but the little one is only the size of a grain of rice! That’s simply mind-boggling to me, that something so small can have a heart, lungs, and even a little-bitty hand!

FitPregnancy – This sleek Web site, companion to the print publication, features great breaking news articles. Planning a move and wondering what the best city is to have a baby? Portland, Oregon, ranks number one on FitPregnancy’s list. Click here to find out why.

ePregnancy.com – I know a number of freelance writers who got their start here, so, of course, I had to check it out when we first started trying to conceive. The articles are well-researched and fun-to-read, and the site features a lot of great videos, too. If you’re pregnant and debating between a hospital, home birth or midwife in a birthing center, check out this video.

I’m still surfing around for smaller, personal pregnancy blogs. Feel free to share the links if you know of any good blogs written by pregnant women, who are letting us share their journey.

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing, Guest Blogger | 2 Comments »

Holiday Productivity (or non-productivity)

How many times have you made plans in the evening, right before going to bed only to find the next day that everything you plan to do has gone *POOF*? During the holiday season this happens more often. I notice that my plans go awry almost from the time I wake. Breakfast slows down because the kids need this and that, baby decides to wash his hair with syrup, big sister un-decorates the tree. These minor mishaps through the rest of the morning into a down spiral.

I don’t post too often about my writing here or my own experiences at home. But, today seemed to be the perfect idea for a post to share with you. If you are a mom or dad who works at home, or maybe you work outside of the home only to come home and have your plans go falling apart worse than Aunt Mary’s crumbly cakes, then this is your post.

I try. I promise you, I try to get things done. Just don’t take a peek into my laundry room or my kitchen right now. The bedrooms? Forget about it. My productivity levels have dropped to an all time low. It’s not that I have much more work than normal. I think it is the lack of support that we who work to support our families get from the same family.

Have you ever sat down to your computer only to have a little one pop up beside you asking for a snack? You just fed her, but suddenly she has the capacity for food of a beluga whale. Or maybe you have just come home from work and everyone wants to go shopping. Can’t a person have a break? Can’t your partner handle the shopping for one night or hold off on the need to go out for one more day?

If you are a home worker, most of the time everyone thinks you are sitting in front of the computer, knocking back the wine while nibbling bon bons. Heck, even my husband seems to think that writing is no big deal. So I have eight articles that need to be 1,000 words done in three days, that doesn’t get his boxers washed, now does it? If only they made self washing-drying-folding-putting away clothing. I’d be in heaven! Oh, and what about self washing dishes? Euphoria. If my house could sustain itself while I work, it would be a dream. I thought we were supposed to be living like the Jetsons nowadays, anyway.

Here are some things that might help your productivity levels rise. Well, only if you aren’t like me and forget to put the tips into motion.

1. Forget what mom told you about separating your laundry. Try doing it more simply. Keep whites separate, but wash everything else in one big lump. If you are worried about reds running onto other colors, just throw reds and blacks into the same load. If this doesn’t work for you, find a laundry that does your clothing for you. Load them into your vehicle, drop them off, forget them until it’s time to go get’em.

2. The vacuum is your friend. Just pick up everything that is too large to go into the thing and vacuum the whole house. Forget dropping it for a broom. That wastes time. If your dog or cat sheds badly, grab them and take care of the excess hair while you are cleaning the floors. Voila, two birds with one big whirring rock.

3. Enlist help. Even the smallest kids can help you get things done. Give older children a bag and the directions to “pick up all that junk you put there?. Usually they’ll get confused, so gently point them in the right direction. Motivate them into helping, only if you meet resistance, by holding a favorite toy hostage. A squirt gun to the head of a favorite doll is an amazing motivator.

5. Don’t put off today what you will have to do tomorrow. If something really needs to be done, go on and do it. Waiting will make it worse. If you need proof, come look at my kitchen. Bring pepper spray.

So now you have a short list of tips that may help you. Understanding the mechanics of your home will also help. Understand that no matter what you do, sometime tomorrow the mess will come back. If you are sneaky and attack after the kids are asleep, you are more likely to have a clean home for most of the next day. Unless your kids stay at home all day, if that is the case, then I suggest getting a dog to clean crumbs they leave behind and a snow shovel to pick up toys in the quickest manner. At least you will have a few extra minutes here and there to devote to work, holiday decorating, or holiday cooking.

Posted in Parenting, Daily Living, Holidays, Writing, Humor | 3 Comments »

Wednesday Works: Use Your Talents

Paints

Everyone has some type of talent that they can market. Can you write? Paint? Perhaps you’re just really great at finding sales on clothing or putting together outfits that stun your friends. Put these talents to work for you!

If you can write well, try checking out your local newspaper for a guest column. Find out the best time to come in to talk to the editor personally, instead of calling in to speak with him/her. Deadlines are hectic for an editor and they will more than likely not be able to take even a minute to hear your pitch for a column or even an article. Call, speak with a secretary to find out the deadlines and visit after the deadline for that day.

Painting murals in homes can bring you a tidy profit. If you own your home or have friends who do and are open to you painting a free mural or accents, take advantage of that. Be sure to take pictures, preferably high resolution, and place them in a professional looking binder with clear page protectors. The larger the picture, the better. You are building a portfolio, so be sure to keep it professional. Place an ad in your local paper and online using free classifieds for your area. Include a nice, clear shot of your work and include quotes per mural/room/wall.

I have a friend who is a personal shopper and she never wants for much of anything. She has clients all over the world! My friend scours sales and the internet for the most gorgeous outfits, buys accessories, then contacts the client who the outfit is perfect for. She has a binder full of each client’s likes and dislikes, plus their perfect colors. The last I heard, she had paid off her home five years early, thanks to this job!

Use your creativity to come up with more ideas that you can use to market yourself. Working from home doesn’t have to be all MLM or envelope stuffing.

Posted in Career Minded, Daily Living, Interior Design and Decoration, Writing | No Comments »

Wednesday Works

Looking For Jobs

So many parents are working at home these days. Thanks to the internet we can stay home, take care of the kids, or spend time with our partners without that daily nine to five grind. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge into working at home, I’m going to be linking to some opportunities here each Wednesday. Don’t think that staying home means lounging in your jammies and eating bon-bons, because here’s the honest truth…

If you are going to stay at home and work, be it freelance writing or sewing your own designer diaper line, you will have to work, work, work. Keeping up with clients, meeting deadlines, posting and selling product. You will probably work harder than you ever did outside of the home, but it can be the most satisfying feeling in the world to know you are working for yourself.

This week I offer some links to freelance writing jobs. Two links are to collections of jobs and two are to single postings I have found to be encouraging.

Enjoy!

Deb Ng’s Freelance Job Blog

Telecommuting Jobs

Banks.Com Writing Job

A Blogging Contest

Posted in Parenting, Computers and Technology, Career Minded, Writing, Websites | No Comments »

Check it Out..

I usually find myself snubbing any book that is associated with the Oprah Book Club.  I can’t tell you why, I just know that the whole Oprah stamp on the cover irritates me and would make me embarrassed to have it in my house.  And even though I was an avid Toni Morrison reader prior to Ms. Winfrey’s obsession with her, I now stash them all on the bottom of my bookshelf for fear that someone will see them and think that I am a girl who can’t pick out her own fine literature.  I know.  This makes me a snob.  I can’t help it. 

And then my mother in law comes into town and leaves “The Secret Life of Bees” on my little wooden treasure chest of books.  I resented her.  How could she leave this talk show prompted propaganda in my house?  I mean, really.

Then, three days ago, just on a bored note - I picked the book up.  I haven’t been able to put it down since.  If you are looking for an elegantly written and nudgingly poignant book about growing up and being in the south you must read this book.  My only gripe with it is that is somewhat a female 1960’s version of Huck Finn and his travels with Jim - white girl on an adventure with her black housekeeper and surrogate mother.  Nonetheless, it is a great story about overcoming and redemption and renewal and rebirth. 

Alright, alright.. Perhaps Oprah’s on to something..

Posted in Daily Living, Writing | No Comments »

Making It

There are times in everyone’s life, I think, when they question if the path they are on is the right one.  Having a calling in life - like being an artist, a teacher, a writer or anything of the sort - begins to dictate to you how you live and what you strive for.  It’s hard to say that we aren’t getting there. Personally, I am much closer now that I was a year ago - but there are still days when I wonder why I just don’t give up and try to live a simple and calm life instead of the one that I was born unto.  Some days my husband and I will look at each other and wish that the urge to create would subside - it is, beautifully, out of our control though.  So, when I get exhausted and feel like the ideas in my head are taking me nowhere, I become elated to read things like todays Writer’s Almanac

It was on this day in 1955 that Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita was first published (books by this author). It’s the story of Humbert Humbert, a European who falls in love with a twelve-year-old American girl.

Nabokov started thinking about the novel when he was still a new immigrant to the United States, struggling to support his wife and son as a professor of Russian and English literature. He began working seriously in the summer of 1951, while he and his wife drove to Colorado in their Oldsmobile station wagon. He said he loved writing in the car because it was the quietest place in America. The following winter, he began doing research on young girls, traveling on city buses to learn current slang, writing down popular song titles and phrases from teen magazines and Girl Scout manuals. As he grew more and more excited about the book, he was miserable that he had to do anything else. He wrote to his friend, Edmund Wilson, “I am sick of teaching, I am sick of teaching, I am sick of teaching.”

He finished the novel in 1953, but when he sent the draft to friends, most of them were horrified, and told him that he could never publish it. It was rejected by all the major publishing houses in the United States, so he finally had it brought out anonymously in France by a publisher who specialized in pornography. He played around with different titles, including “The Kingdom by the Sea,” but in the end the novel was called Lolita (1955). He later said that the novel was, in part, about his love affair with the English language.

After a few years of controversy, it was published in the United States in 1958, and went on to become a best-seller and a movie. Nabokov had put off writing it for so many years partly because he was afraid that it wouldn’t make any money, but in the end it was the success of Lolita that allowed him to retire from teaching. He moved with his wife to Switzerland and spent the rest of his life writing novels in the top floor of a luxurious hotel.

I don’t suspect I will ever find myself atop a fancy hotel in the Alps writing my days away, but there is hope in hearing something like this.  And, sometimes, it’s that thread of hope that urges one to become.

Posted in Uncategorized, Daily Living, Faith, Writing | No Comments »

New Literary Icons

For mother’s day, my husband bought me two books. One was a Lorrie Moore book entitled Who Will Run the Frog Hospital and the other was The Best American Short Stories, 2004 which was edited by Lorrie Moore. She is my newest favorite writer. After reading her Birds of America collection of short stories, I was hooked. I love it when a woman can marry bitingly intelligent humor with a deeply penetrating story. She cuts to the bone when it comes to the dealings and thought processes of people interacting with one another. If you get a chance, I recommend checking out any of her short stories and then, when you find yourself completely enamoured with her style and wit, move on to one of her novels.

Lorrie Moore was born in Glen Falls, New York on January 13, 1957. She attended St Lawrence University in Canton, New York, from 1974 to 1978 receiving a BA and graduating summa cum laude. She attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, from 1980 to 1982 receiving an MFA. She is currently Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she also lives with her husband and son.

Lorrie Moore has been the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts award in 1989, the Rockefeller Foundation fellowship in 1989, and the Guggenheim fellowship in 1991. Her work frequently appears in Fiction International, Ms, The New York Times Book Review, Paris Review, The New Yorker, and others.

Her publications include: Self-Help (1985); Anagrams (1986); The Forgotten Helper (1987); Like Life (1990); editor, I Know Some Things: Stories About Childhood by Contemporary Writers (1992); Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? (1994) and Birds of America (1998).

Posted in Writing | No Comments »

The Language of the South

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Today is the birthday of Harper Lee - the woman who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it is always important to celebrate the life of our writers and to pay tribute whenever we get a chance. Though Harper Lee only completed this one book, I feel like her contributions to our culture (also notably through her work with Truman Capote) is innumerably measured. As a woman writing and living in (and becoming more comfortable admitting that I am, indeed, from) the south, her childhood in Alabama is a source of great inspiration. Southern writers have, indeed, always penetrated the basest sense of our humanity. They have, also (and very similarly to Spanish/Mexican writers), wrapped our southern heritage in a lovely robe of mysticism and romanticism that I think is not found in other American literature. I first discovered this, and that I loved southern writing, at the age of fourteen when I read To Kill a Mockingbird.

So, I think today, in memory of Ms. Harper Lee and in homage to her birthday, I’ll pick it back up and refresh my memory about what a simply fantastic story is told.

Posted in Writing | No Comments »

Funny Man Land

So tomorrow night, for our anniversary (it was in March, but this was my present), we are going to see David Sedaris. He is, by far, my favorite writer and humorist. The man is gloriously riotous. Two reasons why it was my anniversary gift: first one being I am a big enough geek to merit getting tickets to hear an author give a reading (it is something I love) and because it was one of the things that my husband and I courted upon. We were both reading the same David Sedaris book Me Talk Pretty One Day, and it bonded us forever. Some people fall in love to sappy love songs, we fell in love to Dinah the Christmas Whore in Sedaris’s book, Holidays on Ice.

I had first heard Sedaris on NPR reading some of his short stories on This American Life (that’s another shining gem to catch - we listen every Sunday). I have been hooked ever since.

If you haven’t heard of or had a chance to pick up a book by this wonderously talented boy, do it now. Don’t let yourself get distracted for another moment! I suggest starting with his Holidays On Ice (though you might want to save it for the holidays - it is enough to keep those Xmas blues at bay) and then moving to Me Talk Pretty One Day. I think the latter is the best. Well written, funny, funny, funny, stuff. I kid you not, I fell out of a chair in a coffee house laughing so hard. Read it!

Posted in Lifestyles, Writing | No Comments »

Lisa Donovan Joins the FamilyResource.com Blogging Team

Lisa DonovanFamilyResource.com welcomes Lisa Donovan to the FamilyResource.com Blog team.

Lisa Donovan is a twenty-eight-year-old writer and artist living in Nashville, TN with her husband John (a sculptor), their two kids Joseph (6-years-old) and Maggie (17-months-old) and Sunni, their very old and crotchety cat.

Lisa has a background in studio art and art history focusing mainly in photography, painting and theory of contemporary and modern art. She has taught both studio and art history courses for high school and college level institutions. She is currently writing full-time and is the art feature editor for Verbicide magazine and an art writer for the Nashville Scene.

She’ll be posting blog entries every weekday, and will also be contributing new articles to the main site every week. Lisa is excited about providing a mom’s perspective to the blog, and looks forward to interacting with other parents and individuals via the blog comments.

Posted in Writing | 1 Comment »

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