Saturday, October 29, 2011

Writing a Book is Hard

Poor neglected blog.

Writing a book is hard. That must be why I never got very far in my attempts before. Last year I birthed a human being and this year I'm gestating and delivering a memoir.

I've finished over 200 pages now and I'm still going strong. I write when the baby sleeps. I sacrifice my own sleep to write. I write when my husband takes her on walks and to swim lessons. I neglect almost everything else so that I can do nothing but write in my free time. I am absolutely determined that this book must get finished and that it must get published.

In other news, my in-laws have been here for a week. My cousin also came to visit and Baby Lawns, oh my God, turned one. The child is one. She walks and points at things and refuses to eat things just like a real person. She rides a tricycle, cries if the cat hisses at her for no other reason than hurt feelings, laughs at things like my bellybutton and gets very excited when planes fly overhead. She is an actual human being. She likes cheese (well, she is mine after all) and hates even the sight of bananas. Now, she's started getting books off the shelf for me to read to her. I can say "Bring Mama a book from the shelf" and by God she will do it. Craziness.

I know that nearly all children do these things, but still, it amazes me that a wild weekend with my husband resulted in a laughing, ridiculous little person who loves me to read to her and won't stop pulling the cat's tail. Poor kitty. God bless that cat's patience. She has never bitten or attempted to harm the baby in any way. She seems protective of her. The cat follows the baby around the house, staying as close, yet out of reach as possible. Every now and then if Baby Lawns gets too rough Kitty will haul off and whack her across the face, but kitty has no claws so it doesn't hurt.

So that's my life at the moment. We're going to Atlanta next weekend for my birthday and I'm really excited about that. Do I have any Atlanta readers? I'm not sure if I do.

Let me get back to the memoir.


Happy Halloween.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Still Writing, But How About a Reading?

I'm still working on my memoir during nap time, but I wanted to let local readers know about a reading and a lecture happening at FAU in Boca. If you're around you should definitely go. I'm sorry to miss tomorrow's reading, but I'm going to try to make the November 7th lecture.

Here's the info:

Thursday, October 20, 5:00 pm
Bestselling novelist Cristina Garcia will read from her work
Florida Atlantic University, Boca campus
University Center for Excellence in Writing
(GS 215; second floor of the breezeway, opposite side from the Ritter Gallery)
Includes a wine and cheese reception and presentation of awards to winners of
National Day on Writing  competition

Cristina GarcĂ­a’s first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, was a bestseller and a finalist for the National Book Award.  With four subsequent novels, a poetry collection, and three books for young readers, including her most recent novel, Dreams of Significant Girls, Garcia has firmly established herself as a major American writer with an international reputation.  She has received accolades from numerous institutions including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and her work has been translated into fourteen languages.  Her reading will be followed by a brief question and answer session.

AND

Monday, November 7, 7:00 pm
A lecture by
Fiona McCrae, editorial director of Graywolf Press
“Against the Tide: Perspectives on Independent Publishing”
Florida Atlantic University, Boca campus
Live Oak Pavilion, Student Union

Fiona McCrae has been publisher of Graywolf Press since 1994, following eleven years at Faber and Faber where she was a director and executive editor. She began at Faber and Faber, Ltd., in London, where she worked with such authors as Kazuo Ishiguro, Caryl Phillips, and Howard Norman. She then moved to Boston, where she worked with Faber and Faber USA and taught publishing courses at Harvard University and Emerson College.  Authors that McCrae has published at Graywolf include Elizabeth Alexander, Charles Baxter, Per Petterson, Salvatore Scibona, Percival Everett, and Binyavanga Wainaina. She also currently serves on the board of Books for Africa and is an advisor for Open Letter Press. There will be a question and answer session following the lecture.
Sunday, October 09, 2011

Sunday Reading

I don't know what the weather's like in the rest of the country, but in South Florida this weekend has been a washout, in the best possible way. Gloomy, dark, blustery and with high surf pounding over at the beach, it really feels like fall and like Halloween is around the corner. It's also been perfect for sitting inside and reading all day.

I haven't been reading as much and it's been forever since I recommended a book for you all. Baby Lawns naps only once a day now and I use that time for writing the memoir, whereas I used to read. Now I read in the middle of the night on my phone using the Kindle app because I've developed a hateful case of insomnia and wake every night between three and five am.

You all, you have got to read Charles Frazier's Nightwoods. I'm not kidding you. It's southern gothic, creepy, weird and so beautifully written and surprising that I've been raving about it to everyone I see.

Frazier wrote Cold Mountain, another favorite of mine, though I didn't so much care for the movie. I thought it was poorly cast. The book is a million times better and if you haven't read it, you'd love a Frazier double feature, though the books are vastly different. Their only similarity is the mountainous southern setting, but Cold Mountain is in North Carolina during the Civil War and Nightwoods takes place in Virginia in the 1960s.

Nightwoods is scary as hell, which is perfect for an October read. The suspense and the violence is superbly done. I'd say the book is very much a literary thriller and at the heart of the plot are twin children who appear to be autistic, though they aren't labeled as such in the novel because I suppose that diagnosis wasn't as common or well understood in the 60s as it is now. The twins fascinated me and I thought their odd behavior patterns and general lack of speech added an unusual and interesting dimension to the book and the mysteries of the story.

Frazier writes magnificently about nature. The way he describes the environments where these characters live makes me want to throw down my laptop and never write again because I know I could never describe a tree or a clearing in the woods with such stunning grace and scientific accuracy. I love nature and I love reading about it and I especially love reading about nature when Charles Frazier's doing the writing. It's almost like the natural world has its own character that is essential to the novel and while it's factually precise and intricately detailed, it's also strangely magical and other-wordly too.

I can't recommend this book enough and when I'm finished, waiting in the Kindle queue is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, which got a crappy review in the New York Times last week, but which I'm reading anyway because the first couple of chapters really hooked me, especially the prologue. After finishing Lev Grossman's The Magician King, which kicked ass by the way, I'm craving another grown-up fantasy. I must need more magic in my life.
Saturday, October 08, 2011

Overheard at the Park...

One young mother to another:

"I'm never going to spank Paisley Madison because I just don't believe in capital punishment."

If Baby Lawns sasses me in a couple years, she's getting the electric chair. We just can't let all these kids playing with matches and snatching candy bars from the convenience store get off with mere life sentences. Keep 'em on death row!
Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Baby Monitors - A Cautionary Tale

The seventeen dollar baby monitor I bought at Walmart last month is about the best purchase I've made in ages. How did I go nearly a year without one of these things? Why didn't someone tell me? I know, I'm clueless at parenting. I also didn't understand the whole playdate concept and had no clue you were supposed to bring hostess gifts, but that's another story.

The baby monitor is wonderful and allows me all sorts of freedoms, but it comes with some potential for embarrassment, like if your neighbors have babies too and your monitors are set on the same channel and then suddenly you end up having each other under surveillance.

And then this, this HYPOTHETICAL situation.

Imagine your joy at just having discovered the freedoms afforded by the baby monitor. Say you're just so happy that you take it with you to a party with lots of people you admire and you're really excited about attending and then let's say that your baby goes to sleep in the guest room in her pack n play and you get the baby monitor all hooked up so you can go back to the party and have a grand old time while the baby sleeps and you are just so pleased with yourself. You didn't need a babysitter or anything.

Perhaps in an hour or so your baby wakes up and cries and you hear it on the baby monitor you are so excited about and you rush off to comfort her, or him as the case may be and then let's say that in your haste you forgot the receiving end of the monitor on the dinner table where your friends are still lingering after dinner enjoying coffee and dessert.

Here is my advice to you if you find yourself in this again, hypothetical situation which I'm not saying actually happened to me, although it could have. Maybe.

Take the receiver with you because you might end up going into the bedroom to get the baby and then finding that all of a sudden out of nowhere you have to poop and you might thank God that the bedroom has a bathroom attached and that the baby can see you on the toilet from the pack n play. And if the baby cries and fusses while you are on the toilet, please, please don't start making up a song that may or may not go "Mommy is Pooping! Pooping Mommy! Poo Poo Mommy Poo Poo Poo!"

Because once you finish and get the baby settled back down and you are ready to rejoin the dinner party, when you return to the table you may be met with an awkward silence. Your friends may appear to be trying very hard not to laugh. Others may not be able to make eye contact with you. One of them might even call and sing the "Poo Poo Mommy" song on your voice mail the next day.

And again, I'm not saying this happened to me. I just want to make sure that it doesn't happen to you. Just in case. That's all I'm trying to do.
Sunday, October 02, 2011

Sick Again

Baby Lawns is sick again and I'm trapped in a vicious cycle of snot. Her nose runs. I wipe it or aspirate it causing hysteria because nose wiping is child abuse you know. The crying makes more snot. It never ends!

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