On Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is coming up, and it’s my first true one. I was barely pregnant last year, and certainly felt like I deserved a little recognition for how horrible the pregnancy was. Not much, maybe, but a little. But now that I’m actually doing the mothering, I feel differently about it.

I didn’t expect to. I expected that I’d want recognition for the sleepless nights and the spit up all over every pair of pants I own. And the screaming. We can’t forget the screaming.

The thing is, it feels like accepting accolades for eating brownies. The gift has already been all mine. The giggling and shrieking for joy; the way he chats to his feet in the mornings; his little velvet head; the way he grins when he sees me… All of it is wonderful. Even the bad moments have their magic – like when he finally tucks his face into my neck with a desperate sigh after screaming for one reason or another. I get to be the one he clings to.

It feels weird to accept praise for something I enjoy so much. It feels like I should be the one recognizing this boy for making me a mother in the first place.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ll take it. But I’ll be feeling weird about it as I do. I know I always appreciate the chance to thank all the people who have mothered me and mine, though, so I’m sure I’ll find my way through it. Maybe. I guess.

I mean, accolades for eating brownies is a pretty great concept. Just saying.

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School

I am officially a stay at home mom these days. At least for the next year or so. How am I managing that on our pared-down lifestyle? I’m going to school.

I have been thinking about babies and careers for a long time now, and when it all came out in the wash, it came out English teacher. Not only are the benefits great and the hours conducive to kids, but I really couldn’t think of a better way to spend my days than surrounded by books and writing. I’m hoping my enthusiasm will be infectious.

I got my fieldwork assignment, though, and I panicked. Because somehow in the middle of all this, I forgot how much I loathed high school. Like, I hated it so much that I graduated in three years just so I wouldn’t have to be there anymore, only allowed because I threatened to drop out. And now I was going back? Voluntarily?

Careers and I have always been uncertain bedfellows. I have worked the longest at Disney costuming, and it took me years to realize it wasn’t going to work. I could put up with bad pay, lack of advancement opportunities, and the horrible commute. What tipped me over was the hours – 12 hour days, midnight parade rehearsals, never a break. In short, no room for children.

I remember feeling, on my last day, not exactly sad, but nostalgic. I looked back through the white steel gates to take it in one last time, the yellow swoop of the Team Disney building, the boxy windows of the Eat Ticket, the gray concrete parade building, where I worked, beyond. I watched dozens of people in different uniforms scan their passes and go though the gates. ‘you’ll never be a part of anything if this scale again,’ I told myself, not unhappy with the prospect but still lingering. Eventually I turned and drove home.

My first week returning to high school just ended. And it was ALMOST just as I had thought it would be, with one major difference. It was like attending your very favorite class in high school all day long. The kids were smart little assess. I enjoyed myself.

As supervisory teacher was showing me around the campus, the quad full of trees and planters, the tan cinder block buildings tucked under the mountains and the blue California sky, I found myself returning to that last day at Disney.

And I realized… I might be embarking on something of that epic scope again. I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

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Songs and Rain

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It’s a strange combination of spring and winter in California right now.  The Roger’s Red, which I measure the seasons by, has begun sprouting silvery leaves again.  The lavender is blooming in my front bed, and the giant Maple in the front yard is all dappled with fresh green leaves as well.  But it has been raining a dreary drizzle for days now.

It reminds me of the winters when I was a child.  Our house was mostly windows back then, and the loudness of the rain falling made you feel like you were out in it while simultaneously being able to cuddle up under a fluffy comforter with a book.  Sadly, I can no longer cuddle up under anything and expect to read.  I have a small boy who needs constant holding and attention.  He already grabs my phone when I’ve been reading on my kindle app too much.

He’s surprisingly coordinated now.  Meaning that when he tries to put things in his mouth he gets them within an inch of his target, hitting his cheeks or his nose most times.  That isn’t what I would call coordinated at all a few months ago, but the fact that he could reach for something and grab it was a revelation, let alone put it mostly where he wants it.  He’s like a little birdy with his mouth, too, opening it wide for a pacifier, a plush toy, a fist, or a nipple.  He’s putting the whole world in his mouth.

I have discovered that if you put me alone in a room with a small child long enough, what results is silly songs.  I’ve been singing “He’s got the whole world in his mouth” to the tune of “whole world in his hands.” You can substitute the verse for whatever he’s currently eating.  “He’s got his mother’s knuckle in his mouth,” is a popular one.  So is “the sleeve of his onesie,” and “his green knit blanket.” But really you can substitute almost anything.  We’ve been trying to avoid “the sudsy washcloth” with more success than not.

I also have been singing him this song, to the tune of “I Hate to Get Up In The Morning.”  It’s based on true events.

Oh how I hate to get up in the morning/ oh how I’d love to remain in bed/ But when your son pees on all your fancy clothes/ you’ve got to launder all of those/ Or spend the rest of your life na-ked. 

Add that to the bevvy of things we’ve all pulled out of nowhere to sing him, and he’s going to have the strangest musical vocabulary ever.  Brian sings him “I Feel Pretty,” (he likes the “la, la, las,”) and my mother has been singing him the theme song to Daniel Boone.  I’ve been singing him Alan Sherman tunes amid musicals, hits from the 40’s and 50’s, girl scout camp stuff, and my own silliness.  He babbles back with smiles.

It’s harder being home with a kid than it logically should be.  I mean, feeding, changing, and playing aren’t theoretically difficult things, it’s just that they never end.  But being home with him is also more rewarding than I expected.  All I need is to launch into a version of “Look to the Rainbow” and feel this kid snuggle into my chest to feel like it’s all worth it.  Maybe days of bedding down in the rain with a book just got more social…

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Some Clarification

I just wanted to do a quick clarification post on A Blatantly False History of the World, since a ton of people are telling me that they don’t have a Kindle and therefore can’t buy the book.  If you don’t have an actual, physical Kindle, you can still purchase the book using the free Kindle app.  They have both an android and a mac option, and you can put it on your smart phone, tablet, or computer.  In fact, I read 90% of my books via the Kindle app on my phone and I think it’s pretty great.

If you’d rather not download another app (and I totally get it), the book is now available in hard copy as well.  I unfortunately couldn’t make the book $2.99 for the physical copy, but I don’t think it’s too steep at $6.99.

Basically what I’m saying is: you have options.  It’s not shell out hundreds for a fancy Kindle or nothing.  🙂

For the Kindle Copy: click here

For the Paperback Copy: click here

And thank you all again for your love and support.  It means a TON to me that everyone is as thrilled as I am that this thing exists.  If  you have an extra minute and would like to leave me a review, I will love you even more (just saying…).

Best,

Casey

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It’s Live!

Guess what?  A Blatantly False History of the World is now up and ready to go on Amazon.  Very exciting!

 

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A Blatantly False History of the World

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Well, I did a thing.  And I’m very proud of said thing.  What is it?  It’s a book!!! (!!!)

Yup, I have a book coming out via Kindle in the next 4 days.  It’s a book of eight speculative short stories and I’m very proud of it, called A Blatantly False History of the World, and you can learn more about it under the “books” tab above.

Where can I get this fabulous book, you ask?  It’s in review, and will come out sometime in the next few days.  It evidently takes 4 days for Kindle to review your book and put it on the web.  They’ll let me know when it’s live, and I’ll let you know when it’s live.  And then you can get the fabulous book.

Why, you ask?  Well, first of all why not.  But second of all, I intend for this book to be a test-balloon of sorts.  It has my best writing and a fancy cover, and I have already used it to learn how to format an e-book on the Kindle site.  I now intend to use it to learn how to market a book.  This is in prep for the release of Blue Gentian in a few months.

Yup, Blue Gentian is all but ready to go!  I have heard back from several beta readers on it, and reaction has been pretty positive.  I have some stuff to fix, but I don’t have a major re-write to do or anything.  That was good news.  I’m hoping to have Blue Gentian out by the end of April, but it might be sooner if I can get my act together.  Or, perhaps better wording would be if the Small Boy who lives in my house lets me get my act together.

I’ll report back on how things go, so hopefully someone else can benefit from my mistakes.

The first thing I can offer is this I downloaded and used the Kindle Word Add-On to format the book and found it VERY easy to use.  Like, so simple it was crazy.  I had heard horror stories of format-tweaking nightmares when publishing e-books and this wasn’t that at all.  I honestly just copied and pasted my words, selected the format I wanted, and called it a day.  I’m at 100 pages, and it literally took me 4 hours to do everything, including creating the cover and gathering the stories from the different folders I had them stored in. The tool is in Beta, but I would recommend it.  I also enjoyed the free Kindle Previewer that came with it.  I tweaked a few things based on the preview – mostly the size of the chapter headings – and found it useful and calming to know that it looked good on all 3 devices.

Next up?  Marketing.  I’m not sure how or what yet, but I’m sure some research will do the trick and I’ll have copies up on Netgalley (or something… is that even for e-books?) very soon.

So, I think that in 4 days we’ll be able to officially call me a published author.  Exciting stuff!

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Road Lessons

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I have two moments to rub together – a rare occurrence these days – so I thought I should take the time and get a blog entry up.  This weekend has been an eventful one.  Most notably because of baby’s first tire blow-out.

Yup.  I blew out a tire on the way to my mother’s house.  I must have run over something and gotten a flat, because the tires were brand new.  I had just loaded the twelve-million things I bring when I take this kid places into the car (stroller, Ergo, diaper backpack containing four diapers, two bottles, changing pad, three fresh outfits, and pacifier, child securely strapped into his seat, his sweatshirt, a knit blanket, a swaddle…) and merged onto the freeway when the car started to shudder.  I got off the freeway at the next exit, and just as I was pulling to the side of the road the passenger side dropped, started smoking, and made a horrible grating noise.  I thought for sure the transmission had dropped out of the bottom or something equally dire, and couldn’t think of anything I did for this new-to-me car to have collapsed so epically.

I pressed the red button for the flashers and got out of the car.  Relief.  Not only was the rear right tire flat, but it was shredded like a doughnut and completely separated from the rim.  That was the smoking and the drop.  The car itself was fine.  We were in a safe spot, and there was shade to wait in.  Tires are imminently fixable. I called for help.

AAA was wonderful.  The lady on the other end put a rush on the service request when she heard the kid screaming in the background, and then he and I went on a walk in the stroller down the street.  He fell asleep in contentment and stayed that way while the gentleman from AAA put on my spare.

The best part?  Well, there’s two of them:

One – I broke down in front of a Lowe’s and several construction workers and contractors came to check on me, concerned about the baby.  It restored my faith in humanity to see these beefy gentlemen so concerned about us.

Two – it was Anime L.A. this weekend and I was slated to take care of this kid ALONE all night for the first time ever while Brian ran midnight RPG games in Ontario.  It scared me to death.  But after handling a tire blow-out with aplomb, I knew that 3 am held no terrors I couldn’t overcome.  Mom’s got this.

Not the best afternoon ever, but definitely a moment that turned out to have good in it.  Tire repaired and we’re on our way.

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Fantasy, LeGuin, and Miscellany

I just heard the news that Ursula K. LeGuin died, and I am saddened beyond belief.  I think, like with Elie Wiesel, that I will need a while to gather my thoughts.  Right now, all I can think of is the books she wrote that I would recommend someone read, and it turns out that it’s all of them.  But she meant so much more to me than her literature, and to express that I will need time.

If you can get a copy, though, the one that sticks with me hardest today is her fake Ethnography of the Kesh people in post-nuclear California: Always Coming Home.  It’s a beautiful, odd, and terrifying thing that doesn’t read dystopic at all.  And of course you already know of the Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness.

I have been trying to figure out a way to keep myself from going insane with boredom with nothing to do all day but hold a small boy, and I’ve been reading odd fantasy books: Maggie Stiefvater’s All The Crooked Saints (I cannot tell if I like this book or not because it was a hard one to love and yet it was so BEAUTIFULLY written…); Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor (where she does everything they tell you not to do in a novel and it still ended up claiming me completely); and Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin (the best thing I’ve read since Uprooted last year, and the first thing I’ve been head over heels for since Robin McKinley’s latest). It feels good to contemplate other worlds, and I think I’ll continue.

I have been reading the books out loud to the baby when he’s awake, and I’m sure he’s thoroughly confused now since he gets only snippets of whatever passage I’m on when he happens to have his eyes open.  I’ll warrant that he’s getting a pretty good vocabulary, though.  And a knowledge of his people, since his big eyes and pointed chin have me half-convinced he’s a Fairy himself.  Or maybe just a changeling.

It might just be a coincidence in timing (or his elfin heritage), but Fantasy books seem to have him sleeping better at night.  He’s been letting us sleep a solid 4 hours at a time most evenings, and even a 6 hour stretch every once in a while.  I never thought 4 hours of sleep would sound luxurious, but it does.

I have also stopped doing strange things in my sleep now that he’s sleeping longer.  So far I have woken Brian up twice to ask him to take the baby when the baby had already been sleeping in his bassinet for at least an hour.  And then there was the evening where I tried to convince Brian that I was feeding the baby right now, when the kid was actually in Brian’s arms and yelling at me about not being quick enough with the midnight snack.  Parenthood is mostly a comedy of errors, I’m finding.  But at least it’s a comedy…

Next on the reading list is probably Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer.  But maybe I’ll get out some of my old LeGuin instead.  It’s been ages since I’ve read The Tombs of Atuan, or Voices – two I have read countless times in the past because they’re my favorites.

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One Month

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This kid is already a month old, and I can’t even believe it.  He’s as sweet as ever.  Or perhaps even sweeter now that we know how to calm some of his crazy.  He’s an angel, but also very colicky, which means long hours of crying while he tries to work out the gas.  Poor kid.  We think we mostly have the answer now, though.  He doesn’t cry for hours on end anymore, and he’s rarely completely inconsolable.  Level up to the next challenge, please.

I’ve had a lot of time on the couch to ponder, and the thing that struck me this month was something I observed when my cousins were born, too; all those little things from your childhood that you’ve forgotten but suddenly come to roost.

Right after my c-section when I was still immobile, my sister came over to visit us.  We lounged in my cozy 4-poster, and Cody held Asher, since she never wants to put him down. Asher was fussy, and so we sang my dad’s patented lullaby to him together.  The words are variations on “Be quiet and gentle before I kill you.” Bonus points for older kids if you grab them and make them squeal on “kill.” It was a moment it never dawned on me might happen, and there was something magically ludicrous and loving about it.

I was cleaning my ears after a shower the other day and remembering how my mother used to pretend that she found things in our ears when she cleaned them for us.  Mostly it was animals, and she’d do the voices.

And then there are the nick–names that seem to persist through the generations.  I find myself calling this kid Asherkins and Little One, all things I was called myself at this age.  I know that my own mother was Kathykins, and maybe it goes back even farther than that.  Virginiakins does seem like a stretch, though.

Its strange, this deep and nostalgic return of old comfort amidst the newness of this child; of this fresh job of Mother.   I don’t know what it means, but I do know it adds to the baby-endorphin high I’ve been on.  I’ll be riding that for as long as possible.

 

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The Resolution Post, 2017

I do a post of writing and reading resolutions every year (as you may recall if you’ve been following this thing for a while).  This year was not a good year for completing resolutions.  In fact, I know I failed so completely that I don’t even want to look at the 2016 post to do my usual comparison.  The only one I succeeded on was the Goodreads Challenge of reading 100+ books.  Romance novels and escapism for the win, I guess.

Still, I don’t want to completely give up on the resolution tradition.  In L. M. Montgomery style, I say that 2018 will be a new year with no mistakes in it yet.  That means I have a chance to regroup and maybe actually complete some resolutions this year.  So, here’s what I have:

I have been reading a TON about self-publishing lately and the more I look into it, the more I think it’s for me.  I mean, I don’t see myself as the next J. K. Rowling or Julia Quinn or anything, so I’m actually likely to do better monetarily on my own than in the slush of small titles that come out each year.  Especially considering how dismally small advances have become, etc…, and how legitimized self-publishing has become.

I do have some hindrances for the process – the biggest being that I don’t crank out novels at lightening speed.  But I also am in the luxury position that I don’t need to make a living from my writing.  I’d LIKE to.  But I don’t NEED to.  And mostly I just want my work out there to be read.

So, that’s my resolution this year.  I will format my first novel and send it out to beta-readers, and have it self-published by the end of the year.  In the mean time, on the pretext of learning how to use all the software, I’ll publish a book of short stories.  I also want my second novel ready for beta-reads by the end of the year, although it probably won’t be ready to officially publish until 2019.

And we’ll see how that goes. They’re light goals, but with a baby in tow I’m not sure I want to be more optimistic.  There’s only so much I can do in fits and starts, one handed, while sitting on the couch.  I’m definitely not gonna have the time for the massive search and shuffle of trying to get short stories in magazines.

I’ll throw in the 100+ books on Goodreads again for good measure, but I think we all know that one isn’t going to be hard.

And that’s it.  That’s all the resolutions there are.  Hopefully posting them publicly will keep me on track better than it did last year.

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