Welcome to the blog of science fiction author Eileen Rhoadarmer--where science fiction and Mommyhood collide!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Table of Contents!

The Table of Contents has been posted for my next anthology!  It's been up for nearly two weeks, somehow I missed it, but at least I've got it now.

A Glitch in the Continuum:

Intervention – Patrick D’Orazio

Again the 10n – George Page

Experiments with Time - Jeremy Essex

The Third Law – Trent Roman

Tempus Fugit – Eric Steele

You Gotta Believe – William Thobaben

A Few Moments in Time – Mike Stevens

The Monster at the End of the World - Lee Zumpe

Pandora’s Time – Eileen Rhoadarmer

A Break in the Balance – Jason Thurston

The Healing Time – Kevin P. Kilburn

In The Beginning… - David R. Roberts

Congratulations to everyone on the list!

Monday, December 27, 2010


I wrapped up a major subplot today, so tomorrow there's nothing between me and tackling the major conflict/climax I've been building this 93,000 word monstrosity towards for months.  I don't know if I'm ready for this!  It's scary!  This, as they say, is IT!  AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

I still don't know whether I'll finish this month, but if it goes into January it won't go far--unless I chicken out and start stalling.  But I WON'T!  I will finish a novel!

Okay, just had to share because this is rather nerve-wracking.  Time to go spend time with my kid and get on to the other elements of my evening.  Tomorrow is another day--and an important one!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Star Trek Christmas Carols

I have one friend with whom I bonded through Star Trek:  The Next Generation while growing up.  Not only did we enjoy watching it, we were convinced that we would write for the series one day--TNG considered unsolicited scripts for acceptance, after all.  Of course, in typical adolescent-fantasy fashion, we created characters for ourselves which took the starring roles in most of the "episodes" we outlined.  We even once wrote a letter to the script coordinator trying to convince her that we had enough ideas to keep the series running for a few more seasons and please don't cancel it.  She graciously sent us the submission and format guidelines in response.

Our large notebook of episode ideas is carefully hidden away, as befits any item revealing embarrassing adolescent fantasies that one likes to look through every few years for a good laugh.  However, I'll share one thing with you.  One year, we decided to rewrite Christmas Carols for Star Trek.  Most of them were horrible, having only some semblance of rhyme or coherence, but this particular one was fun, and withstands the test of time.  In honor of it being Christmas, I present:

"Jingle Borg"

Dashing through the galaxy, in a cubicle regenerative sleigh
O'er the solar systems we go, Assimilating all the way
We'll tell you you're irrelevant, Resistance is futile
We'll stick some black things in your head and you will never smile

Jingle Borg, Jingle Borg, Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride in a cubicle regenerative sleigh
Oh, Jingle Borg, Jingle Borg, Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride in a cubicle regenerative sleigh

Now you can join the game, we'll take away your name
Burst planets into flame, and never feel the shame
Resistance is useless, you can never hide
We'll stick some black things in your head and you'll be Borg-i-fied!



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Science Fiction Christmas Stories

I read Connie Willis's anthology "Miracle and Other Christmas Stories" every December to get me in the holiday mood.
My favorites are "Newsletter," which is a humorous story about a woman trying to fend off an alien invasion at Christmas time, and "Inn," in which a woman helps out a homeless couple on Christmas Eve only to discover that there is a lot more to them than meets the eye.  It's fun to read science fiction Christmas stories as it is my genre, and Connie is one of my favorite authors.

I just discovered that I have an Amazon gift card left over from last Christmas that I ought to spend, so it's time for a little holiday gift exchange.  Who are your favorite authors?  If you know of anyone else who writes scifi Christmas stories, great, but it doesn't have to be Christmas.  I haven't branched out much in my reading lately, and I'd like some ideas for some new authors to discover.  Please let me know who you like to read to give me some ideas on what to spend my gift certificate on!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Wolf 359 Massacre...

...Made out of gingerbread.
Some friends of ours have a Gingerbread Party every year, and my husband and I enjoy making more and more elaborate creations.  Some of our past constructions have included a castle, King Kong on the Empire State Building, a cruise ship, a baby carriage, and the Starship Enterprise.  I thought you all might enjoy this one.
It was amusing how some of the other people at the party needed to have this explained to them (for those who don't know, it was a big Federation battle from Star Trek:  The Next Generation, where the Borg wiped out a large number of Starfleet ships), and others saw the big Borg cube and the little ships and said immediately "Oh!  Wolf 359!"
Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

103 Days of Solid Writing

It would've made more sense to post this milestone on day 100, I suppose, but I've been so busy with getting ready for Christmas--and staying up to even later record times to complete my writing--that I didn't think about it until now.  But it is a milestone.  100 days!

I still don't know whether I'm on track to finish by the end of the month.  Several plot points that I've tackled this month, which I had thought would equal a chapter each, stretched much longer--meaning it took me longer to write them.  I did, however, rearrange some plot points to combine them, so I may not be all that behind.  It will depend on how many words are required to reach the next few points.  And, considering that a lot is happening here at the end, each point may take more time than before.

But I'm still plugging away.  I've written 16,000 words so far this month, averaging 888 per day, which is better than I've ever done before.  Even though I've had a lot to do and have been putting my writing off until last before bed, I haven't fallen into the trap of only doing 200-300 each night before succumbing to exhaustion.  I think it may have to do with all the exciting things happening in the book here at the end, so I'm excited about writing it even when I'm tired.

It will be done soon, though, even if it isn't before 2011.  It will be strange to move on to something else, since I've devoted so much of my life to this.  Let's see if I can keep this streak going for the next 100 days!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting Nervous About a Big Finish

My novel is now nearly 80,000 words and is 137 pages single spaced on my computer.  I don't know whether I'm on track to finish by the end of the month or not, mostly because I don't know if some of the remaining "chapters" will lengthen into two or three to convey everything that is going to happen.  But I'm definitely close, even if it runs a little into January.  And I'm getting a little nervous about the prospect of being finished with something so big.

Now again, I'm not done yet.  I still have a major climax to write myself through, but simply having the ending in sight, knowing I've been working on this for more than five months, knowing I still have a few major decisions about the ending to make and that the time when I'll have to make them is rapidly approaching, are all contributing to making me feel a bit odd.  I'll be happy to move on to other things, but I'll also be sad to say good-bye for a while.  After all, I've been getting to know these characters for a long time now--much longer than I've ever worked with other characters before, at least all at once.

It almost feels like a relationship.  If you date someone for a few weeks and it fizzles out, there isn't usually too much remorse.  It just wasn't meant to be.  But when you devote several months to somebody, leaving is much harder (or easier I suppose, if things really went south--but if the novel had gone south it's a safe bet that I probably wouldn't have taken it this far.)  On the other hand, I won't be leaving the novel for good.  I'll be taking some space and then coming back for round two at some later time.  So it isn't a breakup after all, just a separation while I explore other venues, and then I'll come back and pick up where I left off.  And I'll be able to look at it with more distanced eyes and see whether it was all it was cracked up to be, or not all that good.

Okay, this post really took a tangent.  It's really more like graduating or leaving a job than a relationship, but oh well.  Basically, I'm saying I'm nervous about coming to the end.  But I said that in the title, didn't I?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Santa Claus versus the Mythbusters!

My husband made this spoof a few years ago for the You Spoof Discovery contest, where the Mythbusters take on their most challenging myth yet:  Santa Claus!

This is one of my favorites of all his sketches.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Haven't Had Much to Say

Looking back through my blog for the last few weeks, I realize I haven't done much with it.  I think this is partly due to the fact that I'm writing more (=less time for blogging,) I've been exhausted lately (=no energy for blogging,) and I'm still working on the novel.

I'm enjoying the novel, don't get me wrong, but it keeps me focused on the same topics all the time, so I'm having less spur-of-the-moment thoughts I feel are relevant to share.  Stories take me to more places in a shorter period of time, so they spark more conversation.  As to the other things going on in my life, they're mostly not relevant to writing, scifi, or parenting.  Or, at least they don't seem noteworthy.  So there ya go.  I'll try to keep up a little more frequently, as relevance permits.

In other news, we took our son to see Santa today.  It was the shortest line we've waited in these last 3 years, so we had a lot more time to play than we expected.

Fake snow=much fun and much mess.  We're still brushing it off.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November Stat Check

During the month of November, I wrote on all 30 days!  I'm at 86 days and counting.
I wrote 25,327 words (9 and a half chapters) for my novel
I made 0 submissions (which is bad, since two of my stories have been sitting with me since the end of October)
I received 0 rejections
I MADE ONE SALE!!!!!!!!!
I have 6 stories currently in slush pile circulation (well, four if you don't count the ones I've failed to get back out)
I made 7 blog posts
I took no days off

NaNoWriMo was a bust, but I learned a lot about myself.  See my post from a few days ago for more thoughts on that.  I did reach the halfway point though.  A few days ago I realized that was doable as long as I hit just over 1,000 words every day for the last few, and decided it was a noble enough goal to work towards it.  Here's a picture of my word count chart:
(There are a few days that don't register me as having written anything, but that's just due to site discrepancies or me not realizing I had to change my own time zone after daylight savings ended.)  As you can see, my biggest trouble was that I hit a major 13-day plateau in the middle of the month.  I probably wouldn't have made it anyway, but the plateau really set me back.  I looked through my word counts and discovered that during my plateau I wrote an average of 333 words per day.  On all the other days, I wrote an average of 1,234 wpd, and my monthly average came to 844 wpd.  If that plateau had been shorter, or hadn't happened at all, I would probably have been closer to 40,000 words.

But, alas, these things happen.  Life gets in the way.  In this case, I received an offer to get a ton of free photos from one of the online photofinishers, and I spend much time and energy figuring out a year's worth of photos that I wanted prints of.  BUT, that isn't all that slowed me down.  I discovered that I was more than willing to get distracted because I was working on a chapter that really wasn't flowing for me.  In retrospect, I suppose I could have skipped it and come back later, but I didn't think about why I was willing to be distracted until the plateau was nearly over.

My novel, in total, is at nearly 69,000 words now, and I believe I have 11-13 more chapters to go.  My new goal, and it is a bit more ambitious than I've accomplished in the last two months, is to finish it before 2011.  I've done about 9 chapters in each of the last two months and I'll be contending with Christmas BUT I'm getting to the climax now, so things are more exciting and happening faster.  If I don't hit another major plateau, I think I can do this.

I would definitely like a break.  I've been working on this one-and-only project since late July, and I'm not used to focusing on one piece of work for so long.  I miss short stories, to be perfectly honest, and there are at least 7 that I'd like to work on:  2 that only need a little polishing before I submit them, 3 that need serious rewriting and critiquing, and at least 2 new ones I want to write first drafts of.  Now that I'm in the habit of writing daily I can probably do those quicker than I used to, but that's still probably a few months worth of work.

Anyway... I'm getting ahead of myself.  I believe I just mentioned a goal for December and perhaps through February.  Back to analysis.

I put submissions on hold for NaNoWriMo, so I really need to get my two rejected stories back out.  They don't make sales when no one's considering them, after all.  I also wasn't very present on the web this month, neither in posting nor keeping up with other people's blogs, but I guess something had to give.  I wasn't terribly behind schedule.

The bedtime goal I set myself for November didn't happen either.  I'm looking forward to getting out of the first trimester soon though, and I hope to see a return in energy then.

The one thing I'm over the moon about from this month is the fact that A Glitch in the Continuum accepted Pandora's Time for inclusion in the anthology!  I'm very excited to have made a second sale, and I'm hoping that more will follow, and perhaps closer together this time.

My goals for December are to finish my novel, get all currently-ready stories back out to markets, make about 10 blog posts, and get to bed on time.  At least three of these ought to be attainable.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Novels take a lot of organization!

I'm amazed (though I shouldn't be surprised) at how organized I have to be in order to write my novel.  I have a ton of word documents that I'm using to keep all the details straight.  One if for characters and EVERY time I throw in a new character, even somebody who gets one line in passing, gets their name and a brief description written down so I can remember who they were, if necessary.  Major characters, of course, get all sorts of details written about them.  There's also a list of the names of places, ships, buildings, etc.  I also have a Timeline document, complete with a mini calendar of the year this story takes place and notes of what days (and in some cases, at what time) each major event happens so I can find it again and don't contradict myself.  Then, of course, there's a large list of details that I still need to decide on.  For example, I haven't named the main spaceship yet because I want to put some major thought into what it will be, but I didn't want to avoid writing the story until I made that decision, so I simply write SHIP each time its name would appear.  SHIP appears in my master list of things I need to decide on, and I'll be able to do a global search and replace once I have a real name.  The list of items like this is quite long already.  I have another to-do list of small snippets, fractions of scenes, or other details that I've decided need to be inserted somewhere.  Each of these lists are in various stages of completion.  I also have a list of chapters with the POV character of each and the word count.  With stories, they're usually small enough that I don't have to worry about getting confused about what I previously wrote, so I've never needed to do all this before.  It's a new experience, but fortunately I'm capable of being extremely organized, so I'm able to keep up.  So long as I don't allow a new organizational project to distract me for actually writing something.

p.s.  Day 83 and counting of not taking a day off!

Friday, November 26, 2010

NaNoWriMo ain't gonna happen

Nope, I'm nowhere near close enough to pull this off.  I'm just around 21,000 words now, and with only five days left, I'd need over 6,000 words per day in order to reach the coveted 50,000.  Not a chance.

But that's okay.  When I first heard of the program several years ago, my response was a resounding "why would I do that, when anything that rushed will come out as crap?"  Well, I decided I was going to do it back in May because in all my years of writing I haven't written a novel yet.  I figured this was a good way to give myself the necessary kick in the pants, plus there's the extensive support network online (though I'm not much into message boards.)  However, it turned out to be unnecessary since I've been working on my first novel since the end of July, and I've been writing daily since early September.  I didn't need the kick in the pants after all.

I have been writing daily all month, and I had a few really productive days.  2,200 words in a day is definitely my personal best--at least as far as I've kept track of (I never counted daily words while working on stories, or years ago when I was in school.)  I would venture to say that I am capable of writing that many words in a day, and that they aren't necessarily crap.  However, it's not a pace I can keep up regularly.  Like I frequently do, I hit a plateau where I only wrote 200-400 words each day, which lasted for more than 10 days.  I remained productive during this time, but only marginally so.

Mostly, NaNoWriMo has taught me about myself.  With a toddler, the exhaustion of pregnancy, and all the usual (and unusual) distractions that life throws at me, 1,700 words every day is just not realistic for me.  Most days I just can't spend that much time writing.  Some days I want to and get frustrated that there isn't enough time, and other days I just don't want to.  And that's okay too, because my best writing comes when I want to be doing it.  I also found that the pressure of trying to keep up a high word count detracted from my mood during the rest of the day as well.  I had some really frustrating days at the beginning of the month, and I decided that this wasn't worth the stress on me and my family life.

But as I said, the purpose it was supposed to serve became unnecessary before I even started.  My novel itself is now over 64,000 words, and I'd say I have at least another 20-30,000 more to go.  Possibly more, since the only "outline" is in my head.  I'm pleased with my progress, and with the book itself.  I don't need a competition to write it--just the desire to tell a good tale.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pandora's Time Sale!!!!

Almost exactly six months after my first sale, I have made another one!

Pandora's Time will appear in the anthology A Glitch in the Continuum!  This is from the Library of Science Fiction and Fantasy Press, which is the same press that is publishing Doomology, where I made my first sale.

I'm really happy with this one.  This was only the third market I sent it to!  I've never placed anything this quickly before (although I can't say much in that regard since this is only my second sale.)  But to boost my ego even further, when I looked around the forums over at Library of the Living Dead, I saw that the editor is still reading a few of the submissions.  However, he decided to send out some acceptances that were in his "yes, definitely" pile--so he wanted mine straight off, he didn't even have to wait in case something better came along!  Yes, it's true, I'm flying high right now!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blame it on Pregnancy Brain

I have to blame it on Pregnancy Brain.  It's made me scatterbrained.  It's the only viable excuse that I have.  I've shared this story with my mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and some friends, and everybody has laughed uproariously, so I hope that you, too, can get a kick out of my misfortune.

I've missed my son's 2-year doctor appointment.


The first was an early appointment on a Monday morning, and Mondays are days when I can typically sleep a little later.  In fact, I slept a lot later on this particular Monday, because my son slept late, affording me some extra zzz's.  In addition, I didn't think about--or prepare for--the appointment before going to bed on Sunday.  I woke up on Monday and had just enough time to smile at the fact that my son had led me sleep in before I realized that the appointment was in 20 minutes.  Neither of us was dressed, neither of us had eaten, not to mention that we still would have to get in the car and drive there.  I ran out to check the calendar in case I was wrong--I wasn't--and then called the pediatrician, apologizing and asking what we should do.  They set us up with a new appointment that Thursday in the early afternoon.

This particular Thursday was a beautiful day and we went to our swim lesson and then came home and played with sidewalk chalk on the driveway.  We had a very leisurely morning... and afternoon... enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and not worrying about any obligations.  Then we had lunch, after which we cleaned up the house and I started getting my son ready for bed.

The phone rang while I was getting him ready and I went over to check the caller ID.  It said "Pediatrician" and I just had a brief moment to wonder why they were giving me a second appointment reminder call when I realized that it had been due to start nearly two hours prior.

I threw my hands in the air and started cursing at myself for having missed it.  There was no good excuse this time, after all.  We'd been doing nothing but playing, and could've made it on time even if I'd only remembered 15 minutes beforehand.  I collapsed on the floor, still cursing at myself while my perplexed son watched.

At that point something else clicked in my head.  The phone had only rung 2 times.  It rings 4 times before the answering machine picks up, but it had stopped.  Had they hung up?  I got up and looked at the base and got another shock.  Apparently, when I'd thrown my hands in the air, I'd knocked over an empty bottle that had been sitting by the phone, which landed on, you guessed it, the speakerphone button.

Argh!  The employee from the pediatrician's office who called to tell us we'd missed an appointment got to hear me cuss at myself--in front of my son, though there was no way for them to know that.  I quickly said "Oh Sh**, I answered the phone.  Hello?" and got an answering click.

Well, I got my son to bed and waited for my husband to call home on his break before contacting them again, because I wanted somebody to vent to before having to admit my folly to those at the office.  When I spoke to them (they actually called again before I had a chance to call them) they set me up for a third appointment, which is scheduled for tomorrow morning.  Hopefully I won't miss this one.  It would be pretty hard to.  I'm remembering it as I type this, at any rate, and my mom said she'd call me tonight with a reminder.  I expect hubby will be helping me to remember as well.

I asked the woman who called the second time whether she was the person who had called earlier.  She said she wasn't, and I asked her to pass on my apologies, and told her what happened.  She sounded a little awkward, making me think she probably had called earlier but felt weird about it.  She asked whether I was okay and I told her I was fine, just apparently scatterbrained.

So that's my embarrassing, and apparently amusing, story.  I hope you get a few laughs out of it.  I'm still a bit irked at myself for my failure to remember, but this shall pass.

Friday, November 5, 2010

All Clear

Back on October 19, I went to the Tattered Cover for the release of Connie Willis' latest book, All Clear.
This is the second part of her novel Blackout, which was released back in February and which I blogged about here.

I've been very behind on reading this year, and so I only started reading Blackout last month, but I devoured it.  I was about 2/3 of the way through it when I went to Connie's signing, and I've since finished it and am about 1/3 of the way through All Clear.  As always, I love the way Connie phrases things, and she has an excellent way of weaving her stories together, making the reader want more.  I do recommend these books (we'll see if that remains the same after I finish this one!) but don't expect happiness.  They are about World War II, after all.

I had to compliment Connie when she signed my book because I don't think I've ever had anyone bring the Blitz to life for me before.  Academically, I knew what it was, but most history lessons I remember about WWII tended to focus on the holocaust or Pearl Harbor--movies too.  I'd never before internalized the hell that Londoners went through with bombs dropping on their heads every night--which just goes to show how much of an impact fiction can have on a person.

During her talk, Connie mostly concentrated on how frequently history balances on a knife's edge, and what little things can push it over.  For example (please bear in mind that I'm paraphrasing), Hitler's plan to invade England involved first an air war, where he was systematically taking out Royal Air Force (RAF) targets.  After taking out the RAF, he believed he would be able to march into London unopposed.  It had worked in other countries, after all.  He'd instructed his pilots to jettison their bombs in the English Channel if they were unable to find their targets.  Well, one night, two Luftwaffe pilots got lost in the London fog.  They couldn't find their targets, so they jettisoned their bombs over what they thought was the English Channel.  It wasn't the English Channel though--they hit a civilian target:  a church, and a few civilians died.  Well, Churchill had said that if Hitler ever attacked civilians, he would retailiate, so he attacked Berlin.  The attack so enraged Hitler that he called off attacking RAF targets and began the Blitz:  the regular bombing of London.  While this was horrific for Londoners, it probably worked in favor of England and the Allies.  Historians have estimated that the RAF had no more than two weeks left before they would have been completely wiped out had Hitler continued his original plan.  With Hitler changing his targets, they had time to regroup, rebuild, and keep fighting him off--and all because two pilots got lost in the fog.  So you never know when a decision--or a mistake--will change the course of history.  Kinda fun to look at from a time travel standpoint.

The release was fun from a social standpoint as well, as I met an old friend there.  Waiting in line to get our books signed was the perfect time to catch up.  It made for a nice evening.

Monday, November 1, 2010

October Stat Check

During the month of October, I wrote on all 31 days!!!!!!!!!!  In fact, I'm at 56 straight days now!

I wrote 22,000 words (about 9 chapters) for my novel
I made 2 submissions
I received 3 rejections
I declared that one market either lost or never responded to my submission, after four months of waiting and 8 days after my query went unanswered
I have 7 stories currently in slush pile circulation
I took between 1 and 6 days to resubmit a story after a rejection
I made 9 blog posts
I took no days off
It felt good to write everyday, even though there were a few days that were hard to do (most notably right before my son's birthday.)  I haven't been very present online this month, but that just goes to show that I can't be everywhere at once.  Overall, I'm very happy with this month.  I like looking at my calendar and seeing little Ws in the corner of each day indicating that I produced something.  I don't really want to turn the page!

My goals for November are to attempt to reach 50,000 words by month's end.  I don't know whether I'll make it, though I do know it's possible.  I also have a goal to enforce my own bedtime.  I've been exhausted lately, no doubt due to the pregnancy, and even 8 hours don't seem to be enough.  On top of that, I often deprive myself of sleep, but I'm hoping to enact some small smidgen of self-control and get to bed on time, so as to have the energy to stay awake and write when I need to.  There are several things I'd like to catch up on as well, though I don't know whether any of that will happen.  We'll see how my time-management skills work for the next month.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Who's Doing NaNoWriMo?

It's time to start gearing up for NaNoWriMo!  I actually have a smidgen of hope that I might hit 50,000 words in one month--yesterday I wrote 1,676 words, which is about what one needs to hit each day for the month of November.  I know it's at least possible for me to do it!  I had hopes of doing the same today, but then the kiddo woke from his nap early, and was constipated, and well... suffice it to say I had to stop at just under 1,000.  I could do more now, but today has been the worst pregnancy evening I've had so far so I'm about ready to go to bed.  I won't say it's the worst possible, because I haven't actually bowed to the porcelain god, but it's the worst I've had with either pregnancy.  With my son, I didn't get nauseous at all--with this one, I feel icky a lot.  I can only hope s/he will make up for it by being more cooperative in the turning-head-down-in-time-for-the-birth department!  (Unlike my son.)

ANYWAY...  I'm wondering if anybody else who occasionally graces my corner of the blogosphere will be doing NaNo?  If so, please leave a comment with your screen name.  I'm ScienceFictionMommy over there, and I'd like to grab a couple of writing buddies.  Brian, I know you are and you can expect a buddy request soon.  But anybody else?

Thanks all!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Emerging from the Black Hole of a Birthday Party

Yes, as you can see, I've been absent from the blogosphere for nearly two weeks.  Getting ready for my son's second birthday party has taken a complete monopoly of my time.  Plus, I've been exhausted for a reason I will elaborate at the end of this post.  However, I am proud to report that I have, at least, continued writing during this crazy time.  The ticker is correct, I'm now at 49 days of nonstop writing!  I'm never going to make the 50,000 words of NaNoWriMo at this pace, as some days have been as few as 250 words, but at least I've kept going!

But this particular post isn't about writing.  I'm here to say:


Here are a few highlighs of the day:

The biggest time-sucker was getting the cake ready.  Why?  Because in keeping with the "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" theme, I made individual train car cupcakes.  This is three boxes of cake.
Hubby participated with the decorating, but it still took us several combined hours to complete all this.  It was particularly difficult since we have to bake without egg, which makes the cakes more crumbly.  They had to spend a lot of time in the freezer to keep them from falling apart as we worked with them.

But despite the amount of work, I am happy with the result.
Here are the favors.  Also trains, containing a stuffed monkey (they came with monkeys,) a matchbox car, a frisbee, and two glider airplanes.  Planes, Trains, and Autos.  I blogged here about the favors when I finished painting them.
This is my son playing with his nifty new Train Table.  The most beautiful part of this gift is that I got it at a garage sale, meaning it was a lot cheaper than such things usually cost.  It's in very good condition too.
We gave him the table the night before his birthday because I wanted him to have a chance to claim it as his own before having to share with other kids the next day.  The problem was that he did NOT want to go to bed that night.  In fact, he pretty much wants to live in the basement now.  At least I know he likes it!

A few random party shots:

The obligatory cake-smeared birthday boy face
The party consisted of family and friends, and after he opened his gifts from his friends, Hubby and I had him open this gift in front of everybody.  Here's a picture of him wearing it.
Yes, that's a t-shirt that says "Big Brother."  We are expecting another!  Early June.  At that time, Science Fiction Mommy will become a Mommy of two!  And things will get even more crazy than they are now.  Let twice the fun commence!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I'm finding that the more days in a row that I write this novel, the more I want to write it.  It's not just a feeling of obligation or the sense that I don't want to break the streak (although I don't,) but I'm feeling more enthused about this project, I'm definitely more into the story, and writing it is more fun and exciting.  Even though I do the bulk of my writing in the evening, and even though I've been depriving myself of sleep lately (mostly to do more writing), taking a day off hasn't been much of a temptation.

It'll be interesting to see how long I can keep this streak up.  Will I one day be celebrating 100 days of solid writing?  1000?  The latter seems unlikely.  I'm very much in favor of vacations and taking time to recharge the batteries, although I have written on vacations in the past.  And it's quite a different thing when I feel like I'm obligated to work on a project and when I want to.

Some of my writer buddies have discussed Steven King's "On Writing" recently, and I think perhaps this is my opportunity to bring up one point in the book.  I only just read it a few months ago, and I remember his suggestion that people feel a natural inclination to do things that they're good at.  This also touches on discussions of whether being good at any art comes from natural talent or dedication and practice.  I'll leave that argument for other places, but my experience over the last few weeks argues that a natural inclination can be a result of dedication and practice.  I dedicated myself to writing daily to work on this book, and after several weeks (some of which were easier than others) I suddenly want to write daily to work on this book.  I don't just want to write daily in order to get a finished product, but because I'm thoroughly enjoying the process.

I'd like to believe that I'm decent at this craft, though I know I'm always learning, growing, and developing my talents--but this is new for me.  Never have I been so enthused about a project for so long.  On the other hand, it could only be because this is the first time I'm working on a novel.  My enthusiasm to write daily may wane when it's over.  Perhaps my enthusiasm was proportionately shorter before because I've only ever written short fiction?


Monday, October 11, 2010

The Terrible Twos aren't so Terrible

"Wait," you might say.  "Your son isn't quite two yet."  Well, yes he is.  Even though his birthday is just under two weeks away, I've been considering him Two on the behavioral front since he started getting more willful and stubborn, about a month or six weeks ago.

Stubborn and Willful are what the Terrible Twos are known for, after all.  But really, it isn't that bad.  Yes, we've had some crazy days where I've been tempted to drive to my husband's work, hand my husband his son, boot my husband out of his cubicle and take his place, even though I don't know the first thing about the systems he supports.  Or simply hand my husband his son at any time of day and run screaming for the wilderness without stopping to look back.  But let's face it, I've had occasional days like that since the beginning.  They come in waves, but as long as I do take time to myself after hubby gets home, I'm usually fortified for the next encounter.

But despite the fact that my son always wants to do things His Way right now, I think this is a wonderful age.  He's starting to show empathy (he recognizes when other people--or stuffed animals--are hurt and will comfort them), his cognition is growing by leaps and bounds, his language skills keep expanding, he's joyous, inquisitive, he's developing a sense of humor, and his personality is blossoming left and right.  I love watching him concentrate as he tries to figure something out, I smile at the joy he experiences when he learns something new, and I take pride in each accomplishment even though it brings a pang that he needs me just that little bit less.

We've even managed to keep his misbehavior relatively low because I'm learning how to work around it.  His tantrums don't last for very long, but that's because I ignore them (I've been ignoring them since they started) so mostly I think he does them to blow off steam rather than out of any expectation that he'll get something from them.  And when it comes to tantrum triggers, I do my best to avoid them if I can.  I try to give him warnings when we're about to end something fun, I give him options so he has some choice in what we do, I look for ways he can help me with a task when it's keeping me from playing with him ("can you put the salad dressing on the table for me, sweetie?"), and I strive to find better ways to say things (instead of "you need to put your airplane away" I'll say "can you show me where your airplane belongs?")  I've started just trying to put his pullup on before bed so using the toilet can be his idea instead of my suggestion.

Yes, we still butt heads.  Yes, I still have to discipline him, take toys away when they don't get put away, put him in Time Out (we call it "exile"), raise my voice or pick him up to make him do something, but mostly we've figured out how to get through the day with the fewest speed bumps.  And as I said before, I love watching him explore his world, especially at this age when he's so interactive.  I know a day will come when I'm no longer the sun in the center of his universe (me and his daddy) and I want to enjoy this time.

What I'm looking most forward to is more language breakthroughs.  A month of two ago he figured out the two-word sentence, and I can't wait for the next step.  I'm looking forward to having actual conversations with him.  To find out what's on his mind beyond pointing and naming all the objects he knows.  To find out what his favorite color is rather than just guessing based on what crayons he uses most.  To find out what he dreams about.  To find out what he's scared of.  He's my son, and I want to know, and I know he's only one or two language milestones away from being able to tell me.

Until I can, I'll just go on enjoying the wonderful child he has become.  I can't wait to see how he reacts to the overstimulation of a birthday party and whether he'll be bold or shy during Trick-Or-Treating.  Two really is a beautiful age.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How Did I Miss Banned Book Week?

Well, to be honest I've never actually participated in anything to do with the week, but I do take pride in reading the books.  In fact, as a writer I think I would take a certain amount of pride in having people try to ban something I write.  It would mean I was saying something.

My high school had a science fiction class, which I took during my junior year.  (More than 10 years later, I still think that's cool.)  It was an excellent class, and introduced me to many great pieces of literature.  But the thing I remember most about that class was something the teacher told us one day:  "If you haven't offended someone, you haven't really said anything."  I don't believe he was the originator of this quote, but he is the person who introduced it to me, and it had a profound effect on me which has lasted to this day.  People get offended by things, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth saying.  Sometimes it means they're worth saying even more.

The sad thing is that I don't even remember this teacher's name.  I should probably go check out my yearbook--since he had such an impact on me, I owe him that much.  Hang on...

It was Mr. Ron Elms.  Thank you, Mr. Elms!

One of my facebook friends posted this article yesterday, about libel lawsuits that kill books far more efficiently than trying to ban them.  It's worth reading for any author--and readers as well.  It's a good idea to make dramatic changes to anyone living that you don't plan to show in a good light, or so it seems.  But isn't that one of the great things about science fiction?  You can imagine a horrible outcome to a current event, but place it so far into an exaggerated future that no one can really point fingers.  In fact, if you do it right, people from all sides of the political/religious/scientific/whatever spectrum can look at it without taking offense, because if it's good they can claim people of their beliefs would bring it about, and if its bad they can blame it on people who don't agree with them.  (George Orwell, anyone?)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Funny Thing About Formula

I received something amusing in the mail yesterday.  It was a notification about a recall on baby formula.  I found this amusing because I haven't used formula in more than a year, and when I did use it, my son got approximately one or two bottles per week.

Though I was primarily nursing, I gave my son formula for two reasons.  One, I wanted him to be familiar with using a bottle in case a) I needed/wanted some time off or b) there was some kind of emergency.  Two, I wanted him familiar with the taste of formula for reasons a and b above.  My motivation for this mostly came from a horror story my mom tells of a time she was out with her sister, and then stuck in traffic, when I was a hungry infant.  I flat-out refused the bottle of formula my dad offered me and by the time Mom got home I was hysterical, she was engorged, and nursing was uncomfortable for both of us.  Apparently I also gave my dad the crustiest look when he handed me over, at least according to my aunt.  I wanted to prevent any such thing from happening with my son, especially as I wanted to not HAVE to be his only source of food 24/7.

Okay, there was your story for the day.  Anyway, I mostly got the formula I used from free samples, but I also joined all the formula clubs so I could get their checks and coupons.  I purchased two, maybe three cans of formula total.  Eventually the checks stopped coming, probably because I seldom used them.  The formula club is the only way I can think of that Similac got my address to inform me of this recall.  But really, you'd think they'd realize that I wasn't using formula anymore considering that my son is almost two and I used so few of their checks.  Are there really people who keep giving their kids formula for this long?

The most interesting thing about this recall notification is the manner in which they sent it.  It came in an 8x11 inch padded envelope, and yet there was only one folded piece of paper inside.  I suppose they were counting on the uniqueness of the envelope to catch my attention--which worked, I opened it right away--but wouldn't a normal envelope with the bold words "ATTENTION:  BABY FORMULA RECALL" on the outside attract just as much attention?  At least for parents currently using formula?  It was a voluntary recall too, not even a known health threat.

All right, I'm through musing on this subject.  At the very least, it gave me something to talk about.

"Days Without Not Writing" New Counter

Once again, I'm pretending I know how to write code.

Apparently there aren't many Count Up Timers available online, at least if you only want to diplay days (as opposed to counting by the second or millisecond.)  Therefore, I thought I would provide a link and details about the one I found and am using for my new "Days Without Not Writing" Counter.


JavaScript Countdown/Count-up Timer/Clock/Ticker for Web Pages

Cost-free and advertising-free. But a link to his page is appreciated (by him, duh.)
Note: This service comes with NO GUARANTEES. No liability is assumed.
(Science Fiction Mommy assumes no liability either)
  • A free and simple JavaScript countdown/Count-up timer/clock/ticker to/from the target date and time of your choice. Just copy and paste to your Web pages. You can also customize the display format, foreground and background colors of the countdown timer.
  • You can omit most parameters. Default values will be used in that case. CountActive is used to enable to disable counting. If you only want to show a fixed static time-remaining message, set it to false. It'll save on browser resources.
  • DisplayFormat allows you to format the countdown/Count-up display to your liking. For example, instead of the default English, you can use terms from your own language, or make any other desired adjustments, like omitting the Seconds segment.
  • Use FinishMessage to display a desired message (or nothing, i.e. ""), when countdown reaches zero. Obviously never displayed when counting up.
  • CountStepper specifies the step value or period (in seconds) for the counter. Use positive number for counting up, negative number for counting down. Value is rounded up to next integer. When specifying positive (count up), be sure to specify past TargetDate, otherwise only the finish message is displayed.
  • Single digits are displayed with leading zeros, unless LeadingZero is set to false.
  • Here's the simple JavaScript countdown/count-up code (copy and paste to your Web page):
Note from Eileen:  you'll need to change the [ to < and the ] to > every time they appear--keeping the code as code just added the timer to this post

[script language="JavaScript"]

TargetDate = "12/31/2020 5:00 AM";
BackColor = "palegreen";
ForeColor = "navy";
CountActive = true;
CountStepper = -1;
LeadingZero = true;
DisplayFormat = "%%D%% Days, %%H%% Hours, %%M%% Minutes, %%S%% Seconds.";
FinishMessage = "It is finally here!";
[script language="JavaScript" src=http://scripts.hashemian.com/js/countdown.js][/script]

See the top right of my blog for what this looks like with days only, Verdana font size 30
  • Countdown FAQ
  • Please consider putting the script on your own site and save him (me too!) from high usage warnings.
  • Since this countdown/count-up runs on the client browser, it's best to append to the target date the appropriate UTC (Universal Time Coordinates) offset for the location of your event.
  • For example, if the sample code above is for US Eastern Standard Time, you'd specify TargetDate as:
  • "12/31/2020 5:00 AM UTC-0500". This way an accurate countdown is displayed for all users regardless of their geographic location. Thanks to Justin Carter for the tip.
  • Mun Rashid has modified the JavaScript code by using object wrapping to allow for multiple countdowns on one page. Download Mun's JavaScript code here. Download the sample HTML here.
  • Tilesh Khatri has written a simplified script based on the countdown code that displays multiple clocks on one page. Download the HTML.
  • (Go to the page I got this from for the above two links)
  • To reset the clock and count up with every page visit set TargetDate to "new Date();" and CountStepper to "1". This will effectively show visit duration. Leave out the double-quotes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Welcome to the New Science Fiction Mommy!

As you can see, I've done a little redesigning.  Firstly, I now have a button you can grab and imbed on your own webpage if you'd like a fancy link to me--it's just below "About Me."

The whole blog redesign basically centered around that.  I've been wanting to make a button for a while, but didn't know how and didn't have an image either.  I finally started browsing royalty-free clip art and discovered that there were some alien images that came close to what I wanted.  So I copied them and got busy editing and tweaking to my heart's content.  I not only made the button but the fancy new header and a banner I can add to message board signatures (if they allow such things.)

I found this very detailed article on ehow telling me exactly how to add the code for the button and text box to my blog.  It was far easier than I'd imagined and wasn't worth the worry I've given it during the months that I've been putting this off.

Then I decided that a lighter background might be easier on the eyes (I got a bit of feedback on that a while back), so I found a new one.  I've also added nice, fancy links to NaNoWriMo and Critters, as you can see on the right.

I'm very happy with the new look, and am proud of myself for figuring out how to do it.  However, I think I'll stop pretending I know how to write code and go back to my novel.  Enjoy the new features!

Friday, October 1, 2010

September Stat Check

During the month of September, I wrote on 25 of the days!
I wrote five chapters (approximately 12,000 words) of a novel
I made 5 submissions
I received 4 rejections
I have 7 stories currently in slush pile circulation
I took between 1 and 14 days to resubmit a story after a rejection
I made 11 blog posts
Between writing, the blog, and Critters, I took 3 days off

When it comes to the craft, this has been my best month ever.  I'm on a streak at the moment:  24 solid days of writing and counting!  Some days have been small (200-300 words, one as low as 150) and others are much larger (1300 words.)  I'm very happy with the fact that I haven't had an overwhelming desire to stop and do nothing--and each day of this streak makes me want to not break it even more.  I think if I can get over 30 days, I'll be posting a ticker on the side of my blog saying "Days Without Not Writing."  Of course, I'm going to take a day off sooner or later.  We all need breaks, even from things we love, or we can burn out.  But right now I'm really happy with this streak.

I know that I really need to kick my word count into higher gear though.  As I've said before, I'm planning on participating (in one way or another) in NaNoWriMo this year, and the minimum daily word count to reach 50,000 in one month is 1,670--and I haven't hit that yet.  My husband already knows he'll see less of me that month because I'll be escaping to my office and closing the door regularly, leaving the boys to play together.  It's just for a month, after all!

My goals for October are to keep plugging away at my novel, catch up on Critters (been neglecting it, oops,) do research and outlining for my next novel, and make about 10 blog posts.

Happy Pumpkin Season!  (I plan to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies either tonight or this weekend!  Yum!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Novelistic Progress

I passed the 20,000 word mark on my novel last night!  After passing the 13,500 word mark, it became the longest thing I've ever written.  I don't know how long this is going to be, but I'm still working on a lot of setup.  50,000 is the number to shoot for during NaNoWriMo, but that's actually pretty short for a novel and I'm hoping this will be significantly longer.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, if I write 1,000 words per day on this novel, I'll get it over the 50,000 word mark before November.  That's probably doable on most days now that I'm in the groove, but even so, I'm not sure this novel will be done by November.  I want to do NaNo this year--I even signed up several months ago--but I'm not sure what to do if this novel isn't finished yet.  I certainly don't want to halt its progress to work on something else.  Originally I'd been hoping to spend October outlining and researching my next novel (I need to do a fair bit of research on plausible orbital space colonies and world-ending natural disasters) but I'm not sure how much time I'm going to have.  I suppose I could work on two at once like my husband does--he researches and outlines one screenplay during downtime at work, and writes a second in the evenings--but I'm concerned about getting them confused, or having trouble moving between them, or breaking the momentum of both.  I suppose one option would be to do some researching and outlining in October and then, come November, just keep writing this current novel until it's finished.  Then, once the first novel is finished I can immediately start the second one.  Yes, this isn't quite playing by their rules, but I'd  only count the words written during the month, and I'd still be trying for 50,000 total words of new prose in November.  And hey, the whole point of joining was to get myself to write a novel this year, which I've begun to do earlier than I anticipated.  Hopefully I'll write two novels this year!

I've finally gotten into a groove when it comes to the novel writing.  In fact, I've written for the last 22 days straight, and the word counts on those days have increased as time has gone on--making me hopeful that I can get to the 1670 necessary to complete NaNo.  This is definitely my longest streak.  The last record was 16.  (This is all since I started keeping track back in February, but I'm pretty sure this is the longest streak ever, since, even as a student, I took days off between projects--and it's very easy to take breaks between short stories.)  If I can get up to 30 without missing a day, I think I'll look for a ticker to put on the side of my blog labelled "Days Without Not Writing."  Even the pathetic days when I only write 150-300 words (which has happened a few times) I at least didn't break the streak.  Each day that increases this record makes me not want to break it even more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Many Silhouette Giveaways

Well, how about that?  Not even a week ago I blogged about my son's birthday invitations and how I would like to get a Silhouette machine, and then my friend finds two Silhouette giveaways to enter!  Sure, my odds are about 1 in 500 (and that's if more people don't enter before they end) but that's still a chance, right?  So for anyone else who is interested, here are the links to the Silhouette giveaways:

From Blue Cricket Design (ends September 29)

and from Somewhat Simple (ends September 30)

Holy @#$#*@#!!!  There are more of them than I realized!  Here are a few MORE Silhouette giveaways:

From Amy's Finer Things (ends Sept 30)

From Twig & Thistle (ends Sept 30)

From The Shopping Mama (ends Sept 30)

From Our Best Bites (ends Sept 28)

From How Does She? (ends Sept 29)

From Crafty Pod (ends Sept 30) (that sure sounds like a sci-fi name to me!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Let Pumpkin Season Begin!

Yesterday, I went to a Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off.  I found out about it last week and thought it sounded like fun.  I was also hoping to find some advice, because I have a horrible time growing pumpkins.  Few of my female flowers open (they just wither on the vine and die) so I don't get the chance to pollinate them (yes, I have tried to help my pumpkins have sex.)  So I was hoping that somebody there might be able to tell me what I was doing wrong.

The weigh-off was for the Rocky Mountain Giant Vegetable Growers Club.  It had many elements of a typical fall harvest festival--food, drink, bouncy castle, face painting, baking contest--with the notable difference that the competition fruits were a yard in diameter.  There were some pretty impressive pumpkins at this thing.  I went by myself, but next year I think I'll bring the family.  My son is a little timid in crowds right now, but by next year I hope he would enjoy the bouncy castle and the fruit that's bigger than him.

I didn't stay the whole time, so I didn't get the chance to see what the heaviest pumpkin weighed.  (They were starting with the lightest.)  I wanted to see the big ones, but needed to get home.  However, I did stay long enough to see how they transported the pumpkins, which I was really curious about.  The smaller pumpkins (like those for the junior division, which I DID see all of) they simply rolled the pumpkin back, pushed a tarp with handles under it, and then team lifted it with two to four people.  I knew they were never going to do that with the thousand-pounders, so I was curious.  The answer is that after using a forklift to bring the pallet with the pumpkin over next to the scale, they used this apparatus, hanging from the forklift, to wrap around the pumpkin:

Then the forklift carried the pumpkin to the scale, where they removed the harness and weighed it.  Pretty nifty!  (By the way, this pumpkin is tiny.  It only weighed in at around 275 pounds.  Last year's Colorado record was somewhere in the vicinity of 1,200-1,300 pounds!)

One of these years, perhaps I'll grow a giant of my own.  After I get my growing problem sorted, that is.  Of course, I'm hoping that I'll be in a completely different house next spring, so my problem might go away on its own.

After seeing all the giants yesterday, and considering that we're now five days from October, I decided it was time to puree the pie pumpkins I got at last week's farmers' market in preparation of doing some pumpkin baking.  I make some killer Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies which I can only allow myself to make in October and November so my family doesn't overeat all year long.  We also have some good pumpkin pasta and pumpkin soup recipes, and I like to make my own puree.  I only got 5 cups from two pumpkins though, so I'm going to have to buy another 4 or 5 of them.  The soup takes 4 cups on its own, and the cookies take 2 for each batch (technically that's for a double batch, but I always make it double, it means I can wait a little longer before making more.)  So I'm going to need to stock up on more pumpkin.

I hope everybody's Halloween/Harvest Time goes well!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inviting a crew of small children into my home

I must be something of a masochist, because I stay up way too late finishing these projects.  At any rate, the invitations for my son's 2nd birthday party are done!
I'm quite proud of the way they turned out.  My husband even had the idea to incorporate boarding passes into the invites, to fit the theme, which I did.  I found an awesome online template here, and it was a breeze to personalize.  (I think they were designed as invites for a destination wedding, but it worked really well for our purposes too.)
It's been a long time since I used my Sizzix machine.  Some of the dies didn't want to cut all the way through, which was really getting on my nerves because I didn't want to cut out half of each tiny airplane by hand.  A friend of mine has a Cricut machine, and I'm starting to think that I might finally catch up on my scrapbooking if I had a new toy to play with.  However, I think I might get a Silhouette Machine if I get anything, because the Silhouette can cut out any font on your computer, whereas you have to buy cartridges for the Cricut.  (For those who don't know, both machines cut paper, vinyl, t-shirt transfers, etc for scrapbooking, cards, and various other crafts.  Cricut even has a special model that can cut fondant frosting for cake decorating.  Unlike a traditional press-style die-cut machine like the Sizzix, they both are more like printers with a blade instead of ink--and no muscle or rolling required.)  Scrapbooking has barely been a part of my life since my son entered it, and I would enjoy doing a bit of it again.  Perhaps this will be on my Christmas list...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Decluttering my Mind

I'm the sort of person who writes best when I don't have other things to do hanging over my head.  I'm not particularly concerned about things like laundry (which I'm happily ignoring as I write this) but intellectual things like updating my budget, sending emails, and filing story ideas.  It occurred to me that although I've been writing every day for the last two weeks, I haven't been getting much done--just a few hundred words each day, which will mean the novel will take forever.  And I've been doing the bulk of this writing not during naptime, but after both my son and husband go to bed at night, and I've been depriving myself of sleep in the process.  I also realized that my office had gotten quite cluttered and my "I'll take care of that later" list had gotten very long.  I therefore made a concentrated effort to tidy up--both in my head and out--in the hopes that it will make my writing flow more easily again.
I'd hoped to spend one naptime doing this, but it turned into three.  I took care of bank statements, filed papers that had been sitting around, cut out a few recipes that I've been wanting to try and filed them away, signed up for an online service I'd been meaning to do, sent a half-dozen emails that had been on the backburner, transcribed some papers so I could get them off my desk, and ordered some stuff for my son's birthday party.

I definitely feel more relaxed.  It's nice to look around my work space and see everything organized.  Will it help my writing?  Well, naptime today was spent entertaining since we had people over, so here we are in the evening again.  I'm hoping to get back on track during naptime tomorrow.  Time will tell!

Writers of the Future Feedback

I thought I'd share, (since not everybody is going to read all the previous comments) that I got a note back from Writers of the Future on the feedback I gave them regarding their electronic submission process.  The most gratifying part was this quote:
"I'll pass on your comment on the "housewife" category as I think you are right. I can think of several winners right off bat that are stay-home dads."

They also said that they collect age and occupation for demographic and marketing purposes, to find the best target audience when they market the books--which could eventually lead to more money for prizes. I'd still like it not to be mandatory, but the reasoning makes sense.  It was especially nice to hear since my immediate reaction had been "this contest is supposed to be blind, why are they asking for this?"

I was also happy to know that my comments didn't fall on deaf ears.  Thank you, Writers of the Future!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Writers of the Future Contest now accepts electronic submissions!

Okay, so many of you probably already knew that, but I haven't submitted anything to Writers of the Future since February.  I think it's excellent when a market opens up to electronic submissions since it saves on time, postage, and trees.  It's so much easier for me to hit "send" at any time of day than cart a wiggly toddler to the post office.  Asimov's also recently (sometime between March 2008 and July 2010, anyway) started accepting electronic submissions too.  Now if Analog and Fantasy and Science Fiction would jump onboard, I'd almost never have to visit a post office!

The only thing I didn't like about the Writers of the Future electronic process is that they made Age, Gender, and Occupation required fields.  Gender I can see--they need to know whether to put Mr. or Ms. on their responses--but what does it matter how old you are or what you do?  The occupation options were pretty general and limited too:  executive/managerial, clerical, blue collar, sales, artist/writer, student, educator, military, housewife, and other.  I opted for artist/writer over housewife because I hate the term housewife.  And because I am a writer and hope to make a living wage off of it someday.  "Housewife" makes me feel like I should pull my hair back with a scarf, keep my house spotless (with little or no help from my husband), happily have dinner on the table at 6:30 every night, and pop out babies left and right.  Chasing after a kid is incredibly freaking hard work (I always feel like I'm running from behind) and I strongly believe that maintenance of a household is a joint (or group) responsibility.  And frankly, the only reason that I stayed home with our son when my husband went back to work is because he made more.  Had our salaries been reversed, I probably would still be in the rat race and he would be staying home with our son.  How come they didn't have an option that read "househusband?"

Anyway, good for them for joining the electronic age, but I think their entry form needs some tweaking.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Where do you get stuck?

I'm wondering what parts of a story/book are hardest for other writers to write.

I just pulled through a difficult chapter in my novel that took a really long time, and the problem (it seems to be the problem almost every time I get stuck) is that it was a transition.  Getting my characters to the next place I need them to be--quickly, logically, and without crossing the line between necessary exposition and info dump--is the part of writing that makes me struggle the most.  When trying to figure out such a transition I am most likely to stare at a blank screen, get distracted, and complain about just how difficult writing really is.  Give me an action scene any day--I can get it out much more quickly and easily.

My husband has the same issue, although he tends to outline his work first, so he goes through his struggles during the outline phase.  Once he's actually writing, he knows what's supposed to come next.  How do the rest of you weigh in on this?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Doomology Cover Art!

I'm very excited today because I've finally been able to join the forums over at the Library of the Living Dead Press--the parent group that is publishing my first story.  I kept encountering errors and haven't tried in a few weeks, but today I decided to give it another go, and it worked!  So I'm now a member.  I'm not huge into message boards, but I'll definitely be stopping by intermittently.

But that's not the best part.  The best part is that I stopped by just in time, because the cover art for Doomology was posted up there yesterday!  Check it out:

What do you think?  That's the book that will have my work inside!

Monday, September 6, 2010

They're Done! They're Finally Done!!!

Yes, I have more than a month remaining before my son's second birthday, but I've been working on his party favors. These were on clearance at Michael's, and they fit perfectly with the theme of my son's upcoming party.  It will be "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" because well, my son loves all things vehicular.
As I said, they were cheap, so I bought them and decided to paint them. Which has turned out to be a big pain. Do you see how many nooks, crannies, and crevices these things have?
Especially the wheels. There are eight tiny holes on each of four small wheels on each of nine little carts. That's 288 tiny holes to cram black paint into.  Plus four on each wheel of the engine, so 24 more is 312 tiny holes. And the bars. Seven bars on two sides of each cart is 126 little bars to paint. But at least they're done. I will paint the kids names on them once I have RSVPs (which won't happen until I make and send out invitations--more work) but essentially they're done. Perhaps I'll just get a sparkly paint pen from a craft store for the names--it'll be much faster and easier than using a brush to add them. I'm thinking about sending the invitations in a "Save the Date" format. Most likely the party will be at our house, but I'm still holding out hope that someone will want to buy our house in the meantime--and if we're in the process of a move, the party will have to be elsewhere. In any case though, the painting of the favors is done. Now I can go back to writing during naptime, instead of painting tiny carts with tiny parts. Painting, painting, painting. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't enjoy this kind of thing, but I think it drove me just a teensy bit nuts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Stat Check

During the month of August, I wrote on 19 of the days
I wrote four chapters of a novel, sorted through the critiuqes I got for Bleeders and The Weatherman, and rewrote Bleeders
I made 2 submissions
I received 3 rejections
I have 7 stories currently in slush pile circulation
I took between 5 and 7 days to resubmit a story after a rejection
I made 8 blog posts
Between writing, the blog, and Critters, I took 7 days off

I felt like I was playing catch-up for a lot of this month.  This is probably due to the fact that I had let Critters slip away from me and had to do three critiques in one week (in three days, by the time I did them) in order to get The Weatherman out on time.  I also wanted to finish reading all the critiques from Bleeders before I started getting some for The Weatherman (something I'd been putting off) so there was a lot of sifting through critiques happening all at once.  I also started making plans for my son's second birthday party, so that ate away at some of my time.  I took a vacation too, so I had a few genuine days off.  I'd say this month was passable.  I didn't do as much writing as I wanted to, but I do need to sleep and eat, like all mortals.

My biggest goal for September is I'd like to get the bulk of my novel written.  I'm hoping to spend a lot of October doing research and outlining for another novel which I'll write for NaNoWriMo, and it would be nice not to have to think about two at a time.  My first two novels will be written with very different techniques:  the one I'm working on now I simply started and am letting it unfold as it wishes, and the one in November will be outlined and decided upon prior to setting pen to paper.  At the very least, I'll get an idea of which method works best for me.  I'll aim for 10 blog posts and some networking again.

Happy writing!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Don't Stop Writing

It occurred to me that I haven't blogged about writing in a while, so I thought I'd talk about something that I've realized of late:  taking breaks from writing can spell doom.  For me, at least.  Taking a day off or even two usually isn't too bad, but any time that I take an extended break from from a project, it takes a correspondingly long time to get back into it.

Take my novel, for instance.  I paused it when we took our vacation to Vegas (I'd intended to write on the road, but the fan in my laptop had other plans so the vacation became writing-free.)  Then when I got back I worked on a rewrite of Bleeders and working through the critiques I got for The Weatherman.

I only just restarted the novel last night, and for about 45 minutes it was like pulling teeth.  I sat at my desk, wrote a paragraph, and stared at the screen.  I looked about my office, allowing myself to get distracted by the items on the wall.  I decided that I needed to decide who a minor character was before I could move on, but then I went back to staring at the screen again.  I was tempted to check my email but mentally yelled at myself to focus.

Finally, I mentally yelled at myself again, telling myself to just START.  So I did.  And then, finally, it came back to me.  I regained the momentum that I feared I'd lost.  I only wrote about 600 words (it was already late) but I came to a good stopping point and at least felt that I was back in the story.

This is not the first time something like this has happened to me.  Any time that I restart a project after taking more than three days off, I usually go through some variation of the "stare at the screen without writing or even thinking much of anything" routine.  It can be very tempting to say "this project has lost its flair, I should just start something new."  I seldom give into the temptation, but I can go through a few awkward hours before I reclaim the magic of a piece.

Because I just realized this relationship, I've come to the conclusion that the best way to deal with it is to not pause a project in the first place.  Of course, despite my commitment to make this into my first year as a dedicated writer, and despite my blogging to this effect, I'm not infallible.  I often allow life to distract me and say "I'll just catch up later."  But I'm hoping that this newfound realization--that I can cut off some of the difficult writing moments--might help keep me motivated to do better in the future.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Critters again

Yesterday was the final day to get critiques for my latest story to go through Critters:  The Weatherman.  I mused about the correlation between length and number of critiques last time, although my theory that number of critiques goes up with a shorter length didn't quite pan out.  I received 18 critiques this time, for my 2,300 word story.  (Which was a much more manageable number for me--I actually read them all already and got thank-you's to everybody.  I gave up on thank-you's halfway through, last time.)

I'm sure there are lots of variables in how many critiques a story gets, but I see quality as being a big factor.  I largely got favorable reviews for Bleeders:  people said "I liked it, you just need to work on A, B, and C."  The Weatherman had much larger issues, so perhaps people lost interest before getting to the end. 

I do know where it needs work though.  I confess that I had the desire to grab someone by the shirt and yell "Okay!  I get it already!" to the tenth person to offer me the same piece of criticism.  Of course, this isn't an in-person workshop:  they're not all in the same room repeating one another in an attempt to have something to say.  (I probably should have walked away from the computer at that point.  But I was almost done with the critiques!)

Anyway, with the information I got, I can rewrite it soon--or at least, when I have time.  I paused my novel to rewrite Bleeders and I've been away from it for too long.  The Weatherman rewrite will probably wait until that's done.

This is the first time since I joined Critters that I haven't had a story in the queue.  My backlog is gone--everything else is either already in slush pile circulation or is so raw that I don't need other people to tell me what's wrong with it.  I'd thought about doing a quick second draft of a newer story so I could get it in line, but decided (again) that I'd rather not distract myself from the novel.  Novels are just so different from stories, and the word count is daunting, that I don't need any extra encouragement to stall.

So I won't have anything to send to Critters for another month or three.  I hope they don't forget about me!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Potty Trained by 22 months!

When I was pregnant, I read in a book that many kids don't get out of diapers until age 3 or later.  I was horrified.  "Are you kidding?" I thought.  "You mean to say that kids who are capable of speaking in complete sentences, feeding themselves, and performing many other self-care tasks still use diapers?"  Now, this age probably refers to being Night Trained and not just Day Trained (various online sources say that the average age in the US is about 30 months) but still, my gut reaction had a lasting effect.

I was likely influenced by an article I read years before on Elimination Communication (also known as Natural Infant Hygiene or Infant Potty Training.)  The idea behind EC is that you watch your infant for signs that they need to go, give them "potty opportunities" (or "pottytunities,") and make "cueing sounds" while they go, which they will eventually associate with eliminating (much like Pavlov's dogs.)  I'd thought briefly of doing a little casual ECing with my son when he was new:  I was going to make a cueing noise anytime I noticed him going in hopes that it might stick.  In reality, the only times I noticed him going were when he peed during a diaper change, and I was usually too busy going "Whoa!" and trying to cover him up to remember the cueing sound.  In the end, EC was more work than I wanted to do at that stage in his life.  (I've since heard the theory that children eliminate once the diaper is removed because they instinctively don't want to "defecate where they live," ie, in their clothing--something that makes sense, although it was too late for me to take advantage of this.)

But I digress.  The article on EC also mentioned that in most of the world, children are potty trained much earlier than in the US--around their first birthdays, or definitely before their second.  It pointed out that many potty training problems could be due to the fact that parents wait to train until well after age 2, when kids are notoriously willful anyway.  I've also learned that in the 1950s, 95% of children were potty trained by 18 months--so obviously it's not impossible, nor will learning younger scar a child forever.

I'm not a doctor, a child psychologist, or any kind of certified professional, but these concepts made sense to me.  I therefore decided that I would potty train my child before he turned 2.

Once my son was born, I realized how early this is for most families, and as such there is very little support for people who want to potty train a young toddler.  Fortunately, it turns out that I have many like-minded friends, and my close family has been nothing but supportive (or perhaps they all recognize that I'm stubborn and will do it my way anyway--love you guys!)  From most other directions, however, I've heard a lot of "you don't want to do it before he's ready" or "it won't work if he's too young"--and not the least of these was from the pediatrician.  The pediatrician also recommends using bribes--I mean rewards--as well, something I'm not keen on since I don't want my child to come to expect candy every time he performs a perfectly ordinary bodily function.

It was difficult to find techniques as well.  Fortunately, I did come across the "Naked and $75" tactic from John Rosemond, which gave me a framework on which to build.  It's worth a read for anybody looking for how to approach potty training a child under 2.  Given the lack of resources for parents trying to do this, I will detail our approach below.  Anybody who finds discussion of bodily functions to be TMI, it would be best to stop reading now.

I wanted to start training at 18 months, but I decided it would be wise to wait until after the family vacations were over.  Then he learned to climb out of a crib, so we waited until he was used to having a day bed.  We started when he was about 20 months.

Our Procedure and Process
Technique in Summary
Optional Materials

Our Procedure and Process:

We prepped our son ahead of time by letting him see us (especially his Daddy) use the toilet and by putting him on his potty between diaper changes.  We did this for several months before we began training in earnest.  I'd been hoping that he'd have an "Aha!" moment after accidentally doing it, but no such luck.  He did pee in the potty two or three times during those months, but it wasn't anything he ever tried to repeat.  By the end of our "prep" time, he was no longer sitting on the potty but using it as a stool to stand in front of the toilet like his Daddy.

John Rosemond's technique recommends you set aside a week in which you can remain homebound.  You dress them in underwear, clean up messes without fuss while telling them to use the potty next time (but don't tell them messes are okay because they're not,) and set a "potty bell" to ring every hour or so, at which point you plop them on the potty, walk away, and tell them to let you know when they've done something.

I chose not to follow the "potty bell" advice.  Instead, I simply told my son to tell me when he needed to go and sometimes asked him whether he wanted to try.  I also didn't leave him alone in the bathroom as the novelty of sitting on the potty had long since worn off for him, and I knew that if I left the room he'd just stand up and follow me. 
As Rosemond suggests, we pretty much went cold turkey on the diapers.  My son's attire for the first week (and even sometimes now, when we're at home) consisted of a shirt and a pair of underwear.  On Day 1, when I got him up I put a pair of underwear on him and told him that his goal for the day was to keep his underwear dry.

I knew it was going to be a messy day, but the point of the underwear is to make sure he feels it when he has an accident.  After breakfast we went to the basement to play because the flooring there is laminate, which would be much easier for me to clean than the carpet upstairs.  On the advice of a friend, I took water and several sweet drinks with us, and I continually suggested he take a drink as we played.

It was about 3 hours before he peed (I'd missed the first-pee-of-the-day-right-after-waking-up teaching moment), and he did so in grand style all over the floor.  He then went three more times over the course of the next hour.  Each time it hit the floor, and each time I told him he needed to do that in his toilet next time.

I chose to put him in pullups for his nap because I value naptime (that's when I write) and didn't want him waking up halfway through it because his sheets got all wet.  During the course of the week I learned that he's usually dry while he takes his nap, so pullups aren't really necessary--provided I'm planning on rushing to get him the moment I hear him stir.  Oftentimes, though, I'll leave him in his room for a little while (especially if he didn't sleep for very long, which he did a lot during our first week because he wasn't going out to get much exercise) so on those occasions the pullup was wet.

By the end of Day 1 (9 pairs of underwear, 2 shirts, and 1 bathrug later) he hadn't used the potty but he was recognizing the feeling of needing to go and associating it with the potty.  He would tap his crotch (his nonverbal sign to us that he needed to go) and would run to where the potty was--too late, of course, but we were happy with this progress.

On Day 2, I once again missed the first-pee-of-the-morning and he went nearly four hours without peeing again.  We'd been playing in the basement for a long time and he suddenly got really cranky, so I figured he was holding it and it was starting to get uncomfortable.  I picked him up, told him it was okay to pee, I just wanted him to do it in his toilet, and that I needed to go too.  I put his potty in the basement bathroom (he wanted it in the shower stall,) sat him on it, and I used the toilet next to him.  And what do you know, he went!  I had to help him point himself downward so there was a bit of a mess to clean up, but that didn't stop us from throwing a party.  I poured it into the toilet and let him flush (he LOVES flushing toilets but we only allow him to do so after he uses it) and then we danced and played and just generally got really excited.  We were on our way.

He had one more success later in the day and also told me (in his tap-his-crotch way) that he needed to go many times, although he didn't produce most of those times.  We still went through 5 pairs of underwear but we were all really proud of what he'd accomplished.

On Day 3, we went through 6 pairs of underwear but most of them only had a small wet spot because he stopped himself after feeling it begin.  He had one major success and also went through about a half hour of "tell Mommy he needs to go, sit on the toilet, indicate he wants Mommy to leave the room, and come to get Mommy to show her the few drops in the bottom of the potty."  I figured that was a good sign that he was learning to control the muscles, even though it was a frustrating exercise to do during dinner.

He was pretty fussy and cranky on Day 3 also, and I discovered late in the day that he was cutting a canine tooth.  I considered pausing the process and starting up a few days (or weeks) later, but I didn't want to undo the progress he'd already made.  I knew it would be harder on both of us, but I decided to carry on.

Days 4 and 5 kind of went backwards.  It was probably due in part to the teething and in part because he was testing us.  He was resisting doing what he'd already done well (he would pee on the bathroom floor right next to the toilet but wouldn't sit on it) and my patience was fraying.  He was also throwing tantrums and I was close to tears.  On Day 5 I tried to set a "potty bell" and leave him in the bathroom alone for two minutes each time it rang, but that was when he got most angry and we only did that for a few hours.

For the first two days, I had carried the potty chair into every room we went to, but after his first success in the downstairs shower, that was the only place he wanted to do it.  However, after the drama of Day 5 I moved the potty chair back upstairs, to the bathroom where we used to change his diapers.  In that bathroom, he wanted to use it as a stool to stand at the big toilet.  In this way he had a few successes and a much more cheerful day on Day 6.  I believe this was also the first day he pooped in the toilet (and not his underwear or a pullup.)

He chose not to cooperate again on Days 7 and 8.  I outright lost my temper and turned into Hulk Mama on Day 8.  Part of my frustration was due to the fact that Rosemond had implied that it should only take a week.  It was wrong of me to expect that, I suppose, but I felt like it was an unfulfilled promise--it was the same way I had felt when I still had breastfeeding pain after two weeks even though all the "experts" and books said such pain should be gone by then.  Anyway, the good thing is that when Hulk Mama emerges my husband becomes super reasonable, so he dealt with the mess.  After this, I decided my son and I both needed a day off.  I decided that I would still take my son to the toilet if he told me he needed to go, but if he was in pullups and I didn't have to clean up messes all day, I would be in a much better mood.

One day off turned into three because the dentist told me a spot had opened up so I could have have my wisdom teeth removed on what would've been day 10, and on day 11 I was so groggy from the drugs that I wasn't up to dealing with it.  He had a few successes on those days, I believe... it's hard to remember now.

On Day 12 I was tired but no longer exhausted, so I asked my son whether he wanted to wear a pullup or underwear.  He went to his dresser and handed me a pair of underwear, so we were back on.

During my wisdom-tooth-down-time, I found this video and article on Wendy Sweeney's Booty Camp.  She has a group of toddlers come to her house, feeds them salty snacks and sugary drinks (the salty snacks keep making them thirsty so they want to keep drinking, unlike my attempts to push fluids on my son, which he resisted after a few days anyway,) never asks them if they have to go (she just tells them that if they need to go, they should do it in the potty,) and makes them clean up their own messes.  She doesn't train kids until they're two and a half, but I decided to employ some of her tactics when we resumed.

I no longer asked my son if he needed to use the toilet (I hadn't done much of that anyway) but instead told him it was his responsibility to let me know when he needed to go.  I also told him it was his responsibility to clean up any messes he made.  Whenever he made a mess that day (and beyond) I told him he needed to do that in the toilet next time, got him out of his wet clothes, put a towel in his hand, and showed him where to clean up.  If he didn't want to cooperate, I would sit him in front of me, put my hand on top of his, and "help" him clean up the mess.  When he fussed, I told him "yes, this isn't fun but this is what happens when you miss the toilet because you have to clean up your messes."  I was much calmer this time around, and I'm sure my attitude adjustment helped as much as the new "chore" did.

From that point on, my son did much better.  I stopped counting the days, but after three weeks he'd gone most days without accidents, allowed people other than me to help him, and been able to go at someone else's house.  A few days after that, I got him to use his travel potty (see below) for the first time, which meant we could leave the house without (much) fear of accidents.   As time has progressed, he's just gotten better and better.

We still have a few things to work on.  I'm currently the one removing his clothing, although he's getting better at taking his underwear off (he still can't get them back on though.)  His aim is atrocious, so I have to help with that too--so he isn't independent yet.

Poop is also less far along than I'd like.  He hasn't pooped in his underwear in over a month, but he mostly manages to go in his pullup right after waking up--before I get to him.  That, combined with the fact that he only goes approximately once per day, means he hasn't had as much practice mastering that part.  He does recognize the feeling, although he sometimes wants to poop while standing too.  He also holds it until later in the day, or even the next day if he doesn't have the opportunity to use the pullup, so I'm considering altering his died to be mostly fiber so he won't be able to withhold it.  He has had a handful of successes though, so we'll see if that's necessary.  I'll write a follow-up post once I feel he's consistent.

Potty Training Before Age Two Technique in Summary:

(Including the various bits I would do next time.)
  1. Prepare the child ahead of time by letting them see Mommy and Daddy (and other family) use the toilet, give them opportunities to sit on/stand at the toilet between diaper changes, and tell them during diaper changes that cleanup will be easier once they stop wearing diapers
  2. Set aside an initial week of intensive potty training and expect a few weeks/months of reinforcement after
  3. Give them an opportunity to use the toilet first thing in the morning if you can catch them before they go in their diaper
  4. Dress them in underwear right away, and tell them that 1) it is their goal to keep their underwear dry, 2) it is their responsibility to either use the potty or tell you when they need help using the potty, and 3) it is their responsibility to clean up any messes they make (although I might wait a few days before making them do the clean up.)
  5. Spend as much time as you can away from carpeted surfaces (for your own sanity)
  6. Give them lots of salty snacks (so they'll get thirsty) and keep sugary drinks on hand (which won't quench the thirst so they'll keep drinking.)  This will give them more opportunities to learn, but only use this diet for a day or two, since it will decrease the nutrition they get at normal meals.
  7. When they have an accident, tell them as calmly as you can that they need to do that in the toilet next time.  Don't tell them it's okay, but try not to get upset.  Then clean them and the mess up (or "help" them clean it up.)
  8. When they succeed for the first time, get really excited and be generous with praise.  Gradually taper your praise down to a few encouraging words as they do it more regularly.
  9. Expect them to test you after they've been successful for a while.  It's really frustrating when you both know they could have used the potty, but remember to stay as calm as possible.  Just remind them that they need to do that in the toilet and clean up their own mess.
  10. Use pullups or diapers at bedtime (and naptime if you like.)  Get the kind that change color or have disappearing designs when wet so you can tell when they're no longer necessary.
  11. Continue to use the underwear when going out and about if you can.  A portable potty chair or folding toilet seat reducer can help, but eventually they'll have to learn to use public toilets.  Always carry supplies to deal with messes in the diaper bag.
  12. Remember that it's difficult for your child to learn to control his/her body (we train them from birth to sit in their own messes, after all) and frequently tell them how proud you are of their progress.
A potty chair.
     Rosemond recommends a simple one that doesn't play songs or have designs on it, and I agreed with the idea of keeping it distraction-free.  We purchased the Safety 1st Nature Next 3 in 1 Potty chair.

     It has met our needs and I liked the fact that it's made of environmentally friendly plastic, but I wouldn't buy it again.  The pot is too small to catch pee and poo at the same time, and the pee guard is too low.  It mostly functions as a stool these days.

     2T/3T is the smallest size the stores seem to carry, so it could be difficult to find something for a really small kid.  Special order, I suppose.  Rosemond recommends dressing a boy in "the thinnest cotton underwear you can find" so any messes will travel unimpeded down his legs.  Girls underwear is both thinner and cheaper than boys (which, in some small way, might make up for the much greater amount of money women spend on underwear) so I bought two sets:  panties and briefs.  The idea was that the girl underwear (mostly white, though a few floral prints snuck in) would be training underwear, and he would graduate to the boy underwear once he knew how to keep it dry.  However, it became clear on Day 1 that the girl underwear was too thin.  Sure, some of the mess went down his legs, but most of it actually shot a few inches from his body despite the thin layer of fabric.  We quickly changed him into the boy underwear from that moment forward.  (At least I now have a stock if my next child turns out to be a girl.  If not, well, there's always consignment stores.)
     Rosemond recommends having a girl be naked from the waist down, but after doing this process with my son, I think I would probably put underwear on a girl too.  The number of pairs we went through each day was a good marker of our progress and it taught the lesson of keeping them dry.

     Very, very important.  Expect messes.  Lots of messes.  Try not to get upset, just handle it matter-of-factly like you would teaching any other skill.

Pullups for naps and Bedtime
     We use the Target brand pullups which have small decals of planets on the front which fade when wet--leading to the amusing (at least to us) phrase "we must consult the planets to see if he's peed."

Cleaning supplies
     Towels and Formula 409 (or similar) for hard floors; towels and soapy water or carpet cleaner for carpeted surfaces.

Sugary drinks and salty snacks
     Whatever your child already likes to eat and drink--otherwise you might wind up buying a small bottle of sprite and having nobody drink it.

Did I mention Patience?
     This is especially important when they test you.  I failed here and turned into Hulk Mama a few times, but we just had to take a step back and try again.

Optional Materials:
The Cool Gear Travel Potty

This product is AWESOME!  It folds up like a suitcase (light enough for the toddler to carry, if he's in the mood) and folds out into a portable potty seat.  It can even support up to 80 pounds.

It uses standard gallon zip-top bags and the zipper part stays clean and dry, so you just remove the bag, zip it up, and throw it away after the child is done.  It took my son a few days before willingly using this (I had to force the issue by keeping him outside and pumping him full of liquids until he couldn't hold it anymore) but once he used it once, he happily did so again and again.  I currently take this with me whenever we go out anywhere.  He hasn't used public toilets yet, but he's been willing to use this on the floor of the handicap stall.  I love this thing!

Primo Folding Potty Seat with Handles

I keep this folded up in the diaper bag, in the pocket where my changing mat used to be.  He's sat on it a few times but has yet to use it.  I'm sure it's only a matter of doing it once, just like it was for the travel potty.  I like the idea of being able to reduce the size of public toilets, and of him having a clean surface to sit on.  It's supposed to hold up to 40 pounds, although I'm not sure it's that sturdy.  And since my son likes standing so much, I have a feeling that if I could find a really compact folding stool, it would probably be a better investment.  But we'll see how this one goes.

I started this post last night, and since I began penning it, my son had three accidents.  Perhaps he's trying to make me into a liar or is testing me again, or maybe our friend Murphy just decided to play his hand.  It's also possible that my son isn't feeling well--he has no fever but he's been fussy and he spit up right before bed, which he hasn't done in... months?  Possibly in more than a year.  He did successfully poop in the toilet tonight, though.

More than ever, this proves that the journey is still ongoing.  But... I do consider him to be daytime Potty Trained--and we have two more months in which to refine our technique before he turns 2.  I believe that I met the goal I set for myself before my son's birth.

If you've read this far, you probably either know me personally or are looking for potty training advice.  In either case, thanks, and if it's the latter, Good Luck!