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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Maternity Leave

All right, so possible complications keep cropping up and then fading, but it's looking increasingly likely that this baby will need to arrive sooner rather than later.  As such, I thought I would outline the guidelines I'm giving myself for a maternity leave.
  • On the day I go into labor, the counter on my right sidebar will freeze (though I may not actually make that happen until several days/weeks after.)  I don't feel like it should reset to zero for something as big as having a baby.
  • For the first three months of the baby's life, I will not require myself to write.  This doesn't mean I won't write--if I feel the desire and have/make the time, I certainly won't stop myself--but I'm not going to feel bad if nothing happens.  I will make this an actual three months, not 90 days.  The final day will be my child's 3 month birthday.
  • I will attempt to keep stories in submission circulation, but I won't beat myself up if that doesn't happen either.
  • Any days on which I actually do some writing will get added to the counter (either progressively or at the end of my leave, depending on how I feel.)  For example, if I freeze the counter at 275 days and I write on 20 days during my leave, it will start up again at 295 days.
  • Once my three months are up, I will turn the counter back on.  If, at that time, I fail to do at least something every day, it will reset to zero.
  • I reserve the right to extend the period of my leave as the end approaches if I feel it is necessary, but if so I will make that decision before it is over, not after failing to write for a week.  I'm hoping the personal integrity that has kept me going these last eight months will bring me back without an extension though.
So there you go, my own personal maternity leave schedule.  We'll see how it goes.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Baby Black Hole

Well, as you can see on the left sidebar, we have less than three weeks remaining before my due date and thoughts of BABY are taking over.  My 30th birthday passed without much of a ripple because I've been so focused on preparing for our expanding family--well, that and I haven't told anybody anything that I want.  I probably am hard to shop for.  There just isn't that much that I want--apart from collecting dragons and books, I don't really like accumulating too much stuff, and nobody in my family can give me a successful VBAC or convince a publisher to buy my book--or even provide me with the time to edit the book first.  I know, I'm a pain that way.  Anyway, I've been so distracted I haven't even put much thought into mortality or youth versus aging or any of the things big milestone birthdays are notorious for making people ponder.  I've just been too preoccupied.

I am very much in Full-On Nesting Mode.  I know this because my writing output has dwindled to just working on the screenplay with hubby--no writing, rewriting, or editing of my own work during naptime or at night--and the voice inside my head that usually screams at me for being unproductive has been strangely silent.  I've all but forgotten about my goals to get at least two more stories submitted before baby's birth, and yet I don't feel bothered by that.  Mommy instincts are taking over my life.

There's been another reason for my lack of writing and online activity lately--at least for the last week.  My blood pressure has started going up which, considering that I got full-blown preeclampsia with my son and they had to deliver him two weeks early, could be problematic.  So I've been told to rest and put my feet up as much as possible.  Now, when you remember that I stay home with my active two-year-old during the day, this means that my only real chances to do so are during his naps and after he goes to bed--which is traditionally when I sit at my desk and write.  I've spent much of this time in my recliner instead, which means I haven't been at my computer much.  Writing, email, this blog, facebook--even reading Critters critiques--have all fallen on the backburner.  On the other hand, I've caught up on a huge stack of Parents magazines I thought I would never get through.

I have, however, decided that enough is enough.  I have a laptop and wifi, so there's no reason I can't keep up with writing from the recliner.  It's not comfortable for as long, but my lack of productivity ought to end--or at least be reduced.

My relationship with "enforced rest" is tenuous at best anyway.  I very much resented it when I was pregnant with my son, particularly since I still had a lot to do when they told me to take it easy.  I was not a very cooperative patient that time.  But mostly I resented the loss of control having a doctor tell me to reduce activity--and having my body stop behaving itself--implied.  I like to be in control.

I'm doing a lot better this time, partly because I don't want a repeat of what happened to my body last time and partly because there's a lot less to do.  And because this child is properly Head Down, which means my stress level is a lot less.  I'm still running errands but trying to limit their duration (no across-town marathons to see how many stops we can make in one day) and I'm still working on nesting, but in shorter bursts interspersed with periods of vegetating my my chair.  I'm also doing my utmost to keep my sodium intake low--and boy, unless you've tried it, you have no idea how difficult it is.  There's salt in EVERYTHING!!!  After I get home from the hospital, I intend to celebrate with a big plate of nachos!

The combination of low sodium, a million glasses of water a day, and multiple rest periods throughout the day hasn't brought my blood pressure down to normal, but it's remained only slightly elevated so my hopes are high that I won't be asked to restrict activity even more--or to deliver the baby early.  I've got another appointment tomorrow, and we'll see then whether they concur.

So that's what I've been up to for the past two weeks.  I hope my writing buddies won't cease stopping by when I say that this blog will probably take a major turn towards all things baby-and-child-related for a while.  If and when I have things to say on writing, along with occasional updates on what little I manage to get done (I intend to take a maternity leave from writing, and I'll detail what my "rules" for it are in another post soon--hopefully) then I will still post about such matters.  But the fact is that babies are time-consuming and all-encompassing, so that's probably most of what you'll be getting.

I hope my next absence won't be as long.  Best of luck in your own endeavors!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Critters and Rewrites and Screenplays, Oh My

I've got another story going out to Critters today--bang, bang, bang, they're really piling up on each other.  I'm nowhere near finished reading the critiques I got last time (the stopped trickling in just last week.)  I got 21 critiques for the last story.  I knew it felt rough but wasn't sure why, and so far people have agreed with my "rough" assessment.  I have, at least, gotten a few good assessments to help me see what needs work.  And it definitely needs work.  This one will require another major rewrite.

The one going out today I'm pretty excited about.  I like the premise and the story as it stands, so I'm hoping people will mainly provide simple ways to make it better.  Even if I determine, based on critiques, that it needs a lot of work, I'll probably work on this one before beginning a major rewrite of the previous one, just because I'm a lot more enthused about it and would like to get it submitted before baby's arrival.  We're at a month as of yesterday, so I'm really starting to feel the crunch.

Hubby and I are continuing to make good headway on our screenplay, which is also good considering the time crunch we're now under.  That, analyzing critiques, and revising have comprised the bulk of my writing projects these days.  What's a little frightening is the fact that I haven't really come up with many new story ideas recently.  I did a fast spate of new stories shortly after finishing the novel, but haven't had any "wow, that's an awesome idea" thoughts in a while.  I guess, perhaps, that means it's time to start the first rewrite of the novel, where I can let story ideas pile up again.

Actually, I did have one story idea.  It wasn't so much a new idea as a new thought on something that I'd been mulling over for a while, and I stupidly didn't write it down.  I distinctly remember being in the dark bathroom getting ready for bed, thinking "huh, that's a neat idea, I'm sure I'll remember it tomorrow," and doing nothing about it that night.  And now nothing.  Ppbth.  Lesson learned.  Never, EVER put off writing the idea down.  (Usually I do, but for some reason....)  Alas.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Writing Retreat

Every spring, we take a vacation up to our timeshare in Avon (just west of Vail.)  For hubby and I, it has become a writing retreat.  We don't get as much done as in years' past, but we still utilize naptime and enjoy the creative time free from distractions.

Unfortunately, this year we were pretty idle by necessity instead of by choice.  The day before we left, I came down with a cold.  The first two days of our trip were pretty run-of-the-mill cold-wise, and we managed short walks and a trip to the playground.  The third day I woke up feeling better, but then the virus decided to move into my lungs.  This is not uncommon, by any means.  I have asthma, and colds frequently start bothering my lungs during the latter half of their duration.  This time, however, it got pretty bad.  I didn't feel like the usual dose of my inhaler was restoring proper lung capacity and that, coupled with congestion that got so bad I could hardly swallow because no air pressure could be released through my nose, and I was pretty miserable.  That night I got almost no sleep:  I just tossed and turned while trying to breath and trying not to worry about how bad I felt, how tired I would be the next day, and whether the baby was getting enough oxygen.

The next day I called my OB, party because I was worried about my breathing and partly because I wanted to know what drugs I could take to alleviate my symptoms.  As I'd feared, the doctor was worried about whether the baby was getting enough oxygen (especially since I was at high altitude and the air is already thinner) so she sent me to the local Urgent Care.  There, they diagnosed me with bronchitis.

As you can probably imagine, this meant we didn't get to do much else on our vacation.  We drove to places we would normally walk to and didn't go out much until later in the week, when the drugs I was taking finally made me feel human again.  It was disappointing not to feel well on vacation, but it was, at least, nice that we hadn't planned much big stuff anyway.  At least we weren't trying to go theme-park-hopping in Orlando or anything.  Doubly so, as our son came down with the cold as well and his fever even spiked to 101.8 once.  And now that we're home, hubby is coming down with it.  Ick.  I really hope this is the last illness any of us gets before baby arrives.  And that nobody gets sick during baby's first few months--illnesses during that young, tiny, fragile time are pretty scary.

On the plus side, though, hubby and I made a lot of progress on our collaborative screenplay during the week, and we each made some progress on our own projects, too.  I got one more story out into circulation, which brings my submitted story total to 8.  We didn't lose our vacation, we just had to take it really light.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Zoom Zoom" Bed!!!

We made our son a racecar bed for his Big Boy Bed!

This was a long, involved project that took almost a month.  At first we were going to buy a toddler racecar bed, but when we saw how much they cost, we figured that if we were going to spend that much, we ought to get a bed that will last past age 4.  We didn't really like the designs on the prefabricated racecar beds though, but we did like the result of
this set of woodworking plans.  We wouldn't have been able to do it totally on our own, but that's what dads are for!  Day 1 was spent at my parents' house starting to get the pieces cut using my dad's vast array of tools.
Of course, our son got to participate a little.
We fought with an old band saw of my grandfather's for a while, but the blade kept coming off.  Dad thinks something might have been wrong with the tension settings.  It wasn't big enough for the large pieces anyway, so once we decided to forget it and just use the saber saw, we were able to get moving.
Day 1 turned out to be a lot more cutting (of paper,) tracing, and transferring than we (well, maybe just I) had anticipated, but Dad volunteered to keep cutting the pieces through the week and bring them to our house.  Whilst I was busy doing a lot of tracing and transferring (for which my back was not happy with me) hubby got busy sanding the pieces we had already done.

My parents, as promised, continued to work on cutting the wood.  They even got the band saw working (with the addition of a new blade and more adjustments.)  Mom even took a hand at it!

After they delivered the wood, hubby and I spent many evenings in the garage sanding, sanding, sanding.  Our son even "helped" a little!  Mostly, though, he just played in my car like he did when we were putting up cabinets.  ...which was all to the good, because it provided him with a sound barrier.  He refused to wear earplugs for more than 30 seconds.

I also constructed the bed's wheels, because that's what the bed sits on, and we figured (at Dad's suggestion) that they would be easier to sand as one piece--that way their circular surface would be uniform.

Then we had a party!  A Bed Construction party, to be exact.  My parents, hubby's parents, and hubby's sister joined us.  We finished up the sanding of the pieces that had just arrived...

...and got busy constructing the darn thing!

Our son, once again, helped out a bit.  It was nice to have so many people around, too.  Once the sanding was done, there wasn't room around the bed for more than 4 people (2 at times) so everybody else got to watch play with the boy.

Looks like a car!

Making the bookshelf headboard--the car's spoiler.

Pretty cool!

We found the plans to be pretty easy to follow, and Dad said he found only one measurement to be a tiny bit off. We also had a difference of opinion about the air scoop (the pieces that stick out just in front of the rear wheels) but either way of constructing them would've worked, and we're very happy with the result.

We primed throughout the week and then let our son help with the paint the next weekend.  He didn't last very long, though--I think he didn't like not being allowed to dip the paintbrush in the can by himself (we had to cut him off after he dipped it all the way down to his hand) or being told where to paint.  So mostly it was hubby and I while he ran around the
driveway or rode his trike around (getting the occasional paint footprint on the cement.)

After the second coat it was just detail work!

We've decided to add two design embellishments (neither of which is complete yet.)  The first is a gas cap.  I painted the spot where gas goes in, and we're going to paint a small (maybe 3"x4") rectangle of wood the same color as the car and attach it with hinges. 
The second is headlights.  I went by a local bike shop, Campus Cycles, to see whether they carried loose white and yellow reflectors that I could use for headlights.  To my surprise, they pulled out a big bin full of reflectors (some loose, some still in bags) and told me I could have as many as I wanted!  (Can't beat that price!) 
I grabbed a few, though we have yet to attach them.
Our son helped to carry it inside.

We waited until a Friday to set it up in his room, figuring that at least hubby didn't have to work the next day if our son had a rough night.  Turns out we needn't have worried.  He got very excited as we moved it into his room and set it up.  We had to completely rearrange his room, but that didn't seem to bother him.

We were a little surprised at how much space the mattress had--we had expected it to fit more snugly--but once the bedding was in place it filled up most of the space.

After putting him to bed (with the reminder that he had to stay in bed until he fell asleep and slept through the night, and that he had to stay in his room until we came to get him the next morning) he was very quiet for about three minutes, and then he started babbling to himself, which he does before falling asleep every night.  He fell asleep in about the normal amount of time, too.  In fact, he hasn't woken up crying or freaked out about it at all, for either naps or bedtime, and we've had him in it for a little more than a week now.

Are we cool parents, or what?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

April Stat Check

During the month of April, I wrote on all 30 days!
I made some readability revisions to my Christmas story, made first or second revisions on three other stories, and wrote the first 25 pages of an animated screenplay with hubby
I made 1 submission
I received 1 rejection
It took me 17 days to resubmit a story after receiving a rejection (boo)
I submitted two stories to Critters
I critiqued 13 stories for Critters (and got an MPC!)
I received Critters critiques for one story, and am halfway through a week of getting them for a second story
I have 7 stories currently in slush pile circulation
I made 11 blog posts
I took no days off

This was a pretty good month.  I occasionally felt that revisions took longer than they ought to have, and due to garden/yard and child obligations I didn't always get as early of a start as I would have liked, but I'm mostly satisfied with my progress.  The only thing is I need to not let myself wait so long when it comes to resubmissions--after all, nobody's going to buy a story that isn't submitted anywhere!  Of course, part of why I didn't get the story resubmitted (and why I didn't get as much writing/revising done as I would have liked, not to mention why I was sleep-deprived for much of April) was because I was frantically working on critiques.  I learned that I'm unlikely to work towards an MPC again unless I find myself under another major deadline (which the baby is providing this time.)  Otherwise it just isn't necessary, most of the time, to get stories critiqued that quickly.  Even if I get another backlog, I could most likely allow critiques to filter in while I work on a novel.

For May, my goal is to get another three (or more) stories into submission circulation.  I'm facing my final productive month before baby arrives, and I'd like to tie up as many story "loose ends" as I can before then.  I intend to give myself a maternity leave of sorts, though I may try to read and start revising my novel during that time, but after that I have no idea what will happen.  I want as much of my material out in the world as I can get before life dramatically changes again.