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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Raining Rejections

Upon returning from the magical world of Disney, I logged back into my email and found four rejections waiting for me.  That's a third of my supply of stories, all dumped back to me during the same week.  Considering that I'm behind on many things right now and I've been sick since getting back, I think it's going to take me a while before I get them back out.  Ugh.

At least one of them was a nice rejection:  I received another Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future Contest!  The story in question had been with them for a l-o-n-g time and I'd been beginning to get my hopes up.  It's not as exciting as a semi-finalist or finalist would have been, but at least it's something!

Woohoo for me.  Now if only I can get all these stories back out before the next wave hits me.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Countdown to the Mouse

We did some crafts in preparation for our big Disney World vacation this summer.  Ordinarly, I had not planned to go while my kids were so young, but since my inlaws were offering accomodations...

We began our countdown by creating a visual calendar that Zaxxon could watch getting shorter.  We reused a paper chain that has been floating around the house since Christmas, cut it down to the remaining number of days before our vacation, and added a Mickey Mouse at the top.

Cutting out Mickey

Each day, he got to tear off one link and watch the chain get shorter.  He knew that once there were no links left we would go visit where Mickey lives.

I also, often at the last minute and sometimes on a whim, wrote activities on the chain links so we would have something to do to prepare for the vacation.

22 days out:  Watch Peter Pan
     I hadn't watched this as an adult before.  Wow.  Tinkerbell is a vindictive little snot.

21 days out:  Decorate his suitcase
My inlaws gave this to him for Christmas, and it is a great combination of toy and useable suitcase.  It's durable enough that a child can climb on it and ride it through the airport, and it locks so said child cannot spill his toys all over the concourse.  This was his carry-on, and probably will be for years to come.  (It's a Trunki by Melissa and Doug, if anyone cares.)

20 days out:  Look at a map of where Mickey lives.  We wound up looking through the beginning of a kiddie Disney tour book, too

19 days out:  No activity.  Forgot to even tear off a link until the next morning.

18 days out:  Watch Mama and Dada's videos of the last time they went to where Mickey lives.  He got a little bored, but got excited about some parts

17 days out:  Finish watching Mama and Dada's videos.  Hubby takes a lot of video footage, so it took a while to fast-forward through all of it

16 days out:  Eat a Mickey Mouse pancake

15 days out:  Watch Snow White

14 days out:  Make Mickey Mouse ears
This idea was in his kiddie Disney tour book.  It's just a headband with ears, simple enough!

13 days out:  Eat another Mickey Mouse pancake.  These are pretty standard in our house

12 days out:  Look at Mama's pictures of where Mickey Lives.  This time we just looked at still pictures of our last Disney vacation (before children.)  He was starting to recognize some of the rides and was getting excited about them

11 days out:  Look at videos of Animal Kingdom.
     We've told him this one is the zoo near where Mickey lives.

10 days out:  Watch fireworks!
     I wanted a firework dry run so we would know if it was worth it to keep him up/out to see the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.  In years past, he really hasn't liked fireworks.  We didn't get as close as I would have liked for my experiment--in fact, waiting for them to start was really hard for him since we weren't in a good place to run around.  My conclusion, based more on the illegal fireworks being shot off near us than the official show, is that he'll be nervous but ought to do okay.

9 days out:  Finish watching Animal Kingdom video

8 days out:  Library Day.  Pick books for the trip
     I particularly like "The Noisy Airplane Ride" by Mike Downs.  It's great for preparing a child for what they might experience during a flight.  It's also great for any kids who are fascinated with airplanes (and Zaxxon's been picking them out in the sky, even ones that are only tiny dots, since he was younger than two.)

7 days out:  no activity.  Kal'El took the link off this day--though we hadn't planned it that way...

6 days out:  Pack your clothes!
     I had Zaxxon pick the clothes he wanted to bring--after requesting that he choose bright colors (so we could find him more easily among a crowd.)  I only reversed one of his decisions.  Then he helped put everything in his suitcase later on.  He wanted to pack everything--toys, books, his toothbrush--but we informed him that we still needed all that stuff until the day before

5 days out:  no activity

4 days out:  Look through the rest of the Mickey book

3 days out:  Bake cookies to take on the airplane
So close now!!!!!

2 days out:  Eat a Mickey Mouse pancake and watch an Epcot video
     Excitement level is getting high in the house (with the corresponding crash in behavior.)  We're mostly packed and all looking forward to the big trip!

1 day out:  Pick which toys to bring and watch your favorite Disney movie while Mama and Dada finish packing

Everybody's wearing mouse ears.  It's time to go!!!!!

(And guess what--we're back already.  I don't post about this kind of thing until it's over.  More on the actual vacation at another time)

Tot School

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Research, Mad Research

I've reached a point in revising the novel that is requiring a lot of research.  Stuff that I could have done during the first draft, but didn't because I knew it would slow me significantly and I didn't want to lose my momentum.  Some of it is integral, and some of it is just to make the background or minor interactions be accurate.  The rank of a minor character in the military, for example, or the layout and ambiance of a location.  This is a major cause of slowdowns in my revising.  When I spend a large chunk of my writing time doing research, I don't progress very far in the manuscript.

I'm getting the opportunity to do some major, hands-on research very soon, though, and I'm uber excited.  I'll blog more when I get the chance, but I'll just say that I've been looking forward to this for a while.  It should be fun!

How about you?  Do you enjoy your research, or does it seem like a necessary evil?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lose Weight with one weird tip - hrm...

Did you ever see these internet ads?  "Lose Weight with this one weird tip," "Area Mom discovers weird weightloss tip that really works," etc.  I used to see them all the time, although they've disappeared lately.  Now, I ignore 99% of internet ads.  If I see them, I usually just scoff at their advertisements and move on.  So I knew before clicking that those ads would be some sort of scam, but as I'd been hoping to lose the last few baby pounds, I was curious whether there were any nuggets to glean from the excrement.

There weren't.  In fact, I sort of wish I'd saved the webpage, just to be able to show my children someday when teaching them how to determine if a website is reliable.  Does it claim to be written by an impartial expert without giving any credentials about the author?  Does it provide a glowing review without a single negative?  Does it pretend to offer a scientific experiment that turns out to be one self-reported case study?  Does it fail to offer explanations for why "scientific" choices were made?  Does it claim larger-than-life results?  Do all links within the website point back to itself?  Is there a pop-up alert when you navigate away from the page, asking if you really want to do that and turn down such an amazing offer?  Yes to all?  Well, hmm.....................

The main ingredient in the diet pills in question (and it took a little reading before I even got to the part where I learned that this "diet" involved several "natural" supplements) sounded familiar to me, so I googled it independently.  Know what the ingredient was?

The pregnancy hormone.

Yes, some wackos decided that hormones that prepare a woman's body to nurture a fetus for nine months would somehow make people lose weight.  Considering that women gain a heck of a lot of weight during pregnancy, the logic here baffles me.  (I'd also like to know how they extract this hormone in order to put it in pills.  After all, home pregnancy tests are designed to react to that hormone, and we all know what women have to do to those little sticks...)

The article I was reading went on to say that claims that the hormone would cause weightloss were scientifically unfounded and selling it was actually illegal (or perhaps they were working on making it illegal--I can't remember the details, this was some time ago.)  I was therefore surprised that I kept encountering these ads on a well-respected news website.

The ads did disappear after a time, and I don't know why.  Unfortunately due to the nature of cookies and web-crawlers, the ads on my blog will probably now include this one, if it still exists.  Don't click through if it does--unless you'd like a laugh.

I'm happy to report that, without any help from diet scams, I have met my goal of attaining pre-pregnancy weight, and have maintained it for a few months now.  And I'm not just talking pre-Kal'El weight, which was about ten pounds higher than pre-Zaxxon weight.  No, I've reached pre-Zaxxon weight.  And I am thankful.  Babies have permanently changed my abdomen, but at least I'm no longer carrying around the extra pounds.  And I'm more than happy to share my "one weird tip," absolutely free of charge.


I decided, more for overall health and not with the intention of using it to lose weight, that I needed to be more hydrated.  Instead of trying to carry water around with me wherever I went, I just decided to use the bathroom as a mental stop.  After using the bathroom, I grab the cup I keep in there, fill it up, and down it.  It didn't take long for this to become habit, and the last ten pregnancy pounds slid off pretty quickly.  I believe this was partially because my stomach was fuller before meals, so I ate less.  Whether it helped in other ways, I can't say, but I can say that it worked.   I can also say that I've gotten slightly healthier in other regards, most notably with skin.  I used to get chronic eczema on my hands, and while I still get flare-ups, they are far less common now.  There have been a few other benefits as well, but I don't feel I need to delve into those topics on this blog.

Me, ten weeks with Zaxxon, before I started to show
Me, immediately after Zaxxon
Me, about ten weeks with Kal'El
Yes, it's not a huge difference, but lots of pants still didn't fit.
Me, immediately after Kal'El
Me, now.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fast and Slow and Fast again

The pace of my revising really ebbs and flows.  I recently pushed through some long chapters pretty fast, and now I'm hung up and crawling again.  I think it may be due to the fact that I just finished several active chapters, and now I'm on one that's more introspective.  Without the action propelling me along, I'm going slower.

This could mean that I need to trim.  It could also mean that I write strong action that needs less work.  It could mean that the introspective sections only seem longer because their pace isn't as fast, or because I spend more time analyzing them.  It probably means a mix of all three.

In any case, I'm still pushing through despite being quite busy and distractable of late.  But that's just the name of the game.

How about you?  Are there parts of your writing that needs more or less work than others?  What do you feel you write most strongly?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kiddie Crafts - random and letter K

Our crafts have been incredibly random and haphazard as of late.  Here, Zaxxon made a birthday card for a friend.
We read the story of Henny Penny and did a few crafts to go along with it.  Here, he paints her.

Then he put the rest of her together

His hands are the wings, see?

His first connect-the-dots.  This formed a picture of Turkey Lurkey.  He did pretty well, considering he'd never done it before.  He needed help with numbers past twelve.

We worked on the letter "K," which is one he doesn't recognize as readily yet.  He's really getting good at using scissors.

Pasting the K pictures onto the page.  Notice the koala watching him.  he didn't get at all bored this time around (I've often tried to find creative ways to keep him going on these letter projects in the past.)  I wonder if it's just been so long since we did one that it was new again, or if he's passed some sort of developmental milestone.  Either way, it was nice.

For Father's Day, I got a shirt for hubby that says "World's Best Dad, Hands Down" and has space to put children's handprints.  We were a little late in getting it done, but we're very pleased with the end result.

Zaxxon was very good while doing this, holding good on his promise to wait for my guidance and not rush how he thought the handprints should go (I was worried about a dozen partial handprints on the shirt and paint all over the kitchen, because he really doesn't have much patience for projects that he can't dive into immediately.)  But he did great.

Kal'El did a lot better than expected, too.  Hubby held him for me while I manipulated his hands (and Zaxxon took pictures), and he did great.  I think he liked the way the paint felt, and I was impressed that he held his hands open and didn't smear his handprints.  Overall, this turned out great.

It's Christmas in July!  My mother-in-law just retired from teaching elementary school, and she has been going through all of the supplies she brought home.  She brought over a big box of craft supplies and asked me what I wanted for Zaxxon/both boys.  I made some selections, and she took the rest to give to other teacher friends.  One of the items I took was a collection of Christmas stamps.

Well, Zaxxon saw the stamps on the breakfast bar and started begging for ink to use them with.  I didn't really want to break out Christmas supplies, but eventually I decided it didn't matter and brought him paper and ink.  And he LOVED it!

This project came as a legacy from Zaxxon's Grammy as well.  She even had the pieces pre-cut.  It was appropriately timed because of Independence Day, so we made this red, white, and blue star.

Tot School

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Just a note

I think my pace for my novel is quickening just a little bit.  When I look at my most recent work, I do seem to be averaging slightly better than one chapter per week, as I'd been doing originally.  I don't know whether this is because I'm getting better at revisions, better at budgeting my time, or if I'm simply past the parts that needed the most work.

Well, I'm probably not past the parts that need the most work.  More likely between them.  But I can enjoy this section of the novel, no matter what the reasoning.

I must say that I love the internet.  If I couldn't look up most subjects by just typing a few words or couldn't peek down at certain geographical locales from satellite photos, I don't know how I would be able to write.  It would be a lot slower, or would involve making up a lot more (and hoping I'd gotten the little details right.) 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

June Stat Check

During the month of June, I wrote/edited on all 30 days
I edited my novel, working on chapters 6-11 (I started keeping track of this at the beginning of the month)
I made 4 submissions
I received 4 rejections
I took between 0 and 9 days to get a story back out after a rejection
I have 12 stories in slush pile circulation
I made 7 blog posts
I took no days off

Making steady progress on the novel, still averaging about a chapter per week--or perhaps slightly better.  There's not much to discuss here, truth be told.  That's part of why I haven't been blogging about writing as often.  True, nothing much has excited me and sent me off in new directions, but I can see and feel progress every day, so that makes me happy.  And I'm getting to some of the juicy bits, too, so it's fun.