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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Holiday crafts

Crafting at home with my boys hasn't happened much since Zaxxon started preschool.  Kal'El is still a bit too young for most, and Zaxxon gets a lot of that out of his system in school, so we haven't done as much.  Not to mention, with Zaxxon gone three mornings a week, and a regular playgroup meeting once a week, we haven't had as much time to do such things.

I did decide to make a few holiday crafts this year, however.  It helps us get into a festive spirit.  So I decided that Zaxxon was going to make a Thankful Turkey again this year.  He can do much more of it himself this time around.

We wrote all the things he is thankful for on the turkey feathers.  He even wrote a few himself (with me spelling, of course.)

We made another turkey, and he glued real feathers to it

Kal'El can no longer be kept out of the way during craft time, which is another reason we haven't done as many crafts lately.  However, I've discovered that if I tape a coloring sheet to his high chair tray and provide him with a few crayons, he'll occupy himself for a few minutes without eating TOO much wax--and that gives me a few minutes to focus on Zaxxon.

Zaxxon also made some hand print turkeys, which he thoroughly enjoyed

He enjoyed them even more once he started deviating from what I'd suggested he do with them.  We've got some crazy, mutant turkeys going on here

We made another turkey using Zaxxon's feet as the body and hands as feathers. I first did this with the boys last year, and thought it would be fun to make them yearly and see how much the turkeys grew.  So we tried it again.  Zaxxon wanted to trace his own hands this time.

Kal'El got to "make" one too--which means I held his hand down to trace it, and made it for him.  I guess I didn't take many pictures though

When it came to Christmas, Zaxxon has made Christmas gifts of one form or another for the last two years, so I decided to continue this tradition.  This year, I gave him elastic and beads, and he made bracelets.

This was quite an involved project.  I wanted him to make them for his playgroup friends and for family members, so obviously we couldn't do all of them at once.  We averaged one or two per day for a while, then took more than a week off, and then hurried to do at least two a day again right before the holiday.  He enjoyed it at first but definitely got bored.  I should probably pick something less time-consuming next year.

We made wrapping paper by attaching stickers to a big sheet of paper, and then I cut it into small pieces to wrap the bracelets.  Zaxxon absolutely LOVES to write these days, but even so, I was surprised when he decided to label all of the bracelet presents himself--in one session.  He needed me to spell the names, of course, but did every. single. one.

The only other Christmas activity we did was a holiday themed sensory bin.
I dyed macaroni for the first time, using a mixture of rubbing alcohol and food coloring.  (I was inspired by this and did the same, using vinegar and food coloring, so we could eat colored macaroni too.)  Then I added pom poms, bows, ribbon, tiny doves that I'd purchased for some unknown purpose years ago, bells, and some Christmas pop-up figures.  This is the first time I've done an actual theme, and the boys got a big kick out of it.  Kal'El loved it too, and often wants to play with the "beans."  It's too bad he's too young to be left unattended yet, because it will keep him occupied for long(ish) stretches of time.

So that's it for our holiday crafts!

Tot School

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Welcome to the new streamlined look.  I decided I had too many gadgets on the sidebars, so it was time to clean up, and in the process, I thought a new design was in order.  I hope you like it.

This was actually incited by my deciding that I could no longer advertise for Duotrope in my sidebar.  Duotrope, for anyone unfamiliar with the service, is a combination market list, search engine, and submission tracker all rolled into one.  It's got a lot more features than that, and it's awesome.  I use it all the time for my short story submissions, and it has helped me find no end of markets to send my work to.

So why, you might ask, do I no longer feel that I can advertise for them?  Well, there's been a lot of controversy about them for the last month because they just went from being free to being a paid service.  And I don't have a problem with that overall, but their price seems to have jumped pretty steep in my opinion.  I, and I'm not alone in this thinking if the huge number of comments on their facebook page are any indication, feel that they'll be driving away a lot of users--and they'd probably keep more people AND make more money at a lower price point.  And the number of users they have is important, not just to their ability to make money, but to all users, because one of their awesome features is submission statistics for all of the markets they list.  You can see average response times based on self-reported data from other users, which can be helpful in deciding whether a market is a good one to submit to, whether it'll respond too fast or too slow for you, and also in helping you determine if your response has taken too long and a query is in order.  If they drive away a lot of their users, their statistics will suffer.  Duotrope has stated that they don't think the stats will suffer, that most of the users they'll lose will be those who don't keep track of their submissions as regularly, but I don't share their confidence.  Personally, I plan to purchase one month every quarter or so, and just do my submissions in waves.  If I have a clear idea of where a story will go next during my "off" months, I'll still submit it and just report the submission later, but if I need help finding a market, the story will just have to wait around for a few months.  The one good thing is they say your account will still be there, even if you don't subscribe all the time.  So my data will all be waiting for me each time I purchase a month.

But all this isn't necessarily a reason to remove a link to Duotrope.  They provide an awesome service, and I've just said I will continue to use them, just not as often.  The reason I'm no longer linking to them is because they've chosen to not offer any kind of trial period for the service.  Virtually nothing remains free on their site.  Now, my link was worthless to authors who already know about and use Duotrope, because they already know how to get to it.  Having a link pointed potential new users to their site--something I was eager to do until now.  However, I don't see Duotrope attracting new users without a trial period.  Most people aren't going to plunk down money to use a service sight-unseen.  They won't get a chance to play around with the search engine and see how awesome it is, nor will they experience the thrill of trying to interpret the stats.  Without any type of trial, I don't feel comfortable directing people to try them out.  So I took down my link.

I've been rather disappointed with how Duotrope has handled this transition, to be honest.  Their PR was terrible and they just seem to have made a lot of mistakes.  They're new to this business model so I can understand, but it was disappointing.  I'm fully expecting there to be a lot of flux in this first year, which is another reason I don't intend to pay for a full year's subscription.  What I really hope is that this doesn't kill them, because they really do provide an incredible service.  It helped me find the only market that has purchased my work thus far, and they've regularly helped me stay on top of my game.  I want to see them succeed, and I want to see their users remain happy as well.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I've been feeling a strange sense of hope or anticipation over the last few days.  I didn't really expect the new year to have such allure, but my calendar is empty and I've got momentum behind me, making swift progress on my novel for the last week.  I'm thinking of all the writing-related things I'd like to accomplish this next year, and of all the unwritten stories just waiting to be told.  The year is a blank slate.  I can do anything I'd like with it.

In my head, I know that's kinda silly.  As my children readily demonstrate, January 1st is just "tomorrow" for December 31st.  I've never been one to make resolutions.  My husband does not bear the passage of time well, but I've never much cared.  But there's a hope in the air that I'm not sure I've felt before with the passing of the years.  Maybe this will be the year.

I can make it be the year to a certain extent.  I can't make anyone accept my work, but I can get my work into the maximum number of hands in order to increase my odds.  I can step up my output, so I have more work to be considered.  A new year can be empowering, I suppose.  And I suppose that that's what resolutions are all about anyway.  So maybe I shouldn't scoff.

Maybe I should just nose the grindstone.  And hope...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012, 2013, and beyond

Well, hello there.  Welcome back!  Thanks for joining me.

Here we are in a new year, and I am attempting to get back into this blog.  The two aren't necessarily related, I've just decided it's time.  And with the new year, what a better subject than to analyze the last year and set goals for the new one.

Here are some numbers for 2012:

  • Days on which I wrote:  366.  That's right, leap year, and I wrote on every one.  Even Christmas.
  • Submissions:  40
  • Acceptances:  0
  • Rejections:  42
  • Markets that never responded:  2
  • Critiques:  Hah!
  • Blog posts:  66
This whole year sort of petered out starting in September.  The only thing I've really managed to accomplish is to keep writing/revising every single day.  I'd been hoping to finish revising my novel this year, but I didn't.  I'm through 25 of 38 chapters.  I'd originally wanted to write and submit new short stories every month, but that goal died pretty early on when I realized how complicated that would be when also working on a novel. I wanted to get my children's Christmas book queried/submitted, and apart from a GUTGAA pitch that went nowhere, I did no other work on it.  I wrote the first draft of a children's picture book earlier this year and had been hoping to query/submit it too, but haven't done so.  My short story submissions abruptly stopped in September, and at the moment only four of my twelve "submission ready" stories are under consideration.

Which isn't to say that life hasn't been busy.  I've been working on designing a mobile app, though that, too, has stalled a bit.  I'm raising two magnificent boys and am always running to keep up with them.  I've found an awesome playgroup to take the boys to, which has made me much happier with my social life as a Mama.  I just haven't been able to balance things very well lately.

Enter my goals for 2013.  I don't have too many specific goals yet, I just know that I want to step up my game, both with writing and in life.  And I really, REALLY want to see something happen with my few completed kids' books this year.  So those are the goals that are really important.

  • Finish revising my novel within three months
  • Submit my children's Christmas book
  • Submit my picture book
  • Start...something new.  Whether it's a focus on stories or beginning a new novel, I'm not sure yet.  Perhaps some of both.  I'll hammer that out when I get closer.
  • Get certain aspects of my personal life organized again, too

For the last few weeks, my revising has gone at a really good clip.  It could just be that I'm working on chapters that haven't needed as much work, but I'm feeling the momentum again.  That's why I'm thinking I could realistically finish up revisions in the next three months.  That would require basically a pace of one chapter per week, with just one extra squeezed in.  I'd been considering taking a month off from the novel and focusing on a few short stories, but now I'm not so sure.  I started considering that before I got momentum going again, so I'm not sure if I want to stop right now.  In either case, if I keep plowing through I hope to finish my novel by the end of March.  If I take a month off, I hope to finish it by the end of April.  And then, perhaps, I can actually make something happen with it this year.

2013, I think, will be the year of the book.  Because I want to get my books (of all stripes) into the hands of agents.  I'll keep busy with other projects once I have that going, but I really need to take more steps towards publication.

Happy New Year to anyone still checking in.  How was your holiday?  Are you gearing up for a productive year ahead?