cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “time management”

Tis the Month of Maying


April brought showers, daffodils, moose eating tulips (again), a trip to see the First Folio, unprecedented warm temperatures, and a month of poetry. Now we are on to May.

May–yes, may I just say that May makes me tired, and we are barely five days into the month. As I write this it’s 3:30 a.m., about two hours too early to be so wide awake. My head is spinning with how much I need to do this month. May I just stop a moment and reflect what the month of May involves…

  • Complete the Victorian Era unit with my seniors, yet leave enough time for Modern and Post-Modern by end of this month
  • Post progress grades by 3 pm Thursday–today!
  • Create my unit exam
  • Figure out my second semester final
  • Create a meaningful series of activities for my AP students for the rest of the month now that they have taken their exam and are basically done with the class, yet still need to attend. Did someone say film appreciation unit?
  • Speak at the annual Women’s Tea talking about getting a “piece of quiet” which is based on my essay in Chicken Soup for the Multi-tasking Mom’s Soul (I should be nervous but I’m too worn out to be nervous–wait it’s next week? I am nervous)

(Survivor of the nefarious Tulip Moose)
Just thinking about my “get’r done” list makes me tired enough to maybe go back to sleep. May I, might I, may I get it done because all this is going through my head:

Tis is the month of maying:

  1. May I get my gradebook straightened out
  2. May I get my lesson plans written up
  3. May I win against my everlasting match with yard maintenance (Weeds 3, Cricket 1)
  4. May I get caught up on my book reviews
  5. May I get a month of blog posts going
  6. May I send off yet another volley of queries to editors and agents
  7. May I actually find time to pack for my escape weekend–that’s right, I’m taking two personal days and making a four day getaway. By doing so I may survive the outbreak of senioritis at our school.

May I just go back to sleep so that I’m not a zombie impersonating an English teacher… 

Cricket’s Hamlet Adventure: Day Five–it’s reigning wonder and frightening


Aah–midpoint. Two more days to go and I graduate from Hamlet school. I just gotta polish up my project and present it and practice our group scene and perform it. The wonder (at least part of it) and the frightening is due to the film crew returning on Friday to film our presentations and performances. Forsooth!  

I believe this is the Supreme Court building which is in the neighborhood of the Folger Library

 One of the lesson cappers we use is “I observed…” For example:

  • I observed there are some shoes that definitely cannot be worn in the rain
  • And I observed when necessity calls for walking barefoot in the rain it’s lovely that DC neighborhood sidewalks are primarily brick

I finally managed to get into the LoC reading room.My Intention was to locate my Marvin Composes a Tea Highlights anthology and snap a photo of it; however, NO photographs are allowed in the RR. I was content looking at my LoC call number on the screen with the LoC RR in the background.

The LoC bookstore actually had more people in it than the RR. I could have spent HOURS deciding whst to buy. Alas, I had to hurry and get back to Folgering since I snuck away on my lunch break. I snagged a few buttons, yet wished for more time and a larger suitcase. Really, really cool stuff beckoned from the shelves. Okay-I’ve just talked myself into going back. Good thing I have leftovers from dinner because I will be skipping lunch again.

All my adventuring after hours has caught up to me and I am determined to go to bed before midnight tonight. I even slept in until 8 am today! *gasp*

“Perchance to sleep, to dream–ay there’s the rub.”            

A Room Of My Own or a Writer In Woolf’s Clothing


image: amazon.com

While I’m not particularly a fan of Virginia Woolf, I do appreciate her unspoken contributions to women and writing. She once penned an essay discussing the need to have a room to create in, the desire to close out the responsibilities of mother and wife in order to be alone with self and creating. Rather a revolutionary idea in her time.
Though not so confined to the stove of domesticity these days, as a woman and a wife, mother, teacher, library trustee, GiGi–assorted other hat wearer, I too crave a room of my own. Carving out a space for personal creative endeavors has had its own set of challenges involving space and guilt.
We’ve tended on the small side of houses and squeezing out an area for a desk meant getting creative to find a creative corner. A door placed on top of filing cabinets worked for a time, but definitely cramped the bedroom and so we moved it out to the living room.  Still squishy. Ugly to boot.

When I switched to laptops, I got rid of the desk arrangement and I splurged, buying a loveseat the color of eggplant. I eked out a coveted thinking space in the bedroom, approximating nanoseconds of creative corner. The kids loved the idea that my office was purple.
Now, as an empty nester, I’ve commandeered one of the back bedrooms, I forget which progeny actually had it since they switched around so much. None of them can complain I’ve stolen their room. They know my standard reply anyway, “Your room? It was on loan for eighteen years.” My desk is an Ikea chair complimented by matching footstool to accommodate my two laptops (I still like my antiquated Dell, as I am trying to get used to my touch screen Lenovo). I have a rocking chair for when the MEPA wants to pop in and chat and a futon for the occasional overnight guest. This is where the guilt comes in: it feels a bit me-centric to devote one entire room towards my endeavors.

I know, I know–lots of people, lots of women have sewing rooms, craft corners, workshops, man caves and suffer not a twinge of remorse. I, on the other hand, do feel a bit bad about eradicating all traces of the progeny’s room. No beds, posters, old clothes, trophies remain; they truly are a guest when they visit.

Then again, I nudge away those nipping little guilts and conclude I should have no dilemmas about acquiring a room of my own. And this is where I have my moment of truth. Possessing a room of my own means I should make use of it, shouldn’t I? Then why am I writing this in the living room?

Updated Momisms


Mother’s Day has taken on new meaning having become an Empty Nester. The kiddos have flown the coop, starting their own lives, and while I’m still, and will always be their Mum, I don’t expect or need a big flautin’ tootin’ acknowledgement of being their mother.  Thanks, but not needed, Hallmark.  Another calendar guilt day.  Whoa–wait–stop–I didn’t mean to go in this quasi-negative direction. Of course, getting a card or phone call or even flowers is sweet and appreciated, but everyday I’m reminded that it is so cool I’m a mom of three very lovely children who have become adult just that fast. The youngest turned 21 in March and the oldest will be turning the *yikes* 29 in June.  How’d that happen?  Wasn’t it moments ago I was telling them:

  • Hey! I’m your mother not the maid. Pick up your stuff!
  • Don’t make me come back there!
  • Just try one bite–
  • It’s your brother’s turn to pick the movie.
  • No, I don’t have money for candy.
  • You can have one–I said one.
  • Not before dinner.

Now that they are adults, I find the following conversationals happening:

  • How’s work going?
  • Is this a “friend” or a friend?
  • Do you need gas money?
  • What are you doing for the holidays?
  • Is it okay if Pops and I come over?
  • Do you want to meet at the restaurant?

Yes, I notice they tend to be questions rather than statements?  Why is that? Maybe it’s because I can’t really tell my kids to get a haircut, or that they should tidy up their apartment anymore.  But I guess I do. *Sigh* I really can’t stop being a mother so easily.  There is not switch off once the kinder become A-dults.  That Mom drive just keeps going.

So, this post is dedicated to my children.  You make Mother’s Day happen everyday–not only some designated May Sunday.

And this is why I wrote that essay that got in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide. 

Now that you have all moved out and have your own lives I finally do have “A Little Piece of Quiet.”

Loves and Hugs, Mum

Chicken Soup Cover

Image: Amazon Inspiration: My Very Own Progeny (psst…story #10)

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief Interruption to Our Scheduled Poetry Programming


One of my goals for Spring Break is to knuckle down and really get productive on my own writing.  I have been more reader than writer of late and I need to reverse that status. However, here it is Friday and school starts again Monday. Never fear, I still have great hopes of revising and sending out more manuscripts. I have to remind myself to keep working, even though that little voice  in the background keeps sniveling: “But I’m on vacation!”

Fortunately I found some needed motivation in Writing Like Crazy’s post for the day.

Writer’s Digest, who always has the best writer’s advice, also runs fabulous contests.  Currently offered is their 15th Free Lucky Agent Contest.

Three  winners  will be awarded the following:

1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of their work, by the agent judge

2) A free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com

The focus of this particular agent contest is Young Adult.  The agent is Andrea Somberg, a literary agent with close to fifteen years experience, and represents various fiction and non-fiction projects including those aimed at young adult and middle grade audiences.

I plan to spend the next couple of days fine-tuning my YA manuscripts and submitting them before the deadline which is  Wednesday, April 9th. For more details on the contest go to this link

The Peace and Quiet Found in Chicken Soup


Yes, I do hope you look inside.  Especially if you are a mom, know a mom, have a mom, know someone who will someday become a mom–that covers just about all of it, doesn’t it?
Moms.  Busy people. The “M” in “Mom” stands for “multi-tasking.” Let’s see: answer homework questions while checking the meatloaf in the oven after asking the table to be set amid soothing a sibling squabble–this all takes place in the span of heartbeat for many moms.  Yup, been there, done that.
This is why I submitted an essay to the Chicken Soup folk when they announced they were putting together a new book about moms and multi-tasking.  Like most submissions, I forgot about it as the months rolled by.  So–it was quite a pleasant surprise to receive the news my essay “A Little Piece of Quiet” (#10 in the TOC) had been accepted and would be included in the forthcoming book.
This is not my first publishing credit–and yet this one is extra-special since most people recognize the Chicken Soup series. What I especially like is being able to walk into a Barnes and Noble and find the book on the shelf. Even though my story is one of many, I still get that “YAY!” moment seeing my book keeping company with other ready-to-purchase selections.
This is a great mom present and Mother’s Day will be here before you know it.  On the other hand, this is a great gift for showing appreciation to any mom anytime of the year.
Although my kiddos are all grown up and out of the house now, I do remember those days when my longing for peace and quiet was turned around when I realized the blessing of having a little piece of quiet.
Hope you pick up the book for the certain mom-person in your life, and I hope you find your way to reading my contribution.
Blue Skies,
Cricket Muse

Monkeying Around


I usually don’t follow the trend, yet those monkeys got me smiling with their extra effort this year. Plus I wanted to do some shout outs to the main commenters throughout the year: LazyCoffees, Literary Tiger, Stehothej, Letizia, and Eagle-Eyed Editor. Thanks guys!
A couple of reflections–I had no idea concrete poetry was such a popular search item! Perhaps it’s time to boost ratings with another round. Also, Sparky Sweets continues to get hits. Hmmm, respark another post?
So, the tts are a bit of a report card. I’m not much for checking my stats, although I do get a kick from how those little monkeys put together the end of the year prez.
Off to another year–gee it would be grand to get Freshly Pressed this year (wee hint).
Happy New Year, One and All!
m

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,200 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Art of Avoidance


All week the in-progress novel beckons me. Fatigue, lesson plans, grading papers tend to get in the way of creativity, so Saturday tends to be ThE writing day. Typically when Saturday arrives the following dual decision-making occurs:

SATURDAY

SATURDAY (Photo credit: Stefan Sager)

-wake at usual time of 5am “much too dark to think; sleep in two more hours”
-is it 7 already? “I’ve got the whole day–lounge a bit”
-how did it get to be 9:30? “better put in some work out time since I didn’t this week”
-wow! it’s going on 11 already “after a shower and breakfast I’ll get right on the computer”
-cranking up the computer means it’s time to settle down to working “after I check my emails and notifications”
-enough procrastinating, open up the file and let’s get cracking on this new chapter “lunch would be a good idea”
Okay, you get the idea. Raise your hand if similar avoidance scenarios take place when preparing to work on your project.

Why is it I avoid something I look forward to working on? I do actually like the story and it’s going well. Yet, there remains a reluctance to jump right up and sit down and work.
Wait–that’s it! Writing is work and after a 40 plus work week putting in another 5 plus hours on the novel feels like a double-shift, even though it’s doing something I like.
Solution? Absolutely, I’m agreeing with you on this–suck it up, get focused, and get going. Good advice. After I go for a walk, clean out the refrigerator, and put away the laundry I’ll get right on my story.

High Praise for Low Tech


Cover of "Six-Figure Freelancing"

Cover of Six-Figure Freelancing

Last month I had the pleasure of a lunch excursion of write-minded people with at least three different local writing groups being represented. Some of those at the table I knew and others I was glad to make acquaintance.  I hope we bump into each other while attending local and regional writer to-dos.

While it’s always a delight to mingle with other writers (because that gosh-it’s-lonely-in-the-garret thing does get tiresome after a time), it’s even more of a delight when the writerly get together involves eating and gnoshing with a known writer. In our case our writer-in-the-dining was Kelly James-Enger.

Kelly owns an impressive vita. A former lawyer, she’s also served a term as a contributing editor for Writer magazine, and has racked up some amazing credits such as:

  • written and published hundreds of articles appearing in over fifty national magazines
  • authored/coauthored/ghosted 12 books.
  • speaker at national writing conferences
  • blogger focusing on making money as a freelancer
  •  being a dedicated mother of two busy kids!

As much as I learned about the business side of writing from Kelly, my biggest take away was her lo tech savvy.

She and I share this nerdy joy of NEO. Not Matrix Neo, but the odd little wants-to-be-computer someday NEO. At first glance it resembles an overgrown calculator. At second glance it makes you wonder why a person would want to use it. At all.

Take a look at its amazing features:

  • no internet
  • no printer capability
  • no word processing
  • no large screen
  • no thumb drive save

I know–it’s a list of no nos. Why bother with such a low tech device?  That’s the beauty of it–it’s so low tech that it produces high results.  You know how easy it easy to fire up the laptop, iPad, MAC, whatever and go in with great intentions. Before long it’s rabbit trail time as social media is checked, updated, and read, meaningless research extranvagas commence, and general time wasting occurs.  The WWW really stands WhattaWastedWorktime. NEO won’t allow you to go there.  It can’t.

I first learned about NEO a few years ago when I offered to teach Creative Writing one semester. However,  computer labs at the school were not that readily available at that time.  I decided to get creative (desperation does this at times) so we could really get some writing done. By means of a grant I earned the use of a classroom set of NEOs. This proved to be a better solution than I initially thought. My students would practically squeal with delight when I announced “Grab your NEO.” Everyone had a dedicated NEO and they would merrily plunk away their stories and download them into my designated school folder on my laptop and I would print them later. I miss my NEO days. My former NEO students fondly reminisce about those days of low tech.

Unlike iPads and computer labs, there are no worries of diligently watching and waiting to sneak up on students sneaking in email messages, games, shopping, and stupid stuff.  NEO is happy to be low tech enough to simply take in words, m’am, just the words. It’s too humble to try and be pretentious.

So, after lunch I waited around by the fireplace lounge while I waited for the MEPA to arrive and whisk me away for some shopping. I happened upon Kelly who had also decided to take advantage of the quiet fireside setting and was diligently working on one of her many projects. She graciously allowed me to hang out with her and we had a great chat session about writing, being moms, and being busier than we know is better for us.  That’s when I noticed her NEO.  Expecting an iPad, or MAC, or even something really nifty because Kelly is after all, a writer who has made the magic six figure income, and would naturally use the best tech in her craft. Sha-zam was I shocked when I found a NEO propped up on her lap.  Even more amazing was her confession on how she  prefers her NEO for those times of serious writing. There is a lesson in this, I know there is.

Before you rush out to purchase your own NEO, I have to deliver the sad news that they are no longer going to be produced. Perhaps this is a rumor.  Perhaps I should check out Snopes and make sure.

At any rate, I recommend finding a NEO for those times when you need to just get the words down, when you simply need to focus. High tech has its place.  DO NOT even think about taking away my iPhone at this point. iPad maybe–but that’s another blog.

For now I’m all about  giving a High Five for the Low Tech NEO. I wonder if Kenau ever tried one out.

NaNo oh oh


November is such an incredibly packed month:

  • post first quarter grades
  • plan second quarter lessons
  • parent teacher conferences
  • vote when applicable
  • Thanksgiving
  • No Shave November

oh oh somewhere in there is NaNoWriMo

If I were truly a dedicated NaNoian this should have been my first NaNo post. Well, not wanting to be too crazy this year, I’ve decided not to NaNo in 2013. I have previously NaNoed and have the completion certificate hanging on the wall. I even have bounced the manuscript out to a couple of editors and agents.

This year, however, instead of something new I shall continue with my vow of completion commitment. No more new starts until finishing half-started projects–umm, those of merit.  Some projects should keep on hibernating for both our sakes.

Yes, I am intent on finishing the middle grade historical novel I’ve been working on for the last ten years. I know, that’s an awfully long time, especially when in just a month’s time I cranked out a YA novel a couple of years. Contemporary fiction , I’ve discovered, is so much easier than writing  middle reader historical fiction. researching for a historical novel is one big onion of peel and write. As soon as I peel back one layer of information another layer is revealed.  Yes, peeling historical onions do make me cry. Getting facts straight, setting up proper verisimilitude, along with creating catchy characters, scintillating setting, and convincing complications, conflict, and climax is tough stuff. At least for me. I’m determined to finish this odyssey of a pioneer tale I started, especially when I’ve had an agent express interest.

Sooo, Na No not now, but thanks for the invite. This year my RSVP box is checked “next year, perhaps.”

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