Archive for the ‘My Writing’ Category

  First of all, I have a new writing gig over at Workitmom.com.  I’ll be writing there once a month or so.   This month my article is Could adoption be right for your family?  Check it out if that’s something you’re considering!

 Next– this bit of news made my stomach all quivery.  My book – MY BOOK! – is scheduled to be released in stores nationwide and online in March of 2009.   I cannot tell you how pretentious I feel writing that– and what an odd feeling I got when I got that email from my editor.  It is freaky, like the day you get married or have a baby or get off a plane on the other side of the world and you feel so much like your normal self–but not– that you can hardly believe this is really your life.

 I can’t wait to hold the book in my hands.  When I do, I just know I’ll be afraid to open it, for fear that my “Can’t. Stop. Editing. Ever.” demons will leap out. This afternoon when I went over to see my article at workitmom, I was greatly distressed to discover two typos.  How will a whole book feel?  Eeeeeeeek!  But bring it on anyway, angst and all.  Whee!!!! Today I am celebrating! 

And now, since this whole post is already blatantly self-centered, I might as well finish it off with a few pictures of me (and my precious ones) at the Oregon Coast Aquarium last week.  Here are the kids and me, with the big boys trying not to look too self-conscious standing on a WALL with their whole family while many, many people walked by and Dad said, “Say cheese!” way, way too many times. (They’re good sports, aren’t they?)

Then we have this lovely being-eaten photograph of all of us together, thanks to some kind stranger offering her photography skills.

 Thanks for being interested in my chattering!

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…snacking on half a cup of chocolate-covered coffee beans at 10:30 PM is not the wisest move to make. Around 2:30 this morning, I was still wide awake. The upside is that at that moment I was also watching the pages of my book spit out of my printer. All 203 of them.


A sweet sweet feeling indeed.

More from here later.

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Note: Due to my seeming lack of ability to control the autopost feature on my blog, this post showed up a day early. (Look at the calendar, already, Mary!) But since I am too busy to post anything better (homestudy meeting Friday, parent education meeting Friday evening and all day Saturday) I’m leaving it up and giving y’all an extra day to comment. If you want an update on my day yesterday, you can check out my Ethiopia blog.

Today’s question is about nurturing your relationship. One thing that my hubby and I do sometimes is stay up late and dream together…we talk about what we’d like to do in the future. Some of the dreams are wacky and some are practical, but the time spent talking about our shared future helps us feel more bonded to each other. What makes you and your spouse feel close in the midst of child-rearing?

You have until Wednesday evening to share your secrets. The best answer wins my Golden Keyboard Award.

I’ve been getting such great answers to these questions that I’ve decided to include some of them in the book I am writing. I have already contacted some of you privately to ask permission to use your wise words where they will fit in my book.

Don’t worry– I won’t use one sentence without permission–so please keep participating in Opinion Saturday even if you would rather not be quoted. But if you’ve always wanted to see your writing in a book, keep sharing your wise words with me. If your words fit well in my book, I’ll be contacting you and asking your permission to use them. I am envisioning a contributor page at the back of the book that will list all the names and blog addresses of the writers whose work ends up in the book.

So come on– hit me with your best thought!

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Bub and Pie wrote an interesting post yesterday about motherhood, blogging, individuality and sense of self. Mella wrote something along similar lines about the juggling act, the constant tension it causes to try to find a moment here or there for something other than mothering.

Lately in the midst of listening to reading, and cooking affordable meals, and checking math, and sending encouraging emails to my college student, and kissing my baby’s neck, and paying bills, and reading to my little ones, and jollying cranky kids back to cheerfulness, I’ve been struggling to carve out chunks of ‘real’ writing time.

I’ve been feeling strung out lately, aggravated that I seem to be accomplishing less than I think I should. Part of it is just February. Part of it is self-discipline. If I want to write, then I need to spend my quiet moments writing, not blog-surfing. Last night I was up till 2, claiming those blissful late-night hours for myself.

But inevitably morning comes and a two year old is prying my eyelids open with the same enthusiasm whether I’ve had four hours of sleep or nine. A tired mom is never at her best. And I want my kids to have my best. So- I need to get to bed earlier.

And yet, I have words wanting out of my head. Things I want to do. Things I need to do. Things I love to do. I’m constantly fiddling with the balance of my seesaw.

It’s crazy.

Last week I felt so pleased that I’d done so well fitting in game time with my little ones. Last week I also paid the house payment three stinkin’ days late and earned us a late fee. Gack.

Last week I got my bedroom cleaned out–apparently almost entirely by hucking things into the laundry room, or so it seems by the height of the heaps on the counters. As soon as I focus on one area, another falls to wrack and ruin.

Growing up, I had an at-home mom who also spent time on her own interests. She read extensively. She sewed. She counseled breast-feeding mothers, taught childbirth classes, and even assisted a doctor with occasional homebirths.

There were moments as a child when I dreamed of more focused attention from her. As a teen I also fretted about the mess in the living room, wondering as I hucked everything under the couch why I was the only one bothered by the clutter.

And yet I look back now and think that my own life is probably that much more vital and interesting because of her example of immersion into intriguing projects. She demonstrated that a mother could have passions of her own, even in the midst of mothering eight children. Her kids have turned out strong and capable and happy. And as adults, without exception, we all admire her deeply and feel so grateful that in the mom-lottery we got her.

Her example makes me less fearful of following my own dreams. Of course my family’s happiness IS my highest dream. Above all I long for them to grow strong and healthy and happy, and to always trust God for their lives. But I think — I hope — I can help them grow strong and happy while still taking regular moments for myself.

The balance is tricky…I struggle each day to get it right. As I tap away at the keyboard, taking frequent breaks to tie a shoe, or spell ‘V-a-l-e-n-t-i-n-e’, or laugh at a knock-knock joke, or tutor a teen making spaghetti, I hope and pray that my children will see the breadth and richness that can exist in the life of a mother. Yes, I am a mother. But I am also still myself.

No, I can’t have it all. But with thoughtful choice and clarity of purpose and lots of prayer, I pray that I can get the balance right enough. Right enough that my children will get what they need from me. Right enough that I can complete a few thoughts of my own every day. Not so much ‘me’ that it swings into self-indulgence and shorts my kids of what is vital to their growth and happiness. But enough.

It’s a tall order.

Here’s praying I get it right.

Here’s praying we all do.

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New year, new list

I have a new post up over at Larger Families: New Year, New List. Go over and comment, OK? I’d love to hear what is on your list of essentials this year!

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Thanksgiving Eve.


Colossians 3:15


Larger Families: Thanksgiving eve. Have a blessed day.

(This week’s Opinion Saturday winner to be announced Sat am.)

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Help, please!

I have a problem. I have a wise friend who read my proposal and thinks that I am not talking myself up big enough. Because of the industry that she’s in, she has reason to know such things and I trust her input. She gave me a few ideas to beef it up, which I am going to do. But, wow, I am uncomfortable talking myself up!!

I had an idea.

I wonder if some of you (lots of you?!?) would be willing to email me privately with a sentence or two about why you keep coming back here.

If you are game, share your name and your city/state/country. First name only is OK if you prefer. If you totally don’t want to share your name, I think it might work to share your blog address. But there’s something compelling about a real name and location to add to credibility, I think….

This isn’t going to be out in cyberspace. All I am going to do is compile the quotes and add a page to my proposal with your comments. Instead of just reading pageview statistics, I thought it might interest agents to hear actual voices of people telling what you enjoy about my writing.

If you’re reading this now and thinking that Mary is getting an insufferable swelled head and you don’t wish to encourage me, I totally understand. I feel awkward just writing this….but I think hearing YOUR voices would be more powerful than me just going on and on about myself.

So — for those of you who are game, here’s what would help most. Write in 3rd person, ie instead of saying, ‘your writing is…..’ say, “I like Mary’s writing because…..” Keep it specific, “I just love Mary’s blog” is probably not as strong as, “I like her experienced viewpoint on mothering….” (or whatever the heck reason you have to keep coming back to read my rambling). A couple sentences is plenty.

Don’t comment here–instead email me privately: owlhaven at aol dot com Be sure to tell me if it’s OK to use your last name and city/state. It would be awesome to hear from a few of my international readers too…

Thanks so much! Really.

End of rabid and embarrassing self-promotion.

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I am ever-so-happy to say that my proposal is DONE. It is twenty-nine pages long and includes two chapter samples. If anyone is interested in reading what goes into a non-fiction book proposal, check out How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal.

Another place I’ve been spending a lot of time lately is Agent Query. And if you want a beautifully written blog that covers many, many aspects of being a professional writer, do not miss Ann Mini’s blog. If you, like me, find writing interesting, you will get caught here for hours. SO helpful!

The next step in my process includes sending various combinations of my query letter, sample chapters, and book proposal to agents. (Each has different preferences of what they want to receive first). Since I have been assured over and over that a scatter-shot approach is NOT best, I have been going cross-eyed at Agent Query and Publisher’s Marketplace this week searching for the agents most likely to be interested in my type of book.

I am really pleased to have gotten this far in less than three weeks. But here is where the process will slow down a LOT. First of all, many agents take 3 months to respond, from what I hear. And secondly, most agents reject 95-98% of what they receive. It is going to take some patience, time and good fortune to catch an agent’s eye. The golden rule, according to the wonderful Ann Mini, is to not give up till you have been rejected ONE HUNDRED times. Staggering, isn’t it?

Wish me luck. As always, I’ll keep you posted!

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Lovey Dovey

If you’ve spent 25 of the last 72 hours writing like a madwoman, it is a very, very good thing to have:
a. a husband who brings you chocolate (Dove, no less)
b. a husband who is a dynamite copy editor
c. a family who will happily cook their own dinner/eat leftovers
d. a daughter to eat eggs with at 1 am when you are famished
e. a book proposal that is 85% done

Hooray. (…little teeny dance…) Now back to work. The night is still young.

(For those who asked, the book is about mothering. I’m not brave enough to talk lots about it since it is a tough, tough thing to get a book published these days and I am in no way assuming….anything….)

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I need some go juice.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is not the wisest move to fit a big writing project into your life by continuing to do all the things you usually do during the day, and then simply stay up very, very late — night after night — to do the writing.


The other evening when hubby got home, I spent several minutes narrating to him the various irksome misbehaviors of HIS children while he had been at work. He listened till I wound down, then said, lips twitching, “It can’t have anything to do with the fact that you went to bed at 2:45 this morning, can it?”

“No.” I said, huffing indignantly. “They were really obnoxious. But it may have been related to YOUR DAUGHTER waking up at 7:45 and forcibly prying my eyeballs open with her incredibly pointy little fingers.”

Back turn. Stomp off.

I gotta start sleeping again.

Maybe after I get the book proposal done.

Till then, can anybody recommend a good espresso machine?


Also, stop by Largerfamilies.com and check out the interview I did with Melissa Fay Greene, the author of There is No Me Without You

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