September 2011

Being a writer was never on the list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t really consider myself a creative type, so it just didn’t seem like a good fit. Lawyer? sure. But a writer? I just couldn’t see it.

Maybe that’s why it took me 31 years to figure it out. 31 years! So making the decision 5 years ago to jump into the notoriously slow-paced publishing world didn’t seem like such a big deal. Yes, it can be mind-numbingly slow. 8 months to hear back on a manuscript kind of slow. But heck, it had taken me over THIRTY-FREAKING-YEARS to get here, so a few more years was not enough to scare me off. Patience is more than just a virtue in this industry; it is an absolute necessity.

And that is why the whirlwind that I experienced a few weeks ago came as such a shock. A wonderfully welcome, surprising-in-the-best-possible-way, shock.

I sold a book.

And I signed with a literary agent.

All on the same day.

Here’s the story:

Writer Lady sends marathon-themed picture book manuscript to editor. Interested Editor has 3 kids who run marathons and loves manuscript. Interested Editor offers contract to Writer Lady. Writer Lady freaks out (in a good way). Writer Lady decides she wants to build a career in kid-lit, and asks Interested Editor for time to contact agent. Interested Editor graciously agrees. Writer Lady e-mails Agent Wonderful (who already was looking at another story of hers). Agent Wonderful calls Writer Lady and offers representation. Writer Lady freaks out again. Agent Wonderful and Writer Lady e-mail Interested Editor and accept offer! Yay!

So keep your eyes peeled in Fall 2012 for a picture book published by Sky Pony Press titled, MARATHON MOUSE. It’s by me.

And check out my agent Karen Grencik and Red Fox Literary‘s website. She really is wonderful.

So yes, the industry is slow. And then it is fast. And then it is slow again. But it is, for this Writer Lady, an absolute perfect fit.

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The only time I really listen to music is when I am running. Sometimes I’ll mosy on over to grooveshark when I have a moment to write at home, but that is pretty rare. When Rob bought me an ipod for my birthday several years ago, (one of his not-so-subtle encouragements to run) I thought I would never use it. At home, my ears are one of my most valuable mommy assets. If I’m blaring Adele while doing the dishes (oh how I wish!), then how could I determine whether or not to run when I hear a crash from the other room? (post-crash hysterical screaming = run, otherwise you’re good) Or worse, how would I hear that suspicious silence that tells me I’d better go see what’s afoot and quick? That kind of quiet in a house with four kids is never good. So nope, doesn’t get used at home. But it has become an essential in my running regime, and I never leave home in my Asics without it.

But making a playlist for it at first was kind of baffling. The music that I normally loved just wasn’t that great for running. Turns out that The Beatles can’t really throw down the kind of beat necessary to motivate me as my legs scream for mercy out on the trails. And some songs that I would have never listened to in my real life, actually are great to run to. I have been surprised by which songs motivate me. And since I am always looking for new music to run to, I thought I would share some of my playlist with you. And maybe, if you are nice, you will share your favorite running songs in the comments for me. Here is a sampling for you…

Songs that never ever get skipped:

Viva la Vida by Coldplay – because it is the best song ever. EVER. If this is not on your ipod, go put it on there right now.

Human by The Killers – I listened to this song like 17 times when I ran my first 5K, so it is tied emotionally to running for me. It has this great build that gets me going every time.

I Feel it All by Feist – Try thinking about your aching body parts as you sing “I feel it all, I feel it all” over and over again. It is strangely soothing. Plus it’s just a really great song.

Songs that make me run faster:

Mr. Brightside by The Killers – if you are sensitive to racy lyrics, you might not like this one. But the tempo is great for increasing my pace.

Dog Days are Over by Florence and The Machine – when Ms. Florence tells me to “Run fast for your mother and fast for your father, Run for your children for your sisters and brothers,” I have no choice but to obey.

Perfect by Pink (I have the clean version, pay attention when purchasing if you are concerned about such things) – Believe it or not, I have several songs by Pink on my ipod. I can’t explain it, but she pumps me up.

Songs I don’t like in real life, but somehow transform into the best song ever when running:

The Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga – There are just way too many, “tonight, yeah baby”s for my liking. But as a running song? It’s perfect.

The Middle by Jimmy Eat World – Normally the lyrics of this song drive me crazy. It’s like a whole list of cliches about believing in yourself all strung together. But I saw that Lance Armstrong had it on his playlist, and he’s a pretty decent athlete, so I thought I’d try it. And wa-lah! It works.

Songs that put me in a better mood when I don’t want to run:

Merry, Happy by Kate Nash – Do you like British accents and lyrics about checking out bums? Me, too.

Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants – because whose mood doesn’t improve after listening to They Might Be Giants?

So, what are some of your favorite running songs? I want to know. One time I listened to Shakira’s Whenever, Wherever 4 times in a row to get me through the end of a run. And we didn’t even talk about all the Kelly Clarkson that may or may not be on my ipod. So, fess up.  I’m sure nothing on your ipod is quite as embarrassing.

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This week, Lily and I started going to a home preschool co-op. She was way too cute as she got ready for school. She insisted on bringing a backpack, and asked what time Daddy was going to pick her up. She has watched her siblings go to school every morning for her whole life, and she knew exactly what to do. Being the youngest of four, there was no trepidation, no nervousness, no tears related to school, and it was wonderful. Yes, yes, I thought, we as parents have done everything right, and the proof is here, in our extremely well-adjusted fourth child, Lily.

Until I realized that my almost three-year-old daughter does not know the alphabet song. The ABCs. The one song that every kid knows. What?!? How could this have happened? If you ask her, she can belt out the chorus to “Firework,” complete with hand motions and dance moves. But, no, nope, no ABCs. Poor, poor, neglected fourth child.

So this of course got me thinking about birth order and things of that nature. Usually I don’t give too much weight to things like that, because I don’t want my kids to be pigeon-holed into a type, and if I really listened to all of it, I would work myself into a tizzy over the fact that 2 of my kids are “Wednesday’s children” and other ridiculous things like that. So I don’t, usually.

But, there really is some truth to it. Josh is the textbook first child. Reliable, responsible and a total perfectionist. Lucy and Grace both have middle child traits, definitely more social and friendly, independent and inventive. And Lily is charming and affectionate, and loves the attention that being the baby of the family gives her. Yup, textbook. And it is possible that our parenting of these kids has been somewhat textbook too. Are we a little bit harder on Josh because he is the oldest, and a little bit easier on Lily because she is the baby? Probably.

The reality is that as our family has changed and grown, so has our parenting. Sometimes by choice, and sometimes out of necessity. When Josh was Lily’s age, we spent a lot of “purposeful” time with him. We had cards with numbers and letters on them that we practiced, and we had books that we read where he would name all the different types of fish (turns out that a 2 year old correctly identifying the brown goby is a cool party trick), or all the different types of tractors. I remember starting him in preschool when he was three, and him shocking his teachers by telling them the name of the author AND illustrator of the book they were reading for story-time. And Josh still is impressive in his academic abilities. But things changed. Over the course of six years, three little girls were born. Alphabet cards turned into chew toys, and “purposeful” time was a thing of the past as we shifted into pure survival mode. If we managed to feed them and get them into bed at the end of the day still in one piece, we considered it a success. Getting dressed and bathing were purely optional.

So yes, the younger kids didn’t get the same kind of focused time that Josh got. But they did learn lots of other real-life skills. They learned how to wait. They learned how to share. They learned to figure out how to do something themselves, rather than waiting until Mom is available to do it for them (something that my academic eldest still struggles with). They are independent and inventive because of it. Do I wish that I could have spent more one-on-one time with each one of my kids? Sure. But I think my inability to do so has it’s positive sides, and has made them the beautiful and unique little beings that they are.

Now the three oldest are in school most of the day, and that means that Lily and I get to spend more time one-on-one. And once we get this heinous thing called potty-training out of the way, it will be fun. Since Lily already has the waiting and sharing part down, you can bet I will be dusting off the old number and letter cards, and maybe we will find a brown goby or two. And if I can somehow figure out how to do the ABCs to the tune of “Firework,” I’m sure we will learn that too.

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