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Magazine Mania

Wednesday, August 31, 2005
If the editors of magazines like Cosmo and Glamour moved en masse to the pregnancy and parenting magazine world, would we start reading articles like

  • Quit the mommy moans: seven reasons why whining at your kids doesn't work and pouting isn't pretty

  • Celebrity ovulation charts -- Hop on the hormonal rollercoaster with Britney and your other favorite stars!

  • The after-baby dinner party: the smart mama's no-fuss entertainment guide

  • Postpartum fashion crimes! (Don't be convicted)

Can you think of any other articles we'd be likely to read? (Don't forget the exclamation marks!!!)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:19 AM

Is Everybody HAPPY?

Just a quick follow-up to yesterday's post. Happy Woman Magazine does a fabulous job of satirizing standard women's magazine fare. If you want to start your day in a "Happy" way, be sure to check out Your Guy's Most Secret Thoughts ("After we make love and my wife is snuggled up next to me, she usually asks me what I'm thinking. I used to say nothing but I realized that's the wrong answer so I tell her I'm thinking about her. What I'm usually thinking about though, is a ham sandwich") and Supermodel Moms-to-be ("I worry about all the normal things, will this child be healthy, smart, pretty, thin. Will I lose the seven pounds I've gained so far?"). If you don't know where to dive into this very fun site, start with the greatest hits.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:02 AM

magazine world mystery solved! (facts you'll love!!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Media bistro editor Elizabeth Spiers' open letter to would-be women's magazine editors explains how it is that you can find yourself in a doctor's office waiting room with tons of magazines to choose from, but nothing to read.

| posted by Ann D @ 10:47 AM

Overstressed Parents, Overstressed Kids

Monday, August 29, 2005
event poster
I am doing a fundraising event for Kawartha Montessori school in mid-October. I'll be speaking on the topic of "Overstressed Parents, Overstressed Kids." The event is still quite a few weeks away, but time really flies at this time of year, so I thought I'd give everyone a heads up about the event now in case you want to attend it yourself (it's in Peterborough, Ontario); or you know someone who might be interested in attending it.

The event is on Thursday, October 13 from 7 to 9 pm at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School
Tickets (which cost $25 per person) are available from Kawartha Montessori School (705-748-5437) as well as a number of other outlets in the Peterborough area (Titles Bookstore, Charlotte's Web, the Toy Shoppe on Hunter, HappenStance Books in Lakefield).

You can download a copy of the event poster (in .pdf format) here or view a full-sized online version of the poster here.

| posted by Ann D @ 6:58 PM

What Previous Generations of Mothers Were Thinking (And Being Told!)

Friday, August 26, 2005
I've added a new category to the links in my sidebar: links to source material for research into the history of motherhood (both American and Canadian). You can find electronic scans of old motherhood advice manuals as well as journals, letters, and other source material. Just be forewarned: this material is highly addictive!

History of Motherhood: Diaries, Letters, Etc.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:55 AM

Selling Mom on e-Bay

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
My seven-year-old is deeply disturbed by e-Bay -- specifically what kind of prices used copies of my books command on the site. He and his Dad were surfing e-Bay last night and found a used copy of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books selling for $.99.

"Ninety-nine cents! That's wrong. They could at least pay $10 for it."

My husband chimes in: "It's in mint condition and the seller adds that it's an excellent book. He and his wife found it very helpful during their pregnancy."

My fifteen-year-old wants to know if he can start a business selling autographed copies of my books on e-Bay. My husband starts to broker the deal. He'll sell him autographed copies of my books on a non-returnable basis if my son wants to take the risk. He's asking for a 15% cut as my agent.

"Wait. I don't think mom needs you to be her agent. I think she can do this deal on her own," the 15 year old pipes in. (Smart kid!)

"Of course she needs me," my husband insists. "She's too busy writing books to handle these things."

Until my books start selling for more than $.99, I think my son would be further ahead selling some of the mystery junk from the basement. I bet his Dad would even give him bonus money for getting rid of that stuff. Sounds like it has better potential as a get-rich-quick scheme.

(As a general rule, anything involving the book business tends not to be a ticket to financial payola. I'll have to point that out to the kids one of these days. But I'll let them harbor the illusion that they're living in the lap of luxury for just a little longer. They seem to think that having a lot of books around means we're wealthy.) :-)


One final footnote on the e-Bay episode. My 7-year-old was very puzzled by the cover copy that the pregnancy book seller had posted. He had lifted some of the publisher's marketing copy, which described the book as a "nuts and bolts" guide. "Where do the nuts and bolts fit in?" he asked me on the way to art class this morning? (Clearly he was worried he'd missed out on the "hardware" portion of our "facts of life" talk.)

| posted by Ann D @ 9:51 AM

Sleep Book Score

Monday, August 22, 2005
Good News: I have 131,000 words of my sleep book in draft form.

Bad News: The manuscript was supposed to come in at around 75,000 words.

Good News: I am really happy with what I have written so far.

elevatorbuttonsBad News: I still have a few more holes to plug in the manuscript before I will feel that I have done justice to this subject.

Good News: The words continue to flow well.

Bad News: [Can't think of any more bad news. I'll skip this round.]

Good News: My editor is being really understanding about the fact that my book is overlength and overdue.

Bad News: [Again, I'm stumped.]

Good News: I am learning tons about the subject of sleep and I think I have a lot of really interesting stuff to share with my readers.

Bad News: [The Bad News side decides to fold.]

Final Score: Good News: 5, Bad News: 2.

I can deal with that.

| posted by Ann D @ 6:44 PM

Heloise? Martha? Bob?

Sunday, August 21, 2005
dishesThis morning, my 14-year-old offered to make pancakes for my 7-year-old. I thought that was a really nice thing for him to do. The pancakes turned out really well and both boys enjoyed them thoroughly. There's just one small problem. One of my nicer frying pans ended up with baked-on black gunk cemented to the bottom of the pan.

I've managed to get most of the gunk off using steel wool. (It's a stainless steel pan, so it seems to be able to handle this type of abuse). I also tried boiling a small bit of water and baking soda in the pan. (I thought I'd read this in a kitchen tips book somewhere, but this is not something you should try at home, folks. I simply managed to create a huge mountain of baking soda bubbles. The 7-year-old found it wildly entertaining, but I did not -- probably because I had to clean the entire stove afterwards. Not so fun.)

Anyway, I'm just wondering if any of you Heloise-, Martha Stewart-, or Bob Vila-types have any tips to share on getting burned on black stuff off of stainless steel pans. (I thought I'd bring in Bob because it just occurred to me that a power-sander might not be a bad idea.)

| posted by Ann D @ 6:28 PM

Still Life With Laptop

Saturday, August 20, 2005
My neighbours got treated to a unique piece of performance art last night.

I happened to fall asleep on the couch that faces right into the front window, with my laptop on my lap. (Don't worry: it didn't fall off. I have the same kind of "mother radar" with regard to my laptop as I had towards each of my newborns.)

Given that there was a table lamp shining on me, I was nicely illuminated so that any passerby was treated to an impromptu performance of "Still Life With Laptop" (with me being the still life).

Next time I'll remember to pull down the blind before I conk out.

| posted by Ann D @ 9:29 AM

Blogging and Creativity

Thursday, August 18, 2005
I'm a more creative person because I blog.

I know it for a fact.

It's because I'm constantly exposed to new images and ideas (like the wacky photo montages and social observations that can only come from Marla), new ways of using language (just hop around MUBAR, A Little Pregnant, and Laid Off Dad if you want to give your vocab muscles a stretch in all kinds of different directions), and mind-bending ways of marrying image and design. (I could point to hundreds of different blogs that are wow-worthy for design reasons, but here are just a few that invariably take my breath away: Wish Jar Journal, Book Lust, and Penelope Illustration.)

It's also encouraged me to write more freely and push the creative envelope both on and off the blog.

So what do you think?

Has blogging made you more creative?

If so, how?

| posted by Ann D @ 5:43 PM

Now I'm Too Excited to Sleep

Wednesday, August 17, 2005
One of the amazing parents that I interviewed for my forthcoming sleep book told me about the sleep tracker over at Trixie Update.

What will be particularly fascinating to you if
(a) you are a geek like me who has been intensively researching infant sleep patterns or
(b) a sleep-deprived parent
is the data strip that Trixie's dad has included on the page (scroll down a bit). It captures the classically disorganized sleep patterns of Trixie when she was little, and then shows Trixie developing predictable sleep/wake rhythms. You can even find out how Trixie-the-toddler slept today. Isn't that too cool for words?!!!

(Thank you to sleep book panelist Chelsea for making my day. I mean night.)

So for those of you who have been wondering lately why on earth I do what I do (e.g., write books that require that I turn into a hermit for weeks at a time, getting horrendously behind on my email correspondence, neglecting all but the most necessary of office administrative tasks, etc.), it's because of moments of discovery like this -- when you find some cool tidbit of information or stumble across some supremely amazing factoid that makes your inner researcher want to do cartwheels.


(Okay, I'll go easy on the caffeine from now on.)

| posted by Ann D @ 11:24 PM

So Let Me Get This Straight....

It's okay to wear an almost not-there bikini to the pool, but it's not okay to breastfeed your baby at poolside? Congrats to my fellow writermama Hilary Flower for crying foul.

| posted by Ann D @ 8:01 PM

The Mother of All Writing Challenges

I am issuing a writing challenge to all you writers out there.

By "writers" I mean

(i) people who are actually call themselves writers; and
(ii) people who know in their souls that they are writers, but who may not actually use the w-word when referring to themselves in public (yet).

I would like to challenge you to take a step forward in your writing career. You get to decide what that means to you. Here are some ideas:

  • move outside of your writing comfort zone by trying a new type of writing

  • sign up for a writing course that will give you an excuse to write on a weekly basis

  • treat yourself to a book about writing, a writing journal, and a package of colored pens that are so easy to write with that they practically dance across the page

  • send a pitch letter to a magazine, newspaper, or online market that you've always dreamed of writing for

  • buy your inner critic a one-way ticket to Nowheresville

  • find a writing buddy who will encourage you to set writing goals for yourself and to work towards achieving those goals (unless, of course, you're the type of person who will find it threatening or intimidating to have a writing buddy, in which case you may be better off to go solo!)

  • think of somewhere you could go to sit for an hour of amazing, uninterrupted writing time -- and do it

  • think about the unique experiences you have had and how you could use those experiences to help the world through your writing in some way, shape, or form.

I'm going to kick off the challenge by telling you what I just did to inject some literary caffeine into my writing life. I just signed up for a short fiction course that starts in October! (It's being offered through Trent University, where I teach non-fiction writing. (My next course -- "Publish and Prosper" will run in the spring.)

To make the challenge a little more interesting, I have decided to offer some prizes. Because I have a terrible habit of purchasing copies of writing books that I already own (!!!), I have ended up with doubles of the following three writing books: Betsy Lerner's The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers, Noah Lukeman's The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, and Bonni Goldberg's Beyond the Words: The Three Untapped Sources of Creative Fulfillment for Writers.

Anyone who does something to take a creative risk as a writer and who swings by this thread to post about what he/she did will be entered to win. The challenge will run until Sept. 15th. At that point, I'll be drawing the names of the three book winners. Good luck!

| posted by Ann D @ 2:14 PM

Book Addicts Anonymous

Friday, August 12, 2005
I need to hook up with a chapter of Book Addicts Anonymous (BAA) -- and fast. Ever since a friend (okay, a former friend) told me about Bookcloseouts.com, I have been scooping up books at a ferocious rate. Really fun and cool books that are available for next to nothing because some short-sighted idiot decided that the books in question should be remaindered. (Yes, I have issues with the whole business of murdering -- I mean remaindering -- books.) Anyway, go check it out -- if you dare. Just don't expect to buy groceries in the foreseeable future. You'll be spending all your money on books.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:24 AM

Aleta, Dani, and Rachel -- You're Famous (Again)

Thursday, August 11, 2005
I just spotted the Living Spree parenting resolutions article that I interviewed some of you for a while back. Aleta, Dani, Rachel, Sharon, and Melanie ended up being quoted in the article. (Note: A few of you others ended up being sacrified on the editorial cutting room floor. I hope to "recycle" your quotes in other articles so that your brilliant words don't end up going to waste.) The article continues for a few pages, so don't forget to keep hitting the arrow keys. And if you want hard copies for your files, make sure you print out copies now. Living Spree only keeps the current issue online until the next issue is published.

If anyone is interested, my parenting column can also be found in this issue (and every issue). It's on page 25.

| posted by Ann D @ 5:32 PM

Conception Magazine: My New Column Debuts

conceive magazineI've started to write the "Misconceptions" column for Conceive Magazine. My column debuts with the Fall 2005 issue -- the one with the adorable, almost bald, blue-eyed baby on the front cover. This particular column tackles one of the most prevalent -- and annoying -- myths about getting pregnant: "Just relax and you'll get pregnant." You'll find my column on the very last page of the magazine -- just inside the back cover.

| posted by Ann D @ 2:38 PM

Good Things Come in Surprise Packages

cookbook coverJust a quick post to tell you about a very cool surprise that arrived in today's mail bag -- a book that I didin't even know was in the making! The book in question is Joanne Good's Hand-me-down Delicious: A Legacy of Most Loved Recipes.

Joanne tells me that she wrote the book after her dad died last year and left some funds for community projects. The net proceeds go to literacy groups in Alberta, including Literacy Alberta's Student Bursary Fund and a preschool program in Calgary. By Fall, funds will go to Ontario and beyond, via the national Parent-Child Mother Goose Program.

"The book is really an 'idea' of a cookbook that made sense to me after 27 years as a food writer and family issues reporter for the Calgary Herald and Canwest. I am convinced that recipes and literacy go together in the everyday need to eat, shop, cook, and hang out in the kitchen."

I love the fact that the book contains kitchen wisdom in addition to some to-die-for recipes (ice cream cake for special occasions, muesli for busy weekday mornings, and Mother-of-all Pizza Dough -- gotta love the name). Joanne says that she who cooks should not be doing cleanup (you said it, sister!) and insists that "Cooking is soulful. So, go slowly." She then wraps up her book with some very wise words that give you an indication of the real-world, from-the-heart approach you can expect from every page of this one-of-a-kind cookbook and feel-good read: "The more you know, the less you need. And that's a decent approach for just about anything."

Congratulations on this wonderful cookbook, Joanne. I love the recipes and the spirit of this cookbook, to say nothing of the fabulous photos and recipe cards that are sprinkled throughout. Thank you so much for sending me a copy.

| posted by Ann D @ 11:08 AM

Sleep Trivia

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I've been learning all kinds of cool facts about sleep while I've been researching my sleep book. (We won't mention the fact that I've been learning a lot of these cool facts while strung out on coffee at 1:30 am.) I thought I'd post a few bits of "sleep trivia" to amuse you while our regular programming has been interrupted:

- New moms miss out on about 1.5 hours of sleep a night during baby's first year. That adds up to 550 hours of lost sleep or the equivalent of two months of sleepless nights.
- People who can drink caffeine after dinner and still fall asleep at bedtime aren't caffeine superheroes. They're actually just massively sleep-deprived -- so sleep deprived that they can fall asleep anywhere, anytime.
- The legendary two-toed sloth dedicates 80% of its time to sleeping: a rather awe-inspiring 20 hours a day.
- A bestselling 1940s baby book author advised a tough-love approach with newborns who insisted on being fed at night: "The night is meant for sleeping, not for eating. This applies to infants as it does to adults. Given an abundant supply of milk and a vigorous baby, it is difficult to see why such a child cannot do well without any feeding between 10 pm and 6 am....The newborn infant may require a little training in order to go through the night, after 10 pm, without any feedings, but this is a matter of only a few days."

| posted by Ann D @ 11:23 AM

The Sleep Book is Officially One Day Overdue....

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
I seem to go overdue with my books, just like my babies.

I will likely be blogging intermittently and/or incoherently over the next few weeks, while I finish writing the book.

Just wanted you to know.

| posted by Ann D @ 1:15 AM