Saturday, June 29, 2013

Guest Post by my husband David: Lessons from the Delivery Room

Lessons from the Delivery Room

Because I’m a bit sleep deprived, I’m gonna do this in list format. This is by no means an end-all-be-all guide to baby delivery and the first few days, but merely my observations and a few tips I think might help out new parents (especially dads).

  1. Packing extra clothes for dad is arguably more important than packing clothes for mom.  Many blogs recommended bringing comfortable clothes for mom to help make the hospital feel more like home, or to feel less embarrassed about wearing hospital gowns and mesh underwear. They warn that these clothes will be ruined. That much is true; they would be. Alexis personally didn't want any of her things ruined, and I promise any modesty you might have as an expectant mother will be thrown out the window in the delivery room.  As a dad, however, you’re probably not going to want to leave mom’s side.  Everything I read recommended bringing a change of clothes for dad. I recommend bringing four. I needed clothes, and had to send people to fetch them for me.
  2. Bring your own pillows and blankets. The ones in the hospital suck pretty bad.
  3. If you’re breastfeeding (or helping mom breastfeed), ask to speak to a lactation consultant as soon as possible. I promise you, they will help ease your nerves about this new ritual that will consume so much of your life.  Have them show you all the holds, how to get the baby to latch, how to burp, etc. Ask any and all questions you might have. Have them critique you and mom on your feeding technique, and support techniques. It made a world of difference, and eased us into breastfeeding in a way that we both felt confident in our abilities.
  4. Have the nursery take the baby as much as possible.  Sleep as much as you can. You’ll need it, and you have a lifetime ahead of you with your child.
  5. Set firm boundaries with grandparents and visitors ahead of time. They’ll want nothing more than to hold the baby constantly, but the stimulation can be a lot for a newborn. Let people know what you expect of them. They’ll get plenty of time with the baby.  If you can, limit visitors in the hospital.
  6. BE PREPARED FOR A C-SECTION.  We went in fully expecting to have vaginal delivery, and all signs pointed to Alexis having a normal labor and delivery. Some last minute complications required her to have a c-section, and we were completely unprepared. Do your reading. Take a class. Even if you are dead set on having a vaginal delivery, it’s good to be prepared for contingencies.
  7. Epidurals are awesome.
  8. If mom needs pain meds, get her some pain meds.
  9. As a dad, be supportive to mom, even if she’s being difficult.  Pamper her, and cater to her whims. It’ll make you a hero, and make everything go smoothly.
  10. In our classes, we were told it’s good for dad to do skin-to-skin, but it was hardly more than a mention.  I didn't want to do it in the hospital, due to some stupid modesty I had, but when we got home I tried it, and it’s pretty amazing. I think it’s the first moment I really connected with my daughter. As Alexis puts it, it’s like baby crack. I really wish they would put more emphasis on this for new fathers.
  11. On that subject, skin-to-skin is great, especially for mom.
  12. Find a video called The Happiest Baby, and watch it before delivery. Your pediatrician probably has it. Just trust me on this one.

I’m sure there are things that I meant to have on this list that I've forgotten.  If more comes up, I’ll write an addendum.

By David Farmer (my beloved husband)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Blitz--Aberrant by Ruth Silver

Book Details:

Aberrant by Ruth Silver
Publication date: April 28th 2013 (paperback)
Genre: YA Dystopian

In the future Dystopian society of Cabal, the government instills equality for all and offers its citizens the perfect system. There's food, shelter, and jobs for everyone. Yet, the government also requires citizens to follow its rules without question, including marrying the person you're assigned, and only bearing children from "The Day of the Chosen," a lottery that randomly selects families to conceive children. Natural means hasn't existed in generations. After her eighteenth birthday, Olivia Parker accepts her requirement to marry her childhood best friend, Joshua Warren, and is eager to start her work assignment and new life. It all comes abruptly to an end when she's arrested and thrown in prison. The only crime she's committed: existence. Olivia isn't born from "The Day of the Chosen" like the rest of the world. The truth haunts the government and puts her life in grave danger as the fact of her birth would destroy the perfect system.

With Joshua's help, Olivia breaks free of prison and is forced on the run. Together they set out to find a new home and new life together. But time is running out as the government mounts an attack to destroy Olivia and bury her secret with her. Thrown into a world unlike their own, Olivia and Joshua must quickly adapt to survive.

Author Interview:

What was the hardest part of writing Aberrant?
The hardest part was writing the characters suffering. I know that they will get through the pain - physical or emotional - and it will make them stronger, but it's still hard to torture your favorite character.

Who was your favorite character to write in Aberrant?
I had the most fun with writing Olivia. She's full of so many mixed emotions and traits that we're always learning something about who she is. She's not complacent. She has a mind of her own and likes to explore the world around her. She's curious by nature and it has the tendency to get her into trouble. She's complex, which makes her three-dimensional, but also incredibly caring and supportive of those she loves.

Why did you decide on making Aberrant into a series?
I felt like I had a huge story to tell. Something that would span across hundreds of thousands of words. That may not seem like a lot but when sending your novel to agents and publishers, there's a certain word count they're looking for in new authors and in young adult/new adult titles. The only way to properly tell the story, was to turn it into a trilogy.

Do you have the second and third book planned already?
Without getting into any specifics, yes! The next book, Moirai, will be available sometime in 2014. The first draft was finished last December but with the edits and some significant changes in Aberrant, I need to make the story flow a little smoother.

Can you tell us about one of these changes in Aberrant? What was added to the story?
Down to the final edits, I was adding details and shaping each character just a little bit more. I wanted the world that they're in and the cities to feel real. I wanted you to experience it, just as Olivia has for the first time. The very end of the Aberrant, I added a glimpse at what we can expect in the second novel. That was one of the final edits that was added, among many others.



Barnes and Noble:


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Bloomsday!

On June 16, 1904, James Joyce went on his first date with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle. Because this date had such personal significance for Joyce, he chose to commemorate it in his great masterpiece, Ulysses. Thus, the novel takes place on this single day. 

Fifty years after Joyce's date and the events imagined in Ulysses, and group of dedicated Joyce fans decided to celebrate their love for this book by following the path that Leopold Bloom, the novel's main character, took through Dublin that day (they only made it halfway before succumbing to exhaustion and alcohol). Other Joyce fans soon joined the fun, and Bloomsday is now celebrated in 60 countries as a day to celebrate Joyce's writing and have a pint in his honor. 

In Dublin, the James Joyce Centre organizes events like lectures, readings, and walking tours in the run up to and day of Bloomsday.  

To me, Bloomsday is a sign that our society is still capable of celebrating great works of literature. It's a reminder that even a work as complex as Ulysses is meant to be enjoyable as well as profound.


Blog Posts for James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

Blog Posts for James Joyce's Dubliners:

"The Sisters" and "An Encounter"

"After the Race" and "Two Gallants"

"A Little Cloud" and "Counterparts"

"Clay" and "A Painful Case"

"Ivy Day in the Committee Room"

"A Mother"


"The Dead" 

Blogs for James Joyce's Ulysses: 

Monday, June 10, 2013

James Joyce's Ulysses: Chapter Three--Proteus

In the first two chapters of Ulysses, James Joyce continues to write in a traditional way. These early two chapters are rich in detail and beautifully written, but it's not until chapter three, "Proteus," that Joyce begins using modernist, stream of consciousness techniques that people associate with Ulysses

In the Odyssey, Proteus is a sea-god, the "Old Man of the Sea," who can transform himself into any creature or force that he wishes. Menelaus recounts how he trapped Proteus and held onto him despite his many transformations in order to compel the elusive god to give him answers to all his questions. In the "Proteus" chapter of Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus walks along the beach, the home of the Old Man and the Sea, observing the churn of life and death, the constant changes, all around him. Thus chapter three is a study in contrasts. For example, in the opening paragraph Stephen sees the "signatures of  all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot." The sea is at once a great source of life (seaspawn) and a great destroyer or taker of life (seawrack). Later on, when he spies an older woman, a midwife, coming along the beach, he contemplates his own birth ("one of her sisterhood lugged me squealing into life"), yet immediately imagines that she's carrying a "misbirth with a trailing navelcord, hushed in ruddy wool." Surrounded by these images of life and death, birth and misbirth, Stephen searches for answers and meaning in the chaotic, contradictory world around him, as both Menelaus and Telemachus search for answers in the Odyssey.

As the chapter continues, Stephen considers visiting his uncle's house, where imagines speaking to his ill uncle Richie, a pathetic version of Menelaus. Unlike the Menelaus from the Odyssey, Stephen's uncle is sickly and weak, a drunkard whom his father views with contempt. He realizes his uncle's house and his own are "houses of decay" and that "beauty is not there." His disappointment leads him to reflect on other sources he's searched for answers: the "fading prophecies of Joachim Abbas," the "hater of his kind" Jonathon Swift, his friends including Buck Mulligan, and of course the Catholic church. He remembers his own attempt to devote himself to religion (from Chapter Four in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). He mocks his own pretensions--him praying for foolish or indecent things like non-red nose, or a fubsy widow to lift up her skirts.

Stephen's list of disappointments includes his literary pretensions (Chapter Four of Portrait) and his attempt to escape Ireland by going to Paris (Chapter Five of Portrait)  He remembers his ludicrous plans  to write novels with letters for titles, and practicing his bow in the mirror. His trip to Paris disappoints him too. He was going to be a "missionary to Europe after fiery Columbus," but ended up an ordinary student, even dressing the part with a Latin quarter hat.   

The sea pulls Stephen out of his remembrances, back to the dichotomies of life and death--the bloated carcass of a dead dog that a live dog sniffs and explores. A man and a woman walk along the beach, an archetypal couple like Adam and Eve. The woman from the couple becomes the focus of both Stephen's romantic longings and his disappointments. An ordinary cockle-picker, he imagines this woman "wears those curse of God stays suspenders and yellow stockings, darned with lumpy wool." Yet he also longs for her to "touch me. Soft eyes. Soft soft soft hand. I am lonely here. O, touch me now, soon."  After this romantic reverie, Stephen's mind drifts towards death once more--he thinks about the corpse of a man who drowned in the bay, which they are expecting to drift back to shore with the tide. He imagines that "a quiver of minnows, fat of a spongy tidbit, flash through the slits of [the corpse's] trouser fly." Stephen contrasts sexual eroticism and death in stark terms; the corpse is not only dead, but his penis has been devoured by fish (according to Stephen's morbid imagination). 

At the end of the chapter, Stephen finds no resolution or comfort. Instead, he returns to more humdrum thoughts about his missing handkerchief, before noticing one more strange sign--the crosstrees of a threemaster ship. The three crosses on the ship might reflect the three crosses on the hill of Calgary where Jesus was crucified with the two thieves. If so, does this image represent Stephen's martyrdom or his potential for resurrection? Like Telemachus before him, Stephen searches for answers, yet without a strong father figure to guide him, he seems lost.  

Blogs for James Joyce's Ulysses: 

Blog Posts for James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five

Blog Posts for James Joyce's Dubliners:

"The Sisters" and "An Encounter"

"After the Race" and "Two Gallants"

"A Little Cloud" and "Counterparts"

"Clay" and "A Painful Case"

"Ivy Day in the Committee Room"

"A Mother"


"The Dead" 

Blog Hop!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Guest Post by Melissa Moores: The Making of a Superhero

As an emerging author, my studies into how to publicize myself, branding, and building a solid writers platform left me more than a little overwhelmed. I mean, I’m a writer – doesn't somebody else take care of publicity?

Perhaps that was the case traditionally, but so much is expected of new writers (self or traditionally published) it’s difficult to sort out sometimes. So, I put it on the back burner for a while. Then, my cousin (also the godmother of my now 2 year old son) announced her engagement – her very short engagement.

Immediately I panicked. My husband had recently lost his job and I had no income to speak of being home from work to raise my son. What do I do for a gift?

I used what I had – my knowledge of Carina and her soon-to-be husband AND my ability to write. Thus, “The Adventures of the Ivancic Superheroes” was born. I immortalized this favorite cousin and her beau as Superheroes... I mean, how many people can say they got that as a wedding present?

Since my muses were real people and the characters reflect a good 60% of their true lives, I decided to keep this as my overriding platform. All of the main characters: good, evil, and unaligned, are drawn from people I know or have known at some point during my life.

Let me tell you, it was a lot of fun calling and emailing all of my old friends and family to get their permission to use their likeness (both mentally and physically) as representatives in the ongoing battle of good vs. evil. Everyone said yes.

Now for the platform of the comic book...umm, series of short, there had to be a visual medium... I decided to create a Superhero Literary Comic Photo-digest. The visual appearance of the idea was key. My drawing skills are basic and I didn't have the time to become a part-time photographer, so I needed to find a happy medium: borrowing free images from online and manipulating them when necessary to help enhance the more literary series of short stories.

This was not easy. While I am well versed in the powers of Photoshop, I am by no means an expert. Many of the images I chose are ‘representative’ of the story being told and for important close ups I did my best to use or combine images of my muses.

In fact, it's become ridiculously time consuming but as I develop the website and work on world-building, plot and character feasibility I find ways to balance my time for each issue.

I built the premise for The Ivancic Superheroes around the old comic/TV show Mutant X and newer programs like Heroes and Alphas, then added the more modern twist of a DNA compatible computer virus to mix things up. And my super-villain is a downtrodden geek who wanted to mould humanity into his version of the perfect society. This evil mastermind had to be based on my younger brother! Stewie Griffin and Mr. Burns are echoes of the underlying potent evil that my brother was as an adolescent.

The time and energy I put into crafting this parallel word for two superheroes attending college drew me into character development more deeply than I expected for this ‘fun wedding gift.’ I delighted in expanding on the profiles I developed for the website under the headings: Heroes, Villains, and Unaligned. I've considered turning the series into a novella when it's complete.

Currently, I aim to post a new issue to the website once a month. What began as a simple wedding gift has grown my author standing, helped me to build my writing platform, and developed my brand. As I wrote it, I discovered a common theme on my stories: self-discovery and a personal quest for truth. The very foundation of these ideas has captivated me and I hope will entice my readers.

Melissa Moores, OCT

Growing up in Ontario, Canada, Melissa Moores was the only child of a single mom. She discovered her passion for the arts at a young age when she wrote adventure stories and read them aloud to close family and friends. She focused on the dramatic arts in high school which aided her understanding of character motivation in her writing. She majored in Theatre Production with a minor in English, and then she went on to teach both elementary and high school for 10 years throughout Simcoe County.

Melissa currently lives with her husband and young son in Bradford, Ontario. She keeps busy these days building a website to host writing contests, writing freelance, researching self-publicity for novelists, querying agents, and working on her first science fiction novel The Chronicles of Xannia: Time’s Tempest.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Moby Kitty (Update: Baby Bjorn Kitty)

 As you may know from my previous posts, I've enjoyed knitting and sewing things for our first baby (she's due in June). At my baby shower, one of our friends got me enough material to make two moby wraps. I've just finished the first one, and my husband and I decided to test it--using our adorable kitty, Mead.

What's funny is that once we got him in there, he kind of enjoyed it! I carried our kitty around the house, and he just stayed very calm in the wrap!

I convinced David to try it on as well!

In addition to the Moby wrap, I've recently finished two crib sheets based on a pattern I found here.

(Update) Testing the Baby Bjorn

Of course, once we got a baby bjorn, we had to test that with our sweet kitty Mead, too.

Shop Amazon - Create an Amazon Baby Registry

 Other Knitting/Sewing Posts: