Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ahhh, the relaxing days of summer.

So, I often allude to the fact that my house is not clean.  When people ask me how I found time to write a book, I tell them I wrote instead of cleaning.  I'm not really kidding.  Now, here's the thing.  I clean all the time.  I mean everyday, I do something.  However, in a family of four (plus two cats), the something that I do is not nearly enough.  I am constantly vacuuming the kitchen, dining room and downstairs hallway/bathroom (where the litter box is).  I am always wiping the counters (well, the small portions of the counters that are not covered in stuff).  I am doing dishes and wiping up spills.  I'll let you in on a little secret, but promise not to tell anyone.  Ready...I hate cleaning.  If I never had to dust or vacuum again, I'd be happy.

But this all came back to haunt me, as these things often do.  My daughter's birthday is coming up.  And she wants a party.  I love having the kids' birthday parties at a venue, where all I have to do is show up with the cake (which I make).  It's great.  But my daughter wanted a party at home, with a few friends, where they could do a craft and use the bouncy house.  Sounds ideal, right?

I looked around the house, and felt terrible.  Even though I had three weeks, I knew there was no way that I could pull this off.  We're (still) in the middle of finishing the walkway in the front of the house.  My husband has all he can do to get the lawn mowed in between work, baseball games and rain.  I've been trying to help him out front with landscaping.

Then, there's the inside of the house.  It was a disaster.  Everywhere I looked there was dust and clutter.  There were cobwebs.  I just can;t keep up with it anymore.  This summer, I'm working at summer school, per diem in a clinic, playing chauffeur to the kids with their various camps and activities.  Plus, I'm trying to promote my book, write the new one, and help out some other people with their promotions.

I did the obvious mom thing, and I bribed my daughter into having her birthday party out somewhere.  And then I wallowed in guilt at what a failure of a mother I am.  But, I tried not to wallow for too long, and resolved to do better.  Sunday, while the kids were with my parents, I cleaned the living room.  I mean changed curtains, washed windows and really cleaned. Like 3-4 hours worth of cleaning.  And then I threatened all family members with bodily harm if they messed up the room.

However, that pride was short lived, as I realized that the house has about 12 rooms.  If I did one room per week, then the whole house would be cleaned in 12 weeks.  Wait, somehow, that doesn't work.  Despite a full (both jobs, plus grocery shopping) day on Monday, I plugged on.  Tuesday, I was off work, so the kids and I spent all day (and I mean ALL) cleaning their rooms.  Changing beds, washing all their blankets.  About 10:30 a.m. or so, I found a pedometer in Sophia's room, so I put it on.  Even with taking an afternoon nap, and with only a short trip to Wal-mart, I took 8500 steps yesterday (but that doesn't include the first 2+ hours of my day).  I'm at 2300 by 10 am this morning, and I still have to go to work.

The good news.  The living room is still clean, along with the downstairs bathroom, both kids' rooms and the hallways (both up and down).  The playroom has been picked up and vacuumed, and is passably clean, although could use a little more work.  I even vacuumed and mopped the hardwood stairs and part of the dining room floor this morning.  My house is solidly 1/3 clean.  And that's before I run more errands and go to work for the day.  Not too shabby.

The boys are headed to Cub Scout camp tomorrow morning, so I'm busy packing them up too.  Which included not only finding the uniform shirt, but remembering that I needed to sew a patch on, locate the patch and actually sew it.  Somehow, I'm a little confused about the Boy Scout motto.  I didn't realize that "Be Prepared" applied to the moms who were not actually participating...

All this, and I'm working on book promoting as well.  Good Intentions is featured this week on the book shelf at Chic Lit Central.  It's only featured until August 4, 2013, so if you're visiting after that, it will simply be in list form there.  Also on August 4th, I'll be guest blogging at ...the bookworm..., so stop by there to see what I have to say.  My Goodreads giveaway also ends on Sunday as well.  Busy weekend coming up.

I took part in a Blog Blast for Eric Devine's new book, Dare Me.  It looks very interesting.  Check it out.

We booked our Disney trip for next winter, but are still trying to squeeze in one more Jersey shore trip this summer.  Need to get on that one!

Oh, and I have to get Sophia's party in there too.

Huh, no wonder I'm tired.  Gosh I love summer.  Gotta run.  Have to run some errands before work!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dare Me

In this day and age of YouTube and instant fame...

"There is no doubt that one of us will die."

Okay, do I have your attention now?

One year, three kids, ten dares and YouTube.  What could possibly go wrong?

Find out in the latest novel by Eric Devine:

Available 10/8/2013.  If you cannot wait, you can pre-order here:

I know you may be confused.  Usually I'm discussing my epic housekeeping/parenting failures or pressuring you to buy my book.  Today, Biel Blather is taking part in a Blog Blast, sponsored by Book Nerd Tours.  I could say that I volunteered to participate because I went to high school with Eric Devine.  

But that would not be the full reason.  The full reason is that Eric is a damn talented writer, and you, the reader, will be missing out if you don't read this book.  

To read an excerpt, you can visit Eric Devine's blog.  All of his fancy contact information is there, including his Facebook and Twitter links, so you can follow him that way as well. (If I had ever been able to figure out the whole Twitter thing, I would have linked you directly.  Sorry.)

Obviously, the powers that be are so confident in the power of this book that it has its own t-shirt.  

Eric is also the author of Tap Out and This Side of Normal.  In addition to being the author of fearless teen fiction, he is a high school English teacher and father of two beautiful daughters.  To find out more, visit here.

Remember, Dare Me is on sale October 8, 2013.  Read it...I dare you.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


For being summer vacation, things have been pretty hectic around here.  I may have overscheduled things a tad bit.  The first two weeks the kids were off, they had swimming lessons every day.  Granted, it was only 45 minutes, but it was something.  Most of those days, we went swimming afterwards as well.  The second week they were off (and still in swimming), I was back at work, which made things interesting.  I worked Tuesday and Wednesday in summer school, so I had to employ my parents to shuffle the kids all over the place.

The third week of vacation, Sophia was in dance camp each morning.  I was at summer school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and worked in my outpatient clinic Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons.  That meant I had to bring her to camp, figure out what to do with Jake, run into work, pick her up, and then go back to work at the other job.

Oh, and I'm trying to sell my current book and work on my next one.

By week four, I was pretty burnt out.  It was also hotter than Hades.  But awesome mom that I am, I had another camp lined up.  This time, it was horseback riding camp, 15 miles north of here.  But I had a plan for this.  I would drop them off at camp, park myself in a coffee shop with my computer and write.  It worked like a charm on Monday.  I wrote about 5,000 words that day.  I had momentum.  I was on a roll.  At that rate, my book would be finished in two weeks.  Then came Tuesday.  I was sitting in the parking lot, making arrangements to get my broken windshield fixed (that story is here), when I got the call that I needed to go into school.  So, into school I go, and then haul it back up north to pick the kids up.  Then I had mandatory meeting that afternoon.  I tried to keep writing and got a little done.  Wednesday, I was back on track and type, type, typing away.  Then, due to the heat, we got the option to postpone the last two days of camp.  That meant no more quiet time.  But those two days were the first days of summer that we didn't have to do anything, and it was nice.  So nice.  We did do some fun things, and I got some writing in.

Then the weekend hit.  We drove down to Jersey for my cousin's son's first birthday.  We were those people who showed up two hours early, but we forced them into letting us help.  Heat aside, it was a great time.
The birthday boy and his awesome mom

All the kids in the pool

Sophia, my aunt and her grandson

My uncle and his youngest grandson

 Since we were already halfway there, we continued to head south to Cape May to spend the night.  We went to dinner at the Cape May Beach House, which is where I took the cover picture for Good Intentions, the last time we were in Cape May.  The kids were pretty worn out, but were revived by a walk on the beach, hunting for seashells.

 While we were walking on the beach, we spied dolphins.

 Also, there was something floating in the water that we could not identify.  I'm fairly certain that I saw a different type of dorsal fin checking it out...

I woke up pretty early the following morning.  I was out on the beach, walking around by about 6:15 a.m.

I love when my feet get flip flop tan lines.

This is our hotel, The Stockton Inn.  We've been staying there since I was 13.
When I got back, my dad was up and sitting outside.  We got coffee and sat on the promenade until it was time to wake the others to go to breakfast at Uncle Bill's Pancake House.  Can you say snickers pancakes?  Yum-o!  We then headed to the beach for a while.

 The dolphins were there again, just off shore.  I even got to see one jump fully out of the water.  We had to check out of the hotel, but were able to hang in the pool for a while after the beach.  We hit Dairy Queen and The Fudge Kitchen in the Washington Street Mall and were back on the road.

Pat did all the driving.  I read a book (or two).  The kids were good as gold in the car.  Jake started off travelling with my parents, but switched to our car about an hour into the journey.  There was no horsing around, no bickering, no fighting.  They didn't even watch a movie until the last 90 minutes.  I know not every day will be like this.  I know not every travel experience will be like this.  But I realized, that for that brief 36 hour period, we were in the sweet spot.

We're now as tired as can be.  I have lost all momentum on writing.  This week starts the mayhem of the kids in VBS, with me working Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon/evenings.  Pat and I are pooped out.  But for those 36 hours, to have my toes in the sand, to watch the kids together, to smell the ocean and feel the spray, it was all worth it.

When can we do it all again?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

You Are Not the Only One

I got into blogging, and was truly inspired by my former college roommate, Jessica.  Jessica is a rock-star mom, OT, is working on her PhD, and now is selling toxin-free household and kid products.  And let me clarify that rock-star mom thing.  She has FIVE boys, all ages four and under (a four year old, two year old triplets and a newborn).  And she cooks and cleans and gardens and does all this super-cool stuff.  I wish she didn't live all the way in Michigan so that we could see each other (and drink wine together).  Anyway, yesterday, she was having this kind of day.

We've all been there.  And if you say you haven't, you're lying.

So, today, it was my turn to have that kind of day.  Today was my only day this week that I had "off."  It's summer vacation, so no mom is truly "off."  We're entertaining and refereeing and shuttling and picking up.  I'm actually working two jobs this summer (summer school and in an outpatient clinic).  This week they collided so that I had two days where I went from on to the other, which makes my day 9 am-7 pm.  Sophia is at camp 9 am-noon this week, so there is the shuttling her to and from there.  Jake is not in camp, so there is the providing care for him.  One day he came to work with me.  One day I had to get a sitter.  One day I had to drop him off at my dad's work. My parents have been pitching in, picking the kids up, or staying with them while I'm at the second job.  It's just been a crazy week.

So, today was my day "off."  Here was my day:  Cats very loud 4 am-5:30 am, when they both decided to sleep on my chest.  Oversleep.  Have to run through the shower so that Pat can get in the shower in order to get to work.  Get an e-mail from a local radio person who had expressed interest in the book, but now no longer has time to read it.  Kids fighting, I lose my schmidt and scream, all before breakfast.  Run Sophia to camp.  Bring Jake with me to Post Office to mail out review copies.  Get into Post Office, grab envelopes and fill them out, and then realize that window is not open.  But since I've already written on the envelopes, Jake and I must sit there for 15 minutes waiting for window to open.  Successfully mail the books, but now filled with anxiety that the reviewers will pan the book.

Home for about 30 minutes.  Get a little writing done, but despair that my book is not selling better.  Also despair because I cannot get through current Candy Crush level. Go pick up Sophia early from camp to go to ENT appointment.  Kids are again fighting on way out of camp, causing me to offer to sell one of them to the guy behind the desk.  Drive 25 minutes to ENT.  Sophia does indeed have an ear infection (her ear has been draining for 5 days).  Sophia freaks out when the PA vacuums her ear out, causing her to be that kid in the office.  Yep, and I'm that mom with her.  She continues to freak out as the PA prescribes ear drops.

I begged my dad to leave work in Clifton Park early to meet me down in Albany so that I could attend my mandatory inservice for my per diem job (the TWO HOUR inservice on core values and mission statement, that I must attend or will be fired.  Oh yeah, I was supposed to do it by July 1.).  We successfully meet up and I even find a parking spot.  I get into the building only to be told that there was not a 12:30 inservice.  There was one yesterday.  I have the complete and total wrong day. I totally missed the one I was supposed to go to.  There was an inservice at 1 pm, but they said it was too full, so I have to reschedule for next week.

Decide to get my oil changed and my car inspected.  My check engine light keeps coming on, so hope that they can tell me about that.  It turns out, they cannot inspect my car with the light on, as it would fail inspection.  The guy "looks" at it, and tells me the light is out, but it's not.  It's still on.  Also, they didn't reset my oil-o-meter, so my car still thinks it needs an oil change.

I come home, and diligently return to writing (people are asking for more of my work).  That lasts for 20 minutes before my dad returns with my kids.  I decide to be proactive for dinner.  I take pork chops out of the freezer, and fill the sink with water to defrost.  An hour later, I realize that the stopper was not all the way in, and the water promptly drained out, and the pork chops are still mostly frozen.  I have a wake to go to, and I'm getting ancy.  Pat is not scheduled to be home until at least 5:30, and the wake only goes until 7.  As it is a priest and former teacher, I expect there to be quite the crowd, and want to get there earlier.  My mom tells me to bring the kids over to her office.  She'll be leaving about 15 minutes after I drop them off, so they can hang with her until then.  I load up the kids, and head over to her office.  I then fight rush-hour traffic, going from the airport to Clifton Park at 5 pm.  I get to the wake, find my brother, say goodbye to Father Turnbull and am outta there in 20 minutes.  On the way home, the car in front of me kicks up a stone, which cracks my windshield.  Since I was not able to get the car inspected today, I will now need to get that fixed before the end of July so my car can pass inspection.

I get home, and realize that I forgot to pick up Sophia's prescription.  I plead with Pat to go pick it up while I'm cooking dinner.  He must realize that I've had one of those days and goes to CVS.  But then he calls me on the cell.  Never a good sign.  The ENT office called in a prescription for antibiotic ear drops that is not in our insurance plan formulary.  They are $146.  You wouldn't mind, but Sophia had an ear infection (the other ear) 6 weeks ago, and also used antibiotic ear drops.  They were $10 and worked just fine.  Anyway, we have to refuse the prescription, and now I have to figure this out in the morning.  The ENT did the same thing when Sophia had her tubes in two years ago.  They must like the brand name stuff.  But that means Sophia is one more day without the antibiotics.

I almost lost it.  Pat tried to comfort me.  I told him that I totally failed today.  His response was, "Everybody fails sometime."  He's right.  Yesterday was Jessica's day.  Today was mine.  Tomorrow (hopefully) will belong to someone else.

The kids have finally calmed down.  I'm about to crack open a beer.  And I'm posting these pictures of Jessica and I, from times when we were young, not truly sleep-deprived, and without a care in the world.  (Oh yeah, and we were hot).

So Jess, when you get the boys put down, take a fun walk down memory lane with these pictures, know that you're not the only one who has those kind of days, and raise your glass because I'm toasting you all the way from NY.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Now Available In Paperback...

 I spent an incredible 4th of July relaxing with family, but now back to work ...

Good Intentions is now available in paperback.

Let me say that again, and a little more loudly:

Good Intentions is now available in paperback!!!

As exciting and nerve-wracking as it was to publish an e-book, this is even more thrilling.  There is something totally surreal about holding your creation in your hands.  About seeing your name in print.  I took the cover photo while on vacation a few years ago, and seeing that out there is a bit surreal as well.

But it is hard to put yourself out there, just awaiting criticism.  I've received a lot of positive feedback from friends and family (and if you liked the book, please write a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads), but I wonder how the book will be received by someone totally unrelated and unknown to me. I've been biting my fingernails a lot while checking sales and reviews.  I expect this behavior to get worse, as I have a few bloggers who have agreed to review the book for me (thank you!).

I used a company called Create Space to print my book.  They are owned by Amazon, and they are definitely geared towards the self-published/indie authors who are trying to make it on their own.  I have fifty copies ordered for myself so that I can send them out for reviews, as well as try to take them to local bookstores for consignment.

Because I'm doing this on my own, without the benefit of an agent or publicist, I beg you all to keep spreading the word.  Keep forwarding this.  Keep telling your friends.

Right now the paperback version of Good Intentions can be purchased in two locations:  Directly from the CreateSpace e-store or from Amazon.  Through expanded distribution, your local bookstore will be able to order Good Intentions for you, but this may take up to 6 weeks to get going.

To celebrate the paperback release, I'm launching a giveaway on Goodreads.  I've also dropped the price of the Nook version of the e-book to $1.99 for you bargain hunters out there.

Happy reading!