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Mama Interrupted January 6, 2009

Posted by emsgeiss in Humor & Satire, parenting & family.
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Interruptions. They seem to punctuate parenthood. They also seem to punctuate working from home. The phone rings at the most inopportune moment, the spouse calling (or texting) to inform you that they have to stay late at the office, the bell rings during the toddler’s elusive  nap time, the call of “Mama, Mama, come play with me” interrupts the train of Pulitzer-winning thought that was flowing effortlessly from your fingers to the keyboard, and so on.  Those are among the basic, daily interruptions that  many of us contend with in one way or another. Then there are the big life interruptions: illness, death, pregnancy, going into labor, airport delays, war, severe storms and blackouts … oh yeah, and the holidays, which as much as we might anticipate them, do seem to interrupt life’s usual rhythm of chaos.

For us, the holidays and the end of 2008 were marked by a series of some of these “big”  interruptions (thankfully, none of them too tragic), but definetely enough to have 2008 end for us with neither a bang nor a whimper, but more of a dull thud that resonated into 2009  much like the overtone series or the series of ripples on a pond after being upset by the smallest of pebbles.  Actually, I’ve been Mama Interrupted for the greater part of the fall and winter, so it only seems befitting that this state of being should have carried into the holidays.

The holidays started with delusions of stress-free normalcy: cleaning and decorating for Christmas (no we’re not the decorate-the-house-and-string-the-lights-the-day-after-Thanksgiving family);  getting to the market; shopping for the The Boy’s last Christmas as an only child; getting out holiday cards, and the litany of other pre-holiday preparations.

But Mama isn’t the only factor involved. There are also The Husband, The Boy, the “baby” and the Fates.  Apparently my Muse went on vacation — perhaps to Hawaii to hang with the Obamas and the press corp — and left me with her cousins, the Fates, who thought that it would be all too much fun to mess with me and my grand plans for organization, to get ahead on work, research my next opus and make plans for our new schedule once the husband takes his newly elected post.)

The Fates tinkered with me. They decided to toss in a heaping table spoonful of snowstorms and for added flavor, two dashes of tiny colds — one for me and one for The Boy. For The Boy, this was but a mere inconvenience of having Mama chase him with tissues to remove the shiny gel cascading from his nostrils onto his upper lip. For Mama, it only added to the exhaustion of being pregnant while chasing after a toddler with said tissues, and fully determined to not make The Boy’s last singleton Christmas not suck.  Meanwhile, our house lay in limbo between campaign-aftermath and the holiday season as The Fates toyed with schedules and extra pre-vacation committments for The Husband, and needing to also prepare for his local swearing-in ceremony scheduled for New Year’s Day.

We managed to make Christmas and The Boy was elated. But this effort did not go without punishment from The Fates. The lovely ladies decided to knock me on my ass — well, more like flat on my back — allowing the effects of their simmering brew to take full effect.The day after Christmas, I was really sick. But that was not enough for those playful ladies … oh no! They decided that The Boy’s naps should also take a vacation, and that The Husband should bring home work.  I had no choice but to let them have their fun — the three dancing around me with great zeal and choreographing in counterpoint to their own dance, a pas de deux between my two children — the elder singing “Mama, Mama” every few moments, imploring me to join him on the floor with his cars, the one within me using my thimple-sized bladder as a bosu ball. All the while The Husband clickety-clacked on the computer, occasionally chanting to The Boy, “let Mama rest.”

“What next?”  The trio of tricksters asked each other. Perhaps, a black-out. (The sisters are quite fond of drama.) And thus storms ensued along with what for us was nearly two days without power, and initial forecasts from DTE that it could be several days before everyone was back up and running at full capactiy.  Ironically, only a mile away, my sister-in-law was spared from the darkness, so we went there … but not without my Muse’s sitters for me in tow.  Excited to be with his cousins twice in nearly as many days, The napless Boy wanted no part of bedtime, and did everything in his power to avoid it. (The Fates, by the way, like to share their fun, and did so with a greater portion of the area.)

Our power was restored (along with the phone and Internet), but not without leaving us to have to reboot and renetwork everything and a two-day frenzy of making preparations for The Husband’s big event, planning orignally scheduled for the period of time when we were without power. (Oh joy, oh bliss! The Fates giggled as their dance became an all-out jig.) My darling sitters gave me enough energy to make it through New Year’s and the Husband’s big event … but decided next to prey on The Boy as a parting gift for me in anticpation of the Muse’s return from her hiatus. By Saturday night, The Boy had a fever. By this morning, he was too sick to resume daycare, an event I was anticipating eagerly so that I could return to my work and the beginning of our new schedule — one that I’d planned to get a handle on during the holidays and when The Husband was on “vacation.”

Each attempt to gain clarity and regain control became more elusive as the Fates insisted that at every turn, Mama was to be inter—

Hang on, I hear a fuss from upstairs. (It’s all good — The Husband’s on it.)

While interruptions happen, I’ve decided that the Muse left me in the hands of  her cousins, to create a grand finale of interruptions to mark the end of a very interesting 2008 and start of 2009 wherein Mama will weather the interruptions better and be more focused, creative and constructive in doing so.  So instead of the interrupted resolutions list started before we lost power, for 2009, I think I will sum up as having an overarching theme. One that is for a new sense of discipline — in spite of the interruptions that may come flying at me. The Twisted Sisters can go play with someone else for a while — and when they’re back for more fun and games, I’ll be ready for them.

© 2009 Erika-Marie S. Geiss

Shiny! Book Launch and Signing Party! October 17, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in writing/editing/blogging.
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It’s official.

My latest book, The Right Words for Any Occasion is out, and tomorrow (Saturday, October 18) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Heritage Perk Coffee House in Taylor, Mich. is the Book Launch and Signing Party.

Book launches and signing parties being what they are, it usually means that you have to be at a physical bricks-and-mortar location to join in, which in this case is true too, unless that is, if you’re hundreds or thousands of miles (or oceans) away.

So what’s a girl to do, when she really wants to share the fun with her friends and family who are far away? She streams the event live on the Web, so that everyone who wants to be at the signing and launch who wants to but can’t be there can still be there virtually. It’s no Second Life, but it’ll just have to do.

The good thing is that the virtual attendees will still be able to get signed copies-if they purchase theirs before Sunday, October 19 at Midnight (Eastern time).  And … there’ll be a bonus gift give-away at the signing, which one lucky random Web participant will also get. How will the Web-winner be chosen? Simple…post a comment during the Live Broadcast of the Signing, and one of the commenters will be chosen by whomever wins the give-away at the live event


It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Purchase your copy of The Right Words for Any Occasion – The handy guide for your letter writing needs for social, personal and business correspondence. Purchase before midnight Sunday, October 19 and you will receive a signed copy as part of the Book Launch and Signing Party. Purchase Here
  2. Tune in tomorrow, Saturday, October 18 starting at 2 p.m. Eastern time to join the fun ’til 4 p.m. Where? Here.
  3. Comment during the live broadcast and be entered to win the matching bonus gift give-away at the signing party at Heritage Perk. What can you win? A mini starter stationary wardrobe, of course. (Now you have to get the book to find out what I’m talking about.) (Specific commenting/gift eligibility rules will be posted right before the event.)

Hope to see you there (or here) tomorrow, Saturday, October 18 between 2 and 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
(And for you Wolverine fans…don’t worry, the event ends before Kick Off!)

The Smart One: A Blogstop Book Tour Book Review August 8, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in writing/editing/blogging.
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Relationships. At its core, that is what Ellen Meister’s The Smart One is about. Through non-stop action and descriptive language that not only puts you in the scenes physically, but emotionally, Meister unravels a spellbinding story with wit and panache. Starting in media res, living through protagonist Bev’s interview for a position that could take her out of life-long home of New York for a fresh start—away from the disappointments and distractions created from a lifetime of trying to live up to the labels and expectations of her parents, her sisters—and even herself. Bev, the middle child, was labeled as “the smart one,” nestled between Claire—”the pretty one” with the “perfect” life: wife, mother, Soccer Mom extraordinaire, and Joey—”the wild child”—a recovering addict and former one-hit-wonder rock star. All three sisters love each other tremendously, but cannot seem to escape the bounds of the labels created for them or the sibling rivalry.

A strange twist of fate that has Bev house sitting her childhood neighbors’ home while she awaits news about her new job also reconnects her with old neighborhood friend Kenny Waxman (and son of the same neighbors). Kenny and Bev have a history themselves, one which in itself is complicated, especially as Kenny struggles with his own family-expectations issues and adds yet another dimension to the connection between past, present and future.  Bev returning to her childhood home on Long Island serves to upset that strange balance of family (and neighborhood) dysfunction that many of us know all too well.  Kenny and Bev, back home for the same mission (to help sell Kenny’s parent’s home) leads to an accidental journey of discovery to unravel the mysteries hidden in an industrial drum found in the Waxman’s crawl space — mysteries that serve to disrupt the appearances that suburban life tries to maintain as a decaying pregnant corpse is revealed as the drum’s contents. Bev, her sisters and Kenny end up unraveling the secrets and mysteries of the quad’s own former lives, those of their families and sheds light on where each may be  heading as individuals.

Meister’s characters are strangely real — as if you’ve met them before, and the storyline moves well, urging you to turn the next page for more. The Smart One is a perfect read for the end of the summer, and one that’s certain to become among those that you pick up and read again … and again … and again.

The Smart One is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Booksense and Borders. To learn more about Ellen Meister and her previous work Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA, visit her Web site at www.EllenMeitser.com. The Smart One is published by Avon an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Smart One
by Ellen Meister
NewYork: Avon/HarperCollins, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-06-112963-9

This book review is part of the BlogStop Book Tours book review series for The Smart One . Visit BlogStop Book Tours to learn more.

Future stops on The Smart One book tour are:

To read the reviews at the previous stops on The Smart One book tour, visit:


What *not* to write (and why) June 8, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, networking, writing/editing/blogging.
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The nature of blogs is such that commentary and dialog can occur. Most of the time, such conversations are good, even when there is criticism. Criticism can, in its best form, generate further conversation whether with the post originator or among other commenters. It can also provide food for thought and in some cases a perspective shift, or at the very least a “hmm, hadn’t thought of it that way before,” even if one is unyielding on their stance or opinion.

Here’s where it gets murky. (more…)

Look Ma, No Clones! June 5, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, Humor & Satire, networking, WAHM/WAHD Stuff, writing/editing/blogging.
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Today, I can be in several places at once…and I didn’t even have to be cloned. Woo!

Can you tell I’m just a little punchy after being up very late because of the WAH Expo after-hours party? What happens when a bunch of work-at-home professionals kick back, let loose and enable the web cams? Crazy karaoke, that’s what. All I can say is: “Jazz Hands.”

Thankfully, though anything that I wrote prior to that is lucid, which you can view in the following places.

(I have been a busy, busy little bee.)

Join me at MediaPost.com in the Digital Editions group that I started. Let’s talk about digital magazines (a pet project and love of mine)…is print dead? I think not, but digital’s the wave of the future. Sign up and join in the discussion…you can be a digital edition professional or a reader…let’s talk!

Join me at MetroMode Media, where, for the next week, I am the featured Guest Blogger.

And, you can get a double dose of your Erika fix today at the THIRD & FINAL DAY of Business and Learning’s SPRING WAH Expo.

At 1 p.m. Eastern time, I’ll be speaking about theWAHMmagazine, the only content-driven digital magazine for work-at-home parents and at 9 p.m. Eastern time, as a featured speaker I’ll be speaking about how editors are important to the small business owner, especially the work-at-home professional. But, it’s not just about me…there are many amazing presentations throughout the day along with networking and fun. And speaking of networking don’t miss Jennifer Gniadecki‘s talk about Non-toxic Networking, at 8 p.m. eastern, tonight’s other featured speaker.

View schedule.

Enter conference room.


Copyright © 2008, Erika-Marie S. Geiss

Tools of the trade June 1, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, writing/editing/blogging.
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There are many tools that writers (and editors) use regularly. Staples in their bags of tricks are of course, paper, writing implements (many of them), style guides like the AP and Chicago and MLA manuals, correction tape, dictionaries and thesauruses and of course, the phone, computer and printer. Technology has certainly made the life of writers and editors much easier, the Internet allowing us to maintain constant contact (and incessantly check e-mail) and send and receive submissions with greater speed if not ease. It also means that we can network with one another more effectively, supporting one another and nurturing our craft from miles and timezones apart, going beyond the traditional in-person groups and salons. (That’s “salon” in the old sense, not the place where many of us wish we had time for touch-ups and pedicures.) Oh yeah, and we have an outlet for sharing the fruit of our creative juices, that might not be fit for traditional publication in extemporaneous writing on our personal blogs.

As a technogeek of sorts, I find that there are just some things I cannot live without, that go well beyond my arsenal of resources, laptop and DSL. Things like my headset, scanner and the external half-Terabyte hard-drive, which amazingly, between photos and files, will need to be upgraded much sooner than originally anticipated.

So imagine my surprise when my husband relayed a recent experience with a reporter. Scheduled for an interview, he arrived at his appointment. Now being married to a writer, who’s also a stringer for her local paper, he’s got a leg up on many other non-writers who would have been in a similar situation. Knowing that he would need to supply a head shot at the very least, he took it with him, in the event that the staff photographer was not scheduled to be at the interview. Many people would have arrived with physical copies of the photo and other graphic materials that might be needed, something that while is better than a photocopy, I hear from some professional graphic designers that I know, can still be a bit of an annoyance. And since my husband is also a bit of a technogeek, he arrived with his materials not on disk, but on a flash drive.

But back to the crux of his story. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the reporter had forgotten about the appointment and had to reschedule, she was shocked when he presented the flash drive to her. “I’ve never seen one of those before,” she told him. Now being technogeeks, both of us realize that we might be just a tiny bit more aware about “new technology” than others, especially if there’s a generation gap. (Not that flash drives can be described as “new.”) I asked him if that was the case. Nope. The twenty-something reporter was unfamiliar with a little tool of the trade, that as a writer, I find as essential as any of the other supplies that were enumerated at the beginning—the USB 2.0 portable flash drive. They’re pretty nifty little devices, aren’t they?

Portable flash drive


So, writers … what are your essential tools of the trade? Speak up and chime in by posting a comment.

Copyright © 2008, Erika-Marie S. Geiss

The pen war May 13, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in mommyfest, parenting & family, toddlers, writing/editing/blogging.
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I‘ve always had a great love for pens — all writing utensils, actually. Even from young, there was something about having a good pen that ranked among one of life’s important necessities. And while a perfectly sharpened, brand-new No. 2 pencil was a joy to write with, the pen was supreme. Make it a fountain pen and I was all a-tingle. Perhaps, it was a sign that I was destined to be a writer. Perhaps I was just a freak. Maybe both.

One can imagine then, the great pride I take in selecting my manual writing tools, even the mundane ones for daily writing tasks.

Both my husband and son are also quite enamored with my pens.

(more…)

What this mother’s day means to me May 11, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, networking, parenting & family, WAHM/WAHD Stuff, writing/editing/blogging.
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Oooh! Ahhhh! Another Mother’s Day meme. Today, the blogosphere’s probably chock full of them. But beyond being a mama, and celebrating my third Mother’s Day with my husband and son, this Mother’s Day also marks an important anniversary for me in my writing career.

A year ago, my Mother’s Day gift from my husband was a set of books. Not just any books, mind you … I got the Deluxe Edition of the 2007 edition of the Writer’s Market and Christina Katz’ Writer Mama, and a couple of other writing resources. Nothing that sparked or shone when the light hit it just right. Nothing to make other women wonder “if he got it a Jared.” But they were things that were more valuable and precious than any new piece of raw hunk of crystal or ore harvested from the earth and then transformed into something pretty. (Not that I don’t like jewelry … don’t get me wrong.) (more…)

Five things about this mom May 11, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in networking, parenting & family, writing/editing/blogging.
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This week is MommyFest — a week-long virutal conference and blog party. It’s also MommyFest’s fifth birthday. One of the blog party activities is a mom meme, five things about me.

So, here goes… (more…)

The Right Words… May 10, 2008

Posted by emsgeiss in Business Issues, writing/editing/blogging.
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Shiny! Or soon to be, anyway. My next book is now officially out of my hands and off to the printer. The Right Words for Any Occasion will be available in the fall. It’s my third book and second solely authored work. The book is about letter writing and other correspondence that most people will need throughout their lives. I know what you’re thinking…uh oh…another writing reference book. (more…)