Taking a bow

Don’t think of this as good-bye.

Well, okay, maybe a little.

Friends, after months of periodically mulling things over, noodling, waffling, and otherwise staring into space for extended periods of time I’ve decided it’s time to end my run here at One-Woman Show. For over two years I’ve shared my tales of juggling life, laundry and love, and blogging has been a part of this juggling. But in the last six months or so I’ve realized how important it is for me to simplify my life a bit more, or at least to focus my time and energy a little differently. And with that comes choices.

For now, I’m choosing to focus on new — and renewed — pursuits instead of blogging:

Like writing a new humor column at The Imperfect Parent!

I’ve spent the last year dishing about single parenting and divorce in my Dinner for One column, but it’s time to change focus, particularly because my single days are winding down. (Woohoo!) So, I pitched an idea to the editor for a new yet-to-be-titled humor column and he liked it. I’ll be starting in late June so check back here or at the Imperfect Parent website for more details!

Like writing and submitting articles, essays…and, eventually, another novel.

I didn’t discover a love of writing until my late 30’s; I didn’t discover blogging until 2007. I’ve often wished I’d made these discoveries earlier in life, but now I understand (or at least begrudgingly admit) they came into my life at exactly the right time.

This blog has helped me find my voice and hone my writing style. It’s also opened up writing opportunities for me — other potential blogging gigs, my first column — plus helped me connect with potential agents, authors, writers, and, yes, readers like you whose feedback and friendship I value so much.

What I haven’t spent as much time doing as I’d like to is writing outside of OWS. I’m excited to change gears now and do more pitching and submissions. Build my portfolio. Collect those clips. Get more paying gigs! Start work on Novel #2.

I don’t know how or where this will all go, but I have confidence it will go somewhere.

I want to (or maybe I have to?) give it a go.

Like volunteering — through blogging!

Yes, you read that right. I’m combining my interest in non-profits and writing by helping to start a blog for HEARTH, a great organization I’ve been involved with for about 5 years. HEARTH helps up to 15 single moms and their children find their footing again – through safe housing, mentoring, parenting and life skills classes — plus a lot of hard work on the women’s part. I hope I can keep up with them as an occasional guest contributor.

Like spending time away from the computer.

Despite all I’ve written about, well, writing, I’m looking forward to spending more time outdoors, more time exercising (because I’m actually exercising again!) and just enjoying more of life with the wonderful people in my life.

That’s what I really want to do when the curtains close.

Oh, there is one other thing.

 

 

Heh. I’ve always wanted to say that (and it’s true). 😉

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for reading and sharing your comments here.

I’ve loved blogging at OWS and wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself blogging again someday. In the meantime, I’m linking to some of my favorite posts below. Please enjoy them… and see you real soon around town or the internet!

Susan

Best in Show / Vintage Susan/ One Woman’s Favorites to Write:

I Will Beat Myself Silly with a Limp Lizard (One of my all-time favs!)

Scenes Not from an Italian Restaurant

Italian Genes Do Not Equal la Dolce Vita

Query Me This A really fun one to write. Seriously, I cracked myself up.

Party Moms Gone Mad

Complicated Like This

This is My Life

Take A Flying Leap (or Watch Me Take One) Probably the last time you’ll see me jump out of a plane on purpose!

You Tarzan Me Be Jane

Embarrassing Dating Tales I: Mothballs and Me

And MORE Embarrassing Dating Tales: Dwight Was Right (oh, and these are just the “best” tales – oy!)

Wake Me Up Before You BloNoGoGo – A pseudo tribute to NanoWriMo…and if you don’t know what that is, well, never mind

My Life in Poetry (or Not)

Dating and the Patience is a Virtue Experiment

Better yet, when my patience finally paid off:

A Blog, A Law and a Little Luck – Part I

…and Part II (yeah, it’s good 🙂 )

Best Intentions

You know I’m not a professional book reviewer, but I do love reading fiction. So I jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of Emily Listfield’s latest novel, Best Intentions.

I read the book while vacationing in Arizona, and J. commented to me more than once that I seemed to be really into it. I was. Like last year’s Waiting to Surface, I found Best Intentions to be an intelligent and compassionate story of domestic drama, with complex relationships (this time involving not just romantic and family relationships, but those of longtime friends) and even a bit of murder!

What more could you want for a good summer — or in my case, springtime — read?

I thought one of the most interesting aspects of the book is how each of the main characters pushes (and pushes) the boundaries of trust with the others, all in the name of, you guessed it, having the best of intentions — or what they rationalize as good intentions — with ultimately disastrous results. Methinks this might be why Emily has been called a “master of domestic suspense.” Good call!

I asked Emily a bit more about her motivations and intentions in writing the book:

In Waiting to Surface you delved into the “secret life” of the main character’s husband, who had disappeared and was presumed dead. In Best Intentions the protagonist, Lisa, discovers secrets about her husband, Sam, her daughters and close circle of friends. You seem drawn to the idea of discovery and that we may not really understand or know those closest to us. Why?

Emily: You’re right, I have always been fascinated by the question: How well do you really know the people you love? I think it’s a universal dilemma that can play out in small ways as well as larger ones. For instance, the Craigslist Killer in the news lately: His girlfriend swears he is a ‘beautiful person inside and out’ – but clearly she sees a different side of him than the rest of the world.

We’d all like to think we’d know better, but if you look at his picture you see a kind of preppy ordinary guy. This is an extreme example of course, but one of the mysteries of human relationships is how unpredictable they are. The unanswered questions can draw us closer or tear us apart , deepen love or destroy it – but either way, they are the drama in all of our lives.

“Keeping up with the Jones’s” and job worries are other themes of the book – and the cause of worry and tension between Lisa and Sam, although they don’t talk openly about their fears. Did you include the financial pressures to bring in an element of the economic here and now, or for other reasons?

Emily: I started writing Best Intentions two years ago, before the economic crisis really hit. I have always been interested in social stratification and I suppose I have been particularly aware of it as a downtown single mom/writer with a daughter in a very uptown chi-chi school in Manhattan. I believe, too, that financial pressures are a huge source of stress in relationships and I wanted to explore that in an honest way. By the time I finished writing the novel, the recession had arrived in full force. As I revised the galleys I was able to make the book even more relevant as the characters begin to worry about losing their jobs, deal with money envy, and in the end learn to appreciate what is truly important.

By the end of the story Lisa has learned a lot about her family and friends, some things she never would have imagined. What do you think she learned about herself?

Emily: I think Lisa has learned the real danger of assuming that you know what the person you love is thinking. Without true communication, it is easy to jump to the wrong conclusions. You may act with the best intentions to make someone happy, but without asking the right questions, it can have dreadful results.

This question is always on my mind (and a lot of my single parent – heck, married parent — readers): how in the world do you juggle a successful career as a novelist (and book promoter!), freelance writer and being a mom?

Speaking of being a mom, now that your daughter is older, does she read your books? What does she think – particularly when you write about a character’s daughters?!

Emily: It’s a constant juggling act. All I can say is, give up on the idea of perfection! It is certainly easier now that my daughter is 15 and more independent. You have to be flexible, though. Some days I have to give up on the idea of writing fiction because of a school meeting/deadline/meeting in the office. Some days I can write all day, some for twenty minutes. I have admit, I often have the feeling that no matter what I’m doing I should be doing something else. I’d like to conquer that. And no, my daughter has not read any of my books. I think she’s scared to!

What’s next for you?

Emily: I’m working on a new book about the collision of politics and family secrets – the right to privacy versus the public’s right to know – with some good juicy scandals thrown in!

To learn more about Emily and Best Intentions check out her website, or read more and buy the book now.

Did I ever tell you you’re my hero?

I was perusing blogs on Sunday evening and Anthony’s post at Bricks and Boxes caught my eye. He’d made himself a superhero – how cool is that?! (Perhaps my exposure to J. and his large, oh-so-painfully large comic book collection is rubbing off on me.)

I just had to go to The Hero Factory site to come up with my own.

First, I made her:

Looks nothing like me, but she rocks, no?

Who doesn’t love a gal wearing an eye patch and toting big guns, I ask?

No one, that’s who!

But then I decided to create a kick-ass heroine a bit more like myself…

…you know, if you take away the cat mask, big boobs, flat abs and the ability to wear white spandex AWESOMELY.

Heh.

Try it out for yourself. Thanks, Anthony!

(Note that when I load the site, the page looks like it’s partially cut off. Right click on the home page image and select “Show All” from the menu. That should do the trick. If it doesn’t let me know and I’ll come over and laser whip that bad boy for you. Booya!)

Navigating and Negotiating in Single Parentland

Right before I left for my trip last week I was pleased to learn that Modern Single Momma, founder of iheartsingle parents*, had named me one of her picks for single parent bloggers “to watch.” (Not in a creepy way, though; just because she likes our stuff.) I can’t believe I’m in such great company — truly. Thanks, MSM!

Speaking of single parenting, this month at the Imperfect Parent I write about the art of negotiation when you’re on your own. Check it out and let me know, you mahvelous single parents, you – how do you negotiate for the things most important to you and your kids?

It was a little chihuly to start…

I’m back from my trip to Phoenix, actually got back on Sunday night — and almost immediately got hit with the reality of being back to work, kids, more wedding planning (although it’s almost all squared away now), my ImperfectParent essay (due like, now, and still not finished) and back in the Eastern time zone. Wow, those 3 hours can make a difference!

We packed a lot, lot into the trip — sightseeing, hiking/walking, visiting, a family wedding — but it was worth it. The funny thing, though, is after all my talk about the sun and warmth, the first two days we were there were kind of, well, cold. Last Wednesday it was in the high 60’s, overcast and windy. Not at all what I expected. Thank goodness it warmed up by the weekend.

Here’s a quick summary:

1. We visited the wonderful Desert Botanical Garden,…

…which was exhibiting the unique glass sculptures of Dale Chihuly – very, very cool!

There was even a butterfly garden.

2. I saw my college roomie again! We may be sporting a few more wrinkles (and me definitely a few more pounds), but still lovely, if I say so myself. (Sorry, I was too lazy to dig out an old photo for comparison. You’ll have to trust me that we’re still quite lovely almost 20 years later.)

3. J. really likes architecture and wanted to visit Taliesin West, which was Frank Lloyd Wright’s escape from his Wisconsin winters. It was worth the trip to see it. I love the idea of FLW’s organic building and architecture philosophy — a man truly ahead of his time.

Ironically, I live fairly close to Fallingwater, but have never been there in my 14 years in this area.

Coincidentally, J., the kids and I are going to Fallingwater in 2 weeks. I’m psyched!

4. Friday morning it had warmed up to maybe the high 70’s/low 80’s — it was the day we planned to hike up Piestewa Peak, formerly known as Squaw Peak. (The park was renamed after fallen soldier Lori Piestewa, a native of Arizona who died in Iraq in 2003 during the same attack in which her friend Jessica Lynch was injured.)

Maybe if I had realized that, according to Azcentral.com, “The [1.2 mile] Summit Trail has an average grade of 19 percent and probably has more stairs than most people climb in months. You hike from about 1,400 to 2,600 feet…and “Level of difficulty: Difficult” (the red thrown in for effect), I wouldn’t have ventured up at all.

But I didn’t read any of that before, so off — up — we went.

As it was, we made it 1 mile up, maybe a little over, to what I think is referred to as the “fake summit.” At that point the terrain was too rocky for us to feel safe continuing in sneakers. (Read: ill-prepared tourists.) Climbing up those last steps I could see the GD REAL motherf’in summit still above us — with people literally pulling themselves up over rocks — and had a minor panic attack. I wasn’t so worried about continuing up (ok, yes I was — it was way more like rock climbing than hiking the “paved path” I had envisioned, particularly when we were close to the top), but I was even more freaked out about how we were going to make our way back down — without twisting an ankle, falling face-first on a sharp rock or plain ol’ falling right off the side of the mountain.

I should mention that when I was a teen my family went to Cancun, Mexico, and we traveled to see the famous Mayan ruins and pyramid of Chichen Itza . I was the only one in the family who dared to climb the pyramid (when they allowed it), zipping right up those steep-steep steps — only to get to the top, turn around and realize I was standing on a relatively narrow ledge with nothing to prevent me from toppling over.

It was like in the cartoons or movies when you see someone flatten themselves against the wall!

That’s kind of how I felt as I thought about getting back down the trail.

But I’m so glad and proud of myself that I did it. Quite a workout, I might add.

A view from near the summit:

Me, the goofy, sweaty pseudo-hiker (note tourist camera slung across me) at MY summit:

Here’s a desert chipmunky-kind of creature that I was making noises at when we stopped to rest on the way back down. I stopped making the cute noises when said creature started coming at us full speed. I was either communing with nature really well, or it was rabid. (Or it was likely it thought we had food, but that’s not as exciting to report.)

(BTW, I ended up basically scooting down Chichen Itza on my butt. I’m proud to say I did not have to resort to that on this little outing.)

5. Dobbins Lookout of the South Mountains was our last sight-seeing stop before the wedding, which was why we were in AZ in the first place. Fortunately, we drove up to get the view: 😉

Sun-shiny days

I’m a bit freaked out at the moment. I’m working half a day today (and you can see how well that’s going with my typing here) and I have a ton of stuff to do this p.m., including packing. Why, you ask? (if I could hear you ask…wait, that’s not a yawn, is it?)…

I’m jetting off to Phoenix tomorrow to attend a wedding this weekend!

J. and I decided to go out a few days before to visit with my college roommate and also J.’s friend — both who gave up four-seasons living for the year-round sun.

I’ve always liked the change of seasons, but seeing that the kids and I were freezing in our springy Easter gear I’m thinking it might be overrated. We’ll see! It’s the only thing that will get me through the torment and anxiety of deciding what to pack…and then the torment of lugging that freakin’ bag, which inevitably I will stuff with unnecesary items “just in case,” down to my car. Imagine what it’s like when I have to pack for cold weather. Sheesh.

Y’all have a good rest of the week. Now, bring on the sun!

“Man, he’s good!”

The kids woke me up this morning at about 7, but their enthusiasm to find what Easter Bunny hid overnight was catching; I practically bounded out of bed, too.

Kids grow up so fast these days, I’m thankful that T-Rex, age 7 1/2, and Drama Girl, age 9 1/2, still believe in the power and joy of all things magical. And, I’m glad they came equipped for the challenge:

As I watched them search the house I heard them exclaim, “Man, he’s good!” and “That Easter bunny dude is really tricky!” The only downside with EB being so darned good at hiding those Easter baskets is that I killed time by eating way too many of those M&Ms and jelly beans he left.  😉

Hope you’re having a great Easter/Sunday in your neck of the woods!