Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Inspirational Jewelry

I love jewelry with a message, and here I am sharing a few of my faves. The first is a ring I´ve been wearing for years since I gave it to myself for Christmas, and that has my kids´ names engraved. They love it!

Nelle and lizzy sterling silver ring that you can customize with your kid or kids´ names or any other word. They also carry charm bracelets and necklaces.

Bel Kai Designs necklaces, especially the one that says “I am enough” . It is part of a motivational movement, and I thought it was a beautiful way to remind ourselves of our self-worth.

The Spanish brand Tous carries pendants for moms. I´m not a fan of their signature bear, which is their logo, but they have some nice stuff.

Silpada Designs also carries motivational jewelry, with messages such as “Follow your dreams” or “Peace within”.

If you have faves of your own, please share!

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Dealing with responsibilities and difficulties

We all go through good and bad stuff and there are times when everything is going well, followed by periods of challenges and difficulties.

I know people who stuff unopened and unpaid bills in a drawer, ignore calls from collectors and even the signs that something is amiss - perhaps their marriage or their kid´s addiction - which requires immediate action.

I have learned that ignoring a physical symptom may result in a life-threatening situation. Men, for instance, are not more macho because they refuse to go to the doctor for chest pain, especially if they have people who love and depend on them.   

I have also learned that everything from parking tickets to credit debt is better dealt with as soon as possible. Postponing implies living in fear of having to face it sooner or later. Of course there are people who are ok with that but in the end it all catches up with them and then they lament their bad luck or  blame it on others.

What difficulties, challenges or responsibilities have you dealt with up until now? Which have you not resolved yet? What are you going to do about it?

I can guarantee that no matter how tough it is, from being unable to pay the mortgage to asking for an extension to file your taxes or negotiate a speeding ticket – some specially common and irritating examples – if you face issues as they arise, you will feel much relief.

When you have no unfinished business, you can focus your energy, time and attention to the things that really matter to you. In fact, you are more free when you face your responsibilities.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Raising two children with Down´s Syndrome

If raising healthy kids is hard at times, raising a child with special needs is a huge challenge. And raising two children with Down´s syndrome would seem like an insurmountable situation.  

However, Eliana Tardío, a mom of two kids with Down´s syndrome not only didn´t buckle under when each of her two darlings were born, but turned it into an opportunity for spiritual growth and to provide information, support and hope to other Latino parents of children with special needs.

Eliana wrote and published two books – one for each child – in which she tells of her experience during her pregnancies and after the birth of her children. She has created a social network for parents of children with Down´s Syndrome , and an online book  in which moms of kids with special needs can participate with their own stories.

It´s been an honor to interview Eliana once again, this time for my section Consejos de mamá, in About.com en español, in which she explains how she deals with daily life as the mom of two small children, both of them with Down´s syndrome. If I ever have a bad day, all I have to do is look at Eliana and her children as a source of inspiration.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Delfín Carbonell, PhD., THE Lexicographer and Philologist

Delfín Carbonell, PhD

The majority of lexicographers – scholars who compile dictionaries - are at the helm of teams of researchers who do the most laborious work.

The most prolific authors also have teams of writers who do the actual writing.  The famous author signs it off and also signs the manuscript. This is not criticism, but a fact.

However, I know of a lexicographer who singlehandedly compiles his own dictionaries – of slang, of idioms, quotes, bilingual and monolingual-. So far he’s published 13, and October will bring his 14th title.

He doesn’t write in seclusion, or in his quiet office at a university, far from the daily grind of common mortals. He also has, by the way, a Dictionary of Cliches, and I’m pretty sure I’ll hear about the one I just used.

Delfín Carbonell Basset weaves the writing of his dictionaries into his daily life. He writes at night or in pockets of time throughout the day. He listens to the way people talk and makes mental and paper notes. He works on his laptop, surrounded by the domestic comings and goings of any household. I don´t know how he does it.

He is the creator of the Unialphabet, in which a bilingual dictionary is not divided into two languages, but sorted alphabetically, just as a monolingual dictionary, which makes it much easier to check.
Besides, Delfín Carbonell is THE philologist of the Spanish TV program Magabusiness, where he explains grammar, pronunciation and other complexities of language with his particular sense of humor, which I’m afraid I may have inherited.

I am an admirer of this scholar, whose passion for language is contagious. I also have the privilege of having direct access to him when I need a fast answer concerning my doubts pertaining language usage, either in English or Spanish, because, he also happens to be bilingual.

I am a writer because I grew up watching Professor Carbonell reading and writing, and I´m bilingual because he devoted time and effort to ensuring all his children spoke two languages.  

It is a privilege to have such a father.

His blogs:

Sobre la lengua inglesa (On the English language)

To know more about my books: www.lorrainecladish.com

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dealing with Domestic Violence

(c) Bioco
A friend told me she was considering going back to her ex-husband. In normal circumstances this would have been happy news, but not in this case. She has three small children, and over time she’s confessed to the following, always toning it down.

He has:

-       Shouted at her when she was sick in bed, because he couldn’t deal with changing the baby’s diapers
-       Grabbed her by the neck and threatened to punch her, while she was holding her baby in her arms
-       Thrown a coffee mug at her
-       Kicked the door open when she was in the shower
-       Come close to her face and yelled at her
-       Told her she wasn’t good enough (over and over)

Some of her excuses for considering getting back together:

-       I’ve never bled or had bruises
-       I feel bad for the kids not being with their dad
-       He apologized and promised not to do it again (but he did)
-       What if I can’t find anyone else?
-       If I were a better wife, he would not be so angry

Physical or verbal violence is never justified, especially if it becomes a way of life.

If your partner does any of the following, you are very likely a victim of domestic violence:

-       Throws things at you when he or she is in a rage
-       Has bouts of jealousy and controls who you see or talk to or where you go
-       Pushes you or hits you
-       Threatens to harm you or the kids
-       Belittles you constantly
-       Shouts at you and/or insults you
-       Forces you to have unwanted sex
-       Apologizes over and over for any of the above and when you forgive him or her, starts all over again

If you are dealing with domestic violence, please call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) as soon as possible, for help and guidance. 

To know more about my books: www.lorrainecladish.com
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Being a Happy Mom

It is Mother´s week! In Spain it was Mother´s day on the first Sunday of May. In the U.S. and some Latin American countries it happens on the second Sunday of May.  

A male friend once said about his mother: “All she´s done in life is be a mom. That´s all”.

It saddened me to hear that comment, because not only was she a mom, but the divorced mom of three kids and if raising children alongside their dad is difficult, doing it alone is even harder.

Being a mom goes hand in hand with wondering whether you´re good enough. It´s genetic, according to what I’ve read, and we moms must learn to go with our instincts and not try to fit into the mold of the perfect mom.

Besides, what does being a perfect mother even mean? Buying your kids the latest electronic gadget? Signing them up to endless extracurricular activities? Baking cupcakes from scratch? Giving in to their every whim?

Let’s give ourselves a break and stop comparing ourselves with other moms. If you wonder whether you are a good mom, you most likely are!

Find ways to enjoy motherhood and be happy, because you deserve it. Being a mom that spends time with her kids and gives them her undivided attention regularly – especially in this day and age, when time is a luxury – is a huge success. Never doubt that!

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To know more about my books: www.lorrainecladish.com
If you speak Spanish, see my tips for moms at Consejos de Mamá at About.com

Monday, May 2, 2011

On Writing and Publishing

As a writer I’m always interested in how other writers deal with their craft and the publishing life, and that’s why I’m posting the interview here. I hope it helps! The questions in this interview are by Justin Ryan Schwan, and the answers are mine.

- How many books have you published, and what are some of them about? So far, I’ve published 16 books and just signed a contract for the 17th,  which is already written, but I need to revise. Two are novellas and the others are non-fiction, covering subjects that I find interesting and that I can write about from experience, such as eating disorders, relationships, pregnancy and child-rearing and of course, writing and publishing!

- What is your favorite topic to write about?
I don’t have a favorite topic. I do have a favorite voice, hopefully unpretentious and to the point.

- When you were growing up did you ever imagine yourself as an author?
I don’t remember. I grew up around books. My grandfather wrote and had his own small publishing press. His brother was a linguist and a writer. My father is also an author. I watched both my dad and my grandfather write all the time. My dad helped me publish my own 4-page magazine when I was around 7. My younger sister did the drawings. Alas, my dad wanted me to be a marine biologist. But, I chose to write.

- Was writing something you worked for or did you fall into it?
Perhaps writing fell into me. I didn’t question it. It took me a while to actually decide to write for publication. That happened when I was 29. Until then, I wrote aimlessly. One day I realized that I needed to get a certain story off my chest or I would remain forever blocked. That was my struggle with an eating disorder. I wrote it in three weeks, and in less than one month I had three or four publishing contracts to choose from. My first book was published when I was 30. I never stopped writing and publishing after that.

- How has speaking two languages affected your writing career?
I lived in Spain when I started publishing, so it made sense to continue to write and publish in Spanish. I was there to promote my books on TV, for example. When I moved to the US in 2004 I wondered if I would finally dare write in English for publication, but to this day I get more meaningful gigs in Spanish.
Last year I finally wrote the rough draft of my first novel in English. I feel more confident about it now that I live here, surrounded by the language. My English has always been a little too “proper”, having attended a British school, and I wasn’t familiar with the day-to-day American slang that makes writing more fluid.

- Do your books sell better in English or in Spanish?
My books are all in Spanish and other languages that include Portuguese, Czech and Catalan. I will get back to you on this one when I publish my chick-lit and YA novels that I’m working on! That’s my next big challenge.

- Is the book industry very different in either culture?
Somewhat. In Spain you didn’t need an agent until recently, and even then … I’ve worked with and without agents and the main difference is that the agent usually gets you a bigger advance. There is a lot less editing work done on books in Spanish than in English. I haven’t heard of or experienced Spanish publishers trying to change a story or working on a book alongside the author for a year. They mostly let the author do his or her thing. This is a double-edged sword.

- How has motherhood affected your writing career?
It’s given me new material for my books: one on pregnancy and two on creative parenting. Other than that, I finished writing my first published novel the night before my first daughter was born, and when she was a year old, I checked into a hotel for three days to work on it. I´ve written on a deadline with my kids napping or crawling under the table. I´m a writer. Now I´m also a mom, but if I respect myself as a writer, I know that makes me a better mom. My kids are already great readers at 6 and 9 years old. I also got a steady gig at about.com because I´m a mom and because I´ve written books about being a mom!

- What are the challenges of raising children and writing?
Similar challenges as with living and writing. Before kids I was always juggling free-lance work as a translator and interpreter with my own writing. I’ve written through life’s ups and downs, being single, married and divorced, with and without children. Life is always going to happen, and it better happen doing what you want to do.

- Have you ever faced adversity in publishing—dealing with an agent, editor, or publisher?
Many times! From being told that there was a flood in the warehouse and therefore no royalties from the copies that were affected to having my name misspelled on the cover, I could write a book about publishing anecdotes. I take them in stride and I don’t get bitter about any of it. I write because I want to and it’s up to me to deal with it all. I’m lucky to be publishing at all and to be paid vs. paying for being published. 

- Who inspired you most in writing? How so?
All the authors I read when I was a kid, from Nabokov to Poe. I don’t think or philosophize about that too much! I’d rather write. I’m a doer.

- How do you structure your days? Are you a strict disciplinarian or are you flexible with life?
I write like I run: I’m committed for life. I don’t need to discipline myself to do it – I make the time, but I’m flexible. I used to write at night before I had kids. Now I write when I can.

- What are your methods for meeting a deadline?
I´m not a procrastinator. I usually finish long before a deadline. I don´t like the feeling of unfinished business, so I tackle things as they arise. Making a living as a freelancer taught me that.

- What do you tell up and coming authors?
To write as much as possible, even if you feel it´s bad. I taught creative writing for a few years, after my kids were born, just to get out of the house and interact with other adults. I believe that if you don´t have any material to improve upon, you will continue to put off writing until you can do it well enough, and if you don’t write, that day will never come.

- What do you tell yourself about writing, and handling the ups and downs?
I´ve been writing for publication for 18 years now and know that most of the highs and lows are in my head. One day you feel that you are a pretty good writer, and the next, you know you suck. I used to think the next book would be the one to bring in the big bucks, the huge recognition, eternal happiness … But of course it never is. Now I mostly try to keep writing and enjoy the ride. I´m grateful that not being a 9-5 job kind of person, I´ve made it this far in life as a free-lance writer and translator. I get to run on the beach when others are working, but then on the weekend I may need to choose writing over hanging out with friends.

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