I Changed My Mind, the Internet is Awesome: 7 Quick Takes XVIII

Two weeks ago, I had a quick take about how the internet can bring out the worst in people. But this week, oh THIS week, the internet has brought out the best in us. The fundraiser that Cari is running for Dwija is hands-down the awesomest thing I have been a part of since I joined the blogging world almost seven whole months ago.
I keep clicking back over to the update page to smile and smile and smile as the total keeps going up and up and up. And it happened because, on the internet, people from all over the world and from all walks of life can find each other and share the things we love: like parenting, and books and movies, and our Catholic faith, and stories about poop (about that, would you guys all please stop, please? . . . where was I? oh yeah . . .), and the best things in our lives, and the hardest things. And somehow, just sharing it makes it better. But when that's not enough, sometimes people will send you $7,000 so you can fix your laundry room. Three cheers for the blogosphere: hip, hip, hooray! And if you haven't donated yet, there's still time. The fundraiser ends on Sunday, so don't delay. You don't want to miss this chance to be a part of the awesome. It's okay, you can go over there now. I'll be here when you get back.
this is exactly what it looks like when I'm writing, except for everything
I'm on track with my writing goals for the novel, which really feels great, and it's due in no small part to the advice I got here, from Rachel Aaron, thanks to Jennifer's spectacularly-timed 3rd quick take last week.
The bad news is I have nothing new to report on Netflix streaming, since I haven't watched anything in as long as I've been an aspiring novelist (nor have I made much progress on either of the two books I've been trying to read, North and South and Kristin Lavransdatter) because I am trying to do some non-Wikipedia-based research for once. So . . . I am currently in the middle of all of the following books:
Martha Washington: An American Life Well written, well researched, but never manages to become a STORY rather than just a list of THINGS THAT HAPPENED.
Charlotte Temple Perhaps the story of Charlotte Temple is an interesting one, but I feel like I might never find out because of the near-constant preachy interruptions of the author. SOOOO bothersome.
The Infortunate Written in a wry style, this one is a surprisingly entertaining and interesting peek into the lives of lower-class colonists.
The Travels of William Bartram Good details about eighteenth century travel, but aargh, so. many. descriptions of plants, I think there's a reason this guy traveled alone.
George Washington, Boy Leader A fun, easy read for early grades, probably too propagandish to appeal to most adults.
Some are definitely more readable than others, but so far I don't think I'll be recommending any of them to your summer reading list.
And now, I have some news to share about a book I wrote that is going to get published! It's a non-fiction book for kids about the Sacrament of Confession and it's going to be published jointly by Ignatius Press and Magnificat, so you'll be able to buy it on the Ignatius website and your grandma will be able to mail order it from the Magnificat catalog. Everyone wins. I'm working on revisions now, which is super-exciting to me and feels very professional. If I didn't do all my writing in the middle of the night, I'd hire Betty to be my secretary and answer my cell phone for me and go get me lattes because THAT is how professional I feel. It is supposed to be coming out in 2014 in time for First Communion season. I'll keep you posted. Speaking of First Communions, Bobby had his in Rome a couple of months ago, but we hadn't had our family party yet. So, last weekend, I whipped up some First Holy Communion Mac & Cheese (yes, that's a thing, well it is now, anyway):
and we got an ice cream cake from the Original Rainbow Cone, a south side of Chicago tradition since 1926:
for those of you scoring at home that's: Orange Sherbet, Pistachio, Palmer House (vanilla with cherries and walnuts), Strawberry, and Chocolate. That's what a Rainbow Cone is. No substitutions. Sounds crazy, tastes delicious. In other celebration news, our oldest son, Jack, celebrated his eleventh birthday on Wednesday.
Jack: you made me a mother and you test me everyday to make sure it's still so. Our temperaments are so similar -- my journey of self-awareness and self-improvement was mostly kicked off when I began reading a bunch of books trying to figure out why you were so darn difficult and stubborn, only to realize that while the stuff in the books might be true about you, it was just as true about me! You are rough-and-tumble with big kids and gentle with babies. You are smart and loving and sincere. You are an enthusiastic leader and an invaluable asset to our day to day operations around here. It's freaking me out a bit that I don't have to look down very far to make eye contact with you anymore, but I look forward to seeing what God has in store for you and what you've got in store for us from here on out.
Okay, back to writing for just a minute. Is there anyone out there who would be interested in creating a blog-based critique group with me? I can start us a dedicated blog (okay -- I already did, just in case) and we could post chapters or stories on it and members would read them and comment on them.
It wouldn't be open to the public, just viewable by the blog authors and invited guests.
I'm sure there would be details to work out, but it seems to me like it could work.
OR, is anyone reading this a colonial history buff who enjoys reading and commenting upon unfinished YA novels?
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And finally, I wrote a post inspired by some Facebook friends yesterday. Check it out, if you're so inclined . . .

An Open Letter to My Facebook Friends Who Have This as Their Profile Picture

The post was, by this blog's standards, insanely popular. By mid-morning it had made it into my all-time top ten, and isn't slowing down yet. I've been fortunate with the comments so far too, everyone is being nice. But, here comes the take . . . the last post that got more than my normal number of views was my discussion of Sherlock. Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas recommended it to her readers, and I got a bunch of new visitors. In that case, about 10 percent of the people who clicked over from Haley's blog started following my blog. But even though my Facebook post has been shared all over Facebook and it got three times the number of views in a day that the Sherlock post got, I got ONE new follower. And even though it was a Facebook-themed post, I think I only got four or five new likes on Facebook. Which isn't to say I would change anything about either post. And I'm not making money from the blog, so it really doesn't matter. But a few new followers or subscribers are a lot more important to me than a bunch of one-time page views. I'm going to get to share ALL my future musings with those new followers, whereas all those people who saw this post were just here and gone. So the lesson, I guess, is that I should try to write fewer posts that appeal to Facebookers, and more posts that appeal to established bloggers. Unfortunately, I'm not sure I know what that would entail. I'm kinda winging it here.
Happy weekend everyone!
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