Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#23 Children, Munchkins, or Little Monsters?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

This depends on the moment (or if there is a full moon).

The Moments That They are Children

They are doing their chores or homework properly. I love when I’m working on reading with William and I can see how rapidly he’s improving. I remember how hard it was when he knew the sounds of each letter, but lost them when it came to using them in words. I love it how I can tell him with complete frankness how proud I am of how well he’s doing. Then he smiles and gives me a big hug and absolutely makes my day.

When they play together nicely and politely, it melts my heart. I also have to remember these particular moments and savor them because they are few and far between.

The Moments That They are Munchkins

I am swept into their world like Dorothy in the tornado. I find out that fymaries exist and are helicopters that turn into houses when it sees a bad guy. All yellow vehicles are related (i.e. cousin, grandma, sister, etc.) to the Transformer, Bumblebee. I’m required to get up and do magic moves every time Tree Fu Tom come on so that we can send him big world magic and help him to save his friends from whatever predicament they are in.

The Moments That They are Little Monsters

They usually transform during the full moon, but can switch from Children or Munchkin mode at a moment’s notice on any day. Seriously. They even howl. These are the times when time outs are used several times a day, I’m almost certain not to get any writing or research done, and I’m counting down the minutes to bedtime. I’ve also determined that the Little Monster mode comes with a time altering field that radiates from my boy’s bodies because the clocks in our house always seem to move slower during these moments.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 20,850

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Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#22 What Does “Off-Day” Mean to You?

Ha! Well, I guess it could be worse. At least I don’t smoke, drink and have insufficient light. Image attributed to Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons.

Usually an “off-day” lasts a month and is caused by gluten. But that’s a given.

Other than that, “off-day” means Charlie doesn’t nap, yells through “quiet time,” and going to the Y is interrupted by too many of the silver sneakers crowd or a poopy diaper. Fortunately, these “off-days” don’t happen too often. But the implications from them are far greater.

When I can’t get writing in when I was planning to, quiet Jeckyll Mommy is in danger of becoming Hyde Mommy. Writing is my potion to keep Hyde Mommy at bay and sometimes that evil Hyde Mommy comes out unbidden because I wasn’t able to get the scenes in my head out onto my paper. When that happens, I’m reduced to trying to squeeze in words and ideas amid my boys playing in the livingroom. Every ten minutes or less, I’m interrupted because someone took someone else’s toy, or the other won’t stop tickling. I tend to enjoy dual timeouts because it gives me at least three minutes of uninterrupted thoughts (unless Charlie starts kicking the wall during his timeout). I do my best to be The Orange Rhino, and not yell at my boys, but on those “off-days” it’s super difficult. I’m also stricken with guilt that I’m busy trying to write instead of playing with them. Then there’s laundry to do, floors to be swept, toys that need tidying, and a gluten-free dinner to prepare (and hope William actually eats some of it).

By the time the boys are in bed, you’d think I’d use the blissful quiet to finally write the way I want to.

Tee hee. You’re funny.

I’m so exhausted from trying to write all day, that when I can finally do it, I end up vegging out on the couch until I’m ready to go to sleep instead.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 20,083. Unfortunately, now that I’ve got a serious project going, I’ve had more off-days than usual. Murphy’s Law.

Blogging Contest · Books I Love · NaNoWriMo

#21 Number of Books on Your Bookshelf

Image attributed to Elliott Brown from Birmingham, United Kingdom via Wikimedia Commons.

Hee hee. This topic is how I got my first e-reader. Before I was married, I use to haunt used bookstores for hardbound versions of classic books that I hadn’t read yet. I think I still have a copy of The Mill on the Floss that I was afraid to read because the pages seemed so brittle. But it looked so awesome on my shelf!

My favorite bookstore used to be Trans Allegheny Books in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The building was built in 1905 as a Carnegie Library. Yes, that Carnegie. It had stained glass, a wrought iron spiral staircase, and the floors creaked just the way I like. 😀 I would have loved to wear one of my period dresses, which I had from playing harp, and wandered around the shelves, pretending I lived in a time before I was born.

I don’t think I ever really grew out of the dress-up phase.

Anyway, I was drawn to used book stores like a moth to flame, and at one point I counted over 300 books. I would categorize them by author. When I lived with my parents, my bedroom was a converted attic with sloped ceilings, so I used wooden crates stacked on their sides for my bookshelves. When I got married, we got a traditional bookshelf. And no matter how many times I organized and re-organized my books alphabetically by author, hubby always went through them at some point, and messed it all up somehow.

I never understood why, because he doesn’t read fiction.

Hubby is a very practical minimalist. My books were sitting on my shelf doing nothing “useful.” So I did a purge of many of the paperbacks that I’d already read. I got an e-reader by convincing him that I would purge more of them (which I did). Fortunately, most of the digital copies of my favorite classics are free, so I didn’t pay to have the books again. Now, I’ve added about 90 Astraea Press books to my Kindle and them some. So I’d say I have upwards of about 400 books. 😀

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 19,425. I miss the Y. I haven’t been able to go as much as I thought I would. 😦

Blogging Contest · Books I Love · NaNoWriMo

#20 Words Or Storyline? How Do Books Make Your “Favorites” List?

Image attributed to ALA TechSource from Chicago, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

Words certainly count for a lot, but I’d have to say storyline. And even then, if something turns me off I shut the book. Conversely, if I really love the storyline, I’ll read it again and again. So I guess I’ll talk about the repeat favorites.

As a kid, my favorite book was The Secret Garden. I loved how the magic of a simple neglected garden could benefit the lives of two neglected children. Burnett didn’t even have to mention it, but you could feel Lily’s spirit helping her son and niece become happier and healthier children. Personally, I don’t believe in ghosts but it’s fun to dream about them.

A Christmas Carol is another favorite. Another ghost story. Go figure. I suppose it’s nice to think of a spirit giving us a gentle nudge (or in Scrooge’s case not so gentle) in the right direction. But I’ve also favored books such as Pride and Prejudice, where a girl doesn’t give up her values and marry for money just because her family is in a bind. I was going to list Jane Eyre and The Lord of the Rings, separately, but as odd as it is to lump them together they are both classic underdog stories. I’ve always loved the underdog.

Speaking of underdogs, Harry Potter is another favorite, but more so because of the lesson against bigotry that the books teach. A less epic, but more grown up version of this theme can be found in By the Light of the Moon. I love how the course of the story forces the characters to realize just how strongly they detest bigotry. The bonus in BTLOTM, is the words. Koontz is very descriptive, but I especially enjoy how poetic he seems to get during the more intense scenes.

One of the more frustrating books that I shut? Love In the Time of Cholera. I was enjoying the plot of life on a sugar plantation, but then it turned into page after page of details with prostitutes. What? Okay, really, I didn’t need that. Just a small description of how he went philandering, so I can get back to the plot that drew me in. Ugh. Never finished it.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 18,912 lol, don’t think I’m gonna make 50,000 by November 30th, but I’m loving how my plot is going. At least it’s been circumstances that keep me from writing and not writer’s block. 🙂 I’ll keep pushing though, to see how much I can manage this month.

Blogging Contest · Harp · NaNoWriMo

#19 Your Greatest Fan

Ick, sometimes I feel as if I’m my own greatest fan. Which is about as sad and silly as I’m My Own Grandpa.

I’d love it if my hubby were my greatest fan, but when he reads, it’s always non-fiction. I don’t think that harps and romance or faeries and druids will appeal to him. 😉 So, unless I sell a million copies of my books, my writing will look like just a hobby to him.

Having a hobby doesn’t really draw fans.

I suppose my greatest fan depends on which book you’re talking about. So far. For either one, my fans are my mom and step-mom (whom I also call Mom, just to add lovely confusion 😉 ).

My birth-mom has the same taste in reading as I do. She and I enjoy discussing the finer points of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter series. She liked Harp Lessons, but has been really enjoying being my beta reader for The Stone of Kings. When I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go with TSOK, we had wonderful brainstorming sessions. That always got the story moving again.

My step-mom is more of a visual artist, but has provided most of the inspiration for both my finished books. She has encouraged my writing throughout my childhood, got me started playing harp, and took me on my first trip to New York City, where she grew up. She and her mom, my Grandma Caroline, told me endless stories of Ireland and what it was like to live there. If you’ve read Harp Lessons, do these things sound familiar? Naturally, Mom has been tickled pink that I’m now a published author.

I know there are those outside of my family who have loved Harp Lessons. But I can’t imagine having many “fans” since I’ve only got one book out there so far. I’m quite happy to have my mothers as my greatest fans. But it’ll be nice to start getting multiple five-star reviews that my fellow author friends (who have great backlists) have.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 17,462

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#18 NaMoWriMo Goals

Survive the month.

Okay, okay. That’s too general. Hmm, goal #1, write 1,667 words a day to hit 50,000. For me, writing longhand, that means about three hours of writing a day. Scratch that. Make it four to five hours, because there are going to be days that I can’t write, particularly around Thanksgiving.

Four to five doesn’t sound too bad. If I can do that as much as possible, I can have more than Thanksgiving off. Maybe I’ll even finish early!

*slaps face* Don’t get ahead of yourself.

Okay so goal #2. I really want to do what this contest was designed for. I want to turn off my inner editor and let the story come out the way my subconscious wants it to be told.

Goal #3 is to plan a little better. I’m a total pantser, and that’s probably why my inner editor screams at me all the time and slows me down. I have nightmares…okay, well, daymares of getting stuck in November because I haven’t researched the aspect of the Civil War that my plot takes me if I don’t plan it out well enough. Then my eyes will be bugging out on Wikipedia for hours trying to come up a historical fix for the predicament that I put my characters in.

Researching instead of writing… I can’t imagine that’s a good thing for November.

Finally, goal #4 is to prove to myself that writing a book in a month can be done. I mean, I know it can be done, there are thousands of winners who prove that. One of my author friends from Astraea Press, who has participated in NaNoWriMo several times, is attempting 50,000 x 2 this year! But I need to know that I can do it. If I can, When I do, I’d like to write that way whenever a book idea hits me. That way I can just get to the end already. I never know yet how my books end. It’s like having read through 4 different books and never having finished them. Then you spend your hours wondering how they end.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: hahaha! How ironic that this post goes up today! I couldn’t put off laundry and other chores any longer, and since I was catching up on chores I decided to catch up on sleep and go to bed “early.” Word count’s the same. Am going to a write-in tonight though! I may not get to goal, but I’m not giving up! 😀

Blogging Contest · Gluten · NaNoWriMo

#17 Relate A Recent Epiphany (er…”Aha!” Moment)

You look at this and see: wheat. I look at it and see: POISON! Image attributed to User:Bluemoose via Wikimedia Commons.

I love having an epiphany, especially when it comes to writing. I love when research pulls my plot into a new direction or adds a dimension that I hadn’t thought of before. But I’ve actually wrote about those epiphanies many times on my blog. So instead, I’m going to write about one of my most important epiphanies which also directly affects my writing; gluten.

So I’m going along doing the mom thing, when a friend of mine suggests a smoothie recipe. I go out and stock up on wheat germ, wheat bran, flax seed, frozen blueberries and yogurt. The first couple of weeks are like… POW! I was like a minivan with a turbo setting. That smoothie gave me so much energy, I didn’t get hungry till 2pm.

This was not the epiphany.

Then I felt miserable. Nausea, vomiting, cramping, extreme fatigue, etc. As if that wasn’t enough, my brain couldn’t seem to connect to my writing hand. I couldn’t remember things that had happened five minutes before.

This was obviously not the epiphany.

For a month, my GI “specialist” ran all kinds of tests trying to figure out my physical symptoms while I started seeing a psychologist for my mental symptoms. I was down to eating oatmeal and chicken noodle soup all day, everyday because I thought, at the time, that those were supposed to be the most gentle to the stomach. Then the specialist suggested that my problems were from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The translation for IBS is: “I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Stop clogging up my appointment calendar. Here’s a pamphlet. Good luck.”

The pamphlet told me to look for my trigger foods. I was thinking “trigger foods” meant peanuts, strawberries, or chocolate. Then finally, another friend mentioned Celiac Disease. Wait…what? My grandma has that. She can’t eat wheat.

Cue the epiphany complete with a bright light, gust of wind, and full choir. “Ahh!”

It totally explained my symptoms including the bouts of lactose intolerance that would come and go for no rhyme or reason. Cutting gluten has been the best thing I have done for my body, and I wish I’d known to do it sooner. I certainly would have been a better student growing up. I’m so thankful to both those friends for pointing me in the right direction. 😀

There are over 200 symptoms of Celiac Disease, including everything from fibromyalgia to ADHD. If you would like more information please go to www.celiac.com.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 16,624

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#16 Atmosphere Challenge: Describe Where You’re At

Okay, so maybe my house isn’t quite THIS messy. Image attributed to Luca Masters from Chocowinity, NC, USSA via Wikimedia Commons.

I am at home. Other than the sound of my tickety-type, the only thing to be heard in the house is three-year old Charlie upstairs who is trying to fall asleep for nap time. He likes to turn his head from side to side and sound out one long note. It makes me think of a rather lazy police siren.

Toys litter the livingroom floor, turning it into a minefield. One wrong step, will send a Lego clattering loudly across the hardwood. Worse yet is to bump into Thomas the Tank Engine, making him let off a shrill whistle and say, “That was fun!”

Uh-huh. Maybe for you.

I do my best to tip toe around the toys of mass destruction so as to allow Charlie a fair chance of going to sleep. But though I know he can’t hear me, he has as much chance of going to sleep as I do of winning the Miss America pageant. Unless it’s fifteen minutes before we have to leave to pick his brother up from school. He’s sure to fall asleep then.

My share of the mess is more methodical. I have fourteen whole newspapers (two weeks worth) that I haven’t gotten around to pulling the coupon circulars out of. After I finally get to it, there will also be a filing crate of circulars, that I need to go through to throw out the pages that expired last month. Ooh, and after that, there’s a shelf in the garage that is loaded with newspapers that need to be taken to the recycle center.

Hmm, if I stop couponing, then we wouldn’t have the extra money to buy the boys more toys, then I wouldn’t have a minefield to walk through at nap time!

Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to fly.

Instead I’ll just have to relish the five minutes a day when the house is clean. In the meantime, I should look into investing in gear to protect me from toy shrapnel.

Things my mother never told me would happen when I had kids. But to be fair, she had girls.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 15,657

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo

#15 Dialogue Challenge: Talk to Your Pet or Favorite Animal

Image attributed to Gourami Watcher via Wikimedia Commons.

I don’t have a pet right now, but am thinking about getting a guinea pig since I miss having a fuzzy animal curled in my lap when I read or write (hubby’s allergic to cats 😦 ). The following is what I imagine what GP and I will talk about:

I walk over to GP’s cage and undo the latch. “Wanna cuddle on my lap for a while?”

GP stays put in the far corner and says, “Nah, I was thinking about taking a nap.”

I give her an incredulous stare. “Seriously? You just woke up.”

“I wasn’t sleeping. I read somewhere that some insomnia is caused by the eyelids’ inability to close. I was just testing mine.”

“You made that up.”

GP looks at a random point past my shoulder. “No, I didn’t.”

“C’mon, there’s shredded carrot in it for ya.”

GP scoots her wiggly butt over to the door and allows me to carry her to the desk. I pass her some carrot and she asks, “So, since I’m going to stay awake anyway, whacha writing?”

“A blog post.”

“You’re not much on elaboration, are you? Are you sure anyone is going to read this post of yours?”

“Maybe. It doesn’t matter yet.”

GP coughs on her carrot. “Doesn’t matter? Honey, I don’t do anything unless there is an incentive. If it doesn’t matter, then why do it?”

“Well, it doesn’t matter that hundreds of people read it. What matters is that it’s going to help me become a better writer.”

“What kind of writer do you want to be?”

“I want to change the way society thinks for the better. Kind of like Harriet Beecher Stowe or Charles Dickens. It’s part of the meaning of life for me.”

“I thought the meaning of life was forty-two.”

“Go to sleep GP.”

“Ah! Now that’s something I can understand.” GP promptly closes her eyes and begins to purr as I stroke her ginger fur.

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 13, 691.

Blogging Contest · NaNoWriMo · Writing

#14 A Description of Your Dream Blog

Is MY wand in there somewhere? I could really use one! Image attributed to Jeremy Thompson from United States of America via Wikimedia Commons.

The first things I thought about for my dream blog belong in the world of Harry Potter. With a simple flick of my trusty wand, my blog would magically give me compelling topics to write about, load the perfect title automatically, and come up with one-line hooks that gets folks interested in reading what I have to say.

But as Dumbledore said, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

Not only am I a simple muggle, but all those magical fixes defeat the purpose of why I blog. Unless I can magically make myself a better writer. But if I’m not mistaken, those sort of spells don’t usually work out so well. 😉

So instead, I’ll go the muggle route and talk about what would make my blog even better aside from my skills needing improved upon.

One of the main things that has always bothered me is all the quirky tech issues getting in the way of the how I’d like it to look. So yeah, I’d get all the widgets I want working properly. I could connect my readers to my publisher and eventually to my Facebook fan page (which I’ll probably set up when I get closer to releasing The Stone of Kings). I’d also have a custom-made banner design that encompasses who I am as a writer. It would represent how I try to open reader’s minds with my fiction.

Which brings me to the most important part…

I will have improved my writing so that I can encourage people to change their perceptions for the better. My blog posts (and books) will prompt others to remember to treat those around them for who they are and not what they look like. It will inspire my readers to find common interests with others rather than reasons to argue. It will influence us to learn from mistakes instead of ignore them.

And most of all, it will be fun!

[This post was written as a part of the NaNoWriMo Pre-game Kick Off over at Jessica Schmeidler’s blog.]

NaNo word count: 12,809. Over 2k written yesterday without even having gone to the Y! That’s more like it! 😀