Nanowrimo

I discovered that November is National Novel Writing Month three years and two kids ago. A fellow aspiring author and very talented writer Merina Green asked if I was going to participate and I said, “Sure, I’d love to! What is it?”

“Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.” —Nanowrimo.org

Perfect for me, right?  I mean, aside from that deadline bit …

The Nanowrite site offers writers much needed pep talks from successful authors and other hopefuls alike. The site also allows you to track your progress through the month by updating your word count, gives you daily goals in order to reach your target of a completed first draft (or at least 50K), and can help you link up with a participating local Nanowri group.  If you “win”, besides having a completed book to hone and refine and an incredible sense of accomplishment, you also receive a ribbon on the website. As a mother and a home educator, I can testify to the effectiveness of a good old fashioned sticker chart.

My upcoming release Recycled started off as my Nanowrite novel the first year I participated. It’s gone through quite the metamorphosis since then, but butterflies don’t appear on their own and neither do completed, polished novels. Every book you’ve ever read started somewhere. My latest began November  2011.

I wasn’t able to participate one November due to a trying pregnancy and sheer exhaustion. (Who knew growing humans is such hard work?) I missed the following due to two infants and I was still reeling from the loss of my father. Needless to say, I was very excited and hopeful going into this year’s Nanowrite.

I had a story.

I had a rough plotline.

I had the characters pretty well ironed out. (Or so I thought …)

I had a plan.

No actually, we had a plan. You see, for me to take every spare moment I can for a month and dedicate them to writing, my family has to be on board. And most of them were. Really, really. The men (full sized and mini) were all over it and very encouraging−even if they ate a lot of junk and my house wasn’t the shiniest place to live. Unfortunately, we failed to account for the shortest of the brood and their reactions to not having Mommy at their sticky little fingertips all day, every day.

But the kids weren’t the reason I failed to reach my goal.

The words just wouldn’t come. I could see the scene play out in my mind but when my fingertips were poised to type, nothing happened. Every couple hundred words felt like a huge achievement because of the struggle to get them on paper. I’ve read many people say that writing is like a muscle; you have to work it regularly if you want it to preform to your standards. Well, I’ve obviously let myself go … in more than one way.

It’s been over two years since I’ve written on a regular basis. Slowly I’ve been reclaiming some of my activities outside of my children over the last year, but it’s still very much a work in progress.

I was also a mess emotionally, which I should have expected but somehow failed to anticipate. I feel guilty taking time away from my family to pursue what amounts to a hobby at the moment. When I was with the kids, I couldn’t wait to escape to write, which just piled on more guilt and mom-shame. Extended family drama kept drawing me in−even from a thousand  miles away. It was … life.

Life happened.

After a lot of little moping I’ve realized I’m okay with that. Writing is my newest love, but my family is my heart. Becoming a published author is my dream, but my family is my reality and infinitely more important. So if something needs to be pushed down a peg or two on my ladder of priorities, it’s not going to be the minions. It’s not going to be the husband.  And that’s exactly as it should be at this point in my life.

I just hope I can remember that the next time I get frustrated at the constant “MOM!” interruptions …

My goal this month is to complete my 2014 Nanowrimo novel. For the sake of my kidneys, I’m also giving up Cokes. I’m not sure which is the more challenging of my two lofty goals, but March should be fun.

Wish me luck!

Exclusive Discount Code

recycled thumbnail 600dpi

To say a big thank you for all of the support and love, here’s a discount code for the new book just for you!

Exclusive discount code: Q75QMCZD

This will give you five dollars off of the list price through the Createspace store. The code is good from today until March 31, 2015.

So go forth and buy!

(If you get a second after reading Recycled, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you’re like me, whenever you consider a purchase nowadays, you check out the reviews first. I’d really  appreciate it!)

And don’t forget to let me know what you think of the new book!

Cover Revealed!

The cover is here!

My amazing editor and friend Maxann Dobson from The Polished Pen referred me to artist Paul Copello, founder of Designistrate.com, for an original cover to match my latest venture into insanity Recycled.  This is the end product of our collaboration, his genius, and a few email chains.

recycled thumbnail 600dpi

The back cover is even better, but I can’t go spoiling everything.

New Release

Well, my time of internet silence hasn’t been for naught.

I’m happy, nauseous, thrilled, ecstatic to announce that my new book Recycled will be available for sale in paperback and ebook March 19th!

The blurb:

When a small town psychiatric patient is hunted by a leather-clad Reaper, she must decide if she can trust her heart to the only man who might be able to save her life.

The docs say seventeen year old Michale Morgan is a schizophrenic. Her parents agree, and then ship her off to live with her eccentric great aunt. When immortal pacifist Lysander and his smart-mouthed watcher crash Michale’s group therapy session, Michale discovers she’s stuck in a reincarnation loop.

Reaper Fate is not satisfied to simply end Michale’s current life, but strives to entrap her soul, breaking this unnatural cycle of death and rebirth forever. Michale becomes desperate to prevent her very essence from being pickled and left to rot in a dusty corner of some cosmic pantry for the rest of eternity.  Clearly everyone can’t have their way.

While Fate chases them across country, through a casino, a life insurance seminar, and a backwoods honkytonk, Michale must learn to trust Lysander enough to save her life— and maybe even her heart. Meanwhile, Lysander must choose between his vow of peace and the love of his immortal life.

If they fail in this life, there may not be another.

I’ll be posting the cover here in the next few days. I hope that y’all are as stoked as I am! (Minus the nausea…)

And I’m back…

No, really! Except for the ones below.

No, really! Except for the ones below.

Activate your most shrill, Molly Weasleyish voice.

“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!”

Deactivate and end the necessity for shouty caps. Now that I’m properly chastened, allow me to explain.

Thankfully October ended. I wasn’t able to complete my These Things challenge for two reasons. The first being that family drama (of the insane variety) drowned out any happy juju I’d manage to summon through my positive thinking, which admittedly was not a lot.

The second reason is that I honestly couldn’t think of more good things to write about my father, which was depressing. I’m hoping this blockage is due more to my emotional tsunami than the actual lack of positive memories from my relationship with my father. I guess I’ll know in time…

November was Nanowrimo. I’m always going to be MIA when I participate. For those of you who care, I’ll be posting about my experience and takeaways with that next week.

December was crazy and flew by waaaaaaaaaay too fast. Seriously, I blinked and it went poof−even the smoke flitted away with unnatural speed. The only exception to this weird time vortex was the 46 hours I spent in a car with my equally sleep deprived husband, my three minimen, and the twinions, who get terribly carsick and have a love for Barney that’s bordering on the obsessive. (Aforementioned trip led to a true love/hate relationship between me and the portable DVD player.)

But now it’s January, and we’re getting back to real life!

I have a good feeling about this year. How about you?

I lose.

After weeks of being gluten-free to the absolute, very best of my ability, I’ve spent the last 2 days in close proximity to the bathroom. It’s discouraging to say the least.

Finally, I threw my hands up and shouted, “You win, gluten!”

youwin

 

And promptly ate a full size Snickers bar.

I almost immediately regretted that decision.

On the plus side, I feel closer to the Lord after all of that praying.

P.S. Most restaurants nowadays have gluten sensitive menus. Good enough for diets, but not for those with Celiac disease.  Just a little something to keep in mind.

 

This Time Last Year

Having never been a blogger or even really kept a diary (I lost the key to my sparkly unicorn one when I was 7 and never quite recovered …) I’m often completely unsure hesitant about what to post on this site. In a perfect world, I’d have killer parenting tips or funny stories accompanied by even funnier drawings or something that would benefit the web community as a whole. But lacking that, I always wonder is anyone going to read this? Would it be a waste of their valuable time if they did? And lastly, is this too personal? The answers to those questions tonight are maybe, probably, and yes. But writing is cheaper than therapy and you’re not required to keep reading, so here we go.

One night around this time last year, I had just gone to sleep, when I realized my phone was buzzing and I actually answered it. (Anyone who’s ever tried to call me, especially before the twins’ first birthday, should know what a miracle this sequence of events actually was. Seriously, it’s up there with the fish and loaves.)

My aunt was on the other end.

“Baby, I’m calling about your Daddy. He’s in the hospital and … it’s not good.” She always calls me baby, no matter how many years it’s been since we spoke. Normally I get warm fuzzies with a hint of longing that lingers from my childhood. My aunt had a wonderful family, and as a little girl, I always wanted to be part of it. But that night, I just felt cold dread.

I’d received variations of this call for over a decade. When my father first started having heart trouble, I still lived close enough to sit in the hard backed chairs of the waiting room all night to hear word. Over the years we’d been gone, I’ve made trips back when he had a bad attack or it seemed more serious. But there’s also been times when his significant other (whoever that happened to be at the time) didn’t call, so I’d find out too late to even worry.

In fact, when my father’s father died, no one told me until a week after the funeral, because we lived 900 miles away and they just assumed I couldn’t make it. I always feared the same would happen with Daddy.

He’d been driving his latest girlfriend and her kids out of town for dinner when it happened. The details were sketchy but his heart stopped, his pace maker fired once, twice, three times, and 911 was called. He’d been airlifted back to our local hospital by then and was in the ICU. It’s not good was an understatement.

For once, I didn’t ask if I needed to come home. I knew I did.

I rushed downstairs to tell my husband but all I accomplished was a sobbing babble. After a few minutes, he simply handed me my phone and told me to call my mother. After all, if she can understand my never-ending voicemails, she might be able to crack this code as well.

My mother and my father were teenagers when she got pregnant and they got hitched. But they were young, and he was a bit wild. They divorced not much later and he drove a truck nearly all of my life. I’d see him maybe once a year with few exceptions. They tried to give it another go when I was about 6, but that time was shorter and more painful and thankfully ended real quick. So you’ll understand when I say, my mother (and her family) were the only constants in my life until I started a family of my own.

I calmed down as we talked and made a rough plan to go south as soon as possible, crash with my grandmother who had more room available, and felt like it was all going to be okay by the time I ended the call. I just needed to get back home.

Since my husband is USAF and I was in no condition to drive 22 hours with five kids by myself, we contacted the Red Cross as he called his superior officer. They were incredible and we were on our way about 3 hours after my Aunt’s first call.

The drive was miserable. I swung between anger at myself for not making more of an effort to keep in touch with Daddy and old bitterness that he didn’t either, which then left guilt for being so petty when he could be dying. Then I’d think I was being silly for rushing down, putting my family through the physical and financial stress when he’d probably be in step-down by the time we hit the city limits.

We’d only been in New Jersey about 3 months, so I worried about my husband’s job. What if he used all of his emergency leave? What happened next time? But eventually we made it. I got a quick shower, because I always feel nasty after a long car trip, and then went straight to the hospital, leaving my tired kids and exhausted husband to fend for themselves.

Over the next 3 weeks, I sat by his bed for hours, switching out with my aunt or his girlfriend. I didn’t do anything. I was just there. But most days, I’m thankful I was.

There were many times I asked myself how long we could stay. My boys were missing school. My twins were off their schedule and beyond fussy. My milk supply dropped. We were broke; we’d have to borrow money to even get home. The doctors wouldn’t give firm answers, just “we hope” and “if this works, then we’ll-”. But I just couldn’t seem to leave.

Finally, my husband had to go back to work. So we planned to leave in 5 days with only hours to spare for him to get back to report to duty. My grandmother said she didn’t think I needed to return for the funeral, if there was to be one. I’d done enough. I didn’t think there was such a thing, but I held my tongue. She meant well, after all.

That night when I was cooking supper for my people, my aunt called. She said it was time to take him off everything but the pain meds. We weren’t sure how long it’d take but if I wanted to be there tonight, they were letting all of the family in.

I stood by his bedside until he passed away that night surrounded by his family and his friends and bandmates, and I tried to be happy he’d had such a full life. I tried to be thankful I’d gotten the time I did−my half brothers and sisters scattered all over the continental US weren’t able to be there at all. I tried to be strong as cousins, who knew him better and had claimed more of his time and heart, sobbed when his breathing stuttered, pausing for so long we thought he was gone, only to draw yet another rattling breath. And ever since this time last year, I’ve tried to forget his desperate, panicked gaze when he knew the end was near. But I failed then and I fail tonight as I type this … whatever this is supposed to be.

I wish he had been a better father and that I had been a better daughter. I wish that he was able to keep all of those well-meaning promises over the years and that I’d stopped believing everything he said at a much younger age. But mostly, I wish it didn’t still hurt to think about him, but then sometimes I feel guilty that it doesn’t hurt more−that his loss didn’t make more of an impact on my day-to-day.

It sneaks up on me at the strangest times though.

On my way to Walmart in the middle of a Wednesday, I picked up my phone to call because everyone else I know was either busy or working and then I remembered he’s not there anymore.

Daddy never remembered my birthday. Sometimes he’d forget altogether or get it confused with my mother’s, but usually I’d get a call sometime in November. I waited for that random call last year, and I’m afraid this year will be no different.

I forgot his birthday this summer−I never really knew it or was able to celebrate it with him− but Father’s Day was rough. Even more so because my husband doesn’t understand how I can mourn a man I didn’t really know, one who hurt me time and time again through his unintentional neglect and thoughtlessness. On the way home from the emotionally disastrous funeral, my husband said to just forget my father and all of those people, their opinions don’t matter anymore. So how could I possibly explain that to me they do and probably always will?

So I hope you’ll forgive me for oversharing, for expressing my grief rather plainly here, and for the next time I’m in a maudlin mood and repeat the offense. I guess I just need someone to talk to tonight and congratulations, internet peeps, you’re it.