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Dec. 22nd, 2012

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Those who can't do, read...or something.

Wow, its been nearly a year since I've written (not written ANYTHING, just on here. I think. I honestly don't know. Does rewriting first grade stories count?). I could come to you with hundreds of legitimate excuses...toddler was hospitalized last winter, said toddler grew into adorable preschooler who gets into things or terrorizes me if I don't give her constant attention. Example: Just now my 3 year old yelled from her bedroom, "Mommy! Come see me! I've made a big mess! Jesus will be sad!" Oh, also grew another child all year and birthed the new child this fall. Finished my first year of teaching only to start preparing to leave my second year for 12 weeks of a "baby vacation" even though any idiot who knows where babies come from knows it is not in any form a vacation.

So blah, blah, blah...I didn't write but I didn't abandon literature all together. I've been reading. Lots! Thanks to technology, in the form of my nook app, I've read 18.75 books this year (my goal is 20 by the end of the year). I've read them on my iphone in tiny form where you have to flip the page every 3 sentences but it doesn't matter. Anyone obsessed with reading knows that you'd read a good book tapped out in morse code. So why 18.75? Some books are not worthy of completion. Seriously. I pride myself in doing plenty of research before picking a book. I ask friends, read reviews, search blogs, download the sample portion until I am SURE that buying the book will be worth my time but even then I come upon a lemon every now and then. Is it so hard to write a good story that isn't stolen from another book or 40% tedious descriptions that put me to sleep? Come on people!

Sometimes after a "lemon" book I'm so broken I can't even find it in myself to buy another book. This is when I go to the library and borrow a good book (also, I think its good for my children to see me reading an actual book and not just staring at my phone). The problem with library books is that you can't read them in the dark while nursing a baby. You can't read them with one hand while picking an episode of Barney on netflix. You can't silently turn a page in the bathroom without being discovered. So while I adore our local library, I save those books for quick reads and reference books. Urban Homesteading anyone?

If you're looking for a good book, feel free to peruse my goodreads account. If you have a fabulous book you'd like to share that was not self published by an illiterate, vampire obsessed twelve year old or won't put me to sleep by rambling on about trees, please post it in the comments.

My point about bragging about all the good books I've read? Well I'm a teacher so of course I encourage reading for fun. Also, reading is the key to becoming a quality writer. Every good writer will tell you they love to read. Any decent writer will be able to talk endlessly about their favorite book. J.K. Rowling? Obsessed with the classics. J.R. R. Tolkien? Friends with C.S. Lewis and also a reader of classic literature. (Wait, do all good writers also use only first initials? Hmm, must review this further...) Hemingway? Also a lover of books and journalism. So while I seem like I've been slacking all year, I think this was a year of learning, rewrites and research. I'm hoping 2013 is a year of writing or I'll be back next year with more excuses.

Jan. 9th, 2012

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The thing about dreams is...

Its 5:30am and my alarm is not due to go off for another hour but here I am, awake and bawling on my couch. I have dreams. I guess that isn't a profound statement unless you're someone who doesn't have them. My dreams are usually typical...weird, meaningless and sometimes even humorous. But every few months I am blessed by a dream in which my late grandfather appears to check in with me. I'm not crazy. I don't believe this is actually his presence nor do I believe you can communicate to the dead through dreams. I just think its God's way of sending me some comfort for someone I so greatly miss having in my life.

So on with the story...my grandfather started making these guest appearances in my dreams shortly after his death. I honestly can't remember dreaming about him before then. I don't remember all of them but I do remember in the first one he was sitting in his living room and asked me to come see him. I was just a little girl and I walked over and saw all these Harry Potter-like moving pictures from his wallet. He told me he had them so we could always be together.

The dreams have come less often now, over 10 years since he's passed away. I guess subconsciously I haven't "needed" him as much, even though it pains me to admit that. But tonight was different. I'd already woke up halfway through the night after an odd nightmarish dream. So I went back to sleep, exhausted from my midnight bedtime. Then something magical happened. My family (scratch that...after reflecting I realize my husband and child weren't in this dream...just my college roommate, and mom at first...not really surprising given I was off at college when he died) and I were on a vacation and we were running to get out of the rain. My mom and Beth (former college roomie and best friend) ran over some hill and up these stairs to what they thought was a shelter to get out of the rain. Instead, they found a magical, Narnia-like beach. The high tide brought these amazing seashells that sang instead of just echoing the ocean and there were bats that flew around like seagulls at dusk but they never bothered us. The ocean seemed to sparkle around us and there were caves where we could hide from the sun at low tide. But most intriguing was a train that came through the path on the beach every few hours carrying "versions" of my grandfather. Almost like passing pictures of him both young and old. Side note: I am terrified of dreams and have had train nightmares since a very young age...so the train thing intrigues me.

So we're playing on the beach, enjoying life and forgetting time passing around us when one of the trains stops for a while. My grandfather gets off the train and hangs out with us for a while. I don't remember anything he said here now that I'm awake which is so frustrating because I remember commenting to my mom that it was funny. He was always so funny. A while later, maybe days in my dream, we were playing further away in the water when one of the trains went by. It went by slowly enough that we could talk to him as it passed but it didn't stop this time. We were too busy to go and watch it pass up close but waved from farther away. As the last car passed he yelled something I couldn't quite make out at the time. It seemed like "are you ...." something. My mom just smiled and waved but I instinctively nodded to him and smiled. He grinned back and nodded, happy with my answer, I supposed and the train pulled away until I couldn't see him anymore.

We decided to pack up and go home. Our time in the magical place was ending. Oddly enough we got on our own train to exit and suddenly my grandma and aunt had arrived. We loaded up the train and pulled out of the station, passing another train coming by. My mom asked me then what I thought he said. I replayed it in my head and knew immediately what he'd asked. He asked, "are you happy?" I recalled. We both smiled and she said she wanted to see him just one more time so she stepped off our train to go and try to catch him again.

I could interpret the heck out of this dream...analyze what the train meant and what it meant by us being in a place of paradise and so forth but I don't want to. I want to savor the fact that, in my mind, I was able to spend some time with someone I haven't seen in over a decade...someone I so dearly miss. My grandfather was an amazing man but most of all he was my father figure. Dreams can be scary or exciting or comforting or hilarious. The thing about dreams though, they all have to end.
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Oct. 20th, 2011

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25 Years

In twenty-five years people can do a myriad of things. In 25 years people can marry, have children, divorce, marry and do it all over again. They can meet new friends, go to college, get a handful of new hairstyles, new cars and new homes. They can travel to new places, learn new languages, and go through several new pieces of technology.

Twenty five years ago I was four years old. I've lived through so much since then...what I hope to be considered a quarter of my life. Twenty five years ago my uncle was killed on the side of a highway...a highway I drive often at a site I pass over daily. I'll be honest, I don't think about him daily. Today I'm shocked that so much time has passed since his death. So many things have happened to make that day seem so far away from where we are now but the pain is still fresh and the anger of his stolen life is still present. This young man, even younger at his death than I am now, was not someone I ever got to know. He wasn't an uncle I was able to joke with at Thanksgiving or someone I was able to share parts of my life with. We don't have pictures of him getting lines around his eyes or at family gatherings with his kid on his knee. These things were taken from us.

While I was only four I see the pain this caused in the tight network of people that are my family. This man was a best friend, adored little boy, son, brother, comrade and cousin to people who are now the same to me. The effects of his life are still felt today.

Typically this day comes and goes. My family takes time to remember him and think about what could have been. Some let off balloons and watch as they float up, slowly disappearing into the blue sky above with a message of love for this young man. Today I'm not letting go of balloons but watching the few memories of him slowly float by, like passing balloons carried by the wind. As they disappear with another day and become clouded by the daily things of life, kids, marriage, friends, homes, hairstyles, cars, traveling, I take a moment to pray that our family will never again face a tragedy like his and look around at my life and thank God for every moment.

We miss you and love you Raymond and we will see you again.

Jul. 13th, 2011

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A loss for words...

Ever have that moment where you think you should be crying or angry but all you feel is numb? Like it takes too much energy to respond to the pain of old wounds? I'm exploring how I can utilize these feelings in my writing but for now they've just left me in such a funk that I'm at a loss for words.

I think summer effects my writing too. Who can write when its 100+ degrees outside with nearly 100% humidity, ugh. I write better when light snow is falling just outside my window, when I'm wrapped up in my favorite sweater and slippers and a mug of hot coffee is sitting nearby. The iced coffee nearby and summer outfit I'm wearing don't have the same effect unfortunately. Ironically the story I'm working on takes place in a beach town, of all places. You would think I would find this season inspiring.

I am fully aware this is the worst anti-blog entry yet, but as I said, I suck at writing lately. I'm off to expedia to buy a ticket to Alaska or somewhere cold where I can find myself again. Or maybe I'll just go sniff the school supplies at my local Target, that always gets me in the writing mood!

Jun. 20th, 2011

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I survived father's day!

Up until I made someone a father I used to black out father's day on my calendar, skip church, turn off my phone, hide in my pjs for the day watching bad chick flicks and eating only carmel popcorn.

Today I managed to go to church, out to lunch with my mom, sister and step dad and gave my husband a card. I've come a long way. My therapist would be proud. lmao....oh I crack my exhausted self up.

Really though, I'm impressed I was able to put my bitterness for my own father aside and recognize that there are good dads out there. Dad's like my husband who comes home and hugs his daughter, tells her he loves her, asks how her day was, etc. My husband is still baffled by my father's apathetic interest in my life. It humors me that it confuses him and when I try to explain that 'he just doesn't care' he continues asking why. Reminds me of my twelve year old self, so innocent and naive.

The truth is some people just cannot relate to others, even their own spawn. I realize I just referred to myself as spawn. hehe. I should mention I've had five hours of sleep in the last 36 hours. Regardless, I realized long ago that I am my own person. My parents do not define me. Although some days I wish my mom did because she's pretty hilarious and awesome. But they don't. Remember this, young teens, when you're embarrassed or wishing you could break out of your parent's grasp. You already have. Sharing a last name doesn't make you identical to someone else. You create your own legacy. You make your own choices. You can't blame others for your screw ups or successes. Only you and God are together on those.

I realize I'm rambling but my point is father's day is painful for some of us, even if we've worked through our issues. So lets look forward to a real holiday that's coming up! Yeah America, the day we cook out and blow shit up and claim we won our independence (by the way, can we win some independence from our current government because they suck lately too) even though that was actually a day in September years later but the fourth of July has such a nice ring to it. So be thankful father's day is over and enjoy the next few weeks of summer, its flying by!

Jun. 2nd, 2011

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29 and self reflections ...

Standing in the bathroom today, looking at my grey hairs it hit me that I'm 29. Such a cliched age...but that's not where I'm going with this. The other day I was telling my mom I was 27 and then said no wait I'm 28 now. She had the terrible position of telling me my real age. I'd wonder where the last three years of my life went but the toddler in the other room saying 'tap, tap, tap' and attempting to dance on the couch arm reminds me. Don't get me wrong, I love nothing more than being a mom. If that's all I ever accomplish I'll feel successful but you have no clue how fast time flies until you're a parent, look in the mirror one day and wonder why you're getting old. It's because you ARE actually old. Well older.

Perhaps it's the vacation I'm on in my old college town. Perhaps it's that this vacation is coming to a close and I have to go back to the real world tomorrow. Perhaps it's that I see so many old friends doing so well at an industry I walked away from. I have no regrets and I don't just say that to be quaint or hopeful. I really don't. It's that I don't feel nearly 30. The last I remember I was 8 and riding my bike around my neighborhood, something I rarely did so maybe that's why I remember this so clearly. I was an indoor child. I played with dolls, barbies, old clothes in my garage (don't ask) and watched a lot of TV. I still do. I think TV sucked my life away. Just ten years ago I was watching the first season of Smallville in a new town, going to the beach with my pre baby body and naive about the world. Sigh. Honestly I wouldn't go back, but I would love a beach house here to relive the experience without having to deal with the hotel tax.

My point? Besides the trite statements that time flies, life is short, and all that? Maybe just be careful how you spend your time. There are hours I've spent on horrible dates or watching bad movies I will never get back. So avoid books like The Host, sorry Stephanie Meyer should stick to vampires, and any TV series on The Family Channel and you should be good. Oh and take lots of pictures because if you're like me you won't remember it or believe you lived it without proof!

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPad.

May. 21st, 2011

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Practice Makes Perfect

At least this is what I tell myself. Lately I've put aside my own characters and story to toy around with characters that are not mine by writing fan fiction. If you haven't heard of such a thing you're missing out. The bad part about all this is that I'm getting no where in my story while doing this. My own novel has been sitting on a metaphorical shelf while I entertain myself with 'fun' writing. I justify this laziness by telling myself and others that writing fan fiction is great practice. You get instant feedback from reviewers, the joy of having your work read and procrastination without all the guilt.
So maybe after I get this out of my system I'll go back to my 'dark' chapter of my own work or perhaps if I have a depressed, rainy day I'll work on it as well. Until then, I'm really enjoying writing fan fiction and practicing my craft. ;)

May. 6th, 2011

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You are too tired to write when...

10. You have to look up synonyms for 'awful' on thesaurus.com.
9. You realize you should change "other words" on the above bullet point to "synonyms" five minutes after you type it.
8. You type the same word incorrectly 5 times or put the spaces too early in between words. Lik e her e. Ooh space bar how I love you when I'm sleep deprived.
7. You spell 'incorrectly' with two Cs but one R.
6. You have no ideas. I mean absolutely none. My character just got home and all I can think is that she should sleep because I'm so freaking tired and that sounds awesome.
5. You forget your main character's name.
4. You start to write out a quirky "you are too tired to write post" and by bullet point 4 you forget what you're writing about. Oops.
3. You finally get a story idea. Its about a soft cloud where care bears sleep. Hmm, I think this has been done before.
2. You want to bounce story ideas off someone only to realize that every sane person is asleep at the moment.
1. You finally give up and go to bed only to spend hours trying to sleep while thinking of scenes to write and then dreaming about your characters. Sadly when you awake, you are still tired and most of these ideas are faint memories and only their pale ghosts dance around in your head.

This is a public service announcement...don't not sleep and write people. <---Awesome sentence here, by the way.

Going to bed now.

Apr. 29th, 2011

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Culminating Moments

Today I had the best day. I don't often write about my 'day' job, even though I love it, but I promise this will not turn into a teaching blog. Oh wait its not a blog anyway so we're safe!

Today I went back to the classroom I student taught in last fall to substitute teach. I spent hours in this class from last August until December and I haven't been back since. I was very excited but unaware of the day stretched out before me. It was like coming home after months of missing home and trying to find it again. I can't even fully explain it. I spent the first 10 minutes early this morning trying not to cry, just looking around a class I helped create. I had mixed feelings of sadness as I saw progress from students I helped mold. I had missed so much. Yet I was overwhelmed to see so much was still the same. The last seating chart I set up was still in place. Name tags with my handwriting were on the desk. Silly little things made me wonder how I would emotionally get through the day without tearing up. And this was all before I even saw the kids! It was so wonderful though.

Being a substitute teacher is interesting and very good for me because I'm learning so much and having to be flexible. I have control issues and like to know what I'm getting myself into. However subbing forces me to be willing to roll with the punches. I have to realize that I am able to think without hours of planning. This is hard for someone who is an over planner like me, but I've done a very good job letting go of this side of myself. However subbing is like teaching the first day of school every day. And today I experienced teaching a 100+ day instead of day one. It was beyond refreshing! The kids were happy to see me, I lost count of how many kindergarten squeezes I was given. It was so nice to know were everything was too, instead of stumbling around a cluttered classroom. It was like being on auto pilot when I've been driving manual, up hill for weeks. I can't tell you enough about how wonderful it was!

Why am I telling you all this? Because hard work does pay off. The hours I spent teaching those kids to write letters and read phonetically paid off. I watched a 5 year old who started the year unable to recognize his name, write a sentence about his favorite ninja movie today. It even had punctuation people!

I often feel discouraged as a writer because its a process. It takes time. Its not instant gratification. No matter how amazing you think your first or second draft is, you can always improve. Today was a day where I felt like I saw a culmination of the events of the past 9 months of my life. And it was the best feeling ever. Don't ever let someone squelch your dreams. Figure out what you want and go for it, but realize you have to work hard and be patient. And someday you'll have a good day, like I did today, and it will all be worth it.

Apr. 2nd, 2011

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Outlines and Teasers

So I had a few more questions pop up after my last post on outlines and I'd thought I'd clear up a few things.

1) Outlines do not have to be formal, numbered, lettered or any such thing. If you're into that, go for it (ironically the number 1 being next to this paragraph is freaking me out a bit now). Don't think of the outlines you had to write for English class when I say outline. Think of the bones of your story. How does it start? List events and some details.

2) Outlines are a great way to not only keep your focus but keep your memory. I forget everything. Motherhood does this to you. I currently have a set of keys that are lost and just two days ago I found a missing debit card (yay) so outlines help me go "oh yeah, that's what happens next" when otherwise I may have made up something crazy and different.

3)Outlines are not set in stone. They are bones for a reason. If you get somewhere and need to add something, DO IT! If you get to the middle of your story and an event or scene you outlined just doesn't work, rewrite it. Be flexible, you'll need this quality later.

4)Outlines are your friend. Don't keep them in another document. Add them to the bottom of your story. I always have a "sharable" document and my own "working" document I work out of. I save them on Google docs and word on my computer. This way I always have a back up. My workable document has everything I've written so far, my outline and any tidbits of information, character summaries, my overall summary, and so on. When I want to share the file with someone to have them read over it, I send them the sharable document and not my mess of the workable document. Make sense?

That's all for outlines. Now onto teasers.

I'm currently working on a couple of novels. One is going really well. I have everything outlined, specifically and while its slow going through this 'dark' place in the book, its going. Another is something that is still in its beginning stages. I've written some but I'm mostly focusing on an outline. Both pieces are fiction and have scifi components but the second is deeply scifi so its a bit more fun and less personal. Without giving too much away, I thought I'd grace you with a teaser of this second, new bit of work. Still in a rough draft form and still figuring out what exactly it is but alas, enjoy.

Note: This work is already registered with the WGA-west and copy-written. Any unauthorized reproduction or re-transcription of the below work is illegal.

Working Title: The Eternal Mr. Filch

I was running so fast I could barely keep my eyes open. The air sped past me and my heart pounded in my chest from the exhilaration. It wasn’t only that I felt young and able again, it was much more than that. But they were chasing me, thus why I was running. I turned down a dark corner and stopped. They ran past me and then I heard one of them say, “Wait, I think he turned, the scent changed.” I turned around and saw I’d entered a dead end but before I could even think about what to do next my body responded. I jumped so high I swore for a moment I could fly. I ended up on a third story ledge and jumped again to the rooftop. I thought freedom was mine when I suddenly awoke; it was all a dream.
I opened my eyes and heard the beeping of the monitors and waited. Waited for the reality to sink in as it so bluntly did each morning. I woke up and remembered it all and shook my head a bit to blur out the details I didn’t wish to remember. I yelled out to let my nurse know I was awake. My throat was dry and I could tell I was thirsty.
“Madeline.” I tried to shout. I wasn’t very successful but she rushed to my side immediately.
“Good morning Mr. Filch. Did you have a nice rest.” She said in her sweet, young tone.
“Yes, it was fine.” I assured her. I didn’t need to bore her with the details of my dreams and restless sleep.
“Good, here lets sit you up.” She pushed a button on my bed to raise me from my sleeping position. I slowly began to see all the details of the room, inch by inch.   Once I was somewhat sitting up she put a straw into my mouth and I sipped without her telling me to. It was amazing how refreshing a stale glass of water could be.
“You have a guest this morning, Mr. Filch. Its your granddaughter, should I send her in?”
I would have shrugged if I could. “Turn the TV on first, I’d like to have the news on.”
She clicked the remote to turn on a television that hung from the ceiling. A young forecaster pointed to a regional map, explaining something about a cold front. I ignored it and turned my gaze toward the slim glimpse I had of the window.
I heard the click of Emily’s heels before I saw her. She was dressed in her school uniform, carrying a satchel bag. “Good morning Grandpa.”
“Morning dear.” I responded, smiling a bit.
She sat down in my view, but careful to not block the TV. She was smart that way.
I waited for the nurse to leave the room and looked at Emily. “Today’s the day.”
“I know.” She said, looking down. “Are you sure about this?”
“Yes, very.” I said. “This isn’t a life.”
“You don’t have to though. Give it another year and things may change. Congress is already talking about making it legal.”
“I don’t feel like waiting. I can’t go on like this. I hope you understand.”
She sighed.
“You don’t have to do it. I know you dear, you could get in a lot of trouble.”
“Its not that Grandpa. I know how to cover my tracks.” She leaned in. “I’m just going to miss you so much.”
“We’ll see each other again dear.” I assured her, wondering myself if that were true. Emily was such a good girl and I remembered every moment of my life.
“I know.” She looked out the window. “You know about the side effects?”
“Yes, yes. Lets get on with it. Madeline is making her rounds. We only have about an hour.”
She took out a vile and syringe and began her work. “The drug is untraceable. They’ll pronounce you dead, you’ll go to the morgue and when you wake up you’ll be…well.”
“You don’t have to explain dear. Just get it done.” I closed my eyes and waited. I heard her say a soft goodbye as the monitor began to beep. I was gone.

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