My Latest Project

I am so overwhelmed with how well my latest project was received. Last year, I wrote this blog. It was painful to have to write it. Immediately after I wrote this blog, I wrote down the words that I wanted to say to my son afterwards. I wrote the words I did get up the courage to say to him. He was oblivious to what happened; the harsh reality of what that moment really was and what would likely happen in his future especially since things don’t seem to be getting any better. I wrote down the words and thought “these are words that we all should say to our children”. Children are going to get bullied. And they need to know that they are bigger than those words.

The book itself took as long as it took to type the words out as I thought them. Maybe the process only took about 4 minutes. It was simple to write them. It was simple. It was driven by the incredible and special love that a mother has for her child. Illustrating the book, the was a different story. I had trouble finding a program that I felt comfortable using. I had trouble coming up with the pictures that I felt were worthy of these words. My biggest hurdle was myself. I can sculpt things. I’m pretty crafty. I can sew and knit. I’m confident in my artistic abilities except for drawing. I was told by some that my drawing skills are lacking. They are, I will certainly admit that. I was embarrassed about it and hesitated illustrating the book. I didn’t have the money to just hire someone to do it.

Finally, I took my words to heart. People are probably going to laugh at the artwork. I came to peace with that. It’s a children’s book. I wrote it for children because they need encouragement. Okay. I wrote it for my child because he needed those words. But what kid doesn’t need to be reminded that they are special? That the world can be cruel but they doesn’t have to break them? Any self-consciousness I had about my skills had to stop holding me back. You could say that I needed those words too.

The problem with writing is you are putting yourself out there. You are letting people critique you and tear you down. It’s really scary to write and have everyone hate your work. I fear that with every book I release and every blog that I post. I promise to be better.

I want to thank everyone who has purchased this book. I’ve run into some technical difficulties in releasing the paperback version, but I’m hopeful that by the end of next week I can approve the proof and get a physical copy of the book out. I want to thank everyone who has supported me on this journey. Maybe I will start pursuing more children’s books in addition to writing novels. But this past week, I have discovered a level of confidence and pride in myself that let’s me know that maybe I’m doing the right thing staying this course. I look forward to sharing my projects with you all in the future. I have some exciting things planned out and I can’t wait to move forward with it.

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When It’s Over

As a writer, there is no other feeling that can match when you finish a project. There is a sense of pride in your work. There is trepidation, worrying that your project was terrible and no one will like it. There is hope that this one is the one that gets you to the point of “making it” so that you can tell everyone who doubted you or called you foolish for pursuing your dream that you are good enough. Validation lets you know you’re talented, right?

The truth is that there is a lot of fear as a writer. You’re afraid you’re not good enough. You worry that you are wasting your time, and the time of everyone who supported you on this journey. You are even afraid that the book will make it. Then you have to face the harsh criticisms of faceless internet people. What if it does very well and you can spoil yourself? There is so much to be afraid of.

The fear isn’t the worst part. The worst part is that feeling of emptiness when you finally complete the project. You spend so much time stressing over getting it completed on whatever deadline, self-imposed or otherwise, that you have to beat. Then, when it is completed, you have that “now what feeling”. The book is up for sale and you just have to hope. But you dedicated so many months or years on a project only to have it finally be done. And there is emptiness that does make you feel a little depressed. Even if you do have projects on your “queue” waiting for your attention.

“A Special Place for Noah” will be up for sale on 2/15. You can pre-order it in ebook format prior to this date by visiting my Amazon author page (or if you follow my author Facebook, the link will be there). I have yet to approve the copy for the paperback version as when I got the first proof, it was 3x the size that I wanted it to be. I’m not very tech-savvy and forgot how to change the page sizes for proper printing since my last paperback was released. Oops.FB_IMG_1518529971930.jpg

As for what’s next? There is still my children’s book that I want to finally finish, which has been on hold because I’m a perfectionist and I need to brush up on my drawing skills. That will be my first goal. Once that is completed, I will be working on the project tentatively titled “Project Team LaRochelle”. My husband, as well as some others, have been trying to get me to write a thriller/horror for a while now. My husband came up with an idea that he was very excited about, so we have decided to collaborate on that. Between his love of horror and my storytelling skills, this should be interesting. If we end up divorced though, you know why.

There is a lot on my plate, including my focus on growing the blog, but I am very excited to keep moving forward. With hard work and a positive attitude, you can do anything. At least that’s what I’m told. I have the hard work down, so let’s see if that’s good enough.

It’s Been a While, Random Rantings

Random Rantings is a segment on this blog where I briefly discuss thoughts and topics that do not warrant a longer 500 words or more post. Today, here is a look at some topics from various subjects that I just felt like talking about so feel free to bring in your own thoughts here.

You Have a Memo, I Have a Memo, We All Have MEMOS!

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That’s right. It’s like Oprah in here right now. I read the Republican memo and then I realized that it was just one guy writing his thoughts like it was the law of the land that we should all obey. If it were that simple, maybe I should say that my blog matters and will really be groundbreaking and everyone will just believe that I am right and awesome just because I said so. Is this really what we have come to today? Where a guy creates a memo that may or may not be factual and sends it out to be released as some sort of vindication? This concerns me. Is this a distraction because Mueller found something and they needed to pull something out of their behinds to distract us from it? Or is it just because people are upset that we were talking about the Super Bowl or the fact that the president may have cheated on his wife Melania. (Shocker, I know. What in his history would ever give us the impression that he would cheat on his wife? Except for every other time he has cheated on a wife…)

Now the Democrats want to release a memo, that in the grand scheme of things will be just as (ir)relevant as the Republican one was. If we really take a logical stand point here, ignoring party lines, are these unofficial documents worth more than the paper they are written on?  The answer is “no”. The memo is set to be decided by the president if he wants to release it, but he needs to. Because transparency. Because you can’t just allow one side of the aisle to do it and not the other. Because if you do let one side of the aisle do it and not the other, there’s a level of censorship there that we should be concerned with. Because if the president only wants us to see one side of things, other questions should be raised. Is there truth to it that he doesn’t want released? Is it just that his precious little ego will be hurt with its release? Does he just want to prove a point that American’s should only see things his way and not the whole picture? If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, then we have bigger issues to worry about.

The New Book

Now, I probably should have put this above the more controversial political commentary above, but I felt that was a bit more important. My latest work, “A Special Place for Noah”, is a piece that I am really excited for. The story is about a family who is trying to help their son overcome his speech delay. It is told in 3 different viewpoints: Callie, the mother; John, the father; and little Noah himself. I hope that people love it as much as I loved writing it. It is expected to be up for sale on Amazon in both eBook and paperback. You can pre-order now as well. Just visit my Author Page on Amazon, which is posted on the sidebar of this blog.

The Pretty Super Super Bowl

In what was one of the most exciting games in a long time in the NFL, my beloved Patriots fell to the Eagles. Why did this happen? How did a backup beat the GOAT? Well, there are a few simple answers to why it happened. You could point to the missed field goal and extra point by Stephen Gostkowski, though this would only account for 4 points. They lost by more than that. You could say it was because Cooks was taken out of the game for a head injury after a nasty hit. Sure, that hurt but Playoff Amendola was clutch and Gronk finally hit a groove where he was on fire. Here’s the hint: it wasn’t the offense that wasn’t doing their job.

Their defense was horrible. Horrendous. Any awful word that you could put there would be an accurate statement for what happened here. They could not stop anything. Nothing. Were those two touchdowns a little bit questionable? Sure, but I’m not well-versed in the rules even though the casters seemed to also think those were bad calls. But that was 2 touchdowns out of how many other times they scored. It didn’t matter. We couldn’t stop them anyways and I bet that the next plays would’ve ended up touchdowns anyways because of how awful they were playing. Did I mention that their defense was awful? Philly is a hard team. They were good. They were communicating and doing well. Why wasn’t Butler playing? His season may not have been his best this year, but he was always known for his clutch plays.

The better team won. There is nothing more to that. There was nothing controversial about it. The refs didn’t hand them the game. The Patriots didn’t give them the game. They won it and congrats to them. No salt here and I’m not even really mad about it. The Patriots got the loss they deserved and that was that. I love great games, even if my team loses.

The Stock Market

Yesterday the stock market eventually dropped a significant amount. Who’s to blame for this? It’s probably just the predicted market correction that we were told to watch out for despite other people saying “everything’s good”. Is it the president’s fault? Probably not. But just like I said when talking about President Obama taking victory laps when the economy was good, you can’t give the person the blame when it is bad and not give them credit when it is good. The same applies here. You can’t give President Trump the credit for the stocks doing well without giving him blame when they go down. That’s the nature of it. You cannot take credit when things are good without taking the blame when they aren’t. That’s not how it works. Should he have taken credit when it was good? I don’t think presidents really have the much to do with stocks going up or down, so no. But you cannot logically think that there isn’t some level of hypocrisy going on. “Of course the Dems are blaming him for the stock market dropping. They just want to see him fail. He’s not to blame. But he’s totally responsible when stocks are up.” It’s not logical. Both the left and right are guilty of this. Maybe we should all start using a bit of common sense, because then 90% of political arguments would never happen.

 

NaNoWriMo 2017

I went into this year’s NaNoWriMo with a story that I felt passionate about and a lot of good intentions. I had my Post Its, a plan, my peanut butter M&Ms, my coffee, and my eventual last minute savior, the flaming hot Cheetos. Despite my best efforts, illnesses, work, and life (such as Thanksgiving prep and writer’s block), I ended up at the 27,000 mark on November 29. Even my husband, the ever supportive and annoyingly optimistic man who made many a Dunks run in the name of art, doubted me. Me? I thrive under pressure and seemingly eat doubt for breakfast. Or in this case, an entire bag of flaming hot Cheetos while working.

On November 30th, I woke up early, destroyed my work deadlines, and filled a carafe of coffee. I took breaks to take my son to school and other normal breaks during the day. Thanks to my new Pixel 2 XL, I was able to continue on my work whenever I had to leave my trusty Surface’s side. This was especially useful when my body cramped up from being at the computer so long, so I began walking around while typing away. Saved it to Google Drive, then went back to my computer to continue hacking away. By lunch time, I had managed to get up to about 35,0000 words. That was still a long way away from 50,000. My husband brought home lunch, giving me time to focus on work since I would be too focused on this to be of any use to anyone.

Finally, the moment I needed to happen came. Words were floating from my fingers, which at this point became cramped and numb from typing so much. At 10pm, I had hit 45,000 words. With under an hour left, I was getting close but still seemed too far off of my goal. My husband, who worked late that day called and asked if I wanted anything on his way home. “Cheetos and a Coke.” He understood. He came home with exactly what I needed. With 20 minutes left to spare, 50,000 happened. I was relieved. I submitted the 50,000 words and got my winner loot.

That is only half the battle. The next month will be full of the editing process that can take forever, which needs to be done in order to get into a contest to get a professional publisher to publish it. There is still a long journey, but at least I have come this far with the novel.

The novel is called “A Special Place for Noah”. The story is about a boy named Noah who struggles with the inability to communicate in the outside world. There is a strong focus on the parents as they navigate this journey with him. As readers of the blog and people who know my family, you can probably guess that this is very heavily influenced by my youngest son. The point of the book is to share this story so that other people who may find themselves in this position can feel a little less isolated while struggling with any sort of developmental delay in the family.

I am really excited to see this as a finished product. It was really freeing to write and I really hope that someone else feels a connection to the book.

Everyone Has Those Days

As a parent, it can be extremely hard to stay positive. You see parents boasting about how their angels ate their organic meatless Monday meal perfectly and ate an apple that wasn’t covered in sugar or candy for dessert. I’m lucky if I can get my 5 year old to eat anything that isn’t a hot dog, Burger King, or covered in so much ketchup that the ketchup is the main dish. I’d like to think I’m in the majority on this one.

I will never be that all organic mom that can leave the house in yoga pants with confidence and a kale only smoothie for my detoxing. I can guarantee that I’ll either have a tea with sugar or a coffee with an obscene amount of creamer in it. I can guarantee that 9 out of 10 times my children will be on time. I can guarantee that I will grab whatever jeans and t-shirt smell and look like they could be clean. I can guarantee my hair will be disheveled as if I’m purposely trying for that bedhead look. I’m not. That is probably actually either bedhead or I was trying to pull my hair out because parenting can be infuriating.

There are a lot of things that you cannot guarantee as a parent and you have to cling to those things you can be sure of. I can guarantee that if I even say “Please” and “Clean” in the same sentence, my teenager will roll his eyes at me and groan about how unfair life is. I can predict that and hold my breath to avoid getting annoyed. Not everyday is going to be perfect as a parent. In fact, you may have more bad days than good ones. That’s okay. I admit that I lose my shit more often than I should. Just yesterday I spent 40% of my day raising my voice and yelling at my kids. Was it effective? Not really. Did it make me feel better? Nope. Did I eat a bunch of lemon Oreos to soothe me? Oh yes, that absolutely happened. If I had bought my peanut butter M&Ms for NaNoWriMo early, those probably would have been devoured too.

Remember this anytime you see a mom on Facebook that seemingly has their life together: They are likely losing it just as much as you do. The problem is they sweep it under the rug to give this illusion of perfection to make them seem better. I have no shame. I don’t mind admitting that I bribe my kids with cookies to eat their supper. I’ll admit that my youngest said “mom, you need to have more patience with me” for me to respond “I’ll learn patience when you learn to listen”. I’m okay with not being perfect because I refuse to achieve an unrealistic expectation of what it means to be a parent. My children have clothing, a roof over their head, and are still alive. That’s really the important thing. My sanity is apparently optional.

A parent is someone that wakes up with pee on them because their child had an accident while sleeping in your bed. A parent is someone who complains about running up 4 flights of stairs in a nightmarish situation for you because Open House is important to engaging in your child’s education. A parent goes to an elementary school Open House where it is so packed with children and parents that you just want to keep a hold of your anti-bacterial pocket buddy because you know you are going to get sick from it. (Spoiler alert: I did get sick from it. I should have had the anti-bac out.) A parent promises that they will not cook more than one meal but sometimes will actually just cook another meal because you have been beaten down and want to keep whatever shred of dignity and sanity that you have left. A parent is beaten down more easily than they care to admit. A parent will always, always, always second guess their every decision. They will think about what they could have done differently in every scenario, big or small. Most importantly, a parent loves their child unconditionally even when they consider the possibility of eBaying them or finding another parent that will want to take them off your hands for a while. Totally unrelated note: anyone want to set up a play date with their children outside of my home where I don’t need to be present?

Joking aside, I always come back to this same point: You are enough and you are doing okay. Too many times other moms feel the need to rub perfection in other people’s faces and those “imperfect” moms are left feeling dejected. I’m here to tell you that we all feel like we did a crappy job at this parenting thing some days. Some days your child has an anxiety attack and you have to breathe through it with them and it’s not your fault that they are that way. They were made exactly the way they were supposed to be. And they were given to you because they were the child that you we meant to have. You can handle it. You can do it. Just breathe and accept that you are going to lose your shit and cry in the laundry room where no one can hear you and you know for a fact know one will ever go. That’s okay because more moms than you think are right there with you.

My Not-So Little Boy Started High School

Sure, this is a few days late, but the beginning of the school year is always a busy time of year especially when you are simultaneously prepping for a birthday party. Milestones are aplenty in the LaRochelle household these days, with the “baby” going to kindergarten later this week. (On Thursday, so I can cover the inevitable tears over the moment.) But Freshman year is a milestone all its own. This is the beginning of essentially the end of childhood. This is where you decide on colleges, possible career choices, first dates, long(ish) relationships. High school is a big milestone.

… And my oldest baby just got there.

I expected tears. I expected being a nervous wreck. It didn’t happen. I made him cinnamon rolls, listened to his concerns, congratulated him on his achievements, and let him know that I knew he was going to do great things in high school and beyond. He nodded and smiled that smile that only people who know him could truly appreciate. That smile let me know that he was going to be okay. Or at least as okay as any teenager who had trouble falling asleep and woke up at 4 AM could be. When he came home, he expressed how much he liked his teachers, how he had friends in every class and had lunch with one of his “baseball bros”, and then passed out for 5 hours. I did say that he was up at 4 AM, right?

The fact is I have done everything that I could to prepare him for this. I have tried to give him the confidence he needed to take on the world. I tried to give him the compassion to be an amazing person. I tried to instill charity, love, and kindness. At this point, we will find out if I gave him enough. Essentially my time of teaching him is over. Now, I just have to hope that the foundation he was given was strong enough to see him through.

That’s the hardest part of high school as a parent. Hoping that you gave him the strength he needs to face the cruel world and the kindness to come out on the other side. It is his time to make decisions, hopefully inspired by everything he has been taught. I am here to give him advice, hugs, and cookies. Ultimately, that is all I am here for now. He will make his own decisions, forging his own path. Unfortunately, this also means being okay when he inevitably falls. Because at the end of the day, we can only pick them up afterwards and hope that they learned from the fall.

High school is an emotionally tiring journey for both the kids and parents. We have to be okay with that and trust that we did everything that we possibly could to give them what they needed to succeed.

Changing Course Doesn’t Mean Giving Up

I look around at all of the things that I can do. My skills (writing, crafting, anything in the realm of “artistic” except photography. I’m terrible at photography.) are seemingly unmarketable in an industry that has so many other people who are just as skilled or better in these areas. In fact, I would argue that the difference is their ability to market and network themselves. As much as I try to learn, I just have not mastered that skill yet. It’s easy to just give up, but I’m not really one for quitting.

Instead, now there is a struggle of finding an actual better paying job that gives me the freedom to continue to create rather than just spend all of my time working and not get the time to spend with my family or my art. I think that I have found the path I need to be on, I just need an extra push to get me there. Changing course with a potential job that is actually pretty exciting for me, that doesn’t mean I am giving up. Sometimes you just need to change your course for a while so that you can achieve your dreams. That’s okay.

There are goals that I have. I intend to expand this site for other endeavors, such as branching out into individual blogs/articles (such as a gaming/geek culture link for my local area) and adding an e-commerce site to sell those little crafty things that I make without bothering with other sites taking a cut. I will continue to work on my books, including the 2 I am currently working on. Eventually, I will go back to school to get my MA in Creative Writing. From there, what will I do? There is no real end game. I just want options. I want to stay at a job because I like it, not because I have to. These are my goals and those who know me know one thing: I am annoyingly stubborn. What I lack in entrepreneurial spirit, I make up for in grit.

The lesson here is quite simple: you can change the course that you are currently on a bit to achieve whatever goals that you may have. If something isn’t working out for you, try a new way of doing it. As long as you end up where you wanted to be from the start, you have succeeded. Some people are lucky enough to have this right away. Others may wait a lifetime. However, giving up is never the option.