Those Pesky Mid-30s

Is 35 even a milestone? I guess since it puts you closer to the dreaded 40s, maybe. But at least I can take comfort in the fact that some of my older brothers are closer to 50 than they are 40. It pays to be the baby. I don’t think I dreaded that number any more than any other year. But I have heat this year on my birthday and I haven’t been vomited on yet, so we’ve already improved since last year.

Everyone seems to reflect on their life on their birthday. It’s normal. Did I accomplish what I wanted to? Am I closer to my goals than I was last year? These are those nagging questions that just need to be answered on your birthday, especially as you get older. We want to make sure that we leave some sort of legacy behind us. What will people say when we’re gone? I’m sharing these answers with you.

Did I accomplish what I wanted to last year? I finally published my first children’s book, which is something that I’m very proud of. I even finally figured out how to make a physical copy of the book. (Shameless plug: Check out “Dear Child” on Amazon. See the sidebar for links to my Amazon Author Page.) That was a feat, considering I’m one of the least tech savvy people I know. I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo, which helped lead me on a dark, downward spiral that lasted a few months. I finally got out of that funk and hopefully I won’t go back down there anytime soon.

Am I closer to my goals than I was last year? I think so. I think that I’ve started to grow a presence online. I created more plans to help further boost my site. I can’t wait to get started on some of these new projects and finish some that I’ve already begun. It takes time and patience to breakthrough, I’m just hoping it’s going to be my time soon. I don’t want to make celebrity author money (though that would be sweet), I just want to be able to better provide for my family. Even if I make $20,000 a year doing what I love, I’ll consider that a success.

What will people say about me when I’m gone? That’s a loaded question, but I’ll give it a try. I’m sure a lot of them will say I was a terrible human being, and that made them either love me or hate me for it. I accept that. I’ll have some of those closest to me mention about how I was always there for them when they needed someone. They’ll remember my dark sense of humor. My kids will remember me singing and dancing around the house. They’ll remember that no matter what, they were loved and supported. I don’t care if I don’t have a greater legacy; I care that the people I care about know that I cared about them.

That is my birthday blog. I hope that you enjoyed reading this and I hope you guys have a great day!

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C’Mon 2019

Happy New Year!

The new year always brings in a hope for a better year than the last. Professionally speaking, 2018 was a decent year for me. My blog is getting more attention, so thank you to the readers who have joined us this year! I released my first children’s book, which has been well-received by the ones who have checked it out. (Shameless plug inc…: Check out my “Where to Buy My Writing” section on the sidebar to get a physical or eBook copy of “Dear Child” and find my other books.) I may have failed at NaNoWriMo this year in the sense of the actual challenge, but I did get 25,000 words for some solid bones for my next novel. I started a stream, which consider the times is starting out pretty decently.

Personally speaking, 2019 has been a bit of a rough one. Things going wrong like car issues, dental bills, and expensive home repairs did put a sour twist on my year, especially since those came right around Christmas time. Those are the breaks with adulthood though. You win some, you lose a lot. But my family is alive and happily together, so I really can’t complain. I lucked out with my immediate, extended, and “married” family, especially with a husband like mine. Who understands I don’t need fancy things for my birthday, but knows I love sweet, thoughtful gestures like having one of my favorite Food Network personalities (Justin Warner) tape a Cameo wishing me a “Happy Birthday”. Unfortunately for him, now he’ll also have to get me the cookbook I’ve been begging for. Fortunately, my husband is also a huge fan and seemed just as excited over the whole thing. My birthday is in 2 weeks, but my husband can’t keep a secret about presents to save his life.

I don’t make resolutions for the new year. I never keep them, that is if I even remember them. But I will discuss what I hope for this year, at least on a professional level. I hope that my blog continues it’s upward momentum. I hope to hear more from my readers. I will finish my new novel, even if that means waiting for NaNoWriMo again to bang out another 50,000 words. I have a few ideas for more children’s books that I will be working on, which I’m more excited about than I thought I would be. But that’s not all on my agenda. I am considering options like adding a podcast and/or a comic strip to my site. Both of those would be really fun to do, but we’ll see if it’s feasible. If I can start making the same amount from my own work as I do my freelancing ghostwriting gigs, I’ll have significantly more time to dedicate to these other projects. I will be continuing my stream starting tomorrow, with the amazing new updated look the husband designed for me a few weeks ago.

We’ll play this all by ear, but I look forward to seeing you guys on this journey with me. As usual, I will announce any new projects here or on my social media pages. You can follow those also on the sidebar there. My Instagram is a little bare, but I promise I’m trying to social media better. I wish all of you an amazing new year and thank you for making last year so great for me.


Failure Confirmed

I never once in my adult life ever thought that my parents found me to be a disappointment, something that shamed them. Every teenager thinks that about their parents, that they’ll never be good enough. But when you mature and realize that they were just trying to mold you into the best you that you could be, you get over that. But when it was suggested that I may be a disappointment or embarrassment to them, I crumbled and I crumbled really freaking hard. Even as an adult, no child wants to hear that your parents are ashamed of you.

I was weak enough to ask the question to my mom. I don’t normally give in, but I admit my mental state is always shakier around Christmastime. She scoffed and was genuinely offended at the notion that she would be disappointed in me when I dropped off the kids so I could go Christmas shopping. I was on a tight schedule so I didn’t get around to hear her finish her statement. My father wasn’t in the room at the time, but I have a feeling the idea was just as silly to him as it was to my mother. I wish I could say that made me feel better, but I spiraled. I spiraled hard. I thought about about giving up. I thought about settling for a life that would have made me miserable. Was I doing everything wrong in my life? I questioned every single decision I have ever made.

I quickly started alternating between what I could only describe as blind rage and rock-bottom depression. Normally when I discuss feeling like a failure, it isn’t an actual feeling. I use it in a derisive manner. I don’t really think I’m failing, though there are brief moments that I do blame myself for things I have no control over. But this was different. Maybe I wasn’t doing everything right. Maybe I was a disappointment to everyone in my life. It was hard. It was very hard to deal with. I didn’t cry though. I think I have successfully went full ice-queen.

What made me a failure? The decision my husband and I made for me to stay home and be there for the kids while doing something I loved to do. Something my husband fully believes I can do. My husband thinks I’m immensely talented and honestly, that should be enough. He thinks I’m talented enough to support me through this journey. My “doing this silly writing thing” and “staying home” was what my family was disappointed in me for doing. How ashamed they must feel to have a daughter like me, squandering my intelligence and abilities in the way I have chosen to. As if I’m the secret daughter my mother doesn’t talk about because I have shamed her so. I brought the plague upon my family because I was such a failure in life.

I wish I could say that I was feeling okay about this now. That it still didn’t sting. That I didn’t hear those words swirling about my head as I try to move forward, doing whatever I can to further my career. I can’t. But I can say that it won’t break me and that’s really enough for me today.

The Feeling of Impending Failure

Life happens. I just wish it didn’t happen right smack in the middle of NaNoWriMo. At the beginning of this, despite a strong start, I battled with an unbeatable bout of writer’s block. Then that faded into the first plague of the season hitting our house. Then it went into our furnace dying and not having heat for nearly a week. It was one thing or another that seems to be interfering with it. Admittedly, I have been my own worst enemy here. I went in hesitant about the story. Not that I don’t believe that it’s a good premise or a great way to get out of my comfort zone when it comes to my other novels. I doubt myself.

I never wrote in the horror genre because I’m not a huge horror person. I love thrillers. My favorites tend to be in the Japanese horror genre, especially “The Ring”. I have the 3 books and they were fantastic. Aside from those, I have read horror novels since I was a kid where I loved reading Lois Duncan or the “Fear Street” series. Somewhere I lost my passion for that genre. Even today, I enjoy a good psychological thriller sometimes. I don’t want to be slapped in the face with the gore of someone’s intestine being ripped apart or people’s faces being sewn to another person’s butt. I want to be scared because the movie got into my head, not haunting me with disgusting visuals.

My husband is my biggest supporter. Even as things look grim for me completing this year’s NaNoWriMo, he keeps picking me up. “You’ve beat worse writing deadlines before… like every other year you compete.” He’s the forever optimistic, always looking at the positives even as we’re bundled in our winter clothes in our house hoping that a miracle will happen. Me? I’m the forever pessimist that gets enough of a wind from him that ends up pushing me through because for a few brief moments, I feel unstoppable because of him. When I’m not cursing him for suggesting this topic and pushing me to finally write a horror. He isn’t the only one of my family and extended family pushing for a horror novel from me. They believe that I can write something that isn’t total crap. I’m not sure I do.

We have 10 days out for NaNoWriMo. Fortunately with the holiday, I’ll get at least 2 solid uninterrupted days of working on this. If I manage at least a few thousand words each day, I can absolutely do this with time to spare. I just need to push through and hope for the best. Or at least come out with some of my remaining sanity.

The Writing Process

When you work as a writer, everyone expects you to be on all the time. You’re not. At least I’m not, but the thing about writing is that you have to keep doing it anyways. Eventually something is going to stick and work, then you can run with it.  Not everything you write is going to be great. Even George RR Martin had “A Feast for Crows”. In fact, a lot of it will suck. As a writer, you may think more of your work sucks than your fans do but that’s just the nature of the job and who we are as people. Every artist struggles with that and the creative process. It’s not an easy business to be in, especially when you aren’t making any real money doing it. It’s a disheartening job. It’s a job that isn’t for the weak.

NaNoWriMo is a challenge that I attempt every year since I first discovered it. I like challenges. I love writing. It made sense. I’ve even completed it a few times, usually within the last few hours right up to the deadline. That’s how it goes. I never went in with an outline because my tendency is to just let the stories tell themselves. I think of each of my works as a living thing. I’m here to provide the guidelines, give it some bones, advise it as it goes along. Otherwise, I just let the words take off for themselves in the hopes that it comes up with something at least readable.

Then there are the walls. I hit an impressive 10,000 words over the first weekend, giving me the false impression that I was going to crush NaNoWriMo this year. That this was the year I wasn’t having an anxiety attack and working while one eye fell asleep to get those last few words in before the deadline. Then, the wall happened. My body is already craving sleep despite me being very sure that I have slept an acceptable amount. My body is shutting down in fear of failure. Because if I fail at writing, what do I have that I don’t fail at?

I’m a confident and capable person, until I’m not. I have days where I have a meltdown and want to just give up because I don’t think I’m resonating with people. I don’t care if I become rich as a writer. I’d be more than happy just making enough to help out a lot more with the bills. I want to reach people. I want to have people read something I write and think “I’ve definitely been there and I’m glad someone else has too”. I view writing as not just a way to inspire the masses but also one that will help at least someone else realize that they’re not alone. “My kid has anxiety and social development issues too. I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling.” Just hearing something like that pushes me to go forward. I love what I do.

It’s a process. My process involves eating a ton of junk food and hoping that it will kick something into gear. I’m a burst writer. I have days where I can crush 6,0000 words without batting an eye. Then I go a few days where I can barely write 1,000. Some exceedingly awesome days, I can get to 11,000 in a day without even feeling tired. Someone else’s process is to go in with a plan and an outline. I realize, maybe from all of my years “momming” one thing: Nothing goes as planned. When my friends first mention a birthing plan when having a kid, I told them they may as well throw that out the window because it’s not happening unless you’re an incredibly lucky person. Most of us aren’t. I went in with an outline and I strayed from it the first day because the theory didn’t fit the reality.

Until then, I hope that I can get through this wall and get back to creating. I’m already on shaky confidence ground writing in a genre that is way out of my comfort zone because my partner in life and my business really thought I should go for it. Here’s to hoping me and every other writer participating in this challenge makes it through.

And She Said, “I Refuse to Change”

I typically caution anyone who interacts with me that I am who I am. If that’s an issue, it doesn’t bother me; that’s not my problem. I wish I could say that this was because I’m 34 and I’ve learned who I am. No, I’ve known who I am for a long time. My epiphany came at some point in high school when I just decided, “who really cares?” I said whatever I wanted, and if people didn’t like that they could choose not to hang out with me. I refused to change. Correction: I still refuse to change.

The belief that I have to fit into some ideal norm bothers me. This takes any autonomy away from me. Just assuming that you are one way and I have to be that way too is a terrible assumption. I’m never going to fit in at any office place. I may never fit in outside of the house, working in my own little corner of the world. I’ve always been much more successful at things when people just let me be and do things my own way. More often than not in those cases, I exceed expectations. I don’t fit into any normal box. I can’t manage a store or an office. Hell, half the time I can’t even manage my own household and I’m supposed to be a “supermom/stay-at-home goddess”. My house never looks like a museum. In fact, I can guarantee that even if I do clean it to the best of its ability, it will still just look like a house that has 2 boys and a man-child. Part of being confident is knowing these things and being okay with it. My house isn’t a museum; it’s a home where my boys and dogs run around and play, leaving a trail of Legos, candy wrappers, and chip bags. Yes, my kids eat junk food. I’m a terrible mother.

I’m okay with it. I’m okay that I just turned around to see 100s of Nerf bullets on the floor. I’m okay that my teenage son wasn’t listening to me so I shot him with a Nerf gun to get his attention. I’m okay that I’m 6-year-old spent an hour screaming about how I was the worst mother on the planet because despite my telling him not to do something, he did it 5 more times and he ended up losing his computer time. I’m okay that people lecture my parenting or decide that just because I can’t keep a house clean after the tornado and hurricane known as “my children” come home, I’m somehow less than. I’m okay that people think because I stay home that I’m not actually working. That my streaming video games is just me playing around, not as part of a way to build up my brand because it’s not easy being noticed as a writer and you need every little bit of attention that you can get.

I refuse to change my shortcomings. In most cases, there’s nothing that I can even do about them. They are part of my personality. I’m sarcastic and abrasively rude. I go crazy if I’m not using my mind to create something. These are things that make me who I am. And I’m not that bad. Maybe.

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.