Naked At The Olive Garden

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Going out to dinner with a two year old is always a mistake. At least I think it is, because I don’t remember the other three being like this at two. Maybe it’s like childbirth. The memory of the pain just disappears after the ordeal, something your mind does to fool you into having another child. Which would explain why I thought it was a swell idea to go to the Olive Garden with the husband and two girls (the boys escaped to hang out with friends).

It started out fine. We declined the booster seat, because in the hands of a two year old, it becomes a murder weapon. I forgot that they have what my six year old refers to as “wheel chairs.” So, she spent the majority of dinner ramming the woman behind us and trying to crack the teeth out of her skull. The salad on her plate ended up on the floor in a nice tidy pile (should I be happy it was in a pile and not strewn around the floor?). A grape was used as a volleyball when she tossed it in her sisters spaghetti and it was lobbed back by a six year old who thought that was appropriate behavior. The husband might as well have been at another table since he was in la la land (probably day dreaming about the family he could have had).

Whether the other three were like this or not, I can say this two year old upped the ante when she took her diaper off at the table. Just stood up on her chair and whipped it off. I wonder how many diners thought, ‘Wow, this is a first.’ My daughter officially turned a family restaurant into a strip joint. It’s times like this when I look at my husband and think, ‘You must have been a horrible child.’ I can only imagine what he did as a child to make his mother lay down the “curse”. Because, let’s face it, one of us was bad enough to get “a child just like you,” and I was a good girl. Well, I wasn’t bad enough that I should have a child who would do a strip tease on a chair in the Olive Garden.

In advance, thank you for not mentioning that’s exactly what I do have.

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This House has been Quarantined

If there was a picture I could put up for this post, it would be a pile of Kleenexes (totally inappropriate) or a petrie dish (which turns out would be a picture of my children). This “cold” is awful. Somewhere along the way, it has morphed. Now I’m not saying it turned into ebola or something equally terrible, but I’m pretty sure it has turned into a walking dead disease. My oldest daughter brought it home from school, she promptly gave it to my oldest son. A week went by and everyone was feeling good. It hit me on the hottest day of the week. I decided to write through it. Hey, I was on a roll. Working on the scenes introducing my characters. Not good. Of course, I have been waiting for four days for this thing to leave my head and hit my chest (most of my colds head south after a couple of days), but it didn’t happen. I reread the introduction of my main character. I would like to say it read awesome. Ha! Half of the sentences looked like I was writing two sentences at once. Oh, and this is my favorite sentence “All four of her children had carefully thought out names with several nicknames.” I must be starting to feel better, because I can only imagine the state I was in that I would actually believe that sentence made sense. But hey, at least I got something down and it can be reworked.

Hopefully this cold is days away from leaving. Unfortunately, my other son has caught it and now I know how I looked this week. Not a pretty sight. Cross your fingers that it misses the youngest. And if anyone decides to pay us a visit, wear your hazmat suit and smile, nod, and back away slowly if I insist that anything I have written is good.

Little Gifts

The novel I am working on now is slow going. Thank goodness for Sarah Domet’s 90 Days To Your Novel. I started this novel with a ‘what if’ scenario and nothing more. The daily assignments have really fleshed it out. I was thinking 90 days would be a breeze, after all, I finished the last one in 90 days. It clicked somewhere at the end of the week that it is 90 days total, from planning to finishing the first draft, which ends up being about 60 days of writing. Slight panic attack. 😉 But I am still on course for finishing this before Thanksgiving.

Today’s assignment is figuring out my POV. So back to a scene I wrote the previous day to try 3 different points of view. I will admit, I whined a little. After all, I wrote it in third person limited, so why do I have to write it that way again? This made me think of other times in my life where I didn’t want to have to go back. Remember those sheets in school where the teacher told you to read all of the questions first and then go back and answer the questions? I would never read through and I would just start answering the questions as I read them (why do things twice?). Then at the end you find out you were only supposed to answer 1 and 3. Anyway, that’s how this assignment feels to me. But, these assignments have really brought my characters to life and I have some scenes already partially written. The plotting doesn’t happen until assignment 14, which feels like a long way off at this point.

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A gift from my 6 year old.

But I will take the little gifts that this book is giving me. Like characters who are turning out a lot different than I thought they would, and scenes that will be done before I even write my first line in my novel. Now back to redoing a previous scene to find the correct point of view and trust that in the long run, this will make my novel that much better.

Writing Contest

This post is for a Writing Contest: You Are A Writer by Positive Writer.

I knew I was a writer at age 9. Before that, I was a mediocre student who spent my time between assignments engineering the perfect spitball. At 9, I met the teacher who would change my life.

Mr. Curlee seemed nice when we first met at open house, but they all started out that way. Halfway through the year they all realized I did the bare minimum, then they became critical of all the work I did. But enter a new teacher with a new agenda. Creative Writing. Every morning started with writing in our journals. He would give us the daily topic and told us to write. Just write. It took me a while to get the hang of it, free writing wasn’t something previous teachers had promoted, but then I was hooked. We wrote about our dreams, our lives, even fiction was promoted. That was when I decided that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Every piece of writing I handed in was returned with positive feedback (another first for me), and it fueled my desire to sit with a pencil and pad of paper for the rest of my life.

I wrote my first novel at 10 (about a girl and her Pegasus), my second at 12 (about time traveling siblings), and then I spent my teenage years writing poems and short stories that got me into writing conferences sponsored by the school district. I took the mentorship program in high school with a resident writer at North Hennepin Community College. I took writing classes in college. In my mid-twenties my writing took a backseat to life events. Working, Marriage, and raising children consumed my life, as did the hobbies I started to acquire. Before the birth of my fourth child, I attempted the Novel in a Month challenge. I did it! But that first draft stayed in a drawer as I let myself be swept away in the busyness of raising my babies.

It wasn’t until four months ago that I started writing fiction again. I often wonder why I stopped writing. Writing has gotten me through a lot of tough spots in my life. It is cheaper than therapy, it is more fun than a movie, you are never alone when you write, and it is the only time I am confident with who I am. I know I am a writer because that is when I am happiest and the most fulfilled.

I was introduced to the person who would change my life at an early age, a person who introduced me to something that gave me purpose and hope. I was lucky. If not for this one teacher in my life, would I have ever found out that I am a writer? How many people have never had a person in their life who encouraged them to do something that they love? I am a writer. It is a part of me, I would say it even defines the person I am today.

Summers End

To most people summer is still in full swing. Around here…not so much. Two of my children started the new school year last week and the oldest is starting online school next Monday. In this family, Summer is officially over.

The raspberries and strawberries are done for the season. The experimental potato in a pot is doing it’s thing (whatever it’s thing is). The onions, peas, and beans are growing like crazy in our garden. The garden by the way is too small. My children have turned it into a snacking garden, so we have yet to enjoy the benefits of fresh veggies at the dinner table. Garden expansion is scheduled for Spring 2014. Another thing that I put off for the season, but for a good reason since I was in the middle of writing my novel.

It is not impossible to enjoy the remainder of summer with two children gone all day, it just isn’t as much fun. The youngest and I left the oldest sleeping at home (he is a teenager) and met up with family to go to a park. Every time I go somewhere with her, I marvel at my ability to track her every movement. Following one child around a park is an experience I could never get used to again. Well, maybe after they are all out of the house and have children of their own. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy myself, I always find myself amazed by my children. Watching my two year old strut around the park interacting with other children was interesting. I just assumed she was shy (she refuses to have conversations with adults), but watching her chatter at the other kids proved me wrong. As the youngest, she has constantly been compared to the other three. “She has attitude like her sister”, “She has dimples like her brother”, and “Yep, just like the oldest, runs off to poop in the corner.” She is a mixture of all of them and somehow her own little person.

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And she is TWO, which has officially earned her the nickname “Dictator.” Which of all the nicknames I have given my children over the years (Nugget, Chunky Monkey, Pissy Missy) is probably the most accurate one I have come up with. And this is the child that doesn’t know Summer has ended. Summer won’t end for another three years for this one. No matter how mom is feeling, my youngest will want to play in the pool, dig in the dirt, go to the park, eat out of the garden, and picnic on the deck. Seasons don’t matter to my youngest (I could make the same claim for the other three), so we finish out the Summer that doesn’t feel like Summer anymore. And I know when she is released from the house, she will head straight for the garden for her morning snack before her daily trek to the play set. Then we’ll come in for lunch, her smelling of Summer (dirt, sweat, and sunshine) and finally the Summer nap crash. It most be wonderful to be a two year old, but being the mother of a two year old at nap time is a hundred times better. 🙂

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Missing: Baby Name Book

I am on day 3 of my first three weeks of planning my next novel. The first two assignments in the book 90 Days To Your Novel by Sarah Domet went pretty good. When I opened to assignment 3 this morning and realized today is about my characters, well, this is definitely going to be a slow going assignment. I don’t have any of my characters named. I have ideas on who they are, I know who is who and how they are related to each other, but no names. For some reason, this is the book that wants to be written right now. The last two weeks of my last novel, I kept thinking about this book. So, last week I decided to start finding character names. Sounds pretty easy, right? Run downstairs, grab the baby name books, and start looking for the ones that jump out at me. Except that I walked down into this:

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Nobody goes down into the basement, well, obviously people go down there to throw things all over the floor, but no one needs to go down there. Yes, I feel a little ashamed of the mess, boxes of clothes that don’t fit the youngest, bins of clothes that will fit the youngest some day, bags of things to be filed, a workout system that never got put together right, piles of books, piles of preschool workbooks, and the things that people just drop at our house and leave (the sleeping bag in the white bag, the crutches, and we are storing someone’s personal items in our crawl space for the last year). I have the best of intentions with this basement (notice the file boxes in the back of the photo) and it has been cleaned several times, but out of sight, out of mind.

Last week I go down to look for the baby name books and couldn’t find them. Surprised? I kind of was. 98% of my books are actually on the bookshelves in the back corner, but I couldn’t find the ones I needed. I vaguely remember throwing one out because it was falling apart and I am not the girl who holds books together with a rubber band. I was going to finally purchase a new one. The book was 22 years old and well read (I even used it to search up potential names for my own children), the thing needed to be retired. The problem is that I never bought a new one (though I know there are at least two other name books somewhere in that mess). So I requested one from the library and picked it up yesterday along with several books I had requested for research. Not a big fan of this name book. I like my character names to have meaning, heck, I like my children’s names to have meaning (just don’t ask me what their names mean), and this book does not list the meaning. The book isn’t completely worthless to me, it does say when the name came into popularity, so at least I know if it was likely my character would have been named that. My biggest issue is the layout of the book. I like my baby name books nice and orderly, this book feels like total chaos. It gives me the same feeling I had the first time I went into a Christian bookstore to buy my first Bible: overwhelmed.

But I am determined to conquer this assignment, so I will trudge through this baby name book and make sure the next time I am out and about to purchase a new name book. And I should probably conquer that basement, or at least chip away at it.

90 Days

So, I am starting my next novel, at least the plotting, characters and definitely the research. I have a few writing books sitting around that supposedly bring you from idea to finished first draft.  Since I can’t do them all at once, I am giving the book 90 Days To Your Novel by Sarah Domet a try.

90 Day To Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book by Sarah Domet

90 Day To Your Novel: A Day-by-Day Plan for Outlining & Writing Your Book by Sarah Domet

Should be interesting. We will see how well this goes. According to the plan, the first three weeks are “Brainstorm, Chart & Outline.” Each day you are given an assignment to help you with this.

I have an idea for my next book, I just haven’t fully developed it, so I am hoping that these next three weeks will help me with that. I have always wanted to attempt some of these books to see if they actually work. With the still euphoric feeling of finishing the first draft of my last book, I feel like I can attempt this.

So, onward with Assignment for Day 1. Wish me luck.