Strange New Things

Hello! Long time, no see, Darlings.

I could tell you Everything from even before my last post, really the last two and a half years, every excruciating detail that has brought me to now, a Strange, New Thing typing this post, but…

your speculations are probably more spectacular than the truth.

And I’ve worked so hard to figure out where some big, bad things fit into my life, I don’t really want to rehash them all. My emotions might explode and get into your pretty hair.

So, I’ll sum up in a less aggressive way-bullet points!

  • A very important person in my life made a terrible and uncharacteristic decision. It hurt so many people and cause him great guilt and regret, ultimately leading to his depression and suicide. The suicide happened before we could reconcile. I was 31 weeks pregnant during his funeral. It sucked a lot.
  • After giving birth, I had postpartum depression. Again. It sucked a lot.
  • I was in an unhealthy job situation that, in combination with the above, sucked a lot.

Two and a half years later, I think I may possibly be able to get back out in the world because of the next few bullet points.

  • Strangely, forgiving him wasn’t the biggest issue for me. It was that I didn’t tell him I didn’t hate him as he assumed I did. I was just so. So. Sad. I have come to a “place” where I can forgive myself more every day and grieve properly with each allowance.
  • I’ve been back on the medication that helps me deal with postpartum depression for a long while now. Actually, I believe I’m finally in a spot where I can try getting off of them again, which thrills me.
  • I have a new, positive work environment and I like to go there, to be a part of the “team”. I didn’t know how bad the previous situation was until I experienced something different. I make less money, but can I just tell you Folks that quality of life is worth a million rubies?

So, I’m getting back on track. It actually started at the end of July 2016, but I was embarrassed to tell you all publicly. What if I wasn’t “fixed”? What if nobody told me I had crazy in my teeth? I’ve had a few months of pleasant days now, though, and I feel more…resolved, maybe? That might be the right word.

The next set of bullet points are things I’ve learned going through this mess:

  • Forgive others.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Experience your emotions. Don’t hide them away.
  • Write it out to understand better.
  • Keep hold of your joy.
  • Live the best you can.

I’m feeling good about 2017. I truly hope you are, too.

Kanpai, Lovely People!


August Update

August is over and the end of the year is getting CLOSER! How are you guys getting through your Goals? I’m truckin’ along! Some have been changed due to circumstance and pregnancy, but that’s life, y’all. We deal, right?
I’d like to tell you a little of what I’ve learned since I’ve started to finishing Part II of the First Daft. Before I even started writing, I drafted an entire back story, all the while creating the nuts and bolts of this story. I have an ENORMOUS amount of paper and files that will never see the light of day and that did not have any effect on what I am currently writing. (I reserve the right to change my mind about this as my first draft and first revision isn’t done, but right now I feel like I wasted a whole lot of time dreaming.) So I resolved to start writing and to worry about back story issues along the way. For Part I of the book the only thing I knew when I seriously started writing was at what point the section needed to end and the end of my book all together. These are two super good things to know, by the way. (Well, maybe I had an idea instead of a specific scene about where Part I needed to end, but as the end drew near, I had a specific scene.) But from here to there, I had nothing but a foggy image in my head, y’all. I made it up on the fly and, can I just say, there is a LOT of revising that is going to have to happen in Part I. A. Whole. Lot. I finally got to my ending scene. Reread the section once and got it to CP knowing that it was going to change shape completely, but she had it, and I had my milestone, and she loves me unconditionally, so I knew I would eventually be forgiven. But something had to change for Part II. I wouldn’t survive another almost-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants section. This book would never get done that way. I know me.
So for Part II, I spent time drafting an outline-ish type thing. It was something like a timeline and felt like a lot of “Oh! And then THIS!” with a sentence or two or clever dialogue that sprang up or something. Originally, I wrote it on a flow pad. I think better with a pen in my hand, and when it was done, I transposed it to a document. This worked so very well. I had a starting and a stopping point not only for the second section, but also for each writing day. I’d open up the outline and know what I had finished before and what needed to be written that session. If I’d written something that made the story more interesting, no worries! I’d just alter my outline a little in retrospect, do a quick read through to eliminate plot holes, and move the heck on. I also starting keeping track of how much I wrote, when, and for how long on a chart, which is how I’m able to write these Monthly Update posts.
So now Part II is done, and I’m outline Part III. I have 10 scenes with sentences and I know where I want to end. While I was thinking, I wrote on the first scene and have it completed now. I like that I still feel the progress of writing while I’m in a bit of a holding pattern (outlining), seeing how to get to the end. I still hope I can get through Part III by December 10th (baby’s due date), but we’ll see.
I look forward and dread Revision. There will need to be some major overhauling. My hope is that by the end of it, I’ll be proud that I finished the effort. Because this has been such a HUGE effort.
In short:
Break your story into three sections, know where each section starts and ends, and loosely outline each section before your write it. This formula has worked for me so far, and I hope it saves someone who is starting from scratch months and years of my frustration.

Days with writing in them-3
Hours: 3 hours and 55 minutes
(Not including outlining days, lots of article reading, and a webinar)
Words to Date: 42,631

I hope y’all are pressing on toward the goal! Gotta go pick up my sweet son, now! Later!

May Update

I didn’t reach my May goal for “number of days with writing in them”, but when I realized this midway through May, I tried to make the best of the rest of the month I had left, putting extra time in where I could find it.

Writing Days: 6
Writing Time: 12 hours and 20 minutes (Yay!)
Number of Words: 7,827
Number of Scenes: 3 major scenes plus a little

And a total of 34,610 words in 5 months.

4 3/4 scenes left until Act II is DONE, and I’m happy with the effort put into the 6 days I did write.

I wish my heart was into celebrating. I hope the others who have had a successful writing month will eat some cake for me!

March Update

For March…

*drum roll*

I MET MY WRITING GOAL, which was to write at least 12 days out of this month.

The total stats are–
Days with writing in them: 13
Total number of Words: 7,762
Total amount of Time: 9 hours and 58 minutes.
Year to date word total: 17,921

Closer. CLoser. CLOser. CLOSer. CLOSEr. CLOSER!

Yep, Writing Peeps! This book is getting DONE! Whaaaaaat!

The “Write” Mind

I didn’t believe it.

I read a thousand articles and blogs by all these experienced writers saying that writing doesn’t have to be done in a certain place, at a certain time. I was skeptical because I had worked up an ideal writing situation. One that would involve me, sitting at a proper desk with a view of a willow tree blowing in the breeze, sipping a cup of fancy tea with a hand-woven afghan covering my shoulders, admiring the lines of sunshine crossing over my research and biscotti crumbs, my glasses resting on the peak of my nose while I tuck flyaway wisps of hair behind my ears from my handsomely messy chignon.

Those authors with published novels and book events, they didn’t know how I needed to write. I was so snotty, embarrassingly so, especially for not even owning a hand-woven afghan.

Here’s the thing about the dream scenario v. real-life writing. In the dream, did you notice ANY writing happening? No? Me, neither.

I’m a romantic at heart, and it is totally like me to romanticize the job. As a disclaimer, I’m not knocking dreams. Believe me. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t want to be a Writer. But I’ve learned a lesson as I’ve set writing goals and forced words out while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or ravaging fifteen minutes of my lunch break. The lesson: Novels don’t magically appear from your mind into querying form just because you position yourself exactly as you are in your dream.

Do you feel like you just learned the Tooth Fairy doesn’t exist? Me, too.

I don’t know why I couldn’t have learned this lesson from the above-mentioned thousands of articles that have basically said the exact. Same. Thing. Other than the fact that I have always been hard-headed. As it is, I’m learning it now. Maybe you’re not as stubborn as me and I can save you some pain from disillusionment. I’m writing this for those pliable minds.

The truth?

Maybe, in the future, there will be some days that look like “the dream”, which is why I am planting a willow tree this fall, but for the most part, life gets messy and unpredictable, and writing can happen EVERYWHERE.

It’s freeing. Suddenly, I’m not tied to a squeaky desk chair.

Don’t believe me?

I’ll give you an example. A computer breakdown thwarts my one hour grocery store trip, and there is only one cashier who can’t move to another register. (I live in a small town.) When I lived in the dream, I would be angry at the world for wasting my time and come home flustered, splatting negativity all over Husband until he was in a bad mood, too. Now, I have my book loosely plotted by scenes and I work one scene at a time, so if I get stuck in this type of situation, I pull out my phone app or the notebook-pen combo and just…start writing. It takes a few moments to think of what I’d last written, but that’s all. It helps, too, that I’m a more consistent writer, so I don’t have to struggle to remember what I was working on or how the scene is supposed to “feel”. When the computer magically starts working again and check-out resumes, I’m not mad. I can genuinely smile at the nervous employee, who expects to be yelled at by those in line, and return home with groceries and a happy heart because I’ve got more words to add to my draft.

See? All because I let go of the dream and got into my “write” mind. Bahaha! Cheesy, I know.

To further the cheese, here are clichés I begrudgingly use in this post because they are true:

1. Practice makes perfect- The more I switch mindsets from Mea-the-Mommy/Wife/Daughter/Full-TimeEmployee to Mea-the-Writer the less time it takes and the easier it gets.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff- In a perfect world, every word I write expresses exactly what I want, preciously detailed, and elicits the feelings I want the reader to feel with no revision necessary. This beautiful, broken world, my Friends. If I get ten minutes, I can’t worry if that was the exact word I needed or if MC wore a green or purple cat sweater in the last scene. I write my best and give myself something to revise later. You can’t edit Nothing.

3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.- I’m still learning the best way to keep my wits about me, to let go of the romantic image of Mea-the-Writer, and to revel in the slow but steady pace in which I’m able to carve out writing time. Early in this revelation, there were lots and LOTS of times when all I could do was stare at the paper/phone app, reread the same sentence over and over, and declare myself too verklempt to produce anything new. I had to figure out how to Get Over Myself and write what popped into my head. Though the words were not always usable then, I can now keep a significant number of words from the original impromptu writing jaunt. I’m so thankful that something (and sometimes someone *Shout out to CP!*) pushed me forward when I needed it.

I see this transformation, and I’m amazed at how this whole writing adventure bleeds into other aspects of my life–organization, attitude, relationships…

Just finding something you love and going after it full-force…

I have never been so driven. I have never been so happy.

I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I’m my own experiment!

February Update

I’ve told you guys how much I like my planner, but did I tell you that I’m setting monthly check-points to see if that helps get things done? I didn’t?! Well, I didn’t know if it would work yet, since I had on January for a base and February to experiment with, but I’m loving the preliminary results!
I don’t know how many words I truly wrote in January because I started documenting that on the 21st.
But from the 21st-31st, there are 1,577 new words to LibertyBook (formally known as FirstBook).
For February, there are 6,887 new words, and 11 days that had writing within them, even if it was for 5 minutes.
I’m surprised, you see, how motivating documentation can be, and excitement tickles the base of my spine until I can’t sit still.
Let’s celebrate together on accomplishments, my Writing Pals! Accomplishments come in all sizes. Maybe you finally figured out how MC got from Point C to Point D, or you outlined a new scene, or you wrote your novel in a day, or whatever. (I might claim you are the devil if you wrote a novel in a day. No hard feelings. Just an observation.) Accomplishment is accomplishment, people, no matter the packaging. And that’s what I love about all this! That’s worth celebrating, don’t you think?

So here’s some Pi…
…for getting through another month,fighting for your dream. Here’s to getting closer to your Goal! Here’s to feeling damn good about yourself for persevering through all the things you HAVE to do to get to the few minutes you get to do something you LOVE! Hip, hip, ha-friggin-ray!!

To Planner or Not to Planner?

I have a PLANNER, and I am USING it! Yes, dear friends, I have vowed to be more organized this year, and with all the irons in my metaphorical fire (mom, wife, job, writing, other family, maid, etc.), this has made all the difference. Something else, too… I’m not just putting Things To Do on this list, but also unplanned things I’ve accomplished. So, for example, if I spontaneously make a pair of earrings, I make a note of it.
Oh! And something else… I’m keeping track of my writing time in this amazing contraption! (AND my bank account!) So, when I feel like I’m a stagnating pool of Good for Nothing only capable of harboring mosquito eggs (I kind of grossed myself out a little with that one.), I look back at my planner and realize that I, somehow, carved 50 minutes out of last week last to write 481 words. That is 481 words closer to the end of my first draft, which should fill me with joy. But if that doesn’t help the BLARG feeling, I look at the days I marked Mommy/Son time and remember his sweet hugs and the way he looks into my eyes when he laughs.
Husband has sung the praises of his planner for two years-ish now, and I have finally, FINALLY, acknowledged his song. (I’m stubborn, and I’m working on it.) Now we are a duet, and I am here to tell you I get more done with a planner in my hand than I did without it.
I have a Two Page a Day planner so I can have my work list on the right, my personal list on the left, my bank stuff on the bottom left, and personal appointments or important notes on the top left.
planner 2
Also, it’s pretty, and studies show I am 50% more likely to incorporate pretty things into my life. (The other 50% is reserved for broken things because I love them.) (Wait…I don’t think that math makes sense…)
planner 1
So, if you are on the fence, Planner or Not to Planner, tip the scale to Planner, try it for a month, and if you don’t like it, you’re doing it wrong. Ha!

Nostalgia, You Foul Thing

Wow, but I have just been smacked in the face. I was listening to an interview with Carrie Mesrobian, author of Sex and Violence where she spoke, among other informative topics, about nostalgia in young adult authors. Specifically, how there is a tendency to put our characters in trying situations and have them react in a way that we, as learned, experienced adults, hope they would, rather than have them react as an unexperienced, naïve, or impulsive teen would. Now, if it’s in my character’s nature to act beyond his/her years, then so be it. But not every character will be motivated to make well-thought-out decisions about EVERYTHING in his/her life, especially when they are at emotional odds. Also, not every character who does make an impulsively poor decision is a Bad Guy.
As someone who had a conservative teen experience, I look back on why I made the reserved choices from the decisions I was allowed to make, and doing so, I discover that I didn’t make “right” choices because I weighed the Pros and Cons of the situation and resolved that the result was moral and just in society’s view while it upheld my personal resolution to remain pure and unmarred by the wicked, wicked world. No. I made the “right” choice because I was fearful of the consequences presented by my parents if I weren’t to choose what they brought me up to choose, and if I were honest with myself, I was fearful to experience things outside of my comfort zone because I knew NOTHING of the outside world other than what my parents and my church told me. I don’t want to discuss religion and children, but I do want to discuss my teen cowardice and the way it is affecting my current writing.
I could have removed the veil of fear and judgment from my head and observed the “outside world” for myself, spoke to others on the border of my comfort zone, listened to their needs, desires, likes, dislikes and maybe I would have seen that I had nothing to judge or fear because my longings and their longings were the same. We could have been friends. But what if I didn’t come to that conclusion? At the very least, it would have been my conclusion and not other’s opinions that I took to my heart as fact. And that was my fault. No one else’s.
I know this now as an adult, and I purposefully keep my mind and heart and eyes open, but my teen main characters are as scared as I was to make impulsive, experimental decisions. I brought those same emotions from Way Back When to my writing and unknowingly grasp at them for character development—which totally sucks. Why does it suck, you ask? Currently, both my male and female Mains would rather talk menstrual cycles and ball sacs than discuss anything about their possible relationship or emotional fortitude. That’s why.
So, thanks to this interview, I am aware of my problem. I don’t want to dwell on the idea that after years of reprogramming, that mindset is still hiding inside me. I don’t want to brood in the gloom of What Was with arms crossed, sullen expression, and furrowed brow… as I am mentally at this exact moment. I want to step back; realize, once again, the past is the past; analyze it for what it is; and finally, use it to present life changes in characters to tell a good story.
Why was I fearful? What did I miss while I hid? What other emotions mixed with the fear (shame, guilt, regret?)? Would stepping out from under the shelter of complacency change anything, or would I have ended up the same as I am now, only with different experiences to get me to this exact point? What are the extremes? Answer—timorous reserve and dauntless openness. And somewhere in-between….. Well, hello, there, Beginning of a Character Arc. It’s nice to meet you.


No surprise that in November, protocol requires me to write a thanksgiving post.  I love November because everyone acknowledges things they’re thankful for. Today that is me.

As much as I try to be Mrs. Positive Pants everyday, sometimes that is so stinkin’ hard.  It’s a little easier in November because lots of people try to be Mrs., Miss, or Mr. Positive Pants, and I feed off the positive energy like a leech.  So here I am, hoping to feed you some jolly juice, my fellow Leech, you.

There are the big things…family, my tiny home, my ability to pay for said home, friends, good weather…

I am so in love with my life, even as I struggle to make it better.  I think this is possible because I figured a few things out.  First of all, I know that I strive for worthwhile goals.  The past five years have been so enlightening for me.  In some aspects, I feel like I didn’t really start living MY life until then.  So now, I’m a 30-year-old goal seeker, and I’m just fine with that.  Sure I wish I would have been one of those people who figured things out in high school or something.  Who wouldn’t? But instead of dwelling on all the lost opportunities(which benefits nothing, I found out), I’m trying to make the time I have left so very meaningful.  Being a mom helped me realize how much I can squeeze into one day.  I told a friend of mine just recently that I didn’t know how lazy I was until I had Blue.  You don’t have to have a kid, however, to be aware of how you spend your time.

Secondly, I’m finally my own person.  I care about other people, true, but their words and opinions don’t rule me, and this…this is freeing in a way I never expected.  At Blue’s birthday party, I was able to tell someone close to me that I didn’t want multiple pictures of every, single gift as he “opened” it.  As someone who has been to multiple kid birthday parties, I didn’t want to torture my guests in that way.  There are so many other ways, like making them watch my kid splatter cake all over himself and others for twenty minutes while I hold the food hostage until he’s done. The point is, even though the person was obviously sad about not being a photographer for a day, It didn’t cripple me to tell them to sit down and enjoy the show. It’s my son’s party, gift time is awkward, and I didn’t want to prolong the awkward moment.  The end. I would have said nothing or worried my head off about what the person felt after I did say something 6 years ago.   

So, between a loving, supportive family, worthy goals, and being unabashedly Me, I am the happiest and the most thankful I’ve every been in my life.

I don’t want to lie to you.

Bad things happen.

To me, to people I love, to people I barely like.

But because of those Big Things I grasp like a winning lottery ticket, I am able to deal and still be smiling at the end of it.

When bad things happen to people I love, people I barely like, and even people I kinda don’t like, I try to be that supportive person I know they don’t have because, if they did, they wouldn’t be talking to me.

So there’s that.

There are little Happies, too!! Oh, good gracious, aren’t there!!

Today, my attitude completely changed because I popped a bag of salt and lime natural popcorn. It AMAZED me. Suddenly, I saw flowers everywhere. Birds sang on my shoulder. Bunnies frolicked in the breezeway.

And it dawned on me:

I could be this happy everyday if there was enough salt and lime popcorn in my desk drawer!

No. That’s not right.

I could be this happy everyday if I let the happy small stuff do their thing.

Let yourself laugh out loud at that funny quote, Mea. Don’t be a professional robot.

It’s okay that you like to scotch tape mailouts closed, Mea. You work in an OFFICE and don’t even have to pay for office supplies, so really, you’re a winner.

And if salt and lime popcorn can make birds sing, share.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Open Eye

Disclaimer: This is a plea for human decency and an open eye for compassion. The names of the schools are irrelevant. I am not contesting the final score of a high school football game. In fact, if the students who won deserve congratulations for playing with such heart.

This past weekend, a friend of mine and her friend took their children to an “away” football game. One of the children, a twenty-two year old, physically handicapped, sports lover is fully confined to a wheelchair. Her family makes attending these events a priority because of the enjoyment they experience together. This game put two rivals head-to-head, like Donaghy against Banks (If you don’t watch 30 Rock, they are super-duper rivals.), like Perry the Platypus and Dr. Doofenshmirtz (If you don’t watch Phineas and Ferb, they are super-duper rivals.), like Captain Kirk and Kahn (If you don’t watch Star Trek, I’m through with you.) Needless to say, the winner of the game obtains bragging rights over the opposing team until next year’s game.

The car they drove had a handicap tag, and they followed the signs for the handicapped parking. The parking attendant, however, refused them use of the designated parking lot. The mother of the handicapped girl pointed out the handicapped parking sticker, though it was already prominent. They were again denied the closer parking, claiming that it was only for the home team’s handicapped only and directed them to the opposite side of the entrance, far from the visitor’s seating.

This might not seem like a big issue to some people. Just walk the extra yardage and deal with it. But when you have struggled to lift the weight of an adult into a car, a 50 pound wheel chair into the trunk, a 20 pound pack with everything you might or might not need in case of an emergency, and a million pound smile to make sure the other “normal” children and friends know that everything is okay, even when it’s not, saving a few yards of strenuous walking means a lot.

And what about the child? She tries to be as independent as she can, but there are challenges, like using the restroom and reaching things that people with legs and arms can reach without procuring another person, that wears on her spirit, whittling away her self-esteem and self-worth. Sometimes, it’s easier to manage these oppressive feelings, but when something happens and they slap you in the face, there is no way to pretend you didn’t feel the sting.

This was not the only handicapped family turned away from the designated parking area.

Dear Parking Lot Attendant,
Shame on you.
Shame on you for allowing a sports competition to affect your sense of human decency.
Shame on you for hardening your heart so you don’t know when to practice compassion.
Shame on you for turning away those who openly need help.
Shame on you for acting superior to other human beings.
Shame on you for making everyone in those cars and vans struggle unnecessarily when they have already struggled so much.
It would have cost you nothing to direct the cars with a handicap sticker to where they belonged, which means that you chose to be cruel for the sake of cruelty.
Shame on you.

Because this may seem like a generalization, I note, it was one adult who treated multiple people this way. It’s so quickly, though, that one person can turn into fifty, fifty into a hundred, and for that reason, I am writing this. I call resolution, that we, as a community, won’t let the degradation of other human beings spread. I put forth my hope that this was a one-time event, that this was one person’s warped sense of school pride, that this type of behavior will not be accepted.

Is this rivalry between two schools a legitimate reason to treat people so poorly, handicapped or not?
The answer to this question—no matter your religion, no matter the color of your skin, no matter the label on your car, no matter how prominent your last name is in the community, no matter how much money is in your bank account, no matter how much talent is in your little finger—is a resounding No.

If you thought for an instance otherwise, please check yourself.

Is any reason a legitimate reason to treat people with cruelty?
The answer to this question—no matter your religion, no matter the color of your skin, no matter the label on your car, no matter how prominent your last name is in the community, no matter how much money is in your bank account, no matter how much talent is in your little finger—is a resounding No.

If you thought for an instance otherwise, please check yourself.

Life is worth more respect than you give it sometimes, even if it doesn’t look the same as yours.