Life Update: So Much to be Grateful For

I just wanted to quickly let you know that things are going extremely well for us lately.

Dan’s job has been close to ideal. And my loved one with cancer has had a successful surgery in which they were able to remove the tumor.
2019 has been one of the hardest years of my life, but it’s ending as lovely as it could have. Each trial has been equally matched with a miracle and I’m leaving this year with even more than I started.
The biggest take away for me is the responsibility I feel to give back to others. Good and lucky things don’t happen to everyone every time. I want to remember my good fortune and work hard to help others.
So anyway! Thank you so much for the prayers and positivity. I really believe in my heart that it has made a difference and I’m so grateful to each and every person who has taken the time to read and care.
Love you.
PS Sorry for the quick and hasty writing but it is NaNo season after all. 🙂

Trying To Remember: The Indian in the Cupboard

This is a series where I try to write the synopsis of a movie BASED SOLEY on my ratty childhood memories of it.

 

cupboard

THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD

So there’s this kid… I don’t remember his name, but I remember it’s a really French-sounding name so I’m just going to call him Andre. Andre has, what I assume is a birthday party, where he is given a mysterious stand-alone cupboard by probably his eccentric grandpa or something. He also receives a set of small toy cowboys and Indians.

I’m pretty sure he’s disappointed about these presents and says something like, “I’m not a baby, I’m TWELVE.” Or something. I’m also pretty confident that he is quintessential 90s, with a big drowning shirt, chunky watch and center-parted Backstreet style hair.

90s

So, he’s looking through his plastic toys and for some reason, he puts the *Native American* in the cupboard. He turns the magical and mystical key and when he reopens the cupboard he discovers that his toy has now become a real boy.

realboy

Andre figures out that the Native American’s name is … Blackfoot? Little Blackfoot or something? I think he has to figure it out by pantomime. I don’t think that Little Blackfoot speaks any English. Okay so after the whole hey I’m a giant but I come in peace or whatnot, they become the best of pals. And he takes him to school in his pocket and everything. When Little Blackfoot gets hungry he puts a toy deer in the cupboard and even lets him build a fire in his room to eat it. I think he converts a little toy teepee for him to sleep in.

So someone, probably some dopey friend of his, accidentally puts a toy cowboy in the cupboard and turns the magical key. And this cowboy starts to fight Little Blackfoot and wounds him with his tiny toy rifle. Pierre… or Andre… or whatever the heck that kid’s name is, uses the cupboard to convert a toy soldier medic guy. He dresses the wound and saves Little Blackfoot. And I also feel like the cowboy comes around and they all eat the deer together.

indian31

I know there’s some dramatic scene that takes place in the front yard… and I don’t really know how this movie ends. I’m pretty sure, it just ends with him putting the people back in the cupboard one at a time and turning them back into toys. And I think it’s like this emotional good-bye for Andre because it’s permanent somehow??

Or maybe he continues to see Little Blackfoot every once and a while and they remain friends whenever it’s convenient for Andre to bestow him life. That’s probably the ending, I don’t know.

 

GOES AND READS THE REAL SYNOPSIS

Okay, “OMRI” and “LITTLE BEAR”. So I was close-ish.

The Parking Meter Dork as told by Alex Ness

What happens when you meet a poet on the internet and he tells you some random guy’s embarrassing story? YOU POST IT ON YOUR BLOG OF COURSE!

 

parking meters

 

THE BIGGEST DORK a Twitter DM composed by Alex Ness

“The biggest dork ever was a guy who refused to believe he was a dork.

He would go to lectures (this was back in college) and after a guest lecturer would discuss a famous epic movie, he’d get in line to ask questions and he’d drop the “Where do you get your ideas from” bomb. People would groan any time his hand would go up, and tell him, “You dork”.

So, despite his being called a dork he didn’t see it.

We were walking downtown on a Sunday night in late summer (before the new semester was to begin.) The roads are nearly empty and he starts asking why he was a dork. He perceived dork to mean clumsy, which of course, fits but is by no means the complete example. So he looks at the three others of us, and says “Could a dork do this?”

And he starts leapfrogging road parking meters.

Every five feet he’d leap and do it well. He had a rhythm. It didn’t look dorky at all. Until he leaped before he looked and on his way down to his normal landing position he saw a former parking meter shaft, cut off, at about 4 feet tall, and about 2 inches from his crotch. He screams in a child’s most high pitch fear voice, he can only slightly adjust his descent, and he gets hit straight in his family jewels. And for the next two hours his voice was high pitch, and he was crying.

I didn’t laugh, much, because I thought he ruptured his scrotum or individual nuts.

I offered to take him to ER. He cried for two days almost and told everyone how he was so great leaping the meters. Well, he neglected to tell the whole story, and while I avoided laughing at him and others finished the story, he couldn’t see how he slam-dunked the last chance to not be seen as a dork.

He was not only a dork, he was the Dork King.”

 

Alex Ness is a writer of prose, poetry, and sequential fiction (comics). From the state of Minnesota he shivers and writes in the basement of his home, covered in cats, and drinking Diet Mountain Dew. He loves myth, legends, and the power of words to tell epic and universal truths. His work can be found here https://www.amazon.com/Alex-Ness/e/B00TYW7724

NaNoWriMo 2019!

So I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year. Woot woot!!!! So excited for it too. I didn’t participate last year because ya know… newborns will do that to you. But back at it again with the lofty writing goals.

  • REAL QUICK If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is… It stands for National Novel Writing Month. Authors from all over the globe attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November. I’ve already been working on it for several days now.

Last time I did it I FREAKING CRUSHED IT. Finished my whole novel in THREE WEEKS. But I’m kind of a freak when it comes to writing soooo… Do I anticipate to do that again? Abso-freaking-lutely NOT. haha. For some reason (a reasonable reason) adding the second kid really slowed me down when it comes to drafting.

But I DID do 10k in a single day with both kids so… I could just do five of those and then… ugh. That makes me feel so tired I can’t even finish that sentence.

I’m doing a couple of things differently this year and I’m *intrigued* to see how they go.

One of the biggest differences is that I’m not going in sequential order. This is the 4th novel I’ve started and I’ve always strictly gone in order. Chapter One, Two, Three… But yeah, I’ve decided I’m not doing that this year. This time if there is a scene I’m really excited “to get to”, I’m just going to straight-up write it!

I’m also going to dabble in dictation. I’ve used it a little with outlining and blogging but never drafting. I think it would help with speed or situations where I can’t sit down and write, but I dunnnnoooo… my speech to text on both my phone and laptop are hilariously inaccurate. So if I do too much of it, I’m going to be rewriting my whole book in the editing room.

I also am going to vlog a little each day. *Try to* that is, so don’t hold me to it.

If the NaNo site fixed their links, you can see how I’m doing here:

https://nanowrimo.org/participants/val-manwill

 

A Halloween Themed Embarrassing Story for Actual Halloween

It’s been so dang long since I’ve told an embarrassing story. Too long! And it’s not that I don’t have any. I have MORE THAN FREAKING ENOUGH. So, here you go, here’s a Halloween themed one for you.

So once upon a time, my friends and I decided to go to this “new and upcoming” haunted spot. Well, so okay, it wasn’t new new. When I was a teenager, everyone basically had trespassed at Kay’s Cross at one time or another. It was like this weird stone cross in the middle of this wooded area that no one really knew who built it or why. It was assumed that it was built by this Cult leader in the 20s. And anyway, just a lot of mythos and legend surrounding the place.

Kay's cross

So, a few years ago, the owners of the property decided to give tours of this creepy place. And I had never actually gone to Kay’s Cross as an adventurous teenager so I was like, Hey. What’s a better “quarter-life” crisis than this, huh?

I remember as we were driving there, I was so freaked out for some reason. It was me and another married couple (like my usual life) And even just driving there we were jumping at everything. Wrong turn OOOOOOH. Dark culdesac OOOOOOH. A kid on a moped. OOOOOOOOOOOOH.

spooky

We get there and NOT A SPONSOR. But that place was crazy amazing. It was just some kid taking us on this spooky wooded walk, telling us weird stories about things that had happened there. And I was EATING IT THE FREAK UP. Like I don’t know if it was the atmosphere or what. But I was CREEPED THE HECK OUTTA THERE.

I feel like the traditional haunted house nowadays are built solely on the idea of jumpscares. Which, sure… spending twenty-five dollars to be yelled at for an hour is traumatizing I guess. But this place was entirely different (at least at the time that I went to it. I haven’t been back… probably because of the following story…)

We get to this heavily wooded spot and our tour guide announces to keep our eyes open because this is usually a spot where people “see things”. He said that every single time they walk through this spot at least one person in the group will see a dark figure or like a child or something. Again, I AM BUYING INTO THIS SO HARD. The power of suggestion is NO JOKE! Really!

giphy

Now JUST LIKE I MENTIONED BEFORE… in a traditional haunted house, a guy with a chainsaw is a good jump scare but like the loud sound just kind of melts into the rest of the background. You know what I mean? There’s nothing really that special about it.

BUT THIS TIME it was TOTALLY DIFFERENT!

Everything had lead up to this one moment. Like this slow, eerie, dead-quiet build-up for a half an hour. And then BOOM, this loud chainsaw starts BRRBRRRR-RRRRR! My scream was so loud it tore up my throat on the way out. And also … something else happened…

An uncontrollable stream… no freaking joke… I am not talking about a little piddle. I am telling you that MY BLADDER EMPTIED. COMPLETELY. Down my freaking leg.

waterfall

Okay, I had always heard that joke. That someone could be so scared they pee themselves. I DIDN’T REALIZE JUST HOW BAD IT COULD BE IN REAL LIFE.

And don’t forget, I carpooled with someone… so I wrap my coat around my freaking waist so I wouldn’t get pee all over their seat. It was bad.

puddle

So yeah. I’m a baby. I apparently need to start wearing diapers to haunted houses now. It’s cool.

 

Trying to Remember: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island

This is a series where I try to write the synopsis of a movie BASED SOLELY on my ratty childhood memories of it.

Scooby-doo-on-zombie-island

SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND

Um, okay. Spoiler Alerts. Maybe. Hahaha

So Scooby-Doo and the gang have split up and gone their separate ways… wait… isn’t this the plot of the live-action movie? Hmm not off to a good start… Okay, so Daphne and Fred are like in a random marketplace or something and this girl naaaamed… Leyla?… tells them that she lives on an island in the Louisiana bayou and that the island is TRULY HAUNTED. Daphne who is… like an investigative news reporter now, for some reason, is like YO! LET’S GO! And they have to gather the gang back up, which apparently isn’t hard once they tell Scooby and Shaggy about all the Gumbo that they will eat there.

So this gruff riverboat guy takes them to the island where Scooby gets into a fight with a catfish for some reason. And then they meet Leyla and her sister… um… blonde Leyla. Blonde Leyla is pretty hospitable, except that she doesn’t like Scooby because he’s an icky dog.

Daphne immediately goes into the kitchen to film some like reporter thing. And while she’s filming, a civil war ghost appears and carves “GET OUT” on the wall with his sword. So Daphne takes a spoon and starts scraping the wallpaper off (Lol is this memory even real?). Leyla is like WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU WHY ARE YOU DESTROYING MY KITCHEN?! And that’s when Daphne is like Hey this wall has been made from an old pilgrim ship… or something like that.

shiplap joke

omgshiplap
OMG SHIPLAP!!

 

So anyways, one night, zombies start chasing them. And there is a SUPER COOL THEME SONG THAT PLAYS. And then I think maybe Shaggy falls into a pit or something? Iono. But the sun comes up and the zombies, like, slink back into the mud and disappear.

So probably some other stuff happens and mystery-solving that I don’t remember. But then they discover that Leyla and Blonde Leyla are actually… evil cat people (???). And gruff riverboat guy is actually an evil cat person too! So they’re stuck on the island. And all the cat monsters have been trapping people and sucking out their souls and turning them into zombies… I think to be able to live forever or something? And also I feel like there’s some big monologue about how their feelings were hurt by pilgrims or whatever.

anigif_enhanced-8738-1413402888-22

Anyway, Scooby saves them somehow, but I don’t remember. I think he breaks their little green scepter thing that sucks out their souls… No, wait… that’s the live-action version again…

Um. Scooby saves the day and gets a Scooby Snack. THE END!

 

GOES AND READS THE ACTUAL SYNOPSIS

Wow. Pretty bang on.

 

 

 

A Spooky Writing Update

I went to that conference I said I was going to go to. And it was super helpful. Um, not in the way that I thought it would be though.

I had a critique workshop. And oh, boy. You know yours isn’t very good when everyone pauses before their critique and goes, “Okay, yeah… … so this one…”

critiqueaww

*Me, listening to their critiques with my hand on my chin.* Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Yep. Okay. Perfect! I know exactly how to fix this.

*scoops entire manuscript off the desk and into the wastebasket underneath*

I’m kind of glad. From the beginning, I knew this had some really messy challenges. It was the first novel that I had ever formally finished and even though the premise is cool, it’s extremely difficult to pin down and write… and have it make any sense.

I spent the first day of the conference mourning the unpublishable mess I had scooped together, and then the next day of the conference pushed me in a really good direction. I realized that through all of the obsession over publishing I had completely abandoned my original dream (I couldn’t think of a less dramatic way to say it haha). That dream is to one day in my lifetime, have an entire bookcase full of my own printed-out manuscripts. I’ll always aspire to be traditionally published, but I have too many book ideas to be married to just one.

The fog lifted. The direction became clear. I NEED to start writing my next book IMMEDIATELY. That has been the obvious take away from both the conference… and also from being aggressively haunted…

haunted

Yeah, so, okay. There are muses. And then there is Lennon. I’ve already mentioned how pushy he is as a muse … it’s no joke. I COMPLETELY understand why there are THOUSANDS of books and movies (and Broadway plays even) that are all about him. Because honestly, once he picks you. You’re done. You’re writing something for him right then and there. Maybe that’s even how he continues to influence music. I mean, probably.

musician

I tried to read a book. A manuscript for my critique partner. And this imaginary Lennon-presence-thing would have none of it.

 

LENNON: Reading again, ay?

ME: Go away, John, this has nothing to do with you.

LENNON: Hmm, you’re right you know. How about this ol’ bookie that Cyn wrote about me, then?

ME: No, thanks.

LENNON: Let’s have a look…

ME: I already committed to—

LENNON: LET’S HAVE A LOOK THEN, SHALL WE!

 

So, whatever, I ended up switching mid-way through for one of the books that Cynthia Lennon wrote. (“John”) I read it in like a single day, because of this imaginary shotgun to the head. At the end of the book she mentions that John had once told Julian that if anything were to ever happen to him, he would send a white feather. So that anytime Julian saw a white feather he would know that ‘John was there and watching out for him’. Which I thought was a really nice sentiment.

OKAY UNTIL WHITE FEATHERS STARTED SPONTANEOUSLY POPPING UP ALL AROUND ME EVERY FREAKING DAY.

The first time, it was a cool anomaly. I was walking the boys to my neighbor’s house and there it was. A perfect pure white tail feather. I was ecstatic, because wow, what were the odds of finding a pure white feather the day after finishing that book? I took a picture even.

20190726_114437
awkward phone shadow bro

I began seeing white feathers every single day (still do btw). On the sidewalk, on my car, on the playground, even in the pool.

One time, we took the kids outside to play and I told my husband about how weird it was that I was finding these perfectly white feathers all over. He totally laughed at me. He said, “Okay, just because you have a little crush on John Lennon you think he’s trying to give you a sign or something…” I shrugged. Because, yeah, that was probably right. And I went inside the apartment to get the boys a drink of water…

My husband swears that right after our conversation, as soon as I shut the door behind myself, A WHITE FEATHER DROPPED FROM A BIRD AS IT FLEW OVERHEAD, RIGHT WHERE I HAD BEEN. And he got the heebie jeebies … and now he doesn’t make fun of me for it anymore…

But even after that, I was like, wow. Pretty funny coincidence…

Do I need to mention again how pushy this muse is?

John-being-cheeky-in-the-plane-the-beatles-41011791-497-322

This one day, I’m coming back from lunch with the boys. I get out of my car. Notice the feather. Haha, there’s my feather for the day. Cute. Still happening. I take another step. Another feather. Step. Feather. Step. Feather.

I freaking look up to see -THIS IS NOT A JOKE OR MADE UP STORY OR PRANK PULLED BY MY HUSBAND THIS IS A REAL THING THAT HAPPENED THE OTHER DAY – small white feathers were scattered on both sides of the pavement leading all the way up to my front door.

I slowly walk inside with my children. Turn the deadbolt. And call Ghostbusters.

Anyway, long story short, I started writing a book about John Lennon. So, that’s fun!

 

A Dark and Funny Graphic Novel to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

PlagueC.png

 

Hey! If you haven’t noticed by now, I love to support indie authors. Especially if they have really cool books. And especially ESPECIALLY if those books are spooky and hilarious graphic novels…

I would like to turn your attention to The Plague and Dr. Caim, which is all about a medieval doctor as he attempts to treat people with the bubonic plague.

C. E. Gallas was so kind as to send me a few previews for you to check out. If you are interested in the project, I recommend supporting him in this way: https://unbound.com/books/the-plague-and-doctor-caim/

 

Plague3.png

Plague2

Plague1

 

I feature indie authors often and give shout outs as often as I can. If you have a book you would like featured you can contact me here or follow me on Twitter for other opportunities.

Trying to Remember: Kiki’s Delivery Service

The other day, Dan was asking me about Kiki’s Delivery Service. (You know, one of those two in the morning conversations.) And something occurred to me…

THIS MOVIE THAT I HAD WATCHED LIKE EVERY DAY AS A CHILD WAS BARELY IN MY BRAIN ANYMORE. How can that be possible? I know I’ve seen this movie more than a dozen times. So what? Fifteen little measly years can go by and erase this BEAUTIFUL CLASSIC MASTERPIECE FROM MY LIFE???

So, I had an idea. (You know, one of those two in the morning ideas.) What if I tried to explain the movie with only the vague bits and pieces that I remembered? And ALSO what if I embarrassed myself by making it a whole series on my blog?

Beautiful. Let’s do it.

kiki

KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE: A VERY SHODDY SYNOPSIS

 

Okay, so there’s this witch with a big red bow and a black cat. And she lives with her… family (???) in the woods (?????). And the family is like, Hey now, your power is flying on a broomstick so you need to go and do something with your life and… help people probably. So, I guess this child witch has come of age and ventures off to… venture, I guess.

While she’s flying around looking for a place to be a witch, she runs into another witch flying along with a white cat. She tries to talk to her, but the other witch BLATANTLY SNUBS HER. And she’s like WOW what a little B-witch. And then that witch character never appears in the story again… I’m pretty sure…

snot

Okay, then she ends up in this… French looking town? And finds a bakery and tells the old woman, “Hey, I can help you deliver your rolls by flying all around town.” And the old woman says, “Cool. You can live in my attic if you want.”

So, she… delivers bread around town… getting to know townspeople and stuff. And like helping them? Okay, maybe I’m actually thinking of Pollyanna… I don’t know. I legit am getting a headache, I am trying SO FREAKING HARD TO REMEMBER THIS.

Um, alright, so there’s a nerdy boy with a striped shirt and they become friends. And… some stuff happens… and she can’t fly for some reason… and it’s important that she fly because of… another reason. So this cute nerdy boy takes her on what I think is a bike. Lmao I don’t know why I’m imagining a blimp / bike. I think that’s wrong. But whatever, so this kid takes her on a blimp / bike and she gets it to fly. And they… deliver… the bread.

notablimp

Um, The End. I guess.

 

GOES AND READS THE REAL SYNOPSIS

 

Okay. Wow.  What? Not even close.

Why do I not remember this? IT’S SUPER CUTE. Where can I buy this movie??