Valerie Manwill writes coming of age novels and stories with quirky twists. She is an award-winning playwright and has a handful of stories published in varying anthologies. Other braggadocio includes being fluent in both Spanish and Golden Era Vines. Valerie melts in the Arizona sun with her two baby boys and snarky husband.
It’s a journal that was given to me in May 1994 (says my mother’s handwriting on the inside of the cover). I was three years old and already loved to write. The first story I remember “writing” (drawing) was about getting the chicken pox, which Mom says happened the same year I got the journal. So, I knew I had been writing and story telling since then, but finding this thing was an absolute GEM.
It turns out I had kept it through the nineties and completely FILLED it full of my own original stories. So many in fact, that I decided to start a new blog series where I share a story I wrote in this book as a child.
Let’s start with 1994. Three years old. (For personal reference, my youngest is two and my oldest has just turned five, so… pretty little!)
The first thing I did was open to a fresh page and draw a “boney-bones” (a skeleton). Very on brand for me.
A ghost that’s labeled “Boob” hahahaha
Then I redrew the ghost and labelled it “Book”
A little character I drew in November 1994 (so, now I’m technically 4)
I figured out how to draw a tape dispenser. I have a vivid memory of being really excited about this haha
This one I don’t remember but my mom’s caption says it’s a story about a father and a son.
Tune in next month for some serious kindergartener author action hahaha.
Let’s check in on some of these resolutions shall we?
MAKE A LIST OF THINGS TO PUT TOGETHER IN THE NEW HOUSE; DO SOME OF THE THINGS:
Things are HAPPENING! Let me tell you I am THRILLED. The first half of the year, I thought things were going so slowly, but now as more and more things are checked off the list, I see just how much progress we’re actually making! It’s great! We even checked off our two biggest projects this quarter. Fixing our irrigation system and putting new lights in the basement. Man, you know you’re a boring adult when you do some remodeling and then that’s all you want to talk about. Every time anyone comes over I’m like, “Look at these lights! Have you seen how bright it is?? You shoulda seen it before! The paint color is different! Aren’t these great lights? Look, they’re smart lights I can make them Christmas colors wheeeeeeeeee!”
MAKE A HABIT OF STRETCHING EVERY DAY, SLOWLY BUILD UP A YOGA ROUTINE:
Well, this one suddenly died. Pffffffft! I don’t know what happened! I was doing so well and then suddenly I wasn’t doing well anymore!
CLEAN WHILE THE BOYS ARE IN THE BATH
And then this one suddenly came alive. HAHAHA! What happened was Jack started going to school every day. And so I was like THIS IS IT. I am DOING A FREAKING CLEANING ROUTINE. And so far it’s going well. I don’t know why I can’t have a cleaning routine AND an excersice routine. It’s like one or the other. Like I have to just pick one to win at in life.
WRITING WRITING EVERYWHERE
I mean… I don’t know. I’m at a little bit of a loss. I’m now in the middle of two books. Both paranormal thrillers. Sooooo… I JUST DON’T KNOW! I was doing great with the one and then suddenly I stopped writing in the middle of May. And I have not been able to pick it back up. It kind of freaks me out. This happens to me a lot. I will be PLOWING forward on a new project and then get burnt out at thirty thousand words. HOW DO YOU GET OVER THAT HURDLE??? Comment any advice please!! At least I’m back to blogging so that part is okay. Short story I don’t know. But first draft done by fall?? UGHHHHH! JUST LET THIS HAPPEN FOR ME PLEASE MUSES!!
Several months ago I learned that there was a psychic just around the corner from my house… and I set up an appointment with her.
Dan thought it was the cringiest thing ever to spend money on a psychic. But I was really curious. Not that I believed in it necessarily, but people pay to go and see magicians all the time even though they know it’s an illusion. So why couldn’t I go and do this for the entertainment value? I mean I knew it was an illusion. That they use super broad questions and statements to make it seem like they’re saying something about you. And just the same as a magician, I wanted to see if I could catch her in the act and analyze how her storytelling.
So that’s how I went in. As a skeptic… Then, I came out a believer.
It was not at all how I thought it was going to be. Her statements were not generalized, in fact they were extremely specific. She didn’t lead me with a single question. Not even a how ya doing. She literally had me sit down, I said nothing, not even my name. And then told me point blank about my life with total accuracy. It was EERIE.
Here are some of the things she told me:
“You have a really positive family energy around you. But you’re worried about Mom’s health… this is something that’s been happening for a couple of years… something that’s declined her health but not affected the quality of her life. I expect she’ll still have another 10 years of really good quality life, so take advantage of this.” A couple of years ago my mom had cancer. She had a major surgery to remove the tumor, which also took her spleen and kidney as well. As of now my mom is okay, but because she no longer has a spleen, she’s immunocompromised and COVID has been extra stressful for our family. There’s no way that this psychic could have known that. I’ve never publicly expressed about my mother’s health until now.
“I see a gathering… your family will all gather and reunite sometime this year. It will be a happy occasion. I also see a wedding happening in your family this year.” My brother and sister-in-law are planning a wedding in Kosovo for August
“Career energy is low. You’re not where you want to be. You’re disappointed. You’re just going through the motions, dreaming of… a promotion or an advancement of some kind… I see two projects. The first project was supposed to be done by the end of the year. And it wasn’t and you’re frustrated by this. I see this project coming to an end soon… something really positive will happen in April. April will advance you in some way but be hectic and busy for you… the second project… is very positive. Very, very positive energy about the second project! … this second project will get you the advancement you want. These projects will keep you very busy this year.” I never told this woman that I was a writer. At the time of the reading I had been working on two books. I had a goal to finish the first one by the end of the year but wasn’t able to. April was Camp NaNoWriMo where I worked on a big chunk of the second book! I had not told anyone that I was planning to execute such an ambitious NaNoWriMo in April…
“I keep feeling ‘classes’ are coming your way… but you won’t return to school… were you a teacher? I think you’ll begin teaching again. You’ll have your own ‘classes’… I also see… something in the community. A director. You’ll be a director for the community… you don’t think you have the ability to do this but it’s in your potential and you’ll excel at this.” The only question she asked the whole time, I said yes, I was a teacher but didn’t tell her what I was a teacher of… she came up with the word director herself.
“A child was supposed to come, but something happened, something delayed this… This year you’ll make preparations for the child but the timing will be hard to get right… I see a little longer to get pregnant, it might put you on edge… I see more the beginning of 2022… It will be a very easy pregnancy, right until the end and then there’s a complication, something very difficult right at the end… But the baby will be healthy… And it will be a girl.” Daniel and I were originally going to try for a baby after moving into the new house but put it off due to coronavirus. We had just started talking about trying again.
“You’ve been afraid of this new phase of life. The addition of this child. Because things have been difficult already and they’re supposed to be ‘the best years of your life’. But this isn’t true… and they won’t be the best years of your life. You’ll step into this new phase with competence.”
“I see a total of four children. I think the last one will be a happy surprise. But you’ll be content and excited. Only a little nervous because of the ending difficulty of the pregnancy before.”
“I see you moving out of Arizona… you like it here and will be settled and happy for a few more years… It’ll be somewhere in the West, I don’t see you going to the East coast… and not costal… inland. Somewhere with mountains. You’ll be pulled toward the mountains. I see it’s a career opportunity and that it’s a happy move. You’ll travel back to Arizona often and have ties here.” We’ve always talked about returning to Utah if we get the chance.
“A see a second property. In Arizona. It will be a good investment for you and your husband.” This one freaked us out! Just the other week we had played around with the idea of purchasing a condo and renting it out. We were only being half-serious and hadn’t told a single soul we thought about doing that! She brought up the second property a couple of times!
“Your husband is a very good man. Very giving. And supportive. Would do anything for anyone. You are just as good as him. You have positive energy together. You trust each other very well. I see you lasting… His health is very good. He will live a long life… All your children will be healthy as well…”
She also described a few of my friends with COMPLETE accuracy. Their genders, their personalities, the problems they’re facing. That one was super spot on, but due to the nature of the problems I don’t want to say who these friends were that she brought up.
I don’t know how she could have known some of those things. (There was a lot of other things that got right, but I can’t put everything down). But it was AWESOME. She is REAL. I told one of my friends about her and she scheduled a virtual reading with her. She said completely different stuff to my friend and all that stuff was COMPLETELY ACCURATE AS WELL! As the year goes on we keep marking tallies of all the things that have come true from our psychic.
CASEY: (points to the body wash) Okay. I’m ready for the slime!
JACK: Mom, ask me if whales are nice.
ME: Are Whales nice?
*No follow up context*
CASEY: Look Mommy I’m on the table. (starts dancing)
ME: What are you doing up there?
CASEY: Just bein’ myself.
Jack was taking very slow and loud breaths.
JACK: (whispers to himself) I’m doing such a good job breathing.
At my friend’s house, Casey asked for a slice of cheese. He was so insistent on it that my friend caved and let him have one. Then we watched as he put the slice of cheese on a scooter and gave it a ride around the apartment. He never ate it.
Jack kept asking me to wipe his butt for him. I explained to him that once he turned five, he would go to Kindergarten and he would have to wipe his butt all by himself. The next day, we heard him yell this from the bathroom.
JACK: Can someone wipe my bum!? I’m still four! I’m not five yet!
I was outside when a breeze sounded off some wind chimes nearby.
CASEY: (excited) Mommy, do you hear that magic?
JACK: I had a dream I was at a party and there was a fire! I turned into a fire truck and put out the fire!
A long time ago, toward the beginning of the 2020 quarantine, I posted this joke:
And well YOU ASKED FOR IT.
So here are my top three break-down theories on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. (Spoilers. But if you haven’t seen this movie yet, I really don’t know what you’re waiting for)
1 Cameron Fry is the protagonist. Ferris Bueller is the narrator
The last time I watched this movie, I thought to myself, “This would make an excellent YA novel from the point of view of Cameron Fry.” That’s when the dynamic really became clear. This movie is Cameron’s story. Not Ferris’.
At the beginning of the movie, we see Ferris Bueller… super cool, untouchable, clever, and mischievous. And at the end of the movie, we see Ferris Bueller… super cool, untouchable, clever, and mischievous. He remains constant throughout the movie, he doesn’t have an arc. He doesn’t change. And he’s not supposed to! He acts as a constant change agent that shapes all the other characters around him. (More on that in point two).
In the contrast, we see Cameron at the beginning of the movie- sick, miserable, “not dying, just can’t think of anything good to do”. The character has a problem to be solved, like all good and compelling protagonists. He’s about to make a change. It’s The Hero’s Journey. He’s had the literal “call to adventure” and is now being forced out of his comfort zone into this crazy escapade with his best friend.
It’s not even Ferris’ DAY OFF, if you think about it. Ferris has already missed school nine times up to this point. This is Cameron’s Day Off.
Ferris is the narrator for Cameron’s story. Even stylistically, he breaks the fourth wall to look into the camera and address the audience directly. If you still don’t believe Cameron is the main character, consider this: Ferris doesn’t talk about the other characters. He’s not telling you how he met Sloane. Hardly the only thing he says about Jeanie is that she got a car and he didn’t. Throughout the movie, he tells the audience about Cameron. His cold relationships with his parents, his character flaws. Cameron Fry is the focus because he is about to make the biggest change (AKA protagonist)
2. Ferris helps the characters grow up not down
At a quick glance, you might think that Ferris is encouraging his friends to go off on a childish adventure. But he’s not. He’s forcing them to challenge authority and assume their own identities as adults. They’re not skipping school to go to the local arcade (which is what Rooney thinks they’re doing). He’s taking them to art museums, fine restaurants, and even the stock exchange. At every moment he’s challenging them to give up their passive childhood for an independent adulthood. Even Sloane is challenged by Ferris in this way when he asks her if she wants to get married.
It’s not about the irresponsibility, although he knows how to do that well. As the active change agent in the story he has a motive for each person. For example, it’s not about stealing the car, he’s getting Cameron to challenge his father.
In the B story, Jeanie is also forced to change in this way. She constantly gripes and moans about having no control in her life (If I was BLEEDING out my eyes you’d still make me go to school). Then after a therapeutic conversation with Charlie Sheen, she has FERRIS busting his a$$ to beat her home and SHE is the one to save him from Rooney. In parellel to Cameron’s story, she takes back her control.
3. Ferris Bueller is actually John Lennon
You really think I could go one blog post without mentioning this guy??
Okay but this is FOR REAL. I know a fellow Lennon-obsessed writer when I see one. And Hughes no-doubt-in-my-mind modeled Ferris Bueller after John Lennon. He basically tells us upfront.
Ferris first directly name drops Lennon to the audience, by quoting; “I don’t believe in Beatles, I just believe in me.” Then he tells us, “I could be The Walrus.”
Ferris spends the movie as the leader, challenging authority and encouraging mischief and mayhem a la “A Hard Day’s Night”. Hughes even recreated the same shot of them jumping in slow motion with their arms raised.
Then of course to cap it all off. He lip syncs to Twist and Shout on the parade float. And I really don’t know how you can get anymore obvious than that.
If you don’t believe that Hughes would go to such lengths to model a character after Lennon, consider The Breakfast Club, when the janitor readily admits that he wanted to “grow up and become John Lennon”. Or when Brian the Brain whispers to himself about being The Walrus.
At the very end of the film, Ferris leans back in his hands and says the classic line, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once and a while you could miss it.”
…Which is supposedly a derivative of this quote…
I truly feel that I would be amiss to not lead you into this excellent conspiracy theory from the inner depth of Redditt. The theory is that Ferris is actually a figment of Cameron’s imagination. It’s a more compelling theory than you would think! I’ll leave the video here, so you can have your mind blown.
Hey guys. Here’s a stream of consciousness writing update.
It’s really hard to stay motivated sometimes.
In May I took a break from writing for two weeks because we had friends and family in town and now I’m really struggling to jump back into it. My Beatles book has only been querying for a few months but the rejections (although an important part of the process) can be hard hits sometimes.
Not only that but I discovered that Disney Hyperion picked up a series a similar idea as the one that I’m currently working on. I don’t know if that means the market is good for mine, or if I’m SOL. Now, I’m trying to shape this book into something that can stand on it’s own two feet. It’s different enough that I’m confident to finish, but still feeling that pressure knowing I’m going to have competition right out of the gate.
I’ve just been thinking about the back end of publishing too hard and it’s effecting my art. I don’t want to write for a publisher. I want to write for me. But then, can I really feel successful even if nothing happens with my writing? I’d like to think that I would. My bookcase is already filling with manuscripts faster than I thought it would. Soon I’ll have an entire shelf of my own completed work. But still would be nice to share some of these stories with you guys.
My electrician surprised me the other day by asking me all about my writing. When he asked me if I could send him the link to “my shop” I sheepishly gave him the name of the anthology I was published in three years ago. People asking where they can buy my work is happening a lot more often. I’ve always considered at some point self publishing. Even for curiosity sakes.
I told my critique partner that if I were ever to self publish Love Me Do, it would do the absolute best as a radio-play type audiobook. I envision this as being it’s highest and most entertaining form. There’s a lot of music in it; Beatles, 50s, and even new, original songs. I think being able to hear the quips from a Lennon impersonator would be fabulous. I could do the narration and the main character Em. That really wouldn’t intimidate me. But anyway, not to get your hopes up about it, because to be able to bring exactly what I imagine to light would cost a lot in production. I would have to find some bang up impersonators AND an impersonator band. Figure out copyright and legality. All the actors and sound production and music to mix. It would just be a lot. Even though that’s probably the best form this story could take.
I wanted to cheer myself up, so I had a graphic designer help me with a book cover. Not for any other reason than to put the thing on my shelf and feel better about the hard two years that went into it.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. I’m sure it’s not fun hearing about projects that are not available to read. I’ve had a lot of brainstorming over this blog and well, about you guys! I’ve been playing with some ideas. Ways to bring you into my writing world a lot more! A fun community to build!
So that’s all I want to say I guess, is thank you from my inky writerly heart for supporting me and reading what I have to say and letting me have a voice. I love you guys.
Hi everyone! Quick apology, May turned out to be a crazy busy month for me. But I know how much some of you like these posts and I didn’t want to disappoint. Here are some of the cutest things my kids have said in the month of May.
I opened a package of raw ground beef and Jack asked
JACK: Are we having brains for dinner?
CASEY: (excitedly pointing to a ladder) Look!! The letter ‘H’!
Jack has been regularly playing Plants and Zombies. On the roof level, there’s a giant zombie that attacks by throwing a smaller zombie riding on his back. My husband said that when Jack first saw it, he said:
JACK: Look, he throwed his sweetie.
Casey consistently says “laugh” instead of “lap”
CASEY: I wanna sit in Mommy’s laugh.
We went to a small amusement park that had a merry-go-round (one of Jack’s favorite things) with a rainbow colored top. When he saw it, he excitedly announced:
JACK: No way! It’s a rainbow-go-round!!
Both of my kids have started calling fish-sticks “fish-dogs” and I’m not correcting them.
JACK: What’s this spot on your arm?
ME: A freckle.
JACK: A f**kle?
ME: NO! A frrrreckle
JACK: … A f**kle?
Casey and Jack got into a fight and in all sincerity my two-year-old yelled at his brother:
CASEY: You naughty bird!
JACK: Can I get a birthday cake at the store so I can turn five and go to kindergarten?
Well, we’re a quarter of the way done with 2021 if you can freaking believe that. So it’s time to look back and (yikes) see how I’ve been doing with the goals I made at the beginning of the year:
MAKE A LIST OF THINGS TO PUT TOGETHER IN THE NEW HOUSE; DO SOME OF THE THINGS
I’ve made the giant comprehensive list and I’ve done some things! It’s still going slower than I would prefer but at least some of it has gotten done. In my last post, I said I was going to work on a room at a time. But I discovered that that method is not as efficient as I originally thought. A lot of the things on the list were easier to do in batches, like doing ONE big Amazon purchase or dusting ALL the ceiling fans in the house. But I figure as long as I’m crossing things off the list, that’s all that matters.
MAKE A HABIT OF STRETCHING EVERY DAY, SLOWLY BUILD UP A YOGA ROUTINE
So I really thought that this was going to be my failed goal. But I’m so proud to tell you that I’ve rocked this one! I was right when I said that ten minute stretching would feel doable in my daily schedule. And I was able to incorporate the Yoga right away! So I’m happy about this one.
CLEAN WHILE THE BOYS ARE IN THE BATH
When I originally came up with this idea, I seriously miscalculated how busy my husband’s schedule was going to be. We were able to pull this system off a lot of the time, but there were many nights were I was bathing the kids by myself. This is a two man goal haha! I’m going to hang on to this goal/idea for another few months because my husband’s schedule is supposed to clear up a little. We’ll see what the next update says.
WRITING WRITING EVERYWHERE
I sent Love Me Do to the query trenches! Good for me… and also I need a hug.
The paranormal thriller … soooooooo about that haha. I was fully planning on finishing the first draft of the thing sometime this year… until new shiny idea happened. And actually, technically it’s an “old shiny idea”. I’ve been dying to write this YA ever since I was a teenager myself and even started writing it several years ago!… Listen, don’t be upset. It’s still a thriller with paranormal elements… How about this, how about as long as I have SOME kind of a first draft by the end of this year. Um, that’s not impossible… is it??
Blog once a week. Okay, I’ve been doing pretty well so far!
Publish a short story. Ugh. I don’t know. I’m already emotionally drained just from anticipating my query rejections. Maybe, I’ll let this one go… maybe
So far, not terrible. I’ll let you know how things slip in July hahaha!
Disclaimer. I don’t work for Netflix (obviously), these are just my predictions based off of what they did with Season One. Second Disclaimer: SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
GINNY IS GOING TO POETICALLY RUN INTO THE SAME MOTORCYCLE GANG AS HER MOM
I don’t know if she’ll *join* said Motorcycle gang. I think it’ll be a entire b story episode where they teach her to use a gun or something. And then when they’re all pressuring her at the end to join the gang, she’ll run away with an overlaying monologue about how “She’s not her mom.”
MARCUS IS GOING TO CHASE HIS MOTORCYCLE… I MEAN GINNY
Yeah so some characters will care more than others about runaway Ginny. Marcus will dramatically leave everything behind to find her because he’s soOoOO iN loVe.
TOP OF EPISODE ONE, GEORGIA IS GONNA KNOW SHE KNOWS
They left the poisonous flowers smoldering in the fireplace. I mean I don’t really know why else they would have dramatically blow torched them for any other reason than to have Georgia find them.
Georgia will chase Ginny and manipulate people along the way with that really uncomfortable smile that evokes Freaky Fred from Courage the Cowardly Dog.
Subscribe if I ain’t wrong.
PAUL IS GOING TO BE REVELEAD AS A FELLOW CRIMINAL
Remember when Paul proposed and was yelling gruffly at her that they both needed power. LOLOLOL if that ain’t sus I don’t know what. He also had such a nonreaction about the embezzling accusation that that makes me think we’ll discover that he was the one who paid it off and probs embezzles too.
He’ll team up with Georgia and use his power as mayor to do a bunch of sketchy things.
ZION IS GOING TO HAVE A “SHOCKING” DEATH (SORRY GUYS)
From four miles away, I can smell a character who is too-pure-to-not-be-a-plot-motivating-death. He’s probably going to die doing some noble thing like telling Ginny to return to Pumpkin Spice Land or saving her or something. But don’t feel too bad, because Ginny will discover his unpublished manuscript and then he’ll become this soft voice-over narrator throughout the rest of the season.
WE’LL DISCOVER THAT GEORGIA HAS KILLED MORE PEOPLE
Prepare to be hooked by more of Georgia’s backstory and wade through hours of Ginny cry-yelling at her friends to see more flashbacks.
HUNTER IS GOING TO BE OUTED AS GAY
Okay I know they’re probably not going to actually do this… but doesn’t this make some damn sense. Remember when they had that whole scene about how “he hadn’t grabbed her boob yet”. Think about it. Think about his cute lil tap dance in the halls. He never actually sang her name in the song he wrote… what if that crap is about Brody? Maybe that’s why he ALWAYS hangs around him instead of alone with Ginny. Amirite or amirite??
I think he’s closeted because of the high expectations of his cold weird mom who literally only cares about his college application for some reason. And I also think this is going to be a storyline because Georgia and Ginny tries to cover every single teen issue they can possibly think of and no one’s been hiding their sexuality yet.
NORA IS ACTUALLY GOING TO GET A STORYLINE AND IT’S GOING TO BE A HOT TEEN ISSUE™
NICK IS GOING TO DISCOVER HIS BF IS AN UNDERCOVER PI
I don’t know why but I imagine a scenario where Nick catches him in a lie, thinks he’s cheating and goes through his phone. I also imagine that out of PURE SPITE, he’s gonna cover for Georgia or lead his BF to a red herring.
Just sayin’, but that episode where he shows up at the birthday part in drag. He looked exactly like me.