Life Update: Hi! So, it’s been a secret disaster

Hey, remember when I had a weekly blog and then dropped off the face of the planet for a couple of months?

So it’s been more than two months. I feel bad about that. This is literally the longest that I’ve ever gone without posting anything since I started the blog. (Even after having a kid.) I was secretly hoping for things to settle completely before coming out and having to talk about this. BuUuUUuuUUuuut that hasn’t quite yet happened, so … I’m just gonna talk about it, I guess.

 

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My husband and I play this game when we’re stressed out. I call it, “Lay the Cards.” When we’re anxious about something we come up with four different outcomes.

  1. The absolute best dream outcome that could ever happen in your wildest imagination.
  2. A good outcome that’s also realistic.
  3. A bad outcome that’s more realistic.
  4. The absolute, complete worst outcome you can think of suffering through.

We look at all the outcomes and try to come up with how we would respond to each scenario, therefore ‘laying out all our cards’ and preparing for anything.

Well, one night we played that game… and the absolute, complete worst outcome that we came up with… ENDED. UP. HAPPENING.

Of all the times we have played that game, that has never happened to us. Never ever.

I don’t want to get into the details of things, because overall I just feel like that’s unprofessional. (Even if it’s not my profession.) But basically what I can tell you is that a situation got to a point where it was completely out of our control and Dan was forced to end his residency only ninety days shy of graduating.

We were told from multiple sources that an early termination from a residency would result in being “blacklisted” from ever getting a job at a hospital or clinic. And if that doesn’t seem so bad, let me concern you by phrasing it another way… You could spend five years of your life, get into an unbelievably massive student loan debt and be told you’re not getting your dream job only 12 weeks away from qualifying.

BUT YOU KNOW FREAKING WHAT?

It’s been six weeks. And Dan GOT A JOB. AND IT IS IN A HOSPITAL BY THE WAY. Let me just rewrite that for any abused lil’ pharmacist. MY HUSBAND GOT A JOB IN A HOSPITAL WITHOUT A RESIDENCY. IT IS POSSIBLE AND REAL TO DO SO. The coolest part about the job is that it’s the exact same company that he wanted out of residency anyway. The un-coolest part about the job is that it’s part-time so… Foot in the door, but we’re still looking to take another job. 

Um. So yeah. It’s been hard to write. Upkeep simple things like this blog. In theory, it seems like I should have MORE time to write now that Dan is home to help with the kids. But I’ve been spending all of my free time elbows deep in Google job searches and ad posts. I’ve actually developed a long term twitch in my both my left eye and right eyebrow soooo… yikes? Daniel keeps telling me to write, but it’s been hard to motivate myself to do ANYTHING lately.

 

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It sucks. We have a lot of dreams and plans now idling behind a blockade. We’re likely going to be staying in Arizona for a good long while. But that’s hard to say as we’re still interviewing for full-time positions right now. So, sorry for anyone hoping for the Manwill return to Utah. And sorry for being a buttface and not updating this blog. But lots more news and interesting(?) posts to come.

How Unrealistic is this Romance-Genre Male Character? A Fun Rubric!

It’s no secret that women are often not written very realistically. And it’s easy to tell when the girl main character was created as nothing more than a fantasy trophy.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? Women characters are not exclusive to this. More prevalent and obvious, YES. But exclusive, no. Haven’t you ever noticed how every dude in a romance story has AN OUTRAGEOUS combination of “desirable” traits? It’s like the same formula over and over again.

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“Hey. I’m Liam. Captain of the football team. Want to hang out on my family’s yacht?”

Don’t believe me? Watch yourself a romance or pick up a sappy book and use this rubric as you go. Each trait earns ten points, the more points you get the more ridiculously written that character is.

 

+10 He is good looking. Obviously, this is a good place to start. Granted there is going to be some kind of attraction between characters when there’s a romance. But I’m specifically talking about a character who would be considered classically and universally good looking. Great hair. Nice smile. Chiseled chin. Tall. Modelesque rippling abs and pectorals. I mean, if the body type is even being mentioned, he might as well have “heaving bosoms”.

+10 He is smart. This character always offers witty dialogue and banter. He’s funny. He does well in school or inexplicably gets accepted to ivy league colleges. Maybe this character has a job that would need to require some serious intelligence. When he talks to the love interest he probably “surprises her” by mentioning authors/books that he likes or other smart and high cultured things.

+10 He is rich OR is in a high position of power somehow. Okay, this character either has a lot of money himself or comes from a rich family. This character could also be a boss or some kind of leader. Royalty is always popular for some reason.

+10 He is charming. This character is well liked. Popular. Has a lot of friends. Or fans. Usually, there are multiple girl characters who are obsessed with him. He is most likely confident in himself. Anyone who happens to not like him is probably jealous of him.    

+10 He is athletic. Lol. For some reason mentioning the muscles isn’t enough. This character shows ‘em off somehow. His adventuring and swordplay are effortless. He plays on the school sports team. He is probably mentioned to be “the best” at some type of physical skill.

+10 He is musically or artistically talented somehow. This is a character that sits down and plays the guitar or sings for the leading lady. Maybe he draws or paints her a picture. Maybe he immaculately decorates this outdoor area for her without any help. He might have a career as an artist or maybe his incredible talent is mentioned in passing and then never contributes anything else to the plot.

+10 He is passionate. This is an easy ten points. This is a character who is borderline berserk-o bats he is so in love. This character easily professes his love. He’s more than a little stalkerish, he follows her around everywhere even if she says no. His moods are all over the freaking place. He is sometimes yelling and punching antagonists. He oozes with jealousy, over-protection, kissing her roughly, having like zero control over his feelings. This character is SO unbridled that if she weren’t into him, she would take out a restraining order pretty quick.

+10 He is self-sacrificing. Similar to the passion trait but definitely deserves ten points on its own. This is a character who is willing to throw away anything and everything in his life for the love interest. He might give up his job, his family, his opportunities, his dreams. Maybe he gives up who he is- like he’s dangerous in some way, but gives it up for her. Sometimes he just straight up dies for her. The sacrificing thing is one huge wet dream for a woman.

+10 He’s a hero. I don’t care what context it is. If this guy rescues her from getting physically hurt in any way, shape or form. That is an automatic ten points for me.

+10 Despite having all of these characteristics he goes for an awkward underdog MC for no real reason. Yes, I’m a cynic. But COME ON. Real talk here. Why is this have-it-all-dude going to go for this rinky-dink no-one-has-ever-wanted-me-like-this chick? Right off the bat, he is in deep with her, but we never really get why. I guess because she’s attractive or something? You tell me.

 

And yes, before you call me out, I tried this rubric out with the romantic interest in my own novel and YES, I am in no way clean of this either. He scored fifty points… which is more than murkily cliché but still better than Noah from The Kissing Booth who scores an eye-rolling NINETY POINTS.

So what is the takeaway? The take away is this: As a writer, don’t be afraid to make your main characters less than perfect. We will still like them. IN FACT, we will like them MORE if we relate to their weaknesses. Is it sexy to envision a man sprawled across a worn couch, binging Netflix with Dorito dust all over his shirt? Not really. Do I want him to find love? HECK YES SO MUCH SO INVESTED. But why though? BECAUSE THAT’S MEEEEEEE! We’re the sticky gross humans looking for happiness in all the wrong places! YOUR AUDIENCE. Reach out! Connect! Don’t just give us one real person to cheer on. Give us two! Make me believe that both of them are better off together, not that one person is already swimming in the sweet life and his/her life can’t be upgraded by anyone.

Just an opinion of a half-cynic. Wink wink.

How I Motivate Myself

After the announcement of all my doings and goings on in the writing world, I’ve been hearing a lot of the same thing: I would love to do something like that, if I had that kind of motivation.

Motivation is an interesting thing. I think first and foremost the best motivation for something is having a sincere love for that thing. What is important to you? How do you prioritize your time?  I write because I feel absolutely uncontrollably COMPELLED to do it. If I don’t write for a long period of time, I get really irritable. No joke. It’s a part of me that I fully embraced a couple of years ago and haven’t been able to let go.

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But I will let you in on another secret motivational tool that I use… like a practical non-metaphoric one. It’s what got me to write a novel in twenty days. It’s the reason I’m producing short stories almost daily. In fact, it’s what is motivating me to write this blog post right now. Do you want to know what it is?

Brownies.

I buy a package of really good-looking brownies from my local grocery store. I set in on the counter where I have to see it all the time. And then I DO NOT LET MYSELF have one until I have written 1,000 words.

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These little suckers

I’ll put Jack down for a nap and be COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED… and yet, I cannot stop thinking about those freaking brownies. So I very quickly write a whole bunch of words until I’ve hit the goal. And then I can finally have one.

And then you know what happens? After I eat one… I want a FREAKING ‘NOTHER ONE.

So I end up writing another thousand words, because my pregnancy cravings are too strong for me to even handle.

And that’s how I do it. And that’s why I’m even writing this post right now. I write like a steam engine trying to get a DeLorean back to 1985… and then later I go back and edit that mess… for which I reward myself more chocolate.

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It’s worked SOOOO well that I’ve actually started doing housework for small bottles of Coke. You should SEE my house right now.

Utilize your vices. Make your weaknesses work for you. Are you a fatty like me? Dude. Set goals for baked goods and you’ll be SHOCKED at the results.

In reality, dreams are really hard work. Even your passion can flicker out every once in while and that’s okay. Dangle a carrot in front of your face and KEEP AT IT!

 

ALSO PS. If you didn’t catch last week’s blog post. I have a short story being published in an anthology that comes out next month. I made some promotional artwork for it because it was really late at night and apparently I hate sleeping.

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It’s a YA story about a girl who visits her all-time crush at work after he tells her that “HE NEEDS TO TALK TO HER”DUN DUN DUN! Ooh, gurrrl. You know she had a panic-induced cringe after getting that message on her phone. Anyways, the book is available for pre-order. You can check it out here:  https://www.zpublishinghouse.com/products/utahs-emerging-writers-an-anthology?variant=14625753694323

 

Are You Ugly?

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Credit: Norman Rockwell, nrm.org

You are a very attractive person. There… What? You still don’t believe me? Keep reading. I’ll prove it.

I was driving to Salt Lake and that Chainsmokers song came on for the eightieth time that day. I thought to myself, “Wow, one of those guys has kind of a sexy voice.” You know, that deep one that kicks off the first chorus of “Closer”. The more I listened the more I wondered what they looked like. I began to construct a caricature in my mind and as soon as I hit a Wi-Fi spot I ran a Google Image search on my phone. They were better looking than the picture I had in my head.

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But something weird happened… I was really disappointed. I don’t know what I was expecting. I guess I was hoping that The Chainsmokers would be a little uglier… or dressed a lot worse… or something. Anything that would make their “sexy voices” a novelty or a hidden treasure. I didn’t want a fresh-of-the-conveyor-belt billboard kind of dude. My reaction to this experience got me delving into the concept of “beauty”.

Have you ever loved a movie that your best friend hated? Or looked at a piece of high-concept art that you didn’t get at all? That’s because art / beauty is completely subjective.

SUBJECTIVE: (adj) existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought.

For example… My favorite article of clothing is a Men’s XL flannel shirt that I got from a thrift store for $5. I adore it. I wear it AT LEAST once a week. I understand that it’s not every girl’s dream to own a floppy man shirt, but it was exactly what I was looking for. Sometimes when I slip it on I think, “At some point, someone didn’t want you”. Maybe it wasn’t their style or maybe it didn’t fit like it used to. For whatever reason it was donated to the thrift store where they decided that it was worth five dollars. But hey man. I would never give this thing up. When I wear it I feel confident and happy. It freaking completes me.

Maybe at some time in your life you were donated to a thrift store. Now you feel like you have a reduced price sticker dangling from your arm. But you know what? Just because it’s trendy to wear a frilly crop-top doesn’t mean EVERY SINGLE PERSON wants to own one. Your unique features, traits and interests are what makes you irreplaceable. When you get your heart broken you don’t ever sit around thinking “Man, I miss dat a$$.” No! You miss the way that person laughs or their taste in music. How are you ever going to find someone else as fun as them? Or someone else that can draw as well, or loves FanFiction X, or plays Jenga or WHATEVER. These are the things that people fall head over heels for and you already have it! I don’t care who you are, YOU HAVE IT! Don’t give away your quirks, because that’s how you’re going to find the right partner. Don’t give away what makes you YOU to become a boring one size fits all robot.

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Last Sunday, I was at church and I had to sit out in the foyer because my toddler was trying to pinch people’s bums through the seats. Typical Sunday. A 90-year-old woman came over to talk to me. She complemented me on how well “I filled out my dress”. Which was surprising, because I was self-conscious that I had filled it out a little too well. She then mentioned that she always had to wear long sleeves because she was embarrassed of how old and frail her arms had gotten over the years. But gosh darn it, when I saw her shuffle slowly out the door on the arm of her equally elderly husband I started to cry. Because that woman is BEAUTIFUL. I can’t even begin to fathom the love that her husband feels for her. And you know what, maybe they were both drop dead hot when they were young! But they’ve outlived the world’s standard and redefined what it is to be attracted to someone.

People will spend all the energy and ignorance of their soul trying to convince you that you should look a certain way. And that’s only because at some point in their lives they gave into the primitive fear of social rejection. Don’t let them fool you. Your worth is not defined by a number or a symmetrical formula. It’s defined by how you live your life. So live. Dream your dreams. You are a beautiful person. I promise.

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Everyone likes to do different things to feel beautiful. And you know what? That’s totally 100% real and okay! You do you boo! I’m a theater bred girl so my love of make-up is strong, HOLLA! If you have a special occasion that you want to get dolled up for- Katie is your gal. She’s a freelance make-up artist who is all about highlighting your natural beauty. Psst. Here’s her page…

https://www.facebook.com/JamesDeanLover