Quick Writing Update

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.

My Kids Say the Darndest Things (March 2021)

Casey had a fever. So I brought down our no-touch thermometer (best pandemic purchase ever). The only set back is the kids loooooove to play with it, so as soon as Casey saw it he demanded he take his own temperature. I let him hold onto it and went off to get the Tylenol. When I returned I heard him talking to the thermometer in his hands, “Hello, temperature. Do you want to play?” And then he replied to himself in a high pitched voice, “Yes.”

We bought a Roomba. (Second best pandemic purchase ever) At first, Casey told me he was “scared the robot”, but he warmed up quickly. Now he follows it around and makes kissy sounds and telling it to “come”. “Come, robot.” Then he announces to me that the robot is named George and George is his friend.

I told Jack to blow a feather off my finger and make a wish. He squeezed his eyes shut and whispered to himself, “I wish for a pink unicorn.”

One night it was really windy and Dan had left the window open in his office the slightest crack. Every time the wind blew through the window it would howl loudly. Well, I didn’t explain to the boys what the sound was… so they decided on their own that it was because there was “an owl” in the house. They were both ABSOLUTELY convinced that there was an owl inside hooting loudly and walked around trying to find it.

*Jack’s stomach gurgles loudly*

ME: Oh, are you digesting?

JACK: I not ‘gestin. I’m Jack!


Casey biting into an uncooked macaroni: “Ooh, this is a yucky rainbow.”

JACK: Moooooooom, get me some juice.

ME: Nuh-uh, mister. You need to use the magic word.

JACK: (in all sincerity) … “chicken”?

ME: “Please”.

JACK: Ohhhhhhhhh.

ME: *after cleaning the kitchen* Wow. Okay. That was a lot of hard work!

JACK: Yeah, it was! You do a lot of hard work, Mom. Good job for doing that hard work!

ME: *trying not to cry*

That Time at Pandemic Panda Express

Here’s an embarrassing story I just remembered:

Sometimes (and what I really mean is everytime) I will get so flustered that I’m going to do something awkward and embarrassing that I END UP ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING AWKWARD AND EMBARRASSING. And this story was one of those times…

Once upon a pandemic we wanted Chinese food. So okay what’s the safest thing to do here? We have one Panda Express x miles away with a drive thru… but everyone and their convertible uses the Morris Farms Panda drive thru. So Dan put in a take out order for a different have-to-come-inside Panda establishment.

So we load up THE ENTIRE FAMILY in the minivan because THERE’S LITERALLY NOTHING ELSE TO GO AND DO. So family trip to the Panda Express it is. We drive up and park and then Dan hands me a mask and tells me to run in and get it.

I start PANIC SWEATING.

Not because I’m afraid of catching coronavirus.

But because I’m a giant woman-child who can’t do anything by herself.

“Wha-what? You want me to get it? But you usually get it! I don’t even know where to go! So where do you pick it up? Do you pay for it or… okay it’s prepaid… so it’s like just picking up the food and walking out!? Do I need my ID? How are they gonna know I’m your wife?? What if I do it wrong somehow? What if I get in trouble should I call you??”

Dan is getting seriously irritated at me because it’s not like I’m a navy seal securing the area, I’m literally JUST PICKING UP ORANGE CHICKEN AND WALKING OUT. 

So I go inside the Panda with my mask on… okay, I don’t know if you’ve been inside a Panda Express in the past year, but they have this military set up. They use their own tables and chairs to BLOCK YOU into the line. And then they very clearly have where you’re supposed to stand marked out on the floor. So as soon as you walk in through the door you’re ushered into the line.

But… okay… I just want to get my take out.

I can literally see the white plastic bag all tied up on a rack WAY at the other end of the line. Like a cheese at the end of the maze. But how am I supposed to get there? Am I really supposed to CUT THE LINE to pick up the food that’s already been ordered. Get my germs into everyone’s personal bubble as I push past them? The idea of cutting the line is basically spiking my blood pressure. I can’t even ask for extra napkins at most places because I do not want to bother anyone. I mean just the very idea that I could be SLIGHTLY inconveniencing someone. Or NOT OBEYING THESE PANDA SAFETY RULES.

So I wait in line.

I can see the food over there getting cold… Dan’s texting me like “R U SERIOUS WHAT’S TAKING YOU SO LONG YOU JUST HAVE TO PICK IT UP.” So now I’m having double anxiety about slightly inconveniencing the Panda Express patrons or slightly inconveniencing my husband by making him wait five minutes.

ALRIGHT FINE. I slide past people in line with about a thousand apologies, get the take out bag, run out of there as if I’m a Pink Panther robber with a briefcase full of jewelry. And I’m dying in the most dramatic way you can think of. And if you’re super annoyed and confused reading this… what’s it like to not have anxiety? Is it nice? Is it peaceful? Can you just walk into stores and pick up Orange Chicken at your leisure? How is that kind of power? I bet you sleep great.

I’m so flustered that I’m just power walking through the parking lot, having a pre-argument with my husband inside my mind. “Yeah, well, you shoulda SEEN IT. The tables and chairs were BLOCKING US ALL INTO THIS ONE LITTLE LINE.”

I get to the car and pull on the handle. Locked. I’m flustered and irritated by my pretend argument so I tap ferociously on the window and point down at the car lock. THEN HE STARTED TO DRIVE AWAY! And I chased him down so angrily. Tapping harder on the window. HELLO! DON’T BE A BUTTHOLE JUST BECAUSE IT TOOK ME A SOLID MINUTE TO WORK UP THE COURAGE TO CUT THE LINE.

And then a stranger rolled down her window. BOISTERIOUSLY laughing.

“I’VE DONE THAT!” she yelled at me.

I really just tried to get into the wrong car. Um. It didn’t even look like my car. Hardly even in the same color palette. So not only did I just spend X amount of minutes FREAKING OUT over the Panda Express rules. (As if the Seinfeld Soup Nazi works at Panda Express.) BUT I ALSO TRIED TO GET INTO A STRANGER’S CAR AND GOT IRRITATED AT HER AS SHE PULLED AWAY.

I slunk back to my ACTUAL car with my tail in between my legs. Dan is laughing and probably also like… k… I’m married to this hot mess wtf.

And yeah.

So, that’s it. I could hardly function before the pandemic. And now it’s just one weird social distance freak out at a time.

I Wrote a Novel in 30 DAYS

Hey so it just occurred to me that I haven’t even told you about the project I started for NaNoWriMo.

(If you haven’t heard me blabber on about NaNoWriMo yet and you don’t know what it is. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. All of these authors around the world commit to writing 50k words in the month of November. It’s a fun challenge. And I do it every year that I can.)

So let me introduce you to the new book I’ve been working on. Ready?

Drumroll…

Dun Dun dun DUN!

It’s an adult paranormal thriller called, “The Glass Box Town”. (working title but we’ll see). Here’s the cover I made for it once upon a time:

Having just stolen her father’s car, Hallie finds herself lost on a desert road. Then the unthinkable happens, a strange woman from nowhere hurls herself in front of the moving vehicle. When Hallie goes to an eerie small town for help, they accuse her of the woman’s murder and force her to stay. The longer she stays the more the town’s diabolical motives begin to unravel.

If you follow my work, you know I’ve been writing Rom Coms for the past… forever. So switching to this one was definitely intimidating. A bit out of the comfort zone, but in a good way.

I won NaNoWriMo even though I felt like I was losing my mind almost every day. I also made a short video on my NaNo journey if you haven’t gotten a chance to see it yet!

Stay tuned for more updates on this novel. And thanks for checkin’ in!

This is Me.

I’m very nervous about this post…

I don’t know about you, but quarantine became an introspection boot camp for me. For the past year, I have been going through an existential, incredibly spiritual, life changing process. And I guess I want to talk about that… I guess I want to talk about me. The real actual me.

Because what I’ve discovered during my introspection boot camp is that I hold back the real me a lot. I mean, it’s a human desire to please others and be likeable, but… I do that to SUCH an extent that… I think many people don’t know me very well. Even people who are very close to me.

So this is a very vulnerable post for me… because it’s real and raw… and it’s me.

Hello, I’m Val.

I’ve always loved being called “Val”. I feel endeared to anyone who shortens my name to “Val”, I’m not sure why. I think it’s because it feels warm and close. Like the person using the nickname wants to be my good friend. The name “Valerie” is always something that I’ve exceptionally liked about myself.

I’m an outgoing person who suffers from an overwhelming social anxiety.

I think this confuses a lot of people and makes me come off as a brat and a flake. (Or maybe that’s the social anxiety telling me how I come off). I don’t know if I’m actually an extrovert or an introvert. I get energy from being around others and desire to be around others. But I also hate leaving my house and often want to be alone. It’s strange. I will go minutes from performing on stage in front of hundreds of people to not being able to go to a cast party of a handful of people. Oh, parties… I’ve been called ‘The Life of the Party’ before… wut?… I am TERRIFIED of parties! Really, really terrified of big groups. I’ll be at a party and have to leave to the bathroom or to my car to cry… spend a few minutes in literal tears… fix my eye-makeup and return to the party. I’ve done this many, many, many times in my life. I don’t want to be an anti-social person, but I get easily overwhelmed and anxious. Really the only way I cope at a big party is if I tuck myself into a corner somewhere with one other person. One-on-one time and quality time are everything to me. And that’s when I really light up.

I am a Mormon.

Yeah, I’m pretty Mormon. Once I got lost in a Walmart and ended up in the alcohol aisle and I actually said out loud, “Where am I?”. HAHAHA!

I don’t post about my religion often, but it is truly me. And I truly am a believer of Christ.

Spirituality is more important to me than my religion.

I have found a personal spirituality and it is the foundation and forefront of my religious beliefs. I really have developed a strong love for exploring my spirituality. Meditation and introspection. I don’t know why I shy away from talking about it so much. I think I’m nervous that people will think I’m “kooky”. But so what? I totally am! That’s who I am! Hahaha!

I just really love communicating with The Divine. With The Spirit. With myself and the energies around me. I have a strong belief in communication. In intuition. It guides me in my daily life and choices. I don’t have to shy away from this part of myself. It’s A HUGE PART of myself. I love my church but my personal spirituality and relationship with God has become the priority for me. I can ask Him anything and receive wisdom and knowledge. It’s a constant battle to put aside my pride and be open-minded to this communication. Open-minded to the fact that I know so little. To the fact that others on Earth and their diversity have so much to teach me as well.

I’m artsy fartsy

Same with spirituality… I don’t know why I hold back this part of me so much, because it’s actually a big part of me! … I find meaning in everything. And everything is lovely and purposeful to me. The shape of the trees and the size of the moon. All these metaphors and lessons all around us. Art is everything. Art is civilization. The hippie culture resonates with me. I enjoy symbolic performance art unironically. (There, I finally said it!) All I want to do is create. If I’m not creating everything feels heavy and sad. I live to create and enjoy creation.

I have weird taste in movies…

Open apology but if you’ve ever asked me if I’ve liked a movie and all I said was yes… I probably lied. I never NOT have a really strong opinion about a movie! I think I lie because I would never want to rain on someone who has connected with a piece of art. I’m not trying to be pretentious or a critic… because the stuff that I actually DO like is weird as hell! I never noticed until Dan pointed this out but I “only watch old movies”. But he’s right! I really do prefer old movies to anything else. Just the same as music.

So I don’t know. It’s not anything shocking or unique. But it’s me. And I realized that I don’t have the easiest time sharing myself. I’ve been spending too much of my life trying to mold myself into whatever will make the other person the most comfortable… but why do that? Why can’t I be my artsy, new-age Mormon bundle of anxieties? There’s nothing wrong with who I am. Even these little things. And if it takes a year of pandemic isolation for me to love who I really am, then that’s okay. And I’m here. Writing these miniscule things about myself but feeling free to do it.

Love is accepting another person for who they are, especially the things that make them different. So this is how I love myself, by accepting these “weird” things about me.

My 2020 Calendar Predictions (Woof)

For the past couple of years I have been making personalized calendars with predictions of what each month would bring…

HOW COULD ANYONE HAVE PREDICTED 2020????

Well, not us! Here is what we thought our 2020 was going to be like, compared to, of course, the actual surreal year it turned out to be.

January

“Find a House”

True

Not only did we find, get our offer accepted and go through the process of A DUD HOUSE. But we found our perfect home the very last weekend of January.

February

“Close on a House”

True!

We closed end of February

March

“Move into our house”

True again!

I don’t know how Daniel predicted this timeline so perfectly, but we moved on his birthday weekend… the weekend the stay-at-home mandate was announced

April

“Be offered a full time position”

False

Due to elective surgeries shutting down, my husband hours were cut working at the hospital. Things normalized and we were offered a full time position six months later.

May

“Find out someone is pregnant”

False

We did find out about our new cousin in August though 🙂

June

“See success with Mom’s Beatle book”

Mixed?

Not sure how to define “success” but I was able to begin editing the second draft this year

July

“Share a vacation with Grandma”

False

Pretty depressing

August

“Start preschool”

False

After everything that was going on I was not planning to enroll Jack in preschool… but he could NOT stop talking about it every single day! In October we made the decision and enrolled him. He loves it and it has not been an issue with COVID (so far)

September

“Talk Daddy into Disneyland again”

False

Disneyland wasn’t even open!

October

“Have an epic family costume”

True??

I don’t know about “epic” haha, but we did have a family costume. Jurassic Park theme.

November

“Get a new president”

True!

Wasn’t sure whether or not that would happen!

December

“Have decided to grow our family”

Mixed

With the risks and complications of COVID, we decided to wait.

Last year, I got it about half right. 50/50 chance… I would say this year it was still pretty close! Most of the predictions DID come true, but not on the actual month we though (i.e. preschool, Dan’s job).

After everything that happened this year, I think 50% is pretty impressive!

New Year’s Resolutions

I have this friend who posts her New Year’s resolutions on her blog and then UPDATES HER PROGRESS THROUGHOUT the year. Like, who is actually responsible and accountable like that? (And if that friend is reading this, you know who you are, you goal goddess).

So FINE. I guess I’ll JUST HAVE TO DO THE SAME. Maybe I’ll actually have some follow through motivation here.

I have a lot of ambitious ideas… And usually what happens when I have a lot of ambitious resolutions is that they don’t get resolutioned… SO, what I decided to do is to take all these dreams I have for 2021 and break them into a much smaller, more reasonable goal. Something so simple it just HAS to done. For me, this is a better recipe for success, especially considering how emotionally draining 2020 was.

Here are my 2021 ambitious dreams vs. the realistic goal:

THE DREAM: Spend the year putting my entire house together

Okay. I have lived in my new house for more than 10 months now… and yet it looks like I’ve lived here for ten days. There’s no artwork or decorations. We patched all the nail holes in the house… and then didn’t touch up the paint, so there’s literal white splotches all over my house. Random doodads have broken off the walls. Furniture still in its box that I haven’t assembled haha. Not to mention the big projects that Dan and I keep talking about. I don’t know why I just gave up putting my house together, I think maybe because of the pandemic?? And hardly anyone was visiting anymore? I don’t know!

THE GOAL: Make a list, do some of the things.

I’m going to walk around and make a COMPREHENSIVE INVENTORY on everything that needs to be done around the house, and then I’ll do one room at a time and pick the top two or three things to do in that room. And I’ll probably be doing that for the next few years or maybe as long as I’m living there. Going room to room and improving as best I can. That’s the only way I can keep my motivation, my sanity and my budget on track.

THE DREAM: find a sexy cardio exercise routine and get into shape

Classic New Years amiright?

THE GOAL: Make a habit of stretching every day, slowly build up a yoga routine

Okay… I really need to be honest with myself here. I want to be in shape, I want to take care of my body, but I know me. And I know that if I don’t start THIS slow, it’s not going to stick. I’ve tried to start an exercise routine many, many times. And I know yoga or tai chi is something that I would have the most interest in. It’s something I can do at home with the kids (even though at that point it will essentially be goat yoga). It just fits me the best. If I tell myself hey get up at five AM and run in the hundred-degree Arizona heat, it’s not going to happen. But if I tell myself, okay five minutes of stretching, I have a much better shot at establishing a habit, which is mostly what I need right now.

THE DREAM: find a cleaning routine and keep my house sparkling

Ahahahaha

THE GOAL: Clean for the 20 minutes the boys are in the bath

Last night, Dan bathed the kids and I ran downstairs and sped-cleaned the playroom. I was SHOCKED at how much I was able to get done while the boys were distracted! I told Daniel we ought to start doing this regularly and he said he would rather be the one cleaning HAHAHAHA Hey man! Either way! We could even switch off! We already routinely wash the boys… so if we made it a routine to speed-clean at the same time, I think we’d be surprised at how impactful those 20 minutes would become! Really!

THE DREAM: Query my Beatles Book in the spring. Have the first draft of my Paranormal Thriller finished by fall. Blog once a week. Publish a short story.

THE GOAL: … I just think I can do it…

I know I get a little carried away with writing … but I seriously think this is doable for me. I only have eight more chapters to clean on Love Me Do. It’s been through three or four beta readers and done well. (It’s always a SUPER GOOD sign when your betas pester YOU for more chapters vs. the other way around!) My NaNo project already has 50,000 words done, so I would say… maybe… 30-40k more? Maybe even for Camp NaNoWriMo in April?? I have a couple of short stories that I’m sitting on and working up the nerve to submit… I usually spend a week or two and knock out all my blog posts for the next few months (if you were wondering how I do it so “regularly”).

… I really think I can do it…

I’ll keep you updated. Every quarter, I’ll use the blog to check in with these goals (April, July, October…)

Best Worst Christmas Presents 2020

My brother and I have this tradition where we try to give each other the worst Christmas presents possible. And if you haven’t been following along, we’ve basically turned White Elephant into a serious art.

I told my brother that I needed more decorations for my new house… This is the present that arrived on my doorstep:

A giant wall decal of two seniors I don’t know riding a golf cart…

Meanwhile in Utah, my brother opened a personalized calendar, meticulously made with love and care by his dear, dear sister. Merry Cringemas Bro.

Here’s a video I made of our Christmas Morning. Enjoy.

Our New House!

Hi, wow. It’s April now. What a month last month amiright?? But hey! At least one cool thing happened! Here is the video of us moving into our new home. Thank you SO much to everyone who made this possible. So glad we were able to get you in and out safely before this madness happened!

 

Super Quick Life Update: WE ARE BUYING A HOUSE!!!

NEW HOUSE:

Sorry, I’ve been MIA this month. Things have been super crazy since we’re BUYING OUR FIRST HOME!!

excited 2

I seriously am in love so hard. Sometimes when I think about it, I feel all blubbery and teary-eyed haha. It’s everything I wanted and then some! We are signing all the closing paperwork TODAY and I honestly couldn’t be more STUNNED/ECSTATIC.

excited 1

 

THE KIDS:

Has everyone else been like non-stop sick? Because holy moly. This month has been the WORST. We’re just barely getting over the flu and thanks, it only took us A COUPLE OF WEEKS.

 

THE WRITING:

Things have been slow as hell. This is the slowest I’ve written in years. I remember when I proudly wrote a breezy 2k a day. Now when I write two sentences, I have to stop to wipe my brow and binge watch a horrible reality show because my fingers are so tired. It’s been some rough stuff man. In November alone, I wrote 50k words. Then it took December, January, February to wheeze out 20k.

crawling

And it’s not without a reason… House hunting and house buying has become like a full-time job almost. It’s so much work and time! One other hilarious thing that has slowed me down, is I can’t get myself to stop reading my own book. Usually, when I draft I have a strict no-reading-back policy, but with this one, I’ve been pretty naughty. I’ll try to refer back to a scene ‘real quick’ and ‘hey this is kind of funny’. Suddenly 100 pages later, I’ve been sucked in and I just wasted my designated writing time. That’s a good sign though, right? I mean, I don’t know if anyone else will be turning pages, but I LOVE THIS RIDICULOUS BOOK OF MINE. AND GOSH DARNIT I AM DETERMINED TO FINISH THIS FREAKING DRAFT BEFORE I MOVE! AND I WILL! JUST YOU WAIT NAYSAYER!

(I can’t tell you too much about the book yet, but what I can tell you is that it’s a dark-comedy time-travel story about The Beatles.)

Stay tuned for more updates, book announcements, videos of the new house, so on and so forth.