A Decade at a Glance

2010

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Where I was living: Cedar City, Utah. Centerville, Utah
The job I had: Student. Actress. Theater Tech. House Manager. Stage Manager. Assistant Director.
The career I wanted: Children’s Theater Instructor. Health Education Teacher.

A typical Friday night: Lounging in the jenkiest, ghetto cinderblock dorm. Hanging out with my boyfriend and watching a pretentious movie. Walking across the street to the cafeteria where we hope that the Football team hasn’t eaten every single chicken tender *again*.

2011

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Where I was living: Centerville, Utah. Provo, Utah. Lima, Peru. Trujillo, Peru.
The job I had: Actress. Student. Theater Tech. House Manager. Stage Manager. Assistant Director. Theatre Teacher… so on and so forth… Full-Time LDS Missionary (volunteer service).
The career I wanted: Children’s Theater Instructor. English Teacher.

A typical Friday night: Before the mission, I can guarantee you I would have been with my best friend Landon. In 2011 we were basically conjoined and a typical Friday night would be us doing something stupid like breaking into an abandoned building or irritating full-crowds by just being a hundred decimals TOO MUCH.

2012

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Where I was living: Trujillo, Peru. Salavery Port, Peru. Neuvo Chimbote, Peru.
The job I had: Fulltime LDS Missionary
The career I wanted: Probably a teacher but ???

A typical Friday night: A typical Friday night as a missionary in Peru is a lot of walking. Chicken and rice for dinner and then back to back appointments until you collapse on your bed in your small one-room apartment (quarto). Stopping random people in the street to talk about really serious existential questions. Butchering through my Spanish and trying to make it up by being as animated as friggin’ possible. Meeting really great people and talking and thinking about Jesus Christ.

2013

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Where I was living: Neuvo Chimbote, Peru. Centerville, Utah.
The job I had: Fulltime LDS Missionary. Student. Box Office Manager. ArtsBridge Scholar – Theatre Specialist.
The career I wanted: BTS Theatre Specialist for K-6 Elementary

A typical Friday night: 2013 was a weird year for me romantically. A typical Friday night I would have been on a date. (Sometimes even two dates on the same night. YIKES.) I also spent the majority of my time at the University of Utah Insitute of Religion where I met some lifelong friends, did a lot of service and too many stupid pranks.

2014

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Where I was living: Centerville, Utah
The job I had: Student. Box Office Manager. ArtsBridge Scholar – Theatre Specialist. Receptionist / AR Clerk
The career I wanted: BTS Theatre Specialist for K-6 Elementary

A typical Friday Night: I met Dan early 2014. When we were dating we would stay up ’til three, four in the morning just talking and joking around. Any Friday night we would be watching a bad movie (on purpose) or confusing our friends with our elaborate inside jokes. SHMOOPIE.

2015

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Where I was living: Centerville, Utah
The job I had: Receptionist / AR Clerk
The career I wanted: Stay at Home Mom, Theatre Instructor, Writer

A typical Friday night: I would come home tired and cranky from work around six or so. Dan and I would almost certainly be having Beef Stroganoff for dinner. Binging Breaking Bad on the pull out sofa bed in our front room.

2016

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Where I was living: Centerville, Utah
The job I had: Student. ArtsBridge Scholar – Theatre Specialist. Stay at Home Mom. Fulltime writer.
The career I wanted: BTS Theatre Specialist for K-6 Elementary, Stay at Home Mom, Writer

A typical Friday night: When Jack was born, I started writing all day every day. He never wanted to be set on the floor (he’s still the same). I would lay him on my legs and taught myself to type one-handed!

2017

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Where I was living: Centerville, Utah
The job I had: Student. Stay at home Mom. Fulltime Writer.
The career I wanted: An author / Stay at Home Mom

A typical Friday night: I remember Pharmacy School feeling like a backpack full of iron bars as we crawled toward the finish line. A typical Friday night would be, Dan in his office studying/crying. The baby mesmerized by music videos (he’s still the same). Vigourously researching story structure, plotting, and publishing.

2018

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Where I was living: Centerville, Utah. Mesa, AZ
The job I had: Stay at Home Mom. Fulltime writer.
The career I wanted: An author / Stay at Home Mom

A typical Friday night: It’s hard to even remember since it was so hectic. We spent a lot of time inside. A single mom. Dan miserable at work and Jack adjusting well to Arizona. Casey was an easy baby and spent most of his Friday’s asleep.

2019

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Where I was living: Mesa, AZ
The job I had: Stay at home Mom. Fulltime writer
The career I wanted: An author / Stay At Home Mom

A typical Friday night: As I write this post… it is a Friday night. Dan spent a long day at work (*the much better job that he loves so much). He fell asleep next to me, an interstellar space travel documentary is playing. Rain patters on the window. The boys are asleep, although, I am confident Jack will be up more than a few times tonight. And I am still writing.

And reminiscing.

 

 

Another Short Story Finds a Home

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Hey. I haven’t had a chance to share this because I’ve been so busy with NaNo but I had another short story published. Which you can read for free online in the Salt Lily Magazine…

*PG13 warning* This story is a direct modern translation of a scene from Taming of the Shrew. Some of Shakespeare’s inappropriate jokes survived the translation. Plus some swears here and there.

Even if you don’t read the story, you still should check out Salt Lily Magazine. They often feature artists and musicians and just have really great content.

 

READ HERE:

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. 🙂

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 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…”

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*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…

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

 

Life Update: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

THE GOOD:

So last time I gave you a full-ish update, I mentioned that Dan had gotten a part-time job and we were still looking. Yo, Pharmacy is not a joke right now. Anyone thinking about going into it should know that getting a job is REALLY DIFFICULT. And not just for an unfinished resident. I mean, IN GENERAL, it’s incredibly competitive.

But something kind of amazing has been happening to us lately…

The job that Dan landed is a PRN job which if you are not familiar with the medical field it basically means “as needed” or like “a substitute pharmacist pretty much”. He was told that it would probably only be one weekend a month. Like ten hours or something like that. So yeah. It was a PANIC. Ten hours a month ain’t a real job. So we were up to our necks trying to find something else.

BUT THEN. Once Dan got all trained up, he started getting a lot of shifts… and then a second site hired him… and then they started giving him remote shifts. Now all of the sudden he’s working full-time.

I kept watching our Google calendar fill up month by month before finally, I realized… this is the job. Dan loves it. It’s the EXACT company that he wanted to work for. And he gets to spend a TON of time with the family. Like… this is it, dude. Why mess with such a good thing?

There are other little details that need to be ironed out since PRN isn’t a traditional job, but I think we can make it work and I finally feel… settled. I spent the last however many months feeling on edge and overly anxious about “THE JOB” when… it was there all along. He had it within the first six weeks.

THE BAD

I always have to mention the writing so here it is.

I re-read my last “Life Update” from May and it made me freaking whimper. EVERYTHING IS STILL THE EXACT SAME. LIKE NOTHING HAS CHANGED ALL SUMMER. Isn’t that dumb!? I work on stuff every day with like so little to show for it. And I know, emotionally, I’ve had a lot on my plate… like honestly a bowling ball on my paper plate. But still! It really sucks. Because through all the hard days the ambition has not gone away. In fact, I would say that the ambition has only gotten bigger and meaner. Like a fat, feral, untamed ambition eating me from the inside out. And all I do now is sulk around the house complaining that I don’t have ten more novels finished since May.

I just want something to happen. Anything. A big gust of wind in my sails. I need to feel like I’m moving forward.

THE UGLY

It’s been a very difficult time for me personally.

Someone very close to me has been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. I don’t want to say who it is, to respect their privacy, but just know that it is a relationship that is absolutely irreplaceable. Every day I have to wake up and imagine what my life would be like without that person. And I don’t know what’s going to happen.

If you are the praying sort… or you vibe with vibes… or you’re a really cynical person but you’re good at sending funny memes… just keep me in mind, I guess.

Other than that kids are doing great! They are so sweet. Getting bigger every day! Life overall has been good… which is weird because it’s been the absolute worst year of my life.

Also in retrospect, I should have started with the worst thing and ended with the best thing. Welp. That’s what I get for trying to do some cutsie title. SORRY. Tune in for, hopefully, some cheerier updates down the road.

What My Day Looks Like with Two Little Kids

Okay, so a year and a half ago, I made a schedule of what it was like to have one kid. Well, here’s my schedule of what it is like with TWO KIDS. When I was pregnant with my second, I looked and looked and looked for this kind of post… I could never find it. So I MADE ONE MYSELF YOU’RE WELCOME.

*I will note that there is no schedule with the second for the first few months. And then they dip down to three naps a day and it all comes back to you. By the time it’s two naps a day. NO PROBLEM.

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8:00 (ish) Wake up, breakfast, get everyone dressed

Honestly, it’s such a mystery when my day is going to start lately. My baby is very consistently like 8-8:30, but for whatever reason these past few weeks my Toddler has been like 7-9. I wake up, I give the baby a bottle. Jack has a waffle, cereal and strawberry milk, (which he wants every day). I have to change everybody, sit the toddler on the potty. Eat breakfast and get ready myself, which is probably the biggest challenge. Showering has to be quick and I’m usually getting out soaking wet to move the baby back to his toys.

9:00 The daily chores

Every day I make the bed and do dishes. And then I have one chore assigned for that day of the week, like laundry or bathrooms. Sometimes I get them done before the baby’s nap. Most of the time I don’t.

10:30 or 11:00 Casey’s Nap

I put the baby down and then play with Jack, but I let him pick what he wants to do.

12:00 or 12:30 Lunch

I wake the baby up. Which always feels mean but worth it to get a mutual nap from the kids later. We have lunch together and if my husband is home we’ll go out somewhere fun.

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1:00 “Recess”

I call this time Recess in my mind. Pfft. That’s probably dumb. But mostly it’s just where I let the kids play rough and tumble for the last little bit before they sleep. During the blistering Arizona summer, I pull out the plastic slide and try to make a fun play place inside.

2:00 Both kids Nap

This eclipse is everything but it’s so hard to navigate. Jack first and then Casey. If I’m lucky I can get about an hour to myself. I *try* to reserve this time for writing, but honestly a lot of the time I’m so tired I end up sleeping!

4:00 Variable. Usually screen time

Whenever the kids wake up I try to keep it chill. I don’t have a set time for this, but every single day I try to have a reading time where I just read the kids books for a while. Right now, Jack is loving “Pajama Time”

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5:00 Dinner

I learned the hard way that dinner has to be as early as possible or the kids get GROUCHY. I’ve started meal prepping and it’s honestly SAVED MY BUTT. I can feed the kids when I need to and there is still a meal for Daniel when he gets home, I don’t have to worry about staving off the kids until later.

6:30 Some kind of adventure

Okay, so… here I just try to do something fun. Swimming is a good option right now in the heat and I prefer sunset swims because 1) Not as hot 2) Shade. Don’t have to sunscreen the kids! 3) For some reason, we get the pool to ourselves at that time and 4) THE SKY IS SO PRETTY!

If we don’t feel like swimming, we go to the play place at the mall. In the cooler months, we’ll go to the park or something.

8:00 Getting ready for bed

Bath. PJS. Brush Teeth. Prayer. Bottle. Blankies. Bed.

8:30 Both kids go to bed

I’ll probably have to put the toddler back like 600 more times. But then Daddy and Mommy get to hang out! And be so exhausted to do anything other than zone out in front of the TV…

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