12 Things I Think While Watching Kid Shows with my Toddler (2019)

Parents, I know you feel me.

 

#1

Me: Which TV show do you want?
Jack: *picks the one with the most annoying voice actors*
Me: … … Okay, movie night. Mom’s choice.

#2
Why do I find the Dad’s voice from Daniel Tiger so sexy? Do I need to see a therapist about this?

#3
Chris from Sesame Street is a gosh darn treasure. Prove me wrong.

ChrisKnowingsElmo

#4
I honestly didn’t know it was called an “excavator”…

#5
Blippi makes thousands and thousands of dollars every time he plays on an indoor playground and I need to reevaluate my career choices

#6
Johnny Johnny how do you feel about tooth decay?

#7
Okay, how is “Cocomelon” a more marketable name than “ABC kids”? 

bath

#8
Mm-hmm shark doo doo doo doo doo doo… Stuck in my head doo doo doo doo doo doo

#9
Hello, I’m the mom from Ryan’s Toy Review and I do COCAINE

#10
How does Cheesy from Super Simple Songs look so much like my friend Josh? lol

Image result for Cheesy super simple songs

#11
Not much of a surprise when you watch them open this egg 30 times a day

#12
Childless person: Um, your kid watches a lot of YouTube…
Me: *shows them my brother finger*

Literally Just a List of Things That Remind Me of My Childhood

Erasers in the shape of caterpillars

Picking dirt out of the cracks of my shoes with a pencil

Having twenty to thirty stuffed animals in my bed because I felt too bad to pick just one to sleep with (a la Toy Story)

Tying one end of the jump rope to furniture when we didn’t have three people to play

Razor scooter slamming into my ankles

Keeping my pencil shavings in a clear pink plastic box just for the heck of it

Having black marks all up against the side of my hand from drawing at school

Adding a Sailor Moon graphic to my love letter confession

Hoarding and eating an entire box of Thin Mints

Grey McNuggets

Lisa Frank fuzz on my leggings

holysmokes

Bangs almost as high as my bows

Waiting forever to go on a field trip

Changing your favorite color was a conscious decision

Blisters on the back of my knees from monkey bars

Having a lot of mystery scrapes and bruises

Star sixty-nine

Our big black boxy TV which was so amazing that we had a “big screen TV”

Roller skating in our unfinished basement

Falling in love with Cluefinders

cluefinders

Pretending that the freshly fallen snow was a new planet and stepping onto it dramatically

Getting yelled at by the lunch lady for not eating fast enough

Being devastated when I couldn’t find my toys

Making forts in the bunk bed by tucking blankets into the bars

Sleepovers at Grandma’s House

Sneaking into the creek behind my school

The smell of the “Science Room”

The smell of the lunchroom

My baby brother’s bald little head

Eating spaghettios for the first time ever

The seatbelt rubbing my neck uncomfortably

My armpits hurting after someone picked me up

Being too scared to ride on my dad’s shoulders because it was so freaking high

Going to Disneyland but lowkey being terrified of the drops on Pirates of the Caribbean

Being scared of my loud uncles

Feeling like getting in trouble was the end of the world

Making up a lot of outrageous and elaborate stories (oops still do this one)

Wishing I was an adult and could do “whatever I wanted”

Getting sidewalk chalk on my knees

Collecting snails in a yellow pail

Life Update: Partially Drowning

I may or may not have been in a pretty grouchy mood when I wrote this. But this is real. This is our life right now. Take it for what it is.

 

The Residency

Look. I’m going to be completely honest with you. But we are just miserable over here. If you don’t already know, Dan works 12hr+ shifts for twelve days straight through. Like sometimes his work days are longer than Jack is even awake. Which means they never get to see each other anymore. He is a zombie. And I am a single mom. And that’s how life is right now.

Okay. That’s not fair. Single moms have it worse because they are also sole-providers of their household. But zombies DO have it better because at least their hearts are dead.

I will say one thing though. My admiration for my husband has at least tripled since he became a resident. He does not feel the same way about himself. Which probably has to do with the way he is crapped on at his job.

“So is resident short for ‘resident toilet’?”

I do not know how he keeps it up. Honestly, if it had been me. I would have peaced out five years ago. Like the first week of Pharm school. What a man. What a man. What a mighty patient man. Say it again now!

 

The Babes

Casey is the happiest lil’ thing you ever did saw. He’s always smiling. In fact, he’s smiling at me right now. Wherever we go, people comment on how happy he is. He’s honestly the most cheerful baby I’ve ever met.

I found out I was pregnant a year ago and I was sure that the new little baby was going to be the most challenging part of the year. But you know what? He wasn’t even close to being the hardest. He is SO EASY. Like, I thought my eldest was easy. And he really is. But this kid is like a little pink smiley angel of some kind.

Jack is doing both stellar and not stellar at the same time. He is going through the terrible twos. Some days I just want to rip my hair out. He gets upset over EVERYTHING. He can’t eat fistfuls of powdered parmesan. DISASTER. He has to walk to the car. END OF THE WORLD. You put on the wrong YouTube video. GAME OVER. And most of the time it’s like you have no idea why he’s screaming and crying and you just kind of stare at him while he’s rolling around. He’s finally catching up on a speech delay but I think the still-present communication barrier is sending his frustrations through the roof.

 

The Writing

I feel like a freaking plastic bag caught in a tornado. Just whipping around from here to there and having no direction at all.

I started coming up with this new novel-plotting technique. Because 1) I’m desperately pragmatic when it comes to book writing and 2) developmental edits are like ten thousand splinters beneath my eyelid. So I came up with what I felt like was a good system and I started practicing it on the one book that I knew OH SO WELL. (The story that I had been working on for more than two years.) And as I was re-plotting, I came to the dreadful realization that… I am going to have to re-write this book A-FREAKING-AGAIN. I don’t even know what draft this is. Five? Six?

I stopped querying immediately. And ugh. It was a complete gut job. I wrote 20k new words, stitched it all together and zapped the monster with lightning in my mad scientist lab. And through all the sweat, tears and finger cramps I FINALLY had slapped together a sixth draft.

And you want to know what? When I stepped back to admire the work I had just done… I realized, wow… this is truly, truly, truly not good.

It still needs extensive work. Particularly the ending which is completely nonsensical. I shut my laptop and whispered, ‘I need a break from you’. It honestly was the same feeling as when your hair gets so hopelessly snarled and tangled that you bust out the kitchen scissors. I need a break. I need a torrent affair with another story. Or SOMETHING. Work on an entirely new thing, until I’m a better, smarter writer and then regroup.

I won’t lie. Giving up is really tempting right now. I could just take my little butchered story, thank it like Marie Kondo and then shove it into the bottom of a Goodwill box.

 

In four months so much will be better for us. Jack will likely be talking more. Residency will be over and I could have time to invest into these projects. But for today, we are just slogging along to the finish line.

MINUS ONE: A Skit by Val Manwill

I obviously love stage mishaps so much, I mean, I’ve dedicated the whole last two months on it. But you know what’s even better than stage mishaps? A stage play ABOUT mishaps! Noises Off anyone??

Well anyway, a handful of years ago, I tried to write my own play within a play. And this is what I ended up with. It’s called Minus One. It’s quite an amateur piece of playwrighting, so that’s fine, just look past that. It was intended to be performed by 9th – 11th graders, if that gives you some kind of an idea. But I thought that it would be fun to share! So HERE YOU ARE:

 

 

 

 

MINUS ONE

By Val Manwill

 

 

 

 

 

ACT ONE

 

“Hamlet” rehearsal. SERVANT 4 enters, sets a sword and goblet on a table, then leaves. CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated.

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail—

 

Enter HAMLET

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir.

DIRECTOR:          (interrupting from the audience) Stop! Stop!

 

The actors groan.

 

DIRECTOR:          Hamlet. You were early. Again. I don’t know how you manage to be a perfect seven seconds early – every. Single. Time.

HAMLET:              I am sorry, but it’s incredibly hard to hear from the wings. I think it’s that air vent.

HORATIO:            (pokes his head from the curtains) It’s true. You really can’t hear a thing back here.

DIRECTOR:          Do you understand what’s going on in this scene?

HAMLET:              I, uh—

DIRECTOR:          They’re plotting your murder.

HAMLET:              Yeah…

DIRECTOR:          Isn’t that kind of hard to plot your murder if YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT THERE!?

HAMLET:              … Oh.

DIRECTOR:          I’m done with excuses. If you can’t hear the lines then count to 30 in your head and come out on stage. Take it again.

 

THE ACTORS reset and begin again.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail, I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison from LAERTES and pours it into the cup. LAERTES dips his sword into the poison cup. There is an awkward pause and then enter HAMLET.

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              I am satisfied in nature.

DIRECTOR:          Okay. Better!

 

Enter HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and SERVANT 4 who is carrying Hamlet’s sword. SERVANT 4 hands Hamlet the sword. LAERTES does a super goofy fencing maneuver but has one hand holding up his pants.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop. Laertes why are you only using one hand?

LAERTES:              My fencing pants are too big. I’m trying to hold onto them.

DIRECTOR:          Safety pin it.

LAERTES:              I can’t reach back there.

DIRECTOR:          Where’s Angie? (Calls) Angie!

HORATIO:            She’s helping the army of Fortenbras change in the green room.

DIRECTOR:          Then grab one of the servants running around back there to help you. We are grown adults, people! This shouldn’t be that hard! Continue please.

 

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

 

DIRECTOR:          Servant 4 move to the back please. Further please. Thank you.

GERTRUDE:         The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the cup

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

LAERTES:              (aside to CLAUDIUS) My lord, I’ll hit him now.

 

LAERTES stabs HAMLET. They fight, HAMLET stabs LAERTES with the poisoned sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed!

HORATIO:            They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (overdramatic) The drink! I am poisoned.

 

GERTRUDE dies in the most over the top way possible. THE OTHER ACTORS roll their eyes. THE DIRECTOR stands and applauds.

 

DIRECTOR:          My dear! Brilliant as always. That was fabulous! You were flawless.

GERTRUDE:         Well, of course it was. Would you expect anything else?

DIRECTOR:          Absolutely not. Please go on.

HORATIO:            (continuing) Treachery! Seek it out.

LAERTES:              It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good. The king, the king’s to blame.

HAMLET:              Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane, Drink off this potion. Follow my mother.

 

HAMLET forces CLAUDIUS to drink the poison. CLAUDIUS dies.

 

LAERTES:              He is justly served. Forgive me, noble Hamlet. (dies)

HAMLET:              Horatio, I am dead. Thou livest. If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart—

 

Suddenly, HAMLET makes the most obvious and ridiculous ‘blank face’ as he forgets his line.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop! (To himself) So close. We were SO close!

HAMLET:              I forgot what comes next.

DIRECTOR:          How do you NOT have your lines memorized 2 hours before we OPEN THIS SHOW!

HAMLET:              I’m sorry. I just kind of freeze up you know?

DIRECTOR:          Trust me, I know. Everyone in the audience knows! It’s that stupid face that you make.

CLAUDIUS:          I can’t work like this.

HAMLET:              I’m sorry, really. I just don’t know how to improvise Shakespeare.

DIRECTOR:          I feel so unappreciated right now. I have given you the most coveted role in all of the last 500 years of theatre. I made you. When I met you, you were in a public library reciting The Night Before Christmas.

HAMLET:              That’s not fair. . . everyone loved my rendition of The Night Before Christmas.

DIRECTOR:          Just do this show – THE RIGHT WAY! Please! Surprise me for once. Continue.

HAMLET:              Draw thy breath in pain To tell my story. dies

HORATIO:            Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

DIRECTOR:          Aaaaaand curtain! Good. Well, almost good. I feel like – things are too cluttered in this ending. Uh Servant 4?

SERVANT 4:         Yes?

DIRECTOR:          I don’t think we’ll be needing you for this ending scene. It doesn’t work with you there. You’re blocking most of the action.

GERTRUDE:         I think this scene should be for leads only.

DIRECTOR:          That’s just what I was thinking. Servant 4, thank you, but you’re cut. Everyone else, let’s set for this show.

 

Everyone leaves the stage except for SERVANT 4 who is almost in tears.

 

SERVANT 4:         “Cut”? Fine. I’m going home!

 

SERVANT 4 runs off the stage

 

 

ACT TWO

 

THE DIRECTOR stands on stage this time acknowledging the audience.

 

DIRECTOR:          Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming to our version of the beloved play Hamlet. I wanted to give a quick message regarding the final scene- Act 5 scene 2. This scene is a very, very serious part of the play and we would appreciate it if all cell phones were turned off and uh, no talking please. Without further ado – The finale of Hamlet.

 

THE DIRECTOR sits down, and CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:         Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated—

 

CLAUDIUS & LAERTES look down at the table realizing the key props are missing.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here is not a sword unbated.

LAERTES:              (scoots closer to the curtain and speaks loudly) Uhhh- Perhaps Lord Hamlet could bring me my sword.

CLAUDIUS:          Hamlet is going to bring YOU a POISIONED SWORD?

LAERTES:              Or perhaps I’ll fetch the sword myself! (Runs off stage)

CLAUDIUS:          (calls after LAERTES) Hey a chalice too. A chalice! (Follows LAERTES off stage)

 

Enter Hamlet

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir… I have … done you wrong?

 

HAMLET looks around confused at finding himself alone on stage.

 

LAERTES:              I have the sword!

 

 HAMLET ducks down behind a chair as LAERTES enters with a sword from stage right and CLAUDIUS with a bottle of water from stage left.

 

LAERTES:              I’ll anoint it with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:           I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

LAERTES:              A bottle?

CLAUDIUS:          A CHALICE!

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison and puts it into the bottle. LAERTES tries to get his sword in the bottle but the opening is too small.

 

LAERTES:              (whispering)  It won’t go!

 

From behind the couch, HAMLET silently counts to 30 on his fingers..

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes!

 

HAMLET pops up from behind the chair startling CLAUDIUS and LAERTES who violently spills the water in the bottle.

 

HAMLET:              Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              (sarcastically) I am satisfied in nature.

 

Enter HORATIO and GERTRUDE

 

CLAUDIUS:          (to HORATIO) Give him his foil.

HORATIO:            What, Me?

CLAUDIUS:          (through his teeth) Just get it.

 

Exit HORATIO. LAERTES begins his elaborate and goofy fencing move.

 

LAERTES:              Come, my lord.

HAMLET:              I – I can’t fight you without a sword.

 

LAERTES’ pants drop to his ankles.

 

LAERTES:              Very well. I shall fight you… when you have… a sword. If you’ll excuse me just a moment.

 

With his pants still around his ankles he waddles off stage. HAMLET sits in the chair, waiting.

 

GERTRUDE:         (slightly panicked) Uhh the queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the water bottle.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, seriously. Do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

 

THE DIRECTOR crawls “inconspicuously” on the stage and places a new cup on the table. GERTRUDE begins her dramatic over the top death scene.

 

GERTRUDE:         The drink! I am poisoned. (dies)

CLAUDIUS:          Um, actually dear. (Pointing to the new cup) I believe this is the poisoned one.

GERTRUDE:         Oh.

 

Gertrude gets up, walks over to the new cup and takes a sip.

 

GERTUDE:           Oh NO! The drink! I am poisoned. (Re-dies)

 

THE DIRECTOR drags Claudius offstage by his robe.

 

CLAUDIUS:          I will return. Delay the sword fight. Tarry!

 

CLAUDIUS and THE DIRECTOR exit stage left as HORATIO runs in stage right.

 

HORATIO:            I’ve got the sword. I’ve got it!

 

HORATIO trips on the water spill and is knocked unconscious. HAMLET turns around and breaks the fourth wall, making the same ridiculously blank face as earlier. He stands up.

 

HAMLET:              (attempting to improvise)  Tis . . . tis . . . twas . . . the night before Christmas and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care-

 

Suddenly LAERTES rushes in with the original goblet and splashes HAMLET in the face.

 

LAERTES:              Aha! It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good.

 

Re-enter CLAUDIUS with another sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed.

 

THE DIRECTOR enters stage right and picks up HORATIO’s limp body. He moves him around like a puppet.

 

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (from the ground) The cup! I am poisoned!

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing me to my rest! CURTAIN! CURTAIN!

 

THE ACTORS freeze and SERVANT 4 enters, addressing the audience.

 

SERVANT 4:         The moral of our little play is that no one person is bigger than another. No matter how small of a part you think you do, you can make a GIANT difference!

 

fin

 

New Schedule for the New Year

It’s that time again! The time when I randomly throw you for a loop by changing the basic format of this blog. Yay! …

No, but for reals. 2019 is going to be WHAT’S UP!!! I am so excited for this schedule NO JOKE. You should be too! It’s basically a whole year of story time and a TON of craziness.

So each season has its own theme. Here they are as follows:

JANUARY & FEBRUARY: THEATER HIJINKS AND SHENANIGANS

What you can expect this season is lots of mishap stories from my years as an actress. I LOVE live-theater-gone-wrong stories, so I’m dedicating a whole two months to it. You might also see a cameo from a stage play writing sample of mine.

MARCH, APRIL, MAY: TALES FROM THE SCHOOLYARD

Basically what the name implies. Here you’ll get lots of childhood stories. I’m going to talk about my family and how I grew up. And I’m hoping to put in some writing samples from the single digit years.

JUNE, JULY, AUGUST: SUMMER OF LOVE

I don’t know why whenever I write “Summer of Love” I get “Jungle of Love” stuck in my head… like that’s not even the lyrics, but okay.

My five year anniversary is coming up so I felt like I wanted to be annoying and talk about that. To offset the cheesiness I’ll also throw in embarrassing stories, “Crush themed” of course!

SEP, OCT, NOV: ALL THINGS CREEPY AND CRAWLY

So next fall you’ll read about my experiences with ghosts and the paranormal. How I make a fool of myself by being scared of everything. Chilling writing samples (obviously!) And whatever crazy thrills I can think of.

DECEMBER: A SURPRISE…

This may or may not be a surprise to me too.  But I have some pretty cool ideas…

This year is special because I’m gathering tons of outside crazy stories from others and hope to do a “collective storytime” at least once a quarter. And then regularly I will give you updates on my life, my little boys and my authorly efforts. Feel free to subscribe to be notified every time a new post comes out.

Stay tuned and Happy 2019 everyone!

Writing Update and News!

Hey, I’ve been sitting on this news for a while now… but I am officially a professionally published author! Yay! One of my short stories, The Prisoner, has been picked up by an anthology called Bubble Off Plum (more on that later). I actually found out about it, the day I gave birth to Casey. I was laying on my bed, trying to tell if my contractions were real or false, when I opened the email. I get a lot of emails from editors and agents that are the usual thank you but… THIS ONE WASN’T. It started off with “Congratulations!” I was like, YEAH woohoo… this is a really weird day. haha

The Prisoner (1)

THE PRISONER: Flynn plans to escape his new prison cell despite his bunk mate’s efforts to stop him.

It got picked up by the first and only place I submitted it to! And ah, I was so glad too. I love this story. Like, I love all my stories because they’re my brainchildren, but this one is top notch. ANYWAYS, I don’t want to give away too much about it, because I want you to read it!
I am SUPER stoked for this anthology too. It’s full of weird twisted little stories and should be an excellent read. Almost a thousand people submitted stories and they ended up picking 27 for the final compilation. I tell you that to convince you of the quality of the anthology… also I’m bragging. The ebook is already purchasable at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. On Friday, paperback versions will be available. More details can be found here. But it should be a pretty good one!

Other than that, I’ve been working on other stuff. I have five or six other stories out on submission right now and ACTUALLY I began writing another novel. I got to the halfway mark, 25k words, the night before I had Casey. So finishing it has been a much slower process. It’s a lil’ YA romantic comedy about a socially awkward boy who is courted by a confident outgoing girl. Like a reverse of the guy-in-pursuit trope. Anyways, it’s been really fun to write, but I’m kind of in an odd place right now with novels. I took a minute to write down all the ideas I had for books (a LOT) and I organized them into genres. What I discovered was that I either write light and funny YA rom coms OR creepy big twist thrillers… and nothing in the middle. I’m either one or the other.

I felt that this was a bit complicated because… how do you brand yourself for both of those audiences? Ultimately, I felt that probably my thrillers were the stronger, more marketable ideas and more conducive to an actual writing career. But now I am pretty torn because I have two YA contemporaries that I don’t know what to do with (Okay, one and half a draft.) I could pursue self-publishing with one genre and traditional with the other. Or maybe go whole-hog, this-is-me-as-an-author and try to brand for both. Who knows. There are SO many nuts and bolts to figure out when it comes to selling fiction and all I want in the world is to have an agent or a publisher or someone to just tell me what the eff to do with all these ideas I have!

For now, I guess I’ll just keep writing.

TTFN

Hello wonderful followers and friends!

I just wanted to take this week to let you know that I am allotting myself a proper maternity leave so there will be no new posts in the month of November. Sorry, dear readers! I will be back on the first Thursday of December to let you in on all news book and baby!

(PS- I don’t know if you noticed but I re-did all my projects pages and they are so pretty and squeaky clean now, feel free to click around!)

Thank you for your support!

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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.

bcefeaea3b063de47a7b452b9b4ccd05
“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

 

HELP! I NEED READERS!

In between sending out queries and waiting, I’ve been factory producing short stories. Now I have a small pile on my desk that I need help evaluating before I try to send them to any magazines… do you think you could help a sista out??

I have a ton of options. Lots of different genres. If you could spare anywhere from two to seventeen-page reading minutes. Oh my goodness, that would help me out SO MUCH!

 

WANTED:

HISTORY-LOVER FOR AN ACCURATE STORY ABOUT THE TITANIC

Quick Synopsis: Edith Russel was an American fashion designer and journalist. She was also a first-class passenger on The Titanic. This is her story, compiled from her own accounts of what happened that night.

Little Pig

4,640 words. Reading Time: 16 minutes

 

WANTED:

A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR FOR A QUIRKY RETELLING OF TAMING OF THE SHREW

Quick Synopsis: Raven hates everyone at school and does a great job keeping them away… except for overly-confident jock Tristan Dolton who won’t stop asking her to prom.

TAMELESS (1)

Disclaimer: I tried to translate the language from its Shakespearean predecessor as closely as I could realistically… that being said, the most ratchet dirty jokes survived into this draft. (lol) PLEASE Do not sign up for this story if you can’t handle a heavy PG-13 level of crudeness, language or an insufferable male character who doesn’t understand the word ‘no’.

2,110 words. Reading Time: 7 minutes.

 

WANTED:

OVERWORKED PARENT FOR A MOMMY STORY ABOUT BRUNCH

Quick Synopsis: Rather than go to a prestigious restaurant with her friends, Melissa stays home and battles her daughter over a peanut butter sandwich.

BRUNCH BUDDIES

1,136 words. Reading Time: 4 minutes.

 

WANTED:

THRILLS AND CHILLS SEEKER FOR SOME SERIOUS TWILIGHT ZONE WEIRDNESS

Quick Synopsis: Lauren believes she has met the perfect man, until he spontaneously combusts on the floor of her apartment.

MR. RIGHT

2,240 words. Reading Time: 12 minutes.

 

Here is the Google Form where you can sign up for any and all stories that you would like. Just be sure to drop your email and we’ll be in touch. Thanks!

 

Also, low-key, I have ANOTHER short story being published in an anthology which is now available for PRE-ORDER y’all! “A Quick Visit” is a YA Contemporary with some romantic feels (not unlike my novel). It will be available in Utah’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology which comes out on September 16th. If you want it a couple of weeks earlier you can order it here: https://www.zpublishinghouse.com/products/utahs-emerging-writers-an-anthology?variant=14625753694323