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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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:

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

 

Trying to Remember: Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island

This is a series where I try to write the synopsis of a movie BASED SOLELY on my ratty childhood memories of it.

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SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND

Um, okay. Spoiler Alerts. Maybe. Hahaha

So Scooby-Doo and the gang have split up and gone their separate ways… wait… isn’t this the plot of the live-action movie? Hmm not off to a good start… Okay, so Daphne and Fred are like in a random marketplace or something and this girl naaaamed… Leyla?… tells them that she lives on an island in the Louisiana bayou and that the island is TRULY HAUNTED. Daphne who is… like an investigative news reporter now, for some reason, is like YO! LET’S GO! And they have to gather the gang back up, which apparently isn’t hard once they tell Scooby and Shaggy about all the Gumbo that they will eat there.

So this gruff riverboat guy takes them to the island where Scooby gets into a fight with a catfish for some reason. And then they meet Leyla and her sister… um… blonde Leyla. Blonde Leyla is pretty hospitable, except that she doesn’t like Scooby because he’s an icky dog.

Daphne immediately goes into the kitchen to film some like reporter thing. And while she’s filming, a civil war ghost appears and carves “GET OUT” on the wall with his sword. So Daphne takes a spoon and starts scraping the wallpaper off (Lol is this memory even real?). Leyla is like WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU WHY ARE YOU DESTROYING MY KITCHEN?! And that’s when Daphne is like Hey this wall has been made from an old pilgrim ship… or something like that.

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OMG SHIPLAP!!

 

So anyways, one night, zombies start chasing them. And there is a SUPER COOL THEME SONG THAT PLAYS. And then I think maybe Shaggy falls into a pit or something? Iono. But the sun comes up and the zombies, like, slink back into the mud and disappear.

So probably some other stuff happens and mystery-solving that I don’t remember. But then they discover that Leyla and Blonde Leyla are actually… evil cat people (???). And gruff riverboat guy is actually an evil cat person too! So they’re stuck on the island. And all the cat monsters have been trapping people and sucking out their souls and turning them into zombies… I think to be able to live forever or something? And also I feel like there’s some big monologue about how their feelings were hurt by pilgrims or whatever.

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Anyway, Scooby saves them somehow, but I don’t remember. I think he breaks their little green scepter thing that sucks out their souls… No, wait… that’s the live-action version again…

Um. Scooby saves the day and gets a Scooby Snack. THE END!

 

GOES AND READS THE ACTUAL SYNOPSIS

Wow. Pretty bang on.

 

 

 

A Dark and Funny Graphic Novel to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

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Hey! If you haven’t noticed by now, I love to support indie authors. Especially if they have really cool books. And especially ESPECIALLY if those books are spooky and hilarious graphic novels…

I would like to turn your attention to The Plague and Dr. Caim, which is all about a medieval doctor as he attempts to treat people with the bubonic plague.

C. E. Gallas was so kind as to send me a few previews for you to check out. If you are interested in the project, I recommend supporting him in this way: https://unbound.com/books/the-plague-and-doctor-caim/

 

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I feature indie authors often and give shout outs as often as I can. If you have a book you would like featured you can contact me here or follow me on Twitter for other opportunities.

Trying to Remember: Kiki’s Delivery Service

The other day, Dan was asking me about Kiki’s Delivery Service. (You know, one of those two in the morning conversations.) And something occurred to me…

THIS MOVIE THAT I HAD WATCHED LIKE EVERY DAY AS A CHILD WAS BARELY IN MY BRAIN ANYMORE. How can that be possible? I know I’ve seen this movie more than a dozen times. So what? Fifteen little measly years can go by and erase this BEAUTIFUL CLASSIC MASTERPIECE FROM MY LIFE???

So, I had an idea. (You know, one of those two in the morning ideas.) What if I tried to explain the movie with only the vague bits and pieces that I remembered? And ALSO what if I embarrassed myself by making it a whole series on my blog?

Beautiful. Let’s do it.

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KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE: A VERY SHODDY SYNOPSIS

 

Okay, so there’s this witch with a big red bow and a black cat. And she lives with her… family (???) in the woods (?????). And the family is like, Hey now, your power is flying on a broomstick so you need to go and do something with your life and… help people probably. So, I guess this child witch has come of age and ventures off to… venture, I guess.

While she’s flying around looking for a place to be a witch, she runs into another witch flying along with a white cat. She tries to talk to her, but the other witch BLATANTLY SNUBS HER. And she’s like WOW what a little B-witch. And then that witch character never appears in the story again… I’m pretty sure…

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Okay, then she ends up in this… French looking town? And finds a bakery and tells the old woman, “Hey, I can help you deliver your rolls by flying all around town.” And the old woman says, “Cool. You can live in my attic if you want.”

So, she… delivers bread around town… getting to know townspeople and stuff. And like helping them? Okay, maybe I’m actually thinking of Pollyanna… I don’t know. I legit am getting a headache, I am trying SO FREAKING HARD TO REMEMBER THIS.

Um, alright, so there’s a nerdy boy with a striped shirt and they become friends. And… some stuff happens… and she can’t fly for some reason… and it’s important that she fly because of… another reason. So this cute nerdy boy takes her on what I think is a bike. Lmao I don’t know why I’m imagining a blimp / bike. I think that’s wrong. But whatever, so this kid takes her on a blimp / bike and she gets it to fly. And they… deliver… the bread.

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Um, The End. I guess.

 

GOES AND READS THE REAL SYNOPSIS

 

Okay. Wow.  What? Not even close.

Why do I not remember this? IT’S SUPER CUTE. Where can I buy this movie??

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.

20 Indie Books You Should Be Checking Out Today

Nothing but a shout out to some hard-working and talented indie authors.


Castaway Unending: Devil’s Trifecta

Ten researchers from Miami explore the Bermuda Triangle in hopes to find the cause of its supernatural phenomena. That cause doesn’t want to be discovered, however, and will make the crew of college professors and students pay for their meddling.

Trifecta

READ HERE: https://t.co/KPQVxObFNB?amp=1


 

Naylin: Dragons of Light

Naylin follows a young girl being thrown into a Coming of Age ceremony with 2 men fighting over her. Then, dragons and shenanigans ensue, culminating in a tale full of romance, comedy, and self-discovery.


Shadowless

What if the gods themselves wanted you dead?


Fated to Meet You

Tired of her boring life, one day she is magically transferred to the past. There she chooses to replace a dead princess, determined to live in that time. But there was only one reason for her time-travel; she had to break a curse that haunted the royal family for many generations. Will she be able to save her loved one and survive fate’s game?


Under a Fallen Sun

Paige’s quest to find her missing brother Todd turns into a battle for survival in an isolated Texas town. An enemy they never knew existed has come to Earth.


Among Us

Read along as we travel to Christy, Tennessee where God called together a group of friends to stop an alien invasion in this Christian science fiction novel by R. E. Henderson, where we see just how aliens are…Among Us.


Hunky Dory

Tristan Starbuck is not a man you are likely to have heard of (unless your interests are very obscure), nor is he a man who by most metrics would be considered good or important. But he is my brother, and I believe him to be the best and most extraordinary person I ever came across. I have decided to tell his story – as difficult as it may be to put much of it into words – because after all, I believe that it is emblematic, of something.


The Battle Ground Series

Sixteen-year-old Bex Ellman has been drafted into an army she doesn’t support and a cause she doesn’t believe in. Her plan is to keep her head down, and keep herself and her friends safe – until she witnesses an atrocity she can’t ignore, and a government conspiracy that threatens lives all over the UK. With her loyalties challenged, Bex must decide who to fight for – and who to leave behind.

(Psst! You can also test drive a FREE novella in this series https://tallerbooks.com/freebook/)


His Name Was Zach

A dystopian thriller featuring Zach and teen daughter Abby. Chased from their home into the Wild, they must search for a new safe place. Will they make it, or will they fall to the surrounding madness?


Forever and One Day

After the death of her grandmother, Savannah’s perfect life falls apart. Seeking redemption from her inner demons, Savannah discovers the path to well-being isn’t a straight line.

One day

BUY HERE: https://www.balboapress.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/791669-forever-and-one-day


Saturnius Mons: Ruins of Empire

A lost civilization on Titan. A Global Corporation trying to destroy it. And a religious war brewing that could destroy all life of the moon.

Viekko Spade picked the wrong week to stop doing Triple-T


Dark

Hayden Crowe fronts an all-girls band down in Austin, Texas. Between tending bar so her sister can stay in school and dealing with the fallout after their addict father skipped town, she hasn’t exactly had time to join the social media freak out over the recent outing of vampires and werewolves.

Her world comes crashing down the night she’s attacked in an alley after a gig and bitten by a feral werewolf. Unable to return home for fear of hurting her sister, and with a message scrawled across her arm warning HOSPITALS NOT SAFE, Hayden is left with just one option…

Him.


The Can-Do Karate Kid

A karate kid realizes that laziness and procrastination are ruining his life and he must figure out how to fight them.

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BUY HERE: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1733918809/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0


The Red Dirt Hymnbook

Maybe running off with the traveling preacher wasn’t Ruby’s best idea. But she can’t call home because in 1979 the closest thing to a cell phone is a CB radio.


The Adventures of Edward Brett

5500 years old. Forged in fire. He’s the god you’ve forgotten, stopping the monsters that haven’t forgotten you

It’s spooky, kooky, supernatural fun.


The Pretender

When Sophia crosses paths with Princess Isabella their lives intertwine in an unforgettable way. Switching places for one week, they both happily live their dreams until disaster strikes. Can they reverse the devastating consequences of their actions?


Conquest: DarkForce

Ordered to undergo a dangerous mind-wipe procedure, Lily avoids arrest and becomes a rogue agent. In her journey to uncover the truth, she teleports to an alien planet where she faces a terrifying threat unlike anything mankind has ever encountered before.


Twisted

The great evil is attacking, and the king has asked a young hero to make a name for himself… But is the great evil what it seems?


Artistic Love in the Psych Ward

Rain is an artist who likes to paint, draw and write what God speaks to her on a daily basis. She is in community college majoring in art studies. She is trying to cope with the loss of her maternal grandparents when she also experiences a sexual assault. After these two traumatic life occurrences, she decides to commit herself into a psychiatric ward. In the ward, she meets a guy named Chase. Chase is a goth who also expresses himself through art. He is dealing with some issues of his own. But when he meets Rain, he reluctantly befriends her. She challenges his own thinking on being able to forgive as she is also working to forgive. Can they both heal from what has happened to them? Can the artistic bond they both share aid in the healing process? Can forgiveness truly cover the hurts and mistakes of the past?


Cursed Plantation

A haunting, supernaturally twisted tale of privilege, stolen innocence and dark, fierce and otherworldly revenge!

5 Reasons I’m Attending an Online Writer’s Conference

Guess who has two sore thumbs from drafting and is attending a writer’s conference?

 

Writer’s Clearinghouse is having their conference completely online. And oh man, I am here for it. Here are my top five reasons why:

#1 It’s a good ice breaker since I’ve never been to a conference before

If you are an itty bitty baby writer like me, everything seems very prestigious and scary. I don’t know why I haven’t tried to attend a conference yet. Maybe it’s the imposter syndrome or the crippling insecurity… (yeah, probably that).

Or going outside in general, honestly. I didn’t even know that was a thing that other writers did. What is a sun? You mean there’s a whole world on the other side of my laptop screen?

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#2 I can attend in my own comfy house

The idea of attending a Q&A with agents and editors while wearing secret pajama bottoms under a desk is exhilarating at best. Not to mention, being a mother of small children makes leaving my house MISSION FREAKING IMPOSSIBLE.

Recently, we moved the baby into his own room and had to get creative with our office space…

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Yes. That is actually a closet. I will be attending a writing conference in the comfort of my own closet.

#3 The networking is more personable

The faculty to attendee ratio is 6:1.

Granted, at a larger conference, you would have MORE industry professionals in attendance. But having a lot of time for personal feedback is pretty dang desirable. And you really get to know the faculty you’re working with.

Authors so often feel intimidated by literary agents that they forget that they’re “shopping” too. You want someone who is going to be the best fit for your book as well as your work style. For example, I’m interested in partnering with more of an editorial agent. That makes these workshops invaluable for me because I can get more of an idea of what and WHO I’m looking for.

And if you want to talk tactical efforts, I don’t think it would hurt to leave a lasting impression on only one agent. The publishing world is so tight-knit that it would only help you to be memorable. (Favorably, of course.)

#4 A free partial evaluation from Writer’s Clearinghouse is included

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Yo. Not a sponsor. But I just really dig on this company, y’all. I’ve been in and out of the query trenches for a year now. AND THEM SLUSH PILE BLUES ARE NO JOKE. I’ve seen quite a few automated rejections in my day.

Writer’s Clearinghouse is an evaluation service done by former editors and agents. It’s designed to let you know how ‘publishable’ your book is. They score your manuscript in twenty different categories picking out your strengths and things that could be improved. (I’m both annoyingly pragmatic and an art educator, so the sight of a rubrics system fills me with such a giddy glee. TAKE THAT SUBJECTIVITY!)

The most delectable part of Writer’s Clearinghouse is that if your manuscript scores high, they will notify compatible agents about it. UM YES PLEASE!

If you are interested in that sort of thing, click HERE for more information.

And finally,

#5 I’m trying to make real, tangible investments into a dream

I have a hard time spending money on myself, so it took a while for me to bring myself to register. I mean, really. How dare I spend this much selfish money on myself, when I could have used it to buy 30 kids meals for my toddler? (…I only understand currency if I convert it into chicken nuggets.)

It was my husband who finally said, “We’re spending this money and we’re investing in YOU.”  And that sure is a true thing. My dream is worth it. It’s not stupid, it’s not irresponsible and it’s not impossible either. Especially if you take actual real steps toward it, instead of just saying you’re going to do it someday.

So, go and do the thing.

… And if the thing for you is this online conference, mention me. Maybe we’ll be in the same critique group together and you can cringe over my first ten pages. It will be so fun!