NaNoWriMo

What If No One Likes My Writing?

MAN – I needed to hear this.

Also, shut that inner editor down – you’re trying to cross a finish line.

(video warning: language if you’re sensitive).

Haters gonna hate. There is nothing you can do about that but you can control how you react to them. People are hateful for a variety of reasons and most of those reasons have nothing to do with YOU. Haters are simply projecting their unhappiness on to you and unfortunately, you happen to be in their crosshairs at that moment in time. I know it’s easier said than done to shrug off hateful comments or behavior but people are flawed and terrible behavior comes with the territory.

Communication is a learned art. Not everyone pays attention to that lesson and/or they are never taught on how to communicate effectively. I’m telling my fellow MA’s that at work all the time. You can pretty much get anyone to do anything you want them to do if you recognize the art of communication. I took a communications class in college and it changed my life. I’ll never forget when we were assigned a speech where the objective was to persuade the class to our way of thinking. My subject? Legalize marijuana. We had to submit the assignment to our instructor before we got up in front of the class to present it and my instructor thought it was SO convincing that she asked that I put in “for medical purposes” into my speech. I was highly annoyed that she would suggest that but when I took my audience into consideration, young, impressionable, bored college kids, I got it.

But I learned HOW to communicate. The first rule of thumb – consider your audience. Who are you talking to? I consider this daily at work – what kind of patient am I speaking to? If they are young and hip, then I know talking to them as an “adult” will make them tune me out. If I’m talking to an elderly person, I know I have to slow down, enunciate fully and explain everything, BUT, don’t dumb it down so much that it seems I’m treating them like a child. I give patients controlled options when I speak to them – you can pick option 1 or option 2. And if they get upset and don’t understand why I won’t give or do what they want me to do, I explain why we can’t do option 3.

I also took a grammar class where we studied Aristotle which at the time I thought was DRY as sh*t, but I learned a lot about language and the importance of HOW to phrase my words when speaking to people. For example, don’t put people on the defensive when speaking to them – YOU need to do this or YOU shouldn’t do this. Like I said, communicating is an art. And offering someone constructive criticism is TRULY an art.

So, it’s challenging to receive constructive criticism but it’s also challenging to give constructive criticism. You can almost always tell, right away, if someone is truly trying to help you or if they’re having a crappy day and you’re the target. After you have determined the objective behind the comment, then you can proceed accordingly. It’s always best to ignore the hater – they WANT you to engage. They WANT you to fight. I don’t know about ya’ll, but I do not have the time, the energy, nor the desire to deal with someone else’s issues, I have plenty of my own crap to deal with, thank you very much.

But it still stings. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t get our feelings hurt now and again. We just have to be the better person and walk away – out of sight, out of mind.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been posting a lot of fiction lately. Largely because of NaNoWriMo, OF COURSE, but I’ll be honest, it’s sort of scary. My writing style won’t please everyone and I don’t even know if it makes sense most of the time because I’m writing for quantity at this stage, not necessarily quality.

But I’m getting to know my characters and I’m having fun doing it so I guess that’s all that matters.

But putting your creative self out there is scary. I can definitely empathize with other content creators out there though I can’t imagine what it must be like to have millions of followers and EVERYONE has an opinion so that must be really hard. You’re constantly being criticized and analyzed and people think you should have done this, or shouldn’t have done that and it’s easy to have an opinion on something you didn’t sweat blood to produce. Because in case you haven’t noticed, creating something out of nothing is HARD WORK.

But it’s also strangely satisfying. However, if you’ve noticed, I don’t allow comments on my blog because quite frankly, I’m doing what I’m doing for ME, not for any one who happens to visit. If I take time to stop and read what people think, to hear constructive criticism, it will slow my momentum down and I’ll start to doubt myself. My thoughts and feelings are my own, agree or disagree, they’re still mine to share.

Also, the majority of people do not know how to effectively communicate their thoughts without attacking, name calling or just being assholes and I don’t care about those people. And I certainly don’t have time to weed through the muck to find the genuine ones so I simply don’t open myself up to that situation. It simplifies my life and right now, I think we would all agree, we need simple in our lives right now.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I really don’t care anymore if anyone likes my writing or not because it’s just something I HAVE to do. I have to purge my thoughts and writing is the best way I know to do it. I let that fear hold me back for too many years and you know what? Life is getting shorter and shorter, especially for me because I’m old(ish).

Speaking of which …

Today is my birthday. Why don’t you follow me?  You want to make my special day special, right?

Just kidding. Do what you want. But I DO appreciate YOUR time when you read my crap. It means a lot. Thank you.

Have a lovely day!

NaNoWriMo2020

Dree’s Pre-Story

Dree studied her reflection in the mirror. Her cheeks were sunken in and she had dark circles around her eyes. She turned her head from side to side and casually smeared a droplet of blood dripping from her mouth across her chin.

She smiled.

“Wow. You look dead.”

She spun in her chair and grinned.

“Sick! You blackened your teeth!” Riley fully came into her room and plopped down on her bed.

“Does it look like I eat brains for breakfast?” She laughed while reaching for her wig.

“Totally. What do you think about my costume?”

She crunched up a dead leaf in her hand and rubbed it into her raggedy wig. “Love it. It really looks like some big zombie dude grabbed you by the head and ripped it off your shoulders. You need more blood though. Hang on.” She tucked her hair into her wig cap, bent forward, tugged the wig on and then sat back up, her long, black hair curling around her shoulders. “Wigs are so freakin’ hot.” She adjusted it more comfortably then reached for her fake blood. She got up and moved toward him. She began to smear blood around the corners of his mouth and ran a finger down his chin and neck.

“I wish they weren’t going to be there,” he whispered staring her straight in the eyes.

She shrugged. “Yeah. Me too. We would have more fun if they weren’t there, but whatever. We’re going to have fun regardless of the shit they pull tonight.” She backed away and smiled. “Perfect. You look like a headless person now. Bravo.”

He got up to look at himself in the mirror. “Yeah. Good job.” He turned to face her, his face falling serious. “You’re driving us, right?”

“That’s the plan short stuff.” She paused while putting her theatrical makeup away. “Did something happen again?” She turned to look over her shoulder at him.

“Not really. Just the same shit. This bruise here?” He pointed to his temple. “That’s not makeup.”

She narrowed her eyes and slammed the last of her makeup in her backup. “He’s such an asshole.”

“I’m so glad you’re living here, Dree. I don’t know how I would …” he trailed off. Dree reached out and ruffled his hair. “Don’t sweat it, short stuff. We’re a team. You’re not getting rid of me. Besides, this is the first time in months I’ve had a roof over my head and a real bed to sleep in. Why would I give that up?”

He smiled and nodded. “Okay. Let’s go have some fun.”

“Agreed. Come on.” She grabbed her purse and they exited the bedroom.

“Wow. You guys look great!” Mandy paused stirring the punch she planned on taking to the party and apprised them both. “Definitely scary looking.”

Dree bowed and Riley howled in mock pain.

“Pretty sure you guys will win the costume contest.”

Dree shrugged and tried to hide her pleased smile. “I don’t know, you’re looking pretty great yourself. Bride of Frankenstein?”

Mandy laughed. “Yeah. Let’s go with that. I think that’s my official costume but I’m not sure I actually carried it off. But I thought, what the hell, if Richard could go as Frankenstein then it seemed like a no brainer to go as his bride.”

“Oh. Is Dick coming?” Dree gave Riley the side eye. She hadn’t really anticipated Dick coming, she was hoping he would think a Halloween party was beneath him but whatever, they would just avoid him.

“Yeah. He decided to go at the last minute.” Many shrugged. “Seems weird, really. He has never seemed interested in going in year’s past.”

Dree sighed. He was going because she was going to be there. She never should have told him she was thinking of going. She silently berated herself for her stupidity.

“Okay. I guess we’ll see you there,” Dree said. She motioned for Riley to follow her.

“Oh. You guys are driving? I thought we could all go together.” Mandy looked wounded.

“Nah. That’s okay, Mandy. We may not want to stay as late as you guys so I’ll drive me and Riley. Did you want us to take anything?” She looked out over the spread on the kitchen table. It was covered with wrapped candy apples.

“Oh actually, yes.” Mandy glanced over shoulder and pulled out a carboard box. She began putting the apples into the box. “If you could take these, that would be great. This cider isn’t quite ready so …” she trailed off and Dree helped her load the apples.

Dree could sense Riley stiffening beside her. Dick had entered the room.

“Hey. What’s going on?” He moved to stand next to Dree. He reeked of pot and beer. Someone had started the party early.

“Just loading up the apples, Richard,” said Mandy. “Dree is driving them over. We’ll meet up with them later.”

“Nope. I’m driving all of us,” said Dick.

Riley practically threw the last apple into the box as Dree hugged it close to her chest and pulled it off the table. She completely ignored Dick.

“Let’s go Riley.”

Dick moved to block her. “I said I would drive us.”

Dree stared at his chest. She could feel the anger bubbling up inside her. She moved to sidestep Dick only for him to step back in front of her. She stood for long seconds before lifting to meet his eyes. She didn’t even bother hiding her disgust. He smirked down at her.

“Move, Dick.” She emphasized his name to imply that he was acting like a dick, too. He reached out as if to take the box from her.

“I can put this in the car,” said Dick, a challenging light in his eyes. Riley cowered back, his eyes volleying back and forth between them with fear.

“Oh my gosh!” Mandy yelled while moving toward the stove. Her cider was beginning to bubble over. Her cry of alarm was enough to distract Dick long enough for Dree to pull free of his grasp and slide past him.

“Hey!” Dick called after them.

“Let them go, Richard,” said Mandy. “We’ll catch up. No big deal,” she placated him.

Dree didn’t stick around to hear anymore. She kicked open the door and hurried down the front steps, Riley close on her heels.

“God, I hate him,” Dree muttered between clenched teeth.

“Yeah,” Riley said and opened the back door of her Chevy Malibu so Dree could shove the box of apples into the back seat.

“He’s not that bad,” said Riley. “He doesn’t hit me as often as my last foster family.”

Dree sighed and buckled her seat belt. “I don’t even know where to start with that statement.” She started the car and backed out of the driveway. She saw the front door open and accelerated. She slammed on her brakes when she heard a car horn, uncomfortably close, honk at her. The car continued to blast it’s horn as it maneuvered around her.

“Jesus!” Riley shouted, putting out both hands to catch himself before hitting the dashboard.

Dree gritted her teeth and stared at Dick. He was illuminated by the porch light and she could see his knowing smirk even from her distance.

“Riley. We’re not moving until you buckle up.”

“Damn Dree. You nearly killed us.” He reached around and snapped the belt into place.

“Yeah, sorry dude. I wasn’t expecting Dick to open the door. I thought he might come running after us.”

Riley studied her for long moments, but kept silent.

Dree forced herself to take deep, calming breaths. He was not going to hurt her again. She was ready for him if he tried. She had been working out at Jimbo’s Gym for several months and she had never felt stronger. She was also noticing muscles that hadn’t been there before. She also taught herself to use a punching bag. If she wasn’t at school or working, you could find her at the gym. In fact, she kept most of her clothes at the gym, the only thing she had at Mandy and Dick’s house were PJ’s and a toothbrush. Though she appreciated having a roof over her head and a comfy bed, she didn’t feel comfortable living with them. After the incident, she insisted on them putting a lock on her door. She had had to convince Mandy that one was necessary without telling her that her asshole husband was the reason she needed one.

She spent many long hours at the gym obsessively working out after the attack, trying to sweat the memory of him touching her out of her body. Jimbo watched her work herself into utter exhaustion before approaching her late one night.

“What’s up, kid?”

She had stopped punching the bag, putting a hand out to stop it’s forward momentum before reaching over to grab a towel and wipe the sweat from her face. “Nothing. Just blowing off some steam.”

“You have a lot of steam.”

She shrugged and moved to step past him and make her way to the locker room.

“I’ve worked with enough damaged people to recognize the signs.”

Dree froze in place. Her heart began to pound and she focused on breathing evenly. How would he know? She hadn’t told a soul. In fact, she worked extra hard to appear as normal as she could. Or at least, as normal as she thought people expected. She turned to face him.

“I’m fine, Jimbo.”

“Sure kid. I don’t believe you, but okay. Tell you what,” he reached for the disinfectant and began spraying down the punching bag. “Let’s get you into some kickboxing classes.”

“Kickboxing?” She tilted her head. She had seen several girls in the ring learning kickboxing but she had never thought she had the coordination to try it.

“I think you would be a natural. And if you need to defend yourself, there’s really no better way.” He paused cleaning the bag and gave her a knowing look.

He knew. She didn’t know how he knew, but he did. In some ways, she felt relieved that he knew but they didn’t have to talk about it. She smirked and nodded her head once in agreement. Jimbo had made sure she got into a class and came to check on her from time-to-time. That was four months ago. She wasn’t nearly as good as most of the people in her class but Jimbo had been right  – she felt stronger and more prepared to defend herself, if she needed to.

She hoped she never had to.

Continue reading “Dree’s Pre-Story”

NaNoWriMo2020

Interview with Dree

Hello Blogfam and welcome.

I’d like to introduce Dree Sanders. Dree is a supporting character in this story. She has graciously allowed me to pick her brain and to share her with you all. Welcome Dree.

Dree: Thanks.

Me: You look mad.

Dree: I’m not mad. But I don’t think I appreciate the supporting character part of your introduction.

Me: But you are a supporting character. You’re not the main character so …

Dree: Whatever.

Me: Okay. *swallows nervously* So tell us about your relationship with Maya.

Dree: I don’t have a relationship with Maya.

Me: *nervous laugh* Wow. This interview is going great. Are you saying you’re an enemy of Maya’s?

Dree: I wouldn’t say enemy, per se …

Me: *waits*

Dree: *sigh* I guess we’re more like frenemies …

Me: Why is that? What happens?

Dree: *gives her a condescending look* Pretty sure I can not contractually answer that question.

Me: *shrugs* Maybe not. Okay, do you hate Maya?

Dree: I don’t feel anything for Maya. She’s my competitor. But … *big sigh* I guess I admire her, too.  If you tell her I said that, I will stab you.

Me: She’s kidding Blogfam … she wouldn’t really stab me. *tilts head* Would you?

Dree: *shrugs*

Me: How did you and Maya meet?

Dree: I actually kicked her ass.

Me: *blinks* You … that’s how you met??

Dree: Yep.

Me: Like, *nervous laugh* did you jump her in an alley? I don’t understand.

Dree: No. God, *rolls eyes* In kick boxing.

Me: Oh, of course. So that’s how you two met?

Dree: Pretty sure I just said that.

Me: Geez Dree, no reason to be a bi … difficult.

Dree: *smirks* It was easy to kick her ass. She’s not very good at kickboxing.

Me: I see. Let’s switch it up. Do you have a boyfriend?

Dree: That’s personal.

Me: *waits for an answer*

Dree: *sighs* Fine. Yes .. and no.

Me: Oh my God, Dree! It’s like pulling teeth to talk to you! You’re the who agreed to this interview.

Dree: Actually, no I didn’t. You forced me to ..

Me: *holds up a hand* Stop. Just stop. The purpose of this interview is to introduce you to the Blogfam as well as give me an idea of who and what you are. I have to say, I’m not exactly a fan of you right now.

Dree: Ditto.

Me: *takes a calming breath* Look. Just tell us your role in this story.

Dree: I keep everyone from killing each other.

Me: Do people turn on each other?? I don’t remember that being part of the plan!

Dree: What do you mean part of the plan? You don’t even know what the plan is yet! You haven’t written the story yet.

Me: But the little I’ve planned out in my head does not say my characters kill each other.

Dree: You’re forgetting one little fact.

Me: What?

Dree: There is a whole lot about this story you don’t know yet. How do you know what happens in the middle? Answer, you don’t. What if I go on a killing spree?

Me: Then I guess I’ll have Maya take you out.

Dree: *snorts* That princess? I’d like to see you try!

Me: Are you threatening me, Dree?

Dree: You started it.

Me: *takes a calming breath* Okay … this is getting weird. Let’s move … wait, you never answered the question about having a boyfriend? *consults transcript* Wait. You answered it .. sort of.

Dree: *dramatic sigh* You’re annoying.

Me: Ditto.

Dree: *cracks a smile in spite of herself* Touché.

Me: ….

Dree: What makes you think I have a crush on a boy?

Me: *slow blink* You’re a lesbian?

Dree: Maybe.

Me: I mean … if that’s what you’re in to, I’m not judging. Not to mention, I really don’t care but …

Dree: *laughs* I’m not into girls … though there are a few characters in your story I would do if I swung that way.

Me: Gah. This conversation just gets more and more strange. *clears throat* What are some things you like to participate in?

Dree: S & M, kinky exhibitionist stuff.

Me: Dree!

Dree: *loud laugh*

Me: Will you please be serious. I’m trying to get to know you here and you’re doing your best to keep me at arm’s length.

Dree: I don’t get close to people.

Me: Oh, why is that?

Dree: *shrugs*

Me: No. You don’t get to not answer that. Spill the tea.

Dree: *gives it some thought* Because people suck.

Me: Meaning …?

Dree: People are constant disappointments. I can’t count on anyone, ever. I can only count on myself.

Me: Sounds like you’ve been let down in your life.

Dree: You could say that.

Me: Tell me about your home life?

Dree: What home life?

Me: What are your parents like?

Dree: I have no idea.

Me: You’re not close to your parents?

Dree: I don’t have parents.

Me: Dree, come on. Someone impregnated your mother so that you could be born. You didn’t just appear out of thin air.

Dree: Sometimes I wish I had.

Me: Bad people?

Dree: You could say that.

Me: Do you have any contact with them?

Dree: God no.

Me: When did you move out?

Dree: I didn’t. They kicked us out.

Me: Us?

Dree: *bites her lip* My little brother.

Me: *raises eyebrows* I didn’t know you had a brother.

Dree: I don’t.

Me: *exasperated chuckle* Dree! You just said …

Dree: We both came from foster care. We actually ended up in the same shitty household and we both picked up our shit and left when things got too intense. We’re not really family, but we’ve been through some stuff so … we’re close.

Me: Does he make an appearance in the story?

Dree: Maybe.

Me: Hmmm. So you’ve never felt like finding  your true parents?

Continue reading “Interview with Dree”

NaNoWriMo2020

Maya’s Pre-Story

“You want me to do what?” Maya pulled an earbud from her ear to blink at her father.

Thomas Cooper peeked over his reading glasses at Maya. “You heard me.”

“But dad,” she whined. “I’m meeting my friends! I can’t have Bryan tag along, I would die!”

“First of all, you won’t die,” he grinned. “Secondly, your mother has to go to this meeting and Carla has the afternoon off. You’re our only choice.” He paused. “You’re the best choice, obviously. Bryan loves hanging out with you.”

“And I love hanging out with him, but not in front of my friends. It’s not cool, dad.”

Thomas dropped his phone into his suit jacket and gave his daughter his full attention. “Look Gracie,” he stepped forward and gathered her into his arms, placing a kiss on her head. “I remember being fourteen. I know exactly what you’re feeling right now. Remember how I had to stay home with your aunt and uncle so grandma could go to work?”

“Yeah. But you didn’t have a choice. Grandpa had died.”

“True. But you don’t have a choice either. Someone has to watch Bryan, he’s too young to stay home by himself. You don’t want anything to happen to him, do you?”

Maya wrapped her arms around her father’s waist and gave him a loving squeeze. “No.”

“Just act like the cool sister. Show your friends how responsible you are. They’ll be impressed.”

“But he’s so annoying,” she murmured into his suit jacket.

He chuckled. ‘He’s also your little brother. Flesh and blood. We do whatever it takes for flesh and blood, right?”

She sighed and nodded against his chest. She loved the smell of her father. He smelled like sandalwood and gun powder. She lowered her hand and ran her palm over the butt of the revolver in his belt. It brought her a strange sense of comfort knowing her father carried a gun.

“Where’s mom?” Bryan entered the room.

“She at her meeting, bud.” Thomas slipped out of Maya’s embrace and ruffled his son’s hair.

“But … ” he looked from his father to his sister and then back. “Carla is out. Am I going to work with you dad?” He bounced on the ball of his feet, excitement shining in his green eyes.

“Sorry, no. You’re hanging out with Maya,” he said.

“But she’s a girl!” he whined, looking horrified.

“See!” Maya said. “He doesn’t want to hang out with me and my friends either!”

“Look you two,” said Thomas. “We don’t have a choice. Mom is out, Carla is out. There is no one else available. If it’s going to bother you so much, Maya, then stay home. You don’t have to hang out with your friends. Or better yet, invite them here.”

“No. We made plans for the park. We have to go to the park!”

“Oooh, is Damon going to be there?” Bryan sing-songed.

“Who’s Damon?” said Thomas.

“No one!” Maya yelled, reaching out to swat at Bryan but he was too quick for her and dodged her hand.

“Maya, you’re not meeting a boy, are you?”

“No dad. It’s just me and the girls. We need some fresh air. End of discussion.”

Thomas arched a warning brow at her.

Maya crossed her arms and rolled her eyes. “Fine. He can come.”

“But I don’t want to hang out with her! Girls are gross!” Bryan whined.

“Enough!” Thomas yelled. Both the kids jumped at his sharp tone. “I need to go. Leave, stay, I don’t care, but you are not to leave Bryan alone, do you hear me, Maya? If I find out you did, you will be grounded.”

She sighed and nodded. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Thomas softened his tone and took a calming breath. “I’ll make a reservation at our favorite Italian restaurant tonight and then we’ll go out for ice cream later, deal?”

Both kids nodded and he smiled. He bent down, pointed to his cheek and smiled when Maya gave him a quick peck. Bryan hugged him tightly around the waist and hung on as Thomas started to walk away. He laughed. “Get off me,  you monkey.”

Bryan laughed and let go, stumbling backward.

Maya rolled her eyes.

“See you later, kiddos.”

“Bye dad,” they both chorused.

Maya waited for him to leave then turned to Bryan. “You better not embarrass me.”

“You better not embarrass me! I know you’re going to the park to watch Damon’s soccer team practice. I’m not stupid.”

“Whatever brat. Go grab your jacket.”

“I don’t need a jacket.”

“It’s 50 degrees, Bryan. I don’t want to go to the park and then you start complaining about being cold. In fact, I want you to be invisible. Got it?”

“Fine. I’ll bring my invisible cloak then.”

Maya growled. “Get your jacket!” She lunged for him and he dodged her once again.

“Haha! You’ll never catch me, Maya. I’m much faster than you!”

She made to grab at him again but he once again ducked under her arm and raced toward his room.

Maya scowled after him and sent Ava a text. Dad is making me bring Bryan. She walked over to the mudroom and grabbed her green pea coat from the hook. Her phone dinged as she slipped it on.

No worries. I think your little brother is funny.

You wouldn’t think that if you had to live with him.

“Come on slow poke!” Bryan bumped into her as he rushed past.

“Oh my God! You are so annoying!” She yelled after him. She grabbed her cross over bag, made sure she had the door key, her lip gloss and some cinnamon gum before following her little brother out the door.

“Bryan, wait up!” Maya yelled while skipping down the stairs. He was already half a block ahead of her. She reached in her bag and retrieved her lip gloss. She tried to apply it while speed walking after Bryan. She felt nervous. Even though she told her father she was going to the park to hang out with her girlfriends, which was technically correct, she was largely going because Damon was going to be practicing with his soccer team. She had had a crush on Damon for nearly two years and this was the first year he finally noticed her. It was also the year she developed boobs and bought her first bra so maybe he had finally noticed she was becoming a woman.

She pressed her lips together and looked both ways while crossing the street. One block to the park. She could just make Bryan out in front of her. “Bryan!” She yelled.

He spun around and began to run backward while waving at her.

“Slow down!” She could have run after him, but she didn’t want to arrive at the park all hot and sweaty. Though maybe a little sweat would make her t-shirt cling to her newly developed breasts and that would prompt Damon to finally talk to her.

She thought back to the first time she had seen Damon. They had fifth grade class together. He sat to her right, catty-corner from her desk. She had the perfect spot to watch him without him noticing her stare. He was gorgeous. He had hair the color of swirling milk chocolate and light hazel eyes. He had a dimple in his left cheek whenever he smiled. He didn’t smile a lot, but when he did, it took her breath away. He was very quiet that year and stayed mostly to himself. She thought he was mysterious and broody. He never once looked back at her and he never seemed to sense she was drooling over him every day. The only time he actually looked directly at her was when Mr. Shaw asked her a question and she didn’t know the answer. The other kids snickered and whispered but he simply turned around, grinned and said, “don’t sweat it. We can’t always know the answer.” She had been lost from that point forward.

She always made a point of knowing where he was at all times that year. Then in six grade, she had casually asked her friends to find out from his friends what classes he was taking so she could try and get into the same class. She was never able to take a class at the same time as him but she had English right after he did so they nearly always passed each other in the hall that year. He never said a word to her but she always made a point of walking past him every day.

This year, she had been lucky and had Social Studies with him. She sat directly behind him so she could gaze lovingly at his thick, wavy hair. He seemed to be interested in Social Studies and knew a lot of the answers. Because she didn’t want to appear stupid in front of him, she studied extra hard and often competed with him to answer the teacher’s questions. One time, she was asked a tricky question about September 11th, 2001, and when the teacher told her she had the right answer, he turned around, grinned and said, “nice.” She thought she would melt into a puddle on the spot. She carried that memory with her for weeks.

Then, last week, she heard he had tried out and made the soccer team. She immediately signed up to be part of the pep club so she would have an excuse to attend all of his games and cheer him on. She talked her best friend Ava into joining her. Her phone buzzed in her purse. She reached in to read the text: Where are you? Practice is starting and we saved you a seat.

Nearly there, she typed back.

She put her phone back and gave her full attention to the path before her.

Bryan was no where to be seen.

Maya’s heart quivered. “Bryan!” she yelled. “Bryan!” she yelled louder. She broke into a jog straining her eyes in search of her little brother. “If you get lost, mom and dad will never forgive me,” she muttered under her breath.

Continue reading “Maya’s Pre-Story”

Preptober

Less Than One Day to Go!

Are you ready?

Of course you’re not ready – is anyone truly ready for this monster?

I have a few tricks up my sleeve. As mentioned, I will be working on my novel as well as blogging and/or writing short stories to keep the creative juices flowing. I know me, and I know I will get bored out of my skull if I’m ONLY working on one thing at a time. So. I have my handy-dandy index cards close by so when an idea strikes, I can add it to my stack. Ideas usually pop into my head when I’m reading something, or writing something unrelated. (This is how I prep for my podcasts, too. I’ll be watching a video, or reading an article and suddenly, I have an idea to talk about and I write it in my podcast journal. Yes, I have a podcast journal because I’m TRYING to be organized here).

Some last minute tips:

I’m using SmartEdit Writer software for my novel. It’s similar to Scrivener but it’s FREE. I’m loving it so far. Try it out!

Here’s someplace you can host writing sprints – for either you or for a group! Writing sprints really work well if you need a concentrated time period of just writing. I will be trying the Pomodoro Technique – I think that will work well for me. (Remember the short attention span when it comes to writing … but only when it comes to writing – not sure why that is).

Here are some writing prompts if you’re still looking for an idea …

Sixty things for your characters to do

Character flaws … because let’s face it, our darling characters MUST be flawed. Who wants to read about someone perfect??

Don’t have a story theme? Here are some ideas

These are just a few of my resources. I hope they’re helpful to you. Maybe they will spark an idea … or two. Don’t feel like you HAVE to work on just one project – maybe you have several ideas in your head – write them all. It’s perfectly fine to be a NaNoWriMo rebel. Don’t fight your writing process. Embrace it. The important thing is to continue writing, no matter what that looks like.

My plan? *sigh* Who knows. My next writing project is to post Maya’s PRE story. I think it will help me understand what makes her tick if I write THE moment that shaped her personality and her beliefs. I have quite a few scenes written out in my index outline and maybe I’ll get a few more if I write her PRE story.

I still want to blog and I know I simply won’t if I put all of my eggs into my novel basket. I think it’s important, for me at least, to step back and take a breath of fresh air from my novel and shift gears a bit on to something else. Kevin and I are still participating in our podcast every week and I’m working on recording my own podcast each week, not to mention, still trying to read books though now I don’t think I’m going to make my 100 book goal since I will be lucky to read one book a week, let alone two plus a week like I’ve been doing up to this point. (I changed my goal to 90 books – because I’m a wimp).

Oh well.

Anyway. Don’t get too stressed about NaNoWriMo. The project is what you make of it and for me, I simply want to develop a habit of writing on a daily basis again – however that looks for me.

Good luck, Blogfam!

NaNoWriMo2020

Interview with Maya

Hello Blogfam and welcome,

I’d like to introduce Maya Cooper. She’s the main character of my NaNoWriMo project and she has graciously consented to being interviewed for my blog. Please give her a warm welcome.

Me: Hello Maya. *warm smile* Thanks for hanging out with me today.

Maya: Hi. Thanks for having me. *shy smile*

Me: So. You have a starring role in my upcoming story, how do you feel about that?

Maya: Well, *soft laugh*, if you had asked me how I felt before I lived this story, I would have been tongue tied and terrified. But now.. *shrug – pause* let’s just say I’m no longer terrified.

Me: Oh wow. That’s quite a loaded statement. Can you elaborate?

Maya: And spoil the story? Of course not. *chuckle*

Me: Well now I’m intrigued. What happens that changes your perspective?

Maya: What happens? A lot. In fact, I have a bone to pick with you, did you have to put me through so much agony? It was touch and go there for a while. Actually, several times. *she frowns*

Me: *embarrassed chuckle* Well. I couldn’t make it too easy, it wouldn’t have been as interesting to read.

Maya: I suppose.

Me: Okay, well. I’m sorry?

Maya: *chuckles*

Me: By the way, I LOVE your hair. It’s gorgeous.

Maya: Thank you.

Me: I wish my hair was long and thick like yours. Did you French braid it yourself? And I love how you left the pigtails loose at the bottom. Very pretty.

Maya: Thanks. Yeah. I did it myself. When you have waist-length hair, you think of creative ways to get it out of your face. My friend, Ava, taught me how to French braid. In fact, most of the styles you see me wear in the story was created by my friend. The color is growing out though. I need to go back in and touch up my highlights. *self-consciously touches her hair*

Me: And what a gorgeous sweater dress. That dark green looks amazing on you, it really highlights your light green eyes.

Maya: *blushes* Well, thank you.

Me: Where did you get those boots?

Maya: *chuckles* Now you’re just buttering me up.

Me: Is it working? *grin*

Maya: *laughs* Maybe.

Me: So tell us a little something about you.

Maya: *sighs* I’m not sure where to start so I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Me: Always a good place to start.

Maya: *narrows her eyes* Are you making fun of me?

Me: No, no! Sorry. I guess I’m feeling a little embarrassed because I didn’t realize I was so hard on you.

Maya: I nearly died a few times, Karen. Not to mention, what happened to …

Me: Go on.

Maya: *shakes head* No. You’re not going to trick me into telling your audience what happens. That would spoil everything and make my story less “interesting to read,” as you put it.

Me: *blush* Okay. Fair enough. Start at the beginning.

Maya: *takes a breath and looks off into the distance* I was a happy child, for the most part. Mom and dad are still married though after the adventure you put me and my friends through, I don’t know if they will stay married.

Me: Wow. Sounds serious.

Maya: It was. You pretty much destroyed my family … in some ways, but in other ways, you healed it.

Me. Sounds cryptic. Care to elaborate?

Maya: Not at this time, no.

Me: *chuckles* You sound like a politician.

Maya: *shrugs* I’ve learned a lot about being careful what I say and to whom. *smirks*

Me: Sounds like you don’t trust me.

Maya: I don’t. *pointed look*

Me: Ouch. And touché. *nods head* Please continue.

Maya: I had a normal childhood … at least as normal as you can get when your dad is a secret service officer hired to protect the president.

Me: *blinks* As in, the President of the United States?

Maya: That would be the one.

Me: How long did he do that?

Maya: Oh gosh, years. I don’t even know how long. He has protected five presidents over the past 25 years.

Me: Was he ever hurt on the job?

Maya: That’s classified information.

Me: Really?

Maya: *chuckles* No. But it sounds cool.

Me: *grins* What about your mom?

Maya: She’s great. My mom and I are close.

Me: Are you close to your dad?

Maya: *pauses and chews her lip* Not exactly. We sort of had a falling out.

Me: Care to elaborate?

Maya: I’d rather not.  You’ll have to read my story to find out what happened.

Me: Wow. That sounds mysterious. Not to mention, that puts pressure on me to deliver.

Maya: *shrugs* You’re the writer.

Me: Or at least, I like to pretend I’m a writer.

Maya: Are you looking for a compliment?

Me: *grins and shrugs off her comment* Any siblings?

Maya: *long pause* No.

Me: Did you have to think about that? Do you not want to claim a sibling? *laughs*

Maya: *quietly* It’s complicated.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Did … something happen to your siblings? Continue reading “Interview with Maya”

Preptober

Outline Your Novel Using Index Cards

It’s a puzzle, LITERALLY.

Outlining your novel with index cards is a lot of work, but it also makes a lot of sense. When I watched Sarra’s video, a light bulb went off over my head. I went out and bought a pack of index cards with four colors.

Act I is pink, Act II, part one, is light blue, Act II, part two is yellow, and Act III is baby green.

And side note: breaking up Act II into two parts makes a lot of sense to me, as well. As I heard someone describe the middle of your novel once – it’s the creamy, gooey filling of a delicious éclair. That’s certainly a better description than what I typically ascribe to it. *ahem*

Are all of my index cards filled out? Nope. Not even close. But laying the cards out and then writing in my beginning scenes and my ending scenes, at least, my ending as it plays in my head now, that could, and likely will, change as I get closer to the end, and then sticking scenes that pop into my head into the puzzle as they come to me, REALLY helped me. It doesn’t give me an exact view of my story, but it definitely gives me enough to start writing. I will add and change scenes as I write because I don’t like to outline fully, I like my characters to “speak” to me as I write, but I think using this method of outlining will REALLY help me as I go through the process and will likely help me not get AS stuck.

Because I’m not going to pretend I won’t get stuck. I will. And my plan when I get stuck is to move on to another writing project. Whether that’s blogging, journaling, writing short stories, or writing anything, really, and then I can get back to my novel with fresh eyes.

I understand my writing self more now. I get bored. I like to flit from project-to-project. I’m used to never finishing something completely as my day job is never ending and I’m NEVER caught up, it’s just the nature of the beast, so to speak. I am a medical assistant and when you juggle 40+ patients a week, scheduling them for testing, appointments, preparing a short synapsis of why they are coming in and comorbidities for my doctor and mid-level, answering phone calls and returning phone calls, addressing messages from my co-workers about patients, covering for other medical assistants when they’re out and all the miscellaneous work, I’m never caught up. All I can do is stay about 24-hours ahead of the “old” stuff. So I’m used to juggling several things at once and I think that’s why I get bored with one project. I like having several irons in the fire, it’s what I’m used to and I thrive on multi-tasking.

Anyway, I’m excited about this “puzzle” approach to outlining and I’m very thankful to Sarra Cannon for sharing her knowledge with us. This is the first time I’ve approached NaNoWriMo feeling comfortable with my “plan.” Which is what, you ask? I’m going to reach my 50,000 word count working on a variety of projects. I will be a NaNoWriMo Rebel because why not? That’s pretty much how I approach life, I bend rules. I don’t necessarily break the rules, but I definitely bend the rules.

I hope this was as helpful to you as it was to me.

And I hope you’re as ready as you can be for NaNoWriMo because, Blogfam, it’s nearly here!

(Pst – you can find me on the NaNoWriMo website under the username: take2max!)