Writing: The Art of Romanticizing Life

I’ll be the first to admit that my life is, by no means, glamorous. I am in, in no way, the best at anything. I have many talents but am a master of none, as the saying goes.

But when I tell people stories of my life, they listen. Or they read, because I am a writer and all. I lived a life that was very clumsy, but for that I have stories to tell. I did not live them so that I could make a profit or for the attention. Many of the stories I have to tell about my life, I truly wish I could take back and never live through again.

But why do you even bring them up, if you wished they never happened?

I am who I am today, because of those events. Because of my mistakes. While there is a teeny bit of satisfaction from people being interested in what I have to say, I honestly want people to learn from my life.

How do you get people to listen?

As a writer, stories are told in a way that place people in the moment. I put them there with me in the emergency room in Baghdad, in the concrete shelter of a bunker in Talil, in a helicopter over Mosul, on the seas of the Persian Gulf.  They listen as if they were on the receiving end of the phone call, the bad news, the heartbreak, the fear. Things that they have felt before but claim “I can’t even begin to imagine.”

Oh, but you can. And I will help you.

Writing is taking my day, mundane and routine, giving the details of what would normally go unnoticed, and changing the perspective of the person reading (or listening. I tell a lot of stories, too).

Writers church up the details, regardless of their intent. We make things darker, bolder, sexier, more precious. We put makeup on the pig, and fool them all.

This is kind of embarrassing but I’ll admit to it:

I have a habit of commentating my life as I go through my day. It makes me more conscious of my emotions, easier to control because I imagine people are listening to my thoughts and watching me throughout my day. This exercise also helps me to search out those romantic details of my day, and explore them.

Disclaimer: By romance, I am not referring to any type of relationship with people. I am referring to the ability to make something ordinary or otherwise a footnote and showing it in a light that makes it appear desirable.

Example: I have recently resigned from my job. I will, more or less, be a stay at home mom. For those who live there, they know it’s not as exciting as it sounds. But the writer in me divulges more, because heaven forbid anyone think my life is boring or mundane. I’m quitting my job to write full time and focus on my children. My book is finally finished and I have begun seeking representation. I should be published by the summer of 2018.

See how romantic that sounds? Not once did I mention dirty dishes or poopy diapers. Scrubbing the toilet or folding an endless pile of laundry. My hope was that you would imagine me, in my business casual, typing in my home office while my children play quietly on the floor in their clean day clothes (I just laughed so hard I snorted).

So you, writer, can you “church up” your day to day? Can you paint a sexy picture of your #bedhairdontcare? Can you fool us into believing Beyonce ACTUALLY woke up like that? That is my challenge for you today. Tweet it, FaceBook it, Instagram it.

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#myromanticlife

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Pitch Wars Update- A Writing About Writing

“You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.” -Mary Tyler Moore

Earlier this month I submitted my very first novel to PitchWars (HERE) in hopes of snagging a mentor that will help me shape it into the master piece that I see in my mind. Well, I did not get in. Which is fine. I am actually in the majority and did not take it very hard.

The day after submitting my first ten pages for consideration, I attended a writing conference (which I wrote about HERE). I was able to tweak my in person pitch, tighten my query letter, and found some very GLARING problems within the first few pages of my work and even some throughout.

These are VICTORIES for me. They are not setbacks. I knew I had a lot of work to do, but I also know that it will be worth it to see Apparent Power within a cover and in my hands. My premise sparks interest with agents and now I have to wow them with my hardly more than mediocre writing.

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Though I am so excited about my new book, Apparent Power is my baby and I cannot wait for Valerie’s story to be available to the masses. You can preview it HERE.

So while I balance work, kids, and life, I guess it’s back to late nights in September editing and writing on my lunch break.

If you are a writer and have experienced rejection or are being hard on yourself (its a vicious cycle, we all do it) take a breath and say “I won’t learn if I don’t try. If I fail, I will know why and work to fix it.” You are in control of your emotions. You are in control of your actions. You can be defeated or you can have your beverage of choice, maybe cry a bit if that’s your thing, and then you suck it up and drive on. Your writing goal is not stupid or unrealistic. It takes a special person to keep going, and I think you’re pretty special. Good Luck!

The Condition of the Railroad Wife (But this may also apply to you)…

I talk a lot about Tribe in regards to parenting, wifing, working, writing, etc. It is a very particular group of people that “get” the aspect of your life that is unique to the general population. Of these, I find the railroad wives to be my biggest cheerleaders. An even smaller group (you know who you are because I know you’re reading this), is a handful of women, rough around the edges, that fight like mad to keep their families together in the face of the struggles of being married to a RR.

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What a dummy.. 

I have noticed that on social media there is a small group of ladies that are willing to be brutally honest about their feelings towards their husbands in regards to their profession. If you are not familiar with the dynamics of having a RR for a spouse, you can check these Six Facts (HERE) or this short story (HERE).

There is another group of women that praise every ounce of their husbands being. While I am not apart of this group, I will approach them with sensitivity, as I am sure that a couple of things may be true

  1. They actually found and married that tiny percent of person that has such small trivial flaws and they are genuinely so happy, that they live to make it up to that person for being so perfect.
  2. God tells us to support our husbands 100% as the head of the household. They dare not speak ill of their other half, especially in questionable company.
  3. They simply do not use social media to vent. Period. Fair enough.

Again, I am very much apart of the first group, and they have A LOT to say. The groups I am apart of are a safe place to cry, laugh, ask for advice, or simply just vent about what frustrates us to others that not only understand, but can validate our frustrations. The railroad exasperates every domestic dispute.

There are spouses out there that are perfect, but most are not. I am nowhere near being perfect. But to women, both working or staying home, that fight this unfair battle of equality within the walls of their home. This seems to be a theme of a lot of women I talk to. Smart, educated, strong women. Every person deserves respect but most of all, married people deserve respect for each other. They married forever, and that is far too long to spend feeling unequal, and dependant. It is okay to be financially dependant on someone else, but not to the point where one feels completely helpless without the other.

A lot of times, we are expected to hold things down at home 24/7 while the other person is sleeping in a silent hotel, free of responsibilities, or little people that constantly fight you over the smallest things like putting their shoes on EVERY.SINGLE.MORNING!!! And then, some come home and expect it to continue. Yes, they they brought home the bacon while they slept peacefully in that hotel, but when one has kids, there is no peace. lol

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What I really want to say to you, the one reading this waiting for your RR to come or go, is that you deserve to be happy. You deserve to be happy with your RR. You jumped into this life with them with the intent to get through the hard stuff, and to make each other better people. You deserve to be respected. You are not dumb, useless, horrible, a bitch, or insufferable. You might be a little crazy, because I don’t know one of us that isn’t just a little batty. But getting through this is not beyond the two of you. You just both have to agree to keep working on it, and only give up when you know you’ve reached your limit.

Encourage other RR spouses to join these groups. Please for the love of everything read the pinned posts of the rules and expectations of the page before you post a single thing. All groups are different. Some allow gratuitous cursing, others do not allow it at all.  Find one that suits you and cling to that tribe.

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Lastly, I will leave you with this. Domestic violence is NOT okay. Emotional abuse is NOT okay. My best friend was murdered Christmas Morning 2010 while I was away at war. If you are unsure if you need assistance you can read HERE for Six Facts about domestic violence.

 

I’m just sitting on the fence.

 

 

There has been a lot of fence sitting happening in my life. With it, comes general unrest. I usually pride myself in taking decisive actions with measured outcomes, but it seems that I have found myself in a sort of limbo that I cannot seem to choose my way out of.

I am not a quitter. I am not one to be pushed around or settle for less than a human deserves. So what does one say in the face of promises made when the real work is out of your hands? Sure there are things I can do to influence my situation, to compromise, but I am finding year after year that the compromise only works when the parties involved follow through. I also feel like people trudge the trenches of far worse things and come out alive and maybe happier.

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So now what? I wait. I wait and see, which absolutely tears at my being. I continue my day like everything is fine and well and wait to see if 1. Something changes or 2. I can handle the same cycle of events another year.

Subsequently, my writing will take a back burner so I can focus more closely on things that secretly got out of hand. Maybe I will not even blog until I am able to get out of this funk, as I am not comfortable letting my mind wander further than work and kids.

via Daily Word Prompt 181 “Fence” — All About Writing and more

Six Fact Sunday- Ghost Town Writer’s Retreat

If you follow me anywhere like Twitter (HERE) FaceBook (HERE) or Instagram (HERE), you know that I have spent the weekend at my very first Writer’s Retreat. I met the most amazing group of like minded amateurs, professionals, and experts. Even though it was a horror writer’s deal, writers from across all genres were represented. Lucky for me, most of them are local to Denver and mix in circles that I have recently joined.

Anyway, it’s been awhile since I did a Sunday post, but being new to the world of writing and publishing, I have learned soooo much! And here it is:

  1.  EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO GO TO A CONFERENCE!!! You will find your tribe. If it’s 2 or 200 people, you will find SOMEONE if not most people believe in you and your work because they know what it takes to get there. They know the hours you have put into pouring over you manuscript until you could quote it in your sleep. They know the struggles of networking, pitching, querying. Whatever stage you are in, a lot of them have been there and will cheer you on.

Theses people are so amazing. Writing a book is hard, and getting your book out there is even more difficult. The writing community is one of solidarity. Others recognize that you put in the hard work and wrote to tell the tale. Beautiful hearts, theses folks.

2.   I learned how to scare people with written words. This I am super excited about. I received tips from horror writing superstars, on how to make grown people pee their pants . I also learned that true crime is glamorized in fiction. Most of the books or TV shows you watch that are “based on a true story” are 75% bullshat.

3. I learned how to talk about my book in a way that makes others excited. The biggest compliment I have received all weekend is that they loooove the premise of my story and cannot wait to read it. COMPLETE STRANGERS want to read my story. (I am floored).

4. (On the note of number 3) I learned how to query and how to pitch my book to an agent in person. I also learned how NOT to by one ridiculously famous editor. He, despite correcting my in person pitch, asked me for my manuscript. I almost cried.

5. After MANY changes, I finally hammered down the true genre of my book. It is Speculative/ Crisis Thriller. This is the first time I have felt it’s been properly labeled.

6. I Have A LOT of work to do. To include a mad amount of writing… Like 8-13k more words to actually qualify to be the genre I intend. I am humble enough to accept that my novel needs work. I did not expect to just do one round of edits and be done. I’ve put hard work into it, I won’t give up until it’s finished.

 

Of course, I have learned and experienced much more than those 6 things, but I am mentally exhausted and ready to get back to my kiddos and the mister. I miss them like crazy. So, hopefully I will have a good short and scary for you later this week. But until then…

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Community Helped Me Write Smut

pitchwarsIf you do not recall a couple of months ago, I was having quite the trouble writing a much need s-e-x scene into my novel, Apparent Power. All the tension was there, as was the opportunity, I was just soooo uncomfortable. You can read about it HERE.

I also posted about building my Author Platform, if you need a refresher on that one it can be found HERE. So I created a Twitter Account and started my search for like-minded folks to help me out on this. I accidently stumbled across #pitchwars just as I had finished my first draft of Apparent Power. I quickly found that I had exactly one month to get my ish together to submit my manuscript in hopes of being mentored by experienced authors and writers in my genre.

WHAT A MOTIVATOR!!!

Not only did it stick to my personal timelines of submitting to agents, but it kept me focused to do all the edits needed to make it awesome. I also found that where I was lacking in areas, others were master crafts(wo)men. Not only that but the entire PitchWars community is one of sharing and caring. (Thank you Brenda Drake for fostering an atmosphere of positive self-growth for so many).

I will try to remember EVERYONE that helped me along the way.

Jordyn Jacobs– Thank you for your help with my synopsis

Royce Sears– Fellow Veteran and writer. Cheers brother and good luck! I hope this book is your Merlin!

Rachel Dahl– It was nice to meet you neighbor!!! Thank you for your help, coffee is on me!

K J Harrowick– Thank you for showing a newbie the ropes of ASFF

S M O’Connell– early help with my query and just talking me down off the ledge of the trash can lol

all the mentors, more mentors, the FOUR mentors (you know which mentors you are now)

And lastly Willow!!! Willow talked me into writing the smut. She was so gentle and understanding of my first time. She eased me into it and I found it to not be as scary as I thought. I actually really liked it.. THE WRITING PEOPLE!!! Willow- thank you for sharing your talent with me and encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone to add a few hundred more words to my manuscript.

Run to Twitter #pitchwars to see all the excitement

All that said, I won’t know until the end of August if a mentor picks my story. The odds are against me, but there is still a chance. I am humble enough to know that this opportunity is invaluable. If you see me about on social media, wish me luck!!!

 

Momming

It seems to be the trend with my fellow bloggers today, to talk about the condition of their “Momming” or “Wifing” or “Womaning” in general. Although I do a pretty darn good job at juggling, I am not satisfied with about 40% of what makes me, Me. Please walk with me, I’m sure you’ll recognize the scenery.

  1. I’m a working mom. I work full time and it makes me feel like a jerk to my kids and husband. But once I tried being a stay at home mom, and I hated it. Part-Time is not an option, as my husband’s job on the rail, though it makes very good money, is inconsistent. We were once furloughed (a temporary lay-off) for almost a year. The grass is always greener, but it often makes me unsettled. I am a hyper-performer at work and feel validated by the product I am able to present. But I get home and my sitter has put a hairband in my teeny baby daughters hair. I am thankful but it broke my heart that her mama wasn’t the first person to do her hair. Or when my son says or does something amazing and new or learns a new joke, my husband will say “Oh I taught him that.” or “He’s been doing that for a while.”
  2. Working 5 days a week, I feel guilty for wanting to be alone because I have been away from my family for so long. But my sanity is worn so thin. I get resentful of my husband who will take a train to another state and sit in a hotel for a day, IN SILENCE! With no responsibility, no one to clean up after or cook for or feed. I have been begging for this since before Mother’s Day. Just a day off. But then for all the reasons of #1, I take both kids out somewhere by myself so that my mister can get some sleep.
  3. I am fat. I’m so damn fat. I am not attracted to me and it makes me unhappy. I’m going to leave it at that. I have lost weight in the past but baby #2 and my aging metabolism has changed and now I must as well to get this under control. That’s all I’ll say about the subject.
  4. MY HOUSE IS ALWAYS FREAKING DIRTY!!! I cannot stand it. My freaking dog cannot hold his pee, my base boards haven’t been touched in over a year I am sure, and I could bake a cake with the amount of dust is on my ceiling fan. But Working 5 days a week away from my family, the last thing I want to do is ignore them to address these things.

But then there are the things I love about my life

5. My husband does his share of chores, and watching of children. He stays home and cleans, does dishes and laundry and doesn’t complain about playing all day with our babies. I am extremely fortunate to have this man.

6. I have a hobby that I love and have the opportunity to escape to this writing world pretty regularly, if not daily.

7. I have good, easy kids that I don’t feel ashamed for finding a sitter for. My son is so sweet and loving. He is still learning to navigate social interactions with peers, but he has learned so much and come so far. Just this morning, although I desperately needed to sleep in, he woke up and came to my room to snuggle. I could not pass up the opportunity. My daughter’s face when I come home from work is probably the single most rewarding thing I have ever experienced in my life.

8. I have an awesome steady job that pays well for what I do. I have my own office and a lunch break that I can spend with readers. My benefits are awesome and I truly believe in the organization I work for. They do amazing things and create honest miracles for the people in our community. I’m humbled daily by the strength and diligence of the people I work with.

9. I like me. I really do. I think I am funny, and fair, and just, and nice. I would want to be my friend. I have big strong feelings and am passionate about the people in my life. I am cannot stay angry for too long. I absolutely have to work things out in order to get back to the happy me that I am. Even if that means telling hard truths, but only in constructive ways. Even though what I see in the mirror is not how I feel inside, at least my insides are pretty.

10. I can say that I have made the most of every opportunity that I have ever been handed. This is in regards to ever aspect of my life. I never let the horrible, terrible things that I have seen and experienced get me down. I might cry with my head up, but I have never stopped moving forward to better myself for me and my family.

 

So all that being said, I will leave you with this. Last night I attended a comedy show put on by a couple of Nebraskan ladies who are hilarious. It was a late night show an hour away. I had planned the trip, bought the tickets, and I drove to and from the venue. Stone.Sober. All I could think about was how cute all these skinny moms looked, how tired I would be for work, and how much more funny it would have been if I had maybe even one glass of wine. Instead I felt awkward, uncomfortable, and wanted no more than to be home with my two booger factories. But there were somethings that I needed to hear last night. I needed to know that other women had my back. The two ladies that came with me did not drink either out of solidarity. My sitter(s) who are my dear good friends at work had unloaded my dishwasher and washed all the baby bottles (a task the husband and I both hate.. Dr Brown’s bottles are completely  impractical to wash). I was floored. The woman who usually watches my kids while I work, was on vacation this week and took it upon herself to find a back up rather than leaving me to figure it out on my own. I could go on and on and on. (Happy Birthday, Swamp Witch). My network of help is endless even though I live an hour and a half from family and moved to Denver three years ago knowing absolutely no one.

Women really do have each other’s backs. All my railroad wives stick together. No one “gets it” but us. All my Veteran friends stick together. No one “gets it” but us. Moms stick together. No one “gets it” but us. So find your tribe and hold on. It will save you. 😉