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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ah, Sweet Victory!

Just a couple of things before I get to the meat of the matter...first, I'm baaaaaaack! And second, did you miss me because I missed writing these little blogs of mine (and ours)! Now, on to the REAL stuff...

I did it! I "completed" my first novel...sort of. Actually, it's more a rough draft of a rough draft but...I achieved my goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days! My victory is sweet.

Really, it wasn't my goal. It's the goal of National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as Nanowrimo which is pronounced just as it looks...nano-wry-mo. (As another author on another blog said it sounds like some crazy greeting Mork from Ork would have used so many years ago.) Nanowrimo comes around every November since 1999. It's goal is simple, to get writers to write. Take the month of November, throw in a novel writing contest on top of Thanksgiving and the beginning of a season of craziness and VOILA you have Nanowrimo.

As many of you know, my friend and blogging partner, Julie Farley, threw down the proverbial gauntlet in October for us to accept Nanowrimo's challenge and run with it. So we did. I don't think I've ever been more nervous than I was when I accepted this challenge. I wasn't this nervous when I paraded my bikinied self around a stage in the middle of a bar waaaay back in the day as I competed in a calendar girl competition. I wasn't this freaked out in the days leading up to the day Stan and I got married. I wasn't this nervous when I brought home a howling, screaming infant and another and another. For some reason this challenge almost brought me to my knees. Maybe it's because it's something I really wanted to do and really didn't want to fail at doing.

The other things I mentioned seemed natural and easy...well, maybe not the swimsuit thing, that was a little push out of my comfort zone. Getting married seemed natural and wonderful and perfect. Having babies and a family is something I knew I wanted with Stan so that was a naturally easy decision, although throwing in the third did throw me for a loop for a while. I knew two of these things were things where I would succeed and if I didn't (ahem, the swimsuit thing again) it would be ok.

I really want to be a writer, so I didn't want to take something so challenging and fail at it. But, if I hadn't taken the challenge I would have failed even more ~ so THANKS Julie for pushing me farther out of my comfort zone than I have ever been pushed before. This past month has been an experience like none I have ever known and one where I learned more than I ever thought I could. Here is some of what I learned...

1. Accepting challenges is daunting but achieving the goal is sweet! Victory is even sweeter when shared ~ both Julie and I achieved our goal!!

2. I learned to push myself a little harder than I have before.

3. Making up stories is FUN.

4. Writing a book is nothing like I thought it would be. My fingers make up stuff before it even pops in my head and then I am astounded at how the story turned! CRAZY!

5. I am more excited now than I was before. I can't wait to see where my story takes me next.

6. I am looking forward to writing more and more and more.

7. I know, now, I can achieve just about anything I set my mind to do! I might not be a famous author but I am, and will continue, having a blast writing.

8. But, who knows, maybe someday I will be a famous author...I can just see my name on the cover of a book or two or three...

9. It's awesome to have such good company in this great big world of writing. I couldn't (or wouldn't) have done it without my friend and partner in writing, Julie.

10. It's been awesome to get the hugs, high fives and kisses from Stan and the kids as I achieved each milestone stone along the way. 10,000, then 15,000, then 20,000 ~ well, you get the idea...

11. I couldn't be happier about the example I just set for my kids. I was given a pretty big goal and I achieved it. I don't think they think of me as just a mom, I think, now, they might think of me as a writer too!

I had a blast this past month and am looking forward to January 2nd which is my next challenge date. Julie, God love her, issued yet another challenge ~ to have our manuscripts ready for the other to read, critique and make better so we can eventually (hopefully) have something to show to a literary agent and maybe even get published. Wouldn't that be something?

Just shortly after Julie and I started working together on Perfect Mamas Confess, I got a fortune cookie that said "Dream lofty dreams and as you dream so you shall become." Well, I'm dreaming my lofty dreams, for the love of my children...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Book Excerpt II

In honor of making it to 25,000 words today, I thought I would post a little more of my book. Again, keep in mind this is a very rough draft. We are supposed to use November only to write not to edit ~ that's for December.

The door opens and I see an enormously fat man enter Becco's He is wheezing and sweaty. His clothes look to be expensive but they are stretched to the limits across his massive girth. A small movement out of the corner of my eye catches my attention. It is Betsy Lynn signaling to this corpulent man. Oh, my God! It's Burwell...he's enormous. I haven't seen him in many years and I don't remember him ever being this, this FAT! What the hell happened??

He struggled to get through the tightly packed restaurant but he finally manages to make it to our table. I stand up to shake his hand but instead I am enveloped in a sweaty, musty, nasty hug. He smells like a mixture of cologne, body odor and rancid garlic. In his embrace was not where I wanted to be. I finally wriggled free from him, but he kept my arms locked in his grip. "Let me get a look at you," he says. I desperately want to squirm away. The sweat across his brow is dripping now and a small patch of drool has developed in the corner of his mouth. I am not sure if he is drooling at the thought of what's on Betsy Lynn's plate or if he was drooling because of the aroma coming out of the kitchen or maybe both. I fiercely hoped I wasn't the cause of the drool at the corner of his mouth.

As I stood there locked in his grip he stepped back to get a better look, he said. He went on to tell me how much I looked like my mother, God rest her soul. He said I had the same bouncy, reddish blond curls she had and the exact same eyes. His eyes roved over me in a most disgusting, lascivious way. I wanted to break free and run but the private investigator in me came out and I put on a brave face. I wanted answers and I thought Burwell might be able to provide me with some. I just had to figure out how to pry the answers out from under the nose of Betsy Lynn without her catching on. I think she's well on her way to drunken stupor so I may be in luck.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Yesterday We Welcomed a New Teenager Into Our House...

Welcome to the teenage years, Lucas. I can't believe how quickly time has gone. It seems to be just yesterday that you were a snuggly, little toddler saying "rock-a-minute," when you needed some loving or putting up your pinky finger to signify that we needed to stay and snuggle in bed with you for just one more minute or until you were safely in dreamland.

Yesterday I looked at you as a young man, no longer a little kid...So today I reminisce about the little Lucas. I would love to sit and watch old videos of you today but time presses on and I don't have the luxury to sit back and watch little you so I relive my favorite videos of you in my head. I see you as you were way back when you were three ~ your wispy, blond hair blowing softly in the breeze and your little voice carrying through the yard. One of my favorite videos of you is when you are climbing in and out of your little car asking and asking and asking for your Uncle Matt to push you. "Uncle Matt, can you push me? Cannyou, cannyou, cannyou?" being repeated over and over and over again as a run-on word until your Dad finally said "Uncle Matt, can you PLEASE go push him?" In my mind's eye I also see the one where Zach comes running into the house, breathless, saying "Mom and Dad you HAVE to come here now, Lucas got the keys to the Skateboard (known to the rest of you as a Ford Escape) and he turned it on." You did love your cars and you would do anything to get behind the wheel of a car. You were a persistent little booger then, whether it was asking repeatedly for rides, rocking in your rocking chair or somehow managing to find hidden car keys. You are still that same persistent booger now...although, you have grown up so much what seems like the past day.

Yesterday you said it was the best birthday ever and not because of the presents you received or the things you got to do but because you are now finally taller than I am! So, on your 13th birthday, we stood back to back and it was confirmed ~ you are indeed taller than I am. Your persistence paid off there tried and tried and tried to be taller than I am. You would stretch and stand on your tiptoes to try and reach your goal. Goal achieved ~ now you are finally taller!

My only wish is that you don't grow up and grow away too fast. I savor every minute with you. I love reliving the memories of you as a toddler, your stories and your life.

A few years ago I made you a book, filled with my favorite pictures of you ~ three year old you in the tub looking like a triceratops with your hair full of shampoo and shaped into horns ~ nine month old you smiling as you sat in a swing in the warm sunshine of a summer day ~ One year old you dressed up as Batman to Zach's Robin. I could go on and on about my favorite pictures of you, my little, blond boy.

In that book I also wrote these words and I hope someday when you are grown and gone you look back on them and know how much you are loved ~ always...

Because of you
I smile so often.
Because of you
my heart has softened.

Because of you
I tickle until away you wiggle.
Because of you
I hear big old giggles.

Because of you
I get up at the crack of dawn.
Because of you
I feel the warmth of a sleepy eyed yawn.

Because of you
I see beauty in the sky above.
Because of you
my heart is full of love.

Because of you
I am happy as can be.
Because of you
I skip with glee.

Because of you
there is happiness in our place.
Because of you
I have a smile that spreads across my face.

Because of you
My heart is complete
Because of you
Life is complete.

Because of you
Love is pure.
Because of you
the life we share is pure.

All of this and more is true
Simply because of you.

I know you welcomed the step into the teenage years, Lucas. And I know you are beyond excited to have grown taller than I am but I hope you don't grow up too fast and that don't ever lose your sweetness, love of life and laughter.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Book excerpt

I'm not sure what my book will be titled yet. Here's a brief synopsis...

Maggie Walker (for all of my Richmond friends...her name is explained in the book) is a young woman who lost her mother to cancer when she was younger. Maggie needs to find answers about her mother, Cece, and her life. As Maggie looks for anwers from her family and her mother's friends she stumbles across volumes and volumes of diaries. The diaries are filled with life stories, rich with history about her mother, her family and Maggie herself.

These are two days from CeCe's diaries. Keep in mind this is an extreme rough draft...

I sit here in awe of the tiny, little miracle I am holding in my arms. Margaret Mary Walker is here today ~ August 11. She weighs in at 7 pounds 11 ounces and she is 21 inches long. William is on his way, bringing Ryan, Bradley and Katie to meet their new sister.

William and I left for the hospital this afternoon and Maggie made her appearance quickly. William scooped her up and true to his word to the kids, he gave her the name they picked out for her ~ Maggie. We sat together, just the three of us, for a little while and just now I sent him on his way to bring the other kiddos to the hospital to meet their new sister.

My parents, brothers and sisters-in-law will be descending on us soon. I asked for a little time with just us before the group grows too big. I can hear the kids trooping down the hall now.


I have tears in my eyes as I write this. The kids are just so sweet. Maggie and I are home now. That feels good to say ~ "Maggie and I." She is beautiful and perfect, with just a sprinkling of freckles. Her hair is soft and downy, blond with a hint of red. I don't know if it will stay that color or not but it's stunning.

She and I are escorted into her nursery and I am stunned by what the kids and William have done....

The walls are a soft buttery yellow with murals on three sides of the room. The murals, I am told, are all painted by the kids. Ryan tells me about the idea behind the mural. The kids want Maggie to know about life in our family. They want her to learn, through, pictures, what it means to be a part of the Walker family. So each of Maggie's siblings have painted their version of our family on the walls. The beauty and simplicity of their drawings stun me into silence. I look closely at each drawing and see that the kids have all painted their version of our family to include being perfect, with Maggie. She is on every wall. I sit in the rocking chair they placed beside the mahogany crib. And I stare at each of them with wonder and awe.

I continue to look around the room and I see the soft, lacy curtain that cover the window. The are billowing ever so gently in the warm, late, summer breeze that has greeted Richmond the past several days. I see the stuffed animals that each of the kids has raided from their own closets to give to Maggie. I see Frog, Tigger and Franklin ~ some of the kids' favorites. I see two sets of initials on the dresser with the open spot on the wall where they will be hung ~ two sets because we didn't know if we would need MMW or BJW. I see the beautiful mobile hanging above the crib with its moons, stars, cows, cats and fiddles. Books line the books shelves near the crib, filled with favorites of years gone by. I see "Goodnight Moon," "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," " Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You," and "Do You Know How Much I Love You?" just to name a few.

It's a whole new world now. Reality is here and her name is Maggie. I can't believe how much the kids have done to prepare for the arrival of their new baby sister. They have given me more than they will ever know. They have given me the knowledge that Maggie will be well loved.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Race to 50,000

As most of you know, I accepted a challenge from my friend and blogging partner, Julie Farley, to compete in National Novel Writing Month ~ also known as NaNoWriMo at

I don't think I've ever been more nervous about accepting a challenge. When Julie threw down the gauntlet on, it took me days to screw up enough courage to respond. I don't think I'm one to shy away from a challenge...I challenged myself to be ready to compete in a half marathon five months after Claire was born and I challenged myself to do it again four years later. Those were two of the best decisions and challenges I've faced.

So, why this one was so hard for me to accept didn't hit me until today...

This is something I really want to do and I don't want to fail. Julie and I met yesterday to give each other encouragement and get our creativity flowing. We decided the way to get moving was to do a writing prompt with each other and this is what I wrote ~ please keep in mind this was written in eight minutes so the structure, grammar and cadence may be "off."

We decided to write about our feelings of being a bit "Lost" as we head into this month of writing a novel...

Right now I feel lost and discombobulated. Julie is giving us ideas for writing prompts ~ from making a list of favorite words to writing about journeys to favorite cities. And every thought ~ every shred of creativity escaped me as she was talking. How the hell am I supposed to write a 50,000 word novel if favorite words don't even come to mind? I love words ~ their meanings ~ their sounds, but right now - at this very minute they are lost. I am lost and need desperately to find myself - find my mojo and my love of words before tomorrow. I don't want to let myself down again. I don't want to lose the creativity that I know is boiling just beneath the surface. I don't want to lose the respect I have built for myself in the past (almost) year as I wrote something almost daily and felt pride in what I wrote. I don't like this feeling of being lost. I need to re-find myself and reacquaint myself with the focus and determination I have tapped into this past 10 months. Being and feeling lost are two different paths ~ the state of actually being lost is harder to deal with, I think, because it means you, or I, are truly lost. The state of feeling lost is where I am right now. I feel lost which is easier to's just a feeling but it's mine and I need to overcome.

I think my feeling of being lost lapped over into my blog which is why you haven't heard from me in the past week or so...nerves took over and I wasn't sure I could do it all.

But overcome I will! Today I wrote over 10,000 words...

Stan and the kids are my four biggest cheerleaders. Stan made a "thermometer" so I can mark off levels of achievement. The first level was 10,000 words ~ I have filled in the bottom of the first goal. Claire was so excited to be able to fill in the bubble for me. Zach and Lucas more than impressed with my word count for the day.

I still feel a little lost and discombobulated but I also feel a tremendous amount of pride in myself for the work I did today. I still have a long way to go, and a short time to get there but I'm on my way. I couldn't have done it without the love of my children and Stan.