Thursday, October 28, 2010

Am I Awake or Am I Dreaming?

“Am I awake or am I dreaming?” The first time I had to ask myself this question was in 1983. I was almost six years old. There was nothing out of the ordinary except that I was awakened from my sleep to the sound of someone yelling for help. I laid there in my bed wondering, am I awake or am I dreaming? The call for help didn’t go away, it got closer. I got out of bed and pulled the curtains to the side and that’s when I saw her; a girl in a long white dress with long black hair running down the sidewalk while looking behind her calling for help. She was being chased, but by what, I’ll never know. Before she faded away, she looked up at my window, into what felt like my eyes, and asked me for help. I’ve never seen her again. Later research led me to believe I saw a White Lady ghost which has been known to be a Harbinger, bearer of an omen.

Six months later I had to ask myself, “Am I alive or am I dead?” We rented an old house when my family moved to Ely, Nevada, an old mining town, for a short time for my dad’s job. One morning, not long after we arrived, my dad woke up for work to the furnace blowing black soot through every vent in the house. Since we moved there in the dead of winter, the furnace had been going on and off all night. Panicked, my dad ran around the house waking all of us up to get us out of there. We were all covered in black soot. We weren’t sure how long we had been lying there breathing it in but the curtains and walls were blackened when we woke up. We spent a week throwing up after that, lucky to be alive.

It didn’t take long for me to ask myself if I was awake or if I was dreaming again. This time I wasn’t the only one seeing ghosts, both my sister and I constantly heard, felt, or saw something unexplainable going on there in that rental in Nevada. One night I woke up and thought I heard my sister playing music on her clock radio. I didn’t want my parents to get up and yell at us so I went next door to her room and said, “Turn it off! You’re going to wake mom and dad up!” She wasn’t awake though and never heard me. I stood there listening to the radio changing stations by its self. I ran back to my room and hid, asking myself, “I am awake or am I dreaming,” over and over.

We moved back to our home in Utah after only six months in Nevada. Whatever was going on didn’t stay there, but then, it didn’t start there either. It was 1987 and I was ten when I found myself asking, “Am I alive or am I dead,” once again. We lived in a split entry level home where the front door opened to a set of stairs that went both upstairs and downstairs. Upstairs from the front door was the doorway leading to the kitchen where the kitchen sink was located. That’s where I was standing doing the dishes with my Walkman turned up practically all the way to Motley Crue. On this particular day I was annoyed that my mom kept bothering me while she was going around the house cleaning, forcing me to turn my music down, and ask, “What?” repeatedly. I decided to just crank the volume and ignore her the next time she said anything since I only had a few pieces of silverware left to wash. Just like I thought, my mom started calling my name, “Patty. . .Patty. . .PATTY!!!!” I dropped the silverware, left the water running, turned around, and yelled, “WHAT!?” at the top of my lungs at the same exact moment lightning struck our front door. I went blind momentarily and our television was blown out. The damage to our house wasn’t nearly as bad as the house behind us whose carpet caught fire when that bolt of lightning went through the swamp cooler onto their roof. Little did I know, my mom had been on her way upstairs with a basket of laundry when she heard me yell, “WHAT!?” She asked me why I did that and I said, “Because you were yelling at me.” She said, “No I wasn’t.” I’m lucky to be alive. If I had spent another second washing that silverware under the running water, I would’ve been electrocuted. My mom and sister both talk about that moment to this day, wondering who alerted me.

My ghost stories continue throughout my life but I didn’t start seeing full bodied apparitions until 2001. In 2002, my daughter was born with kidney problems that required two surgeries. It was 2004 and my daughter was scheduled for her second surgery, a stressful time in our house. I dreamt one night that my neighbor from across the street came over and said, “Someone died in the bedroom upstairs.” It woke me from my sleep. When my eyes opened there was a little girl standing at the foot of my bed. She seemed real. She had short brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a dress that might have been a school uniform but not from this era. When she didn’t go away I shut my eyes and rolled over seeking comfort from my sleeping husband. One week later, my neighbor came over to check on my daughter’s health and while she was there she said, “Did you know someone died in the room upstairs?” I tried not to panic. I asked for the details. She said the previous owner’s mother died up there. I ran into the previous owner at the store one day and asked her about it. She became defensive, saying her mom died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and not in the house.

So, I ask you, have I been awake or have I been dreaming? Am I alive or am I dead?

Have a ghost story of your own?  Join our Boo-Fest using our linky tool below this post above our comments:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Haunted House 2010

Continued from First You Need a Plan.

I'm happy to say that the haunted house was a giant success this year and not because of the turnout, although 150 people isn't a bad turnout, but because of how many families contributed in one way or another.

We started construction at 10am and didn't stop working until after 8pm on Friday.  Then we got up and started working at 9am on Saturday and didn't stop until shortly after 3pm, which was just long enough for me to get all dressed up and put my makeup on.  We came out at 6pm and already had families outside wanting to get in. 

The doors officially opened to families of the construction crew at 6:30pm and then to the public at 7pm.  We shut it down after 9:30pm. 

On the inside we had 9 people scaring, two of which were rotating and two teenagers running the entrance and the exit. 

I would have to say of all the 4 years we've been putting this event on in our cul-de-sac, this year had the least amount of drama and/or conflict. 

Actually the only real issue I had was getting the video embeded at the bottom of this post. 

I tried to upload through YouTube but they stripped the music so I've since gone through Facebook (otherwise this post would've been up on Monday.  All well, minor issue).  I'll let the slideshow speak for itself. 

P.S. Speaking of haunted things:  IT'S ALMOST TIME FOR THE BOO-FEST ON OCTOBER 28TH.  SIGN UP IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY. We want to know your real life ghost story, or a ghost story of someone you know.  Click HERE and use our linky tool at the bottom of the post before the comments.

Okay, so I got rid of the Facebook one and added the YouTube one, but there is no sound as of yet. *Darn YouTube, shaking head*

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Didn't Win...But I Brought Home the Silver!!!

All the way to the finish line, I thought for sure I had this in the bag. When Michael crossed the finish line at 6:43pm with 21,068 words after only 8 days, I was shocked and not because it had only been 8 days but because I was certain I was going to cross first. After all, I got up before 6am this morning and pounded out 400 words before I got the kids up for school. After I tested out all the haunted house equipment, installed batteries and made dummies, I jumped right back on and pounded out more than 1,000 words. Then after Karate for the boys, I was at it again until my husband finally tore me away for dinner at 6pm. He can take me away from my laptop but he can't force me to leave my notepad and pencil behind. I shoveled down food at my sister's house and then grabbed my notepad and started writing feverishly. I left my sister's house and got back home right in time to see Michael cross the finish line. At 6:43pm I was only 1,507 words away from the finish. I finally crossed the finish line with 21,283 words at 9:46pm.

What a fun event. I'm so thankful to erica and christy for hosting such a fun event and for Michael for being such a fierce competitor. He made it all that more fun.

The last 8 days of pounding out words have not been easy mentally nor physically. Aside from the fact that my candy bucket is nearly empty now (aside from the lollipops) I also have a cramp in my right hand, and a twitch in my left bicep. The cramping and twitching really set in yesterday after breakfast. I'm suffering from so much fatigue in the arms that I've got a mark from where my arms have been resting on the edge of my keyboard instead of in the proper position. Other things I noticed included getting overly anxious to the point of frustration because I didn't want to drop any of the story forming in my head. James would try to talk to me and I would snap because I was mid-thought. By last night, I was so sure I had this thing beat and could finish today that my heart was racing and I started to feel like I was on a 5-hour energy drink like the ones you get at the gas station. At one point, last night, I couldn't stop rubbing my hands over my face and hair. James literally stopped me and asked me if I thought I was going to be all right.

I'm looking forward to a 10-day break from writing before NaNo begins.

In the end, I won a fancy silver medal for my blog and a T-shirt.

This just went to show me that there are people out there much faster at creating story than me and I'm about to encounter some of them during NaNo.

Stay tuned for my next post about my upcoming 16-hour NaNo writing event on November 6th, hosted by my husband for me and my NaNo writing group. 
Until then, I will be trying to go to sleep so I can get up bright and early tomorrow to start building the haunted house for Saturday night's event.  Pictures and posting to follow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hell Week and A Thank You or Two

I don't have just one Hell Week in my life I have a few.  They come around the kids' birthdays (planning parties for the masses can be Hell), Holidays (The big Easter Egg Hunt in the cul-de-sac, Haunted House, Santa in the cul-de-sac for Christmas Eve...that reminds me I have to go order him.  I'll be right back.  Okay, I'm back.  Santa is in the process of being ordered.  Check out if you want to order one for your Xmas party) and triathlons. 

However, just because it is my Hell week, not everything about these types of weeks are hellish.  For instance, I received my 2nd and 3rd blog awards from three really great bloggers:  Quinn at Seeing. . .dreaming. . .writing  was the first to send me such a sweet award and then today I was surprised to find myself award by the leaders of the Writing Half Marathon I have been participating in; erica and christy.

Look at it!  Just look at it!  It looks good enough to eat! 

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

I am supposed to send this sweet award onto a few other sweet blogging friends and I promise I will as soon as Hell Week is over.  I want to avoid giving awards on this sweet and sour posting. 

I spent Sunday night sending out updated emails to remind my 11 families of donators what they offered to donate and gave them the days of the week to bring their items.  Last night, I spent some time going over the plans with my husband so we could map out where animated decor and dummies are going to be located and then we tried to pin point exactly where all the scarers are going to be arranged.  Friday we handed out 100 invitations at the school and it didn't seem hardly enough now that the word has spread about our annual event.  Unfortunately, not everyone gets an invitation every year because we couldn't possibly accomodate the whole school of 750 kids.  However, some won't show and others will bring their friends along.  It will be interesting to see the turnout this year.

Still lots to do before construction begins on Friday.  My mom is flying out from Utah tomorrow to help with the kids during this event, and we need to start stuffing dummies, putting batteries in animated decor, and wait until Thursday night to figure out what loose ends need to be picked up that might have been overlooked on the donation list.  Once this ball is in motion there is no stopping it.

To top it off, I've been participating in erica and christy's Writing Half Marathon and I had no idea how fierce the competition was going to be.  It's an excellent indication of what NaNoWriMo is going to be like for me.  I started out thinking 1,200 to 1,500 words per day was going to be enough to keep me near the top in points but I was wrong.  Sunday night I turned in nearly 5,000 words for all of the weekend and it still wasn't enough to make me the points leader.  I turned in over 1,700 words around 7pm last night and thought I should get some sleep early but I couldn't get my rapidly forming story out of my head so I got up and pounded out another 2,285 words which I submitted this morning.  I think I might be the points leader for the moment, but it's day to day in these types of competitions.  I am driven now, thanks to the competition, but also because I started worrying that I wasn't averaging NaNo's speed which is 1,666 words per day.

All in all, if you don't hear from me in comments or new posts for the remainder of this week then just know that I'm either under a pile of haunted house decorations or tucked away pounding out as many words as I can for this competition. 

Tell me, do you have a Hell Week or two in your life and when do they appear?  Any advice on getting through these types of weeks with less stress?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What to Do With the Conflict I Planned On, Part 4

Continued from How to Plan for Conflict, Part 3

Hypothetical reflection:

I planned on more things going wrong, but I never expected this.  I stood there at the entrance of the haunted house in my demonic roller derby biotch outfit complete with bleeding wounds to the arms, face, and neck, looking out at a what was far more than two hundred people waiting to get into our 400-square foot house.  When we were building the house, 400-square feet seemed pretty big for a little cul-de-sac event, now I wasn't so sure. 

"How many people would you say that is?" I asked my husband, James. 

"Well, considering the line goes to the end of the road, around the corner, and halfway down the other street, I'm going to guess upwards around five hundred people.  Could be more by now," he said adjusting his DJ Lance wig and glasses. 

"James!  We're going to be in there all night!" I said, slipping in my Sketcher roller skates and eating shit on the pavement. 

"Christ!  Are you okay?"  I wasn't mortally wounded but now I couldn't tell the difference between the real blood and the fake blood.  I thought back to the previous year with only maybe one hundred and fifty guests.  Me, James, my sister and her husband were inside the hot little house for two hours without a break.  Although we had people bringing lemonade in for us as they went through, we were desperate for some fresh air.  Five hundred or more?  I wasn't sure it could be done before midnight.  That meant five hours in there. 

Once we got going, I calmed down and the bleeding in my knee stopped, for sure, I think.  The first one hundred people came and went quickly.  The food table items went fast but we still had a lot of candy that we were handing out inside and that seemed to keep everyone at bay. 

It was the sudden scream echoing through the haunted house that nearly took me to the ground again.  Sure there were screams in the haunted house, but this one was different.  I rolled through the darkness into the strobe light room to see what was going on.  I felt like screaming for a minute when a figure seemed to be walking straight through the wall.  "What the hell?" I thought.  The strobe was screwing up my sight and making me feel unsteady but I managed to make it over there around the same time James did.  James' familiar bellowing laugh led me to believe whatever was going on at the end of the room was something ridiculous in nature.  Sure enough, one of the many kids running arond the outside managed to run straight through the wall. 

At first, I thought this was going to be a catastrophe of monumental porportions, but one of my neighbor's who dressed up as Carrie (blood and all) came to the rescue.  She covered the opening and actually turned it into another scare spot.  Believe me, it was scary seeing bloody Carrie coming through the exterior wall under the strobe light. 

And if I had more time to chat, I would tell you all about what happened when the cops showed up and asked for a permit. 

In real life we do whatever we can to avoid conflict.  We don't want to wake up late, have a kid miss the school bus, get in a car accident on the way to work, or forget to pick up one or more of the kids on a minimum day at school.  We try to plan for that kind of conflict and then avoid it.

In book writing, we have to plan for conflict and make it happen.  Some of us writers (I read a lot of blogs so I know it's not just me) tend to make notes (mental/paper, what's the difference?) of character traits and characteristics.  But have you thought about making notes of potential conflict so you can add it into your story later at some point.  Some of us have enough conflict going on around us that it's easy to write up a notepad full of ideas, others of us need to go out and find it.  Here are a few good places to get real life conflict:
  • Listen better to what your friends, family, neighbors are telling you about the drama in their lives.
  • Public places like the park, coffee shop, anywhere people congregate and can't help but be overheard.
  • Reality television.
  • Jerry Springer or any of the like.
  • Read the news more.
  • Pick up a couple of tabloids every now and then (watch for copyright infringement, just get an idea of types of conflict, don't rip any off.  Same goes for all of these).
  • If you are planning anything think of all the things you hope WON'T happen and then make that a point of conflict in your notepad.

How do you come up with conflict?  What kinds of things inspire your conflict?  If you could add to my list, what would it be?  (Here's hoping that I don't run into any of the types of conflict I mentioned above during the actual haunted house.)

Thank you for following this series of posts.  This year's haunted house is October 23rd.  I will follow-up with pics and story for all.

Framing it up 2009.

The black light room is always a hit.

Construction crew 2009.

Tear down 2009.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to Plan for Conflict, Part 3

Continued from Now That You've Got a Plan, Part 2

Let’s just say, it’s the morning of and I can’t wait to start building the haunted house. The invitations went out the week before and even if no one comes outside of our cul-de-sac and the “straight street”, we’ll still have a turnout of more than thirty kids and over twenty adults. Basing it on last year’s turnout of more than 100 people with more than 50 of those being children, we have planned for approximately 200 guests.

Luckily, the skies are blue and the wind is calm with minimal heat. The frame is up, the butcher paper walls stapled & secured, the roof tarp in place, the painting was fun and the decorations all placed and in working order.

The next day, the final touches are placed and I was even able to feed my family a stress-free dinner before we put the kids’ costumes on. I had no problem with the elaborate makeup my costume required and when we turned on all the electronics, they all worked. The food and drink were set up and everyone waited for the first guest to arrive.

Just like imagined, all guests arrived and waited their turn in line to enter the haunted house, no questions asked. It’s worth the wait though, because we take pictures of each family at the scariest spot and then give them a card on the way out telling them where at Snapfish they can view or purchase their pics. Everyone is happy.

The next day, the haunted house comes down quickly and the frame gets stored for next year.

It’s just that easy. . .or, is it?

I don't know about you but when I first come up with an idea it always plays out like this in my mind.  But then reality sets in and when it does, it brings conflict with it.

So, with your NaNo story, you have kind of an idea of where you are starting and where you are finishing, but have you planned on any conflict?

Sure, you can’t possibly plan on all the conflict. With the haunted house I feel prepared for whatever may occur based on previous year’s experiences but there is no possible way I will be able to plan for everything. That’s okay, that’s precisely what makes the process of putting on an event of this magnitude interesting. It will also be precisely what makes the process of writing your NaNo book that much more fun to do.

What can I plan on then?

Day Before:
  • Potentially having to start putting up the frame without any one but my husband, my sister, and my mom (this will become frustrating to my husband who will wish for some strong arms).
  • Broken electronic decorations, (I can fill in with homemade dummies with masks).
  • Having to decorate rooms previously dibbed by volunteers (I’ve got plenty of d├ęcor and can make it work).
  • The flu. (I could get sick right before, or the kids could, and there are enough volunteers to make it work anyway).
  • The weather. (It could rain, and then we would find ourselves running out to buy more tarps to cover the paper exterior. The wind could blow too hard and start tearing the paper walls. But we could create a wind block of sorts and have extra tape and staples handy.)
  • Power Struggles. (We can’t always get along. We’re neighbors and just like family, we can’t pick’em. Must deal and forge ahead.)
Day of:
  • Electronics not working (make do)
  • Running late to get ready in full costume (it will be dark, it’s okay)
  • Injuries (We keep first aid handy and pray to god no one really gets terribly hurt running around.)
  • Fire (we don’t use open flames and keep a fire extinguisher at the entry and exit)
  • Camera doesn’t work (then no one gets their pics this year, that’s okay)
  • Scared kids: (That’s what we’re here for but for some reason some of the parents don’t get that. We just laugh it off and ignore it at best.)
  • Weather, weather, weather.
Day after:
  • Broken items that were donated (that’s why we specify donate at your own risk)
  • Hard feelings (Maybe someone said or did something to tick someone off over the last two days. We eventually get over it. We’re neighbors and have to grin and bear it for the kids.)
  • Damage the trailer with the wood (we use our toy hauler to transport the frames to and from storage. We could damage a cupboard or tear a curtain in the process but we will eventually get over it. Planning on this makes us more cautious.)

Stay tuned tomorrow for how a conflict filled haunted house turns out, (What To Do With The Conflict I Planned On, Part 4)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Now That You've Got a Plan - Part 2

Continued from First, You Need a Plan.

So, you have a plan and it resembles some kind of maze that will turn out to be a haunted house. 

What's next?

Well the plan happened in August, but what happens next starts in September.  Inventory & Resources.  Or, if we're still comparing building a haunted house to writing a book (we'll make it a NaNo book, 'tis the season), then we'll call it:

Inventory & Resources/Plot Points & Characters

If this is your first year building the haunted house (writing a NaNo book) then you might think you have very little resources and absolutely no inventory.  If this is one of many haunted houses/books then you have spent the last year creating a better idea of how to organize your stuff and pull from resources such as neighbors (or for character building you have probably made notes of how random people behave, look, act, speak, what they wear, cool names to use, etc.).  For the haunted house, you probably made note of all of the decorations at other people's houses in the neighborhood last year and kept notes (mental/paper, what's the difference?) to ask them if they would be interested in contributing them to your annual haunted house, they will say yes, because they love the annual haunted house and want to participate.

Now, you have some inventory (new decorations that you didn't have to buy or new character traits that you didn't need to invent) and you have resources (new characters or more people who want to help build, decorate, scare, donate, or breakdown).


It's time to put that inventory and those resources/plot points and characters to work.  At the end of September, I send out a mass email to everyone and anyone who mentioned wanting to help with this year's haunted house, it's a virtual meeting of sorts.  This email is broken down into categories: Day Before, Day of, Day After.  Inside my categories I use a constant theme, Time and/or Resources.  We stay away from asking for money because it's scarce and we're in a Recession.  It's better if we band together, use what we have, give our time, and pick up a couple of loose ends like cob webs which need to be purchased every year.

Plotting your NaNo book is somewhat silmilar to plotting a haunted house in that we start with an idea that requires several steps to accomplish the actual house.  Your book will require plot points though that will dig into the story and turn it in different directions.  The plot points in the haunted house are based on what he have planned for each room or section as the kids walk through.  We're hoping when they hit the black light room they'll want to move forward to see what's next and that when they get to the strobe light room they'll want to find the nearest exit, but in order to do so they would have to move on to whatever lies ahead.  For a successful haunted house we at least name these rooms to get an idea of what's going in them.


Just like in a book, it takes a lot of people/characters to pull off a haunted house even if there are primary people seemingly running the show like the MC.  It's important to know all about the main characters driving the project/book, but it's equally important to know the supporting cast.  Here's how I keep it in order for both books and haunted houses:  I use a 10 cent notepad and write down names of people/characters and what their function is going to be and when.  Some characters want to be in charge of the food table (little kids get hungry and thirsty on this night and most of the mom's like to use this opportunity to make fun Halloween finger foods for the masses.  This is a bigger job than most would think.), other characters want to create a haunted room of their own using their own decorations (love these ones), some of the characters will be more than happy to provide the candy being handed out by the scarers inside the house, and some will be there the day after to help take it all down and clean it all up.  Regardless, they are all colorful characters essential to each part of the process. 

However, not every character/volunteer will show up at the same exact time.  For the haunted house we start early on a Friday and don't stop until well after dark the first night.  This is the first third of the book/haunted house.  A lot can go on during this time.  Two-thirds into the building/story we have another set of people showing up to finish whatever couldn't be done the first day.  The last part of the second half is where everything starts getting crazy.  The elecronics need to be turned on, the scarers need to get ready, the food put out and the show put on.  The last day is the end.  We wrap it up, but it still takes a lot of characters to break it down and make it magically disappear until next year.

This year it will take 21-adults, 1-Grandma, and 1-teenager to put on a 400-square foot haunted house that will take 2-days to build and 1-day to breakdown for 3-hours of haunting the week before Halloween.  (Not too different than the amount of work it takes to write and publish a book for a speed reader to get through in two days or less, but it's worth it, right?)

This is just an indication of why it can be useful to have a plan and keep it somewhat organized.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 3 - (How To Plan For Conflict).

Monday, October 11, 2010

First, You Need a Plan

October is great around my neck of the woods.  Every year I can't wait to get the decorations out, make the haunted cookie house, dip apples into blazing hot carmel, cook pine nuts in the oven, and run around at night leaving BOO treats on unsuspecting neighbor's porches after we've rang the doorbell a few times.

But mostly I enjoy building a haunted house in th middle of the cul-de-sac I live in.  Have you ever put together a haunted house, haunted garage, or haunted yard? 

Here's how we do it:  First, we start with a plan.  I bet you thought this would be a post about outlines, I fooled ya, now where's my treat?  I'll let you off just this once.

Around August, my husband and I sit down and start planning the annual haunted house.  Now this is a freestanding unit varying in size but generally around 400 square feet.  I start by drawing a square onto a sheet of paper and then with my husbands help, we start drawing the lines that will turn the square into a maze.

From paper to Excel and then into a Word doc. and out comes:

Our annual haunted house will be the theme of this week's posts.  Check back tomorrow to see where to go from here (Now That You've Got a Plan).

But, since this is a blog about writing I must know, to outline or to write from the hip?  I wrote my first two books without a detailed outline and thought I should have definitely done the outline.  But maybe it was just the type of story I was writing that needed the outline.  Right now I'm writing off the cuff, so to speak, and having no problems whatsoever.  However, I am doing NaNo and decided if any time was a good time to work on outlining it would be for NaNo.  Now that my NaNo outline is done I am losing the interest I once had in the story.

So, here's the question, have you ever lost interest in a story after you've outlined it?  Will the interest come back once I start writing?  (Looks like I managed to squeeze in outlining.  Good thing you didn't give me that candy after all.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Seen Any Ghosts Lately?

Seen any ghosts lately or know anyone who has?

Quinn at seeing, dreaming . . .writing, and I have been relating over our own personal ghost sightings and wondered how many of you have seen or heard that which lies beyond the grave.

That means it’s time for a Boo-Fest. We want to read about your personal ghost experiences or the experiences of someone you know personally.

To join, sign up with our Linky Tool (below), grab our nifty button over there on my sidebar, SPREAD THE WORD, and start writing.

Make your haunted posting on October 28th so everyone can read about your experiences with the afterlife.

As always, it’s never too late to join a blogfest. Sign up here or at Quinn's blog between now and October 28th to join in the fun!

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Very First Blogging Award!

Alison Stevens over at Wistful Wanderings just sent me my very first blogging award, One Lovely Blog Award.

Isn't it lovely?  It's shiny and new and I am about to add it to my sidebar proudly.  My whole day has been made.  I am smiling ear to ear.  Oh, what, you just cut me off on the freeway?  No problem.  I just got a blogging award.  I can't even hear my kids fighting because I just got a blogging award.  Not just any blogging award, but my first blogging award ever!

Now, instead of my husband coming home from a long days work to a tired wife who has been shuffling kids back and forth to school and piano lessons, while making sure the homework is done and the dinner is made, he gets a happy go-lucky recently awarded wife.  Thank you, Alison!

Okay, so now it's time to pay it forward.  Here are fifteen blogs I believe deserve the One Lovely Blog Award.
  1. Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty!
  2. Margo Kelly at Margo Kelly
  3. Debbie Curran at Words 'n' Whimsy
  4. Heather Kelly at Edited to Within an Inch of My Life
  5. Tina Laurel Lee at Watch Me Practice
  6. Jessica Stanford at Girl, Unpublished
  7. Kelly Polark at Kelly Polark
  8. Jo Schaffer at Shoveling in a Jo Storm
  9. Margie G. at Spin Me Write Round
  10. Melissa at Through the Looking Glass
  11. Lola Sharp at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword
  12. Brian at The Urban Cowboy
  13. Carol & Stacy at Intentional Conscious Parenting
  14. Angela Pena Dahle at A Pen in Neverland
  15. Gabriela Lessa at An Aspiring Writer's World
Each of the blogs I've chosen have helped me in one way or another through inspiration, cheering me on, making me laugh, teaching me something I didn't think of, or just simply having fun reads when I deserpately need one on any given day.

Thank you Alison Stevens for my award and thank you fellow bloggers who inspire me with your posts.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I Sat Down to Write the Other Day...

Thank you Rachael Harrie for the Crusade.

I sat down to write the other day when my doorbell rang. Something inside me was telling me not to answer it but just last week the neighbor’s kid drank a toxic amount of cough syrup and so what if it was an emergency? I thought to myself.

“Hey Jim, what’s up?” I asked but really didn’t care because if I took in his story with more than a blank stare I was going to lose that little bit of story I created right before I sat down to write.

“The flu must be going around because J.T. and Lila are both throwing up at my house. Hey, do you have a flat head screwdriver I can borrow?” He just stood there un-phased by what he just said.

Ugh! Seriously? Why? Why would anyone in their right mind come over to tell me their kids were barfing? I didn’t want to, but I let him follow me to the garage where he got the screwdriver he was supposedly looking for. I still think he was of the philosophy that when the flu was out he must spread it around so the whole neighborhood could be done and over it at the same time. But what if I could fend it off for a couple of days and then hear about the flu in passing from someone else who heard that Jim’s kids were home sick? At least then I would have time to process the info and prepare myself for disease to hit my household of five. I know, I know, it’s the flu and I have three kids and live in a neighborhood with thirty kids between the ages of two and ten; I’m bound to get the flu regardless. Still, this just threw my whole day off.

Now psychosomatically affected by the flu, I sat back down to my computer with a can of 7up and a bowl of crackers. Now where was I with my story? I thought, reading back through my WIP.

My writing goal for the day was 1700 words, a lofty goal, but November first wasn’t far away and I needed to practice for NaNoWriMo. The writing was going quite well. I was actually more excited about this practice writing project than the idea I had for NaNo but then it was already 11:15am and I only had five minutes left before I had to pick up my kindergartner from school. I hated Wednesdays. My days were already fragmented but throwing a weekly minimum day into the public school system just really made me angry. To top it off, minimum day for half-day kindergarten just didn’t make sense.

Luckily, I was able to get my son to sit right down and do his worksheets without too much of a fuss. And then off he went to play and I sat back down to write. Okay, my story was really getting good at this point; I was in the zone.

“Mom, there are ants on the counter,” Nolan, said when he went to get a cup for water.

“Okay, okay. I’ll get it, just a minute.” And off he went to play again. The ants were there, in the back of my mind, but with creativity flowing out of me at 90 words per minute I didn’t want to stop. Now, if he had said flies or cockroaches were all over the counter, I would’ve jumped, but we just had a heat wave over the weekend so a few ants were bound to come inside. Still, the ants were bothering me. My writing slowly ground to a halt, I looked over my shoulder and wished I hadn’t put it off for even a minute; there weren’t a few ants, it was a remake of Indiana Jones. They were everywhere.

I did what I could with the ants until I realized for the second time this day, that it was minimum day at school and I had my third grader to pick up, so I dashed out the door. My third grader hated to read. Can you imagine that? What kid doesn’t like to read? This was why I hated this time of day. I spent forty-five minutes arguing with my daughter to complete her twenty minutes of reading while I wiped and sprayed the newly formed grouping of ants in the kitchen. It was really an hour of arguing with my daughter but I turned on the wet vacuum and mopped the floor while she continued to argue and complain while I enjoyed the white noise of the vacuum. That last fifteen minutes of white noise must have calmed her down because she sat down to read quietly, giving me a few minutes to pound out some more words on the computer.

“Mom, can Nolan and I go over to Aunt Regina’s house while you pick up Fischer from preschool?” My daughter asked after she completed her reading.

Fischer! Would I have forgotten my three year old if Madeline hadn’t said anything? Nah. It was minimum day. I was still on track for picking him up regardless of how I remembered to do so.

I didn’t manage to get back to my computer again this day until eight o’clock at night, but I was able to write until midnight so in the end I was able to accomplish that 1700 words.

This is a story largely based on true events, though pieced together from different days and years. Every day is crazy with three kids in the mix but I’m driven, so I’m not worried about my productivity yet.