Black Sheep of the Family Friday

For a limited time (that being until I remember to revert it) the paperback version of my latest book (and my winning WIP for last year’s NaNoWriMo), Lay Her Ghosts to Rest, is “on sale” on Amazon.

Consider it a holiday special if you will but really, I want to buy a few copies for family members for Christmas and if I get to control the price, I choose to pay less.

That’s why it’s “on sale” rather than on sale. There’s no real promotion so much as I lowered the price for my own benefit.

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Lay Her Ghosts to Rest is my most recent book, inspired by my dread and hatred of wakes and funerals and my desire to legitimize my fear and justify my absence from them. See, everyone? It’s bad for your spirit to attend these things! It’s bad for your soul to have one held for you! Devastation, organization, commercialization! These are all the consequences of your morbid fascination with grief theater and cadaver puppets!

It’s also about recognizing negative patterns and realizing how difficult it is to break them. Workplace drama, relationship drama, ghost stuff, a kickass apartment complex in a renovated industrial mill. That’s what’s what.

 

I imagine that’s why many small business owners open up shop: just to spend less on the stuff they love.

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Going Dark for Art

I’m having trouble with this chapter in my NaNo WIP because it’s a mental/emotional breakdown scene and I’m just. not. there right now.

Having just resurfaced after a particularly difficult time, I don’t reeeeeally want to put myself back there just to write about it. And the stuff I wrote while I was there isn’t enough to make the chapter work. So what do I do?

I tried locking myself in my room, turning the sad music up to eleven and getting to a bad enough place to start the chapter but both children were crying downstairs, my husband was getting frustrated, and I couldn’t NOT go check on my lovebugs. I ended spending the next 20 minutes nursing, 30 minutes after that playing LEGO house, and then it was just about time for our bedtime routine.

Today, I’ve got to start thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping, the projects at work that I’ve been putting off because of that whole maternity leave/postpartum pseudo depression stuff, and cleaning my house since we finally fired our officious cleaning lady.

How DOES one find the time to recreate a depressive episode?

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Nuts Need Energy to Ball

Chapter 20 of my NaNo WIP reads:

Chapter 20

Subtitle

[MC goes nutballs. To be written later]

I got up early. I’m just tasting my first few sips of coffee. I need to leave for a doctor’s appointment in less than an hour and I have to take the baby with me. Nutballs isn’t something I can write right now but it’s what needs to happen at this point in the story.

Nutballs is just not achievable at this level of momming.

Conversely, this level of momming is not achievable while nutballs. Which may be the point of the story.

Also, it may be a weeeeeee bit autobiographical.

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Hazelnutballs is about the best I can do.

Smother Love for Smad Boys

What is it about surly teens in crisis that makes my heart go pitter-pat, that makes me want to smother them with mommy love and make the bad things go away? Is that a universal thing for nurturing types or is it somehow built into our culture as another privilege for emotionally stunted males? Hard to say.

My heart went out to Harry Potter in Order of the Phoenix when he was “ANGRY… all the TIME,” and messed up Dumbledore’s office to let off some steam. Of the many times I cried during that series, that was one of the more intense bouts. And that was before I was an actual mom with way too much experience calming a tantruming child.

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Last night’s episode of Riverdale left me with that same feeling. That damn kid from the wrong side of the tracks all filled with rage and watching everyone screw him over is cry-bait for me fer sure. From Toni dismissing him as a love interest (*sad face* “why does no one love me?”) to Archie pulling the plug/e-brake to lose the race and his homies’ territory (*mad face* “why does my best friend keep effing everything up for me?”), I just couldn’t help but want to hug the hurt right out of that weird little nugget.

I settled instead for snuggling my own little weirdo who arrived home late after falling asleep in the car and couldn’t make sense of waking up after dark in his pjs and winter coat.

“Oh Jughead,” I said, patting his little noggin, “I love you even if no one else (but Betty) does.”

I… didn’t really do that. I convinced him to take off his coat and go to bed. It didn’t work and we were up until 11 playing Darth Vader and Batman can’t find their families. My kind has a penchant for pathos. I have a feeling that his teen years are going to be pretty rough on him. Might as well buy him a crown beanie and leather jacket now so we’re fully prepared.

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In Defense of Jughead

I, too, am overly invested in the lives of fictional television characters, like a teen with little to no control over their own life who takes ownership of other people’s creations and projects all of their issues onto them, and then loses their cool when what they think should happen–or what they need to happen–doesn’t.

That’s me, in all my middle-aged glory. Because I currently have little control and so I seek it elsewhere. In Riverdale. Because I simply cannot handle what’s going down in Hawkins.

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*shudder*

Anyway.

I’m starting to almost maybe recover from Bughead’s break-up, as traumatizing as that was, because I keep watching the clip of Jug and Toni’s kissy time and thinking, “Man, if anyone needs some TLC, it’s that boy.” It’s the wrong girl, I know, but a need is a need and boy howdy does Jug have a neeeeed. Look at his broken face. Look at his broken soul. By GOD, somebody kiss that poor boy!

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I’m sure the appeal of everyone’s favorite modern day Romeo and Juliet has something to do with just the right combination of writing and mood-setting and actor chemistry but there’s also the appeal of two broken souls finding their match. Betty and Jughead are both victims of their parents’ mistakes, neither nurtured appropriately, both lacking in that fundamental need for acceptance and affection and attention (see Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect). What they’ve found in each other was what was/is missing from their childhoods and I think that’s why their bond is so intense. Where Archie and Veronica are love and teen sexuality, Betty and Jughead are love and childhood emotional healing.

That’s why their breakup was so traumatizing for so many of its fans. And me. I’m also a traumatized fan. The tragedy wasn’t as much that a serial killer split them apart (figuratively… so far) as that the wounds within that had just started healing as a result of their union were violently ripped open again. They’re both suffering from being stabbed through an existing scab.

I don’t blame Jug one bit for accepting a consolation from a girl he thinks is capable of taking care of him. She’s already started to, warning him about sitting alone in the cafeteria, helping him at the school paper and in attempting to decode the cipher, tutoring him for his gang exams. Regardless of her actual intent–which I’ve read may be a bit on the shady side–Toni is there for him and Betty is not right now. He’s hurt and he’s broken and he needs comfort and she’s… there, making dramatic gang-family promises to die for him. So… that, up there, with the smoochie boochies happened. And it makes a lot of sense.

As does real life, drama screws with what’s established, what’s expected, and what’s best for us, throwing us into a pit of chaos and waiting for us to learn the lessons that’ll get us up and out. Jug will learn a lesson. So will Betty. So will Toni. So will I and so will all the kids out there stressing out over this.

The struggle is real, I know, because I feel it too. We’re connected to these characters because there’s a need within us that sees the need within them and it’s easier to really understand what we’re going through when we watch it happen to others. But whatever harshness the writers throw at our favorite fictional characters doesn’t have to be a reflection on our character. We can make choices based on insight and logic and the advice of our support system whereas they are slaves to their creators and only exist for our viewing pleasure.

So rather than getting unreasonably angry at actors or showrunners, maybe we can take this as an opportunity to imagine or reassess what we would do or have done in similar* circumstances. That’s the point of fiction, after all: to help us understand ourselves, to make sense of life, to connect all of humanity through archetypes. And the best kinds of stories are the ones that affect us as deeply as this one has.

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*Similar, not the exact same, because I’m married and nobody in my marriage better be kissin’ nobody else.

Give Me Riverdale or Let Me Go

My husband is mocking my excitement for tonight’s new episode of Riverdale and I’m over here like, listen… the most excitement I get is diaper blowouts and televised drama so BACK OFF. Like he’s not going to watch too. Like he’s not gonna enjoy every damn second.

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I’m of the opinion that real life drama is best experienced in intervals, preferably few and far between. I had a baby 7 weeks ago. I’m good. That was sufficiently dramatic, what with the race to the hospital and ushering new life into the world and whatnot. I don’t really need anything else happening in my life to upend it or create more emotion than I’m already experiencing as the pregnancy hormones wreak havoc on their way out of my system.

But I’m also bored out of my mind being home all day.

The solution: entertainment.

Televised, published, streaming; you name it and I will consume it. I will chew up other people’s drama and swallow it with satisfaction because it is tasty delicious and I didn’t have to cook it myself.

So let me have my excitement over Riverdale. Let me watch those beautiful kids fight and solve mysteries and make out and wear nice clothes in messy situations. Because I probably won’t leave the house for two more days and my kids don’t solve mysteries. Not even of the “OK, who pooped now?” variety. No, that’s all on me to figure out and it is not as mysterious as it may seem. Because the answer is inevitably Both Of Them.

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The Book No One Will Read

I’m about a day and a half behind schedule and that ain’t bad for starting over on the second day.

I feel like the words will come easier for this WIP since it’s based on real life but I also think maybe the story will be lacking in commercial appeal. It’s a labor of love, challenge, and self-reflection that won’t sell for shit unless I find the magic editing potion that makes it more interesting.

But that’s next month. Right now it’s just getting the story out in as many words as I can think to use*.

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*I don’t consider it cheating to refrain from any kind of editing that takes away words until after the 50,000 are reached. It’s efficiency, if anything. Right?

Get It Done… Tomorrow

Instead of writing today, I:

Played hashtag games on Twitter

Reposted something stupid on Facebook

Took two small children to Target and bought a $6 Halloween costume on 70% off clearance!

Played LEGOs

Joined Instagram

Binged on Trader Joe’s Garlic Parmesan Pita Chips

Cut a cucumber into toddler-sized pieces

Braided my hair Wonder Woman-style (sorta. I tried)

Watched Sweet Water Secrets on Youtube

Looked up the kid who plays Adam Goldberg on the Goldbergs on IMDB to see what else he’s up to

Entered a book giveaway on Goodreads and a Set Visit Sweepstakes for Riverdale

Watched The Good Place on my DVR

Listened to my husband tell me about his uneventful doctor’s appointment

Listened to my son list all the Halloween monsters he knows about

Sat in my parked car at the park with two sleeping children in the back seat, just chillin’ and taking in the Fall foliage

Checked out the NaNo merch

Made this list

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You Cry When You Can’t Make It Happen

Ugh, gross, no, yuck!

And that’s where WIPs normally go to die.

I reread all 1700 words I wrote yesterday and hate about 70% of them. Because I’m pantsing, I have no idea what I’m writing about, no plot, no direction, no real sense of character outside of the scene I’ve written and I’m just… all… BLECH about it all.

Today’s the day I have to decide to keep chugging along, knowing that I can edit later or even just scrap the whole thing once it’s done and chalk it up to a writing exercise that ultimately helps me understand the importance of planning as long as I complete the word count challenge.

OR I can start something new. Right now*.

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*And by “right now”, of course I mean once both of my children are otherwise occupied and not… crying that Halloween is over and/or they need to poop and can’t. My life is so glamorous.

 

UPDATE: I’ve started something new. I look forward to the dip in my Nano graph. It should add some visual interest to an otherwise boring trajectory.

Blastin’ at a 2

NaNoWriMo has begun and SO HAVE I! Pantsing it all the way. I started writing something at just before midnight last night (it was Nov 1 in Europe, it counts) and came up with 502 words before exhaustion overtook me and I went to bed.

But the kids are napping and I’ve got my playlist blastin’ (in the mom with two young children sense of the word… which is at like, a 2) and the words are coming slowly but surely from brain to finger tip to digital representation.

So far, I’m writing some fairly dirty stuff. That’s what makes it fun.

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First chapter playlist:

Rag’n’Bone Man — Human

 

AJR — Weak

 

Kaleo — Way Down We Go