OPERATION WRITE EVERY DAY (OWED, for the in crowd)

“You must write every single day of your life. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. May you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”                                                       –Ray Bradbury

Thanks to some much-needed love and inspiration from my friends, especially my sweetheart over at SlutsUnlimited, I’m all set and ready to embark on OPERATION WRITE EVERY DAY, a little mini boot camp I’ve set up for myself where I…wait for it!…write every day. That’s what writers do, you know? That whole write-every-day shtick. The thing is, I’ve never been a staunch advocate of this theory. Do I think you can still “be a writer” and only write every other day, or only three days a week if that’s all your schedule allows? Sure. But is it good to aspire to write every day? Yes. Is it advisable? Well, yes. Has not writing every day been working out for me? Yeah, no. Shit’s been getting done, but pretty dang slowly.

So damn it, let’s do this thing. Starting today. I’ll be checking in, for the fun of it, as well as for the sake of keeping my ass in line ;)

-A.

An Open Letter of Blissful Adoration for Dean Paschal

Dean Paschal decided to go to medical school in order to become a better writer. 

(This is a true statement, and I kind of love it.)

dean

A couple of weeks ago I officially applied to The Charity School of Nursing. The day overall was a bit stressful, as I was required to meet with the head of the English department for a waive form; specifically, to request that I be allowed to substitute my MFA in Writing for the English 101 prerequisite (lo and behold, I was granted this favor). However, what has reverberated in me since this otherwise uneventful day was a small, fleeting moment, a flash in time, that is in my eyes pretty damn epic.

The author of my favorite short story, “Moriya,” is Dean Paschal. He is a New Orleans resident and an incredibly talented writer, a personal favorite of not only myself but Joyce Carol Oates as well. I once ran into him, almost ten years ago, at the Circle Bar. I’d had a few drinks (surprised?) and very quickly, and most likely loudly (I don’t recall specifics), told him how much I loved him and how great I thought he was and how I’d just moved to the city to attend UNO’s MFA program. Breathless, boozy, and no doubt red in the face.

“Moriya,” featured in 2003’s Best American Short Stories, was honestly one of my first true inspirations to become a writer, a take-it-serious writer. I told him this, and I believe I even summarized the story a bit, informing him that it involved a young boy falling for a beautiful, mechanical doll in a Garden District French language school, as if this was something he’d perhaps forgotten. He was very generous, very cordial, and listened to me ramble on about my love of his work. Although I wasn’t at my best, I’ve always felt very grateful and lucky to have had this chance encounter with someone I admired so much, particularly just as I was embarking on a writerly adventure.

Dean is a brilliant man who not only writes but is a full-time emergency room doctor. As stated above,  he decided to get into medicine in order to become a better writer. Now that’s dedication. Another aspect of him I relate to is that he’s a very solitary writer, as am I. He also has described his writing process as an “ordeal,” as something that doesn’t necessarily make him feel euphoric. As you all know, I’m part of this crowd as well: we do it because the words need to come out, the stories need to be told, not because we get our rocks off on the sheer joy of pen-to-paper.

Because of these similarities, Dean has been floating around in my thoughts since I decided to embark on this new adventure. This nursing adventure. Almost like a remote/imaginary mentor, a psychic inspiration. He doesn’t even know. The fact that he writes as beautifully as he does while being immersed in such a demanding field has been endlessly reassuring to me. And he lives here, here near me, seeing the same sights, hearing the same sounds, and immersed in the same culture.

I have benefited from being a workaholic in a nonstop party town. I have benefited from the closeness and exotic small-town feel of New Orleans, benefited from a city not driven by the pendulum of the weekends like the small towns of my youth. New Orleans is easy to belong to, easy to get around in. I like the restaurants, the coffee houses, the used-bookstores, the universities, the dive bars and strip joints. I like the very-lived-in, highly territorial, urine smell of the Quarter. New Orleans has been good for me. I hope ultimately to be good for it. –Dean Paschal

Imagine my shock, my elation, when, upon walking from my office building to the nursing school, application in hand, I waltzed right past Dr. Paschal. I didn’t realize at the time that he worked for the VA Hospital, so it’s really not odd that he was there. But I do find it serendipitous that we walked past each other as I made my way to the nursing school building, only my second sighting of him in 10 years. Almost a little nod of encouragement, just as my meeting with him before was. We smiled at each other, which was awesome, too :)

Dean went into medicine to improve his writing, to broaden his scope. I like the thought of my medical experience becoming a tool of my trade, a way to better flesh out my writing with a deeper understanding of the human experience. Perhaps I’ll become as immersed, as appreciative, as curious…and as seduced as the boy in “Moriya” by the doll’s velvet jacket, her ivory skin, her dream life in Prague.  And even without this connection I feel to the good doctor, I am still endlessly appreciative of and humbled by his writing, particularly that first story I read of his, the way it showed me how moving writing can be, how captivating, with a simple story of a boy’s complex love of something unattainable, something pure, something he can’t fully understand while also understanding more than most adults do about love.

He would never be in this parlor again, never have another chance, never be on the sofa with this girl, never feel her pressure against him, never see her close her eyes like a kitten to sleep.

The dangling prisms weighed heavily on his soul. The doll sat on her sofa, perfectly motionless. He stood there, watching her, breathing mainly out of his mouth. “Je t’aime,” he said quietly.

It had been impossible, over the days, not to see longing, then reproach, then anger in those eyes.

He would leave tomorrow. He told her that. (Out loud, in fact.) He waited, waited a long time. She did not move.

Je t’aime. I love you, he said again, finally.

The doll still did not move. She continued staring out the window. She did not believe him anymore. 

Cheers to you, Dr. Paschal. Thank you & hope to see you around this crazy/beautiful town of ours. Merci pour les rêves mécaniques.

–A.

Article from Press Street: http://press-street.com/beyond-the-light-of-the-jukebox-an-interview-with-dean-paschal/

Gambit Weekly: http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/physician-write-thyself/Content?oid=1240292

Youtube “Moriya”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsalIRgwcuQ

HotHotHotSweatSweet: Dog Days of Summer & Horror Fever

(August 17)

Favorite thing that happened today: First day of my Fall semester, 6-hour A&P II lab/lecture  class…and realizing I dig my teacher and am going to learn a lot (dork alert)

Least favorite: I now have a 6-hour lab/lecture class 

What I’m listening to: The tinkling of my dogs’ tags. Yes, there are two of them now :) 

What’s sitting next to me: LSU football chew toy that I’m pretty sure Chief stole from the next door neighbor’s grandkids (sorry, Dennis)

Currently reading: Tampa by Alissa Nutting (think modern-day, smutty Lolita with the gender roles reversed) & Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 23

In the infamous words of the cast of Rent: HotHotHotSweatSweet, WetWetWetRedHeat. Yes, kids, it’s hot town summer in the city, back of my neck gettin’ dirt and gritty, and all that jazz. Hot as it is though, it is so nice to be back in New Orleans. “It is so nice to be back.” I keep saying that, that one line…it is so nice to be back!…and I’m  starting to have moments of concern that people are going to get sick of hearing it. Like maybe I’ll say it again and I’ll get an annoyed look and an exasperated, “Okayyyy. We get it. You like New Orleans. Sheesh.” I think people understand, though. My friends here are (thankfully) okay with me repeating my mantra, as I’m reiterating my pleasure in being home. My friends in the Wild West are happy that I’m back in the environment that suits me best & makes me the happiest (my power spot, as my dear friend Sabrina would call it). It’s just kind of funny that I even find myself saying it to new people I meet, stamping out that sentence like an affirmation, like I’m supporting some cause. I guess in a way I am. So, yeah, I’m feeling pretty good about being back at home base…in case you didn’t get the memo. 

My minor writing update is that I’m working on a short story in the horror vein at the moment, which is nifty. An added element of excitement comes from the fact that the setting of said story is in the house next door to ours. Write what you know, eh? I usually don’t “write what you know,” so this is an experiment of sorts, and I hope to have positive things to say about it as the story progresses. And, again, I’m writing this story with the intention of sending it out (which if we’re being honest is always my goal, or so I tell myself, because at the very least I’ll be writing at my very sharpest and most attentive if I remind myself that others are going to be reading it). The thing is, despite being an avid horror fan, I know practically nothing about the ins and outs of horror zines as far as their submission policies go, so I need to do my research. This will be enjoyable, though. Just a simple Google search of “horror magazines” leads to many entertaining, clickable options. I don’t know. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s something about this genre that just thrills me endlessly. I have Stephen King and Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark to thank for that, along with healthy doses of “Tales from the Crypt” (& Darkside!), “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”, the Goosebumps series, and all of Christopher Pike’s spooky YA books.

Upon reflecting I’ve come to the conclusion that, in addition to cheap thrills, part of my love of horror is founded in an appreciation at a deeper level. (Yes, I’m getting on my horror soap box again, but stay with me here for a minute. I’m gonna try to pull you over to the dark side, it’s true, but it won’t hurt at all.) So much of our lives is spent in a veritable frenzy, whether it be worry over finances/family/the future or simply the endless tedium of go-to-job-come-home-go-to-sleep-rinse-and-repeat. Overall, we have great difficulty being present in the moment – this very moment – and stopping to appreciate it. Letting this moment be enough. We’re either dwelling about the past or worried about the future, or both if you’re an expert like me.

I know this may be a stretch, but to me spooky books and movies provide a shock to the system, a welcome contrast to the tedium, the 9-to-5 workday, the grocery store list, the studying for midterms, the Traditional vs. Roth IRA. It simplifies everything down to survival, to fighting to keep your wits about you long enough to stay alive. It also brings into play the “other” and the notion that this world could be a lot spookier, and therefore a shit ton more interesting, than we often give it credit for or stop to consider.  It reminds us that the world is fascinating, and yes sometimes scary, but it’s all worth overcoming obstacles to stick around for. Heck, I could just meditate to hammer out these ideas in my head…but I’d rather watch Cabin in the Woods, thank you very much.

TTFN, folks. XO

Writing Update: Sunday, March 10, or Hibernation Part II

Favorite thing that happened today: It’s Sunday. I love Sundays. Also, it’s my darling Hiba’s 9th birthday (meow!).

Least favorite: Really lame lab homework 

What I’m listening to: A drink being poured (vodka cran!)

What’s sitting next to me: Sleepy Chief 

Currently reading: Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers

Hello world! I apparently slept for a little bit longer since my last post, but I assure you this blog is alive and well. As am I. Tides are turning, and changes are afoot. I am pleased to announce that I will be making my grand return to New Orleans in May, and I couldn’t be happier. Taos has been amazing, by which I mean therapeutic/blissful/necessary/calming/fulfilling, and I will miss so many things about it, but Nola has always been home. And I guess it means something when you find yourself moving back to a beloved city for the third time? I’ve been so very mobile for the past 5 years, and it’s going to be so nice to put down some roots. I am thrilled, and excited about every moment of the journey.

My writing, you ask? What’s up with that? Similar to my chaotic moving patterns, I’ve once again jumped to a new format for my main project, and although I should feel stressed about this latest change (as it’s yet another in a long string of changes), I can’t help but feel those butterflies that come when I think I’ve come upon a great idea. I really do hope it is a great idea, guys. I’ve read so many articles that suggest bouncing around from concept to concept, structure to structure, voice to voice is the kiss of death to a piece of writing, whether it be poem or novel (or art installation for that matter). I disagree, strongly. Although it would be amazing to be able to count on myself to magically come up with the right way to do things the first time around, I don’t believe I’ve ever been blessed with that ability, at least in my creative life. It can be unbelievably frustrating to wander around the grand room of possibilities, but once you find the right fit, that traditionally-seen-as “wasted” time will so be worth it. I’m like Dorothy in Return to Oz, searching for the Scarecrow in the Ornament room. Okay, I just wanted to make a reference to Return to Oz ;) And now I’m thinking about how I’d love to have a chicken named Billina…

I’ve got some ideas I’d love to flesh out on this page. I felt like I needed a little update to get things going again first, though. I’m hoping to post a book review soon, of Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, and I’m also planning a piece in more detail about my inexplicable love of the horror genre. But for now I just wanted to stop by, wave hello, and let you know I’m back ;) Hope y’all are doing well & I will see you again soon! Thanks for reading.

(Oh! My latest obsession is below. Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren.” I just can’t even. It’s so damn good.)

Hibernation

Hello, my friends! It’s been a while. I have been taking a nice, long nap :)

It’s been about three months since I stopped working full-time and replaced that with very part-time work and full-time classes. I thought I’d be going stir crazy after about two weeks or so, but it seems like I really needed this little break. I haven’t written as much as I’d have imagined I would with such a massive schedule change, but I have been writing. I’ve also been immersing myself in things that I feel are helping my writing in wonderful ways.

For one, I’m falling in love with this town. Moving anywhere post-Nola is rough. Very rough. There’s simply no other place that compares. But Taos has been sneaking up on me for a while now, and with the change of season I am struck by its intense sense of quiet. I needed this. The crisp air, the white-barked aspens, the horses I pass (and have named) on my way in to town. It’s all so lovely, and I am enjoying this new sense of belonging.

An excellent accompaniment to my newfound appreciation for my surroundings is the Autumn Yoga Challenge I signed up for at Shree Yoga Taos! For a long time I’ve been looking for something I could “join” here in town, and I’m glad I settled on yoga. I started taking yoga classes in New Orleans, so this is a small way to reconnect to my sweet Nola. The instructors at Shree are absolutely phenomenal and, without sounding like the Taos hippie I’m turning into, I’m starting to look at life in calmer, fuller ways. (I’m also really digging learning all the names for poses. You’d think I was collecting Pokemon cards. This morning: American in Paris pose. “American in Paris!” Love it!)

Something else I wanted to address (for my two or three readers of this blog ;) ) is that I’ve been giving it some thought and have come up with a couple of reasons why I think I’ve been struggling posting writing updates: one, I’ve been in zen, reflective mode lately (kind of on “pause,” if you will…believe me I’m not complaining), but more importantly…I’ve always resisted sharing the details of my writing projects until I reach a comfort zone with them. I thought that holding myself accountable to weekly writing updates would somehow bolster my confidence, but I’m still feeling pretty shy, guys. My goal is to restructure things so I’m still sharing my progress, and writing steadily, but I’m going to continue to keep certain details to myself (character back stories, chapter development, etc.)  until I get a little further along with my projects. Then I will smother you with more details than you’d ever even want to know! Deal? It was just something I started thinking about, because I was feeling a bit down I hadn’t introduced characters and divulged plots as of yet. The time will come…

Do any of you fellow writers out there also struggle with sharing details about your writing? My assumption is that most writers tend to be isolated while they construct their work, but I know there are also those out there that like to share their progression every step of the way. I don’t think either way is right or wrong, but I thought I needed to talk about my feelings on the matter since, oh I don’t know, I promised updates along the way ;) I’ll get better at this: I swear!

As far as this blog is concerned, I’d like to broaden my scope and possibly throw in some interviews here and there, and reviews on some of my favorite things. I’m still in a reverie after my months-long hibernation, and I’m looking forward to getting cozy in this mountain winter and seeing what fun things I can come up with, both here and on the page.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

XO,

A.

Writing Update: Friday, September 28

Favorite thing that happened today: Hasn’t happened yet, but house-hunting!

Least favorite: Too much interspecies drama in the hallway

What I’m listening to: Vitamin String Quartet tribute to Tori Amos

What’s sitting next to me: spiral notebook, Griffith Park Observatory mug of coffee

Currently reading: Writing the TV Drama Series by Pamela Douglas 

Okay, so maybe I’ll compromise on a writing update once every two weeks :) That seems a bit more reasonable. Just checking in to let the blogosphere know that I’m still chugging along with the horror project, which is translating to actual pages being written, while the Lizzie project is also progressing…though less obviously. I swear, I’ll try to sit down and work on Lizzie but nothing (literally nothing) comes out, but then I’ll spend the whole day, or the whole damn week, daydreaming about her and her story. I don’t actually EVER stop doing that. My problem is, and has always been, that I have this entire world imagined for her, little adventures and minor tragedies and stupid, meaningless lazy afternoons all drawn out for her, when all I need to do is hone in on that period of her life when something really interested happened. That fateful August morning that most of the Western world knows about. I have to remind myself that I’m not writing a new Harry Potter series starring Lizzie Borden, chronicling her entire life (well, my imagined life of hers). It’s fun for me to think about a huge story line like that, but it’s just not going to happen. I’m taking this project way too personally, which is why it’s nice to have a little slice of horror to keep me preoccupied.

The Rachel House Five is progressing nicely. It’s funny, though. I keep referring to it as a nice contrast to the Lizzie work because it’s a fun little Halloween-ish guilty pleasure, so different from my modern retelling of a classic American murder. However, my favorite part of it so far has been working on “The Acre Man.” You see, each of the five characters that make up The Rachel House Five have a personal demon, a character-come-to-life that haunts them, and the boogeyman for Bernie, my punky gamer girl, is The Acre Man, a character in a video game she’s designing. He is the caretaker of a derelict farm and obsessively walks the periphery of a particular acre of cornfield with an axe. She loves his character…until she meets him in person.

Consider the irony. My guilty pleasure project features a character that kills with an axe…which is basically Lizzie Borden’s life story, as far as pop culture is concerned. Nice. I guess I can’t fight the story, just write it, but it’s weird nonetheless. Weird in a spooky way :)

Please still be my friend even though all I do in my spare time is obsess about axe murders. I also enjoy cupcakes, Everybody Loves Raymond, and interior design magazines. Really, it all evens out.

Writing Update: Wednesday, September 12

Favorite thing that happened today: I made a perfect fried egg.

Least favorite: Homework on amyloid protein fibers. I just don’t care.

What I’m listening to: Billy Joel, “Big Man on Mulberry Street” (only at night / when I’m light on my feet)

What’s sitting next to me: Clean sheets

Currently reading: 11/22/63, Stephen King

Time for another writing update already? Eeeks it’s been a month! I think I need to do these once a week, not once a month. If I’m posting an update about writing once a week, I’ve got to write every week, right? Yes.

So, friends, I’ve been doing a lot of scheming and outlining the last couple weeks, and feeling very huge-sigh-of-relief happy that I passed my CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) state exam on Saturday. I took the test in Las Vegas, NM, which is where the original “Red Dawn” was filmed, and it was surreal driving in at 6:30 am. The pastures looked like velvet, the red rocks loomed over the road, and there was a hot pink sunset to greet my arrival. Then brick streets, old buildings. Everything felt very Wild West / outlaw. I took the written test at computer station #28, which matches my “28” tattoo. I started to revel in these little happy signs, but had to wait 4 hours before I found out I’d passed. Again, huge sigh of relief.

But let’s get down to shop talk. As any of you that’s read even one of my blog posts knows, I’m scatterbrained. Like, super duper crazy thoughts everywhere nutso. I like to put a positive spin on it and appreciate that there are too many thoughts in my head rather than too little. My tendency for frenzied thought has been put on hyper drive with this whole new going-to-school thing. I have 5 classes a week, plus I’m working of course, and even though I’d worried this would be the death of WriterManda, it’s actually quite stimulating. I’ve definitely noticed a change, though: whereas before I’d try to focus on one thing only, now I’m doing this balancing act of multiple projects…and actually enjoying it. It’s interesting to compare growth in projects and learn to appreciate each step of the process.

I sadly never got around to the Nano Fiction contest, though this is still a genre I’d like to explore, but I haven’t abandoned any of my current projects. Some experimentation is being done with Miss Lizzie Borden; some short story editing is taking place (still); but what I’m most excited about now (certainly because it’s getting close to Halloween, or as I like to call it, MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE FREAKIN’ YEAR) is “The Rachel House Five,” my homage to the vintage thriller.

I haven’t talked about it much but I am *obsessed* with the horror genre, particularly old school atmospheric chillers. I am absolutely in love with Stephen King and everything he’s ever written, though I’m partial to his earlier works & short story collections. I’m not ashamed to admit that I adore ghost stories, urban legends, and anything that goes bump in the night. Always have been. So it seems really belated that I’m just now getting around to working on something in this self-professed favorite genre of mine. Better late than never, no?

Image

My favorite King collection.

“The Rachel House Five” is set in rural Louisiana and follows a group of five friends as they meet for a writer’s retreat at The Rachel House plantation. They work on their respective stories and all is well until the characters from these stories start to manifest and make their presence known at the plantation…at first innocently and then with increasingly sinister motives.

I don’t want to knock my Lizzie project, but she requires such a massive amount of research and concentration that it’s really nice to have something fun to work on for a change. And I dig feeling like I need to check in the closets at night, under the bed, and behind the doors. And to always make sure I tuck my feet under the sheets at night, because the last thing I want is to feel the brush of cold fingers as they start to first stroke then pull on my toes…

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Writing Update: Monday, August 13

Favorite thing that happened today: Didn’t have to go to work (Yowzas, I love it!)

Least favorite: Mouth still hurts from dental surgery last week…but that’s what Vicodin is for

What I’m listening to: Lana del Rey, “Carmen”

What’s sitting next to me: Chief, my super sleepy German Shepherd & his beloved hamburger squeaky toy

Currently reading: The Keep, F. Paul Wilson

Hello friends! Quick disclaimer to confess that this is less of a writing update and more of a life update.  Changes are afoot and it’s scary/exciting/awesome. Pretty much all those things at once because I feel like the road is opening up for me, and I *should* be nervous, but really I’m just standing around with a goofy grin on my face, and enjoying this nostalgia-inducing feeling of having the world at my feet. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but please let me enjoy my fleeting moments of sky-high mania. It’s so much preferred to monotony!

Most folks would consider it crazy for a self-proclaimed writer to take on a new career path. Ah, that’s not the best way to describe it: please know I’m not in any way, shape or form trying to throw writing in the trash bin. I am actually willingly accepting a brand new career in ADDITION to keeping on trucking with my writing. It’s insane, right? Yeah, I know it. But here’s my reasoning: for so many years I took whatever job was put in front of me (or searched out desperately) just because I needed *something* and figured my stories/books would flow out of me like an effortless river. Problem with this? Despite working with some lovely people & getting great life experience, I was in a permanent funk. I mean, we’re talking down-in-the-dumps, moody/pissy/cranky far more than I’d like to admit. For all you fellow Labyrinth lovers, I was trudging around the Bog of Eternal Stench for years, cute in my mud boots but with a big ol’ frowny face.

Anywho, I decided that until (notice I did not say “if”) my writing career shoots to the moon (it’s gonna happen, right? can I get a hell yeah?) I am going to, for once, do something practical. Long story very short: A girl needs to eat, yo, and I’m going to be a nurse!

I said it’s insane, right? I know it, I know it! But honestly? Get real close so I can whisper in your ear? Aw there you are. You smell nice :) The secret is: I’m like ridiculously excited about all this. There is something about this take-on-the-worldness that I’m digging and, oddly enough, whereas you’d think throwing myself into nursing would completely distract me from writing, I’m telling you it’s the opposite. I guess just the gungho nature of putting my foot down and stating with hands on hips that I’m going to study something new and exciting, and launching myself into something that’s potentially a very stable career, is giving me the confidence that I can do (epiphany!) the same thing with my writing.

You all know from my previous posts that, though I don’t like to admit it, I’m not as confident about my writing as I’d like. It really annoys me & makes me sad sometimes—blahblahblah—but I’m looking forward to that changing (and for me to move in a conscious direction of spending less time fretting over stuff & far more time actually accomplishing things).

But, please, not another psychoanalytical post (Melisa, that’s a word, right?). I just wanted to share my new little adventure. I am looking forward to getting all geeked out in some math & science classes with my retro backpack. I really do feel like I’m at my best (or at least thrive from) being in an active learning situation. Filling my head with facts & keeping my mind working. I’m going to take this new venture very seriously, and it’s a nice reminder that I need to take my writing much more seriously. Much, much more. Or I guess I should say take myself more seriously as a writer? It’s just so random. Nursing, which I’ve thought about off and on before in my life, suddenly comes along as an actual opportunity that I can go for, and I *immediately* embrace it and start tackling it head on. Amanda as Healer? Check. But Amanda as Wordsmith? For some reason that’s been so difficult for me to embrace without second-guessing myself. But, I’m telling you, no more questions or flipflopping. I’m signing on the dotted line. Done and done.

***

I really do wish I had more to update as far as my writing goes, but (and this will soon change) I haven’t gotten a terrible amount done in the past month or so, what with tying up loose ends at work and having more dental surgery done (that’s a whole other, complicated post for a rainy day).

I’ve put my novel on hold because I need to do some tweaking. It was flowing pretty nicely, but then that very pleasant progression just stopped altogether. I’m not sure what happened, but I need to find the root of the problem before I keep going with it. This novel is such a huge part of me that at times I feel too close to it to give it an honest evaluation. My plan is to immerse myself in other little projects, not just to distance myself but to rustle up some inspiration.

I spoke before about working on an older story (“Were You Lying When You Said You Loved the Moon?”), and I’m hoping to send it out for publication soon (see how I can be cocky sometimes about my writing? i’m snapping my fingers all sassy-like right now). I’m also really wanting to throw myself into the flash fiction genre. There’s a contest up at Nano Fiction, and I figure what the hell do I have to lose? A lot of people have the misconception that shorter is easier, which is so not true, and I definitely realize it won’t be simple. God, maybe flash fiction is murder. But I want to give it a shot, and I shall.

***

So that’s what up in my life, as far as career stuff goes. But let me also share some very fun news! This Wednesday, two short days away, I get to take a sweet, long-weekend vacation! It’s much needed and much appreciated, and my parents are to thank as they are providing it all expenses paid, because they’re freaking awesome.

They live in Clermont, Florida, which is where I grew up.

Don’t get me started on Florida. I miss it, I love it, I will always be a Sunshine State girl at heart. My parents, however, born and raised and lifelong Floridians, are pretty much ready to move on. They grew up when everything was orange groves and sleepy peaceful streets and storefronts. Even though Clermont still has a ton of charm, there has been an insane amount of development, and for their retirement, they want to move somewhere cooler and less busy.

For years they vacationed in northern Georgia and fell in love with the rolling hills, BBQ joints, cozy Southern hospitality and the ability to completely distance themselves from traffic/insanity/city life. They are adorable, and it’s been so lovely watching them house hunting and hearing about their dreams for their cabin. My dad, who I wouldn’t exactly describe as the most technologically savvy person in the family, sits at the computer every day, looking at properties. They’ve been working with a realtor, and hope to move sometime next summer. My mom went up a couple months ago to look at places but didn’t fall in love with anything. Recently, though, my dad found this really awesome cabin still in construction, at a great price. My mom told me last week she was going up this Friday for a couple days to check it out and randomly yesterday I called her and asked her if I could *please* join her. She was thrilled! We ended up booking me a flight to Orlando on Wednesday so I can spend Weds night and Thursday at home with my dad (my sweet dad can’t go on all of these fun adventures because he very selflessly cares fulltime for my grandmother, his mom, who has suffered from dementia for years). Then on Friday my mom and I are flying up to Atlanta together (first class, dude! that’s a big deal to this champagne taste/PBR budget girl). We’ll spend Friday and Saturday in north Georgia, before we fly out our separate ways Sunday. School starts Monday.

I’m super happy to be seeing my parents and to go on a little vacay as well. I will make sure to post an update, on the trip as well as my writing.

Hope that all was coherent! I really appreciate you going along for the ride with me. Take care & warm wishes.

Until later…XO