May #writemotivation check in

writemotivation_header1

Doing my first check in with a little over a week to go in the month. That should say something right there. This month didn’t start out so hot. I do feel that I am finally getting back on track after having way too much too handle. I don’t like to bore you with details, but let’s just say it seemed as if everyone in my household was having an existential crisis that required hours of me talking them down off proverbial (and sometimes not-so proverbial) ledges. Chaos was the order of the day, coffee was the beverage, nay, the meal of choice, and sleep was nary to be found.

Thankfully, that is all behind me. Everyone has once again found their inner zen and their raison d’être.

The balance is back.

Yes.

Image Courtesy of Robin Benad via Unsplash cc
Image Courtesy of Robin Benad via Unsplash cc

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Namaste.

We now return to our scheduled programming. So…where were we?

The Goals:

  1. Continue work on suggested revisions for Museum Crashers. I am close to halfway through with this round of revisions. I had a lovely critique group session, yesterday, that was very productive. My critique group loved the resolution at the end and how my character faced his fear. I just have some tightening up to do to get that ending the way I need it to be. I am really enjoying working on this book.
  2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. This will have to wait until next month. Although I have been thinking about it a lot and have been coming up with new ideas for it while working on the Museum book. I think I’ve solved a lot of the problems I’ve been struggling with and I can’t wait to get to work on this one. Next month, definitely.
  3. If complete revisions, submit to interested parties/begin submission process. Not ready, yet. Will have to wait for next month.
  4. Read 6 books. I’m doing a terrible job on this goal. I’ve only finished two books so far this month. Although I am blazing through Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles right now. I finished cinder-117x162Scarlet_final_USA-Today-117x162CINDER rather quickly and am already well into SCARLET. (Aren’t those book covers gorgeous?) I know I’ll have this one read before the end of the month. And then this peculiarly wonderful thing happened. I was invited to participate in Colleen Houck’s book club on Goodreads. I have to read the current book, THE SHADOW PRINCE by Bree Despain, by the end of the week so I can participate in the next discussion. I’m really looking forward to it. I thought being part of a book club might help me expand my reading tastes a bit by exposing me to books I wouldn’t normally hear about. It’s going to be a fun experiment. And it should force me to read more timely. Nothing like a deadline, right?
  5. The dreaded and yet necessary exercise – whip cracks! 4 times a week. I have been walking regularly, and for longer stints, which is good, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. It’s time to get back on the elliptical. BLECH! On another note, our neighborhood pool opens this weekend, so I’ll be taking the boy to the pool at least once a day until September. Time to get a new suit. Woohoo.

I hope you’ve had a lovely May and if you are up for some goal challenges for June, it’s a great time to sign up for next month at the #writemotivation website.

 

 

Final April #writemotivation check in

writemotivation_header1

I may have overcommitted myself this month.

Just a wee bit.

We have our annual fundraiser for the Autism Center of Tulsa, the A-Ok Walk for Autism coming up in May, and I’m the Team Captain for the Avengers for Trevor team. We are wearing costumes this year (or some of us are) and I’m tracking down props and gathering team members and donations and yeesh, it’s time consuming.

Then, I’m giving a couple of talks next month for our SCBWI OK group and I had to (over) prepare for them. Like way over prepare. I don’t think I know any other way. I hope it goes well. *fingers crossed*

Finally, my son’s job coach and I decided it was time to start increasing his work day – to stretch his potential in manageble increments – until we got him from half days to full days. We both felt he was ready. One thing I should have factored into my schedule was that he doesn’t deal with change well. He gets anxious and needs more attention – he has periods of acting out, aggression, and even total ugly meltdowns when he feels overwhelmed. We’ve seen all of these in the past few weeks. He’s getting better, but we’ve been living with a rabid six foot wolverine most afternoons. Not. Fun.

So…

Why did I think I could revise two complete novels in one month?

Insanity!

I do believe I may have some hereditary traits leaning toward mental instability on my mother’s side. That could explain soooooo many of my questionable life choices. But I digress. Let’s get on with it and view the damage done.

My #writemotivation goals for this month:

1. Work on suggested revisions for Museum Crashers. Although I have made significant progress, I still have a long way to go. I remain excited about the direction this is going and the revision suggestions are only making this story better. Meeting with my critique group this months was also very instructive. They pulled off the kid gloves and gave my chapter the business. It sorely needed it. The end of the story obviously needs more work than the beginning, and I have some character continuity issues to resolve. Everything is very doable, it’s just going to take longer than expected.

Blech.

I need some more chocolate to get through this revision.

2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. Nope. I’m going to have to add this as a goal for next month. Maybe. If I get goal #1 accomplished. I need to be a little more patient with myself. (Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a patient person?)

3. Read 6 books. So close! But not really. I did read 4 books. Two were picture books. (Not that I have anything against picture books, I love picture books.) I really got hung up on one book that required a slower read. THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Steifvater. It was a sequel to a book that I tore through in a couple of days, so it was frustrating that I couldn’t get into the second book so easily. In the end, I was glad I slowed down and stuck with the story. Some books can’t be rushed.  

4. If complete both 1 and 2, work on first draft of Pretty Vacant. Bah! ha ha ha ha ha! Maybe for June.

5. Yes, you still have to exercise. 4 times a week. One goal accomplished! I win! (I’m taking my positives where I can get them.)

So there’s the ugly truth of this month’s goal non-accomplishmenting. I shall not give up, however. I have already signed up for next month to do this thing all over again. I plan on hitting the revision track even harder. Once my son has adjusted to his new work hours, I will have a lot more free time to write. Very excited about that!

I hope you all did better than I did. Here’s to a productive May!

My Writing Process Blog Hop

This is a delightful blog hop that’s making the rounds right now, and I was tagged a few times by some lovely people.

Jenny Perinovic, part of my TGNA family, first tagged me in this blog hop and I accepted her challenge,

then my fellow SCBWI Oklahoma friend, Sonia Gensler tagged me and finally,

Jadyn Knight one of my #writemotivation peeps added me to her chosen few.

Thank you all for including me in this fun challenge.

Pic From Unsplash by Sonja Langford
Pic From Unsplash by Sonja Langford

So here we go:

1. What am I working on? I am revising two completed manuscripts at the moment. One is INSTITUTIONALIZED, a YA contemporary novel about a teen who gets admitted to Whispering Sands under false pretenses and must navigate the unfamiliar world of deviants and sociopaths by pretending to be crazy so she can get out in time to save her sister from the real psycho in the family. The other is NIGHT OF THE MUSEUM CRASHERS, a Middle Grade Mystery about a boy who stumbles upon a crime in process – thieves swapping out paintings with fakes. But when the police arrive, there’s no trace of foul play; no one believes him. He decides to solve the crime himself and prove he was right.    

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? With the contemporary YA story, the twist is that the main character isn’t mentally ill, or at least she doesn’t think she has any reason to be locked up. In my Middle Grade story, my character is afraid of everything in the beginning – not exactly the dashing adventurous type that relishes the idea of solving mysteries. He’s thought of as mentally unbalanced – fragile, even, by the adults. That’s kind of an anti-hero for mystery stories. I do seem to be fascinated with the inner workings of my characters’ lives and I do like them damaged; they all seem to need therapy. Read into that what you will.

3. Why do I write what I do? Books meant everything to me as a kid. While some let my imagination soar, some helped me navigate the awkward world of puberty without always having to ask my single dad embarrassing questions. (I know I’m not the only one who owes a heap of gratitude to the amazing Judy Blume.) Writing stories that shed light on difficult issues and let someone else not feel so weird about themselves, like they could be the hero of their own story or even help someone else understand what a different way of life may be like – I don’t know, I just like exploring ideas that spark conversation. 

4. How does my writing process work? I’ve discovered this fabulous new word recently – “planster”. I’m not quite and pantser or a planner, but a planster. And a binge planster at that. I don’t write every day, but even on the days I’m not writing, I do spend a good chunk of time mulling over my stories or thinking about my characters. I spend a lot of time in my own head. Once I do sit down to write, everything else falls away. Distractions like food, people, time all get filtered out. Before I know it, I’ve been writing for hours on end, the sun has disappeared, and my family has written me off as lost for the day. I find myself surrounded by discarded drinks and food items scattered about as offerings to the enthralled author-who-could-not-be-disturbed. This is one of the many ways they love me and my crazy writerly self.

As far as the actual writing of the story process, for me, the situation and the character always come first. An idea pops into my head while having a discussion with a friend or while reading an article or listening to an interview on the radio. I may jot it down so I don’t forget it, or I may just mull it over in my head for a few days. If it sticks in my brain and I can’t stop thinking about it, I begin to play around with it, with the character, and see if this could be something worth pursuing. I start writing some pages. And more pages. Once I get into the story and realize it has teeth, I may sketch out a bell curve outline of major plot points or scenes I want to include. That’s probably as much outlining as I’ll do, with the exception of the mystery story. I did have to outline more to keep track of clues and red herrings, there. For that story, I did a chapter by chapter outline after I knew the story would work and where the story was going.

I try not to revise while writing the first draft, but I do start a page or two back from where I started the day before and I may tinker a bit with things before moving forward. I’m trying to allow myself to write those messy first drafts and wait for revising until I get to the end of the first draft. I do love revising. I know my work only gets better the more I do it. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop revising. Probably when the next exciting idea calls to me.

I haven’t tagged anybody for this blog hop as most of the people I would tag have already been tagged, so if you’d like to share your writing process feel free to join in the fun. I have enjoyed reading about everyone’s process. One thing I have gleaned from all of the different stories is that there is no right or wrong way to write, only that you do it.

So here’s to all of you, trudging through your revisions and first drafts, battling your demons of self-doubt. Remember that perseverance is key.

Keep writing!

 

April #writemotivation check in

writemotivation_header1

Many of the people I follow are participating in the A to Z challenge this month, so I expect they are plenty busy with this insanity right about now. (I say this with the utmost respect of one who could never in a million years be organized enough to post daily for an entire month, let alone have a theme involved tying all said fictional posts together – I am not that person.) I think they are all rock stars or mentally imbalanced, like people who purposely run marathons. Seriously, how do you do it?

Goals for this month:

1. Work on suggested revisions for Museum Crashers. I am deep into this goal at the moment and really enjoying it. The suggestions made during my conference critique have me on the right track. YAY!! I also meet with my critique group this week and they will add to the helpfulness, as they always do.

I may have neglected to mention this before, but two other members of my critique group, Barbara Lowell (who has her first book coming out this June!) and Sharon Martin (writer of the most kick-ass novel in verse I’ve read since Ellen Hopkins), both were chosen as top picks by the speakers. Man, do I have a fantastic critique group or what!

2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. This will be next after I’m done with Museum Crashers.

3. Read 6 books. I’ve just finished one book of poetry that I’m going to write a review on later this week and I’m in the middle of another, a sequel I’ve been really looking forward to reading – THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m going a little slow on this one right now. It’s not clipping along with the same fantastic pace as the first one. Part of it may be that it’s been so long since I read the first book that I have trouble remembering everything that happened in the last book and I get a little lost.

4. If complete both 1 and 2, work on first draft of Pretty Vacant. Not ready for this, yet.

5. Yes, you still have to exercise. 4 times a week. Goal accomplished and my body hates it. Every day I wake up wondering why there is pain already. “Oh yeah. The exercise.” We’re not even up to pre-deathly ill month of February levels of exercise yet and my body is already whining. Too bad, chica, cause we’re not stopping. Slap on the icy hot and walk (limp) on.

 

Besides this, I’ve also been busy preparing for a talk I’m doing next month for our local SCBWI schmooze entitled “Intro to Twitter”. As part of this prep, I’ve been creating some lists on my Twitter account to share. Wow, was that time-consuming! I’m glad I’ve finally finished! One is called “Writers of fabulous blogs” and includes all the people I follow who also write really good blogs. Feel free hop on over and subscribe to it.

And how are you all doing with your goals?

I hope to get around to reading at least a sampling of the thousands of A to Z challenge posts out there; they are daunting in their numbers. I am interested in reading through all of Rebekah’s world-building series for sure. Talk about detail. Get on with your bad self!  Are there any A to Z challenges you’ve found fascinating?

Closing Out March with a Bang – a #writemotivation check in

writemotivation_header1

To say that I had a positive experience at our SCBWI OK spring conference would be quite the understatement. One of the first things that happened before our speakers took the stage was the winners of the face-to-face critiques were announced. Each speaker chooses two manuscripts from their selections and those lucky souls get to sit down and discuss their writing for ten whole, uninterrupted minutes. I had not one, but two separate manuscripts chosen.

That was a first.

I was beyond thrilled, beyond honored. (Thankfully I was not beyond speech.)

The two speakers who chose my MG and YA manuscripts were both so fantastic. They gave me insightful suggestions that fit right along my vision for each story – neither thought I had to scrap the entire thing a rewrite either as, say, a paranormal/historical dystopian/time-travel piece. I can’t wait to get back to revising. Is it any wonder I had such a hard time concentrating on the rest of the conference? Once I made my way back into the main room, I did my best to stay focused. The speakers were all so brilliant, so diverse and amazing. It was just an all-around wonderful day. A recap of the rest of the conference will be coming later this week.

For now, let’s take the final look at this month’s #writemotivation goals:

  1. Make progress on new YA project (Pretty Vacant) including plotting out new story arc and starting on first draft with word count goal of 30K. I fell short by 10K, but this story did get off to a good start. I’m happy with the progress made.
  2. Submit first YA manuscript to at least 15 agents. Only sent out to about one-third. Lame, lame, lame.
  3. Read at least 6 books this month. Done! By the skin of my teeth. (That is a weird saying.) Good thing I brought some more books home from the conference; I was almost out – ha ha ha! I can’t even say that with a straight face.
  4. Get back into exercise routine slowly – at least three times week. No comment. (I did dance on stage during the conference while killing time before a bit, but I’m not sure that really counts. And sorry for those who saw that. For some reason, having my back turned made me think I was invisible.)

I hope you all had a productive March.

I am one of the few NOT participating in the A to Z challenge during April. (A themed blog post every day all month long? Those guys are crazy.) I will however, be setting more #writemotivation goals since I have some serious (and exciting) work to do.

If you want to join in all the fun, pop on over and sign up for #WriteMotivation April! 

March #writemotivation Bring on the Spring!

writemotivation_header1

Why did mention that I was feeling about 65% back to normal  – ALMOST FREAKING HEALTHY!!! – on my last #writemotivation check in? It must’ve sounded too much like a brag or something because the gods of health decided to slap me with one more wave of the sickness. Of the dreaded sinus infection variety.

Blech!

Oh yeah, but they couldn’t let me be completely done with that lingering cough that kept me from ever getting a good night’s sleep. You know, the one that started at the beginning of February? So the was fun. Brain exploding with sinus pain while still coughing until I wanted to take a power drill to my head and open up some breathing holes. I am so done with coughing, sneezing, aching, etc. I think I’ve eaten my own body weight in cough drops this year already. I loathe the taste of tea and honey after the oceans I’ve consumed. I’ve blown through so many boxes of tissues I should replant a small forest on the next Earth Day to decrease my carbon footprint.

Godfather Gif

This week, I’m throwing caution to the wind and stating that I’m over the worst of everything. I may have sacrificed a pomegranate in the light of a full moon while singing a medley of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus tunes. I think that appeased the gods of health. Either that, or they were afraid I’d sing again. Either way, my voice has finally returned to normal and I haven’t had to take any cold medication for several days. No more Emma Stone voice, but I’m grateful that things can start returning to normal.

This month always brings so much more promise. March, don’t tell February, but I like you more. Our SCBWI OK spring conference is at the end of the month and it’s always fantastic. This year it’s in Oklahoma City so I get to run away from home for the weekend and spend it with my favorite writing friends. It’ll be a smorgasbord of literary goodness and I can’t wait to gorge myself.

In the midst of all this healing and fruit sacrificing, I have finally been able to get back to the work of writing and related things. Let’s take a look at this month’s goals to see the damage progress made thus far.

Here are my #writemotivation goals:

  1. Make progress on new YA project (Pretty Vacant) including plotting out new story arc and starting on first draft with word count goal of 30K. The smallest of starts, but progress has begun. I am so excited about this project, I can’t even tell you. The only hint I’ll give this early is that it will deal with gender politics and the riot grrrl movement.
  2. Submit first YA manuscript to at least 15 agents. Two is better than zero but far from my goal. Need to ramp this up next week with more submissions sent out.
  3. Read at least 6 books this month. (I’m a little behind on my yearly reading goal already!) Three books finished already and another one halfway done. Looks like IMG_20140315_221040there’s one goal I will actually make. What’s really surprising is I just finished reading my first YA book of the year, and it was phenomenal. WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson. It was a little more special because it was my copy I had autographed in LA this past summer. I love Laurie Halse Anderson and not just because she write so damn well.
  4. Get back into exercise routine slowly – at least three times week. This was the most painful goal to accomplish. After not exercising for over a month, I did manage  to go for a walk three times. My pace was horribly slow, and I felt like death after the first two times, but goal accomplished. yay. (hack, pant, moan.) I have no idea when I’ll even attempt to get back on the elliptical.

How are your goals coming along this month?

Do you have any exciting spring break/writing conference plans in your immediate future?

February #writemotivation week 4

writemotivation_header1

I am almost glad this is the shortest month of the year so I can put it firmly behind me and start over in March. Speaking of which, it’s not too late to sign up for next month and participate in this great gang of writerly support yourself.

(Just click here. You’ll be glad you did.)

I remain on the road to recovery and I am feeling a good 65% back to normal. I still sound like Emma Stone after a hangover, but my voice is improving a little bit every day. One thing it’s easy for me to do right now is fake a dramatic cry, which I find hilarious. My voice breaks so easily and I sound just like a dramatic teen having an emotional outburst (I’ve seen a few so I know what they look like). Any time my husband says they didn’t have something I needed at the store or we’re out of orange juice, I just collapse my face and wail. “But whhhy? You don’t love me, that’s why!” Or some insane, illogical outpouring. It’s quite an impressive cacophony of sadness that one might almost believe if I didn’t crack up laughing in the middle of it.

Yes, I am emotionally immature, especially when I’m sick. You’d think after the first five or six times I’d stop finding this funny, but no. My husband just sighs and let’s me have my moment. He totally gets me.

On to the #writemotivation goals:

  1. Plot out new story arc for Amazing New YA project (PV), flesh out characters, and then start writing out first draft. Stretch Goal: Make past the halfway mark or 40,000K words, whichever comes first. As I said last week, I’ve put this on pause and I’m moving this to March. Manuscript request trumps new project. Almost done so I should return to this soon.
  2. Prepare conference critique submissions and send off. Done! One goal accomplished during this chaotic month is nothing to sneeze, hack, or cough at. Taking it as a win.
  3. Submit completed manuscript(s) to five agents a week. Look! A dinosaur! (Man, that used to work on my kids all the time.) Moving this goal to March.
  4. Read 4 books. Stretch goal: read 7. Might eek by with 3 books (if one is a picture book) by the end of the month.

Even though the timing was terrible, I’m really enjoying my new job with the Autism Center of Tulsa. It’s really busy at the moment with launching the new website and the big autism walk coming up. I do have to learn how to balance my schedule again. I feel like there are so many possibilities coming around the corner, I just have to stay focused on the goals. That’s what you lovely people are here to help me do, stay focused! Let’s have a great month in March!

February #writemotivation week 3, Post 1 (I think that says it all)

writemotivation_header1If you read my last post you’ll know I’ve been slowly recovering from the flu. I have literally been sick this entire month. I am sick to death of being sick. I’ve coughed so much that I’ve damaged my vocal chords and I have no voice to speak of. I’m sure it’s temporary, but it makes it very inconvenient when I’m trying to rant in traffic at the chaotic drivers only to have my ire come out like a squeaky toy mouse. Kind of takes the punch out of my road rage. Probably for the best.

As you all may know, life doesn’t slow down for illnesses, and some very interesting things have happened to me during my quarantine. I was offered a job out of the blue and I received a full manuscript request from an agent.

The job is mostly part-time for the Autism Center of Tulsa, which is a fantastic organization run by two great women I’ve known for a long time. The work will be helping out with their website and later on maybe branching out with some other social media work. So far, it’s been really fun, but time consuming, especially trying to cram work time in while running a fever and hacking my brains out. Thankfully, they are really flexible and very understanding.

The manuscript request is going to effect my initial goals this month, as this will now be my first priority. Since I am no longer hopped up on cough medicine, I can focus on the agent’s suggested edits. I want to get a thoroughly polished draft out to her as soon as possible.

Here were my #writemotivation goals for February before life intervened:

  1. Plot out new story arc for Amazing New YA project (PV), flesh out characters, and then start writing out first draft. Stretch Goal: Make past the halfway mark or 40,000K words, whichever comes first. This will have to wait until after I make revisions to my YA manuscript for the agent. I may get to this before the end of the month, but it may have to wait for March.
  2. Prepare conference critique submissions and send off. Done! Luckily I did eek this out before the deadline last week. Most of the work was done before I fell ill, which really helped.
  3. Submit completed manuscript(s) to five agents a week. I have not sent anything out this month due to my altered mental state and poor physical health. I hope to work on this goal this week.
  4. Read 4 books. Stretch goal: read 7. Sad, sad progress. One book so far this month. Pitiful! I have picked up a new book since I started feeling better. Maybe I’ll get through two books this week.

Can you believe it’s already time to sign up for March? GAH!!!

I hope you’ve made more progress on your goals this month than I have. And as a public service message, don’t be like me; please get your flu shot. Today. Trust me, you don’t want this year’s bug; it is just awful. Take care, my fellow writers, and keep writing!

Post NaNo Blues and How I Conquered the Turkey

Anyone else having a bit of trouble adjusting to life after NaNo? I find myself a little directionless without the ticking clock of the relentless NaNoWriMo countdown to face each morning. My pace has slowed to a crawl without the timed writing sprints to look forward to. Now that I’m responsible for my own motivation, I’m finding myself to be a less than ideal coach. Hey, there’s snow outside and Christmas decorations to put up and gifts to buy.

Distractions, distractions, distractions!

This much snow meant we were snowbound.
This much snow meant we were snowbound.
Great time to decorate the tree.
Great time to decorate the tree.
Perfect weather for cozying up next to a fire.
Perfect weather for cozying up next to a fire.

Maybe we all deserve a little downtime after the craziness of last month.

Here’s a wrap up of last month’s #writemotivation /NaNo goals:

1. Survive, nay, WIN NaNoWriMo.  I did survive NaNo, and even though I didn’t officially win it, I feel like I made great progress on my new project. I wrote a little over 25K words and have about 100 pages of a new manuscript to work with that I didn’t have at the beginning of the month. ALL WITHOUT EDITING.That in itself is a major accomplishment for me.
2. Attend at least three NaNo Write-Ins and take some dares. Goal made. This is what helped me make the most progress in my opinion. I loved the write-ins and meeting so many new writers. And all the dares worked into my project really well. Even the bonus Dr. Who one. 🙂
3. Before Nano starts and maybe even into the first week, prep some posts for the month. I did better with this at the beginning of the month than the end. Still, I plan on using this more in the future. One thing this NaNo has really taught me is how to be more disciplined. 
4. Try to look up every once in awhile and acknowledge family’s presence. Goal accomplished more days than not. There were a few where I failed to shower or make dinner, but I did peek out of my writer’s cave every day and spend some time with the most important people in my life. They love me even when I’m stinky and half-crazed from too much caffeine and when I’m ranting like a lunatic because I can’t make my story work out right, so I have to give them credit where its due.

One day I really tried to spend some quality time with my family was on Thanksgiving.

In support of my writing schedule and because he loves to cook (and I do not) my husband took on most of the burden of preparing our family feast. There was a lot of chopping and simmering that i steered clear of. My husband even did some fancy thing with the stuffing, using cornbread and wild rice that needed to soak in buttermilk like twenty-four hours before. I stayed out of the way in my office, working on my NaNo project, happy as could be. It was also in the middle of birthday week for me, which meant I could ask for special favors from my loving family members, smile at them and then scream at the top of my lungs, “Birthday week!” and they would have to do said task for me. (I love birthday week.) We came up with this a few years ago because my birthday always falls around Thanksgiving and we never really get a chance to celebrate it by itself. Now having a special week every year where I get to boss everyone around is the best gift of all. My birthday actually feels like a celebration. So imagine my surprise when on the evening before Thanksgiving, in the middle of all of these amazing preparations, my husband  turns to me and says that everything is ready to go. “All you have to do is cook the turkey.” I stared at him blankly.

“What?” I’m thinking, isn’t that like the main part of the meal? What did he mean by telling me at the last minute that I was responsible for the biggest part of the dinner? He did remember how much I hated cooking.

“No big deal, just toss it in a roasting bag and pop it in the oven.”

I thought about calling birthday week on that one, but my husband had to work. He wouldn’t be around to cook the damned thing. I think he planned this surprise attack beautifully.

“Sure. Okay.”

Besides, I could do it. I’d made a turkey maybe twice before in my life. Like eight years ago. After all, he was just making all this really fancy stuff, so what if I  just tossed a dry hunk of dead bird on the table as my contribution. How bad could I screw it up? I put my head between my knees to keep from hyperventilating.

After having bad dreams of naked, headless turkey carcasses chasing me, I woke in a panic. I couldn’t just throw the bird in the bag after my husband had worked so hard on everything else. I wouldn’t bring down this holiday. I started with some research. I searched the internet for some sage advice. I needed a great turkey recipe to save the day. What I found were a lot of complicated or even weird ideas. One said I’d need to brine my turkey before cooking it – no time for that! One sounded really tasty, but it would take over nine hours and I didn’t have half of the ingredients. Arg! Then I saw several links telling me I could just pop the damned thing in the dishwasher, and it would be done in an hour and a half. Really? I was sorely tempted by this point, although after reading the fine print, I learned I’d have to carve it up, wrap it in plastic, then broil it in the oven to brown it after it was finished cooking in the dishwasher. No real shortcut after all.

In the end, I found this lovely recipe by Gordon Ramsey that was very doable as I had all the ingredients and I could watch the video. Repeatedly. Rewinding every five seconds and taking notes like a crazy person. And it included bacon. Who doesn’t love bacon? I did have to rub down the turkey with a lemon and parsley butter, which was so not my favorite thing, but the smell was divine once it started cooking. It turned out great in record time. The bird was delicious.

Bacon Turkey

I decided that this is the only way to cook bacon from now on; on a turkey, basted in lemon parsley butter for several hours. And my turkey stood up to my husband’s fancified dishes like they were made for each other.

This experience was a little like my NaNo experience as a whole. Some panic, some experimentation, stretching my limits, and learning that I can do more than I thought I could once I pushed myself past my comfort zone. And I ended up with something pretty cool that I made myself.

Week 2 of NaNo and I’m Still Alive – The Dog, Well That’s a Different Story

Okay, Okay, he’s alive.

I didn’t mean to make you worry.

It was touch and go for a few days. Honest.

Stormy, our six year-old rescue lab got sick for the first time since ever. He went down for the count in the middle of a hectic week, filled with NaNo and evening plans, school and work, family life bustling all around. It took us all a good twenty-four hours to realize the big guy was just lying there – not moving, not eating, not drinking. He’d stopped barking at the neighborhood kids, the postal worker, the squirrels, the wind blowing in the trees. He’d stopped greeting us at the door with more barking.

It was the silence that alerted us to his condition. That and when my daughter tried to take him for a walk, the usually bouncy, barky dog couldn’t even make it down the driveway.

Then we noticed he wasn’t eating either.

No fluids in or out.

Nothing.

After day two, we really began to panic. And we were wracked with guilt for not noticing sooner and for not knowing what to do. First thing I’ll tell you is the viral email about giving a cat a pill I read years ago is ten times funnier now that I’ve tried to give our dog pain medicine. He wouldn’t take it no matter how we disguised it. Even with peanut butter – and that dog loves peanut butter. Everything we tried went down, but that damn pill always came back up. My daughter and I were covered in dog drool and fur when we finally smashed the pill up and gave it to him in some water. We maybe got a fourth of the medicine down him. Who knows if it made him feel any better.

We read everything online we could and kept trying to feed him and give him water. He’d take a few laps out of a cup if it was put to his lips, but not enough to get him back on his feet. (He was probably a little leery of taking water from us after the medicine trick from the day before.) He peed once, but according to my husband the nurse, it was a very unhealthy dark color. I took his word for it. No, I didn’t need to see it. (He captured some just in case. Nurses are weird.)

We even started an IV on him on day three. Okay, my husband did. After he watched a video on YouTube (you can really find out how to do almost anything on there). For my part, I closed my eyes and held him down, being the good, yet squeamish assistant. Stormy laid still like a good dog. He didn’t even whine after the initial stick. (Yes, Tim, you’re awesome. You can stick anything. Again, nurses are weird.) After getting a fourth of the bag in, Stormy sat up abruptly – the most activity we’d seen in days – and promptly pulled the IV out of his leg. It was a start, but we were done with that line of therapy. There was no way we were doing that again. Because I said so. The nurse probably would have tried again. Stormy seemed to do better for awhile. He moved around and drank some more out of the cup. Then he stopped moving and drinking again.

Still no good pee came.

Later in the day, we made him some chicken and rice. He ate that up. He was on the mend. Water and food intake shot up, although we had to hand feed him. For the next few days, he only drank out of a cup if we brought it to him and only ate if we made him chicken and rice and laid it at his feet. (I was beginning to feel we were being snookered.)

By day five, he peed a good strong stream and we all cheered. (Yes, it really takes so little to make us happy.) He even ran to the door when our daughter came home from school. We knew then he’d be okay. And that the little bugger could drink out of his bowl, again.

Yesterday, he barked like mad when my husband came home and I forgot how nice and quiet it had been while he was sick. I also realized how much his illness had affected all of us. I didn’t write as much during the second half of the week, more preoccupied with Stormy than my story. (I’m always complaining that my dogs are underfoot  – even now they surround my desk while I write – I’m in danger of stepping on one of them whenever I get up and I’ve rolled over an ear or tail more times than I care to remember.) My husband called me several times while working, not to check on me or the kids, but to check on our ailing dog. Both of our kids tried to comfort Stormy and snuggled with him on the floor or brought him water.

I know we’re all glad to have him back to his bouncy, barky self.

Stormy several years ago showing off his creative side and as always under my feet.
Stormy several years ago showing off his creative side and as always under my feet.

Let’s talk about weekly goals now that my head’s back in the game.

photograph by Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. httpwww.flickr.comphotossahlgoodeHere are my #writemotivation /NaNo goals for this month:

1. Survive, nay, WIN NaNoWriMo. (I will finish a first draft this year. I WILL!) I broke through the ceiling of the 10K mark and that felt so amazing. I’m a little behind right now, but with everyone in good health and after talking through some of my plot points with my husband this weekend on a nice long walk, I’m ready for round two. Bring it, NaNo!
2. Attend at least three NaNo Write-Ins and take some dares. I didn’t attend any write-ins this week because of sick puppy and husband’s work schedule, but this week shouldn’t be a problem. And I will be taking another dare. I double-dog dare you to take one, too.
3. Before Nano starts and maybe even into the first week, prep some posts for the month. I did get some posts pre-scheduled and this made life so much easier. This is my new favorite thing to do. If I don’t watch out, I may become…ORGANIZED! ACK!
4. Try to look up every once in awhile and acknowledge family’s presence. Family took precedent over writing many times this week, if you count Stormy, which I think you all can tell, I do. (I spent time with the younglings and my husband, too. But I didn’t hand-feed them.)
2013-Participant-Facebook-Profile

I know some people have already finished – insane! – and some are ready to give up because life or their project is too overwhelming/not working out right now, which is okay, too. I’ve given up a few times, myself. This is a very personal/individual thing with a community of support to drive you on, no matter how your NaNo goes.

How’s your NaNo going?