5 Facts About Nutmeg

5 Facts About Nutmeg

Today marks the two month anniversary of my adopting Nutmeg. To commemorate the occasion I’ve decided to share five facts about my furry little friend.

 

1. She tricked me into

adopting her.

Remember this? I do…

 

The cat I brought home from the shelter was cuddly and subdued. She curled into my neck and purred constantly. Little did I know this was not her natural state. In actuality, she was sick and didn’t feel well. A round of antibiotics later I was suddenly faced with this crazy, energetic kitten constantly staring at me and waiting for me to entertain her.

 

2. She doesn’t play by herself.

 

I have bought dozens of toys of all kinds and Nutmeg has laughed in the face of 99% of them. I consider it a win if she half-heartedly bats at a toy. The only thing she really loves is Da Bird, which requires me to wave a stick around for hours a day. She will occasionally play with her own bird (I bought refills and let her have the old one) but for the most part it’s all on me.

Those cute little websites that say you just need to play with cats for 15 minutes twice a day? THEY LIE.

 

Yes, I bought her a toy that waves the feather around for me. I’m tired!

 

3. She hates wet food.

 

I was so ready to spoil her. I went out and bought a bunch of different grain free wet foods and the first time I served one she tried to BURY it. She barely even sniffed the food I so lovingly provided for her. Cheeky little brat. I have discovered she likes boiled chicken so it looks like she’ll be getting homemade food eventually. (because wet food is so much better for cats and she’s totally spoiled.)

 

4. She loves water.

 

You gonna turn this on?

 

When we brought Nutmeg home my mother said we were not going to teach her to drink out of the faucet. She was just going to drink out of a bowl. Guess who was the first person to carry her to the counter and offer water?

She’s not picky either. She happily accepts tub water upstairs and still drains her water dish daily. This is one cat who will never be dehydrated.

 

Of course I’m not going to leave wet paw prints on your pillow after this.

5. She’s a climber.

 

 

Mr Muggles never climbed anything, so I wasn’t quite prepared for a cat whose skills rival mountain goats. She can scale window frames. I was out on the porch one day and looked over to find her in the window, all paws extended like a suction cup Garfield.

(I wasn’t witness to it, but apparently there was also an incident involving a bug and the screen door.)

 

Bonus Fact: She’s very patient.

 

Unlike other cats who meow and climb on you and generally beg for attention, Nutmeg takes a much more passive approach. Instead, she sits in front of me patiently and stares until I notice her and give her what she wants (usually food or to play). I’ve seen her do it for a half hour straight, barely blinking.

 

I’m waiting.

 

So, that’s my Nutmeg. She’s getting more chill by the day and has already gained a little weight because I buy her the yummy food. And, I suspect, to fit in with the rest of the house.

 

 

Tell me about your pets! Cats, dogs, rodents, whatever. What kind of odd behaviors/habits do they have? I’d love to hear your stories!

 

 

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10 Beginning Nanowrimo Tips From a 12 Time Veteran

 

(*Nanowrimo stands for National Novel Writing Month. Click here to read more!)

The first year I participated in Nanowrimo I failed spectacularly.

Actually, what I did was quit before the first week was over, with less than two thousand words written. I never touched that novel again (it was a cool idea, I should dust it off one of these days!).

The next year was 2005. I managed to finish on the very last day, just barely squeaking over the 50k mark. It changed my life. Since then I have participated every year but one. Twelve times in total, winning 10 of those 12 years. Last year I stopped at 40k when my mom had surgery the last week of November, choosing sanity over the last ten thousand words.

Every year I try to recruit more writers in participating in the month-long writing marathon. (Come on, you know you want to. All the cool kids are doing it!) So I thought I’d share my top 10 tips for success.

1. Read No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty
(Not an affiliate link, I just love this book!)

After my disastrous first year, I knew something had to change for me to actually make it to 50k. So I bought Chris Baty’s book (he’s the founder of Nanowrimo!). It’s basically a week by week guide to a 4 week first draft, teaching you how to let go and ride the roller coaster that is National Novel Writing Month. If the thought of writing 50k in a month is paralyzing, this is the book for you. (If you regularly write 2-3k every day, you can skip this step. Actually, why are you even here? You’ve obviously found something that works for you!)

 

2. Turn off your internal editor.

When I read Chris Baty’s book, this was a revolutionary idea for me. You know that annoying little voice in the back of your head telling you to delete adverbs and to stop writing this scene because it won’t make it into the final draft? That’s your internal editor. In November and all of my first drafts, I lock that annoying little whiner in the basement of my brain and do what I want.

Don’t worry, you’re not being mean. You can leave her food and water. But she can’t come out until December. There’s no place for her during Nanowrimo.

Your job is to write, not write well. Get the words down on the page and worry about how they sound later. It’s all fixable, as long as you have a draft to fix.

 

3. Commit.

If you’re feeling wishy-washy about this whole idea, it’s likely you won’t finish. Let’s face it, most of us need to see the word DEADLINE approaching fast to actually get anything done. (I hate all of you who can’t relate.)

If you want to do this, commit. Commit to yourself. Tell your family and friends. Don’t leave an easy way out. Bribe yourself if necessary. (There’s an entire awesome shop full of Nanowrimo swag. My first year I bought a t-shirt. I wore it until it was nearly translucent.)

 

4. Write what you’re most excited about.

If you’re like me, you don’t just have one story you want to tell. It’s likely there are several hanging around, just waiting to be pulled off the back burner and worked on. Forget what you should be working on. Pick the idea you’re the most excited about and use that as your project. If you’re excited about your novel you’re more likely to finish it than give up at the first sign of difficulty.

 

5. Put off anything unnecessary (but nothing necessary).

I know November is a busy month for many, because of the approaching holiday season and those pesky families expecting attention. Try to put off anything you don’t HAVE TO do. Stock up on prepared meals and coffee. Buy some extra underwear to avoid doing laundry. Plan to be less social. (Nanowrimo is a great excuse to avoid people. Use it!)

Save your energy for writing and for the most important things in your life. Don’t quit your job and release your children into the wild to fend for themselves. Those are necessities. (And don’t come crying to me when you’re broke and the kids are scratching at the back door.)

 

6. Stockpile words when you can.

Those first few days of any project are always the most magical. This novel is amazing! There’s so much you want to do with it! I could write forever!

Week two that feeling is starting to wane and by week three you’re wondering why you ever started writing something so stupid.

Take advantage of those early days when the writing seems effortless. Build up a buffer of words for when you can’t find them later on. You’ll thank me later.

 

7. Take a day off if you need, but never take off two.

Going along with the previous tip, at some point during the month you are going to need a break. Don’t take one until you absolutely need it, but also don’t feel guilty. We all need a break from time to time.

The key is to try* and not take more than one day off. One of the reasons Nanowrimo works is because you never have time to leave the story. Any more than one day and I start forgetting my characters. I lose the momentum of what I’d previously written. It’s easier to keep going than to start up again.

*Confession: I don’t always listen to this rule. That’s why I say try. Just like I say I’m trying to eat more vegetables. 😂

 

8. Connect with the community.

One of the many reasons I love Nanowrimo is the sense of community. All during the month there are thousands of writers filling the forums, sharing everything from writing dares, stories of success(or failure), and even offers of help with research from experts in certain subjects.

Join in. Make new friends. Participate in word wars. Ride the wave of other’s excitement and use it to keep excited.

 

9. Skip scenes and use placeholders.

Speed is the name of the game during Nanowrimo. If you’re stuck on a difficult scene, or just don’t feel like writing one, throw in a place marker (”insert scene where we figure out that big plot point I still haven’t figured out yet”) and move on.

This also works for names you’ve forgotten and facts you aren’t sure about. Example: my early drafts are often littered with things like “WHATEVERHERLASTNAMEIS” and “PICKANANIMALTHATWORKS”. Stuff like that. Don’t get caught up in the details.

 

10. Just keep going, no matter what.

There will be days when you want to quit. (And just feel normal for a bit. No wait, that’s a song…) You will want to heave your laptop out the window and forget all about this crazy novel writing thing. You’ll be tired and stressed and completely out of ideas.

JUST KEEP GOING. Write absolute nonsense. Do crazy things just to get your word count up. Use the replace-all feature to give all your characters names like Billy Joe and Becky Sue for a few extra words. My first year I got desperate and got rid of contractions.

Do whatever it takes to get those words down on the page. Remember, they don’t have to be great. They don’t even have to be good. But they do have to EXIST and I promise you there will be gems mixed into the mess that you couldn’t have gotten otherwise.

Bonus:
11. Ignore everything I’ve said.

Just like writing the rest of the year, take all my advice with a grain of salt. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. HAVE FUN! Consider it an adventure. I personally think every writer should try Nanowrimo at least once, but it’s okay if it isn’t for you. It’s okay if you can’t write 50k. Every word you wrote got you one word closer to your goal and that should be applauded.

Are you planning on participating in Nanowrimo this year? Did you find any of my tips helpful? Do you disagree with any of them? Please do share in the comments.

 

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2 Times My Characters Took Over

Easily my favorite part of writing is when things happen I didn’t plan. I’m writing away, typing fast, and all of a sudden I’m staring at the page in surprise. I didn’t plan that. I never knew it about the character.

I’ve read of authors who insist that you not let your characters do this. They believe you must be in control at all times.

I disagree. Strongly. Those moments where the unexpected happen are what bring your characters to life. It makes them real, and it’s an amazing feeling.

 

 

I thought I’d share two such moments from my current work in progress, Running Away. They are actually two of my favorite scenes in the novel and were instrumental in helping me realize where edits would have to take place.

This first example is a conversation between brothers Clarke and Zack. Clarke is a young widower with a young daughter. Becka, who has been living with them and taking care of his daughter, was recently rushed to the hospital with pregnancy complications.

 

“Whoa, wait a minute.” Zack stopped him with a hand on his chest. “Clarke, you gotta talk to me.”

“About what?” Clarke practically radiated with excess energy as he paused.

“About why you’re freaking out like this.” Zack stared him down. “What’s going on?”

Clarke looked away from him. “I couldn’t get the door open,” he said finally.

Zack waited patiently for him to continue.

“I couldn’t get the door open and I couldn’t find the little thing to pop the lock and so I tried ramming it with my shoulders like they do on TV because I heard her fall and she wasn’t answering me.” His chest rose up and down as he breathed heavily. “And when it finally opened she was lying on the floor and there was blood on her jeans and-”

Zack put his hand on Clarke’s arm. “I know it must have been scary.”

Clarke took a deep breath. “I haven’t felt like that since I identified Arianna’s body at the morgue after her accident. I thought she was dead.”

“But she wasn’t,” Zack reminded him.

“Yeah but by the time I realized that I thought the baby was…” Clarke leaned his head back and Zack realized he actually had tears in his eyes.

“Clarke,” Zack murmured, shocked at the raw emotion written across his brother’s face. He’d never seen him cry before, not even when Arianna died.

“When we were first married Arianna got pregnant.” Clarke let out a gasp of air. “I wanted to tell everyone but she wanted to wait. We were just getting ready to tell everyone and the baby was gone” His jaw tightened. “I never thought I’d have to take another bleeding woman to the hospital again.”

 

I think I was as shocked as Zack was when Clarke told him about the miscarriage. I’ve worked on this novel on and off for years and a previous miscarriage was never even considered. But it made so much sense! Of course Clarke was freaking out. He’d done that in previous drafts and I finally knew why.

 

 

The second example takes place at a family cookout. Clarke and Zack have four older sisters and Becka was meeting one of them for the first time. (Well, she was supposed to be meeting her for the first time. I found out later I’d mentioned another meeting which will be deleted in edits. Oops!)

 

“Becka, this is my daughter Allison and her husband Paul.” Ellen gestured to an elegantly dressed woman with pale blond hair styled perfectly in a gentle bob right at her chin. Her blue eyes were clear and piercing and when she raised her chin Becka was unsurprised to see a strand of what looked like real pearls around her neck.

“Hello,” Allison said coolly, her voice filled with self-assurance that Becka suspected she would never feel herself. Allison held out a perfectly manicured hand for Becka to shake.

Gina bumped into the back of Becka’s legs which was the nudge she needed to step forward and place her decidedly not manicured hand in Allison’s. Allison just barely clasped her hand and moved it in a gentle up and down motion before withdrawing and placing her hand back in her lap.

The regal woman wearing creamy white slacks and a fuzzy pale pink sweater gestured to twin blond girls sitting politely at her feet, each sporting impeccably neat twin french braids. “These are my daughters Angela and Amanda, but we call them Angie and Manda.”

Becka smiled at the girls, who smiled politely back but looked uninterested in the newcomer.

Allison next turned to the toddler who was trying to squirm off of his father’s lap. “And this is our son Adam.”

Adam looked like he belonged in an entirely different family. His head was full of riotous coppery curls and his jeans were worn around the knees. The button up blue striped shirt his mother had likely pressed neatly before dressing him was half untucked and thoroughly wrinkled. He finally succeeded in getting off of his father’s lap and tumbled onto the floor, climbing to his feet and shaking ginger curls out of his eyes.

“Hi,” he said, looking up at Becka.

“Hi, Adam,” she responded, smiling down at the little boy who had already wormed a tiny bit into her heart.

“I’m not Adam, I’m Batman!” The little boy announced, climbing to his feet and running out of the room with his arms out as if he were flying.

 

Allison is not a new character. Neither are her children. But I had no idea just how prissy she was until this scene.

And Adam! This red headed hellion spring fully formed out of my fingers and straight into the page. I adore him, and I’m going to have to find a way to use him in future novels because he’s just awesome.

One extra Allison moment just because I love it:

 

When baby Justin made it extremely clear to anyone with ears that he wanted his dinner, Claire casually sat down on the other side of Becka and tugged her shirt down to feed her son.

Out of the corner of her eye, Becka watched Allison take a double look and then elbow her husband until he averted his eyes.

“I swear I don’t know how she managed to get pregnant twice,” Claire muttered under her breath, clearly having seen what had just happened. “She was a really fun kid, I don’t know how she got so uptight.”

Becka snorted.

Justin let go of his mother’s breast with a loud pop and leaned his head back to grin at Becka.

She couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up, both from the grinning baby next to her and the completely appalled expression on Allison’s face from across the room.

“Come on munchkin,” Claire said, coaxing her son to return to his meal, “let’s not give Auntie Allison an aneurysm.”

 

(My niece did that once, stop eating to smile at me, and it completely melted my heart.)

 

So, there are two examples of times when my characters completely surprised me. Does this ever happen to you? Do you enjoy it or do you chastise them and put them back where they’re supposed to be? I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Am I Depressed or Just Lazy?

Lazy photo
Photo by clofresh

I spend half my life trying to decide if I’m tired depressed or just lazy. Do I just want to watch five more episodes of Criminal Minds today or is it because I really can’t drag myself off the couch? Or is it because I had a busy day yesterday? Am I just being lazy?

These are the questions that swirl around my head on any given day. Depression has so many physical symptoms, like extreme tiredness and exhaustion, that I can’t always tell what’s making me feel this way.

I spent about 3-5 years clinically depressed in my late twenties. When I finally figured out what was going on and added medication accordingly, it had been going on for so long I’d lost my “normal”. Two and a half years later, I’m still trying to find it.

I’m not cured, so the depression does crop up from time to time. It pokes it’s nasty little head up at the most unexpected times, knocking me off my feet and back into the dark pit I lived in for so long. The difference being that I can climb back out much faster now. Despite that, it’s not always easy to return to where you left off.

I want to do more. I want to write every day. I want to keep my bathroom as clean as I keep Nutmeg’s litter box. I want to update this blog twice a week and my fanfiction on Fridays and finally get Running Away edited enough for publication. I want all these things and I want them yesterday.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. That oppressive feeling sits on my chest and everything just seems so HARD. I look around and everyone else with mental health issues seems to be achieving so much more and I feel guilty, like I’m not taking advantage of the time and freedom I have to pursue what makes me happy. But it doesn’t always make me happy. And I can’t control that.

Some people find they write better when they are having a “bad brain day”, as one of my friends calls it. Maybe I would, if I could just get that laptop open and my fingers on the keys.

Of course, at least one person reading this is thinking, “hello! You’re writing right now!” and you have a point anonymous person. I am writing. Because no matter what, the words are inside me. They burst out when I least expect it. Sentences appear fully formed in my brain and I have to write them down before the brain fog makes me forget.

I want to be better. One of the cruel tricks Depression plays is convincing you that you’re just being lazy. Because when you’re slogging your way through the sludge that your brain has become you really need to be told that it’s all in your head.

I promise that I do fight it, lest you think I’m just slipping away. I’ve been working on a story bible for Running Away (future blog entry on the process when I’m finished). A little bit at a time. Just five minutes a day if it’s all I can handle. It helps me feel better and I’m starting to get excited about it.

I’m hanging on, guys. I’m slowly pulling myself up but it’s my broken brain that gets to pick the timetable. I just get to hold on and stay ready to seize the moments of motivation and joy that will ultimately come my way.

How is everyone else doing? Anyone else struggling? Mental health, writing, life in general, I’d love to hear from you whatever the subject.

Keep turtling on.

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I’m Happy Again (here’s why!)

 

First of all, this is a totally sappy and self-indulgent entry about my new kitty, so plan accordingly. It’s full of pictures and obnoxiously cute captions and I’M JUST GETTING THIS OUT OF MY SYSTEM, OKAY? Onto the entry:

Shortly before I started this blog my cat of nine years, Mr. Muggles, died suddenly.

Maybe a week old here. I watched him grow up with his siblings before I taking him home.

I was heartbroken. We’d had no warning.  He got sick one day, we took him to the vet, and the next day he was gone. I had no idea losing at pet would affect me that much. I remember crying when I realized I was going to have to update the about section because it mentioned him.

I changed it to mention his memory b/c I couldn’t bear to erase him completely.

I’ve been really depressed ever since. It’s affected everything in my life, especially my writing. I knew I didn’t want to live without a feline in my life, but I had to put it off, first because my parents were both grieving too, and then because my nephew’s wedding was coming up and we were going to be gone several weekends.

Then this week I decided to just go to a shelter and take a look. There didn’t seem to be many kitties available at the local shelters, but there was one or two listed online that looked promising.

I didn’t really expect to find a cat that day. I hoped, I really hoped, but I thought it might take a few visits to find just the right kitty for us.

That morning, two eight-month old kittens had come up for adoption. Their owner was moving and couldn’t take them with her and they’d both just been spayed. Another person was in the kitty room playing with them.

They were cute, but I was more interested in Patches, a beautiful gray adult. Truthfully, I only played with the kittens because I was too shy to ask to take a different cat out. I figured I’d work up to it eventually, but until then I’d just enjoy being around them.

I was starting to get braver and I reached out to scoop up one of the kittens. I wasn’t even sure which one I’d grabbed, the shy one, or the outgoing one. Providing she didn’t freak out, I was going to give her a snuggle and tuck her back into her cage so I could take someone else out.

Sure, just lay there. It’s super comfortable for me.

To my surprise, she didn’t protest being held at all. Instead, she leaned into me, purring up a storm. After a few minutes, she climbed onto my shoulder. I thought she wanted to get down, but instead, she just laid down (or tried too, she really isn’t little enough to nap on shoulders anymore).

Ignore me. I look terrible here.
She just curled up and fell asleep.

I think I knew the second I picked her up. As much as we loved Mr. Muggles, he was a very difficult cat. He was affectionate, but only on his terms and quite frankly if he’d ever been in a shelter I don’t think he would have gotten adopted. He had too many behavioral issues. We had to be so careful when people came over, we never knew when he was going to lash out.

It was immediately evident that this kitten was the polar opposite of Mr. Muggles. She just wanted to purr and be held. She curled up in the crook of my arm and melted my heart. When I finally put her down, she came over to my chair and stared up at me, waiting until I picked her back up so she could snuggle some more.

I think it was obvious to everyone that I’d found my kitty. I wish I could have taken her sister too, but it was evident that they weren’t particularly bonded so I didn’t have to feel too guilty.

She’s a girl, she totally needed this collar.

We picked her up the next day and brought her home. I’d planned on keeping her in my bedroom for a few days while she got used to things, but by the second day it was clear she was fine and we let her out to roam. She follows me around the house all day and she loves to be scooped up and snuggled.  I’m loving every second.

Just snuggling her mommy. (yes, I’m one of those people)

The whole experience has been so healing. I don’t know how I survived being without a cat as long as I did. I had no idea just how important being a cat owner had become to my mental health. (That will be a future blog entry, I’m sure.)

I’m still a nervous wreck, despite not being a first-time kitty mama. I’ve spent a lot of time on Google (Is she peeing enough? How much should I be feeding her?) and worrying about squishing her (she weighs seven pounds, less than half what Mr. Muggles did).

I have a kitty again. And she’s the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time. It’s been exactly a week since I met her and I’m already having trouble remembering what it was like without her.

Everything about her is dainty, even her tongue.

Meet Nutmeg. If you follow me on social media, you’ve already seen her and know just how besotted I am, but this is her official blog debut. Expect to see much more of her in the future.

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How to Write When You’re Depressed

No really, does anyone know?

If you came here looking for answers, you’re probably going to be disappointed. I’m not sure there are any answers. Depression is a terrible creature. It rears it’s head at the most random moments, leaving you with a terrible feeling of inertia that’s almost impossible to explain, even for a writer.

I guess it all depends on how depressed you are. Is it depression with a little d or Depression with a capital D? If it’s the latter, reading a blog entry or trying to psych yourself up probably won’t do anything. Then there’s situation depression vs chemical depression. Each requires different approaches, many requiring professional help. (Seriously, don’t suffer alone. Get help. There are so many places that can help you. No one should have to go through depression alone.)

Today I wanted to write. I really did. I’ve been busy with stuff related to a family wedding (congrats Cal and Amberlyn!) but now that it’s over with I finally have the time and brainpower to write.

But I couldn’t. It really is the weirdest thing. I know what I want to do, I know what I want to write, but somehow I just can’t make myself pick up my laptop. It’s right there but my body doesn’t listen to my brain and I just CAN’T.

Today I didn’t write. Sometimes it’s better to recognize the feelings and give yourself permission to just take care of yourself. I went on Twitter. I talked to my mom. I identified today’s depression as situational (I miss having a cat) and took a step to change that situation (I put in an application for adoption at a shelter. Don’t tell my dad!).

I even did something writing related. I picked out a notebook to make a ‘story bible’ of sorts in. I looked at articles I’d saved on Pinterest and made a list of things I want to include. I made a list of characters that need profiles or short bios (Dang this book has a lot of characters).

After all that, I felt a little better. I decided to write the blog entry I’d jotted down an idea for earlier. I’m ignoring my perfectionist side and posting this without a fancy graphic or making sure I share with every social media page I have. I’m just putting the words out there and maybe I’ll come back later and do the rest.

I don’t know how to write when you’re depressed. I don’t know how to write when you aren’t. All I know is what I do and whether or not it worked for me on any given day.

Do you suffer from depression? Or any mental illness really? How does it impact your writing life? Is there anything that helps you when you’re having a bad day? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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This is why I don’t people…

(Disclaimer: If none of this makes sense, I blame the cold medication.)

I went out and peopled and came home sick. (see? People are bad.) Not very sick, but sick enough. Sick enough to be exhausted and miserable but not sick enough to get sympathy. Just a general bleh. It’s been a week now and it still hasn’t gone away.

I haven’t felt up to writing, so I’m probably not going to make my 10k Camp Nanowrimo goal. I’m okay with that. I’ve mentally written a few scenes and at least know how my story is going to end.

Just to add insult to injury, I have an eye infection. I caught it early so hopefully it will be gone by Saturday, when I have a family wedding to attend. And for fun I forgot to take my pills yesterday so I spent a long morning anxious and twitchy, waiting for the withdrawals to go away.

I really hate weddings. I love my nephew, but I hate weddings. All the details have kept things busy this summer and I’m looking forward to it being over. I’m super anxious that I’m not going to feel better. Or that I’ll have a red swollen bump on my eye that will get immortalized in family photos.

I’m fairly certain I’m not making a lot of sense right now. This is why I haven’t been writing. Or blogging. I keep thinking of stuff I need to do, but then it either floats out of my head or I’m too tired to do it.
I do have writing plans. I want to finish my prequel of course, but I’ve also realized I need to do some backwards plotting. I need to re-read my novel and fill out a notebook with character details, events in order, ect.

But my brain is shot and I’m feeling very sorry for myself right now. So instead of doing that, or preparing for the trip this weekend, I’m going to read fanfiction and/or binge watch Psych.

Oh! Wait, one cool thing did happen. I reached 500 Twitter followers! *throws confetti* I have no idea how that happened. Wasn’t it just yesterday I got to 100? I love that there are that many people in the world interested in my rambles and talking with me about writing. So a very special thank you to each and every one of my followers. May that many people someday read this blog.

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I saved Tom’s life today

I saved a baby robin’s life today.

Actually, it was a fledgling. Big enough to get kicked out of the nest but still can’t quite fly. It’s mostly a lot of flapping and hopping.

We have an old cast iron tub on our porch that we put plants in. It has a wooden pallet cut to fit inside so the plants are raised about six inches off the ground. One of the plants is a small catnip I got to plant when we finally bury Mr. Muggles ashes. It keeps getting knocked over by wind and rain.

And boy have we had a lot of rain. This morning we had another rainstorm, the kind that pounds on the windows and makes it near impossible to hear anything else. Then it stopped as suddenly as it started and the sun came out. 

I stepped out onto the porch to right the catnip pot. I heard splashing coming from under the plants. I thought maybe there was a frog or something inside so I peered between the leaves.

It wasn’t a frog. It was a very scared, very stuck, baby robin. I moved two of the plants to get a better look. There was about 3 inches or so of water in the bottom (the drain had gotten clogged during the storm) and this little guy was flapping and hopping as hard as he could.

He couldn’t gain purchase on the smooth sides of the tub. I was a little afraid he might scratch me, but I couldn’t leave him there so I reached inside and closed his little body in my hand.

I lifted him out and he immediately stopped struggling. I looked him over a bit to make sure he hadn’t gotten hurt while he was flailing about. He appeared fine so I set him down on the porch.

The poor little guy curled up on himself and stood still, except for the shivering. He made no effort to move, even let me stroke his little head without budging.

I saw the shadow of a few adult robins flying around so I went inside to see if his parents were going to come around. But right before that, I took a couple pictures of him. (I named him Tom)

After a little while, one of his parents came by and fed him a worm. Then another. And then another. He moved around a little and stopped shivering. Then he pooped, so clearly his digestive system was working properly.

As time passed, his feathers dried out and he appeared to fall asleep. His parents kept returning with food and he continued defecating all over our porch.

It’s been a couple hours and the last time I looked outside he’d finally moved. He was standing at the edge of the porch, next to the wisteria, likely working up the strength and courage to hop onto the vine and make his way in the world.

And he pooped again.

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Why I Medicate My Mental Illness

Why I Medicate My Mental Illness*

pills photo
Photo by .v1ctor Casale.

Every morning I take four pills. Three for Anxiety and one for Depression. I’ve been taking the first three for nearly a decade. I have no plans to stop.

Medication for mental illness is a hot button subject. Everyone has an opinion, including people who have no experience with which to form said opinion. Some are for it, some against it, and some think it only should be used in the direst situations. 

I, for one, am pro-medication. That doesn’t mean I’m a pill pusher, or that I think it’s the answer for everyone. It just means it’s worked well for me and I would never advise someone to avoid it.

A year or so before my seventeenth birthday I had finally hit bottom. The anxiety disorder I didn’t know I had had been stalking me for over a year, manifesting in near constant nausea and the inability to focus on anything but the unpleasant physical sensations that were plaguing me. I followed my mother around the house, terrified to be alone. At that point, it was obvious something needed to change.

My doctor prescribed Paxil. It was new to the market, the new miracle anti-depressant. I was so convinced there was something physically wrong with me that I agreed to medication without even realizing what it was for. It wasn’t until I left that I realized she had prescribed me something for my anxiety.

Paxil was like a miracle to me. Within a month not only had I been pulled out of the deep hole I’d been living in, but I felt better than I ever had in my life.

Suddenly, my whole life made sense. All those little eccentricities I had as a kid? Anxiety. The strange fears that cropped up? Anxiety. The way I’d never been able to handle anyone being angry at me? Anxiety.

I remained happily on Paxil for a few years until the side effects prompted me to find an alternative. On the second try, we found one that worked for me nearly as well as Paxil had.

I take that medication to this day, along with the two others that were added over the years (if you’re looking back at the first paragraph and wondering if one of the side effects is losing the ability to do basic math, I take four pills but only three medications. Two pills are the same drug.).

I am one of the lucky ones, someone who responds well to most medications. They don’t cure me, they don’t change me, they just give me the ability to get up in the morning and be me, not Anxiety.

I will take these pills for the rest of my life if I need to, the same way my father will likely take heart medication for the rest of his life.

And I will never be ashamed.

 

*in addition to therapy, which is an integral part of treating mental illness. I’m very lucky to have found a great one. (Hi Julie!)

 

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Camp Nanowrimo 2017 Day 1

In addition to the regular Nanowrimo even in November, there is Camp Nanowrimo in April and July. I didn’t participate in April, but my fellow #TurtleWriters on Twitter convinced me to join them in July.

Camp Nanowrimo is different from the regular event in several ways. You get to set your own goal (go ahead, set it as low as you want and rejoice in meeting your goals!), you can revise, write short stories, nonfiction, ect, and you can join a cabin.

The Cabin features is possibly my favorite part. You can join a random cabin or choose one filled with friends or people with similar interests. (I’m in the #TurtleWriters cabin this year) The cabin is basically a chat section where you can cheer on your fellow cabin mates and complain about how behind you are.

If you already knew all this, I apologize. Thought I’d sum it up for my family/friends dutifully following this blog so I’m not talking to myself.

I was originally going to work on a detailed outline for my Untitled Mystery Series so I’d be well-prepared for November, but a few days ago I got a better idea.

My novel Running Away is about a widower raising a little girl. I’ve been trying to motivate myself to return to this novel and get started on revisions. I thought a good way to do that would be to write a short story, a prequel, something I can share for free and (hopefully) build interest for the upcoming novel. The prequel will explore Clarke’s first days after he loses his wife and the support his large family gives him while he struggles with the sudden single parenting of an infant.

father photo

My goal is 10,000 words, but I’m going to go where the characters take me. If I feel the story has been told before then, I’ll move on to one of my many unfinished projects or try to stockpile some blog entries for when I’m feeling uninspired.

All blog entries this month will include my current word count and a short update on my progress.

Day 1: 1,124 words.

Are you participating in Camp Nanowrimo? What are your goals and what are you working on?

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