Why Turtles All the Way Down Was Really Hard For Me to Read

I’m not a rabid John Green fan. I like his books, but I wasn’t waiting with bated breath for his next novel.

Until I heard it was about mental illness.

After reading a short interview with the author, I opened up Amazon and pre-ordered myself a copy of Turtles All the Way Down.

The package came right on the day of release. The dust jacket was colorful and coated in something soft that made it impossible not to pet. I eagerly anticipated cracking it open.

The next day I did. I was immediately sucked into the story, into the journey of Aza and Daisy and Davis. But after reading about a third of the book, I had to put it down.

You see, reading this book was hard. Not because it was boring or pretentious, but because it was real.

I not only read but FELT Aza’s pain. My stomach twisted in knots as she worried away at the callous on her finger until it bled, feeling the pain of myself picking at hangnails and my lips in such a similar way. My eyes filled with tears as she isolated herself, both literally and figuratively, from her family and friends.

My fears are not Aza’s fears. But intrusive thoughts? I’m no stranger to them. I know what it’s like to have your brain take one passing thought and send it down a twisted path so fast you get mental whiplash. I know what it’s like to yell at yourself but be unable to listen to your own good advice. I know what it’s like to be so involved in what’s going on in your own brain that you can barely see what’s going on around you.

John Green has stated that he also suffers from Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He clearly poured himself into this book. He took his own fears and thoughts and applied them to Aza in a way that explains them better than any other book I’ve come across.

Turtles All the Way Down was an amazing book, beautiful and touching and honest.

But it was really hard for me to read.

Have you read Turtles All the Way Down? Do you intend to? Did you like it? Have you read other books about characters with mental illness that were difficult to read? I’d love to hear your thoughts, whether or not you suffer from mental illness also. 

 

Continue Reading

Beautiful Books Link-up: My 2017 Nanowrimo Novel Fear Itself

(I’ve never tried a blog link-up before so if I do this wrong you can either let me know or shake your head and giggle. I’m okay with either.)

 

So, because this sounded like fun and Cait (paperfury.com) is awesome, I decided to join the Beautiful Books blog link-up and introduce the novel I’m writing for Nanowrimo!

Onto the Questions!

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

 

Like many of my novels, the idea came from two separate ideas that begged to be merged together: I should write a cozy mystery and people never write realistic books about mental illness recovery. (as in it doesn’t happen in the course of a single book!)

I’ve been thinking about this idea for several months. I’ve known a few basics about the plot, and that I want it to be a mystery series where I slowly progress the characters.

 

 

2. Describe what your novel is about!

 

Basically, it’s about a former NYPD cop named Meg who witnessed a traumatic event and subsequently ended up with PTSD and Agoraphobia. She hasn’t left her apartment building in almost a year but the new owner is threatening her home and she can’t have that. The entire novel takes place in her apartment building.

I actually wrote a blurb for my Nano page, so here’s that too:

Agoraphobic former NYPD cop Meg McGill just wants to be left alone. Her family thinks she just needs to “get over” her PTSD, her former partner wants her to come back to work, her psychiatrist won’t stop calling, and now the guy who just moved in down the hall wants her help.
Sebastian Reid can’t shake off his suspensions that something wasn’t altogether natural about his uncle’s death. He needs help and all his neighbors tell him to talk to Meg. Now if he can just get her to answer the door…

 

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

 



 

 

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

Meg: Meg is in complete denial about her mental health. She’s totally fine! So what if she doesn’t leave the building? She can get anything she needs delivered and her best friends live upstairs. She’s a little prickly, but if she’s always willing to help a friend and has a weakness for fluffy things.

Enter Sebastian: Sebastian is a precious little cinnamon bun. He’s the kind of guy that you just want to pinch his cheeks all the time. He’s a trust fund baby that works at a non-profit animal shelter part time and has fluffy blonde ringlets. You just can’t help but like him.

There’s also Mac, Meg’s former partner who is now in a wheelchair, his wife Sonia, Meg’s best friend, and their daughter Cora who is probably Meg’s favorite person in the world. Not to mention my favorite building resident Jean, a hoarder with a cat named Gulliver who regularly steals newspapers from the trash room and knows everything that goes on in the building.

 

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, ect?)

 

I try to learn as much about my characters as possible before November hits and do ALL THE RESEARCH. I’m filling up a binder with information so I will always have things to look at when I get stuck and am trying to plot out the mystery at least somewhat so it will look like I know what I’m doing.

 

6. What are you looking forward to about this novel?

 

I’m really excited to try writing a real mystery (I don’t count the one I did years ago, it was really terrible). I’m also really excited about my characters and seeing them come alive on the page. They’ve become so real to me and I just can’t wait to spend time with them.

This is also the first time I’ve written something completely new in a few years. Two of the past three years for Nanowrimo I’ve focused on a novel I’ve been expanding for nearly fifteen years, so I know the characters and the general story like the back of my own hand.

Fear Itself is completely fresh. Every day I discover new things about the characters and the story. No matter how much planning I put in before November 1st, I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.

 

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

 

I feel like this applies more the fantasy/historical novels, but I’ll give it a try:

  1. My novel takes place in Brooklyn, NYC. Specifically the Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill area. (A million thanks to my good friend Christie for answering my endless questions about living in NYC and helping me decide on the exact correct place for Meg and Sebastian to live).
  2. Meg might spend most of her time in her apartment, but her colorful bohemian style and overloaded bookshelves make it anything but boring!
  3. The building’s residents are equally colorful and also the roof is an awesome place to hang out if you can’t sleep in the middle of the night.

 

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

 

Meg’s number one goal is to keep anything from getting in the way of her staying in her home. Sebastian wants to know what really happened to his uncle. Standing in both of their ways is Sebastian’s cousin Lloyd, who recently inherited the building, and the developers he wants to sell the building to.

Meg is also coming to terms with her past life. It’s her own brain that’s standing in her way, specifically her denial that there’s anything wrong with her.

 

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

 

Meg is forced to confront her agoraphobia and PTSD and admit that she is not okay. She needs help, and by the end of the novel she’s starting to be ready to accept it.

 

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

 

Themes include mental health stigma, making your own happiness, and not letting the past (or your family) define you. I’d like people to leave with a warm and fuzzy feeling, the sense that everyone’s going to be all right, and looking forward to seeing Meg and Sebastian again in the next book!

 

That’s it! The working title for my novel is Fear Itself, and you’ll find me typing away during the month of November. You can find me spending way too much time on Twitter and if you’re doing Nanowrimo too I’d love to be buddies with you! (My Nano Profile)

Are you doing Nanowrimo? Does Fear Itself sound like something you might enjoy reading? What are you writing? Talk to me my friends.

 

I now have a Mailing List! I’ve yet to send one out, but I’d love it if you subscribed. At max you’ll get 1-2 emails a month, talking about what’s been going on in my life and letting you know about recent updates to this blog. And when I write a short story for this blog, you’ll get to see it first, before it gets posted to the public! 


Subscribe to my mailing list!

* indicates required



Email Format



I’ve also recently figured out how to set up email alerts for new entries. If that’s something you’re interested in, you can find a link in the sidebar (or down below if you’re on your phone or tablet)

Continue Reading

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!

 

 

Continue Reading

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.

 

Continue Reading

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!

 

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading