Monday, March 30, 2015

Back to life, back to the blog-os-phere

I'm working on another book. For anyone keeping track, I've got five written and only one of those edited. And last week, after years of pondering how to tell a certain story close to my heart, I had an idea for a storyline and began typing away at night after everyone's gone to bed.

It usually takes me months to pump out a book, which is usually around 70,000 words. In three nights, I managed to write 26,000 words. Not only that, but I find myself not wanting to stop clicking my fingers on the keyboard when my alarm finally notifies me that I better head to bed or the next day could be extremely long.

I love all my stories, I really do. There have been some ideas I've had where, after a bit of typing, I'm not feeling it and abandon it altogether. And then there are others like these that I absolutely fall in love with and cannot wait to get all of the feelings out on paper. Especially when it's an important story to me.

All of my stories have a history rooted in my life. Sure, the ideas and plots are pretty far fetched from anything that's actually happened in my life because drama and storyline is what you read a book for. But if you look closely enough at my books, you'll see that the people, places, and some of the plot are part of who I am and important people, places, and things in my life.

Take my book "The Touch" for instance. AJ is the lead character, and his name basically stands for "All J's", or all my J's, meaning Jaime, Jake, Joel, and Jose - dear friends of mine, and a husband too! The character is comprised of bits and pieces of all of them - both what I love about them and what drives me crazy about them. The grandparent figures, Helen and Matthew, have a root in my life. Helen is based off of my mom's eight best friends who are like mothers to me, and the advice they pass down - the name is even one of theirs. And Matthew is after my great-Uncle, with the name of my big brother who died right after he was born. There are more instances of my life in the books, but I'll leave it to your imagination to figure it out ;) The series definitely has some basis off people I've known, loved, and perhaps even disliked, from my teenager years on up. But other than what's above, I'm not spilling ;)

I've read that some writers don't include anything personal in their books, but I don't know if I could do that. My characters and settings all carry a part of me with them, and I do put my heart and soul into these books. Of course, not every plotline stems from real life. While I'm working on a book about bikers, I don't think my suburban, baseball and ballet chauffeuring mommy self has really experienced any of the crazy shenanigans in the book. Some of the stories are just fun.

Some of what I write is healing for me, a chance to share something I've been through without saying it out loud, if that makes sense. That's what happens in one scene in "The Vengeance". I have the opportunity to say what I need to say and find a way to make my character come out stronger on the other side, and that's an amazing feeling.

This book about love that I'm working on now as well is one that holds a special place in my heart. It contains a lot of things I wish I could have said. The character faces many of the same choices I have and in some cases, makes the same decision while in others, chooses the path that perhaps I should have taken at the time. The actual plotline, well, that's definitely a bit more dramatic than anything that has actually happened in my life (and thanks to my husbands willingness to pretend to be a character while I drop a literary plot bomb on him, has a GREAT twist in it). It holds, however, an opportunity for me to say some things I've never said and make some amends I've never made, even if the person the amends are for would never even know it's for them. That's the wonderful thing about writing; you take your life and your decisions and your own story and build that into your work to create pieces that are important to you.

So, if you ever pick up a copy of one of my books and think you get a quick glance at yourself from the words popping out on the page, you might be right.

Or wrong. 

Either way, I hope it's fun for you to wonder - because it was certainly fun to write!

Happy writing all!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mom x2

This May, my mom will have been gone 10 years. The feeling of never having a mother again to talk to and spend time with after she died was daunting; I was a few months pregnant and lost.

What my 35 year old self would tell my 25 year old self is that yes, the loss of my mom was painful and an incredible loss of a woman whose shoes no one else could fill quite the same. Yet I'd also tell her that in some entirely lucky twist of fate, she'd end up with the most wonderful mother-in-law. I mean, the type of mother-in-law whose awesomeness would earn her the next step up from an Emmy.

Let me just start with this little ditty: Hubs and I had been together less than a year. It was our first Christmas together; the first one I'd spend with his family. I had just bought a house that year and like any 22-year-old, had nothing. I had actually just moved my television off the two chairs I was using as a makeshift television stand and put them on a new one hubs-to-be-someday had built for me. She hands me this big box while everyone is opening gifts and as I tear the paper off, I see an entire kitchen pan set.

A nice kitchen pan set. "You need pans for your new house," she smiled. She'd known me for awhile, but only shortly as her son's girlfriend. I was floored. That was a huge gift. That's who she is (not the big gift thing, the giving thing). She is constantly thinking about others, about how she can help, about what she can do.

My mother-in-law - we'll call her R - has not had it easy, that's for sure. Just a few months after losing her own mother, she was taking on a grieving and pregnant-future-daughter-in-law.

Before her grandson was born, she basically took on two-grandma's worth of responsibilities and love. She planned a beautiful shower for her son and this soon-to-be-mama while knowing no matter how much I loved the shower, a part of my heart would be aching for my mom to be there. And this was key: R never shied away from talking about her like others did. She often said how proud my mom would be of my son and of us as parents; that meant so much to me. 

When her grandson was born, she brought me Taco Bell at the hospital. That's right - Taco Bell. And she was at our house for three days after we got home, taking care of the baby while I got some sleep, cooking, cleaning - you name it, she was doing it. I would go lay down and think to myself, "Geez, I hope I can be half the woman she is. She makes this whole raising a family and being a parent thing look easy. She raised three of these crying, non-sleeping little peanuts and she still manages to do this!" (I still think that same thing many times a week!) And I was so grateful for her being there. I would have loved for my mom to be there too, of course, but what I needed was a mom - and she was that for me. Not an easy task, I'm sure, trying to navigate grandma-dom and probably worrying about if her daughter-in-law is just wishing it were her mom there instead. But she handled it so gracefully!

She'd keep the baby overnight once every couple weeks so hubs and I could go out or go sleep. I know from watching my nephew now (and not even overnight yet) that taking on a newborn when you haven't had one in awhile is a challenge. One you love, but yes, a challenge! God bless her for the sleepless nights and diaper changes she handled so we could have a break.

When kid #2 came along, hubs and I couldn't agree on a name. All we knew is it had to flow with his mom's name, which would be baby's middle name, no question. She has never missed a holiday, school event, or party. She comes to more than her fair share of sports games and recitals. She never misses a birthday, even when we have forgotten hers in the chaos of kids' activities. She picks up the kids when school gets out early, she cooks them their favorite meals. We went on a road trip to Nashville and had the best time. I could talk to her for hours on end about everything and anything, and often times we do. I love being around her.

This poor woman ran half a mile in the freezing sleet/rain to catch a train to take her granddaughter to the American Girl Doll store appointment this past winter. When I said we would never make it due to construction and my poor timing, she said, oh yes we will! Literally ran. Did I mention the sleet and rain? Yeah. She. Is. Awesome. 

R retired last year and, though she should be out enjoying her retirement, she still helps us tremendously with getting the kids to and from practices, games, dance along with father-in-law. I called her last week in tears, asking if she could get the kids because I had just left the dentist in excruciating pain and was heading to get an emergency root canal. In her typical, take-charge fashion, she told me to go where I needed to go, she would assign awesome father-in-law to get the kids, and she would be at the endo/perio as soon as she could to be with me. When I said she didn't have to do that, she said, "I know I don't. I want to."

And she did. She was there some twenty minutes later, waiting patiently in the waiting room. 

My mom never really liked my boyfriends throughout college. That's actually an understatement. When she met Jaime, she adored him - well before we were dating. She would talk about how nice he was, and how well dressed, and how he obviously came from a good family because he was always kind and respectful. She was right, more so than perhaps she knew. I don't think I could have picked two better women to have as role models. If I can be half the mother they each are, I will have done a pretty good job.

So, I'd tell that twenty-five-year-old self who fears that she will never know a mother's love again: you are wrong. Very, very wrong. You will, and it will come in the most amazing, just-over-five-foot package that contains all the happiness, fiesty-ness, love and friendship you thought you'd miss out on. She has been a mother-in-law, grandma, mother, friend, and more over the past 10 years. She is beautiful and smart, and I can't help but smile when I see her fiesty-ness come out because I love that about her, too. 

We are so very blessed to have her in my life, and I hope she truly knows that. I don't think there are words that can adequately express how appreciated she is. Love you, R!


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