Saturday, January 13, 2018

My Urban Elf

Hello everyone! 

I'm sure you've all heard me talk about the fantastic Miriam Neal on here before. She's the author of Monster, and Paper Crowns, and one of my top three bloggers. (She's right there with Pioneer Woman, guys. It's kind of a big deal) 
She's also one of those amazing people that accepts friend requests on Facebook. 
It turns out, besides being a master of snark and whimsy, a sorceress with words, a very complex theologian, and the possessor of a fabulous fashion sense, she's also a first rate artist. 

She's always drawing and painting things. She does character commissions for people, as well as draws her own characters, not to mention anyone/thing else that strikes her fancy. And she's dang good. 

She's awesome and sells them all too, and at pretty reasonable rates in my opinion. She puts a lot of work into those suckers. 

It's been my lifelong (or five year, whenever I started stalking her) dream to own a Mirriam Neal original. 

And now friends, I have done it. 

Behold, the urban elf.

When she put him up on Facebook I instantly fell in love. I always love her artwork but he was different.

He was The One. 

I had to have him. 

Mirriam was a doll and we worked out a deal, and he arrived in the mail today, and I've never been happier. 
Ok, TECHNICALLY I was happier when I got married and had Henry, but you get my point. 

I'm so excited to have him. Jarod totally does not get it. 

Now I just need to decide where to put him. Awesome as he is, he doesn't exactly match my cozy farmhouse vibe I've got going on here. 

I'm planning on building a library in the basement though. Maybe I'll hang him in there. Maybe I'll commission Mirriam to do several pieces for my library. It's quite possible I'm going to go broke. But who cares?  

I just feel like he needs a story written about him. 
Oh the possibilities.

Disclaimer: I did in fact use Mirriam's pictures of him from her Facebook, because she has a scanner and it picked up the details much better than my phone camera would. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018


I'm not bleeding 
I'm giving in 
My soul is empty 
A hollow din

Fought so hard 
It's all for naught
It's the end 
That's all I've got 

Broken, beaten 
Caving in 
You wanted to crack me
Ok you win 

Was all for you 
Wanted what's best 
Some things just 
Can't stand the test 

There's nothing left
I cannot be
The same old picture 
That once was me 

Fractured heart 
On broken glass
Maybe someday 
This ache will pass 

Betrayed, pushed out, 
Left alone 
You can't bleed
When you're stripped to bone 

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years Post Because It's What You Do

Hello Everyone! Happy New Year!
It’s that time of year again where I post my resolutions that I won’t do. But this year, I’m gonna try. As opposed to the other years, when I also tried.
Please don’t kill me.
Resolutions to be Broken or Not, by Yours Truly:
1.       Read the Bible more. I do this one every year, but I feel like it’s important. I feel like you can always read the Bible more. So I keep resolving to do so.
2.       Be a better wife, and as a result, a better mom. I feel like the last three months were jam packed with hard life lessons, and I’d like to apply them better in this new year and have a peaceful home, so that as Henry is getting older and starting to understand more, he doesn’t pick up on bad habits that I have, like talking disrespectfully to his dad, or getting angry first, etc.
3.       Stop eating sugar. This will probably be the hardest, but I have to do it. I’ve gotten down right chubby since having Henry. I was in pretty good shape after college, and then when I got my desk job I put on a few pounds, but nothing terrible. Then after Henry I lost almost all of the baby weight except about six pounds. Well, that six, plus what I gained from not working outside is quite enough and I’m sick of it. Last year, my sisters and dad didn’t eat any sugar other than once at thanksgiving and once at Christmas. None. They ate natural sugar like fruit, and they still ate ketchup even though it has sugar in it, but no candy, pop, bakes stuff, etc. And my sisters lots tons of weight. They’re by no means underweight, but they look great, and without a bit of exercise or cutting portions. I thought they were trim to begin with, so if they can lose weight at it, I definitely can.
4.       Keep writing. I finished 2017 strong, and I want to carry that momentum into this year. I want to
write new stories. And I want to write them well. I read a blog post the other day that said pantsers (which I am, I don’t plan stories out real well, just barely) tend to hate the editing process. Oh we don’t mind going through and fixing typo’s etc, but we don’t have the patience to sit and do a whole rewrite on a story that has loveable characters, but was wrote crappy because we thought we’d fix it later. Crappy stories stay crappy because I don’t have the energy to try and fix them. I don’t want to add any more crappy stories to my crappy story folder. So I want to write well the first time. It wont be perfect, but I want to do better.
5.       Rewrite those crappy stories. There are too many to do them all in one year. Not if I want to write new stories and stay sane. But I could get some done. And I want to. Because I love those characters, and I love their stories. I just didn’t know how to write them. Now I do.
6.       Query. I want to clean up my Guns story so it sparkles. I know it needs some work, but not a whole rewrite. I can get it shiny. And then I want to start querying agents. I’ve never done that before. I always said I was gonna. Thank God I didn’t, because it would have been for one of those crappy stories from the past, and I would have got rejected and would have been devastated and never written again.
7.       Self-publish. I submitted two stories to Rooglewood Press for their contest. In April we find out who won. If neither of them, or one of them, whichever, doesn’t win, I want to polish it up a bit, format it properly and upload it to Kindle. I’ve been researching a lot on kindle publishing, and while I would never publish a full length novel on kindle, but would rather try for traditional publishing, I don’t mind the idea of publishing novella and short story sized books on there, and just seeing if I can make a little at it. If I can make enough to pay for my paints, and the occasional candy bar, that’s all I’m asking for.
8.       Research Etsy and decide if I want to sell things on it. I’ve been toying with the idea, but haven’t really studied it out and decided what I would sell. Kinda gotta have merchandise if you want to have a store. It’s only logical.
9.       Tear apart lots of things, and build lots of things out of the tore apart stuff. Go thrifting. Go junking. Upcycle, and recycle, and refurbish, and learn how to do it all really well so it doesn’t look like a preschooler painted it.
10.   Cook lots of delicious new recipes instead of just pinning hundreds of them and making the same old meals.
So, that’s it! That’s my big plan! What’s yours? Do tell.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Stories for the New Year

Hello everyone!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was pretty fantastic, aside from a few minor incidents. Nothing too major. When you have annoying people in your life, annoying things happen, but nothing fantastic food, lively games, and some presents couldn’t smooth over.
Here, have some baby opening Christmas presents spam. I’ll wait.

Anyway, Now that January is trucking right into the lot, I’ve got a couple new story ideas brewing that I think are going to be swell, and I thought I’d share them with you. Do you mind?
Bad Boy:
That’s just a working title, and nowhere close to anything I would actually officially name a story. This idea sprung up from my love of bad characters that I shouldn’t love. And by bad, I mean morally deficient.
For example, Sebastian Monroe in the TV series (gone too soon, may it rest in peace) Revolution. The guy is evil. And at times he helps out the good guys, but he’s never truly good. He’s always got his own motives and schemes going, and we know it. The writers didn’t try to fool us into thinking he’d changed for the good. He was bad for all to see.
Or Four in Divergent. Now, he wasn’t morally deficient, but he was creepy. I was actually really disappointed in the second and third book how much he softened up. He was such a hardnose in the first one, and he absolutely terrified me, and then all that was stripped away and I was devastated.
Or Dally in The Outsiders. The book, not the movie. The movie didn’t do a dang thing for me. But in the book Dally is a bad kid. Like, pretty sure he’s killed people. Pretty sure he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. And he makes no bones about it. He’s a scary character, even though we like him.
What really sealed the deal for me on writing this story though is Six of Crows. Kaz Brecker is morally deficient and he’s frightening. And I LOVE him.
So, I created Brass. That’s not really his name, but it’s the only one you’re likely to get from him.
This story starts when the King of Khassan says that Brass is nothing more than a common criminal, and orders the Dukes to get him under control, as he’s been wreaking havoc hither and yon.
Brass takes that rather hard. No one calls him common. Of course he has to take that as a personal challenge, and sets out to kidnap the King’s daughter, Princess Tamille, just to show how common he is.
From there there’s a nice mix of plots. There’s a rebellion trying to form in the country, and the rebels leaders think someone like Brass is exactly what they need. But Brass isn’t exactly a shut up and follow orders type, and he’s too busy running his own web of destruction on the planet to be bothered by official rebellions. But then the rebels kidnap his princess, and he has to reassess his plans a bit.
It’s going to be delicious. I can’t wait. I’m really trying to go for that scary feeling. I want to make a reader feel guilty for liking this guy. *Evil laughter*
1886 Story:
Obviously, that’s not the title either. Cut me some slack.
When I was young, I read prairie romance novels. Not smutty romance novels, but stuff by Janette Oke, Hilda Stahl, and Diane Mills. Christian stories about women out in the west, and their families. I loved westerns (still do), but I wanted to read about girls, so that’s how I filled the need. Then I got out of that phase and read almost exclusively fantasy through my teen years. I hadn’t touched a prairie romance in many moons, when all the sudden this fall I got the itch. And I read like twelve of them, some new, some old.
And as I read them, I suddenly remembered why I had quit reading them during the crazy teen years.
1.       They preach.
2.       They’re cheesy. I’ve never met a man that sensitive, and when I did, he didn’t like women, just saying. Manly, sensitive guys exist, but not THAT sensitive. It’s just too much.
3.       The characters are perfect, or at least one of them is. Either the woman had a low life husband who wasn’t walking with the good Lord and she’s just praying for patience with him, or he was the perfect picture of a saint and she was a bit shadier.
4.       The conversion scene. Spare me.
5.       They preach.
6.       They’re unrealistic.
7.       They’re cheesy.
8.       They make a really big deal about these arranged marriages and mail order bride things where the couple gets married, and then he gallantly sleeps on the floor for six months. I could be wrong, (but I’m pretty sure I’m not, because I’ve read lots of real life diaries and biographies etc about people in those types of marriages) but I don’t think anybody was sleeping on the floor. They got married out of necessity and moved on with life. No big deal.
9.       Not everyone was in an arranged marriage. Out in the west men were a dime a dozen, but women were fewer. Women could essentially have their pick of the crop. It was the men who were more limited. If a girl didn’t like a guy, she didn’t have to marry him for fear of being a spinster forever. Some other guy would move right up in line and ask to court her instead.
So, as I mulled over these annoyances, but still loved the stories of women in the west, I decided I’d better take the expert advice and write the book I want to read.
Thus, I created Clara Parker, a young woman from Chicago, who after being repeatedly stalked and harassed by a reputable gentleman, answered a mail order bride ad in hopes of getting away. She travels to Wood River Centre Nebraska (which for you Nebraska peeps, is actually different from Wood River NE. Wood River Centre got renamed Shelton. Anyhoo) There she meets up with James Benton, a former Union soldier in the Civil War with a troubling secret in his past. After the war he moved out west to take advantage of the homestead act, and (like I said) there weren’t a whole lot of women to be had out there, and a lot of the men out east were gone after the war, so he sent out the ad.
After that there’s an awful lot of fun awkwardness as they try to get to know each other, and she tries to adjust to like if a sod house of all things. It’s all going splendidly, except for, Clara has a secret in her past too, and it won’t stay a secret for long.
So, that’s what I’ll be working on this new year. Well, technically, I’ve already started both of them, but I’ve only got a few thousand words down for each of them, so they’ll mostly be fresh projects come January.
What about you? Anything writerly on your agenda for the year? Who’s your favorite bad boy? What cliché’s do you want to kill? Hit me up with them!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

I've Waited 365 Days, So Let It Snow Baby, Let It Reindeer

Sometimes it's unclear if I'm the Grinch, or Max. 
This year I'm the Grinch. 
Just let me open presents already!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I Have Arrived

Hello guys! 

My mother in law was here for Thanksgiving, and she is an avid coffee drinker. 

Now I love coffee, capuchino, lattes, the whole works, but I'm one of those coffee people who can get by with instant coffee and some liquid creamer from Walmart. 

All that to say, I don't have a coffee pot, and all I had in the house was fake coffee. 

My mother in law will drink it, but it doesn't make her soul happy. 

So I took her to the Medina Street Vault, a coffee shop a friend of mine started, and we had real coffee. Only problem is, said Vault is half an hour away. And as much as I'd like to drive there every morning for a salted caramel iced vanilla latte, I can't. 

To cut to the chase, Karen in all her amazing mother in lawness got me a Keurig. Now she was rather upset because the "discreet packaging" said turquoise Keurig right on the side. 

Every time I drink a coffee in the morning though, I'm really glad I didn't have to wait for the surprise. 

It's really more of a mint blue color, which is fabulous. My whole kitchen is outfitted with mint blue. Mint blue makes my heart happy. 

So obviously I went to Walmart and got kpods, and then on to Hobby Lobby for some coffee decor. You know, and maybe a few other things. (That's one of my best friends there with Henry. I'm not sure why the cashier is looking like that....don't mind him)

And, viola.

I made a coffee bar. 

Now, not only does it taste good, it's aesthetically pleasing. 
I can now die happy. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas Spirit

Hello everyone!
We're about midway through December now, so I feel safe posting Christmassy type things
My mom was always super crafty when I was growing up (Still is, technically). She was always painting something, building, quilting, sewing, designing, etc. Now she mostly sticks to the sewing and quilting aspect, but still, very creative.
I always tried  to be creative, but it just...never worked. I don't know why. Probably because crazy pink and purple preteen and black and red angsty teenager doesn't turn out into gorgeous home décor.
Don't get me wrong, my bedroom was flippin' awesome. When I was little I had purple and white walls, and the coolest bedspread everywhere, and the whole thing coordinated in bright crazy colors.
And then it all got covered with 24 band and movie posters, plus a whole bunch of drawings, and it turned into a pretty sweet teenager room. But not a Better Homes and Garden's look, that's for sure.
But now, I have my own house. And I still have parts of it that wholeheartedly embrace my angst ridden love of bright crazy colors and bands that scream too much, but now I have a whole house to work with. I'm not confined to one room. So some of the house gets to look real spiffy.
And I can decorate for Christmas!
I spent about a week building and painting all of this stuff. Nap times are entirely too short when you're trying to work with power tools, let me tell ya.

The inside of the house didn't take nearly so long to decorate, and I thought I was done until I went to Hobby Lobby and found the most gorgeous mint blue glass balls that match my kitchen, so now I have to find where to put them, but other than that, we're ready for the big day.

I'm not like a fanatic about Christmas. I mean, I love it, but I have friends that are absolute fanatics. I've been getting snapchats of Christmas carols since before Halloween. That's just fanaticism.
But, I have started to allow my Christmas playlist some airtime, and these are my favorites.
They're oldies, but goodies.
 Minion One was awesome enough to take a family picture for us, and I made it into a Christmas card. It's up there at the top. So we sent Christmas cards to basically everyone. It was a big stack my friends. Christmas presents are all bought, and he ones that needed mailed are. The rest are in a pile in the basement in my Maddie Cave where no sane person would ever venture, therefore they are safe from discovery.
This year I believe we're gonna go to my mom and dad's house on Christmas day, or possibly Christmas eve, depending on schedules, and then my extended family gets together around New Years and calls it Christmas. I've got three baby second cousins that are pretty close to Henry in age, so that'll be really fun this year, since he's mobile now, he should hopefully have fun playing with them.

Fingers crossed on that one. The last time he met a cousin his age the cousin hit him on the head, stole his toy and crawled away. At which point Henry took in after him, yanked the toy back (he's kind of a little power house) and crawled away. They stayed away from each other after that. It was awkward.
What are you guys doing for Christmas? Let me know!