Snow Thank You, I’ll Pass…

(This was written a few days ago. The snow had just started to melt then had another thin layer added last night.)

Waupaca, a small town in central eastern Wisconsin, is currently a scene from a snow globe. And before you scoff and think ‘Well, it IS Wisconsin…’ I’m here to firmly inform you that this is NOT normal. This snow is early, and with it brings the 2 things I do NOT like about winter.

First off, I have to bring so many thiiiings with me in winter. In the summer, I can get away with a purse that can contain my wallet, phone, a pair of sunglasses and keys, unless I’m hitting a lake or something. I rarely bring a jacket, and certainly don’t bring anything else. This morning, to walk a half a block to work, I had a winter coat, scarf, beanie, and a bag with my work shoes so I could change out of my duck boots, on top of my normal purse that has my 2 writing journals, plus a copy of Wheel of Time. It was burdensome to say the least. No flip flops, no easy breezy tank tops.

Second, the pain. The last few weeks, as the cold set in, I’ve been inexplicably exhausted and in pain. Every once in a while, I can identify a trigger-dancing the night away, over use of a whisk (real example), being on my feet too long. But all too often, despite the benefits I receive from using CBD, my pain is random and totally unexplained. Yesterday, my right wrist was so sore, I could barely hold a pen, let alone my phone or lift anything heavy. Today, I was mostly fine until around 4, when my pinkies, of all things, started aching. Aching pinky fingers. What?? Also, has my right pinky always been that crooked? I don’t even know at this point. Winter normally is ache brings aches and pains, but this years seems worse, somehow.

Now, I don’t mean to sound like a Debbie Downer. I DO love snow. I love the look of the first footprints in a fresh field of snow. The sound of snow falling the woods. The look of Main Street before cars have sullied the snow. Oh, and when the lights are in the trees…heavenly! I just wish it didn’t hurt so much this year…

Face

Do I feel old
Or just like an old soul?
Are they character lines
Or am I worn?
Bumps and creases
And bags and shadows.
A face of a life lived-
Complicated
But full.
Having loved
And been hurt
And been held
And been sustained.
Lost and found and dropped and carried.
And now
I have this face.
Old
New every day
Me.

If you follow me on social media, or know me in real life, you k ow that this cold snap has been very painful for me.

I wrote this poem after I got home from seeing the local high school performance of “Mama Mia” then going to a local brewery with some girlfriends. I felt very drained indeed, but so glad that I had made the effort to go.

Sober-ish October and Writer’s Update

So, sorry about the radio silence. Between SAD kicking in, getting ready for our Day of the Dead celebration and a wild Fibro flare, I’ve not been keeping up with blogging OR writing. Teaches me to start a major creative undertaking during a weird month.

Anyway. Updates. You may know that I had undertaken Sober October. And I did it! Mostly. I’ll admit that I wasn’t 100% adult beverage free. But, I was still 100% sober. I never even tipped the scales at tipsy. I learned a LOT about myself. I know a month isn’t all that long of a time, and I wasn’t 100% perfect all of the time. But, it was definitely eye opening. The first week was stupidly hard. I might have cried on a certain Wednesday because I REALLY wanted wine. So, into the future I go with a few drops more of self knowledge, which never hurts.

And as to writing. Welp, I’ve done a LOT of thinking about my WIP. I’ve done VERY little actual writing. My goal of being ‘finished’ my rough draft by Thanksgiving is optimistic at best at this juncture. I could conceivably get to some amorphous level of finished by then, if I really push. So, push I will, dagg’um!

A cool thing i DID do (this morning…) was create mood boards for my 2 main character and one for them as a couple. What a mood board is in this context is basically just a collection of images that feel like your character or story. Could be images of people, scenery, a color scheme…it could really be anything! The only board I’m 100% down with is the one for Miranda. The other 2 need some work. I’ll share the board for Miranda because I just really, really like it, and maybe you will as well?

I’ll add that seeing the little girl in the lower left hand corner was a shock to my system, because I had never stopped to think of what Miranda might have looked like as a child in her training, and that is just spot on.

“Ah. there she is!”

I plan on posting more regularly, and so sorry for the lag.

Give my regards to the Executioner,

Mrs W

Silver and Gold

It’s often been said of me that I am a sensitive soul. This is not wrong. Indeed, this is quite correct. I mention this to preface my next statement- I have always felt like an outsider.

Maybe I’ve been perpetually over-sensitive to the moods and actions of others. (Empath much?) Maybe there really just is something about me that doesn’t make me part of the crowd.

For years I’ve found myself thinking “Ah! I’ve found my people!” only to find that there is some little angle or curve that makes me stick out. It started in kindergarten and 1st grade, where I felt constantly lost because of my dyslexia. I had known most of my class my whole life, as it was the school that all our older siblings had gone to. But actually being in school was the great divider.

After that, I was sent to a school specifically for dyslexics, and while it was (eventually) exactly what I needed, it was yet an other place where I didn’t quite fit in. While we weren’t destitute, and everyone else wasn’t loaded, there was a definite difference in economic status between myself and many of my classmates. Plus, we were a very devout Catholic family, and the only other devout families there were Jewish, which, while I then and still do find that faith beautiful, it was just another way that I was ‘other’.

I could go on- growing apart from my old school mates, going to a different high school than them, then feeling like a fish out of water in high school…-but just trust me that this is a theme.

As a child, I heard things like “make new friends but keep the old, for one is silver and the other’s gold”. This is a valid point. Friendships move and change. They ebb and flow like some great emotional river.

Another phrase I heard was “You need to be a friend to have a friend.” Now this one I take umbrage with, and this was the problem I always encountered. How many times can a person legitimately try with a person, or group of people, before they throw in the towel and just realize that they’ve been, I don’t even know what to call it as an adult…cut out? Frozen out? Dumped?

Do you say ‘it is what it is…’ and move on? Or is a person justified to be hurt? How does an adult handle this? Well, you take a deep breath, let it out, and just be grateful for whatever it was you had with these people. Do you let them back in if they come around again? Well, that’s up to you. There is a certain short lived sense of satisfaction in serving out that which you have been served, but it’s not exactly a healthy way to live your life.

So, sure. Feel that pain, then move on.

I’ve had to learn to not let it close or break my heart. I’m great, either way.

Give my regards to the executioner,

Mrs W

 

Words Words Words

I love to read. I love to write. The written word is a gateway to every world a person could ever want to travel to. My favorite things are well loved, reread books. So much so, that I’d rather go to a used book store and get a well loved book then one fresh off the presses.

But it hasn’t always been that way. You see, I’m dyslexic. I didn’t learn how to read at any functional level until I was 11. I very clearly remember looking at books and being so frustrated and embarrassed because I couldn’t figure them out. I remember crying to my mom, sobbing my little heart out, because words are EVERYWHERE. You can’t escape them.

Really think about this for a moment. Words are all around you. On businesses, road signs, product labels. There no way to avoid them in a modern, everyday life. And when you’re a little girl who feel nothing but frustration and shame when faced with words she can’t unravel…well, you can begin to understand what it feels like to be a child who struggles with reading. All this to say that, yes, the written word is very important to me.

The first full book I can recall reading is The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. Jordan’s books are ponderous tomes, and this one is as well. My brother picked it up on a rainy afternoon at a used bookshop in Bethany-or was it Rehoboth?-Beach. I couldn’t say what drove me towards that book, most likely proximity, but for better or worse, that book started a 20 year love affair with that series.

His world crafting haunts me. Have I thought “What would Jordan write?”? Sure I have. Add to this the that fact that I’ve met the books of Gabaldon and Rowling since then, both power houses in their own right, and well, I’ve set the bar pretty damn high for myself.

I want to write more. I feel like this topic deserve more, but, I’ve been sleeping horribly lately, and am in desperate need of what passes as a nap for me. SO, off to sleep I go!

Give my regards the the executioner,

Mrs W

Meet Miranda

In my first ‘new’ post, I gave the basic premise of my work in progress (WIP). My second post introduced you to me! Now I’d like to take this post to introduce you to my main character, Miranda Boxwood, by way of a little question and answer. Also, it’s #mcmonday (main character Monday) so, it’s as good a day as any!!

This is a purely selfish act on my part because having a character that started out as 100% YOU, a writer can get lazy and not try to develop that character any farther. This is becoming a problem for me right now because Miranda has evolved so far away from where she started-me dressed funny. I need to get to know her a little better, and I’m taking y’all along for the ride! Also, if any of my readers are also writers, maybe this will help you work on your MC or any character that you need to get to know a little better.

These questions are pretty simplistic. I’ve only given them a cursory glance, so I’ll be hashing out the answer in real time. Some have proven really really easy, some are proving harder. This is the first time I’ve tried to answer then ‘out loud’.

Hold on to yer butts…

  1. How old is Miranda?
    I started with a vague “my age”. My general age for her is 33. Enough time to have moved up the ranks a little, but not nearly enough.
  2. How was her childhood? Happy or unhappy? Why?
    She never fit in with the other girls. She would have much rather been riding and fighting with the boys than doing embroidery. So she did, and her parents were very permissive. Indeed, she made herself so annoying and miserable that her parents supported her joining The Institute (working name only. I hate it.), the Kingdom’s military program. She joined at 13.
  3. How have past relationships affected her current life?
    In terms of romantic relationships, she hasn’t had any. Being in an all boys institution, she had to guard VERY strongly against any type of gossip. She stayed away from boys in any romantic way. Indeed, she looks at men who may be attracted to her slightly askance. Much questioning of motives.
  4. What does she care about?
    Well, first off, she cares deeply about doing her job well and being a credit to the military. And then develops her love for David (working name. It needs to change, as that is my oldest brother’s name and writing romantic scenes where that name features prominently is *shiver*).
  5. What is she obsessed with?
    Obsessed? I don’t know? What is anyone obsessed with? I guess, if pressed, it would be her work in the military? Her job? She’s devoted her life to moving up the ranks. So. That I guess. Maybe proving her naysayers wrong?
  6. Biggest Fear?
    Disappointing the people who have supported her and fought for her throughout her life. She wasn’t just allowed into the Institute. There had only been one woman to attend before. All eyes are very much on her.
    More specific to the story, General Abernathy and the King.
  7. Best\Worst things to have ever happened to her?
    Best-getting into The Institute
    Worst-that time she almost died during the Battle of Knockburn. Big scars.
  8. Most embarrassing thing to ever happen to her?
    I’d say that everything that happens to her after she’s informed she’s getting promoted and a then gets engaged. Lot’s of active attention that she finds very uncomfortable. And she’s uncomfortable about the fact that talking about these 2 AMAZING things make her uncomfortable.
  9. Biggest secret.
    See? This is why these type of exercises are awesome! I had never thought of this element, but now my mental cogs are turning. What IS her big secret? oooh-hoho!! This could be juicy!!!
  10. One word to describe her?
    Determined.

I hope that didn’t just bore any of you to tears, because I found it very helpful! Will be doing this again for the love interest, altho maybe not on here.

Give my regard to the Executioner,

Mrs W

Nice to Meet You…er…Me

I’d hazard to say that most of my current readers are my friends from social media, but I did notice that I’ve acquired a few readers from the inner workings of WordPress. Welcome!! By way of introductions to you new folks, I’ve decided to do a “10 Things About Me” post. And let me tell you, for someone who is a rather open person, this was harder to plan than I would have thought.

So here follows 10 facts about me!!

  1. I’m happily married to my bearded mad man of a husband, John. We got married on a golf course towards the end of July of 2016. My one brother officiated and the other brother walked me down the aisle.
  2. I’m the (mostly) proud mom of 2 fur babies. A dog, Lillie Bear who I’ve had for upwards of 9 years, and a cat, Birdie, who was found on a (different from where we were married) golf course by a dear friend. I’d love to be a human mom, but, alas, it doesn’t seem to be in the cards for John and I just yet…but that’s a different post.
  3. I don’t know how to drive a car. I never learned. I never insisted that anyone teach me. Some people assume that it’s because I grew up in a city and never needed to. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. A driver’s license is just as useful in Baltimore as it is in Wisconsin. I don’t drive because I have pretty severe Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and while I can live day to day life pretty damn well, when it comes to driving…it’s a whole different ball of wax.
  4. I’ve been a legal resident of 4 different states. Maryland where i grew up, Florida, New Mexico and Wisconsin. I ended up leaving Florida and New Mexico within 6 months of changing my residency and it left me with a suspicion that becoming a resident of a place meant I would be destined to leave it. Seeing as I’ve been in Wisconsin coming up on 7 years, I think I’m safe.
  5. I am the youngest of 5 kids and the youngest of 36 first cousins. My late father was the youngest of 10, and all but one of them had children. 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins are infinite, I should imagine.
  6. I attended Baltimore School for the Arts as a theater major in high school . BSA is an magnet school for arts (theater, theater tech, visual arts, dance and music in all it’s varying wonder) in Baltimore City. This blurb is not nearly big enough to sing BSA’s praises. Perhaps I’ll post about it in the future! Keep your eyes peeled.
  7. My day job is a Sales Associate and general CBD bad ass at Your CBD Store Waupaca. I also run the social media for the store. Once again, this post isn’t big enough for all the passion I have for CBD, but I’m sure it’ll find its place in here eventually!
  8. My other job is baking once or twice a week at a local cafe, Little Fat Gretchen’s. I’m afraid my bakes are known for their overall yumminess, and not their beauty. I was a dishwasher there for 5 years before I gave that up due to Fibromyalgia.
  9. I’m a bald chick by choice. I had the sides of my head shaved for a long time, and I reached the point where I either had to start what was promising to be a horribly awkward growing out stage, or shave it all off and push the inevitable back a bit. I chose the latter. It’s been just over a year and I absolutely LOVE it!
  10. I’m currently in the middle of a Sober October and I’m slightly alarmed at how much I dislike it. Once again, that is fodder for another post.

So, that’s me with very, very limited context. I’ll share more as time goes by.

I’m planning on posting twice a week, Monday and Friday tentatively, alternating between slice of life and discussing my WIP. Thank you for reading, and if you’re someone who I don’t know in real life, please drop me a line to say hi!

Give my regards to the headsman,

Claire W

Slogging Away Through a Quasi-period Fantasy Piece with Romantic Overtones

In the last 2 months, I’ve started a campaign to get my life in functioning order before the ever looming threat of winter depression (I’m looking at you, Seasonal Affective Disorder) takes its yearly pound of flesh. This has mainly manifested itself in achievable short term goals divided between weekly and monthly, with the occasional daily goal throws in to kick the old anxiety into overdrive.

But there is one looming goal that has insinuated itself into nearly every aspect of my life- my work in progress. I am, fearfully and wonderfully, writing a book. And before you get too excited, I assure you that you personally know at very least 3 people who are writing books. Maybe more if you know people a lot of people.

I’m not finished. I’m not anywhere near being finished, but I’ve set myself a goal of my having my handwritten first draft done by Thanksgiving and sent to a friend to type up. I plan on being very anxious while it’s away.

I’m what is affectionately known as a Pantser. I’m writing, mostly, by the seat of my pants. While this isn’t entirely true, it’s the easiest way to describe my writing style.

There is no outline. No cute note cards or Post-It Notes with character names floating about their set course. Just a persistent daydream that needed to be written, and a few major events that are being strung together.

You may be wondering what inspired this venture. Well, like most things in my life, it started with a text message. I sent an identical text to 6 girlfriends, totally out of the blue, you know, as one does, and the reaction was positive across the board, with one friend going so far as to proclaim “You have to write this!”

The following is the wording of the text, only edited for 2 spelling errors and a curse word, because I need you to understand the nonsense I put my friends threw-

“So i have this recurring fantasy. Since I’ve shaved my head, I have these day dreams that I’m a medieval general in the army. But not like what we would associate at British medieval, more like fantasy land, but the technology is about there. Anyway, so I’m the kick ass female, bald headed (as is the custom with all generals in this world) general. Some times, I’m single, alone in a world of men. Sometimes, I’m having an affair with a soldier. Sometimes, I’m married. Today, I was a newly wed, but we had to leave right after our wedding: me, on campaign with the army; him, “on the king’s business” (he’s a spy). Well, in today’s story, my husband shows up at camp out of the blue…and he was…f!@#$g Chief Hopper from Stranger Things. Who in real life is David Harbour. My brain just chose him out of the blue. He was hotter and more charming than Hopper, but still.”

Chief Hopper
Dad Bod Goals

So. There we have it, the beginning of my masterpiece. Or whatever.

As to this blog. I plan to use it as a way to practice my craft in faster, more immediately fulfilling periods of time. Clever and fast is a heady combination when you’re slogging away through a quasi-period fantasy piece with romantic overtones. Sometimes the content will be directly associated with my WIP. Sometimes slice of life.

I’ll add that I do have older pieces on this platform that I haven’t had a chance to edit or go over. Please don’t judge me over their form or function. You’ve been warned.

Send my regards to the Executioner,

Claire

Sing, Sing a Song…about Christmas

angels play music
angels play music (Photo credit: christing-O-)

I was entirely prepared-I even had the first paragraph written out-to write a very, very Grinchy blog all about the commercial aspects of the Season. However, while ruminating on that topic, I was distracted by my quest for new, good Christmas music (tricksy iTunes…).

I think the first thing I need to do it draw a distinction between what I consider the two main types of Christmas music.

First off, we have what I like to call Christmas Jingles. Little tunes or ditties of little real meaning. Examples would be anything that involves reindeer, elves, Santa, jingle bells, snow (most of the time), any form of candy, Christmas drinks (other than wassail) and anything overtly sad. I’ll admit, I generally don’t like these. Yes, I know the words to them, and I will sing my little heart out when I hear them, but they annoy me, my dear readers. I blame my parents. Specifically, my mother. It’s not a bad thing. Growing up, I can’t really remember a moment when we all sang, oh, I dunno…It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas. Now, I can EASILY remember singing Oh Holy Night, or O Come, O Come Emanuel. I will conceded that we sang Jingle Bells a few time, but I’m pretty sure there was an extra verse in there about Jesus. We never had Christmas album that had jingles about marshmallows or what you wanted for Christmas…as I’ve said before, in my home, growing up, Christmas was about JESUS.

It was NOT about a Santa. It was NOT about snow. It was NOT about commercialism. It WAS about our Salvation. It WAS about the incarnation of Our Lord. It WAS about good tidings of GREAT JOY.

But I’ve lost the track, which I’m sure if you’ve read more than one of my posts, you should be used to by now.

Anyway, lets look at the other kind of Christmas music. Carols! It’s at this point where I REALLY wish I could do some etymological research and find out the history of the word. I just think that kind of stuff is awesome. However, I think Christmas carols are just really THE Christmas music. They can be identified by covering topics like Jesus, Mary, Joseph, Bethlehem, angels, and a varied and wide range of other Bible-y topics. I think that, generally, these are best sung by a large group of people, with at least a quarter of the people singing must be tone deaf. (It’s not Christmas unless you have an incredibly tone deaf friend singing in your ear and throwing you WAY off mark…)These tend to have been written in the Middle Ages and tweaked as the years move on. (authors note: I think I made that up. It’s not a fact. It just seems that way to me.) I generally will disregard anything about Christmas written between 1935 to today. With that said, there are two songs, which I DEFINITELY consider carols that were written much more recently that entirely shake my world when I hear them.

The first is Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven, which I can’t imagine singing in a group. I’m really blowing holes in my argument here, aren’t I? Meh, oh well. This song…OH this song! I’ll post the lyrics here for you

I have traveled many moonless nights/Cold and weary with a babe inside/And I wonder what I’ve done/Holy Father, You have come/And chosen me now to carry Your Son

I am waiting in a silent prayer/I am frightened by the load I bear/In a world as cold as stone/Must I walk this path alone?/Be with me now, be with me now

Breath of Heaven, hold me together/Be forever near me, breath of Heaven/Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness/Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy/Breath of Heaven

Do you wonder as you watch my face/If a wiser one should have had my place?/But I offer all I am/For the mercy of Your plan/Help me be strong, help me be, help me

Breath of Heaven, hold me together/Be forever near me, breath of Heaven/Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness/Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy

Breath of Heaven, hold me together/Be forever near me, breath of Heaven/Breath of Heaven, lighten my darkness/Pour over me Your holiness for You are holy/Breath of Heaven, breath of Heaven/Breath of Heaven

I mean, come on now! She, the barer of the Christ Child, becomes not all that different from us. Sure, she had some advantages, depending on your particular theological view, but still. She was young, and God was asking her to do the impossible. And she, Blessed as she was, asked for help, grace and strength.

The second one, also about Mary, is Mary Did You Know. I first heard this one in high school, and was decidedly unimpressed. I thought it was theologically incorrect, which at that time in my life, was an unforgivable crime (I mean, obviously she knew Jesus was, well, Jesus…right??) I’ll be perfectly honest, I didn’t like this song until about 3 hours ago, when I heard Cee-Lo Green‘s version. The two reasons this particular version so touched me are that a) I actually listened to the lyrics and b) Cee-Lo is AMAZING. I’ve never been a huge fan, just sang the song “Forget You” very loudly and awkwardly at a bar to a certain guy I felt had shafted me. I literally had NO IDEA the level of musician that he is. Give it a listen:

http://youtu.be/C1DZA_TdBBI

Really, even without the movie excerpts, it is till amazingly moving.

I could go on for pages and pages about this topic. But, I won’t. I will, however, offer you a challenge. Ask yourself, am I listening to Seasonal music (which is fine…Celtic Christmas is a favorite of mine…not overtly spiritual) or am I listening to actual Christmas carols? Do you want to change this? Do you think you should??

Merry Christmas, y’all.

Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels…Or So I’ve Heard…

 

I’ve hear it said that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. I like to think this is true, but I can’t say for sure for two reasons. The first being that I’ve never been skinny; the second being that I’ve tasted some pretty darn good food in my life.

 

I’ve been sitting around lately, wondering where my pants that fit well have gotten to. Or wondering why my pants that used to be baggy now fit well. Or why the pants that used to be just a tad bit tight are now a tragic muffin top incident waiting to happen. And why my bras are just…I can’t even think of a creative description for what happens there. *shiver* I may have gained some weight.

 

JGJEGKJDFBKJDFBIJSEB’JASGBNSDAFBN D/FOVJ WERIJGFSGBODFBJZ;DFBHDFKBZKB! (This translates loosely to darn)

 

Now, the emotional, old school response to this realization would be to sneak down stairs and polish off half of the donut holes. But the rational response (which is MUCH LESS FUN! Hmph!) would be to ask myself what happened to the healthier lifestyle I was living that facilitated the weight loss in the first place.

 

Well pooh. Into the breach we go…

 

It’s pretty easy for me to pin point some contributing factors to the recent weight again. First off, I started having to buy my own food. No joke here. When I lived with the family I nannied for, they were low carb-high fiber-lots of veggies family, and I didn’t have to pay for my food; it was part of the gig. But when I moved out of my own, I quickly discovered that healthy, lower carb, higher fiber foods ain’t cheap. Cheese Puffs are traitorously cheap, believe me.

 

A second issue was the increase in the physical stress of my life. I started a job that had created some really rather unpleasant physical stress on my body. I spent many a night after work spread eagle on the bed, forbidding John to touch me, because EVERYTHING HURT. When you’re in constant pain, you don’t want a salad and you don’t want to eat one piece of whole wheat bread. You want French fries and half a loaf of Wonder Bread. Dieting is not comforting, even when some comfort can be taken in the fact that you’re helping yourself be the best you possible. Still that is small comfort when you really just want to finish that pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

 

And then there was the drop in physical exercise, which on a strange side note made me feel better physically, but played merry havoc on my mental health. The Autumn off season saw me and my co-workers having out hours DECIMATED, so, I spent most of my days sitting around the apartment, grumpy and bored. At least while I was working, I was burning off some of the junk I was eating. During this time period, that wasn’t the case.

 

What was the point I was trying to make here?? AHA! How to respond to weight gain! Sorry, I just got so caught up in my own…

 

AHA AGAIN!! That’s it! I get caught up in my own stuff, and get so bogged down by what went wrong that I just can’t pull myself out. Instead of making the changes that I know I need to make, I rest in my comfy space and stick my tongue out at the right choices and just hope they go away.

 

What do I need to do? I need to do what I know how to do. I’ve done it before, on a much larger scale, I can do it again.

 

After this donut….