My Thoughts on Week 1 of NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month.  Day 6.  I wanted to write down a few things that have really helped me make progress on my book.


The last time I attempted NaNoWriMo, I followed the “pantser” method (a.k.a. wrote by the seat of my pants).  This is the reason I wrote with enthusiasm for 12 days and then struggled.  The story took aimless turns and I ended up with 50,000 words of rambling garbage that will never see the light of day.

This is the point of NaNoWriMo.  To release your inhibitions and just hit the word count.  But this time, I’m using this challenge as a springboard for my series.

Back in August, I outlined my NaNoWriMo story.  It’s bare bones, but wow!  My writing is way better this time around.


Character is king.  I’ve heard this mantra for years, but kind of ignored it.  My focus has always been on the story.

But what is story without character?

A few weeks ago, I sat down and described each major character.  It forced me to really think about the stakes.  What does each character want?  Why is it important?  What is the theme in each scene?  I’m amazed at the sub-plots that have emerged from this exercise.  There’s a new layer of intrigue that I can add to the story.


Duh.  I’m writing a  fantasy novel, so you’d think this would be obvious.  But I’ve never actually sat down to think about the details of the world.  What is the political system?  How does the economy work?  What is the currency?  How do the beings sustain themselves?  What is the topography of the land and how does it drive this story?

Questions, questions, and even more questions.  Because the magical world definitely influences the story.  I’m kicking myself for not sitting down and doing this homework before.


I’ve written before about the evils of perfectionism.  It is my greatest nemesis.  I still want to write down and have perfect prose flow from my finger tips.  Perfect description.  Perfect dialogue.  Perfect cliff hangers.  Perfect tension.

Yeah, that hasn’t happened, so I stopped and tried something different.

I’m describing one scene at a time instead of writing it out like a book.  Yeah, I know that goes against what the experts tell you.  “Show, Don’t Tell.”  Blah, blah, blah.

Well, guess what?  I can’t SHOW anything, if I don’t HAVE anything.  And right now, TELLING my story is working.  So, I’m sticking with it.

BOTTOM LINE TO MYSELF:  Don’t take shortcuts.  Do your homework.  And do what works for you. 




Day 9: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 9.  Two dwarves.  One mission.  To make a special delivery to a realm called Earth.  Let’s see how this scene from Charlie Weaver goes:  (The italicized portion is from the Day 8 post.  I needed a running start……)

“I would have much rather stayed at home and tended my garden.  But did I?  No.  Instead I’m here, risking my life for you.”  Sherbert turned her back to him and jumped down from the step.

“Well, I don’t need your help,” Herbert snapped.  “I’ve been on plenty of missions.  I could have done this one by myself.”

Sherbert scowled. “Fine.  If you don’t want me here, then I’m leaving.”

Before she could storm off, the thick, wooden door swung open.  A baritone voice cut through the silence of the night.  “Great horny toads!  Who the dickens are you?  And why are you bothering me in the middle of the night?”

Both dwarves stopped talking and stared at the curious figure on the porch.  A large man with long gray hair, bushy dark brows and a grizzled beard bent down and scowled at them.  Was this the Guardian that they were seeking?  He bore no resemblance to the dignified persona each dwarf had envisioned.

“Your caterwauling is going to wake up the entire neighborhood,” he boomed, waving one large, beefy hand at them.  “Move, critters.”

Herbert barely squeaked out his question.  “Move?”

“Yes.  MOVE, critter.  MOVE,” the man bellowed, waving one large, beefy hand at them.  “Quit yammering and move inside the house before someone spots you.”

Completely flustered, Herbert picked up the basket and walked into the house without protest.  Even Sherbert, who was normally unruffled by anything, failed to point out the sloping landscape that surrounded the house.  The closest neighbor was at least one mile away.  Intimidated, she followed her brother inside.

The man waved them into a large room.  Embers crackled in the fireplace, giving the room a warm, cozy glow.  Tan walls were decorated with colorful tapestries.  There was one large sofa and an arm chair by the fireplace.  Herbert and Sherbert exchanged uncertain glances.

“Well, don’t just stand there gawking at me like a bunch of pop-eyed toads.  Sit down,” the man boomed, pointing to the sofa.  “Sit, sit.”

Gingerly, Sherbert climbed onto the sofa.  Herbert gently placed the basket by the arm chair, before started his formal introduction speech.  “Greetings Sir,” Herbert started, squaring his shoulders.  “On behalf of the Elders Council, allow me…..”

“Elders Council?”  The man guffawed, reaching into a box on a table next to the arm chair.  He pulled out a pipe.  “What the hell is an Elders Council?”  The man struck a match, lit the end of the pipe and puffed three perfect rings of smoke before glaring at Herbert.

This wasn’t how this first meeting was supposed to go.  Not at all.  Especially not when such an important delivery was at stake.  Herbert had no idea how to proceed when a recipient didn’t follow protocol.  Floored, he looked helplessly at Sherbert.

Sighing, Sherbert hopped down from the sofa.  It was time to take charge.  “Sir, it would help if you didn’t yell at us.”

“Yell?” The man bellowed in a voice that echoed from the rafters of the house.  “I’m not yelling.  Quit stalling and get to the point, Missy.  Who are you and what’s your business here?”

“Lanka is under attack,” Herbert blurted out and immediately regretted it.  So much for following protocol and gently approaching the recipient about the delivery.

Well, that news silenced the man.  He actually appeared stunned for a moment, as he processed Herbert’s statement.


Day 8: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 8.  I know that I’m going to drive anyone reading this blog crazy, but I’m switching stories.  Back to Charlie Weaver et. al.  Here goes:

CHARLIE WEAVER:  CHAPTER XX – The Bickering Heralds

Once upon a time, on the island of Lanka, there lived a creature called Herbert.  The Council of Elders, who managed very important affairs in the realm of human beings, often sent Herbert on errands.  You see, Herbert was quite tall for a dwarf.  In fact, he was tall enough to pass as a small human being.  All of them knew Herbert was very good at blending in, which is why he was chosen to make a very important delivery to the human realm.

Since birth, Herbert’s twin sister, Sherbert, had never been separated from her brother’s side.  Trips to the human realm were no exception.  She was obviously a dwarf, but when disguised, could pass as an Earth child.  Sherbert was given permission to accompany Herbert on this next trip.

Visits to different realms were always exciting.  A visit to Earth was particularly exciting, but it did nothing to dampen the siblings’ spirited fighting.  Oblivious to the sights and sounds along the long route to earth, Herbert and Sherbert continued to bicker all the way to their final destination.  If one said it was too hot, the other said it was too cold.  If one said that the sky was blue, the other predicted rain.  In short, they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

They finally approached their final destination in the middle of the night.  The farmhouse was dark and quiet.  Both dwarves looked up at the knocker on the heavy door.  Neither of them made a move to knock it.  “Maybe we should wait until morning,” Herbert suggested.

“No,” Sherbert replied.  She looked at her brother expectantly.  “This is too important to wait.”

Herbert slowly lifted his hand up to the knocker and then dropped it.  Uneasy, he glanced at his sister.  “You tell him.”

Sherbert frowned up at him, placing small hands on her hips.  “I will not.  This is your mission.  You tell him.”

Shaking his head, Herbert replied.  “No, you tell him.

Sherbert retorted.  “I don’t want to tell him.”

Herbert said.  “But it’s your turn.”

Sherbert threw up her hands.  The disgust was evident on her face.  “Why is it always my turn when the news is bad?”

Herbert looked down at the large basket resting near the front door.  Its occupant was sleeping peacefully.  Herbert kicked a pebble on the porch, before mumbling, “This isn’t bad news.”

“Then you tell him,” Sherbert insisted, crossing her arms across her chest and staring at Herbert.

“You’re the one who wanted to come,” Herbert scowled.  This blasted trip hadn’t been worth it.  He should have said no to this visit.  The thought of having to relay his news made him queasy.  “You could at least make yourself useful, since I allowed you to come with me.”

“You allowed me to come?”  Sherbert repeated, raising her eyebrows.

“That’s right.  The Elders didn’t even want you to come.” Herbert’s chin jutted forward, desperate to convince her to relay the news.  He glanced at the basket and lowered his voice to a loud whisper.  “I made the decision.  And now, I’m starting to wonder if I made a mistake.”

Sherbert’s lower lip quivered.  She took a step towards her brother and poked him in the chest with one finger.  “This wasn’t your decision.  The Elders asked me to come with you.  They thought that you would need my help.”

“You’re making that up,” Herbert said, offended.  Why would the Elders think that he needed Sherbert’s help?  The idea was preposterous.

“I would have much rather stayed at home and tended my garden.  But did I?  No.  Instead I’m here, risking my life for you.”  Sherbert turned her back to him and jumped down from the step.

“Well, I don’t need your help,” Herbert snapped.  “I’ve been on plenty of missions.  I could have done this one by myself.”

Sherbert scowled. “Fine.  If you don’t want me here, then I’m leaving.”

Day 7: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 7.  Well, that was an unexpected twist for me yesterday.  I didn’t expect Sondra/Cassie/Cassandra to be a student in Ryan’s (Professor Douglas’s) class.  I’m not sure if this will work out, but I’m going to write my way through it.  Here goes:  (NOTE:  It is close to midnight, so this will be a short post!)


Fortunately, Mandy’s man hunt didn’t prevent me from getting to class on time.  There were still plenty of vacant seats close to the front of the classroom.  Other students filtered into the lecture hall, but I didn’t pay too much attention to them.  I pulled out my binder and flipped open the thick course pack.  The class didn’t start for another five minutes, so I had time to highlight a few points that I wanted to bring up in the class discussion.

I was completely absorbed in the case, when I heard a door shut.  I glanced behind me.  The lecture hall was crowded.  As I scanned the room, hoping to spot a familiar face, conversations halted.  I spotted someone I vaguely recognized from another classs, but since I couldn’t remember whether or not she was a good student, I turned to face the front of the class.  The professor had his back to the class, as he scribbled down his name and office hours information.

He turned around.  My eyes widened in shock.  “Good afternoon, everyone.  I am Professor Douglas and you are sitting in Business Strategy 501.”

I felt numb.  It was that meddling jerk from the coffee shop.  The one who thought that it was okay to give a helpless, unborn baby espresso shots laced with refined sugar.  Another image popped into my mind.  This was also the guy who just let his baby “cry it out” in a neglect buggy.  This miscreant was my professor?  His behavior towards children, both born and unborn, was appalling.

I had to do something about this, but what?  Writhing in my seat, I hunched over my notebook and pretended to take notes.  As he droned on about the syllabus, my mind whirled.  Was it too late to drop this class and take it with someone else?  Gritting my teeth, I remembered that this guy was the only one teaching the class this semester.  And I had to take it this semester if I wanted to graduate on time.

It suddenly occurred to me that I could stop by the dean’s office.  Images of Dean Anderson’s outrage brought a smile to my face.  I was confident that he would be very interested in hearing about this professor’s unsavory behavior.

Day 6: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 6.  AAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH………….  Why do I keep doing this to myself??  I skipped ONE DAY of writing, just ONE, and today I’m paying for it.  I am sitting here and I have NOTHING.  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BUT CAPS.  (HEY!  THIS IS FUN!  I DON’T GET TO TYPE IN CAPS VERY OFTEN.  THERE’S NOTHING LIKE PROCRASTINATING IN CAPS.)

My eyes hurt.  That’s enough of that.  Bear with me, I’m just going follow my stream of consciousness and write whatever.  Here goes:

“Oh.  My.  God.”  Mandy stopped eating mid-sentence.  Her bright red lips parted slightly.  She breathed deeply and exhaled a theatrical sigh.  “He is so hot.”

“Who?” I asked, turning my head to look at the person who had her attention.  I loved Mandy, but she had terrible taste in men.  Since I only had thirty minutes between classes, I didn’t feel like wasting a moment on some loser.  There was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to eat before my three hour strategy class.

“Stop that,” Mandy hissed at me, smacking my arm.  “I don’t want him to know that we’re…..”  She paused.

“We’re what?  Staring at him?  Gaping at him?  Stalking him?”  I suggested, and shoveled a forkful of chicken-broccoli bake into my mouth.  I closed my eyes, enjoying the flavors.  Even cafeteria food tasted good after skipping breakfast.  “Pick one.  Any of them applies in this situation.”

Mandy glared at me.  Tossing her long blond hair, she pouted and pulled a compact and tube of lipstick from her purse.  “I am NOT stalking him.”

“Yet,” I added, taking a swig of root beer.  Mandy applied more red lipstick to her already very red lips.  I shook my head in disgust.  “You aren’t stalking him YET.”

“When have I ever stalked anyone, Cassie?”  She replied, smacking her lips together before closing her compact.  She picked up a napkin and blotted her lipstick.

I rolled my eyes, stood up, and picked up my tray.  “I have to go.  If you really want to know that answer to that question, call me tonight.  I’ll have more time.”

“Wait,” Mandy said, sliding out of the booth.  She picked up her tray.  “I’ll go with you.”

“Where are you going?” I asked impatiently, gesturing towards her plate.  Mandy had another half an hour before her class started.  “Your tray is still full.  You haven’t eaten anything.”

“Oh, I can’t eat while he’s watching me,” Mandy replied, looking past me, over my shoulder.  She smiled and nodded to someone.  “And he is definitely watching me.”

“Who is watching you?” I asked before turning to walk towards the exit.  It was the beginning of a new semester.  I was looking forward to my first strategy class in the MBA program, but I felt a little stressed out.  A few friends had warned me about Professor Douglas.  He was supposedly good, but liked to make an example of one unprepared student for an entire semester.  The student was chosen on the first day of class.  I picked up the pace.  I didn’t want to be the chosen one.

“That guy,” she tilted her head.

I turned around and saw the back of some tall guy walking away.  Unimpressed, I shrugged.  “Sorry, no guy has ever had enough power to curb my appetite.  Especially before class.”

Well, almost no guy, I thought grimly, as Mandy and I hurried across campus.  My father always made me lose my appetite.


Day 5: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 5.  I have all sorts of scenes popping up in my head now.  This story has taken a more serious turn.  I was hoping it would be funny, but it’s turning deep on me.  Sigh.  Well, I’m still going to just follow it and see where this goes.

So, to summarize, the love interest, Ryan, ran into a beautiful “Sanctimommy” at the mall.  I’m going to call her Sondra for now.  It turns out he’s in crisis mode, because his mother is having major health issues.  (Obviously, I’m drawing on my own experience for this one.)

I think Ryan needs another encounter with the Sanctimommy…….



I swung by a popular coffee shop next to the university.  The line was long, but I didn’t mind.  I spotted an empty table, grabbed my drink from the barista, and pulled out my laptop.  I had some time to work on my next lecture before visiting my mom at the hospital.

I was so engrossed in my work, that I never saw her enter.  But a familiar voice caught my attention.  I glanced up and started.  It was her.  The beautiful brunette from the mall.  She was standing next to the barista’s counter, frowning slightly.  I watched her pick up up a cup of coffee and hand it to a blond, obviously pregnant woman.

“This isn’t my drink,” the blonde said, frowning.  When the blonde didn’t take the drink, the brunette set it back down on the counter.  The pregnant lady pointed to the cup that the barista handed to the brunette.  “That’s my drink.”

“No, it isn’t,” the brunette replied, as she slid past the barista’s counter.  She sidled up to the condiment counter and grabbed a few napkins.

“Hey, you took my drink,” the pregnant blonde said, waddling past a few tables to follow the brunette.  She pointed at the name scrawled on the side of the cup in the brunette’s hand.  “That cup has my name on it.  Carrie.”

The brunette leaned over the counter and nodded her head to the barista, who handed her the other cup of coffee.  She handed it to the pregnant lady.  “You can have this one.”

“What?  No,” Carrie shook her head and pointed to the cup in the brunette’s hand.  “I don’t want this one.  I want the drink that I ordered.”

“Well, you can’t have it,” the brunette replied.  Her face appeared completely unperturbed.

“Excuse me?” The blonde flushed.  She was getting angry.

A older man sitting at the table next to the condiment counter frowned at the brunette.  “Look, lady.  Why don’t you just give her back her drink?”

“No,” the brunette said, and pointed at Carrie’s stomach.  “Look at her.  She’s pregnant.  Pregnant people aren’t supposed to have caffeine.  It’s poison to an unborn child.”

The gentleman looked uncertain.  He glanced at the blonde’s protruding belly, before turning his attention back to the brunette.  “It is?”

“Yes, it is,” the brunette stated firmly.  The authority in her voice was strong.  The man nodded and turned his attention back to his own table.

The blonde was furious.  “That is my cup of coffee.  I paid for it.”

“And I bought you the exact same drink, only decaf,” the brunette replied smoothly.  She nudged the drink along the counter in the blond’s direction.  “Please take it.  It’s a nonfat decaf latte.”

“I ordered a regular caramel macchiato,” the blond woman snarled, clenching her fists.  I think she was trying not to pop the brunette in her pretty face.

“That has too much sugar in it,” the brunette replied.  “Don’t you want what’s best for your baby?  You don’t need all of those extra calories.”

“What the hell?” the blond sputtered.

The brunette continued.  “I mean, if you’re that selfish that you can’t even wait for ten months to drink this sludge, then you can at least have a decaf, nonfat latte.”

I swear the blonde’s eye started twitching.  I hated to get involved, but I sighed and got up from my table.  I lowered my gaze to meet the brunette’s eyes, trying not to get distracted by how blue they were.  “This is getting ridiculous.  First, you mess with my friend at the mall.  And now this?  Who died and put you in charge of everyone?”

The brunette swung her head in my direction.  The only way to describe the look she gave me was a death stare.  “This is none of your business.”

“What?  Are you kidding me?”  The blond woman dropped a few expletives, before shrieking.  “You better give me my drink BEFORE I KNOCK YOUR GOD DAMN TEETH OUT OF YOUR HEAD.”

“Well, that’s classy,” the brunette rolled her eyes, completely unruffled by the threat.  I gaped at her.  This woman was unreal.  “You’re getting violent over a cup of coffee?  I feel sorry for your child, if that’s the type of language you use around your house.”

The pregnant blond choked.  “WHAT I DRINK IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.”

“It is when you’re carrying an unborn child.  I’m the voice for babies who have none,” the brunette replied smoothly.  I couldn’t even respond.  This woman didn’t miss a beat.  I had a feeling she had done this before.  Like many, many time before.  I was amazed that the baristas weren’t doing anything about it.


Day 4: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 4.  I’m just going to keep following this story and see where it leads.  The love interest, Ryan, and his friend’s wife Mandy had a casual encounter with the “Sanctimommy” at the mall.  Mandy is queasy and needs to get home ASAP.  Here goes:

As we left the mall, Mandy didn’t look so good.  I put the beautiful stranger’s face out of my mind temporarily.  About one mile from Mandy’s house, I had to pull over to the side of the road.  Mandy scrambled out of the car just in time.  I cringed as she retched in the ditch.  After a few minutes, she opened the door and slid back into the passenger seat.  I offered her a bottle of water and pulled back onto the road.

“How’s Eleanor?” Mandy asked, rolling down the window.  She opened the bottle and guzzled it down like she hadn’t had a drink in weeks.  “I’m sorry I haven’t been able to visit her.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I shrugged, struggling for nonchalance.  I didn’t think my mother even remembered my visits, let alone anyone else’s.  My grip on the steering wheel tightened.  “Just take care of yourself.”

Mandy smiled slightly, reminding me of the first time I saw her.  The pretty blond who lived down the hall from me in college.  There had been a time when I was interested, but once Jake came into our lives, I didn’t have a chance.  I couldn’t believe that was more than a decade ago.  “Great advice.  So, when are you going to follow it yourself?”

“What do you mean?” I pulled into her driveway and parked the car.  A glance in the rearview mirror told me that Nicky was sound asleep.  Of course.

Mandy made no move to get out of the car.  She unbuckled her seatbelt and turned to face me.  “Do you want me to be blunt?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

I rolled my eyes.  This wasn’t good.  She wanted to “talk” and I really wasn’t in the mood for it.  “When are you anything else but blunt?”

“Well, it saves time, doesn’t it?” Mandy grinned, looking more like her usual self.  That sickly green pallor had left her face.  “You look terrible.”

“Yeah?  Well, so do you,” I shot back.  It was a lie.  She looked tired, but just as pretty as always.

“I’m pregnant,” she smirked, unperturbed by my comment.  It amused her to get under my skin.  “I have an excuse.  What’s yours?”

“My mother is dying,” I snapped, whipping my head around to stare at her.  “Is that enough of an excuse for you?”  Guiltily, I glanced in the rearview mirror.  Thankfully, Nicky’s eyes remained shut.  He was blissfully unaware of my outburst.

Mandy’s eyes softened.  “I know, honey.  I know,” she said, putting a hand on my arm.  “This is the first time I’ve heard you say that.  I’m so sorry.  So unbelievably sorry.”

“The doctors told me that I should consider hospice care,” I closed my eyes and leaned forward, resting my head on the steering wheel.  My chest tightened, as waves of reality washed over me.

“Oh, God, Ryan,” Mandy whispered, and put a hand on my back.  The sympathy in her voice hit me like a brick wall.  I choked back a sob.  “But she’s had pneumonia before.  She’ll pull through it again.”

I shook my head.  “The doctors don’t think so.  And even if she does, they think that she’ll just keep getting it over and over again.  It’s like this downward spiral into hell for her.”  That’s what it felt like for me to watch her.  Pure hell.

Mandy threw her hands up.  She looked about as helpless as I felt.  “I don’t even know what to say.  Is there anything I can do for you and your mom?”

I sat upright, slightly embarrassed by my outburst.  Mandy had enough to deal with.  I didn’t need to dump my emotional garbage into her lap.  “No,” I said, controlling my voice.  “There’s nothing anyone can do.”  Since she was watching me like a hawk, I managed a small smile.  I just wanted to get the hell out of there.  “But thank you.”  I turned my head to glance at the back seat.  “Do you want me to get Nicky into the house?”

Once I helped Mandy get Nicky into his room and assured her that I would give her an update later that evening, I took off.  After about thirty minutes of mindless driving, I pulled into the parking lot at the local university.  I grabbed my briefcase and walked into the business school building.

There was a knock on my office door.  “Come in,” I called out.

“Hi, Professor Douglas.  I have a question about the case study.”  One of my students plopped down into the chair in front of my desk and pulled a fat binder out of her backpack.  I pushed my mother and the beautiful stranger from the mall out of my thoughts.  Office hours had begun.


Day 3: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Okay, I’m going to take this story in a slightly different direction in this post.  I woke up with a few ideas that I want to play around with.  The “Sanctimommy” character is named Sondra for now.  I think it will be a nickname for Cassandra, but I’ll see.

This story was supposed to be a satire, but this morning a love interest popped into my head.  I’m going to call him Ryan.  This next scene will be from his point of view.  Here goes:


One Tuesday morning, I was hanging out at the mall with my best friend’s wife Mandy and their 2-year old son Nicky.  My buddy Jake was traveling for work.  He was concerned about Mandy.  They were expecting their second child, but the first trimester had been rough on Mandy.  He wanted me to keep an eye on her while he was away.  So when Mandy asked if I could help her with Nicky while she ran a few errands at the mall, I agreed.  The first hour went smoothly, but eventually, Nicky couldn’t take it anymore.  He started to wail.

“Let’s just go,” Mandy sighed, shifting Nicky from one side to another.  Her brown eyes had dark circles under them.  Jake told me that the insomnia was worse this time around.  Nicky squirmed in her arms and reached behind her neck to yank on her blond ponytail.

“Here, let me take him,” I offered, reaching out and taking him from Mandy.  “Hey, buddy.  Why don’t you come to Uncle Ryan?”

“No,” he shrieked, slapping me across the face.  “Mommy!  Want Mommy!”  He swung at my face again, missing me by inches.

“Nicky, that’s enough.  No hitting,” Mandy said sternly, before turning to me.  “Are you okay?”  When I nodded, she leaned over the stroller and loosened the straps.  “Just put him in here and let’s go.”

Nicky emitted a high-pitched shriek as I set him down in the stroller.  It actually took the two of us to secure the safety belts and buckle him in.

As he continued to wail, I stood up, sweating slightly.  That’s when I saw her.  A young lady was heading in our direction.  She must have been a few years younger than I was, maybe in her late twenties.  I couldn’t control my sharp intake of breath.  Her face was unreal.  I stared at her large blue eyes, porcelain skin, and high cheekbones, all framed by long, dark waves.  I had the vague impression that she was dressed very conservatively, but I couldn’t stop gawking at her face.

She was even more gorgeous up close.  My pulse quickened as she came right up to the stroller and knelt down beside Nicky.  “You poor little hugless child,” the lady murmured, gently stroking his hair with slender, delicate fingers.  “I’m sure someone loves you.”

Stunned, I just gaped at her.  What did she just say?  I looked over at Mandy, who appeared as shocked as I was.  Before I could move, the lady unbuckled Nicky and lifted him up from the stroller.

Nicky stopped crying and stared into the stranger’s gorgeous face.  “Perhaps your child would cry less if you carry him,” the lady said with a slight smile, before handing Nicky to Mandy.

Speechless, I continued to stare at her.  Was this woman a friend of Mandy’s?  She had to be.  Nicky stopped crying in her arms.  He must know her.  Maybe it was an inside joke.  The woman nodded at Mandy and said, “It’s okay.  Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”

As the stranger walked away, I glanced at Mandy.  Her cheeks were stained beet red.  I came to my senses.  This wasn’t a joke.  “Who the hell do you think you are?” I called out after the stranger.

Mandy grabbed my arm before I could take a step in her direction.  “Just let her go,” she said, in an odd voice.  When I looked at her face, it was slightly green.

“Let’s get both of you out of here,” I said, forgetting the stranger.  At least, for the moment.

Day 2: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 2.  I admit that my writing wheels need greasing.  I’m drawing a blank on what to write for this post.  I’d like to do something with this “Sanctimommy” character, but I’m struggling with the next location.  There’s a bunch of stuff she can do, but what is the best venue?  As I learned last year, the only way for me to overcome writer’s block is to write my way through it.  So, let’s try something and see if it works.  Here goes:

A Tuesday With SanctiMommy

On Tuesday morning, I took my scale baby, Finn, to the park.  He loves watching other children take risks on the playground.  We found a bench under a shady tree where he could watch them.  While he swished around in his bowl, I pulled out my first aid kit.  I wanted to be ready in case any child with unprepared parents had an accident.  I already had my eye on one reckless little boy.  He was climbing up to the top of the slide and then coming back down feet first, on his stomach.  I nearly said something, but a disheveled toddler caught my attention.

The first thing I noticed was her hair.  It looked terrible.  Not a headband or barrette in sight.  Without anything to rein in her crazy curls, the little girl appeared as if she had tunneled her way out of a cat shelter.  She made a few useless attempts to push the hair out of her face, but continued to stumble blindly around playground.  Just as I stood up, the girl suddenly bent over.  She placed her head and hands on the ground before extending her legs over her head.  I watched in horror as her dress fell from her knees to her head, revealing a cartoon pull-up.

I couldn’t believe it.  This wasn’t an all-girls playground.  Her chubby legs and sagging pull-up were indecent.  Where were her modesty shorts?  What kind of mother allows her toddler girl to reveal all of her baby bits to the viewing public?  This little girl continued to giggle and roll on the ground, flashing both little boys on the playground.  I rifled through my bag and quickly pulled out a pair of shorts.  They were actually for a toddler boy, but this was an emergency.  They would have to suffice.


I normally like to post more “polished” posts, but I wanted to make sure that I post something every day, for 30 days.  I know myself.  If I wait to polish up this post, then nothing will get written for another week.  So, I’m putting an unfinished thought out there.

I’ll be honest.  I’m kind of embarrassed.  But I’m just not feeling this one tonight.  Maybe it’s because I’m writing this late at night.  (It’s nearly midnight.)

I’m sorry if I let you readers down with this post, but I promised to be real on this blog.  This post is just not working for me tonight, but at least I put something down on screen.  Writing, even crappy writing, begets writing.

I will try again tomorrow.  And the day after that.  And the day after that.

Thank you for putting up with this……


Day 1: ANOTHER Self-Imposed 30-Day Writing Challenge

What’s the deal?  Why another 30-day challenge?  I made the 2016 New Year’s Resolution to complete my first manuscript by the end of this year.  Despite many red ombre cup sacrifices on the altars of Starbucks and Barnes and Nobles, no progress has been made.  This book just isn’t writing itself.

Why not?  Well, let’s be blunt.  Because I’m a slacker who needs a swift kick in the rear.

I’m not sure what it is about 30-day challenges, but they definitely motivate me to write.  I’ve had this character walking around in my head for a while and over the holiday, she temporarily evicted Charlie Weaver and Shivani Roy.  I am not certain about her name (although I have one idea), but I AM certain about what she is.

She’s a Sanctimommy.  

????  What the hell is a “Sanctimommy?”

According to Wikipedia, a sanctimommy is “a portmanteau of two words, sanctimonious and mommy. The word is a colloquialism used to refer to a person, usually a female, who has very opinionated views on child rearing and presents them upfront without any sense of humility.”

Last week, I actually wrote out and posted one of the scenes that has been swirling in my head for a while.  (“A Sanctimommy Visits The Mall.”)  I received positive feedback from friends, family AND my husband.  This is big, since my husband, a nonfiction reader, isn’t really into the genres that I write about.  He actually laughed.  A few friends asked me if I had more stories like this.

This is the first time anyone has actually asked me for MORE stories about one of my characters……

I want to use this challenge to write out as many “Sanctimommy” stories as I can over the next 30 days.  I don’t know if this will be anything, but I feel compelled to follow it.  So here goes:

Over the weekend, as I patrolled a neighborhood on the other side of town, I spotted several minivans parked beside the curb of a house.  There was a sign in the yard.  It said “Open House.”  I pulled my minivan over to the side and observed the driveway with interest.  There were several families walking into the house.  Many of them had small children.  I couldn’t spot any glaring errors in parenting, but I stepped out of the car.  I was certain that if I went inside, someone would need my help.

I unstrapped my precious guppy from his car seat and gently placed him in my carrier.  I did a few squats on the sidewalk to make sure he was safely secured before walking across the street and inside the house.  At first glance, the foyer appeared somewhat clean.  But when I looked up, I spotted a single cobweb thread hanging precariously from the chandelier.  The owners obviously felt that hygiene wasn’t important.  Inwardly cringing at the filth, I reached into my bag to assure myself that I had plenty of hand sanitizer and antibacterial liquid soap for later.

Determined to save the other unsuspecting families, I followed them into the bowels of the house.  A woman was speaking with a couple when I entered the kitchen.  She interrupted her conversation to smile and greet me.  “Hi, I’m Kathy.  Feel free to look around.  I’m going to help this family upstairs for a moment, but I’ll be right back if you have any questions.”  I nodded and she left the room with the other family.

I nervously searched the kitchen for more errant cobwebs.  It appeared tidier than the foyer, but when I spotted the jars of baby “food” on the counter, my senses went on high alert.  If parents are lax about food, they’ll be lax about other things, like safety.  I immediately walked over to the large island in the middle of the kitchen.  Sure enough, the first drawer I pulled opened easily.  It was filled with utensils.  I gritted my teeth at the sight of all those uncorked forks.

I quickly unzipped my diaper bag and rifled through it.  With a sigh of relief, I pulled out a large back of corks and placed it on the counter.  I grabbed the tray of forks and dumped it on the counter.  Grateful for my nimble fingers, I methodically corked each fork and placed it back in the drawer.  That last fork was corked just as the real estate agent returned from upstairs.

Kathy watched me place the last fork in the drawer.  She tilted her head to one side and asked, “Uh, what are you doing?”

I scowled at her and slammed the drawer closed.  “Do these people have children?” I demanded, crossing my arms.  I couldn’t keep the anger out of my voice.

Kathy’s eyes widened in surprise.  “Who?  The owners?”  When I nodded, she looked past me to the jars of baby food.  “Yes,” she replied slowly.  The uncertainty on her face was apparent.

“Do you have any idea what’s going on in this house?”  I frowned at her, and slammed my hands down on the counter.  “Any idea at all?  Or are you too busy making your sale?”

“What are you talking about?” Kathy asked, raising her eyebrows.  She remained where she was standing.

“This is an ugly situation, Kathy,” I opened the drawer, pulled out a corked fork and waved it at her.  “A very ugly situation.  I have friends at the CPS who would be very interested in what’s going on over here.  Very,” I stressed the last word so she would understand the gravity of what just happened.

“Miss, I don’t know who you are,” Kathy began, as she held up her hands in front of her.

“Have you ever heard of the CPS?  It stands for Child Protective Services,” I told her, and put the fork in my diaper bag.  I was proud of my own foresight.  The CPS could use it as evidence in this case.

“Hey, you can’t take that,” Kathy frowned and took a step towards me.

I pulled my phone and aimed it at her.  “Come any closer and I’ll include you in my report as an accessory to their crimes against children,” I said evenly, as I held up my phone.  “What did you say your name was again?  Kathy what?”