writing

Ideas for a story

Start Writing Fiction | Week 2

Note: this is an exercise for the online course, linked above.

Turn on the radio and take note of the first thing that is mentioned. Use it as the basis for either the start of a story or an entire story – whichever, it should be no more than 500 words. Imagine a character, someone who is central to what the story is about. Try to use clear, vivid language so that your reader can see the character. Use some of the characterization techniques:
-physical description
-thoughts and inner life
-personality
-where the character is located
-the character’s back story
-how the character acts in the world.

I look over at the bedside table and see his wedding ring standing by itself—the solo silver chain shackles that he slipped out of right before creeping into the hotel bed with me. My stomach was screaming mad for not sleeping in my own house—nothing about this felt normal.

I turn myself over in bed and peel the white sheet from my skin as I stand up. I pick my clothes up-off the floor, get dressed and throw my curly brown hair into a ponytail. Then I start to think: this man that made me feel comforted and safe — is not even here anymore! He went home to his wife. I am alone and need to get home.

I rush over to my clutch, that was thrown on the hotel desk, and pull my smartphone out. My blurry eyes don’t see many notifications — just a text from Mia at 9:02pm ‘goodnight, mom.’ My heart sunk down in my chest and I opened up a text to Ferdinand, my driver.

‘So sry, need ride home its sos but im ok” is what my fingers tapped in the keyboard, and I hit send. Then I grabbed Vinnie’s wedding ring off the bedside table and stuffed it in my jean pocket.

Within 20 minutes, my driver was at the hotel picking me up. Now this is a man who makes me feel comfortable and safe: Ferdinand — my man.

“So sorry for all the late night driving requests lately,” I mustered from the back seat once we were driving down the road. Clear of the hotel.

“It’s ok, Miss Mandy. I know you are trying to find a suitor, and as I would support your parents and drive them wherever and whenever they needed — I will do the same for you.” 

I felt a tear roll down my cheek. The streetlights outside were illuminated in the night sky and they seemed to be buzzing by faster and faster. I had to close my eyes, “I’m going to be sick,” I was able to say loud enough for Ferdinand to pull over so I could swing open the car door and stumble out far enough to puke on the side of the road.

Once I got home the feeling to puke was gone, but the feeling of regret was intense. I set everything on the kitchen island: my clutch, my phone, my book…his ring. Then I stumbled down the hall to Mia’s room.

Meet the Main Characters HERE

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Start Writing Fiction

Start Writing Fiction

This 8-week long course is by The Open University on FutureLearn.com

As I embark on writing my first novel, it’s done alongside this course. In the first two weeks there has been opportunity to find my own writing space and journaling style. I am also learning from other writers, listening to other writers, and creating the confidence that is needed to write a book…among many other things!

Jenni Laplow – April 29, 2020

Completing the course was a challenge and accomplishment all rolled into one. I am happy to share some of my notes and assignments from the class that helped me make progress on my novel:

Start Writing Fiction | Coursework

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SAHM who blogs | Complete Collection

Here is a complete collection of blog posts from SAHM who blogs, archived back to 2016. As I’ve grown, the things I’m passionate about have come and gone but writing has always been there. Taking the time to write was something I neglected before I became a mom, but as I was trying to find my path as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) the opportunity to blog about things became very appealing. The more mommy blogs that I read, the more inspiration I got to write my own.

My main goal was to inspire moms, of any age, with recipes, crafts and mommy memories from my own stay at home motherhood. I remember putting a lot of time and thought into my blog, and I spent countless hours educating myself and maintaining the website and all the social media accounts…the least I can do, today, is archive it in a way that can be remembered for many more years, and I would love to share it with you!

Please click here to–>DOWNLOAD SAHM WHO BLOGS<–


Most Popular Articles

My First Baby

Every mother has a birth story. This is mine. (Published 2016 as SAHM who blogs.) It was 5 days after my due date.  My husband and I arrived at the hospital a little before 6 pm and went straight to the birthing center to check in. We were actually pre-checked in, so they were expecting us and… Continue reading My First Baby

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Time Sensitive

After you have children, the topic of time comes up a lot. “You blink and they’ll be in college,” is very common to hear in the grocery store checkout lane. I hear people say, “the time goes by so fast” as I watch them look at my child and I see their eyes go back to a time when their own child was that age.

I hear you, and it makes me feel very sensitive about time.

I started reading The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom while I was on vacation. Even though this book is a fable, I connected with it in a way that made me think about time differently:

“Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on the wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

Being on vacation and reading about time, forced me to consciously think more about living in the moment. The time on vacation was ticking down, and the moments were slipping away. I tried to put the book down and take as many photos as I could, to capture those moments in the present time.

Reflection about Time

Well, my vacation is over now, so I have time sensitive thoughts like: “it went by so fast.” Time surrounds me, and these timely thoughts are now seeping into my every day. “Please make it yesterday,” rings out to me from the book as I am trying to finish reading it post-vacation. I wish I could go back on vacation, a day before today, any day before today.

“We all yearn for what we have lost. But sometimes we forget what we have.”

We all yearn for something to change about time: speed up, slow down, change, stop…this list could go on for a long time. As a full time mom who is employed part time, I fear that there is not enough time in the day. Time flies, and there is simply not enough time to get everything done on top of surviving the day with kids. Seriously, time waits for no one.

Not Enough Time to Finish this Book!

But I persevered and finished the fable: about a man who measured the days and the nights – before the word Time was ever spoken. This man loved his wife dearly, but he left her when she was deathly ill so he could beg at the highest tower for the days and nights to stop. It was, in that moment, he became Father Time and the concept of Time was born. He was cast away to live for thousands of years in a lonely, isolated cave; surrounded by tears that came from people on Earth begging for time – crying about time.

Father Time (FT) was given an opportunity to be freed from his immortality in this cursed cave. He was called to Earth to save two very different people: a young teenage girl considering suicide, pleading for time to “Make it Stop.” The other was an old man with a critical illness who is pleading for “Another Lifetime.” These two are brought together, by FT, the second before they choose their final fate.

The two were confused about why they were brought together. It was as if time had frozen for that second. FT would use that second to show them the future. How both of their final fate decisions would impact the ones they love.

FT realizes the blessing he was given. Even though he felt sadness for those thousands of years, he had a greater purpose that came to fruition in that second: to help these two very different humans come together because “in their normal lives, they never would have met.”

When that second in time unfreezes, what will the fateful two decide to do? And what happened to Father Time? Let’s just say, his ending brought tears to my eyes. I really don’t want to give the answers (but just encourage you to read the book!)

If you had all the time in the World – what would you do with it? If you had only one second – what would you choose?

Would you get everything done that you have dreamed about doing for so long? Or would you just waste it away? Whatever it may be, the time is yours. It’s ticking everywhere. Make of it what you can – don’t yearn for time to change.

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Read the Feedback

Here’s the feedback I received on my Character Sketch assignment.

K’s review:

Which method of character creation was being used? 
A mixture, mostly physical description. 

Were you able to see the character clearly? Did you want to know more about the character? 
Yes, I could see the male teacher clearly. The final paragraph helped give a warmth of connection I wasn’t able to feel in the initial paragraph descriptions. 

What approaches to portrayal, such as depicting appearance, occupation, voice, and so forth, did the writer successfully use? 
The teacher seemed stereotypical nerdy yet the student respected him. Would a nerdy teacher look the way a nerdy student would? Why does the student like this teacher – hard to know this until the last paragraph. I appreciated the pacing of the sentences. Very readable flow.

B’s review:

Which method of character creation was being used? 
The method of character creation is biographical method. 

Were you able to see the character clearly? Did you want to know more about the character? 
I am able to see the character clearly. I do not want to know more about the character because I am not sure who the story is about. Is it about the developing relationship between the student and the teacher? Add some more detail about the story. You should give the story a plot. 

What approaches to portrayal, such as depicting appearance, occupation, voice, and so forth, did the writer successfully use? 
The approaches the writer used was current circumstance, voice, attitudes and occupation. Does she submit something to the high school literacy journal?

Read it again HERE.

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Read the Feedback

Here’s the feedback I received on my Generate Something New assignment.

Feedback by C

How was the central character portrayed and was this portrayal clear and interesting? 
I feel like she’s an introverted, sensitive, shy teenager, with some anxiety issues. This was mostly portrayed through her engagement with the world (her fellow classmates, school), activities she engages in (doodling, journaling), her backstory and her internal dialogue. I felt it was a very clear portrayal thanks to the different ways in which she was portrayed, and it was interesting because I’m sensing a highly creative, complex character developing. 

What made you think this piece was a story and did you want to read on? 
The fact that we are deep-diving into a character’s creative process and very clearly building towards something, to me, clearly signaled that this was a story. 

What were the most, and least, successful aspects of the writing? 
I loved the characterization, through interactions, actions and memories, as well as the fact that the photograph of her grandparents seems to be the hub or magnetic center around which her whole development as a character hinges. It’s clearly going to be central to her development and what happens! One thing that struck me is that the writing is strongest when you’re ‘showing’ me how and why she is the way she is, rather than narrating or telling me. I would consider maybe including more ‘active,’ ‘showing’ elements than ‘telling’ elements. Great beginning!

Feedback by D

How was the central character portrayed and was this portrayal clear and interesting? 
The reader gets a feel for the character quite quickly and their sadness giving a feeling of empathy in the reader wanting to see something good happen for her. You don’t find out an awful lot about the characters appearance or how she reacts with others, but that leaves you wanting to find out. 

What made you think this piece was a story and did you want to read on? 
Yes I wanted to read on to find out more about the character and where they were going, what their story was. 

What were the most, and least, successful aspects of the writing? 
Plenty of information about the back story that is probably driving the character perhaps some editing to say the same a little more quickly drawing the reader into the story and finding out more?

BONUS Comments:

Comment 1: Well, you got one thing bang-on as far as I’m concerned. I want to know more! I love the way you have, very quickly, given quite a lot of back story, giving us a fair amount of insight into the character of the protagonist. Brief while still very informative and intriguing!

Comment 2: I really liked it, the protagonist’s personality came through nicely as did a lot of background history and some traits of the other characters too – which helped to flesh out the world. I think maybe it could be edited just once more to remove a few extraneous words, like ‘notebook’ might be used one too many times but that’s a very small detail (just if you want something constructive to go on…). Overall really enjoyed it!

Read it again HERE.

hvfh

A Letter to My Daughter About Christmas Stress

As prime Christmas stress-time seems to be approaching, I am reminding myself of the advice I would share with my daughter when she is an adult. It’s helpful writing this out so that it will help me get through it, just as it’s important to share these words with her one day.

Dear Charlotte,

Christmas is a very magical time of year! You get to sing Christmas carols, eat yummy foods, bake Christmas cookies, and share this magical time with your family. But, there are also hard times you have to go through this time of year. Sad things can happen, or we may not be able to celebrate with someone in the family because they are no longer with us, or someone in the family may make you feel sad by something they say to you.

My mom always tells me that she wishes her wealth of knowledge that comes from going through life can just be passed along instantly to her children because it would make those hard and sad times easier to get through. With all my heart, I wish those exact same things from me to you…but you still have your own life to experience these things, so I have my own words of wisdom to pass along to you.

When you have your own family, you will be pulled in many different directions on what to do around Christmastime. Since you spent your childhood with Mommy and Daddy’s families, now that you are an adult you will start spending Christmastime with your children, your significant other’s family, and your own family…which will seem like a lot! Of course your dad and I hope to see you lots around the holidays, but you simply need to coordinate what is comfortable for your family. Don’t do too much.

It is harder to get through this time of year if sad things weigh you down, so you need to focus on what makes you happy. Right now, you make me happy. You are such a happy, healthy, beautiful little girl! Watching you laugh at Daddy when he puts on a Santa hat is the moment I want to live in this holiday season; leaving all past year stresses and sadness behind.

I wish that for many years we have wonderful Christmastimes together…full of laughter, baking cookies, sharing traditions, and so much more. 

I love you very much,
Mommy

Originally published on Her View From Home

hvfh

Yes, Moms – We Can Do What We Love

Children are raised to believe they can grow up and do anything. I was raised believing this, and I plan on raising my own children with the same mentality. This is my story, and how I’m able to say that “I do something I love.”

When I was younger I loved writing, drawing, and doing crafts; anything that brought out the creative side in me. Most of my friends and family would have guessed that I’d grow up to be a writer. I knew deep down that I wanted to grow up and do something that I love…something that I would enjoy doing every day, but when I graduated high school I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. 

I struggled a bit in college and changed my degree a few times, but I ended up with a degree in health and fitness. I look back, and it’s what I enjoyed doing throughout college: taking gym classes and going to the gym. My mentality was, “If I enjoy working out, why not do it every day for my job?”

Truth is after I graduated, I eventually grew out of it. So I was on the search for a career. Everything that was ingrained in me as “grow up and do what you love” was taken over by:

  1. Find a job; even though it’s not that easy to find a job.
  2. Make money; because I have bills to pay.
  3. Receive benefits; because I’m not on my parent’s health insurance anymore.

I finally landed an office job and was making a career for myself. It was professional, it was challenging, and it was rewarding; but it was stressful! I got to a point where the stress outweighed the rewards and it made me realize I wasn’t doing something that I enjoyed every day. I wasn’t doing something I loved.

I left my last office job when my husband and I were ready to start trying for our first child. I was a stay-at-home-wannabe-mom trying to find my next job placement. Deep down I was hoping that something would just happen for me.

I started working part time at a doggy daycare, which was easy and low stress. I continued working there through my pregnancy. After my maternity leave, I cut back my hours to only work weekends so I can stay home with my daughter.

Wow, I’m able to stay home with my daughter!

Staying home with my daughter gave me a whole new outlook on life, and that’s when I started writing again. Why did I stop writing for all those years? I love writing, and it reignites a passion inside of me that I haven’t seen in a long time. This is what I love. This is what I want to do.

The best part is I can stay home with my daughter and write. After I started a blog for my writing and met so many other moms who do the same thing it gave me hope that this is something I can do! I love it so much, why not?

Looking back at my high school graduation, it should have been clear to me what I wanted to do. I eventually figured it out; it just took going through college and having a few stressful jobs to help me find it. I am sure my daughter will go through the same type of realization on her own, but I will be her number one cheerleader for whatever she decides to do.

Originally published on Her View From Home

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DIY Halloween Costume: Girl Pokeball

Halloween is right around the corner! I was late deciding what costume I wanted to make for my 14 month old daughter this year, so I had to make sure it was an easy DIY!

I got inspiration from a Pokéball costume I saw on Pinterest, and decided I could make something very similar for my little girl to wear. Not only is Pokémon very popular right now, but my husband also plays Pokémon Go…so I thought it would be a cute and trendy costume!

I even found some Pokémon beanies that my husband and I could wear to be part of the Pokémon theme…my daughter has to “catch us.” I also found some Pokémon stuffed animals she could carry around for props.  I included the DIY supplies and instructions below.

Supplies:

  • cardboard or cardstock material
  • scissors
  • black & white acrylic paint
  • paint brush
  • white tulle fabric for the tutu
  • elastic
  • needle & thread
  • black tulle fabric for the belt
  • glue gun
  • red long sleeve bodysuit
  • black or white pants (I used a pair already in her closet)

Instructions:

Note the measurements were specific for my daughter who is size 18 months. This costume could be made for any size, but adjust the measurements accordingly.

  1. Trace a 5-6″ wide circle on cardboard or heavy paper (I used white poster board and a bowl to trace my circle.) Use scissors to cut out the circle.
  2. Paint the circle white (if it isn’t already) and let dry. Paint a black ring on the outer edge of the circle, and draw a smaller circle directly in the center so it looks like this:
  1. While the paint is drying, you can assemble the tutu. Cut a piece of elastic to fit around the waist and give an extra 1/2″ for sewing.
  2. Cut white tulle fabric into 2 inch strips. I used a total of 2 yards (could have used up to 3 yards) and cut the fabric in half lengthwise before cutting 2 inch strips. (My strips were approximately 28″ long by 2″ wide.)
  3. Fold each strip of white tulle fabric in half, place under elastic, and pull the ends through the loop securing it around the elastic. Pull tight, and repeat until all fabric strips are used. Distribute evenly around elastic. Overlap the elastic ends by 1/2 inch, and sew together.
  4. For the belt, fold the black tulle fabric lengthwise (the piece I used was 1.5 yards long.) Find the center, and hot glue the painted circle to the fabric. (I cut a second circle and glued it to the back of the belt to secure it around the fabric.)
  5. Assemble costume with the red long sleeve bodysuit and black or white pants. I made sure the belt was long enough to tie a bow in the back.

I think it turned out really cute! It was a very low cost and an easy DIY Halloween Costume. I can’t wait for Halloween to come so we can go out and catch Pokémon, and maybe some candy too. What are your costume plans this year?

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How My Counselor Made Me Happy Again

I did it. I signed up to see a counselor.

It’s been well over 8 years since I last met with a counselor: I was in college with bouts of depression and eating disorders. With counseling available through my university, it was an opportunity to speak with someone about my troubles and for free. I was also taking anti-depressants because, to be honest, it was what my regular physician prescribed me for the depression.

The last semester of college, I met my husband. He made me so happy and the start of our relationship was a whirlwind of getting to know each other, fun times, and lots of lovey-dovey feelings. I almost immediately stopped seeing my counselor and gradually discontinued taking my anti-depressants. Life was good!

Five years later we got married, and now we own a home and have a 1 year old daughter. Outward appearances would suggest that “life is (still) good.” I guess it’s not that easy.

My tendencies towards depression are still there. While I can confidently say I am far away from my college eating disorders, I can’t hide the fact that lately I’ve felt so sick to my stomach that I simply don’t eat. What is happening to me?

I don’t want to feel depressed, I need to get my appetite back, and I want to scream out loud that “Life is good!” 

So, realizing that I can’t do it on my own is the first step.

The second step is finding out where to call and who do I see for counseling? I wish I could just walk through campus and make an appointment for the first available slot, but I am not a student anymore. Now I am a wife and mother.

Ugh, reality hits. I’m not doing this just for me anymore: I’m doing this for my marriage and for my daughter. That, right there, is my motivation.

I could have (and should have) made the call I did today a lot sooner. I started by reaching out to my medical insurance provider, and was directed to EAP (Employee Assistance Program). Thankfully this is included in my husband’s work benefits, and after speaking with someone, I found out that I get so many free counseling sessions a year. Deep down I was worried about money, so making this call was a blessing.

EAP gave me a list of local counselors that participate in the program, so my next to-do was call names on the list to find my counselor. I had to make sure that the counselor also accepted my insurance because after my free sessions are up, I need my insurance coverage to help where it can if I need to continue seeing the counselor.

Luckily, the first name on the list was closest to my home and seemed like a good fit. So, I was able to make my first appointment with them. Third step complete.

Fourth step is preparing myself for what comes with counseling. It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of work. I need to remind myself that being open to change and listening to what the counselor says is important. I’m not going to magically come out of my depression just by going, I have to take the time to work on myself.

One of the few things my college counselor said that stuck with me was, “You seem to care a lot about yourself because you’re here right now seeking help, and that is very important.” 

Who knows, maybe I’ll hear this same line from my new counselor because it’s something they all say, but it’s something I need to hear. I need to believe that I care about myself enough to take the time to work on me. In the end, it will benefit my marriage and my child.

Even though I’ve already done a few steps, it’s really just beginning. I’m scared, but I’m happy that I realized I can’t get through this on my own.

Originally published on Her View From Home