writing

Building a new character

Start Writing Fiction | Week 6

This week’s coursework, from the online course listed above, brought the opportunity to build one of my main characters more on paper. There is still room for growth, but it gave me a great start.

Physical/biological: age, height, size, state of health, assets, flaws, sexuality, gait, voice.

Mia is a 14 year old female who is a freshman in high school. She looks a lot like her young mom: 5’5” with brown tiger eyes that draw you into a pretty face, and petite 125 lb body. She uses a dark eyeliner application that shows off her long eyelashes, and she maintains her blonde hair highlights with straight hair that falls over the shoulder. She is soft spoken, and usually hides behind her notebook that she journals poetry or thoughts throughout the day. Her wardrobe of choice is jeans and sneakers with a black tank and black hoodie. Her smartphone usually goes in her hoodie pocket, or gets stashed in her backpack while at school. Never carries a purse, just a notebook. Mia is interested in boys, and now that she’s in high school they are starting to catch her attention as her mom has dialed up the sex talk more and more recently. She is usually questioning another character in return or avoiding the answer somehow. Typical teenager?

Psychological: intelligence, temperament, happiness/unhappiness, attitudes, self-knowledge, unconscious aspects.

Mia is not doing well in school because she is not applying herself in class or completing homework outside of class. Writing poetry in her notebook makes her happy, so that is what she focuses on in her free time. Her mom is usually never home, and if she is she’s holed up drinking in her bedroom closet. Mia feels empathetic towards her mother and takes care of her when she is at her lowest with men and alcohol. She longs to have a father, and has seen many men come-and-go dating her mom. She takes out her pain and frustration in her notebook, so using words out loud is harder for her. She is usually quick and to the point when she speaks, but most times too soft to be heard and is cut off.

Interpersonal/cultural: family, friends, colleagues, birthplace, education, hobbies, beliefs, values, lifestyle.

Mia lives with her mom in her deceased grandparents’ home, a ranch mansion. She was nearly five years old when her grandma and grandpa tragically passed away in a car accident. While that shapes a lot of her lifestyle today, she refuses to speak about her grandparents being dead with her mom. Mia has no relation with her dad, he is not in the picture and never has been. She longs for a male relationship that is father-like. While she is failing all other classes, she is excelling in English. It’s an easy class for her, and her English teacher is pushing her to be a better writer. He pushes her like a father would.

Personal history: major events in their life, including the best and the most traumatic times.

Mia was raised by her grandparents in her infant years, while her mom homeschooled to finish high school. Mia was almost five, and she was living with her mom (who was taking college classes) in a small 2 bedroom apartment, when her grandparents visited to lecture her mom about failing or dropping college classes…and it was that night they got into a fatal accident. Her mom did not go back to college, but almost immediately moved them into the ranch mansion and they were set with finances through trust funds and life insurance. Life seemed more normal living at grandma and grandpa’s house, surrounded with rooms of old items and bookshelves full of books. But, Mia was alone in her room a lot so she would create stories of her own that include imaginary friends and imaginary grandparents. Mom is boss, and when she comes around for discussion or consolation—Mia drops what she’s doing to make mom feel like number one.

Portraying your character—in the 3rd person.

Mia is like a very delicate flower, but her roots are strong and hold her up. She prefers the shade, or shys away from the sun as a retreat to her notebook where she writes. She has raised herself, as her young mother is very absent. As soon as Mia was old enough to write, she would write stories in her notebook about traveling around the world with imaginary friends–just like the stories her grandparents used to tell her about their travels.

Straight blonde highlighted hair falls over her shoulders, dark eyeliner shows off her long eyelashes and when she bats her eyes at you, her brown tiger eyes stare back longingly. Her pretty face and petite body gets her a second glance from most guys when she is noticed in the highschool lineup. Who is this freshman girl? Her wardrobe is basic, and when she takes off her black sweatshirt to reveal a black tank, with jean capris and sneakers, it seems like she has a fashion-forward maturity level of basic beauty.

She sat on the edge of her bed, hunched over, leaning into her notebook–scribbling away. She was writing words of love and wishes for intimacy. She hears a sob outside her bedroom door, so Mia closes her notebook and opens her door to find her mom with her hands over her face, mascara running down her fingers, “Mom, what’s wrong?” asked Mia, as she gave her mom a big hug.

Mom lowered her hands away from her face and she drunkenly muttered, “I just–it was–”

“Another bad night?” Mia asked sternly, and with that: mom raised her hands to her face and started sobbing again. Mia took a step back and continued her stern voice, “I don’t think you’re dating the right guys, and you’re trying way too hard. It shouldn’t be this difficult–”

“Difficult to what?!” Mom snapped back, “find true love? I don’t think I’ll be taking advice from my teenage daughter, who just writes about true love.”

“Grandma and Grandpa were true love! I’ve seen it too!” Mia raised her voice back, and then slammed her bedroom door and retreated back to her bed. In the hunched over position, she leaned into her hands and cried softly into them.

Meet the Main Characters HERE

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Challenging expectations

Start Writing Fiction | Week 5

Note: this is an exercise for the online course, listed above. Some material may be inappropriate for younger ages, I have rated it PG-13 due to sex talk.


“You can’t just–give in and have sex with any guy–ever!” My mom went through her whole hand motion routine too, as she was pacing back and forth in my bedroom. I was sitting on my bed with my notebooks scattered around my bedspread.

I pulled my knees into my chest and hugged them with my arms, “Would you just leave me alone? I don’t need to hear about your teenage problems and not knowing about safe sex and committing the dirty deed with a guy on the first date.”

She got stern and started pointing, “my parents did not have this, very uncomfortable, sex conversation with me until I was too old to hear it, and you know what?” She stopped in her pointing-tracks and looked right at me.

I knew the answer to her question, her pain and agony, so I sounded snarky, “you were pregnant with me and you didn’t know it yet.”

There was a dead silence that hung in the air and crept over my words. My feelings are usually hidden within a notebook, so saying this out loud is uncharted territory.

“Why would you say it like that?” Asked my anxious mother, now-turned soft and weepy. 

As I fumble for the words to say, “Yo-ou have had this conversation with me a million times.”

“I know, but I never want you to make the same mistake as me. I lost out on so much, I didn’t go to highschool or prom or anything that normal people my age were doing,” she was holding back tears.

I pushed my face into my knees and gave a muffled response, “I know. No sex is better than safe sex.”

“That’s right.” She walked over to my bed, kissed the top of my head, and exited quickly to sulk down the hallway as she walked to her own room.

I quickly grabbed a notebook and opened it up to a fresh page. After scribbling a date at the top, I started writing:

I should be doing my homework, but my mom sidetracked me…again.
She’s going on another first date…will he be the chosen one?
My dad was not the one…

I slammed the notebook shut and tried to fight the tears that were finding their way out. My mind was racing like wildfire: visions of my mom being my age and having sex and visions of my mom going out on first dates throughout my whole childhood.

I had a list in one of these notebooks with names of men–guys who came around the house. Some stayed longer than others, but no one has stayed forever. There’s only one guy I feel like he could be a good father figure, if he ever came back.

I started to think about the chant my mom ingrained in my brain: “No sex is better than safe sex.” But, my mom doesn’t follow the no sex rule, why should I? As long as I’m safe, I won’t get pregnant the first time like her...

Meet the Main Characters HERE

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Writing character

Start Writing Fiction | Week 4

I decided to use my coursework this week and further develop one of my main characters, Mandy. Including some What If questions that really got me thinking.

Mandy finds little interest in anything outside of drinking or men. She has a teenage daughter who is very self-sufficient and Mandy finds herself going to her daughter for support when she is intoxicated and having a bad time with men. Her handle on reality is skewed because she is an heiress who doesn’t need to work for anything, and she has a drunken perspective on life ever since her parents died.

Standing next to her daughter: they are the same height, both have brown eyes, long hair, and their wardrobe is similar with a black tank, jeans and sneakers. Some would guess they are sisters. Mandy is very aloof but her beauty makes her approachable, and as you begin a conversation with her long and dark eyelashes, you begin to see her tiger eyes that hide behind a curtain of bangs. Her eyes tell a story and you want to hear more, but only if you indulge her with a drink first.

What if Mandy woke up and all her money was gone? I don’t think she would know what to do at first, so there would be a panic. Her money is what provides her lifestyle, and unless she’s ok being homeless with a teenage daughter she will have to go out and get a job. One of her first “woe is me” calls would probably be to her financial advisor, Vinnie. 

What if Mandy woke up and found herself in rehab? She would be in denial about having a problem. Not being able to have “a drink” is a problem and if she found herself in a rehab facility, I don’t think she would be willing to try sobriety today. She would probably try to find a way out, and calling her driver, Ferdinand, would be her first attempt.

What if Mandy woke up as a sixteen year old again—and she could redo her first date with Mia’s baby daddy, what would she do differently? If she doesn’t have sex at the end of the date, that would mean Mia would not be conceived. Is that a change that Mandy would be willing to take? While Mandy has wished many times for that night to have never happened to avoid an unwanted teenage pregnancy, difficult young adult years, and inability to keep a man around…not having her daughter there to take care of her today would be a huge loss.

Meet the Main Characters HERE

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Generate something new

Start Writing Fiction | Week 3

Note: this is an assignment I submitted for the online course, linked above. Read the feedback HERE.

Most classmates don’t know I exist, which is ok with me. I try to sit in the back of the classroom, so I can doodle or write poetry in a notebook that’s secretly covered up with my textbook. As a high school freshman, most of my classes are a lot of work and I don’t do homework for anything but English. I have a pain that fills the pit of my stomach just thinking about school, so I reach for an empty notebook on the bottom of my bedroom bookshelf.

As I peel open the cover of the notebook, a photograph falls out. I pick it up off the floor and my eyes are instantly teary when I see Grandma and Grandpa posing on either side of meall dressed in our Easter best and I’m in a super poofy dress. It looks like I’m two years old in the photo, so I have no real memory of this time but I was with Grandma and Grandpa.

I have very little memory of them, but it feels like there is a hole in my life because they are not in it. Watching my mom’s life get turned upside-down when Grandma and Grandpa both tragically died in a car accident, is what my innocent five year old memory has been replaced with. Mom stopped going to college, she started drinking more, and she started dating a lot of different men.

I had a lot of alone time in my room, and when I was old enough to put words on paper I would scribble in my notebooks until bedtime. The stories that Grandma told me about her vacations around the world with Grandpa are the memories I tried to write about, and I would make stories about vacations around the world with imaginary friendsincluding Grandma and Grandpa. 

I held the picture up, and looked at it with no thought in mind except—this needs to be out so I can see it more. So I placed it on my vanity mirror. I don’t think you’ll see me in a poofy dress anytime soonI’ll stick to my comfy black sweatshirt and jeans. 

Read the feedback HERE

Meet the Main Characters HERE

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

writing

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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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

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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