writing

A Road to Finding Mom Friends

There are many different friendships out there. Some people have a lot of friends, some people have few friends, and some people have zero friends. I fall in the category of “few friends” so in my adult life I have thought that’s why I am close with the friends that I do have. But, the friends that I have today, as a working mom in metro-Detroit, are not friends that I have had my whole life…the road to finding mom friends started a very long time ago.

My first best friend was because our houses were kitty-corner from each other. Our parents both moved into their homes on Wyllys Street at the same time in the Summer of 1985. Kathy and I were both born that summer, we went through school together, and we were in the same social group through most of K-12.

After graduation, we parted ways and went to different colleges. Making friends in college was my next milestone to encounter. That takes me back to Central Michigan University in 2006, when I listened to Nelly Furtado and The Ying Yang Twins. I was single and the college mingle, so I never intended to make new friends…but the friends I did make had a lot to do with my overall college experience. I don’t remember the guy I danced with at the club, I remember the girl who drove me home from the club and we stopped to get fast food on the way.

To be honest about my college education, I didn’t meet these friends at the club, we met in class. The few friends I did meet were very close and stayed as close as we could years after graduation, but distance still parted us. Patty is now living her dream in Cali and Shannon is living her dream in Northern MI.

After college I met my husband, Randy. Fast-forward thirteen years to today: Randy and I are married with two beautiful daughters. Before the girls, it was just the two of us, so he was really in the place of a best friend for me.

It’s cliché to say I married my best friend because that isn’t true. It was my mistake ever thinking someone “From Mars” could be my best friend, haha! But really, married with young children I feel like a momma wolf tending to her cubs while daddy wolf is out hunting all day.

As momma wolf, it is part of survival to have a close friend. I need someone to talk to, I need someone to watch my cubs, I need someone to have playdates with regularly, so it makes sense to have a bff who lives close to home.

It’s not easy to make mom friends. Where do you meet other moms? How do you connect with them? I was introduced to other moms through my daughter’s school, it was on the first day of three year preschool when the teacher said, “look next to you because the people beside you will be like family.” I laughed this off at first, but she was right. It wasn’t until four year preschool ended that my relationship with another preschool mom really took off.

Coincidentally, our kids sat next to each other on the first day, and as moms we were standing there next to each other. We did not know that our friendship would grow one day, just like the teacher predicted. We should’ve followed our kid’s examples and became best friends that very first day.

But, I will reiterate, it’s not easy to make mom friends. Most families have boundaries, and all families are different. When you make friends with another mom, you also befriend and gain trust from their family. Making a mom friend doesn’t happen quickly.

Sam and I didn’t know how much we’d vibe as friends until our mommy paths crossed over and over again. We weren’t in each other’s college classes and we definitely didn’t grow up living across the street from each other, but the friends we have both endured up to this point have made us who we are today. The different lives we have both lived up to today have helped us find common ground as mothers.

I encourage you not to look too far for a friend, because you are already close to them.



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writing

Davey’s Birth Story

This is my second child’s birth story.

Ever since the beginning she has been compared to her older sister. Before she was born, we already knew it was not going to be a natural birth, like her older sister, but a c-section. Davey was very comfortable in a (breached) seated position, so we scheduled a c-section five days before her due date.

It started happening the weekend before her scheduled delivery, but I lost the ability to lift my left leg. It seemed like she was sitting just right, on my nerves. Randy would help me walk around the house, up and down the stairs when needed, and when he wheeled me into the hospital in a wheelchair, the doctor said, “last time I saw you, you were walking.” 

Which was true. So as the nurses were hooking me up to IV’s and taking my vitals, the doctor explained how my nerves are a risk and we should not take the chance with an epidural c-section, where I would stay awake and Randy would be present. Instead, they will put me under general anesthesia and deliver the baby in a surgical room, where Randy will not be present.

Our so-called birth plan was turned upside down. I had no vision of what a delivery like that would be. I never thought that I would be “put under anesthesia” for a delivery. And, Randy cannot be there? He was so excited to be present, and see my intestines, but also be there for the birth of the baby, just like he was for her older sister.

I went through a wave of emotions and tears, all while they continued to prep me for surgery. I had to be alright with this new birth plan. I had to be ok that I was not getting an epidural, and I had to be understanding that Randy would not be there.

I remember saying goodbye to Randy in the hallway, and wheeling through surgery doors to a very cold, clean room. A nurse was hovering above my head and talking to me as she counted down to the time for anesthesia. Then…

Davey Juliette was born on January 16, 2019 at 11:49am, weighing 7lbs 12 oz and measuring 21 inches.

When I woke up, I heard crying and slowly thought, “that must be my baby.” I was handed Davey, and I held onto her tightly. The tense feeling of pain in my abdomen was constant. Every muscle connected to my core was tight. As they wheeled me out, Randy was in the hallway, and we returned back to our hospital room. The nurses were getting me set up and I kept trying to tell Randy, “I feel tense” but I couldn’t get words out. “This is intense?” he asked me.

Frustration and pain were starting to set in, until they got the pain medication started. Our parents and oldest daughter were all patiently in the waiting room, but we weren’t allowed to have visitors come in yet because they wouldn’t be able to hold the baby.  I was instructed to keep holding her.

I knew that my Dad was in the waiting room, and he had to get on the road for work. I felt very strongly about wanting to see him, so they allowed him in. Having his calming presence and beaming love right there with baby Davey and I was the reassurance I needed. Holding my Dad’s hand that day is one of my stronger memories, and even though he wasn’t able to hold his granddaughter, he truly held his daughter in that moment.

The pain medication carried me through the hospital stay, so I remember who visited me but I don’t remember much about the conversation. Pretty quickly after Davey was born, the nerve issues with my leg went away, so everything happened as it was meant to.

Davey’s birth story seemed to happen not according to plan, but it was all Davey’s plan. Today I can say it’s truly Davey’s way or no-way as she is about to turn two years old in a few days. 

I’ve put off writing her birth story because compared to her older sister, I didn’t think there was much to actually write about. But bringing the memories to life that I do have, is still just as important because this is only the beginning of baby Davey’s story.

Read her older sister’s birth story HERE.

courses

Craft of Character | Notes

These are my notes from the Craft of Character online writing class.


WEEK 1

🌐 Conception

The heart of character is who matters to you. Not who you think will be interesting to other people, but what you care about. The heart of an interesting character is somebody that you’ve developed in your imagination, and then we work with the language to put that on the page.

Amy Bloom

Imagine a Character

  1. see them—as a physical being, the body of the character matters
    1. Create an entire list for how the person looks
  2. hear them—how do they sound, how do they express themselves? 
    1. Listen to them
  3. smell them—use all your senses
  4. Invest in the character—what draws you in?

What is at the core of characters is not that they are imaginary, what is at the core of them is your real feelings about them and your wish to make them come alive.

🌐 The Conflict Within

Every writer should aspire to create characters that have their own desires—that want things.

Memorable Dialogue should include two things:

  1. Deepen our understanding of the character
  2. Advance the plot

Dialog is what characters do to one another. It’s active, it moves the story forward.

What makes a memorable character? Desire—your character wants something.

Our flaws are often driven by what it is that we desire most.

Amy Bloom

Read more about Character Desire.

🌐 Desire and Goals

It’s important to give yourself permission to approach your characters and your story in as wide of range as possible. 

The most important part of dialogue is what it reveals about the speaker.

The requirement of the writer is to show, and show, and show some more. And then you get to tell a little bit.

🌐 Hearing, Selecting, and Seeing

What a writer does, in a certain way, is look at the world, leave out everything that isn’t part of the story at hand, and then examine very, very carefully that which remains.

Observation is how we get to know what people look like, what they sound like, how they feel to us, how they move in the world. How they interact with the other characters.

Empathy is the moment where we enter into the character. We don’t just see them and observe them, we see the world as they see it. We experience it as they see it.

Selecting or chipping away of that which does not serve our story. If it doesn’t help move the story along or illuminate the character, or make them visible to the reader, file away for later.

Continue reading “Craft of Character | Notes”
courses, learning

Craft of Character

Craft of Character

This 4-week long course is by Wesleyan University on Coursera

Amy Bloom does an excellent job in this course, a lot of my notes are words that she said throughout the course. I learned about and was reaffirmed of many key elements that are important for character development and character dialogue. I recommend this course to any fiction writer!

Jenni Laplow, August 2020

Craft of Character | Notes

writing

Character Desire

As I aspire to develop my characters further and write more words in my novel, I took the time to develop each character’s desire. That has shown to be a driving force in creating conflict, so it has proven to be helpful as I try to continue writing all the words.

Here are some of my notes from the online course Craft of Character that have helped me develop character desire:

Every writer should aspire to create characters that have their own desires–your character wants something. Our flaws are often driven by what it is that we desire most, and that makes a memorable character.

It’s important to give yourself permission to approach your characters and your story in as wide of range as possible. Use the character’s voice to explain desires–what are they? This will help you make the character matter to the reader.

Desires may lead to character conflict. If you’re stuck in a story, just have another character walk into the room. Create conflict–something uncomfortable, difficult, or incredibly intimate.

It’s important to craft your characters in such a way that they have distinct voices that the reader can identify, to help identify the story. Whose story is it? Whose desire is driving the story?

Read more about my Main Characters HERE
Read more about my Men Characters HERE

writing

Character Sketch

Start Writing Fiction | Week 5

Character Sketch Assignment: Choose one of the methods below, one which is least familiar to you, one you have never tried before:

  • Imagine a character very like you but give them a dramatic external alteration. You might make the character the opposite sex, for example, or make them significantly older or younger. You choose.
  • Imagine a character very like someone you have observed – but give them a dramatic external alteration. You might make the character the opposite sex, for example, or make them significantly older or younger. You choose.
  • Create a character purely on the basis of your imagination or intellectual conception.
  • Create a character using any of the above methods in combination.

Now write a brief character sketch, around 300–500 words, in which you reveal certain aspects of the character. Use a third-person narrator (‘he’ or ‘she’). Here are some things you might like to include in your sketch but this is not an exclusive list – you may not include all of these aspects; you may include other aspects:
appearance
feelings
current circumstances
occupation
voice
attitudes
hopes and fears

Read the assignment I wrote, below, then read the feedback I received from fellow writers.

Mr. Smith stood there with his thumbs in his belt loops and tips of his fingers in his pockets; the dark colored belt stood out against his light khaki pants. His khakis were pulled up so high, maybe it was an attempt to cover up his mid-30’s belly, but the tightly tucked-in white button-up shirt did not hide much.

He lifted his left hand to his big, round glasses and pushed them up on his long nose. He wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. I wonder how he got to be so nerdy? There’s no way he has a girlfriend…

Mr. Smith turned with his side-hair slick staying in place and spoke to me in front of the class:

“Mia! Stop daydreaming and finish the reading quiz. You have 15 minutes until the end of class!”

He stormed across the front of the classroom with his hands in his pockets and plopped into his desk chair. A few students snickered at the disruption and a few giggled at the teacher making a scene.

I felt embarrassed by his reaction. So, once my cheek color turned back to normal, I promptly finished the reading quiz.

When the bell rang, I was the last one to drop the quiz off at his desk. He tilted his head down and looked over his glasses at me. “Is there a reason you are distracted today?” He asked in that fatherly tone.

“Why are you so concerned about me? Why not someone else?” 

“Because you’re my best student,” he smiled, reclined back in his seat and slid his hands behind his head, “I expect a lot from you and when I see you daydreaming I’m only trying to help.”

“I’ve had a difficult time…”

He forcefully pulled his arms down and sat up, “I get it. I’ve seen it in your writing lately,” he picked up a pen and started twirling it between his fingers, “I wanted to tell you about the high school literary journal. I think you should submit something—it can be anonymous if you choose.”

I stood in front of his desk which was a messy disarray of papers, and just held tightly onto my journal, “you mean get published?”

“Yes. Not many freshmen do it, so I think you would stand out.” He paused and stood up. “I see you write a lot about your mother. I was the same way.”

I stood there like a sponge, soaking in what he was saying, but I couldn’t believe he was being so candid with me. “I, uh—“ was then abruptly saved by the one minute warning bell.

“Go along now, you don’t want to be late to your next class.” He said with his fingers back in his pockets and he nodded his head towards the door.

I don’t know if Mr. Smith creeps me out more or makes me smile more. I guess it hurts me to see students make fun of him, for how personable he is about my writing. No other teacher has made me feel this way before.

Meet more characters in my story HERE.

writing

Poetry Submissions

I was inspired when I saw a writing contest on Instagram hosted by @thewritingkingdom

The criteria for the poetry category was: write a poem about grief, loss, or/and sadness. I definitely have a few of those in my writing collection, so it was a blast to pull them out and bring them to life again for the contest! I submitted multiple pieces, and one of them WON!

Endless Hole

Down the hole
is where I lost my soul.

I was looking for my life,
when I lost my soul.

Enchanted by my hate,
he watched me lose my soul.

Friendsunk

Those girls
are two peas in a pod,
smiling and hugging like
they will be sisters forever.
Unaware their friendship
is the Titanic
minutes before it hits
an iceberg.

Their conversation turns gruesome
becoming snarls of a wild lion
protecting its dinner. Like the
countdown to a new year,
their friendship is over and
viewed by onlookers who stare
like kids watching fireworks.

Their friendship becomes
a sunken ship,
only creating ripples of water
when they pass in the halls.
Their companionship forgotten,
just like the one-hit wonder
who sang Achy Breaky Heart.


Drum roll, please…I’m excited about THIS ONE winning, because it’s a poem I’m using in my novel! [One of my MC‘s is a teenage girl who loves to write, and to help me find her voice I pulled out some of my own teenage poetry from 2001-2003.] Sometimes the words you wrote long ago will still be the words you use today.

Thrown into the hole
with no bottom,
I grasp for leverage between my sobs of failure.
There is no way for me to survive,
but only fall with the tears forever.
The hole continues to pull me faster,
I see my future never changing,
never being successful.
I only continue to cry because there is nothing I can do.

Until, I met you.
Until, you changed the hole into a sea of comfort.
I no longer fall down this dark, damp hole
because your strong hands pulled me up.
I can see bright rays of sunshine,
your eyes staring at me with assurance
that my future is no longer non-existent.
You saved me.

Thank you for reading! Please follow me on Instagram.

writing

Meet the Men Characters

Writing a story with male characters is an ongoing development as a female author. My main characters are female [mother & daughter] but their stories are told with and about the men in their lives too. Here is a glimpse of their character development.

Mr. Smith – This is Mia’s English teacher who really pushes her to submit writing to the high school literary journal because he has been impressed by her writing. Read a portion of the novel with this character HERE.

Jean Paul Jones “JPJ” – This is Mia’s tutor. He graduated high school at the top of his class, so he offers tutoring for high school students while being enrolled in college full time. Read a portion of the novel with this character HERE.

Vinnie – This is Mandy’s financial advisor. He is married, but they have a dating history from long ago. They’ve been able to keep their professional relationship PG, until recently. Read a portion of the novel with this character HERE.

Cam – This is Mandy’s new fling. They recently met and have been going out on dates.  He is emotionally unavailable because he’s going through a divorce, but when they go out they laugh and have fun together. Read a portion of the novel with this character SOON.

Trey – This is Mandy’s on again, off again boyfriend that seems to come around when he needs money to help the construction business he owns. Always making big promises about staying together and building a life together, but once he pays back the money, he seems to disappear until he needs another loan for a job. They have been a couple for a total of two years. When he is around, he stays at Mandy’s home, and he has a great relationship with her daughter. Mia actually thinks of him as the only suitable father-figure in her life. Trey is confident. His conflicts stem from his anger issues and his lack of commitment.

Meet the Main Characters

writing

Meet the Main Characters

A single mother, Mandy, and teenage daughter, Mia, are separately fighting for attention from the men in their lives. They have a traumatic past, and Mandy’s alcoholism brings them to a place of ultimatums as a broken family.

Mandy is a single 30 year old mother who spends her days drinking and dating multiple men. She had her daughter, Mia, very young, so was home-schooled through high school while her parents helped raise Mia. Her parents died when Mia was almost 5, and left a large inheritance enough-so having a source of income is not needed to survive. Mandy did not continue on with college after her parents passed, but took on raising Mia on her own in her deceased parent’s home. 

Mandy’s Conflict – While she is insistent on having open communication with her own daughter about safe sex, she is not the best role model for a solid relationship. The heavy drinking and unstable relationships cause her to be emotional and unrealistic about life.

See how I further write Mandy’s character HERE.

Mia is a 14 year old high school freshman who has a lot of questions about what life is really all about. She does well in English class because she has the creative mind to write, and she has found poetry is her outlet to frustration with strong encouragement from her English teacher.  Her mom hires a tutor for Mia to help in all the classes she’s failing. Mia falls deeply in love with her tutor, and tries to become girlfriend status.

Mia’s Conflict – Her only role model is breaking at the seams emotionally from her heavy drinking, so starting high school has been very difficult and she is not doing well in most of her classes. She has no father figure to look up to and keeps tabs on her mother and all the men she brings around; longing for one of them to stick around so her mother can stop drinking and be happy. Since her mother has had many talks about safe sex, it has her thinking about finding a boyfriend and having sex asap. 

See how I further build Mia’s character HERE.

Meet the Men | Characters