Conversations Through Art

Today, I was supposed to be the host of a Conversation Cafe series put on by my campus’ Student Programs. I was going to talk about my cross-stitch hobby, and I was excited to show off my piece that won best in show at the local fair:

Obviously that isn’t happening, but just like in other times in my life, cross-stitching has been helping me cope with the changes going on in my life.

I found a cute little design from Heaven and Earth called Storykeep Storykeeper. It’s a cropped portion of Selina French’s artwork, and I loved it! I showed a daily update of my progress on Instagram, and it was a fun way to connect with people while everything felt so disordered.

When I started it, we were told that we’d only be out for a few weeks. I’m on day 34 of isolation and the project took me roughly 20 days with a few days of not working on it. (I’m not ashamed to admit that I hurt my pinky finger playing high stakes tetherball with the youngest…)

I love cross-stitch because beauty grows from small steps that don’t seem to be going anywhere until you back away from it. Then you can see that when you were in the blur of a section, you were really creating a meaningful part of a bigger picture, one that is often appreciated by those around you.

So today, I want to have a conversation about art! What have you created during the change in your daily routine, or what would you secretly like to attempt but have been too afraid to? What questions do you have about creating work?

When You Are Fired from Being Santa, but the Spirit Lives On

“I’ve been holding onto these,” my son said with a wink. “How much will you pay for them?”

I opened the tiny case, and inside were three baby teeth. His little sister was sitting right next to me at the coffee table. She looked down at them with as much disgust as I did.

Mind you, my son is fourteen. Neither of us have declared the non-existence of the mythical creatures in our lives, but we both knew how these schemes worked. I obviously had my motives: I didn’t want to ruin the magic of the events. I love being Santa, although to be honest, I was a crappy tooth fairy. My son didn’t want to ruin his cash cow, and to ensure that he kept getting gifts, he would help keep his cover by vehemently defending Santa and the Easter Bunny to his little sister. But he had kept these teeth for months, saving them for when he needed money. His need to get a Fortnite Battle Pass was outweighing his need to keep his cover. Given that it was July and Christmas was a long time away, I couldn’t blame him for choosing the immediate concern.

 “I’m pretty sure the tooth fairy only takes fresh teeth,” I replied. “And I paid the dentist to remove them, so why would I pay for them now?”

My youngest rolled her eyes and said, “Mom, we know.” But it wasn’t just a simple statement. There was major emphasis on the “know” that made it heavy with accusation and understanding. My cover as blown!

All kids come to a point when they know that Santa doesn’t exist. I realized it myself when I was eight. I had made custom bracelets for all the reindeer and later found them under the couch cushions. Like my son, I didn’t say anything. I just let the magic die.

 I didn’t want that for my kids, so I had been planning for this day:

I explained that when kids are younger, they have a hard time conceptualizing abstract ideas that lead to them to be good people, like generosity, kindness, and empathy. It’s easier to teach these constructs when they have concrete examples. Additionally, kids can understand at a young age that a person has a role that they play, for example, doctors heal and teachers provide us with the opportunity to learn. Having these constructs within a corporeal form gives parents the opportunity to show examples of what it means to be good and generous. As such, Santa exists to teach children goodness in the world. Now Santa is most certainly not the only way to teach these constructs; it’s better in my opinion that the adults in their lives be examples of these things, but it’s easy to have Santa be these examples because society by and large helps to promote him. Although, society’s reasons are largely capitalistic, and therefore actually selfish… but not the point!  

As kids get older, they realize that teachers don’t live at school and it’s impossible for one man to travel around the world delivering billions of presents. What a lot of people have trouble understanding is that when kids are old enough to understand the abstract ideas, they also learn another truth: the people they trust the most can and do lie to them. Thus, the good lessons that parents were attempting to teach are tainted, making it easy to sweep these lessons under the rug. I didn’t want that for them; I wanted them to focus on the good lessons, and if they could focus on “being the Santa” and understand the value of generosity, kindness, and empathy, they would be better people for it.  

That’s a heavy kind of conversation to have with kids, but they nodded in all the right places. My youngest, per usual, asked a million questions, but we came to a consensus that they would think of others, and more importantly to them, it wouldn’t affect their own gifts at Christmastime.

That was back in July when we faced our hardest summer, financially. They learned a lot of lessons this year, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if the lessons that I had tried to convey in our conversation had been forgotten.

But they weren’t.

When December rolled around, they didn’t have a million things on their list that they wanted; they actually had a bigger interest in getting things for the family and not themselves, essentially adopting the Santa role for the people they care about. I could see they were getting the idea of being generous, but I wanted them to branch their Santa spirit outward beyond the family, so we set out to donate toys to charities. That seemed easy enough, but then I learned of a child whose mother was conflicted. Her son had never asked Santa for anything, and now that he was, she couldn’t make it happen. I knew this was a key opportunity to help a child that they knew by helping his Santa, the very concrete thing that would cement the giving spirit that I wanted them to emulate. They were on board, in fact, they were excited! They pooled what money they had left, hustled me and my mom for more money, and thus helped to continue the spirit of giving during the Christmas season.

It’s times like these when I think that maybe I am worthy of parenting two amazing kids.

Now I recognize that there is more to Christmas than gifts, but that is not the focus of this blog post. I’m providing my own story to help parents transition children from believing in Santa into being kind and generous members within society, although I suppose as time passes, we’ll know if these lessons truly stick or not.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Here’s to all becoming more generous and kind people in the upcoming year.

Vampires… in SPACE!: Reviewing Rob Bartlett’s The Turing Revolt.

I was generously given the opportunity to review Robert Bartlett’s novel that came out last year titled The Turing Revolt: The War Against Infinity Book 1. I was given a PDF version to review.  You, however, can get it from Amazon. I was given permission by the author use quotes to develop this review, so let this serve as your warning that I present some potential spoilers.

Also check out his website and follow him on Twitter.

I love sci-fi. If I had to relate this book to other notable media it would be the plot of Star Trek with the character development of Lost Girl. So, if you’re into those, this might be up your alley. I think that adding earth fantasy into science fiction is an untapped goldmine. It’s certainly not anything, I’ve come across yet. Bartlett is a writer with ideas!

Bartlett writes, “One of the chief characteristics of successful vampires is a hugely inflated sense of self, a megalomaniacal ego,” and this description serves to describe the protagonist, Milo Sapphire, to the T. Like I’ve said, Bartlett has such great ideas, his world building mirrors Star Trek closely only with a more natural capitalist twist, but we’re stuck having to see it through the lens of a character who reminded me too much of the guys who wouldn’t leave my desk when I worked in the hotel industry. They knew I had to stand there for eight hours listening to them go on and on, which would always evolve into larger, more unbelievable tales as the night went on. And at the moment they thought I should react, they’d say something, like maybe a “heh” (looking at you Milo Sapphire with your 51 Heh’s at the end of narrative sentences), and I would purse my lips and nod my head to acknowledge that I heard them, but really I had given up listening a long time ago. As such, there was no actual room for character development. He’s already too awesome, the literal chosen one of He/it.

There was great world building, superior to most indie books, I’d say, but like the character development, it got bogged down by the narrator having to tell us over and over again how strong and powerful he was. <~ When it came to the point in the storyline for him to show how big and strong he was through action, it didn’t get delivered, and when it’s realized by the narrator that it wasn’t delivered, there’s continuous “well what happened was…” Additionally, there are at least four non-earth worlds, and at least 2 different sentient races, and we barely get any description on the planets or the ecosystems because that’s not the what the narrator is concerned about showing off, unless it’s determining the race’s (or tech’s) gender. He seemed real hung up about ensuring there was some binary construct, or giving detailed explanations well after the item has been introduced. As such, my needs as a science fiction enthusiast did not match up with the narrator’s descriptive capabilities. But I know Bartlett can bring it, he’s shown that through the complex plot structure. I’m going to lean towards the notion that maybe he didn’t think the audience cared about those details as much, or he was true to the persona of Milo Sapphire and intentionally left it out.  

If you are someone who gets a little bogged down by grammar concerns, be aware that this text has minor errors throughout it, none of which inherently prevent the context from being understood. (There are ten that I found on the first page of Chapter One, and they are still present in at the least Amazon digital copy of this piece, so I assume the text that I received hasn’t been altered from what could be purchased). Personally, the author writes this conversationally, as if the narrator is speaking directly to the audience, and thus writes heavily with the personality of Milo Sapphire in mind, so I think the errors are an element of helping to display the character’s true persona. Additionally, there is a lot of repetition in what is delivered, but I rationalized it, again, as the personality of the narrator. Finally, the chapters are short, and sometimes things like a conversation gets broken up into multiple chapters, which I assume is for emphasis. For example, one conversation spans eleven pages and four chapters.

Like I said, I had the pervy desk stalkers in mind when I read this, so I’m not surprised that all the women are described based on items like shrugging “her shoulders in frustration making her barely contained breasts jiggle distractingly causing several boyfriends to get slapped by their female companions for so obviously ogling her” (I chose this one because it also displays the grammar that is presented throughout the text). There is only one woman (a female accountant who is only mentioned in one sentence) that isn’t viewed from a very misogynistic lens. Even the avatar of one of the sentient ships is described as “she wasn’t appealing to me as a potential playmate for the evening, unlike the lovely young lady whose view was now blocked by three strangers,” and Milo Sapphire states this comparison twice in adjoining paragraphs. As a female reader, I would define this depiction as concerning. I value representation of women to be a make or break in what I read, so if I’m being honest, if I wasn’t being asked to review this piece, I would have stopped reading after the first chapter. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily bad; more so a recognition that I am not the key demographic for this piece.Although to be fair, the males are viewed descriptively from a similar lens. The only physical description that Sapphire gives of himself is “while I don’t brag about it, I’m generously endowed” and of course that endowment must be used to save a woman from the clutches of a succubus. Women are literally throwing themselves at him at every turn because he’s so powerful (note not handsome, his physical description as far as I could see was never noted. The women are purely attracted to his ability to pump out pheromones and be the baddest dude in the room.)

The main concern I have is when the narrator clearly defined his instance with Nikki as rape, but he rationalizes it as being ok because another woman (a rape survivor herself), his vampire subordinate along with his subordinate, and his AI say it’s the only way to save her. He fully commits to raping (or dominating) Nikki, but to save face (and likely backlash) the woman comes out of her stupor to say, “Please make me yours. Her hold is weakened but it’s still there. Please take me now!” It’s every Incel’s wet dream… and my need to shower to cleanse my soul from the whole experience. Despite that concern, I could see Bartlett trying to walk this fine line that he created, and even with the RED FLAG I addressed, he did his best to dance around it. I haven’t read any of his other works, so it’s hard to say if this is the byproduct of trying to stick within the boundaries presented in the fantasy lore he sets up and the personality of the character, or if it’s just Bartlett trying to live out his fantasies via writing. My gut says it’s the former, because he had plenty of other opportunity to throw in further gratuitous sex scenes, but he didn’t.

Finally, the ending. There isn’t one. It’s a cliffhanger intent on gearing you up for Book 2. Zero closure to any of the issues that were presented, although there was some conversations about the beauty of bureaucracies intentionally delaying some of the conflict. Personally, I don’t mind cliffhangers, assuming there will be a quick release of the next one, but if you don’t like that, maybe wait until the series is over to purchase this book.

Currently, it is $0.99 from Amazon, so you won’t be breaking the bank if you choose to purchase it. I am looking forward to seeing how Book 2 develops, given the wide range of reviews presented on GoodReads.

Winter Reads

I work for a community college, and in higher academia, we are blessed with having a winter break that spans a little over a month. My years have taught me that I have to be careful with this time, because it feels like I have a lot of it. I do; it just goes quickly, leaving me wondering what exactly did I do during break other than binge watch Community and SuperStore?

This break, I am setting myself up for success! I’m going to use this time to invest in my independent author community. I asked the #writingcommunity writers to suggest some books to read, and they delivered, giving me a range of exciting stories to read during the coldest, darkest Connecticut winter months!

Here is a list of my line-up as well as a link to purchase the books, if you are break as well and want to do a pseudo bookclub.

No Water for the Desert by Brittany Buckner

Addressed to Kill by Keith Wright

Girl: Repurposed by Meaghan Curley

The Road To Revelation: The Beginning by Clifford T Wellman Jr

Return to Hades and Other Adventures by Iseult Murphy

Songbird: a novel of the Tudor Court by Karen Heenan

The War in Our Hearts by Eva Seyler

Good & Faithful Heretic: Poems of Protest by Sarah Joy Green-Har

I’d love to continue to support my fellow Indie Authors, so if you come across a book that deserves to be added to the list, let me know!

Happy Winter Break!

How I do NaNoWriMo: One woman’s reflection of the process.

This morning, I was like, hey! When is National Novel READING Month, but I was informed by my kids that NaNoReMO is a year long affair. However, states that in 2003, the National Book Foundation recognized October as National Book Month. We missed it this year, readers. Mark your calendars though, because we will be doing it to the extreme next year!

We are on day seven of celebrating the month designated in the writing world as National Novel Writing Month.

I wanted to address three things that my excitement in the previous post didn’t allow.

  1. I am not a National Novel Writing Month Master. In the past, I avoided it because I was not in a position to put myself into a 50k surplus of words. The first time that I entered NaNoWriMo was last year, and I was successful only because I trained.

I have spent years writing, building my literary muscles, and learning strategies that have made me relatively successful in meeting goals that I set in place. I also have a work environment that promotes writing, and I have amazing coworkers and mentors who are continually checking in on me. I have a relaxed home life with no expectations that consume all of my time. I am one of the blessed.

I also have a kickass kitty editor:

2. I was asked the other day, if your main objective is to just get 50,000 words in a month, aren’t they going to be really crappy? For example, you could just blather on about the blue sky, or well maybe it was more gray but at either rate something that made your character think it was about too to rain, which thus altered their mood and made the whole day seem pretty blahworthy? <~ in other words, wouldn’t you just be putting words on a page, and not really have accomplished much if you’re going to revise them out?

I agree that sounds like a waste, and I’m not going to claim that people don’t do that. However, I would say to give me more credit than that. I am as equally likely to put an excess amount of words into my drafts even when I’m not tracking them, not because I’m a bad writer, but because I know that my main goal in creating a draft is getting words on a page. My focus is on my ideas, or what I’m visualizing, which can change as I gain more clarity through the act of writing. I embrace the sloppiness and redundancy of my drafts no matter what time of year.

Despite my bravado in the previous paragraph, I was curious, so I looked back at a rough draft of a piece that I had started in September. It was a short story, still kind of crappy and needing a lot of revision. In this piece, I did what I’d like to call a very skeletal telling of the situation. The plot was moving on, but there was no real description of anything. There was also a lot of dialogue that felt awkward (Do people still say Greetings?). Then, I looked at what I had written on the first day of Nano. My first day of NaNo work was superior to the short story. But it wasn’t because I was focused on getting words out and spending more of my time writing, I credit the fact that I did more prep work for my NaNo project. For the NaNo project, I had spent October detailing things so I had a clearer picture, and because I had a clearer picture, it was easier to bring the words out. I don’t really know the characters in my September short story yet, so sometimes they became stiff as I was writing about them. As such, I would say that NaNo is not affecting my ability to write efficiently, plotting is. And it’s not to say that my September piece won’t eventually be on the same level, it just means I took a different approach to get there.

3. My biggest secret to the NaNoWriMo experience is that I don’t write all day, nor do I write in large spans of time. Never have, even as an academic writer, and to me, an hour is too long. During NaNo, there has not been a day so far that I haven’t been able to sit down and do some level of ninja writing sprints. In these sprints, I don’t look at 50k, I look at 500 words. I’m just going to commit to sitting wherever I am at, watching my characters, and seeing how they interact with each other… for 500 words. Sometimes it takes ten minutes, others 20-40 minutes, but after that, I am off to do something else.

I don’t make it a habit to be consumed with writing so that I become burned out. You will never catch me trying to sit down for more than 40 minutes to write, and this is a model that I celebrate throughout the year. The only thing that has changed during NaNo is how many times that will I sit down and sprint throughout the day. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t go over 500 words; I have on several occasions, if I am in the zone. I just don’t expect it.

I also don’t do any writing after 7 p.m. unless I am at work on Thursdays.  I embrace the me time during these hours, but again, I have a schedule and support network that allows me to do this. Not everyone has that luxury.

I am really curious to see what every one else’s tricks to NaNoWriMo are. What tricks do you find successful that I can add to my toolbox?

Or what are your reasons for not attempting NaNo? It’s not for every writer, and these reasons are just valuable.  

National Novel Writing 2019 Edition

Forget Halloween and dressing up for candy, it’s time to talk about my favorite time of year:

National Novel Writing Month! NaNoWriMo is an organization that collaborates with writers and helps them receive resources, thus allowing them to reach success within their projects. I’m a long time fan, and have blogged about it numerous times in the past.

This year’s project is a bit tricky:

My mother asked me to write a romance Navy-Sealesque type story for her birthday. She’s big into these type of books, which have quite a huge range to choose from. I got about one chapter done before scrapping it. Commission writing is hard, especially when you’re not getting paid for it, but the idea I had in mind stuck with me. Then, I had a genius idea to synthesize it with a previous story that I also scrapped. Throw in another romantic duo and BAM, an idea is ready to spring forth into fruition!  It’s unlike anything that I have written before, and definitely not like the romance books my mom reads, but I’m excited to see how it all comes together.

This is the first time that I have done some serious prepping for my upcoming project. I created an index: character profiles, histories of each country involved, and all the socio-political issues being faced. I’m quite proud of myself!

I also created a log to accompany me around, which was great in helping me strategize when I can write. In theory, 1667 a day seems doable, until you run into a day where you have only 3 hours free. As a result, my daily count ranges from 500-3,000 a day to make sure that I can maximize my free days and not stress about the days that aren’t. If I keep on track, I will have no trouble reaching the hefty 50,000 goal.

However, there lies the one catch to this whole process. To get to 50,000 words in a 30 day window, I have to be really focused, especially since I am a turtle writer. One missed 3,000 day will instantly derail me. And I have a lot of distractions to contend with. I have a new writing buddy, who is only seven weeks and eager to have my attention at all times. I have work, which often exhausts me because it comes with a huge mental load. I have a family and their numerous activities. NaNoWriMo is a serious test of perseverance.

And if that were not enough, I like to take NaNoWriMo to the extreme. On top of writing, I will be reading The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. When I saw this for sale in a scholarship bookfair event on campus, I knew that it would be perfect for November.

For audio pleasure this month, I will be listening to You Do You by Sarah Knight. It’s not about writing, which I try to stick to each year, but I felt like this had the right energy to keep things in perspective. Plus, her Tedx Talk puts me in the right mood to be reminded of how valuable my time is, and to spend it wisely. There’s no extra f*cks during National Novel Writing Month!

Anyone else doing NaNoWriMo?

Do You Have to Read to Be a Great Writer?

This has come up often in my various online writing groups:

There’s a writer, new to the world of compiling stories in a text based format. Like me, they want to be the next Ms. J.K. Rowling…

They have a manuscript ready for review and are eager to either workshop or jump straight into finding the agent that will make their dreams come true.

The only catch: they haven’t read a book in years, and this really doesn’t sit well with a lot of other writers. “How can you not love reading?” the other writers ask. The non-readers become pariahs in a community that was meant to support them.

In their defense, aren’t writing and reading separate activities with one being passive and the other active?

To me, it’s ok that that non-reading writers do not read; I’m not out to manage anyone else’s time, but I’m wondering if writers can become great if they don’t.

I tried to do some research.

I put “Famous authors who don’t like to read,” into Google, but I only found various sites telling me that this idea doesn’t exist. In order to write you MUST read! Article after article says it, so it must be true. On the other hand, there are some Reddit threads of people thinking it’s ok for writers to not read.

There’s an article from Salon; however, that I found interesting. It attributed a growing list of writers not reading to our culture:

Or maybe the bolder point is that craft is of little interest to certain want-to-be writers. In our 15-megabytes of fame culture that favors quantities — friends, followers, number of comments — over quality this might be what it all comes down to, because if you can be recognized and rewarded as a writer without being much of a reader, guess what, most people will not try to read James Joyce.

Is it fair to say that all non-reading writers are just out for the fame? Sure, especially when a lot of reading writers are doing it for the same reasons.

I will openly admit that I have not had a huge amount of sales, but I have two shrines in various workplaces with my books on display. Whether these people have read my work or not, they know I have tangible books out there in the world that people are reading, thus identifying me as a writer. The books don’t have to be good for this to be part of my identity; they just have to exist. I love identifying as a writer and that others identify me as one.

To conclude, my research didn’t really answer my question on whether you have to read to be a great writer.

If anything, it led to more.

Despite respecting the non-reading writers, I haven’t lost hope in converting them into avid readers. Sometimes we just need to be introduced to a new perspective.

Here is my response to the top three reasons that I’ve been told why writers don’t read:

There’s never enough time:

That’s a valid point no matter what a person is trying to accomplish. There are only 24 hours in a day. Other than a serious dedication to time management, it’s hard to find a solution to this universal problem. Do you really have zero time to read, or do you not want to invest your time on it? Even 10 minutes a day is better than 0. I learned that philosophy from Hal Eldrod’s Miracle Morning.

In 10 minutes a day, maybe you could get a book read every few months. That puts you leagues ahead of fellow non-readers!

Which leads to the next reason also involving time: It takes away from writing time.

This is also legitimate. I read less when I’m writing, and write less when I’m reading, but I’m still always doing both within my day. When I was going for my B.A. in Creative Writing, I had already developed a deep link between reading and writing (which is probably why I am super judgmental in regards to writers needing to read). It was necessary to budget time for writing because it was part of my degree program, but I didn’t have the same level of eustress to manage reading. As such, I mentally converted reading time into an “Independent Study.” Every class that I enrolled within I found a book to correlate with it. For example, when I took a non-fiction workshop, I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. With this philosophy, I made reading a priority, thus furthering my inability to separate reading from writing.

But ugh.. sometimes reading isn’t pleasurable, which is fair, especially if you were forced to read texts like the Scarlet Letter in high school. Writing and reading; however, are like muscles. They need to be exercised and diving into extreme sports, like 1000 pages of The Stand by Steven King, can cause serious brain fatigue. Ease into it, grasshopper!  If you aren’t swallowing novels like they’re tic tacs, that’s ok. There are some amazing short stories out there, like Donald Barthelme’s “The School.” They can give you the same satisfaction as reading novels. There’s a yearly anthology that I love called The Best American Short Stories, which has some of our best contemporary authors compiled together just for you! A couple of pages a day can introduce you to great writers.

Now that I have addressed the reasons non-reading writers don’t want to read during their writing journey, here’s three reasons why I think you should:

Passion is hard to keep consistent when you’re writing. My first official novel took 2 years to complete from start to finish. It took J.R.R. Tolken twelve years to write The Lord of the Rings. If you are curious about other turtle paced writers check out this article: 7 Novels That Took Their Authors Years To Write (To Make You Feel Better About Not Finishing NaNoWriMo). Reading keeps you invested in the project even after your writing bug has disappeared. Additionally, it shows you that if books like those listed on the worst books can get published, it means your book can get published, too! <~ although hopefully it doesn’t show up on the worst books list.

Like I’ve said before, I’m a big time book pusher. When I’m talking about my book, I’m also pushing other books. “Oh you liked mine? Check out this one next!” This allows me to move beyond my one and done book and be a wealth of information for my readers, which keeps them coming back! It lets them see that I am just like them! I care about my readers, and I know they’ll appreciate my recommendations. Bonus points if they have recommendations for me! In the independent book selling market, this level of connection with readers is crucial.

I learned a lot from my creative writing classes, but none of the education really sunk in until I saw it in practical application. Reading immerses you into various techniques and styles, allowing you as a writer to better develop your own. By reading books, I learned about flow of ideas, how better it is to show vs. tell, and where to insert physical description. I also learned to reflect on my responses to what I was reading and utilize these to project the same responses for my audience. As such, reading has made me a better writer. Beta reading has made me an even better writer.

At the end of the day, if you’re a writer who doesn’t like to read, you probably didn’t read this post (totally ok; it kind of lost my attention at the end as well). If you did, you just read like 1000+ words, so you can now say you’re a reader. Kudos!

Am I saying that you have to be reader to write, nope, but I am saying that if you want to be a GREAT, you should.

If you have any recommendations of books that turned you from a non-reader into a reader, please share them in the comments. I’d love to see what books brought others to the reader side.  

Grandma to Turtles?

In class, my daughter was dubbed “Clumsy Turtle,” which has led to a near obsession the past few months of all things turtle related:

A collection of turtle trinkets is forming. This is one we found at the local coffee shop.

Naturally, she wants a pet turtle.

I really REALLY don’t want another pet. I mean I want them in the fact that having a new pet is exciting. But a turtle? They don’t look the snuggly type. And does she want a turtle because she loves the creatures, or is she infatuated with her nickname connection to them?

To figure that question out, I bought some time and told her that she needed to do some serious research on turtle care and wait awhile to see if this was still what she wanted. That same day, my daughter blew through my room, her laptop in hand. She had compiled a list of detailed care instructions for the three most common varieties of pet turtles. (I say compiled because she straight up no shame in her game copy and pasted things without citing references. Have I taught her nothing?!) At the bottom, she had itemized a cost of all the supplies. The only thing she couldn’t find was how much the turtle themselves cost, otherwise, it was incredibly thorough.  

We drove to three pet stores the next day. One was nearby. No turtles. The second one we went to was larger, but even they had no turtles. My daughter asked a clerk why. He said that they had received an order of turtles, but they couldn’t sell them. Not until Saturday, which also happened to be their annual Reptile Rally. The turtles would be 50% off then. Finally, we went to a smaller pet store. And they actually had a turtle!

Which is where I saw some information that my daughter conveniently left off of her list of information. Turtles can live up to 25 years! Say what now?!

That’s a long shelf life!

The next step was to call our vet and see if they cover turtles. I assume they do. Their logo has a bunch of animals, turtles included, so it would be a major case of false advertisement if they didn’t. However, I expect full and complete leg work of my child if she expects to bring a new life into this home.

Meanwhile, I started some research of my own. I learned that the reason that the second shop couldn’t sell their turtles to us was because they were red eared sliders, which are considered an invasive species in my state. I know that I should be concerned by that, but I’m not going to lie: When I heard that, I thought why can’t I just go and find some in the wild then and save $40? I kid…

My next set of research was to see if there were any turtles in the local shelters. There weren’t, but there is an organization a state away called Turtle Rescue League. On their page, they state that red-eared sliders are the most abandoned pet in the country- which if I’m being honest makes me very sympathetic to the idea of getting one now. You poor, abandoned creatures!

On the other hand, if that sucker lives 25 years, it IS like bringing another child into the home. In fact, we talked about how our dog and cats are like children to me, in that their needs will sometimes have to supersede my own. On our way to day camp today, I stressed that this turtle will not be her sibling. It will be her first “child,” and I expect her to give it that level of care. I said I’d treat it like a grandchild, spoiling it and watching it when she needed me to, but at the end of the day, that turtle is going home with its momma…

Photo curtesy of

There is a knowledge digestion period that we’re now in. We must let all the information we’ve learned sink in before making a decision, which kids have a hard time doing. Everything must be NOW! Let’s face it, that’s probably why so many turtles are abandoned.

I have a feeling though that before the summer is out, I’ll be a grandma to a reptile.

Camp NaNoWriMo Is Back!

If you have never heard of CampNaNoWrimo, I have written about it before in other blog posts, but the gist is that for the month of July writers set goals and hold each other accountable via intimate forum based groups.

It’s my understanding that NaNo time is supposed to be spent drafting and the off time revising/planning. I suppose that’s a good process, but I’m still revising the 50,000 words I wrote in November, not including all the new extra 30,000+ from April’s CampNaNoWrimo. I’m a slow revisionist, very meticulous in my ability to procrastinate revising, and so it’s not in my best interest to devote July to drafting more words.

As such, this Camp NaNoWriMo I am going to embrace the art of the red pen!

I don’t actually own a red pen, so a red highlighter will have to do…

There will be many surgical cuts, padding where needed and sometimes complete overwrites. It will be hard to capture word count, which is the conventional progress tracking system of fellow Nanoers.

With my trusty stopwatch app on my phone, I will be tracking hours. My goal is to dedicate one hundred hours to the revision process, essentially turning my goal into a part time summer job. Or should it be considered an internship, as I am not really getting paid?

I will also be reviewing the audio book English Grammar Bootcamp from my favorite linguist, Anne Curzan. This series is great, and I gush about it at least once a day at work. I like to pair my writing process with good literature like it’s a fine wine.

Good luck to my fellow NaNo peeps!