ANOTHER NOVEL WRITING MONTH IS UPON US

There is something about entering into the month of November that now makes me a little nervous. No, it isn’t the fear of leftover turkey sandwiches or fighting the crowds on Black Friday (I hate shopping and never go out on that day). It’s that every late-October I have one thought: Will I Be Able to Write another Novel?

This November I will be embarking on writing my ninth novel.

When I wrote that very first (young adult) novel a couple of decades ago, I was in school, knee-deep in writing everything from speeches to marketing pitches to press releases (hello, communications degree, howyadoin’?) so I didn’t give this little young adult novel much room to allow fear to enter. It was technically just a school assignment.

However, the span of almost twenty years exists between that first novel and the second novel. I ended up writing a non-fiction book in between because I was now too afraid and uncertain of my abilities to write another novel…and felt the non-fiction piece was less threatening.

And while I count the first young adult book in my completed pieces of fiction – it is hardly much. I want to say it teeters around the 30k-word mark but to be honest, I am unsure. It is printed on a dot-matrix so that will tell you chances were good my 1990-something computer did not have the capability to offer a word count.

Then I discovered National Novel Writing Month a few years ago. I went back and forth wondering if I should participate. Could I write a novel in thirty days? What if I can’t? I took the leap and never looked back. That “second” novel came in around 52k words after thirty days and I stood back and thought, “Holy shit, maybe I CAN do this.”

Every October I begin to feel the same way again. Can I write ANOTHER book? Will I freeze up on page twenty and not know how to continue? What if I don’t finish? (I never worry, however, whether or not the manuscript will be a piece of shit because all the first drafts are horrible with a side of awful and a sprinkling of ‘you call yourself a writer?’ seasoning.)

This November I am tackling a contemporary book that spans a few decades but isn’t necessarily historical fiction. It was an idea that came to me one day and never left me – even though I have dozens of works in progress I could have pulled from. Sometimes with novel writing you have to work on the projects that seem to call your name and won’t leave you alone! This was that book.

I finished my chapter-by-chapter outline (42 chapters strong) about a week ago along with all the background and character information I could come up with at this stage of the process. My information is in a 3-ring binder which I will read over again next week before the first day rolls around – and the chapter-by-chapter outline is in another folder, all ready to go. (Can’t wait! Excited about this story!)

At 42 chapters it means I need to do more than one chapter every single day in order to finish by the end of November. I know the book will be more than fifty thousand words (the requirement to “win” the National Novel Writing Month challenge) and so I should have no problem reaching that by the end of November – but I like to have the novel completely finished by the end of the month as well.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month?

Need Me Some New Blogs

There used to be a time when I wrote on three different blogs every single day, including weekends. Then, I ditched two of them and wrote only on the one, every single day. Then, I stopped posting on weekends. Then I began a new blog over here at the Wordsmithery and I most certainly don’t update everyday but I certainly try and update as often as I can. My folder of idea clips is overflowing and had to be moved into the filing cabinet. And all those ideas are great and all but they do nothing just sitting there patiently waiting…

I also enjoy reading blogs (I certainly hope you do too) but recently I noticed a terrible trend among the blogs I read: NO ONE UPDATES REGULARLY.

Or, even kinda regularly.

Hell, one blog’s last update was back in April. Another in August. Yet another in February. And that is just a sampling of three. Many I have given up on completely and have deleted altogether.

Some went to the dark side of parenting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a parent and there are plenty of times I blog about my kids but something happens to a blogger who becomes a parent for the first time.

And then when the realities of writing sets in the rest of the bloggers give up feeling like all this writing was just Too. Much. Work.

So now I am on a mission to find me some new blogs to read.

Do you have a blog? What are some of your favorites?

Not From Here

I hail from the Los Angeles area. And every year on New Year’s Day we would sit in horror as the secret of our lives were broadcasted across the country via the Rose Parade – which was a mere two miles from my house and when the Rose Bowl game played later that day the blimp could be seen out our windows.

Without fail New Year’s Day would be a mild 70-degree something, the skies would be a bright cobalt blue without a single cloud, and the sun would be gloriously shining. Ahhhhh, January in southern California.

But then.

Everyone would notice our blue skies and sunshine on the first of January as they peek out their own windows at a cold, snowy, grey abyss and think…hmmm…maybe we should move to southern California…

Hence, our melting pot.

Truth be told, we were used to people flocking to the area. It was no different when we were in San Diego – same thing happened. Flocks. Of. Seagulls. People. (Sorry, my 80s came out there for a second.)

People came to southern California for a different life. Something better than what they thought they had. They craved sunshine year-round. They craved traffic. (No, that can’t be right.) They craved those cobalt blue skies they saw during the Rose Parade and couldn’t believe a place like that existed in January – as they shoveled five feet of snow off their driveway and froze their asses off on their way to work.

And people moved OUT of California for the same reason: they wanted a different life. Less traffic. Less people. Less crime. Less sunshine – yes, it’s true – but we like to say, “I wanted a place with four seasons”. They wanted a better place to raise a family. They wanted a slower pace of life. They wanted to live somewhere where their dollar went a little further and a place where you could actually breathe without your neighbors listening.

There were many reasons we left southern California. High cost, too many people, too much traffic, and we lived in what I referred to as a fish bowl. We wanted out of the rising cost of living in San Diego with its one season and growing crime rates.

Somehow the people of Idaho didn’t get the memo about people moving into their town. They don’t have a yearly Rose Parade watched across the country. They are therefore confused as to why people would move here. No, not confused. Pissed off. They don’t want people to move here. And they especially don’t want people from California to move here.

Without fail there are comments on Facebook whenever there is talk of increased crime or a traffic accident or road construction or houses being built in new subdivisions – “you people need to go back where you came from.” “Go back to California.” “Californians need to stop moving here!” “This was such a great place to live until all the Californians moved here!” I’m surprised we aren’t blamed for the cold winter and Boise State football losing against Ole Miss.

I want to shake them and tell them it is just the facts of life. People move around. People go places where they feel they can get a better life. Instead of being bitter, pissed, and angry at us Californians for “ruining their small town” they should feel happy and proud that we would all move away from a place where the sun shines 350 days a year to their little corner of the world – where the sun, well, doesn’t shine 350 days a year.

For such a quaint, friendly, small town when we first moved here ten years ago – I now see nothing but bitter and cranky people who despise anyone who isn’t born here.

Maybe Boise needs a parade.

…In the fall when it is gorgeous around here. On second thought, never mind.

Banking on a Low Moment (part three)

I worked for a large, very well know bank in Burbank for many years as a financial services officer. I loved that job so much. I worked for an awesome boss who gave me free rein as long as I produced loans and numbers, and I always did. Next to me on the platform (across from the tellers) was the new accounts woman who was relatively new but we hit it off and had a good team going.

Back in the day of banking in the mid-to-late 80s we had stamps in our front desk drawers that we used to identify ourselves along with an initial or a signature. Because I was an officer, the new accounts woman would come to me often to approve a deposit for a new account.

The boss at the Burbank branch got a promotion and within a few months he promoted me as well and brought me over to the neighboring Sherman Oaks branch of the bank where I had basically the same job.

At the beginning of one week I logged into my account, which I did almost every morning, to check and see what checks had cleared and what my balance was. I had a credit card from the bank that was linked to my checking account as overdraft protection. The first thing I noticed as I sat down at my desk with a cup of coffee was that a check for seven hundred dollars had cleared along with another check for nine hundred and a few more, making me severely overdrawn– not to mention all MY checks that were bouncing from here to the North Pole.

What the hell?

I didn’t write those big checks.

I quickly called over to my home branch in Burbank and spoke to one of the managers there – a friend of mine. He said he would have to look into the situation and call me back.

As it turned out, my account number was being used by someone else.

Apparently, after so many years of an inactive account, they close the account, and then issue the number back into circulation again. In my case, a little old lady from Burbank had found a stack of (old) checkbooks and began writing checks on an account that had been long since closed – which just so happened to be my account.

My credit card was working overtime trying to keep up – but in the end, everything was resolved. Of course, my life appeared to be in shambles if you looked at my statements and my maxed out credit card.

About two weeks later I was paid a visit from someone I didn’t know and who only asked to speak to me.

She pulled me into a back conference room, closed the door, and sat down with a thick 3-ring binder that had my name riddled throughout it. In fact, I recognized some of the paperwork – loan applications of customers, my initials on new account signature cards, copies of my credit card statements, random pieces of paper that had my writing and signatures.

She opened the binder in front of me and told me I needed to return the thousands of dollars I took from the bank.

I’m sorry, come again? What the fuck are you talking about?

She had copies of my Visa statements with the bank, copies of my checking and savings bank statements, and what looked to my young twenty-something self as my entire life in that 3-ring binder. It was humiliating, frustrating, and frightening all at once.

My heart began to beat fast and I felt my stomach lurch as if I swallowed the Pit of Doom.

I explained I didn’t steal any money.

She had proof of the contrary. She said all I needed to do was to give the money back and all would be okay.

I told her I didn’t steal any money.

She wanted to know why my account had been so overdrawn? Why had I been “living off my credit cards?” (Apparently a red flag and therefore proof of my wrongdoing.)

This went on and on for hours.

I finally told her that I think it best I talk to my parents or an attorney or someone else…I might have been in my early twenties but I wasn’t dumb and I could see the writing on the wall and where this was all leading…which was definitely not to the land of bubble gum and rainbows.

When I walked out of the conference room I felt the icy air around me. You know when you open a door quickly and there are people trying to listen with their ear to the door and they scramble trying to look innocent as if they had all just been walking casually near the door at the exact same time? That was the vibe in the bank. No one looked me in the eye.

The manager that had been my biggest advocate, who I hit it off with immediately, who I had worked with for over three years, who I invited to my upcoming wedding suddenly shunned me – as did every employee at the bank.

I was confused, hurt, and heartbroken.

I was also pissed.

I was innocent and yet I can see how all arrows were pointing directly at me.

Apparently there had been some accounts that had been opened fraudulently and my signature, initials, and stamp were all over every single new account signature card.

Shit.

I met with more auditors from the bank.

And then I was in a room with several auditors, all trying to get me to crack and return the money they thought I stole.

And each time I told them exactly the same thing: Those weren’t my signatures. The problem with my overdrawn checking account and maxed out credit card was because of a rare fluke in the system that was already resolved. I did not steal any money.

Rinse and repeat.

Meanwhile, I explained the situation to my parents and my dad immediately called our family lawyer who told me not to speak to anyone anymore.

While I didn’t talk to any other auditors, I also didn’t talk to anyone at the bank either – who all avoided me as if by talking to me in the lunchroom they would somehow be accomplices and be forced to wear sashes that read “Thief”.

It was a very depressing time in my career.

In the end, I was cleared.

That lovely new accounts woman had been going into my desk and using my stamp. She was forging my signature too. All this came out when they finally did a handwriting analysis after I repeatedly told the auditors that the signatures she had on the cards in question were not my signatures.

The new accounts woman was fired and I was cleared but I never really escaped the cloud of doubt that followed me.

Within a few months I transferred to another branch. After my wedding I moved out of the Los Angeles area and began underwriting at the bank’s loan center in Orange County and never saw any of those people at that branch ever again.

Low Moments II – The Police Saga

The same thing happened to me two years in a row on exactly the same day. September 19. Day before my birthday.

My firstborn was a screamer. (He is 19 and he kinda still can be.) He was loud and rambunctious and to say he was full of energy is like saying the moon comes out at night.

After putting both boys to bed a couple of hours earlier, I went upstairs to check on them. It had been an exhausting day and I just wanted to marvel at their sweet little faces as they slept.

That’s when I noticed the flashing lights outside our home from the upstairs window. Then the pounding on the door.

Two police officers stood at our door and demanded they come in because there had been a complaint by a neighbor about neglect.

Neglect? Are you kidding me?

They were not kidding.

They walked upstairs to my firstborn while he slept and inspected his body with a flashlight. It was horrifying. Then, they went to the baby’s room and inspected him in his crib. It was equally as horrifying.

Satisfied that they didn’t have any signs of neglect, we went downstairs to chat.

I tried to explain what happened that day.

My oldest had a tantrum. This was not new. He often had tantrums. And I had read in a parenting magazine about keeping the inside of your house as a “scream and tantrum free” zone and if the child wants to partake in that kind of unsavory behavior they must do so outside.

So, I sent my son outside.

Now, in hindsight putting in the backyard might have been a better idea.

But I watched him through the living room window and he just sat on the grass in the front yard. But he was technically unattended. We also lived on a quiet street in the middle of a subdivision and nowhere near downtown or a busy road. Regardless, a neighbor saw him and didn’t see me and apparently called the cops.

The next time happened when I was napping during the day. And again on September 19.

I woke up to two things happening at once. The pounding on the door and the baby crying. I stood, in a still-sleepy haze, for a half second in the hallway wondering who I should go to first, the front door or the baby. When I looked out the peephole, I had my answer. The police were behind my door.

They walked in, stepping over the piles of laundry I had in the hallway because in Oceanside we didn’t have a laundry room – only the washer and dryer in a hallway closet thing. They said they received a call from a neighbor (my neighbors were just dandy in that neighborhood) complaining that the baby had been crying for a long time.

I explained that I had been asleep, tired from, well, motherhood.

They needed to see the baby.

Okie dokie.

Thankfully I was in the habit of making my bed every day because the baby was in the bassinet in my bedroom. One police officer stood at the door and the other walked with me to the bassinet. I immediately picked up the baby, who promptly stopped crying.

At that moment I felt as if I had been given the Worst Mom on the Planet award.

The police walked over and looked at the baby, checking arms and legs. All was well. They were very nice and I explained (again) that I had been tired and fell asleep and didn’t hear him crying.

These two incidents made me a nervous, panicked, depressed wreck. It made me doubt my abilities as a mother. And it caused my own mother to worry about me and my children on the heels of the Susan Smith’s of the world that had been in the headlines at the time.

I lived in a stressful, depressing place for many years back then. When your entire job as a mother brings police to the door with flashlights inspecting your kid’s legs and arms, you begin to doubt the job you thought would be the best one ever – especially when you get calls from your mother, who seemed to have the same doubts.

I remember years later when we were trying to potty train our middle son and he refused to use the toilet to do his business and we would have to bathe him each and every time he pooed. His bottom was as red as a tomato and so we used a rash cream following the bath. It was a nightmare. Despite the uncomfortable pain he must have been in that stubborn child of mine still didn’t officially potty train until he was almost four.

As my husband was putting rash cream on his bottom the sounds from the bathroom sounded like this, “Daddy, stop! Daddy, that hurts!” I kept telling them both to shut up or this will be something else I will have to explain to the police. I went around slamming windows every time the kid pooed in his pants (which was several times a day, mind you, but that is a totally different story).

To this day, on September 19 every year I think about those bleak days back in San Diego and the heartbreak that happened to my little world. It changed me. I doubted myself. I felt always watched and judged. I struggled with depression.

When I think back to mothering two small boys, the events that happened were low moments in my life, for sure. And something I doubt I will ever completely shake.

I am thankful that these days, I have a house full of teenagers who are all potty-trained and no longer throw temper tantrums.

Low Moments

I was sitting outside one day recently, enjoying a cup of coffee and my mind drifted to some less than stellar moments in my life so far. Oh sure, I should be thinking positive things, counting my blessings, and making sure the glass is half full – blah, blah, blah. Of course.

But.

There are times when life just kinda sucked.

Life didn’t stay in SuckLand for long, thank god, but shit happens to all of us from time to time.

Here’s the FIRST of my Top Three Low Moments:

It was the summer of 1996. My husband had graduated college the year before and spent time on and off looking for a new job in a new career – while working full time and dealing with a toddler at home.

We decided to make a drastic change.

He quit his job so he could focus on job searching full time and I (newly home from a lengthy banking career to be a stay-at-home mom) went searching for an underwriting job at a local bank.

I managed to land one nearby and while the men there did not welcome me nor my underwriting decisions, I plugged on and made fast friends with my (female) boss. Meanwhile, I got another call for a credit union job that I could do from home. They wanted to try something new and wanted me to find customers (that fit the requirement of the credit union, no less) AND make real estate loan applications AND underwrite them. Despite my doubts, I agreed to the job and went to work.

Mind you, this is 1996 and the so-called digital age was only a wee baby. There was no Facebook to advertise, Twitter, or blogs. All we had was boring ole email. Yawn.

I worked in the mornings trying to drum up business for the credit union and then in the afternoons I went to the bank…underwriting mainly auto loans because the guys that were also underwriters held seniority over me and my newbie/temp status (while I certainly had experience underwriting all types of loans my experience was more in real estate loans). I would come home, put on my mommy hat for a few hours, and then worked on writing resumes for a small business I started the year before to make a few bucks while staying home with my son.

Meanwhile, my husband had gone on many interviews but we hadn’t heard from any of them yet.

We managed okay but the bills were slowly piling up since my one (temp) job at the bank wasn’t paying very much and the credit union job was a commission job. We were calling the utility companies to set up payment plans and telling the auto loan folks that money would be coming soon – pinky swear.

And all that with a toddler and diapers and temper tantrums.

It was stressful to say the least and friends and family looked at us and the decision we had made as if we were officially off our rocker.

Maybe we were.

Enter September.

We had been at this routine for almost three months.

My boss at the bank called me into her office on September 19th. She said she hated to do this to me on the day before my birthday but she said that business was just too slow to keep me on the payroll and she had to let me go.

Ouch.

But I understood.

Later that afternoon I had an appointment with the manager at the credit union. To date I hadn’t brought in one loan. He wanted to know why. I told him I was not given any resources whatsoever and I was trying my best.

However, it wasn’t good enough and they let me go too.

On the way home, crying, I tried to figure out what the hell we were going to do now. I had, in one day, lost both my jobs and the last bit of income and we had a mortgage, cars, student loans, and a pricey cost of living in San Diego.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Since the following day was my 30th birthday my husband had booked the three of us at a hotel in downtown San Diego with a trip to the zoo. Crying in our bedroom I kept saying, maybe we should cancel the trip. No, he said, we need to get away and a day at the zoo isn’t going to make our situation any worse.

Fine.

The next morning, my birthday, and the phone rang at an ungodly early hour (like 8:30. Okay, maybe not technically an ungodly hour especially since we had a toddler but our phone seldom rang so early in the morning).

I hear my husband on the phone talking to someone. I hear the word ‘salary’ and ‘I can start Monday!’

I feel my stomach twist and my hands begin to shake.

He was offered a job.

I don’t know if it was luck, prayer, fate – or a combination of all three – that made all that work out the way it did exactly one day after I lost both my jobs and our only source of income. But, this event will always be etched into my mind and is something the husband and I talk about often because there have been times since then that I want to feel THAT lucky again.

P.S. Five days later my husband received a call from the district manager of the company saying (oops!) that his direct manager wanted to interview him. My husband was pissed but reluctantly went in to meet with his boss (who had been out on vacation when he interviewed the first time with the district manager). Needless to say, the Luck Gods were still in our favor and the two hit it off. He worked at that company for a couple of years before the same boss left for another company. Within months he brought my husband over to this new company with a better position, more money, and learning new things. Every summer we met with his boss and his family for an afternoon at Mission Bay. We no longer live in San Diego but we still keep in touch with his first boss via Christmas cards.

Stay tuned for Low Moment Number Two…

Writing Challenges

When I was in high school I used to show my best friend all my silly little short stories I wrote passionately on a typewriter my parents bought me after my 9th grade junior high graduation. She used to tell me that my spelling was awful (I had the hardest time with words like ‘clothes’ and ‘deodorant’).

For Christmas one year I put together a small cookbook of family favorite recipes my mom and grandmother used to make and gave it to both my brother’s and their family, one to my parents, and one to that best friend I mentioned above. Inside the cookbook I thought it would be fun to add a few Christmas related short stories. Since no one (I mean NO ONE) said a thing about the stories I decided to put my Writer Hat on and bravely ask my friend what she thought of my short stories. I wanted to know if she liked the twist at the end of one of them. Her response? “I figured it out halfway through.”

Oh.

I know. I need to pull up my big girl pants. Writing is a tough business for us sensitive types.

Then, on another Christmas my sister-in-law picked up my 10-years-worth holiday scrapbook that I brought out to share with my family since we have been spending every Christmas Eve together from the beginning of time – or the mid-1970s, whatever. Anyway, she read something in there she didn’t like.

In a nutshell: I journaled about one Christmas Eve that took place at her house (and my brother) and I said that the highlight of that holiday was after we left their house and went to my uncle’s house where my grandmother and extended family gathered. (In our large Italian family Christmas was spent together for two straight days of talking, eating, cooking, and repeating.) It was one of my grandmother’s last Christmas but of course I didn’t know that then. Well, she got offended with what I wrote and stormed out.

Yes, in the dramatic flair of a high school drama student with a sparkly crown on her head. All that was missing was the sash around her chest.

And chaos ensued.

My brother went after her followed by my other brother and other sister-in-law, all in an attempt to calm her down and bring her back to the house so the holidays could (awkwardly) continue. Meanwhile, my parents were pissed AT ME. “Why did you write that?” “Why do you have to write stuff like that?”

When my sister-in-law did return to the house she started yelling at both me and my mother asking my mother “How can you allow her to write this stuff?”

Mind you I was thirty-five years old.

Needless to say I never (and I mean NEVER) allowed ANYONE to read any of my scrapbooks again. In fact, I now hide them whenever I have company coming over.

But that event was the turning point for opening my eyes at a challenge I think I’ve had my entire life and one that these days I have to constantly – as in EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. – tell myself that I can move past and not be defined by what others think. So what if they don’t like my writing? Who cares if they don’t support me in the job that I feel was a true calling of mine? What difference does it make that they snicker at the silliness of it all behind my back? Big deal if they read something and only point out a few typos and that’s it?

Every day I have to work at being a Big Writer Girl who isn’t so sensitive and who has to move past the need to be accepted as a writer by her family/friends.

Believe me, it’s fucking hard.

Enter blogging and social media.

Oh Me Gawd, someone hold me. If I had known back when I started it all (blogging and social media) that it would have caused as many problems as it has, I might have been less public about it from the beginning.

When I first began blogging I was over at Typepad, which meant all my friends and family knew where and how to find me. That was actually one of the big reasons for putting my Typepad blog to rest and beginning anew over here in Wordsmitheryland.

That best friend I mentioned in the beginning of this post? She is the one that read my blog and felt I was talking directly about her. The post was about people who are so busy with life and how I choose not to live my life that way. (It was longer, I believe, but that’s the gist.) She felt I wrote that in direct response to her (she never did understand that all that I write about on my blog(s) is about ME and that “too busy with life” post was about every single person I know). Our friendship began to suffer around mid-2008 when I did the blog post and around the time of personal and huge life changes in my own life.

Anyway.

To this day we are still considered “friends” but we are not really talking or involved in any sort of relationship even though she is godmother to my firstborn and I am godmother to her firstborn and we’ve known each other since we were tweens.

Since that incident on my blog there has been nine hundred other posts that have stepped in and caused the same problems.

In another words, my words have gotten me in trouble since I began writing those little books in the third grade on tablets of paper my dad gave me.

And then there is social media.

I can’t even count how many times someone (my extended family) will comment about what I write about on Facebook. (Give me a break, seriously, it’s Facebook, not the United Nations.)

I complain too much. I shouldn’t have said this. I said that in a bad way. I hurt someone’s feeling talking about the other thing. I shouldn’t talk about that. Why does she have to say this or that? I showed someone what you wrote because I was like, she is saying that on Facebook? My mom will call me and tell me that so-and-so said they couldn’t believe what I posted. I will have family members tell me how they roll their eyes at what I write about on Facebook. A week doesn’t go by that someone won’t negatively comment to me about something I have posted on Facebook.

I’ve heard it ALL.

And every time I (literally) scratch my head. What? Really? WHY DO YOU CARE? It’s Facebook! It’s a fluffy place to talk about fluffy things. And I somehow made you mad or offended or pissed off? Seriously?

Fuck.

That is my life. It never stops.

Which is now why I have a blog without a name so I can’t be as easily found. And no one in my family has asked for my new blog. And for awhile I got away with blocking people on Facebook until I was called out on it and was like, “oops.”

And to this day not one person in my extended family ever asks me about my writing, my books, or my projects. But, I will say I am kind of used to that by now, but sometimes when I think about it the lack of care hurts me. Sometimes my mom will say, “When are you going to ever be done with that book? You’re going to be fifty before you get it published.” Or she will write on my Writer’s Digest magazines, under headings of “How to get published in whatever-year” “WHEN??? HA HA HA.”

Maybe people don’t know what to say to writers – kind of like how people don’t know what to say to someone who just lost a loved one. I don’t know. And believe me, I don’t let this hold me back – but I do have to work on keeping that weight on my shoulders from hurting and crushing me. I have to constantly keep my head above water and remind myself regularly that I was meant to be doing this – despite not having any support – because I have loved writing since the third grade when I wrote about doughnut sisters (yes, actual doughnuts, complete with sprinkles). 

And for the record, the book my mother was referring to IS finished – along with almost ten other novels and non-fiction books AND a children’s book – I am only rewriting and editing now.