Getting Personal #198: Exhaustion

Image Credit: “The Exhaustion Is Real” – The New York Times

I’ve been struggling this month, big time.


Maybe it’s the weather? Here in Virginia, it’s been very mild for January. There have been several days where it’s been above 65 degrees. Now, in the middle of the month, it’s settling back down to chilly and cold. It’s been hovering around 40-45 degrees in the last few days.


I feel like a big failure. I set so many goals at the beginning of the month, and I feel like I’ve already failed all of them.

I mean, how hard is it to write two blog posts a week? But, every night since January 2nd, especially work nights, I’ve come home and not wanted to look at another computer screen. But, at the same time, I’ve watched hours of TV with Al, and buried my nose in Facebook on my phone or games on my iPad. It’s like my brain went into default decompression every night.

I didn’t look at my emails for at least a week, and there were more than 1,000 by the weekend after New Year’s.

And I feel really bad even writing this out – I have NOTHING to complain about. I have my husband and my dogs. I’m not running on fragmented sleep like many I know – Parents, caregivers, those with chronic illnesses, and others. I have it easy.


I know this is part of my anxiety lying to me, but I feel a bit better now getting it out on “paper.”


Writing this short post has actually helped a lot, believe it or not. This is part of the reason why I write. I “brain dump” – I talk it out, I use Post-It Notes at work, and I have my phone close by to use the Notes app. I think getting back into journaling – Actual handwriting – is a good goal for February. I’m involved with enough screens as it is.

In fact, after I finish this post, I’m shutting off all the screens and going to dive back into Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Blog Awards #28: The Sunshine Blogger Award – Number Seven!

sba

Thanks, Kristian, for nominating me!

Here’s the link to Kristian’s post, where I was nominated: The Sunshine Blogger Award from Rob

The Sunshine Blogger Award Rules

  • Thank the blogger (s) who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog.
  • List the rules and display an award logo on your blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger (s) asked you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers to receive the award and notify them by commenting on any of their posts.
  • Ask the nominees 11 new questions.

Kristian’s Questions

  1. What fictional world would you like to explore if you could?
  2. What is your idea of a perfect day?
  3. If you could be a professional athlete in any sport, what sport would you play?
  4. What is your favorite joke?
  5. What movie(s) can you watch over & over again?
  6. What are your New Year resolutions, and if you don’t have any, what are some long term goals you hope to achieve?
  7. Is there a meaning behind your name? If so, what is it?
  8. If you could master one skill, what would that skill be?
  9. What is your favorite Disney movie?
  10. In your opinion, what movie has the best soundtrack?
  11. What snack(s) can’t you live without?

Laura Beth’s Answers

  • Hogwarts!
  • A perfect day starts with a cup of coffee, cuddle time with Al, carve out time for writing (fiction and blogging), an hour or more for reading, a comfy blanket, and at least one episode of Law and Order: SVU.
  • I would love to play softball!
  • My favorite joke is: Helvetica and Times New Roman walk into a bar. “Get out of here!” The bartender shouts. “We don’t serve your type!”
  • I can watch Ghostbusters (1984), Dirty Dancing (1987), Forrest Gump, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and pretty much any movie with Tom Hanks over and over.
  • Here are some of my 2020 Goals: Complete the first round of editing of my first novel, pay off all credit card debt, de-clutter the entire house, and go on vacation with Al for our five-year wedding anniversary!
  • I was named Laura Beth after my great-grandmother, Laura Bethany Powers. She lived to be 102!
  • I would love to master flight.
  • My favorite Disney movie is Mulan.
  • The movie that has the best soundtrack is Star Wars IV: A New Hope.
  • I love popcorn, tortilla chips with white sauce, and Reese’s!

My Questions

  • If you’ve been to a Disney theme park, which one is your favorite?
  • What song is your favorite earworm?
  • If you could go to any school, real or fictional, which one would you pick?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world for a week, where would you go? You can pick multiple destinations.
  • What is your favorite quote?
  • What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
  • If you could eat only three foods for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
  • Do you see yourself living somewhere else?
  • Where is your dream vacation destination?
  • Which three authors would you like to have dinner with?
  • If you could interview anyone, who would you pick?

Tag – You’re It!

I’m not tagging anyone for this particular award. If you want to do it, then go for it!

Thanks again, Kristian!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #193: NaNoWriMo 2019 Recap

Image Credit: The NaNoWriMo Blog

It’s high time for me to announce my NaNoWriMo 2019 results!


This was a brand-new novel. I came up with the idea while listening to the StoryCorps podcast from NPR this summer.

The tentative title is “The Transformation House.”


Day 1: 30 = 30 total

Day 2: 0 = 30 total

Day 3: 2,044 = 2,074 total

Day 4: 0 = 2,074 total

Day 5: 505 + 810 + 320 = 3,709 total

Day 6: 8 + 569 = 4,286 total

Day 7: 944 = 5,230 total

Day 8: 282 = 5,512 total

Day 9: 541 + 333 = 6,386 total

Day 10: 645 = 7,031 total

Day 11: 1,054 = 8,805 total

Day 12: 186 + 406 = 8,677 total

Day 13: 672 = 9,349 total

Day 14: 698 = 10,047 total

Day 15: 274 + 988 = 11,309 total

Day 16: 226 + 703 + 773 = 13,011 total

Day 17: 0 = 13,011 total

Day 18: 107 + 669 + 375 = 14,162 total

Day 19: 1,063 = 15,225 total

Day 20: 166 + 1,056 = 16,447 total

Day 21: 566 = 17,013 total

Day 22: 0 – 17,013 total

Day 23: 409 = 17,422 total

Day 24: 723 = 17,485 total

Day 25: 0 = 17,485 total

Day 26: 398 = 18,543 total

Day 27: 0 = 18,543 total

Day 28: 667 + 923 = 20,133 total

Day 29: 563 + 776 = 21,472 total

Day 30: 675 + 657 + 212 + 596 + 1,489 = 25,101 total


Final Thoughts

I was so happy with what I accomplished in roughly 30 days. This was, by far, my best NaNoWriMo ever.

I went back and looked. My first NaNo was in 2012, and I wrote a little over 10,000 words that November. I’m pleased as punch that I surpassed 25,000 words!

For now, I’ve set this one aside. I’ve started to review the first draft of “Camp,” the novel I started in 2012.

I’m hoping to pick this one back up in either April or July during one of the Camp NaNo sessions!


Have you done NaNoWriMo in November before?

Have you done Camp NaNoWriMo before?

Let me know what you think!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #90: The NaNoWriMo Tag

Image Credit: The NaNoWriMo Blog

Here’s the link to the original post: NaNoWriMo 2019 and The NaNoWriMo Tag

1. How many times have you participated in NaNoWriMo? How many times have you won?

This will be my ninth NaNoWriMo. I have participated in five NaNoWriMo sessions in November (2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, and 2019). I have also participated in four Camp NaNoWriMo sessions (Twice in 2018 and twice in 2019).

2. Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Historically, I have been a pantser. This year, I started plotting the beginning of the novel.

3. What are the titles of the projects that you have attempted/completed for past NaNos?

2012: Experiences From Camp

2013: Specialton

2014: Discussion of Differences

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2018: Continued draft of Experiences From Camp

Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2018: Continued draft of Experiences From Camp

2018: Tunnel Vision

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2019: Continued draft of Specialton

Camp NaNoWriMo, July 2019: Continued draft of Discussion of Differences

2019: The Transformation House

4. What are you working on for NaNo this year?

I am writing a new novel about a woman, Angela Diaz, who decides to purchase a mansion, fix it up, and create a home for transgender people in the Midwest.

5. What is one tip that you’d give to someone else that is participating in NaNo?

I agree with what All Things Momma said: “Do not have any zero days. Even if you write only one sentence that day, that is so much better than having a big fat zero on your NaNo chart. Any progress forward is better than none.”

6. What was the inspiration for this novel? Do you remember when the inspiration hit you?

I listen to the StoryCorps podcast. In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, they created a podcast series, and an initiative called “Stonewall Out Loud.” One of the episodes discussed a home for transgender people in Little Rock, Arkansas (“We’re Still Here”). I wanted to write a story that encompasses a modern version of this effort.

7. Read us the first sentence from your NaNo novel last year?

“No, no, no! Damn it!” Nicole smacked her hands against the steering wheel.

8. What do you plan to do with your manuscript after NaNo?

Like all my other novels, I will let this draft rest for a while. I might pick it up again during Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2020. It depends on how much progress I make this month.

9. Are you prepared for NaNo? Are you nervous?

I always get a little nervous. But, I’m ready to dive in.


Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this November?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #247: October WIP Challenge Prompt: Bewitched!!

Found on Didi Oviatt

I love Didi’s monthly writing challenges!

Here’s the link to Didi’s challenge post: October WIP Challenge Prompt: Bewitched!!

Lizzy adored Halloween. When she and Hunter met, they had bonded over one movie in particular: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Multiple times since then, they’d dressed up as Jack and Sally. Everyone thought they were adorable together.

But Lizzy also enjoyed another Halloween tradition – Becoming a witch. It was a secret from many of her friends at the Lancer Institute, or LT for short. But, the minute the air turned crisp and cool, her witch’s hat, black robes, and potions came out of the closet.

She and two of her closest friends, Brittany and Ashley, gathered in the woods, about two miles from LT’s campus. It was becoming a nightly tradition since that wild October night three years prior.

Brittany was in charge of the massive black cauldron. Earlier this October, they’d constructed a makeshift storage area in their favorite clearing. It wasn’t immediately visible to the average passerby, so the three ladies were pretty proud of themselves. It was a welcome change to Brittany – Lugging that massive cauldron was getting old. Her arms were pretty buff, though.

“It’s almost nightfall, my pretties. What spell should we conjure tonight?” Ashley cackled slightly.

Lizzy looked up at the crimson sky, contemplating. Emotionally, she was sad. Hunter, having to work, wasn’t able to come to the annual LT Halloween celebration. They would still dress up as Jack and Sally, per their tradition, but she was still sad he wouldn’t be at LT to celebrate like he had for the previous two years. She wished he was still a student with her.

“Lizzy? Darling, are you okay?”

Tears in her eyes, she turned to Brittany and Ashley. This felt like a true sisterhood. All of them, at some point, had been rejected by several of the eight sororities at LT. Who needed sororities when the three of them could gather in the woods at any time of night?

Lizzy swallowed. “I want to conjure a happiness spell.”

Ashley and Brittany looked confused. “A happiness spell?”

Lizzy nodded, jutting out her chin. “I’ve been so sad recently. Being here with both of you makes me happy, but I want to be happier.”

Ashley chortled slightly. “Is this because you miss Hunter?”

Lizzy stuck her tongue out. “Maybe.”

The three got to work.

“Double, double, toil and trouble …”

POOF!

As the cloud of hazy purple smoke started to clear, Lizzy felt a bit dizzy. She hadn’t had anything to drink, but she felt drunk. She stumbled a bit, but Brittany caught her.

“Lizzy?”

“I feel great! Oh, wow …”

Her world went sideways.

Lizzy woke up, puzzled as to why she felt the cold, damp leaves on her face. She was on the ground. Alone.

“Brittany? Ashley!”

Lizzy thought she’d heard faint giggling.

“Ashley! Brittany! This isn’t funny!”

Lizzy grabbed her hat, and stumbled to her feet.

“Where are you?”

Lizzy turned in circles, feeling increasingly confused. She certainly wasn’t happy. She was scared.

The spell had backfired. And Lizzy was all alone.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #246: Fall Fridays, Number 7

Image Credit: Unsplash

This is the final installment of Fall Fridays!

I think I’m going to do this every fall. I’ve really enjoyed it!

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!

  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

The bonfire made shadows across everyone’s faces. Allison shivered. Then, David stretched, and put his arm around her. She felt warmer.

They couldn’t remember whose idea it had been, but having a bonfire on Halloween was becoming a tradition. Everyone had outgrown trick-or-treating age-wise. Lucy was the only one, for now, stuck taking her younger siblings around the neighborhood. She’d promised Allison a text once her sisters and brother were back home, inevitably fighting over the candy.

Allison sighed as she felt David’s lips graze her forehead. She jumped slightly when she heard the neighborhood owl hoot into the night. Past Halloween nights varied in temperature, but this year, it was crisp, cold, and a bit spooky.

Allison jumped again when her phone buzzed.

Hey, Ally, I’m running late. My sister tore her princess dress and had the meltdown of meltdowns. Who else is there?

Allison smiled. David shifted slightly to let her text back.

No worries here. It’s just David and me so far. But, I think Scott and Jeremy will be here soon. You know Scott likes you.

Lucy rolled her eyes, and chuckled, amidst the chaos of her five siblings running around the house. She couldn’t leave just yet – No other adults were home yet. She perched on the couch, hoping her parents or older sister would hurry up and relieve her.

Scott’s cute, sure, but I like Jeremy better. I’m glad he’ll be there. Anyone else?

Allison was distracted. David had lifted her chin and they’d been making out since Lucy’s first text. His hands were everywhere. For once, Allison didn’t resist.

“I like this, David,” she breathed.

“So do I. Although, I think you’re getting a little warm. How about taking off your sweatshirt? Do you need help?”

Allison giggled. “Sure, I could use some help.”

The minute David started lifting her high school orchestra sweatshirt up, he gasped.

“David? What’s wrong?”

“AAAAAHHHHH!”

“David?!”

Cackling, Joker-like laughter followed.

“Damn it, Scott, you scared the bejesus out of me!”

Allison pulled down her sweatshirt, hoping no one else had seen her lacy bra.

Scott was lifting a Michael Myers mask, still laughing.

“Hoo boy, I got you good!”

Jeremy was behind him, carrying a six-pack. David was a bit confused – None of them were 21. But, David also knew better than to ask a lot of questions.

“Damn, Scott. I screamed like a girl.”

Allison socked him in the arm. “Hey! Don’t say that.”

Scott laughed again. “He’s not wrong, Ally.”

She rolled her eyes. “Still, it’s not a nice thing to say. especially in the presence of women.”

Scott chortled. “Whatever, Miss Feminist.”

Allison knew Scott was trying to rattle her cage. But, she didn’t like it. He’d been teasing her since first grade.

David sat up, and Allison straightened.

Allison opened her mouth, about to tell them about Lucy and her texts.

In the direction of Lucy’s house, there was another scream.

After the scream, they only heard the crackle and pop of the raging bonfire.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #245: Fall Fridays, Number 6

Image Credit: Unsplash

As the wonderful season of autumn / fall has started, I wanted to create an original writing prompt series to celebrate!

I invite everyone who sees this to participate, if you choose.

The idea is to look at the prompt, take at least five minutes on the Fridays during October 2019, and come up with a story/poem/scene, or whatever strikes your fancy with those words.

This has been extended from September! You can use the image at the top of this post – Just please make sure to credit it.

Ready?

Here we go!

  • October 4th: Corn Maze
  • October 11th: Hay Ride
  • October 18th: Football
  • October 25th: Halloween

Matt called Andrea, all excited.

“Guess what? I scored season tickets!”

“What?! No way! Congratulations!”

“It only took 15 years, but I have them in my hot little hand. We’re going to Lambeau!”

Andrea was already looking up flights before the first sentence tumbled out of Matt’s mouth. He’d been a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan since childhood. Scoring season tickets was a dream come true. He’d been to Lambeau Field before – Roughly one home game every 3-4 years, and an away game near his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina every single year, without fail. His dad wasn’t a Green Bay fan, but he indulged his son.

Matt sighed on the phone, reminiscing.

“I just … I just wish Dad was here to see this. I know he wanted to be here for this.”

Andrea cradled the phone, pausing her frantic typing. Matt’s dad, in the throes of depression, died by suicide when Matt was 23. Scott had turned 50 the week before.

In a way, Matt was grateful he’d been at school when Dad died. But, he was still sad he’d died alone.

Mom had left, abandoning her 25-year marriage. The alcoholism, not the depression, had broken her spirit.

As Andrea listened, Matt recounted the good days, but clearly remembered the multiple beers at all the football games. It wasn’t necessarily unusual – Beer and football went hand-in-hand. But, Scott always pushed the limit.

When Matt was 15, just shy of getting his learner’s permit, he took the keys away for the first time. In the beginnings of a blizzard, Matt carefully drove the rental car from Lambeau to their hotel. Scott loudly protested, but Matt handled it with grace. Scott passed out in the Honda not 10 minutes later. The snow was getting heavier as he carefully navigated to the Holiday Inn after the Packers’ hard-fought loss to the Chiefs.

After calling security to get him out of the Honda, Scott woke up long enough to barf in the parking lot, all over the fresh snow. Matt winced. After Scott was cleaned up and snoring away, likely dreaming of his next drink, that was the first time Matt cried.

He remembered calling Mom, and her reaction was strangely calm.

“I’m sorry you had to deal with that, sweetheart. Especially alone. Are you okay?”

Matt swallowed. “I … Is it … Is it bad that I want to leave him here?”

Mom sighed. “Oh, honey, I’m sorry. It’s not bad. I’ve had that thought many times, unfortunately. I can send you money if you need it. But, with the blizzard …”

Matt leaned against the bank of pay phones. “I’m stuck, for now. I wish we’d picked a different game. I have school.”

Mom smiled. Her son, so studious and empathetic.

“I just want you … both of you … to be safe. Call me when he wakes up, okay?”

Matt sighed. “I wish you were here.”

“With you, yes. I’m so tired of it, all of it. But this is something my son, at 15, shouldn’t have to worry about.”

“But I am worried, Mom. He’s passed out in the double bed. I’m afraid he’s going to get sick again.”

“Go, check on him. I’ll keep watching the weather. Call me in a couple hours, okay? Don’t worry about waking me up. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping tonight.”

Their dog barked in the background, followed by sibling squabbling.

“I gotta go take care of your brother and sister. Please, call me later, okay? I love you, Matt. Thank you for being there.”

Matt sighed, crying again. “I love you, too, Mom. I’ll call around 10.”

Matt hung up, wanting to sprint out the lobby doors instead of going back up to the fourth floor. For the first time, he was truly afraid what he was going to find in Room 452.

“Matt? Matt? Are you still there?”

Andrea brought Matt back to reality. He wiped his cheeks.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Memories.”

“I know you miss your Dad. We all do.”

“Thanks, Andrea. It’s weird. Most of the time – 98 percent of the time – I’m happy. But, that other two percent comes in like a flood and takes over my brain.”

Andrea shifted the phone. “That’s why you’ve been in some sort of counseling or therapy since 2017. Don’t beat yourself up too badly, Matt. You’re a human being. You’re grieving the man you called your hero.”

Matt scoffed. “Some hero. He drank himself to death.”

“No, he didn’t. He was in a hole he couldn’t get out of. Depression is weird like that.”

Andrea struggled with the words. It was still painful, nearly 2 1/2 years later.

Matt sighed. “Hence why I haven’t touched alcohol. That made me really popular in college, by the way.”

Andrea chuckled. Matt was always able to use humor to shift conversations. It was one of many things she liked about him. As he talked, she felt that familiar longing. She’d wanted to be with him for years, but had suppressed her feelings. They’d been friends since sophomore year of college, about six months before Scott had descended into what would have been his last spiral.

Matt smiled. He was grateful for Andrea’s friendship. She’d been by his side in the good times, and especially the bad times. Many others, including his entire fraternity, had all but abandoned him.

Not Andrea. She’d stuck by him, even pushing him to finish his degree on time. She knew that was the one big thing Scott wanted. She was proud to have helped him so much.

Now she wanted to help him again. This was the first major good news in a long, long time.

“I found a flight, Matt. Lambeau, here we come!”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂