Writer’s Block….

….is an asshole.

Oh, man. How frustrating has the last week been. I’ve had a lot of motivation to write, but whenever I sit down to work on something, nothing productive comes. My new book is fighting me so hard. I just can’t seem to get over this hump that leads me into the middle section and continue to the place I want to get to. I can’t even do much character work, which usually comes pretty naturally because I love getting into my protagonist’s head and just explore some scenes with her even if I know they’re never going to end up anywhere. But lately even that is hard.

I think part of it is that I am still waiting to hear from the agent/editor to find out what they want me to start working on. It’s hard to focus on new stuff when I know that pretty soon I’ll be so engrossed in revisions that I won’t have the time. Still, it’s frustrating. It all goes back to that balance thing that I am still struggling to find. Bleh. NaNoWriMo is coming up in a few days and I’d like to participate, but once again, I have no idea if I’ll even have the time for it. All day at work today I was thinking about writing, wanted to come home and write, so I cracked a bottle of wine, cleaned up my office to make a more productive work space, and….stalled. Ugh. So frustrating.

Anyway. That’s about my life in a nutshell at the moment. Work, try to write with little success, sleep, do it all over again….I did have an exciting weekend; I got to attend a Witches’ Ball on Saturday night with a Samhain ritual at the end, which was enlightening, and on Sunday I went with Cameron and my parents to a Broncos game. But today I just feel…meh. Ugh!

Well, here’s to the potential for a more productive week, I guess….and here’s to hoping that I get to working for the editors this week. I am so ready to go.

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Reflecting

The night before I got married, I was getting ready for bed at my parent’s house when I saw on the news that a girl from a neighborhood very close to theirs (my parents’, the neighborhood I grew up in) had gone missing. Her name was Jessica Ridgeway and she had not arrived at school that morning. Over the next two weeks, I waited anxiously each day to hear that she had been found. Every time there was a report that she might have been seen, I allowed myself (maybe foolishly) to hope that this one would turn out differently than all the others. I don’t know why I had so much hope. Maybe because she lived so close to where I had grown up. Maybe because I just wanted, for once, to prove the universe wrong. I wanted just once for a little girl to come home because I wanted just for once to know that the world isn’t full of monsters. I kept remembering when I was in college in Greeley how a young girl (13 or so) had gone missing and her boyfriend was suspected of killing her. I remember the posters on every street corner and in every shop window. And I hoped, of course. You always do. But for some reason, with Jessica, I really hoped. I really thought they would find her and I really thought something about this time would be different.

Of course, though, I was wrong. The universe went on and nothing was different about it at all. The police found her body not far from her home and the focus shifted to finding whoever did it. I hoped less this time–or maybe it was rather that I didn’t think they would find the person. Maybe I didn’t want them to find him or her. We’re always afraid to see what the monster under the bed looks like. Maybe we think that if we don’t see the monster we don’t have to admit that it’s really there. The world really does look better with rose-colored glasses.

Today, the police arrested the alleged killer. He’s a 17-year-old boy from near the neighborhood where Jessica lived. His mother turned him in. He’s suspected to be linked to an attempted abduction that happened earlier this year. And obviously we don’t know anything about him yet so I can’t make any judgments about his character or his background, but it still makes me sad. And very, very angry. I don’t know quite what to be angry at, though. Society. Television. Bad parenting. Who knows.

What it does make me think about, though, is how grateful I am to live where I do. I’m going to preface this by saying that of course I know that what happened to Jessica and all the other abducted children and young men and women around the world could happen any time, in any place, in any community and neighborhood. I know that. I’m not naive enough to think that any place is safe. But, that being said, I have a great pride in how calm my community is. We don’t have major crime here. There’s been only one murder in the last 30 years or so and the majority of crime that does happen is petty theft. Kids don’t go missing from the school bus stop around here. We don’t have prowlers and predators (of the human kind) lurking around downtown alleys. We have a strong sense of community here. People come together for strangers and neighbors alike. Earlier this year, when a wildfire burned down 20 houses and displaced families, the city came together to pull resources for food and lodging and helping the families rebuild their homes and lives. It’s just what people do here. And I know people say that about every community–but it’s really true here. How can it not be, when the population of permanent residents is under 7,000 people? Everyone looks out for each other here. Like people are supposed to–care for thy neighbor.

And in reflection, it just makes me really grateful to live here. It makes me feel safer about raising my children here because I know that if the things I have to worry about are on a scale of 1 to 10, my spot is about a 2.  I can raise my children in a place that is safe where I can teach them how to be safe. Because I think that’s a huge part of all of these problems is that parents don’t teach their kids how to be self-aware. A few weeks ago I was reading a story about 3 young girls who were walking home from school in Wyoming and a guy pulled up in a truck and asked for help finding his dog, and one of the girls actually got into the car with him. And I just want to take her parents and shake them for not teaching her that strangers are dangerous and you should never willfully put yourself in a position like that. It’s just how things are these days.

I know I don’t live in a utopia where everything is perfect. I do know that, I don’t want anybody to think I’m generalizing. Because I’m not. I understand that anything can happen anywhere at any time. But, with all the strange and scary news I’ve been hearing lately, it has been an immense relief to know that it is far away from me. It makes me relieved to know that I live in a community where about the worst thing we have to worry about is bears getting into our trash. I just hope it stays like that for as long as possible.

What Have I Been Up To

A lot!

Dang, I have been married for 2 weeks! It feels like a long time ago. Last week I was actually really sad that it was over. All that time leading up to it and then it was such a beautiful day and it was over SO fast. I miss it. Not all the stress, but the having the family and friends near…being able to see people I haven’t seen in a long time. It was just a magical couple of days and I really wish I could have that back.

But onwards and upwards, I guess. I have a lot of things on my plate. First off, today I sent out my contract to the literary agency!

Here goes!

Soon I should begin the editing and revision process with my editor. I’m so ready to go. I have no idea what they’re going to want out of me so I’m very anxious to get going. I have to reconfigure my entire schedule around the kind of work they’ll want out of me and I foresee a lot of late nights spent editing. But I couldn’t be more happy about that. This is what I love and I am still in a state of shock that it’s moving forward.

What else. I’ve started running, which is a huge achievement for me because I am a terrible couch potato. I used to not care so much because when I worked in the restaurant I was on my feet and running around like crazy for 8 or 9 hours a day, but now at the bank I’m pretty sedentary and I know that could sneak up on me if I’m not careful. I definitely didn’t do enough before the wedding and I’m a little embarrassed about some of the wedding photos so that kind of bums me out even though there’s nothing I can do to change it. I’m using an iPhone app that takes you from 0-10K through a slow progression. I’m still pretty early on in the process but I’m glad to be doing it. I was originally planning on doing a 10K in December with some girlfriends, but my work schedule intervened and I’ll have to sit that one out, but it’s still a good thing to do for myself to stay healthy especially before I get pregnant.

Lately I’ve been working a lot on making the house feel more homey. We’ve been here for almost 5 months and it still feels….not ours. A house more than a home. So over the weekend I put up shelves in the kitchen and painted a wall in the living room to give it some character. We just got the proofs of the wedding photos and they are GORGEOUS so I can’t wait to have an absolute field day getting some printed and framed. (Speaking of wedding photos we still haven’t developed the disposable cameras we had at all the reception tables, we need to get on that.) Last week we planted some trees in the yard that our next door neighbor was nice enough to give to us. We put two aspens in the backyard and a “Siberian Snow Pea” in the front yard. I put it in quotations because I don’t know if that’s the actual name, that’s what our neighbors kept calling it. Either way we put it in the front because it is thorny and the elk won’t eat it! I organized the kitchen cabinets in an attempt to become less cluttered because that has been a huge challenge for us. I really hate clutter but for some reason it is just so easy to accumulate! Maybe now that the wedding is over and life is kind of “normal” now it might get a little easier. I hope anyway. I know it’s something that we have to work on together and it’s not just going to happen on its own but hopefully with things more organized it’ll be easier. I think my project this weekend will be to tackle the guest room because it looks like a bomb has gone off in there.

Painting the living room–yep that’s the top of the fireplace

Keeping the house clutter-free isn’t the only challenge I’ve had with routines lately. You’d think with me working pretty standard hours it would be easier to have a routine for getting things cleaned, doing the laundry, shopping for groceries, cooking dinner…but for some reason it is really hard. It’s even more hard to fit in things like, writing. I have been much better at keeping a good reading schedule, which is a habit I’ve been sorely remiss on lately. I am plowing my way through A Clash of Kings and this weekend when I accidentally left my book at work I felt really lonely.

Fall is pretty much coming to a fade here in Estes Park. The parking lot grows emptier and emptier every day which means the tourists are heading home (yay!). The weather forecast is calling for some pretty significant snow later this weekend and I am really excited! The trees have almost all dropped their leaves and it looks pretty much like early winter here even though the temperatures are still pretty mild. It’s strange going down the valley because a lot of the trees down there are still green. Such a wide range of stages of fall. Unfortunately we do still have a wildfire happening up here, but it is doing some good as it’s getting rid of a lot of the beetle kill in the higher areas which means we’ll start getting a lot more aspens and new trees up there. It looks bad because of the wind. This is how it looked today when I went to lunch.

From the library

It also looks a lot closer than it is. It’s only 7 miles away but it’s way up in the high terrain so there’s not a whole lot of danger to the city right now.

Welp, I think that about does it for now. Life continues to move forward. I’m excited to see what the next couple of weeks will bring with the agent. I’ll keep you updated!

Till then.

I’m going to explode.

I was going to write about something else today, but I guess that will have to wait–because this is way more important.

I got an agent to represent me and my novel for publication!

An accurate representation of how I feel

I could explode. The agency contacted me last week and said they wanted to talk to me about the book. This morning they called and told me that they were immensely impressed with my voice, my character dialogue, and my style. They said I could be a “tremendous contender” in the genre and they made me an offer immediately, just like that. They made it clear that there is work to be done with the plot and some other minor things but they are willing to go side by side with me for the revision and editing process.

I could not be more excited. I’ve been shaking since this morning. I am so stunned that it happened so fast–statistically speaking, authors are rejected dozens of times before getting a yes (the author of The Help had 60 rejections). I really beat the odds.

AHHHH HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP

More updates when I get them…I should be receiving my contract by Monday and then it is off to the races. I’m just…explodable.

We Did It!

We did it! We got married!

Handfasted

What fun we had. I was concerned about the weather but in hindsight I think it just made it all more memorable. The temperature at the time of the ceremony was roughly 30 degrees and we had snow flurries in the air. As you can see from the picture, I did not have a whole lot on and boy was it cold. But it was worth it. It was great Scottish weather for a Scottish handfasting! The clouds were really low and looked like fog in the distance. As one friend said, the only thing we were missing was heather on the hill! We had a beautiful ceremony full of laughs and tears and memories. It was over so fast (even though it felt like years out there in the cold) and the reception went even faster. That night Cameron and I relaxed at a resort hotel and in the morning we had breakfast and massages followed by lunch at my parents’ house where we visited more with our out of town guests and opened up our gifts. It was a whirlwind weekend and I really wish I could do it all over again, despite all that time I said that I wanted it to just be over.

Now I can’t wait to see all the professional photos. In the meantime, here’s a few that we collected from friends.

Walking the aisle with Dad

 

Dancing the Macarena
Father Daughter Dance

 

My best girls

A Year in the High Country

It was just about a year ago when Cameron and I drove up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park to take in the changing autumn leaves. We were living in Fort Collins and wanted to take advantage of the cool weather and the time off together. We brought the dog and walked him around Lake Estes where he delighted in jumping right into the water and getting completely soaked. After that we hopped back in the car and took a drive up near Bear Lake to see the colors. On the way back down, Cameron said to me, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could live here? It seems like such a nice little town with the Park so close to it.” I said that it would be cool, especially since we always enjoyed coming up to hike and get out of the city.

That was on a Saturday. The very next Monday, I was at work (I worked at a local bookstore/coffee shop) and got a text from Cameron. “WE NEED TO TALK.” Which of course got me all sorts of worried. He had recently been applying to be promoted to store manager at a new store in Fort Collins and someone else had been picked. In the meantime he’d been temporarily managing a store in Cheyenne, which was a good hour’s drive each way and was going pretty poorly. So on the one hand I was immediately worried that something had come up, but on the other I was thinking, maybe the other applicant for the Fort Collins store declined the offer! So I hopped on the phone and called him back.

“Remember how we were just talking about how cool it would be to live in Estes Park?”

Long pause. Not quite what I was expecting. “Uhhh, yeah.”

“Well I just got an offer to manage the store up there starting November first. My district manager said he won’t allow me to take it unless we move up there though. What do you think?”

My immediate thought, of course, was yes. We had been talking all summer about how this was the time in our lives to go somewhere else and explore other places because how many other times would we have the opportunity to just pack up and go? And, how awesome to live in Estes Park! On the other hand, though, I thought for sure it must be terribly expensive to live up there and we had just moved 5 months before and I had only been at my job for 3 months and we didn’t have much in savings and I don’t know if I can commute and what if what if what if. I was already on brain overload because I was scheduled to have my wisdom teeth taken out the very next morning. I told him we’d have to look at how expensive it would be before we could make a decision.

So when I got home we hopped onto the computer and started doing some searching for apartments or rental properties. There wasn’t much available because it was right about the end of the season–but there were a couple promising properties in our price range. Cameron called on one and the renter gave him the details and said we could go look at it whenever we wanted as it had just come available about a week before.

Dreams of living in the peaceful mountains filled my head as I went to my dental appointment the next day. It definitely calmed my nerves. The very next day (Wednesday now) I loaded up on pain meds and we drove up to Estes to look at the property we had called about. It was a rustic 2-bedroom cabin up in the woods on the east side of the city in a pretty remote location. 

It was only about 500 square feet, but had a kind of beauty to it. Beautiful wood beams and log siding. (It sure looked pretty at Christmastime.) Then again, it was showing its age for sure. It was old and kind of musty and it didn’t have forced air heating (no really, it just had a large Coleman radiator that probably was installed in the 50s), the windows were rickety and single pane and the kitchen was….I don’t even know how to describe it. Small doesn’t quite work. Miniscule. This place was built in 1925 and I have no doubt that it was at one time a beautiful cabin, but sometime in what might have been the 60s or 70s the interior was ripped out and re-designed so that, I have no doubt, it could be rented out. And somewhere along the line when they were finishing that up, I imagine the builders must have been packing up their stuff and suddenly realized “we forgot to put in a kitchen!” so they built this wall through the living room and stuck appliances in it. It was so bizarre. I can’t even describe it-so here’s a picture.

Weird right?

In any case, it was definitely just good for temporary existence. It was small and didn’t have much storage and it was so remote I always worried about the dog being outside because of bears. It had its silver lining though. For starters, this was our view:

Longs Peak & Mt. Meeker

I mean, how could you complain about that?

So, the very next day we went to Longmont to sign the lease. What a fast process! We packed up our condo in Fort Collins and moved up to Estes on the 15th of November. It was definitely an adjustment. Our first night in the cabin, there were record-breaking winds reaching 100mph. I remember lying awake in that house all night wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into. It ended up being a pretty rough transition for me. I had to leave my job at the bookstore, which I’d loved. It was a mutual decision–we both decided that it was going to be good for us–but that didn’t mean I automatically reaped the benefits of that move. I ended up being unemployed till almost March (this was November, remember, in a tourist town that does business pretty much only in the summer) and it was hard. I was home alone most of the time and winter is already a hard time for me. And that’s of course to say there’s no fault of Cameron’s, because he had to work and I mean let’s be real, that’s why we moved up here. I had a lot of wedding stuff to do to keep me busy, but that only went so far. In any event, it came as a real relief when I got a job in early March. I quit that job by August because the hours were just too unlike Cameron’s hours and I never saw him. But I’m much happier now where I am.

In the end, it’s really been a challenging, fun, and bumpy year for us here in Estes Park. I’ve met so many great people and I have so many opportunities in the arts. I’m part of a local theater company, sing with the Estes Park Oratorio, and I’m a member of a prominent local writer’s club. We love living here and we’re definitely glad that we bought the house. I don’t know if we’ll stay here forever, but I’m happy to be here right now. The seasons here are just spectacular. The fall colors are peaking this week and it’s just glorious. It’s quiet here (usually, unless there’s tons of tourists in town) and it’s away from the big city. Plus I get to see stuff like this every day out my window. And for that I really can’t complain.