NaNo ’18: New Projects, Old Projects, and This Crazy Thing Called Life

I have been MIA lately and I am not ashamed.

Between work and the projects I have going on and having a toddler, husband, and household to run blogging is pretty low on the totem pole of importance.

What I have been doing, however, is working on the second draft of my Camp NaNo ’18 project, Changeling. That is an experience. I have been carving out an hour or so every few days to work on it.

After my first read through of the first draft I made notes and the second draft is implementation of those notes. This is essentially just me deleting large chunks of the first draft and writing entirely new scenes to make things connect and make a little more sense than it did before. Besides some glaring plot holes in draft #1, I am also changing place names (turning real place names into fantasy names to give myself more creative license in future drafts), and fixing obvious grammatical errors.

So that has been an experience. I am not done with the edits and I am already marking places where I need to return in the 3rd draft and do some major revisions.

Overall, progressing though slowly.

I am hoping to finish the edits before November 1st so I can begin a new project with slightly less guilt.

Foxface: A Novel. Justice is for the rich, for everyone else there is revenge. Author name: PhantasyCreator90. NaNo 2018.
NaNo signature banner featuring NaNo ’18 project.

As always, the new project is shiny and I am itching to move on. But I think Changeling is worth suffering over so I am committed to the revisions.

The shiny new project is a little different of a vibe from Changeling. For one, the shiny new project is steampunk so right away the time and setting will be vastly different. Tech will play a big role in it which is a challenge.

I also think the characters I am writing are vastly different and it will be interesting to get inside this new creation’s head and soul and see what I can find there. Foxface has suffered much more than Viviane and Rose (Changeling‘s main characters) and she has a score to settle. From my preliminary visits with her, she doesn’t seem content to let anything go.

Foxface, like Changeling, requires a lot of research into the historically relevant aspects of the story. Its heavily inspired by the politics of the Scandinavian region during the 1800’s-1900’s and the oppression of the Samí people in Norway. But its steampunk so its alt-history and I can take a few freedoms with some of the details.

I obviously like challenging myself with these history inspired stories. I think the context of certain events in human history just adds such an interesting significance to fiction. I like grounding my dreams in reality, I guess. Not even sure that means anything.

Anyway, that is the short of my creative projects. I have been sneaking in some reading time where I can. I think since my last review (Girl, Wash Your Face) I have finished seven more books:

  1. A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Outlander Series) by Diana Gabaldon-3 Stars
  2. Troubleshooting Your Novel: Essential Techniques for Identifying and Solving Manuscript Problems by Steven James-5 Stars
  3. Mama Gone Geek: Calling On My Inner Science Nerd to Help Navigate the Ups and Downs of Parenthood by Lynn Brunelle-3 Stars
  4. Arabella of Mars (Adventures of Arabella Ashby Series) by David D. Levine-3 Stars
  5. An Echo in the Bone (Outlander Series) by Diana Gabaldon-3 Stars
  6. 1984 by George Orwell-5 Stars
  7. Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows Series) by Leigh Bardugo-5 Stars

I should have been writing reviews for these books but honestly my mental health has not lent itself to a desire to do that. Taking anti-depressants regularly keeps me sane but it puts a noticeable damper on my ability to write, or write something I feel comfortable sharing.

But I am currently reading three books and I am hoping I will be able to write some meaningful reviews for those. Check my Goodreads if you’re interested in what I’m currently read.

Enough of that, back to work!

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have seen this particular blog/vlog trend floating around and thought why not? It’s Thursday, the weekend is coming, Spring Break is coming, let’s have some fun. I also thought this would be a fun way for readers to get to know me and maybe get some perspective on my weirdness.
Here are some of my favorite products.

Ninja Coffeemaker

Coffee is the only reason I get out the door in the morning. I don’t need breakfast, I don’t need a shower, I don’t need a cute outfit. I need my cup of black coffee. This coffeemaker makes delicious black coffee but also has the option to make iced coffee, flavored coffee, etc. It is basically a coffee shop in one little, moderately priced machine. It also gives you the option to schedule a brew so you can wake up to the smell of fresh coffee in the morning and you can select various sizes from a cup (12 ounces), a travel mug (14 ounces), a half pot, to a full carafe. There is a pull-down ledge for your coffee mug to perch on to reduce splattering.
My MacBook! Hubby bought it for me as an X-Mas gift, and I already can’t live without it.

Hubby took my old laptop overseas when he deployed in 2016, and it did not survive the trip. To be fair it was fairly roughed up when he left, I had owned it for about 5 years before that. But he ended up buying me a new laptop when he came home, a MacBook which I had wanted for a while. It is lightweight, slim, but still a workable size. This is also my first time spending a substantial amount of time on iOS, I had been a Windows user my entire life, save using mobile iOS on my iPhone. But the OS was easy to learn, and I am in love with the Rose Gold finish.

I absolutely adore the Kat Von D Lock-It foundation and have exclusively been using it for years. This is a full coverage foundation and can cover tattoos if needed. I use it to hide something even less desirable than a regrettable tattoo, my natural skin tone. Seriously, this foundation covers my acne scars, current breakouts, freckles, and doesn’t settle in my rapidly forming wrinkles. I use this daily, which probably doesn’t help the breakouts, but I never leave the house without it. I buy this in Light 45. It usually lasts me about 6 months, even though I use it so frequently which makes it totally worth the cost.

Color Last by L.A. Colors costs about $4 each at Walmart and seriously lasts forever. You do two coats and a top coat and allow it to thoroughly dry and you get a salon quality manicure for a fraction of the cost. Depending on how shaky your hands are with the brush. I INTEND on buying many, many more colors of this brand.
And those are just a few of my favorite things. I may do another post in the future with more of my favorite things, but those are things I was able to take quick pictures of. What are some of your favorite things?

Dirty Clothes: The Benefits of Letting Kids Play Outside

I can remember going outside to play immediately after breakfast as a child and not coming back indoors until right before bedtime. Yes, we often ate lunch and dinner outdoors during the warm months. We didn’t have air conditioning in the tiny farmhouse my grandparents lived in, and I was partially raised in. The inside was not nearly as cool as outside under the shade of our apple tree or giant flowering bushes. Nor could a fan replace the feeling of the breeze pulling my hair back from my face as I sped down a hill on my bike, standing, butt hiked in the air, racing my siblings and cousins.

My daughter took a tumble on a warm January day

Granted I was raised in the country, down a holler, where all my neighbors were related to me. I was able to spend all day home with my grandparents who didn’t work while my single mom worked a full-time job. And we had a solid half acre of play space not counting the hillside was sported a mile long (est.) dirt road up to the family cemetery which we frequently hiked.
We played video games and watched TV, and I loved to read, so we spent our fair share of time indoors even in the 90s-00s. But we got dirty every single day. I still have scars on my knees from all the spills I took on my bike or falling while running foot races. I always had dirt under my nails. We climbed trees. We rolled in the grass. We jumped through sprinklers. We engaged with nature, and I believe we are all better adults for it.

A Love of Nature

First and foremost, I think having a childhood where playtime and outside were so intertwined has lent me a healthy respect for nature I carry to this day. Having splashed in and swum in our little creek that ran behind our house, I know the importance of having clean natural water sources. My grandmother, aunt, and uncle were ardent flower lovers, and we had multiple flower beds to weed as part of our chores. Our grandfather farmed and we were able to supplement our food sources with the vegetables we grew. As a result of that we learned to appreciate the process of planting and watching things grow, and caring for them and reaping the benefits of that attention and work. We determined the role of bugs in growing plants as well and learned to not fear them for their more creepy crawly properties.

Getting back up to try this again!


Secondly, we got so much exercise. Childhood obesity is a real problem. The CDC reports that 1 in 5 school age children and teens is obese. That number has more than tripled since the 1970’s. Obesity is not only the result of a lack of exercise. Nutrition and genetics can play significant factors in a child’s propensity to obesity as well. But the fact remains that leading an active lifestyle can reduce and prevent obesity in most individuals. There are barriers for children leading an active lifestyle. Unlike my siblings and me, many children lack a safe space to play outdoors. Children living in urban or highly populated areas may require more supervision. All the stories of abducted children and the pictures of them are enough to make most parents lock their kids in a closet just to keep them safe from strangers. Public parks and state parks with hiking trails can be beneficial to people who lack the outdoor space. Another solution is for schools to reintroduce recess, specifically outdoor unstructured play as a required part of the school day. According to an article by Ginsburg, Committee on Communicationsand the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health, a survey conducted in 1989 found that 96% of kindergarten classes had a recess period. Ten years later that number dropped to 70%.
I was lucky as a child that in addition to having a home life that supported such outdoor playtime, my elementary school also had a decent outside playground adjacent to a wooded area and away from private homes or commercial businesses that might attract strangers. The woods behind the school had also been set up as a sort of conservation education center where trees and plants were labeled with their Latin names and a path clearly marked.

Developmental Advantages

Third, there are many documented developmental advantages to outdoor play including improved motor and sensory development, confidence building, and cognitive development and may even have behavioral benefits for children with ADD.

Improved Immune System

Finally, for my list, playing in the dirt may enhance the immune system not to mention the added benefits of getting things like Vitamin D from sunshine. Factors like improved hygiene and more time spent indoors seem to have caused allergy rates to rise dramatically and allowing children to be exposed to natural elements like soil, plants, and pollen can help diminish the risk of developing allergies. There is a distinction in playing the dirt and playing in dirt that may be tainted with industrial waste, human waste, or other harmful bacteria harboring sites. This Forbes article suggests visiting National Parks which are protected from industrial and commercial dumping, clear-cutting, and/or mining.

Her smile says it all. She loves playing outside!

Kids can be cleaned, their clothes can be washed, or replaced depending on the severity of staining. But childhoods cannot be changed or replaced. And the health benefits are there and shouldn’t be ignored.


So, since my husband returned safely from his deployment, I have been thinking about what to do with this blog. I had been posting love poems and letters for my hubby to enjoy and to hopefully connect with others who were going through the same thing. Now that he is home, the nature of the blog and my day to day life has changed. I changed the name of the blog to more generally reflect my interests.
Blogging in and of itself is such a niche interest, and usually, the things people write about are only of interest to a few people at a time. I don’t particularly want to reach for topics I am not personally interested in just to attract an audience. I do have, what I feel is, a wide variety of interests from:

  • parenting
  • writing
  • reading
  • DIY
  • military
  • politics
  • libraries
  • information literacy
  • Appalachia
  • history
  • cooking
  • nature
  • etc.

I hope to post some variable and honest content. As you can see, it will be eclectic. But I am hoping my audience is similar to me (random and nerdy).
Living in a rural area, I feel like I have a limited number of people who may share my interests and blogging is a way to find my community. Look for some different content in the future including book reviews, recipes, experiences in the real world, and hopefully so much more.