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Elise Manion

Author of Contemporary Romantic Fiction

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grief

Thank you to Camp NaNoWriMo

It wasn’t until I forced myself to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo 2017 that I realized I’d begun writing my current WIP two years ago. So much had happened in such a short amount of time that I’d forgotten all about my baby.

Let’s take a look back; in February of 2015 I resigned from my job to pursue a writing career. I was in the revision phase of writing Jarod’s Heart when I realized that I had other characters and stories that needed my attention. It was my husband who’d said, “Quit.” So, I did. After that, I finished the second novel in the King Brothers trilogy and immediately began writing Josh’s story.

By October 2015, I’d been hired part-time (Yay!) and also been called to serve on a grand jury for eighteen months (Boo!). I was sidetracked by short stories that were begging to be written, a very controversial Presidential Election (Holy Cow!), and then my only son decided to move three states away. Two weeks after that, my father was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer that eventually took his life. Tuck in the passing of my 95-year-old grandmother and you’ve got a whole lotta life changes going on there!

Josh had most definitely been forgotten.

When the dust settled after the funerals (or celebrations of life as some like to call them. A spade is a spade, though. Whatever you call them they still hurt like hell.) I realized that I had some unfinished work to do but I had absolutely no idea how to get it done. I spoke with my publishers about a game plan, sat down and … stared at a blank screen.

The words were just gone. Nothing, zippo, nada. I had half a story written and couldn’t get the rest out of my head. It was like My Muse had died with my dad. It was a truly scary moment because my maternal grandmother had been placed in a senior care facility for dementia, something that probably runs in our family. Oy. Vey!

As summer approached, I looked forward to time off. My part-time job is with the local school district so I have the students’ schedule (again Yay!). I didn’t think about writing. I thought about how my closet needed cleaning out and how the carpet in my living room and office needed replacing. My Man and I had discussed replacing it months before my dad got sick. Now is the time to act! I thought, and so we did.

While my house was in complete disarray, I was trolling through social media and Camp NaNoWriMo kept showing up in all my feeds. Some old cogs that were dusty and rusty inside my brain began to squeakily turn. I’d written Jason’s Princess on a whim during NaNoWriMo back in 2013. I loved how freeing it had been to just “vomit” my words on the page without worrying about grammar, punctuation, and all the other rules of writing that seem to slow a storyteller down. I investigated Camp and discovered that there was no 50,000 word rule, that I could set my own goal of words to complete within the month. It’s all very cute, too. They put you in a “cabin” with other writers who offer each other encouragement and advice, all while trying to meet their own goals, either it be word count, line count, pages written or hours spent writing.

I sucked it up and set a word goal. I am happy to report that going this route woke up My Muse and Josh’s Challenge is twenty thousand words longer than my other two books! Of course, I added more words so that I could edit and revise as I need to (it’s vomit after all), but the point is that I finished!

I discovered something else during my awakening. I have more stories to tell, more to write and in different genres as well. The King Brothers trilogy is a contemporary romantic suspense set in rural Nevada, but the others working their way out range from historical, to women’s lit, to paranormal.

So, THANK YOU Camp NaNoWriMo for encouraging me and other authors of all levels to write and to keep writing no matter what is going on their lives.

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The New Normal

It’s been a while since my last post and the reason for that is that I needed time for adjustment. My mother put it like this, “We’ve been lucky for so long that it’s just our turn now.” She may have a point, but it still hurts like hell. Random attacks of tears are still something that I have to get used to. I’m not really a cryer by nature so when a jag hits, it hits hard. One minute I’m not even thinking about it and the next I’m crying in waves. I’m beginning to realize that all it takes is one random thought to get me going.

The consequences of having crying turrets is that my current manuscript is limping along, stalled out in parts. My Muse has begun creating stories again but my brain has an inability to process them, put them in order, or lay them out in a way that would make sense. I do admit that I had one really good day where a scene flew onto the page, but once it was there it just stared back at me blinking its eyes like, “Okay good. What’s next?”

I have no idea.

I do have the next few weeks off from my daytime job so I’ve set little writing goals for myself. Nothing too strenuous. I don’t want to sprain anything in my head, for crying out loud (no pun intended). I’m satisfied that I’ve managed to make plans to get something done. I made similar goals on our recent trip to visit family but, of course, I didn’t complete any them. I was with family after all but I feel better just knowing that planning to write had been on my mind.

In between the tearful chaos, there is the life chaos. My Man and I are empty nesters and have made room for Mom to move in with us. She’s still thinking about it. Most of her family is here but she likes to spend some time in the house my father built three hours away in a little farming community. It has good hunting, quiet days and sweet neighbors but, sadly, no family. When she’s there, she’s there alone which I don’t really like, especially since there was a snake in her house today! I thank God everyday for technology so that I can check on her… and so that she can look up on YouTube how to shoo a snake out of her house with her broom. EEEK!

For now we are just taking one day at a time, one breath at a time, one crying jag at a time. Until we can make any final decisions, life goes on in this kind of limbo without Dad here with us…which unfortunately is our new normal.

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