100 Followers & Something New

Illuminated Literation has reached 100 followers! I’m so excited and so grateful for each and every one of you. I’ve been having a lot of fun writing, reading, and interacting with you all.

To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to do something new. I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive to share with you a video that I made. I can’t stand to hear my own voice recorded, let alone see myself on video, but I forced myself to do it anyway. I really wanted to do something different and to share the status of my YA novel.

 

To sum up what I stumble through in the video, here is a short synapses of where my YA story is at so far.

Brian Colt is seventeen years old and alone. After losing his family in an automobile accident he is forced to leave Alaska and is sent to live with his uncle Bo Colt in Washington State. What’s super awkward is that Brian has never met his uncle Bo. He knows that there was a  major fallout between Bo and his father when they were teenagers, but no one ever talks about it. What’s even more awkward is when Brian meets his cousin Rebecca Colt (step-cousin, thank God) who he is reluctantly attracted to. Brian plans to go back to Alaska and take over his family’s logging operation as soon as he turns eighteen, but first he must survive senior year and live with an unforeseen, violent opponent.

Rebecca Colt has big dreams to become a marine biologist. She knows that the odds are stacked against her and nobody believes she will amount to anything. Her nickname at school is “Hot Garbage” because everyone knows her family is trash. The trailer she lives in is less sanitary than some of the dumpsters in town. Her step father Bo tells her exactly what he thinks of her with his fists, and her mother Tammy is lost in her pills. Rebecca’s one saving grace is her best friend Kali, the one person who believes in her, that is until her cousin.. (eh hem)…step cousin comes to town…

That is my story thus far. Thank you for following and for reading. I hope you guys have an awesome week.

♥R♥

COVER IMAGE FOUND HERE.

 

HOW I MANAGE AS A WRITER AND MOTHER

 

I haven’t talked about my YA novel in a  LONG time. Mostly because I have prioritized other writing opportunities, and lets face it, writing time is precious and rare. A lot of my writing has been personal essays about motherhood because that has been the consumption of my life. It’s easy for me to write about funny, special, horrible moments about motherhood because they happen ALL OF THE TIME and I can complete a short essay while my son is sleeping.

While I want to continue writing about motherhood, I have also made my YA novel a priority again. With all of these writing goals and raising a son I have had to learn some time management and prioritization.

outlining

This is how I attempt to manage writing and motherhood:

CREATE A SCHEDULE AND STICK WITH IT

This is what my average day looks like:

7AM-8AM

Wake up at 7am and build my social media platform i.e. IlluminatedLiteration (blog), Twitter: @Illuminate_Lit, Pinterest,  Facebook, and LinkedIn. I try to make my rounds as quickly as possible before my son wakes up around 7:30-8:00am.

8AM-11AM

Then I take care of my son (and clean house) until he goes to sleep around 11-11:30am.

11AM-1:30PM

Naps are PRIME writing time. I get two solid hours of uninterrupted writing when he takes a nap. I try to do a lot of my blog posts while he is napping, I also try to catch up on a lot of my blogs that I follow.

1:30-9pM

I’m on parent duty with my husband from 1:30pm- 9pm.

9pm-You can’t keep your eyes open any longer

So guess when most of my writing time happens… late evening and into the night. Sometimes I crawl into bed around midnight or later if I’m on a roll.

Don’t forget to make time to do your research.

If you want to be a successful writer you have to read A LOT. There are some evenings when I skip writing because my brain just can’t even because I know reading your target genre is crucial for a good artistic outcome. Sometimes, if I really need to multi-task I watch a movie adaptation (*gasp*!) and take care of my son. Honestly, the point of writing non-fiction is to tell a story, and watching the movie adaptation of a novel still teaches you structure.

Get Social

This is honestly my favorite part of writingmeeting other writers and professionals in the industry. Unfortunately, this is the step most writers struggle with because at the end of the day, they have to spend a ton of time on their own craft and when you are a mother you have other priorities that you need you RIGHT NOW! I try my best to read other blogger’s work and respond to comments between feedings and when my son is playing and really any time I can grasp a smidgen of time to interact with other writers.

Embrace Chaos And Accept That You Can’t Do It All

I have so many blog posts, stories, words, ideas floating around in my head. I also have a pair of hazel eyes that look to me for nutrition, exercise, learning, and loving. We CAN’T do it all, we can only do our best. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of the things we want to do. I know that this blog post could have been 10x better if I had more time, but my son is going to wake up in 30 minutes and I really should eat SOMETHING today.

♥R♥

Courage is 75% of the Battle When Writing Non-Fiction

Short non-fiction is my jam. I gobble up the words when I read it, and feel rays of enlightenment when I write it. Writing non fictional pieces about the experiences in my life is exhilarating, but it’s also terrifying. There is the ever-present fear of do I remember that correctly? or what if I insult someone by telling MY truths? And then there is this little thing called social media where people don’t forget it you say something incredibly stupid. Nope, you can’t burn that embarrassing opening line because it’s on your blog and guess what, hundreds of people have already read it.

I will be honest, there are things that I have wanted to write about, but are so personal, embarrassing, raw, etc. that I have held back. I know that family and friends read my pieces (thank guys), and I want to make them proud. I don’t want to hurt anyone by the things I say. And then I read about women and men who tell their sexual assault stories. Young boys who were gang beaten and had the courage to speak up. Parents who lost their children to mass shootings, the horrible list continues. My point being that thousands of people have to face the verbal assault on social media after telling their horrific stories and I want to tell them all how much I deeply admire their courage. When I think of the writers who have been persecuted for their work I am deeply humbled.

The women of Mirman Baheer, a women’s literary society based in Kabul Afghanistan risk their lives to have their voices heard through their poetry every day. Let me say that again, RISK THEIR LIVES to have their poetry heard….it’s 2016. One woman by the name of Zarmina committed suicide in 2010 after her brothers beat her and ripped up all of her poetry notebooks. She was reading her poetry to her fellow female members on the telephone and they assumed she was talking to a man. Another female Afghan poet wrote this about the tragic death of Zarimina,

“Her memory will be a flower tucked into literature’s turban.
In her loneliness, every sister cries for her.” – Amail

My writing dismay is incredibly petty. I know that my fears are minuscule in my privileged life. Sure I may get a few troll attacks, I may offend, but like Kingsley Amis said,

“If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.”

Thank you to the men and women who have made significant change through their words. Thank you for giving other writers the courage and confidence to stand behind their writing. I humbly bow my head to the people who know true sacrifice by telling their experiences.

♥R♥

Featured Image found @:http://weheartit.com/entry/174554343

Me Being IS EXACTLY AS INSANE AS You Being You: A Book Review

Darren hasn’t had an easy year.

There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.

Then one Thursday morning Darren’s dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy’s debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:

1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.

The theme of this novel that really stuck with me was the family unit breaking apart. A pivotal point in your life is when you realize that your family unit consisting of you, your siblings (if you have any), and your parents will lead separate lives. If you are the one who had a harder time grasping that concept, then I think you can relate to Darren.  I had a hard time with my parents divorcing and my older brother leaving for the military, I felt abandoned and alone. I don’t blame anyone for moving on with their lives and finding their own way, but it was fucking tough for me.

At one point in the novel Darren is talking to his older brother Nate and Nate tells him a story about being lost as a young boy when Darren was still a baby. Nate explains when his parents found him,

“Eventually, of course, they found me. And they were freaking out, crying, and pretty much hyperventilating, especially Mom, who was wearing you in that baby carrier they used to have. She hugged me, just smothered me, with your legs dangling in my face. And I was glad to see Mom and Dad, relieved I guess, because I knew living by myself was going to be hard. But, I don’t know, I as mostly thinking , Okay , that was some kind of test and I passed it, because I had to, I could be okay on my own. You were literally tied to Mom, but I was surviving on my own; that’s how I felt then.” Nate continues to explain to Darren that he figured out at a much earlier age than Darren that eventually your parents leave and you must learn to adjust and make it on your own.

As a teen you really start to see your parents as the individuals they were before they became your parents. They don’t work as hard to keep the image of innocence alive for their children. How would they ever help us grow and prepare for the “real” world if we didn’t get to see them as flawed humans? Their defects allow us to forgive ourselves when we make similar mistakes as adults.

I had a wonderful time reading this novel. With each scenario Darren comes closer to finding himself, and ultimately walks away from the family chaos and begins life as an adult.

I highly recommend this book.

Happy reading,

♥R♥

Leave your Sexism at the Door: Gym Rant

DSC_0057
Image from madcrossfit.com

I have  been working out regularly 2-3 times a week for the past 7 years. I know this is nothing to brag about, but hey I’m also not a gym virgin either. So when men come up to me and assume I don’t know how to properly use a machine it pisses me off!

Yesterday I was at the gym, and it was one of those days where I went more to zone out between each rep and enjoy the solitude and freedom of not having a baby on my boob or my hip. It was very slow, obviously it was Valentines Day. Maybe that was my first mistake, never go to the gym on Valentines Day, it encourages people to talk to you and who wants to talk at the gym?  I was casually walking over to the lower back extension machine and I took a second to look at adjusting the height. Apparently my moment of thinking I wonder which lever I pull to lower this machine? was an open indication that:

A) I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

B) I don’t know how to properly use the machine without hurting my little self.

C) I am open to conversation.

Just to clarify, nothing from that assumption is true.Without asking, a man leaned over in front of me and adjusted my machine to the height he though was appropriate for my frame and then instructed me on proper form. After he was done yammering, I pulled out my ear bud, and said I didn’t hear any of that, but thanks. He walked away, clearly my tone must have indicated I was less than interested in his advice or anything else he was offering. There was a second time when someone just walked up and adjusted a piece of equipment for me because I hesitated about 15 second to examine which lever to adjust.

Maybe I am being overly harsh, maybe these men had my best interests at heart. But this is the third time in a month that a  man has approached me at the gym and gave me unsolicited advice. It’s insulting to me that they assumed I needed help. Now I’m insecure that I look like an idiot at the gym. Last month I was working on my vertical jump at a huge equipment piece and I was hitting a handle high up in the air for my target and a guy came up to me and asked “Do you need me to get that handle for you?”. Oh gee, thanks Mister,  I would have been jumping here all day had you not come along. Seriously? You really think I’m jumping up and down 30 consecutive times in a row to to get that handle?  I am aware of the numerous step stools around the gym, mmmm k, thanks. Was he being a sarcastic asshole? Was he genuinely concerned that I was insane?

Maybe I cut them off before I know the truth behind their offers of help. Sometimes I wonder if I’m putting a vibe out there of helpless woman which is really the most terrifying notion. My only console is that women never make the assumption that I’m witless with weights.

For all of the men who are truly concerned about a fellow gym member, if you see a someone at the gym don’t make assumptions. If you are truly concerned about the way he/she is eyeballing a machine, know that if they can’t figure it out they will move on to another machine or ask the staff for help. For the men who are just looking to strike up a conversation, belittling a woman by swooping in to help her on a machine isn’t the way to win hearts or impress her, just be honest in your approach. Although I can tell you from multiple sources that women loath being approached at the gym.

I am not helpless, clueless, weak, or ignorant.

Sincerely,

The crabby mom at the gym.

♥R♥

The Maturation of Creative Writing

tumblr_lx5lunFLNB1qat3l0o1_500

I try to forgive my writing; if I had to put an age on my creative writing skills I would say it is still in the high school phase. Yes, I myself made it through high school and graduated from college, I even spent 3 years in the technical writing world, but my creative writing skidded to a halt after high school.

Also, I desperately need an editor, like yesterday.

I don’t have the patience of a mature writer. I quickly come up with a new writing topic, spend maybe two hours on it and throw it out there on my blog. Similar to a high school boy going to 3rd base for the first time, he has the passion, but shall we say no finesse? Finesse, patience, and skill take time to learn. I have to make many grammar, description, and wrong word choices before I craft that perfect sentence (I have yet to craft THE perfect sentence.). I will hopefully look back on these old posts and cringe at my lack of composure. Resembling the way I look back on my high school days and cringe at my ardent and wistful claims of undying love for the boys with all of the passion and non of the patience. I will be able to see the growth from where I decided to take my creative voice and start speaking of the intangible: pain, fear, and joy.

I don’t know when my creative writing will go from over enthusiastic high school kid to mature professional. Maybe that leap can’t be measured in a single occurrence, but I look forward to blushing and cringing at these early attempts.

♥R♥

59009_1610718674118_725715_n
Throw back to Graduation from Western Washington University 2010

The Lazy Writer: Reading is My Crutch

Since I made my declaration of “I’m going to Write a Novel!” on FB, people ask me all of the time, “How is your novel progressing?”. To which I reply, “No comment…hahaha” or “Writers block is a bitch you know?” as I shuffle my feet and avoid eye contact.

I have a pretty extensive outline (which I am quite happy with) and tons of notes and ideas, but when it comes to the writing, well I don’t have  much. The few pages I do have I am not happy with and honestly it has thrown some water on my fiery passion of writing. I think damp is a good way to describe how I feel about my novel. I got caught up in the storm of a great idea and I was running full tilt and splashing in the puddles, but now the thrill has worn off and I am just wet and cold. To distract myself I read a lot.

Image result for sopping wet

I have always been a voracious reader and a half ass/part-time “writer”. I read everything I can get my hands on. Lately, I have been on a huge Tudor/English court kick. Phillipa Gregory and Sandra Gulland are two authors who I highly recommend if you like the genre. I took a break from Henry the eighth and all of his dramatic descendants to read the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. You have to love the sexy, sassy Sookie and all of her supernatural eye candy. But I have to wonder, is all of this fun reading just a delightful distraction?

Front Cover  Front Cover Front Cover

Are voracious readers all just lazy writers? Are we the crash and burn wannabe authors who just couldn’t hack it in the literary race? My story is the one novel I can’t buy off of the bookshelf until I write it.

Time to put on my rain boots and word sludge.

The Stupid Girl

Disclaimer to all readers: Please don’t read this article as me casting my emotional rod into the internet ocean for compliments. This narcissistic issue starts and ends with me.

“I am stupid.” I say this to myself often throughout the day. I whisper it to myself in the bathroom at work after I ask an obvious question to my co-workers. Every day when I leave the office, I think to myself, “I am the weakest link on my team.” Hell, I would vote myself off in most team situations. I inhale the word idiot and exhale in a rush of anxiety when someone asks me for directions within the town I reside. How do I explain that I can’t remember street names that I drive on daily? When people talk about North, South, East, and West they may as well be speaking a foreign language. My family has had to deal with more directional hysterics from me than anyone should have to in a lifetime. I thank God daily for their patience.

I think my stupidity complex started in elementary school when my class began learning multiplication. My teacher created a pyramid to chart the basic 0-12 multiplication table. Well let me tell you I was no Pharaoh of THAT pyramid. My peers started to progress, but I always stayed at the bottom. I think I got through the 2’s (2×2 =4, 2×3=6, etc.) and just stopped. For months I sat in shame at the bottom of that pyramid while I watched other children receive treats for their success. It was not the rewards that I coveted, my parents were generous people, I didn’t want for much growing up. I wanted to be equal with my peers, but I was always behind.

I hated sitting in class where the whispered words “You’re stupid.” echoed throughout my mind and bounced around the walls. School was my mirror, where I had to face the part of myself I desperately loathed. In high school I graduated with a 2.0 GPA, a courtesy from teachers who desperately wanted to see me succeed. Even living through the trauma of K-12, I decided to attend community college. The decision was due to my best friend applying. I thought, “I guess college is the thing to do”.

After my first quarter at community college which felt like a flash back to the nightmare of K-12 (Pre-reqs are the worst!) I began to look forward to class. I found a passion for learning aside from the anxiety of everyone finding out just how stupid I really was. I devoured the content of each class. I knew that my work was weak so I made up for it in participation. I volunteered my ass off. If the teacher asked a question, I was the first to answer. Extra credit, I was all over it. My GPA went from a 2.0 in high school to a 3.7 upon graduation from Western Washington University.

My time at WWU was a chaotic, wonderful, crazy time in my life. I was working two jobs and completely immersed in my English literature degree. I was finding my way and learning who the “adult Rachel” was. I had my setbacks as well though. For example, I remember being in a study group for a 400 level English class. I was with two very intelligent classmates (the Sheldon and Leonard of the English world) and I told them I felt bad because I wasn’t helping much with the assignment, they were just flat out faster than me. But in good humor they joked that I provided the tea and the study space at my apartment. I cried that night, all of my old anxieties and worries rushing back at me. The echo of “I’m stupid, I’m stupid, I’m stupid” was an earthquake inside my dark bedroom.  The next morning the emotional disaster that was my ego followed me onto the bus. I went to class with a residual “Stupid“.

Time reveals the magic of our past, hidden behind the black curtain of the present.

All of my life I had teachers and parents who believed in me. They were showing me their faith in a variety of ways. My 3rd grade teacher had me read one of my stories out loud to three other classes. My math teacher Mr. Sessions gave me extra assignments so I could graduate from high school. Upon graduation day he gave me a dream catcher that he made himself. My Dad paid for my first two years of college out-of-pocket, with only a 2.0 GPA from high school backing up my scholarly reputation. My Mom and step father let me live at home for four years after high school. They spent hours every week helping me with homework. None of those people would have gone to such effort if they did not see any potential in me. I will never forget how I almost fell to the floor when one of my classmates introduced me to his reading group as one of the most insightful, intelligent people in our class. That compliment was a cast for my broken confidence that was beaten down by yours truly.

I can look back now and appreciate my academic achievements; I can attribute graduating to not floating by on participation and extra credit. I looked like an idiot (often) and I survived. I hope sometime in the future I will look at this time in my life and realize that: I was good at my job. My novel was decent. I should listen to my husband when he patiently tells me that I am, in fact, an intelligent woman. Maybe one day I will realize that I am not the only driver in a constant state of lost. Tomorrow I will look in the mirror and tell myself, “You are not the stupid girl.”