Life in progress

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Holiday Anxiety in Children

I sit here writing this in a state of exhaustion. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you’ve been here. Up since 4am with a child who can’t see the merit of sleeping when tired, but can only scream and cry, I’m just about ready to do the same. Most of us go through a stage when this occurs on a daily (or nightly basis) but even when that less-than-delightful slice of life is over, it can come back with a vengeance during the holidays.

But they’re supposed to be fun, aren’t they? Relatives come to visit, or we go to visit them; everyone has an extra day off work or school or daycare; there’s great food to be eaten; there’s excitement in the air because everything is different! So what’s the problem?

First, many kids can’t handle the excitement. The pressure to be good for Santa, or in this weekend’s case, the Easter bunny can be overwhelming. They don’t know what to do with their energy when all the adults are telling them to please be quiet, and at the same time ignoring them because they haven’t seen Aunt Agnes and Uncle Ralph in ages. Between that and the preparations or the traveling, the kids will start to be annoying because it’s their only way to get the attention they want. The result: anxiety all around.

Second, schedules go down the tubes. When everyone is going about their daily routine, whether it be the weekday one or the weekend one, kids know what to expect and when to expect it. The holidays present an exception to just about everything. For a small child, even the fact that he or she isn’t being served spaghetti as usual on a Saturday evening can be a cause for a little extra glee.

How to combat this depends on the child. With my two who weren’t afraid of Santa and the Easter bunny – or even the tooth fairy – schedule was essential. It was all different, yes, but by letting them know what to expect ahead of time, for instance when people would arrive, what we’re having to eat, when we’re leaving and getting home etc., they could at least anticipate how they needed to behave and when. This way I was able to spend time with them when I wasn’t busy, and they knew that then was the time to have my undivided attention. Allowing them to help out with the preparations was always a good way to spend time with them and still get something done, as long as I allowed for the extra time it would take.

Allowing them to have a say in the decision making as well, was a great way to get through the day. It gave them a sense of control, even though the choices I asked them to make were unessential to what I had planned. For instance: we’re leaving at noon – do you want to wear this coat or that one? This is something I’ve carried through to every day life, and I find it amazingly helpful in getting anywhere. Or in the case of preparation, I would ask them where they wanted the decorations placed.  Thanking them for their good decisions also aided in making them feel as though they were being well behaved, taking some of the pressure off and with it the anxiety of being good enough to receive their gifts. This is something I personally disagree with, by the way; I won’t deny them the treasures of the holidays. Rather, I will take away the extras they receive during non-holiday events, such as a favourite activity.

So you get through your day and it’s the night before. Excitement is at an all time high at bedtime because a special visitor is coming while they sleep, to leave gifts. You put them to bed praying that they won’t get up and catch you doing the deed. It’s even worse if the anxiety includes fear of the “beloved” character who is shoved down their throats sometimes month in advance of this one highly stressful night. What happens then? Right. I’ve been awake since 4am.

And so we go back to Alex’s fear of the dreaded bunny etc., and that’s the one I haven’t figured out what to do with. Alex’s anxiety isn’t, I’m sure, unique to only him. It keeps him awake at night, which is something even we adults can relate to.

I’d love to hear any suggestions you have in the comments. For the rest, I hope you can take something from this: I hope it helps.



If I Just Had… Stream of Consciousness Saturday (Just)

I hear people say all the time, “If I just had,” this or that, then I’d be happy. Today, if I just had a moment without stress I’d be able to think about what I want to write! That’s what SoCS is for though, right? Just start writing and publish whatever comes out.

So I’m sitting here with my laptop on my lap, on the couch, while my mother tries to avoid Alex, who is bound and determined to terrorize her in any way he can.

Stress doesn’t even cover it. Doesn’t begin.

I hate whining though. Whenever I get on here and I write a blog post that sounds like I’m complaining, I delete it. But I can’t do that today. So here, you see a rare blog post from me where I’m actually bitching about things going on in my life. It’s like spotting a rare bird in a tree. Quick! Take a picture!

That happened to me the other day, actually. I heard the cardinal before I found it – I wouldn’t have been looking for it otherwise. It sat singing at the top of a tall tree, brilliantly red. I got my camera out of  my pocket to take a picture, not sure I could zoom in enough to get the shot, but it flew away as I was pushing the zoom button. So, you don’t have a picture of that not-so-rare bird.

Things are quiet. This is the stupidest post I’ve ever written. I need to do my laundry.


This post is part of SoCS:

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Q is for … Quagmire

One of the best and the worst things in writing fiction is to get your characters into a situation that’s difficult to get out of. It  creates a quagmire not only for them, but for you, the author. There’s nothing quite like the moment when you figure out how to release them from an impossible situation. There’s nothing better for your readers than not being able to figure out where the story is going. It makes them want to keep reading. It’s the goal of the author to create such an irresistible environment.

But what if you’ve put your characters into a place that’s so boggy that the only way to get them out is for something convenient to happen? They’re adrift at sea and the sharks are circling… oh look! It’s a helicopter! That sort of thing just doesn’t fly (pardon) with most readers.

Do you keep trying to come up with a way out? Or do you start again, and put them into an easier situation? Personally I hate giving up on these sorts of difficulties. Because the solution, when it comes to me, is one of the best feelings in the world.



For your convenience, a quick link to see how the problems are adding up in my A-Z fiction, here:


The Friday Reminder and Prompt for SoCS April 19/14

I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Good Friday and present you with this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. According to Wikipedia, “Stream-of-consciousness writing is usually regarded as a special form of interior monologue and is characterized by associative leaps in thought and lack of punctuation.” While you might want to hang on to your punctuation, (you can even add more if you’d like) the great part of this literary form is not having to stick to the subject or, like with an essay, come to a conclusion on your initial statement. Just go with the flow!

This week, the prompt is “Just.” Take whichever definition of the word you’d like to and run with it.

After you’ve written your Saturday post tomorrow, please link it here at the prompt page in the comments so others can find it and see your awesome Stream of Consciousness post!

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” or “Begin with the word ‘The’.”

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people will come and read your post! The way to ping back, is to just copy and paste the URL of my post somewhere on your post. Then your URL will show up in my comments, for everyone to see. For example, in your post you can copy and paste the following: “This post is part of SoCS:” The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. Have fun!


P is for … Predictability

The subtle art of foreshadowing takes skill – some may say great skill – for if it’s done without, a work of fiction can be fatally predictable. After all, who wants to read or watch something when it’s painfully obvious exactly how the story will conclude?

For me, there’s nothing better than a story with a twist. Being strung along to believe one thing to find out that what I thought was true never was is part of the art of foreshadowing. It can be done well (The Sixth Sense) in which case the foreshadowing was so subtle as to not be there, or it can be done wrong. Maybe you can come up with a good example. They tend to be the most forgettable stories out there.

I’m hoping to get some kind of twist out of the fiction A-Z story I’m writing alongside this. If you’re reading it, I hope you’ll stick around to the end to let me know how I did. In the meantime, I’m looking for any accidental foreshadowing that already exists, since I had no idea where the story was going as I began it. I think I have an idea now.

How much predictability is too much for you? I’m wondering if there’s anyone out there who likes to know the end before they get there.

A bit of a twist, for you:


O is for … Openness

Do you ever wonder how much you’re giving away of yourself when you write? Details of a writer’s psyche must show through, since all we really have to draw from are our experiences and our emotions. Our backgrounds: our genetics, our nature and how we were nurtured as children make up who we are, and are inherent in everything we do. Whether a writer of fiction, personal accounts, poetry… what creates our literary “voices” is our individuality.

I worry–not as much now as I used to–how much personal information I’m putting out there, whether intentionally or not. I worry that my kids will read what I write and be embarrassed or scarred – who wants to read their mother’s love scenes after all? How do they know how much of it comes from my imagination and how much from experience? I certainly won’t hand my own mother my novel and say, here, enjoy it. But then she judges me more harshly than anyone on the planet.

Of course, not everything we write comes from experience. I often say that if Stephen King did, he’d long be imprisoned. It’s not as though he goes around killing people, or feels the pain of being hit by a car. … oh wait, never mind. I watched a Youtube video the other day, in which he spoke to a room full of students about his process in writing, among other things. He said that one of the questions he is asked most often is what his childhood was like – what kind of trauma he went through in order to write the things he does. He said there was absolutely nothing… but if there was, he wouldn’t tell.

For myself, I went through an obsession with death after my father passed away suddenly. Not surprising since I was only fourteen years old. Is it why I write horror on occasion? I’m not sure. It was certainly the only traumatic thing I went through as a child. Yet paternal abandonment, in whatever form, shows up in every major work I’ve written to date. It took four novels before I realised it.

This is what I am open about. What about the stuff I’d rather not be? I ask again: do you ever wonder how much of yourself you’re giving away when you write? Is there anyone in your life you’d rather never read your work – or are you careful just in case they do?

Illustrated in light erotica, on my fiction blog here:


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