Miss Murder Asks For Help…And It’s AWESOME.

It’s perfectly fine to ask for help…unless you’re me, that is. Or, I suspect, you. If your mother, spouse, friend, or sibling needed help, wouldn’t you leap to give it? Wouldn’t you stretch out your hand instantly? And sometimes you don’t know they need help unless they ask. Why don’t they just ASK?

Because it’s hard. Because we live in this crazy society where we feel like we have to do everything, and do it perfectly, and do it alone.

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On the front porch with Marsh at 3 AM

This isn’t how societies work. This isn’t how the human animal works. Once we lived in villages and helping each other meant surviving. We didn’t hunt, gather, or parent alone. What suddenly makes us think that we have somehow evolved to do that now, especially when things are more complicated than ever?

We’re weary. We’re taught that busy is better. I know very few people who actually enjoy their lives, and many simply try to survive it.

This is me on a typical day: Get three kiddos to school. Arrange/attend appointments. Keep up with friends, “maintain a presence,” volunteer for my church and community. I try to write/read/blurb/clean/feed the pets/feed the family/feed my soul. And it isn’t working.

The house has fallen. Six hours of volunteering for church a week leaves me exhausted. My writing is stalling and I feel like an imposter who can’t do anything very well.

Help.

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Baking Banana Bread at 4:00 AM

I tried to ask it. If only people would do more around the house, or follow through their commitments at work, or listen to me when I say no the first time instead of trying to wear me down to a yes. But I’m not good at asking for help. It means I’m not pulling my weight. It means I’m not doing my best, and that means I need to try harder.

Then I ran across an awesome deal on housecleaning. You heard me. Housecleaning.

How many times have you thought, “If I were rich, I’d pay someone to clean my house!” I thought that, too. It would be a glorious thing.  But it’s something only rich, busy people do. Not people with stay-at-home careers, like me.

Except it is. My husband thought it was a great idea and encouraged me to try it. We hired them to come, and they came today.

It. Was. Awesome.

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My super shiny kitchen! I just made banana bread there a few hours ago!

Picture this: I had just gotten over either the flu or a diabetic thing, I can’t be sure. But I was weak. Thanks to anxiety about life, I had only slept an hour and a half the night before, from 5:30 am until 7:00 am. (Note exhibit A and B, with the cat and banana bread, all at weird hours of the night.) All three kids had been home for spring break, satelliting around me like drunk fireflies. I’m on a tight writing deadline. I’m pretty rachet.

So I open the door and there are three smiling women. They ask me to prioritize what I’d like them to work on. They are impossibly kind to my children. They are very patient with my son.

They are my backup. They’ve got me, boo.

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The microwave is so shiny that I’m not even ashamed when the door falls off!

These women have my back. They start on the bathrooms and I tackle the kids’ rooms. They move to the kitchen while I knock out the laundry. Four people working in tandem is a beautiful thing. And when the dust (quite literally) clears, I have my home back. I’m happy, they’re happy, and I feel a huge sense of relief.

It felt good. I feel like I gained some emotional balance. I think I’ll have them back every six months or so for a good deep clean that feels like it touched my soul as well as my walls. It took two hours for this, and that was all. Two hours. I spent more time than that on the front porch last night, petting cats and looking at Pinterest like a goon.

It was worth it.

“Help” isn’t a long word, but it’s certainly a difficult one to say. But, oh, am I glad I said it. My husband didn’t laugh. My friends didn’t laugh. My mother didn’t point at the dirty laundry and tsk. They were supportive, and it turns out the only one judging me harshly was myself.

Have a lovely day, my friends!

Writers on Writing Omnibus for 99 Cents!

Writers on Writing Volume 1 - 4 Omnibus: An Author's Guide by [Mynhardt, Joe, Ketchum, Jack, Hodge, Brian, Waggoner, Tim, Burke, Kealan Patrick, Janz, Jonathan, Wytovich, Stephanie M., Yardley, Mercedes M., Bark, Jasper, Lucia, Kevin, Kenneth W. Cain]
Massive 99c Kindle promo from Crystal Lake Publishing (all part of celebrating our 50th release at the end of this month)!

Learn the craft of writing from those who know it best.

This is the Writers on Writing Vol.1 – 4 Omnibus – An Author’s Guide where your favorite authors share their ultimate secrets in becoming and being an author.

Includes:
The Infrastructure of the Gods by Brian Hodge
The Writer’s Purgatory by Monique-Cherie Oberholzer (Snyman)
Why Rejection is Still Important by Kevin Lucia
Real Writers Steal Time by Mercedes Murdock Yardley
What Right Do I Have to Write by Jasper Bark
Go Pace Yourself by Jack Ketchum
A Little Infusion of Magic by Dave de Burgh
Confronting Your Fears in Fiction by Todd Keisling
Once More with Feeling by Tim Waggoner
Embracing Your Inner Shitness by James Everington
The Forgotten Art of Short Story by Mark Allan Gunnells
Adventures in Teaching Creative Writing by Lucy A. Snyder
Submit (to psychology) for Acceptance by Daniel I Russell
Character Building by Theresa Derwin
Heroes and Villains by Paul Kane
Do Your Worst by Jonathan Winn
Creating Effective Characters by Hal Bodner
Fictional Emotions; Emotional Fictions by James Everington
Home Sweet Home by Ben Eads
You by Kealan Patrick Burke
The art of becoming a book reviewer by Nerine Dorman
Treating Fiction like a Relationship by Jonathan Janz
How to Write Killer Poetry by Stephanie M. Wytovich
Happy Little Trees by Michael Knost
In Lieu of Patience Bring Diversity by Kenneth W. Cain
Networking is Scary, but Essential by Doug Murano
Are You In The Mood? by Sheldon Higdon
What if Every Novel is a Horror Novel? by Steve Diamond
Description by Patrick Freivald
A First-Time Novelist’s Odyssey by (William) Bill Gorman
I Am Setting by J.S. JS Breukelaar
Finding Your Voice by Lynda E. Rucker

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A Very Crappy Tuesday: The Universe Has It In For Miss Murder

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They say Tuesday’s child is full of grace. Apparently that isn’t so!

This morning was off to a rousing start when I slept through my alarm. Oldest had decided to go traipsing around outside in bare feet, scaring me and the neighbors. I got him settled, the power inexplicably went off (why?),and then I managed to get Middlest to her early morning honor choir. We rushed back, I got Oldest onto his bus, and then took Littlest BACK to the school for kindergarten.  I was already tired and it wasn’t 9 am yet.

Did I mention that my phone is tripping? It called my husband twice and my best friend once. It wasn’t in my purse or pocket, but sitting on the table, untouched, both times. With that, the power, and the car seat electronically adjusting itself back and forth all day without being touched, I’ve decided I have an electrical gremlin causing havoc.

Niko’s favorite blanket was left in the motel eight hours away, so I promised to replace it. I get to the store, buy my things, and come back to find that somebody has parked so close behind me that I could barely open my trunk and I didn’t have room to stand behind it to load stuff. Because of this, I was loading things awkwardly from the side, hurt my shoulder, and dropped a piece of heavy furniture on my hand. Man. That hurt. Extra points for not starting the offending car on fire for parking far too close. I think I would have been justified. When I went to hop into the car, the seat had adjusted itself so far forward that there was no way I was getting in there. Stupid gremlins.

Came home to ice my hand, which was throbbing and swelling. While carrying a glass jar I just bought, I tripped over Taco Truck (one of our two stray cats), dropped the jar, and then stepped on the glass with bare feet. I left bloody footprints as I limped off to take care of my foot, which was awesome because I still had difficulty with one hand and shoulder. But my Star Wars Band-Aids are AWESOME.

Honestly, at this point I wanted to hide in my room and never come out again, but it was time for me to pick up the three kiddos and get to gettin’. Also, I have a short story and a revision to turn in this week. And a church thing tonight where we’ll be in charge of running and jumping children. Also, my husband is out of town on a business trip and I’m holding down the fort, alone and wounded.

I’m grateful that I’ve taken some Tylenol and I have enough distance from it to realize that it’s funny.  If I was watching a movie, I’d point at the screen and yell out, “Stay in bed, you poor sap! The universe is out to kill you!”

The universe may kill me yet. We’ll see. But at least I tried, and I’d give myself a hearty high five for that except that it would hurt far too much. 😛

Free Las Vegas Reading Series Tonight!

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You guys! This will be so much fun! The Writer’s Block is sponsoring EXPO, which is a reader’s series featuring five Las Vegas authors who will read five minutes of their work. I’m delighted to participate in tonight’s reading alongside Dayvid Figler, Kayla Miller, P Moss, and Amanda Skenandore. The event is free and you don’t have to RSVP. Just pop on by and say hi!

Friday, March 10, 2017

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

The Writer’s Block

1020 Fremont Street

Las Vegas, NV, 89101

 

 

Miss Murder’s Easy Finnish Cake Recipe

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Boys and Girls, today I am going to impart the wisdom that Sister Kaameriinaan taught me in Finland! (Yes, I’m nostalgic for Finland. We lived there briefly ten years ago.) She invited Niko and I over for a day of baking and drinking Pepsi Light in order to keep us out of Luke’s hair while he studied for his finals.
STEP ONE:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take three identical drinking glasses and fill the first one with six eggs. Next, fill the second glass with flour, up to the same level as the eggs. And fill the third glass with sugar, also to the same level as the eggs and flour. Got that? Three equal parts eggs, flour, and sugar.
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STEP TWO: Now toss one teaspoon of baking powder in with the flour, and mix the eggs, flour, sugar, and baking powder in a bowl. If you’re really doing this the Finnish way, you’d use your hands instead of a spoon, but whatever floats your boat.
STEP THREE: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. That is VERY important, otherwise this whole experiment is all for naught! Then pour the batter onto the baking sheet. Use a spatula and spread it so that it fills the entire sheet. Yeah, I didn’t do that, and paid dearly, so heed my words, O children. Bake it for anywhere from 7 to 20 minutes, peeking in on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. It’ll cook quickly, because it’s so thin.
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STEP FOUR: (Also Picture 2) Hooray, it’s cooked! Pull it out, let it cool for a bit, and then slather the entire top of the cake with something sweet. What, you ask? Who knows?! Hence the adventure! I used orange marmalade, because I’m nuts about the stuff, but you can use any type of jam, or chocolate syrup, whipped cream or crushed nuts…you get the picture. Knock yourself out!
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STEP FIVE:  Carefully (carefully carefully!) peel the cake off of the paper as you go, and roll it up into a tube. Make sure it’s cool enough that the cake doesn’t just fall apart, but not so cool that it becomes a permanent part of the parchment paper.
STEP SIX: Decorate! This is the fun part! I used whipped cream as frosting, but you can use real frosting, or anything else that you want! Frost it, don’t frost it, use sprinkles or again, chocolate syrup or edible flowers…after the whipped cream, I grate some chocolate on top or sprinkle on some cocoa powder.
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This cake is totally a freezer cake, so you can toss it in there and forget about it until you’re ready to wow company. Or the spouse. Or the UPS man, bless his brown-shorts-covered soul. It’s also pretty when you slice it, and that’s very important. Because pretty things make the world go round.

Miss Murder Takes a Holiday

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My husband gifted me with a night’s stay at the hotel a mile from our house. So I was close enough I could be accessible if the house burned down or the kiddo’s heads exploded, but I was otherwise off limits.

I wrote on the balcony. I laughed at 20 minutes of vintage South Park (Drugs are bad, m’kay) until I realized with horror that I was wasting time. I took a long, hot bubble bath, and then crawled into nice, clean sheets that I didn’t have to wash. It was such a wonderful, wonderful night.

Gamut BOGO Promo!

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Chocolates for Valentine’s Day is awesome, but chocolate AND great literature? Even better! For the month of February, Gamut Magazine is doing a special Buy One, Get One event. For every subscription you buy, you’ll receive a second subscription to give to someone you love. Gamut pays ten cents a word for our acquired work and you’ll find fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Help support a magazine that supports authors. You can find that great deal here.