The Intersection of Toddler Mom, NaNoWriMo, and Moving is Exhaustion

I’m exhausted. I don’t think I can hang on for 10 more days. Actually, I’m surprised I made it this far.

Going into November, I knew it was going to be tough. We’re moving at the end of the month and I had decided to do NaNo all while raising 2 toddlers. Even though I had it all planned out, life still happens and I didn’t count on plain exhaustion setting in.

Packing with a 4 year old and 18 month old isn’t fun. There are constant pleas of “play with me” and the cries of a little girl who only wants to be held. I’ve been lucky to get a box or two packed a day, but, considering we move in less than 2 weeks, that pace is not going to cut it. Our home is a mess and there are boxes everywhere. It’s a little stressful.

But my 4 year old really has been an angel. He’s learning to keep himself occupied, or he just jumps on my bed. I always make sure there are pockets of time where we must play, but he’s really been pretty amazing.

Then there’s his 1.5 year old sister. She’s like cling wrap, the way you wish it would work. If I’m not holding her, I absolutely must remain in her line of sight, otherwise the shrieking starts. But I also think she’s going through a sleep regression or teething. Or, more likely, both. I’m lucky to get 4 hours of broken sleep at night, and then I spend half the day telling her I am not a chew toy. Though it would explain her obsession with frozen waffles…

But the hardest part is how tired and fussy she is all day. I’ve mastered packing with one hand and can practically sense when she’s going to go pull everything out of the trash bags.

I had thought naptime and bedtime were going to be my pockets of blissful writing time. I would have their 2 hour naptime to just write. I could easily bang out those 1667 words. No problem.

And it’s not a problem. I can do about 2000. But I’m a plotter and decided to go the pantser route. It’s been interesting and fun, but I’m getting frustrated. I know the general direction and how it ends and I have a good idea of what I want to happen in the middle, but it’s soooo slow. I feel like the pacing is too slow and there’s too much talking. I’m enjoying the world building, but everything else is getting on my nerves. I’m at over 35,000 words and just now getting to a quarter of the way through.

Or, you know, I’m just an exhausted mom trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days while cramming our whole lives into white boxes.

So, packing must get done. The children must be cared for. I absolutely do not need to do 50,000 words. So, I’m not. If I do, great, but, from here on out, I’m going to try just writing every other day instead of every day for however long it takes me to either finish or thoroughly hate this version (likely not too much longer). Maybe I’ll finally get the hang of this story in another 20 years.

And there you have it. The intersection of a mom of two toddlers trying to pack up and write 50,000 words in one month is just plain exhaustion. Remind me to never repeat this experience again.


Happy Halloween!

I’m not a fan of autumn. Halloween is not a favorite holiday. But over 10 years ago I wrote this poem on a pumpkin.

A Halloween Nightmare

You’re one step away from the doorstep.
You take that step and suddenly—
You’re in a dark, forbidding forest.
Branches wave in the frigid wind.
They look like fingers reaching—
Reaching to tear life from you.
It grows darker and colder.
The forest is lit by only the white moon.
A high, sharp cackle fills the air.
You shiver and turn about.
Where am I, you wonder.
An eerie silence falls.
Then a howl breaks that silence.
A shriek fills the air to your right.
You turn and see bats flying up.
A drop like rain hits your face.
You wipe it off.
A drop of scarlet blood.
You scream…
And awaken from the nightmare.
Please proceed to…
Welcome, human.
Kindly Enter.

Over 10 years ago, I didn’t care for Halloween. Reading this poem now, I’m not sure I actually understand it. But this year I’m dressing up 2 toddlers as Link and Rapunzel and taking them to their third Halloween event. What about you?

Help…drowning in candy and cavities…

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Gates to Asphodel Wrap-Up and NaNoWriMo 2018

I’ve spent months posting each chapter of Gates to Asphodel. Now that the last chapter has been posted, it feels strange to not have that one ready-made post, the one post each week I didn’t have to put too much thought into. I have another story I don’t intend on publishing that I do intend on posting here, but sometime next year since the end of this year is rapidly approaching and I’m planning on taking 3-4 weeks off.

But before the end of the year comes, there’s National Novel Writing Month next month.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it for years. At first, I loved it because, being so busy with school, it made it easy to just steal some time for writing. It helped get the creative juices flowing, too, which was lovely. But then I started hating the fact that I called myself a writer and I was pretty much only writing during November or whenever Camp NaNo was scheduled. So, I stopped participating. I’ve written since, but not much now that I’m the primary caregiver to two toddlers. This year, I decided to change that.

I might be a little crazy, but I decided to do NaNo this year. Not only am I still the mother of two toddlers, but there are a lot of things brewing over here, plenty of uncertainty, and a couple of things festering in my mind that I absolutely intend on acting on. So, I might be a little crazy thinking I can write at least 50,000 words next month. But nothing will ever get done unless I just commit.

It’s hard to believe, but I actually wrote Gates to Asphodel during NaNo in 2011. Which, now that I think of it, was a little nuts because I had just started grad school two months before and my first practicum placement one month before. Yet I still managed to write the whole entire thing. Yikes. It’s been doing little more than sit for about 7 years. Other than the light edits I’ve done as I’ve been posting each chapter, it’s never been edited.

Over the years since then, and definitely pre-kids, I participated in NaNo and Camp NaNo. I loved the feeling of writing and getting a story pounded out, but hated doing it just during a select few months. But now I need it. I need something to give me that swift kick to just start. Even though I wrote a post during the first real run of this blog about why I never wanted to participate again, here I am, years later, doing just that. Because I now need what it offers.

Before, I used to be an absolutely plotter. I refused to write something that I hadn’t fully planned out. This time, I’m a total pantser. I just want to get the juices going. I don’t care if it’s good or if it makes sense. I only care that I actually do it.

I had a different story planned, but inspiration struck and I’ll finally return to a story I’ve been working on for almost 20 years (more about it in a later post).

The Runaway Queen: Cass doesn’t want to be queen, so she runs away and leaves her twin to take her place.

Which brings me to a what comes next for this blog paragraph.

I need to commit to writing. I also need some accountability. And I have a blog that’s my space for whatever I want. Which makes me glad I never went further with the branding and trying to monetize. Whew! Anyways. November will be heavy on the writing (meaning I’ll be posting as I write so we get to discover what happens to the twins together!), moderate with the book reviews (because I’ve got some NetGalley books that need to be read and I don’t intend on going light on the reading next month), and light on the motherhood posts (though you can probably expect more than usual in December). So if you come for the motherhood/how I live with two kids posts, feel free to forget about The Lily Cafe during November, but please remember in December to check in.

And that’s the state of this blog. Gosh, how could I have let Gates to Asphodel languish for 7 long years?

It's not always writer's block. Sometimes it's just a writing slump

That Writing Slump

It's not always writer's block. Sometimes it's just a writing slump

As a reader, I’m all too familiar with the reading slump. As a writer, I think I’ve experienced several writing slumps over the years, but passed it off as not being able to justify being on the computer instead of studying/working/raising kids or just plain writer’s block. Currently, I am not a student, not working yet, and have settled into a routine with 2 toddlers that gives me enough time to write.

But I can’t.

I think, for the first time, I have to admit I’m in a writing slump.

And, no, it’s not writer’s block, where a writer is stuck with a work or just can’t figure out what to write next. I don’t have the inability to produce anything. I have. Recently. Like two nights ago. I’m not stuck. I’m not blocked. I want to write so badly, but I can’t. I just can’t. Just like a reading slump when I just can’t bring myself to read.


This writing slump is affecting my blogging. I want to write. I have lists of ideas that excite me. Every day when the kids are asleep, I think this is my time to write. I’m itching to write.

Then the time comes. And I just can’t. It’s not even because something else is pulling at my mind. I just can’t make myself write.

The crazy thing is I have blog posts fully written and edited. They’re ready to go. A minute to get them posted and then I can dust off my hands and say all done. And they’re good posts. They’re posts I’m pleased with and want to share. But I just can’t.

Then there’s the commenting. I’m an introvert, but I love commenting. At the beginning of the year, I was definitely going overboard and had to curb my itchy fingers. Today, there are so many posts I want to comment on, but, again, I just can’t. Or I take 2 days to actually leave the comment that’s been bouncing around in my head.

And I can’t forget all the lovely comments I’m honored to receive! Every day, I set out to respond. Most days I just can’t. I open up my notifications, prepare to respond, but my fingers won’t cooperate. Two to three days later, I finally get them moving.

I want to write! I want to blog! But I just can’t.

Creative Writing

I’m a writer at heart. I love unraveling my own stories and immersing myself into the worlds that exist in my head. My first love is fantasy, followed by general fiction. But I’ll dabble in sci-fi and badly attempt a mystery. There’s always someone waiting patiently, or not so patiently, in my head, just waiting for me to turn to him or her and say, “Your turn.”

Actually, I’ve been working on a story that I hope to share here soon. Some of it is sitting in drafts and all I have to do is schedule them.

But I have a hard time getting myself going. I have scenes written in my head. I know the exact words I want to use. I edit before I actually write it. All I have to do is get my fingers moving. But whenever I get a chance, whenever the kids are asleep and quiet, I just can’t bring myself to write. Instead, I daydream. I let the stories unfold in my mind and tell myself I’ll write it down later.

Later, I’m still waiting for you to arrive.

It’s not a block. I’m not blocked.

It’s like a reading slump. I pick up a story, one I’m really interested in, and then close the document.

I can write. I have ideas. I’m actually doing some writing here and there. I’m producing content and writing a story. There’s nothing stopping me from writing.

I just don’t want to write.

I’m in a writing slump.

Now excuse me while I go and try to climb up this hill. Or at least figure out why I don’t want to write. If I’m lucky I’ll have posts on Monday and Friday, with the next chapter of Gates to Asphodel, as always, on Wednesday.

You know what? Maybe I need daily themes again, like mother Mondays and bookish Thursdays. Without that early schedule, even though I often stressed about getting content written, I do and don’t know what I’m writing and posting. Maybe that will get my blogging back in track. As for my creative writing, maybe I should go ahead and vomit out those stupid short stories that keep waving their hands like the overly eager student the teacher simultaneously loves and hates.

Okay, fairies, come out and play! Well, actually, there’s just one. Maybe one day you’ll meet her. At the moment, she just keeps running down a street, in the pouring rain, screaming, “Thomas! Thomas!”

There’s a Story Dedicated to Me!

One of my favorite things about blogging is coming into contact with some amazing people. Amazing, wonderful, creative people. As a writer, I enjoy writers’ blogs and find as many as I csn, especially fantasy.

Well, one of my new favorite fantasy writers is Kaiya Hart over at Darkwood. When she first started, she hooked me with her writings about forests. Now she does these Daily Riffs (head on over here for today’s) that often have my head exploding, screaming, or dreaming. Or all 3. I’m going to tell you now that you, whether you’re a writer or not, should go and check them out and follow so you don’t miss out on these amazing pieces.

Earlier this month, she has this Daily Riff that made me think of Alice in Wonderland. What does it make you think of? Anyways, she’s now writing a story based on it. It’s beautiful and twists fairy tales together and you just really need to go and see it here! And I am so blessed and honored to have it dedicated to me. That such a lovely and talented writer would do this astounds me. Thank you for the dedication and lovely story that I can’t wait to read more of!

So go take a read! And be sure to follow for more Daily Riffs! And to read her many other terrific stories!

31 Things About Gates to Asphodel and Raven

During the original run of this blog, I had started posting these two stories. And never finished. They have continued to sit and languish and, even though I know exactly how it ends, Raven is still unfinished. Gates to Asphodel is, fortunately, a complete story.

Lately, I have been thinking about my journey as a writer and what I most want to see published. There’s one that I’ve been working on since I was 12 that I want more than anything to publish, but I don’t think my current writing skills can quite match my vision for that one.

But I have these two finished (mostly) stories. I toyed with self-publication, but have decided they are really just stepping stones on my journey. I have decided that they aren’t really what I want published, though I can’t say I love them any less. I hope they can find an audience here. I plan to post both, starting with Gates to Asphodel, chapter by chapter. They’ll be long reads, but I plan to keep updating Writing Wednesdays as each chapter is posted for whenever a reader has the time.


Gates to Asphodel 

  1. This story was born from my love of Greek mythology.
  2. The story of Hades and Persephone is my favorite, but this isn’t a retelling of any kind.
  3. My villian isn’t clear, and wasn’t meant to be.
  4. Some scenes turned out more gruesome than I intended.
  5. There is magic, but not until halfway through.
  6. I have no idea how to do a police procedural story and this reflects it.
  7. It was written well before my son was born, when I had time for NaNoWriMo.
  8. I always envisioned a golden gate on the cover.
  9. The characters have not entirely subtle nods to the names of the Greek gods they are meant to be.
  10. I hope I haven’t angered Hera with what I’ve done with Zeus.
  11. Persephone starts out as a four-year-old and I tried to make her simultaneously childlike and unchildlike.
  12. I had no real plan for where this was going when I first started writing so the last fourth was kind of a half-planned surprise.
  13. You’ll see I have some POV problems, but that’s how I wanted the story told.
  14. It’s sort of half edited…
  15. There are some things in this story that I just can’t explain.


  1. This was a Camp NaNo story that exceeded 50000, and that’s probably why I never finished. I got to 50000 and then just…stopped.
  2. I have a hand drawn map of the city.
  3. Every street has a name.
  4. The map was originally for another story.
  5. I didn’t know Raven had a lover until he was killed.
  6. There’s a Romeo and Juliet kind of story, but with two best friends instead of lovers.
  7. A kind of religion plays a part.
  8. Where the writings on the wall that start each chapter is is revealed at the very end (I should actually write the end…)
  9. I’ve been trying to think of a new title for this one.
  10. You get Raven’s backstory in the writings on the wall.
  11. Literally no clue where this story came from…
  12. I like to think this one is more edited than Gates to Asphodel, but probably isn’t.
  13. I discovered too late my subplot needed more space and found I had none! Bad planning.
  14. I actually kind of worked from an outline.
  15. The ending bothers me because I envision this as a single story, but the end begs for a sequel.
  16. There is no magic in this one.

So…look for the first chapter of Gates to Asphodel next week!

The Letter, A Short Story

Back in 2013, I stumbled upon a wonderful blog full of choose your own adventure stories. Jennifer M. Zeiger really hooked me! Today I am so honored and humbled to have a short story, The Letter, featured on her blog. Be sure to check it out and spend some time exploring her blog and stories. Oh, and she wrote a fabulous book, The Adventure, which you can find out more about here.

Thank you so much, Jennifer!

P.S. Make sure to return to her blog next week for the start of a new adventure!