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On The Couch: Mystery Monday #3

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Today was a day from hell.

It started with one of my kids’ continued refusal of chores which shall hereto be known as “The 24-hour/Sit on the Couch/ My Mother is a Horrible Human Being/Laundry Boycott/Summer 2017 Manifesto.”

Other than informing said child they had until 5 p.m. to either get necessary work done or I would be throwing out their clothes myself… and if they still did not do them by tomorrow I would be disassembling their bed so I could have a room to myself (oh and I might also be giving the dog away in a week since I can’t handle undone dog poo on top of undone laundry) I  remained very very VERY calm.

Minus the screaming match with my spouse in the kitchen.

Which turned into me driving to Hollywood to meet a friend… alone.

Note: Child’s sibling didn’t want to go with me to Hollywood because they needed “More than a day’s notice” which was just as fine with me. (Rabbit trail: Finding out I was pregnant with them unexpectedly thanks to a leftover 99 Cent Store pee stick didn’t exactly give me very much notice one surprising summer…. but I digress.)

Guilt about leaving my children with nothing to do on a Monday faded into the Malibu sunset when I reasoned they could find lunch within the couch cushions that my one child remain prostate on. (Lord knows there was plenty of carbs, half eaten granola bars and crackers left with the chores not done.)

After a long ride to Hollywood where I ruminated on everything from my ineffective parenting, 17 years of marriage and the fact that L.A. drivers maneuver the roads like drunks on doobage, my friend never ended up being able to meet me because the parking was so bad.

Which resulted in me driving through traffic back towards home.

Except I didn’t want to go home what with the boycotting and the overall hating of me.

So I drove to my old stomping grounds for tacos instead.

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(It’s pretty impossible to be in a bad mood with surfers, homeless people, Hollywood writers and happy lights.)

A full and very happy belly later I walked across the street to the beach.

This move worked out smashingly if I do so myself, for when I sat in the sand, I looked up to my left and there I saw an incredible rainbow in the sky. (Look closely at photo on top of page!)

Odd or God?

I’m sure it was just that time of day….the way the sun hit the clouds at just the right moment… but the closest I’d seen to a rainbow in these here parts was the West Hollywood Halloween Parade. I’m just going to assume that my higher power put it there to remind me that there is hope.

That I am never alone.

That end even in times of darkness where I don’t know what to do there’s color, beauty, joy and radiance that transcends my understanding. For that, I’m so grateful.

The Takeaway (Besides leftover fish tacos?)

Sometimes the only thing to do is nothing. It is there, with that beautiful empty space, that I can move out of the way and let God make His magic.

PS: Big thanks to Tuscany who afforded a generous ear to the play-by-play drama which is my life with teenagers.

Thanks also to Valerie Coulman, a generous writer and friend who I met at the Southern California Christian Women’s Conference. While I stuffed my face with extra fries we laughed and prayed together and realize just how strong we are – especially when we don’t take ourselves so seriously.

Leave a Comment

Let me know about anything cool that happened to you this Monday. Let’s connect!

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Writing Wednesday – #2 – 30 Minutes/Day Is All You Need

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If you’re like me, you have a LOT of things going on.

  • Day job
  • Maybe some freelance jobs
  • Kids/Friends/Spouse
  • The Windows… They are so smudgy…Is that grime in the shape of unicorn riding a squirrel?—FOCUS!

It can be hard to find time to do the writing you really want to do – the heart project that makes you sing. The one you know can actually get you OUT of your day job down the road.

Undisciplined? Hey, I Resemble That Remark!

I hemmed and hawed over “no time” and “too much going on with the kids” for years, and it finally became crystal clear to me that the guilt and frustration in my soul of not doing it far outweighed the inconvenience of actually doing it.

And so, now, I’m doing it.

And the kids still love me.

In fact, they are seeing a far happier mother.

And it that feels amazing.

And you can do it, too. Kids or no kids, spouse or no spouse, dirty windows full of mystical riding rodents or not.

Here’s how.

10 Tips For Writing 5 Days/Week – No Matter What

  1. Put it on the Calendar: Every day, put that one heart project on the calendar. My motto is “I build my busy time around my writing and not the other way around.” NOTE: Mothering is not busy time. Attending to my children’s needs is not busy time. Organizing their closets while screaming at them to not make “Street Urchin” a career because I’m procrastinating about what I really need to be doing? That’s busy time.
  2. Keep it Short: 30 minutes from start to finish is all you need. If you are like me and need some wind up, schedule in a bit more time, but know that 30 is all you need to really write.
  3. Let your Family Know: Let your unending pit of needs from everyone in the universe sweet family and friends ones know when you are going to write and be clear about it. (Tip: This might take a few weeks to get running. Expect that. You might be like me – used to being there at the drop of a hat. That has to change. The kids won’t die if you aren’t there to solve the mystery of where the last juice box went and whose it really belongs to. In fact, if they can’t solve it on their own – peacefully – they don’t need it.)
  4. Dedicate Space: For me, it’s my Clowfice (Closet/Office)

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Or the Shirage. (Combo of She Shed and Garage)

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It’s not fancy but my ego is not my amigo. Until I get my swanky studio, I’ll make due with what I can. Some of you lucky ducks actually have a real office. If you happen to live locally to me, don’t be shocked to see a six foot wacky writer at your door. Confused? Refer to #5:

5. Have an Alternate Space: Can’t work at home? Join the club. Find a friend’s house, a coffee shop, the library or even the car. Any place that you can work outside your home if being in your home will turn you into a crazy person.

6. Have a Mentor: For me, this is a fellow writing friend who is kicking my butt. She stays at home full-time and makes as much writing as I do working at a school. (Maybe more? None of my business. In fact, she’s not even my official mentor, but I study her business model and find her counsel wise. Plus she talks to me without wanting to throw up, so that’s a plus. ) I value her because this saint is not hiring me to work for her, nor is she living with me. Her only concern is my heart, what I want to do, and making sure I’m not more lazy than Stink and my dog whose whose current summer schedule includes sleeping until 12PM which, frankly, works for me. More time to write!

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7. Task vs. Time: This one is HUGE for me. My A-Type personality used to freeeeeeaky freak out that I didn’t make allotted calendar time. My mentor gently reminded me to calm the blexxx! down and instead focus on getting what I need to accomplish that day. (She doesn’t say bleexx! She’s a good Christian devotional writer. I think nasty comments for her.) My point: apparently I can get my task done at a different time than anticipated. Who knew!? (Note: This means planning out my writing so I know what my task is! I know… organized! It’s crazy! And guess what! I still don’t do that! Work in progress!)

8. Get Inspired: Put something on the wall that speaks to your soul. For me it’s this handmade 8 x 10 canvas created by Lily (name changed) – a sweet friend from my private Tourettes support group, Twitch and Bitch.

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She created it for me about 3 years ago. It came at a time when I didn’t know what my purpose was. It reminds me that I am not the center of the universe and that writing is awesome, but only if it’s done to serve others. I am God’s kid, first. My talents are from Him. (Again, my ego is not my amigo and throws a tantrum about this daily. It’s fun watching the duel when I remember not to take myself too seriously.)

9. Turn Off Devices: Facebook? Cell phone? Twitter? Buh Bye. Enough said.

10. Turn Off Your Brain: This is often the hardest. For me, it’s saying a prayer before I start. It’s kind self-talk. “Andrea, you are worth this time to work on you.”

What Kind of Writing to Spend 30 Minutes On?

For me, this writing is not my freelance jobs or my blogging. This is my heart work.

  • My pilot
  • My musical outline
  • My new book idea.

Those 3 items above? They will easily take me a year at the rate I’m going. I’m sorry, but my kids are a priority. I work a day job. It’s the reality of my life.

The Schedule’s Affect on My Psyche

Sweet relief!

Why?

My dreams are not being forgotten.

My soul can come out and play again.

And so can yours.

So, what do you think of the list? Any suggestions?

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Writing Wednesday: Websites, Schedules and the reminder to JUST DO IT

The day before I left for Mt. Shasta I was supposed to be marketing for my husband’s business. As he sat to my left, back erect, hair as in place as the retirement account he’d love us to have, I sat at his right: tank top stained, gray hairs popping up, pretending to be actively finding new clients for his computer business, but instead, I was website hunting.

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For a writer like me, website hunting is like house hunting. It’s all about location location location. What’s the address? Will people be comfortable there? As much as I’d like a “fix it up myself” charmer, I’m not sure I can handle the creaks and leaks that come with a DIY space that involves website ads, video posts and more than a few pages with back splashes containing more than its share of kitsch meets damask. And pit bulls. I love those suckers.

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On my list of many things to do to move forward with my writing is brand it. That means a new site. Which, well, is scary, because that costs money. And time. And how will I get it done in between getting the kids off to camp (or worse, keeping them out of my hair while they are not at camp so I can write) and feeding the family (and feeding the pit bull) and OH MY GOSH THAT NEIGHBOR KID IS HERE AGAIN and the LAUNDRY… THE LAUNDRY… KILL ME NOW!

Get Over It, Andrea

After talking to a dear writer friend last week, as well as an agent from the Blythe Daniel Agency today, a few things have become crystal clear to me. In addition to a newer website, I need to be able to answer a few questions. Then, and only then, will I be able to jump off the rat’s wheel of working a day job and leave my smaller freelance article writing behind.  (Though bless you freelance gigs… you’re amazing and… note to self… update your freelance site, girl!)

If you want to join me in moving forward with your writing career, you’ll need to answer the same questions I am about to.

4 Questions to Answer to Write Full Time

  1. What do you want to focus on?
  2. How will you build your brand?
  3. How much time per week will you commit to it?
  4. Can you have fun doing it?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my main goal – in all of this – is to be present for my family. If I can’t have fun and stay connected to my kids, then all of this is in vain.

To quote my sweet friend, “You need to get disciplined. It’s the only way. JUST DO IT.”

And so I am. Here is how I broke down what I want and how I want to get there. Maybe you will have something similar?

My Dreams

  1. Make a full time income from writing

What Kind of Writing?

TV Writing & Books

How?

  • Finish pilot this summer
  • Outline next book this summer

When?

2 hours/day – Monday – Thursday (Friday is my off day to be with my babies!)

1 Saturday/month where hubby takes kids so I can write.

Branding?

Tweet, FB and blog 4x/week

Don’t Like Marketing Social Media?

Too bad. Just do it.

Reminder to Self Why I Must Market on Social Media (Even if I don’t want to)

To sell the books I’ll need an audience.

To get an audience, I’ll need content.

Once the content is created, I’ll need to put it out on social media so people can find me.

Then, and only then, will I have the opportunity to push my next book through a larger distribution channel such as a Harper Collins. (Full disclosure: I met an agent from Harper Collins at the Southern California Christian Writers Conference. She was connected, smart and brutally honest.

Her: “Your book sounds amazing.”

Me: “Thanks! (Stars in my eyes I know I’m going to make a million dollars thank God I spent 20 bucks in gas to get to this conference)

Her: “How many followers do you have on Twitter?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Her: “How many followers do you have on Facebook?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Her: “How many subscribers do you have on your blog?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Her: “Why should we bring you on board with us?”

Me: “I know. (Gulp of Reality) You shouldn’t.”

But What About Your Small Press?

Small presses are great, such as the one my book is already with at Armonia Publishing.

The downside of a small press? Less distribution.

The upside? More residuals.

The downside? Less distribution means less copies sold, so not a heck of a lot of money.

The upside: If I market my books like I’m supposed to – if I BRAND myself better – I’ll have a built in audience which means more books sell which means more money in my pocket.

OH MY GOD IT’S SO BORING

Reality sucks go back to drinking and live in your land of delusion. Having a plan may seem boring, but in reality, it’s liberating. I’m tired of waiting for my husband to make a fortune so I can sit and write and dream and create without the day job. Creating and writing happens within the laundry, the cooking, the doctor’s appointments, the day to day grind of work at a school combined with freelance and the very messy/unpredictable/when will it stop deal we call life.

How Do I Know the Above List Makes Sense?

The idea of it doesn’t make me sad. My brain might have told me last year, “Get a job teaching Special Ed! It’s predictable and you love the kids and it’s good pay!” But my soul screamed at me, “No! Don’t do it! Choose me! Be free! Do what God put you on the earth to do!”

And so I will.

And that makes me so incredibly happy. Because for the first time in a very long time, I’m putting me at the top of the to-do list.

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And you can, too. Are you ready to get organized to make your dreams happen? Tell me about your plan in the comments below.

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

 

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Happily Ticked Off is Changing…But Not. Join Me!

For those of you who are used to me writing just about Tourettes, don’t leave me! I’m going to be devoting every Tuesday to Tics. But, along with the theme of Happily Ticked Off, I’m also using this site to share what I’m going to start doing to get truly happy in my every day life. And I hope it will encourage you to do the same.

Here at Happily Ticked Off You Can Expect:

  1. Mystery Monday – I will write what I want! (Book reviews, interviews with authors, recipes for Camel Milk pudding. It’s a grab bag for sure!)

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(It’s a real thing… I can’t make this up)

2. Tic Tuesday – What’s new in the world of tics, Tourettes and Special Needs? Let’s support each other in raising our special needs kids. Whether its Tourettes, Autism or any diagnosis you weren’t expecting, here you’ll find a place for hope, healing and strength to deal with whatever comes your way. (And laughter. Because if you can’t laugh, you’ll cry. And you’ve done enough of that!)

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3. Writing Wednesday –  This will be for you writers out there! Tips, questions, struggles and life related to art, writing and balancing what keeps our souls alive with day jobs, families, and real life stuff. (No, we can’t all sit in our skybraries all day and write the next Great American Novel or camel themed musical. But that’s the goal! And isn’t that couch amazing?)

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4. Fun Friday

These posts are going to be talking about how to put the fun back into parenting. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of freaking out over spending all this money I don’t have to provide fun for my kids that, at the end of the day, they don’t always need. It’s not about paying for fun that makes a difference, it’s being fun that kids remember.

EX: As much as I’d love to spend a week, all expenses paid, at the Great Wolf Lodge… obsessing over my 47 year old body while careening down germ infested water slides and bragging to my friends on Facebook who are sitting at home flogging themselves over having overdue library fines AGAIN and now their kids can’t find the books that are due in the first place darnit and… oh wait, that’s me… I’d rather focus on how I, as Mama, can bring humor and joy right back to my wolf pack at home.

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We’re Enough, Moms!

We can all get so stuck in what we think we should be doing for our kids, we forget that just being who we are is enough.

Yes, enough.

Even with the fridge missing the organic food.

Even with the running late to church. Again.

Even with the misplaced keys. Again.

Even with the career… or lack of career… or in between insanity of a career.

Time for Fun

I am no guru. There can be days when I’m feeling too busy to bring on the fun. But those days – especially those days – are when I need to be intentional about it. Otherwise, parenting is just one more thing on an already crowded to-do list. And really, that would be kind of lame. Lets support each other in the journey to walk on the lighter side of life. Wouldn’t a little more singing, a little less shouting, be lovely? Let’s do this together!

Until next time,

Andrea

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Teenagers. Detaching with Love. And Tacos.

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You might notice less cute pictures these days on my blog. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. My kids aren’t that cute anymore. They are teenagers.
  2. These teenagers don’t want to be photographed and put online anymore. They are certain some predator will track them down and kidnap them.  I try to tell them that no one but me would take the time to put up with their half done chores or pull vegetarian recipes out of my butt for dinner because they’re more worried about saving chickens and cows than their library book reminders, but I digress.
  3. I’m too tired from waking up at midnight thanks to them stomping around upstairs, to bother with a camera.

I’d like to say that I’m my cheerful self, despite the challenges of raising two kids, one of who is 6’3, 14, and eats more food than a baby cow. I’d like to say that balancing a day job, a little book marketing, some freelance gigs and the occasional conference doesn’t throw me for a loop. But nope. This about sums it up.

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And yet…

Here’s the deal.

When I get cranky, like I did in my last post, it reminds me that I’m not Super Woman. It reminds me that I need to pull my drooling head off my chest and remember that it’s not what my kids do but who they are that’s most important. This means me – their imperfect, sucks at cooking, over commits, running late mother gets to breathe life into them. Not just on Christmas or birthdays – but every day. I can be boring and angry (and sometimes I am) or I can choose to be playful and encouraging (which is what I strive for.. but not yesterday. Yesterday? #epic fail.)

Bottom line: Fun is everything. If I can’t have fun with the little things – like dancing in the kitchen to Maroon 5’s “Sugar” while neighbor kids stare at my wooden spoon microphone and wonder if I’m adding doobage to the cilantro – then I won’t have fun with the big things.

My kids are growing up… fast. I better enjoy it while I can… because the hard stuff… the “Oh My GOD you’re keeping me awake AGAIN” stuff is the stuff I’ll miss in … gulp… four years… when they are out of the house.

Or, let’s face it, still in the house. (My kids are not like other L.A. kids. They don’t take music and language classes. They aren’t winning sports trophies or modeling for The GAP. They  specialize at cracking jokes, begging for snacks and getting a degree in Sarcasm 101.)

I’d say I feel like a bad mom. And sometimes I do. But most days – even when I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing – I have to admit…

I adore ’em.

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The top note from my daughter reads: “Doing chores is doing something, relaxing is doing something, therefore relaxing is doing chores.”

The bottom note from my son reads: “Insert clever comeback here!”

Until next time,

And eat tacos. They always help.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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What Makes a Good Character?

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Last night I broke out my pilot. It had been about six months since I looked at it and I had a few reactions I wasn’t expecting:

  1. The first two scenes are pretty funny
  2. The second half of act one needs more work than the tile of my 1950’s wackadoo kitchen
  3. Act two is about as together as Sonny and Cher after a few blissful years of marriage

I’ve done enough writing in my past to not worry about the current state of my pilot. I just needed to go back to my outline.

So I did.

The story wasn’t clear enough. And then it became even more clear that in order to have a solid story I need to know more about the characters.  Who are these people, why are they in my script, and what makes them tic?

The Transformation of This Blog

As many of you know, this blog started out as a journey for Tourette Syndrome. Who was my kid and what made him tic? What would his life story be? Would it be a comedy, a tragedy, a giant mystery full of gluten free bread and neurologists?

I started this blog when my son was 4. He’s now 14 and doing very well. (He starts high school next year! He’s six two! Eeeegaaads!)

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The truth is, like most good scripts, his story came out when I gave him time. I wanted a cheeky basketball player. He wanted to be a Vegan animal lover. I wanted a straight A student with a perfectly clean bedroom. He’s an A/B student with a room that looks like Gravity Falls and Harry Potter threw up in it. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine.

When I didn’t force my kid to be anything other than who he was supposed to be, he was able to develop into the kid he’s supposed to be. He has limits and boundaries, but freedom to shine. I will extol that same grace to my pilot.

A Writing Schedule + Freedom = Great Characters (for me and my scripts)

With that in mind, I plan on giving myself some freedom over the summer to get off my crazy work train of a schedule and continue to write.

And read!

In addition to my morning spiritual books, I am toggling between:

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emotional intelligence

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What Do These Books Have in Common?

Amazing characters and insight. From a Jersey Girl bail bondsman, to an intelligent, fast talking orphan, to fascinating insight on the correlation between IQ and empathy, these books take me in. They make me laugh. And they make me think.

My Next Job Move

As I wonder about what next year holds for me at my current job, I can honestly say that whatever happens it will develop my character. Like the people in the books I am reading now, I will be forced to ask questions like:

  • Why am I making the choices I’m making?
  • What is my definition of success?
  • How can I be me while still contributing to a group? (My family/finances)
  • How can frustration be transcended into personal growth?

In the end, as I develop the character of Andrea, I will pour what I’ve learned into the characters of my pilot. And that, my friends, is really exciting! It’s my favorite kind of script – one where the lead character goes into the unknown with a bit of courage, sass and, hopefully, some humor.

Knock Knock!

Who’s There?

Your Life.

Your Life Who?

Whoeever you want it to be. You got one shot. Make it worth it!

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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Special Needs, Dropping Trou and TV Writing

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You may or may not know that I’m a special needs aide for a public middle school. I’m not sure what is further from my Hollywood writing days of yore – working at a middle school or working with kids like Midu, who only know 50 words of Hindi, no English and are more comfortable dropping trou in front of me than the time “Actor Who Won’t be Named” thought it was perfectly acceptable to unzip his pants while I was handing him pink rewrite pages.

Checking out the package (and not the one I was delivering) I almost said,”Not the pink I was expecting to see.” Instead I went with, “Craft service has mini hot dogs! See you on set!”

Back to Midu, who is just learning his ABC’s, I can’t help but think of my days on set. Similar to my days in the writers room, there’s a beautiful synergy that happens over the lunch tables. We laugh a lot. We tell stories. We trade food. “I’ll give you my apple slices for your tahini!” Granted, I can’t understand a word this kid is saying, but half of the director’s notes went over my head also.

The facts are, when it comes down to it, there’s nothing some hand movements, head nods and a good dose of humor can’t solve. At the end of the day, like with a brutal rewrite, as long as no one has wet themselves in the process and we’ve all had a good laugh, it’s a day well done.

As I dip my toe into the water of teaching higher level special ed next year, I’m excited about the possibilities of having even more impact with kids. Like my home for my own kids, the classroom will be a safe place for my school kids… a place to know that… for a few hours a day… they can take a break from whatever is going on in their own houses and rewrite their life script. Some kids I’ll reach, some kids I won’t. (One kid I work with uses all day to sleep. As long is it’s not someone I’m pitching a show to, I don’t take it personally.)

In the end, though…when thinking about teaching… there’s also this 47 year old kid who has a small fire inside her gut. It’s a desire that says, “While you’re helping your kids achieve their dreams, don’t forget yours.”

What’s mine? I want to get into TV again. It’ll take time. I will need to use summers to write my scripts and school nights to network here and there. But I’m ready. I’m setting a goal to apply for a Warner Bros. Writing program 2018 – 2019. I’ll need two spec scripts. Grace and Frankie, here I come! (I’ll get Grace into rehab even if it’s only on paper!)Wish me luck!

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And after dealing with the Midus of the world, I will have stories.

Until next time, tell me about you. What is your dream?

May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you cannot change, the courage to change the tics you can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My book is available on Amazon. Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on FB

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