Traveling Back in Time… to Meet Aliens? #MFRWAuthor

Over Christmas my brother told me about a man who claims to be a time traveler. According to him, we are going to meet real life aliens … this month. Crazy, right? And maybe just a tad terrifying if you’re like me and aliens have been a source of anxiety since you were a kid.

Welcome to week two of the blog challenge. This week we’re taking a step back (okay, maybe a few steps back) into childhood in order to reminisce.

Ah, the fun of summer nights sat around the crackling campfire. It was always one of my favorite ways to pass the time. My family was big on camping regularly and every once in a while, if my parents needed a weekend away from us (shocking), my brother and I would spend a weekend at the campground with my grandparents. I remember one particular star-filled evening as Pap Pap enjoyed a beer and the rest of us made mountain pies when I looked up into the sky and wondered “What if?” I was maybe 11 at the time and the question had been weighing on my mind a lot and was the source of many nightmares. Sitting out under the open sky, admittedly, invoked a sense of anxiety. We were having fun… but weren’t we vulnerable? I’d heard too many horrific tales of alien abduction to want to take my chances.

I mentioned my concerns to Grandma and Pap Pap. Pap Pap laughed, leaned back in his chair and said to me, “If aliens come down, I’ll just offer them a beer.”

Fair enough, I thought. Why should any of us be so afraid of the unknown? Maybe this alien thing wasn’t all about kidnapping, probing, and leaving mysterious crop circle messages in our corn fields?

During another camping trip, this time with my parents, I came across a girl slightly younger than I was at the time. She claimed to be from another planet. (What kid doesn’t at some point though, right?) I didn’t believe her but she intrigued me so we played together anyway. She decided she liked me and by the end of the day, she decided to initiate me into her ‘world’. I shrugged and figured why not? I lay against a large boulder while she muttered gibberish and pressed stones into my skin in order to turn me into whatever she claimed to be. I never truly believed I was different after her initiation but looking back, I can’t help but wonder if this explains a lot. (ha)

My brother and I once insisted we saw spaceships flying between the trees behind our house and disappearing underground. I grew up in an area that had at one time been used for strip mining coal. Behind our house was a field that had mostly overgrown except for patches of thick, black coal dust where nothing grew. (Incidentally, for a kid, coal dust makes a great substitute for a sandbox. Trust me kids, your parents won’t agree!)

We watched the alien spacecraft disappear into what we assumed was a tunnel network underground – doing who knows what – and couldn’t believe that no one else witnessed this amazing event!  Keeping an eye on things kept us out of trouble for days until finally, we got bored and conceded that maybe, just maybe, there really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary going on out there.

They say it’s a good idea to write what scares you. I’ve always thought aliens would make a wealth of story ideas for me in that case because I have a long history of fears and pretend encounters to draw from. Perhaps one of these days I will delve a little deeper and turn those memories into a short story? You never know.

As for the time traveler, that’s a pretty far-fetched idea. I’m not sure I’m ready to believe it’s possible but I did a little googling and found this blog post about the guy making this claim and his predictions for our alien visit this month. I figured you might want to keep a cold beer ready… just in case…

What do you think? Is there life out there somewhere? Do you think we will meet?

Thanks for traveling back in time with me and reliving some crazy childhood memories. If you would like to see what others are remembering, make sure you visit the MFRW website and check them out!

By the way, the photo at the top of my post comes from Amazon. The backpack is currently unavailable but here’s the link in case you want to keep an eye for it when it comes back in stock. 🙂 I thought it was pretty cute. AMAZON

How Much of Me Is in My Writing #MFRWAuthor

Do we write in order to fulfill fantasies and experience what we will never face in reality? Do we write to make sense of past problems or heal old wounds? Or do we simply enjoy the idea of playing God and watching the characters we create become a better version of themselves?

Me?… Well, I have had a pretty amazing life up to this point so there aren’t many scars to mend and the few crazy encounters I’ve had, I prefer to forget. So, that’s not why I write.

Fantasy fulfillment? A chance to play God? Well… maybe.

Why ask these questions in a blog post about how much of ME I put into my writing? Because how much of me exists within my characters and story worlds kind of depends on why I put them there, to begin with, doesn’t it? And for me, I believe it comes down to the pure joy of putting something to paper that previously only existed in imagination. It’s reminiscent of playtime as a kid. (But let’s not forget kids play to learn and make sense of their world…)

There is always a piece of me in everything I write but just like my kids are not ME simply because I am their mother, my characters and stories are not autobiographical either.  Other factors in my life help to influence, shape and create what ends up on the page, sprinkled with a lifelong interest in psychology and astrology. (Odd mix, I know.)

Inevitably, I know myself best so I will take quirks, hobbies, experiences from my own life and sprinkle them into my story. For example, headaches are a big thing for me. I started getting migraines when I was in elementary school with intense pain and vomiting. That sort of experience is not only uncomfortable but interferes significantly with daily life. My main character in the novel, The Between World, suffers from this same infliction but in her case, it is an unfortunate side effect of psychic abilities. (If only I could say the same…) It was an experience I felt I could write even if the reasons for it differed.

I like to think of my characters as friends I’ve never met. When I sit down to write I ask myself who is this person living in the story world I’ve established and why would she do what I’m asking her to do? Will her personality resemble mine? Probably. Would I do the same in her situation? Not necessarily.

If the character doesn’t interest me or I don’t care about the world in which she lives, I have no reason to follow her. I’m human and let’s face it, as humans, we tend to be drawn to others who share something in common with us. Shared experience is often the foundation of new friendships.

So yes, I suppose you will find ME in varying degrees in every story I write. I hope that’s a good thing. 🙂

Thanks for checking out my post in this week’s challenge. Hop over to the MFRW52 Challenge page or click on the Linky Tools below for the complete list of participating authors.

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My Earliest Memory #MFRWAuthor

Welcome to the second week of the 52 Week Challenge – My Earliest Memory.

My earliest memories are like a series of old movie clips that occasionally play in my mind but without sound or a connection to other moments, they are a little disjointed and hard to say how much is a true memory and how much is my imagination filling in the gaps.

At the time, my parents lived in a trailer park in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. Being 3 or 4 years old, everything felt big to me even though logically now I know space was likely cramped. I remember my bedroom and my bunkbed. I slept on the top bunk and from there, I felt like the ground was miles away.

My dad worked second turn as a truck mechanic so my days I spent with my mom and our little terrier named Flea. But occasionally, my dad would take to the woods behind our trailer where we would sit on a huge hill drinking chocolate pop and watching the trains pass by in the valley below. I was fascinated with trains and of course, I loved special time with my dad. I remember one afternoon, however, I must have sat in an anthill and there were dozens crawling all over the place. I didn’t want to sit down.

Then, another flash of memory. Nighttime. I was standing at the screen door in awe because on the street outside our trailer a car had caught fire. I remember my parents being panicked, rushing. I remember being taken down the road to my aunt and uncle’s trailer for the time being. But to this day, I always wonder how that car caught fire and whether or not the driver was okay. In my memory, I see him in the car but I don’t know if this was the case.

I remember kids who lived in our trailer park. Next door, I think? They seemed so much older than me even though probably the oldest was around 10. I remember one time they kept telling me to calm down and stop crying because they knew if my parents saw me they would get in trouble but I don’t remember why I was crying. I just kept wondering if the older one was a girl or a boy.

I remember my parents bringing home my baby brother, wrapped up in so many layers. And then, not long after, they bought a house and I remember running around the empty living room the day it became ours. I remember being in the car as we pulled up to the trailer for the last time and thinking that it wouldn’t be my home anymore. I felt a little sad but I was eating a McDonalds Happy Meal with a milkshake so – not too sad. 🙂

Thanks for reading my post on the 52 Week Challenge Blog Hop. Click the link to read memories from other authors participating in this challenge.

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My Favorite Thing I’ve Written #MFRWAuthor

Happy Friday and Welcome to my first post in the 52 Week Challenge! This week’s topic asks what is my favorite thing I’ve written… and why?

This is a tough one for me and looking back, it’s almost impossible to pick one story over the other because when it comes down to it, the short answer to this question is that the story I am writing *right now* is my favorite.

And no, I don’t mean that my current WIP is the best. Actually, I mean that when I sit down and throw myself into a new project, that project is all-consuming and I consider it the best and most exciting thing I’ve ever written. That enthusiasm is what keeps me writing even when the newfound love sours and the current project loses its luster.

Just like in a relationship, sometimes you have to keep looking for ways to recreate the magic. Doting on stories past won’t do it. I think if I spent too much time telling myself a story I’d already finished was my favorite then I might not be as motivated to keep going on the new one.

But of course, I do have stories that carry a special place in my heart. The Between World is the first book I published and I’ll never forget the feeling of holding the paperback in my hands and knowing it was my own creation. Priceless! Even though it isn’t the best thing I’ve written, it was my first and so it will always share space on the “favorites” list.

Then there is the short story I wrote for a competition in 2016 called Port of Entry. Not only did that story surprise me as I wrote it but it surprised me again when it was chosen out of many to propel me into the second round of the competition. I needed that boost of confidence.

And of course, there is the story I have attempted to write on and off for about twenty years. It’s taken various shapes and forms but because I’ve never been truly satisfied with the effort, it still only lives in my imagination. One of these days it will find its way out into the world, I’m sure of it. When that happens, who knows, it may be my favorite!

Or perhaps my favorite will be one I’ve not even conceived yet. I’m hoping I have many years of writing left ahead of me and I’m excited about all the possibilities I can explore with each new project I delve into.

So for the time being, I shall return to my current favorite project – the work-in-progress going on at the keyboard right now as we speak about a girl destined to save the world from an alien invasion. Stay tuned. 😉

Want to learn what other authors are saying about their favorites? Check out the MFRW 52 Challenge Blog for the linky list of participating authors.