Friday, June 29, 2012

The Grocery Store Drama

Usually when I go grocery shopping, I spend more time being creative with my shopping list than actually getting those items. For example, I might write two specific names for each general item. Like lettuce would be iceberg and romaine. This is always a great exercise for writing.

Or I might give my items humanitarian names and histories. Jelly might become Jezel, an over-the-hill woman who has grown too flabby to be the beautiful show girl she once was twenty years ago.  The only thing that gives her even the smallest self-esteem boost is her sticky relationship with peanut butter, who she calls Petey Butler. I go on and on until I’ve created a soap opera about my dietary supplements and realize that I’m blocking the snack aisle, and have been for a good fifteen minutes.

This is a prime example of letting your imagination run away with you. And an example of how my poor child has to compete with my muse for attention.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Writers Caravan

My husband Michael and I started a writer’s group this past January as part of a New Year’s resolution to write more and hang out with like-minded people. We meet once a month, and so far we’ve had little assignments and critiques of each other’s work. It’s been great!

Although I have to say I have turned out to be the worst member in terms of completing assignments (which I assign myself), and giving quality feedback on members’ work! When I realized this and admitted it aloud to Michael, he was quick to agree and we both laughed over it.

I could easily make Westly an excuse: as a full-time mom,  I barely have time to get to my own writing let alone someone else’s. Between cleaning house, grocery shopping, laundry, and taking care of West, completing an assignment is at the bottom of my list.

I have reverted to a procrastinating college student, cramming in reading an hour before our meeting, scribbling half-hearted comments on my fellow writer’s submissions as I scarf down the dinner I hurriedly threw together 30 minutes before writers are on my doorstep.

The weirdest part: this is not typically me! Even when I was a college student, I was never one of the procrastinating-pull-an-all-nighter types. I always turned in work on time, was always prepared for a test, and was very organized about my homework and deadlines. So I don’t know where this last-minute behavior towards our writer’s group is coming from.

My only conclusion: as a mom there are so many things I HAVE to do. I HAVE to feed my child, I HAVE to change his diapers, I HAVE to get up in the middle of the night when he calls for me, I HAVE to give him the attention he demands. Now of course I enjoy doing these things because I want to give him the best care he deserves and I want to be the best mom I can be. But the bottom-line is these are things I HAVE to do. So when it comes to free-time and making choices about things I don’t really HAVE to do, it’s a relief not to HAVE to do them!

This is the main reason I’ve let exercising fall by the way side.

And apparently it’s the reason I’m acting like a C student in my writer’s group.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Thank You for Your Story, But...

I got a rejection letter today! Whoo-hoo! It’s going into my file of all the other rejection letters I’ve gotten. I’m not disheartened. It will be just that much sweeter when I do get published and Kathy Lee and Hoda ask me, “How long did it take you to get published?” And I can reply with a solemn nod, “I got over 50 rejections before my publisher picked me up.” And they can look at the camera and say, “See? Never give up on your dream!” And some home-maker watching in her living room will feel a surge of hope warm her insides.

Of all the rejections I’ve gotten, this one was the most insulting, mainly because it started with a cold Dear Author and was a very poor faded copy of their standard rejection letter.

But I suppose even if they rejected me on monogramed stationery that smelled of roses and added a personal touch by addressing me by my family nick-name—

--it would still be a rejection, which is never pleasant.

What do I do in times like these?

I snuggle my little Westly who never rejects me and loves me unconditionally…at least right now while I still have the goods (breast milk!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Pep Talk

If I were a miller, I would say “Back to the old grind.”

If I were a miner, I’d say “Back to the old salt mines.”

If I were an artist, I'd say “Back to the drawing board.”

But since I’m a writer, I'll say “Back to the notepad.”

Whatever profession, the saying holds true for its meaning: get back to work!

That’s what I’m telling myself as I return from a brief absence of writing. Life’s been busy and summer’s here and Westly’s been into everything and…

No more excuses!

I must get “back to the notepad”…

…now, where is my notepad?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Westly just made the official transition from two naps to one nap. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. For the past 6 months I liked having two breaks during the day, especially that morning nap. You see, Westly did not sleep more than four hours at a time at night until he was 10 months old. And a four-hour stretch was a good night; he averaged waking every 2-3 hours. Yes, I’ve heard every solution under the sun, and tried just as many and nothing worked.

I am and have always been someone who valued her sleep. Even in my high school and college years, I had to get a minimum of 8 hrs a night to function properly. So this whole sleep-deprivation hit me hard when West came. I had no problem adjusting to his entry into the world: I was fine giving up work, giving up dates, postponing traveling, putting my love life on hold, and going up a few dress sizes.

But up all night?

Big problem.

So during Westly’s morning nap, I would either go back to sleep, or curl up with a good book…and fall asleep, or do my Quiet Time with the Lord…and fall asleep, or do some writing exercises…and fall asleep.

My prayer journal was filled with deep, moving prayers like  Lord, give me the gift of deafness to tune out his wails. OR Lord, give me wisdom about which tranquilizer to give him. OR  Lord, MAKE HIM SLEEP!

Finally, it happened when West was about 10 months old. For whatever reason, he started sleeping longer stretches until he was technically sleeping through the night. Which meant more sleep for me, which meant fewer naps for me, which meant more time for other things like writing.

Now that West has transitioned to one long nap of the day, my writing is really taking off because I have more time and energy for it. Instead of having to make aggravating choices over how to spend his nap time—like, sleep or write or pray or clean or—I can do it all!

This doesn’t mean I am always productive, especially when it comes to writing. There are still days when housework piles up, or appointments mess up the daily routine, or hormones make me more tired than usual, or worst of all…

I get writer’s block.

But that’s another issue…and another blog.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Character Description

Miranda Turnkettle was an orphan. But not the usual kind of orphan. You see, her parents did not die, they simply stopped living life, which is an entirely different thing altogether. Miranda found it easier to say she was an orphan than to explain what really happened to her parents.

This snippet popped into my head the other day as I pushed Westly in his stroller on our way home from the park. I have no idea where it came from or where it will go. But that’s the brilliance of creativity and the fun of writing!

So here’s the skinny on me:

Full name: Farah Christine Shaw (formerly Drazin-it’s Croatian, and while I liked having a name with a Z—cuz not too many words/names do—and it could be a high-scoring word in Scrabble, I was glad to ditch it for a much easier-to-spell-and-pronounce name when I married)

Pen Name: FC Shaw (ambiguity has its benefits in the writing world, especially as a female writer wanting her books to appeal to girls and boys alike)

Age: 25….if you go back in time 4 years and 12 months

Status: married five years to the BEST man in the world, Michael Shaw—and so as not to confuse him with the hundreds of other Michael Shaws in the world who formed a group on Facebook…I’m married to the one that is the BEST (and the one that teaches English at our local Charter High School, sings on our church’s worship team, is an aspiring author, and loves me like no one else can or ever will)

Children: one Westly Cavanaugh Shaw, named in part after the disguised Dread Pirate Roberts from Princess Bride and in part after his paternal grandpa (you can determine which is which)

Books: I’ve written and published a children’s mystery series called Sherlock Academy which is geared for middle readers (ages 8-12). I have three out, and am currently writing Book 4. I’ll wrap up the series with a fifth book. I gotta do my pitch now: for more info go to or email me at

Other Hobbies: art—I love to admire it and teach it; reading—specifically children’s lit cuz that’s what I primary write; Scrabble—though I haven’t been doing too well  lately; cooking—I could be really cheesy and say food is another way to tell a great story, but I’ll just say it’s another way for me to be creative; Starbucks—I’m gonna argue and say it’s a hobby when you consume their bevs at least on a weekly basis

Religion: I am a child of God living in His Grace

And that’s me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Once Upon a Time...

I just laid my little boy (14 month old, to be exact) down for his nap. I check Westly on the video monitor—isn’t modern baby technology great these days? If I’m lucky, he’ll sleep for about 3 hours.

I sit down on the couch with my mini laptop. Now is my time. My time to visit with some familiar friends, and explore places far from home, and take control of some situations…for once.

It’s time to write.

Welcome to my life as a full-time wife and mom…

…moonlighting as a writer.

Here you’re privy to not only the ins-and-outs of a stay-at-home mom, but also the inner musings of an author. Before committing, thought, please beware of the warnings on the label:

Warning: I’m not a perfect wife/mom, and neither are my sentence structures

Warning: my days are probably just as chaotic as yours, and so are my plots

Warning: my life is full of quirky characters, and so are my stories

So why should you read this blog?

Well, I hope to inspire and encourage you to pursue your interests and carve out time for your talents. And if nothing else, maybe you’ll be entertained for a few minutes a day.

So here we go. Once upon a time…