Writing Hiatus: What I’ve been up to lately.

Published June 23, 2015 by MJ Tejeda

It’s obvious I haven’t posted anything in months. I wish that I could say the reason is because I was busy finishing my two novels-one a historical romance, the other a western saga about a madam. Alas, that was not the case. They are still mere outlines and skeletons of what they should be. I’m a part-time student and mom to a 4 year old cutie, so there are several things having to do with family, holidays and school that have consumed my life over the past 6-8 months. I’ll post more about my adventures in volunteering and fundraising at another time.

I would, however, like to share what I have been up to writing-wise, as I feel that writing is a process that sometimes involved gathering materials and research in order to complete the task. Plus, it makes me feel better to look over the things I was able to produce so that I don’t feel like a torpid and idle person. Here goes:

1.) I started a poem-that still needs a bit of revision during the holidays.

2.) I completed and submitted a poem about the Titanic to the Nashville Review last month. Hoping it gets published.

3.) Got my first freelance writing gig as an online greeting card writer-woohoo! I have always wanted to do that. I look         forward to doing that again, although coming up with 20-30 greetings within a day stretched my poetic mind muscles to their limit. 🙂

4.) An older poem entitled, “Forget Me Not: A Day of the Dead Poem,” was published in the Siren, my college magazine. And it was put on display at the White Library on campus. It is moments such as these that give novice writers like me that boost to keep going!

It was an honor being included in the display during national Poetry Month.

It was an honor being included in the display during National Poetry Month.

I felt like a real poet in this photo.

I felt like a real poet in this photo.

5.) I started out the holidays reading Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel. which fed my mind and soul in various ways. I fell in love with the Mexican recipes and traditions in the book. It was as if these these things were being handed down to me by an unknown family member. As a history buff, and lover of all things vintage, I appreciated the tidbits and explanations of how things were prepared and stored. Things that we take for granted with all of the modern conveniences. It’s an awesome book and I love that it takes place in my backyard, the Mexican border and in San Antonio, Texas. I hardly ever get to see or hear about what was happening within my culture during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This book touches on that which in of itself was a delightful treat.

This was a real page turner. I ate up the recipes, traditions and references to the Mexican culture within its pages.

This was a real page turner. I ate up the recipes, traditions and references to the Mexican culture within its pages.

6.) The other book I read was one I had longed to read for years now entitled, Jubilee by Dr. Margaret Walkerabout the Old South. It fed my consciousness, Civil War intrigue and helped me to develop a key character in my western novel.  I enjoy watching documentaries on Youtube, and after soon after reading the book I watched an interview with the author of a book called Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slave Holding South in the American Civil War, Catharine Drew Gilpin Faust.  She is a historian and the current President of Harvard University, who has written several books on the subject of the South and Civil War.

She discussed several aspects within her book that compare to those mentioned in, Jubilee. Women experiencing PTSD  and losing their sanity and women starting out extremely patriotic but then losing their patriotism were two major themes mentioned in Walker’s book. Which was, by the way based on her great-great grandmother. It reads a lot like a history lesson, and at times you forget that its a novel. There is hardly any romance or fluff within the book’s pages. This is undoubtedly because the story that revolves around the lives of slave and their hardships. I admire Dr. Walker, because she was a part of the Harlem Renaissance and knew my favorite poet Langston Hughes. Again, reading her book helped me to develop one of the key characters in my western novel. She was to have been brought up during the Civil War and influence the life of the heroine in my story.

A rainy morning with my favorite things: my  coffee, laptop and a good book.

The best kind of morning is a rainy one with my favorite things: my coffee, laptop and a good book.

7.) A month ago, I went over to my friend’s home for one of our writing sessions. I usually don’t ever write, however this time I wrote a few pages about this same character, named Eleanor. At first I wrote her into a few chapters of my novel during a novel writing course. However, her past was shrouded in darkness for me. Well, thankfully during that mini writing session at my friend’s house, I was able to develop her background and give her more depth. And now after finishing the novel, Jubilee, Dr. Walker was able to help me fill in the gaps, due to her very truthful tale of the Old South.

8.) I’d like to add that I’ve been watching several documentaries and historical/period movies that have not only been inspiring me but also giving me some “food for thought,” where my novels are concerned.

So, anyway there you (or I) have it. I’ve been idle when it comes to writing, but have been gathering knowledge and inspiration for my books. And today, I was inspired to make this post which sort of pulls together everything I’ve been doing over the past few months. My hope is to continue writing and posting. So many online articles and fellow writers drive the point home about having a social media trail that  publishers and editors want to see. And well, everyone needs a beginning.

Survival Guide For the Holiday Season

Published December 22, 2014 by MJ Tejeda

Perfectly Flawed

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year?

It’s Christmas morning, time to open the presents. Everyone’s excited, but your brain chemistry doesn’t want to play along. Here you are, being expected to show your warmth and glee ad you’re feeling the pressure to pull it out of somewhere. Maybe you’re on a “low,” maybe you’re anxiety’s kicking in, maybe you just can’t shake the funk.  And as you sit in bewilderment, you try to think of how you can participate and not ruin it for everybody.

Most mental health symptoms present themselves through intense mood swings, irritability, and sensitivity to stimuli which tends to increase anxiety. The holiday season is particularly difficult for several reasons.

  • Expectations that all those participating in gatherings be joyful and willing to partake in festivities.
  • Family dynamics and past unresolved issues always creep up even in the most well balanced family.
  • Sensory overload (music…

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What is that Pamphlet Saying?

Published October 29, 2014 by MJ Tejeda

Great insight! So many people need to hear this. MJ 🙂

Perfectly Flawed

Figure Reading A List

Most sources of mental health information list very similar symptoms as a way to explain what the person is experiencing. It is hard to differentiate situational emotions from those caused by a mental health disorder. Often, the set of symptoms which are designed to be helpful can be confusing, because our emotional vocabulary is varied due to culture, upbringing, maturity, and environment. A person that grows up in a less expressive environment for instance, might read sadness differently than somebody that is used to expressing their emotions openly. The less emotive person might believe they are not depressed because they don’t cry. Family members might have the same trouble understanding the diagnosis due to their perception of the symptoms. They may feel that the lack severity of the symptoms does not match the diagnosis.You may hear things as:

“You’re not depressed,” “You’re not crying all the time,” “You’re just a…

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I’m What??????

Published October 29, 2014 by MJ Tejeda

Off to a great start! Inspiring….:)

Perfectly Flawed

pills photo: Pills Pills.jpgInvariably, there’s a sequence of events that lead us to seek help from a mental health professional. The first thing that happens when a person receives a diagnosis is a short denial followed by intense relief. That diagnosis symbolizes at that moment that there is a cause and a cure for whatever has caused our lives to fall off the rails.

Psychotropic medication is usually prescribed in the illusion that these pills will make it all better takes root. What follows is a series of Google searches and reading of pamphlets, to try to gain better understanding of the diagnosis. There are also brief moments of intense sadness where we start identifying ourselves as a broken malfunctioning piece of equipment. If not careful our whole identity can become wrapped up in that diagnosis. Anything difficult can seem now unachievable because we’re broken. What follows, is the realization that the psychotropic…

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250 Word Challenge~Story from an Animal’s Perspective

Published October 8, 2014 by MJ Tejeda

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Boy, did I get the scare of my life today. And all I did was cross some human’s path on the way to Old Lady McPherson’s house. She has the best chow in the neighborhood. Her failing eyesight means that she pours an extra helping of kitty kibble, and boy does it hit the spot come lunchtime.
Well, back to my story. I thought I was going to jump out of my skin when the moron on a came out of nowhere then decided to do a U-turn in the middle of the street. The words, “Dumb black cat!” could be heard as he jetted off in the opposite direction. The nerve of that jackass!

There’s a full moon this October, and every warm blooded creature will be acting like fools, but geez! This superstition of black cats being bad luck has stuck with us for too long! I mean, a few suspected witches happen to share their home with a few of my furry ancestors, next thing you know we’re evil! And we can supposedly work magic–my paw! If I could work magic, I would have never had to climb trees or raid a trashcan in all of my previous six lives! Humans and their wild imaginations.
Pretty soon all the kiddos will be out knocking on doors, asking for candy. If only the adults handed out sardines or drumsticks instead of Laffy Taffy or licorice. I must admit though, I am a sucker for those Kit Kats Purrr…

Success and Selling Yourself

Published September 22, 2014 by MJ Tejeda

A Darker Side of Normal

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Damn, sounds dirty doesn’t it? The fact is, selling yourself is half of the equation in being successful. The other half? Having a skill or experience in a given background.

I’m writing about this because I find it to be incredibly discouraging when you look at the place the economy is in: a mixture of people graduating with degrees they can’t apply anywhere, and next to them people who feel they can’t get above and beyond a low paying, dead-end job. I look at everything and you guessed it, I view the world as a steaming pile of shit. Now, my opinion on that matter won’t change, but I will point out a few things that many of us overlook and need to reconsider.

Stop selling yourself short

Each of us have a talent or ability. It could be having a way with words, it could be great analytic skills…

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Reflection of the Sea

Published September 22, 2014 by MJ Tejeda

A poem from my friend Dark Sean’s blog page. It’s one of my favorites.

A Darker Side of Normal

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A few words; twisted charade
A chandelier of twisted spades
A crystal’s reflection; the possibilities
Those few steps that could change the world

Or the few not taken to watch it fall apart

Like an hourglass that’s been tainted
If I had the time, I’d watch
Forgiving moments I forgot to see
It’s the splinter in our eyes

The opportunities, the compromise
It’s because we care
The blanket of security we grant
A universal symbol of bond

I’d walk the earth to find you
But you were always right in front of me
The bandage on my hearts, undone

And you’ve seemed to mend the wounds

The bleeding’s stopped
Just scars and stories
And the never-ending reminder of you

The absence of just someone there
Each sunrise a plain reminder
The reflection of the sea

Somewhere out there it’s you waiting
And at some time, will be

So cross…

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