Tag Archives: road trips

Quintessentially Me: Carlene

Mermaid-Carlene-300x225Happy 2016, fishy friends! Welcome to the New Year, the lagoon and to this month’s blog theme: Find something of meaning with history that describes/embodies/personifies you to a tee.

(Thank you, Alethea Mermaid, for the thought-provoking prompt!)

So… Here I’ve been searching my house the past two days for something that fits the bill. It’s not been easy! Simply put, I’m a girl of few possessions.

The things I treasure, I often pack up and stick in my car. Her name is Fancy, my car, because she was the most stripped down model of Honda I could afford but she may as well be a billion dollar spaceship to me and I’d never want her to feel anything less than that. The places we have gone, the things we have seen…

At any given moment, Fancy’s trunk might be carrying around such precious cargo as my telescope whose name is Vera. Vera because in Spanish, it means “he or she will see”. I earned Vera by helping a writing friend of mine with their book and I’m very proud of that. Bonus points for how cool it was that my friend happened to have read my bio and noted my affinity for stargazing. Surprise!

Let’s see, there’s also a box of my published books. With it being the New Year and all, I’d like to speak it into existence that someday soon, those books will go from Fancy’s fabulous trunk and into the hands of readers.

Like flesh and bone girls, Fancy isn’t just about the fun in her trunk…

There are the scratch marks covering the front interior from where I stuffed chain-link building materials inside her, convinced I was going to erect my own fence. Hey, in my defense, I’d just repaired a big hole in one of the house walls and was feeling pretty ambitious.

There’s this man-boy I transport around. The orange, melted-crayon stains on the backseat are his work of art but lately, he graces Fancy withFancyandCarlene Nay-Nay whipping, a smelly singlet and a very heavy backpack. For the record, he’s responsible for my most favorite stains.

Sand. There will always be sand. Everywhere.

Um, and air fresheners because I might have a very sensitive tummy. Yes, I just said that. Oh my goodness … and I totally could have blamed it all on man-boy’s smelly singlet! Zoinks. (Mermaid blushing…)

Essentially, that’s us. Fancy and me. Partners for as long as she’ll have me. Ready to hit the road, see new places and experience new adventures.

Maybe one of these days, she’ll lead me on a road to you, fishy friends.

I wish you all a wonderful 2016 and encourage you to take some time to enjoy being outside. Who knows what you might find out there. And I’d love to hear something you hold dear that simply says, “You”.


Carlene Mermaid







When a Pantser Plots a Road Trip…

What Happens When  a Pantser Plots a Roadtrip?

I’ll answer that in three-and-a-half words.  It ain’t pretty.

I don’t know if it goes against my very nature, but planning a cross-country road trip with my five kids makes me a tad bit nervous.  And anxious.  And really, really, REALLY scared.  It’s not so much the perpetual questions and the fighting in the backseat because I’m pretty much resigned to that.  It’s the mystery.  I hate taking the mystery out of my trip, which probably makes me a pantser in every aspect of my life.

I went to Ireland with my friend Ellen when we were in our early twenties.  We planned our route carefully.  One week to get from Shannon, Ireland to Dublin.  Then we would catch the ship to England and spend two weeks touring England and Scotland.  We had it all mapped out.  We knew where we would be staying.   We planned on hitting every tourist trap from one coast to the other.

And then we decided to scrap the rest of the trip and we stayed in Ireland for the whole month, not knowing where we would sleep at the end of every night.  She was nervous.  I was beyond-the-moon excited!  The mystery!  The possibilities!  Just winging it!  Ahhhh.  It was heaven for me.  Hell for her.

That trip was one of my favorites.  Once we met a nice woman who gave us directions out of Dublin, and we ended up staying at her house for a couple of days.  She set us up with two cute single locals who took us out on the town.  You just don’t get that with careful planning.  Don’t even get me started on tour packages…

So, during this extremely stressful plotting of my current trip, I’ve come to realize a few things that will also help my writing.  It’s not such a bad thing to have a basic idea of where you’re headed.  It’s not such a bad thing to know where you’ll sleep each night.  It’s the journey along the way that it is the mystery. Who knows when we’ll drive by the biggest ball of twine?  Who knows when we’ll meet a family who will somehow affect our lives along the way?  Or meet somebody who will have a fabulous story to tell?

I’ve decided to let my characters learn a bit from my lesson in planning.  It’s okay to have a destination and stops along the way.  It doesn’t mean that everything is planned.  The substance and personality of the characters is what, to me, means the most.  I just have to plan a bit, and I can plop those characters down into a mess I’ve created or just a beautiful part of our country that he/she has never visited before.  It’s okay to plan a bit.  It is.

If it sounds like I’m still struggling, I am.  But, it’s a struggle that I believe will help me in the long run.  Just like I realize that winging it may very well be in my personality but it doesn’t fit with taking five kids on a road trip without some planning, I’ve learned that writing can be looked at the same way.

This pantser needs to go finish the basic outline of a loosely planned road trip.  I will know where my five children sleep the first few nights.  And I know what day I’ll hit Albuquerque because my Golden Heart finalist friend Tammy is planning to house us for a couple of nights.  Shhhh.  If anyone knows her, pleased don’t tell her that my children are hellions.

And now I leave you with a question.  If you’re a pantser or plotter in your writing life, does that flow into other aspects of your life?  And how do you stop that from happening? Or do you want to?