This time last year, I had the pleasure of meeting my childhood idol, R. L. Stine. But it almost didn’t happen. Tickets, though free, had to be reserved online within a narrow timeframe. By the time I clicked, they were all gone! Imagine my horror! I was attending the event as an author, and to know that Stine would be mere buildings away was just too much.
I didn’t lose hope, though. On the way to the event, I decided that I had to stop by our local bookstore to pick up a Stine book for him to sign just in case I got the chance to attend. I purchased A Midsummer Night’s Scream [affiliate link]. I had never heard of the book, but the cover was creepy and the blurb sounded interesting. So, I bought it. The whole way up, I hoped that someway, somehow I’d get in.
Thank goodness for great friends! By the time the event happened, a generous friend had given me a ticket. Then, while I was in line, a new friend I met while there, offered their extra VIP ticket. While I stood there with my lovely laminated VIP ticket (the girl who a day earlier had no ticket!), I went to add the book to my Goodreads to-read pile. It turns out that the book I brought him to sign was his worst rated book ever. My cheeks flushed, my heart raced. What would he think? Will me bringing this book evoke negative feelings? As an author myself, I thought it might. We all have books that are more popular than others, but I only had one chance to meet Stine and thank him for countless hours of childhood fun and terror! The last thing I wanted was to rain on his parade. What was a girl to do?
Having a VIP ticket meant that I got to sit on the first row! SO close! I hung on every word he said. He was delightfully funny and inspiring. No surprise.
Then it was time to get our books signed. Since we sat so close, we didn’t have to wait long. Within minutes, I was next. Me and THAT book. I bit my lip, wiped my sweaty palms down my jeans, and anxiously waited for him to speak when I handed him the book.
“Wow. No one ever brings this book. I love this book. It’s nasty,” he said, a smile stretching across his face. My heart warmed, and I felt a sense of pride. I had worried for nothing. My fears of disappointing my favorite childhood author immediately dissipated. I had made him smile. Like all the times his words had made me smile. And it felt great.
Riding home on a literary high, I realized there was a lesson in this. Authors fear reviews. It’s a natural part of being an artist, and sometimes we miss the mark, no matter how hard we try. But despite what other people think of our work, it doesn’t take away our own love for it. And it shouldn’t. I suspect Stine figured that out long ago. We don’t create for other people. We create because we’re compelled to understand the world better, and writing helps us do that. We’re called to it. Our books don’t always have to be “good,” but I can assure you that our intentions are. I left there that day realizing that he and I and all authors are more alike than we ever realize. We’re constantly being told how good or bad we are. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that the only thing that truly matters is that we are worthy. Our stories are worthy of being written, shared, and experienced. The verdict isn’t nearly as impactful when we live in that truth. 🖤
I found this lil piece last night while slowly making my way through boxes. I painted it last year, and at the time, I was disappointed with it. I’m always my own worst critic, but now, after some time has passed, I realize how much this encompasses my MG fantasy, RED RIBBONS. I’m looking forward to doodling more of my characters in the future. Something about putting them on paper in a visual way makes them feel even more alive. 💙
I told y'all last post about how much our new house needs the deepest clean ever, right? Well, let's just say it's been trials and mountains of errors on finding a product to help with the 12 years of dirt layers caked on all the trim, doors, and cabinets. But by some glorious revelation, I found the best product that not only cleans, degreases, and moisturizes the wood--Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap [affiliate link].
I know what you're thinking, how can dish soap be the best cleaning product for the job?! I'm just as surprised as you; although, I really shouldn't be. I've been a fan of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day products for about a year and a half now, since I made the decision to start minimizing chemicals in my home. Their products smell amazing and make your skin super soft due to their use of essential oils (hence their ability to moisturize surfaces).
The information on their website really explains what makes them different:
We make intelligent, responsible raw material choices, and whenever possible, obtain materials from renewable plant resources such as coconut, corn, soy or olive. At times we choose to use non-plant-derived material for reasons of efficacy, consistency and safety. Our products do not contain chlorine bleach, ammonia, petroleum distillates, parabens, phosphates or phthalates. We use concentrated, biodegradable formulas and at least 25% post-consumer plastic in our bottles. We do not test on animals.
So yeah, I'm a fan. I should add a little disclaimer here, though. I do not use their dish soap for dishes. Weird, I know. But I find it too oily and difficult to rinse, leaving a funny taste in the cups, so there you go. The good news is that it cleans everything else SO well.
We've also used it to pressure wash and clean the exterior of our previous home, which was wood sided. Worked wonderfully. And just this morning, I cleaned our stainless steel microwave, inside and out, and it didn't even leave streaks. Seriously, y'all. It rocks.
What You'll Need To Tackle Your Next Project:
In the midst of all the cleaning, I'm really enjoying listening to The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden.
Hello spring, you fickle little thing you. Much like your inability to decide whether or not you want to dip your toe into winter or summer every day, I too am trying to daily decide how I feel about the huge changes in my life. Recently we moved houses, cities, and states, relocating about an hour South of our previous location. We made the change without mentioning it much to our friends because we weren't sure we'd actually do it. I mean, yes we wanted to move, but our wish list and budget didn't align. So, finding a place felt impossible. But when we did find a place that met all our demands [insert shock here], we fell into an epic new season of life in a crushing whirlwind resembling Dorothy's crash into OZ.
Isn't it funny how the things we say we'll never do again ironically are the very things we repeat? Ha. After surviving an extensive remodel a few years ago, Prince Charming and I swore we'd never do one again. Never. But here we are, life making liars of us once again. Our current residence was built in 1989 and hasn't been touched since. Not to mention that fun fact that no one has lived here in 12 years! Everything is outdated, dirty, and in desperate need of everything.
I've been a grump the past few days because I haven't been able to work in a few weeks now. We're still waist deep in boxes, spending every waking minute painting, installing flooring, and I've been cleaning like I never knew possible (more on that coming up in the next post). My desktop computer isn't even plugged up yet. My desk is sitting in halves in the garage, looking like a sad magician's assistant--waiting for some wave of a wand to put it back together again. So, instead of sitting around getting even more frustrated by the fact that I'm unable to concentrate on my current WIP, I thought I'd rant about our new project, the hell it's putting us through, and the highlights (yeah, yeah, there are a few). :) Stay tuned!
In the meantime, enjoy the photos of our Japanese Maple and a rose I found at my grandmother's on Easter.
Vanessa K. Eccles
Books, life, and travel.
Author of FABLED, RED RIBBONS, and OF LOVE & LEGEND // Founder of The Faithful Creative Magazine