NaNoWriMo 2014: Resolution/Revelation/Catastrophe

See that photo up there? That’s me, right now, at this very moment.

The following quote is also very fitting:

“Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself – expanding and learning as you go – you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”
Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

I have definitely struggled and suffering through many things in my short existence on this Earth, and this one will definitely not be the last.

Truth be told, I almost gave up on this novel entirely. I told myself last week that “I just needed a break.”

Well, here we are, another week gone by. I have nothing to say for myself. I have no excuses. Nothing to say, or write.

Except that today, I finally picked my head up and put my fingers to the keyboard again. I may have only written for 15 minutes today, but in my book, I totally call that a win.

And tomorrow – The very last day of November 2014 – I will write again.

Last year, the last day I saved the Word document that contains my 2013 novel attempt was on November 25, 2013.

This year, that “Date Last Modified” section will read November 30, 2014.

And I won’t stop there.

Enjoy excerpt #4!

Working Title: “Discussion of Differences”

Current word count, as of this writing: 15,341 words

“Lizzy – I’m sorry. I didn’t want to be mean, but it’s so true. You’re so close to the end! I’m just looking out for you, that’s all.”

Bethany heard sniffles and then a deep breath.

“You’re – You’re right, B. I’m just so overwhelmed. Stressed. Exasperated. Done. Finished!”

Bethany sighed. “I know, Lizzy. I know all of it. Believe me, I’ve been there. We all have – Even Will. We all had some kind of senioritis, especially toward the end of the last semester. But hear this – You can do this. You’re so close. Just buckle down and endure these last few weeks – I promise that the end result will be so worth it.”

Lizzy sniffled and considered her words carefully.

“Thanks, B. Really. It’s so great to have a friend like you. I feel more of a connection to you than anyone else, which is probably why I’ve been texting you non-stop for the last six days. I’m sorry about that, by the way. I just get into a groove of feeling the need to write out everything that I’m currently thinking. I simply forgot that you have these things called work, and your own school, and your life with Will and your family. Will you accept my apology?”

Bethany then realized she’d been holding her breath. As she let it out slowly, she also considered her next move.

“Lizzy, of course I accept your apology. But – You need to make a commitment to me.”

“B – Anything. Anything for a friend like you.”

“Please, for the love of everything holy, text me only once a day from now on. I don’t care if it’s a novel, but consider it a reward, of sorts. You can text me at the end of every day, but only when you get through all of your classes, all of your homework, and any other obligations that you have. Do we have a deal?”

Bethany could almost see Lizzy, see her making that face when she’s seriously considering something.

“You got it, B. Anything to save our friendship!”

Bethany chuckled. “Lizzy – I wasn’t going to end our friendship. I’m just a worried mother hen right now. Do you understand? Anyway, I look forward to your end-of-day texts!”

“B – You rock. I feel so much better now. When’s the best time to text you?”

“Um, any time before 9:30 p.m. After that, I’m asleep. Got it?”

“Okie dokie. I’ll text you tonight then! Thanks, B. You’re an awesome friend.”

“Alright. Let me eat my food and I’ll get back to work. I’ll text you back tonight to let you know that I got it and read it. Now go pass those classes!”

Bethany could almost see the smile returning to Lizzy’s face.

 … Bethany almost felt bad that she had such a close relationship with Hunter – They were pen pals, too – but they both knew it was completely platonic. Both of them cared about their significant others too much, along with their friendship, to jeopardize anything.

Bethany just stared at Hunter’s last message for at least five minutes before tapping the screen to write a reply. Whatever she wrote, she had to do it quickly – Her lunch break was almost over. At least she’d been able to scarf down her sandwich while talking with Lizzy.

Finally, in the last two minutes of her lunch hour, Bethany felt confident in her thoughts.

Hey there. I hope you had a good lunch break. I just spent three-quarters of mine talking with Lizzy. Yes, actually talking with her over the phone. I don’t want to get in the middle of anything between you two, but I wanted to be transparent with you. That’s what friends are for – I don’t want to keep any secrets from you. I completely understand if you don’t want to share or talk about it.

Bethany let out a frustrated sigh, peppered with relief. She always felt better when she actually communicated her thoughts and feelings – Whether it be through spoken word, or written. She just didn’t want to hurt anybody.

Hunter had far more freedom at his job – He was able to stay on the FlixelFlaxen throughout the day, unlike Bethany.

He always got excited when the new message icon popped up. He really did enjoy Bethany’s conversations. After all, he had never expected to be friends with her after her graduation more than three years ago. He was immensely grateful for her friendship – She’d gotten him through some dark times, ones that she didn’t know about. And that included issues with Lisanna.

He read B’s latest message once, and then paused before reading it again. He always like to read things more than once.

He took off his glasses, closed his eyes, and pressed his hands to his face. His worst fears were becoming reality. Lizzy was a super senior. Over the last several weeks, he had noticed her withdrawals increasing at an alarming rate. He knew she was struggling, but he had no idea how to help her.

“Oh, fuck. Fuckity fuck fuck fuck! Now B knows. Now what?”

He had to distract himself for a few minutes before replying to her. Luckily, he knew Bethany was working on a big project this afternoon, so he had more than enough time to consider his response to her.

After a lopsided combination of a little bit of video editing and quite a bit of anime, Hunter’s head was clear enough. He didn’t like replying to Bethany on impulse, if he could help it.

He took a deep breath as he poised his hands over the keyboard.

Interesting. First of all, it’s not your fault – I know that Lizzy’s gotten super close with you since last we met at Bill’s. And that’s great! I appreciate you letting me know. And being honest with me. Keeping secrets is never a good thing – Even between friends. Not to worry though – You’re not getting between us. In fact, you saying something has actually been helpful. It’s made me realize that there’s more of a problem than I had originally thought. Let’s work together, if that’s okay with you. I think you want to help Lizzy as much as I do. What do you think?

Hunter finally breathed out as he clicked Send.

“Now, the waiting begins. Until then – More distraction!”

 … Bethany couldn’t respond right away. She needed to mull this over, maybe even talk to Will about it. But there was another pressing thing on her mind: The next meeting. It was just eight days away!

As she drove toward Will’s house after work, she spoke potential responses to Hunter aloud. She knew something would eventually bubble up to the surface.

Bethany parked in Will’s driveway and hustled inside – It was really starting to be autumn, with the crisp chill in the air. She kissed Will as soon as she crossed the threshold, and then excused herself to the bathroom. She had logged into the FlixelFlaxen before she’d left work, and was ready to reply.

Look – I completely understand how you feel. You know full well that Will and I were in a LDR before I graduated. I desperately wanted Will to come visit me every single weekend, but I knew – We both knew – that wasn’t practical. I personally don’t think it’s practical in your case, either. I think you should be as supportive as possible, though. Visit her every other weekend. It’s only six weeks until the end! You both can handle this, I know it. I want to help, but I want you to make the decision. Let me know what happens.

Hunter was gaming – as usual – when the notification beep interrupted his music. He paused the game and clicked over to the FlixelFlaxen. He’d gotten really good at skimming Bethany’s messages, so it took less than a minute for him to get the gist.

His response was lightning fast:

Thanks for your thoughts. I really appreciate it. You’re right, in a way. We both want to see each other every weekend, but I don’t think it will help anything. It is only six more weeks. I’ll see if she wants me to call her more often – Maybe that will help during the weeks that I can’t visit her. She definitely needs all the support that she can get. Thanks again – You’re a great friend.

Bethany smiled and went to sit by Will’s side, as happy as a clam.

As Bethany and Will settled into watching the newest episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” Bethany drifted off into dreamland again, visions of all things Europe dancing in her head.

The next day marked a week away from the next get-together. Since it was a Saturday, Bethany devoted most of the morning to writing everything done. She switched back and forth between the computer and her special Europe journal. After the first meeting, Bethany and Will had gone to Target the following week, and Bethany wandered into the stationery aisle. She scanned the journals and notebooks until Will heard her gasp. Bethany had found the ultimate 7-subject notebook. Yes, there are notebooks that go beyond the 5-subject kind now!

… Bethany thought it was just perfect – There were actually enough sections to cover all the bases. There were six equal sections, one for each person, since Bethany was delegating roles for everyone. Then the seventh section was reserved for general planning, wish lists, doodles, photos – Sort of like a European Pinterest board, but on paper.

She couldn’t wait to start writing in it, but she was whisked away by Will to the bedroom for some overdue sexy time. It could wait, but not much longer. They would all meet up the following Saturday, and there was still so much to do and prepare.

However, she couldn’t wait for everyone to see it. She even tried to hide it from Will, but that didn’t work so well. He could tell that she was really excited, and that buoyed his spirits. For some reason, he was having an inkling that Saturday’s meeting was not going to be as stellar as Bethany and the others were anticipating.

He tried to mask it, but it wasn’t easy. Because he and Bethany had been together for over four years at that point, she’d gotten really good at being able to tell when something was wrong with him or if something was bothering him. After all, Will was one of the most easy-going people she’d ever met, so it wasn’t really hard to perceive when something was different.

Will finally came to the conclusion that he had to let Bethany know of his suspicions. He spent the first part of the week trying to rehearse what she was going to say, because he knew that Bethany would likely react really strongly. She didn’t take kindly to uncomfortable situations, and more so if they blew up in her face all of a sudden. He decided he would take her to dinner and attempt to tell her his thoughts that Thursday. He figured it would give her enough time to react to it and process it before the meeting took place. That was his hope, anyway.

Thursday night, they met at Will’s after work like usual. Normally, they went out to dinner as a couple on Fridays, but Will liked to pull a surprise every so often, to keep Bethany guessing. That night, they decided on Outback. Will drove, and even though he was holding Bethany’s hand and chattering like everything was normal, in his head he was desperately trying to formulate the right words. He knew this wasn’t going to go well.

After they ordered their salads and steaks, they were making small talk about work. They had mutually decided that their conversation about Europe would be minimal to none between the two of them. They agreed that they could talk about their own wants and wishes, but nothing that involved the group. It was all about fairness. Then, the conversation suddenly fell off a cliff, and Bethany heard Will swallow and breathe deeply.

“Will? What’s wrong? You look worried.”

He cleared his throat – It was now or never.

“Bethie, I am worried. I’ve tried to find or come up with the right words all week long, to try to tell you this carefully or gently. But, I’ll just be straight with you – I know that’s how you like it.”

It was Bethany’s turn to swallow. She instantly got nervous and edgy whenever Will was nervous – It generally wasn’t a good sign.

“Will, honey, I appreciate that. I really do. You know me so well. What is it? You know that you can tell me anything, right?”

Will nodded and bowed his head a little. He didn’t want to meet her eyes, but he forced himself to do so.

“Okay, here it is. I’ve had this inkling that this meeting on Saturday is going to be a disaster. I don’t know why or how or what, but that’s just my gut feeling. I don’t know what to do.”

Bethany’s eyes softened. She stroked his right hand with her left, and with her right hand, cupped his chin and kissed him.

“Sweetheart, I can tell you’re worried. I am too, a little bit. I think it’s because we’re going to start talking about the real details now. You know, the money aspect is a big one …”

Will nodded. He felt his gut untwist a little.

“The fun party planning period is ending. But, we’re all friends. We’ve been through some tough times already – Remember how worried we all were when Bill’s mom had that stroke?”

Will nodded again. He started to breathe normally again.

“Everything will be fine. If we do disagree, so be it. We don’t have to plan everything in one Saturday. Actually, we can’t do that. There will be many more Saturday meetings before the official adventure begins.”

Bethany smiled. Seeing her grin restored Will’s confidence and faith. He cupped her chin and kissed her longingly.

“Whew. I feel better. Don’t you?”

Bethany nodded vigorously.

“I keep saying it because it’s so true – Talking it out is the way to go.”

“Well, that was perfect timing. I think I see our waitress coming with our food. Let’s enjoy our meal and think about something else for a change – Like maybe having sexy time when we get back to your house?”

No one could wipe the grins off their faces.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

NaNoWriMo 2014: Climax

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” ~Hilary Mantel

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

I thought this photo was appropriate for this week – I started hitting the proverbial “wall” in my daily writing. So much so, that I didn’t write anything new on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.

I figured I needed a brain break. To prevent myself from crumpling up the paper in the photo, so to speak.

Here’s hoping to play catch-up starting tonight. Then the idea is this new wave of writing, with my brain being refreshed, will carry me through to next week and the end of the month!

Enjoy excerpt #3!

Working Title: “Discussion of Differences”

Current word count, as of this writing: 14,880 words

 … Much like the night that the idea was proposed, no one could speak up immediately. It was almost taboo, forbidden, and immensely awkward. Everyone read worry and fear that was written on each other’s faces. All six of them were basically thinking the same exact thought – What the hell are we doing?

Luckily, the elephant started to get smaller. Bethany had started a binder full of research, and started to pass it around. She’d also thought to bring along the photo albums from her two previous Europe excursions. That broke the tension, albeit slightly.

Everyone thumbed through the books for a few minutes, and they all got back around to Bethany eventually. She stacked them in a neat pile as she sat Indian-style on Bill’s bedroom floor, stroking the corner of the purple photo album aimlessly. Finally, she took a deep breath and said, “Well, what do y’all think?”

Everyone glanced around, unsure of what to do or say. Then, Anabelle spoke up.

“I think it’s a great start.”

Like the first night, Anabelle’s affirmation kicked off instant chatter. It was a great flurry of conversation. All three books left Bethany’s lap again and didn’t return for a good while. It was difficult keeping up and keeping track – Everyone was going in different directions. It had a wave of excitement to it, but it crashed just as quickly as a wave would on the beach.

The conversation died down again, and it became this awkward staring contest. No one wanted to kill the enthusiasm, but the challenges needed to be addressed eventually.

Anabelle went first.

“So, of course y’all know that Bill and I are getting married. We’re thinking about sometime next year. And it wouldn’t be a happy wedding without all four of you being a part of it. So, the question is, how will this affect our European adventure?”

Everyone sighed, with Bill the loudest.

Bethany spoke up next.

“No worries. Actually, your wedding is a good sign, I think. Because of the wedding, it will give all of us more time to plan this grand adventure of ours, and definitely more working time to save as much money as possible.”

Hunter nodded in agreement. So did Will. Only Lisanna looked worried.

Hunter squeezed Lisanna’s shoulder.

“What’s wrong, birdy?”

Everyone immediately said “Aww” at the nickname, which helped.

Lisanna swallowed. This was the first time she had braved to address the whole group.

“I’m just freaked out because I’m the youngest. I don’t have anything lined up yet for when I leave LT in December. That is, if I actually leave LT …”

Her voice quivered and trailed off. Hunter kissed her temple and rubbed her shoulder.

“Birdy, it’s alright – I promise. No one here expects you to have a job as soon as you leave LT. And, you will be leaving in December – We’re all sure of it. Right, guys?”

“Oh yeah!”

“Of course!”


Lisanna smiled through her tear-filled eyes. She wiped at them, clearly embarrassed.

“I just want to be able to contribute. I’m so excited about this. I think this whole Europe thing, plus Bill and Anabelle getting married, are signs of hope.”

Hunter looked puzzled. “Hope?”

Lisanna nodded. “I’ve been so depressed recently. Lost, almost. That’s why I didn’t want you come down and stay with me last night. I wanted to sort out my thoughts and feelings before coming here today. It helped, but I’m worried about our relationship. What girl wants to be alone when your boyfriend is practically begging to come see you?”

Bethany and Anabelle had to quickly contain their laughter.

“Lizzy, you’re not alone! It’s completely normal. Trust us.”

Bill and Will immediately exchanged glances of pure bewilderment. At that, everyone busted out laughing. 

Bethany and Anabelle tried to figure out who was going to speak first.

“It’s true though. You can look as bewildered as you want. We love you, Will and Bill, but there are days and nights where we just need some peace and quiet. Everyone needs some time alone. Everyone.”

At that, Will and Bill just shrugged their shoulders; that was the universal signal to move on.

The three girls then, at that moment, felt more united than ever. Before now, Lisanna felt somewhat left out. She was the youngest out of everyone, and not nearly as close to the rest of the group. But because of all these emotions and honesty, it seemed that everyone was going to get along just fine.

Amidst all the discussion, Hunter got an idea. It was something he had mentioned, albeit briefly, to Bethany on the FlixelFlaxen. He had gotten the feeling that Bethany had glossed over it though, so he figured it was worth mentioning to the entire group.

“Hey, guys.”

All chatter ceased and each head swiveled in his direction.

Hunter cleared his throat. “I was thinking about living arrangements – What if we stumble upon a castle?”

The only response Hunter got was the ear-to-ear grins on everyone’s faces.

Since Hunter had mentioned castles, she marked him down as being charge of living arrangements – Both temporary and potentially permanent.

Since Bill had worked in a supermarket for many years prior, Bethany knew he was the expert on food and groceries.

For Will, she immediately put down everything design-wise. What Will did with that task was completely up to him; she had the ultimate confidence that he would help design the near-perfect European adventure, as well as be excellent at marketing it to the group.

Lisanna and Anabelle were the only ones left. Bethany purposely wanted to assign tasks to the boys first – They were far less complicated. She wanted to give more thought and care to the girls – Emotions and all.

Bethany started to consider their foreign language experiences at LT. She herself had suffered through Spanish, as did Hunter. Anabelle was the resident expert on all things German, so that made it a little easier. Lisanna was Hispanic, but Bethany didn’t know how fluent she truly was. She also wanted to consult Will and Bill. Everyone had to have taken at least one foreign language throughout high school and college, no matter where they attended. Fortunately, English was a shoo-in.

Anabelle had an extensive travel history, so Bethany decided to put her in charge of the overall itinerary.

The main question was Lisanna. Bethany knew better than to call her out in front of the whole group, so she wanted to take a more subtle route.

Meanwhile, the anxiety was gradually building. There were still a lot of practical questions that hadn’t yet been answered, like money, passports, and jobs – All those details that were, you know, only slightly important. But no one seemed bothered by it. Nothing was set in stone as of yet. There was lots of scheming and dreaming, and that’s the way it should be. At least, for now.

Over the next two weeks, Lisanna and Bethany talked almost as much as Hunter and Bethany did via the FlixelFlaxen. It seemed like that initial conversation in Bill’s living room had sparked something. Bethany certainly wanted to get to know Lisanna better – But it started to get uncomfortable more quickly than Bethany had expected.

It was apparent, almost right off the bat, that Lisanna was texting all the time. It was like her phone never left her hands, although Bethany knew full well that she had a full load of classes, and homework, and her other friends at LT. Plus, there was Hunter, too. Bethany didn’t want Lisanna to get distracted – Especially not now, with the month of November fast approaching.

 … It finally came to a head the day before Halloween, less than a week since last they’d met. Bethany’s phone was vibrating at least 30 times per hour – So much so that she had to silence it well before lunchtime. She knew Lisanna’s class schedule by heart, and becoming concerned that Lisanna was just ignoring it all.

… The dial tone hummed as Bethany muttered, “Come on, come on, just pick up the damn phone, Lizzy.”

Finally, at the last ring before voicemail kicked in, Lizzy’s voice crackled.

“B? I’m eating right now, and I’m in a big rush. Can I call you back?”

“Wait! Do not hang up this phone. Listen to me. I’m worried about you – You’re texting me constantly. Are you even paying attention in your classes anymore?”

Lizzy’s silence spoke volumes.

Bethany raised her free palm to her forehead and let out an exasperated sigh.

“Lizzy – I don’t want to be your mother. But – You have to focus now, more than ever. You do want to pass your classes, don’t you?

The only thing Bethany heard from the other end was soft sobbing.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Adventure Time: Scottsburg, VA Edition

Over the last year, Al’s parents have been working on their “farm” in Scottsburg, Virginia. This is a tiny little town off of US-58, in Halifax County. They’ve put a lot of love and hard work into this property, and I wanted to show you what it looks like.

This adventure took place back in mid-September. His mom’s family has a family reunion in nearby Keysville, so we tagged along for the weekend. Enjoy the pictures!

The front of the house.

The front of the house.

This was a long exposure shot. Where they live is one of the darkest places on the Eastern Seaboard!

This was a long exposure shot. Where they live is one of the darkest places on the Eastern Seaboard!

It looks like something's on fire, but it's really the glow of a light, coupled with fog. Another long exposure.

It looks like something’s on fire, but it’s really the glow of a light, coupled with fog. Another long exposure.

This was probably my favorite shot of the night. Headlights of a passing car, long exposure.

This was probably my favorite shot of the night. Headlights of a passing car, long exposure.

Saturday morning sunshine.

Saturday morning sunshine.

Spiderweb in the barn.

Spiderweb in the barn.

The pond.

The pond.

What's a farm without a tractor?

What’s a farm without a tractor?

There’s still more work to be done, but it’s been fun going up there for the weekend every few months. The house is just a few miles from Staunton River State Park. This park is awesome – I can’t wait to go back when it’s warmer. Also, SRSP also hosts a massive stargazers convention every September!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


NaNoWriMo 2014: Rising Action

“The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side of truth, wisdom, is dying out.” ~Walter Benjamin

Not here, I’m trying to keep storytelling alive!

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Enjoy excerpt #2!

Working Title: “Discussion of Differences”

Current word count, as of this writing: 12,641 words

… Finally, Will was the first audience member to speak.

“So, Europe, huh?”

With that, everyone started talking at once, except for Hunter and Bethany. This was not the reaction they had prepared for, it was actually better than they had expected. They both exhaled a small sigh of relief.

Of course, the whole story hadn’t been revealed, either.

The initial conversation went on for at least 15 minutes before it died down. It seemed like every country had been discussed in that time, and with each new country and city that was named, the excitement continued to build.

Without warning, it got deathly quiet. Eight pairs of eyes slowly focused back on Hunter and Bethany.

“Oh boy, here we go again,” Bethany thought as the speaking ceased to exist.

Fortunately, Hunter did the talking this time.

“Nothing is set in stone. It’s just an idea. But we were thinking that the six of us could, well, relocate.”

Now the gasps clearly contained shock and surprise. Everyone’s eyes were as wide as saucers. No one spoke. It appeared that all jaws had simultaneously hit the floor.

There was no flurry of conversation. Just silence. …

Finally, after what seemed like hours, it was Anabelle who broke the silence.

“Relocate? As in, move?”

Bethany and Hunter merely nodded.

Everyone’s eyes looked at each other around the circle. No one moved, no one spoke. There was barely any breathing.

Bill took a deep breath and finally said what everyone was thinking.

“This is crazy. Absolutely crazy! But, I like it.”

Their Saturday adventure stretched into Sunday. No one slept that night. It was like a teenage slumber party – Everyone was whispering and basically giggling. The idea was simply crazy and nutty, but it sounded like loads of fun.

Everyone eventually fell asleep, the three couples intertwined in different places in Bill’s bedroom. All six of them had different dreams of Europe dancing in their heads.

The next morning, it was like everyone had left their old lives behind. All they could talk about was the future. Everyone had a different version, but it all led down the same path.

As everyone prepared to leave Bill’s house, the excitement was electrifying. A whole new adventure was in its infancy. …

Bethany almost slipped up, but luckily she caught herself. She turned the story into reminiscing about her previous trips to Europe – The first was 17 days in high school, and the second was a spring break trip courtesy of an art class at LT. In fact, she was the only one of the six to have previously traveled to any country in Europe. So she was automatically considered to be the expert.

Hunter and Bethany had also decided to keep their conversation on the FlixelFlaxen to a minimum. They still messaged daily, but swore to not talk about Europe unless the six of them were together. It didn’t seem fair, or right. They wanted to keep it as even and equal as possible. …

However, the final semester for Lisanna was quickly eroding her spirit, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to keep allowing Hunter to visit her on the weekends. She wanted to get the best grades possible, but ultimately make sure she passed all of her classes. They planned to walk at commencement in May, together. They both were part of the five-year plan at LT, but neither were ashamed of that. Lisanna just wanted to pass her classes and graduate – LT itself was quickly becoming part of the problem. She was also terrified of the real world, and what that meant for her relationship with Hunter. She felt torn, and was becoming frantic with each passing day.

Fortunately, being alone in the car for the 45-minute drive to Bill’s was therapeutic. She lost herself in the mix CD that Hunter had given her a month earlier for their anniversary. Her thoughts about the future took her to another place too.

“Maybe Europe is the sign that I’ve been looking for,” she thought as she cruised down the highway.

She did miss Hunter’s company in the car – They always had their best discussions there. But at the same time, she had just come off of midterms and needed Friday to clear her head. She had desperately wanted Hunter to come stay the night with her – For him to just hold her close and tell her everything was going to be alright, that it was going to be just fine – but at the same time, she just wanted to be alone. And that wanting to be alone terrified her even more. What kind of person, in a loving long-term relationship, wanted to be alone?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂



Getting Personal #3: Katie and Drew

Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

I’m going to take you back to January 2013 for a few minutes. See that picture, there? That’s me, on the far right. And, next to me are two of the most amazing friends that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing – Drew and Katie. We, along with Al (He took this picture) went to see Silver Linings Playbook that night. One of the best movies ever, and I couldn’t think of better people to have seen it with!

Now I’m going to rewind a little further – Try six years earlier. In the fall of 2007, the three of us were just strangers to each other. The main thing we had in common was that we were all new freshmen at Longwood University.

Well, not exactly. In June of that year, Drew and Katie had met in Blackwell Hall, before it was renovated. It used to be the university bookstore. As freshmen, we all had to read this book – Klan-Destine Relationships by Daryl Davis.

That book was what brought Katie and Drew together for the first time.

Ask them about the framed receipt some time 🙂

By October 2007, they were dating.

I don’t remember exactly when I officially met them, which is super sad. But, looking at old pictures has been a blast!

It was through a mix of mutual friends – Brian Appich in particular. Here he is, with Katie and I, back in September 2010 as Longwood SENIORS!

Photo Credit: Longwood University Student

Photo Credit: Longwood University Student

The German Club was involved. This picture was taken in September 2008! That was the beginning of our sophomore year. Wow!!

Katie Drew LB 2008

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find a more recent picture of us. Darn it!

When we meet up next time, that will definitely have to change!

There is one particular reason why I wanted to write this post. Drew and Katie’s love has inspired me. They have been together now for over 7 YEARS! Holy cow.

Some of you may know that I went through an abusive relationship for the majority of my time at Longwood. Drew and Katie both knew John. But, even as my own relationship was spiraling downward on campus, seeing their love for each other left me in awe. The pictures above prove it.

Then I met Al in 2010, and the four of us have become so close-knit. It’s been awesome. I’m so thrilled that our friendship has endured for so long. I’m equally, if not more so, grateful that Katie and Drew have loved Al as much as I do. You guys are great!!

We’re all very busy, so we try to meet up every couple of months, since Drew and Katie are currently in a long-distance relationship. But, whenever we can, we make a plan and we get together. We ALWAYS have a fantastic time together, and every time we meet, it passes by all too quickly.

My hope is that we remain friends for the rest of our lives.

More importantly, they recently took a big step in their relationship.

After MONTHS of planning, Drew proposed to Katie almost four weeks ago.

Here’s the sweet video that was captured by Michael Phillips Photography. Have a tissue ready!

Drew’s Proposal

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #2: “Who You Gonna Call?” (Halloween 2014)

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year. I actually have an excuse to dress up!

Since Al and I started dating four years ago, we’ve had a lot of fun with Halloween. I missed our first Halloween as a couple since I was still in college, but we’ve tried to be creative with our costumes since 2011.

Plus, one of the best parts about Halloween is Al’s parents have brought out their fire pit and let the trick-or-treaters and neighbors makes s’mores! Yum!!

Photo Credit: Fox

Photo Credit: Fox

Here’s a photo montage!

2011 – Star Wars (Stormtrooper and Princess Leia)

Photo Credit: Debbie Vardaro

Photo Credit: Debbie Vardaro

2012 – Halloween Party (Stormtrooper and Sexy Sailor)

Photo Credit: Lane Bellar

Photo Credit: Lane Bellar

2013 – The Blues Brothers

Photo Credit: Debbie Vardaro

Photo Credit: Debbie Vardaro

2014 – Ghostbusters

Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

And this year was extra special – I had Jamberry wraps custom-made in honor of the Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary!

Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

Photo Credit: Al Vardaro

It’s hard to see – But the thumbnail is a likeness of Slimer, and the rest of the nail are black with green lettering that reads “Who You Gonna Call?”

Speaking of which, I’ll end this post with a song. Enjoy!

Ghostbusters Theme

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


NaNoWriMo 2014: Introduction

“Let me introduce you to my little friend!” ~Al Pacino, as Tony Montana, Scarface (1983)

I’m not going to shoot bullets or anything. I come in peace.

What I want to introduce to you, my amazing readers, is something I’ve never, ever done before. I am sharing my writing with you, as in my novels. And this isn’t even finished.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Tonight, and for the next three Saturdays, I will be posting an excerpt of the novel that I am writing as a part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, for short), 2014 edition. I have participated since 2012, and it is one of the highlights of my year.

Without further ado, here’s excerpt#1. Enjoy!

Working Title: “Discussion of Differences”

Current word count, as of this writing: 8,660 words

… The discussion of differences came out over the FlixelFlaxen. Since Bethany and Hunter were long-distance friends, they messaged each other daily. They’d become closer because of it. They shared everything from the mundane work experiences to deep, dark secrets of relationships, both past and present.

One day, while they were both at work, something was said about the Europeans capitalizing on the 4-day work week. Bethany was always jealous that Hunter only had to work Monday through Thursday.

Plus, there were other perks that a lot of Europeans have enjoyed for years. Better healthcare. More affordable college/university studies. Cheaper travel. The sense of adventure. Actual paid maternity and paternity leave. And there was more than that.

As the discussion continued, a plan started to form. It started as just a pipe dream, but just the thought was tantalizing …

Bethany and Hunter kept the conversation to themselves, but not for long. It was just too exciting not to share …

“Guys, Hunter and I have an idea that we wanted to share with you.”

Bethany motioned her head in Hunter’s direction. Fortunately, Hunter didn’t miss a beat.

“So, yeah, we’ve been thinking about an adventure.”

All eyebrows went up.

Unfazed, Hunter continued.

“Well, it’s not the normal adventure, like these meetings have been. We’re thinking bigger.”

 Hunter smiled and nudged Bethany with his bony shoulder.

Bethany took another deep breath and leaned into Will before speaking.

“We’re thinking a European adventure.”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #1: Creativity and Lists

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.”

~Paulo Coelho

Finally complete a novel.

Publish said novel.

Travel — Hawaii, Alaska, Fiji, Jamaica, Italy, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand …

Be a contestant on at least one game show – Preferably Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy! 

Fill my future house with amazing art … Some of that art being my own creations.

Write/publish more novels.

Have children with an amazing man by my side … That amazing man’s name is Al 🙂

Live my life to the absolute fullest.

I originally wanted to base this post off of a Sylvia Plath quote. Don’t worry, that’s coming up soon.

But, the quote from Paulo Coelho struck me.

The list I just composed is very short, but it contains pretty much everything that I want to do before I die. It’s my bucket list of sorts, except I don’t want to call it that. The term “bucket list” has become so cliche since the movie was released seven years ago. I’m not a fan of cliches or stereotypes, so I’m going to loosely title this list the “Laura Beth Checklist.”

I didn’t number the list either. My OCD synapes are angry with me right now, but I’m doing that deliberately.  I don’t want to have a complete order to my life – I learned how to be spontaneous in college, and I want to keep it that way.

Now, you may be wondering how on earth this list and this quote relate to the Sylvia Plath quote. Well, I’ll give you the quote first:

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

~Sylvia Plath

The first thing that went through my head when I read the Plath quote was thinking of my attempts at writing novels. It hit me hard. For the last two years, I have participated in National Novel  Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short. The ultimate goal is to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November.

First novel, 2012 — Final word count of 10,212 words.

Second novel, 2013 — Final word count of 14,247 words.

Third novel, 2014 — 6,125 words and counting.

Self-doubt is something I think everyone struggles with, at least once. It goes along with the famous “You yourself is your own worst critic” line. But, I think this affects members of the creative community a bit more – I’m talking writers, artists, designers, musicians, photographers, and so on.

The reason I say that is because all of these people are striving to show something they either created or are passionate about to others, especially if they do it for a living. Self-doubt can’t be hanging around all the time if you’re trying to eat and sleep on what you create or perform.

With my novels, along with my pastel artwork and my playing the viola, self-doubt has certainly reared its ugly head.

I confessed to my friend Justin last night that I was still very self-conscious about sharing my novels. As soon as I wrote that though, I shook my head. It sounded so silly seeing it in the Facebook message to him.

I pour a lot of myself into this very blog, so what makes my novels any different, I thought to myself.

With that, I’m offering to share my novels with anyone (yes, anyone!) who is willing to read them. I love having readers of this blog, so I would love to have people read my novels as well. Criticism and praise are optional, but I’d love to hear what you really think. I’ve taken many a workshop class thanks to Longwood, so please don’t be afraid to tell me if you honestly think it’s absolute trash and I need to start over – Honesty is the best policy. Don’t get me wrong, hearing that will hurt a little, but I promise, I won’t throw a temper tantrum!

My advice – Work through the doubt. Give yourself the encouragement that you deserve. Be proud of everything that you do! Having some doubt is okay, but don’t let it take over. You’re so worthy of success!!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂