Guest Post: Mysti Parker

The Best & Hardest Job in the World

by Mysti Parker

As an author/mom, I sometimes wince when some of my writer peers say things like: “I’m glad I didn’t have kids.”

Sometimes, for a brief moment, I let out a little sigh and think, “Yeah, you’re lucky.” Then I take a look at one of my kids and I think, “No, they don’t know what they’re missing.”

2014-02-15 18.12.33Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that having kids is a BIG job and a very personal decision, and no one should be judged one way or another for choosing to be a parent or not. But I’ll also tell you that being a mom doesn’t mean your life is over and that every bit of your creativity will be sucked down into the whirlpool of diapers and laundry. In fact, I’d say my writing life is much richer now, because having kids has taught me a great many things, like:

  • Patience: If you possessed none of this virtue before parenthood, you will learn it the hard way. Whether it’s nonstop colicky crying or breaking up the 119th argument between “He hit me! She hit me first!” you will acquire the patience of Job or you will take a nice vacation in the loony bin. This little virtue has come in quite handy, not only in keeping everyone alive, but also in the constant waiting game that goes along with writing and submitting things to be published. Weeks or months may pass before you hear anything. You better have patience or you’ll go blind checking your email every 5 minutes.
  • Perseverance: It never failed—when my kids were babies, just as we were walking out the door to go anywhere, they would spit up or have the Worst Poop Ever. You either persevere and change that baby for the umpteenth time or you never leave the house. Perseverance is a necessity for a writer too, when that umpteenth rejection or wince-worthy review comes in. You clean off the poop of negativity, keep writing, and keep submitting!
  • Contentment: A quick glance around my house would suggest a troop of wild baboons came raging through not so long ago, strewing a random assortment of things in their wake. Stepping into the kitchen, I realize I can’t find the sink. It’s hidden under  Mt. DirtyDish at the moment. At least I have a clean cup for more coffee. See there? Contentment. Yeah, the house is a mess, but in order to write, I have to let go of perfection, apply butt to chair, and write. I’ll scale Mt. DirtyDish later…or better yet, now that my kids are 12, 9, and 6, I’ll turn them into little mountaineers when they get home from school. Hee hee.
  • Zoe and mom's belly 11_25_07Love: One of the best times of day is an hour or so after the kids have fallen asleep. I’ll tiptoe upstairs to check on the sleeping angels, and my chest literally tightens with the love I have for them. I can’t stop smiling—even seeing my 12 year old all curled up with her stuffed bunny still makes me giddy. My husband and I created these wonderfully unique little humans, and God blessed us with the opportunity to be their parents. Then, the 12 year old wakes up and says, “Mom, you’re being creepy,” and I have to flee back downstairs. Needless to say, though, this depth of love has enriched my writing. It’s easier now to tap into those emotions, even when a scene calls for something heart-wrenching, because I know what it’s like to love someone so much it hurts and how much it hurts when that love is put to the test.

Sure, I might be more prolific and have more things published by now if I didn’t have kids. I might not have Mt. DirtyDish or the clutter of baboon carnage, but I’d not be the person I am today. My kids have taught me so much about life. I’ve learned to put others first, but I’ve also learned to better appreciate the writer side of me and to carve out that time for myself so that I’m a balanced person and therefore a better mom.

Motherhood is the hardest job in the world, but it’s also the best job, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

About the Author

200025_103787076370825_4452630_nMysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.

Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s six week free course, F2K.

Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Find the author: Website | BlogFacebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: The Snitch, Houdini and Me

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The Snitch, Houdini and Me: Humorous Tales of Death-Defying Childhood Misadventure (2010) by Johnny Virgil (JV Enterprises, 2010)

Genre: memoir, humor

I received a free digital copy of this book from the author through BookBloggers in return for an honest review. If you would like to know more about Johnny Virgil, check out his blog, 15  Minute Lunch.

Amazon describes Virgil’s memoir…

“Go Out and Play and Don’t Come Home until it’s Dark.”

Growing up in the 70’s wasn’t easy. No internet or smartphones, video games or HDTV — nothing but time to kill and the endless potential of a summer day. Only parental threats and a newly-developed sense of right and wrong could steer Johnny Virgil and his two younger brothers away from trouble…or directly into it.
Join Johnny on this hilarious and irreverent romp through his childhood as he recounts the stories that made him what he is today – an unimportant cog in a vast, corporate financial services machine. But he wasn’t always this way, and this book is proof.
Booby traps, severed deer legs, runaway bulldozers, young love and fresh cow pies — all this and more, brought to life by Johnny’s sometimes twisted, sometimes touching but always hilarious tales of suburban childhood. If you have kids of your own, these are the stories you don’t want them to read.  If you like to laugh even when it’s wrong and long to return to a more innocent yet treacherous time, this book will leave you wishing Johnny’s childhood had never ended.

When I signed up to review this book, I knew it was right up my ally. I grew up with three younger brothers, two older male cousins, two additional male kids of close family friends and tons of boys at my annual summer camp, which was a big prankfest. Talk about shenanigans! I was prepared for this book…or so I thought. I was amused at the stories Virgil shared, and felt that I was an observer of those events. I highly recommend this book!

If you are a mother, especially of boys or a daughter who was a tomboy, read this book. If you’re a boy (over the age of 21 so as not to get any “bright” ideas), read this book.

If you spent your childhood days growing up pre-2000, read this book. It will bring memories flooding back…and maybe provide some pointers or ideas you never dreamed of fulfilling to scare the beejezus out of that big kid bully.

If you ever feared being “in deep shit,” read this book. Warning: the farther in you read, the more adult the language becomes. There is a PG version available for Kindle readers.

This book is hilarious throughout, with never-ending shenanigans and covert missions, usually involving one of Johnny’s two younger brothers, The Snitch or Houdini, their neighbor Markie or best friend The Slug. Virgil shares some stories that could have been disastrously dangerous for his little band of boys. He is very keen to point out he doesn’t know how he survived childhood without killing himself, or someone else, at every opportunity. And he’s right: after reading some of the boys’ grand schemes, you will be surprised to know they usually escaped supreme and disastrous trouble usually unscathed, with only a few cuts.

Johnny and his gang didn’t have the best of everything from back in the day. They didn’t get what they wanted. They essentially had hand-me-down bikes that came home as a box of bike parts. Yeah. The kid down the street had a mouth-watering go-kart…so Johnny and the boys created their own version, and they were happy with it. Imagination and invention were the game plan.

Throughout this collection of stories, readers can watch Johnny grow up from the leader of two little brothers through that awkward teenage stage, learning about girls and dating, cars, and eventually a few excursions with the bottle. Included in the beginning chapters are drawings Johnny did as a child in grade school, and one or two photos.

Virgil shares a time when being a kid was OK, but when you cross the line there are consequences from your parents. Neighborhood kids with tag-along siblings, generally left to their own devices during summertime. Friendly-fire neighborhood gangs battling over turf, sometimes just on principle. The fear of getting in trouble. It’s something that’s rarely seen today, back when a pinky swear meant something.