Project Confusion…



I’ve already announced that I’m writing a contemporary romance at the moment. And the concept is pretty good and all… But… Yep. I’m not feeling it.

I’m not feeling anything but the Benel Sisters and their plight from book seven on out and my obligation to Misty Black–which I know I’ll fall in love with all over again once I get back into the series.

For starters the book that I’m writing is titled Resigned to Love. Basically, all the decisions Crinoline Drake makes on the day she’s determined to hand in her letter of resignation change her life forever.

The problem is I don’t like beating around the bush. I like to get right to the nuts and bolts of the story–keep it moving. I feel like that’s not happening with this next book. Something or someone has gotten into my head, I think. The problem is I don’t know who or what–I can’t even identify what the issue is, all I know is that it’s slowing me down. It’s making me want to cling on to what I already know.

Does that make sense?

(Long thoughtful pause)

I don’t know, now that I’ve written this, I think it’s best that I finish this book up. Push myself because my motto is, “You can’t get there unless you push yourself.” And you can’t push yourself unless you want to get there. And I think, when I write the words, THE END, the payoff is going to be astronomical.

I just have to break through this mental barrier first.

What is it???

Maybe it’s the characters. The one’s I see in my head. It could be the male lead. The female is fine. But people are more than what they look like, right??? I mean, I’m nothing like what I look like! BUT. I have a background and who I am now is comprised of how I reacted to the core of belief systems. Does that make sense?

For instance, I’m from a family of mostly women. My mom and dad divorced when I was three. My mom has three sisters that she’s extremely close to and brother who passed away a few years ago. And then, most of my first cousins on my mother’s side are females.  We weren’t socialized to be pretty for boys. I wore pigtails all the way up until I was 15 and didn’t even kiss a boy until I was 17 (I think). I didn’t wear make up until the 11th grade I think. And that was only eyeliner, eyeshadow and lipstick. We weren’t socialized to “mate” either. It was quite the opposite, actually. Of course biology and life taught me otherwise but I do think my beginnings made love a very romantic notion for me. What I mean by that is, it’s all heart and emotions for me, it isn’t driven by necessity. One of my ambitions have never been to have a husband or children. I wanted to be a sports report, lawyer, journalist and writer but never a wife or a mother. BUT… falling in love is simply a pleasure to me.


I wonder if my mental block stems from the fact that I don’t really believe in it in real life. 🙁

My God. That’s it. I can write Parched because I can believe in it in a supernatural way. If you’ve read the series, then you’ll understand what I mean by that. But in real life????

I don’t buy it.

I think that’s my problem!

But here’s the deal. Can I find enough respect for Crinoline’s background to write her the way she truly is? She’s a woman who had to be mindful of wanting the husband and children. She’s aware of where she fits in the hierarchy of beauty–and that effects her on a daily basis. She’s plain, but why did she make that decision? Because even if she tried a little, she would be a blossoming rose.

Why? Why? WHY?


And now back to work.  (Sighs… I think) I still have this mental block–but I’m going to relax, close my eyes and let Crinoline tell me WHY?

(Oh, and I’m not saying that I have an aversion to the husband and the kids and all of that. Although I do have a problem with those people who say, “I want three kids” or “four kids” or whatever the number is before they even had one, or before they’re even married. The thing is, I’ve worked with children all my life. My first job was in my uncles Day Care and then I worked at his group home years later while in College. I’ve learned a lot about children. I’ve learned that they come into this world needing every single BIT of their parents. They’re more than just objects or symbols. A parent has to be wise in many aspects. They have to be the epitome of humility too. They have to be good listners. They have to PAY ATTENTION. And they have to be mature enough to not take it personal. And the “I” pronoun has to be their least used word.  And they have to know that every child is different and you have to NURTURE them into discovering the GIFTS that God gave them. And there are no days off.  This lasts 19 years, 365 days of the year (they HAVE to go to college, not going is NOT AN OPTION). But  a person who knows this and still wants to have child before married or even having one, is UNSELFISH and should have one or many, and bless the Earth with fantastic human beings. Well, and the husband part–well, you know, the wrong guy can destroy your peace of mind! LOL! When I used to visit my sister before she was married, her place was always clean and quiet and FRESH. Now that she has a husband, the TV is too loud and you can always hear him making all this noise. It’s like he’s everywhere. In every crevice. I told her, that he would… Not Crazy but CRAZAY.)

Anyway. Thought I should make that clear. I’m by no means taking some sort of superior posture. I hate when people do that, and that’s not me. I LOVE to happy marriages (usually involves two unselfish people) and happy kids (usually involves two unselfish parents.) That’s all!



  • victoriawarren

    So…I totally wrote a post last night at work and only thought I posted it. LOL Typical Vicki fashion. Oh well. :/
    I like you Melissa, we have lots in common. I too was a very rebellious teenager. Though I think that I was spoiled from my grandma (firey redhead) and my mom. It was just us three for a while. My parents got divorced when I was a baby and Grandpa was in Vietnam unil I was four. Played softball like it was my only love. Boy I still love softball!! Step dad (didnt know my Filipino dad tip 2010) hit the highlights, you know, graduation etc… I was 15 when I lost my virginity, my husband lost his to me.
    Married young, had kids. It by no means has been perfect, and he claims I settled. But in the end, I cant think of another human being I would rather wake up next to every day. He’s a wonderful father and a loving considerate husband. Don’t get me wrong, we have had our problems. I have been to the edge with him. But when I think of life without him, well I can’t. I still love him after 25 years, these days that’s something!
    Anyway Z, I don’t think you don’t believe in it. I DO think you are a sceptic. I think you have so much to offer someone. You do deserve to find it, but don’t set the standards too high. They are just men after all. Lol And I think love is not so much finding the perfect person, but finding someone to love flaws and all. You know, those dumb little quirks that are (mostly) endearing.
    So relax, reboot have some Skinny Girl Mohito! 😉 Whoever is speaking in your head, that’s who you write.
    So, I’ll talk to ya later friend, Vic 🙂

    • Z.L Arkadie

      Thank all of you ladies for lending so much value to this post. I love your stories and how you honestly shared your life. This tops off an already emotionally fantastic day! Earlier I ran into two of the dancers from the Alvin Ailey Dance Academy on the street! They are performing at the Symphony Hall across the street and I saw them last night. It felt so good to have the opportunity to tell them how much I appreciate what they do and the beauty they bring to our world with their art. The show is sold out for tonight 🙁 But I’ll catch them in LA next week for the second half of last night’s show! All just say that if they come to your town, then YOU MUST GO.

      Anyway, I kind of digressed 🙂

      And yes, I’ll have a mojito tonight! I went to Target today and bought two bottles of Skinny Girl Mojita. I usually have less than half a glass every two nights or so. I’m still not a big drinker 🙂 But Skinny Girl beverages taste so fresh to me!

      Thanks again for sharing, darlings! You’re the best blog readers in the universe!

      Much Love, Ladies! Z

  • catthrinn

    Boy! I think you need to shut down, a glass of fine wine! Possibly a hot bath, clear your head! Breathe, be you, and tackle it with your usual flair. I believe in you.

    Love & Hugs

    • Z.L Arkadie

      Kat, I think you’re right!!!! I now have a lot to consider after reading Melisa’s comment though… I think this story is still working itself out in my head and I’m rushing to write it. I started Misty Black last night and it infused me! But first, Vanquish is back from editor #2! I’m going to work on getting it into your hands! Later Kat! Z

  • Melisa Rechenmacher

    First, I want to tell you, your blog on “grammar, etc.” caught my eye. I’m one of those people who are totally mindful of the way things are spelled and said. So, after reading your blog about “incorrect grammar”, I now understand where you, as the author, come from and why the grammar may/may not be correct. Also, I duly noted the fact that you were having copy editor difficulties and have noticed that a lot of people are having the same problems. It’s not just you. Now that I’m paying more attention to things like that, I totally get where you’re coming from.

    Now, about your mental block.. I was brought up very differently. My mother married my father when she was 17 years old and he was 19. When they got married, my mother took my father’s religion. (She was raised Catholic, my dad was raised Lutheran.) After they’d been married a few years, they adopted me. (Mom was 21 and Dad was 23). It was a State Adoption in California and I was raised knowing I was adopted and that it made me “special”. When I was adopted though, they prefaced my introduction to my would-be-parents as “She’s small, but she has red hair. Is that a problem for you?” My Mom had red highlights in her brown hair and obviously wanting a child, asked, “why would you ask such a question? Of course I don’t mind.” So, as I was being raised, I wasn’t necessarily taught that I should be “getting pretty” for the boys. However, I started playing softball when I nine years old. DIRT. BOYS. BATS. CATCHER’S GEAR. These were my defenses against those who made fun of my red hair, my freckles, and because I did a million squats a week playing catcher, my muscular bottom half, which most just called me “FAT” for. I was brought up on a block with 2 girls in my age group, and the rest were boys. I did NOT like playing with the girls. Barbies? Make-up? Nope… hand me a dirt clod and I’d be happy to pretend it’s a grenade and throw it at a boy though!

    Once I was in Junior High (Wait, they call that “middle school” now, don’t they?) I noticed the opposite sex, and they were idiots! They either teased me relentlessly because of my build (I looked like a pear!) or they were teasing me and calling me “Medusa” because my naturally curly, thick, red hair, had a mind of it’s own. I took my frustrations out on the softball. Once my braces came off my teeth, my chest finally blossomed into something even *I* wasn’t expecting, the curves came in, and all the sudden, in my senior year of high school, people were saying “HI” to me in the corridors of school and I didn’t even know them. I’d ask my friends if they knew them and they’d shrug their shoulders and say “nope”.

    My mother was strict about the make-up thing. I came home from school (Junior High) wearing mascara and eye-liner one day and my Mom about had a cow. So, I was “allowed” to wear eye shadow. This is how “controlling” my Mom was. I didn’t know how to do my own hair, until I moved out. My mother did my hair for my Senior Class portrait and when I went to my senior prom, Mom did my hair. When I went to my boyfriend’s prom the following year, *I* did my hair. Mom dictated when I could start wearing mascara, blush, lipstick. Finally, I think she gave up, because in my senior year of high school I did a lot of extra curricular stuff. I lettered in music and softball. I majored in Home Economics, studying Marriage and Family, Child Development and Cooking. I tutored fourth graders at a local school as every day. I was President of Future Homemakers of America! Not to mention the go-to babysitter on the block. Why? It was expected of me. At least I felt like it was. I don’t think my mother ever said anything about being like her, marriage and kids and all that. But I felt like I was suppose to do what my mom did and how she did it. Because she was so controlling and everything was about respect or disrespect, tone of voice, and what have you, I felt if I wasn’t like my mom I was in some way doing it “wrong” and God forbid I disrespect my mother by “doing it wrong”! (I’ll explain this about my father. He was a functional alcoholic. He went to ONE softball game, the one I broke my wrist in! He didn’t go to school functions, except graduations. He was always working. So, when my sister entered the picture when I was 7, I lost my dad to the bottle and work. Every now and then he’d mellow out my mom. Like when she complained about how I had decorated a picture collage on my wall. He said, “Suzi, it’s HER house. She can hang pictures the way the she wants to.” That was Dad. He died prematurely from throat cancer when he was 55)

    Luckily, I met my husband in high school. And it’s actually worked out. But, I did the same thing my Mother did. My husband was 18 and I was 19 when we got married. Six months to the day after we got married we were told we were expecting the first of three girls. (I was told after an ovarian cyst ruptured when I was 13 I wouldn’t be able to have children. So I was shocked, as was my hubby. By the 3rd one, he was getting a Vasectomy!) I took my husband’s religion, because I thought I was suppose to. Ultimately, in a world where there were mostly two income households, David (My husband) and I decided I would be a stay-home-mom because 1) We could NOT afford daycare. 2) I was brought up with a stay-at-home Mom and before his parents divorced, so was he. Therefore, we are again, doing as our parents before us.

    We now have 2 married daughters, 1 with a live-in-boyfriend. Our oldest (23) has three kids, and is pursuing her career as a Commercial Pilot while her husband is Active Duty Army. Our middle one (22) has some issues (mental health) but she’s also attending school, helps her grandma do day-to-day things since we’re in different states, and doesn’t feel the need to make her boyfriend be there forever, or have kids. She thinks people have turned them into the new “fashion statement”. Our youngest (21) just got married in December, because her husband was joining the Army. They were going to wait but for paperwork purposes pushed it up. She too, doesn’t feel the need to procreate. She agrees with her sister.. girls they grew up with are using their out-of-wedlock off-spring as fashion accessories and they’re living at home with their parents, who are the actual ones raising these children. So, my youngest is pursing her career goals in the Veterinarian world, getting her Associates Degree next month.

    Religion wise, I did not want them to feel like they needed to stay in the patriarchal religion they were brought up in, nor join a religion just because their other half has it.. *I* have issue with the religion I joined for my husband, and have studied several different theologies and have built my own belief system. I taught my girls the same.

    So, the generation my children are in, aren’t raised as I was… by guilt, corporal punishment (I mean I spanked them, don’t get me wrong, I think that’s what’s wrong with the kids today, but I digress.), and the “wait ’till your father gets home” mentality. My girls, were taught anything a boy can do, you can do. Their father taught them that. My oldest and her dad actually rebuilt a car together. It was her first car. My dad did a few things with me and my car, but nothing like my husband. He never treated them like they were china dolls you put on a shelf and admire. He taught them hard work, perseverance, patience. During their high school years, I was very sick and dying from malnutrition (long story), so he was Mom and Dad. I was in bed. But the girls would come and talk to me… but mostly, they’d talk to Dad. I mean about EVERYTHING!

    So, my husband broke the mold that if you had girls, they were mom’s job, boys were dad’s job. Nope… WE had these children… made them from the love we share, which means we raise them the same way.

    I lost my virginity though when I was 16, mostly to rebel against my very controlling mother. My husband, lost his virginity to me. There are so many ways, people are taught about sex, roles in a marriage or relationship. I mean, David and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary this June, and honestly, his older brother is on his third wife, and swore WE would be the ones to “not make it”. But raising our children together, growing up TOGETHER and allowing each other to be their own person while still being devoted to the other makes all the difference.

    I’m sure, knowing the gifted writer you are… your block will rectify itself shortly. If I can help I’d be happy to. I just wanted to you to know that after reviewing your books and your blog, I am in love with your series about the Benel sisters. And I do think you’re right, it’s the supernatural thing that made it easier to write. When you’re not sticking something out of the ordinary in there, where your imagination can lead you to other places, it’s kind of hard. RELATIONSHIPS in general are hard. But every now and then, the stars align just right, and people are in the right state of mind to accept something they may not even realize they’re ready for, and it takes them on the rollercoaster ride of their life. And believe me… I nor my husband, would change it for the world. I hope that helps!

    • Z.L Arkadie

      Oh MY GOSH, Melisa, I hope you don’t mind that I’m showing this. This is the single most, intriguing story I read all year! And I’ve read “The Road”, reading “The Thorn Birds” again, and started “Jane Eyre”. I am an overly-empathetic person and your story touched me deep and filled me with elation. Your daughter said it right–babies have become fashion statements but not only women their age but our age too! And it’s a very dangerous practice. They’re messing with people’s lives, because those babies will grow up.

      Anyway–I love this! I’m going to read it again, again and again until I digest it. Interesting though about the red-head. When I was maybe 5 or 6, my first best friend was a red-head with freckles. When she appeared on the hill behind my house to play with me because my brother and her brother were friends, I was afraid of her! It was weird. But it was because up until I moved to Cabazon to live with my grandma, my world before then was very black. But the more she spoke, her smile–that was the first day we become friends! We grew up together. As she got older, her experience was similar to yours, her red hair and freckles appealed to boys. I had/have another friend I grew up with in the same neighborhood, the lovely Mimi and hers always appealed to boys too. I think that’s why I wrote Fawn with red hair and freckles. When I think of beautiful, I think of red heads! Also, my great, great grandpa had red hair and freckles. My mom, my sister and I have sandy brown hair because of him–It’s the red head connection! 🙂

      Again, thank you so much for sharing. There are lessons to be learned here and I’m going to learn them! 🙂

      Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU — “You could not have bestowed your kindness on a more grateful subject.” Lizzie, Pride and Prejudice the movie!

    • catthrinn

      Wow! Melisa, great break-down! You made me smile, isn’t it crazy how things work out. I did not want children at all. I said I won’t have any. But when I got married, that changed. I look back at it. I didn’t find the right man. But after I got married, I wanted children with him. I was blessed with only one. I treasure her. I can not picture my life without her. She is now almost 21. She is strong, grew up a Tom-boy! She is in college, going to go for being a Police Officer! It just goes to show you, you never know what’s right around the corner, when you least expect it. Your whole life can change. I have found in Z.L. Books, that I can excape and be in the exciting world she has created for us in her books.

      Thank you for sharing.


    • Z.L Arkadie

      Duly noted 😉 I think I’m THIS close to just writing the next Misty while writing a new sister’s novel. I think I need to reach out to the readers and ask who they want to see FIRST! Let me know! 🙂