Tag Archives: Writers

Where to find me!

I may not be the most prolific blogger during this season of my life, but I’m still writing. For now, my priority as a writer has shifted to paid work. However, I hope to be able to write more personal pieces in the coming years. If you’re curious about my current projects, check out my freelance tab, and don’t be shy about getting in touch!

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The Words Are Back

Damnit.

They’re back. A blessing and a curse. I’ve learned with practice to get out of bed and write them down. Otherwise, I just lie there for hours as they pulse behind my eyelids.

It’s 2:23 AM. I should be asleep. One hundred and twenty little people wait for me tomorrow, ready to run, jump, and play outside. Anxious to know if I’ve learned all their names. Try as I might, I haven’t. Once a week just isn’t enough. I still have about 30 to go. It’s always the ones I don’t remember who ask. Always.

The four hours of sleep won’t be enough. I must let out the words and close my eyes again. Maybe the two droppers full of Passionflower tincture will help. The Melatonin is too strong. It leaves me grumpy in the morning.

I used to awaken in the middle of the night years before she was born. I went through a period of what I now accept must’ve been depression. I didn’t know how to escape my cubicle. I felt stuck. I worried I would never discover a job I loved. Life seemed long. My stomach ached and the doctor suggested anxiety. I didn’t believe him.

Now I have too many vocations calling my name. Life feels short. My husband is contemplating a tattoo reminding him to focus. Maybe I need one too. I don’t want to give up my time at home with my daughter. I teach games class at a Waldorf elementary school. I’m attempting to run my own business. I write. I lie awake in bed and contemplate signing up for yoga teacher training. Like I really need something else.

I expect her to summon me back to bed any minute now. “Mommy!” shouted into the darkness. A siren song. She knows when I disappear downstairs to let out the words. At best she gives me 45 minutes. A crib is headed to our house as we speak, on some airplane or truck or train or sitting in some warehouse ready to be picked up. 19 months of mostly co-sleeping and it’s finally time to try something else.

Even so, I wouldn’t have done it differently. It helped me bond with a colicky baby, connecting us in a way that only the warmth of bodies and shared dreams can. The relief of no more screaming and no need to crawl out of bed to nurse. In a way, it saved me for a very long time.

But now, my shoulders hurt from lying on my sides and I’m hopeful extra space will buy us all more rest. Or at least me, since everyone else seems to be asleep around here. However, I know the words will still drum in my head, pulling me downstairs much to the confusion of two sleepy dogs on the couch.

Yes, for better or worse, the words are back.

And, right on cue, I hear her stirring. My time is up.

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Middle-grade fiction? I’ve got that!

Excited to have finished Little Bird in time for this spirited little person's first birthday!

Nice to have finished Little Bird in time for this spirited little person’s first birthday!

Excited to share the completion of my first middle-grade fiction manuscript, Little Bird & the Graveyard (23,000 words). While everything is a work-in-progress, from the title to the pitch below, it is exciting to be on the road to publication, (traditional or otherwise). I get a lot of questions about what my story is about– below is a peek:

Eleven-year-old Indie has a lot of questions. Not only is she on a mission to find a ghost in the graveyard across the street from her house so she can ask what happens after we die, but she also wants to know why her mom left her and her brother with their dad a few months earlier. She figures if she understands why her mom is gone, then maybe she can stop feeling so upset.

To find answers, Indie will have to be brave. She needs to befriend the family of caretakers who live at the graveyard, which means coming face-to-face with the old man who hates her dog and dealing with a boy who is a year older and clearly does not want her around. Her quest will also push her to snoop through the creepy apartment downstairs and visit the graveyard with her brother at night. While none of these adventures will keep Indie out of trouble, they will lead to life-changing revelations, including the realization a ghost has something to do with her mom’s absence.

***

I was inspired to write middle-grade fiction while working as a classroom teacher with fourth and fifth grade students. During our read alouds, I noticed certain themes resonated more than others, like growing up in dysfunctional families and chasing ghosts. While on maternity leave, I began writing Little Bird and finished in time to dedicate the book to my daughter for her first birthday. Indie embodies the independent spirit I hope to instill in my children and students alike. And, of course, I am also hopeful she will reappear in many more books to come!

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Update: Oh hi, it’s me!

Still here! Just a little preoccupied with the creature in my arms.

Still here! Just a little preoccupied with the creature in my arms. This is the only recent picture I have with me actually in it– but pretty fitting since I took it last night while I typed one handed. Learning to get a lot done with a little extra creativity.

As I sat down to start writing today, I remembered I had some comments over on Leap of Mama to check out. Then I wandered back over to this blog and realized, wow, it has been more than a month since my last entry. That made me a little sad. This blog used to be my baby. Then I had a baby and, well, she took over that spot and my writing had to become a lot more prioritized, (as in, somehow, this blog fell to the bottom of the list).

I hope you stick around despite the neglect. I plan to triumphantly return one day and hopefully soon! The non-mom part of me is still alive and kicking, if just for a couple hours here and there throughout the day. Most of my writing attention has been going to middle grade fiction, a novel about an 11 year-old girl in search of answers about why her mom left and what it means to be alive, all within the kid-favorite context of living across the street from a graveyard.

I am having a blast writing it, started the last week when E was in my belly and picked it back up a few months ago. I’m 15,000+ words deep, which for middle grade fiction means I’m about halfway through a book, exciting stuff. I look forward to sharing more as I finish up in the next few months. My goal is done with my first draft by E’s first birthday; the best present I can think of for her, even if she has to wait ten more years to appreciate it, (which is great, because that gives me plenty of time to polish it up and slap a real cover on it!).

Anyway, just wanted to stop by, say hi, and tell you I’m still around, writing. I miss the community that was beginning to emerge on this blog. Now it’s a little like an abandoned garden plot, but I know there are more good things to come, just hope you are still around to say hi too! If you really miss me, (which how could you not?), you should stop by my other blog, Leap of Mama. I make a more frequent appearance in those parts.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

And, oh yeah, let me know how you’re doing– what projects are you working on? What’s new in your life? Would love to hear, whether it’s a comment or email!

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Getting Meta: The Stories we tell Ourselves

A collection of notebooks I found around the house... I'm sure there are more.

Time to whip these suckers back out and get intentional about my present and future again.

I have always been a storyteller. When I was a kid, this got me into a bit of trouble as I molded my reality to fit the story I wanted to tell. I wasn’t a liar, per se, but I manipulated details to create my world into one where I wanted to live.

Without stopping to notice, I am still the same person. I tell stories all the time. And just as when I was a kid, they are neither true nor false, but rather subjective to the lens I choose.

Today I was feeling down for the first time in awhile. Maybe it was the weather. Maybe it was those pesky hormones still sticking around after baby. Really it does not matter. What does matter is what I realized.

I had a choice. I could either tell myself a negative story or a positive one. Both were true enough, depending on which details I chose to focus. What a thought. I could live in whichever story I wanted, so why choose the gloomy one?

Time to get out those notebooks again and be more intentional about the stories I'm creating now and five years down the road.

I love old pick-me-ups in forgotten journals… It is like the old me knew I would someday need a picture of a fish saying, “Boo!”

Even so, I let myself bask in the gloom for a bit. Sometimes I enjoy a good mope. Contrasts are good. Recognition of feelings is good. After all, we can’t always opt to live on a bright, fluffy cloud. {Where is the growth and variety in that?}

Still, we can choose where we want to spend more of our time. Overall, I prefer the rosier lens. Maybe not the one filled with rainbows and unicorns, but the one where even the less enjoyable details serve some bigger, higher purpose.

Have you stopped to think about the stories you tell yourself? What kind of reality are you crafting in this very moment?

With those questions in mind, I am off to create a new story for myself, one where I get back in the driver’s seat and count my blessings for what they are worth. {A lot…}

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Living my Bohemian Writer Fantasy (a Couple Months at a Time)

A cross-over post from my other blog as I embrace life as a mom and writer. The scariest part of this decision? I have zero excuse not to write!

Leap of Mama

The sale-pending sign hangs outside our house. This leap is getting real! The sale-pending sign hangs outside our house. This leap is getting real!

Our house is in escrow. Half-packed boxes are scattered in every room. By all appearances, we are moving. Five years in one house is the longest I have lived anywhere. Ever.

It feels good to go through everything and make piles. Keep and give away. We own so much we never use. Going through it all is a good reflection on what matters.

I like stuff. Dresses, jackets, shoes, woven wraps. But I have more stuff than I use. More stuff than I stop to appreciate. More stuff than matters.

My favorite part of moving is finding the person who could use what we don’t. Baby swings, strollers, clothes. The list goes on. For most everything, there is a person in our life or sphere who will put the item to better use. It is like a puzzle.

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Finding Your Place as a Writer: Fiction vs. Non-Fiction

Like most people, the majority of what I read is non-fiction. Conservatively, I would estimate I read half a dozen novels per year and twice as many non-fiction books. This does not include blogs and online articles, slanting the balance even further away from fiction.

So, I cannot help but ask myself, which would I rather write? Shouldn’t I write what I spend my time reading?

True life is tricky. Non-fiction has its own rhythm, requires research, veracity. Moreover, it comes in all shapes and sizes, from blogs, to online magazines, to full-length books. It is hard to know where to start. Then there is the issue of telling other people’s stories. I have thought about writing the stories of my first students, but somehow their histories do not feel like they belong to me, even in those moments where I was present.

Then again, fiction feels increasingly artificial to me these days. I admire those of you who consistently enjoy it, losing yourself in a world you have created. I have been there, but I am having a hard time finding my way back. Every story I begin is a dead end. Expecting Happiness still floats in the recesses of my hard drive, but it too feels stale, like the cap and gown that hang in my closet but I will never wear again. I do not identify with it in the same way I did two and a half years ago.

I know part of my disruption in focus is the transformation my life is undergoing in becoming a mother, but I find myself wondering where I will begin again. I know I will not stop, but I want to put my energy where it matters most, where I am most likely to finish what I start, to write something worthwhile.

So, seasoned writers, I want to know– how have you discovered your niche? Did you dabble in everything? Have you gone through seasons of different genres? Or, has it been a simple love for the same type of stories from the beginning?

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Launching your book: Could you benefit from a beta audience?

In the past I have talked about beta readers as a way to test my book. Today I came across an article about an author who is publishing his book to a beta audience of 1,000 people before he even makes his work available to the public. While this size sample audience is likely too large for most self-published authors, it does raise an interesting idea.

By releasing a book to a smaller audience, there is an opportunity to build a buzz and a collection of ready-reviews before your book is available for purchase. Admittedly, I am more likely to buy a book with at least some reviews (even mediocre) than one with none at all. Likewise, it provides more opportunity for refinement as readers provide input before the book hits Amazon.

Now, I know many authors question the validity of seeking so many different opinions, but perhaps this method of a larger beta audience (be it 1,000 or 100 or 10) provides the opportunity for a consensus to form. While the opinion of one may not be extremely useful, the overlapped opinions of many start to hold more value, particularly if the audience is picked intentionally. In the article, the author seeks readers in his academic community, not just any old volunteer.

I am curious of your thoughts– do you see advantages to a larger beta audience? Is there some secret to successful marketing in this approach?

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Why do we blog?

A blog friend recently retired… Or, more likely, decided to step away from blogging for awhile. I both admire and understand his decision. Blogging can become a drain on time. The dopamine released when others comment, like, validate our thoughts has been proven to create online addiction. The instant validation temporarily beats the years we wrestle with other creative projects. And, sometimes, blogging can feel selfish, vain…

Still, I find reasons to stay. Blogging is an instant creative release, the kind of regular writing that makes you into a better writer. It provides a way to practice the craft in short bursts, to get the fingers moving, the mind thinking. It is a window into the real lives of other people I would never meet in my regular world. It is a source of friendship, camaraderie, inspiration. For me, blogging provides a way to be brave, to put myself out there, to stop caring so much what other people think. It is powerful medicine.

Even so, I sometimes feel tempted to do the same thing as my friend, to hit delete or disappear. Sometimes it feels like too much of me out in the world or like a waste of time when I could be doing something more productive. Then I think of blogging as my hobby. I enjoy it. Words help me process the world, connect, live. In that context, it is a much better hobby than many of the alternatives, at least for me. After all, the whole point of having hobbies is to take a break from always having to be productive, right?

What is blogging to you?

Much like riding shotgun while my husband races, blogging was one of those instances in life where I had to push myself to be brave.

I recently pushed myself to ride shotgun with my husband while he raced (his hobby of choice). Blogging is kind of the same thing. Sometimes it feels scary to put myself out there, but I still hold on tight and hit publish, and it gets less scary the more times around the track.

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To Love Me…

To love me is to love quiet, time spent deep inside of thoughts. I often retreat into myself, thinking, thinking, thinking. As a kid, some days I would disappear, still present but without words. I do the same thing now. When summer comes, I climb inside my laptop and write. My husband is patient for me to come up for air, to talk, to notice, to be. He understands this is part of me.

I made a rule for summer. Night is free from writing, free from technology, save a few minutes here or there if something important arises. Otherwise, I’d be gone for days and nights, but still here, in my chair, trapped in thought.

I’m getting better at balancing introvert with extrovert, but quiet is my natural habitat and summer is my friend.

Is it the same for all writers? Or, are some of you the other way around, more outside than in?

Solitude.

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Writing to Write and Write Some More

Yesterday’s post about blogging for a bigger audience left me grateful for my existing readers and reminded me why I write in the first place. I don’t want to be one of those blogs that only writes about one thing. That’s not me, or at least not me right now. I appreciate my freedom to write about blogging, writing, teaching, travel, dogs, health, music, yoga… Life.

At a recent baby shower, the mother of the mom-to-be asked me what my blog was about. I responded, “Life.” Instantly I realized this might not be the most compelling marketing on earth, but it’s true. I write about everything and I don’t want to change this. Reading your comments and King Midget’s post about writing for a mass audience reminded me that I like what I have already, I just get lured into my fantasy of what it means to be paid to write. But, forcing it doesn’t work, I get that.

Over the past year, I have watched some blogs “take off” but also lose their charm/intimacy in no longer being able to respond to all their comments. I don’t want this unless it also means that some other part of my writing life is being fulfilled, (ie: my book is successfully published). I guess all this reflection has just made me realize it’s all trade-offs. Yes, I want to grow as a writer in my reach and experiences, but at the moment spreading myself thin trying to grow my blog won’t guarantee any of this and is not the most efficient use of my time.

Glad you could help me get that pesky need to impress strangers out of my system, (at least for today…).

Happy Sunday!

Speaking of baby showers, I'm becoming a pro. Been to three in the last month. Yesterday's was for one of my childhood best friends. Crazy how life flies by.

Speaking of baby showers, I’m becoming a pro. Been to three in the last month. Yesterday’s was for one of my childhood best friends. Crazy how life flies by, (see, I can’t focus on one subject…).

In other writing news, I'm reading Patrick O'Bryon's Corridor of Darkness-- so far a fantastic read and a great way to readjust my eyes to my own writing as well.

In other writing news, I’m reading Patrick O’Bryon’s Corridor of Dankness— so far a fantastic read and a great way to readjust my eyes to my own writing as well.

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Blog Mechanics: Give me your secrets!

Hey you– person scrolling through your reader, I need you to click and comment on this one, even if you usually scroll right past me. According to WordPress there are 160 of you who “follow” this blog. In reality, most of my clicks come from reposting on my personal or writing Facebook, (thank goodness for stats), so I realize followers don’t automatically mean clicks.

This morning I filled out an application to blog for Wanderlust Festival this summer in exchange for free admission. As I described my writing attributes, I realized my blog is no longer growing at the same pace it was a year ago, which is why I need your help. At some point, I stopped caring so much about building a platform and started writing just to write. I hit that sweet spot of enough regular readers to be happy with my little blog community.

However, the more I put myself out there in other writing forums, the more I realize the numbers matter to someone– you know, the people deciding who to blog on their behalf, the people willing to give me cool stuff and help me get out there on other platforms. While I may not need droves of readers for my own validation, I apparently could use them to help launch myself as a writer in other forums.

So, I want your insight–

What types of posts are you most likely to click on when I blog? (Teaching, writing, yoga, life…)

Have you noticed any similar patterns for your blog in terms of larger numbers of new followers in the beginning and then fewer as time goes on? Last summer I would get 1-2+ followers per day, now I’m lucky to get a couple in a month. I pick up more when I like/comment on new blogs, but I used to have people find me regularly on their own. Does WordPress expose you more in the beginning? It is possible my writing has changed over the course of a year, but in general I feel my content is pretty similar.

These questions may sound silly, I just want to understand what I am working with here. I notice frequently that other blogs don’t show up in my reader until much later, often causing me to miss posts, which makes me wonder whether the same thing happens to my blogs. Likewise, I notice many bloggers come and go, so I assume some of my followers are now abandoned blogs. At the end of the day, all that really matters is that I like doing this, but I would also like to better understand the dynamics of platform building.

Happy blogging and thanks for your thoughts!

Blogging for Wanderlust would be pretty amazing...

Blogging for Wanderlust would be pretty amazing…

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