Mind and Body

Day 26 of the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway.

Today’s question: What do you do for your combined physical and mental health? Is there more you’d like to do? Describe your perfect hot, sweaty, writer mama workout.

My response: My physical and mental health workouts are completely intertwined. For fitness, I try to make it to the gym five days a week, and do a combination of yoga and balanced body classes, mixed in with walking and weights. When I’m on the elliptical trainer, or recumbent bike, or just walking around the track, I turn my mind to brainstorming for my next writing piece, which occupies my mind very nicely; in balanced body class or yoga, I try to clear my thoughts, something not always easy for me. But by far the activity most conducive to clearing my thoughts is gardening. While my hands are busy, my mind is free to roam and notice the small and large details of the world around me.

It’s not too late to join in! The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

Publish, Don’t Perish

Day 22 of the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway.

Today’s question: Last time I asked a question about self-publishing, it was about whether or not you would consider it. This time, let’s pretend you are considering it at some point in your career and it’s not so much about what you’ll self-publish as what you won’t self-publish. Give us an idea of what you will self-publish, what you won’t self-publish, and why.

My response: I think self-publishing would be a great route to go with for the poetry and haiku I write, since poetry is generally published in limited edition chapbooks anyway. And a collection of personal essays would also be a good candidate for self-publishing, because with the popularity of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, I don’t think there is much of a market for an anthology of personal essays by the same author, unless they are already famous. But beyond that? I guess if I felt I had an idea for a book with universal appeal, or more accurately, with the ability to attract publishers because of its potential to produce revenue, then I might try traditional publishing first. But in all, I don’t think I’d have a problem self-publishing anything.

It’s not too late to join in! The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

Kid Lit

Day 21 of the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway.

Today’s question: Have you ever considered writing for children? What topics would you cover or what story would your imagined children’s book tell?

My response: When my kids were younger, I would often find myself thinking about howI would love to write for children. But alas, I think that window has passed. I am not around young children enough these days to have a pulse on what works and what doesn’t in juvenile fiction. Should I be lucky enough to have grandchildren one day, perhaps that will all change.

It’s not too late to join in! The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

On My Own Feet

Day 20 of the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway.

Today’s question: Another question we’ve been asking our authors for you: how has writing impacted your self-confidence?

My response: I started to write again four years ago, shortly after a cancer diagnosis, when I joined a cancer survivors’ writing group. I think it is fair to say that my self-confidence was at the lowest ebb of my life. Don’t get me wrong—my oncologists were capable and tremendously supportive— but the process of going through treatment was somewhat dehumanizing. My cancer had become the focal point, not me. It took me over 3 years before I was finally ready to let go of my writing group, and continue writing on my own, and through other online communities I had discovered in the interim. While I can’t say that I am grateful I got cancer (I’m not!), I fully believe that through my writing and self-exploration, before, during, and after treatment, I have emerged a stronger person.

It’s not too late to join in! The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

Icing on the Cake

Day 15 of the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway.

Today’s question:Ah, query letters. You love writing them…right? Or maybe not. Tell us how you feel about writing queries and/or about selling your words in general. The truth now. No fudging.

My response:

The long and short of it is, I don’t really enjoy writing query letters. It feels too much like I’m selling myself, not my words. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t like the feeling that I’m selling my words, either. I write. Period. And although I gratefully accept compensation for my writing, that has never been the primary reason why I write.

My favorite method of submission is via an email or an online form, and perhaps that is one of the many reasons I feel so drawn to submit to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The submission process via their website is no muss, no fuss, and to receive compensation on top of the exposure of being published in a best-selling series is icing on the cake!

It’s not too late to join in! The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

Wait and Hope

Day 11  of the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway .

Today’s question: Roald Dahl arranged to have April’s piece published. What’s the nicest gesture someone else has made to support your writing? Or share a memorable response to your work that has stayed with you over the years.


My response:  When I first started submitting writing for publication, I have to admit it was kind of discouraging. I would submit, wait and hope, and often hear nothing back, even when I queried once or twice. “Why bother?” I started thinking. But I persevered because I really wanted not just to see my writings in print, but more importantly, to make connections with others. It was about this time that I started my blog. While originally it was just a place to capture the poems that I was writing in April for NaPoWriMo, soon I started getting feedback in the form of comments, some from people I knew in real life, and some from complete strangers. For the first time, I stopped feeling like my writings were going off into a void. Instead I had become an active member of a worldwide community of writers. I still love seeing my writing in print—who doesn’t?—but I equally value the wonderful give and take from readers who suddenly don’t feel like complete strangers anymore.

It’s not too late to join in! The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

With Style

Day 6  of the  Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway .

Today’s question: What’s your style? I’m not even going to clarify what I mean by “style” — just answer the question in any way you like (within the word count). Have fun with it. Write as creatively or straightforwardly as you like.

My response: It took me awhile to find my writing style. When I first starting submitting writings for publication four years ago, I used a scatter shot method for deciding where to submit, and tried too hard to have my style of writing fit in with those publications I targeted. It was an interesting exercise that I learned a lot from, and one of the takeaway messages was that I would rather not be published at all, then publish something that didn’t sound like me. Basically I write in the same style I talk in, and because of this, I think my “voice” comes through clearly. Since that first year, I’ve been very selective about where I submit, and make sure my writing style is a good match for the publication I am submitting to. Not too surprisingly, I’ve had many more prose and poetry writings published since then!

It’s not too late to join in! The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

Printing on Demand

Day 5 of the  Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway .

Today’s question: What do you think about self-publishing, would you ever do it? Have you considered it? More importantly have you checked out the wide range of options available these days?

My response: You know, I don’t have a problem at all with self-publishing. In fact two of my published works appear in POD anthologies; one was published by Booklocker and the other by Lulu. It seems to me the perfect solution for publishing for a work that is intended for perhaps a more limited distribution. Let’s face it. With the glut of books on the market, and more appearing in print and electronic versions every day, not every book is going to be a New York Times bestseller. I think POD is a very cost effective solution for creating books in a timely manner, that fill a certain niche. I’m not sure who coined the term “vanity publishing”; I don’t see any more vanity in wanting to be self-published than in waiting for one of the bigger publishing houses to discover you!

My two writings that appear  in POD anthologies:

  • “Mrs. Schwarz” in Cupcakes on the Counter: The Stoves & Stories of our Families, Memoirs and Recipes collected by RaeAnn Proost. Available from Booklocker and Amazon.
  • “rain soaked lawn” in pay attention: a river of stones, edited by Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita. Available from Lulu and Amazon.

It’s not too late to join in! The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

Stranger than Fiction

As if I didn’t have enough to do this month, I’ve just got to weigh in on the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May-Book Giveaway questions. This used to be the Writer Mama Back-To-School-Giveaway at one point, and what I enjoy the most about it is not only the chance  to reflect on my writing life and have an opportunity to win great books, but also the sense of community it provides. I’ve connected with far more other writers online in the past few years, than in “real life”. Not that online life isn’t real in its own way…. 😉

Today’s question: Which do you prefer writing: fiction or nonfiction? And why?

My response: Count me in on the nonfiction side. There was a time in my life where everything I read was fiction, so naturally I assumed I wanted to be a fiction writer when I grew up. But here I am at midlife, still waiting to grow up, and now what I want to read and write is nonfiction. I’ve been grappling with some pretty heavy issues in my life the last few years: a cancer diagnosis, losing both parents within months of each other, and children growing up and leaving home. Writing creative nonfiction satisfies the creative side of me, while still helping me to process the new reality I’ve found myself in, and make sense of it all.

The complete rules for this giveaway can be found here.

September Recap

Okay, so the weekly book reviews this summer didn’t quite pan out. The best laid plans always have a way of sounding better on paper than in reality. And having regular days for regular posts didn’t work so great either. I guess I just blog when I have something to say! But my new idea, is once a month to do a regular post of my kukai submissions/results and another of my writing accomplishments for the month. That much I think I can do. Here’s a list of my September writing accomplishments, in a nutshell:

  • Submitted three haiku to the September/October Sketchbook “fall trees” haiku thread.
  • Submitted to the September “leaves falling” Shiki Kukai (still awaiting results).
  • Took 1st place in the 17th Caribbean Kigo Kukai with my “bluebird” haiku.
  • Had a short essay appear the Oregonian special Komen section and on OregonLive, along with a (even briefer) quote on OregonLive.
  • Had a tanka  entitled “love” appear in the Read Write Poem NaPoWriMo anthology.
  • Won 2nd place in the Write On! Online Summer Challenge with my fiction story “Love at 30,000 Feet”.
  • Had a post “Without Pay” appear in the summer 2010 Oregon Humanities magazine.
  • Had a poem “End of Year Blues” be selected for the Top Ten list in the Poetic Asides monotetra challenge.
  • Was selected as WOW! Women on Writing Facebook Fan of the Week. (Bio and accompanying photos to appear this Sunday.)
  • And put plenty more writings into the pipeline, including submitting to a haiku contest, a query contest, a haiku journal, a hint fiction contest and  an essay contest.

All in all, a good month for writing!