apples to zippers

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 31:

Today’s question (the last for this year!), and my response:

Karen writes books about kick-ass women. What do you write about? You can answer broadly, narrowly, poetically, with a list (which you know I will love), coquettishly, even vaguely…however you like!

At the end of your life, what will folks say you were writing about or exploring in the body of work you leave behind?

I write about life. I never know exactly what I will write about until I write it. Since the start of this year, I’ve written about foxes, dreams, mom, college reunions, miscarriage, dad, trolls, tea, lanterns, fairies, kindergarten, hospice, writing group, bedtime stories, cancer, garden parties, moving, New Year’s resolutions, shooting stars, roses, robins, biopsies, rain, dandelions, snow, the moon, butterflies, starlings, frost, geese, cemeteries, precious stones, footsteps, dawn, twilight, clouds, spring, apples, rowboats, bridge pilings, cats, poodles, swings, matryoshka dolls, stars, road trips, elevators, knitting needles, crickets, earthworms, spiders, umbrellas, ginkgoes, old growth forests, banana slugs, contrails, grandma, cormorants, blueberries, ladybugs, wisteria, sunlight, tidepools, tea kettles, nachos, ants, pebbles, buttercups, zippers, puddles, palm fronds, x-rays, eucalyptus, suitcases, sandals, salted fish, and gnats. And that’s just for starters.



 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 30:

Today’s question, and my response:

The structure of The Writer’s Workout echoes the seasons: the movement of time over the year, the full cycle of creativity, and/or the seasons of a writer’s career. Come up with a creative structure for a book right now. It could be the movement of a day. The same time every year for many years. It could be anything! Lay it on us. If you don’t have an idea already, come up with one right now.

These days, I write mostly haiku, haibun, rengay and personal essays. I guess for haiku and rengay, I would go with the seasons, because that is a fairly traditional way to structure chapbooks in these gentres. For haibun and rengay, I write on a variety of topics, including parenting, nature, loss, aging, pets, and cancer. I’ve noticed most of my readers tend to focus in on particular topics, so for my longer works, I would tend towards a more topic driven collection, rather than a strictly chronological one.

Kid Lit

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 29:

Today’s question, and my response:

Lisa Schroeder writes books for middle grade kids and also for young adults. If you were going to write a children’s book what age would you write for and why? What would the book be about? Any themes or settings you know you would include?

When my kids were into picture books, that’s what I wanted to write. When they moved on to middle readers and young adult novels, that genre of writing appealed to me. Now that they’re grown, I’m back to wanting to write for other adults, which is what I currently do. Perhaps someday, though, I’ll write a kid’s book. Who knows?

Facing my Fears

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 28:

Today’s question, and my response:

In a recent interview about her new book with Emily Griffin, Allison Winn Scotch says that she is “deathly afraid of plane crashes.”

What are you deathly afraid of and could you write about it?

Have you ever tried? Why or why not?

After thinking it over and writing this comment, what do you think? Do you dare write about it?

For 3-1/2 years, I was in a writing group for cancer survivors. There wasn’t much we didn’t tackle. On one particularly memorable occasion, we were asked to make a list of things we were afraid of. That was the easy part. Death, physical pain, and loss of a loved one were right there at the top of my list. Then we had to pick our greatest fear and write about it. That was intense. I silently promised myself I would never come back to writing group, but the next week, there I was, ready to write again.

I write about all sorts of things these days. Some pieces are light and fun. Some are a bit worrying and uncomfortable. And some take me places I’d rather not explore. But it is the latter kind of writing that is perhaps the most necessary—if I learned anything from my cancer saga, and I think I did, it is that ignoring issues and problems don’t make them go away; in fact, quite the contrary is true. It’s only by working through fears that you can move past them. And writing about them is the best way I know to do this.


A Good Place

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 27:

Today’s question, and my response:

Mariam asks a good question. Who could ask for anything more? What something more would you like to ask for and how would that something more support your writing goals?

I suppose there’s always something more to ask for, but I think I’m in a pretty good place right now in my writing life.  I have the time, space, and motivation to write. My haiku and related forms are being published regularly in journals I highly respect. I’ve been doing well in poetry competitions, and have won some very personally meaningful awards. I am continually challenging myself to try new poetry forms, and submit to new journals. I have hit all my targets (thus far) for getting my personal essays published in a variety of venues. And best of all, I have discovered a wonderfully supportive online community of poets and writers, who enrich my life. So do I need to ask for anything more right now? No, I don’t think so!


Expert Advice

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 26:

Be sure to leave a comment on Christina Katz’s blog today for a chance to win an autographed copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms, containing my story “Expert Advice”.

Expert Advice

By Cara Holman

Shortly after my wedding, and long before my first child was even a twinkle in my eye, well-meaning friends and relatives began doling out parenting advice: “You don’t want to wait too long before getting started on your family. You never know how long it will take,” I heard from the relatives. From my younger friends, “Don’t be in a rush to have kids” was the constant refrain. No wonder I was confused!


Buy (or win!) the book, to read more. It is available at Amazon, or email me at cara[dot]holman[at]gmail[dot]com to purchase an autographed copy at a discounted rate.

Today’s question, and my response:

Easy to Love but Hard to Raise sounds like it could have been written about raising a writing career…do you ever feel this way? Is your writing career easy to love or hard to raise or both or neither? Does writing or not writing about your family make it more or less challenging?

The easiest (and most fun!) part of the writing life is the writing itself. Tracking submissions is surprisingly time consuming, and can get tedious at times. Trying to understand why one piece is accepted, and not another, can be frustrating. And finding the right balance between time spent writing and everything else can be a challenge. Yet still… the rewards far outnumber the inconveniences, and that’s why I keep writing, and keep submitting!

Ups and Downs

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 25:

Today’s question, and my response:

Is there some aspect of the writing life that doesn’t feel the way you thought it was supposed to feel? Is it normal to feel uncomfortable sometimes? How important is it to be able to embrace the ups and downs of the writing life without letting either the highs or the lows throw you off course?

I never thought I’d be writing nonfiction. Although I often conflate events, change names, tweak the details, and clean up the dialog, everything I write, from personal essays to poetry, is essentially nonfiction. And that feels very uncomfortable sometimes. When I was first starting out, I had an established writer tell me that while she thought I was a good writer, my essays were neither humorous nor inspirational. That baffled me, especially because she thought she was being helpful. What was she trying to tell me? Since my writing was good, then I could only conclude that I was a dull person, not worth reading about. Yikes! I’ve since put this little incident into perspective, and what I think now is this: any kind of writing, be it total fantasy, thinly disguised fiction, or nonfiction leaves you a bit vulnerable. The ongoing challenge is to believe in your own worth, and not blow the criticisms or the accolades out of proportion.


Just Different

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 24:

Today’s question, and my response:

Kristina brings up a very interesting word: normal. Does being a writer ever make you feel like you are not “normal”? Do you think other people are “normal”? How about other writers? Is “normal” a word that is typically used to describe writer mamas or is there something “abnormal” about us?

This is something that I think about a lot. Does that already make me not “normal”? I prefer to think of myself as “different”. I read a lot. I think a lot. I daydream a lot. I like to write a lot, and even when I’m not writing on a piece of paper or using my keyboard, I’m composing in my head. Last month, I interviewed 34 poets for my blog, and guess what? I discovered that pretty much all of them discovered their calling early on in life. So I think a writer is born that way, with fine-tuned sensibilities to both the natural world and human nature. If that makes us writers different from most other folks, then I like being different!

To Print or Not to Print

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 23:

Today’s question, and my response:

Have you thought about self-publishing? Will you? Why or why not? If yes, what do you think you will self-publish first? If you’ve already self-published, will you do it again? Why or why not? Tell us what you have learned about self-publishing.

When I first started writing, I think I had a bit of an obsession with not just getting published, but getting published in paper and ink books. I’m over that now. I guess I felt that if something was in print, it was therefore more “permanent”, and also, that more people would read it. To be quite honest, I have no idea what the sales figures are for any of the print anthologies and journals my work has appeared in. And even less of an idea whether owners of said media actually read my essays or poetry.

As a consequence, I am far more open to employing a variety of approaches for disseminating my writings, including blogging them on my own blog, doing guest posts for others’ blogs, submitting to online journals, and using other social media. I am totally open to both self-publishing, or traditional publishing, if I should get so lucky, but not until I feel I have amassed enough of a polished collection of work (personal essays, haiku, and haibun in particular), to make sense to try to publish. I’m getting there!


By Any Other Name…

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 22:

Today’s question, and my response:

Children ask where babies come from, but writer mamas should ask, “Where do awesome titles come from?” Where do you think awesome titles come from? How do you find yours? If you are unsure, share some titles you think are brilliant. (Don’t forget: 50 words is the minimum comment length).

Titling a piece of writing is always my final step, whether writing a poem, a blog post, or a 2000 word personal essay. I liken it to getting to the dessert stage, after a particularly satisfying repast. Sure I always have a working title, but as I like to tell my writing students, I can’t put the finishing touches on the title until I know exactly what it is I have just written about!

A title should draw the reader in, and intrigue them enough make them want to read the piece, but should also accurately reflect some angle of the writing, so as not to be misleading. Some of the favorite blog post titles I’ve come up with from this month’s book giveaway are: Stay Tuned, Mission Accomplished, Do the Math, Right to Write, No Guilt, Way Fun, No Reply, and Total Surrender.