Stay Tuned

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 21:

Today’s question, and my response:

When is the last time you tried something totally new in your writing career? What happened as a result? If you haven’t tried anything new lately, what could you try that’s new in order to jumpstart or refresh your career?

My philosophy for my writing life mirrors my philosophy of life in general. I believe change is the essential ingredient in life, no matter how uncomfortable that thought sometimes feels. To grow as a writer (and indeed, as a person), it is necessary to regularly put oneself outside one’s comfort zone and explore new ways of doing things. It’s too easy to lapse into mediocrity when one only sticks with “tried and true” techniques; the “safe” path is often not much fun. In my own writing life, I apply this philosophy by continually re-examining whether what I’m doing is working for me, and if not, making changes. I started off as a writer of personal essays. I then began to explore poetry. Lately, I’ve switched more of my focus to haiku and related forms, but still like to keep a hand in writing personal essays. I also used to focus almost exclusively on print publications, but now I’m equally open to online journals, because I really like their immediacy, and the opportunity for feedback. And I’ve posted daily on my blog since January 1st of this year. Where will all this lead me? Stay tuned!

Mission Accomplished

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 20:

Today’s question, and my response:

When is the last time you came up with a creative idea that created more success for your writing career? And if you haven’t come up with one yet, come up with one now and share it with us. You don’t have to have a book deal to always be coming up with fresh ideas for promoting yourself. I’ve been doing it from the get-go, and it’s not only refreshing for my readers; it energizes me, too.

When I first started submitting personal essays and poetry back in 2008, complete silence or a form rejection letter was the most common response I encountered. It seemed like you needed to be published to get published, the classic catch-22. So I developed a two-pronged approach to change all that. I studied the craft of writing, reading extensively in my genre, and taking workshops and classes. That was all well and good, and increased my acceptance rate, but I still lacked name recognition. So to rectify that, I started blogging, actively Facebooking and Twittering, leaving comments on blogs I enjoyed, and becoming part of a number of online writing communities. Mission accomplished! I am now getting published regularly in anthologies and poetry journals, and have amassed a wonderfully supportive and creative set of writer and poet friends from all around the globe.

Do the Math

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 19:

Today’s question, and my response:

Here’s some good math for grownup writers: at what point in your writing career will you begin to be profitable from your writing? At what point in your writing career do you hope to make significant money?

Right now I’m focusing on writing personal essays for anthologies, poetry for journals, and blogging. Money really isn’t a key factor. It is sweet when I get paid for an anthology, or win a contest that pays out, but that’s generally the exception—I write for satisfaction and self-expression these days, and also to connect with like-minded others. That being said, way back when I was pregnant with my daughter, my mom and I co-authored two math enrichment workbooks together. Not only was that satisfying on many scores (collaborating with my mom, using my undergraduate major, and being fun!), it was also lucrative. When my youngest child leaves the nest in a year, I’m seriously contemplating doing freelance technical writing again.

Right to Write

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 18:

Today’s question, and my response:

Carolina Slade has spunk, and she’s not afraid to use it. How will you have spunk in upholding and protecting your desire to write?

Writing is part of my daily life. I decided that 5 years ago, when with great trepidation, I walked into a writing group with nothing but the desire to write, and a blank spiral notebook. Like anything worthwhile in life, it takes time, determination, a strong sense of commitment, and excellent time management skills to balance writing with my other obligations. These include my family, volunteer commitments, a part-time job, and of course the everyday chores and responsibilities in life. I have to plan carefully to carve out the time to write (including index cards and a pen stuffed in my back pocket whenever I take the dog for a walk), but nobody is going to take my writing time away from me. Grrr!

Writing it Out

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 17:

Today’s question, and my response:

I use Tarot cards, as well as other techniques, to help me make big or difficult decisions in my writing career. How do you make challenging or difficult decisions in your writing career? Do you have a process you go through or use any tools or speak with anyone in particular when faced with an important choice? Maybe you are a journaler? Share your career-steering techniques.

Whenever I need to make a really big decision about anything at all, I take out a spiral notebook, grab a pen, and just write. I don’t worry about punctuation or other grammar, and certainly not about anyone else reading it. I write until I feel clarity on the issue. Often it takes multiple passes. The funny thing is, I often don’t even bother to go back and read what I wrote—it is the process of writing itself that helps me clarify my thoughts. Of course I also consult the significant others in my life for their opinions, but in the end, the decision is mine.

Writing Romance

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 16:

Today’s question, and my response:

Tell us about your romance with writing. Has it been tumultuous, steady, or unrequited? Describe your relationship to writing and the impact this tone has on your ability to succeed or not succeed?

I can best describe our relationship as on-again-off-again. I’ve always been the steadfast one, and he of little faith. Oh how I wanted to make it work in those early years, and as a consequence, tried way too hard. It was only after I backburnered our little romance, and gave myself a bit of distance, that I thought we might still have a chance together. So I gave writing one more try 5 years ago. I see that we’ve both grown up a bit in the meantime, and I really think that this time, we’re in it for the long haul.

Writing it Real

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 15:

Today’s question, and my response:

We have been talking about admirable qualities. So let’s keep going! Name a writer you admire and list his or her admirable qualities…on the page. What about this person’s writing makes him or her a total original?

I discovered Beverly Cleary as a child, and have always enjoyed her writing. After learning to read with Dick, Jane, and Sally, and later reading through the Bobbsey twin and Five Little Pepper series, it was kind of refreshing to encounter characters that I could actually empathize with, since they were never unrealistically well-behaved. Beezus. Ramona, and Henry Huggins seemed just like any normal kids I knew in real life, and I loved following their adventures as they got themselves into and out of scrapes. Writers like Cleary, Crockett Johnson, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Mary Calhoun, Lois Lensky, H.A. Rey, and others, seemed to have a good handle on not only what kids were like, but also on what they liked to read.


A Litany of Traits

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 14:

Today’s question, and my response:


Yesterday I asked you to share the qualities you appreciate about your mom. Today, I’d like you to share the qualities you appreciate about yourself. They can be related to writing or anything else.

In my writing life, I try to be: hardworking, organized, motivated, supportive of others, and reliable.

In my day to day life, my aims are to be all of the above, plus considerate, trustworthy, helpful, fair, honest, upbeat, a good listener, and open minded.

If this sounds a bit like a litany of the traits from the Scout Law, perhaps it’s because I was a Scout leader (Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts) for 14 years!


Writer Mom

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 13:

Today’s question, and my response:


It’s Mother’s Day, so tell us a story about your mom. Connect it to your writing, if there is a connection. Otherwise, you can tell us the qualities you appreciated about your mom.

I was surprised, when towards the end of her life, Mom told me she also had writing aspirations at my age. Mom a writer? And then I began to think. About the bedtime stories she wove for me, how she helped me with my high school essays by suggesting just the right turn of phrase, how she could always mesmerize whoever she happened to be talking to with her stories of everyday events, the job she took after she retired as a teacher, doing editing and freelance writing of math books, the two math books we co-authored together, the little books she wrote for my children when they were young, the stories she wove for them… Mom a writer? Of course!


Favorite Childhood Books

 2012 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway, Day 12:

Today’s question, and my response:


This seems like an appropriate question and some folks have already touched on the topic—give us your top five childhood books and why you loved them.

I’m not good at picking favorites. Let’s just go with the first 5 books I loved that I can come up with off the top of my head:

1. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster- This book defies categorization. It is just so clever, and I pick up something new, each time I read it.

2. The Pink Motel, by Carol Ryrie Brink- It’s been years since I’ve read this, but I liked the illustrations, and how it combined reality and fantasy for a fun story.

3. Peachtree Island, by Mildred Lawrence- The ultimate feel-good book, it made me want to pack my bags and move to a peach tree farm.

4. Half Magic, by Edward Eager- The perfect fantasy book. Who doesn’t wish they could find a magic talisman?

5. Wally the Wordworm, by Clifton Fadiman- My dad gave it to me when I was little, and that would have been enough of a reason to enjoy it, even without all the clever wordplay.

I’ll stop with these five, but I could go on and on…