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There was a day in my past when I truly believed that I needed to know how to do everything. And then I became a mom. I realized I knew nothing.

Nadda.

No thing.

I wish I had read Deliver Me: Confessions of Motherhood, a compilation of essays edited by Laura Diamond. Mothers are a species unto their own. Stories of labor and delivery are bonds of friendships – those personal battlefields of brining forth life when we struggle against the pain to receive the joy of motherhood. And the pain doesn’t stop there… as I’m typing this, there is a four-year-old loudly singing as he rifles through the box of Legos for just the right piece. In the background, my three daughters are all practicing their instruments. And now the dog is barking. As much as I would like to run screaming from the house, I also know that these days are short and precious. There will be a day when my house is too quiet and I will crave this chaos. I wish I could bottle up this noise so I can savor it on a day when I would truly appreciate it.

Laura Diamond understands this. Deliver Me is just the beginning. This girl is going places! Watch for her name. This might be the first time you hear of her, but it certainly won’t be the last!

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  1. Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood is one of those books that make the reader laugh and cry. What was the inspiration behind the project?

 

The inspirations for this project were my two little boys, and the talented writers of the L.A. Poets & Writers Collective.

As a stay-home mom with two little boys, I yearned for a creative outlet. I wanted to make something, other than sandwiches. I was lucky to be in a writing class with members of the L.A. Poets & Writers Collective, taught by the poet Jack Grapes. Every week in class, students read from our most recent work. And every week I was blown away by what I heard. Some writers, like me, wrote about parenthood. I thought, why not put some of these together to capture many voices on the same life-changing experience of parenthood. I put out a call for submissions, and the stories started coming in. I chose two of my own pieces, and selected work from nineteen other women to create this anthology.

Headshot, hi res

 

  1. I noticed on your blog that you list (and presumably support) several non-profit organizations that help women and the disadvantaged – One Billion Rising, Kiva.org, and A Window Between Worlds – to name just the first three listed. How are you involved with these organizations? What is it that drew you to include them on your blog? What is the ‘Call to Action’ you hope for from your blog readers?

Growing up, social action was part of our family’s life and values. My parents were always involved in politics, and that naturally became part of my world view. In Judaism, “Tikkun Olam,” or healing the world, is central.

I thought that a blog about motherhood should highlight organizations that help women and girls. I chose organizations that I have personally donated to because of their mission and their effectiveness. One Billion Rising, for example, is a multinational movement started by the playwright Eve Ensler, focused on ending violence against women worldwide. A Window Between Worlds, brings art therapy to women and families in Los Angeles who have suffered domestic violence. Kiva.org makes microloans to women in developing countries, so that they can start small businesses. Evidence shows that when women thrive, their families and villages benefit.

The organization I am most committed to is PATH Beyond Shelter, which is dedicated to helping homeless families get back into permanent housing, find employment, and rebuild their lives. Every mother should have a place to tuck in her children at night, no exceptions. I joined their Board when my younger son was one year old, after I had met a homeless woman with a child his age. Over $2,000 in proceeds from sales of Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood has been donated to Beyond Shelter. Also, my forthcoming novel, Shelter Us, touches on the plight of homeless families.

 

  1. As the editor of a book dedicated to mothers, would you share one of your favorite stories from your own experience as a mother? (happy, sad, touching… you choose ;)

 

My mother-in-law says, Men tell war stories; women tell birth stories. Here’s one more.

Contrary to public perception, just because you’re nine months pregnant doesn’t mean you know the first thing about giving birth. Thank goodness the baby knows what to do. You just have to stay out of the way.

Still, when I was nine months pregnant with my second child, you might think I’d be well versed in the experience. Not so. Even though I had given birth once, I had no idea what it felt like to go into labor. I had been induced the first time. So it was with some bewilderment that I said to my husband one Sunday morning, the day before my due date, “I feel…funny.”

“Are you in labor?”

“How should I know?”

So we went on with our day, taking our 3 ½ -year-old son to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, with its ponies and live music and, of course, farmers. An hour later, I felt “funny” every twenty minutes.

“I think we should go home,” I said.

“Can I have ice cream?” our son said.

“Sure,” my husband said, prompted by guilt over bringing a new baby into our family, as well as by a hankering for Phish Food.

They sat in Ben & Jerry’s enjoying their cones. I paced outside. I felt like an octopus was inside me, pressing on all my parts and levers, seeing how things worked. I had to keep moving to stay a step ahead of it.

When we got home, I called my parents who lived nearby to let them know it was time for them to come over. They came, as did my sister and nieces. They were all there to care for and play with our little boy so we could scoot out to the hospital to give him a brother.

As we said our excited good-byes, my little boy had these parting words: “Mommy, play with me.” He sat on the hardwood floor surrounded by wooden Thomas-style trains, with dozens of track pieces spilled around him. That wood floor had never looked so hard and unwelcoming. “Play with me?” he asked again. How could I say no to this child who I loved more than anything in the world, who would soon be second fiddle to a needy newborn?

My husband stood at the door holding my bag. My parents, concerned for their own baby, said, “Go on, we got this covered.” I looked from them to him. The sweet green eyes, the crown of brown ringlets – how to resist? I wobbled over, sat down on the unforgiving floor, and played trains until the next contraction lifted me off my feet and out the door.

 

  1. What kinds of marketing techniques have you implemented? What has worked…what hasn’t?

 

Book readings! These are the most fun, and when you have 20 authors in one book, each has a long list of friends to invite to different venues. It’s important to only go places where you know you have enough friends or family to show up. I approached independent bookstores in cities where I have lots of family and friends, and they were all welcoming. I used direct e-mail to get people to come, as well as some giveaways.

 

  1. Your bio on your blog mentions that you didn’t enter the world of adulthood seeking a career as a writer, but have always kept a journal. I have two questions: First, what drew you to keep a journal? Second, what led you to writing? (was it a hobby or did you start writing with a mission in mind?)

 

My first journal was a Hello Kitty diary, in which I wrote about the daily travails of a fourth grader. I still have it. I was pretty funny. The next journal I had was a gift to me when I was 13, from one of my mom’s oldest friends. That marked the beginning of my adolescent journal-keeping, a practice that kept me sane and centered through high school and college. Writing in my journal was a way to sort out the tangled emotions of adolescence. To figure out who I was and what I wanted.

I loved the way I felt when I wrote, the way it awakened my senses and powers of observation, both to the outside world and my inner self. I kept writing a journal through law school and while practicing law, but never thought of it as something more than a hobby.

When my first son was 2 ½ years old, I decided to pause my law career. I realized with excitement that maybe that would also give me more time to write. I wrote whatever was on my mind – which was a lot mom-stuff and kid-stuff and nap-stuff. Frankly, I was disappointed in myself. I thought I should be writing about something more substantial, more worldly. That is, until another writer, who was not a parent, told me that my writing brought them into a world totally unlike their own life. So I said, to heck with it, I’m a woman with two little kids, and this is what’s on my mind. I write what I write. And the rest of the book unfolded.

My muses came in human form, my two boys. Before they were born, I was a lawyer who had always liked writing. After they were born, I became a writer. I recently returned to practicing law, but I’ve kept writing. Now I do all the things I love: lawyer, writer, mother.

 

  1. What writing resources do you find valuable? (conferences, books, magazines, blogs?)

One of my current favorite websites/blogs is Writer Unboxed. Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird is a favorite, as are Carolyn See’s The Literary Life, Stephen King’s On Writing. One of my favorite writing resources is to read great writers.

 

  1. What snippet of wisdom – a quote or a saying your parents spoke frequently – would you like to share to inspire?

 

My parents didn’t speak aphorisms, unless you count “What am I, chopped liver?”

My Dad did often say to me and my sister when we were bickering about something silly, “Remember, girls, you are the only sister each of you will ever have. You will be sisters for the rest of your life.” He meant, you are family, you must value and support each other. She is one of my biggest supporters, and Writers need as much moral support as we can get. I now tell my own children, “Remember boys, you have one brother for the rest of your life,” to remind them to stick together and support each other.

My parents always made sure I knew that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. That didn’t mean it would be easy. But believing in yourself is necessary to stick with a project until you achieve it.

 

Upcoming Events:

My debut novel, Shelter Us, will be published in June 2015 by She Writes Press. I look forward to sharing more events then!

 

Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and select Indie stores.

www.ConfessionsofMotherhood.com

Twitter @LauraDiamond1

 

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“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Plato

This is why I love literature. Examining lives. Reading allows me to live beyond my own skin and time, stepping into a different world, exploring what it’s like to be someone else, with different expectations, different family, different abilities.

When I meet people who don’t read, I feel nervous. Not only do they not appreciate the hobby I hold dear to my heart, they also are lacking all the experiences gained from reading stories, biographies & autobiographies. They know nothing of making friends, or the art of communication, and becoming an influential person because they’ve read nothing on how to be great. The political world, the history of the world, the scientific studies…all are lost on those poor souls who don’t read.

But they watch TV and are informed, they say.

Yeah, right. That’s like saying, “I watched a documentary about Adolf Hitler and now know everything I need to know about leadership.”

Books, be it on paper or an electronic device, offer a different type of education. It requires the reader to do just one thing – read. In our society of multi-tasking – one of the worst things to happen, in my opinion – reading requires stillness, peace, and dedication. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or studying for a greater depth in understanding about a particular subject, reading is a focused skill that is the heart and soul of the human race.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Plato

It’s likely that Plato wasn’t talking about reading when he wrote this. I imagine that he is expressing a need for the individual to spend time each day reflecting on our actions, words, conflicts, triumphs and plans for the next day.

The advantage to adding reading to this examination of life is looking into other hearts, minds, and goals of other people. Whether they are fictional or historical, the nature of the human heart is to find happiness. Without a proper examination of life, how can we discover what will make us happy?

A few years ago, my two oldest daughters read Pride and Prejudice. It’s fiction, not a scientific study. It’s not an adventure or a fantasy. It’s a novel about manners. It’s an examination of different types of women and their role in family, society, and grace. From that reading, my daughters decided to practice self-control when talking to boys, lest they sound like Lydia and end up with her lot in life…which wasn’t much. My daughters were captivated by the language, the intelligence of their communication, the patience they exercised. They saw the happiness the characters gained at the end of the story and knew that that’s what they wanted for themselves.

In my hopes of raising daughters, I have often spoken (and try to model) self-control, patience and the virtue of purity. But my words are just words; and while actions do speak louder, there is something about it being spoken by a parent that renders the lesson moot. It takes an outsider to cause the lessons to stick; someone who has earned their trust, someone who doesn’t tell them to pick up their dirty socks or to make their beds. Outsiders can, for better or worse, teach children far better than parents. If the outsiders are the characters from books, readers can extend their experiences, their knowledge, and their friends (personally, my greatest lessons in friendship came from books – the most difficult lessons from my own life.)

In the moments spent between the lines of a story, readers can practice behaviors without actually hurting anyone. The behaviors of characters, of historical figures, even of creatures in books (think Gollum), shadows our own. But what do we do with those characters in our reality?

In the Catholic faith, we are encouraged to do a nightly examination of conscience: How did I do today? Did I live for God? Whom did I serve? What did I sacrifice? What did I give? Did I spend time in prayer and with scripture? Where did I fall short? What can I do differently tomorrow?

Regardless of faith, these same questions crack open a whole new way of looking the way people live. As we examine our days, we discover our weaknesses. Knowing our weaknesses leads us to overcome them in strengths. Exercising our strengths allows us to understand that we need proper information to become better people. Better information leads us to Wisdom. Wisdom will save the world.

An exercise that fell short:
 Years ago, in high school I believe, I was asked where I thought I would be and what I would be doing in 10 years. I don’t remember my answer specifically, but I’m sure it was something to the tune of: good job, happily married, a baby, nice car, nice home, annual vacations.

If I ask myself that question now – Where do I see myself in 10 years? – I’m looking at a 50-something year-old woman. While the question is a starting point, it doesn’t examine the deeper questions: What do I want for that 50-something year old woman? Am I robbing that older woman of her gifts and talents by the things I’m doing today? What I can save for her that will help her in the future? What can I do that will make that older lady happy, secure, and strong?

In examining my future, I can focus my plans for today. If I picture myself in 10 years as a woman living completely off the choices I make each and every day from now until then, how different do you think I will choose to live?

What I do today will determine my success in the future. My goals for today, this week, next month, and the coming year will all add up into something great…or, if they exist in an “unexamined life”, will lead to a failed existence.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Plato

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This blog is usually about writing, but on occasion I throw in a post about homeschooling or faith. Today? Self-esteem and how it influences what we do or don’t do.

Something occurred to me a few months ago…I disciplined myself enough to write a book. Heck, not just one book, but nine so far. Why am I not carrying that over to other aspects of my life?

And so I began writing about it. Shocking, I know.

I came to this conclusion:

Life is hard. Get over it and make your dreams real. (cue Disney music)

In other words: Take the tough stuff, feel it, explore it, and cry about it. Then make a plan and move on.

After practicing the ‘deal with it and walk forward’ plan, I began to look at my reflection, my body image, my children, and my house. In that order. Interesting.

I’ve blamed so many other things -diabetes, stay-at-home-mom, too tired, no gym membership, etc. – in my life I wasn’t happy with, I wasn’t giving the joyful areas of my life their due attention. My family, being a mom, being able to stay home, a husband and family that supports our homeschooling, amazing friends, my faith…the list goes on. Sad how body image can become such a wedge to everything else.

I saw myself first. Self centered me. I was not as thin as I wanted to be, but passably feminine. Because I have three daughters, it’s important that my body image and my ‘self-speak’ are all positive. I don’t want to feed them negative images of women, spiritually or physically. After all, is every woman you love able to grace the covers of magazines? No? Really? Same here. I won’t be on the cover of Fitness or Vogue, but in my kids eyes (and hearts) I am fit and vogue. Yes, I rock these yoga pants!

See that? Positive self-speak.

Say it out loud, believe it, and others will follow.

That is, after all, how politics work. For better or worse, it rocks a nation.

Part of changing how I see myself has impacted how my children see me. I have not talked about those last few pounds I need to lose, but I have talked about training for a 5K and then a 10K. My daughters run cross country, so this is something to which they can relate. We train together, talk about running pace, running shoes, trails and sports drinks. This week, we all went swim suit shopping…and it was fun! I actually liked almost every suit I tried on. They didn’t all look great, but I saw beyond my body’s short comings and could see my strength. It’s all about perspective:

If you train for it, the results will come.

The biggest lesson on body image came from my three-year-old son: At Barnes and Noble, as he played with the train set, a little girl joined him and they played for over fifteen minutes without any conflicts. (For parents who have ever monitored the train table, you know what a miracle this is.) As we left, my son whispered to me, “She is so beautiful!” I asked, “What makes her so pretty?” In his preschool ways, he answered, “Her smile.”

Pow! Truth!

The other area I struggled with was my house. Being a homeschooling family in a fairly small house, it’s been difficult for me to keep things clean and clutter free. I really wanted this to change. It’s hard to think in a mess. I don’t have a desk. Instead I use the dining room table and sometimes a lap desk. How could I possibly carve out a ‘writing space’ where I could truly become the writer I want to be.

The reading corner...favorite place to write.

The reading corner…favorite place to write. It’s clean in the picture, but today there is a pile of Legos on the floor.

I started with my heart. If I want this dream of writing to be real, I needed to make it happen. A desk won’t magically make the words come to life. Only I can do that.

Then I moved to the house and the de-cluttering. One room at a time, we attacked the corners, the papers I’ve picked up and set down a dozen times, the stacks of books. Once we had the room just how we wanted it, I took a picture. Now when I ask my children to clean the reading corner, the kitchen, the bathroom, the family room, there is a picture to refer to so everything is done properly.

The result? Cleaner house, faster runner, happier me. Happier me, happier kids, cleaner house. I’ve also written and read more in the past three months than ever before. The organized home, the positive thinking, the focus on forward movement all pays off.

This process has brought to mind five things we can do to change our thinking from self-defeating to forward thinking:

1. Identify where you struggle and be honest about it.

Journal about it. You can burn the pages when you are finished writing, but have a heart-to-heart on paper about areas of your life that are hurting.

2. Identify aspects of your life that you are good at and feel positive about.

Make a list and list everything you like: eye color, your name, your legs, your wide hips. Maybe you make kickin’ desserts or love to cook for others. That’s a huge gift…and if that’s true, I want to be your friend!

3. Focus on those positive things and figure out how to carry that over to the areas where you struggle.

I wrote books. I disciplined myself to make the time to sit down and write. Then I edited. Now I’m learning to carry that discipline over to exercise. Everything I do well in writing can help me do well in other areas of my life. The same is true for you. Explore that.

4. Don’t ever give up. Ever. Giving up on making changes – be it weight loss, career stuff, making a dream come true – only results regret.

In a journal, write a letter to yourself a year from now and talk about all the things you hoped you accomplished. Try writing a letter to who you were ten years ago. Keep it positive, but identify what is holding you back. Give that younger version of yourself some advice. Then take that advice. In ten years, the letter you write should be very different.

5. Remember that you didn’t get to this point in one day, one week, or one month. It will take time to make the changes happen and to make them real. Be patient with yourself.

This was the best advice I was given by a dear friend: Take it day by day, but move forward every day. This applies to so many different people in so many different ways. Sometimes it’s my house. Other times it’s diabetes. Today it was remaining calm with my son. No matter what, take it day by day.

There’s more for me to work on – next on my list is meal planning. It’s 4:30 right now and I have no idea what to make for dinner.

Baby steps.

 

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I’m working on marketing (thinking of ways I can promote my writing and my public speaking) and flipping through the pages of Writers Market 2014 looking for places to submit Ceiling Tiles (also known to my family as Gravity…a book in need of a better title :) )These are tasks that require as much creative writing as writing a novel. There are four things that are keeping me from completing my to-do list: my kids.

Around me is noise. Loads of resounding noise. There is a 3-year-old son in the bath tub singing with the 12-year-old daughter who volunteered to give him a bath (and is therefore in the running for daughter-of-the-year award). The other two daughters are practicing their instruments; a viola and a flute. This is the noise of my life. Whether it’s music or laughter or screaming (joyful or frustration…take your pick), there is a constant noise in my life.

Despite promises to myself to remain calm, by 2:00 PM I’m ready for ear plugs. I prayerfully try to begin each day with a request to God to not allow my name to weigh me down.

The incessant, “Mom, I can’t reach…

Mom, where is my…

Mom, he won’t stop…

Mom, I’m so hungry…

Mom, I don’t like green beans…

Mom, I need…

Mom, why…

Mom, your hair is turning gray…

Mom, where are you going?

I fondly remember an evening in December of 1999 when I was supremely pregnant with my oldest daughter. I was bloated and emotional and suffering from gestational diabetes. I wondered aloud what the house would sound like with a baby, then a toddler, then a baby and a toddler. It was anticipation of those ‘little feet’.

Fast forward almost fourteen years…I can tell you what a house sounds like with a teenage daughter, two tweens, and a three-year-old boy…loud. Just plain loud. As I’m typing this, the 3-year-old is now out of the tub, in clean pajamas (because I never dressed him today), and making excellent motor sounds with his truck on the table. That award winning 12-year old is now sawing away on her cello. All the girls play their instruments well, I just wish they were playing the same song.

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I’d love to tell you that I love all the noise. I’d be lying. There are moments (sometimes full days) when I would give my left lung to have 12 hours of peace and quiet, to listen to nothing but the sound of my own breathing, to run to the grocery store in the car and not the 8-seater truck.

My son, in response to my request for a little ‘peace and quiet’ brought me a plate of legos mixed with green pattern blocks…”It’s a big serving of Peas and Quiet.” God bless him!

Alas, there is no lesson to this post. I have no silver lining to offer because the sound pollution in my house prevents me from embracing it. What I can offer is understanding to all the frustrated moms out there. You are not alone and I’m praying for you all right now!

I will also remind myself to breathe in those quiet moments as if they were my last breaths. The stillness of night has become my sanctuary and I pray that your night is filled with sleeping children, content husbands, peaceful breezes, and bladders the size of a 2-liter.

Until the kids are asleep, I’m setting aside Writers Market to go to the family room and build with Legos and drive trucks across the floor. Happy Parenting to All! And to all a good night!

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I’ve spoken to a few groups recently about the importance of journaling not only as a means to organizing thoughts, but as a family treasure. Several years ago, my sister-in-law passed away. One of the most cherished things she left behind was her journal. We all enjoyed flipping through the pages, seeing her handwriting and getting inside her head. It’s also like having a conversation with her.

Paper doesn’t forget.

writing pics 009

Journaling isn’t just about the ‘Dear Diary’ level of writing. Journaling is, on every level, a conversation. If you are interested in writing for your children and grandchildren, much like Graypay does in Unforgettable Roads, here are a few pointers:

1. Relax. It’s just a notebook and a pen.
2. Don’t over spend. It’s not because of the leather bound beauty of a $50.00 journal that it will be treasured. It’s all to do with the words within.
3. Relax. I sense your shoulders tensing.
4. Writing in a journal takes three things: Pen, Paper, and Commitment.
5. Keep the journal visible. You will be more likely to commit to writing if you see it.
6. Set a time each day (10 minutes is enough) to write.
7. You don’t have to be a writer to write in a journal. Begin with a prayer to be honest and just write how you talk. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. It’s the story, the memory and the lesson that are important.

What do you write about, you ask?

1. What’s the earliest memory you have?
2. Describe your parents.
3. What did your bedroom look like when you were 16?
4. Who was your best friend in second grade? In high school?
5. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did that happen?
6. How did you meet your spouse?
7. What did your parents think of your spouse the first time they met?
8. What was/is your favorite holiday tradition?
9. Did you have any pets growing up? If you have pictures of them, add it to your journal.
10. Looking back over your life, what was your best day? Can’t pick one? Write about them all over the next few days.
11. A little negative, but important: what was your worst day?
12. Did you play a musical instrument? If not, what did you want to learn to play?
13. What are the lyrics to your favorite song?
14. Who was the first person you ever danced with? (parents not included!)
15. First kiss?
16. Wedding day? When, where, what you wore…add a picture.
17. The first funeral you ever attended…who was it?
18. Share an embarrassing moment.
19. Write about a valuable lesson you learned the hard way.
20. What books have you read that you think other should read?
21. Favorite movies?
22. What stories do you wish you had from your parents? Write that version of your own life.

Years ago, I met a mom who had five sons. Instead of spending the evening in front of the TV, she, with the help of her family, recorded the day’s events in a journal. I thought that was a good idea. I’ll admit, even as a writer, I never made that a daily event and oh! how I regret that.

It’s not too late. Start writing now.

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You are invited to join a new blog carnival geared toward
parents who are writers

    folks who raise little souls,
    who sacrifice sleep for cuddles,
    who are insanely addicted to the written word.

parents and writers icon

Themes for this Blog Carnival can include: Writing amongst legos, tools and strategies you use to find time to write, resources you’ve discovered, writing for children, writing while children run amuck, and any recipe that is easy to assemble thus giving us more time to write (I’m a huge fan of my crock pot).

For more details, visit the Parents and Writers Blog Carnival Page. Deadline for submissions are the 15th of each month. The Blog Carnival will be posted at this blog on the 20th.

If you have any questions, please email me at JessicaSchaubWrites@gmail.com

Happy Writing!
Jessica

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I laughed out loud when I received this award…I just lost my temper when things in my house didn’t go as planned. That is the total opposite of versatile :) And maybe that’s why I LOVE writing – everything can be edited for content and polished to perfection before anyone reads it. Like airbrushing ideas.

And now for my second confession: I received this award a few weeks ago but haven’t done anything with it because of the number of blog I need to award this to – 15!

But before I get to the rules and awards, I want to thank Gwen Bristol @ http://www.GwenBristol.com for the nomination! We met on LinkedIn and she has become a source of encouragement, support, and really good stories. (The Night Ones Legacy is excellent!)

versatileblogger111

Versatile Blogger Rules (If you choose to obey them)
•Display the Award Certificate on your website
•Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented your award
•Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers (I’m changing it to 7 blogs. Why? Because I have to share 7 things about myself and 7 is the number of completion and perfection.)
•Drop them a comment to tip them off after you’ve linked them in the post
•Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

Here are the seven bloggers that I choose to present this award to:

http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com/ This girl has spirit!
http://frenchwellness.wordpress.com/ Very unique. I never know what to expect :)
http://5kidswdisabilities.com/ Inspiring!
http://shirleysquirrely.wordpress.com/ Just plain fun writing
http://lorieb.wordpress.com/ I’m always looking for wheat-free ideas
http://michelleproulx.wordpress.com/ She’s funny and spirited and adorable
http://quirkybooks.wordpress.com/ Talk about versatile! Sandra covers it all!

Now for seven things about myself:

1. I homeschool my children and I love it! I didn’t start this journey out of any religious crusade; I simply wasn’t ready to put my oldest daughter in all-day kindergarten and I knew I could teach her at home. We tried it for a year and decided to do it again. That was 8 years ago.

2. I have Type 1 Diabetes. It sucks. I give myself insulin injections every day. The silver-lining? I eat really healthy and I’m in good shape.

3. I turned 40 last year. Hey, it’s a milestone so we celebrated!

4. I have four children: three biological daughters and one adopted son. They are all beautiful and much loved. God knew what he was doing when he gave me these children: they stretch and fill my heart in many ways. (Did I mention my youngest was 2? He’s stretching me!)

5. I didn’t catch the reading bug until 7th grade when I was given The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende for Christmas. I read it in 3 days. I devoured every book I could after that, but nothing captured me like that again until I read The Counte of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas.

6. My favorite snack is apple slices and almond butter.

7. I have a second blog that I started a few weeks ago for diabetics: http://www.NaturallyDiabetic.com It’s helping me stay focused on eating and exercising well, keeping my meals planned, and encouraging my children to take pictures of everything we eat so I can post it :)

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When people learn that I have four children, they smile. It’s more than the average two kids and far less than the typical Catholic family of ten. When they learn that I homeschool my children, they are impressed (or worried that my kids will be social freaks). And then when they discover that I also write, they slap their forehead and walk away. “How can you possibly do all that?”

Easy! The same way anyone else manages to do the things they love. I make time for it.

Step #1 – Set Weekly Goals.
Know what you want to accomplish. Personally speaking, I include writing, exercise and household chores into one list. My favorite part of accomplishing the goals is crossing them off. It’s a little thing to do, but it means that my time has been well-spent and I have something to show for it.

Step #2 – Schedule Time to Achieve Those Goals
I can’t tell you how many people will tell me that they want to do this or that, but they don’t have the time. I want to lose ten pounds…I want to be a writer…I want to homeschool…I want to train for a 5K…but I work full-time, I get home too late, I can’t afford it, I can’t.
Bah! I say! Those are lame excuses and they need to be tossed out like last year’s trash.
Wake up 20 minutes earlier and read or write. 20 minutes isn’t going to completely deprive anyone of sleep, but using that time effectively can bring about great results.
Have an hour for lunch? Walk for 30 minutes or write for 45 minutes.
Do you watch 2-3 hours of TV every night? Quit. Work toward your goals instead.

Step #3 – Accomplish tasks/goals in ‘Chunks’ of Time.
There are times when little snippets of time are all you have. (see Post-it writing for more). To truly make progress toward your goals, you will need to invest time.
I’m very good at planning meals and I can grocery shop on a dime, but when it comes to actually making the meals I fail. The solution for this came to mind as I looked at how I schedule several hours a week to write; therefore I should do the same for meals. I now plan a week’s worth of meals based on the sales at our local grocery store and shop. When I come home, instead of putting the meat in the freezer (because at 4:00pm on any given night everything will still be frozen) I put the meals together then freeze them. Luckily for me, my family loves casseroles and crock pot dinners, but mostly, I think they are just happy to have regular meals. I spend hours planning, shopping and preparing meals, but making the meals ahead of time keeps my afternoons free. It takes a few minutes to turn on the oven and slid a 9×13 in than to start from scratch.

Step #4 – Professionalize Your Goals
Every professional has business hours. Writers, parents, homeschoolers, and any one striving to accomplish a goal needs the same. I have every Thursday afternoon to write. It’s a guarenteed 3-4 hours of uninterrupted writing time. When I set my goals for the week, Monday through Wednesday include writing tasks that will make Thursday more efficient.

Step #5 – Have Fun!
If writing is your goal, then keep it fun. If you are a parent, it’s not like you can quit. Just find the ways to keep it fun. Same with exercise. Change up your workout. Jog on Monday, lift weights on Tuesday, swim on Wednesday, yoga on Thursday…you get the idea.
The enjoyment-factor of any task helps keep motivation high. For example, one of my least favorite tasks is changing out summer clothes for winter clothes. To put much of the work on my children (it’s their clothing!) and to keep it fun, I pull out the new season of clothing and set up a store in the living room. They all ‘shop’ for what they want, but have to turn in clothing for GoodWill – a one-for-one exchange. They shop, the closets are cleaned out, everyone is happy.
In writing, the enjoyment comes when I schedule in weeks to not write, but to read as many books as possible. My record is 8 books in one week.
When I’m trying to keep my writing fun, I will switch up stories, read something I wrote years ago (and laugh), or find a new place to try writing – libraries and coffee shops are great, parks are more interesting, in the middle of the mall during Christmas is a blast! So much drama :)

And remember, there are 24 hours in each day. Minus 8 hours of sleep, that leaves 16 hours of productive time. Use it well!

tick-tock...this is only a caption. Stop reading and start working on your goals!

tick-tock…this is only a caption. Stop reading and start working on your goals!

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Just like every other human being, I am stunned by the violence of last Friday’s school shooting. As a writer, I’m supposed to have an endless supply of words, but… I’ve got nothing!

But I will not yet embrace the political issues that surround the debates of mental health, gun control, and school safety – they have been tossed around freely on Facebook, Twitter, and the news, and so I need not add another log to that fire.

I just want to cry for those parents.

If I were them, I would unplug from everything, grab my photo albums and cry.

Remember when he was born? All those nights she crawled into our bed and slept so soundly? His first word was ‘puppy’. That was her favorite outfit…what do I do with it now? I should have saved his baby teeth.

There are greater issues behind this violence, but let’s just wait on that for a time. First, let’s support the parents and families of all who died. Let’s embrace our children a little longer before they leave the house. Let’s send our teachers a message of thanks for all they do for children at such a low salary. Let’s find ways to support families with children who suffer from uncontrollable rage.

Let’s united under this tragedy. Light a candle for those little ones. Say a prayer. Spend 26 minutes in silence.

In our home, we cut out 27 snowflakes for all the victims and said a prayer over each one.
snowflakes

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It’s been over a week since my last post. It’s NaNoWriMo for Novelists – a madhouse of writing 50,000 words in a month and I’m doing my best to keep up. But it’s time for another Writing Conference boost. To review, our outline is:

wRiting Effort DoUbled by Concentrated Educational Details

Today is Educational. And we are going to talk about…education. Creative, huh?

This concept is so simple, it’s easy to forget…Go back to school.  I’m not suggesting that you should sit in on a third grade lesson, but look at what kids these days are reading. I guarantee it’s very different from what you read as a kid.

I turned 40 this year. As a child, I read Judy Blume, Madeleine L’Engle and ten-pound school anthologies. That’s it. The librarian at my elementary school failed miserably at her job and didn’t even know it. I remember the first time I stepped into that library – the smell of ink and paper was as rich to me then as a strong cup of coffee is now. We were in the LIBRARY! I was certain this was the place, the once-a-week half hour when we would hear a story, a haven of time in my week when I could explore books and escape work. How wrong I was!

It was Dewey or Die.

The library was meticulously organized, dusted and decorated. Books were lined neatly with the edge of the shelves – right where the librarian wanted them to be. After my first library visit, I left with one picture book that had to be returned the next week. There was no story read to us. It was all rules and decimal systems.

On the counter near the door stood  a coffee can of rulers for us to use when we explored the bookshelves. Yeah. Rulers. It wasn’t to measure our reading ability. If we saw a title that sounded interesting, we were to slide the ruler next to the book before taking the book off the shelf. This assured that all the books would still be in place when the class left.

Talk about judging a book by its title!

She never introduced us to C.S. Lewis, Beverly Cleary or Paul Flieshman. In fact, our school library was divided into grade-appropriate shelves. Older students were not allowed to check out picture books and younger students were not allowed near the chapter books. That meant the older students who struggled with reading were only allowed to check out books that were too difficult for them. Those who excelled in the early grades were stunted in their reading development because they were not given the opportunity to read the more difficult books.

As a writer, this opens a market for you. High-interest, low-reading difficulty for struggling students, to name one. These could be non-fiction books with shorter sentences and paragraphs with age -appropriate information. Or, stories written in a simpler sentence structure that offer exciting adventures.

So, learn what’s out there already. Study the masters – not necessarily those who make the NY Times Bestseller Lists, but books that break molds, that have stood the test of time, the banned books. Read the genre that fits with your writing. And then make a note of who published it, see if you can find the agent that represented that author and when your story is finished and polished, send it to them.

If you are like my students, you are wondering, “How many books should I read?” The answer is: Read a little of what interests you every day. No matter where you are in your writing journey, stop and take a week, or a month to read the new releases. Or, if you are like me and didn’t have teachers who encouraged you to read, go back and read what you missed.

http://bitly.com/SsDwSF – link to HAISIN Recommended Reading Lists 2012, a list of books for children. If you write for children, learn what’s out there, see what’s selling, talk to parents about what they are looking for in a story, in a non-fiction book.

 

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt

The Penderwicks (a series) by Jeanne Birdsall

Inkspell, Inkheart, Inkdeath (a trilogy) by Cornelia Funke

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

And if you are interested in supporting this author, try: Gateways, by Me :)  available @ http://amzn.to/SYiT3W

 

If you have any other reading suggestions, please share! Include the age level and genre.

Peace!

Jessica

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