Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

If you look at the date of my last post, it’s been a few months since I’ve posted a blog. Not that the world can’t continue without the musings of Jessica Schaub (there are far too many opinions on the web anyway), but the lack of blog posting reflects a reality common among all homeschooling mothers: We are too busy to do what we want.

When I read that statement over, I cringe. It sounds harsh. Selfish. Whiney. I can be all those things, but I don’t mean that only homeschooling mothers are busy, just that I’m a busy homeschooling mom who feels the pinch of helping other people at the expense of my own hobbies and passions. I also don’t intend that statement to make mothers sound stuck in that rut. If I know anything to be true, it’s that mothers need other mothers as friends, confidants, and prayer partners. No woman can be a mother alone and those who are not mothers, try as they might, can’t understand the full scope of what it means. Even within mothers, there is just a vast scope of experiences: terminally ill children, learning disabilities, autism, bullying, divorce, and mental illness.

Motherhood is not a stagnant vocation. It ebbs and flows with the needs of others. There are meals to plan, shoes to tie, sleep to lose. How do those great moms do it? How do they just make it to the end of the day without copious amounts of coffee, wine or chocolate? (or all three?) My answer is not a full answer, but it does feel like a good start.


Yep. Rivers.

The image of a river has come to my attention several times. From bible verses to inspirational quotes on Pinterest, the analogies I can draw from the picture of a river are nearly endless.

I was recently discussing parenting and motherhood this with my husband and how that determines where we are in life, not just our skill as a parent. The more I thought about it, the more meaningful the analogy of the river of motherhood became.

Are you the water in the river? Do you go with the flow, riding out every rush, every stagnant corner, following the crowd to whatever destination is at the end?


Or are you the river bank, watching the action from the (supposedly) safe sideline? Are you a muddy bank, steep in your convictions to not become a part of the rushing waters? Watch out for mudslides.


Are you that giant boulder planted firmly in the center of the river, stubbornly resisting change and forcing everything that comes near you to get out of the way?


Are you the tree on the edge of the river gripping the bank tightly as to not fall in, but gaining the nourishing waters from the current?


Are the fallen tree that landed in the river and is now collecting debris?


Are you a slow, muddy river whose surface is difficult to see through? Are you a crystal-clear stream with light trickling noises as your water slides over a pebble-bed?


Are you a white-rapids river, daring rafters and kayaks to survive?


Are you a tributary river? A Delta? An Amazon?


Are you the Nile and you flood the surrounding area with life-sustaining nutrients?


I do not believe anyone can be stuck as one type of river. As we grow, we move from stagnant waters to rapids, from the watchful tree to the fallen debris-collecting corpse of wood. For today, however, I will be a river of change, moving toward a specific place. As Steven Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” While true rivers happen as a result of weather and land formations, I will begin today with a sunny disposition and the goal of moving mountains. I will be the river that charges toward the valley, picking up nutrients in the soil, carving the landscape, creating beautiful music as I determinedly move forward.

Yesterday I may have been a puddle, a stagnant collection of water left from a downpour, which will, in a few months, be frozen solid. (I live in Michigan).

Last week I had a day of responding to the world like a slow, mildew river. After a torrent of raining prayer, I was refreshed and filled with new energy.

Tomorrow? Perhaps I will be like a waterfall that washes away all the clutter in my home.

Yes. That sounds perfect!

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The lessons for children of how to act in public, how to treat friends, which manners are appropriate for the bathroom but not the dining room table are endless. It would be lovely to say that there will come a day when my children will know all the rules, but that day won’t ever arrive. Why? Because as an adult, I still don’t know all the rules.

 If faced with a formal dining set of multiple forks and spoons, I would need instruction as to which to pick up first. I’m still reading books about writing, public speaking, personal relationships, cookbooks, and homeschooling. I’ve been living as a married woman for seventeen years, so it would seem that my personal relations and communication skills would be top notch. Not so. I’ve homeschooled my children for ten years, and taught school for 6 years before that, so I should know everything about education, right? Nope. I’ve only recently enlisted in a self-education challenge; learning everything I really need to know about life but wasn’t taught in school.

The truth about education is that it has very little to do with how well a child reads or how quickly they can answer one hundred multiplication problems. Education is more about the teacher helping the student learn who they are, how they learn and how to learn.

It was in this educational atmosphere of trying to learn with my children about our faith that I stumbled across a line from Matthew Kelly that I truly believe will save lives.


Just do the next right thing.


That’s it. Just do the next right thing. It’s so simple, it’s easy to remember. Is it easy to put into practice? Not usually.


For example, a parent is struggling to bring her children to church. With claims of being bored during the service and being denied sleep just to go, she’s at a loss. Should she threaten to not feed them until they have attended Mass? Should she sign them up for a volunteering group at the church so they have more fun and meet more people? Should she just go on her own and hope that while she’s worshiping the Lord and her children are sleeping, she’s somehow inspiring them to attend?


If this sounds like you, I don’t have a solution. But just do the next right thing. The circumstances always change, but the principles of what is right never do.


In the last 24 hours, I’ve paid closer attention to difficult moments by keeping the “Just do the next right thing” idea on my mind. I wrote it on my hand to help me remember. When my son challenged my authority by speaking to me disrespectfully about having to help with the dishes, I wanted to yell at him. But I know that yelling isn’t right, as it makes me lose my posture as a parent. Instead, I told him that if he didn’t help wash the dishes, that was fine. He would eat off the same dirty plate until he did.

He helped.

Laundry is another sore spot for this momma. It’s everywhere. It’s never completely finished. It’s not a good idea to go around naked, so I don’t see an end to this problem any time soon. When I walked into my children’s bedroom, there were five full baskets of clothes. No one could tell me which baskets were filled with clean laundry and which ones needed to be washed. One daughter suggested that her sister should smell the clothes to determine which was which. Needless to say, the sister didn’t go for it. Another sibling suggested that they just wash all the clothes again. I wondered aloud how that was going to solve the problem as it isn’t the washing part that they struggle with, but the putting away. I also reminded that that it was movie night and the room must be clean before 7:00 PM if they wanted to watch all of the movie.

What was the next right thing I did? I talked them through the problem (laundry) and listened to their solutions, guiding them to a resolution that helped them meet the goal of being able to watch the movie that night. I suppose you are wondering what their solution was. The answer is, I don’t know. The next right thing for me to do was to walk away and let them figure it out together.

This line is becoming the tag line to difficult situations. We are repeating it often, applying it as a family with the hope that when we are faced with really difficult situations, the right thing will be more obvious.

To those who like to spark new discussions: I could get into an entire discussion about what is right and what is wrong. There is an argument that will likely never be resolved and objective vs. subjective truth lies in the middle. Despite any potential disagreements concerning what is right or wrong, the main focus with the “Just do the next right thing” idea is that you choose the right thing based on your information at the moment.  

I think this would be a very interesting discussion to have. But for now, I’m going to do the next right thing and make dinner for the children who are staring at me with hungry faces :)


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I’ve entered.

I have really high hopes and dreams.

How about you?

Reader’s Favorite is a well-respected, high-volume website that works diligently to help small authors and independent authors find their platform. Sure, there is a price and depending on your opinion of ‘to pay or not to pay’ for contests, this one at least deserves a look. Click on the link on the right and enter!

Here is some information from their website, http://www.readersfavorite.com

Readers’ Favorite 2015
International Book Award Contest
Become an award-winning author!
Contest CharacterWe accept manuscripts, published and unpublished books, ebooks, audio books, comic books, poetry books and short stories in 100+ genres.

We do not have a publication date requirement or word count restriction. Entries are accepted worldwide as long as the work is in English.

Four award levels plus a finalist level in each of our 100+ categories.
Special Illustration Award competition for illustrated books.
Roll of high quality, embossed award stickers ($50 value).
Digital award seal for your book cover and print/web marketing.
Personalized award certificate.
Olympics-style physical award medal with ribbon.
Awards ceremony with guest speakers and media coverage.
Book displayed in our booth at the largest book fair in America.
Book review posted on 7 popular book and social networking sites.
Mini-critique of 5 key areas of your book.
Enhanced listing of your book with award level on our category pages, search results, and your main review page.
Enhanced listing of your book with award level on our 2015 contest award-winners page.
Results announced to our database of authors, agents and publishers.
Results announced to 100,000 booksellers, publishers, public and academic librarians, wholesalers, distributors, educators and agents through Publishers Weekly, the authority in book publishing since 1872.
Results announced through a high distribution press release to nearly 300,000 journalists and bloggers, as well as major press outlets like the Associated Press and newspapers like USA Today.
Results tweeted & re-tweeted to over 1 million Twitter followers.
Lifetime full-featured listing on BookAwards.com, an exclusive website dedicated to getting your award-winning book noticed by readers, agents, publishers and journalists.
Win one of $20,000 in prizes just for entering!
Chance to have your book made into a movie or TV show by Wind Dancer Films!

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I was recently in a position to overhear a conversation at a book store concerning the quality of books for young adults. The statements regarding concern over the quality of recent young adult books was at the heart of the conversation. Teen romance is scary enough in real life, the idea of reading about it was enough to send one woman over the edge. The other woman tried to defend it, stating that the character qualities in the books were actually more mature than what the average teenager would experience and that by reading such literature (a term I use loosely when referring to teen romance books) it might actually help young hearts as they tramp through the dating scene.  Having never read teen romance, I must admit that I cannot declare an educated decision on this matter. In all honesty, both women are probably correct. When they caught me listening in, they asked me my opinion: What do you let your children read? How do you select books for teenagers? How do you make your children read? All good questions. booksI gladly climbed aboard my soapbox and shared.

What do I let my children read?

Books with integrity. Books with strong characters in nearly impossible situations who overcome odds to become great heroes. Books based on history–the ugly parts: The Holocaust (The Diary of Anne Frank or Number the Stars by Lois Lowry), Slavery (Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson or Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas), War (The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum or The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne), Family Issues (Almost Home by Joan Bauer).

Books that allow escape: Fantasy (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende), Historical Fiction (The Little House of the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Fever by Laurie Halse Anderson).

Books that teach, encourage by example (Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham, Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, The Lonesome Gods by Louis L’Amour).

When I’m asked to give my opinion on how to select books for young adults, I can only offer suggestions. I encourage the reader to consider books that allow them to put on different skin, view through a different set of eyes, see a part of the world they would never otherwise see. That’s why we read or watch TV or go to the movies: for the experience of the story. My personal opinion will probably carry little weight with parents who are simply thrilled when their children read anything. The concern of the quality of the literature isn’t considered important, but it is. Just as people fawn over mass-produced or organic produce, the quality of literature is even more important because it effects the health of the soul. If detoxing your body is difficult, imagine how much more effort goes into detoxing a soul. If the Bible isn’t something a young adult reads regularly, then that is a great place to start.

When my children were young, I had grandiose plans of reading every book before they did. This worked until I was outnumbered three to one. As the stack of books for me to pre-approve grew taller than me, I realized that I needed a different strategy. It came down to a three-step process of approving books before I could read them.

  1. Read reviews of the book on Amazon. By reading a few of the 5 star and a few of the 1-2 star ratings and reviews, I could gather any potential inappropriate themes that I would not approve of.
  2. Post a request to friends for thoughts on the books we want to read. I used to use Facebook for this quite a bit. It generated some really great discussions.
  3. If a book passed the first two steps, then my children were allowed to read it, with one rule: If it ever felt inappropriate, they were to bring it to me for a discussion.

By doing our research and giving my children the authority to determine if I would approve of a book or not, we’ve discovered that they are much more cautionary than I am about what they read. Any book with a swear word is brought to my attention. I’ve even read books after my daughters have and have found words and sometimes phrases blackened out. Censorship at its best!

The last question, How do you make your children read?, really stumped me. Simple answer: I don’t make them read anything. Long answer: years of modeling reading, giving them time to read, providing time at the library for browsing, giving books as presents, rewarding good behavior with an extra story at bedtime. We turned off the TV years ago. Instead of the furniture arranged to watch a screen, it’s arranged around book shelves and tables with books and big comfy reading pillows.

Remember your teen years? Did anything your parents make you do become fulfilling? The typical answer is no. It comes down to putting your actions where your mouth is. You say you want children who are strong readers, then you must practice reading strong. If you want children who gravitate toward books instead of video games, then you must do the same. And for the love of all that is holy, don’t give your young girls romance novels! What good can they possibly glean from such books?

In all these qualifications of what to read and how to encourage teens to read, there was nothing that would classify a teen romance novel as a good choice.

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“A Christian Author? Really?”

That was the response I received at the park the other day as I talked with a woman I just met as our sons became quick friends in the sand box. I’ll admit, I didn’t know how to respond. In a heartbeat, several scenarios ran through my mind:

Lady: “A Christian Author? Really?”

Me: “Right? I’m mean, there aren’t many of us.”

Which lead me to think, Why aren’t there more of us?


Lady: “A Christian Author? Really?”

Me: “I know, can you believe it?” said with a negative tone.

But, no. This isn’t the correct response. I hope that if you ever met me, it would completely make sense. What else would I write about?


My actual response:



Her next question: “Why? I mean, haven’t all the stories about Jesus been told in the Bible?”



Me: “No. It’s likely that all the stories about Jesus aren’t even in the Bible. We have a few, but he was 33 years old when he was crucified. He lived, traveled and taught his Apostles for three years. There is no way ALL of that is included in the Gospels. Besides, if Jesus is who he says he is – the Savior – and he is; if he taught us that we can find forgiveness and mercy in our belief in him – and we can; if he promised us Heaven – and it’s real, does his story end with his Resurrection and Ascension? No. If Jesus is the Son of God, then he is just as active in the lives of people today as he was when he walked the earth. There are millions of stories there. I try to tell just a few.”

Unforgettable Roads Front Cover

She liked my answer, but lamented the fact that so many writers today write to shock, to sell, to entertain, to fall into a popular trend. Her comment lead me to prayerfully consider what we as a community of people are called to do. Where do we find the list of goals and instructions for our lives? Yeah, the Bible. Below are the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. The bullet point listed in blue is what I’ve added specifically in regard to my purpose as a writer, but the question should be asked of every person in every career.


Spiritual Works of Mercy

Counsel the doubtful.

  • Encourage the youth.
  • Speak kindly and honestly.
  • Spend time with those who doubt the faith.
  • We are not called to relax in our faith, but to strive toward bringing the faith to others. Faith in God is Truth. Share it. It will change the world.
  • Write stories that inspire those who have been hurt, those who have seen terrible things. Write the truth.

Instruct the ignorant.

  • Teach by example. Not only your own children, but everyone you come in contact with.
  • Read and share. If you haven’t read a book in the last week, you have nothing new to share.
  • Tutor
  • Be a mentor.
  • Write about the time you learned humility. What about that time you learned what it meant to be virtuous? Does your writing instruct (without being preachy) or do your characters simply react to situations without an overall guiding belief?

Admonish the sinner.

  • Again, teach by example.
  • Be gentle in your words of correction.
    • When Ben Franklin was young, he was an unkind know-it-all whom no one liked. When this was pointed out to him by a good friend, Ben started tempering his statements with:
      • I might be wrong, but I think…
      • It seems to me that…
      • What do you think will happen when/if…
      • (I’m going to add this one) I think I know what you are going through. Can I tell what you happened to me?
  • Admonish, according to the dictionary.com means: to caution, advise, or counsel against something. Although this has a negative connotation, it doesn’t have to be practiced in that way. Admonishment can – and should – be encouragement.
  • For writers, the rule is “Don’t preach. Entertain.” No one appreciates being told they are wrong. What story helped you understand how to make good decisions? What can you share that will help others learn from your (or a characters’) mistakes? The best experience is someone else’s experience.

Comfort the sorrowful.

  • Hug those who need you.
  • Write letters to friends. Good old-fashioned letters with hand-written messages sent with a stamp.
  • Bring food to friends who are sad.
  • Cry with them.
  • Listen.
  • Text, Facebook, and Twitter encouragement.
  • What does your writing – fiction or non-fiction – do to support hope? The world is full of sorrow, conflict, and death. While death is in our future, it should never be a way of life. Offer life.

Forgive all injuries.

  • Forgiveness is the greatest medicine of all! You know that thing that so&so did all those years ago? Yeah, that. You felt your skin flash with heat at the thought of it. Let it go. (Don’t sing the song, just let that feeling go.) Forgive them. Forget the event. Learn from it, don’t repeat it. But don’t allow that event to dictate your future.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t make you weak. Think about what it means to forgive. It means that you aren’t going to harness a mistake to another person. If you believe that slavery is a horrifying human existence, then you would never pierce another person with the irons of un-forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness not only helps the other person move forward, but it does the same for you. Un-forgiveness chains you to the past.
  • How does your writing reflect the power of Forgiveness? Do you know the power of forgiveness? Explore it in your writing.

Bear wrongs patiently.

  • People who have strong character have high expectations for themselves, but are easy on others. Those who have a weak character have really high expectations for everyone else, but are easy on themselves. Think of the last big football game you watched with a big crowd (at the stadium, tailgating, or a Super Bowl setting). Was the person shouting the loudest and most passionately at the players bearing a less than athletic physique? Who are we to impatiently watch others try and fail if we are just sitting on the sidelines?
  • Even if we are actively involved, we must allow for error because someday it will be our turn to sit in the hot seat.
  • Writers practice this always… with those agents and editors that don’t know how amazing we are :)

Pray for the living and the dead.

  • Who can’t use more prayer?
  • The Catholic Church teaches that we can still pray for those who have died. There are three different levels of existence: The Church Triumphant (Saints in heaven. And not just the Saints the Catholic Church celebrates, but every soul that has made it to heaven); The Church Militant (Us. Now. We living souls in the World who struggle to survive, to believe, to have faith); the Church Suffering (those who have died and are in Purgatory. Purgatory is to be feared, but it’s like the ultimate cleansing before heaven. Based on my studies on this topic, I would much prefer to go straight to heaven and skip the cleansing fires of Purgatory. But if it’s between the cleansing fires of Purgatory and the damning fires of Hell, I chose Purgatory.) All that to say, the Church Triumphant prays for us (Militant) and for the Suffering (Souls in Purgatory). We can do something similar. We can pray for the Suffering (to reach Heaven soon) and ask the soul in Heaven (because they have already triumphed) to pray for us in our sufferings. Just as we pray for our family and friends, so too can those in heaven pray for us. As a writer, or in choosing books to read, do I choose Triumphant literature (steeped in Truth), Militant literature (stories of those striving for Good and Right), or Suffering Literature (stories that change how I see suffering, sacrifice, pain, and difficulty as a means to beauty). If I write anything outside of these, I am choosing to fill my mind with stories that do me no good.

I would be interested to hear your opinion on these Spiritual Works of Mercy. It’s not a question of faith, but of intent. What is the purpose of your writing, or your career, your hobbies?


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Welcome to the second installment of the Pay-It-Forward Author Interview series! If you are an author or have a book being released in the next year and would like to join this interview series, click here for details.

This week I am featuring a fellow homeschooling mom and writer. Emmy Gatrell took the plunge and published her first book on her own – a feat that has brought in 4 & 5 star ratings on Amazon.

If you are a fan of fantasy, love secrets and new discoveries, the Meanmna is the book for you. Read on to learn more about Emmy Gatrell and then give her book a try.

emmy gatrell

Meanmna is a fantasy novel for teens. What are some other authors who inspired you to write in this genre?

I could easily name a hundred authors that inspired me to write in the fantasy genre. I tend to read more series than standalone books. There was one in particular that had the biggest impact on what I read and write about.

  • The Dragon Prince Series by Melanie Rawn—I found this trilogy at a used book store when I was fourteen (it’s not necessarily for teens, I just read it when I was one.) I have re-read it every couple of years since. It’s an Epic story, which requires you to reference maps and family trees to navigate at times. It’s one of my all-time favorite series in any genre. I still have my original copies. They’ve been read so many times they’re completely worn out.
  • The Grey Wolves Series by Quinn Loftis— Hysterical (could have one of the funniest characters I’ll ever read) and heartbreaking (there are several parts that require tissues.)
  • A House of Night Series by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast— One of the best, scariest, evil, bad person’s, ever.
  • Seven Years: A Seven Series Novel by Dannika Dark—I wish I waited to read this one, it was really, really good and I am really, really impatient. I can’t wait for the next one, whatever characters the story focusses on next, I want to know more about. That’s great story telling.

Describe your writing schedule. Are you strict with your writing, do you write when inspired, or are you somewhere in between?

I have to be strict with my writing for several reasons. As a mother of two kids, I know there is no guarantee of getting any writing done once the house wakes up. I also prefer working in quiet because I can become distracted easily, so I wake up extremely early to write almost every day. I like to get up two or three hours before the kids start getting up. I write if I can during the day, but it’s sporadic at best and I really don’t get much accomplished. I sneak both reading and writing in whenever I can, but early morning writing is my writing time.

The cover of your book is amazing! As a self-published author, this is a rarity. Who did your cover art?

Thank you! I love it, it’s so beautiful and I totally got lucky on that one. After I tried a couple different folks for the cover and just wasn’t quite happy with the results. My husband asked Norman Wong, someone he works with if he could give it try as a last ditch effort. He was wonderfully kind to turn it around quickly and what an end product! I knew Norman was really good at what he does, but wow, when I saw my cover, I knew he was an artist. It’s so much better than I imagined it could or hoped it would be.

meanmna cover

What was important for you in your book production? Share some successes, obstacles, lessons…

If I was going to take the risk of people reading my work and either liking it or hating it. I wanted to make sure I put the best product out there I could. I researched what made a self-published novel successful and the biggest recommendations were to hire a development editor and a copy editor. I used Writers in the Sky for both and also had my sister copy edit it.

Yvonne Perry, was my development editor. She pointed out the holes, asked for more or less, and asked the questions that propelled the story into what it is. She also took the time to really teach me about writing. I learned so much from her and while I am under no illusions that I am a perfect writer, I am a much better one because of her. That’s why you need a copy editor. I’m convinced that you should have as many people as possible to do a copy edit, everyone that went through it found something we all missed and a couple mistakes were found after it was published too. Whether you hire them or have a friend take one more look at it, you should. Things get missed, try to have as few as possible. A new set of eyes never hurts.

So much of being an Indie Author depends on not only your own creativity to write a book, but to sell it. What tips about marketing you can share?

The launch went far better that we had hoped, I’m still figuring all of that out. Social media is the biggest tool you can have, but we didn’t just use online media I did old school signs in supermarkets and local stores (I live in a small town) which amazingly enough, did actually work. Even one of the shop keepers gussied up the flier after she read it and even left a review, so I know it at least influenced one person!

Of course shamelessly ask your friends and family to read it. Create an author page on Facebook and post on there, I’m not so good at that one yet.

We ran some ads on Facebook which had success, specifically ones which incorporated the geography in the book. The Facebook page and orders had a nice spike after I ran an ad targeted people in Lenawee County Michigan, where the story starts and another one targeted to jam band fans. The biggest risk I’ve taken was to have it available for free for a day. Since I am planning on possibly seven books, I was more interested in having as many people read it as possible, than profit right now. In twenty-four hours over five hundred people downloaded my book, that is so freaking cool, I’m honored. The book’s done well over all but I don’t think I can truly rate success until the release of book two.

 Is writing your only career? Or are you ‘doing research’ as a paralegal, a doctor, teacher, student, or construction worker?

The only research I’m doing is how to be a better mom. I’m a stay at home mom to two boys. I recently started home schooling my kids because we’re going to be splitting our time between our home in North Georgia and vacation home Costa Rica. My husband travels for work a good deal, so I’m pretty much on duty 24/7 when he’s on the road.

Can we expect another book from you? Will it be a follow up to this one or are you starting something new?

I am planning on six books in this series and a possible pre-quell. I’m currently finishing up the first draft of Beinn-Theine: Book Two of the Daearen Realms. I’m planning on publishing it this summer.

Do you belong to a writing community? (i.e. NaNoWriMo, a writing group, or anything through social media)

No, not at this moment. I’m still in the ‘I can’t believe I wrote a book’ phase and think of myself as someone who wrote a book, not necessarily an author, yet. I’m just not sure what I’d have to offer at this point.

Please share with us something about the following topics that you think is so important that our lives will be forever changed. No pressure, right?

Writing and why it’s important:

I don’t really know what to say. Writing is important to me because it makes me happy. I love sitting back and creating something only I can see until I can find the right words to let someone else see it. I didn’t realize how much I missed writing until I started doing it again. So I guess my life changing thoughts are not really necessarily about writing it’s about happiness. You should find that thing that makes you happy. Don’t let fear stop you, don’t let anything stop you. If you do stop, don’t take eighteen years to try again. Work until you get to the point that you wake up excited and go to bed fulfilled even if that means waking up at 3:30. Finally, judge your own success, set your own goals, and don’t forget all the other aspects of your life that matter too.

Social Media and Face-to-face marketing:

I haven’t really had any face to face marketing yet, unless you count me announcing it to my Zumba class, but I have had write up in various papers and blogs and this interview I’m sure thankful for and I plan a more formal launch on my first book, when I get the second book done, since I think some people are hesitant to buy a book in a series with only one book released, at least I know I am.

A recipe you love:

I love cooking. This is one of the simplest easiest recipes that you can’t mess up even if you tried and it is so yummy. I make this and serve it with all kinds of foods. Burgers, hot dogs, tacos, fish, steak, the possibilities are endless. It might sound weird, but the reaction the lime juice has to the red onion is just magic.

Red Onion Lime Relish


Red onion(s)


Salt & Pepper

Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)



Cut as many red onions as you want. Squeeze cut limes over onions until mostly covered with juice (typically two small limes per red onion.) Grind some fresh salt and pepper on the top, add cilantro if using. Mix, cover, refrigerate for two hours, mixing occasionally. Enjoy!

Check out Emmy’s book, Meanmna, and remember to leave a review. This entire series of author interviews is all about paying-it-forward. What you do today out of kindness for someone will reward you greatly in the future.

Connect with Emmy on Facebook: http://facebook.com/emmygatrell

emmy gatrell

Bio:  Emmy is a stay at home mom to her husband, 2 kids and 4 dogs and just self-published her first book, Meanmna – Book One of the Daearen Realms. She splits her time between the North Georgia Mountains and Costa Rica. Currently, she is actively finishing Beinn-Theine: Book Two of the Daearen Realms, and is looking forward to writing all the stories of the Daearen Realms.


indie and small press


Previous Interviews:

Theresa Jenner Garrido

Other Articles of Interest:


Journal Writing

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Many people enter into retirement with the dream of writing a novel. Theresa Jenner Garrido made that a reality. Whether you love romance novels or light mysteries, Theresa is your gal! With more than a dozen published books, she knows how to tell a good story. Theresa and I were both published by Martin Sister’s Publishing in 2013, so we share that sisterhood as well. I read Who Done It? and enjoyed the story line, but I fell in love with the characters; especially Ducky, a plucky 80-year-old. Allow me to introduce you to:


Theresa Jenner Garrido

Author: Who Done It?, The Chinese Chest, By Any Other Name, and more

According to your website, you lived on an island in your youth. That’s an incredibly unique experience. Can you share a specific memory or two? In what way, if any, did that environment contribute to your story telling?

I spent the first nine years of my life on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington State, which, at that time, was very rural and only saw a surge of people during summer months. I grew up, surrounded by tall cedars and Doug firs and a gray sand beach, cluttered with barnacle-covered rocks. With no neighborhood children to play with, I had to rely on a host of imaginary characters to share my adventures.

After years as a teacher, did that career lead you to writing? Speaking personally, I taught junior high for a few years and felt compelled to write. I’m wondering if your experience was similar.

I started writing with a passion in fourth grade. Nothing delighted me more than to have an assignment that required writing. When I became a middle school language arts teacher, this writing passion fit in nicely. Teaching drama was a favorite addition to my job and whenever we needed a play, I’d write it.  I couldn’t stop writing, but due to time and energy issues, never considered publication. Only after I convinced myself to retire early and really concentrate on my passion did I become an author.

Who has played an important role in your writing career?

No single person played a significant role, but I do believe authors like Lucy M. Montgomery and Gene Stratton-Porter helped. The rainy day in fourth grade when I discovered Nancy Drew was a day that will never be forgotten. The world of reading opened its magical gate and I entered. I never looked back.

What is the best review you’ve had about your writing? Where did it come from?

Any positive review will send me into ecstasy but one I remember fondly. An eighth grader read one of my mysteries and told me she loved it so much she promptly reread it. Her father told me he’d never seen her that excited over a book. Wow! That was high praise.

Are there places beyond Amazon and Goodreads that you either request or received a review?

I confess to being a complete duffer, where promotion, marketing and reviews come in. Writing is my “magnificent obsession” and I can’t stop. No matter what, I have to write. I can’t turn around without seeing something that sparks my imagination. I confess, however, to being a little lax in soliciting reviews.


You self-published several of your books, and your latest was published by Martin Sisters Publishing. How did the two publishing venues differ for you? Which would you recommend to upcoming authors?

I self-published my first book back in 2004 with a “vanity press”. I knew nothing about the business and, even though an English major, knew very little about editing, etc. That first experience was tepid at best, but I kept sending in queries to “real” publishers. After enough rejections to paper an entire room, I was accepted by a small press, based in TX. They published thirteen of my novels but had difficulties and closed over a year ago. Since retaining all rights, I decided to re-publish a few of those books and chose Amazon, which was an excellent choice. Amazon is amazing. I’d recommend it to anyone. The big houses are having major issues and digital books are the future so authors have to rethink what it means to be published.  A few of my new works, however, are still going the query route. Who Done It? was accepted by Martin Sisters Publishing in 2013. Hoping for a series featuring the protagonist, I am working on book two now.  So far I have been very happy with MSP and hope we can work together for a long time.

What writing resources have you used to improve your craft? Magazines, books, webinars, conferences, classes? Which would you recommend?

All of the above.  I belong to two critique groups, a larger writers group, and attend as many workshops and conferences as I can. A few minor health issues prevent me from doing a whole lot, plus my extended family, rescue dog and cat, and retired husband who can’t quite grasp the urgency that is a writer’s constant companion, but I seek out advice wherever I can. Another recommendation: READ!  Read the kinds of books you like to write. Read about places you’d like to visit. Just read.

Because so much of self-publishing and publishing with a smaller publisher depend on doing all the marketing on your own, what have you learned?

I have learned that I have a lot to learn. This is a very touchy subject for me.  I cringed just reading your question. That’s where the workshops, etc. come in. I literally devour all-and-everything about “social media” etc. etc.

I read Who Done It? It was a wonderful cozy mystery. What were some obstacles you faced in writing a mystery?

Not many because I love mysteries, but my lack of knowledge about such things as police procedure certainly got in the way at times.  Luckily I was able to talk to “real” policemen and get the scoop. My protagonist is basically your everyday gal so my books aren’t hard-core crime dramas. The most interesting research I’ve had to do was speaking with a mortician about dead bodies, etc.

What’s the story behind your book?  In other words, how did the storyline come to you?

Every one of my books is based on an actual event that I personally was involved in. When I say based, I mean maybe just a spark to kindle the imagination fire. I write about places I’ve been to so can “see” the setting as I write.

What do you hope readers will gain from your writing? Do you have a specific message that you wish to impart?

To me, reading is the best medicine for what ails you. People today suffer a lot from stress. A good book can take you away from your present situation and allow you to forget for a while; unwind; rejuvenate; rest. A lot cheaper than seeing a psychiatrist. I hope my books do just that. I want the reader to be entertained and enjoy a few laughs or a few tears. When the reader closes the book, I want him/her to be satisfied.

They certainly do that! As I read Who Done It? the coziness of the bed and breakfast inspired me to bake…and that’s not normal for me ;)

Thank you, Theresa, for your time and willingness to share some backstory.

If your want to learn more about Theresa’s books, visit her website, her Amazon Author Page, or click to buy her book.

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Four years ago today, according to my writing journal, I met Jack Elliott, a.k.a. Graypay from my book, Unforgettable Roads.


Jack Elliott is modeled after a man I see at church. He is handsome, all grey, and very devout. I didn’t get to know him until after Unforgettable Roads was accepted for publication, and I was amazed to learn that his name is Jack. Coincidence?

Shortly after I wrote a short story about Jack Elliott and his granddaughter, I registered for the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing. This was my fourth writing conference. I expected to go, listen, learn, and then write – same as always. But I went with Beth, my friend and writing partner, and the conference was completely different.

I hope you have a friend like Beth. She pushes me gently, inspires me even when she’s not around, and encourages me. I tried to do the same for her at this conference by staying up late to go to the poetry reading from 8:00 – 11:00 PM. I’m all for staying up late, but this was a push for me. I had been gone all day, was missing my kids, and was overwhelmed by the amount of information I’d received. But my love for Beth was stronger (plus my kids were already in bed, so I wasn’t going to see them anyway) and I gladly walked into the room.

It was my first poetry reading and I loved it. I also felt a little jaded by the fact that there wasn’t a short-fiction reading. What’s a fiction author to do but raid the second night of the poetry readings with a short fiction piece?

That’s where I shared the chapter of Graypay, a.k.a. Jack Elliott, with my first audience. If you have the book, it’s the chapter titled, “Time Machines”. The buzzer sounded ten minutes after I started reading, so my writing obviously wasn’t short enough, but the audience protested with the time-keeper to allow me to finish.

Talk about a boost in self-esteem!

Several people loved Graypay’s character and wanted more. “Is this a part of a novel?” they asked.

At the time it wasn’t, but through their enthusiasm, I did start to think about the larger story.

The point of this post is to encourage you to keep a journal. As a parent, teacher, writer, doctor, business owner, grandparent – whatever you do & whoever you are – a journal will help you trudge through difficulties, celebrate milestones, and track the events of your life. Just like Jack’s journals play an important role in the novel, your journals can do the same for future generations. Write about your successes, your plans, your failures. Share the expectations you have and the reality of the world; be it authentic awe or disappointment.

writing pics 009

The notes in my writing journal that I kept while writing Unforgettable Roads are filled with my research, travel notes, photographs and practice scenes with the characters. I use it differently each day: sometimes to track a to-do list, other times it’s a place to try new ideas for current writing pieces. My journal is also where Eddie, another character from the book, sprang to life. I’ve never experienced that before – a character just showing up – and it wouldn’t have happened without the journal. I’m working on writing a second book that follows Eddie after his conversion.

My journal, like Jack says, is like my brain with all my thoughts, ideas and memories locked into existence with ink.

So stop reading – go write!

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So you can finally cross “Getting Published” off your bucket list. Fantastic!

Now what?

You need readers for your book. The prospects of marketing are more daunting that you first imagined. All your friends and family have purchased a copy…and sales have stalled. If you are looking for a way to market your book without investing any money, just a little time, then read on.

indie and small press

I’m putting together a group of dedicated authors who are interested in increasing their readership base, have a blog, and have at least two (2) forms of social media forums. If you request to be a part of this group, here is what is expected of you:

1. You will be interviewed about you, your book and writing in general. Each author will receive a list of questions generated by me that will fit your book and mission.

2. You will have two weeks to answer those questions and return them to me. Sooner is better, but life is busy, I know :)

3. Here’s the meat of this plan: Each time an author’s interview goes live on my website, you will receive an email. Post a link to that interview 2x’s a week for 2 weeks on all of your social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumbler…whatever.

4. Committing to this group will keep you posting these links from March 2014 until February 2015. Anyone who does not continue to share posts, will be removed from the group. Sounds harsh, but think about it – you have your interview and see and increase in sales and blog visits and then you do nothing to help the next in line. Not fair. Pay it forward. Keep the momentum going. It doesn’t take long to post on a few networks, and the results for you and the other authors is invaluable. If we fill the calendar, there will be 24 (plus me, that’s 25) authors who will share your interview, book, and links to purchase on all their social media. That has great potential.

5. Send me a copy of your book, either hardcopy or a link to download the ebook version. (I’ll send you my contact info once you are accepted into the group.) I would like to read the books before I send you questions so each interview is personalized and unique.

The goal of this is to help all of us reach a wider base of potential readers. Potential for increased sales and blog followers in amazing. I took part in a similar author panel last year and have made some wonderful connections.

If you are interested, comment on this post with your name, the name of your book, and a link to your blog.

Then send me an email (jessicaschaubwrites@gmail.com) with your name and contact info. Include the back cover blurb of your book, a link to where it’s sold, and what genre it is. I won’t interview authors who write erotica, include intense violence in their novels, or use vulgar curse words. Yep, I’m old fashioned. I also have a blog that I’m proud to have my children read. My audience is young at heart and simply young. This blog will remain a safe environment for them.

If you have any questions, ask them in the Comments area. I’ll answer them as quickly as I can.

Blessings to you!


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A New Year, A New Verb

Yesterday’s entry was a little negative. While it’s completely true, it also brims of an attitude of ‘it’s all about me’.  Over the past several months, a dark, unsettling cloud has taken up residence over my head. I’ve been thinking about my role in my life. What am I? Who am I? Why am I?

I need a mission, a plan, a goal, a target. And it just came to me.

I’m declaring 2014 the Year of Momming.  (this might also be a year when I make up a words that battle dark clouds).

Momming (v) 1) the act of putting all people in need of help before personal needs; 2) a formal term for multi-tasking; 3) referring to the act of caring for others in any capacity needed, not excluding night shifts; 4) often refers to women, but men are often seen momming although the proper term is ‘fathering’; 5) refers any person who lovingly cares for another.

Because so many New Year’s Resolutions deal with health and fitness, I will be treating ‘Momming’ like a workout:


  1. Lift the weighty spirits of those around you. Repeat 10 times.
  2. Sprint to those in need.
  3. For optimal heart health, hug those you love, snuggle often with children (dogs and cats work too), and cook homemade meals at least once a week (or at least present a meal in your own dishes, on a set table with napkins and candles).
  4. To stay motivated, repeat this phrase often: “The two most beautiful things about me are my smile and gentle touch.”
  5. Celebrate great weeks of ‘Momming’ with a dressed up date to a favorite place with your children.
  6. Didn’t have such a great week of ‘momming’, reboot your goals with a dressed up date to your favorite place with your children.
  7. Spend time with other Moms      who have a positive outlook on life, parenting, and marriage. Allow their enthusiasm to motivate you.

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