Contemplating whether to publish your book with a traditional publisher or do it your self? Before you decide, consider this food for thought from best-selling author Joe Konrath.Add a Comment
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Native Chicagoan, raised in the suburbs, married to my college sweetheart, Vermont College grad, former journalist, newsletter editor, public relations/ marketing consultant, newspaper columnist. Now, an author, advocate, and mother of three active girls, two with special needs.
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Hope, humor, grace, strength. I've witnessed my daughter and others summon these attributes and more in the face of adversity. Kudos, Chris Rumble! Your video says it so well.Add a Comment
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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers is getting some really nice buzz since its mid March release. Check out this link for the latest feature on my involvement in the book.Add a Comment
This interview with indie author Ruth Ann Nordin is the one if the best I've read about how to ride the eBook wave.
Smashwords: Ruth Ann Nordin Shares Her Secrets to Success
Check it out! I just learned that Trib Local, a local web version of the Chicago Tribune, featured an article about my story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers recently. Thanks to good friend and fellow author Kate Gingold for secretly making it happen.Display Comments Add a Comment
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers is available at a bookstore near you. And Joan Lunden is talking about it! Check out her interview about the book on Good Morning America earlier this week.Add a Comment
Blog: Kat's Eye (Login to Add to MyJacketFlap)
JacketFlap tags: caregiving, chicken soup for the soul, caregivers, trusting the process, creative process, publishing, perseverance, Add a tag
Year That Went to the Dogs, and a reminder to Trust the Process, wherever it takes you. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers hits bookshelves nationwide on March 13th. Check out this link for a look inside and to pre-order. Add a Comment
Is anybody out there? There? There? There? There?
This is my first post since last April, and as I type this entry, I can't help but wonder if even my most loyal followers have moved on. But for those of you who are still out there; for my characters (who most likely have disowned me); for my loyal muse (who has been starved for attention for far too long); and for my fellow writers (who wrestle daily with the challenge of balancing work and family, and sitting butt in chair to give your stories a voice), this post is for you.
2011. In our Christmas letter, we called it the Year That Went to the Dogs . It's an apt title for a crappy year, one I would never wish on anyone, not even my enemies.
Detailing what happened would take too much space and energy for a post here; so, I'll give you the Cliff Notes version. My middle daughter Elena ended up needing three brain surgeries last year. By the grace of God she came through them all. But between all the hospital stays, tests, therapies, doctors visits, and follow ups, there was little time left for writing.
Probably my biggest accomplishment in 2011 was launching and maintaining a webpage where friends and loved ones could read Elena's story, keep track of her progress in an online journal, and leave notes of encouragement in a virtual guestbook. If you're looking for details about Elena's journey and mine, visit it here and search for elenawinters. It's an ongoing story, one that's still unfolding. So be sure to visit regularly for updates.
Many of you are familiar with my daughter Elena and the journey she's been on with her health. Elena's travels have inspired my own, reminding me daily to trust the process and to have faith that where we are now is where we are supposed to be, whether it be in our personal or professional lives.
In recent weeks, we've entered a new and challenging chapter in Elena's care, one that requires two neurosurgeries in the near future. Both are considered life-saving. The first surgery will happen as early as this coming week. The second two months or so later depending on her recovery.
We need prayers. Lots of them. Please share this news with anyone you think might need to know.
To follow Elena's journey and write a note in her guestbook, sign on to www.caringbridge.com and search for elenawinters.
Consider checking out Elena's new web page, too. It's a reminder of who she is outside of her illness and a testimony to the true power of living each moment.
There really is no place like home. E was released from the hospital after her imaging studies yesterday. We returned late last night, exhausted after our week-long visit but so very happy to be back. The first thing E wanted to do after hugging her service dog Jewel was unpack, as if doing so would prove she was home to stay. Spent today acclimating to the real world while she caught up on the sleep she lost at the hospital. Looking forward to returning to a regular writing schedule. Hoping my muse joins me.Display Comments Add a Comment
Didn't expect E to be here this long, but there you have it. A week and counting. I'd forgotten about the little things that gnaw away at you the longer you're here. The constant beeping from all the monitors. The stale antiseptic smell of the hallways. The fact that while the rest of the world is racing by you're on hospital time where the passage of time is marked by the next blood pressure check. Then there's the reality that even when you're away from the room the parent bracelet around your wrist is a constant reminder that your life is not your own. E has an MRI this afternoon. Planning to escape to Ronald McDonald House until she's out of recovery and back in the room. Maybe I can catch some uninterrupted sleep. I need it.
Writerly report: Closest thing I've done to exercising my muse this week is reading. Losing myself in A Discovery of Witches.
Posting this from the Starlight Family Room on the 6th floor at Children's Hospital in downtown Chicago. E was admitted Tuesday. Kidneys were acting up. She's responding to treatment but the going is slow. Thankfully E is viewing this latest admission as yet another adventure in her journey. For example, she loves the fact that she can order her meals off a menu and have the food on her tray 30 minutes later. She's also enjoying the volunteers. She's working with an artist right now, role playing, story boarding, and doing backdrop design for a video he is putting together with help from inpatients on the floor.
Writerly lesson from all of this:
Trust the process and look for creativity and inspiration in unexpected places.
Day 15 of Nanohoho. Word count to date: 16,660. Discovered along the way: a working title, several promising throughlines, characters who continue chatting with me after I've made my daily quota.
I gained so much momentum during Nanowrimo last month that I'm embarking on another writing push this month. In deference to the holidays, my goal is more modest (and realistic): 25,000 words. I'm calling it NanoHoHo.
Word count after this morning's butt in chair time: 1,446.
1. For the fact that we celebrated our extended family Thanksgiving the Saturday before the actual holiday; otherwise, E's most recent illness would have cancelled yet another celebration/holiday/activity/fill in the blank.
2. For the power of antibiotics.
3. For the fact that E felt strong enough to venture out of the house on Saturday for an afternoon showing of Tangled.
4. For Nanowrimo which gave me a gold ring to strive for and capture!
E's temp worsened. So did her cough. Instead of finishing up Nanowrimo yesterday, E and I spent the majority of the day in the doctor's office, doing tests at the nearest hospital, juggling barf buckets while driving, following up with various physicians, and visiting the pharmacy. Operating on three interrupted hours of sleep max. Spent a good part of the night with the baby monitor plastered to my head, straining to hear E breathe after giving her the first dose of a heavy-duty cough med labeled with all kinds of warnings. Fortunately, the med kicked in blessedly fast. Unfortunately, it did nothing to silence my writer's brain which, in hyper drive by then, conjured up countless scenarios of how things could go wrong. Need sleep.Add a Comment
Seriously? Based on the current count on my Nanowrimo novel, I'll be finished with my requisite 50,000 words by Wednesday! I honestly didn't expect to get this far. Blessing the Powers that Be, pinching myself, and praying that Elena's temp doesn't go any higher, which would mean a break in the momentum. But even if I have to take some time off, things might work out. Technically, the contest goes until the 30th.Add a Comment
We're heading to Nashville soon for the National Little People of America Conference. My little red suitcase is nearly filled. It's waiting on the bed for a few last-minutes necessities...my toothbrush, my slippers, my journal, a book, and notes for a new project.
It's a story I began years ago while studying for my MFA from Vermont College, but I didn't pursue because I didn't have the courage to write it. Now, it seems, my muse is ready to face that dark attic; so, in the notebook will go. Then it's down to the kitchen to finish gathering up the rest.
On the to-do list there:
1. Mobile medicine cabinet and equipment--some of it for P & I, most of it for E who requires round the clock meds and monitoring for various conditions.
2. Portable pantry and cooler--again, most of it for E, whose sodium-restricted diet (she can have 1000 mg or less a day) requires MAJOR creativity on the road.
3. Service dog gear--for E's service dog Jewel. Food, check. Bowls, check. Leash and a couple toys, check, check. And, lots of baggies for poop patrol.
4. Dancing shoes--The conference will include meetings with physicians who specialize in E's form of dwarfism. We'll also hear from people on the cutting edge of research on primordial dwarfism. There will also be frank talk with physicians and families about the sobering prognosis for anyone with this forma of dwarfism.
The hard reality is none of the boys have lived past twenty and less than a handful of girls have lived to 25. E is 18. I imagine if any one of the parents in our group stopped long enough to think through the short time God has loaned us our children, we'd find it hard to get anything done. Which is why we need the dancing shoes.
There's a dance at the convention each night. The girls have packed a dress for every one of them.
And we've all packed our dancing shoes.
All writers need inspiration. My family is mine. And so are the experiences we share together. Our recent trip to Nashville was no exception. Just a few of the things my muse is amused about:
1. E has a twin. Doesn't matter that A is younger than E by 6 years. Doesn't matter that they live in different states. The two look so much alike that people were calling them by the wrong name all week. It was a hoot, and, to E, must have looked as if she were staring at herself in a mirror. They have the same nose. Same silky black hair. Same almond eyes. Same attitude and sense of humor. When the two met for the first time, E stared at A for a few beats then declared, "We-ell, she has different glasses than me."
2. Nashville serves a mean pulled pork sandwich. We discovered this our first night there. We ate at a place called Jack's Barbecue, a hole in the wall located along Broadway in the heart of the entertainment district. It was 9:30 at night by the time we went out looking for dinner, but the town was hopping. The sidewalks teamed with people sightseeing, shopping and hopping from one nightspot to the next. Band's played in store front windows. Music poured out into the street. At Jack's, we waited in a line 20 some people deep to get our family-style meal of pulled pork sandwiches, mac n cheese and beans. The meal blew my Weight Watchers points for the day, but it was SO worth it.
3. Little People of America LPs know how to party. In addition to back to back programming all day, there was a dance every night. We wore our dancing shoes every night we could. The dances didn't start until 10, but that didn't stop E and S from going strong. Can you say power naps?
4. E participated in the talent show. Her act: she spoke to the crowd of 2,500 strong about her service dog Jewel. Hubby P accompanied E, serving as a kind of interviewer to help get her started and keep her on track. They both did an amazing job.
5. S learned how fun it is to play elevator tag in a 30+ story hotel.
6. P & I relived our BC (before children) days by stopping at Mammoth Cave on the way home to do some caving. The decision was totally spontaneous, which was a breakthrough for us. We haven't been that kind of spontaneous since before E got so sick. As you might imagine, few caves are handicapped accessible. So, P, bless his heart, carried down the trail to the cave entrance. And then he carried her 80 steps down into the cave and 80 steps back up again when we were done. E loved it. S did, too, after she realized that the bats and other cave critters were more scared of us than she was of them.
7. Our glasses fogged up after we left the cave.
8. I need a vacation from the vacation but will need to hold off until after my Alumni Mini Residency at Vermont College. In addition to the editors and agents who will be there, Fantasy Day guest speakers include Holly Black and Gregory Maguire. I leave Thursday, and have to say I'm seriously looking forward to refilling the well.
My trip to the Vermont College mini residency mid last month was awesome, inspiring, invigorating. In the wake of the long weekend, I've been thinking a lot lately about writing, the creative process, my process, and what makes a successful writer.
Take, for example, the act of sitting butt in chair for the hard work of writing. While listening to lectures and readings by Tobin Anderson, Gregory Maguire and Holly Black, Tim Wynne-Jones, Franny Billingsley, Sharon Darrow, Kathi Appelt, Jacqueline Woodson, Coe Booth, and more, it was so easy to imagine coming home and immersing myself in my work-in-progress for hours and days at a time.
Then I returned home.
Vermont College weaves a wondrous spell during its residencies. You get to immerse yourself in the craft while someone else cooks, someone else arranges your schedule, someone else worries about where the kids need to go, wear, eat, etc. But let's face it. Unless you have a wife, the life of a writer outside of the VC bubble is less idyllic and a lot more complicated.
I'd love the luxury of wearing my writer's hat full time. I can't. I'm a writer mom of three girls, two with special needs. On any given day, I've been known to wear multiple hats at once: mom, personal assistant, medical coordinator, educational advocate, disabilities advocate, cook, chauffeur. Some days, there's no room for my writer's hat, no matter how hard I try to keep it on.
I'm not saying this to complain. I sharing this in hopes of giving perspective to fellow writers who may be feeling the same way I do; who worry that they'll never finish their projects; who fret that they'll never find an agent, editor, fill in the blank; who look at their growing to-do lists and the people and things that keep them from sitting butt in chair, and wonder why they even try.
More often than not, the simple act of sitting butt in chair for the hard work of writing is anything but simple. But fresh from VC, I'm inspired to fight for my time in that chair.
So today marks the first in a series of posts about my writing process, what works for me, and how I'm fighting for my writer's life.
Next time: Butt in chair time. How I fight for it and win.
Say what? A free online kidlit conference? It's true. Check out this link to WriteOnCon for more info. The schedule is impressive. So is list of agents and editors who will be in attendance. Better yet you can attend from the comfort of your own home in your pjs.Add a Comment
Wondering if you're in the right critigue group? Don't miss this excellent interview with Becky Levine, the author of The Writing & Critigue Group Survival Guide. Reading & Writing by Candlelight: Interview & Book Giveaway with Author Becky Levine!Add a Comment
The school year started out so well. E was finally plugged into a promising program, one with a talented team committed to helping her reach her goal of going out into the community to tell her story and talk about service dogs.
Unfortunately, a couple of weeks into the school year, something caught E and she ended up with the horrid cold everyone else on the planet got. It wasn't so bad at first. Her spirits were high and her fever was manageable. But then the stupid cold morphed. Suddenly, the sinuses took center stage. Then a virus came to roost, and then bronchitis and another sinus thing.
If you've been wondering why this journal has stayed silent for so long this is why.
Days of illness turned into weeks. I tried keeping up because after all, I'm the point person on the homefront. It's my job to keep up, right? I wrote, revised, advocated, juggled, planned, prepped, coordinated, you name it. Until lack of sleep and the stress of the on-going illnesses made it impossible to do anything well at all.
Out of necessity, I cut my to-do list down to the most critical tasks. At the top of the list: getting E well enough to go back to school.
It's probably no surprise to anyone on the outside that my writing suffered during this couple-months-long-and-then-some period. Days went by without a chance to write. Other days I sat down at my keyboard, but my characters refused to play. Or I was interrupted by thoughts of all the things I should be doing instead of writing. Laundry. Dishes. Meals. Bills. You name it.
Then doubt came to roost, courtesy of the mugwump, the matted, hate-filled monster that serves as my inner critic. In recent months I had managed to cage and muzzle it. But it found a way out, and on my rare writing days, it perched in the corner of the office, whispered in my ear, eroded my confidence even further.
One day in particular, the mugwump nearly got the best of me. Rather than perch atop one of the bookcases, it alighted on my shoulder.
Seriously? it said. You're still working on that book? I hate to break it to you. It doesn't have a chance. But you know that already, don't you? You know how I know this fact? Your fear. It permeates the room like a sweet perfume.
By now my fingers had stopped typing. My characters had fled and my train of thought derailed.
The mugwump purred as it rubbed its quills against my cheek. You've been at this how many years? Through how many revisions? Why do you persist in torturing yourself? Think how much easier your life would be if you didn't have this book hanging arond your neck like a noose. Give it up. Do it now. No one would fault you if you stopped. Give. It. Up.
The truth is it almost had me that day. E was no stranger to illnesses, or hospitalizations for that matter. But this latest round of illnesses was different. I can't tell you why, but this time around I came closer than I've ever had to giving up on my writing.
I saw the line. I nearly crossed it. I was convinced that doing so would make life so much easier.
I didn't cross it. For reasons I bless, but don't yet understand, I couldn't do it.
There was no epic battle between good and evil. There was no divine intervention. To this day, I can't explain why I didn't do it.
E returned to school a couple weeks after that. She eased her way into her day, a few hours at a time. I eased my way back into a routine. I reaquainted myself with my characters. I determined their story was still worth telling. Along the way, the mugwump lost its voice and toddled back to its cage, its barbed tail between its legs, suffering me to lock it back in.
So here I am. Back in the saddle. It feels good to be typing again.
Did I mention I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year? The last few months have been so crazed that I didn't intend to do it. I mean seriously. Why add more stress to my life when between illnesses, school IEP "adventures", and attempting to navigate the very broken adult disability services system in Illinois, I have more than enough to go around?
But then as November 1st drew near, some fellow critique group members (you know who you are) encouraged me to go for it. In a moment of weakness, I jumped into the deep end, thinking that even if all I managed to write by the end of the month was a couple of thousand words I'd be content.
To win Nanowrimo, a participant must write 50,000 words (the equivalent of a novel) by November 30th. Today, I passed the 30,000 word mark! As much as I dread dragging myself out of bed at o-dark thirty every morning to meet my quota, it feels SO good to have made it this far.
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