Archive for July, 2008

Self-care for Mom Writers: July & August are for Water

Amy MercerSwimming lessons are very different for my boys here in the south than they were for me as a child growing up in the north. I remember standing at the edge of the pool in Vermont shivering, my teeth clacking together, before I stepped-one foot at a time-into the freezing pool water. My boys plunge headfirst into the pool for their swim lessons in July and August in order to escape the cloudless, white, saran-wrap heat of the south.

I float alongside the lanes to watch, cheer and pretend I’m a mermaid mama. Water, whether it is lakes, oceans, rivers, ponds or the creek, has always soothed me so that when I emerge, I am renewed. Water seeps into my essay writing in the form of metaphors; I am “kicking to keep my head above the water,” or “drowning in the sea of my son’s worries” or, “my passion for books is steady and unchanging like the pull of the tide.”

My book-in-progress is called, “Dreaming About Water.” So, if water is as soothing for you as it is for me, go to the beach, or the lake or the river with your children, submerge yourself in water. You will all sleep better that night.

Get Watery:

·    I know I can use a few reminders on the proper breathing techniques and since swimming is an excellent workout (good for the whole body and the mind), why not take swimming lessons with your kids? Come home and write about your first swimming lesson and compare it to your child’s, how was it different or the same?
·    Curl up on the beach while your children splash in a gully and read one of the following books for examples of water metaphors: The Sea by John Banville, Salt Water by Charles Simmons, or The Seas by Samantha Hunt. When you come home that night, read your children one of these wonderful water stories: Dear Fish by Chris Gall, The Fish Who Cried Wolf by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler or Flotsam by David Wiesner.
·    Take a walk on the beach in the early evening, get the blood flowing to your brain, bring your kids and let them collect shells while you wander ahead or behind, seeking inspiration.
·    Take surfing lessons, train for a triathlon, put your body in water and see what inspires you. Invent your own water metaphors.

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Amy S. Mercer is a freelance writer living in Charleston, SC with her husband and two sons. Her writing has been published in skirt! Magazine, Literary Mama, Diabetes Forecast and A Cup of Comfort for Writers. Amy is Blog Editor for Literary Mama and Associate editor for The Writer Mama Zine. More at Dreaming About Water.

The Northwest Author Series 2008-2009 Lineup

After much careful consideration, I’m pleased to announce the lineup of authors for the Northwest Author Series in our second season. You can see the list of 2008-2009 presenters for yourself here.

If you are local and you think you might like to attend, please click on the little envelope in the upper right hand corner of the blog and sign up for the Northwest Author Series reminders.

My little charges

Back from another night at the show. It would have been my eighth night straight watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers but I only caught the second half. (Any former drama kids in our writer mama ranks? If so, you might enjoy these photos of the show.) There’s just one of my daughter about half-way through. She’s not on stage much, but she sure makes the most of it when she is. 🙂

My second little charge these days is that little “kitten” I posted about a couple of weeks ago.

Turns out she is indeed pregnant and now we are fostering her until eight weeks after the kittens are born. Wish us luck. I’ve never had a pet that has had babies before. I just hope they don’t decide to come while I’m away at the Willamette Writers Conference! Especially since my husband and daughter already have our five other pets to care for without good ol’ mom around to help.

I’m a little nervous.

Bookmark These Sites, Mamas! Renee’s Pages

Tiffani Hill-Patterson
Keeping it real: Renee’s Pages

Freelance writer and mom Renee Roberson likes to share. In her blog, Renee’s Pages, she passes along information she’s learned along the way, “so other writers may not have to go through as much ‘trial and error’ as I have in my journey.”

She’s not afraid to admit her mistakes and how she bounces back from them. “I try not to let those mistakes bring me down and keep me from doing what I love the most – writing.”

Roberson’s humor also shines as she shows readers that you can balance motherhood with writing.

Swing by her blogspot and see what you can learn from her.

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Tiffani Hill-Patterson is an award-winning journalist with thirteen years of writing and editing experience. She’s a regular contributor to The Writer Mama zine and Birmingham Parent magazine, and her articles on health, parenting, fitness and pop culture have also appeared in The Huntsville Times, The Moulton Advertiser and The TimesDaily. She lives in Alabama with her husband and daughter. Read more at http://www.tiffanihillpatterson.com.

Write Like a Pro: How to Spend Summer Vacation

Mary AndonianMid-summer and your well-intentioned plans to launch a writing career have officially stalled. But it’s not because of a lack of talent or motivation; it’s because your kids are home on summer vacation.

What to do? First of all, we’re into July so you can kiss June goodbye and stop fretting over the “lost days.” Consider it a break before your next creative frenzy. The good news is that most publishers practically shut down during the summer months so you’re not alone in your pool time. The bad news is if you continue to slack, you’re at risk of losing any hard fought momentum you may have gained since spring.

Begin by organizing your workspace and materials. This is something you can do with the kids at your side. You can even pay them to be runners between your filing cabinet and the recycle bin. Kids love whiteboards. Have them help you make a project list on a whiteboard and then assign a “percentage complete” value next to each title. You’ll get a snapshot of where your writing is headed; they get a refresher in math that’s masked as “helping mommy.”

Do you like your neighbor and her children? Arrange a swap where you take all the kids one day, and then she takes them the next. When I was in a new moms’ group, we created laminated “Baby Bucks,” good for one hour of babysitting time apiece. We would use them like money and it created an equitable and efficient way of paying each other for services. I wrote many of my first essays this way.

Can you afford camp? Block out one week to send your kids and then make that time boot-camp week for your writing. I did this when I sent my girls to a local church summer preschool program. For one week I packed lunches for all of us and after dropping them off in their rooms, I retreated to another room in the church. At the end of the camp day, I walked over to their rooms and picked them up. I wrote the first forty pages of my first book that way. If you’re going to send your kids to camp, don’t use that time for running errands or cleaning house or even for the business side of writing. Just sit down and WRITE.

Summer is also a time of rejuvenation. Look back and see how far you’ve come at the calendar’s half-way point. Celebrate as a family any “win” you may have had, regardless of how small. I was elated when I found out I had taken “Honorable Mention” in Writers Digest’s annual writing competition. Then slather on the tanning lotion and keep at it.

Oh, and if you get a chance, go to a summer writer’s conference. I’ll be at the Willamette Writers this conference soaking up all the good advice and industry updates I can. If you’ll be in the Portland, Oregon-area, I hope to see you there.

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Mary Andonian is the agents and edtiors coordinator for the Willamette Writers Conference, one of the largest writers’ conferences in the United States. In past years, she was Co-chair and Program Coordinator. She just completed her second book, Bitsy’s Labyrinth. Contact Mary at maryandonianwwconference AT yahoo.com.

The Write Attitude: Learn from the Best

Jennifer Applin
One of the best ways to figure out the real ins and outs of this business is to learn from the “pros.” Even without personally knowing them, picking their brain is easier than you think. It may be as simple as gleaning info from their websites (such as the names of publications you didn’t know exist) or actually sending them a quick email asking for their advice. Just don your networking hat and get to work. Here are some suggestions to consider:

– Do seek out any information they already offer. This may be in the form of online classes, seminars, e-zines, blogs, books, and writing forums they belong to. Don’t stalk them, but access the knowledge they readily share.

– Don’t ask questions they’ve already answered. You may be excited to learn from someone who has been there, done that, but do your research first. Check out their blog archives. Read their entire book. Make the best use of the generosity of their time by only asking questions they haven’t already addressed.

– Do remember that while many writers like to help out newbies, not all do. We’ve all been fledgling writers at some point and many of the pros remember this difficult time and want to help. Still, others will view you as competition and won’t be interested in giving you a helping hand. Don’t take this personally. They may feel that they had to learn the hard way and expect others to do the same.

– Don’t namedrop unless you’re given permission. Networking is important in this business, but just because you’re given an editor’s name doesn’t mean you should mention said gracious writer. Keep the sentence, “[Successful writer] said I should contact you,” out of your query unless you’ve specifically asked permission to use her name.

Learning from those who have been where you are and have grown to where you want to be is a good business practice. Their accomplishments can also be a great source of inspiration and learning. Just be considerate and remember that everyone’s path to success is unique, so heed all they have to offer, but pave the way that works for you.

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Jennifer Applin is a freelance writer living in Ohio with her husband and four young children. Aside from writing for many regional publications, she is regular contributor to eLearners.com and Projectworkingmom.com. She spends her days cooking, cleaning and caring for little ones, and her nights writing about pregnancy, parenting, and the quest for peace (as in peace and quiet). You can also find her at Managing the MotherLoad.

What I’m up to

Phew! It’s summer and yet it doesn’t ever get any less busy in my home office.

Especially now that we are officially in, what we call hell week for the play my husband is directing and my daughter is playing a small role in.

So, it’s official. I’m a stage mom. I’m spending 4-5 hours a night over at the theater, along with the other parent volunteers.

And I’ll tell you what, even though we’re not big on too many activities for Samantha,  she has sure loved being a part of “Daddy’s show.” I have a feeling this is just the beginning…so I’d better get used to it. 🙂

On the writing front, I am putting a big push into spreading the word about Writer Mama before back to school time, which means back to writing for many mommies. Is there anything you can do to help? Feel free to drop me a line with the name of any mama-related media contacts you have in your Rolodex. Be sure to let  me know if I can use your name. Thanks in advance for your ideas at writer mama at earthlink dot net.

I’m also organizing my Northwest Author Series for the upcoming seaosn. Looks like we are going to have a great line-up, wonderful door prizes from Writer’s Digest, supportive sponsorship from the Wilsonville Public Library, the Friends of the Wilsonville Library, and the Wilsonville Arts and Culture Council. Now all I need are refreshments…

Something else I’m organizing this week is the Writer Mama Back to School Givewaway for the month of September. It’s going to be a blast again! I’ve already lined up dozens of books from dozens of authors. Please help spread the word! I’ll announce the list of giveaways in early August. Special thanks again this year to Writers Digest Books.

I just wrapped up my new class, Crafting a Saleable Nonfiction Book Proposal, which will be repeated in January. I’ll tell you what, it’s a good thing I can still remember how intimidating/challenging/confusing drafting that first book proposal can be. It might be easy to forget after writing and selling a few books, but I assure you, I remember. The students did great. They each finished the class with a clearer understanding of what they need to do to ready themselves to pitch their book concepts and land the deal.

And last, but not least, I’ve got a new blog banner and a new blog badge to match. Feel free to post it willy-nilly all over blog land. 🙂

That’s it for me and it’s only Wednesday. I’m off to the next task on my three-page list.

What are you up to this week?


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