The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Twenty-one

The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway’s book for day twenty–one is Allison Winn Scotch’s novel, Time ofAWC cover My Life.

Have you ever wondered “What if?”

Meet Jillian Westfield. She has the perfect suburban life straight out of the upscale women’s magazines that she obsessively reads. She’s got the modern-print rugs of Metropolitan Home, the elegant meals from Gourmet, the clutter-free closets out of Real Simple, and the elaborate Easter egg hunts seen in Parents. With her successful investment banker husband behind the wheel and her cherubic eighteen-month-old in the backseat, hers could be the family in the magazines’ glossy Range Rover ads.

Yet somehow all of the how-to magazine stories in the world can’t seem to fix Jillian’s faltering marriage, banish the tedium of days spent changing diapers, or stop her from asking, “What if?”

Then one morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past. Before her daughter was born. Before she married Henry. Suddenly she’s back in her post–grad school Ikea-furnished Manhattan apartment. She’s back in her fast-paced job with the advertising agency. And she’s still with Jackson, the ex-boyfriend and star of her what-if fantasies.

Armed with twenty-twenty hindsight, she’s free to choose all over again. She can use the zippy ad campaigns from her future to wow the clients and bosses in her present. She can reconnect with the mother who abandoned her so many years before. She can fix the fights at every juncture that doomed her relationship with Jackson. Or can she?

With each new choice setting off a trajectory of unforeseen consequences, Jillian soon realizes that getting to “happily ever after” is more complicated than changing the lines in her part of the script. Happiness, it turns out, isn’t an either-or proposition. As she closes in on all the things she thought she wanted, Jillian must confront the greatest what-if of all: What if the problem was never Henry or Jackson, but her?

Sharp, funny, and heartwarming, Time of My Life will appeal to anyone who has ever wanted to redo the past and will leave readers pondering, “Do we get the reality we deserve?”

Author Bio:

Allison Winn Scotch is the New York Times best selling author of the novels Time of My Life and The Departmentscotch_allison_winn of Lost and Found. She is also a frequent contributor to numerous magazines including American Baby, American Way, Bride’s, Cooking Light, Fitness, Glamour, InStyle Weddings, Men’s Health, Parents, Prevention, Redbook, Self, Shape, Woman’s Day, and Women’s Health. She lives in New York with her husband and two children.

If you are new to the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

Today’s question is…

What if…you could go back in time and do things differently with your writing career. Would you? Or would you do everything pretty much the same. (Go ahead and fantasize because I’m offering you a time-travel to your past. So…what if?

Give me the goods in 50-200 words, please. 🙂

Before you go! WE HAVE A CAUSE TO RAISE MONEY FOR THIS YEAR! Please read the story about the Applin family here and consider making a small contribution at some point during the giveaway. We’re aiming for $100/day collectively. Please help us help the Applin family adopt two beautiful children from Russia. 🙂


38 Responses to “The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway 2009, Day Twenty-one”

  1. 1 Holly Rutchik September 21, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Yippie! This is one really fun!
    If I could go back, I would trust. I would trust in myself and the passion I had from such a young age. I was always a good writer, but my spelling was so bad I was turned off from ever dreaming of building my life on words. Now here I am, at 28. Being a mom made me realize I have to reach for my dreams if I want to teach my daughters to do so! So, I would love, love, love, to go back in time and trust my dream. I would also like ot tell my college self to not waste my education (you know, the one I am paying for now!) I would major in creative writing and be proud to do so!

  2. 2 Joyce Lansky September 21, 2009 at 5:02 am

    If I could go back, I would have started writing at a much younger age. As a kid, I knew I wanted to write yet chose a different path. I was well into my forties before I started writing. Perhaps before then I wasn’t ready, but now that I’ve discovered writing, I wonder why I waited so long to get started.

    Once I started writing, I jumped in with both feet and have done everything right, with the possible exception of querying before manuscripts were ready. I wouldn’t change much except maybe have put away more for retirement at a younger age so I could retire sooner and spend more time writing.

  3. 3 Renee Roberson September 21, 2009 at 5:24 am

    This is kind of out of my control, but I wish I had learned about the beauty of freelancing in college. We had a magazine writing course, but nothing that outlined freelance writing as a career or how to go about getting started. The years I spend working in advertising and public relations served me well, but I certainly wish I had began investigating freelance writing long before my daughter was born. I got laid off from an advertising agency right after my husband and I purchased our first house, and we had no money saved! I took on a few contract media planning and proofreading jobs, but eventually ended up waiting tables to help pay the bills. Learning about and getting my feet wet in freelance writing would have certainly been a welcome alternative!

  4. 4 Jaymie September 21, 2009 at 5:38 am

    If I could go back, I would take a few writing courses in college (well, I would do a lot of things different regarding college courses, but this question is specifically about writing). I took just enough English to meet my requirements, and the courses were all literature based. Maybe if I had done that, I would have looked at writing as a creative outlet and a possible career much earlier than I did.

  5. 5 Laural September 21, 2009 at 6:58 am

    My focus on writing has definitely been in fits and starts. I finished a novel 10 years ago. If I had charted solid work and lots of it directly between that accomplishment and the present? I think I’d be much further along than I am now. As it was, my writing time slowed to almost none in the years after my second child (hmm…and I went back to work full-time). And the writing didn’t start again until they were both in school.

    My writing got started then by taking classes to get me going. First a novel writing class, then a non-fiction writing and publishing class (Christina’s!) – yes, I’d definitely do those again. And I became a much better writer by joining a writer’s group and getting steady assignments from a regional publication – I’d definitely do those again too.

  6. 6 Cara Holman September 21, 2009 at 8:01 am

    That’s easy! I’d start sooner. Much sooner. When my children were young, how often did I read those parenting tips in newspapers or magazines, and think, I could be writing those. I guess I didn’t write for the longest time, because somehow I felt like you needed special credentials to be a writer like a journalism degree or an MFA in creative writing. Now I realize that the only credentials you need are the desire to write, the willingness to learn, and a strong work ethic. I’ll be making up for lost time!

  7. 7 writerinspired September 21, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Fun question for a fun book giveaway (so bummed I missed the Fire in Fiction: was all wrapped up in my brother’s wedding on Saturday)

    Anyway, if allowed to go back and change my writing pattern/career, I would have pursued publication and taken my writing talents more seriously at a younger age. I can only imagine how much further along I’d be now if I took more risks and climbed out of my shell to get more involved in the writing community. I only hope I can influence young writers (including my son) to start now! Write their hearts out and learn the markets; participate in public readings and submit their work to contests; continue to develop their craft by writing daily and taking advantage of the world of resources.
    As for me: better late than never, eh?

  8. 8 Maribeth September 21, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I am happy with the decisions I made up to this point with my writing career. I knew initially I was taking a long road and that was okay with me. I knew it was important for me to educate and familiarize myself with the craft before I truly pursued being published. I chose to take writing courses, join critique groups and read,read,read. I submitted few things and looking back I can see clearly now why those things submitted were rejected.
    In college, I wrote a poem about a ladybug. At the time, I thought nothing of it other than it was an assignment.(I wasn’t aware at that point that writing was my passion-though I should have been).
    I was completely surprised when my professor stopped me on campus one day and asked for my permission to include my poem in their annual literary magazine. I was flattered but still the light bulb didn’t click on. When I brought home the magazine, my father told me that it may be important to me one day and he was right. If I could go back I would have recognized sooner writing was my first love and start my career earlier.

  9. 9 Carol J. Alexander September 21, 2009 at 8:09 am

    If I could go back…what an easy thing to dream about. If I went back, I would be a career woman, working for a national magazine, probably living alone, eating take-out, burning the midnight oil on the computer, never taking the time to take care of myself…or anyone else. Now, I have it all, instead–a devoting and caring husband that supports everything I do, six wonderful children to nurture and shape, a home in the country where I raise a lot of our food AND a freelance career set at my own pace. No, I wouldn’t go back and change a thing.

  10. 10 Janel September 21, 2009 at 8:10 am

    If I could go back I would definitely change things. I kept writing as a dream, relegated to the back of my mind, especially when I was in college. I should have at least taken more writing classes back then, when it was easier. Now I try to learn from websites and books since the prospect of even one or two college courses seems too daunting. I wish I could give my younger self the confidence and perseverance that I’ve now grown into.

  11. 11 Meryl Evans September 21, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Even with the one gig that didn’t work out, I’m glad I took it on because I learned and grew from the experience. My biggest regret is not pursuing social media marketing sooner in terms of writing about it. I was an early adopter (actually, I thought I was late to the Twitter game, but turns out I wasn’t), and I missed the boat despite having learned my lesson a few years earlier. It’s an area where I can help others, share experiences and easily write about it.

    Second regret: Should’ve enrolled in Christina’s August platform class. It was a busy time and I didn’t realize another wouldn’t come up for a while.

  12. 12 Brianne A September 21, 2009 at 8:43 am

    If I could go back in time, I would have started this all a LONG time ago. I would have taken more writing courses in college, and perhaps even majored in English or Creative Writing. Knowing what I know now, I would have believed in myself and believed that a writing career was really possible, despite all of the naysayers.

    On the other hand, I’m a believer that life unfolds exactly as it’s supposed to. Perhaps there have been some valuable lessons along the way, which I needed, before I could get to the point where I am today.

  13. 13 Beth Cato September 21, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Ah, this is the very nature of speculative fiction. As much as I would like to say “I would have started writing and submitting much sooner,” it isn’t as simple as that. My writing career wasn’t created in a vacuum. It started when it did because I was at a low in my life, stuck at home with a baby, and I needed something to keep me going. All the life experiences I had accumulated worked into my writing, too – motherhood, Navy deployments, family deaths.

    I wish I could have started writing earlier, but it happened when it did for a reason.

  14. 14 Jenny September 21, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Going back always sounds tempting and if I could change one thing, maybe I would have started freelancing earlier. However, emerging from college with an English lit degree and student loans meant that I was lucky to get jobs writing at all. So I don’t regret my corporate experience–I learned how to become a better writer and I learned to write for an audience, two things that are important as I embark on my non-fiction/fiction writing endeavors.

    I also don’t regret taking time off to focus on my 2 kids. They have given me new focus with my career and have served as an inspiration many times. I wouldn’t be published without them!

  15. 15 Rebecca September 21, 2009 at 8:58 am

    If I could turn back time, I’d drop all the wasted electives I took at college and sign up for writing courses instead. I’d also make more of an effort to take notes on the adventures I had as a tour director during my 20s. I write primarily children’s fiction now, and I didn’t discover I enjoyed writing for children until I actually had a child in my late 30s. I can’t see myself changing that aspect of my writing because I wouldn’t have wanted to have children any earlier in my life, and wouldn’t have rediscovered children’s literature until then–so for the most part, I’m satisfied with where I am today.

  16. 16 Dawn Herring September 21, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Perhaps I would have gotten started earlier, but at the same time I believe there is a time and a place for everything. Since I was homeschooling both of my daughters when I got started, I don’t think it would have been possible to start much earlier than I did. The only thing I think I would’ve changed if I didn’t have all my other responsibilities would have been to spend more time writing my novel at the beginning; but, alas, I believe I’m still where I should be even with that. What I have learned in my life experience has given my novel more depth in the long run.

    I’ve also learned to look at the bigger picture and am grateful for all the ‘responsibility’ I do have with raising a family and managing an electrical contracting office.

    My writing is enriched by my life. One day at a time.

  17. 17 Carrie Ure September 21, 2009 at 9:17 am

    There is really only one thing I would do differently with my writing career if I could somehow turn the clocks back to that day, at the age of 16, when I vowed to write professionally some day. I would have started sooner! Perhaps the real moral of the story is that it sometimes takes reaching middle age to understand just how fleeting and precious life is. It just doesn’t make any sense not to do what we absolutely love. Everyday. Now.

  18. 18 karen k September 21, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Would I! I would ignore my hesitation at jumping in. I’d laugh at my insecurity when hitting the send button and do it anyway. I’d hire more babysitters or hit up friends for help. I’d write it all down. I’d go to bed earlier. I’d ask for what I want–more money, more room, less static. I’d settle in with a good cd and just get it done. Period.

  19. 19 Cheryl M September 21, 2009 at 9:20 am

    I think back to my first year in college when I was taking both English and chemistry. I decided I could always read on my own, but I couldn’t learn chemistry on my own. What if I’d continued in English instead? I always found analyzing books rather tedious, but maybe I would have discovered I liked writing many years before now. Of course, not going to graduate school in chemistry would have meant not meeting my husband and I wouldn’t want to change that (or our three kids!).

  20. 20 Jessica Varin September 21, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Being young, there isn’t much of a past to go back to. My writing career is at it’s best in the present and future.

    Sometimes I wish I had started writing courses earlier in college. However, the learning opportunities I had pursuing other paths were valuable. I don’t regret those experiences.

    I guess the best is yet to come.

  21. 21 Brandy September 21, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I had thought about majoring in English in college, and was told not to unless I wanted to teach. I was strongly encouraged to purse another major. Now I wish I had just gone ahead and majored in English in the first place. It would have put me that much closer to my career goals, and it would have given me more confidence to know that I actually had a more formal education when it came to writing.

  22. 22 Kristin September 21, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    “Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy” as my 7½ year old says. I would have had more faith in myself and in my writing. I was always too concerned about “what everyone would think.” Somewhere I lost my voice. I was too afraid to let people read my writing. I was scared my writing would suck or I couldn’t take the criticism. During the birth of my second child I had some challenges to face. Some of my medical professionals felt differently than I felt, so I realized I had to take the plunge and stand up for my unborn baby and myself. I followed my intuition and though my voice began as a whisper it came back, I started writing again and sometimes I even SHOUT when needed!

  23. 23 writethejourney September 21, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Fun, juicy question! Okay, if I could go back, I would look directly at my professors and say, “I’m sorry about the [small] scholarship and everything, but all I really want to do is write.” That’s right, I’d major in English and go on to do graduate work in writing and then go from there.

    Ah. That feels good to write it down. The story is similar to the experiences of many: I would trust myself. I thought of writing as a hobby or “something I’m good at.” Unfortunately, I didn’t see the “good at” piece as “good enough to do for a living” until now. But life has unfolded for me in interesting ways because of my early (sometimes uninformed) choices. And that will inform my writing, or at least give me fodder.

    And now I really want to read this book!

  24. 24 Lorraine Wilde September 21, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    I would agree with some of the other writers here, I would have taken more writing courses in college instead of those fillers. Oh to have that unproductive time back! And now I feel that my time is so strapped that I would be too anxious to sit in a writing class.

    I just signed up for a 12 hour retreat, in which I spent more than half that time working on my writing, and at the end felt like I could easily do two more stints back to back.

    It seems like the hard part is finding time (at least this week). I wish I would have spent more time writing in my 20’s, and watching fewer bad TV programs. But hindsight is 20/20.

    If I had a do over, I would be sure to meet and befriend more writers. I learn so much from the one’s I know now. Imagine where I’d be now if I’d gotten into this sooner?!

  25. 25 Liz September 21, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I’m trying to learn from what I regret not doing when I was a younger writer and putting that into action now. I regret not sending stuff off to publications in the past, so I’m doing it now. I regret not taking more workshops or classes to further develop my skills, so I’m taking them now. I regretted not finding a group of peers or a community to help me hold myself accountable, and so I joined a writing group! While I do have regrets, I also think that my experiences up to now are also what put me in a place where I was willing to take on these new challenges. It’s all good.

  26. 26 Marnie M September 21, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    If I could go back to when I first knew that I loved to write and would have had a plan in place to get to where I want to be now I would be at such a different place in my life now. But there is always a plan and a purpose in everything, I believe. If I had done it differently back then I might not be the person that I am today with the experiences that I have had and that would definitely determine how and what I would write about.

    But I still “dream” about the what if–what if I had been encouraged to follow my dreams, what if I had been told I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it, what if I felt like I had all the self confidence in the world….so many what ifs. But I have to be happy with where I am at today because it truly is right where I am supposed to be.

    I am very excited for the possiblities, the learning, exploring, meeting new people along this path, and the blessings along the way. What if we never felt like we had to wonder about what if–that we just knew that this is it, that we are right where we are supposed to be.

    I am interested in reading Allison Winn Scotch book because we all can relate to this story of what if. :o)

  27. 27 Ginny September 21, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    If I could go back–ah, if only. I would have more confidence in my abilities. I would have done more internships in college and grad school. I would have joined more organizations and networked far more heavily, and I wouldn’t have done a crazy cycle of querying, getting rejected, not querying, and feeling down. I would have realized that the rejections weren’t the end of the world.

  28. 28 Pat D. September 21, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    If I could go back is a game I play all the time. As for my writing I would have finished the little outline I wrote about aliens hunting the deer hunters in the California mountains. I would have gone to school to learn all I could about writing instead of “just” being a wife and Mom.
    Make no mistake being a Mom is the best thing I have ever done… I’m just saying…

  29. 29 Joanna September 21, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I wish I’d known there was such a thing as freelance writing nonfiction articles and creative nonfiction out there. No one talks about that in your English classes — at least, they didn’t then. At the time, it was fiction and technical writing So I focused on technical writing because it felt sensible. Not sure that’s something to regret. I guess I wish I had written more at a younger age, gotten the writing ball rolling, had taken some writing classes when I had more time before kids. But honestly, I think it’s all unfolding just the way it’s supposed to.

  30. 30 Daree Allen September 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    If I could go back and change my writing past, I would have saved my creative work from my youth. I used to write songs (and recorded them, too!) and short stories. I have kept very few of them, but I have always had a journal. (One of the funniest creative works I still have is a composition book in which my friends and I wrote scenes of our own soap opera.)

    As a technical writer, I don’t flex my creativity muscle as much as I did back then, and it would come in handy now that I have decided to write articles and freelance regularly.

  31. 31 Heidi Cogdill September 21, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    If I was given the opportunity to go back in time…I would! I would let myself make mistakes and allow myself the freedom to just write. I was always very hard on myself, my internal critic always on high alert. I would have majored in creative writing and I would have established a strict writing schedule before I had kids.

  32. 32 Laura September 21, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    If I could go back, I’d go back to when I first wanted to write-the day I figured out that someone actually made up what was in those books. I was in elementry school at that time. I’d find a way to pursue that dream. In 8th grade, when the assignment was to research our dream job, I would find someone who was a writer, and get the details from them (instead of getting discouraged when it wasn’t listed in the career books).

    I’d have taken my writing seriously. When my college years came, I’d have gone into journalism, or some other writing field. I would take my dreams seriously, even if I had no other encouragement than myself.

    But since I can’t go back (unless I find a convenient TARDIS or Bill & Ted’s phone booth), I can put more effort & more belief into this dream now.

  33. 33 Mary September 21, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    What if I had had the nerve to stand up to my father and tell him I had no interest in the sciences and wanted to be a librarian that wrote novels at night. I was about 2 when my father started telling me that I was going to be a doctor. While growing up, I guess out of fear, I just did what I was told. My parents were immigrants and it was a strict home where Father ruled the roost. He did the same to my sisters and brother. Announced that Patty was going to be a lawyer, Danny an electrician, Maureen a ..I cannot remember etc..etc.

    I went to college and majored in biochemstry. Every elective I took was a creating writing, drama or an english class. I spent my senior year in England studying at the Tate and taking classes on English and Irish writers. I excelled at these classes and got C’s in my science courses.

    Fast forward 20 some odd years and here I am working as a microbiologist in a laboratory. I cannot wait to get home at night so I can make entries into my blog and read whatever best seller I am devouring at the moment.

    Telling my father that I was not going to medical school was the scariest thing I ever had to do. What if I had had the strength to tell him, while in high school, that my favorite class was Open Read. We had one semester to read 10 books, any thing we wanted to, and keep a journal on each of them. It was fantastic, that was the same semester I got a D in Physical Chemistry.

    I wanted to show him how I categorized and entered in a marble notebook, the hundreds of his schematics he had downstairs in the bookcase, but I never did.

    I know he meant well, he just wanted us to make it.

    What if I never tell my kids to follow their hearts and their own dreams…

  34. 34 Judy September 21, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    What a great question!

    Would I go back? Yes – and no.

    Yes, because I would have that much more writing experince under my belt. I might be more creative, whimsical.

    No, because I’ve gained patience, wisdom, perspective, focus, and perservance as time has gone on – and I feel these help me as a writer. It’s fun to be able to continue learning.

  35. 35 Tammy September 21, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    If I could go back knowing what I know now, I would and the first thing I would do is not burn my journal from my teenage years. I remember being so embarrassed by it in my twenties, but am now very nostalgic for it in my forties. It could be proof that I was once-upon-a-time young, naive, hopeful and romantic. I could get it published today as a coming of age in the 70s novel.

  36. 36 Mar Junge September 21, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    I’d want to be born into a family of successful authors so that I’d get a jumpstart on living the writing life and be on a first-name basis with publishers.

    In that life, I’d be armed with the courage to sacrifice everything for my craft, like Floyd Salsas, a novelist and my mentor who, when given a house by his parents, gave it back so he wouldn’t have to get a job to make house payments. That would have detracted from his writing time. Or like Claire Ortalda, my former business partner who had an engineer husband and house in the suburbs and gave it all up to marry Floyd.

    Or maybe I’d want to be like Steven King, with the natural talent to craft stories that flow like water without having to take classes about plot and scene and character development.

    But if I had all that, I might not have three wonderful children, a loving husband, fantastic friends and a challenging career. So since I can’t change the past, looking forward, I want to live long enough to finish my novel. And write two or three more after that, all best sellers, of course.

  37. 37 Jenna/The Word Cellar September 22, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    If I could go back and change things….

    I would give my childhood self a real-life literary mentor who would introduce me to great classics and books from a young age.

    I would not stop writing in college when I discovered really good writing and let fear and intimidation silence my voice for too many years.

    I would embrace my identity and worth as a writer much earlier, without so much of the angst.

    But even so, I have to say I’m grateful for the writing path I took and for where it’s brought me. There’s so much journey ahead, and I’m really looking forward to it!

  1. 1 Day Twenty-One: And the winner is… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 22, 2009 at 8:23 pm
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