I fancy myself a writer.

Essays

How to know when you’ve “made it” as a writer

Hitting a writing milestone is one of the greatest feelings for a writer, especially when you meet your own self-imposed deadlines early. This week, I finished writing book two of my Valley of the Bees novel series and am now working on my second draft (my goal was to finish the rough draft by the end of March). I also just ordered the second proof of an essay collection that I am editing, titled, As Good as a Feast: Essays on Enough. Once I have reviewed this second proof, the book should be ready to go to print!

As Good as a Feast - Print Cover Image

Yesterday, an article popped up in my newsfeed. The title caught my eye, but I decided not to read it. The topic was on how to know when you’ve “made it” as a writer. I didn’t need to read it because I feel like I have already made it. (more…)


Freewriting on freewriting: A writing exercise

writing notebook

This is my writing notebook for the semester.

One of my assignments for this week was to use one of the “Ways In” exercises from chapter 2 of Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction. I ended up taking the lazy route and just did a freewrite, but I was kind of pleased with what I ended up with:

I was going to write a Springboard line, but I couldn’t find a line that appealed to me, so I’m just going to freewrite. Except, it’s hard to freewrite when you know there is a good chance that you might have to read it aloud to your classmates. The filter is automatically switched to “on,” so it almost defeats the purpose of freewriting. To me, freewriting is all about giving that inner censor a break and getting to your creative side. It’s hard to be creative with the little voice inside your head criticizing your every word.

When you freewrite, the inner censor says, “Oh, you’re sitting down to write garbage on purpose? Well, I’ll just go take a nap and rest up for next time when you sit down to write your “Great American Novel.” And of course, she laughs at you as she walks away. (more…)


Cross Cultural Perspectives on Family Violence: A Reflection

My summer course has not yielded quite as much writing material as I had hoped it might. I have entered the final week of class and have submitted all coursework as of this morning. All I have left to do now is take the final exam, and I can put one more course behind me! Today I would like to share my weekly reflection paper to give you an idea of some of the more important issues discussed in this course.

Why doesn’t she “just leave?”

My understanding from all of the readings and other materials from this course is that it is very rare for batterers to ever change their behaviors, let alone as a response to court-ordered interventions. A batterer has to honestly admit to his wrongdoing, be held accountable for the damage he has caused, and make a personal commitment to change in order to stop his abusive behaviors.

Most court-ordered treatment programs are frequented by batterers who are only doing what they have to do to meet the court’s minimum requirements. It is highly unlikely that the batterer will stop abusing his victim under such circumstances. In most cases, the best possible outcome for the victim is to successfully leave the relationship for good. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as “just leaving.” (more…)


Call for submissions: As Good as a Feast

I am currently seeking submissions for an essay/poetry anthology that I am compiling titled, “As Good as a Feast.” I will be paying for up to ten of the essays that will appear in this collection. Any additional accepted submissions will still be eligible for publication in the anthology. However, there will be no monetary compensation for these.

typewriter

I am currently accepting submissions via eLance through July 25, 2015. If you miss this deadline, you may still submit via the Elderfly Press website through August 30, 2015. However, monetary compensation is available only for those essays submitted via eLance.

Submission Requirements

Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie book series will no doubt be familiar with the expression, “Enough is as good as a feast.” Ma Ingalls often uttered this phrase as a reminder to her children that as long as they had “enough,” they had all they needed. (more…)


What if writing full-time isn’t right for you?

How often have you thought about quitting your day job and writing full-time? That’s what we are all supposed to be aiming for, right? Someday, we think, we will make enough money writing that we can tell our employers to take our crappy day jobs and shove ‘em where the sun don’t shine. Anyway, that’s what we’re supposed to want. But what happens if it turns out that dream isn’t right for you?

Take this job and shove it. writing meme

Take this job and shove it.

I spent a few years freelancing, and let me tell you: It was not what it was cracked up to be. I had to really hustle to make a living, and then the self-employment headaches ended up being more trouble than they were worth. The line between my personal life and my professional life blurred to the point where I felt like I was working 24/7. (more…)


My Final Paper | Teaching Life Writing as a Life Skill: Normalizing the Deviant Self via Personal Narrative

I finally finished the class I was taking this semester and turned in my 22-page final paper on Thursday. Yay! While I shared several of my earlier papers here on my blog throughout the semester, this paper is just way too long for that. So, I decided to see this as an opportunity to explore a new (to me) publishing platform that I had previously only used for reading: Scribd.

It turns out, Scribd is super easy to use. You can embed your documents right into your blog as I have done above so your readers don’t even have to leave your website! You can also charge people to read your documents on the Scribd website. I’m not going to do that with this paper, though. You may feel free to read it here in tiny text, or click through to the Scribd website or app to read it for free at your leisure! (more…)


I’m suffering a little spring nostalgia

I’m feeling a little sad today. The redbud trees are slowly beginning to exchange their flowers for leaves. It may have been cool this week, but summer will soon overpower my favorite season, and we’ll be wilting in the sultry steam of a central Illinois summer.

This time of year always reminds me of my Grandma Webster who passed away just over nine years ago now. I was pregnant with my younger son when Grandma left us, so I will always be able to recall just how long she has been gone.

When I was a kid, I used to sneak down the hill by Grandma’s house with a pair of scissors and cut a few twigs of blooming rosebuds to surprise her with. Every time, she showed her appreciation for the gesture as if it was the first time. She had a way of making every single one of her grandchildren – so many of us now, I’ve lost count – believe ourselves to be her favorite. To this day, I am still fairly confident that I was Grandma’s favorite. But then again, so is everyone else!

redbud tree

The redbud trees are in bloom all over central Illinois right now, but they won’t last long.

Another treasured spring memory is a composite of all of the times I went mushroom hunting with my grandma in the woods by her house. Morels are plentiful in the woods of my homeland this time of year. When I was a kid, it seemed as though everyone I knew made a mass exodus into the local woodlands to search for this delectable treat. For a few short weeks, we’d have fried mushrooms for breakfast, and then again as a side dish at lunch and dinner. Unfortunately, I’ve never been any good at finding them myself. (more…)


No matter how weird you are, you are never alone

English: JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2011) Lt....

Luckily, I didn’t need to call an entomologist to solve my problem. | English: JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2011) Lt. Tracy Mejeomov, an entomologist at the Navy Entomology Center of Excellence at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, examines a sample of bed bugs under a microscope to identify the species. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Gary Granger Jr./Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I started finding what appeared to be tiny apple seeds in my bed. At first, I thought someone was eating in my bed. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that I had discovered crumbs all over my sheets from what I can only assume was my teenager discovering – and helping himself to – the  tasty, dark chocolaty, sea salt and caramel pretzel treats that I had stashed away in my desk drawer so I could keep them all to myself. However, when I continued to find these seeds, I knew I couldn’t continue to assume that my teenager was coming home from school every day and eating an afternoon snack in my bed.

Because that would just be too weird.

With no obvious explanation to be found, my fertile imagination immediately set to work trying to figure it out. As I worked myself up, imagining everything from mice eating in my bed (I did recently kill a mouse in my living room with a broom after watching my cats chase it for several minutes and then not know what to do with it once they’d caught it) to some disgusting disease or parasite that causes cats and/or people to excrete something that looks like tiny seeds from their bodily openings, I finally turned to the all-knowing oracle, Google.

At first, Google scared the crap out of me, as it is wont to do. The first link I opened landed me on this conversation led by someone who was having the exact same problem that I was having. After reading her discussion post, which begins with the words, “I think we have bed bugs,” my stomach clenched, and my whole body went clammy.

“Oh, my Google gods, I didn’t even think of bed bugs!” (more…)


Transformation is hard

Human shapes

Human shapes (Photo credit: mripp)

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly, day-by-day, and often over the course of months or even years. If you are trying to transform your life, you can’t allow yourself to be discouraged a day, or a week, or even several months into the process. It isn’t going to happen just because you tell it to. Your new life must slowly become a habit before it can become a real and lasting change.

Don’t waste time worrying over how far you have to go or how little you might have accomplished by today. Instead, wake up each morning and ask yourself, “What can I do today to be a better person than I was yesterday?” Maybe that means you will eat one less cookie today than you did yesterday. Maybe that means you will write five more words today than you did yesterday. Or maybe you will decide to say one less curse word or be just a little less cranky with your kids. Whatever it means for your life, just think how far you will have gone a year from now if you continue to be a little bit better each day. (more…)


Bread is my DOC (Drug of choice)

Pain au levain, a French bread

You just can’t find a decent loaf of bread in most American bakeries. | Pain au levain, a French bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I like bread. I always have. If you mention my bread lust around my mother, she’ll nod her head and say, “Yes, she always did like her bread.”

When I was a kid, my parents did most of our grocery shopping at Aldi, where the bread was mass-produced and over processed. We usually ate white bread because it was the cheapest, but once in a while, my dad would bring home several loves of oat bran bread when it was on sale and stash it in the deep freezer.

The oat bran bread was my favorite. It never lasted long, because I would sneak into the kitchen several times a day and snag a handful of slices that I would take outside with me and chew on while I wandered around the woods on our property. For some reason, I liked to pull the oat bran bread apart and roll it into little balls before I ate it.

Yeah, I know. I’m kind of a weirdo. (more…)