Tag Archives: writing

ONLY Three Kids–One Author’s Story

Standard

A couple weeks ago, I sat in a hard chair at a book signing event, trying to get people to come talk to me. Finally a man came over and asked what my book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces, was about. I told him it was about motherhood and overcoming the feelings of guilt, stress, and inadequacy that many moms face every day. 

“How many kids do you have?” he asked.

“Three,” I said proudly.

He gave me a funny look. “Only three?”

I knew exactly what he was thinking. There are books out there by mothers of eight, ten, and even twelve children. Now those are the books you want to read. Those moms must have it all together, right? They know all the tricks and secrets to motherhood, after raising so many kids. So why would you buy a book by a mother of three? 

And that, my friends, is my point. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to other women who have said, “I know we ONLY have four, but I just can’t handle more than four. Do you think that’s selfish?”  Or, “My mom had eight kids. I’m going out of my mind with five! I don’t know how she did that. I want to be a good mom, but I just don’t think I can handle another one.”

I live in Utah, where sometimes it feels like the number of kids you have is the familial equivalent to the brand of car (or minivan) you drive. In some peoples’ eyes, children are like pets, cute little collections that you play with during the day and then lock up at night–adorable little faces that you dress up on Sundays and parade around the neighborhood on family walks. Then we go home and struggle with back-talk and natural consequences and messiness and chore lists, and wonder where we went wrong.

We live in a very different culture here. In many ways, it’s not “how many kids do you and your husband want?” It’s more like, “What’s the maximum amount of kids you can juggle and keep alive?” And frequently, you add one or two more on top of that.

I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek here, but seriously. In other states, ONLY three kids would be above the national average. It would mean that each one was wanted, raised, loved, and cared for. Each is a person with a personality and dreams. I may ONLY have three kids, but you’d better believe they’re my world, not just numbers. When did adding to a family become an Olympic event, or a status symbol?

Does a mom of ONLY three kids know any less about her children than a mother of eight? Does a mom of ONLY three kids not experience pain, guilt, stress, and overwhelming love? At what point is a woman eligible to share what she’s learned on her journey–when her kids are in college, or when she’s still on the rocky road of parenthood, taking notes as she goes and trying to lift others?

At what point does the ONLY go away? 

My children are still young, and yes, there are ONLY three of them. I’m sure we’ll have more someday (and no, it’s not really everyone’s business). But I believe that every mom, whether she has one child or ten, whether she works or not, and whether she’s single or married, experiences the same bleary-eyed, sleepless shock of a new baby. Every mom knows how it feels to wake up, force a smile, and begin the arduous mountain climb of motherhood all over again. It would sure be nice if moms felt comfortable expressing their feelings about motherhood with each other, instead of comparing number of kids and ages and deciding who’s a “good” mom and who’s not. It would sure be nice if we could help and pull each other along, able to rely on other people instead of feeling so alone.

I hope it happens someday. I hope that women who read my book feel that way. I really do hope that moms understand how important and rewarding their job is, regardless of the hard stuff–because each child is a person, not a number, and ONLY three is a pretty dang good job.

So the next time someone looks at me and says, “Only three?” I’ll smile and say “Yep!” And then I’ll ask about their own children, because that’s probably what they really want to talk about anyway.

Do you have any thoughts? Please comment below. 

Advertisements

5 Rules for Writers Groups–Break With Care

Standard

Writers are a funny bunch. If you’ve been to a writing conference, you know it’s true. We’re wise beyond our years, with varying degrees of artistic ability, wrapped in emotional pain and plenty of passion. We’re just really, really cool people–people who need each other.

Before my first book was published, I had no idea what the social norms were between writers. Three critique groups, dozens of interviews and signings and conferences and a million mistakes later, I’ve come to realize that yes, there are some rules that authors (and aspiring authors) should follow when it comes to critique groups and writing networks. Here are the big five:

Rule #1: Remember that writing isn’t a competition. 

Unlike in other professions, an author’s career isn’t threatened by other writers. In fact, s/he does better with a supportive writing network than without one.

It’s an interesting phenomenon–the longer you’re with a critique group, the more likely you are to get published. And once someone in your group hits success, the more likely others in your group are to achieve publication, too. My critique groups have been fantastic so far, and I feel myself being stretched further and higher every single month. 

Rule #2: Give as much as you take.

I’ve met writers who finish their manuscripts, scramble to find readers under the pretense of wanting a critique group, milk ’em for all the advice and help they can get, and then disappear again. I know life gets busy, and sometimes writing takes a backseat. But if you don’t contribute as much as you take, you’ll have very grumpy friends . It’s just like any other profession–carry your weight.

If another writer spent valuable hours reading your work and giving advice, they’re probably hoping you’ll do the same for them. If you just don’t have the time, offer to help in some other way, like reviewing their work on your blog, or at least reposting/retweeting their promotional efforts. Remember, what goes around comes around–especially in the writing world. 

Rule #3: Positive always comes first. 

Whether you’re critiquing someone’s work or giving an overall review, always focus on the positive first. Sometimes that can be hard (really, REALLY hard), especially if the writer is just starting out or if it’s not in your preferred genre, but trust me. You can find something of worth in anyone’s work. It could be a character you like or a clever city name or a funny line of dialogue. Collect those little bits of potential and start with those first.

Even the thickest-skinned author appreciates a little positive thrown in with the constructive criticism. It takes guts for them to hand over their “baby” to you, trusting that you’ll help them make it better. The least you can do is show that you respect them enough to start with the things you liked. 

I reviewed a book on Amazon today and gave it three stars, lower than any of my reviews so far. But half the review was about what the author did well. I wanted people to know that she had a lot of potential, and there was a lot I really liked about her book. And then I was honest about what needed to be worked on. When my first negative review comes for my book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces, I’m hoping the reviewer does it that way, rather than making it sound like my book has no redeeming qualities at all!

Rule #4: Don’t be a know-it-all.

You know who I’m talking about–that writer who knows more than his or her friends, whose lofty status as “author” or “writer” has taken over their brain’s common sense. Their advice is law, their opinion is gold, and you’re lucky to even be in the same critique group as them. Ugh. Who wants to help someone who is above your help?

The point of a support/critique group is to help your writing improve, not tear everyone else’s writing down and reject any suggestions that come your way. It should be about the person first, and their work second. Just be sensitive. Common curteousy, folks.

And that leads us into number five.

Rule #5: Be open to feedback.

In my very first writing group, there was a writer who seemed to think constructive feedback was negative and insulting. He never took anyone’s advice, and the fact that it was being offered at all seemed to threaten his pride. I stopped reading his work after awhile, because it was completely pointless. All he wanted was compliments. Not surprisingly, as far as I know, he hasn’t gotten published.

Let me just say this: if you can’t handle feedback, you’re in the wrong profession. Critique group friends are WAY nicer than editors are. Just saying.

We’re lucky to live in a time when we can connect with thousands of other writers on Facebook, writing blogs, Twitter, and in writing conferences, in addition to critique groups. They are absolutely priceless, if you follow these five rules. If not, you may find yourself out of the loop and out of support.

Thanks for reading. Can you think of a rule I missed?

What Makes an Author? Thoughts on Self vs. Traditional Publishing

Standard

My kids watched a cartoon after lunch today. I half-listened as I cleaned the kitchen, perking up as the young character showed his teacher a story. The teacher said, “Good job! You just wrote your own book. That makes you an author!”

Well, no, I argued internally. It hasn’t been published, so he’s not technically an author yet. After all, if every person who wrote a book called themselves authors–whether the book was Uncle Fred’s yet-to-be-proven World War II story or the next great American novel–then the title “Author” would lose its value, don’t you think? There are millions of people who say they’ll write a book but never do–so shouldn’t those of us who actually do be entitled to the term Author? 

I’ve thought about it all day. I know, I must be bored (hey, it’s cleaning day, all right?). But here’s why–where do you draw the line between two people and say, “You’re an author, but you aren’t.” It’s like saying, “You play football, but you aren’t a football player.” Some of the best cooks I know don’t consider themselves chefs because they don’t have their own cooking shows. Some of my favorite teachers didn’t have degrees, but taught me powerful lessons. So what is an author? 

Fifty years ago–heck, even twenty years ago–authors were writers who’d had their work published traditionally, in a hardbound book that people could purchase at bookstores. Now, it’s not that simple. Mine was published traditionally, sure, but what if it had been exclusively an ebook? What if I’d self-published, and my book wasn’t available at brick-and-mortar bookstores? What if my book had come out in sections in a magazine, but nowhere else? Now it gets complicated. The old definition of an author breaks down at that point. We’ve got Amazon, handheld reading devices, and thousands of books available for free online. So what is an author?

It makes me sad when some high-and-mighty authors who’ve chosen the traditional route frown on self-publishing authors, as if their method is the only legitimate one. I love being able to go to the bookstore and see my book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces, on the shelves–it’s a great feeling, and I’ll never get tired of it (or the funny looks I get from the staff when I pull out my camera like a proud momma). But does that make me more an author than someone else who chose a different publishing path? In an age of worldwide media at the click of a button, where 300,000 books are released a day, does it really matter HOW it entered the universe? Personally, I don’t think so. I think it’s an exciting time for writers and authors alike. There are more books enticing readers to their pages–er, um, screens–than ever before.

Honestly, this musing has confused me more than anything, but I do feel strongly about one thing. An author is someone who loves to write, lives to entertain others, and will never be able to stop–because the art of storytelling is one of the most fulfilling services a person can leave behind. Free or not, print or not, and best-selling or not. Period.

Best of luck to my author friends. For more information about my book and fun content, click here.

Meet W.B. Kinnette, Author of “Waiting Fate”

Standard

Today’s guest is W.B. Kinnette, Author of “Waiting Fate.” The moment I saw her cover I knew I wanted to read this book–adorable, fascinating, and attractive. And that’s just the cute smiling guy in the background.

I’ve heard great things about her writing, too, and I’m so excited that she agreed to visit my blog today! Check out our interview:

 

1) Why and how did you become a writer? 

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was teeny tiny. I was half-heartedly pursuing that goal when my oldest daughter asked me, when I was little, what had I wanted to be when I grew up. I said a writer, and she gave me the biggest smile and said, “And you are!” At that moment, I knew I couldn’t fail, not when she smiled like that!

2) What’s your biggest challenge in the writing world?

Finding time! I have three kids. They like me quite a bit. Which means that where I am, there they are, and trying to write when they are trying to entertain me is difficult, to say the least. I write late at night, after they’re in bed and the house is quiet.

3) What’s your favorite book, and what book influenced your writing the most?

My favorite books ever are the Harry Potter series. I love the way they blew the world-building doors wide open and pretty much sucked the world right back into reading. Her writing may not have influenced me the most; I’ve read a lot in my life and I like to think that everything I’ve read has influenced me in some way, but J.K. Rowling’s story definitely gave me the biggest push!

4) Tell us about Waiting Fate. 

Waiting Fate is a true love story about a woman escaping an abusive relationship, and the man who has been waiting for her his entire life. It’s about hope and new beginnings and old friends and never letting go of the things that mean the most to you.

5) What advice can you give to aspiring authors? 

Find a support group of other writers. They are invaluable! I never would have made it through that very first draft if I hadn’t had other writers there to bounce ideas off, sprint with, and ask for feedback from. The writing community is fabulously supportive and I love it so much!

Thanks for visiting. I totally agree about the support group thing! If I didn’t have my writing friends to keep me sane through the highs and lows of publishing, I’m positive it would have never happened for me. Best of luck with your book! Here’s more info, and an excerpt at the end:

AUTHOR BIO

 W.B. Kinnette was born and raised in Utah, the baby of the family and spoiled rotten. She lived briefly in Texas and Alaska before coming back to raise her family only a few miles from her childhood home. She’s loved writing since she was small, because daydreams demand to be written down. She believes that dreams must be chased, if only so she can tell her children honestly that dreams do come true if you work hard enough – and never give up!

 BACK COVER BLURB

Sometimes Fate hides in plain sight while you stumble through darkness.

 Ivy escapes from an abusive husband, finding peace with her daughter in her childhood home. She’s determined to keep her past a secret to protect those she loves. 

Archer has been in love with the same girl since seventh grade. When Ivy comes back into his life—bruised, broken, and haunted by secrets—he knows he can’t lose her again.

 But Ivy made a promise to her daughter. No one would hurt them again. She’s afraid to trust, afraid to be wrong again, and afraid that the one man she’s loved forever will break her heart.

 Fate might take its time, but it won’t wait forever.

EXCERPT

 As he walked her to her door, she slid her small fingers into his, and he ran his thumb across the back of her hand. The night was cool. At the door she turned, smiling up at him. “Thank you Archer. It was… fun.”

He couldn’t see clearly, but he could swear she was smirking. Yeah, you blew your chance. Way to go. So he hugged her, wrapping his arms around her waist, like he’d done a hundred other times before. They were a huggy group.

He was surprised when she rose on her toes and slid her arms around his neck, holding tight like he was a lifeline. He pulled back, just a bit, hoping but afraid to hope as he searched her eyes. They sparkled, just a bit, and then she leaned forward, closing the gap between them and brushing her lips against his.

Time stopped. The world stopped and he froze in shock. It took him several seconds to realize what was happening, and then he kissed her back, holding her tight against him. He could feel her heart racing, matching his. When she relinquished his lips, he sucked in a breath, struggling to breathe. “I’ve wanted to do that since high school,” he muttered, almost without realizing it. 

MORE INFO

 Links: https://www.facebook.com/WbKinnette

Twitter: @wbkinnette

Website: www.wbkinnette.wordpress.com

 Buy Link:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Fate-ebook/dp/B00CY4A5IM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369290043&

BLOG ANNOUNCEMENT!

Standard

Apology time. I haven’t been a very good blogger lately. My book, How to Have Peace When You’re Falling to Pieces (comes out March 12th! Yay!) has absorbed nearly every minute of the last few months. But I’m recommitting to this blog, and I hope you’ll stick with me. A lot of authors have book-related content on their blogs, and that’s great. But if I weren’t an author, I’d probably find that a little boring. So… I’ve figured out what I want to focus on here. And the decision is…drumroll…

Basically, anything of interest to women. Mind-blowing, I know.

Once a week, I’m going to post about something related to the world of women. (If you’re a guy, you can still read it. I won’t tell.) These posts will be for women, moms, writers, and readers alike. And I’m hoping that it’ll become more of a network than a blog. (Hint, hint. Please post comments…)

Some topics I have in mind include:

  • Fun quizzes
  • Weird and funny habits of kids
  • Quirks in literature and media
  • Favorite pastimes
  • Overcoming the winter blues
  • Yummy/filling/healthy snacks (do those exist?)
  • Clean entertainment ideas and opinions
  • Color trends in clothing and decor
  • Bad habits we find hard to break!
  • Home organization (or the lack thereof)
  • DIY projects we’ve tried
  • Differences between men and women
  • Cheap date night ideas
  • And much more.

If any of these sound interesting to you, will you please subscribe to my blog? I’d love to hear from you. And in the next couple months I’ll be giving away free stuff to a lucky subscriber/commenter. 

What would you like to talk about first? Is there something of interest to you that you don’t see here? I’d love to hear any ideas that pop into your head.

Talk to you again very soon!