Danielle Haas

A little bit sweet, A little bit sexy, A whole lot of fun

Take Me Out Of Funky Town

The last couple of weeks I have found myself in a bit of a writing funk. I’m still trying to write a little every day, and am busting out two chapters a week, but it’s feeling more like a chore. I’ve lost that desperate need to sit down and let the words pour out of me. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, because I know exactly what I want to say and how to say it. I just plain don’t want to do it. I’d rather use the free time I’ve been able to carve out for the day to clean the house, hang out with my kiddos, or sit on my butt in front of the television for a whole twenty minutes of “me” time. I’m afraid that this funk I’m feeling is going to reflect in the writing I manage to get done. I don’t want my story to suffer just because I’m stuck in funky town.

Even sitting here writing this blog, I’m cringing to myself. I’m laying in bed next to my baby boy, and all I want to do is put my computer down and snuggle the heck out of him. But I know I need to push on to get past it. At least, I hope that’s all it’s going to take. I think the issue is I’m suffering from a lack of motivation at the moment. Even though I set goals for myself each week, it’s not doing it for me at the moment. The words, “What’s the point?” keep crossing through my mind. I mean, really, I know the answer. The point is to write a story I’m proud of, to do justice to my beloved Emma, and to give this mama something for herself…blah, blah, blah. But I think where I’m getting stuck is a concrete, tangible reason to write this story.

The other two MS’s I’ve finished, I was focused on an end game. Get an agent, get published, write more books. The problem I’m running into is that I’ve got the agent, the agent as sent out submissions, and fours weeks of crickets have passed and I’m slowly losing my mind. Out of the five submissions sent out, I had two requests for full Ms’s and one pass. So, of course, my head is spinning with the possibilities of nothing but rejection coming out this torturous wait. Which brings me to my lack of motivation. If I am unable to get a contract for the MS being sent out, I won’t be able to get one for the second MS, or my WIP. So why finish the WIP until I know there’s a reason for it?

Again, I know the answer to this question. There’s no way I could set Emma and her story aside and just not finish. To begin with, my mom and sister-in-law would kill me. But more than that, I still need to tell her story. I just need that desire to consume me, to make me want to sit down and get it all out. I miss that! Instead, my mind is filled with different book ideas that I should start, just in case those rejections start piling in again. Something I’m avoiding, but maybe that would help? Maybe shifting my focus onto something brand-new will get the sparks of excitement bursting again.

Has anyone else had this issue? What’s worked to light that fire under you again? I’m taking the weekend off, lifting the pressure of needing to sit down and work on my WIP. Instead, I’m opening up a book to read for pleasure, and hoping that helps clear up the funk. And if doesn’t help, I’ll keep forcing myself to sit down and write the words. One way or another, Emma’s story will be told.

Lessons In Time

Today is finally Friday, and I’m so excited for the weekend. All weekends are highly anticipated, but this weekend is a little more special than most. This weekend is my sister-in-laws baby shower, and I can’t wait to celebrate my newest little nephew! I already have two handsome nephews and one gorgeous niece, and being an aunt is one of the best things. I get to love and spoil these little peanuts, but I’m not in charge of daily discipline and making sure they don’t turn into assholes one day. And with my little love bug Marvin, I’m not in charge of nightly feedings and explosive diapers. Thank God I’m pretty much past that stage with my kiddos. But there’s just something so amazing about preparing to welcome a new addition to the family, and we cant’ wait for baby Lewis to make his debut in a couple of months.

Tootsie is just as excited, the girl loves babies! We are going to have a small girls outing later today , and head out to the mecca of baby world to pick up some essentials for the baby and parent’s to be. I pulled up their registry earlier, and it all came flooding back to me. All the crap you need to have a baby. And more importantly, all the crap you don’t need to a have a baby. I remember standing in Babies R Us with the fun little registry gun, feeling like a kid in a candy store, while my husband was completely overwhelmed by everything that store told us we just had to have. It was a lot! And being first time parents, we had to have it all! We were there forever, the gun beeping away while we added item after item after item to our ever expanding list. I think my husband was sweating by the time we left. We were lucky enough to get almost everything on that list, and then we laughed when we didn’t end up needing half of it. So much preparation, so much anticipation of what we would need, and so much wasted on a baby who hated being a swing and never wanted to be in a stupid bumbo seat.

This week on Facebook, a memory popped up (I just love those memories!) showing how one year ago I was declaring to the world how I was finally ready to start looking for an agent. Posted was a picture of my yellow legal pad, and all the names and notes I had searched long hours for. I couldn’t help but think back to how I was feeling at that time, and all the hard work that went into preparing my agent list. And again, I was forced to laugh at all the preparation and all the anticipation…and how much time I wasted on things I didn’t need. I remember looking up hundreds of agents in a copy of Publisher’s Marketplace and not knowing the different between upmarket fiction and women’s lit. My book was fiction and meant for women, so why not send a query? And the query letter I wrote, oh boy! But I’d read countless books and articles that gave specific instruction as to how to write one…it had to be good, right? The pile of rejection letters I got would say otherwise!

Both parenting and trying to break into the publishing world have both shown me that time and experience are the most important tools that I need. A baby book might tell me the best way to clean out my kids snotty nose, but nothing but experience could teach me how to hold Spuds arms between my legs while I shoved a little rubber aspirator up his nose and sucked out his snot. And just like writing a query letter and getting published, books could only explain so much. I needed practice and the help of others to show me a better way to do things.

It’s funny to look back on where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come. I’m not published yet, but I’m getting closer. I have an agent, and I have interest in my MS from a couple of publishers. And even if those fall through, there are still countless opportunities out there waiting for me. I attended my NEORWA meeting last weekend, and this same feeling of satisfaction…of knowing how far I’ve come…washed over me. I wasn’t a quivering ball of nerves when I stepped into the room, and I didn’t sit quietly by myself and wait for the meeting to start. I talked to other writers about their work and about their lives, and I told them where I am as well. In our small group, I volunteered to go over the scene in my WIP, and then preceded to answer questions about how I’ve gotten to the point in my writing I currently am. It felt good to know that I can now offer a few words of encouragement to others who are sitting where I was a year ago. And it felt even better to know there were so many women in my group who have gone much farther than I have, who are willing to offer me support and encouragement.

So a year has gone by since I sent out those first query letters, and I’m happy with where I am. Beyond happy! I’m thrilled! Time seems to go by so slowly until we realize who quickly it’s really gone, and we think we need to have everything figured out before we take that first step. But it simply isn’t possible. We never know where one step, and then the other, will lead us. We can only prepare the best we can, and then look back and laugh at how little we really knew. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that time and experience will always hand us our most important lessons.


Blocking Out The Noise

This past week I’ve cleared my creative plate and have been able to focus all of my attention on my third manuscript. I had started this MS at the end of last summer, and the three chapters I had finished have sat untouched for months. I was a little intimidated to open this back up and dive right in, but it felt good. Creating something from scratch and feeling that rush of excitement when the story line starts clicking into place in my mind has gotten my creative juices flowing again. The characters, and the story they want me to tell, are screaming in my mind and I have this constant nagging in my brain to just sit down and write it all out.

But something is happening that I didn’t experience with my first two MS’s . I’m having a hard time blocking the noise out. Not just the external noise, but the internal noise as well. Don’t get me wrong, the external noise in my house is deafening and constant. When you stay at home with a two-year-old who only naps about every other day and a four-year-old who has a limitless amount of energy, quiet isn’t something I even strife for anymore. I mean, how do you say no when your adorable daughter sweetly asks, “Mommy, would you like to hear my wonderful music while you work?” I’ll tell you the answer…you don’t. You sit on your computer and cringe as you type away and she wildly shakes a tambourine and dances around the dining room table. Or when your toddler runs up and tells you it’s time for dinner, how do you not stop the work to eat the fried chicken he puts in your face. Okay, so it’s made from Play-Doh and it’s only a quick, “Mmm, yummy!” on my part, but it’s pretty damn distracting.

I’ve gotten pretty good over the past year and a half at giving the kids the minute they are begging for, and then getting my head right back where it needs to be. I have to do this, or I’d never get anything done. Or, I’d be up all night and never sleep and that’s just not an option for me. This mama needs her sleep or we all suffer. It’s the internal noise I’m having a hard time pushing away. And the most frustrating part about this, is there is nothing out there I need to be doing besides working on my MS. My short synopsis, long synopsis, and author bio are turned into my agent. MS number 2 is complete and patiently waiting for it’s time to shine, and I’ve kept surprisingly up-to-date on my blog posts lately. But there’s still this constant buzzing in my brain I can’t quiet down.

I sit down to write, knowing exactly what I want to happen in the chapter, and I can’t seem to concentrate on getting the words on the screen. I’m wondering how far my agent has gotten on my revised MS, when will submissions to publishers start, and how my entries are doing in contests. I’m checking my email a ridiculous number of times a day, even when there’s nothing pressing that should be coming in. It’s frustrating as hell. I try to clear my mind and see the scene the way I want to paint it, and I see it, but I can’t get the sentences down in a way that makes me happy. At least not for awhile. Where I was writing several chapters a week, I’m now happy to get one complete and a second started. I know quality is more important than quantity, and there’s no rush to get this MS finished, but the characters constantly chatting away in my mind say differently.

I can’t be the only person who has this problem. How do you handle it? Do you just push through it, happy with whatever it is you get accomplished that day, or is there another solution to this problem? I suppose I could hire a nanny to watch the kids and a personal assistant to sort out the other stuff I don’t want to deal with. But I’m thinking this isn’t a plausible option. Until I figure it out, I’ll sit at my computer again tomorrow and write as much as I can. Emma’s story is itching to escape, and eventually it will get done. I just need the world to quiet down a little bit so I can put pen to paper…or at least finger to keyboard. But as I type this, that sweet as sugar two-year-old screams for mommy to sing more Thomas the Train before he finally falls asleep. I guess the world won’t be quieting down any time soon, so I just need to figure out how to block it out and get the work done. For now, I’m off to seeing about that cheeky little Thomas the Train.



Starting’s The Hardest Part

I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve been driving my husband crazy the last couple of weeks. He hasn’t said anything, but a wife usually knows these things. It’s not because I’ve been nagging him to do things around the house or riding his case about spending too much time out with the boys. Actually, quite the opposite is what happens in our house. My husband doesn’t know how to relax, and I actually tried to pester him into going out last night. The last couple of months, he has undertaken a huge project in our house. He decided to go room to room and deep clean the house. Go ahead and tell me how amazing he is, he’ll love it! haha But seriously, he has taken apart almost every room in this house and cleaned the carpets, painted the walls, and washed the baseboards. Any thing that needed fix, he fixed it. Any new furniture that needed purchased, he bought. It’s a good ol fashion Spring cleaning before Spring even gets here. But there’s one thing he kept his hands off of, and asked that I take care of… the playroom closet.

When we moved into our house over seven years ago, our basement was unfinished. He drew up so many plans on how to use the space. My only stipulation was I wanted a playroom with a huge closet to throw all the crap that would one day take over our house in. Of course, my loving husband gave me exactly what I wanted. It’s a place for toys, board games, extra blankets, craft supplies, and the sewing machine I got three years ago and have never used. (Sorry mom) It is a lifesaver, and I’m sure it’s not a surprise that it’s also a disaster. I’ve cleaned it and decluttered a few times, but honestly, it’s a huge pain in the ass. So when hubby asked me to take on this little project, and I agreed to see it taken care of, I cringed on the inside.

I needed a plan. Trust me, anyone who knows me or has stepped in my house, knows that organization is my thing. There is a place for everything, and everything’s in its place. At least it is when the kids are asleep. I hate clutter, I hate a messy house, and I hate knowing that things are not where they’re supposed to be. Even Tootsie has inherited this OCD quality of mine. I’ve never met a four-year-old who’s room has to be completely picked up (including the rooms of her doll house) before she can go to sleep. But for some reason, this playroom closet is the one place the chaos is easier to just let go of. But I could do it, and I know it will be so pretty and shiny when I’m done. So I ran to the store and bought bins and tubs of multiple shapes and sizes. I have baskets and bowls and bags. I have everything needed to whip this space into shape. Except the motivation to do it. Hence why I’m driving my husband crazy.  I know once I dive in and start I’ll have it done, I just need to do it.

I was at my monthly NEORWA meeting yesterday and was talking to a fellow writer. We both recently acquired agents, and were discussing the changes that needed done to our MS and the time we’ve spent polishing these up for submissions. This led into a conversation regarding our WIP’s, and she said something to me that rang so true. She said, “I’m trying to get into my second MS, but I feel like I’m picking up the paint brush and learning how to use it again.” Yes, yes, a million times yes! I have spent the last five months revising and editing my first two MS’s. In the meantime, the first three chapters I wrote for my third MS has been siting patiently, waiting for me to get the time to pick it back up. That time came a few weeks ago (and then quickly passed again but that’s another story) and I sat there staring at it. I had made my plan, I had a loose outline of where I wanted the story to go and how I wanted the characters to feel, but I just couldn’t find a way to write it all down in a way that told my story. I felt like my creativity for writing an entirely new book was gone. How could I possibly come up with enough to fill the pages? Even though I now have two completed MS’s under my belt, I was afraid that completing this book was beyond me.

After reworking those first three chapters, I had to put my WIP aside again to focus on edits my agent suggested for my first MS. It was like a giant puzzle that needed to be put back together, but some of the pieces were missing. I shifted some scenes around, reworked some chapters, and also wrote some new ones. I was a little nervous about the new chapters. But honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to me at just the right time. (Funny how that works!) The words flowed through me and created these beautiful chapters that have made my book so much better. And it gave me the confidence to see that I can sit and write from scratch and create something wonderful. Just like the playroom closet, I know I can do it, I just need to find the right place to start. But I should probably tackle the closet before I open that WIP up again!





Life is really funny sometimes. A few weeks ago I was feeling a little discouraged about where this writing thing was heading. I still enjoyed sitting down and creating my stories, and polishing my manuscripts. But would anything ever happen with it? I tried to tell myself to be patience, that I’m so new to this whole thing and it could take a lot longer than the nine months I’d been trying to get an agent/published for this to go anywhere. Even though what I was telling myself was completely logical, I still found myself doubting that I’d ever find a good fit for my first manuscript. Then something happened. My husband couldn’t find a copy of our marriage certificate, so I dug through a ton of paperwork to find what he needed. In the process, I found my career passport that I put together my senior year of high school. It had my diploma, a ridiculously inadequate resume, and a letter from my principle. The other piece of this passport was a letter I wrote detailing my plans for the future. In it I talked about attending Bowling Green State University, discussed what I planned to major in, and what career I would like to have. It was a trip looking back at this after so long.

The amazing thing to me was the last paragraph in this letter. “No matter what I decide to do, I am hoping that writing will be my main focus. I hope that I will be able to make a living off of it, while it remains something I enjoy doing.” Here’s the funny part, nothing else in this letter happened the way I planned. I didn’t major in creative writing, I didn’t study business, and I most certainly did not become a 6th grade English teacher. (What was I thinking?!) Instead, I changed my major countless times, studied political science and international studies, and I ended up with a meaningful job working with woman with developmental disabilities. But here I sit, close to 14 years later, and I still enjoy writing and hope to make it a career. This gave me the motivation to push forward and keep trying. Because if nothing else, I love what I do.

I decided to start focusing on getting my second manuscript out there. I checked over my agent list, polished up my query letter, and started submitting. My first manuscript could possibly still be published, but I’d given up the hopes that an agent would be interested in it . And then something amazing happened. I received a request for a full manuscript from  an agency I had queried in November. She wanted to read my first manuscript, start to finish. I sent it over immediately, and then proceeded to check my email twenty times a day for the next week. Last Thursday was one of those days I picked up my phone to check my email, and tears sprang to my eyes when I saw what was sitting in my inbox. An email from Ella Marie Shupe from Belcastro Agency asking to speak with me about the possibility of representation. WHAT?! I laughed, I cried, I jumped up and down. In short, I was the talk of the children’s museum that day and managed to embarrass the hell out of my daughter.

I had my phone call with Ella Marie early this week, and am beyond excited about her now being my agent. She understood my writing, and had ideas to take it from good to amazing. Her personality was lovely, and I have no doubt that we will work very well together. I can’t wait to get to work and see where this leads me. And even better, I can now sit here with my career passport from Paulding High School, and know that I did exactly what I set out to do so long ago. It just took a little voice from the past to push me along a little bit and remind me why I choose to sit down at my computer day in and day out. Because I love it, and the stories this crazy mind of mine makes up. I’m so lucky that I have found what I love to do in this life, and I know that no matter what the future holds, I was always enjoy my writing.

The Terrific Two’s

Last week was a very big week at our house. The biggest occasion being the celebration of Spud’s second birthday. It’s crazy to think that he’s a full-blown toddler now. I can no longer claim I have a baby in the house, even though I will still call him my baby boy. (Probably well into adulthood!) My littlest munchkin is full of love and happiness and pure orneriness. I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone who meets him falls for his charm. Hell, in Mexico the kid learned how to flirt with the resort staff in Spanish. If that didn’t terrify me for his future, I’d be pretty impressed.  But of course, since he is the second child, I can’t help but think about how different his turning two was with Tootsie’s.

When Tootsie turned two my first thought was, “Thank God, no more diapers!” In my mind, her turning two meant she needed to be potty trained. The girl was brilliant, she could vocalize all her wants and needs, and there was no reason why she wouldn’t be able to conquer the use of the big girl potty with ease. No surprise here, I found out that I was an idiot. My daughter might be smart, but she’s also stubborn as hell. She had no desire to stop using a diaper, and nothing I did was going to change that. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I tried everything I could think of to bribe, I said bribe and I say it proudly, to get this kid on the toilet. Do you want to know what worked? Bringing home baby brother when she was two years and 8 months old. She wanted attention, so she decided to go on the potty. From that day on, she never wore another diaper. She knew when she was ready, and nothing I could do would get her there any faster.

With Spud, the thought of potty training does not fill me with excitement or an overwhelming desire to get the process started. I’m dreading it. It was only two short years ago that I went through this with Tootsie, and it sucked. Really bad. Now Spud has gone once or twice on the potty, mainly because he wants to be like his big sister. I ask him every now and then if he wants to use the big boy potty, and more often than not he refuses. I’m okay with this. The time will come when he decides to stop pooping his pants, and I’m sure no one (besides who we tell) will even know at what age this happens for him. Of course, I might have to push him out of his comfort zone a little to get the result I want, but hey, we all need that from time to time.

The celebration of Spuds second birthday happened the same week that I completed my second manuscript. I’m not talking finished the first draft and it still needs some tweaking. I have poured over this MS with my CP and have tightened and revised until I’ve polished it into something I absolutely love. I am so excited about this MS, and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Meg and Dylan. However, I once again am comparing my second (literary) baby to my first. After my first MS was finished I couldn’t wait to get it out there to every agent and editor I could find. I was going to be one of those success stories who sends out her first MS and it’s an instant hit with everyone who reads it and agents are fighting over who gets to sign me. (Okay, you can all stop laughing at me now haha)

It’s no secret this is not what happened. Instead, I spent hours researching who to query and how to query. I wrote and rewrote my query letter and synopsis, and I received rejection after rejection after rejection. I’m not going to lie, I cried a lot. It was devastating to put out this MS that I loved so much and to not have anyone else love it too. Of course, I’ve learned over time that some emails that seemed like rejections were blessings in disguise, and I still have a chance to get this first MS that I love published. But, the process has been hard and long and a pain in the ass.

So now I sit here looking at yet another MS that I love. The research has been completed and the query and synopsis are ready to go. It’s time, once again, to send it out to the world. And just like with potty training my little Spud Muffin, it’s not a process I’m excited about starting. I know it’s something I have to do, but I kind of want to sit here with this shiny new MS a little while longer and tell myself the lies I’m not naïve enough to believe anymore. Even if just for another few days. I also know that just like with Spud, there’s only so much I can do to make this process successful. I’ve done my part, and now it’s up to someone else to pick up the second part of this act. Until then, I guess I’ll pick up where I left off with MS number 3 and wait for two small miracles to happen.

To Blessed To Be Stressed

Today has not gone exactly the way I planned. I woke up and helped my husband get the house ready for company, and then I planned on taking my daughter shopping. I wanted to get home with enough time to make sure the house was in order, get a little work done, and possibly relax a bit before the crazy New Year’s festivities. You know, the kind were you hang out with your in-laws and watch football. Well, I guess if OSU loses, things could get a little nuts in this house.

But, I guess that you can see where this is heading. My plan did not work out. Well, it did up until the point that Tootsie and I put our treasures from Target in the back of my car, and I closed my trunk before I grabbed my keys. Yep, that’s right, I locked my keys in the car. I have never in my life locked my keys in my car! I called my husband, but you see he was home with our sleeping little Spud Muffin. And even if Spud was awake, my husband had no car seat with him to bring Spud to Target with my keys. Tootsie immediately freaked out, tears gathered in her eyes, and she of course assumed we were, “Never going to be able to go home, ever!”

Really 2016? This is how we’re going to go out? You’re going to leave me stranded at Target with my dramatic four-year-old who thinks we never again see her beloved home. I took a breath, forced a smile, and told her I’d buy her cake pop. Magically, the tears disappeared. We walked back in to wait for back-up, and I promptly bought a cake pop, one juice, and one very large coffee. We sat down and waited. And as we waited, I looked at my daughter and realized how incredibly blessed I am. As I was told recently, I’m too blessed to be stressed (Shout-out to Lauren here!) I had been given a rare opportunity to  sit down with my daughter and just enjoy her company. I had no where to go, no work to be done, and my phone was pretty much dead. We sat and we talked and we laughed.

I thought back on where 2016 had led me, and I realized that this has happened a lot. I’ve had plans that haven’t worked out, and the disappointment and rejection  has led me to some amazing places. I planned on starting a new hobby and 2016 saw me completing my fist manuscript. I didn’t get an agent after months of submissions, and my eagerness to learn led me to RWA and NEORWA, which has shown me new friendships and a support system full of fellow writers I never knew existed. I didn’t get into PitchWars, who cares! Instead I found an amazing critique partner who has to be better than any mentor I could have ever imagined, and has become one of my closest friends. I didn’t get a contract from a publisher, but I ended up receiving the most amazing feedback that not only improved my first manuscript, but my second one as well. And I still have another opportunity to impress the editor and hopefully get published in 2017.

So, when I look back over the last  year, it’s amazing to see how bad I am at making plans. Okay, so that might not be exactly true. But I have learned that it’s true what they say, when one door closes another one opens. Or, as I personally believe, God has a plan and all I have to do is put in the work and follow the path He has opened for me. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in 2017!

Happy New Year everyone!!




The Greatest Gift

Once again the holiday season is upon us. I must admit, whenever Christmas starts showing it’s shiny, white head I get as giddy as my two-year-old when he sees Thomas the Train. I just love it, love everything about it! I always have, and I’m pretty sure I always will. I have about a dozen movies that are brought out and dusted off every year, and I’m the annoying person who wants to put up the tree and decorations long before Thanksgiving. I love how the snow is still magical and everyone seems a little bit nicer. Now that I have kids, Christmas is even more amazing. There are even more movies to be watched and traditions to be started. One of the best ones we’ve started is every year on Christmas Eve, we bake a birthday cake together. It’s so easy for the kids to be sucked up into the presents and looking forward to  Christmas for all the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong, presents are awesome. But, so is cake. And if you want two small children to pay attention to something other than presents, putting a homemade cake (ok, so it’s from a box) in front of their cute little faces is a pretty good way to do it. We sit around the table, lights blazing on top of the cake, and sing happy birthday to Jesus. It’s a wonderful time together, and that’s what Christmas is all about.

Even though the cake is delicious and our traditions are plentiful, presents are what my kids can’t stop talking about. Seriously, if I have to hear, “Mommy, look at that. I want that for Christmas!” one more time I just might scream. Every commercial, every toy in the toy aisle, every playdate…these are the words that pour out of my daughter’s mouth. It’s getting old. We’re trying to explain to her that the best gifts aren’t the ones that you get at the store. They are thoughtful gifts that money doesn’t necessarily buy. My mom gave me one of these gifts over the weekend. My mom has read all three books that I have written (ask and I’m sure she will tell you how great they all are, ha!)  Unbeknownst to me, she printed off several pages from each manuscript and used the pages to make beautiful, homemade ornaments. I was floored! These ornaments will hang on my tree for years to come, and they will always remind of me of how I got started writing romance novels. These three manuscripts will always hold a special place in my heart, and now on my tree as well. She went a step further and made a homemade doll house out of an old dresser for Tootsie. She was a living example to my kids of how using your heart rather than your wallet is the best way to show people how much you love them.

Tootsie must have been taking notes. She has been talking non stop about what gifts she can give to her friends. She can make a finger painting for our neighbor lady, she can give her best friend one of her teacups for her to use with her baby doll, and she wants to write a book for her mommy. I don’t think my heart could have possibly gotten any fuller when she told me this. One of the hardest parts of writing for me hasn’t been making sure my word count is high enough or my plot moves along seamlessly. It has been getting past the mommy guilt that rears its ugly head every time I sit at my computer while my daughter is left to her own devices. Writing has affected my life greatly, and in extremely positive ways, but it’s also affected hers. Before I had my son (and started writing) my days were dedicated to her and only her. Now, please understand that she’s an extremely independent child who likes to have her own space and time, so this didn’t mean I was glued to her side all day every day. It did mean that we had a ton of one-on-one time filled with fun activities. Then came baby brother. We both had to navigate the murky waters of learning to go from a one child household, to one with two kids. She’s been amazing with her brother from day one, and I have made sure to dedicate nap times to giving her that special mommy/daughter time we both needed.

Enter writing. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Words just poured out of me when I sat down at my computer, and I craved the time to sit and write. Now, with two small kids time is very limited for a mom to do mom things. This time was, and still is, carved out during my sons nap time and when the kids go to bed. Good for Spud and Mom, not so much for Tootsie. I’ve struggled to find a good balance between giving her the time she needs and giving myself the time  I need. I know this isn’t a new struggle for a mom to have, but it’s been a new one for me. And I’ve feared that it’s been a struggle I’ve been failing. So when Tootsie told me she wanted to write me a book, the guilt I constantly carry with me melted away a bit. It melted even more when she sat down with a blank piece of paper and drew an amazing picture and told her dad what she wanted her book to say. When she said she wanted to learn to write so she can write her own words, I almost cried. When she said she wanted to be a writer when she grows up like mommy, I did cry. To be fair, in the same sentence she said she also wanted to be a teacher, a ballerina, and a nail designer. What can I say, the girls got gumption.

So, it turns out that my teeny, tiny little girl may want us to buy her every toy ever created for Christmas, but she also knows exactly what giving a gift that truly matters really means. It means she uses her heart to figure out what would mean the most to the people she loves in this world. It means giving selflessly of your time, and your things, for the benefit of others. Sure, she might be getting too many presents this year, but I’d like to think I’ve given her something special this year as well. Something that she will carry with her for years to come and always remember. I hope I’ve shown her it’s important to make sure she tries her hardest to do her best for the people she loves, even if she thinks she’s failing. I hope I’ve given her the knowledge that it’s always important to be true to herself and the talents God gave her. Even if that means she’s teaching writing while dancing ballet with her pretty nails.

Happy Holidays!




Milestones and Margaritas

Today marks a huge milestone in my professional life. I was asked to give my very first interview as an author. I was nervous, I was convinced I would have nothing worthwhile to say, and when the time came I nailed it.

At least I’m sure that’s what all the kids will tell their parents when they go home from school today.

You see, my friend asked me to talk to her fourth grade class about my writing and my journey to publication. She said her class was really excited to talk to a real author. I wasn’t sure how to respond. What in the world would I have to say to a bunch of nine-year-olds? I haven’t accomplished anything worth talking about. I have no wisdom to impart on the youth of America. These kids were going to be extremely disappointed when they come to class and have me waiting to answer their questions.

But, one of my best friends had asked me to do her a favor and, I have to admit, my feathers were preening a little at being referred to as a real author. So, I agreed. We set up a time, I got a sitter for my kids, and I waited for her call. (She lives in sunny Southern California, I’m currently freezing my butt off in Ohio.)

And do you know what? It was one of the sweetest, cutest things I’ve been a part of. I sat in the comfort of my own kitchen (kid free to boot) and watched as kid after kid walked up to the screen and asked me a question. I saw silliness, nervousness, and excitement over reading their questions off their sheets and getting a chance to talk to me. And the best part, I was actually able to answer all of their questions. I have come a hell of a long way from where I started and I’ve learned a ridiculous amount. I might not be the most accomplish author they could have interviewed (ok, so I’ve never even been published), but they could have cared less. I was still able to share my story, impart just a wee bit of knowledge , and hopefully show at least one kid today that if you work hard and follow your dreams, it can lead you some place really special.

My big important first author interview might not seem like the biggest feather to place in your cap. But for me, it was a milestone worth celebrating. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past year and a half, it’s that you need to celebrate even the tiniest of victories. So tonight, when the kids are snuggled in their beds, this book writing, interview giving, mama of two is going to settle back and toast those pint sized little boogers in California who helped show me that I do in fact know my shit. Margaritas on the rocks for everyone. (Ok, so it will probably just be drinking one, but I’m completely alright with that.)

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