5 Tips for Writing About Trauma

  1. Give Yourself Time  - Make sure there is adequate time between the trauma you experienced and your writing. Immediately after a traumatic experience, just getting through everyday life can be hard enough to manage.  Don't add writing a book to the list. When you're writing your story you want to be sure that you understand the purpose of your writing, and that you're able to make meaning out of what happened. When you're in the midst of trauma and recovery, you can journal to work through your feelings while you heal,  but you may not have enough distance from the event to write a book just yet.
  2. Take it Easy  - When writing about traumatic experiences, commit to writing for 15 minutes and then take a break. This will make the process a little easier and less daunting. The next time you sit down to write, do research or focus on a lighter topic. This way, you can return to the less pleasant material feeling refreshed and ready.
  3. Your editor is not your therapist –  So get a good therapist. Writing about painful experiences is bound to trigger strong emotions. In your writing, you want to focus on making meaning out of the past and not just reliving it. A little extra support in this endeavor with a mental health professional can help you contextualize and process the raw emotions that are likely to emerge.
  4. Don't be hard on yourself - Be kind to yourself. The task you are taking on is hard work. Build in rewards for your goals along the way and allow time if you need to nap, cry, or walk away for the day.
  5. Find a support network - If you can tell your immediate friends and family what you are up to ask for their support as you work. You might also benefit from a writing group or class where you can get feedback on your writing and where you can contribute your constructive feedback to the writing of others.

5 Tips for Writing Your First Book by Amazon Bestseller Rochelle Gapere

1.     Just start! Don’t overthink the process. Rather than focusing on the end result, the actual book being complete, start with one page and then go from there. Your gifts aren’t only for you- your story is worthy and valuable and someone needs to hear it.

2.     Write often! I made a commitment to myself to write something at least once a day. There were days when I wasn’t motivated or inspired to write, but the act of doing something, even if only a few sentences caused my creative juices to flow. At times, it would be my intention to write one or two paragraphs and then I would get into a writing flow and knock out a chapter or two. Remember small wins are still wins!

3.     Get a Writing team – It takes a village! I hired a writing coach/editor (Rachel) who was great at content development and encouraged me to flesh out ideas and dig deeper in terms of telling a full story and filling in the gaps. Signing a contract and also paying for a service made me accountable to the process. In addition, I utilized the advice and expertise of friends in the process. A friend of mine is extremely talented at sentence structuring so she was very helpful in helping me with brevity because at times I could be long-winded. Another friend who also published a book did my overall read through upon the book’s completion. She read the book from cover to cover and did the final edit to ensure there were no sneaky punctuation and/or grammar flubs. A family member who has an impeccable way with words and flow, edited my introduction and also gave me feedback on setting the overall tone of the book as a neutral reader. It literally took a village and I appreciate my village. Do not think you have to accomplish this goal alone, seek out people in your village with great talent and skills to assist you!

4.     Tune out the distractions! I believe in setting reasonable timelines for my goals. When I realized that I was approaching a book deadline that I had set for myself and I wasn’t close to where I needed to be, I went on social media fast. The time I spent scrolling through Instagram and Facebook was valuable time I could spend writing. I accomplished tons of writing in the month that I spent on my social media fast.

5.     Hire people who understand your vision and are amenable to changes along the way. I hired a publicist/branding strategist who handled the aesthetic/feel of the book. She has also published her own book, so was extremely knowledgeable about the publishing process. Two weeks before my book’s release I decided I wanted to create a journal. I suggested it to her and she was completely on board. The word impossible didn’t exist in getting my project completed. Our energy was complimentary!

Rochelle Gapere is an Attorney, Happiness Coach and Entrepreneur. Known for bringing her charismatic personality and sheer joy for living to every experience and individual that she encounters, Rochelle has mastered the art of living life fully and passionately. The release of her first book, One Happy Thought at a Time: 30 Days to a Happier You, cements her lifelong practice of adding more happiness to this world by empowering others with the tools and techniques that help them lead happier, more fulfilling lives. Rochelle believes in living a life that is engaging at every level and utilizes practical techniques to teach audiences her unique approach to living a happy life.

5 Ways to Share Family Stories and Culture

1 - Collect Memories from Other Family Members

Talk with cousins, siblings, children, and other relatives to help supplement your memories of a person or event. And make it fun! It doesn't have to be a formal interview. Invite relatives over for coffee, drinks, or a bite to eat and start sharing. Just remember that we all perceive people and events differently. Be open to the other party's interpretation and use that information to inform your writing. It doesn't mean you have to tell a story from their perspective, but having their perspective may help color and fill in your own story. 
 

2 - Use Keepsakes to Trigger Memories

Do you have an old broach your grandma used to wear? How about a favorite coffee mug? Items like these can trigger memories about your loved one's personality, their culture, their rituals, their likes, and their dislikes. Keepsakes and heirlooms might also be good conversational pieces to help jog the memory of other family members who might have good stories to tell once they see them. 

3 - Make a Timeline of Major Events

Making a timeline of major events in your life is a surefire way to spark strong memories. Start with birth and fill in school graduations, moves, religious milestones, marriage(s), the birth(s) of children, divorce, deaths, etc. Once you mark these major milestones you’ll be able to fill in the timeline with details surrounding those events, as well as other occurrences that you may have missed without those triggers.

4-Be Specific

It’s one thing to say, "Grandma was loving toward me." It’s another thing to say, “Grandma always greeted me at the door with a full mug of my favorite chocolate milk topped with extra marshmallows. Once inside, we would snuggle on the couch, while she asked questions about school and I answered between sips.” Providing specific details about how grandma showed love helps us picture her and the relationship more vividly.

5-Own Your Story

You are the best person in the world to write your story and your family history. Don’t say, “Well, ‘so and so’ could really tell this story better if only she/he were here.”  Toni Morrison couldn’t tell your story the way you can. It doesn’t matter that you’re not the best writer. What matters is that you tell your story. You’re the only one on this earth who has had your experience with your perspective.

5 Ways to Keep Your Writing Relationship Hot

1 - Set The Mood

Treat your writing time like you would treat that special time with your romantic partner. Plan the date, set the mood, remove all distractions, light a candle, pour your favorite drink, and get to work (LOL - sorry, I couldn't resist). I've told you before and I'll say it again (because it is my favorite story about writing rituals) Maya Angelou used to book a hotel room and drink sherry while she wrote. Whatever your preference, find a way to make that time special.

2 - Have Fun

Keep the creative juices flowing by not worrying about what everyone else will think about your work. Nothing blocks writing like worrying about stuff that is outside of your control. Stop ruminating about what your father is going to say, what your ex-husband will think, what your holier-than-thou cousin will think of you now and just write. Stop stressing about the end result and focus on the ideas that are flowing.

3 - Write What You Love

If you try to focus on what others want you to do or what you think will sell, you might quickly get bored with what you are doing and lose motivation. Follow your passion and write what you love.

4- Embrace the Infatuation Stage

This is the time when the sparks are flying and you feel enthusiastic about your fresh project. It's like a new love - you think about them every day and you want to spend all your free time with them. Treat your new writing idea the same way - work on it every day. It doesn't have to be all day, but you could dedicate 25 minutes a day to working on this one project.

5 - Focus on the Good

Let's face it - like any relationship, writing takes work. There's structuring, organizing, developmental editing, rewriting, more editing, proofing, etc. There's no magical wand that will make the writing process perfect or easy, but if you focus on the parts that you enjoy the most, you'll have a better experience. 
 

5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Your Memoir

Mistake 1 - Doubting Your Story

Two women recently told to me that they should write a book, respectively, but their lives are so boring. Impossible, I thought. I don't believe it. No one escapes this life without walking through a little fire. Sure, your memoir may not make the New York Times Best Sellers' list, but that doesn't make your life story unworthy of telling, especially for future generations.

Mistake 2 - Worrying About Publishing

Speaking of the New York Times Best Sellers' list, many people worry a bit too much about publishing before they've written a word. I've realized that this is often a stalling tactic. I suggest working on your craft and having something substantial so that when the opportunities arise for publishing you'll have work to show. There's no sense in worrying about publishing if you don't have anything to publish.

Mistake 3 - Not Establishing a Theme for Your Memoir

If you do plan to share your story with others outside of your family and publish it, you will need to have a theme and a central idea, a "so what?" In other words, zero in on a particular time or facet of your life. You can always cover other areas in another memoir:)

A few categories are: Coming-of-Age, Addiction and Compulsion, Transformation, Travel, Food, Religion/Spirituality, etc.

Mistake 4 - Excluding Dialogue

In order to engage your readers, create dialogue that is believable. If your grandmother spoke using yiddish phrases, write the dialogue how she would say it, not in perfect English. Make your characters come alive by including dialects and even other languages.

Mistake 5 - Editing As You Write

I know it's tempting, but editing as you write may not only slow down the process, it may also stop the creative juices from flowing altogether. This is particularly important when you are writing your first draft. Don't worry in the beginning if every "i" is dotted and if every "t" is crossed. Just write. After your first draft, you will be doing some major rewriting and revision. You can worry about perfect grammar after all of that is done.

Want help? Contact us here 

 

You Can't Write If You Don't Get Still

As we wind down 2017 it's important to get still and keep our writing commitments. In the midst of the holiday season finding quiet time can be easier said than done, however. Our guest blogger, Sari Leigh, owner of Anacostia Yogi in Washington DC has a few tips on how to center ourselves and calm our restless minds. This original post appeared on her blog, AnacotiaYogi.com titled 5 Tips for Stillness

If you are seeking a pathway toward a quiet mind, you must first get beyond the buzzing cell phone, the rambling television, the nifty iPad or kindle. Our modern web of technological clutter has created a monster of mental confusion.

Finding stillness is one breath away.

Most of us want to quiet the frenetic mind. But we just don’t know how. We need to take a retreat from the chaos and escape into our inner rhythms. I found 5 tips for creating stillness in the summertime.

Tip 1) Find Your Mantra

A mantra is simply a short statement of repetition such as “I am light."  Your mantra could be a bible verse, a quote, or an ancient phrase that sends a powerful and positive vibration through your consciousness. Repeat your personal mantra when you need to get on a clear path toward positive thinking.

Tip 2) Find Your Sacred Place

The energies that we pick up every day from those around us leave a residue of confusion and self-doubt. Take time to take refuge in a sacred place. My sacred place is on a lake in upstate New York.

Sacred Spaces make for powerful sources of energy.

I can meditate on a mountaintop or in a rustic wooden gazebo. Watching the fog rise from the lake makes me feel light and free. Seek out a sacred space that helps you regain your self-confidence.

Tip 3) Find Your Breath

When we finally reach the promised land of stillness, we often have no idea what to do with this time! Don’t get restless and pull out your cell phone. Instead, pull out a breathing technique. I use the alternate nostril breathing to create balance for my nervous system.

Tip 4) Find Your Guided Meditation

Meditation is one of the most difficult aspects of yoga. Inviting the brain into a neutral state requires that we experiment with thinking about nothing.  Begin with a guided audio meditation to help keep your mind on track. Here is my free meditation download to help you get started!

Tip 5) Find Your Smell

Aromatherapy is the use of natural scents to create a state of relaxation. I have used lavender oil for over 5 years to help me cope with anxiety and nervousness.

Essential oils like lavender are great to settle the mind.

Scents are a powerful way to create a state of peacefulness. Play around with scents that lift your energy, calm your mood and help you feel relaxed. My favorite essential oils are grapefruit, lavender, and lemon

Order doTerra essential oils here

Stillness Is One Breath Away

These tips will help you realize that inner peace is just one word, one thought, one sound and one breath away. When you can quiet the mind, you will discover that you have greater clarity and a better grasp on moving through obstacles with grace.

-Sari

Sari created Anacostia Yogi to offer a platform for Black women's health and healing through yoga. Sarianne is a 200 hour Registered Yoga Instructor. She holds a Master's of Arts in Women's Studies and she is completing a PhD in Counseling at The George Washington University. Sari uses her blog Anacostia Yogi to explore mind, body, spirit healing and social justice for Black women.

Sari is also a contributer to a Sassin Through Sadhana, a volume I am guest co-editing for the Race and Yoga Journal out of the University of California, Berkeley. You can find her story on how she became a yoga instructor here https://escholarship.org/uc/item/489239q9 Her piece is entitled, "God, Nature, and Yoga as Somewhere in Between."

For more information on how to write your own story please contact me here

In Honor of Women Veterans And Their Sacrifices

In honor of Veteran's Day, we are featuring a special guest blogger and expert on women and war, Dr. Heather Marie Stur. She is the author of Integrating the U.S. Military: Race, Gender, and Sexuality Since World War II and teaches courses on US foreign relations and women and war at the University of Southern Mississippi University. This piece from her blog The Year of the Cat highlights the story of Emily Strange, who served in the Vietnam War as one of the Donut Dollies - American women who were sent to Vietnam by the American Red Cross and US military to comfort male soldiers. Strange was later featured in Stur's book, Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era and has since passed away. We honor Emily Strange today and all women who have served the US military, especially those brave enough to tell their stories.

“I STOPPED LEARNING NAMES …”

Emily Strange served in the Vietnam War as a Red Cross “Donut Dollie” with the 9th Infantry Division and Mobile Riverine Force.

A few days ago, I learned that Emily Strange, one of the first Donut Dollies I interviewed for Beyond Combat, had passed away July 12. It was a shock to hear that she’s gone, in part because she had randomly popped into my mind before I had heard she’d died, and I had been thinking about the stories she had shared with me when we sat together in the living room of her home in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. That was nearly fifteen years ago, when Beyond Combat was just an idea for a dissertation, but I remember our conversation so vividly. I was a stranger to her, but she welcomed me into her home and told me openly and frankly about her experiences serving with the Red Cross in Vietnam, primarily at Dong Tam with the 9th Infantry Division and Mobile Riverine Force. Her job as a Donut Dollie was to be a morale booster, a “touch of home,” for the troops she worked with. Donut Dollies organized parties and sing-alongs, played games, served sweets and cold (well, lukewarm at best in southern Vietnam’s heat) drinks, and listened to soldiers who needed to talk. Sometimes the most important thing a Donut Dollie could do was to sit beside a GI who couldn’t quite articulate all the things he wanted to say about being at war and just be a sympathetic human presence.

One of Emily’s stories that has stuck with me all these years is of her decision to stop learning the names of the guys she met in Vietnam. She had become close with one GI, a young man named Michael. They both played guitar, and when Emily was assigned to Michael’s unit, they’d sometimes sit around and play folk music together. Shortly after Emily’s Red Cross team moved on to another assignment, she learned that Michael had been killed in action. At that moment, she realized that she needed to put distance between herself and the guys she worked with. She needed to figure out a way to do her job of providing emotional comfort to frightened and lonely young men while protecting her own mental well-being. So Emily stopped learning names. She told me that there are probably guys she knows on the Wall, but she won’t have to face the pain of knowing for sure because she stopped learning names after Michael died.

Like so many veterans, Emily struggled to settle back into “the World.” She told me about times when her girlfriends would call her up and invite her to go shopping, and she would wonder how anyone could possibly care about something so frivolous. She knew it wasn’t that her friends were shallow, that it was her. What she had experienced in Vietnam made it difficult for her to enjoy everyday life back home. She found solace writing poetry, and she connected with other Donut Dollies as well as military veterans. She attended and spoke at vets’ reunions, and she built a website where veterans could publish their stories and find one another.

The emotional toll that the Vietnam War took on the women the Red Cross, the U.S. military, and other organizations sent to Vietnam to care for American troops mentally, emotionally, and physically needs to be part of the broader conversation about the war and its long-term impacts. On the home front, the war had a profound effect on the wives, mothers, sisters, and girlfriends of veterans, as my friend Andrew Wiestis exploring in his research on the families of Charlie Company, his follow-up to The Boys of ’67. The Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), the U.S. Army’s Vietnamese counterpart in the war, employed women in the Women’s Armed Forces Corps (WAFC) to minister to ARVN troops and their families as healthcare and social workers. Women of the National Liberation Front (NLF) tended to their men as nurses and doctors. Dr. Dang Thuy Tram’s posthumous memoir, Last Night I Dreamed of Peace, offers a glimpse of the experiences of an NLF woman doctor, but we have so much more to learn about the war’s impact on Vietnamese women caregivers.

Emily never knew how influential she was in the development of my thinking about women and the Vietnam War and about what it means to experience war. She taught me about the emotional burden Donut Dollies bore while working to lift the spirits of men at war. Her stories pushed me to think about the various ways in which the Vietnam War affected women’s lives and what it meant to be a woman serving in the war. I am grateful to have spent some time with her, brief as it was. Rest in peace, Emily.

* Check out Emily’s website, http://www.emilydd.com, to see lots of photos from her time in Vietnam, read her poetry, and learn more about her work as a Donut Dollie and the men with whom she served. *

More on Stur

Heather Marie Stur, Ph.D., is an associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi and a fellow in USM’s Dale Center for the Study of War & Society. Her first book, Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. She is currently writing two books: Saigon at War: The Third Force and the Global Sixties in South Vietnam, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, and Reflecting America: U.S. Military Expansion and Global Interventions, forthcoming from Praeger/ABC-CLIO. She is also co-editor of the anthology, Integrating the U.S. Military: Race, Gender, and Sexuality Since World War II ( Johns Hopkins University Press March 2017). In 2013-14, Dr. Stur was a Fulbright scholar in Vietnam, where she was a visiting professor in the Faculty of International Relations at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City. She is the recipient of numerous other awards and fellowships from groups and institutions such as the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) program, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Stur teaches courses on U.S. foreign relations, women and war, the global Cold War, the U.S. since 1945, and world history. She is also the director of USM’s Vietnam Summer Studies Program, a three-week study abroad trip in which students are immersed in Vietnamese history, politics, and culture. Dr. Stur’s articles and editorials have been published in Diplomatic History, The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture, The National Interest, and Reflections on War &Society. She writes about foreign relations and military issues on her blog. Dr. Stur holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin.

Know any women veteran's who should tell their story? Contact us here

Increase Mind, Body, Spirit Wellness with Writing

I often get clients who come to workshops or one-on-one coaching sessions with me because their therapists sent them. My writing workshops and coaching don't take the place of one-on-one time with a professional therapist but they often serve to supplement the work done in a counselor's office. Simply put, expressive narrative writing not only improves our emotional and mental health, but studies show that writing about our past can even improve our physical health. There’s no wonder, then, why more and more mental health professionals recognize expressive writing as beneficial for overall wellbeing.

The Journal of Continuing Professional Development for Advances in Psychiatric Treatment reported the psychological health benefits of expressive writing and developing a coherent narrative over time (2005). Consistently writing our stories and revising them, in other words, in conjunction with using positive – emotion words about what we have come to understand and realize as a result of certain life experiences (including traumatic ones) can have a profound effect on the way we think about ourselves and others. Their findings are supported by several other studies, as well, which suggest that writing as little as 20 minutes a day can lesson anxiety and depression, including severe disorders such as PTSD (Pennebaker 1986, 1991). Although many writers avoid putting their traumatic experiences in prose because they fear reliving the experiences by retelling them, studies show that writing about such experiences allows the author to take control over what has happened to them. Organizing their thoughts around the incidents and making meaning out of them empowers the survivor to tell their truth and may provide a sense of calm and relief. 

The soothing effect of writing can also provide healing in the body. Because writing consistently can reduce stress levels and depression, some patients living with long-term illnesses have benefited from writing by releasing stress and tension in the body. Some patients who suffered from asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and even cancer and AIDS showed significant improvement after writing about their experiences.

The physical and mental growth that some experience as a result of writing can also be accompanied by spiritual growth. Within memoirs and other forms of expressive writing, authors often grapple with issues of identity and belonging, and their connection to a “higher self.” Writers might also experience instances of gratitude and forgiveness.

Writing is simply good medicine. It can improve your mood by helping you release emotions that could be weighing you down, and it can help you create order around "uncontrollable" thoughts concerning traumatic experiences, which can enable you to gain peace of mind, body, and spirit.

If you're thinking about writing for wellness purposes contact me here

Take Your Writing to the Next Level with a Consultation

Consultations allow you the opportunity to share your idea or writing project with a professional for solutions-based feedback. Whether you want to revise your work before sending it to an agent or print, get one-on-one feedback on your first draft, get advice for developing your idea, or you just need motivation to keep going, I am here to help. I offer positive, constructive, and specific suggestions to get you to the next step in your writing process.

You may know what your next steps are and if you do, great! In that case, we can discuss services such as editing, ghostwriting, or a manuscript critique. However, you may need the advice of an experienced professional if you’re feeling lost or stuck and if you don’t know whether you are on the right track. A consultation can guide you through the stages of the writing process. We discuss where you are in the process, what obstacles you’ve encountered, and how I can help you achieve your writing objectives.

Just as you might consult with a personal trainer on your fitness goals, writing consultations assess your writing goals. Just like the trainer, I will help you create a realistic roadmap for completing your writing project that is tailored to your needs and based on your vision.

This month, I am giving away a special gift to five lucky winners! Each winner will receive a complimentary 20-minute consultation session to discuss their writing needs and my suggestions for moving forward. All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter 

At the end of the month, my team and I will announce the five lucky winners. Good luck and happy writing!

 

Interview with Wellness Writer Suzanne Cope, PhD

Suzanne Cope is dope. She's the author of Small Batch: Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, Spirits, and the Return of Artisinal Food.  She's also an educator, journalist, scholar, and content expert. Like any relationship, Susanne reminds us that our writing is a long-term commitment, which needs tending to every day in order for it to grow and strengthen. She admits that maintaining that relationship may also require a pinch of spice. 

1) What inspired your latest book?

My current book project is about stories of how food was used by a weapon in revolution from World War II to the present. After the election, I was drawn to stories of female revolutionaries. I met with my agent around that time and we came up with the idea of the ways that food has been, and can be, used to help create social and political change. I started to do more research into potential stories and got really excited about what I found! I’m now finishing my proposal to be sent to editors, hopefully within a few months.

2)  What are common traps for aspiring women writers?

Confidence. Not feeling like you’re “good enough”. Laboring over a sentence or paragraph or pitch for too long. I used to work in book publishing and have long thought of writing as a numbers game. You have to send it out enough times to get traction – and learn from your, inevitable, rejections. Rejection is part of the process. Writing is a process. Trust that process. If it isn’t flowing, take a break, cook something, go work out. Send out a pitch or essay that you don’t feel is totally *done*. Then go back and make it better a day or a week later. I think we need to get our work in the world more to have more opportunities for feedback – including both rejection and success. One thing is certain: if you don’t get your work out there, it won't be published or read by others.

3)  What is your writing kryptonite?

Getting out of practice. Writing is a habit. Once I stop for a week or more it’s hard to get back into the groove. Even 25 minutes a day (I practice the pomodoro method when I’m less inspired) keeps me sharp.

4)  Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you building a body of work with connections between each one?

For my shorter works – essays and articles – my connections are more general: the stories behind food, travel, culture. But I also write about education, feminism, and even art. But my agent really pushed my recent project toward a connection with food and culture to be more conscious about building upon my expertise. And I think that’s smart. I always find connections with research or stories from previous work as I delve deeply into a new project.

5)  If you could tell your younger writing self one thing what would it be?

To embrace research more to add to the personal story you want to write. To aim higher for the places I want to publish. To trust the process.

6)  How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I think it gave me more confidence in my ability to manage such a large amount of research and a sustained arc. Also, and I keep saying this, but to trust the process. There were moments when I was so in the middle of what felt like a mess that I didn’t know how I would be able to organize my research, thoughts, ideas. But I knew that if I kept writing, kept revising, the organization and solution would emerge. It did. Now on bigger projects, I don’t stress about that feeling of not knowing – I keep working through it and recognize it as part of the process.

7)  As a writer what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A great dane? I grew up with great danes and love how big and powerful they appear, but they are really sweet, calm animals. I do try to put myself out there in the world with a lot of confidence, but deep down I have as many insecurities as the next person. But I also know that I keep getting better at my craft, and insecurities are a part of becoming a better writer.

8)  Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Sometimes, in a way. It is cognitively true that writing can help you understand your own thoughts better. So maybe writing can be seen as a way to get insight into your own goal. And those moments, that are unfortunately few and far between, when the ideas are flowing and there is that real fount of inspiration – that is what a writer lives for, I think. We always write hoping to capture that energy again.

9) What is your writing schedule like?

I teach 2 days a week on campus and am usually teaching at least 1 or 2 online classes at the same time. Plus I am often writing and pitching multiple pieces at once. On the days I don’t teach I try to put in as much of a day of doing the various tasks of writing as  I can. But it’s often hard to sustain one project for hours on end – I get diminishing returns. So I might come up with a schedule of 10 things to do for a half hour or hour at a time. That way if I’m getting frustrated I give myself the permission to move on to another task. This also “forces” me to do the tasks I like the least for at least 25 minutes, so I am always making some progress. I tryto remind myself that few people can really be productive with just straight up writing one project for many hours a day – mixing it up or giving myself a break makes me more productive in the long run.

10) How does your family support you in your writing or writing schedule?

My husband is a songwriter and musician and he is very supportive. If I have a deadline he’ll watch our 4 year old son to give me extra time on the weekend or days he’s not in daycare when I’m also working from home. Other days, like today, we “timeshare” watching him. For example I am writing this from a coffee shop up the street. My writing slot is 8 – 12 today. I’m heading home soon to switch roles with my husband – he’ll work in his basement studio for the afternoon while I hang out with our son and we’ll reconnect for dinner. It’s hard though. I certainly wish I had more time to work, even though I also love time with my family. And I don’t work well at night, so getting back to it after he goes to bed doesn’t often work for me. I prefer to go to bed early and wake up early. If I can get an hour in before he wakes up, I feel pretty great about starting the day.

Dr. Suzanne Cope has more than 15 years working in marketing, content creation, online and print publishing, and user experience, and more than a decade in higher education, curriculum development, online teaching, and professional development. Her journalist pursuits focus on longform storytelling, connecting innovators to a larger cultural significance, and articles on food, culture, and education, and her scholarly interests are focused on innovative writing pedagogy, online teaching, narrative theory, and adult learning. She teaches and/or performs course development for the University of Arkansas, Monticello Online MFA Program, St. John’s University, and Berklee College Online. She has experience in academic professional development for online teaching and curriculum development as well as writing across the curriculum with a focus on narrative. Suzanne is also available for consulting on user experience education and narrative and content building for start ups and rebranding. In these capacities she has worked with companies as diverse as the Chicago Humanities Festival, Raytheon, Boston Group, and A Curated World.

Follow her on Twitter @locavoreincity and on Facebook 

Interview with Wellness Writer Gwendolen Wilder

I am pleased to introduce this week's guest blog interview with author and domestic violence survivor, Gwendolen Wilder. Wilder endured the physical, financial, psychological, and emotional abuse of domestic violence in both a common-law and traditional marriage for twenty-one years. Her new book, It’s OK To Tell My Story! Surviving Common Law Domestic Violence is a work of fiction that’s based on Wilder’s real-life experiences. Similar to thousands of other domestic violence victims, this successful business owner, and retired military veteran felt that the abuse she endured from her ex-common-law husband was her fault. The book details the reality of the continuous betrayals, lack of affection, cruel words, and violent outbursts that so many domestic violence victims endure – and shows how victims can finally get out from under their abusers.  

What inspired your latest book?

My son inspired me to write my first book. I didn’t want him to go another day thinking the examples I’ve shown him since birth, regarding adult relationships were considered normal or healthy. I wanted better for him and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to break the cycle of abuse with me.

What are common traps for aspiring women writers?

A strong tribe. I found it very disheartening when I first started my writing journey that a few of my lady tribe sisters were not as supportive. They couldn’t comprehend why I wanted to write a book or how it could be considered a “real” job. I don’t believe I was taken seriously initially. I was ready to face the world but found it difficult to face the world when my support system wasn’t fully on board initially. But, I believe it was because I was the first in my tribe to take such a magnificent venture (risk) and it was new for them. After I understood this, I helped them understand the importance of why this had to be done. The one’s that got it are still with me. As for the others that thought I was writing the book as a way to get back at my abuser; I said “Bye Felicia” and kept it moving.

What is your writing kryptonite?

My damn apartment and loud ass neighbors. It’s like my neighbors and their dogs know exactly when I’m focused and in my writing zone. It’s right at that moment when I’m ready to inspire myself that my neighbor’s kids are screaming, jumping and almost falling through my roof. Or it’s my neighbor’s dogs acting a dang fool running around; I swear that dog weighs atleast 100 lbs. It’s like the entire apartment complex rallies against me because I can hear every darn noise within a 5-mile radius. I think I wrote the majority of my first book, literally lounging by the pool lol. Lord let these books sell so I can buy a house; a sista would be lethal when that happens.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you building a body of work with connections between each one?

My goal is for all the books to complement each other based upon the subject matter of domestic violence. However, my fictional serious are all about the journey of the main character. My third book, which will be the second fiction book in the It’s OK To Tell My Story Series picks up with the main character dating…that journey will be a super fun XXX read.

If you could tell your younger writing self one thing what would it be?

“Girl what that heck, why didn’t you take better care to store all your journals’? And, I would tell her, “Save more money and spend wisely”. Funding this writing passion is no joke. Getting the message out on a zero-dollar budget is a real problem.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I’d say it made me more passionate about writing descriptively. I’m more conscious about the use and placement of words.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

A cloud. If I could touch a cloud, I’d imagine it being soft, uplifting and uncontained. Being able to write that first book made me as free as a cloud; nothing to hide. But at the same time. I feel continually uplifted and know I can’t be contained-never again.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

OMGOSH yes! Writing is all about connecting with your source. My source is God. It’s my safe place where I can cry, give thanks, etc. only he and I know why I wrote what I wrote in my journal. There’s something soothing and calming about being able to practice gratitude writing to God. I feel loved. When I write my novels, it’s a different feeling, I feel more as if I’m pleasing God by getting the message out and hopefully bringing others to him; I feel a sense of peace and fulfillment.

What is your writing schedule like?

Crazy as heck. When I was full on in my writer’s mode with book 1…I treated writing like a job. I worked on that book every hour except for when my son was home. When he went to sleep I’d write, when he left for school I’d write when he relocated to college; it got bananas and I barely slept. I had a passion or a burning in my soul and it needed to get out. I think when you are passionate about something it will consume you, but in a good way until it’s accomplished.

How does your family support you in your writing or writing schedule?

My son still asks me, what do you do again; Do you have a job Mum? He’s my #1 supporter and I love his crazy jokes. He cracks me up and keeps me going. The rest of my family supports me now. In the beginning, they didn’t believe I would do it (they won’t admit it I’m sure) lol. They were more concerned about the possible repercussions from writing the book (that fueled me more to write it). For the most part, most them supported me.

It’s OK To Tell My Story! Surviving Common Law Domestic Violence is available on Amazon.

Wilder’s second book, Managing Domestic Violence In The Workplace will be published later this year.

For more information, visit www.GwendolenWilderAuthor.com

 

Ladies, Stop Apologizing For Your Writing

I think the grammar Nazis are getting to some of you. You know, those teachers in junior high and high school who drew red road maps around every dangling participle, comma splice, and misspelled word you wrote? Yeah, them. Stop letting those people live rent-free in your head. It’s over. You survived (most of you anyway).

If I had a dollar for every time a female student or client told me, “I’m not a good writer,” I’d be poolside sipping a mai tai right now. But seriously, stop it.  Why do you do this to yourselves? And most importantly, why do you do it to me? Is it because you’re trying to avoid the trauma of reliving the crimson ink of your youth?  Just days ago, before I even opened her Word document, a client who wrote ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY pages said to me, “I’m not a writer.” She repeated it four times. She was apologizing before I even looked at her manuscript. Her manuscript. As if to say, “Oh this ol’ thing?” Just stop.

Most of my former male clients or students who couldn’t string two sentences together with a shoelace would never utter these words to me. They might say the work was incomplete but most would never say, “I’m not a good writer” before I even looked at their work. Why is that? Because men are not taught to undervalue themselves and their efforts. They are taught to take ownership and exude confidence even if they are lost like Alice in Wonderland.

Ladies, let’s not belittle our work and ourselves. Writing well isn’t about avoiding grammar mistakes, or always knowing what we’re doing or where we’re going with our writing. If that were the case, there would be no published authors. Writing is about the practice of writing.

If you’ve committed to the craft of writing, then don’t minimize it. Own it.

Interview with Wellness Writer, Chrissy Gruninger

I am thrilled to introduce to you an amazing wellness writer, Chrissy Gruninger. Chrissy is an author, yoga teacher, happiness mentor and received her Graduate Degree in Integrative Health and Sustainability from Sonoma State University in 2008.  She is a multi-passionate entrepreneur and owns Social [media] Wellness, an online business management firm and ChrissyGruninger.com.

Chrissy empowers individuals in creating more harmony in their lives and supports professionals in creating more harmony in the world. She offers personalized mentoring based on her signature approach, Inherent Harmony, as well as online business management for wellness and eco companies committed to spreading positive energy.

What inspired your latest book?

Moving abroad, becoming an entrepreneur and living in a foreign language and culture…All at the same time. How could I not write a book about that!  My latest book, Lost and Found in the Land of Mañana – Wildhearted Living in an Imperfect World, is actually a continuation of two other previous books. 

However, this book looks completely different than what I originally thought I’d write about.  Even the title is a complete 180 from the working title I had when I first moved to Costa Rica, which was: Sundresses and Sandals, My Life on the Rich Coast. What I thought I’d be writing and what I actually wrote look so very different. It honestly took me a while to make that shift and understand that the life I thought I’d be living (and writing about) did not end up becoming the reality.

What are common traps for aspiring women writers?

We’re afraid to show up and truly be ourselves.  To be vulnerable.  So often we want to please others which prevents us from writing our truth, or worse, writing at all.  What we need to learn is that not everyone will 1) like everything we write and 2) like us.  We must still speak our truth and not take negative feedback personally, understanding that we each see life in different ways.

Another issue that I often see is not writing in our authentic voice.  Sometimes I read posts from other women and wonder if they actually wrote it as it doesn’t sound like something they’d write or as the person I know them to be.  Often times that’s due to writing for someone else (rather than ourselves) which isn’t sustainable and doesn’t help us make strong connections with our readers.

What is your writing kryptonite?

I’m a very casual writer. I start sentences with And’s and But’s, I use kinda and gonna in my books, blogs and podcasts.  Basically, I write like I talk.  I know that doesn’t follow standard writing guidelines and it’s often looked down upon but what I’m sharing in my writing is ME. I want my readers to feel comfortable because if they ever met me in person, I’d want them to see that I sound just like I write.  Walking my talk, being authentic – I can’t do that if I’m always following the rules.

Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you building a body of work with connections between each one?

I have two collections of books right now but that’s not how it started. 

With the Rich Coast Experiences Collection, it simply started with Vicarious Adventures on the Rich Coast.  And I thought that would be the end of it.  But then I received an opportunity to work and live in Costa Rica and I decided to write a second book about my decision to move and the challenges I faced during that time (plus adding in travel stories as it was a continuation of the first book which was a travel guide and memoir).  While writing the second book, No Fear, and with the knowledge that I’d be moving to Costa Rica, I decided I’d make it a trilogy.

Same with my Living Well Collection.  It started off as an inspirational photography book, An Intentional Life, which then turned into 4 other similar coffee-table style books along with 2 nonfiction self-help books.

If you could tell your younger writing self one thing what would it be?

Write.  Just write. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not a real job or it’s not a worthwhile venture.  I loved writing as a kid but I put it aside.  I got back into writing when I started grad school in my early 30’s and it reminded me how much I loved it. At that point, I knew it was my decision to pursue it as a viable career.

How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I realized I needed an editor and that actually gave me so much more freedom.  I could just write and write and write and my editor would come in and clean it up, edit out my tirades (or, at least, soften them) and help me sort out the parts that were more difficult to pull together.

As a writer what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

The beautiful blue morpho butterfly. Strong yet delicate. Transformational. Flying over the world, taking everything in and then settling down on a leaf in quiet repose.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Most definitely, especially with the style of books that I write. The truth is often stranger than fiction and writing helps me sort it all out and explore life from many different perspectives.

 What is your writing schedule like?

I don’t put myself on a strict writing schedule.  I really prefer to let the ideas and words happen naturally.  Ideas come to me all the time for new content, new books, new blogs and forcing myself to sit and write would harm my creative process.  I don’t believe anyone can – or should – write a book in 90 days (or whatever the latest and greatest hype is).

In contrast to my flexible writing schedule, however, I do have a pretty strict editorial calendar that I follow. One of my main goals is to reach people through my writing and it’s important to me to always be producing quality content that they can depend on. 

I have ideas through 2018 and most of 2017 is already written or recorded for a podcast. Although at times, I’ll make shifts to the schedule when I’m called to write something that is pertinent to what is happening in the world. 

How does your family support you in your writing or writing schedule?

Well, my family right now are my two cats, Sunshine and Lluvia.  But they are huge supporters of my writing. 😉

To further explore ways on how to live A Wildhearted Sanguine Life, one that embodies intentional and mindful action, please connect with Chrissy at chrissygruninger.com

Using Food To Generate Ideas

I know this is usually the time when we make New Year’s resolutions to take control of our health and vow to exercise more and eat less, but many of my students will be indulging in food over the next few weeks. Writing about the rituals and roles surrounding food in our households is a really resourceful tool to jog our memories about family, culture and even religion, and weave those into our storytelling. Food links generations to our family history of immigrants and exiles. It links us to family ideals, practices and viewpoints.

Even the remembrance of the spaces where our cuisine was prepared can elicit dormant emotions and connect us to family and heritage in a potent way. While taking a hypnobirthing course years ago, the doulas asked all of the pregnant mommies to visualize a safe place from their past or present and to meditate using those images, sights, sounds and smell as if we were really there. To my surprise, when I closed my eyes, the first place that came to mind was my maternal grandparents’ kitchen when I was a child. My grandparents have since sold that place, but I could still see it exactly how it was in the late 70s, early 80s with its avocado green and amber decor. I could smell the strong, bold black coffee sweetened with the fragrance of brown sugar and ginger wafting from the Lebkuchen baking in the oven. In my mind, I could get a whiff of the saccharine- salty breadbox as I opened it to find my grandfather’s stash of breadsticks and mini Snickers bars. I could hear the birds chirping as they perched on the feeder just outside the kitchen window. I could see the “Ve Get too Soon Oldt und too Late Shmart” cast-iron Omish sign hanging above the M&M jar on the countertop. As a child born from two different races, it was a place both foreign and familiar. But if Candyland had a smell, I imagined it smelled like my grandparents' kitchen. It was a place where I felt that no adult drama could touch me and I could always find a sugary treat to escape the perils of childhood.

My students have made similar connections in their writing about kitchens that nourished them. They have also relished in the fact that through writing about food they can flashback to their earliest formative years while at the same time connect to their group, gender and individual identities. Some Jewish students wrote about the symbolism of eating honeyed cake for a sweet New Year and found commonalities with a few Chinese students who wrote about eating a whole fish for abundance in the New Year. Students from India, Venezuela and the Caribbean got to explore rice as a staple dish in their families and the history and politics about how that came to be.

If you're are feeling stuck or can't think of what else to write about think about a particular food you used to eat to help generate ideas. There are a ton of culinary memoirs you can use as models, including:

The Language of Baklava and Life without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber

Chilles and Porridge by Mita Kapur

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

Blood Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker

Tiger in the Kitchen by Cheryl Tan

Vibration Cooking by Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor

Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey

The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher

Top 5 Women's Writing Retreats for 2017

Ever feel like you need to get away in order to get any writing done? Or maybe you just need a little boost and support? Here are my top picks for 2017 so you can get down to business and mix in a little pleasure.

1Storyteller within: Journey into Sacred Expression 

This yoga and writing retreat takes place in Guatemala and includes daily yoga, meditation and writing workshops. The price is nice too at just a little over one grand.

There are two retreats a year; one in January and one in July. The first is taking place right now, but you can still catch the next one July 7th-16th.  

2Centauri Arts Costa Rica Retreat for Writers and Families

This seven day retreat, in the lush rainforest of Finca Luna Nueva, can be your home away from as you write, explore, recharge and spend time with family, who can also attend your public readings.

The retreat runs from February 4th-11th and prices range from $1,345 – $1,819.

3TLC Writing Retreats for Women

Need a little extra support to get your story out? Try one of these cozy women-only writing retreats. The first retreat this year is in Loreto Bay, Mexico from February 19th-25th.

There are retreats in Greece, Arizona and California throughout the year.

The cost is $2,795 per person.

4The Taos Writer’s Retreat

Jenneifer Loudon hosts this all-inclusive women-only retreat in Taos, New Mexico during the spring and summer for a great price. The cost ranges from $2000-2500 per person and includes “all lodging and all meals, daily writing seminars, daily yoga classes, on-the-spot writing coaching, plentiful snacks, and love love love”. The spring retreat takes place from April 30th-May 6th and the summer retreat runs July 30th –August 5th.

5. Yoga & Writing: Creating Fearless Flow

Karen Kenny, writer and yogini, hosts two writing and yoga retreats. Her first is May 22nd-26th at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY and the other is August  9th-13th at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC. Prices range from  $820-$1,695 per person and  the cost includes room, meals and tuition. If you’re a fan of Marianne Williamson and A Course in Miracles, this retreat is for you.

 

Hidden Figures - A Must See

I know STEM is all the rage right now, but Hidden Figures, which was released this weekend, is proof positive of why the humanities and life story writing is vital. If we have a bunch of scientists without any humanity we’ll all be in trouble.  And if we don’t record our stories who will know about them? How will we inspire? The title alone indicates that this is a story of three leading African-American mathematicians and scientists at NASA who most of us didn’t know about. Imagine the young girls who will be galvanized into action after seeing the movie or reading the book. Those who may have been thinking it’s uncool to be smart or who thought careers in engineering, math and the sciences are unattainable just got a little more incentive.

Like the book, the movie places the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement on the periphery. However, the director, Theodore Melfi, magnifies basic needs that were going unmet and were considered privileges at the time. Katherine Johnson, played by Taraji P. Hensen, has to stop work and run a mile and a half each way just to relieve herself because there are no “colored” bathrooms in her building. The right to have a facility to pee at your place of employment, the right to go into the library to get a book for your children, and the right to take a night class to better your education are all situations the women in Hidden Figures face on a daily basis just to do their jobs. And as many of these things have changed, Melfi also reminds us that some remain the same. In the very opening scene, the police approach all three women after their car breaks down on the way to work. We get the sense that they are in a potentially dangerous situation because they are black and stuck on the side of the road. The audacity.

The bulk of the movie, however, focuses on the work of the women; not on their love interests, not on their children, nor on societal pressures, but on their dedication to their passions and convictions, even in the face of institutionalized racism.  It’s inspiring to say the least. It’s a film that makes you feel as though any dream you want to attain is possible and it highlights the fact that our most basic human right is to pursue our dreams. Hidden Figures also emphasizes that even when we think we are moving forward in the sciences in an “objective” manner, we may need to check our biases. Humanity and the sciences must go hand-in-hand if we are to continue forward movements in compassion, consideration, and understanding. Hidden Figures delivers on those great virtues and calls attention to the all-important power of telling our stories.

5 Tips To Make This Year The Year You Write Your Story

1. Unplug

How many times a day do you check your email or social media? A good way to increase productivity is to spend less time scrolling and more time focusing on your writing goals and commitment to yourself. Set a limit on email and social media and stick to it. For example, you could dedicate time to respond to email at 11am and 4pm instead of checking and responding constantly to the demands of others throughout the day. Make yourself the priority and stop making the priorities of others your priority. Limit social media time the same way. If you have a serious addiction to social media check it at 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm for five minutes at a time. This way you limit your total time to 15-20 minutes without feeling like you missed anything.  Use your spare time to write.

2. Make time to make the magic happen

Make the commitment to yourself that this is your year to get it done. If 500 words a day doesn’t motivate you or seems too daunting, give yourself 15 minutes a day. You have 15 minutes everyday to write. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed or pressured by the commitment. If you go over 15 minutes, fantastic! If not, you’ve kept your commitment to yourself and you'll feel satisfaction in moving a bit closer to your goal.

3. Research

Let’s face it, sometimes we just don’t feel like writing. We stare at the page or worse we avoid the page by doing the dishes, running errands, or making a sandwich. If you’re feeling like you don’t want to physically write then why not do some research to help inform your writing? The research that you do will move you toward your writing goals and more than likely you’ll find inspiration to write. If you research or read and take notes on how to use this information in your writing you can include that in your 15 minute writing time.

4. Keep a writing journal

Keep a journal so that you write down how many words or how much time you spent writing each day.  If your goal is to write 15 minutes a day on one project, then write that time down in your journal and what you wrote about. Also write about what you need to do the next day. This way, you can follow your progress and when you look back at what you did the previous day, you’ll be inspired to continue.

5. Get support

Join a writers group, go on a writing retreat, or hire a coach so that you have someone to hold you accountable and motivate you when you’re feeling uninspired. Don’t write in a bubble. Get feedback to help you develop your ideas further. If you would like help from me email info@womenwritingwellness.com to schedule a free consultation.

Interview with Author and The Family Strategist™ Charlotte Avery

If you are not following the hilariously funny Charlotte Avery you are really missing out. I was first introduced to her via social media when she posted a hysterical video of herself sneaking into her clothes closet just to eat strawberry shortcake ice cream away from the eyes of her seven (yes, seven) children. Humor aside, this successful mompreneuer is the author of No One Ever Told Me: Witty, Practical and Spiritual Truths About Motherhood and her latest, 40-Day Tone of Voice Tone Down: Transform Your Relationships One Octave at a Time

I recently caught up with Charlotte to ask her my top 10 need-to-know questions about her writing practices and here's what she had to say:

1) What inspired your latest book?

My latest book was inspired by me confessing on social media that I was a yeller. Once I confessed, I told my Facebook “friends” that I was going to challenge myself not to yell at my husband and children for 40 days. No sooner than I hit the “post” button, people were messaging me wanting to do the challenge with me. It was very unexpected. I confessed to help myself not knowing that I would be helping other people. My one-woman journey turned into over 150 people joining me on an expedition to change their lives and transform their relationships. These people recognized that they had a problem. They confessed that they were killing people with their mouths through yelling, sarcasm, patronizing tones, inappropriate body language and other forms of negative communication. I took over 150 people that I knew and did not know through a 40 Day transformation that saved marriages, parent/child relationships, jobs, and more. It was amazing. If over 150 people could be helped by this transformation, how many more people’s lives and relationships be changed if I wrote about it?

2) What are common traps for aspiring women writers?

Some of the traps that I think prevent women from writing are:
1.     We often think that we don’t have a story that someone cares about, will want to read, or will buy.
2.     We think that writing is a very hard and daunting task. To me it’s like having a conversation with a girlfriend just on paper.
3.     We think that publishing is hard. Because of technology the ability to publish has gotten easier and faster. You can self-publish or you can find a publisher. Both of my books are self-published through my company Mythikos Mommy, LLC.
4.     We think we don’t have time to write. If you want to write, you will find the time. We do want we want to do and what we are passionate about. If I, a mom of seven, can find time to write a book anyone can. (LOL)
5.     I think that some people fear or they are uncomfortable writing their story because who or what it can affect. I think that is why some people wait for people to die before they write and publish their story. My question is, what if they don’t die? Should you die with your story burning inside of you? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! Your story has power and you should tell it.
6.     We are intimidated by the process as a whole.

3) What is your writing kryptonite?

I don’t struggle with knowing what to write. I struggle with knowing the best time to tell or release my story. For example, I did not intend on the 40-Day Tone of Voice Tone Down to be the second book that I published. My intention was to publish one of the four other books that I have written. However, God stepped in without my permission and made me write this book. It was the craziest thing. I knew that I was going to tell my story of being a recovering yeller, I just didn’t know that I was going to do it right now. It was bigger than I am. I just didn’t know how big.

4) Do you want each book to stand on its own or are you building a body of work with connections between each one?

I do want each book that I write to stand on its own. However, right now the books that I have published have been about my life and relationships.

5) If you could tell your younger writing self one thing what would it be?

I would tell my younger self that it is okay to speak your truth. I would tell my younger self that no matter what other people think of you or want from you, you are amazing and you don’t need validation from anyone. I would tell her that everything that she has been through will be used to one day touch the hearts of thousands maybe even millions of people. I would tell her that she doesn’t have to be like anyone else and she doesn’t have to write like anyone else. She will be able to be herself, tell her story, and people will love her for who she is. I know that is more than one thing but that is what I would tell her.

6) How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

My first book, No One Ever Told Me… Witty, Practical, and Spiritual Truths about Motherhood was not your typical book. It was not a chapter book. It was not a children’s book. It was a book that had one sentence on each page that dealt with the good, bad, ugly, funny, and spiritual truths about motherhood. It was the first time that I put my unadulterated thoughts on paper for them to be published, purchased, and go into people’s homes. It showed me that I could write how and what I wanted to write and people would love it and love me. People didn’t want a typical book, they wanted and related to my truth which was also their truth.

7) As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I would choose for it to be kind of like my social media profile picture but with messier hair and a pair of Wonder Woman converse on my feet.

8) Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

For me, writing is very spiritual and therapeutic. It is spiritual in the sense that I am able to tap into the deepest and sometimes not so deep parts of myself and put it to paper. It is like God’s way of giving me an avenue where I can download everything that has been stuffed so that I am not a volcano waiting to explode or implode if you know what I mean. It’s where I can sit in silence and write the divine revelations given to me by Him.
It is therapeutic in the sense that I can regurgitate all of my hopes, dreams, hurts, and joys on paper. It is my place of release. It is where I can go to share my secrets and decide which ones I will share now, later, or not at all.

9) What is your writing schedule like?

HAHAHA!!! People ask me that a lot. The truth is, I don’t really have a set writing schedule. As you know, I am a wife of one, mom of seven, the owner of no pets. LOL. I am also an entrepreneur, The Family Strategist™, with a Ph.D. in motherhood who is building Being Charlotte Avery into a strong company. Just being a wife and busy mom of seven children under the age of 12 makes it hard to have any kind of set writing schedule. When I am writing a new book, it’s like a supernatural window of time that I would not normally have opens up for me to write. That is really the only way I can explain it. I am super busy but out of nowhere, I get these incredible blocks of time to write that I would not normally have. I find myself writing in the carpool line waiting to pick up my children. I will write while waiting to pick up someone from an activity. For the most part, I write at night, in the dark, while my husband and children are sleeping, snoring, and talking in their sleep. I wrote my first book in three days. I wrote the first draft of my second book in less than two weeks. There was no rhyme or reason. I just got a journal and my computer and wrote until I was done.

10) How does your family support you in your writing or writing schedule?

My family is very supportive in what I write and when I write. How could they not be? When I am writing, it is not taking anything from them. As I stated earlier, I do most of my writing at night in the dark. Therefore, the only one losing sleep is me. My writing does not take away from my children’s activities and oh so busy lives (LOL) nor does it take time away from the time I invest in my marriage. The only time they feel the impact is when I leave to do a book event that takes me away from them. However, our support system makes it easy for me to leave knowing that all things are well when I am gone and they are well when I get home.

You can follow Being Charlotte Avery on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/beingcharlotteavery/