half way there [ramble]

And just like that, we are halfway into the year.

Have you ever had it happen where you set out with so many good intentions for a new year, and then somehow all your good intentions get overwhelming and you don’t follow through?

If you answered no, I would venture to say you’re either lying or a magical unicorn. Or both.

It’s hard to remember where I’m at in life sometimes. Not that I actually forget who I am or what my day-to-day life consists of. It’s moreso that I have these bursts of I’m going to make this happen this time, and then I quickly dwindle back into reality.

I don’t mean this to say that I don’t stick with things, either, because I do. I think what I mean to say is that there are always so many things that I want to do, sometimes I have a hard time realizing, remembering, and accepting that I can’t do them all at the exact same time.

I didn’t mean to drop a book on y’all and disappear. To my credit, I didn’t even get blog posts on here about the book. Social media and my newsletter took center stage. But I still did it, to a degree.

Writing is hard.

I don’t mean to state the obvious, but it is.

I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. I used to make up poetry books and carry around notebooks and journals and just write. It didn’t matter what I wrote, really. Even if I was rewriting a story that someone had just told me from a book they read, I was still practicing bringing characters and settings to life.

There have been seasons of my life where writing was much easier. For example, before I had kids. For another example, before I had more than one kid. As our family grew, my writing time became more precious and sparse. Because we knew we wanted our family to continue to grow, it just continued on that way. But this past year, when I came to the acceptance that (at least for now) we are at a pause or stopping point in growing– I wanted to jump into my writing life again with both feet.

Along came What Did You Do With Maile?

This picture book was one I wrote around six years ago and when I saw some artwork by the wonderful Timna, all I wanted to do was have it come to life. And so it did. And I am so thankful for it and everyone who has supported it and continues to support it.

But it isn’t enough.

This one book, one project, isn’t enough. I have realized that there is a fire burning in my soul again that has really always been there. Sometimes it has been roaring, and other times it’s just been hot coals or even ashes… but it’s been there. More than anything right now, I’m trying to let it breathe so it can burn.

However, as this ramble continues on, I’m trying to recognize all I have going right now that I cannot stop.

I homeschool my four kids. (Well, three out of four but since the fourth is still home and requires plenty of attention, we’ll say four.) I’m going to start teaching four classes at the end of August to other homeschooled kids. (Animals of The World, Humanities, and two different Literature classes for kids ranging from five to eleven.) I run an Etsy shop, which granted I take breaks from whenever needed because it doesn’t have to exist. And, ya know, I do all the other things that some might roll their eyes at: cook, clean, craft, read, laundry, run errands, help friends and family… live.

I wrote my first novel before kids, but it really didn’t reach its full potential until my oldest was around two. I wrote my second novel when I was pregnant with my second child and it was the first one that felt so effortless as it spilled out.

… but since those two, no others have truly been finished. I’m not sure if it was because I had more kids or life circumstances or brain function or all of the above.

So here I am writing a post that doesn’t have much of a point and is more of a brain dump as the rest of my family sleeps because my fingers were just itching to W R I T E.

Half way through the year and I didn’t keep up my end of the deal. I haven’t blogged like I wanted to. I haven’t read as much as I wanted to. I haven’t moved forward with any writing as much as I wanted to.

But there is still time.

I think that’s always something to remember. Whether you’re fifteen or thirty-three or sixty-two– there is still time. What we need to remember is not to waste it. Take the time. Spend the time. We all have time and we choose how to use it. Use it wisely. It’s a gift. I’m going to start contradicting myself again.

Life is chaotic. I hope I can find a way to tame some of the chaos and discipline myself again to write…really write. It has been far too long.

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Mine went all too quickly, as it usually does. I’m not sure I’ll recover until February… maybe. I need a vacation after our break. Do you ever feel that way?

With New Years always come new goals. I’ve often written down my word of the year, or goals for each corner of my life. But more and more I find that these things tend to offer pressure over perseverance. It wasn’t always this way, but the older I get… the more it feels like lists and goals are just things that scream “You didn’t finish me!”

All the same, I decided to take a moment and think of my goals. I tried to make them simple, and tried to make them things that I really, deeply want to do and accomplish this year. Not all of them are writing or reading related, so I’ll just list the smaller handful here.

2022 Author & Reading Goals

  • Read 15-30 Books
  • Work on one of my books that has been set aside for far too long.
  • Promote What Did You Do With Maile? to the best of my abilities.
  • Get at least three bookstores to carry copies of What Did You Do With Maile? in shop.
  • Query agents with one project consistently.
  • Blog, Newsletter, IG at least twice a month.

I read somewhere that someone said if you don’t set big goals, you sell yourself short. Well, maybe I’m up for selling myself short in 2022, because it is all about GRACE.

With all of these things, I have many goals as a mother, wife, and individual. I feel like the new year has this way of rolling out all these things we want so badly to do, only to remind us that things take TIME. Not just a year. Time.

I have a journal that I started in 2019. I was going through a hard time: miscarriage, my husband left his job, we were moving with no idea where we would end up, our house wasn’t selling… it was a mess, y’all. But I wrote some things down. Some big goals to me at the time. They weren’t just for the year, but YEARS to come. I still look at them, and I’m so thankful I wrote them down. I’m going to share them here.

Big Goals & Dreams

  • Baby 2020 (my daughter was born July 2020- this was such a big one after my miscarriage)
  • In shape 2022 (I don’t just mean to be in shape because the world says so, but to take care of myself/health, and it’s at the forefront of this year for me)
  • Business 2025 (I have a small Etsy shop right now that you can check out, and also have my new little publisher for my own works that you can check out as well.)
  • Published Book 2027 (originally, this was meant for traditional publishing, and I’m still thinking of pursuing that for my novels.)
  • New Zealand 2032 (This is the place my husband and I want to go the most, and it would be for our 25th wedding anniversary.)

These are the big ones. And I don’t intend to sell myself short, but keep the long-term in mind.

I hope your 2022 is full of blessings, rest, and grace in all areas of your life! Thanks for sticking around.

Did you miss me?

The holidays have been pressing in and I lost my footing with the blog! Have you missed me?

Over the past few weeks I’ve launched my Kickstarter, joined a Mom’s writing group, and done all the holiday-ish things.

This time of year, it is so easy to get lost in the madness. While I try so hard to keep up my Instagram, I have to admit that I’ve been trying even harder to just focus on my kids. Sometimes, giving in to the distractions (social media, projects, parties) is easier than taking part in the traditions that are so important to the little, but might sometimes feel like “old news” to the adults.

I know. What a terrible attitude to have, right?

Maybe it has been the pandemic continuing on that has made the holidays this year feel a little down to me. Or, even, it’s the return to some normalcy that makes me miss my immediate family of six hunkering down to do things and enjoy this season together without the outside world and demands crawling in. I’m not sure. All I know is, I have been tired. And when I’m tired, the “extras” are the things I have to set aside.

But here I am, writing and rambling!

I recently finished A Boy Called Christmas with my 4 & 6 year-olds and we started The Girl Who Saved Christmas (both by Matt Haig). We absolutely love these holiday read-alouds. If you need something that’s quick and fun and magical- pick these up now.

I have been making my way through Crooked Kingdom, the second book in Six of Crows and not at all holiday-esque, but I question why it had taken me this long to read them! the twists and turns have me feeling all the emotions and I can’t get enough of the characters.

Picture book wise, we have been reading all our holiday favorites on repeat. From The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to Grumpy Monkey Oh, No! Christmas, there are too many good ones to count! If you follow me on Instagram, you can find plenty of suggestions there!

Thank you so much for all the renewed support as I brought my writing site and goals and dreams back to life. My Kickstarter for What Did You Do With Maile? is officially funded!! It goes until December 19th, just a mere four days away, and not to get greedy- but you can still give if you haven’t been able to! I know it’s so hard at the holidays, and I’m so thankful for all who have donated and shared. And I can’t put into words how excited I am that it is 100% funded!!

Kickstarter for WDYDWM

I am so excited to share that my Kickstarter for What Did You Do With Maile? is live!

This is where I humbly ask you to donate whatever you can to this campaign. But you do not come out empty handed! There are book rewards and rewards for those of you that might not be interested in a picture book. If you would please check it out: this is the link. There is a 15% off signed paperback or hardcover special that ends tonight, also!

Why run a Kickstarter?

I went back and forth. I funded the illustrations and the publishing fees myself already, but as I dove into the details I found that it would be financially prudent to keep a bulk amount of printed copies on hand to sell myself. I am so excited to be on Ingram so my book can be found on B&N, Target, and other places. The profit margins are not high with these, however, and therefore keeping books on hand raises my profits.

Here are a few more breakdowns:

5% of the raised funds will be going towards “retail fees,” which ultimately stands for sellers fees on Amazon and upkeep of the SparkPub.org site where I plan to sell hardcover copies of the book.

15% of the raised funds will be going toward “Kickstarter Supplies,” which means the supplies needed for the ornaments, bookmarks, stickers, and bracelets that anyone chooses as a reward.

80% of the raised funds will be going toward “Printing & Distribution.” This is the BIG ONE and ULTIMATE GOAL. The reason for the Kickstarter! 80% of the funds goes towards printing & distributing copies of “What Did You Do With Maile?” This means paying for all the beautiful copies and shipping those copies to myself and to all the other wonderful people who want to support this book!

The 15% off a signed paperback and/or hardcover early bird special is still good through the end of today! Don’t miss it! Any contribution is so helpful. Even if you don’t want the book but want to help, there are rewards for that! I would repeat myself and humbly ask for any contributions. They mean so, so much.

Cover Reveal

I recently shared about my upcoming project, What Did You Do With Maile?

Today, I’m going to share with you the wonderful cover! This book is so near and dear to my heart, and I’m so thrilled with how it has completely come together.

Just to review, here’s the description:

Maile is a little girl with a big imagination. While moving from playtime to bedtime, Maile feels a lot of things: thirsty, bored, tired, but in the end she’s perfectly Maile. With a twist of words, this imaginative book brings to life the wild world of a little girl who loves to play pretend.

Isn’t it just beautiful? I am seriously over-the-moon.

I always envisioned a “simple” cover for this book. How the story revolves around Maile, her imagination, and a play on words that my parents always used with my sisters and me when we were younger… it deserved for the cover to be “simple” but grab attention. And I think this does just that.

Want more information? Check out my Books page and don’t forget to sign up for my Newsletter to be the first to know!

In Memoriam

What started me truly pursuing my writing had nothing to do with picture books or poems I tried to self publish when I was thirteen (that’s a story for another day). It was a friend, and a part of her story that ended up defining her.

When I was fifteen, my best friend went missing. It is this part of her story that defines so much of my high school days. I try to steer away from that, as I even did then, and think of the good memories instead of the bad. But, really, when I look back- this was it. This is what changed me so much.

When she went missing, writing was therapeutic. I wrote her daily letters that were more like journal entries. And though I told everyone I was convinced she wasn’t coming back (ray of positivity that I was), I wrote those letters in hopes that I would be able to give them to her.

Flash forward two and a half years later, I was barely a freshman in college when a friend called to let me know that her remains had been found. He had seen it on the news. This moment would then define the rest of my life, because I made decisions based on this news that would change everything.

We’ll focus on writing.

Just with writing, once this news came forth and more events unfolded to truly remember and mourn this friend- I started chasing the story. I interviewed people who knew her, I wrote accounts of what I remembered… I continued the story. First for therapy, and then I realized I wanted to share it.

But I couldn’t just share her story and my story in black and white, I had to change it.

Over the next eight years, I wrote and edited and molded my first novel MISSING. It’s one I still hope to share with the world some day.

Today would have been my friend’s 33rd birthday. And although I don’t know if our friendship would have survived all the twists and turns of life had she lived, I do know my life is very much defined and owed to her.

Please take a moment of silence to honor and remember Pamela Mikels Waldher. She was an incredible soul, and she deserved more.

Introducing Maile

Hello ladies and gents! Thanks for checking in.

This week I shared some exciting news in my Newsletter. If you know, you know. If not, you should totally sign up! It’s nice and easy.

Today I would like to introduce you to Maile, the main character in my forthcoming picture book.

Maile is actually my niece in real life and runs her business Oh My, Maile (which you should check out).

But today, it’s all about Maile in her book form.

Maile is the star of my upcoming book, What Did You Do With Maile? and I am just so excited for you to see her for the first time. The illustrator I worked with captured the essence of my book and characters so perfectly off of very little direction. I can’t gosh enough.

This book was inspired by life as a mom/aunt and something my parents used to say that I now say to my own kids. I can’t wait to share more as we get closer and closer to publication/release day!

Cover Reveal!

I am so excited to be part of the team to introduce you to When Your Dragon Is Too Big for a Bath: An Adventure in Prayer by C E White!

Wilfred is a very fun dragon, but he doesn’t like baths. As he gets bigger and bigger and BIGGER, this becomes a problem. Nobody can make him take one! Mom and Dad tell Wilfred’s little boy that when things get too big for them, they pray! This book is a fun adventure in prayer that shows how God doesn’t always answer prayers the way we think he will.

The pre-order Kickstarter campaign will be running from Oct 6-Oct 27! Click here for more info!

This book looks positively adorable, with illustrations that will grab any child’s attention! Preorder yours today. I know the saying is “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”… but if we were going to, this one looks like a winner!

Choosing the “Write” Publishing Path

When I started writing, I had dreams of walking into bookstores and seeing my books on shelves.

Let’s be real, what author doesn’t?

I imagined being picked up by a big publisher and making loads of money. Or, at least some money.

Again, let’s be real- what author doesn’t?

In 2015 I signed with my first agent. In 2017, I left my first agent.

The agent didn’t do anything wrong, per say. I think we were both at busy times in life and we weren’t in sync as a team.

It happens.

I don’t regret that chapter of my writing journey. I have learned from it.

Four years later, I am re-entering the writing world with a new perspective. It’s not that I still don’t dream of seeing my books on shelves or don’t dream of making money doing what I love.

It’s that I’m not so cynical about potentially doing it a different way.

I think I’ve shared before my original thoughts on self-publishing. There are those who do it very successfully, and those who I think rush it without editing or investing more into it. But if I’m honest, I’ve seen it mostly as the latter. I’ve seen it as authors who don’t have the dedication to go the traditional route.

Let me say this right now: I was wrong.

I never thought I would self publish. Maybe if there was a project my agent couldn’t sell or didn’t adore and I felt it needed to get out into the world. But I never thought I would “cut corners” and self publish because I was tired of chasing agents and publishers.

I thought self-publishing was the easy route, and I was determined to take the solid, though perceivably very difficult, traditional path.

But with age comes perspective, and the only thing constant is change, and here I am to say:

I’m self publishing one of my books.

Also, when I now think that I thought self-publishing was easy, let me say: I was wrong.

It might not be the right path for everyone, and even just a year ago I probably would have laughed if you suggested I was going to do this… but it is the RIGHT path for me at the moment.

And, who knows- this could be the start of something big!

Want to be the first to know all the things? Sign up for my Newsletter! It is where the first details of my new book will be shared, plus things (launch team opportunities, giveaways, behind-the-scenes stuff) you’ll never find on the blog or my other social media platforms.

Writing for Joy

Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a published author. Three clear memories come to my mind of defining moments.

As a courtesy, I will just share one for now.

When I was in fifth grade, we were studying explorers. We had the option for a project to either do a straight report on one of the explorers, or to create a sea monster (with some criteria) and write a short story that involved one of the explorers.

I chose the latter, and wrote and illustrated my very first picture book about Sir Francis Drake discovering a sea monster.

While I do not still have this book in my possession (here is hoping my parents do), I remember my fifth grade history teacher coming into my Language Arts class, interrupting, to inform everyone that: “Emily, I knew you would write a good story, but you wrote an actual book! You have to read it aloud.”

I felt so much joy and pride as I got to read it to the class.

This was a big moment for me. Another affirmation that I could do this. Another affirmation that I would do this.

I was going to be a published author.

Writing has always been therapeutic. I can’t say it has always been joyful. There have been times where writing has been solely to help me process and move forward. But it was there for me as needed.

Somewhere along the lines as I got older, writing was work.

(I know this is a gray area, as writing to supply my full time income would be the dream, and that’s what full time authors do.)

I don’t mean that I couldn’t handle deadlines, or I didn’t enjoy writing anymore because of having an agent, or that editing was my enemy and I didn’t want to do it. I mean, somewhere along the way, the words started feeling forced and the love and passion that I always associated with writing… wasn’t there.

This can happen as writers. I’ve written about it before.

In my busy season of life, and the pressure that seemed to come with establishing myself as a writer, and the way my brain was turning from motherhood and all the things… writing became a chore. And when it came down to it and I had to find things to cut from my time so I might reinvest in others, for the first time my writing and all that came with it (blogging, social media, querying, free lancing) met the chopping block.

But not anymore.

After taking a solid break (it had been two years since I truly revisited an idea and four years since I left my agent), I can now say I am more motivated than I have felt in so long.

Doing things for writing doesn’t feel like a chore, but a joy.

I want to make spreadsheets for research and read about different types of publishing and explore ideas that have been taking up notes on my phone storage. I want to connect with other writers and those in the writing community and do the things.

Joy in the details for the writing life.

This is what I mean for chore verses joy.

And of course I’m not always going to want to do all the things. No one does. I mean, there are those of us who love the research. Those of us who hate editing. Those of us who want to write the book and lock it up, never to share it. Those of us who want to write for the masses.

It’s all different for each of us. And that’s beautiful.

And I think one thing about allowing yourself to take space from something is if it’s meant to be, you’re going to go back to it. And if it’s not, odds are you’ll find the next amazing thing you’re meant to do.