Saturday, March 31, 2007
After years of hard work, studying, and dedication, she produces an award-winning publication known as The Dabbling Mum®, three free e-zines, and has self-published several books. She also ghost writes for small businesses, writes columns for both print and online magazines, and has had a few articles included in book compilations.
Some consider her “Super Woman” but she says she’s just a mom with a dream who works very hard at making it all work together. Learn how she manages to juggle it all in our exclusive, one-on-one interview!
1. What came first, being a writer or a mother?
Definitely being a mother came first. When I was a little girl, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and I could think of nothing more than being a mother. I wanted to have a family of my own one day and raise beautiful, God-fearing, God-loving, happy, healthy, joy-filled children.
When I looked towards my future, I saw Christmases filled with my children and their families—grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, aunts, and uncles—all gathered around a warm fire, listening to Christmas gone by, laughing and giggling as we waited for Santa Clause to come with presents to unwrap. I saw family vacations in Hawaii and the Bahamas and Dude Ranches where we gathered once a year just to relish our time together.
Those are still dreams I hold dear and pray will one day come to pass.
Writing didn’t really take shape, as a career, until my daughter died several years ago. I journaled 24 hours a day through my grief. I journaled about anger and hurt and confusion. I journaled the whys and hows and the good memories. I journaled because I felt closer to by daughter and to God, because it somehow gave me hope and peace of mind. One day, my mother-in-law read my journal entries and told me I should get it published. So I sought publication. It went to the final stages of a big time publisher before it was turned down for being too narrow a market. That fueled the flames to consider writing for a living.
Then one day, after starting a career as a Mobile Notary, I wrote a book on the subject—a book because there wasn’t any of its kind and I wanted to share what I learned, I wanted my life to count for something and it was fun earning money doing something I had a natural talent to do—write.
Researching ways to market that book, I began writing free articles in exchange for advertising. The next thing I knew, I was querying newspapers, small magazines, and starting my own magazine. All it took was a spark—one person’s interest in my writing to tell me that all those years I had written “books” to friends meant there was a writer within trying to get out.
2. How do you manage your work day? Can you give us a ‘day in the life’ snapshot of a regular work day for you?
Over the years I’ve tried many different routines, but I think I’ve finally found one that works for me—though I do occasionally sway from it.
I wake up every morning to breakfast with the kids. In the past, they’d skip breakfast, but after my mom died, I began reading feverently about health and nutrition and taking care of our bodies and realized that even though they hated breakfast, it was too important to skip! So now I have a little breakfast schedule on the refrigerator—ever meal takes no more than 20 minutes to make. I get up early—no small feat since I am not a morning person—and we eat breakfast together. (A true blessing came when the other day my son was asked to say prayers and he said, “I’m thankful for breakfast in the morning.” I looked at him in bewilderment, and he said, “What? It’s true.” Out of the mouth of a 16 year old!)
After the kids leave for school, I check my email and make an entry in my personal blogs (http://shoutlife.com/dabblingmum and http://myspace.com/dabblingmum). Monday, Wednesay, and Friday I post a Q&A on DM Speaks (http://thedabblingmum.blogspot.com/). It’s a fun blog filled with expert advice from business owners, writers, authors, and literary agents. I give myself an hour for this.
Once that is done, I sit down to read my Bible, pray, and then exercise.
I usually start work around 11 am.
My work time varies: writing blog posts for clients, writing columns for online magazines, writing articles or web content for small businesses, or writing content for my latest e-book.
When I am done with work that has to get done I look for more work. I check out job boards like craigslist.com or search online for keywords like, “bloggers for hire” or “parenting articles wanted”. If something catches my eye and the pay is right, I put in a bid.
Sometimes, I write articles that I distribute for free in exchange for advertising space. This is explained in more detail in an article I wrote called, Marketing with Articles. (http://www.thedabblingmum.com/books/marketing_acampaign.htm)
And then there are the days I spend hunting down places to advertise—which is no small task, let me tell you! Advertising in print publications can be quite costly, yet advertising is vital to the success of my e-book business. Sometimes, I am lucky to find online newsletters that I can barter advertising with—they advertise in my e-zine in return I advertise in theirs.
When work is done—usually around 5 pm—I begin cooking dinner for the family. If the kids are in a playful mood, we’ll play a board game. If not, I will watch a television show with them. My daughter is a huge t.v. buff, so we enjoy watching a show and talking about it together. Other times, they just like to be left alone and I give them that space—that option to choose.
3. What is your greatest challenge as a writing mother and how do you overcome it?
My greatest challenge is stopping. As a sole proprietor, everything falls into my lap—advertising, public relations, publicity, marketing, web design, accounting, writing, correspondence, and so forth. There never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything I want to accomplish and it is easy to get burnt out.
Another challenge is getting started. There are days when I simply do not want to work—when I’d rather play hookie surfing the web, getting outside, visiting with people. And I have to force myself to work because if I don’t make time to work, my business will not succeed.
Let me give you an example.
Two years ago, I was making nearly $50,000 from home, before expenses, writing for others and selling my e-books. Last year we moved to a new state and to be quite honest, I was burnt out. I needed a break. I was overdue for a break. I had been going non-stop since I started the business and during those years we moved five times, to five different states, and my husband was a full time college student for three of those years. A lot of weight was on my shoulders and last year I just couldn’t do it anymore. My taxes came back from the tax lady this year. I made $31,000 from home, before expenses—and if I were to be quite honest, half of that was from e-book sales! I literally had to force myself to work every day of last year.
Thank you Alyice!
Friday, March 30, 2007
Or, you know, NOT.
I have been trying very hard to stick to some sort of schedule, but these little humans, the ones with the chubby faces and hungry mouths, they kind of want interaction and they refuse to be scheduled beyond the vagaries of "morning nap" and "afternoon nap".
My son is pretty good, although today when I was on the phone with my writing buddy, Tiff, he decided that it would be fun to attack me with nunchucks, yelling like a warrior and spitting spit. Not appropriate behaviour. So he followed it up with some climbing over the baby. Also inappropriate.
(She is learning to sit up and I have pillows propped all around her so if she topples then she won't crack her noggin on the laminate floor.)
I did manage to get my minimum 1000 words written though. It just took me most of the morning. Gee, I remember when I was working outside the home and I could write 1000 words in 15 minutes!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
It was a fabulous call for anyone considering a career in copywriting. The call was sponsored by The Copywriting Institute. Terri Levine interviewed Kelly Robbins and asked a ton of questions about what kind of skills you need, how to get started, who hires copywriters and what kind of writer makes a good copywriter!
You can access the audio here.
While we are at this copywriting thang... check out their downloadable handout: Six things every copywriter MUST know to make high profits in copywriting ---- fast.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
As I delved further into her web site, I found some amazing resources for writers.
I hope you enjoy:
Seeking Perfection: What it Is . . . and Isn't
Step 2: Living Mindfully
Step 3: Slowing Down
The Problem with Perfection
Monday, March 19, 2007
Maria Antonieta Gomez Alvarez is a 38-year-old woman who lives in Chiapas, at the bottom of Mexico. She has spent her life quietly struggling, as a mother and a midwife, a soldier and an advocate. Today she is a journalist.Go read more!
Tonita, as she is called, is a squatter in the outskirts of town. Hers is a world of pirated electricity, rebel armies, inequality and poverty. She is a single mother. She is small, with rosy cheeks, and she is very quiet. When I first met her, I worried that she was too shy to be a reporter.
But when this woman speaks, it is impossible not to listen. "There are so many things that the world should know," she says. "As long as no one knows, nothing will change."
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Since it was just me and the baby last night I was roaming the house free as I please. Now, that's not to say that I can't roam around, but if I walk past my son's room I'm liable to hear "Mommy, can I have a..." Since my husband wasn't here I could watch whatever I wanted, and could type well into the night without keeping him awake or listening to him snore. (My 'office' is in the bedroom)
I stayed up until about 12:30. The baby woke periodically but I just put her back to sleep and back into the crib. I laid her down for the last time around 12:30 and to my shock, she stayed in there until 8:00 am!
That's 7.5 hours of a bed to myself people!! This hasn't happened in at least two years!!
My son is home tonight, but I'm going to try put her in the crib again.
I do enjoy the co-sleeping. I co-slept with my son for 18 months. But this time I find that I'm sleeping less and it is affecting my moods. I'm just not as good of a mom when I'm sleep deprived and sore from lying in one spot on the queen sized bed. Usually it's right on the edge (can't put the baby on the edge) on my left side.
Here's to another night with the bed to myself!
(Guess I'll need to put away all that laundry that's piled on it right now)
Friday, March 16, 2007
Hubby is out of town. Son is over at his grandparent's house.
It's just me and the baby.
And the baby is sleeping much longer than she usually does. Not that I'm complaining. I just don't really know what to do with myself.
Write, you say? That would be a great idea. I am, however, watching The Guardian. I'm a sucker for any 'guy in uniform' movie!
It's a little formulaic, but it seems pretty good. Ashton Kutcher is kind of cute, and I like Kevin Costner. Not as much as I like Harrison Ford or Sean Connery mind you.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
During the seminar Ms. Orenstein laid out a basic formula for writing a 750-word op-ed piece (with the caution that “common sense trumps everything I say”): a lead connected to a news hook, a thesis, three points of evidence, conclusion. And don’t forget the “to be sure” paragraph in order to pre-empt your opponents' comeback, she instructed.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
A copywriter needed to attend a meeting with a client. The client knew she was a write at home mom and offered to let her bring her daughter (under 2) with her.
Several people said that it was fine. Afterall, the client said it was ok. Several people said it was not fine, as it was unprofessional. (Those were men, and I shared an immediate eye-roll with the copywriter... these were not writing fathers to the best of my knowledge.)
However, after I stopped rolling my eyes (and before the wind changed and they stayed that way), I realized that my first instinct was that it was inappropriate and unprofessional. I know, you're thinking, aren't you a writing mother?
Yes, I am.
I started thinking about why I felt it was inappropriate. I am generally either writing or parenting. I'm not one who can do both jobs concurrently and do well. I do a lot of writing during naps, after bed time, when the kids are distracted. Perhaps my mind can only run on one track, but I have a hard time juggling the two.
Being a writing mother is about doing what works for you. Writing, mothering, getting by. Leaving the dishes in the sink or cleaning the kitchen before you write. Writing with baby nursing (which I've done) or writing at nap time (which I do now).
Perhaps for this writer and her client, it works. Perhaps this mother CAN be present enough to be professional while at the meeting. I could not.
Professionalism is many things. This is what it is to me:
Being present in mind, body and spirit with a client. Listening with attentiveness. Keeping eye contact and demonstrating good listening skills. Treating everyone around me (including peers) with respect. Being responsible for my actions, with my advice and for my client's time.
I could not look my client in the eye and say that I was doing a great job if I were constantly distracted by my child(ren). He does not need to know that I completed his project by writing until midnight and doing interviews during nap times.
Perhaps, I am not open to being that open with my clients. My children are my private life. I'm a scattered writer, my office is not clean. Perhaps I'm just not comfortable with a client seeing me in my true creative state.
Perhaps I'd rather put on my fancy clothes with my grown-up shoes and meet the client while at my best. While I look like I have everything under control.
Because I can assure you, that's not what it looks like at the home office!
He gets ten nights of sleep. He gets ten breakfasts, ten lunches and ten suppers where he can actually stay seated for the entire meal.
Not to mention the flight. I love flying. I love the airport. The sense of leaving something behind with the hope of something new. I love it. Growing up at the airport I’ve always had a love of flying. I thought briefly of being a pilot – until I expressed that to my father and he said I’d make a better stewardess. Thanks, Dad.
The roads were horrible on the way back, so I didn’t have much time to stew on Major Man’s fortune and my coming ten days of singlemotherhood. I should not be such a baby. I was a single mother for a while, afterall.
I arrived early at my son’s school and was afforded twenty minutes of quiet with a sleeping baby in the truck and my new AlphaSmart Neo in my bag. This is where I typed this post.
I have a pretty good life. Even with our hardships. Even living with my mother and her husband until June. Even with the financial challenges of living in one of the most expensive cities in Canada.
I am warm at night. I have love. I have friendship. I have health.
Speaking of health. I heard on the radio this morning that it is possible for Albertans to opt out of Alberta Health Care. Now, for my American friends I’ll give you a little explanation.
I pay about $3000 per year to Alberta Health. The Health Care up here is NOT free, despite what your politicians may tell you. There’s a thing called the Canada Health Act that basically states it is illegal to charge someone money for something that is provided for free to all Canadians. There shall be no queue jumping here. Never mind the fact that you could die while waiting in line, you shall not pay to get ahead.
It seems, though, that if I choose, I can opt out of paying that $3000 and instead pay for all my health usage when I use it.
At first I was ecstatic. Then I realized that I was a bit of a chicken. What if I need something expensive? Or what if my kids need something expensive? Only 255 Albertans have opted out. I wonder if they are so rich that they don’t have these same worries.
Suddenly I feel a little bit more ok with paying that $3000. Even if all it gives me is a place to stand in line.
More random thoughts from inside the Hemi.
I need to phone the school and tell them to fix their Canadian flag. It’s a disaster. The side attached to the rope is all gathered up, so it makes the flag all pinched and it hangs limply, its outside top corner flapping uselessly in the wind. It’s hardly a picture of freedom and democracy. Something I think Canada is supposed to stand for.
I remember, back when I was in school, we used to take the flag down at the end of each day, and fly it back up in the morning. It was a matter of respect. Not just for the flag, but for us, the citizens of the country, stating to everyone that passed by that hey, we were here. We are inhabiting this place.
That’s why it was so important when an army won a particular city or fort, they’d fly their own flag.
We are here. We have conquered.
Our schools should do the same. They should fly that flag proudly. Despite the commonality of school, it is an accomplishment to show up each day and learn. The majority of children on this planet do not get to go to school every day. The majority of children are not free to learn. We should celebrate our freedom.
Monday, March 12, 2007
He'll be playing quietly and suddenly say "Hey! Favourite starts with F!" Or "Hey! Brain and train - they rhyme!"
It's the perfect time to foster a love of words. They are exciting to him, he is energized by figuring things out on his own. I'd love to foster a love of writing as well. He doesn't seem as predisposed to write. When he does write, he wants to write HIS way. It's hard for such a controller like me to let him write when it's not the 'proper' way. But I've been a mom long enough know to many enough mistakes trying to tell him HOW to do something. He reacts the same way as I would if someone were telling ME how to do something. We don't like that.
So I ignore it when he writes his name with a combination of capital and lowercase letters. It's no biggie. I write lowercase to him and he writes however he wants. I just want him to enjoy the writing and the reading on his own terms.
We went skating for the first time yesterday and it was a blast. I feel like I have learned so much as a parent. In my early parenting years I wanted to help him learn to swim or play games, now I know I just need to be present and allow the learning to happen while having fun. He is also a controller. He wants to be in charge as much as I want to be in charge.
As you can imagine we came to loggerheads several times. But this time it was fun. I just praised every attempt and encouraged him every time he fell. We left wanting to go back. It was a success.
Today I sign him up for Gymnastics as well. Plus soccer this summer. Yikes. We're going to be busy!! I've decided not to volunteer as a coach this year. Last year was enough. I like the role of 'just a parent' much better!
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Think you’ve got the “write stuff”?
Every day we hear great stories from our Customers about saving. We especially love anecdotes about kids who are learning the basics of money management. Now, ING DIRECT wants YOU to help us inspire children by spinning your own savings tale. No matter what your age, here’s your chance to write a children’s picture book for four- to seven-year-olds that focuses on saving. If you're a grand-prize winner, you’ll win $1,000 and your story will get published! Click here for Guidelines and Official Rules.
Oh, and hey... this is my 100th post!
Saturday, March 10, 2007
It has been a long year and a half of having DH sitting around the house waiting for his Permanent Resident's card to arrive so he could work!
We had plenty of offers for him to "work under the table", but we chose to do everything the right way. We didn't want to get caught cheating and have him be kicked out. But still... almost a year and a half of waiting...
Plus, we foolishly had a kid in the middle of it all, so I'm on maternity leave. Severe reduction in pay!
But, we're almost debt-free.
Check out my Sales for Writers! There are some excellent deals to be had. No reserves!
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
A few things helped:
- I had a free half hour of coaching with online for some support and they came to my resuce with cyber-hugs and letters of support.
- I discussed this with my husband. He and I worked out a new schedule so that my mornings are less stressful. If my mornings are easier then I can start out on the right foot for the rest of the day!
Monday, March 05, 2007
And then there are days like these.
Crying baby. Financial worries. Unfulfillment. Pounding headaches. Family health issues.
What do you do to get past it?
(No. Really. I need suggestions!!)
Saturday, March 03, 2007
1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (J.R.R. Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (J.R.R. Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (J.R.R. Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J.K. Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (George Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
46. Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Scott Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolsoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Helen Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (John Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In the Skin of a Lion (Michael Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)