Saturday, December 26, 2015

Another illustration completed, woohooo

Here's another sneak peak of my upcoming book about twins! Yes, it's a picture of a picture...but it's also illustration #4, which is DONE! This image in particular was a lot of fun to work on and it's very special to me♥. Slowly, but surely, this book is coming along! 



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

That time a TV Producer contacted me...

I finally feel like I can talk about this now that it's all said and done, so let me tell you the story of how a TV producer randomly contacted me one day...

A couple months ago, on October 1st, I received a message through my Youtube channel that said:

"Hi Debbie! My name is ______ I am a producer with the Dr. Oz show. I watched your nurse song video and loved it! I would love to talk to you about a segment that I am working on. Can you please call me at your earliest convenience?" She then left me with her number.

HUH??

My first thought was that this was a scam. This was NOT real. So I googled her name and looked her up on twitter. Turns out she truly was a Dr. Oz producer who had previously worked on other major television productions. This was the real deal. Meanwhile, she also found me on twitter and sent me another message to contact her.

Ah!!!

So unsure of what was happening I called the number she had left me in the first message. And this is what she told me.

The Dr. Oz show was doing a "Nurse Search" competition where they were searching the nation for a nurse to join their team of core experts. Apparently, they had received thousands of video entry submissions from nurses all over the country and so far, they hadn't found what they were looking for yet. So, they took to Youtube to see if they could discover any interesting nurses there.

Well, she told me on her first search of "funny nurses", she came upon my youtube video of a song I wrote in college and performed with my roommate like 7 years ago, and checked out my Youtube channel with my other songs. She told me she thought I would be a great candidate for the nurse search competition and that she wanted me to submit a video singing a song on my guitar about why I would be a great candidate for one of the core experts on the show.

Ok. Wow. ...Well hey! Why the heck not!?  So, long story short, I ended up writing a whole new little jingle about being a nurse and emailed it to her.

A couple days later, I got another call telling me I was going to be on the show that coming Tuesday!  They were going to pay my way up to New York City and my hotel room in Manhattan. They told me they were probably going to have me sing a whole new song that I would come up with on my guitar - that I would sing on NATIONAL TELEVISION as one of the nurse search candidates. AH!! Wait, What?!

Ok, breathe. Juuuuust breathe. My thoughts were this: Terrified, excited, and honestly perplexed as to how I got myself into this situation! I didn't ask for this and to be perfectly honest, I  probably never would have applied to nurse search on my own. But because I was ASKED to do it, I felt like this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn't pass up! Why not just see what happens, and take things one step at a time? I said to myself.

So immediately I went to work on another song and came up with something for the show.

Well, spoiler alert! This is where the story gets pretty anti-climactic...

I got another call a few days before I was going to go in for the show. They apparently needed more time to prep for it.  I was told there wasn't enough turn around time from the last show.  So they said they would re-schedule me for a couple more weeks.

Well, sadly, that never happened! Of course I could never know exactly what went wrong, but in the end, other candidates and ultimately another nurse core expert was chosen. And that's the end of the story, haha.

 Now that it's all said and done, I have to say, I really am grateful for the experience, even with how it all turned out!  I learned and gained some good things, and like I said, it's not something I ever asked for or even wanted - it was just kind of an amazing opportunity that fell on my lap one day. Which is just crazy!



One thing I did find incredible that I wanted to pass on to you was that if you have your work out there in the universe, you just NEVER know who might see it.  So for all you who have a passion for your craft - if you are doing it anyway, you might as well get it out there!! Submit your writings to agents and publishers, Sell your artwork on Etsy or wherever you can, put your videos on Youtube (as long as they aren't embarrassing Ok (:), share your talents with others! Because who knows? You just might have a producer randomly contact you one day, and give you an opportunity you never would have had otherwise. :) 



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Last Month's Happy Moments

It's been a while, so I thought I'd give an update of some happy creative moments from the last month!:

Happy Moment #1: I participated in a craft fair a few weeks ago, and was thrilled to find out that one of my sells was to a teacher of young kids who hated wearing shoes and complained of having itching feet! Bam! So nice to know that Itchy Mitchie is LITERALLY applicable to kids out there who are reading it!  I say that because I didn't write the book specifically for kids with itchy feet at all. It's about something much bigger than that, which brings me to my...

Happy moment #2: The other day, I happened to talk to a parent of kids who bought my book. He is a pediatric doctor and told me the reason he loves Itchy Mitchie is because it's applicable to the children he treats. He talked about how many kids will get headaches or stomachaches from worrying too much or focusing too much on pain or something else, and that the best method of treatment is many times distraction and focusing elsewhere. Some of the best feed back I've ever gotten on my book! THIS is the message of  Itchy Mitchie. That problems - WHATEVER they may be (physical or mental)- can worsen when we focus on them. If we distract ourselves by focusing and engaging in other, positive, productive things, our problems can lessen and even disappear. I know this from many personal experiences, but hearing it validated by a pediatric physician was like, Yes!

Happy moment #3: One of my lifelong passions has always been music and writing songs. I've written a lot of songs over the years. Some just vocal, others on the piano, and most on my guitar. (One of my on-going, never-ending projects is getting all my songs recorded into decent versions so I can remember them!). I haven't sung any of my songs in a live performance since I did something in college called "guitars unplugged" oh...6 or 7 years ago! But this last weekend, I had the opportunity to sing one of my originals at my church's Christmas party. And I have to say that I'm really grateful for the opportunity! The song was "Cold Outside". I wrote it when I lived in a very cold place called....Rexburg, Idaho! Brrrr! To hear it, go HERE. To listen to just a few of the other songs I've written, you can look here.

Happy moment #4: Ok, so of course we have Itchy Mitchie on our book shelf, but I don't usually suggest it and always allow my boys to choose books they want to read on their own. I actually love that they are too young to know their Mom wrote one of their books. It's kind of an experiment for me to see how much they like it or are interested in it on their own. So of course to see them picking it out to read makes my heart happy! :)



Happy moment #5:This week I completed illustration #3 for my upcoming book, due to come out next Spring! I'm almost done with #4, and this project is moving right along!

 I'd say it's been a pretty good month in creating! Until next time!


P.S. If you haven't bought you're copy of Itchy Mitchie yet, it makes a great Christmas present for children of all ages! ;)

 


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Organizing a Community Author Event

Today I participated in a community author event along with several other wonderful and talented authors. Despite a little rain, I think it turned out to be a success and most important, a positive experience for everyone!

  

Are you an author who would like to organize an event in YOUR community?  

Well after going through the process, now I can tell you how!

1. Go  to a local bookshop and ask if they'd be interested in hosting a local author event. In my case, I went to a bookshop that was already selling my book, so they knew who I was, which helped I think.

2. If the bookshop agrees, ask them: "What dates would be good to hold the event?"  "How many other authors should I invite - is there a max?" "Will there be a fee to pay to you for hosting?"

3. Search out other authors. I did this by visiting the website of a recent book fair and looking up other self-published authors, and contacting them individually. Ask them to tell you a definitive yes or no by a certain date. Remember, the more authors you have, the more people are likely to come to the event.

4. Search among your contacts for people who would be willing to contribute their skills to make the event successful - something that would draw more people in. For us, it was our WONDERFUL artists. We had two amazing ladies who offered free face painting and free caricatures to kids who stopped by. This was SUCH a great way to draw more people in.

4. Once you know who all is coming, pick a date that works well with all the participants as well as the bookshop to hold the event.

5. Now that you know a date, design an eye-catching flyer (our artist, Marie did a wonderful job on ours).

6. Advertise the event! Have each author print out a set number of flyers (we did 100 each) and distribute them among friends, family, neighbors, and local businesses. Spread the word any way you can - facebook, craigslist, radio stations, word-of-mouth. The bookshop who hosted our event put it on their website and spread the word too, which was helpful.

7. On the day of the event, put up signs on busy streets around the bookshop with arrows pointing to the event.

Other helpful ideas DURING your author event:
  • Have a stack of business cards ready to hand out.
  • Be friendly to all the customers. BRING them to you by inviting them over. Don't be afraid to just hand them your book and start explaining what it's about (this is how I got almost all of my sales).
  • Having free stuff to give out to kids (like leftover Halloween candy) is a great way to get customers to your table.
  • Before the event, practice your book "pitch" - a short description of the book that will hopefully make people want to buy it. Mine went something like "This is my book that I wrote and illustrated. It's called Itchy Mitchie and it's about a little boy with itchy feet and how he tries to find a cure. The moral of the book is that positive thinking and engaging in good activities can help us overcome problems, such as itchy feet!"   (PS If I could do it all over again, I think I would have written down and  practiced my pitch a little more).
  • Bring cash with you for customers to make change with. Also, get that "Square" app that allows you to accept credit cards from your phone - I lost a sale from not having one!
  • Keep tally of how many books you sell (just in case you mix up the money you made with the change money you brought).
  •  If you were planning on the event to be outside, ALWAYS have a plan "B" for if it rains! (and a tarp handy).


How grateful I am for the wonderful authors, artists, supporters and community I am so lucky to be a part of! Today could not have been anywhere close to a success if it weren't for them!

And also, how grateful I am for sweet little moments like this...



...when I see a mother reading my book to her kids, I can't help but think to myself, "THAT right there, is my lifelong dream come true." It truly warms my heart!  :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Being a twin is pretty special


In light of the new children's book I'm working on, I put together a little video project for anyone out there who is blessed enough to be a twin! Watch it on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxsvT4ZCOOI

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Do YOU want to publish a book?

Ever since I became a published author, I've found out that so many other people around me - friends, family, neighbors, fellow church-goers, and coworkers- have had that same dream as me - a dream of publishing a book. Some of them have written an entire story out, others just have the ideas for a story. But all of them have that burning desire, that feeling I know all too well.

My WHOLE life I have felt that feeling. I have these piles of ideas, these stories - some just in my head, others on paper, that I want so badly to DO something with. It's a nagging feeling. It's an ache. It's a feeling of urgency, almost anxiety. Oh ya, and a little bit of hopelessness, from not being sure what the next step is.


Do YOU feel this way? 

 If you do, first of all, believe me when I say, I have been there! And I know first-hand that the ONLY thing that's keeping you from doing something with your ideas and stories is YOU. It's all up to your will, your determination, your desire, and willingness to motivate yourself. And it's not going to happen unless you invest some time into it, do a little bit of research, find the answers, and kick yourself in the tush to get going!

So here's the great news. I PROMISE that you, yes YOU - even if you are inexperienced, even if you don't feel like an "expert", even if you don't know how to proceed - you CAN accomplish your life-long dreams of publishing a book! And I'm going to tell you how:

Step 1:

DO RESEARCH. What are you trying to write? A novel? A children's book? A self-help book? Who is your target audience? Research how long it should be, what's appropriate, what publishers are looking for, and general guidelines.

Step 2:

FINISH YOUR BOOK. Write the whole thing. FORCE yourself to finish it. Try not to do other hobby projects until you get the dang thing done first- So many people have a dream of writing their book, but most just can't seem to finish it. FINISH it! Make time. Take your project into your own hands. Be proactive. Make a goal for yourself. Say "I'm going to finish this by the end of the year" and then set aside time to do it when you can.

Step 3:

Read your book and then re-read it. And then take a break and re-read it again. Edit it to make sure you are 100% satisfied with it. And then...

Step 4:

Give your book to people you trust to edit it. It's pretty intimidating and a little scary, but it's ESSENTIAL. Have as many people read it as you can. Tell them to be honest because you are trying to make it the best book you can. Take all their comments into consideration. If more than half are all saying the same thing, listen to them. Don't be lazy. Take the time to edit your story, so it's perfect (actually it probably will never feel "perfect", but as good as you feel it possibly can be).

Step 5:

Now that your project is done, you can go two routes for publishing.
  • You can try to go the traditional route - this is the route that every writer dreams of. This is getting picked up by a large publishing company who will sell and market your book. This is also where the odds are really working against you. It's extremely competitive and it will probably involve a lot of rejection, but it's not impossible! You will want  to get an agent first. So spend some time googling "how to query literary agents" (look at several different sites to get a good grasp on it). I like "Method 2 of 4: Publishing Your Book with the Help of a Literary Agent" on this WikiHow website: www.wikihow.com/Publish-a-Book. 
  •  If the traditional route isn't for you, you can instead go the "self-publishing" route, which is what I did. And PS. I have loved my experience with it! There are a lot of companies that can help you self-publish. Some will even do it for free and print the book on demand. I went with Createspace, because they do both those things. Also, after researching many other companies, Createspace seemed to allow the highest amounts of profits with each sell while allowing me to keep the book cost relatively low. I've been very happy with them. If you want to find out more, go to https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/ or call their customer service line and they can give you a run-down of their services.
Step 6: 

If you've gone the self-publishing route, it's time to market your book! There are infinite ways to do this! But I would say this: create a website, facebook page, and twitter account where you can promote yourself. Make business cards and keep them with you wherever you go. Get involved in the community - work with local book stores and libraries to organize events. And then google more ideas of how you can self-market. :)

Illustration Considerations: Now if you are just writing a book, that's one thing, but if you want your book to have illustrations, that's another thing. So here's what you need to know about it if you are going the self-publishing route:
  • If YOU plan to create the illustrations, then uploading the illustrations with the text to Createspace  can be tricky. The illustrations have to meet certain technical requirements as well as mesh with the words, and you have to be semi tech-savy to do this. I did NOT feel capable of this, which is why I hired a graphic designer to do it for me. So, there's one expense that you should be aware of. The cost for a graphic designer to format your book properly varies, but can be anywhere between 400 to 1000+ dollars depending on who you go to (Search among your friends/family for someone who could give you a deal or do it for free). A lot of other self-publishing companies will offer this service for a similar fee. 
  • If you want someone ELSE to do your illustrations, then it gets even more expensive, because now you have to hire an artist. The price for this also varies. Many self-publishing companies offer this service as well, but at a hefty cost. Like, in the thousands..Don't worry though, the dream can still come true! It might just be a very big investment. Which brings me to my next thought... 


Cost/Benefit Considerations: 

As you can see, it CAN be very expensive to publish a book, specifically a self-published book that contains illustrations. Also, no matter where/how you publish your book, there's not guarantee about how successful it will be. A lot of it depends on your marketing techniques and the amount of time/effort you put into it, how much audiences truly like your book, and then there's a lot of luck involved too - or who you know. 

My suggestion would be to weigh the cost/benefit ratio out in your mind. How much do you want your dream to come true? Enough to spend money on it that you very well may never make back? Do you think your book is good enough that you really COULD make the money back in sales? Does making a profit even matter to you? 

Obviously there's no right or wrong answers, it's just important to be realistic and think about what you want out of your published book: To be able to say you fulfilled your dream of being published? To make money? Something else? 


In Conclusion

I  truly hope that if you feel that burning desire to fulfill your dream of publishing a book like I did, you will do what it takes to make that dream a reality. It's all up to you and believe me, if I can do it, I KNOW you can too. So, keep working on it, don't give up, stay determined, keep pushing yourself, and go publish that book of yours!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Next Big Project...

Midst my piles of stories, songs, and ideas I've got stashed away, I've pulled out the next big project to work on and I'm super excited to share it with you!

It's a children's book I wrote for my boys just after they were born. I don't want to give out too many details about it just yet, but I'll give you a hint... It has to do with being a twin ;)

I've had the text critiqued, done some editing, sketched out all the illustrations, and now all I have to do is convert those sketches into hand-cut paper illustrations, and my next children's book will be ready to debut! Hooray!

My goal is to have it all done by the time my boys turn 2 1/2 (next April). And just to give you a little taste of what it will be like, here's the first page so far. (I say so far, because I may change a few things up before the final draft).

"There once was a husband and wife who dreamed of having children"...

Stay tuned for more coming soon! 





Saturday, September 12, 2015

Updates and Good News

Today has been another one of those great news days!

I just found out that all the Itchy Mitchie books I left at a local book shop have sold! That means that more people I don't know are picking out the book among the masses and buying them! I've also sold another copy through the distribution channel this month. Hooray!!

In other news, I'm setting up a local author day with a few other authors in my community coming up soon, so stay tuned. Yay for aspiring authors!!!


Monday, August 31, 2015

2nd Edition is Here!

This week, I'm happy to announce that the 2nd edition of Itchy Mitchie is here!!

After releasing the first edition almost 6 months ago, I have received a lot of feedback. Most has been very positive, which I'm super grateful for! And some has been constructive criticism, which I'm as equally grateful for! As a result, I went back to the story and thought long and hard about how to make it more concise, more condensed, more clear, and flow more smoothly. I edited and re-edited the story. I cut a lot of words out. I changed a few things up, and I didn't stop until I was 100% satisfied with it!

So I feel really good about this 2nd edition.  And like I said in a previous post, it's the same story, same illustrations, and same message as the first, so anyone who bought the first is not missing out on anything at all! It's just a little "refined".  :)

So if you haven't bought your copy of Itchy Mitchie yet, now's the time! It's a book made with lots of love, intended for kids around age 5-10 years old. It has a great moral that I hope will help kids with any kind of challenges in their lives. Check it out here!:  http://www.amazon.com/Itchy-Mitchie-Debbie-Day/dp/1508812462/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441067751&sr=8-1&keywords=itchy+mitchie

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Milestone!

I just recently I hit a milestone as a self-published author. You may not think it anything to be happy about, but I'm here celebrating! 

For the first time, someone bought my book through an expanded distribution channel online.

Now, what the heck does that mean? That means that some random person who I don't know was looking through books somewhere online, found mine, and bought it!
Why does this make me so happy? Well, because I haven't been advertising the book through the distribution channel to all my friends (because although the price is the same to the buyer, the profit return for me is a matter of cents). I've been advertising it through amazon and createspace. As a result, all the books I've sold have been from these channels. And chances are, most, if not all the books I've sold are to people I know. (Which, by the way, is AWESOME and I'm SUPER grateful for the support !!)


But then I sold one through the distribution channel. Do you seeing where I'm going here?  Out of the millions of children's books out there online, someone I don't know bought my book, just because they thought they'd like it! This means that my book is "getting out there", and going beyond my own little social circle, out into the world! I know, it may seem a little anti-climactic to be so excited about one little sale...but hopefully "one" will someday be..."more than one"!! :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

How to write a picture book using paper illustrations

Last week, I did a small presentation for the young women in my church about how to write a picture book, using paper illustrations, from start to finish. In preparation for this, I wrote up some instructions to pass out. I thought I'd share those instructions here with you!



HOW TO WRITE AND ILLUSTRATE A PICTURE BOOK 
(The “Debbie” way, using paper art)

You’ll need: Paper, a pencil, lots of different kinds of scrapbook paper, scissors, a light box, and a high quality ink pen. 

Don't know what a light box is? Here is an example of one: http://www.amazon.com/Artograph-LightTracer-Light-Box-10/dp/B000KNHRH6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1440005017&sr=8-2&keywords=light+tracing+box

Step 1:   Write a story. Picture books in general, should be less than 1,000 words.

Step 2: Have lots of people read it! Listen to all the feedback. Then go back to your story and edit it. Make sure it’s exactly the way you want it.

Step 3: Play around with your characters, doodle and draw up a general idea of what you want your pictures to look like. Look on google images for ideas and art concepts if you want. CREATE A STORY BOARD: Pair your pictures with the text. Break it up into pages. Don’t put too many words on one page.  

Side note: Why do you think that step 2 needs to happen before step 3? (so that you get the illustrations right the first time and don’t waste time illustrating something that may be edited out in your final version).

Step 4: Decide what characters or “props” in your picture you want to be consistent throughout your book. Any reoccurring characters should remain consistent so the reader doesn’t get confused.
Take those characters and props, and make a prototype in pencil. For characters, do several versions  according to what they’ll be doing in the story– side view, talking, running, bending over, etc. A light box can help to keep things in proportion and consistent.

Step 5: Draw each illustration in detail, the exact way you want it to be in the book.  Use your prototypes and light box as a resource throughout this process. We’ll call those finish pencil drawings your “original pencil picture”. Also, be sure to make your illustrations at least the size you want it to be in your book or bigger. One more tip in this step: Keep it simple! Remember everything will be converted into paper!

Step 6: Convert all your “original pencil pictures” into paper illustrations. This is done using scissors, glue, and the light box.
Sometimes, if the paper is light colored enough, you can trace elements of your “original pencil pictures” directly onto the scrapbook paper (just remember, always trace it on the BACK of the scrapbook paper and backwards of the way you want it to go in the book…make sense?), other times, if the scrapbook paper is very dark in color and you aren’t able to see the lines underneath it, you’ll have to trace the elements onto another white piece of paper, cut it out, and THEN either cut or trace it onto the scrapbook paper you want.
Some elements in your picture may not need to be traced, you can just eye them.
After cutting everything out, use your “original pencil picture” as a reference as you glue all the pieces together. 

Step 7: Fill in lines and tiny details with a high quality ink pen. 

Step 8: Scan your pictures as JPG's onto a flash drive, make sure you scan them in at at least 600 dpi. (DPI is the number of dots, or pixels, per inch that will be scanned in your picture - the higher the number, the higher the resolution.)  You can do this at your local Kinkos or Fed Ex.   

Step 9: You are ready to submit your book to agents, publishing companies, or self publish it through the several companies that offer that, including Createspace (which is what I used).





Thursday, August 6, 2015

2nd Edition Coming Soon..

About 5 months ago, I released Itchy Mitchie. It's been a great experience trying to sell and promote it so far. It's been a dream come true and absolutely warms my heart to hear that children are reading it in their families and enjoy the story.  I am grateful beyond words for the support I've received from so many wonderful people. I've gotten a lot of feedback, and even critique and suggestions of how it could be better, which I appreciate immensely! As a result, I've done a lot of editing, thinking, and more editing. After cutting about 300 words out of the story, and making some minor changes to the text to make it flow a little better, I'm happy to announce that I'm coming out with a second edition! It's the same story, same illustrations, and same message, (so for those who have the first edition, don't worry, you're not missing out on anything!!) It's just a bit more condensed, refined, and smoothe-flowing. I'm really excited, because I feel like this will be the final step in moving forward from Itchy Mitchie to other projects. I hope to release it some time in the next month. I'll keep you posted! :) Thanks so much for all the support out there!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Children's Book Inspiration

It's so funny how inspiration comes at different times. Today, it came as I took my two boys on a walk in the stroller.


There's a feeling of utmost joy, utmost sweetness, that is so precious, so big, so ...hard to explain! But just watching their chubby little faces look at the world, pointing at things, reaching their hands out to feel the bushes as we walk by, their "oooh"s as I point out "our" baby bunny that lives in the front yard, or the squirrels jittering up the trees, or the deer we happened upon rounding a corner next to a grove of trees. Their collecting of rocks as we walk through the grass, the way they laugh and play together going down the slide. It makes my heart feel so big and full, that sometimes I think it could honestly burst. And when that happens, I know I have to write something. I have to record that sweetness, that magic that I feel.


During their nap, I wrote a little children's story, attempting to capture some of that magic from our walk today. Here's just a couple snipits:


...
Flowers, bushes, blossoms, vines,


                Oak trees, Beech trees, Birch trees, Pines.


                                Stick your hand out, feel the leaves


                                                Brissely! Prickley! Ticklely! Sneeze!


Mommy gives us each a stick.


Swish! Swipe! Poke! Flick!


                                Mommy stops, we all get out.


Run! Skip! Giggle! Shout!


Collecting speckley, freckley rocks.


Dirty faces, muddy socks.


                Grass is wet, puddles deep.


                                Splitter! Splash! Stomp! Leap!


...


Mommy tells us Quick! Come here!


Hush now, look, the woods, a deer!


Gentle, graceful, tip toes taking.


Quietly leaving, branches breaking.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Another Story Finished! My own story...

I have been working on this project for the last several years. It is one hundred seventy Microsoft Word pages long. It is One hundred and fifteen thousand, nine hundred fifty six words long. It took referencing from my six or more journals that I kept from age 8 to present to complete. I can't even being to guess how many hours it took to write this story, but I'm sure it's in the hundreds. I'm so happy it's done!!! Completing this project is something I feel really passionate about and that I think everyone, writers or not, should do. And that is, writing our OWN story.


Once again, this is something I've wanted to complete my whole life, I just never had the motivation to get started. After all, writing your whole life story is a pretty enormous task. Sure, I could have just brushed over the years, highlighting only the important events and experiences, while losing a lot of the little details, but I wanted to do more than that. I wanted to record the memories of the first house I lived in - what it looked like, what I did on a daily basis, what it felt like to search for chicken eggs in the scratchy branches of the Juniper trees. I wanted to record what it felt like going into junior high and doing the scariest thing ever - auditioning for drama club with my memorized monologue from Anne of Green Gables, which I had practiced with my sister over and over again. I wanted to record the feelings I had leaving home and starting college, not ever dreaming in a million years I would end up in nursing school. I wanted to record my distinct impressions I had the moment I first saw my future husband, across the room at a bowling alley, wearing that fraying orange hat and looking like a hot shot. You know, that sort of thing.


Why do I feel it's important to record our history? Well, first of all, I'm naturally just kinda obsessed with capturing memories, remembering, and "passing on" experiences to the next generation. If there are lessons learned or miracles wrought or even just impressionable experiences, I feel that it's SO important to write them down, to remember them, and to include the details that will inevitably be forgotten over time. I'm not saying every detail should be written. But for the things that are WORTH remembering, you just never know how they could impact future generations.


How grateful I am that my Dad, grandparents, brother, and countless ancestors who all left their life histories behind for us remaining family members to read after they died. Many of their words have been real gems and blessings in my life. Family history is important to me. I appreciate knowing who my ancestors are through what they've written and left behind. I hope what I've written can be of value to my posterity some day. Plus, it sure is fun for me to look back and remember, because give me about 10 years from now, and I guarantee I'll have forgotten a good percentage of those little details.


Here's just a small excerpt from my story:
"Dad pointed to the mountains in the distance, beyond the tree line, and told me to look right where they met and formed a “V”. He told me it was coming soon and so I patiently waited, for something magical to happen. Pretty soon, something magical did happen between those dark blue mountains far, far away. Just like Dad said it would, in between where the mountains met, a bright light suddenly appeared. It was just like a sunrise, except the light was white and the sky was black. The light started to grow bigger and bigger, until a silvery, white, full moon appeared and began to rise above those mountains and into the stars. It was beautiful to watch – the brightest full moon you ever saw! I can’t explain the feeling of watching the moon rise with my Dad in the middle of the night, amidst miles of dark trees. I felt safe with him by my side, but there were also butterflies fluttering in my chest. There was just something about the emptiness of the forest, the millions of clear stars and the big sky looking down that filled me with that same mix of jitters, and magic that I’d felt many times before.
Then, out in the night, much to my surprise, while the full moon was seen above the mountains, Dad let out a loud and long “AHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” Just like a howling wolf. This sent shivers down my spine. He told me to howl with him, but I was too scared. He howled again, and again, urged me to join him. I wanted to, but it gave me shivers! Finally, I gathered my courage, took a deep breath, and let out a long and loud “AHOOOOOOOOOO!!!” just like Dad's. It turned out, howling was pretty fun! So, there we were, the only  humans on the whole mountaintop, howling and howling at the moon, like two warewolves in the deep woods."

Friday, June 5, 2015

Novel Idea

Just as I've wanted to write children's books my whole life, I've also had hopes of writing a novel. I've had a few ideas for novels over the years, and have started a couple, but for some reason, I've never been able to get very far, or create the entire plot/ending in my head. I feel like it has to be something I REALLY feel passionate about, a solid plot, and a great ending. None of my ideas have ever felt like the whole meal deal - only pieces of the complete picture. So, I've just put the novel-writing idea away for a future date when I can devote more time to it...

Perhaps it was inspiration from joining my writing group, or the fact that I published my first children's book and entered the world of other authors, but one morning a month or two ago, I had one of those lightening of inspiration moments.

The boys started crying at 3 something AM, so I sleepily stumbled into their room to settle them down and then wandered back to bed. Then that's when it happened - the lightening of inspiration. I could NOT go back to sleep. For some reason, the random thought came into my brain of an idea I had for a novel several years ago. I never wrote the idea down, I just kept it locked away in my brain, working on it in the back corners of my mind here and there. Well, my head was now racing with ideas about this novel. My characters were developing further, the plot emerged, the twists, the surprises, and even the ending all came together in my head. I ended up staying up that entire morning thinking of all these crazy things! And instead of catching up on my own sleep when the kids went down for their first nap later that day, I typed up a 4,000 word outline for my "novel idea".

Isn't it funny how inspiration comes at the weirdest times? Many times, my inspiration has come late at night, or early in the morning, when it's dark and quiet and I can just be still and THINK.  One thing I've learned is that when these ideas come, it's super important to write them down as soon as I can, so I don't forget about them. I have a whole "Ideas for the future" document in my computer devoted to just that.

So, for the first time in my life, I have a novel idea from start to finish, and even in-between.  I actually have some other big projects that I HAVE to get done before I even think about focusing too much on this novel.  But when I'm ready, my outline will be waiting for me. :)

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Does God Want My Dreams to Come True?

How can I know if my own personal dreams or goals are "God-approved"? Does God want me to pursue my dreams? Does He even care? Is it important?


The balance of pursuing my own dreams while ensuring that I'm fulfilling my most important roles as wife and Mother can be a little challenging at times. When am I doing too much in one specific area? When am not doing enough in another?


First of all, I know that God does care about our individual dreams and goals. I know that even if He wouldn't care otherwise, He cares simply because WE care. He loves us. He's our father and wants us to be happy. However, I also know that God knows what's going to make us happiest in the end. And I also know that personal goals can be distractions and ways that we are led away from what is most important in life.


So how DO we balance it?


I can't even begin to claim that I have those answers, but when pondering these questions in life, the best insights I feel that I can receive are spoken by my Savior.  His words are reminders that help put everything into perspective:



19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal;
 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ...  33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.


(Matthew Chapter 6, Emphasis added)


Another insight that comes to mind is from a talk that was given in my congregation at church 2 weeks ago. It was about the Parable of the Talents found also in Matthew, chpt. 25. In the parable, three different servants are given a certain number of talents from their master. One servant was given 1 talent, another 2, and the other 5. The master went away for a time, and then returned to get account of what his servants had done with the talents given to them.


Two of the three servants used their talents to trade and ended up doubling the amount of talents they had. The other servant, who only had one talent, was fearful and buried it. To the two servants who used and grew their talents, the master was well-pleased, saying "Well done thou good and faithful servant". To the servant who buried his talent, the master was not pleased and took the talent away all together.


The speaker went on to say that one day, we will all be held accountable before God for the talents WE have been given. That God expects us to use and develop our talents and gifts to help others. And that's what hit me: God wants us to use our talents to serve others. 
So in conclusion, here's what I'm working towards in the balance of my own aspirations and my responsibilities to God:


  • Put God first. Put the things in life I know He wants me to do first. Don't let anything take the place of those most important priorities.
  • After that, it's absolutely OK to have dreams and to work on dreams and goals. But ask this: Does my dream serve me only or does it serve others? Make sure that in all the development of talents, in striving to fulfill my potential, and of following my dreams, that I don't forget to use these things to help others, and to serve God.

  • Saturday, May 16, 2015

    The Beginnings of My Self-Marketing Scheme


    Today, I thought I’d give an update on how the selling and marketing of “Itchy Mitchie” is going.

    Let me begin by declaring my goal at this point. My initial goal is to sell enough copies to make the money back that I spent to create the book. (I had to buy supplies to create the illustrations and pay a graphic designer to format the book for createspace). So to break even, eventually I’ll probably have to sell somewhere between 100 – 300 copies. After that point, I’ll formulate a new goal. :)

    So, how have sales been so far, you may ask?


    The first month after the book was released was awesome. I have to say, I am SO grateful for all the WONDERFUL, amazing support from my friends and family!  I’m sure a lucky girl to know so many great people who have been SO supportive and kind. It’s also been so nice to get more feedback about the book, which I’m super grateful for as well! 


    But of course, after the excitement of the initial release died down, so have the sales. So, now it’s time to break out the self-marketing plans! 


    There are SO many different ways to market my book. The trick is, being able to narrow down the most effective way. And trickiest of all: finding the TIME to actually do it. 


    So, this is how I started: 

    • Write down a list of all local bookstores within 10 miles. Include their Phone #.

    • Call each bookstore and ask if they accept books from local authors.

    • Make notes. For example: “store manager, Sally, will be in the shop Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-4, call back then”

    • Scratch out stores that don’t accept books, so you don’t waste time calling them back later once you’ve forgotten who you have and haven’t called.

    • If a book shop accepts books from local authors, bring a few copies of your book by. Be friendly and hopeful, and they’ll probably accept it.

    •  Be open about the book to your social cirlce. Share about it on social media. Your friends or family members just may know of an opportunity or have connections for you to get your book out in the public.

    This is about as far as I’ve gotten up to this point. I have a WHOLE lot of other ideas for the future. But I’ll have to do what I can do with the limited time I have as a Mom of busy little boys - which is sometimes not a lot. But I’m Ok with that. (:
     

    So. What has been the result so far?


    I’ve had a few different people come to me with opportunities  to share my book in various public events. I’m really excited at the possibilities and once I’ve got them rolling, I’ll definitely share them.


    I’m also SUPER excited to say that as of today, my book is in 2 different local books shops and one library. Eeeeeek!  Now, that may not seem like very much, but this is my start. And perhaps I shouldn’t be all too excited until books actually sell. But just to have them IN there, makes me feel pretty dang sentimental, ok! :D 


    So…thus marks the beginning my self-marketing journey! I sure have a boatload to learn, but don’t worry, because when I figure it all out, I’ll be sure to share it here. :) 

    Thursday, May 7, 2015

    Morals from Mitchie

    Want a book that teaches a good moral to your kids? Well, here's some of the morals that I hope readers of "Itchy Mitchie" will catch from the book:

    1. Problems and/or negative thoughts can get worse when we focus on them.
    2. Problems and/or negative thoughts can get better when we engaged in productive, good activities.
    3. Complaining doesn't really help anything get better.
    4. Sometimes the solutions to our problems aren't found anywhere else, but inside ourselves.
    5. Kids should heed the counsel of wise parents. 

    And Lastly

    6. Girls can beat boys at Blinky Ball, and it's OK. :) 

    Monday, April 20, 2015

    How To Find Time for Hobbies as a SAHM

    I'm not an expert at this in any shape or form. This is all just my own little opinion and tips I've discovered, that when I actually DO them, have worked to open up some free time for hobbies while being a stay-at-home Mom. For those who may be looking to find some free time to do the same, I hope that this can give you some ideas. So here's some tips that have helped me personally, to have time for things like writing, music, and exercise:

    1. First, make a to-do list every night for the following day. For me, lists are ESSENTIAL. I have a hard time remembering what it is I'm supposed to be doing in the 5 or 10 minutes the boys are busy building blocks together. When those moments of free time suddenly appear, I can take a look at my list and be like, "Oh ya! I got to make that Dr's appointment!" It's nice to write a list the night before too, because once the kids are awake and going in the morning, I may not have a chance to think straight enough to even make a list for the day.

    2. Next, decide which of the things on your list can be done with kids present. Try to get as many things done while the kids are awake as possible.
     Here's some activities I find possible with kids:
    *Laundry. I just fold all the clothes on top of the bed so the kids can't get to it, and I block the nightstand with a pack n play so they can't crawl on the bed and throw the laundry everywhere. The kids love handing the clothes up to me, so it's a win/win.
    *Exercise... well, depending on what you're trying to do. Just work with what's possible. You can do a quick set of push-ups. If they jump on your back while you are trying to do them, just think, you are going to be even stronger than you were planning :) You can also pick the kiddos up as you would weights and lift them up and down. They are sure to giggle a lot, especially if you blow on their tummy every time they come up, another win/win! Squats, dips using your couch, sit-ups, jumping jacks, pull-ups on a pull-up bar, definitely running outside in a jogging stroller (for me, a jogging stroller is essential)...lots of things are possible. And if all else fails, you can turn on music and dance, because that's definitely exercise and they're definitely going to love it.  Or you can just get a gym membership with childcare, which may be the best option of all.

    *Small cleaning projects or tasks around the house. These include getting dinner in the oven, wiping down the kitchen counters, sweeping, dishes, and other quick/simple to-do's.  It may be trickier, but the more you can realistically do while they're awake, the more free time you'll have during naps and when they go to bed, which brings me to the next thing that's helped me have more time for hobbies...

    3. Scheduled naps and bedtimes. I am totally a pro-scheduled naps and bedtimes Mom. Before we had our twins, I read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Twins" by Marc Weissbluth or "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby" for the singleton baby Moms. It was the best book I ever could have read to prepare for Motherhood. Our boys get at least one good nap together every day and go to bed really early...6:30pm. Now to some that may seem TOO early, but I'm telling you, it's wonderful. So during those naps and after bedtime, I try to quickly finish up any of the necessary to-do's I couldn't complete while the babes were awake, and then...free time!

    4. Another thing I think that helps to find time is organizing craft/writing nights with other women. It gives you a specific time to work on your project and you can't make excuses not to, because other people will be there. I recently joined a little writing group where we share our writing projects and discuss our goals. It has motivated me so much to work on my books and find time to write!

    5. Go shopping on Saturday without the kids or as a whole family. If I don't have to go to the store during the week, then I have more free time, plus it's WAY easier than taking the boys by myself.

    6. One huge factor that has given me so much more time in the day is cutting out TV. I pretty much stopped watching it almost a year ago and I've had SO much more free time since. It's amazing how much time we waste when there is a television show in the background to distract us. Of course the internet is the mother of all distractions. I have made so many attempts to limit my internet time. When I'm successful at it, my "free time" increases immensely. If you just take those 5 minutes when the kids are busily playing to sweep the floors or unload the dishwasher, instead of browsing facebook, then remember, that's one less thing you have to do later, and you'll have more time to work on being creative.

    Now if you're like me, your creative hobbies can start to compete for your attention when you should be putting your priorities elsewhere. Although it' good to find time to work on hobbies, I believe it's also important to limit them. It's a delicate balancing act. I know that God wants me develop myself and my talents, but I also know that Motherhood is my number one priority. And I definitely know that I shouldn't be revolving everything else around my hobby time. There are days that I would really love to work on an idea I have, but I have to realize that if too many things are going on, it will just have to wait. There's that lesson in patience again. You may have a project that you could easily get done in like 4 hours, if only you just had 4 hours straight in peace. But as a SAHM.. you possibly never will. Well, maybe at night, but even then, there's a million other more important things to do...so just remember to be patient. Do what's most important in your life first. It may take awhile to get your creative projects done, but keep working on it little by little, when you can. 

     In summary, I do believe the time for being creative is there, even if it's just a few hours every week. I hope I've given you a few ideas that might help you discover that time in your life, so you can start creating something wonderful! :)