Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An Open Book…Mostly

For the most part I’m an open book. But there is a part of my life you won’t find my talking about often. And it’s the part that means the most to me.

My marriage. My family & home life.

Every now and again I’ll open up. Share a picture or two. Let others in. But otherwise, I like to keep these people and goings on close to my heart. I believe there’s something to be said for keeping some moments, some pictures, some jokes, and some events just between my spouse and me (or a family thing). This is why I’m not a fan of splashing photo after photo of our dates and outings on every social site. I’m too busy living them to bother with the steps it takes to post them.

I think in some ways the world has gone mad with overexposure. What do I mean? We’ve forgotten how to have a conversation without scrolling through apps on an iPhone or we can’t have our photo taken without wondering how it will look on Facebook. Sometimes I wonder if we’re losing the ability to discern how self-focused we’ve become?

As my bio indicates and has for years now, I love my husband and children with great intensity. I’m constantly finding ways to love them more, better, on a deeper level. I’m constantly wanting to grow in this.

That’s why it was such an honor to be featured in a book I highly respect.

With the help of some well-respected marriage experts (like Gary Thomas who wrote one of my favorite books on marriage, Sacred Marriage), Tyler Ward published a free ebook (Marriage Hacks: 25 Practical Ways to Make Love Last) filled with invaluable marital advice. I was grateful to be asked to share my two cents (pg. 98). Crazy that? Crazy wonderful.

Because my marriage has taught me a tremendous amount about the kind of person I am and the kind of person I desire to become.

Hope you’ve enjoyed tiny glimpse into the relationship I seldom publicly present. And I also hope you’ll check out the free ebook. I love my marriage, but I also know it requires a lot of work and attention. This book is loaded with great insights for those craving a meaningful marriage. 
Download the free book here.

What’s the best marriage advice you’ve ever received?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Little Free Library in Your Neighborhood

I enjoy making predictions. Ever heard of Little Free Libraries? Right here, right now I predict they’re about to crop up in neighborhoods all across the country. You’re going to see them on road trips, on the way to book club, and even during a quick trip to town.

My friend, Kate Rich recently joined in with her neighborhood to establish a Little Free Library. Kate and her neighbors were excited to spread the Little Free Library’s mission to help promote literacy while building a sense of community.

Here’s what Kate had to share about her experience so far…

“The Little Free Library has been a big hit in our neighborhood! It's been so nice to connect and visit with our neighbors while talking about books. We've gotten a lot of great feedback from adults and kids. They always start off by saying how cute it is and it is such a neat idea. Most people walk away finding a book that they are excited to read!”


Fun fact: We also recently saw a Little Free Library near a lake where we vacationed in northern New England last week.

What do you think of this what-I’m-sure-will-become-a-major-trend? I think it’s brilliant!

Please contact me if you’d like me to send you a copy of either of my books to include in your Little Free Library and I’ll do my best to share The Disappearing Key & The Flower Girls love.

To learn more:

*picture of Kate showcasing her neighborhood library

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Writing the Know of Motherhood by Julie Kieras

I’m thrilled to have Julie Kieras here today addressing whether she believes there’s a Golden Rule of Writing. I met Julie through a local book club and instantly enjoyed discussing characters and the stories with her. She’s intelligent, driven, kind, and passionate. Exactly what I look for in a friend. ;-)

I had the honor of visiting her blog not long ago. I’m grateful our paths have crossed and today I’m excited you’ll get a chance to get to know Julie better.

There was a time when reading "how to write" books was my passion. My shelves are stocked with the wisdom of Ralph Fletcher, Anne Lamott, Natalie Goldberg, and even Snoopy! (Oh yes, that spotted doggy has a lot to say about the art and craft of writing!).

I always felt there was some "other" great secret to be found about how to write well...if I could just read one more book.

Maybe it's the Type A in me that liked hearing maybe, just maybe, there was a Golden Rule of Writing and if I followed it, fame and fortune (or at least a published book of some sort) might follow.

So here I am seventeen years out of college as a Creative Writing major, with no books to my name (but a few articles!). It's funny how now as a stay-at-home-mom, Im busier than ever, but finding myself writing more than when I had what, in retrospect, was gobs of time on my hands.

As a family life blogger, I've written over 1,500 posts on my main site. Looking back on these recent years, I see how all this writing has taught me the truth behind the advice of my favorite mentor authors.

One. Writers write. In the past I READ about writing more than I actually wrote. I waited for lightning strikes of inspiration that seemed to come far and few. Now, I'm writing daily. Maybe not always the literary canon kind of writing I'm passionate about (poetry and creative nonfiction), but I'm constantly exercising my writing skills. The result is my confidence and body of work has grown. Something that wasn't happening while I just daydreamed about becoming a published author.

Two. Write what you know. This advice used to puzzle me. I went to school to become a writer. I studied writing. I became a teacher who taught writing. What did I know? Writing. I knew writing really really well. But that didn't leave me much to write about.

When I started my parenting and family life blog, my early posts were very hesitant. Brief. I labored over them. What did I know about parenting and raising kids. (Okay, truthfully, four years in, what do I STILL know?! Ha!).

As a new mom, I went through six months of struggles with breast feeding. And my writing reflected that, with a mini-series helping breast feeding moms feel supported. Suddenly, knowing a LOT about breast feeding gave me a passionate voice on that topic.

Fast forward a year, and I was constantly entertaining a busy toddler...and writing a series of "toddler exploration" posts.

As I flip through my posts, I realized the truth behind "write what you know." Four years ago what did I know about breastfeeding? Virtually nada! About toddler play? Definitely nothing about the rhythm and beauty of keeping up with an active boy!

But now? Now my life informs my work.

I'm writing what I know about parenting and motherhood as I experience it. Sure, other people write about similar topics, but nobody with my voice and my personal experiences.

My writing changes as our family changes and grows. I reflected aloud to my husband recently about how I probably won't write my annual breastfeeding series this year. I've said most of what I have to say on that topic, and were just not experiencing that phase anymore.

However we have launched into the world of homeschooling, travel with kids, and miniature homesteading and I'm excited to write about these new experiences as they come.

When we as writers simply write what we know, we will never fall short of ideas, our writing voice will ring strong and true, and we will connect with the heart of our readers.

Of course, some things never change....after all, look at me here... I'm writing about writing, aren't I?


Julie is a mom of two energetic boys and wife to her brainy and green-thumbed husband. She writes for her parenting and family life blog Happy Strong Home, and her pieces can also be found on the Melissa & Doug blog and Ergobaby blog. She dreams of one day publishing a lyrical childrens book illustrated by one of her favorite artists, or a book of poems on motherhood.
*Just a note that I won't be posting next Wednesday. See you in a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hearts Full of Dew

“I prefer by far the warmth and softness to
 mere brilliancy and coldness. Some people
remind me of sharp dazzling diamonds.
Valuable but lifeless and loveless. Others, of
 the simplest field flowers, with hearts full of
dew and with all the tints of celestial beauty
reflected in their modest petals.”
~  Ana├»s Nin
*Reminder to let me know if you'd like me to visit with or Skype with your book club. Also, if you've read my latest, THE FLOWER GIRLS, I'd love for you to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. (Thanks to those who have already done so!) Finally, keep posting those beautiful photos of the cover with the latest blooms and/or THE FLOWER GIRLS on your vacation.

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...