Tuesday, ShoesDay! Vol. 2: DKNY Mary Jane

Happy ShoesDay! I decided to write a series on shoes this summer. Join me as I reflect on my favorite- and least favorite- shoes.

Sometime after my first child was born, I happened upon a delightful pair of athletic Mary Janes. They were perfect in every way — cute, comfortable, casual, and suitable for dressy. Is this not the miracle shoe? I felt fully and truly myself in them. They were reminiscent of my younger days, bridging my whimsical ways whilst functioning for practical days. My post-childbirth mirror wasn’t reflecting my pre-motherhood identity anymore, but still I held on. They looked like a ballet flat, felt like a tennis shoe. I brought them to Alaska in summer of ‘04 where they worked for a baptism, rehearsal dinner, wedding, reception, and hike. I danced the Electric Slide in these shoes whilst holding my then-toddler! My cousin, the bride, told me they were great for travel. If only she knew they were for every day. These were great with jeans, pants, skirts, or dresses. I particularly liked them with a midi floral sundress. Perfect for an evening at the theater.

If only I had taken better care of them. If only they didn’t have that sneaker toe flaw. (You know what I mean- the sole curls up over the toes and that part peels and separates- kicking stroller brakes only exacerbated this already fatal flaw.) If only I’d thought to take them to the local cobbler. If only they weren’t discontinued after a year.

The next year DKNY replaced them with the Muse. Even the Macy’s salesman told me, “It’s just not as good as last year’s” and it wasn’t. Unfortunately this is the model name I remember. It wasn’t as cute. Still lighter than a tennis shoe and passable for work. But not the same. By this time, Skechers were everywhere and everyone was trying to sell me those. Skechers are ok, but I mean DKNY is DKNY. What I liked about the DKNY was that it had a raised ankle tab like a real athletic shoe, which was very comfortable for the sudden plantar fasciitis which I now sported post-childbirth.

I wore them to work, and on the weekends. Becoming a new working mom, I’d had to minimize any time-consuming routines, and that meant tying my own shoes. Goodbye, granny boots. Hello, slip-on pseudo-sneakers. (Check back later this summer for my reflection on the granny boot.)

Skechers are fine and I’ve owned many since. Dansko is where I seem to land these days- again I wear them nearly daily and so they last only a year. Softwalk is cute and comfortable, as well. But these are merely facsimiles.

For years it’s been difficult to even find an image. But I decided to look on eBay- where- lo and behold- they are for sale. I don’t think I’m size 8 anymore- but as my Auntie Ling used to say- “Even if don’t fit, FIT.”

Should I buy them?

What are some of your favorite shoes? Tell us in the comments!

Inspired by the book Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman.

Friday Friends: Aimee Brown & The Last Dance

Happy Friday, Friends!

I’m delighted to share with you today an interview with returning guest Aimee Brown. Aimee’s new romance debuts this month and she’s graciously offering us a special double ebook. Click here to enter the Rafflecopter

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/145642292/?

Without further ado, welcome back, Aimee!

1. So, what have you written? Hi there!! I’m a romantic comedy and contemporary romance author who’s thus far written 3 books (2 published, one in editing). My first was Little Gray Dress, which was rebranded by a brand-newpublisher and republished as The Lucky Dress. My second is The Last Dance, released in April.

2. What has your publishing journey been like? Rocky at first. I had some issues with my first publisher and had the rights reverted back to me just six months after it was published. Luckily for me I was already in the works with a contract by my current publisher (Aria/Head of Zeus) and they have made the publishing experience SO much better than it had been.

3. Which character of yours has received the most fan love? Definitely Liam from The Last Dance. He hardly had any lines, was just a distraction for the main character but somehow even with his few scenes, readers fell in love with him. He’s got so much love that he has his very own book coming out in January 2020. It’s in the editing phases right now and I can’t wait for you guys to meet him and his leading lady!!

4. What is your favorite writing snack? Popcorn or Reeses. Or sometimes both! lol

5. How much time do you spend writing? I write everyday of the week for the most part. It’s just something I do. I love creating characters and storylines.

6. Do you use an outline? Nope. At least not until I’m near the ¾ mark. I am such a pantser it’s not even funny sometimes. Once I know where the story needs to go or what it needs to include as it progresses then I make some rough notes. But no outlining for me, I let the characters lead me which can be interesting…lol

7. What’s one thing that surprised you when writing The Last Dance? How attached to the characters and story I got.I had a book hangover for MONTHS. I had such a hard time even writing Liam’s story because I was still so hung up on Henry and Ambri. I still have them in my head and I still absolutely adore these guys and their story. It’s easily the favorite I’ve written yet.

8. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?Anywhere tropical. I live in cold Montana so I’d love palm trees, sandy beaches, and no snow.

9. What music do you listen to while writing? I actually make playlists for my books as I write. Songs help me find the emotion I need on the page so when I’m writing a scene, sometimes I spend more time finding the right song to inspire it than I do writing it. You can even find my book playlists over on my website at authoraimeebrown.com – I’m listening to The Last Dance playlist as I type!

10. What books have you read recently? Not many sadly. I’ve been on a lot of deadlines, and had a lot of both good and bad going on in life, so I haven’t had much time to really read.  But I’ve got a list a mile long.

11. When will Liam’s story be published? The publish date has been pushed to January 2020, which seems a long way away but it just gives me that much more time to perfect him. You guys will love him. My editor actually saidshe loves Liam more than Henry and she REALLY loved Henry so…yay!!!

12. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today? I just so want to thank my readers. You guys have made this so rewarding for me. I write for myself, but the fact that so many readers have fallen in love with my words is so exciting. I just can’t thank you guys enough.And thank you for being such a supporter of my work. I appreciate all you do for authors. We couldn’t do this without amazing bloggers and readers like yourself! ❤

Thanks Aimee! Great to have you here again!

Aimee’s previous features here on Friday Friends at Key of Dee:

Book Tour: Little Gray Dress by Aimee Brown (Guest Post)

https://denisederrico.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/friday-friends-aimee-brown-hello-chicklit/

Friday Friends: Sarah E. Boucher & The Golden Gown

Happy Friday, Friends!

On Fridays I like to feature authors, creatives, and entrepreneurs here on the blog. The blogging/ reading/ writing community is a wonderful galaxy and this is my way of giving back- shining the spotlight on others. Today I am delighted to feature a returning visitor with her new book: Sarah E. Boucher. Welcome, Sarah!

1. What can you tell us about your new book? 

I’m so excited about Golden Gown! It’s been a blast to twist so many things I love into one fairy tale. First, it’s a retelling of Rumplestilskin where Rumple become the romantic lead. (And a sexy, mischievous Spaniard…) Second, it’s a tribute to my Grammy Elsie, who is the inspiration for my heroine, Elyse. She’s the type of girl everyone wants as a best friend. She’s smart, hardworking, and unfailingly loyal. (Okay, maybe she’s a little naive too, though that trait is more mine than Grammy’s.)

2. How was it different writing this book? 

I took an entirely different approach to writing Golden Gown. It all started when my longtime book boyfriend Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables influenced my Rumplestilskin, Gilberto De La Vega. As soon as that happened, Marilla Cuthbert, Rachel Lynde, Diana Barry, and half of Avonlea crept into the narrative. It was absolutely delightful to fangirl over one of my favorite series, reinvent the characters, and introduce them into a fairy tale world. So. Much. Fun.

3. If you could spend a day with any one of your characters, who would it be? What would you do?

Oh my goodness, is it obvious I’m in love with Gil? I’d definitely make him take me out for a schmancy dinner and some sort of romancing. He still surprises me, so it would definitely be a good night. (Probably ending in a dark corner and a make out session…uh…I mean, a really heartfelt conversation.)

4. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors? 

Keep writing! Don’t fall so in love with your sweet baby manuscript that you a) won’t let anyone help you make it better (because it always becomes better when you involve others in the process), or b) writing something else. 

Because that thing you’re obsessing over is never going to be as good as the thing you write a couple of years down the line.

5. What is your favorite food? 

Chocolate. I mean anything chocolate. Currently it’s peanut butter and chocolate in any configuration. Like Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. Or Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars.

6. Are you still watching superhero tv?

Does is count if I binge watch Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow? Because I do. A lot. They’re like fairy tales with scmancy weapons.

And don’t get me started on the entire Marvel movie franchise…

7. What was one thing you edited out of this book? 

I had an entire relationship I removed from my book. Early on my good friend told me that one of my female characters was too good for the guy she ended up with. It took two more drafts until I agreed with her. But now the dirtbag does not get the girl. (It’s funny because my dad read it last and said, “Why doesn’t he end up with…?” Too late, dad. I burned that relationship to the ground!)

8. What are you working on these days?

My writing group (The Writing Girls) is releasing a Fairy Tale Anthology this fall, so my extra time is spent working on that. I also have a retelling of Rapunzel that’s whispering at the back of my mind, but it will probably only get attention when I retire from kindergartenland for the summer. But it’s a really fun twist that I can’t wait to jump into!

9. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 

Europe. All over Europe. Especially Spain and Italy.

And England.

And probably Germany.

(Is it obvious I’ve never crossed ‘the pond?’)

10. Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Thanks for hosting me! This journey has been so much fun! Several years ago, I introduced myself as a kindergarten teacher because that’s all I thought I would be. But someone read my very rough draft and said, “you have to submit this.” 

And I said no. 

Then I thought about it for a long time. And I threw my baby manuscript to the wolves. I will forever be grateful for that friend who believed in me. So take it from me, if there’s ever anything you are afraid to try, gather your tribe and go after it. As I tell my five-year-olds, you will never know if you don’t try!

Thanks!

Here’s the book blurb:

Elyse has lost everything; her parents, her family home, and the village where she is loved and respected. Still grieving, she arrives in a new town where she must prove her skills as a seamstress. Overnight, she creates a gown stunning enough to catch the princess’s eye and win the community’s approval. With every eligible maiden clamoring for her designs, Elyse must do everything in her power to appease them. No one can ever know that in the moments when she doubts her abilities, a mysterious stranger with a talent for tailoring and a penchant for damsels in distress comes to her aid. If anyone ever discovers the truth, her reputation will be ruined.

Thank you for stopping by, Sarah! Here’s how you can find Sarah online.

blog/website (SarahEBoucher.com)

Friday Friends: Katie * Your Writer Big Sister * Masters

Happy Friday, Friends! I started featuring the writing community on Fridays as a thank you to those who helped launch my first book. And I found I just loved it so much, I wanted to keep doing it! I’m delighted to feature Katie Masters today. Read on to meet Katie!

So, what have you written/created?

I mean, if you wanted to go back far into the archives in the life-of-Katie, you’d find sailor moon fanfiction and whole spiral notebooks full of stories written from the age of twelve onward! But since I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read those (and really, you probably shouldn’t), I can thankfully point you to the things I have had published! 

 

The first (literally, my very first!) book I wrote was picked up by Fire & Ice YA, a modern-day Irish mythology book entitled, Brenna Morgan & the Iron Key. It’s kind of my baby and while I do intense research for all of my books, this one is near and dear to my heart as it’s part of my heritage. Most recently my modern-day sci-fi thriller Beacons, got picked up last year by Pandamoon Publishing and is slated to come out this year! I’ve also self-published a novella that’s the first in a series I’m creating entitled The Bone Dancer.

Currently I’m working on my lesbian Victorian romance and hoping to pitch it soon. I’m also probably the worst person in the world to ask what I’ve created or what I’m working on because I’m always creating and my answer today might be different tomorrow! I’m also juggling two different  Middle Grade series, and a lesbian slice of life graphic novel (done in Japanese manga style). 

 I’m also writing full news articles on my Patreon page for my Enchanted Forest News updates that I do on twitter!

…..Yeah. That sounds like a lot even to me. 

I don’t know how I haven’t gone insane either.

Where can we find you on social media?

You can find me practically everywhere but especially on twitter! I also have an Instagram and authortube channel on youtube! I’m pretty sure the links to them all will be down below.

What inspired you to start tweeting as Your Writer Big Sister?

 

Oh man! I think you’re the first person to ask me that! As it happens, I’m in fact, a big sister in real life! But as I went on twitter I realized I was spending a lot of time (worthwhile time!) cheering on a lot of writers on twitter, and giving a lot of advice and doing a lot of beta reading and I realized—all of these wonderful people didn’t have a ‘big sister’. They didn’t have someone to cheer them on in their life, or tell them they weren’t crazy and to not listen to their close minded parents who put padlocks on their dreams.

 

So I took it upon myself to be everyone’s Writer Big Sister. 

I was lucky that as a teen, I had the opportunity to be coached by some writers and I wanted to do the same thing—to be the cheerleader for the writer who doesn’t have someone to do it  forthem in their life.

 

What subjects and causes are near and dear to your heart?

 

SO. MANY. Note the cap locks! But I know I should narrow it down to two. LGBTQ is right on the top of my list—right there with conservation. I’m an ally, always have been, always will be. But I would like the world to remain habitable so that we can all still be alive to read books, explore nature, and love whoever the hell we want. Which is why I so strongly support conservation. I spent half of my childhood in apartment and the other on boats on the ocean and a tipi on a lonely mountain. Nature and keeping it around and leaving it better than it was is huge for me.

 

What’s the first piece of writing that you remember being proud of and why?

The first piece of writing I was ever truly proud of was a fantasy book I was writing in Jr. high. I was very serious about it and it was the reason I learned to type so fast on a computer! I wanted to write it as fast as it was running around in my head! I was proud of it because I wrote a truly great villain and even my mom (who is the hardest person in the world to impress) was impressed with her. 

 

Looking back at it now I can say “oh yeah, I was definitely thirteen” and even pinpoint what author influenced my word choices or plot development. But even now, it’s still something I’m proud of, since I was so young and taking on a huge world building project.

How many books did you read last year?

 

I um….I didn’t keep count exactly but maybe 30? I felt I wasn’t reading enough though and I’m trying to fix that this year!

 

Which of them stood out?


Well, I’m sure not everyone will count it, but The Prince and the Dressmaker, which is a graphic novel by Jen Wang. The art is freaking gorgeous, the story doubly so. It’s just such a wonderful blend of fashion and heart! I just wish it could’ve kept going!

 

How did you get the idea to tweet Enchanted Forest News?

 

I honestly don’t know! It was just sort of something that kind of lighting flashed into my brain one day. I wrote one news flash and it took off like crazy on twitter and people started asking me if I was going to do it daily—so I did! Initially (and to this day) I was using for a fun background/easter egg plot drop to my Enchanted Forest middle grade series I’m working on. It’s meant to take place a few years prior to the start of the first book, andsets the stage for a lot of the plots in the series! 

It’s honestly grown to be so much more than I thought it would be, mainly due to the many people who comment on it and tell me how much the updates mean to them! It’s really kept me going, to be honest!

 

What is your theme song?

Oh that’s so hard! It depends on the day and the mood I’m in! But I would say overall my theme song is “keep your head” by Andy Grammar. Although lately it’s been “high hopes” by Panic! At the Disco. Pretty sure you can see a theme forming at this point right?

What is your all-time favorite movie?

 

Okay firstly, you need to know something about me. I love movies as much as I love books. I’ve grown up watching silent films, old film noire, musicals…you name it, I’ve watched it. Soto pick only one is impossible for me! I don’t think I could even pick one in one genre! But I’ll say one of my favorite movies of all time is the 1990’s version of Pride and Prejudice because they did that book so much justice and to this day it’s the best book-to-film adaptation I’ve ever seen.

Fight me!

 

What songs can you play on the ukulele?

 

I can play all kinds of songs! I love playing Rebecca Sugar songs (I mean, really who doesn’t?!) on it, but I also write my own songs, and I like learning modern day songs too. I think one of my favorite bands to play from is Of Monsters and Men (from the Little Talks album).

 

What plants do you have growing in your garden?

 

Asking that is like asking a booktuber how many books they have on their shelf. You’ve entered dangerous ‘list’ territory my friends! To those who don’t know me, by the way, I garden! I’m like…maybe a little obsessed with gardening. I don’t want your eyes to glaze over, so I’ll give you the shortened version! I have seven different kind of berry bushes, an apple tree, plum tree, 2 kinds of grapes, rhubarb, strawberries, and three raised beds filled with seasonal veggies (and onions and garlic).

Fun bonus fact: all of my berries and trees are in pots because I rent and can’t plant anything permanent in the ground!

 

Ranch or Blue Cheese?

Ranch. Always ranch.

 

Name one faraway place you would like to visit.

 

My life goal since I was twelve years old is to go to Japan. I’ve literally learned to read and write and speak the language since I  was a kid and I still haven’t gotten to go. I’m hoping to fix that someday soon (I say that, by my book sales just laugh at me).

What’s your favorite tea?

My favorite tea is the Private Reserve from the Los Rios Teahouse (they sell their teas online too, bless them!)!

 

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

Yes There is! This writing business is tough. If you’re writing a book right now, you know that. But I want you to know you’re not alone. The worst things you can do are withdrawal when you’re stuck, and give up. If you’re having a hard time, there’s a community on twitter for your going through the same thing—or have gone through it and lived to tell tale.

You are not alone, and people want you to reach out. I know that can be scary because a lot of you might be introverted or feel you don’t have the right or the ‘standing’ to ask for help or advice.

I’m here to tell you, you are. You are worth the time people invest in you. You are worth the time you invest in yourself. And your books are worth the time you’ve put into them. If you feel stuck or lost or frustrated, reach out. Reach out to me, or to the writing community.

But you are not alone. Please keep writing!

 


Thanks, Katie! I’ve always wanted a big sister!

Here’s where you can find Katie and her books!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Katie_Masters29

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katie_masters/

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/KatieMasters

Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAKV7lMmK10

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GBnEzY

The Bone Dancer: https://amzn.to/2E7gTnT

Wednesday Wellness: Journaling

Welcome, Friends! I started writing about wellness topics on Wednesday’s as I noted many of my friends an creative types struggle with balance, as do I. Join me on my journey as I explore mental health and self care, stumbling along the way!

Even before I was an author, I was a writer. I vividly remember when I was six years old, I insisted that my dad drive me downtown to buy a diary. I have always written in one form or another: journals, stories, blogs. (If you write a blog post and nobody reads it, is it a journal?) Did you have a pen pal when you were a kid? I had several. Some of those letters were epic, let me tell you! It was a form of journaling.

Currently I am journaling in no less than five journals. And that’s not even all of them! I can think of two more which I have only temporarily abandoned, and one more which I would like to replace. (Then there’s a really fun one I might want to start up again!) Let me explain.

Each journal has its own function and purpose. I can keep five journals simultaneously because each has its own design and intention. First, I’ll start with my daily planner. Sure, I use it to organize my future plans. But I also use it to keep track of what I do from day to day. See my posts on creative, decorative journaling and how it helps me manage my anxiety. #PlanforMagic Journal No. 1.

Journal No.2. This is my work notebook. Similarly, it is my list collection of daily activities, but at work. This is something i reference often something when I have a similar instance, and want to recall how i processed something. Recently, I changed the way I use it. I now refer to it as my Success Log. See my post here on how to keep a success log. Basically I now track what I did, instead of listing what I have to do. I find this mindset helps keep anxiety at bay. Of course, I till need to track my To Do items, so I write them on Post it’s and stick them on the facing page. This practice reminds me of the Word Banks that we used in creative writing in school. Use these words. Do these things. But it’s okay to keep moving them to the next day, accordingly.

Journal. No. 3. At my birthday brunch a couple of months ago, everybody gave me a journal. How delightful! My besties know me so well. Here is one of them. Isn’t it gorgeous? This one reminds me of Lucy’s journal in the TV series Timeless. I am using this one for traditional journaling, by this i mean recording feelings and processing difficult subjects. Like what, you ask. Oh just the basics, you know, inspiration and mortality…

Journal No. 4 is my book journal. This is a entralized place dedicated to my book writing. It is part organization, part freewriting, part collage. I cut and paste in images, doodle, list, the like. I have some larger worksheets that I fold and insert in the back. I may list questions that I have for further research. I may list websites which have been helpful to reference.

Journal No 5. I received this one as a gift. With my success with my work journal and my personal daily planner, I decided to try this one. It is basically an interactive goal-setting workbook. I appreciate how it guides you. This one is designed for career and professional goals, but I think I am using it more for personal goals. It is like having a personal coach in your back pocket. In the past, I have used Leonie Dawson’s guides for this purpose. Here is a link to the Acheivement Journal I am using now. Here is a link to the Life Goals workbook I have used before.

Not pictured: Gratitude Journal. Last year I used a guided gratitude journal that was in almanac style. I realized quickly that my daily planner (journal no 1) was the source and reference for completing my gratitude journal. Although you can use a gratitude journal daily, I found that I would often have Gratitude Sessions, in which I would sit in a cafe and open my daily planner to where I’d left off in my gratitude journal. I’d review the planner, taking one thing per day to write about in my gratitude journal. I found it to be a great way to savor my memories, as well as my coffee or tea! I began to look forward to my practice of self care in this way.

Travel Journal: I always encourage my children to keep a journal when we are on vacation, just as my parents did for me, when I was a kid. Last summer my daughter and I each created our own travel journals: smaller booklets with diary entries, weather tracking, memorabilia and photos. This is a good, first activity if you are overwhelmed by the idea of journalling, because it is contained and limited in scope. Read my post “Dear Diary” about how special it was to read my friend’s travel journal after she died.

Training journals: I keep a notebook for professional trainings I attend. I keep a separate notebook for personal development sessions- coaching, podcasts, or webinars.

Collage Journal: This was a favorite activity I started in 2011. The memorabilia and paraphernalia is what makes the collage journal magic. Here is a sample of my collage journal spread.

Bullet Journal: this is a modern minimalistic journal practice. It is very trendy now. I have seen examples that are simplistic habit trackers and goals/ lists, and others with ornate doodles and drawings. Usually done with a small journal with grids, you make a table of contents and may use a code. Bullet Journaling/ Bujo also has a cult following. This is another good introduction into journaling. This can be an “everything” journal, in which case you may need to replace it every month. Try it for 30 days. See if it works for you!

Do you journal? What kind of journalling do you practice?

Friday Friends: Yancy Lael & The Reluctant Owlet

Happy Friday, Friends! I love to introduce you to my creative friends and feature their newest creations. I’d already interviewed Yancy before, so I asked her to write about her writing journey. I think you’ll love getting to know Yancy. After reading The Fox at the Door, I was so excited to hear about her newest release ~ a picture book entitled The Reluctant Owlet. Take it away, Yancy!

My path to writing was not a straightforward one, something that still surprises me, to this day. It’s surprising because I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I loved writing and books since I was a very young child. 

By the age of 10, I was 100% certain of my destiny to become a writer. At the time, my parents decided to write a cowboy romance novel (a marriage of each of their favorite genres).They had decided to write under a pen name. They chose my first name and an old family name for their pseudonym: YancyJohns. They printed out business cards using that pen name; underneath the name was the word writer.

They had one of the business cards laminated and attached it to their new typewriter. When I looked at that card and saw my name and the word writer, I knew that was my destiny. 

I spent my teen years writing novels in spiral-bound notebooks. That’s right – handwritten. We only had one computer back then and I had to share it with five other people. So if I wanted to spend most of my time writing, I had to do it by hand. 

When I was 19, my uncle gave me his old laptop. It’s humorous to remember it now, that archaic machine that weighed close to 15 pounds. It was so large, it would never be called a laptop by today’s standards, but in 1996, it was quite sophisticated. I felt so lucky to have my own computer. I had finally become a real writer, clacking away at a keyboard that belonged solely to me. 

By the time I was 26, I had written four or five complete novels. I was quite proud of a few of them, though too afraid to send them in to publishers. (It wasn’t quite so important to get an agent back then.) 

One story really stuck with me. It followed a young man in his twenties who was trying to find a way to deal with a sister who had become an addict and was, by the time the novel started, in a coma after a car accident. When I was done writing the novel, I realized the character I had loved the most was the one in the coma – Mary Raedwolfe. I rewrote that book from scratch three times until it became what my readers now know as The Poison Box. But still, I was too shy to share it with others, so I left it on my hard drive, untouched, for many years. 

By my thirties, though I can’t really say I had tried very hard to get published, I was so discouraged with writing that I decided to pursue my Plan B – teaching. If I couldn’t write, at least I could help the kids in my community get excited about writing! I thought I was done as a writer. I thought I would get married and have kids and keep teaching and that would be that. It was hard to let go of my dream, but it just didn’t seem to be going anywhere. 

In 2010, I found that I wasn’t very satisfied with teaching. I needed to find another outlet for my creativity – preferably one that could supplement my teacher’s income. I’d always been very interested in nature and natural healing, and had struggled for decades with acne that I only ended up healing through homemade natural remedies concocted with herbs and organic oils. I knew I could help people dealing with similar struggles and feed my creativity by opening a bath and beauty shop on Etsy.

My little shop, Five Seed, was the joy of my life for the few years that it was open. I loved writing blog posts, product copy, and social media updates. I loved designing the labels and photographing the products in creative ways. And I absolutely adored mixing up different herbs and oils and waxes and turning them into finished, healing products. 

I truly loved being a shop owner at the time. It was such a rewarding experience, and a true balm for my heart during a tumultuous time in my family life. 

Unfortunately, my shop didn’t last long. In 2013, Etsy, prompted by the FDA’s new regulations, issued an edict that herbal shops could no longer talk about herbalism, healing, or even herbal folklore. Everything was off-limits except listing the ingredients in the products. As you can imagine, sales plummeted. The personality of my shop and educational aspect of it were lost. And really, who would buy a product with no listed benefits?

It took me a couple of months to really come to terms with what was happening, but ultimately, I decided to let the shop go. As the experience came to an end, many of my amazing, devoted customers asked me to share my skincare secrets in a booklet. I laughed, at first, at the thought of returning to writing…but eventually, the idea seemed like the only thing to do after the shop closed. Initially, I envisioned writing a short e-book. But as the months went by and I couldn’t stop writing, I realized that this was going to be a major project.

Once I was finished with the manuscript, I realized I had to figure out how to distribute it. I discovered Amazon’s platform and decided to start there. It took me almost a full month to format that book, but eventually, in October, I was able to release Soulful Skincare. 

Some women imagine what it will feel like when they put on a wedding dress for the first time. I, on the other hand, had always dreamed of holding my first book. And let me tell you, it was everything I had imagined. I was exhilarated. 

Somehow, I had become a writer. 

It wasn’t the way I expected. I had always thought I would get a publishing deal and sell a novel as my debut work. Who knew that the universe would trick me into writing a self-published self-help book about acne, instead? It seems so funny to me now.

Once I’d gotten up my confidence, I pulled out the old manuscript that I’d held on to for so many years – The Poison Box. I think that sat on my hard drive, mostly untouched for twelve or fourteen years! Can you imagine how trippy it was to open it again and decide to finish editing it and put it out into the world? That was a big step for me.

And then, like any writer would, I kept going. There’s no end to our stories, after all. 

My cousin’s untimely death prompted me to publish the journal I’d kept during my trip to France with her and my ex-boyfriend. Then I finished the project that I’d wanted to write as a companion piece to Soulful Skincare – a book about radically accepting the way we look. And then came the debut of my series of adult fairy tales (don’t get all hot and bothered – they are G rated but written for an adult audience). 

Then I achieved a huge milestone, a goal I’ve had for decades: Writing a children’s book! The Reluctant Owlet debuted earlier this year. This story follows an owl family – one I had actually observed in the woods in 2017 – as the youngest owlet faces her fears about leaving the nest. I’m so proud of this book. I loved sharing the story of these real-life owls with others. I’m proud of the artwork, which was based on actual pictures I took of the owls. And my brother even contributed photographs to the book, which makes it extra special. 

So here I am, knocking out an average of two books each year. An unconventional writer, I suppose, and admittedly, a struggling one. I have yet to be able to pay the bills with my work. 

But for now, it’s more important to me to tell the stories. I think the rest will come in time. I’ve just got to keep my head down and write what I’m asked to write. 

There’s no point in giving up, really. I’ve certainly learned that. I do love it, after all. Writing is one of the most important parts of my life. I couldn’t breathe without it, without my stories, without the characters who have become my dear friends. 

I think that’s really what it means to be a writer. That you’re willing to surrender everything to the stories that come to you. That you fight for every minute you sit in front of the blank page. That you put all your energy into completing the stories and getting them out into the world where they belong. 

There’s something of service about it. Or maybe just obsession. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’ll still be typing away over here, no matter what happens. Just like I imagined when I was 10 years old. I already saw my cosmic business card way back then and it said, simply: Writer. 

 

You can buy The Reluctant Owlet on Amazon

Read Yancy’s interview here.

Follow Yancy on Twitter @YancyLael

Friday Friends: Find Your Rainbow with Jenipher Lyn

My dear friends, I’ve missed you. Thanks for checking back in. If you are new, Welcome! So glad to have you here. On Fridays, I like to feature authors and readers. I am delighted to spotlight artist-author-entrepreneur Jenipher Lyn and her new book release: Find Your Rainbow.

Seems like only yesterday that I participated in a blog tour for her first book, How Being Stubborn, Depressed and Unpopular Saved My Life. (You can read that post here.) I appreciated very much the hand-drawn honesty in that book. Reading it, I felt understood. Jenipher had reached out and found my inner child. I looked forward to the time my daughter would be old enough to read it.

I bought some of Jenipher’s stickers from her website. My daughter and I use them in our daily planners. Many times, her stickers are just perfect for that day, or that mood.

As soon as I could, I pre-ordered Jenipher’s new book. I intended to share with my girl, but I was soon told that I need to order my own copy! This is an interactive book- as you will see.

I can’t wait to start my own journey on this rainbow quest.

Find Your Rainbow is by Jenipher Lyn. Get your copy now via Amazon, Target, and Jenipher’s website!