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First Time Being Published!!!

The mail came yesterday and in it, a magazine that featured one of my articles!!!  It was so exciting to see my words in print and to see my name in a magazine!

A number of months ago, I wrote a blog post and was contacted the next day by the editor of a small magazine.  She had read my post and was wondering if she could publish it in the next issue of “Earthen Vessels”.  You can read an on-line version of my article here.  It looks way cooler in actual print though.  The thing that makes me the most excited is that the subject is one that I am passionate about and I welcome the opportunity to spread the message of making a difference for orphans.

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Writing Amid Interruptions

I had committed to myself that I would begin working on my book again this week.  A synopsis of the book is being included in a newsletter that is sent out to 80 publishers at the end of this month.  That gives me a deadline.  If any of the publishers are interested in reading the full manuscript, they will contact me and I want to be prepared to send one out immediately.

The week was busy (as are most of my weeks) and I managed to make excuses every day as to why it would not be a good time to work on the book.  Friday, I had my wonderful babysitter here for the whole day because I had to take Gracelyn to an appointment in the afternoon and was supposed to be visiting a friend in hospital in the morning.  My friend was released from the hospital that morning though and I made plans to go to see her at her house following Grace’s appointment.  That left me with a babysitter and no plans for the morning.  It was obvious that there were no excuses for not using that time to work on the book.

I procrastinated.  I wrote a blog post (or two or three).  I checked e-mails.  I sent e-mails.  Then I pulled up my document and looked at it blankly as the minutes ticked by, took a deep breath, and allowed my fingers to press lightly on the keys, as words magically appeared on the screen.  Soon, I was typing madly as the story flowed out through my fingertips.

Then, the door to the office opened and I heard, “mommy, Elijah is bugging me”.  Soon Elijah was here defending himself and an argument between the two erupted as I ushered them out of the room.  Fingers to keyboard.  “Mommy, can I have a drink of milk?”  I remind Eliana to ask Mandi and to pretend that mommy isn’t home.  Fingers to keyboard.  “Mommy, can I make myself a quesadilla if I clean up afterwards?”  I turn and remind Gracelyn gently that I need to get some work done before it is time to leave for her appointment.  Fingers to keyboard.  “Mommy, Josiah pushed me and I hurt my back.”  Insert crying here.  I dutifully kiss Eliana’s back and speak the usual words of compassion.  I call Josiah in and have him apologize to his sister.  Fingers to keyboard.  Two kids burst in through the door.  I remind them, not so gently and with very little patience that there will be consequences if they continue to interrupt my “work” time.  Fingers almost to keyboard.  “Mommy I need to take my medicine.”  I look at the time, realize she is right and that soon, we will be needing to leave for her appointment anyway.  I call it a day.

Writing is a challenge.  Writing while being interrupted in the middle of a good flow is frustrating and not very productive.  BUT…

I did manage to get started on one of the last two chapters I need to write.  I did get about a thousand words done.  I did manage to research a small detail.  Baby steps.  They all count.  Every word adds up.  Eventually, the hope is, a book they will make!

Online Freelance Writing

A few weeks ago, I announced that I had taken a risk and applied for an online freelance writing job.  Apparently, they never consider unpublished authors, so I did not get the job.  It was not a complete bust though as it led me to look for other opportunities.  I stumbled upon this.  For this, there is no experience or skill required so I took it as a chance to experiment with some ideas and practise writing articles.  I like that the earnings are residual, so an article I write may still be earning me pennies a year from now.  Over the first two days, I wrote 11 articles, a few that I think are actually helpful, such as the one I wrote called “Supporting the Adoptive Family” and then I wrote some just to test how different articles would do.  I wrote anything from a recipe to a ridiculous anecdote to scrapbooking tips to product reviews.  It’s been really interesting to see what people are clicking on.  I have not promoted the articles myself and after those first two days, have not had time to add any articles, but I am slowly getting reads on some of them, while others remain unread.  As the pay is on a per read basis, promoting myself would increase my revenue, but for now, I am using this as an experiment and just trying it out.  It is very interesting to see which of my articles have been read and which have not.  The ones that has been the most read are my “Mommy Guilt” one and one that I wrote a product review on a homeschool game that is useful in working with kids who have autism or Asperger’s or in helping kids who are learning English as their second language.  When I wrote that product review, I wrote it quickly (five minutes at most) and was hoping that someone might find it useful.  It is something that has really helped me with Josiah (my eight year old son who has Asperger’s) although I bought it to help my kids from Ethiopia improve their English and it has been somewhat handy for that as well.  It is interesting that strangers have been reading the article though and makes me think that perhaps “autism” or “Asperger’s” are tags that are searched for frequently.  Some of the articles that I thought would be more popular have had no reads at all.  I think that it is a trial and error thing and if I were to spend some time each day and write a few articles for them, I would start to see some patterns emerge.

The money – the big question is how much money have I made, right?!  I have made a whopping $0.14!  Yes, you read that right!  I have so far made only 14 cents.  Considering that payment transfer happens only once you reach $10, it may be years before I see any money EXCEPT that I only wrote on two days and have not written since then and the pennies are continuing to come in.  If I were to write a few articles a day or even several articles a week and if I were to get better at knowing which topics are the most popular, I actually could make a little bit of money with this.  There are certainly writers on this site who have written thousands of articles and who are sitting back and getting residual incomes of hundreds to thousands of dollars a month.  I researched before I started writing with them and people are making money doing this.  For now, I am not writing for money, but I think that I will try to set a goal for myself of writing a certain number of articles per week and just seeing what happens.

One of the best things about this particular online writing site is that they allow you to reuse articles that you have already written.  What is great about that is that you can take a blog post and turn it into an article and possibly make a bit of money on it and it doesn’t take any extra effort.  So we’ll see!  I’ll keep you posted.  I plan on posting an honest summary of my earnings at the end of every month.  Who knows?  Maybe if I get busy and write a few more articles, I may be up to a quarter by the end of September!!!  If any of you decide to try it, make sure you let me know how it goes.

Excuses, Excuses!

In my new plan to commit to my writing, I have given myself no room for excuses, no matter what, but I think I am going to give myself an exception for the past two weeks.  One of our daughters suffers from a severe lung condition and she has been getting worse for the past four months.  The past month, I have been making twice weekly trips with her to her Pulmonary doctor and once weekly visits to the Emergency Room.  It has been scary and exhausting.  Even under those circumstances, I was managing to find tiny bits of time for writing.  I was able to do this because I am a night owl and my kids have an early bedtime.

Last week though, Gracelyn was admitted to the Children’s Hospital for the week and I stayed there with her the whole time, so obviously, this is one excuse that I will give myself leniency for!!!  She is home now and doing considerably better, but I am giving myself this week to catch up on a few things and get some sleep before I put the writing expectation on myself again.

I did manage to write a few online articles before she went into the hospital and I will post about that experience in the next few days.

Taking another risk

Today, I am applying for an online freelance writing job.  Part of me really wanted to wait until something of mine had been published so that I would have a better chance of being chosen, but I have decided to be brave and apply anyway, reasoning that I can always reapply later if I get rejected.  For this application, I need to submit a sample of my writing in the form of something that could be a magazine article.  I have decided to rework an old blog post of mine called Mom Guilt.  So, wish me luck!  I am off to write and re-write and re-write and then second guess myself three million times before I click “send” on the application.

The Book So Far

At the end of the first week in March of this year, I sat down at the computer and began to write.  I wanted to make a record of our experiences leading up to, during, and after the Canadian adoption agency we were using went bankrupt last year while two of our children were stranded in Ethiopia with only three days of food left.  That was a very emotional time and in the days and weeks that followed, time seemed to move at lightning speed, so I wanted to get down on the page what I could before the memories started to fade.

In the beginning, I was writing the story for Elijah and Sedaya, a record to them for the future of how far we were willing to go to save them, of the depth of our love for them.  When I had written most of the story, I began to realize that perhaps this was something that I could get published.  There were only two other books in the market specific to Ethiopian adoption and there were so many families eager for more reading.  I thought that I had completed the book in April, but when I thought about having it published, I quickly realized that I would need to include chapters about our time in Ethiopia, about what we experienced of our children’s birth country.  I have added three of those chapters so far with one or two more still to write.  Most of what is written is edited, thanks to my Auntie Judy and my friend Ruth.  I also plan to add an Epilogue.

With just three chapters left to write, I am close to the end of that process, but now have a deadline for when those need to be completed.  Three weeks from now, there may be publishers asking to see the complete manuscript.  I am both incredibly nervous and excited by this possibility.  It will be an enormous challenge to complete what is left of the book in just three weeks, especially given that one of our daughters is struggling with health issues that have consumed almost all of my spare hours the past three months.  However, I tend to work well under pressure so I am facing the opportunity to knock over this barrier and get the words on the page.  I am trusting that God will help me find the words and will create pockets of time for me.  I am counting on a few sleepless nights between now and three weeks for now, but am anxious to say that the book is complete.  I’ll let you know how things progress.

Writing

I have started this new blog as a way to chronicle my attempts to write for more than just my family blog.  I am hoping that by keeping a record of my efforts, it will keep me accountable.  I have been working on my first book since the beginning of March and for the most part, had it finished by the end of April and worked on editing for the next month or two, but then life took over in the form of my oldest daughter being very ill for the last three months and I have not been able to finish the last two chapters.  It has been weeks since I have worked on my writing.  I am recommitting to my writing.  I have also decided that I will pursue other forms of writing as well.  My primary purpose in writing at this point is to raise awareness for things that I am passionate about such as adoption and to have an outlet to express myself.  In creating a new family budget the other evening though, it became apparent that if this hobby were to translate into some revenue, that would be very helpful at this point as well.

To that end, this morning, I spent some time searching online for freelance writing “gigs” and have decided that (though the thought scares me almost enough to quit before I start), I am going to pursue my writing more.

I have been blogging for five years and have loved the freedom of writing to my private, trusted audience.  The idea of having my words out there in a land of unknown readers feels very risky to me, a bit like the Emperor realizing he was naked and not wearing the fancy clothes.  I am afraid of the judgement and nervous that my fragile ego will not take well to the negative comments I am sure to receive about my life choices and opinions.  In my other blog, those who come to visit are often like me, mothers or someday-to-be-mothers, open to the possibilities of God opening doors or challenging words like “adoption”, “special needs parenting”, and “homeschooling”.  But here I am, embarking on a journey, no longer completely hiding behind my semi-private blog.

Feel free to follow along as I share honestly (that part won’t change!) about my attempts to find time to write amidst parenting and homeschooling my seven children.  I also plan to share openly about any income (or losses) that this writing brings to me.  In the research I have done in the past year about getting published in the industry or doing freelance work, it is apparent that there is very little money in writing.  I fully expect this to be a slow and discouraging road at times.  I know that there are others out there who have dreamed about making writing a reality and my hope is that I am able to encourage you in your journey by sharing mine.