Friday, March 27, 2015

Why I keep writing.

writing, heart, voice, hear me, who I am, amwriting

As anyone who blogs will tell you - it's pretty freaking awesome to see your words shared by friends and family. It's extra freaking awesome to see your words shared by people you've never met.

And to see a post go viral? Unbelievable.

Many a writer has the mindset of - that will never ever happen to me.

I know I did. I kind of still do. And I mostly still do, I'll tell you more in a minute.

And I'm right in some ways. None of my personal posts here at Good Girl Gone Redneck have gone viral. And if you ask me if I'm dreaming of a day that my blog is a household name - sure - isn't everyone? If only just a little bit?

And I know, I am the first person to say that I write for me. Because I do. I write for me. But I write for you, too. If I didn't I'd be sticking with pen and paper and keeping my thoughts private. But I'm branching out. I don't know if you've noticed, but I am. In baby steps. And I'm going to tell you why.

Because I DO want to be heard. I want to be someone who contributes beyond my own space. It's probably not as thrilling as being the person who creates that amazing space, but it's pretty awesome anyway. To be seen. Heard.

This summer I sent my first submission in to Scary Mommy. And it was accepted. When I hit send on that email I thought I was going to be sick. I don't know what got me over that hump, but I sent it in anyway. And they liked it.

Cue thought process: THEY LIKE ME! THEY REALLY LIKE ME!

Scary Mommy is the epitome of places one would like to be featured. Seriously. The site is very well-known. What more could a writer want?

Well, of course, money. Getting paid for your work would be nice. It would always be nice. Scary Mommy actually recently announced they will be paying for original content moving forward. Very cool. However, many of us want to be seen and heard, and we're not thinking about the money when we submit something.

Despite what you've heard it doesn't take away from the efforts of other bloggers to get paid for the work they do. This isn't a sponsored post. The site hasn't ASKED you to submit for them. You've made a decision. You've shared your words with hopes of getting them out there. YOUR choice. You may not always get offered money for your work, and it's your call, amazing writer that you are, if whether or not seeing your words elsewhere is enough for you.

Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't.

I submitted to Scary Mommy a few more times since that first post. One more was accepted. Many others have not been. It's okay. Rejection stings, but I'll survive.

And I'll keep going.

I recently submitted a post to a site that is sort of a dream for me.

It took time, but I got a reply and will be featured soon.

I cried.

I did. Honestly. Cried.

Because for that acceptance - in the period of time I sent the email and got word? - I got 2-3 rejections. And again, those sting. They do. No matter how many times you get them. They can chip away at your armor. Chip. Chip. Chip.

A few years ago I tried out for Listen To Your Mother. I didn't make it. I understood. I did. But it stung. And I cried. A different kind of cry. A heart-felt sad cry. Unwanted. Rejected. And I've decided for myself that putting my words out there in that way - completely raw and in person - and getting that sort of rejection isn't worth it to me. It's a different kind of chip. It's not one I can bounce back from as easily, and so I protect myself and I avoid it.

I'm a huge fan of many of the women coordinating LTYM across the country, including the two in my own area. I didn't take it personally, I still like them, still call them friends, but I also knew that to hear another no from them would cause an ache I wasn't ready for the following year. Or the year after that. And so on.

And back to viral posts. Crazy when you see the same post shared and shared and shared across your Facebook feed, isn't it? It's that post when someone reminds a mom that they're doing their best or the one where there's a reminder not to judge because you don't know what the other person is going through. I love those posts. I SHARE those posts.

But *my* viral post wasn't one of those posts.

It was a post I wrote for SITS on books.

Yes. Books.

I'm an avid reader. I have more books in my home and on my Kindle than I know what to do with. It's a bad addiction, but a very good thing. Give me a Barnes and Noble coupon and I'm all in. No matter how many books are in my to-read piles or on shelves, or, who am I kidding, on an entire (almost) bookcase.

Anyway - that post blew up. It went everywhere. It resurfaced. Authors read it. It got hundreds of thousands of Facebook shares. I'm not kidding. Okay, sorry, I am kidding. I just went to check and it's been shared on Facebook 1069K times. What? *shakes head. rubs eyes* What?

Yep. That.

I keep taking a screenshot because I just cannot believe it.

Can. NOT. Believe it.

But it's true. It's there in black and white. And color.

Me. My words. Gone pretty much everywhere.

Okay. Submit posts. Get accepted. Get rejected. Cry. Go viral. Don't. It's okay. You'll be okay.

That about covers it. Kind of - sort of. This is on its way to turning into the longest post in creation and if you got this far I thank you. I don't usually talk this much. On screen, anyway.

My point is this. If you want your words to be seen? Write them. Share them. Submit them.

Get out there and take the rejections. Sure, they'll hurt. Some more than others. Some might even make you cry. But it doesn't mean that someone else won't accept your words and before you know it you'll be taking screenshots, too, just to remind yourself that sometimes you're pretty amazing.

Which you really should know by now. Without that extra validation. And yet, we admit it, we writers? Sometimes we need that. And it's okay. We're allowed to need it and want it and crave it. As long as we remember that isn't the only reason we write. Because we do still, somewhere in there, almost all the time, have that need to write that's just for us.

It keeps us who we are.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Across My Internet: Bits and Pieces

community, emotions, motherhood, parenting, real life

I'm all over the place with the things I've been trying to write. As you'll notice, it's been a while since I've published anything. Unless you count this post over at SITS entitled: 8 Places To Submit Your Writing. That's by me. But otherwise I've been stuck. It happens. It's a weird place to be, though. And sometimes when I'm there I find amazing things to read. But even those get slow now and then.

So I'm all over the place with the reading, too. And the opening of the things I want to read, and all that's out there, leaving tabs scattered open across my screen. And I know that people say don't link your readers out to other sites, they'll leave yours and not come back! Oh no!! But that's never been my style - never been my fear - I know you guys will stick with me when you're in the mood to and if something appeals to you you'll read it, share, come back, whatever works.

So, here's what's happening on my internet this week (and last week - as I'm really slow with the motivation these days).

If you know me you've read many a post about my struggle to get fit. Or feel fit. Or find fitness. It's really rough being a mom of a girl and finding my way to feel good about myself while ensuring she recognizes her own strength, beauty and brilliance. But when it comes to body image - it's even harder. My friend Deborah wrote a beautiful and heartbreaking post about listening to little girls at ballet class talk about why they're fat. And it just about crushed me. All Little Girls Think They're Fat is a must read, especially if you're a parent of a little girl. Or a big girl. It doesn't matter the age of the girl - what matters is that she knows she's beautiful. Because she IS. Help her see that. Please.

Another thing I'm passionate about is the end of the mommy wars. I don't even want them CALLED that anymore. Seriously. Enough, right?

And I'm in an amazing moms' group on FB where these battles are non-existent. Seriously. That sort of place is real. I know, right? More on that shortly... So someone in the group shared this beautiful post today. It was on Huffington Post, but I traced it back to the original article, which is from Finding Joy - Rachel Martin's website. And the post is titled: Why we need to stop asking, "how do you do it all?" - and it's perfect.

Rachel's site is a beautiful one. With amazing Dear Mom letters. In fact, I'd read tons of them before I even knew who she was. I had a chance to meet her recently at one of her BloggingConcentrated events that was here in Raleigh, hosted by NC Blogger Network, an organization I'm proud to be part of (if you want to learn more about it read my post: NCBN. And though we didn't really get to speak much, she was sweet, honest and she knows her stuff. So I'm happy to refer y'all to read this post. Especially since many of you need to see it.

Now, back to that moms' group I love so much. It's Mama's Comfort Camp. Have you heard of it? You have to request to join, but if you do you'll be glad you did. It's a place of no judgment and no hatred. No jealousy or angst. It's a place where I can post things like I did this morning, saying I just felt like I needed to cry and there weren't defining reasons why - I just NEEDED to. And I already have an amazing handful of fellow moms relating and supporting and hugging me. I'm honored to be a part of this group - that just celebrated it's third anniversary. I'm thrilled to be a volunteer who ensures that all moms feel supported and accepted in there. Because that's how things should be.

I should probably have so much more to share this morning - or afternoon - but because I'm a little bit drained and finally DID have that cry I needed I'm going to quit where I'm at.

And I'm going to link up today with Shell's Pour Your Heart Out. Because ultimately this post wound up being more about me and how I feel about the things I'm sharing a little more or just as much as it is about the things I think you should read and know about. Does that make sense? Hope so. And if you're writing anything similar to what I'm writing? Head there and link up. Or just read. Because she's always got good things to say and share, too. And this week is no exception. Promise.

So - what have you been reading or writing about? Leave me some links so I can find you, follow you, and talk to you, too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ten Things You Need to Know About Me.

My lovely friend Tia over at BecominNeurotic tagged me in a post on Friday with some questions. And because she is quite so lovely and a sweetheart and a half, I'm open to answering them.

Her friend asked her some questions, which she answered, and then she decided to ask me and some other fun peeps some questions, too.

It's old school blogging - and it's perfect - because I'm in need of a post prompt and this seems to be it!

about me, friendships, who I am, share your thoughts, memories, motherhood

1. What would you do if you were not a blogger/writer?

For the most part I'm doing it. But not nearly enough. I am a social worker and a part of who I am always advocates for mental health causes. I volunteer for many organizations, and I work part-time from home, but a goal is to someday have a job where I can work with women face-to-face to help them overcome whatever struggles haunt them as they try to find sleep at night.

2. What is your greatest personal dream? (She said we can't say world peace - in case you were wondering why I don't give that as the response here.)

That I walk my daughter down the aisle and witness her world as she becomes a mama someday.

3. Do you have a sisterhood? A group of girls not related to who you can turn to no matter what?

I literally (love the over-use of that word, right?) have a sisterhood. I was in a sorority in college. These girls ARE my sisters. So yeah. I do. I've got friends scattered in different areas of my world. I've got incredible sisterhoods filled with friends from my youth. Friends from work. Friends from motherhood. Friends from blogging. Each aspect of my life filled with friends I have made, women I have met and loved. Poured my heart out to. Still do. And my sisters. There aren't enough words to fully describe what they mean to me.

I did try, once, though. I'll share those words and see if it makes sense:

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show with a sorority? if so, you likely know the supposed "sorority girl". But the stereotypes don't show the amazing friendships that come from the experience. The friends that show up to hug you when you need it the most. The emails, the phone calls, the notes and messages. The love. The feeling you get when you see that person who gets you, no matter how long it's been. These women? They're sisters to the core.

I'm truly blessed at the number of women I have in my life who represent family to me.

4. What is your favorite animal?

Well, we have two dogs and two cats, and my heart holds them all equally, sooo ...

5. Name your ultimate comfort meal. The meal that would heal your soul and cure the worst of days. The meal you want Willy Wonka to make into a stick of gum. With dessert.

This is a tough one. But I don't think I'd want it in a stick of gum because my senses would be on overload and I'd probably get sick. Plus, I don't think I'd make a great giant blueberry.

But if I got to pick a many-course meal it would look like this:

my dad's matzo ball soup with a full, GIANT matzo ball in it
my mom's chicken cutlet and baked ziti with loads of cheese
a Mister Softee vanilla ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles
and ... a slice or two of old school Entenmann's chocolate fudge cake

6. What actress would play you in a movie of your life? Why?

I'd have to say Drew Barrymore. I just love her bubbly way and her seemingly genuine nature. Plus she's kind of adorable. I'd hope she'd be able to be me. Although - if I were going with a more genuine body-type-match? I'd love for Adele to play me. Then, of course, I'd have to sing, too. (See question number nine!)

7. What one movie can you watch time and again?

Dirty Dancing. I haven't seen it in a while but it's always my answer to this question. Also - favorite movie of all time. It takes me back to the time I first saw it. And Patrick Swayze, people. Ahhh. My heart shattered when I learned that he had passed away. It impacted me so much I even wrote about his passing. So sad.

8. What is your favorite thing about each season?

Winter: I really do love how beautiful things look when it snows. A full-fledged blanket of snow on everything just evens it all out. And hot cocoa when you come inside after playing and your thighs are red and frozen.

Spring: My husband and I got married in April. We will be celebrating our 13th anniversary this year. On April 13th. Memories of that day are so important to me. They make me laugh, cry, and feel so so much. Spring represents that to me. Renewal. Connection. Love.

Summer: Getting out on the lake. Having a boat is a surprising joy. I absolutely love being out on the water. It just makes the entire day perfect. We set out and breathe in the fresh air, hold onto the sides of the boat as we make waves or hit someone's wake. I feel like I have no concerns when we're out there and I love that feeling.

Fall: October used to be my favorite month. Between my birthday (28th) and Halloween (31st - of course) I had two of my favorite days of the year happening in one month. October isn't quite the same for me anymore as it now holds several of my life's worst moments, but I try to hold onto the feelings that fall used to bring me. The cooler air, the nights of shorts and sweatshirts, kind of like when you walk on the beach in the chill of dusk. And that I'll always love.

9. Which 5 songs can you not get out of your head right now?

Dang - this one changes often - but I'll try to shoot you five:

* Blank Space - Taylor Swift
* Heartbeat Song - Kelly Clarkson
* Thinking Out Loud - Ed Sheeran
* I'm Not The Only One - Sam Smith
* Masterpiece - Jessie J - this one is new today after watching it on The Voice

10. Which historical figure would you like to go back in time to meet? Why?

I'm so used to answering this question with a general person from my past. And for me that answer has always been my grandfather. But differently than for most, he's the grandfather I never met. My father's father. The man I'm named after. So while he's not a historical figure, he did live through so much, and lost his first family in the war, and I have my own memories of him based on what my parents have told me.

And as many of you already would imagine, my answer to the one person in the world I'd most want to sit down and have a meal with right this second is my father. So I try to take comfort in him being reunited with his own father again. And telling him all about me.

But that's two questions, neither one that you've asked. So maybe I'll just say Cleopatra. Because that would be really cool and she could give me make-up tips. (Sorry, I had to go light there for a second. Obviously.)

So, there you have it. Ten things about me. I hope you've enjoyed them. And if you're looking for a fun prompt and want to answer some questions about yourself, feel free to steal these. Or let me know and I'll send you some. Or just make up your own. Ten facts about you you'd like to share. It's kind of fun and gives you a post idea immediately. So yay for brainstorming and friendships!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Book of the Week: The Unraveling of Mercy Louis, Keija Parssinen

Let me introduce you to The Unraveling of Mercy Louis.

And yes, if you read my last post on the five books I'm reading - you'll notice this one was missing. Because I knew I had this post coming up this week and didn't want you to think I'd truly lost it by tacking on another book to the list. I just can't help myself. I love to read.

So, with that out of the way, I can tell you why this is a book you need to read.

The flow of it is easy, the story inviting, interesting, and enticing. A whole slew of adjectives you'll find true enough when you dive into it.

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is Keija Parssinen's second novel, but the first of her work that I have read. The cover itself gnaws at me. Admittedly, it took me a few tries to pick it up because of the rope.

Look ...

book, reading, review, fiction, novel, literature, amreading,

I want to say that I'm not sure why it bothered me as it did. But I think it was a visceral response. I was worried. See a shredding rope and worry? Seems like a smart reaction. And I actually just noticed that I said it gnaws at me. My delayed thought process is that is an interesting word to use as actually the rope on the cover sort of looks gnawed ON. It's probably the "hanging on" feeling that stayed with me as I started reading. I was waiting.

Parssinen introduces us to this story with a prologue that made my stomach flip. It was barely three pages long - but it made me react with all the feels.

And that's it. I could truly leave it at that.

But what I loved most about the book were the voices.

We start with young Mercy, whose voice is fluid and I can practically hear the accent in her thoughts. The way she describes her grandmother, Maw Maw, makes her sound like a character - you know the kind? - the kind you're intrigued by, afraid of, and yet really want to know.

Also? Maw Maw has visions. That should be enough to pique your interest.

But there's more. There's Illa.

Illa seems like the kind of teenager many people can relate to. We weren't all the star player on the high school basketball team. Many of us were more like Illa. Background players.

But Illa is more than that. She's a background player with her own voice.

We meet Illa's mom, too. And Mercy's mom, who has been MIA, but makes contact early on. There's history there. It's not expected, but introduced early enough to not be unexpected, either.

The Unraveling of Mercy Louis is the kind of book you can't put down. A read that you blink, look up at the clock, and realize you've read about 50-60 pages in a heartbeat.

Because you like Mercy. You want her to maintain all that is good of herself. You even like her friend Annie, although you question what it is she might be hiding. What she hasn't yet confessed to her very best friend.

It takes time (if you're me) before you realize the weight of the title. Reading along, Mercy seems to be perfect in so many ways. And you see the ways she might be too perfect. You expect her to break. You look for signs. But then you think of the title and change your mind. You don't want to see them.

My readers know I do my best to give you as much of the story as I can without spoilers. And I don't give ratings because that's just not how I read. But I can tell you that this book is one you'll want to read. You'll want a copy.

So guess what? I'm lucky enough to have one for you. It's a simple giveaway - as my free books usually are - with a comment as an entry. And since this book is filled with teenage angst, my question for you is: who was your best friend in high school? Answer that in the comments and consider that your entry! And if you want an extra entry, just head on over and retweet the tweet below. Then come back and leave me your twitter handle so I know to look for it.

You should absolutely consider The Unraveling of Mercy Louis for your upcoming book club. There will be plenty to discuss and it's a really good book club choice, in my opinion.

Happy reading!

* I received a copy of this book directly from the author. I was not compensated for this review. All expressed opinions are completely my own. There are affiliate links in this post. *

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Five Books I'm Reading Now.

amreading, goodreads, what to read, I recommend, read with me, fiction, nonfiction, books

Are you the kind of person who reads one book at a time?

I USED to be that person.

I don't know where she went, but now I'm more along the lines of the people who read several books at once. It's not even eReader-related, because most of the books I'm reading are NOT electronic.

Which makes it rough.

They're scattered throughout the house, for sure, so that's good.

And there's one in each bathroom - pretty much - which - well - don't YOU go to the bathroom to get some reading done? No? Just me, huh? Not buyin' it.

So - I have some reviews coming up soon, but most of the books I'm reading right now are for non-review purposes. So I figured I'd share the five books on my currently reading shelf on Goodreads. And if we're not connected there we totally should be, so go find me!

nonfiction, parenting, reading, weight, health, fitness, motherhood

I started reading Helping Without Harming over a year and a half ago - at least. I'm using it more as a resource type of read, as it's something that's ongoing as a woman, and a mom of a daughter. Ellyn Satter is a well-known name in research (and books) on children's health and how, as parents, we can raise healthy children without tempering their ability to find their best weight on their own - with our encouragement along the way.

nonfiction, reading, health, emotions, sensitivity, sensory processing,

I'm currently reading The Highly Sensitive Person with some friends. We each feel that we would fall in this book somewhere. It's a read in bits and pieces kind of book - but really quite informative. Helping me pinpoint aspects of myself that I see immediately in the descriptions given by Dr. Aron. Reasons behind my sensitivity to sounds, why my eyes tighten at noise, and so much more. I'm not nearly as deep into it as I'd like to be - admittedly this has turned into a *bathroom read* more often than not.

nonfiction, reading, 20s, youth, college years, relatable topics, short stories

The 20 Project is a book I'm reading to review. I'll hold off on saying too much so you'll stick around for that full review when it comes - but the book is a collection of stories, wisdom and advice from the other side of 20. And yes, I'm on that other side - obviously - but it's still an enjoyable read!

nonfiction, reading, women's books, motherhood, nourishment, healing

I won a copy of Nourished in a blog giveaway and was looking forward to diving right in. Which is why this is on my currently reading list already. Maybe it was the cover? It's so soothing, isn't it? So far I've been enjoying the book. There are a few religious mentions that don't necessarily apply to me, but that doesn't take anything away from the book and the ideas and advice given by the authors. So far I feel as though the book is teaching me to nourish myself - kind of sort of - so I am enjoying it. 

amreading, reading, fiction, novel, entertaining, goodreads

I'm reading Secrets of a Charmed Life with an online book club I'm LOVING. My friend Andrea of Great Thoughts has a Facebook group where we talk loads of books and it's been great fun. And this book has, as well. From the first chapter I've been in. Thing is that it's making me stop reading all the other books I kind of have to read ... like for reviews. Mega-oops. But I think it's totally worth it because the story is really good. Really, really good. I'm only about 100 pages in - and I'm already a big fan. 

So - there you have it - those are the books I reach for when I find a few minutes, or hours if I'm lucky, of reading time. 

What are you reading these days? Anything I should add to my list?

* This post has affiliate links scattered throughout. So if you happen to use them to make your purchase on Amazon I'll earn a few pennies towards my next book. And yes - you want to help me get more books - I'm sure of it! * 
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