Category Archives: Writing

Sending My Book Into the Wide Wide World

On Tuesday, November 17, I woke up feeling grumpy. All these little things were going wrong in my life. My books still had not arrived, even though I’d told everyone that November 16 was my official release date. I’d been heavily exposed to Covid, and still didn’t have my test results back, so I was wearing a mask whenever I wasn’t in my bedroom. That got old really fast. And finally, Oregon was going into another lockdown. It made sense, with Thanksgiving coming up, but it also made life complicated.

I guess today is technically our Thanksgiving, I thought to myself. We were celebrating early, both because of the impending lockdown and because Steven had to work Thanksgiving day.

Then the verse “give thanks in all circumstances” popped into my head, and I felt a wave of guilt. I’d been grumpy and grouchy for days, not feeling very thankful at all.

Today I’ll choose to be thankful in all circumstances, I thought. And then, it turned out just like a Sunday School story. Once I decided to be thankful, everything started going right for once.

First, I got the news that I was Covid-free. Yay!

Then, I got the news that my books had arrived! I pulled on some clothes, and mom and I drove down to the warehouse in our terrible minivan. They had just been unloaded, all those boxes and boxes of books, sitting on a pallet and shrink-wrapped together.

Seeing my books for the first time was such an amazing feeling. I’d worked so hard for this. And here it was. A book. Tangible evidence that I’d created something, in all those hours I spent at my computer.

Then I went home and started packing up orders. I’d allowed people to pre-order the book, because I thought that would be more efficient. And it would have been if my books had arrived, say, even four or five days before my release date, as I thought they would. But since they arrived after the release date, I had a bit of a scramble, getting them all out.

I finally had to take a break so that I could help make Thanksgiving dinner.

Wednesday was pretty magical. I went to the post office and mailed about 1/3 of the pre-orders, as well as several full boxes to bookstores and distributers. “You have so many packages. You must own a small business,” said a woman in line behind me.

I explained that I’d published a book, and she, as well as the other gentleman in line behind me, were so excited for me. They told me all about the Mennonites they knew. And she ended up, several weeks later, buying two of my books and writing me a really sweet letter.

Now, 2020 has been a really hard year for me. I know this isn’t remotely unique in these times, but between Covid stuff, Dad’s accident, and other tragic events in the community, I just feel so fragile and worn down this fall. I clung to my book as the one good thing that was going to come out of 2020. And it has been really good and really happy. Still, it has also been a bit more than I could handle sometimes. And by Thursday, I’d overworked myself so thoroughly that I got sick.

This added a whole new layer of complication, because it was only 11 days since my Covid exposure. I didn’t think it was Covid, and yet I felt like I should quarantine just in case, so I had to try to trade favors with my family members to get them to take my books to the post office for me. And then Mom went to the warehouse again to fetch more books, and the terrible van died. It really was a dramatic day.

Still, with the help of my family, I managed to get caught up on orders by Saturday. I never got re-tested for Covid. I guess the testing system was overloaded that Friday, because I couldn’t get through to urgent care. But it really didn’t seem like Covid, and getting Covid 11 days after exposure is pretty rare. Besides, I’d just gotten a negative test. I concluded that I’d gotten sick by overworking myself, because that’s fairly typical for how my body works, unfortunately.

In the days since then, I’ve mostly felt grateful and overwhelmed. Somehow with website stuff, sending out orders, trying to figure out international shipping, giving up on international shipping and deciding that I need to figure out how to make a Kindle book instead, etc etc etc, I’ve felt like I just can’t keep up with the marketing things I intended to do. I’ve hardly done blog posts and Instagram posts. I haven’t done any giveaways yet. I haven’t done promotional livestreams or blog tours or anything like that.

However–and I’m so deeply grateful for this–so many people have stepped up and done all these little promotional things for me. Posting about my book on their Instagram stories and Facebook, so all I have to do is click “share” and I’ve done a little promotion right there. Chris Miller made me a book trailer. But mostly, people have been buying the book, and that means a lot. I mean, I know it’s pandemic times and a lot of people can’t afford to buy books right now and that’s totally understandable and fine.

But a lot of people have bought my book, and the idea that people care about my words enough to purchase them…well, wow. It’s just incredible, really.

So, thank you.

P.S. I called my book the One Good Thing of 2020, but that was kind-of a brain fart because, hello. Matt and Phoebe’s wedding. That was also a Good Thing of 2020. So I guess there were two good things, haha.

You can order my book here.

You can find me on

Instagram: @emilytheduchess

Twitter: @emilysmucker

Facebook: facebook.com/emilysmuckerblog

YouTube: youtube.com/emilysmucker

Patreon: patreon.com/emilysmucker (This is where I post bonus blog posts, about more personal/controversial subjects, for a subscription fee of $1 a month [or more if you’re feeling generous]. I try to post twice a month. My latest two posts were titled My Thoughts on the Election and With Honor)

The Story Behind the Book Trailer

With all the ill health, tragedies, and general unpleasantness of 2020, I didn’t have the energy to make the Big Splash with my book release that I’d hoped to make. There was no launch party, not even a virtual one. Currently there are no book signings planned. When I finally had a release date and a pre-order link, all I did to launch it was post a picture to my Instagram and a picture to my Facebook.

That’s all.

But I was so amazed and blessed by all the ways people stepped up and supported me; they shared pre-order links, and commented their congrats, and seemed happy and willing to help promote my new book.

That very day I got a text from my friend Chris Miller, offering to make me a book trailer. (Chris is married to my cousin/BFF Stephy, and is a very creative person. We’ve collaborated on projects before, most notably the Christmas play last year.)

Chris came over the next morning and we sat on the porch and discussed themes and camera angles. He wanted to go for a golden hour autumn look, so the plan was to shoot an interview the next day, and then get together on Saturday to film some b-roll footage.

Unfortunately the next day was foggy. Not the golden sunlight look we were going for. That’s fine, we’ll just cram it all into the Saturday photo shoot. That will work, right?

Saturday morning found me frantically washing the bird poop off my car and the mud off my red rubber boots, and cramming all my stray car junk (including a beard and cane from that previously mentioned Christmas play) into some brightly-colored suitcases I found in the attic. Chris showed up around 11 am with everything…camera, microphones, lighting, a script-ish thing (shot list? I forget the official name), etc. He had this whole vision for the video. It was so much fun.

First there were shots of me walking out the door with my luggage, which was harder than you’d think because they were heavy with all the junk from my car. Also, I was trying to juggle a suitcase, a duffle bag, a mug of tea, and my red rubber boots. I was supposed to heave an excited sigh at the top of the steps, which sounds easy enough, but just try it once. Try heaving an exciting sigh that doesn’t sound silly. Are you trying it right now? It sounds silly, doesn’t it?

Yeah. We decided I should take a sip of tea instead.

Then there were shots of me packing up my car, which was when I noticed that I’d done a pretty bad job of washing it. Oops. But Chris said no one would notice, and truly, when I watched the video, I didn’t.

After that it was the drone shots, first of me driving down our road, and then of me crossing the Harrisburg bridge.

By this time it was long past lunch, and when we stopped to pick Stephy up I begged her for some snacks. Ha. She obligingly fixed me some sausage and crackers, and we were off, this time with Stephy in tow to hold the clipboard and cross off the shots as we did them. We were headed to Finley Wildlife Refuge to get some hiking shots.

Well, before that there was this treacherous GoPro shot. It was suctioned to the outside of my driver’s-side window, and Chris wanted me to roll down my window while driving. This was all well and good except I wasn’t supposed to look at the camera. I was terrified of rolling it down too far, so that the GoPro would become un-suctioned, snap off my window, and go bouncing and rolling down the road.

But everything was fine, and the GoPro stayed firmly in place, even though I did roll it down a little too far once.

At Finley, a few casual wildlife-refuge-goers watched us with increasing interest. After we’d filmed for a bit, they approached us. “Can we ask what you’re doing?”

“I wrote a book called The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea, about a trip I took around the USA living in a different Mennonite community every month,” I said. “It’s coming out on November 16, and Chris here is filming a book trailer for me.”

The older of the two pulled out his phone. “What was the name of it again?” he asked.

I told him, and he tapped it in. Either that or he was just pretending to, so as not to be awkward. I don’t really know. In either case, he then asked, “will it be on Kindle? I kind-of like just reading books on my phone.”

I told him that for now it’s not, but in the future, who knows? I guess I’ll ask you readers…do you have interest in a Kindle version of my book?

Anyway, after that it was a lot of hiking shots. These were mostly fairly straightforward, although there was one where he balanced precariously on a sign, held the camera out over the path, and filmed me as I walked underneath it.

Through all of this, Stephy was there with the clip board. “Does this remind you of all the times I used to coerce you into making weird little films with me?” I asked her.

She laughed. “Kinda, yeah.”

It was getting late, and we still needed to film the interview. “What do you think?” Chris asked. “Should we film here in the woods, or on your front porch? Which would fit the vibe of your book better?”

“I don’t know,” I said. Then, for some reason I started describing the photoshoot Janane had taken for my book cover and promotional photos. She’d done some photos of me in nature, some with my car, some in the city, and some in a coffee shop. “That’s it!” said Chris. “We need a coffee shop. Should we drive into Junction City and film at Starbucks?”

“I feel like we don’t have the time,” I said. “What if we stopped somewhere in Monroe?” Monroe was the next town we’d pass through on our way home.

“Yes, let’s do that,” said Chris, making a snappy decision. We went to our cars and drove out of there, me following Chris, Stephy in Chris’ passenger seat googling for coffee shops in Monroe.

I guess there are no coffee shops in Monroe, though, because all we really found was the library.

It would have given a similar vibe, I think. After all, I did just as much writing in libraries on this trip as I did in coffee shops. Maybe more. But as Chris set up his multiple cameras, fancy lights, and three types of microphones, the sun slowly slid behind the Coast Range. I shivered in the cold October twilight.

Photo by Stephanie Miller for Brantbury Studio

The interview went fairly well. I enjoy talking to a camera, and Chris had emailed me, several days previously, with the questions that he wanted me to answer. The only problem was that Chris kept asking me new questions, or questions worded slightly differently.

“So, why should people read your book?”

“Um…because…I think they’ll like it? This wasn’t on your list of questions!”

“It wasn’t?”

“No, you asked…” I flipped through my notebook. “You asked what I hoped people would get from this book.”

“Oh, well what do you hope people will get from this book?”

“I hope reading this book will inspire people to try new things, to reach out to strangers, to reach out to their family, and overall, to pursue what really matters in life,” I said. But see, I couldn’t have thought of those things on the fly. Goodness.

By the time we wrapped up it was really quite dark. “If the lack of lighting becomes an issue with this footage, would you have time to re-shoot next week?” Chris asked.

“Sure,” I said. Privately I also wanted more practice on what I was going to say.

We shot the interview again on Monday, at Max Porter’s in Junction City. Well, we were planning to shoot at Max Porter’s, but then a couple sat down in our shot and we moved to the outdoor seating area of the bar next door. “No one will know,” said Chris. “I’ll blur out the words on the door.”

Chris had arrived at Max Porter’s, hurried and dusty from a different video shoot at my Uncle’s pellet mill. “The lighting is just right!” he’d exclaimed, and he’d pulled out one camera and one microphone. No tripods, no extra lighting, and no cables needed. He wasn’t going to let the sun disappear before he got his shot.

This time it was such a simple, smooth process. I’d taken notes on the previous interview and just written down everything I wanted to say. So Chris didn’t ask questions at all, just turned on the camera and sat there while I rattled off my entire monologue several times.

And that was it! By Wednesday he had the first draft to me, and after I made some suggestions, he sent the second draft to me on Friday. Or was it Thursday? It was super fast. I had to watch it quickly, before I went out of service, because I spent last weekend in the Colorado mountains.

Anyway. Please, if you want a promotional video for your business, check out Chris’ company, Brantbury Studio. It was a fun, collaborative experience with great results.

And of course, if you want to pre-order my book, you can do so here.

Find Me On

Instagram: @emilytheduchess

Twitter: @emilysmucker

Facebook: facebook.com/emilysmuckerblog

YouTube: youtube.com/emilysmucker

Patreon: patreon.com/emilysmucker (This is where I post bonus blog posts, about more personal/controversial subjects, for a subscription fee of $1 a month [or more if you’re feeling generous]. I try to post twice a month. My latest two posts were titled Thank You, and Chapter 1 of The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea. I’m currently working on a post about the election.)

The Story Behind The Story

Photo by Janane Nguyen Photography

Yesterday I got the news that my books have been printed. Soon they’ll be shipped to me, and then I’ll start packaging up and sending out the pre-orders. Yay!!!

Today, I thought I’d share the story behind the story. How did I come to write this book?

According to my Google Docs archives, I started it on March 8, 2019. At 1:01 pm EST, I opened a new document and typed:

“I’ll drive if you’ll give me this coffee,” I said.

There were about two inches left in my sister Amy’s paper cup of gas station coffee. It was cold. But I wasn’t drinking it for the coffee, I was drinking it for the caffeine. 

“Okay,” said Amy.

From The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea

But in my memory, I started the book six days before that, on a cold dark evening, as I was driving north on that long road that stretches between Lancaster City and Myerstown. I was thinking about death, and life, and love. I’d spent the last four days with some of my dearest friends as they grieved the loss of their cousin Ian, and I’d seen grief so up close, so raw.

And then, a song came on the radio. “Love Alone is Worth the Fight,” by Switchfoot.

I listened, and in my mind a movie played, of all the pain and heartache I’d witnessed in the past four days. They were hurt so deeply only because they’d loved Ian so much, and yet, it was all worth it to them. They never regretted loving him so much.

Because love alone is worth the fight.

I’d been traveling for six months at this point, and the whole time I’d had a vague idea that I would probably write a book about this experience. But up until now, the trip seemed like a random assortment of haphazard events, the most interesting of which I could never write about. (Yes, I did have some romantic drama. No, I didn’t write about any of it.)

But now, I had something. A vague ghost of a theme. Something that went a little deeper than “I did this crazy thing, and then I did that thing, and then I locked my keys in my car again.”

I’m going to start this book, I decided. And six days later, I did just that. Those exact words are in my book now, only on page 5 instead of page 1. (Also, with a couple of light edits. “My sister” was deleted, and the last “said” was changed to “agreed.”)

Despite the fact that my first words made it into the final draft relatively unscathed, most of that first draft wasn’t so lucky. I began it with only a vague idea that I had something deeper to say about my trip, but I didn’t have a firm grasp on the themes.

Partly just because I wasn’t even finished with the trip yet.

It’s kind-of funny, actually. When I returned to Oregon on June 8, 2019, I thought the trip was over. It hadn’t been a calendar year, but it had been a school year. By August I was starting on my second draft.

But then at the end of August, Grandpa had a stroke, and I flew to Minnesota to help care for him in his last days.

By this point I’d found the real opening line of my book: “When Justin shoveled dirt onto his son’s grave, it rattled like thunder.” (It was actually a line from my diary, originally.)

Because that’s how my story really began: not with asking my sister for her coffee, but with me, at a funeral, on the day I’d planned to leave Oregon. My cousin Justin’s son, little Asher Kai, was stillborn a week before his due date. He passed away on September 11, 2018, and his funeral was on September 15. I left for my trip on September 16.

A year later, on September 11, 2019, my 102-year-old grandpa passed away. His funeral was on September 15, and I left Minnesota and came back to Oregon on September 16.

This, I decided, was the real end of my trip, and I added two chapters accordingly.

Still, figuring out the themes didn’t come naturally to me. For that, I have to deeply thank my friend/editor Janessa Miller. I know that there can be all sorts of issues with hiring your friends, but I so needed my editor to also be my friend. Someone I could honestly and openly talk about my feelings with.

It was she who forced me to really look deeper into my story, not just as a series of disconnected events, but as events that I had feelings about. Events that shaped me, and changed me. (I’m an enneagram 5 and feelings are hard. Not because I don’t have them, but because it feels weird to talk about them. And also, I don’t always know I’m having feelings while I’m having them. I have to think about it for a while first.)

(Example: during my whole trip, I never realized that I was lonely. I didn’t discover it until I started writing about it, and sending drafts to Janessa, and hearing her say, “but how did that make you feel?”)

By the third draft, with the help of Janessa, I’d finally ironed out the themes.

The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea is a story of adventure, exploration, identity, heritage, community, faith, and loss. Follow Emily’s story as she embarks on the road trip of a lifetime, haphazardly finding her way through community after community in an attempt to figure out where she truly belongs.

From The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea

In total, I wrote five drafts of the book, although I’m not sure if the last two “count” as drafts.

The first draft was just a brain dump of events. It was also incomplete, since I “finished” it before my trip had technically “ended.” It took me five months to write, but I took it pretty slow.

The second draft was the hardest. It took me six months, and then I sent it to Janessa for her first round of edits.

The third draft took 2 1/2 months, and then I sent it to Janessa for a second round of edits.

The fourth draft took 22 days. It was just polishing up a lot of little things. Then I sent it to the proofreader, and I also sent bits of the book to all the people I’d written about, just in case they were uncomfortable with anything I’d said about them.

The fifth draft, which was just correcting all the little things the proofreader had found and adjusting a few things people had asked me to change, took 15 days.

And then, on August 8, 2020, it was done!

That is the story behind the story of my book, The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea. Sometime soon I’d like to tell the story behind the cover. And also, I’d like to tell my self-publishing story. So there are two future blog posts you can look forward to.

***

Pre-order My Book Here

Find Me On

Instagram: @emilytheduchess

Twitter: @emilysmucker

Facebook: facebook.com/emilysmuckerblog

YouTube: youtube.com/emilysmucker

Patreon: patreon.com/emilysmucker (This is where I post bonus blog posts, about more personal/controversial subjects, for a subscription fee of $1 a month [or more if you’re feeling generous]. I try to post twice a month. My latest two posts were titled Thank You, and Chapter 1 of The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea. I think I’ll write about the election next, if I’m brave enough!)

The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea

Yes. It’s true.

After months of delays, I finally have a release date for my book: November 16, 2020. You can pre-order it now on our brand new website.

It’s been a journey, but honestly, this book is one of the greatest achievements of my life. I’ve never, ever done a project like this. (It was completely different from writing my first book, which I might elaborate on in a future blog post).

Anyway, here is the back cover summary:

When Emily Smucker decided to spend a year traveling around the United States, living in a different Mennonite community every month, the world seemed exciting and limitless. She was ready to find her place in the world and begin her career as a freelance writer and editor.

Emily’s trip took many surprising twists and turns: visiting an Amish church in Ohio, swapping travel stories with homeless people in Delaware, and attending far more funerals than she expected. But through the adventure and excitement as well as loss and loneliness, Emily clung to her faith, experiencing a deep connection with her Heavenly Father.

The Highway and Me and My Earl Grey Tea is a story of adventure, exploration, identity, heritage, community, faith, and loss. Follow Emily’s story as she embarks on the road trip of a lifetime, haphazardly finding her way through community after community in an attempt to figure out where she truly belongs.

***

Thank you guys for following along with me on my journey. I appreciate you endlessly.

Fire, Book Problems, and Other Things that Stress Me Out

If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted in a month, there are two very specific reasons:

  1. I’ve been stressed out
  2. I’ve been waiting to post until I could give an actual release date and pre-order link for my book.

When I last posted, I thought I’d be able to give this information within a week or so. But self-publishing is a journey, especially when you’re doing it for the first time. And one leg of the journey, which I expected to take less than a week, has now taken over a month.

So. I’m not releasing my book on September 16 after all. Maybe…October sometime?

If nothing else goes wrong, I’ll be able to make an official release date within a week or so. But it’s 2020, so WHO KNOWS WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.

August in Oregon is a hot, dry, dead sort of month. Burn bans become even more severe than usual. Some years we have wildfires, and some years, when the wind is right, a haze of smoke drifts in from a distant fire, making the whole world look like an Instagram filter.

For some reason, I expected we’d have an Instagram filter August this year. Maybe because of how hot and dry it was. Maybe because I heard there were fires in California. Or maybe just because it’s 2020. I expected it, but we had clear, non-smoky skies instead.

But then on Monday, September 7, I looked at the sky at suppertime and said, “does it look a bit smoky out there to you?”

“Maybe a little,” said my sisters.

We cleaned the dishes, and Mom and Dad went out onto the porch to talk to some guests. Jenny took a walk. I went into my room and got on my computer.

Perhaps 20 minutes later, I started smelling smoke. That’s odd. Then Jenny came rushing in. “Emily! Look out your window!”

I looked, and the smoke was coming in, whirling in whitish-gray swirls over the fields. I couldn’t believe it. Never had I seen smoke descend upon us in so hasty a manner.

I grabbed my camera and went outside. The east wind blew, weirdly and warmly and furiously. The guests, choked by the sudden smoke, had to come inside despite it still being Covid times. And then, not long after they eventually left, the electricity went off. I spent the evening trying to sort out book problems using Dad’s hotspot and whatever was left of my laptop battery.

I woke up the next morning with an odd uncertainty about what time it was. Confused, I looked out my window.

It was 9:00 am, and the world was orange.

The funny thing is, you might know more about the Oregon fires than I do. I try to keep up, and then I stop, too overwhelmed to try and make sense of them all. Little towns I’ve visited here and there, up in smoke. Beloved hiking spots on fire. Friends and acquaintances evacuating. So many people evacuating.

My house, surrounded by ploughed fields and farmers who own water trucks, isn’t really in danger. We stay inside, for the most part, charging our phones in case the electricity goes off again.

Tuesday was orange. Wednesday was gray. Thursday and Friday were thicker gray. Today I took Dad in for physical therapy, and the air in Eugene was even thicker than the air in Harrisburg, borderline yellow.

And it was frigid. This week was supposed to be sunny and hot, in the 80s, 90s, even 100s, but I suppose if you block the sun long enough, the air cools down.

On a semi-related note, this spring I bought a camera with my Patreon money, because I wanted to make YouTube videos. Sometimes I take pictures with it too, whenever I need something nice for my blog or Instagram. (Turns out it’s much easier to take passable photographs with a nice camera than with a cell phone.)

When the sky turned orange, I grabbed my real camera. My cell phone was not capturing the true color. I went downstairs, intending to go outside and snap away. But then I saw Dad, sitting between the window and the patio doors, working on his computer. It was dark, because the electricity was out, and the blue of the screen light on his face contrasted with the fiery orange out the windows.

I snapped a picture.

When I looked at it, I thought it was quite a nice picture. It seemed to sum up the trauma and drama of 2020, since Dad’s arm was in a sling. “It’s only missing a mask,” I told Mom, showing her the picture.

“Hey, I should put mine on him!” she said. She’d been wearing her mask around the house. Since the electricity was off, the air wasn’t being filtered, and it was getting rather smoky inside as well.

Mom put her mask on Dad. “Your ears!” she said, trying to work the mask loops over them. “I never realized how floppy they are!”

Longsuffering as ever, Dad went on with his computer work, now masked. I snapped one more picture, and put it on Facebook and Instagram. Mom shared it.

And people have said extremely kind things about it. One person even asked if I ever considered a career in photojournalism. Which I found funny, because photography has always been my least favorite part of blogging. I’m a words girl.

But maybe I should have more of a growth mindset about it. It was fun, after all, to see something cool, take a picture of it, and have the picture look cool too. So if you know of any photography-learning-for-beginners resources, sent them my way. I don’t think I’ll ever be a photographer, but I might become a blogger with better pictures.

Anyway. Life is stressful, but I will publish this book. I am determined. It will be a good thing to happen in 2020, after so many bad things, and I am here for it.

Find Me On

Instagram: @emilytheduchess

Twitter: @emilysmucker

Facebook: facebook.com/emilysmuckerblog

YouTube: youtube.com/emilysmucker

Patreon: patreon.com/emilysmucker (This is where I post bonus blog posts, about more personal/controversial subjects, for a subscription fee of $1 a month. My latest two posts were titled Crisis to Crisis and The Power of “Sorry.”)

Update on Everything

Part 1: Update On My Book

Self-publishing is a process, I’ll tell you that.

Throughout the past couple months, I’ve been finished with the writing part of my book, and just trying to figure out everything else: Hiring a photographer, having a photo shoot, hiring a cover designer, hiring a copy editor/proofreader, sending out portions of my book to 26 people I’d written about (just in case they had any objections/corrections), choosing a printer, and hiring someone to format the interior. Whew!

Finally, over the weekend I made ALL the final corrections. Most of these were from my copy editor/proofreader, so I just had to click “accept, accept, accept” a lot. Although there were a few larger issues I had to think through, like giving a bit of explanation about words like “Beachy” and “Anabaptist.”

Then, I had to make all the corrections from the 26 people I’d written about. Well, maybe only about 10 of them issued corrections, and most of those corrections were pretty small, but sometimes it took a bit of brain power to make the narrative still flow well.

But finally it was done. Done! Hands shaking, I sent it off to the printer.

I still have a few hurdles to jump through, and I don’t know when I’ll have books in hand. But hopefully before too long I’ll be able to announce the cover, official release date, and pre-order link.

Part 2: Update On My Dad

IMG_4921 (2)

I feel like a lot of my life is still oriented around caring for Dad, but there aren’t really a lot of updates to give.

His right hand is healing very well, and his legs and feet are great, so he could really do almost everything for himself if it wasn’t for his left arm and his neck. He still can’t lift his left arm. And his neck brace prevents him from fully watching his feet as he walks. So he can walk around the house with his arm in a sling, but on the road, where it’s more uneven, he needs to use his walker still.

Part 3: Update On My Family

IMG_4926 (2)

My family is in this very interesting stage of life right now. I never thought we’d be a family that all lived in the same area, and yet, here we are.

Jenny, Amy, and I live in the upstairs rooms of our house, while Mom and Dad inhabit the downstairs. Steven was downstairs too for a while, but he moved to Corvallis to live with Ben so that we could have a guest room again. One or the other of them often comes down and spends a night in the guest room.

And Matt and Phoebe are in an Airstream in the yard. I love having them so close.

Part 4: Update On My Life

At the end of my year of travel, I decided to stay in Oregon at least until I could get my health and finances somewhat sorted out. I had basically no travel scheduled between September and February, but after that I had a lot of random stuff I was going to do, like take a trip to India, and take a trip to Italy, and maybe live in Houston for a while.

Of course Covid canceled all my plans, but on the other hand, the health and money angles of my life are much more optimistic. I have all kinds of ideas about what fun stuff I want to do as soon as I can get myself properly vaccinated.

For now, I find myself deeply content despite my circumstances. I miss adventures, but I know this lifestyle is temporary. Between Covid and Dad’s accident, I’m in a unique stage of life. The adventures can wait.

I enjoy having family so near. I enjoy all the visitors who come sit on our porch and chat. And besides that, publishing a book makes me feel so creatively fulfilled. Which brings a deeper, more lasting contentment than adventures do.

*****

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Twitter: @emilysmucker

Facebook: facebook.com/emilysmuckerblog

YouTube: youtube.com/emilysmucker

Patreon: patreon.com/emilysmucker

 

Update on My Book: Title, Release Date, Etc

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well well well. I filmed and edited a video to post today, but sometimes it takes ages to upload YouTube videos. And today is one of those days. It’s been uploading all afternoon and evening, and it’s only at 23%.

So for my last April Blogging Challenge post, I’ll cover another topic.

On my last post, Norlene asked for an update on my book. Honestly, I love it when people ask me that question. It’s such a huge part of my life, but I never know how much people really want to hear about the topic.

For those who haven’t been following my book-writing/publishing journey, here’s the deal: Last year I went on a trip where I drove around the USA, living in a different Mennonite community every month. This year, I’ve been working on a book about that journey.

The two questions I get asked most often are, “what is the title of your book?” and “when will it be released?” I’ve kinda avoided answering those questions, because I’ve been afraid that I’ll change my mind. But my mind has been pretty consistent for several months now, so I think I can go ahead with them.

Title of my book: The Highway and Me and my Earl Grey Tea

Most likely release date: September 16, 2020

September 16 is a significant date, because I began the trip on September 16, 2018, and ended it on September 16, 2019. Since I have the bulk of the memoir completed, I think I should reasonably be able to have copies in hand ready to ship by that date.

However, I don’t want to PROMISE promise that it will be released on September 16, because I’ve never done this before. Self-publishing, I mean. For my first book I had a “traditional” publisher who took care of all that. Between getting the cover done and getting it printed and getting it formatted and making sure everyone is okay with me saying what I have to say about them, I’m afraid that something random will take way longer than I expect it to.

As far as the writing goes, I have the bulk of it done, but there are still things to do. I worked like crazy during January and February to finish my second draft, and my editor, Janessa Miller, finished her first round of edits on March 7. And then on March 9 she had a baby. The plan was for me to take the next six weeks and finish the third draft.

That shouldn’t have been hard. The third draft wasn’t nearly as intense as the second draft. But somehow I really was thrown for a loop with COVID-19. I took on all kinds of projects, and I had emotional breakdowns, and honestly I really wasn’t doing very well.

Part of the dynamic was that writing my book was much more emotional than I’d thought it would be. Initially, I wrote it much like an extended blog post, listing all the fun and wacky adventures I had. But Janessa pushed me further. “What did you feel about this?” she kept asking.

It was so strange for me, combing through my memories and feeling my feelings. Actually very intense and emotionally exhausting. Turns out I was much lonelier than I’d ever realized.

At the same time, due to a series of events that are still too personal to post about in this public space, I ended up leaving the church I’d grown up in. This made my feelings of loneliness even more intense, especially because I didn’t have time to fully plug into another church before the lockdown hit.

All that to say, even though draft 3 shouldn’t have been nearly as intense to create as draft 2, I ended up taking a break to fully work though all my emotions and feelings.

Once I’m done with draft 3, Janessa will do a line edit, and then after I fix all those mistakes it will be copy-edited/proofread, and then once those problems are fixed it will be ready to print. I think. Only I also have to get cover photos taken, get a cover designed, hire a printer, get someone to format it, figure out my marketing strategy, and probably ten more things I’m currently forgetting.

(Which, btw, if you happen to be good at copy editing or cover design, or know someone who is, feel free to drop me an email at Jemilys@gmail.com. I’m planning to pay a fair wage for these tasks, obviously. But I feel like I have to make that clear because we are Mennonites after all, LOL.)

Let’s see, anything else? I did start on a novel while I was waiting to get my edits back from Janessa. I thought that I could be a Real Book Writer and start in on another book while in the process of publishing the first. Which was a nice idea in theory, but then I decided to do All The Other Projects and the novel was the easiest one to put aside for now. So currently I’m only working on one book, and that is The Highway and Me and my Earl Grey Tea.

And oh, I almost forgot! Mom is also publishing some books this year, and we’d talked about doing a book tour this fall, hitting most of the places I went to on my trip, as well as some other Mennonite communities. And maybe that will still happen, but at this point I highly doubt it. I mean anything is possible I guess. I’m sure things won’t be nearly as locked down this fall as they are today, but I have a hard time imagining that anything like a book tour, with all its travel and gatherings of people, will be safe before we get a vaccine.

But again, who knows anything about the future at this point.

This has been my last post in the April Blogging Challenge 2020. It’s been a fun ride, but now I have to get back to my edits, haha. Be sure to check out Mom’s blog for her latest post, which is an interview with my Aunt Rebecca, who’s a hospice nurse working with COVID-19 patients in Chicago. Mom will post again tomorrow to close out the challenge.

Thanks for reading. Maybe we’ll do this again next year, and maybe we won’t. Maybe by next April the world will be vaccinated enough to provide adequate herd immunity, and we’ll be doing an April Book Tour instead. Who knows what the future holds!

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

In interviews, authors are often asked to give writing advice. And they always say the same thing. “Read a lot and write a lot.” I always feel frustrated by that answer. I mean yes, to be good at something you have to practice doing that thing. But that’s not real advice.

But every once in a while I find some writing advice that’s real, legitimately helpful advice. I collect it in the back of my brain, and today I’m going to share it with you.

1. Tell stories out loud, and pay attention to when people start to get bored.

I am sorry to say that I can’t remember where I picked up this gem. I know that a writer said it, and I know that as soon as I heard it I felt a rush of excitement that I was hearing something besides “read more and write more.”

But even better, I tried it, and it works.

When you tell a story out loud, you can watch when people’s eyes flicker with boredom. Those are the parts you should omit. Or maybe just switch to a different part of the story. If a dog was howling the whole time you had a funny conversation with a stranger, is it better to mention that fact at the beginning of the story, or the end? There’s only one way to find out: tell it to your mom one way and your brother the other way, and see who giggles more.

It’s easiest, of course, to use this strategy with actual stories that truly happened to you. But telling stories out loud and watching your audience carefully will help you hone better comedic timing in your fiction writing as well as your nonfiction. I mean, it gives you a better sense of timing in general. A better sense of what parts of the story to say when.

2. “That’s a Problem for Future You.”

This was the standout quote from Ally Carter’s book Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book? I don’t remember the exact context of the quote, unfortunately. But essentially, as writers, we get hung up on a lot of “problems” that aren’t actually problems for “now” us, they’re problems for “future” us.

For instance: “Will a publisher take my book seriously?” If you haven’t even finished writing the book, that’s a problem for future you.

Or, “I have a wonderful idea, but I’m not sure if I should put it in my current mediocre project, or if I should save it for my future amazing project.” If you run out of wonderful ideas, that’s a problem for future you. Right now, use everything you have to make your current project as good as possible.

3. Practice your writing skills by blogging

This is the advice I always gave back when I was a teenage author and kept getting interviewed by random publications I’d never heard of and they always asked me what writing advice I had to offer their readers.

I still stand by it. Although now I’d modify it and say, write long Instagram captions. Or, post long status updates on Facebook. Pick your platform of choice, and get wordy.

The point is, this is the Internet. You will immediately know what resonates with people and what doesn’t. And that feedback will be incredibly helpful in honing your craft.

(Of course you may also pick up some bad writing habits, like making extremely short paragraphs, that will be hard to unlearn and will be exactly wrong for some types of writing, like academic papers. Oops. I definitely got called out for that one in college, multiple times, LOL.)

4. “You can make a career doing something even if you’re not the Brittany Spears of it.” 

This advice came from one of my favorite youtubers, Safiya Nygaard, in an interview with Philip DeFranco, another one of my favorite youtubers. She was talking about creative careers, and how we’re often cautioned against them, or told that it’s an unrealistic dream. But there are actually more opportunities for careers in those fields than you might think. They’re just not always super glamorous careers.

And I mean, writing is the perfect example of this. There are so many ways to work with words. You can do copy editing, or marketing writing, or you can write children’s plays, or be a journalist, or write songs, or do line edits, or write magazine articles. The opportunities are vast, and so, so many people make their living by writing.

Being a writer is not an impossible dream. It’s very attainable, actually, so long as you’re willing to be in the field even if you’re not the next Ted Dekker.

5. “It’s like Mom always says. If you get on the road, and keep driving and driving, eventually you’ll reach your destination.”

This is what my sister Amy said to me when I asked her how she managed to learn another language (Thai). But I think it’s applicable to writing, too, or any task which seems overwhelming and daunting. Actually, of all the advice I’ve given so far, this one is the most applicable to actually writing a whole book.

You just gotta get on the road, man. And every day, you have to commit to keep driving. Montana may feel like it never, ever, ever ends, but it does. Eventually. But only if you choose to keep driving.

Or, in the case of your book, keep writing it.

(I guess I like the analogy in particular because I’ve been on a lot of road trips that seemed like they would never end, and then they did end.)

That’s as much good writing advice as I’ve collected. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever heard?

P.S. Remember, Mom and I are currently doing the April Blogging Challenge, where we each post every other week day. Head over to Mom’s blog to read yesterday’s post about her writing cabin. She’ll post again tomorrow, and I’ll be back on Thursday.

The Man Behind the Desktop

If you take your laptop into a coffee shop to get some work done, you’ll quickly notice that you’re not the only one. Lots of people do this: telecommuters, freelance writers, wannabe novelists, students…it’s not strange.

What is strange is this:

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Yes indeed, in this blurry photo you can behold what I beheld in my favorite ocean view coffee shop at Nye Beach. A man in a hat hunches behind a desktop computer setup. Monitor, computer, keyboard, and mouse, all dragged to a coffee shop and set up at a table. I could see his screen in the large mirror behind him. He was a writer.

Of course I didn’t want to be caught staring, so after snapping that creeper photo I went back to my own business. I ordered peppermint tea and set up my laptop at my own table.

Then I just sat there for a minute.

What should I work on? I felt completely at loose ends. After almost two months of obsessively completing the second draft of my memoir, it was in the hands of my editor. So, now what?

I toyed with the idea of writing a blog post, but nothing interesting had happened to me lately. Here I was, though, at the ocean, where interesting people tend to mill around. Should I find a stranger to talk to?

The barista set my tea on the counter, and I slipped off my chair and walked over to pick it up. I’d already paid for the drink, so I might as well stay in the coffee shop for now and get some writing done. I could find a stranger to talk to later. So setting my tea down beside my computer, I opened a new Google doc and typed out the first words of a brand new book.

A novel, this time.

An upper-middle-aged woman with stickers all over her laptop walked into the shop and sat at the table next to me. The man in the hat emerged from behind his electronic fortress and began talking to her.

Maybe they ran in the same circles. Writers of Newport. I was intrigued by the concept, and plagued by the question of what kind of person would bring a desktop computer into a coffee shop? So I listened to their conversation, in a very obvious way, hoping to find an opportunity to join in. But it was not as interesting as I’d hoped. The man in the hat was waxing poetical about philosophy, and saying very little that made sense to me.

I went back to my novel.

“What are you working on?” The man in the hat was right behind me.

“Um…I’m working on a novel actually,” I said. “I just started today.”

Now, I realize those words did kind-of make me sound like an amateur. But he hadn’t asked me about my writing career in general, he’d asked what I was working on. Which was a novel. That I’d literally just started.

“Well here’s my advice,” he said. “Never rush your key scenes.”

Already he sounded a bit condescending, but I’d wanted to have a conversation with a stranger, hadn’t I? And maybe he’d have some good advice to offer. I pulled out a notebook and started taking notes.

He told me to never write more than 2,000 words a day. He told me that I can always change things later, so I should keep my flow. He said that I should write a full 1’st draft before I begin correcting it.

This advice session was peppered with references to his own, apparently extensive, body of work. “So how many novels have you written?” I asked.

“That depends on if you count the historical stuff or not,” he said with a little smile. “In some ways those books were like novels, but in other ways they were more like philosophy.”

Then he started giving me publishing advice. “Find an Indie publisher instead of going with CreateSpace,” he said. “Everyone knows that CreateSpace books are…well, that anyone can make a CreateSpace book. But even if you do get into bookstores, your book won’t stay there for long. Bookstores keep track of how many books are selling each month, so when they see that no one’s buying your book, they send them all back to you. Basically, you can expect a small run of books, and then no one will care about it anymore.”

Then he talked about writing for the love of writing instead of for the money. I can’t adequately re-create the way he spoke, because I wasn’t jotting down quotes. But there was something almost pompous about it. He reminded me of the kids at college that tried so hard to sound smart by using words like “ontological.”

“Of course,” he said at the end of his speech, “you may be the one rare genius who can actually make it.” There was only a hint of sarcasm in his voice, but it still grated.

“What’s your name?” I asked. “I’d like to look up your books.”

“I only have one series of books on Amazon,” he said. “Amazon is kind-of the enemy, you know?” But he told me the title, and watched over my shoulder as I typed it into the search bar.

Of course I misspelled it, which he pointed out with the same little condescending smile. But I think I must misspell things in a very common way, because Google always understands me, and I found his book with no problem. But he was still there, behind me, and he told me to click the “look inside” button, and click through all the pages until I got to his writing. Okay. We’re doing this thing.

And, not gonna lie, his book didn’t give the best first impression. He’d started by copying in parts of a classic novel that were public domain, and the formatting was atrocious. When I finally got to the parts that he had written, I saw a block of text with big words and no paragraph breaks. My eyes swam over it, trying to skim but struggling. Now what? Am I supposed to read it right here, right now? 

There was an awkward pause. Then, “Just read it sometime and tell me what you think,” said the man. He sat down in the other seat at my table. “So, what are you writing?”

Finally! After basically being told I could never hope to be a successful writer, I had a chance to defend myself. But I didn’t know how to make my novel sound promising. I struggle with plots, so I’d chosen a very simple romantic comedy plot line, and made all the characters Mennonite.

I decided to gain credibility by playing the Mennonite card. “There aren’t really novels written about people like me,” I said. “The closest things we have are Amish novels written by people who have little-to-no Amish background. So my idea is to write a novel that’s purely a lighthearted, fun romance, to give Mennonites something enjoyable to read that’s about us and our culture.”

I guess the Mennonite card worked, because instead of the usual condescending smile, he gave a short philosophical monologue about Mennonites. Then he went back to his desktop computer to write more philosophy, and I returned to my novel, watching the waves lap the shore outside my window.

I spent maybe half an hour in this way, leisurely typing. And then…

“Can I read some of what you’ve written?”

It was the desktop computer guy again.

What do I say? I don’t usually let anyone read my first draft. “I don’t know, it’s pretty rough,” I said. “I mean, I just started typing. Very much a first draft.”

The little smile was back. “It’s okay if you don’t have much of a voice yet,” he said. “It takes a while to develop a strong voice. Maybe I could give you some pointers.”

“Okay, sure,” I said, opening up the Google doc. Because people can only make hurtful comments if you take them seriously. And I was beyond the point of taking him seriously.

He read the first page of my document, softly, out-loud, like I do when people show me memes on their phones. And since there’s little-to-no chance that the first half of the first page will actually end up in the novel, I’m going to copy it here for context:

At some point in life, we all eventually come to the conclusion that what we thought was normal was not, in fact, what everybody else did. At this juncture, you have two options: you can choose to believe that you are weird, or conversely, you can choose to believe that everyone else on the planet is weird, and you, you are still the normal one.

It’s alarming how many people choose the latter.

The odd thing is, I didn’t even know how many people out there operated this way until I came to Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute for fourth term. I didn’t realize how many people think that being Mennonite is normal, and not being Mennonite is weird. That just never crossed my mind.

Maybe it’s inevitable when you grow up in Oregon. You will always be a minority, and if you’re a minority, you just have to deal. It’s really hard to pretend you’re not. It’s really hard to pretend that you’re the normal one.

“But you don’t understand,” Kate told me. “A lot of these kids come from Lancaster County. If you live in Lancaster County and you don’t want to ever talk to people who aren’t Mennonite, you don’t have to. We’ve got Mennonite grocery stores…Mennonite gas stations….”

“Hold up,” I said. “Mennonite gas stations? Really?”

That’s how I happened to began it–with a partially formed idea that didn’t fully make sense. I mean, not everyone in Lancaster thinks it’s “normal” to be Mennonite. Probably not even most people.

But ironically, it was that very thing that made desktop-computer-guy take me seriously. Or at least, semi-seriously. He still had that little smile as he said, “you know, I’ve been exploring that very thought in my philosophy writing today.” But he didn’t make any more snide comments about my voice.

Instead, he philosophized again.

He loved that point I made at the beginning. It’s so true, he thought. People’s religion is all they have sometimes. He told me about Mormons, and how we can’t tell them that Joseph Smith was a sketchy crook, because their religion is all they have. Oh, those poor delicate souls that would be crushed if someone as smart and enlightened as desktop-computer-man came and told them the truth!

Yep. I’m for-sure deleting those paragraphs now.

He spoke on the matter for a very long time. I tried my best to remain engaged, because I had, after all, wished to converse with a stranger. “See, that was the problem with colonialist missionaries in Africa,” he said. “They thought that their ideas were the only truth, and they didn’t think that the natives had any knowledge to contribute.”

He said this unironically, while confidently believing that his own ideas were all that needed to be said on the matter. It didn’t seem to occur to him that I might have some knowledge to contribute.

The philosophical ramblings on religion ended only because it was 5 pm and I had a 2-hour drive to my small group at 7 pm. But I did manage a word in edgewise enough to ask him about his computer. “Do you always take a full desktop computer into coffee shops?” I asked.

“Oh, yes! My friend set that computer up for me, so that’s just what I use.”

“Do you have, like, some sort of dolly to carry it on? Or do you just carry it in your arms?”

“I just carry it in my arms.”

There was nothing left to say on the matter. Was it strange? Sure. But even after the condescending nature of our conversation, I still found the strangeness charming.

Still, I decided something, right there in the coffee shop. When someone tells me that they’re interested in writing, never, ever again will I assume that they’re not good at it.

Until I’m proven wrong, I’m going to assume that they have a beautiful career ahead of them.

Bookweek 2019, Day 1: All About My Book

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I’ve been wanting to do a bookweek since August, ya’ll. August. And it’s November.

What the bunnyslipper.

Well, here we go. I think I have time this week to spit out some blog posts. And if I don’t have time, I’ll create some time. Because seriously, soon it will be Christmas, and I want to do 12 Days of Blogmas from December 13-December 24. (Hopefully my computer cord won’t explode this time.) So if I want to do a 2019 Bookweek, I’ll have to do it soon.

Today’s topic?

My book.

Yes, that’s right. As I’ve alluded to several times on this blog, I am writing a book about my travels last year, where I lived in a different community every month. And sometimes people are like, “so, what’s up with this book? When will I be able to read it?”

Let’s talk about that.

I began writing this book in March. My plan was to just write this book in a relatively short amount of time, and self-publish it before Christmas. (Yes, this Christmas! LOL.) I hoped it would give me enough of a financial boost to become an official book writer instead of freelance article writer. And also to move out for good. Maybe go back to one of the places I’d visited on this trip, and stay a little longer.

At the time, I was recovering from a disastrous attempt to write a novel during the month of February, so I decided that slow-and-steady, coupled with nonfiction-instead-of-fiction, was the way to go for now. On and on I went, creating the first draft.

Around the end of July, I pretty much had a first draft in hand. I’d written about the long drive East, my stay in Tennessee, my time in Ohio, Thanksgiving in Lancaster PA, Delaware, Christmas in Washington DC, Florida, Myerstown PA, a week in Philadelphia, Lancaster City PA, and some parts of my month in Hutchinson Kansas. But I was tired of writing the first draft, and thought, “I’ll finish writing about Hutchinson later.” So I started on the second draft.

I revised my first chapter in early August and sent it to Janessa, my editor. And then the rest of August was gobbled up by my trip to Alaska, writing the five short connected plays on the history of the “To the Unknown God” altar in Athens for our vacation Bible school, and directing said plays. Janessa sent me some feedback but I didn’t really get into it because before long I was flying to Minnesota because my grandpa was dying.

Now, that two-and-a-half weeks in Minnesota was…something else. I had never in my life confronted death so closely before. I’d never seen someone hanging out between the two realms. I’d never touched a dead body while it was still warm.

Another strange thing was that I began to feel, not like I was visiting Minnesota, but like I lived here now. Like this was simply another place I went to live for a month.

Let me backtrack a bit. When I first planned this living-in-a-different-place-every-month adventure, I wanted to leave Oregon on September 15, 2018.

Well on September 11, 2018, my cousin Justin and his wife Kayla, dear friends of mine, lost their infant son in a tragic stillbirth only a few days before he was due. Asher Kai. His funeral was on September 15, so I didn’t leave until September 16.

My Grandpa, at 102 years old, passed away on September 11, 2019. His funeral was on September 15, and we flew back to Oregon on September 16.

Before this, when I said I was writing about my “year” of travel, I really meant school year, not 365-day year. I didn’t want to be in some rando place during the summer, because Oregon summers are dear to my soul. So “year” meant September-June.

But now I began to re-think this. If I wrote about a 365-day year instead, it would contain these oddly parallel losses. And I could write about that time in Minnesota, which felt so significant. My Oregon summer could be just another chapter.

Janessa, in her edits of my first chapter, told me that she wished I’d dive into my thoughts and feelings more, instead of just writing down what happened. And I realized that she was right. But I’d written the whole first draft that way. I’d skimmed over my feelings and expounded upon events.

Revising it–adding it in–that would take some work.

But I called her on the phone when I got back from Minnesota, and we discussed my book at length. I told her my idea of doing a 365-day year, and she really liked it.

So that’s when I decided: I’m going to make this a better book than I’d planned to make it. And I’m going to write about my feelings. And I’m going to make it a 365-day year.

And it will not be ready by Christmas.

“When will it be ready?” You ask.

Well…I don’t know! “Before Christmas” is the best time to publish books. But I don’t want to wait all the way until NEXT Christmas to publish. So…between this Christmas and next Christmas? Is that specific enough?

Meanwhile, I’ve been valiantly trying to cut writing and editing projects out of my life so that I can focus on book writing. With moderate success. But I can’t say “no” to writing a play for our local Church school’s Christmas program. And last year I agreed to a giant editing project that I’ve been focusing my energy on for the past month-ish. And then there’s another project that I believe in so deeply I couldn’t let the opportunity slip. Ah!

Although that last opportunity won’t be a thing for a while yet. So I have time to finish my book first.

I think.

So to sum it all up, yes, my book is a thing. A thing that’s coming. Eventually. (And if, as my Grandma likes to say, the Lord tarries.)

P.S.

Speaking of writing more about personal thoughts and feelings, I decided to make a small switch over on Patreon. So far, my posts have mostly been opinion pieces on semi-controversial topics. But I was digging through some creative nonfiction pieces I’ve written, and I found stuff that I liked, but it was too personal to just show everyone in a public blog. So I decided to start posting some of those pieces on Patreon. 

Last month, I posted an essay about a friend that cut me out of her life. Later this week or next week I’ll post more opinion content, this time about the comedian John Crist. But at the end of the month I plan to post something personal again. I’ll just play it by ear from there.

If you’re interested in reading these bonus blog posts, you can access them by going to my Patreon Page and clicking the red “select” button under the “$1 per month” option. If you’d like to offer extra financial support for my blog you’ll be able to give more than $1, but all it takes is $1 a month to access all my bonus content.