Being BRAVE is catchy!

I was trolling Facebook recently, after working on the next “The BRAVE Interview” for my blog (coming in March, 2017). I must be primed to see the word ‘brave’. You know, like when you’re pregnant and suddenly you see pregnant women everywhere?

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So I couldn’t help but notice this page with Being Brave with Abbie McG emblazoned across the top.

Since I chose BRAVE as ‘my one word‘ in 2015, I’ve been all about the brave.

I created the “One Brave Thing” group on Facebook, a private group for anyone who has read my book (One Brave Thing), where we support one another’s efforts to do brave things.

I launched The BRAVE Interview Series on my blog at kwrites.com, where once a month I invite a reader of my book to discuss ‘one brave thing’ they have done in their own lives.

I acquire ‘brave’ jewelry wherever I find it. This ‘brave’ bracelet is from The Shops at Cape Neddick in Maine.

🙂

I also try not to hide from any chances I get to be brave in my own life now.

So, coming full circle, of course I will be watching Abby McGilvery’s Being Brave TV episode!

Aha!

I was at the gym on the bike for the first time in two weeks (don’t judge me). I was hoping to be motivated to pedal a little longer through the time-honored hack of distraction. I was looking forward to listening to a Women Taking the Lead podcast, Number 201 with Dana Malstaff, and now I was finally getting a chance.

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Well, fifteen minutes went by in a blink. I was so absorbed in what I was hearing, not to mention temporarily blinded by all the lightbulbs going off in my head, that I forgot I was even on the bike.

🙂

This podcast perfectly distilled something for me that I have been struggling with (as I discovered looking through my journals) for years.

Here’s what I learned: the difference between PASSION and GIFT. You can pursue your passion forever, but if it’s not also your gift–that thing that you do so joyfully and effortlessly that it doesn’t even feel like a thing–it will never be more than a hobby. Which is fine, of course, as long as you aren’t trying to make a living from it.

When you live your gift, you can infuse it with your passions, what you love and are good but not necessarily great at, and then watch out! You will be unstoppable.

Click.

(Did you just hear that click into place for me?)

I have a lot of passions (don’t even get me started), but my gift is writing.

I am a great writer.

I also love how she called me out on being an island. We have to let others help us on our path, doing the things they are great at. When I published my first book, when I didn’t know what I didn’t know, I did everything but the editing myself. It was an exhilarating but also (yes, Dana, exactly!) a tear-filled process.

Now, what shall I do with this newfound knowledge? Because, as Marie Forleo* says, “Insight without action is worthless.”

I shall be worthy!

This time, I’m getting more help. I’m getting help with tasks I could have done myself, but I don’t love doing. Hello, formatting? Kill me.

Thank you, Boss-Mom, Dana Malstaff! Thank you, Jodi Flynn (Women Taking the Lead) for sharing this with us!

*By the way, have you seen Marie Forleo’s website? It blew me away. Check it out.

 

Doing the thing

I have been working feverishly, madly, to design the cover of my new novel. My publication date is 3/21 (as in: 3-2-1 liftoff! 🙂 ) and I am determined to make it.
frontcoverbolder-2-7-17I originally planned to use my own photos for the cover, but then I started looking around on Canva, you know, just for fun, and one image caught my eye. What drew me about her is that she looks like she’s trying to go forward, but is letting herself be pulled back.
Like Bebe. In the new book, What if Bebe Stays with Steven?, Bebe is thinking, should I stay or should I go? I also like the little bit of backpack showing, since she is a student. This one image captured all that for me.

Here’s the most important part of this story. Right after I saved and downloaded the image, one of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt popped up on the computer screen!

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

I took this as a sign that this was exactly the right image for my cover. Of course, that was at midnight last week, and the next day, after I smacked my head into the corner of the huge mirror over my couch and hematoma’d my head, I started second-guessing it all.

 But I am going forward anyway. Like Nikki Groom said in her recent podcast (with Jodi Flynn on Women Taking the Lead), “Just start.”

The BRAVE Interview #7 February, 2017: Jennifer W. Smith

Here is this month’s BRAVE Interview with author, Jennifer W. Smith. ENJOY!

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Who is Jennifer W. Smith?

I put my family first, so I’d start with I’m a wife and mother.  My next top three answers: I’m a novelist, a world traveler, and a foodie. I live in a cozy New Hampshire town in a busy household including a blue-eyed kitty and a collie who looks just like Lassie. I’ve had other careers before I became a fulltime writer in 2015. I’ve used my experiences from when I was a flight attendant and interior designer to inspire my story ideas.

What is my One Brave Thing for 2016?

Well, if you asked me my brave thing for 2015, I’d have said publishing my first novel, Flying Backwards. In 2016 I published two books, The Rare Pearl and The Forsaken Pearl, but I’d say the One Brave Thing was pushing myself to maneuver—and conquer—the digital age to produce all aspects of publishing my latest books—mainly book cover design. The cover is critical. It’s the first thing a reader sees. If the cover isn’t appealing they won’t bother to flip it over and read the back. I worried that I’d be unsuccessful, but I was determined to give it my best effort. Let me state, my skills were basic at first. I’m happy to report that after all the puzzle solving I’m pleased with the final products.

Why did you do it?

So why make my own book covers if I could just pay someone? Well, I love design in general. As I mentioned I’m a former interior designer by trade. Also, I spent a decade taking photos and documenting my family’s life in scrapbooks. So a part of me thought it would be fun and creative. Besides, I found it difficult to explain what I wanted my cover to look like to someone who hadn’t read my story. I paid to have the cover done for my first novel Flying Backwards. I explained what I wanted, and I do love the cover, but it’s not perfect. For example, in that story the main character is an international flight attendant and the airplane on the cover is a domestic plane (it should have four engines instead of two). I know it’s a tiny detail. But the control is what I like—and it is kind of exciting and fun.

When and how did you do it?

I spend loads of time the whole year reading and watching YouTube tutorials about how to produce a successful book cover. Who knew fonts had so much impact! It took me a while as I tried different programs, but eventually I discovered which ones worked best for me. My fellow friends and authors recommend sites where I could purchase photos or fonts. I also stumble across Derek Murphy’s book cover design tutorials which helped me immensely. After vastly improving my MS Word skills, I managed to produce book covers for my Broken Water Series, which include The Rare Pearl and The Forsaken Pearl. I was able to manage 95% it, but I confess, my husband helped with the file conversions. I may have shed some tears of frustration throughout the learning curve, but it was worth it.

Where did you do it?

I learned, and continue to learn, right from the comfort of my home. After I got used to navigating the internet—I realized the world is at my fingertips. With dedication to succeed, I’m grateful to live and thrive in this modern age. This is a usable tool to become self-published. I hope I inspire other budding authors to give it a try.

I always love to hear from readers. Please check out my website at JenniferWSmith.com for book trailers, release updates, events, blogs, and more. Also, you can read the first chapter of The Rare Pearl, Book One in the Broken Water Series for FREE. You can find me on Twitter @authorjenwsmith and Facebook at AuthorJenniferWSmith.

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Mary Ann and me

Mary mary-ann-espositoAnn Esposito and I go way back. Okay, sort of.

I met her in real life at a Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School event in 2008. (Also, once I saw her at the Market Basket, but I didn’t actually talk to her. Does that count?)

I really met her for the first time in my younger years, watching her on TV. She hosted  Ciao Italia on PBS. Years later, I watched all the reruns, too.

She is a skilled, wonderful cook, as anyone who has ever watched Ciao Italia knows. She was as warm and funny and caring in person as she was on TV.

I’m Italian, as anyone who knows me knows. I learned so much not only about cooking, but about life and how to live it from my Italian nana, Mary. Meeting Mary Ann, watching her cook in the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School’s cucina, gave me back that feeling of being with my grandmother in her kitchen again for a few hours.
Being with your people: Priceless.

Anyway, Mary Ann Esposito is also an author. The Stonewall event was a cooking class and a book signing. She was kind enough to sign my book, and gracious enough to pose for a photo with me. Here’s how much it meant to me: I was able to put my hand on this photo of us from 2008 literally in seconds. I knew exactly where it was.

I am beyond excited to tell you that she will be at the New England Authors Expo March 31st event: 2017 Authors Night by the Seain Portsmouth, NH, signing her books. I will be there, too, signing my novel, One Brave Thing.

And visiting with Mary Ann. Maybe I’ll even get another photo with her.

Life’s funny, isn’t it?

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Click here for the information, if you want to come!

 

BOOK REVIEW: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

I have heard of Ann Patchett before, of course, but I had never read any of her work. Full disclosure: I did try to read Bel Canto once. I have no idea why I didn’t actually finish it. Or start it. I forget.

happymarriageAnyway, my friend and yoga teacher, Kristen, mentioned a book casually in conversation a couple of weeks ago. “Um, I think it’s called A Happy Marriage,” she said. Sometime later that day, because the title was still with me, I decided to look it up. I found This is the Story of a Happy Marriage on audiobook and requested it from the library. Shockingly, it came right away.

I didn’t know what to expect. I knew nothing about the book other than that my friend, whose taste in books is usually a 180 from my own, liked it (e.g.: my expectations were low). But surprise! I loved it right away! I love when authors who are good at it read their own work. Ann (as she tells us in her book), is good at it. The next happy surprise was that she talks about writing and being an author (among other things) in this book. She describes how, early in her career, she used to think ahead to all those rows of empty chairs waiting at her upcoming book talks, knowing that there was a good chance none of them would be filled.

I could, you know, relate.

As I listened to parts of this book, I realized that Ann got it. She gets it. She knows exactly how it feels to be me right now, with my first book that quite possibly ‘no one wants to talk about’ when they come to the book signings. But I go anyway. I get up early. Sometimes, I drive for hours. I am ‘really nice’ to the staff. I remember to drink gallons of water to avoid dehydration. These are all rules that Ann follows at her own book signing events.

So thank you, Ann Patchett, for reminding me that everyone has to start somewhere and at one time in your career as an author, you were exactly where I am right now.

Be still

I am sitting here on the couch trying to write a ‘signature talk’, which would be so much (expletive) easier if I could just decide on one fullsizerendertopic, already! I am trying to figure out how to combine my metaphysical nurse blog with my kwrites blog under one domain, a version of my name, which I bought 14 months ago as part of a workshop but that’s where it ended. I never did anything with it, except to look at it longingly from time to time. Now I am trying to decide if combining it all is even a good idea!
I am giving several topic-specific talks over the next few months and I am trying to write those.
I am writing a parent ad (sorry, but this feels like a ploy to get more money from us) for the high school yearbook because my graduating daughter WANTS one.
I am debating (OMG! YES! STILL!) if I should give yet another talk at an upcoming event (this internal debate has been raging for months now) and if so, WTF to base the presentation on.
And then I realize that I am actually doing none of these things, except the ‘just sitting here on the couch’ part. Okay, and eating a large quantity of chocolate (#lunch).
Surrounded by paper. And pens. And my laptop. And my iPhone playing Pandora.
I am a (expletive) mess.
And then this song comes on:

And I hear the words:  Be still and trust my plan. I’m more than you think I am.

And then, with tears streaming, I know it’s true.

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