Living Life to Its Fullest

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 at 9:46 AM | Category: Books 8 comments

Welcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas. We’re honored to be a stop in Sonia Korn-Grimani’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. We’re giving away a signed copy of “Sonia’s Song” [affiliate]. Read on to see how you can win.

About Sonia Korn-Grimani: Sonia Korn-Grimani photoSonia Korn-Grimani earned her doctorate in French literature and the teaching of foreign languages, and directed a multi-cultural language program at UNESCO. With her husband John, and their children Anthony and Renee, Sonia traveled and lived all over the world. In her album Cantos al Amor, Sonia sings in 16 languages. In 1989, Dr. Korn-Grimani was knighted Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and in 1996 she was decorated Officier des Palmes Académiques.

Living Life to Its Fullest by Sonia Korn-Grimani

Railroad trackThe following fragment is from the Chapter “Hidden Cargo” from my memoir “Sonia’s Song.” It is June 1939, and my brother Heini and I, at the time aged 9 and 7, have been left by smugglers 40 kilometers from the German-Belgian border. The smugglers told us to walk along the track until morning and hide if we hear anyone coming. Even though it took place more than 70 years ago, I remember this long journey, fraught with danger, with extreme detail. At any moment, we could have been discovered by soldiers or sympathizers along the way. It was just one of many, many times that we lived through terrible danger before and during the war.

We continue along the tracks, towards the border. Night deepens. I hear sounds through the trees — rustling leaves and then branches cracking. Is someone following us? I grab Heini’s arm. He’s heard it too. We start to run.

We run through the darkness, until we are out of breath and our legs give out. I can’t catch my breath and wonder if I am breathing too loud, if my breath will give us away.

I hold my breath and listen. The wind rustles the branches of the fir trees. An owl calls, inquisitively, then silence. Maybe we outran them, whomever they were. We continue our walk west along the tracks.

The crescent moon lowers and sets behind the trees. Don’t leave us Moon we will be all alone in the dark. Just then I hear rumbling again on the tracks. Heini grabs my arm and we throw ourselves into the side of ditch, although it is shallower this time. I press my face into the dirt, and hold my breath.

After the train passes, I roll over carefully, open my eyes, and look up into the night sky. Even though I am too anxious to feel hungry, my tummy grumbles, loud enough for Heini to hear. He pulls out his butter sandwich and tears it in half, then half again. He hands a piece to me, and the butter, a rare treat, tastes like the best meal I’ve ever had. I try to keep the flavor on my tongue as long as I can.

“I suppose we’ve been walking for four hours. We still have a long way to go yet. I doubt we’re even a third of the way there,” whispers Heini.

We press on as fast as we can. After a few more hours, my toes blister, each step becoming painful. I curl my toes to prevent them from rubbing my shoe, but this only helps so much.

“Sonia — train!” We bolt off the tracks, jump into the ditch and wait.

After the train passes, I look up and find Polaris overhead. I see the great wagon and the kneeling giant Hercules with his club making his way across the sky, as we make our way to an uncertain future. The stars become our guide, our hope, our comfort, lighting our way in the darkness.

So much of my life during the war feels like it was broken up into little bits. We were in hiding, living for weeks and months on the run with the Nazis always just a step behind us. Each day, each moment, we didn’t know what was lurking around the corner, what the day would bring, or if we would ever see each other again.  I remember each time I’d see my mother I would try to savor that moment in time, because I honestly didn’t know if that would be the last time I’d see her.

And the thing is, we didn’t really know then, and we don’t really know now. Perhaps it is an effect from living day-to-day, and experiencing deprivation and danger for such prolonged periods of time as a small child, but I remember many times during the war my senses being heightened, and my world reduced to what I could see, hear, and smell at that instant. The past didn’t matter, the future didn’t matter. All that exists, really, is the present.

After war’s end, I was able to book passage on an Italian migrant ship, the SS Napoli, which was filled with hundreds of other people like me from war-ravaged Europe, all trying to seek a better life for ourselves. We left from Naples, Italy, and traveled past Egypt on the Suez Canal. During our nights on board the ship, we congregated on the top deck and sang to entertain ourselves. The passengers fervently loved Italian operas. They asked me if I know any Puccini arias, and I sang for them and led them in song. There we were, a chorus of fellow émigrés from all over Europe, united in harmony, singing Puccini under the summer night sky.

We were all so tired, so weary of the war, of our past, of our circumstances. But I felt a shared sense of determination to make something of ourselves in our new land. It was a time of joy as we ventured to our new home, a time to reinvent our lives and break from our past, and a time of sorrow for leaving a part of us behind us. And as I was singing beautiful songs under the night sky with my fellow émigrés, I felt a pure joy as I lost myself in the music and the summer night and the companionship of the other travelers.

I looked up at the stars and thought of the time Heini and I were laying in the soil, trying to disappear into the ground as the trains would pass us by on that fateful trip, pretending very hard not to exist, catching a glimpse of the great hunter in the night sky. And as we were trying to momentarily slip out of existence, so too did our fears and troubles, at least, for a brief instant.

We tend to cling to the past, and always make plans about the future. But in the moment, you are who you are, no more, no less; you are perfect, you are the sum of all that has happened in your past, you are the vessel of potential for every good thing that will do in your future.  And if you get lost, the stars to will always be there to guide you on your way.

Sonia's Song Book CoverAbout Sonia Korn-Grimani‘s Book: At the age of eight, little Sonia Korn is declared an enemy of the German State. She and her family are given a grim option; either find a way to disappear, or be rounded up and sent to certain death. After a perilous escape to the Belgian border, and becoming caught in the chaos and carnage of war-torn France and Belgium, Sonia finds that she must give up everything she knows and loves just to survive. This is the complex true story of one girl, who rises from war’s ashes to sing the songs of hope and love world-wide. A heart-wrenching and poignant memoir, by internationally renowned singer Sonia Korn-Grimani.

Comment and win: The prize: winner gets signed copy of “Sonia’s Song.” For a chance to win, please leave at least a 30-word comment about how you live life to its fullest or what music means to you. You have until 11:59pm on  October 11, 2012 to qualify for the drawing. The unbiased and robotic has the honor of picking the winner.


Chynna’s Top Ten Writing Tips

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 at 9:38 AM | Category: Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 4 comments

Welcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas. We’re honored to be a stop in Chynna Laird’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour.

Chynna Laird headshotAbout Chynna Laird: She’s a psychology major, freelance writer and multi award-winning author living in Edmonton, Alberta with her partner, Steve, and their four children. Her passion is helping children and families living with Sensory Processing Disorder and other special needs. Laird has authored an award-winning children’s book (I’m Not Weird, I Have SPD), two memoirs (the multi award-winning, Not Just Spirited: A Mom’s Sensational Journey With SPD and White Elephants), a young adult novel (Blackbird Flies), an adult suspense (Out Of Sync), and a Young Adult Suspense/Mystery/Paranormal/Sweet Romance (Undertow, to be released 2012). She blogs at The Gift Blog and See the White Elephants.

Chynna’s Top Ten Writing Tips by Chynna Laird

I’ve been writing since I was in my single digits. I guess you could say that writing isn’t just a hobby for me or something I ‘just do’, it’s a huge part of who I am. I need that creative time that’s separate from the other roles I play during the day when I can lose myself in my characters and the places they take me. It’s a wonderful feeling having all of these stories inside of me bursting to get out that I can actually share with other people … and they read it! How cool is that?

I consider myself very blessed to be able to do what I do and I don’t take it for granted in the least. Writing is something we can always do as long as we have a story in our hearts and our wits about us. There’s no age, sex, race, religion, social status, or ability barriers when it comes to being a writer. If you have that creativity inside of you, if that passion is there, nurture it.

A still have a few years to go before I’m plopped in that ‘veteran writer’ category, and my goodness I still have so much to learn. But in the fairly short period of time that I’ve been out in the writing world, there are a few things I’ve learned. And, if you’ll allow me to, I’d love to share them with you.

1. Accept that you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you dabble in it or you work most of your day pounding on the keyboard. You could be a blogger, an article writer, a poet, a short story creator, or a diligent person who writes 200,000-word books. You. Are. A. Writer. You have that creative energy inside of you and you make the effort to channel it. So, even if you haven’t been published yet, just say what I used to before I got my first story published: “I’m a writer. The world just hasn’t found me yet.”

2. Find the time. If all you have time for is a paragraph or two or a single blog post, perfect. There will be days when you just don’t have time to write as much as you’d like to get some out. It keeps the creative juices bubbling. My personal goal is about 1,500 words a day. That could be an article, a blog post, or a section in one of my novels-in-progress. For me, writing gives me the same energy as my yoga or exercise time. I make the time.

3. Have your own space. I realize this isn’t always possible. My “work space” is smack-dab in the middle of my living room where all the action is (I know … my bad … ). But when I have something I really want to work on or an important deadline to meet, I take our tiny laptop or a notebook and a pen and I hide somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you set up a little space in the walk-in closet, put little desk up in the quietest place in your house or shut yourself in the bathroom for a bit, have a space where you can let the words flow.

4. Journal. I’ve been practicing journaling since I was very young. It has many benefits. Aside from being a place to jot down your personal thoughts, feelings, and dreams, it’s also where you can work on ideas, practice finding your writing voice as well as getting into the habit of writing. That’s how my dedication and discipline for ‘finding the time’ came from.

5. Read … a lot. Just like in any profession, in order to succeed it’s a good idea to learn from those who are rocking it out there. Read anything and everything from authors you aspire to be. Trust me, you can learn so much just from that alone.

6. Start in your “safe place” then branch out from there. When I first started, I had absolutely no idea where I fit into the writing world. There are so many genres and sub-genres, it’s hard to know at first where I “fit in.” All I knew was that I was told my style of writing was “emotionally charged.” So I started writing inspirational articles and personal essays. From there, I channeled my emotional energy into intense contemporary young adult shorts, then it blossomed from there. The point is by all means start where you feel safe. But don’t be afraid to venture out past the safe area because you never know what else you’re capable of.

7. Join a writing group. Every province or state has some sort of writing association. Get in touch with them and find a local writing group. If there isn’t one, why not put one together? Writing groups are great because they are often made up of a good mix of individuals in various stages of their writing careers. You can get critique of your work and network with writing peers, which is a major part of being a writer.

8. Find a writing mentor. I love my writing mentors. They inspire me, keep me focus and grounded and never let me give up. It’s very important to have someone who has “been there, done that” who can give you guidance, answer your questions and be that strong support when you need it. If you don’t know someone who can mentor you, check with your local university or college’s English department or the writing association nearest to you. Both often have mentoring programs you could sign up for.

9. Get out once in awhile. This is something I have to remind myself of once in awhile. If you’re a full-time writer, you’ll be spending a lot of time in front of your computer. Alone. (No, social media chats do not count as getting out or connecting with others!) I’m lucky because I have my four kids around me and have to get out there and be around others through their school, activities and my charity work.

10. Rejection is a part of writing. It sucks, but it’s true. If it makes you feel better, even though I’ve written countless articles, blog posts, and books, I still get rejections. It’s a part of the whole process. The only advice I can give you is to feel the sting, then move on. Consider it a learning curve. Analyze why you were rejected and work on it. There are other editors waiting to hear your pitch. Trust me, each time it happens your skin gets a little thicker until you can finally say, “Ah. Their loss. NEXT!”

The only other piece of advice I can give you is this: Do not give up. I consider everything I go through in life a lesson, good or bad. You just can’t think of it any other way or things will just get to you. If you truly believe in yourself and what you’re doing, others will too. Never give someone the power to squash your dreams. They are what inspire us, give us hope and keep us moving forward.

Happy writing!

What writing tips do you have?

White Elephants coverAbout White Elephants: Elephant in the middle of the living room — that is one way of explaining how a family walks around the invisible presence of huge problems. Hindsight is what brings the elephant into focus.

Somehow at the innocent age of five Tami began to see the bulky creature crowding her family and took on a sense of responsibility far beyond expectation for her age. Her mother was different than other mothers. Family life in their household was not pretty. No one noticed. No one did anything about it, and Tami wanted someone to do just that. As an adult Tami took on her first name, Chynna, and took up the challenge to find out what might have helped her mother fight her battle of self-destruction. She couldn’t help her mother, but she would consider it worth everything if her family’s story helped another.

This candid memoir is a story of one girl’s struggle to deal with her mother’s alcoholic/bipolar condition–the white elephant no one else would see. With a conversational tone, Laird shares her remarkable story of abuse, survival, and her triumphant recovery into becoming a healthy, well adjusted wife and mother. Tastefully written, this book will touch your heart. It offers hope that, no matter where you come from, life is what you make it.

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Guest Post: How Writers Can Do Faraway Marketing

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 at 7:54 AM | Category: Books, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 5 comments

Welcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas. We’re honored to be a stop in Fiona Ingram’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. Fiona, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, joins us all the way from South Africa. We’re giving away a book — not Fiona’s as her popular book went fast. Read on to see what you can win.

About Fiona Ingram
Fiona Ingram“My story-telling career began at age ten!” She entertained my three younger brothers and their friends with serialised tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. The never-ending story was called “Gruesome Gables,” and it certainly was gruesome! Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. Although she doesn’t have children, she has an adopted teenage African child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. She lives in Johannesburg and has been freelancing for 15 years. Visit Secret of the Sacred Scarab and Fiona Ingram‘s web sites.

How Writers Can Do Faraway Marketing by Fiona Ingram

I am a South African author with a successful children’s book published in the United States. It has been an enormous challenge for me to become known in the U.S. while living so far away. An author platform and marketing plan are vital and should include a mixture of traditional and online marketing.

However, given the distance problem, many “real” author events are impossible for me in the U.S., such as book signings, author readings, speaking at meetings/groups, etc. I have focused on maximizing all possible online opportunities instead.

When I began, I had a vague idea that marketing was important. I just didn’t know how much! Many writers feel all they have to do is write. That’s the easy part. Marketing is the hardest part of getting your book noticed. Here are some of the best steps I took in my book promotion.

  • I opened a marketing folder while still at manuscript stage, and began researching to familiarize myself with all online marketing possibilities. I collected notes on everything and gradually formulated a plan of action. I began with industry e-zines and newsletters, which offer a wealth of information. Many book publishing and author marketing companies offer free newsletters, as well as links to more sites. I learned everything I could about publishing, getting books into bookstores, approaching agents, getting book reviews, upcoming book competitions, blogging, online marketing, podcasts and online interviews, keywords for internet listing … the list is endless.
  • A press kit is vital. My publisher produced a professional kit and sent it to all interested/relevant publications. They also sent out online press releases.
  • A good author web site is possibly the writer’s best online marketing tool. List your social web sites, include book info/reviews and perhaps a first chapter, a cover image, radio or video interviews, a book video, a contact email and press material. From here, you can launch your blog or fan club, set up Twitter and put your website on many social sites simultaneously. Showcase your work on author sites as well (e.g. Authorsden and Jacketflap).
  • Giving away books is another excellent strategy. Depending on your reader target market, contact libraries, schools, local bookstores, book clubs and reading groups and offer them a book. I have sent books through my publishers to anyone interested in reviewing the book. They get to keep the book, and I get a review for my author site.
  • Write articles on the art of writing, your genre, or just the publishing process. You can add these to your personal web site, as well as your book web site. Also, load them onto Google and sites that accept articles. I have written several articles, as well as adapting my guest blog posts on child literacy to articles.
  • I got Googled! Get a Google Alert to notify you every time something comes up about you and your book, link other sites back to your own to increase your ratings and give you credibility, set up a Blogger alert, join Google’s Library page, keep track of your site’s performance with Google Analytics and much more.
  • Discover amazing Amazon: This is the largest online book site and you need to be on it. Amazon will also review your book if you approach them; you can also put up other reviews on your book.
  • One of the best steps I took was an online book tour or blog tour. Virtual book tours are a fantastic promotional tool for authors to connect with readers through book blogs. Tours usually include a minimum number of tour stops on a variety of blogs, and can include a book image, a review, links to the author’s website and blog, and purchase information. Blog hosts usually also link back to other internet outlets, thereby increasing your coverage.
  • Book Competitions: The Secret of the Sacred ScarabCompetitions broaden your author profile because people in the industry will read your book. Even if you don’t win, you may get a Finalist or Honorable Mention, and that’s the kind of detail to put in your press release.

Do not stop marketing: Even when your book is out there, don’t stop spreading the word! Do something every day (either online or physical) to continue your marketing thrust. Remember — marketing doesn’t sell books … marketing gives you exposure and exposure sells books.

Win: Since we’re on the topic of children’s books, we’re giving away a copy of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs by Cindy Hudson. To win, leave a 50+ word comment by 11:59pm December 9 about a favorite children’s book and why it’s your favorite or an experience with children’s books. The unbiased and robotic will pick the winner.

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Congratulations! You’re a Mom and an Author!

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at 7:23 AM | Category: Books, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 14 comments

Welcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas. We’re honored to be a stop in Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. I first met Kristin through Christina Katz. Since then, I’ve read her book, exchanged a few tweets and emails and absorbed her column in Kristin Bair O'KeeffeWriters on the Rise. (Stay tuned in this post if ya wanna win this book!)

About Kristin Bair O’Keeffe
Kristin Bair O’Keeffe is the author of Thirsty and an American who lives in Shanghai, China. She is also a voracious reader, a happy mom, an engaging teacher who believes in “telling the best story you can…believing in your writing…and working your arse off,” a fierce advocate for the end of domestic violence, and a writer who spends as much time as possible in writerhead. To find out more, visit or Kristin’s blog at

Now… post from Kristin Bair O’Keeffe.


You’re a Mom and an Author!


The Beginning

On September 26, 2008, I was in an orphanage in a small village in Vietnam. On that spectacular, unforgettable, life-changing day, a nanny placed my eight-month-old daughter in my arms for the first time.

Three weeks later when our adoption was complete, my husband and I wrapped our arms around Tully and each other, finished up our Vietnam journey, and returned to our home in Shanghai, China.

On October 24 — less than a month after I officially became a mom — I got an email from David Sanders, the director of Swallow Press. “We would like to publish your novel Thirsty,” he told me.



After all the dreaming, work, sweat, worry, anticipation, rewrites, excitement, ups-and-downs, paperworkpaperchasingheartsmashingheartopening, I achieved two lifelong dreams in less than one month’s time.





Good gracious me.

What Next?

Of course, all the gorgeous things that are supposed to happen when you become a mom and when you become an author happened:

  • I fell in love with my daughter. Deeply, madly, sweetly.
  • I read and reread (and um, yes, reread) the email from David Sanders, rejoicing in the fact that my debut novel finally was going to make its way into readers’ hands.
  • I obsessed about formula, vaccinations, and pediatricians.
  • I nested and made a comfy home for our family.
  • I obsessed about the quality of water in China and prayed that our bottled water was as safe as they said it was.
  • I obsessed about what the cover of Thirsty would look like and wondered if I’d get a chance to say “yea” or “nay” or if the worst happened, “Have you lost your bloody mind?”
  • I obsessed about… (you see the trend here, yes?)


then the reality hit. Suddenly I had to edit my novel AND take care of my new baby…at the same time. While I’d dreamed of both things happening, never had I expected them to happen in the same month.

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe and daughter Tully

Kristin Bair O'Keeffe and daughter Tully

Now when I look back, I can’t quite figure out how I did it, but I guess that’s the mystery of human will. I was determined not to have any childcare help during Tully’s first months at home…the three of us had a lot of bonding to do as a family. So while Tully was awake and Andrew was at work, she and I were a team…the dynamic duo. We wandered the streets of Shanghai, danced, played, read books, touched noses, and got to know one another.

While Tully slept (during naps, early in the mornings, and late at night), I edited.

Was I exhausted?


Was I cranky at my husband?

Oh, gosh, yeah.

Did I neglect important friendships?

Too often.

Was I deliriously happy?


Did I finish the edit?

Barely, but yes.

Ta Da!

Thirsty: A NovelNow…jump in time to October 1, 2009. Thirsty is in bookstores. Tully and I are in the United States for a mini-book tour. She is a happy, silly, healthy, brilliant, stubborn toddler. I am a happyhappyhappy, silly, healthy (and yes, sometimes stubborn) mom with a great husband and terrific friends who all nurtured me through my happiest, most challenging new mama moments. I am also an author.

Win: To win a copy of the book, please leave a comment at least 50 words about parenthood, the place where you grew up or a favorite locale. You have until 11:59pm on November 25, 2009 to qualify for the drawing. The unbiased and robotic has the honor of picking the winner.

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Finding the Time to Write

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009 at 7:28 AM | Category: Books, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 13 comments

Welcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas (OK, the blog doesn’t live on a server in my house — but that’s where you’ll find me… in Plano, not in the server). We’re happy to be a stop in Claudine Wolk’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. Here’s a bit about fellow hybrid mom (Moms who work) and author of It Gets Easier!…and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers Claudine Wolk… (Stay tuned in this long post if ya wanna win her book!)

About Claudine Wolk

Claudine WolkClaudine Wolk is a CPA and mother of three. She lives in Bucks County, PA with her husband Joe and her children, Joseph, Casey & Ally. She writes columns as well as magazine and newspaper articles on all subjects regarding motherhood in the 21st Century. She also is available for humorous but informative workshops on the subjects of “new motherhood” and “mothers returning to the workforce.” Visit Claudine at her web site:

How Can I Find the Time to Write? by Claudine Wolk

It’s a question many aspiring writers ask. How can I find the time to write?

Well, the truth is, while I did keep a notebook of ideas, research and interviews while my three kids were babies, I didn’t really get serious about finishing a book until my youngest was a toddler. However, once I made the decision to finish the book, I did have success finding time to write the book after I did one very important thing — I decided that the book was important enough to spend time away from my family, chores, house to work on. I think that decision can happen to a writer at any point in their children’s lives.

The trick is to decide to do something that you have passion for, that may or may not make any money and that has nothing to do with parenthood. That’s a tough decision, especially when money is such a necessity. The reality is, though, not every decision you make about how you spend your time, has to be a financial decision. This concept is tough for folks to grasp. We are so programmed to think that any time spent away from the family must result in some kind of monetary reward that we put off doing the things that excite us.

Once I made the decision to explore the possibility of producing a book, finding the time to write was pretty easy:

  • While the kids slept for naps and in the evening. (Not too late, though, as sleep is very important.)
  • Waking up extra early before the family was up. (I was infinitely more motivated to wake up early to write, than to wake up early to exercise!)
  • Hiring the occasional babysitter during the day so I could edit or finish a chapter of the book.

This last option was the most challenging to justify. How could I pay a babysitter when I wasn’t bringing in the money to pay for her, let alone at a loss? But a realization finally hit me: the time I was spending in writing my book was important. I was laying for the groundwork for a potential new career, for a potentially money-making book, and most importantly, for my own well-being. Those feelings of well-being, of feeling fulfilled, transferred to my family. In short, I was a better Mom. In the end, it was well worth the money and it has paid off.

In essence, I have created a new career for myself, a career that I never knew I always wanted. I blog for my own blog at as well as for I write for parenting magazines, comment on parenting message boards, and contribute my parenting expertise to any freelancers who will have me. I also speak to groups: Moms Clubs, Mom Groups, Local Networking groups, and Baby Expos all over the country. The work has been rewarding and it’s growing in scope. I hope to make a full-blown career of it.

In addition, I’ve learned how much I love the publishing industry: the marketing, the writing and the publicity. I’ve learned and continue to learn so much of the business, hands on, that I sometimes consult other authors interested in self-publishing. As well, learning and utilizing social marketing on web and creating and monitoring a website are skill sets that can be translated to any business.

In the end, by exploring a passion I had to help new moms, I’ve landed a brand new career that is fulfilling and flexible as well as producing a humorous and helpful guide for new moms that will be available to them forever. Demanding the time to explore a new possibility has been a blessing for me and family. Finding the time to write was well worth it.

About It Gets Easier! … And Other Lies We Tell New Mothers

It Gets Easier...and other lies we tell new mothers“There is no question that being a mother is challenging, but this fun, frank, and prescriptive guide tries to do the impossible and make new motherhood easier. Featuring interviews with hundreds of moms and candid stories from author Claudine Wolk’s own experiences as a mother, It Gets Easier!…and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers mixes humor, honesty, and insider strategies that will give new moms a ‘leg-up’. This upbeat and entertaining book drives home the point that new moms are not alone and that there are things they can do to make motherhood a little more controllable and lot more enjoyable. Complete with resources for further exploration and a helpful glossary, this funny, irreverent book will help ease every new mother’s frustration.”

Your Turn: Win Claudine’s Book

Leave a 50+ word comment in this post by 11:59pm on November 4. That’s all ya gotta do to be entered to win this book. Share a favorite parenting tip or a time management tip. The unbiased and robotic will pick the winner.

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Having Multiple Streams of Income Is Key for the Self-employed Individual

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 at 8:42 AM | Category: Books, Business, Meryl's Notes Blog 11 comments

No LimitsWelcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas (OK, the blog doesn’t live on a server in my house — but that’s where you’ll find me… in Plano, not in the server). We’re happy to be a stop in Sara Morgan’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. Here’s a bit about fellow work from anywhere’r Sara… (Stay tuned in this long post if ya wanna win this book!)

About Sara Morgan

Sara Morgan knows just what it is like to have a good job that is just not the “right” job. As a software developer, she has worked for large and small companies spanning multiple industries. None of these jobs ever provided Sara with the fulfilling life she was searching for and in 2005 she made the jump to self-employment with the start-up of her own consulting company, Custom Solutions, LLC. Sara Morgan is the author of No Limits: How I escaped the clutches of Corporate America to live the Self-employed life of my dreams. For more information about Sara and her book, check out

Sara MorganHaving Multiple Streams of Income Is Key for the Self-employed Individual by Sara Morgan

Four years ago, I quit my high-paying corporate job as a web developer and started my own software consulting business. I was one of the lucky ones, because I had a high-paying and high-in-demand skill set that allowed me to make a good income, despite the inevitable challenges of self-employment.

I realize though that most people seeking self-employment will not be this fortunate. For these people, I strongly suggest having multiple streams of income. By doing so, you can ensure that you are always able to pay the bills, even when one thing you are doing fails to generate the income you need. It is just the simple concept of not putting all your eggs in one basket. This is very old, yet still appropriate advice that applies aptly to the self-employed individual.

For myself, since I am promoting my latest book No Limits full time and have not been doing any software work for over six months, money has just been going out and not coming in. I was lucky enough to have built a small nest egg, which has allowed me to get away with this for a while. However, that can only last so long, so I recently started a third business as an independent garden consultant for The Happy Gardener.

The Happy Gardener is a great company that I only found out about when I interviewed the owner, Annette Pelliccio for my latest book. The company makes and distributes earth-friendly lawn and garden products that are chemical free and actually good for the environment. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know how important it is for all of us to be environmentally conscious, so I am really excited about being able to get behind a company like this.

If you are considering making a jump to self-employment, I would suggest that you have at least three alternative sources of income. This will help you to weather the inevitable “life” storms that affect us all. Other than that, always remember to Work, Live and Have fun!

Your Turn

Leave a 50+ word comment in this post by 11:59pm on October 21. That’s all ya gotta do to be entered to win this book. Tell us about your dream career or whatever strikes ya. The unbiased and robotic will pick the winner.

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Fighting the Green-Eyed Monster…Or Not

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 at 1:00 AM | Category: Books, Meryl's Notes Blog, Writing 8 comments

You Can't Drink All Day If You Don't Start in the MorningWelcome to meryl’s notes blog (this here place you’re lookin’ at) in Plano, Texas (OK, the blog doesn’t live on a server in my house — but that’s where you’ll find me… in Plano, not in the server). We’re honored to be a stop in Celia Rivenbark’s WOW! Women On Writing Blog tour. Here’s a bit about fellow southerner Celia… Yes, Texas counts as the South not the West! (Stay tuned in this long post if ya wanna win this book!)

About Celia Rivenbark

Celia Rivenbark dishes essays about the old south, the new south, and everything in between in her fifth book You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning. In addition to a collection of essays so funny you’ll shoot co’cola out of your nose, Celia gives readers a treasure trove of Southern recipes and the hilarious stories behind them.

For eight years Celia wrote for her hometown paper, the Wallace, NC Enterprise. She covered everything from weddings to funky fruit to dead bodies (sometimes all in the same day). But the big city beckoned so Celia packed her bags and headed to Wilmington, NC and the Morning Star. More weddings but eventually she achieved every Southern girl’s dream. She was paid to be a smart ass (a.k.a. write a humor column).

Along the way she found herself a husband (the sports writer, of course–they are the cutest guys at the paper!), a beautiful baby daughter and a gig as a stay-at-home mom. After her 3,000th diaper change, Celia starting writing a humor column for the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, SC. After all, what’s funnier than 3000 dirty diapers? Laugh along with Celia on her WOW Blog Tour–dates are listed at Visit Celia at

This gal is funny. Put down your drink unless you don’t mind that liquid in the nose thing. Here she talks about the green-eyed monster. Oh my goodness. I’ve met that thing a few times myself and it ain’t purty, but I shush it and play nice. I do, too! Anyhoo… All yours, Celia… No, please leave the server there and start typin’. 🙂

Fighting the Green-Eyed Monster…Or Not by Celia Rivenbark

I’ve always wanted to be one of those classy people who heaps genuine praise on my published friends. I want to gush and purely ooze heartfelt wishes that their Amazon ranking never rises above 1,000. Low is good in Amazonland, you know.

I want to be that person but I’m not very good at it. Because, the horrible truth is that I am painfully, shockingly, horrifically jealous when a writer-friend does better than me.

Which happens a lot since you ask.

Sometimes, though, I try to do the right thing. Listen up.

A couple of years ago, I was attending the Southern Independent Booksellers Association convention in Orlando. About 15 of us author types were doing what amounted to speed-dating. We’d already speed-eaten a couple of tiny ham and cheese on yeast roll thingies before being told to work the crowd, spending 10 minutes at each table, charming bookstore owners from across the Southeast.

All the other authors were familiar to me. We’d traveled in the same circles more than once. It was not, to use a cliché that I just love for no real reason, our first rodeo.

But there was a shy, quiet fellow at our authors’ table. As we wolfed our mini-subs and got ready to rumble, I decided it was my Christian duty to drag him into the conversation. He barely made eye contact. Poor lil fella, I thought. He’s overwhelmed by all of us big-shot authors. Clearly he was a convention virgin.

Is it enough to say that I talked the poor man’s ears off, sharing my sorta-vast knowledge of all things regional book tour? Is it enough to say that he listened quietly and politely even, at one point, smiling a bit?

Is it enough to say that all of a sudden the convention chair walked up and began to talk to the poor soul, earnestly complimenting him on his Pulitzer AND his National Book Award?

Oh. Let me just take my impossibly dumb ass and lumber across the room to charm the book-buyers. Who by now were all atwitter about having such a distinguished guest in their midst.

I’m not being small when I say I can’t remember his name. They say the mind forgets truly intense pain.

Since then, I’ve chatted up David Sedaris and John Updike. And, no, I didn’t ask Updike to detail my car or mistake Sedaris for a hungry drifter and offer to buy him a Hardees Thickburger, which, let’s be honest, he really looks like he could use. Bless his heart.

Three years ago, my book made it to the final five in a national humor contest. Sedaris won. Funny, skinny bastard.

Ditto another book a couple of years later. Oh? What’s this? You really think Jon Stewart and gazillion-member “staff” is more deserving? Okie-freakin’-dokie.

This summer, my most recent book made it to the final three for the best nonfiction book of the year in the South. But what’s this? Another Pulitzer winner beat the snot out of me to take that one. I HATE HIM.

Oh, just joshing. I’m sure he’s a delightful fellow and there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that he is covered entirely in scales below the neck.

Yes, I want to be magnanimous, gracious and giving but, as you can see, it’s not working out too well. If they gave out Pulitzers for simply being a foul-mouthed, small-minded egotist, I’d win. Nah, who am I kidding? Kanye would beat me on that one.

Meryl here again. Good stuff, eh? You can get more goodies like this from You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Morning. Ah, good thing I always have a cuppa Joe first thing in the morning… oh wait, that’s not the kind of drinking she’s talking about, is she? Back to bidness, you wanna win my copy of this book, dontcha? Yes, the things I do for you. Oh, it’s a great book (here’s the book review for all to see) not some lousy one I’m willing to dump on someone else.

Leave a 50+ word comment in this post by 11:59pm on October 13. That’s all ya gotta do to be entered to win this book. Share a story or whatever strikes ya. The objective and robotic will pick the winner.

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