Goodbye to a Season

Last week, I boxed up about 20-odd books, slapped a shipping label on them, and sent them on their merry way to the southeastern U.S.

All the books in the box were books I was supposed to read and review for Christian Children’s Book Review. Many of them I’ve had for two years. Sitting. Collecting dust. Some went from Kansas City to Seattle and back again with me. I feel a little sorry for the woman who will open the box this week (maybe today) and find dust on many of the covers.

I first started reviewing for CCBR when my daughter wasn’t yet a year old. The founder and managing editor I count as a friend, and we were both delighted to meet each other when I went to the Pacific Northwest two years ago for my son’s bone marrow transplant.

Since transplant, it had become increasingly obvious that the time I had for CCBR was basically nil. During transplant, my son spent 70 days of the roughly 160 days we were there in the hospital. After we returned, my time and energy was devoted to putting out the fires associated with his care, growing more determined that my books were publishable, and reestablishing a normal relationship with my daughter and husband.

But I wasn’t ready to declare defeat.

I tried putting weekly reminders on my phone to do reviews. They were ignored by yours truly, other than having a guilt trip every week, at least once.

I tried moving the books so they were accessible, only to have my husband gripe about the piles of books everywhere. (Admittedly, we live in a tiny house, and there’s just not enough room for everything.) So back to the bedroom they went, where I only really saw them when I went to bed around midnight, or later.

Until a couple weeks ago, when my editor asked me what was up, and I admitted I just couldn’t figure out how to fit CCBR in with everything else I had going on. I’ve published three books in the last eight months, with a fourth in the works, and three more in the pipeline for (hopefully) by the end of the year. I’m a homeschooling mom. And my son still sees multiple specialists and therapists, with appointments at the minimum of once a week. We both agreed that it was probably best if I passed along my books to another reviewer.

You can’t imagine the sigh of relief I had. A burden had been lifted.

I’m incredibly grateful for the time I spent with CCBR. Kristina, the founder, has helped me figure out a few nuances in grammar that I, admittedly, still screw up a lot. And she has been a truly good friend throughout the last several years. I don’t regret the time I was there in the least, although I do regret that my pride kept me from throwing in the towel much earlier.

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Why It’s Important to Read Other Blogs

Due to couple of technical glitches on my end of things, this post apparently didn’t run on Monday as I’d intended. Enjoy!

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If you’re like me, you watch your fair share of crime dramas on TV. I love Bones, Castle, and NCIS immensely.

But, if I’m not careful, I can allow them to color what I interpret as correct where police procedure is concerned.

This is why it’s important that I–and you as a writer–read non-fiction, whether in blog form or in book form.

I love Lee Lofland’s book, Police Procedure and Investigation, and his blog, The Graveyard Shift. With Castle in particular, he blogs about what the writers/actors did wrong where police procedure is concerned, and praises them when they get it correct. By reading this blog, I learn a lot, and that colors my view of other shows when I watch them. TMOTH is probably getting a little tired of hearing me go “They wouldn’t really do that in real life” or Oh, boy, I can’t wait to see what Lee Lofland has to say about that tomorrow.”

The same holds true for reading blogs by writers and agents. Lately, with having a little one in and out of the hospital, and being a busy mom, I don’t have a lot of time to read lengthy books on the topic of writing. Truth be told, since I got my Kindle a couple months ago, I haven’t cracked open a real book other than review copies for Christian Children’s Book Review. So, for the writer in me, blogs are the best way to stay current with my craft.

I almost always try to stay up with three blogs a week: AuthorCulture, Wordplay, and Rants & Ramblings. If I have time, I usually like to check in with several others, but these are the ones I’ll read while eating breakfast or lunch, or if I have a quick ten minutes where the kids are being good.

Sure, the four I’ve mentioned today are probably not the most comprehensive, although I feel they’re pretty good. Heck, Rants & Ramblings has been on the Writer’s Digest list of best sites for writers several years in a row. But, the important thing for me is that I stay connected. If I were to say “Chuck it. I’ve got too many irons in the fire. I’ll pick my writing back up when the baby’s better,” I’d lose my grip on the market, on what’s good writing, on my passion for doing what I want to do.

By staying active on the blogs, I’m also keeping my name out there. I don’t comment on every post, but I comment frequently enough. And that, as a writer desiring to be published, is an important thing.

So, you tell me: What blogs do you make sure you read frequently? Maybe I’ll have to add a few more to my “must read” list.

Until next time,