Official Blog Update

In January 2015, after three+ wonderful years of blogging about my family’s journey with celiac disease and gluten free living, I decided to stop this blog.

My family’s lifestyle has not changed – we’re still gluten free, we still deal with the challenges of having a child with celiac disease – but I no longer feel compelled to write about it on a regular basis.

I decided to move on to a different topic, one that is at the forefront of my life: writing and mothering. Please click the link below if this appeals to you. (I still post gluten free recipes on occasion!)

Writing at the Table: feeding my dream and my family

However, if you’re at the beginning of your celiac or gluten free journey, or you have come across this blog in search of a recipe or some commiseration, there are many archives available. I wish you luck on whatever journey you are on!

Kindest regards to all, and a belated yet heartfelt thank you to those of you who have followed me here over the years!


Moving on out…

My dear readers, this will be my last post on my much beloved blog, celiac kiddo (sniff!), but you can still find my gluten free recipes, and my musings on writing, kids, and life in general, on my new blog, Writing at the Table. If you’re following this blog, you won’t receive many more alerts, but you can follow me over there, if you’d like.

I hope you know how much I appreciate you reading my words here, and perhaps, over there, but either way, I’ll always be grateful to you for visiting this blog and making me feel like I wasn’t writing into a void. I’ve made such lovely and heartfelt connections and friends during my three+ years here. 

endingsI will miss this space, but part of life is knowing when to move on. When I first began this blog it was on instinct. Bunky was diagnosed with celiac in 2011 and it felt like my life was crumbling (faster than 1970s gluten free bread). It didn’t, of course, and that was in part from the support and comfort I received from you. Living gluten free will always be part of our lives, but it’s no longer my sole focus. Also, my dear girl is growing up (as is my little guy!) and I would like to respect her privacy more and not focus on her life with celiac.

A pic from our holiday photo shoot 2014

A pic from our holiday photo shoot 2014


My childhood dream, one that continues to follow and haunt me (in a good way), is to write. That’s what I’ve done here, and will continue to do on my new blog.

Feeding my dream and my family is my new tagline. I’m claiming my title as a writer more firmly now, but I’m still a mom, and my gluten free family needs to be fed. A lot.

Wishing you a happy and peaceful New Year. See you in 2015!


Time for a Change!

Oh, it’s been on the horizon for months now, I’ve hinted at it, and now, FINALLY, it’s happening. Please don’t panic, I’m not going anywhere – well, not entirely true, I’m going somewhere, but I do hope you will come with me to… dum da da dum…

My new blog!

Writing at the Table, writer + mother feeding my dream and my family

writing at the table screenshot

For three and a half years now I’ve been blogging here at celiac kiddo. Recipes and rants, I used to say, but it’s been more than that (I hope so anyway!). I wrote from my heart about having a child with celiac, about living a gluten free life in a gluten loving world. Over the years I grew a small but solid band of readers, and I am so grateful to every single one of you.

flickr photo credit, shimelle laine

photo credit: shimelle laine via flickr

I hesitated to make a change for a while because I didn’t want to lose anyone, and let’s face it, change is scary. Well, it is for me.

But I’ve been shifting and drifting on the blog for a while now, as you may have noticed, writing more about my life and less about celiac. I’ll still be posting gluten free recipes because feeding my family (body and soul) is as much a part of my life as writing is.

I am a mother and a writer.

ivyland railroad kids and mom

Part of the reason I’m starting this new blog is to show how the two can be integrated, how for some of us, they have to be.

I hope you will join me in as I turn this corner of my blogging life. But if not, please know that I appreciate the time you spent here! I realize that you can’t please everyone, or write for everyone, so I’m letting go of my fear and leaping into the future.

photo credit: Brian Smithson via flickr

photo credit: Brian Smithson via flickr

I’ll be posting weekly here and on Writing at the Table for the next month or so, to ease the transition, but I would be SUPER psyched if you subscribe to my email list and/or follow me there. 


As a fun little incentive, I’m having a month-long contest running the first four weeks of December. Each week I’ll randomly select one person who subscribes to my email list to win one of my favorite writing books!

Enter to win, the first drawing will take place and be announced on Tuesday, December 9th!


The first is “Still Writing” by Dani Shapiro, an incredibly inspiring and practical book that helped reinvigorate my writing life.


If you’ve already read it, you can gift it to a friend! It is the holiday season, after all.

*This contest includes my entire email subscriber list, so if you’ve already signed up you’re eligible!

Thank you dear readers for all your support over the years, and please let me know what you think of my new blog!

(Also, I’d love any advice or tips on transitioning from one blog to another from those who’ve done it before, since this is quite new to me.)

Starting Over

We are settling into our new lives here in the suburbs, or as my father refers to it, the country.

Yes, those are sheep. No, that's not our backyard.

Yes, those are sheep. No, that’s not our backyard.

I’m getting used to driving everywhere, which is putting my former exercise routine in serious jeopardy. I don’t exactly miss pushing Little Guy’s stroller all over Brooklyn with bulging grocery bags dangling on both handles, but it was keeping my butt in check. I have yet to find an adequate replacement workout. I guess I could do something banal like join a gym (yawn), but I’d prefer slipping on my very old sneakers and going for a run.

Ah, the bliss of being alone, running free with music blasting in my ears. If you told my adolescent self that I would voluntarily go running, that I would fantasize about going running, that self would have burst into hysterical laughter and then shuffled away nervously.

Until I figure out where I can jog without getting hit by a car (or a deer), I’ll have to settle for this obstacle course:

Doylestown Castle

Castle Playground, Doylestown PA

Climbing through the maze of this amazing castle playground might be good for dexterity, but not so much for, well, anything else. See those dark green swirly slides? They are ENORMOUS and Little Guy goes down himself. This is a kid who until recently held my hand on the puniest of Brooklyn slides. Then again, he is rapidly approaching three. Eeks!


So, here we are, in our new home, in a new town, starting over. Bunky began first grade a few weeks ago and she is THRIVING. The school has two recesses (freaking awesome) and a lovely staff. We adore her teacher who is going on maternity leave next month (sniff and OY) and I can only hope the sub is great, too. There will be bumps, most likely, because Bunky really loves her. “Mommy, she never yells!” Which is pretty awesome considering I do. Ha. Fingers crossed the new teacher doesn’t.

Also, we found THE awesomest gluten free bakery just a few towns over. The Happy Mixer in Chalfont, PA is exclusively GF and the treats are super high quality, rivaling even our old NYC favorite, Tu-Lu’s. Wow, right?

cupcake selfie

They even have Cookie Monster and Elmo cupcakes because they are super close to Sesame Place, which is just RAD.

Let the sugar high begin!

Let the sugar high begin!

But despite this positive start, I’ve been having pangs of nostalgia for what I left behind in Brooklyn. The ease of my old routine, the well worn streets I walked along with my kids, the stores we frequented, the dances Bunky would do at intersections, how she would sometimes scoot home from school, flying ahead of me for an entire block while I held my breath (or chased her with the stroller). All the walking we had to do, which I used to sometimes moan and groan about. Yet I’m missing that physical travel out here in car country.

I realize some of these pangs aren’t about missing Brooklyn specifically (though some are), but more about the fear and anxiety that comes with starting over. I try to remind myself of what my mom used to say about me, fondly, proudly. You can make friends anywhere. And I could. I did. Every summer I went to a new camp and made new friends each time. Looking back, I wonder why I changed camp every year, why I seemed to crave starting over.

Perhaps it was because I was always on the hunt for that elusive best friend, the one I read about in Judy Blume books and my other adolescent favorites. I found many dear and wonderful friends over the years, one or two who I dared to call ‘my best friend,’ and one or two who reciprocated, but the dream was never truly fulfilled. Maybe because it couldn’t be, because what I was looking for wasn’t real.

The other day I caught myself day dreaming about finding new friends here, more specifically, the friend. You know, the one whose children are similar age to mine, who can come over and drink coffee and/or wine with me while we watch the kids run around in the backyard. The one who might even have a husband or partner that my husband likes. (That is a bonus, not a prerequisite.) The kind I’ve glimpsed in grown up books and in movies. Then I skidded my brain to a halt. I know where that path can lead.

Instead of rushing into the fray and going on a rampage for new friends, I will take it slow. I will find my own rhythm here, a new rhythm, in time.

bunky walkiingWhen I’m feeling bouts of homesickness and loneliness, I look to my kids and notice how well they are adjusting. How they love love their new house even though it is still filled to the brim with unpacked boxes and a kitchen that is being renovated by my handyman husband. Even though we ate on the floor for the first week and slept on it, too. Even though I have yet to schedule a play date for Bunky or find a music class for Little Guy. Even though their future playroom is currently uninhabitable and most of their toys are encased in cellophane wrapped bins. They wake up in the morning and want to play outside, and we are lucky enough to be able to open the door and let them.

Gift from my dad. Thanks dad!

Donated by my super generous dad. Thanks, dad!

I’m living in a state of disarray, inside my new home and in my heart, which is not my strong suit, but what a learning and growing experience it is.

Postscript: In between unpacking and exploring our new community, I’m working on my novel as well as trying out new gluten free recipes (because of course), so keep an eye out for more on the blog soon! Plus, the possibility of change is on the horizon…


Leaping off the Ledge

On a scorching July afternoon, a little over one month ago, we said goodbye to our Brooklyn home. It was emotional. Bunky cried in her room and I cried, privately, in mine.

Me and my girl in front of our Brooklyn apartment.

Me and my girl in front of our Brooklyn apartment.

Though imperfect in many ways, our small apartment was home. It’s the place where Bunky was diagnosed, where Little Guy grew silently in my belly. I labored in our room, smothering my moans so as not to wake our restless girl. It’s where we brought Little Guy home, and where we grew, as a family, for three years. Goodbyes are tough for me. But you probably know that already.

family in bklyn simone

Leading up to our departure I was a ball of anxiety. There were complications with the closing of our apartment and new home, worries about transitioning from the familiar to the unknown, and frankly, I was freaking out about having both kids all day with no breaks to speak of (re camp). I reminded myself about the golden days at the lake last summer, digging tunnels and castles with moats that didn’t get washed away by ocean waves.

lake artBut this year the weather didn’t cooperate. Instead of having a mild but warm season, it was strangely cold and rained a ton. (The above picture was a lovely exception.) Some days didn’t rise much over sixty degrees. The bugs were thick as always, but Little Guy developed a fear of them and screamed every time a gnat or fly whizzed by. Which is pretty much about every two seconds. Sigh. All I have to say is thank goodness for the local library and cable TV. (Except for when the rain washed away our satellite signal.)

I’m aware that this may sound rather complainy. Oh, poor us, miserable in our country home because of some rain and bugs. But anyone with kids (or at least a vivid imagination) can imagine that being isolated in the woods with a couple of bored and bickering children (not to mention bickering parents, ha) after leaving a much loved home and not yet having settled into a new one could be a bit…trying.

There were highlights of course. Some days we made it to the lake and dug like gophers.

kids at lake 2014

My outdoorsy girl, hanging in the stream.

My outdoorsy girl, in the stream.

And the Forestburgh Playhouse’s version of Beauty and the Beast was fantastic, the kind of show that is entertaining for kids but also amusing for adults. Bunky LOVED it and Little Guy managed to sit through a good two-thirds, which is a huge improvement from last year’s five minutes. We also had a very successful trip to Sneaker World and picked up these suckers plus some dollar store school supplies.

new hope new house 2014

Oh, and that’s our new house! We finally closed in late August and moved in, um, last night. Bunky started school…today. Check out my demure first grader:

first day first grade 2014

And my superstar:

first day first grade superstar 2014

Beginnings are bittersweet. Saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new. And now, on the cusp of all this change, another goodbye looms near.

My father’s beach house, which saved us this summer from several cold weekends upstate, is to be sold as well. This has been a long time coming, which has given me the time and space to process all the mixed emotions. I’m relieved for my father, but sad to let go of the memories that live within the walls. And on the walls.

My mother's masks.

Some of my mother’s masks, made before she lost the use of her hands to Multiple Sclerosis.

My mother's art.

This is the house where my mother died.

This is the house we came to a week after Bunky was born. It was Mother’s Day and my heart was leaden with grief at my own mother loss.

baby bunky beach house

Last week, before the rush of Labor Day began, we said goodbye to the spacious rooms that held my family with reverence and love during the eight-day vigil of my mother’s death. We said goodbye to the rooms where my babies nursed and cooed, and then later, ran and played, danced and sang amid pictures of my smiling mother as a young healthy woman, with walls and shelves decorated with her beautiful pottery. And of course the beach, where the sound of waves soothed the pain of my seven years without her.

Pregnant with Bunky, my mom's portrait snuck in the frame. Her pottery, too.

Me pregnant with Bunky. My mom’s portrait snuck in the frame. Her pottery, too.

My husband says the best time on the beach is dusk. I agree though I’m also partial to early morning, but there is something magical about the hour before twilight. Everything is softer.

ledge at dusk

Recently the sand near the ocean shifted, creating a ledge that dropped several feet. The kids loved digging into it, making stairs, walking up, sliding down, and jumping. One evening, my husband and I both stared at each other in surprise after our normally cautious daughter took a running leap and flew off the edge. She popped up at the bottom beaming with pride. I felt the usual words bubbling up my throat, the awful and meaningless be careful. I clamped my mouth shut and let her jump and jump and jump.

ledge girl

So much of my time is spent trying to prevent harm. Makes sense. I’m a mother, after all – a totally neurotic one. But sometimes you have to let go. You have to let your kid leap off the ledge. Maybe they don’t always fall perfectly. They may sprain an ankle, twist a knee, or land on a sharp shell. Or maybe not. Maybe they jump and fall and get up and jump again, coming up smiling.

Sometimes, you have to leap off the ledge. You have to trust that you will land. And maybe when you do, you’ll find some unexpected treasures.

beach treasures

My father came along one early evening and I saw the fear and worry cross his face. We are, after all, related. I put a hand on his arm and told him it was okay.

beach sillouette

And together we watched her jump and jump, and fall and land, radiating with joy and pride as the sun set, turning the sky and sand the most gentle of blues.

beach sunset

Here’s to endings and beginnings, and everything in between.

When Life Happens

I haven’t written in days and I’m starting to twitch. We’re moving in T minus two days. And when I say “moving” I mean we’re packing up our Brooklyn apartment, putting most of it in storage and going to stay with my dad in New Jersey, and then, after we trash his house, on to our upstate place. We were supposed to close on our new home at the end of August and move in just in time for school to start… but that’s not happening.

Why? Because life is not some stylized photo shoot. You can’t plan or stage it. You can’t decorate it with pretty props. Life is not a pristine layer cake, like the kind that populate Pinterest and fancy foodie blogs, with frosting smooth as shellac, fondant decorations, the whole thing resting on a porcelain platter atop of a rustic wooden table all beautifully backlit with a vase of flowers and a glass pitcher of milk.

photo credit, Southern

photo credit, Southern

Nope. Life is messy, chaotic, ruthless. Life is one of those sloppy homemade cakes. The kind where the layers are uneven, the whole thing leaning precariously to one side, crumbs litter the frosting, a mess of sprinkles dumped on top, a lumpy slice slapped on a plate with a plastic fork. More like this:

Real life looks more like this. Tastes better, too. photo credit,

Real life looks more like this. Tastes better, too.
photo credit,

Life happens and you’re supposed roll with it. Or you don’t. But there is always choice involved in how you deal with your sloppy cake. You decide if you’re going to freak out, blame everyone else, scream your brains out, yell at your kids/spouse, tear out your hair, cry, rage, throw yourself out the window (or just threaten to do so). You decide how to look at the mess. Is it garbage or a hidden Picasso? This has always been my problem. I tend to choose the dark side. I blame, rage, cry, yell, lash out. I let it take over. I let it control me.

I’ve been having some unfortunate bouts of insomnia lately, as our departure approaches. And in those late night eyeball wide moments, I see everything so clearly. I see the right way, the light way. I think, okay, I can do this! I can choose not to dwell and complain, I can choose love over anger, I can choose to see this new twist/roadblock as an adventure as opposed to a disaster.

But then I wake up. And I’m bone tired and my kids are hungry but won’t eat anything, and I’m wiping butts and making smoothies, and before I know it, all those good intentions fly out the window and my impatience and anger rolls in. I lose it and then feel sunk by my failure. By my inability to change.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I am changing, or at least trying. I’m having enlightened moments in the darkest hours of the night, even if they often disintegrate by morning. I see glimpses of difference, other ways of being.

Yesterday in between the usual child tantrums and parental misery, we had a magical moment in the park. I took Little Guy to pee behind a tree (the kid is like a dog, loves peeing outside) and it happened to be a pine tree and it happened to be populated with dozens of fireflies. It was dusk, later than we’re usually out, and we had just been talking about how we hadn’t seen any fireflies this season, and there they were alight all around us, pausing to rest on blades of grass, on the needles of the tree, inches from our faces.

I pointed at them and said, do it again, and they did. Little Guy was entranced. We brought over Bunky and her dad and we all watched with wonder and awe as dozens of people streamed into the park for a concert, oblivious to our little piece of magic. Then my husband looked up and there were two baby raccoons in the tree, lounging on the upper branches, rolling around, but mostly resting and watching us watch them.

Moments earlier we had been sitting on a cement ledge at the entrance of the park across from the apartment I lived in with my husband before we were married.

Living on the edge. Or ledge. Edge of the ledge?

Living on the edge. Or ledge. Edge of the ledge?

We looked at it, trying to remember where our apartment was, in the back or on the side, what we saw when we looked out the window. We told Bunky about how we used to hear the concerts in the park from our living room. We talked about how she would always remember Brooklyn, but Little Guy would not. Just like my husband, who had been three years old when he left Brooklyn.

I looked at my husband over the kids’ heads and we shared a silent bittersweet moment at this realization.

He may not remember this swing, but we will for him.

He won’t remember this swing, but we will for him.

We told Bunky she could tell him stories about Brooklyn. We talked about how wonderful our time had been here, that we had a good run, but we would begin fresh adventures in New Hope. I smiled as I said these things, which are all true, but it’s not my natural tendency to look at change as adventure. I usually look at it with doom, or at the least, trepidation.

But having kids changes things, people. I don’t want my kids to soak up my lifelong tendency for negativity. I’m trying hard to do what my mom used to tell me to do: see the glass half full, make lemonade out of lemons, choose sweet over sour. But it is not easy. My poor mom, I can see how I must have broke her heart with my bouts of gloomy sadness. How I refused to choose joy even when it was laid out in front of me.

I see so much of myself in my daughter and it kills me. I want to save her from myself, from herself, but I can’t. I want her to love herself and love her life and choose love, but I can’t make her do any of those things just as my mother couldn’t make me. Being a mom is brutal that way. You relive the hardest moments of your life through your kids. And the best ones, too. Like these.

Coney Island July 2014

Coney Island July 2014

coney swings

coney kids

On a city bus, Little Guy's favorite.

On a city bus, Little Guy’s favorite.

The frog, July 2014

The frog, Cutie Playground, July 2014

So, life happens. But I’m learning to roll with it. The fireflies will be there no matter where we go. We just have to look.

family portraitGoodbye Brooklyn. We will miss you.

Judy Blume, A Love Letter

I knew I wasn’t the only one! Who loves Judy Blume, I mean. Obvs. Two awesome bloggers, Dana from the Kitchen Witch and Kim from Gane Possible have created this incredible project, aptly titled, The Judy Blume Project, for all of us writers and readers who love JB. They invited any like-minded folks to write about their own personal Blume-esque experience.


So, here’s mine…

The Reader by Jean-Honore Fragonard

The Reader by Jean-Honore Fragonard

I have always been a reader, and fortunately, I had the kind of parents who put up with my (obsessive) habit. I read in bed, on couches, at the kitchen table, while walking down the street, leaning against trees, and even in movie theaters and concerts (I never left home without a book in hand). It was like my adolescent security blanket.

I had a t-shirt with this crazy lady on it. Still do, actually.

I had a t-shirt with this crazy lady on it. Still do, actually.

Reading was my comfort, my pleasure, my escape. I could do anything, go anywhere, be anyone.

Not surprisingly, one of my favorite young adult authors was – and still is – Judy Blume. She is a prolific author with a gift for writing in both female and male voices, but for obvious reasons, I gravitated to her books about adolescent girls. I loved their awkwardness, confusion, humor, and social anxiety. It mirrored my own. I read and reread Deenie, Starring Sally J. Friedman As Herself, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tiger Eyes and others, wishing I could reach into the worn pages and pull out the characters. Blume’s stories nourished me, they were my surrogate friends, and in some ways, they taught me how to be a person.

Blubber, about the bullying of an overweight girl, was tough to get through. I read it with butterflies in my stomach the entire time, and whenever I thought about stopping, I kept on. Writing a book in the voice of a less than sympathetic character, Blume forced the reader to share the perpetrators’ perspective, an uncomfortable place to be. The lessons I learned about the consequences of choosing cruelty over compassion, taking the easier road over the higher one, and the price you pay for both, astounded and confounded my adolescent self. They still do.

Years later, in my early twenties, I had the opportunity to meet my hero, the author whose words shaped me, and helped solidify my desire to become a writer. I lived in Manhattan where celebrity sightings were as common as pigeons, yet I was never more star-struck than that evening.

When I saw her across the room at a National Book Award party in Gracie Mansion, I was terribly nervous. The fear of making a fool of myself was high on my list of anxieties, but so was another concern that I couldn’t put a finger on at the time. Now, I see what was at risk: a deflation of my admiration.

Well, turns out I had no need to worry. Judy was so gracious, smiling kindly as I spilled out my lifelong love for her stories, and together we talked about her books and writing.

Oh, be still my heart. I don’t think I stopped smiling the rest of the night.

I still remember talking to my mother on the phone as I walked home, dazed and gloriously happy in the cool night air, under the blazing city lights.

Thank you Judy Blume for meeting every one of my expectations, and blazing such a kickass trail of stories that helped shape a generation, and beyond.

Did you read Judy as a kid? Tell me your favorites. If not, what were (or are!) some beloved Young Adult novels?

Guest Post on The Gift of Writing

Photo Credit: The Gift of Writing

Photo Credit: The Gift of Writing

I first came across Claire DeBoer’s beautiful site, The Gift of Writing, about the art and emotional relevance of journaling, when she did a guest post on one of the writing blogs I follow. Her last sentence felt almost like a dare:

“You are the only person who can tell your story, and it is only by writing, sharing and releasing it that you can begin to rewrite your future.”

Despite the fact that I mainly write fiction (except for here, of course!) I felt an itch to meet that dare, and the seed of an essay began to take form. I somehow managed to write the first draft during spring break while Little Guy napped. It’s the story of my mother’s death, which I will revisit over and over again, in many forms, for the rest of my life. This is the latest one:

As She Lay Dying: How Journaling Connected Me to My Mother

Please take a look, if you have a moment. I know it’s not the Gluten Free Rainbow Birthday Cake recipe I promised, but that post is coming soon!

GF rainbow cake slice, princesses not included.

GF rainbow cake slice, princesses not included.

One last thing, I’d like to spread the writing love around and offer a link to my dear friend Anastasia Higginbotham, who is a hugely talented writer and illustrator (not to mention a kick ass self-defense instructor, but that is another story entirely).

She is publishing a series of gorgeously illustrated nonfiction books for children about “ordinary terrible things” that can happen, such as divorce, death, and illness. Her first book, “Divorce is the Worst” will be coming out in 2015 by Feminist Press. Check out her website for a preview. I couldn’t take my eyes off her many beautiful images.

My Writing Process

my writing process 2 Note to my readers: This post is about my personal writing, so if you come here for the gluten free recipes and celiac banter, you can skip this and come back next week when I post a recipe for this insane GF Rainbow Birthday Cake.

gluten free rainbow cake However, if you’re curious about my “other” writing life, read on…

For weeks I’ve been reading through the many wonderful posts from the Writing Process blog tour, and now, in an exciting turn of events, I have been invited to join!

Big thanks to Kath Unsworth of Minuscule Moments of Inspiration, one of my favorite blogs, for including me on the #mywritingprocess tour. Kath is a fabulously talented illustrator and author-to-be who writes poignantly about motherhood, writing, and the magic of life. Her posts are inspiring and beautifully written. Please check out her contribution to this tour.

And now, on to me! i am a writer What am I working on?

My mind is whirling with lots of ideas right now (which is unusual for me, since I’m not really a talented multi-tasker) but mainly I’m trying to rewrite the novel I finished when I was nine months pregnant with Bunky. After she arrived three weeks early, it sat in a drawer (in various homes) for FIVE YEARS.

Yes, I know, crazy. I had been putting off reading it for, well, years. First out of necessity (hello, new colicky baby!) and then out of FEAR. I was scared that it would suck. The longer I waited, the more anxious I became.

Then, this past November I finally got the nerve to dust it off. And guess what? It SUCKED!

And … I was okay with that. Sure, there was a prickle of disappointment for a few mopey seconds until I laughed at myself. Of course it sucked. It was my first draft of my first novel. If it didn’t suck, I’d be some sort of crazy writing genius and that’s simply not the case.

I knew in that moment I had an important choice to make. I could succumb to my fear and use the manuscript as fireplace kindling, or, I could START AGAIN. I opted for the latter.

So, I’m rewriting my novel. There have been times when I wanted to chuck it out the window of our apartment (though it wouldn’t have gone far since we live on the ground floor) and give up, but I’ve muscled through. The story speaks to me. I feel a loyalty to my characters, to myself, and I’m determined to see it to the end, at the very least, the end of this new and better draft.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

This question is a tough one for me because it brings up all my old (and not so old) insecurities and fears about my ideas being unoriginal and/or mundane. Honestly, I don’t know if my work IS that much different than other novels, except that it is MINE. I write from my heart, culling old wounds and dreams for inspiration, unearthing betrayals and mistakes and lessons learned in order to write honestly. I’ve always wanted my words to affect my readers, to pull them so completely into my story that they forget the outside world, so my story becomes part of their own.

Why do I write what I do?

james baldwin quote I write fiction because that’s what makes my heart beat the fastest. It’s also what I love to read, and really, it’s what I’ve dreamed of writing my whole life. Novels, short stories. Reading fiction, escaping into fiction, is how I spent my childhood, my adolescence, and beyond. I would love to contribute my own.

But I also enjoy writing nonfiction, like blog posts and essays. I’ve written personal essays sporadically over the years, but I tend to shy away from them because they can feel too raw, too revealing. With fiction, even if it’s loosely based on my life, or something I’ve witnessed, I get to call it Fiction and automatically there is a distance. Yet, lately, I’ve been writing more personal essays because I think uncovering my own vulnerability makes me a better writer in general.

How does my writing process work?

Basically, I write when my kids are asleep or not around, which is not very often. I have a sitter that comes one morning a week, which gives me about 2.5 hours of uninterrupted time. This is my prime writing time, where I can run off to a café and disappear into my laptop.

But fortunately, I can also write during my son’s naps, because unlike his big sister who never slept more than 45 minutes at a time, his naps are wonderfully predictable and long. I am super lucky for this and try to make the most of this time (sorry to my husband for all the laundry pile-up and dirty dishes).

If I had to describe my actual “process” I think it’s a combo of instinct and continuing education. Since I started revising my novel, I have discovered some truly life/write saving blogs. I am trying to teach myself what I don’t intuitively know, which is the rather large and looming question of how to write a novel. That said, if I spent all my time reading about HOW to write, I wouldn’t get much writing done.

The true secret to being a writer is to actually WRITE.

no excuses I know it seems totally obvious, but it actually is VERY easy for writers to sabotage themselves, and one of the biggest ways is to do everything else except write.

So, when I have time to write, I try to do only that. I put my phone out of reach, I opt NOT to go online if I’m at a café, and focus solely on the task at hand, writing. If I’m at home, I gather everything I need first, like my coffee and snacks, because once I’m on a roll, I don’t want to move from my chair.

Dani Shaprio wrote an excellent book entitled, Still Writing, and there is a great section about creating a pre-writing ritual to get your brain ready to work. Drink a cup of tea, ring a bell, light a candle, take a few meditative breaths, anything repetitive that you do every time to get you in the mood, so to speak.

When I don’t have time to write, I brainstorm: on paper, on my phone, or just in my brain. The awesome part is I can do this anytime, anywhere. I love working on dialogue when I’m pushing my toddler in his stroller, or when I’m (blissfully) alone in the shower. I find it super helpful to take notes and plan out the next scene I need to work on so when it’s time I am READY to GO.

snoopy typing Now, I’m very pleased to introduce the next 3 bloggers who will be participating in the next round of the Writing Tour!

Abigail Watkins writes at Her blog first caught my eye because of its perfect name (I mean, isn’t it the truth!) and I love reading her updates about how she manages to juggle four children and work along with her writing. Here is her bio:

  • Abigail sometimes runs out of time to look in the mirror before she leaves the house, but finds time to write. She is a teacher and single mum of four, and loves to get children hooked on reading. She was discouraged from writing as a teenager, but started again five years ago, and isn’t easily put off anymore.  She has completed two novels that aren’t fit to see the light of day, and is now using the lessons she has learnt to write a new one.

I have been following Amber Strocel’s blog for years, perhaps longer than any other, never wavering in my readership, because I love her down to earth demeanor and her insightful commentary on family life and beyond. Here is her bio:

  • Amber Strocel is a dreamer, writer, green mom, student, wife and chocolate lover. She has been sharing her adventures on her blog,, since 2003. In her professional life she works as the Managing Editor of She loves connecting online, and believes that when moms join forces they can change the world (and their own lives) for the better.

Krista is one of my oldest friends, as in pre-millennial. We met at work and became fast friends/partners-in-crime in 1999. Our shared love of words inspired a website called (only the homepage is active now, alas) – long before there was such thing as a “blog.” She is both literary and fantastical; her stories stretch the bounds of reality in the most fascinating of ways. I’m SO excited she agreed to join the tour! Here is her bio:

  • Krista Madsen, found online at, is the mother of two young girls and the author of two weird novels (Four Corners andDegas Must Have Loved a Dancer). After five years of owning and operating a Brooklyn arts/wine lounge called Stain, she moved in 2009 to Sleepy Hollow, home of the headless horseman along the Hudson. She spent a few mad years covering all the news for a handful of local sites, and is now in spring celebrating a return to her fictional roots, working on a short story for the first time in eons and peddling her freelance “wordsmithery.”

I hope you visit them on May 12th when they post their Writing Process posts, I know I will. Thanks for sticking around for this post! Next up, secrets of making the most sugar-tastic GF Rainbow Cake…