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SPROUT: Grow Your Relationships

28 Apr

lady with laptop

I love this month’s power word (okay, so I will probably say this about every power word), because it speaks to what I love most: people.

The comfort level varies for every writer on how much they share about the writing process with others. And when you get an agent or a publisher, so many of the details are confidential that sometimes it seems better to keep everything under wraps just to be safe. But for the aspiring writer, it’s a wonderful thing to hear from other writers about the process. The more the better, as no one person’s tale is the same as another’s. I will always be grateful to those writers who opened up and shared their journey with me. It made me feel more relaxed in a world that in the beginning felt like a pair of new shoes—pretty, but a little uncomfortable.

When I started writing seriously a couple years ago, I involved everyone I knew in the process. From my kids to my coworkers to my fellow Chicks (of course) to Twitter friends, at one time or another, everyone got to hear me complain about celebrate the sometimes wacky, sometimes wonderful, always wild world of writing and querying. Through writer’s block, query rejections, revisions – we were all in it together.

What this ultimately did was create a strong support system that has gotten me through both difficult and exciting times. These wonderful partners and friends celebrate, laugh, and commiserate with me. I can’t imagine this journey without them and will always be grateful.

So, if you’re comfortable with it, share some of your journey—both highs and lows—with friends and acquaintances. Let those relationships sprout and everyone will benefit.

On a related note, to celebrate this month’s power word, I spent two hours in my flowerbed tonight, planting. After lying here with sore arms, legs and back, I’ve decided gardening is overrated. I’ll stick to sprouting relationships instead.

SPROUT! Want to see humanity at its best? Watch a marathon!

18 Apr

“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”
– Kathrine Switzer

So, you may be asking, what does this have to do with this month’s power word, SPROUT?


As a runner myself, after doing the Disney Marathon in January 2012, I had said that I will never do a marathon again.  Tuesday’s Boston Marathon bombing truly effected me.  I never have thought I would ever qualify to run the Boston Marathon and was not sure if I ever wanted to.

Then came this horrific event, which had me at questioning at first about the world we live in. But after reading all the stories of people coming together to help each other, I realized that is what gives me hope for humanity.

Yes, there will always be a rotted seed that sprouts up from the ground to cause damage to others, but it’s how we react to those situations and come together that will truly show who we are as human beings.

Are we scared? Yes, of course.  My husband said to me jokingly, “no more running events for you, my dear.”  It even crossed my mind.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut what the Boston Marathon proved is that when tragedy hits, we come togetherstronger than ever.

So I will be training for the Boston Marathon. A few days ago, it wasn’t even in my bucket list of things to do.  But now I’m more committed to doing it, because I will never let fear or someone else take my freedom away.

SPROUT! Reach For the Sun

10 Apr

I struggled with the word SPROUT! for a while.  What does it mean to me as an artist? And as an action?

Initially, I felt as though once I’ve planted the seeds and given them nourishment, all I can do is watch them grow.  But that’s passive. There’s no power in that.  Then…I thought of myself as the SPROUT! instead of the gardener.

Glysiak 25 Sept 11 CCA-SA

Glysiak 25 Sept 11 CCA-SA

What would I do if I were sprouting?  Why, I’d reach for the sun.  With each tendril unfurling, I’d reveal new parts of myself.  Pushing and stretching and striving toward the light.  Bringing forth something that did not exist in the world before.  So, that is what I am doing this month.

I’ve pushed myself in both my young adult and middle grade novels, writing new scenes, discovering new traits within my characters and getting words down on the page that bring my stories closer and closer to the light of day. And I will keep pushing, keep writing, keep reaching, keep sprouting.

What will unfold this month when you SPROUT?

SPROUT! Encouraging Other Artists

3 Apr
Artists of every botanical species can sometimes feel alone in a cold, harsh world.

Artists of every botanical species can sometimes feel alone in a cold, harsh world.

Seedlings come in all varieties. Whether newfound ideas or individuals, they are important artistic sprouts for us to encourage. When either a creative project or a creative person is first placed into our lives, we as artists—regardless of where we are in our own journey—can help both them and ourselves grow by our openness, attention and support.

In the past week, I’ve met not one, but two amazing women. For the sake of privacy and universality, let’s call them Young Sprouting Artist and Young-at-Heart Sprouting Artist, or “Yo” and “Yah” for short. If either reads this post, she’ll know who she is.

In each instance, a casual conversation quickly escalated to an immediate connection. I had a hunch I knew the reason, and in both cases, my artistic intuition was subsequently confirmed. After a group exercise class at the gym, stay-at-home mom Yah eventually shared that she is a prolific painter who longs for her first art show exhibit spot but feels discouraged by obstacles. Under even more unlikely circumstances that I won’t detail here, young elementary school teacher Yo eventually shared how she longs to write a Young Adult novel but also feels discouraged, perhaps by her own inner critic more than anything else.

I wanted to reach out and hug Yah and Yo. Mind you, my artistic journey is far from its own apex. Nevertheless, I was overcome with a desire to encourage and support each of these beautiful women. In those honest moments, my artistic soul screamed within, wanting to affirm to them: “Yes, you are an artist! And you are not alone!”

That’s how and why we 4 Chicks dreamed ourselves into online existence. The support and love we experienced for each other’s creativity was so powerful in changing our own lives that we wanted to share it with others. But before all that, we were four extraordinarily ordinary moms who giggled at calling ourselves “artists.” Here’s a quick Chick Quiz to give you an idea of our transformations over the past three years:

  1. Which Chick has written four YA novels? (Hint: the first one, Olivia Twisted, comes out November 2013 from Entangled. Oh, and this fabulous, funny Chick also won a prize at the last SCBWI conference for her costumed impersonation as Honey Boo Boo.)
  2. Which Chick has written multiple picture book manuscripts, finished one novel and started another, while taking on exciting new roles as a college professor and seminar leader? (Hint: she never has a bad hair day. That should give it away.)
  3. Which Chick won a national contest to have a children’s book published and is working on an historical novel based on the life of a female pirate? (Hint: she wrote Addie and Ollie in one evening but has been writing the novel on and off for…much longer.)
  4. Which Chick edited our theme song video, started running triathlons, marathons, Tough Mudders, and is currently studying to be a nutritionist and personal trainer.  (Hint: her muse name comes from all the creative parties she throws at her house and also for hosting our monthly meetings. Yes, her rattan pool furniture is our “set.”)

Like healthy grass, the roots of healthy artists grow horizontally, strengthened by the support of other shoots and reaching out themselves.

Tomorrow I’ll be at a nearby community college, where I was asked to attend a fine arts student expo to speak casually about the blog, blogging and freelancing with those looking to pursue artistic careers. Coincidence? No such thing. After being so deeply inspired by Yo and Yah, I’m more excited than before to share whatever artistic seeds I’ve learned along the way.

Have you met someone recently who could use your artistic love? Or is it your own germinating idea? Either way, cherish your sprout and help it grow together with you.

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