Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Author Mama" by Christina Katz

Interview with Christina Katz About Author Mama

Why would you do an e-book after two traditionally published books?
Like most traditionally published authors, who blog, teach and speak, I have a backlog of quality content to draw on and some of it, though not all of it, will lend itself to the e-book format. So I plan to write several e-books over time and Author Mama is the first. I have old sketchbooks full of ideas I’ve had over the years, which will lend themselves well to e-formats. Equal opportunity access to e-publishing technology offers all of us writers a lot more creative leeway than we have traditionally had, which can lead to exciting and fun possibilities.

Besides being in e-book format, how is Author Mama different from Writer Mama and Get Known Before the Book Deal?
Author Mama is the story behind how I landed my book deal for Writer Mama and then wrote the book. I wanted to describe in play-by-play form what writing a non-fiction book is like for the benefit of moms considering the possibility with the lessons I learned along the way. One of my students who is on the verge of querying agents with a nonfiction book proposal says that Author Mama “goes there.” In other words, it deals squarely with the rollercoaster ride that most first-time authors experience. The format of my traditionally published books is not as driven by my personal experience, even though it informs them both. In Author Mama, I include all of the books that I recommend first-time authors read before, during, and after the book deal, so they can become as informed and empowered as possible.

Who are the intended readers for Author Mama?
Well, my two traditionally published books don’t target the same exact audience and neither does Author Mama. When I wrote Author Mama, I had my Writer Mama readers in mind, but of those readers, I was specifically focused on anyone seriously considering writing a book someday. Not every writer mama wants to write a book someday. Some are perfectly happy writing and publishing articles. So Author Mama is a slice (a writing book), of a slice (for moms), of a slice (who are considering becoming an author some day), and therefore too small of an audience for a traditional publisher. But many of my students and fans have this question and would like to answer it for themselves. Author Mama is for them.

Did you have any hesitations about self-publishing?
Considering how much content I have sitting around languishing on my hard drives, I am sorry that it’s taken me this long. The person I had the hardest time convincing was myself. I’ve had some hang-ups about e-books that I’ve had to get over in order to move forward. As long as my work continues to serve the best interests of my readers, why wouldn’t I self-publish? I certainly have a lot more to offer than I would just letting it sit around collecting virtual dust. At this point in time, I feel like it would be foolish not to e-publish, even as I continue to write traditional books.

Are publishers anxious about traditional authors self-publishing? Doesn’t this undermine their business?
I think, when it comes to self-publishing the opportunity always exists to take the enlightened view or the fearful view. I have heard people in publishing make comments that authors self-publishing is terrible news, which is absurd. The fearful attitude is, “Oh no, if that author can self-publish, then we lose.” The enlightened view is that when the people you partner with are more successful it’s good for you too because it raises all boats. Besides, when all the folks involved in a partnership are empowered and come together because they want to be there, that’s good for the relationship. It’s important to have good boundaries and communication in business and know the difference between what’s yours, what’s not yours, and what is joint ownership. When you keep these things in mind, and communicate clearly, there is really nothing to fear but fear itself.

How do you keep people from "stealing" your e-book?
I can’t stop people from stealing my e-book. I am completely powerless over that aspect of e-publishing, as most of us are. However, my target audience is not teenage boys and young men, who are supposedly the folks who do most of the pirating, according to the experts who study these trends. So I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Also I don’t plan on giving my e-books away to avoid the impression that they are “freebies,” whereas with a traditional book I always do a lot of giveaways to get the content out into circulation. E-books are a lot easier to circulate. I can send one to you in seconds. So at this time, I don’t see the point in giving them away and encouraging others to share them without permission. I’d prefer to sell them to a smaller, more exclusive audience, who will see the value and, hopefully, respect my copyright.

What are three major points you hope aspiring writers learn from reading Author Mama?
  1. That landing a traditional book deal and delivering a well-written book is possible but not easy by any means.
  2. That someone else has survived the rollercoaster of emotions that come part and parcel with a first traditional book deal and you can too.
  3. That some writers actually give up along the way and don’t succeed at delivering their first book but this won’t happen to the writers who read Author Mama because forewarned is forearmed.

Is this book only for nonfiction writers or can fiction writers benefit from it too?
Author Mama is specifically about my nonfiction book writing process, which is different from the process for other genres like fiction or memoir. However, a lot of my readers, who write in other genres, have said over the years that they find a lot of takeaways in my nonfiction experience. Also, I fully expect Author Mama to convince a few readers to try writing a nonfiction book, who might have only considered themselves other types of writers or not even writers at all.

Can I order a print copy of Author Mama?
When the book comes out in the final version in May, I will make it available for purchase in print-on-demand format, as well as all the other e-formats. During April, while it’s in beta, Author Mama is available in PDF format, which means you can print it out and put it in a binder yourself, if you prefer a hard copy. I’ve invited the first readers to participate in the process, so I’ve included a feedback form with the e-book but participation is voluntary. However to sweeten the deal, I will provide those who share feedback on the beta version with the final version for free, after it’s updated in PDF form.

How can I order this e-book for someone as a gift?
Sure you can. When you place your order, simply submit their e-mail address in the notes section and I will e-mail the copy to them instead of to you.

Thanks for your questions about Author Mama. If you’d like to learn more, please visit here.

About Christina Katz, The Author Mama
Christina Katz has been teaching writers to cultivate thriving careers for the past decade. Many of her students start by writing short articles and work hard and long until they eventually succeed in landing traditional book deals. Christina is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, both from Writer’s Digest Books.

In addition to writing books and articles, Christina publishes a weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer, hosts The Northwest Author Series, travels to writing conferences and literary events, and coaches a hundred writers a year. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Dartmouth College. She lives in an idyllic cottage in Wilsonville, Oregon with her husband, daughter and far too many pets.

Keep up with Christina, if you can, at

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Catholic Religion

Merry Christmas!

Here’s something I like about being Catholic: you can go to church EVERY SINGLE DAY if you are so inclined.

A little background on me and religion for those of you who don’t know. I was raised by my parents (both the oldest of four same-sex kids) as … basically a Type A Hippie. They are good people who instilled wonderful values in me. If I’m a tad self-absorbed it’s just because I’m an only child.

I went to church (one Presbyterian, one Bible) sometimes with my grandparents and enjoyed it. When I was 14 I went to a Youth for Christ rally with my friend Jane and got myself saved. For the next couple of years I went from Hippie to Exemplary Protestant Girl. My dad was mostly supportive; it drove my mom nuts!

Then came the Age of 16 ½ and all religion went out the window. I was rather naughty until I hit about 24, then I met a guy we shall name Aron. Aron was also a little naughty, and then 9 months into our relationship he decided we should STOP being naughty. I was taken aback and almost broke up with him.

Instead, I drug us to church and found that I enjoyed the Catholic experience. I went through the conversion process while also planning our wedding, but then couldn’t go through with it. I wanted to be totally sure that I wasn’t converting just because my husband was Catholic. I ended up converting the following year.

I do not go to daily Mass. I sleep in all snuggled up to my babies. Aron goes whenever he can. Lately our oldest son goes with him sometimes, at 6:30 in the morning. I think it’s cool that he wants to go. I think it’s cool that he’s not pressured by his dad to go, nor is he discouraged from going by me. When Sam’s a little older and I can leave him sleeping in bed, I’d love to take Joel to Mass some morning. It’s a positive way to start the day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are You Open to Life?

People ask me all the time if I'm done having kids. I honestly don't know.

People make rude comments about the number of children I have and how hard my life must be and how they don't have more kids because they enjoy their sports car or their freedom. I think that's good for them that they know they are done.

I want to say to rude people who think I should be done having children, "What if my sixth child turns out to be the one who saves your life, you jerk? Cures cancer? Saves the life of someone you love by taking a bullet for them?"

Think before you speak, you rude people. Why is it "okay" in America to have two or three children, but if you have one you are expected to have more, and if you have four or more you are clinically insane and probably broke?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Anna Duggar

Dang, I love this girl, who married the oldest Duggar son and has a baby with him. She’s got a little spunk in her, which I saw on a recent episode (keep in mind my mom tapes the shows and I watch them who-knows-when, so it might be an oldie). They own a used car lot, so she happened to be driving around a Hummer H2, which she hated because of the gas mileage. At the end of the episode she said something about how she feels better driving it since her baby is in a cloth diaper. She joked that someone in a Honda may be getting better gas mileage but their baby is in a disposable diaper.

Anna, let me point out a few other things you do to offset the environmental damage from temporarily driving the Hummer [I know, because my minivan gets 17 miles to the gallon on a great day].

Sometimes when you do the interviews on the show I can see that when your daughter is tired she goes for your boob. I assume you nurse. This saves formula cans, lids and scoops from the landfills while saving you tons of money.

Also, generally when a woman nurses exclusively she enjoys at least a few months of having no period (for me it’s been about a year per child). This means I’ve personally saved 5 years’ worth of tampons and pads.

Finally, by not using artificial birth control, you are saving birth control pill packaging from landfills, not to mention the packaging from alternate forms of birth control. My birth control never lands in a landfill because it’s simply written on my Natural Family Planning chart and is saved for future perusal. Someday my kids will simply recycle my paper fertility charts. And if you are welcoming kids from God whenever they show up, you don’t even have to worry about charting!

You go, girl! If you’re ever in Overland Park, Kansas, look me up! We can go to the thrift store up the street from my house and … buy used, save the difference!

P.S. When you buy and accept used clothing and other items, that is also a form of recycling. So there.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How to Annoy Your Child

When your child bites into their french fry and accidentally chomps his finger so hard that it bleeds, make sure that as you bandage it up you say something like, "Baby, your finger is not a french fry. I keep telling you that."

You see, I think laughter is the best medicine. My parents taught me that, especially my dad. He's quite the cutup. They annoyed me on a regular basis, like the time I was dating a guy twice my age and they kept paging me (hey, it was the 1990s) with callback numbers to places like seedy motels and old folks' homes. Yeah, they were a regular Laurel and Hardy, my parents. Kinda still are.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Duggars and What's Really Important

I love watching the Duggars with my kids. I get opportunities to teach my kids about things like owning your own used car business, owning rental property and trusting God to help you through any situation (like having a million babies).

I teach them that going to college is not the most important thing AT ALL. Sure, my husband went to college, but he was in his late 20s when he knew what he wanted to do and then paid for it himself and has been an employed engineer for the last 14 years. I didn’t go to college and am a money-making writer and homeschool teacher. Their 3 uncles didn’t go to college and run successful businesses. My dad didn’t go to college and got to retire successfully from the post office at age 55.

Most of all, I love that watching the Duggars teaches them that the road less traveled can be the most amazing and thrilling journey. I don’t get upset thinking of Michelle Duggar having another baby like some people do. While the haters are sitting on their butts reading about the Duggars in People Magazine while getting ready to take their kids to daycare, the Duggars are raising kind, smart, successful human beings on their own while taking NOTHING back from society (like welfare, food stamps, unemployment).

And the argument that those “poor” older kids have to help out around the house and with the younger kids makes me laugh. THOSE particular haters are the ones who can’t fathom getting their kid to do a chore around the house, let alone teaching their kid to care about other, younger human beings.

The Duggars should be applauded. I also watch junk like The Real Housewives of [every single city] and enjoyed the Beverly Hills episode where a 4-year-old child was MIA from most of her $60,000 birthday party because it was so obnoxiously over the top.

Really, Society? We’re supposed to value STUFF and APPEARANCE over people?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Smithsonian Triops Kit Honest Review

Do Not Buy Smithsonian Triops Kit (aka Sea Monsters)!

We bought one at Michael's for Michael (haha) when he was going through a hard time with his OCD. He was so excited to watch these things hatch and to care for them. We tried both batches and nothing happened. The kit was over 10 bucks, which is a lot of money for a little kid to save up from an allowance.

I wrote the company asking if these are for real. They sent me a new set of eggs with a set of instructions with typos that looked like a 7-year-old had written them (no offense to 7-year-olds).

We cared for these two different sets, making sure we followed the instructions and kept them warm, etc. Nothing happened again. Sure, I was skeptical ... how do you freeze-dry something or however they come and then put them in water and they come to life? Let's do that with humans, wanna?!

Too bad for the Smithsonian that they put their name on a crappy product. Too bad for Michael's that they sell this piece of crap product. We're hoping Santa brings sea monkeys for Michael ... I've heard better things about those!!!

Do Not Buy Smithsonian Triops Kit (aka Sea Monsters)! They are sold under many different names in all sorts of stores and online. UPDATE: I do recommend Sea Monkeys ... they always hatch for us and are SUPER CHEAP. Ours came from Toys R Us but I'm sure you can get them all over the stinkin' place.

Good luck, and let me know how yours turned out. I enjoy your comments, even the ones calling me a moron because I couldn't get them to hatch :-)

Updated April 2013 ... I always love reading the comments on this post and wonder why it is one of most popular ... why are so many of you Googling this topic?! Anyway, the reason I was so upset about this product not working (and we did everything right TWICE) was because my kid was disappointed, and am a Super Mama Bear.

I hope you'll forgive me for being a Triops Moron and check out some other fun stuff on my site ... my kids and husband are QUITE entertaining!!!!!

And if growing triops makes you hungry, check out my book The Tater Tot Casserole Cookbook ... maybe I can't grow a triops very well but I can make dinner and dessert and live to write about it! And my kids even like the stuff!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The 2010 McLoughlin Family Christmas Letter


Dear Family, Friends, Neighbors and the Blogosphere,

Merry Christmas! Here’s what’s been going on in our McLives:

Joel's Zoo
 Joel (4th grade, 9 years old) started the year out right by winning 2nd place in our Scouts Pinewood Derby race, then moved up to Webelos I in the summer after he and Daddy went to Scout camp. He loves his gymnastics class, socializing any chance he can get, and took a class on making sushi. After Lilly the Hamster died (soon after he got her and within hours of spending $60 on a vet bill!), he got Daisy the Hamster, and she’s doing great. He enjoyed volunteering with Meals on Wheels and at Harvester’s with Scouts and would go back every day if he could. Over the summer he started going down the massive wicked huge straight slide at Young’s Pool, something Mommy is afraid to do because it would probably make my swimsuit split me in two.

Michael orchestrates the putting up of the tree
Michael (2nd grade, 7 years old) won 1st place in our pack in the Scouts Pinewood Derby for siblings. Like Joel, he’s in a gymnastics class, but unlike Joel he isn’t in love with socializing! He does, however, trot across the street to the school for his Lego Robotics class. As far as swimming prowess, he now goes off the diving board and hit all the slides at all our pools. The kid can make ANYTHING out of paper and recently made a flying ambulance (#42, OPFD, the one that took me and Sam to the hospital!) complete with angel wings!

Daddy made Cal's closet polka dotted!
Callie (kindergarten, 5 years old) did gymnastics for a while this year but is more of a singing, dancing, drama kind of girl. She loves makeup and swimming and being a girly girl. There’s also a broken-down, worn-out dress she loves that is getting all holey, and it’s been worn so much I think I just saw it walk out the front door. Her nickname is “Grandma Wrinkles” because of her selective hearing and, yes, I have taken her for multiple hearing tests. She honestly doesn’t hear you calling her until you say, “Hey! Little Grandma!” She also loves her new room with 3 turquoise walls and 1 purple (finger-painted on by everyone) wall. She got Rose the Hamster as a 5th birthday pet because we have commitment issues with getting a dog! She’s also turning into a little artist like her brothers.

Eva loves her 1956 baby doll crib

Eva (3 on December 6th) continues to be a happy and crazy girl. You can find her making messes with things like honey, chocolate syrup and soap, and then you can find her washing dishes, recycling and “sitting on the pot” all by herself. She has a perfect round belly that I just want to bite! I nursed the girl for almost 3 years and now you can find her in her Drunken Bottle state sacked out on the couch with her bottle of chocolate milk hanging out of her mouth (yes, I know I’m a bad mom, and I brush her teeth often to make up for the copious amounts of sugar). She is always caring for her babies, and if the girl doesn’t grow up to have 10 kids I will be shocked.

Safety first in the woodshop!
 Sam turned 1 in October and is walking and talking, climbing stairs and recently learned to go down. He likes to climb the boys bunk bed ladder and hang out in the woodshop with his dad and wishes he could carry around scissors and a screwdriver all day. Mommy sees many problems with this, though … which leads to him throwing himself down on the floor in the cutest little fits! What little hair he has just may turn out to be reddish … we love us some gingies (Ginger-haired kids).

3 boys and 3 girls!

I have to give a nod to our extra named Jordan. She is 13 and goes to Holy Cross Catholic School and has been invaluable as a helper to our family. She plays the flute and piccolo, volleyball, and helps out at a vet’s office. The kids are in love with her and wish we could adopt her. Aron and I don’t think she’s so bad, either! 

Aron is Den Leader for Cub Scouts, a Religious Ed teacher, Lego Robotics coach, Master Fisherman and superfine dad and husband. I know it sounds pukey, but when you still dig someone 15 years after meeting him, you have to tell the world! As usual, he traveled some for work. His poor wood projects gathered (saw)dust as he put our 3rd bedroom to use, turning it into a room for the girls to sleep in their bunk bed. His reward was to get a shiny red HUGE truck which gets about 2 miles to the gallon, but it's cool!

I’m still homeschooling, writing, scrapbooking, cussing and mothering. My life consists of going to the pool, parks, field trips, indoor play areas, etc. We made it to Branson with my dad’s family this year, then went to Colorado to visit Garden of the Gods, Focus on the Family, the North Pole, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Rocky Mountain National Park for some hiking, and Grand Lake. Field trips this year for “school” (it’s so much fun I hate to call it that!) included Channel 5, Overland Park fire station, Downtown Airport, Harvester’s, a recycling center in KCK, Lakeside Nature Center, and multiple trips to the zoo.

We’re praying everyone has the best year ever in 2011. Take care of yourselves and of each other.

Love from Aron, Kerrie, Joel, Michael, Callie, Eva and Sam McLoughlin

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Mac Family Update Part Five (A Routine)

Just when you thought I was the strangest combination of Type A meets Hippie, I go and tell you that I’m working on a FAMILY ROUTINE. Yes, the crazy finally got to me and I ordered a couple of books called Managers of Their Homes (the writers are from Leavenworth, Kansas, which isn’t too far from my neck of the woods) and A Mother’s Rule of Life.

Both of these were written by homeschooling moms with big families, so they know my special circumstances. They know how to fit everything into their day, including homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, chores, errands, time with their spouse, time with their kids, time with their friends and other family members, time for special projects like sewing or scrapbooking or writing and yes, even time with God. It’s an awesome concept that works for many, many women.

You'd die laughing if you could see me cutting up tiny squares to put into slots for every half hour of the day for all 7 members of my family.

Now let’s see how it works for me. Hmmm.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Mac Family Update Part Four (Mr. McLoughlin)


Aron just finished Callie’s room (a.k.a. “The Girls’ Room”). He is such a perfectionist, which is a mixed blessing. It’s nice to have everything just so, but it takes the poor guy a long time to get everything done since he kept encountering issues, like outlets being wired wrong. Then he had the whole thing painted (3 walls turquoise, 1 wall purple, then let the kids fingerpaint on the purple wall, God bless him) and Eva took a screwdriver to one of the small walls. Grrr. Such is life with naughty children. Then the bunk bed was too LONG for the mattress, which drove him nuts so he had to fix that.

Anyway, now he can move on to his 500 other projects. It’s really not funny, but there are about 20 things that need to be done or are broken in our house. No big deal … you learn to live with them and move on. So this winter here’s his short list (honey, feel free to print this out):

Finish making medicine cabinet for main bathroom so we can finally put all the medicines up after 10 years

Make another medicine cabinet for the other bathroom

Build or buy a swingset before someone gets Tetanus on ours and sues us

Type up a waiver for guests to sign before getting on swingset

Fix my garage door so I can lazily use the remote opener again

Fix the blinds in our bedroom that we just bought and are already jacked up

Re-hang the shelf/hooks by the garage door

Fix the huge FAMILY picture frame that fell off the wall when some kid was playing ball in the family room

Fix pedals on Michael’s bike

Fix the front storm door so our tinier of kids can't escape

OR ... he can just forget about most of that and just hang out with us ... we'll make do with all the broken stuff as long as we have our favorite guy around!

He celebrated his 44th birthday recently by playing at the park with the kids over his (long) lunch hour, working and going to Papa Keno’s for dinner, followed by a nice brownie sundae at home. He got a bunch of small gifts from the kids and lots of cards.

And good news:  he got the patches all sewn on the Scouts uniforms (with help from his mom) ... this is a pic of him sewing ... right after I took this picture he showed me with one of his fingers that I'm "number one" ... if you can read between the lines (or fingers).

Next update after Wordless Wednesday on the 8th: A ROUTINE?!?!?!?!?! What is that?!


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