Enlighten Me, Hard to Label, The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

My Niche is Life


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Someone asked me recently how I would categorize my blog.

This is important:

Niches MAKE a freelance writer’s career! 

I know this from the multiple webinars and classes I’ve attended given by successful freelance writers; writers who make enough to support themselves with their writing; writers who are well-known by editors and get major assignments for feature articles; writers who are paid to ghostwrite books for uber-busy CEO’s, who sell every essay they write for a nice amount; writers who…do I need to go on to convince you? Probably not.

So when asked that question, I began to mini-panic because even though the questioner is not a freelance writer and therefore doesn’t know all this, it’s still important for me AS a freelance writer AND a blogger to have a well-prepared sound byte.

Which I don’t have because I don’t have a niche for my blog.

As a writer, I like to write creative nonfiction pieces about spirituality, self-improvement, travel, and education. These are my passions. I love to write personal essays about those singular seconds in life that snap us awake like alarm clocks blaring in the predawn. Do you know these seconds?

The second you heard your newly born child or grandchild cry, or coo, or say your name.

The second you spotted your soulmate.

The second you got your first big career break.

The second you had your first loss.

The second you heard bad news from your doctor.

The second you shared your darkest secret with a friend and realized she would never judge you for it.

These are the seconds that change our lives and they fascinate me because in that tiny space of time, a pinpoint is poked in the fabric of the universe and light pours in like a laser tattooing a new synapse in the network of your brain. Nothing is ever the same…and it was just a second.

You could have ignored it, missed it. But you didn’t.

That’s what I love to write about. How do I collapse that into a sound byte?

So, when my questioner asked me to describe my blog, I said I like to blog about life, and insights, and enlightenment.

I wasn’t satisfied with the answer and I’ve been trying to edit, rewrite, and re-phrase for a week.

My blog is about those seconds that poke holes in our lives so our universe can expand.

How’s that?

Let me know what you think, so the next time someone asks, I’ll be able to answer with something that sounds at least an iota more writerly.


Books, Enlighten Me, The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

Alexander McCall Smith


Your first sentence is the most important thing you’ll write because it might be the only one that anyone reads.

So says Alexander McCall Smith, author of one of my favorite series, //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400034779&asins=1400034779&linkId=bc6631b913342eaff914fb2ee5bd8fda&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=FFFFFF“>The #1 Ladies Detective Agency,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400079446&asins=1400079446&linkId=b8d2810df755effcdc44bbf2edb12244&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>44 Scotland Street Series,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400077087&asins=1400077087&linkId=f1e886a36d86868808ae5157e249c19d&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Professor Dr. von Igelfeld series,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400077095&asins=1400077095&linkId=cd635f39cf172cf14dcc5f95feb47fde&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Isabel Dalhousie series,

AND a crate full of stand-alone //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1101972831&asins=1101972831&linkId=e42836ef3815c76b29cded06ddcb5f69&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>novels,

AND short stories, AND… hmmm.

You get the idea…this guy is prolific and his work isn’t formulaic or repetitive. His characters are dynamic and chock full of contradictions and quirks just like the rest of humankind.

I got to listen to him talk about his work, his life and his travels for 45 minutes today at an event hosted by the Westerville Public Library. Walking on stage in his traditional tartan kilt, Einstein hair, and rhinestoned reading glasses, he began his talk with the subject of culture and etiquette.

Americans, he says, have issues with etiquette but they all seem to revolve around when it’s okay to wear white shoes.

casual classic clean couple
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Other things he’s picked up in his studies of culture include that Californians bond over stories of their health challenges, and German professors use their doctorate in their titles, making a professor with a double doctorate, Professor Dr. Dr.; his wife Frau Professor Dr. Dr. . Of course there’s a complexity if the wife has her own doctorate. Then she’s addressed as Dr. Frau Professor Dr. Dr.

In a talk sprinkled with such humor, I was enlightened, making my way to the highest level of nirvana in a short 45 minutes. Buddha had the 8-fold path. Alexander McCall’s Smith (AMS) has the UK Tube that employs, I believe, two major rails for a high-speed trip to self-actualization.

RAil # 1 on the AMS Path: Everything is what you want it to be. I can’t count how many times he talked about events gone awry that always led to something positive and funny. These same circumstances could bring most of us to tears or tantrums. The moral of the story is that everything that happens in our lives will be sad if you want it to be; joyous if that’s what you’re after; funny if you look for moments to laugh.

The trick is to figure out what we want more of in our lives and look for that in every situation…every single one.

Rail #2 on the AMS Path: People are kind when we are kind. Throughout his talk, Alexander McCall Smith spoke about living in or visiting different countries and how kind the people were there: Botswana, Italy, Scandinavia, Scotland, Muncie Indiana. Yes…Muncie. I’m sure that he’d receive kindness from the same stranger who cut in front of you in the Starbucks line because he exudes a very strong kindness-aura. You can’t help but feel better about the world when you’re in the same room with AMS.

I hope his kindness, nothing-is-serious energy rubbed off on me when he shook my hand. I could stand to be more kind, to take myself less seriously, and to exude so much warmth that I could wear a kilt on a cold November day in Ohio.



And, BTW, I’ve become an Amazon Associate, so if you click through my book links and purchase any of these from Amazon, I will make a commission from your purchase at absolutely no additional cost to you. I am using this commission to defray the costs of maintaining my website. 

Enlighten Me, parenting, The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

Who is Julie Marie Wade?



Brief Bio:

Funny you should ask…I just finished a book written by Dr. Julie Marie Wade…yes, Dr. She earned a PhD, teaches at Florida International University, is widely published, and took the time to attend the virtual book club of which I am a member. I feel like I’ve actually met her.

About her writing:

She is a poet, and so uses that language, word-play, imagery that the poet uses so well to write about abstractions and also the universal human experience…really, who hasn’t squeezed a zit? But who among us has equated our zits with semiotics?

Take that, multiply it by five thousand, add your mother to the equation and voila…you have a lyrical essay about Skin which grossed me out, brought tears to my eyes, made me think about symbolism, and filled me with compassion for the author and for all teenagers everywhere!

What is important about this? 

When you read the book…if you read the book…Small Fires, you will understand that it’s about parent-child relationships. In this case, tragic relationships because Julie no longer has one with her parents and I’m sad for them. Yes, for them.

As a parent, I can’t imagine my child doing anything that would cause me to abandon our relationship which isn’t to say there isn’t something out there somewhere, but I can’t conjure up that scenario. I’m not, nor have I ever been a perfect parent. There have been times that I’ve been so livid with my children that I could hardly be in the same room with them…I won’t go into the horrific details, but suffice it to say, the details that made me that angry probably would have been mildly annoying to someone else, and ignored by someone else…which is why I’m trying to stay open-minded about Julie’s parents.

It’s difficult.

So, help me out…

tell me what your child could do that would cause you to cut them out of your life completely. And help me understand how and why.

I really would like to know.

Add your comments and/or share this question with someone else who might be able to expand my consciousness.



The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

My Favorite Writing Podcasts

I haven’t always listened to podcasts, but at a writing conference a few years ago, I heard about one that started my podcast journey! I find these podcasts inspirational, educational and motivational…so they’re good. 🙂

  1. #amwriting podcast
  2. storygrid podcast
  3. writers on writing
  4. writing unblocked

And on Creativity and everything else in life:



If you have another writing podcast that helps you live a writerly life, please share!

Writing Business, Writing life

Writing Part time

I love to write.  My day goes better when I get the chance to write.  Now, I’m holed up in my den meditating, spending my fifteen minutes catching up with my social network and writing.  It’s a mini-vacation in the middle of the work week.

And it’s also tough.  It’s tough to have the energy to write after a full day of work.  It’s tough to lock my husband out for a few hours while I indulge my creative side.  But it’s so rewarding that I make it happen.  I’ve written four novels and am working on the fifth…all part-time.   I’ve re-written, edited and re-written AGAIN…those same four novels.

Know what I haven’t really done?

I haven’t really sent those novels to agents, developed my writing BUSINESS, or found homes for  thousands of personal essays…which I’ve also rewritten again and again.  Sure, I’ve got some publishing credits.  I’ve developed a pitch that I use at writing conferences when I book appointments with the agents who frequent those…I’ve attended hundreds of writing conferences, met people, read their books, taken notes, shared what I learned on this site and through personal contacts.  I’ve joined writing groups.

The problem is I don’t really like the business side of writing.  That quite possibly is a career-busting admission, but I think that most of us would agree.  I want to spend my time being creative, not being enterprising and self-promoting.

The truth is…we have to do both.  So, here’s my commitment to my writing business based on years of listening to other writers tell their tales and agents telling theirs.  I’m going to devote one night a week to researching markets and agents, catching up on my writing networks and polishing my query material.   It’s going on my electronic calendar right now…well, as soon as I publish this blog post.

And I’m going to update you regularly on my progress.

Care to join me?  Let’s get marketing, writers!

Writing Business

Query Letters

Heather Webber, author of the Nina Quinn series and the new Lucy Valentine series, spoke at our Sisters in Crime meeting yesterday to tell all of us the best way to get a query letter noticed by an agent.  Query letters and cover pages have always been difficult for me—much like keeping my mouth shut around my in-laws and getting to the point when talking with friends.

Heather’s tips:  in the first paragraph give the agent a taste of the book’s main character and what it’s about.  Hook them into the story with more details in the second paragraph and supply the word count and your writing credits in the last paragraph.   Keep it short…1/2 to 3/4 of a page.  Most agents receive hundreds of queries a week and won’t read past the first sentence if it’s boring.

If you want to learn more about what’s going on with Heather and her other writing buddies, read her blog The Cozy Chicks.

Books, Conferences, Writing Business, Writing life

Ohioana Book Festival

It was my first visit to the Ohioana Book Festival.  I attended a workshop on publishing that was informative and interesting and then I ate lunch.   Maybe I should have attended another workshop, but who could walk past the lunch stand with that fantastic aroma and not stop?  But the bulk of my day was spent in the book room with all the authors, and that’s where I had the most fun today.  I talked with Casey Daniels, one of my favorite mystery writers.  She writes about Pepper Martin who sees dead people who hire her to solve their murders.  I met Don Bruns who writes the “Stuff” series which I just began this afternoon.   Of course, I can’t walk into a room full of books and not spend a ton of money.  I kept it under $100 today and feel extremely self-disciplined!

I also wanted to mention my two writing groups who support the Festival and also had tables there…International Women Writer’s Guild and Sisters in Crime.  One group focuses on spiritual and inspirational writing, the other on mysteries…both links are here on my website and worth checking out, as is the Ohioana Book Festival.