Get Published!

I can’t remember how I met Ericka Clay in this land of blogging and my own personal journey to write, but it’s been a ride – and through her I’ve met a slew of other writers, bloggers and cats (she travels with them virtually). She never ceases to amaze me with her hilarity on social media, not to mention being a published novelist. I had to pin her down and ask about her latest transformation – publishing. A mother and wife as well, asking for any little bit of time was a tall order and I knew it. I did it anyway. Expect anything less? Let’s see what I found out:

Ok, so Tipsy Lit has gone through many changes recently. Was this planned? Or did you find something shimmery beneath your feet and EUREKA! You’re publishing? Share.

I definitely wanted Tipsy Lit to be in the publishing space, but I really wasn’t sure in what vein.  I tried going the literary magazine route which was great because I was able to read so many brilliant pieces by very talented writers.  And this got me thinking, “How many of these writers have longer compilations they’d like to promote?”  I’ve always wanted to combine creative writing, publishing and my background in social media marketing and all of a sudden a glittery light bulb turned on: PUBLISH THROUGH WATTPAD!

Get Published! An Interview with Founding Editor of Tipsy Lit, Ericka Clay on Wattpad @fillpraycloset @tipsylit #writing #publishing #author

How does your day look? I mean, you’re an author, poetess, publisher, social media maven, mommy and wife!! *gasping for breath here*

Hold on, I need a second.  I feel a panic attack coming on!  Seriously though, as long as the “wife” and “mommy” parts come first each day, I try to give myself a break when it comes to everything else.  My daughter goes to school for four hours, so as far as publishing and writing goes, I complete my work in that time.  I like to make sure that Tipsy Lit stuff is under control for the first two hours of my day (answering emails, promoting our work through social media, updating the blog, etc.) and then I write for an hour every day and try to hit anywhere from 500 to 1,000 words on latest novel, White Smoke.   I also do social media marketing work for a production company based in LA, and I schedule that work in the evenings after my daughter has gone to bed.  Oh and if I have time I write a poem.  I just reread all of that, and I seriously sound like a lunatic.

What do you see on the horizon for Tipsy Lit? What do you want it to be when it’s all growed up?

Right now, I’m taking it a day at a time.  As long as we’re publishing high quality literature and growing our reading and writing community, I’m happy.  I’ve thought about possibly crossing over into small press territory, but having a publisher myself, I’m fully aware of the hard work, dedication and investment it takes to make a publishing company thrive, and I’m not at that point in my life right now.  But maybe someday.

What are you looking to publish, specifically, and why Wattpad? Give us the quick and dirty.

Jessica Sita (our anthology editor), and I discussed what we’re looking for, and we’ve decided to consider all genres, as long as they’re literary quality.  I’m personally looking for passionate writing and authors who are creative yet still critical when it comes to editing their manuscripts.  And neither of us are fans of erotica or gratuitous violence.

Ah, Wattpad.  Did you know there are over 35 million users on Wattpad, all just sitting there, patiently waiting to read YOUR work?  That’s why I love Wattpad in addition to the fact that it speaks to my social media marketing heart.  At the end of each story, Wattpad includes a set of sharing buttons so readers can send your story through their social media channels.  Love that!  And really what’s amazing is the psychology behind it.  Say you’ve self-published a book and you submit it to Tipsy Lit to have us republish it through our Wattpad account.  You then receive an entirely new readership who will not only want to read any other work you’re currently selling, but they’ll most likely spring for the hard copy of for the self-published version of your Wattpad story because, what reader doesn’t want a signed copy?  So you’ve basically boosted your sales by publishing through us and widened your exposure as an author.  All without spending a dime.

I think it’s important to note that what makes publishing through your personal Wattpad account different from publishing through Tipsy is our online prowess.  We have over 10,000 subscribers on our blog alone, not to mention our  built up social media networks, so you already go in knowing that you’ll gain a whole new following.

Lastly, the Wattpad app.  Readers can put it on their phone or tablet and read FREE stories and they’re formatted to be read just like on your Kindle.  Now, that’s pretty sweet.

How do you unplug? Or do you? Are you really just Small Wonder 2.0?

I loved that show, so probably yes.  But really, I try to find time to read, I take baths, I drink Sleepy Time Tea Extra and pretend it’s a vat of wine.  So that.

Get Published! An Interview with Founding Editor of Tipsy Lit, Ericka Clay on Wattpad @fillpraycloset @tipsylit #writing #publishing #author

Advice for dare-to-dream writers, ahem, me.

Don’t dream.  Do it.  See, that’s what separates the Oprahs from the non-Oprahs.  Oprah didn’t just place her chin on her palm and lovingly sigh, “Gee, it would really be nice to be a universally known amazing mega superstar who’s a billionaire and shouts cars at people – You get a car!  And you get a car!”  No, Cristina.  Oprah never dreams.  She does.  So my advice?  Be like Oprah.  P.S. – I love Oprah.

Seriously, what’s the deal with the svelte ankles?

You’d have to ask God.  He’s the one who delivered the gift.

*     *     *

That’s all she wrote, folks! If you want that kind of glittery-power behind your writing, head over to TipsyLit for all the details. It’s all about connections, meeting people, building genuine relationships, and presenting them with boxes of Sleepy Time Tea Extra, I’m thinking. In all seriousness, this is the real power of social media and creativity. TipsyLit is harnessing that into a platform where you meet like minded people, or not so like minded, but stretching you all the same – and that’s what it’s all about. What have you got to lose? Your dreams, so says Ericka – and we can’t afford to lost those.  Now start writing!

If you have any questions leave them in the comments, I’m sure she’ll answer them, between robot charges.


Get Published! An Interview with Founding Editor of Tipsy Lit, Ericka Clay on Wattpad @fillpraycloset @tipsylit #writing #publishing #authorEricka Clay is a published novelist and the founding editor of Tipsy Lit, a publisher that cuts the @#%$^&.

Ericka has been awarded a number of times by Writers Digest for various short fiction pieces, she has written four novels (one of which placed as a quarter-finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest) and is in the process of writing her fourth novel, White Smoke.

#7QT Still Friends?

I’m writing like a mad woman still, and getting ready for NaNoWriMo. If you’re doing it this year, let me know and buddy up! I’ll need all the pushing I can get not to scare myself out of finishing.

#7QT Still Friends? Wherein I chronicle the crazy, anxiety-riddled-madness that is life-without-my husband #anxiety #family #marriage #nanowrimo by @fillpraycloset

I will say this, all the work that I’ve been doing since August has just been hijacked by my antagonist. Now, his background story is what I’m focused on fleshing out. I wonder, does this mean that all the work I’ve done thus far was for naught? Nah, I am sure I can use the 10K+ words I’ve written already as a help when creating the new plot. What is wrong with me? I know, we ask this all the time.

I thought I would give some updates on all-the-things today, just because you can’t make this stuff up, but mostly because we’re friends.

— 1 —

Mike left for Poland on Tuesday. He’ll be gone for 9 days. I always make it seem like I’m fine and it’s no big deal, but when he’s at the door about to go, I start to cry. I know it’s totally silly, but he’s really my best friend. I mentioned to him a few days ago how we have our little sayings in both English and Spanish – not like lovey-doevey stuff, were talking funny stuff – taglines that we add when we find something particularly funny. Think adding Adobo to anything, instant awesome! That’s what our banter is like at home. Loving to laugh is only surpassed by loving to make each other laugh.

He got to Poland safe and sound and will attend mass at St. Mary Magdalene church for me on Saturday, take pictures and video of the short walk to the house St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross stayed at when she visited her mother.

We just celebrated his birthday this weekend and he loved all of his gifts (dinner, a G1 Vintage Transformer – a Dinobot if you must know, tickets to our local Comic-Con, a Transformer T-shirt and a new Autobot Transformer – we had a theme – I also baked red velvet cupcakes!).

#7QT Still Friends? Wherein I chronicle the crazy, anxiety-riddled-madness that is life-without-my husband #anxiety #family #marriage #nanowrimo by @fillpraycloset

— 2 —

Just before Mike left, Gabriel got sick – as in, what the fever, oh my goodness, I am already paranoid and now it’s all in overdrive. So we took him to the doctor Monday. Diagnosis? Strep. Gabriel was excited. Excited? Yeah, it’s all about the “Bubble gum medicine” for him. True to his silly nature, he provided status updates via a makeshift thumb dashboard. All the way down was “feeling super horrible” to a thumbs up being “totally awesome and ready for gym class”. He had Monday and Tuesday off and now he’s back at school.

#7QT Still Friends? Wherein I chronicle the crazy, anxiety-riddled-madness that is life-without-my husband #anxiety #family #marriage #nanowrimo by @fillpraycloset

— 3 —

Last night, I had a lay Dominican meeting and brought the boys with me. It was pouring out so we left early enough to make up for the traffic that was expected. I am still presenting every month (next month and in December, I’ll present two modules at a time). We were stuck in such traffic that Gabriel had to go to the bathroom. What should have been a 15 minute drive, became a 45  minute crawl. I couldn’t pull over, so Alex and I were talking him through some very dry visualizations.

Alex: The desert, crackers, the sun, the beach!
Gabriel: NOOO! The ocean!
Me: The GPS says 4 more minutes
Alex: Let’s go back to the desert
Gabriel: No, the oasis!

Needless to say, we made it to the meeting, but were so early that the door was locked. No bathroom in sight. What’s a mother to do? I couldn’t leave and find someplace, traffic remember? I for sure, couldn’t have him relieve himself outside. Now we all know about my love of glasses of water. This also means I have bottles of it lying around in my car, unfinished. Not many, mind you, let’s not have that picture.

#7QT Still Friends? Wherein I chronicle the crazy, anxiety-riddled-madness that is life-without-my husband #anxiety #family #marriage #nanowrimo by @fillpraycloset

Think like 2 or 3. I took a deep breath and jumped in the back seat and had him “relieve himself” into the bottle. Purell for one and all as I dumped the contents, head facing away and eyes closed, at the curb. I know. I had to improvise because it was that, or a very wet, and embarrassed boy.

— 4 —

It’s just me, and just the boys. I love it. I get all the hugs, kisses and rough-housing I can stand. Our first night alone fell on an evening night mass! They only offer evening mass during the week on Tuedsday. The boys wanted to pray for their father and light a candle, we got there a little early to pray before the Blessed Sacrament too.

#7QT Still Friends? Wherein I chronicle the crazy, anxiety-riddled-madness that is life-without-my husband #anxiety #family #marriage #nanowrimo by @fillpraycloset

— 5 —

We set up camp in my bedroom and have sleep overs each night while he’s away. This means I also get all the snoring, so it’s like Mike is still home. :)

I’m not sleeping well. At all. When Mike is gone I am in charge. I know that sounds silly, but I rely on him to protect me, the boys and the house – because I’m a bit of a mess. Generally, we “shut it down” early. There’s a routine, we turn off the lights, we draw the blinds, he puts the last few dishes in the dishwasher and turns it on, wipes all the counters (see how much I don’t do?) and sets the alarm. I’m already upstairs at this point when he’s home, tucking the kids in. Well, Cristina the most anxious person this side of Pennsylvania, thought to herself last night what happens if I never wake up? How will Mike know? The kids need to know how to call him. 

Me: Gabriel, wanna play a game on Mommy’s phone?
Gabriel: We can’t play games during the week Mommy. It’s a school night.
Me: This is a special game.

And I proceed to teach Gabriel how to call Mike (on both his cell and his work phone – double points, Gabriel!) from my phone. Alex was already asleep, but he was given a recap session at breakfast. With a test immediately after. I know. Totally embarrassing.

— 6 —

It didn’t ease my anxiety. I was up in at 2AM wondering if a pain in my neck (that has been there for the past couple of weeks) could be something more than just a pressure point that my friend Cathie rationalized for me earlier in the day. Why be rational?! It’s 2AM, it’s dark, I’m alone, in charge of everything and it’s raining!! This meant that I had to test the theory to see if I was right. I searched for my neck heating pad and used it for 15 minutes a couple of times.

I texted Mike to let him know I couldn’t sleep and God bless the time difference, he was around to talk. I scurried to the boys room so I wouldn’t wake them. We talked about nothing, but he made me laugh about “something-something-something I need to chill”. I tiptoed back into my room and turned on my awesome sleep app. I drifted off at 4:30AM or so.

This morning, the pain has subsided significantly. Cathie – 1, Cristina’s Anxiety- zero (Always zero, actually)

— 7 —

Back up at 6AM! See, Mike usually takes care of the boys while I get ready, so when he’s gone, I have to get up an hour earlier than usual to get myself ready and then spend 7-8AM getting the kids ready. This isn’t so bad, but when you have a crazy night like I had, it’s a tough morning for all involved.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Welcome to my world people! Still friends?

#7QT Still Friends? Wherein I chronicle the crazy, anxiety-riddled-madness that is life-without-my husband #anxiety #family #marriage #nanowrimo by @fillpraycloset
This is why I drink wine. Cheers!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Impostors Unite Because There’s Cake

I don’t just blog. I don’t just mom and I don’t just wife. I also work, as in, a day job. It pays the bills and I am wholly grateful for that. Because, ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent. If you don’t get that reference, it’s official – I’m old.

There’s this thing that companies do called the “year end review” *cue scary violin music and creaky doors*. This is where you are supposed to meaningfully assess your strengths and areas of improvement since the last time you looked at yourself in the “work fun-house mirror”. I don’t keep a list of strengths even though I know this has to be done every year. When will I learn? I’m the kind of gal that loves and prefers self deprecating humor instead of the meaningful sell-yourself dialog that’s preferred. Think of it as the “I’ll make fun of myself before anyone else does” defense, just in case you don’t agree, we can all have a laugh! It’s been this way in every thing I have endeavored to undertake whether it be blogging, writing, singing, this great Mommy gig I got, everything.

Why do we do that? Why can’t we talk ourselves up? Why does it seem like we’re trying too hard? Is it just me?

Impostors Unite  #workingmother #inspiration #adminproblems
Go ahead. Click it. See where it takes you.

Thing is, I’ve always felt like a fraud. Like at some point, someone is going to find out that my corporate career started by way of a random mistake. Then all the jobs thereafter were landed by way of smoke and mirror dancing done by, yours truly. Not to mention that I “came up” during a time when financial consulting was rollin’ in it (think House of Lies) and not because I was good at anything in particular. Rationally, I know that it’s me that kept me on that trajectory, jazz hands and all, but I’m not always rational – part of my charm.

My husband gets upset when I devalue my talents and make it the frame through which others see me. That’s a mouthful, and it took me a minute to understand what he was saying because I had a few glasses of wine at that point. The next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about that pearl of wisdom he tossed my way, and when I get to thinking, I research. Turns out, there’s a syndrome! (Of course there is) Class, take a seat, let’s see what I have.

According to Ann Friedman at Pacific Standard, I have what’s called the Impostor Syndrome. She writes:

It’s a phenomenon in which people—usually high-achieving professionals—don’t consider themselves qualified for their position and convince themselves that they’ve cheated their way into it. It doesn’t matter how much work they’ve put in or how much experience they’ve acquired.

When I read this, I kid you not, I heard angels singing Hallelujah. But that quickly stopped, because I thought, she knows I’m a fraud!!! As my mind raced I kept reading (I multitask) and saw there was a scale. A scale? The Impostorism Scale (Leary, Patton, Orlando, & Funk, 2000) I won’t post all the details here. Just my score. 26. I don’t know what that means. There are no results by which I can tell if I am knee deep in the syndrome or just, you know, pinky-toe’in it.

Here’s what I think I can do to change this the next time I have to look in the “work fun-house mirror”

  1. Email Collection: Every time I receive an email that says I did a great job, or how much fun someone had at an event, I’ll stick it in a folder (not the paper kind, come on, trees!). I don’t have to bask in it and get all narcissistic about it, but it will be helpful for those times when I have to pull out some sunshine, negotiate a raise or land a choice project.
  2. Stop comparing myself with others: Why? I don’t know them. I don’t know what they’ve been through. I’ve never seen their resumes. They may be suffering from Impostorism Syndrome like I am (support group in the cafeteria anyone?) The only person I should be comparing myself to is me. Me one year ago, 6 months ago, a week ago, the last post I published and 500 words I wrote. Why? Because that’s a person that I will always want to know and help to be the best person she can be. I’ve got a vested interest in me.Impostors Unite  #workingmother #inspiration #adminproblems by @fillpraycloset #youdontknowme
  3. Keep doin’ me: I don’t know if I’m meant to do this day job, ya know? I mean, I left it close to four years ago to stay at home with the chitlins, become a teacher and, I had to come back. Sacrifice ain’t just about choosing a salad when you want cake. I’m making the most of it though. I am wholly thankful for having a job and helping to support my family. But, To point #2, I have to keep trying to do the best I can in all areas. When that’s happening, I feel better about my contributions both at work and at home.

Side note:

What I do now, is the same job I left years ago and was adamant I wouldn’t come back to. I had a meltdown on a NYC subway train, during morning rush hour, just a few weeks before I quit. My husband will tell you, it was raining and I was dressed in my usual black attire. I always dressed for a funeral in my last job. My last boss? She was like Miranda Priestly’s even more evil twin sister from The Devil Wears Prada. Thank God I don’t have that at my current job.

I remember my husband was wide eyed as he saw me unravel between sobs, and didn’t know what to expect. He kept ducking to look out of the window onto the changing platform, trying to time his “talk me off of a ledge” speech with how many stops were left before I had to get off the train. I wasn’t in love with my career anymore, it was time for us to break up. And maybe, that’s the problem.

When you take a professional inventory (professional Mommy’s count too), do you like what you see? How do you help talk yourself up? And if you think you have Impostor Syndrome, you probably do and you should totally meet me in the cafeteria for some chocolate cake salad and camaraderie.

#7QT Get out of Your Prayer Rut

I didn’t meant to have this be the only post this week, and I also didn’t mean it to be early (again!). Alas, I stopped and started every day this week, and ultimately got angry deleting 3 different posts I started. Probably a bad idea. Wouldn’t be the first time.

I thought an early post would be good for Tiffany, since she asked for prayers – she’s heading out to Maine to visit her sister. This is the first flight where she takes her 8 year old son with her (and leaves her hubby and 3 year old at home.

I struggled with how to order this, not to mention which ones to include! Should the rosary be at the numero uno spot, or should that be the last one I discuss to keep it at the forefront of your mind. How can I argue? Pick any one of these and you’re golden. So without any further ado, and in no particular order, here are some ways to work your way out of a prayer rut!

— 1 —

Rosary To pray the rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother. I didn’t say that, Saint John Paul II did. Sometimes when I pray the rosary it’s because I need the next word. I need to know that I have the next bead already planned for me. Lately, I’m coming to the notion that I prefer boundaries and rules. I feel safe within them. I don’t feel confined, but protected. When I pray the rosary, I know that my mind can do whatever it wants (because it doesn’t listen when I tell it to pipe down) because I’m all about my rosary time. Speaking of which! This one is on it’s way to me. It’s a Blessed Theresa of Calcutta rosary from Rosaries by Allison. Tiffany got one with pale green beads and since we are doing a special novena this month, I had this one made to match #twins. It will be here Saturday!

New post: #7QT Get out of Your #Prayer Rut  #novena by @fillpraycloset

— 2 —

Chaplet I’m not a big chaplet prayer person, but I know that Tiffany is. I do have a St. Michael the Archangel chaplet in my car as well as an Our Lady of Guadalupe chaplet on my nightstand. Those are the only ones I go to really. And that’s when things get tough. Chaplets show devotion to a particular saint or aspect of Jesus and / or the Blessed Virgin Mary.

— 3 —

Novena These are insane prayer powerhouses, because you’re so focused on your intention. Most times the prayers for any given day just so happen to speak to *your* specific and personal experience.  I am currently praying the 54 Day Rosary Novena. It’s pretty simple really, for half the time you pray the rosary in petition to God for your intention, and the latter half you pray the rosary in thanksgiving – all for 54 days consecutively. I pray the rosary daily anyway, so to tweak and focus on particular intentions is a great way to change things up. There are a TON of different novenas to all kinds of saints, aspects of Jesus’ life and / the Blessed Virgin Mary, causes like a Novena for Impossible Causes, and my favorite, Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots.

New post: #7QT Get out of Your #Prayer Rut  #novena by @fillpraycloset

— 4 —

Spiritual Reading Nothing beats spiritual reading. I love anything written by St. Francis de Sales. I am working my way through the novice modules for lay Dominican formation, so my spiritual reading has been as pure as the daily readings. I keep my Magnificat with me and when I boot my laptop in the morning, I read over the scripture readings for the day along with any reflection that good ol’ Rev. Peter John Cameron, O.P., Editor-in-Chief chose to include that day (there’s the Dominican flavor!)

— 5 —

Liturgy of the Hours These are prayers that I pray daily (just the Morning and Evening ones, I’m a mom not a nun!). It’s a set of prayers prayed throughout the world by the religious – they have to pray them. As a lay Dominican, I am only supposed to pray the Morning and Evening prayers. I use the Divine Office app and listen to it. It opens with a hymn and now that I am familiar with the music, I can sing along. It’s nice to offer your day in the morning. Again, something about not having to be solely responsible for #allthethings, and speaking that, because sometimes we need to say it out loud or it’s never really internalized.

New post: #7QT Get out of Your #Prayer Rut  #novena by @fillpraycloset

— 6 —

Daily Examen I find that I have a hard time going to sleep unless I’ve done this. I feel like my day is not allowed to close without a proper examination conscience. I don’t make a big deal of it, and in fact do this in the shower before bed. I figure, I’m washing the day’s funk away, may as well clean my soul at the same time. The examen is simple, so simple that you can quickly gloss over it. I’ve written about this extensively when I first started blogging and again in April. Basically, you start at the very beginning of your day and count all the blessings you’ve received, list off your big-ask prayer intentions, bring to mind all that you’ve done wrong in the day – and believe me you have, pause and take time to remember that He loves you anyway (I visualize a big hug. What can I say? I’m a hugger) and close with a promise to try again tomorrow. Isn’t that awesome, simple and perfect in the shower? Here’s another tip, if you had a bad day, you can cry in the shower and no one will have to know. You can get your cry on, your sad on, your whatever on, but as soon as that water goes off, you’re done. Tomorrow is another day!

— 7 —

Confession I was told by a Dominican friar that I should get myself to confession once a month. Confession! I am a month overdue. What? I’m not perfect. However, confession seems like it’s scary, but it’s really not. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s no shame and most times, the responses you get will astound you: “Me too” and “You take yourself too seriously”. Maybe I just luck out and get really sympathetic priests, but I think you’ll find that it’s a deep clean of your soul, if we look at the Daily Examen as like a quick anti-bacterial wipe of the soul.

There are so many other ways to work out of a prayer rut that I didn’t mention here (Adoration, Lectio Divina, and praying for others come to mind!), so why don’t you tell me what you do to work out of a prayer rut? Or maybe share your favorite way to pray? Share in the comments so we can all benefit! Safe travels, Tiff!

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!