Even before I began pursuing publication, I often considered leaving social media. Being a primary source of contact with so many in my life, it’s not a decision I make lightly. But it’s weighed heavily on my mind in recent months and I’ve prayed about it a lot. I know it’s the right decision for me.
Social media isn’t bad. There are many wonderful people on social media doing amazing things through connections forged on social media. (The recent #AuthorsForFireys auction is a good example of that!)
I still love writing and will continue to publish. Crafting stories, creating teaching materials, and supporting others where I can is a calling. The day may come where it’s time to step away, but today is not that day! :)
I will continue to blog. It’s my hope that leaving Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will be an opportunity to offer more blog content for readers, teachers, homeschool parents, and other writers.
Yes, leaving social media goes against conventional wisdom for authors. And, yes, it’s risky.
But everything I have, I owe to God. He gave His only Son up to die so those in the world might be saved through Him, which includes me. He has blessed me and brought me through the darkest parts of my life. And He did that even though on my best day I’m still a fallible sinner. So doing my best to follow His will for my life is the least I can do.
For those still looking to connect with me and/or follow my writing journey, the best places going forward are here on my website/blog and through my newsletter.
Today’s feature is different. Instead of discussing an entire book or series, we’re going to focus on one poem in Janeen Ippolito’s poetry anthology, A Storm Grows. And she’s going to share the story behind it.
First, here’s the poem and a brief description of the anthology. None of the poems are titled, but this poem comes from the last collection in the book, Sunshowers.
A poetry anthology of those who have remained unspoken for too long. Who have silenced their hearts and souls and now want to break free and be heard.
There is healing in the storm and growth in rain-tears. And always, always a way forward. No matter what.
Janeen: This poem first came to me visually. I really love the look of letters, font, and typography, so sometimes creating a poem is more like painting a visual picture with words of specific shapes and letter-flow. Sometimes my best poems come out this way because it’s a merging of the flow of visuals with the meaning behind them. In particular, “empty”, “open”, “adventure”, “unknown” and “dream” are four of my favorite words in terms of how they look visually on the page.
Janeen: In this poem, after I wrote it, I realized it was focused on the emptiness you feel when you’re starting a new project, a new goal, a new part of your life in some way. Staring at the blank page and wondering what possibilities are there. Starting new ventures makes me feel 50% incredibly alive and 50% completely terrified, so flowing into a poem was a way of giving the newness shape and beauty and form. I wanted to acknowledge the emptiness, the dread that can come with new things, and offer hope and encouragement for that stage in life.
K.A.: That’s beautiful, Janeen. Thank you for sharing your creative process and influences for this poem.
Janeen Ippolito believes you should own your unique words! She writes steampunk fantasy, urban fantasy, and poetry, plus she creates writing resources, including the World Building Made Easy series. She’s an experienced teacher, editor, author coach, marketing strategist, and is the leader of Uncommon Universes Press, a traditional science fiction and fantasy publishing house. She’s also the cohost of the podcast Indie Book Magic. In her spare time, Janeen enjoys sword-fighting, reading, pyrography, and eating brownie batter. Two of her goals are eating fried tarantulas and traveling to Antarctica.
K.A.: Laura A. Grace is here today talking about her new release, Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl!
Welcome, Laura! Tell us about Dear Author.
Laura: Eeepp! I would love to! I am SO excited to be here today!
My book is called Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl, and it is fifteen letters with six illustrations (yes, six because I’m a big fan of books needing more illustrations these days) that are specifically written to indie authors. I wrote about all the emotions a fangirl like myself feels while reading their books and what I would love to say to authors personally as they labor over their works-in-progress.
Laura: Here is the official blurb for my nonfiction motivational read. :)
Think your words might not matter? Think again. Words have the power to change lives, especially when they are used to create meaningful stories. In this collection of letters, bookish fangirl Laura A. Grace addresses topics related to every writer’s journey. From “character conversations,” to embracing one’s unique writing style, to celebrating a release day—there is a letter for every author no matter where they may be in sharing their story with others. “Dear Author” includes six illustrations by Hannah S.J. Williams.
K.A.: Where did the idea for Dear Author come from?
Laura: Earlier this year, it became blatantly apparent I was struggling deeply with postpartum depression after my third child was born due to a lot of stress. In order to focus on my mental health, I felt like I needed to stop book blogging as well as pull back from a few other commitments I had.
To say it broke my heart is an understatement. I am extremely passionate about supporting authors and was scared I would be unable to blog for a time. Because of that, I decided to write a letter to my author friends, pouring out my heart of why I cared so much for them and their stories (and wanted them to keep writing). It was sort of a moment of me asking, “If I could say only one thing, what would it be?”
However, after that first letter, I didn’t stop. I was deeply moved by what I had written and continued sharing all of what was in my heart. It helped me handle the days when I felt lonely and missed being active online.
K.A.: That’s tough to step away from something you love, especially when you’re already hurting. But it’s important to take care of yourself. And it’s such a brave step to honestly face a situation like that, take action, and then share those emotions with others—reaching out to them from a deeply personal place. Wow. *hugs*
K.A.: So, how did these personal letters transition into a motivational book? What was the thought process behind it?
Laura: “Hey, what if we actually shared this with more then one author? That would be so cool, especially if it could encourage more than one author!”
That was totally my initial idea to really consider publishing these letters and not just letting them sit on my computer. LOL! The idea made me excited because not only could I continue to encourage authors (just in a different way), but I could also share a book that encompassed my whole fangirl heart. It was like me, but on paper!
K.A.: Did you make any discoveries about yourself writing this book?
Laura: I LOVE writing by hand!
Seriously, it birthed me actually loving writing and has transformed my view of writing by A LOT. I was not one of those writers who has written stories since they could hold a pencil or daydreamed about being a published author in high school. I started writing because I felt called to write and most likely wouldn’t otherwise because I LOVE reading. *hides bashfully*
When my friend suggested I physically write these letters and not just type them, I never imagined how much I would deeply love the process. It’s relaxing and somehow refreshing. There is no stress for me to “pound out” a certain amount of words or even perfect words. Just me, paper and pencil, and a willingness to discover. :)
K.A.: Writing by hand can certainly be a good way to quiet the inner critic! Has writing this story changed you?
Laura: That’s a tough question! Maybe that I can write and publish future stories? For so long I felt my own fears of writing would make me incapable of actually penning a story.
However, concerning this book, these letters only reaffirmed that I am indeed extremely passionate about supporting authors. I already knew this beforehand, but now, it’s something I am really acknowledging and embracing. I make plans in my weekly schedule to make sure I’m sharing all the indie book love instead of trying to push it away because “there are more important things to do.” (Ha! Soooo not true! *winks*)
K.A.: What do you hope readers gain from your story?
Laura: When I was brainstorming messages I wanted or could include in the front of Dear Author with my signature (which is still SUPER surreal by the way), I knew I wanted to convey something that could sum up my book in one sentence.
It turned out to be two (LOL), but it was this: “Keep dreaming! Keep writing!”
I would definitely say that is what I hope readers will come away with when finishing Dear Author. I want them to be encouraged to keep dreaming about their stories and writing them down because there are readers waiting for a story only they can share.
K.A.: Do you have a favorite line or moment in the book?
Laura: Ooo another tough question! I have a few, but I think this might be my favorite:
I want to be someone like your hero is. Someone who is brave, bold, and shows others through their actions and words that people are worth fighting for. I want to step out of my “bookish” worlds and enter our “real world” to make a difference in someone’s life. I feel I only need to look at the friends, family, and strangers around me to leap into action.
It captures a bit of the power I feel books have on readers and how I have personally gotten inspired time-and-time again from the books I read. <3
Laura: Thank you SO much for letting me share! I had a blast and am so blessed by your support!
K.A.: Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl is available on Amazon and at other book retailers.
K.A.: It was so good to have you here, Laura. Thanks for sharing your heart and reaching out to encourage others through your book, Dear Author: Letters from a Bookish Fangirl.
About Laura A. Grace
Laura A. Grace had a lifelong dream of getting to know authors behind the covers of her favorite reads. Little did she know that one day she would become an author too! Now an avid book blogger at Unicorn Quester and writer of clean, Christian manga, Laura creatively balances her passions of supporting indie authors and feeding her readers new stories. In between, she wields plastic lightsabers with her children and binge-watches anime with her husband. Join her quest to find wandering unicorns for your favorite authors at unicornquester.com!