Thursday, April 27, 2017

Charlotte's web on our deck! #charlottesweb #books#childrensbooks #authorsofig #authorsofinstagram


One Step Closer...

I'm interrupting the FAQ blog series to share a "life with special needs event" with you all.  I mentioned in a recent post that I was going to be talking more about living with special needs kids (and parenting so many!) because a lot of people seem interested in it. 

 Yesterday we had an experience that people with "normal" kids don't have.  Our daughter, Grace, is thirteen and severely disabled.  She is developmentally delayed, on the autism spectrum, and has seizures.  We love her to pieces but she can be a handful--especially when she doesn't want to do something like getting dressed or taking a shower. 

We could handle it when she was younger, but she's about my size now.  It's one thing when a three-year-old hits you, but it's an entirely different situation when a thirteen-year-old punches you in the stomach.  As much as we try to take care of Grace on our own, we needed help. 

Because of her disabilities, Grace qualifies for Medicaid, so thankfully we were able to get a nurse to come to our house to handle Grace's showers.  This is bittersweet for me.  While I am beyond thankful for the help, I hate that it's necessary.  It feels like Grace has moved one step closer toward an assisted living facility. 

One day, we might not be able to care for Grace in our home.  This is just a fact.  I have a chronic disease and I'm almost 50 years old.  While I know every parent faces the moment when a child leaves the nest, it's different for a child like Grace.  She can't speak, so she can't tell me if she's sad or if someone's hurting her.  Although I'm pretty good at reading her, there are some things I might never know.  Letting go of your children is always scary, but add severe disabilities and your fears escalate. 

I worry about the day I won't be there to protect her.  About the day her shrieks (her "happy noise") don't ring through the house.  I worry that no one will ever love her the way that I do.  I also worry about her siblings when the burden of her care falls to them. 

It took a long time to adjust to life with a disabled child, but now that I have, I don't want my life to change.  People always ask me how I care for so many kids--especially disabled kids.  I won't lie.  It's hard.  There are days when I feel like I can't take another step.  But I love my life--the way it is right now.  With Grace at home. 

A few days ago, I was sitting on the couch.  Grace plopped down beside me.  She does that a lot, but it's usually so that she can poke me or bounce up and down.  This time was different.  This time, she leaned over and put her head on my shoulder.  We sat like that for a long time.  The television wasn't on.  The other kids were outside.  It was just the two of us.  It was a quiet moment full of joy. 


When Grace was diagnosed, I mourned my "could have been" life.  You know, the life where my husband and I retire to a child-free house.  The life where Grace grows up and moves out. 

People often ask how I can take care of Grace day after day.  But now that we're one step closer to the day she might not live with us, I think the question should be: How can I not? 


On the #needles today--another slouch hat. #knitter #knittersoftheworld #knittersofinstagram #authorlife #authorsofinstagram


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Contest is now closed! The 2 lucky winners are: @eilk19 and @annyeong_unnie! Please PM me with your address and I'll send the CDs right out! Congratulations!


Surprised I accomplished anything beyond this today. Seriously well done! #handmaidstale #writersofinstagram #writerslife


Less than three hours until the #giveaway! Repost from @stephanieknipper using @RepostRegramApp - It's #Giveaway time! I just received the #audiobook version of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin on CD and I want to share! Plus the story is set in April so it was meant to be! 😁 For this giveaway 2 lucky WINNERS will each receive a copy of #PeculiarMiracles on CD. To enter: •FOLLOW me on Instagram @stephanieknipper • LIKE this post • TAG two or more friends in the comments •For an extra entry REPOST using #PeculiarMiraclesxAudio That's it! This giveaway will end on Wednesday April 26th at 9pm EST. Winner will be announced in the comments. Good luck! #book #reading #authorsofinstagram #authorsofig #bookworm #bookish #bookgiveaway #writersofinstagram #writerslife#writersofinstagram


Good morning Mr. Toad! #windinthewillows #childrensbooks #frogandtoadarefriends #garden #gardenersworld #gardening #gardenersofig #writerslife #share


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My quick dinner before teaching tonight. #nothealthy #chocolate #badchoices #authorslife #authorsofig #authorsofinstagram #writerslife


Repost from @gardeninginsta using @RepostRegramApp - Requires skill and patience. #gardengoals #gardenersofinstagram #gardensofinstagram #gardengirl #gardenlovers #gardengram #gardener #gardeners #gardenerslife #gardenersworld #gardeningday #gardenninglife #gardeningmakesmehappy #gardeningaustralia #gardeninglove



My Miss Kim #lilac bloomed today! #authorsofinstagram #authorlife #writersofinstagram #gardening #garden #gardenersworld #gardenerslife


Don't forget the #giveaway ends tomorrow! It's #Giveaway time! I just received the #audiobook version of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin on CD and I want to share! Plus the story is set in April so it was meant to be! 😁 For this giveaway 2 lucky WINNERS will each receive a copy of #PeculiarMiracles on CD. To enter: •FOLLOW me on Instagram @stephanieknipper • LIKE this post • TAG two or more friends in the comments •For an extra entry REPOST using #PeculiarMiraclesxAudio That's it! This giveaway will end on Wednesday April 26th at 9pm EST. Winner will be announced in the comments. Good luck! #book #reading #authorsofinstagram #authorsofig #bookworm #bookish #bookgiveaway #writersofinstagram #writerslife#writersofinstagram


Frequently Asked Questions - When Do You Write?

Me with all of my kiddos!
The number one question people ask me when they find out I'm a writer with six kids is, "When do you find time to write?" It's a valid question.  In fact, I would have wanted to know the same thing before I became the crazy woman with six kids, trying to do anything other than raise my kids. 

Honestly, sometimes I don't know the answer to that question myself.  My six-year-old has interrupted me roughly every minute-and-a-half since I sat down to write this blog.  I finally had to threaten her with an early bedtime so that I could finish this post. 

When I first started writing, I had definite blocks of time that I could set aside to work.  Then I had kids and things got harder.  I set up a desk in my bedroom--my version of Virginia Woolf's "a room of my own".  I thought it would allow me to get away from everyone and focus on work for large blocks of time. 

Sometimes it worked.  My husband would come home from work and we'd trade off the kids.  I go upstairs and write.  But by then it was 7pm and I was exhausted.  Often my brain was too fried to write.  I also missed all of us spending time together as a family.  And I really missed my husband.  Still, I was writing.  So we kept the schedule.

Then my husband got a different job, and he was suddenly home a lot less.  I became the sole parent for long stretches of time.  The little time I had set aside to write was completely gone.  There was no way I could go upstairs to my desk and write alone. 

This was a very stressful time for me.  You see, writing is more than a job for me.  (If you're a writer reading this, I suspect it's more than a job for you too.)  It's the way I make sense of the world.  Without being able to sit down and write every day, I became locked in my mind.  My world seemed to shrink.  To stay sane, I needed to find a way to combine being a mom with writing. 


I want to pause here for a moment and address some of the conventional "writing wisdom" out there because I read it all and when I was (inevitably) unable to follow it, I felt like a failure.  So what I'm going to tell you here is what worked for me.  Something else might work for you.  But the thing I hope you take away from this is that there is no one "right" way to write. 

I did three things that really helped me.  All three break the writing rules, but this is what helped me get back to work. 
First, I moved my desk downstairs.  We converted our dining room (which we never used) into my office.  It's right off the kitchen and open to most of the downstairs.  Writing in the midst of all the noise took some getting used to, but this way I can work and watch the kids at the same time.  Also, having my office in the midst of all the chaos means I can write in small bursts throughout the day instead of in one long block.  I leave my laptop on and steal time whenever I can. 

Most weekdays go like this: wake up at 5:30 and get the first three kids on the bus by 6:15.  Then I have small amount of time before the next bus comes at 8:00 so I write until I have to get the next kids ready and off to school.  I still have one child in kindergarten and she's home for half a day.  I finish writing for the while she's working on her homework or doing a craft project.  Most days I finish writing by lunch time. 

Second, I lowered my daily word count.  I used to set high word counts for myself.  Some days I'd meet them, but often I wouldn't.  On the days I hit my goal, I felt great.  On the days I didn't, I felt awful.  Let's be honest here.  With six kids (that I frequently solo parent) I missed my word count goal more often than not.  I was feeling pretty bad most of the time and as a result, I never wanted to sit down and write because doing so felt like Such A Big Deal.  Solution: lower my word count to something I could reasonably attain. Now I hit my goals most days, and I feel like I'm actually accomplishing something.  It's like the tortoise and the hare.  True, I might be a little slower, but as long as I keep plodding along, I'll reach the finish line. 

Third, I stopped writing on the weekends.  I used to spend a lot of time writing on Saturdays and Sundays, and I was getting burned out on it.  Also, it felt like my priorities were off.  Don't get me wrong, I love being a writer.  It's my dream job.  But I love being a mom even more.  If I had to chose between the two, being a mommy would win every time.  Now on the weekends I spend time with my husband and my kids.  It gives me time to recharge and I actually look forward to Mondays when I can get back to my work in progress. 

All of this flies in the face of "conventional" writing wisdom, but it works for me.  I do follow the conventional rules in a few ways and I'll discuss those in the next post. 

So when do you write?  Do you have a schedule?  Do you stick with the rules or break them?





Friday, April 21, 2017

#Artwork from my youngest. I'm calling it "#Cat With a Box on Her Tail". She's obviously following in Picasso's footsteps. #catsofinstagram #momsofmany #authorslife


Don't forget the #giveaway! Repost from @stephanieknipper using @RepostRegramApp - It's #Giveaway time! I just received the #audiobook version of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin on CD and I want to share! Plus the story is set in April so it was meant to be! 😁 For this giveaway 2 lucky WINNERS will each receive a copy of #PeculiarMiracles on CD. To enter: •FOLLOW me on Instagram @stephanieknipper • LIKE this post • TAG two or more friends in the comments •For an extra entry REPOST using #PeculiarMiraclesxAudio That's it! This giveaway will end on Wednesday April 26th at 9pm EST. Winner will be announced in the comments. Good luck! #book #reading #authorsofinstagram #authorsofig #bookworm #bookish #bookgiveaway #writersofinstagram #writerslife#writersofinstagram


Hamlet says, "Good morning!" #dogsofinstagram #dogs #puppylove #authorsofinstagram #share #writerslife


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Percy enjoying a #dognap in the sun. #dogs #dogsofinstagram #dogsofinstgram #writersofinstagram #share #puppylove


Frequently Asked Questions - Series

Since my novel came out in August, I've been doing a lot of speaking at book stores, libraries, and other literary places.  (I love it! How lucky am I to have a job where going to bookstores and libraries is work?!) I typically read an excerpt then talk about the inspiration behind Peculiar Miracles and a little bit about myself. 

Because I based the title character (Antoinette) on my daughter Grace, inevitably things get personal.  (Which is fine with me.  I wouldn't have told the world Antoinette was based on my daughter if I didn't want to invite questions!) What's interesting to me is that no matter where I am, the questions people ask are remarkable similar.  They always ask 1) How I find time to write with 6 kids and 2) Why we adopted more special needs children after we adopted Grace.  This second question is always followed up with a statement that goes something like: "Bless you.  I could never do that."

A few weeks ago, as I drove home from a book event in Berea KY, I thought about the questions people had (again) asked.  To me, it's strange that people are interested in our family because this is just my life.  I don't think about what I'm doing.  I just do it.  (Nike, if you want an out of shape middle-aged woman as a spokesperson, feel free to get in touch.) 

But, since I get so many questions along the same lines, I thought I'd start a blog series that covers some of the frequent questions I get.  I'll cover both writing related questions and parenting/special needs questions and anything else I can think of.  And by all means, jump in with any questions you have.  I'll answer them if I can.

The reason I chose to do this is because I'm constantly surprised at the number of people who sell themselves short.  The people who think they couldn't parent a special needs child--that it takes some kind of super power to do so.  Or the people who think they could never write a novel (or whatever else it is that they dream of doing.)  I'm hoping that by sharing my life a little more, you'll see that if I can do it (whatever "it" is), you can too. 

Asiatic #lilies are #sprouting! #garden #gardening #flowers #authorsofinstagram


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Oliver, my #reading buddy! #catsofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #writerslife #cats #tabbycat


Whitman looking dapper. #dogsofinstagram #dogs #puppylove #authorsofinstagram #writerslife


It's #Giveaway time! I just received the #audiobook version of The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin on CD and I want to share! Plus the story is set in April so it was meant to be! 😁 For this giveaway 2 lucky WINNERS will each receive a copy of #PeculiarMiracles on CD. To enter: •FOLLOW me on Instagram @stephanieknipper • LIKE this post • TAG two or more friends in the comments •For an extra entry REPOST using #PeculiarMiraclesxAudio That's it! This giveaway will end on Wednesday April 26th at 9pm EST. Winner will be announced in the comments. Good luck! #book #reading #authorsofinstagram #authorsofig #bookworm #bookish #bookgiveaway #writersofinstagram #writerslife#writersofinstagram


Fresh off the wheel! #spinning #spinolution #fiberart #authorsofinstagram #authorlife