News! Some personal, some professional

Friends, I have been waiting and waiting to tell you this story, and now I can. Three months ago I made the excruciatingly difficult decision to take time off of nannying for the first time in ten years. In other words, I went against all rational advice and quit my day job to focus on my art.

I had been trying to get ready for this step for years, but it felt like I kept taking one step forward and two steps back, both financially and health-wise. In order to take time off, you generally need to have a good amount in savings, but as last winter turned to spring, and spring to summer, I began to realize that I was going to have to make a decision without that buffer. I was going to have to jump without a safety net. It did not seem wise, and I really, really want to be wise.

But something was burning within me, something that sparked to life eight years ago when I began writing essays in my blog, Tenthousand Places, and flickered more brightly when a blog post went viral, and then another, and fanned into a flame when I got a book contract in 2018, and when my book launched in May, 2020. I knew, after almost decade of pouring my energy into things that were not my true calling — not that that time was wasted, time is never wasted — I knew that I had returned to my dream, and was fashioning it into something beautiful and right. And I knew, I KNEW, that it was time for that leap of faith.

Besides that inner fire, there was also outer pain — chronic foot problems that have plagued me since my early twenties, and had been getting steadily worse, affecting other aspects of my health as well. I couldn’t deny that nannying was getting harder and harder physically, and that I was literally limping toward the finish line. It was time to have foot surgery, and since it would have to be one foot at a time it was going to be a several-month process. And then, of course, there was the pandemic, which added impetus to working from home.

I had several writing projects in the works that needed time and attention to bring to fruition. I had big ideas and big dreams. And I had enough in savings to pay the bills for a couple of weeks, at least — if I charged my groceries to my credit card. So, I leapt.

And the fire leapt with me.

This is the newsletter where I get to tell you almost everything I’ve been working on for the last few months. I am so excited.

I feel the superstitious need to mention first, so as not to tempt fate, that not everything has been peachy keen. I have collected my fair share of rejection letters over the last three months. I have an article I really want to write that I just can’t find a home for, as well as other projects that are stalled or stuck. And health, unfortunately, has been worsening rather than improving. Being unable to exercise has worsened knee and hip issues, as well as making my chronic migraines worse. And I am okay so far depression-wise, but I’m worried that not being able to get outside as much is going to eventually take its toll. But, I have my first foot surgery this Thursday, and I’m really hoping things will start to turn a corner soon.

And now, having appeased the Greek gods, the good news!

365 Days of Peace book NEWS!!

Book cover: 365 Days of Peace

First, I am delighted to report that my self-published book, 365 Days of Peace: Benedictions to End Your Day in Gentleness and Hope is now available outside of Amazon! You can order it on Bookshop, where they will donate a percentage of the cost to brick and mortar, independent bookstores, or you can find a bookstore near you that carries it on IndieBound. It is up at Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Powell’s, and loads of other places! You can also request it from your local library. Amazon might still be the quickest way, though, if you are in a time crunch.

(And as always, my first book, The Long Night: Readings and Stories to Help You through Depression, is available at all those places as well!)

Creating this book has been SUCH an amazing experience. It was so much hard work, but I am so happy with the final product, and you have all blown me away with your enthusiasm. And, guess what? I’ll be able to pay at least a couple of months’ rent with the profit! This is a miracle for a self-published author, and I am grateful to my bones. To my literal bones, since this means I will be able to pay the bills while I recover from my first foot surgery.

And the big news…

BOOK THREE!!!

I am SO excited to share that I have signed a contract with Broadleaf Books for my third book! Tentatively titled Blessings for the Long Night: Poems and Prayers to Help You through Depression, this book will be sort of a cross between my first two, with prayers and poems focused on those who are struggling with depression. They will have a more varied format than the “peace” poems, but will have the same intention, to speak honestly of the pain and struggle of those with depression, as well as our incredible strength and resilience, and to hopefully help everyone who reads them believe that they are not alone, and this will not last forever.

I originally pitched 365 Days of Peace to Broadleaf, but their feedback helped to develop the idea for this new book, and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I have already written a bunch of the poems and prayers, and I think it’s going to be really great. It is slated to be published sometime in the spring of 2022.

And, guess what? The advance will pay the bills while I recover from the second foot surgery. Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles.

SOME OTHER FUN THINGS!!

Most of you have seen this already, but I did a little Thanksgiving Twitter thing that went viral. I had SO MANY people at my virtual Thanksgiving dinner, and it was so much fun. It was even picked up by Fox News (the local LA and Phoenix stations, not that Fox News). I am so grateful to have found a way to bring people together virtually. And welcome to the 2000 new Twitter followers who joined me through that post!

Another fun bit of news is that I will be doing some writing for the Madeleine L’Engle blog! Madeleine is one of my favorite writers. It was her book, A Circle of Quiet, that made me decide that I wanted to be a non-fiction writer (though I still have dreams of publishing fiction!). I went to the Madeleine L’Engle Conferece, Walking on Water, a year ago this November and met so many amazing artists, writers, and overall amazing people. This year’s Madeleine L’Engle writer’s retreat was, sadly, cancelled, but the blog is one way we can all keep gathering around the table. My first post for that went up a couple of weeks ago.

I made you something! For readers of my first book I created a list on Bookshop of twenty-five books that I quote in The Long Night. From my beloved Henri Nouwen, to brutally beautiful memoirs by Terese Marie Mailhot and Meri Nana Danquah, to the incredibly educational and profound Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon, these books are all highly recommended for those wanting to understand depression better and to feel less alone. As a bonus, I created a fun list of twenty-five of my favorite children’s books, to aid you in your holiday shopping. Almost all of these are childhood favorites that I’ve read and reread, with a couple of new-to-me favorites thrown in. The links in those lists are all affiliate links, as are the Bookshop links to my books above, so I will earn a small commission from your purchase.

And lastly, a reminder that my Love is Love chicken sketch is available as a t-shirt, tote, magnet, and sticker over at Threadless. This was a little project I initially did to raise money for self-publishing costs for 365 Days of Peace. FYI, the t-shirts run small, so consider ordering a size up.

Well, it’s been a long, full, hard, exciting, painful, beautiful November here, friends. I can’t believe how many things fit into this month. I hope you are all having full, beautiful autumns as well. I’ll be back later in December with a small gift just for subscribers, so if you haven’t subscribed yet, scroll down to the bottom left of this page and type in your email address.

In love and hope,
Jessica

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