Libbie the Lobster

To purchase the children's book "Saving Libbie the Lobster" go to www.LibbietheLobster.com


6 Comments

The Agony and the Ecstacy of Writing

I am a writer. At least that’s what I call myself. I write. That’s what writers do — we write. Right?

I have been telling people I am a writer for a couple of years now, which is not very long I know. Each time I hear the words leave my mouth, I wonder if I will ever finish my novel, The Jumping Off Place. Write-and-keep-on-writing

I love the experience of writing once I begin. It’s the starting that is torturous for me. I can think of a thousand unimportant things that simply must be done before I can sit down and immerse myself in a wonderful, timeless journey into the world of my story. Am I filled with self-doubt to the point that I choose to ignore those around me who consistently tell me I write well? Or am I perhaps afraid I will actually succeed after all?

Certainly at the end of a day of writing, I feel quite accomplished and even energized. I am closer to the end of the story than when I began. In fact, the end is in sight. I can see it! It is so close I can taste it. So what keeps me from sitting down for as long as it takes to write 2,500 more words, the last two being, THE END?

For the last two years I have been climbing a mountain, a very high, rocky mountain with several difficult obstacles. There have been times when I thought I reached the summit. It was beautiful there. Maybe that was good enough, I thought. Did I really need to go on climbing? I could sit back and enjoy the success of the climb to that point couldn’t I? But climb on I did. I went on with trepidation and doubt, but go on I did. Little by little, one step at a time, I climbed ahead.

My attempt at metaphor may have been flimsy but nonetheless, it describes my uphill journey as a writer. The beautiful place I spoke of, was the publishing of our children’s book, Saving Libbie the Lobster, of course. But meanwhile my novel sat unfinished. I had a yearning to tell the story I had inside of me, the one I had begun to write. After all, I  want to leave a legacy in some small way that I have been here.

I look forward to the day when I can look back on this time with my novel in hand, in awe, and wonder how I could have struggled so.

Many thanks to my readers. I would love to hear if any of you experience these same struggles and if so, how you overcome them.

http://www.libbiethelobster.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

https://twitter.com/MJeitner


2 Comments

So How Do You Write a Children’s Book Anyway

When Heather Chalmers and I decided it would be fun to write a children’s book about our adventure of saving Libbie, the rare yellow lobster, from our local supermarket, we had very little idea what the job would entail. We were still speeding along on the roller coaster which had lifted us into the air in a very short time. The dizzying heights were clouding our minds with grandiose ideas of writing a book that would become famous because of the enormous amount of press that had already been done about the story. But in our hearts, we cared little for becoming rich or famous. We wanted to make kids happy by reading a book of our amazing journey with Libbie the Lobster. unnamed (3)

Because Heather is a former first grade teacher, she  had a myriad of supplies to begin our project and a plethora of children’s books from which to define a plan of action. And so we set forth with excited determination to write the true tale of our beautiful yellow lobster, named Libbie.

Heather and I were not new to the writing world. Heather has written poetry and I had begun work on a novel a year prior. However we were new to each other, having only met briefly twice before we joined forces to rescue Libbie. Therefore brainstorming about our book was often interrupted with intermittent getting-to-know-you sessions. We liked each other instantly and became fast friends. If anyone had been listening in on our conversations in those first few days of planning our book, they would have heard much laughter interspersed with quite serious discussions about our lives. Overall there was a sense of having met by design for a greater purpose.

Looking back, I recall that there were moments when we doubted we could actually produce a children’s book we could be proud of but we forged ahead, encouraging each other when doubt crept in. Neither one of us could have imagined the incredible children’s book we were going to produce. And it all began in what now seems a flurry of activity to find our way.

That first day, we had decided to meet early in the morning and keep going until we thought we had made a good beginning. Heather had stacks of children’s books for us to go through for ideas. We soon realized we had many questions: How long should our book be? What age group are we writing for? Do we want words and pictures on every page or pictures on one and words to follow? Should the pictures run across the center of the book or be different on each side? What is the moral of the story? Do we want the words to rhyme? What type of illustrations and colors? And who will we get to illustrate our book, anyway? How much will all this cost????

It was a daunting task but we had the experience of working tirelessly to rescue Libbie and get her to a new home, so we pushed on. At times we were tackling several things at once, seemingly haphazardly but within a few days, we began to see results. Within one week, we had an illustrator and a publisher and our story boards were laid out around a large table to tell our story. We were learning the process of creating and producing a children’s book at lightening speed.

We solicited help from our author friends and began making several difficult decisions, i.e. self publishing vs. indie publishing, cover designer, web design, graphic design, contracts (between Heather and myself too), hard cover vs. soft cover, size of the book, printer, bios, and photographer. We were making important decisions together and we were only two weeks into our project.

All the while, Heather and I were working hard and having fun. We were motivated by the desire to “strike while the iron was hot!” People were talking about Libbie the Lobster everywhere and we were building quite a following. My fondest memory of those first two weeks was of Heather and I standing around the table writing the words to our story. Because I have been far removed from children in my later years, Heather had to remind me that the words I suggested would not be understood by little ones. The wonderful rhymes in our story were entirely Heather’s doing. She later told me that she read Dr. Seuss books before going to sleep. She would awake in the morning with rhymes for our book. I loved the rhymes and laughed heartily when we added them. (I am laughing as I writing this.) photo (6)

IMG_20141117_114203_169

The entire process was not without its difficulties. We did not always agree but our respect for each other deepened and our friendship grew even stronger. Looking back on it now, I can only speak to the incredible joy we both felt when we finally received our book from the printer a mere four months after I first laid eyes on that special, rare yellow lobster in Publix Supermarket. We were both so very proud of the children’s book we had created together. And the best part is that children love our book!!!

Feel free to comment and ask questions. And thanks again for reading.

http://www.libbiethelobster.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

https://twitter.com/MJeitner

 

 


8 Comments

When Did I Stop Crying

This morning my thoughts turned to wondering when I stopped crying. I have not shed a tear for years it seems. What does this mean? I have always believed and my experience shows me that the depth of my sadness is what allows me to know its opposite, joy. Have I ceased feeling anything at all?

As a psychotherapist, I would have diagnosed myself as having a histrionic personality. I was certainly told many times in my childhood that I should become an actress for all of my untiring demonstrations of unbridled emotion. george_romney_-_lady_hamilton_as_circe As I look back over these many years, I know I have felt the depth of emotional pain that could only be seen as complete madness. Raging anger has haunted me too, with nothing inside to control its devastation.

And tears, tears of joy and gratitude, happiness at the smallest things have given me reasons to live. Laughter–loud, boisterous, from the pure magic of comradeship, sprang from me easily.

And then there is love. I think I know what love feels like. I think it is a fundamental part of my being. I feel love when I look into a friend’s eyes and I see love coming back at me but I wonder why. Why do these people love me? What do they see? But, I am still the actress, minus the demonstrative displays of emotion, am I not? Now it seems only glimpses to that joy, tell me I am still alive.

This is beginning to sound quite morose, I know. I am merely pondering my own evolution, seeking to understand myself in a world I alone have designed for my comfort as I suppose most humans do.

I have been reading Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte, which is likely prompting my musings this morning. I was drawn to reread the book by an old memory of having found myself in those pages but recalling not why. Now I know. Wuthering-Heights It is Catherine Earnshaw. Those so many years ago, Emily Bronte breathed life into her character of Catherine and she could have been writing about me.

Aha! Perhaps this very writing has shown me that my feelings are still alive. My melodramatic personality has just shown itself on this page! Writing things through has a magical effect on the writer don’t you think? Pouring the words out onto the page, has the effect of revealing a knowledge not otherwise known.

Thank you for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Leave a comment

Writing: Seeing It Through to the End and Beyond

My days were going along as usual procrastinating about writing and filling my time doing everything but writing, other than those few short bursts of fluid creative thought that seemed to pour from my mind as though someone had taken me over. typewriter_quote You know the feeling when after writing a few hundred awesome words that flew through your fingers onto the page, who wrote that?

For over a year my apartment was cleaner than ever before because I had to clean before I could write, right? Then I had to go to the gym because if I didn’t keep up my strength, how could I ever finish my book? And of course keeping up with friends, the myriad of unnoteworthy emails I received needed to be seen, and generally enjoying beach-life all served to distract me and provide excuses for not writing.

But the truth is, I didn’t believe in my heart that I could write well. quotes-about-writing-writers-block-doubt (1) Somehow I thought I had to write the novel of the century! Growing up I learned that if you can’t do a thing well, don’t do it at all. Somehow I heard, “If you can’t do a thing ‘perfectly,’ don’t do it at all!”

Despite friends and strangers who have heard me read excerpts from my book, telling me I write well and exhorting me to complete it, I continued to struggle. What if I did complete my book? What then? I knew nothing of how to publish a book, where to get it printed, who would do the cover, or how to market it. A few good friends who are accomplished authors promised to help with those things but the job seemed monumental.

Somehow I think I am not alone in this dilemma. I hear many who say they would like to write a book–far more than those who actually do. Perhaps they struggle like I did with the daunting task of seeing the work through from beginning to end. To those who feel as I did, I say, do it anyway! The help is out there! If you can write a book, you can learn to do the rest. And honestly, if I can do it, almost anyone can.

Having experienced the labor of love seeing our book, Saving Libbie the Lobster, through to it’s completion and beyond, has taught me much. I see once again in my life that I am my own worst enemy. I alone will stop myself from fulfilling my highest hopes. So back to my novel I shall go. I will see it through to the end and beyond.

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

http://www.libbiethelobster.com/


Leave a comment

Authors Helping Writers

I was sitting in a local cafe one day about two years ago feeling restless. I could think of nothing but writing. I wanted to write a book about my life. My story needed to be told. It was burning inside of me, threatening to burst through my very being.images (1)

For days, months, no…years, I wanted to write. As a young girl I fantasized about being older, with much of my life behind me, sitting in a large room that overlooked the ocean where as I gazed at the waves, ideas flowed easily and my pen wrote words that created stories.

The day came when I knew the time had come for my imaginings to become real. The room was ready, the desk was in place and the windows looked out over the ocean waves. Now a computer sat on the desk in place of pen and paper, waiting only for me to begin writing.

Something was holding me back! Why couldn’t I just start writing, I wondered. I knew that wanting to write was not enough. I had to sit down and do it but could I really write a book? Looking back I know that I was my own worst enemy. Teachers, family, and friends had told me for years that I should be a writer but my own mind told me different. Then something changed.

That day in the cafe, as I drank my coffee and listened to conversations around me, trying to distract myself from my restlessness, I overheard a woman telling the cafe owner about the story line for her upcoming book. I had seen her before and had heard she was a local author of ghost stories for young adults. She seemed excited and appeared to be self-confident. Her excitement rose as she described the story. I sat listening intently and knew I needed to speak with her.

“Oh, so you’re a writer?” I queried.

“Yes I am.” She said smiling brightly. “I write ghost stories for young adults. Do you write?”

” I want to write a book,” I replied sheepishly.

And right then and there my writing began in earnest. That friendly exchange of two strangers evolved quickly into a lasting friendship. Becky Meyer Pourchot, author a The Hungry Ghost Series, also became my writing mentor. We met often over the ensuing weeks and her encouragement and direction fueled my desire to become a published author. These days, we are planning book signings together and our paths intersect often on our journey as writers.

I will be forever grateful to my friend Becky. Because of her encouragement and belief in me, I am now helping others who have come to me in the same way and who have said, “I want to write. I have a story inside me that is screaming to come out.”

Thank you Becky Meyer Pourchot.

http://www.hungryghostbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

http://www.libbiethelobster.com/


4 Comments

Achieving Co-author Balance

We saved a rare yellow lobster from a local supermarket and within a week decided to write a children’s book about the adventure. We barely knew each other, Heather Chalmers and me, having met only briefly a couple of times at functions for writers. Two very different people, 070_pp we came together because we have compassion for all living things which led to the liberation of Libbie the lobster. Leaping into a co-authorship of a children’s book was exciting but even more, it was a process of achieving a balance whereby we could work together efficiently and effectively to create a work of art.

Achieving that balance was not always easy. Now that our book has gone to print, I look back over the last couple of months in amazement at how well we blended each other’s strengths and overcame our weaknesses. Moving beyond the difficulties that arose served to strengthened our resolve to produce a book we could both be proud of.

In my practice as a psychotherapist, I facilitated many groups. My education had prepared me for the common stages through which groups evolve. They are as follows: and roles

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Performing
  4. Adjourning

 

I have considered that even two individuals coming together for a common purpose often develop through these stages as well. Heather and I certainly did. This is how I see the process:

In the beginning, Heather and I would often be distracted from brainstorming ideas for you book and have “getting to know you” conversations (Forming Stage). We found that we have many things in common. We both love writing, reading, children, nature, beach living, spirituality, healthy living, and having fun. We laughed often at our differences too.

As our book began to take shape, important decisions needed to be made. As is the case in groups, where people begin to vie for position and take on roles, i.e. leader, rescuer, agitator, distractor, etc., we began to disagree (Storming Stage). We each dug our heels in about a couple of things and stood ready to fight albeit Heather in her quiet way while I was not so quiet. Many people and groups give up at this stage, but Heather and I made it through and the experience made us better.

We entered into a working relationship whereby we communicated freely and openly (Performing Stage). Each of us seemed to naturally gravitate to things we each were best at doing. Heather coordinated the people involved in the production of our book and I got the word out though social media marketing. We were both learning tremendous skills for future writing projects.

Whether it is a group or two individuals who have found a way to perform effectively, when the relationships end, there is a sense of sadness and loss (Adjourning Stage). For now however, Heather and I are a long way from adjourning. We are brainstorming ideas for our second children’s book! We have achieved a balance in our working relationship (our labor of love) and have become great friends meanwhile.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what I have written here. And thanks for reading!

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

https://www.facebook.com/LibbieTheLobster

https://twitter.com/MJeitner

 

 


Leave a comment

About Us Part One–Heather

     I think it’s about time I write an “About Us” blog. Heather Chalmers (right) and I are co-authors of the children’s book, Saving Libbie the Lobster. I asked Heather to write something about herself070_pp with a focus on what things she gets excited about.

     Here is what she wrote:

     I love our town Flagler Beach. I love watching the sunrise, and taking pictures of the beach in the morning. It’s such a magical time. I love learning about the different animals that share this little part of the earth with us. I’ve seen dolphins and tarpon jumping out of the water at sunrise. I’ve seen bait fish jumping and little sharks swimming right after them in the surf. I’ve seen cannonball jellyfish that roll up on the beach for a snack and roll back into the sea when they’ve had their fill. I’ve found countless sea treasures, beautiful sea shells, sea hearts, sea beans, star fish and sand dollars. I like to look at the things that wash up on the shore and think about the far away places they’ve traveled from.
     I love spending time with my family and cooking healthy things to eat. My daughter Ava is twelve. As soon as she comes home from school, she starts her homework at the kitchen table and I start making dinner.  At six my husband Brian comes home, and we all  sit down to a nice family meal. Dinner is a very important time of the day for our family. We each take turns talking and sharing about our day.
     I also love to read. There is an entire wall in my house that is just filled with books. I like all different kinds of books. I have cook books, gardening books, books about the supernatural, books about the ocean. I also love the classics. I was a nerd in school and every summer vacation, I would go to public library and ask the librarian what books were the most important to read. I’ve read most of the classics that way. My favorite classic author is Ernest Hemingway.  I have most of his books.  There are also five book cases in my mom’s house. The running joke is that I have enough books for two houses! I also have a huge collection of children’s books from when I was a teacher. I had about a thousand books in my library when I taught first grade. I’ve been giving books away and have gotten my children’s book collection whittled down to my favorite hundred or so.
     My life is pretty simple and very quiet and I like it that way.
     But there is more to Heather. She is one of the kindest people I know. She has her masters degree in education and she loves children. Soon after we rescued Libbie the rare yellow lobster from a local supermarket, Heather asked me to consider joining her in her ongoing effort to rescue Loons who cannot walk on land and who become trapped on the sand when the ocean was too rough. She described that we would carry them to safety across the road to the intracoastal waterway. Of course I responded a resounding yes to the proposition. Heather has also written two other children’s books which are yet to be published. And she writes awesome poetry.
     I am very glad to have met Heather. I could not have asked for a more talented and passionate co-author for writing our book of how we saved Libbie. And I have made a good friend.
     Stayed tuned for Part Two.  It’s all about me!