Category Archives: My Book Update

Book Update | Submitted My Emerging Voices Fellowship Application


I did it! I submitted my PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship application last Monday. It was an exciting feeling putting everything together and sending it off. The post office employee actually asked me if I was sending a book and I sort of was. It was only the first 20 pages of my memoir, but I had to put together 5 copies of the entire application which included the 20 pages, short answer questions, professional CV, 2014 tax summary, (2) letters of recommendation, and a $10 application fee. It was a thick piece of mail that’s for sure.

My husband has been my sounding board for all my nervous energy. He listens to me talk about how difficult it is writing this personal story and tells me not to get discouraged if I don’t get the Fellowship (he’s completely right and completely amazing). This is the first time I’ve ever submitted my work to be judged. Whoever looks at my submission will be the first to read a large portion of my memoir. It’s actually quite scary when I think about it. A person I don’t know will be judging what I’ve written. Their opinions will determine if I get to participate in this Fellowship.

If I don’t get it this year, there’s always next year or the year after. Now that I know about this great program I’m going to keep applying until I get it.

Now I just have to wait until October when they inform the finalists. I really hope I get this Fellowship because I think it will help me develop a clearer picture of my memoir and help me finish a first draft.

Book Update | Excerpt From My Memoir


Today I’m going to share with you a few small paragraphs from my memoir. Keep in mind this is very rough and you are the first to see this and no editors have tweaked it. Who knows if this will end up in the book if and when it gets published (I hope it eventually gets published).

I feel certain that the story and journey I had with my mom needs to be told because it might bring comfort to those who may have gone through the same things or something similar.

Excerpt From My Memoir (Title TBD)

I had a mother once and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. The smallest things remind me of her. The angel teddy bear I keep in my car.  A woman at the grocery store with curly brown hair.  A television show. For a long time, these little reminders were big stabs in my heart and it would feel like something was pressing down on my lungs. That’s when I couldn’t hold the floodgates and was certain she could feel my sobs from wherever she may have gone.  She may have been able to feel the pain I felt. The sorrow I felt. The loneliness I felt.  As the years rolled by, these little reminders became less and less heart wrenching.  In time they would only make my eyes tear up and I’d wipe it away before they had a chance to roll down my cheek. Sometimes I would even smile when something reminded me of her, but it’s been a long and trying road to get to that point.  

Now they are mere acknowledgements that I had a mother.  I had a mother who kept an angel teddy bear in her car.  I had a mother with curly brown hair and soft blue eyes. I had a mother who’d sit and watch TV with us. I want everyone to know I had a mother who wasn’t perfect, but she was still my mother.

Book Update | Wish Me Luck!


In a mere 26 days, I will be submitting the first 20 pages of my memoir for a chance to be chosen for the 2016 PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellowship.

The Fellowship includes the following:

  • Professional Mentorship
  • Enrollment in classes at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program (one 12-week course & a one-day workshop)
  • Attending Author Evenings
  • Enrollment in one genre-specific Masters Class
  • Completion of a 25-hour volunteer project
  • Voice Instruction Class to read work in recording studio & receive instruction on reading publicly
  • Participation in (3) public readings
  • Stipend

This is (by far) one of the scariest, most thrilling things I will do to get my book finished and get it published. I’m sure all you published (and even non-published) authors understand me when I say the part that scares me the most is having other people judge my work, but with a memoir they will also be judging my life and my experiences.

Even though I’m scared and nervous and anxious, I’m also very excited to see if I get this Fellowship. It’s an amazing opportunity to learn more about the craft of writing and gain valuable experience, all while working on my memoir.

So over the next 26 days I may be MIA from my blog, but know that I’ll be back in full force after I’ve had the chance to make my 20 pages good enough to submit.

If you want more information on this Fellowship please follow this link: Emerging Voices Fellowship

Book Update | Renewed Motivation


I was laying in bed one night and couldn’t fall asleep.  It was one of the nights when my mind just keeps running and I can’t turn it off.  That’s when I have to get up, go into the living room, and write out everything I’m thinking, even if it’s 1am.  This happens quite often.

I’m reading all these wonderful books and dreaming about the day I will be able to hold mine in my hand.  Even if I don’t sell a million copies, getting my book published will be one of my biggest successes.  The book reviews I do are really motivating me to keep writing. Perhaps one day my readers will be reviewing my book.

Going to author readings and panel discussions has also made me more motivated.  I’ve heard about how long it took some of them to finish their books.  Some 10 years.  Some less.  But they all kept moving forward and did draft after draft until someone finally agreed to publish it.  These authors reminded me that I’m not alone in this writing world.  That each author goes through the same struggles.  Sometimes words flow freely and I get a lot done.  Other times, it’s a struggle to get one sentence on the page.

To get even more serious about finishing my book, I’m going to do the following:

  • Join a writing group
  • Spend 1 hr per day writing
  • Get up earlier on the weekends to write
  • Write on the train to work
  • Try out different places to write (i.e. Starbucks, bookstore, park)

If I stick to these I’m sure I can finish my book soon.  The getting up early on the weekends might be the toughest task though.  I do like my sleep.

Now, it’s time for me to…just keep writing, just keep writing, just keep writing, writing, writing (think of Dori from Finding Nemo when reading this).

What do you do to stay motivated and keep writing?

My Book Update – March 16, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve given an update on my book(s) and I think now is the time.  So…I’m working on my fiction novel and set aside my memoir for a little bit.  I read this book on how to write a memoir and it’s changed the way I will be approaching mine.

But I’m really excited about this fiction novel and have grown to love the characters I’ve created.  I’m taking that as a good sign.  I’ve also started carrying around a notebook instead of just working on a computer in the evening.  It’s even in my favorite color!  I’ve noticed that I make more progress on my book when I do this.

I’m thinking that if I do a monthly update on my book it will motivate me to write more.  So, I’ve decide (while writing this sentence) that I will do just that!

Let me know what you do to stay motivated and write more.  I would love some tips. 

Sneak Peek…

As everyone knows, I am in the process of writing a book.  I am hoping that my book will be an inspiration to people who have ever had to deal with what life throws at them.  Today, I am giving you a sneak peek of a few chapters.  Please don’t hesitate to give me your opinion.

It’s amazing how fast time flies.  Before you know it you’re twenty-two years old and wondering where your life is headed.  Twenty-two is a young age, but a lot can happen in that small amount of time.  Life happens…you fall in love, celebrate with family, grieve deaths, and continue living day by day.  All the time you live, you never realize the lessons you learn from all your experiences whether they are good or bad.  People choose their own paths and no matter where you are from, the lessons are the same.  You can come from a poor family and end up poor yourself or you can take that experience to make a different future for yourself.  There are people who are given everything on a silver spoon and end up criminals instead of using what they are given for good.  No matter the person, the family, or the situation it is what you take from it and what you make of yourself.  Nobody can make you successful…only you have the power to make a name for yourself.  If obstacles are presented just get through them and keep going.  Don’t make any obstacle the reason you stop fighting to make your dreams come true.

I walk into the house and see many of my family members dispersed in the living room.  To the left, at the dining room table sits a police officer recording all of my mother’s medication into his notepad.  There are so many.  Bottles containing pills of all different sizes and colors.  I had no idea how many different types one person could have.  Looking at the vast amount of medication reminds me just how my mother is or was. A prescription drug addict.  How could I have not seen that this was coming?  I somehow knew that her addiction would catch up to her.  But not this early.  She is supposed to be alive.  Now Rayah is going to grow up without a mother and it’s her fault.  I told her over and over that she needs to stop this.  Stop taking her pills.  Stop buying them from her friends.  Just stop, stop, stop this horrible habit!  But no…that never happened.

My entire life was set around her addiction to something.  Going to rehab when I was a child.  Taking hard core drugs when I was a teenager.  Then finally checking herself into the mental ward of the hospital.  No matter what, she always went back and got worse than before.  It’s as if she didn’t care what would happen to her children if this addiction went too far.  My problems with her have only increased the guilt I have.  I never wanted to see her or talk to her.  Didn’t want anything to do with her while she was hooked.  It was a strong resentment I had towards her…and nothing was fixed and never will be between us.

As I am going through the hope chest that contained my mother’s most precious possessions and memories, I came across a short letter addressed to me.

This letter said:

Dear Danielle,

I just wanted you to know how special you are to me.  God blessed me when he gave you to me.  You are a special girl and you should know that.  Please always remember that.  Even when mom has problems she thinks of you.  You can always make my day sunnier and bright.  You are so smart and kind.  Keep being you.  You are so important in my life.  Without you my life would not be complete.  I love you so much.  Thank you for being you, the wonderful person you are.  I love you, Mom.

I immediately started to cry.  It has really hit me that I treated her so horribly toward the end.  We never had the chance to resolve the issues between each other.

%d bloggers like this: