Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And The Answer Is...

So in response to this entry from Sunday, 9 people (click on their names for their links) asked really great questions. (Although, one really wasn't a question per se. Janet.) Here they are, in the order they were posted, with my answers.

And my sincere apologies for the length of this post. My husband would say that, as always, I could have been much tidier and more efficient with my explanations. But that’s a writer for you, eh?

Travis Erwin: I believe you've mentioned living on or near a lake. How's the fishing, and what kind of fish are predominately sought?

We live at a 600+ acre lake in the Midwest, alongside peace and beauty. My husband fishes occasionally, not for sport but for recreation. We have the same fish as you do in Texas: bass, carp, crappie, bluegill, and catfish (our lake paper just reported a couple caught a 39 lb. flathead, though I'm not sure what the record is). We're also far enough north to have walleye, which I hear fishermen in these parts talk about often.

Janet: Questions with Qualman? This is queer. I quail at the thought, I quiver in fear. Will you quibble with my queries, quell my questions of quotidian quirks? What a quandary. Shall it cause quarrels? I lay down my quaking quill. I am not qualified.

Quite.

Joshua: well....since you answered my rash question lol… Do you find it hard balancing writing, being a wife, being a mother, and making brownies?

Absolutely, it’s difficult. Being a stay-at-home-mom is the greatest of my blessings and priorities, but I don’t want that to be all I do. I don’t want to lose sight of who I am aside from Mommy and what my desires are. So, balance is crucial to me, though I often feel I fall short of attaining it. It seems like something’s always got to give. I’d like to devote equal parts of time and energy to all aspects of my life, but there are most certainly days where my focus skews. My daughters always get that one part of me; the part that fixes their meals, guides their activities, hugs and snuggles, helps them in the bathroom, answers their questions, reads books, etc... But “extras,” like sitting down at the computer to play a game together, or going to the park, or doing a craft, are traded off with the other parts of my life. Some days, because of tasks and demands, I spend a lot of time on homemaker things. Other days, dishes and laundry fall to the wayside and I focus on whatever writing project has my interest and drive. And somewhere in there is physical and emotional support for my husband. Some falls under my homemaking role, like keeping his work clothes clean (he’s working 6 days a week, 12 hrs+, and can’t possibly do it himself) and fulfilling his desire for all things baked. The emotional support is easiest, because we talk several times a day, and I’m always ready with an ear and (usually) a back rub (when he's actually home). I know I’ll be able to strike a better balance once both girls are in school and I have several uninterrupted hours a day, but until then I have to try to juggle it all through the course of each week.

Still, I feel like I’m able to get quite a bit of writing done, which I’ll get into more down in Melanie’s question.

Oh, and there’s always time for brownie making… ;)

Joanne: You've mentioned writing a column. Can you give us some details on that ... how often, subject, topics you've covered, things like that? I think that's a nice facet of a writing career.

Great question, Joanne! I created and write a column called Every Mom’s Column. It’s a humor piece appearing quarterly, based on my life as a mom, and I write it in the vein of Erma Bombeck’s style. (I love her writing.) My goal is to share anecdotes and experiences in a relatable way, one that will leave moms laughing and feeling good about motherhood. Every Mom’s Column is put out in our county’s health department newspaper, which is printed by the local publisher. Having first proposed the article to the publisher himself and getting no response (at all), I approached the health department (who holds creative control) directly, who thought it a great idea and signed me on. I’d put time and energy into seeking syndication with the column (or a larger pub) if I wasn’t trying to make something of myself as a novelist. Still, the kinds of writing that appear in my column (which I’ll give examples of below in Terri’s question) are a passion of mine.

Angie Ledbetter: I've got a long research list of possible women's fiction agents if ya wanna copy! How's the hunt going?

Thanks, Angie! AgentQuery.com has become my best friend, it seems. I’ve found many who might be a good match, though none (yet) who seem to feel the same. My women’s fiction currently has a dozen rejections, and I have quite a few more out… several of which enough time has passed and I expect to hear nothing. So it’s with wavering confidence and strengthening anxiety that I continue. I did decide last night to take anothe swipe at my query letter, make some new changes. Will be working on that...

WendyCinNYC: How's your daughter liking school so far? How did you meet misterwrites?

She’s loving it! Her little friends and the daily routine fill her with excitement, and she’s experiencing so much. She’s also learning that not every experience is perfect, because one of the teachers rubs her the wrong way. I’m using it as a opportunity to teach her that we’ll always have disagreeable people in our lives; people who aren’t nice no matter the circumstance, and all you can do is smile and go on about your day.

A close friend of mine in high school (still a dear friend today) had a block of college classes with misterwrites freshman year. One day she said, “Janna, I know a guy, and you’d be perfect for each other.” So she told me about him, and him about me. Soon we had a blind date… A month later we knew we were serious. Got married almost two years later. And our 9th wedding anniversary is in two weeks. :)

Terri Tiffany: I can't wait to read all the answers!! I wondered about your column too--can we read some?

Since it’s printed in a small publication it's not available online. But I once posted my introductory installment on AW, here, and posted one here on Blogger several weeks ago. Let me know what you think. :)

colbymarshall: If you could name yourself anything other than Janna, what would your name be?

What if I told you I always liked the name Hortense Bolivia? *snicker* I teased my husband with that name for both our daughters. In the end, we chose more traditional names. Anyway, to properly answer your question… I like the name Valerie. And maybe that’s because I was thisclose to being a Valerie. It was just a few weeks before I was born that close friends of my parents' had their girl and stole the name. So I became Janna.

Melanie Avila: Phew! I'm getting in just under the wire. Friday my cousin and I were discussing you over lunch (all good, I swear). As we watched her boys run laps around the table, screaming, she said she can't figure out how you manage to write as much as you do with two little ones. She thought perhaps the fact that they are girls means they aren't QUITE as rowdy, so I'm curious what you have to say about that.

I would also like to know your favorite place to buy clothes. Not your dream place, but where most of them come from. (In the states I'm a Limited/Gap kind of girl.)

Sometimes I have no idea how I manage. My girls are, I think, just as rowdy as the next kids, especially my five-year-old. I guess it’s pertinent to say I rarely have thoughts that aren’t interrupted, and I’m forever having to take a break from my writing and get back to it later. [In example, when I wrote this post yesterday, it took stolen snatches of time over a five-hour period, between lunch, laundry, dishes, phone calls, running to school, talking with the contractor, helping my three-year-old in the bathroom A LOT, changing said three-year-old's clothes A LOT (because she wants to be a princess! no, no, she wants to be a Cheetah Girl!), checking in on Blogger, Facebook and MySpace, and vacuuming up crickets (it’s a part-time job).] Small snippets come to me throughout the day, so it seems I’m often hopping up and down from my desk to get them down. It’s horribly sporadic. (It does help, depending on how you look at it, that my computer is right off our family room, where we spend a large amount of our time. All of that will change once our remodeling is done.) But when one daughter is gone and the other is napping, or they’re engrossed in a favorite movie or game, or they’ve gone to bed and I’ve caught my second wind, that’s when I fill in the larger chunks of my writing. I so wish I had more time like that, but it’s such a hard thing when they’re little. I try not to wish away time, or dream too much about my days when they’re both in school, but a fairly big part of me does look forward to it.

Where do I shop most? Hmm. That’s tough because I frequent so many discount stores, and a lot of my clothing comes from them. (By “discount” I don’t mean Wal-Mart – though they get a large amount of our money – but places who receive overstocks and misplaced freight, of which they then seriously reduce the prices.) But as for retail, probably Target and Kohls most often. And I love Old Navy.

Wow, that's a horribly long blog. Tell me honestly, did you read it all or skim? Perhaps I should make up for it with very short, very simple posts for the next few days...

Thanks for participating! I had fun!

14 comments:

Terri Tiffany said...

I loved reading this!! We always wonder about the people we are making friends with and this was so helpful! I envy your lake!! I hate the ones in Florida because of all the alligators.
Now to check your column!

Janna Qualman said...

Thanks so much, Terri! :)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Are ya kidding? Of course I had to read it all. Nice to get a peek inside the blogger's "real" life.

Keep at your querying and you'll find success through determination.

Joshua said...

very very cool post janna! loved it

Travis Erwin said...

We have walleye in the lake closest to me as well. there is no tastier freshwater fish.

WendyCinNYC said...

Thanks for sharing, Janna!

Anonymous said...

I read it ALL. Let me tell everyone out there, Janna does a great job of keeping her life in balance. She is a great mom, wife and friend oh yeah and writer.
(((hugs))) to Janna
-Heather

Melanie Avila said...

Well done Janna! I read it all, although my question WAS the last one, duh... Kidding! I love the story of how you met your husband. I bet that friend gets lots of thanks. :)

Janna Qualman said...

I'm so glad this post was well received! Thanks, everyone.

Travis, I'll have to tell my hubby you guys have walleye. He didn't think there were any that far south.

Heather - You are too stinkin' sweet. Love and hugs.

Janet said...

I liked the meeting hubby story too.

My #4 son and a friend were discussing one day and decided that my #2 son and friend's big sister were made for each other. Some time later, #2 son met friend's parents and had a good time chatting. They started thinking, "Just the kind of guy we want for our daughter."

Then #2 son met her. They are now married.

Sometimes the people around you can just see that the puzzle pieces fit.

Joanne said...

Loved reading this. So much I think we can all relate to, like that there are a lot of trade-offs. (Too bad you can't put those darn crickets to work!) But it sounds like you live in a beautiful, peaceful setting to balance those trade-offs. Also, it's commendable that you got your column going on your own. Great job, I always admired Erma Bombeck and her view of life! Even your one line about writing this post over a 5-hour period tells us a lot about your life, and your stamina! Thanks for sharing with us.

Joshua said...

its written, just posted late :)

Joshua said...

thats ok, we love ya just the same :)

colbymarshall said...

That's funny, because I used to love the name Valerie when I was teenager! Great minds!