BLOG HOPPING-How I learned to be grateful to fellow writers

Well, I have learned to show up and do my best so here goes! I was invited very generously to do this blog hop by Kelly E. Carter who is a world-traveler with an incredible blog that makes me feel inadequate and tech challenged but she was so kind and encouraging I accepted her invitation. Kelly writes about her process here I was supposed to have three bloggers but one of them never materialized so I fear I am not passing the torch to three but two who will certainly be able to follow directions although I have my doubts! Both of these women strike me as unique, rebellious, creative and brave. One is a single mom writing and laughing her way through Chicago while the other lives in Zambia where she is a domestic goddess and a writer. So they don't show me up for the ineffective human I am, here is the obligatory riding-a-camel picture, no hands. This moment is one of relative calm after dune bashing with a psychotic driver playing deafening arabic disco and yelling something I failed to translate. My 2.5 months in Abu Dhabi were an experience I may forever fail to adequately describe.

1) What am I working on/writing? 

I am working on several things at once. I have a novel that is being submitted and rejected all over the place. I am working on a YA/memoir and a new novel about a woman trying to leave a bad marriage set in Abu Dhabi. I am writing a memoir with my ex-husband about our good divorce and I'm working on other people's writing for a wage! I also write a semi-monthly column on writing for an excellent online literary magazine called the neworld review and I just had an essay published in And I write this blog. I try to connect what I write about with what I observe around me, what is happening in my life and the life of others and from the perspective of someone who is self-deluded but means well which is basically me. Actually, I don't always mean well. My parents were incredible elitists and much of that rubbed off on me. We don't care about cars, clothes, shoes or money but we do judge based on depth, breadth of reading, architecture, consumption of fried food, body fat, taste in art and ability to interrupt and carry on 10 conversations at once. Also, pretending it doesn't matter what your religion is but Irish catholics are still vastly superior. I write about how awful it is to be handicapped by all this baggage. I whine a lot.

2) How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre? 

I'm not sure it does differ or what my genre is. I tend to write about families, about women in crisis and grief. My work has been described as literary fiction and I suppose that title is as good as anything. I'm not very plot driven although lots of things tend to occur in my novels as they do in my actual life. I have been described as brutally honest but I'm not sure if that's true. My work is also based on my life but, at the same time, very different. I am fascinated by grief, love, how people identify with each other, human relationships but also I like dogs and cats! Well, I prefer cats but I once had an editor buy my second novel purely because she liked the dog so much. I seem to be leaning towards memoir lately but novels are my thing.

3) Why do I write what I do?

God knows! I've tried writing a vampire book but it didn't really start out as that so when it came time to discuss the ins and outs of the undead it failed to make sense. I write novels when an idea suddenly occurs to me and then haunts me, nags me, pinches me and fails to disappear. Nothing is very practical which is probably why I'm neither rich nor famous. I'm terrible at marketing and confused by tweeting. I write about love and death and food and writing because those things matter to me so much. I write about mothering which I did before I was a mother because I always wanted to be one and then I became one and it was both better and worse than I could have imagined. I write about teaching because I am a teacher and I love teenagers so I write about them. I write about men because I don't understand them at all even though I've been married three times. I write about recovery because I haven't had a drink or a drug for 28 years but those 15 years introduced me to heaven and hell.

4) How does my writing process work?
Well, it's pretty random, I suppose. I write, I read, I write more, I work out, I clean and cook and write and think and read and work out. I'm not sure it's a process at this point-it's almost organic because I'm earning my living by writing and coaching writers so it's a constant thing. I also watch a bunch of bad television. And I write-mainly in the morning, often in Starbucks, or at home but the kitties are really distracting. Deadlines are good. I write when people tell me too because I'm very obedient but when I go away to write I usually work out or pout or read or have stupid conversations about my feelings and needs when I should be writing. I write without contracts. I have written all my novels into the void filled with hopefulness and fear. It's awful but it's what we do. I am constantly being asked if "I'm still writing?" ask me if I'm still breathing or still love my son.

Here is my hostess-Kelly E. Carter

Kelly E. Carter is a New York Times-bestselling author and founder of, the luxury travel source for pampered pets on the go. Her latest book, The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel, was released in spring 2014 and marks National Geographic’s first dog travel guide book. Carter and her posh pooch Lucy, a longhair Chihuahua, have globetrotted together for 13 years, including a two-year stint in Italy. A popular speaker at travel conferences, Carter is also the pet travel expert for AOL’s pet site PawNation and Elite Traveler, where she’s a Contributing Editor. She has written for numerous publications and websites, including on staff for People and USA Today and as a freelancer for Departures, Men’s Fitness, Black Enterprise, Los Angeles Times, History Channel MagazineSouth China Morning Post in Hong Kong, and With Venus Williams, Carter co-authored the New York Times best-selling book Come to Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors and Other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession

My two bloggers!

Jenn-Ann Gledhill
Old Single Mom is the slightly ironic moniker of "JA," a Chicago girl since June 1, 1995. She relocated from Orlando after receiving a "message" to do so during the Winona Ryder/Susan Sarandon version of the film "Little Women." (She is fully aware it could have been the booze fumes talking, but those fumes were really on to something if that's the case...) She sometimes works on her novel, tentatively titled "The Branson Novel," but so what, right? Everyone is working on something. She has a 6 year old son, an ugly condo, and two cats, one of whom is a real jerk.

My name is Annabel Hughes. Home is a corrugated tin box built on a concrete slab thrown under an old Mongongo tree on the Zambezi River escarpment, twenty kilometers from the resplendent Victoria Falls in Zambia. The tin box–a deceptive architectural wonder–is the creation of my partner Chris who, in an earlier time on his farm, was forced to build a place in which to live in 20 days. Its simplicity and openness allows for unfettered access to the natural world beyond. I find it inspirational. Mostly. There are no doors. The corrugated walls are articulated to allow for air to pass through unencumbered. And the rain, during the wet months. And the heat. And the bugs.
When I finished high school in the 1980′s I was sent to England to be taught how to cook, but today I have little use for the consomm√©-cum-thermidor techniques I learned back then. Later, in Virginia where I lived in the United States, I uncovered a heartfelt enthusiasm for gardening, and am now fortunate to live in a climate where nearly everything grows. Since returning to Africa from the United States I’ve also been learning about wild food, a subject in which I became interested while completing the Virginia Master Naturalist program in 2011. Each of these elements complements my genuine pleasure in feeding people … fresh, simple food that is as local as possible.
I started my blog in the hope of sharing with you what it is like to live–and cook and garden and forage–in such a unique environment. I want to share what it is like cooking in a basic kitchen with a big Mongongo tree in it, growing a garden that flourishes in semi-arid Kalahari sand watered by the Zambezi River, living on a farm where the biggest pests are elephants, in an area with people who have been subsisting off the land for centuries.
I arrived on Chris’s farm in February 2013. From America via London via Zimbabwe. Though my work as a journalist activist took me to London and Washington, D.C., I am African: born in Kenya, educated in Zimbabwe, and now living in Zambia. I was away from the African continent for 14 years. It feels good to be back.
My career took a sudden diversion away from writing when in 2000 Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, unleashed a national campaign of terror on his people. Based in London in England at the time, I became a pro-democracy activist after a former colleague—a newspaper editor based in Harare—was tortured nearly to death for sanctioning a story that exposed the criminality of the Mugabe government.
I first traveled to Washington, D.C. in March 2001 in order to raise awareness about the political, economic and humanitarian crises in Zimbabwe. For five years, as Executive Director of a nonprofit organization called the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, I traveled between western capitals building, nurturing and working with a network of bipartisan lawmakers, scholars, journalists, human rights and pro-democracy activists able to influence positive change in Zimbabwe. In September 2002, the same month I relocated to America, I was banned from returning to my homeland after I led a team of advocates that helped steer a U.S. Congressional bill into law: the Zimbabwe Democracy & Economic Recovery Act, which censured targeted individuals in the Mugabe government responsible for human rights abuses.
I wrote a memoir about these experiences. I never published, but National Book Award winner John Casey, after reading my sample writing, invited me to attend his post-graduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia, which I completed in 2008.
I have also worked as a freelance analyst for CNN International and other major media organizations in live broadcasts focused on Zimbabwe. I have published articles, op-eds, letters and book reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, Providence Journal, Canadian Globe & Mail, Financial Times, U.K. Daily Telegraph, and U.K. Guardian. I also collaborated on an Atlantic Monthly story on Zimbabwe with Samantha Power, a former advisor to President Obama and author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.


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