Currently in September 2015


Reading: Eat, Sleep, Poop by Scott W. Cohen

Listening: to a lot of classic music. Thanks, Baby Einstein.

Excited: to feel so much more comfortable in my role as a mother than I did last month. I wasn’t uncomfortable per say, but now I know I’ve got this thing down. We have our easy going days and we have our super tough days, but I know I can handle it all.

I’m also so excited that breastfeeding is going well. Like most people, it was pretty tough those first few weeks. It was probably right around the time of my last update that I really started to notice a difference, and the past 3-4 weeks have been overall easy as can be. I feel so fortunate that this was able to work for me and my baby.

I’m also very excited to hear that two good aquaintances recently became pregnant after trying for a while. I love happy news, especially when it includes babies.

Watching: Revenge, Grey’s Anatomy, many random crime documentaries on Netflix, and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Wearing: my wardrobe is still a pain. I’ve lost pretty much all the pregnancy weight. However, because I was already a bit overweight when I got pregnant, my stretching while pregnant, and the c-section scar, I have a serious belly pudge. It’s pretty tough to find clothing I’m comfortable in at this point, so I’m wearing and rewearing the same ol’ outfits. I don’t really mind so much since losing weight/looking good is the last thing on my mind these days, but I know I’ll feel better when I’m happy with my closet.

Wishing: that the baby keeps doing so well taking a bottle. I’m in no way stopping breastfeeding, but I’d like the option of having her take a bottle from time to time. We have a wedding coming up where we will be gone most of the day, and I’ll be going back to work in a month and a half, so she needs to be able to get her nourishment from something other than me. When we first tried the bottle she was refusing it, but now she is beginning to drink out of it like a champ. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Drinking: finally drinking my pumpkin coffee! Also drinking an insane amount of water, too.

Loving: the amount of time I’ve been able to spend with one of my best friends because of my maternity leave.

Loathing: how quickly my little baby is growing up.

Admiring: all my mom friends. All the stories come out when you have an infant. Everyone wants to tell you about their pregnancies, their deliveries, their experience with breastfeeding, how their babies slept through the night, and everything else. We all have such similar and different stories, and I’m glad to have such great people to share my stories with.

Are you enjoying your September so far? It’s my birthday month, and I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am!

Check out what I was doing, thinking, and feeling in JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJuly, and August.

Obligatory Baby and Life Update

IMG_7474Guys… I’m alive.

It might not seem like it from the lack of writing I’ve done.

In fact, you might still be wondering if I’m still pregnant.

I’m not.

I’m happily in the throes of infancy. It’s overwhelming, and it’s wonderful at the same time.

I want you to know I haven’t given up on the blog. Actually, I’ve probably written more in the past six weeks than I have in the past year and a half. The only problem is that I haven’t finished the posts. I’ve got about 5 posts that are 90% done, and another 15 that are 75% finished.

My goal is to get these posts up over the course of the next month. I was going to backdate my posts, but really… what fun is that?

So yes, you’ll read a lot of “old news” once the posts have published, but I’m thinking you’ll enjoy what you read.

Thanks for being patient with me. I can’t wait to introduce you to my baby and share everything that has happened.

Currently in August 2015

photo-1424746219973-8fe3bd07d8e3Reading: I don’t think I’ve read anything at all since last month.

Listening: to a lot of white noise and soft songs with the baby.

Excited: when I get more than an hour or two of sleep at a time.

Watching: A whole lot of infomercials in the middle of the night when I’m feeding my baby.

Wearing: Is it weird that I miss my maternity wardrobe? I don’t quite fit in my non-maternity clothing yet. Well, I fit in a decent amount of clothing, but my body just doesn’t look right in it yet. I also don’t fit in some of my maternity clothes. So I’m living in this in-between stage where I’m wearing some maternity clothes and some normal clothes. To be honest, I’m really just wearing the same small collection of tops and bottoms.

And…to be really honest with you, I’m wearing my pajamas a good portion of the time.

Wishing: to freeze time. My baby is almost already a month old. I just don’t even know how we got to this point. I feel like I just had her days ago, and in just about a week she will be one month old. Having a baby – while incredible – is overwhelming. I feel like I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy these moments with her yet. It’s all just blurry. I want to freeze time and take in all these moments.

Drinking: I’ve had coffee! It was wonderful. Now I’m looking forward to pumpkin coffee season. To be honest though I really don’t have too much interest in coffee. It was just nice to drink some. I’m really mostly just trying to drink as much water as possible. This may sound strange, but I think when I’m really hydrated I feel more like myself and less hormonal.

Loving: being a mother. It’s really wonderful. I love looking at my child, especially when she is breastfeeding, and realizing that she is something that me and Mr. O created and that she grew inside of me.

Loathing: the lack of sleep, how tough breastfeeding can be, the tears that come out of nowhere that I can’t stop, not knowing what my baby is feeling or needing when she cries.

Admiring: My son. He has taken so well to having a sibling. I know how tough it is for kids to adjust to a new child in the home, and I imagined it would be especially tough for him, seeing as he’s been the only child for nine years now. He’s really taken it all in stride, which is what I expected, but it is still so nice to see him in his new role as a big brother.

How’s August, friends? It’s one of my favorite months, and I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am!

Check out what I was doing, thinking, and feeling in JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJune, and July.

Pregnancy Update: Week 40

Excuse the mop and tired 40 week pregnant lady.


Guess who is still pregnant?

Today, I’m 40 weeks and two days pregnant, and I have no clue when my little baby girl will actually get here.

By this point, everyone I know is wondering if the baby is here yet. As I mentioned in the last post, I’m getting lots of Facebook notes, texts, and phone calls inquiring about the baby’s whereabouts. The best part is the advice we’ve been given. Everything from the normal old wives’ tales – drive down a bumpy road – to a specific chain restaurant we should eat at because that person’s children were born the very next day after they ate there. Continue reading →

Pregnancy Update: Week 39

38 Weeks and 4 days pregnant


To begin, I can’t believe my pregnancy has almost come to an end. In two more days I’ll be 40 weeks pregnant. I still vividly remember being six weeks pregnancy hoping to make it to week seven. I remember the relief of getting to week twelve and finally being able to tell our family, friends, and work. I remember perfectly those first few days in the early weeks of the second trimester when I was finally starting to feel better, but too nervous to be excited about it. I remember hoping the third trimester would be as kind to me as the second.

And suddenly, I’m days away from meeting my baby girl. It all seems so surreal. Continue reading →

Currently in July 2015

photo-1433208406127-d9e1a0a1f1aaReading: I haven’t been reading much in the past month. Besides Spry Literary Journal submissions, I’ve been doing a lot of writing for work to prepare for my maternity leave. My writing time is taking over my reading time.

Listening: to “House Rules” by Jodi Picoult on my way to and from work. It’s an Audible book, and I’m enjoying it so far.

Excited: to know that any day now I will meet my baby girl. It’s so weird to think that my pregnancy is almost over. In some ways, it feels as if it just started (in others, it all seems so long ago!). Technically, my due date is in 5 days. I could go then, now, or the baby could choose to keep cooking for a little while. We shall see. It’s both exciting and nerve wracking not to know when she will make her appearance to the world.

Watching: Wentworth, Revenge, Shark Tank, Cutthroat Kitchen

Wearing: My wardrobe hasn’t changed all that much throughout my pregnancy! I’m wearing dresses mostly throughout the week, but I’m also living in leggings and shorts some times. If you want me to be completely honest with you, my pajamas are my go-to outfit while I’m home. It’s the most comfortable clothes I own.

I’ve actually been real lucky to have a great maternity wardrobe, but I am a little excited about adding in some of my non-maternity clothes (hopefully soonish).

Wishing: for a healthy baby. Yes, same as last month, but that’s the only important thing right now. I’m also hoping that Wolverine loves being a big brother as much as I think he will. Yes, it will be a transition, but he’s such a loving, awesome kid I hope he adjusts well.

Drinking: Same old drinks: orange juice, cranberry-grape juice, or water. Sometimes I have an occasional ice tea.

Loving: all the baby movement I feel. Yes, I’m one of those moms who is going to miss being pregnant after the baby is born. I’m trying to enjoy our special little bond while we’re together, and I’m sure I’m going to love having her in this world even more.

Loathing: How huge my feet have been swelling and how arthritic my hands, feet and joints feel on super warm days.

Admiring: My husband. He’s a really great guy who goes above and beyond for other people. He’s one of the most selfless people I know. All he cares about is doing things to make other people happy. I’m so very lucky to have him in my life.

How’s July treating you? It’s one of my favorite months, and I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am!

FYI – Now that the baby will be here soon, I may move this monthly check-in back to the last day of the month. Not sure, but we will all find out come August!

Check out what I was doing, thinking, and feeling in JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMay, and June.

The Lady Writers Interview Series: A.J. O’Connell

I’m so excited to continue my new blog series in which I’ll be interviewing some incredible lady writers. Every woman I interview is someone I know and admire, and I can’t wait for you to get to know them as well. 

The fourth incredible lady I interviewed is A.J. O’Connell. She and I went to the same graduate school, and were both chapter editors on an amazing book – Now What?: The Creative Writer’s Guide to Success After the MFA. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed the process.

aj.oconnell.photocreditErin Ollila: Let’s start with something easy. I’ve always admired your writing. In fact, I interviewed you when one of your previous novellas came out. What are you currently working on?

A.J. O’Connell: Oh man. So I’m working on.. hang on, I’m counting them.. three projects? No. Four novel projects actually. I like the pain.

EO: Sounds like it! Are they all novels?

AO: Yes, three are novels. One is the last novella in the Beware the Hawk trilogy.

EO: How do you feel about rounding out the Beware the Hawk trilogy? Do you feel as if it’s found a natural end, or are you worried these characters will live with you forever?

AO: I have a lot of feelings about the Beware the Hawk trilogy. On the one hand, I am very ready to wrap it up and move on to my other projects, but on the other hand, I struggle with giving the story an ending. The whole trilogy is the a story about the death of an organization, really, and the evolution of our country’s post 9/11 mindset, and that’s been a hard thing to capture, especially since I feel like our country’s mindset is changing very quickly. So it’s taking me forever to write this last piece of the story.

That’s my excuse.

EO: It actually sounds like a pretty reasonable “excuse.” Are you willing to share any details about the three novels you’re working on, or is that still under wraps for the time being?

Continue reading →

Pregnancy Update: 37 Weeks

I am 37 weeks and two days pregnant today. 

At my doctor’s appointment yesterday, my physician told me that from this point on they wouldn’t stop me if I were to go into labor.

Can you even believe that?

It feels like just yesterday I announced my pregnancy on the blog. There are so many ways this pregnancy has just flown by. At the same time, there were certain points that felt like they lasted so long. Now that I’m in my final few weeks, I just can’t believe how fast the actual journey was.

The question I get asked the most at this point is if I’m ready to have the baby. It’s a pretty normal question. In fact, I’ve asked it of many friends before. The last few weeks are difficult on any pregnant person, and especially so in the hot and humid summer. As of today, I have 2 weeks and five days until my due date.

Am I dying to have this baby? Continue reading →

Weekly Link Love


I’ve been sharing a lot of great content lately on Twitter, and it’s made me realize that it’s been quite a while since I shared quality posts on the blog. I used to do it weekly, but after a while I felt like I was searching for content to share, versus being excited to share new posts with my readers.

Now, I feel as if I’m overloaded with awesome posts I’ve been hoarding in my reader or sharing on Twitter. It’s about time to take that community spirit and share some awesome content on the blog with you guys.

Since I was cleaning out my reader, I thought one of the best things to do was share old posts that have been in there for years. Yes – years. I have posts dating back to 2011 in my reader. I save them because I’ve enjoyed them, but to be honest, it isn’t as if I go through my reader regularly for posts to read. I’m trying to simply my “Saved For Later” section, and in doing so, I’m going to share some posts with you from years and years ago.


Continue reading →

The Lady Writers Interview Series: Mary Lide

I’m so excited to continue my new blog series in which I’ll be interviewing some incredible lady writers. Every woman I interview is someone I know and admire, and I can’t wait for you to get to know them as well. 

The third incredible lady I interviewed is Mary Lide. She and I went to the same graduate school, but at different times. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed the process.

11426633_816272875929_1135390652_nErin Ollila: You’re about to graduate from Fairfield University with your MFA in Creative Nonfiction. How do you feel? What are your thoughts on your past two years in the program, and what do you expect in the near future?

Mary Lide: I’m a little sad about graduating, because I’m going to miss the residencies. They were like writer summer camps for me. That said, I am excited about graduating, because it’s what I’ve been working for during these past two years. I really enjoyed my time in the program–every mentor I worked with was a dream. They understood my work, and pushed me to try new things. I’m proud of what I’ve written during the program–I think I’ve found my writing style. As for the near future…still figuring that part out!


EO: Let’s talk a little more about what you studied while in the program. What was your thesis about?

ML: My thesis is titled Still: Essays in 23 Frames. It’s a collection divided into three main categories: My mother, my family, and myself. Each section has a mix of lyrical essays and narratives. The subjects of the essays include death, mental health, childhood, the body, identity, fear, and longing.

Continue reading →

The Lady Writers Interview Series: Stephanie Harper

I’m so excited to continue my new blog series in which I’ll be interviewing some incredible lady writers. Every woman I interview is someone I know and admire, and I can’t wait for you to get to know them as well. 

The second lovely lady I interviewed is Stephanie Harper. Stephanie and I went to the same graduate school, and she was also on Spry’s staff for quite some time. We were so lucky to have her keen eye and editorial skills working with our contributors. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed the process.

Stephanie Harper Reinventing ErinErin Ollila: I was so lucky to have you as one of my Editorial Readers at Spry Literary Journal. Does close reading other writers’ work influence your writing at all?

Stephanie Harper: Definitely. I think the influence is kind of twofold. On the one hand, I get to read many well-crafted pieces that inspire me and push me to go further with my own work. This has been a great source of energy for me. On the other hand, looking critically at the amount of submissions I go through each issue, I begin to see patterns emerge in regards to craft issues or certain writing ticks that turn me away from pieces. It makes me hyper-vigilant in my own work.


EO: Well said. I think learning from other’s mistakes is a type of job benefit. You can learn without making mistakes yourself. Let’s talk about your own writing for a moment. What mistakes of your own have you learned from along the way?

SH: That’s a great question. From a craft standpoint, I’ve found that there were a lot of small things I could edit out of my writing that totally opened it up. Dialogue tags, for example. And adverbs. You don’t always realize how all those added words can muddy the waters of your prose until you start to really consciously eliminate them. And, sometimes it’s just a matter of having something spelled out in detail… It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out the difference between an en-dash and an em-dash. In terms of professional lessons learned, I’ve discovered that you have to be really careful with freelance work, particularly in taking on projects for individuals. While most of my clients have been wonderful, there’s been a time or two where I’ve gotten significantly underpaid or even not paid at all for work I’ve done. I’ve learned that you have to have a good grasp of the assignment and the time you will potentially put in before you start in order to make sure the fee is fair. I’ve also learned for large scale projects worth a lot of money, that if an individual is willing to pay at least a portion of the sum up front, this is a good insurance policy.

Continue reading →

Currently in June 2015


Frank McCourt’s Tis

Ann Hansley’s Everybody Writes

Stephen King’s Joyland

Also, since we just published issue 06 of Spry Literary Journal, we had a backlog of submissions to catch up with, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading for the journal as well.

Listening: to my “Work” playlist on Spotify. It’s so terrific, and I have a real hard time not belting out a tune in the office. Continue reading →

The Lady Writers Interview Series: Maria Marmanides

I’m so excited to begin a new blog series in which I’ll be interviewing some incredible lady writers. Every woman I interview is someone I know and admire, and I can’t wait for you to get to know them as well. 

The first lovely lady I’ll be interviewing is Maria Marmanides. Maria and I went to the same graduate school, and I adore her. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed the process.


6Erin Ollila: Okay so to start, I guess my first question is how and why did you get into copywriting and editing. Is this something you’ve been doing for a while or something that started after the MFA program?

Maria Marmanides: When I graduated from my undergrad, all I knew was that I wanted to be “a writer.” I don’t even think I knew what copywriting was – I just got lucky with a creative director who was willing to take a chance on someone with no real experience, but a lot of drive, badly drawn sketches and a propensity for making puns.

Now I’ve been a copywriter for nearly a decade, so long before I even considered going back to school to get my MFA. In fact, it was being a copywriter that motivated me to go back to get it. Not because you need an MFA to work as a copywriter – you really don’t – but because I was starting to lose my own voice. You write so much in marketing speak, and for various brands and different target audiences – that you start to lose a little bit of what makes your writing yours. That’s why I decided to go back to get my MFA, to get back to the core of what I love about writing, which is, revealing a personal truth, however shameful, embarrassing, or uncomfortable, in hopes of a creating a honest connection with someone else who has felt that same way. I didn’t want to be a writer because of some deep-rooted need to get someone to buy another bottle of shampoo.


EO: I love that you made the decision to get your MFA because you wanted to refine and also redefine your “voice.” As a creative nonfiction writer, building my voice is paramount. I’ve always wondered about voice in fiction. How do you develop the voice of your characters? Continue reading →

Pregnancy Update: 34 Weeks


34 weeks and 2 days (at work!)

How far along? 34 weeks and 2 days pregnant. 40 days until my due date.

Total weight gain: I’ve gained 25.2 pounds according to my doctor’s visit yesterday.

Maternity clothes? You bet – most of the time. I occasionally wear shirts from my pre-pregnancy days, but I’m mostly wearing all maternity clothing right now. So thankful for my friends who outfitted me this pregnancy.

Stretch Marks? None yet.

Sleep: I’m sleeping pretty well and loving it. However, I’m definitely finding myself more sleepy in the third trimester. Some days doing just a little leaves me exhausted. Other days I can accomplish a lot. I guess that is to be expected at this point.

Miss Anything? Soft cheese. Continue reading →

Spry Literary Journal Issue 06 Has Launched!

Incredible news for you folks on this fine Monday:

Issue 06 of Spry Literary Journal has launched! We’re so happy to share this awesome writing with you and hope you’ll spend some time getting to know our incredible contributors. Check it out here.

Thanks so much to the awesome Spry team for all their hard work and dedication this past issue.


Pregnancy Update: 32 Weeks

31 weeks and 5 days pregnant

How far along? 32 weeks. I can’t believe there are only (approximately) 8 weeks to go!

Total weight gain: I’m up to a total weight gain of 23 pounds. The majority of people who know me say that I still look pretty small for 32 weeks. However, I have gotten my first “Oh, you’re going to deliver wayyy before the end of July” reaction, so I guess that means I’m starting to plump up. I’m actually really happy with the changes in my body, so the weight gain makes no difference to me at all.

Maternity clothes? Still wearing a mix of “normal” clothing and maternity clothes. It’s that weird transition time in a New England spring when long sleeves and short sleeves are both appropriate, so I find myself either layering up (and removing layers) or changing during the day.

Stretch Marks? None yet.

Sleep: I’ve actually been sleeping a little better since the last update. I’m still (mostly) not getting up in the night to go to the bathroom, though that happens maybe 1-2 times a week. I cannot complain about my sleep in any way. I’m so fortunate to get this amount of sleep this late in the pregnancy. Continue reading →