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.

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 →

Weekly Link Love

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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.

Enjoy!

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

IMG_0893Reading:

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 →

Pregnancy Update: 34 Weeks

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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.

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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 →

Currently in May 2015

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Listening: I just finished “The Remedy for Love” audiobook by Bill Roorbach. I listened to it whenever I was driving. It’s a drastic improvement to the radio. I signed up for Audible, though I’m not really sure how I feel about the membership yet.

Continue reading →

Pregnancy Update: 30 Weeks

29 weeks and 4 days

29 weeks and 4 days

How far along? 30 weeks. I’m officially at the point where my monthly meetings at the doctor’s office are now biweekly and will soon be weekly.

Total weight gain: We made a jump up to 20 pounds this week. I never thought I’d be happy to be gaining weight. I guess that’s just the clarity you gain from losing weight for a while when pregnant. I’m still feeling great physically so that’s all that matters.

Maternity clothes? Still wearing a mix of “normal” clothing and maternity clothes. At this point, if I’m wearing a dress it may or may not be maternity. If I’m wearing a top and bottom, the bottom is definitely maternity, and there’s a good chance that the top is maternity as well, though I still have a small stash of my normal tops I’m wearing – especially cardigans. I love my cardigans! Continue reading →

Dos and Don’ts

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Recently, my friend San shared a post that was inspired by another post previously shared by my friend Nora. I figured that since both of these awesome ladies shared something like this, I might as well jump on the bandwagon and write my own.

I do…

+ love my sleep. I appreciate getting a full night of sleep, and yes, I know… I should appreciate it while I still have it.

+ love baseball season. Right now I’m loving getting back into serious baseball with my Red Sox. Not just that, but Wolverine just moved up to little league, and I’m pumped to watch his season.

+ love yard sales and flea markets. I’m looking forward to some bargain shopping this summer.

+ love to eat and snack.

+ love to celebrate people’s life events. I get very excited for wedding and pregnancy announcements, etc.

+ feel pretty good about my pregnant body and how it’s changed. Making a baby is incredible.

 

I don’t…

+ have any clue what life will be like once I have this baby. That is both terrifying and freeing at the same time.

+ know what to pack for my hospital bag when it’s delivery time.

+ know how to get my entire photo collection out of iPhoto. Can anyone help me? I’m also planning on purchasing Lightroom and Elements and I don’t know how to use either. Who wants to teach me?

+ want to get out of my bed on rainy day mornings.

+ have any interest in meal planning right now which is leading toward me and Mr. O being very unsure of what to eat for dinner every night.


What are some of your dos and don’ts?

One Little Word | 2015

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I start thinking of my one little word a few months before the year even begins. I’m serious – ask my friend Linsey. I’m always running my ideas by her. When I found out I was pregnant in November of 2014, I knew that I needed to put some effort in to choose the perfect word for 2015.

It’s funny – compared to recent years, coming up with my one little word for 2015 was relatively easy. I knew what it would be almost immediately, even though I really thought about it for a few additional weeks. I thought my word was too simple, but you know what – sometimes things are just meant to be simple. There’s a whole lot that’s going to be happening in my life this year, and a simple word to really focus in on is perfect.

You might think it’s funny that I’m just talking about this now in April. I actually thought I had blogged about my word of the year in the first week of January, until I went to link back to the post today and realized I had never discussed it. I know why too. I was too afraid about spilling the beans about our pregnancy that I just told myself to hold off on sharing anything.

Well there’s no need for that any longer. My one little word for 2015 is… Continue reading →

Currently in April 2015

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I’ve decided to move these posts back to mid-month, at least for a little while. In the past two months I felt like I was just repeating myself between this monthly post and my pregnancy update which usually was shared within days of each other. Maybe after the baby comes I’ll move this back to the end of the month – who knows?

 

Reading: Similar to last month, I’ve spent this month reading submissions for Spry Literary Journal. We hope to publish issue 06 sometime next month, so as you can imagine, I’ve been engrossed in the fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and flash of writers from around the world. I honestly think this will be a very exciting issue, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I haven’t done any reading for fun this week. I’m behind on the baby book I’m currently reading, and I just got a book from the Postal Book Club that I’ve been dying to dive into. I just haven’t found the chance yet.

 

Listening: semi-listening to the radio. There’s just been so much junk on the radio lately. I feel as if I keep getting commercials on every station, and I need to do something to change it. I started listening to podcasts again this week, and I’m hoping I can incorporate that more into my daily practice, rather than just listening to songs I don’t even like that much. I also brought my huge mix CD binder out to my car, and I’m hoping to listen to some oldies, but goodies soon.

 

Excited: that Wolverine’s baseball season begins this week. I love watching him play baseball, and I can’t wait for the games to begin.

 

Watching: most of the shows I actually watched on television have just ended for the season, so now it’s time to catch up on Netflix and Amazon Prime. I’ve been watching my way through this list of 10 true crime documentaries, and I definitely recommend that you do the same. So far I’ve watched “Dear Zachary,” “The Central Park Five,” and “Crazy Love.” If you’re only going to watch one of these videos, make it “Dear Zachary.” Whatever you do, don’t Google or do any research about the film before watching it. The movie is utterly heartbreaking and it moved me in a serious way. It’s a must watch.

 

Wearing: all maternity clothes. I can’t wait until I can break the dresses and flip flops out. I’m sure it’s coming real soon.

 

Wishing: I’m not too sure that I’m wishing for anything. I wish for fun snacks sometimes. I wish for beautiful weather. I wish for naps, though I never take them. That’s about it. My biggest wish is that this baby I’m growing remains healthy. I also wish my friends and family stay healthy as well.

 

Drinking: Water with lemon, orange juice, cranberry raspberry juice, regular water.

 

Loving: the weather. Spring has finally sprung. It’s mostly beautiful outside all the time. Even the colder days still feel so hopeful. I know it’s been over a month now since the time change, but I simply adore how light it is at night. This is my favorite time. I just feel so positive and pumped up.

 

Loathing: Bad drivers.

 

Admiring: my best friend who is due to deliver her second baby within the next month. Technically the baby is scheduled to come via c-section in the second week of May, but there is a very good chance she’ll deliver beforehand. The same thing goes for my blog friend Becky. I think the final month of pregnancy is so tough, and the waiting is excruciating. I can imagine that it takes so much patience to be where you ladies are, and I just want to give you both a virtual high five.

 

How is April treating you, pals? I hope you’re able to enjoy some of this spring weather!

Check out what I was doing, thinking, and feeling in JanuaryFebruary, and March.

Oh, I’ve just been writing online

A while back I shared some links of articles I had published elsewhere online. I figured since I’m publishing often and sharing to Twitter, I should also share it to the blog every once in a while. It’s been a while since I shared a post like this, so I might do another one mid-month to catch up.

Managing Writers When There Are Too Many Cooks In the Kitchen

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“Your company blog needs a strong head chef. Is that you?”






A Look Back at 9 Years of Twitter History

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“Twitter recently shared ten of their most influential Tweets in the past nine years. Do you remember seeing any of these when they were posted?”

 

 

How to Set a Realistic Editorial Deadline

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“No one should ever be the bottleneck in projects. Ever. Hit your deadlines.”

 





Be friends with the President! Barack Obama is on Twitter

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“Are you wondering if the leader of the United States of America has enough spare time to Tweet for himself?”

 

 

 

 

Where Have Amanda’s Hands Been?

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“Our lesson for you is simple: If you share your images online, be prepared to wind up in unexpected places.”

 

 

 

 

Using Poetweet on Famous Writers’ Twitter Accounts

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“Have you heard of Poetweet yet? It is an incredible website which will turn your Tweets into poetry. Seriously!”

 

 

 

 

Using Facebook for Real Estate Marketing Can Be Totally Awesome

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“50% of consumers value a brand’s Facebook page more than its website. So what you post there, is who you are.”

 

 

 

Our 10 Favorite Celebrity First Tweets

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“Now, even though I enjoy cyber stalking early Tweets, it can get frustrating to scroll through thousands of Tweets just to make your way to the bottom. That is until Twitter launched an option where you can read anyone’s first Tweets. Now a lot less work goes has to go into my creeping. Thank you, Twitter.”

 

 

 

5 Most Productive Writing Habits of Famous Writers

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“When I was in my graduate writing program, we were required to read the work of great writers. In addition to this, we read books on craft and wrote essays studying the craft of great poets and authors. Why?”

Currently in March 2015

photo-1425036458755-dc303a604201Reading: Submissions for issue 06 for Spry Literary Journal. We haven’t made too many decisions yet, but it seems like the reading period may be winding down a bit. I can’t wait to see what we’ll choose for the next issue.

I wasn’t really “reading” these this month (since I’ve already read them each a few times), but if you haven’t read them yet, I highly recommend heading over to Spry to read the ABC’s of Fiction Writing series. On 3/27, we published the final letter, and now we’ll collect all of the posts on one page for your easy reading.

Listening: Honestly – the radio. I haven’t really been listening to anything new this month.

Excited: that I started and finished my baby registry this month. I’m sure I might tinker with it in April as well, but all things considered, it is complete!

Watching: the usual TV shows I watch.

Wearing: Trying to wear as much of  my normal clothing as I can until my closet selection gets narrowed down to almost nothing!

Wishing: for health for my family, friends, and Baby Girl O.

Drinking: Keeping this boring, per usual: cranberry juice, water, orange juice, and hot chocolate on occasion.

Loving: when I feel the baby move. It’s my favorite thing ever.

Loathing: The minor sore throat I had last week. Being sick while pregnant is the least amount of fun ever.

Admiring: my awesome friends and family for all the hand-me-downs we’ve received for Baby Girl O. I think we’re fully stocked on clothing until she is about 6 months old!

How was March, my friends? I hope it treated you as good as it treated me! 

Check out what I was doing, thinking, and feeling in January and February.

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