The timing is almost always wrong

Today marks Day 12 of the Kickstarter campaign for As Real As It Gets, a picture book about how an adoptive family handles the words, “You’re not my real mother,” with love, humor, and a T Rex. If you haven’t done so already, I’ll give you a moment to click on the links above and check it out and, hopefully, contribute. And, just for fun, here’s the last sneak peek of an illustration sketch, when the monster slinks away after the mother defeats it.

slinks away

* * * *

I’ve been thinking today about that old chestnut, “I’ll do X when the timing is right,” X being a wide variety of things: have children, get married, look for a new job, go to counseling, write that book, start yoga, give up sugar, etc.

To that, let’s add “Open a Kickstarter campaign.”

Now is not the right time for me. It’s been 42 days since my world was turned upside down in the worst way (I apologize for the vagueness, but I’m not prepared to speak about it here yet). I’m still lost and overwhelmed, fielding way too many phone calls, not sleeping well, ferrying people and myself to appointments, reimagining a whole new life, looking for a job. This is not the time to begin an intense campaign to gather enough contributors to fund a picture book project.

Now is not the right time for our series editor/visionary. She and her husband have expanded their family by one more kid, which means their household includes two twenty-somethings, three teenagers, and one tween, all of whom live at home. They’re also getting themselves relicensed for fostering so they can explore a relationship with a recently discovered full sibling to one of their adopted children.

Now is not the right time for our illustrator. He was out of town for a week when the campaign went live (the first miscommunication in our partnership). He’s got a painting up at Art Prize.

And there are always other things going on, other tensions that we don’t know about each other.

But we’re doing it anyway.

If we waited for everything to be just right, we’d be waiting forever. It’s never going to be just right. There will always be challenges. Always be surprises both horrible and wonderful. Always be that terrified voice in your head that tells you it’ll never work and you can never do it.

Do your X anyway.

It may not turn out “well.” We may not make our funding goal, in which case we don’t see a dime of the money and we have to figure out a new way to make As Real As It Gets happen. But it won’t be for lack of trying.

I really do hope that you, my lovely readers, will consider contributing. But whether you can contribute or not, I’m guessing you know some adoptive or foster families, or some grandparents of adoptive families; please send them the Kickstarter link. If you need a little more incentive, here are two endorsements by social workers:

As an adoption professional and trauma specialist working in the field of foster care adoption, the concepts of the monster of doubt, of “I’m not good enough”, “No one will want me”, “Let me leave you, before you can leave me” are VERY real to our children, of ALL ages…toddler-teen. As Real as it Gets! Is a groundbreaking children’s book, for children who have experienced fragile early attachments and tough starts. It acknowledges the monster, the dinosaur, that lurks, and can come and go, but that the steadfastness of the parent’s love, through all circumstances, ultimately vanquishes the foe. As a foster and adoptive mother, I can attest to the need for such a book. It will open conversations in a non-threatening way, and the idea that the child and even parent, are not alone in their struggle against the monster. I am very excited for both the excellent text as well as exciting illustration bringing alive the idea that we as parent’s ARE as real as it gets, and our love is NOT afraid of that monster, which WILL get littler and littler with time.

Sara Blomeling DeRoo LMSW
Trauma Specialist
Operation Forever Family
Intensive Child Specific Recruitment
Bethany Christian Services Of Michigan

“As Real As It Gets” addresses the intersection of our universal need for belonging with the challenges born out of merging families through foster care and adoption. Written out of Amanda’s own experience as a foster and adoptive mom, the book normalizes one of the difficulties foster and adoptive children (and some days all of us) face-the messy truth that sometimes love and forever are hard concepts to grasp. I’m thankful for Amanda’s heart for these children and as a child welfare worker I am confident this book will be a strong resource for foster and adoptive children and families.”

Shelby Van Kooten
Bethany Christian Services Of Michigan

No matter what, I encourage you to do your “X” anyway, whether all the stars are aligned or not. (I write this as much for myself and my book partners as for you.) Let’s put the “courage” in “encouragement” (this is probably one of the cheesiest things I’ve ever said)!

As Real As It Gets: new illustration

Today marks Day 6 of the Kickstarter campaign for As Real As It Gets, a picture book about how an adoptive family handles the words, “You’re not my real mother,” with love, humor, and a T Rex. If you haven’t done so already, I’ll give you a moment to head over and check it out and, hopefully, contribute.

Welcome back.

Do you feel like you need to see more? Okay. Here’s a sneak peek of a drawing that Joel Schoon-Tanis did in preparation for a painting.

The little boy has just yelled, “You’re not my real mother.”

Everything stretches and slows down like I fell in a black hole.

fell into a black hole

This is the brilliance of Joel. The monster is clearly saying, “Whatcha gonna do about that?” It thinks it has won. The boy is dizzy and overwhelmed.

To me, this drawing encapsulates our goals with this project: reflect a child’s perspective with frankness, but also humor and care.

And the mother is unfazed. This is when she delivers her line, but she doesn’t always say it the same way.

The monster always thinks this will be the time it shocks my mother, but she always says the same thing.

Sometimes she yells it in her “Go to your room!” voice.
“I’m as real as it gets and I’m not giving up. I’m your mother in truth. Your mother. Forever.”

What are some other tones of voice a mother might use when saying these words for, say, the twentieth time?

In all seriousness, please support As Real As It Gets, either with a pledge or by sending the link to someone you know who might like it. Not just for the kids who will be able to see themselves in a story (maybe even your own kids or grandkids), but, honestly and vulnerably, also for me — due to some major life setbacks, this has become needed income.

A new metaphor for this stage

For years, when people have asked me how this writing/publishing thing was going, I’ve described it this way:

I’m doing everything I can to get hit by lightning. I’m out there in an open field carrying golf clubs and flying a kite with keys on it and anything else that might help me get published.

That was back in the day when I was still pursuing traditional publishing. I really liked that metaphor. It communicated both that I was working hard and that success was not guaranteed — after all, getting hit by lightning is fairly rare. Just as it’s fairly rare to get a traditional publishing deal, even with a well-written, engaging story.

But now that I’ve decided to become an indie publisher, I need a new metaphor. It took a friend asking me about my garden to get me there. My garden is usually a bit slower than other gardens in my neighborhood, so while everyone else’s peonies are in full and blowsy bloom, mine are like this.

fat peony bud in my garden

Fat buds.

That’s the stage I’m at in my publishing journey: the fat bud stage. Everything is there, ready to burst forth, but not just yet. The Giant Slayer is still with my Old Testament expert, but as soon as she’s done with it, I’m only three steps away from publishing it (edits, proofreader, book designer).* At the same time, I’ve got a picture book project brewing that we’re independently publishing through a Kickstarter campaign that will be live in mid-August. My words are all done, but I’m setting up the campaign and waiting for our illustrator for get me some art so I can get the website going and let everyone know about it. (There’s more information on my Books page.)


It could be driving me crazy, how close I am, but I spent too long wallowing in disappointment not to enjoy this stage of being on the verge. Fat buds aren’t as showy as full blooms, but they’ve got their own beauty.

Do you have a metaphor for an endeavor you’re in the midst of?

Edited to add: my expert is done! My bud just got fatter 🙂