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

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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)!

Sometimes Fields Need To Be Fallow

image courtesy of Darryl Smith via


I messed up.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been “writing” (in my head) a post on being fallow. Because that’s how I’ve been feeling: like a field with tapped-out soil that’s being rested in order to be more productive later.

You see, I did what I said I’d do a few months ago and sought help for my depression. It has been a beautiful, beautiful thing. I’m sleeping (mostly). I’m not having random anxiety attacks. I’m present for my family. I haven’t visited even once. I have enough energy to make my kids do their chores.

But no writing. My drive and discipline seemed to vanish with my desperation.

I wasn’t stuck, just … still. Which made sense. I’d twisted myself into such a tight, unyielding corkscrew of disappointment and frustration over my writing that there wasn’t going to be a SHAZZAM when all was made okay in an instant. It would take time. And I’d have to decide — over and over — not to follow the comfy brain paths I’d worn in during my depressed period. I’d have to choose to put good nutrients back in my tired soil.

So I started reading again: romance, history, mystery, speculative fiction, science, memoir. While I painted and redid my kids’ rooms, I listened to audiobooks of two Harry Potter and three Rick Riordan novels.

I let myself be fallow, and didn’t pressure myself to write much more than Facebook posts and Goodreads reviews (including for The Good News of Revelation, a longer and more reflective review of which will be forthcoming in this space).

And I took some risks. The Japanese student who lived with us for 9 days was a good risk. Joining the adult “beginner” soccer league (that was not so beginner) was less so. Then there was signing up for the Festival of Faith and Writing.

Which was where I messed up.

Does anyone out there remember phones with cords? Do you remember winding the cord around itself until the only remedy was to unplug the knotted cord from the body of the phone and hold it so the receiver dangled? And when you did that, it’d slowly untwist at first, but then it’d get faster and faster? (If this is not in your memory banks, visualize a figure skater doing a tight spin that speeds up until he or she is just a blur.) Well, if all my earlier soil restoration strategies were the slow untangling of the cord of my frustration (how’s that for a mixed metaphor?), then the Festival was a giant pile of soil conditioner followed by a glorious rain that spun my phone receiver around like crazy. So that I no longer feel fallow.

I’d been so wanting to write a non-triumphalist narrative, to write about being fallow while in the midst of it. But, being fallow, I waited too long. And seeds were sown and fertilized this past weekend. Good seeds. Good fertilizer.

Because it’s how God rolls, this even fits with my theme for the year — softheartedness. The phrase that the New Living Translation renders as “Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,” appears as “Break up your fallow ground” in the New Revised Standard Version (Jeremiah 4:3).

That isn’t to say that I’ve already got a healthy crop growing. It’s not like I’ve forsaken online Boggle, or severely limited my time on Facebook, or even reduced the number of blogs I read (if anything, after the Festival, I have more). But I’ve written this, and actually have ideas and plans for more. I’m moving forward with submitting It Is You and revising its sequel again.

Resistance is already dialing up to meet my challenge. After months of waking up at 5:30 a.m., last night I decided to take inspiration from Anne Lamott and do some writing before the craziness of the day started. Resistance got me up at least 8 times over the course of the night so I’d be too tired and already too harried to write. Did it work? No. But I’ve got to give props to a good attempt. Now I have to keep at it until I wear new habit grooves in my brain.

Although I’m sorry I didn’t get you my in-the-midst post, I’m grateful for my four fallow months and for the Festival of Faith and Writing. I needed them both.

How is your field? Fallow? Fertilized? Highly productive?