You know, a lifeline.

That’s apparently how I’m using my blog tonight. Thanks for reading.

I finished a couple books in the last week, and they were both sequels. Good, interesting, well written, but just not everything I wanted. I will probably never write series … first, it’s gotta be so hard to continue putting your characters through pain; secondly, it’s too easy to compare the books to one another.

I feel like a crummy friend, bad coworker, lazy writer, all of these in a body that seems to always be pissed at the world. No matter how much time I spend with the word chronic, I keep somehow waiting to get over it, to feel better.

Have you guys watched the second season of Queer Eye yet? I cry basically every episode. I want the Fab Five to come fix my life. I want Tan France to be my friend and ask deep questions and get my clothes tailored.

I feel like I have all these things I haven’t announced yet on my blog, but they probably wont be earth-shaking to anyone else but me. I’m rambling now, aren’t I? It’s the lifeline, baby.

I have to put the laundry in the dryer. Herculean efforts.

Ok, did it. I’m gonna get some extra rest tonight; clearly my body is screaming for it.

Two questions:

1. What should I read next, any suggestions?

2. What’s the best life advice you’ve ever been given? Pretend you’re my life coach and pass it along in the comments, will ya?

Surrender Your Donuts

Did it. Laundry is in the washer. I theoretically understand I dont deserve a medal for this, but it’s just one of those days.


Heck, all of 2018 has been hard.

My body hurts, loneliness is real, I’m stressed which triggers a boatload of things includingtrichotillomania, I’m scared of my manuscript, and the USA is going to hell in a handbasket [of deplorables … sorry, couldn’t resist].

But I have a load of laundry in, so that’s a win.

This Should Not Be This Difficult

I’m so tired. I think summer weather drains me faster than almost anything. I cant seem to get motivated AT ALL. I’m literally lying in bed avoiding starting a load of laundry.

And I’ve been avoiding it for a while now, texting my friend how I essentially want to hire people to do all my adulting.

Send help. Or donuts.

The Curvy Girl’s Guide to Confidence

Listen up, friend: this post is meant to be empowering, not shaming. Ladies, all of us are acceptable as we are; there’s no need to do anything to “become” acceptable. That’s not what this post is about, so when I offer ideas about how to dress or what makeup to wear, these are not suggestions for how to make yourself “presentable.” YOU ALREADY ARE. These are just 8 things that helped this curvy girl take back her mojo. Hugs to all you babes. You are worthy of love, respect, and all good things.

1. Find and replace the word “fat” in your vocab with “curvy.” Sure, you can whine behind the scenes to your besties, but in public, in person, in your online dating profile, and in all your social media, banish the f-word. I now pronounce you curvy. This was my first radical step toward reclaiming my confidence.


2. No one but your doctor (and maybe your mama) are allowed to give you health advice. NIP. IT. IN. THE. BUD. All those well-meaning people who say, “Maybe if you tried …” or “Have you thought about …” or, worse, who try to sell you their solutions? NOPE. As if we could have never, ever come up with something as groundbreaking as counting calories or going on walks! So many lovely people never realize how shaming it is for them to do this, even *gasp* people who have lost weight themselves. There are so many factors at work here– far, far more than most friends ever know– so it is 1000% okay for you to say, “Thanks, my doctor and I have got it.” You control the conversation, and you are fully justified in keeping it between you and your doc.

curvy 2.jpg

3. Dress your shape. When I was still trying to force myself into clothes that didn’t fit, I just felt miserable. Purchasing the correct size and– even better– the right kind of clothes for your shape lets you accentuate those awesome curves! Since I am Muggle Hermione, I turned to a book. The Art of Dressing Curves was a game changer for me. It not only helped me with finding my correct measurements and figuring out the basics, it got into the nitty-gritty of what would look best on my body, down to sleeve length and neckline. I can’t recommend it highly enough.


4. Play up your favorite features. For me, I learned to experiment with makeup. YouTube was my guru here, and I found myself having a lot of fun with it! I’m certainly no expert, but I will say that when I have a day when my eyes are popping, I feel like an empress. I literally have an attention-grabbing bandaid in the center of my face here … but I bet it’s my eyes that you notice. 😉

5. Spanx is legit. From personal experience, don’t waste your money on pseudo-Spanx. Put in the money to get the real deal, and get the full-on lederhosen version for the smoothest smooth. The first date I wore my new Spanx to, I felt like a million bucks (which is way more than the cost of a pair of Spanx). Oh, and get the right size. The temptation is to get a smaller size because it will just tuck all the goods in even more– but that’s not how it works. And if you’re busty, get open bust Spanx– let the girls live and breathe and do their thang in an awesome bra.


6. But first, let me take a selfie. Yeah, I know. A lot of us curvy girls are camera-shy. But here’s the deal. With a selfie, you control it all, the angle, the lighting, the pose, not to mention what you’re wearing or how you style your hair. Take an afternoon and do a photoshoot. Take 9 million pictures if you need. Just get that one selfie that makes you feel amazing. No one has to know there were 8,999,999 takes to get it. Get the selfie that captures you as you want to be seen. Post it. Own it. Own the compliments that roll in.

7. Take your temp. This is coming from someone with temperature dysregulation, but dress for the weather and your activity. Nothing steals my confidence faster than being a sweaty mess. Listen: don’t feel guilty for taking the elevator. (See #2– oh, and you can take the stairs on your own time, not at work when you’re gonna show up for your presentation out of breath!) And if your temperature bounces all over the place, layers are your friends.

8. Attitude matters. So much. SO MUCH. There are women who are my size who are so smart, hilarious, and confident that no one notices their size. Ever. People are just marveling at their intelligence and strength and wit. People are too busy laughing to judge. People aren’t lying when they say confidence is the sexiest thing you can wear. And if you don’t feel it, fake it till you make it. I’m not joking. I wore an outfit to an event that I ultimately didn’t feel great in, but I decided to pretend like I looked like a supermodel anyway, especially since it was too late to change any factors. No joke, a guy came up to me and said, “You look really good.” It was not my outfit (which ended up not fitting quite right); it was not my makeup or hair (it was humid and raining and all the effort I’d put into both disappeared before I ever got to the event); I was hot and sweaty. But I pretended like I was a queen. And it worked.

So, curvy girls, what else would you add? What has made you feel confident in your own beautiful skin? Leave a comment!

Email to a Teen Writer: You Won’t Be a Starving Artist

I got a lovely email with thoughtful questions from a young writer today. I thought I’d share her questions and my answers for anyone interested.

Dear Ms. Sommers,

My name is [redacted]. I just finished my sophomore year in high school, and I am an aspiring author. I was given your email by [redacted] who helped me with a mock interview at my high school a few months ago.

If it would be okay, I have a few questions I would like to ask…

1) Do you think running a blog has helped you market your books?
2) Do you use your blog as a marketing strategy, a creative outlet alongside your books, or a little bit of both, and has it helped a lot?
3) I read that you went to Northwestern for creative writing. Are there any colleges that you think have better programs than others?
4) Do you think that taking classes for other writing styles would help my creative writing?
5) As a high schooler, I don’t have a lot of outlets to display my writing. What do you suggest on that front?
6) My family is supportive of my writing, but my parents are worried that I won’t make any money. When you were younger, were you faced with that and how did you overcome that? Did you get discouraged by it and if it did, how did you work through that?

Thank you so much!

Hi [redacted]! It’s so nice to hear from you! You have some amazing questions here.

hannah-olinger-549282-unsplashMy blog has definitely helped with marketing– and to connect with my audience who find my blog after reading my book. The blog is a marketing strategy, a creative outlet, a platform to share about issues I care deeply about (mental illness, faith, literature, underdogs), and a way to be real with readers. It’s a good way for me to keep writing and “publishing” material that while I’m working on a longer piece behind the scenes, if that makes any sense. Sometimes I think of my blog as writing “practice.”
I went to the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I loved the program. I think it’s important to learn creative writing from professors with their MFA (master of fine arts) versus their PhD (doctor of philosophy) because an MFA’s specialty is creative writing whereas a PhD’s is literature. Both are tremendously important, of course, but ultimately I think it helps a writer to learn writing from a writer instead of a literature expert. For undergraduate (the first four years of college), you may want to keep your creative writing program supplemented with professional or technical writing classes, which will help you get a great job after graduation. In undergrad, I suggest courses in fiction, poetry (even if you don’t consider yourself a poet– poetry improves your prose!), creative non-fiction like memoir, writer’s style, as well as more professional writing courses like editing/proofreading, technical writing, social media marketing, etc. If you have electives, think about using them for subjects that fascinate you, like history, mythology, science, theology– or maybe those are just my areas of interest. 🙂 Look for a writing program that makes professor and peer critiques a regular part of your coursework, and you’ll especially want to have some sort of writing project– maybe a senior capstone– where you tackle a larger project. Again, this should include a lot of peer and professor critique. My senior project was writing four poems and one memoir piece, and I got one-on-one feedback/criticism from my advisor every week– I also met with the other writers doing their projects every week, and we shared feedback too. At my school, this was a rigorous, MFA-level critique experience. It can be harder to find at an undergraduate school, but for me it was so incredibly valuable. It was what prepared me for later critiques from my agent and editor.
As a high schooler, I think it’s okay that you don’t have a lot of outlets to display your writing. Two thoughts here: firstly, you should find a way to show it off in SOME way, whether that is with your school newspaper, starting a literary magazine at your school, starting a blog, or even just sharing with your friends. You may also want to find others who are interested in writing and form a group that meets monthly to encourage each other and give feedback on each other’s work. Secondly, as you head into your junior year, I wouldn’t concern yourself TOO much with where to show off your writing. Smaller, more intimate experiences like the ones I listed can be so helpful, but it’s too early to pursue publication yet. Focus first on your craft. Publication will follow as your writing continues to improve, and as you experience more of life. This is NOT to belittle the high school experience– in fact, as a young adult author, that’s what I write about! I personally (and many other authors agree) that life experience is just as important in writing as actual writing skills. You will continue to learn and change and grow; you won’t be the same person today as you will be ten years from now, and that’s a good thing! You have meaningful things to say right now about life; you will have different meaningful perspectives in ten years. Fill all ten years with writing. 🙂 (Please don’t misunderstand me here– I only mean that our writing grows as we grow, and as a teenager, you have a lot of that in front of you. I’m 36, and *I* have a lot of that in front of me. Life experiences influence our writing in beautiful ways, so make sure to experience life.)
It can take a while to break into publishing. I graduated from college in 2003, won my first major writing award and was offered a book deal with a major publisher in 2013. Ten years!! So, what do we do during those years? You can tell your parents that I, along with most other creative writers, had no interest in being a starving artist. 🙂 The good news is that every business in every industry needs excellent writers– and those jobs are often very high paying! Before you have a book contract, you will need to work on your first novel on your own time; but while you are at it, you are highly employable. We think that writers must have jobs in places like publishing, marketing, book stores, etc., but writers are needed everywhere. I have had friends write for the corporate offices of major coffee shops, friends write for technical industries, friends write for journals and magazines that are about subjects they may not be passionate about (one friend wrote for an agriculture magazine, haha!). The highest paying jobs, I think, are in technical writing. I had a friend who did technical writing for Boston Scientific– the company was creating life-saving health devices, and she was writing instruction manuals for how to use them. Even as an intern back in the early 2000s, she was making $33/hour– after graduation, they hired her full-time– and this was a girl whose passion was writing fantasy stories about dragons! She would do her technical writing during the day at her high-paying job, then work on her novel in the evenings and weekends. The first novel you write has to be completely finished before you can pursue publishing anyway, so this is honestly the way that most authors write their first book. As for me, I work at a university in the admissions office. I do a lot of professional writing, marketing the college to families, and then in the evenings and weekends, I work on my creative projects. For nearly ALL of my friends in publishing, this is how they began. Please read my blog post about this ( and perhaps share it with your parents as well. Writers are highly employable and are often the smartest people in any room they are in. 🙂 Yes, it is true that it may take you 5-10 years before you will have a book contract, but you will be working during that time. When people ask, “What can you do with a writing degree?” my answer is “Anything you want.”
I hope this is helpful! Keep writing! The creative life is so meaningful and fulfilling, isn’t it?
All my best,



I always reblog the queen.

Melina Marchetta

Yes, it’s been such a long time but I promise it’s because I’ve put my head down and written a novel.  It has a release date next March and a new title, The Place on Dalhousie,but it’s still about Martha and Rosie and Jimmy.  Don’t ever ask me who I love best, because I love them all.

Here’s a bit of what goes on in their heads.

Martha wonders when kindness becomes an aphrodisiac.


She places her head on his chest and stays there and Jimmy knows he loves her. Is frightened to say it because he’s scared the words will come out lame.


The woman in the interview asked Rosie why she was interested in working with old people. Someone as young as her. Because no one in her family except for Nonna Eugenia got to grow old.

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One More Thing

I gotta get my butt in the seat. To work on this novel, I mean.

I read online that Maggie Stiefvater wrote her first published novel from 2-4 pm on Wednesdays. Butt-in-seat adds up to a finished book– it’s simple math.

There have been one thousand distractions since last fall– diagnoses and treatments, contract issues, online dating lows (and highs!)– but I think it’s time to start clocking some time in front of the manuscript.

It won’t be like it used to be– for years, I was able to write daily; for years, I wrote so many hours in a weekend. But it doesn’t have to be. Showing up from 2-4 pm on Wednesdays results in a book if you show up for enough Wednesdays. Thank you, Maggie, for reminding me of that.

This week I will show up. Next week, I’ll report how it went.

xo Jack


“Help! My parents won’t believe me!”

I got this question just today:

I’m a 12 year old girl and I have ocd but my mom doesn’t believe me I’ve emailed many people who study ocd and they have said that I have pure ocd so what do I do.

This is hard stuff. Really hard.

What do you do when you are truly struggling but you feel too young and dependent to do much about it? When the person or people you rely on for help tells you that you’re fine?

Here are a few ideas, dear one. I also invite readers to leave ideas in the comment section, so be sure to check that out as well.

  1. Continue to educate yourself. The more you know about OCD, the more power you have over it– and the more justification you have when you discuss it with your mom next time. Read about it online, check out books from your local library, etc.
  2. Consider free resources. It’s hard to get treatment when you’re 12 and under your parents’ insurance and likely have very little means to an income. Sadly, babysitting money just won’t cut it here, and that stinks! But there are free resources. For example:
    * If you have a smartphone, download the nOCD app.
    * On Facebook, search for Pax the OCD Bot.
    * Check out a book at the local library about how to do ERP therapy (exposure and response prevention) at home on your own.
  3. Think through why your mom won’t believe you. I’m not saying that there are any good reasons, but I do know that sometimes our parents, who are often our biggest fans, don’t want to believe that we have something wrong with us. It’s scary for them, and actually, sometimes it makes them feel guilty– they wonder if it’s their fault. Again, not great reasons, but if this seems to be the case, it might help you in how you approach your mom the next time.
  4. You might find a book that really resonates with you– share it with your mom. For me, I gave my mother a copy of Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer Hesser– a copy in which I had underlined all the quotes that resonated with me. At that time, it was the best I could do to explain what I was experiencing.
  5. Speak with another trusted adult. From Angie, one of my blog readers:

    I’m wondering if there are other people in your reader’s life that she might confide in and who might talk with her mom with her (or for her). In particular, I was thinking about other family members, like a trusted aunt; or perhaps a close family friend; or even a teacher or counselor from school. As an OCD therapist (and also the mom of someone with OCD) sometimes young people end up in my office for treatment because a teacher or another family member had a talk with the parent. Thinking of you, question writer! You are brave for reaching out. – Angie

I’m not an expert or a therapist, and I always encourage people to get professional help, but in this case, I can see where it’s feeling impossible to get that. Keep learning. Educating yourself about OCD empowers you, disarms OCD, gives you ideas for now, and prepares you for later. 

Hang in there, sweetheart, no matter what. And if you are feeling suicidal, call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and be sure to let your mom know how serious it is.


Oh, just an update.

I stopped taking that med. 

I called my doctor and said, “Do I need to taper off or can I quit cold-turkey?” I did not give an option for staying on it. She said there was no need to taper, so I’m done.

Tomorrow I’m seeing both my psychiatrist and my rheumatologist to check in and see if I need any other changes. Sadly, the “lab rat” aspect of finding the right medication is one I’m ultra familiar with.

I already feel like I’m back in control of my moods. AMEN. It’s such a bizarre feeling to theoretically know that something isn’t worth the tears but to NOT. BE. ABLE. to stop bawling. To feel like a total failure over the smallest things.

No. Yuck. I am not a failure. I have multiple illnesses, and I persist in finding treatment. That’s not failure. That’s success.