About me

You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Neil Gaiman

Maria Mankin lives in California with her family. She has published six resource books with Pilgrim Press and has contributed to several anthologies.  She’s also one of ten authors from around the world included in Ten to One’s novel Circ from Pigeon Park Press. She’s currently working on a second collaborative mystery as well as a book about conversations of justice in faith communities.

Contact her at booksjadore@gmail.com.

68 thoughts on “About me

  1. Good luck! Brave but brilliant decision.love what you do, do what you love. When I gave up my paid work, i found the transition from earning to not very strange. Now I love not earning, I value what I have more, I enjoy making, and making do. Far more satisfaction in non-consumerism than in the opposite!!

    1. I completely agree! It was so difficult to let go of the security of earning a regular paycheck, but I’m so much happier now that I can’t imagine going back to a job that isn’t fulfilling to my whole person. “Stuff” could never make me as happy as this decision has.

  2. As an academic, writing is part of my life and work. But fiction is different. It takes passion, creativity, and lots and lots of determination. I’ve always wanted to write a novel, and still scribble on days when I’m not writing academic stuff or penning comments on student papers. Everybody thinks they can write, but when you are a university teacher, you become aware of how few people can do it at all, never mind well.

    Your relative focus on young adult fiction of the fantasy and sci-fi variety strikes me as interesting. I feel like this is a glutted realm…But maybe all fiction publishing is these days.

    OK, so here’s the shameless self-promotion. I have a group of posts, the “On My Desk” series, that you might find sort of interesting…

    Keep on writing!

    1. I wanted to wait to respond until I had time to read your post and I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read enough of your other posts to see how our styles compare in general, but I feel our approach to reviews is similar. (I also have to admit to loving Star Trek: The Next Generation, so I was predisposed to be interested in the topic!)

      I do tend to read many books that fall under the YA fantasy and sci-fi realm, and much of that is due to personal taste. I have been making an effort to break out of that arena, but when it comes down to it, my passion for finding books that could be interesting to a younger audience is so important to me that I’m not willing to pass up the chance to review for my librarian friends. Reading has been a huge part of my entire life, and when I see children and teens treating books with such disdain, it breaks my heart. If I can find even one book that might change a young person’s mind about reading, I get excited.

      True, there is a glut in that market right now (and a lot of it is not what I would consider quality, or even enjoyable for me as a reader), but I also feel authors exist in that forum who are pushing the envelope in a way that other fiction writers haven’t been. If you haven’t read it, I posted back in December about censorship in the YA field (it was my perspective on a argument between Sherman Alexie, a brilliant YA writer, and a journalist named Meghan Cox Gurdon); you may find it interesting.


      I look forward to reading more of your blog (as well as Night of the Living Trekkies) and want to thank you for taking time to stop by and comment.

      1. I work at an academic and nonfiction press. After spending so much time reading texts I might otherwise not engage with, I’d like to say that some YA is sometimes nice. Really, any book that is plot based is what I want to read these days. And the more whimsical the better. Thanks for sharing your musings.

  3. I felt that way right before I moved abroad. Best decision of my life even if every day isn’t a rose garden. It’s great to read that you had all these same fears and went with it anyway. There were so many people in my life that encouraged me, and so many people that tried to tell me it was the dumbest decision they’ve ever heard. That I’d never last. That I wasn’t qualified to find a job abroad etc etc.
    I see people every day absolutely hating what they’re doing who are too fearful of the unknown to even try. There are some lessons we all have to learn in life I guess.
    Its great to see you’re on your way to doing that too :)

    1. My best friend has lived abroad since graduating from college (Japan, England, and now New Zealand), and I am absolutely inspired by her fearlessness. I don’t think you’re crazy to be doing what you’re doing; she has shown me how possible it is to face her own fears, as well as though of her family and friends, in order to be living a magnificent adventure! I only hope that in my own way, I am capturing that sense of exploration and truly trying to value the life I get to be living.

  4. In 2005, I quit my day job of 15 years to follow my calling. The jury is still out, on whether or not it’s actually going to workout. But, each day I am offered a blank canvass, and what I end up with at the end of that day is the product of my sole endeavors.

    1. When I was in college and just after, I used to have this obsession with believing that whatever decision I made, it would have to last forever. It turns out that life is the exact opposite of that, and now I constantly remind myself that this is just one choice – I’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future to make others, to self-correct, and to improve on what I’ve already decided to do. I wish you the best of luck in your (terrifying/exciting) new path – know that you’re not alone wondering what will become of making such a choice, but it really is worth the risk.

  5. It’s always encouraging to meet somebody who’s following their dream. Funny how difficult it is these days to do something you love. All of a sudden you realise that every step must be carefully thought out and planned ahead. Everything will look like a hurdle. But at the end of the day you know you’re living your dream. And that will invariably bring a smile to your face.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    1. Thank you so much! It does take a lot of energy to try to follow a less secure path, and some days it feels frustrating, but I know I made a good choice because I’m happier than I ever have been (even on the bad days!).

  6. I find your entries very uplifting and encouraging, which make me question the job I deal with. In my opinion coincidence plays a role in our coming to life and enduring the challenges no one has planed for. As there are millions trying fate at all different kinds of existences, one only sees those having survived and come through to speak about their success. At a particular office employees pick up those that have failed in their struggle to be unique. You are the lucky ones and please be assured of this fact. Our schools, infra-structure and other institutions are also “lucky” to have those creative and brave minds at work for future generations or for changes within the streams of steadfast systems, desperately needing mending. Were you to go back to teaching, I would love to be your pupil.

    1. Thank you so much! I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am right now. I really miss teaching some days, and I hope to have the opportunity to work with children again in the future. I also hope that even if your job doesn’t bring you as much joy as it could that you find pursuits outside the office that bring you happiness and a sense of adventure!

  7. All the very best to you on your journey! I am reading your post from Jamaica, and came across your blog since it was freshly pressed. I am fortunate enough to be doing exactly what I love now, having managed to correct a few wrong turns, but I am now trying to add published author to that list, so posts and blogs like yours are very encouraging and inspiring to read. My next goal is to get freshly pressed!

  8. Thank you so much! I’m always excited to hear about others following an unconventional path to happiness. For me, the ordinary way just didn’t seem to click – I had to take a huge leap of faith to get to where I am now. Knowing what I do now, I would do it again in a heart beat, but it was terrifying to take that first big step out into nothingness.

    I wish you the best of luck both in your writing and in your personal journey!

  9. VERY inspiring. I’m working on a similar transition, and I’m dealing with similar issues. I really enjoyed your book review. Congratulations on your success!!

    1. Thank you! I wish you luck as you work through this chapter of your life. The transition, and the time leading up to making the decision, were the hardest times for me. I felt like was leaping into an abyss with no idea how deep or dark it might get. I feel so fortunate that the scariest part was the jump itself, and that so many people have lent me a hand to make the going easier. I very much hope you have the same good fortune!

  10. In 2004, I left my job to pursue my dream of writing children’s books. Like you, I had the support of a wonderful partner who continues to believe in my writing. In 2005 our daughter was born, putting my children’s writing on hold a bit as I managed her medical needs. I wrote, a lot, creating a blog about her life and our journey with heart surgeries, tube feediing, and medical management.

    Today she’s a thriving first grader. I bounced backed into another former life, academics, only to discover that the *pressure* to write is deadening to me. So? I’m back at my computer, honing those children’s manuscripts and working on getting them out. I also started a new blog to force me to write about what I love, books (like you), films and theater. It’s a big experiment!

    I love your writing style and your optimism. I look forward to reading you here and to looking for your great YA novel soon! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

    1. It sounds like you’ve been through the ringer and still managed to come out with a great attitude about life! I love that. There are so many challenges (both expected and otherwise) that set us back, but the important thing is how we handle them. I look forward to checking out your blog, and I wish strength, good health, and patience in your journey ahead.

  11. I must say I really respect your guts, it was a really brave move. I too for sure would not compromise anything for doing what I like.

    I’m 15, from Singapore. Writing isn’t exactly a ‘cool’ thing from where I come from, or for people of my age, in fact the arts scene is so dead over here, and the culture just suffocates budding writers like me. I love exposure, and this blog has been my oasis. I guess I could say I’m a budding writer, but I do mainly poetry. Getting recognition would mean so much for me, and publicity is really what I need to boost my place, and prove to people how serious I am about writing. People may tell me I’m too young, or that writing is gonna get me living in the streets when I’m older. With your help, maybe I could get a headstart, make it big! So here’s my blog:

    Cheers! it would mean so much to me

    1. It can be so difficult to be a writer in a culture that doesn’t support the arts, but if you keep struggling and writing, you will only be a better writer for the trouble. I hope you keep at it – good luck!

    1. Thank you so much! I have to admit, I am where blog awards go to die ;) I don’t mean to abandon them, I’m just terrible at making time to post (which is ungrateful AND selfish, since it means I don’t pass them on either). Please know, though, that I am so flattered, and if I have some downtime, I will get on it!!! In the meantime, keep up the awesome work. I really enjoy reading your blog, even though I don’t get to comment often!

    1. Thanks Caitlin! I’m honored! Knowing what my month looks like, the chances of me actually completing the necessary steps for accepting the award are slim, but if I get a chance, I’ll definitely try :)

    1. Ah, but I see you’ve already had one nomination at least! (It seems I follow popular blogs…). If you haven’t gotten around to that post yet, maybe this will be your inspiration.

      1. I had to scroll through all the comments on this section to get to yours, and seeing them reminded me that I’m about five awards behind…which is seriously daunting. Flattering, but also terrifying for a completist like me! Whether I ever get around to posting about this award or not, I want to say I enjoyed your answers – especially the TNG reference…I always read the posts of people who nominate me, because even if I haven’t done them, I at least get to learn awesome things about other bloggers! Not a terrible reward in itself.

    1. Thanks! I suppose I should think of the new year as a time to revisit my goals to make sure I do keep up my momentum, but somehow, the holidays are always too chaotic for reflection! Here’s to hoping 2013 is lovely even with a little disorganization thrown in!

  12. I am new to the blogging world and stumbled upon your site. I really love it. How did you get over 6,000 followers? That’s incredible!

    1. I think a few factors have contributed to a continuous influx of new readers. The first was a bit of luck; a year ago March, I was featured on Freshly Pressed, and after that post drew hundreds of visitors to the site, I’ve continued to have anywhere from five to twenty new readers a day. Of course, it also helps that I post regularly every Monday and Thursday, and I make an effort to connect with readers who take the time to comment on my posts. Every time a new person (like yourself) posts a comment, I check to see if they have a blog as well. I don’t have necessarily follow them too (because there are only so many hours in the day I can read online!), but I like to know, if possible, what drew them here. It’s also fun to see what other people choose to blog about. I love knowing I’m part of a community of people who love to write, read, and tell stories in so many different ways!

      1. Wow! That is also really great advice too. Congratulations on such a successful blog.

  13. It appears writing is in your soul. I took feel the same way and do at least a two hour stint in front of the computer every morning. I hope you might get chance to read some of my stuff and give me your valued opinion. Sincerely, Barry

  14. Your blog is fantastic! every post I have glanced at, has completely attracted and held my attention! I think it is so commendable that you have dedicated your life’s work to in part, use your passion for literature to engage students who might never have read what they were not required to at school!

    best of luck in your future endeavours with this! and keep on posting!



  15. Hi!! I’m an italian girl and I find very ispiring your words. I’ve just open a blog about reading and writing..Hope to follow your stamps..


  16. Hi! Reading your story and the comments from others here about quitting a job to take a chance on writing is really inspiring. I took redundancy just over a year ago to write a book. I still work in a freelance capacity as a journalist, but try to limit that work so that I can concentrate on being a writer. Thanks for inspiring me to keep going!

  17. Hi, I stumbled across your blog by the wordpress recommended blogs and finally found what I was searching for. I feel very comfortable reading your posts. You are such a great inspiration.
    I’m following you to learn as much as I can,
    Thank you

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