The Next *Big* Thing

This is actually a repost of a blog post on my chicken blog but I thought that as writers, you might also like to see what is in store for 2013.


It comes down to butt in chair

It comes down to butt in chair

Although many of you know that I write this blog, you may not know that in real life (you know the thing where you have to work for a living?) I am a full time writer and journalist. I write newspaper and magazine articles and marketing material. It’s what I do. It’s what makes me happy.  (If you want to read some of my writers’ advice blog posts go over to Live to Write – Write to Live.)

In my travels I’ve bumped elbows with some very talented authors. One particular author, Hilary Weisman Graham  who knew I was working on a book-length project recently sent me an invitation to be part of a writers’ tour – I accepted and that’s what this post is about.


This post is part of a blog tour where writers share what the “Next Big Thing” is. The writer who tagged me is Hilary Weisman Graham over at Hilary has written Reunited which is a terrific Young Adult book about teen girls and the value of true friendship.  Hilary is also a screen writer and was on the Mark Burnett/Steven Spielberg-produced reality show ON THE LOT: THE SEARCH FOR AMERICA’S NEXT GREAT DIRECTOR (which aired on FOX primetime, the summer of 2007) – which is pretty cool.

Thanks Hilary for tagging me on this tour.

Other writer friends of mine who are working on projects include:

Gina Rosati – the fabulous writer of the YA book – Auracle and who is working on a new story that revolves around historical fiction.

Lauren Scheuer – the fabulous chicken writer and responsible for – Once Upon a Flock – Life with my soulful chickens. It’s the story of living with her gentle flock of chickens.

Jamie Wallace – the fabulous to-be writer who is working on a project and if we all nudge her just a little might make some significant progress on it this year.

Lisa Jackson – no, not *the * Lisa Jackson, this is another Lisa J who lives in New Hampshire and who also needs a kick in the butt to get her started because she is fabulous.

Chris Bohjalian, Meg Cabot, Jodi Picoult, and Judy Blume – yeah these are the big guys and all of them have been kind enough to be interviewed for this blog (and have chickens named after them.) They are always working on new projects. Go over to their websites and check out what they have in store for us.

Ten Interview Questions for my Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?

The Hope of Feathers (after much going back and forth)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The idea came as a direct offshoot of this blog. While I have enjoyed our chickens tremendously, I had no idea that they would be so instrumental in teaching me the valuable life lessons I needed to learn in order to care for my flock of 6 children.

Having chicks in the coop is a full time job. Every mama hen has to spend much of her time teaching the life skills needed so that each baby can eventually leave the nest and live on his own.

Basically, us mamas are laying the groundwork for our most prized possessions to leave us.  It’s bittersweet on a good day, and nothing short of heartbreaking on a bad one, especially when chronic illness in one of the chicks enters the picture.

But we understand on a very deep and visceral level that not only is this the way it’s supposed to be, but that no one benefits (you or the chick) if there is no growth. And without independence, there is no growth.

Still you worry.

So, you continue to teach throughout the years, being careful to demonstrate family values, to explain what being a flock member means, and what it means to truly look out for each other. You pray it sinks in. You pray that your chicks will have the knowledge and compassion one day to lift not only their wings but the wings of others’ as well.

And you pray that you will have the strength to watch as they fly away.

What genre does your book fall under?

Memoir and Chick lit :-)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ha! A movie? Wow, haven’t really thought that far. I’m not sure who would play the members of our family (perhaps Rambo for Trevor?) I only know that if it’s going to be made into a movie then Daniel Craig gets to play the part of my husband. (I can dream can’t I?)


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m hoping to get it published by an agency. I have the attention of a literary agent, now I just need to finish the damn thing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

This book has been in progress since 2005. It’s really only in the last year that I’ve begun work on pulling this specific aspect of the story together.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I think the best way to describe my books is to say that it is a “Marley and Me, but with feathers.”

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I’m a writer. I teach by writing. What I have learned with having chronic illness in the house and yet wanting that member of my family to be independent enough to leave the nest someday, is a story that all parents (especially mama hens) can relate to and which needed to be told.

It is the strength of my children and the way they support each other (just like flock members do) that inspired me to capture this story (and let’s face it, some help came from a little chick with orthopedic problems that ended up living in our house for 6 months who showed me I am doing no one a service by thinking I am protecting them from life by keeping them in the nest.)

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There will be Lyme disease, disability, medical emergencies, flock stories, and of course Charlie, our house-chicken, will also play a big role in it.

My plan is to have the draft of this book finished within the next 3 months. There, I said it, now it has to be done.

An elf on a shelf in the henhouse

This post originally appeared on my Lessons Learned from the Flock blog . I’m including it here on this blog for a few reasons. First of all it’s a holiday post and if you’re a mom you’ll recognize the spirit in which it was written. But another reason it’s here is that one question I am constantly asked is how do I come up with enough ideas to be able to write up to 8 blog posts a week? 

My answer is that is in order to do this you have to pay attention to what’s going on and then you have to use that material in a creative way. There is a children’s storytelling game that consists of several dice on the sides of which different items and topics are written. The object of the game is to roll the dice and then come up with a story that includes all of the elements you’ve rolled. (I’ve also done this with my kids using a set of “item bingo cards.”) It’s a way to force creativity.  

I write about chickens, kids, and the lessons learned, lately there have been a series of “naughty elf posts” from parents who are a little fed up with the whole “orchestrated Christmas thing.” The roll of my imaginary dice came up with “chickens” and “that damn Christmas elf” – from there it was simply a matter of letting things go where they wanted to go. 

So go ahead, those of you who can never come up with ideas. Create some imaginary dice with topics on each side (some you know about and some you don’t) and then roll those dice and see what comes up. It’s all about combining ideas in a new and creative way and then putting your special spin on them. 

Ho, ho, ho.



For those of you who don’t have children or for those of you who are sane (basically the same thing) there is a relatively new Christmas phenomenon that’s hit the streets of which you are probably unfamiliar. It’s called the Elf on a Shelf and in a nutshell, an elf (one of those creepy ones from the 1950′s with the plastic face) sits on a shelf in your house and while your children sleep, he returns to the North Pole and reports back whether the kids have been good or bad. Apparently this goes on for the entire month of December.

Now as if spying on your kids and tattle-telling isn’t enough, apparently this elf moves from room to room each night causing mischief. Some of the mommy blogs are listing creative ways to have the elf make mischief, all in the name of good Christmas fun – switch all the clothes from one closet to another, make cookies IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT and leave the dirty dishes for mom in the morning…

Oh that naughty elf.

I’m going on the record as protesting. As if us parents don’t have enough to do during the holiday season, now we’re supposed to perpetuate the story of a little being who reports back if your kids lost their temper but then feels free to wreck havoc in MY house?

Get Santa on the phone, something’s not right.

Some parents are rebelling, I’ve seen the elf in an orgy with naked Barbie dolls, I’ve seen the elf with a toe tag in the refrigerator, and I’ve seen the elf with a hangover on the toilet (extra credit if the vomit looks like a peppermint swirl.) And while that is SOOO my sense of humor, I’m going to take the high road on this one.

A few summers ago, I actually picked up two of these disturbing elves (you know you have the real ones when their eyes look sideways) at a yardsale. I wanted my kids to see what passed as acceptable holiday decorations when I was a kid.

“Mom, they’re creepy. I’m not touching those things” said Addy.

Yeah, I know, but since then, as a tribute to the 1950′s (and let’s face it, because I get such a rise out of the kids), we’ve had them in the branches of our Christmas tree peering out at us when we gather round. Each year we dig them out of the box and place them as far into the tree branches as we can so that perhaps, if we squint our eyes, we won’t be able to see them. But we always know they’re there – the monster under the bed in the tree.

Yesterday we took one of the elves down and brought him into the henhouse (Why let the kids have all the fun, why not tell Santa if Zelda is picking on some of the youngsters, or if Morganne has taken the fatest sunflower seeds first, again?)

Here is the elf sitting in the feed. Apparently the chickens feel the same way about the elf as does Addy. No one wanted to go near it.

Here the elf is riding a chicken, what fun he will be able to report to Santa tonight. I’m not sure chickens have the ability to be pissed off but if ever there was a case of “if looks could kill” I’m thinking this one would certainly qualify.

And lastly, here is our beloved, creepy elf, just minutes away from learning what the term “pecking order” really means.

Rest well, and give Santa our love, little buddy.


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).


No elves were harmed in the making of this post, our elf has been returned to our tree and has been squished back into the branches along with his Christmas twin where he belongs. What? You think I’m going to take any chances with Santa this close to Christmas?