Sodaro's Stories

November 30, 2016

Grateful for: Reflection

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 2:15 pm

I thought this was an appropriate note to end this month of gratitude on…as I have spent a lot of time in reflection this month.

The classes I teach now have reflection journals and I emphasize to my students that  it is a rarity in life (though it shouldn’t be) that we take the time to pause and really reflect on what we learned, what we experienced, what we feel.

My NaNo project was a reflection on pretty much my entire life…and while I only got about 1/3 of my NaNo accomplished this year in the time frame of the competition, I am still counting it as a success. And it will get worked on, to be published this time next year.

I need to spend some time reflecting on my reflection…working through some issues that writing my NaNo has brought to the surface. Things I have packed away in boxes for far too long and now, when I am on the edge of this enormous change in my life…that I need to work through and figure out. Who am I? What am I doing? Yesterday in a meeting the question was asked to the group, “Where do you see your career in a year?” Where indeed…

SO I am grateful for reflection…and will clear off some of the dust off the boxes in my mental attic…NaNo is done for the year, but my work is far from over on this project.

Take some time, friends…to reflect, think back, think forward, explore ideas and feelings. We all have time to reflect and grow. Promise.

November 21, 2016

Grateful for: Vacation

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:47 pm

So the past nine days, I have been on a vacation from the world of teaching. I did this because, well…it’s the November of a very long year and some time away was needed. I also took time in November because, well NaNo…and while it is unlikely I will get to 50K in the next 9 days, it has been an amazing project to work on, just more emotionally exhausting than I thought. Turns out it’s hard to reflect back on two decades of life. I also worked on Stealing Second (from the Lucky Charms series), so I wasn’t lazy, just multitasking, as usual.

It’s been a good bit of time off, but now it’s time to finish this year out as strongly as I can and get 2017 off to the start that the year deserves…since it will be a rather monumental year for me.

I’m glad to have a job to come back to…but am so so so so so grateful for the time away.

November 14, 2016

Grateful for: Trying New Things

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 2:05 pm
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Yes, I know…I had to read that one again too…this is MY blog right? And I’m grateful for trying new things? Did I type that right…but yes, yes I did.

In the last few months, I have tried three new things…which is 3 times more than I have tried in most years prior.

  1. Guacamole — most of you who know me, probably know I have an issue with food and textures…and if a food is too busy texturially speaking (it’s not a word, but it should be) I avoid it…add that and it’s a color that reminds me of my least favorite part of babysitting (I am trying to say it without saying it, folks)…and really poor guac never had a chance for me to try it.
  2. Sushi — So take texture issues and add in “unknown” foods and those who know me probably understand why I have avoid this food for 41 years. Words like “raw” and “seaweed” have never been sales pitches for food for me…so, again, sushi never really had a chance with me.
  3. Typing my first draft — So…every paper, short story, poem, essay, novel, etc. I have ever written, I have handwritten my first draft. I love the feel of pen on paper, watching my thoughts appear in ink as my hand moves across the paper. It has been as natural to me as breathing. It also takes one extra step because then I have to type what I have written (or get typed by others, when I can) and this can take time.

The first one I tried because a friend had spent all morning making this beautiful salsa…so colorful and fresh…and it had Jalapenos in it, so I couldn’t eat it. SO when he made guacamole and said, this will be fine because it has no Jalapenos, how could I be that rude and NOT try it. So, I did…and it was amazing!!!!! The texture and the color still bother me…but so much deliciousness.

The second one…well, there are three people in this world who can get me to agree to just about anything…one of them used her powers to get me to go to Chucky Cheese…TWICE…and one of them used his powers to get me to try a Vegas Roll (which was cooked salmon and no seaweed that I could see…and I didn’t ask questions about what was in it…I just grabbed my chopsticks and shoved it in my face.

The third one…a fellow writer challenged me to do NaNo this year…on the computer first. No writing out my whole rough draft. He made the point that I’ve completed NaNo 3 of my 4 years and that it wasn’t really a challenge for me to write a novel since I have 5 of them self-published and like 6 more that have first drafts done. I couldn’t make a counter argument, so I am trying it. I will say it is nice to have the word count done for me, but I haven’t gotten in as good of a writing zone as I do with pen and paper. Also I edit…something I don’t do while I am writing by hand…so we’ll see. I won’t let go of my notebooks…but maybe for other non-fiction projects, this will be an option. I do love options..


November 7, 2016

Grateful for: the Jeep

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 1:55 pm

I have wanted a Jeep since I knew what cars were, and like everyone who loves Jeeps, I always figured I wanted a Wrangler…do some off-roading, take the doors off and just go crazy. (I may or may not have grown up watching Dukes of Hazard).

A trip to Utah last year proved to me that I like guardrails and concrete…and civilization (you can take the girl out of the Chicago area, but you can’t take the city out of the girl).

Also, given the fact that I am allergic to most of the outdoors, I should probably at least pretend to pay attention to that…not that I ever drive with my Jeep’s windows up (unless it is raining or snowing and then I do so in protest).

So I am not the Wrangler type…but the Patriot is boxy like the Wrangler and has the feel of a Jeep…and she’s perfect for me. She fits my author life perfectly.

Grateful for: Future Plans

Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 1:16 am

Every time I publish a new book, I can hear the other projects whisper, “when is it my turn?” and I cannot wait until each and every one of them exists in a finished, published book format. Whether it is self-publishing or traditiional, all of my books will get their day in the sunshine. I have my project quilt up in my office as a constant reminder to stay focused and get things done so that each of my projects gets its turn. I also have projects who haven’t quite made it to the quilt yet, but will get added as things get finished. (I have conquered many of my OCD tendencies, but with the project being 45 and a perfect 9X5 rectangle, I am pretty content with it as it currently exists. 

November 5, 2016

Grateful for: My pretty books


Whenever I lose sight of what I am working toward (like, for example, when I get a form letter that lets me know the novel was not even looked at by the agent I queried), I look at my pretty books and know that one way or another, I am going to make a living as an author, I am going to claw my way on to the New York Times Best seller list, and I am going to make it.

I have self-published 5 books and am working on #6. My goal is to double my number by next year and have 10 books out at the close of 2017. They are drafts that have been written and have been waiting to be edited and polished.  (Well, all but that last one, that is being written for my NaNoWriMo this month).

I will get there. I am trying traditional publishing as an option. Yes, I am aware of its pros and cons. Yes, like everything else that is important to me, I have done the research. I know other people’s opinions of it, other people’s experience with it…and while I do appreciate people’s helpful advice, this is part of the path I am choosing. I’m also going to continue to self-publish my novels. I always like to have options. But you can count on the fact, that if I have to self-publish every novel and project I have out there, I will. One way or another, friends, I will accomplish my goals.

November 4, 2016


Filed under: Uncategorized — michelle sodaro @ 5:11 pm
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In a week where the Chicago Bears beat the Vikings and the CHICAGO CUBS WON THE WORLD SERIES!!!!! HOLY COW!!! I felt it only fitting to write about my gratitude about loyalty, which ties in well with yesterday’s post.

Some people don’t understand true loyalty — true, stand the test of time, believe in you forever, tried and true– good times or bad — hard times and easy times– Loyalty. 

I once scored points at a teaching interview. 

Principal 1: How do you define loyalty?

Me: I have been a Cubs and Bears fan my whole life. 

Principal 2: That is a fantastic answer. 

I am extremely grateful to people who are as loyal to me as I am to them (which is also as loyal as I am to my Chicago teams).

November 3, 2016

Grateful for: Friends and Family

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:59 pm
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“Thank you for being my friend.” Golden Girls theme song

Where would any of us be without our friends and family (whether that family is blood or the family we choose). Those people who stand by us at our darkest moments — lift us up when we are down at our lowest — and fly with us when we are at our highest. Those people who are our anchors and our wings simultaneously. (*hey, spelled that word right for maybe the 5th time in my whole life*)

I have some truly amazing people in my life. I would not be where I am without them. I am standing on the edge of making some pretty major life changes and I know, without a doubt, the wings that will help me fly as I take my leap of faith, are these people.

Thank you for being a part of my life. I promise there is a beach chair with your name on it…when I get my island.

November 2, 2016

Grateful for: NaNo

Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 12:42 pm
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About five years ago, I stumbled across the website for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I was intrigued. A novel in a month? 50,000 words is not a “novel” according to Writer’s Digest magazine, but it is a solid first draft. And written in a month? 30 days? 50K in 30D? Interesting.

The first year my attempt was a mess. I went in with no game plan and figured I could easily get the 1667 words a day. I mean I write ALL the time…it’s kind of my deal. I started of getting 2000 words a day and I was thinking I got this. Then I slowed down. Then I slowed down some more until coming to a complete stop at chapter 12. I didn’t have this. What I did have was Writer’s Block and it was as disgusting as every author has ever described it to be.

I’ve never been an “outliner” for my novels thinking they would imprison my creative spirit with their rigid rules and that was something that had happened far too often already (fer people and fewer jobs can handle me at 100% ME). I am grateful to NaNo because it helped me to appreciate the beauty (and surprising flexibility) of an outline. My outlines are written literally in pencil and are not English teacher approved (sorry “Ms. Sodaro”) but they keep me focused on what comes next and what has to happen “here” for “this” to happen “there.”

I am also grateful to NaNo for it’s ability to help me focus. On my best days, I tend to have a rather sporadic attention span span (picture having 45-60 of your favorite television programs and you keep flipping channels to see what interesting things are going on in each one). That is my brain on a pretty daily basis. NaNo helps me have a primary project to focus on…helping me get a project’s first draft done instead of it joining the pile of about 10 projects I have where the first draft is half done.

So yes…I am grateful for the NaNo challenge as it has made my novel writing process more effective and organized, which I now use on non-NaNo projects as well.

November 1, 2016


Filed under: Writer's thoughts — michelle sodaro @ 11:54 am

I start my day and end my day, expressing my gratitude. People and things for whom I blessed to have in my life and without whom, my life would be infinitely more sucky.

When life has knocked me down the hardest, I find that this habit of gratitude keeps me getting back up to fight another day. The alternative is to what? Cry in my Frosted Flakes? At least I still have Frosted Flakes.

I am grateful for the lessons learned by some people and some events. Learning who actually has your back and who doesn’t is perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned. Who wants you truly and absolutely succeed and who is just waiting for you to fail. Some events have been life changing and while the lesson may have been painful, chances are it’s because I didn’t listen the first time the Universe tried to warn me, so it had to speak up so I would listen.

I am grateful for the tests of my patience. I am grateful for the tests of my patience…yeah, I am working on this one. I know I need more patience with myself especially. Changing my life is a day to day process…it is the ultimate marathon and not a sprint and the end result (my author life, my physical health, my financial health, etc) is so very much worth the wait…And for that I am truly grateful.

This month I am going to, as I have the past couple of years, express my gratitude through my blog. What are you grateful for, friends?


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