Bios

 

Hi! I’m Thea Gioe.

Working for the CIA was a blast! The hubby and I traveled the world, treated our dogs as kids, and generally had so much fun that our late 30s kinda snuck up on us. When the hubs decided he needed a Ph.D., I switched from CIA to military intelligence, and we got pregnant. After our son was born I opted to GBtW (with more than a little relief and more than a little regret) since I was the sole wage-earner at that point. But then the hubby’s Ph.D. was bestowed and, eager to restart his career as an academic, he grabbed the opportunity to teach at one of America’s noblest undergraduate institutions: The U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

So I looked at my spouse when he asked if we could make the move, looked at our almost 1 year old, thought about my career aspirations for about 10 minutes and said unequivocally –YES! I get a year “off” for every year that you spent getting your Ph.D. That means I get three years to figure out what I want to do when I grow up! Where are the bags – let’s pack!

We arrived in our bucolic new existence in September 2014. By November, I was desperate for some sort of measure of worth for my new existence. As it turns out, planning healthy meals, keeping our house sparkling (ha, ha, ha), doing the laundry, and hanging out with a pre-verbal but very active wee human wasn’t exactly what I had thought it would be.

But wait! This was what I WANTED!

Luckily for me, November arrived. So I took the opportunity to participate in NaNoWriMo – something I’d wanted to do for years, but hadn’t been able to find the time for when I was working full time. And you know what? I wrote my first novel – something I’d wanted to do since I was in 7th grade, scribbling stories in various notebooks when I was supposed to be paying attention in class. And then the next November, I wrote my second novel. And I met Julie at a writer’s conference (talk about good luck!) and a new friendship was born. And from that friendship, ultimately, this blog.

Along the way I’ve also started doing freelance consulting work, which I really enjoy. But it means one more ball in the air: finding clients, meeting deadlines, finding time to write, trying to land an agent, and raising an increasingly awesome wee human (which still requires feeding and cleaning).

There are no regular hours – or end – to the work. I’m totally off the career path I started on. And most days that feels awesome. Every once in a while, it feels like an episode of the Twilight Zone. I’m looking forward to sharing both experiences with you!

 

And I’m Julie.

My career path has had lots of twists and a happy u-turn. My degree is in Education and I taught little humans for a few years, but quickly burned out.

I started taking a tap dance class for adults (because who doesn’t want to learn how to dance in noisy shoes?) It was there I met the Creative Recruiter for a social expressions company. Greeting card writer had been on my list of things-I-wanna-be-when-I-grow-up, but I guess I never thought about how to get that job. Until tap dance class. Within a few months I was an editor, happily doing what I always loved best – working with words.

My first son arrived through adoption. Just FYI, adoptions of newborns are a bit pricey. And my husband had just launched a new business with his brother. I didn’t want to leave my precious new bundle of boy, but there were bills to pay and formula to buy (OMG! I didn’t breastfeed! The horror! Another of my favorite parenting “Let’s split into camps and hurl dirty diapers at each other” arguments.).

So, hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work I went.

And I kept going. We had a surprise pregnancy and a healthy second son. It was just before the arrival of our third son that I made the financial leap of faith and became a SAHMWSIWOTS. (Stay At Home Mom With Some Inconsistent Work On The Side). I had worked myself into a dream job, but due to a number of factors, it wasn’t a dream. I hoped SAHMWSIWOTS would be a better option for all of us. And, ultimately, it has been. BUT, as Thea has pointed out, it’s not exactly what I thought it would be. I didn’t expect the loneliness, the angry stares of neglected laundry piles, or to miss my career and colleagues so much. (I’m an introvert. I love people. Just not all the time. And sometimes just from afar.)

So, late at night, when everyone else was sleeping (or “recharging” in the case of my busy offspring), I started writing again. Not greeting cards, but stories. One of which has morphed into a manuscript I’m currently prepping for querying. Which is exciting and terrifying!

Thea and I met at a writing conference where I was trying to learn more about the industry. It was divine intervention! We had lunch and decided we’d probably make great critique partners. Thea has made my manuscript so much better! Plus, the lady knows her way around NYC!

This year I put my youngest son on the bus to kindergarten, which should give me tons of time to put away laundry, right? Eh, not so much. I’ve come to the realization that I’m not a domestic goddess. You’re always welcome, but you’ll have to clear off a pile of laundry from the couch if you want to sit down.

Juggling extracurriculars, dinner and finishing my manuscript with the boys at school is still pretty new, since it’s just September right now. I suspect it isn’t going to be what I expected, and that’s okay. One of the best part of getting older is gaining perspective. I know I’m not the only one trying to balance motherhood and the search for what my next career looks like.

 

Welcome Guest Bloggers!

Susan Silverman

After growing up in Upstate New York, I completed my BA in International Affairs (concentrating on United States foreign policy and the Middle East) and Masters Degree in United States foreign policy at The American University (AU). In addition, I completed course work at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

For almost a decade, I worked in the non-profit world where I received recognition/awards from three foreign governments for my work as a young professional in international affairs. After being laid off and without work for one year, I reinvented myself as a Department of Defense contractor, where work ranged from consulting on controversial health and environment issues, psychological health challenges facing the military, cross cultural communications, strategic planning and global health. The last being where I found my real passion within the DoD.

Only a few months ago I completed the most challenging career that no degrees or experience could ever prepare me: stay-at-home-parent.

Now I’m back to working on global health issues for the Department of Defense.

Kimberly Zook

 

Kimberly Zook is a military wife, mother of three daughters, a scientist, and a writer. After living in four different countries and about ten states, she’s looking forward to establishing roots. Life as a military wife is always an adventure, but retirement sounds wonderful. She earned an MS in Biology and an MA in Secondary Education before returning to her childhood dream of being a full-time writer. She is the author of two award-winning short stories and writes young adult novels that delve into science and history. When she isn’t writing, Kimberly helps coach her daughters’ sports teams and volunteers at their school. Her website is http://kimzook.com/
 
Carolyn Koesters

Carolyn Koesters’ interest in journaling began as a young girl when her second grade teacher handed Carolyn her very first notebook, and Carolyn nurtured that early introduction into more than thirty years of journaling experience and a growing collection of over 100 journals. Through her passion for personal writing, she discovered a realm of therapeutic benefits through expressive writing that have been studied and proven to reduce stress and promote feelings of well-being. 

Carolyn earned her credentials as a Certified Applied Poetry Facilitator in 2006 and has been sharing her passion for and extensive knowledge of personal writing with both beginning writers and life-long journalers alike. Carolyn’s poetry and creative writing techniques have been offered in such varied arenas as transitional centers for women, creative writing and yoga retreats, elementary schools, colleges, and even corporations, where she not only encourages journal writing, or “Wordcatching,” as a stress management tool, but also as a guide to slow down and celebrate the joys of everyday life. In Abingdon, she has recently taught art journaling, journal making, and vision board collage, as well as a 13-week Artist’s Way course. Find her new website at www.wordcatching.com.

Deena Nyer Mendlowitz

Photo credit: Jean-Marie Papoi 

Deena has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a Masters in Living with Mental Illness. She is a freelance writer, a preschool teacher, and has also worked as an on-staff humor writer for American Greetings. Deena is a comedian and improviser who trained at The Second City Cleveland and at both The Second City and Annoyance Theater in Chicago. She wrote a one-woman show, a comedy about living with mental illness and suicidal thoughts, called Funnel Cakes not Included. Deena is the creator of This Improvised Life, a part improvised, part written story-telling hour and Mental Illness and Friends!, A Live Comedy Talk Show. She is also the co-creator of a kind, funny, awesome, 11 year old boy who loves Star Wars, collects hats, and constantly crushes her in foosball.

Greg Vovos

Photo credit: Steve Wagner Photography

GREG VOVOS is a playwright, screenwriter, and theatre director, who has worked in Cleveland theatre since returning to his hometown in 1998 after earning his MFA in Playwriting from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He’s a two-time winner of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award in Playwriting (Complete and Total; How to be a Respectable Junkie); a 2016 Cleveland Public Theatre Nord Playwriting Fellow (Well Beings); Dobama Theatre Playwrights Gym member; and proud Dramatists Guild member. Greg was resident playwright for the Willoughby Fine Arts Association’s Theatre for Healthy Living Program for whom he’s written 15 plays about issues facing youth today. His work has been seen around the world, translated into several languages, and published by Dramatic Publishing, OriginalWorks, and PPT Press. He’s taught playwriting at several theatres and universities, including UNLV, Baldwin Wallace University, and Case Western Reserve University. He is also a Senior Writer at American Greetings. Greg’s married to his best friend and together they have two amazing kids.

 

Christina Wise 

Christina Wise is a producer who graduated from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Television with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Public Relations. Upon graduating, Christina began her career in live sports, traveling to either Las Vegas or Tijuana to produce a boxing show for ESPN Deportes.

She then took that experience to producing live Red Carpet shows with Joan and Melissa Rivers for TV Guide Network. She was at the Network for eight years working in various positions. Aside from covering award season each year, she worked as a producer on the news program ‘Hollywood 411’ where not only did she write and produce packages, it was her responsibility to finish and deliver the show each week. She became a Show Producer and worked on series such as ‘Big Movie Premiere’, ‘Count it Down’, ‘On Set’ and did many one-time specials, including biographies of celebrities. During this time, Christina also produced a travel show for PBS SoCal titled ESCAPESEEKER, giving her the opportunity to travel and film at the greatest luxury properties in the world. After she left TV Guide, she produced awards programing for POPSUGAR.com and was the executive producer for their 2015 Oscar show. That same year Christina became a member of the Producers Guild of America.

Christina also has experience working on commercials and served as a line producer for an Este Lauder campaign featuring Kendall Jenner.

In 2012, Christina produced the wine documentary ‘Somm’, a film that followed four men attempting to pass the Master Sommelier exam, a test with only a 5% pass rate. After spending time at the top of the iTunes chart and becoming a hit on Netflix, Esquire Network developed ‘Somm’ into a reality series titled ‘Uncorked.’ In 2016, the follow up film ‘Somm: Into the Bottle’ was released worldwide by Samuel Goldwyn Films and ‘Somm 3’ released in November of 2018.

Christina also writes and her first YA Fantasy, EYE OF THE GODS, will come out in 2019.  

 

Diana Calvo


Diana Calvo is a certified coach and spiritual healer who works with professionals across all industries. She helps them get “unstuck” in their careers and transform their day-to-day experience of work and life. After 20 years successfully climbing the corporate ladder, Diana experienced her own journey of healing and awakening. She discovered her true calling to guide others on their journey out of suffering and into a life of purpose and joy. Diana left the corporate world to start her own coaching business. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her dog Joey and a beautiful view of the mountains. She works with clients across the globe. To find out more, email diana@dianacalvocoaching.com or visit www.dianacalvocoaching.com.

Kat Portrait Studio for Sarah Pripas Kapit

Sarah Kapit writes fiction for children. Her debut novel GET A GRIP, VIVY COHEN! will be released by Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House) in February of 2020.

In her previous life, Sarah earned a PhD in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is active in the neurodiversity movement, serving as chairperson of the Association for Autistic Community.

Sarah lives in Bellevue, WA with her partner and their goofy orange cat, Allie. You can find her at https://www.sarahkapit.com/

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