I’m back! It’s been a whirlwind 7 months, full of many good changes. Now that I’m settled in again in the States, I’m jumping back in to a new kind of writing life, and I couldn’t be more excited.

So many things to tell, I hardly know where to begin!

First off, the trip was AMAZING. Andrew and I dipped our feet in the Ganges, improvised a bowling alley with plastic water bottles and a soccer ball, stuffed ourselves in Italy, and saw my family in the Netherlands. Easter in Spain brought the kind of theatricality, art, and mystery that only the Spanish can truly pull off. We semi-hitchhiked over the Albanian/Montenegrin border, planted over 3,000 onions, and watched fireworks burst over the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day.

Through all of this, you can imagine, I was writing. Our trip blog, www.jatrip.wordpress.com, was a great way for family and friends to keep up with us, but I was also working on the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. It turns out trains are a wonderful writing environment for me: no Internet, a sense of physical motion to coax out the creative spirit, and gorgeous scenery to create a sense of simultaneous stimulation and peace, which I find helps my productivity tremendously. Over the course of the trip, I added nearly 10,000 words to the original 50,000 and revised over 90 pages of the novel, putting me around the halfway mark.

For anyone out there interested, I’m using The 90-Day Rewrite by Alan Watt to guide my novel revision. Such a great book. Watt (or “Al,” as he calls himself in the book) structures each day’s assignment in the form of a letter that talks about an element of craft or a thematic/dramatic principle of novels. At the end of each letter is an angle from which to approach that day’s revision (he suggests 2-3 pages of work per day). I’ve found the tone to be encouraging and wise. I mean, obviously the ultimate test is whether my novel springs to the NYT Bestseller list immediately ;-), but in terms of the day-to-day experience of novel revision, this is a great resource.

It took us a little while to get our feet back under us in the US and find our new momentum, although I think we didn’t waste any time. In the first two weeks after we landed, we toured, leased, and moved into our new apartment in North Bethesda, Maryland. Our move gives us much easier access to a major city than we had before. One of the things I learned about myself on the trip is how much I love the atmosphere of a big city. The visible markers of history and culture energize me and make me feel connected to generations of people who have done amazing things. I’m loving being close enough to DC to pop down and explore on a whim.

I’m also starting a new career! I’ve done the occasional freelance assignment before, but full-time work and grad school made it difficult to get any traction. Now, I am proud to announce that I am writing full-time! I’m doing a mix of magazine and business writing. There’s so many exciting projects to get involved in. I can hardly believe how lucky I am to be able to dedicate so much of my time to writing.

If you need a writer, know someone who needs writing help, or just want to check out my professional site, head over to www.dcfreelancewriter.com.

I will be keeping this site as well, mostly because I really enjoy writing here. This writer’s site is a place for me to be a bit more vulnerable and work more openly through the various ups and downs of making writing a thriving part of my life. I’ve also decided to continue to publish fiction and other purely creative work under my maiden name, while using my married name for professional writing. I need to get into a different headspace for the different kinds of work, so why not use distinct names for these different roles?

Ideally, I’ll post here once a week with updates on the fiction writing life, where to find my work, and thoughts on the books I’m reading (I finally wrote out my full reading list and it is out of control–I have so many wonderful stories ahead of me!). More likely, expect to see me about twice a month, more if time permits.

Oh, and if any of you are reading this who were here before the hiatus, thank you so much for coming back! The readers I’ve had here mean a lot to me, even if I haven’t done a great job in the past of showing it. I’m delighted that you’re back, and I look forward to meeting more cool people through this site.