Overcoming My Fears: Writing, Blogging, and Peeing With An Audience

Cirque du Today12 Comments

www.bigtopfamily.com / I'm in a book! I Still Just Want To Pee Alone

When I first had the idea for this blog, it was September of 2013. I started researching family humor bloggers, and the very first blog I found was a hugely popular one (with hundreds of thousands of fans) called People I Want To Punch In The Throat, by Jen Mann. On Jen’s home page, there was a Q&A category where she told about herself, how she became so popular, and tips for starting a blog. I would like to say that the information given there comforted me; but it actually scared the shit out of me. It was hard to grasp how I could go from not having a blog or a single idea of what I was going to write, to the day I was up and running with my own readers and fans.

All my life, I’ve loved to write. I always felt pleased with myself anytime I managed to write a story, but I also always felt, every time, like I’d just given birth. And in case you didn’t know, giving birth is friggin’ exhausting. So even though I loved writing, I was afraid of it. Afraid of the work, afraid of the emotional investment, afraid of failing, afraid of not finishing, afraid of just plain sucking, afraid, afraid, afraid. Fear of writing was so closely intertwined with my passion for it, that just like conjoined twins, there was no separating the two without a medical professional. And since I barely graduated college after 7 years, there was no way I was getting accepted into any self-respecting med school. Soo I just decided it was easier to spend the rest of my life talking about wanting to write, reading other people’s writing, but never actually daring to do any of it myself.

That brings us back to September of 2013. I’d been writing long, kooky, Mom status updates on my personal Facebook page. A bunch of people said I should start a blog, but I was in the trenches of parenting. I had a set of twins (as you know) when my oldest son turned three, and the most I could handle for YEARS was just making myself laugh by metamorphosing a shitty day into a hilarious status update. I didn’t know it then, but I was WRITING. I was writing, and it felt so good to get that daily feedback from people telling me what I wrote made them FEEL something. That is a glorious gift for a writer, and I cherished those Facebook comments like the family jewels. Well, er, you know what I mean – like, precious mementos.

I don’t know if I had just eaten a particularly magical bag of Doritos one day in September 2013, or what, but the idea for Big Top Family just appeared out of nowhere. I had always loved the comic strip “Family Circus,” since I constantly felt that way about my childhood, and now all of a sudden I was the ringleader of my own daily circus. I decided I would write part of it about childhood – Old School Circus – and part of it about now – Cirque du Today.

You guys know the rest, but what you may not know is that I went to a blogging conference in June 2014 that changed my life: BlogU. I actually MET Jen Mann from People I Want To Punch In The Throat. Hellooo, I totally fan-girl-nerded out on her and couldn’t work up the nerve to talk to her till I’d had 5 glasses of wine, and at that point, you can guess how intelligent I sounded. I met her and made SO many kick-ass blogging friends and gained entrance into blogging circles I never would have even known about had it not been for BlogU. I learned so much too. I learned all about social media (which at first scared the ever-living shit out of me). I learned about graphics (I still totally suck at them but if I have 12 hours handy, I can make a graphic easy-peasey). I met reps from The Huffington Post and NickMom and learned what kind of pieces they were looking to publish. I learned how to make money with my writing. I learned about stuff that would probably bore you, so I won’t go into it all, but you’ll be proud to know I rocked the Casbah out of the 80s retro prom hosted by NickMom on the last night!

Big Top Family and Foxy Wine Pocket / www.bigtopfamily.com

Me and one of my blogger besties, Foxy Wine Pocket!

Today, 1.5 years after having the Big Top Family idea, I have found so much joy and validation from this little blog and from ALL OF YOU who read it, and comment on it, and make me feel pretty damn special every single day. I wanted to announce today, drum roll, that I am in a PUBLISHED BOOK by Jen Mann! It is a real book that you can hold in your hands and grope all over the glossy cover and even goose the back cover, where you’ll see Big Top Family in living color! The book’s called I Still Just Want To Pee Alone. Here’s a picture!

I Still Just Want To Pee Alone /

I STILL Just Want To Pee Alone is a collection of hilarious and heartwarming essays by 40 of the most kick ass moms on the Web (and I’m one of them, gahhhhh)! This is the third installment in the national best-selling series of anthologies published by Jen’s company, Throat Punch Media. The previous two have sold over 40,000 copies to date. I Just Want to Pee Alone, the first book in the series, hit the New York Times bestseller list last month!

My story is called “The Day I Got Taken To Church,” and true to my writing style, it’s got a healthy dose of salty AND sweet. Here’s an excerpt:

I decided, though, that raising a little boy who cared about God and religion could actually be a good thing. It might simply mean that he would stand on a high moral ground and try to do and say good, nice things all the time. Sam would never have to know that, in actuality, after she clocked out of her day job, his mom had a mouth that would make Andrew Dice Clay sound like Joel Olsteen.

Guys, I’ve hit the big time, and I owe it all to you. If you want to buy a copy of the book, say yes say yes, you can click HERE to go to all the buying options on my new “Buy My Books” page on the blog! Woot! Or, if you’re lazy like me, just look over on the sidebar!

If you’d like a personalized, signed copy from me to you, you can click the BUY NOW link on the sidebar of this page and pay $12.99 + $4.00 shipping, and click the ADD SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS option at the bottom of the PayPal order, and let me know what name you want the book dedicated to. I will ship it out to you tomorrow! If you are outside of the U.S., please email me at ashley@bigtopfamily.com – I will have to adjust the shipping charges accordingly!

The second option is through Amazon, it’s a smidge cheaper but then again, with this option, you’re not getting an award-winning author’s signature. (Ohhhkay, maybe not award-winning. Somebody’s getting too big for her britches. But not THAT big – I’m only charging $2 for my signature)!

The book is also available on Nook and iTunes!

Even if you can’t or don’t want to buy the book, I’m grateful for your support and could NOT have come this far without you!

*Links below to all the other fabulous bloggers who are contributing to this anthology. Go check ’em out – they really do kick ass!

Bethany Kriger Thies of Bad Parenting Moments

Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying

Alyson Herzig of The Shitastrophy

JD Bailey of Honest Mom

Kathryn Leehane of Foxy Wine Pocket

Suzanne Fleet of Toulouse and Tonic

Nicole Leigh Shaw of Nicole Leigh Shaw, Tyop Aretist

Meredith Spidel of The Mom of the Year

Rebecca Gallagher of Frugalista Blog

Rita Templeton of Fighting off Frumpy

Darcy Perdu of So Then Stories

Christine Burke of Keeper of The Fruit Loops

Amy Flory of Funny Is Family

Robyn Welling of Hollow Tree Ventures

Sarah del Rio of est. 1975

Amanda Mushro of Questionable Choices in Parenting

Jennifer Hicks of Real Life Parenting

Courtney Fitzgerald of Our Small Moments

Lola Lolita of Sammiches and Psych Meds

Victoria Fedden of Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds

Keesha Beckford of Mom’s New Stage

Stacia Ellermeier of Dried-on Milk

Meredith Bland of Pile of Babies

Harmony Hobbs of Modern Mommy Madness

Janel Mills of 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of

Kim Forde of The Fordeville Diaries

Stacey Gill of One Funny Motha

Beth Caldwell of The Cult of Perfect Motherhood

Sarah Cottrell of Housewife Plus

Michelle Back of Mommy Back Talk

Tracy Sano of Tracy on the Rocks

Linda Roy of elleroy was here

Michelle Poston Combs of Rubber Shoes In Hell

Susan Lee Maccarelli of Pecked To Death By Chickens

Vicki Lesage of Life, Love, and Sarcasm in Paris

Kris Amels of Why, Mommy?

Mackenzie Cheeseman of Is there cheese in it?

Tracy DeBlois of Orange & Silver



Overcoming My Fears: Writing, Blogging, and Peeing With An Audience

12 Comments on “Overcoming My Fears: Writing, Blogging, and Peeing With An Audience”

    1. Ashley

      Thanks, Andy!! I guess you’re right – my stage name IS Sexual Chocolate after all, and we all know how famous the real Sexual Chocolate is. 😀

  1. Liz

    Congratulations! I think you’re a very talented writer and I’ve enjoyed your stories, esp about your unusual upbringing. I’ve always been fascinated about stories surrounding belief and coming of age. Hope to meet you at BlogU if you’re going.

    1. Ashley

      Gah!! I wish I were going to BlogU! I am going to miss out on meeting up with all my favorite bloggers. Thanks so much for reading and for your nice comments!!

  2. Drew Clarke


    I am so very happy for you and I hope the book is a springboard to even greater success. You have the skills, resources, and talent to make it so. To paraphrase a line from the movie “Field of Dreams,” if you make them laugh, they will come. Your stories are irreverent and relatable, which is potent combination. It is a rare blessing that you are able to make money doing something you truly love to do. When I owned and operated my own automotive industry consultancy, I still vividly recall watching in astonishment as my first signed contract came over the fax. It was a contract for my two-day sales training course. The entire experience was surreal from packing for the overnight trip, teaching a class comprised of seven new salespeople, opening my Holiday Inn Select rewards account, to receiving an envelope with a check for $1,300 at the end of the second day. It’s so rewarding to see all your efforts finally begin to pay dividends. Congrats. You have earned and deserve the successes you are beginning to enjoy. I look forward to receiving my signed copy of the book.

    1. Ashley

      Aww, Drew – this is so nice of you! I didn’t see this note or your order till today, but I will get it right out to you. You have worked hard and written your very own novel – I can’t wait to get MY signed copy! You’ve been such a huge support to me…I really can’t thank you enough for your friendship and encouragement.

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