Musings & Meanderings
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Musings & Meanderings: A Curious month, January. Derek T. Freeman on BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE IN TEENS, purging, writer self-care, hybrid writing contests, workshops, retreats, more

By Leslie Lindsay

A curated newsletter on the literary life, featuring ‘4 questions,’ reading & listening recommendations, where to submit, more

Leslie Lindsay|Always with a Book


Hello 2023, Friends!

January is a curious month. Is it a coming or a going? New and fresh or letting go of the old? I struggle with this every year. In the Midwest, it’s cold. I don’t feel like opening doors and windows to ‘let in the new year,’ likewise for ‘spring cleaning.’ It’s not really spring, either–anywhere. Maybe we ought to rename it ‘New Year Cleaning?’

This year is off to a rough start. When I put it in perspective, it’s not so bad…but let’s just say it’s not flowing like usual, mostly in a personal sense, but a few professional hiccups, too. I’ll get through it!

Here’s a little secret: raising kind humans is hard work.

Being a kind human is hard work.

We’ve got lots of ‘firsts’ happening–all in one week! Sweet Sixteen, college acceptances (and indecision), first jobs, a trip to the city, and…getting dumped by a longtime boyfriend, a dear person who became part of the family…that’s just the kid-raising stuff…which has left little precious time for creativity and work-related things. Invisible and emotional labor is a real thing!

So what am I doing about it? Two things.

1. I checked myself into an Air B&B where I’ll catch-up on my writing projects and hopefully make progress…I have a list…but I also have intentions of taking a bubble bath, doing yoga, reading, and meditation.

2. For the kids, I have a book that will help immensely. I think you’ll love it, too. As a former child/adolescent psych R.N., this book really ‘spoke’ to me…it’s rooted in research, approachable, relatable, and offers such great tips and ideas. Reading through it helped me remember what it was like to be a teenager myself. It helped relate to what my daughters might be feeling. In fact, one of them is reading it now.

Scroll down a bit for a quick 4 Questions Insights Interview with author Derek T. Freeman.

3. I know I said two things, but here’s an allusive third…we are going to work on this purging thing. Less is more. Clutter is stifling. It’s time not just scrub and reorganize, it’s time to eliminate. We need space. To think. To breathe.


How do you feel this time of year? How do you settle into January? Any special retreats or rituals? Do you feel like we need a space between the flurry of December and the ‘fresh start’ of January…a time when we can just regroup and recharge and not feel the pressure to make lists and goals and manifestations and lose weight and clean house? To just BE?

Respond here in a comment, or find me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook.


~Leslie : )

Photo by Ian Turnell on

This issue of Musings & Meanderings is jam-packed with some really great stuff to get your [writing and reading] year off on the right foot. Coaching, book recommendations, journals to submit to, reading recommendations, author interviews, recently published prose, and a quick 4 questions insights interview with Derek T. Freeman on his self-help book for teens, BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS

By the way, I do not get any ‘kick-backs’ or other kind of payment (in-kind, or otherwise) for mentioning these classes/workshops/books/individuals. Sharing because if helps me, maybe it’ll speak to you, too.

Some Writerly Things:

  • Looking ahead in your 2023 writing year, check out these offerings from HEDGEBROOK, which is a dreamy writing retreat and class space in the PNW
  • This poetry workshop intrigues me…it’s probably too late to join, but I am particularly taken with the idea of line breaks, tiny details, more.
  • Really, it’s too late for that one, but if you’re interested in seeing what else Writing Workshops has to level your writing practice, check out their FEBRUARY offerings.
  • Do you write hybrid? CRAFT Literary has a call that might really entice and excite. Judged by Nicole McCarthy—who is lovely and thoughtful, I just interviewed her–it’s open now thru Feb 28. Details HERE. There is a $20 reading fee, but it if they are small pieces, you can include two for that price.

New! Featured Author|Insights

Derek T. Freeman


“Building Unstoppable Self-Confidence for Teens is a candid, conversational guide to navigating adolescence that comes from a place of hard-won wisdom and deep compassion. — John B. Valeri, Author, Book Critic & Host of the web series Central Booking

Image designed & Photographed by Leslie Lindsay

Leslie Lindsay:

Without responding in complete sentences, what would you say BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS is about?

Derek T Freeman:

Empowerment for youth…inspiration. A focus on self-growth BEFORE adulthood! Raising awareness and consciousness.

Leslie Lindsay:

Where did you write BUILDING UNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS? Do you have any special writing routines or rituals? Do they change with each project, or remain constant over time?

Derek T Freeman:

This is my first book. To be honest, it flowed quickly. I like to create a detailed outline first, then work down from there. I usually start each section with a “brain dump” – I’ll just write and write, letting it flow without looking back (a glass of red wine pairs nicely with this!). Then, I’ll take a break, go back, and revise. I edited the whole book three times – I’m very picky about wording, punctuation, and the use of bold/italics/capitalization. I like the challenge of getting it to read the way it’s intended to be received.

Leslie Lindsay:

If you weren’t writing, you would be…

Derek T Freeman:

Playing with my cats. Video games and hikes with my kids & wife. In the music studio. Reading. Playing pool, darts, cards, or board games. And definitely, always, eating.

Leslie Lindsay:

What book did you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about?

Derek T Freeman:

I liked Deepak Chopra’s new one You Are the Universe. I had to read many sections over to digest it. It’s hard (impossible) to put reality into words, but I think he comes close.


Derek T Freeman is the author of Building Unstoppable Self-Confidence for Teens.

His work aims to inspire tweens, teens, parents, and families by providing motivational content and guiding them through the years that are often seen as the most challenging parts of both parenting and growing up.

As a young teenager, Derek struggled with self-esteem, bullying, and fitting in. As a father, he has attended countless groups and school functions and, along the way, has realized just how common his school experiences are. He is determined to make the turbulent waters of adolescence easier to navigate for other young people.

For more information, to purchase a copy of BUILDINGUNSTOPPABLE SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR TEENS.

You can connect on Instagram HERE. Find Derek T. Freeman on TikTok and Facebook.

Browse my for more parenting books, what I’m reading in 2023, and some of my favorite books featuring mental health…and more!

Some Recently Published Interviews, Prose, Etc.:

  • Y’all, I am super-excited about this illustrated review in DIAGRAM, which has sorta been like a dream place of mine to get work published. It’s a beautiful melding of all things that bring me joy: fonts, words, ideas, art, books, and the human body. I mean…the only obsessions missing for me is architecture, travel, nature, and basset hounds. Check it out and the book, YOUR HEARTS, YOUR SCARS: Essays by the late Adina Talve-Goodman (Bellevue Literary Press, Jan 24 2023), which happens to be a Powell’s pick for January.
My illustrated review of YOUR HEARTS YOUR SCARS (Bellevue Literary Press, Jan 24 2023) as it appears in DIAGRAM 22.6
  • Kathryn Gahl in conversation with me about her poetic memoir, THE YELLOW TOOTHBRUSH (Two Shrews Press, September 2022), about her incarcerated daughter, perinatal mood disorder, more in MER, November 28, 2022.
  • Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s HALFWAY FROM HOME (Split/Lip Press, Nov 8) in Hippocampus Magazine, about her working-class unconventional childhood in California, moving across the country to pursue writing, home, displacement, and so much more November 13, 2022.
  • A conversation-in-review with the EIC of Salon, Erin Keane, about her memoir, RUNAWAY: Notes on the Myths that Made Me (Belt Publishing, September, 2022), in Autofocus Literary, November 12, 2022.
  • A conversation with Sheila O’Connor about elegantly exploring the nonlinear, (a total obsession of mine), in her EVIDENCE OF V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, Fictions (Rose Metal Press, 2019), in Fractured Literary, October 25, 2022
  • A review-in-dialogue with Su Cho about her debut book of poetry, THE SYMMETRY OF FISH (Penguin Poets, October 2022) in The Cincinnati Review, November 1 2022.
  • Prose in SEPIA Journal Oct/Nov 2022 issue. Interiors is about an Appalachian family, black bottom pie, trains, and ear aches. It was inspired by my own family lore, and also: this journal is STUNNING!
Image designed and photographed by L.Lindsay

There’s more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling.

Photo by Min An on

What’s Obsessing Me:

  • Jane Friedman recently brought this search engine to my attention and I am obsessed–ddmm is all about stock images for whatever your heart desires. You can filter to show results for creative commons only. I searched up ‘floor plans,’ and was instantly drooling.
  • Along those lines, I have started thinking about a playlist for my WIP. Many writers do this to get in the writing mood/mindset, and while that might work for you, I’m using it as an accompaniment for the book itself, sort of a multi-sensory read. Check out the Natural Language Playlist, which is an AI-generated mixtape concept you can download right to your Spotify account. Pretty slick!

You are reading Musings & Meanderings, a consistently inconsistent weekly newsletter about the literary life from Leslie Lindsay, and home of an archive of bestselling and debut author interviews. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I canFeel free to find my book suggestions on, and also check out the authors I’ve hosted in in-depth interviews HERE.

In the meantime, catch me on:

Reviewing books and talking about them with others on-line and in-person is one small way to engage with & support the literary community.

Thank you for letting me guide you on your bookish journey.

Photo by L.Lindsay @leslielindsay1

Let’s walk this bookish path together.


Some of you have been reading my reviews, interviews, and meanderings for more than a decade now. That’s huge and I am so humbled. Thanks for being here.

More than 2,800 folks read Musings & Meanderings.

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Wishing you much comfort and joy in the New Year!

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Created by Leslie Lindsay. I’m a proud book nerd. Connect with me on Instagram, and Twitter. See what I’m reading on Find my reviews on GoodReads. I’m also a Zibby Books Ambassador.

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One last thing: I love Between the Covers podcast with David Naimon. Not listening yet? If you’re a serious reader and writer, I don’t think you’ll regret it.

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