This week we chatted with Kristin Helms, author of From Boardroom to Baby and founder of Tribe Magazine and Mom Tribe San Diego
TINY TAGS: Writing a book seems so daunting! What inspired you to write your book? Where do you begin?
KRISTIN: When I was in the 5th grade, I vividly remember my teacher handing me back a graded essay and telling me, “One day I’m going to be handing you your own book to sign for me because one day you’re going to be a published author.” I’ve always loved writing and his words really stuck with me through the years. As I continued through life—high school, college, career, family—I always kept my life-long dream of writing a book on the back burner. In 2014, I left my corporate career to stay home with my daughter and began writing during her nap times. It was a creative outlet for me. My innocent mommy blog led to me to launch a larger platform, Tribe Magazine, which then led to me finally deciding to just go for it and start pitching literary agents with my book idea. By that time, I had some solid writing under my belt—having articles published on large sites like Huffington Post and Literary Mama—and I had built a network of moms through Tribe Magazine, so I was in the right place to try and pitch a non-fiction book. Somehow my stars aligned and I obtained a literary agent who turned around and sold my book to a publisher. They gave me three months to write the book, so I got to work immediately. My in-laws flew in from Colorado Springs for a couple weeks and I lived in the library and coffee shop down the street from my house—just writing my little heart out. I realized as I was writing the book that I had really already written it in my head over the past four years of motherhood—the words just flowed out of me.
TINY TAGS: I love the idea of an honest and supportive online community. What made you want to start Tribe Magazine?
KRISTIN: I actually launched Tribe Magazine with my two sisters and it started out as an online magazine for women. We wrote about travel, work, home, motherhood, recipes, style, health—anything that really interested us—a total passion project. About a year in, both of my sisters decided to head to nursing school, so they became less involved in the magazine while I rebranded it as an online magazine for moms.
I’ve always enjoyed writing about the ups and downs of motherhood—the realness of the role. Then it occurred to me that it would be super powerful to not only feature my own voice, but voices of other mothers who could share different perspectives and experiences—but all with the same supportive and heartfelt underlining tones. So I opened it up to contributors and it really took on a life of it’s own. We’ve published over 200 amazing writers and authors—every article is just packed with so much love and emotion—there’s so much to explore internally throughout motherhood—Tribe encompasses all of it.
TINY TAGS: What was your background? How did you get into publishing and writing?
KRISTIN: My background is in marketing, but my passion has always been writing. Publishing a non-fiction book is sort of a nice mix of writing and marketing because in order to pitch a book idea to agents and publishers you need to write a book proposal—essentially a business plan on how you’d bring the book to market. Drawing on my past marketing career, I was able to make a good case for the book which landed me an agent and a publisher. Then writing the book was the fun part.
TINY TAGS: What is your favorite quote?
KRISTIN: “If you’re not in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” — T.S. Eliot
I like this quote because I feel like I’m always just slightly in over my head. Anything less makes me wrestless and anything more is chaos—a full, slightly overflowing plate is my comfort zone.
TINY TAGS: What have you given up to write a book and have a website? Do you think it’s harder to work for yourself or someone else?
KRISTIN: Sanity? Ha! But in all seriousness, I’ve probably given up resting in the evenings or when the kids nap—instead, I start working as soon as they go down. In some ways it’s easier to work for myself—I get to make my own schedule and have really designed my writing and Tribe around my kids’ schedules. However, in other ways it’s harder to disconnect from your own business. I’ve really had to set boundaries with myself so I’m present in the moment—whether that’s with my children in mom mode, or working/writing in author mode.
TINY TAGS: What does your average day look like?
KRISTIN: Each day is a little different because I do shift back and forth from mom mode to author mode depending on the day and time. But usually, I wake up before the sun with my son who is my early riser and little alarm clock—usually around 5:30 a.m. My daughter now goes to pre-school 3 half-days per week and I have a sitter for my son two of those half-days, so I have two half days per week set aside for working/writing. These days I’m in heavy marketing and PR mode for From Boardroom to Baby, so I’m doing about three radio interviews per week, writing 2-3 articles for different parenting sites per week, plus planning book events and outreach. I truly go into beast mode during my two half-days per week. I think it helps that I only have a limited amount of time to get things done because I’m super productive during those sacred “work times.” And afternoons are always reserved for the kiddos—usually scootering around the neighborhood or meeting friends for play dates. Swim lessons on Fridays, mommy and me soccer on Tuesdays. Dinner is at 5 and kiddos go down to bed at 7. Then, it’s usually back to work mode in the evenings—or filling my cup back up with an episode of This is Us or The Crown.
TINY TAGS: What’s next for you?
KRISTIN: I feel the urge to start writing my next book. However, I’d love to dabble in fiction this time around. I think it would be so fun to just make a story up out of nothing. We’ll see… I have some ideas swirling in my head right now.
TINY TAGS: Any advice for aspiring writers?
KRISTIN: Just start. Write a little bit every day until it becomes habit—until you can’t function properly without writing every day. Submit your essays/stories to bigger publications to build your portfolio and following. Take each rejection letter as an opportunity to learn and perfect your craft, but keep writing and keep submitting. Most importantly, believe you are a writer. Before I was published in larger magazines and websites and way before my book deal, I started calling myself a writer, because I was writing. I think there’s something to be said about believing in yourself and your mission so much that the world has no choice but to pay attention. Set goals and then get to work. I think many believe that the reward is in having a completed, published book, but truly, the reward is in the writing—enjoy the creative process.