Volunteer Spotlight: Kim Merrill
The Mighty Pens would be nothing without our volunteers. We wanted to make sure everyone got the recognition they deserve. Each week, we’ll be spotlighting one or more of our volunteers and they can tell you in their own words a little bit about them and why they are a part of the Mighty Pens team.
This week we’re featuring Kim Merrill (she/her). Find her @inopinion on Twitter, NaNoWriMo, and Discord or @onogonal on Instagram.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself (this can be whatever you feel like sharing—what you do, where you’re from, some fun facts, anything.)
A: I enjoy making *things*. Almost all of my hobbies are around creating. Besides writing, my family makes electric go-karts that we have raced at Maker Fairs around the country. These crazy karts are themed around the Power Wheel kid’s toys or what Power Wheels might look like if they were to make a toy in that theme. The most extreme example was our “Doctor Quinn – Medicine Kart” which involved constructing a ride-on-top horse structure, complete with a fuzzy hide, hair extensions, skirts, and petticoats. A photo of me riding “Boma” around the track is up on the website. It’s probably no surprise when I admit I am an Engineer. We make so many different *things* that my son once told us that we can make anything with teamwork when I told him there wasn’t any bacon in the house—and I’m not joking, he thought we could just manufacture bacon with a bit of hard work.
Q: Tell us about your pets! Or dream pet, if you don’t have one.
A: After much deliberation and research, I stumbled upon a mix that ended up being perfect for our family. Last year, I brought home an Aussiedoodle and I named her Stix (read the Witchlands if you haven’t, you savages). She has been an absolute delight. And while there have been many nips and trips and the gnarly mutilation of many, many toys, she and my son play together almost non-stop when they are both awake. She’s the built-in playmate that made isolating at home not so bad this last summer.
I also have a one-eyed cat named Annie (as in the pirate Anne Bonnie) who is the sweetest most dear cat you could imagine.
Q: What are you currently reading/watching? What was your last 5 star read?
Normally, I don’t watch much TV at all, but these are unusual times. I’ve been watching a lot of True Crime documentaries, Scrubs, and those weird shows like Dr. Pimple Popper and My Feet Are Killing Me.
Almost half the books I read are Fantasy, a quarter Sci-Fi, and then everything else. I split pretty evenly between YA and Adult with a good handful of Middle grade every year. Some recent highlights: Untamed by Glennon Doyle, Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, and my last 5-star read was: One of Us is Lying—which I re-read and found to be just as good as the first time.
Q: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A: Pantser who flirts with plotting…. I want to be a plotter so badly, and I do make a minimal outline, but once I start writing it all basically goes out the window.
Q: What’s your favorite writing snack or beverage?
A: I drink a lot of tea when I’m writing. Sometimes I have that glass of wine if things have to get kissy. I typically don’t snack.
Q: What’s in your ears while you write?
A: I listen to that mellow folk/rock/indie stuff that mostly blends together but occasionally is profound, or movie scores.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about writing? Least favorite?
A: Favorite: daydreaming—I love having something I can think about whenever and all the time.
Least favorite: fixing plot gaps or finding out my plot is too thin to carry a full-length novel which is a curse of pantsing. It seems bigger in my head and then I’m at the end at 30k wondering how the hell I’m going to make more of it.
Q: Have you participated in NaNoWriMo before? Have you won? Are you participating this year?
A: Yes—I have done Nano or Camp Nano several times, at least 6 times. I’ve never not “won” meaning I hit my goal each year, usually that goal is 50k, but not always.
Q: What do you write? And if you can, tell us what you are working on now or will be working on for NaNo.
A: I love to fill my life with at least a little bit of magic. A fantasy element runs through every story to different degrees. This year, I have a chosen-one prophecy that is sort of The Wheel of Time meets Witchlands though not nearly as ambitious as either.
Q: Any advice for someone who is joining the Mighty Pens or NaNoWriMo for the first time this year?
A: This is work, but it’s the kind of work that should be fun. If you’re not having fun, you need to take a breath, go for a walk, and get perspective. Don’t fight yourself or beat yourself up. Identify some options and get back to work!
Q: Are you a Mighty Pens vet or a newcomer? Why did you decide to become a volunteer?
A: I have donated to the Mighty Pens but didn’t really participate in the past. I had been struggling with motivation leading up to October and I know I do best with structure and community. So, to make sure I stay motivated, I volunteered. It’s working.
Q: What’s your favorite part about the Mighty Pens?
A: The people, the community, the chance to do something together.
Q: Do you have a special connection to Every Mother Counts? Or just like raising money for a good cause?
A: I had a very long labor with my son and several complications along the way. After days of constant contractions, I had to abandon every single part of my birth plan. I eventually had an epidural, a c-section, a blood transfusion, and extra days in the hospital. During every moment, there was a midwife, nurses, and a team of doctors looking out for me, calming me, treating me as a whole patient and respecting me as a person. Even though my experience should have landed me with PTSD and trauma, I can thank that team for turning it into a positive experience. Every mother deserves a team like I had.