Tag Archives: bucket list

ERMAgawd: Why You Must Take Risks and Find the Funny

Ok, y’all know I love me a good writers conference. After I left a career in corporate sales to be a writer, I made attending writers conferences part of my ongoing education goal. I’ve attended at least one a year since 2012.

IMG_3837Well, this year something magical happened. I GOT INTO THE ERMA BOMBECK WRITERS WORKSHOP!

ERMA BOMBECK, FOLKS! ONE OF THE FOREMOTHERS OF FUNNY!

The Erma conference happens every two years, and the last two times I tried to get in, it sold out. No joke, this conference sells out faster every year, like in four hours or less.

So this year, I marked my calendar, I had my morning off, I was holding my credit card in hand with my laptop and my phone ready to GO!

And then, I flew to Dayton, Ohio and proudly wore my newbie sticker that said “Erma Virgin”. Yes, that is what they gave us. Be still my humor-loving, former Catholic heart. 

I’ve been to some stellar conferences and always left inspired, but there was energy like you can’t imagine at this conference. (In fact, the organizers said this was the highest rated conference to date!) I got my schedule, planned out where I was going to go, and then immediately threw that out the window, tried something new, made great friends, and gave it all my best!

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Oh NBD, just new friends holding up our Liza Donnelly (from The New Yorker) cartoons!

ERMAgawd, here’s why you should go! 

Taking risks leads to opportunities and learning lessons. 

You all know I like to say yes to new experiences, but being the newbie here, I was admittedly nervous.

A fair amount of the workshop focused on stand up comedy with the hilarious Wendy Liebman. Wendy’s been a stand up comedian for over 30 years. She’s performed on Carson, Letterman, Leno, Fallon, Kimmel, and been a finalist on America’s Got Talent.

 

It seemed like everyone was talking about the stand up classes. Everyone I met was trying stand up or working on their bits. But I had no intention of going. I’m not a stand up, so that’s not for me.

You guys all know I went, right? LOL

I had planned what workshops I was going to attend the night before they started, and that was the last time I looked at that list. If the stand up classes were getting all the buzz, then I decided to go and see what I could learn from them. After all, I like working in different formats because it teaches you new things about your writing.

After the first class listening to people tell jokes, my gears just started rolling and I spent that night coming up with some material. So the next day, I got up with a bunch of other brave, risk-taking people and did a minute of stand up. And I got laughs! Good ones! That is a very good feeling. One that I’m interested and willing to try again! All because of a risk.

A risk, and the ever delightful and supportive Wendy Liebman, who just happened to be on the same flight to Chicago as me, and who gave me wonderful feedback and encouragement while sitting at our departure gate despite the fact that it wasn’t even 6am yet. Bless you, you’re so kind and charming, and I’m eternally grateful.

Find the Funny 

The other classes I attended were about finding the funny, whether it’s using it to add heart or get through hard times. Or even just on Twitter.

IMG_3874One of my favorite workshops was with Lauretta Hannon, author of The Cracker Queen. She had a lot of great tips on being comfortable with writing your story, even the dark parts, while being ok with yourself in the process. I can’t wait to read her book after she shared some examples of how to use humor to write about the tough stuff, and also where to let the dark moments speak for themselves, because we know not everything we go through will be funny.

 

Both Lauretta and T. Faye Griffin, another presenter, reiterated that making people laugh is a gift. Some of the best writers out there have the ability to make you feel something or learn something, but do so through humor, and that is a very special skill.

It’s kind of mesmerizing to me how many different ways there are to be funny. You can do stand up, you can tell a story, you can caption a photo, you can come up with a punchy headline, you can tweet just to name a few. If there was one takeaway from this conference, it is that “funny” is all around us, and we have the skill to shape it.

I’m so grateful for this opportunity. The crowd at Erma is one of the most supportive I’ve ever seen, which is appreciated because I took one other risk while I was at the conference and signed up for Pitchapalooza, “the American Idol of books”.

In a room of roughly 100 people, I put my name in a hat that probably had at least 60 of those people’s names in it. Only 12 were chosen and I was one of them. I got to pitch my book for one minute to a panel of judges and get feedback on my pitch.

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I swear I thought the audience would hear my heart beating through the microphone, but I had practiced my pitch beforehand and gave it my all. I didn’t win the contest. (Way to go, Liz Dubelman, who did win! She was the first person to say hi to me at the conference, so I have a soft spot for her as a human being. Thanks!) I got really positive feedback and simple tweaks to improve my pitch, and was even complimented on my performance! And that’s a win in my book!

So there you have it, taking risks and finding the funny is what Erma is all about. I’m so glad I could attend and so grateful to the conference organizers, presenters, the keynotes (btw, I hope I wasn’t the only one who noticed all the female keynotes got standing ovations), and my fellow attendees. I’m still riding the highs and energized by all of you!

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What are you currently learning about your writing right now?
What’s inspiring you? 

 

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The Party Don’t Start Til I Walk In

It’s finally here!  It’s officially been 3 months for the Life List Club members and contributors working diligently on our goals.  And we all know that when we work hard, it means you get to play hard too!  Bring on the good times!

What is the Life List Club?  The Life List Club is a place for writers and readers alike to share with each other their goals/dreams/bucket list/what-have-you and support one another along the journey.  You can join by subscribing to any of the LLC contributor blogs which are located in the sidebar.  Anyone can be a member and we encourage all of you to make your own Life List page on your blog as a reminder to yourself what you want to accomplish.  We’re here to lend helpful advice, encouragement, and good old fashioned ass-kicking when you need it!

It’s a Milestone Party?  Today we’re celebrating our progress on our goal lists since we started 3 months ago.  We have music, food, and great schwag to giveaway, so I invite everyone to leave a comment; share with me how you’re doing on your goal commitments, what advice would you offer others, and feel free to dance!

My List and Progress Thus Far:

  1. Write every day, even if it is only ten words.  (Ok, this hasn’t been completely consistent, but it is improving.  What’s helped the most is blogging ahead and making a planner where I create and follow through on writing time.)
  2. Read 2 books a month for fun.  (I’m loving this!  See what I’m reading by visiting my Bookshelf.)
  3. Submit my work for publication.  (Nina Badzin wrote this post on why it’s important to just do it and not be a snob about your publication opportunities.  But I have nothing finished yet, so this goal is post-poned, but not gone away.)
  4. Learn about the craft of writing.  (I’m currently learning about novel set-up through my Fly on the Wall status in Warrior Writer’s Boot Camp.  I get to observe others’ writing and edits, offer input, but I don’t yet submit my own.  The basis of this boot camp is to prep you well before it’s your turn to start submitting.  I’m also signed up for Kristen Lamb’s Author Branding Class to make a bigger impact with my blog and writing.  Can’t wait!)
  5. Learn about social media.  (Uh, Kristen Lamb.  Best Freshly Pressed post to ever stumble onto.)
  6. Attend a writing conference.  (Madison Writers Institute – Wonderful experience I’m now on the lookout for next year’s conference, and thinking about saving up money to attend DFW in Texas, the conference Kristen usually speaks at!  Might see some of my favorite tweeps and bloggers there!)
  7. Meet with other writers.  (Ok, I attempted to start a local writer’s club which didn’t pan out cause everyone is so busy.  I did start a critique group with 3 writers I met at the Madison Writers Institute, but we’re not on a regular schedule either.  LLC and WWBC have been the most beneficial, which leads me to advise that while in-person groups may be more fun, don’t knock the online ones, cause they’re full of amazing people who can help you get the job done, and probably faster.)
  8. Write a fiction book.  (It’s my current work in progress.  The plan of attack is jump start writing again with NaNoWriMo and follow the WWBC evos to prepare more efficiently.)
  9. Cook more meals at home.  (I’m well of aware of the bologna incident, and the write like potatoes incident, and the double stuff oreos incident in spite of my mother.  It’s about progress, and part of progress comes from being aware.  Honestly, I’ve made some smart decisions, and have spent more time eating fruits/veggies first before the cheetos.  And I vow to not ever, not even if someone dared me, eat bologna again.  I couldn’t live down the shame the first time I blogged about it!)
  10. Be more frugal.  (I struggle here, but I’ve got some worthwhile goals and desires to attend conferences and travel more, so I’m going to watch my excess spending and start that “fund” where all the money you didn’t spend on grande green tea lattes and fancy jewelry goes into that fund jar instead which will slowly help me get to Korea, or Finland, or Singapore, or wherever else I want to go.)
  11. Take a real vacation and leave the country.  (I visited Toronto, Canada for a week with my honey, and it was so beautiful and fun.  Loved hanging out in the big city, seeing Niagara Falls, and trying Ice Wine for the first time!  Mmmm)
  12. Go to the beach.  (I blame Wisconsin weather.  And working too much.  We still only got to the beach two times this year.  But we supplemented our outdoors time with hiking, oh that’s right, we nearly died…)
  13. Go see live theater.  (It’s part of my birthday present.  I get to drag Joe to a local theater event!  Yay!)
  14. Keep up with my gratitude journal, 5 things each day.  (Here’s what I recently wrote down.  Ice water, Joe cooking dinner, fried green tomatoes, taking a late night walk around town, watching Chic music videos on youtube.)
  15. Track my progress of learning the social media and publishing world.  (I’ve been adding a second list underneath my gratitude journal that focuses on eye opening moments.)
  16. Spend more time with friends and family.  (Even though it meant a lot more driving, and therefore less writing time, I took some extra weekend trips home to see family this month.  I know it was entirely worth it.)

Rules That Help Me Survive:

Here are the three rules that I’ve come to ground myself with as I work towards my goals.  If you want to see how I came up with them and use them, check out this LLC post I did about making my own boot camp to kickstart my writing.  I hope these rules help you towards your goals too.

  1. Life comes first.
  2. Get up early.
  3. Feelings lie.

PRIZES!!!  To win, you must subscribe (or already be subscribing) and comment below!  Good luck!

All of us LLC contributors are giving away FABULOUS prizes today!  I’m offering one commenter a signed copy of Bethany Wiggins’ new book Shifting!

     After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Magdalene Mae is transferred to what should be her last foster home in the tiny town of Silver City, New Mexico. Now that she’s eighteen and has only a year left in high school, she’s determined to stay out of trouble and just be normal. Agreeing to go to the prom with Bridger O’Connell is a good first step. Fitting in has never been her strong suit, but it’s not for the reasons most people would expect-it all has to do with the deep secret that she is a shape shifter. But even in her new home danger lurks, waiting in the shadows to pounce. They are the Skinwalkers of Navajo legend, who have traded their souls to become the animal whose skin they wear-and Maggie is their next target.

Learn more about Bethany and her book in my author interview with her!  Or check out her blog at Shooting Stars.

Other Fabulous Prizes Include:

Pam Hawley is giving away:
-Winner’s choice of excerpt from my novel-in-progress or a copy of my short story
“Elevated.”
– I will interview the winner on their goals and ambitions for a future post in Hawleyville.
– Option to publish a piece of their own fiction/essay (up to 2,000 words) or do a guest
post at my blog.

David Walker is giving away 2 prizes:
-to a commenter, a copy of a short story, Bubba’s First Cruise
-to a subscriber, a guest post swap.

Marcia Richards is giving away:
-a copy of flash fiction – Night Moves
-invitation to guest post or be interviewed on my blog
-winner’s name used for a character in my trilogy, The Dance and The Dancer

Jennie Bennett is giving away 2 prizes:
-3 books, Oliver Twist, Secret Garden and A Little Princess
-10-page in depth critique

Sonia Medeiros is giving away:
-Larry Brooks’ Story Engineering Ebook

Jenny Hansen is giving away a prize to each a commenter and subscriber:
-Choice of a guest post from Jenny for the winner’s blog OR an interview of the winner  on Jenny’s blog

Violeta Nedkova is giving away:
-In-depth Critique of two WIP chapters

Diana Ligaya is giving away:
-a copy of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces
-an in-depth critique for fiction up to 15,000 words

Emily Moir is giving away:
-a 5 piece (4X6) photo series by Kate Moir

Alright folks, put on your favorite party hat and boogie with the Life List Club today!  We can also be found disco dancing on twitter at #LifeListClub. 

Now tell me, how’s your life list coming along?

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