Tag Archives: Kristen Lamb

Short Circuit: Why It’s Good to Know People Who Know Technical Stuff

Recently my abilities on the world wide web doubled.  While attending the DFW Writers’ Conference, my roommate and Twitter extraordinaire, Julie Glover, taught me how to resize a photo.

Now, my twitter profile picture actually looks like me!  It was kind of fun though, having an online makeover.  I went from long hair and bangs to a short pixie cut!  And of course, Julie ran wild with it on twitter, telling everyone she cut my hair in the hotel room last night.  LOL.

Actual picture of Me and Julie at the DFW Conference
(image from avclub.com)

With a little help from Julie, I was feeling brave and clicky!  I went to edit my profile and figured out how to upload a photo of mine as my background!  Now when you view my twitter page, you can see the view from the bluffs, overlooking Myrick Marsh!  A favorite hiking spot of mine.

Then there was Jillian Dodd, who taught Julie and I about Search Engine Optimization.  She links her name to her book title, or to key themes of her blogs, as well as the phrases themselves to best help people find her online.  We got into an interesting discussion all about SEO.  I’m still no expert, so if you want to know more about it, read Kristen Lamb’s post Search Engines – Your Personal Genie to Build Your Author Brand.

Jillian invites me over the SEO Darkside!
(image from wikipedia.org)

Jillian also shared with us how much of her blog reading and twitter comments she does from her phone!

Eh? What’s that you say?
(image from cracked.com)

I know, right?  Using your phone as your office on the go!  That’s ingenious!  She must work for Apple.

So, now, yours truly downloaded the WordPress app, and I’m loving it!  Now, I use my lunch hour at the dreaded day job to read and comment on your blogs!  Or to reply to comments I receive!  Now, I don’t feel like I’m running to my computer to catch up anymore once I’m home.

But, I didn’t stop there!  Oh no!  I downloaded the WP app for my kindle, and also downloaded the Kindle for PC app on my computer.  I needed it when I had to try to transfer a .mobi file onto my kindle and after wasting an hour, *head desk*, realized I couldn’t do it cause I didn’t have the adapter plug in.  However, I can now access those files and all my downloaded books on my computer as well as my kindle!  What sweet, sweet ease!

Now I can start plotting to take over the world! (image from google images)

Lastly, more thoughtful advice came from Julie when I asked her how she learned how to do all this stuff?  I always feel so clueless.  And I won’t lie, I am totally that individual that won’t click on any buttons they don’t know cause I BELIEVE my computer will self destruct.  I’m that paranoid cautious.

You know what she does?  She YouTubes it!  She looks for tutorials or blog posts that walk you through how to do it.  I LOVE THIS IDEA!  I’m such a visual learner!

(image from izismile.com)

I don’t know why I never thought of that, but I’m so happy Julie did.  And I’m even more happy that Julie shared it with me.

So, what’s my guilty pleasure this week?  It’s people.  People who know Technological-techy-computer-kindle-phone stuff.  They’re good peeps. 

What’s your latest guilty pleasure or tech lesson?

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Scams: A Guest Post by David N. Walker

It’s another round of the Life List Club blog hop!  Here with me today is David N. Walker, Texan Extraordinaire!  He’s here today to teach us all a lesson about scams.  And you can find me over at Jenny Hansen’s blog, More Cowbell, talking about why wearing pajamas might be the best thing you do for your career!  Sort of…

You can also visit the other Life List Club crew by clicking on any of the names in the sidebars of our blogs and we’ll all be around in the comments section!  See you there!

Scams by David N. Walker

WANA: We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

Not too long ago, everyone in my Yahoo contact list received an email purporting to be from me and stating that I was stranded in Madrid penniless and without ID because I’d been mugged. More recently I received this email.

Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Barrister Manuel Francisco Suarez Calafell, an Attorney at Law, in Madrid-Espana.

I am writing to notify you of the unclaimed inheritance deposit (US$37.3Million) of our late client, Mr. MROTZEK GERD who passed on to the Great beyond on August 21st, 2008 in the Spanair Flight JK-502 2 Crash in Madrid.

I got your name and email address through a web search engine in my quest to get a reliable individual who shall work with me in claiming this inheritance deposit since all efforts to get the biological relative has proved abortive.

Conclusively, I await your urgent response to include the following:(1).Your full Names & Address. (2).Your Telephone and Fax numbers. (3).Your business name if any: for more information on how to release the inheritance deposit, procedure and legality of this claim via email: manuelfrancisccalafell.suarez@aim.com

Regards,
Manuel Francisco Suarez Calafell (Esq)
Attorney At Law

Has Spain become the new Nigeria? I haven’t received anything lately from any Nigerian bankers asking me for a processing fee so they could send me several million dollars. Maybe someone from Spain stole all their computers.

Have you been spammed with any junk like this letter? Had your email account commandeered or your identity stolen? This seems to be growing in seriousness.

David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. Since his retirement from insurance a few years ago, he has devoted his time to helping Kristen Lamb start Warrior Writers’ Boot Camp and trying to learn to write a successful novel himself.

Monday Must Reads: Writing, Women, Mummies, and Christmas Lists

Happy Monday Everyone!  I’m madly trying to catch up on my NaNoWriMo goals, finish 2 more books this month, stop this cold I’m getting in its tracks, and still make dinner from a recipe at least once a week.  Here are the blogs that caught my eye this past week.  What else caught yours?

On Writing:

August McLaughlin wrote a beautiful post on Sweet Solitude: Creating Intimacy with Writing and Ourselves.  It’s a little bit about love, about finding creativity, and being a stronger, healthier you.  She also leaves wonderful ideas to get recharged.

Kristen Lamb serves up another batch of awesome-sauce in her post on publishing and author brand:  Beware the Social Media Snuggie – One Size Does Not Fit All!

Albert Berg is an honest man.  If you’re in need of a grip on reality and write goals, please read his post Nailing NaNoWriMo: Or Not.

On Women:

When Quiet offers us a breathtaking poem about the unity of women in WE.  You’ll want to read this one out loud, it sounds as powerful as your mind and spirit are.

True Life Stories:

Mindi Anders conducts part 1 of an interview with a Michigan Religious Cult Survivor and even the comments are interesting.  Mindi’s done an awesome job of healing herself by sharing her own survival story and creating a place for discussion on the topic.

Gene Lempp’s new edition of Designing from Bones is on The Iceman Plot, the true, or slightly fictionalized story, of a 5300 year old glacier mummy.

Kathy Owen shares the history of Thanksgivings Past from the New York Times in this part 1 edition.  How many turkeys do you think we go through now?

Social Trends of the Season:

Tiffany White blogged about a favorite guilty pleasure show of mine The Secret Circle.  Catch up on Cassie, the new witch in town and her five friends who bind a circle of witchcraft only to be found out by witch hunters and demons!  It’s creepier than I thought and I’ll be sticking with it.

Tiffany also blogged about another favorite topic of mine, Urban Legends.  From the tales themselves to the flicks that made them frightening, you gotta check this out!

Don’t lie, we know you’re already making your holiday gift lists, if not for yourself, perhaps Gift Ideas for the Writer in Your Life, and Pam Hawley’s got you covered.

Must Read Monday

Hello friends!  I’m catching up on my NaNo goals today, so no post from me, but I won’t leave you empty handed.  Check out my favorite posts from the past week.  There’s a bit of something for everyone, practical writing advice, book reviews, creepy legends, and hilarious love advice!

Word Stuff:

MuseInks gives us the Top 5 Reasons You Should Do NaNoWriMo.  Reason number 6:  It’s fun!

Kristen Lamb talks Successful Writers and the real truth about the word “lucky.”  A must read for all writer wannabees.  Take control of your career!

Kristen Lamb also did a post about how to focus on relationships with other writers.  She warns you of the bad advice and assists with how to make a real connection happen in How to Win the Hearts of Bloggers – Scoring the Book Review, Guest Post, or Interview.

Freshly Pressed blogger, Jolie O’Dell, gave her Secrets to Productivity recently and really revealed how this gets her a jump start ahead of her peers and what tricks she uses to help wake up in the morning.

Writer Unboxed shared a guest post on how to Be a More Confident Writer and offer 5 tips to help you on your way.

Jillian at A Room of One’s Own wrote a beautiful review on the biography and history of author Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Get swept away into The Big Woods of Little House on the Prairie creator.

Health and Wellness:

Mark Landen gives you the health advice and brain foods you’ll need this fall to crack your “WIP” into place.  *LOL, I’m hilarious!  Ok, seriously*  Must read:  11 Ways to a Healthy Brain and Healthy Writing.

Piper Bayard gives us the health care resolution for her presidential candidacy:  Granny Care, Putting the Care Back in Health Care.  To which I may add, a vote for Granny is a vote for free chicken noodle soup for all!

Social Trends of the Season:

Margaret Reyes Dempsey guest blogs at Celluloid Zombie about the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for movie watchers everywhere.  Join the heated debate:  300 zombies out of nowhere, now spotted yards in front of you with binoculars…believe it or not?!

If you haven’t yet checked out Gene Lempp’s Zoo Arcane series, you’re missing out.  He’s got great mythology research, enticing book ideas for your use, and never fails to find something most of us have never heard of before.  His latest spooky series was on Evil Little People, a title I’ll try not to take personally at my whopping 5’2″.  😛

Amber West’s edition of Worth a Watch Wednesday was on ABC’s new show Once Upon a Time.  Fairytales and present day crime drama combine.  Just caught my first episode Sunday night, and I’m intrigued!

Looking for love in all the wrong places?  Tawna Fenske just may have the answers after cat-sitting for a friend.  For a good time, read Please Pee So I’ll Know if You’re Sexy.

Any other NaNo’s out there?  How’s it going?  And everyone else, what fun have you been up to since we’re all shut inside? 

Bon Voyage Blog Mash-Up

Hey Writers and Readers,

Yours truly is taking a blogging week hiatus to go on vacation!  It’s a much needed break from work, and yes, even writing, to spend a week with my honey.  We need to put in the quality time with each other, and finally, our schedules have matched up enough to take a trip.  I’ll be back in two week’s time to tell you all about sunny Toronto.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll post in the comments any links from blogs you’ve read or written and want to share with me.  I promise to read them all and leave a comment.  Plus, you’ll make sure I don’t miss anything fabulous while I’m away.

I’m sharing with you a quick mash-up of awesomeness to peruse through while I’m off.

You can read about my meltdown and why this vacation is perfect timing in Writer Meltdowns: A Case of the Mean Reds, my Life List Club guest post over at the amazing Gene Lempp’s Blog.

Pam Hawley, my secret east coast twin, shares her writing tips in a fun-flippered way in her guest post at my place Sit, Waddle, Scoot and Swim.

Kristen Lamb served up a slice of self-discipline that was just my size in Self-Discipline-The Key to Success.

Amanda Rudd discovered one of her favorite science fiction writers was actually a woman!  She sleuths out the truth in Is He a She? Using Pseudonyms to Hide Gender.

Tiffany A. White’s got the Ooo Factor on Long Lost Childhood Reads.  Share your favorites too.

Selena Wolff shares with us her tarot spread and the karmic balance of relationships in Tarot Tuesday-Love and Relationships.  Very interesting read for writers and readers alike.

Sonia Medeiros is hosting a blog prize giveaway in her post 100 Posts…What? Already!  Go stroll down memory lane with her and maybe you’ll win a prize too!

And announcing the publication of my awesome friend, Mark Petruska’s book, No Time for Kings, here him discuss the self-publishing route and what it feels like to see his name on the book spine, and he also complains about the price of eggs! Congrats Mark!

City Slickers and Social Media

Hello and welcome to the World of Writers in what will now be referred to as the Wild Wild West of Publishing.  Let me introduce to you our panelists who will cover the vast opinions circling social media today:

Patrick McGilligan, Film biographer and Social Media Nay Sayer. If you'd like to know what he thinks about something, please just email.

Josie Brown, Fiction Women's Lit Author and Social Media Champion. Click the image to link to her blog, facebook, or twitter account.

Judy Molland, Non-fiction Writer, Parenting and Social Media Advocate. For answers about teaching, parenting, writing and social media, Judy is your lady, and it comes with a genuine British accent!

Jim DeRogatis, Music Critic and Rock N'Roll Know-It-All, If you want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God, Jim's your man. User of social media, pays someone else to do it, but it's definitely NOT his agent!

Wrapping up Saturday at the Writers Institute in Madison, Wisconsin, was a panel on Social Media.  Like old time wanted posters, these four pioneers of authorship sat in the front of the room, sharing their opinions and travels through the Wild Wild West that is today’s publishing process.  Patrick was kindly allowed to speak first, fully knowing the rest of the discussion would come back to charge him like the bull he was.  Patrick, luckily, is a man with a specific area of expertise.  He is a film biographer.  His agent and his publishing house let him submit a list of ideas to write about, they circle one, he does it.  Patrick sees no need for the extra work that goes into maintaining a website, blogging, facebook and twitter, and to him it’s all just that, WORK.  I should tell you that Patrick was pretty honest about not desiring to have it all either.  He makes a decent living for himself and he’s comfortable with that.  He doesn’t actively promote the sales of his books because in his mind it only accounts for about 10% more anyway.  Are you thoroughly depressed or angered yet?

For those of you that are, Josie’s got your back!  Full of biting quips and interjections, she personally forges the way for writers of today to get involved with their audience by allowing the audience to get to know them.  She blogs about things that inspire her and will hopefully inspire her readers.  She tweets, she uses facebook.  If you saw Josie riding through the rough terrain of the open range, her horse would have her newest book branded into its butt (assuming it didn’t harm the horse to do so, she strikes me as an animal lover).  The words ‘author’ and ‘platform’ are common terms in her vocabulary.

Judy is a teacher through and through.  Her opinion may lean strongly to one side more than the other, but she still wants you to play nice with the other kids.  Her experience led her to be in the middle of social media without fully realizing it.  She began in journalism, she was writing articles for parenting magazines, and then blogging, and now it’s just what she does.  The use of social media allowed her to work on her passion, the site www.care2.com, an activist site that helps people find ways to get involved, donate, and stay educated about causes.

Finally, you get to Jim.  Patiently smirking throughout all the banter of this rodeo, he’ll tell you, Yes, you need to be involved with social media, but don’t ask him how to do any of it.  He voices his opinion on his radio show, Sound Opinions, with Greg Kot.  He says writers do need to market themselves because most agents, including his, aren’t going to do it for you.  He has no idea what his agent actually does, and yet he earns 15% of the sales.  I actually got to chat with Jim for awhile before the day started one morning and he was very affable, happy to sign the book of his I’d purchased, and chatted with me about authors to check out and his band, Vortis, a delightful three piece band of “agitainment.”  Jim may not know the ins and out of html code (which for some of us is comforting, raises hand), but he knows the people to get him there and makes himself very available to the public.  (He told me to email him!)

This post may not have answered all your questions about social media, but it shows there’s a broad spectrum of opinions about it, hence the Wild Wild West of Publishing…and Platforms…and Print on Demand…and oh hell, gang, grab a pair of chaps and a lasso, we’re going writing!  I’ll be your host, Jess Witkins (picture Jack Palance with red hair), Perseverance Expert and Social Media Pony Show Captain.  Come along, subscribe.

For more in depth information on using social media check out the Social Media Expert, Kristen Lamb and her book We Are Not Alone.

What questions do you have about social media?  How are you using it or not using it?  What do you wish it was doing that isn’t yet?

The Do Re Mi of Conference Attending

I took the next step this weekend.  I invested in myself, and attended the Madison, Wisconsin Writers Institute Conference.  I got lost in the city with its one-way streets, froze by Lake Mendota in 40 degree weather, and hammed it up with some really great writers.  I love it here!

The conference was exactly what I needed.  The breakout sessions alone gave me all the tips I needed to improve the book I’m working on.  I found some holes in my story, but that’s good, because now I can work on them.  As one attendee put it, “Well, they’ve given us all we need to know to write a successful book, now it’s up to us.”  I tried my best to attend a variety of topics so I could improve my plotting skills, learn about non-fiction, learn about the publishing business today, and along with that how to write query letters and synopses.  There was such a plethora of people I met and am excited to now know.  What I loved about this conference is how many hands on exercises the speakers had us do.  And from that point, it was up to us what we did with that material.  I pushed myself to participate a lot and challenge myself.  So I shared work a few times, I asked smart questions, and I even volunteered for an improv activity.  Jess Witkins, Acting Extraordinaire…  Anyway, I’m so glad I did.  I met more people because they came up to me and told me they loved my voice, what I wrote, and apparently, I’m FABulous at improv.  😉

Lori Devoti

The speakers at the conference came from across the country and were able to speak to a variety of genres/writing styles.  Lori Devoti is a paranormal romance writer who hosted a plotting party at the conference.  It must have been her magic wand waving over me at the conference because I got paired in the best group for our plotting exercise.  We had so much fun talking about our projects and all of us started marketing them for each other.  Which reminds me, I’ve got a theme song to work on…  Ok, back to Lori, she’s amazing!  She talks fast, she’s shows you the basics, and then she puts you to work.  Her workshop on character was also so helpful.  If you’re struggling with any characters in your own works ask yourself these three questions:  What do they love fearlessly?  What haunts them?  What do they think they cannot do? — Now, make them do it.  See what I mean, she’s brilliant.  So simple, and so sound.  Thank you, Lori!

Josie Brown

Josie Brown is a women’s lit fiction writer and HUGE advocate for social media.  I felt good knowing that none of the terms the panels were using about social media were new to me, and I’ll give all that thanks to Kristen Lamb, Social Media Expert!  Kristen, I wrote in your name and blog site on the evaluation sheet as a person to bring to future conferences.  Please come to Wisconsin!  The last panel on sunday discussed the writer’s role in digital media and Josie was so knowledgeable about the importance of creating an author brand before you seek publishing.  I was able to ask some questions and she really gave me some concrete ways to use my blog and  my twitter account and my facebook to get my VOICE out there and she continues to do this with her own blog.  I really appreciated the encouragement.

Ted Weinstein

I chose not to pitch to an agent at this conference.  I’m simply not ready.  My story isn’t developed far enough and I had too many unanswered questions MYSELF that it didn’t make sense to pay for 8 minutes of rejection from someone ELSE.  But Ted Weinstein is the man!  He was one of the agents meeting with writers working on non-fiction books.  If I were ready to pitch my memoirs to an agent, I would want Ted on my side.  Ted sat on panels and did his own session giving writers an inside scoop on what agents are looking for.  His feedback was depressing and honest and invaluable.  And I mean all of that as a high compliment.  He emphasized that as writers, we have to look at this path as a career and be professional about our publishing plans, i.e. how do we plan to market ourselves, because the publishing houses aren’t going to do it.  Not unless you’re writing the next Oprah Book Club Book, but that’s right she’s retiring! Nooooo!  Seriously, if I hadn’t listened to Ted speak I wouldn’t know what to expect when it came time to publish.  For example, ask the agent your pitching to what they’ve recently published?  Don’t you want an agent that is successfully selling people’s books on the market?!  I think Ted is a rare gem in the world of agents, a man who wants to help his writers with their careers.  Careers?  Jess, you mean we could potentially make a living from writing?  *Borrows Lori’s magic wand* Yes, dearest writers, you can feed yourself and your families by writing for a living, you just have to be somebody famous first.  Which takes us right back to Josie, use your blog, your facebook, and your twitter account to show the world YOU.

Are you following me?  No I mean that literally, SUBSCRIBE right now!  I’m not going anywhere!  I just claimed my area of expertise, check it out in my newly edited About page.

Your turn!  What are the areas of writing you are working on in your path to publication?  Are you already published?  Share with us what got you there!  How have you been shaped by other authors, reading them or meeting them?

The Writers’ Bandwagon, RSVP Regrets Only

It’s time for the ultimate mash-up, in the truest sense of the word.  I’ve met so many wonderful writers and bloggers on my Happiness Project journey and I wanted to show my vast love and appreciation for each of you.  They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so in the following post, might I recommend how we can each collaborate together to create a superpower of literary merit.  Let the mash-ups begin!

Example of a literary mash-up.

This whole blogging/writing quest I’m on began with the simple click to a Freshly Pressed blog by Kristen Lamb.  Kristen blogs about social media, author platforms, writing tips, procrastination pixies, and twitter.  Her best selling book, We Are Not Alone, is essentially her years of hard work and love of writing all combined to help make YOU a better writer, and maybe a PUBLISHED writer!  I do not claim to have the writing chops that Kristen does, so my mash-up suggestion to her is that she re-publish her book and call it We Are Not Alone:  Kristen’s Watching; she could add in hundreds, probably thousands of quotes and comments by her readers on how they’re progressing in their writing and editing endeavors only to feel her experienced eyes drawing flies on their pages and pulling that lever on their office chair to make them bump way down and have to start over.  Sounds like a great boot camp right?  And then when you complete her book and your own writing piece, she will appear before you in a sparkly pink dress and tell you that you’ve earned the right to now call your blog Fairy Rainbow Glitter Dreams if you really want to.

Margaret Reyes Dempsey is another published author I know.  Her book, The Benefector, is already quite a suspenseful read, but I know she too has toyed with the idea of a re-write/re-publish version in which The Benefactor is actually a champion wrestler.  Since I’m convinced that Madge (my nickname for her) and I are roommates in a parallel world, I too needed a wrestling name.  I decided on Pain Austen (instead of “Jane” Austen, get it?)  I would like to go on the record as saying The Benefactor vs. Pain Austen would be a gripping read.  Chapter after chapter of roommate wrestlers arguing over the proper way to brew tea, the exact amount of days one may go before changing into clean pajamas, and how much meat (or meat product in theory) is too much for a toddler going on twenty-something?

Writing from Portland, Oregon, my friend Mark details life as a freelance writer.  Always keeping me up to date on Portland quirks and never failing to bring a laugh, I think we have a lot in common.  My suggestion for a mash-up would be Tales from the Pacific Midwest:  From Farmland to Freelance.  It’s the story of two struggling writers who have to overcome regional obstacles like cheese factories at every off road stop and hippy bicyclists demanding strangers to recycle.  Upon completion of the book, you get a mail in rebate for one Voodoo Donut and one glass of milk from a happy Wisconsin cow!

Shhh!  Be quiet, we’re about to intrude on my pal, Hack, from over at The Hack Novelist.  He’s editing.  He needs to focus.  My simple mash-up would be The Happiness Hack Novel Project where two writers ignore everyone and drink their usual coffees (Eh-hem, Hack will have a regular black coffee with dash of cinnamon/world peace in it, and I’d like a green tea latte).  Page after page of fantastic, caffeinated ideas will emit themselves in this book, which may never get finished, but when we die, we’ll have a whole folder of material you can read at our funerals, and subsequent memorials, scholarship fund banquets, and inaugural addresses because we’re kind of a big deal, duh!

My final mash-up for today would be to work with Charles from Mostly Bright Ideas.  I’m incessantly envious over his ability to tell stories.  I would want a job as his assistant or a mini byline in one of his books:  Jess Witkins, Extraordinary Reader.  We could potentially co-author a book called Double Stuff Oreos for the Author’s Soul, in which we each chronicle the sometimes absurd, sometimes genuine moments of our family histories.  He could write about the time he begged to help his dad hose off the driveway and ended up spraying water all over his father, and I could write about the time my dad left me for dead in a snowbank.  Happy times, you know?  Good ol’ published nostalgia!

So that concludes this week’s Writer Wannabe Mash-up!  Send all query letters to Jess Witkins, 1111 Daydreamer Drive, Wishful Thinking, WI. I’ll have to limit my projects to five a week, but sit tight, there’s more to come!

Who are the authors/bloggers you are inspired by?  I’m sure I’ve missed many and I always love a new read!  Happy writing!

And the Oscar for Best Writer Goes to…

Welcome to the 83rd Academy Awards!  If you missed the second most watched television event of the year, here are the highlights!

The hosts, James Franco, staring off into space, and Anne Hathaway, giggling so much and trying to be slapstick though no one appreciated it.

Melissa Leo wins the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in "The Fighter" and curses on stage in her enthusiasm!

Presenter Kirk Douglas takes his sweet time on stage hitting on Anne Hathaway and Melissa Leo, who coincidentally walked off stage with his cane, while he walked with his hand holding her very "tightly".

Colin Firth made every woman's dream come true by winning the Best Actor role in the same film that took Best Picture, The King's Speech!

The food I made for my Oscar Party! Cucumber stuffed cherry tomatoes, bacon wrapped apricots with smoky honey barbecue, and a wine marinated antipasto platter!

I wish you could read this napkin better. It says, "Dinner is Poured."

The day went by very quickly, as did my whole weekend.  Amidst the rushed grocery shopping, dish cleaning, counter wiping, gift assembling, and cooking *whew* I was able to completely restart my story, beginning the book in a totally different place and adding more dialogue.  Woohoo!  I read the first page to my mom and best friend and asked for feedback on whether or not it hooked them.  Generally, they both really liked it, but did give me one place I could embellish the relationship between characters more intensely and that was appreciated.  So that gives me exactly one hour after work tonight to madly edit the first page, print it out, and mail it in to the writing contest at the Writers Institute conference I’ll be attending in April.  Nothing like a little deadline madness to tell your procrastination pixies to buzz off!  If they’re flying around your work space, please take time to check out Kristen Lamb’s Blog, she has helped me immensely with realistic goal setting, hooking your reader, and gives FREE advice on what to watch for in your story that may make an editor pass on your project.

Since I’m still in a celebrating mood from my Oscar party, “Cheers to Writing Weekends!” that also involve your BFF making asparagus soup, squash risotto with gorgonzola, and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes and your BF helping chop blocks of cheese and doing the dishes!  Yay!

Monday  Mash-up:

I actually had some time to get back into reading blogs by you wonderful fellow writers!  Here are my favorites from the past week!

Jillian sparked up a great debate on the mash-up of classic literature with sci-fi themes.  What do you think about this new wave of publications?  Check out her post, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer Seriously?

Discovered through Freshly Pressed, C C Lester, had a great post on the times she argued over whether she was a writer, or an author, or neither at all.  In the end, it was having a loyal reader that meant the most to her, but she’s certainly struck a chord with many of us so check out her post, So am I an Author Yet?

Wendy Matheson just kicked off Women’s History Month for me in her entertaining post, Strength, Thy Name is Woman! It details many inventions that are often accredited to men, but were actually made by women.

For your laughing pleasure, The Hack Novelist writes a letter to the guy holding a conference call in a crowded Starbucks cafe’.  I think he eloquently pens what we would all be thinking.  8 Pages and the Conference Call

I’ve also been following the very funny Mark, from Mark My Words as he battles the unemployment offices, takes on the world of freelance writing, and has to fire his maid and buy clothes at a second hand store.  Well… you’ll see.  Champagne Wishes on a Sparkling Water Budget

Happy writing and reading, friends!  Tell me about your weekends!  What writing goals did you accomplish?  If you found some great blogs this week, what are they?  I’d love to cheer you on and check out the posts you love!

Oh Captain, My Captain

Robin Williams as Professor Keating, or "Oh Captain, My Captain"

Have you ever seen the movie The Dead Poet’s Society?  I love that film.  Growing up feeling estranged from my small town upbringing and a writing future that looked bleak and penniless, it meant the world to me to have a few teachers throughout the years that encouraged passion for writing and creativity.  In the film Robin Williams plays an english teacher who introduces his students, impressionable young men with a thirst for freedom and newness, to the Dead Poet’s Society.  The society is a secret group that meets to read poetry about everything raw in life.

With a helpful nudge from fellow blogger, CM Stewart, I was given a quick review of what my blog says about me as a platform, or writer’s profile.  “Close to Home” she said, and urged me to expound on my About page and explain why I panicked the moment college graduation started ticking down.  Here goes.

I wanted to be a writer since I was three.  My first story, entitled “Ho-Ho and the Missing Key” was a story about a bear named Ho-Ho who loses a key.  It ended with him finding the key, in case you were curious.  My parents were always supportive of my writing endeavors and praised me as their gifted youngest child.  Now and again, as I got older, my father would be pouring his morning glass of orange juice and fill his cup with flax seed, stare up at me and ask, “What are you going to do for money?”  Sitting on the counter top staring out the same kitchen windows I had for years, swinging my sock feet over the cupboard door my mother repeatedly told me not to do as it would break the hinges, but it never did, I shrugged.  I’ll figure it all out. You all know what I thought.  I’ll be so brilliant the agents will clamor at my door and beg to publish my work.  I’m going to be the next Adrienne Rich of poetry, the next Sloane Crosley of satire, the next best thing to hit Hollywood!

My middle and high school years included some amazing literature teachers who read my scribbles and said “bravo!”  In fact, I got the greatest written recommendation letter for a college scholarship I’ve ever read from one those teachers.  She described me as having an arsenal of strength.  Who wouldn’t be flattered?  This teacher had also stood up for me and spoken to the principal about my senior exit interview.  My interviewer was a retired Doctor Hartwick.  He was a tall, midwest bellied man who always wore a tie.  He had combed wavy gray hair and typically read Bible passages at the Catholic church I grew up in.  Going through my portfolio, he skimmed right over all my extra writing samples, my forensics awards, my extracurricular activity participation and told me I didn’t have enough math examples.  And that writing was fine for free time, but what was my fallback plan?  When I told my teacher about how I was grilled about making a better realistic choice for my college plan, she went straight to the principal, “You don’t tell a top 20 honor student that her dream is unrealistic!”  Dr. Hartwick was never asked to help with senior exit interviews again.

In college, I found similar professors who encouraged my out of the box project delivery.  Instead of papers, I often wrote and performed spoken word pieces.  I became involved with performance pedagogy groups and worked on a few literary journals.  Hell, I was a student slave in the English department copy room, making copies of all the professors’ class assignments and reading!

My senior year I joined the company I currently manage for.  It’s a higher end retail department store, and I began in customer service.  Happy in my new job, I was drawn to their service manager position, which focused on answering the customer issues on the floor.  I spoke with the store manager several times that I’d be interested in doing it.  I hadn’t made any plans after graduation, stalling at the time unsure of how life would affect the relationship I was in and suddenly unsure of what I wanted to do with my life anyway.  A month before graduation and I seriously considered not going through with it and changing my major to business management!  Chaos broke loose.  I was interviewing with Americorp, I had bookmarked the peacecorp site on my computer, and talked to my boss again saying please please please.  Obviously, you know where I ended up.  I was given a full time sales position to learn the floor before moving a few months later into the service lead, and few months later into the sales manager position I currently am in.

I go back and forth remembering my decision making process after graduation.  I am currently in a well paying job that is allowing me to pay off my student loans much faster than my siblings were able.  And I hadn’t wanted to go to grad school right away anyway.  My panic about what field to study made adding more loan payments on while being unsure of the course seem like a bad idea.  So, I decided I’ll work a few years and then decide what and where I really want to be.

The problem, which now brings you all up to speed, was that two going on three years have passed and I miss writing.  I wasn’t doing it anymore.  And this blog, which I started to document my return to words, has been difficult to maintain regularly, but feels like the best thing going on in my life right now.  So, here I am, talking about things “close to home,” sharing stories, memoirs, and support for anyone making a teensy weensy change or a monumental move in their life.  If your ambitions are in writing like myself, I highly recommend you check out Kristen Lamb and her book We Are Not Alone.  She is just one of the many wise men I am meeting on my happiness project.

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