Tag Archives: social media

Join Me for the #WomenKickAss Twitter Party!

Hey Dudes and Dudettes,

I missed you all last week!

I was pooooooooped after three nights of improv shows, and my parents were in town, so needless to say, I rested.

The improv shows were a blast and I’m looking forward to continuing on. I had no idea how physically challenging and tiring improvisation actually is. When I looked at my knees on Sunday, they were covered in purpley-brown bruises that still haven’t gone away. I think it’s because I spent my weekend as a guinea pig, a circus monkey, and a hunchback. Basically, if you need a creature that crouches, I’m your girl!

(Pretty sure that’s not how famous works.) *shrugs*

Here’s a few pictures from the show, courtesy Chuck Charbeneau.

improv circus monkey improv judging faces improv menopause opera

Anyway, here’s to the next exciting adventure coming our way! 

I’ve joined forces with the Artemis Film Festival and kindred spirit, August McLaughlin, the host and creator of Girl Boner for the #WomenKickAss Twitter Party!

We’re working to end sexual shame by creating dialogue. August and Dr. Megan Fleming will be leading a non-explicit Q & A, and I’ll be hosting Sex Trivia with prizes from Good Clean Love.

For example:

What body part besides the genitals and breasts enlarges during sexual contact? 

Any guesses? It’s the inner nose. It’s made of the same erectile tissue as the penis. 

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It’s all happening this Thursday, October 29th at 7:00pm PST. Just follow along using the hashtag #WomenKickAss.

You can find out more about the event and listen to August’s podcast free here. I make a cameo at the end. 🙂

But if you need yet another reason to attend, here’s me personally inviting you to twitter party with us.

So what do you say? You in? 

Sign up for the party on Facebook if you like too! 

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Monday Mashup: The Pee Your Pants Edition

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Road trippin in style. Starbucks + Audiobook = the Good Life!

Hello my little Lulubells! 

(Did you know that’s what my mother calls me? How embarrassing.) 

I’m playing hooky and off at a writer’s retreat in Madison this week. Random tweets and awkward photos soon headed your way! (soooo, there’s THAT to look forward to.) 😉

To keep you company, I’ve compiled some of my favorite funny posts from the month. Happy reading!

(OMG, I can hear you SNORT from here!)

*****

Jenny Lawson of The Bloggess is dealing with Mother Nature in her post, Texas is Trying to Kill Us. Worth a read just to find out what a fox scream sounds like. But there are also mountain lions and howler monkeys and power outages.

The Bloggess gets a second nod this mashup because of Turning Into a Cat Lady Literally. Literally the greatest reason for photoshop right here.

Aussa Lorens of Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy. is married now, and that means she can blog about sex without judgement! It’s well worth the wait. Feast your eyes on these hilarious tips for setting the mood.

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the germ-infested kids who eat mud on their bread. My pal, Andrea Culletto, blogs about the perils of dinnertime and getting her kids to wash their hands in Ew. Gross. 

Darla from She’s A Maineiac hates Twitter. Which is sad, because I love Twitter. However her fake tweets in Tales of a Twitter Nothing are pretty fantastic. I think she should actually tweet them. LOL

Kristen Lamb – buttkicker of writers and social media guru – tells it like it is in You Might Be a Writer If

There’s no such thing as stupid questions, but Jenny Hansen has some useless ones for you in Squirrel Underpants and Other Useless Links.

Julie Heiss Scagell is blogging at The Indie Chicks with The Most Annoying Things Your Co-Workers Say. We all know someone who says these phrases. Heck, it might even be you! Stop it already.

From the writer behind This Is Not That Blog comes the enchanting stick figure run down of what happens when you’re trapped in unnecessary small talk with a stranger, Good News for People Who Hate Boring News.

Because this is the Pee Your Pants Edition, ever been intercom’d while literally peeing in a public bathroom? Meet Susie and her Insane Circumstance.

And lastly, because I too kind of hate bicycles, I leave you with I Need a Bicycle Like a Fish Needs a Man by Barbara from the cleverly named blog, And By That I Mean Vagina. Fuck bicycles. There, I said it.

Happy reading everyone! 

“Laughter is an instant vacation.” ~ Milton Berle

Alternative Song Lyrics About Writing

I am officially making pathetic look cool. Yet again! In addition to my stellar new blog header which took me hours to make – DON’T JUDGE! – I’ve really out-cooled myself here.

Because now I’m singing on Twitter.

True story. I’ve been writing some pretty awesome alternative song lyrics lately. And it all began when I started cheering on Diana Beebe (@DianaBeebeTX). You see, I’ve been partaking in the virtual kool-aid that is twitter wordsprints like #wordmongering and #junowrimo and #1k1h and all that rapid writing has left me pretty batty. And that’s when I start sending out tweets like this…

Then I brought back this little ditty from the 90’s:

@DianaBeebeTX I thought of another song for you! Eh-hem.. Just wanna sit and write do do do do All Day All Night! Just wanna sit AND WRITE!

— Jess Witkins (@jesswitkins) June 10, 2013

And then there’s the classic jock jams special:

@DianaBeebeTX Thinking of doing a whole number to: stomp stomp clap, stomp stomp clap – WE WILL WE WILL WRITE MORE! – stomp stomp clap 😀

— Jess Witkins (@jesswitkins) June 13, 2013

WHAT COULD BE NEXT?!

Follow me on Twitter and find out… @jesswitkins

Join in! Leave an alternative song lyric! About writing, or anything, really!

Shake your pens! Watch ya self!

Shake your pens! Show me whatchu wanna write!

Guilty Pleasures Mash Up: Read ‘Em, Fools!

Time for a little Weekend Madness – Mash Up Style!  Feast yourselves on these ballers of blogging!

Writing – Because it’s easier to write about writing than to actually just write.  Or is that just me?

Avoid every writer’s nightmare with tips from Jody Hedlund in Why I Don’t Get Writer’s Block and How You Can Avoid It Too.

Looking for some inspiration?  Jenny Hansen shared What Lights Your Creative Spirit on Fire? with advice from Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees author) and Forbes magazine about what creative people need to be successful.

Ever read a book where the dialogue or words take you right out of the story?  Susie Lindau rants her best in Do You Curse Brightly? – a blog that examines the usefulness and purpose of swear words in our books.

Tawna Fenske wrote possibly the funniest blog evah about making believable characters and relating it to a guy making spinach.  YOU HAVE TO READ The Domineering Male with Spinach and Dish Soap.

Interested in learning more about audiobooks?  Stacy Juba interviews Award-winning voice artist, Nicole Poole, for The Ins and Outs of Narrating Audiobooks.

Exciting news!!!  Ellie Ann has released the cover of her new book, The Silver Sickle and she’s sharing it with us!  Check it out in The Revealing.

Ode To Social Media Tips:

Lisa Hall-Wilson guest blogged at Jenny Hansen’s with Facebook Tricks for Better Engagement and My. Mind. Was. Blown.  I really hadn’t been watching any of this, but she gave us a cool easy challenge to consider how we’re sharing links on Facebook and what exactly we want those links to do!  Must read for those building an author platform!

And if Twitter is your thing, Marcy Kennedy guest blogged at Kristen Lamb’s with The Proper Care and Feeding of Hashtags.  Don’t get thrown in Twitter jail!  Read Marcy’s tips!

Nina Badzin posted on Kveller.com the amazing plea Let’s All Stop “Replying All” to Every Email.  Sing it, Sister!

Life Lessons – Growing pains mean wisdom gains!

Do you struggle with the “meantime”?  That time of working out of/working towards something?  Kristen Lamb shared a life lesson she learned that hit home with many of you in To Find Success, Learn to Embrace the Meantime.  Another Must Read.

If you’re not reading August McLaughlin’s blog, you’re MISSING OUT!  She’s one of the most honest, genuine, supportive female writers out there!  True to form, August shared another heart-baring blog in Singing Naked: Honesty on Stage, about growing through vulnerable moments.  Beautiful voice – inside and out!

I bet no one has ever told you THINK NEGATIVE before!  Rachelle Gardner shares the smarts about goal achieving in Try “Thinking Negative” for a Change.

Entertainment and Smut – The stuff you won’t tell your boss you like, but secretly gossip with the secretary over…

Tiffany A. White gives the master rundown of Season 4 of The Vampire Diaries and its soon to be spin off, The Originals, from the CW network.  Death and Evolution with The Vampire Diaries and The Originals

Remember the books you read as a kid and picked out what character was you?  Sherry Isaac brings us Tribute to Trixie with Author Gloria Richard, sharing her love of the Trixie Belden books.

Got a favorite James Bond? What about the original?  Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes share The Original James Bond – Ian Fleming.  Fascinating guy!

The Funnies – Read these for your weekend funny bone!

Ironic Mom, the Comic Queen, shared You Know You’re An Optimist if You

Miss Snarky Pants is sharing her best “Fictionary” – a play on words, often pun-like, to make new meanings and she’s got some good ones in Fictionary:  Preventing the Extinction of my Muffin Top.

Julie Glover had me snickering over her Wednesday Words series in Laugh With Me: It’s Punny!  Go pick your favorite pun!

Myndi Shafer shared in her Quick Giggle series Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.  Should this one go under Social Media tips?

(photo courtesy Creative Commons – Mrs Inman)

Happy Reading!

The Redhots: So Hot, So Not Review of 2012

SAMSUNGHappy New Year Everyone!  With each new year comes hope and beginnings, but it’s always fun to look back at the past year to remember it’s highs and lows.

Well, today The Redhots are saving you the trouble!  We’re here to report what we think was SO HOT and also what was SO NOT
for the year 2012.

The Redhots – SO HOT!

  • Using Social Media To Tell You Who You Are!  No point in years of journaling and asking yourself those hard life questions, “Who am I?”  Now there’s an app for that!  It’s called Social Me and you can use it too!  Jenny Hansen first introduced it to me, and you can check it out by clicking here!  What it does is analyze your Facebook account, for as long as you’ve had it, and compile that info to tell you about what your profile is telling everyone else!

zeebly.com

Here’s a synopsis of what Social Me said about me:  Jess uses more words per sentence and yet fewer periods than 94% of people.  Jess is also more optimistic and uses longer words than 99% of people.  Jess is extremely humorous, but not educational, not even a little bit.  Most of her friends are between the ages of 24-59, and they like when Jess posts about South Korea, fairy tales, and LL Cool J.

Without Social Me, I would’ve never known that I’m guilty of writing extremely long run-on sentences with very little punctuation, if any, because I must have the lung span of an elephant and an elephant never forgets…to listen to LL Cool J.  

I also learned that 99% of you must be very sad and have no way of articulating it.  Forgive me, ‘articulating’ means:  You no words have.  Feel baaaaad.  Perhaps you might be happier if you listened to more LL Cool J. 

And they say I’m not educational!

  • Debut Authors Hitting Your Shelves! – So many great authors launched their first books this past year!  There was Tiffany A. White, Catie Rhodes, Myndi Shafer, August McLaughlin, Leanne Shirtliffe, David Walker, Angela Orlowski-Peart, and many others I know I’m forgetting and don’t mean to.  But one author was the first to be featured with the Redhots, and that’s Fabio Bueno and his release of Wicked Sense!

WickedSense.ebookcover.FabioBueno

  • They Made A Movie About Male Dancers! – It was a year of guilty pleasure films, and of my favorites, was Magic Mike.  Based on some stories Channing Tatum knew while he worked as a dancer, he and some other favorite men:  Matthew McConaughey, Joe Manganiello, Alex Pettyfer, and Adam Rodriguez showcased their best dance moves for a story with slim plotline, but all the right rising action.   (Shameful, I know, but I couldn’t resist!)
     

The Redhots – SO NOT!

50 Shades of Black and White:  A Biblical Response to 50 Shades of Grey – I just really hope it includes the phrase from my Catholic school days of “petting is a no-no.”  Careful now, Jesus is watching you…and he thinks you’re a slut.

Fifty Shades of Gray Matter – Same story told with zombies!  Now, someone tell me how this works.  If you tie up your zombie lover, won’t their limbs just rip right off?  Who needs a riding crop when you can use your own arm?!

Fifty Shades of Chicken – Told from the point of view an overheated fowl (does that mean it’s fried), the book contains photos of erotically placed birds.  Quote:  “What are the safe words, Chicken?’ ‘Golden,’ I mumble, ‘if I’m approaching doneness.’ ‘And?’ he prods…  ‘Black, if I’m in danger of drying out.”

Fifty Shades of Mr. Darcy – Interweaving the classic Jane Austen tale with the 50 Shades book itself, we are introduced to Lizzy Steele and Mr. Darcy’s “Blue Broom Cupboard of Seriously Kinky Sh*t.”  It is a truth universally acknowledged…that a man in possession of good leather boots, won’t be riding just his pony.  

Fifty Shades of Silver Hair and Socks – Flipping the table, so to speak, it is an old silver haired blogger who wears argyle socks that is turned on by a young entrepreneur woman.  Be careful, old man, this lady comes with baggage!

I almost want to change my answer, maybe the 50 Shades parodies can be part of SO HOT!

  • The Jersey Shore Cast – vh1.com

    Reality TV and Lindsay Lohan – Why is it considered fun to watch marathons of Jersey Shore?  All they do is drink, get in fights, and date one another!  It’s like Dawson’s Creek was abducted by aliens and they came back with hair extensions, a bartender’s manual, and Ugg boots.  Have at it, kiddos!  And while we’re at it, here’s your own beach house too!  Throw in the Kardashians, Teen Moms 1 and 2, and all the Real Housewives!  Don’t even get me started on Lohan!  She and her parents are so messed up!  She makes Britney Spears’ melt down look like a trip to the ice cream shop!

  • KFC’s Chicken and Their Customer Service – Did you hear about the kid who thought he ate brain at KFC?  Ok, this technically happened the first week in January 2013, but it’s definitely a SO NOT!  He snapped a photo of this gross chicken wing and posted it on social media, because that’s what consumers can do now.  Of course, millions were disgusted and how did KFC respond?  By reporting back to consumers that though they haven’t inspected the actual item, it appears from the photo to be a kidney that wasn’t removed, and not a brain after all!  No health risk was made, and they offered the 19 year old kid coupons for more KFC!!!  To bring back a phrase from the 90’s, that’s wack!

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Now head to Marcia’s blog to continue reading about what the Redhots thought was SO HOT and SO NOT in 2012!

It’s your turn to share!  What trends and topics of 2012 did you think were SO HOT and SO NOT! 

But first, please pick your favorite topics from the poll below to let Marcia and I know what you’d most love us to blog about this year!  You can select as many topics as you like and feel free to share more thoughts and ideas in the comments box!  We’ll see you there!

What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About the Publishing One, Part 2

Hello and welcome back music lovers and readers!  We’re continuing our chat about the music industry and what we can learn from it in terms of the publishing field.  Missed out on Part 1?  No fear!  Click here!

What’s our focus today?

Social Media in the Music Industry

But first, meet our band!

TUGG:  Andrew Hughes-Vocals/Guitar, Joe Gantzer-Guitar/Keyboard, Jake McLees-Bass, and Ben Rohde-Drums

(Excerpt from their California Tour DVD – filmed and edited by Rob Born, Resident Cameraman, literally…He told me I’m his favorite roommate!)  *grins*

Here them play!  

And see more mustaches.

Bradley Was a DJ

Lovers Rock

Like the tunes?  You can win both songs and more by commenting on today’s post!  Chances improve by commenting on Part 1 or tweeting both posts!  Winner receives a FREE copy of TUGG’s full album:

Come Sunrise

Social Media:  The Why’s, the What’s In It For Me, and its Wonders (fans!)

Jess:  There are many positive effects surrounding e-publishing:  readers can check out excerpts of your book before buying, cost is less overall, authors earn more (on average), receipt of the product is instant.  But all these advancements mean we market and perform differently.  Book clubs and book bloggers have become a widely watched group of people because their reviews are now driving book sales.  Do you think the impact on music sales or concert attendance is as driven by audience at this time?

Andy:  Yes I do.  The audience is driving the boat.  We’re an independent band so we can’t book a tour on the promise or premise that we’ll sell out the venue.  The promoters and venues have to trust that we have the audience reach or the potential to reach the audience in that market.  When we get to a point within a market that we know we’ll be successful I think it changes.  We control our own destiny a little bit more and then it becomes our responsibility to grow that market and make sure we are doing a good job of getting our products into their hands.

Blogging for authors has become a way for the writer to interact with his readers.  We can get to know one another by commenting and sharing personal stories.  In what ways does the band outreach to its listeners?

We’re constantly doing Social Media and meeting our friends/fans.  When we meet folks at shows we always try and get connected with them on a social media platform or exchange numbers so we can text them.  Anyway that we can keep the conversation open and let them know when we’ll be back in their town.  Our audience, which become our friends is the backbone of everything we do.  When we go to a new market, our goal is simple.  Make at least 1 new friend on this night and in this city.  If we can at the very least do that we’re successful.  The second part of that equation is that hopefully and usually that 1 friend brings a friend the next time.  So if we do our job well and keep in touch with the first friend, hopefully everytime we come back to that city our crowd grows outward from that one fan.  Then you start having more and more little groups that just keep growing.  Honestly, those are the folks that year after year are who we put on our guest-list when we play, that original friend we made on our first or second time through a city.

When we go to a new market, our goal is simple.  Make at least 1 new friend on this night and in this city.

We also have found it to be important to keep sharing our music and ideas with our friends.  Sites like Bandcamp and Jam’s Space, and YouTube have been a  great way for us to keep offering our true friends/fans incentives, free music, etc.

L to R: Andrew Hughes, Ben Rohde, Jake McLees; Center: Joe Gantzer

What’s the best way a fan can support the band?

The best way for someone to support us is to friend us, like us, follow us, share us, etc on Social Media and our website http://www.tuggmusic.com.  From there, buying our albums and merchandise from us at our shows is the best way to monetarily support the band.  If you are not able to get to a show then buying and sharing our albums on things like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify, etc are also solid ways to show support.  We’re all about sharing.  In our industry sharing is truly caring.  If we can get 50 people in 1 day to share our Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/tuggmusic) in a few days and we get 100 more “likes” it means everything.

Growing fans is like oxygen for artists and performers.  We thrive on our audience’s excitement.  With technology’s advancements for instant download of a book or album, they’re also much hungrier for “the next big thing” that much quicker.  Many writers have released novellas and flash fiction pieces to maintain presence in the reader’s mind.  Do you think the same process applies in music with the increase in singles and EP’s?

Yes definitely.  We’ve talked about this as a band and we’re actually in the middle of releasing music for this very reason.  We live in a “what have you done for me lately” society and it is no different being a musician/artist.  As you said, everyone is looking for the next big release or next big something constantly.  We were releasing 1 album a year for our first 3-4 years and we feel like we’re behind.  We’re actually going to release some tracks that we recorded around the time we did our last EP Home Brew as it’s own EP on iTunes digitally.  We will begin to record our next full length album at the end of this month.  We figured that doing this release now will give us a little room and space to release the full length album on our own terms as far as a timetable.  It’s nice to be able to put something out and then put your head down to work on the next when the rest of the world is just starting to digest that release…..at least that is our plan.

How has social media changed the number of your followers?  Do you think it has impacted your music sales?

Yes it completely has.  Our last 3 albums have gone to the Top 50 Chart on iTunes Reggae.  Our last album Home Brew went to #2 and it is directly because of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter in that order.  It has also changed the way in which we can tour and hit markets when we play out.  Because of Facebook and Twitter we are able to pack in places consistently and keep our overhead lower.  We don’t have to spend a whole lot of money on advertisements but we can still bring people into venues so it’s a definite win and something that has changed the way we do business for the better.

[Social media] has also changed the way in which we can tour and hit markets when we play out.

The writing community is full of wonderful, talented individuals.  But the act of writing is a solitary career.  How would your life be different as a solo musician?  What has the band meant to you personally and professionally?

My life as a solo musician would be a completely new experience.  I started music as part of a band and I have always been a part of a group.  I learned guitar so that I could musically contribute to the group dynamic.  For me, all I know about music is about being with a group of people that collaborate to create.  I don’t know if I could be a “Solo Musician”.  I think I need that group dynamic around me to feel comfortable with what I do.  It’s easier to know your place, what to do.  I know how I fit into the group and what my contributions must be.  I’ve also been lucky, especially with the lineup now to be surrounded by some of the most talented people I’ve ever known, so I try and be like a sponge most of the time….musically speaking.  A lot of my learning and growth as a musician and a songwriter is done like that.  Soaking up a little of the sheer greatness that’s constantly moving around me.  Besides the technical aspect of creating music with a group I will have to say that being in this band, and hopefully to anyone else that does what I do…being in a band is one of the greatest feelings you can know.  You form a brothership and there is this sense of comradery that I can’t really explain and there’s is really nothing else like it…

Truth:  Worst thing about being on tour.

Missing my wife and daughters.

Best thing about being on tour.  And where was your favorite show played so far?

Creating experiences through music and getting to share those with my best friends.  Also, the people we get to meet and some of the sights we get to see.

Favorite show: House of Blues Chicago with The Dirty Heads on St. Patrick’s Day (Sold Out)

What do you predict is next for the music industry?  Any wishes for the next 10 years?

I don’t know what’s next for the music industry other than it’s going to change, and it’s going to happen quick.  
I think that as far as format (Mp3 downloads on iTunes, etc) it will stay generally the way it is for a while but the delivery method is going to get crazy.  So there, that is my prediction.  Something huge is going to happen with the Delivery Format of music.  Like we’ll get into our shower and the shower head is going to ask us if we want to download the latest Katy Perry Record or something, haha.

My wishes for the next 10 years is to be able to continue doing what I am doing and hopefully being able to grow it into something that me and the band can comfortably do full-time.

Andy, thank you again for  contributing your thoughts on what it takes to stay competitive and smart in our industries!  Social media is everywhere now, but you have to use it wisely to be successful, and TUGG is definitely exhibiting some smart business moves and growing a fan base from your interactions!  Much success to all of you!

TUGG’s official website

TUGG on Facebook

TUGG on Twitter

Got a question for TUGG?  Share an opinion on social media?  What’s your favorite medium?  I think mine’s Twitter…which is funny cuz I can’t write short blog posts to save my life!

Happy Weekend Everyone!  See you in the comments section!

What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About the Publishing One, Part 1

I live with a musician.  And over the years, Joe and I have had several conversations about the similarities in progression of the music industry with the publishing one.  It wasn’t all that long ago that the buzz topic was programs like Napster and then i-Tunes changing the face of music.  Instant download isn’t only for e-books.  Audiences can buy a single song versus the whole album, and now many writers are letting readers download free chapters for a taste of their books.

To discuss the matter further, I hounded my boyfriend’s band’s lead singer to share his take on the music industry and the similarities it has to the publishing one.  We had such a good time discussing the industries we work in, I had to split the interview into 2 parts.  Tune in Friday for Part 2.

And a quick announcement to say the winners of my Mix Tape Blog Swap Music Giveaway are:  

Julie Glover, Dawn Hobbie Sticklen, and Renee Schuls-Jacobson

Congrats, Ladies!

Meet TUGG.

L to R: Ben Rohde, Andy Hughes, Joe Gantzer, and Jake McLees

TUGG, apart from being four of the grooviest guys I know, is an original Wisconsin reggae band.  Our state may be known for snowstorms, cheese curds, and “Midwest Nice” attitudes, but these boys can still jam their original reggae – ska style tunes on topics of summer, friendship, and love.  Here’s their latest music video!  (fun fact: It was filmed in my house.)

Meet Andy.

Andy Hughes is the lead singer and writer for TUGG.  And I’ve gotta say, he’s a writer I respect.  He takes what he does seriously and exemplifies the hard work that goes into it.  He is one of the most humble people I know, and never takes his own talent for granted.  It was an absolute pleasure conducting this interview with him.  Now see for yourselves:

How many years have you been playing music professionally?

In terms of getting paid to perform music I have been doing it since I was about 17/18, so just more than 13 years.

How have you seen the music industry change over those years?

The biggest and most noticeable change is one that I think anyone my age could identify with and that is the shift from “physical” to “digital”. When I first started booking shows I had to actually send a “Press Packet” which would contain a demo CD, a printed and bound band bio, stickers and anything else that looked professional.  When we did early tours we would print out directions and then put them in a binder.  I can remember how amazing it was when we got our first navigation device in the van.  Now, whomever is driving is just using the navigation on their own cell phone.  Napster was just hitting when TUGG started in 2001 so in the early years selling our music digitally was not an option but we knew that it was going to be the way, so to speak.  Nowadays, we have 1 site on our website: www.tuggmusic.com/about that serves the same purpose that those packets used to.  In those days I would have to send out around 100-200 of those physical packets which probably weighed close to 2 lbs to schedule a 2-3 month tour.  It’s pretty crazy to think that now when we are booking or once we’ve booked a show we send the promoter 1 link that has everything they need on 1 web page ready for them to download.

Andy

In what ways do you try to practice your craft?

I am a writer so that is what I am constantly doing.  There’s no real format that I stick to when I write.  I tend to leave little notebooks, pieces of paper, backs of bills around with words, ideas, characters, etc.  Music and songwriting have always been a vehicle for me to express my words.  I am also constantly playing my guitar and trying to write songs.  With songwriting I have a mixed approached and a few different types of processes but they both involve trying to shape music around words that I have written.  The band itself also practices between 4-5 hrs a week on top of the shows that we play.

Yah, I’m aware of that, it happens in my basement!  Who are your music idols?

The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Tupac, Tim Armstrong, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, The Specials, Nirvana, The Misfits, Operation Ivy, Sublime, Toots and the Maytals, Jeff Buckley, Desmond Dekker, “Scratch” Lee Perry, The Doors.……..to name just a few!

Joe

As writers, we hope for book reviews and blurbs from our favorite authors.  Their advice and approval drives us to keep writing.  What musicians/bands have you worked with that have best exemplified support in the music industry?  What advice has been the most valuable?

Working with Brad from The Ziggens has formed one of those relationships in which there’s a lot of respect and you could say that I look for his approval from time to time on music or decisions I’m making (especially at the time that we were recording with him).  Some of the best advice I received from Brad was to,  “sing less words and say more”,  which is easier said than done.  Josh Heinrichs is another person that we all really respect and has really supported us by bringing us into his hometown and putting us in front of his fans…opening his home to us.  Josh and his wife Kaytee are some of the nicest people in the world and have welcomed us into their lives and home more than once.  Receiving a “good job”, or “awesome set” from Josh means a heck of a lot!

Sing less words and say more.

Jake

In the last 10 years, the publishing industry has radically changed.  E-book sales and self publishing are a valuable option for writers.  Similarly, the music industry has changed from programs like Napster to I-Tunes.  And almost everyone has a portable device like an ipod or their phone allowing them to be plugged in all the time.  What changes have you, as a musician, made to stay in touch with the evolving music industry?

We’ve been lucky enough to really grow up in this new digitally charged Music industry.  Napster is the reason I was able to find bands and have immediate access to their music so I was taught or self-learned from that moment to make sure that I as an artist was plugged into the digital landscape and stay current with the changes that are constantly shifting.  I think some of the biggest game changers have been iTunes, Facebook, and YouTube.  Facebook is literally an online community and it’s readily set up to help you as an artist connect with people that want to associate with you and be your “friend”.  The idea of getting “likes” for your band is one of the first things you’ll notice people will say when talking about a band.  YouTube has been one of those unique platforms in which the truly “unknown” can become overnight sensations.  To a certain degree it’s the last real frontier for discovering the unknowns without being a person that is out in clubs and dive bars scouring for undiscovered talent.  We’ve just always made sure we’ve stayed current on technology.  We make sure that it works for us, because not everything does and the feeling that you have to do everything is overwhelming.  We’re putting QR codes on all of our stuff (posters, stickers, flyers) that people can scan for 10 free songs, we’ve had a lot of success with our Music Videos on YouTube, and we always try and make sure we make as big a splash as possible when we release music.  We always go for those big release days on iTunes because we know how important that can be.

We make sure that it works for us, because not everything does and the feeling that you have to do everything is overwhelming.

Ben

And yet, it remains a dream for many writers to be traditionally published.  There is still a stigma that a large publishing firm carries more authentication and respect to the work than that of a self published writer.  What are your thoughts on the various options musicians have for record deals now?

I think it is more difficult and far less romantic for bands to get “signed” or be offered “recording contracts” now.  The day and age of Artist Development is gone.  The big record companies are seeking the bands/performers that can give them the fastest turn around.  If you look at shows like American Idol and The Voice I think it really captures where the Mainstream Music Industry is today.  The big recording companies want people that can go live on a major network TV station 1 night and by the next morning can have a Top 10 song on iTunes.  They’re not looking for bands that they intend to spend time and money developing into strong touring/performing/recording acts which is really what most bands need to go to that next level.  To me, what it gives you is a very fleeting limelight where there is not much staying power.  I think that in all industries we want the authentication of the most known and formal entities.  However, for the music industry now I think bands like us realize that you have to take your own driver’s seat until there comes along a person or company that you really feel will do all aspects of driving your figurative bus better than you, because remember, you’re now paying someone else to do what you used to do for free.

You have to take your own driver’s seat until there comes along a person or company that you really feel will do all aspects of driving your figurative bus better than you, because remember, you’re now paying someone else to do what you used to do for free.

Thank you, Andy, for sharing your thoughts on the music industry with us! 

Tune in this Friday for Part 2!  And partake in the fabulous giveaway of TUGG’s cd, Come Sunrise

Leave a comment for your chance to win! 

Double your chance by tweeting this post with the hashtag #TUGGmusic.

Want more TUGG before then?

TUGG’s official website

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What do you think?  Does the music industry offer us a comparison of what’s to come for publishing?

Kait Nolan is Cuckoo for Cookie Dough

Welcome to another bandit version of Guilty Pleasures Friday!  Taking over my blog today is the amazingly-mostly-glutton-free Kait Nolan.  But she has one little guilty pleasure after all…  Tell us about it, Kait!

*****

(thaimedicalnews.com)

I have a confession to make.  When Jess asked me to write a post about my guilty pleasures, I immediately said yes.  And then when I sat down to write it…I couldn’t think of a thing.  Not that I don’t have pleasures in life—I just don’t consider any of them guilty.  I feel like they are all well deserved.  I exercise while watching the Food Network instead of going off and making everything I’m drooling over.  Reading is NEVER guilty and always well merited.  Chocolate is a necessary component of sanity.  And my morning cuppa tea is a public service to keep me from going off on a homicidal rampage against the morning people of the world.  So where’s the guilty pleasure?

And then I thought of it.  The thing I allow myself so seldom expressly because of the guilt (and the calories).

Cookie dough.

(progressivenewsdaily.com)

Oh dear God, how I love cookie dough.  I have NO RESTRAINT with it.  None.  It does not ever make it to baked cookies in my house, and I invariably eat obscene amounts of it with a big glass of milk chaser.  My answer to this in the past has been simply to never keep one of the ingredients in the house.  If I REALLY want cookie dough, I have to want it bad enough to drive all the way into town to the grocery to pick up brown sugar.  I rarely want it that bad.

But I’d been pondering for a while about the notion of making a single serving of cookie dough.  AllRecipes.com has a nifty calculator where you can adjust recipes to a different quantity of servings.  But that one really stumped me because of course all cookie dough recipes have eggs.  It is very difficult to have a fractional egg, and Egg Beaters (while eliminating the fear of E-coli—which I admit was never really an issue for me) just aren’t the same.

Enter Pinterest.  Another guilty pleasure, now that I think about it.  While trolling around on my weekly allotted hour (I have to limit myself or I’ll fritter away scads of time), I came across a recipe for single serve cookie dough.  No eggs, no leavening agent.  It’s never meant to be baked.  It’s all about the flavor of the dough.

Glory halleluiah!

I had to try it.  And BOY was it worth it!  Just the right portion (okay, yeah, I admit, I’ll often make a double batch—but that’s still less than I’d eat if I made regular cookie dough) and a sensible indulgence that won’t totally blow the calorie budget.

Excuse me, I need another glass of milk…

Kait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.  You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Winner!!!  August McLaughlin is the winner of Kait’s e-book copy of Red!  Congratulations, August!

Big Change Ahead

(source: ideachampions.com)

Hello Family and Friends,

Some changes are ahead for the ol’ Happiness Project.  I’ve read many other writer’s blogs and listened as they adapted their schedules to get more writing time.  I held off as long as I possibly could.  I made rules and tried to live by them hoping I could prepare blogs ahead and still work on my book.  But, it wasn’t happening.

So, I’ve decided to make a big change in order to focus on my writing more.  I’m limiting my blogging to twice a week.  Starting in February, I’ll blog on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Tuesday will be my “anything goes” day blogging about all things paranormal, travel-related, book and movie reviews, and any tales from my accident prone life!  Friday will remain on it’s alternate schedule of Guilty Pleasure Fridays and then Life List Club guest posts.  I may on occasion throw in a 3rd post, but only if I have something or someone really awesome to share with you!

This decision was not made easily; I’d been thinking about it for awhile and finally decided it’s time.  The biggest wake up call is the fact that I’m completely starting a new writing project.  I’d been working on one paranormal fiction piece for the last year and started over with that about 6 or 7 times.  I’m getting really good at beginnings!  But after workshopping it with my Warrior Writer’s Boot Camp team, I realized the direction it was going didn’t have my heart in it any longer.  I’d still like to come back to this project, but I need time to really hash it out.

My new endeavor is one that I feel right with and one I know won’t fizzle halfway through.  I’m taking the opportunity to write about my family.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I figure now’s as good a time as any.  All those wacky stories about my dad and those life threatening instances with my siblings are going to get put on page!  That is, provided my siblings don’t tie me to a stop sign again or bury me in the sandbox for revealing these tales. 

I’d also like to take the advice of two wonderful friends and bloggers Pam Hawley and Sonia G. Medeiros and spend time writing short stories and learning about the craft.  Nina Badzin is another great blogger to follow with tips for social media and she really woke me up one day on the importance of submitting your work and building credit to your name.  In order to submit good work, I need to dive in and study more.  Eliminating one day’s blog post will give me another day to work on these projects.

I hope the change doesn’t impact my readership.  I love you guys so much, you have no idea!  You are my motivation for making this change so I can work on the really important thing for a writer to have: a book.  But none of it would be worthwhile if I didn’t have readers.  So I still plan on being a pest in your comment sections and chatting up with all of you here.

Thanks for listening!  Stay tuned!

But wait, there’s more!!!

More Blogs That Ask Questions and Give Great Advice:

Kate Wood blogs about Fear and Change, asking writers the difficult questions and challenging them with smart advice.

August McLaughlin could save your life by reading her post Trusting Your Instincts; this is one you don’t want to miss.

Kristen Lamb gives a holistic approach to writing in 3 Steps to Freedom – Grab Hold of Your Brilliant Future.

Need to remember why you started blogging?  Jenny Hansen writes I’m Having a GREAT Time – What About You?

The hilarious Chuck Wendig gave us 25 Things Writers Should Start Doing, and I really like his list.

What You Don’t Know Can Save Your Writing: Guest Post by Sonia G. Medeiros

Hello readers!  It’s another blog hop of the Life List Club!  I have the fabulously funny and intelligent Sonia G. Medeiros with me today and I can be found blogging at Gary Gauthier‘s talking about crossroads.  Then, you can enjoy your cup of morning coffee and read the other Life List Club posts by clicking on the names in our sidebars!  We love to chat, so strike up a conversation in the comments, you’re sure to hear back!  Take it away, Sonia!

What You Don’t Know (Can Save Your Writing) by Sonia G. Medeiros

Writer’s Block (noun): a (possibly imaginary) condition afflicting writers, characterized by severe word-constipation; symptoms may include extreme procrastination, uncontrollable weeping, hair loss, blank stares, and binge drinking/eating.

I’d like to be one of those folk who states, without the slightest hesitation, that I do not believe in writer’s block. And I do know that it’s more psychosomatic (emphasis on the psycho) than anything else. But, when I’m staring helplessly at a blank screen/page, it seems pretty real.

The thing is, if it exists at all, writer’s block is only a symptom.

Alrighty then, mis smarty pants, what’s the disease?

Fear? Could be all sorts of fear that gets in the way of our creative flow. Fear of failure or success. Fear of change. Fear of fear.

Maybe it’s the inner-critic who won’t shut up. You know that guy, the one that’s always telling you that you’re gonna suck anyway, so why bother? Always wanting to correct the work before it’s done…which always makes the muse stomp out in a huff.

Or maybe it’s a result of not taking care of our bodies or the creative self.

But sometimes writer’s block is not about fear, the inner-critic’s filibuster, or a lack of self-nurturing. Sometimes it’s about what you don’t have for your story. About what you don’t even know you don’t have. The catalyst that will start your story’s chain reaction.

A story is like a living thing. It needs a skeleton (structure), flesh and blood (plot and characters) and a soul (that certain something that makes the story gel). Take away any of those things and the story falls apart.

Those of us that tend toward the pantsing end of the spectrum may struggle more with structure. Sometimes we just get it and sometimes we don’t. And, when we don’t get it, we often don’t even know what we aren’t getting because we’ve relied on the creative flow to carry us through.

A thorough and ongoing study of structure is the sure cure. Larry Brooks Story Engineering, Jack Bickham’s Scene & Structure, and James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure are all invaluable resources for any writer, whether pantser, plotter or pantsing-plotter (like yours truly).

If character and/or plot are ailing, the cure is likewise more studying (and you thought you left studying behind in school). Making great characters or gripping plots isn’t a cookie-cutter process but the elements that make both great can be learned. Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s 45 Master Characters and Story Structure Architecht and Christopher Vogler’s The Writers Journey are great resources.

And if it’s the soul that’s missing? What then? That’s a little trickier. There are no writing craft books (that I know of anyway) that can tell us just what that something is. All we can do is give it some brewing time while continually asking ourselves “what do I need to make this story work?” The answer can come from anywhere, especially from where that’s least expected, so a whole lot of keeping-our-eyes-peeled is in order.

So when it feels like writer’s block is not such a myth, take a deep breath, screw your courage to the sticking place and hunt up the reason. Kick the fear in the butt, tie and gag the inner critic, love yourself and then pull out your latex gloves and give your story thorough exam. And, when your creation lives, cackle like Dr. Frankenstein…just because.

Have you ever been completely stuck in a story? What was holding you back? How did you overcome it?

Sonia G Medeiros is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She’s the author of more than a dozen short stories and flash fiction pieces, blogs at WordPress, and is working on her first novel, a dark fantasy. When she’s not wandering along the tangled paths of her wild imagination, she wrangles home life with one fabulous husband, two amazing, homeschooled children, a part-alien half-chihuahua and two cats who battle each other for world domination.

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