because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

Wanna be a WANA?

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I landed in the blogosphere at the right time. I met a group of writers who told me about this chick Kristen Lamb, and how all the cool kids were reading her blog.

Kristen talked about this thing called MyWANA which stands for We Are Not Alone, the title of her #1 best-selling social media book.

I read Kristen’s archives. I taught myself how to use Twitter so I could use #MyWANA in my tweets.

I was amazed how adding that one simple hashtag often doubled the traffic to my blog.

Seriously, wouldn’t you follow her anywhere?

This Little Lamb is pretty smart, I thought to myself.

I stuck to her like a chigger and started commenting on her posts regularly.

There was no way she was going to shake me.

The more I read from Kristen, the more I realized I wanted to be her when I grew up.

(Except I am older than she is. Whatever.)

In the meantime, I started to look for other WANA writers, and I quickly discovered that the type of writing produced by a WANA writer was of a different caliber. These people dared to call themselves writers. They dared to declare putting the pen to the paper was their profession and that it needed to be taken seriously. And they made time to do it everyday – groceries be damned.

I joined Kristen’s Warrior Writers Boot Camp where aspiring writers have the opportunity to experience Kristen’s process. I got to learn a secret handshake and abbreviations like EVOS and BBTs other things that normal people wouldn’t care about.

One afternoon my phone rang. It was Kristen. We over-talked each other for an hour. (Girl might be from Texas, but her mother was from New York.) She told me all the places where my story was solid and the many more places where it had holes so big there was water pouring out of the bottom of the bucket.

She made me whine and stomp my foot.

But she also made me believe that my book had potential.

So I had to go and fix. And keep writing.

Meanwhile, I kept visiting WANA blogs and networking with many fabulous people. None of this connection would have been possible without WANA but especially Kristen, the beautiful, brainy girl with the big ideas. Kristen makes people feel like our dreams really can come true if we just work, if we don’t fear failure, and if we keep trying.

WANA has always featured creative professionals dedicated to serving and supporting one another. WANA understands that life as an artist is hard, and is often lacking support from family and friends. WANA is about serving others first and trusting that good always comes from love.

By now, many of you have seen Kristen’s post on how she plans to take over the digital world with WANA International.

Just kidding.

No, seriously.

She is.

We are.

As Kristen says:

“These days, creative professionals all need more training than ever before. Writers are not the only creatives who must learn to use social media in order to stand apart from the competition and to help lay the foundation for a career.”

So what’s new? WANA is branching out. WANA International is ready to teach creative professionals how to marry technology with humanity to build effective online platforms. There is instruction about craft, business, social media, and more.

I hope those of you you are interested in learning more about what WANA has to offer will click HERE.

***As a longtime English educator, I am looking forward to teaching a few courses later this year.***

If you are a wanna-be author who needs help with creating a blog to showcase your talent or a self-published author who needs to know more about all this confangled social media, or whether you seek information about how to design a book cover or need to figure out if you need an agent… be grateful that you are here now.

Because everyone who knows everything is gathered in one place.

And remember – as Kristen says: We Are Not Alone!

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I Thought About It…

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What to do? What to do?

I really did.

I did not mean to tease.

It was not a big media stunt to announce that I was going to post something big on 3/13 and then not follow through.

I’m not that kind of girl.

But.

I talked to a few people who advised me against doing it.

And then I talked to Kristen Lamb who wrote this blog in response to my dilemma.

Yeah, the thing I planned to write was something that was going to offend somebody.

And even though Kristen said “every word of my post” was “illuminated in excellence,” she also said it wouldn’t be smart to post it.

I have wrestled with this: how much of me to share, how much to keep private.

If you’ve been here for a while, you have seen me dance, heard me talk, read emails I have received, been with me when I fell down a flight of stairs. You’ve been stuck in elevators with me and seen me fret over students who cheat and students who bully. You’ve seen me meltdown. You have come to know me as a parent and a teacher. And, of course, a silly doofus.

This other piece of me — while it is decidedly me — isn’t right for the blog.

Kristen helped me understand that being mindful about what I put out to the world does not mean I am weak.

That choosing not to publish my piece is not an act of cowardice.

I can still write pieces like the one I had planned to post here today.

But.

It doesn’t mean that everything I write has to be published here.

What do you think? Is your life an open book? Will you write about anything? Or are these places that you are not willing to go? How do you determine your boundaries about what you share and what you keep to yourself?

If you feel cheated and would like to read one of my favorite old posts that got very little traffic back in the day, click here.

I'm Going To Do a Book

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Enter my free reading glasses giveaway which ends December 16th. Details HERE

I have been writing a manuscript for almost 8 years.

When I write that sentence, it is only slightly less embarrassing than when I say it out loud.

Some writers pop out books every other year.

Not me.

I used to joke that I felt like I was giving birth to twin elephants; the gestation period for one pachyderm is 2.5 years so I allowed  time to double it; after all, when I started writing my book my son was five years old. He was active, building LEGO creations and dancing and leaving goldfish crackers all over the house. He went to school under 3 hours a day. The nap had evaporated. I had my hands full.

But here it is — seven years later — and I am wondering what is wrong with me? Why won’t this baby come out?

Kristen Lamb (author of We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer) once suggested it is possible for some writers to get stuck “rearranging the chairs on the Titanic,” and I wondered if she was talking about me.

Was I that crazy woman adjusting the furniture when the ship was going down? I could hardly bear the thought of my baby sinking.

Rather than despair, I decided to remind myself that I am surrounded by greatness, and I figured I’d plug some people who I know in real life who have written and published some good stuff.

1. Michael Wexler: The Seems • Young Adult

2. Pam Sherman: The Suburban Outlaw • Non-Fiction Essays

3. Cynthia Kolko: Fruit of the Vine • Fiction

4. Betsy Petersen: Dancing with Daddy: A Childhood Lost & a Life Regained • Memoir

5. Chet Day: The Hacker • Thriller

6. Steven Mazie: Israel’s Higher Law: Religion and Liberal Democracy in the Jewish State • Political Science

7. Jeffrey Hirschberg: Reflections of the Shadow: Creating Memorable Heroes and Villains for Film and TV • Film Theory

8. Victoria Wasserman: Damage Control • Fiction

9. Rebecca Etlinger: To Be Me: Understanding What It’s Like To Have Asperger’s Syndrome • Picture Book

10. Janet Goodfriend: For the Love of Art • Fiction

11. Wendy Vigdor-Hess: Sweetness Without Sugar • Cookbook

*SOON TO BE RELEASED!*

12. Rebecca Land Soodak: Henny On the Couch • Fiction • 

And if that isn’t enough, I also have some cyber-budddies who have recently landed agents after attending writing conferences, so I keep writing and telling myself my time will come.

So now I’m looking into getting my ass to a writing conference.

Stat.

All these people keep me inspired, as I try to remain optimistic that a book I have authored will — one day — make it on a shelf where I can see my name, written sideways on the spine, sandwiched between other legit authors.

That is if there are still bookstores with bookshelves by the time I’m done with this book that is sucking a piece of my soul.

Once I asked an author friend of mine about what I could do to help move my baby towards the birth canal.

She suggested that I stop whining and just push the kid out and see how he fares in the world.

I said he wasn’t ready yet, that he still needed time in the oven.

But she is right.

So I am dilating.

Seriously.

Right now I’m about 2 centimeters, and I need to move things along.

It is time to get this alien-monster out of my belly and into someone else’s laptop.

Okay, that was a metaphor fail.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m working hard on revising.

And when all is said and done, if my baby is dull or no one thinks my sweet thang is sparkly or bedazzled enough, well, I can bundle him up and tuck him in a folder called Manny Manuscript, age 8.

I can wax nostalgic about how much fun I had creating characters and setting and symbolism and sub-plots. I can laugh about how Manny kept me up at night and wouldn’t let me to sleep until I’d written down what he wanted me to say. I can talk about how much paper he ate, that crazy Manny.

But honestly, if Manny is never going to be a real-book, well… Manny has a sibling who has been patiently waiting to be born.

And maybe it’s her time now.

What keeps you inspired when you don’t feel like you are moving forward? More importantly, what is your favorite part of that video clip? And why do I want to throw the cheese?

A Piece of the Action

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We are always searching for the next big thing: the good stuff. Back in the 1970s when early talk-show host, Mike Douglas, was around, he really had an eye for the next big thing. He knew how to give us a piece of the action. Just look at Thor here. He’s positively thrilling. I mean, he can blow up a hot water bottle until it explodes! Is that hot, or what?

In an effort to try to bring you a piece of the action, I thought I’d bring you some yummy morsels of goodness that I’ve read this month. Feel free to check out something that tickles your fancy.

From the Publishing & Social Media Department

Catie Rhodes has fabulous suggestions for Internet travelers in Catie’s Social Media Do’s & Dont’s.

Jane Friedman hosted Kristen Lamb this week with 3 Blunders That Can Kill Your Author Platform.

Kristen Lamb shows us the wonky part of publishing  as she tries to convince us Numbers Are Our Friends – Writers and the Wild World of Metrics.

From the Writing Department

Nobody likes a cheater, and Jami Gold explores How Bad is Plagiarism? and its damaging repercussions.

From the English Department

Carol Brown sent me a link to The Twenty Best Books for Language Lovers. It’s a pretty dang good list.

From the Math Department

I don’t understand this at all, but my 12-year-old son did. From WildABoutMath A Great Triangle Exploration.

From the Science Department

From ScienceBlog Gratitude as an Antidote to Aggression. Anything that helps folks be a little more civilized to each other is worth a try.

From the Art Department

Carl D’Agostino is a cartoonist whose stuff ranges from satirical to political to naughty.

From the Political Science Department

Piper Bayard brings us Bayard/Lamb 2012 – Because Blonde is the New Black. So snarky that it just might work.

From the History Department

Kathy Owen makes me want to put on a hoop skirt in the history of Ice Skating in Central Park.

Gene Lempp writes about the History of the Ancient Silk Route. I wish he was teaching my son social studies.

From the Pop Culture Department

Clay Morgan writes about 10 Television Characters I’ve Wished I Could Be. I so wanted to be Jamie Somers, The Bionic Woman.

From the Contest Department

Julie from go Guilty Pleasures is having a Vlog contest. If you want to enter you have until midnight. She’ll tell you all about it HERE. You can try, but I’m telling you I have it locked and loaded. Just sayin’.

From the Products Department

Kathy Owen shows us what we can purchase to embrace our inner nerd in Get Your Geek On!

From the Just Plain Funny Parenting Moments Department

Steve at Brown Road Chronicles has a discussion with his son about Skim vs. Fat-Free Milk.

News From the Department Chair

Chrystal from The Spirit Within had the highest percentage of votes in my “What the Heck Does Castanurgle Mean?” poll. Part of her cyber-swag package involves this beautiful new car. And by new car I mean, I’m giving you a link to her blog, which is lovely. I’m also decorating her invisible mantle (you know, the one where she keeps all her invisible blogging awards) with an autumnal theme. Isn’t it pretty? Congratulations Chrystal!

Before you head off to get “a piece of the action,” here’s a picture of me when I last performed Muscle Rock with Thor at Aladdin’s Hotel in 2005.  I guess I was looking for a little satisfaction. Or my hot water bottle.

I’m Thor’s sister. Can you tell me where to find a piece of the action?

 What are your Halloween plans? Anybody going like Thor?

Yummy-Yummies: Nom nom nom

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Apples are an all-American success story-each ...
Image via Wikipedia

Some things are just good. Plain and simple.

This was a good week for me.

The Jewish New Year began.

And that is good.

I ate a lot of apples dipped in honey.

And that was sweet.

And there was a lot of sweet writing out there in el Blogospherio.

(Did you see how I brought that around?)

On the Light Side:

Julie from Go Guilty Pleasures is running a fun contest where people have 30 seconds to Vlog about a guilty pleasure.

As you know, I am very introverted so I am uncomfortable sharing mine. I’m pretty sure that 97.4% of my regular readers can guess what my guilty pleasure is before you even click.

The contest runs until October 22nd, and Julie says there is a prize. I plan to win, but you can enter if you want to. 😉


Tamara Lunardo‘s little piece of snark Please Stop Just Sayin’ is worth reading because it is fabulous — but to fully enjoy the piece, you actually have to keep going and read all the comments because they are positively divine. Like totes. El oh el. Just Sayin’. 😉

Chase McFadden wrote a piece for Aiming Low called “Elementary School Pictures: Yes, You’re Supposed To Look Like a Dope.” It’s beyond funny. SPOILER ALERT: There is no picture. I will keep hoping for a follow-up. And this reminds me. My boy’s school picture day is probably coming up. I’d better have a looksie at ye olde school calendar.

Going Deeper:

The ever-scintillating Piper Bayard wrote a hilarious but simultaneously poignant piece called “Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll run for President.” I am totally ready to vote for her. I believe in her platform. As long as she eventually tells me if she is for or against platform shoes. This could be a deal-breaker.

Chrissy wrote a piece called “Grateful” that should be anthologized. If you have traveled a long distance only to land in a really bad motel — especially when you expected something entirely different , this is the piece for you. It will split your heart open. This essay was a guest post hosted by Deb Bryan — who has a fabulous Friday Series called For This I am Grateful. You can usually find Chrissy at silverfinofhope.

Amanda Williams piece “Everyone You Meet” explores the story of how Amanda was the recipient of some hateful glares when her children started behaving badly at a restaurant. The piece made me think about how many times I have watched that same scene that Amanda described and how different people react. Amanda reminds us gently that we could all do with being a little more patient with each other. You can find Amanda at Life. Edited.

On the Writing Front:

Kristen Lamb wrote a boatload of great stuff this week, thus proving once again that she is part cyborg. (Seriously, when does this woman sleep?) In The Doctor is in the House–Novel Diagnostics KL helps writers make sure they don’t make newbie mistakes. Also, she wrote “Meet The Maven: We’re Here Whether You Want Us Or Not” which is a great take on the folks on Twitter who can really help you out when you are feeling like a twit.

A Ridiculous Video That Brings Me Joy:

If you are unfamiliar with The Annoying Orange series, all I can say is where have you been? Seriously, they are extremely addictive. And with all the apple activity that I had this week… well, just enjoy it. If you can make it through the advertisement, it’s worth a good giggle.

Monkey is fencing this weekend. So we will be en garde.

What have you read that was delicious?

Posts That Shimmy & Shake: Abby Has Issues, Paul Waters & Kristen Lamb

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This is the fun part of the show where I get to tell you about some great reads that you might have missed this week. As usual, I try to get one from the chicks and one from the dudes. This week, I even have one from “The Queen.”

From The Ladies: Abby Has Issues is a hilarious blog by Abby Heugel. This week she wrote a piece called My Marriage Proposal that had me considering the concept of a Sister Wife. I decided I really wanted Abby to move in with me – and my husband. Why? Because Abby has decided she would like to be a Consolation Prize Wife, which is not to be confused with a Trophy Wife. Abby’s totally cool with being a consolation prize, and she gives a lot of convincing reasons why you should be too. Let’s just say, she had me at Swiffer Wet Jet.

• • •

From the Dudes: Paul Waters has a very funny post for all you little history buffs in the house. Or for folks who like naughty words that aren’t supposed to be naughty but they totally are. Poor Bastards. His piece is called “Are You SURE You Want To Take His Name When You Get Married?” I can’t say more without ruining the funny. Paul is one of the very first people I met when I landed here in the Blogosphere, and I have been enjoying his writing for a year now. It’s time to stop hogging him to myself. Read more of Paul’s stuff at Blackwatertown.

• • •

From The Queen: If you haven’t yet been introduced to Kristen Lamb’s fabulous blog Warrior Writers, today is your lucky day! Thank goodness for premature button pushing! This week Kristen Lamb, author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer  accidentally released one of her dazzlingly gorgeous pieces of brilliance a little earlier than expected. Let’s just say, the unexpected bundle of joy entitled, “Sacred Cow-Tipping: Why Writers Blogging About Writing is Bad”  was received with much head-nodding and agreement that her spawn is, indeed, breathtaking. KL’s post explains why writers should not create blogs that are exclusively dedicated to writing about writing.

I am so glad I did not make the mistake about writing about writing. But I almost did. A teacher for 20 years, when I decided to start blogging, I figured I’d write about writing. My son (age 10 at the time) rolled his eyes and said, “Mom, that’s so boring. You don’t have to always be the teacher. You can also be the dumb one.” And he was right. I have so many stories where I am the Chief Twit-in-Residence, so instead of always having to be Mrs. Smarty-Pants, I can also be the wisenheimer. So instead of being locked in to talking about commas and semi-colons, I left room for options. Which is one of Kristen’s points. They don’t call her “The Queen” for nothing. (Well, they don’t. But I do.)

Before you check out these amazing writers, can you explain what’s up with that cat?

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