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#Couchto9K: How to Go Viral and Stay Active

30 Jan

couchto9k

So, I was trying to figure out a way to talk about how I went from simply writing about life and its injustices to actually doing something about it.

#Couchto9K isn’t just a cute reference to my fast track from writer to protester to advocate to politician (#Morris2018?).

It’s also to show how that kind of anger can lead to something cool: getting 9,500 likes and 1,500 shares on Facebook for a blog post.

Like most people who are self-esteem challenged, the idea of getting a few likes on a witty post is like a breath of fresh air.

“Yay, what I say matters! My life is now validated for the next 24 hours.”

I had been meaning to discuss my experience at Planned Parenthood as soon as it happened five years ago. I thought it was a perfect time to do it now and throw my support towards an organization that’s getting a lot of flack right now.

I submitted the pitch to a paid publication first. (Always do this!) When it was rejected, I posted it here on my blog, made a few changes and posted it on Huffington Post, and now here we are.

Here’s the reality: :There’s no book deal. No celebrity endorsements. I didn’t get any sort of financial gain from writing this.

But not long after that, I went to a Democratic fundraiser, joined a “Nasty Woman” group and endured 24+ hours on a bus to March in Washington.

Then I went to two meetings in the same day looking at local legislation and throwing my support to a state representative whose ideals I love.

Nothing else in life mattered but being part of the resistance.

So what worked? How did the post get noticed by HP’s blogging team and end up being featured on Facebook?

Probably my eye-popping headline and a relatable story for a currently divisive issue to back it up. (No clickbait here!)

I continued to do some more writing and thinking and posting on Facebook (much to the chagrin of my conservative friends). I’ve looked at running for office and have joined a couple of programs dedicated to it.

And I nearly lost my mind.

The inconvenient truth is that doing all of this requires a lot of mental and physical energy. Today, I watched videos on how to be kind and how to disagree (Thanks, Kid President!) and realized I had failed in these instructions.

I’ve angered people, had family members put a ban on political talk and I’ve stopped taking caring of myself on a consistent basis.

I recently posted something “normal” on Facebook about my day. It was short, positive and has only received 2 likes LOL.

So I’m taking a step back and looking at self-care (including renewing my search for writing clients), my family and stop being so angry. (But still stay active.)

What are you doing to fight, resist and stay sane?

A Writer’s Dream: Review of the Rocket City Literary Festival

12 Oct
She said she has the same dress!

She mentioned she has the same dress!

Spontaneity is a word I can’t even spell without using spell check. (Seriously, I just used spell check for that.) It’s literally not a part of my vocabulary!

But I just had to make the drive up to Huntsville for the first ever Rocket City Literary Festival, less than a day after I realized it existed. One of my favorite blogger/authors, Jenny Lawson, was there. I’d never attended a book festival before, and I couldn’t miss a “first ever” event.

It was worth the exhausting drive to attend. Here are a few reasons why this festival was awesome, and a few suggestions for next year.

Huge venue, but spread out crowds – I have a feeling the coming years will see more and more people attending, especially with big authors as guests. The sheer number of vendors/authors was awesome. I got so much swag.

Yes, I got free books!

Yes, I got free books!

But it still felt intimate. I never felt rushed or smushed, and I was able to stop and talk to everyone for a few minutes about their book or organization. And I even got to spend a few minutes chatting with Jenny on how she manages her anxiety during book tours and raving about the dress I had on. She had one just like it.

When it was time for food, I only had to wait in line a few minutes, and there were plenty of chairs available at the Reading Corner, where authors shared excerpts of their work.

I made it my mission to visit every single table. I think I managed to get 95% of them. (The sore feet and throat the next day was a reminder of my endeavor.) I also attended a fantastic panel on diversity in writing.

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I was exhausted when I left.

So kudos to the organizers for managing to run a huge event without feeling too crowded and keeping both your volunteers, guests and attendees happy.

Of course, the only major issue was that I had just heard about it the day before. Even avid book lover friends hadn’t heard about it until I mentioned it.

My husband said he may have seen a billboard in Birmingham, but I missed any press that it had garnered. It seemed to be an event catered towards locals, because every time I mentioned I drove two hours to get there, people seemed shocked.

rocket city literary festival volunteers

Please bring back the balloon guy. This is just epic.

So they could definitely work on spreading the word more. Perhaps with bloggers (ahem? 🙂 ) I’d also recommend maybe a hotel discount, since the venue was next to the Embassy Suites. That would also be a draw for out-of-towners, and possibly post-convention events inbetween days.

I think there also could have been more outdoor signage. For a newbie like me, it was a bit difficult to figure out exactly where to go. Plus, I think there should be an hourly parking area for folks who only stay a little while. (Although $7 isn’t bad.)

As a writer, it was the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow authors and publishers. Plus, it gave me the encouragement and strength to read and write more. On the way home, I listened to an audiobook. That was the first audiobook I’ve purchased in about a decade.

Plus, I told Jenny I want to write a book about anxiety that she’d want to read. She mentioned there isn’t a lot out there, especially written by people of color, and that I should send it to her when I’m done (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!). So of course, I’m going gangbusters trying to flesh out the idea more.

Next year, I’m bringing family and maybe staying both days.

Forgiveness is More Powerful Than Anger: On the Charleston Shooting

22 Jun

This morning, as I was reading through Facebook posts, I was jolted out of bed with one by Luvvie. She questioned why the Charleston shooting victims’ families would forgive the killer.

Sometimes, Christians can’t win for losing.

Let’s be honest, the folks who go to church on Wednesdays are probably some of the most dedicated Christians out there.

So the first thing you’d expect is for these families to respond with love and not anger.

Why would they do this?

1) Because they love God. God commands us to forgive anyone. In His eyes, all sins are on the same level. They are simply obeying what they’ve been taught. This isn’t brainwashing or some sort of media stunt to placate the white community. This forgiveness is real.

2) Because Jesus did the same thing. The “What Would Jesus Do” craze has faded, but the message remains the same. Jesus was angry, tired, went through extraordinary amounts of pain but while on the cross asked God to forgive them.

If you aren’t a Christian, this sort of behavior seems completely inexplicable. Why would you do this? How could you possibly forgive a monster? Because Christ forgave us.

People have suddenly equated kindness with fragility. And that’s simply not true.

3) Because these are strong people. So when black people respond in looting and violence when these horrible acts happen, we are criticized by the white community. So now, because they are perceived as being weak we are criticizing them for “appeasing to the whites?” How thoughtless and shameful. Simply because we can’t comprehend how they’ve been able to forgive doesn’t mean it it’s not possible or it isn’t right.

It’s the most righteous thing a believer could do.

Luvvie asked, “Being able to move past your loved one dying in 3 days to the point where you’re able to forgive the murderer is superhuman.”

That’s exactly right. It required far more than their own strength. It required the hand of God. They’re angry. Perhaps they want to see him get the death penalty. But they can still forgive.

Forgiveness is the ultimate weapon. The shooter wanted a race war. Instead, he got forgiveness and love. Therefore he has lost and we as a Christian community and a black community have won.

4 BlogHer Convention Tips from a Geeky Con Veteran

12 Jul
dragoncon cosplay blogher

Running into Thundercats was a Con highlight for the ages.

Who knew that 6 years of geeking out at Dragon Con would prepare me for the extravaganza that is BlogHer, the annual mega-blogging convention? The 10th anniversary celebration is in San Jose in two weeks, and I can’t wait.

At first I was petrified, but I realize now I’m a con vet. Just for a very different type of convention.

So here are some (slightly unconventional) tips I’ve learned from going geek:

1) Be prepared to wait in line for everything. Bathrooms, elevators, session seating, sponsor hob-nobbing. Now that Dragon Con has expanded to five host hotels and pushing 60,000 in attendance, I just expect to feel like herded cattle. Sure it doesn’t make it any less annoying, but your con experience is dependent on your attitude. Have a good one.

Bored? Try these out:.

  • Turn around and introduce yourself to the person behind you. Conversations with fellow Con goers makes any line wait seem quicker. Pull out a deck of cards or a game. My favorites: Cards Against Humanity and Phase 10. CAH is essentially an irreverent and offensive version of Apples to Apples. I love it, but you may not. If you don’t get offended easily, pick it up. If not, stick with A2A.
  • Introverted? Pull out your phone and start replying to #BlogHer14 Tweets on the app (It’s the Twitter option in the menu.). Carry a book, a solo game, whatever will keep you occupied.

2) Prep for extreme weather conditions. The years I dressed up as Storm in the middle of an Atlanta summer, I brought extra clothes and undies, because I knew I would sweat them out.

Of course, bring a jacket for those chilly conference rooms, but be ready in case you end up in a sweltering situation (like a hotel elevator that’s maxed out, oy!). There may be that one fateful day you forget your umbrella and there’s a downpour. Bring a hat or scrunchie to tame soaked tresses until you can get back to the hotel.

3) Prep for a random celeb encounter. Mentally train yourself now to come up with an elevator speech if you run into the Bloggess…on the elevator. (Try to get past the, “Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh, if you can.)

Gush if you like, but be mindful of their time. If they look like they are in a hurry or have a handler with them, say hi, wave and go. Don’t harp them for a photo or autograph.

This goes the same for sponsors. You have so many awesome options, so it’s best to be memorable but brief unless you specifically plan a conversation with a specific brand. Give them a piece of your blog’s branded swag and a biz card. I came *this* close to getting a selfie with Tom Felton (Of Harry Potter fame as his nemesis Draco Malfoy). But alas, he just wanted to blend in.

Yeah, you totally can't tell it's Tom Felton except he has an expensive watch. :-)

Yeah, you totally can’t tell it’s Tom Felton except he has an expensive watch. 🙂

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(I did manage to run into Chad Vader on the way to a friend’s hotel room! It was completely empty at that moment, so I had time for shots.)

4) For the love of Pete, eat! Yes, the schedule is packed with awesomeness but you need to make sure your tummy is also packed with awesomeness.

Nuts, fruit, granola bars and water are your best friends in between meals. Of course, use caffeine, alcohol and junk in moderation. (You can’t party at night when you’re on a sugar crash, now can you?)

Other awesomeness: showers and sleep. Don’t neglect those either. At geek cons, they call it the daily 3-2-1 rule: three hours of sleep, two meals and 1 shower. These are at a bare minimum. You’ll need focus and concentration for these events, and neglecting any of these would prevent you from that.

Like anything in life, it’s what you make of it that counts. We are spending a pretty penny to attend, so we need to squeeze every bit out of it. See you there!

On Being a Whiny Troll

2 Aug
rift rogue whiny troll

My awesome rogue elf in Rift. Not a troll. Not whiny. At all.

The phrase “whiny troll” keeps smacking me in the face. It doesn’t happen very often, but I come across people who completely misinterpret things I say and hate me.

This, however, feels different. Harder to take, somehow.

I was formerly part of a blogging group and, unfortunately, could only contribute once a month to it.

As a professional blogger and freelance writer (who is also an administrative assistant), you wish you could write all the time for everyone, but it simply wasn’t feasible.

When I did get to write for them, I absolutely loved it! My posts got tons of shares, and I felt like I was contributing to a great community.

Unfortunately, the leader of said group didn’t think so. When I asked a question in the community group about why my posts got a lot of shares but no comments, apparently I was “complaining.”

When I explained to people (after being confused myself) that a Google Hangout On Air doesn’t involve actually being a part of the live web chat, I apparently said I was being “misled.”

The word was written to me using quotation marks just like that. Some heavy words, there.

None of which were actually true.

The truth of the matter is that for the past couple of months, this person had been sending me very terse, sarcastic and often annoyed-sounding e-mails. I hadn’t the foggiest idea why.

I had a string of these from others lately, and I was really tired of it.

So I created a blog for this very group about e-mail etiquette. It was originally titled to fit a theme that the group was doing.

Not long after I sent this post in, it was announced that those who weren’t “full members” (those who posted blogs twice a month or more) would no longer be able to post discussions.

I knew deep down this was a way to get me to stop posting, but there was nothing I could do. In keeping with my love for e-mail etiquette, I sent the leader a very gracious email saying I will no longer blog for the group. I was sad about it, but I knew it had to be done.

Of course, I get the same terseness in response. I also was promptly un-followed on Twitter.

So I asked to be unsubscribed from group postings and published the blog on my own site.

And added a bitch cake.

It was something I would have loved to have done on their site, but, again, politeness on my end reigns.

This obviously drew the ire of the person I had been communicating with, who proclaimed she is “damn proud” of being a bitch and blah, blah, blah, you complain, you were whiny, you were trolling – all that.

She also removed my previous blog posts, so those awesome shares now lead to a blank page.

She wrote all of these horrible things. To me. In a long, ranty e-mail. And, in response to my blog, she told me that, of course, she would say all of these things to my face.

Because, obviously, that makes it better.

Funny thing is – I never called her a bitch. Not in the blog. Not in e-mail. I didn’t even use her name or organization.

The posting was about staying polite in email and in social media.

And, yet, here this person was saying outright untruths and name calling after reading this same blog post.

The things I learned this week:

1) No matter how nice you are, not every one will like you. They won’t learn their lesson. In fact, people may like you better when you are sarcastic and ornery. Obviously, as this person still has lots of fans, even when I explained to people what had happened.

2) Even online business relationships hurt when they are broken. But, as I blogged this week in Brazen Careerist, I’m learning from my mistakes. I am staying in touch with all of the bloggers in the group as best as I can. Obviously, I won’t do any public name calling.

But if anyone ever asks me who not to recommend online? Well, now I have someone to add to that very short list.

And by short, I mean there’s, like, two people on it.

(By the way, this is why you never, ever anger a blogger or say nasty things in e-mail, because they are there. Forever.)

Unlike the lovely “Bloggess,” I can’t get away with quoting entire e-mails and naming names. She’s got the clout (and the cajones) and I don’t. Ugh. Guess that’s just me being polite again.

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