CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Geoff Talbot: How to Be Inspired Forever

I can’t remember when I first discovered this week’s guest blogger but it was definitely on Twitter, where I’ve made a lot of my most critical finds and struck up some of my most heartfelt friendships, believe it or not. It’s amazing what inspiration you can find out on Twitter – don’t let naysayers tell you otherwise. Geoff Talbot is a perfect example. Originally hailing from New Zealand and now planted in the beautiful state of Oregon here in the States, he’s a filmmaker and producer, and founder of SevenSentences.com, daily inspiration for creative people. Every day, Geoff pops into inboxes across the world and takes a topic – any topic – and breaks it down eloquently and meaningfully…into seven sentences. These mini-blogs can often say more in seven sentences than I or another writer can attempt to expound on in seven paragraphs or seven pages!

More than anything, there have been days when Geoff’s words provided some much-needed encouragement to keep writing, continue plugging along in my creative journey and fight the good fight. And for that, I’ll always be grateful. So I went out on a limb and I approached this busy gentleman about maybe doing a little seven-sentence guest blog for my lovely readers here. And you know what? The gracious man said yes. So, thank you, Geoff, for that!

And what better topic for him to encapsulate than inspiration. So without further ado, I give you Geoff and one of his signature seven-sentences, and I encourage you to visit his site and sign up for his daily email. I assure you it will be a welcomed guest into your workday and into your psyche.

And you can follow Geoff on Twitter here.

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GeoffTalbot
 

 
What is inspiration?
 
Is it like the wind, fickle in nature, unpredictable, staying only for a while, blowing you where-ever it chooses?Many people, believe in moments of inspiration, times where inspiration comes AND then long dry seasons where there is no wind and the soil in which you toil is barren and dry.
 
I do not believe in this kind of inspiration.
 
Inspiration is within you; it is a faithful friend and a lifelong companion, once he or she arrives, they make their home inside of you AND they stay with you from here until eternity.
 
Inspiration is in fact a way of being, it is an internal companion and not an external force.
 
If you want to be continually inspired, then please do not ignore the friend inside of you; like a child you must nurture inspiration, you must provide a safe space for her, you must listen to her, if you love her she will grow.
 

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Tamie Burdick of Bookish Temptations: Genre Trends

This week’s guest blogger holds a special distinction and place in my heart, and is not actually aware of this herself. Tamie Burdick at Bookish Temptations is the first book blogger I began following after I discovered the contemporary romance genre, and in particular, the incredible writings of one Mr. Sylvain Reynard, quite possibly…no, definitely…my favorite writer in the genre. It was her book blog that helped me get swept up in sharing the excitement with other fans of his work as well as the similarly awesome writing of such masterful authors as Colleen Hoover, Tammara Webber and others.

Tamie started the site in October 2011 after working with another book blog, and soon realized she could add greater reach and value for readers by building her own team committed to passionate book discussion. Now this trusty posse of very diligent and busy cohorts invites readers on a daily basis to engage in a dialogue about their favorite books and authors, with each other, with the bloggers and often with the authors themselves.

I’ve since begun following a number of other excellent book bloggers, as well, who go out of their way to keep readers updated on the latest author news and offer access to cool contests and exclusive book information. If you’re a reader, you know the service that book bloggers provide, and if you’re an author, you recognize the influence and weight their opinion can potentially carry. With Bookish Temptations garnering nearly 10,000 blog followers, I thought Tamie was the perfect person to share a little insight on what she’s seeing as trends in the genre she (and I) and so many readers have fallen madly in love with…contemporary romance. Swoon. So take it away, Tamie…

And you can follow Tamie and Bookish Temptations on Twitter here.

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BookTempt

When Chris asked me to share my thoughts on trends in the contemporary romance genre, and the direction it may be headed in, I was honored. It’s the genre I read and review/spotlight the most on Bookish Temptations. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart.

As far as trends go here’s some of what I’m seeing…

The line between romance and erotica is getting blurrier by the day. They really were very distinct genres not that long ago. I’m a fan of the incorporation for the most part. I enjoy both genres as long as they’re well written.

That’s the tricky part tho. I’m afraid many authors feel the need to write more graphically than they are comfortable with. What can start as a great story becomes awkward and uncomfortable to me as a reader when this happens.

Throwing in sex for the sake of sex, or using sexual words does not a good story make. It takes a certain skill to balance the romance of a story and to include really great erotica.

My advice to authors is simple. If you aren’t comfortable writing it…then don’t. You can make and develop an extremely satisfying sensual scene without the explicitness. I have many favorite authors that do just that. As a reader and reviewer, I’m far happier with that than feeling like I want to flounce on a book because the author is chasing a certain audience.

Two trends that may or may not be related? The prevalence of series and the shortening of books. Series books aren’t new of course, but it sure seems like there are less and less stand alone novels and more stories that are being made into sequels, trilogies, and beyond. At the same time novels seem to be getting shorter, and I have wondered if authors are being encouraged to write with that in mind.

It’s no secret that I love lengthy stories and series as well, so I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. I’m all for authors telling the most complete story they can, and it’s hard for me to leave some characters behind. I’ve read some novels that actually needed a 3rd book, but I’ve also read some recently that could’ve been told in 2 longer books.

Epilogues…no, they aren’t a new invention, but I see them more and more and more and…I FLOVE this trend. I’m actually starting to get disappointed when I don’t see one at the conclusion of a stand alone or at the end of a series. It’s the perfect way to end with a peek into what happened to our favorite and beloved characters in the future.

Finally, let me cheat just a little…this really can’t be considered a trend, but I have to give a standing ovation to all the fabulous books being written in the New Adult genre. Some of the very best books I’ve read so far this year have come out of this newer classification and I’m thrilled about it. I think this is going to be a huge market for publishers and self- published alike.

Thanks for inviting me to write this guest post , Chris!

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Cameron Lincoln: In the Zone

I couldn’t be more excited about this week’s guest blogger. I first bumped into author Cameron Lincoln back in March in the Twitterverse. By April, I had gotten an opportunity to enter a fascinating dialogue with him and a few other talented writers in a genre I had never thought about exploring before: erotica. Since then, I’ve read multiple titles from him and some other writers within the genre, and quickly recognized that my own interpretation of what “erotica” meant did not take into account a talented writer’s ability to put his own spin on it.

In Cameron’s case, it was for me a surprising romantic element that weaves throughout the Holiday Heat novella trilogy Waves of Passion, Tides of Lust and Oceans of Desire, as well as his ability to create believable female characters, something that perhaps I unfairly did not expect from a male erotica romance writer. (Now who’s fault was that really…um, the person stererotyping perhaps…MOI?)

Recently, Cameron announced that he’s embarking in another literary direction, as well: a paranormal romance and his first full-length novel. I asked Cameron if he  would mind stopping by my blog this week and as expected, the always charming and ever gracious writer agreed to do so. Cameron sheds some light on what it can be like for a writer building a repertoire in one genre while wanting to scratch that itch to try others. Thanks so much, Cam, for sharing your thoughtful words with us. I’m so happy you could be a part of the Friday series!

You can follow Cameron Lincoln on Twitter here.

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CamLincoln

 

My name is Cameron, and I’m a writer.

So, what kind of stories do you write?

 

The kind with words, generally. They’re usually made up, but not always. The people in them are just like you and me, even if they’re from Mars, or fighting inter-dimensional robots or going at it like unbridled animals on an office desk. Especially then, in fact.

I mean, what kind of stories.

I write erotica and romance. Romantic erotica, really…

I knew it! You’re an erotica writer!

 

No, I’m a writer. I just happen to be writing erotica and romance a lot at the moment. I’ve written other things. Thrillers, sci-fi, horror…

But you’re an erotica writer really, right? That’s your comfort zone.

 

Umm…

When it comes to writing, is there really such a thing as a comfort zone? If you ponder the moments in life that you’re truly comfortable, you may be romantic about it, picturing being safely ensconced in the arms of the one you love; or, if you’re more of a realist, then you’re sitting in your undies eating cookies straight from the pack. Or perhaps I’m revealing too much there. Let me tuck it back.

As a species, we like to see people doing things they’re good at, and if you establish yourself as being good at something, folks generally like to see you do that thing forever more. Admit it…when your favourite singer made a go of being an actor, you cringed, right? Though probably not as much as when your favourite actor picked up the microphone. For every Fresh Prince, there’s a Bruno.

People don’t forget, and readers have mental bookmarks to save previous chapters of their favourite writers’ lives. Stephen King, regardless of whatever book he has just released, is known for horror. JK Rowling will always be ‘the Harry Potter lady.’ Nothing E.L James creates from now on will ever be spoken of without restraints and floggers coming up. But is writing about adolescent witchcraft really Rowling’s comfort zone? Is that – as epic and rich as it is – the only story she ever wanted to tell? Heck no. But it’s the one people expect her to tell, over and over again.

I love stories, as any reader does, and I love them in all their forms. The lyrical beauty of poetry and the rich tapestry of a novel; the heartwrenching majesty of a song that speaks directly to the soul; the pulse-pounding transcendent thrill of a great movie or the bombastic pizzazz of a comic book. I love the flop sweats and shivers brought on by horror, the mind bending delights of science-fiction and the dreamy fantasies brought on by romance. I live for storytelling, and I want to turn my pen to every last genre and medium that gets me excited.

My comfort zone is writing. Creating. Fabricating lies that ironically, must tell the absolute truth. Whether you’re telling stories for yourself or for others to read, there’s a never-ending itch that no end of scratching will cure. To tell more stories. To try new things, to explore new genres, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly… Wait. That’s someone else’s story. Damn, I want to tell one that starts just like that…

I’m recognised now for erotica, but I’d hate to think that was what was expected of me until my fingers drop off. My next big project is a novel in the paranormal genre with a heavy focus on romance. After that, who knows? Either way, accompanied by the relentless clack of the keys – and a big supply of Hobnobs and boxers – I’ll be perfectly comfortable in my zone.

 

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Cindy Kane: Remembering Mama

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. I wanted to honor mamas everywhere by featuring a clever lady I’ve just recently been introduced to by yet another clever lady, Dana Talusani aka The Kitchen Witch. And if the name rings a bell, it’s because you met Dana here last month as one of my first guest bloggers. Cindy Kane is both a published author and mommy blogger, and she would have happily shared these facts years ago. Now, however, she is excited to also tell you that she’s a stay-at-home mom. This has not always been the case, as you’ll soon read.

BadMommyMoments.jpgCindy is a delightful read, funny, observant and not above sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of mommyhood.  Her blog Bad Mommy Moments will easily coax a chuckle out of anyone who has ever faced the joy, wrath and confusion of being a parent or been on the other side of it as a child, which covers just about everybody really, doesn’t it? Although there are a few celebrities and reality stars who I’m not certain hail from human beings, but that’s another conversation for another time. Cindy’s book of the same name is a witty mixed media archive of poetry, prose and photography and is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. (Click here for more information about that.)

I asked Cindy if she would mind spending a few moments with us here at my blog as part of CHRIS’S CORNER, my Friday guest blog series, and what do you know? Amid the crazy chaos that is life and in particular, parenting, she found a few minutes to sneak us in and I am most grateful!  So I will let Cindy introduce you to the sometimes magic, other times, madness that is being a mom. And to all birth moms, stepmoms (we sistahs must stick together after all!), foster moms and mamas-to-be, may I wish you a very special Mother’s Day weekend. Take it away, Cindy… 

Oh, and you can follow Cindy on Twitter here.

 

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CindyKane

In the fall of 2007, four major things happened to me at once. I gave birth to my second daughter, had to resign from my job because her daycare fell through, moved with my husband, tempestuous 3YO, newborn and golden retriever into my father-in-law’s house, and then had to take my 3YO out of daycare. I was essentially a stay-at-home mom–the job I’d feared most–at someone else’s house, and my dreams of becoming a writer were pushed so far away that I couldn’t see them anymore.

By March 2008 I was broken. And by broken I mean cranky, impatient, lonely, and consuming so many bags of Cadbury mini-eggs that my baby’s face had the texture of a starfish. Growing up, I always dealt with stress by writing, but for the first time in my life, I had neither the time nor energy for it. I didn’t even know where I’d packed away my journals. So I started a blog, which at the time I thought was like a private, online diary. I’d never blogged before, never read a blog, hadn’t even heard of blogs. I just hoped that if I wrote a little each day I’d find the bits and pieces of myself that I was positive I’d left somewhere after becoming a mom.

I wrote my first post, felt a huge sigh of accomplishment at finishing something, and the next day had a comment. Someone who understood exactly how I felt and thanked me for being funny and honest about it. I couldn’t believe it. I had no clue how she found me, or who she was, but for the first time in months I felt like I wasn’t alone.

For the next two years, I woke up every weekday morning at 4:30 and wrote until my girls got up. Some mornings I blogged, other mornings I worked on a mixed-media book I’d started after the birth of my first daughter. I still struggled with my stay-at-home mom gig, but by writing about it, and seeking the humor in it, I felt hopeful that maybe I’d find my voice amidst the chaos. Maybe my dreams of becoming a writer were possible after all.

Through blogging I learned that I was introverted and my tendency to check out wasn’t because I didn’t like my kids, or my job as their mom, I was just missing a key element for any introvert – solitude to recharge. I learned that my daughter was suffering from night terrors, not just being an obstinate control freak (like her mother) in the middle of the night (not like her mother). And I learned that if I admitted vulnerability, or a downright failure, there was always someone else to chime in and join me. Affirm me. And laugh with me.

The downside was that while I was no longer feeling alone, my priorities got tangled up between the lives of people I didn’t know in real life, and the kids I was neglecting in order to keep up with posts. Instead of handling stress in an active, positive way, I’d disappear into the dashboard of my blog and obsess over stats, views and comments and felt like less of a person on the days when certain posts didn’t do as well as others. And in my more prideful moments, I’d tell people at my daughters’ school that I was blogging because I felt the need to prove that I was doing something with my life. This of course backfired when I had to censor what I wrote because of who might be reading and what might come back to haunt my kids later.

Writing and blogging eventually took a toll on my marriage, as well. I focused so much hope on finishing my book and getting blog posts up that I always wanted to be somewhere else. Somewhere by myself so I could think and really dig into the editing. I even started sharing things without asking my husband what he thought – it was my blog, after all. And the loneliness I thought I’d combatted with blogging returned. Only now I was lonely in the middle of a house that was starting to function without me.  

So I dropped everything and got my life back in order. Detoxed off of stats, stopped reading other blogs, and went back to just writing when I got up in the morning. It took me six years to finish my book. But I completed it. And my blog is still going, but it’s not the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning.

When I started blogging five years ago I’d hoped to find myself. What I found instead was that by losing bits of who I thought I was, I freed myself from my dreams, and could live the life before me. Sure, that includes writing and blogging and storytelling. But that’s no longer what’s most important. I’m a wife, and a mother, and a homemaker, which has taken me eight years to say with pride. But I am proud. I’m one of the luckiest girls in the world.

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Angela Schaefers: The Benefit of Writing My Story

It’s another Friday. Are you ready for this work week to come to a close? I certainly wouldn’t object but there is still much writing to do, much more storytelling to take place. And this week’s guest blogger here at CHRIS’S CORNER is no stranger to storytelling. I was first introduced to Angela Schaefers when I was serving as a magazine editor for a local women’s magazine. I learned of a  remarkable woman who had shared her own story of overcoming tragedies and obstacles, including being diagnosed with stage IV cancer over nine years ago.

Angela quickly discovered that by sharing her own story she could inspire others to tackle their personal challenges and begin the healing process. Angela’s message is consistent: everybody has a unique story of value. She’s translated this message into a platform  “Your Story Matters” which has prevailed across a variety of avenues  – from books to articles to social media and speaking engagements, as well as an online radio show aptly titled “Your Story Matters”. In her book Your Story Matters, You Matter, Angela has been able to reach out to others, connect and share her insight on how to learn, heal and share their story.

I asked Angela if she would stop by my blog and talk about the background behind writing her story and the benefits of going through the process, and she was kind enough to say ‘yes.’  Like Angela, I encourage people to find whatever means possible to tell their story – whether it’s through words in a private journal, a shared blog or a book, or through some other means entirely including art, music, food, fashion or another medium. When we share, we learn from each other and ourselves. Thanks, Angela, for sharing with us.

You can follow Angela on Twitter here.

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AngelaSchaefers

When I first wrote my story I felt I was only doing so for my kids, to leave them a written record of who I was and who I had become based on my past. I never knew until later how much I was writing my story for my own healing, for others’ encouragement and as part of my journey to discover my purpose. The beginning of writing our story, or any other way we capture it (art, images, etc.) is powerful as it leads to more and more self knowledge. The unfolding of our authentic selves and our lives, while unpeeling layers of memories embedded in our hearts and minds, leads to learning a great deal about oneself.

When I started to write my story, from my beginning, I was charged with this surreal energy that was stirred by wanting to remember all the details that shaped me. There were times that details I suddenly remembered made me laugh and smile, especially those experiences that instantly made sense about why I was the unique person that I am. Silly and fun loving, but unique!

And then there were the moments when I was writing and had to pause. Sometimes these pauses lasted more than a day or two. It was overwhelming at those times when I recalled parts of my story that were uncomfortable, painful and even gut wrenching. I had to take the time to catch my breath and let it all sink in. I had to allow the pain to surface. I may have wanted to stop writing my story, but I knew that my story needed to be unraveled. As time went on, I knew it should be shared.

Knowing my story, facing my truths and dealing with my feelings about it helped me to discover more about myself than I ever knew I could. It helped me to interpret where my worldview came from. It helped me to understand why I felt a certain way about things and why I  reacted and responded the way I did to various things and people.

Part of the healing process for me, that stemmed from the knowledge of my story, was learning to forgive both myself and others over painful circumstances through out my life. I was finally able to discern ‘why’ about a great deal of things and to put into perspective how my current life and my future was not based on my past. What was imparted to me from my story was all part of the process of learning and growing, yet it (the past) no longer had a grip on me.

The gift in learning from my story was the awareness that all I had been through in my life was worth it because it was all for the purpose of gaining wisdom. That enlightenment helped me to change my life for the better and when shared with others has helped many on their own journey.

Over time, I discovered that my story mattered! My story offers hope to the hopeless, encouragement and inspiration to many. I was empowered by it and am able to empower others too! This knowledge brought me to the realization that my purpose is, in part, to share my story and others’ stories, too; to incite positive connections to those similar to us and not. Sharing our stories with one another creates kinship and can  help overcome barriers to conflict and communication. What better way for each of us to do our part to change the world, for good, one story at a time!

I implore you to get your story out of your head and onto paper, on a canvas or into a media form. Learn from it, heal from it and share it!

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Karen M. Hanks: Celebrating Indie Authors

Happy Friday, everybody! This is that time of the week I look forward to most. Not just because I typically open a bottle of wine by the end of the day, though I will say that is something that has suddenly perked up the little corners of my lips a tad just thinking about it. Mmm.

Oooh, but not tonight. How could I forget! I have a date with three other ladies to see a musical parody of Fifty Shades of Grey onstage here in Tampa Bay. Should be divine. The fella playing the Grey-like creature is supposed to be quite divine, too, and…ahem…blush-invoking. Sigh. It’s going to be a fun day, all-day, yes indeedy.

But the real reason for my joy is that on Fridays I get to invite a friend over to CHRIS’S CORNER, my new weekly guest blog feature. This week, I’m especially excited because I had an unexpected opportunity to meet this lovely woman last month when she visited from the Great White North to take in some fabulous spring training baseball in my fair state of Florida. Karen M. Hanks is a talented writer who recently teamed up with her friend and poet S.A. MacNeil to launch a new blog So The Story Goes, specifically designed to promote the words and people behind today’s world of independent publishing.

I asked Karen if she wouldn’t mind stopping by to share what inspired the two young women to dedicate their time and energy to championing the spirit and work of independent authors across genres. And I know when she’s done, you’ll want to skidaddle over there to learn more about independent publishing and to see who’s in the spotlight this week at their site.

You can follow Karen on Twitter here. And be sure to follow So the Story Goes on Twitter, as well.

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KarenHanks

We at So The Story Goes were graciously asked by the lovely Chris Kuhn to write about the allure of the indie writing community and thought we’d start with how we came around to creating our blog, one that celebrates indie writers and why we love them so much.

Both of us are writers in our own fields of interest – as for me, fiction writing, and S.A. in poetry. As many of us do, we turned to Twitter as a way to share our work and connect with other writers. During times of writer’s block and other frustrations, we were simply looking to find a person or two who might like to read what we were working on and even offer support. But what we came across was a seemingly endless world of indie writers, all very friendly and all so passionate about what they did. So we decided to read one of their books. Soon, one book turned into ten, which turned into twenty, and now the list keeps growing every day. Not only were these books wonderfully written, thought-provoking and fun to read, but the authors were always so grateful when you’d tweet them a little note telling them how much you loved their work. We were hooked!

SoTheStory

As we continued our exploration through the indie world, we realized how hard these writers truly work. They take on the role of designer, publicist, and social media director, working their butts off every day to get their names out there and yet so many people are missing out on these literary gems simply because they don’t know where to find them. Thus, how the idea for So The Story Goes was born. We wanted to create a place where we could promote indie writers of all genres, somewhere indie writers could turn to when they wanted to share their latest piece. A place where, if someone was looking for something new and fresh, beyond what the bookstores sell, they could find it.

Don’t get us wrong – we still love reading books by well-established, big five published authors and would enthusiastically recommend their books, as well. One of our favourite Canadian writers, Sylvain Reynard, has recently had his books picked up by Berkeley. But his stories started out as Twilight fan fiction that gained great momentum thanks to readers that believed in his writing. And through his success, he has always maintained a connection with his fans, always gracious in his interactions with them. It’s this connection and camaraderie that make the indie community such a wonderful place to be. If we can help an indie writer succeed by building their fan base, that’s fantastic. But if we can open a reader’s eyes to a new writer they may never have heard of otherwise, that’s even better!

So The Story Goes features weekly book recommendations, poetry installments, and exclusive interviews and excerpts by indie writers from all over the world. You can find us at www.indielitgems.wordpress.com

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Kim Jorgensen Gane: The Judy Blume Project (Part 2)

Yesterday, I handed the reins of my blog over to blogger and writer Dana Talusani as part of my Friday guest blogger feature CHRIS’S CORNER. She and her colleague Kim Jorgensen Gane have launched an ambitious endeavor to capture the widespread love and adoration of female readers everywhere across generations for the soothing words and life lessons so gently and thoughtfully doled out by young adult author Judy Blume. Their plan to collect this positive feedback and put it into a lovingly wrapped anthology of heartfelt gratitude is called The Judy Blume Project.

In Part 1, Dana talked about what led to the evolution of the Project. Today in part 2 of this week’s guest blog, Kim picks up with the story and shares what kind of support and feedback have been received so far and how readers can potentially participate in the special anthology tribute.

You can also follow Kim on Twitter here.

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KimJorgensenGane

It took six days. And the Judy Blume Project was born, and we’ve had some wonderful support from people like Chris, in offering us this opportunity to be guests on her blog and wax poetic about our delicious collaboration.  We had a fantastic break from editor, Heather Clisby, of @BlogHerLife with the recent feature of Kim’s post on the CALL FOR SUBMISSION. 

And why has our little #JudyBlumeProject resonated with people?  Because Judy Blume has impacted the lives of so many angst-ridden tween and teenage souls out there, and the soul never forgets.

We remember how Judy helped us deal with puberty and confusion in ways that made us feel like we were neither crazy nor abnormal.  We vividly remember that Judy helped us understand our raging hormones, first love, how fleeting it is and the fact that it was perfectly reasonable for that to be the case, and what to expect when “Ralph” made his first appearance.  Judy helped some readers deal with the loss of someone close and very special to them, and how many different emotions are awakened and that those feelings are perfectly acceptable.

Most importantly, we remember Judy’s unfailing honesty in the face of just about any experience, and the fact that she didn’t talk to us like we were kids.  Like the favorite aunt that slips you Boones Farm Strawberry Hill for the first time, and holds your hair when your puke smells of the putridly sweet stuff, Judy Blume listened and was there any time you could smuggle a flashlight beneath the covers—honesty without the side of judgment.

Chances are if you’re reading this, you feel the same way.  There is no wrong answer, there is nothing too poignant or too horrific or too funny to share with us about your memories of the works of Judy Blume, and how they impacted you, rescued you, saved your sanity, or made you laugh.

So here’s what you need to do:

1. Write the damn thing! (Around 500 words, but we’re not picky.)

2. Grab our cute little badge from Dana (source code is listed below this #2 entry), apply that and the links to either or both Kim’s or Dana’s CALL FOR SUBMISSION posts (this is so that all posts are cohesive and recognizable, and of course so that your friends and followers can find us and participate as well—the more the merrier!).

center><a href=”http://thekitchwitch.com/2013/03/the-judy-blume-project-update/“><img border=”0″ src=”http://thekitchwitch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/blume-button.jpg“/></a></center>

3. Post it to your blog (if you have one, if you don’t, email it to either Kim or to Dana).

4. Post the link for YOUR #JudyBlumeProject blog post/submission to OUR Facebook page.

5. Tweet, retweet and promote the crap out of it on Facebook, too (using the #JudyBlumeProject hash tag, @thekitchwitch and @KimJGaneWCPosse—we want to TREND on Twitter), and implore your followers and friends to join in the fun. Persuade them that they do NOT have to be a writer to participate! They need only have a vivid memory of and love for Judy.

6. SUBMISSIONS are OPEN THROUGH THE END OF JUNE 2013…but please don’t make us wait that long!

7. Selected submissions may be subject to light editing, and participants can expect to be contacted sometime in July as to whether their piece will be included in the finished anthology. For some, this could be a first official author credit!

 

CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Dana Talusani: The Judy Blume Project (Part 1)

Last week, I launched a new #FollowFriday-inspired feature called CHRIS’S CORNER. Every Friday, I ceremoniously hand over control of my blog to a special guest whom I feel has a message or expertise of interest to my readers and blog subscribers. In the inaugural edition, author and blogger Carrie Bailey of Peevish Penman introduced herself and shared wonderful advice on what to expect if given the responsibility of being a guest blogger. Seemed an appropriate enough topic, and one met with enthusiasm from readers.

Today, I’m excited to touch upon a very different subject— the impact and legacy that one woman’s work can have on generation after generation of women of all ages, ethnicities, social backgrounds and geographic locations. (No, this blog is not about E.L. James.) Her name is Judy Blume and for most women ages 18 to 50, she has served in any number of prestigious roles, from second mama or big sis to guide, counselor or friend. Her books have reached many of us at a time when trying to understand what was going on within our minds, our hearts and especially our bodies was far more difficult to comprehend than any subject in grade school.

I recently came upon two thoughtful and witty writers who learned of just how far-reaching Blume’s impact has extended and an intriguing and global endeavor they’ve taken on to capture that impact in one loving, affectionate anthology, a love letter of sorts, to an author who has left an indelible impression.

It’s called The Judy Blume Project, and the women behind it are bloggers and writers Dana Talusani and Kim Jorgensen Gane. I even blogged about my discovery of the project earlier in the year. I asked them if they would share the story of how the project evolved and what my friends here reading this blog can possibly do to take part, should they feel a special kinship with Ms. Blume and her legion of fans worldwide.

Here in Part 1, Dana shares the impetus behind the Project. Tomorrow, Kim will share in Part 2 exactly what you can do for a potential opportunity to participate.

You can also follow Dana on Twitter here.

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On a warm evening last September, I failed my ten-year old daughter.

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve made mistakes a-plenty since the day she was born—but somehow it always shocks me, this coming up short.

I should have been more present, more prepared. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t prepared on the morning when she shyly asked me to shave her underarms. I wasn’t prepared to discover that there was hair sprouting in other places, too. I wasn’t prepared to see the stretch marks—red, angry tiger stripes—on her budding breasts. I thought I had so much more time.

True, I’d bought her 3 cute sports bras last year and stealthily placed American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You on her nightstand, but for puberty to swoop down and snatch my daughter in her vicious, whirlwind talons seemingly overnight?  Seven kinds of wrong.

I couldn’t decide how to feel…angry or proud or panicked or cheated or sentimental. Turns out, it was all of those things.

So on a September evening, I sat next to my daughter on the front porch, grasping for my bearings, my breath, my words. I didn’t know an elegant way to explain the mechanics of things to a ten-year old and I didn’t expect to bungle it so badly. I didn’t understand that I needed to be okay with her growing up before talking to her about growing up.

She kept her gaze firmly focused on the rabbits scampering in our front yard, squared her jaw,  jiggled her legs staccato-fashion, and did not want to hold my hand.

It hurt when she didn’t want to hold my hand because I really, really wanted to hold hers.

Instead, the hand that I coveted went militantly into the air.

“Mom. Mom. Just stop talking. STOP. Stop talking, okay? I’d rather read about it in the book.”

So I let her go, my little rabbit, back inside to safe territory. I remained on the porch, dug my fingers into my scalp and wept a little. I wept and thought, “Dammit, where is Judy Blume when you need her?”

At that moment, I desperately wanted Judy sitting next to me on that porch, extending her hand. She’d know how to make this all better.

Judy Blume:  Surrogate mother of my generation.  Sparing no detail, she explained the weirdo stuff happening to my body— stuff that I was mortified to broach with my own mother. She made me not so frantic about the roaring in my head and in my heart. She gave me a compass when I was convinced I was lost in the woods. And here I was, a grown woman, fumbling through the woods again; needing guidance.

It took me a few days to lick my wounds before I could write about failing my daughter.  It was a hard and humbling piece to write, and I wrestled with myself before hitting “publish.”  But I did.

I hit publish because it wasn’t just a piece about puberty suckage and my parental failure. It was also a love letter of sorts; a love letter to a woman who meant so much to me in those tender, thundering years. I thought Judy deserved that kind of tribute.

Turns out, a lot of other women agreed. A lot. Almost as soon as I hit that publish button, comments and emails and texts came tumbling in. From women of many nations, of many faiths, of many colors. Women raising their hands in a collective roar of “Me too! Me too! She meant so much….”

I wasn’t necessarily surprised that Judy Blume shaped many women, but I was surprised at the willingness of women to respond and open themselves—many of them women who didn’t know whodahell I was or whatdahell my blog was about or wheredaheck to find me. But it didn’t matter, because none of these women were strangers. We were all connected by the Sisterhood of Judy.

One of these unknown sisters read through the responses/comments on my post and said something to the effect of: “Wouldn’t it be great if *someone* brought all of these voices together? Maybe in anthology form? GOOD LUCK !”

 

Thought #1: Who is this chick?

Thought #2: She is clearly mentally unstable or at least teetering on the ledge, because this idea is crazy.

Thought #3: But what if?

So I emailed Probably Weirdo Crazy Lady.

She responded:

#1. I am Kim and I am a mom and writer who lives in Michigan.

#2. I am only a little mentally unstable. I am a mom, after all. But isn’t life a little richer with a bit of crazy?

#3. What if, indeed. You are onto something here. You should go with it.

Email to Kim: Umm, I don’t think you understand. I am a nervous small dog of a person and just the idea of something this big makes me crackerjackbatshitcrazy.

Email to Dana: I like small dogs. Plus, I am more of a Saint Bernard kind of person, so I can bring you rescue whiskey and carry you on my back down the mountain if you pop crackerjacks.

Email to Kim: Dude, this is not something I can do. I’m a quitter. I am afraid of everything.

Email to Dana: Didn’t you just share a parental  fail on the Internet? You’re not as afraid as you think. This is going to go somewhere. Do it.

Email to Kim: Look man, I’m not going down alone. If I’m gonna fail, I’m taking you with me.

Email to Dana: Let’s Go.

*Some woman* on the internet who just so happened to read my blog and who firmly believes in helping other women to find their voices, their confidence, their bliss and to recognize their true potential, whom I’d never met or talked to in my life, offered her hand and strangely, I found that one hand is sometimes all you need.

One hand. One matchstick can set a fire. 

It took six days. And the Judy Blume Project was born.

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…to be continued tomorrow with Part 2 and how you can get involved with The Judy Blume Project. Stay tuned!

Happy reading!
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CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Carrie Bailey: Friends Don’t Let Friends Blog Alone

Yesterday, I let the proverbial cat out of the bag in a new blog. The concept of #FollowFridays just took on a whole new meaning at the KuhnStories site.

Today marks the introduction of CHRIS’S CORNER, a special Friday feature during which I pass the reins to a trusted voice and give that guest the floor here at my blog to shed some light on a topic of interest to me, as well as my readers and blog followers.

I’m excited about launching the inaugural edition of this new Friday morning guest blogger series by introducing you to the key inspiration for it. Her name is Carrie Bailey, and if you don’t already follow her, I suspect you will by the time you’re done reading her blog.

Carrie hails from the Pacific Northwest and has the coffee addiction to substantiate it. More than that, the self-described “dystopian author” had the creativity, ingenuity and chutzpah to approach me about guest-blogging at my site. When I responded with my signature dopey look of confusion tinged with a little shame, she offered to enlighten and virtually christen my blog in the role of guest blogger. Seeing an educational opportunity that could stretch far beyond this week, I decided to invite others after Carrie to talk about a variety of topics of interest among the worlds of books, writing, pop culture and the like, so you will hear from many of these incredible people for weeks and months to come.

So, today, CHRIS’S CORNER brings you Carrie Bailey, author of  the fortchcoming The Guards of Auck and the novella Bungle of Oz, among others. She also serves as a charming ringmaster of sorts for a talented consortium of independent writers at The Peevish Penman. This blog is worth checking out for writers of any genre and level of experience to savor practical writing and publishing tips and advice wrapped in a tasty, nutritious and frequently hilarious wrapper. For more info about Carrie and her work, you can also visit www.carriebaileybooks.com.

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Chris wrote the most touching post I’ve read in a long time. It was titled My Own Sesame Street (Sort of). At the end of the post, she thanked the people online who make her feel like part of something bigger than just one computer and one woman with a story to tell. The best part is that I was one of them. Me. That was awesome.

After I finished reading it, I contacted her and suggested a guest post. Chris responded by telling me she would have to figure out how that would be done. I was stunned. Floored. Gasping for breath. A friend of mine who hadn’t been guest posting? This would be fixed, and I was just the blogger to get the ball rolling. After explaining the email, cut, and paste routine, I thought about what it was like when I first begin inviting guests to post on Peevish Penman.

Most of the people who agreed to write a post for my site were looking to increase the traffic to their own online homes. Each guest post is an opportunity for blogging authors to link to their websites, blogs, Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, and similar. The authors I invited wrote about press releases, writing scams, and lots of important issues about working as a freelance writer that I didn’t understand at the time, to be honest. I’ve gone back and read those posts when I was ready for the information and often found them invaluable.

Some of my early guest authors were people who sought out author websites for quick links and put no useful information in their posts. No opinions. No resources. No interesting anecdotes. They got a few quick links, stated what they were selling, and then I never heard from them again. My blog often felt cheaper after they had gone. Dirty almost, like it needed a metaphorical shower and a friend’s shoulder to cry on over an afternoon mimosa. This happens because links inside blog posts on other websites are used in the complex calculations that Google performs to determine which pages and posts come up in their search engine. Yeah, that applies to the other search engines, too, and that’s all they were after. They didn’t care about me or my blog AT ALL! Sob!

Great guest posting experiences have the same things in common with great dinner party guests, i.e. bringing wine, arriving on time, amusing anecdotes. There are just a few guidelines that make all the difference.

Bring quality content.

Imagine if you invited someone to your house for dinner and then they handed out their business card, bragged about their busy schedule, tried to sell all the other guests insurance or something, and then left early. Yeah, no. They won’t be invited back. A good guest post brings something of value to your blog. They offer experience, humor, support, and they avoid going for the hard sell.

Personally, I didn’t know what to say when I first started writing guest posts for other people’s blogs. I had been posting other people’s writing on my own site for two years before I gathered the courage to ask someone if I could write something for them. It wasn’t exactly good. I tried to be funny, but I didn’t understand their audience. The author who accepted my second attempt changed half of my wording until it didn’t even sound like me anymore. We still tweet each other though. We were both learning and they understood that as well as I did.

Build relationships.

The Internet brings out the strangest behavior in otherwise normal people. You wouldn’t show up to someone’s house, open the door, and shout, “I’m awesome! Buy my stuff! Bye!” and then turn around run down their driveway cackling madly about how great you are at business without engaging anyone in conversation. Yet, the internet leads some to think this is the best way to approach visiting other people’s blogs. Some authors don’t even return to your site to respond to comments.

Guest posters may not have anything to offer each other for a while after exchanging posts. But, done right, it’s the start of a good relationship. Sometimes I catch one of their tweets or they catch mine and we rekindle our association. Morgan Barnhart wrote many posts for my site in the early stages of my writing career when I was blogging without a clue. Now she owns Sociable Boost and I know I can go to her site for the best information about social media. She’s also a voice talent and is one of the first people to review my publications.

That’s right. Effective guest posting is about networking. When I get a chance to connect one on one with another author, we often sit down and trade efforts over a few weeks. We trade badges, which are another way to increase linking, we trade reviews of each other’s work, we trade tips on blogging and social media, and we give each other beneficial feedback. These relationships can run their course, but often that leads to us recommending each other for years. It’s more than just a link.

Occasionally, I run into someone who doesn’t want to network and is only interested in being a writing buddy and we exchange contact information. They may want to work together eventually, but they don’t feel ready to self-promote. These can be valuable friends, but I take caution and put limits on my interactions with people who don’t view writing as a business. Jealousy comes in all forms and it seems to hover around those obsessed with their worth as artists. Yes, I’ve gotten drunk calls from writers. Writers who wasted my time by posting guest posts of mine and pulled them down when I didn’t take their drunk call every evening and stop working on my novel to begin a joint venture with them. Wait, no, I mean alcoholics. Avoid alcoholic authors. Shy ones are fine.

 I want to thank Chris for giving me the chance to write about guest posting. I’m finally at the place where I feel comfortable with what I have to offer other people with my writing. If there is any advice I can give Chris or anyone else on getting started, I’d like to say treat people’s blogs like their homes. That’s what I’m really trying to say. We spend a lot of time developing them and making them our face to the world of online publishing. If you can remember that at all times, you’ll be in high demand and well admired everywhere you post.

Carrie Bailey is the author of a reptilian self-help book and an Oz novella about Bungle, the glass cat with pink marble brains. She obsesses over pineapple and coffee daily on Twitter as @PeevishPenman.