Writer’s Block Presentation Overview

I met so many amazing people at I_Blog last weekend, and one of those was a fellow Iowan, Emily Muhlbach, who is Media Relations Manager at Mount Mercy University. Besides being very sweet and funny, Emily is also a writer and has a blog with a great title — Pitches and Glitches.

Today Emily posted an awesome overview of my Writer’s Block presentation. In fact, I’m pretty sure her synopsis is better than my presentation was! So head on over to Pitches and Glitches and check it out…

Post-conference overwhelm (wrapped in simile)

This was me this past weekend at the amazing I_Blog Conference at the Historic Hotel Pattee in Perry Iowa.

absorbing all the great informationYes, I was a sponge, absorbing everything I could—ideas, information, names, URLs, (and food and beer). It was incredible.

But since returning home, instead of a sponge, I feel more like this guy:

Just lying there with my eyes open, staring out into the vastness of cyberspace. So much awesome information. So many amazing people.

Only so much room in my tiny brain.

So please bear with me while I, not unlike this lazy mandrill, work through my catatonic state.

The weird thing is, my hair doesn’t look much different from his either.

And I’m pretty sure we both smell.

I promise, I’ll recharge from my brain overload and post something of substance soon. (And, possibly, clean myself as well.)

Sponge Image by ratner

Mandrill image by Cholin

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10 Reasons you should attend I_Blog (Oh, and I’m GIVING AWAY one ticket!)

*** Congrats to Gregory Hauenstein for being chosen by Random.org as my I_Blog ticket winner! Thanks to everyone who entered to win. I hope some of you who didn’t win the ticket will still consider joining me! It’s going to be awesome! ***

I just took another look at the I_Blog Conference web site, and everytime I look there is something new to get excited about! (Right now it’s the Iowa Wine and Beer Social. Mmm…)

Really, friends, this is a conference with so much to offer that it will be worth the time and money you spend. And even better, I am giving away one conference pass! But first, you have to listen to my pitch. (smile)

Can you relate to these 10 descriptions?

If even one of these descriptions sounds like you, I encourage you to attend!

  1. You own a business or manage a business. I am really looking forward to hearing Joseph Lundberg from LinkedIn speak. Heard of LinkedIn? I thought so. (If not, all the more reason you should come!) He’s going to talk about how businesses or individuals can use LinkedIn to make themselves more productive and successful. Who couldn’t use that? And on Sunday, blogger, author and public speaker Linsey Knerl will present “Collaboration vs. Competition: Boosting Your Business Through Rivalry.” This is a session that I’m sure everyone can apply to their own lives.
  2. You are a writer. I’m so, so, so excited to rub elbows with some amazing writers over the weekend. (And I’m really hoping some of their talent will rub off on my elbows, too.) First, we have Heather King, writer and blogger at The Extraordinary Ordinary. Let’s see, she just won a 2010 BlogLuxe Award, was discovered by a literary agent from her blog and is one of Nielsen’s Top 50 Power Moms. Yeah, she’s good. Oh, and then there’s Beth Blair, a freelance travel writer and co-founder of TheVacationGals.com. She’s frequently quoted in the media (we’re talking FoxNews.com and RealSimple.com, just to name a few). Yeah, she’s good, too.
  3. You own a camera. Okay, now that should include just about everybody. Seriously, does anyone NOT own a camera these days? You don’t have to have a blog or want to become a professional photographer to benefit from Darcy and Randy Milder’s sessions. They own His & Hers Photography, and Darcy blogs at Life with My 3 Boybarians and owns Graphically Designing. They are amazing photographers AND teachers. I got so much from them last year and can’t wait to learn more. My favorite thing was that Darcy showed photos that people took and then revealed that some of them were taken with cheap point-and-shoot cameras (or even camera phones). You don’t have to have expensive equipment to take beautiful photos. (I’m hoping to learn what some of the settings on my camera mean, since I’ve had it now for probably 5 years and still don’t know…)
  4. You like to eat and drink. I’m raising my hand on this one! The Hotel Pattee, which is hosting the conference has the most wonderful food, and there will be plenty of good libations as well, especially at the Iowa Wine and Beer Social. You will not go away hungry (or parched!).
  5. You want to make money. Again, another category in which most everyone can put themselves. There are several sessions related to making money specifically from blogging, such as “How to Win a Sponsor’s Attention–And Money” by Carol Schiller from Cozi.com. I’m really looking forward to seeing her again. We met in Ashville last year, and I was incredibly impressed with her and also Cozi as a company. Another session is “Ad Networks and Monetizing Your Blog” by Melanie Nelson of Blogging Basics 101 and Typepad for Dummies and Ang England of AngEngland.com and Making Money from Your Blogging, as well as Jody from FamilyRambling.com and the I_Blog Conference. These women have the experience, connections, and track record to tell what works and what doesn’t. I can’t wait to soak up their info and later pick their brains. (At an intimate conference like this, there is PLENTY of time for one-on-one chats!) And even if you’re not a blogger, many of the other sessions are directed at increasing your success in whatever field you’re in, which can directly correlate with monetary rewards.
  6. You wonder how social media relates to your job or life. If you’re not sure about this whole “Facebook” phenomenon, or you think Tweets are for Twits, listen to what some of these speakers have to say. Claire Celsi, The Public Relations Princess and VP of the Des Moines Social Media Club, is going to present “Using Social Media to Build Your Online Presence.” Later, Lyz Lenz from YourTango.com will continue the conversation with “Look Who’s Talking: Using Social Media to Expand Your Audience and Your Influence.” Both are successful women who know the power of social media in all aspects of life and business, and they can help separate the wheat from the chaff in the cyberworld.
  7. You own a computer or mobile phone, or use one at work. Dennis Dohrmann from Verizon will be speaking about Mobile Technology, and Bryan Assata from Threshold Communications will explain how to protect your hardware, software, passwords and more. We could all likely use these sessions!
  8. You have a blog or website or want to start one. If you are even remotely interested in blogging, you should not miss this opportunity to be in the same place as so many successful blogging experts. Saturday morning Melanie Nelson will talk about Blogging Basics for beginners. She is AMAZING. Later, Brett Trout will talk about Intellectual Content and Trademarking Your Blog, and what it means to “own your content.” Ang England will speak again about SEO and Why It Matters. (If you don’t know what SEO is and you have a website, you NEED THIS SESSION.) Darcy Milder will present a session on WordPress, one of the most popular blogging platforms.
  9. You are interested in video blogging (or being a YouTube sensation). I really, really need this session. I bought a Flip camera but have yet to do any video blogging. I guess I’m not sure anyone really wants or needs to see the “real” me. But I think this is a step I need to take, so I’m anxious to see what Dave Sniadak, video guy and PR pro at Axiom, has to say. I think this relates not only to bloggers and individuals, but businesses as well. Video is quickly becoming the preferred medium, it seems.
  10. You like beautiful boutique hotels. Say no more…Hotel Pattee will not disappoint. I can’t believe I have lived in Iowa all my life, and it wasn’t until last year that I finally visited this incredible historic hotel. Honestly, it’s worth a trip to Perry, whether for the conference or for a weekend getaway some other time (or both!). The place is so unique, the food is incredible, and the people are all about customer service.

So, have I convinced you yet?

Tickets are still available! Order here!

If you’d like to WIN A CONFERENCE PASS ($199 value that does not include lodging–if you need a roomie, check out the Facebook page!), please leave a comment and tell me why you’d like to come. I will randomly choose one winner on Friday, October 22 at 8 p.m. CST!

And if you have any questions about I_Blog, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or Tweet me @pjmomof3boys or email me at paulareece@msn.com!

Why I Love Jody — and the I_Blog Conference

***Update: Jody created my own coupon code (I’ve never had my own coupon code!) if you register for the I_Blog Conference! Get $20 off with the code FOP (friend of Paula)! Thanks, Jody!!***

If it weren’t for Jody Halsted, I wouldn’t still be blogging.

I know myself too well. Without the support, guidance, and education I’ve received from Jody over the past 2 1/2 years, I know I would’ve gotten too busy or too frustrated, too discouraged or too overwhelmed. My blog would’ve followed along the path of so many other things in my life: started with a bang and then fizzled out.

She’s my biggest cheerleader, and she’s also a good-enough friend to tell me when I’m not doing something I should be, or when I’m doing something I shouldn’t. She’s the Felix to my Oscar.

That’s why when she decided last year that she was just going to put together a little blogging conference, I knew it was going to be great. That’s just how she does everything. And I was even more impressed than I had prepared to be.

I_Blog Conference 2009, at the Historic Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa

Here’s the deal—she knows what she’s doing. She knows social media, and she knows people. She knows what people want to hear, and she knows what’s a waste of time. She knows how to put together a lineup that includes something for everyone—or everything for everyone, as most of last year’s attendees would agree.

Attendees of I_Blog 2009 get connected online and offline.

I_Blog 2010 is looking to be even better than last year. She has booked some national experts in social media who will not only help you where you’re at, whether you’re a beginner or growing a business, but they’ll also chat with you over cocktails or breakfast. They’re great people.

Deb Brown of debworks.com at I_Blog 2009

So you’ll definitely be getting your money’s worth by attending the sessions. But Jody also knows how to create a destination event for people, being the travel writer she is, and the Hotel Pattee does not disappoint. The themed rooms are gorgeous and eclectic. The bowling lanes in the basement of the hotel make for a fun happy hour, and the food is amazing.

We stayed in the Scandinavian Room at the Hotel Pattee. The decor was so beautiful! I didn't feel worthy!
This was the door to our BATHROOM. Incredible!
Jennic Law, owner of kangarooboo.com, tries out the lanes at the Hotel Pattee.
Relaxin' and socializin' at I_Blog 2009 (and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play).

I highly recommend attending I_Blog Conference this November. Register now to make sure you get in. Part of the appeal is the intimate size of the conference!

Me and my friend and roomie Kara at I_Blog 2009.

If you’ve ever considered blogging or just want to learn more about social media, I’m telling you — you won’t want to miss this event.

Jody Halsted (right) with Jenny Dammann, social media queen at Creative Memories.
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Help me out?

Dear peeps,

Would you do me a favor? I need to start making some money on this whole blog gig, at least to pay for my hosting fees, so I need to come up with a media kit to seek out some advertisers . . . Here’s where YOU come in!

In order to put together a media kit, I need to disclose my demographics. That would be you all. So if you would be so kind as to click on the link below to take my super-duper easy-peasy survey, I would be eternally grateful.

[Click here for the Boogers & Burps survey]

You guys rock! Thanks!

Love,

P

Digging for Gold—A Nugget from the Boogers & Burps Archive, Vol. 1

Since I’ve now been blogging for nearly two years (Seriously, has it been that long?!), I thought I’d bring back some of the more popular posts every now and again in case you missed them the first time around. So here’s the first installment, a symptomatic guide to determine if you, too, have been overtaken by boys.

“Sorry to tell you this, ma’am, but you’ve got a raging case of boys!”

(click above to read the post)

Finding Time—Without Going Cuckoo

So you’ve probably noticed that it’s now been two days since I posted anything.

Believe me, people, I’m trying. I really am.

After BlissDom, one of my takeaways was that I need to be more consistent and post EVERY DAY.

And with my (sister’s) suitcase not even unpacked yet (Yes, I realize it’s been two weeks), I have already failed. In fact, I think I’m more sporadic now than ever.

Tonight, as I fretted about not knowing what to write about and feeling pressured to produce something somewhat worthy of Google Reader, I began wondering: How in the h-e-double hockey sticks do all these other women post so consistently? And not only post, but post stuff that’s good.

Because here was my day, people. This is what I had to work with.

6:45 – Wake up to Husband’s alarm clock and curse my iPhone alarm clock app which has failed to go off at my requested time of 5:20 AGAIN. Go downstairs to try to finish a freelance proofing project that I had fallen asleep working on the night before.

7:00 – Husband asks, “Are you ready to go?” (Let me back up here. My van has been in the shop for 9 days now. Some sort of electrical short in the heater blower. Long story short, I haven’t heard from the shop since Friday, and I’m pretty sure my van has been kidnapped. But I really don’t want to rush paying the $500+ I’m going to have to shell out, so I don’t call them either. Now it’s become a battle of the wills.) Since we are a one-car family right now, I have to take Husband to work and then come home to take the boys to school. This morning, I chauffer him to work still wearing my pink sock monkey pajamas.

8:30 – Since we have a one-hour late start each Wednesday for teacher in-service, I tell Boy #2 it’s time to go to school. Since arriving home from taking Husband to school, I have managed to finish my proofing job, shower, get dressed, and brush my teeth. Boy #2 starts whining that his throat hurts because of his coughing. I don’t doubt that it does, but he’s a bit of a hypochondriac when it comes to going to school lately. However, after a bout of “the runs” (him, not me) I tell him I will take his brother to school first and make sure his stomach is better before I take him.

9:00 – Boy #1 complains that it’s not fair that Boy #2 doesn’t have to go to school right away. Yelling between brothers ensues. I push everyone into the car and drive toward the middle school.

9:05 – Boy #1 tells me to stop at the gas station to get him gum. I tell him no. Disrespectful comments follow. Then a little yelling by me. I love the middle school years.

9:15 – I call Boy #2’s school to tell them that he will be arriving late and get the answering machine. I leave a message.

9:20 – I get a slightly condescending-tone-“What’s going on?” call from Boy #2’s school secretary, who I do not think believes that Boy #2 has medical issues that cause him to miss school and arrive late at times (which unfortunately he does). I tell her that I just left a message. She says, “That’s funny; we don’t have any messages.” I’m pretty sure she thinks I’m irresponsible AND now a liar.

9:30 – I walk Boy #2 in to school. The secretaries give me the “bad parent” look. I’m used to it. Boy #2 gets his pass, on which he’s marked “tardy,” and I walk him to his locker. He then realizes that his jeans have been completely unbuttoned AND unzipped, and I discreetly help him hitch up his britches before he heads to class. On the way back by, I stop back in the office and inquire as to why Boy #2 was marked “tardy.” Explanations follow. The secretaries now hate me more than ever.

9:40 – I drop Boy #3 off at daycare and don’t make it out the door before he’s picked his nose and wiped a booger on the snack table.

9:45 – I get a call about the ETA of my freelance proofing project. I say I am driving there as we speak. I arrive at 10:00 and drop it off.

10:15 – I walk in to Husband’s school to deliver his wallet, which he had left on the dresser.

10:45 – I finally arrive at my job—you know, where they pay me. To work. I proofread the Teacher’s Edition of a grammar textbook until 2:30 and drink 3 cups of coffee to keep me awake while doing it.

2:30 – I leave work to pick up Boy #2 from school. After shopping at the book fair, we leave to go pick up Boy #3 from daycare. He’s excited because I have bought them both a Kit-Kat, which I hand to him before driving off. He immediately drops the Kit-Kat on the floor and commences to yell. I drive with one hand, the other hand feeling around on the floor behind me for the precious chocolate stick. Feeling it, I hand it back to Boy #3, trying not to think about the grit that is likely stuck to it.

4:00 – I get a text from Boy #1 (from his friend’s phone since my son’s the ONLY middle-schooler without a phone) asking if he can get off the bus at his friend’s house.

4:30 – I have been home 30 minutes when Husband calls and asks me to pick him up from a math competition at a local college. I load Boys #2 and #3 back into the car (since Boy #1 is at his friend’s house), and we make the rush-hour drive to the heart of Des Moines. Oh, and I almost forgot: the dog comes with us too. Because Boy #3 is sure he wants to. I pick up Husband (literally) alongside the road and we head home.

5:15 – I make pasta and salad for supper.

5:30 – Boy #3 asks me if he can clean the bathroom, which would be music to my ears if I didn’t know that it was just an excuse to get things wet. But I agree, and he actually works pretty hard on it. The floor is sopping wet and the mirror is a little difficult to see into now that it is covered in streaks from top to bottom, but he’s so proud of himself that I just heap on the praise.

6:15 – We wolf down the meal in 3 minutes. Well, all of us except Boy #1, who is due home at 6:30.

6:30 – Boy #1 arrives home (on time!), and I announce that I’m going to the coffee shop to try to get some work done. Begging, pleading, and guilt-inducing comments fly. Finally, I give in and say that I will stay home if I am guaranteed some peace and quiet so I can concentrate and try to write.

Riiiiiiight.

6:40 – Boy #3 is sitting on top of me in the recliner, asking me to put a Band-Aid on his lip. Boy #1 is arguing with his dad about geometry. Boy #2 is by my side asking if he can show me “just one more” magic trick. Boy #1 then yells at Boy #2 to be quiet. “Mom’s trying to work!!!” (If only tweens understood the extent of their irony.) I ask for headphones. Boy #1 finds me a pair, and I try to drown out the house with some Vivaldi. It doesn’t work. I go upstairs to sit in my room. Husband is there on his computer, talking to his students in an online tutoring session. After approximately 3 minutes of calcuspeak quiet, Boy #3 opens our bedroom door and comes in to “whisper a magic trick” of his own. I try to write and listen to him perform his card trick. Doesn’t work. Multitasking and creativity are not bosom buddies.

And suddenly it’s bedtime. I check homework. I read to Boy #2 while he sprawls halfway on, halfway off my bed, which in my current state of mind, drives me flippin’ crazy. (Especially after I’ve already told him twice to stay on the bed!) Boy #3 falls asleep in his underwear beside me in my bed. Boy #1 takes a shower and then proceeds to yell, “Mom! Towel!” when he’s done. Funny how they never think about the fact that they might want to dry off BEFORE they actually step into the shower. I grab a towel off the bathroom floor, give it the sniff test, and hand it to him. That’s what you get for not planning ahead! Then I wait until I am officially allowed into his room so as to not catch him in his nakedness (because apparently I’ve never seen him in his natural state), and I clear a spot on his chair so I can sit and read. I get one page read when he barks at me to turn off the light because it “makes it hard for him to breathe after he takes a shower.” Whatever in the heck that means. I inform him that it will be impossible for me to read without a light, and he actually tries to argue with me a little about that fact. (Besides being full of irony, tweens are also completely illogical.) Finally, we go into my room, where I can turn the overhead light off and my lamp on. I guess lamplight isn’t as suffocating as overhead light. I read a few pages of our current book, and Boy #1 heads to bed.

And here we are. It’s 9:30, I’m tired, and I feel about as creative as generic toilet paper.

So tell me, how do all these women do it?

And if you’re one of these women, how do you do it?

How do you find the time, the energy, and the creative spirit to produce good content every single day? You know, aside from illegal drugs or potentially prosecutable child neglect?

Image copyright carlsilver
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Mark Twain on Blogging

I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts about BlissDom ’10. What I learned, what I gained, what I felt.

I tried reading through my notes.

I tried reading through other people’s posts.

Then I tried looking through my photos . . .

And that’s when Mark Twain spoke to me.

You see, my friends and fellow bloggers Jody and Kara road-tripped with me to Nashville from Iowa. On the way down, we were to drive right past Hannibal, Missouri, a place I’d never been but had always wanted to visit. I was an English major, and Mark Twain remains one of my favorite American authors. So when Jody pulled off the highway into downtown Hannibal, I nearly peed my pants. (Partly from excitement and partly because I had been chugging the Coca-Cola like it was, well, Pepsi?)

Looking through the photos I took of Hannibal made me recall what it was about Twain that drew me in, and so I started reviewing some of his most famous quotes.

And that’s when it hit me: Had he lived now, Mark Twain would’ve been a blogger.

And a good one at that. He would’ve been a rock star without trying to be one; honest to the core.

So in honor of the blogger who lived before his time, I’m going to channel the late Mark Twain and allow his words to help me recap my BlissDom experience.

About Writing

“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.”

Twain loved to let a story tell itself, and this was one point stressed in the writing workshops I attended. It’s the former English teacher in me that has to wag my finger and remind myself at times, “Show, don’t tell.” How much more interesting is a story if a reader gets to experience it for herself rather than hearing you retell what happened.

“My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water.”

Resonating with your readers requires finding the “universal specific,” those things that hit a heart string and make them go, “Yeah, I can totally relate.” It’s the familiar voice that readers will keep coming back to. You don’t have to be the next Toni Morrison to be a writer. It’s okay to be one of the “common folk” who likes to tell stories; you’ll appeal to a wider range of readers that way because most everyone, at least at one time in their lives, has lived the ordinary life.

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you are inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

As an editor in my “real life,” I’ve learned that inserting “very” into a sentence tends to have the opposite effect of the one intended. So overused, it waters down the message instead of making it stronger. Megan Jordan of The Velveteen Mind and founder of Blog Nosh Magazine emphasized how she really whittles down her words in the editing process, making sure each serves a purpose. She also made an interesting point about women writers in particular. She said that when women write and talk they use a lot of “qualifiers,” such as “I think I would like . . .” or “It was kind of like . . .” or even by ending a sentence with “Don’t you think?” She suggests reading through a post and crossing out all the qualifiers. Be direct and own it!

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

I have to admit that I love me a good thesaurus. When I was in 8th grade my mom gave me a huge thesaurus titled The Synonym Finder for Christmas, and I still use it today. (I was sooo not your typical 8th grade girl!) Megan admitted she doesn’t like to use the same word more than once in a post if she can help it, so she turns to the thesaurus to help her find another word that carries the same meaning, or perhaps is even more precise.

“The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

I found it very interesting to hear how Megan plans the pauses her readers will make while reading her posts. She calls it “pacing the reader” and directing the “cadence” of her posts. She’ll break up text, use ellipses, and sometimes place just one word on a line by itself. Sometimes she’ll strategically place a photo to create a pause. I suspect she is really a poet dressed in blogger’s clothing.

About Finding (and Embracing) Your Voice

“Wit is the sudden marriage of ideas which before their union were not perceived to have any relation.”

Wanna know a secret? I never thought I was funny until I started blogging. I just thought I was a good complainer. This conference really helped me find my voice and embrace the talents I have. And a lot of speakers talked about humor. Molly Wigand, a writer for Hallmark and my new HERO (especially after she shared a certain BOOGER CARD for kids that she had penned) emphasized the importance of looking at things from a different angle to find creativity and many times a humorous approach to a topic. Deb from Deb on the Rocks called it the “juxtaposition of odd things” that she enjoys creating and reading.

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

When Dana Loesch of Mamalogues made this remark, bells went off in my head: “Humor is my ministry. It’s what I have to give.” Suddenly there wasn’t anything frivolous or shallow about concentrating my efforts on humor in my writing. It’s humor that makes people feel comfortable. It’s humor that makes people connect and feel like they can let down their guard. With humor, I can be real. For me, it’s authentic. It’s me being me, no pretense. I had never before thought of humor as a blessing, a gift, or a ministry. That is definitely something that I will be pondering on sleepless nights (which fortunately, I have plenty of).

“Let us not be too particular; it is better to have secondhand diamonds than none at all.”

Since we’re being real here, I’ll tell you that while I was reading the tweets on Twitter about what so-and-so-blogger was buying for the cocktail parties or how so-and-so-blogger just HAD to go shopping because she had nothing to wear, I opened my wallet and moths literally flew out. Since there was really no money in the budget for me to even attend the conference in the first place, I really didn’t think I should press my luck by asking Husband if I could run to Jordan Creek Mall and pick up a few outfits (and possibly a new purse) (oh, and some shoes too!). But looking through my closet wasn’t very inspiring, so I did the only thing I could afford to do: scoured the clearance racks at Target and hit the local thrift store. And I managed to score two dresses and a few pieces I could pair with things I already owned, which satisfied my longing for some new duds and cost me less than $30 total. So I had to laugh when one of the cute little servers at one of our luncheons came up to me and said, “I love your shirt. Where did you get it?” Was I flattered? Definitely. Was I honest with her? Certainly. “Goodwill,” I said with a smile. “But,” I said, “the brand is Delia’s if you want to try to find it.” Score one for Goodwill! Then at the cocktail party the next night, a super-cute and trendy blogger came up to me and said, “I love your dress! Who is it?” as she grabbed for the tag. “Goodwill,” I said, again with a smile. Later I read her blog and learned that she loves vintage clothing, and although this wasn’t vintage, just used, I still think I may have scored brownie points with her for being honest about my thriftiness in fashion. Next year I may see if Goodwill can sponsor my trip to BlissDom as their spokesmodel . . .

About Community

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Mark and I are completely in sync on this one. If only I could pay my mortgage in compliments, I wouldn’t need any monetary compensation for writing! I can’t tell you how good it felt when, after introducing myself and my blog, I heard these words: “Oh, I’ve heard of you!” Initially, I react with surprise, “Really? You’ve heard of me?” But then my heart swells at the thought of someone I don’t know reading my words and thinking of me. Such a selfish feeling, but one that I think many writers feel. Right???

“If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.”

I’ve read Blogging for Dummies and subscribe to Copyblogger. I research, read, and comment. But there’s nothing like actually meeting other bloggers and communicating with them in real life. I have gotten more out of a 2-day conference than I could’ve gotten out of a year of reading or only interacting online with my peers. It’s funny because many bloggers are rather introverted by nature, but in a conference setting this mutual understanding exists that allows us to let down our guard and relax. We just “get” one another. To use another Twain quote: “Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.” At BlissDom, it was about conversation. (And Harry Connick, Jr.) (And cotton candy martinis.) (But definitely about conversation.)

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

I had the pleasure of spending time with some of the kindest (and most fun) women I have ever met. (Like Aubrey and Sarah and Jennifer and Andi and Laurie and Sara from Denver who doesn’t have a blog and Gussy and Brigid and Alisa who is a kick-A writer but doesn’t have a blog either and Jana and Amber and Robin and Rebekah and Justice Fergie and Susan and Tamara and Heidi and Cecily and Mela and Chris Ann . . . whew!) I will in no way be able to name them all, so please forgive me if we talked and I haven’t mentioned you. The Opryland Hotel was literally saturated with kindness. Honestly, that place is amazing. I didn’t realize such genuine customer service even existed!

“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

I love, love, love this quote. How awesome would it be to live such a good life that even the person who stands to profit from your death is disappointed? Classic Twain: A deep thought wrapped in a humor crust, not unlike a good convenience store burrito.

So thanks be to Mark Twain, a blogger before his time. And don’t even get me started on how he would’ve ruled Twitter . . .

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