Sunday, March 30, 2014

In Case You Missed It

There was some great stuff on the internet this week.

In case you missed it, here's a few links you might enjoy:

--Thinking about a Facebook cleanse? Here's serious food for thought, from "It's been 365 days since my last "Like"

--If you like the thrill of peeking in on celebs from past and present, there's this tumblr I found awhile back. Worth the click, awesomepeoplehangingouttogether

--Have kids who like to fall asleep with their e-readers or tablets? A good post on basic safety advice, from metroparent Milwaukee  "Reading in bed, e-edition"

That's the best of all the enticing out there. Have a wonderful week-end, and leave me a link here if you've got a good share. I'd love to see it.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

True Life Stories: How I Fell Out of Fashion. It Could Happen To You!

In the check-out lane at the grocery store this morning, I tossed the latest issue of Reader's Digest into my shopping cart without giving it a second thought. It was the "Special Humor Edition" and I couldn't wait to get home, put my feet up, pour the decaf and get reading because the special humor edition means "Humor in Uniform" would be extra funny this time.

The cashier finished with my order and I dug around in my brown leather winter purse even though it was now spring, fishing for my eel skin wallet (left over from when eel skin was a thaaang at our 1998 state fair). I paid for my groceries and while slipping on my husband's snow blowing gloves, my fingernails snagged due to the chipping of my neglected two and half week old cherry bomb red manicure. Pushing my cart outside, I thought about how there was a time I would have been going home with the latest Vogue or Glamour instead of Reader's Digest Fun! edition.

But that was before.

Before my life I have now, of me marching out into the spring rain with rain boots on that I borrowed from my 11-year-old son. My Putin-style overcoat was conveniently hanging on the kitchen chair this morning so that's what I grabbed on my rush out of the door. My coat was blowing open in the wind because I never have time to button anything and my hair was soaked by the time I got into the minivan so why even bother with the flat iron. Once to the car, I stopped to readjust the purple rubber band in my hair from last night's broccoli. As I loaded the trunk of the van with groceries that would probably last two days--three if I hid the bread in the freezer--I saw a woman about my age walk past me. She wore an insanely trim tan coat, and it was buttoned. She was clicking along in shiny scuff-free black boots that were HEELED. Her hair looked like she made her salon appointments according to her hairdresser's suggested 8-week rule, not like my "Free afternoon! Is there a place that takes walk-ins?!"

I watched her walk. wondering when I veered off the fashion track.

Once upon a time, I used to look like that. I carry a picture around in my wallet from 1996 in case people don't believe me. "See, here? See how cute I was. I can prove it." I started my car and while I drove, I tried to pinpoint when it was exactly that I took that turn, the one that led to this, the land of the Out of Fashion.

It's a hard fall, and one that leaves your once size four rump sore. When I was in high school and a budding fashion queen, I took a notebook and just to see, I kept track of how long I could go without repeating an outfit. I made it three months.

Three months of looking better than any mannequin in a Jean Nicole store window.

So, when did I go from thinking of the 3C's of my new engagement ring to the 3C's of this morning's clothing choice;  comfort, convenience, clean?

I think I can dissect the genesis of my Fashion Fall this way:

2003 - I choose a jacket I like over a jacket I love, merely because it had a hood, and the other one didn't. First step in "If it keeps me warm I'm gettin' it" lifestyle.

2004 - Gap khakis start to look good one day while I'm at the mall. Six pairs later, they still look good. ::this one, I did not see coming::

2005 - Stretchy pants make their first appearance in my closet. I wear them to exercise class and haven't taken them off since.

2006 -  I decide those dusty rose pajamas I'm wearing can pass for comfort clothes. It's okay to run to the drugstore in them. Only the drugstore, I promise myself.

2007 - I choose the free sunglasses they give out at the 4th of July parade over sun blindness.

2008 - Terrycloth slipper socks with jack-o'-lanterns on them work just as well as normal people socks when you're in a hurry. They even add an extra layer of cush that feels like comfort. And love. All in one.

2009 - I won't give up even one pair of the six pairs of khakis in my closet, not even for a Goodwill donation purge. I might need them, if I ever need to go somewhere. It might happen.

2010 - I quit googling "Are round-toed shoes/capri pants/racer back tanks/take your pick still in style?" before I leave the house to go anywhere anymore.

2011* - I make the decision one morning to leave my house in slippers, telling myself they could pass for clogs at a quick glance.

2012 - For the first time, I desperately try mascara over the new grey hairs on my temples. It looks pretty good, until a day like today when it rains, making me look like I just crawled through a mudslide.

2013 - My friend from Chicago visits. So what if when she sees my clogs she calls them hausfrau shoes then backtracks by telling me they're good for walking through fields of cow shit.

I'm mulling over each of these events and dates as I drive, muttering how I only have myself to blame. Then, I am blessed with the light of realization--my state of fashion isn't hopeless.

I still have one saving grace.

Though I am precariously perched in the Out of Fashion chasm, I have one move left, and this is it:
I haven't given up my cow pie field walking clogs but neither have I paired them with my skinny jeans yet. Uh-huh. Because we all know that one is the nail in the coffin. 

It's the one fashion move you never come back from.

Make skinny jeans with clogs your go-to outfit and that right there, is setting sail down the River Styx.

No turning back from that voyage and even more fashion damning than the winter Colonial Pantaloon look here. [2011: Pivotal point in fashion fall timeline. That's the day I swear I felt a tear in the fashion fabric of my life]

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Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Suburban Haiku

First rule of book club
We don't talk about the books
When we're at book club

When we homeschooled, my kids and I would pass the time while driving to a field trip or waiting in line for a museum exhibit by composing haiku. The three boys fell in love with the fun of the 5/7/5 syllable pattern, and anyone looking over at our huddle would see us counting out to 17 on our fingers. At home, where we were more comfortable letting our freak flags fly, we'd be learning as we counted out claps to our three-line 17 syllable poetry.

That was years ago, and sharing haiku is now our private code... poems sneak up out of nowhere, and we know just what the other is saying, and it goes beyond 17 syllables. It's a love nod to the past, something we shared in the sweet days of beginning our learning together.

Does this sound like we love haiku? We do. And my favorite haiku FB follow, twitter follow, and now author, is Peyton Price. My children and I follow her and when our copy of her debut hard cover, Suburban Haiku arrived in the mail, it landed on the coffee table and has been there ever since. We want to keep it right where we can reach for it and share aloud our love of haiku.

Peyton writes in a warm, intelligent style about life. She is witty, surprising and will make you laugh out loud as quickly as she makes you wipe a tear from your eye. Her work is nothing short of a celebration of our days.

I'm thrilled to be able to give a copy away of Suburban Haiku to a reader here.

Peyton Price's Suburban Haiku takes on the true story of life in the suburbs. In 141 pages filled with the three-phrase style of haiku, you'll tour the world of kids, Saturday soccer in the rain, PTO meetings, yard sales, school drop offs... all in 17 syllables and countless giggles.

You will adore Peyton Price. Follow her on suburbanhaiku. com Hear her read her haiku here Follow her hilarious tweets via @suburbanhaiku  and get a daily dose of haiku pleasure on her Facebook page.

*Leave a comment here and enter to win SUBURBAN HAIKU: Poetic Dispatches From Behind The Picket Fence.

Peyton's book is also available on amazon .

About Peyton:
You can find Suburban Haiku here, at, and on Amazon. Actually, Suburban Haiku is everywhere, if you know where to look. Kind of like weeds. Speaking of which, you might want to do something about that lawn.

I leave you with one more for the haiku road:

Peyton Price@Suburbanhaiku Mar 5

I’m nodding my head
during saxophone lessons
then jerking awake.

Okay, one more:

Note from the teacher:
Your son's losing his temper.

See what I mean? Impossible to not fall head over heels for this book.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

What Do The Birds Say?

Ignore the piles of snow alongside your driveway. Forget about still needing to wear that white wool headband that leaves you looking like the drummer boy returning home from the Civil War. The calendar tells us it's spring! And so do the birds outside my window.

I love the sound of bird songs. I am dorky enough to have this CD in my kitchen going at all times. It makes me happy. Happy, as long as I stay ignorant and just keep on telling myself, they're only bird sounds. They don't serve the purpose of communication, of course not.

120 minutes of bird calls! You wouldn't expect him to be creepy, would you?
This means, just as with WebMD, don't google, "What do birds sing." If you do, then you'll find out why birds sing. It's not to sound pretty, how's that. And if you think you're as smart as a fifth grader and our feathered friends are only setting their lives to a backdrop of trills and whistles merely as the obvious mating calls and to claim territories, you would be wrong. That’s a whole lot of effort and repertoire for “be mine” and “it’s mine.”

Life is complicated, and bird life no less entangled. Predator warnings are needed, information regarding food locations must be sung out, much like hobo markings on a fence in front of a house. “Hey, yo! Over here. And it’s a squirrel-free feeder too!” Maybe they're whistling out, “Hey, it was fun, let’s keep in touch” or “Let’s V-fly formation again soon!”

Mating calls are necessary, but even with their pebble sized brains, birds go beyond “Me want you.” Just like human life, there are whackadoo birds out there, too. Their eyes alight on a particularly dainty yellow finch, they begin screeching out right outside your kitchen window, “I won’t give up. You will be mine! Have you seen the extra food I gots here?” ::deep breath:: “You want THIS.”

Think about how we’re all more alike than not on this planet, makes me kinda glad we don’t know what birds are saying because mating season, y’all. I’m sure there are some calls that if we had a bird-o-translatron what we’d hear would be creepy. Down right inappropriate. Like really gross stuff. “Hey. I got surprises in my nest.” “Who's ready for the world’s biggest worm?”

And what about the bird that we see, all by himself? On that branch right outside your first floor window? No one else around for miles or for hours, yet, that bird keeps on chirping. To himself. Birds are not solitary creatures so is this guy a self-talker like on Seinfeld? I mean, I talk to myself every once in a while. But for hours on end? Outside? For the world to see? Just too sad.

If you've gone and taken your kids with a bag of bread to a pond to feed ducks, you’ll know the quack quack quack sound as you toss slice after slice at them. Is it as simply translated as, “bread bread bread BREAD bread bread.” No... it's all mine, go away, all for me.

In Wisconsin, wild turkeys strut and gobble around all year. They’re unsightly. They are as close to walking scrotums as ever designed. BUT, even more so, turkeys are the annoying people of the world. Gobble gobble gobble gobble. Google “turkey sounds” on youtube and you’ll be screaming ENOUGH after the first 17 seconds into any video.

Bird translations. I know all I have to know. I prefer to just enjoy and imagine they are sweetly innocent and so unlike us. I really don’t want to hear a Robin Red Breast boasting, “Look! Ladies! Shiny things in my nest! Blue ribbons! Some broken candy pieces! Twigs! Look at this place I got here! And let me tell YOU -- Plenty o’room. I do mean plenty cuz you’ll need it for the 80 eggs you’re gonna lay after spending some time with me. *wink wink*”

On second thought, wipe your mind clean of this post. Forget you ever read it. Continue on enjoying our sweet bird callers. Don’t imagine it as arguing, inappropriate pick up lines, shouting to each other to keep away from their tree branch.

I'm sorry if I just ruined spring for all of you. Now, the next time you’re at a park on a beautiful spring day, you’ll hear a bird sing and it won't sound like anything else but, “Hey! I’m talking to you! Big Papa, that's who! That's who and whose army!"

Maybe birds are all crazy like us. Crazy and screaming. Two fold screeching and scaring away while also calling forth. “Stay away. Be mine,” they call out. Just like the rest of us losing our minds because spring. Finally.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New Resource for Parents with Firstborn Children Leaving Home!

The Child Rearing Yearning (CRY) Institute announces that it has released a new resource kit for parents readying their lives, homes, and hearts for the day just months ahead of when their baby first child leaves home.

CRY's new manual is designed especially for a small discussion group (ideally, one crying parent, one lonely cup of coffee in the pre-dawn hours) but may be used in a larger group, preferably one that is not popping champagne corks while enlisting an architect to redesign the soon to be empty upstairs bedroom.

"Transitions and Golden Sunsets" is a workbook compiled by CRY for those who have made the choice to view this season of life as a time to linger and ruminate on the days of being an at home parent to the baby they waited their entire life for. CRY's guides and videos are divided into six-90 minute sections, each covering such topics as Torturing Yourself with the First Baby Tooth Pictures, My Baby Says Mama! essay section, and The Mommy and Me Remember Me Please music circle tapes.

CRY kit owners will be encouraged to explore and examine their feelings about this day of launching that is approaching faster than a bullet train. Assignments will discuss expectations such as Disc One: How Much Crying is Too Much Crying and desensitization of feelings, Disc Two: Baby Steps To Walking Past His Now Empty Room.

Our manual offers information on the latest research regarding the needs of those recently struggling with the new face of displacement. (Contest info included! Send us your photographs! Could YOU be our next face?) Don't look away, because together with CRY's online forum, parents will be instructed in ways that reflect their own values and interests on how to fill the hours of their days until the first school break. Aptitude tests are included to help with re-awakening 30-year-old dormant interests and prompts to encourage new areas of possible exploration.

Sections of self-assurance are offered in which topics such as Did My Parenting Even Matter, to Will He Remember The Time I Let Him Make Me Into His Pony For Twelve Hours, will be covered.

At each chapter's end, tips are offered on ways to develop a supportive community and to recognize the need for renewal of spirit and appreciation for the days of the golden past. Homework reading assignments of This Is You 2.0!, complete with journaling and worksheets provided. Extra credit is given for documented hours out of the home. Well-meaning attempts to leave, such as a fresh change of clothes before 11 a.m. are given half credit.

The CRY kit may be used individually, though we recommend it be implemented in like-minded parenting groups, where company will serve as a source of distraction and quasi-substitute for your child's presence.
  • is available as an upgrade to CRY's Platinum package level.
  • At special request, CRY offers its Diamond package, for those whose child's absence is felt deeply and excruciatingly to the soul.
  • CRY will provide unlimited phone and email support to those who evidence need. Personal statement is sufficient. 
CRY wants to be there for you. Please email or send us a note snail mail, every day. It will fill the time while you wait out your child's request of a minimum of four hours between texts.
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Thursday, March 13, 2014

How Would You Have Addressed Adam Ant?

In The Artist's Way, author Julia Cameron makes a thought provoking statement: "I would disagree with those who say we cannot change the past. We can build on it, transform it, utilize it, learn from it, heal it." In other words, our lives are what make us who we are. The life I've had, has prepared me for the life I live now.

It's something to think about. Every experience, something that readies you for the future.

When you sit and ponder the interesting about you, it's cool to see how situations play out and what led to where, and how you got to this point from that place.

I think about how I never liked being different when I was growing up. I was too skinny, too out of step, too curly haired. I daydreamed of being named Francie and having straight hair I could put in side pigtails without looking like Mickey Mouse. But now, my heritage has become where I stake my identity. A good chunk of my writing is on culture and ethnicity. I am Colombian, like Gloria on Modern Family. Watching her is especially funny to me, because I get the inside jokes, and her character? Bonafide.

I grew up having to help in the kitchen because I'm an older sibling. Standing next to my grandmother, I would peer over the kitchen table and burst  garlic bulbs with the flat end of a knife and my hand atop. I can say I am comfortable with my cooking skills. I can even say I'm a fantastic cook, and all that cooking from fifth grade up led to the ground work for when I would be a mother to children with food allergies. Cooking from scratch? I never broke a sweat about it.

In grade school, I was a misfit. Quiet, and always awaiting the next trip to the library. 3 a.m. meant nothing to me, and my nose would be in a book when my mother would see the light under my bedroom door and tell me I had only three hours left before I had to get up for school in the morning. My questions about science, the universe, the world, never stopped. I thought about the things I would read, my mind would think of the possibilities of how something came from nothing? Reading about Shakespeare left me determining my stance on whether he was an individual or was Shakespeare a collective work? Thoughts I'd keep to myself, but now, my children are my friends, and they tell me, "Mom, you are so smart. We used to think you were a scientist. You know something about everything."

And then there is the obvious of the physical. With the long face that I have, I have been mistaken for the world's greatest singer, Celine Dion herself, several times at the grocery store and by my Korean nail technician. Ergo, easily make a living as a Celine Dion impersonator if I had to. Handy fall back, since hard times come and go.

In college, I had a highly coveted job. I was a cocktail waitress in a private club. My roommate was friends with the woman in charge of hiring at our area landmark hotel. Because of this connection, I was hired for a job that never had a chance to be advertised. Spots were whispered about as soon as there was a hint of an opening. Lucky me, I spent my weekend nights dressed in heels, hair in a French twist, white tuxedo shirt with a black bow tie, all finished off with a black skirt. Big entertainment would come through this downtown hotel, and I worked at the private bar for these guests, the top floor. You needed a key to ride the elevator up that far. I have autographs from these days, from Boy George, Red Skelton, Helen Reddy, The Talking Heads, Michael Jordan, Phil Collins. I have no autograph of Adam Ant from he came through while on tour here. After he called me a smart ass for addressing him as "Mr. Ant" when I went to take his drink order, I decided not to ask him for one. But really, what would you have called him? (aside: he was alone, already had male pattern baldness, and paranoid if you ask me)

Those curls aren't accidental, they're purposeful: they cover up the early temple balding
My husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary taking turns passing a screaming, red-faced one-month-old baby colicky boy back and forth between us. I never planned on quitting working, but when our baby never slept and could only be consoled by me, so I gave my notice -- I was more surprised than my boss. I told her I couldn't leave him home with anyone else.

As often times has happened in my life, what at first seems "bad" *quitting work* has worked out for "good" *staying home with Alec*. Having to adjust to one income, my husband and I put off our house buying plans and stayed in our flat another year. Two more children came, and I kept right on staying home to be with them, too. When Alec was three, he asked to learn how to read, so like that we began homeschooling. It was easy to do since I was already home. I get goose bumps, because I never saw homeschooling as something in my life. And those years of having all of my children around me on the sofa while we geeked out about Mount Vernon is going to be one of the favorite parts of my life.

It's all a beautiful, surprising twist and turn, one thing building on another. The people we've met along the way and the circumstances that arrive at our door. And it's led me to a lovely place.

Just like that winter morning four years ago, when I decided I wanted to try having one of those "blogs," which resulted in me meeting all of you. And a life that has been so much the richer, and more joyous, for it.

Thank you.

I appreciate you reading, and knowing you, so much.

photo credit: epiclectic via photopin cc

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Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:

Huffington Post

Aiming Low

MetroParent Milwaukee

Purple Clover 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What This Mother Learned... Will Shock You!

There's something about knowing you have time to kill and nowhere to go that makes you amenable to listening to strangers. October through April, I spend Saturdays sitting through soccer and swimming and basketball practices. I enjoy seeing these still kids/almost adults push themselves to the limits of their incredible, healthy bodies. It's great to see the nervous energy pre-game and the relief and joy in a slim-won victory, personal best or team work. The hours here on the bleachers are satisfying, even when we're cramped together with opposing teams, seeing people we've never seen before and won't likely see again.

But all this does nothing to propel this story forward. Anyway, we parents sit and wait for the end of practice, for the end of the game, for the end of the rounds. If you bring a book to read during practice, often times you finish it and are left, just sitting, staring into space. Others are sitting too, looking up and around, and some folks are the meandering type, loving meeting new people. You chit chat and sometimes, someone will bring up a subject that piques your interest.

Yesterday, I found out that a can of soup is considered two servings. Gasp.

The stranger talking to me had dropped this bomb, without topic introduction. Once my stranger-talker saw my eyes widen in surprise, I could tell it thrilled her. She zapped me again. "Go ahead. Guess how many potato chips are a serving. Go ahead."

Um, a bag?

"Nope. TEN. Ten chips make up a serving."

Holy smokes. I looked at the bag in my hand that I had just bought from the concession stand. I've been eating a quantity of chips in an amount set aside for the Trojan Army.

My Friend for The Moment liked shocking me. And she had a live wire with this next volt of knowledge: "You'll never guess how much pasta is a serving."

Somehow I knew that a soup bowl full would be enough for a family of four, not just a bored mom at 11 a.m. I was right. A single serving of pasta is one cup cooked. Seriously, I've downed that by 11:03 as my second breakfast.

My new friend was loving giving me what I call the terror sh*ts. What in the world, and portion sizes for whom, who eats like a little hamster? was all I could think.

It didn't take much more facial grimacing from me to encourage a stream of terrifying food single serving horror stories from this bleacher pal:

--rice that fits into a tennis ball is a single serving
--bread the size of a CD case is a  single serving
--broccoli the shape of a light bulb is a single serving
--a cute little computer mouse portion of potatoes is all one person needs!

Stop! I begged her, my hand up and all, Please Stop!

She couldn't. The food facts flowed out of her like a long suppressed volcano.

--side by side 9-V batteries worth of cheese is all your butt needs!

Even in Wisconsin, I wondered? She began talking faster.

--seven cotton balls worth of melon!

Her voice was rising in pitch.

--peanut butter no more than a ping pong ball dollop!

Her hair was beginning to curl around her flushed face.


Okay, okay, I told her. I got it.

She stopped. Heaving out a heavy breath, she was spent.

I handed over my bag of chips to her. I can't, I said, I can't finish these. Thank you so much for letting me know, I had no idea. Thank you.

No problem, she assured me, tucking the chips into her brown leather travel bag. I watched her generously wander over to the next bleacher, where I saw someone else gingerly close the cover to their book, obviously finishing it before it was time to leave. The book reader was about to tear open into her Golden Kettle-cooked chips. My food friend arrived just in time, and within seconds, I recognized the open-mouthed terror-stricken look of receiving the commandments of Single Serving Size Food.

Just two minutes later, and in the same way as I had just done, I saw the book-reading woman surrender her bag of chips to our Food Facts Yogi.

At the end of our hour and a half practice, I caught sight of our food professor as she left the gym. Her bag was bulging with yellow bags of chips, Skittles, and Kit Kat bars. What a Good Samaritan, willing to take on the dangers of portion sizes for us.

The world is made up of every day heroes.

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Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:

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Aiming Low

MetroParent Milwaukee

Purple Clover

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Things You Just Don't Have To Worry About Once You Decide to 'Eff It

It's been a great week. My internet friends have taught me so much. I've learned that life can be as awesome as that Lego Movie song once you decide to *'eff it* which, BTW, I just learned today on FaceBook, stands for *forget it.*

Once you start living the 'eff it  way, all sorts of things fall under the 'eff it category. You find yourself saying 'eff it to living without milk in the house for a few days. Or how it's okay, you can just say 'eff it, and the house can look like you were robbed for a few days longer.

I came up with this 'eff it list, and this is even shortened, in just one day:

--The receptionist at your kids' Dr. office keeps correcting your pronunciation of your own kid's name. 'Eff it, let her say it the way she wants to. 

--The town gossip drops off at Goodwill at the same time as you do, but she sees you come out of Goodwill with more bags than you take in. 'Eff it, that's what.

--Your feet no longer fit into your original oh so much money Capezio boots you bought in Texas 20 years ago. This one, so hard to you-know-what. But... 'eff it.

--If you love Jen Lancaster books, and someone at the library is super interested, always, in what you check out and mentions how you really love Jen Lancaster books, 'eff it. You do.

--The boots you picked up on clearance at Target are boots your mother would love, but 'eff it, they keep your feet dry.

--'Eff it to your embarrassment when your Dr. suggests a medical procedure several times in one visit and you end each suggestion with "No thank you" and he looks at you and explains that a medical suggestion is not a regular person suggestion until you finally get it and say "ooooooooohhhh. Like, DO IT not would you like to do it. Got it."

Anything else comes up not on this list yet, I'm just going to you know, *forget it.*


Bonus after midnight add-on: --You accidentally pass gas because you laugh too loud after you've had a dinner of black beans and rice. Say excuse me to your family, and then just 'eff it.
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Other Places You Can Find Me This Week:
Huffington Post

Aiming Low

MetroParent Milwaukee

Purple Clover 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Rejection, Submission, and Tips for Good Writing

Dear Alexandra: Thank you for your submission. We find that your piece "Better Than Your Easter," does not fit our content guidelines at this time..."

It's Monday morning, the day I take all the submissions I have in drafts and prepare them for launch. I sit with my cup of coffee and a few lemon oreos at my side, and I begin sending out my work. Each one hopeful, but I'm also realistic. Rejections have made me that way, and are something I've gotten used to.

The list of the places where I submit my writing grows every month. It's a complicated process, I study the site to see the type of work they like, I prepare a first draft, second draft... I work on pieces that I feel are eternally relevant and I also stay up until 3:00 in the morning when I feel a topic is going to be hot the next day.

People have told me that they couldn't take the number of "Nos" that I get back. I see it this way, if you don't submit, no one sees your work. And so I send in my words. I note word count requested, my cover letter is double checked to make sure the editor's name is spelled correctly, I introduce myself so a hint of my personality comes through. Any honors or accolades I've picked up along the way, I mention briefly, as proof that I've done this before.

Rejection is part of submission. I've learned things from watching the work that is published on the sites I shoot for. And I have a checklist on the front page of a notebook I keep solely for writing tips. It's filled with bullet point items that I go through, line by line, making sure I've got them covered before I cross my fingers and then hit send.

I'm sharing my checklist here, hoping you find a place for your words so you can, with luck and dedication, feel the joy that comes with an email that begins, "Thank you for your submission! We're interested in your piece..."

Those words are worth the price of rejection.

1.) Study the site you want to write for. Learn the style they like and the topics that are most popular there. Go to their SUBMISSIONS PAGE and stick to the guidelines like your life depends on it. Word count is word count and double space is double space. You're no exception.

2.) See if you can get a direct contact or specific name of an editor of who would be in charge of your area of interest, and your genre of submission. BE SURE TO SPELL THEIR NAME CORRECTLY. Every last letter.

3.) Always include your name, address, email, blog link, twitter handle, word count, and title. Sounds obvious, but it's easy to focus on your piece and just send that in... with no information on who you are.

After you've done the above, which is the expected, that's when you're ready for:


--Your voice must be present. You have to listen to your work and hear yourself in it. Otherwise, it won't hold any editor's interest. If there's humor, it has to make you laugh. If it's heartbreak, that pain in your chest must be translated. Make your words as clear as a knife ringing against the rim of a glass. Be strong in your style. Now is not a time for what I call "safe writing."

--Details must be alive. Work them in richly, along with your senses. Keep a note close by to remind yourself, can I see it? smell it? taste it? hear it? touch it? Bring things to life in the reader's mind so they smell the fish burning in the frying pan as you rush to your child that fell from his high chair. 

--Fling your words like it's your last shot to snag that branch and pull yourself out of the icy creek you just fell through.

After you've written like a wild woman who finally gets to talk to someone after being alone for a year, stop - breathe -- and check for:

 A.) Accuracy in punctuation and spelling . (Typos, misspellings, grammar errors -- are never acceptable.) 

B.) Organization and logical flow. (Does the order make sense? Can you see how one thought leads to another?)

Lastly, always always and always read once, twice, three times. Then read it aloud one more time before you hit send. Because we all know the magic of hitting send: it's when your typos appear.

Good luck, and I wish you all happy emails.

P.S. Rejection just means polish it up a little. And no, for now. But I'll be back...
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