One Shot, Two Stories

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Monica’s Tangled Web and One Sister’s Rant are joining together to tell two stories, using one photograph.

We’re each posting the same snapshot (courtesy of Keoni Cabral, my friend and photographer extraordinaire) and we’re each writing a different first line. And here’s where you come in.

Readers, we want you to continue the story. Add one sentence to further the plot along and, before you know it, we’ll have one photograph with, what should prove to be, two very distinctive stories.

At the end of the week—or maybe next—we’ll post both stories in their entirety. I’ll post One Sister’s Rant story and you’ll need to head over to Bella’s blog to check out Monica’s Tangled Web story. Won’t that be cool??

This fun exercise is the brainchild of  Cathy Kozak, from While the Dervish Dances. Here are her instructions:

  1. Visit the comment section.
  2. Check your place in the story by reading others’ comments first, each of which will contain a sentence.
  3. Be sure to number your comment and add a sentence of your own that propels the story forward. Make sure you read the comments/sentences others have left before yours, to ensure a logical link.

We encourage you to contribute to the story here and to the story on One Sister’s Rant. Contribute as often as you like!

Tell your friends to contribute, too! Tweet, Facebook or post to whatever social media tool you have. We want this to be as long and involved and as fun as possible–and we can’t do it without you, so spread the news!

Bella and I can’t wait to see what, collectively, we all come up with. Without further ado, on your mark, get set—GO!

The First Sentence:

1. On a misty February morning, barely a week before Valentine’s Day, Charlie opened the back door to let the cat out, then boarded his jeep and drove away.

Your turn!

BlogHer 2011 Diary, Day 2

And so, my first ever conference for bloggers comes to a screeching halt.


I was just beginning to learn at the feet of giants!  And by this I mean, bloggers who have been blogging way longer than I and who have far more experience than this gal from Queens, aka, me. And yet, this week does mark my one-year anniversary of blogging. One year?

Hooray for me! That’s 112 posts in 12 months and nearly 30,000 page views!

But anyway, I was just beginning to learn the secrets to their success!  And I was beginning to recognize that Mommy Bloggers–of which I am not one–are the new Soccer Moms, and they sure have a whole lot of clout!  Witness all the private parties, luncheons, spa treatments, hosted by big-ticket sponsors—just for them! From what I could tell, Mommy Bloggers represent 75% of all bloggers.  But that is solely based on how 2 out of 3 bloggers I met were MB’s.

Here’s what else I discovered:

Bloggers are very supportive of each other:  I met many a blogger willing to answer my questions and offer me tips of the trade.  Like, how mediabistro is a great site for anyone who creates or works with content, and I can learn my clout score by going to klout, which determines your level of engagement in social media. I’m a 37 and my score increased by 1 point over the past day (which I assume is a result of attending the conference and tweeting like crazy while I was there). Here are some other highlights of my conference experience:

Here, I’m with She Writes member and Assignment & Syndication Editor, Rita Arens. Rita participated on a panel, “Owning Your Beauty: If We Change the Conversation, Can We Change the Culture?”  Hmm, that’s a tough question to answer in just one sentence. What do you think?

Each of the sponsors had a suite. Here I am in the Hallmark suite with new friends and fellow bloggers, Margo (Nacho Mama’s Blog) and Berenice (Adventures of Three). Aren’t we cute?

Lisa Stone, Co-Founder & CEO of BlogHer, moderates closing keynote with, from left to right: Fatemeh FakhraleRicki Lake (yes, the Ricki Lake!), and Carol Jenkins. The topic, “Women in the Media, Women Making Media” was very insightful and empowering.

After all is said and done, I got a chance to sit down with Lisa Stone, Co-Founder and CEO of BlogHer, and let her know just how much the conference meant to me. Lisa gave a big shout out to Kamy and She Writes.  “I LOVE She Writes!” Lisa exclaimed.

Well, it’s officially over. I made lot of contacts, new friends–and so many memories! Hasta luego, BlogHer11. Thank you for giving me plenty of opportunities to network and nosh. It was sheer heaven!

Please note: Because I was so busy attending BlogHer11, The Road Taken saga will continue next week. So, stay tuned!

Thoughts of Summer

Now that summer is here, my thoughts drift to calm days, warm sandy beaches, pink sunsets, the scent of Coppertone, soft breezes, and piña coladas. No, wait. Scratch that. Who am I kidding?

Actually my mind knows no seasons. In my head, it’s always business as usual, which means strange, random stuff racing through my head and summer’s no exception.  Here’s what’s on my mind this week:

Actor Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor

I love Kyle Chandler.  Actually, to me, he’s Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights, the TV series, now in its final season.  The coach is perfection personified, even better than Robert Young in Father Knows Best. FNL could be called Coach Knows Best because he always does. Others on the show think they know better and push the coach to use their son more on the field, or talk to colleges about football scholarships when the coach says it’s not time. And, guess what? The coach is always right.   Not only is he damn good looking, he’s an amazing husband to Connie Britton’s Tami Taylor, and a great father to Julie, his sometimes bratty daughter (played by Aimee Teegarden). And as a football coach, he’s strong and stalwart, with a stiff jaw and lots of poetic angst in his eyes.  Oh, I just adore Coach Taylor.

Which brings me to Super 8, the new film now in theaters by JJ Abrams and Steven Spielberg.  I just saw this movie and all I can say is:

Finally, a movie that takes the best of many of my favorite movies—E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Stand By Me—sprinkles in a little bit of the enigmatic TV series, Lost—and throws in a football coach to boot. So what, if we’ve seen it all before? Super 8 has it all!  Action, drama, touch of humor and Kyle Chandler who is a cutie, if you ask me. He somehow manages to look and act exactly like the coach he plays on Friday Night Lights, but dressed this time as a cop.  Except, gone are the sweats. He even gets to wear a beret at one point, which makes him look très French. Voila! Fun movie, so go see it and tell Kyle I said, hi.

I do not want to appear rude or ungrateful to those who must deal with this, but I have to say it anyway:  I do not wish to be buried alive like that woman in Columbia. Must have been an oversight at the hospital, if you ask me. Which is why I’m going to always carry a mirror in my pocket so that, in a pinch, anyone can hold it up to my mouth to check to see if it fogs up by my breathing.  Also, if it’s not too much trouble, can someone please tell my kids that I’m going to need a landline installed in my coffin?  It’ll come in handy in case I awaken.

Speaking of landlines, I think my phone company has it in for me.  I can tell because ever since I decided to cancel my landline—and then quickly reversed said decision—the phone company has decided to make my life hell.  It’s like they want to teach me a lesson, show me who is boss. The only problem is, the real lesson they’re teaching me is, I should have followed my first hunch and canceled the service!!

She Writes members celebrate its 2nd anniversary in grand style!

I’m thrilled to be part of She Writes.  This week was She Writes’ 2nd anniversary and here in San Diego, several of us She Writes members celebrated in grand fashion. Find out more by clicking here.  We’re planning to do it again soon.  If you ask me, it can’t be soon enough.

Why is it, I have two grocery stores nearby that are part of big chains, yet neither of them carries all my favorite food items? So if I want a certain brand of hummus in a zesty lemon flavor, I have to go to one, but, if I also want a particular brand of lemon yogurt (Yes, I’m obsessed with all things lemon!), then I have to drive to the other side of town and go to the other store.  Why can’t they both carry the same items? It’s so annoying. Clearly, they don’t realize that time is money.

My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Henry, doesn’t handle well being sick.  He plays Anna Karenina and acts like he has consumption or something.  Flinging himself on the couch, he covers his eyes with his paw.  “The end is near!” he seems to be saying.  I call his name as I pour his dry food into his bowl. He gets this far away look in his eyes and I could swear I see his lower lip quiver. “My will is gone,” he seems to be saying. Henry knows, this really gets to me, but not when I’m in a hurry.  “Goodbye, Hank,” I shout as I head out the door.  “Catch you on the rebound,” I add, knowing that he doesn’t like it when I appear cavalier about his health.

Oh yes, summer’s off to a great start, thanks to my thoughts which just won’t go away.

Oh and I almost forgot–TODAY IS MY 100th POST! Yay! What a milestone!

She Writes!

Or, Bloggin’ Baby Boomer knows no Bounds (That’s me!)

I’m a woman with backbone and I have a bona fide confession:  I LOVE to write.  Which is why I adore the printed word and which also explains why, at the tender age of 6, I drove my mother crazy while sitting in the backseat of her Chevy, obsessively reading aloud all the street and retail signs, not to mention billboards we’d pass along the road.  Shop Rite. Stop. No U-Turn. A&P. “I’d rather fight than switch.” And so on.  Sometimes I’d make my mother slow down, to give me time to read even more signs.

Fifty years later and I’m a bloggin’ fool and, if you know anything about bloggers, well, there’s nothing a blogger won’t do to get a little attention (Translation: More visitors to the blog). I mean, we love writing, but without an audience, what are we—just trees falling in the forest, with no one to hear our cries? TIMBER!

And as a writer, I must say, I love chatting, tweeting, exchanging emails and submitting comments to other bloggers.  So, who knew I could have it all with one amazing, glorious site? I’m speaking, of course of She Writes.

Here’s their raison d’etre in a nutshell:

She Writes is a community, virtual workplace, and emerging marketplace for women who write, with over 14,000 active members from all 50 states and more than 30 countries. Leveraging social media tools and harnessing women’s collaborative power, She Writes is fast becoming the destination for all women who write.

I came across She Writes while discovering  “Out of My Mind,” a blog written by Linda Cassidy Lewis, author of “The Brevity of Roses.” Her post, ironically called,  “The Problem with Writing,” was recently Freshly Pressed by  Well, as I read her post and scrolled all the way down reading the gazillion comments she received that day, I noticed a little icon badge on her site, that said quite simply, “I’m a member of SHE WRITES.”

Kamy Wicoff, She Writes Founder/Chief Innovation Officer

Which piqued my interest, and so I clicked. From there, I entered a whole new, exciting world of women writers who love nothing better than to write and network.  Sheer perfection, if you ask me!

Of course, I first had to complete a simple, but very probing, application to make sure I really was a writer, or at least serious about it.  Are you a blogger? Check.  Are you published? I cringed. Err, no.  Do you review books, television or film? Does having a crush on Colin Firth count? Do you offer services to other writers? Uh, a pat on the back, a “you go, girl” on occasion. Is that an acceptable response?

Are you part of a writers’ group or a writers’ salon? Is “N/A” sufficient? Though, frankly, I wouldn’t mind being part of a salon—sounds fancy!

I submitted my scant answers and was told I’d have to wait to learn whether or not they’d accept me. Talk about pressure. I was sweating bullets for 48 hours. I was sure if they didn’t accept me, it was because they’d seen me for the writing imposter that I am. Not published, indeed! Who did I think I was, trying to get in on the ground floor?

But OMG, they liked me! They really liked me! At least that’s what I assumed when I got the email stating I was in like Flint. I did a little happy dance until I realized I was in the office and everyone was staring.

When I got home that night, I dove into my new She Writes home with gusto, following their tips for newcomers, in order to create my page. Uploading a picture, writing all about my wonderful, writing self and, of course, detailing my zeal for blogging.  Then I perused the more than 250 distinct writing groups to see which ones I could join. Here, at last, my chance to find like-minded writers in such tantalizing groups as, “She Writes in California,” “Bloggers: Let’s Make It Work,” “Multicultural Writers,”  “Funny Women,” “Baby Boomers” and “Blog to Book.” (As to the latter, well, a girl can dream, can’t she?)

I’ve already made eight friends on She Writes (Soneet, Shary Folkmann, Amy Wise, Scrollwork, Julie Farrar, Tina Lane, Rukhpar Mor, Tele Aadsen and Sierra Writers), and can’t wait to make more–assuming they still like me. No matter. I just adore my new She Writes home! I may even move there and live forever within its pages of comments, encouragement, and words of wisdom from the over 14,000 members.  That is, if I can figure out how to take my toothbrush with me.

So friends, it comes down to this: If you’re a writer I encourage you to become a member (my friend, Leah, just did!). And if you do, tell them I sent you.  It’ll help me earn brownie points and hopefully keep them from throwing me out for the unpublished rapscallion that I am!  After all, I’m just having too much fun with She Writes!