Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's Eve... (Love these two: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt)



Happy New Year's Eve everyone!

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New Year's Resolutions: To Do or Not To Do?





res·o·lu·tion/ˌrezəˈlo͞oSHən/



  1. A firm decision to do or not to do something.


I love New Year's.  And I love making resolutions (I know, I'm a sick sick gal).  But anytime I can take an opportunity to start fresh, I do.

For this year, I made a list of projects/goals and actual resolutions I'd like to work on.  I realized some of the things I wanted to accomplish (such as finish poetry manuscript #3 & begin second eBook project with Annette) should actually be on my goal/project list and not resolutions (unless I planned to break them down into smaller pieces).

For me, a resolution is something small, doable (usually daily or weekly) and does not require another person to complete.  Publish book of poems is a goal/project.  Write a poem a day is a resolution.

I also realized my resolutions tend to fail if I don't have a plan for what I really need to do. I can write "less time on the computer" but what does that really mean?  Since I write on the computer, I want to be on there writing, but I do not want to be on the computer spending time on Facebook or reading celebrity news.

So you'll see on my resolutions, I took them a little further to remind myself what I really myself to do--

So here's what I came up with:

Goals/Projects:

1)  Finish poetry manuscript #3
2)  Begin eBook with Annette (my co-editor at Two Sylvias Press & Crab Creek Review)
3)  Complete Half-Marathon


Resolutions:

1)  Less internet / More Writing
    a)  Only check into Facebook on Fridays & my birthday (the only exceptions being if I have to post something for Crab Creek Review, Two Sylvias Press or Poets on the Coast or if I'm tagged in a post/photo.)
    b)  Only check or post to Twitter from phone 
    c)  Avoid MSN.com & any other timewasting website

2)  Draw Daily in my Sketch-a-Day journal

3)  Be very aware of what I purchase and/or bring into our home.  Choose to live with less.

That last one can be more specific, but basically, it's my reminder not to buy things I don't need, or buy things I think I need, but really don't.  I should get a little more specific on it.

~~~

I think the key to keeping resolutions going all year is to FORGIVE YOURSELF if you don't always do or remember to do your resolutions.

For example, I will probably check into Facebook absent-mindly on a Wednesday while on the ferry.  If I do this, I won't discard my whole resolution and call myself a failure, I remember ALL the extra time I've had off of Facebook for the days I got it right.

Let's say you choose to write a poem a day and you do this perfectly all through January then on February 8th decide you're tired of it or you don't do it for 2 months.  It doesn't mean it wasn't a success because you have 39 poems you wouldn't have had, had you not tried.

I expect to screw up and mess up.  I do it all the time.  I always start a new habit then forget it then start it back up again.  That's my life.  It's what being human is-- we are not perfect.  I have learned I am nowhere near perfect, sometimes not even on the same continent as perfect and I will make mistakes again and again.  Sometimes the same mistakes.

But on January 1, I start with a clean slate and see where 2012 will take me.   I may follow my resolutions perfectly, or I may wander on and off the path.  Either way, I'm gaining something from trying. I like getting my thoughts organized and the feeling as if I'm stepping onto the path of a new year.

Cheers to all of you!



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Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Loving Your Family's Quirks


I love New Year's Resolutions because my inner Capricorn is always looking for a project to fix and what's more perfect than a human (myself)?  We humans are filled with quirks, from the way I am happier if the microwave has no time left on it (I always clear it to zero if I see someone has pulled their food out with 00:08 left) to the way I tell my husband I will be ready in seven minutes (not five or ten, but seven).

Each year my family and I go around and ask each other what resolutions we'd like each other to work on.  (Okay, honestly, if I didn't make us sit down and do this, it wouldn't happen, my husband and daughter are absolutely fine not making resolutions).  This year my husband came up with "overlook each other quirks" for all of us and I think this is a great idea.  When you live with someone for X number of years, what used to be a cute quirk becomes a huge annoyance.

For example, I am always the last one in the car.  It doesn't matter if I'm the first one ready, but before we leave the house, I always have to do a check of all the rooms, make sure everything is off, grab a book, a magazine, a journal & pen, then make sure I have coffee and/or a snack, then check one more time to make sure the space heater is really off in my office.

I have patient family members.  I have gone out into the car 3-10 minutes later to find them casual sitting and talking while waiting for me.  If they wanted to, they could be completely annoyed with this behavior and I would have to agree with them.  (I know I would probably be completely annoyed if either of them had this behavior.)  But they aren't.  They are able to see that "This is Mom.  Mom is from another planet where space heaters turn on by themselves and she needs to make sure this didn't happen or the house will burn down... of course."

And with my family overlooking my quirks (from my bad habit of feeding our golden retriever at the table to talking to the cats as if they are babies), I will overlook theirs-- from a half-drank coffee cup (with cream) left in my office to the music playing extra loud from behind the closed bedroom door.

There has been a saying going through my head lately:  The days are long, but life is short.  

I remind myself that all the things that annoy me now, I will miss at some later date.

These are our lives, made up with quirks and bothers, with shoes dropped off at the door, coats thrown on the bench and not hung up.  There will be a time when my daughter will be grown and I will miss that there are less coats in my home and ache for a few moments with the young girl who threw it there.

Cheers to tolerance, love, and understanding for all of us.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Fantastic Blog post on Thankfulness, Gratitude & how lucky we all are--
How to be Rich without Making More Money

The average income around the world is $7000.

When you are feeling poor, deprived, sad, remember that.  I know I will.  $7000 is what most people live on...or less.

In his blog post, David writes this:


And those powers are nothing compared to what else you can do with your riches. What would they pay to be able to:
  • speak to someone across the sea
  • have the knowledge of thousand encyclopedias in their pocket
  • watch segments of the past (or someone else’s past) unfold in moving pictures, in real time
  • see the face or hear the voice of a dead loved one
  • heat the house without stoking a fire
  • cook food in thirty seconds
  • clean and dry their family’s clothing with ten minutes of actual work
  • suck the dirt out of a rug
  • get all their water from inside the house at whatever temperature they wish
  • access instructions on how to do almost anything that can be done by humans
These are insane powers, which most of humanity could never have dreamed of, and they’re all yours, right now. Do you really think more money will make you feel rich if you aren’t blown away by what you already have?


It's true.  If we can't be thankful for what we have, how can we be thankful for more?

We must find gratitude daily and remember that Christmas it seems, doesn't come from a store.  And neither does happiness.

Hoping you all find your blessings and gratitude for a new year.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Getting Organized for the New Year



A few days after Christmas, I tend to lose my mind.

It's a good losing-of-mind though in that it reflects my inner desire for simplicity and ease in life.  Basically, I walk into my house and realize it looks as if we could be the Christmas episode of Hoarders--stuff everywhere.  Even Andy Rooney's quote: One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly, is lost under piles of Christmas paper and tipped over snowmen.

I realize I am someone who needs tidiness to help keep my mind clear.  It also helps me feel less stressed.  Walking into our living room and seeing a huge mess immediately weighs me down. Maybe it's because my inner 50's housewife thinks, "Great, now I have a chore."  But I prefer simple over excessive, tidy over Dear-gawd-I'm-going-to-be-swallowed-by-Christmas decorations.

I pulled out my favorite books I received for Christmas two years ago-- One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good, a fantastic book if you need help cleaning up and one I find rather motivating.


Here are a few other things you may find helpful if you're also feeling overwhelmed by things--


There's a great (FREE) declutter calendar that you can print out month by month (or all at once to do a big purge).  I've printed out January - April.

Another great item to help you stay organized is the BusyBody Book (about $12).  While this book was made to keep track of larger families and who is doing what each day, I use it to keep track of my projects and what I need to do each day with them.

SimpleMom.com has a great group of free downloadable organizers.  The Daily Docket is a great way to stay on task each day.  And I just saw she also has 2 New Year's downloads--one for goal setting, the other for reflection on the past year.

So along with playing our new Jeopardy game for the Wii (I won $32,400 last night-- too bad it's in Wii money) and Uno Attack (our favorite family game), I'll be organizing my life this week with new year's resolutions on my mind...











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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Confession Tuesday



Dear Reader,

It's been a week of sugar, wrapping paper, hospital visits, and ferry rides since my last confession.  I confess I realize that one can actually eat too much fudge, that looking out the window doesn't make the decorations go away, and that things can change in a moment...

To the confessional--

I confess that my Nana's fall and broken hip at 99 years old has made me consider my own life and what I want from it.  I realize that I'm not sure I want to live until 100, perhaps, 92 would be a good number.  If that is the case, it seems that in 3 years I'll be celebrating the half of my life or maybe I've already celebrated half of my life.

This is the weird thing about living, we don't quite know if we will be like my Nana and live past 99 or if we will be the 9 year old girl who was killed by a falling tree on Christmas Day in my state.

The not-knowing is both a luxury and something that also sucks.

Should we be saving all our money for retirement because we will late into our 90's or will we be the car crash, the early heart attack?

It makes me think a lot about moderation and how I use my time.

In the next week and as the new year arrives, I'm looking closely at my choices in life.  And with a new year, comes new beginnings and I ask myself, "What can I do better?"

~

I confess I will be making new year's resolutions this year as I always do.  The main one being less internet, more words.  Meaning-- write more than I read.

I bought a sketchbook One-Sketch-a-Day and plan to draw in it daily.  (Maybe I'll share a few sketches here --would you want to see that?)

~

I confess many times at the new year I remind myself of my motto-- Experiences before things.  Meaning--- I have a certain amount of money each year, I would rather use that $$ on experiences than things.

I want to make sure that my money makes memories, not clutter.

If you're been reading this blog for the last couple months, you may have noticed the word "scattered"-- I confess I have used it to describe my emotional/intellectual/spiritual state and pretty much as the adjective of how I felt much the final months of 2011.

I am putting this adjective away for 2012. I'm packing it in a bag and sending it off to the Island of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy words.

And my word of the year?  Faith.  Faith that I will end up where I need to be and the right doors will open.  Faith that I'll know where I need to be what I need to be doing.  Faith that things will work out.

Amen.






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Monday, December 26, 2011

The Day After Christmas...

My golden retriever, Buddy Holly, wishing Christmas was more than just one day...
Ah, the day after Christmas...

I woke up today, our living room in happy shambles, turned on my 24 hr. a day Christmas music to hear REO Speedwagon instead (heard from a friend who, heard it from a friend who, heard it from another you've been messing around...)  Bummer.  Christmastime is over.

Because I'm not ready for it end and I consider December 26th as Extra Credit Christmas, I turned on my very favorite CD A Charlie Brown Christmas with one of my favorite Christmas songs "Skating" (YouTube link in case you want to hear it, I have it playing in the background right now).

I have big plans the day after Christmas and I tell my daughter this each year-- We have a lot to do tomorrow, I say on Christmas day night, Tomorrow we have big plans and are absolutely required to do...NOTHING!


Today is about squeezing the joy from togetherness for one more day, for winter-breaking it, allowing the day off to happen, to relax and do whatever you wish.  Napping is good.  Eating chocolate oranges is good too.

This next week I'll be organizing, getting ready for 2012, writing resolutions, maybe even painting the living room, but today, today is for letting things sit as is, as are.

As Andy Rooney says:

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.



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Friday, December 23, 2011

The Day Before the Night Before Christmas...

and I'm busy busy busy being good.

~

I had to laugh this morning when I read my "Gratitude Thursday" post.  I was so emotionally tired from my Nana's surprise broken hip and then surgery, when I wrote the post, I could not remember what I called it when I gave thanks on Thursday.  Grateful Thursday?  Gratitude Thursday?  What was it?!

Ah yes, THANKFUL Thursday (alliteration), not Gratitude Thursday.

But this how my mind behaves under stress.   I cannot remember anything.

~

So on the Friday the 23rd, I'm settling in for a Christmas weekend.  Two major projects done:

Crab Creek Review
Crab Creek Review, Issue 2: 2011


And Two Sylvias Press's Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry, has been approved and will be available on eReaders shortly.



It feels good to have both of these finished.  Of course, they are both good reminders of "Everything takes longer than I think."  It's so true.

~

I should have a few more blog posts these last days of 2011.  I'm thinking about resolutions, giving thanks for all I have, and trying to remember and keep in mind what is really important in life.

Thanks, as always, for reading.  Wishing you all good things no matter how or what you celebrate.  Happy everything.

xo,
Kells
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gratitude Thursday

Nana on her 99th!

I've kind of been waiting on this post to find out if I was going to be grateful for the time I had with someone or grateful in that I get more time in the future with them.

Let me explain-- yesterday, I received a phone call that my Nana had fallen and may have broken her hip.  This happened to her 2 years ago when she was 98.  Now, she is 99, one month away from her 100th birthday.

I knew what this meant, she would have to have surgery.

So I drove down to the hospital last night to see her.  She looked great and was in good spirits.  Yes, they said, she had broken her hip.

Today at 1 pm was her surgery, by 3:20 she was out and in recovery.  Amazing.  99 years old and 11 months and having surgery without complications, how can we live this kind of life?

All the nurses asked me, "I'm guessing your Nana never smoke or drank..." Well, I don't remember her drinking (but she is French) so I would guess she did in her younger years, and she smoked from age 20 until age 64 because, well, that's what people did.  She also drank a ton of Tab cola and her and my mum love Cool Whip!  They both do not even use the word organic.  She does eat a lot of apples.  And loves chocolate and nuts.

But one thing Nana has that other people don't is that laissez-faire attitude.  The world can be falling apart, but Nana, who has been alive since 1912 says, "Let it be, it will work out."  She likes solitaire and laughing.  She wears comfortable clothes and has never messed too much with her hair.

Nana told me she plans to live until 107, a year older than her mother.  I can see her living longer.  I would not be surprised if she ends up in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest life.

If she would just stop falling!  I told her last night she broke her hip and she said, "Oh, I'm just being clumsy again..."  and "So I'll live!"

When I left the hospital today she told me to "drive slow."

I have so much to learn from my Nana still as I plow through life with my hair on fire.

Laissez-faire, French that loosely translates to "let things alone."  Nana, I will try my best at this and I'm glad you're still with us.  I'll take as many days as I can get.



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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Vanity Edition





Vanity kills, it don't pay bills...  Martin Fry from ABC, 1985

Dear Reader,

I confess, I almost missed today's confession as I'm already in Winter Break mode, which means that days lose their titles and dates run into each other.  In fact, I have spent most of the day thinking it was Sunday.

So I must confess confess confess...  Hmm, I've been on the nice list lately, what can I think of?

To the confessional--

I confess I have a love/hate relationship with my nightguard.  And no, I'm not a famous celebrity with hired help standing around my bed making sure I'm okay, but this clearish, plastic thing I wear at night so I don't grind my teeth.  Sexy, huh?

And I've been amazed at how many people wear a nightguard now, are we all completely stressed out or is this just a $500 accessory created by our dentists?  I'm not sure, but I was told if I wear this my gums will recede less.  Yes, I have receding gums (even more sexy).

I was told this by my dentist yesterday along with the hygienist who told me I need "more form" when flossing my teeth.  Apparently, I'm being graded on my flossing, but if they saw me in my bathroom doing the All the Single Ladies' dance when I flossed, they would certain say I had form.

~

I confess last week we recently bought a new scale because ours started counting up before you even stepped on it.  It was a digital scale (really, should it make a difference if I weight 138.2 or 138.6?)

Anyway, back to my old "I'm making you a few pounds heavier today" scale.  We decided to get rid of it because doing simple math every morning was giving my husband and me a headache.  So we bought a new scale, which is sleek and pretty and has one huge flaw-- you cannot lean to the side to change your weight.

What? you ask.   Yes, that's right, when you stepped on my old scale you would watch it count up, 130, 135, 135.7, 136, 136.2.... It was fantastic, when you got the weight you wanted, you leaned just a tad to the right, held yourself perfectly still, then BINGO! your ideal weight flashed in front of you 134.8 - Yes!

It was as if each morning I could play a carnival game in my own bathroom.  Lean a little to the right and get the score, I mean, weight, you want.  You win!   Now go into the world and have that extra dessert you've been desiring, the scale is here to please you!

This new scale has no carnival game ability.  You step on it and gives you your exact weight.  (This morning, 138.6 for me.)   What fun is this? There is absolutely no room for creativity with this factual, accurate weight.

When I told my husband about this flaw, he said he had noticed too.  And I found out that he would position his feet near the back edge of the scale to get his ideal weight (as you can see, we are two dreamers who are perfect for each other).

Now with the new scale, we live in reality.  My winter weight of 138.6 would have been a lean 135.8 on my old scale.  And men, if you're reading this and thinking what difference does 3 pounds make?, this is because you haven't been raised as a brainwashed girl/woman in American.

I confess I feel better when the scale reads any number between 130-139.8 than if it reads 140+.   It's stupid, it's vain, it's petty, but I'm guessing there's a few women out there who have special "validation weights" too.

~

I confess I'm currently reading this book, 

Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World  by Lisa Bloom, which talks about our "tabloid culture," "the beauty bias" in America and how girls are basically told by our culture to focus on their looks instead of on their brains.  Or sometimes they're told both, but that being pretty, in shape, etc. matters.


The author admits to "having to look good" for her job, though while I read the book I couldn't help but look at her portrait on the cover and kind of wished she looked a little more like Gertrude Stein.  A part of me keeps thinking, "I hear what you're saying, but do you?"  It's hard to buy what she's selling because while she's saying we're all being brainwashed into not loving ourselves as we are and completely unaware of the world, she's not making any changes in her appearance to change this.  

But I do get the vanity insecurities.  I know the fastest way to make girl feel bad is call her selfish or fat--two words that can begin the manipulation of many females (well, except if you call me selfish, I would most likely agree with you-- though I prefer the word "vainglorious" which sounds more positive.)

That said, Lisa Bloom is smart, well-educated, and well-spoken.   And honestly, I don't want to look like Gertrude Stein in my author photo either.  

The book is thought-provoking even while I don't agree with everything she says or believes in-- I think some of her statements about women getting plastic surgery and looking a certain way have to with where she lives-- Los Angeles.  Maybe she just needs new friends.  If you want to get out of the world of fake/reconstructed beauty, move to the Northwest where you're considered hot-fashion if you're wearing The North Face or have on new fleece.  


~

I confess there is a part of me that wants to not just be smart, but to look nice... or maybe I just want to be freshly-showered.  That said, I live by this motto-- "Dumb is not cute."  We are more than our outsides, much much more.  My favorite people can arrive at my home in sweats, glasses, and crumbs on their cheeks and I will always find them beautiful.     

There is a point when you no longer see the body or skin someone is wearing but past it, to the person who is created by their actions and their words, not their perfect hair or smooth skin.  I think it's harder to see this person in ourselves, but s/he is there.  

Maybe every mirror should come with the words:  
You are more than this reflection can ever show.  

Because we each are.

Amen.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women Gift Certificates for the Holidays...



I seem to be the Events for Poets blog these last two days, but here's one more idea for the Woman Poet in your life to nurture that creative side of herself...






Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women

Here’s a personal, creative, and seaside gift idea! 


We are offering a special pre-registration Poets on the Coast gift certificate for the first time this year. If you sign up your loved one (or yourself!) for a holiday registration for Poets on the Coast (September 7-9 2012) you will receive a gift certificate entitling the gift recipient to a full registration including a one on one session with a workshop leader, writing workshops, yoga, and more. Only $273 for a three day event!

Last year’s weekend was so amazing that we’re doing it again this year.

You can sign up for Poets on the Coast here and find out more information.

Hope to see you there.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Christmas: The Iraq War is Officially Over.

FULL! New Year's Poetry Resolution Party (Online Poetry Class for Generating New Work)



Thanks everyone!  This New Year's Party is all filled up!  I may offer this again in April since there was so much interest.





A couple poets asked me create a schedule in the new year that would help them generate new work.  So I did.

I asked myself: what would be the best way to begin 2012 writing poems?  I came up with a 5-day schedule where I would email them a poetry writing prompt each day and they would write a poem to email back to me, which I would then respond to.

Because they asked, I wondered if others were interested too, so I decided to offer this 5-day online class to 5 (maybe 6) other writers who may be interested in starting off 2012 writing a poem a day.


Here are the details--

WHAT:
An online event to generate 5 new poems in the new year.

Starting January 2nd at 12:01 am, I will send a writing exercise to your email inbox.  You have that full day to write a new poem and email it back to me.  When I receive your poem, I will offer ideas for revision, any edits (grammatical or otherwise), and other comments.

On January 3rd, we will do this again, and again on January 4th and continue to do this until Friday when you will have spent the first week of 2012 beginning new poems.

WHEN:
Monday, January 2nd - Friday January 7th, 2012

WHO:
The first 5 poets who sign up.  I would love offer this to everyone, but I want to make sure I have enough time to respond thoughtfully to each of you.

COST:  
Sliding Scale Fee:  $85 - $125 for the week
(you decide what price feels right to your situation)

Note: if you pay by check, you can send any amount between $85-$125 that you feel comfortable with.  If you pay by PayPal, the price is in $5 increments beginning at $85



WHAT does this include:
  • 5 exercises sent to your email inbox from me
  • A personal response with edits, suggestions, ideas, and my thoughts on each poem you write during the week.
  • And a postcard valentine in February mailed to your home from me (just because I think it's fun to send and receive real mail)

How do I sign up?

AND we are FULL!  Thanks!


Again, this will be offered at first come, first serve.  When the class is full, I'll update (or delete) this post.

If you have any questions, drop me an email  kelli (a) agodon.com or leave me it in the comments section of this post.

I plan on writing a poem a day as well.  A great way to begin 2012!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tips to Help You Create Your Website (for Writers, Poets, & Authors)



On Monday, I blogged about how I think all writers, poets, and authors should have their own website, here's a few more tips for those of you who are moving forward and creating one.

Also, again for those who asked-- yes, I use iPage & yes, I did it all myself & no, I have never had a class in creating websites.  I am 100% self-taught.  I do think it could be a little better, but I like that I can change it anytime I want and I didn't have to pay anyone for it.

Oh, and full disclosure here: I've signed up to be an iPage Affiliate, so if you sign up with iPage, please use the links I made above and below to iPage, as I receive money (they call it "a commission") for referring you.  And note, if you know me, you know I don't recommend anything I don't believe in and would not recommend them if I didn't think they were great (I am sticking with them).  That said to make sure you get the info you need, I also offer a few other places to consider below if you're starting your webpage and a domain name.

Tips, Ideas, & Suggestions:




1)  Purchase your domain name & keep it simple:

a)  You can do this directly through iPage if you sign up with them to host your site, but also through places like Register.com, NetworkSolutions.com and a big famous one I won't mention because I don't like how they portray women in their Super Bowl ads (but their name rhymes with SoSaddy).

b)  You want an easy site to say.  I can just say agodon.com and people can find me if they have my last name spelled correctly.  Had I named it kelliagodon.com then I'm sure a majority of people would end up here:  kellyagodon.com  because most people spell Kelly with y.

Try not use hyphens or underscores if you can help it.  It's a lot harder to say, "My website is Kelli with an i underscore Agodon," then just find me at agodon.com.

Just imagine yourself writing and saying this website a thousand times, have it be as easy to spell and to remember as possible!


2)  Think Simple when creating your website.

The best thing someone ever told me about websites is to view yours as a billboard not pamphlet.  Meaning-- people are searching the web and are taken by images and short easy to read sentences, not a lot of words.

You can have this though.  If you find high school students are emailing you a lot for Frequently Asked Questions or a longer bio, include it on your bio page, just not on your main page where people arrive to.

People want to greeted with lovely, inspiring, interesting images of you and what you do, not something they feel they might be graded on later.


3)  No Sears Author Photos--

If I could fix the one thing that drives me nuts about writers, is the "Author Photo." No blue pull-down backgrounds, a la Sears or JC Penneys or anything cheesy.  Remember, we don't know you in the real world, you teach us what to think of you through your photo.
Lasers & Cat also not the best idea.

Go with something natural taken by a good friend or someone who loves you.  Or splurge and get a great author photo done by a photographer you admire.

I believe classic before trendy, glamorous before trashy, iconic before ick.

Believe me, I've struggled, still struggle with my photo, so this isn't coming from a place of always doing it right. I once said to my husband, "I need something in my photo to make me look whimsical" and he replied, "The fact that you are planning to be whimsical, means you're not."  Um, this is true.  So my advice is-- work with who you are.


4)  Have Fun, but Keep it Professional--

I love coming to authors' websites and being surprised.  But I also like being able to navigate my way around their site too.

I once went to a site that had a beautiful entrance screen where a cool line-drawn bird was flying by with the person's name.  When I saw it I felt as if I had discovered the coolest website ever.  However, things changed quickly. I basically sat at this page clicking all over the page trying to make the page open, but couldn't figure it out.  Then I realized I was to grab the bird and carry it with my cursor to its nest.  This was like one of those carnival games where the basketball is too big for the hoop.  By the time, I finally had cute bird in nest, I wanted nothing to do with this person as I was so annoyed.

As artists, we definitely want our personality to come out, but we also need to remember, we're creating this to help others learn about us and our work.



5)  Have the main page showcase what you most want to share.  

Currently, my main page has my book because that's why people were mostly going to my page this year, to buy my book.  But this next year, I'll probably switch it back to being more of an "Author Website," as it was, which basically shows me, my books, and my projects.

I always think a photo of the person on the first page is important.  I know as a visual person who doesn't remember names on their own, if I can see a photo, I can then connect it with a person in my mind.




6)  Organize then create

Figure out what you want to share with your readers and what you feel people may need by coming to your site.  Here's a few ideas of tabs/links to have to take your reader where they need to go:

Bio
Contact
Work Online
Calendar/Readings
Blog
Projects
Books

Some of these can be combined, like Bio/Contact  or Books/Projects if you don't want as many links.

Again, I think it comes down to keeping it simple and easy to access for the people who visit your site.  And when you're done, send your website address to a friend to proof your site and check to make sure all the links are working.


I hope that helps any of you who are considering creating an author page or already have one but want to fix it up a bit.

Happy Webpage Creating!



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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Looking Back

Paper art by Peter Callesen "Looking Back" - www.petercallesen.com
Dear Reader, 

It feels like Friday, but no, time to confess all I have been up to in the last week.  It's been a good week, with art and friends, lunar eclipses and also time to look back.  Hmmm, what to write about...

To the confessional--

I confess while meeting Susan Rich in downtown Seattle a homeless man stopped me from being hit by a car.  I had just been talking to a friend about how you never know how your life will or can impact someone, how one small action can change the world.

I had just learned about Harry Belafonte on the CBS Morning Show (a fantastic artsy show if you've never watched it).  He was a janitor at an apartment building, for a tip, one of the residents didn't give him money, but 2 tickets to a Broadway play.  Those tickets changed his life.  He said he had never been to a play and walking in, he knew this was what he was meant to do.

Fast forward to last Friday, I'm standing on the street corner looking cranky and a homeless says to me, "Cheer up, it's a long life."  A few minutes he's making sure I don't get hit by a car.  It happened very quickly, but I find myself returning to that moment on the sidewalk when he said, "Cheer up, it's a long life..." 

So I've been thinking about my life, looking back over a year and thinking about what I've done, what I've liked, what I haven't, the time I spent well and the time I let flutter away.


I confess this year has been less about writing and more about creative activities for me.

Much of the year was readings and events for my book.  A year of editing the literary journal, Crab Creek Review and Fire On Her Tongue with Annette Spaulding-Convy (whose book In Broken Latin will be coming out with Univ. of Arkansas Press next year!)

Though much of the year seemed to have vaporized.

I know I spent two weeks in a haunted apartment (on the grounds they filmed "An Officer and a Gentleman") writing poetry.  I know I connected with other poets to write or to attend a reading.  But my memory keeps it all in a cloud (and not the iCloud where things can be pulled back), but the iCan'tRemember cloud where life events vanish.

I confess I am making plans for the coming year.  

I have a few odd goals of finishing a 1/2 marathon (um, I signed up in September because I wanted a medal and now have to go through with it.)

But mostly, I feel kind of scattered.

I confess I'm just not sure my current poems are "good enough."  And what does "good enough" actually mean?  I'm not sure.  But I just want to think they are incredible, but I don't.  

And I'm not sure if the poems aren't good enough or if I'm just being overly critical of them.  Like having the most perfect body, but complaining about your elbow.  I'm afraid my self-doubt might be coming from that place that doesn't appreciate imperfect elbows.

So I confess there's lots of being in my head for the next two weeks.  I always do this as New Year's offers such possibilities for beginnings.  And I love beginnings.  I could begin again and again, reinvent myself with a tiara, horn and confetti.  

There's a lot I want to do next year.  And a lot of time I don't want to give away.
I'll be thinking more about this.  

How are you feeling at the end of this year?  Confess here (I have the anonymous option turned on)-- what do you hope for in 2012?

Amen.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Do Poets & Writers Need a Website?



I have been playing around with my website (www.agodon.com) which is hosted by iPage (which I highly recommend!) because if you're a poet or writer (and even just one starting out), you need a web presence.

For many of you who know me and know I tend to lean towards more anti-platform, anti-branding, when it comes to publicity/exposure for writers, so this strictness in my belief might surprise you.  But realize, just because I'm less likely to buy into the hype of building your audience before you build your book, doesn't mean I don't think as writers, poets, and artists that you should haven't have a professional website, web presence and also, take care of the parts of your job (submitting, promoting your book, etc) that aren't quite as artistic.

I'm a Capricorn.  We're practical (and smart).  We know that to keep doing what you are passionate about, you need to cover all the areas, not just the fun parts.  (And actually, I've learned creating a website is pretty fun...and easy).

Having a website helps create the writer you are and/or want to be.  And really, all I'm asking is that if you publish in journals (or plan to), you need to have a way for your readers to find you.

Here's exactly what I do after I read a poem by someone I like.  1)  Go to computer  2) Go to Google.

It's that simple, if I read something I like by a poet, I want more.
When I google your name and I can't find anything about you, I'm disappointed.

So, if you don't have a website for your writer self, consider it a resolution for 2012.

Website hosting I'd recommend:

1)  iPage:  I just moved my domain name here (from Yahoo, which I don't recommend) and am so glad I did.  I have never been trained in website design, but just used a template and their "Weebly Drop & Drag editor" (which I just played around with until I figured it out) until I created what I wanted.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use, great customer service & assistance, you can do it yourself (and update it yourself whenever you want!) and not have to pay someone to create your website.

Cons:  It's not free.  If you want more than 5 tabs on your website (I have contact, calendar/blog, poets on the coast, books, consulting) it's extra $$.


2)  Blogger:  I keep a blog on blogger, but I do know others have this as their main writing page.  Blogger now lets you have "Pages," which can work as links to other parts of your website.  Also, you can check in daily.

Pros:  Free! And the page feature is pretty cool!

Cons:  it has "blogspot" in your web-address which I don't like, but I think you can change this to your domain name, but you would have to purchase that separately somewhere else and point it to your blogger acct.  (Something like that.)

3)  Wix.com:  I've made a website on this site a year ago and they are pretty cool.  Here it is.  I was going to switch over and just have it be there, but I realized the bad thing about Wix is that you can't see these webpages on iPads, iPhones or anything that needs Adobe Flash Player.   So while I loved the templates here, I didn't like that iPad users wouldn't be able to visit.

Pros:  Free!  Coolest templates ever.  Stylish, modern, chic.

Cons:  iPad users can't see it because it uses Adobe Flash.


4)  WordPress:  I have never used them, but I've heard great things from people who do. Because I don't have personal experience with them, I can't really offer much on them, but wanted to include them because I've heard many positives from others.

Pros:  Free!

Cons:  I think again, you may have "wordpress" in your website (but honestly, that sounds nicer than "blogspot").


I'll do a post on Wednesday about what I think the best websites have and a few other tips for poets and writers.

Good luck!  I hope you get one!





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Thursday, December 08, 2011

Thankful Thursday-- KIVA.ORG!

KIVA.ORG

For yourself or for others...
This a great Christmas gift to give people (you can give giftcards).

Here are the people I've given loans too (a bookstore on in Bolivia, a general store in the Philippines, Motorcycle transport in Cambodia...) --



One of my favorite organizations!   You give small loans to help others' businesses.  And you help them make more than a living, but to make a life.

And I've had all my loans paid back in full.

Check it out and loan in $25 increments.   A pretty incredible way to help out another person.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Confession Tuesday - The Television Edition



Dear Reader,

It's been a week of catching up since I last wrote.  A week of starting my Christmas cards, which has led me to turn on the big box in my house that magically dances with images.  You may know this as your television set, but to me, it's a new-fangled contraption with bells and whistles, and the ability to stop time.

Basically, we have cable again, let me explain...
To the confessional--

I confess a few weeks ago we dropped our landline and got cable.

This sounds bizarre, but because we ended up "bundling" with one company, it was actually $80 less a month and took our basic cable (which was just regular TV plus Hallmark & Discovery Channel) to 210 channels.  (I had no freakin' idea there were so many cable channels out there.  I know, I live under rock, that is both my blessing and quirk.)

We now pay $64 a month for high speed internet, cable, and a landline you can call into but we can't call out (We've become kind of like the phone version of the Hotel California).  

And while I know my landline is pretty much the way it was in the 1970's (minus the fact I can only use it to call 911), I hate answering it without the Caller-ID feature.  It's as if I'm playing Russian Roulette with my time-- will it be a telemarketer? a friend? my crazy aunt?

I know for years I answered the phone happily without knowing who was calling.  Now, I live in fear that I will answer it and it will not be the new car, but I will have chosen Door #3 and it's the goat pulling the wagon.

~

I confess that while I haven't watched a lot of television since getting cable (honestly, I can't find anything as shows are numbered into the hundreds and I don't have any channels memorized yet), I started watching 2 shows while doing Christmas cards that I was a little entranced by-- Storage Wars and Pawn Stars.

It's as if they've taken my favorite show (Antique Roadshow) and added treasure hunting.  (And if you happen to be the other person watching this show, my favorite person on Storage Wars is Barry, the older guy who dresses like a hipster.)   Who knew this existed? (Okay, probably a few million people, but I live under a rock, remember.)

~

I confess while we technically *have* cable, I have blocked a lot of channels.

My daughter (whose 11 and in middle school said) while looking over the cable channel guide asked, "Mom, what's MTV?"   What can I say?  We've only had cable 2 years when she was 6, it was blocked then too.

I confess I've also blocked CNN and all the news channels too. Um, except the one with Rachel Maddow on it.  Because I love Rachel Maddow.

With all my blocking, I think we ended up with about 38-45 channels out of our 210-- but they are good ones.

~

I confess while I love Rachel Maddow, she is not the top of my crush list as that spot has been reserved for Conan O'Brien for something like the last 8 years.

~

I confess this cable deal came with a DVR box (it's like a VCR without the tapes).  I'm sure you all knew these existed, but I had no idea.  AND I can pause a television show while watching it and if someone talked in the middle of something I can rewind it.  How weird is that?

I'm guessing many of you have had this feature for years and do not find it fascinating, but I am amazed by it.  We pause the television show.  It freaks me out.  I feel like a small television producer god in my home.  Pause the CBS Sunday Morning Show while I make waffles... can you rewind to the penguins again?   


~

I confess the very best part of all of this is that I went through and taped all the Christmas shows on ABC (Charlie Brown, Rudolph, The Year Without a Santa Claus) and know in my heart, I will *never* miss "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" while we have this device.


Amen.



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Monday, December 05, 2011

My Favorite Things: The Tough Economic Times Edition

Favorite Things (adj., noun), def: things I love (or things I love to do)  Italian favorito, past participle of favorire to favor, from favore favor, from Latin favor, First Known Use: 1583 / Middle English, from Old English, thing, assembly; akin to Old High German ding thing, assembly, Gothic theihs time


I did what I think of as my "Oprah Edition" of Favorite Things here, and while the overused term of "these tough economic times" is one of my *least* favorite things, there are many things that are free or very low cost that are also my favorite things.  


Here's a list of my favorite things with a small price tag or none at all--

1)  Stringing popcorn with my family or making a paper chain where we write down the names of all the people we love.


2)  Watching all the old Christmas shows on ABC, my favorite being The Year Without a Santa Claus (this is the best one because it has Heat Miser & Snow Miser).

3)  Painting Owls on rocks:

4)  Having Oregon Chai Tea before bed or in front of the fireplace and/or Christmas tree.

5)  This may be a Northwest thing-- but after a windstorm, I go for a walk and pick up fallen evergreen limbs and put them on my porch and on my mantel inside.

6)  Going on an artist date.  Go to a gallery or museum with a notebook and a long afternoon.


7)  Spend 15 minutes writing a poem.


8)  Spend 15 minutes reading the same poem again and again.

9)  Taking a walk with your cellphone or digital camera and taking photos of the beauty of familiar things.

10)  Toilet Paper Tube Book Characters.  Here's Where the Wild Things are--

11)  Driving around and looking at Christmas lights (with the price of gas, this little activity has gone up, but I still love to do it.)

12)  Christmas Music 24/7 on Seattle's WARM 106.9 FM channel (free streaming here)

13)  Going to a cool old hotel (maybe even fancy-shmancy) with a good book and sit in their decorated lounge area.  For extra flavor, order tea, a martini, or bring a friend.

 In Seattle, I recommend the Sorrento hotel (I meet a group of writers here every so often) and here's where we try to sit, right by the fireplace--



14)  Writing a postcard to someone.








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