Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Jeannine Hall Gailey & Her New Book, She Returns to the Floating World...

Some more good news happens-- Jeannine Hall Gailey's new book, She Returns to the Floating World releases tomorrow, July 1st!  But here's the good news, Amazon already has it in stock and it's only $10.20. 

Or you can pay $12 and give your money directly to her indie press, Kitsune Books

Either way, you win.  Plus, the book is 126 pages long.  Oh, how I love them big poetry books (I like big books and I cannot lie...)

Here's a description of Jeannine's book:

She Returns to the Floating World is a book about transformation that examines two recurring motifs in Japanese folk tales and popular culture: "the woman who disappears" and the "older sister/savior." Many of the poems are persona poems spoken by characters from animé and manga, mythology, and fairy tales, like the story of the kitsune, or fox-woman, whose relationships are followed throughout the book. Gailey's abiding interest in female heroes and tales of transformation, love, and loss bristles to life with a cast of characters including wives who become foxes, sisters who become birds, and robots with souls.


Anyhoo, you may have gathered from the tiara photo below (Jeannine calls this our "Poets Gone Wild" photo as there was champagne at this gathering) that Jeannine is one of my best poetry friends.  She is.  And she is not only is a kind, generous, and just all around supportive/loving friend, she's a fantastic writer with an incredible mind who also wears pink Ugg boots with skirts in the summer time.

I have been so excited for this poetry book to be in my hands as it has several of my favorite poems in it, "After Ten Years Together, We Sneak Off to Make Out in Someone's Closet," "The Taste of Rust in August," "Waiting in the OB/Gyn's Office for the Results of a Biopsy," "In Phoenix, Heat Makes Us Chase Egrets," and this one, "Advice Given to Me Before My Wedding" (published in Rattle).

What I love about Jeannine's work is how it mixes pop-culture with myth, legend with real life, and it does so effortlessly.

Here's a wonderful review Kristin Berkey-Abbott did of Jeannine's book if you want to read more about it.

I am so excited for Jeannine and all the things ahead of her.  She is an amazing poet, person, and I am so happy for her success with this collection.  And I'm even more thankful she's my good friend.

Cheers to Jeannine!

Kelli & Jeannine

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Time for a DIY Writing Retreat...

It's 5 a.m.

I'm getting up, showering, putting on my most comfy pair of yoga pants, a long-sleeve t-shirt, big cozy sweater, flipflops and packing my favorite wool socks. Why?  Because it's one of my favorite days, a Do-It-Yourself Writing Retreat day at my friend Annette's house.

I'm meeting with Annette and Ronda at 9 am today and we will write together until 5, each of us with our laptops and a table full of snacks.

We have certain exercises we return to--our favorite being someone reading off a list of random words every 30-90 seconds while we write and the others having to use those words in whatever they are writing about.

Here's a link to the full post I wrote on our DIY Writer's Retreat from last year.

Here's us at the beach after a long morning of writing.

And a few more photos from the day.

The best part is that I know tonight when I return, I'll have the starts to at least 10 or more poems.  These shorts will not all go on to become poems, but many will.  And honestly, there is no way to every waste a day writing or in being with good friends.

Now, off to grab my books and writing exercises, then off to write...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Attn: Writers-- Come to Oregon! Fishtrap Summer Gathering & Writing Workshops

Coming July 10-17th! Fishtrap’s 24th Summer Writing Workshops and
Gathering at Wallowa Lake, nestled at the foot of the Wallowa
Mountains in Eastern Oregon. Writers are invited to join us for a week
of creative writing workshops and a weekend of presentations and
conversation on questions of migration and transformation, both
political and personal.

There are a few spaces left in writing workshops by Wayne Harrison on
the subtler uses of dialog to reveal character, Debra Earling on
creating stories of legend, myth and magic, Henry Hughes on writing
poems that move, Rosanne Parry on writing young adult fiction, and
Joanne Mulcahy on writing about the landscapes and lives of others.

The Gathering begins on Thursday night July 14th and features Pico
Iyer, famous for his writings on travel, globalism, migration and
crossing cultures. Iyer will be joined by artist and healer Eva
Castellanoz, journalist David Laskin, and social activist Pramila

Participants may enroll in the five-day writing workshops, just the
Gathering, or both . For more information and to register go to

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader,

It's been one week and one book prize since I've last confessed.  If you missed my post on Saturday, my good news is that I just learned this weekend that I won the  Foreword Mag's Book of the Year prize for Poetry.  I tried to do a longer post on this, but wasn't sure what to say, so maybe this is the place to be as I can write in shorter snippets without boring you too much.

To the confessional--

I confess I had just returned from 3 days in the rainforest & was snuggled up in bed with my daughter watching old Psych episodes when I received the news from my publisher (It came by text - Check yr. email. You won the Foreword Prize. Dennis).

When I went to the link, I wasn't sure I was reading it correctly. I kept thinking, My name is in the #2 spot, but it says Gold.  My name is in the 2 spot, but it says Gold.  I repeated this to myself like some sitcom mantra until I realized they have chosen two winners for book of the year.  My book and Rebecca Foust's book, God, Seed had both won the top prize, and they have alphabetized us by title.


I confess while I had tried to visual winning this book award, I did not think I could win.   Every time I tried to imagine winning and what it would feel like, I would end that daydream with, "Um, probably won't happen, Kelli," which is really a lousy way to end a daydream.  Daydreamers are really quite skilled in their ability.


I confess in my excitement to call people about the news, none of my poet friends nor my family were home.  My husband was at the fire department on a medic call, my 76 year old mother was at the gym, and the list went on like that...

This is exactly why Facebook is a great idea, someone is always home on Facebook.  Just like birthdays, if you need to throw yourself a party online, there's your tribe, right there and ready to party.  Facebook was one of the first places I shared my news because I tend to process my life outwardly not inwardly.  Meaning-- I have to talk about things or they are not real.

I confess that as much as being chosen has made me feel incredibly happy, I still realize that both criticism and praise come from the outside and as artists and writers, we have to find peace and satisfaction from within.

This isn't easy and it's something I'm still working on.  I can feel as if I'm on Cloud 9, 10, & even 11 after something like this happens, or kind of crankypants if the outcome isn't what I had hoped for.

I know that had the judges been different or had they read my book right after a fight with their spouse or on a bad day, it could have easily been someone else's name up there.  There were 1400 entries, then 37 finalists.  There are thousands of outcomes with these types of numbers.

Luck & timing-- that is what much of this poetry world is made of.

I confess my life is returning to normal.  We are running out of toilet paper and I found moldy bread in the bread box.

I know in life's big picture, this is wonderful, but the prize doesn't come with four chambers and a rhythmic song. The most important things in my life have heartbeats.  Family, friends & pets-- these (not prizes) are in the end are what make a happy life.

Though right now, I still feel the good energy from learning this news.  And there is a part of me, the girl who always wanted to win a trophy, who is dancing.  And she will probably continue the rest of the week, I won't lie, it's a freakish good weekend in that respect. And I'm still excited and honored and thankful to have been chosen and while it's not officially "a trophy" - it feels like one.  So maybe that little girl who always wanted to great at something, can sleep well this week.

My poetry group threw me a party last night that included tiaras, caprese, chocolates, champagne and lemon torte. I couldn't count the number of toasts made.  If I haven't mentioned it a thousand times before, I'm ridiculously thankful for these incredible women.  My friend Jen said it felt like all of them had won too, and I believe that-- that success occurs in clusters (which is from the Artist's Way has always been my creative bible on helping me weave my way through this writerly life.)

So this is where I'll end it--I'm thankful in many ways including all of you who have connected with me to offer your good words, congrats and support-- thank you for sharing in my news.  It's been a lovely three days of emails and notes. Your heartbeats make mine flutter a bit-- so many many thanks to you for being part of my tribe.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Marketing for Poets & Writers Who Prefer Writing or How Not To End Up in a Leisure Suit with an Author Nametag

Since I wrote about the new Facebook Author Page last week, I thought I'd talk about the internal battle I have with the word "marketing" and how I've come to reconcile it.

First, I'll be honest here-- I would prefer to just write and have nothing to do with promotion...well, except for the postcards.  I love postcards.

In my best world, I live in a small house on the water where I write.  My book sales have paid for my mortgage and royalty checks afford me a housekeeper named Antonio Banderas and enough money so to buy prosciutto and not "prosciutto ends" which are half the price, but also the grab bag of the meat department.

In my best world, I live simply, but also always wear matching lingerie and refer to myself as Coco.  Okay, that's not part of the dream (well, the Coco part isn't).

But so far, this has not happened.  I have learned that as a poet, part of my job is helping to get my book out and into the hands of readers because it's not just about me, it's also about this incredible publisher (White Pine Press) who supported me and my work.  The Capricorn part of me doesn't want to let them down.

So here's a few ideas for how to market and promote your book without feeling as if you constantly have to wear your "Author" nametag (which you don't, because that's weird and creepy).

1)  Choose an anti-role model--

This was a huge breakthrough for me.  While there really wasn't a poet or writer who I thought "did it exactly right" or how I'd like to do it, I sure knew what I didn't like--

I didn't want to be like the poet approached me with his chapbook peeking out of his shirt pocket.

I didn't want to be like the guy who wore a nametag that said Author next to an image of his book cover, who when I asked, "Oh, did you just come from a reading?" said, "No." (See, weird and creepy.)

I didn't want to be like the writer who decided she was going to create "a huge fan base" before she actually wrote or completed something.

I didn't want an author photo of me holding a wine spritzer wearing a fancy pin.

I didn't want anything that bordered on my idea of *cccchhhheeeeessssyyyyy* (definition of cheesy: Cheap, unpleasant, or blatantly inauthentic.)

Once I chose an anti-role model, every time I started to do something that felt as if I wasn't following my own values, inner style and it felt more like something that would be done by him/her, I knew not to do it.

2.  Change your vocabulary.  Instead of marketing think share.  Instead of promotion think celebrate.

This was also helpful to me as a huge fear of mine is to be seen as a "shameless self-promoter" (see #1).  I battle with this fear a lot. I don't want to let down my publisher, but I also do not want to feel as if I'm wearing a leisure suit and calling myself Larry.

But if I change the way I think about this part of the job in my head and get rid of the words I have put a negative association with such as marketing & promotion, I can actually do this.

For example, if someone said to me, "You must market your book to your friends and family," I'd say Screw you.  Okay, I wouldn't actually say "screw," but I'd say no.  However, if someone said, "Could you let your friends & family know that your book is out?"  I'd say, Sure.  Letting someone know my book is out to me falls under "sharing" and talking and conversations are things I do pretty well.

Would I create a promotional event highlighting myself and my book?  Never.

But would I have a party at my home for all my best friends where we dressed up like different versions of Emily Dickinson (there were 3 Biker Dickinsons & one Grunge Dickinson), drank wine and ate good food, so I could thank them for their support of me as a poet as I wrote this book?  Check. Check. Check.

Many Emilys

 3.  Do what you love to do, but in regards to the promotion your book.

I like to send postcards and to laminate things.  I like Emily Dickinson, bookmarks, and old keys.  Since my book was titled, Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room I used all of these to let people know about my book.

My book with the Emily Dickinson bookmark I made.

4.  Remind Yourself It's Okay to Make Mistakes in Your Attempt to Find the Right Balance for Yourself

As Dr. Seuss says in Oh, The Places You'll Go: I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch...

If you do something that makes you feel as if you've put on the leisure suit, learn from it and don't do it again.  

Or if you feel you were so excited about book that you completely "overshared" (aka Became a Shameless Self-Promoter), then lay low for awhile, take off your author name tag and go to the beach.  It's okay.  People forget and forgive.  

To many of us who have just be writers, this public world can feel strange and uncomfortable.  
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And since many of us are introverts, it can feel as if we're having to do a dance no one ever taught us.  And that's okay too.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Just remember to have fun...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Happy Dance! Foreword Book of the Year Prize for Poetry!

I just learned my book Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room  just won Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year Prize in Poetry (and the Gold prize with Rebecca Foust's book, God, Seed).

I'll post more about it next week, but wanted to share it here with you.  Thank you for all being so supportive about this book.  Truly, when it came out, I was so worried how it would be received. I am truly honored to have been chosen for this.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Deborah Ager @32Poems & Creator of the #Poetparty

Kelli & Deb

This week after partaking in the weekly poetry talk on Twitter (#poetparty at 6 pm PST Sunday nights ), I thought about how thankful I was to Deborah Ager (poet & founder of 32 Poems) for starting it.

This week we talked about getting new ideas and inspiration, a favorite topic of mine.

While the conversation can occasionally be hard to follow, it's worth the effort.  Deb will ask questions marked with Q1, Q2 & poets tweet back answers under A1, etc.

What I like about this talk is that you "meet" new poets in the world.

Anyone can join in and all are welcome.  The poets are always kind and the time goes by so fast.

Anyway, after a good talk on Sunday, I'm feeling thankful that this exists every Sunday.

If you want to join in (or even just watch the conversation happen), this Sunday night at 6 pm PST (9 pm EST), go to & in the search box type in #poetparty   -- You'll see the conversation unfold, and if you want to be part of it, just type your response plus the hashtag #poetparty  -- don't forget #poetparty  otherwise it's as if you're speaking outside the room to your shadow.

By the way, in case you didn't know, Deb is not just an editor but the author of the poetry collection, Midnight Voices.

Follow Deb at Twitter here  @32poems
And visit her blog here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Facebook Author Pages - Some Answers & Opinions to Your Questions--

It seems my last post--about Facebook pages and whether to have one--generated some talk and questions. So here's the follow-up with my answers and opinions for what they are worth-- probably worth about a decent cup of drip coffee and some Swiss chocolate.

1)  Should I have a Facebook page for my book or just a general author page?

A:  My opinion is have a general author page (with your name as the page name) so you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time you have a new project.

If you do a new page for each new project or book, you'll have a lot of pages where you have to start from scratch each time finding folks to "like" you.

I know if I've "Liked" an author's page, I'm interested in all his or her projects, books, etc.

2)  There seems to be categories on how you can be listed for the pages, how do we decide exactly *what* we are?

A: Facebook makes you make some choices here.  On my page, I chose "People" and then "Writer," but could have chosen "People/Author."

On the generic site someone (or Wikipedia) created for me, it says "Public Figure" (which felt a little random and not how I would describe myself).

You can also choose "Books/Magazine" which gives you the choice of "Writer" or "Author."

Don't worry too much, if you make the wrong choice, or you change in later years, you can change this.  It's not permanent.  It's your title in the sand, if you choose wrong, just choose again.  No worries.

(Note:  If you have a page created by someone else or Wikipedia--as it looks like some of these pages were--you cannot control the category or content...thus my Facebook life as a "Public Figure").

3)  How much time does creating a page take?

A:  Not very long.  You can create it very quickly and if you want to add more later, you can do that.  I'd say you can do it in 20 minutes or less.  Probably less.

(I'm forgetting how long it took me, but it's actually very quick to do.  I took longer because I'm overly detailed-oriented at such things.)

4)  How long does it take "controlling" the page?

A:  I think this question is asking "how much time do I spend on my page?" which isn't too much.

I go onto Facebook on Fridays & occasionally a Monday (I'm not sure why that is) and so I'll post a status on Facebook, but unless I have an upcoming reading, workshop, or news, I'm really not on FB as much as in the past.

Mostly, I just include links/info/statuses that I think readers of poetry would like to know about.  Otherwise, I let it be.

5)  When I joined your page, I came to a "Welcome page" - how did you do that?

A:  -It's free for one "Welcome page," which is what people see before they join my page.

Mine is just my image from my book, but smarter, more marketing-savvy people use it to do clever things like get email addresses, share things they offer, have links to purchase their books, and so on.

I just wanted to have a pretty starting place, sort of like seeing my garden and walkway before you step into my living room (aka my Wall).

6)  What are the downsides to a Facebook page?

A:  Getting over the idea that you have a Facebook Page and not feeling weird about it.

Someone can "unlike" you, but to be honest, I think more people defriend than "unlike"  a page, (yes, I'm speaking in that weird FB language again).

Also, it's another thing that isn't writing.  If you're not FB obsessed, it's just something to help you connect with people who are interested in your work.  If you are FB obsessed, it can be a time stealer like anything related to Facebook.

7)  Anything else we should know?

A: The only thing that confused me for a long time was that when you have a regular Facebook account and a FB page, under the "Account" tab in the upper right corner it will say "Use Facebook as a Page" - what this means is that you can *be* your page.

If you click on this, you can see who Liked your page, who commented on your wall or left you a note or Liked your photos.

You can also "Like" other pages as your own page.  This is pretty cool because they you can leave comments on other pages as *your page* (instead of as your regular FB acct).  And if someone clicks on your comment, they end up on your author page and not your personal FB page.

8)  Once you have a FB page, how do you get people to Like your page?

A:  I've seen some people write a status that says they are basically cleaning up their FB account and if you'd like to "Like" their page if you want to stay connected, but they are going to be deleting people they don't know.

I've also seen the "here's my page" status with the link.

I wrote a blog post and said you'd make me happy if you Liked me.

Other people have sent emails and messages to friends.  I did this with some old friends saying that I felt really uncomfortable creating an author page for myself but I did and they were free to like it or not, but I wasn't being an egomaniac, just trying to cancel out that other Public Figure Facebook page.  (My friends were sweet and told me I worry too much...)

Once you create a page, you can go to your page and "suggest" it to people.  I have done this and it feels stupid and cheesy because it says "Kelli Russell Agodon suggests you like Kelli Russell Agodon," which honestly, made me feel like I have huge social issues, but because I have bigger insecurities that I wouldn't reach 100 people to like my page (my initial goal) I did it.  (It's nice how one insecurity can override another insecurity.)

Now I suggest it with people who have asked to be my friend on FB, but whom I do not know.  I wish I could add a personal message with it, but FB doesn't allow that, so they also get the cheesy KRA want you to like KRA.  Weird. Weird. Weird.

9)  Any other thoughts?

A:  Facebook is a strange place.  Honestly, I think as writers and artists we learn to make our way through the bizarre language of Likes & statuses & Friending/Defriending.

While I could go on about what drives me nuts about FB, I recently heard from someone on Facebook who is a writer who said how much she appreciates Facebook because she feels isolated and Facebook brings her closer to "her tribe."

And I understood.  And I wrote her a note thanking her for her insight to my complaints about "too many friend requests..."

I live in the Northwest.  We have a saying here:  Throw a stick, hit a poet.  

Seriously, we are everywhere.  (Do you need a list?  Poets from the Northwest: Linda Bierds, Tess Gallagher, David Wagoner, Susan Rich, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Peter Pereira, Martha Silano, Joannie Stangeland, Oliver de la Paz, Nancy Pagh, Allen Braden, Elizabeth Austen, Lana Hechtman Ayers, Kary Wayson, Erin Malone, Kevin Craft, Molly Tenenbaum, Kathleen Flenniken, Katharine Whitcomb, Annette Spaulding-Convy, Ronda Broatch, omg, the list goes on....)

But not everyone has poets and writers around them.  Some of us are surviving day by day through our connections online, reminding us that others are on the same path, that we're okay.

So, while I can easily make jokes about Facebook, the bigger picture is that it brings our tribe together in ways that have never been.  And that's important.

It breaks regional and national boundaries.  We can connect with each other and share what we're up to and learn about new poets.  All good things.


I do want to write another post about how I struggle with marketing/book promo vs. being a writer, because I do.  But that's another day...

Hope this continues to help as you find your writerly way through the pages of stolen time that is the blue endless box of Facebook.

And thank you all who took the time to Like my page.  I saw your names appearing and I sent out some good karma to each and everyone of you as I read down the list.  Thanks so much, I really do appreciate the support.

~ Kells

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Confession Tuesday

Dear Reader--

It's been one week since I last confessed.  Really, what can I confess after I confessed I started a Facebook page?  There must be something... 

To the confessional--

Booty Calls:

I confess that recently Jeannine Hall Gailey emailed me to ask if I called her one day at 9:30 am.  I hadn't.  When I looked at my iPhone, I realized there was a whole list of people who had I hadn't called, but did (um, butt did).  Nice.

Yeah, I shouldn't keep my iPhone in my back pocket as it has a mind of its own.


The Middle Finger (not the power button):

I confess I cannot think of a time when I've had the urge to "flip off" the camera when someone is taking my photo (I confess I'm always surprised to see this especially when the person is a bride or groom).

I'm Vintage Butter--

I confess that above statement makes me feel old, old-fashioned, and not very edgy.  

Not just Slippers--

I confess I am not very edgy and am wearing $12 cozy slippers while typing this proving this.

Is there a 80's Radio on?

 I confess sometimes I hear the Chaka Khan song in my head for no reason.

Chaka Khan,Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan
let me rock you
Let me rock you, Chaka Khan
Let me rock you, that's all I wanna do

(And now it may be in your head too.)

Nerd Girl--

I confess that while I play a normal every day poet in real life (um, can poets really be "normal"), I am actually a nerd who spent my childhood collecting rocks and stamps.  Again, refer to the above confession that "I am not edgy,"

And I'll be honest, when I went to DC, I spent 4 hours in the Postal Museum & claimed it my favorite museum of all the Smithsonians.  I know, I played the violin from 5th -11th grade (always got an A in Dorkestra) and collected ceramic dachshunds as a child, so this should be expected, but...

Here's what you don't know, I confess I am really excited that the dog mascot of the United Postal Service ("Owney") gets his very own stamp on July 27th.  I know, none of you know this--  That is because none of you get updates and emails from the Postal Museum.  And I do.

Here's the link with the info.

And here's the stamp...

And you will see this stamp on my SASEs because, that's how I roll.  I love stamps and rocks and birds and the universe and coin collecting with my dad (though my dad is no longer here, the coins are).  And I look for grammatical errors in signs.

And I confess while I look as if I "fit in" -- I don't, I never have.   That's okay, too.  I heard a comic say yesterday that "Life is a pair of skinny jeans & we are one big arse who doesn't fit in."  But life isn't about fitting in, it's about belonging.  And if you think about it, there's a difference.  A huge difference.


P.S.  If any of you knew this Owney info and were actually looking forward to it (as I am), please leave me a note or email me.  We can be the sesame seeds on poppyseed bagel of life...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Follow up to Facebook Author Page coming Wednesday...

I'm currently at the beach, but have been getting some more specific questions about creating a page on Facebook.

Tonight when I'm home and not covered in sand from my golden retriever's digging project, I'll start a post of what I've learned and questions I know the answers to.

Since tomorrow is Confession Tuesday, I'll post the follow-up on Wednesday.

I'm glad for the interest in this especially because it was an odd journey for me to finally start a page and change my position from anti-page gal to Liker.

More soon...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

No Smoking Penguins: Why Authors, Poets, & Writers should have a Facebook page...

This is me.
This is me on Facebook.
Get the picture?

Um, well, I didn't for quite a long time.  Let's just say it I'm a slow learner.

Kelli Russell Agodon

Promote Your Page Too

After years of being anti-Facebook groups, I started a Facebook author page to keep in touch.

You can connect with me here to make a poet happy. 

I'll be honest, it was tough to do this.  One reason is that you have to "Like" my page to be included in it.  That's kind of weird, isn't it?  Very Mark-Zuckerberg-is-in-his-twenties-who-grew-up-in-a-world-where-you-want-to-be-liked.

For me, it felt a little too Sally Field, "You like me, you really like me."  But I'm not the multi-billionaire behind Facebook, though honestly, I'm not sure I'd have come up with a better word.  If not "like," then what could I have used? "You'll do" or "I choose you" (Pokemon style) or "Good enough."

But I got over it.

And learned (and this will sound strange because it's in Facebook language)-- I'd rather you "liked" me than to become my friend.  

See, that sounds bizarre.

But I'll tell you why- I currently have a backlog of friend requests and my regular Facebook page that brings me down because it now feels like a chore.  This new author page feels light and breezy, and the best part is if you "like" it, I don't have to approve you, I don't have to sort through your family photos to make sure you are real and not scary.

And if I see that you've liked my page, it's easier for me to friend you because then I know you know who I am.  (I know, that sounds weird, but it's true for me-- if I see you've liked the page, you don't have to sit as long in my FB purgatory.)

I had been so anti-group in the past, the groups were the worst because you had to "be a fan," which felt worse than "liking" someone.  I said I'd never make a page for myself, and then it happened--someone made me a page.  And honestly, this was sweet.  I thought it was so cool that someone did that for me.  Someone liked my work enough that they thought I should have a page so people can like me (er, Like me.)

For a long time, it had 2 people and I felt good about it.  Ah, my 2 fans.  I love them.

Then a few more people signed on, and I was good, until we hit six and I thought--omg, someone might think I started this page myself and I can't control any of the info on it. What if it gets fifty "likes" and they upload a photo of a penguin smoking and I can't do anything about it because it's not my page?  And then will people think I support smoking penguins (which I do not, thank you very much)?

And so the control-freak Capricorn inside me started my own page to stop the promotion of smoking penguins.  And that felt weird, but oddly, good.

And this anti-page/anti-group girl found she actually preferred the new author page to her actual FB page (which surprised me).

It's kind of weird, by having a page, you can actually "be" your page, which means, I can be my author page and like other pages (from authors to favorite foods to other poetry presses and so on) and then interact with these pages as my author page.  It's bizarre and yet a really great way for me to keep up with all the things I'm interested in.

So, now I'm pro-FB author page.

And I think if you're a writer who has a book or plans on having a book in the future, you might want to consider a page too.

Here are the reasons why I think a Facebook Author Page is better than your Regular Facebook Account with Friends --

1)  People choose you, and you don't have to "approve" them.

2)  It's an easy place to keep everything up-to-date and together.
-- I know when I like a writer, I like to see what they are up to, this is a great place for that.  And it's free. And no strings attached.  You can like then unlike someone.

3)  By interacting with other pages (authors, writers, etc.), people who might be interested in what you do, can find your page.

4)  You will never be asked to play Farmville.  This alone is a reason to set up a page.

5)  You will see who really wants to support you.
-- Okay, this sounds a little like strange goth teenage girl talking, but honestly, I wanted to see which of my friends would press Like.  No, I wasn't going to disown anyone, but it was really nice to see who were the first people to press the Like button and who continue to find my page and support me.

6)  Because people have pressed "Like," you know they care about what you're doing.
--You know they know who you are and have pressed like completely unselfishly, not to have 4999 friends.  For me, this is huge.

My biggest concern on FB is that I'm never sure if the person is asking to be my friend because they are interested in poetry or writing too, of if it's because having lots of friends is some sort of thing they do compensate for spending their younger years licking the swingset.

This is why I have a page (not because I licked the swingset, I was too busy chewing on the clay from the earth), but because it made so much sense to me once I had one.

Seriously, when I see a new name who has clicked like, I send out so much good energy to the universe, I think I keep a few stars alive a little longer.  I make lightning bugs seem like static electricity bugs.

And I'm getting over my aversion to the word "Like."  I guess it's okay to have more Like in the world.  Likers are so much cooler than haters, that's for sure.

So this is why I have a new author page and why you may want to set up one yourself as well. (They are easy to set up and you can find the "Create a Page" at the bottom of any of these pages).

Oh and Jeannine reminded me if you get 25 people to "Like" your page, you get to name it.

So here are some pages, I Like (with a capital L)-- And the best part, if you're on Facebook, you can like them too, just by going there and clicking Like, then you're connected.  That's it!

Favorite Facebook Pages--

My Author Page:

Jeannine Hall Gailey:

Crab Creek Review:

Steve Almond:

Mary Biddinger's new book:

Dan Savage:

C. Dale Young's book TORN:

Jennifer Michael Hecht:

Sandra Beasley:

Collin Kelley:

Michael Wells:

Garth Stein:

If you have a Facebook Author Page, please feel free to add a link to it in the comments--

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day, Fellas!

This ad cracked me up... I used to give my dad Soap-on-a-Rope, this in a million years would not be on his gift list.

And I'm seriously hoping this isn't for someone's dad, but their husband...  This ad goes wrong in so many ways...  but the humor of it continues on.


And to the dads out there-- Happy Father's Day!  I hope it included pancakes and clothes! Thanks for your love and kindness in raising the good people of the world!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Sandra Beasley & her new Memoir!

This may be one of my most favorite book covers ever!  Two of my favorite things-- sweets and skull
Today I am thankful that it's almost time for Sandra Beasley's new memoir to release.

Sandra has a JULY 12th release date, but you can preorder her memoir: Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life right now.

A beautifully written and darkly funny journey through the world of the allergic.
Like twelve million other Americans, Sandra Beasley suffers from food allergies. Her allergies—severe and lifelong—include dairy, egg, soy, beef, shrimp, pine nuts, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew, mango, macadamias, pistachios, cashews, swordfish, and mustard. Add to that mold, dust, grass and tree pollen, cigarette smoke, dogs, rabbits, horses, and wool, and it’s no wonder Sandra felt she had to live her life as “Allergy Girl.” When butter is deadly and eggs can make your throat swell shut, cupcakes and other treats of childhood are out of the question—and so Sandra’s mother used to warn guests against a toxic, frosting-tinged kiss with “Don’t kill the birthday girl!”

I can't wait to read this book.  And here's a book trailer to learn more (and with actual photos of the birthday girl...)

Many congrats, Sandra!  And many thanks that you have found a way to navigate through your allergic life.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Confession Tuesday - Lazy Summer Edition

Dear Reader,

As school ends, summer begins, and June is reaching its halfway point (how did that happen), it's time to confess.

To the confessional--


I confess if constantly call my golden retriever handsome and cannot understand how people can resist not petting, hugging, or playing with him.  He is 85 lbs, almost six years old, and while his real name is "Buddy Holly," I refer to him as "Baby Boy."

Why the NW is My Palace--

I confess that I'm not sure I could live in a warm climate or one with nice weather because much of the time I'm happy that it's raining so I can stay inside to write and read (and not feel guilty that I should be outside doing something active).


This is a Real Word--

I confess one of my favorite words is "lollygagging" and I get annoyed that every time I write it, my Mac puts a red-dotted line under the word as if it's spelled wrong.

I confess this is the second time this week I mentioned this.

Definitely an Over-Achiever--

I confess during the nice weather on Sunday, I took a 2 hour nap and dreamed about taking a nap on a warm summery day.

I'm Not Rejecting You:

I confess I just received a rejection from Rattle this week.  I was surprised to see this in the final paragraph:  If you consider yourself Buddhist, there's plenty of time to try us again.  (I wondered if this was some sort of Zen/reincarnation riddle...)

I then reread it and realized they are having a theme issue so if you consider yourself a "Buddhist poet" you can submit to Rattle until August 1.

I won't be submitting as while I am interested in Buddhism, have a Kuan Yin statue in my garden, I also wear a St. Cecilia medal.  I think if I had to define myself I'd say spiritual.

I guess I've moved away from being in any one group.  I think I practice Kellism.


Even though a NW Type, Spain Might Be Okay--

I confess I really like taking naps.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Poetry: Where the Big Money Is(n't) - Let's Talk...

There's an interesting blog post here by Nic Sebastian to check out called "poetry – an inherently non-profit activity?"

Nic writes:

The fact is that selling poems is just not good business. Packaging poems ‘for sale only’ doesn’t make money and cuts down on potential readership. Do we want to sell poems, or get them read? The two objectives are, in my view, mutually exclusive to a high degree. Sell, ok – but don’t only sell.

It's an interesting concept that goes even deeper in the large much read book, The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World by Lewis Hyde.

Truth be told, the majority of the money I've from by writing poetry has not come from royalties, book sales, or payment from magazines and publishers, but from reading honorariums, teaching at writing/reading conferences or poetry festivals, individual consulting and editing on poems and poetry manuscripts with writers, and from grants.

Writing a poem has not been my ticket to J.K. Rowling-ville.  It has not equalled a movie deal or an appearance on Oprah.  I am not on booktour in England.  I do my own laundry.

But still, I do it.

Why spend so much time on something that offers such a small financial reward?  In a world & culture centered around commerce, this doesn't make sense.

But it does.

I've said it before-- Writing a poem is an optimistic act.  And this is what I know of all true artists and writer friends-- the writing or art is always the first thought, not the money.

We forget there are other rewards besides financial.

If I was making zero money from writing or the things attached to writing (teaching, editing, consulting, one-on-one work, etc), I would have less time to write because I would need to find some way to pay the rent.  But I would still write.

I would still write poems even if I knew they wouldn't be published.  Even if I knew they or their comet tail of dreams would never open any doors, earn me any money, bring me any amount of success.

Would I like poets, writers, & artists to be earning equal or greater amounts of money compared to Hollywood actors--- oh, I would love that!

Do I think poets, writers, and artists should have salaries as high at the top paid CEO -- yes, and even more so they can share the wealth with others.

But maybe that's the thing-- money distracts.  It can make us forget who we are.

But if I had the choice-- I'd take the risk that you all could live on incredible over-the-top poetry salaries and still make the best decisions for you and your art.  I would trust that.

I guess my feeling is don't ever close the door on the idea that writing poems could earn you enough money to live more-than-comfortably, give you enough money to travel freely, or take care of you, but also, don't expect it.

Will it ever happen?  I guess we'll all just have to live a little longer and see what works out.

(Though I'm thinking my new Kelli Ru$$ell Agodon signature might be a little premature.)


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Summer Reading Edition

I am feeling thankful today for the writers and artists in the world.  And I'm also thankful for books.  

Here's a list of what I've read, what I'm currently reading and what I plan to read this summer--

TOP PICK for Parents--

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School  Alexandra Robbins  ---  I just started reading this, but am tearing my way through (I have the eBook edition).  

If you have kids, especially tweens-teenagers (5th-12th grade), I highly recommend this.  

It discusses that the qualities that can make a child "unpopular" in middle school and high school are the qualities that make them a successful and strong adult.  (BTW, unpopular kids in school included Bruce Springsteen, Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga, Steven Spielberg -- though all I kept thinking when I read this was how I wished I went to Bruce Springsteen's high school...)

It looks at the different "types" of kids (through real observation of actual kids) exploring The Gamer, The Popular Bitch, The Weird Girl, The Loner, The Geek, The New Kid, and some others.

Anyway, I have a feeling I'll be finished with this in a couple of nights and will do a full review of it.  So far, it's been hard to put down and is a great reminder how important it is to follow your own path & help your kids do the same (despite the high school/middle school push to conform to the beliefs/values/personalities of others).


Great Summer Read (hilarious)--

Bossypants by Tina Fey.  I read the eBook extended version, which had extra photos & even a short audio file (which was kind of cool), but I bet this would have been hilarious in (Audio) because she narrates it.

For the Visionary-Wanna Bes--

Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible by Daniel Burrus - A pretty interesting book on how companies and people make the right choices because they know the difference between a hard trend & a soft trend, as well as other "triggers" that can help you see where the future is going. 

The triggers he offers are smart (if you go to the Amazon page, the first review has a great summary of them).  However, much of the book looks at the internet and towards the end, his own business, which for me, wasn't as interesting as when we were exploring the ways to get FlashForesight.

Also, while I'm a writer, I have also always been stronger in math and business (no fooling), so I do want to say since I know many of you who read this are more artisty, writerly types, there is a lot of talk about business, companies like Crocs, Starbucks, etc, and really, not too much discussion on the arts.  

But I did find the idea of having Flash Foresight interesting in many aspects of our lives.


For those Looking for Calmness--

I'm listening to this book and it's a good listening voice because the author is English--the only weird thing about the audio edition is that every so often, it goes completely silent, there's this sort of stop/start element to it as if the recording studio didn't know how to manage pauses or editing.  It doesn't really change the content of the book, just something I noticed.

The book is lovely though.  I'm not sure someone who is well-versed in Buddhism would like it as much as it goes over the principles of Buddhism and the basics, but for me, it's an interesting account of how a London business man ended up adding Buddhism to his life.  

And as an extra benefit, I've started meditating again.  10 minutes a day.  Not much, but a start.  

For the Poetry Lovers--

Dean Young's Fall Higher  I haven't purchased this, but plan to very soon.  He just had a poem on Poetry Daily you can read here.

Jeannine Hall Gailey's She Returns to the Floating World will be out this month!  You can pre-order.  I have had the pleasure of reading this book pre-release since Jeannine is a good friend of mine, and it was pretty incredible mixing Japanese folklore and myths with modern life.

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