Thursday, June 30, 2011

Shopping with Old Money

Every time I clean up my house I keep unearthing this same stack of cards that I am terrified to throw away. They are gift cards, ancient gift cards that I am pretty sure are already used, but an inkling of doubt has kept them hanging around. To be completely honest with you, I am not even sure if some of them aren't my late mother's that I found when cleaning the house after her death, but wherever they came from they were really starting to stack up.

As I came across them again, I almost swept them into my drawer again for safe-keeping when I remembered something that I couldn't let stand any longer: two mysterious Apple gift cards in my wallet. These were definitely mine and I had definitely used them both, but had I used them completely? I told my husband we needed to go to the Mall and solve some mysteries!

We didn't get through the entire stack because we didn't have the time, but here are the mysteries that were solved:

The Apple Store
Two cards. One had nothing (no surprise) and the other had nine dollars and change on it! This was excellent news - I bought myself a $15 iTunes gift card which will turn into a digital book before this month is through!

Bath & Body Works
One very old gift card (the cashier even thought so), with $25 on it! A salesperson handed me a coupon, as I entered the store that said, "Get $10 off any purchase of $30 or more." It took us awhile to gather the smell hand soaps, bath salts and lotion to meet our quota - but we had fun and used up our gift card completely, with a $41 purchase minus $10 and my gift card, we spent $6 dollars.

One card, nothing left on it. No surprise, it was pretty old. My only fear is that it expired and that's why it was empty!

Borders Book Store
One Christmas themed gift card that had $25 left on it! I was about to hang on to this when a Trader Joe's Cookbook caught my eye.  There is a Trader Joe's being built up the block from me and, even if there was not, the recipes look very simple and they have a great way of categorizing Gluten-free (which is one thing I have to be concerned with) and Vegetarian (which is something I am always curious about) recipes.

All of that shopping, plus a stop off in Hot Topic to get myself a brand new Harry Potter T-shirt (as well as some pretty sweet Harry Potter earrings) and to hook up the hubby with some new cool super hero gear, meant that we were very much out of time and needed to get a move on. It was a really productive trip and I have more gift cards to play with next time: Sears, H&M, Pier1 Imports, Barnes & Noble and some others I can't remember.

I guess, in the end, there is a benefit to being home sick all year and forgetting what goodies you got for birthdays, holidays and the like - it turns out to make for a pretty happy Thursday of "found money"!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

The following post is taken directly from one of my hand-printed Reader's Journal. I will be sharing these reflections each week on the Rivera Runs Through It blog. The date at the end of each post is the date of the original writing, which is typically the date I completed the book. The reflections are short, but represent my initial reactions to a book, a brief summary of the book or the questions it raised for me at the time. I hope you enjoy this segment in my blog and feel free to comment on what you read here.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book

The Four Agreements are:
  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don't take anything personally
  • Don't make assumptions
  • Always do your best
The book says we live in a dream that is hell - full of suffering, guilt, anger and many other emotions brought on by fear. We can break this spell and live a new dream of heaven by committing to the four agreements above. It's a "Practical Guide to Personal Freedom." 

Dated: 01/01/01

Have you read this book? 
If so, what did you think of it?
If not, does this sound intriguing to you?

The Reading Journals

My reading journals starting with an entry on 01/01/01

This morning I decided one of the rooms in our house needed rearranging. It happens to be, of course, a room filled with book cases and books of my own, of my husband's, and resources for either of our respective teaching content areas - in short, there were a lot of books in there! The only way to move the book cases was to remove the books, move the cases and return the books. Through this process I made a wonderful discovery.

I rediscovered my Reader's Journals. To be honest with you, it's not that I forgot about them (well, I did think I only had one), it is simply that I did not realize how faithful I was to them. I have nearly four years worth of my reading reflections contained in these two books! As I flipped through the pages I was so grateful that I had written in them and that I had kept them. What wonderful artifacts of a piece of my reading history and a piece of myself!

At this point in my life, I recognize that I have used blogging and book clubs to replace that piece of reflection after reading each book, but there is still something so special about writing these short entries that I think I may come back and visit for myself!

In the meantime, I would like to share my reflections with you! Each week I am going to post one of my reflections from my Reader's Journal so you can learn a little bit about a bunch of books I read and, perhaps, in the interim, a little bit about me!

Do you keep a Reader's Journal? If so, how long have you done so?
By the way, if you are interested in getting a Reading Journal for yourself (which I HIGHLY recommend!), here are the journals that has available:
The Reading Journal Posts:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I love TED. When I see there is a TED event going on, typically I am checking it out, so is the case today. Right now TEDxBoston is live and discussing revolutionary ideas. Come check it out below:

Watch live streaming video from tedx at

What is TEDxBoston?
What happens when a group of people rally around a radical idea and set in motion unlimited possibilities for a brighter future? A Revolution. More than two centuries ago, ordinary citizens in Boston dreamed of a democracy and launched a revolution that changed the course of human history in extraordinary ways. That innovative spirit still thrives today in our forward thinkers and accomplished doers. At TEDxBoston, we celebrate their ideas and their passion for improving the way citizens of the world learn, live, give, work, and play.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shape Up AND Have Fun With The BUDGET Diet

As I started my stumbling for the week, and I was thinking to myself, "Who shall be my featured Stumble Buddy of the week?" I was struck by the timeliness and need to share the latest post by Kristl from The Budget Diet.

Of course, if I am being honest, that wasn't something that really surprised me - every time I tune into The Budget Diet I am reading a post that is fun, helpful and, often, exactly what I need at that moment!

Who couldn't use some really great tips on saving cash?

Who wouldn't love to have fun and enjoy life while doing it?  

This is what The Budget Diet has to offer you.

If we just take, as an example, the post written on the first day of summer called Summer Boredom Busters - 10 Summer Fun Ideas - here you'll find a fantastic list of ways to entertain the entire family throughout the long summer days. The ideas are not only cheap, they are legitimately fun ideas that kids will realistically fall in love with!

As you explore Kristl's blog, you'll be treated to weekly challenges, quick and easy recipes, cheap and fun party ideas and, of course, some great deals! Here are some of the posts that have causght my attention in the time that I have been a fan, just to get you started:
and for one of those real "A-Ha!" moments:
So stop wasting your time and money and get on over to Kristl's blog. I know you'll thank me for it!

This post was written as ta part of my continuing series on My Stumble Buddies. To be a part of our StumbleUpon party to read and stumble week by week, come visit the Kludgy Mom community in Blog Frog!

Other Stumble Buddy Posts:
**Don't forget Rivera Runs Through It now has a new FaceBook Fan page waiting for YOU to LIKE it!!**

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pottermore: The First Steps on The Adventure

With great anticipation (and a strong desire to go right back to bed) I awoke at 6:45am this morning to be ready for the 7am reveal of JK Rowling's latest venture: Pottermore.

My laptop was on and already open to the YouTube announcement page, where I was able to watch the following:

Step 1: Following My Owl
The mesmerizing music and JK Rowling's soothing voice convinced me that staying awake was worth my time and I followed the owl to! In about an hour's time I had my e-mail submission accepted.
No, no - thank YOU!
 I read the message on the screen and wondered What should I do UNTIL July 31st??

Step 2: Finding Other Owls
I stared, in fascination at my column in tweetdeck dedicated to #pottermore - it just kept scrolling and scrolling - there was no time or way to read any of the tweets being posted. I have never seen anything like it. I closed it and started a new column searching #followtheowl and was able to pick up a couple of new twitter friends that might help me in my quest. 

Step 3: Help An Owl With Clipped Wings
Then I realized one of my friend was stuck at work and might not have been able to submit her e-mail. I texted her and found out this was the case. I went back to and tried over and over again. I can say this: now, passed 5:30PM, her e-mail has still not been accepted and the sit is acting even funkier than it started. The website has been overwhelmed by requests.

Step 4: Time to Sharpen My Beak
I spent most of my day reading press releases, finding new tweeps and trying to figure out what my next steps are. In a moment I will share the links of the most useful things I have found, but here is where my head is at:
On July 31st an e-mail will be sent out to everyone who gets their e-mail into between now and then. This e-mail will include some sort of registration process. The first one million people to complete that registration process will gain early access to the Pottermore world before it opens to the public in October. I don't know what that registration will include, but I doubt it will be easy and I will not be surprised if there are clues in the interim leading us to the correct responses. I am going to try to be one of the first million. If I make it - awesome. If I don't, well then October is my birthday month and I can't think of a better birthday gift than finally knowing which House at Hogwarts I belong to!

References and Where I Am Going Next:

Up Next
The livestream event is from The Leaky Cauldron peeps, so I am curious to see what they have to say tonight. I'd like to s if they have any suggestions for what to do between now and July 31st.

[Flash Fiction] This Beautiful Life

This post was written in response to a prompt from the Red Writing Hood. This is my first-ever flash fiction writing. It WAS fun and forced me to think about the storytelling in a completely different way.This week's prompt is as follows:
Flash Fiction can be fun and a real challenge. This week focus on the words and the strength of each to contribute to your story. Write a 300 word piece using the following word for inspiration: LIFE.

"Let her burn," came a voice to her right. She turned to see a horrid face with a toothy grin shrouded in a hood. The man looked like a caricature of death, but when she felt his warm spit on her face and saw the angry mob before her, she slipped easily into the reality of her surroundings. "Hang her!" came one scream with cheers of ascension. "Give her death! She deserves no more!" others yelled. As she looked out into the crowd she saw hate, fury and anguish. Some even brought signs carrying their messages of doom.

Forgiveness was nowhere to be found. As the shackles hung heavy on her wrists and ankles, two men pulled her up onto a platform where she thought, "I deserve this." She caught a glimpse of the noose as a hood was placed over her head and the crowd roared. The rope first slung loosely around her neck as some official statements were read - to her, it was just a mouse squeak amid the cacophony of death calls from the crowds - then a slight push, the rope tightened and


She was awake. The sun was up, the birds were singing and from where the sun fell onto her face, she could smell her wildflower garden. She and Angie had been working on that for two years now.

She laid there for a moment more.

Life. It is a beautiful thing - it smells beautiful, it sounds beautiful and, just like that morning stream of sun, it feels beautiful - she thought, "I don't deserve this."

Forgiveness was still nowhere to be found, nor did she seek it - being sentenced to LIFE, even if it was behind bars, seemed more than she could ever ask for.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pottermore Findings... This Is Going To Be FUN!

After learning about Pottermore last week and posting everything I knew at the time, I continued to search, read and keep an eye on all things "pottermore" hoping that I wouldn't miss out on the next big clue. Since tomorrow is the official announcement day I have not hit on anything huge, but, pulling some pieces together, a picture of what is coming seems to be emerging.


1. The Trademark "Goods and Services" Description of Pottermore as revealed to me through an article in The Escapist magazine is quite telling that Pottermore is designed to be an interactive online experience of sorts.
"Providing multiple-user access to a global computer information network; providing on-line chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among users in the field of general interest; providing on-line communications links which transfer the web site user to other local and global web pages; providing on-line facilities for real-time interaction with other computer users concerning topics of general interest"
2. All of the Beautiful Numbers that I so carelessly overlooked until I read the article Pottermore: What You Probably Missed in the Numbers. While I did take note of the fact that there were unchangeable numbers on the YouTube Announcement page, I did not stop to ask myself what the significance of these numbers was. While I definitely recognized that the number of owls was changing and that this was not a typical YouTube video, I have to be honest, I thought that was just a way to make things more intriguing to the viewer. This article changed my mind. THE NUMBERS ARE SIGNIFICANT! And of course they are - this is JK Rowling, after all, she has always used meaningful numbers in her work! Read the article, and pay attention!
The number of owls is now getting ridiculous - I count 32, plus the guy flying in the background!
3. The Leaked Memo Rumors are finally starting to surface about the details of some memo released to various newspapers concerning this large-scale PR event. This article Pottermore: Confidential PR Document? from The Independent seems to have the most details about it. [WARNING: Possible spoiler alert... if this leak is legit] This is a very exciting description including terms such as "Quill Quest," "wands being laced and found," and the "idea of a Daily Prophet wrap" along with a timeline stretching from late June (now) through October.


If we combine all of these clues, along with the tool used to reveal Pottermore to Harry Potter fans - an online scavenger hunt (check out the video summation in last week's Pottermore post)- then I am fairly certain that we are on board for an online gaming experience. I am wondering, though, if this game will break through the virtual world and actually have some experiences in the real world.

Last year my husband and I got pretty roped up in such a quest following the We Lost Our Gold clues here in New York City. Video clues were given on YouTube, weekly, and they led to a treasure chest filled with $10,000 worth of gold coins hidden somewhere in the city. I gave up, swearing someone beat us to it on week eight, only to find out JUST NOW that no one has found it yet!! It was loads of fun to play along, to run through the city after a night of intense Internet research, so I wonder if JK Rowling will take this idea to global scale?

It's hard to say if something like that could work. However, I do believe the game is on. In some way, shape or form, I think those of us wrapped up in the Pottermore drama will be involved in some massive multiplayer online game. I'd love to see it somehow bridge the gap and connect us offline in the same way that the Harry Potter books brought us all back to bookstores, libraries and pages. I believe, if anyone can do it, JK Rowling, the great author of the magic arts, can! 

Do you like the idea of a massive multiplayer online game?
Have you found clues that have lead you to believe Pottermore will be something else? 

My Latest Pottermore Post:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Five Reasons Why Today ROCKS!

Today is turning out to be pretty awesome. Just in case you have been bogged down by the day-to-day of it all and didn't realize this, let me shed the light and give you my reasons why today ROCKS:
  1. I'm breathing. This may sound ridiculous, but if we don't celebrate the little things they might start to feel neglected. Also... did I just say breathing was "a little thing"?! Whoa. My mistake - breathing makes ALL of this possible, so it pretty much rocks and I'm damn happy to be partaking in some healthy breathing today!
  2. Summer officially begins today. None of this "unofficial" nonsense that we celebrate with Memorial Day, or waiting until the end of the school year - summer is a season and the season starts today at 1:16pm. Awesome. Let the fun outdoorsy activities commence!
  3. I AM GOING TO A METS GAME TODAY!!!! I am writing this down and publishing it so there is absolutely NO WAY that my sickness can come in and steal this away from me. I am going. I didn't get to go to any games I had tickets for last year due to my repeated sicknesses. Today, I am going.
  4. The tiger lilies are opened and beautiful.
  5. There was a baby praying mantis on my rosemary bush outside!
Well, that's enough for now. It is time for me to go embrace my day and get ready for tonight's big game. I hope your day is ROCKIN' as well today!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Find Out What You Should Know from the I Thought I Knew Mama Blog

Most of us have some idea of what we want to do with ourselves - who we want to be, how we want to spend our time and what is important to us. However, life, with all of its twists and turns and new challenges, very often throws in some new factor that opens our eyes, our ears and all of our senses to a piece of life that trumps it all. So, it seems, was the case with Charise from the I Thought I Knew Mama blog.
As you read Charise's post answering the question Why are you called "I Thought I Knew Mama"? you get a real sense of this kind of enlightenment experienced by Charise and her husband with the dedication of their son Jac. It is beautiful post and a great story behind a blog's name.

I Thought I Knew Mama is another blog that I had pleasure of "discovering" through my StumbleUpon group. Charise's posts always catch my eye from her emotional writing (she is a fellow participant in The Red Dress Club prompts), to her healthy, green living and neat product reviews and giveaways in line with those ideals. Charise also has lots of information and inspiration for moms looking to raise their children in a more ecologically conscious, healthy and natural way.

Some of my personal favorite posts from I Thought I Knew Mama, so far, are:
I Thought I Knew Mama is a great blog to explore if you are a mom, if you are a writer, if you are interested in going green or, at least looking for healthier/more organic lifestyle choices for you and your family, or if you are looking to get some cool new stuff from one of the many giveaways Charise hosts!
This post was written as ta part of my continuing series on My Stumble Buddies. To be a part of our StumbleUpon party to read and stumble week by week, come visit the Kludgy Mom community in Blog Frog!

Other Stumble Buddy Posts:
**Don't forget Rivera Runs Through It now has a new FaceBook Fan page waiting for YOU to LIKE it!!**

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pottermore = MORE Potter Enough Said!

I am completely STOKED! I just got a completely enigmatic text message from a fellow Potter fan that said simply:
I had NO IDEA what that meant. She directed me to Google it (thank you Cristyn!!) and now I am overcome with excitement. As I am sitting here counting down the weeks, days and hours until the 12:01am showing of the final Harry Potter film that we already have tickets to, I have now been informed that there WILL be MORE POTTER!! 
This is all that can be currently seen on
It is mysterious. It is exciting. It is from JK, herself and rumors are that it will be some kind of online experience. The only thing that has been said definitively: it will NOT be another book. (It's all good with me JK... as a blogger I can still see how an "online experience" could be blessed with some of your writing!! Pretty please!!)

Here's one quick web-news story I have found doing a quick rundown of the Pottermore release:

And here is the VERY COOL way the news was revealed to Harry Potter fans. I absolutely love it already!

Thank you so much, SableCaught for giving us such a great tour!!

Fabulous, fabulous news for all the fans out there. Time for me to go get my wand earrings and my Harry Potter T-Shirts ready because it is time for MORE Potter... ahem... I'm sorry I keep getting that backwards: IT IS TIME FOR POTTERMORE!! (Here's the countdown.)

What do YOU think it will be?

Sick Days

I had different plans for what I would post today, but fate did not swing my way. Today is a sick day. In fact, as I am on medical leave from my job, I guess it would be more appropriate to call today a sicker day, since I am pretty much always somewhere on the spectrum of sick.

Today I've traded pajamas for sweatpants, the bed for the couch and sleeping with an uncomfortable relaxed looking pose that is filled with dread. It sucks here and I wish my body would just tell me what the heck it wanted, what it needed to feel, finally at ease. This hasn't been the greatest week, health-wise for me and I'm starting to feel a bit beat up about it, so it is time that I recall what strength can be drawn from the fight through this poem from Douglas Mallock:
Bold Tree
Bold Tree by zachstern
The tree that never had to fight,
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out on the open plain,
And always got it’s share of rain,
Never became a forest king,
But lives and dies a scrawny thing.

The man who never had to toil,
To gain and farm his patch of soil,
Who never had to win his share,
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man,
But lived and died as he began.

Good timber does not grow in ease,
The stronger the wind, the stronger trees
The farther sky, the greater the length
The more the storm, the more the strength,
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In tree and men good timbers grow.

Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold counsel with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
This is the common law of life.

                     Douglas Mallock
So, here's to the wonder of my good timber growth and to the days in my someday futur where I can hang a swing from them and just be!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I've Finally Named My Band

I'm a big fan of classic and alternative rock. I listen to Rock RXP 101.9 pretty much exclusively these days (more so than my own playlists, in fact), and in the past couple of weeks they have been running the "Your Shot to Rock" competition for local bands in the area to enter.

Hold on a second. I don't want to confuse you here: I am, by no means, a musician nor am I musically talented in any way. I have no band to enter the contest. I am merely fascinated with all the new band names I am hearing. This is not a new fascination, I have always been this way. Every time I hear a cool band name, I ask myself the same questions:
  • Where did it come from?
  • Was it difficult to come up with?
  • Did the band pick something else first and run into copyright problems?
and sometimes
  • How was that never a band name before? (Case in point: Nirvana is such a great band name - so simple, so direct and even musical - how is it possible no one used that before?!)
I have never aspired to come up with the "Nirvana" band name of my day. I figure if there is something else that awesome and obvious, some group of hard-working musicians playing the local scene has already gotten it. I have also never aspired to make up a name like "Weezer" or "Foo Fighters" in the hopes that my mystical invention of words will catch on with a public audience (my husband would be much better at this and probably has a ton of possible band names up his sleeve that no one else has just because they aren't real words!).

I have always aspired to come up with something that has a story behind it, is unique and is odd enough to be a band name. This morning it finally hit me! I've had my band name for decades! Are you ready? Here it is:
Fudge Bunnies in Hand Baskets

That's my band name. And, for people who have known me for a really long time, this makes total sense! 

6 Individually Wrapped Dark Chocolate Easter Bunnies Measures 3.5 InchesI went to catholic school for (almost) my entire school career. In junior high the urge to curse started to swell in me, but two things got in the way: 1. I knew it was wrong, and 2. I knew I would get in a lot of trouble if anyone (at school or home) ever heard me drop the F-bomb. Well as anyone out there who is adept in swearing can tell you, most times the reason why someone selects a curse instead of some other more suitable exclamation is to release some sort of emotion - anger, fear, surprise, joy, etc. I felt just saying "fudge" simply did not expend enough energy to express the appropriate emotion, or to feel validated after my outburst, therefore, one day I kept going and said, "fudge bunnies" and it felt a little bit better. Finally, I decided I needed a little more and in thinking about little chocolate bunnies in Easter baskets I came up with, "Fudge bunnies in hand baskets," and it was the perfect amount of syllables to expel whatever pent up feeling I had that caused the outburst in the first place!
11" Bamboo Easter Basket
From that moment on, "fudge bunnies in hand baskets!" was basically what you would hear me exclaim if I stubbed my toe, got scared, or anything else that required a full swearing. It has served me for years, even as a teacher with a classroom full of students and as I nearly killed myself tripping over the overhead projector wire in the front of the classroom just as the principal walked by and looked in! (Hilarious, by the way.)

And someday, this will also make a pretty sweet band name. Remember you heard it here first. The origin of the world famous Fudge Bunnies (that's what we'll be called as a nickname), was simply a frustrated little catholic school girl who needed to express herself!

So, I'm SURE you know what question I'm going to ask: 

The conversation continues in The Escapist magazine's forums. See what people have to say about "What's your band's name?"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Your Book Proposal from A Publisher's Perspective

Many bloggers are on the path from blog to book, so it was no surprise to me that there were publishers at the Blog World Expo to take advantage of this fact. I have no idea where my blogger adventures might take me some day, so I decided to check out the panel entitled "What Publishers Really think About Your Book Proposal" presented by a group of editors from John Wiley.

In short, a successful book proposal should contain the answers to three major questions:
  1. Why YOU?
  2. Why THIS Book?
  3. HOW Is It Going To SELL?
Stack of BooksAs each of the editors shared their own personal preference for genre (one was a sci-fi editor, one was a historical and foreign-based fiction editor and one was a celebrity editor) and unique skills, there were some clear answers to these three questions that seemed to sell no matter what genre you may be interested in writing. Let's take a look at each one in detail.

Why YOU?

You must understand that as an editor in a publishing company each of these individuals is exposed to countless authors who are just as passionate about their work, who have been working just as hard as you (maybe even harder!), who write just and wonderfully as you, et cetera, et cetera, so you must answer the question: WHY YOU? Here are some of the answers that the editors said that catch their eye:
  • You write a lot, possibly even in magazines
  • You are an expert on the subject and have evidence of this fact
  • You have been making a lot of "noise" in the field
  • you have special expertise in language (this came from the editor with interest in the foreign-based genre)
  • You are a celebrity (of course, this came from the celebrity editor)
Why THIS Book?

Have you been to the bookstore lately? Have you checked out the "New Releases" section? How about the "Bargain Books" section? Both of these sections have lessons in them - 1. How much competition is out there and, 2. how many of the books that do get published that still end up not being successful. You need to think long and hard about this question: WHY THIS BOOK? Believe it or not, just because you wrote it is not reason enough! Here are some things to consider and/or include in your proposal to let your prospective editor(s) know why your book needs to be published:
  • Explain your book in terms of other successful published books
  • Do NOT say "This has never been done before," OR, "This book is the first of its kind" - while this may sound like a positive unique experience, it actually sounds like your book has no shelf to be placed on in a bookstore!
  • Be on the lookout for the publishing house you are contacting is promoting and explain how your book fits their current market (or go to a publishing house that better fits your book!)
  • Read the "acknowledgments" sections of books similar to your own to find good contacts to make the right match
HOW Is It Going To SELL?

Disney Toy Story Hamm Piggy Bank Action Figure -- 6''You may be embracing your artistic side as was philosophical through the writing of your latest masterpiece, but, in the end, this is a business. If your book can't sell or it doesn't look like you can be much of a help in the selling of it, then your deal is done. Your book proposal must have some evidence of the fact that you have considered sales and the selling of your book and that your plan may have some legs. Here are some things that help (and this is where the web and social media came to the panel):
  • You have cultivated an audience, or created some sort of platform for yourself - this can be either through writing in print, or through the Internet
  • You have a wide presence on the web
  • You use your website as a TOOL FOR COMMUNICATION, not merely as an artifact of your work
  • You can show interaction and/or influence with your audience (again, this does not have to be online)
  • Do NOT spend time on the Internet as an afterthought - either all in, or all out

What Does It All Look Like?

Maybe you knew more about this stuff than I did before I sat down to this panel, but after all this chat about who I was, what my precious book was all about and what kind of sales person I was going to turn out to be, I was still wondering, "What the heck does the proposal actually look like?" Luckily, I was rescued from my curiosity and I now pass along the favor:
The Proposal
5-7 pages, containing:
  • An annotated table of contents for your book, 
  • A "Who Am I/Why Me" Statement (one editor said, "Formulate your Elevator Pitch", those of us who have been through the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog know all about elevator pitches!)
  • & At least 1-2 sample chapters of the book, or some other equivalent sample of your writing (blogs or articles)
Other Quick Tips

There were so many little tips thrown in here and there for aspiring writers throughout the panel. I know I didn't get them all, but here are just a few that will hopefully help someone out there!
  • Agents aren't necessary, but can be very helpful to run "interference" between you (the author) and the publisher (this way you don't always feel so offended when they are just doing their job by "hacking your baby"
  • You will probably hate the cover of your book
  • For fiction writers, a great place to create a platform is using the website to get published in short fiction
  • For all writers - the more you get published, the more "credits" you get
  • **Be careful of blogging it could be a TIME SUCK!** (According to the editors there Blogging hit its peak in 2006-2007)
  • Going from an eBook to a print book is difficult. HOWEVER, publishing a different print book with the SUCCESS of an eBook behind you makes the publisher's decision easier - in their eyes you already did the hard work

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A World Without Books

This post is in conjunction with the Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour a fantastic blog hop that brings together bloggers of all genres, backgrounds and locations. I am honored to be a part of it and ecstatic about the company I am keeping on this tour (there are 30 of us!!). In today's hop, the blog featured before me is the inspirational Everyday Gyaan. The blog featured after me is the artistic Totsymae. Do stop by and say hello to these two bloggers and take the tour - some of us are even having giveaways and contests! Happy reading!
Join Me!
Blog-A-Licious Blog Tour

Apocalypse of mine

Without the tales of wonder, horror, fantasy
Or even truthful knowledge for me to gain
Reader is how I once defined myself
Learner is how I carried myself
Drained, now, of the source of my bliss

Whispers of a memory
Is all I have left of the
Touch of the pages, the cover, the dog ears
Held once in these hands before these eyes
Opened wide to embrace your
Universe in

But before you leave me forever
Our time may not be through
One hope, one beacon, one healer found me
Kismet that he should do so today
Stopping me from embracing with any finality the world without books I have lived in.

On June 10, 2009 I was diagnosed with a rare disease known as Idiopoathic Intracranial Hypertension. Among other things, the disease has greatly affected my vision causing this once voracious reader to be unable to read anything off of the printed page. While technology and audiobooks have helped me maintain sanity in the absence of my life-long friends, my soul has ached for the touch and feel and experience of a book once again.

This week, as I confirmed my attendance in this blog tour writing about this topic (that hit awfully close to home), I had what I believed was going to be a routine trip (of the countless I have had over the last two years) to my eye doctor. When I gave him my update, regaling, once again, my tale of woe with the printed and written word, he said we might have a solution. Time will tell, but I didn't realize until he said it, how I had given up that which I held so dear to my heart. When it came time to tell my husband, I couldn't stop crying. Ladies and gentlemen, I may be freed from this dystopia - I may have been granted access to the portal sending me out of this WORLD WITHOUT BOOKS! 

Thank you, Dora for the beautiful timing of this tour as it has given me the perfect space in which to express my very new and unexpected emotions!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Perfect Formula for Learning at Old School with The Damsel

Do you like to learn things?

Do you like to laugh?

Do you wish you knew the simple ways to get things done like they used to get done - with stuff around the house, cheap to get, or at least with multiple uses?

Well then it is time that you join me in attendance in one of my favorite places on the Internet - Old School - Self Reliance 101, with one of the greatest teachers I know, The Damsel.

I was first introduced to The Damsel back in November when I first joined my StumbleUpon group. The first post I read was about fruit flies. I read the post and understood - I, too, hated fruit flies -  I was amused - Was this woman writing about herself in the third person?? - and I learned - the "Cup of Death" is simple to assemble and implement with the Damsel's clear instructions.

I thought it must be a fluke. A great, simple, short post highlighted among many others that could not have all possibly fit this beautiful formula: relevant, fun and educational - I was so wrong - this IS the Damsel's formula! This is what you will find each and every time you attend The Damsel's class. Now, not all of her posts contain recipes for death traps, but every single one will either teach you something or leave you in deep thought about something. As a teacher, myself, I could ask for nothing more from each of my lessons.

Enough. I am wasting your time. I'm making you late for class! Here are some of the posts on my must-share list:
I had to stop myself. This list was a lot longer a minute ago, but I want you to go explore the school grounds for yourself. Get on over there! The Damsel is waiting and I'm sure she has something wonderful to share with you today!

This post was written as ta part of my continuing series on My Stumble Buddies. To be a part of our StumbleUpon party to read and stumble week by week, come visit the Kludgy Mom community in Blog Frog!

Other Stumble Buddy Posts:

**Don't forget Rivera Runs Through It now has a brand-spankin' new FaceBook Fan page waiting for YOU to LIKE it!!**

Thursday, June 9, 2011

4 Great Ways to Get Your Blog Writing Going

You are sitting in front of your computer. You are ready to write for your blog. You've even managed to carve out a nice space of "me time" to accomplish this task, but then it hits you - what the HECK am I going to write about today? Since you have little time to waste, let me tell you about some of the fabulous resources out there to get you juices flowing.

Share Your Knowledge/Learning 

Do you have a skill, a hobby or something else you can teach your readers? Have you just gone to a class, watched a movie or read a book where you have learned something? Take a post to teach us! Here are some examples of some great teaching posts that I've run across:
  • 6 Ways to Start An Art Collection Without Breaking the Bank Using what she knows from being an artist's wife, Ginger teaches us some tricks of the trade so we can all add that glitz and glam to our spaces no matter what our income is!
  • 4 Heartstopping Myths On Drowning Every Responsible Parent Should Know When Alison learned about what drowning really looked like, she knew she had something to share. It was an extremely important post and, because of that, it went viral. Do you have some important knowledge that you should be sharing with the world? Don't take it for granted that everyone knows what you do!
  • Lemonade Pie Kristl of The Budget Diet blog had a fun, yummy recipe from her childhood that takes only four ingredients and some chill-time. She shared it with her readers who are always interested in fun things to do, make or get for a bargain!
  • How to Wash Windows from The Damsel of the Old School - Self Reliance 101 blog. The Damsel is one of my great online teachers, this is just one example of her fun and funny teaching style that leaves you begging for more. ...and this is a post about washing windows. Moral here: inspiration can be anywhere - you just have to be up to the challenge of writing about it!!
Challenge Yourself

Pick a challenge, either for yourself or for your blog and write about it. This can be a lot of fun and an easy path to finding material to write about. Here are some challenges you might want to think about:
  • Go Meatless! This past November I found out it was World Vegan month and decided, in honor of that, to go meatless every Monday for the entire month. I documented it on my blog Searching for Sustenance and it gave me an easy day of writing for six weeks of Mondays. I also couldn't help but occasionally refer back to it from time to time, so it continues to be a source of writing inspiration. Here is my wrap up post What I Learned from Meatless Mondays.With this challenge you'll examine ethical eating and your blog will benefit from it as well.
  • 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Do I write about this enough on this blog? I love this challenge. I am going through it again right now. If you participate with a community like I am (shout out to the SITS Girls!), then not only does the eBook give you tons of ideas for writing, but so do your fellow participants! You will be improving your blogging skills and you'll have something to write about every day! Here's a fantastic look at one of the most content-heavy days in the challenge From Eileen of the Web Design School blog: Tips and Tutorials for Bloggers Day 6.
  • Couch to 5k Program This is a nine week program to go from couch potato to 5K runner. It is a program designed for people who have often thought most exercise, especially running, is a far away dream. Dream no more! MAKE IT HAPPEN and take your readers with you on the journey! You will transform yourself, inspire others and be able to write about the program, your ups, your downs, your runs, your falls - there is SO much to write about here... (I keep dreaming of the day my IIH takes enough of a back seat for me to try this one!)
  • 30 Day Challenges In general there are a lot of various types of 30 day challenges out there - fun ones, fit ones, financial ones, a quick search on Google will send you on your way to finding one that fits for you. One post about 30 Day Challenges that caught my eye was 10 Thirty Day Challenges No One Wants to Take.
Many causes need people to be talking about them. If you have a cause, or an action that is near and dear to your heart, then get writing! You'll feel better about it and you can engage your readers in discussing important issues. Here are some examples of blogs writing with causes in mind:
  • Conversations on Giving  This is a segment on the Do Good blog where the act of giving whether through charity, kindness or self is discussed. It is a simple idea that can be written about in so many different ways.
  • 365Give This blog fascinates me. It is about giving every single day. It doesn't have to monetary, it doesn't have to be huge, but it is making the commitment to giving at least once every day and then writing about it. Imagine you made this commitment. Imagine you had to write about it. How would this change you? How would it engage your readers?
  • One-Shots Stay in the loop with your special causes to find out if there are any special events or petitions floating around that need some publicity. Don't forget that your blog can be your podium when necessary. For example, this week I am trying to get people to let the Girl Scouts know I would like some gluten-free cookies! To that end, I wrote this post: Tell the Girl Scouts How Big the Gluten-Free Market Is! (if you have a minute, you should totally check this post out and sign the enclosed petition!).
For the Art of Writing

  • The Red Dress Club Every week these ladies provide two writing prompts. The prompts could be as simple as a word or a picture, or they could even be specific lines to be included in the writing - they change all the time and I check in every week. If you write on one of the prompts, you can return to the site to link up your post to share with the Red Dress community for concrit. It's pretty awesome.
The Writer's Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the 'Write' Side of Your Brain
  • The Writer's Toolbox This is an offline resource that I actually found in the Barnes & Noble bargain section years ago. The box comes with a timer, a number of different tools (sentence sticks, sensory cards and the protagonist game, for example) and  book describing different ways to use them in conjunction with each other to find inspiration.
    There's More!

    There is definitely at least second post in here about how you can write about what's going on in the news, how you can join blog communities like Blog Frog or SITS Girls or even Twitter parties like #CommentHour to see what other people are writing about and write a reaction post to it and link up. There's still even more, but to be honest, I think I am taking up too much of your time because you really need to get to writing!

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Wordless Wednesday: My Furry Children

    Doggie TV = Actual window to the world

    King of the couch.
    Buffy is our princess and the pea.

    Bunk beds?
    A favorite pastime.
    Champ knows that Wednesday is comic book day!!