1 Way to Help You Meet New Readers: Meet and Greet

For all my blogger friends 🙂

Dream Big, Dream Often

imagesWhat day is it??!!  HUMP DAY!!  No, that is completely wrong…it’s Meet and Greet Day!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post.  It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!  So don’t be selfish, hit the reblog button.
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags (i.e. reblogging, reblog, meet n greet, link party, etc.), it helps, trust me on this one.
  4. Share this post on social media.  Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new bloggers to follow.  This helps also, trust me.
  5. And if you leave a link and don’t follow me, how about ya show ole Danny some love?

Now that all the rules have been clearly explained get out there and meet n greet your butts…

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The Male Factor

Caution: bit of a rant ahead. Apologies to all guys who do not fit into this category  – even though I don’t know any 🙂

I come from one of those weird families in which a whole generation is comprised of females only to be followed by another generation of exclusively males. My generation was all girls and now we are all having boys.  Having grown with mostly women I find a lot of “manly” behavior perplexing at best. I don’t remember my dad ever acting like this, but then again, he was my hero and you tend not to notice flaws in your heroes. So, here’s what daily life in a mostly male household looks like:

At any time of the day I walk through a house littered with discarded shoes. Even though we have a big coat closet right by the door, there isn’t a single day I don’t trip over the not-so-delicate size elevens left randomly around the house. They seem to particularly like the kitchen (even though there is normally a nice collection of them also by the fireplace in the living room). I almost broke my neck last week trying to answer the phone when I stumbled over a shoe and lost my balance. You would think that it would be really easy to remove your shoes upon entering the house and throw them in the closet (which is literally at an arm’s length from the door. You don’t even have to move) but no! Apparently it makes a lot better sense to just discard them as you walk down the hallway into the kitchen. Needless to say, sooner or later I’ll hear the familiar sing-song, “Where are my shoes? I can’t find them”.  Well, I mumble peevishly, maybe next time you put them where they can easily be found. I am not holding my breath!

shoes

Another thing that happens almost on a daily base is the toilet paper conundrum; you would think that replacing a toilet paper roll requires a P.H.D. because that five second process is always out won by the very inconvenient habit of just placing the roll on top of the sink (where it consistently gets wet). And don’t get me started on the wet wipes… why would you leave the box to anything that needs to stay moist open? And later complain they are dry?

Walking in the kitchen of a male-rich household is always risky. Not only there is the discarded shoe issue but if you don’t pay attention you will hit your head or your leg in the various open cabinet doors. I have seen my boys ducking in order to avoid hitting the open door rather than …I don’t know, closing it?

I have given up on trying to help and washing their clothes. Why, you ask? Well, as you can see from the picture it’s a losing battle. The clothes you see piled up all over the floor are not necessarily dirty. In fact, I can guarantee that half of them just have been washed (ok, ok sometimes I still wash them). Clearly putting them away in the dresser and giant closet was too obvious of a choice to be the right one. So, they get thrown on the floor where they gleefully mingle with the dirty ones. “Mom, didn’t you wash my clothes? I can’t find them.” Duh!

The Mountain of Shame

The Mountain of Shame

The pantry/fridge mystery is another interesting thing about living with guys. “Where did you put the peanut butter?” I hear. It’s in the pantry, as usual. “I can’t find it.” I finally give up, walk to the pantry, move a box of cereal that’s standing up front on the shelf and there it is, plain as day, the peanut butter jar. “Well, it was hiding behind the box!”  Maybe, you should try actually looking further than the very front of the shelves… I think somebody should come up with a special type of shelf that it is only about 3 or 4 inches deep, so men can find things in the pantry and/or refrigerator without having to enlist a search party.

I leave you with my favorite; the circle conversation (because it goes nowhere). It goes something like this:

Woman: We have run out of milk. We better go to the store and get some.

Man: Sure.

Woman: Oh yes, and my aunt Betty is coming tonight for dinner so I was thinking of baking a cake and make her my special mac & cheese.

Man: Good idea.

Woman: So, let’s go to the store?

Man: What for?

Woman (slightly exasperated): Milk!

Man: Why? Did we run out?

Woman (almost yelling): Yes! I told you that not even five minutes ago.

Man (trying to appease her): So, I was thinking: romantic dinner at La Maison Bijou tonight just the two of us?

Woman leaves the room screaming.

National Book Festival- a report of sorts

I have been living in the DC area for a long time and every year I hear about the National Book Festival. I am the only book lover in my family so I am never able to coax enough enthusiasm for the event to have any of my boys volunteer to go with me. Being the chicken that I am and considering that I rather poke a needle in my eye than drive into DC, I have never mustered enough gumption to go by myself, either. So when a writer friend of mine suggested we go together (unlike me she is not scared of DC street traffic) I was delighted.

I didn’t know what exactly to expect since I have never been to the festival but the list of authors speaking and holding autograph sessions was indeed impressive and included some very famous TV and science dignitaries such as Al Roker and Buzz Aldrin (oh my God, oh my God…Buzz! I am such a science geek).

Our first session was supposed to be with Kate DiCamillo. I am a super-fan of hers being a teacher. One of my co-teachers reads one of her books to her class every year and I was hoping to surprise her with some insights into the author herself. Being newbies to this sort of thing we got there way too late; the session was full. Slightly disappointed we went next door to another children’s session. Not the most interesting session ever, though. A lot of bells and whistles but left us feeling a little …empty. Wiser now, we left a little before the end so we could go line up for the next session, Al Roker.

I am not much of a daytime TV watcher but I know who Roker is, of course. I honestly thought it was going to be boring but Al sure surprised me. What an awesome, interesting speaker he is. He was funny, he was insightful and his new book sounds very interesting indeed – even to me and I am not crazy about nonfiction. My mood lifted. This was going to be a good day!

After Al we went looking for some fellow writers in the food court but it was an impossible mission. That place is huge. In fact, the basement reminded me of the gigantic Boeing 747 hangars of my youth. You could park three B747s there, I am sure. We ended up having lunch and then went back up for the next sessions. My friend is a YA writer and I am a YA reader so we decided to focus on those sessions.

The first one was kind of an accident. We wanted to go listen to Buzz Aldrin but the line to get in the room literally wrapped around the building, so we went to Jenny Han’s. I have been meaning to read her books, which have been highly recommended to me by several reviewers, but I haven’t quite got around to it. I am so glad we picked her. What a great, authentic young woman. She was funny, inspiring and a great speaker.

After that, we kind of parked ourselves in that room (and probably made some people very unhappy) because we wanted to attend the next few sessions. The next one was Michael Buckley. Now, I had no idea who that was but I had seen his last book on display in the basement and it looked really interesting. Oh my God, I just loved his presentation. A self-proclaimed ADD-sufferer he just made my day. I am a great fan of humor and he delivered!  Amidst all the joking Buckley managed to be extremely inspiring and down to earth, reminding us of why we write.

For our next session we stayed for Libba Bray, the author of the strangely spooky and poetic Gemma Doyle series. She is AMAZING! What energy, what spunk… I loved her. She even got a young woman to sing for her as a signal her time was almost up. So very inspiring from a writer’s point of view to learn about another (much more successful) author’s writing process.

My friend and I had decided earlier to leave after this session but we just couldn’t move. We were hooked.  We wanted more! David Baldacci came next. How great it is to hear this extremely successful author confess he needed to challenge himself and that’s the reason why, after so many years of writing adult mysteries and thrillers, he decided to branch out not only into YA novels but stories told from a young female POV .

We wanted more so we stayed for the next one with Sabaa Tahir. Another amazing, inspirational speaker. I was amazed when she told us it took her something like 6 years to finish her novel and that a few times she felt tempted to just give up.

We probably would have stayed longer but we were told we could not stay in that room any longer. So we left on a high note.

One thing that was striking to me was the cultural diversity of these authors and how some of the kids who got up to ask them questions seemed so touched by the fact that their ethnic background had a voice in YA fiction. That in itself was very inspiring. But we also had the author with ADD (how many kids can identify with that?) and an author with a physical disability (Libba Bray lost an eye in an accident as a teenager).  It was a joy to see this amazing  colorful mixture of authors inspiring young people and adults not only to read but to write and persist in the pursuit of their dreams.

On our way out from the Festival we noticed Buzz Aldrin being interviewed for TV. The geek in me just went, “OMG! I am breathing the same air as Buzz!” (but I played it cool on the outside).

What a great unintended birthday gift (my birthday was the next day) this was. The downside? I now have even more books on my already long to-read list but that is the kind of problem I can easily live with 🙂

Betrayal

Caution: Venting ahead.

For over 8 years now I have had the good fortune of working with a group of women who became so much more than a group of co-workers. At one point I actually gave our team of professionals a nickname; the Wonder Team. There wasn’t anything we could not tackle and find solutions for. We worked together better than anybody else I knew. The basis for this “efficiency” was mutual trust and respect. Or at least that’s how I have always seen it. After recent events I am wondering now if it worked rather because I was always so willing to believe –true or not – that I was indeed trusted and respected within the team. Outside work we became good friends. We were there for each other when our personal and professional life hit the proverbial bumps on the road and we were there to celebrate each others’ successes.

Today we are a wreck, a pile of disconnected bones trying to stand up on their own and failing miserably. At the heart of it all there is betrayal; that insidious feeling of a knife thrust deeply and purposively into the tender flesh of your back. At the National Book Festival yesterday, author Michael Buckley  referred to betrayal while answering a young woman’s question about one of his characters. He said that betrayal hurts more than any other pain because it comes from someone you care about. Those words rang so very true to me; I have been betrayed by someone I considered a very good friend.

When we talk of betrayal we normally think of an action taken against someone. We forget that betrayal also happens when someone uses inaction as a weapon. When I was a pre-teen a friend of mine betrayed me while standing by, watching me being bullied by people she was friends with. She didn’t do the bullying but she stood by and said nothing. This time a dear friend of mine thought it perfectly alright to ostracize me and give me no explanation of any kind. Others followed her cue and I was suddenly the unwilling (and clueless) star in a high school drama titled “The Pariah”. Everything I do or say is now being second guessed by people who have no business doing so. My great team is starting to look a lot like Jaws coming after me while I’m trying to swim to shore without much success. At least the shark was doing what a shark does. There was no thought or ethics involved. My personal “sharks” are doing it for reasons totally unknown to me while turning my job –which I always loved – into a living hell.

Mother Teresa, my ultimate hero and idol, is credited to have written a now famous poem called “Do It Anyway”. I came across this poem during a yoga class and I remember thinking, “This is my philosophy of life. Somebody put this into actual words.” Don’t get me wrong; just because I try to live by these guidelines does not mean I am always successful. Of course not. I am human after all and messing up is one of the prerequisites for membership in the species. But this is what I strive for, the design for my behavior, the goal for all my actions. I am often thought of as weak because I turn the other cheek easily. I am often thought to be a sucker because I am a believer in second chances and I like giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. I would never betray a friend. I am fiercely loyal (probably too loyal for my own good) and I would first hurt myself rather than hurt others. So, you can imagine my emotional turmoil of suddenly, and for no reason known to me, being the target for friends’ disdain and anger.

Betrayal is an awful feeling. When someone betrays you, you question yourself; did I do something wrong? How could I be so stupid? You start thinking that there must be something wrong with you that you never once suspected this could happen. You feel guilty that you are angry about it because “what if this is my fault”? It’s a feeling I do not wish on anyone. There is no going back from betrayal but it is possible to at least mend some bridges if everyone is willing. This is what I hope. But I will not hold my breath…

Sculpture by Erin Michael Wilson @deviantart