Volume, Visibility, and Buses, Oh My!

Not So Fine Print: blah blah blah Sponsored Post blah blah blah Full Disclosure blah blah blah That Thing About Any and All Opinions Being My Own. Moving on...

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Volume and visibility.

The first refers to how much noise we are capable of generating when combining our own voice with our community to bring notice to a particular message; the second is specific to how many pairs of eyes follow the yellow-brick road to the land of Oz. Enough noise and you re-energize your existing audience and hopefully expand your reach with a few new voices. Enough eyes and you see the difference between a ripple and a wave.

The wave, y'all, is when one of your social media friends texts you excitedly because your links have started showing up in Facebook shares from her IRL friends. The wave is what happens when momentum starts working for you, turning that snowball you've been working on and turning it into a straight-up avalanche. That's when you no longer have to bust your ass and begging your friends to help promote your blog post, new book, new product line, or otherwise fabulously fantastical idea, because the ginourmous  bus that just drove by in the middle of Times Square with your blog/book/or otherwise fantastical idea all over it...

...and now you know what validation feels like.

I'm proud to announce that Zuesvision Public-- the company that prides itself on leveling the advertising playing field for the little guys -- has selected Aspiring Mama to take part in it kickstarter awareness campaign. In exchange for a blog post sharing the Zuesvision message with you, I get two weeks of bus-sized Aspring Mama ads wheeling their way through high traffic areas in both LA and NYC. II'm not an idiot, so I said yes, but I'm also a hard-ass when it comes to being convinced to sponsor up the blog, so I think it goes with0ut saying that any and all words written on behalf of Zuesvision are my own, right?

(This is the part where you come in.)

Here's the thing, y'all...we all know that it takes more than hard work and busting our asses to make an actual go of whatever it is we feel we are called to do. An advertising budget and/or pure dumb luck tend to play a big part in who we are talking about and who's talking about us. Whether it's building a successful nonprofit like my friend Denisse Montalvan with The Orphaned Earring, getting your glitter on with a new product line launch with a major retailer like my girl, Kathy Cano-Murillo, a.k.a. Crafty Chica, or selling the hell out of their book like friends Rick Najera with Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood and Mercedes Yardley with her new release Pretty Little Dead Girls, or if it's big dreams of bringing your bling to the front lines like my friends Jessica Mazone and Lucy Ball, the struggle is the same: We can write the hell out of the blog posts and share the links on our social media channels like the seasoned social veterans that we are, but we only have so much time to devote to being all self-promotional and shhhtuff.

None of it matters if no one bothers to click the links. We are busy and we'd love an intern and imagine the day when we can afford a reliable assistant to keep us (mostly) on track and of course we don't have time to click every link from the very friends we'd support at the drop of a hat if we knew they needed it (without having to click the links, of course). So here goes nothing...

I want Zuesvision to succeed. I want to see their kickstarter campaign bring it all home and cheer when the company announces the addition of more digital billboard buses to their fleet. Why? Because we need Zeusvision just as much as they need us. We raise our chances of success when we join forces and who doesn't think that ginourmous buses inching its way through Times Square with your $99 URL-containing ad aren't a good idea?

Exactly. 

So pay attention, because I'm about to play hardball.

This is the part where I ask you directly to click the link to Zuesvision's kickstarter campaign. 

This is the part where I ask you directly to donate $5, because five bucks gets you a single 30-second ad on a bus. (If all the $5 spots are taken, this is the part where I tell you to team up with friends to pool funds for one of the larger sponsor spots because...)

This is the part where I ask you directly to gift your ad spot to a worthy cause. Go with your gut, but I'd like to suggest donating that ad spot you just bought Denisse Montalvan of The Orphaned Earring. She is doing incredible things and this is so much easier than scaling a mountain and shouting myself hoarse on her behalf.

And this is the part where I say thank you. 

Let's see what we can accomplish together, Internet. I believe in you.

The Finger Monkey, the Kilt-Daddy, & the Sandwich that Sprained my Ankle

 

Sometimes I like to look up the search terms that lead people to Aspiring Mama. Usually this happens after a random conversation I have with a real person like The Husband or my kid or the one neighbor who's house I can see from the end of my drive (as opposed to the pretend people that live inside of my iPhone).

Today's foray into RandomSearchTermLandia was spurred on by Monday's blog post showcasing my girl and her daddy in their kilts and The Husband muttering something about his legs being all over the internet again. When I called him Kilt Daddy and told him to show me his Irish, he totally thought he was getting lucky later and, sadly, I had to tell him that was gonna have to wait for me to finish writing for the day. It took him a minute before he was all Who is this Kilt Daddy?

So I showed him. Since publishing the original post two years ago, that very term has been one of the most popular internet searches leading readers directly to Aspiring Mama. Other winners include

*Advice Columns of Satire

* Funny Stories About Maine

* Pictures of Finger Monkeys

* Do Cats Blink

* Multiple Women Naked Bodies

* How Much is a Baby Finger Monkey?

*Autosucking

and

* Broken Legs or Sprain Ankles of Famous Persons

 

Just remember, y'all, while Google may be telling you the truth when it shows you The Husband's sexy legs when you ask it for the Kilt Daddy, Google is a damned liar about the finger monkey expert thing. That, my friends, was one blog post from way back when that was the first thing ever pinned by a reader and how I learned Pinterest had been invented.

Oh, and that one about the broken ankle? In my defense, there was a lot of meat on that sandwich.

 

 

More Solicited Advice with #LatinoProblems

Today is going to be short and sweet. Too much to do and too little time makes me wish I could wax poetic like Schmutzie more often than not. And I'll be honest; I'm not too sure NaBloPoMo is helping me in that area, either. I might be posting more often but the trade off is the time I manage to stockpile for the poetic waxing of words when I'm not in a mad rush to post and promote on a daily basis just to be able to chalk off another win. That being said, on with the show.

Last time I was in New York to record my #LatinoProblems advice segment for Latino USA, I happened to stop by Latina Magazine offices to schmooze with my fab editor, Damarys Ocana, and get my head shot taken for the magazine's contributor page. No one seemed surprised when I walked in wearing my Wonder Woman gear. It's like they know me, or something.

And now? My Wonder-Womaned self is on the Latino USA web page listed as a Futuro Media Group contributor promoting the latest #LatinoProblems segment on the show. Take a listen. Beth says I sound brilliant. I kind of like Beth.

 

A Recap told in Captions: #Latism13

Because Every Writer Needs an Entourage

I'm at that weird place where I'm finding myself at a loss for what to post here. This space used to be my only outlet after leaving the newsroom to stay home with Eliana six years ago. Now, the soapboxes I once stood on and the She Said WHAT stuff that once were automatic blog fodder are now the columns and commentaries that I save for Latina. It's not a bad problem to have, I know. And I'm grateful for it.

Last week, The Husband, Eliana, and I packed up the truck at drove over seven hours from northern Maine to Stamford, Connecticut, where we caught a train to the Grand Central Harlem station. the purpose of the trip was two-fold and one of those folds I can't tell you about...yet. The other was to finally go the the Latina Magazine offices and meet the amazing staff and my favorite editor in person. We Did Lunch while The Husband took Eliana to FAO Schwartz to dance on the giant piano, and the next day we packed up to hop on the train for home.

 

It was exhausting. And except for the projectile vomit thing that happened in Massachussettes on the way home that forced a hotel stop for Eliana to rest (and us to clean out the truck), it was amazing.

Eliana and The Husband were invited to visit the Latina office with me. I loved that. So did they.

 

And then we drove hours and hours to our little sanctuary so far north I'm no longer impressed by the fact that Stephen King lives in Bangor. i'll be back in New york soon enough. But it's good to be home.

Today's List

 

To do:

* scare away Internet with emotional brain dump: check

* finish my edits on Strong like Butterfly ebook for Girl Body Pride: check

* take a nap: check

* wake up just in time to realize the child will not be going to bed anytime before midnight: check

* sniff my child's armpits to see if I can skip her bath...again : check

* teach my child how to use deodorant: check

* begin to fill out Listen To Your Mother application: check

* doubt myself because it's what I do: check

* continue to fill out LTYM application anyway: check

* realize child and her stinky pits need a bath: check

* bath, book, bed, blog: check

* read more words by Ariel Gore because she is my word Goddess: check

* decide that I've been a self-righteous ass this whole time waiting for my life to be validated by someone else: check

* reaffirm my convictions to become a famous writer before I'm dead: check

* even if it is on my own fucking terms: check

* look over list of contributors for Strong Like Butterfly again while heart flutters: check

* look over state of my newly-moved-in-home (unpacked boxes stacked as far as the eye can see): check

* shrug, figure it can all wait until tomorrow, go back to writing: check

* ponder branding and monikers and real names and what it is that I have to offer the world: check

* still pondering...

 

The Me That I Am

I'm having a pretty shitty Writerly Ego day. Actually, it's kind of been a shitty Writerly Ego month, to be perfectly honest. And when I've shared this little emotional nugget with the BFF and The Husband, I've received a raised eyebrow and a "YOU HAVE A FUCKING AGENT" in response to my pity party. I get where it's coming from. I am in a position a lot of writers would kill for. I have a wonderful agent who thinks me and my writing are worth something and deserve a place on the shelves at Barnes & Noble next to writers I admire like Jenny Lawson Jill SmoklerRobin O'BryantAnna Lefler and Heather Armstrong. It seems, however, that the platform I am currently standing on may not big enough to get there. Or maybe it just feels like that because I'm a writer and us artistic types are moody and overly emotional and maybe I just need a vodka-flavored cookie. Because really? I'm pretty proud of my little platform. I bust my ass for free because writing is who I am and what I do and the writing part is actually more important than getting paid part...for my sanity, at least. The bills sitting on my desk waiting to be paid, however, would rather I stop trying to stay Not Crazy and just get a fucking job that probably wouldn't leave me the time to write for the awesome sites I contribute to.

I love sharing the funny on An Army of Ermas and Funny Not Slutty. Getting a spot on best-selling author Lissa Rankin's Owning Pink site is something I will forever be proud of. I've been published on Hippocampus Magazine and almost fell over when StoryBleed accepted the same piece for publication on their site. And then what I've got going on over here on this little ol' blog o' mine. I'm working on getting my name out there and my writing on more outlets, but these things take time. And Platforms don't build themselves overnight.

I'm by no means in the same stratosphere as the likes of Dooce or The Bloggess or Scary Mommy and that's okay with me. I'm not trying to be them. Just me. And hopefully the Me that I Am will one day be enough.

Maybe this sounds like a Poor Me post, but I don't mean it to. Instead, I wanted to let other aspiring writers out there know that the days of doubting yourself don't end the moment you sign that contract with your dream agent. And, I'm sure my published writer friends will tell me that they sure as hell don't end when a book deal is offered or the day their books were released or even the day they got their first glowing review. Because once someone Other Than You believes in your work, it's not just your ego riding on how many readers connect with that essay you got placed in that literary magazine that you love or how many hits per month your blog is getting or how much better you feel just for having taken the jumbled words out of your head and making some sense of them in a new piece you just started.

Every level of success reached is both a validation of our talents and a new reason to Freak the Fuck out, but it's a lesson in the writing life that I seem to keep having to be reminded of. Three months ago I was still waiting for the Moment All of My Dreams Would Come True and then the world turned upside down when they did because I signed with my agent. That singular moment took two years to make a reality. And you would be right of you guessed that the Freaking Out commenced after the shiny newness of my situation sunk in. It's not just me and my ego on the table anymore. It's me and my ego and my agent's time and effort and enthusiasm and Belief in What I Am and Have Yet to Become.

But if I think back, I probably went through the same little Self-Doubt Fest when I was accepted onto my college newspaper's staff and when I saw my first byline and when I was assigned to cover my first murder case at the city newspaper that hired me right out of college. And then again when I left the newspapers to freelance and when I started this blog and when I woke up this morning and my little girl told me that I'm the best mother in the world.

So maybe shitty Writerly Ego days are just part of the process and part of what makes us who -- and what -- we are. It's our literary equivalent of the trap women set for men when we ask if This Dress Makes Us Look Fat because we really only need to be reminded that in their eyes we are beautiful no matter what how that dress fits us. My platform is what it is. My ass? Probably looks horrible in that dress. But it's okay.

Because tomorrow I'm still going to write something. And someone is going to read it.

Bring On the Glitter

I recently joined Brooke Warner's Mightybell Experience focusing on six steps to build my writing platform. And? It's a blast. One of the first exercises I participated in was making my I AM FABULOUS list, with the premise being about learning to talk myself up honestly and passionately because, and let's be honest, as writers we are selling ourselves and our words as our product.

That being said, it's not always easy to do it. Talk someone else up? No problem. I've got a mile-long list of writing friends with accomplishments totally worth writing home about. If you are a writer reading this post, I'm assuming you do, too. But what about yourself? When's the last time you caught your reflection as you passed a mirror or a store window and told yourself how awesome you are?

Brooke's suggestion was to get the pretty glitter markers and stickers and just have fun creating our I AM FABULOUS lists. (And yes, I smile every time I type that, so thank you, Brooke. Mne and my glittery list are certainly in a happy place right now.) So I did. Buttercup asked me to help her make a list, too, but I'll share that with you another time.

For now, it's show and tell. Here's what I came up with:

*I have the power to make my words speak on paper

*I've written for The Detroit News, Crain's Detroit Business, & been published on Hippocampus Magazine.

*I'm not afraid to make fun of myself for the benefit of my reader's experience.

*I'm sarcastic. No, really.

*I'm relatable even if spellcheck feels its necessary to argue with me about relatable even being a word every time I type it

*I'm also modest. Maybe.

*I once queried an agent with the phrase "my mama muffin top" in the first sentence, only it came out "muff top" & I didn't throw myself in front of a bus after sending.

*That means I'm stubborn and am not afraid to keep trying after making colossal mistakes.

*You're welcome.

*I maintain this blog, relaunched my other blog for something to do in my spare time (insert laughter here), write for bookieboo, review books for Hippocampus, write for An Army of Ermas, and still have time to pretend I'm not crazy. I know...it's a gift.

*I embrace my flaws and celebrate my strengths. Translation? Typos in this blog post are meant as visual aids to illustrate this point and are not to be confused with me being a horrible typist. Because I am.

*I sacrifice sleep and television for the chance to play with words and I do it gladly every chance I get.

*I'm better than I was yesterday, as good as I can be today, and confident I'll be able to say the same thing tomorrow.

*I wrote a book. A whole book. And I'm still working on making it the best it can be because I believe in it and in myself.

***

Did I mention how much fun I had writing this?

Now grab your markers and construction paper, people. It's your turn. Tell me...why are you FABULOUS?

The Cathartic Chicken

I think I have blogger's block. Normally, I've got about a million ideas swimming through my head with roughly 95% of them earmarked for Blog Posts I Would Have Time to Write if I Hired a Nanny and by the time I sit down at night to get the ideas on the screen, I have to decide which idea gets to be born into words and off I am on my merry way. Lately, however, I've been struggling. Maybe it's lack of motivation. Maybe it's stress. Or maybe I most likely need to borrow some of HC Palmquist's Ambien or Robin O'Bryant's pet Leroy and see where those avenues take me for inspiration. I had originally been thinking of buying a huge metal chicken named Beyonce to be my muse, but looks like that's already been done. So instead I've been finding myself staring at an empty square on my screen waiting to hold my words while Add New Post kinda just stand there, mocking me.

A new post about what? Maybe it's just me, but I sometimes wonder if I need to filter my moods when deciding what to post. When it comes to blog hits, funny works. Introspective? Not so much. But that leads me to question why I am blogging anymore if my only desire is to see an upward trend in readership because if 'm not writing for myself first than who am I writing for?

I'm not going to take some bullshit high-road and tell you that I've reached nirvana and no longer care what you or anyone else thinks and will be happy to just share my words on a public forum that no one other than myself makes time to read. I'm not going to tell you that being authentic is more important than being popular, mainly because, even through I agree with the sentiment, the blatant overuse of the word when it comes to blogging makes me want to pull my hair out. And I'm certainly not going to tell you that while your writing needs to be for you before it's for anyone else, you had better damned well be thinking about your audience and your numbers and your popularity and your ability to network with other writers/bloggers/social media innovators to get your name out there for the sake of that Godforsaken platform because we're happy your authentic blog that you write for religiously and maintain just for you because the mere act of sharing your words even if no one else is reading them is cathartic in and of itself but really? Who told you all that shit didn't matter?

It's all very chicken and egg-like. It doesn't matter if our dream is to connect with others in the same place in life (shout out to all the Mommy Bloggers and a big WHAT UP to the Writer Mama's out there!), or if we are trying to keep our heads above water in an ever-rising sea of expectations regarding what we need to have accomplished to be deemed worthy of a book deal (Bump-its come to mind), or if we just want to prove to ourselves that after wrangling the kids all day and looking for that nerve you are pretty sure you just had, we can still string together a sentence for other adults that don't include the words "potty, nigh' night, or Dammit, how many times do I have to tell you not to flash strangers your Hello Kitty panties to strangers in the middle of Target?" A dream is a dream is a dream. It's just up to us to sift through the bullshit on the way, kick any and all irrelevant emotional baggage to the curb (being careful to store away the relevant emotional baggage for later use in the appropriate essays, articles, books, and or blog posts), and decide each and every time we sit down to send our words out into the universe what drew us to do so.

For me? This blog is my personal space which I publicly share. Sometimes I'm snarky, funny, offensive. Others I am introspective, reflective, and revealing. You might not like or appreciate the snark or maybe introspective isn't your thing. And that's okay. I'm not writing for you. I'm writing for me. And if something I say just happens to connect with someone who just happened to stop by on a particular day, that will be enough for me. I wore a mood ring as a child to let the world know without speaking the color of the thoughts I carried within my head. Now, there's an app for that.

So which came first, y'all?

The chicken or the egg? The inspiration to share or the inspiration to influence?

So This is What Productivity Looks Like?

I've been holding out on you. I've been holding out on me, too, but more on that later. First, the stuff you may have actually noticed if you follow me on twitter, stalk me on Facebook, have circled me on G+, or you've stopped by here at least twice while sober: I've been doing a lot less talking and a lot more doing lately. Sure, I still tweet more than most some, but I'm pretty sure that if I could do math, my current percentage of time wasted sending out tweets and status updates into the universe with the hopes of The Agent of My Dreams stumbling across some of it, being blinded by my wit, and throwing a contract in my face JUST BECAUSE versus where it was when I started this whole crazy ride about two years ago? Probably down by at least 942.5%, or thereabouts.

Instead, I'm doing what the real writers do...which is, get this...write! Right?

I stopped tweeting every time Buttercup did something fabulous and got a regular gig with Owning Pink. I chose to focus on my platform instead of planting a Facebook garden and kept the ball rolling at Bookieboo. I reminded myself of my desperate need for a finger monkey instead of getting back on twitter to tell you how I did the first two things and got an official spot on the An Army of Ermas team and then wrote an essay that was accepted for publication in next month's edition of Hippocampus Magazine...

And then?

I got word of another acceptance, wrote another essay that I'm planning on sending out into the world, applied for a book reviewer position with Hippocampus, GOT THE POSITION, and wrote back with an OF COURSE I ACCEPT before I realized what had actually happened. I'll be reviewing non-fiction: memoir and craft books. So if you want to contact me about a potential review, I left plenty of clues in this post for potential stalkers to get in touch with me.

There's dreaming and then there's doing, people. I'm no social media writing expert and I don't play one in my Twitter profile, either, but I will say this...

Doing seems to be a hell of a lot more productive.

Go figure.