Cyber Monday on the Etsy Shop

I had major plans for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on the Etsy shop, but life got in the way, so it's on to Plan B: and that's 25 percent off all prints, notecards, and original art listed (Sorry, commissions are not discounted.) Bonus? I'm running this sale through December 31! 

No, I'm not crazy. I am, however, planning a big move with my family and need to lighten the load. That means one goal is to sell completed art before it's time to load the moving truck! 

Before I share the coupon code with you, I want to show you something I just worked on for my writer friends, Alica. She wanted a few original art pieces with inspirational writer quotes on them to use for postcards she plans to give away at events. After a little bit of back and forth to get the ideas flowing, Alica settled on two quotes (one by me and one she came up with herself). I came up with a few original backgrounds for Alica to choose from, and once she chose her faves, It was time to combine art with inspirational words. That part I did digitally.

What do you think?

This one is mine. The cool part is that with a new background, I can offer a print on my shop and Alica's image is still unique to her! 

This one is mine. The cool part is that with a new background, I can offer a print on my shop and Alica's image is still unique to her! 

Alica came up with the inspirational quote and asked me to create a background to show it off. I am so proud of the final product.  

Alica came up with the inspirational quote and asked me to create a background to show it off. I am so proud of the final product. 

Now that Alica has her digital files (and is already ordering her first set of postcards!) I am working on the next projects. My friend, Heiddi, commissioned a monogram, which I am very excited about. And then there's the two journals I'm hustling to self-publish on Amazon in time for Christmas gift giving. I'll tell you about those soon. For now, though, stop by the Etsy shop for 25 percent off all non-commissioned art with coupon code HAPPYHOLIDAYS. That means that if you haven't had a chance to order Christmas cards yet, you can score Joyful Snowman cards at a sweet discount and get them in time to send out to your friends and family!! 

Happy Cyber Monday! 

 

#ChingonaFest: The Backstory

Photo by Pauline Campos

As a first generation Mexican-American, I was raised to keep my thoughts to myself and put the feelings of La Familia over my own. Considering the emotional baggage I’ve been packing since childhood, I’d say that line of thinking didn’t turn out so well.I’m a mother now and my daughter is feisty and brilliant and wonderful. I want to raise her to be a Chingona the Mexican slang term for “bad ass bitch“. It’s a word steeped in history and controversy (and one you most certainly do not repeat in polite company or within earshot of your tios because Aye, Dios, y'all ), but it’s a word author Sandra Cisneros made a case for  in HBO’s Latino List, and one I've come to embrace. I want my daughter to grow up to be the kind of woman who respects herself and others, stands up for her ideals, and celebrates all that she is without feeling the need to apologize for it. Put in plain English, my end goal is for my girl to grow up to be the kind of woman the word  “bitch” is used as a compliment to describe. A real chingona.But this little chingona of mine isn't going to be the bitchy, self-centered, jerky kind, if I have anything to do with it. Instead, my goal is to raise m'ija to be the kind of hell-raiser that radiates sass, self-confidence, independence, and doesn't take sh*t from anybody...but in a totally respectful way. I want to raise a hell-raiser who is respectful of herself and others, yet stands up for herself and what matters no matter what anyone else thinks.I want my daughter to know she has a voice now and that what she says today matters so that tomorrow she won’t think to look for validation outside of herself. I want her to feel and recognize her own value because it took me far too long to realize there are certain things we can only find within ourselves. I want for her to understand that the village is probably doing something wrong, even with her best intentions guiding our every choice. And I want her to know she can speak her mind, even if what she has to say goes against the culturally accepted norm.So far, I'm pretty certain The Husband and I are on the right track. She's seven and has been proudly mismatching her entire wardrobe since she was two, perfected the side-eye around kindergarten, and has no qualms about telling you what exactly she has on her mind. I don't have solid numbers, but I imagine it's not an every day occurrence for field trip-tears and a mommy/daughter heart-to-heart to result in mami writing her Latina Magazine #Dimelo advice column about the exchange. The odds are probably a lot smaller that said column would result in the  creation of a community and podcast encouraging women to find and embrace the unique power of our voices while encouraging the next generation to do the same.

Through the #chingonafest hashtag and twitter, instagram, and Facebook accounts, I share sassy sayings (They say Chingona like it's a bad thing...) and empowering life-lessons with like-minded Latinas. The #ChingonaFest Fridays feature on Aspiring Mama is your primer to the Latina bad-asses leading and inspiring with their own brand of special -- and lemme tell ya -- there's nothing quite as liberating as finding your tribe and knowing you're not the only one dropping well-placed F-bombs into random conversation while bucking those pesky cultural norms. I'm on week 25 of the weekly feature and am proud of having featured inspiring Latinas such as BlogHer's Elisa Camahort Page and Lori Luna, #365feministselfie founder Veronica Arreola, and Latina Lifestyle Blogger Collective and national conference founder Ana-Lydia Ochoa-Monaco. (To submit nominees for future #ChingonaFest Fridays -- and tossing your own hat in the ring is always encouraged -- just tag me on instagram or Twitter with the hashtag, or simply email me at chingonafest@gmail.com.) And the #ChingonaFest Project Podcast picks up where the Friday blog feature leaves off with plenty more Spanglish sass and interviews with Interesting People, Actual Conversation with fellow #Chingonas, and Interesting Content Very Probably Not Suitable for Sunday Dinners con la Familia.

Of course, this line of thinking is not just meant to empower mothers of daughters. Hell, you don’t have to be a mom to get in on this party, either. If you’ve got sons, you’re raising the boys who will become the men who will love the women our daughters will become. Teach them and guide them on their path and show them why there’s nothing better than a relationship in which both parties are equal partners.

No kids? No problem. You are an aunt, a prima, a friend, teacher, a sister. You are an inspiration and the motivation to work harder and do better and never give up. The next generation is looking to you just as they are looking to the rest of us. That makes you part of my village. If you are the kind of woman who takes BITCH as a compliment, welcome to the party.

(Best of) #ChingonaFest Fridays: Ana-Lydia Ochoa-Monaco

Welcome to WEEK 25 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Ane Romero and  and Veronica Arreola from an Orphaned Earring were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’ featured Chingona is not afraid to say exactly what she’s thinking. And I’m not just saying that. Agree or not, you can’t help but respect the kind of attitude that makes Ana-Lydia Ochoa Monaco a true Chingona. Ochoa Monoca is a blogger and founder of the Latina Lifestyle Blogger’s Collective (and the conference of the same name). Connect with Ochoa Monaco on Twitter and instagram.

So let’s get to that interview!

 

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anaochoamonaco

Ana Lydia Ochoa-Monaco

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Ana- Lydia Monaco: Can I get both…like a soft serve ice-cream…maybe dipped in chocolate and served on a waffle cone?

PC: – Okay there, J.Lo. I’m getting you’d be the diva telling the event managing team handing your concert venue that your dressing room is unacceptable and WHY THE HELL DID THEY NOT REMOVE THE GREEN M&Ms LIKE YOU DEMANDED, YOU PATHETIC LITTLE PEONS, AmIight? No, it’s okay. That  self-satisfied smirk on your face  i kind of a giveaway. What about your favorite quote?

AM: Before I tell you which quote it is, let me tell you how I became aware of it: I was having major problems work many years ago. My boss, using his small brain instead of his big brain, was promoting the laziest and less qualified woman in our team. Being the person I am, I noted his indiscretion and brought it up to HR. I didn’t back down. That helped me gain the trust of my client and the HR team, but major hate from both that woman and my boss. A few days later after venting with a dear friend about this situation, she mailed me a card with a magnet that had this quote printed on it: “Stand by your convictions, even if you’re the last person standing.” That magnet changed my life.

PC: You wave that diva card, Ana. But you should get it laminated if you’re going to be showing it off this often. No, you are welcome. I do it because I care. So, who inspires you?

AM: That’s a hard question to answer because my inspiration comes from many places, people, and the most random situations and things. Like right now. At this very moment I have The Voice playing the background and both my laptop and Princess Maya (my Boston) on my lap. Hearing the passionate voices of regular people pursuing their dreams inspires me. My husband working late while I’m at home pursuing my dreams inspires me to be the best that I can be to make him proud; and to show him that all his hard work is worth it.Having a mother that not only survived stage three cancer, the death of the love of her life (my father), cared for her mother that has Alzheimer’s (my grandma), and has gone through so much to raise four children in an upper middle-class family inspires me. The ocean breeze that wakes me up most mornings, the sound of the waves, the priest in my church, my young college colleagues, the future…all of this, and so much more, inspires me and drives me to do better.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

AM: I dream usually in black and white, but most recently my dreams are literally a

Technicolor rainbow of colors and sounds. Someone told me that the reason my dreams are so vivid is because I am pursuing my actual dreams.

PC: Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

AM: Thank you. Can I have another. :)

PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

AM: Since I don’t biological kids, I hope that my stepdaughters realize that my advice and suggestions were given in the spirit in seeing them reach their full potential.

PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

AM: You are going to hate me when I saw this, but I really despise Spanglish. Now that I got that out of the way, I promise to tell you this if you keep it a secret from my Real Academia Espanola-thumping family: I think in English.

PC: *blinks* I won’t tell anyone. No one reads what I post here anyway, so..um..I think you’re good. Also? I think in English, too. Unless I’m saying “pina colada or Antonio Banderas. Those come out with the accent whether I want them to or not. What’s your favorite dish? Why?

AM: I am proud foodie, and as such I could in no way pick a single dish. Although I can admit to this much: Truffle. Truffle on anything will make even toast and butter taste like the God kissed your tastebuds.

PC: I was wondering how long I was going to have to wait for a reference to Jesus appearing on a piece of toast. *crosses off bucket list* Do you feel “Latina enough”?

AM: My blog is called Cabeza de Coco. A little tongue in cheek reaction to something I have been called many times over: Coconut (Meaning, brown on the outside and white on the inside. Does that make a Latina or not Latina enough? Not sure. But it makes me me.

PC: I’m officially in love with you now. And I totally knew the coconut reference already. I’m married to one and raising another. We might not be “doing” the “being” Mexican enough part right for some people, but I’m pretty sure you’re my spirit animal so I’ll just hsut up now. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

AM: Lick, lick, bite with my lips, and swirl in my mouth to make sure all my tastebuds explode with the yumminess of the ice-cream flavor.

PC: Oh, the SEO on this answer alone is going to be fucking fabulous. One Latina stereotype you despise?

AM: One? Only One? Thats hard. But, I will start with a big secret. As a Mexican-American, the stereotype dictates that I (should) love, breath and die by Mariachi music. As a Tapatia, Mariachi music should be the music to my soul. As me, plain ‘ol Ana Lydia, I feel nada, zip, not a tingle when I hear the stuff. I am not a fan.

PC: I’m not judging.  Also? I hate lengua. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

I will never forget when my my boyfriend (who is now my husband) told me that “Latinas are good wives.” My claws came out. “What do you mean?” I asked, as he listed every single 1950’s housewife stereotype: “They cook, clean, take “care” of their man.” I hate to admit it, but he was right…and it gives me great pleasure to do so.

PC: Are we the same person? Describe your perfect day.

 AM: In a perfect world I would wake up when my body told me to wake-up, not when the alarm buzzed or my husband nudged me to cook for him. We wake up together, shower together, everything we want to wear is found clean and wrinkle-free. I have a good hair day, my skin glows, I have every single make-up color I need and want. My makeup is flawless. My outfit? Perfect and on point. My hubby says I look hot. He looks mighty hot himself. We do everything together: Shop, cook, see a great movie, go to the beach and watch the sunset before heading back home to cuddle on the couch. (p.s. after typing this I realized that a perfect day has nothing to do with work – but has everything to do with my relationship.)

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me ataspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week's reader asks how to handle the relationship she believes is hurting her. Check out my response and let me know what you think! Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun'll come out tomorrow, y'all..

Who likes Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

 

 

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

 

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always.

Together… stronger.

#ChingonaFest Fridays: Ane Romero

It’s WEEK 24 for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, I took a look back at my interview with proud feminist Veronica Arreola  and this week, I'm (hopefully) back on track with a new interview! It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

This week's Featured Chingona is an amazing woman I met at the LATISM conference a few years ago when she spoke on a mental health panel I moderated. She is a nationally recognized and award winning mental health advocate, speaker, and trainer She received her B.A. in Political Science and M.P.A from New Mexico Highlands University, where she served as the first female elected Student Body President and was appointed to the New Mexico Commission on Higher Education. Ane is trained and certified in suicide prevention through the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program and has provided training services for schools, communities, including on the Navajo Reservation. And if that's not enough, An also was crowned Miss New Mexico n 2005, she was crowned Miss New Mexico and competed at the national Miss America Pageant.

Check out Ane's blog and follow her on Twitter!

And on to the interview!

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Ane Romero

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Ane Romero: Caramel. I’d eat a shoe if it was covered in caramel.

PC: And I'll call this proof that beauty queens like food. Hell, I'd eat a shoe covered in caramel. Probably why we get along. Favorite book and why:

AR: Oh, this is tough. I absolutely love books, but if I had to pick one it would be “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” by Henry Miller. It’s a series of short stories and essays about his philosophy on life and a book that I “grow into” as I get older and every time I go back to it I learn something new.

PC: Ya know? I think we need to start a ChingonaFest Book Club. Oprah's had her 15 minutes and ya'll make me want to pick up a new book with these great answers. What's your favorite quote?

AR: Some of my favorite quotes is a line from Vince Lombardi’s “What It Takes To Be Number 1” speech.

“Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.”

To me it’s a reminder that when you do something with good heart, pure intention, and give your all—you will never lose even if you don’t “win.”

PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

AR: If wanting equal opportunity for women (or men) to live, lead, and fulfill their dreams makes me a feminist, then sure I guess I am.

PC: Describe yourself in third person.

AR: Well, in 7th grade my history teacher told my dad that I was a, ”firecracker” after I noted that I did not like the term “minority,” because to me it meant less-than and I was no less than anyone else in the room. Then again I was called this in college when I spoke out against the proposal to raise tuition. Some might say “firecracker,” but I like to think more “fireworks.” J Okay…I don’t think I correctly answered this question?

PC: No you sucked at it and it's beautiful because it's honest. I'm totally smiling now. Who inspires you? Those who have overcome adversity in their life and never give up on their dreams.

AR: Who is it you hope to inspire? I would hope to inspire youth, by letting them know just how important and valuable they are. I don’t think our society does a good job at appreciating young people and what they have to offer. I would also like to inspire others through my work in mental health and help breakdown the negative stigmas that often keep people from seeking help. As my former boss Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, says “there is no health without mental health.”

PC: I agree and this is such an important topic in the Latino community. Let's keep working together on this, yeah? But first, do you dream in color or black and white?

AR: Color and sometimes glitter…

PC: Glitter and caramel and word tangents. I do believe I'm in love with you. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

AR: Let’s be friends and do you have Instagram" (because you know any Chingona has a great Instagram).

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

AR: The depiction of Latinas has come a long way, but we still have much more to overcome. The day we have a Latina version of Olivia Pope or with a role as the President of the United States, then I will really feel like we have arrived.

PC: Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

AR: Empathy. I would want them to know that this quality will enable them to see the beauty in others and with that will follow an appreciation and respect for life.

PC: I think I'd like your kids. One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

AR: The car broke down and so my mom had no other choice, but to carry me in the snow to the babysitter. As I wrapped my tiny arms around her neck I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of pride and love. My mom has and always makes the impossible possible.

PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

AR: I think in “feelings,” if that makes sense? I always try to be conscious of my words, but sometimes nothing really captures the meaning like Spanish. I mean, try translating Mana’s song, “Vivir sin Aire” in English and all the umph just totally goes out the window, but in Spanish it’s a pure masterpiece.

PC: Kind of like "Sana, Sana Colita de Rana" makes no damned sense in English but in Spanish it's all MY BOOBOO STOPPED HURTING MAMA! Right?  What's your favorite dish? Why?

AR: My favorite food is a hot dog with mustard, but my favorite dish is fried papas (potatoes) with thinly sliced onions and red New Mexican chile. I love this dish because whenever I eat it, I know I’m home.

PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?

AR: This is hard to answer, because I have never been anything other than Latina. Our culture has so many facets that you can’t just lump it all into one mix. I think that too many times there is this assumption of what “being Latino” is, but none of us who are Latino will ever fit neatly into a “box.” We are linked by a common thread, but I believe the intricacy of our culture is what really makes us who we are. So at the end of the day, I would say yes...even if there is so much more for me to learn.

PC: Wow. Ok, so Ane wins the Internet with that answer. Love it! You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

AR: My great-grandmother Ane, whom I am named after. We would eat ribs from Silky O’Sullivans. I first tried these ribs on a trip to Memhis, TN and they were so delicious I literally got teary eyed. I would probably pair them with Capuline wine (choke cherry wine) and apple pie made from the apples in her orchard. I never got to meet her, but any time someone talks about her their face lights up. She use to play the harmonica and loved music. She and my great-grandfather built their house with their own two hands, which still stands today. She was independent, strong willed, admired, and respected. Being named after her, I have always felt a sense of responsibility to live a life that would make her proud to carry on her name.

PC: I want in on this meal. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

AR: Hmm…I never really gave thought about it. Probably because if and when I do eat ice cream it’s usually annihilated in seconds.

PC: Especially if served in a shoe covered in caramel. One Latina stereotype you despise?

AR: All of them. Being from New Mexico I can’t tell you the absurd things I have heard whenever I travel elsewhere. The top one being, “what part of Mexico are you from.” The look of confusion on some faces when you note that New Mexico is a state is always classic. I once had to literally show a clerk where New Mexico was on a map, because she said the store could not accept “foreign” driver licenses as proof of ID. She called her manager, who immediately apologized to me. I laughed so hard I cried. J

PC: So I was in the the fourth grade when I realized New Mexico was part of the United States during a social studies report and I was SO mad. I'm still getting over it. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

AR: That we are all “great cooks.” I can’t cook to save my life, but if others assume that I can because I’m Latina, well then who am I to ruin their dream?

PC: Describe your perfect day.

AR: May 30, 2015. That is when I get married, so it doesn’t get much better than being surrounded by all the people you love…and cake. Oh how I LOVE cake!

PC: Is it caramel? And where's my invite? *winks*

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know if she is aiming high enough with her dreams.

Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always.

Together… stronger.

(The Best of) #ChingonaFest Fridays: Veronica Arreola

 

It’s WEEK 23 for the Aspiring Mama #Chingonafest Fridays. Last week, I took a look back at my interview with Dr. Helen Troncoso and it was fabulous. Today, the Fabulous continues with proud feminist Veronica Arreola sitting in the hot seat once again. (And yes, for those of you who are actually PAYING ATTENTION, I backdated this post cuz FRIDAY but obviously it is NOT Friday. This is called Full Disclosure and probably has something to do with Using My Authentic Voice. You're Welcome.)

It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Veronica is a a force to be reckoned with. By day, she runs a women in science & engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Research on Women and Gender and by night she’s a PhD student in Public Administration. I’m assuming that means she earned her veteran blogger stripes (and became a social media addict while doing the public speaking thing) when she should have been sleeping. Oh, and that #365feministselfie thing the entire internet is talking about? Yeah, Veronica founded that, too.(Of course, I’m posting the daily selfies because I like words that start with the letter “F”.)

And on to the interview!

 

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Veronica Arreola

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Veronica Arreola: Vanilla bean.

 

 

PC: So you’re a rebel and don’t like boxes, then. *nods head* Can you tell me what favorite book is and why?

 

 VA: This is like asking me to choose my favorite child! Oh wait, I only have one. Damn…still, you can’t ask a bookworm this.

 

 

PC: I should have seen that one coming. Okay, let’s go three for three. What’s your favorite quote?

 

VA:  “Our struggle today is not to have a female Einstein get appointed as an assistant professor. It is for a woman schlemiel to get as quickly promoted as a male schlemiel.” Bella Abzug

 

 

PC: Alrighty then. Um, and now for the obvious. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

 

VA: OF COURSE!

 

 

PC: Good. You had me worried there for a minute. Let’s talk about who you hope to inspire.

 

VA: My daughter. She is everything that I had hoped to have as a daughter. Smart, witty, strong, athletic, caring and with an eye on justice. It is an honor to be her mom. Watch out world!

 

 

PC: Sweet. When she’s old enough to say Chingona without getting grounded, send her my way, will ya? But back to you…do you dream in color or black and white?

 

VA: Technicolor. When I was a kid, I often got dreams and real life mixed up. I’d swear things happened and my mom would have to explain that I dreamt it.

 

 

PC: Why am I not surprised? Okay, so, let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

 

VA: VIVA!

 

 

 

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

 

VA:  Hijole! The sad thing is that I think of the awful representations first. SNL’s Cecily Strong’s continuing to play the ditzy Latina, Sofía Vergara’s Gloria on “Modern Family” is like a Latina Peg Bundy without Peg’s sharp wit and then there’s a new Latina character on “The Walking Dead” who looks to be drawn by a 13-year-old boy. ENOUGH! But then we go to the news part of the media and we see Latinas like Maria Hinojosa and Soledad O’Brien, who show our intelligent side. Thank goodness for America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson making movies with strong and intelligent Latina characters..or at least not a stereotype of a Latina which the rest of us have to dispel over and over.

 

 

PC: hmm..I see your point, but I also loved Peg Bundy. But it was probably the sharp wit thing. Anyway, NEXT! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

 

VA: To keep exploring the world.

 

 

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

 

VA: Hard to choose just one! Why do you do this to me, Pauline? OK, so my dad always had pick up trucks when we were kids. I loved riding in the back, especially when he didn’t have a cap on the back. It was heaven. I vividly remember my girlfriends & I tagging along while he want to the auto-part store. We piled in with my boombox, turned up the music and sang all the way there and back.

 

 

PC: Oh that makes me think of my Guelo’s station wagon and the seats that flipped up and telephone poles with signs with phone numbers for the “Yunk Yard.” *sighs wistfully* Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

 

VA: English

 

 

PC: Yeah, unless I’m drunk (and I mean like College Frat Party levels), I think in English, too. So what’s your favorite dish? Why?

 

VA: Cheese enchiladas con mole. My mom use to make the best enchiladas. When I moved out of my parents’ home, I started my now 20+ years of trying to replicate her recipe. No canned mole for my mom’s enchiladas. And since she died 11 years ago, my quest for that perfect recipe so my daughter has the same memories keeps me going. BTW – Anyone know where I can get some California Chile powder?

 

 

PC: Going out on a limb here, but California sounds like a good place to look. What? The door..it was RIGHT THERE. You can glare at me later. For now, I wanna know if you feel “Latina enough”?

 

VA: Not really.

 

 

PC: WHAT? You so NO and leave us hanging? That was just mean. Let’s see what you do with this one: Describe your perfect day.

 

VA: A warm day, full of sunshine, cool breeze, then climbing up a tree. I’ll find a comfy nook, then settle in to read a good book. These perfect days happened almost every day when I was a kid. Now I substitute biking to a park with my family. Still toting a book along.

HT: That we’re family orientated.

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know if her husband's lack of sexual desire for her means he's cheating on her.  Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always.

Together… stronger.

ChingonaFest Fridays: Helen Troncoso (Take 2)

Welcome to WEEK 22 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring MamaIf you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. (Well, if you’re my tia, not really, but hypothetically speaking. Unless, of course, you’re one of the tias I no longer speak to then YES but AWKWARD and MOVING ON…) If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Basically, I know you love me cuz ya tell me all the time. See how that works?

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Jessica Mazone and Heiddi Zalamar  were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

This week, I'm doing a little throwback to my week 4 Featured Chingona, my good friend Helen Troncoso, because girlfrfiend just had a birthday and gotta show some love, right?  Troncoso, who is a doctor and title-holding beauty queen, has her heels firmly dug into the feminist camp. Helen has been featured pretty much everywhere (including Latina Magazine as a Top Ten Health & Fitness Blogger) Her most recent endeavor is as co-host of a new show,“El Bien Estar del Hogar con Casa Latina”, on V-me TV, the first national Spanish-language network to partner with American public television, and the fourth largest Spanish network in the United States. This show will follow Helen as she will work with women to transform their health and lives. Catch up with Helen on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and check out her site for some healthy motivation.

 

And now! Time for the interview!

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Dr. Helen Troncoso

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Helen Troncoso: I'm not a big ice cream fan, but when I indulge I'd rather go for something more fun like butter pecan.

PC: Okay then... *pushes The Box Helen Doesn't Like to Be Put In to the side*. Let's try this one...What's your favorite quote?

HT: "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream" by C.S. Lewis. I found that many times we as women tend to get caught up in other people's dreams and forget about the ones we made, for the good of the family or the relationship. In my case, I totally reinvented my life and health just 4 short years ago. To make a long story short, I left an abusive relationship, broken engagement and had to move to a new state and start all over. I was scared sh**less, and yes there were lots of times when I didn't want to get out of bed, but I did it.

PC: Starting over can be a huge pain in the ass. Go You for making it happen. Do you consider yourself a feminist?

HT: Feminism is defined as, "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities."  I know some may not consider a woman who has done beauty contests a "feminist" but I do! Beyond equal rights, I believe a woman should have the right to choose what's right for her life. Feminism is not a, "zero sum game" as Nancy Redd once said. It's not about having to look or act a certain way so that other people can feel comfortable labeling you. We have certainly made strides as women in many different fields, but, it's no surprise that we still have leaps and bounds to go. Whenever I talk to young women, I always tell them to support their fellow sisters. We have so many other people coming down on us, that we need to stop the attacks and division amongst us. How are we supposed to tell women "si se puede" when our own words and actions don't reflect that.

PC: Yes, people will bitch because that's what people like to do. I, for one, am all for going against the grain. Feminist Beauty Queen? Why not? Now, describe yourself in third person.

HT: Helen is probably the most determined and hard-working person you will ever meet. She's also one of the most sensitive women ever. She's a dreamer and a doer who completely reinvented herself and is fearlessly living the life she always imagined.

PC: You said "probably". I say "Definitely". Who inspires you?

HT: All of those women who fearlessly continue to go after their dreams, no matter how many times they may have failed, or how crazy their ideas may seem.

PC: I'm a fucking mess, which -- if you connect the dots inside my head -- means I inspire you. This is where you lie to me if I'm wrong.  Everybody else does. So, who is it you hope to inspire?

HT: Any woman who feels like she may have gotten off track and wonders if her dreams can really come true. Women who can't recognize who's staring back at them in the mirror. I'm there to tell them sometimes God's rejection is blessed redirection.

PC: Redirection is a good thing. Do you dream in color or black and white?

HT: I don't dream often, but occasionally I do dream like what can best be described as a black and white film.

PC: I like black & white. Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...

HT: Pa'que tu lo sepas!

PC: Orale, mujer! How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

HT:I don't think we're represented correctly, but I think that applies to all women. I don't thinker should bash Sofia Vergara (who is actually an amazing business woman) or think to be successful you have to be just like Sonia Sotomayor. We have enough labels and boxes people (our families) put us in, that we need to stop doing it to one another as women. If we want how we're represented in the media to change, then we need to do more than get mad for a few moments and then forget about it.

PC: You're damned right about that. One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

HT: My dad is truly my best friend, and I don't ever take for granted our relationship. I grew up knowing that I was loved, and that I could do anything, and he would always be there right by my side.

PC: I love hearing that. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

HT: All of the above. English is definitely my dominant language, but I'm finding myself speaking Spanish more so nowadays. It's all good! If I'm tired or you're a good friend and you won't judge me, you'll probably hear my crazy Spanglish.

PC: Is there any other kind of Spanglish? Exactly. Now, what's your favorite dish? Why?

HT: Pollo guisado. To this day there is not one restaurant, or another person that can make it as good as my mom! It's the ultimate comfort food.

PC: *Sigh* I miss my mom's homemade flour tortillas. Do you feel "Latina enough"?

HT: I think I've come full circle. I grew up in Long Island, and went to high school where I could count on one hand the number of Latinas. My "Latino" experience was limited to my family members. It wasn't until years later that I began to understand how amazing being a Latina was! It's not about speaking Spanish (although that's important to me), nor is it the color of our skin. It is about our culture and traditions and the intangible things that make us Latinas.

PC: *Nods head* One Latina stereotype you despise?

HT: That we have tons of children out of wedlock. Hello! No kids, and if that's how the Universe wants it, not having them until someone puts a ring on this finger.

PC: I'll let Beyonce know. Last one! One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

HT: That we're family orientated.

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me ataspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to make the boy she likes realize she exists…. Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun'll come out tomorrow, y'all.

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all..

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And stay tuned. The weekly #Chingonafest twitter party and podcast will be resuming soon!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always. Together… stronger.

ChingonaFest Fridays: Jessica Mazone

Welcome to WEEK 21 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. (Well, if you’re my tia, not really, but hypothetically speaking. Unless, of course, you’re one of the tias I no longer speak to then YES but AWKWARD and MOVING ON…) If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does. Basically, I know you love me cuz ya tell me all the time. See how that works?

It's also important for me to mention the Chingonafest podcast Patreon Fundraising page. Think Kickstarter but for writers and you've got the basic idea. In order to get the podcast going on a regular basis, I need your help. With a minimum commitment of $1 per episode, you can help move our community to a a whole new level. Feel important yet? 'Cuz you are.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Writer and New York therapist Heiddi Zalamar and Ana-Lydia Ochoa- Monaco from Latina Lifestyle Bloggers Collective  were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’ featured Chingona is the talented woman behind Tejana Made Designs. She owes me a bitchin' hand-tooled leather cuff because we've been talking about one forEVER, but I'll let that slide for now and focus on why she's fabulous.

For starters, stop by her blog and read her latest post because she's talking about depression and divorce and pulling herself from out of the gutter that many in our culture pretend doesn't exist. Hats off to Mazone for speaking up on these important topics. Eventually, Jessica and I will get off our respective asses and officially release an official #ChingonaFest line of leather cuffs, but for now, we will just put the pipe dreams back on the backburner and get to that interview, shall we?

(Don't forget to check out the Tejana Made Etsy shop and follow Tejana Made Designs on twitter!

 

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Photo courtesy of www.tejenamade.com

#Chingonafest Project Interview Questions

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Jessica Mazone: Chocolate because it's a girls best friend

PC: This is why we are friends. Favorite book and why:

JM: Ooh...This is a tough one. I am a huge speculative fiction fan so I'm going to with Ink by fellow Latina Sabrina Vourvoulias. It is an exceptional book that discusses immigration, segregation, and rebellion in a Cybertech world. Plus, she has plenty of badass Chingona characters who have to save themselves.

PC: I think you need to assign my reading list, Ms. Mazone. What's your favorite quote?

JM: Right now...it's what my mom told me when we were discussing the Chingona cuff. I asked her if anyone had ever used that term in a derogatory way towards her. She said that it happens often  but she always answers the following way:

No creo....soy Chingona.

I am always answering this way from now on.

(I don't think...I *am* Chingona).

PC: Okay so this is probably an obvious question now but, do you consider yourself a feminist?

JM: Yes.

PC: I'd have bitch-slapped you had you responded with a no at this point. Describe yourself in third person.

JM: Opinionated, artistic, maker of leather things, and lover of embroidered cowboy boots

PC: Not really third person but I'm a week late publishing this 0ne so we will call it a draw. Who inspires you?

JM: The wonderful network of women I have met working online. Each and every one of them inspires and motivates me to be a better version of myself as cliche as that sounds. Even when I want to give up, they are there. A text or a phone call away to bounce ideas or just vent.

PC: Let's start a Chingonafest Textline. Cuz phone calls are just so..all-encompassing, right? But we can discuss that later. For now, who is it you hope to inspire?

JM: Students in the rural town I grew up in. I want them to know that the poverty we face there isn't permanent and that we are the key to reviving our communities. We have the tools at our fingertips and all we need is the desire.

PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?

JM: Color because it's more fun.

PC: And you say that like it's a choice. Interesting....,Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?

JM: Fearless

PC: How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?

JM: I honestly believe that we need to relinquish the idea that one Latina can represent the meridian of Latina subsets in our culture. Even though we may have Spanish to unify us, it's regional dialects and cultural nuances are what makes being Latina so beautiful.

As a pretty assimilated Latina, I would like to see more characters who happen to be Latino instead of Latino being the character. Does that make sense?

PC: Hell yes, that makes sense. I've got that novel I'm working on. Maybe you need to be my writing coach and threaten me with bodily harm after I hit publish here. Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they've grown and flown the nest...

JM: Don't be afraid to go against the norm. It's not about pleasing me but finding out what your strengths and weaknesses are and utilizing them to create the career you want.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...

JM: I lived on a ranch for most of my childhood and teen years so bonfires were one of those things we always did. We would sit in front of mesquite fueled fires that filled the air with a sweet stench that permeated your clothes and hair. We talked about our dreams, ff escape, of lost loved ones, and broken hearts. I actually miss it sometimes.

PC: Dude. I'm allergic to your childhood. Keep the mesquite the fuck away from me. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I'm just allergic to being Mexican. *glances up at the heavens* (Sorry, Guela!) But forget me. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish, Jess?

JM: English and Spanglish

PC *blinks*: Isn't that the same as Spanglish? No, don't answer that. What's your favorite dish? Why?

JM: Kung Pao Chicken. I don't get to eat it very often but I have this strange love affair with Asian  food... especially takeout.

PC: Are you kidding? I'm pretty sure the Chinese place we ordered from when I was a kid played did a Mexican hat dance every time we called with an order big enough to feed 20 of us from my sisters to my tios and cousins. Mexicans can put down some eggrolls, amiRIGHT? Anyway, do you feel "Latina enough"?

JM: Hell no. I don't speak perfect Spanish. I say y'all often. I would dare to say I'm too Pocho to be Latina. This break in my identity is what forced me to fully embrace my unique Texas Mexican...ahem Tejano upbringing.

I grew up as a ranchero, a vaquero, a cowgirl if you will. Complete with blingy butt jeans.

PC: Gimme a sec...

*Looks up "Pocho"*

*Laughs because this is about the time Jess is wondering why the hell her phone is asking her what Pocho means*

Girl, I'm not even a Tejana and I say y'all like it's going out of style. As for the blingy butt jeans, well...it's okay. We all have phases like that we'd like to forget. Although I'm going to go out on a limb and say that blingy butt jeans will never be as bad a fashion choice as sequenced Uggs on anyone over the age of 10. As for not feeling Latina enough...here's an eggroll. That should help.

You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

JM: Gloria Anzaldua, the author of La Frontera/Borderlands. She is an iconic Texas Feminist writer. Her words made me realize that it was okay for me to feel divided as a Mexican American.

For dinner we would eat some good old fashioned Ranch cooking. Cabrito Guisada, Tripas, and of course Mesquite smoked Fajitas with Fresh tortillas and aguacate con Chile Picin. I don't drink wine so an ice cold Budweiser would have to do.

PC: I'm both hungry and allergic to your answer. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

JM: I live in South Texas so ice cream meets a rapid death and most times I'm slurping it like an amazing chocolate soup

PC: I lived in Tucson for four years. I chewed my ice cream then, too, but I think that just makes me weird. One Latina stereotype you despise?

JM: The Virgen and the Malinche paradox. Essentially, it breaks down to the Virgin and the Whore and feeds the one-dimensional characteristics of the Fiery Latina sexpot. I'm tired of non-Latino men ask me if I'm a good cook and if its true that Latina women are there to serve. Apparently, I have to be a great lover, an exceptional cook, and look like a Salma Hayek/Sophia Vergara hybrid. No mama, that's just too much work.

PC: You got that right, sister, One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

JM: Strength. We have a silent strength that binds our families together and in my family it was the matriarchs who were the glue, the center, the sun.

PC: Describe your perfect day.

JM: Spending the day on a wrap around porch with a good book.

PC: Sounds beautiful. Any eggrolls left?

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me here or here with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice Column on Latina Magazine. This week’s reader wants to know how to make the boy she likes realize she exists.... Also, be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

Who likes Pretty Pictures? Check out my #chingonafest (and my non-hashtagged stuff, too) on my newly renamed Etsy Shop at Pauline Campos Studios. and have And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and  more art available on Society6. More designs and products coming soon!

 

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y'ALL!

Oh, and TUMBLR, Y’ALL!

Follow me and validate my existence.

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter! And be sure to join me on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. EST for the weekly #Chingonafest twitter party. (I’ll get back to you on the podcast soon!)

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page!

Forward, always. Together… stronger.

Rinse. Lather.

Repeat.

The Pinterest Complex (Revisited)

I've had one hell of a week and it's only Wednesday so I'm taking the easy way out today by reposting something I wrote in January.

Fine Print: Yes, The Husband is completely aware of the fact that I used the words "Sex", "Penis", and "Pinterest" in the same blog post. He even snickered and said I may need to consider therapy after reading it. See you soon for #ChingonaFest Fridays!

What does one buy her husband to make up for the general craziness of the writing/blogging/freelancing life putting the sex life on the back burner when Important Things Are Happening that Must Be Attended to Right This Minute? I’m thinking the man-equivalent to Something Shiny and Sparkly.

Don’t say a Ferrari. I’m freelancing. That Writer-Speak for “Looks Good On Paper Only” with “Fucking Broke” understood to be the most accepted translation. Besides, it’s not like I came home smelling like another man’s cologne or something. That, my friends, would require what normal people tend to refer to as “Free Time”.  I have been told this “Free Time” is something one can only find outside of The Internet and requires the separation, if only temporary, mind you, of self and laptop. Always interesting, this learning about the habits of the Non-Writer.

The other night, after a frantic nod to, um, Quality Time, (and a “Was That Good For You? Yes? Good!,” exchange as I bolted out of the room and into my email to reply to a revision request from my editor, I realized I’m married to a saint. I mean, I knew that before Oh Husband Whom I Know is Reading These Words, but sometimes, the little Aha! Moments tend to jump out and say You Have No Idea How Difficult You Are to Live With Sometimes and Why is Pinterest Giving His Penis a Complex?

Let’s discuss, shall we? Or would it be easier to just get a calendar and a Sharpie and circle the other days of the month indicating:

  • Deadlines
  • Twitter parties
  • Sherlock
  • That blog post I REALLY need to write about that thing that just went viral that I’ll go to my grave swearing a tiny part of me wasn’t convinced my brilliant response would go viral, too
  • General stabbiness because ten different bloggers TOLD me I’m a much better writer than that two-bit hack that went viral only because she got lucky (after I asked them, of course)
  • My fictional characters in that novel I’m writing just acted out the next scene inside my head I have to write RIGHT now or I lose it all
  • The kid drove me nuts all day
  • PINTEREST
  • Live-tweeting Downton Abby
  • I got in a phone fight with his mom
  • I got in a phone fight with my mom
  • We’re out of chocolate
  • We’re out of wine
  • We’re out of chocolate-flavored wine
  • The hours I need to comb through blog archives in search of THE PERFECT PIECE of literary wit to submit to –
  • A) Listen To Your Mother
  • B) Blogher Voices of the Year
  • That Facebook quiz I need to take to figure out what character I’m most like in Harry Potter, which leads me to the one about what kind of French cheese I am
  • The dishes in the sink that aren’t gonna do themselves
  • The fifteenth online book launch party this month for yet another friend I can’t let down
  • The twitter argument I have to finish with this idiot who has no fucking clue who they’re messing with
  • The planets are out of alignment
  • Mercury is in retrograde …. Again
  • File another invoice while secretly cursing the chick with the 300 Sandwiches and the book deal
  • I’m busy buying 19 more URL’s for ideas I’ll never get to…just in case
  • Frantic text conversations with the online friends I’ve yet to meet in person discussing Important Things like how many pairs of shoes to pack for that conference none of us have actually purchased tickets for yet
  • My 1,000 word goal for the day is still 989 words short
  • The NEED to Google my blog Alexa rank RIGHT NOW even though I still have no idea what it means
  • Which, obviously, is to be followed up by checking my Klout score
  • *Googling “Does Klout Matter to People who don’t think in 140?
  • I haven’t yet taken 30 selfies from different angles, narrowed it down to the perfect one, and thought up a witty caption for that #365feministselfie thing and posted it EVERYWHERE before I even THINK of getting naked
  • That important email I’m waiting for that will show up right now if I keep hitting refresh
  • The conference call I’m waiting on in east coast time with everybody else in west coast time
  • The kid drove me nuts all day & we’re out of chocolate-flavored wine
  • The writing and scheduling of next week’s blog posts
  • When I was frisky while he was at work and I was home alone and I took care of it myself already because I was being proactive and really should be congratulated for thinking ahead to free up my night to …
  • Pick any of the above

Damn. Poor guy puts up with a lot, doesn’t he?

We writers are a special bunch. And the people who are nuts enough to love us deserve their own reality shows, I think. Because when we make it big? That’s when we make it up to them and they can proudly tell the world they knew marrying the crazy lady would totally pay off in the end.

Just let me finish up this chapter so I can write this blog post and hit Publish because dammit, this one’s gonna go viral.

I just know it.

 

That Time I Referred to Rick Najera as Motivational and Not an Asshole

  ricknajera

And when I say traveled, I mean four hours driving from my home to Portland, Maine, for the hotel that happens to be located right by the Amtrak depot, an overnight stay at said hotel, two hours on a bus the next morning, and then six on a train into Penn Station. Eliana travels with me. Score for Team Crazy Mexican Homeschooling! Kiddo was so excited to see the New York City skyline it made me a bit teary to think about packing up for the Land of Moose and Snow, but turns out we both love living in the Maine tundra as much as we love our little forays into Places Normal People Live. So it all works out in the end.

We had just arrived at Penn Station. How warm is it, she wanted to know. So I told her. 50 degrees. Back home it was was 27 and look like the tundra. After looking around a bit, maybe weighing her options, she made up her mind. Mom, she says, do you mind if I take off my fuzzy sweater? I answered by taking off my own.  While we exchanged sly smiles at the New Yorkers rushing by bundled in their winter layers, because we left winter in the back of my Yukon which was parked in the hotel lot back in Portland. All we brought with us? A fleece pullover and a spring rain trench.  'Cuz we're hard core, that's why.

The only SNAFU occurred when my original babysitting plan went out the window because that's just how shit works. Instead of a relatively easy drop-off in the Bronx, Eliana and I ended up taking a train to upstate NY to meet a Wendy DelMonte, my forever friend whom I now owe a pony, who drove an hour and a half south from Connecticut to pick up Eliana for the night. My child had the time of her life because Wendy and her kids are fabulous and that two-minutes I had on the platform before jumping in the return train for the hour-and-a-half ride back so I could haul ass yet again to my hotel to drop off my Too Much Luggage, shower off the travel stink, and change just in time to get lost on the way to the venue and show up an hour late?  Yeah...those two minutes may be the only time I actually breathed that day.

Meet Dennis Sanchez, the genius behind MVM Events. He's the lucky guy smack in the middle between me and the only white chick in the room. That's Sarah Fader and I think it's important to note we became friends because I saw an update about Three Year Olds being Assholes and was all It's Like you KNOW Me and this is probably also a good time to mention that she'll tell you she's Jewish and that isn't the same thing as white.  I'm not disagreeing. I'm only stating that it wasn't the Not White chick's face I had to work my ass off to make visible while editing this photo.  Also? You can step away from the tanning bed now, Dennis.  You're *welcome*.

photo(8)

This girl is hereby nominated as President of Any Fan Club Ever Created in My Honor Should I Become Important Enough for One. Her name is Joyce and you should follow her on twitter and instagram (@hvnlee) because I just made her important.  And yes, thanks, my therapist says I'm making major strides on that self-confidence thing.

I spoke. Dennis spoke. Rick spoke. And after calling Rick a motivational asshole and only stuttering three times, there was much merriment at the after party (I drank water because allergies suck), and then I went back to the Hotel from Hell to not sleep because security couldn't figure out the door I was pointing to was actually mine when I called about my key not working. I woke up at 2 p.m. after going to bef at 5 a.m. and suddenly it was time to drag my Too Much Luggage back to the subway and the train for the hour-and-a-half ride to upstate NY to meet Wendy and pick up Eliana just in time to go back the way we came, hop another bazillion subway trains once in the city, and make our way to the Bronx to meet up with another friend for the rest of our stay.

So many subway stops. So many flights of stairs to drag my Too Much Luggage up to catch the next train. My Jawbone Up band tells me I clocked an average of 23k steps per day while in NC. But this?

And these guys? They all made me want to plan a trip devoted to interviewing the subway artists and performers. There are so many stories to tell.

Eventually we made it to the Bronx. My friend Heiddi was worried I'd be worried because Bronx and Perception. I smiled. Then I reminded her I might *live* in Maine but I'm *from* Detroit.

A surprise planned for the next day meant pulling out the stick on nails I had brought home from BlogHer 13 and Eliana had saved for a special occasion. Girlfriend was all kinds of proud of these nails -- which, by the way -- she made sure every person on every train *knew* she was wearing fake nails because she was fancy.

We hustled from train to train to take our kids to a surprise involving The Story Pirates and were delayed when these guys swarmed my kid. So I took a picture. Then the minion pointed to his necklace which says "Tips".  Heiddi said this is why she doesn't stop for these idiots. The minion stopped pointing to his necklace after I pointed out they may wanna reconsider baiting the impressionable children of bitchy mothers until they've collected the requisite cash from said bitch mom.  Heiddi nodded. Detroit, right?  Detroit, born and bred.

This is, obviously, a first-grader. At least, that's what they script says. The Story Pirates were worth the throwdown with Strawberry Shortcake. We will be returning.

A stop at Jennifer Esposito's gluten-free bakery was in order. I bought what I can't eat because I'm allergic to ALL the Things, but even the non-gluten free were impressed. Also? Thank you to Victoria for hiding my iPhone until I frantically returned in search of my sanity. Jennifer? Victoria totally gets a raise.  Victoria? *You're Welcome*.

photo 3(1)

photo 5(3)

Leaving New York for upstate for our final stop and New York wins. She gave up naps at 15 months. I may have to move. Or at least visit regularly.

CameraAwesomePhoto(4)

Because my life is a sitcom without the laugh track.  11:00 p.m. and still 100 miles from home after various stops for eating and car sickness and more eating because throwing up left her hungry but eating made her car sick again.  Then of course, there was Starbucks two hours ago because Obviously and me not making her go potty and the child with the bladder of a camel decides she must pee and she must pee NOW. She told me to pull over. In the middle of a deserted freeway where moose and Random Wildlife live, because she wasn't kidding.  I'll squat, she said. She didn't, I observed.  We changed her, bagged up her wet clothes, and as settled back in to drive. Just as my own bladder reminded me that I'd knocked back two trenta green teas and maybe I should consider squatting.  I opted for getting the hell out of whatever scene Stephen King was writing before the evil clowns showed up and held it until we got to the only rest stop between nowhere and home.

And now we are home and slowly getting back on track and there is much snow and no subways and I'm firing my dogs for not noticing the herd of deer leaping through the backyard as they circled for a spot to do their thing. Also, stick around if you're new. That #mexicaninmaine hashtag will start to make a lot more sense.

The End.

***

UPDATE!!!

I forgot to mention that Rick sent me home with three copies of his book, Almost White: Forced Confessions of a Latino in Hollywood. One is mine, so step off and we can still be friends.

The second I gave to Ana Roca-Castro because I know Latism stands for all that Rick discusses in his book. I can't wait to hear what she thinks.

The last, y'all, I saved for you. Or...well, one of you, at least.

Picture Proof that I actually HAVE the book in my possession. The line for My New Best Friend forms *here*.

Rick Najera's autograph. Related: My favorite things are Starbucks Iced Green Teas, ponies, and MAC Russian red lipstick. Priority consideration will be focused on those who try to buy my love. *Nods head*

To enter for your chance at the book, here's the not-so-fine-print:

* First let's make sure everyone knows I am incapable of kissing ass so a free book isn't going to buy anyone a flowing review. If I don't like it, I'm simply not going to mention it. End. Of. Story.

* The rules:

**Leave a comment on this post. It can be anything as long as anything includes your email so I can contact you if you win. Bonus points if your comment actually pertains to the discussion at hand. Giving a damn is always nice.

** Share the following on your social media channels and leave me a separate comment for each share with the URL:

Check out this post by @pauline_campos: Enter to win an autographed copy of  by  

** Deadline is midnight, EST, April 22.

And that's it. I'm excited to share this book with all of you and am live-tweeting quotes as I read a chapter each night. Which means that yes, I love #AlmostWhite.

So...who's in?

 

Robin O'Bryant and Ketchup is a Vegetable

  Robin O'Bryant

Back in November of 2011, I had the honor of pimpin' one of my favorite writer friend's new self-published book to you guys. The writer was a sweet and sassy mom writer I had connected with (and fallen in LOVE with) on twitter named Robin O'Bryant and the book was none other than Ketchup is a Vegetable (And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves).

I shared a book excerpt and a hilarious interview here on Aspiring Mama and then I stood back, grabbed a pen, and took some notes as I watched Robin show the world how self-publishing should be done. (I'll give you a hint: New York Times Bestseller List and a two book deal.)

But I'll let Robin tell you the rest. Just make sure to stick around for the entire post because Book Giveaway and SIGNED COPY, y'all. That's why.

You're Welcome.

***

9781250054142

 

 

Pauline Campos: Let's just hit the ground running here, Robin. Exactly how many kinds of awesome are you?

Robin O'Bryant: I think maybe one shade, because I'm really excellent at doing nothing and being more than one shade seems like it'd be a lot of work. Right now, I'm trying to decide if I have the energy to read or if I'm just going to watch Netflix and drool.

 PC: I like the second option. But we can talk about movies later. I wanna know if I can be you when I grow up. You started with an an idea for a book that got you your agent, self-syndicated a very popular (and utterly hilarious) column, self-published Ketchup is a Vegetable, worked your ass off to make it to the New York Times bestsellers list, and earned a two-book deal for Ketchup and the forth-coming Are You There God? It's Me, Mommy-- all in a -- what is it now? -- four year's time span?

RO: Yep. I keep track because my youngest daughter was 1 when I started and is 5 now! It's been a whirlwind. 

PC: And somehow, with all of that husslin', you somehow managed to feed, clothe, and interact with your children, not alienate your non-writer friends, and your husband is still speaking to you? Not to outshine the major book drop news but exactly how does one replicate this? (I'm asking for a friend.)

RO: I answer a lot of those questions in "Are You There God?"-- it wasn't easy or effortless. I spent a lot of time feeling like a terrible wife and mother. But I'd say the short answer is: Jesus, Zoloft, therapy, yoga and a group of friends you wouldn't believe existed. 

 PC: I know you're a Christian woman and grace is a Big Thing for nice folks like you who don't drop F-bombs like drunken sailors *coughs* but I'm imaging Toby Keith's How Do You Like Me Now is on repeat in your writing playlist, like, ALLTHETIME. And before you answer, know that I'll be slightly less crushed if you say no than I was when I learned that reality TV is actually scripted.

RO: This is another thing I talk about in "Are You There God?"! I am a Christian but I cuss like a sailor in real life. For me, in my own writing, curse words seem to take away from my message. I just can't do it on the page, it distorts my voice. You should have seen all the words my beta reader took out of the next book! 

 I don't like Toby Keith's music-- I'm Southern but not that kind of Southern. But I definitely have moments when I feel like screaming, "IN YOUR FACE WORLD!! YOU SAID I COULDN'T DO IT AND I DID!"

 When I was first starting out I sent a piece to an online humor site and got a scathing reply from the editor telling me that I wasn't really writing humor because all I was doing was transcribing what my kids said. A few years later she started following me on a social media site. It took every bit of strength I had not to have a Pretty Woman moment with her and say, "Remember me?? Big mistake. Huge." 

 PC:  See? I was right. That felt just like I thought it would. Maybe there's still hope, though. I shared a room with you and Sister Wife once at a BlogHer conference. Do I get to call you Robin still? Or does the fact that you got to hear me snore mean I'm now to refer to you as Ms. O'Bryant?

 RO: Robin is fine. I'm just not sure you'll be able to call me roommate again. ; )

 PC: That one hurt, Robin. Seriously. But The Husband is currently sending virtual high-fives your way. Whatever THAT'S about. Anyway, finish this sentence:

 RO: I'm at the beach...

 PC: No, really. I totally got distracted by a squirrel just now. When you stop laughing at me, I'd really like you to finish that sentence.

 RO:...my plan is to drink coffee until lunch then switch to alkeehol. I'm going to get some Vitamin D and be in bed by 7:30. 

 PC: YOU DO LOVE ME! Okay, back to Ketchup. Remember when you first launched and then the government declared tomato sauce on pizza was considered a vegetable and I was all THE US GOVERNMENT HAS APPROVED THIS MESSAGE because BEST TIMING EVER? Good times, right?

RO:  Lol!! I know! I used it as a hook for my press release thanks to suggestions from Ariel Gore's "

 How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights, " which you recommended to me. 

 PC: I think I've read that book about 10 times. Obviously, you took way better notes than I did. Can I borrow them? And what's the game plan for the big Ketchup relaunch? A book tour? Who gets to play you in the eventual sit-com? Or would you rather go the RoseAnne Barr route and just play yourself?

RO: I am going on book tour, you can find all of the dates here. If I'm not going to be close to you, you can order books from my local indie store, Turnrow Books and I'll personalize them & they'll ship them to your front door!

AND I'm highly available for private speaking engagements, you can email me at robinschicks(at)gmail.com if you are interested. 

 Honestly, I used to fantasize about being an actress but it would be so weird to play me with Not Zeb, Not Aubrey, Not Emma, and Not Sadie. Zeb O'Bryant would die first and I don't have the money to spend to send all three girls to Promises for their 15th birthdays so I guess that job would be up for grabs. If, in some alternate universe, any of my stories were made into movies, I would want Jennifer Lawrence to play me because she's the only person I can think of who is as ridiculous as I am.

PC: Last one-- If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

RO: Absolutely not. I am so grateful for the way everything unfolded. Self-pubbing first gave me the opportunity to take baby-steps before I made the plunge into traditional publishing. I would have been lost in this process, but I'm more confident now. I've done this before, the only difference is that instead of it just being me and my agent, I have a whole TEAM of people who are helping me. I am so in love with every single person I've worked with at St Martin's Press.

***

Now for the giveaway details: St. Martin's Press is offering one copy of the shiny pretty new Ketchup and Robin has graciously offered to make sure it's personalized. Considering the fact that I forgot to bring my own copy to BlogHer in 2012 to get my ROOMMATE to sign for me, I think this is a pretty sweet deal for y'all.

How do you enter? Leave me a comment. It can be about anything, really, but bonus points will be given to those who say something that tells me and Robin that you do, in fact, realize this post had nothing to do with knitting turtle cozies or the earliest time of the day during which it is socially acceptable to add more vodka to your orange juice (The answer is: I'm not judging). The contest will close at midnight (EST) on Monday, March 31, and one winner will be randomly selected via twitter or email. And don't forget -- you can pre-order Ketchup is a Vegetable at major retailers right here!

Because They'd Totally Be Sitting At My Lunch Table if This Was High School

I'm knee-deep in Crazy right now trying to finish my mom's taxes, not quite awake after an all-nighter with the idiot puppy Fezzik dog who decided a dropped pistachio shell might make for a fun $300 emergency trip to the all-night veterinarian, and still all googly-eyed over the I GOT AN AGENT thing. Then there's the Wishing My Proposal Would Revise Itself because *that's* a whole lot of Insane and it makes me want to chase my morning orange juice with a bottle of Nyquil. But there's no time to bury myself in a pile of despair! Not with Buttercup to keep busy and the dog to keep from costing me more money.

Also? My friends have been BUSY LITTLE BEES and I'm really only breaking my regular blogging schedule so I can do a Show and Tell showcasing their Awesomeness because these ladies would totally be sitting at my high school lunch table.

Ready? Here we go... 

Have you heard about CJ REDWINE and her debut YA book, DEFIANCE? It's amazing. Check out the official release info over at YA BOOKS and then click on over to CJ's blog to enter for a sweet chance at an autographed copy of DEFIANCE and some snazzy swag.

Remember my review of Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves by Robin O'Bryant? If not, read this author interview first to catch up with the rest of the class. Love it? Yeah, me too.

Hungry for more? Good. Robin has a Second Helping available for her fans on Amazon. The ebook is a collection of 22 of her reader's best loved pieces from her self-syndicated column. Oh and bonus? Prime members get to read it for free. No prime? No problem. Skip the tall skinny latte at Starbucks today and support an author today so you can say you knew her when tomorrow.

 

 

Meet the Ermas: Round 1

I love to laugh. Almost as much as I love to make other people laugh (clarification: on PURPOSE, yo.) So when I was asked to officially hop on the An Army of Ermas bandwagon by the incredibly awesome Stacey I. Graham, I naturally said (and I quote), "Hell Yes!" The beauty of the Ermas site is the multitude of talent you'll find and the humor* (and ability to relate to the real life moments) in the stories shared by each and every writer for the site.

Being a writer myself, I always like to get to know the person behind the words on the screen, and I'm hoping you will, too. There's a lot of Ermas and I'd like for you to get to know each one. Today I'm featuring an interview with Adam Slade. I promise I only featured him first because of the sexy English accent I'm imagining.

PMC- Vanilla or chocolate? I know you expected me to start with age, rank, and serial number, but we need to set the tone for this interview first. Vanilla is safe and boring. Chocolate is funny and a bit adventurous. Or was it the other way around?

Adam-Vanilla, but in a funny and adventurous way. Ha! I'm complex!(With real vanilla pods. Mmm...)

PMC: Sneaky bastard. Okay then. Do you chew your ice cream?

Adam: Yes. Unless it contains nothing chewy. In which case, yes.

PMC: Good. I don't trust people who don't chew ice cream. Now that we're past the pleasantries, I want name, rank, and serial number. Who are you, exactly. And why should I think you're funny?

AS: Adam Slade, Chief Accountant in Charge of Sheep-Dip, #42, MA'AM.

I'm an English author of fantasy and humour (with a U), and have a few books under my belt that you should definitely buy. I'll even throw in a belt to carry them with (I won't). I currently live in Canada with my wife and cat. Both are lovely, though one occasionally bites me.
You should think I'm funny because I try really hard at it. (Don't believe those who say it should come naturally - notice how they're never funny people.)
PMC: I see. Where can one buy your books? And I want that belt.
AS: One (and you, yes you) can buy my books on pretty much every internet ebook seller there is. To cut down on finger strain, though, I'll just link that Amazonian one.

Belts come only with large purchases. Large enough that I can afford to buy a belt from the royalties.
I also write erotic romance under another name, but that's a secret, so you'll just have to buy lots and lots of it in the hope that you get one of mine.

PMC: I was waiting for you to tell me erotic was spelled with a "u". So, Mr. English. Tell me about this Erma gig you've got going on. Did you bribe Stacey with brownies to get in, too?

AS: Nope. Unless you have a past you're not telling me about, there's no "u" in erotica. If I plied Stacey with my brownies, she'd have me arrested for attempted poisoning. After she beat me up, of course. Everyone knows editors have serious guns from all that crossing-out.

Last Christmas Our Glorious Leader put up a competition, asking people to submit their funniest Chrimbo-themed articles. The winner would get both praise and their article posted on the site. Since I'd wussed out of the previous call for writers, I manned up just enough to write something for the contest, and Stacey decided it was worth posting. Just after that, she offered me a spot on the Ermas roster and I said 'booya', followed by 'yes'. I tend to post about once every 2 months, as spots are limited, and sometimes I'm too late/lazy to grab one. I try and keep the articles silly.

PMC: No bribing? Obviously, there is some favoritism present. *lesigh* I was gonna say there is no "I" in erotic but that just backfired on me. So back to you. Where can one find you on the interwebz?

AS: What can I say? It's my English charm. Or the begging. Probably the begging, come to think of it.

I'm speedy with my innuendos. It's a gift. Or a curse. A girse? That sounds like a cross between a giraffe and a horse. Cuft, then?
You can find me in many many places, as I use the internet far too much. My main blog has links to everything else. I'd love for some new followers to go with my ol--, uh, less new ones. They're a lovely bunch. Most can move about without walkers, too.
PMC: Do you ever tweet? Cuz I'm on, like, all the time. And I never see you! Talk more. That might reel in the non-walker crowd.

Just my two cents.

Okey dokey then. Oh wait! You said English charm! Do you have an English accent to go with it? Will you read my my grocery list?

AS: I do tweet, but nowhere near as frequently as I used to. It's a failing of mine.

Yes, I have an English accent, and yes, I can read your shopping list. Lemme see...
Mexifro comb, oil for elliptical trainer, three extra large packets of sarcasm...

PMC: You're lucky I like you....

***

*I thought about adding the "U" out of respect for my English guest. Then I decided I like the way the word looks better when spelled properly.

The Writer's Christmas Countdown

You call them "Blog Archives." I call them "Re-Runs."

Enjoy the song, y'all. I've got to go hide in a closet and wrap some more gifts for a certain child who shall hereby be referred to as Spoiled Sweet.

 

***

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me An idea for a brand new book.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Two new shiny chapters and an idea for a brand new book

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the fifth day of Christmas My true love gave to me Five thousand words, Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the sixth day of Christmas My true love gave to me six beta readers, five thousand words, Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the seventh day of Christmas My true love gave to me seven likes on Facebook, six beta readers, five thousand words, Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the eighth day of Christmas My true love gave to me eight new rejections, seven likes on Facebook, six beta readers, five thousand words, Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the ninth day of Christmas My true love gave to me nine query rewrites, eight new rejections, seven likes on Facebook, six beta readers, five thousand words, Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the tenth day of Christmas My true love gave to me ten tweets supporting, nine new rejections, eight query rewrites, seven likes on Facebook, six beta readers, five thousand words, Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the eleventh day of Christmas My true love gave to me eleven foursquare updates, ten tweets supporting, nine query rewrites, eight new rejections, seven likes on Facebook, six beta readers, five thousand words, Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

On the twelfth day of Christmas My true love gave to me twelve agent offers, eleven foursquare updates, ten tweets supporting, nine query rewrites, eight new rejections, seven likes on Facebook, six beta readers, five thousand words, Four hours wasted tweeting, three plot holes, two new shiny chapters, and an idea for a brand new book.

Win a Date with Brooke Warner

Time and money. Not exactly things I thought about when I woke up with an idea to write a book. But after jetting off to three conferences last year (two of which weren't even writing specific) with my proposal in my briefcase and dreams of coming home with a book deal, I now realize I have wasted a lot of both.

I'm not saying that it doesn't happen because it does. But the fairy tale stories of bloggers being approached by agents with contracts ready to sign and the conference match-ups between writers and agents that lead to the stuff dreams are made of are not exactly what a new writer needs to be banking on. Especially when said writer (read: me) only thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread. ( I know...it was hard for me to wrap my head around, too.)

I had worked with a few novice editors to get the proposal together, tighten up my manuscript, and then basically sat back waiting for glory to find me. Yeah, I know. And after a year of queries, rejections, and a few lukewarm nibbles of interest, I finally took a step back, looked in the mirror, and admitted to myself that something needed to change.

Namely? No more wasting time. No more wasting money. Also? Time to tame to ego.

My new outlook led me to Brooke Warner, a writing coach and Seal Press Editor. But before I found Brooke, I had to find my way to She Writes, a wonderful community of writers in every stage of the game. Oh. And did I mention that membership is free? Score one on the not wasting money thing.

Shortly after receiving my email of acceptance into She Writes, I saw a notice for a webinar with Brooke for members interested in learning more about the publishing industry and how to better prepare their work for success. There was a little bit of money involved...but seeing as the price did not involve a plane ticket, hotel room, conference fee, or a new wardrobe (because of course I couldn't wear the same clothes to every conference...who does that?) I figured I did pretty well. While listening to Brooke share her wisdom during the webinar, I knew I had done pretty well.

And when I finally scored an hour long consultation with Brooke (after waiting on a list oh-so-patiently for a few months)? I found myself wondering why I hadn't pulled my head out of my ass a long time ago, joined She Writes, got all participatory with other writers, and found Brooke before I spent a lot of money on glorified opportunities to hang out with my social media friends. (Disclaimer: If I met you at one of these conferences, I am totally talking about everyone else being the waste of money. Not you. Oh no. Cuz you made it all worth it. Yes you did. *Pinches Cheeks*)

An hour. That's exactly what my paypal account paid for and what I got with Brooke. Doesn't sound like much, perhaps. But trust me when I say every second was worth it. In those 60 minutes, Brooke gave new insights on my proposal and a few sample chapters, highlighting exactly what wasn't working and even pointing out a few red flags that most likely accounted for the majority of my rejections on the manuscript to date. Brooke also shared what was working and which strengths  to capitalize upon. I hung up the phone wondering where she had been all my life and ready to edit the hell again out of my proposal and manuscript.

The best part was the follow up email in which Brooke called me bitchy. Not in the "OMG, Becky," kind of way but instead in the "I like your snarky voice" kind of way. Seriously, people? Best. Feedback. EVER.

I can't promise she will call you names, but I'm betting an hour on the phone with Brooke Warner may be an investment worth considering for those thinking about a writing coach.

You're welcome.

***

Consider this the epilogue. If you are still reading, you are being rewarded for dealing with my long-winded-ness with a chance to score an hour long phone consultation of Your Very Own with writing coach extraordinaire, Brooke Warner. No, I am not making that up and yes, I did check with Brooke first before making this little announcement. Normally, these sessions run are not free, so consider this a big BIG opportunity to save some moolah and get some kickin' feedback on your little ole' work in progress.

To enter, leave a comment explaining why you think you would benefit from a phone consult with The Divine Ms. Warner. Make it good, people. I have a semi-secret-but-not-really panel of four judges who will be helping me decide who gets to make The Call for a Consult!

Entries will be accepted through midnight, EST, on Wednesday, May 25.

Writing, Paying the Bills, and a Little Perspective

Today's post is a guest column. Please read, enjoy, and leave Princess Jones a comment to let her know how nice everyone is in my sandbox. Then? Go visit her site. Your welcome. ***

I remember the first book I ever wrote. It was called The Saga of Barbie and Ken. It detailed their meeting on a busy sidewalk, their whirlwind courtship, the return of her evil twin Barbie 2 and Barbie’s quest across the deserts of Saudi Arabia to rescue Ken. It was actually pretty cheesy now that I think about it. Still, I have to forgive myself because I was only seven.

Like many writers, putting stories on paper has always been something I’ve enjoyed. I was good at it in school. I was on the school newspaper, literary journal and yearbook staff.  I kept journal after journal of my every thought and feeling. You couldn’t stop me from writing. I bet you were that way, too. Unlike the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers of the world, writers usually have the desire to write ingrained in them from an early age. I’ve never met a mailman who took his first crack at delivering mail in grade school, but almost every writer I know started that young.

For most of us, the ultimate goal is to make writing pay the bills full-time. It’s the universal dream to put “WRITER” in the occupation box for the first time without any hesitation. (It’s a damn good feeling. I recommend it to anyone if they want a rush of excitement.) But, the one thing nobody tells you when you become a professional writer is that it’s not the same as writing for fun. Even if you’re writing the exact same type of stuff, it just feels different.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was always one of my favorite books. The part about whitewashing the fence has always stuck with me. If you don’t know it, it’s the chapter where Tom is being forced to whitewash (paint) a fence as punishment. So he convinces passersby that this work is actually the best time he’s ever had and he’s glad to be doing it. In the end, he convinces them so well, they’re willing to pay him for the honor of whitewashing that fence, too.

To paraphrase Mr. Twain, the line between work and play is simply what we “have” to do and what we “get” to do. It’s all about perspective. Even you favorite thing can lose its luster when you have to do it to pay the bills.

Years ago, writing was playing for me. My “real job” paid my bills. Anytime I could come home from that hell hole and open a Word doc was heaven. Now, writing is what I have to do if I’d like to eat or pay my cable bill. Just the other night I was having a hard time with some upheaval in my life. Five or six years ago I would have written about my feelings until I had worked it out. Now, just picking up a pen and pad makes me think of work. I don’t know if I’d call it burnout, exactly. I prefer to call it a problem separating writing as work and writing as a hobby.

There’s no magic bullet for getting your writing mojo back, though. I think the problem is that while I’m doing a lot of passionate projects, I’m not doing enough passion projects. It’s time to get back to writing for the love of writing and nothing else. That means that I’m going to have to go against that instinct we all have to turn our writing into “something.” I think that part of me getting my writing groove back is allowing some my writing to just be. . . instead of turning it into yet another a project or a task.

And as for any of you out there who are pre-published or furiously working toward starting a full-time writing career, I’d tell you to take a moment and breathe. Enjoy the place you are right now. Because, as wonderful as it is to be paid for something you love, there’s something about doing what you love just because you love it.

***

Princess Jones writes and writes and writes. Her newest project, Shes Self-Employed, is a site dedicated to women who run their own businesses and write their own checks. When she isn’t writing, she’s tweeting under @iampsjones.

Operation: Google Stalk

@LukeRomyn: It's a sad day when you Google yourself and the results tell you to get a life

Oops...that's been happening to me a lot these days. I'm in the middle of my personal Sit and Wait after the Queries Phase hell, and believe you me, I am about ready to get a restaining order on myself with the sick sad obsessive online searching.

What will an agent find if they are interested enough to look beyond the query? (Read: I may have dropped one too many F-bombs in tonight's tweet stream.)

So I decided to take a break on my new self-stalking hobby and stalk Mercedes Yardley instead. And for kicks? I asked her to stalk me.

Cue the Jeapordy theme.

Answer: Spend entirely too much time on facebook, twitter, fouresquare, and their own blogs under the guise of "research for their next project."

Question: What does a writer actually do?

Mercedes is one of my favorite people on twitter. And not just because she beta read my entire manuscript in record time, either. And also not because she actually liked it. A lot. And definitely not because my middle name is her first. (Ok, that was really the reason I started following her, but our relationship has since moved far beyond the superficial. Seriously. I may even introduce her to my mother soon. After my mother gets a twitter account, that is.)

For the sake of my art, let us all pretend that Mercedes does not yet have an agent and is still toiling away in the Land of the Unpubbed like the rest of us, shall we? That makes it easier for me to justify Google stalking.

Let the games begin.

Did you know that Mercedes:

*can be found here on Twitter? Her most recent tweet to (how cool is this?) author Luke Romyn (as of the writing of this blog post) is as follows:

@mercedesmy: But...I want to believe.

*Blogs at A Broken Laptop. (Kick ass name, by the way.) A quick search of her blog tells me and my ninja-like skills that she loves stillettos, has killer legs, likes to build snowmen out of old liquor receipts and cocaine (after the kids have gone to sleep, of course), is gorgeous, knows how to market herself (hello PLATFORM!), and is just made of awesome.

*is not the first Mercedes Yardley you will find on Facebook. Trust me.

*is as eloquent as she is snarky (Just follow her on Twitter if you aren't already.)

And that's just page one. If you have no life like me or are an agent and in the business of doing this sort of thing for a really good reason, you'll also find Mercedes on SheWrites (which also serves as a nice reminder to stop stalking myself and my friends for five minutes tomorrow to set up my own page. Ok, maybe six.)

I can't wait to see what Mercedes dug up on me. I'm guessing lots of self-deprecatation and typos.

But really, it's just a guess.

Now it's your turn. Google yourself. And report back in the comments.

On Me and the Speed of Molasses

Good gawd, I'm picky. I was when I was dating and I am probably worse with querying agents for Baby F(Ph)at. Case in point: I got my first boyfriend when I was 16, had three serious boyfriends before The Husband decided he was the Prince this Mexican Princess was looking for and answered my ad, and walked down the aisle at the ripe old age of Are you fucking crazy? You have your whole life ahead of you!!! 24.  Maybe I missed out on some singles fun by declining that Spring Break trip to Mardi Gras with the sorority sisters I wouldn't have paid to be friends with because I was too busy staring at the shiny new engagement ring on my finger prior to becoming Mrs. The Husband, but hell, I was happy where I was ( i had always said I would marry a guy who was half Mexican, taller than me, and spoke more English than Spanish. Guess what I got? Yep...exactly what I ordered). No need to go looking for what I wasn't.

Querying is very much the same for me. I have compared the process of searching for an agent to finding love a few times on the blog, and the comparison is still true for me. And? It explains why I have only queried 10 agents since July.

Namely? I am not a query slut.

(Don't get your panties in a bunch. I am not calling you a query slut. I am merely saying that I am not one. Big difference. Huge difference. Huge!)

Sure, I could have had my letter in the hands of 40 or 50 or more agents by now. Some may argue that I should have. But I respectfully disagree (in my case, anyway). Because when it comes to searching for an agent, I am being just as picky as I was when I was looking for my prince. If I don't get all super excited and start dreaming about how my first name would match his last how insanely awesome it would be to have THIS agent take me on as a client, then I'm not going to bust my ass to perfect the personalization on the query and send the damned thing out. It's hard enough when I want it to work out. I am not going to go that kind of crazy when I only have a name, an email address, and no idea who this person is or if anyone else has ever heard of them. (And yes, I did turn down one agent who refused to give details on her track record. Call me crazy.)

Which takes me to the search itself. I've gone through the requisite books at Barnes & Noble. I've highlighted names in my agent listing books. And? I have twitter-stalked enough agents long enough to know if I am going to continue following and query or unfollow because I'm not getting all googly-eyed at the thought of them calling me if I make myself pretty and send them a note with a box to check yes if they like me. Like my Husband requirements, my agent list is pretty specific. I'm betting she will be a mom, appreciate a properly placed F-bomb, and have an active twitter account or at least know what a tweet actually is when not referring to the sound the birds make in Snow White. Did I mention I was picky?

So maybe my search is moving slow. Okay, slow is an understatement. But that's okay with me.I'm still looking. And I'm not sweating the small stuff. The Husband answered my yahoo ad the day I was clearing out the inbox because I had decided I was going to take a break from the dating scene. The rest is obviously history.

Now...let's see how this agent match search of mine plays out. 'Cuz I could query her...or her...or maybe? Maybe I'll just wait for the next agent that has me doodling their name in hearts on the cover of my notebooks.

Owning my Pink & Loving the Click

When I first started this blog, my only intention was to have a place to give the words in my head a chance to be free. I wasn't giving anything away or posting News Anyone Couldn't Live Without. I was simply writing.

And wouldn't you know it? People started reading.

The connections grew from there. I have made a number of friends through Aspiring Mama and twitter; most of which know more about my day than the family and friends I usually don't have time to call because I'm busy trying to cement my path to my dreams of becoming a published author. I want a place for my words. And that place means so much more when it isn't a domain of my own creation.

I was recently honored to have a blog post featured on the front page of Owning Pink, which honestly rawked. Site owner and author extraordinaire, Lissa Rankin, is a personal inspiration, and the Pink Possee community is something I am exremely proud to be a part of. If you haven't already, please check it out. Not for my sake, mind you, but because I think you'll want to become a part of it, too.

I also clicked with one of my favorite twitter friends, Leslee Horner, for the second time. Leslee's site, Waiting for the Click, is a beautiful compilation of (mostly) contributed blog posts from writers on the same path to self-discovery as Leslee. It's filled with personal "Ahah!" moments, those little bits of time where something just "clicked"...allowing the writer to become more than they already were. Please, take a moment to stop by and read Waiting for the Click. Get lost in the moments. Then share your own.

Short story (much) longer

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I wasn't going to go. There really wasn't a point, after all. I mean, I don't do reviews. I don't really have time to make IRL friends out of the people I already talk to online. And my spare time should be dedicated to that getting famous/book deal thing I'm kinda invested in, so do I really need to be spending a weekend with a bunch of women I probably have nothing in common with in the name of networking and social media at something with a cutesy name like Bloggy Boot Camp?

looney tunes bloggy boot camp

Answer: You bet your ass.

Here's the deal: When you have familiar avatars and scary-impressive numbers attached to every tweet your send out, it's bound to intimate the little fish in the pond who might wonder if responding to something your super-famous-self said or if you are even going to see the comment from not-so-famous us. So we follow. We lurk. We type and delete and then figure we'll try again later when our numbers get just a bit bigger.

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But those avatars are tricky little fuckers. They're teeny. They can be grainy. They might not look so much like the In Real Life you. And that's when people like me walk up to people like you and forget about the numbers and the followers and the influence and just smile and say "hello" and tell people like Loralee that her purse kicks absolute ass before realizing who I was talking to.

Because it's that easy.

katja presnal bloggy bootcamp

And that hug Tiffany said she wanted before bloggy boot camp? Ya know...the one she sent me a tweet about? Yeah, she remembered!

And ya wanna know what happened when I opened my mouth? (Aside from making an ass of myself when I heard Katja speak and realized it wasn't just a cute red head at my table but Katja herself, that is. Because that's when I turned back to Theresa and loud enough for Katja to hear and said, "OMG. I just realized who I was sitting next to! She's Katja!" Which I'm sure is a moment Sugar Jones can relate to. Ask her about Patrick Duffy if you weren't at Bloggy Boot Camp.)

I connected with people. I laughed with them. I learned I wasn't the only mom-writer there who thought it was going to be a waste of time and left totally high on renewed energy and lots of new dreams.

bloggy boot camp

Then there was meeting Carolyn McCray for dinner on Saturday after the conference and before the cocktail party and showed up with my heart in my throat while trying to not sound like I had no clue what I was talking about with her, Dee Dee and Piper Heiney.  I'm thinking I survived, but I may need that vodka Dee Dee provided in her little swag bag to get over any glitches in my portion of the conversation that now make me do some face-palm action.

I was only there because Dr. Lynne  Kenney thought it might be a great idea to give it a try and I reluctantly signed up. (And I can't thank her enough for making me try something new.)

bloggy boot camp

I may have been the picture of confidence but I'll tell ya a secret. I freaked before I got there. Becca, Melanie, Michelle, Chelsea, and Shey were okay with the fact that I packed a week's worth of clothes so I could have choices and blend when I got to the Xona Resort, which was nice because I seriously looked like an asshole next to the people flying in from other states with those adorable little over-nighter suitcases. (Note to self: I will not be repeating this mistake next year.)

(Okay, that was a total lie.)

bloggy boot camp

I may not give a damn about SEO (mainly because thinking about it makes my head hurt) or have plans for monetizing the blog. But I did learn to keep an open mind when entering into each and every new situation. Because as I listened to authors who blog talk about making their dreams a reality and to presentations on vlogging and branding yourself, I realized I fit right in with every other mom blogger in the room with me as we work on leaving our marks in the world with our words and figure out how to stay sane while doing it.

bloggy boot camp