Join me for the Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop in April!

Weekly Parenting Poetry Workshop

April is National Poetry Month (for the purposes of this challenge, let's just call it "Global Poetry Month," ok?), and I want to celebrate poems and parenting in one beautiful span of five poetry-drenched weeks.

Come along with me on this challenge with one simple mission in mind:
Write some parenting poetry.

That's it. It doesn't have to be amazing (though you'll find that a lot of it is!). You just have to write, and then share — inspire, and be inspired.

The minimal goal is to write at least one poem a week on the overarching theme for that week, which I'll post on Mondays.

You can use the optional daily prompts to inspire more specific poems or to write more frequently in case you're in the mood.

On Fridays, I'll host a linky for participants to share their poem(s) of the week. (Each linky will stay open for the entire challenge, so you can add to it later if you haven't posted your poems by then.) If you don't have your own blog, you can post your poem directly into the comments.

We'll comment on each other's poems throughout the challenge and embrace the creativity of the group.

At the end of the challenge, there will be some prizes and sweet celebration — as well as the knowledge that you have at least five more parenting poems in your portfolio!

FAQ & rules, rules, rules

Do I have to be a parent to participate? Do all my poems have to be parenting-centric?


Sunday Surf: Software, schedules, affiliates, and trolls

Links to share, from Writing Tidbits:

(It's been awhile, so I'm breaking them into separate posts.)

» State of the Draft, January 2013 Domestic Chaos

Reviews of writing software for short stories, novels, and editing.
writing novels novel writing editing writing software software short stories reviews

Between Books: The End of Illness, Mr. Rogers, and my daily freelance-writer schedule | Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Cool sample daily schedule for writers.
schedules routines writing freelance writing blogging

How to Convert Pinterest Visitors to Subscribers | Building Readership, Pinterest

Tips for optimizing your articles and sidebar to keep Pinterest visitors coming back to your blog.
Pinterest blogging tutorials

10 More Amazon Associate Program Lessons I Learned on My Way to Six Figure Earnings : @ProBlogger

General helpful lessons for increasing your Amazon Associates affiliate earnings.
amazon amazon associates affiliates revenue blogging 1 note

Resizing Images for Amazon Associates, Squidoo, Zazzle – Squidbits – Greekgeek's Squidoo Blog

How to resize images based on the Amazon affiliate code.
I often want a bigger image, and it can be a pain trying to force it (or download the larger image and upload it yourself — blargh, I say). Here’s how to alter the code to pull up the bigger images Amazon is already storing on its servers.
amazon amazon associates affiliates images html coding blogging

Short Amazon affiliate links – a bookmarklet / Stoyan's phpied.com

Bookmarklet provides a short URL with “just the facts, ma’am” for your Amazon Associates linking. For instance, instead of having to travel to my Amazon Associates account to retrieve the bloated Amazon code, here’s the link for my book with the bookmarklet:
Easy, short, no bother.
affiliates amazon amazon associates marketing blogging 1 note


On not getting eyes on your Facebook posts and the implications of paying to promote.
facebook promotion marketing Social media
On the sad lives of internet trolls.
Lindy West at Back Fence PDX (by Back Fence PDX)
comments trolls blogging Social media

How to increase Facebook Page Posts fan interaction.

Really helpful tips for what types of FB updates get the most fan views and how to keep FB from penalizing what you post!
facebook Social media blogging

MomAgain@40: Poetry of a Hobo Mama - We are never alone

Happy for this review of my poetry book!
One of the most poignant life-altering changes that new parents have to cope with. “Mothers are never alone” But is also a reminder to me that mothers also share the same journey, and in that we are never alone!
writing reviews book reviews poetry


The Mummy Episode: A TV trick to watch for

Will a mummy prevail over Sam and Al?
There's a construct in the world of television fiction that Sam and I have dubbed "The Mummy Episode." I recommend you start looking out for it from now on — you'll quickly start to recognize its ubiquitous presence.

We named it after watching two episodes of disparate shows that both featured mummies and the same peculiar twist at the end. One was Quantum Leap ("The Curse of Ptah-Hotep"), and one I cannot remember. I thought it was Young Indiana Jones. (Did I mention we're nerds? But you figured that out anyway, right?) But I rewatched that one on YouTube, and it's not it.

Regardless: In each, there's a rumored mummy curse that's said to be causing all sorts of mayhem. The main character (Sam Beckett the scientist in Quantum Leap) is level-headed and rational and insists there's no such thing as mummies that rise from the dead and that therefore the destruction must be the result of a very human person's mischief. The secondary characters (such as Al the emotional hologram) insist that mummies coming back to life are very, very real. But over the course of the episode (spoiler alert!), they deduce that, indeed, human hands were behind the chaos, and rationality wins the day.

Or does it?

Because both episodes close with a tantalizing hint that … NO! MUMMIES DO COME BACK FROM THE DEAD! THEY DO HAUNT THE LIVING! AAAAA!!!

For instance, the Quantum Leap episode (again: spoiler, if you care, since the show's, like, over 20 years in the past) ends with a glimpse of a wrapped hand reaching forward. Oo, spooooky!

Only it's so DUMB. Why spend the whole episode with the main character convincing us that logic will light the way, only to invalidate his whole message in one brief coda? Are we to believe that the villains they apprehended are not the bad guys after all? Or did they in fact cause the mayhem but did so only by orders of the evil mummy overlords and The Curse?

(Wait — that's a menstrual cycle, right? Well, same diff.)

We have since seen multiple other examples of this sort of Mummy Episode. Quantum Leap had extra Mummy Episodes within its run that dealt with other phenomena, like the vampire ("Blood Moon") who's really just a weirdo … until Sam can't look in a mirror to see his reflection … woooo!

Many Mummy Episodes deal with otherworldly messages and psychics who are disproved … or are they? Like The Mentalist, whose whole premise is that psychics are just tricksters but that keeps muddying the waters with appearances from another is-she-isn't-she psychic. I was just watching the middling show Body of Proof (I could say a lot about the writing and acting there, but I wanted something detective-y to watch and it was free on Hulu), and it was the same thing (spoiler alert for reals): The daughters of one family are supposedly possessed by Satan, until it's revealed they've been drugged … but then one of them has these messages from beyond the grave for the main, rational doctor character. Huh-wha?.

Psychics and spiritually possessed characters being generally discredited but who have one zinger of a line per show are such a staple of fiction that sometimes I think we forget that it is just fiction. Only a TV show can have such a convincing moment of beyond-the-grave communication.

The same sort of thing has happened in Bones and House, and you know from the one-word series names (just joking) that these people are über-logical. In fact, Bones makes a career of Mummy Episodes, though you'd expect that from such a nonsensical show. (I even like Bones, but it's so far removed from the science-minded Kathy Reichs novels it's based on that it's astounding.)

Other variations on the Mummy Episode include aliens from outer space, mythological creatures, angels, ghosts, visitations from the (non-mummified) dead, or mysterious objects reappearing where they shouldn't be. At least one character insists such things are not logical and proves the point against the more gullible characters by solving the mystery — until the ending provides a hint that, no, the seemingly fictional element really was real.

And as for the purest form, it's shocking how many Mummy Episodes contain mummies. It's probably around 30%. Can you imagine if 30% of episodes that "jumped the shark" involved actual shark jumping?

The problem with Mummy Episodes is that the infuriating ending negates everything that's gone before. It's like if each Scooby Doo episode ended with revealing that the ghosts were just bad guys in masks … and then another ghost floated by and everyone ran for cover into the Mystery Machine. The whole point of mystery shows is that there's a logical explanation for what's happening that can be deduced through observation and right thinking, and that the main character is the right person for that job. To have that undermined by a glimpse of something spooooky at the end makes all the hard work meaningless.

Agatha Christie gave Hercule Poirot a Mummy Episode of sorts … only hers ended the right way: with bad guys captured, superstition unmasked, and mummy curses disproved. The very goofily enjoyable Psych even had an actual marauding mummy in an episode who was revealed to be a real-life mortal murderer, end of story. So not everybody falls under the curse of the Mummy Episode!

Look out for Mummy Episodes now and tell me when you see one!

{Added October 22, 2013:} Castle's Episode 110 from Season 6, "Time Will Tell," deals with oh-my-gosh-are-they-really-real time travelers.

Photo Credit: Leapers Unite


Forward vs. foreword

The copy editor is in.
I'm presenting occasional posts on the use of English,
not to be pedantic but just for the fun of language.

Vorwort = a strong sign that English is a Germanic language!

This one should be short and simple. I'd think it wasn't even necessary, except that I just picked up a published book with the wrong term used. (Oh, I know — mistakes in books wouldn't normally horrify me, but this one seemed egregious given that one of the options is a book-specific term.)

"Forward" is the descriptive word we all know and love meaning in or toward the front. (It has lesser meanings that are more metaphorically inclined, such as "precocious" and "brash.")

"Foreword" is a noun referring to a front introductory section in a book, usually written by someone other than the author, who presents and endorses the author and the premise.


Sunday Surf: Respect, comparing stats, and guarding from hackers

Links to share, from Writing Tidbits:

(It's been awhile, so I'm breaking them into separate posts.)

When Will Female Authors Get the Respect They Deserve? | BlogHer

Women write more; we read more; why don’t we get more recognition?
fiction writing genre novels novel writing reading writing romance novels mystery novels science fiction novels 1 note

Parenting Blog Analytics: How Do My Stats Compare? | PhD in Parenting

A look at parenting blogger stats.
blogging statistics

Strocel.com | Why I Attend Blog Conferences Like BlogHer

What you can and can’t get out of BlogHer or other blogging conferences.
BlogHer blogging conferences BlogHer12 blogging

Blogger introduced Permalink option to create custom URLs | My Blogger Tricks

You can now create your own URL (permalink) in Blogger. About time!
This also means figuring it out ahead of time for blog carnivals and the like will be a sight easier.
Blogger blogging blogs URLs permalinks blogging tips

Have YOU Been Duped By The "ABOUT " Page Myth?

Ok, I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, but I’ve started work on rewriting my About page now!

What they really want is to discover whether you have a common interest they can connect with. Your readers want to know what you can do for them.

In other words they are tuned to the WIIFM [what’s in it for me] radio station.
about page blogging blogs

Is Your True Nature, Entrepreneurial or Employee? | The Work at Home Woman

I used to wonder why everyone didn’t work for themselves. I finally figured out that not everyone wants to!
working at home self-employment

Declutter the Reading List | Small Notebook

Streamline your blog reading list. I do this with entire blogs as well as individual articles (so make sure your headlines are catchy, folks!).
All you have to do is look at something and see how it makes you feel. If your initial reaction is sadness or guilt or indifference, you don’t keep it. If it makes you feel glad, you keep it. Simple, yes, but effective.
reading blogging decluttering simplifying organizing Google Reader RSS feeds blogs 4 notes

» If This Then That: Turning the Internet Into Your Butler Domestic Chaos

Helpful online app:
If This Then That is magical. It works on the simple premise of when one thing happens, you trigger another. You create what they call recipes, with custom triggers and outcomes. (You can also use recipes that are shared from other users.)
You could use it for anything; I have two recipes that update Twitter & Tumblr when I post a new blog entry. 
apps online apps Twitter Tumblr blogging Facebook social media automation RSS feeds simplifying

Rumor Alert! Don't Share That Facebook-Page Warning. Here's Why.

Last year, Facebook started showing fans fewer page posts. The less fans interacted with a page, the fewer updates they saw from it.
Fans need to continually interact with your page. They can like, comment, share, click links, etc.
facebook facebook fan pages
And this is what my blogging efficiency looks like.
Thanks to Jennifer for sharing!
And this is what my blogging efficiency looks like.
Thanks to Jennifer for sharing!
(Source: shoeboxblog.com)
blogging balance writing working at home


Allow people to message you from Google Plus

If you've connected your Google presence to your Google+ profile, as is now the default, there's no standard way for people outside your circles to contact you if they want to drop you a line. There's a feature on the old Blogger profiles to make your email address visible, but if you've upgraded to G+, that profile is history (or soon will be, as I imagine they'll be phased out shortly).

You can't post on someone's wall outside your circles or view their email address without that person making a settings change. You can't even easily tell whether someone comes from a blog or what blog that is unless the profile is set up to loudly display that information.

What's the big deal? Well, for me personally, I run into all sorts of problems when I'm trying to contact winners for my giveaways on Blogger. People comment from their Google accounts on Blogger blogs without necessarily considering the lack of email-ability they're leaving behind. I also can't email someone to follow up on a question or comment.

It's up to you to decide how reachable you want to be on G+ and increase your visibility if that's your goal. (Obviously, if you want to remain entirely private, then that's your call.)

Fortunately, there's an easy fix to make in your settings to allow messages and emails to be sent to you without revealing your email address. To me, this is a commonsense balance between privacy and reachability.

(Now, another irritation I have with Google+ is how small and hidden the links are for emailing people even if they've set up public messaging capabilities, but this tutorial will at least also show you where to look!)

Click any images to embiggen.

See that teensy-weensy line way down there on your right sidebar? For me, it says "Send Lauren an email." That's where, if you have the email function enabled, users can click on it to send you an email. This happens without revealing your email address, so I think it's a good call to enable (unless you're trying really hard to avoid being contacted by [certain] people).
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