A Note from Mel:Moving Day

Hi everyone!

The publisher I have been working for announced last Friday that they were closing their doors, effective immediately. Since that announcement broke, I have been plotting and planning changes for the next chapter in my life.

I intend on using this time to focus on writing and continuing to help authors, however, I will be doing so from my other blog https://mlflickinger.org/.

I will feature book marketing tips, author guest posts, book reviews, and special promotions from there.

Please head over and follow🙂

 

Thanks!

Melissa

Confessions of a Jew-ish Skeptic, Sarahbeth Caplin

My one-time experience at a Jewish sleepaway camp (I know, I know, don’t get me started on the absurdity of the phrase “Jewish camp”) was full of, shall we say, unique experiences: from a production of The Sound of Music featuring nuns with popsicle-stick Stars of David instead of crosses to lively debates about who looked “most Jewish” and who could pass for a gentile. In that contest, I ranked somewhere in the middle with my coffee-brown curls and pale skin. The winner of the Most Likely to Pass for a Gentile award was a tall, blonde, blue-eyed girl who was half-German, half-Swedish. Before camp, I had no idea such a Jewish person could exist without the help of colored contacts and hair dye.

     I never knew whether to take offense when people occasionally told me I “looked Jewish.” I imagine it’s somewhat similar to being told you “look gay”: it’s offensive, a compliment, or a casual observation, depending on who says it. But how can it be offensive if it’s true? I am Jewish, ethnically speaking. My heritage is a mix of Polish (my last name, pre-Ellis Island, was Czaplinski), Russian, and a dash of German. As previously mentioned, I check off Ashkenazi any time it’s required for an accurate assessment of my medical history, and with that background comes an expectation – read, stereotype – of physical appearance. But don’t all stereotypes begin with a grain of truth?

     Growing up, it was not my so-called big nose or thick eyebrows that gave me grief over my Jewishness, but my thick, unmanageable curly hair, which only decided to be curly on some days. The only consistent thing about it was its poofiness, frizz, and tangles. When a stylist commented, “You have enough hair for three people!” as I settled into her chair, I cried. I was nine years old at the time, just hovering at the edge of preadolescence, when having the right look started to become very important. For me, that “right look” was shiny, fine straight hair like my friends in ballet class had. Their buns looked smooth and effortless; mine threatened to burst like a shaken soda can with the release of a single bobby pin.

     It’s not an exaggeration to say that hair has a huge impact on one’s identity and self-esteem, and living in a culture that worships shiny, straight hair as the ideal standard of beauty certainly doesn’t help.

     My battle for curly hair acceptance began three years before that moment at Great Clips (which made my mother realize it was time to join her at an official Grown-Up Salon) when a ballet teacher told me my bun wasn’t smooth enough. Well, news flash: curly hair is anything but smooth! I ranted for days on end when The Princess Diaries heroine, Mia Thermopolis, received a “royal makeover” that turned her wild mane sleek and unnaturally straight. Couldn’t those royal stylists, with every kind of product supposedly at their disposal, have given her a different haircut and recommended a special shampoo and leave-in conditioner instead? Why enforce the idea that curls somehow equal disorder and sloppiness?

     Today, it’s somewhat of an embarrassment to admit that part of my acceptance of being Jewish happened when I learned to properly care for my hair. To me – and to anyone belonging to an ethnic or cultural group marked by a very specific kind of look – having the right hair could make or break an effort to assimilate. A jab about frizz can be a jab about who you are as a person, and where you belong.

     To that end, the limitations and boundaries about the appropriateness of cultural jokes are still blurry. I can make jokes about the “Jewfro” I had when I was six, but if someone else makes a similar comment, does that make it anti-Semitic? And today, is it fair to say that my beliefs may be Christian, but my hair never will be?

     To be born into a particular heritage is a critical piece of identity that you don’t get to choose. That piece was decided for me by fate, before I could develop the cognitive ability to form my own beliefs. If the Jewish piece of me is something that “just is,” was I right to be somewhat offended when someone told me during a church retreat, “I thought you looked Jewish!”? She was merely stating a fact, not an insult…right?

     For some of us, how we look cannot be completely severed from who we are. There are so many ways to assimilate before coming to terms with the radical thought our natural states are the way we are meant to be.


headshot3 (1)Sarahbeth Caplin has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Kent State University, and is currently at work on a master’s degree in creative nonfiction at Colorado State. Her memoir, Confessions of a Jew-ish Skeptic, is set to release this spring. Her work has appeared in xoJane, Feminine Collective, The Stigma Fighters Anthology, and Christians for Biblical Equality. Follow her blog at www.sbethcaplin.com or on Twitter @SbethCaplin.

 

 

 


Confessions SB Caplin

For the first time since converting to Christianity several years ago, I was forced to reconsider what Judaism meant to me after my failed attempt at seminary, and after my father died on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. This is not a story about finding God, but about what happens when doubt threatens to break the faith of your own choosing – and how one seeker chooses to confront questions that don’t have easy answers, if any answers at all.

I feel safer by living on the fringes of faith, where grace and humility are clearer to me than ever before. For now, this is the safest place to be. It’s messy, it’s sloppy, it’s anything but organized. But I’m learning to make it a home.

Purchase link: amzn.to/1SJAQxs

UNMEDICATED ME by HM JONES

I absolutely love HM Jones guest post: UNMEDICATED ME. So brutally honest. I have read it several times before posting it .. truly blows me away. Thanks for stopping by HM.❤


 

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I am bi-polar and I love being drunk. I love the numb sensation that sweeps my veins, the lack of concern for what I say. I love the way I underthink, that peace that only comes when I’m at the end of my drink. But that’s not me.

I am loyal. My drunkenness is not. It does not care of my marriage, my children’s needs and wants. My drunkenness thinks of nobody but me, the passion that settles itself upon my skin, incomplete, not healthy but strong. It does not fold clothes, wash dishes or pack lunches. But it’s so soft, so smooth a melody that it sings its false voice to me and I am taken in by silky seduction.

And you better believe I am not the type to stop at tipsy.  I will chug until wasted is a laughable term. I will choke down when my stomach riots and the acid burns. I will be at the end of my rope, barely holding on and I will still crave another drink like it’s the first one. Because it pushes me past the anger and disorder that is un-medicated me.

“Un-medicated?! How dare you?!” You scream these opinions so loudly, but I counter with not enough money or time to be healthy, complete. And if you say the problem is me, that I’m not working hard enough to pay for happy…I say I’m empty even when I’m full and if you don’t know that feeling, just leave me be. Because you clearly don’t what it is to be incomplete. You don’t feel me or owe me. So just let me go.

Because I will just drink your comments under the table until I’m whole again, and I’ll pour another until that sassy me is back, times ten. And you will fall under my quake. You will be saddened by my shaking hands and mind and voice.

But it’s not me. I am caring. My drunkenness is not. Neither is my rage, the thing I’m trying to push away. Drunk loves you, but not the right way. It celebrates the way your eyes are like tulips dancing in the breeze. It loves you stupidly, a numb horny haze. It does not have the expectations that logical me needs. It thinks you are a warm cup of tea, but it will drink you down until you have nothing left. And it will gobble past your brokenness. You have been warned, but you are warned too late.

And I’m sorry.

It’s not me. It’s not me. It’s not happy. But I should stop striving for that. Stop striving for normal. Should be fixated on joy, on LOVE, on the day to day that is the normal and maddening bliss that keeps my heart pumping.

I love you. I hope you feel that. I hope you understand that I’m broken, not unfixable. I’m always wanting the drunken because it’s easier. But I strive for YOUR love.  Because the challenge brings me joy, which never leaves me with a hangover and regrets that taste like the stomach acid choking me. It is not happy but it so full. And since happy is such a flighty term, I will fill myself with You until I have no regrets and no reason to look for myself in the bottom of an acrid glass.

I want Love. I want You. Do you hear me?


HMJones.pngH.M. Jones is the B.R.A.G. Medallion honoree of Monochrome, now published by Booktrope’s Gravity Imprint. She has also written the Attempting to Define poetry collection, and is a contributing author to Masters of Time: A Sci-Fi and Fantasy Time Travel Anthology. Jones also teaches English courses at Northwest Indian College. She is a featured poet on Feminine Collective, moderator of the online poetry mag, Brazen Bitch, is the tired mother of two preschoolers, and in her “spare” time weaves, pulls with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Canoe Family, and attempts to deserve her handsome husband, whose lawyering helps her follow her dreams. You can find H.M. Jones on Facebook, Twitter (@HMJonesWrites), and her website and blog http://www.hmjones.net

The MOST Important Thing When Publishing a Book

 

There are a lot of things to think about once you’ve decided to publish your book.

When I finished writing mine, I thought the hard part was over. I soon realized that writing was the fun, easy stuff.

I believe we all have a book in us – but do we have the guts and tenacity to go the next step and get it published?

And if we do, where do we start?

Publishing can seem a little overwhelming. There are a multitude of options including self-publishing, traditional publishers, and now there is even a hybrid option which is something in the middle of both.

After weeks of examining all the publishing choices, here is what I found:

  • Hiring a book agent and shopping traditional publishing houses can be seriously intimidating and take a really long time.
  • Self publishing can be costly but faster. It is also a vast wasteland of terror if you don’t know exactly what your needs are or you don’t have established marketing experience.
  • Publishing hybrids are newer and may be unpredictable in experience and financial stability.

I’m not helping much yet but hang in there.

About a year ago, I was ready to finally publish my first book.  I am not an experienced author. Although I love to write, my day job is in a totally different field. I wrote my book to reach out to folks with chronic health issues like me and show them you could be well without perfect health. When it came to publishing, I had no idea what to do or where to begin looking.

Fortunately, I’m pretty good at doing my homework. I researched, I googled, I spent hours looking at different options. I thought about it so much I got overwhelmed and decided to forget the whole thing for now. After all, it took me a year to write the damn thing, why not spend a few more months thinking about my publishing needs?

Then after a week or two of dragging my heels, it hit me.

I doesn’t matter what type of publishing house you go with, the most important thing when publishing a book is how much support you get from your publisher.

Do they have a marketing program? Are you assigned a manager to help you? Is there an advertising budget? Do they have social media platforms or websites you can participate in? People to talk to when you get lost?

All these things are really important once you have that bound copy of your book in your hands and are looking to sell it to someone other than your cousin.

After looking carefully at what the publishing houses had to offer, I finally decided to go with Booktrope Publishing. They are one of the newer, up and coming hybrid companies.  The reason I chose them was because of the division they wanted to funnel me into within their house called Gravity Imprint. Gravity was filled with authors, like myself, that wrote stories of trauma (for me it was having cancer four times and two autoimmune diseases), and recovery.

The director, also an author and a marketing genius, was someone I could learn from as well. Gravity was well organized, supported by amazing book managers, and task oriented. They were not going to let me fail or fall behind in my efforts to market my book. The other authors, managers, and I work as a team. We lift each others efforts up and support each other completely (no jealousy or weirdness like I’ve seen in other publishing houses between the authors).

It doesn’t matter what type of publishing house you go with. Also, don’t think for a minute that by going to a big, traditional one you will automatically get your needs met (for most, the opposite is true). What’s important is that you find one that can provide you with the support you need to get the results you are looking for.

Publishing can be a scary concept. Signing with a house that can provide you with support will make you feel a more confident, and set you up for success.


Lisa Douthit HeadshotLisa Douthit (LisaDoutht.com) is the author of Amazon’s #1 bestselling book, Wellness Warrior – Fighting for Life in Fabulous Shoes and an Integrative Health Consultant who is passionate about healing from all perspectives.  After struggling with multiple bouts of cancer and the autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis, no one understands the physical, spiritual, and emotional rollercoaster better than she does. As one of the 40 million American women currently suffering with an autoimmune disease, she made it her mission to have a voice for all those with an invisible illness that cannot, as well as share the understanding of lessons she learned to help us all feel better. She has a private Facebook Group called Wellness Warrior Tribe for all those with chronic illness looking for support and encouragement.  For more out of the box thinking that is guaranteed to bring you joy, Like her FaceBook Page Here or join the tribe Here.

Come Hang Out with me:

Website:  www.LisaDouthit.com

Newsletter: www.bit.ly/wellnessnews.com

Book info: http://lisadouthit.com/warriorbook/

Pay it Forward with a free book here: http://lisadouthit.com/warriorbook/pay-it-forward/

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/wellnesswarrioronline/

Private FaceBook group Wellness Warrior Tribe: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WWarriortribe/

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/lisadouthitww.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lisadouthitww/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/lisadouthitww/

Goodreads page:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14256495.Lisa_Douthit

 

 

 

 

How to Boost Productivity

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When you work from home, it can be difficult to know when to “leave the office”. Sometimes it can be a challenge to find the motivation to get work done when you’re distracted by the television, your smartphone, significant others, kids, pets…etc. If you work too much, family time or daily chores suffer. If you fail to work … well.. your work suffers.
So, how can you boost your productivity? Here are some tips to get you started:

 
Minimize Distractions.
Try to plan your work time (or at least a couple of hours) while the house is quiet. I know that I am the most productive in the early morning before the kids get up, so I *try* to get up a few hours earlier to take advantage.
Create a quiet work space- not on the couch in front of the tv.
If you are constantly on your phone checking your social media, turn off your notifications for a while or better yet turn your phone off while working on important projects.

Learn to say “No.”
Taking on too much can lead to poor quality work. Keep your obligations to a realistic amount. If you want to participate in Facebook events, decide on a limit and do not go over it. Determine how many guest posts or interviews you have time for each week and stick to that number. It is okay to admit when you can’t take on more work, just be sure to politely decline.

Keep a notepad nearby (or use an app for you tech- lovers)
When an idea pops up for your latest WIP or you’ve just brainstormed a new way to market your book, write it in your notes rather than rushing to the computer when it should be family time or when your dinner is burning on the stove.

Take breaks and Don’t eat at your work space.
In a traditional office, most people take breaks to go grab a cup of coffee or leave for their lunch break. When you work at home, it’s easy to forget to take breaks. Get up and go do something for an hour- take a break. Once your attention span has left the building, so should you. (Or maybe fold some laundry.)
When it comes to eating meals- eat them away from your work space. Give yourself the time to enjoy your meal. And let’s face it, if you’re stuffing lasagna in your mouth you’re not *really* working anyway.
Prioritize with short To-Do lists.
Ok, admittedly I still need to work on this one myself. I like to write myself outrageous lists that no human being could ever complete in one day. And then, I beat myself up about only getting a few of those tasks done. Instead, grab a Post-It note and write 2-3 tasks that you need to get done. Keep that in plain site so that you don’t get distracted by other less-important tasks.
If you’re working on big project for an extended amount of time, break it down into smaller tasks. A great app for this is Trello.com (and it’s FREE!)
Not sure how long it takes you to do certain tasks? Keep track using an app like RescueTime.com, which tracks your online time and gives you summaries so you know where you need to focus your time.
Determine your daily tasks and weekly tasks and designate specific days/times to do them.

When it’s time to “leave the office” – that’s it.
Determine an end time and make sure you close up shop. Don’t try to squeeze in another page or one more review inquiry. Save your work and shut off the computer. A person who works in a traditional job gets to leave work and go home. Treat your work space the same way. Once your day is over, that’s it. Leave the work space and go eat dinner with your family or grab a cocktail with a friend.

What are some helpful tips or suggestions to help you focus and be more productive working from home?