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Writer Wednesdays: Chris Guillebeau Wants You to Take Over the World

Photo: Sujin Jetkasettakorn

I LOVE passionate bloggers and writers–well, people in general. I don’t have time for the “too cool for school” crowed, or people that sit on their asses complaining about their job, life, significant others, weight, how stupid people are, their moms…it’s just fruitless. And laziness? It’s about as unattractive to me as if you looked like Beetlejuice covered in maggots.

That’s why I love Chris Guillebeau’s style. He is not going to throw you a pity party. He is not going to coddle you. And he is going to make you want to get off your couch and DO something. I tweeted this quote today from his latest blog post:

“Above all, spend your time doing something that matters to you.”

That’s the crux of life, isn’t it? I feel like this is the answer to the age-old question about the meaning of life and our purpose on this planet. (Yeah, so what if you think I’m overstating?).

If we do things that matter to us, we will be

  • making a positive impact on the world
  • happier and more fulfilled
  • ready to tackle more awesome ideas 
  • living a life with fewer regrets
  • aligning our actions with our priorities
I don’t know if it gets any simpler than this. Do what matters to you, and you won’t get stuck going to some event you don’t want to be at. Do what matters to you, and you won’t spend time with people who suck the life out of you. Do what matters to you, and your life will take off to happier, more magical places than you ever thought possible. 
Read his blog to get the same “I-can-conquer-the-world” feeling that I got today. 
What matters to YOU? Please let us know!


Soul Saturdays: Is My Art Supporting My Life, or My Life Supporting My Art?

Photo: Chanpipat

Tough, tough question.

The great Stephen King once stated, “Life is not a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” With all due respect, I think you have to delete the “it’s” and replace with “it should be” because I agree that Mr. King describes the ideal, but it’s not always the reality.

I saw this quote pop up on the Goins newsletter I receive, a recent blog post I read, and heard the words rattle around in my head as I head a mini-breakdown this week when I realized that my book publishing future is probably going to better off if I take the self-publishing route (which honestly terrifies me, but that’s for another post).

Right now, my life is definitely supporting my art instead of the other way around. I work most days 10-12 hours, feel guilty if I’m not working, and never take a whole day off (even though I keep promising myself that I will start taking Sundays off completely–no computer, very little phone, lots of movies). Obviously, this has been hard on the relationships in my life.

There are two main reasons for this imbalance:

1. We need to pay our bills.

When we quit our jobs last June, we stripped down our bills a lot. Renters in our house to cover the mortgage, us bouncing from my parents to friends houses, sold a car…but there is still X amount of dollars that have to go out each month. We are definitely a paycheck to paycheck family right now, and I don’t want to be.

2. I want to work my ass off now so I can reduce the number of income streams I need (read: simplify). 

I have 7 (sometimes more) companies that pay me any given month–3 clients, two steady local/regional publications, a couple (low-paying) travel writing gigs, and usually one or more “extra” articles in different magazines or newspapers. All this to just barely make what I formerly made as a high school English teacher most months. Now, I am 100% blessed to have these different jobs, and I love almost all of what I do, but it’s a lot of balls to have up in the air. And if just one of those balls goes away, well…see #1.

So, yes, I know that I have to continue to strive for a better balance, be more available for loved ones, and still squeeze in some all-important “me time” to maintain my sanity and sunny disposition :) But for now, I’m going to have to keep plugging away until I break through to the next level–whatever that means. I feel like whatever “it” is, it’s right around the corner, and something extraordinary will happen soon.

I have no choice but to believe that, right?

What about you? How are you balancing your art/life?


Fiction Fridays: On the Island by Tracy Garvis Graves

Photo: Simon Howden

We recently purchased a Kindle Fire because my husband’s computer is pretty much a goner, so we thought we would go with a tablet as its replacement (and yes, we wanted an iPad but come on! $199 vs. $600+?).

Anyway, I was really excited to browse through the Kindle store, and my first purchase was On the Island by Tracy Garvis Graves. Now, I want to be totally upfront and let you know that I am a sucker for deserted island/castaway books–I even did my graduate thesis on comparing Lord of the Flies and John Dollar (girl version of Lord of the Flies in case you haven’t read it) to the story of the Garden of Eden (focusing on the story elements, not the religious meaning). Now, this novel is completely different than these two I mentioned because of the male/female dynamic, but you can throw almost any combination of people onto an island and I will be intrigued (talk about a Petri dish for studying human behavior! Yes, please!).

This novel did not disappoint. The bizarre circumstances that Graves creates to set up this tale are plausible and allows for a slew of moments that test the moral code of Anna, the 30-year-old teacher on her way to meet the family of a teenage boy that she would tutor all summer because he had Hodgkin’s Disease and missed a lot of school. The family went a few days early to the Maldvies, which means Anna and T.J., the disgruntled 16-year-old boy who is pissed he has to leave all his friends when he just got healthy, fly over together.

The plane crashes, the pilot dies, leaving the two of them stranded. For years, they just survive, hunting for food, building shelters, keeping a fire going.

I won’t ruin it for you, but just imagine after two-plus years, no rescue in sight (they’ve only seen two planes fly over so far), and barely any clothing left, human nature takes over.

 What happens after they cross the line serves as a lesson about the power of love and the belief that it can overcome any obstacles if its the real thing.

I WILL seek out other books by Graves, and I highly recommend this book. Let me know what you think!


Writer Wednesdays: Novelicious

Photo: Nokhoog_Buchachon

Found this website called Novelicious today and felt like I had been missing out all this time. There “must-read” authors list of women’s fiction reads a lot like mine: Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Emily Giffin…so, I decided to snoop around and see what else I could find.

This is a blog for women’s fiction writers as they post contests, agent interviews, a “My Writing Room” recurring post with photos, information on just released titles the community may be interested in, and author interviews. Pretty much everything that I would love to read about the women’s fiction world of writers.

And I don’t usually comment on the look of a blog, but Novelicious has a pretty awesome layout. Each post has thumbnails of related posts at the bottom, they promote books on the sidebar, and the colors are fun.

It’s an excellent, informative, yet fun site that I am excited to dive into more.

What other blogs related to women’s fiction do you read?


Soul Saturdays: The Importance of Patience During the Publishing Journey

Photo by adamr

The strongest of all warriors are these two: Time and Patience. –  Leo Tolstoi   
Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. -  Napolean Hill
Peaceful warriors…do not seek fulfillment, but wait with open arms to welcome all things. -  Dan Millman
Patience and time do more than strength or passion. -  Jean de La Fontaine
Our patience will achieve more than our force. -  Edmund Burke
He that can have patience can have what he will. -  Benjamin Franklin
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.

-  John Quincy Adams 

(Quotes compiled on
Patience has been on my mind a lot because I am in the pitching stage with my first novel, Couple Friends. Of course I want an agent to run screaming through the streets, “OH MY GOD THIS IS SO FANTASTIC! THIS IS THE BEST MANUSCRIPT I HAVE EVER READ! EVERYONE INVOLVED WITH THIS PROJECT IS GOING TO BECOME A MILLIONAIRE!!!”
After said running in the street screaming time is over, I would love to be flown on a private jet to have lunch with the agent and publisher at a swanky restaurant in the heart of Manhattan and at the table next to ours, my career idol Nora Ephron will be enjoying a salad and glass of white wine and lean over to say, “I read your manuscript, and it’s brilliant. I want to make a movie out of it.” Don’t ask me how she already has read it; she just has. 
I know that this is the most absolutely ridiculous scene ever, but that’s okay. It’s my fantasy, not yours. But the reality is, I am playing the waiting game and trying to keep myself insanely busy so I DON’T fret and be consumed with self-doubt and move to a beach and open a tiki bar because I think I’ll never become a published author.
So, I will keep looking up quotes about patience whenever panic sets in. I will keep editing my second novel so I can have not one but TWO manuscripts ready to go. I will continue to write my first nonfiction book that I plan to self-publish in April. And I will believe that there is an agent that WILL fall in love with my novel, minus the running in the streets part (but that would be pretty cool, right?!). 


Soul Saturdays: Supporting Your City

Photo courtesy taoty

This week, Savannah Stopover has invaded downtown Savannah, Georgia with over 100 bands “stopping by” (hence the festival name) on their way to the uber-popular SXSW in Austin, Texas. This event is great for the bands, city, and of course, music lovers, and can help quell the “we need a better music scene” complaints that sometimes seep into conversations about Savannah. Savannah Stopover founder Kanye Lanahan wrote an excellent post about this issue here. Music starts today at noon at the gorgeous Ships of the Sea outdoor garden and lasts until 1am or later at Wormhole, Jinx, Live Wire, Locos, Dosha, and Congress Street Social Club. Here’s the schedule: Savannah Stopover 2012.

But this post isn’t just about Savannah; it’s about events held in any city. We all owe it to the areas we live in to support the events that go on because the more we do, the better the events will get and the more that will be added to the annual events calendar.

Here’s a post I wrote about why people should go to the Savannah Stopover, but you could substitute pretty much any event and change a few words to apply this post to any event in any city.

Five Reasons You Should Go to Savannah Stopover by Shawndra Russell for South Magazine

If you missed last year’s inaugural event, you owe it to yourself to check it out this year.
The event has nearly doubled in size from a little over 30 to over 100 bands with 10 venues
participating and growing from three to now four days. It’s a flat-out kickass event, and great for
our city too. So do something different this weekend and enjoy some great acts as they stop by
on their way to Austin’s renowned SXSW festival that begins next week.

1. Support Our Music Venues

I’ve heard people complain about Savannah’s music scene, but how many venues have you gone
to so you could watch live music? Do you look at the weekly music schedules and pick out a
band or two you’d like to see at one of the many venues that have music every single week in
Savannah? The more love you show this weekend, the more likely these and other venues will
book more music acts. And admit it; you probably tend to go to the same places over and over.
Use Savannah Stopover as an excuse to go check out a place you haven’t been to before or been
back to in a while.

2. Give the Visiting Bands a Great Crowd

Musicians blog and tweet about the cities they visit and the crowds they play for. They also talk
to other bands and remember when a place made them feel welcomed. Some of the bands this
weekend will blow up and when they are big-name acts, maybe they’ll come back and bring with
them another cool act as their openers?

3. Support Our Local Musicians

Plenty of local musicians are participating, like Kid Syc@Brandywine, Dare Dukes, General
Oglethorpe & the Panhandlers, Triathalon, Convict Fiction, Hot Plate, Lonesome Swagger,
Crazy Man Crazy, Jamison Murphy, D.C.B., Magic Places, Lovely Locks, Free Candy, Indian
Giver, Damon & the Sh!kickers, the Train Wrecks, Roland, Sincerely Iris, Each & Every Opus,
Word of Mouth, Whaleboat, and Tony Beasley. How many of these bands have you seen? Make
it your mission to see at least one new local act this weekend.

4. Good for the Cultural Economy

Stopover organizer Kayne Lanahan just wrote a great post on the Creative Coast blog about how
this festival can help the Savannah’s creative industry beyond just music. He explains, “Over the
past year, I’ve taken a closer look at many of the cities across the country that have a reputation
for having a vibrant and well regarded music scene, almost always goes hand in hand with
a whole bunch of other “scenes”. These cities generally reflect an open and willing desire to
support new ideas and burgeoning businesses in the arts, food, technology, film, design, and
environmental sectors. These scenes, while separate, when well fed, cross-pollinate like bees on
a warm summer day. They make this generation and the next say not only “this is a place I want
to live” but “this is a place I want to stay.”

5. Do Something Different

You can return to your routine next weekend. Got a typical happy hour spot for Fridays? Skip
it. Dinner plans for Saturday night? Postpone them. This festival only comes around once a year
and may be your only chance to see of these bands because there’s no guarantee they’ll come
back to Savannah.

The festival kicks off tonight (March 7) at 7 p.m. at Telfair Square with the last shows starting at
midnight on Saturday, March 10.


Fiction Fridays: Reaction (No Spoilers!) The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles

I recently saw the movie trailer for The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks and wanted to share my thoughts on the book without giving everything away in case you haven’t read it and/or are anticipating the movie and don’t want spoilers.

First, I’ll be honest, I am going to go into the movie with low expectations. I was a little disappointed in The Last Song movie adaptation, and Dear John left me a little meh. But, I hope that The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and Message in a Bottle magic can be created again with The Lucky One. 

Zac Ephron seems a little young for this role to me because it’s about a war vet that comes home and seeks out the woman from a photo that he found while serving overseas. However, he continues to grow on me as an actor. I hope that he and his co-star Taylor Schilling the passion and intensity from the book between the characters is recreated from the book.

Not in a lusty way (although there is some of that), but more about the betrayal, confusion, and powerful connection between the characters despite the odds and circumstances. And the hatred that arises between the two male characters definitely needs to be included in the movie to amp up the conflict like in the book.

I really enjoyed this book, and the debate it brings up about fate vs. choice in matters of the heart. We are drawn to people in our lives for a variety of reasons, and Sparks uses this unique situation to show that sometimes, things really are meant to be and the whys and hows can’t be explained. 


Writer Wednesdays: Rachelle Gardner Talks Pintrest and Goodreads


Since I have been talking about Pintrest and Goodreads a lot on here lately, I thought it was a pretty cool coincidence that Rachelle Gardner just dedicated her last two posts to these topics.

Goodreads: 8 Things Writers Should Know

Pintrest: 13 Things Writers Should Know

Rachelle has a very direct writing style that makes the topics she covers seem like no-brainers. She doesn’t make me feel like I HAVE to follow her advice; I just want to because it makes so much gosh-darn sense.

I always feel like I learn some nugget (usually nuggets) of wisdom when I read her posts. And since she’s a literary agent, she talks directly to writers and breaks down what we need to know.

Relevant and motivating, you need to be following her blog if you want to propel your writing career forward.

Let me know what you think of these two articles, and if you’re on Pintrest and Goodreads yet. If so, what do you love about them?


Soul Saturdays: Purchasing With Simplicity in Mind

Photo courtesy of Idea Go

I am what mean people call cheap and smart people call frugal. I try to be fair and contribute my part, but I am not cool with throwing in more than that at this stage in my life because I am a freelance writer that doesn’t have a steady paycheck to rely on.

My frugality hasn’t always been a good thing. It often keeps me from buying things that would make my life so much easier. Now that I’m a freelance writer and my time literally becomes money through the hourly rates I charge my clients, I have been giving myself permission to buy things that help make me more efficient, effective, and organized.

One of my best simplicity purchases? My iPhone. I bought it in November, and I feel like the ability to be constantly connected helps me be a better entrepreneur. Hootsuite, email, banking, Pulse reader, Facebook, Goodreads, Pandora, blog apps, Paypal, Paymo…these apps and more have made my work and personal life easier.

Next on my want list is an iPad but that will have to wait :)

What have been some of your best simplicity purchases?


Fiction Fridays: Review of Meg Cabot’s Queen of Babble