Aug 092017
 

When I think about awards, I picture movie stars and media personalities who  “thank the academy” as they run down the mental list of all the people who support them. There are jokes about forgetting important people and occasionally a musical “hook” designed to drag them off of center stage. My recent, personal award experience, however, makes me think of Groundhog Day — not the movie with Andie MacDowell and Bill Murray, but the actual day.

It's summer in north Florida, but I was deep in my best imitation of a hibernating groundhog. Click To Tweet

Not long ago, the incoming president of FAPA (the Florida Authors and Publishers Association) came to speak to our local writers’ group. After an informative presentation about a new venue for sales, she talked about a training collaboration with the Amelia Island Book Festival. She also told us about FAPA’s national book awards and the coming deadline. After the meeting, she engaged me in conversation and encouraged me to submit. “We need more non-fiction,” she said. “Who doesn’t?” I thought.

And then I went back into my burrow.

I worked on a big website and a multi-author project. I pulled up the award application and ignored it some more. I purged a ton of paper. I nested deeper into my office space and did some planning. It was summer in Florida, but I was deep in my best imitation of a hibernating groundhog.

Then I applied.


I think it is important to support my peers and felt good about donating my entry fee to an organization that supports authors and literacy. As far as I knew, that was the end of that.

Hotel ballrooms, playing dress-up, small talk and schmoozing are all outside of my comfort zone. Click To Tweet

You see, while some will dress in costume to promote their work, there are legions of us who would rather be home — writing or researching. It’s not because we are unfriendly. Many of us are introverts. That doesn’t mean we are shy: it means that being in a large group of people drains every bit of our social energy. We need to re-charge in private, in our personal burrows. Like Punxsutawney Phil.

When I was notified that TICA (that’s what we call The Inner Critic Advantage around here) would receive a medal, I was grateful that my friend Nancy Blanton, author of  Irish historical fiction, was also at the top of her category. I knew once I committed to her, I would have to go. And it would be fun.

Traveling to somewhere I’ve been before… hotel ballrooms…. playing dress-up…. schmoozing… all outside my comfort zone.

Authors and publishers in person are a lot like the online version: warm, encouraging, funny, and… Click To Tweet

But guess what? An in-person group of authors and publishers is a lot like an online version: warm, encouraging, funny, and supportive. We swapped tips and wished one another well. We applauded the success of each of our peers, across numerous categories. And, thanks to the loving attention of the FAPA board? Even in heels, not a single one of us fell flat on our faces while crossing the stage.

Friends keep asking how I feel and I can’t help thinking about all those who make writing possible. I’m thinking about those who help me grow and improve. And those who give the swift kick in the butt beta read and proof read and answer Facebook questions that don’t really look like research. I’ve got a long list.

More than anything, I feel grateful. Humble and inspired to do more. So I’d like to thank the Academy… and get back into my burrow, be quiet, and to get to work.

 

Who’s in your personal Academy?

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 August 9, 2017  Posted by  Inner Critic, Self care, Thinking 10 Responses »
Jul 262017
 
KISS

Use social media to share the love.

Has social media ever had you fretting about the difference between a ‘friend’ or a ‘fan’?  A group or a page?  Wished your ‘dashboard’ would get back in the car where it belongs?

When I had Amazon free days a small group of friends dug in and helped spread the word. During that three-day period, they convinced so many people to take advantage of the free download that The Inner Critic Advantage reached #15 on Kindle’s self-help list. Not bad for an unknown author, eh? Hooray for good friends!

And that’s the real point: not to brag but to let you know that, with nothing more than your blog comments, a social media account, some time and enthusiasm you can make a huge difference for any author, artist, business or cause that matters to you. There are a few simple things that anyone with a Facebook account can do to help an author or artist whose work they like.

Once we kick all the scary, techie voodoo stuff out of the way? Social media is simply word of mouth. Think about it… when you see a movie you like or discover a great new restaurant, what do you do? You tell your friends about it. The cool thing about social media is that now you can tell a variety of friends… who can tell their friends… who share with their friends….

I  just finished editing an article for a friend. He wrote about setting boundaries and zealously protecting our writing time. The drive to connect with you wakes us up at dark o’clock.If you think about it, writers walk a funky line: we need to withdraw from our real-life loved ones in order to do the thing that connects us to… you. And, with luck, a lot of people like you… people we haven’t connected with yet.

Your social media accounts can help you focus and express your gratitude.

So, if you’ve read us, know us or love us? Tell your friends. And to help you remember? And you’re cool… so do it with FLAIR:

* Friend, fan, or follow. Whether you use Facebook to connect with your grandparents or Instagram to give us moment-to-moment updates, you might be surprised to find your favorite author or musician on your favorite social media platform. (And most people share different content on each available outlet.) Each platform has a “search” function. Look around. Follow accounts that interest you.

* Like and leave a comment! We love hearing from you — even if it’s only an Instagram heart or a Facebook thumbs up. Remember, any kind of art requires a lot of solitude. A lot. When I find myself editing for hours after everyone else has gone to bed,  a little encouragement goes a long, long way.

* Answer and amplify. Did “your” musician ask a question on Twitter? Did your author use Facebook to ask for feedback on a title? Most of the time, if they (we) do that, it’s not a marketing ploy. We want your input. Could you please take 45 seconds to answer the question? (Also, guess what? Posts with lots of attention generate more attention. It’s how things “go viral.”)

* Introduce and inspire. I don’t know about you but, frequently my online reading brings me to stories of everyday heroes. The guy who organizes kids to mow lawns for single moms and the elderly. The person who distributes dog food to those in need. The cop who went on a child abuse call and ended up adopting the child he rescued. Instead of complaining about how the media doesn’t cover enough good news? BECOME the media. Raise the vibration. Share those good news stories as far and wide as you can. We’ve got the tools to make it easier than it has ever been. And we need them.

* Review or recommend. Read a good book lately? Take a few minutes, hop on over to Amazon or GoodReads and leave a review. (This is one place that it’s a really BAD idea to say you know the author. We’ll talk about that later.) Ask your local librarian to look into ordering it. Suggest it to a teacher or book club.

It may sound like a lot but it’s simple. Social media is about relationships and one way to be a good friend is to do good things for your friends. To share the good stuff.

I’ll see you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, right?

***

Andrea Patten is the author of  The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head a little book full of big ideas about how — and why — you can learn to love “that voice.”   The Inner Critic Advantage is now available on Amazon.

 

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Jul 122017
 

By now we all know that Wonder Woman possesses superhuman strength and speed.What are YOUR super powers?

Ellen Elwell has some Mom marketing mojo under her superwoman cape, and Linda Joy’s Visionary Female Authors all seem to have some special magic related to women and their personal power. But, in my humble opinion, none of us can hold a candle to Mattisa Moorer, also known as Kerstin’s Mom.

Shortly after Kerstin was born, she was diagnosed with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, Hip Dysplasia and lung-threatening Scoliosis. When she was 13, she weighed just 40 pounds, necessitating a permanent GI (feeding) tube.  Almost three years later, after multiple surgeries, she is a healthy 80 pounds, but will never be able to walk, talk, or take care of herself.

The greatest act of faith some days is to simply get up and face another day. - Amy Gatliff Click To Tweet

On a typical day, Mattisa and Kerstin pile in and out of their 16-year-old SUV countless times as they go to work, run errands, or visit with family members.

Even more important, are the non-stop appointments with Kerstin’s doctors, therapists, and other medical specialists. They live in a small, rural town, so no trip is “nearby.” The closest cities are  Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham – 35, 45 and 125 miles away respectively. On “appointment days” they can easily add 250 miles to an odometer that already reflects more than  300,000 miles of back-breaking work. It’s tired — and is not equipped with a wheelchair lift.

Mattisa lifts her now 80-pound daughter into and out of her car seat all day long. It’s a difficult and frightening task: multiple surgeries fused Kerstin’s spine, and a bad jolt could put her back in Children’s Hospital of Alabama.

They are in desperate need of a newer vehicle with a wheelchair lift. But, as Mattisa says, “buying one is a million miles away from our “budget.” I’m a single mom with a limited income. I have a part-time job that lets me keep Kerstin with me; her medical needs just don’t leave enough hours in the week to work full-time. A wheelchair-accessible van would answer most of our prayers and be, literally, a life-saving miracle for Kerstin.”

I “met” Mattisa and Kerstin by way of my long-time Twitter-friend Ellen Elwell. Like many of you, Ellen and I share a passion for helping moms who face extra obstacles. Ellen wrote to ask for help creating an online “buzz” for Mattisa’s fundraising campaign.

We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced. — Malala Y. Click To Tweet

Being a parent is rarely easy, but can you imagine lifting an 80-pound girl in and out of a broken-down, 16-year-old, broken-down van all day, every day, year in and year out?

Mattisa and Kerstin desperately need a van with a wheelchair lift. It would change their lives more than you can imagine.

In her note to me, Ellen was clear this was not a request for money. Maybe it should be: Can we find 1,000 people to chip in $30 each?

Our power is in our ability to decide. — B. Fuller #wheelchairvanforkirsten Click To Tweet

This is an incredible opportunity to reach out with love and any super power you may possess: share this story with your followers, contribute $5 and ask others to do the same, write your own blog post about the power of sisterhood, share a great idea, connect Ellen or Mattisa with a foundation or a creative and generous auto dealer, or help spread the hashtag #wheelchairvanforkerstin.

The possibilities are endless. Let’s combine our super powers and see what kind of miracles we can make.

Mattisa’s GoFundMe Page http://bit.ly/2qU4MoY #wheelchairvanforkirsten Click To Tweet

 

 

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 July 12, 2017  Posted by  Parenting, Special Topics 8 Responses »
Jun 282017
 

America’s opioid crisis has become a common topic in the media and in conversations with friends. Surprisingly, much of the coverage has started to focus on families: stories about individual addicts are now being given a context and that context includes the family members who suffer right along with them. Debates about criminality versus medical condition continues to take up too much space but, just like individuals and families struggling with addiction, we can’t fix what we don’t acknowledge.

We can't fix what we don't acknowledge. #addiction #families Click To Tweet

I’m glad we’re finally talking about it. I worked in the addictions field and was part of one of the first residential treatment programs for families of people with chemical dependency issues. Addiction — in all of its forms — can be devastating to families.

And, according to a number of experts in the field, it can also come from many forms devastation in families: abuse, neglect, addiction, divorce, abandonment, and violence. Such circumstances are now being termed ACE: Adverse Childhood Experiences. And, while most people have at least one such adverse experience, those with multiples are deemed high risk for a variety of health crises ranging from addiction to heart disease. (You can get your ACE score here.)

 

Back when I was developing addiction awareness programs for parents, we used to ask, “Why do teens use drugs?” The answer? “Because they work.” What that answer assumed was common sense that is now becoming part of the mainstream awareness: people use drugs to feel better. (I know, “duh.” Right?)

Why do people need to feel better? #addiction #ACEs #opioids Click To Tweet

So why do people need to feel better? We could all fill volumes on the overwhelming pain and difficulties so many people face on a daily basis. And if we work at it together, we could probably fill an equal number of volumes about compassion, resilience, and prevention.

And, while opiate abuse has reached epidemic status, there are still simple things parents and grandparents, friends and neighbors can do for those who are closest to them.

  • Set a good example
  • Maintain rituals and
  • Incorporate spiritual practice into your family life.

As much as most of us would like to guarantee good health and success for the young people we care about, the best we can do is try to stack the odds in their favor.  Safety, security, and skills are a great place to start. Any work to decrease risk factors improves their odds.

The best we can do is try to stack the odds in their favor. #parents #prevention #opioids… Click To Tweet

In addition to creating a list of resources for families, I’ve put together this small list of resources to help families facing addiction. Please download and invite your friends to do so as well. In the meantime, please share stories about individual and community efforts that area working to enhance resilience and decrease risk. Thanks.

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 June 28, 2017  Posted by  E, Parenting, Special Topics 11 Responses »
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