The Best Writing Conference Ever!

I’ve never attended a writer’s conference, mostly because they’re expensive and my OCD makes it hard to travel at times. However, I know a lot of people find them very beneficial so I decided to establish my own.

conference

Description: A conference for writers and bloggers of any age and genre to connect, learn and cuddle—not wrestle—with the creative demons they have. The only prerequisite is a sense of humor and a willingness to walk down to the corner gas station to use the bathroom, as I like to keep my stuff clean.

Note: shoes come off at the door.

Ticket: Price includes unlimited sessions and access to my deck, but see above about bladder evacuation options.

Topics Covered: Everything from dealing with writer’s block to explaining to friends and family that your blog post/novel is not based on them (even though it probably is.)

Here are just a few of the courses offered:

Workspace Feng Shui

Writers know that everything has to be perfect when procrastinating waiting for inspiration to hit. Learn to prioritize these tasks, such as what size Post-Its to write your to-do list on, where that plant looks best, color organization of pens, snack drawer replenishment and paperclip sculpture and art.

Narcissism in the Age of the Internet

Attendees will be given the tools needed to make their tweets fake trophy-worthy, their Facebook updates ring with confidence/insecurity and their selfies flattering in the light of the bathroom. They will also be given tips on how to buy fans/followers and Photoshop their profile pictures to an almost unrecognizable image.

Advanced Blog and Book Skimming

Are you always a subhead and never a headline? That’s probably because you’re actually writing and not including viral graphics, lists or headlines such as, “You’re Doing Parenting Wrong!” or “What Celebrity Just Shit Their Pants?”

People like quick and easy things to read, so students will learn to make their dumbed down posts shine without the restraints of writing in complete sentences or proofreading. This session will conclude with a series of BuzzFeed quizzes to determine which pasta dish every attendee was in a past life.

Typo Trauma 101*

Play it off as funny? Run away and start a new life? Learn how to deal with the angst of finding a typo more than .5 seconds after something has been posted or published somewhere you can’t go back and edit.

*The support group will meet immediately after this session. Carbs will be provided.  

Rejection Rebound

Participants will learn to go from query and submission to dealing with the “nice no,” the “hell no” and the “what the hell do they know?” of rejection. Everyone is asked to print out and bring their rejection letters to use for decoupaging a complimentary flask as part of art therapy sessions. 

Conclusion: The conference will end with a couchgating hour—dress code is yoga pants or jeans—and an assortment of beverages essential for any successful writer, including but not limited to: water, tea, coffee, wine and a selection of liquor such as James and the Giant Peach Schnapps, Fifty Shades of Grey Goose and Tequila Mockingbird.

After which we will join in a circle, sing “Kumbaya” and lament how nobody “gets” us. It promises to be The Best Writing Conference Ever.

(T-shirts will be sold at the door.)

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A Cease and Desist Letter to the Easter Bunny

Hello Hare,

Thank you for taking time out of your mall appearance today—I know it’s a big time of year for you—but this really can’t wait any longer.

easter-bunnypost

It has been brought to our collective attention as an overly politically correct society on a mission to banish all fun that your existence is causing some, shall we say, “issues” I would like to address.

First of all, let’s talk about this egg situation.

I realize it’s tradition for children to color and look for these Easter eggs — henceforth to be known as “Spring Spheres” or “Ornamental Orbs”— but unless we know that these are free range, organic eggs produced from chickens given nothing but a diet of gold-dusted non-GMO corn and poultry pedicures, I’m afraid this practice will have to be stopped. We simply can’t have that danger around.

While a great alternative might have been plastic eggs, there is no way to guarantee that the plastic in those eggs would be 100 percent free of BPA and polycarbonate epoxy resins. As you can understand, that would pose an equally dangerous risk.

Speaking of the eggs—excuse me, Spring Spheres/Ornamental Orbs—can we talk a bit about marketing?

Now I realize that you do some TV work on the side and that the “Cadbury” commercial was your breakout performance, but it is perpetrating false ideals about the reproductive practices of mammals.

Despite what your cavity causing, sugar pushing Satan—a.k.a. Cadbury—might think is cute in a commercial, rabbits do not lay eggs. Chickens lay eggs. This spring celebration should not have to include a discussion on the sexual cycles of Peter Cottontail or a lesson on where bunnies come from.

Unless the commercial can be changed to directly reflect the egg being excreted from the chicken—it can even be wearing those fake bunny ears—it is doing much more harm than good. Perhaps you could see about recasting that part and find work off screen as a fluffer.

Sticking with the candy, I think it goes without saying that chocolate is no longer part of this holiday unless it is of the fair trade, organic, gluten and sugar-free variety. Jelly beans? I think not. This brazen bastardization of a “bean” is the greatest insult to the (organic, pesticide-free) vegetable community since French freedom fries.

And Peeps? Really? Marshmallow “chicks”—a term some women find offensive—made of colored dies and sugared spray foam insulation? That shit has to stop.

So to wrap this up, I would like to remind you that even though you’re no longer needed to celebrate this day of spring honoring a non-denominational higher power with non-confrontational new symbols of tradition, you still have options.

Look into teaming up with a magician and be pulled out of a hat, maybe check out Pinterest and see if there are any crafting trends you could sell your fur for, look into taking up “hip hop.” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the clever reference, although I am not implying you dabble in that terribly offensive “gangsta rap.”)

All that we ask is that you eliminate yourself from this holiday and leave us to celebrate with empty baskets but open minds! If not, we’ll have your foot on a keychain in no time.

Sincerely,

An Overly Politically Correct Society on a Mission to Banish All Fun

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Moms Are Nuts

I missed two of my mom’s calls the other day, which meant I assumed the helicopter flying over my house was part of the search crew she called.

Now don’t get me wrong—I love my mom a lot.

After all, she did raise me in the days before she could take to social media and complain about how hard it is to be a mom. In fact, she even did it while going through 13 spinal surgeries and a host of other issues and still managed to raise a highly intelligent dog and then me, a semi-functional/slightly-neurotic daughter who uses her mom for blog fodder from time to time.

Well, this is one of those times.

Why? Because all moms are nuts. Maybe not “dress a dead cat up in a bright red sweater before burying it in the backyard” or “force her daughter to bring a traveling gnome to the theater” nuts like my mom, but in one way or another, they’re all nuts.

If you need proof, I present to you this exciting new book you can buy.

3dCover

In fact, you can buy EXTRA copies of it and send it to all the moms out there for Mother’s Day as proof that even the moms of Emmy winners and TV personalities are sometimes bat shit crazy.

The fancy description:

Moms are Nuts is a collection of stories about mothers, grandmothers, mother-in-laws and mother figures who have crossed the paths of some of the wittiest writers and comedians. Laugh your way through 26 brilliant stories… some of which may sound waaaay too familiar.”

And then there’s this from the back cover:

“Emmy winners, magazine editors, comedians, TV personalities, bestselling authors and social media superstars team up to bring you a laugh-out-loud book not about being a mom, but about having a mom, grandmom or mom-figure. And while it’s not OK for someone else to make yo-momma jokes about your momma, it is perfectly healthy even downright hilarious to find the humor in your own upbringing. In fact, these writers highly recommend it. So if you think your mom is nuts, pull up a chair. You’re in good company.”

Who are some of these people?

Only the likes of Gloria Fallon, Suzy Soro, Amy Vansant and Wendi Aarons, among a bunch of other people with a well-established resume of success despite—and even possibly as a result of—the mother figure in their lives.

3DBackCover

Oh yeah. I’m in there, too.

For all of the details, you can check out the website and then head on over to Amazon to buy the ALL the copies in paperback and Kindle! Not only will you laugh and feel a bit normal, but you can add a copy of “I Just Want to be Alone” and have your Mother’s Day shopping done.

And if you have wrapping paper left over from Christmas, use that to wrap it up in. This will show your mom that not only do you have a sense of humor, but also a deep devotion to recycling and being earth-friendly.

Win-win!

So if you love your mother, be sure to pick this book up. Either as a token of your affection, or as a way to distract yourself when she’s 15 minutes into making a “long story short” on the phone.

You’ll thank me later.

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You Get What You Pay For

Right now a bunch of people are getting ready for the  Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, which means right now I’m secretly hating that I’m not one of the people getting ready for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

To add to that rejection, I figured today would be a good time to share the essay I entered in their writing contest that I didn’t win.  But really, we’re ALL WINNERS because I’m posting it here instead. Right? Right?!?!

cheap

Although I’m single, I’ve had several long relationships with Ziploc bags I rinse and reuse. You could say that in some circuitous way, my grandma has set me up for these questionable couplings.

She was an outspoken woman whose kitchen at any point in time was an abstract art gallery of repurposed and pilfered goods—washed and dried paper plates, aluminum foil smoothed out and reused until the tears couldn’t be (off-brand) taped up, and sugar and salt packets slipped in her purse from the local Juicy Lucy (two burgers for $1!)

This was a woman who believed that once meat was cooked, it didn’t need to be refrigerated and could be left out on the hot countertop until it was either consumed or it disintegrated.

(I once arrived at her condo, Florida sun blazing down, to find a picnic basket on her porch from her neighbor, the contents of which being potato salad, roast beef and cheesecake. “I found my dinner!” she triumphantly cried.)

What did need to be refrigerated—or more specifically, kept in large (off-brand) plastic zipper bags in the freezer—were ketchup and mustard packets from various fast food establishments that always gave out “free condiments.”

For most people, the assumption would be that a packet of sugar or ketchup was available for your convenience to use at that time. My grandma wasn’t “most people.”

I clearly recall an instance when I was younger in which we went to McDonald’s for ice cream. As we pulled up to the pick-up window, she leaned over the driver’s seat and gave strict orders to the window worker to include the condiments, which I naively assumed to be the optional nuts for her sundae.

In retrospect, I should have been prepared to hear her demand not the nuts, but the free packets of ketchup and mustard to add to her collection back home.

“Free condiments means free condiments,” she said with a chortle. “When you’re paying (99 cents) for each ice cream, you better get what you pay for.”

She wasn’t alone in her frugality though. These sundaes were purchased after a dinner during “Early Happy Hour” when drinks were 2-for-1 at most chain restaurants—as long as you ordered both drinks at the same time.

That meant when you walked into the restaurant during that time, you would be greeted with senior citizens pushing their oxygen tanks off to the side of their booths to make room for their two Rum and Cokes.

I never witnessed anyone slipping a few extra limes into their bags to take home, but there were rumors that Gram’s neighbor snuck out a steak knife from Outback.

I guess you get what you pay for.

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Dear Abby

Between you and me, I would love to have a job that required me to write a humor and/or advice column every week, kind of like Carrie Bradshaw minus the fashion sense, sexual escapades and nicotine addiction.

dearabby

However, no one seems to want to pay me a salary — or anything at all — to do this because life is unfair and TV lies.

But I’m not giving up on the dream to offer unsolicited advice, and thanks to weirdos who Google strange things that lead to my blog, I can pretend that I’m the next generation of “Dear Abby.”

Along with random search terms such as “sugar-coated bullshit,” “rabid badger with a banana clip,” “somebody just sneezed in the living room and it was grandpa” and “I thought it was you but it was the wine,” I also get some questions in my spam folder that obviously need to be answered.

How do you tell if old people are addicted to bingo?

For your own safety—and that of geriatric gamers—it is very important to look for the signs of this affliction. Luckily, I have experience that I can share.

As I’ve stated before, these people have been through wars, marriages, children, Depressions and depressions. Now they no longer worry about recessions as much as they do if Gertrude next door stole the extra Nutter Butter from their snack tray.

My point? They’ve got nothing to lose and they play for keeps. Or rather, they play for candy, which along with popcorn is the geriatric equivalent of crack.

Signs of addiction include hoarding the Bingo chips/cards that have no inherent value, distracting opponents by faking physical ailments like “my oxygen tube is kinked!” sabotaging fellow players’ lucky charms—creepy Troll dolls, figurines, a favorite snot rag, etc. and mumbling things in what they claim to be “Binglish.”

Does sticking feathers up your butt make you a chicken?

First of all, you get points for the “Fight Club” reference, but those points are immediately deducted for taking this quote literally. In a metaphorical sense, it means that you shouldn’t try so hard to be something that you’re not. Not only is it a lot of work, you’ll probably look incredibly stupid in the process.

But in case you’re a freak, I’ll address the literal sense and say that sticking feathers up your butt will result in you looking like a pornographic peacock, not a chicken. If that’s how you roll, more power to you, but perhaps you should pick up a book now and then.

If I were a turkey, where would I be?

My guess would probably be that you would be on a farm, glad you’re not a chicken in the presence of the person who asked the question up above.

Is it bad if you go through a car wash with Vanilla Ice?

Interesting. I would say that if Ice offers to take you through a car wash, you shouldn’t turn down the offer. The car wash isn’t cheap unless you go through the $5 Happy Hour special, at which point I would ask Ice to also take you out for a drink and to include that footage in whatever low-ratings reality show he is gearing up to debut. Be sure to drop in my name.

Have the squirrels found you yet? You should run.

Do you know something I don’t? Crap. Perhaps I should take your advice.

Until next time, my friends!

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The Nose Knows

When I saw a woman in front of me at the store the other day smell the packs of gum to help her decide which kind to buy, I felt like I found a new friend.

Why?

Because a majority of the decisions I make on a daily basis are at least partially the result of the “smell test.” My first instinct when given something—be it food, a puppy or even a candle specifically labeled “unscented”—is to smell it.

I’m just a “smelly” person.

But lucky for me—and especially lucky for YOU—the ladies over In The Powder Room accept my neurosis and even encourage it by publishing my post on this very topic.

So clear out those sinuses, click the link and go read about how if you see me spraying an air freshener in a store aisle and quickly sticking my nose in the mist, smelling a fake plant or subtly sniffing the cute guy in the produce aisle, there’s no reason to be alarmed.

smell

The nose knows, my friends.

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For Love of the Game

If you know me at all, you know that one thing I love is my baseball. Every year around this time I wax poetic about Opening Day, and this year will be no exception.

baseball

But don’t worry.

Although I’m repeating myself, this post isn’t going to be filled with statistics and names or metaphors about the game that I’ve loved all my life. If you don’t love baseball, I won’t try and convince you. If you do love baseball, you don’t need me to tell you why.

But for me, it’s more than a game.

It is just a bat and a ball, but it can unite a city, a state, a family with one swing of that bat or one pitch of that ball. It can make grown men cry, and sometimes, even a 32-year-old woman who usually only cries for road kill and good food spilled on the floor.

It’s remembering summers by games that were played—the crack of the bat, the stitch on a ball, the smell of the grass in the field. It’s looking forward to spring training in the dead of winter when every other joy seems frozen beneath layers of ice and of snow—especially given the historically horrible winter that we’ve endured.

It’s being able to identify players by their batting stance or jersey number and feeling an instant connection with strangers wearing clothes with the old English “D” for my Detroit Tigers.

For me, it’s an escape.

Sports in general afford me the opportunity to forget about the mundane concerns of everyday life for a while and to spend time with others who take pleasure in enjoying a similar break. It’s a reminder that I can still feel excited about something when a lot of the time I’m just numb.

For me, it’s family.

It’s a 92-year-old woman who can’t always remember who I am, but who might tell me about a game in 1948 with a clarity time hasn’t stolen quite yet.

I know this year will be different.

Gram doesn’t understand the games on TV and can’t comprehend what we’re watching. Selfishly, this makes me sad because I feel like we lost our big “thing”—the talks about players, the gripes about calls, the excitement of recaps and scores.

Yet watching the game with her takes me right back to being sprawled on her living room floor as a kid, watching each game on mute while Ernie Harwell came through on the radio. (But not lying underneath the ceiling fan, as I was warned the goddamn thing would inevitably fall on me and crush me to death. Fuzzy memories.)

For me, it relates to everyday life.

The goal of every single hitter is to always make it back home. There are daily ups and downs, success and adversity. You can fail miserably one day and be the hero the next day. Slumps happen, but you have to let go of the past and look forward and remember the goal—and that you’re not in this thing by yourself.

It’s tradition and memories tied up with box scores and hopefulness mixed in with stats.

Sure, it’s a “pastime. ” But it’s my favorite way to pass that time.

Play ball.

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