Friday, January 30, 2009

Moving On...

This was a very difficult decision for me to make. I've decided that I need to leave this blog right where it is and not bring it with me to my new bloggy home, It's time to make a big change... take a massive leap of faith... and just pray it all goes well.

Over the last year, I've dealt with a lot of situations, good and bad. Through personal reflection and the support of friends, both on-line and off, I made it through a really rough patch in my life. That patch was something I had to walk through... a walk I had avoided in my denial for many years before the first step towards mental freedom. It started when someone posed the question:

"If you knew you couldn't fail, what would you do?"

The last time I answered that question, I was afraid of my answer. I knew what needed to happen... what I needed to do... but I wasn't sure I wanted to know how it would end up. I was frozen when I stopped to let myself wonder what it would look like on the other side of the transformation. I was worried about who I would lose and who I might become.

I thought of a card a friend once gave me. A butterfly in a cocoon was afraid to come out, sure that she would fall to the ground. But she was reassured by one already in flight that she would be okay and, more than okay, life was going to be beautiful. That's how I've felt this year. I had to just believe that life would be beautiful. Some things still aren't resolved. Mostly, though, I can say that my life is full of joy.

And I am ready to take flight.


Thanks to Gayle from who asked me the question again recently when we finally got to meet at the top of the city on a gloriously clear and cold night in San Diego. "If you couldn't fail, what would you do?" I don't know, I answered. "Yes, you do Sugar!" Her eyes pierced through me.

She was right... I do know.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Rock Your Blog, Mama!

Today’s Make It Happen Mama is none other than Jessica Smith, aka Jessica Knows. Jessica is my favorite blogging and social media hack. She makes life look easy, but that’s only because she’s been there done that… and now wants to share her experience with others. I had a few quick questions for Jessica plus a radio interview on this morning’s Classy Closet show. Hope you enjoy!

When you were a little girl, what did you dream of growing up to be?

I wanted to be a "business woman".  I think the movies "9-5" and "Working Girl" glamorized the idea for me.  But I knew I wanted to start a business and be successful.

Are any of your little girl dreams still woven into the woman you are now?

Heck yeah!  And I find myself surrounded by lots of women who had the same dreams (and still do!)

We see you all over the blogosphere. How do you balance your life as a mom with your life as an entrepreneur?

I try to be as flexible about things as possible and just roll with the punches.  It's hard but my husband is super supportive and that helps a lot.

Where do you blend the two sides of life together?

I just do.  What you see is what you get.  Some might advise against blending the two but in social media I think it's a must for success.

What can we expect from your new venture, Rock Your Blog?

Lots of women supporting each other and networking resulting in success!

Okay, now I have to warn you… before you listen to the replay, the first five minutes of our show was jacked up due to some technical difficulties. Jen and I could not hear each other so I just starte blabbing on about my weekend while Skyping Jen and typing "Help" to the chat room. Talk about panic! So, if you don’t mind, please ignore that part… the other 25 minutes are definitely entertaining and informative!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I wanted to post something more uplifting after that last one... something about girlfriends and how their mere presence in my home brings me back to life. It did... but I'm in one of those weird places where my mind is going off into so many different directions all at once that I can't control my thoughts or my words. I think the doctors call it PMS. Whatever.

I wonder, though... how do other people tackle their minds when they seem to be running off on their own? Any suggestions?


I'll write all about girlfriends later... there is much to be said.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Damn Questions...

The first day of being co-host at The Classy Closet radio show, Jen asked me some questions so that the regular listeners could get to know me. Sure... why not?

"What was the scariest moment in your life?"

The first and only thing that popped into my head... the one moment that I was so afraid and so panic stricken... the moment that I wake up thinking about more than I care to admit was the day that my estranged daughter walked out of the house as a toddler. She quietly woke up from a nap, and since I was busy doing silly busy work, I hadn't noticed that she had managed to reach and open the front door. When I went to wake her and saw that she was gone... Oh God... I can't describe the tight wrenching feeling in my stomach. I remember the sensation of having tunnel vision... adrenaline? blood rushing and pulsing in survival mode? I don't know, but I couldn't feel myself walking, either, and could barely hear my own voice yelling her name.

That was thirteen... maybe fourteen years ago. It's all so horribly vivid to me. Like a nightmare I can't wake up from. It scares me to this day to think of what could have happened. Then I wonder what was going through her head. Was she looking for me? Was she scared? When we found her across the street in another neighborhood playing with ducks, I was so relieved. I couldn't stop hugging her... soaking her with my tears. Nothing has ever been so scary to me.

At least it ended well that day.

Still, here I am... wondering if this will end well. Wondering when or if I'll ever see her again. When will it be okay to just have lunch together and chat. I feel that tight wrenching in my stomach when I think of the ugly words we've yelled at each other or even further back when I could've been around more... listened more... anything more... I would do anything to change it... all of it...

That's probably why that day so many years ago was the only scary moment I could recall. Maybe because I relive that awful morning every day that we don't speak. Where is she? Where is my daughter? I picture myself running to the neighbors panicking... trying to explain that she's gone... help me, please... I can't find her... and the look on their faces... the judgment... tisk tisk, now you've done it... No, I will never forget that day.

But this... this separation without end... this just might be scarier.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Querying the Query Letter Lady

Today's Make It Happen Mama is Wendy Burt-Thomas. She is a full-time freelance writer, editor and copywriter with more than 1,000 published pieces. Her third book, "The Writer's Digest Guide to Query Letters" hit stores December 2008.

1. Can you tell us about your book?

The book was a great fit for me because I'd been teaching "Breaking Into Freelance Writing" for about eight years. In the workshop, I covered a lot of what is in this book: writing query letters to get articles in magazines, to land an agent, or to get a book deal with a publisher. Since I'm a full-time freelance magazine writer and editor with two previous books, this was incredibly fun to write because it didn't require tons of research. I was lucky enough to receive lots of great sample query letters from writers and authors that I use as "good" examples in the book. I wrote all the "bad" examples myself because I didn't dare ask for contributions that I knew I'd be ripping apart!

In addition to the ins and outs of what makes a good query, the book covers things like why (or why not) to get an agent, where to find one and how to choose one; writing a synopsis or proposal; selling different rights to your work; other forms of correspondence; and what editors and agents look for in new writers.

It was really important to me that the book not be a dry, boring reference book, but rather an entertaining read (while still being chock full of information). I was thrilled that Writer's Digest let me keep all the humor.

2. Why are query letters so important?

Breaking into the publishing world is hard enough right now. Unless you have a serious "in" of some kind, you really need a great query letter to impress an agent or acquisitions editor. Essentially, your query letter is your first impression. If they like your idea (and voice and writing style and background), they'll either request a proposal, sample chapters, or the entire manuscript. If they don't like your query letter, you've got to pitch it to another agency/publisher. Unlike a manuscript, which can be edited or reworked if an editor thinks it has promise, you only get one shot with your query. If it's not fabulous, don't send it until it is.

3. You're also a magazine editor. What is your biggest gripe regarding queries?

Queries that show that the writer obviously hasn't read our publication. I'll admit that I did this when I was a new writer too – submitted blindly to any publication whose name sounded even remotely related to my topic.

4. There's an entire chapter in the book about agents. Do you think all new writers should get agents?

Probably 99% of new writers should get an agent. There are lots of reasons, but my top three are: 1) Many of the larger publishing houses won't even look at unagented submissions now; 2) Agents can negotiate better rights and more money on your behalf; 3) Agents know the industry trends, changes and staff better than you ever could.

5. You've been a mentor, coach, or editor for many writers. What do you think is the most common reason that good writers don't get published?

Poor marketing skills. I see so many writers that are either too afraid, too uniformed, or frankly, too lazy to market their work. They think their job is done when the write "the end" but writing is only half of the process. I've always told people who took my class that there are tons of great writers in the world who will never get published. I'd rather be a good writer who eats lobster than a great writer who eats hot dogs.

6. What must-read books do you recommend to new writers?

Christina Katz (author of "Writer Mama") has a new book out called "Get Known Before the Book Deal" - which is fabulous. Also, Stephen King's "On Writing" and David Morrell's "Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing." Anything by Anne Lamott or my Dad, Steve Burt.

7. What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Writing the "bad" query letters. I've read – and written! – so many horrible ones over the years that it was a little too easy to craft them. But misery loves company and we ALL love to read really bad query letters, right?

To learn more about Wendy or her three books, visit If you have a writing-related question, you can post it below.