Friday, November 30, 2012

Joplin Christmas Windows

Joplin has a window decorating contest for downtown businesses, and their city hall features a series of large window displays, some of which are animated. They unveil them all at once, and it's apparent such things are just as magical for children today as they were when such things were more common. 

Some downtown residents add to the festivities with their own decorations. These folks can look down onto the windows in city hall, which must be lovely.

Many of the downtown businesses are decorated. It's very festive and lends a wonderful feel to being in the heart of the city.

The lamp posts are all decorated, too.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Treasure from Election Class at Syracuse

At the Smalltown State of Now Conference, I learned about Election Class at Syracuse University. (website here and #electionclass on twitter) It was a college course looking at the impact of social media on elections. The class included a mock election, and it generated its own party, that featured this unique symbol.

During the Smalltown presentation, they mentioned these stickers. I immediately tweeted I needed one. J.D. Ross tweeted he'd see if he could find one for me. It arrived in the mail yesterday. How cool is that?!?!?

This beauty will have a place of honor in my office, which is where I collect all weirdly wonderful things!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Gatherings

Thanksgiving is over for 2012, but it has kicked off a few weeks of celebrating with family and friends. It's a time for remembering loved ones no longer with us at the table, and gathering new folks together.

Holidays are a wonderful opportunity to connect with people. Although it's natural to think of family, I encourage you to invite others to share your holiday tables, too.

Although I didn't spend the Thanksgiving holiday in my own home, and therefore it wasn't my place to invite anyone, I have in the past. Sharing the bounty of your holiday table is a great way to enrich your own experience. Everyone at the table brings a unique perspective that adds to the day.

Consider who in your world might be able to join us in the next few weeks.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lounging with Lanna Lee - I hope I didn't embarrass myself

A couple of weeks ago, I made a new friend - Lanna Lee, from Maine. She was in Hutchinson for the State of Now Smalltown Conference and we spent a little time together. A few things happened as a result.

1. I started seriously considering coloring my hair. Yes, I know, you listened to me whine about the gray hair until I finally bought some hair dye. Then I let it sit in the cabinet for four years without doing anything, except whining more about gray hair. But, that's not the kind of color I'm thinking of. Lanna has shocking pink hair! It is fabulous! I'm not sure I can rock it like she does, and I'm certain I don't have the guts to go all pink. But, I'm thinking I may add a little color to the ends. Then if I hate it I can cut if off. I know - no commitment - I'm weak in such matters. Lets just say I've become somewhat familiar with the splat and manic panic websites and leave it at that. However, there is no hair dye in my home at the moment.

2. I was a guest on her podcast, appropriately named, "Lounging with Lanna Lee." Generally they're about 30 minutes long. I talked about twice that long. Imagine that - me being verbose. She was kind enough to let me ramble. It was so much fun I forgot we were doing something that would be out there for the world to hear. But, now it is.  Frankly, I'm too terrified to listen to it. Goodness knows what I said. I was just talking. And then talking some more. And then some more. Lanna was just too kind to say, "uh... yeah... right... well, thanks so much..." Regardless, it's out there - now available. I'm just going to hope I didn't embarrass myself.

Listen here if you so desire:

3. Lanna reminded me how much I love interviewing people, and rambling on myself. Makes me think about reviving my old podcast. Who knows what might happen... I certainly didn't know I'd end up talking about everything from visioning retreats to my mother's death with someone I barely knew, to let people I've never even met listen in. But I did. And heaven help me, I found it fun.

See more at, including what I have now dubbed the "fun bio."

And someone please tell me I didn't embarrass myself.
(Note to self: You should probably determine if you've embarrassed yourself before you point people to the very thing where you might have embarrassed yourself.)

In that photo above that Lanna took that I shamelessly "borrowed" from her website, you can see the ADORABLE little couch you get as a gift for being on the podcast. And, she makes them herself. Love it!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Getting Your Book into Bookstores

Authors are obsessed with getting their books into bookstores. They believe this will be the key to making sales. After all, bookstores are in the business of selling books. Makes perfect sense.

Except it doesn't.

Instead of being focused on getting your book into bookstores, start thinking about getting your book into the hands of readers.

People in all kinds of businesses don't really understand who their customer is. If you're an author, your customer is the reader, not the bookstore. The bookstore is the middle-man. They may be an incredibly pleasant middle-man, and middle-men have their places, but they are not your customer. That is the reader. The reader is also their customer. As you can see, readers are really powerful entities in this equation.

I work with a number of authors, handling various public relations tasks for them from helping build a social media platform to generating their newsletters, blog posts, mailers, and other assorted chores. Many authors just want to write, and not spend time marketing. Unfortunately, that's not really very feasible these days.

You will either spend a lot of your time marketing, or hire someone else to do it, and even then it will require your attention. It's just the ugly truth of business today - any kind of business. This is acutely felt in the book industry. Unless you are a proven author with a stellar track record at a big publishing house, you are likely to be spending a lot of what used to be your writing time on marketing.

If you are an author who has decided to self publish, or work with a publishing house outside the major ones, you'd better decide marketing is your second favorite thing - right below writing. Frankly, it probably is far higher on the list than re-writing, and we all have to do that, so just dig in and enjoy.

But, I guarantee, if you create a demand for your book, bookstores will become very interested in carrying it. Despite the obstacles, if they're having potential customers walk in every day and ask about buying a copy of "Polly's Last Chance for Pomegranates," they'll beat a path to your door, or at least your inbox.

However, don't hold your breath on that one. Because those customers are likely to just order the book and have it shipped directly to them, never interacting with a bookstore. In fact, for many people, it's nearly impossible to shop at a local bookstore because there no longer is one. That's a pity, but it's the reality.

For those lucky enough to still have bookstores, please support them in any way you can. Buy books there, suggest others do the same, and give them some love. Understand that rent is high and shelf space is limited and manpower is scarce. Just having the energy to order, rotate stock, and handle business is overwhelming for many bookstores. The people who work in bookstores tend to be readers, and they can offer great suggestions for books. Maybe you want to give them a copy of your book so they're familiar with it.

I wish I had a better answer. I adore bookstores, but this post is about authors and how to get your book out into the world. Bookstores would be a wonderful, logical option except their business model is not geared to today's publishing market. So, consider how much time it will take you to swim upstream on that. And realize that while you're doing that, you're wasting energy you could be devoting to reaching your real customer, the reader.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Election Night

Tuesday night I went to a watch party for a local ordinance protecting the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people to not be fired or lose housing because of their sexual orientation. I was in favor of the ordinance because I don't see why you wouldn't want people to have basic civil rights. It did not pass. The "no" vote won 57%.

Obviously, on the same night that the first openly gay woman was elected to congress, and multiple states approved gay marriage, Hutchinson is on the wrong side of history. I was so hoping this would pass because it would signal an openness in this community.

Greg took this photo of me saying goodbye to Jon, who spearheaded the local "Vote Yes for Fairness" campaign. We were pretty sure it wasn't going to pass at that point, but we didn't know for certain. Jon is someone I really admire.

What I didn't realize at the time, is that the local newspaper photographer also captured the moment and it went out on the AP, although it didn't run in our local paper. A friend sent me this link to a story in the Wichita Eagle. It could have been in other papers, too.

Before the election, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper, but got it in too late. I've posted it below so you can read it if you wish.

A war has been raging in Hutchinson the last few months. Like everyone else, I have taken a side. Rarely do I feel my position is the only correct one, but in this case, we must support civil rights for everyone, or they’re not certain for anyone.

It was 50 years ago that the US was involved with another civil rights movement. I don't know what I would have done then, but I hope it's what I'm doing now - standing on the side of fairness for everyone.

I’ve been thanked for supporting this issue when it doesn’t personally affect me. But I contend it affects all of us. To be a growing, thriving community we must extend basic rights to every citizen.

Hutchinson, do you want to be mired in the past with the Bull Conner mentality, or are you ready to create a better world? You have a chance to be extraordinary. Please take it. Vote “yes” for fairness today.

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Monday, November 05, 2012


I spent today at the computer for the most part, trying to get some projects underway and some wrapped up, while contemplating new things.

I just got word that a grant proposal I had written for an oral history project was not funded. Not great news on the surface, but I can only assume there must be something else wonderful I am supposed to do with that time and energy. Who knows what that might be.

The last few months have been an exercise in trusting the universe. I have to say, the universe has been doing a far more spectacular job with daily life than I've managed in the last few decades. In the process, I'm learning it's wise to trust, to prepare, to work, and above all - to be grateful for the opportunities that come my way.

I feel so incredibly blessed. Work I really enjoy keeps finding its way to me, and other fun surprises I could never have foreseen, also arrive with regularity. Meanwhile, new projects loom on the horizon that will offer even more flexibility to my life.

I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey. Your encouragement, kindnesses and support are appreciated. I feel certain the next chapters will be even more thrilling and I hope you'll share in the joy.
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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Religious Freedom

"Religious Freedom" is a phrase often bandied about these days. As best I can tell it refers to the idea that people will not able to practice their religion as they wish if some unknown, unnamed, and highly unlikely event occurs. This nebulous events seems to be most often connected to a politician people believe to have far more power than I've ever witnessed from any politician of any party at any time.

The only way this is an actual problem is if your "religious freedom" prevents other people from exercising the freedom to live their lives as they wish. No one is trying to keep you from attending the religious community of your choice, at the time of your choosing, and doing as you wish within the confines of it. Now, if you happen to be sexually abusing altar boys then, no, the fact that you're doing it within the walls of a church does not make it okay. It's still illegal. But you are welcome to gather, pray and worship as you wish, outside of these rather major issues.

However, you are not welcome to try and impose your religious beliefs on others. That is where the difficulty seems to come in. Those who are constantly worried about "religious freedom" are mostly concerned about how they will force others to share their viewpoints. Much like yelling "fire" in a crowed theater, this is over the line.

Nothing has really changed in the last few decades along these lines, except that fewer people believe in God. I can't help but think it's from watching His professed followers exercise their "religious freedom" to spread their personal hatreds in His name.

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Friday, November 02, 2012

Quote of the Day

When you feel fear... If you act on it, it will create pain.
--- Gary Zukav

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