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Past Posts

I'm Going to BlogHer 14! Register here.

My 10 Years of BlogHer Conferences

10 years ago this summer, I attended a first-time conference called BlogHer. I don't remember exactly how I heard about it, or how I decided to fly to a city I'd never been to before, for a conference full of people I didn't know. I had no idea what to expect. I left reading a handful of new blogs, and with a connection to what would become an online community, a massive annual conference, a support system for women running their own businesses, and a voice on the political scene.

And yes, my employer for the past 6.5 years.

This summer, I attended my 10th BlogHer conference. My room at the Hilton was decorated with images of a Smith Corona typewriter. Not the one I learned to type on, then wrote horrible teenage novels on later, but its cousin.

I thought it was funny. My journey with blogging for the last 10 years has taught me that I do NOT want to be a professional writer - a discovery that would shock my 10-22 year old self who wanted nothing else. Figuring it out, though, freed me from the feeling there was something I should get back to, something I should do differently, something I should do better. When I let it go, blogging became a lot more fun.

I don't blog about conferences well. I can't digest the high points of sessions and summarize them back out for readers. I don't take a lot of pictures of all the learning and fun that goes on so y'all can live vicariously.

But I wanted to take this occasion to give you one piece of advice related to blogging.

The closing keynote at BlogHer this year was about The Intersection of Race, Gender, Feminism and the Internet. I was blown away by the amazing women on stage, just as I knew I would be. And as I'm sitting here reflecting on the conference, I'd have the same advice for bloggers as I gave near the end of that very first conference, nervously taking the mic in the big room full of everyone:

Read blogs written by people who are different from you.

Their blogging is a gift to you, sharing their lives and experiences. Take advantage of it. If your heart is open, it will make you a better person. Hopefully that's what it's done for me, though I'll be judged by my actions, not my words in any blog post.

Need a place to start? Click on that link above for the keynote and spend some time with those women's writing.

You won't be disappointed.

8 Kids' Books About Art and Creativity That Adults Can Love Too

My son has always loved to paint, draw, and collage... none of which is in my repertoire. Did I tell you I got kicked out of art school? (Not that I had actually signed up to go, but that's a story for another post.) But I love my kiddo's art, and so I've spent quite a bit of time finding story books to validate and encourage that interest. Here are some of our favorite art and creativity themed children's picture books. If you have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to leave them in the comments!

(If you're new here, you can also get caught upon previous picture book posts: friendship, dogs, pirates, bedtime, awesome girls, robots, magic, and gardens, and cats, superheroes, love and marriage, knights, family, science fiction, food and cooking, and kids' poetry books. Does this post use affiliate links? Yes! More about that if you're not familiar.)

Metal Man by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Paul Hoppe. I love this book SO MUCH. Devon loves hanging out with Mitch, a welder in his neighborhood who creates art out of junk. One day, Mitch invites Devon to create something of his own, and gently pushes him to realize his vision instead of holding back and being afraid. I can't stop looking at the art, especially the shots where Hoppe uses perspective in such an interesting way.

Continue reading 8 Kids' Books About Art and Creativity That Adults Can Love Too.

5 Monster Comics I Adore

I love a good monster story. Strange beasts lurking in the darkness and and the people who hunt them? Sign me up! I also love comics, so here are a few of my favorite comics that involve monsters. All have been collected in trade paperback format, so you don't have to track down individual comic book issues. And it's always a good idea to check your local library to see what's in their graphic novel collection!

(This joins my lists of zombie comics with kick-ass female leads, comics about magic, post-apocalyptic comics, comics about race and social justice, and all-ages comics as Things You Should Read. (Does this post use affiliate links? Yep! More about that if you're not familiar.)

First up, B.P.R.D. Volume 9: 1946 and its sequels. Mike Mignola is the creator and author, joined by by a changing team across the series. Writers Joshua Dysart, John Arcudi, and Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. Art by Paul Azaceta, Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, and Max Fuimara. Colors by Nick Filardi and Dave Stewart. Letters by Clem Robins.

Hellboy fans will know instantly that B.P.R.D. stands for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. The B.P.R.D. 1946+ series focuses on Professor Broom, Hellboy's adoptive father. It begins in post-war Germany, with the investigation of a Nazi Occult Bureau project called Vampir Sturm.

Unfortunately, this investigation requires cooperation from the Russians, including an actual demon who leads the Soviet arcane studies division. Varvara the demon appears as a young, beautiful doll almost, or an extremely creepy Shirley Temple. And she's a little too interested in Hellboy.

Continue reading 5 Monster Comics I Adore.

6 Kids' Books About Food and Cooking That Adults Can Love Too

When a young child loves a book, they're likely to wheedle any older person into reading it with them. Parents, babysitters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends, older siblings and cousins - no one is safe from the 26th repetition of the cherished story! So for all those adults (and anyone giving gifts to children) here's the next installment in my "Kids Books That Adults Can Love Too" series: books about food and cooking.

(If you're new here, you can also get caught upon previous picture book posts: friendship, dogs, pirates, bedtime, awesome girls, robots, magic, and gardens, and cats, superheroes, love and marriage, knights, family, science fiction, and kids' poetry books. Does this post use affiliate links? Yes! More about that if you're not familiar.)

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert is great as a board book, to look at with very young kids. The paintings are absolutely beautiful. I always found it a respite from cartoony children's illustrations when I desperately needed something softer and more complex to enjoy. Older children who are into art will probably appreciate the paperback version because the pictures are bigger and easier to study.

Continue reading 6 Kids' Books About Food and Cooking That Adults Can Love Too.

What's hiding in your camera? Time to let it out!

I've never been a big photographer. Back in 2011 I took a photography class one morning and started getting a little tiny clue about the rule of thirds, and what some of the options did on my old point and shoot. Then it broke.

Since then I've acquired an Android phone with a pretty good camera, contemplated quite a few photography tutorials, and imagined that one day I'd put serious effort into learning more about this stuff so I could be good at it.

But in the meantime I took a bunch of pictures and never showed them to anyone.

Pictures I really liked.

I didn't figure they were very good technically, or the kind of pictures anybody else would be interested in. (You may have noticed me sneaking a few into various blog posts here and there "to liven them up." I didn't think it was worth posting them unless I could hang them on a narrative hook.)

Because apparently blogging for my own enjoyment, and celebrating my own small victories, has become a foreign concept to me?

Silly girl...!

So here's some of what's been hiding in my camera.

What's in yours?


The truth comes out

Me: It's so interesting to me that you always want breakfast right away when you get up, these days.

Boy Detective: What do you mean?

Me: Remember how you never used to be hungry first thing in the morning? It took you quite a while to be ready for breakfast. So you'd go off and build Legos or whatever?

Boy Detective: Oh THAT! That was just because I wanted to play too much.

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THANK YOU!

Thanks to Chris Giarrusso for the title "Planet Jinxatron." Buy his books!

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