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Friday, June 12, 2015

#BookCon2015 Is In The Bag

BookCon Schwag: Free Totes
BookCon 2015 is in the bag. Literally. Fine, not literally as these bags are clearly empty. BookCon is spread around my house in organized looking piles. Now that I'm finally getting around to writing my BookCon round up blog, maybe I'll officially put all the schwag away. Or, maybe I'll do laundry. Or exercise. Or write a novel. Anything is possible!

What is BookCon? It is book lovers paradise! Every year the industry trade show, Book Expo America (BEA), comes to New York and gives industry insiders the opportunity to show their goods to each other and talk shop. But it's not generally open to the public for those of us that are fans and/or aspiring industry insiders (I think there is an option but if I recall it was cost prohibitive). Last year, they introduced BookCon which coincided with BEA to give fans a chance to get in on the action. An exhibit hall full of publishers, authors, bookstores, and other industry reps -- just begging you to take their free books (like bags full of advanced reader copies!). Book signings galore. And author panels. Like I said, book lovers paradise.

My sister's haul. I probably got more than twice the amount because mine included books and schwag for the kids. 
Now that I am a New York City suburbanite (of sorts), there was no reason not to go to BookCon this year! So early Saturday morning a couple weeks back my sister and I hopped on the ferry and headed to the city.

As I anticipated when I purchased the tickets last month, BookCon was energetic and inspirational for a wannabe author like myself. Every author was humble and human (go figure). And even though we missed out on Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak (damn young people waiting in line since 2 am), we managed to see everything we wanted and then some.

I don't think I can recap it all without losing you. But I'll give you some highlights.

BookCon was exactly what I needed. I do not need another $300 writer's conference telling me about Aristotle's three act structure or Freytag's plot pyramid. I do not need to hear about writing concise dialogue and deleting adverbs. I do not need to hear about characterization. I do not need to hear about finding my voice. I needed to hear successful writers talk about how they found their voices, how they had the confidence to listen, how they got from where I sit to where they sit. I needed to hear from authors I admire to just effing do it already....

I needed to hear Jen Sincero say our desire is all we have. It's what we are. Do what you are supposed to be doing in this world. Invest in yourself.

I needed to hear Rainbow Rowell say just write the story you want to tell don't think about the genre or the audience. Please yourself not your audience.

If not now, when? You only have this life, why censor yourself.

I needed to hear Candace Bushnell talk about working for three years on a project never knowing if anyone will ever publish it.

I needed to hear Jodi Picoult and her young (and I mean like can't drink young) daughter talk about just writing everyday no matter how bad it is.

I needed to hear Judy Blume talk about how she is certain that other writers could probably tell the same story better than her.

I needed to hear them talk about the creative process, the crappy drafts, and the days when they feel like they have no talent, but how they get through it...

I needed BookCon.

Author Panels!
Too many to choose from! Each one amazing. So inspirational to hear authors I admire talk about writing, their creative process, getting published, successes, and failures.

Writing and publishing with Jen Sincero, Tessa Elwood, Paige McKenzie

Rainbow Rowell

John Green talking about the film adaptation of Paper Towns

Women's Lit Panel with  Lily Koppel, Candace Bushnell, Emily Holleman, and Elin Hilderbrand

Wonderful YA Panel wth David Levithan, Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha van Leer (I like to call her Sammy), E. Lockhart, Meg Wolitzer, Jennifer Niven, and Nicola Yoon
Judy Blume and Jennifer Weiner

Coffee between panels worth the wait (for the coffee and, later, the bathroom)

Book Signings!
There were multiple signings throughout the show all day long. Many of them with free books!

David Baldacci (how cute is he?!)

Nelson DeMille (my dad's favorite) #fathersdayspoiler

Yes, that's Judy Blume

And general book nerdy fun!

Couldn't resist
BookCon is the ultimate celebration of books. BookCon is the event where storytelling and pop culture collide. BookCon is where authors become rock stars and grown women become teeny boppers at a One Direction concert that corner them in parking garages for photo ops:

Then this happened: I accosted poor Jennifer Weiner while she was playing with her phone and waiting for her car. But she was wonderful (oh, did I mention it was raining/pouring?).

Monday, May 11, 2015

It's A Mom Thing

I'm not huge on these made up greeting card holidays especially these days as it feels like they have turned into over the top social media competitions. But I am all for excuses to eat, drink, and hang out with friends and family.  And since Mother's Day is centered around me, I guess it is an OK fake holiday. A bit hypocritical, I know. Eh. It's a mom thing.

My mother's day started out similar to many other days: with a five year old slapping me in the face to wake me up then jumping on my back to tell me to stay in bed -- repeated every time I almost fell back asleep. Then this happened and you can't beat that:

So I spent my mother's day hanging with old friends, hanging with my mom, then hanging with new friends. Again, can't beat that.

As with all holidays, fake or otherwise, you tend to think back and remember those you've shared it with in the past. This year I thought of all the beautiful mom-friends I have had the pleasure of knowing over my 10 year stint at this stay at home mom gig -- they have really been the best co-workers a lady could ask for.

When I made the decision to stay home with our first baby, I really had no idea what it would entail. My visions of peaceful walks in the park and picnics by the pond weren’t exactly as I planned. But even though there was a lot more laundry than I expected and far less sleep than I anticipated, I really thought I had the whole stay-at-home-mom-with-a-colicky-baby thing covered. So when I first saw a flyer for a moms group at our local library, I didn't think it was anything I needed. Their byline, after all, was Moms Offering Moms Support – I didn't think I needed support but since it was cold outside and I realized that I was beginning to speak baby talk non-stop, I decided to check out a meeting anyway.

I walked into the library room that winter and there they were: Moms with babies who, like me, didn't looked showered and maybe even forgot to brush their teeth. And moms chasing toddlers. And moms chatting while their kindergartners did crafts. And, moms dressed in nice non-spit-up-stained clothing drinking coffee while their kids were at school.  I had found more than a group of moms to offer me support; I found a community I didn't even know existed.

I am grateful that I found those moms who, it turned out, I did need for support on occasion and vice-versa. My daughter started kindergarten with kids she’d known her entire young life.  And, I had a community of best friends I didn't even know I needed -- friends to lean on, friends to share in the small daily tasks, the milestones, and the big life events. We don't have to agree on every choice we make as moms, we know it's a mom thing, and support each other in our journey.

Cheers to all the beautiful moms I've known over the years! I hope you had a wonderful mother's day packed with bed jumping, kid wrangling, homemade gifts, overeating, mimosas, mud and more...

Some of my previous blogs on motherhood:

Because One Day The Kids Will Be Grown

I Wasn't Prepared For THIS!

I Used To Be The Best Mom

It's In My Purse

I Am Not Meant For This!

Did I Really Just Say That #thingsmomssay

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Random Status Updates That Never Happened

I took a planned 6 week hiatus from Facebook in February and March. It also appears I have taken an unplanned hiatus from making excuses. No worries, though, there were plenty of excuses especially in regards to writing. Top of the list, my beloved computer was on the fritz and, call me old fashioned, I couldn't bring myself to compose a blog on a tablet even though there is an app for that.

Now that my computer is up and running, a blog on my Facebook fast seems a little less than timely but you get what you get...

I was off Facebook for over a month! There were meals eaten, crafts done, outings taken, games played, pictures snapped -- all of which fell into that black hole of pre-facebook existence. If you've done something and did not post it to Facebook, did it really happen?

What about you? What about all the stuff I missed from my friends? If I fail to read a newsfeed item, is it still news?

Some of you had birthdays I most likely would have missed anyway, but Happy Belated Birthday! Some of you birthed babies, congrats! Some of you moved, sorry I didn't volunteer to help. Some of you or your families underwent medical procedures, and I missed praying for you (although some of you were already in my prayers). Some of you ranted about things that either would have randomly garnished a like or an immediate “unfollow friend,” depending on my mood. There were lots of articles posted, most of which I would have only read the headline ignorant to the fact the article was bogus. Some I would have shared anyway. Many of you posted the best pictures of your family whether they reflected reality or not, I would have done the same. Many of you posted pictures of the elaborate Easter gifts you gave to your children, to which I would have groaned “when did Easter turn into Christmas?” as I stuffed my own children’s baskets with toys. Some things happened in the world that I missed because I didn't have my Facebook newsfeed to tell me. Some people were forgotten because I missed their posts about what they had for dinner. I, myself, ate numerous delicious healthy meals that I was unable to tell my Facebook friends about.

Here are some random status updates I might have posted had I been on Facebook:
  • This stuff is great. Like should be illegal great… #nutritionalcleansing
  • Hiking in North Carolina sans kids:
  • Day 30: 9 lbs and 19+ inches gone!
  • Loving #30daysofyoga with Adriene!
  • Hitting the slopes on April 1st. No joke!
  • This Walking Dead show is kinda good. Who knew?
  • Do you people know there is this thing called Netflix in which you can watch entire seasons of one show in a single night? #walkingdead Feeling tired.
Also, It snowed a few times this spring, pictures could have been posted with witty captions. My heater was finally fixed. We had some leaks because of ice damming. I baked some stuff, cooked some meals, did some crafts, played some games and took pictures which I could have posted as evidence of my parenting prowess (or something to that effect).

I am back in full swing Facebook time suck mode, so news will not go unshared! And, hopefully, I will get back to writing and this blog with the same vigor. Until then...

If you like this random list, here are some other blogs you might enjoy:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ISO: Excitement

What excites you? Really excites you? Are you doing that thing/those things as often as you can? Are you allowing people to see what truly excites you? Are you inspired by your excitement? Are others inspired by your excitement?

I watched a video the other night on this subject: A 26 year old millionaire bounced around on stage talking about what gets her excited and how to find out what gets each of us excited. When it was over, I couldn't think of a thing that got me THAT excited. Then, as I went to bed and as I woke up in the morning  – I couldn't stop listing the things that get me excited. Jeez no wonder I couldn't find that one thing that makes me passionate – too many things make me passionate! 

I googled it. There are millions of pages on figuring out what excites you most and finding your passion. Why is it that, as I am pushing forty, I am just now trying to discover this?! Where have I been for the last 30-some years?

Am I the only one? Do you know what excites you? Are you doing it?

Some of what excites me seems so far off, so far-fetched, that I think I've just always gone along doing the small little things that make me and, hopefully, those around me fairly content… But excited? I’m not sure. Scary thought as middle-age is knocking on the door! What am I waiting for? Retirement?

In the video I watched the other night, "Establishing your 'Why'," Peta Kelly talks about finding that big thing that excites you but also the little excitements to help inspire you and pull you toward that big goal.

I thought about listing some of the things that excite me – but the list seemed too long for this blog (maybe next week). But, how do I take my “excitement list” and use that to live?

In his TEDx lecture, "How to find and do work you love," Scott Dinsmore asks “What is the work you can’t not do?” For me, it’s always been writing. And, even though I take tiny little steps towards that goal – the big goal, the idea of being a successfully published writer, seems so far-off, so impossible, that I get stuck. I never make my way towards that goal. But maybe it’s because I never allow myself any excitement, any reward, any passion to pull me forward.  There is no fire behind it. There’s no momentum. I need to find little stepping stones of excitement to pull me forward. Otherwise, I am just paralyzed.

Another great article I found in my Google search is: Guide to Finding Your Passion. A guide to narrow those things that excite me down. How to find the thing that I am most passionate about, make goals, identify obstacles, push away the fears and excuses...  (Maybe that’s for another blog too)

What about you? Do you know what excites you and are you doing it?

Monday, March 9, 2015

No Parking In The Comfort Zone

There is something to be said for the comfort zone – it is, umm, comfortable. I suppose we could all live our lives comfortable in it. Not that we would be lazy, the comfort zone can be pretty busy, hectic at times – with the cleaning, the laundry, the errands, work, volunteering, family, vacations, etc. A life inside the comfort zone could be a full and happy one. But, is that the life we are meant to live?

If there was a “No Parking” sign posted on our comfort zone, could we have reached a higher potential? Is there a life we are meant to live outside the comfort zone?

I recently came across this quote (on a friend’s fridge):

“Life Begins At The End of Your Comfort Zone”
~ Neale Donald Walsch

This friend recently left her own comfort zone – her job, her apartment, her life – and moved to another part of the state to begin a physical therapy program. She took a leap of faith and left her comfort zone to answer a calling rather than sit back and ignore it.

Is there a calling that we are afraid to answer whilst sitting comfortable in the zone?

I would like to say that I am finally answering the call to be a writer. But, my writing life is going along happily in its own comfort zone right now. Being a comfortable drawer writer eliminates all stress and obligation from the process (writing something and hiding it in my drawer). Writing something, revising it, submitting it somewhere – that is way out of the comfort zone I am currently parked in. The draft for my NaNoWriMo novel, for example, I have picked up a half a dozen times since November but never really accomplish anything noteworthy. What’s the rush, really, when you are in a comfort zone and no one is threatening to tow you?

And this inability to reach beyond the comfort zone stretches into many areas of life – relationships, physical activity, and diet. We can allow ourselves to get into cycles that keep us from ever really experiencing life to its capacity.

As a married woman with three children approaching 40, I was OK with the way I look, my physical activity, my diet. Sure, I kinda wish I looked a little better in a two piece bathing suit. I kinda wish I could run any amount of distance without wanting to pass out. Maybe it would be nice to have a little more energy without relying on coffee loaded with cream and sugar.

A few weeks back I decided to listen to another friend and try out a nutritional cleansing program she recommends. And I am wondering why in the heck I didn’t try it sooner! It’s like going from Good to Great – I feel great (and 10 days in I lost 6 lbs and over 9 inches)! I didn’t even know it was possible!

I am trying to detoxify my body inside and out – go beyond just OK to the best I can be…

What about you? Are you parked in a comfort zone? Can you do something today to push yourself outside comfortable to the best you possible?

Spring is approaching. It is time to wake up and move out of the comfort zone. Take some chances. Do something differently. Get out of the rut and live to our fullest potential.

Who’s with me?!

(If you want to know more about the nutritional cleansing program I am on, shoot me an email – we can do it together!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Am (clearly) No Jesus Christ

Today marks the start of Lent and for many Christians it means giving up some vice or making some sort of sacrifice in honor of Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert. I have to admit that even as a Catholic Elementary student, I don't think I ever made it the full 40 days of giving up anything.

If I were out fasting in the desert and the devil himself appeared before me and offered me food -- I think I would last about one second before I said, "Hell, yes, I'll take that rock-turned-bread!"

I am (clearly) no Jesus Christ!

I mean, I set a goal and about 10 seconds later I am making an excuse why I couldn't possibly get it done. Jesus let himself get hung on a cross! I think I'd be like: "Ummm, Father, I know I said I'd do this but I don't think this is even going to work. These people don't care if I die and come back again. Heck, half the time they don't even understand what I mean when I say I'm coming back...How about I cure another leper or something... They like when I do that..."

I am an excuse maven!

I put off laundry until the drawers are empty.
I need to have a guest en route before I clean my house thoroughly.
I have to have every surface area covered before I organize my papers.
The bathrooms need to look like rest stop restrooms before I clean them.
The stomach bug must be in full force before I disinfect anything.
The buttons on my pants must burst before I cut calories.
Spring must be around the corner before I'll hit the gym.
I can work on a short story for two solid weeks but when it's time to submit it, I fall asleep.
I write an entire novel, then decide I hate the story because it's too cliche.

And so on.

This year, I decided to give the whole giving something up for Lent thing a try. My biggest vice, of course, is the mindless time I spend on Facebook. So, it's only logical I give up Facebook. Since I know I have the willpower of an ant (assuming an ant has very little willpower), I am deactivating my account for the rest of Lent.

Gasp. But how will I get my news? I am keeping my Twitter account (I am no Jesus after all).

Double gasp. But how will you follow my blog? Follow me on Twitter: @excusesbyjulie 
Be sure to like my author page: 
You can also follow by adding my blog ( to your Blogger reading list.

I'll see you on Facebook after Easter! In the meantime, I'll be busy revising/rewriting my novel (I said I was going to do that, didn't I?) and jumping on the "nutritional cleanse" bandwagon (spring is right around the corner, isn't it?). I'm sure I will be finding excuses to post here in between.

Until then, my mantra:

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

38 (or so) Reasons Why I NEED To Be A Professional Writer

  1. I have to do something productive with the voices in my head.
  2. Or go insane.
  3. I like to observe human nature.
  4. I’d rather not be a creepy eavesdropper.
  5. I like to work in my pajamas.
  6. And drink lots of coffee.
  7. Nobody wants to hear the things I think.
  8. The things in my head translate way better on paper (well, sometimes).
  9. I’m too practical to be an amateur daydreamer.
  10. I’m too impractical for 9 to 5 work.
  11. I can’t be bothered with keeping track of insignificant things like what time it is.
  12. It’s a more pleasant alternative to housework.
  13. My kids already think I am a writer.
  14. And want to read the things I have written.
  15. I want them to know that if you work hard enough, dreams can come true.
  16. And nothing is impossible.
  17. I am tired of making apologies and excuses for wanting to be a writer.
  18. I have stories to tell.
  19. I want my name on published stories, not half written computer files or bunched up papers in a drawer.
  20. I want someone to read something I’ve written and say “Wow!” 
  21. I want something I’ve written to resonate in someone’s head somewhere.
  22. I don’t want to do anything else ever again.
  23. Otherwise, I will have failed.
  24. Failure is not an option.
  25. The only place I am good at lying, is on paper.
  26. I enjoy being completely honest about something that is 100% fabricated.
  27. Writing is fun (most of the time).
  28. I like to entertain people.
  29. It’s fulfilling and rewarding when I hit a difficult patch and push through it.
  30. Sometimes I can be quite good at it.
  31. Most of the time I suck, but proud for doing it anyway.
  32. It takes way longer to perfect one sentence than I ever imagined possible, but the after-glow of finally writing the perfect sentence can last days (and maybe longer if that sentence were to echo in someone else’s head -- see numbers 20 & 21).
  33. As a writer, I am always learning, growing, evolving.
  34. I can’t possibly DO all the things I dream, but my characters can.
  35. I am sick of being the person that talks about being a writer but has nothing to show for it.
  36. Actually, I don’t talk about it much (just blog about it) – but would like to.
  37. Unless someone pays me, I’ll feel like a fraud.
  38. I need validation.

I'd rather sit at my computer all day wrestling with one sentence while wearing my PJs, coffee cup in hand, than do anything else (like do something with that bucket that's been sitting back there for a couple of days now).

Yay! I found 38 reasons why I need to be a writer, that trumps the 36 reasons why I won't be a writer. You can read those reasons here.

Oh, wait, it doesn't end there! I just thought of bonus reason number 39 -- I would like the excuse "She's a writer" to cover every weird/antisocial/ditsy thing I do.