Mark Your Calendars

My next book is coming out, in exactly one week. One. Week. That’s seven days.

And since I’m posting this so late in the evening, many of you won’t read it until tomorrow, making that LESS than a week.

Exciting stuff, I know.

So at the mark of the one week countdown, I am thrilled to share with you guys my cover and trailer.

*scream*

So here’s the cover, and please be kind with regards the appearance of my almost-37-year-old face… I am tired and old, and having a toddler has worn me down.

And of course you can watch the trailer too, which is a sentiment to just how jaded I have become on the topic of trailers, in general:

And don’t forget you can get entered to win one of two swag bags with a copy of the book by playing along with my caption game over on Facebook or Instagram!

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Survey Says…

The results are in!

A while ago, I sent out a survey to you guys on Surveymonkey, and the responses were OVERWHELMING.

Just kidding, a ton of people took the time to click the survey; a mere 17 of you took the time to complete it.

To you 17…a sincere and heartfelt thanks…

To the rest of you: well, you have a chance to redeem yourselves from your complacent silence.

First, let’s get to the results of the survey.

First-first, let’s remind ourselves what the survey was about.

I am trying to really get my blog more social. I feel as though I haven’t been networking and marketing quite as effectively as I could. Not that I’ve had a drop in readers on my small corner of the Internet; just that there is so much out there available to get your content out there as a writer, and I feel as though I wasn’t taking full advantage of what the world of the wide web has to offer.

So my survey results, few as there were, spoke volumes about what I’ve been doing right (thank God I’ve done some of it the right way), and what I could cut out or quit wasting my time on, so that I can spend that time doing more of the right stuff.

Also: we’ve concluded that I was correct in my previous assumption that Myspace is dead and Snapchat is for kids and hos.

I’ll paste the specific question results in below, but first-first-first let’s talk about how you guys can help me just one more time (and in the case of you lazy bums that looked but clicked away, for the first time):

The thing I’ve been really trying to integrate into my blog content is more video or podcasty type of stuff. No matter what I’ve done though, I can never seem to come up with enough of what I would call good material to do something like a weekly video blog or monthly podcast.

I really want to do it though. I feel video and audio is the wave of the future – who has time to always sit down and read some random lady’s rantings on the Internet? Give me a quick a dirty something to listen to in the car, or watch while I am at a kid’s sports event, and I’m good!

So what would you guys like to see or hear from me (as opposed to read)?

Seriously, that’s the only question in this second inquiry: what the hell do you want to see or listen to me talk about (if I can ever get over how annoying my voice sounds)?

Comment, message, or carrier pigeon me your wishes… I’m open to *almost* anything.

Thanks again to those of you that replied to my survey a while back. I’ll paste in the results as a little slideshow now for your enjoyment:

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ISO Social Media Help (Because I’m Social Media Dumb)

You guys, I don’t even *really* know what ISO means. I mean, like, I think it means in search of; but I also don’t know when is actually the most appropriate time to use it. Like when I type it I feel like I’m some weird, middle aged pervert putting out a personal ad.

MWF ISO [insert disturbing series of acronyms meaning hook up with some bizarre set of preferences]

With that being said, I am ISO social media help. I’m social media dumb, which is hilariously ironic because sometimes people I know call me a social media expert.

(Side note: did you guys know that social media experts are actual people that get paid for going on Facebook and shit? Give me a fucking break, amiright? It’s like all the Communications majors of the early 2000s got together and realized they needed to legitimize their previously illegitimate major, so they created an entire field whose major qualification is the ability to post in 140 characters or less.)

Here’s a newsflash for the people that refer to me as that, though: knowing how to log onto my Facebook page makes me an expert in literally nothing.

So. I need social media help.

The problem with my blog (besides my general lack of genuinely likable qualities) is that it’s not getting out there.

You know, like I do the whole SEO and tag shit, otherwise it all boils down to who sees my posts on Instagram and Facebook and the like.

And, from the analytics I receive from all of those accounts: very few people are seeing them.

So what is wrong with me and my use of social media that makes others so seemingly successful, and me such a terrible flop?

I will tell you this: there is a lot I won’t do on social media that other, more successful writers and bloggers do handily. The two big ones are:

  1. I cannot – for the life of me – bring myself to post videos in which I sit in front of the phone camera and talk about dumb shit no one cares about. They all start the same way: “OK you guys…” and “SO I just wanted to hop on for a minute and share with you guys …” {Big, ridiculously loud UGH.} When I come across stories on any – and I mean any – social media platform that begin like that, my immediate reaction is to tap through that shit until it’s clear that it’s over with.
  2. I cannot get on board with the whole OOTD thing. Maybe once in a while I’ll post what I’m wearing, like any of you gives a flying fig; but outfit of the DAY?! Like a daily thing? No. Sweat-stained yoga pants and food crusted tank tops are not exactly what I would call Instaready.

Is that really what sets me apart from the winners, though?

So to help things along here, I’ve put together a quick, little poll for you guys to take. That is, if you even see this post.

Click my link and it’ll take approximately two minutes to complete… MWF ISO SMA

 

Seriously, Guys, Cut the Banter On Your Recipe Posts

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Am I the only one getting just a little bit sick and FUCKING TIRED of having to scroll through paragraph after paragraph of banter when I am looking for a good recipe on the Internet?

Seriously.

We get it.

You and Brad were celebrating your two year anniversary and you just knew you had to figure out how to replicate those scallops at home.

You were bored one rainy day and your little Cody – who you so originally nicknamed Buddy – was napping, so you thought you’d experiment with homemade ice-cream cake.

Girls Night Out has been a thing with you and your tribe for years, and you guys always get the best cosmopolitans on the town; so you thought you’d share your at-home recipe for a quarter of the cost of getting them out with your squad (note: you are probably too old to be calling your friends your squad).

You have a good story to tell about how you came about whatever the recipe is you have to share with us. That’s fucking lovely.

The rest of us have our own lives to live and would click just as much on your page if you just cut to the goddamn chase.

You also are absolutely certain that the people of the Internet wouldn’t understand a thing about your recipe if you didn’t photograph you doing each and every mundane step. Like when you say to stir the ingredients together, or to measure out a teaspoon of salt. People won’t know how the fuck to do that without your high quality, high resolution photographs that just – in my opinion – add more wasted time scrolling to the meat of the story (the actual recipe and ingredient list).

I have never done a recipe blog before because it would be something like this:

Open packet of chicken. Pour on BBQ sauce. Put in oven for I don’t know like an hour or some shit, until it’s over 165.

End of recipe.

That’s it, and frankly that’s all that is needed.

At the very least, you could spare us so many paragraphs of unnecessary information. It’s like you people have watched one too many episodes of Giadda At Home, where she regales us with all these useless, faux Italian-American stories about her life (but really, no one throws that many dinner parties); or when the Pioneer lady cracks an endless series of jokes about life with teenagers on the farm.

And if I hear Ina Garten talk about her fucking plants one more time, I swear to God…

I have a secret for you all: NO ONE CARES.

Honestly, I think it’s awesome that you all make recipes for good food. If you didn’t, my family and I would survive solely on packet of chicken with BBQ sauce in oven.

But I also think that there’s something to be said for brevity when it comes to sharing your talent.

Or pick an appropriate venue.

Statistically, the more a person has to click or scroll, the less likely they are to go all the way to your ads. It is therefore a win-win for us if you just shut the fuck up already on your website. Cut to the chase, like I did above with packet of chicken.

A better venue, I find, with recipes is a social media platform like Instagram. People don’t have to do much work on the reading-front, and it’s much easier for them to skip past all your bullshit, quaint stories if they just want to get, as I said, the meat.

I posted a recipe for Gooey Baked Apples on Instagram today and it was both sweary and click-through-able. I would never post more than this on my website. You shouldn’t either.

(Recipe below if you guys wanted it, in a better format than all the other long-winded bullshit I find on the Internet; bad news is there is a lot of scrolling because it’s ported over from Instagram…for my preferred venue to view all this and more, please follow my new Instagram @heatherwriteswords for more sweary fun.)

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From Now On, I’ll Do Me

I haven’t had much time to write for the last few months. I’ve written, just not on my blog.

Still, I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I checked in with you guys until a couple weeks ago.

My daughter was playing a for-fun tennis match with a friend, and the friend’s dad asked me: “so, have you been doing much writing lately?” My response was plainly “no,” and then I remembered I had written the obituary for my husband’s grandfather (who recently passed away at the age of 90). So kind of.

But I couldn’t remember the last time I had written on this blog, so I checked and it’s been …well, a while.

I started making my usual excuses, the ones I always make when it’s been a while. If you read through some old posts, you’ll see them. I’ve been busy. I have three kids. My life is crazy. Blah blah blah.

Those things are all true, but in the past no matter how busy I have been, I have always found the time to write. It has been a few years since that was the case, though. For years now you could scroll through my blog posts and see little spurts of zany, fun, self-deprecating Heather, broken up by large swaths of absence.

The real truth is that I haven’t written in those voids because I’ve been living someone else’s life.

That someone else was so worried about what everyone else thought about her, she’d make herself sick over little things like what someone thought of her eyeshadow color, or whether she wore make up at all for that matter.

She handmade every Christmas gift for all immediate and distant family several years in a row, because  she didn’t have a real job, so what else did she have to do?

She made her family go for an entire 18 months without eating a single meal out of the house. Because mom’s cooking is better, and better for you (spoiler: it’s actually not, on both counts).

For a brief period of time, every free moment she had was spent volunteering in the community for organizations she didn’t give a care about, doing volunteer work that she had no interest in; fully immersing herself into the belly of the beast of each organization as if any of it had any bearing on her own life whatsofuckingever.

Every party was a blow-out Pinterest party. Every corner of the house was spotless.

Everything about life was exactly the way other people wanted it to be. I was living a life that was not one for me; rather someone else carrying out her life, which was entirely for other people, in my body.

What a bunch of shit.

This person that worried about what everyone else thought about her was the biggest shit of the shit. I’m certain that this came about as a result of years, now, of being berated and bullied by people in my community and immediate surrounding (that’s a nice way of saying “family”), but it also is the complete antitheses of who I am to always worry about what others think of me.

Especially over some of the trivial shit I worried the most about.

I’ve actually been so concerned with what other people thought that I’ve intentionally written blogs containing no swear words. I censored myself to be more palatable to people that don’t like words like “hell” and “damn.”

Then all of a sudden, I heard myself say aloud about a week ago “language please” to my dad, and I didn’t even recognize my voice.

Handmade Christmas gifts are shit too. Like literally and figuratively.

Really, who wants some crappy, homemade DIY gift when I could just as easily give them a gift card to Hooters?

And I’m not even good at making things either, like I would knit a scarf and it would unravel while I wrapped the piece of crap in a DIY Christmas gift bag, whose trimmings also fell off before Christmas came.

Seriously, fuck that DIY Christmas crap. It’s like ten times more expensive to make things you could just as easily buy anyway.

I won’t even get into the thing about the 18 month eating out hiatus.

Okay, yes I will. This one I am proud to say faded fast when I got pregnant with Andrew. Between being too lazy to peel carrots, and way too nauseous to consider eating any of my crap cooking, the eating out hiatus got turned on its head quickly.

That doesn’t erase the memory of those terrible, and costly, 18 months, though. I got this idea that it would save money to make things at home, but that’s a total and complete lie. It’s only cheaper to eat at home if you have one kid and eat Hungry Man TV dinners every night. Fruits? Vegetables? Lean proteins? That shit’s expensive, and newsflash a salad at your local salad spot tastes a million times better, and is considerably cheaper, than throwing it together at home.

Moreover, my cooking is about as predictable as Trump’s Tweets. You know they’ll be there, but how good/bad/volatile the reaction is always a gamble. One of my kids one night looked at the meal I made, shook her head, said “mommy no, mommy no” and straight up threw her dinner – plate, silverware, and all – in the trash.

It’s shit.

The volunteering was pretty bad too, because it spoke to that larger issue I have had over the past few years, that need to justify my existence to other people by doing things and impressing people. As if raising two kids, or just being Heather, isn’t enough.

Unlike the 18 month eating out hiatus, I actually don’t want to get into this one, because – frankly – I’m ashamed of myself for going there.

I will, however, say that to make up for those couple years of doing so many things I had no interest in doing, I plan to spend the next few doing absolutely nothing. Not. A. Got. Damned. Thing.

What’s left?

Pinterest parties are shit. Seriously, you spend like tons of money on food labels and dessert tables, for what? People to make comments about how fancy it is, or to not even notice any of your hard work. I’ll never forget the time we had my uncle over for dinner, and I made some fancy table layout, and he kept going “what’s this?” like oh my fuck why did I spend so much time personalizing napkin rings when I could have just ordered pizza and everyone could have eaten off of paper towels?

I get having a cute little layout, whatever; but at least buy things you can use again.

Keeping the house cleanish is still a sticking point for me, but this idea that when people come over I have to remove every speckle of dust from my shutters upstairs, in rooms no one will even go into, is for the bees. My home is the condition it’s going to be in. If you came to see it and not me, well then you are welcome to leave.

If you are in to all of this stuff: into the volunteering and the Pinterest parties and the house cleaning and the impressions and all – that’s totally cool. It’s just not my jam. No matter how much I tried to force it to be, I just couldn’t.

As the saying goes: you do you. From now on, I’ll be over here, though, doing me.

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Being Supportive Does Not Always Make You A Good Person

I’ve had to do far too much supporting of others lately, and it has taken a toll on me. Keeping my mouth shut and my opinions to myself has pent up so much anger and frustration within me that I literally want to scream the truth in people’s faces sometimes – am I the only one that sees what is really going on here?

Yet still, I hold it in.

It started about 9 months ago when my brother in law and his wife announced that they were having a baby. At our BBQ. (Because our BBQ was totally all about them.)

Since then it’s been one family event after another that I’ve had to be supportive at. Living only 5 miles from my husband’s family (yes, we basically live in Everybody Loves Raymond) this has been weekly. At some points in the last 9 months, it’s even been daily.

All the while, I just wanted to scream in everyone’s faces the truth – that they were just separated a year and a half ago. That I have vivid memories still of my husband’s brother seeming practically unable to go on with life because his then-ex-now-again-and-pregnant-a-few-months-in wife had left him.

And, more importantly, that not everyone decides to have a baby and POOF is just pregnant. That some people struggle for years only to be unsuccessful at it, and that knowing this is going on with more than one family member, yet still flaunting it around ad nauseum, is at a certain point really shitty of them.

Am I the only one that sees what is really going on here? Hold that in, Heather.

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I could go on and on and on about all the things about this situation my husband and I don’t support, but I won’t. We’ve kept our mouths shut, with the exception of one occasion when we tried to have a reasonable and private conversation about it with his mother. We were told we should be more supportive. Since then, we’ve gone out of our way to be overly supportive of them, because we knew it was what his family wanted. (For that we’ve gotten it shoved up our assholes every way possible.)

Still yet, hold it in.

It has been way more than just that, though. It’s been the expectation to continue supporting my husband’s career even though it is very certainly, and undramatically, destroying our lives.

Hold that in, Heather. Don’t talk about the fact that we’ve got no employer-sponsored dependent health insurance, no retirement, and no raises in years at the Christmas party! That would be unsupportive of your man!

It’s been the measles outbreak – which we were actually exposed to, living in Southern California in a county that has one of the highest numbers of confirmed cases paired with some of the lowest pockets of vaccination rates. We sat there with my mother’s family last month, while friends and family talked about their wariness to vaccinate, as though we are all just supposed to stand by and watch irresponsible parenting run amok in society as a whole, in the name of supporting people’s personal choices as parents.

That was the same day we saw photos of my cousin’s wedding that we never received an invitation to, until a week before the wedding. She texted me and said she forgot to invite me. We were invited, but there were no kids welcome. In the photos, there were 12 kids present at the wedding we did not attend.

Hold it in. Hold it in.

As I have sat here for 9 months brooding and deleting my comments and biting my tongue so hard I need a pint of blood to cover the damages, I quietly – in my head – added again and again to the laundry list of all the times that something should have been said to stop this madness once and for all.

Then, a few weeks ago in a public forum I went nuts on anti-vaxxers. Not emotionally, not illogically. But nuts. Scientifically and morally, yet insane.

I cannot begin to describe how much better I felt.

Now, in the aftermath of that, as weeks have gone on and I’ve been more and more honest, and less concerned about what people think of me and how unsupportive I may come across, I just have to say it. Maybe it will be the thing to end the madness:

Being supportive does not always make you a good person.

Somewhere down the line being truthful and honest became pejorative qualities. Sound advice became negativity, and a sensitivity and attention to the realities of the world, no matter how insignificant any one of them may seem, made you a hater. Instead we should all just hold hands and sing Kumbaya and be supportive of each others’ decisions and endeavors, all the while lying about what is universally true and right and real.

So this morning I logged onto Facebook, because naturally that’s where I get my news. As I scrolled through the feed I saw articles, updates, baby photos, and eventually news from fellow writers.

And then I saw an update about a blogging anthology, which shall remain unnamed, that is going to be published. It’s a sequel, and to be quite frank I didn’t like most of the first one. The update was lamenting not being included, more a statement on that own person’s insecurities and hopes to make it in the blogging world. I didn’t really get that feeling at the news, but I’m a writer, not a blogger.

So me being tired of always supporting supporting supporting when I know that someone should cry BULLSHIT ON THIS NOISE, and feeling more and more comfortable over the past few weeks doing so again, inspired me to just post my own comment on how I was glad to not be included because I didn’t like the first book and prefer to not be included in that kind of book.

As a side, I know a lot of really gifted writers that cannot even sell 10 copies of the self-published books, while cliche and mediocre stuff is peddled and makes it to the best seller lists – there is nothing right or good about that at all. All I said, though, was that I’d rather not be included, as other talented writers should take that as support that there are other, much better, projects out there.

Now, I know it sounded rude the way I said it, though, and I quickly realized that a few of the essays in the first book were written by friends that I did enjoy. So I deleted my comment within a couple seconds. I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings at the expense of me feeling better about being more open and honest.

Of course I did not delete it before the organizer of the anthology saw my comment and, apparently, was insulted – perhaps as insulted as I am by her writing, in particular how much of a bully she is to people she doesn’t like.

But that is all neither here nor there to the central point.

After deleting my comment and moving on with my day, I realized that maybe I shouldn’t have deleted it; and not deleted it because of my own feelings of being insulted. Maybe I should have said the entire truth all along, with everything. As much as other people have a right to be insulted by my lack of support, I have a right to be insulted by their flagrantly terrible behavior to begin with. With the opportunistic anthologies; with the BIL and SIL’s baby; with my husband’s job – with all of it.

Keeping silent about what I know to be universally true and right and real feels so much worse than the backlash of speaking up. And in the end, al that is sacrificed by staying silent is me. So speaking up makes me a hater. I’d rather be an honest hater than a loved liar.

In the end, who is really the good person?

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The Internet Is Full of Mean People and Bloggers, and the Two Are One In the Same

Everyone, whether they realize it or not, reads blogs. At least everyone that reads stuff on the Internet.

A lot of times I very intentionally try to only read legitimate news articles. I scope out particular sites I know to be traditional media; and then about a quarter of the way in I realize that I’m really reading a blog post. Then somewhere in there I realize I’m a total doofus because it says in bold print at the top of the page FROM THE BLOG. Really, written blogs are just opinion pieces with a different title on them. Facebook Notes are blogs. Tweets and status updates are too; so are Instagrams – whether you people like it or not, pretty much anyone that uses the Internet and social media has in some form blogged, or read a blog of any kind and been like “OMG this person is my soulmate – I totally agree with that thing s/he said about this topic I’m so interested in.” Even if it was just a Foursquare check in with the comment “best tacos ever.”

The list of things that could qualify as blogs is unending. Opinions on best foods for dieting, opinions on best strategies to work out, opinions on sports teams, joke Tweets, hashtag parties, #TBT and #foodporn…

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I could go on. As long as it’s logged on the web, it’s a blog. The Internet is for sharing, no way around it.

Once, a long time friend told me that she hated bloggers. Then about five minutes later she posted two updates – one a blog-style Facebook note on diet tricks and tips, the other a Tweet about how she thought Portillos had the best hot dogs in the history of hot dogs. (Irony much?) At that point I couldn’t resist, I had to ask why she shared so much stuff and posted her own blog-style updates, when in fact she claimed she hated bloggers. She clarified for me that day something I wouldn’t realize until years later is quite a profound statement on blogging, and the Internet in general. Bloggers – the Internet on the whole – are mean people; people so mean that if anyone ever disagrees with something out there, they and their friends/family/colleagues launch a full-scale Internet attack.

At the time, I immediately dismissed everything she said.

I have been writing for four years now. Probably five since that friend said she hated bloggers. Shortly after I began writing, someone (or someones – I really don’t remember) suggested I start a blog. I did, and it morphed into what it is today – a place in which I rant, complain, share stories, and sell my books. Sometimes I write a lot of blog posts in a short period of time; other times weeks or months go by with not a peep from me, as far as my blog is concerned.

You learn quickly in the blog world (the world of the Internet) that there are a lot of people out there with things to say and share, and yet only a select few of them ever get to the forefront. I mean – like – the blogs that go places. As in all things in life, it is very political. It is a lot about who you know. Usually, the most untalented of people are those that are read the most. You also learn that the worst writers are some of the most popular bloggers.

This isn’t to say that all of the most popular bloggers are bad writers, but there are definitely a handful of terrible writers and worse human beings out there that have mastered the art of page views, buzz words, and using infographics as legitimate substitutes for actual, real words and ideas.

And being mean anytime anyone questions something they’ve posted.

Yet you go with the flow and keep your yap shut, because if you say anything that the in-crowd and the people that adore them (read: anyone regularly published on the Huffington Post) doesn’t like; well then you are nothing but an Internet troll. An Internet troll with time on his/her hands, and “no life.”

And then you stop reading a lot of their articles or blogs, simply because you just can’t keep it shut anymore. You don’t want to happen to you what happened to those other people. You know, the ones people think are Internet crackpots. You don’t want to be told you’re an Internet troll when you say that someone sounds like a racist, judgmental dick; even when that’s just the truth. You don’t want to be name-called by a group of people you have never met in your life, simply because you disagree.

But you also don’t want to keep silent in a forum where people are supposed to say things.

It happens all the time. Someone posts some pithy piece of shit blog, and then anyone who speaks to the contrary or makes any sort of constructive criticism or dissenting opinion is called a troll and attacked with several “you”s (you just took that personally, you obviously have limited education, and so on). I just saw it this morning on a Huffington Post blog about suburban moms. Now, after careful investigation, I came to the realization that this particular post was a pitch for a new book; and also had a lot of potential (I mean we suburban moms do deserve a lot of poking fun at). But the article really was lazy – lacking introduction, bearing no sense of humanity or connectivity to the suburban moms that were so callously being made fun of; and in the end, concluded with a “buy my BOOK!” Really?

UnknownNaturally, when I returned to read the comments, anyone that dissented – that said it wasn’t that funny (it wasn’t), or that it was a little stereotypical (as I said, no connectivity) – anyone that said anything like that kind of a response was attacked with 66 or 89 (or some other absurd number of) other comments full of “you”s (you took it too personally, get an education and a sense of humor was my favorite).

Huh? Had I commented, I would have said it was unfunny and stereotypical too.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely Internet trolls out there who pick fights for no reason at all. You can smell them from a mile away, and they reek of a comment or reply that has absolutely nothing to do with what you are talking about. But somehow – somewhere along the line – any form of dissent or disagreement, or even comments in opposition or of slight criticism – are seen as Internet troll behavior. Negativity. Not PC.

Now I understand my friend and her harsh feelings about bloggers all those years ago. The Internet is like one, big bag of dicks – there’s so many mean people on it.

The mean people aren’t in the people that write blogs with jokes or satire, though. The mean people aren’t those that post about their beliefs about vaccines or breastfeeding or home births or about how judgmental everyone seems to become after they hit 30. The mean people aren’t those who have political interests or are overly zealous football fandom either.

The mean people are the ones who can’t take a little bit of opposition. The mean people are the ones who have forgotten that the Internet has a lot of potential to be a really fun place for people to share and communicate, about whatever they want really. The mean people are taking this potentially awesome place and turning it into a pile of shit with all their PC terms and delicate sensibilities. And this incessant need for everyone to always agree – no matter what.

What a terrible and boring place this is becoming as a result.

There’s an old saying I’m sure we’ve all heard: if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Well come on, Internet bloggers. Get out of the fucking kitchen if you can’t handle the rising temps. Maybe if you do, things around here will be cool again.