It’s Tricky – BlogHer Part 4, The Finale

Standard

Last time: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/through-glass-blogher-part-3/

I started this week’s series of BlogHer 14 posts with a virtual fistbump to those who have to defend “blogging is hard” to people who don’t understand why. So why is this sometimes a painful process and often so misunderstood?

Well, it’s tricky.

I wrote these posts on the plane home from San Francisco. A number two pencil, a yellow spiral notebook, and a couple of diet cokes while my wife watched 4 hours of the Food Network. You know, I did learn “foodies” or food bloggers, yeah, you people are the real freaks. Why y’all didn’t revolt against the BlogHer catering is a testament to your diplomacy and all of you should work for the State Department.

Saturday night was the BlogHer finale. It wasn’t bad. A party was held outside a local hotel. There were porta-pottys and food from McDonald’s. Again, what’s with the catering? Then the entertainment showed up.

rundmc

The King Of Rock wearing his Adidas, Reverend Run of Run DMC rapping along to sixty second bursts of about 100 songs from the 60s, 70s, a lot of the 80s, and 90s. He went into a few of his tracks including It’s Tricky. I’m not sure how BlogHer snagged one of rap’s pioneers but the man had his own reality show, his own cooking program, so rockin’ the mic at a mostly female blogging convention seems logical if you don’t really think about it.

Personally, BlogHer 14 was everything I wanted it to be. Take away the food, my proximity to a Kardashian and my lost rental car valet ticket and the trip was perfect. I learned a lot and met some amazing people.

bloggingfriends

So, why is blogging hard? I think it’s because to do it well you have to reveal yourself, opening your heart to what non-bloggers would call strangers but you call friends. The connection you make with isn’t easily explained. These relationships challenge you and make you a better writer. This limits the struggle to hit publish, everyday. This is why I say, It’s Tricky.

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

bookcoverpicajjhkasfpaperbackpicturesad

Through Glass – Blogher Part 3

Standard

Last time: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/you-get-what-you-give-blogher-part-2/

Being a wide-eyed rookie guy among a 98 percent female BlogHer population made my experience in San Jose a lot different, so my recaps read like a USO worker in 1968 Vietnam – I didn’t see a lot of dead bodies and everyone was nice to me because they wanted entertainment.

In past few years, I would read my fellow writers conference trips, BlogHer and others, and felt like a little kid looking at a shiny bike through the department store window, smudging my nose against the pane, enviously looking through glass.

Friday day night, Day 2, was a little less business in front and more party in back. The highlight of BlogHer is the Voices Of The Year. This conference’s theme was 10×10, ten speakers for the 10th year of BlogHer. The personal tales of the amazing women who spoke were breathtaking. Topics ranging from drug and alcohol addiction, how personal blogging was life-saving, racism, and my personal favorite, one by @firemom aka Jenna Hatfield, on suicide, were awe-inspiring. I honestly don’t think you can read and hear these 10 people speak and not be a changed person.

I needed relief from the ringer of VOTR. Killer karaoke was calling. Full disclosure; I hate non-singers warbling into open mikes to canned tracks. This is why I abhor American Idol. You know me, punk rock forever. I make exceptions for my spouse (who slayed the crowd with Sugarland’s Stay) and close friends like Nancy Davis Kho aka @midlifemixtake, who wowed with Going Back To Cali, and my http://www.leftypop.com Lefty Pop partner in crime, Linda Roy, an actual singer with her Americana band, Jehovas Waitresses, who killed with Tom Petty’s American Girl.

deanasinging menancylindaisnging

I then went looking for the Queerasphere Party because those are my people, but ran into writer and publishing guru Norine Dworkin-McDaniel in the hotel lobby. I swear I used to party like a rockstar, but I’m old(er) now, and at BlogHer I seemed to turn every social moment into a 45 minute conversation about writing or editing or publishing or books or social media. I should have a Charlie Rose-like show where I put people to sleep except for the 4 other writing wonks who care about this crap 24/7. Norine dropped knowledge like it was hot and even let me buy her a club soda. Her informal session may have been the biggest professional highlight of BlogHer. I wanted to go back to my room and fill up a notebook.

I did make it to the party, very late, and other than a Sweet Home Alabama moment – you have a baby, in a hotel room party, at almost midnight, I met more awesome people, the best of which was Jenna Hatfield, the VOTR speaker. It was a really nice conversation. Again, track her stuff down either on the BlogHer website or her blog.

I made my way back to the lobby, hang with my wife and her new friends, including a bright new face, @LostInAsgard, where we blabbed for almost an hour about comic books and superhero movies. Could I be any geekier? Okay, fine, I could have talked to her all night. The new Wonder Woman in the Batfleck movie looks like Xena the Warrior Princess. Are you kidding me?

I can say this about the BlogHer writers and conference attendees. They should run Hollywood. I laughed more and saw much more entertainment there, than I have on television and in movies, in years.

Saturday, Day 3 wasn’t as eventful. Where does BlogHer get their eggs, RubberFood R Us? My morning session was on social media advertising. HELLO!? Wake up! Jessica the Domestic Pirate and I liked it, got a lot out of it, made more sarcastic comments into each other’s ears than the Guinness Book Of Records can count, but figured out how to make Lefty Pop take over the internet sooner rather than later. Then it was time for Scandal, a Kardashian and cheeseburger sliders (thanks @juliedeneen).

Kerry Washington was the keynote. I know her as being The Thing’s girlfriend in the Fantastic Four movies, again, nerddom, but you may recognize her as the female lead in Scandal, where everyone sleeps with the President, 5 people a show are killed and Kerry’s Olivia Pope makes it all better while society’s moral compass is shattered into a million pieces. She was fascinating and pretty.

kerrywSHITNGTON

 

Khloe Kardashian was downstairs. I realize this was a chance for me to take out one of those and make the world a better place, but my 18-year-old daughter begged me for a picture and autograph, so my wife took the bullet instead of Khloe. I’m a better parent than pop culture assassin. My wife said she was extremely nice, asked for my daughter’s name, and treated her well. Sucks when evil doesn’t do what you want it to do.

deana andkhloe

Next time, Run’s house, grumpy selfies, and all of the people who make the internet good.

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

bookcoverpicajjhkasfpaperbackpicturesad

You Get What You Give, Blogher Part 2

Standard

Last time: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/save-me-san-francisco-blogher-part-I/

Being around hundreds of others who do do what you do, the mantra “blogging is hard” gets reinforced and validated. I heard stories just like mine, mostly of a different gender, since I was one of few dudes at BlogHer.

“I write in line to pick up my kids.”

“I blog late at night after everyone has been asleep for hours.”

“I’ve done my best work on cocktail napkins while out at dinner with my significant other.”

I also met many people who do more than detail personal diaries of their kids’ adventures growing up.

Friday, day 2 of BlogHer, was my personal favorite as I learned the most about the conference and myself. This sounds ridiculously coy, but I had no clue of my audience. Sure, I’ve connected, online, with thousands of people, sold some books, and gotten positive feedback on the politics and pop culture site I tri-launched in January 2014, http://www.leftypop.com , but it’s hard to believe numbers and messages on a screen. By the end of breakfast, I’d met, face to face, so many people who’ve read this space and my other one; messaged, retweeted, shared, liked, favorite and emailed. Hugging and talking to people I’ve admired for years was overwhelming. Meeting people larger than their 200 x 200 avatars was a great feeling. I didn’t mind the worst breakfast burrito ever because the connections and conversations were unique and satisfying.

Jenny_Lawson_0

This experience was supported by the morning keynote speaker, Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. Her meteoric rise to internet fame was told brilliantly by her recollection of her first BlogHer, six years ago, meeting Dooce, arguably the web’s first celebrity blogger, Heather Armstrong. Lawson talked about “geeking out”, then pledging to write her own story and become successful. Lawson is a hero to many in the blogging community because of her plain-spokeness and championing of mental illness. I got close to her, about 15 feet, but several others were having their own moment with the star. Maybe I was witnessing the next Bloggess, hugging and complimenting their inspiration near the restrooms. It was like watching a real-life Behind The Music but with slightly less drugs and nudity. The Bloggess was the perfect role model for so many bloggers.

The first session I attended may have been the best and worth the entire trip. I sat in a panel discussion about book publishing with 4 successful authors including Kami Wycoff, whom I I’ve read and admired. My writing friend Rachel aka @rachelintheoc sat next to me and even helped me organize my own blog. She’s found a ton of success an a published author and her help will be invaluable.

blogherpicturea

Over the past 4 years I’ve written 4 manuscripts, including an 83,000 novel that lurks in a zip file, and three 45,000 plus word novellas, publishing two, The Ballad Of Helene Troy and Soul To Body on amazon.com for kindle and lulu.com in paperback. Reviews were good but sales were not and I wondered it I was doing it all wrong or wasting my time altogether. No one handed me a book deal or assigned me an agent, but the advice on networking and writing process affirmed my belief in what I’m doing.

Keep Writing

Keep Trying

Keep Putting Yourself Out There

Keep Believing.

At the end of the class, I pulled out a lighter and started to sway. Not really, maybe.

I figured out that talent and hard work find an audience you nurture. I slipped so many business cards into well connected fingers, I’m convinced 1 or 2 didn’t end up picking turkey sandwich morsels of their teeth later during lunch.

The afternoon session on freelance writing had nothing to do with me personally, although my name is Lance and I write a lot for free. Four writers, two of which I follow on the Twitter, Jenn Pozner and Liz Henry, talked about putting a price on your work and getting paid for freelance. I’ve done a little of this and learned I’m doing it wrong. Their were a lot of shocked faces and shaking heads as the panel lectured us on how to earn money for our magic. Selling your words can feel gross when it’s not a book or an entire website you run. The class showed me how to get over it.

As day two came to a professional close, I felt more confidence that I had in a long time. I’m not doing anything wrong, but I know I can do it better. Blogging and professional writing is frustrating when you think it’s just friends, foes, families and fellow freaks occasionally checking you out. I learned it’s more than that. I need to give myself more credit. Blogging is hard but there’s another mantra, you get what you give, especially for those of us with the dreamer’s disease. I should’ve sang that at karaoke.

Part 3 tomorrow night; killer karaoke, years of friendship made real, being late to the party was a good thing and breaking glass.

wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

bookcoverpicajjhkasfpaperbackpicturesad

Save Me San Francisco – BlogHer Part I

Standard

When you spend most of your time in one kind of box wanting to get out, the empty feeling of containment can only be helped by breathing new air. The first thing I noticed getting off the plane in San Francisco was the continual breeze, the Bay Area current that symbolized the different kind of people that live there.

sf4

When my wife. aka The Bobina, and I figured out we could navigate budget and schedule, a week before school starts for two of our three daughters, we signed up for BlogHer 2014, the tenth anniversary of a blogging conference that started in Northern California in 2005. Since I started blogging almost five years ago, I’ve become integrated into several communities and some of those people have attended and talked about BlogHer for years. I’ve been in a deep rut, writing, personally, especially on this space, but the successful launch of my other site, Lefty Pop aka @lefty_pop http://www.leftypop.com I co-own with Linda aka @modmomelleroy, meant I had an opportunity to really figure out what I’m doing and how to do it better.

After landing on Thursday, we rented a car and drove to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, becoming serious tourists, taking pictures with Alcatraz in the background.

alcatraz2

Despite locals telling us that it was unseasonably warm, about 80 degrees, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Bay breeze. In my hometown of Atlanta, summer days are characterized by a stifling hot temperature and air that feels like a scalding wet washcloth smacking you in the face when you walk outside.

We spent several hours walking, eating, shopping, and photographing. I’m never calm, but relaxation swept over me. The left coast gets mocked where I’m from but step one of getting out of the box and the rut was complete. I didn’t even care when we hit the fifth souvenir store. This felt more than a working weekend vacation. It was an intervention.

By the time we knew the way to San Jose, I was energized. We checked into the hotel and the conference, then planned our night, meeting more than a dozen amazing people I’d previously only known in 200 x 200 avatar settings on a computer screen. I didn’t even think about the general weirdness of it all. The quote of the weekend belonged to my writing friend Natalie Ricci aka @singingfool1224 of the blog The Cat Lady Sings who answered someone else saying they felt awkward meeting people, “hey, no one here was the prom queen, we’re all pretty awkward.”

meandnat1

I wasn’t the prom king, either. Being dropped into an island of outcasts was refreshing, like the Bay breeze. I quickly realized that while I did fly west to figure out how to blog better, sell more books, and promote my politics and promote Lefty Pop, with the great double-barreled blast of San Francisco and San Jose, I was also saving myself from the piping hot, stale-aired wet washcloth of self-doubt that had me considering blogging suicide.

The much needed Save Lance intervention was just starting.

Part 2 tomorrow; featuring The Bloggess, book publishing secrets, business card bonanza, freelancing, tribes, and being late to the party.

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

bookcoverpicajjhkasfpaperbackpicturesad

100 Word Song – Best Day Of My Life

Standard

It’s BlogHer week so Leeroy and I tried to reach out to someone we not only think a lot of  but also isn’t attending so they’d be available to write. Carrie http://museunleashed.com/ is one of my favorites. She writes a brilliant science fiction romance story with her great character Rachel. She also has a very eclectic taste in music, Last time Leeroy got to her, she picked the Lego movie tune. This time she chose American Authors The Best Day Of Our Lives. I sing along with this in the car with my daughters.

My 100 is not only a new episode of Silas and Olive but also hooked up to my friend Velvet at http://www.velvetverbosity.com and her one word prompt “faded” http://www.velvetverbosity.com/ .

Here’s my 100.

Silas looked past Olive’s smile, staring at the sun crashing in as dusk pushed through. She leaned in for a kiss. He jumped away, hand in the air like he was trying to grab the dropping sun.

“What’s the matter?”

Silas didn’t answer. He walked to the Cutlass’ driver side motioning Zola to the back seat and barked.

“Everyone get in the car, we’re never coming back here.”

The good memories Silas had of Olive were faded. Olive spoke to Zola.

“Did y’all have a good day?”

Zola answered in a mysterious, flat tone.

“The best day of our lives.”

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

As always, you have 7 days from NOW, to write 100 words inspired by American Authors The Best Day Of My Life. Go see Carrie and Velvet. Use the media that are social to advertise your 100 word magic and pink it up to the green Mr. Linky button below. Wish me luck at blogher, I’ll be one of 4 dudes there.

My Hero

Standard

Why do we insist on heroes being perfect? That’s a rhetorical question, unless you’re a Superman person, then congrats on liking a boring alien who does anything wrong. I prefer mine to be incredibly flawed, like the sarcastic, tortured Spider-man or the brooding, borderline anti-hero, Batman.

When it comes to real life, isn’t it time to admit that there aren’t heroes who aren’t flawed? Some of you will leap up to your screens and shout, policemen, firemen, teachers, and those who serve in the armed forces! Okay, but are they perfect like Superman or flawed like Spider-man and Batman?

chriskluwe

For the past few months I’d attached the word hero to a man named Chris Kluwe. He’s the former punter for the Minnesota Vikings who last kicked in the NFL on the Oakland Raiders practice squad in 2013. In January, he accused his former special teams coach Mike Priefer of making homophobic remarks and admonishing him in front of the team for his same-sex marriage advocacy. Starting the 2012, Kluwe publicly declared support of LGBT rights, including marriage, writing a letter to the editor that appeared in several media outlets countering former Viking Matt Birk’s anti-gay marriage video statement. Kluwe later appeared in a pro-LGBT rights documentary and rallied against California’s Proposition 8 bill. Kluwe and former Baltimore Ravens Brendon Ayanbadejo are the only NFL players to make public stands on these issues. Neither are currently employed by NFL Teams. While Mike Priefer, proven to be a homophobe and a bully, is only suspended 3 games by the team.

chriskluwemik

Chris Kluwe’s twitter account @chriswarcraft is pretty amazing. It’s a mixture of video gaming nerd culture, social justice advocacy, goofiness, and various rants. Yesterday, when a 29-page Minnesota Vikings internal report was released, with 3 pages vindicating everything Kluwe ever said about Priefer, Kluwe’s twitter account went off the deep end. The Vikings spent the other 26 pages covering their butts while exposing Kluwe’s. According to the report, he participated in inappropriate jokes regarding the Penn State rape scandal surrounding Jerry Sandusky, going as far as cutting a hole in his pants and taunting a coach who went to the school with assault remarks.  On his Twitter account, Kluwe responded with an unsubstantiated claim that two Vikings players were caught with an underage girl and threatened to escalate his grievances with the Vikings, further.

The response to Kluwe from sportswriters is both typical and sad. They were looking for a Superman to take down the NFL’s hideous jock culture, but they got a Spider-Man, who’s on the right side of history, but his mouth and fingers are troublesome.

chrisklueellendeg Kluwe with Ellen

No one in this Vikings vs. Chris Kluwe vs. Mike Priefer vs. sportswriters is likable or wise. The Vikings are a team with a recent history of awfulness from a “Sex Boat” scandal where players rented a houseboat, hired strippers and “things” happened, to employing a bigot who helped blackball the team punter. Kluwe may want to take a week or so away from the media that are social and think about how to present himself before the LGBT community tells him to get lost. His voice is needed, but his image needs rehabilitation because the anti-gay crowd will just use his flaws as ammunition. He also should apologize if the Vikings’ allegations are true.

Speaking up against discrimination isn’t just important, it’s vital to a society that must progress faster. Kluwe is one of 2 people out of the two thousand associated with the NFL, America’s most popular sport and highest rated television show, to show courage. But as Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben once said, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Chris Kluwe says the conflict between him and Vikings is only going to get uglier. My hope, for someone I consider kind of a hero, is that he finds wisdom then figures out his next battle. He won this fight. But heroes also find peace.

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

bookcoverpicajjhkasfpaperbackpicturesad

Boys Don’t Cry

Standard

Being a blogger, author, online journalist, and co-owner of the politics and pop culture website Lefty Pop aka http://www.leftypop.com, means I get attention from people who think they know me. Hate mail, or since so many of you tell me I use “love” and “hate” too much, polarizing people, let’s call it Disagreement Mail; is a thing in my life. Between this blog, Lefty Pop, the Twitter, Google + (don’t laugh, there are people on there, sort of) and The Book Of Face, I average about 25 to 35 pieces of Disagreement Mail a day. Recently, I got one from a “Facebook friend”. Let’s call him Stan.

“Your pandering to your female “fans” is getting (freaking) pathetic, don’t you think? We get it, you live with 4 women, they took your balls, and you love gays, and that stupid “war on women bull(crap)”. If you think MSNBC is going to come calling because you’re this put upon (crappy) liberal in the conservative South, then get the (freak) over yourself. You’re just being a (female cat). Be a man! That’s what women want, a man!”

I did some editing because my daughters read this space and we’re all smart enough to see Stan The Man’s world view, or Lance view. This isn’t the first time I’ve gotten this critique. Let’s go hip hop on Stan’s Disagreement Mail and break it down.

1) Pandering to female “fans”. Here’s a factoid about writing online. Females outnumber males 1 gazillion to 1. I suck at math but that’s a fair statistic. I know of maybe 12 guys who blog. Until a year ago, that number was 4, but I started networking. We’re planning a retreat where we’ll meet in an internet café and bang on Starbucks coffee cans and express our feelings. No, not really, that’ll never happen. There many more female bloggers than male. My demographics are identical to other guys’. I never set out to be the dude with a bunch of gals hanging around me, but ’tis my life. This is why I workout and go into an office for my real job away from writing. I get to at least say hello to other XY chromosomes. Also, fighting for equal rights for gay people and women is the decent, correct thing to do. I shouldn’t have to defend that, but I will, forever.

2) My balls. Living with a wife and 3 daughters means I compromise and sacrifice a lot. I find this an endearing quality of mine, because it makes my household run smoothly and my heart, full. My politics proudly lean left. The left is where compromise and sacrifice reside in today’s arena of ideas and political discourse. Whether you and Stan agree with me, so be it. I’m a lefty in a righty culture. Being too punk rock for the room is something I usually enjoy, because it means I’m not lock stepping with the Joneses, whom I can’t even keep up with, anyway.

3) Being a man. If, at the end of the day, my wife and 3 daughters see an example of someone who doesn’t knee-jerk respond to stress with violence, either verbally or physically, then I’m a real man. I ask my wife constantly, “are we okay?” Most of the time she says yes, but when she does say no, it has nothing to do with whether I’m being a rhymes with the watusi, it has to do with me being insensitive, bi-polar, hard to get along with and a cliché “dude” about hating shopping, not wanting to watch the Food Network and soap opera-like shows, and see her and my daughters try on clothes for an hour before we leave the house. Being a real man has more to do with love, care, and hope, not driving a truck with a gun rack and hanging metal nuts.

langreen

There are a lot of Stans out there, perpetuating gender stereotypes out of fear, self-loathing or good old-fashioned, ha.., I mean disagreement. Whether you click on this page, Lefty Pop, or my media that are social, I wish you see someone just trying to figure out how to be a better person, notice I didn’t type “man”, and wanting to do so in a way that sets some sort of example for the next neurotic writer behind me.

I believe in progress. Many years ago, I listened to The Cure, alone, sometimes in tears, afraid of what my “real men” friends or family would think. Now, I can do so with an audience of thousands, mmmm, okay, hundreds, fine, dozens. Screw it, share this and let’s talk, we can make it hundreds, at least. Don’t make me cry.

Here’s The Cure.

I wrote two books. They got good reviews. The third one, a sequel to the first, Woman Of Troy, is on the way, very soon.

The Ballad of Helene Troy, an underdog story about a female musician in New York City, and Soul To Body, about an ex-1990s guitar player trying to raise his teenage daughter after the death of his wife, her mother, are available, digitally, on Amazon.com for your kindles, and in paperback from Lulu.com

bookcoverpicajjhkasfpaperbackpicturesad