Curb your evangelism

collage of woman looking out window through many color circles

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It’s late, so this will be short. I’ve been reading some sales material that implies powerful results in short time periods. Social media stuff.

There’s a lot of this material out there. I’ve been working in the amazing playground of online communication for about ten years, and teaching and consulting with people to help them use these tools for the past three. I’ve spoken to groups and worked one on one with all kinds of people.

I can tell you there is one thing perfectly consistent: Humans are stuck with human-scale and human-speed. We develop relationships alongside the rhythm of our heartbeat. If it goes too fast it becomes unstable.

We can get really excited by charismatic teachers and I think it’s quite natural to fall in love with the potential of the exponential. I’m an evangelist: I know we can orchestrate profoundly beautiful change with these tools. It’s happening.

But not overnight. It takes more than two days to progress from beginner to advanced on a social media tool, and I’d advise you to be very cautious about giving your money to someone who makes it seem otherwise. It takes more than a couple of months to reveal your value and attract continued interest. I’d say it takes about two years to round out a web presence and establish your juicy community. That’s two years of focused, intense-learning-curve, collaborative sharing and growth.

That’s what I want to say tonight.

Play for real, stay in love, and don’t be a stranger.

Suzanna

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Instant skills: Just add water, time, intention, focus, chocolate

Side view human head with multiple=

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Your brain in the global brain

Are you way out on the cutting edge of today’s communication tools? (Are you sure?) I’m out there, but I think that edge is kinda broad. More focused learning is required, because I want to have more fun, help more great clients, and bring more of my creative soul into my work. So here I go.

July is learning month. Not that I’m ever excused from the constant learning curves. But this month, and on deep into August, I am focusing on the highest priority and highest quality learning now available to me as I work toward my goals.

I’d like to share this learning experience with my readers. This is the first post as I assemble the materials I’ll be studying.

About the classes, “free bonuses,” and how I pace myself
(A synopsis and the whole list of what I’m learning is at the bottom of this post)

Sean d’Souza’s Brain Alchemy Masterclass
Through his company Psychotactics, Sean has begun to release some of his workshops into the free-verse. I’m one of the fortunate people who signed up for this first one. It’s really a big commitment. Accepting valuable material, whether you pay a lot of money, a little, or none at all, is a kind of contract. At least I think so.

Quick aside on freebies and bonuses
I can’t even count all the “freebies” and “bonuses” I have been given over the years as I’ve developed my professional life on the web. Frankly, I’ve stopped valuing bonuses which come with some $97 or $197 or $1297 product. I know the background, how this works, and that there’s an endless supply of material for the online marketer to push to their followers, free of charge. Who has time to make use of this? It’s actually a downside.

The more bonuses I am offered in a sales letter, the less I value the product.

MEMO to Online Marketers: If you can’t tell me why I should pay for the product you have prepared, then no type or amount of bonuses will move me. Clear enough?

I hope we are getting onto even ground here. I am trying to convey to you that when Sean d’Souza offers one of his products for free, I will assertively make my way to the front of the line. By the way, it may be true that people don’t value things they don’t pay for. But in this case, I know I am sitting on gold and my intention is to learn and implement everything Sean teaches.

So when I began receiving this class, which Sean delivered in planned installments that he knows work best for assimilation, I knew I would have to hold on to them until now. And oh, I’ve put them on my iPod Shuffle, so I can walk, walk, walk while I learn, learn, learn.

Learning makes me nervous
Like most entrepreneurs I am always busy shaping my products and services, streamlining my marketing, and keeping an eye out for that special part of the cutting edge I want to develop. It’s a huge brain task. It keeps me more busy than I want.

Pushing myself to focus on developing new skills means pulling focus away from those daily tasks – with intention. I am committing to six weeks of this. At least two weeks of it will be deep focus, with a bare minimum of time spent answering emails and holding up the walls I’ve constructed. That’s scary.

Two weeks for video
Mixed with the scary is the excited part where I develop a big new brain area around everything video. Video ROCKS. It speaks to the visual artist in me and offers tons of opportunity at the cutting edge of web marketing. So, so much there and so, so fun.

At least that’s what Dave Kaminski of Web Video University said in his interview with Darren Rowse on Third Tribe. I’m leaning heavily on his assertion that once you get some skills under your belt, it really starts to be fun. That’s where I’m going. Fun video land. Oh boy.

Alan Lastufka, in The Insider’s Guide to YouTube, said that the way to learn something is to read up, experiment, take notes, review notes, and experiment some more. This post is part of both note-taking and experimenting. I learn well when I teach something. That’s in there too. Are you learning anything from this? (Say yes! Say yes!)

Dave Kaminski echoes this with “Don’t get hung up on equipment. The equipment is not nearly as important as gaining experience.”

Pacing
Wiping my appointment calendar clean and committing to a schedule of intentional learning are the first two steps to pace this brain adventure. After I get this post up, I’ll do a mind map of all the material. I’ll look at the kinds of brain areas in demand for these learning curves, and create a pattern of engagement that sounds like fun. It has to be dynamic. Whether I follow it or not remains to be seen, but if it makes sense on paper, at least I have something to work with (or push against).

SYNOPSIS
*I’m sending myself to self-school, July and August.
*Accepting course material is a contract with the author.
*Are you kidding? Keep your free bonuses. Who has time.
*New skills happen when you experiment with what you’re learning.
*Video ROCKS.
*Keep the brain happy by creating a dynamic pattern of engagement.
*Let people know what you’re doing.

THE LIST
Sean d’Souza’s Brain Alchemy Masterclass
Glenda Watson Hyatt’s BAM: Blog Accessibility Mastermind
Screenflow Tutorials and practice videos
Michael Phillips’ Marketing Without Advertising
Lynda.com Video classes, Mac proficiency, iMovie, iLife
Apple Store classes on Mac proficiency
O’Reilly.com User Group Leader planning material
Alan Lastufka and Michael Dean’s “YouTube: An Insider’s Guide”
Third Tribe better citizen class (participate regularly) (Link through graphic on the right)

Accountability Section (SMILE)

Monday Recap, July 5th
Bad news and Good news.
Here’s the bad news: My iPod Shuffle is not playing Sean’s recordings audibly. I’ve cleared it and reloaded one piece at a time to try to get something I can hear. But no, it seems to play one track. Until I can figure something out here, I’ll have to listen on my laptop.

Here’s the good news:
In spite of a very late start after yesterday’s celebratory expenditure of energy, (it was fun!) I have completed the Monday lesson from Glenda Watson Hyatt on accessibility, studied the YouTube book, made a bunch of notes on that, and showed up on Third Tribe. I was able to help out with some feedback on Third Tribe requests, that always feels good. I also did a block of poetry writing – yay! – helps me feel like me. And I interacted with my business coach about what we are doing this month. Next, some follow up on new people I met yesterday, authors with interest in Bay Area Bloggers Society, and then more work on the video world.

Talk back, okay?

How did your day go? Are you keeping your hands in the clay? I’d love to hear some of your challenges and little triumphs. It all counts, you know.

Suzanna Stinnett

Follow me on Twitter: @Brainmaker

Addendum, July 11th. I have now wobbled through some 8 hours of training on iMovie and Garage Band through Lynda.com. Evidence: My new movie. A kind of response to seeing women walking in the Avon Walk, and matching up some wacky footage (is it footage when it’s digital?) I took with my laptop camera. Here is the 2nd version, on YouTube, where it’s supposed to be:

Cancer Did Not Win: Still Here, Version 2

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BABS June 30th Overview

Red and blue logo for BABS, with city silhouette

Welcome to the “links and looks” post for Bay Area Bloggers Society Meetup on June 30th.

I’ve decided to start posting our notes rather than printing handouts for the individual Meetups. These notes will also be available by email so you can print them if you like. Just pop me a message at suzannastinnett@gmail.com if you’d like to have the PDF.

LINKS and LOOKS

INTRO NOTES:

BABS is a recognized User Group!

O’Reilly Media’s community engagement specialist Jonathon Johns contacted me last week offering sponsorship from O’Reilly by way of their User Group Program. This wonderful news came with offers of books for our raffle, ebook coupons which access their digital catalogue, and other supportive ideas. I’m still exploring the territory of being recognized as a User Group Leader. Great stuff! I announced our raffle of several cool new books from O’Reilly.

On Accessibility:

I introduced Glenda Watson Hyatt, our global community leader in teaching web accessibility for visually challenged and other-challenged web users. I’m participating in her class and sharing some of what I am learning with the BABS group.

Follow Glenda on Twitter: @GlendaWH

See Glenda’s blog, Do It Myself: The Accessibility 100 Posts

Action One: You can begin to make your blog more accessible by adding “alt text” to your images. This is an excellent beginning to orient yourself toward the needs of low-vision users and others who use speech tools to experience your blog content.

Action Two: Learn the acronym “POUR” for your blog. Glenda covers this extensively on her site.

Action Three: Go to WebAIM.org and read the Principles of Readability.

Questions I’m Asking

I can see how “publishing,” which bloggers are doing every day, along with ebook publishers and other forms of web content publishing, is starting to meld into “producing.” As I refine the way I want to present my own educational material, I am moving more toward video, particularly “screencasting,” which combines action video with capturing what’s on the screen and puts it all into a YouTube-able product. I see how I’m intrigued by the aspects of show production, and all the pieces that are required for that to fly.

The question set I posed for the group tonight is this:

Is publishing of digital content melding with producing?

Are web publishers being producers?

Is it useful to think of publishing as a form of entertainment production?

How does this affect writers who consider how their work will be marketed?

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Tonight’s Presenter, Fred Greene

I introduced Fred Greene of Greene Creative Services and SmarterPodcasts.com. Fred gave us an outstanding talk on podcasting – in spite of our inability to hook up to the projector so we could see the nice Power Point slides he made.

Fred has performed the duties of podcaster for over four years, on his Golf Smarter podcast. He knows the whole magillah related to producing these shows, interviewing people, and making sure it is deliverable to his listeners. Everyone learned a great deal tonight about the business and process of podcasting. Thanks Fred!

Clickable image of the Golf Smarter Podcast with golfball on the grass

We all had lots of questions for Fred.

Fred Greene presenting on podcasting at BABS in front of the green screen

After Fred’s presentation, we had our raffle drawing. Six BABS attendees went home with new goodies from O’Reilly.

Big shout-out to Mary Cary of VideoBlog Marketing, who continues to support BABS by offering her green-screen studio for our meetings in Sausalito. Kisses!

Thanks to every one for making it a great night! Stay tuned to the MeetUp – the next BABS gathering will be announced soon.

And a big thank you to Jon Johns and O’Reilly Media for all the user groups you support.

~Suzanna Stinnett

Find Bay Area Bloggers Society on the MeetUp

Find Suzanna on Twitter: @Brainmaker

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BAM! Pouring blogs with Glenda Watson Hyatt

Cloud Gate mirror reflective orblike steel sculpture in ChicagoI’m excited to be part of Glenda Hyatt’s BAM! Blog Accessibility Mastermind class. First day, and I feel I am being immersed in a new understanding of what it means to provide content which can be accessed by people who may be restricted to keyboards, or have other challenges in perusing your web or blog site.

At the next meeting of Bay Area Bloggers Society on June 30th, I hope I will understand some aspects of accessibility well enough to start teaching it to the group. After all, this is one of the reasons I started BABS – to promote inclusivity.

I have a ton of questions, so I’m chomping to get on to the next lessons. Big thanks to Glenda, who authored “How POUR is your blog?” I highly recommend everyone get behind the reality of access to our content, learn some concepts, and apply them.

For you full-visioned folks like me, let me leave you with a question. Sit at your computer and put your hands in your lap. Close your eyes. Now. Using just your arrow keys, navigate. How’s that going?

More to come,

Suzanna Stinnett

Follow me on Twitter: Brainmaker

Find Glenda on Twitter: GlendaWH

p.s. My apologies to individuals who cannot fully access my blog today. I’m working to change that.

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Big brave leaps in the global brain

micro photo of a brain cellDiving into Judith Horstman’s new book, The Scientific American Brave New Brain, I immediately found several rabbit holes I can’t wait to explore.

Horstman is taking us on a whole new kind of ride. Explaining where technology is headed – just around the corner – as well as where it has fooled us, she dials in the future roles of science, technology, and even thinking itself.

I’ll tell you more as I absorb this fascinating new book. Meanwhile, here’s where you can learn about it:
JudithHorstman.com

And mark your calendar for her San Francisco book launch party at Book Passages at the Ferry Building, on June 14th. More about that here:

Left Coast Writers

Suzanna Stinnett

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Night full of stars at BABS

blue and red logo for BABS

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Bay Area Bloggers Society was hosted by VideoBlog Marketing in Sausalito – with a great presentation by owner Mary Cary, and plenty of answers on blogging, video, and podcasting by attendees.

As the founder of BABS, it’s super gratifying to me to have an evening with so many people sharing information and learning about each other as well as the tools of the trade. I had a blast tonight! And I learned a lot. Since I’m about to buy a pocket video camera, I was very interested in what Fred Greene, of Greene Creative, had to say about the Kodak Zi8 versus the Flip Ultra HD. Fred has experience with both cameras. That’s the kind of expertise I needed to make my decision. And that kind of knowledge-sharing is precisely why I created BABS.

Shari Weiss has a lot of experience doing quick videos while attending classes and talks at conferences, and she informed us with some tips on getting the job done. We also heard from Janet Tokerud, Sally Kuhlman, and others with lively ideas after Mary’s presentation. Oh, and those yummy brownies from Marilyn (@fun_master on Twitter), and dee-lish sushi and snacks from Sally. Thanks you guys!

Our next BABS meeting is June 29th, and we will have Fred Greene sharing the world of podcasting. Fred has produced a podcast every week for four years — quite an accomplishment! Head over to the BABS Meetup to stay informed about what’s next. Be sure to watch the video below, which was made courtesy of VideoBlog Marketing.

See you soon!

Suzanna Stinnett

Bay Area Bloggers Society

Our new video:

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The 4 corners of your writer’s brain you need to open up now

drawing of two brain neurons connecting

Stinnett illustration archives

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“The dreamer whose dreams are non-utilitarian has no place in this world.” Henry Miller, 1945

Henry Miller was talking about an enduring problem every writer must face. Writers who refuse to embrace the beautiful utility of today’s book delivery systems (via digital) are on the wrong side of a rapidly deepening gap.

And it’s not that hard to get yourself up to date, people. Your biggest problem may be that you haven’t realized the role of “marketing brain” in the whole process of your writing. Yes, yes, of course: you must write for love, not for money. But make sure that some of that love is for your reader.

HEADS UP here: We have crossed the threshold into a new world of book delivery. This new world affects all writers and all readers. Fiction and nonfiction. Traditional publishing and everything else. We’re talking about digitally downloadable books, whether they are in print or in audio. We’re talking about your potential readers whom you have not yet considered. And we are talking about big changes in the control you have over your results: Your readership, reputation, and income.

YOUR MAIN JOB is to crack open your brain so new information about delivery models can come flowing in. Now relax, take a breath, and start learning this language. I need you in this conversation. We — the writers — get to steer this ship.

~> OKAY. BRAIN BUILDING TIME. PLEASE DRINK SOME WATER. <~

FIRST CORNER:
Realize that your readers are exposed to several new educational streams which are opening them up to digital downloads. They may already know more about it than you do. This is happening through libraries, through online book ordering sites, and through the friends of your readers who have already embraced digital audio and e-books.

GREAT NEWS: You don’t have to educate your future readers. That part is being done for you right now – and that’s a huge advantage.

SECOND CORNER:
Realize that marketing, which is essential to your success, really means just caring enough to figure out what your readers need you to know. You don’t need an MBA. You just need to care, listen and explore with your readers. Henry Miller spoke of utility – your reader may be utilizing tools you haven’t heard of. With search tools like Twitter, you have no excuse for not knowing what your reader needs you to do.

So commit to a deliberate inquiry right this minute, with this article, and develop a real understanding of what has already happened in book delivery systems. (Below are some of the systems in place.)

THIRD CORNER:
Look carefully at the statistics below regarding downloaded books, audio and e-books in 2009. Think about your readers and how many of them may actually be represented in these statistics. Broaden your horizons by realizing the potential of a readership connecting through web tools.

STILL GREAT NEWS: Remember you don’t have to educate your readers about the tech. Your job is to start building some connective tissue so you show up where they are looking.

FOURTH CORNER:
Set your creative mind loose on the possibilities and potential of these different delivery systems to support your writing. See if this inquiry can change how you think about what you write. Notice, for example, that enthusiastic new readers who have visual challenges or other physical challenges may emerge when you make your books more accessible through audio and multi-platform delivery.

Imagine how you might put some of these pieces together to serve your readers better, while creating the flows (think income, recognition and reputation) you want from your writing. Get into this conversation and collaborate with your readers and your fellow writers.

Now that you have a solid brain area working around this issue, look at some of the ways your readers are finding and reading their books. These statistics can help you see what you might be missing out on. In the next post, I’ll provide some action steps to help you be efficient with this important exploration.

AUTHORS LEADING INTO SUCCESS
When you look at the stats below, check out the four adult fiction e-books most downloaded (after Dan Brown). Ever heard of Linda Kleypas? Wonder why her romance novels are the next four most-downloaded adult e-books? One reason is that she engaged the e-reading tools and provided this option for the demographic reading her novels. (She’s also very professional.) There are plenty of writers out there who can do the same thing. The stats for 2010 should be MUCH more diverse — if you — if we — get out there and engage this system. Linda’s doing it. Why aren’t you?

PRICING:
Check out those audiobook prices. This is also changing — and quick. I’m going to make some suggestions here. Just think about how this might change how you outline, write, produce and publish your work. Allow your brain to expand into this and be creative about it.

Content is getting cheaper — this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can mean that writers make more money. How?

While people are still buying digital books at print-book prices, often paying around $20 for them in downloadable audio, there’s a sweeping change under way.

Using sites like Smashwords, authors are starting to offer much cheaper options. What if your book was available on every e-reader platform for $1.99? Sound terrible? What if that meant that millions of people could find your book and downloaded it — because it’s such a small risk — instead of a few thousand or less buying your book in print or even digital audio? What if that meant that your name got circulated through hundreds of thousands of brains and you and your brand became highly recognizable? What if that could be done without cutting down trees?

What if you started making chapters of your book available, and writing fiction more serially and in short, compact forms? Could that mean your 300 page novel could be offered in six or seven or eight pieces at $1.99 each? Would you mind selling your book digitally at a total price of $14.00? What if you were giving up to 40% to the distributor? How does that compare to your royalties on print books?

STATISTICS TIME (chocolate might help with this section)

From this comprehensive article on Overdrive.com

—  401 million website pages viewed by library patrons (69 percent growth over 2008) and 8.7 million digital titles checked out (63 percent increase over 2008)
—  4 billion minutes of spoken word audio downloaded from library websites
—  70 percent increase in audiobook checkouts over 2008, while e-Book checkouts increased by 53 percent
—  40 percent increase in new library users over 2008
—  The OverDrive digital catalog for libraries grew to 300,000 titles with the addition of 100,000 e-Books, 27,000 audiobooks, and 4,000 music and video titles
–Using new Facebook® and TwitterTM sharing features, library users shared what they were downloading from their library thousands of times
—  OverDrive launched mobile versions of nearly all library download websites and released audiobook apps for Windows Mobile and Android phones

Top five titles in each adult category include:

Most Downloaded Adult Fiction Audiobooks from the Library
1. “The Lost Symbol,” Dan Brown, Books on Tape
2. “The Host,” Stephenie Meyer, Books on Tape
3. “The Associate,” John Grisham, Books on Tape
4. “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand, Blackstone Audio, Inc.
5. “The 8th Confession,” James Patterson, Books on Tape

Most Downloaded Adult Fiction e-Books from the Library
1. “The Lost Symbol,” Dan Brown, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
2. “Devil in Winter,” Lisa Kleypas, HarperCollins
3. “Again the Magic,” Lisa Kleypas, HarperCollins
4. “Because You’re Mine,” Lisa Kleypas, HarperCollins
5. “Dreaming of You,” Lisa Kleypas, HarperCollins

Most Downloaded Adult Nonfiction Audiobooks from the Library
1. “25 Things to Say to the Interviewer to Get the Job You Want,” Dexter Hawk, Blackstone Audio
2. “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell, Books on Tape
3. “Blink,” Malcolm Gladwell, Books on Tape
4. “Three Cups of Tea,” Greg Mortenson, Tantor Media
5. “The 4-Hour Work Week,” Timothy Ferriss, Blackstone Audio

Most Downloaded Adult Nonfiction e-Books from the Library (2009)
(Title, Author, Publisher)
1. “Blink,” Malcolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company
2. “The 100 Simple Secrets of Successful People,” David Niven, HarperCollins
3. “Marley & Me,” John Grogan, HarperCollins
4. “Dreams from My Father,” Barack Obama, Crown Publishing Group
5. “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life,” Daniel G. Amen, M.D., Crown Publishing Group

OverDrive also operates the Digital Bookmobile (www.digitalbookmobile.com), a high-tech 18-wheeler traveling North America on behalf of public libraries to raise awareness about free library downloads. In 2009, the Digital Bookmobile held 155 events with public libraries in 34 states and provinces. Since the tour launched in August of 2008, the Digital Bookmobile has traveled more than 25,000 miles and trained more than 35,000 library users on download services from their library.

THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING
Don’t be afraid to play in this ballpark. Your ability to think experimentally about how your writing will be delivered is key to your future success.

Even if you really want your book in print, and that’s fine, consider experimenting with these delivery models in order to build your name. Your publisher will be very happy about that. (If your publisher doesn’t “get” this, best look for a different publisher.)

Addition: In recent months I have become involved with publishing through Amazon on Kindle. There are many reasons to do this. Here is one of my Kindle guides, The 4-Hour Publisher, which outlines what you need to know and do to have a good product in the Kindle store:

Relax with these ideas and let your massively creative brain bat this around. See what happens. Start noticing more of these emerging worlds, and observe what authors are doing with alternative modes of delivery which are already firmly in place, with words flowing through digital audio like a fat, healthy river.

To happy, productive writing,
Suzanna and the E-book fairy

The E-book fairy says:
On Twitter, follow @novelsandebooks, @brainmaker (me), @audiobooks_uk, @djainslie, @writingspirit

old green leather book called ebook fairy

Volume One coming soon

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Mostly unpredictable – the future, that is

dramatic photo of black and white ash cloud over farm in iceland

With the volcano in Iceland affecting air travel across Europe, this photo (of the same event) is one way to say “This really is an extra day.” What I mean is, we just don’t know what’s around the corner. For the primal brain, that limbic lizard brain we all have, this is nerve-wracking. But for the slightly more sophisticated parts of our brains, where we go to another level and make meaning out of things, it’s not a totally bad thing. Use the spectacular array of possibility to juice up your creative side. For us writers, it’s a call to engage the imagination fully. Pure expansion. Can you dig it?

Suzanna

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Dying – or just verklempt – you still have to write

(If you’re new to my blog, you might want to read my launch post: Gotta launch.)

dog leaning head over looking bored
You can still hold a pen.
One of the things you have to know if you’re living the writerly life, is that you write even when you feel like you’re dying. Not to be too extreme. In fact there are demigods among us who say that’s when it’s most important that you write.

I’m devoted: I write with a migraine. Okay, let that poor skinny cat out of the bag: I’m a compulsive writer. So I’ve got a leg up on some of you. Being compelled to write helps. But it does not secure any decent writing nor does it guarantee products. The sometimes side effect is that I write when I should be editing, revising, publishing or posting. So there’s that.

Sudden lurch of the story…
Last week I broke the lock on a story I’ve been harboring for three or four years. I was traveling from the Sierras back to the Pacific on that hideous invention we call “80.” I hate this road. I hate the road itself, and especially its sprawl of consumerism, the big-box stores, fast food chains and boring developments. I hate its straightness and its predictable gridlock.

The whole thing exhausts me. Our usual stop in Davis can perk me up a bit, if I ignore how much road is left before I can smell the salty fog. This time, I dropped into a rabbit hole of dark chocolate and caramel  — made into a frozen drink no less! — something I never and should never even consider.

But there I was, on a mildly glowing Sunday in late March, twisting my body chemistry into a kind of neon DNA, and just watching with awe as the pent-up story escaped onto paper. The story is still growing, this is good. Right now it looks like a paper doll with the wrong size arms and the head on backwards, but I’ll fix that.

So you just keep the pen moving.
The thing is, I do write even when I think I’m dying. Hell, I wrote all of the book  “Open Here” (later published as “Little Shifts), in a state of life-limbo during cancer treatment. (Granted I was also high on Ativan, so maybe that doesn’t count.)

This morning, though, I have a Class 2 migraine and here I am writing to you. I’m even going to kick the ball right through to my blog. See?

Writing ain’t pretty, my friends. Surely that’s not why we do it.

Keep on being yourself, only more so. Then you can go out and play.
Love,
Suzanna

dog with stick in mouth

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The dirt on mushrooms

(If you’re new to my blog, you might want to read my launch post: Gotta launch.)

red mushrooms with white spots
Mushroom wandering
I have always been delighted by the random showing of mushrooms on my walks. In Sonoma county, where I lived for many years, I walked in Ragle Park several times a week. The park is heavily used for games and gatherings, and much of it is groomed, but the fantastic Amanita muscaria poked itself up in the lawn, near the sidewalks, and in the shadowy circles under evergreen trees all around the park.

Amanita is super showy, of course, but I am just about as excited by the whole array of mushrooms that inhabit the many microclimates of coastal and near-coastal landscapes north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Paul Stamets as mushroom agent
My love of mushrooms reaches back over the last two or three decades as I followed the work of Paul Stamets. I consider Paul to be a kind of reluctant mushroom god. I could tell you all kinds of amazing things about Paul and his work in the mushroom world, but for now, just know that his work has revealed beautiful natural solutions to a number of our tricky environmental challenges today. Through Paul, I have also learned more about the depth of mushroom mysteries and the profoundly connected ecology of mushrooms around our planet. Mushrooms have tremendous healing properties and some are being used to boost immune systems and help people fight cancer.

I just learned that Paul is in the Dirt Movie. Unless you’re a dirt geek, (totally not the same as a dirty geek), you may not realize that dirt is the living skin of the planet. And that we can help cultures around the world who have serious agriculture problems by taking action to restore the life of their dirt. Exploring the website, I joined the Dirt Movement, so be forewarned, now you’ll be hearing from me about dirt as well as mushrooms. (Knowing about these things is also very useful if you happen to get into a conversation with a fairy.)

It just keeps getting better!

stay dirty,
Suzanna

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