Monthly Archives: Apr 2016

Random Musings
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Facebook is My Cookbook: The Power of the Save Option

Please tell me I’m not the only one who decides I can make every single video recipe shared on Facebook. Please?

For sure, I have certain criteria before I decide I’m willing to commit time and resources:

  • It must be food we would eat – or that I can browbeat my children into trying.
  • It must be made with ingredients I could actually find in my local Publix.
  • It must be (deceptively) easy.
  • Bonus points if it’s made with the slow cooker.

Thankfully, that’s kind of the new thing in sharing recipes. Is it easy? Will our kids eat it? Yes? Than a million parents sigh in content and add a new meal to the rotation of things our kids probably won’t eat, but might, so we all live in perpetual hope.

After I listened to my mom and aunt talk about how sharing recipes or being tagged in a post to “save” it was an annoying option (but the only one they knew), I swooped in for the rescue – imagine a cape, a phone, and a Facebook account.

“Do you know how to ‘save’ posts you like on Facebook?”

Nope, they didn’t. I figure if they don’t, neither do a lot of other people. It’s actually pretty easy. It’s called the save function, and it’s turned Facebook into my cookbook:

Facebook is my new cookbook thanks to the saved options.

Okay, so the zucchini tots are less likely to be made than the apple dump cake, but you see my point. How did I do it?

It’s very simple.

Saving posts from your browser:

In your feed or on the Facebook page the recipe (or whatever) comes from, find the one you want to save.

Then, click the down arrow in the top right corner of the post, and you’ll get a drop-down menu. It looks like this:

Save Video on Facebook 1

Viola! You’ve saved your favorite recipe or article or whatever. It works for any post on Facebook.

Now, it’s time to go see it later.

When you’re on your browser, you’ve got a list of menu items on the left side of the screen. Find the one that says “Saved” and click it.

Finding saving videos on Facebook

What about on your phone? It’s not much different. Watch:

I’m using an iPhone so if you’re on Android it might look a little different, but the principle is the same.

Find the post you want to save, and click the down-arrow in the top right corner.

image1

Don’t judge me. I’m smart-assy, and I know it!

Now it’s time to find it. Look at the bottom of the page on your phone when you have Facebook open. See that “More” option? Click it!

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See the “Saved” option at the bottom of the list? There it is. Just click on it, and you’ll see everything you’ve saved.

Of course, if you’re like me, you may have to scroll for a while to find things you saved weeks ago, but they’re in there. And when you’re done and no longer want to keep whatever you’ve saved, you can click on the “X” in the top right corner of the saved post, and it’ll be archived for you.

So while I hope I’m not the only one who’s turned Facebook into my own personal cookbook, I also hope I’m not the only one using the “Saved” function either.

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Books
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History, Fantasy, Romance, and Marketing: What I Read in March

This post contains affiliate links.

Part of me wants to say that I didn’t feel very productive in March, but if reading counts as doing something productive, holy hell, I was on top of my game. Between traveling for a week at the beginning of the month and taking on some extra writing jobs during the month, I managed to read more than I usually do.

In case you don’t know, or you just want more proof that I’m kind of quirky about things, I keep a spreadsheet of authors I love and all the books they’ve written. When I come to a series, I go down the list – even if I’ve read the book before. You can chart a story and an author’s growth through a series, and (as a writer) I find that fascinating. Plus my INTJ ways sort of compel me to have a method and system to keep up with the books I read.

So what did I read in March? A little bit of everything. And they were good enough that I’m recommending them to my fellow readers of the world.

Books I read in March that you should check out!

The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

I picked up her latest book, Lionheart, weeks ago, and I was inspired to read the rest of her catalog. I read Sunne in Splendour years and years ago, but only remembered the barest details. This is a sweeping epic that tells the story of Richard III’s life – he was the son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and one of the (multiple) Henry’s. He was the Duke of York, the white rose in the War of the Roses. Y’all, I cried, I cheered, and I felt every emotion imaginable. With several hundred pages to read, it wasn’t difficult to feel a little bit of everything. Her style is very detailed, and she switches character points of view, but it’s wonderful because you get into everyone’s head, and you know exactly what’s happening.

Seth Godin is the Master

I’ve followed Seth Godin’s blog for a while. He always makes me think, and he often inspires me – not just to be a better marketer, but a better human, too. Many of my philosophies about marketing, selling, and creating content online are inspired by his thinking – even if there are times when I fall woefully short. For whatever reason, I’d never read any of his books until now.

Tribes, All Marketers Tell Stories, and The Icarus Deception are three different books from three different points in Godin’s thinking and evolution on marketing, storytelling, and content creation. They all build one on each other.

Tribes is about leading groups that matter to you. Instead of trying to mass market and find mass appeal, find your tribe. He posits, and I agree, that groups of people who share an interest – whatever that interest may be – want to be lead. And if you can’t lead, at least join the tribe, and be present.

 

All Marketers Tell Stories is really all marketers tell lies. These aren’t harmful lies, but lies as stories – the things we tell ourselves because we want them to be true, even if they’re not. By believing they’re true, these particular stories become part of our reality about ourselves. The power of marketing is to tell a story that fits a customer’s view. The story has to be authentic, the product/service has to be a good one, but ultimately success will happen only if the customer believes the story or the story fits into their own personal “lie” of who they are, what they want, and how this thing you’re selling will work for them.

The Icarus Deception reminded me of Big Magic, which I read in February. It’s about letting go of fear and realizing that anyone can be an artist, anyone can create something. Godin reminds us that we need to worry less about approval and success and more about making a connection. To do that, we need to keep making art – whatever that may look like.

 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

How did I make it so long without reading The Hunger Games? I’m not really sure. I saw the first movie a few years ago, but since dystopian futures aren’t really my thing, I didn’t give it another thought. And then Aidan was looking for more books to read for school, and he needed them at a certain point and grade level (we follow the Accelerated Reader program around here). I came across The Hunger Games series, and he ate up all the books. I was quickly hooked, too. The books (as is often the case) are better than the movies. I love being in Katniss’s head and hearing her confusion, her mistrust, even her rare optimism.

It didn’t take long, and within the first few days of April, I’d already read the second two books. Yes, they really are that good. Maybe now I’ll watch the rest of the movies.

Upon the Midnight Clear by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Remember when I mentioned my spreadsheet for keeping up with books and authors? Well, Sherrilyn Kenyon is on the list. She writes paranormal/fantasy romance featuring Dark Hunters, nearly immortal people who cheated death by selling their soul for one last taste of vengeance on the people who killed them. In exchange, they agree to fight off Daimons (soul-sucking near-immortals – as long as they eat souls) who prey on mankind. Basically, everyone is hot, and everyone is alone and thinks love sucks. Until they meet their soulmate.

The other side of the story are the Dream Hunters. They’re the ones who either give us good dreams or deal with the evil beings who will haunt our dreams. The only way they can feel emotions is during a human’s dream. Oh, and don’t forget entire pantheons of gods and goddesses, as well as demons and other foul creatures.

Upon the Midnight Clear is the story of a goddess who happens to be a Dream Hunter who must fight and destroy the god of pain. Her only help comes in the form of a mortal, Aidan, who’s embittered, lonely, and hiding from the world. Hot sex and romance ensue. I’m pretty sure you know how it ends, but it’s still fun getting to that point.

Mercedes Lackey: An Amazing Imagination

I read two books by Mercedes Lackey this month: Steadfast, one of the Elemental Mages books, and Firebird, an early taste of Lackey’s dive into fairy┬átales.

Steadfast is book eight in the Elemental Mages series. What I like is that while they’re all connected, they can be read as standalone books – no cliffhangers here! In this one, we meet Katie who is an acrobat in the circus. She runs away from her abusive husband and finds herself in the perfect position to become a magician’s assistant. That “magician” happens to be an Elemental Mage. There’s magic. There’s fantasy. There’s intrigue. There’s romance. Hell, there’s even an angry abusive drunk who makes her life miserable. In the end, with a little big of magic, anything is possible.

Firebird is similar to another story Lackey wrote as part of her Five Hundred Kingdoms fairy tale series. It’s based on a Russian fairy tale about the youngest son of nine who becomes the “fool” in order to avoid being bullied to death – or outright killed – by his father and brothers. The story follows the son, Ilya, on a magical adventure after he sees a Firebird, a mythical creature who brings bad luck to anyone who sees her. He rescues princesses, defeats an evil sorcerer, and has a happy ending, but not the one you expect.

Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell

I love, love, LOVE Bernard Cornwell. He’s a historic novelist who brings characters to life. Over the years, I’ve read a book here and a book there, but now I’m organized, and I’m attacking his catalog with a vengeance. In March, I began his amazing Sharpe series.

Sharpe’s Tiger is the first. Richard Sharpe is a young English army private fighting in India in 1799. He’s smart, tough, practical, but he also realizes the army has its issues. Plagued by a mealy-mouthed, vindictive, lying superior officer, he considers deserting (mostly out of boredom), taking his woman with him, before a life-changing opportunity is thrown his way. On his adventure, his wits will be tested, as will his patience, but he realizes he’s a soldier, and a damn good one.

Whew! Do you think I read enough in March? My stack of books for April isn’t much different. I would probably be more productive if I put my book down at night, but why would I want to do that?

This post contains affiliate links.

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Inspiration
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Fear is a Mutha

Overcoming the power of fear isn't easy, but it is worth it

If anyone is thinking to themselves, “Mutha? What’s a mutha?” Well, bless your sweet innocent soul. Fear is a motherfucker, y’all. Plain and simple.

It takes a million and one forms, and what terrifies me might invigorate the hell out of you.

Here’s what I know to be true about fear:

Fear can stop us from taking amazing leaps into our own future.

Fear can stop us from appreciating what we have now because we’re worried about what may happen next.

Fear can push us to make decisions we shouldn’t make or keep us stagnant so that we pass up opportunities that the Universe throws our way.

What do I fear?

Everything.

I get a lump in my throat when I have to call someone I don’t know.

My palms sweat the first time I sit down to write for a new client or publication. I’ve already been accepted as a writer, passed internal and external “tests” (real or imagined), and I know my stuff or know how to get the answer, or I wouldn’t have taken the job.

Baring my soul about the ins and outs of my life sends me into a paralysis. Like most creatives (anyone who creates something – stories, images, anything), I’m constantly thinking, “Why should anyone care about this?”

I make up excuses about why I can’t sit down to write this blog post or start that book project.

By the way, I’m also afraid of big creepy bugs, roller coasters, and being in or on anything that moves too fast. I’m not fan of lightning, either.

Those are my fears. My biggest fears can and will stop me in my tracks. Growth stagnates. Progress halts. I continue to do the same thing I’ve done for days, weeks, and months. Nothing changes.

Everybody’s fears are different.

Are you refusing to break up with your partner or spouse because you’re afraid of being alone, being poor, or what it will do to your kids? Worse, do you think this is the best you can do, even though you feel miserable every moment of the day?

Hell, maybe you don’t want to break up, but you’re afraid to tell them how you feel and that something needs to change.

Have you stayed at the same soul-sucking job you hate for years because you’re afraid this is the best you can do? I can almost hear the thoughts in your head: Starting a business is too risky. Following your dream of performing in the circus is insane. It’s better to just stay in this nice safe place and be miserable for another few years.

Do you never say what you think because you’re afraid of the personal or professional ramifications? No, I don’t want to hear anymore political rants, either, but we never know who we’ll touch or connect with when we speak our personal truth, whatever that truth may be.

I know that when we’re afraid, we use all kinds of reasoning to justify our behavior. We don’t even recognize what we’re feeling as fear. It comes across as “I can’t…” or “It would be bad for my spouse/children/dog/cat/boss…” or “It’s silly/risky/weird/just not done.”

Sometimes we think we know exactly what we should do – or at the very least exactly what we want to do – but we won’t or can’t make a move to change anything. We’re waiting for someone to give us permission. We’re waiting for a clear sign. We’re waiting for “proof” that we’ll be okay in the end.

No matter what fears I have now, I know I’ve overcome my fears in the past. To get through the scary moments, I remind myself of the times I was a brave badass.

I got a divorce when I thought I’d never be able to handle the┬ásingle mom life.

I left a good job to do my own thing when I didn’t know if I could make a living at it.

I let myself love the best man I’ve ever known right on the heels of the worst heartbreak I’d ever had.

How?

At a certain point, the idea of not changing was more unbearable to me than the fear of getting it all wrong.

So…I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and leaped into an unknown world.

Were all those things easy? Hell no.

Did I gather data, assess the situation, and try to rationalize my way through it first? Of course.

I was broke. I was stressed. I was still afraid. But everyday, I got up, and kept moving forward, in the direction that felt right to me. I adjusted when shit got weird. I asked for help when I couldn’t do it on my own – sometimes help comes from your family and friends, and sometimes it comes from the government services available to you.

I put one foot in front of the other every single day, even when moving forward looked a lot like eating too much chocolate and watching Netflix. The point is that I didn’t go backward. I didn’t try to get back what I’d had because I knew it was no good for me.

A little secret: when you’re on a good path, after you’ve made that leap of faith, and faced your fears, even when you’re in a shitstorm of craziness, it will still be better than what you left behind. If you’re paying attention, you’ll know it deep down in your gut.

For those of you looking for a sign or permission, here you go:

You are braver than you know.

You can change the course of your life.

Here’s your sign, permission slip, and guarantee: it probably won’t be anything like you think it will be, but in the end, when you’ve survived the chaos that comes with any change, it will be much better than what you had.

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