Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Building castles, wet t-shirt contests, dealing with scorpions, eating worms, murder mysteries, and much more – these are some of the things The Twisted Sisterhood will tell you about in the new interactive website for women. Some of these things may not SOUND like fun, but come and see for yourself the Twist we have given them.
We are a group of women who have been “Twisting it Up!” since early 2000. Our vision is to inspire clean simple fun with women all over the world – to create an online community where woman can feel free to be creative, relax and rejuvenate. We have shared some of our million dollar memories. Yours can be made with just a bit of imagination, a touch of ingenuity and a little of your time.
For seven years we talked about how together the six of us would make the perfect woman. We had everything we needed between us to start our own business. In October 2007, at our yearly B&B weekend away together, we made the decision to go for it. The website is the result. It is a far cry from the kits we were going to make and sell, but it is ultimately a much better product. Along the way we had a lot of help and encouragement.
We want women to learn to give themselves permission to have fun. The Twisted Sisterhood can help you with that in a unique way. We also want to provide as much opportunity for networking as we can in the spirit of Sisterhood. We have married those two objectives into one distinctive website with boundless opportunities. We currently have over 220 members across the globe and continue to see a steady growth. With more members, more opportunities are created.
As business women we tend to focus on growing our businesses and often neglect the one thing that makes us unique – the connections and bonds we have with our girlfriends. The vision of The Twisted Sisterhood is to inspire women to reclaim those connections. It’s vital to allow space for new friendships and maintaining those we have developed over the years (but may be neglecting). If you are up for some fun, we have just the thing for you!
The Twisted Sisterhood offers many unique opportunities. Here are some of the benefits:
• It’s free!
• It’s fun!
• It’s user-friendly
We provide an opportunity to:
• Build on your friendships with imaginative events that require little or no money
• Think outside your “circle” or “bubble” and expand the possibilities
• Share the positive, help encourage others
• Message, chat, and create new connections with other members
• Blog to your heart’s content!
• “Hold Court” (come see us to find out how)
We might not be able to transform the world, but we hope to encourage some good changes in those whose lives we touch. Join us as we share our passion for “The Twisted Sisterhood," where we take individual strands of friendship and Twist them into Sisterhood. It’s a simple concept with some big ideas initiated with little money and resulting in LOTS OF FUN. This is our way of “giving back” a bit of what we have found with each other.
My given name is Brenda meaning sword, but with The Twisted Sisterhood my persona is The Duchess O’Blunt. I am a mother of two wonderful young men and happily married to my high school sweetheart. I am very proud of all three men in my life, have had a good career in the corporate world, and have now ventured into the unknown (for me anyway) world of the internet. I have volunteered time in teaching seniors how to use computers and the internet. This has been as fulfilling for me as it has been educational for them. I love to learn, I love history, and our seniors have an abundance to teach us.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
A young friend of the Bar Mitzvah boy read his speech, in which we learned that he had used his money to buy a goat to help a family in Africa. Later on during the service the Bar Mitzvah boy's father said the boy would have liked to keep the goat in his own backyard. Yet it was destined to make a difference in someone else's life.
I wondered through what project or organization that the goat had been provided to a family in Africa. The Bar Mitzvah boy's mother told me the organization was Heifer International.
In FY2007, Heifer had 867 active projects in 53 countries/provinces and 28 U.S. states. Heifer projects around the world help families achieve self-reliance through the gift of livestock and training. Gifts are passed from recipient to recipient until entire communities are transformed.Remembering that the overall sentiment of this special Bar Mitzvah was that we can all work towards going beyond our apparent abilities, I thought how appropriate this particular Bar Mitzvah tzedakah (charity) gift was -- the gift of the goat would go beyond being a simple gift to transform the life of a family and perhaps the entire village. Just as this Bar Mitzvah had gone beyond a traditional coming-of-age ritual to transform all of us privileged to witness this day.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The picture of Brad Pitt on the cover of the January 2009 Architectural Digest magazine caught my eye. What was he doing on the cover?
The article’s headline said it all: “Brad Pitt Makes It Right in New Orleans: After Hurricane Katrina, the Actor Breaks New Ground and Helps Rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward.”
The article describes how, in December 2006, Brad Pitt gathered a group of experts in New Orleans to figure out how to build affordable and sustainable housing for victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in late August of 2005.
One of the most-devastated areas was the African-American community of the Lower Ninth Ward (northeast of the French Quarter). By the time I toured the Lower Ninth Ward in October of 2007 it looked peaceful – grass grew in open fields and there were almost no buildings. I learned that this peaceful appearance resulted only after the destroyed homes and dead people had been removed.
Now Brad Pitt is leading the effort to build new homes in this area – homes that are eight-feet off the ground and feature rooftop escape hatches so residents won’t be trapped again if the waters rise so quickly. The article features the six houses completed in October 2008, which will be joined by 144 more in this first stage.
The Make It Right organization is seeking donations to help fund its efforts. Check out the organization’s website to learn more about this amazing rebirth story and to help the rebirth effort.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I was very pleased to read the December 18th Wall Street Journal article “The Do-It-Yourself Athletic Scholarship” by Matthew Futterman:
Coaches and recruiters easily notice top-tier talent in big-name sports. But mid-level high-school athletes or those in lesser-known sports often pay high-priced private consultants to connect them with coaches. With fees ranging from $700 to $5,000, the system has been expensive for students and inefficient for coaches – who get scouting recommendations only on kids who can afford to pay the consultants.This is a wonderful leveling of the playing field for high school athletes. And as a mother who a few years ago had to learn everything on her own about helping a child who wanted to participate in a particular NCAA Division 1 college sport, I can only say that this is a wonderful use of the internet.
Now, do-it-yourself services have emerged that allow student athletes to showcase their abilities for a fraction of the price. Aside from beRecruited.com, other sites include Prepchamps.com, TRUpreps.com (owned by CBS Corp.’s MaxPreps unit), ActiveRecruiting.com, Collegecoaches.net and SportsWorx.com. There are also numerous sport-specific sites.
And as I’ve said before in another context, don’t assume that the sport a teen plays in high school is not of interest to a college. Do the research to find out what colleges might be interested in that sport, and then use these online showcases to put a teen’s athletic skills in the public eye.
Monday, December 22, 2008
The above painting "Coming Home" is by Colonel Charles Waterhouse, the "artist in residence" for the Marine Corps and a veteran of Iwo Jima.
It's a fitting illustration for this post on showing our appreciation and support for our military personnel. Nancy Brown of YourMilitary.com and I just finished interviewing -- on our BlogTalkRadio show YourMilitaryLife -- Janel Landon, who is on the Illinois USO board of directors.
Janel reminded our audience that USO centers in airports and elsewhere are open 24 hours a day 365 days of the year. She talked about how important it is to have USO volunteers greet military personnel returning from deployment. And she reminded us that we are a nation at war.
As Janel spoke about this "welcome home" mission by the USO, I was reminded of the bitterness that a Vietnam veteran recently revealed to me. He told me that no one had greeted and thanked him at the airport when he returned from Vietnam. Instead he had been vilified -- and this wound still hurt after all these years. (Read the whole post.)
Check out USO.org to see how you can help. Or read recent posts at my blog about the needs of wounded soldiers or check out the MRS. LIEUTENANT website for organizations that support military personnel and their families.
In this holiday season and in the coming year, please remember our troops who are in harm's way protecting our country and our freedoms.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Tonight is the first night of the eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah. Rabbi Karen L. Fox and I wrote in our Jewish holiday book:
Hanukkah honors an historical event -- the struggle for religious freedom. Hanukkah commemorates a time when the ancient homeland of the Jews -- now known as Israel -- was ruled by the Greeks in the second century before the common era. The Greeks threatened to eliminate the religious faith and customs of the Jewish people.You can read more about this holiday in our book Seasons for Celebration: A Contemporary Guide to the Joys, Practices and Traditions of the Jewish Holidays.
A small band of Jews resolved to forfeit their lives if necessary to preserve their heritage. Their successful struggle against overwhelming odds determined that the Jewish people and their unique beliefs and practices would survive.
A Jewish friend who had been raised in foster homes told me how she had mistakenly lit all eight candles the first night when she finally had her own home and could celebrate the holiday. Because of this mistake, Karen and I took pains to ensure that we gave very specific instructions on how to light the Hanukkah menorah, which holds the eight candles plus the shamash (the serving candle used to light the others).
Then one year a non-Jewish friend asked me for a menorah. I gave him the menorah, candles and a copy of SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION. Only Karen and I had forgotten to write one instruction: the candles remain burning until they burn up -- they are NOT blown out. My non-Jewish friend said a blessing after lighting the candles, and promptly blew them out as if they were birthday cake candles. So much for the "complete" instructions Karen and I thought we had written.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
As someone who wrote a “Money Matters” newspaper column in the ‘70s in Philadelphia, I found these new initiatives incredibly encouraging. I have always thought that basic money management should be a required course in every high school. How else do we expect people to learn about financial matters?
And I particularly enjoyed reading in the article that two of the companies discussed use Twitter to connect with their social media “communities.” I immediately went on my Twitter account and started following @Wachovia and @SmartyPig to watch how well they use Twitter to respond to questions.
Read the article and then check out some of the sites to recommend to people you know who could use this online financial assistance.
Sue Shellenbarger’s Work & Family column in the December 17th Wall Street Journal -- "Cyberbully Alert: Web Sites Make It Easier to Flag Trouble” -- is an excellent source of information on this subject for parents and teen educators.
The article explains the different abuse reporting systems on MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube, then concludes with this paragraph, with which I wholeheartedly agree:
Then, join the sites your child uses and learn log-in information and URLs. This will help you flag problems effectively.Only recently I suggested this to a mother of a teen who wanted to join Facebook. The mother didn’t want to be bothered learning about this site so she told the daughter she couldn’t join Facebook. But what I wonder is whether the mother is making a major error because her daughter will probably join Facebook in secret, and the mother has given up the opportunity to police her daughter’s use of Facebook.
The article also quoted Parry Aftab, the executive director of WiredSafety.org. I hadn’t heard of this organization, so I went on the site and was impressed by the available information. If you need help dealing with cyberbullying, check out this site.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Given this paradox, I'm pondering how well high school seniors are prepared to write good college application essays and how prepared they are to write good college course papers. And I'm also pondering whether, a few years from now, college applicants will not be required to write college application essays. Instead they'll submit a YouTube video answering the essay questions. Or provide their own password-protected websites.
As a writer, I find it discouraging that writing skills will become less important in the future. And that said, I'm off to do more social media networking to promote my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT.
(At 9 p.m. Eastern time tonight I'm going to be a guest on the BlogTalkRadio show Urban Literary Review. You'll be able to listen to the interview later if you can't catch the show live.)
Friday, December 12, 2008
My husband Mitch and I have written two screenplays about Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders, a Navy officer who has to be smarter and better than the male Navy officers with whom she serves. And because Mollie Sanders is an electronic weapons officer, she finds herself in numerous dangerous situations.
I've been developing our two screenplays and additional story material into a proposed graphic novel series. And I wanted to make this proposed series come alive off the page.
I asked my daughter Yael Miller to create a website to present the project as part of the website solution packages Miller Mosaic LLC offers individuals and small businesses.
Visit Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders to see what a terrific website Yael created to introduce Mollie's world.
And if you know any graphic novel publishers who might be interested in this project, send them the link to this website. They might just thank you for this.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This is the fifth year that Nancy has brought holiday cheer through a Mary Kay community service project. This year's "Adopt-a-Grandparent" is to cheer residents of a nursing home in West Chester, Pennsylvania. I bought one of the 275 custom gift baskets she is putting together so that no one will be disappointed -- and you can buy one too.
Help Nancy bring cheer to these senior citizens by donating now.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The Fox Searchlight film SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE has an excellent chance of being nominated for Best Picture when Oscar time rolls around. And, having seen the movie, I believe the movie is deserving of such recognition.
The price of admission is well worth it for the unraveling of the mystery of how an uneducated boy living on the streets knew the answers to the questions on the television show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" -- and that's before the other compelling elements of the story are added to the mix.
Yet. as a December 12th Entertainment Weekly article points out, someone watching the movie can experience a major jolt. Suddenly on screen in the movie are scenes in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) that bring to mind similar scenes seen on the recent news coverage of the attacks in Mumbai. In fact, I found myself momentarily taken out of the movie when viewing scenes at Victoria Terminus train station or buildings that looked like they could have been the Taj Hotel.
I waited a week before seeing the movie so as to have some distance from reality before seeing this enchanting fantasy. (Be warned: While the movie has an upper ending, including an invigorating dance scene during the credits, there are also some very brutal and some very disturbing scenes. Some of these scenes unintentionally explain some of the background of what happened now in Mumbai.)
You can read the story about the disconnect between reality and the movie in Entertainment Weekly. But don't let my blog post warning or the Entertainment Weekly article stop you from seeing this movie. If you don't see this movie, you'll miss out on one of the best movies of the year -- or perhaps one of the best movies of the past few years.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Thus this is a very appropriate day for me to post about participating in a program to send holiday greeting cards to military personnel, veterans, wounded soldiers, and their families.
I learned about this program through comments on LinkedIn, a professional social media site. Some of the comments indicated that we should show support for the troops all year round, which of course I agree with. Yet today I want to share the link at Snopes.com that explains this particular program because I've just signed 20 holiday cards.
This may not be a big deal for many people, but for me it is. I don't send holiday cards, personally feeling that the money and paper spent on this can be better spent. Yet I bought a box of 20 cards and signed them all because I do feel that we need to show our appreciation for our troops and their families.
Even if you're like me and usually don't send holiday greeting cards, consider sending before December 10th HOLIDAY CARDS TO OUR TROOPS.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Someone whom I met on LinkedIn asked me how I use Twitter for business. I answered her in an email, and then she and I both realized I'd written a blog post.
Below is my answer to her. And I hope that, if you haven't signed up for Twitter before, you will now. And if you do, be sure to follow me -- I'm @ZimblerMiller on Twitter -- and let me know you signed up for Twitter after reading this blog post.
The trick on Twitter is two-fold:
To follow people who can help you learn more for your own business.
To follow people with whom you can have a conversation about services you offer (but not blatantly).
I use Tweetbeep.com but there are other similar aps -- it's like Google Alerts for Twitter. I get every tweet about book marketing -- then I check out the people, see who they are, and if I think that I can learn from them or they can learn from me, I follow them. (I don't automatically follow back people who follow me.)
Because of my interests, I've become joint venture partners with people on Twitter who have similar interests. @MailOurMilitary and @NancyMK and I did a fundraising campaign this summer for Operation Soldier Care on Twitter, Facebook and our three blogs plus some other sites.
You start engaging -- giving valuable info and links to valuable info (not necessarily your own) plus you can use Twitterfeed.com as I do to automatically have links to my new blog posts go on my Twitter account. I also post articles on Ezinearticles.com, which now has an automatic option that posts links to these new articles on my Twitter account when the articles are approved.
I'm visible -- trying to help people as they try to help me. It's a wonderful exchange of business ideas.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Online Novels: Susan Crealock Creates a Website Listing Books Available in Their Entirety for Free on the Internet
I recently had the pleasure of coming upon the website Online Novels, which provides the titles and links of almost 500 books that can be read in their entirety online for free. The books are listed by category with brief descriptions.
I wanted to know how the creator of this website, Susan Crealock, came up with this idea, which I think is terrific. Susan very graciously agreed to tell her story of the creation of her site. Here’s Susan’s story:
I put my Online Novels site on the web just over two months ago but, in a way, its genesis dates from 1978 – long before personal computers, blogs and browsers – when I started writing a story (the words "novel" or "book" are too pretentious to describe this modest effort) for my own amusement.
Because I didn't own a typewriter, I transcribed the text longhand in a series of notebooks. And when my employer installed computer terminals in its programmers' cubicles, I started inputting the text on the company's mainframe. Certain of my anonymity, I printed copies of the chapters as I progressed, until one day when I received a printout of chapter five covered with exclamation marks and comments.
Years later one of the computer room operators confessed to me that the staff used to rip my chapters off the printer and pass them around for everyone to read! With my cover blown, it was back to writing in longhand.
When the story was close to completion, I got busy with other projects, put the manuscript in a cardboard box, and forgot about it. In 1996 my husband, two cats and I moved aboard our boat. And the box went into storage, where it remained while we wound down our data processing careers, sailed to Mexico and eventually moved to Europe.
Last year we shipped our household goods to Italy and the box caught up with me. In this past March I dug out the manuscript, went into a frenzy of rewriting and committed the text to my PC.
Anyone who works with computers knows the necessity of backing up essential data, and I'm somewhat obsessive in this respect. I printed the story, committed it to a CD, put it on a Palm PDA, and copied the text to a secondary hard drive.
One day when perusing Google I realized I could create a blog from the story, not for others to read but as the ultimate backup. Feeling like a cuckoo laying her eggs in another bird's nest, I created a private blog some time in April.
Several months later, wondering if anyone else would read it, I selected the option to make the blog available on the internet and waited for readers. And waited. With more than 100 million blogs available on the World Wide Web, it's hardly surprising mine went undetected. I needed a strategy. A bit of research turned up a number of sites that list novels available on the internet. I submitted my blog to them, and readers started trickling in.
After this preamble, I'm finally getting to the point. However grateful I was at being included in someone else's list, I didn't want to depend on others. So I decided to create a site of my own – Online Novels – and embed my story within it as one of the offerings.
Initially I felt that 75 novels was a minimum number to be credible. I wanted descriptions for the books, and the novels had to be free and complete. Since the start of the project, Online Novels – now with almost 500 entries – has taken on a life of its own, and the inclusion of my story is merely an afterthought.
The techie stuff: I use two types of tracking software, Sitemeter and Google Analytics, which complement each other. Google Analytics allows one to parse data in countless ways – it's a statistics junkie's dream – while Sitemeter provides detailed information about individual visits. The data for the blog entries themselves reside in several tables of an Access database.
Broken links are a common and annoying feature on many novel sites. I check the links of 60-80 books a day and eliminate those that are M.I.A. or no longer free. Lulu, the self-publishing company, has given me permission to link to their books as well as to use their descriptions and novel covers. This is a great source of material, but since there's no category called "free novels," ferreting out the freebies is very time consuming. Other sources are requests from authors for inclusion and queries that I send out.
Just over half of the traffic to Online Novels comes from search engines while 11 percent is direct, presumably from people bookmarking the blog, and the remainder comes from links on other sites. I can't overemphasize the importance of links, first as sources of traffic in their own right and second because Google uses a link count in determining a website's ranking. You can have the most wonderful site in the world, but if it's languishing on Google page 245 after a search, it might as well not exist.
The most enjoyable aspect of maintaining Online Novels is corresponding with many of the authors whose books are listed in my blog. Their humor and support make even the drudgery of link-checking worthwhile.
Where do I go to find a good free book on the internet? To Project Gutenberg, a priceless collection of classics. I download a book to my Palm, prop myself up in bed, set the screen to autoscroll and watch the immortal words of Conrad, Austen and Thackeray roll by. Now that is bliss!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
December 1st is the deadline eMailOurMilitary.com set for postage donations needed to send the holiday cards and packages to deployed troops. The postage goal for this year was set at $2,500, and the total collected so far isn't even half that.
Help eMailOurMilitary.com send holiday support to deployed troops by donating to the postage campaign right now.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I'd like to share with the readers of this blog what I posted today on my MRS. LIEUTENANT blog.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Apparently donors to California proposition campaigns are public record. And bloggers have published the names of those who donated to help Prop. 8 (banned same-sex marriage in California) pass.
Some anti-Prop. 8 supporters have been using this information against the donors to the campaign. And Richard Raddon, the director of the Los Angeles Film Festival, has fallen victim to the witch hunt. Raddon has resigned in the face of the pressure against him.
People's private political views are their own. And as long as these private views do not affect the job they are performing, these views should remain private and NOT be used to force someone out of a job.
Monday, November 24, 2008
While I'm not sure I understand or agree with everything I've read so far, I do agree with her first of 13 maxims: "Say Yes." And I particularly agree with this because it fits the philosophy of having an open mind, which I learned about from Carol Dweck's book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success."
Here's an exercise from Madson's book that we can all try:
For one day say yes to everything. Set your own preferences aside. Notice the results. See how often it may not be convenient or easy to do this.This is an interesting exercise that I'm hoping I'll do one day this week. In the meantime, I'm continuing to follow Dweck's advice about having an open mind: I'm willing to undertake new things -- and I'm willing to fail at them -- in order to expand my knowledge. The alternative, of only doing what I'm good at, is the opposite of a growth mindset.
Obviously, use common sense in executing this rule. If you are a diabetic and are offered a big piece of pie, you'll need to find a way to protect your health. Perhaps you can say boldly, "Yes, I'd love to have this pie to take home to my son who adores cherries."
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Local Family Decides to Forgo Expensive Presents This Year and Instead Spend Their Holiday Money on the Needy
My husband received an email from a client with the subject line: Thoughts for the coming holidays …
The long email went on to describe what he and his wife, although they can well afford to spend a great deal on presents, had decided to do this year for the holidays.
I’d like to share some of his words.
Neither one of us felt quite right about the gifts we were about to embark on purchasing for our kids, our families and friends. Something feels very different about this year.The email goes on to describe two local charities that this family will be supporting this year, and then the email concludes this way:
[I]f our community is feeling the pinch and concern of this economy (to whatever degree), then obviously those who are most in need are also. While this difficulty may be a daily inconvenience for some of us, others actually struggle with the issues of where to sleep at night and if they will be able feed and clothe their children. Their daily need doesn’t remain in the realm of the theoretical; it is present and frightening.
During difficult times such as these charitable giving drops and the people already living in the margins simply go unaccounted for. (There are an abundance of articles on line documenting the downturn in charitable giving and the grim holiday forecast it portends.) [We] asked each other how we can participate in the holidays in a more purposeful way. In a way that feels appropriate.
So rather than buy all of our friends things they don’t need, rather than buy our kids ten things instead of one or two, rather than buy each other one more unnecessary thing, we are going to break the chain and try and apply our efforts to the kids and families these two fine organizations represent. In the grand scheme it’s only a small effort. But it is our effort and we can own it. If you were considering something for our family, we would kindly ask that you redirect your kindness to either of these two organizations.This is definitely in keeping with what Scrooge at the end of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” did. And I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The boy was dressed in blue and the girl was dressed in pink. This gender stereotyping has always driven me crazy. There have been studies done dressing a non-descript baby in one or the other of these colors and recording the different reactions people have to a “boy” baby or a “girl” baby. These studies have shown that gender stereotyping starts at a very early age.
Now I understand that there are differences in genders, important differences. But what shouldn’t be gender-specific is the encouragement young children get to try new experiences. I cringe when a parent says about a toddler – “she’s shy,” thereby reinforcing this behavior. And I strongly suspect that pink or blue clothing on babies and toddlers influences what adults say to these children.
And, yes, if the mother of the twins at the gym had dressed one child in a bright green outfit and another child in a bright yellow outfit, I might not have known the children were boy-girl twins. But did I really need to know that to appreciate how cute they looked together?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Who Should Get to Display the World's Art or Why Are the Elgin Marbles in Britian Rather Than in Greece?
I'm reading a new book about this problem: "Loot: The Battle Over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World" by Sharon Waxman. If you're interested in knowing more about all the sides of this issue, check out this book.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
When my children were little we would watch THE COSBY SHOW. We loved watching the problems of this family, and we learned so much from some of the more serious episodes (like the one that taught Theo how much it cost to live on your own). Perhaps that early bond with THE COSBY SHOW explains why, when the children were in their late teens and saw the musical SOUTH PACIFIC, they didn't like it. They couldn't understand what the big deal was about the two romances -- why couldn't those couples marry?
Today on a back page of Daily Variety I found a letter to the editor from Mickey Gardner, the author of HARRY TRUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS: MORAL COURAGE AND POLITICAL RISKS. Although I don't discuss politics in my blogs, I wholeheartedly agree with Gardner's letter to the editor, which I found so compelling I'm reprinting it here in its entirety:
As we celebrate the election of this country's first African-American president, your readers and the creative community should take note of the fact that two people in your industry -- Marcy Carsey and Tommy Werner -- made a huge contribution more than two decades ago to making Obama's election possible. By stubbornly refusing in the early 1980s to give up their vision of a Cosby as a professional African-American role model and not the stereotypical black standup Vegas comedian that cautious network officials preferred, these two fiercely independent producers contributed mightily to the colorblind attitudes of many of today's middle-aged and younger voters who grew up on "The Cosby Show."
Obama just did not happen overnight. His ability to be elected president started back on July 26, 1948, when Harry Truman, this country's pioneering civil rights president, did the unthinkable and integrated not just the vast American military but the entire federal workforce. While Truman forced blacks and whites to work, eat and sleep alongside each other at Army camps and on Navy battleships, Marcy and Tom showed their viewers how an ordinary black family could live harmoniously with their white neighbors in a world where they all dealt with the same family issues. They shattered another taboo -- all white neighborhoods were still pervasive 25 years ago.
I hope you will take editorial note of the great contribution made by the Cosby team of independent producers who could have sold out and agreed initially to a noncontroversial Cosby and not the beloved Doctor Huxtable who became a friend and weekly visitor in millions and millions of U.S. homes.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Imagine my surprise to read on the front page of the November 11th Wall Street Journal that at 10 a.m. on November 13th Los Angeles is having a major earthquake drill.
According to the Journal article, scientists realized their harping on the need to be prepared was not being taken seriously by people. So the scientists decided to take a new tack and make a gigantic earthquake drill like a city-wide block party to encourage people to participate.
I immediately went to the website of www.shakeout.org to register and get more information. And I printed out the instructions for what to do when an earthquake hits, which apparently are different than the ones I learned years ago.
I'm also updating my emergency contact information (contact people outside California to whom everyone in the family should call in if no local phone service) and thinking about what other preparedness tasks I've let slide over the years.
If you live in Los Angeles, go register at the site. And if you don't live in Los Angeles, tell any friends or family who do that they should check out this site before Thursday.
Oh, yes, the earthquake is going to be a mock 7.8 magnitude.
As U.S. military personnel continue to fight and sustain casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is only fitting that today on Veterans Day we honor the men and women past and present who fight for and protect our country.
Read my Mrs. Lieutenant blog post in honor of these men and women: http://snipurl.com/veteransday
Hold and Die
His orders were to hold and die. Not hold OR die. Hold AND die. Implicit in the orders are not one, but two promises. His men would accomplish their mission against overwhelming odds. They would die while performing it. So what happens? ...
A Place for Veterans
Veterans Day is a special day when our nation stops to honor and give thanks to our military veterans and their families. But what happens when the parades are over and the yellow ribbons come down?...
Servicemen reflect on Veterans Day observances
O’Grady mentioned the men who, at the birth of the country, fought to live in a place where they could freely express their God-given rights without persecution. Because of their sacrifices, he said, “We’ve been allowed to prosper into ...
Veterans Day: Remembering a Korean War Veteran
There was a place that was dug out and it was pitch, pitch black, no moon out. They put three of us up there and we didn’t know what to expect. All three of us sat there and stared all night wondering what the crud was going to happen, ...
Sunday, November 9, 2008
When my book MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL came out in April, I knew nothing about how today's internet -- known as Web 2.0 -- could be utilized to market my book. My first published book, the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION co-written with Rabbi Karen L. Fox, had been published in 1992. I would soon learn that 1992 was the Stone Age in terms of modern book marketing.
And I would also soon learn how much I had to learn. Which is why I've been tied to my computer since then, intensely listening to teleseminars, taking webinars, reading ebooks, reading books, and doing everything else to learn how to optimize Web 2.0 for book marketing.
I decided that other book authors who were also new to Web 2.0 shouldn't have to reinvent the wheel. I would launch a website to help them learn much more quickly what I learned the hard way.
Trumpets please! I've now launched www.queensofbookmarketing.com to provide information and resources for book marketing. The other queen besides me is my daughter Yael Miller, an award-winning playwright who is currently writing the first in a series of children's fantasy novels.
Check out www.queensofbookmarketing.com and then tell your friends. Yael and I are planning to develop an online writing community that can help writers and authors benefit from each other's experiences.
And we welcome you to follow me at www.twitter.com/ZimblerMiller and Yael at www.twitter.com/MillerMosaicLLC.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Just last night I friended someone on Facebook with whom I had already been in email contact. I was surprised to see that he had his month, date and year of his birth public. This is not a good idea if you want to avoid identity theft. And Facebook provides privacy settings that enable you to keep hidden the year of your birth. I emailed this person suggesting he remove the year of his birth.
I know it’s not possible to keep all personal identification safe. But, for example, when you’re on a cell phone in a public place, it’s probably not a good idea to say all the digits of your credit card aloud. If you must give your credit card number at that moment, step away from everyone within earshot.
Years ago I had a security clearance for a job with U.S. military intelligence in Munich, Germany, when my husband was an intelligence officer stationed there. I still practice some identify-protection techniques I learned at that time. For example, if I’m going to read one of my newspaper subscriptions at the car wash, I remove the visible address from the front page of the newspaper.
We can’t protect ourselves from identity theft, but we can try not to help the crooks.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I hope that all of us, standing in long lines to cast our vote for the President of the
Of course, I was afraid that I was going to be stoned by the people in my own long line when a poll worker walked down the line asking for people assigned to the pink table. It turned out my address was in the pink table area. Thus at that particular moment I got to enter the polling place ahead of all the people in line in front of me.
Later today I’m invited to the home of a couple in which each spouse is voting for a different presidential candidate. The couple is calling the event a “victory party” because, no matter who wins, one-half of the couple will be happy.
And I also tweeted on Twitter that I had voted by entering #ivoted on an update. Now I can rely on the Twhirl application of Twitter to give me political news updates while I work at my computer. What a brave new world we live in!
Friday, October 31, 2008
Whether you’re a successful author about to miss your next book deadline, an aspiring author who’s been “meaning” to write a novel for years, or a non-writer who wants to do something crazy, have I got the month for you: November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! I’m encouraging all of my friends and colleagues to join me and write a novel between November 1st and November 30th.
Can I Really Write a Novel in 30 Days?
Yes. Really. That’s all it takes—Stephen King does it. And, before I founded Red Room, I was a writing coach (named San Francisco magazine’s “Best Writing Coach” in 2005), when I realized that most people type about 1,000 words an hour and can write a first draft of a short novel of 50,000 words in about fifty hours.
But How Do I Win?
All it takes to “win” NaNoWriMo is for you to write a novel. Another way to win: We’ve added our own contest. Red Room will randomly select one NaNoWriMo winner of a one-hour coaching call with me after I personally review his or her manuscript for a few hours. I used to charge $2,000 for this, but it’s actually “priceless” since I don’t coach writers anymore. Now I only do it for good causes, like getting you to do some writing in November.
I Love Winning! How Do I Enter?
It’s easy to participate — just write a novel in November and blog about it on redroom.com. I look forward to finding out who’s joining me!If you've been thinking for the longest time about writing a novel, it's time to do it! Go to www.redroom.com and join now for free and hit those computer keys! (And if you're already an author, apply to be a Red Room author.)
And if you do write a novel in November, I hope you'll check out my new website whose launch I'll be announcing in a few days -- www.queensofbookmarketing.com -- because strategic book marketing should start when the novel is finished and not when the novel is published.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The October 29th Wall Street Journal article by Jeffrey A Trachtenberg and Jessica E. Vascellaro announced “Google Deal Opens Web to Millions of Books.”
This deal is the result of a large settlement between Google and the publishing industry and will “make many millions of digital books available on the Web, with payments to authors and publishers for their use.”
I had mixed feelings when reading the article. As an author, I thought this sounded like a good deal to possibly have an additional revenue stream for one’s books. As a researcher, I thought this sounded like a good deal to have the contents of more books available at the click of one’s computer. As a reader, I thought “oh, no, more books to read.”
I recalled to mind a New Yorker cartoon showing a man sitting in an armchair surrounded by his bookcases. On the floor stands a single book facing the man and saying “Read me.”
Now there will be “many millions of digital books” at our fingertips saying “read me.”
Read the whole Journal story at http://snipurl.com/googlebookdeal.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted unanimously yesterday to recommend that adults ages 19 to 64 with asthma receive pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), known as PNEUMOVAX® 23 (Pneumococcal Vaccine Polyvalent). Merck & Co., Inc. is the sole supplier of PNEUMOVAX 23 in the United States. The ACIP based this recommendation on study data that showed an increased risk of pneumococcal disease among people with asthma.
My doctor was pretty impressed that he had this info literally at his fingertips. And I was pretty impressed to have such a timely answer.
And now I’d like to pass this timely info on to you, with the hope that you will pass it on to people with asthma whom you know. We all don’t see the same news releases, so most of us depend on the kindness of friends to keep us in the loop on important info that can impact our lives. Be a good friend and pass this info along because pneumonia can be a life-and-death matter.
Here’s the link to the whole article: http://snipurl.com/pneumoniashots
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I very much enjoyed Lionel Shriver’s essay “Missing the Mark” in the October 25th Wall Street Journal. Shriver bemoaned the fact that several current literary writers have given up using quotation marks, thus making it even harder than ever to read literary fiction. He says:
According to the National Endowment for the Arts, nearly half of Americans do not read books at all, and those who do average a mere six a year. You’d think literary writers would be bending over backwards to ingratiate themselves to readers – to make their work maximally accessible, straightforward and inviting. But no.
He then goes on to give several examples of dialogue passages without quotes from bestselling authors – passages that make very little sense. In one case I thought a sentence was a description of the weather when it was actually dialogue from one of the characters.
As the author of a (non-literary) novel with quotation marks, I was upset to learn that several bestselling literary authors are making it harder for readers to enjoy novels, thus perhaps discouraging reading of all novels.
I hope that all of these authors are shown this essay by Shriver. And that they then make a pact to use quotation marks in their next novels.
And, oh yes, I love these sentences of Shriver’s:
Reading heated dialogue without quotes is like watching chase scenes in “The Bourne Supremacy” with the sound off …. Surely most readers would happily forgo “elegance” for demarcation that makes it easier to figure out who’s saying what when their eyelids are drooping during the last few pages before lights-out.
Do you have any opinion on the use of quotation marks in novels?
Friday, October 24, 2008
Here's how my Mrs. Lieutenant blog post begins today:
I have to admit that the first thought that comes to my mind when I think of the USO is scenes of USO-sponsored dances in World War II films. So I found the email from the USO asking for a donation particularly moving as it included the text of a letter from a wife whose husband was deployed to Iraq:
I hope you'll find the rest of the post interesting -- read it at http://mrslieutenant.blogspot.com/2008/10/uso-supporting-troops-every-wife-dreads.html.
And if you're a celebrity performer, please consider performing for our troops.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Have you ever noticed a young child riding a bike and wearing a bike helmet followed by an adult riding a bike WITHOUT a helmet? It always amazes me for two reasons:
• Doesn’t the adult realize what behavior he or she is modeling?
• Doesn’t the adult realize that he or she can also fall off a bike and break open his/her head?
Several years ago my father was riding a bike in Santa Monica and was hit by a car coming out of an alley. Luckily he was wearing a helmet when he was sent flying to the ground.
And it’s not just bikes. Anytime a child or adult is on anything with wheels a bike helmet should be worn. That means when on a skate board or scooter, too.
Of course, it’s important to wear the helmet correctly. It can’t be pushed back off the forehead but must come down firmly over the forehead to protect that forehead.
If unsure whether your bike helmet fits correctly, ask for guidance at a good bike shop. Or check out the info of the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute at www.helmets.org.
You know the old saying “better safe than sorry”? When it comes to protecting your head and your life, a bike helmet should be an absolute necessity.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Last night I deleted approximately 950 messages from one of my email accounts. Some of these messages I had clicked on and then saved for later reading. Others I hadn’t opened yet.
What made me take this drastic step? In recent days I had repeatedly reached 1000 messages, in which case my email account bounced back additional messages.
Therefore, I bit the bullet and said to myself: “You will never give your full attention to those 950 messages. Just delete them and take the risk that you’ve deleted something important.”
Most of the time I can’t understand people who don’t use email at all. Yet sometimes, such as when I force myself to delete 950 messages, I ponder how much simpler life was before the advent of email, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Friendfeed (the most recent social media platform for which I’ve signed up), etc.
In a nod to fair disclosure, I have also been unsubscribing to all the email advertisements for which I usually just click delete. I’ve decided to take the extra time to click on the unsubscribe buttons, some of which work and some of which don’t. I’m not at all sure I ever agreed to get many of these emails. So now I’ve taken the active step of getting rid of them.
Recently I got two different emails announcing a new book. Each of these emails was quite long, going on and on. I skimmed the emails, then decided to do a good deed:
I replied to these emails suggesting in each case that the person write a much shorter email with a clear headline and bullet-point benefits as to why we should act on the email. I explained that we are all so very busy that long emails are just way too much. Both people responded with thanks, so apparently PZ the Do-Gooder Scrooge didn’t step on any toes those times.
But, honestly, that’s why Twitter with a maximum of 140 characters is so great – it keeps all of our tweets short. Who’s the famous writer of the 19th Century (or 18th Century) who apologized for writing a long letter because he didn’t have time for a short letter? It’s true that I often have to rewrite my tweets to stay within 140 characters. And I’m grateful for that limitation.
If only email had a limitation of 140 characters – or I’d even settle for a limitation of 280 characters.
Friday, October 17, 2008
I was perturbed today when I saw a reporter query about what to do when a young child gets a cough.
I couldn’t help myself. I switched to my do-gooder hat and emailed this response to the reporter:
I'm not responding to be included in the article. I just wanted to warn you (in case you don't know this) that a cough can actually be a sign of asthma and can indicate a serious health issue that, if left untreated, can lead to death.
If you want a resource on this subject, I highly recommend www.aanma.org.
I’m not arguing with the latest cough syrup recommendations for children under age four, I just want parents to understand that sometimes a cough – with no other symptoms – can actually be an indicator of a serious underlying cause. And sometimes pediatricians do not recognize this. Parents need to educate themselves in order to ensure that their children have the best medical help.
See this video for an explanation of Cough-Variant Asthma:
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Have you posted a description, photo or video at
http://snipurl.com/mrslieutenant to Honor a Veteran? I hope all of you will do so.
The photo above is of John Savery -- a medic in Patton’s army -- in front of Notre Dame in Paris in 1945. His daughter Loretta Savery wrote such a beautiful description on the Facebook Honor a Veteran event page about his World War II experience that I posted her description on my Mrs. Lieutenant blog.
Check out this post at http://snipurl.com/johnsavery
for an example of what you could write about a veteran you know.
And spread the word about this opportunity to Honor a Veteran.
Monday, October 13, 2008
As I announced in my previous post, I'm sponsoring through the Facebook group MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL the event Honor a Veteran in recognition of Veterans Day on November 11 at http://snipurl.com/mrslieutenant.
Spread the word about this event -- five people (chosen through random.org) will receive prizes for participating. I want to encourage people to Honor a Veteran.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I hope you'll add a veteran to honoor at
Five submitters (as chosen by random.org) will win prizes for participating in the event.
Tell your friends about this worthwhile online event.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Presidential politics are something I don’t discuss – either in writing or in person. But yesterday, in a Yom Kippur sermon, I heard something about the Presidential election that does not come under the category of taking sides. And I want to share this thought with you:
The speaker, a well-known academic, said that in the coming year we need to look outside ourselves; we need to consider the effect of things on others. He urged us that our decision who to choose for President should also be based on the needs and concerns of others and not only on our own needs and concerns.
While he didn’t give examples, I could clearly see what he meant. For example, one candidate’s proposed tax policy might be great for us but not very good for the country as a whole. Given the times, the speaker warned us that we must think of what is often called “the big picture” rather than our miniscule part of that picture.
And there’s something else I’d like to say about the current U.S. economic situation: One of the most important things I learned in my MBA program at Wharton was how perception can actually make things happen. In other words, every time a newspaper headline blares “recession,” that headline adds to the possibility of an actual recession because people act in reaction to that headline.
While I realize that there’s very little chance of stemming the newspaper headlines screaming “recession” and therefore adding to the possibilities of a recession, I do hope that all of us can be careful about what we say in connection with the current U.S. economic situation. We should remember that perception can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. Let’s try not to add fuel to the fire by what we say – or do.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Here is only one sin from the long list of sins for which we publicly and repeatedly ask forgiveness:
And for the sin which we have committed before Thee in speech
How many of us are guilty of this every single day? I’m sure I must be. No, I’m not talking about the intentionally mean things we say. I’m talking about the everyday things we say carelessly or impatiently – the “take out the trash” barked commands and the “can’t you ever remember to put the remote control away” peeved outbursts.
I often read the sayings on the teabags I buy which give the advice to appreciate each moment of life. And I do believe in viewing the glass half full rather than half empty. Yet how many of us consciously work to make the glass half full?
The Wall Street Journal today (October 8th) has a front-page story about how Iraq is still dangerous for U.S. military personnel even as the country is stabilizing. Do we who are safe at home in the U.S. appreciate that Americans are risking their lives every moment for our security?
On Rosh Hashanah, as my husband neared our synagogue, he passed a Marine major in full uniform. My husband said: “Thank you for your service, sir.” The Marine said: “You’re welcome. Shana tova.” [Good New Year]
In my husband’s case he used speech in a positive way – to express gratitude for the Marine’s service to our country.
If I can only improve greatly in one area this coming year, I’d like it to be in this area of speech: To reduce the amount of negative things I say and to increase the amount of positive things I say.
What about you? In what area would you most like to improve in the coming year?
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
So here's Big Tobacco's guest post from Iraq at http://snipurl.com/bigtobaccopost.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Joan is wondering how legit it is to make teshuvah [repentance] on FACEBOOK? In case it is o.k. I apologize for any time I wronged, offended, slighted, ignored, or hurt you!
In preparation for Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement, Jews ask forgiveness of people for any wrongs committed against those people during the year.
How interesting to think about extending this concept of asking forgiveness of others into the workplace. Because, although Facebook is a social media platform in which you have “friends,” in many ways the Facebook environment is more like a workplace – a place where you get together with others to achieve a mutual purpose.
And if we all carried around the sense that once a year we would have to ask forgiveness from all the people in our online and offline lives, perhaps we would be kinder to others, think more before we speak, and try harder to consider things from the other person’s point of view.
I hope that I can move closer in the coming year to achieving these goals. And I, too, publicly apologize for any wrongs or offenses that I may have committed during the past year to anyone in my online or offline life.
Thanks to being on Twitter I just learned about the website www.twittermoms.com. Megan Calhoun, the creator of this website, has assured me that you don’t have to be on Twitter to join the social media platform TwitterMoms.com.
If you fall into the general category of this website, check it out. Through October 15 members have the opportunity to submit their products to be included in a holiday catalog. The site is also looking for people interested in being featured contributors.
And note the site’s interesting groups. I’ve already joined The Twitter Moms Book Club, and there are several other groups I’m planning to consider.
P.S. Maybe I should start the group Twitter Moms Whose Children Are Also on Twitter. Both my daughters are on Twitter as is my husband.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
For my blog Flipping Burgers and Beyond -- which gives advice for college applications, internships, jobs and careers -- I frequently post about social media mistakes concerning profile photos. In other words, I'm talking about the photos people use on Facebook or Twitter or other social media websites.
I just posted a new commentary on the profile photo, and since it is also a brief wrap-up of previous posts, I'd like to share this information with you.
Here's the link to the Flipping Burgers post about choosing the right photo of yourself:
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
If you have friends on Facebook, invite them to join the group. The more people we have offering info to help others, the better we'll all be.
And if you're not on Facebook yet, consider joining it. Once you get the hang of the privacy settings and the other control options you have, I think you'll be glad you joined. Just remember NOT to post anything you wouldn't want your mother to see. (For free tips on protecting your image on Facebook, go to www.millermosaic.com).
Sunday, September 28, 2008
A friend just told me about the site www.couchsurfing.com -- a website that facilitates strangers staying at the homes of other strangers when traveling.
My friend said his wife is obsessed, spending hours connecting to people in different groups on the site. And he and his wife have had people from all over the world staying with them. Plus he and his wife have stayed with other strangers when traveling.
I'm not advocating this website, although it is an interesting concept that you might want to check out for yourself. It's certainly a unique use of a social networking website.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
There are so many self-publishing firms to choose from that it can be very hard to decide which company to use. And what I learned from Stacie's book is that, if you're not careful, instead of comparing apples to apples, you'll be comparing apples to bananas and oranges and kiwi and every other fruit that exists.
Her book's comparison chart can be an invaluable tool to a prospective author overwhelmed with choices. And her advice, particularly on the trickiness of evaluating royalties, is excellent.
If people you know are considering self-publishing, tell them about this book. They'll be glad you did.