Archive for July, 2009

Tooth Fairy: Speaking On Writing and Social Media

July 30, 2009
How totally cool is this? THE Tooth Fairy is Guest Writing on GoodNCrazy today!

I first tweeted across Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt while she was tweeting under her @ToothFairyNews handle.. I thought? HUH? THE Tooth Fairy is on Twitter!?? I HAVE to meet her… And while checking out Sheri’s website, and blog I realized she is an amazing and accomplished author of several books including:

You Think It’s Easy Being The Tooth Fairy?

I absolutely obsessed and had to buy 3 copies in order to have one for my kids as well as copies for the cousins (I was on my way to Utah to visit…) So I chatted her up on Twitter and get this! She LIVES in Utah… and agreed to sign my copies of the books!

Even better for you? She agreed to write a post for you today! I love her thoughts on social media and self promotion (writing or otherwise)…


When Carissa asked me to do a guest blog on an aspect of writing, I wasn’t sure what to chat about. But then I decided to go with the question that’s been on my mind 24/7:

How do I harness available technology to self-create my web presence?

Yup, that’s right: I’m talking about grabbing all that digital data by the horns and making it serve my goal of selling more books.

What? You thought I relied on my publisher’s markety mucks to do that? Yeah, well, maybe if I were Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling! The reality for most writers, however, is that they must spend at least half of their writing time on promotion, whether they self-publish or allow traditional publishers to birth their book(s).

Gone are the days when a business (yes, we writers need to think of ourselves as business-persons!) could rely on business cards and newspaper ads. Today, no web presence = no business. And, in case you haven’t noticed, the web is poised to take over whatever aspects of our lives it doesn’t already have in its digital-streaming hands.

Bottom line: if you’re not tapped into the Net, you’re invisible. Nada. Blanko. Zip. Don’t believe me? Then consider the power of Facebook and LinkedIn. “Out of sight, out of mind,” as a wise person once said.

So think of any time you spend cozying up to the Net as a necessary investment. An investment that puts power into your hands. While the following suggested tools are slanted toward writers, the info can be used by anyone seeking to build an online presence. Hope you find it useful!

Critical Promotion Tools for Authors:

1) Website. Get one, particularly one registered in your domain name. This makes it easy for your fans to find you.

Of course, a blog may do nicely, if you don’t feel the need for a full-blown website. I currently use Blogger for my tooth fairy blog, as Blogger is fairly simple to learn and use. However, I’ve heard more than one person say that WordPress is better suited for business websites, as it allows more creative freedom in format and content presentation. The good news, however, is that if you start with Blogger, you can switch over to WordPress without losing any content.

And know that you can use either platform and hide the fact that it’s not streaming directly from your website. Basically, you reroute the blog address by making a change in the blog settings. So when my new interactive (Web 2.0-based) website is up (my current site is so Web 1.0!), my blog will stream from my website’s homepage. Then I can stop promoting the blog as a separate entity. Yay!

Tip: If you want to fully understand the differences between “Web 1.0,” “Web 2.0,” and even “Web 3.0,” some of which is already being used by Amazon and other retailers, check out this really good article.

Tip: be sure to register your website(s) and blog(s) with Google, Bing, Open Directory, and Yahoo. But don’t overlook social networking and bookmarking sites such as Digg ( and Technorati ( and StumbleUpon ( Two other important sites are Plaxo ( and QAlias ( And get yourself one or more stat trackers, so you know how searchers are finding you and what they’re reading on your site(s). Several I can suggest are Statcounter ( and eXTReMetracking (

2) Facebook account. Even if you decide to limit your “friends” to just those people you know well, you don’t want to miss out on this great marketing tool. Set up a Fan Page that promotes your book. One cool marketing trick: create “Post this to your Facebook” buttons that link to content on your website or blog. That way your friends are helping you to market!

3) Twitter account. Frankly, I think there’s a whole lot of unnecessary twittering going on, but if you have audiences you want to reach, it’s a neat communication tool. You can twitter about your book signings, blog interviews, even your awards — but be sure to build your community first. Hard-sell on Twitter doesn’t work. And remember: it’s not the size of your Twitter audience that matters, it’s who those people are. So have a plan in mind when you follow tweeters. Do you want to reach moms? Grandparents? Or specific professionals, perhaps? One group I am definitely interested in chatting with is dentists. But I am ruthless in deleting followers I don’t want to do business with. I instantly delete anyone who offers to get me “400 instant followers” if I click on some link. I also delete the gals who offer to show me their “sexy” photos. OY!

As you will quickly learn, there are a TON of softwares that have been developed around Twitter. Twitcam ( allows you to stream video. Twitpic ( and Twitgoo ( allow you to share photos. And Twazzup ( helps you to quickly search Twitter to find info that other users have tweeted. They’re just the start of your Twitter options!!!

4) So find the tools that keep your technology in hand. To be honest, I get burned out if I have to keep logging into Twitter and Facebook. So I use Seesmic (, which allows me to simultaneously see both of my Twitter accounts, as well as the Facebook homepage. Specific to Twitter, it allows me to send out RTs (retweets), as well as track my DMs (direct messages).

Another site, Ping (, allows you to update 40 social media sites (with more on the way), which makes it a very handy tool. But be aware that each site has its own “rules” for acceptable posting frequency. Obviously, you can tweet a good deal without upsetting anyone, but you wouldn’t want to post more than, say, once a day on LinkedIn — or risk alienating your contacts. Acceptable Facebook frequency lies somewhere between the two.

Hey, will you do me a favor? Pop on over to PolkaDotBanner, an online marketing site for writers, and read an interview in which I share a few other marketing secrets. Be sure to vote! Thanks!


Sheri Bell-Reholdt can be found on her website and blog and LinkedIn. She has written several books and recently her first humorous children’s picture book, You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?, is enjoying great reviews and steady sales. 15,000+ copies sold!! Currently, she’s peddling her middle grade novel draft Junk Lot Jive, and working on a book about spy codes.

If You Could Eat Lunch With Anyone…

July 29, 2009
Outdoor Cafe in North Adams, MA



I already know. I’ve known for years. I picked this person back when my women’s group was busy interviewing everyone in the group one at a time. And one of the questions was this:

Who would you most like to sit down to lunch with?

Most people answered a grandmother who had passed away. Or a church leader they really admired. It was a church group so no one mentioned how they most wanted to meet up with Kate Gosselin to hear about her juicy gossipy details. No one said Michelle Obama… {maybe because they hadn’t heard of her yet.. this was a few years ago.}

Who would YOU choose?

At first I found it hard to decide. Yes, I’d like to catch up with my grandmother who passed away a year ago. Yes, I would be thrilled to speak with an amazing spiritual leader like the Dali Lama. But we’re assuming this is a one shot deal… this fantasy is over once you dream it…

I finally decided the one person in the whole world I would seriously love to have lunch with is..

Barbara Kingsolver

Oh my gosh. I love her books. I’ve been book-stalking her for years. Reading everything she has put in print. From her early series: The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams and Pigs In Heaven. To her more recent (and Oprah-fied) books: The Prodigal Summer and The Poisenwood Bible.

I’ve mentioned before about her book Animal Vegetable Miracle. I’m still dreaming about raising chickens one day….

My favorite book of hers? The one I still have in my nightstand? The one I literally have been reading for 8 straight years, I love it so much?

It’s called Small Wonder. And it’s not a novel. It’s a book of essays. And if you do nothing else in the world please read these essays! I love the one that is really a letter to her 13 yrold daughter. And another one about why they don’t have television in their home.

Barbara (can I call her by her first name if I dream of having lunch with her?) has a degree in biology (Hello! I HAVE A DEGREE IN BIOLOGY! We’re like.. related!) She loves all things gardening and cooking with all of those self grown veggies. She is witty and amazing and smart in that shares-wisdom-kind-of-smart-way that both wows you and makes you want to grow up to be like her.

I’m thinking she probably makes the rounds around the Nation for speaking gigs and whatnot? Do we think I could find out and just happen to land in the same city she’s speaking? Is it too creepy to dream about having lunch with your most favorite author?


This post is in direct response to a conversation I had with Jessica Gottlieb, I mentioned that I would kinda sorta faint if I got to eat lunch with her someday.. Jessica’s response? ‘Dream Bigger.’

Here it is Jess. I’m dreaming of someday sitting in a restaurant, one with an outdoor seating area… great salads, and Barbara Kingsolver on the other side of my table… (Wanna join us?)

photo credit: anslatadams
Yes there are affiliate links in this post.

Indoor Boredom Ideas, Rainy Day Or 100 Degrees!

July 27, 2009
GoodnCrazy summer series Help! My kids are driving me crazy!
{click to see the whole series}

Indoor Play activities: Great ideas for younger kids.. Create-a-Road and Pinch and Clip

Visit Playgroups USA Wow! what a fabulous amount of information and ideas about creating, joining and keeping your playgroup interesting! See this massive list of activities.

Rainy Day activity ideas for kids ages 6-10… I love the Family Education site for great kid fun ideas!


Anything with water! Bubbles in the sink, giving Barbies a bath, ‘painting’ the doors or any other hard surface with a paintbrush and a small cup of water… you get the idea…
Build a Fort.. let the kids imaginations run wild… spaceships, camping tents, or just plain playing ‘house’… help them out by suggesting wacky items from the kitcen as impliments for their adventure… a spaghetti spoon becomes the magic wand that drives the UFO, a rolling pin is the steering mechinism…
What rainy day or WAY too hot day indoor activity do your kids love.. feel free to share with us!

Your Camera Wants You To, Seriously!

July 24, 2009

Do you ever take a look around a photography blog and wish you could take dreamy pictures like they do? Here’s a quick explanation about lighting from Bonnie who is the professional photographer behind the lens at Bonnie Loves Pictures Photography.
Let her show you the light…

Auto or manual settings…
What’s the difference anyway?

—Photos and post by Bonnie of BonnieLovesPicturesPhotography and blog.

My hubby works from noon to 10:00 pm. When he comes home at night, I’m usually on the computer editing pictures and our three-year-old son is asleep on our bed (I know, but it’s the only place he’ll sleep, okay!) Usually I have the closet light on and it shines just enough light on my son stopping the whining about how dark it is in my room. Just so you know, when he doesn’t stop whining, I bribe him by telling him if he sleeps in his own room, I’ll buy him a HUGE Spiderman night light. —It never works, btw.

On this particular night, my son fell asleep with his Darth Vader costume on, INCLUDING the hard, plastic mask. My husband and I had a good laugh and then a picture of course!

  • Exposure: 1/8 sec
  • Aperture: f/1.4
  • ISO speed: 1600
  • Focal length: 50 mm

I have no idea why the only way he could sleep was with this costume on, but look, I’m tired, I’m busy, and if he wants to wear a costume to sleep, I’m all for it! This first picture is interesting because I was able to:

  • control the amount of light entering my camera (aperture)
  • determine how long my camera sensor was exposed to light (shutter speed)
  • choose the camera sensor for the light available (ISO speed)

I was able to capture a shot that truly looks like it was taken in the dark, with just a little closet light shining on my son. Let me show you the exact picture, with my camera on Auto.

It looks like I hauled my bed outside in broad daylight, forced my poor child to lay on it and pretend to be asleep, all so I could take a picture for this blog post. I didn’t, I promise. I had my camera on Auto and the on-camera flash went off. Good thing my son didn’t wake up, I tell ya.

If you have a camera that came with a good sized manual in the box, you probably have a camera that has different settings and modes. If you already know this and do this on a regular basis, then let’s get your photog on!

Now if you have a camera with these different settings, but you’ve never dared try them out or learn what your camera can do, I ask you to go and learn! Discover what beautiful things you and your camera can capture when the two of you know each other better.

Your camera wants you to, seriously.

Banana-licious: A Dabbled Production

July 22, 2009

Hi friends and family… please catch me today over at my bloggy pal’s chic crib.

Dot at is one cool artist/crafter/mom extraordinaire! And I’m beyond jealous of her art and style! Quirky, yet fun and colorful!

When I was in need of a custom piece of artwork for the website design project Mommy Is In The Bathroom, I called up Dot and said, HELP!!

She whipped up this custom illustration:

And I was saved!
You can see the completed new blog design at: (say hi to Melissa for me)! Would you like a custom art illustration like this to decorate your blog? Dot’s your girl. Affordable and friendly wrapped into one.

PS… the guest post over there today?? My Good {NCrazy} love of all things Bananas…

Kids In The Kitchen: Quesadillas!

July 20, 2009
GoodnCrazy summer series Help! My kids are driving me crazy!
{click to see the whole series}

Olé! It’s Fiesta Time!

Jennifer from Savor The Thyme has provided an excellent post about creating fabulous Quesadillas with the kids! Jennifer is a Stay at home mom and fun foodie blogger!

We have all been told to let our children ‘help’ in the kitchen and I have found that not only is it a great way to teach them about cooking, it is also a great way to empower them. What kid does not love the ideas of getting to make their own choices or ‘do what they want’? One way we let our kids have their free rein is when it comes to making Quesadillas. I simply place all of our favorite ingredients (and sometimes throw in new one) out and let them choose and assemble it.

This is truly a great way to entertain the children, use up leftovers, AND create a frugal and healthy meal.”

I love how Jen created a buffet of options for the kids to ‘try’… mine are always willing to try something once! They don’t always like it, but I think it’s really important to keep them trying!

See the rest of her post and ideas for Lil’ Kid Quesadilla options!

For Mom! I have been looking for a swim suit for.. well the whole summer! What do you think? Will this one work? I found a new althetic store called cool stuff huh?

I just came across this great book! You Think It’s Easy Being The Tooth Fairy? Hilarious! By Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt. (catch her on twitter!)

For tweener girls. GirlzLikeMe! An intriguing site where girls can safely upload pictures of themselves and talk with other girls. There’s a place to upload artwork and other creative ways to express themselves. Plus check out the blog. I like that this site is run by a young girl!

Car Travel Tips for Family Road Trips from

Fun Stuff for the Car: BackSeat Boredom Printables from

Church Chat: My Good Friend Marvin Speaks

July 19, 2009
Where do I fit in this mosaic world of many religions?
I often think about that. Do you?

I’ve had several conversations with my pal and resident blogging grandpa Marvin D. Wilson. And hands down my favorite thing about this great all around guy/blogger/writer/dad/grandpa is that he’s basically open to listening to any and all religious ideas. When was the last time you were able to have that kind of a conversation with someone? People often want to talk about their own religious ideas, but not so much to just listen to yours? Please visit his site: The Old Silly’s Free Spirit Blog for more Marvinisms!

I think he’s pretty much done it all. The good the bad the ugly and everything in-between… Seriously.

Recently I read two of his novels: Owen Fiddler and I Romanced the Stone.
And especially from reading the biographical Romanced the Stone: I’m beyond impressed with the depth and understanding Marvin shows for any and all. I asked good ole Marv if he had any thoughts to share on his view of world religions.. I give you: Part I (See Part II as well)

The Zen of Christianity

Star of David Coexistence- 2As a self-described “non-religious, dogma free, maverick spiritualist Christian with a Zen Buddhist background and a firm believer in the Law of Attraction,” I often get asked,

1. “How does your earlier Zen training affect and/or influence your current Christian beliefs, practice and experience – if at all?”

2. “How do you feel about the New-Age spirituality – the Law of AttractionThe Secret? Is humanity on the right track, or are we abandoning the scriptures and trying to ‘figure things out’ on our own, becoming a godless race of self-aggrandizing egotists?”

For today’s post I’ll answer the first question. The short answer is that the Zen training helps my Christian practice. It deepens it. I studied formally for four years under a Korean monk, a certified Zen Master, Venerable Samu Sunim. I will tell you this. That man was more Christ-like than the majority of the professing Christians I’ve known in my life. He held no prejudice against people of other religions, races, colors or ethnic backgrounds. He loved everyone equally and unconditionally. He was a free man, who lived with his students communally, just like the early Christians. He held no real estate, had no possessions other than his monks clothing, had no money other than what was donated to him without his asking, all of which he turned over to his Sangha. He enjoyed reading the books of the famous Trappist Christian monk author, Thomas Merton, and found profound spiritual value in them. One of his suggested books for his students to read was a Christian story of enlightenment through prayer titled, The Way of a Pilgrim. He would even sometimes quote the words of Jesus in his Dharma talks.

I’ve never heard a Christian minister or teacher dare to give any credence to any author from another faith, let alone the spiritual founder of one. Most of them seem to be afraid to admit there was any truth in the teachings of any other avatar than Jesus. My all time favorite Christian author, C. S. Lewis, was well read in all the major world religions, and he found a great deal of truth and wisdom in them. He wrote, and I agree with him, that if there were no common correlations, no cross-over of fundamental truths contained within Christianity and the other major spiritual paths, he would have to ultimately doubt the validity of his chosen faith.

But back to my Zen teacher. Best of all, he taught me how to meditate. How to quiet the internal dialog – that incessant continuous brain-rambling on and on and on in repeat loop mode that keeps us distracted away from (and unable to hear) the voice of God. Most Christians I know don’t know how to do this. And then they wonder why only the gifted ones, the prophets, the anointed ones, can hear the voice of God. Everyone is spoken to by God. You just have to shut up and listen!

When I first converted to Christianity, that happening due to a powerful spiritual experience I had, a direct meeting with the Christ (I write about this in I Romanced the Stone), it was at a little fledgling ministry in Saginaw, Michigan, a church called Shiloh’s Lighthouse Ministries. I joined the congregation, a (to me at the time, considering my past experience with Christian churches) strange collection of people from all walks of life – different races, ages, ethnic backgrounds, economic statuses, and backgrounds, all coming together for one purpose, and that was to draw closer to God and be enlightened with the Truth. The truth of the love of Jesus, the free gift of God’s Grace, and the divine human birthright, the empowerment to be one with God. But as I grew familiar with the church’s constituents, I became aware of something.

Very few of them knew how to “be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 46:10) Wonderful people, don’t get me wrong – big hearts, loving, striving to be good, wanting to become all they can be in the light of God, but so full of useless crap inside their everyday heads. Melodrama junkies. A lot of Christians (I’ve known in my life) are so internally noisy – filled to the brim with their own thoughts and melodramas. They don’t have the foggiest idea how to sit still and let the sound of God speak to them through the whisper of the wind through the trees or the lap of the waves at the beach or the tap tap tap of the pellets on the rain-soaked window. Many contemporary Christians use loud beat music with Christian lyrics to get empty, get wiped out, get depleted of their daily thoughts and concerns, in order to be able to sit still after an hour of praise and worship music and hear the Word of God with a clear undistracted mind.

Well, that’s fine for Sunday morning (or Saturday or whatever day your particular sect holds regular weekly meetings on), but what about Wednesday afternoon at work? How are you going to hear God tell you the best way to respond to your jerk boss who just chewed you out for something you didn’t even do? Will you be still and peaceful and hear the little voice? Ain’t happening. Your gonna get pissed off and lose your faith! I’m speaking generalities, of course, there are many, many well-grounded spiritual Christians these days who carry their inner-peace and the love of Jesus with them 24/7. Just not enough, in my opinion.

So I started a meditation class for Christians. That’s just me – I try to help. I call the class, “Sit down, Sit Still, Shut Up, and Listen.” Christians need to learn how to meditate. It’s not a substitute for prayer, mind you; it’s a means of deepening your connection with God. That’s another post I’ll write one day. And by the way, Buddhists need to learn how to pray, also. But that too is another post.

Please read part II: Christianity and the Law of Attraction

image credit: zeevveez
note: post contains affiliate links

Hamburger Helper Vs. The Cantaloupe

July 19, 2009

Once upon a time…
There was a yummy cantaloupe sitting on my kitchen counter. Cute and Cuddly.


It was the perfect color. The perfect size. 3 days into it’s house visit… it was beginning to give off that perfect cantaloupe-y smell.

You know— that smell?
Where you walk into the kitchen and go.. wait?
Aren’t all my kids potty trained??

Then you remember… oh yeah, Cantaloupe Smell.

It’s been known to take out small children on their way to the fridge for a yogurt. But you know it’s going to be super yummy canta-fabulous when it get’s that ripe. Slice into it… splashing your cutting board with juices. Dig out the seeds and slimy pulp (and when you forget to take out the trash that night… oh MY… stink x 14!) Then chunk it up into bite sized orange ripe sweet chunks….Heaven in a smelly greenish shell.

Cantaloupe close-up

But I realize there are some out there who don’t share my orgy love for the chic cantaloupe. And I realize they might enjoy Hamburger Helper more. So let’s have it:

A GoodNCrazy poll:
Hamburger Helper Vs. The Cantalope

Do you:

A: Love Cantaloupe?
B: Eat Hamburger Helper for Dinner and then have Cantaloupe for dessert?
C: Hate Cantaloupe the Smell and all the Squishy Innards?
D: Think Hamburger Helper is da bomb and should be Elevated to a 5th Food Group?
E: Hate all of the above?

Photo credits: .Larry Page, royalty free image collection

A Soft Place To land: Try This!

July 15, 2009
GoodNCrazy Summer Series
{click to see the whole series}

Today. OMStinkin’Heck.


You can find me at Kimba’s Crib Yo!
{Okay I sound like an idiot.}

HINT: There’s cookies and lemonade involved!

Please click over to A Soft Place To Land for today’s Summer Series Post!

Cure Kids’ Mid-Summer Monotony: Week 7

July 13, 2009
GoodnCrazy summer series Help! My kids are driving me crazy!
{click to see the whole series}

Today’s GoodNCrazy series is brought to you by the two hip dads of TodayIsFun! Take it away guys!

It’s the middle of July. Your kids have been out of school for some time now, and – uh-oh – the novelty of summer break has begun to wear off. The kids have played with all their toys quite thoroughly. They’ve settled into something of a routine with camps and summer classes. They’re beginning to know the backyard like the back of their hands. With the “newness” of summer break gone, the children in your house need some new ways to keep busy and have fun.

At our site,, we think having a number of kids activities ready to go at all times will save a parent’s day (and a parent’s sanity.)

We offer below ten fun-filled ideas for keeping your kids busy during the summer doldrums. The kids’ activities here are pretty much geared towards ages six through eleven (roughly the ages of Carissa’s two older kids), and they’re designed for young ones to be able to do without a lot of parental involvement (because children playing happily on their own can contribute to parental sanity. And we all could use a healthy dose of that.)

(1) Ice Cube Experimentation. With just a couple ice cubes and tupperware bowls, your children can transform into temperature scientists! Watching ice melt might sound as thrilling as watching paint dry . . . but kids really do enjoy this simple experiment.

(2) Miscellaneous Squiggle. You draw a line and your child “fills in the rest” to create an art masterpiece. Gets the kids’ creativity a-churnin.’

(3) Monster Names. Another entry from our arts and crafts department, this is a fun way for kids to ‘decorate’ their own names. A big-time crowd-pleaser among the kids in our house.

(4) Leaf Rubbings. Send the kids out back to grab some leaves (but please, no hacking down trees or butchering the bushes). Then, they come back in, grab some crayons, and make beautiful, natural leaf rubbing art!

(5) Sidewalk Chalk Maze. This is generally time consuming and therefore good for kids who can stick with a project for a while. They create their own maze on the pavement outside, and then a hapless parent has to come out and try to find a way out.

(6) Structural Problems. Using blocks or Tinker Toys or something similar the kids build a structure with a big problem: a planned flaw that will lead to the (fun) downfall of the whole shebang.

(7) A map of the house. You (or the kids) make a map of the house. Once that’s done, you can “track” people and objects anywhere inside. Really, woudn’t your family benefit fromn a homemade GPS for your house?

(8) No-Cut Kite. A simple flying contraption . . . a perfect (and perfectly fun) way to keep the kids quite busy. They’ll be folding and then out back flying! (Some wind required.)

(9) Chalk painting. Get the kids outside. Give them chalk and water and mix all the preceding ingredients together. Messy, goopy, and vaguely arty fun.

(10) Photo walk. Great for older kids who can be trusted with a digital camera. This one gets them outside and looking at the world. Then they come back inside for some artistic achievement.

With the ideas listed above, you should be in good shape for the rest of the mid-summer blues. If you’d like suggestions for more kids activities along this vein, please swing by, where we post a new keep-the-kids-busy idea every day.

And thank you to Carissa for inviting us to participate in (A life that is “good and crazy” is a great goal for families of kids to have!)

About Steve and Paul of

Steve and Paul are the two Dads over at Their website offers free, fun and educational activities for keeping kids entertained and out of their parents’ hair. Between their two families they have four kids that keep them quite busy. aims to be the premier resource for parents asking, “What can I do with the kids now?”

In case you are wondering: my blog’s disclosure.