Category Archives: BlogLikeCrazy

New focus for Blog Like Crazy

And now, for something completely different. 

Y’all have probably noticed that I haven’t posted since Tuesday. The election results and subsequent wave of hate crimes, hate speech, and general bullshit have left me with a lot of deep grief.
Here’s the thing. As a cisgender straight white woman, I experience a goodly amount of privilege. Much has been written from this viewpoint that expresses what and how I feel. It’s not my place to do that again.

Instead, I’m going to resume Blog Like Crazy for a different purpose: To highlight organizations working to preserve the rights of People of Color, LGBTQ+, women, people with disabilities, and all Othered communities. To be a signal boost for writers of color. To provide resources on how to be an ally. Because it’s up to us, White people, to LEARN how to be allies. It’s not on these communities to teach us.

If you don’t think there’s a problem, unfollow me. If you believe that the reaction to this election is the same as the other side’s to 2008, these posts are not for you. I’m not here to argue, I’m here to provide resources. Love trumps hate. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has. 

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Vote-y McVoteface

voteI get really, really excited about voting. In fact, Ed Bowser wrote an article four years ago about how stoked I get to go to the polls. Spoiler: it’s a lot.

This year, it’s more important than ever. Today, I’m not writing to convince you to vote for my candidate. I’m not rehashing my arguments about our current third party options. Nope. Today’s not the day for that.

Today is the day to get your butt to your polling place and vote. If you want to write in the Glow Cloud or Mickey Mouse for president, be my guest. But aside from the presidential race, 469 seats of the current do-nothing Congress are up for re-election. Many state and local officials are on the ballot.

Vote. Vote for people who have been purposefully disenfranchised, even this year. Vote to protect your rights and the rights of those you love, however you feel that’s best accomplished. Don’t boo, vote. Don’t kvetch, vote. Today of all days, don’t stay home. Vote.

This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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Chronic FOMO

Bar Institute Austin

Humpback Sally’s UpFront at Bar Institute Austin

Bartenders host the best events. Try to prove me wrong, but if you’ve ever been to a Lush Life Productions events, you know. Though I’ve never been to Camp Runamok or Portland Cocktail Week (both are on my bucket list), I went to the educational Bar Institutes in Miami and Austin. Right now, I’m missing Bar Institute New York, which will showcase the year’s most popular seminars and presentations.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve skipped or missed a lot of those events, both locally and nationally. Instead of traveling for work or fun, I’ve mainly been making trips out of necessity to visit family. At the time, family took precedence, and I wouldn’t trade the memories from those trips for anything in the world.

The tiny, fearful part of my brain tries to convince me otherwise. “You could be having so much fun,” it whispers. “You’re only young once.” But even at the events I’ve attended, even at amazing Bar Institute parties and dinners with friends I love, I find myself counting down until I would be by myself, curled up under a bunch of blankets.

It would seem that there’s no right answer. But the truth is that I’ve been pushing myself beyond the limits of my body and mind for more than a year. I’ve been exhausted, both mentally and physically, and need to give myself some time to heal. Hell, after my last big trip in July, it took almost three months to recover from feeling utterly off-kilter when I got home.

Tonight, I’ll wish my friends all the best fun, drinks, and food New York has to offer. Y’all post all the pictures so I can keep up and stay jealous, alright? If you need me, I’ll be curled up on my couch under a blanket, headed for an earlyish bedtime.

This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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Your not-so-secret admirer

It will probably come as no surprise that I read a lot. As a writer, I read to stay abreast of current events and to relax, but mainly to learn. Here’s the thing: I learn from almost everything I read. Even the Harry Potter series, which I’m currently rereading for the 324th time, teaches me something about the convergence of craft and content.

Like my social media feed, my media consumption usually revolves around cocktails, pictures and videos of puppies, and local news. After five years as a writer, many of the pieces that come across are writers and bloggers I’ve met. But there are many bloggers whose work I actively seek out and subscribe to.

Locally, the scene is unapologetically amazing. Some of these fantastic souls work so hard to elevate the scene that Beyoncé should watch out. These include:

  • Ed Bowser‘s cutting wit, comic book smarts, and humor make Soul In Stereo a must-read for me. Almost every entry I’ve read has made me laugh.
  • Mary-Berkley Gaines and I went to high school together, but I didn’t know her then. Now, her work on  The Beautiful Bodies of Birmingham Project spreads the radical body positivity message near and far.
  • Sara Glassman is my book dealer. As a bookseller and librarian, her book blog, Medusa’s Library, keeps me in books and news from the speculative fiction scene.
  • David Griner, the Digital managing editor for Adweek, is a friend and writing hero. I hope to one day write articles with the focus and speed with which he practices the craft.
  • Javacia Harris Bowser, the fearless founder of See Jane Write Birmingham is, of course, the first on my list. While the rest of us are sleeping, she’s working on her lesson plans for her classes at ASFA, freelance assignments, and businesses coaching plans.
  • Carla Jean Whitley gave me the chance that made me a writer. She was my first editor on a professional level, and helped to shape my work into something salable. Her professional work, along with her honest and cat-filled blog, Ink-Stained Life, has been an inspiration since I started this journey.

Though I’m far from a fashionista, I still read several local fashion blogs regularly. Recently, this has become even more important, as I took a position back in June as the coordinator of My Sister’s Closet, a secondhand boutique operated by our local YWCA chapter. Some of my favorite include:

  • Jeniese Hoisey, the badass babe behind the Jenesaisquoi Blog, is more glamorous than I can ever hope to be.
  • Alexis Barton of Same Chic Different Day, who I’m still convinced is too cool to be my friend.
  • Jennifer Dome King, whose Stellar Fashion & Fitness entries push me to embrace my body and work from where I am towards a fitness level that works for me.
  • Maacah Davis, who runs belladonnaa high fashion magazine that features models of color and diverse backgrounds. It’s gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see what else she’s able to do in the future.

I also read a lot about cocktails, but to ensure that this post isn’t 12,000 words long, I’ll list some of my favorite writers’ names:

This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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6 Articles I Barely Shared On Social Media

home-is-where-the-dogs-are-2As both a deeply private person and a writer trying to build her portfolio, I’ve written a lot of pieces that I didn’t share when they came out. Though I was proud of many of them, they weren’t immediately available online and I forgot or the topics were personal enough that I could risk offending someone or there was some sort of error (from me or the editor) that overshadowed the awesomeness of the piece.

Thanks to the marvels of modern technology, most of those errors have been fixed after the fact, but it was far enough after publication that I forgot to publicize the piece. Yikes. Anyhow, here’s a short and strange look into my portfolio.

  1. When “My $5,000 Wedding Budget” was published on Debt.com, we had gone a few hundred dollars over budget. I also don’t like to admit that wedding planning triggered panic attacks, or that I think the modern obsession with weddings can turn the celebration into a pageant and that icks me out.
  2. I profiled winemaker Randall Grahm for VinePair, and forgot to send the article to him for several weeks. He’s an odd but interesting bird, and I got to learn about viticulture. Wine is cool.
  3. This article on the geeky side of clarification in cocktails for Tales of the Cocktail came out a couple weeks after the third death in our family in ten weeks. Big, huge, sloppy thanks to the editors for their flexibility and generosity. I was too shellshocked to do anything other than read over it and file it away for later.
  4. Sometimes I write about agriculture. FarmLife magazine is super cool, but the full issues don’t go online for a bit. My first feature for them focused on a pair of brothers farming up in Quebec.
  5. For the first few months of the year, my main coping mechanism was compartmentalization. Though many of y’all may not believe it, I wrote an article about the history of the Cosmopolitan for mental_floss.
  6. People get real snarky about recommendations for starting a home bar. Really, people get snarky over booze recommendations in general because they’re based on opinion. There’s no hard and fast rules, guys, mmkay? Drink what you like. Here’s my take for mental_floss.

This post topic was inspired by the suggestion to blog about 5 things you know. This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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The Almighty Bucket List

No matter the struggle, Nikki Bear ALWAYS wants to cuddle.

No matter the struggle, Nikki Bear ALWAYS wants to cuddle.

Piecing together a new bucket list is one of my biggest goals for the month of November. As I may have mentioned if you’ve seen me or my social media since September, I wrote a book. It’s a cocktail book (surprising, I know), but it’s not the book I’ve wanted to write. I’m still trying to figure out what else I want to do with my life, but that’s still to come. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  • Write a helpful book. Hello, vagueblogging! Recipe books are awesome, but I want my work to have a positive impact.
  • Write a fun cocktail recipe book. This one will be a collaboration with a dear friend and extremely talented artist. Again, details to come.
  • Successfully pitch The AtlanticMarie Claire, and Fast Company. I’ve written for The Atlantic‘s CityLab, but I’d like to write for the publication itself. As for the others, I’ve got the byline bug, and want to see my name in other publications I admire.

Every time I think about quitting writing, my brain immediately starts the “But what would I do instead?” Literally every time this happens, the first 1,283 thoughts that come to my brain are ALL writing-related. As in, “Oh, I could go back to school for anthropology. Discover would LOVE me!” or “Bama has a great MLS program. Library work is so conducive for writing and reading.”

Seriously, brain?

The farther into this internal debate I get, the more I think that writing is not the issue. In fact, writing has become a non-negotiable part of my life. Perhaps the lesson here is that the life of a freelancer isn’t for me. For someone who values her independence and mornings, the lack of structure, benefits, and regular work also makes me anxious. But changing careers costs money, and the money has to come from somewhere. Unless something drastic happens, that, for now, is my way forward.

This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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2016, in a nutshell

home-is-where-the-dogs-areAs promised on Nov. 1, I’m going to use #bloglikecrazy to get a bit more personal on the Internet. But there’s less than two months left in 2016, and it’s time to face the music: This year was pretty shitty. There were some high points and a good bit of travel, but a lot of the milestones were negative. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time on the couch with Netflix instead of socializing because I couldn’t bring myself to leave my blanket burrito.

Though I’ve nabbed three bylines in new-to-me national publications (and have one more coming), I’ve been seriously struggling financially with writing. Most online writing pays less than $500 per article, and the hours involved in researching and writing render the hourly rate less than ideal. Include time spent pitching and emailing, and the stats are downright grim. In addition to articles, I almost write copy for one corporate client, but the gig isn’t steady.

Now, to the really tough stuff. In the first few months of the year, three family members passed away and we moved another into an assisted living facility, all in the span of ten weeks. All this happened before our first anniversary. Though none of them were completely unexpected, it was/is completely overwhelming. I worked through the first two deaths, but took almost a month off to try to keep our lives even marginally functioning. For several months, we were splitting our time between Birmingham and Guntersville. Thank goodness the Bears don’t get carsick.

On to the positive: at the beginning of the year, Adam was offered a job with a local law firm (YAY!!!). I traveled a lot, and although it threw a lot of parts of my life out of sync, it also provided me a way to temporarily distance myself from the tough stuff. And we bought a house tucked away in a cute little neighborhood in Homewood. It’s about twice as big as our shoebox apartment was, but it’s a haven. It has a decent-sized back yard, which the Bears love, and lots of sticks and chipmunks for them to chase.

In the middle of all that, I dropped off the face of the Earth. Social media, blogging, social interactions: all of it was too much to face. Several of the articles I wrote during that time haven’t made it onto social media. I simply haven’t had the energy or motivation to do anything but hide from the world. When a publisher approached me about writing a book back in August, I jumped on it to have Something Important To Do. And to see my name on a book, of course. It was overwhelming, and I lost myself in it for six weeks.

If I’m being honest with the Internet, I haven’t processed most of the changes from early 2016. To keep going, I’ve addressed the issues with a large(r than usual) dose of inappropriate humor, but that’s a mask. I want to start back with therapy soon, even though I don’t feel like I’m ready to face up to that much loss and anger and vulnerability. But that’s life, in some ways. No way forward but through.

This month, I’m attempting to blog my way forward by writing every day as part of Blog Like Crazy.

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