Call for funny stories! ‘Santa’s not real?!’

I want to know: How did YOU learn that Santa isn’t real? What’s your story?

DON’T POST IT HERE. Keep reading, and I’ll give you the details …

I’m preparing a special blog post for the week of Christmas. It’ll be a compilation of YOUR stories, telling the world how you learned that Santa isn’t … well, you know …

How old were you? Did you cry? Did you accuse your parents of lying? Did you refuse to eat? How did you handle this immaculate revelation?

E-mail me with your story!

Please keep it to a paragraph (about 6 sentences) or less. I’m going to include as many stories as I reasonably can. It’ll be hilarious to read! 

Please send your story to I can’t wait to read!

OH YES: And if you have any friends who would like to share their hilarious story, send them this link and have them submit!

My Love-Hate Relationship with Books

I have a confession to make. It’s a problem of exponential proportions, and I desperately, desperately need help.

I’m a writer, and I hate books as much as I love them.

It’s like an abusive relationship, really. Where I love the guy, but he deprives me of the very things I need to live–and I hate him for it.

Help me!

You see, I find a book and I start reading. Next thing I know, I can’t stop. It draws me in, like an addiction, I’m always running back. I feel like a drug addict sneaking into the bathroom late at night for that quick fix.

Suddenly, my life goes on hold so I can see what happens on the next page. I forgo:

  • sleep
  • food
  • exercise
  • social interactions

Soon, I’m a zombie all day. And starving. Yet feeling fat. I can’t write, I can’t think, I can’t drive … But I need to know what will happen in that next chapter!

So I put off a homemade dinner again. And I stay up until 1 a.m., even though I must wake at 5 for work. I complain to my boyfriend how life seems overwhelming because I’m so sleep-deprived, but when 10 p.m. rolls around, I jerk myself alive again.

Because I’m reading.

My heart races as I flip from page, to page, to page. Will she find her love? Will he die on the island? What happened to her maid growing up? Time stops as I approach the end, and I feel myself holding my breath … praying.

And finally, it ends.

I take a week or two and life returns to normal. I make salmon with whole-grain pasta in the evening again. I return to my weight machine and treadmill. My boyfriend breathes a sigh of relief.

Until, I find the next book …

MY QUESTION TO YOU: What are your confessions when it comes to your writing, reading, or other little pleasures in life (please keep it PG)?

[Have you followed me on Twitter yet, or “liked” me on Facebook? Try it. :-)]

Death of a Dream (special post)

Have YOU ever had to bury a long-loved dream? One you thrived on? One you lived for?

I have. Today, my short narrative, “Death of a Dream,” is being featured on the new Anthem Exposition. I have fun writing this blog, however “Death of a Dream” is closer to my real writing–you know, the kind that gets published (some of you, I know, have been curious to read this story).

I’m sure many who’ve lived through the Great Recession can relate. And if you’re a (current or former) journalist, you’ll be nodding your head the whole way through. Take three minutes and head on over. I know you won’t be disappointed.

Read “Death of a Dream” now.

Occupy Yada Yada Yada

Lately, it seems the world is occupying itself.

I’ve heard activists say they’re protesting everything from corporate greed (understandable) to gambling (OK, well maybe not this exactly, but something equally as ridiculous).

I get it, the world is ticked off. And they have every right to be. But I’m taking my own stance. I’m starting my OWN movement!

It’s called “Occupy Yada Yada Yada.” And here is a list of 20 things I’m protesting!

  1. Math, just math
  2. Politician signs on street corners
  3. Office-made coffee
  4. Ants
  5. People who don’t use their turn signals
  6. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter
  7. Reality T.V.
  8. Mustard
  9. Rest area toilet paper
  10. Frozen chicken nuggets inside vegetable bags
  11. Shag carpenting
  12. Pennies
  13. Eye boogers
  14. Sock fuzz and belly button lint (they’re cousins)
  15. Stores that don’t carry Andes Mints
  16. Wallpaper
  17. Obese squirrels
  18. The death of overalls
  19. Overgrown toenails
  20. And finally … no more Seinfeld episodes!

In honor of Occupy Yada Yada Yada, what do YOU hereby protest?

[Have you followed me on Twitter yet, or “liked” me on Facebook? Try it! :-)]

I’m 1-Year Today! Post YOUR Blog’s Link to Celebrate

Exactly one year ago today (Sept. 19, 2010), Rogue Writer was born. The infant post? Writer’s Block Anonymous.

In all actuality, I first began my blog a few months before then. However, it was something completely different: a gardening blog entitled, Peanuts and Watermelon. I never actually started a garden, though.

So, I’ll cut to the chase. Over the past year, I worked to grow Rogue Writer’s presence. It’s still gaining traction, but it went from no subscribers, to more than 230. So this 1-year birthday isn’t about me.

It’s about YOU.

Thank you for reading my work. Thank you for sharing my posts. Thank you for supporting me by simply visiting my site, and for telling your friends about me. Without you, this would be a very lonely birthday.

In honor of my 1-year birthday today:

Please post YOUR blog’s link to my comments section below. Feel free to include a brief summary of your blog. Go ahead, promote yourself to the world!

The first 6 commentators will get a post on Rogue Writer this Thursday …

… dedicated to them and their sites (one post highlighting 6 blogs and their authors).

This is my way of saying, “Thanks!” Are you ready? Set? Go! …


[UPDATE as of 9 a.m., Arizona time … The first six comments have been posted, but the newest comments show first! So keep posting your blog links for exposure!]

What Happened to the Need for Volunteers?

I’m a 29-year-old professional woman, college-educated, and I’m dying to volunteer for my neighborhood’s at-risk kids.  

There’s just one problem: no one wants my help.

Today is one of those days I’m veering off-topic. And yes, perhaps this is a bit of a rant. But I see something wrong–very wrong–with my recent discovery. And I cannot remain silent.

What I want(ed) to do 

I grew up in the vibrant dance culture of Phoenix, Ariz. (yes, we do have one, believe-it-or-not). I danced ballet, jazz, lyrical … 15 hours a week. I helped put myself through college by teaching dance.

And now that I work a professional 9-5, I want to teach it again. Except this time, I don’t want to be paid. I want to volunteer as a dance teacher and mentor for teenage girls in my neighborhood’s high school dance program.

It’s a Title 1 school. That means it receives federal funds because many of its students are at-risk, from low-income households.

Since this summer, I’ve been trying to call the school. I’ve left messages with the principal, the office staff, and even the staff dance teacher. I went so far as to call the SCHOOL DISTRICT and leave a message for their volunteer coordinator.

Not a single call back.

I guess our local school districts, which are scrounging for money, don’t need free help from its community’s professionals, who by the way, pay property taxes to support education.

Walter Cronkite had a volunteer high-school mentor.

Did you know that? I’m currently reading his autobiography. The man was a professional journalist in Walter’s community. He volunteered to teach and mentor the neighborhood high school kids once or twice a week.

Walter Cronkite, as we know him, would probably never have existed without this great volunteer.

Have you ever seen the movie, “Stand and Deliver?” It’s about the infamous math teacher, Jaime Escalante, who taught at-risk high school students calculus. Jaime, a Bolivian educator, came to Garfield High School from a computer factory, where he served as a star technician.

In today’s world of public education, neither Jaime nor Walter’s mentor would have made it to the classroom. No one would have bothered to call them back.

Yes, I’m angry! And you should be, too.

What happened to this country’s appreciation for volunteers? When did it become so HARD to help, for free, in your community? When did we become so selfish, that we think only to use our communties as resources–to better ourselves?

I come from a family of teachers. My mother was a teacher, my father was a teacher. My boyfriend’s mother is a teacher. I have cousins who are teachers. It runs in my blood. And yet, I cannot get involved.

Is anyone else seeing what’s happening here?

Yes, perhaps there are many reasons why I haven’t gotten a call back. But after leaving multiple messages for multiple people, I think the message is clear. They don’t want my help. Because to them, it’s not about the kids.

This makes me wonder, what other opportunities are being denied to our youth in the public school system? Who else have they not called back?

I’m not a parent. So I urge every parent out there to find out. Ask questions. Because apparently, it’s no longer the American way to step up and volunteer for your community’s youth.

[If you agree with what you read here today, share this post with your friends! Tweet it. Facebook it. Stumble it. The buttons are below. Just click, and get the conversation going.]

Top 8 Reasons to STEP AWAY from the Computer

Back in April, a pack of wild teenagers stole my laptop computer right from the desk in my home.

You can read about that fateful day from my post, “Burglars Beware! Why to NEVER Rob a Writer’s Home.” However, as angry (and scared) as I was when it happened, I learned something that day:

Taking time away from the world of technology was refreshing—and amazing for my writing. I urge everyone to lose their computer for a week (I was out nearly a month) and see what I mean.

Here are my top eight reasons why you should STEP AWAY from the computer for once:

1. You see the world again. I mean, you really SEE it.





2. You sleep better, and deeper, and calmer.






3. You’re not as stressed from constantly being “plugged in.”





4. You have more time to exercise and cook healthy meals.








5. You concentrate on YOU, not what everyone else is doing.






6. Your mind can relax and regenerate, which = more creativity.






7. You read a book—the old-fashioned way.







8. And finally, your writing improves. Not just a little, but A LOT.








Sometimes, as ambitious writers, we forget that the most important aspect of writing, is living. And although the computer is a significant piece of building our names, we cannot let it consume our lives.

I CHALLENGE YOU: Leave your computer at a trusted friend’s for a week, and take away the temptation. Then tell us the outcome … Are you up for it?

**All photos displayed are the copywritten property of Shari Lopatin (except the books photo, which was borrowed from Google Images), and cannot be copied, reproduced, or printed without written consent from Shari Lopatin.**


[If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss the next! Sign up to receive my blog posts via email, and get the latest on writing tips, industry news, expert interviews, funny stories, and media strategies … every Thursday.]

20,000 Clicks and Some Crazy Social Media Thing

This past weekend, I hit a milestone–and it’s thanks to YOU.

I finally reached 20,000 visits to my blog. I began blogging a year ago, and in fact, this blog’s original theme/title was “Peanuts and Watermelon.” But then, sometime in September, I had an epiphany.

And “Rogue Writer” was born.

So, to commemorate, and to laugh at my mindset only nine months ago, here is a post from Sept. 21, 2010:

This Crazy Social Media Thing


As the old-fashioned writer I am–who has no cable or converter boxes for her ancient TVs (surprisingly, they do display in color)–I never thought I’d say this:

Twitter is pretty cool.

Stubbornness runs in my blood. I’m Jewish and Russian and Polish. My father once refused to take our 13-year-old cat to the vet when she fell over in some sort of animalistic shock. “Oh! She does this all the time!” he said.

Turns out the cat was spiraling into renal failure.

Only by the desperate tears from my sister and I did my dad take her to the vet, who saved her life. Today, I’m proud to report she’s happy and healthy.

But I digress. My natural stubbornness forced me to reject everything social media for the past few years. I’m a former newspaper reporter who finds romance in the printed word. I was convinced (and still am, to a point) that the developing blogosphere is killing true journalism. And I hated social media for that.

If I could be a serial killer, I’d aim straight for the jugulars of Twitter and Blogspot.

Until this past week. Don’t ask me what clicked. Or what snapped. But I suddenly decided I NEEDED to begin building an online presence. As a professional rogue writer, my future depended on it.

So I sucked it up, bit my tongue (maybe bled a bit), and started my profile. Within two days, I have 6 followers, including the possibility of doing a book review. Now, that might sound like nothing, but from 0-6 (that’s right, I didn’t even have a base) in a day or two makes me feel pretty darned important!

Maybe there is something to this word-of-mouth on steroids called Twitter. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all. Naw, I won’t spend my life on the computer. I love nature too much and need that fresh air. But I do think I’ll pay more attention to it going forward.

While I’m at it, I’d better loosen that stubbornness gene, before I let my own cat die of renal failure.

NOTE: I now have more than 300 followers on Twitter, and I just opened my Facebook page (15 followers right now). If you like what you read on “Rogue Writer,” you’ll love the discussions  and posts planned for Facebook (The Onion, Writer’s Digest, and more).  Join me there!

Burglars Beware! Why to NEVER Rob a Writer’s Home

I used to write poetry during math class. 

I never would have guessed those poems would come in handy a decade later (a.k.a. last Monday), when burglars decided to break into my home, steal my computer and snatch my lighters.

Yeah, really. All my lighters.

Really, being a writer, I don’t own much else of value. I wish I was there to see the looks on their faces as they ripped apart my manila envelopes entitled “Important Papers.”

I bet they hoped to find bank statements or maybe even my home’s deed. Yeah, right. Instead, they found stacks and stacks of old poetry.

And I can just about imagine what ran through the burglars’ minds as they sifted through my fancy “idea box” resting upstairs on my wooden desk, tossing aside bits of paper with random scribbles:

Phone queue purgatory

Feuding with black widow

No experts in social media

“Where’s the (bleepin’) money!” they scream. “Who the hell is this chick?”

Then, they spot it. The single drawer in my bedroom’s nightstand. Yes! they think. Maybe we’ll find money or jewelry in there.

They yank it out, turning the drawer upside down, only to find nothing but journals and pens, condoms and lube. Furious, they spin around and leave it on the floor, the condoms crowning the unwanted rubble.

Yea, you know it. We writers still need our “muse.”

Perhaps they stole my computer, but really, I got the last laugh. Lesson learned? Burglars beware! You should NEVER break into a writer’s home.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: If burglars broke into your home, what would make you wish you’d been there, to see their faces?

Have you subscribed to my blog, or encouraged your friends to subscribe, for a shot at winning a free editing/consulting session yet? You only have one week left! Find out more now.

Chompie’s for the Writer’s Soul (Special Post)

I’m shocked I’m not a fat tub of lard today–after all the Chompie’s I eat.

This is the first line of my first guest post, as an official blogger (I guess). The topic? The power of comfort food for creativity.

I’ve been published in magazines all over, but I’ve only been blogging about six months. Therefore, when fellow professional writer and blogger, Leah Singer, invited me to post on her site, “Leah’s Thoughts,” I couldn’t resist!

Come and join the fun. Read about how Chompie’s has changed my life as a writer, how comfort food can inspire YOUR creativity, and share which foods relax you. Read my guest post, Chompie’s for the Writer’s Soul.”