What do the monsoons have against me?

Seriously, I want to know. Because a few days ago, it reached 120 DEGREES here in the deserts of Phoenix, Ariz.

No rain yet, just apocalyptic dust storms. Not even a little tease of lightning. C’mon, monsoons!

Oh yeah … and there’s a black widow living in my garage.

I think God is taking out His frustration on me for not updating Rogue Writer in nearly a month (sorry, y’all). Or if not Him, then the monsoons are holding some preconceived, spiteful grudge. Who knows …  it could be the water I left running in my front yard for TWO DAYS (by accident) last week.

But on another, more serious note …

Whilst talking about monsoons and a hellish drought, I can’t help but also mention the 19 incredibly brave firefighters who died this past week, here in Arizona. Did you hear about them?

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They were the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew, fighting that aggressive wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz. It burned nearly half the town, about 200 homes. The Granite Mountain Hotshots were all from Prescott, Ariz: my old stomping ground.

See, I got my start working for The Daily Courier newspaper up there, as a lead education reporter. I also backed up on crime, courts, and the fire department. When I heard what happened, my heart sank, and I felt sick.

Most of these men were in their twenties, a few in their thirties, and one or two in their forties. I want to take a moment to recognize them, thank them for their brave service, and send my deepest condolences to their families.

Prescott firefighters

Support the Surviving Families

Here is a Facebook post, taken directly from the “In Memory of Prescott Firefighters Lost 6/30/2013” Facebook page:

The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, together with the Prescott Fire Fighters Charities, have established a 501(c)3 relief fund at any Chase bank. Ask for the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association Account set up to benefit fire fighters killed in the Yarnell fire.

Every penny of your tax deductible contribution will go directly to the families.

Additionally, donations can be made through the 100 Club or the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

May you RIP, Hotshots.

UPDATE: Blog on short hiatus during transition

I hope you’re all doing well! This is a quick update on the status of my blog, which is currently going on a short hiatus.

I’m currently in the midst of a career transition (still within the writing and editing realm, no worries!), and therefore I’m taking a short break from blogging. Additionally, I plan on implementing a blog makeover, to include a new feel and direction; but I don’t want to begin anything until my new career path is more concrete.

To all the writers who follow me, fear not! I still plan to continue writing about writing, in some fashion. 🙂

Therefore, in the meantime, I hope you all have a WONDERFUL holiday season—whatever you might celebrate. Life can get stressful this time of year, so please remember to take time for YOU, and enjoy spending time with your loved ones.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Belated Happy Thanksgiving, have a great winter … and I’ll see you again soon!

I’m Thinking of a Blog Makeover: Help Me!

So … up until today (and probably a few weeks from now), the focus of this blog has been writing. And media strategies. And publishing trends.

And it’s worked.

I have nearly 800 followers, between email, Facebook and Twitter.


BUT …

I read a mind-altering post today from Kristen Lamb’s Blog, “3 Social Media Myths That Can Cripple Our Author Platform.” And then the mind-change happened. Here are the exact words from Kristen’s blog, the ones that reached out and bitch-slapped me:

“Regular people (code for ‘readers’) love being entertained daily in small, manageable, bite-sized pieces. They often read them on their smart phones while in line or on the train or when stuck at an appointment. In fact, this is precisely why blogs are one of the most powerful tools for creating a dedicated readership … The Bloggess (Jenny Lawson) gets THREE MILLION UNIQUE VISITS A MONTH on her blog. She tried to hold a live book event, and her followers crashed Goodreads. Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) is another favorite. MILLIONS of people follow these blogs. Any guess why? These bloggers (writers)…are you ready for this? These writers…don’t blog about writing.”

***BITCH SLAP***

But … but … my blog is about writing!

To see if Kristen was really, truly serious about the seriousness of her claims, I headed over to The Bloggess. EVERY post has more than 100 comments. She has more than 200,000 Twitter followers, and the same for Facebook. Oh yes, and her first book was a New York Times Bestseller!

Then I visited Pioneer Woman. Same friggin’ thing. Except she always had AT LEAST 200 comments per post.

Yea, I’d say Kristen Lamb is onto something.

I Need YOUR Help, Now

I’m writing my first novel. It’s fiction, and I want to begin building an audience that will read my book when it eventually publishes. I’m sure you understand.

You’ve all mostly been with me since the beginning of my blog, or at least for most of the past year.

I want to remain as a “Rogue Writer.” But I’m thinking of writing less about writing and media, and more about something everyday readers will enjoy.

I just can’t figure out what.

Here are some past posts I’ve written that were random, and successful:

  1. Burglars Beware! Why to NEVER Rob a Writer’s Home
  2. Colon Hydrotherapy in Your Backyard
  3. Be the Chicken Nugget in a Bag of Vegetables
  4. My Jewish Cat and the Art of Guilt
  5. Bananagrams: The New Age of American Consumerism

With that in mind, as a non-writer (just PRETEND) who likes reading blogs, what would you want to hear about … from me? And on the contrary, what do you want me to keep? In other words, what keeps you coming back?

Thank you for your help! A new (exciting) chapter awaits …

Sorry for Delay; New Post Coming Soon…

Hi all, just a quick note to my regular readers to apologize that I’ve been nearly a month without a new post. I have begun one, which I started nearly three weeks ago, but haven’t been able to finish due to some other demanding life circumstances these past few weeks. I plan to finish that post and have it up next week. Thanks for staying patient and staying with me!

Continue reading Sorry for Delay; New Post Coming Soon…

Blog Hiatus and Schedule Change

I have an announcement to make. Rogue Writer is going on hold—but just temporarily! I’m thinking about a month.

And when I return, I may push back to posting twice a month, versus every week.

I know many of you have come to enjoy the weekly posts, so I’m asking you to please stick with me. The focus and writing of this blog will remain the same, and I actually have some GREAT surprise guest-posters coming up!

But right now, too much has piled on my plate, and I need to cut back SOMEWHERE. Therefore, that somewhere is my blog. To give you an idea:

  • I work a full-time job as a writer and media strategist (40+ hours)
  • I have a few freelance clients that have hired my consulting and writing help recently
  • I’m working to lose weight, so exercise and diet CANNOT go away
  • I still need to work on my creative pieces, as I’m submitting a few stories to several publications right now

Thank you for your patience and understanding. I’ve really come to appreciate and love the community that’s developed from this blog.

And remember, I’m not going away forever. Just a month, and then a little less frequent posts. As time opens up again, I’ll probably return to publishing every Thursday.

You’ll also still find me somewhat active on Facebook and Twitter (though not as often as now). SO, if you haven’t connected there yet, now’s a great time. 🙂

All the best,

Shari

This Year, I’m Thankful For …

My job, in this shaky economy. My house, when others are losing theirs. My boyfriend, who loves me through thick and thin. My family, who lives close by and supports me in all I do. My freedom, to write and think as I please. My cats, who saved me more than I saved them. My washer and dryer (because I’ve lived without these before, and it sucked!). My friends, who always know how to lift my spirits. My boyfriend’s mother, who appreciates me for who I am. Chocolate, because sometimes you just need some. Coffee, to wake me up each morning. My health, because you never know how long you’ll have it. ZUMBA!–because it’s self-explanatory. My car, to take me where I need to go. Food, because not everyone can afford it. My bed, to keep me warm at night. A garage, because carrying groceries up three flights of stairs is exhausting! My life, because not everyone has theirs.

Today is Thanksgiving in America, and I decided to take a break from my usual posts.

I have many things to be thankful for. No, life isn’t perfect. But when I pause to think of all the blessings, I immediately feel much better–and the challenges suddenly seem easier to overcome.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

AND TELL ME: Regardless of the obstacles you’re facing, what are you thankful for this year? No matter how large or small?

9/11 is the Day I Learned to Hate

I learned to hate not a particular person, but an idea. A way of thinking. Sept. 11, 2001 is the day I learned to hate organized religions—all of them.

That’s because the night of Sept. 10 was the first time someone I loved revealed his anti-Semitic side to me. He showed me that although he can say words like, “I love you” and “I want to marry you someday,” he also had the ability to say, “All Jews are arrogant.”

I remember I slept in the morning of Sept. 11 because of that fight. I was 19 years old and missed my first class at the local community college. I’d just walked out of the shower, wrapped in towels, when my phone rang. It was my father.

“Are you OK?” he asked me, his voice cracking.

My stomach dropped. How could he know what happened last night? Nervous, I sucked it up and said, “Yea Dad, everything’s fine. Why?”

“Haven’t you seen the news?”

Borrowed from Google Images

Hair still dripping, I flipped on the T.V. and watched in solidarity with the rest of America, as smoke billowed into the heavens  from two magnificent towers. And I knew why my father wept.

My parents are both New Yorkers.

Later they said it was terrorism. They said it was Islamic extremists. But I knew … I knew. It was religion. Divisive. Hateful. Demonic.

Religion was the reason a boy no longer wanted to marry me. And religion was the reason 3,000 people died that fateful day.

 

Remember to love in honor of those who died

Yes, Sept. 11 is the day I learned to hate. You may ask, “Why share my story today, when so many other bloggers will be doing the same—on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11?”

Borrowed from Google Images

Truth is, I’ve never written about Sept. 11 until now. It’s crazy to think we have a whole generation of kids growing up who know nothing but a perpetual state of war in this country. They’ll never know what it was like to fly without paranoia, to live without the Patriot Act, to be at peace with most of the world.

So many died on Sept. 11, 2001. And so many more died serving their country in the wars that followed. So many heroes saved lives, and so many lives were ruined.

I’m writing today to say in these past 10 years—since I learned to hate—I’ve learned to love again. I’ve forgiven myself and found new (and better) happiness with someone else. I’ve learned the difference between religion and faith.

I wish and hope our country can do the same.

In honor of every victim of Sept. 11, I want you to remember that love heals. It pushes the world forward, and it inspires. Let’s never forget Sept. 11 by striving to be the country we were before that fateful day. Let’s have faith in each other again, and honor those we lost by opening our hearts.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: What images and/or emotions does this profound day—the 10-year anniversary of 9/11—evoke for you? Looking back, what has been your greatest lesson, whether in life, or in your writing?

A Miracle off 28th Ave. on Tuesday Afternoon

A miracle took place off 28th Ave. this Tuesday afternoon.

It started with a simple routine walk during my lunch break.

Through the same neighborhood and past the same ordinary houses occupied by the same aging couples. Wearing the same workout clothes, and pounding the pavement with the same 2-year-old tennis shoes.

I continued walking down my routine path this Tuesday afternoon, feeling the steady pace of my feet below, when I heard it. Like an angel singing to me from another dimension, it sliced through the deafening silence of the neighborhood.

Music. Pure, dramatic piano notes dancing in the gentle breeze. Climbing up my spine and into my ears, filling me with an electric energy I hadn’t felt in years.

I stopped in my tracks–searching to my left, to my right. From where did this heavenly melody arise? I knew this tune, one of the first I’d learned as a little girl: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music.

I suddenly realized this was no recording. It was live, and the individual playing was no amateur. Here I was, my work’s I.D. hanging from my neck, toes peeking through tips of old sneakers wearing away, standing in the middle of a retired neighborhood, and enjoying a live piano concert with the sun beating on my face.

My senses led me to the cozy, one-story house across the street from where I stood. With their windows open, oblivious to my undivided admiration, a shadowed face played for me.

Man or woman, boy or girl, I did not know. But their passion sang to my passion, their beauty filled my soul, and I drifted away as their music mounted higher into the crisp autumn air. I used to fall asleep this way, drifting to the sounds of hypnotic notes as my father played into the night.

That’s when I realized a miracle took place off 28th Ave. this Tuesday afternoon. I’d broken free. Away from Corporate America. Away from the cubicles, the computer screens and the repetition.

And I flew.

Thank You to My Awesome Subscribers! An Invitation . . .

This post is not intended to be mind-blowing, or to knock you off your feet in pure revelation.

No. This post is merely intended as a kind, sincere, warm-hearted thank you to all my subscribers. I’ve recently had several new individuals and connections subscribe to my blog—everyone from Bananagram fanatics, to Jews, to animal lovers and knowledge-thirsty students.  Oh yes, and of course my fellow writers. 🙂

I’m just getting this thing going and I truly appreciate the fact that you consider my musings relevant or amusing enough to subscribe. Therefore, I invite you to:

  • Share your blog URLs with me (go ahead! Comment and leave your link!), so that others can visit you, I may visit you, and any of us can subscribe to your site (when you subscribe to mine, I only get your e-mail address).
  • Let me know if you have any topics of interest you’d like me to write about.
  • Tell others about my page who you think might find my stories entertaining, or my writing/editing/communications tips helpful in their personal or professional endeavors.

Also, if you want to contact me privately about anything, I’m open to hearing from you. My personal e-mail address is posted under the “contact me” tab.

Again, thank you for being my base, for caring what I have to say, and for finding my posts useful or fun. Keep staying in touch and remember that I truly, truly appreciate you!

Best,

Shari