Writing Creatively

Writing Creatively
Creative Writing Tips

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Showcasing Briana Blair Creations

Meet “author, artist, writer, geek and freak, (author’s own description)” Briana Blair, a woman proud of the things that make her stand out from the crowd. A free-thinker, Briana is not afraid to speak her mind even in the face of negative feedback.

As a writer, Briana has penned over 400 poems for the series The Dark Side of My Mind. She wrote a horror/sci-fi novel at age 13 and has published 24 books. Briana’s BrianaDragon Creations is filled with a library of over 2300 articles. She writes in many genres, including non-fiction, self-help, humor, and modern fantasy but has a focus in self-help and spirituality. Her books are available in print and also in epub, Nook, Kindle, iTunes, and Google formats. 

In addition to being a writer, Briana is also an ordained minister and Doctor of Metaphysics. AND she is an artist who has produced thousands of pieces of digital and traditional art, along with jewelry and other crafts. Always a fan of living outside the box, she never creates what's trendy, only what she really loves and believes in. She currently produces art for Zazzle.

Briana lives by the motto, ”Get a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life.” Briana believes that everyone should balance work with an enjoyment for life and also encourages people to learn, grow, and strive to be the best person they can possibly be.

Here are some of her creations (found on Zazzle):

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Hélène Tragos Stelian's Next Act for Women

Whether we were stay-at-home moms or moms with jobs outside our homes, at some point we came to a realization that when our children left their comfortable nests – and us – we needed to reassess our purpose, and that’s exactly what Hélène Tragos Stelian did in January, 2015, when she started her blog, Next Act for Women.

I’ll let Hélène explain in her own words how and why the next act for Hélène became the Next Act for Women:

As my twin daughters were turning 17, and were naturally pushing away from me, I knew I needed to find another purpose in my life beyond being a mother. I'd stayed at home since they were born and done a lot of philanthropy, first in the suburbs of Chicago where we lived for 13 years, then in the city when we moved back for the girls' high school years. Still, I felt unmoored as they pushed away and my time freed up. 

I started thinking more and more about what this next chapter of my life could bring. My husband, Peter, was not planning to retire for a while (we're both 51) and our girls would be leaving for college (fingers crossed) in 18 months. What now? 

I began to read about women in midlife—I'm a big fan of Suzanne Braun Levine—and researching possible career paths. I got most serious about doing something in the health profession — I'd always wished I'd been a doctor — but didn't want to spend too much time back in the classroom and I was used to my flexible schedule. I finally decided to become an EMT but, the week before I was to sign up at Malcolm X College for their EMT-Basic program, I hurt my neck and suffered severe nerve pain that no medication or physical therapy could alleviate. Only an epidural, two months later, finally gave me relief. I realized I may not be cut out for the physical demands that come with the EMT profession. 

By the time my body was on the mend, I had had many conversations with other women in midlife, who, like me, were trying to figure out what to do next. While some had had the privilege of staying home with their kids, others had been working outside the home and were looking for renewed challenge and passion. I also encountered women who had found renewed purpose in midlife and came to believe there was a huge untapped opportunity — a need really — to share their stories, in the hopes of inspiring and educating the rest of us who were still "flailing about." 

My first instinct was to write a book about these women's stories of reinvention because I was most familiar with that medium: I'd just self-published the second edition of my planner, Getting Ready for Baby: The Practical Parent's Organizer. But I came to realize that I wanted to find an outlet that lent itself to conversation and that I could continually add to as I met more amazing women. A blog made the most sense.

Now keep in mind that when I started blogging, I didn't even have a Facebook account. I'm a pretty private person and had vowed never to get on any social media. Well that mindset had to change very fast. I'm now sharing and tweeting everywhere! (see links below)

In a sense, Next Act for Women has become my own reinvention! 

Hélène targets primarily women in midlife.

Whether out of curiosity or because they are looking to make a change in their lives, they come to read the stories of other women who took a leap at age 40 or later and went back to school, started a nonprofit, pursued a passion deeply, launched a business, or made a big change in their personal lives. 

On my blog, you'll meet Lori, who became a fitness trainer; Bonnie, who started an organization business; Katy, who became a life coach; Tina, who launched a private college counseling practice; Nan, who started cycling competitively; Susie, who opened a small farm; Sue, who founded an animal therapy program; Nancy, who started a family adventure travel website; Lisa, who moved to Italy and runs tours there; Sybil, who became a mosaic artist; Jill, who adopted two boys; Laurie, who made a documentary inspired by her daughter's diabetes; Haralee, who introduced menopausal women to her line of wicking nightwear; Sunada, who became a Buddhist minister; Cathy, who became an advocate for Multiple Sclerosis; Gretchen, who started speaking out for therapeutic drug policies; Opal, who made it her mission to fight human sex trafficking; Patti, who became a novelist. The list goes on and on… I have over 50 stories on the site right now and add two each week.

Hélène’s stories reveal so many women who decided to put aside all stereotypes of midlife and open their creativities, passions, and talents to make our world a better place, one act at a time. 

If you read Hélène’s Next Act for Women  you’ll agree with her when she says that the stories she shares are both inspiring and educational. 

The women I write about inspire through their courage, their perseverance, their kindness, their humor, their humility. They educate others by sharing their advice and their best resources. I differentiate my blog by providing in-depth background on these women's journeys, allowing for a real sense of connection, and providing practical tips and links to books, websites, and programs. With lots of photos too!

I have also started interviewing women who are experts in their fields and can share their knowledge with us. For example: Julie, a career coach; Ellen, an authority on menopause; Liz, the author of a book about careers for former lawyers; Sandy, a midlife dating coach; Kerry, an expert on second acts... And more!

Hélène offered to provide links for every woman she mentioned in this interview, but I’d rather have you read her blog to find them, because looking through her blog is like mining for diamonds. Every story is inspiring and every life reveals possibilities for exploring our own life’s passions. You can tell that she enjoys writing about these women and sharing their worlds with the rest of us. But Next Act for Women has had a personal positive effect on Hélène too.

Next Act for Women was the catalyst for my writing more personal essays as well. I am now a contributor to Huffington Post (see link below) and just love the opportunity to write about topics that interest me. My last essay on Huffington, entitled "7 Appeals to Moms From Women Without Children" went viral and I'm now working on another hot topic that I hope will gain similar traction. 

I like to say that in writing about other women, I found my own voice. 

For inspiration from women who explored their passions to reveal their talents, click on any of the Next Act for Women links in this blog. And look for Hélène on Huffington Post, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ditching the Masks with Christisue Campbell

Christisue Campbell started blogging when her now 12-year-old son was only 2, “before (blogging) was a cool thing to do,” Christisue says. Written originally as a means to keep family informed and to keep a journal, Christisue’s original blog name on her personal website became Ditching the Masks when she moved to Wordpress.

While she didn’t move all of her previous work to her new blog, Christisue says that Ditching the Masks allowed her to find her voice as a writer. About Ditching the Masks, Christisue says,

Parents are a large readership. I mostly blog about day to day life, but with a twist – it’s life with some challenges – about mental illness as a survivor, parent of it, or someone challenged with it; I blog from all sides of it. I have two kids who are challenged by their versions of mental illness as well as a spouse and extended family. I personally have an invisible chronic illness and intense pain issues. I blog about how to live not only with it, but thrive regardless of it. Through it all, my focus is always to share a positive or truthful look at the things I am talking about, also focusing on grace and seeing the blessings in life.

Christiesue wants parents, “to know they are not alone. That there is someone else out there who has a hard time with things too. That things are not always rosy behind the front door of life.”

In keeping with the title of her blog, Christiesue says, “I like to strip away the mask and just be real, no matter what it is I’m talking about. I don’t see it as a negative or wallowing kind of thing, but a truthful and honest thing. We like to show off our ‘great’ life on FB or Instagram, but we then go home and feel bad about how hard it is and how NOT like everyone else’s pictures it is. The reality is we ALL have some hard thing we are living with. It just looks different to each of us.”

Christiesue really does take off her masks in her blog, Ditching the Masks

Real life takes up most of my time but writing is the only way for the swirling words that dictate life to be tamed. So I write on. As a mother of three kids 12-16, each with different struggles, I refuse to allow a diagnosis to define them. With mental illnesses and learning disorders, life is a constant struggle behind the front door no one sees. In my blog Ditching the Masks, I unlock the door and invite you in for a visit. It's not always pretty, but I promise, it's all real. 

Having learned early on to have a hearty laugh instead of crying, I just try to roll with the punches. Juggling the normal mothering mania of laundry, dishes, dust, and dinner, I show off by shuttling the mom van to soccer practices, fetching forgotten homework, and not flipping out over last-minute science fair madness. Somehow, on top of all that, I still find a way to sit at this keyboard and try to make sense of what goes on inside my head and of the world.

If you are a parent who is struggling with mental illness or other difficult parenting issues, and you want to take off your own mask and “get real” about what’s going on in your life, or even if you just want to connect with somebody who understands your struggles, please click on any of the links in Christisue’s Ditching the Masks blog.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Lisa Romeo Writes

One problem many bloggers encounter when they first journey into Blog Land is coming up with a name for their blog that epitomizes what their blogs are about. Some of us, after agonizing over what to name our blogs, finally choose something that works for us and then discover that somebody else is already using the name we chose for our blogs.

So in the Spring of 2007, when Lisa Romeo chose the name for her blog, Lisa Romeo Writes, Lisa admits, “That's not exactly the most creative name, but when I first launched it I never thought anyone would be interested unless they knew me personally, so I figured this would be the easiest way for friends to find it. Now, like the members of a stupidly-named obscure rock band who have somehow succeeded, I can't bring myself to change the name. And since it doubles as my website, the title is doing its job.”

Lisa explains the reason she began writing her blog: 

I was halfway through a low-residency MFA program, and found myself with a lot to talk about, and needing a virtual place to have conversations with other writers. I was also trying to keep in touch with my MFA classmates in between on-site residencies, and was learning Twitter, Facebook, and other tech tools, so building the blog fit in nicely.

And to whom does Lisa Romeo Writes cater? 

Other writers, mainly. The content speaks directly to writers of all stripes, all genres, all forms, though there is a slight tilt toward creative nonfiction because that's my main area of expertise. But I also cover fiction, poetry, freelance journalism, and the teaching of writing. In addition to writers, blog readers are also editors, teachers, publishers, literary journal editors; also, readers who are curious about writing and are interested in how writers work and produce what appears on bookstore shelves or in journals.

Writers will benefit from reading Lisa Romeo Writes, because, as Lisa says,
I aim to deliver two levels of information and inspiration. First, a glimpse into my personal experiences as a working writer, editor, and writing teacher. I try to share the straight story on the typical struggles, frustrations, and challenges I face (and how I feel and what I do about them), as well as the successes (small and larger), lessons I've learned, writing tips and advice, and resources I've found helpful.

Second, I like to act as a conduit to bring readers access to a wealth of other voices, perspectives, and resources, by way of frequent guest posts and interviews. These feature a wide array of authors, editors, publishers, writers, conference organizers, and others working in the vast writing world. I choose these people first of all because I'm interested personally in some aspect of their writing journey, or their newest publication, or what they do or provide. Sometimes that may be tied to a new book, but not always. I like to keep the guest posts and interview categories loosely defined, so that I can feature whatever and whomever appeals to me. That seems to be a good formula, and typically readers respond well to my choices.

Twice a month or so, I do a "Friday Fridge Clean-Out – Links for Writers," a round-up of interesting writerly stuff I've come across. It's named after the way I feed my family at the end of the week—tossing together all the saved leftovers and trying to put together an interesting meal.

(Except for the occasional review copy of a book, I don't accept any free products or other inducements. If you read about something or someone on my blog, it's because I genuinely think it's a worthwhile product, interesting book, or that person has a compelling story about their writing experience.)
If what you’ve read so far doesn’t entice you, read what else Lisa has to say about Lisa Romeo Writes:

Part of the official tagline says, "Tips, advice, and resources on the art, craft, and business of writing and the writing life…" So, if you are a writer of any kind, and you visit the blog on a semi-regular basis, or subscribe to posts, chances are you'll frequently find something that will help, inform, inspire, or even entertain you as a writer. Sometimes, you will laugh, or nod your head in chagrined understanding; other times, you may have an "aha" moment, when something you've wondered about comes into focus. Often, you'll find a resource or insight that will help you with your writing craft.

Sometimes I start a continuing series. Two popular ones are "Stuff My Writing Students Say," (just like it sounds: I note a frequent writing student observation/complaint, and try to answer it); and "View From the Third Row," (notes on attending writing conferences and other literary events).

The blog was included, for the second straight year, in "100 Best Websites for Writers" (2015 & 2014) by The Write Life.

Also, I'm always open to suggestions for guest posts or interviews. And I love comments!

To read, Lisa Romeo Writes, click on any of the Lisa Romeo Writes links in this blog.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Ripped Jeans and Bifocals with Jill Robbins

One perk many bloggers achieve through writing their blogs is engagement, and Jill Robbins gets plenty of engagement for her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals

Perhaps because she caters to a specific group of people, “Adoptive parents, ‘older’ moms, parents of young children, people who like funny stuff,” or maybe because she writes about her travels to China, readers who are adoptive parents, especially of interracial children, find understanding and compassion in Jill Robbins.

Jill Robbins began writing Ripped Jeans and Bifocals in May, 2014. She explains, “I blogged about our two journeys to China with the goal of capturing the things that happened on our trips. When my blog posts started to read more like essays and less like travel journal entries, I knew it was time for a blog that reached a wider audience.”

Ripped Jeans and Bifocals informs readers about, “what it’s like to adopt and live in a multi-racial family.” It also, “lets other adoptive families know that they’re not alone in the issues they might be going through.”

Jill says about Ripped Jeans and Bifocals, “It’s a fun community. My readers are very engaged with me on social media. Come on over!”

If you’ve ever wanted to adopt a child from another country, if your family is multi-racial, or if you have already adopted an infant or child from anywhere in the world, you’ll find helpful information in Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. Just click on any of the links in this blog.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Jennifer Wolfe’s mamawolfe

A mom with two teens, a teacher to hundreds, Jennifer Wolfe started mamawolfe because she wanted to share not only life lessons she learned along the way, but also ideas about ways we could all work together to raise young people who would, in Jennifer’s words, “work to make the world a better place.”

Jennifer, who also writes for The Huffington Post, BonBon Break, and Mamapedia, relates her reasons for starting mamawolfe 22 years after graduation and 20 years after a full and rewarding teaching career: 

That was June, 2011, when I took responsibility for making my dreams come true – all of them. I gave up trying to come up with reasons why I couldn’t write and just started putting stories together, and I found that the more I wrote, the stronger I became. I found that my inner critic became my muse and unleashed words to the world that had always found safety locked inside journals. When I forgave my life for being what it was, I began to create my life for what it is.

And so began mamawolfe, a blog where readers, Jennifer says, “can find real stories about thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. It's a place where readers can connect, communicate, and collaborate to understand more about ourselves and each other.” 

Jennifer’s mamawolfe blog focuses on, “people who care about children and enjoy thinking deeply about issues that affect them – parents, educators, and young people who are committed to making connections and finding a place to share their thoughts.”

Through her mamawolfe blog, Jennifer inspires readers to use their voices to improve our world, so if you want to learn how to forgive your life for what it was and create a new life for yourself, and if you enjoy reading philosophical blogs, I invite you to click on any of the links in this blog.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Helene Cohen Bludman's "Books is Wonderful"

Books is Wonderful might be an unusual name for a blog, but as Helene Cohen Bludman states, “Books is Wonderful comes from something I wrote when I was four years old. I still have the original (drawing) that was laminated by my proud mother!”

Helene began writing Books is Wonderful in 2011, because she wanted to brush up on her writing skills as she prepared to write her first novel. She feels that women of midlife, people who love to read, writers, and bloggers would all enjoy reading Books is Wonderful.

Due to her love for books, Helene keeps readers updated on new book releases. “I write book reviews several times a month on books just being published, so if readers are looking for the buzz on new releases I provide my opinions.” Her recent reviews include, Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase, written by Louise Walters; The Girl Who Slept with God, written by Val Brelinski, and Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War, written by Susan Southard.

But Helene doesn’t just write book reviews. Helene also muses “about midlife issues, parenting adult children, modern culture, and technology.” AND she blogs about cooking and baking – recipes included!

As a four-year-old, Helene wrote, Books is Wonderful. As an adult, Helene Cohen Bludman still thinks books ARE wonderful. If you would like to read her blog, please click any of the links in this blog.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Text Me, Love Mom with Candace Allan

One of the most fun and exciting results of blogging is being able to turn your blog into a book, and that’s exactly what Candace Allan of Text Me, Love Mom did with her blog when she put together her book, Text Me, Love Mom; Two girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest, available from Amazon (click the link). The book, Candace says, is devoted to, “this generation of helicopter parents.”

Candace discovered blogging a few years ago when her eldest daughter left home for art college. CBC radio broadcast essays written by Candace and her daughter about her daughter’s “‘launch’ from the nest.” Candace says, ”As my other three children queued up to leave home, I began to blog about what I see now as 'the next stage of parenting’.”  After saying good-bye to her oldest baby, she gave birth to a blog, Text Me, Love Mom.

“Empty Nest Syndrome” is an all-too-familiar term for Candace, who tells me, “Parents young and old will appreciate my posts on trying not to hover too low, but still managing to stay connected - especially those parents preparing for, or living through, the counseling, maturing, and inescapable drama that goes on as kids leave home and families get their bearings again.” 

Candace Allan’s Text Me, Love Mom blog is about, “these family dramas and other observations of comical or poignant family culture that have become my latest muse.” As a loving mom, she can’t help but brag that her daughter, Shea, created the artwork you see on the book cover above. She also designed this poster:  

If you are trying to avoid wearing the title of, “helicopter parent,” or if you would like to read more about how this mom is coping with life changes you might be experiencing or will soon experience, please click any of the Text Me, Love Mom links in this blog.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Julie Gordon’s Inspiring Kitchen

As a business owner who helps new homeowners, interior designers, and wedding registry couples build their dream kitchens, Julie Gordon, with expertise in the housewares industry, decided in March, 2014, to write a blog – Inspiring Kitchen.

As Julie explains, “The blog started because anyone who knew me and liked to cook always asked me what was in my head about housewares, foods, and beverages.” They wanted to know what Julie knew about those topics, and they wanted her to share her knowledge with them.

“Anyone who likes to cook, considers themselves foodies, likes to learn about new foods, beverages, home decor, housewares, is interested in kitchen design, or is wanting to do a kitchen remodel, and likes to travel,” would enjoy reading Inspiring KitchenInspiring Kitchen is also for,people who wish they could...simply enjoy the foodie space, but for whatever reason can’t eat the variety they wish they could.”

Aware that her readers sometimes visit restaurants, Julie addresses booking issues as well – have you ever wanted to know how to get reservations at fully-booked restaurants? Julie offers a solution about which you might not have known! (You’ll have to read Inspiring Kitchen to find out.) 

Julie also stays up-to-date on the newest trends in kitchenwares by attending trade shows, so she can offer her readers the latest information on creating beautiful, artistic, and productive kitchens.

Anyone interested in updating their kitchens will love her, “blog series on how to do a kitchen remodel.” Julie is currently working with an interior designer out of New York. “The goal,” Julie continues, “is to share the steps homeowners would want to know if they want to remodel. It’s the questions we don’t even know to ask that will hopefully be brought up in the series. I also talk about the housewares space and fun new products I see at the trade shows I attend.” Julie wants to educate consumers on expensive cooking-related products and help them choose the best items to match their personal cooking styles.

To read Julie Gordon’s Inspiring Kitchen, just click on any of the links provided in this blog.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Beth Blacker…Call Me Crazy

Most people won’t admit to being crazy. Maybe most people aren’t crazy and the rest of us think everyone but us is crazy. Beth Blacker doesn’t care who knows she’s crazy, because she’d rather be branded as crazy than as a, “baked goods blogger.” 

If you think that introduction means you’re in for a little bit of fun, let me introduce you to Beth Blacker and how and why, in Beth Blacker’s words, Beth Blacker…Call Me Crazy began. 

Beth Blacker…Call Me Crazy was started in February, 2015, but I had a previous (blog) through a baked goods company I owned that was pretty similar in terms of the voice I gave it, but it tended to be a little more focused on business.

After making the decision to let go of my baked goods company at the end of 2014, I was planning to start a consulting firm that would help small business owners/entrepreneurs with networking and relationship building. It is something I really thrive on and do it well. I thought about how I wanted to be branded and since I've always felt like I really put myself "out there" and tend to "say it like it is" (thank my grandmother for that), why not just have fun with it and the whole "call me crazy" thing just sort morphed from there.

Beth feels that women aged 35 and older, especially those experiencing midlife and beyond, would be interested in reading her blog. “So much of what I write about is just about my day to day encounters with people, places, and things. And since I'm now into my 50's that makes me more relatable with others in my age bracket.”

Like most bloggers, Beth’s goals in writing Beth Blacker…Call Me Crazy is to share her world with other like-minded individuals. “I would hope I bring a little insight into some of the crazy stuff really going on in the world with a splash of humor, but every once in awhile I do have to get up on a soap box and try to shake a little sense into what I see going on around me.”

If the world around you seems to be a little crazy and if you want to make sense of what you’re experiencing, Beth Blacker…Call Me Crazy just might provide you with some answers. Beth invites you to, “Try it...you'll like it...and I really promise it won't hurt ;)”

Want to try it? Click on any of the Beth Blacker…Call Me Crazy links in this blog.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Once Upon Your Prime with Stephanie Lewis

Like most bloggers, Stephanie Lewis shares snippets of her life story, and like any good story, hers begins with Once Upon a Time – oops! Sorry, that’s, Once Upon Your Prime and her tagline is, Where you can try to live happily ever laughter.

Begun in January of 2014, Stephanie was originally hired to write blog posts for a pharmaceutical company that specialized in women's hormones, and they wanted funny menopausal-related blog posts. “But,” Stephanie says, “nobody ever left me comments there and I yearned for more feedback and reader interaction, so I branched off into my own blog.”

While Stephanie had a specific audience in mind when she first wrote Once Upon Your Prime, she realized that her focus might have been too narrow. “It started off drawing women ages 45 and up because I still confined myself to writing about hot flashes, mood swings, exhaustion, and memory lapses (while still keeping a comedic slant), but eventually I realized I had hemmed myself into far too tight of a corner (there's only so much fun you can have with night sweats!) and I launched into other topics. Now I have followers as young as 16 and lots of males have joined in too!”

Known as Little Miss Menopause, “because I branded myself early on, but when I publish elsewhere, I go by my full real name, Stephanie D. Lewis,” Stephanie soon realized that Once Upon Your Prime was getting lots of comments and that what she wrote was easily relatable. She admits that she approaches her blog, “with a unique twist so that people (while also getting a few good laughs) can gain some new perspective on a subject matter.” Stephanie also says that, “when (her followers) feel  particularly down, they'll seek out my blog and after reading a good parody, they're not quite as blue. Writing is my own version of therapy so I'm glad if reading my stuff might lift someone else up!”

Need more incentive to visit Once Upon Your Prime? Here’s more from Stephanie Lewis:

If you always wanted to know what God's LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter account looks like, come visit me! Ever wondered how to make sure your children get their fair share of therapy or what goes through a Hacker's or an Internet Troll's mind, I'm your gal! I even made a pros and cons list to help Capt. Von Trapp choose between marrying Maria or the Baroness! In short, if it's quirky, zany, eccentric, or just normally "untouchable,” I'm over at Once Upon Your Prime writing about it.  

To read Once Upon Your Prime, just click any of the links in this blog. Stephanie can also be found on Huffington Post! (To find her there, just click that link.) 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Kim Kelly’s Pink Siren

Writers begin writing their blogs for a variety of reasons, and I’m always intrigued to find out what prompts them to start blogging.

For Kim Kelly, author of Pink Siren, “Life had brought on many changes in my life and I knew I had a story to tell and adventures to share. I finally knew me and accepted that life and love had to be shared. Experiences need to happen and sharing them was an avenue that I wanted to explore.”

Kim had just begun a new career as an Interim Innkeeper, what she refers to as an “Innsitter – somebody who runs your inn instead of you,” a job that included solo traveling after the age of 50 to “beautiful places,” and Kim wanted to share her experiences with her readers.

Kim also shares books she reads, teas she drinks, photos she takes, and wisdom she learns. Kim’s mantra and her Pink Siren blog, were inspired by a Mark Twain quote, and she tries to live, write, and create her experiences based on Mark Twain’s wisdom: 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

If you’re a wanderlust, a traveler over the age of 50, and if you love to “discover, dream, and explore life at any age,” you’ll enjoy reading Pink Siren. Just click on any of the links in this blog.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Friend for the Ride: Encouraging Words for the Menopause and Midlife Roller Coaster with Barbara Younger

Barbara Younger is a published author who discovered that she enjoys blogging. As she explains, “blogging has allowed me to present my unedited voice to the world. I've had a great time taking photos for the blog too. I love blogging, and I've been touched by the readers who have become advocates and friends.”

During some of the most traumatic events in her life, Barbara’s readers haven’t hesitated to offer support. “I was overwhelmed by the reader response when I announced my cancer last year and when my mom died this March.”

What prompted Barbara to begin blogging Friend for the Ride: Encouraging Words for the Menopause and Midlife Roller Coaster in the Fall of 2011, was her personal experience with menopause. “When I was going through menopause, I peppered my friends with questions. Most of them were either finished, and had little to say, or weren't there yet. I wanted someone to talk with, a friend for the menopause roller coaster. I came up with the idea of a blog that would help others through the menopause years.”

Who would likely read Friend for the Ride? Barbara responds, “Women going through peri-menopause and menopause write to say how helpful Friend for the Ride is to them. I have plenty of readers who are finished with the Change of Life who enjoy my posts too.”

But women aren’t the only people who enjoy her blog – “I even have a few male readers! One gay friend wrote that the blog helps him understand what his women friends are experiencing.”

Anyone interested in learning about menopause will enjoy reading Friend for the Ride: Encouraging Words for the Menopause and Midlife Roller Coaster, because, according to Barbara,Besides the information on the blog, readers appreciate my somewhat quirky, creative approach to life, especially the emotional side. They tell me that I inspire them to think deeper about a topic and/or to see it in a new light. My blog is fun, and my overall purpose is to be encouraging and upbeat.”

Sharing not only her personal journey with menopause, but also a matter about which she never before thought she’d be writing, Barbara found herself exploring the dark side – cancer – specifically endometrial cancer. “Last year, I had surgery for endometrial cancer, and I now write about this illness. Early detection is so important since endometrial cancer is highly curable. I address lots of other topics from downsizing to the loss of my mother to some pretty silly stuff, such as my Ladies Room Door Art Series.”

In addition to blogging about menopause and endometrial cancer on Friend for the Ride, Barbara features several guest posts every month. “The guest bloggers report that they appreciate and enjoy the experience, and they are so pleased when their posts go live.” 

If you want to write a guest post, Barbara invites you to email her at BKYounger@gmail.com. And while she loves her faithful followers, Barbara invites new readers to, “Please join us!”

Interested in joining Barbara on Friend for the Ride? Click on any of the links in this blog.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Valerie Albarda’s Midlife-A-Go-Go

In this blog promotion series on YBC, I’ve met some amazing women recently, all mid-lifers, who entertain, amuse, and enlighten me. Valerie Albarda is another blogger I’m proud to showcase. And I have to insert here that I love her logo!

Midlife-A-Go-Go, in Valerie’s words, “kicked off in early April 2015. I came up with the concept about two weeks before the site launched so it was a bit of a quick process from thinking about creating it to actually manifesting it. Something was nagging at me to create a site since midlife musings was the direction in which my writing was traveling.”

As Valerie explains in her About page, “Inside Midlife-A-Go-Go, you’ll find nuggets of truths about midlife, profiles on women who are defying Mother Nature’s wicked clock and doing wonderful things in midlife, and other bits and pieces that make this time in our lives one of the most vibrant ever.”

Realizing that midlife was more an adventure to be explored rather than a fate to be feared, Valerie not only accepted her new status, but also decided to embrace it. Valerie created Midlife-A-Go-Go because she “wanted to create a site that had an element of fun, and highlight some of the many women of midlife (which she does in her series, This is What Midlife Looks Like).” She wanted to know if other women were experiencing, “the same stirrings as I was. You know, wanting to travel more, take on new and exciting projects.”

When asked who most likely would read Midlife-A-Go-Go, Valerie responded, “Women of midlife are the likely suspects, although in the coming months there will be content geared towards midlife men as well. I’m hoping my testosterone readership goes up (no pun intended) – men are mid-lifers, too!”

Valerie hopes that, “over time readers will come back to Midlife-A-Go-Go time and time again to read about fascinating mid-lifers, enjoy some of the tongue-in-cheek articles, find motivation to stay fit in aging and, most of all, see a little bit of themselves in the words.”

We tend to gravitate toward those blog posts that affect us personally in some way. Valerie hopes her blog inspires mid-lifers to join her in her journey through midlife. “It’s my stubborn contention that people find it fascinating to read about others who are in similar circumstances as they are – they want to see how that other person is living their life, what choices they’re making, etc. For me, that’s what makes This is What Midlife Looks Like so wonderful. I get to bring someone’s story to life and take a voyeuristic peek into who they are.”

“Of course,” Valerie continues, “there’s more to Midlife-A-Go-Go than that feature. All things come in time, and over time I hope to grow the site so that readers will frequent it and actually look forward to new content.”

To join in the fun, click on any of the Midlife-A-Go-Go links.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Haralee Sleepwear, Cool Garments for Hot Women – and Menopausal Entrepreneurial Freedom

Haralee Weintraub started her company, Haralee Sleepwear, Cool Garments for Hot Women, in the fall of 2004, as a way to help menopausal women feel relief from night sweats. 

As Haralee explains, “I had breast cancer at age 48 and it threw me into menopause with terrible drenching night sweats. I was familiar with wicking clothes but I could not find anything comfortable for sleeping. I made a sample night shirt out of old biking shorts and it worked. It helped with the night sweats not waking me up cold and wet.”

Haralee’s initial success led to even more promising ventures. “I found more sleep friendly fabric and made another nightshirt.” She sewed the nightshirt on her old sewing machine (which she bought from babysitting money she earned when she was 14). “I showed this nightshirt to my breast cancer support group and they went wild with enthusiasm. I then knew I was onto an idea, a market niche of a product line that could help other women get a better night’s sleep. We have been successful ever since, making beautiful moisture wicking sleepwear and helping women stay cool, look good, and get a better night's sleep.”

Haralee started her Menopausal Entrepreneurial Freedom blog in 2009-2010, because, she says, “cancer made me menopausal,” and menopause became the catalyst for her to become an entrepreneur. Her new company, Haralee continues, “afforded me freedom as my own boss in the second part of my life.” Knowing that many women were seeking life changes after the age of 50, Haralee wanted to inspire readers by letting them know that changes could be made.

Haralee started her blog because she thought her customers would like to learn about her company, read musings from a woman who belonged to the same demographics as her customers – women between the ages of 35-80 – and be informed about the latest breast cancer research.

Women who visit Haralee Sleepwear, Cool Garments for Hot Women find what Haralee calls, “a solution product.” And in 450 word or less, Haralee also offers humorous, sometimes emotional, and always relatable posts to readers of her blog, Menopausal Entrepreneurial Freedom

Life experiences often force us to move in directions we never thought we’d take, and life changed a positive into a negative for Haralee. “Never in a million years did I think a breast cancer diagnosis would lead to becoming an entrepreneur. Menopause is a part of life; it is not the end of life, and if I can take my menopausal experience and make fun of it and (build) a business, anybody can.”

If you’re going through menopause and experiencing hot flashes, take a look at Haralee Sleepwear, Cool Garments for Hot Women. And to read Haralee’s blog, please click Menopausal Entrepreneurial Freedom.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Heart-Mind-Soul with Carol Cassara

Before she changed the name of her blog from Middle-aged-diva, back in 2008, to Heart-Mind-Soul, Carol Cassara, who lives in the San Fransisco Bay area, began her blog as a means of self-expression. As Carol explains, “A writer all my life, I love having a venue to communicate my thoughts, feelings, and opinions unfiltered by outside editors.”

On her “About Me” page Carol further explains her reasons for writing – “As a lifelong writer, I’m driven to let readers into the Aladdin’s Cave that is my life. My world overflows with bright colors, laughter, and variety, and so does my brain. All that stuff has to go somewhere—and this is where.”

Carol’s Heart-Mind-Soul cave reveals mysteries that will intrigue many readers, including her story (which will eventually be a memoir) about how she and her first husband remarried 27 years after their divorce – “27 years during which we both had full other lives and never even saw each other.” Carol’s life now? “The life he and I have now is beyond my wildest imaginings.”

Heart-Mind-Soul, Carol explains, provides daily inspiration for creating our best lives.” Her posts cover a broad range of topics and include every thing from spirituality and style to dogs, travel, and books.

Carol’s “core readers are women mid-life and above, but,” Carol says, “I’ve got a loyal contingent of men who regularly read and some even comment. Readers tell me all the time that they love that my blog posts make them think and that I welcome their opinions, even if different from my own.”

Heart-Mind-Soul offers something different day to day, so Carol hopes readers will visit her blog to discover her topic du jour and participate in what she describes as, “often an interesting discussion in the Comments section.” Successful blogging often includes participation from readers. Carol’s readers, “are not shy and they don't hesitate to jump in with their thoughts. That's what I like best about them and about blogging. Few people just say ‘awesome post’ – they say why they think it's awesome OR why they disagree!”

Intrigued? Please click any of the links in this blog to read Carol Cassara’s Heart-Mind-Soul blog.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Suzi Hunn's Blue Car Painted Green

As the author of YBC, I’m always fascinated by what prompts bloggers to begin blogging. Suzi Hunn, author of Blue Car Painted Green: Crafting an Upcycled Life, (her About page tells where she got the name), explains her blog’s beginnings this way: 

On December 31, 2014, a girlfriend mentioned she'd signed up for a Blogging 101 class. We live in different cities, but we talk once a month to encourage each other to achieve our dreams. (In our younger days, she was always the dreamer, and I tended to be the practical one. "Let yourself dream," she said to me once, years ago, and I still think of her when I get stuck in over-analysis. Over time, though, she and I have both learned how to get better at the other role.)

I thought Blogging 101 sounded fun, and I'd had passing thoughts of trying blogging for awhile. I immediately signed up. The fact that the class started the very next day allowed me to avoid the usual hemming and hawing. 

Now, half a year into it, the blog has become my single-best avenue for personal growth. A surprise bonus was the supportive blogging community I suddenly found myself a part of. The people I've met never cease to inspire me with their spirit of exploration.

So, on January 1, 2015, Suzi Hunn wrote her first blog and placed it on Blue Car Painted Green. Of her readers Suzi says, “People who appreciate stories of personal growth, handmade objects, or trips to thrift stories tend to be kindred spirits.” Suzi admits that, “Women are by far the strongest supporters of my blog.”

When I asked Suzi why people might want to read her blog, she said, “All of us experience growth and change. I'm endlessly fascinated by upcycling, the process of taking something that's gotten a little worn around the edges, then doing what I can to make it better. I'd love for readers to join me on these explorations.”

Suzi adds the following incentives for readers curious about her blog:

If readers are in a hurry, but need a quick dose of encouragement, they might enjoy my handmade inspirational-quote series, Be Good To You Today. (Side note: This is a phrase my mom has told me many times over the years, when facing something hard. Often, she'll ask instead, "What's one thing you can do to be good to you today?") 

Someone who's facing divorce or another life change may find inspiration in my post, My Very Own (Life-Sized) Upcycling Project

Lovers of 80's TV–or someone wanting to comfort a friend–might like How I Found Hope Through Golden Girls Fashion

Someone who loves thrift stores or working with her hands might appreciate the story of a bag I designed: From Savers Suit to Bottomless Bag

Please click any of the links in this blog. They’ll take you directly to Blue Car Painted Green: Crafting an Upcycled Life.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Parent Tango, the Dance of a Husband and Wife Blogging Team

Approximately six or seven years ago, the blog, Parent Tango, arose. One of the authors, who wishes to remain anonymous, because she and her husband reveal some, “pretty gritty and personal stuff,” states, “My husband and I are parents of four kids who are now in their late teens and early 20’s. I was asked by a magazine I was freelancing for, to consider writing a parenting blog that would be featured on their site. Because my husband and I had a lot of years of marriage and parenting under our belts, and because we disagree A LOT, about everything, we thought a he said/she said format would be interesting and different. Sometimes the posts are just from me because well, I’m a woman and I like to talk more and my husband is, well, a man, and it’s hard to get him to communicate sometimes.”

Parent Tango readers are, “Anyone who is thinking about marriage and parenting, is in the midst of it or on the other side of it.” Parent Tango authors think readers can relate to – “or be informed about if they haven’t taken the plunge yet” the material they present in their blog. And they add, “just because our kids are older now, doesn’t mean we can’t relate to what it is to be a new couple or new parents. We remember it very clearly, have the perspective of having gotten past that but we’re still very much in the throes of it all – the work of marriage and parenting doesn’t end – it just changes.”

As far as what you, the readers, have to gain by reading this blog, the authors state, “We hope readers will feel like they are not alone in some of their struggles and in some of the feelings they have that they feel like they dare not say. We tell it like it is and don’t portray only the sunny, happy, we-have-it-all-together moments of marriage and parenting – because we sure as heck don’t. And neither do most other people. Our tagline is ‘you can totally relate’ and we feel that’s true.”

Because of the unique structuring of this blog, with husband and wife sharing male and female perspectives, readers will get a glimpse into both sides of a committed relationship between two parents. This Parent Tango husband and wife team, “will let people know they aren’t alone, that marriage and parenting are really hard sometimes, that they’ll maybe get a laugh, gain some insight into their own partner and kids and just know that when they may be feeling down or frustrated or alone, they really aren’t. We get it. We’re living it.”

Please visit Parent Tango by clicking any of the links in this blog.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Moxie-Dude's Mona Andrei

Mona Andrei loves to write and is, in her own written words, “passionate about engaging with readers…these are probably my favourite things in the entire world. Even more than wine :-).” 

Mona began her blog, Moxie-Dude, in February, 2010, for a couple of reasons: “I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice the craft of writing while enabling me to write about whatever I want. I was right!”

Moxie-Dude is geared toward women over the age of 35, but I think men would enjoy her blog, too. Just look at some of her titles:

Women analyze. Men are random. It’s a curse.

I am the anti-chef. And I blame Siri.

I dedicate this blog post to procrastination. Because procrastination lies.

Her titles, along with her writing style, are engaging!

Though Mona admits that in Moxie-Dude, she writes, “about nothing and everything,” her intent, “is to entertain and connect through words … stories … life experiences.”

Mona goes on to say, “I strive to always tell my stories with authenticity. I appreciate writing that is genuine and comes from a unique perspective and so am cognizant of providing the same to my readers. I realized that I had achieved this when I met a local TV personality here in Montreal and he said to me, ‘I checked out your blog and you’re just like your writing.’ (My soul smiled that day :-)”

If you would like to read about Kitchen Fails, Teenagers, Aging, Mom Adventures and more, please click any of the Moxie-Dude links in this blog.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Midlife at the Oasis with Lois Alter Mark

Lois Alter Mark, author of Midlife at the Oasis, has been a freelance writer for more than 20 years, contributing to many women’s magazines throughout those 20 years and to Entertainment Weekly for more than a decade. Because she has a master’s degree in public relations and has worked for companies like Liz Claiborne, MGM/UA, and WBZ-TV Boston, Lois decided to blend her public relations expertise with her writing skills. 

“When blogging started to become popular,” Lois explains, “it seemed like a perfect blend of the two. I started a blog with two friends but then decided to go out on my own and focus on midlife women because 1) I am one! and 2) it was an under-served demographic which wasn’t receiving the attention it so deserved. I recognized that this was a very powerful audience – and one that I absolutely loved. I’ve met some of my closest friends – who started out as fellow bloggers and readers – since I started blogging. I never thought any of this would be happening at this stage of my life and I’m so grateful.”

Serendipitously, Lois started writing Midlife at the Oasis in “July, 2013, right in time for BlogHer!” (BlogHer is a blogging community committed to providing quality content written by some of the best talent on the web. BlogHer also holds conventions for bloggers.)

Because Midlife at the Oasis is obviously geared to mid-lifers, people most likely to read Midlife at the Oasis are, according to Lois, women over the age of 40 who grew up with the song, Midnight at the Oasis – women, “who want to embrace this stage of life and create a vibrant second chapter.” Lois Alter Mark’s tagline is,“Living an amazing life never gets old.” Lois goes on to say, “my readers are all about living their own amazing lives. I show them how I’m doing it and I love when they email me and leave comments about how they’re doing it. It’s a very interactive and supportive relationship.”

When asked why readers might be attracted to her blog, Lois responds, “Besides learning about great new products, places and experiences, I hope they’ll take away the realization that midlife can be a truly fun and liberating time of life. I hope my enthusiasm will be infectious and they’ll go out and try something they might not have before reading my blog.”

Privacy is very important to me when I interview subjects for Your Blog Connection, so I always ask people if they would mind if I shared their names. The response I got from Lois: “Not at all! Trust me, I’ve revealed way more personal things on my blog than my name. Just ask my readers about the incident with my husband’s sweater … I am an open book!”*

So what would inspire potential readers to visit Midlife at the Oasis? “Well, I could try to suck them in by telling them about the incredible giveaways I get to offer (Fitbit coming soon!),” Lois said, “but, to me, that’s the least important part. I hope they’ll visit because they want to become part of a community of women who have reached an age where we feel confident, we empower each other, we laugh at ourselves – but never at others – and we share our deepest concerns, dreams, hopes. Plus, I was named Humor Writer of the Month by Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop – although, sigh, I think I’m often funny unintentionally.”

To join Lois in Midlife at the Oasis, please click any of the links in this blog.

*Curious about the sweater incident? Here is the link to confessing a 35 year old lie