Happy Birthday, WANA1011

I am grateful for the calendar. What? Did I just say that? Yes, I did. Without the calendar, I would not be able to mark this week, this birthday. Happy birthday, WANA1011.Happy Birthday WANA 1011 scroll

Did you know that birthdays weren’t celebrated until after the calendar was perfected? Once there was a calendar, then the days had to be named. Historians credit the ancient Egyptians with creating a calendar whose days were named after their gods and goddesses. Each day then had significance – it portended good or bad things.

The WANA1011 Meet

October 3, 2011, must have been a day that portended lots of good things. That was the day I downloaded Lesson One of “Blogging for Author Brand” taught by Kristen Lamb. I wasn’t the only one. There were one hundred of us in that class. All of us had a reason to blog, all of us had heard of Kristen, the queen of social media, author of the best selling book, _We Are Not Alone_. Many of us were writers, some had published, others hadn’t. Geographically we were all over the map, literally.

Following Kristen’s guidance we learned to blog, we learned to use social media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more. I don’t think even Kristen knew what an amazing group of people had gathered for this class. I don’t remember for certain, but I think Kristen started calling us her WANA1011 class. WANA1011 became our hashtag on Twitter and our flag to rally beneath.

The Best Part

Now, I learned a lot of valuable things in Kristen’s class. A year has passed since I started this blog: 365 days, 67 posts, and more than 51,000 words in those posts. All of those are worthy causes for celebration, but there’s something even more important to celebrate. The support, the encouragement, the friendship I have gained from the WANA1011 class, a group of amazing people, far outweigh any price that class could have cost. Happy Birthday, WANA1011!


Reviewing 2011: Measuring Success

As I read year-end reviews in the various online magazines and news sites that I follow, I realized that I have never done a year-end review of my own goals for the previous year. How can that be? I am an over-analyzer of epic proportions. I analyze things for my day job, for every major purchase, for gift purchases, for — well, everything. So how is it that I never look back at what I’ve accomplished for the year? I think I have been afraid to look back. Afraid that I’d be disappointed. Afraid that instead of measuring success I’d see failure.


Due to a number of personal crises in the past ten years, my writing had taken a back seat to dealing with other things. 2011 continued with numerous challenges. There were serious health issues in my immediate and extended family, overwhelming issues at my day job that sucked the energy right out of me, and emotionally wrenching events–the news that one of my dogs has a life-limiting health condition, and the hardest news of all, one of my family members is getting divorced. There were positive things I tried to do, but somehow things didn’t work out. It has been difficult to see the trees for the forest (Yeah, I know that’s backward – that has been my life).

And, for an optimist at heart, I tend to be rather harsh on myself. For example, as I was contemplating writing this post, I thought ‘how can I write a year-end review when I didn’t accomplish very much?’ Translate that to I didn’t finish my novel-in-progress nor did I finish my revision-in-progress. Thus I failed as a writer.

So all-in-all 2011 seems to have been a total bust.

Mrs. Darkside of the Force

Wait a minute. I think Mrs. Darkside has gotten her grips into me.

For those of you who have not been formally introduced, Mrs. Darkside is my alter ego. Her full name, Mrs. Darkside of the Force, says it all. She is the doubter, destroyer, and naysayer who used to haunt me a lot. Mrs. Darkside is a master at negative self-talk. Negative self-talk (I didn’t get anything done, I’m not very good, etc.) starts a self-fulfilling downward spiral of energy and self-esteem.

So how do you beat Mrs. Darkside? Learn to identify your cycles of negative self-talk is the first step. Naming Mrs. Darkside takes away her power and it refocuses you on the good, the hope, and the yes-I-can attitude. But even more important is learning to master positive self-talk. Honor yourself for your spirit, for the struggle to survive, for the desire to make good choices. Celebrate the good choices you did make. Take in the positives. Even when life events overwhelm you, celebrate the small steps such as “I got out of bed today,” “I got dressed,” or “I ate a healthy meal.” Count your successes, no matter how small. You’ll be amazed at how positive self-talk empowers you.

So, now that Mrs. Darkside is put firmly in her place, what have I accomplished in the past year?

What I Accomplished

My writing was given a higher priority in my life. (Previously, writing came after family crises, working the paying job, all household chores, etc., resulting in very low word counts for too many years.)

I took a total wreck of a novel I wrote more than 20 years ago and have crafted more than 32,000 words in revision, transforming the wreck into a thing of pride. For that, I have to thank Holly Lisle and her amazing How to Rewrite Your Novel course. Not all of her methods work for me, but studying her course gave me a bunch of new tools that do work.

HTML and CSS code and I became acquaintances and I crafted a website for myself.

With help from Kristen Lamb’s Blogging 101 course, I learned how to use Twitter and a blog to create my own writer’s platform. I also met a bunch of amazing friends as a result of that course and whose support and encouragement is something I count as a big positive for the year.

I wrote and published nearly 20,000 words in blog posts and online articles.

In addition, I wrote 11,000 plus words in my writer’s journal.

I created a new website and shopping cart for a new phase of my husband’s online business.

In the family activities category, I babysat grandkids, celebrated birthdays, celebrated another wedding anniversary with the man I love, had an overall successful year at work, and managed to keep my tiny rose garden alive for another year.

So, you might ask me, did you make any money writing in 2011? Not one red cent. Yet, my writing skills have improved significantly. My increased commitment to my writing is measurable in a markedly increased word count for the past year. I made a public statement that I am a writer with a website and a blog. My faith in my writing ability is stronger than ever and has been reinforced by the many wonderful comments I’ve received on my blog and through my website.

Looking Back & Forward

Looking back, I’d say that while 2011 held many challenges, it has been a success for me on a personal level and happily, a very successful year for me, the writer. I am looking forward to developing friendships, to writing more, and to the successes in store for me in 2012.

How about you? Does your version of Mrs. Darkside grab you when you look back at your progress? Are you measuring your success for 2011?

ETA: I don’t make progress posts every year, but you might want to see how my measuring success progressed over the years. Read “Lessons from 2017.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Martian

For the past year or two, I have read a lot about how important it is to build an author’s platform.  It seemed that everyone was doing it.  Once again, I was out of step. But what was a platform? What was a blog? I felt like a Martian and needed an interpreter.

So I decided to sign up for an online class by social media expert, Kristen Lamb called, “Blogging for Author Brand.”  Kristen told my classmates and I that “We Are Not Alone.”  She instructed us, encouraged us, and guided us in helping each other.

Despite all that help, trying to figure out how to set up this blog, what to blog about, what Twitter was, how to use Twitter and what TweetDeck and HootSuite were, I quickly became overwhelmed.  In fact, I felt like these two.

With the advice and moral support of my classmates, I finally got my website and my blog online.

I wrote my first blog post. “Whew! This isn’t so bad,”  I thought. But I still felt like no one would get me, the Martian. So I didn’t follow Kristen’s advice. I didn’t tell any of my friends or classmates about what I had done.

My first blog was about as successful as this poor Martian’s singing debut:


Slowly, I’ve learned not to hide, to share what I’ve done, what I’ve found, what I think and feel. My classmates rallied round and gave me information, examples, and moral support. Kristen gave me the inspiration that led to my blog line: she said to be myself.

And you know what? I’m finding out that there are other Martians people out there who share my interest in things like:

Science fiction tropes that are not fiction anymore:
Facial Recognition coming to your phone!


The tractor beam that pulled Han Solo’s Millenium Falcon into the Death Star soon a reality! NASA scientist invents a tractor beam. Okay, it’s really tiny now. We won’t be towing the Millenium Falcon soon. But someday!

Blogging isn’t easy for me. Sometimes I still feel like a two-headed Martian. But I sure feel better knowing I can be me! Thanks, Kristen and WANA1011!

Sometimes I feel like a Martian. lynettemburrows.com, Milkyway and Galaxy the two-headed martian
from http://www.funmartians.com

How about you? Do you feel like a Martian sometimes? Does it make you want to hide? Or did you find like-minded Martians people to hang out with?