Category Archives: Books

Are You Kidding Me?

“Are you kidding me???” was my first thought when I found out I made it to the top of the waiting list for the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop this year.  And once I was there, it was a fun weekend of kidding around with some of the funniest kidders around.  A conference tradition is a stand up comedy show on the last night.  Stacey Gustafson was the first person I met who was one of the few attendees brave enough to sign up to be in the show. I remember thinking that I’d never be able to stand up in front of hundreds of people, read something I wrote and wait (and pray) for laughter – especially with an audience full of humorists!

Just showing up for the conference was about all the courage I could muster.  Since last fall, Lyme brain had not only taken away cognitive function, it had also taken away my self esteem.  Truth be told, I almost cancelled the trip.  I was terrified to go and look like a forgetful, mumbling, bumbling idiot – at the queen of humor’s name-sake workshop no less.  But alas, I couldn’t finagle a refund so off to Dayton I went.

There were many ups and downs during the trip (see some photos at the end of the post), but I will tell you the biggest highlight here (I will save the funny lowlights for another post.).  The conference sessions were led by some really heavy hitters in the writing world.  At first, I found myself slinking further and further down into my seat during the sessions, thinking I belonged at the conference less than I – as a lefty – belonged in that right-handed college lecture hall desk, writing in a right-handed spiral notebook.  My smudged notes and my inky covered pinky were very symbolic of how I felt in a room full of confident accomplished and talented writers.

But then a strange thing happened.  The more writers I met, the more I realized that even those who had written multiple books or had a syndicated column or had gazillions of monthly online views all had something in common:  they had doubts about their ability at some time or another.  And then another strange thing happened.  As the hours went on, I started to feel like I did belong at the workshop honoring the late great Erma.  EBWW14 Dan Zevin

By the end of the second day, I found myself sitting in the front row of a session led by Dan Zevin, the 2013 winner of the Thurber Prize for American humor and the 2014 National Society of Newspaper Columnists “Humor, over 50,000 Circulation” winner.  (Incidentally, my blogging friend Darcy of So Then Stories won the “Blog and Multimedia Columns” category!! She’s one funny lady – you should check her out.)  Dan’s session was a hands on workshop (or pens on?) where he gave us writing prompts, a short time to respond, and the opportunity to read our writing result to the room.  I sat in awe of story after story being read.  How did they come up with that brilliance in a couple of minutes??  And how did they have the courage to read it to a room full of people??

It was time for the last writing prompt of the class.  “A character on a train sits down and takes his shoes off and massages his feet.” I scribbled furiously for the 2 minutes (which seems like 2 seconds when you are being timed!) and came  up with…

I was riding on the train to Toepeka and I was in a real jam because of the guy who sat next to me.  I tried to shoe him away but he sat a foot away from me the entire ride.  I knew he was a total heel when he started massaging his bare feet.  I wanted to haul off and sock him.  What an arch hole!

Then the strangest thing of all happened.  When asked who’d like to read their story out loud, my hand went up in the air.  What the heck??  I DON’T READ OUT LOUD.  What are you doing hand??  Get down from there.  Before I knew what was happening, Dan pointed at me…and I started reading.  It’s no stand up show, but was a big step for me.  I’m not the hand raiser.  Not the public speaker.  Not the put myself out there and risk crickets type.  But I did it.  Erma’s conference gave me that.  And then Dan gave me something more:  a compliment.

After I finished reading, I looked up – shaking and red-faced I’m sure – and Dan said  five simple words “That was funny!  Really funny!”  As I exited the classroom, I thanked him for the fantastic session and he again complimented my story.  The Erma Bombeck website describes their writer’s workshop as “very supportive to both new and established writers looking for the kind of inspiration Erma received from University of Dayton professor Brother Tom Price: ‘You can write!'” 

I’m sure Dan Zevin has no idea that his words felt like my “you can write” moment.  Several months later, my foggy Lyme brain is still preventing me from writing often (it’s embarrassing how long this admittedly ordinary post took me to write) but when I get discouraged and want to just quit, I pull out my smudged spiral notebook and remind myself that I was funny. Really funny.

Will I be signing up for the stand up show alongside Stacey at the next Erma conference?  Probably not.  But I will at least feel like I deserve to be in the audience.



My trip in photos.  Well, a few photos.  I will post more with the funny “lowlights” post.

My “I may throw up before I get there” airport selfie.

My "I may throw up before I get there" selfie.

After seeing my hotel room, it was VERY tempting to just hide the whole time.  Comfy bed, flat screen and…silence!

EBWW14 hotel






Luckily I soon found some of my blogging buddies: Hairpin Turns Ahead, Notes From the Shallow End, The Shitastrophy, Science of Parenthood, and Elle Roy Was Here so didn’t retreat to my hotel room retreat.  It was like a reunion with classmates I had never met.

EBWW14 HVgroup1

Cake was served at EVERY lunch and dinner.  And the best part?  Everyone ate it! There was no “oh, I couldn’t possibly eat that fattening dessert.”  Every bite was gobbled up on every plate at every meal.  At EBWW, you really can have your cake and eat it too.

EBWW14 cake

My end-of-first-day selfie: more tired, more puffy but also more happy that I went.

EBWW14 selfie2

Day 2 photo with more blogging buds: Her Royal Thighness, So Then Stories and Menopausal Mother!

EBWW14 HVgroup2

Phil Donahue was the first keynote speaker.  I had no idea he and Erma grew up together and were life-long friends.

EBWW14 Phil Donahue

The workshop was a magical experience.  Erma truly does live on at this conference.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Monkee-ing Around at the Carry On Warrior Book Signing.

***Please pardon my site’s appearance as I’m going through a redesign and migration to a self-hosted site.***


Stacey Gustafson is putting herself out there in a brave way again, with the cover reveal for her new book, Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives.  I can’t wait to read this book when it is released this fall because I have an extremely loud family, more than my share of bathroom calamities and…well…some relatives read my blog so I will just leave it at that. 😉

I will leave you with a little teaser for Stacey’s book: Hop into your minivan and get ready to cruise through the crazies of Suburbia! Humorist Stacey Gustafson makes an entertaining tour guide in Are You Kidding Me?, a brash, voyeuristic peek inside the topsy-turvy world of suburban motherhood, midlife madness, and all points in between. If you’ve ever called SWAT on a neighbor, faked a heart attack in church, or pulled your hair out while questioning the sanity of your family, Stacey’s tongue-in-cheek brand of humor will resonate with you. Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.*

*I received no compensation for helping Stacey promote her book.

Top 4 Problems at the (Not-So-)Scary Mommy Book Signing (and a signed copy giveaway)

During my months of blog neglect, the blog post ideas have been building.  I may not be able to remember things like why I walked in the kitchen, that my sunglasses are on top of my head or that I can’t find my cell phone because I’m talking on it…but the ideas don’t seem to go away until I get them out on paper.  Well, actually out on keyboard.  So bear with me for a while as I get some posts published that should have been done months ago.

This post, for example, is from when I met Jill Smokler (a.k.a. Scary Mommy) in April. << Instructions at the end of the post on how to enter the giveaway for the signed copy of “Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies).” >> 

After my first book signing debacle with Momastery’s Glennon Melton, I was a little anxious about going to another one.  I really wanted to meet Jill Smokler though, so I did.

I arrived at the signing 15 minutes early.  But – you should know by now there is always a BUT – there were some “issues.”

Problem #1: “City” parking.  Everything near the building was street parking.

I live in Suburbia and drive a Suburban (stereotype pinnacle here) so parallel parking is a thing of the past for me!

I circled the block and found ONE open space.  A space that looked like it was designed for one of those Little Tykes kiddie cars.  For a brief (illogical) moment, I thought I could fit.  I pulled up next to the spot and fortunately came to my senses before I did any damage.

I kept circling the block getting more uptight about trying to fit my huge car into one of the compact spots until – BINGO – there was a spot right in front of the building.  And it was the END spot on the block so I could just pull right up.  No embarrassing pull up, turn the wheel, back up, realize you are 3 feet from the curb, pull up, turn the wheel, back up, realize you are 2 feet 11 inches from the curb…


By this point, I had 3 minutes to get in the building (Jill was speaking first and then signing so I did NOT want to walk in late.)

Problem #2: The parking meter.

I rarely carry cash and even less rarely carry coins (except for the 5 pounds of pennies that always seem to be in the bottom of my purse).  I would have gladly put 1,000 pennies in the meter, but no.  The snotty thing would only accept nickels, dimes and quarters.

Now I had 2 minutes to get in the building.

I dumped my purse on the floor of the passenger seat.  Nothing but pennies.  Not even ONE nickel.  I rummaged through the ashtray (again, mostly pennies) and found a few coins that I fed to the meter.

17 minutes on the meter.  Not enough.

I tore everything out of the console storage and flung it onto the passenger seat.  At the bottom I found 5 more pounds of pennies.  Plus enough change to give me an hour on the meter.

It looked like my car had been broken into, but I had an hour.  And 30 seconds to get in the building.

Problem #3: The chairs.

As soon as I sat down, I realized the chair I was in was terribly wobbly.  I had visions of it collapsing on the floor as Jill began her speech.  I sat motionless for a few minutes while listening to a group of ladies in front of me chatting away.  While I sat alone.  Sound familiar?

I finally moved over to escape the wobbly seat.  The second seat was just as wobbly.  I realized they must all be wobbly.  No one else had crashed down, so I convinced myself that I wouldn’t either.  Well, I mainly convinced myself.  Kind of.  Actually, not at all. I was still sure I was going down.

However, the vantage point of the new chair let me see WHO was chatting in front of me.  It was JILL!  I sat right behind her and didn’t even know it.  She was saying Hi to some high school friends before she began.

Jill was so down to earth and honest.  A heck of a wonderful lady!  I even felt comfortable enough to ask something during “question and answer” time.

I was able to chat with her for a bit while she signed my books but, of course there had to be one more problem.

Problem #4: I forgot to get someone to take my photo with her!

At least I took one photo of Jill while she was speaking.  But nothing else.

Jill Smokler Scary Mommy Book Signing

I decided that wasn’t acceptable.  I HAD to have a photo with Jill.

So now I do.

Jill Smokler REALLY Scary Mommy Book Signing

I really can’t say enough nice things about Jill.  She even commented on my blog recently.  Only because I threatened to take the Scary Mommy title from her, but the fact that she took the time to comment is pretty sweet.

I recently heard that Jill is going to be the keynote speaker at a new conference in our area this October so I will get to see her again!  I will make sure to get plenty of pictures!

P.S. In case you are wondering, I made it back to the car with 3 minutes to spare.

P.P.S. The unexpected perk of forgetting to get a photo with her?  Since I had to cut and paste myself into the photo, my unsteady hand on the mouse completely on purpose accidentally chopped off some of the junk in my trunk.  Easiest pounds I’ve ever (virtually) dropped.  If only it were that easy in real life.


THE GIVEAWAY! (Ends 8/15/13)

Ways to enter to win a signed copy of “Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies)” are:

(1) LIKE the Momopolize Facebook Page AND comment on the PINNED status.  (If you already like the page, just comment so I know you want to enter.)

(2) SHARE the Momopolize Facebook Page on Facebook.  You get an extra entry EVERY time you share.  Just make sure to tag Momopolize (or me) in the share so I will make sure to count it for you!

Monkee-ing Around at the “Carry On Warrior” Book Signing

This is the story of why Glennon Melton thinks I’m bananas.

When I arrived for the Carry on Warrior book signing, the line was already winding through Books A Million.

Carry On Warrior Book Signing baby showerThe store was decorated with balloons and banners for the “birth” of Glennon’s book.

To complete the baby shower experience, favors were handed out

Including Twizzlers, of course.

I got in line behind the dozens and dozens of Momastery fans that were already there andCarry On Warrior Book Signing long line within a few minutes, the line was longer behind me than it was ahead.

I was surrounded by groups of Monkees laughing and chatting.  I quickly realized something awful.  I was the ONLY person that had come to the signing ALONE.

I expected to see a light hanging from the ceiling flashing Loser.  Loser.  Loser.  With an arrow pointing at ME.

No worries, I thought.  “I will just pretend like I have sooo many friends I’m texting and chatting with on FB.  Cell phone to the rescue!  What???  18% battery left???  Crap.  If I get on Facebook, I will drain my battery before I can get a photo with Glennon.”

Panic set in.

I resorted to blankly perusing books from the shelves next to the line.  After staring intently at the cover of one book for several minutes – without actually reading it, since I was in too much of a tizzy to actually focus on anything – I realized I was staring at a book called “Assassin’s Creed.”

Great, now everyone in line thinks I’m a loser AND a psychotic killer.

I suck at chit-chat, especially with strangers but I always struggle with it even with people I know.  Small talk is a big stressor.  I either can’t think of anything to contribute to the conversation or I babble on and on like an idiot.  There doesn’t seem to be any in between with me.  I’m either a faucet that won’t turn on faster than an annoying drip or one stuck on full blast, with everyone dodging the splashing water.

So I continued to stand there in silence listening to the conversations and fun going on around me, while staring blankly at more book covers (and yes, I had 3 copies of Carry On Warrior in a bag in my hand, but did it even cross my mind to use the awkward time reading?  No.  Not once.)

I’m surprised I didn’t leave.  Between feeling like an outcast, a bit claustrophobic (I’m not normally, but this store was packed!), not eating dinner before I went and standing there in high heels, I was having visions of passing out and taking down the aisles of books with me.  I’m sure you can picture what I mean…a domino of shelves knocking down one after another after another until the entire store is in shambles.

Fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it – I COULDN’T leave because I was getting a book signed for someone who injured her knee and couldn’t stand in line.  And before you say I should have loudly announced that bit of information to prove that I DO in fact have friends, I have never met her.  She posted on the Momastery Facebook page asking if anyone could take her copy to the signing, and since I live in the same town I offered. (Side note: We HAVE messaged back on forth on FB since the signing and discussed meeting for lunch when she is, literally, back on her feet.  She didn’t get great test result news from her injury so send her some healing thoughts please!)

Glennon made her grand entrance right on time.  With all the squeals and applause, it sounded like a rock concert.  She had the entire room mesmerized with her words of welcome.

And yes, she is on a ladder!

Photo: First Carry On, Warrior book signing last night.Over 500 kind and brave women...a room full of love, joy, sisterhood, tears, hysterical laughter, babies, mamas, grandmamas, sisters, lobsters, and many women hanging on by that thread we all know so well. They all showed up, just as they are. Held space for each other. Closest to heaven I've ever been. Signed the last book and hugged the last Monkee at midnight.As Penny Lane says... It's all happening.

After Glennon put her feet back on the ground, she soon began signing.  At least the line began inching along.  But what happened next is one of those “What was I thinking???” moments.  Since the crowd was so huge, index cards were handed out.  Everyone was allowed 30 seconds with Glennon when they reached the coveted front of the line position, so if there was anything I wanted Glennon to hear that would take more than 30 seconds, I was instructed to write it on the card and leave it in a basket for her to read later.

I guess the anxiety of standing alone in the crowd with an empty stomach and aching feet caused temporary insanity to set in.  I started scribbling away.

Here is the gist of what I filled up every inch of that card with.  It began innocently enough.  But then took a turn for the nutso.

“Glennon, Congrats on your much deserved success. I don’t comment much on your blog, but I adore your posts. I wish I had the opportunity to get to know you when we both lived in the same neighborhood! I think I am going to just keep writing until this card is completely full because I’m convinced I am the ONLY person here alone and I feel like an idiot standing here in silence. Everyone else is chatting happily with a group of friends and I’m just feeling totally AWK. WARD. Hopefully I won’t have a full on panic attack or anything. I’d probably pass out and hit my head on the corner of a bookshelf and get a gash in the shape of an “L” on my forehead, which would confirm what I’m sure everyone is thinking right now. Well, I guess now I will go back to randomly staring into space while everyone else is enjoying the company of their buddies.  I can’t even retreat to Facebook because my phone battery is almost dead and if it dies I won’t be able to get a photo with you.  Sorry for the sloppy hand writing.  I wrote this while holding the index card in my hand.  Palms are very bumpy.  Well, I’m out of room now.  K, bye!”

And I signed it.  First AND last name.  Yeah, I know.  Sigh.

As we rounded the corner that was about the half way point, I think I must have looked pathetic enough that the group of Monkees in front of me took pity on me.  They turned around and told me I looked familiar.  I – completely jokingly – said “maybe you recognize me from my blog.”  Unfortunately I don’t think it came off as a joke.  Surprisingly, they kept talking to me anyway.  I don’t think I said much else, since I already stuck my foot in my mouth once, but just the APPEARANCE that I was standing in their group made me feel included.  Ahhh, I may survive this evening after all.  Monkees to the rescue!

The second half of the wait was much more enjoyable because I only felt slightly anti-social, plus we were in a more open area of the store and the end of the line was at least in sight even though we still were no where near the end.

Finally, after almost 3 hours in line, I was up next.  Before I continue, I must digress for a minute.  I don’t normally have a get-all-giddy-over-celebrities personality.  I never have.  I don’t watch the Oscars nor read People magazine.  No teeny-bopper posters plastered all over my room when I was young.  The closest thing I had to a teen heart throb was Andy Gibb (I did have a t-shirt with his photo on it).   Once a Redskin’s football player rented a house on my street, but I didn’t give it much thought (my husband on the other hand…total bromance.).  Even when I met Melissa Gorga of the Real Housewives of New Jersey, I wouldn’t say I was starstruck.  Don’t get me wrong, having lunch with her was an exciting and nerve-wracking experience, but I think I was more freaked out about official “press” photographers being there (I hate getting my picture taken) and trying to make small talk (or big talk) with a diva (she didn’t act like one).  She even made a comment that it was the first time she had a lunch and talked about something OTHER than RHONJ (I’m still not sure if she was pleased about that or offended that I didn’t fawn over her more).

So imagine my surprise when I set my books down on the table for Glennon to sign and this squeaky, squealy, overly-excited voice appeared out of no where and spewed,

“Ohmygawd! I’m soooo excited to meet you well we may have met before our sons were in the same class in 1st grade but I don’t know if we actually met or not but I wish we had because I know we would have been great friends what? his name is Eric McKeown M C K E O W N which doesn’t look like it should be pronounced Mc Q N but it is I asked Eric if he remembered Chase and he said yes I remember seeing him at Petsmart one day when we were in class together but we never had play dates together isn’t it funny the things that kids remember but they can’t remember where they put their shoes 5 minutes ago oh and I also have lyme disease and I went to JMU but I’m sure I’m older than you so we didn’t get to meet there either but don’t we just have so much in common? I feel like we have been friends even though we haven’t and I just loooove your blog and you are such an inspiration I just hope one day I can somehow help even a fraction of the people that you have helped this copy is for Lisa that copy is for me and the third I’m going to give away on my blog what? yes I write a blog what? ohmygawd I would loooove to email you the link to my blog so you can check it out that just made my day that is so awesome thank you soooo much you are going to be here really late signing books you must be so excited that so many Monkees came out to see you but I bet you are going to be tired tomorrow and you don’t really get to rest because you have to go to you next stop on the tour what? no it hasn’t been 30 seconds I just started talking to Glennon I still have more to say why are you grabbing me by the arm sir? oh wow I get a personal escort out of the store you guys are just too sweet you really know how to make a gal feel special let’s do lunch love ya’ bye! “

I found my inner starry eyed teeny-bopper.

Photo with Glennon Melton

I think I reacted this way because Glennon is doing what I dream of doing.  And doing it exceptionally well.  Maybe I don’t swoon over singers or actors because I don’t want to be one.  But an author, now that is something I admire.  And an author that uses her talents and influence to help others.  Wow.  Now if only Jenny Lawson, a.k.a. the Bloggess, would bring her book tour near me,  I just may be reduced to tears.  I DID foster her cat’s long lost brother after all.

On my way out I said goodbye to my new friends – you know, the people in front of me in line – and we exchanged names and said we’d look for each other on the Momastery page.  But come to think of it, they only gave me their FIRST names.  Hmmm.

As soon as I got home, I emailed Glennon.  Not once, but twice.  Then I told Jim about my adventure, including the uncharacteristic gushing adoration and the index card, assuming he would laugh.  Instead he got a look of horror on his face and said, “but you didn’t actually give her the index card, right?”  I told him that I had indeed.

Cue the crickets.

Sorry Glennon.

I think I know the title of my memoir.  “Carry Out Wackier.”


Carry On Warrior Book signed copy giveaway
Don’t worry, not by ME!

Click HERE to enter to win the signed copy of Carry On Warrior.  I promise I didn’t add any insane gibberish anywhere on it.  I only do that on index cards.  And verbally.  Don’t worry.  If you win, you can give me a P.O. box address to mail it to.  Because I’m sure NONE of you want me knowing where you live after reading this post! 😉

And in case you haven’t already heard me shouting it from the rooftops, I am in a book!  It was released the same day as Carry On Warrior.  My kids heard me say was that I was “going to a book signing.”  The next day they excitedly asked how many people showed up.  I wasn’t sure why they were so curious about the success of Glennon’s book but they ooohed and aaaahed when I told them around 500.  When they asked if my hand got cramped, I realized what they thought.  Talk about dejected faces when I broke it to them that I was GETTING an autograph, not giving them.  Sorry to disappoint fellas.

Life Well Blogged book cover Parenting Gag Reel“My” book is “Parenting Gag Reel: Hilarious Writes and Wrongs” which is the 4th book in the best selling series published by Life Well Blogged.  It contains a collaboration of writing from 40 bloggers and a portion of the proceeds goes to Autism Speaks.  It made it to #10 in the Kindle store’s Parenting & Families category and hopefully will go to #1 when the paperback is released (should be released within a week).  Don’t be surprised if you see me sitting on the floor in a corner at Books A Million with a balloon tied to my wrist begging people to take signed copies of the paperback.  Gotta’ make those kids proud somehow.

Click HERE to buy the Kindle download of Parenting Gag Reel.  It is only $2.99!

You also have a chance to win a copy (5 winners) when you enter the Carry On Warrior giveaway.  Plus there are instructions to enter a Kindle Fire giveaway!!

Giveaways Galore: Carry On Warrior signed by Glennon, Parenting Gag Reel and a Kindle Fire!

Read Band Books Week

I keep hearing so much about some “Read Band Books Week.”  Since everyone seems to be talking about it, I thought I should join in and read one.  I decided Rock would be a fun band type to choose.  The title of this sounds perfect for the occasion…


What?  I misunderstood what they meant?

Oh, I get it.  It is “Reed Band Books Week.”  Hmmm…well I found this book.  Doesn’t sound as interesting.  But I guess I will read this…

REED INSTRUMENTS by Jeremy Montagu (

Oh, that still isn’t right?

“Read Band Books Weak?”   Really?  It isn’t very nice to call sisters “WEAK” but I guess I will have to read this instead…

BAND OF SISTERS by Cathy Gohlke (

Huh?  That still isn’t correct??

Dang homophones.

OK, I finally get it now.  But geesh, they didn’t even use spell check…


Now I guess the next thing you are going to tell me is that there is no such thing as “Tell Band Stories Week???”

Because this one time, at band camp…



Read a banned book.  Read a band book.  It should be your choice.

I think I will still choose to read the “Ultimate Rock Band” book.  Dude.

ROCK                                                             AND                                                ROLL!!!!