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The Terrible Titler: Birth of a Superhero

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I recently discovered I possess a heretofore unacknowledged talent: devising truly awful book titles. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I came up two, maybe three dozen atrocious titles for the book I submitted to a publishing house.
Naming novels is super hard. I haven’t had any children, but I’m pretty sure naming books is way harder than naming something as uncomplicated as a human. I mean, you already have their last name, parents. How challenging could the rest be?*
But I digress.
To name my novel, I first freewrote a brief description of its essence. Unfortunately, I waxed a bit too poetic and ended up with an unfortunate dearth of keywords. Behold:
This story is about walls. It’s about how the walls in which we seek shelter can also become our prisons.It’s about choices. If someone offered you the chance to face your past traumas and finally heal, would you take it?It’s about animals and how we humans have forgotten that we are apes with tolerance museums and nuclear arsenals…

Me No Words Back Blurb

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Okay, but for reals, I suck at writing back cover blurbs. And titles. And synopses.

How is it I can pen a 75K-word novel no problem, but come time to write the back cover blurb, my verbal capacity transforms into that of a 16-year-old boy faced with his prom date's glaring father? 



It's, like, you know, when, uh...  Okay, imagine mean people with, like, scary yellow eyes!
Romance and funnies and, like, tons of animals!
And, you know, there's a car. And then the cat pees on someone's leg!
Me no sex, sir!
READ THIS NOVEL!

Revising Madness

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Not that I’m bragging or anything, but I just finished penning my latest novel. No biggie. I mean, birthing it only took four years of labor, 76 thousand words, and writing my way through some deeply un-fun times. You know, whatevs.
Now, I’m clawing and scratching my way through the first major revision, a labor of love that’s 80% labor and 20% love. How do I keep myself motivated? In part by imagining what strangers would think of lil ol’, mild-mannered Elle while she’s revising. All those future commands for future me -- like [say something smart about cars] or [find complementary martial arts] or [are there porpoises off the Florida coast?]* -- have morphed into current dictates for present-tense me. I am no longer Elle the writer but Elle the intrepid factfinder who hunts obscure information I would otherwise never, ever think to know.
On a side note, and after just having completed two hours of research into martial arts types, I’m pretty sure I deserve a black belt of my own. (O…

I Am, I Feel, I Love

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The most important things to me are life and equality. Equality as in homeostasis, equality as in living in harmony and balance. My spirituality, which looks not much like the usual suspects, says we are all equal, all forms of life, and those of us who have the means to assist the disadvantaged should do so.
I love the circle of life, the differences in lives and being.
I love my family: the ones related to me by blood, the human family I have chosen, the furkids I have rescued.
I like challenging dichotomies.
I love social justice: feminism, anti-racism, fat pride, queer politics, animal welfare, disability rights, transgender justice, environmentalism, anti-poverty work, ad infinitum (ad nauseam?).
I adore being a teacher and changing students’ lives. I love that teaching can change the world, that encouraging any kind of critical thinking is a tiny, revolutionary act that has the potential to restructure cultural ways of knowing.
However…
Social change is incremental. No one person…

What is Love?

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There I was, innocently scrolling through my Facebook feed, when a black and white meme ensnared me. “How do you know you love someone?” it asked in deceptively casual font.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit my academic brain jumped in before my romantic nature could yawn itself into coherence. I started pondering chemicals that produce a flush of affection and mimic addiction. Something a little like this head-over-heels-romantic ditty.


Yeah, nerds got game.
I actually kind of tackled this topic in my Sociology of Family class a few weeks ago, when we discussed the social nature of intimacy. According to sociologists Hammond, Cheney, and Pearsey, a truly reciprocal love emerges from mutual vulnerability. Only when a couple (romantic or not) develops trust through mutual disclosure, vulnerability, and support, our sociologists say, can love blossom.
And everyone’s favorite psychologist, Maslow, posits we love others according to how much they fill the psychological gaps left from our ch…

The Good, the Bad... the Ex

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Adulting Writer Awards

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About a week ago, I received some grump-inducing news. As is my recent habit, come afternoon, I plunked down before my desktop and slapped my fingers on the keyboard. Writing time! That day, though, I glared accusingly at my computer, which, just hours ago, had delivered some pretty obnoxious information.
But slowly, peck by peck, all the while sighing and muttering angrily, I penned a little over 1000 words. After limping across the finish line, I’ll admit I felt pretty smug. I hated the world that day, and still I managed to write something.
I deserved a medal, or at least a merit badge. An author merit badge.
You know those adulting awards that show up from time to time on social media? I propose we authors have our own adulting award but for, you know, literary stuff. Given this, I have designed some awards. Please feel free to print out, distribute, or tattoo as needed.