2022-01-14 Giving My Brain a Creative Jump-Start ✍🏻

I’m back at the Lied Lodge in Nebraska city today. I was invited by an MFA friend who is also struggling to get back into writing. The regular routine of life often doesn’t leave enough space for flexing that creative muscle. I know I was just here a couple of weeks ago but that was mostly business and alas there was not time to just sit with my right brain self and reflect and write. So when she asked me, I jumped at the opportunity.

The Lied is where our low-res MFA program does their residencies every semester. It’s a ten day immersive experience that often leaves my head spinning and full of things I want to write about. My hope is that just by being here, it will kickstart something in my brain.

It felt good to pack a bag and break away from the castle. It felt great driving in my car solo, with my tunes turned up on the stereo. And it feels fantastic being here without any pressure to lecture, attend events, or socialize. I’ve stayed here enough times that I know the place inside and out. 

I know enough to ask for an odd numbered room on the 3rd floor (odd numbered rooms are on the north side of the lodge which faces a green space and a copse of trees instead of the parking lot). I know there’s hardly ever anyone in the exercise room in the basement (which is where I am now) and I know that in winter there’s not much going on so there will be few distractions. 

What I don’t know is whether or not I’ll be able to mentally break away from all the things in my life that have kept me from writing lately. I have to resist the urge to check email or work on the GLR or waste the precious time I have searching old poems for potential revision opportunities or submitting the same old shit to more places. 

I’ve turned notifications to camera events off and made sure folks know not to contact me unless it’s an emergency. I’ve brought a few books in case I need a little jump start for writing or to keep me occupied if the writing doesn’t happen. I hope it does. 

My friend will be here at about 5:30 and we’re meeting for dinner at 6. The bad weather is supposed to roll in any minute now and it would be lovely to feel a little stranded with a hot coffee next to the big fireplace overlooking the patio and the woods beyond that. 

It will also be nice to catch up with my friend and just talk about our big plans for the year without some timer going off. No mom taxi, no dinner to cook, no dishes or litter boxes for 24 glorious hours. Hell, now that I think about it, I don’t even care if I write anything. It’s like a whole day of “me” time. 

To be fair, I don’t want to spend a ton of time journal writing either so this is gonna be it for now. 

Time to get busy doing whatever I want! 

Ciao for now, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2022-01-10 Another Year in the Rearview

And what a year it was! Am I right??!! 

Sometimes when I’m on vacation and I have extra time, I elect to write about how it’s going. If I have a lot of extra time, there are pictures. That’s lovely to revisit later, but who has that kind of time? 

I’m usually more about the future than the past and once a vacation or event is over, if I haven’t written about it, it fades into the abyss of collective human existence. 

It used to bother me if something noteworthy went undocumented, like a road trip, barcamp experience, or all those years from 1994 to 2008. Poof.. gone! Oh the regret. 

In more recent times, however, I’ve gotten better at letting it go. I’ve been coaching myself to not get so bent about missing what I cherish as a perfect reason to write. The lack of time helps.. if I don’t have it, there’s little I can do about it anyhow and being upset doesn’t help anything. 

Now that that’s been established, I have to flip the script because when it comes to talking about a whole year, I feel a little different.  Yes… we’re talking 2021 now. I need.. NEED to reflect a little bit so that I can turn my full and complete attention to the year ahead. 

About a week ago I went all numbers nerd on y’all and I believe that had a healthy recap of my stats for the year. Step count average, sleep duration, creative writing submission counts, and blog stats.

https://theorganicsugarcookie.com/2021/12/22/2021-12-22-its-a-numbers-nerding-kind-of-day/

But not everything can be translated into numbers.

For example, in match my mom went through a hell of an ordeal and the result was a diagnosis of stage 3c ovarian cancer, which is pretty grim if you google the statistics. She’s now had two major surgeries and undergone 6 months of chemo. The short story now is that she’s been declared cancer free. For now. 

The visitor restrictions due to covid meant only one designated visitor was allowed. That would be yours truly. Daughter number 1. It was a rough time for her for sure, and I do not mean to demean that at all when I say it was pretty terrible for me too. Like a full time job managing a situation with zero in return. When I say zero, I’m being serious. 

Cold, yes, but frightfully serious. I suppose that’s because I’ve never had a great relationship with my mom. It’s only proximity and availability that I was put on good daughter duty instead of my 3 other siblings; two in the Denver area, and one local but already has a full time job. 

I’m the end we all did our part. Mine was just bigger. 

My mom is already chomping at the bit to have more surgery to reverse the ostomy. It will take two more procedures. She’s schedule this week if she could, but the rise in Covid again has put the kibosh on anything considered elective. I’m secretly grateful for that as I’m personally not ready for that circus again. I digress. 

This year I also navigated the publishing process for my first book. So quaint and optimistic I say “first” as if I really think there will be another. But there might! 

Anyway, I don’t believe I’ve learned anything new about myself through the process other than I really can get over my angst about social media and post modestly for the sake of self promotion. 

The process has been mostly hurry up and wait. I got the requested materials to the publisher in late summer/early fall which included cover design, pictures, bios, and blurbs they could use to promote the book and put on the back cover. The rest of it has just been waiting. 

Waiting for it to go up on their site, mostly so I could tell people about it. And now the waiting game during this pre-sale period includes me randomly posting about it and emailing folks. I get an email every couple of weeks on how it’s doing; how many copies have been sold. Last count was the magic 55. 

See how hard it is to find the words to recap a year without going down all the rabbit holes along the way. I’m sure my year had more about it than my moms cancer and my book. 

I did have seventeen poems published in 2021. That’s something! 

I traveled to Beaver Bend State Park in Oklahoma, Arizona and the Grand Canyon, Dubuque Iowa, and Austin this year. 

My daughter turned 19 and is dominating the school scene at UNL. She’s also navigating her way through the early stages of her first relationship. 

My son turned 17 and is a senior in high school. I was successful getting him to take drivers ed this past summer so now he’s driving. That’s a big win. He’s also getting closer to making some decisions about his future which is great. He’ll have more of a plan than I ever did when I was a senior. In my book, that’s a win too. 

Jim and I had our 1st anniversary as a married couple. We celebrated by going out to dinner for the first time in a year. That was last February, so the next me is coming up quick. 

I’m struggling to think of anything else noteworthy and I think that means it’s time to wrap. 

Perhaps if I think of something else I’ll return to update this post so it’s all in one place. Hey… I can do that. 🙃

Cheers to Endings and Beginnings,

~Miss SugarCookie

2022-01-08 Where’s the Bullseye This Year? 🎯

I’ve been thinking (and thinking and thinking and thinking) about goals, plans, resolutions, a new day, a new month, a new year. I’m getting closer to zeroing in on my target(s). 🎯🎯🎯

My good friend Rebecca always picks a word at the start of the year that will shape her year and help her focus on her goals. Sort of an overarching theme to the year that she defines. I guess this is a thing now but she’s been doing it for a long time now so in my book, she’s my inspiration. 

We don’t live near each other so communication is almost exclusively text. I texted a few days ago to find out what her word is this year to try and get my mind going in that direction too. I’ve had a few words bouncing around in my brain but nothing really stuck. 

This morning I thought about her word again and how it has multiple meanings (the word is light) and I like that. Then I thought about what I would like to do more of physically this year and the answer that came to me was yoga. So I decided that this year my word will be “stretch.” 

I can stretch my body and my mind and have stretch goals. Reaching beyond the mundane and the everyday for more. Yes, it’s kind of the antithesis of what I was striving for last year (which was to do less and de-stress) but if you read yesterday’s post you know how well that turned out. 🙃

The next step is to really put some concrete goals on the list. Here are a few I’m considering. 

  1. Read a book a month. 
  2. Write a new poem or free write once a week (this blog doesn’t count). 
  3. Do 20 minutes of yoga twice a week. 
  4. Maintain my 100 active sub count. 
  5. Lose 5 pounds. 
  6. Get 420 Zone Minutes each week (it’s a Fitbit exercise measure). 
  7. Average 30 minutes of custom cardio each day (another FitBit score). 
  8. Meditate at least once a week (failed last year but that can’t stop me from trying again). 
  9. Reduce my screen time by 30 minutes each day.
  10. Participate in at least 2 workshops and or readings each month. 

Each one is a means to an end and if I can do at least this, I’ll feel super successful. If I can “stretch” one or two and do a little more (or less depending on the objective) then so much the better.

***

Well, friends, I’ve been distracted and completely lost the thread for today. 

Perhaps I can pick it back up tomorrow. 

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2022-01-03 It Can Be Whatever You Want…

I have collected and carry with me a number of sayings. Mantras, if you will that I often turn to in times when I’m in need of grounding, or a reminder about how to live life properly.

Now is one of those times and the phrase today is “It can be whatever you want. You just have to know what that is.” 

I’ve spent the last four days solid immersed in doing what everyone else around me wanted, expected, and demanded. I’ve had almost zero time to myself and as an introvert, I know that continuing on in that way spells disaster. 

The next few days seem pretty booked up already too and sometimes when there’s this much going on, and I have a spare moment to come up for air and do something else, something that is just for me, I struggle. Because it’s tough to pull your brain away from the endless sea of to-dos and switch gears to something else. 

It can get bad in that in that spare moment. It should be glorious and filled from one side to the other with me spending time on what I really want to do. Instead I get paralysis from over analysis. I end up waffling and wasting time worrying that I’ll choose the wrong thing to do next. Then I’ve really done a number on myself because I’ve done the exact opposite of what I want.

It can be whatever you want. You just have to know what that is. 

About 45 minutes ago I returned home with my daughter with Qdoba for her and I and my son and we sat in our broken kitchen and enjoyed some tacos, chips, and queso together. I knew when we were done, we would all part ways and that would be my first break in four days to do whatever I want… for about an hour. But what did I want to do with my time?

One damn grand hour. What indeed! 

Then it started. I began to waffle. 

It’s the third day of the year and I haven’t written out my final reflections on 2021 or declared any resolutions for 2022. I should do that. 

I haven’t exercised at all today. I should do that. 

I have a new idea in my head for a project I’d like to dive into. I should do some research about that. 

I haven’t scooped the kitty litter in a while. I should definitely NOT under any circumstances do that. 

I haven’t had a real conversation with my husband in three days that’s not about our broken dishwasher, clogged sink, or disposal that is probably toast. I should hang out with him. 

I habitually consult my email as if I’m inviting the Universe to make my decision for me. There’s no new mail (thank the Stars). 

The kids finish eating and depart just as predicted and so I leave the kitchen as well. I wander toward my bedroom and have a disagreement with myself along the way. Do I change out of my day clothes into pajamas and head upstairs to write or should I change into something to get treadmill time? I do neither. It’s the paralysis thing rearing its ugly head.

Instead of going to my closet, I detour to the stairs and visit the room where my husband is settling in to read. Maybe I should read. That’s a novel idea too. Pun intended! 

As soon as I sit down in a chair adjacent to his and begin to get cozy with a blanket, I get this creeping feeling that I’ve chosen wrong. It takes me a minute, but I have to trust this instinct. 

I get up to leave and explain that I need to do something else. We agree to wrap whatever it is we’re doing at 9pm to meet again, elsewhere. I head back down to our bedroom. By now, I’ve waffled for nearly 20 minutes. What a waste!! 

I change into something that I can walk in and also later peel off pants and sleep in. Waaaaa-la! I make my way to the treadmill in the basement and here I am!!

It’s sometimes way harder than it should be to figure out what you want and want you need and that’s why I have those little mantras. 

Tomorrow my husband goes back to work. The day after that my son goes back to school. I’ll then have more time for that reflection I’m craving and documenting that list of resolutions grinding around in my head.

I am capable of looking on the bright side. In this case, no official resolutions equals no official acknowledgment of failure, self-loathing, or accountability for lack of progress. Three happy New Years cheers to that!! 

Just then one of my four cats, Gus Gus, eyes the treadmill as if he’s thinking of stepping on while the belt is moving. I immediately hit the stop button. 

I sit down and he climbs on and I pet him for about 5 minutes before finishing this post. 

And that’s it. That’s exactly how it all went down. Hopefully next time, I’ll figure out what I want a little sooner. 

#TrueStory

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-12-29 In What Universe is it OK…

… that the answer to the question “Do you like pizza?” is different than the answer to the question “Do you eat pizza?”?!

The answer to the question is that in no Universe is it OK (unless you have some health reason not to). I am surrounded by people who can’t eat things. Gluten intolerance, IBS, lactose intolerance, shellfish allergy, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, peanut allergy, and the beat goes on and on and on. What has happened to human beings?

Do you know what is arguably worse than that? I am one of the only people I know my age or older who can still eat anything I want but I don’t. We’ll I sort of do, but I really don’t.

Hold up. What?! 

I like ice cream. Scratch that… I LOVE ice cream. But I don’t eat ice cream because it makes you fat. And by you, I mean me. I love cookies, and candy, and chocolate, and pie, and Lucky Charms, and THAT beat goes on and on and on.

I’ve got a real sweet tooth and always have. When I was a kid I used to spend every dime of my dime-a-chore allowance on candy from the corner store on Harrison Avenue. Empty pockets and a satisfied tongue were just a short bike ride away. I also got in tons of trouble stuffing the empty wrappers under the cushions of our velvet blue and gold flower couch. But now every time I think about eating something sweet I have this self-loathing argument in my head about it.

Every, damn, time! But why? 

Because I’m damaged, that’s why. You don’t get to be my age without some sort of damage. Life is like that and it’s frightfully unavoidable. 

My damage was an eating disorder I developed at the uncanny age of 34. Might have started slightly earlier than that, but it was full-blown by the time I was in the midst of my divorce and trying desperately to control one of the few things in life that I could control–my weight. 

I became so obsessed with being in control that I began to take extreme measures to push my body to see how low I could go. And because my soon-to-be ex-husband had conditioned me to think that paper-clip thin was sexy, I actually thought I looked good. To be fair, people around me also supported this notion by telling me that I looked great so part of my distorted self-image came from society as a whole lifting up a slender physique as the ideal. What a load of garbage. 

I think by now everyone can guess what “extreme measures” means and that’s not really my focus now anyhow. Right now I’m mostly concerned about the mental scars I still suffer from because of what I went through. 

Once I was on the other side of the problem, which is to say, once I felt like I had overcome my obsession and was really back in control, I kept that shit inside like a dirty secret no one could know. For a long time. I felt as if I was over the worst of it but would carry those experiences with me for the rest of my life. I guess one could say, never really cured. Which is how it went. Always a little nagging magpie in the back of my brain pecking away about fat and carbs and quantity and calories and numbers on a scale. There were no more extreme measures, but there sure was (is) one hell of a body-image issue.

That, however, was small potatoes compared to other things I had going on in my life. I was a single mother of two, a full-time working woman, and a homeowner with a desire to have more of a life than just those three sides. I didn’t have time to worry about the numbers but I didn’t really need to either. 

I ate right, exercised enough, and had a pretty good metabolism. When my clothes got a little tight, I just cranked up the exercise and paid a little more attention to what I was putting in my mouth. It balanced out naturally. But it doesn’t anymore, which IS the focus now. This struggle I find myself living with day in and day out. 

In the last year, I’ve gained weight. I’m not getting any younger and my metabolism isn’t getting any faster so it has become more and more difficult to lose a few pounds. My sizes have all gone up. The clothes, the bra circumference, and yes, even my underwear drawer is in serious need of an upgrade. Everything I own is uncomfortable and I have started getting mad about it. Really mad. 

I created a “Goodwill” pile and every time something doesn’t fit, I toss it on the pile. I’m getting thicker and my wardrobe is getting considerably thinner. I hate it. 

I don’t want to give up. I want to fight harder but I also don’t want to deny myself all the food that I love. Including pizza and cheeseburgers and fried fish tacos and yes, ALL the sugar too. This daily struggle has become too much an obsession. 

I wake up thinking about it. I constantly argue with myself about whether I should eat breakfast or not, if I should have coffee with cream and sugar or try to give it up, how much I eat for lunch and if it should be simple and healthy or 

Something I want because I like the way it tastes. And the best goes on and on and on like that until the last decision of the day is upon me. Do I allow myself to have an evening snack.

I use twisted logic to convince myself of doing what I really want in the moment and then get angry thinking about how I need to go shopping for new clothes. It’s ridiculous. 

My husband says I’m sexy and beautiful and at the perfect weight right now. He wants to “deprogram” my lines of thinking and help me to see what he sees. He tells me to treat myself to some new clothes and says that I deserve to spend money on myself. 

It’s not about the money. It’s about the shame of not being able to fix something I’ve always had control over. But have I always had control? 

That’s how it started, yes. As I said, I could control my weight but in the thick of bulimia and anorexia, it’s definitely a situation that was completely out of control. 

The question I have to ask myself is am I out of control now? What can I really do to help myself and fix this? 

Therapy maybe. Set a modest goal yet allow myself to indulge and enjoy. Be reasonable. Take my husband’s advice and go shopping. Be kind to myself and try to make peace with these 10 extra pounds. Take the pile of clothes that don’t fit to the Goodwill. All I can say is that I’ll try. Keep trying actually as a lot of this is already a part of the daily conversations in my head. 

Actions speak louder than words though so I think it’s time to end the conversations and make up my damn mind so I can stop wasting so much time arguing with myself. If I like pizza, which I do, then I should just eat the damn pizza.

With that my time is up. 

Peace and love, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-12-22 It’s a Numbers Nerding Kind of Day

Yesterday I let myself become immersed in a total left-brain organizational task. It was very satisfying. I did some folder/file shuffling and a little accounting with a focus on the poems I’ve published to date. 

I’m in a numbers kind of mood. I guess that’s what I do when I fail to write. I’ve been failing for a while now so succeeding in the organizational tasks feels good. 

Here’s the breakdown…

I’ve had 16 poems published this year, which brings my total to 45. Technically the 45 includes poems in my chapbook so that number is a little skewed. Technically the chapbook hasn’t been published yet, but it’s a foregone conclusion now. The book has officially sold the minimum number of copies to be considered for external markets when it’s released. 

That number is 55 and I hit it on the nose this week. The next goal is 50 more than that in order to bump my royalties to 12.5% on all copies sold after the presale period. I also get a list of people who have ordered and it kinda feels like I’m Santa Clause checking who’s naughty and nice. Shame on my family for not buying a copy yet!! 

I’m not in it for the $$$ but it’s good to have goals. 

Continuing on…

In 2021 alone I’ve submitted about 737 poems to about 184 different journals. My acceptance rate (since the beginning of my publishing adventure) is about 10%. The declines account for 85% of all completed submissions and the last 5% are withdrawals. I currently (as of yesterday) have 99 open submissions in Submittable and 4 at publishers that accept submissions through other means (email, duosoma, and custom proprietary forms). 

My newest goal is to hover right around 100 so I’m in great shape at the moment. Really would like that number to be 100 in submittable so I’ll probably spend some time before Christmas Eve scouting another place that might be a good fit. 

My goal in 2021 was to get back up to 30, then 40, then 50. Clearly that is where I have been putting a lot of my energy and time. And at some point, I was like… what the hell… let’s go for 100! Strange but true that my goal for 2022 will be to hold steady there and just aim higher with regard to quality publishers. In order to do that though, I’d have to write some new stuff. This leads to another number I’m not super excited about. 

Less than 5 new poems have been added to my “potentials” list this year. It’s pretty sad. I’ve tried to write. Tried to force it but end up winding around the same topics and can’t break free from pieces I’ve already written. I would make myself a goal for 2022 around this too but that’s not how the creative process works. It’s just not. Maybe I’ll set the bar really low, like do better than in 2021. 🤣

To say that I haven’t written anything this year though would be wrong. I’ve written 172 blog posts and for that have had 2923 views on this blog alone by 1916 visitors. Some of those views are from posts from previous years though, just not sure how to sort that but views are views and likes are likes. Of which I have 1,945 so far this year. I’m also teetering dangerously close to 800 followers on WordPress (I think that is across all my sites). One more good post or poem and that number will be all mine! 

This post doesn’t count cuz nobody cares about my personal numbers or life accounting. 😜

On the whole, I’m down over a thousand views compared to last year and I attribute that to the fact that I’ve been slacking on posting this last half of the year. My daily routine has changed and the daily writing has been one of the casualties. Thanks, Master Chef! 

What else? Oh yeah, my health numbers…

So far this year I’m averaging 12,826 steps a day which is up about 2K from last year. Doing the math for the 365 days this year, that’s about 4,681,855 steps. That’s a lot of freaking steps. 

I’m averaging 6 hours and 38 minutes of sleep a night which is strangely exactly the same as 2020. Despite all my efforts to get better sleep, I have made zero improvement. Wonderful! By the way, I can’t track my actual sleep score as FitBit only reports a weekly average. Seems like a no-brainer to provide monthly and yearly averages like everything else. 

My resting heart rate went up from 62 beats per minute to 63, but I still have an excellent cardio score for a woman of my age. 

None of this helps the fact that I also gained 10 pounds this year. That’s another number I’d rather not talk about. Maybe there’s another goal for the new year brewing in that last bit. We’ll see. 

I think some other super rando numbers will round things out for today…

I donated blood 4 times this year.
Had 3 covid Moderna shots + 1 flu vacciene shot. 
Went on 3 vacations: Arizona, Austin, and California
Installed 18 security cameras and 4 mesh wifi router/boosters.
Visited the hospital (or other medical offices) 44 times supporting my mom through her cancer diagnosis, treatment, and surgery.
And thought about tweeting 24 times (but only tweeted like 6 times). 

Feels a little like this post is more suited for the last few days of December, but who knows what will happen next and there is no time like the present!

Onward and Upward,
~Miss SugarCookie

2021-12-09 Random This and That Thursday ✍🏻💊📖🤷‍♀️…

Today I’ve been working on a variety of things and it’s mostly good and I haven’t even had to leave my couch and that’s fine with me. 

It’s mostly been communications related but I did take a wee break in the middle of the day to join a creative writing session. That was nice though I’m pretty sure (like most of those sessions lately), I’m trying too hard and don’t come away with anything that’s worth anything. That could be my confidence talking (though I’m afraid it’s not). 

I think what I need is some more stimulation. Something to really fire me up enough that I want to write about it. For a while there I was inspired to write about all the lovely writing that was showing up in my inbox every morning. But that’s waning now too, as is this blog. What’s a girl to do? 

Anyway. How about that Nebraska weather? Equally as boring, right?! 😂

In other news I’ve successfully cut out the caffeine supplements in the morning. That’s a pretty big deal as I’ve been taking them for years. I mean, It was not that bad for my health but one of my goals for a long time has been to cut unnecessary supplements out of my regular routine. So it’s been buh-buy caffeine, melatonin, magnesium, motegrity, and even loratadine. That last one is for my allergies and this hiatus is a test to see how things are without them. 

As a kid and young adult I always had seasonal allergies. I think the older I get the better it gets so going off them now, at this time of year after a hard freeze, will tell me if my issues are still there or seasonal or something causing problems all year round (like dust mites or cats). Though if I was allergic to cats I would probably not have lived this long. 🤣

Anyway.. the last couple days I’ve suffered from a mild to moderate headache. I had cut out the circumin but think I’ll add that back in because the headache makes it tough to concentrate and that’s why I started taking that in the first place. Though this headache could be because of the lack of caffeine. That withdrawal is no joke. 

What else? 

What else? 

Oh hey, did I mention my book, Unsuspecting Cinderella?

It’s great. You should buy a copy. 

I’m saying that to everyone but Vis who has already taken a big bite for team SugarCookie. Thanks Vis… you’re the BEST!! 

I’ll have more of a promo results post coming soon. Gonna get prelim numbers from the publisher and we’ll see who’s hit the magic button to buy a copy. For real! 

Ok… guess that’s all I have time for today. Here’s to hoping for better weather tomorrow. 😂

Cheers,
~Miss SugarCookie

2021-12-03 Practicing Shameless Self-Promotion

Hello. My name is Shyla and I suck at self-promotion. Here’s a link to my first book: Unsuspecting Cinderella. Please buy it. 

See what I mean? I really have no idea how to get people to buy my book. Hell, I am not even comfortable telling people about it. I mean, I’ll tell you all about it if you ask but me bringing it up first is tough. Don’t even get me started on attempting to ask people to spend money on it. 

It’s a good book, I promise. But like every other book in the known Universe, it’s not for everyone. 

It’s a book of poetry. About 30 pages worth, give or take a few section breaks. Small enough to read in just one sitting. I think they are fabulous poems, but that’s just me. The author. 

My publisher sent me about five terrifying and overwhelming emails about book promotion, book sales, radio interviews, press release examples, etc. I read through them and it was all too much. I get that they are in the business of making money by publishing and selling books but it was like they drove a dump-truck up to my email inbox and just dumped. I guess I’m not going to get any help with promo during this pre-sale period, which is a couple of months. Those emails mean they have officially passed that promo baton to me until January.  

I’m just not sure how to go about doing self-promotion or where to start. I guess that’s why I’m writing this. Ha!

Outside of my most immediate family, I haven’t sent anyone the link yet to pre-order (well, besides posting it here). I’m pretty sure only 2 people have actually bought a copy so far. 

I have to sell at least 55 copies of the book or it will never be released to markets other than the original publisher (like Amazon or Barnes and Noble), so that’s my first goal. 55 people. That shouldn’t be so tough right?

Ok… I have 791 followers on this blog so maybe if each one of you buys a copy that will be super cool. Minus the people who are just bots, minus the people who follow me just because that’s what they do to get followers, minus the people who are no longer looking at the wordpress feeds, minus the random person who just stumbled across this today. By my estimate that leaves about 10 people. 

Minus you Vis because I know you are one of two people who already bought a copy. So that leaves nine. 

Hi, nine good people of Earth. Please buy my book. Here’s that link again: Unsuspecting Cinderella

I said it was good but don’t take my word for it. Check out the praise the book received from three other great humans: 

Unsuspecting Cinderella is what happens after the glass slipper slips on and the prince carries the poet off to the castle. These are pensive, incisive lines of deep hungers (I want you to want me like a fever breaking), and the Midas-like emptiness at the castle that leaves one curled into a ball and opening umbrellas on the inside. It’s the cautionary tale of compromising our truest self for a life that is both more than enough and nowhere near enough. A chapbook that reads like a novel written on a silver matchbook.

–Teri Youmans

Speaking to and for others who have risen from the commonplace into the exciting but fearsome American dream, Shyla Shehan “can’t even see myself” as she looks in the mirror, just a regular bathroom mirror. Life changes, and, in part two, the speaker of these poems is living in The Castle—watching, worrying, working to fit in and accept. Shehan’s powerful debut is honest, moving, and deeply instructive.

–Steve Langan

Shyla Shehan’s remarkable first collection, Unsuspecting Cinderella, packs a lot of punch in its thirty pages.  The poems of the first section track a female persona through the losses of love and the strangeness of life when one moves through it alone.  The second section follows that same persona into a world of new love and the oddly haunting burden of unexpected affluence.  Throughout, the poems are rich with vibrant language, surprising reversals, and insights into the difficulties of surviving emotionally in our stressful culture.  The collection is both entertaining and moving, not to mention philosophically engaging.  I look forward to seeing a lot more work by this accomplished poet.

–Jim Peterson, author of The Horse Who Bears Me Away

Does including the blurbs help? I guess that’s why they print them on the back of the book. Heh. 

I suppose outside of emailing everyone in my contact list the way my publisher suggests, social media promo is the golden ticket. I know that but I’ve been trying to resist that 💩 for years and now I’m gonna look like a hypocrite trying utilize the twitters and facebooks for this. That’s taking self promotion to the next level. It’s called shameless self-promotion. I also suck at being shameless. 

Ok… so now I’ve started. This here today is a start. Next on my list is to send out emails. I should set a goal and then reward myself with a pedicure or something if I hit my target. The Universe knows I need a little extra motivation to do what needs to be done if I want to sell some books. And I do want to sell some books. I mean, I want to share my poems with as many people as I can and this book is a big part of that. Please buy it. 😂

Cheers to Friday, 

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-11-24 Which Way is Up + 10 Reasons Why Tuesday was Tops Compared to Monday

I swear the Universe is conspiring to mix me around something fierce in a way that leaves me not knowing which direction is up.

Two days ago I was the hot mess I often complain about being here in this semi-anonymous space. Yesterday was like the exact opposite. I felt great and for no damn good reason. I actually finished writing yesterday knowing in my heart today’s writing was going to start with 10 reasons why Tuesday was awesome (except I just said there was no good reason). 

Then last night happened and I’m all like “what the actual hell??!!”

I was stirred awake by one of the cats banging on our bedroom door, which they normally can’t to get to because we close the doors of the room that leads to our bedroom. That was 3:45am and I never was able to go back to sleep. 

It’s now 4:30 in the afternoon and I still haven’t slept or napped or anything that would bring me some relief for my utter exhaustion. What have done instead? 

Well after trying to go back to sleep for like an hour I said fuck it and pulled out my laptop. I had a poem accepted Tuesday for publication (Reason #1 Tuesday was way better than Monday). 

When that happened I promptly realized that I had to withdraw said poem from the 35+ other places it was stull under consideration at. Yowza! 

So I used today’s time in the wee hours to do that but you know what that means. I was on the Submittable platform and looking at all my open submissions and it’s a slippery slope with that “discover” button so close to my mouse pointer. I could not help myself. I started looking and then I started submitting. And before I knew it, it was 7am. 

I got up to cook breakfast and when that was over and Jim was off to work I took my dog-dodo feeling self and matched back up to the spare bedroom, took off my pants, climbed back into bed, and went right back to it. 

On Monday I had had like 3 rejection form letters come in and on Tuesday there were none (Reason # 2). Needless to say my count had dipped and though I said I was going to let it go for the rest of November (maybe the year).. I decided to work my little fingers and get that count back up to 100. Between the withdrawals, acceptance, and rejection, that meant I had to pull the trigger on about 10 submissions. 

After withdrawing the same one poem from 36 places, I wasn’t too keen on having that happen again so I opted to send in some nonfiction. All my polished pieces are flash (under 1000 words) and that got me most of the way there. Then I got stuck. This just means that I kinda ran out of places that fit the pieces I have with deadlines coming up. 

This forced me to turn my attention to my slush pile for something new. All the stuff in that pile is either unfinished, really rough, or has been abandoned. I scrolled through and I’m sure made some terrible scrunchy faces in the process. So much garbage. And then I opened a file, read it, and decided that was the ticket! 

I probably worked for two hours reading and revising. Reading and revising. Reading and revising. You get the gist. 

I subsequently sent that to a few places. It’s my first true hybrid piece.. a personal essay with a poem at the end. Hybrid work is all the rage these days so I’m sure it will be snatched in no time. 

What a relief to feel that way. I’ve lost so much confidence these past few months with all the rejection that even the pre-release of my book this week didn’t lift me up like it should have. Instead I felt like a fraud. Like an imposter poet that is about to be called out because their book doesn’t pass muster. 

Then I read the blurbs on the website, shared the link with a few folks, and had a friend reach out to let me know they’ve already ordered their copy (thanks Vis). This is Reason #3 why my frown turned upside down on Tuesday. 

(Dropping the link here for anyone interested in this so-called book: Unsuspecting Cinderella. Don’t wait, order your scintillating copy today!!)

Anyway, I’ve got a ton of shit done today and my count is back up to 100 despite feeling terrible physically today. 

I tried to nap, but could not so here I am on the treadmill writing out the play-by-play. Which brings me back to the other 7 reasons…

#4: My son is done with school for a week so there will be no homework fights for 5 glorious days. 

#5: I was able to get to my mid-week/pre-turkey day grocery run before the stores got ridiculous. And found the wine my husband has been looking for. 

#6: On a whim I made an appointment to donate blood. Walked in, passed the test, and donated in under an hour. Plus I got a free tee-shirt. Score! 🥅 

If you know me you know this is extremely rare. I usually fail the hemoglobin check and it was 13.6.. WHHHAAAT??!!!

#7: I maximized my time waiting at the Red Cross to book an appointment for Friday at a Walgreens to get my flu shot and Covid booster. Jim too. Woot! 

#8: When I stepped on the scale first thing in the AM, I had lost a pound and a half. 

#9: Despite the low energy and no cardio, I still got 12K steps. 

And finally #10: I was able to finish the first of a long list of posts for the GLR AND posted to social media. 😱😜 I actually feel on top of all that more than I’ve felt in a long while. Like I’ve finally got my act together. Hopefully it’s not just the Universe playing tricks on me. 

Speaking of the Universe, today is as good a day as any to request that the next 4 days are smooth sailing. Thanksgiving with my sometimes dysfunctional family, quality time with my kids on Friday (since they will be with their dad and his family on the actual holiday). I’ve tried to engineer a game day and I hope we can all get along. Saturday and Sunday are pretty open but I have one coffee meet up and then meet with my Co-EIC on Sunday. 

We’ll see, we’ll see. 

Times up my frosty friends. Check you on the flip side. 

The Truest,

~Miss SugarCookie

2021-11-23 Pulling that Pin Out and Tossing it in the Trash 📌

Yesterday I suffered from a mini-existential crisis and wanted to write through it. I wanted to write long enough for my brain to start unlocking the doors to potential answers. Hey.. it’s worked before so why not? 

However life itself got in the way and I truly did not have enough time to get to any meaningful conclusion. Well.. I got glimpses down different avenues of thought but nothing as definitive as a real window with a view. 

Mixed metaphors much? Windows, doors, avenues, oh my! 

Just before I had to exit the writing scene I “put a pin in it” to return today for more. Just before I pushed that proverbial pin into the corkboard of my brain (ouch), I was on the precipice of asking the next question…

Within the context of things that I do or can do that bring my satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment—another project I put work into on the regular is my beloved Good Life Review. I ask myself why the lit mag doesn’t do it for me. I might answer that it does, but it’s so short lived. It’s like any regular job where there are things you like and things you have to do that you don’t like and at this point in time there’s just so much more I don’t want to do that it doesn’t balance out.

Diving deeper, that’s not exactly true. It may not be the tasks I work on themselves because I do enjoy most of it.

I enjoy connecting with other writers and getting to accept their pieces and work with them in a way that (I believe) leaves them with a positive experience. Hearing someone say kind words about me or the lit mag also gives me a warm feeling inside. There’s more to this but let’s move on. 

I enjoy working on the website, editing pages, and producing something beautiful I think people are pleased with. It’s about giving those writers a lovely home for their words. But the WordPress stuff behind the scenes is kind of my jam. As long as WordPress isn’t being a total butthead (that happens). 

I enjoy interacting with people on our editorial team, as long as it’s more like a one-on-one interaction. I dislike team meetings and group conversations frankly because of the whole social anxiety thing and not wanting to be the center of attention.

I don’t like dealing with people issues. With a team this size (approaching 20), it’s sometimes tough to continue making sure people are happy with how things are going. I’m probably failing at this lately but I also don’t think I’m alone in that. 

I love reading most of the pieces our editors pick to accept. I’m impressed by the creativity and craft that comes my way, each story or poem shining a light on some truth of life. Sometimes I’m blown away and that’s a great feeling. That what we are doing is going to allow more people to read and connect and give those writers work a platform. 

However, I don’t like social media which is a necessary evil in the publishing business. I think if I never had to think about it again, it would be a huge weight off my shoulders. I cringe every time the subject comes up. 

I also don’t like sending rejections. The process as we’ve constructed it is probably too time consuming and in general it sucks. It’s never fun delivering unwanted news. It’s part of the business and having been on both sides of the rejection form letter, I know it just is what it is. Yuk! 

Bringing it back around to where I started, with the good stuff, I would say that with this last release (our Autumn issue, one week ago), I realized that the most fulfilling moment is when it’s done and we get to sit back and celebrate. I love sending the “issue live” notification to our contributors and getting there responses lifts me up. But it is so, so short lived. Like the rest of life, the emotions are fleeting and at the end of it all, it’s a damn lot of work for that hot-minute payout. 

Since it’s only been a week I’m still riding that wave (except yesterday, good gravy what was THAT??!!). Ask me today and I’ll tell you we are doing good and it’s so worth it. Wait a month and ask again. Ha!

Anyway. I’m in it to win it now so this whole meandering is probably moot. 

The original question remains. What am I doing with my life? And then I Ask myself, does this question ever have an answer. Is the point just to live it and then you know?

I dunno, I just want to be in the driver’s seat, in control of the direction and speed. I don’t want it all just to happen and check the rear view to find the answers. 

Yesterday was a total bust. From sunup to way past sundown. The feeling of failure followed me all the way to my pillow and the last “good night.” 

It’s days like that where I truly hope the mood really is like the weather in Nebraska, where we can wait a day and it will change. 

And what do you know? Low and behold.. it did! I can’t even begin to explain it but today almost everything has gone my way. I would go so far as to say it’s been magical! Whatever! 😜

I’m sure another bout with self doubt and feeling lost in the world is just around the next bend. Stick around.. it could be a good one. 

As for elaborating on what exactly has gone my way today, it’s just going to have to wait. I’m totally out of time again. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have time to do a deep dive into something more productive, or positive at least. 

As Bugs Bunny says, That’s All Folks.🥕🥕🥕

(Crunches a carrot) ,

~Miss SugarCookie

(Dropping the link here for anyone interested in my book: Unsuspecting Cinderella. Don’t wait, order your scintillating copy today!!)