me 2012

NEWSFLASH! Life isn't always fair. Film at 11.

First off, I would like to say how absolutely THRILLED I am that I placed 2nd in the very first "SquidWoot" challenge. As soon as I got struck by an idea, I was obsessed with working on the lens all day - including being barely able to contain myself when I had to spend a few hours in Philly before I could rush to the farm stand and buy some fresh fruit, whatever was on hand, and hope I could make a great-looking batch of gelato, photograph it, and write it all up by the deadline. I got my submission in around 4pm EST yesterday, got word I'd come in second at about 9:30pm - a half-hour after the deadline. It was thrilling - and also sweet to come right in the middle of my favorite TV show, MasterChef!

What WASN'T so thrilling to me was seeing all the negative comments and complaints about the challenge all over the SquidooHQ blog, like here. I get it that it sucks when a particular challenge, contest or other activity doesn't exactly fit your schedule. And I do think it might be nice if HQ could change the day of the week for some of the future challenges.


Let us remember a few things, here.

1. It's VERY VERY EASY to look up time zones around the world on-line. Hi, WorldClock!

2. Yes, I know some of you have "real jobs" so can't put time into Squidoo on a weekday. Remember that for some of us Squidoo IS a real job. I have spent enough years of my life while slaving in a retail store, and still working craft shows, to appreciate my time off on the weekends. I get the bulk of my Squidoo writing done during weekDAYS because that is when I try to concentrate on my WORK. A challenge that only ran on a Saturday or Sunday would likely be impossible for me to complete as those are my "days off" to work on other things.

3. Sure, it's nice to win a prize. I would have loved that 1st place iPad. But longterm-success on Squidoo does not come down to contest/Quest entries. It's about building a solid portfolio of lenses that will pay out over years. Hey, sure, it's sweet my Gelato lens shot right to Tier 1 overnight-but guess what? It sort of means *nothing* unless it has staying power, because I won't see any ranking payout from the lens until NEXT MONTH. Unless my keyword research is good, unless I build links, unless my *content is solid and unique*, it could just as easily drop like a stone into T3 or worse by the beginning of August, and then it's worth nothing more than the (admittedly cool) hoodie I'm getting for being in 2nd place.

So yeah. I think perhaps a bit of perspective is a good thing. Quests and challenges are great things on Squidoo. But they won't make or break your overall success.
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me 2012

PBS OFF BOOK fails at fan art

Honestly, I wish mainstream media (even Public Broadcasting Mainstream Media) would just try NOT to analyze/talk about fan culture. At all. They just inevitably mess it up and make me cringe, like they did in their recent "webisode" of a series called OFF BOOK.

OFF BOOK: Fan Art proposes to look at the creative world of fan artists, where "Limited only by the imagination of the artist, the fan art world is full of surprises and brilliance."

Only according to PBS, it seems that the world of fan artistry is limited to men.

How could they not include a single solitary woman fan artist in this nearly 10-minute program? Particularly when they even include some brief mentions of slash-themed art, an area that is basically, um, completely dominated by female fan artists? When I think back on my many years of attending media conventions, I'd say at least 90% of the most well-known and beloved fan artists in my circles were/are women: TACS, Suzan Lovett, Karen Rivers, Leah Rosenthal, Lorraine Brevig...there are countless more.

Could it be that many female fan artists - unlike the male "fans" presented by OFF BOOK - are not graphic design students/hopeful-professionals looking to build and promote a portfolio? Most female fan artists I know do it out of pure love for their fandom sources, as complete amateur artists (even if they are extremely gifted, talented, and trained in art techniques.) They aren't looking to "break in" to a graphic design job. They just want to share with others, and what little money they might make off art sales is just to pay their way to attend fannish conventions and other gatherings.

The whole program struck a really sour note in me - not just from the "outsiders" perspective on the subject that felt off, but this disturbing erasure of women's importance in fan art and general fannish history. If it bothers you as well, I encourage you to leave a comment on the PBS Arts website about it, or tweet @pbsoffbook where they might actually bother to take a look.
me 2012

It's quite exciting... start the month of May with four lenses in Tier 1 instead of my usual two. However, I'm not sure they'll be able to all stay in T1 for the entire month, but I'll be happy if two of those stay where they are and I at least get a T2 payment out of the others.

I'm feeling a bit burned out on lenswork at the moment, as in April I really went a bit overboard and finished 14 new lenses and did a lot of work on some older ones. But that's okay as I have a lot of other things I should be focusing on this month, including getting back to my jewelry work in time for this summer's conventions, the first of which (Media*West) is only a few weeks away. I also need to get outside more as soon as the weather is less unpredictable, and work on my vegetable garden. The seedlings I started inside are getting crazy big, but we still had frost last week, and then this week was too rainy to get outside much. It is exciting though to see some of the foxglove I started as seeds last summer just getting ready to bloom. I've missed having foxglove in my garden the way my mom does, and they aren't the easiest plants to get started from seeds. It encourages me to pick up some more seeds this week and see what other varieties I can get started for next year.
me 2012

It's been a pretty exciting Squidoo week for me!

Well, let's see. I published my entry for the Squidcademy Awards, a lens about Philadelphia's Magic Gardens, on Saturday. By Sunday it was featured on the Squidoo homepage for the week and it's already ranked at #2,683 - nearly in Tier 1. Of course the question will be if it can keep performing like that after May 1 when I can begin earning Tier payments from it...

Then, on Tuesday, a lens I'd just done a little touch-up work on to try to improve its rank received a Purple Star and got a write up on SquidooHQ for Purple Spotlight. The lens, on a pretty obscure niche topic in painting (Verdaccio), jumped from about 11,000 in rank to #742. Of course, not soon enough to average out in T1 for April but I should at least get a T2 payment for it now, and perhaps it can keep building momentum for a while.

So yep, a good week for Squidoo and a good way to end up the month, looking at 2 lenses easily averaging in T1 and probably my most ever in T2 at one time. Things just keep getting better and wonderful Squidoo is so addictive!
me 2012

Don't Ignore Me: My Message to the Infertility Community

This post is in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28 2012, and the Bloggers Unite challenge.

The Infertility Community on-line can be a wonderfully supportive place. In a world that so often ignores the pain and hardships of discovering you suffer from infertility, it is a huge relief and blessing to be able to find others who have been there, who understand, whom you can rant and rave to when faced with insensitivity and lack of understanding from friends, family members, and even random strangers who don't get why a casual question like "Do you have children?" can hit you like a slap in the face.

Except, sometimes I actually feel like I don't belong in the infertility support community, or am not as welcome in it as others. Because I'm not going through any fertility treatments yet - nor am I sure if I ever will, or pursue alternative family building methods including adoption.

So much of the emphasis on a lot of IF messageboards, blogs and Facebook pages is about fertility treatment discussions, triumphs and tragedies with them, and I totally accept and am fine with that, really. But...what about those of us who are not sure we want to go down that path? Right now it's a simple matter of me not even being able to consider it, because I'm not in a financial position to do so. I went as far as the first $500 bloodwork screening last year, and then was told the next step would be a laparoscopy (my second; the first I needed because of a dermoid ovarian cyst cost me over $5000 several years ago) and that's when I stopped. I'd only just finally bought a house that cost me nearly all of my life savings because, being self-employed, I couldn't get a mortgage or even then a loan against my house. The idea of needing anywhere from $10,000 - 50,000+ more to undergo treatments that may or may not work, it's just not gonna happen for me right now.

Beyond the financial aspects, I'm not sure I want to put myself and my partner through the emotional and physical turmoil of IF treatments. I see how difficult it's been on friends of mine (both "real life" friends and "on-line" ones), many of whom had their relationships nearly fall apart from the stress - some even were driven to such depression that they became nearly suicidal. Adoption is a possibility I have been starting to research, but again, money is a factor, as well as mine and my partners' ages, the fact we aren't married yet, and a lot of other reasons that I know will not make the process particularly easy for us whether we were to try domestic or international adoption.

I do want to have a child, but I also love the life I have right now. I love my partner, I love our relationship, I love saving what spare money we are able to sock aside to enjoy traveling and art and making a wonderful life together. I'm not willing to put that life on hold for something that may be impossible or cost us too much beyond the financial price tag. And sometimes I feel like, within the Infertility Community, that means I don't want a baby "enough". Because I'm not willing to sacrifice everything in pursuit of that dream. And it is still very much a dream that I hold on to, but right now, perhaps, I have to put more of my efforts into coming to terms with a future that may mean my family remains a family of two (plus cats), not three or more. A child-less future - not child-free, because I still consider that a term that implies an active choice of not wanting children. I want children, I just can't seem to make it happen naturally. And so I'm left right now trying to find peace and acceptance, giving it up to God and His Will as to what my future will hold.

So yes, I'd like to see more room in the Infertility Community for those who are trying to accept a childless life. I'd like to see organizations like RESOLVE give us more support too, and not make it seem like this is merely the "last resort option" for those who have tried every method desperately to have a child and failed. I don't consider myself a failure; I just consider myself someone who wants to accept and enjoy the life I have now without sacrificing it to a dream that might never be realized. Don't ignore me because I'm following a different path in my infertility journey. Don't treat me different if my choices are different from your own. Let's all learn to respect and support each other, please, because we face enough challenges and misunderstandings from the fertile world already.

Infertility 101
Learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week
My personal page about NIAW
me 2012

Yay, payday!

Despite saying we wouldn't get our Squidoo payday this month until after the 16th, it actually showed up on my dashboard today. Yay! My second month earning over $200 on Squidoo. I'm happy. I have a goal to get to $500 a month, but I know that will take a while.

Meanwhile, I've been cranking out more "quick" lenses which I may eventually put up for sale, once I build a few niches and establish if they're salable or not. To date, these are my potentially "for sale" lenses:

* Moss Agate Jewelry
* Rainbow Fluorite Jewelry
* Labradorite Jewelry
* MercyMe Fan Page
* I Blame Coco

I of course reserve the right to not sell any of these if they suddenly shoot up into T1 in the meantime :)
me 2012

Trying something new with Squidoo...

So I've been following the Buying and Selling Squidoo Lenses Facebook group for a while, even though I've never bought a lens before - and I'm not especially interested in doing so, either. I like working on my lenses from the ground up, using my own words, etc.

But I'm thinking about working on some new lenses with the sole purpose of selling them. Not lenses that would take an awful lot of time to set up, but good basic starter lenses for people that are more interested in doing things like constantly monitoring Amazon links for expiring/sold out products and stuff like that. Which happens a lot on jewelry lenses, and I find them tedious to maintain.

So I basically want to try to create a starter set of about 20-30 lenses, ones that shouldn't take me more than 1-2 hours each to build and basically promote, and then see if I can sell them after a month's "test marketing". Because while I hate to give away lenses that might eventually become big successes, it would be nice to get some quick cash for lenses that don't take me a lot of time to build and create.

I'm going to be starting with jewelry sales lenses featuring different, more unusual stones. This is the first one I've created for this project/idea:

Moss Agate Jewelry.
me 2012

I've just got to LOL...

My favorite conspiracy theory so far regarding Squidoo and the new duplicate content filter? Is that it's all part of an evil liberal government conspiracy to shut down conservative and (Christian) religious content on the internet. Because if a Bible scripture lens got locked for duplicate content, it's OBVIOUSLY all part of some greater left-wing conspiracy to censor the 'net and stifle right-wing thoughts.

Clearly. Of course. Because Glen Beck, Jesse Ventura and their fellow ditto-heads said it, it must be true.

(Note I'm not even a liberal. I'm a Libertarian. Which makes me more subject to mocking than just about anyone ELSE these days.)

Meanwhile, I'll just keep writing original content about things that I love and know so well, I don't need to copy and paste from elsewhere. Like my recent Stewart Copeland Soundtrack Discography. Obscure topic? Maybe. But it's what I know, and what I like.
me 2012

For what it's worth...

I haven't had a single lens locked or flagged yet since the new Squidoo filter for duplicate content was launched. Of course it could still happen, I suppose, but I do write all of my content myself, and have very, very rarely copied any product descriptions or reviews from Amazon or elsewhere. My method/motto is, if I don't know a product well enough to talk about it from personal experience? I shouldn't be trying to sell it. I link out heavily to all of my references, I only write about topics I'm personally passionate about. I think that goes a long way toward creating quality lenses.

I'm not saying there aren't "false positives" resulting from the new filters. But. But. I feel like some of the extreme resistance to the new filter is coming from folks unwilling to admit that just copying & pasting content from Amazon and elsewhere, based on trying to jump on the newest "hot topic" bandwagons, isn't going to keep up with those who are writing about things they know, love, and want to share for reasons beyond commercial success. I can only write about things I love, and I only want to try to sell products related to the things I'd love.