The 24th Annual Western Reserve Spring Writers Conference

Lakeland clock tower

The 24th Annual Western Reserve Spring Writers Conference will take place at Lakeland Community College on Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. I’m excited to tell you I’ll be hosting one of the sessions, “How to Start and Maintain a Blog.” If you’ve wanted to write your own blog but don’t know where to start, I’ll teach you how to begin, help you brainstorm blog post ideas, and show you how to add pictures and media to enhance your writing, for starters.

Conference Coordinator Deanna Adams will talk about how to organize your novel and how to write your life story when you’re not famous. Sunny McClellan Morton will hold a workshop called “Powerful Words Make Powerful Prose,” and Nicole Eva Fraser will discuss “Ghostwriting for Fun and Profit.”

The cost of the conference is $69, and for an additional fee of $15, you can sign up for prearranged editing sessions with Judy Allen, Elizabeth Irwin, or Diane Taylor. For more information, including a complete list of workshops, the bios of all the presenters and editors, and to register, please click the link to the conference website.

I’ve twice been a panelist at the fall conferences, on how to “Jump Start Your Writing Life” and how to “Build Your Platform with Pinterest,” and I’m looking forward to teaching my first hour-long workshop. I’d love to see you there!

Photo credit: Lakeland Community College

Four New Articles

I’ve been blessed to have four new articles published right around the same time (although I didn’t write them all at the same time). Below are links to two new articles in Profiles in Diversity Journal, one new mom blog post at my parenting blog for FE MediaThe FTM Chronicles, and one new story for Affect Magazine. Please click on the photos to read the stories, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on any or all of the new stuff. Thanks so much for reading!

Profiles in Diversity Journal: To read these articles, please click the photo, then click the zoom button to the right of the magnifying glass.

Student Conservation Association Diversifying National Park Service with Exciting Initiatives

SCA (12) Top Pharmaceutical Executive Pedro Lichtinger on Hispanic Youth Outreach and Diversity as Corporate Culture

Pedro 3 The FTM Chronicles

A Veggie Tale: 11 Ways to Get Toddlers to Eat Vegetables

Veggie Tale Affect Magazine

New Kind of Poetry Slam for Alzheimer’s, Dementia Sufferers

AJK Images- Minds Eye Poetry-37

The Best Pen for Left Handed Writers

Sarasa pen

When I was a child, I learned how to print using #2 pencils and children’s lined writing paper. It felt natural to me to put the pencil in my left hand, resulting in “hooked” writing and pencil lead smeared on the end of my palm and little finger. My teacher tried to persuade me to write with my right hand. She attempted to show me how by holding the pencil and guiding my hand. It felt awful. Horrible. Unnatural. Wrong, even. I refused and told her I needed to write with my left hand. I went home and told my parents about it, and they strongly supported my decision, knowing that I was left handed, just like my dad.

I’ve written all my life with pencil and ink smears on my left hand. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me, although I wouldn’t change it. I just wash my hands when I’m done. It’s a part of my life as a professional freelance writer.

Another part of my life as a professional freelance writer is the tradition my husband has started at Christmas of stuffing my stocking with a pack of pens. I look forward to the pens every year. This past Christmas, my husband hit the mother load and may have solved my left handed ink smearing woes forever.

For Christmas 2014, stuffed in my stocking were a dozen Zebra Sarasa Rapid Dry Ink gel pens in black. Sarasa is one of my favorite pen brands. But the Rapid Dry Ink pens are “ideal for the left handed,” and let me tell you, they live up to that claim. I LOVE them. I may never buy another type of pen ever again. I don’t have any ink on my hand once I’m done writing. It’s amazing. I didn’t think it was possible. Writing by hand has never been more enjoyable.

The Amazon link is not an affiliate link. I am simply so excited about these pens and wanted to share them with you. These pens would be great for right handed writers as well, as the ink is smooth and really does dry in less than a second on paper. For left handed writers, however, these pens are a boon. My only regret is not discovering them sooner, and I’m so grateful my husband saw them and knew how much I’d like writing with such a pen.

What’s your favorite writing instrument?

New Gig at Affect Magazine

Happy New Year to you! I’m excited to share I’m writing for Affect Magazine, an online publication with the goal of “spreading hope and sparking social change conversation.” I enjoy writing about the good in the world as a way to shine light in the darkness. Below are links to the first three stories I’ve written for Affect (click on the photos to read). Thanks for reading, and I hope you not only enjoy the stories, but that they leave you feeling hopeful and inspired. We can make a big difference if we all do a little.

Beyoncé, Desmond Howard & State Bags Bring Hope to Kids in Need

State Bags

Horvath Spotlights @Home-Less in New Documentary

Mark Horvath

The Fab Four: Colleges in Central U.S. Give Back in Unique Ways

Fab Four

7 Things to Do for Yourself as a Mom (Plus 1 Bonus)

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and weekend. My latest post at the parenting blog I write for FE Media is called “7 Things to Do for Yourself as a Mom.” Click the photo to read.



At the end of the post I mention that my list is “by no means complete.” Another self-care activity I enjoy is writing in my journal. I like to free write. I set a timer for 15 minutes and write by hand with the goal of not stopping my pen. I write as fast as I can, whatever comes into my mind.

Recently I learned a new journaling technique I want to share with you. I first heard of it from Monica Cost, a corporate consultant, author of the parenting blog Mom-wise at FE Media, and author of the book The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to Live an Authentic Life with Awesome Emotional Sensations

Monica book


The process works like this: every night before I go to sleep, I write down three things:

1. Something that went well

2. Something I want to accomplish tomorrow

3. Something I’m looking forward to in the future

For example, here’s the list I made the night of November 22:

1. Something that went well: turned in my mom blog post 2 days early

2. Something I want to accomplish tomorrow: write draft of blog post

3. Something I’m looking forward to in the future: watching NFL football

Review your list in the morning. I’ve found since I started doing this, I’m looking for the positives in my day instead of dwelling on negative things that inevitably happen. I’m also accomplishing more. When I write down one thing I want to do that day, and then get it done, I receive an endorphin rush and this usually leads to getting a few more things finished. The third benefit I’ve seen is once the event I’m looking forward to in the future arrives, I’m able to slow down and be present in that moment I’ve been anticipating rather than it flying by in a rush.

If you try this technique, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’d also love to know what you do to relax and recharge, especially during this busy holiday season.

I’m Writing for Moxie Lady!

I’m thrilled to be a contributor for Moxie Lady, a website dedicated to improving women’s lives. For my first article, “Work-at-Home Mom? 5 style tips, starting with ditching the jammies,” image consultant and wardrobe stylist Kristen Kaleal shares her advice to be a stylish WAHM (her tips apply to any woman working from home). Kristen and I discussed the concept of having a uniform other than your pajamas, which frees up mental energy for more important tasks. Our discussion got me to think about my own “uniform,” which consists of:

  • Jeans (jean shorts in summer)
  • T-shirt (or tank top in summer, and I tend to wear plain or sports tees)
  • Nike trail runners (in one of my favorite colors, turquoise)
  • Under Armour ankle socks (these are the best socks EVER!)
  • I pile my hair on top of my head with a coordinating color claw clip, and wear an elastic headband (these ones from Adidas are my favorite right now)
  • Small stud earrings, usually rhinestone
  • A bracelet or cuff, which I use to keep track of which side to nurse my son

Click the photo to read the article for all the tips and feel free to share your own work-from-home uniform and/or fashion advice in the comments. ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Why Blogs are Like Tattoos

For writers, blogs are like tattoos: once you get one you have to have more. I started The Chipper Writer almost four years ago, and two months later joined the lovely ladies at the Cleveland Browns blog Bitter Orange & Brown. Earlier this year I received an invitation from Judith Manigault, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lingk2us Magazine, to blog for FE Media’s collection of parenting blogs called The Mom (and Dad!) Collective. My blog is called The FTM Chronicles: First-Time-Mom Alanna Klapp’s journey into motherhood and beyond. I hope you’ll stop by and visit and say hello. I’ve written three posts so far (links below), and the fourth post (called “The Preposterous Postpartum Baby Bump Presumption”) is slated for publication on December first. Thanks for reading and have a blessed Thanksgiving!