Saturday, April 12, 2014

What Combination of Social Media and/or “Something Other” Has Provided You the Most Success in Marketing?


Those who know me know my limited talents. I write and I talk. I write and talk about subjects for which I have a passion— be it social inequality, telling a story, the virtues of a new product, or a new way of doing something. I’m also a curious person. I want to know how things work. I am technologically challenged when it comes to what button to push or which program to use. However, I am determined to plow through.

I keep hearing in this world of the internet and all things digital, I need to “build a brand.” I have yet to figure out exactly what that means. I took a hiatus from writing a blog so I could concentrate on learning how to build a website and put finishing touches on two books for publication. And, I am in the process of taking a course entitled “Social Media for Dummies.” (Book 1) (Book 2)

 Now I am back writing my blog. I have decided on a different approach. I want this blog to be an exchange of information, not necessarily me telling the reader about what little I know. I am expanding my curious self. I am looking to my readers and followers to provide answers through their comments so everyone can learn. The question I put forth today is: What Combination of Social Media and/or “Something Other” has Provided You the Most Success in Marketing?” Feel free to add links within the body of your comment to whatever it is you are marketing be it a book or a product. (Links must be suitable for all audiences and links that do not answer the question will be removed.)

So please, share your successes or your what worked "bests!"

Friday, July 12, 2013

On Being a Writer


 I have had many careers in my life and I have always been a writer.

The use of the word “and” in the line above is important. Many people would have chosen the word “but.” The nuance of word choice is important to a writer.

I kept a diary for a while in my youth, until it ran out of pages. I turned to spiral notebooks. My writing became a venting of my feelings, opinions (personal and political), short stories, speculations on spirituality, and drafts for “letters to the editor” of my local newspaper. I also drew things in my notebooks, like room arrangements or blueprints for building something myself.

My early writing relieved me of obsessive thoughts swirling in my brain. After writing it down the all-consuming thought was vanquished, sometime later to be unceremoniously pitched in the trash.

My early political writing often resurfaced in public speeches or everyday conversations.

Sometime along the way, like a kindergartener with a crayon masterpiece, I wanted recognition of my work. My blueprints for a bookcase became one. My garden design sketches resulted in vegetable and flower gardens many people enjoyed.

I began the task of submissions and tracking them for my “articles” to magazines and newspapers. I began a collection of rejection letters, taping them to the wall and keeping count, because somewhere I read you are not a serious writer until you have accumulated at least five hundred.

Having a family, running a business, and simple everyday events kept me busy. The only time I wrote was to get those obsessions out of my brain.

Sometimes a story would form and I would fill spiral notebooks. (This was before I could afford a computer.) I wrote several not-so-great masterpieces. Those fantasy worlds I created are now a part of landfills in places unknown, or living forever on hard drives of broken computers stored in a garage. A few of my stories still live in magazines, most of which I am sure, are also fodder for landfills.

And, my world changed. I now have an external hard drive for back-ups. I have no family at home or job to distract me---only emails and Facebook and the World Wide Web.

With the support and encouragement of my family, friends, and a great writers group, (Bartlesville WordWeavers) this year, two of my books are going to be published. One is non-fiction with a targeted audience for real estate professionals and frugal homeowners. The other is a fiction stalker-thriller geared to women, eighteen and over.

Four of my short stories can be found in Seasons Remembered, an anthology which I will be pimping this weekend as a free giveaway on Amazon.com.

Future posts on meanderingmentalmusings.blogspot.com will be geared toward the challenges of being a writer in this wonderful world of computers when one is computer challenged, the celebration of those writers who have overcome the obstacles, and of course, those times I just have to have a mental dump.

Questions and comments are usually appreciated. And, there is a gadget thingy on the side of this page where you can put your email and follow my posts. To be followed and read thrills the heck out of the kindergartener in me.








Please visit my website at Barbarashoff.com

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Nothing Like Leftovers to Make My Day!

This will be short and to the point. I loved this 4th of July celebration because I spent it with family and friends.

I forgot to get my camera out of the drawer. Bummer.

Everyone cleaned up after themselves.

I went to bed with a smile on my face.

I woke up, dressed, and went outside.

I returned to grab my camera, I have an even bigger smile on my face.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Quick Update on My Juicing Adventures


For those who missed my last post, I began juicing about May 18th. I am determined to lose the forty pounds I have put on in the last couple of years. About fifteen pounds jumped to replace the smoking monkey I had on my back. That monkey keeps trying to jump back on, and we have had repeated scuffles. 

I refuse to discuss what my weight was when I started this juicing adventure. Let me just say, the four times I have tipped the scales that high in the past, I was pregnant.

I was only able to continue the total juicing diet four days. I have challenges with will power and I got HUNGRY. 

So, I started eating the swill. That's the pulp left over after one puts the fruits and veggies through the juicer. After four days of only drinking juice, the swill was DELICIOUS cooked as a gruel. The addition of a little Greek seasoning really helped. I lost eight pounds, and used four rolls of toilet paper in four days. 

I continued juicing twice a day, and ate plenty of fresh veggies, fruit, eggs, and tuna.

The juicer died last week... after less than a month of use. Bad news, I threw out the box. No box, no return. Good news. I wrote Black and Decker and got an email saying they will replace it, after I jump through a couple of hoops. I am working to get both feet of the ground... at the same time... without sitting down.

(If you will click on this link, Mary Kincaid has her thoughts this week on gadget boxes.) 

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would suggest the possibility that manufactures of gadgets implant a data strip thread in their boxes. If that data strip is not within x number of feet of the product, its absence triggers a switch within the gadget, causing the gadget to fail. This theory reveals the truth of the ultimate in planned obsolescence. 

Hey! I write fiction as well as non-fiction. 

However, I already believed everything Snowden said, before he said it. And let me say for the record, to those who know me, I TOLD YOU SO!  

Hmmm. I wonder what Snowden would say about the data strip in the box theory?

But, back to the juicing, weight loss, and getting healthier. 

My sister surprised me with the gift of a fancy-schmancy treadmill a few days after I bought the juicer. 

The treadmill is a way for me to combat peripheral artery disease. When I began on the treadmill, I could only walk two minutes at l mph before my legs cramped, seized up and my calves would become as hard as concrete. I can't begin to describe the pain. Just think, charlie-horses in both calves and feet... at the same time. I have doubled my endurance time, and speed, and have gotten a little smarter. I only walk until it starts to hurt before I quit. A little pain, a little gain. But I would say doubling both speed and time is pretty good in a month.

I have done no juicing for a week. I continue eating fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, tuna, and have added some chicken.

And, as of today, stripped naked, and leaning a little to the left on my scale, I HAVE LOST 17 POUNDS! 

Woo hoo!

My motivation? All the professionals were doing, was telling me to watch my diet and giving me more, and more medications. I wasn't getting any better. My diabetes glucose levels continued to climb, (even with controlling carbs) and I was instructed to increase the volume of insulin,  an additonal kind,was added, and I had to increase the number of injections.  

And, of course, I want to feel better because I have two books coming out soon. One fiction and one non-fiction. I need to be in condition to get out and hustle those babies.

Also, some of my friends suggested we need to become leopards. 

Is that right? Suzanne K? Carolyn B, were you going to join us? 

 I was a Wildcat in high school. A Mighty, Mighty, Wildcat.

By the way, I love reading your comments. You can add yours by clicking on the link below. If the link says NO COMMENTS, that is not an instruction. It simply means yours will be the first for this post. Also, if you enjoyed reading this I would really appreciate it if you share it with others. 

I am working diligently to get up to speed on this social networking stuff. There are still things I have to learn. I have been assured by Amazon, The Dummies books I have ordered, are on the way. 




Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Little Prickly Might Be Good For You

Prickly Lettuce

It will come as no surprise to those who know me; I sometimes do what others might consider some pretty crazy stuff.  Still other people just give me a thumbs-up and say, “Cool.” Hey, at my age this is my idea of living on the edge.

So today I have decided to share a new adventure. 

I watched this really amazing movie on Netflix a few days ago, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.

Because I have felt lousy for over a year, and despite following doctor's orders, and taking pills that seem to make me feel worse, I have decided to follow the lead of the star of this movie, Joe Cross, and perform a reboot of my body, by doing what is now popularly being called “juicing.” The idea, detoxify your system by ingesting nothing but vegetable and fruit juices for a period of time.

Because I don’t have a lot of money to throw at this project, I decided to purchase the cheapest high-rated juicer I could find. And since even Craigslist had nothing but machines way out of my price range, I researched Amazon customer reviews. Most of what came up on my search were still expensive.


I found a Black and Decker juicer for around $40 at Wal-Mart, but I hadn’t read any reviews on that particular juicer. I came home empty handed not wanting to waste $40. I checked the Amazon reviews for the Black and Decker juice extractor and was happy to find the juicer had lots and lots of five star scores. I checked Big Lots and they had the same unit for $10 less. Oh yeah!  I was out the door. I was pleased, excited and I decided to take it as a sign from the heavens that I am really suppose to do this juicing thing because I was able to snag the display model for only $19.00. (They still had some in stock, but I grabbed the display because it showed the cheaper price---which means of course there is another display unit out now. Go for it!)

On a roll, I headed to the grocery store. Good grief! The cost of fresh produce has gone up over night. I purchased a few things to get me started and here is where I decided to take this project to a whole new level. A level which might be considered crazy by some. (I will share more crazies about this adventure in future blogs.) I started studying the contents of my yard. A yard that hasn't been mowed since my son, Stonie blessed me several weeks ago. (Since then I have used the excuse that the yard has just been too wet.)

I identified one weed known as “Prickly Lettuce” and discovered it is not only edible, it is  also very nutritious. So, out I went this morning and harvested enough for at least two servings of juice today and left at least a weeks worth still growing in my backyard and driveway.

Feeling quite brilliant and smug I set to the task. My new juicer went to town.  I was surprised at the amount of juice in those freshly picked and washed Prickly Lettuce leaves. There was no doubt, I had harvested enough leaves for at least three, maybe four glasses of juice.  

I read up on the plant and should have known enough to pay attention to the information, “mature leaves can be quite bitter.”

Now the idea of juicing is to add a mix of 80% veggies and greens to 20% fruit, such as Granny Smith apples, lemons, and limes. The key word being MIX.

Whatever possessed me to stick my finger in the catch cup of the juicer to taste the beautiful deep green Prickly Lettuce juice I do not know. 

Let me assure you, it was the vilest, nastiest, most disgusting, BITTER (in capital letters, bold and red, to the point I had to spell this out instead of just doing it) taste I have ever experienced in my life. 

But what to do? I hate to waste anything. And I knew there sat a full half container of all sorts of nourishing live micro-nutrients and anti-oxidants and phyto-thingys that were really good for me. A quick Google search gave me my answer. I added half an apple, 2 stalks of celery, and a whole lime. It was still bitter, and nasty but I managed to get it down. The mix probably needed another half an apple, a couple of carrots and a handful of grapes, to make it taste good, but the idea is to keep the natural fructose limited.

You might want to skip mowing a week or so and traverse your yard to see if you have this nutrient rich weed growing wild and join me in my adventure of juicing.  Or just try some Prickly Lettuce to cut your produce costs.

I understand Prickly Lettuce is quite tasty cooked and sautéed in bacon fat with crispy bacon sprinkled on top. But hey, I’m juicing. The fresher the better, so I'll hold firm for harvesting and juicing my Prickly while it's standing at attention straight and tall. 

I will keep everyone posted on my juicing progress. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

WE WERE ONE


Listen to Your Mother-OKC  2013

  
Julie Bohannon, Misti Pryor and Heather Davis were the producers and directors of this single event smash hit that reminded OKC what real connection is all about. Thank you. You did a fabulous job.

But I must confess---it was the audience that made the Oklahoma City premier Listen to Your Mother presentation the awesome spectacular moment in history that it was.

In an early celebration of Mother’s Day, over 400 people crowded into the Will Roger’s Theater to listen to a group of writers sharing with strangers, family and friends their personal perspectives on motherhood.  (Tickets were sold out three times and seats kept being added until the event became standing room only.) The audience didn’t really know what to expect and was ready for anything.

I was blessed to be one of those writers.

As a group we had one “sit-around-a-table” read through rehearsal with most of the writers a week ago. (Thank you Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma.) It took two days for my snot filled sinus cavities to clear. And though I am not certain, I think I developed a hernia from laughing so hard.

On Sunday May 5, 2013, we congregated in the green room a couple of hours before show-time. We did our best to soothe each other’s nerves with deep breathing exercises, small talk, munching on snacks and to-die-for-smoothies provided by Juice Blendz. Thank you Juice Blendz.

Shortly after everyone arrived, Misti Pryor lined us all up like a brood of ducklings and marched us to the stage, instructing us to find our “comfortable spot” and take a seat on the beautiful set provided by NorwalkFurniture.
   
It was then---looking out at the auditorium and all those empty chairs crowded together, empty chairs that would soon be filled with real live people, real live people that would include for me, a sister, a niece, a son and a daughter---it was then--- I realized I was going to need to pop an Imodium and pray it would be fast acting.

Misti must have noticed the look on my face. She smiled and said, “Don’t worry, the house lights will be down and you will see nothing but stage lights and a black void.”   I think she meant to be reassuring.
 
We each did a walk to the podium practice--- stepping up on a two-foot by two-foot wooden riser. We each spoke a few words to make sure the microphone was adjusted properly before returning to our seats.

Then Misti asked, “Any questions?”

I had an immediate flashback forty-four years, to a small group tour of the labor and delivery room where I gave birth to my first child. Three women behind the curtains were obviously in “transition.” The nurse giving the tour asked that very same question.  And the exact same thought played in my mind. “Is there any way I can back out now?”  And in almost the same moment, I remembered the result of moving past my fears forty-four years ago. I was blessed with a remarkable son and the entry into the awesome and sometimes heart-breaking world of motherhood.

“I can do this.” I repeated that mantra all the way back to the green room where I immediately found the Imodium and downed it with a swig from a bottle of water.

When Misti finally called out, “It’s shoooow-time!” The Imodium indeed proved it was fast-acting. However once on stage, I noticed the two-foot by two-foot wooden platform had shrunk to a 2-inch square.

But, as Misti promised, beyond some vague outlines in the front row, I could see no one.

But each and every one of us on that stage could feel the audience. The energy of their spirits reached out--- enveloping us with compassion and love, and there was a transformation---there was no longer --- a “me”, a “he”, or a “she”. There was no longer an “us” or a “them”.

WE WERE CONNECTED.

WE WERE.

ONE.

And that’s what motherhood is really about.



Oklahoma's Inagural Production Cast- Listen to Your Mother 2013 Back row, Left to Right: Lisa Raley, Brandi Barnett, Erika Cerda-Dixon, Amy Herrington, Sheradee Hurst, Alexandra Bohannon, Julie Bohannon, Front row, Left to right: Liz Cole Parker, CW Bardsher, Barbara Shoff, Mari Farthing, Suzanne Kelley, Jennifer McMurrain, Carolyn Bechtold, Heather Davis, Misti Pryor.



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Santa


I guess it was sometime between the first and second grade, I was probably not yet seven, that one of my older siblings informed me there was no Santa Claus. I refused to believe it and ran to my mother so she would set them straight. I could tell my mother was upset---someone was going to get a spanking for lying, and I was ready to watch.

But instead of getting the tattle-tale satisfaction (okay, I could be a disloyal, poopy little brat when it came to my twenty-one month older, twin brother and sister siblings) my mother told me--- they were right.

I was devastated. How could so many people have lied to me for so long? How had I been so deceived? I had been made to look the total fool. For probably one of the first times in my life, my little over-inflated ego had the wind knocked right out of it. 

I ran to my bedroom crying.  I refused to be consoled. Mama tried to sit on the bed and explain to me, but I just shoved and kicked her away. There was nothing I wanted to hear from her. She was nothing but a big fat liar. She had been asking me just the day before what I wanted Santa to bring me that year.  It was all a huge joke. ON ME.

I guess I cried myself to sleep because the next thing I knew, Daddy was waking me up for dinner. I was experienced enough to know that Daddy wasn't someone I could kick and get away with it. Besides, I remember even now how my head hurt. The fight and angry had been cried right out of me, replaced with the aching, gnawing pain of disappointment.

Daddy sat there telling me how upset I must feel. Boy, my Daddy was smart.  He consoled me and was finally joined by Mama who sat with him on the side of my bed. Mama explained, “Honey, Santa may not be a real live human being. And the make believe Santas of the world may dress up in red and white costumes with beards---but there is still a part of Santa who is real.”

Hey, fool me once--- I may have been a little kid, but I was a lot smarter than they gave me credit for--- but to appease them I listened.

“His spirit lives right here…” Daddy took my hand and put it on his chest, “in people’s hearts. Santa is the spirit of giving---just to make people happy.”

I thought about that.  I wasn’t sure I believed it, but I thought about it.  

And every year after that, at Christmas when I got a gift and the card read “Santa” (and I got them as long as my parents were alive---until I was almost forty) I knew who to thank.  And my parents would smile and act surprised, like they didn’t have any idea where those gifts came from.

I am--- well we won’t go into exactly how old I am, because a part of me is still that egotistical little brat--- anyhow, last week, with my Daddy and Mama long gone--- a girlfriend called and said that an anonymous source had a gift for me.

I am so thrilled to let my writer friends know--- I will be in attendance with you at this year’s Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc. Conference in Norman.

So, thank you Santa.  Thank-you for your spirit of giving---you made the little girl, in this old woman very, very happy.

Thank-you too…whoever you are--- for proving to me, Mommy and Daddy were telling me the truth, after all.