2015 Very Inspiring Blogger Award…Paying it Forward

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I’m delighted to start 2015 off with a big thank you to Joseph at A Cup of Joe for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! One of my resolutions (and you know how I feel about those) is to more actively engage with the online blogging community, so being nominated for the award was the perfect opportunity to do just that.

It was a pleasant surprise to hop on the blog the second day of the New Year and find out a full-fledged Pyro-wizard nominated me for an award! Thank you very much, Joseph.

I’m really enjoying your posts and I’ve followed a few of the other bloggers you’ve nominated as well. Here’s to all of us having a very creative and prosperous 2015! I hope we can ALL have a bottle of wine and share a few stories someday as well.

Here are the three things that inspired me this week:

  1. My Twitter Community. Always good for a laugh, great writing advice, or support in the form of a playful jab and a mocking tweet, these folks really inspired me in many ways this week. Some of them have blogs that I’ll be nominating as well. You should definitely FOLLOW them and say that Paul sent you!
    1. Ksenia Anske @kseniaanske – her acerbic and grumpy tweets are hilarious and always an inspiration. When I was feeling down about my WIP, she asked her Twitter community to show me some support and they did! Her books are like romantic fever dreams that have a dark beauty and poetic beating heart. I’m very grateful to have her in my community.
    2. Laurence Lau @Laurencelau10 – is brand new to Twitter and has quickly become an important part of the online community. He always has inspirational words of wisdom and shares generously of his time with his Twitter followers. We’ve met IRL (in real life) and I love hanging out with him to talk about art, poetry, theatre, film, television and life in general. He’s a great actor, too, and I’m really glad I’ve gotten to know him over the past few months.
    3. Adam Dreece @AdamDreece – is a force to be reckoned with on Twitter! He’s über engaging, plus he’s funny and smart and an overall mensch. His The Yellow Hoods books are adventurous whirlwinds filled with engaging characters that make you care about them. He’s also created a delightful steampunk world for them to inhabit. Book Three is about to be released soon, keep an eye out for it!
    4. Debi Smith @DebiVSmith – says she’s an island girl stuck in the Midwest who tries not to take herself too seriously. I’ve really been enjoying our conversations. She’s upbeat and funny and likes to engage on Twitter. I’ll be looking for more of her writing in the months to come.
  2. Visiting my wife’s mother in the nursing home. It sucks to be old. Spend any amount of time in a nursing home and you’ll learn that in the first five minutes. Your body doesn’t work the way it used to. Strangers are always telling you what to do. You forget things that you’ve said two minutes before. It’s sad, but it’s true. Being in the nursing home was inspiring because it reminded me that I have to live fully now. I can’t put off until tomorrow those things I say I want to do. If I keep putting them off, I may wake up some day in one of those hospital beds saying, “I wish I would have…” I don’t want that to happen. My wife and I are making plans for the coming year filled with adventure, love, creativity, health, prosperity and joy. We’ve also been spending as much time with mom as we can.
  3. Losing my holiday gift. I received a quad-copter as a gift this holiday season. It’s a small plastic drone with four whirring propellers and a prop guard. There’s a remote control that connects to the little flying machine and it takes some effort to learn how to fly the darn thing without crashing it into my face. I try to fly it every chance I get and I LOVE it. (Anything about flying makes me jump up and down with joy!) It zips around in the air like some kind of friendly insect and with the push of a button and the right timing you can make it flip forward, backward or side to side. When I was at my Dad’s for the holidays, I took the little copter out for a spin in the backyard. It was cold, and a bit windy, but where I was standing there wasn’t enough wind to blow the copter off course. Problem was, when I got the copter above the house, the wind was whipping around with such force that the little drone shot up into the air about 100 feet and headed off downtown! I bolted out into the alleyway, struggling to get the copter back under control with the remote, but it wasn’t responding. I watched in despair as it flew off above the treetops, then dropped from site somewhere in the middle of the neighborhood. I searched high and low for the little copter, climbing into bushes, looking through fences, tramping through people’s yards. No luck. I had my middle son come with me. He was no help. He just had wild theories about it being abducted by aliens and taken off to some other corner of the universe. I finally gave up in defeat and went to have some lunch with my family. Fortified, we stepped back into the cold. “I have a feeling we’re going to find it,” I announced. My wife was mad. She bought me the copter and I lost it after only two or three days. My son and I went searching again, this time down a different alleyway. My wife was in the car (it was 14 F, -10 C) and she had the five-year-old and the two older teenagers with her. While my son and I looked in garbage cans, trees, and on rooftops, she was driving around searching for it as well. Just as we were about to give up again, we heard “FOUND IT!” from down the alleyway. We ran as hard as we could and they took off in the car, laughing. When we finally caught up to them, sweating and out of breath, there it was, the little copter, unharmed. It had just been sitting in someone’s yard, untouched for about four or five hours. Needless to say, I was very happy to get my holiday present back. I immediately wrote my phone number and email address on the little copter just in case it took off on its own again. The reason this was such an inspirational moment for me is that it taught me that sometimes you have to stop searching for something and rest. You don’t have to give up for good, just for a little while. If it’s something that matters to you, you’ll get back to it and look in as many different places using as many different methods that you can to find the answer, I mean, the copter, until you succeed in finding it. I hope to remember this lesson throughout 2015.

And now, here are my nominations for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award 2015 (in no particular order). I chose 12 Bloggers to nominate because the number 12 seems to be particularly important to us as humans. There are 12 months in a year, 12 inches to a foot, 12 signs of the Zodiac, 12 Tribes of Israel, 12 Disciples of Jesus, 12 Days of Christmas, 12 grades in school, 12 hours in a day, 12 hours in a night, the human body has 12 cranial nerves, it is the number of Function keys (F1-12) on most keyboards, and so on (to the power of 12).

  1. Adam Dreece – Author of The Yellow Hoods
  2. Reflections of a Book Addict – Kimberly Denny-Ryder tries to read 100 books a year
  3. Bucket List Publications – travel, adventure and new experiences
  4. Diary of a Milkaholic Clown – propofool or milk of magnesia, bizarre shit, writing, astrology
  5. Ramblings of the Chocolate Wasted – Debi Smith’s Blog
  6. The Bee Writes – writing, books, authors & FREE resources
  7. Adora Herveaux – Aspiring women’s fiction author writing about love, life and relationships
  8. Alexandria Ingham – Freelance Writing and Blogging Mentor
  9. Miss Snark’s First Victim – A blog for aspiring authors
  10. Lemon & Raspberry – writer, editor, photographer, encourager
  11. Ben Willoughby’s Blog – writer with an unnatural fear of toilets
  12. Ksenia Anske – Fantasy Writer

I want to thank each of you for your sense of humor, your inspiring writing and for making the internet a really cool place to hang out.

I’d also like to hear from as many of you as I can, so I’ll keep the rules for accepting your award short and simple. Please follow these three guidelines when accepting your award:

  1. Write a blog post thanking the person who nominated you by linking to his/her blog and please display the award logo in the post.
  2. Nominate at least 5-15 other blogs (more or less). Link to their blogs and let them know about the nomination.
  3. Mention three things that inspired you the most this week (you can talk about last week’s inspiration too).

If you don’t accept, no hard feelings, just keep doing what you’re doing to be so inspirational! Thank you for sharing your stories with me. They truly are the wildest things!

Blogger Award Nomination: The Liebster Award

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A big thank you to the wonderful and talented Melissa at A Teaching Parent for nominating me for The Liebster Award!

I’ve been out adventuring around the country for the past few weeks, so it took me awhile to respond to this request. Since I have some downtime on the film set I’m working on, I wanted to catch up on this post and try to get it out today.

According to Melissa, The Liebster Award is a way to show appreciation and interest in new bloggers and the blogging community. By participating, I can share the love and nominate a few of my favorite blogs as well. It’s a nice way to recognize some of the great content out there in the blogosphere that you might have missed.

I’m moved by the response Stories are the Wildest Things has gotten since being Freshly Pressed by Cheri Lucas Rowlands at WordPress.com and I happily accept my nomination. In the spirit of the Liebster Award, here are my 11 Facts About Me.

1. I have three wonderful sons and when I think about them the theme song from the old 1960’s television program, My Three Sons, plays in my head. This phenomenon is called an earworm. If you’ve seen Disney’s Frozen, you definitely know what an earworm is. (For more on earworms from HowStuffWorks.com, click HERE.)

2. Like a lot of us, I have many ways of being creative in the world. In addition to being a writer, I’m also an actor (with a different stage name). My wife and I met playing Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for inner-city schools in Baltimore, Maryland. We stayed friends throughout the years and when we both ended relationships, we got back together and have been together ever since. Our lives are filled with creativity and joy and I’m very grateful for that.

3. The avatar I use on my blog and Twitter account is a photo of my 4-year-old son that I took with my iPhone. I love iPhoneography!

4. My middle son did a parody of the viral video “David after Dentist” called “David after Donuts” that got some serious hits (92K last time I checked). It was his idea and he did a great job. You can still see it on YouTube.com. He’s now almost 13 and has a mustache and a really deep voice.

5. The Department of Cultural Affairs once selected my poem, Sometimes the Coat Closet, for a program called Dial-a-Poem, Chicago (312.346.3478).

People could call in to hear a poet read their poem into an old-fashioned tape answering machine.  For some reason, people thought my poem about a young man having a dream about dancing naked in the coat closet with his second-grade teacher was offensive (“porn and smut”) and they called into a radio show and the Chicago Tribune to report it.

During a typical week, Dial-a-Poem got about 450 to 800 calls. The week my poem aired, they got about 8000 calls! Mike Royko, the professional curmudgeon from the Chicago Tribune, did a column about the poem saying he would’ve never danced naked in a coat closet with his second-grade teacher. He said he reached out to me, but I never got a phone call. This was pre-digital, pre-internet, pre-cellphones, so 8000 hits was a lot! I also did a lot of poetry readings in dive bars in those days and met some really great writers.

6. I was a wrestler in middle school. (This video is not me, just a video of middle school wrestlers.)

I was a terrible wrestler, but I stuck with it. I was really near-sighted without my glasses (still am) and hated working out and could never cut weight like my teammates could. I lost every match I ever wrestled except once when I dislocated the guy’s arm trying to roll him over my back. I had to wrestle his older brother in the very next match. He pinned me in about three seconds. It hurt. We went to McDonald’s with my “second place” trophy. I’ve associated McDonald’s with shame and embarrassment ever since. (I still occasionally stop by for a Shamrock Shake in March, though. Minty!)

7. I moved from Chester, Pennsylvania, an inner-city murder capital, to a rural farm community as a young boy. Our mail route was RD3 (Rural Delivery 3). We were even farther out than RD1 and 2.

This was a shock because I went from being threatened with being shot if I wandered into a neighbor’s yard in the city to seeing herds of cows wandering down our street. We’d call the farmer on our open party line, if no one else was using the phone in the neighborhood, to let him know the gate was open.

Our babysitter, Helen, was 80-years-old and didn’t have running water or an indoor toilet until the late 1980’s. We’d pump water, gather coal for the stove, play in the barns, use the outhouse, slop the pigs, gather eggs and run and run. She gave us coffee with milk from the cows and iced lemon cookies every day after school. It was bliss.

8. The video game Rage of the Gladiator uses my voice for a top-level boss, the grand master of the Ottakawa school of martial arts, Master Yee.

9. I went to Catholic school AND starred in an 80’s version of a beloved Jewish children’s television program called The Magic Door  (Dan Castellaneta of The Simpson’s was also on this show). My family background is Pennsylvania Dutch Mennonite and I hung out with the Amish and got to drive a horse and buggy when I was younger. I often went to auctions and heard callers like Leroy Yoder. My ex-wife is Russian Orthodox and I practice Dudeism and officiated at the marriage of a couple in a skydiving wedding.

10. I’m allergic to pineapple and watermelon. Thankfully, I am not allergic to peanuts, because I love peanut butter (even if you can’t make diamonds from it).

11. I have way too many books.

My answers to Melissa’s questions:

Why did you start your blog?

Stories are my life. I’ve always loved to write and to read about writing. I’ve taken a long hiatus from writing and wanted to document my journey of coming back with Stories are the Wildest Things. I started this blog to share what I discover with others who are on the same journey. I wanted to explore the problems and joys I (and other writers) have with writing and share how we’ve solved those problems or experienced those joys. I also love to learn and this blog has been a great way to continue learning.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I’m in the middle of writing and I get interrupted. It’s like I go into a trance-like state or something and I’m living inside the writer’s world. If anyone knocks me out of it, it takes me awhile to get back into the flow of things. It physically hurts sometimes. What’s even worse, though, is technological glitches. You work for an hour or so on a post or a story and then it disappears into the ether. That’s painful. I have to get better at hiding from people when I’m writing and backing up my work.

What is your favorite post that you’ve written (provide a link!)?

The post that has gotten the most views was one I wrote while taking a really long shower and thinking about what to write about. It’s called 10 Ways to Know You’re a Writer (one of which is taking really long showers while thinking about what to write about). I’ve really been enjoying meeting everyone and connecting with so many talented and creative people through all the comments, reblogs and links on this post. Getting Freshly Pressed was a nice recognition and a big boost to my blog’s traffic.

Who is your favorite author?

This is really difficult. I enjoy the work of so many. Each person’s voice is unique and hearing their perspective and seeing their take on the world brings me such joy. I can’t name a single author at this time. I read across all genres. If I pick up a book and the first few lines CAPTURE my attention, I’m in. My favorite author is the one whose book I’m reading at the time. Right now I’m reading Ted Hughes’ Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being.

What is your favorite family tradition?

I do love holidays, but my favorite family tradition is the way we take walks that we call “adventures.” When we go on adventures we don’t have a set agenda. We just walk for the pleasure of walking and to discover something we never knew. We’ll stop in a bakery, go to a toy store, wander down a back alley. If everyone is feeling down or the four-year-old is bouncing off the walls, I’ll stand up from my desk and announce, “It’s time to go for a walk.” I don’t think I’ve ever been turned down for this offer.

If you could go to Vegas for a weekend with 5 celebrities, who would be your 5 celebrity friends?

Well, I do know a few celebrities because I work in the film industry, so this is a bit tricky (I don’t want to get any phone calls about why I’ve left someone off the list). I’ve also spent some time in Vegas. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of casinos and Vegas shows. So, I’d take my 5 celebrity friends and we’d go hiking in Cathedral Gorge and then get a great dinner and some drinks at a classy place on the strip.

Where is your dream vacation destination?

I would love to go somewhere and really be on vacation. It seems that no matter where we go on “vacation” one of us is always working. I do dream of taking my sons on the Appalachian Trail or biking across the country.

What is your favorite type of food?

Local food is the best food you can eat. Some studies suggest eating food from the ground you walk on can actually relieve depression. There are many other benefits as well. Just compare a limp vegetable from the supermarket and one grown nearby and you’ll never go back to supermarket vegetables. Deliciousness.

Who is your celebrity crush?

I’ve always had a crush on Catherine Keener. When I finally got to work on a film with her, it was very exciting. I had a small role and the director had me sitting right next her on the set. She introduced herself. “Hi, I’m Catherine.” I said, “I know.” The scene wasn’t flowing very well, so Catherine leaned in and nudged me and said, “You should ad lib something here.” I did and the director really liked it and kept the line. That was a fun day.

Emmy Rossum and Linda Cardellini are two other crushes who were a lot of fun to work with as well. Anyone with talent is very attractive.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?

Having just lost my grandmother, I’ve been thinking about bucket lists. I’ve had some amazing experiences already.

1. I’d like to travel with my family and have amazing adventures.

2. I’d like to make a difference in the world.

3. I’d like to always be creative and live in abundance and gratitude.

What is your favorite Disney movie?

Finding Nemo As a dad, this one really “swims home.” I toured with the musical The Lion King, so that’s right up there, too.

And I Nominate…

I hope you accept this nomination and choose to take part because I would certainly love to know more about YOU! A lot of these bloggers are really well established, but these are the blogs I visit regularly for inspiration and advice.

Sophie Lizard is doing some really great things at Be a Freelance Blogger http://beafreelanceblogger.com/

Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic has been one of the most helpful blogging experts I’ve studied. Check out his blog at http://boostblogtraffic.com/

The Write Life has tons of great advice. I got a lot of the links for these blogs there. Please visit them at http://thewritelife.com/

If you want to dramatically improve the quality of your life, travel the world, drink wine at noon and make at least 100K a year doing it, you have to follow Ash Ambirge’s The Middle Finger Project at http://themiddlefingerproject.org/

Ali Luke has a lovely no-nonsense blog about writing that you should be reading. Check out her amazing posts at http://www.aliventures.com/

Hazel Longuet of Novel Experience is a fun blog to read and explore. Visit her at http://novelexperience.info/

Still Writing is a National Best Seller by Dani Shapiro and I really love her moving blog at http://danishapiro.com/

Do you feel that there are better things to do in your life? Then check out Cordelia Calls it Quits at http://www.cordeliacallsitquits.com/

I really love what Jeff Goins is doing at Goins, Writer http://goinswriter.com/ I think you will, too!

Jon Winokur is another one of my favorites. If you are looking for writerly wisdom for the ages, check out his blog at AdvicetoWriters.com http://www.advicetowriters.com/

Shanan and I have a lot in common, we’re both Procrastiwriters. To get motivated, check out her great blog at http://www.theprocrastiwriter.com/

The rules for receiving this award:

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
3. Nominate 5 – 11 of your favorite bloggers and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. Thank and link back the person’s blog who nominated you.

 And my questions for you are: (special thanks to Inside the Actors Studio)

1. Why did you start your blog?
2. What is your favorite technique for getting more readers for your blog?
3. What is your favorite post (please provide a link)and why?
4. If you could pick any profession other than the one you are doing right now, what would it be?
5. What job would you never do even if they paid you a lot of money to do it?
6. What is your favorite word and why?
7. What is your least favorite word and why?
8. What sound makes you happiest?
9. What sound makes you cringe?
10. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
11. What would you like people to say about you after you are gone from this life?

Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Stories are the Wildest Things!

Paul