B Nice

The Eagle has landed. Smiles and Duct Tape has been released. It’s out of my hands and out there for all to see – and read – and judge – AHHHHHHHHH!

I have lived my life trying to keep expectations low. If you strive for an A and end up with a B, you’re disappointed. If you strive for a C and end up with a B, you’re thrilled. I‘ve been a solid B most of my life and proud of that accomplishment. I pat myself on the back almost every day. Even days when I’m making dinner still unshowered in my yoga pants, if my family made it through the day and is being fed, it’s been a successful day!

Smiles and Duct Tape is the first time that people have rather high expectations for me. I do think that my writing has improved over the last ten years, and I’m proud of my 500 word essays on this blog, but the book is 49,000 words – in a row, it’s about the worst 1000 days our family has ever been through, AND I’ve never written a book. I hope people are looking for a solid C performance and give me a big high-five when they discover it’s a B, maybe B+.

If you read Smiles and Duct Tape and enjoy it, I encourage you to write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. If you read it and think I should stick to 500 words at a time, please keep that information to yourself.

The book is currently available at Deeds Publishing, at our beautiful local bookstore WORDS, Amazon (paperback and eBook) and my basement. Please contact me for quantity purchases (i.e. book clubs/super fun holiday gifts for the whole family) and I will give you a deal.

Love, Jess

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blogher15

I have all these words swimming around my brain today – audience, organic, engagement, analytics, platform. I’m trying to quickly sort out everything I learned at the Blogher15 Conference before my brain returns to focusing on my usual words – laundry, diapers, groceries, medications, and reality television.

When my friend, Brooke Lefferts http://www.carpoolcandy.com, encouraged me to sign up for the conference, I was intimidated. Then I remembered that she had motivated me to audition for Listen to Your Mother and that seemed to go well, so I dove in.

Friday morning I boarded an early morning train with Brooke, our new friend, Christine Carlisle http://www.chewnibblenosh.com, and what seemed like thousands of commuters. We found our way to the NYC Hilton, signed in and were given our badges. I felt like an impostor, like at any moment I would be asked for proof of being a “real blogger”. Luckily, there was no security or verifying of site stats.

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I believe strongly that people laughing WITH me is far better than people laughing AT me, so I played the role of naive newbie as I stumbled around the conference. I did get more than one laugh referring THE Twitter and asking how one would find their “analytics”. Truthfully, I didn’t need to put on much of an act — I was out of my league. But what option did I have? There is no Blogher for Dummies. So, I laughed my way through the speeches and sessions and managed to get a ton out of the experience. I left the conference with a pile of knowledge, a huge amount of motivation and some new friends.

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Introductions are constant at any conference and this one was no exception. Cards were thrown around like confetti at every opportunity. I quickly learned that “parenting” is a very crowded space, so in an attempt to differentiate myself form the “twenty ways to pack a healthy lunch” category, I started to describe myself as a “special needs blogger”. That was greeted with sad faces, so I changed my approach. “I write about my family. How to have a normal family with a special child.” Positive, upbeat and honest.

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The conference was full of incredible speakers and activities, but the most meaningful moment for me came at a session I attended called Storytelling about Special Needs Parenting and Disability. The first speaker was not a blogger, but a parent. She’d lost a child and has another with special needs. She referred to herself as “a silent reader”. Wandering her way through the internet searching for people who could relate to what she is going through. I was that person eight years ago. Desperate to find my peers – people who understood me, people who could help my family navigate through this new and rocky territory. My goal for Smiles and Duct Tape (both the blog and the book) is to help people learn that even when life takes crazy turns, that it doesn’t need to derail your family. You CAN HAVE A NORMAL FAMILY WITH A SPECIAL CHILD.
So, it’s time I broaden my reach (sounds fancy, right?). Please help me spread the word.
Thank you Brooke!

Love, Jess

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After two long days we enjoyed a great dinner. Meet two other great ladies and incredible writers — Amy Byrnes http://www.amynameisamy.com and Emily Nichols Grossi http://www.em-i-lis.com.