Writer Wednesday: When You Hit That Wall, Do You Nurse Your Head, Or Climb Over?

Face Rock'dThis is the full post! Sorry about the earlier post, I accidentally hit Publish, instead of Save Draft, so email and RSS subscribers, ignore the first one (please?)

Yesterday on Mina Khan’s blog, I talked about the strategies I use to cope with the vicissitudes of the writing life. I thought I’d expand a little on one of my strategies: envisioning my setbacks as brick walls to climb over. In my guest post, I gave this advice for setbacks:

When I come across a setback (rejections), I picture that I’ve just hit a solid wall along with many others on the same journey. Then I picture myself scaling it and getting to the other side so I can keep going. It also helps to know that many don’t do this and they’re milling around at that wall too afraid to climb over, etc, BUT I also make sure when I see someone else I know hit that wall that I lend a helping hand to help them over, whether it’s words of encouragement or an offer to critique. The sad truth is, many writers give up way too early and don’t keep going forward.

This garnered the most comments, and so I thought I’d expand the analogy a bit here to talk about it as a great coping mechanism. I can’t take credit for the visualization, though. I first saw it mentioned by agent Rachelle Gardner, in her post What’s Your Brick Wall? She in turn had heard about it from Randy Pausch who talked about brick walls as obstacles to achieving childhood dreams and wrote that these walls “stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.” It resonated with her, because she’s often the brick wall to writers and their dream of being published. She said:

Each time I become the brick wall… each time an author crashes into my “no,” they are forced to reckon with their own dreams. They have to ask themselves once again, “How badly do I want it?” That can’t be a bad thing, right?

Thankfully, I read this post before I started the agenting process and it truly helped me, not only with that phase, but any time I had a writing setback. I cannot stress enough how much it truly helped to picture this. Honest-to-God picture it. As in, visualize it. See yourself hitting it, and then see yourself shaking your head, dusting yourself off, and scaling that wall. Then look around. There aren’t as many people aspiring to be writers around you, because they didn’t climb that wall! But as I said in the post yesterday, if you see a friend struggling behind a wall, lend a helping hand.

Facing a false brick wallThis can be taken further. That wall is only as thick and tall as you make it! Don’t let it stop you! It also could just be imagined. Is it fear making you think an obstacle is there and it really isn’t?

Do you let it define you as the writer who keeps hitting these walls at every turn and wear it as a badge of honor? And I don’t mean as one of the many aspects of our writing lives, but does this become the whole definition of you? Your excuse for not being where you want to be, and you nurse it, and point to the wall to anyone who will listen? Many aspiring writers find safety in the numbers milling around that wall and commiserate with them. But they never climb that wall, and they let that last obstacle define them. It’s fine to commiserate when you first hit that wall–lord knows it helps!!–but only aspiring writers stay there.

It’s also so apt, because often when we smack headlong into that brick wall, it can really hurt. We can feel bruised, our head can feel a bit dazed. But see it for what it is–an opportunity to go further than others have the guts to go.

Keep climbing those walls, my fellow writers!

What about you? Have you seen this analogy before and did it help? If this is new, did this post help? How else does it apply to our journey that I overlooked?

Guest Post: Strategies for Replenishing Your Writing Self

angela_verticalbooksToday I’m on Mina Khan’s blog with “Strategies for Replenishing Your Writing Self” where I share what I do when I’m burnt out, discouraged, or hit a setback. What do YOU do?

Book Monday: SHRAPNEL by Stephanie Lawton – Excerpt

Stephanie-Lawton-TOURShrapnel
by Stephanie Lawton
Publisher: Evernight TEEN (January 17, 2013)

I’m so excited to host my friend Stephanie for her blog tour of her new YA release, SHRAPNEL. I don’t know if she remembers this, but we first “met” on Twitter over this book in the fall of 2011. I’d just joined Twitter and scoured it for local writers and others to follow and found her, among others. She soon tweeted asking for something quick that could be flammable during the Civil War era. I replied with some suggestions and we struck up a convo. She then invited me to the Mobile Writer’s Guild and we’ve since gotten to know each other. Turns out that tweet was for a scene in this book :) This past fall I Beta read an earlier version of it, and oh boy did I love it! It’s just dripping with voice, y’all, and so deliciously atmospheric. (tweet this) I was on the edge of my seat. Seriously!

Anyway, this is a long-winded explanation about why I’m so pleased to have her on my blog today for Book Monday! First lets give you the blurb, so you know what’s going on:

It’s been six years since Dylanie and her family visited a Civil War site and the place came alive with cannon fire. Problem was, no one could hear it but her.

Now she’s sixteen, her dad’s moved out, her mom’s come out of the closet and Dylan’s got a spot on Paranormal Teen, a reality TV show filming at historic Oakleigh Mansion. She’ll spend a weekend with two other psychic teens—Jake and Ashley—learning how to control her abilities.

None of them realized how much their emotional baggage would put them at the mercy of Oakleigh’s resident spirits, or that they’d find themselves pawns in the 150-year-old battle for the South’s legendary Confederate gold. Each must conquer their personal ghosts to face down Jackson, a seductive spirit who will do anything to protect the gold’s current location and avenge a heinous attack that destroyed his family.

Intrigued yet? I’m now turning it over to Stephanie for more SHRAPNEL!

********

Angela and I have many things in common, which is part of why I’m so excited to be on her blog today. Not only do we live in the same city, but we’re on the board of our local writers guild together. We both write quirky, strong heroines, and we both love a bit of humor mixed in with our steamy stuff.

Below is an excerpt from Shrapnel, my upper-YA mutt of a novel set at Oakleigh Mansion in Mobile, Alabama. Dylanie is a foul-mouthed tomboy, but making an attempt at being girlie. Her helper is a smarmy Civil War-era ghost named Jackson. Here, she’s seeing her new look for the first time.

I’m not prepared for what I see. Standing in front of me is … a girl. A noise makes me turn. My Army bag has fallen over and the contents are spread out on the bed, almost like someone rifled through them. Closest to me are my brush and the make-up bag Mom doesn’t know I own. She’d probably break into song and dance if she did.

“Okay, Jackson, I get the hint.” He doesn’t appear, but he’s here somewhere. Ten minutes later my hair’s under control, I’ve managed to smudge on some color without looking like a clown, and I have to admit, I look a little bad-ass. Like a girl, but in a don’t-screw-with-me kind of way. I reach for my red Converses. Just as I’m about to tug on the first one, the door on the right side of the ugly wardrobe swings open on a squeaky hinge. I chuckle when I see what’s inside.

“Are you kidding me? What are the odds that they’re my size? They’ll probably crumble into dust if I even touch them.”

“You doubt me?” Jackson’s sudden appearance sends me stumbling backward.

“You can’t just do that! You scared the shit out of me.”

“I wouldn’t have to appear if you were a good girl and did as you were told.”

I grit my teeth while weighing my options. My earlier urge to injure him loses to my need to say, I told you so.

“Fine.” I march over to the wardrobe and yank out the musty, old boots, ignoring Jackson’s lazy grin that sends my stomach into a tailspin. Except … the boots aren’t musty. Yeah, they look old, but they’re in perfect condition. The leather is supple and shiny, and the laces have been replaced with smooth, black ribbons. I don’t know whether to wear them or worship them.

Jackson makes up my mind for me when he scoots me onto the bed and lifts my foot onto his knee. I chuckle, thinking of the old man with a bad comb-over at the children’s shoe store close to our house. He used to kneel and place our feet on his knee, too, when fitting us for a new pair. I’d stare at the top of his shiny head and the greasy strips of hair carefully gelled into place.

“Ticklish?”

“Hardly.”

“Hmmm.” Jackson loosens the laces then tips the boot so I can slip in my toes. He maneuvers it until my foot and calve are perfectly encased in black leather. His fingers linger at the back of my knee.

“Seems like you’ve done this before.”

“Perhaps,” he says as he tugs the ribbons tight. “Other foot.”

He repeats the process, but this time he doesn’t release my leg when he finishes. “Lovely,” he breathes, then shakes his head as if to clear it. “Are you ready to go downstairs?”

I shrug.

“Give them a try.” Jackson takes my hand and pulls me off the bed so I’m standing on two-inch heels, a far cry from the flat Chucks I’m used to. The boots are surprisingly comfortable. “Stand up straight, shoulders back.”

“You sound like my mom.”

He smirks. “Now walk.” I feel like a horse being led around a ring as Jackson keeps me steady. “Don’t lock your knees. Use them to help you walk naturally, heel to toe.”

After a few adjustments, I’ve got the hang of it. “Like this?”

“Mmm, excellent.” I swear his dead eyes just got warmer. Is that possible? Something tells me that isn’t the kind of thing I can ask Riley. His raises my hand to his lips and leaves a small kiss that sends tingles all the way up my bare arm and beyond. “I think you’re ready, sweetheart. Do not forget to pay attention to what you learn today. I’ll be nearby.”

“Yeah? That’s pretty damn creepy, you know.” My heart begins pumping out a cocktail of Oh, crap when he crosses his arms and stares at me. Guess that was the wrong thing to say. As the seconds stretch out, I count my blinks. After six, he still hasn’t broken eye contact. My toes wiggle inside my boots. Then my leg starts bouncing. “Okay, maybe not creepy. Maybe protective is more like it. Or concerned. Or, I don’t know, sweet? You know it was just a joke, right? I always say stupid, sarcastic stuff.”

Still, he doesn’t answer.

“Are you mad at me?”

Jackson takes a deep, unnecessary breath. “Is that how I appear to you, creepy?”

“Well, you are dead.” He nods. “And you can appear and disappear whenever you want.” He nods again, so I keep prodding. “And you can … um, touch me. Even though you’re not real. So yeah, that qualifies as creepy.”

I watch, mesmerized, as a crooked grin slowly softens his face. “And yet you’re not running for the door, pulling out your hair and screaming like a hysterical schoolgirl.”

“No, um, that would be—” I point in the direction of Ashley’s room.

Jackson rewards me with a genuine laugh. “And that is why I chose you, not her. I can’t promise I won’t be creepy, but hopefully I can be a number of other things to you, as well.” He takes a step toward me, while I take a step back. “Intriguing, perhaps? Helpful?” He eyes my boots and takes another step closer. “Educational, even?”

His eyes land on my lips, and even a novice like me can tell where this is headed.

*********

photo 3After collecting a couple English degrees in the Midwest, Stephanie Lawton suddenly awoke in the deepest reaches of the Deep South. Culture shock inspired her to write about Mobile, Alabama, her adopted city, and all the ways Southern culture, history and attitudes seduce the unsuspecting.

A lover of all things gothic, she can often be spotted photographing old cemeteries, historic buildings and, ironically, the beautiful beaches of the Gulf Coast. She also has a tendency to psychoanalyze people, which comes in handy when creating character profiles.

Where To Find Stephanie:

Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Where to get your paws on SHRAPNEL:

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (paperback) | Barnes and Noble (paperback) | Evernight Teen | All Romance ebooks (digital) | CreateSpace (paperback)

Six Sentence Sunday – 1/27/13

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Welcome to #SixSunday! I can’t believe this is the last official SixSunday! I want to say how much I’ve enjoyed it, and I really, truly know that I would not be the same writer without having participated with you guys. You gave me confidence when I needed it, some of you have become Beta partners I couldn’t do without, and more have become auto-buys for me, thus enriching my life. I’ve learned much. Thank you.

I did my first post on November 20, 2011 with a snippet from MUST LOVE BREECHES, my time travel romance, and have come to treasure Sundays and my time with you ever since!

I will continue to post these on my own every Sunday, and will keep an eye out on Twitter for others using the same hashtag… UPDATE: Karysa Faire has started a Six Sentence Sunday FB Group!

Today’s Six Sunday I’m continuing with my new release, BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  ARe, and Bookstrand!!

This is in the heroine’s POV and they’ve now moved up to her hotel suite. He came back from getting bottles of beer and hovered behind her, and she leaned against him. Their beer bottles came into play. Picking up exactly where we left off last week when she leaps onto him, they thud into the French doors, and they stumble inside:

She fumbled with the buttons on his shirt, jerked the shirttails out of his khakis, and pushed his shirt off his shoulders.

Wow, was he ripped! His arm muscles bunched from holding her. Hoo boy, there might even be an ab or two peeking out. She slid her hands up his smooth chest as he backed her to the king-size bed. He tumbled with her onto the fluffy comforter, and they both laughed.

Official blurb:

Can a djinn and a magic slot machine bring two geeks together?

Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, smart chicks never look at him twice.

Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna would rather immerse herself in work than be the girlfriend-of-the-moment. Stranded in a Vegas hotel, she makes a wish—a night of hot sex with the man of her dreams. It’s granted. She agrees to dinner, but afterward, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they’re surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.

Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romantic comedy.

Amazon | B&N | ARe | Bookstrand | trailer | goodreads | shelfari

goodreads-badge-add-plus-8aed1006260a5092a7ebb2a64fe3968c

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week! 

Writer Wednesday: Facebook vs. Goodreads Ads Experiment Part II

goodreads_icon_100x100-bff70f2a14699328631d91f1b40e2d5a

Two Wednesdays ago, I wrote a blog post where I shared my limited experience with running ads on Facebook and Goodreads, Writer Wednesday:  Goodreads vs Facebook Ads – an Experiment, and got a lot of great comments!

My ad has now been running for over three weeks on Facebook and two and a half on Goodreads, and still, hands-down, Goodreads has been the better option. I still haven’t garnered a single click on my Facebook ads. And only 1231 views since Jan 3! I’ve now spent $4.10 on Goodreads and my ad has had over 63,000 views, and 41 clicks!

I also wanted to share some of the helpful tips left in the comments, including a clarification from a Goodreads representative.

Peter Salomon shared a great tip, which I’ve now seen for myself – add a great review blurb!

He said that when he got a great succinct quote from a reputable reviewer, he changed his ad and the clicks and adds skyrocketed. I went ahead and changed mine, and yep, it out performs my book blurb ad by more than half, in both clicks and adds.

gr_ad

To be fair, I changed my Facebook campaign to have this quote too, and still zip… The consensus from the comments in my first post seemed to be that we’ve now been trained over the last several years to ignore those ads because they’re now non-relevant to our daily lives. This is a shame, because I remember in the early days that this wasn’t the case. Oh, well.

Within Goodreads, author targeted vs. genre targeted

This is interesting. My views are abysmal for author targeted (probably because I’m only paying .10/click) BUT when it does get seen, it outperforms the new ad with the quote by almost double! I need to add an author-targeted one with a quote and see what that double whammy produces! And maybe bump up my cost per click a tad for just that ad.

So, Goodreads is the place to advertise

Based on my limited experience, and from the comments the post garnered. Makes sense, given that it’s a place for readers to congregate and learn about books, so they do NOT mind seeing relevant book ads. One commenter pointed out that this could all change if Goodreads begins showing non-book ads and we again, like on Facebook, become trained to ignore that side of the page.

Clarification on who sees the GR ad

Margo from Goodreads stopped by several days later and left a very helpful comment clarifying who sees the ad. She says:

When you target genres or authors you are targeting users who have those genres/authors on their shelves. So if one of our users has one of your genres or authors on their shelf they will see your ad throughout the site. However it is a good idea to only target authors OR genres otherwise your user has to have both on their shelf and it becomes too limiting.

She also left this link to a Best Practices document! Thanks Margo!

Thanks for everyone who commented. Did I leave out anything? Have you started your ad on GR because of my earlier post, and has it done anything for you?

 

Book Monday: Gifts for Book Lovers – Literary Board Games!

Over at Flavorwire last week, they collected ten board games for book nerds, and I thought I’d share them, but with the links to purchase. I also found some more!

The sharp eye of a fellow Austenite alerted me to the article, due to this:

pandpgameA Pride & Prejudice Board Game!

Totally want. Want one too? You can get it for $36 + shipping. Here’s the official blurb:

Attend a ball at Netherfield, take tea at Rosings or stroll through the gardens at Pemberley as you experience Regency life and test your knowledge of Jane Austen’s most beloved novel. Will you linger in Meryton or pine for the amusements of London? Perhaps you’ll astound your opponents with your superior knowledge of the book. Alas, your progress may be deterred by anything from a bit of slipped lace to a scandalous elopement.

Marriage is the Object
Elizabeth and Darcy, Jane and Bingley, Lydia and Wickham or Charlotte and Mr. Collins–pick one of four couples from the novel and maneuver them separately or together through town and countryside. Be the first to collect all game tokens, then race to the Parish Church to marry and win the game!

Here’s more!

Which ones do you want? Which ones would you like to see be a board game?

Six Sentence Sunday – 1/20/13

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Welcome to #SixSunday! I can’t believe this is the second to last official SSS :(

Today’s Six Sunday I’m continuing with my new release, BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,  ARe, and Bookstrand!!

This is in the heroine’s POV and they’ve now moved up to her hotel suite. He came back from getting bottles of beer and hovered behind her, and she leaned against him. Their beer bottles came into play. Picking up exactly where we left off last week when she leaps onto him and they thud into the French doors:

He tore his mouth from hers. “Could you?”

“Huh?” She freed herself from the lust fog. His head tilted to the door handle. She pushed down with her heel, and he bumped it open with his back, stumbling inside backward.

Latest review:

Short stories and novellas can make me leery of wanting to give them a try because not everyone who writes one understands just how to achieve a good balance of plot, pacing and character development to fit into the page count they have.  Fortunately, this author did a great job so I ended up with an enjoyable reading experience that had me reading with a smile on my face and an ‘ah’ of satisfaction coming from my lips by the end…So, I can heartily recommend this one to those who enjoy a quirky magical contemporary Happy For Now with promise of the future romance with not a lot of time to read. –Sophia Rose at DelightedReader.com

Official blurb:

Can a djinn and a magic slot machine bring two geeks together?

Riley McGregor is a geek trapped in a Good Ole Boy body and as owner of a microbrewery, smart chicks never look at him twice.

Rejected by a geek who wanted to “trade up,” Mirjam Linna would rather immerse herself in work than be the girlfriend-of-the-moment. Stranded in a Vegas hotel, she makes a wish—a night of hot sex with the man of her dreams. It’s granted. She agrees to dinner, but afterward, she’ll say thanks, but no thanks, and see what’s on the SyFy channel. But when they meet, they’re surprised to find they had a shared connection in their past. Sparks fly as these two learn to be in the moment, be themselves and find love.

Fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Monty Python, Firefly and Marvin the Martian will enjoy this romantic comedy.

Amazon | B&N | ARe | Bookstrand | trailer | goodreads | shelfari

goodreads-badge-add-plus-8aed1006260a5092a7ebb2a64fe3968c

To see snippets from others who are participating or to sign up yourself, visit here.

Thank you to everyone who comes by and comments each week! 

A Little “Beer and Groping in Las Vegas” with Angela Quarles

Today I’m on Sarah Ballance’s blog with a fun interview about BEER and its path to publication, and future projects!

That Publicity Stuff…A New Review and an Interview

The obligatory linkage to the latest with BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS:

First up a review was posted today on Delighted Reader, with an A Rating. Here’s a snippet:

This was a fun quick read involving a quirky romance that was set up by a djinn.  Short stories and novellas can make me leery of wanting to give them a try because not everyone who writes one understands just how to achieve a good balance of plot, pacing and character development to fit into the page count they have.  Fortunately, this author did a great job so I ended up with an enjoyable reading experience that had me reading with a smile on my face and an ‘ah’ of satisfaction coming from my lips by the end….So, I can heartily recommend this one to those who enjoy a quirky magical contemporary Happy For Now with promise of the future romance with not a lot of time to read. – Sophia Rose, Delighted Reader

And then I visited Tara Kingston’s blog with an interview about a guilty pleasure and a little about what I’m working on right now…

Writer Wednesday: Is Writing Romance Easy? Is It Easier to Get Published?

easypeasyAre you a romance writer? Then you’ve heard this said, I’m sure. Romance is a formula, it’s easy to write or It’s easier to get published in Romance.

Sometimes I just want to give the big eff you to those who maintain this. It chaps me to no end, because I’ve been working my tail off for years to hone my craft. I must be an idiot then and doing something wrong. Most of the time I’ve only seen this attitude online; I’m lucky that I have a very supportive circle of family and friends who know how hard I’ve worked, so typically the only time I’ve run across this is when I’m introduced to someone new, or occasionally on a non-romance forum.

Like this email I got after I signed with my agent back in October. She congratulated me, but then went on to remind me that it’s just a first step to getting published (yeah, I didn’t know that, thanks) and then she said this:

I know nothing about Romance writing, but I have heard (perhaps it’s just an urban myth) you can get into publication a lot faster. Since most people wait years to see a book in print, I think inking a deal where your book could be out in 12-18 months is pretty amazing sounding. I can understand why so many people go self publishing, (one of my only romance writing pals went that route) at some point you’re just hungry to get stuff out there.

Is it just me, or does this come across weird? I don’t think she meant to come across backhanded. Given that the forum was all about landing an agent, it felt like it was also saying in a way that I’d gotten one easier than her and the others because I’m writing Romance (I was one of very few on that site). This could just be me. But anyway, I thought I’d explore this a little and then open it up to discussion.

Why is Romance judged by the worst in its genre and not its best?

I work in a bookstore and see this attitude, though I’ve also experienced it elsewhere. Horror is judged by its greats like Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Science Fiction by the likes of Asimov, Bradbury, Herbert, P.K. Dick, and Heinlein. But romance? Actually it’s not judged by its greats, typically, because usually the ones making fun of it have never even read a single book in the genre. Yes, there’s bad romance, but there’s also bad horror and bad science fiction, bad fantasy. I’m sorry, but there is. And while there are some who make fun of sf/fantasy (and judged it by its worst by folks who’ve never read it also) , it doesn’t seem to be as pervasive. I see people proudly walking up to that section of the store. It’s also not denigrated by the owners and they stock it well. The Romance section? It’s gotten better since I started, but it’s still the red-headed step child and stocked with just whatever they happen to find marked romance. Patrons also approach it less boldly.

It’s a formula. The endings are the same.

Yes, romances have to end with a Happily Ever After or a Happily For Now, but Mysteries have to end with the murder solved by the protagonist, Suspense/Thrillers with the good guy overcoming the bad guy, etc. And I’ll maintain that it’s hard writing a novel where the end is already known and still make the reader suspend their disbelief and think that maybe, just this once, it won’t happen, or make them wonder how it could possibly happen.

Since it’s got the biggest market share, it’s easier to get published

As Romance Writer’s of Australia points out in this post: “It’s harder than most people think. Even Mills and Boon, that urban myth claims is so easy to ‘crack’, receive something like 20,000 unsolicited manuscripts each year from all over the world. They contract perhaps 30 new writers. They’re just one of the publishers.”

Because it’s such a large share, there’s more writers, so I’m thinking the percentage of those that get traditionally published is still small.

And I know some very talented romance writers who’ve not yet landed an agent. I don’t have statistics handy, but I know that agents who represent romance only accept a handful of new clients a year.  Just take a look at these stats by agent Kristin Nelson, whose agency is one of the heavy hitters in our genre– out of 32,000+ queries they signed 16 new clients. (And they represent more than just Romance).

More non-traditional avenues

This is true. Romance leads the way in indie publishing, and many small publishers have come into existence to help feed the demand for books in this genre. There are more of these than there are if you write science fiction or horror, and if you write literary fiction? Tiny. But remember, there’s also more of us writing this genre, so we’re still competing against others to get those e-publishing contracts. I’ll come out and admit that BEER AND GROPING IN LAS VEGAS was rejected by some of these, so it’s not a case of if you write a romance it’ll automatically get published by an e-publisher, which I think nay-sayers believe.

And on a final note, writing convincing emotion is extremely difficult, at least for me it is. It’s necessary to have it in this genre, but oh so hard to pull off without delving into schlocky-land or over-the-top land.

So for those scoffers–> you try to write a good one and get back to me :)

But, I know this sounds like this bothers me a lot. It really doesn’t. I just shrug it off and keep working hard. I mainly wanted to write this to put this out there and start a discussion.

What are some of the attitudes you’ve heard that have made you a little twitchy?