Regular Girls

regular-girls

Sara:
-thinks she has broad shoulders
-has Twitter, but hasn’t logged in “in like, five years”
-prefers news over celebrity gossip

Caitlin:
-thinks she’s gluten-intolerant, but hasn’t gotten tested
-says she likes “good music”
-enjoys haikus and crossword puzzles when she travels for work
-nail beds are so-so

Kim:
-doesn’t like milk unless it’s used in ice cream or cheese, which it always is.
-not a registered voter
-got into reading post-college

Val:
-Always cash. Always.
-dream job is interviewing inspiring people
-Originally from Washington state
-had braces later in life


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Top 10 Lessons: writing a book

top-10

I’m still so giddy about speaking with Megan Silianoff at the Texas Style Council blogging conference a couple Sundays ago. We met so many rad ladies with rad happenings up their sleeves. Grateful to be a part of it all, and extra grateful for those who the took the time to hear us talk. Megan is the woman behind Greetings from Texas. She wrote the memoir, 99 Problems But A Baby Ain’t OneShe named her baby, Macy, after Jay Z. Need I say more?

During our workshop, we chatted about how we turned our blogs into books. I wrote last Monday about tips and tricks on the journey to publication. Today I share with you the top 10 lessons we learned on that journey.

1. It’s better to start somewhere now than to start somewhere later. 

When I originally had the idea for I’d Rather Be Short, I knew it was good but I sat on it for a year because starting is hawd (that’s ‘hard’ in whiny speak). Then I ran the 1/2 marathon in March and had oodles of energy when the race was over. I channeled that into a month of drawings so I could pitch the idea to agents that May.

Guess what!

When I finally got started, the drawings were terrible!

Like this one and this one.

The good news is that by starting I got through the bottom feeders faster than I would have if I was still stalling just because starting (AKA decision-making) was hawd. 

2. At least try.

Megan didn’t always see herself doing this book thing, but realized she loved writing. Life dealt her an unexpected hand—she got cancer while she and her husband were trying to adopt. She felt compelled to keep everyone upbeat during this hard time, so she started a blog and from there she went. One thing I loved that Megan said at the conference was that she was so determined to get her query to the agents who represented her favorite books. She’s proud of those rejection letters because she got it into their hands. She gave it her all. 

I freaked myself out one too many times thinking about how a tiny girl from a tiny town could have a real book in a STORE. I felt like a fake. Then I realized that every book in every store is either that author’s first book or they have had a first book. If you know of any second-time authors who don’t have a first book, please let me know so I can correct this point I’m trying to make.

3. Be protective of your dreams.

No, I don’t think you are going to steal my dreams. This is about protecting your sensitive, fragile, dreaming heart from others’ lack of enthusiasm, naysaying or preemptive praise. Watch Derek Sivers’ TED Talk (it’s only three minutes). Studies show that people who talk about their goals (before putting in the work) are less likely to achieve them. We get a tiny dose of satisfaction just from talking about it, and that’s enough to derail the EFFORT part of the dream. In my case, I knew that I had something good on my hands and I didn’t want somebody’s, “Oh, that’s kind of cool” comment to bring me “back to reality”. How can we expect them to be over the moon for an idea they just heard—an idea we’ve been stewing over for days/weeks/months/years? It’s not fair to them or to you, so keep it to yourself until it’s time to tell someone who will keep you accountable to seeing it through.

4. Must be delusional.

This one takes reminding. We have to be so crazy about our ideas that we work at them as if they just might work. Otherwise, beers with friends, Breaking Bad and sleeping in seem like more of a priority. I could have had better life-balance during that time, but I was crazy, so that’s what you get.

5. Level up.

Run a long race. Start a conference. Do that “thing you couldn’t do”. Then you level up. You realize you have the energy, will power, confidence, others’ support, etc. to do the next thing. You realize the doers aren’t super humans; they just do. 

I’m not suggesting you add an unnecessary step in pursuing your dreams. I’m just saying that these things build on each other. Megan and I didn’t know it at the time (she started the Houston Blogging Symposium, and I ran a long race), but those feats gave us the confidence to do the next thing. We accidentally realized we are “that type” of person. (See Amy Cuddy TED Talk. One of my favorites).

6. You are who + what you surround yourself with.

This one is simple, but possibly the most impactful for me. I started the book partially because I wished it already existed. I didn’t love being so short. I thought that since so many people brought it up when they first met me (for 25 years!), I must have had what people didn’t want. I was okay enough with it, but embracing it seemed far from my reach. Throughout the process of making the book I looked at the words, “I’d rather be short” hundreds of times.

It sank in.

Recently at the airport I realized I actually would rather be short. I love my child-size self. If I got that from a few months of work, I can’t imagine how impacted I/we are by what we read and look at everyday.

I only have time for things that bring me life. I intentionally invest in those things and (try) to blow off the rest.

7. Go to conferences and writing classes! 

Their our 2 many reasons 2 name 4 now, but if u go, u will right well.

Wasn’t that sentence hard to read? That’s why writing workshops and conferences are so good. Kidding! Kind of…

You really can’t lose. You’ll gain friendships with like-minded people, and you’ll become who you hang out with (remember what we just talked about.) Megan suggests BlogHer Writers, New York Pitch Conference, etc. I really love Spike Gillespie’s workshop in Austin. It’s really life-giving and you get to hear other people’s stories, essays and poems. I learned a lot by listening to them share. I didn’t do this stuff before mine got published, but I have a friend who is a writer who helped immensely before sending it to the fancy folks in New York.

8. You are going to embarrass yourself. Just do it in front of the right people.

This was Megan’s point. Preach it! She said when she turned in an early “final” copy of the manuscript, her editor/writing coach told her it definitely wasn’t done. She looks back on it now and realizes how right he was.

This whole, “it’s going to be awkward” point is worth making.

Perhaps it’s like talking to kids about drugs. You need to tell them the drugs are out there, so they’re already prepared to use one of the methods they learned in D.A.R.E. to just say no. This post is the opposite of D.A.R.E. because we think you should just say Y.E.S. to looking like a fool. Put your work out there. Austin Kleon (author of Steal Like An Artist and Newspaper Blackout) is a big fan of showing your work (see his new book).

9. It’s a new Era in Publishing. 

Anything can happen. Now we can set our sights high—if it’s clever, good or low brow enough, your work can go from 0-60 in 15 seconds. I’d opt for the highbrow, but it’s your call. Don’t have a publisher or an agent? There are still millions of eyeballs glued to the internet right now. Every eyeball is looking for you. Make this easy on the eyeballs. People are looking at cat memes at 2 AM and puppy memes at 2 PM. The good ideas are not all used up. Embrace the opportunities that come with e-books and self-publishing. See last week’s post with tips and resources for that.

10. Know your comparative titles + shoot them an email

Sooner or later you’re going to have to know what your book will sit next to on shelves. Why not make it earlier? You’ll need to know for pitching to agents and publishers, but it helps in explaining it to everybody else. It helps you find your audience and it helps to see what those guys did right. I love reading interviews with Jory John and Avery Monsen (All My Friends Are Dead). Since our books will eat lunch at the same table, I think it’s wise to see what they did. Reach out! I’ve emailed several authors and almost all of them have gotten back to me. They’re people I admire and I wanted to tell them that. I didn’t always do this. We can assume our idols are too cool and busy all we want, but it never hurts to give it a shot. They are people too and if their work impacted you, do you think they’ll be upset if you tell them that?

We made it! These are a few of the many things I’ve tucked away for the last year. Take or leave it as you wish, but know that it’s all sincere. We hope it helps gain clarity, confidence or enthusiasm.

We’re just two dorkos who put our work into the world and we’d like to help others do the same.


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The problem Elles are facing

elle,-oh-well288Tanya was upset about her GRE score.

Elle was upset about a bad haircut.

Enter LOL.

But that’s what you get for having a letter as a name.


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Reacquainted with crayons

portraitofabecky

Portrait of a Becky

Perhaps it would have made more sense to post the top 10 list I promised on Monday’s post. Or the question about writing that I promised yesterday. Promises yet no delivery!

What‘s more important takes less time, is that I drew pictures with crayons last night until the sun came up (in Casablanca).

I had another improv class and it was FUN. We played the game at the end where you have a partner and you go back and forth and end up with some gnarly-monster-burn-out-lady-with-a-rat-on-her-head sort of thing. Class is about PLAY, but I wasn’t satisfied with only two hours of it. I went home and drew all sorts of things! New ideas and heaps of paradoxes.

Best use of my sleepy time? Probably not. But I’ve learned to entertain the creative whim when it shows up. 

What I’m trying to say is, Casablanca is about five hours behind the Central time zone.

And you should play with crayons because they are magic. And creativity is more fluid when its comfort food, crayon, is at the party.


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Chin up party down

chinup

I said I’d get that top 10 list (lessons Megan and I learned from writing books) to you yesterday, but I’ll be lucky if I have it for you tomorrow… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ *

I had my last writing class (for now) last night. Spike posed a very thought-provoking question to the group and made us each answer it: what does it mean to be a writer?

Needless to say, it stirred some discussion. It was an especially life-giving class. Thoughts + drawings to come.

*arguably the best emoji around. Discovered in July of 2013 in an email from Matt Thompson


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From Blog to Book: nifty tips & resources

blogtobook

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I had a great time in Seattle for my friends’ wedding on Saturday, then back in Austin for Texas Style Council‘s Summer School on Sunday. Megan (Greetings From Texas) and I had a hoot co-leading a workshop on turning our blogs into books. We mentioned our stories as well as heaps of resources we promised to provide. This post is for anyone at the conference who wants a list of what we mentioned, as well as anyone who wants to know how to navigate through this publishing process.

Today I’ll tell you who we are, what we’re publishing, and a few directions you can take for your forthcoming book. Tomorrow I’ll post the top 10 lessons we’ve learned from this journey.

1. Who we are 

I wrote and illustrated I’d Rather Be Short. It’s 100 reasons why it’s great to be small. Published by Penguin/Plume Books and will be available where books are sold October 29—but you can preorder it today! ←see side bar. Please come to my book signing at Book People October 29 at 7 PM. My favorite thing about this adventure is meeting new people, so let’s make it happen!

My co-host was Megan Silianoff, also a former midwesterner turned Texan. Check out this cute post of her, Danny and Baby Macy on the Every Girl. Megan is the founder of the Houston Blogger Symposium and somehow has the time to do that, freelance, keep up her blog, write a book, then promote it. She’s superwoman! Her book,  99 Problems But A Baby Ain’t One, is a memoir about cancer, adoption and her love for Jay Z. She is hilarious and unbelievably inspiring. And her baby, Macy, is the cutest.

“Whoa. I can’t believe you have a kid!” —me
“I know. I’m just as surprised as everyone else.” —Megan

bookreport

2. Your book

It should be noted that like snowflakes and stomach growls, every journey to publication is different. Don’t be discouraged if yours doesn’t look like either of ours. If you’re reading this post, you’re on the right track. Starting somewhere now is better than starting somewhere later. I hope some of these pointers give you a bit of direction. If you want to know more about my book’s origin story and how I got a book deal, you can read this post. If you want to know more about Megan’s, head over to greetingsfromtexas.com.

I highly recommend querying lit agents vs. submitting directly to publishers. I recommend it so much that I’m going to tell you right now to NOT submit to publishers. I used agentquery.com and skimmed over the 2012 Guide to Literary Agents (the back has an index, which lists specific genres of agents). These two resources give you the direction you need to write a proper query (a query is the sample you send to agents to reel them in, so they want to see the rest of your book proposal and hopefully represent you to publishers). If you get an agent to represent you, that’s great! It’s not easy to get one, so when you do, it means they really believe in your project and they’re willing to invest in you. This site is very thorough; they should have plenty of answers to your questions. My friend Chad showed it to me, and though it gave me all the information I needed to query, it was more than helpful to have him help me write the query. I also had my friend Beth, who is an editor, help look things over. I recommend having another writer or editor read over everything and help you draft a sharp query. Don’t over think it, but do make sure it’s polished and professional.

I submitted a cover letter, summary, bio and four or five sample drawings that represented the direction of the rest of the book. I did not submit my full 100 reasons list. Every agent will have specific requirements for submissions. Follow their rules. They get so many queries; you don’t want to get deleted because you refuse follow directions on your first interaction.

Generally fiction is the only kind of proposal you need to have finalized before submitting. I had all 100 reasons, but not all drawn. That was enough for me to tell them that I knew exactly what direction this was going, how it will look, and offer space for feedback before finishing the book. Luckily they let me run in the direction I intended.

When you get an agent, remember that they are your ally. My agent, Laurie Abkemeier, has been a saint and I’m so thankful for how much she’s helped me. NOTE: I don’t know of any agents that cost money. I’d be leery of someone trying to charge you. Laurie signed me without taking a dime. When Penguin paid my advance, that’s when Laurie got a cut. This is great because it gives everyone incentive to sell many books. Laurie has an app called Agent Obvious. It’s a helpful tool for those already in publishing, or looking to acquire an agent.

A note on advances. I don’t think I properly covered this during yesterday’s talk. The way it worked for me is that the agent picks up the author (no fee), then the publisher picks up the author (author gets advance). Now that the publisher is paying the author (split into thirds, in my case: upon signing the contract, turning in final manuscript and book release), the agents gets a percentage. The agent will always get a cut of what that author makes from that specific project, whether it gets turned into a movie or the book does so well they have to do reprints and the author starts making royalties (most authors don’t make royalties because they have to earn back the advance in the amount of the royalties, maybe 6-10%. It’s less common for them to sell that many books. It doesn’t mean they have to pay back their advance, or it’s a sour deal, it just means royalties=real good book sales.)

The more I learn about self-publishing, the more I’m intrigued. A lot of writers have no desire to work with a traditional publisher. Some make more money doing it themselves or their audience is best suited for this method. They can work faster and they don’t have to answer to anyone. My friend Josh Long has some incredible books he’s published himself. Part of his message, hence the title, is EXECUTE. It makes more sense for him to put his book into the world at his pace and on his terms. When you publish yourself, you make all the money (vs. small percentage from the publisher), but you (usually) don’t have the name recognition or access to the media on a massive scale to promote it. 50 Shades of Grey started out self-published, but Random House must have picked it up when it got popular. Megan went with Brown Books in Dallas, where she invested in the books, but gets to keep all of the earnings.

Michelle asked how we get our books into book stores. Since I have a traditional publisher, they have a special sales team already in place. They sell to book stores like Barnes & Noble and have a specialty sales team for places like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, boutiques, etc. If I meet someone who wants to carry my book in their store, I am SO HAPPY and I pass their information along to Penguin. It’s not my job to land the sales from book stores; it IS my job to get the people into the stores to buy the book. Knowing how many copies your book has sold is a bit tricky because book stores can return books to publishers for free, and then those books may get recirculated in order to avoid unnecessary reprints. I’ve heard it takes about six months (after pub date) to know how many copies it’s really sold. I could be wrong though, as I’ve never done this before. If you’re producing your own book, you’d be in charge of getting it into stores. I know places like BookPeople have a section for local authors. Megan talked about how one could hire a publicist and a team to help cary that load. It just depends on how you want to split your time.

txsc13

3. Resources!

Self-publishing. I’ve never used these sites, but they have been recommended by friends:
reKiosk
Packgr (great for publishing blog content into newsletters, books, etc.)
Smashwords
Amazon, Independent Publishing
CreateSpace

On finding agents and drafting a query:
agentquery.com
2013 Guide to Literary Agents

*Megan noted that she looked in the back of the books she liked to see who represented the author. That’s a fantastic idea because authors almost always thank their agent and editor in the acknowledgements.

Writing classes/conferences:
Write with Spike (Spike Gillespie, Austin-based. I go to this on Tuesday nights)
New York Pitch Conference (Megan went to this and recommends)
BlogHer Writers (another one Megan recommends)

Other noteworthy links:
Derek Sivers: Keep Your Goals To Yourself, TED Talk (3 min)
Anne Lamott’s Bird By Birdfantastic book on writing. Funny and inspiring.
Agent Obvious, my agent, Laurie’s app that offers insight into the publishing world.
How To Self-Publish A Bestseller: Publishing 3.0, I highly recommend this TechCrunch article by James Altucher.

I hope this was helpful. I’m sure I’ve missed things, or didn’t uncover some dirty secrets you want to know. Feel free to leave a comment (I always read them and respond) if there’s something you’d like to know, or something you’d like to correct that I’ve said. I’d love to know what resources you’ve used or heard of. I expect to add more when you let me know what this list is missing! Feel free to email me at beckycmurphy@gmail.com and I’ll supplement this post with whatever I missed. Be sure to check out Megan’s post on Greetingsfromtexas.com.

Special thanks to Langford Market for sponsoring our talk.


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My GIF to you

SHORT

This is a little something I made for another little something. It also serves as a makeshift blog post.

Avery Monsen once said, “The important thing to remember is that tea doesn’t taste very good without sugar. Animated GIFs are the sugar of the internet, in the sense that they are delicious but also cause irreversible tooth decay. (We’re so sorry about all this.)”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

(Found in this article.  What Avery + Jory John are to interviews is what Austin is to jorts + live music. ) FYI, these two are the brains behind All My Friends Are Dead.


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H yes! Cross Dressing testimonial

My friend Jordan is doing some work for the upcoming film, Believe Me. As a marketing ploy, they’ve launch the clothing line (it’s very real and you can order today) called Cross Dressing. The tees are quite funny and punny. I highly recommend checking them out.

I also recommend that you watch this video because it is hilarious. Even though I am in the video, I can say that because from this tiny experience I learned what a great director can do. Jorby was just that. We were just a few dorkos taking orders. What a fun project! Also starring Bekah and Jackie.


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Ideal project

laurenkelp2

I’ve been doing some fun logos lately, most of which involve hand lettering. Will be posting more projects as I wrap them up.

This is for my friend Lauren. She’s always up to something! I’ll share the bigger scope when it’s ready.

I’d like to do more work like this, so if you know anyone who’s got a hankering for some watercolor/lettering/etc., please connect us!


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Improv 101

yay!I took my first improv class last night.

It was a hoot.

I think anybody could do it. Maybe everybody should do it.

There are so many life applications I’ve already learned in class, like accepting (and even welcoming!!!) failure. When you fail it means you’re trying something new and taking a risk. You create a space for vulnerability and you invite others to fail with you. It’s also about taking the attention off of you and giving it to someone else. How can I make Shana look the best right now? It’s about being present. When you’re present, you’re not planning. When you plan, it’s you focusing on you, to protect you or give you the ego boost of having said the funniest thing. We lose opportunities to collaborate that way. Since you have to think fast, you’re probably going to piggyback off of what’s already been done (this is a good thing). You give it a new twist. You add to it. You morph it. All that plus commitment, and blammo! Hilarity ensues!

I’m only one deep, but I think I’m going to get into it. Good stuff.

I’ve always wanted to try it. Though it was one of the scarier things I’ve signed up for in the last few years, once I got there, it was a breeze.

I wonder how much I don’t do because I fear the initial getting-used-to-it phase. How long do we stay at jobs we outgrow because of this? Relationships? Miss out on rock climbing and sailing, because we don’t know how and it’s “hard to learn”? We’re not afraid of the new thing; we’re just afraid of the beginning of the new thing—the going through puberty with the new thing.

Well folks, it’s going to be awkward.

But after one class/month/trial, it’s probably going to be worth it.


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Thoughts on gratitude

happinessishereI’ve been feeling really good lately. There are a lot of contributing factors, but I’ll talk about the top contender.

Gratitude.

You already know it’s good. It’s healthy. It’s important.

But unless you make an effort to practice gratitude, you won’t be transformed by it.

At my core I’m pretty optimistic and fairly reasonable. When I hear myself complain about false problems (“I hate that I’m so busy! I have social engagements every night this week!”), I’m usually able to snap out of it and remember that this is a good problem not a problem.

But there have only been three seasons in my life when I specifically remember making a daily effort to be thankful. More than just a quick “thakya” prayer. Each time I’ve engaged in an “attitude of gratitude”, I’ve been changed by it. My perspective shifts on nearly everything. I’m less likely to compromise or get stuck. I dream bigger and my mind doesn’t have time to think about the worst case scenario—I’m too busy dreaming about what’s to come. I see things with a new lens.

Last time I was in this habit, I spent my five minute drive to and from the office with music off and just saying what I was thankful for.

Now I meditate for 10 minutes. Either in complete stillness, just focusing on my breath. Or I time it for five minutes of gratitude and five minute of dreaming. That’s it! Only a few minutes! I also have a journal dedicated to writing down 10 things I’m thankful for, as well as 10 new ideas every day. I’ve been doing it more and more when I drive (not the journal part, the one before that) because wherever I am, it’s the happiest I can be.

Check out this short video on the Happiness Project. I watched it five days ago and I still think about it every day.

I hope you have a jolly day, full of hugs, smiles and good laughs. I’m glad you’re here.


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DETOXICATED PT. 3: Meals

detoxing-is-coolI know I still owe you some more information, like how much I spent and whatever else I mentioned in my Tuesday post, BUT, I went paddle boarding with Jenny today and I think this post will suffice.

I’ve had a few people ask what I ate and how I planned meals. Next time I do it I’d like to branch out and incorporate more vegetables (beets, radishes, etc). I’d also like to eat more of it raw, and use more recipes when I cook. Recipes that require mincing ginger and that sort of thing. I went very basic and didn’t research new ideas. Here’s how it typically broke down:

breakfast: smoothie or egg & spinach (eggs after day 10)

smoothie: frozen strawberries or blueberries, 2 carrots, a handful of kale or spinach, a tablespoon of cocoa powder (if it had strawberries), 1 scoop of protein powder (Garden of Life raw protein, whey, Whole Foods, vanilla $20), 1/2 avocado, 1/4 cucumber.  I put water in it during the cleanse, but almond milk after (no nuts allowed).

egg & spinach: scramble some egg, spinach, olive oil, sea salt, +/- 1/2 avocado.

lunch: brown rice/quinoa salad or leftovers

Usually consisted of some or all of the ingredients: rice/quinoa, spinach, kale, 1/2 avocado, tomato, cucumbers, sea salt, olive oil/coconut oil/ balsamic vinaigrette.

dinner: roasted vegetables

Examples: baked sweet potato (I learned that sometimes when we think we’re sick of a certain food, we’re really just sick of the texture. We started chopping these up into little chips and roasting them and it tasted like a whole new food), kale chips, butternut squash, summer squash, spaghetti squash (with garlic!), roasted eggplant, caramelized onions, roasted carrots, roasted broccoli, zucchini, etc.

Snacks: apples, carrots, peaches, clementines, mangos, pineapple.

I tried to only eat two servings of fruit /day. Though, I didn’t feel bad about treating myself.

MVP salad snack: spinach, avocado, mango, sea salt, olive oil.
MVP dinner: roasted carrots and broccoli, sweet potatoes doused in coconut oil.
MVP spice: thyme
MVP time saver: cooking a bunch of rice/quinoa early in the week so salads are all ready to go
Most improved: cucumbers and carrots
Most underrated: water

Do you have any good ways to mix up these foods? I’d like to hear what you’ve been doing. This is the most vanilla way to go, which is fine, but I think stepping up my game would make it a richer experience.


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Detoxicated pt. 2: findings & key players

key-players

Time to talk detox again.

If you think I’m dragging this out, think again. This is nothing compared to how much Michael Jordan talked about Nike in the 90′s. If my post from Tuesday didn’t convince you to give it a shot*, maybe this will. Happenings and findings:

1. I felt good after a few days, but fantastic around day 15.

2. I too am capable of calling roasted carrots a “guilty pleasure”.

3. I rediscovered why home-cooked meals at the dinner table (or balcony!) are the centerfold of anti-drug campaigns. It’s fun! And you get to talk to your roommate (or whoever!) about your day. You have to stop working and either eat the delicious meal your friend made, or…plan…and cook a meal for said friend.

4. I (now) mostly understand how much nourishment I need. Planning isn’t that hard. If I’m going out for the day, I know how much to pack and I don’t have to worry about a wave of unsolicited hunger.

5. Budgeting is easier. See #10.

6. Raw vegetables taste better and better the more you give them a chance.

7. I understand my body more. If food is the biggest drug, and you know you’re doing the best you can, it’s easier to identity reasons for an off day.

8. I appreciate the delicacies now that I’m on the dark side again. And I don’t need to overindulge because a little goes a long way. I’m talking to you, booze and ice cream.

9. I feel less entitled to snack every time I have the slightest pang of peckishness. Planning is expected.

10. I $aved a lot of money. No restaurants + no bars = treat yo self to Whole Foods once in a while.

BONUS: I’m less hungry and my skin is significantly clearer.

*wheatgrass shot


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Detoxicated

carrotface

Remember that detox (similar to the elimination diet) I talked about not too long ago? I finished it up on Saturday. It was a wonderful journey. I learned a lot and I’m proud of myself for sticking to it.

Recap of the rules: 21 days. 1-10: fruits, veggies, protein powder, 1 cup of rice or quinoa. 11-21: add meat/fish. Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, corn, nuts and beans are not permissible throughout the cleanse. After the detox is complete, add everything back one by one.

Now that I have the culinary world at my disposal, I have no desire to eat pizza or cookies anytime soon. What am I looking forward to eating now that I have this newfound freedom? Almond milk and hummus. Maybe garbanzo beans if I’m feeling frisky!

I’d rather share this information with you than keep it to myself in risk of sounding like a snobby granola. I feel fantastic, and I want you to as well. Just get through the first few days. It only gets better, and if I can do it, anyone can do it. This is what I ate the weeks prior. My food groups were ice cream, cheese, bagels and vodka tonics. I never thought that when this was over I’d want to stick with it.

I highly recommend.

My friend Lindsey does it every six months, and I hope to do the same (if not earlier). I’ll let you know when I do it next. Maybe if you haven’t already given it a try, we can all do it together. Eh?

roastedcarrots

Later this week I’ll talk more about:

-Meals throughout
-Itemized grocery list, and exactly how much every meal cost (never more than $9/day)
-On the go
-MVP foods
-helpful tricks
-Whole Foods vs. H-E-B
-What I learned about my body & how I learned to respect food

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On showing your work

common-prayer2

When I start to overthink sharing sketches, I remember Austin Kleon’s words: show your work. 

So here it is. A naked sketchbook page. I was about to upload this post with a 30% prettier version, but realized that was kind of lame. It’s like the college girl who does her makeup, straightens her hair and chooses hoop earrings, only to put on Pink sweats, Uggs and a messy bun. Are you dressed up or are you not? It’s non-committal and it’s confusing.

That’s why I’d rather eat raw broccoli than look at some of my previous drawings. At least broccoli knows what it’s about.

Now I’m getting dramatic.

I think first drafts are good and worth sharing. If we let our guards down a tiny bit, we will see that the greats weren’t so great and the journey to the the final is a product of its own. We produce more if we don’t have to save it for perfection.

Let’s show our work.

Our process.

This is a safe place.

Either way it’s not a big deal, so just do whatever.

*Words from Common Prayer

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Merrymaking!

merrymaking-01

Join Katie and Stancy for Half Orange‘s jolly photography workshop, Merrymaking! Spots are limited so reserve yours today. Email halforangephotography@gmail.com to claim your seat or ask any questions.

These are the kindest, most professional ladies in the Western Hemisphere. I’m lucky to call them friends, and you will be too if you take the jump in August. Check out photos from a past workshop.

One more note—they have the most beautiful Instagram pictures. I suggest following @halforangephoto.

halforange

Above flier designed by yours truly for Half Orange Photography. Above photo taken by Half Orange Photography.


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Writing about a writing class!

spikeThanks to Super Agent Laurie Abkemeier, I’m pals with Dr. Kate, and  thanks to Kate, I’m not only pals with Spike, but also taking her badass writing workshop.

Thanks to our strong friendships, I’m not going to edit that run-on s    s  e   n    t      e      n            c              e, despite the fact that Laurie is a lit agent, Kate a writer-surgeon-lawyer-furniture maker-landlord, and Spike, a renown writing instructor.

Shoot! Did it again!

Weeks fill up quickly with work, appointments, meetings, playdates (for me), etc. Tuesdays are a night of rest. The class sits in a room occupied by yogis the hour prior. We listen to each other’s essays, poems and stories. Some hardly read; some always read. It’s life-giving both ways. On the especially saucy nights, someone shares a haiku. I love it. It’s inspiring to sit in a room full of women serious about their craft and seriously good.

I recommend checking out Spike’s workshops, retreats or coaching. She’s a great listener and great teacher. Are you guys in any classes, workshops or going on any retreats? A friend of mine in Philadelphia just took a French class with her boyfriend. I love hearing about other grown up’s extracurricular activities. It’s aways good to step away from our regular demands, and indulge in the unknown.

*drawing by yours truly during our last class.

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My favorite

liveinpeace

I have an index card of these words hanging above my desk but it’s gotten lost amongst the other, louder wall hangings. I had to take a second to redraw it.

I find myself needing grace especially on the first one, as I don’t budget for many faults in my life. Then when mistakes happen, I feel blindsided by my own humanness. Luckily, I’ve found that when we’re truly thankful, we have no room to wallow in guilt or shame. Peace has been here this whole time!

“Allow room for faults. Live in peace. Be thankful.” —Paul, somewhere in Colossians 


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Her?

bra-lessOne thing I’ve learned since going freelance is that I mustn’t deprive myself a doodle when I need to doodle.

Otherwise they come and go like the wind.

This braless woman could have just been a memory had her story never been told.

Damn, it feels good to be a scribe.

UPDATE: Chad Conine was so inspired by this drawing that he wrote a backstory for the braless lady. It’s a good read!

Carla Wallenda caught a glimpse of herself in the side of the building. One of those downtown buildings with green-tinted mirrors covering the exterior walls. “Whose idea was this?” Carla wondered. “How many people want to see themselves trudging along the city street and in tinted green at that?”

Not Carla. In fact, Carla always found it jarring to see herself in an unexpected mirror. In her head, she still looked like Farrah Fawcett. And she could still see that part of herself in the mirror in her bathroom. She trained herself well at that mirror. In front of it, she could maintain the image in her head. But then, out of nowhere, this unfriendly mirror that just didn’t understand. Whoever built this building might as well post someone outside to criticize each passer-by. “Hi, Carla, you’re much heavier than you think. Your bright red glasses do not match your mustard yellow, olive green and musty orange top. And, for heaven’s sake, wear a bra.”

As such the Farrah Fawcett image was struggling to maintain itself. So Carla took a deep breath and told herself that this frumpy lady had her place as a disguise. A disguise, it should be noted, that had taken years to properly develop and served her well. After more than 30 years, she appeared to be in the ideal place between normal and crazy, the way most people look when they’re stumbling around a new city, sleep deprived but determined to see the sites and snap a few pictures. Her hair had slowly faded from brunette to salt-and-pepper to its current leaning-gray grandma-do. The bright red glasses were the finishing touch. Carla knew it the minute she found them while online shopping. She felt like a trendy teenager when she clicked on the “add to cart” button. Could any other item accomplish the dual task of making her feel young and hip while appearing old and batty. Carla doubted it.

Regardless, the entire ensemble might as well be an invisibility cloak. As if to prove her point, a spiky-haired, tribal-tattooed young man walked past her on the sidewalk. Nothing. Not even that patronizing, “hi, granny” smile she sometimes received. “You silly punk,” she thought. “I would’ve stopped your father in his tracks.”

And she would’ve, too. For the better part of two decades, Carla had been a professional object of desire. Exalted, sort of. At least literally held high for thousands to marvel at her grace and beauty. In a short, glorious time of life, Carla had been the centerpiece of the Flying Wallendas. The youngest daughter and slightly cuter than her older sister, Valerie. OK, so trapeze artist didn’t exactly rank with movie star or supermodel on the desirability scale. But it accomplished the same thing when the circus, featuring the Flying Wallendas, landed in cities and towns throughout the country.

Carla sighed to herself. No one would believe half her story if they stopped her right here on this street and asked her, which they wouldn’t anyway.

The 70s were almost over and the Flying Wallendas were almost to the safety of the platform when Carla’s story changed forever. She and her sister were twirling flaming batons while Carla’s brother-in-law Bruce, Valerie’s husband, held Valerie and Carla above his head, one on each hand, which was not quite as comfortable as a bar stool. Bruce sat on Rick’s shoulders while Rick carefully pedaled his bicycle across a tight wire extended 100 feet above the ground with no safety net. Rick Wallenda, Valerie and Carla’s brother, had guided his bicycle across the tight wire plenty of times before. But this time something — Carla could never stop wondering what. A fly? A flash? She had no answers — startled him enough to wobble. That wobble led to a tilt and then a fall all the way to the concrete in the center ring at the Detroit State Fair Coliseum.

Only Carla survived. She landed on Bruce’s broad, muscular buttocks and rolled over on her sister.

It was all so gruesome and sad that Carla preferred not to remember that part of it. She was able to hold on to the brilliant memories of the excitement and then cheers and traveling with family and the pretty leotards.

Come to think of it, that’s how Carla had fallen out of the habit of wearing a bra. When you spend way more than half your life wearing leotards, and then you change out of your show clothes into a night shirt and fall asleep, the bra becomes an object relegated to special occasions. Only you don’t have so many special occasions. And then practically your whole family dies and you go a bit numb and stop worrying or even knowing if you’re wearing a bra or not.

And then one day you’re working in your garden, having quit the circus, and wondering what would to do next and two men in black suits are suddenly standing in front of you and you notice for the first time in 18 months that you are not, in fact, wearing a bra. Oh well.

The CIA turned out to be a perfect fit for Carla. The same fearlessness, not to mention athleticism, that served her so well when she was swinging from the trapeze or traipsing across the tight wire came in handy. Dangerous, strange situations didn’t bother her either. Surreal had been the jumping off point for Carla’s life. With a healthy dose of detachment mixed in, the world became a lucid dream. Carla hadn’t done much after the accident, accept gain 40 pounds and grow antsy for a return to a more exciting life. That’s where the men in black found her, ready to be crafty and invisible.

Throughout the 80s and 90s, Carla wandered through the cities of the world on the U.S. government’s dime. She was a perpetual tourist, acting lost and a bit overwhelmed. All of it a clever ruse to mask reconnaissance. Carla reckoned she had the acting ability to win Oscars, if only her performance weren’t for an audience of zero.

In reality, Farrah Fawcett had nothing on Carla.


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Goodbye, pizza I>

pizza

Remember my talk of a detox? It is time. Had I started it when I was supposed to, it would already be over. BUT, there were interferences. Luckily, my roommate is in on it with me. We spent about $100 on fruits and veggies at Whole Foods last night! Wowee zowee! More deets beets to come.

21-day detox prescribed by Lindsey:

1-10: fruits, veggies, 1 cup of brown rice/quinoa, organic whey protein for morning smoothie.
11-21: same as first half, but we can add meat and fish. After that, add corn, beans, dairy, nuts, etc. one by one (every few days) to monitor sensitivities.

Yes: olive oil, cooking spices
No: everything else and caffeine

I think I’ll highly recommend you try it, but I won’t say anything until I’m at least half way through. Enjoy time with your friends, French Silk Pie and Tater Tots. I’ll be fine, as Jasmine (rice) and Peach (not the one you’re thinking of—the fruit) will keep me company for now.

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step by step by step by step by step by step

step-by-step203

The things I’m most proud of took many baby steps to get to the final moment of fist-pump victory.

Even the little ones, like when we stick up for someone who can’t defend themselves or politely walk away from toxic situations, add up to something big.  They’re the sum of who we are.

Whether it’s writing a book, preparing for an art show, training for a race, saving money or letting go of a grudge. Taking a thousand steps may not be possible, but taking one step a thousand times is. Happy journey, y’all.

“Left foot, right foot, left foot, breathe.” —Anne Lamott’s priest friend, Tom


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Every day is new and every day I am new.

doodles

I was born 26 years ago today.

So far it has been a good day. My roommate woke me up to Pa Pa Power*, made blueberry pancakes, mimosas and chai tea. Later we’re going to Barton Springs (everyone is invited) then happy hour for some food and drinks.

I’m a very goal-oriented type of person. My inclination is to write a list of things I have to do this year. We all know that 26 is just as, if not more important than 21, 30, 50 or 100. I kid! I kid!

It took some willpower to stop myself from doing that. While those lists are inspring, they take me away from appreciating the sweet present. I already have everything I need. Not “almost”, “ish” or “usually”.  Right here on this balcony, with this breeze and these birds who think that just because we’re neighbors we are friends (they tend to get really close).

God has been holding my hand all this time and even when I’ve been the worst, He still manages to give me a giant hug and tell me that every day is new and every day I am new.That is enough for me.

*the rule in the Haus of Bekz is that every time Ryan Gosling’s Pa Pa Power is played, you have to drop what you’re doing and lance* for the duration of the song. You can imagine the “pleasant surprise”  this was at 7 AM!

**Lancercise is an exercise that combines lunge and dance. Best paired with the aforementioned Pa Pa Power. Soon it will have its own Wikipedia page, and I will link to that.

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Mmmm…

i'd-rather-pie198

Another drawing from Saturday’s Daft Punk Craft-a-thon.

This is the end of the Saturday Daft Punk Craft-a-thon series.


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“The thumb will decide” —Dennis

thumbs-up186This doodle-daddle turned acrylic-on-colored pencil-on-crayon was part of our Daft Punk Craft-a-thon on Saturday. I’m always keen on a thumbs up, but after starring for a few days, I was reminded of my father. When we were younger and asked him any sort of  ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question (“Dad, can I quit band?” “Dad, can Alicia spend the night?”), he always said he’d ask the thumb.

Then his thumb became a separate creature. It was an uncontrollable being outside of his hand. It would have escaped if it wasn’t so…attached. His fist would start to shake like the girl with a spoon full of Jello in Jurassic Park. BUT HIS SHOOK WAY MORE. It would rattle back and forth horizontally as it was trying to decide our fate: yay or nay. Up or down. We waited anxiously, knowing it was probably a thumbs down. There’d be no reason to stall delivering jovial news. Sometime it was a yes; and for that we celebrated by ditching band and taking up slumber parties.


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And I draw

Mort,-the-tiniest-whaleDoodle from last week.

This weekend was fun; Beth visited from Des Moines and we had a helluva good time.

At one crafty point, Beks, Beth and I drew pictures on the balcony while listening to Daft Punk and Alt-J. Scans to come.


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Fridyay Reads: DE BONO’S THINKING COURSE

proof-in-imaginationCurrently reading De Bono’s Thinking Course.

In his chapter on alternatives, De Bono writes, “Often, we are convinced of a hypothesis or explanation simply because we can’t imagine an alternative explanation.”

I’m also really enjoying the chapter on decision-making. More to come, folks. There’s some good stuff in here.

*Where did I find it? Saw it on Stefen Sagmeister’s reading list. No questions asked.


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Girl Feels Entitled To Draw What She Ate Due To Flight Delay

hippie-doctor

I was in Iowa last week and it was a hoot. A buffet of fun, folly, saturated fat and friendship.

When I’m home, I love going to my hippie doctor friend, Lindsey. She did some nutrition testing, and would ya look at that ↑, I need to detox.

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Spirit Monsters

spiritmonsters3Who is your spirit monster? Jed? Tia? Or Clive?

Jed likes going for long runs to clear his mind. He’s almost always a vegetarian, but loves an excuse for a good burger. Though thoughtful and courageous, loyalty might be Jed’s strongest suit. He’d never snap at his mother and his music library is always two years behind. One year if it’s rap.

Tia is a helper and a fighter. She’d rather pluck Clive’s back hair than see a fellow monster in need. In fact, that’s why she plucks Clive’s back hair: it gets gross and she likes to help. Her motto is, “yes, and”. Partially because she learned it in improv and partially because that’s how she orders dessert, which is often. She’s a challenger and has high expectations for her friends (in a good way).

Clive tends to let himself go. Nobody minds though, because when Clive is happy, everyone is happy. He’s the life of the party and never misses a beat. Quick witted and oven-mitted. “Brake for cake”, says his bumper sticker. He drives a Prius but only because he inherited it from his father, who recently moved across seas for work.

Portfolio is up!

portfolio!

My portfolio is finally up! Check out www.beckycmurphy.com

Thankful for this land

deer

I am the recipient of the most freedom in the world, and I didn’t even have the decency of showing any gratitude on Memorial Day.

I watched our small town parade that my dad, a Vietnam veteran marches in every year.

I ate at the annual pancake breakfast our local fire fighters put on to make sure we don’t get too thin before swimsuit season.

I watched Arrested Development all day with my family, took a nap and went on a long walk with my mom and sister on a dreamy new trail.

Still, not much gratitude.

Then Dad picked us up because we got so far from the city that we realized we wouldn’t get home in time to watch the Bachelorette and polish off the pan of oh henry bars mom made earlier.

This was Memorial Day.

ducks

I know I’m not expected to do much more than that, but I’m a little disgusted by my lack of thankfulness and patriotism. My dad sent a nice email yesterday to remind us of our freedoms and I didn’t read it until today. I feel blindsided, even though this day has been marked year after year.

God loves every nation the same, and I don’t think America is better than anyone else. But I still think we are quite blessed, and this is a day week to settle down and sigh in relief because most Americans do get to live in peace. Nothing is free. Thank you to those who sacrificed so much more than tv show marathons and oh henry bars to give the rest of us freedom and equality.

Pre-order I’D RATHER BE SHORT!

Idratherbeshort

I am so proud to introduce you to my baby girl, I’d Rather Be Short. Some of you may already know her and some of you may not.

She’s a very special project I’ve been working hard on over the last year. She started on the blog, then found her way into the Penguin/Plume hands. Now she’s a real live book.

She is filled with 100 reasons why it’s awesome to be small. It all started because I wanted someone to tell me these things, and through the process of creating the book, I’ve internalized those reasons and now I get to share them with you. This concept is just one version of the same story: embrace who you are.

I’d Rather Be Short is going to be on shelves this November. What’s better than seeing buying it in stores? Pre-ordering. You can pre-order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound and Books-A-Million.

Pre-orders are important for many reasons, but the early sales help determine the fate of the book. I’ll get to make more books and it will be sold in more places if there is an enthusiastic push early on.

I’m so thrilled to finally get to show you the cover and update you on the process. I can’t thank you all enough for your support throughout this exciting journey.

high-heels2

chairshare

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grate cheese

cheese-grater

Dirty Secrets: Wood burnin’ style

c-BURN

b2

It’s not very dirty and it’s definitely not a secret, but I’ll let you in on it. I don’t know anyone else who does wood burning (though I know there are plenty of you out there). I started doing it a few years ago when I moved to Waco and didn’t know anyone. It evolved into a fun Etsy business (which is partially why I started this blog), and now I usually just do them as gifts.

Sometime they’re done by hand with a cheap wood burning pen (top C), and sometimes they’re laser cut (bottom B). I started getting them laser cut to cut costs so I could get more Etsy buyers. I likened it to illustrated cards. Handmade, but mass produced. You can pretty much get anything laser cut if you vectorize it. This allows for more detail in the art (not that this B is a good example of detail). Of course the benefit of doing it by hand is exactly that—it’s produced by your very own duck-watching-whisky-drinking-grandpa hands. It’s harder to do and it looks less polished. Luckily rugged is so hot right now.

I’d love to improve my work. If anyone knows of any seasoned wood burners, please let me know! If you know of better wood or a nice pen you swear by, I’d like to know about it. I’m just an amateur, but I hope this inspires you to give it a shot. It’s quite fun and nothing beats the smell of burning wood. Not a bad Mad Men activity either. Try it out and send some pics!

NOTE: You can get the wood planks for Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, as well as the wood burning pen. Most cities have someone who does laser cutting, and they just might vectorize your art if you pay them enough. I recommend Texas Tape and Label if you’re in the Waco region. 

Mother’s Day contest

babemoms

amaniRemember how it’s Mother’s Day on May 12?…

…right.

Remember how you put off thinking about it last year and then you scrambled to figure something out last minute? Let’s not let this year be another statistic.

Emily Kirwan and I are here to help. Emily works for Amani Ya Juu, a company that empowers African women to make and sell their goods at a fair price. Check them out here.

We want to give you a shot at winning some sweet goods for the best lady in your life; it’s almost like winning a stuffed animal for your date at the county fair. Almost.

Winner gets to pick something from this page on the Amani site, as well as a personalized card made by yours truly. That’s what moms want, right? Someone else’s kid to make the card?

To win these jewels, you can either:

1. Tell a sweet  or funny little story about your mama. Or perhaps describe her lovable quirks. Write it in the comments or Tweet/Instagram it to @beckycmurphy

or

2. Post a photo of your mom (with or without you, vintage or recent). Use the hashtag, #ICalledMyMomToday. Or, again, Tweet/Instagram it to @beckycmurphy. We’ll find you!

Do so by 11:00 AM Sunday, May 5. We’ll randomly pick the winner at that time.

Again, baby steps

chipperthings-426These are some faces I drew in my sketchbook. Must. Draw. More.

One post at a time.

Baby steps.

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