Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Won Camp NaNoWriMo!

I managed to get done on the very last day but I reached 10,000 words! However, I didn't write the linked short stories like I had planned. I ended up writing memoir again.

Every NaNoWriMo project I do ends up being memoir. I think it's time to accept that something in me strongly wants to write memoir and I need to take that seriously.

For now, I will bask in the glow of having written 10,000 words and reaching my goal. It feels good!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day's Darker side

Earth Day Comments & Graphics

Today, April 22, is Earth Day. While many will be posting about different ways to celebrate Earth Day, I think giving people suggestions on how to celebrate Earth Day is silly. This year I'm going to do something different. The truth is Earth Day has a bit of a darker side. There's been confusion and controversy for the last 44 years that isn't all that well known. I apologize ahead of time if this whole post seems a bit cynical.

What is Earth Day?
Earth Day is an annual worldwide event, celebrated on or around April 22, on which events and celebrations are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It has been celebrated since 1970, is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.

This is often confused with the holiday that goes by the same name which is celebrated in March on the Spring Equinox. According to Holiday Insights, the Earth Day celebrated on the Spring Equinox is called International Earth Day and Earth Day celebrated on April 22 is called the U.S. Earth Day. The International Earth Day official website is

It's rather ironic that the earlier March Earth Day is considered the International Earth Day and the August 22 Earth Day is only considered only national for the United States when, like I stated earlier, it is celebrated worldwide.

Who Started Earth Day?
April 22 Earth Day
According to the Earth Day Network:

"The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land."

March Earth Day
However according to Wikipedia the idea was originally proposed by John McConnell and Gaylord Nelson's Earth Day was separate but proposed around the same time.

"In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature's equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970.

Why was April 22 Chosen?
It's easy to understand why the Spring Equinox was chosen for McConnell's Earth Day but Gaylord Nelson chose the April 22 date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he called an "environmental teach-in". He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best because it did not fall during exams or spring breaks, conflict with the Easter holiday, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) 
Some sources say the EPA is said to have been created as a result of the April 22, 1970 Earth Day. More about the origins of the EPA can be read about at The Guardian, but aside from being created the same year as the April 22 Earth Day it doesn't say how this direct correlation occurred.

Confusion and Controversy Surrounding the Two Dates
Not only is there two Earth Days created by two different people, the original idea for Earth Day may have been created by neither of these two and go as far back as 1961. An article at The Washington Times explains, "...the original idea was supposedly contained in a memo to President John Kennedy from Fred Dutton who served as Presidential Assistant to Kennedy from 1961 to 1962."

Along with the drama of whose idea it really was, it was accused of being a Communist plot. This is because April 22, 1970, was also the 100th anniversary of the birth of communist politician Vladimir Lenin, a detail that many conspiracy theorists used as evidence of Communism. Other controversies included a controversial Time magazine photo and an explosion of an offshore drilling rig in 2011, which was the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Others complain Earth Day feel what started as a grassroots movement has now become sanctioned by the government. Personally I find the complaint ridiculous considering the April 22 Earth Day was created by a U.S. Senator meaning it was created by the U.S. government in the first place. In fact, I'm guessing the fact that the holiday is sanctioned by the U.S. government is why it grew to become worldwide celebration. Other controversies include issues with state or local government officials openly supporting Earth Day while making hushed deals or laws that go directly against its ideals.

Most recently is the outrage that companies are using Earth Day to promote their products or brag about how environmentally friendly they supposedly are. These include Johnson & Johnson, Chysler, Kmart, The Disney Store, Jo-Ann Fabric, Pottery Barn, Sears, GE, Home Depot, Dell, Ford, Coca-Cola, and Sodastream. There's a name for this. It's called "greenwashing."
Earth Day Comments & Graphics

Earth Day is Everyday Movement
Perhaps the biggest controversy of all is the backlash the movement has received because it is only one day (well technically two days) a year. Many people oppose the holiday because they feel people show concern for the earth and the environment only because it's a "holiday" but then go back to harming the environment once the holiday is over.

They also complain that the media only pays attention to environmental issues on Earth Day. Or what's worse is the media uses the day to spread negative information like this article called Earth Day Special: The Media's 25 Worst Environmental Quotes. Last year Fox &Friends used Earth Day to  "Cheer Fossil Fuels." They spent the entire day promoting fossil fuels. (I wish I was joking.) This year Fox's theme seemed to be The Earth is Doing Just Fine, Thank You. The day should be called Climate Change Denial Day for them.

Even the government has some pretty silly campaigns. Last year NASA had what is called Earth Day 2014 #GlobalSelfie. The idea is to take a selfie (picture of yourself) outside in nature and then post it on a social media site with the tag #GlobalSelfie. The point is to make a "mosaic image of Earth." Will it actually do anything to help the Earth? In my opinion, not a darn thing. But I guess it will at least get people outside. That's something right? It must have been popular because they decided to do it again this year.

Here's a list of links to people who aren't so thrilled with Earth Day:

Has Earth Day Become Corporate Greenwash Day?

Why I Hate Earth Day

Why I hate Earth Day II: the road to hell in baby steps

Confessions of an Environmentalist: Why I Hate Earth Day

Has Earth Day Turned into Sweetest Day?

Top Five Dumbest Greenwashed Earth Day Gimmicks

Why Earth Day Makes Me Cringe

I Love Earth Day…I Hate Only Recognizing it Once a Year

Earth Day Sucks

Why I Dislike Earth Day

Let's Cancel Earth Day, Shall We?

Earth Day: Pros & Cons

This Earth Day, Let's Scrape off the Greenwash

It’s Earth Day… let’s keep it real.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Do You Play the Single Mom Card?

I've been reading a book called Character Makeover: 40 Days with a Life Coach to Create the Best You by Katie Brazelton and Shelley Leith. I'm on Week 1 which is about the character trait humility. On Day 2, there is a self assessment quiz about how humble you are and when I filled out this quiz I had a rather shocking and unpleasant realization. 

A few of the questions ask if you feel entitled to special treatment because of your life situations or call attention to your sacrifices. The authors don't call it this, but to me when you want praise for your sacrifices, that's being a martyr.

I started to think about all the times I have played the "single mom card" to gain advantage in situations. I wish I could say there have only been a few, but I realized I use being a single mom as an excuse often. I use it both to gain things and to get out of things.

There have been a few times where I have played the single mom card to try to get out of traffic tickets. I've even gone to the extent of turning on the water works and crying about how I can't afford to pay it. I forced extra tears one year when I knew the ticket payment would be due right around Christmastime. Sometimes I got off with a warning and sometimes I didn't but the truth is I know I deserved those traffic tickets.

I wish this is the only time I could say I've used the single mom card for financial gain but I receive Survivor Benefits for being a widow. I never before felt guilty about this because I mistakenly assumed all widows and widowers received their late spouse's Social Security. This isn't true at all! I just learned last week that a widow or widower can only receive Survivor's Benefits if he or she has children. I know this isn't my fault but it's certainly an advantage that I have had for being a single mother.

I have played the single mom card often to gain sympathy. I'm divorced but since I'm also a widow I sometimes get extra sympathy points. There are times when the fact that I am a widow and single mother comes up in the conversation naturally but I do have to admit sometimes I have worked it into the conversation just to get a supportive reaction. There are times when a "I don't know how you do it!" is just the ego stroke that I need. I need someone to acknowledge, as my kids say, the struggle is real. When I'm feeling really needy I will tell my story so that I get an "Oh you poor thing!" I don't exaggerate or lie about a single thing but I have learned how to tell it in a way that is emotionally manipulating. 

I have used that I'm a single mother not once but twice to get out of jury duty. I have used it as an excuse not to be able to chaperone field trips, volunteer for various school events, help friends and family with things like moving, but worst of all I use it as an excuse for not following my dreams. I can't go to college because I'm a single mom! I can't write a novel because I'm a single mom! I can't date right now because I'm a single mom! I can't fill in the blank because I'm a single mom!

Certainly all of these things are harder because I'm a single mother, but to say I can't do it because I'm a single mom is completely ridiculous. It's absolutely an excuse. I might as well say I can't do it because I'm too attached to being a martyr. The truth is being a single mother is something that has caused false humility in me. I use it in ways that either hold me back or take advantage of a situation and none of that is healthy.

The martyr thing is something I tell my kids at times too. Sometimes it's sincere but sometimes I play it like a card. Do you know how much I've had to sacrifice to raise you by myself? Do you know what I've gone through? Do you know how hard my life has been?

Of course they don't. They haven't lived my life and they don't know what it's like to be a parent. Yet for some reason I expect them to be able to appreciate what I've done for them and stroke my ego for being the martyr that I am. I'm not saying they should be ungrateful but I shouldn't expect them to give me sympathy for something they can't possibly understand either.

Being a single mother is the way that my life has been harder but it doesn't automatically mean that my life is harder than anyone elses. It doesn't mean that I'm any more special than the other millions of parents in the world. Being a single mom doesn't give me a free pass to get out of doing what's expected of me and it shouldn't be used for dodging responsibility. I need to stop playing the single mom card.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Blog Using My Name Isn't a Violation of Blogger Policy

Yesterday I wrote about a blog using my name that is clearly written by someone who isn't me. The person is also using the names of two other people as their blog names. I contacted both of them via email and they are as frustrated as I am that someone has create blogs piggybacking on our names. (Oddly we also feel slightly complimented.)

This was the response that I got from Google. To say I am ticked off would be quite the understatement. The only way to contact this person is through Google + and I really doubt I will ever get a response. How is this not a violation? Maybe I should retitle this blog Hillary Clinton so I get millions of hits. 


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Monday, April 13, 2015

Identity Theft or Why is Someone Using My Name for Their Blog?

I like to Google my name from time to time to see what shows up in the listings. When I searched my name this morning I found something interesting. I found a blog called

Now I certainly didn't think this was strange at first. I've always assumed that I'm not the only Julie Cornewell in the world. I started exploring the blog and noticed the author of the posts was someone named Allison Wedgies. That's odd I thought. I chalked it up to "Allison Wedgies" being just a handle.

I then decided to Google "julie cornewell allison wedgies" and that's when I came up with something really strange. This post at Teaching with Technology lists several blogs that Allison Wedgies writes. She writes a number of blogs that include other people's names in the title.

Check out some of my other blogs that I write about: Teaching with TechnologyWhy Don’t You Believe Me RecordsEthan PettitRIZAL'S BLOGBack and ForthAmy's Self Defense for Women BlogElisa BethSipho Mpongo PhotographyJulie CornewellDonuts in Dior

Why is this person writing blogs using other people's names?  Most of all, why is my name being used as a blog name!? Even the technology and self defense blogs have photos and artwork on them. None of these blogs appear to actually be about what the title claims. This Allison is the sole blogger at them all. Is she using real people's names to create her blogs?

It turns out she is also hijacking (for a lack of a better term) two other names. Ethan Pettit is a real artist. His real blog is and Allison appears to have created a fake blog using his name. Sipho Mpongo is also a real photographer. However the real website for Sipho is

I'm not sure what I can do. Even if I could get ahold of someone at Google, I'm not sure they could or would actually do anything. All that is being used is my name. She hasn't copied anything I have posted but this does feel like some sort of identity theft. I will definately be contacting Ethan and Sipho to let them both know this person is doing this.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Alanis Morrissette's Spiritual Recovery from Anxiety and Depression

I have become a huge fan of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. This past Sunday, I also caught an episode of In Deep Shift with Jonas Elrod featuring Alanis Morrisette. I have always been a huge fan of Alanis but to learn her story about her (spiritual) recovery from anxiety and depression touched me deeply.

In the episode, she explains in detail the story behind the song Thank U and how it was a life changing breakthrough for her.

When I searched for these links I also discovered that Alanis was on a past episode of Super Soul Sunday.

Learning all of this makes me an even bigger fan of her.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 Linked Reading Challenge

What is the 2015 Linked Reading Challenge?
The 2015 Linked Reading Challenge is a yearlong challenge for reading a unique genre of boojks called linked short stories or short story cycles. This genre lies somewhere between short story collections and the novel. The most recent popular book in this genre is Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.

A list of a few dozen examples can be found here. As I come across more books in this genre I will be adding them to the list.

Reviewing the Books
If you are writing book reviews, I want you to do more than just tell why you liked it or not. I want you to describe where on the short story collection to novel spectrum this book lies. Was it more like a short story collection or a novel? How were the stories connected? Were they connected by theme, place, or by people?

The Levels:
Weak Link: 1 - 4 books
Strong Link: 5 - 9 books
Stronger Link: 10 - 14 books
Strongest Link: 15 - 19 books
Unbreakable Link: 20 or more books

The Rules: 
This challenge ends Dec 31, 2015.

You may sign up anytime during the year.

You may include books of any format including traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks.

Books may be mainstream, literary, YA, romance, etc.

You may reread books.

Books may count towards other reading challenges.

Use the hashtag #2015LinkedReadingChallenge

If you could be so kind, please place the 2015 Linked Reading Challenge banner on your blog to help spread the word.

Please link back to this blog, post about it on Facebook, Tweet about it, and so on to help spread the word.

Signing Up
Before signing up, please create a post or page where you will list all the books you have read and then use that link for your Linky Tools below. If you don't have a blog you can still sign up by using a link to your Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and so on.

Writing Linked Short Stories

My Camp NaNoWriMo Book Synopsis: A series of linked short stories about how people are connected with each other in unexpected ways

I have wanted to write this book for about 2 years now. There's a problem though. I know how to write a short story. I know how to write a novel. But I don't know how to write linked short stories. I probably should have started doing this research long before now considering Camp NaNoWriMo starts in a week but better late than never. I may spend the entire year working on this project since there is another round of Camp NaNoWriMo in July and then NaNoWriMo in November.

In this post, I want to do two things. First, I want to create a list of links about linked short stories. This will be informational and instructional links on how to write a short story cycle (the proper name of this genre.) 

Second, I want to create a list of published linked short stories to read. The only short story cycle I knew of was The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank but it turns out there are dozens of books written using linked stories. I got most of the books on this list from a Goodread's thread but as I did more research I found even more examples. 

Linked Stories and the Short Story Cycle

Nonfiction Books about Linked Short Stories
The Short Story Cycle: A Genre Companion & Reference Guide by Susan Garland Mann

A List of Linked Short Stories
The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
The Alice Stories by Lee Kercheval
Bodies in Motion by Mary Anne Mohanraj
Why the Devil Chose New England for His Work by Jason Brown
Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollack
Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
Later, at the Bar by Rebecca Barry Alice Munro's
The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Time Enough for Love by Robert A Heinlein
The Things They Carried by Tim O' Brien
Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan After The Quake by Haruki Murakam
Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood
The Nightingales of Troy by Alice Fulton
Close to Spiderman by Ivan E. Coyote
Our Kind by Kate Walbert
Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber
Close Range: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
Varieties of Exile by Mavis Gallant
Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson
Dubliners by James Joyce
The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich
Stones for Ibarra by Harriet Doerr
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Last Call by K.L. Cook
Mary and O’Neil by Justin Cronin
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachmann
A Visit From The Good Squad by Jennifer Egan
So Much a Part of You by Polly Dugan

Monday, March 23, 2015

Do You Parallel Parent?

I was on a single parenting Facebook page this morning and I came across a question that asked: Do you practice coparenting or do parallel parenting?

Parallel parenting? What is that? I had never even heard the term before. It turns out I've been practicing parallel parenting with my ex husband without even realizing there was a name for it. 

Parallel parenting is a type of coparenting where parents interact with each other only when absolutely necessary. When they do speak they have limited direct contact, it's done in a respectful matter, and they only discuss issues that directly affect the child's care. The name actually originates from the way young children often play. They will play alongside each other but not with each other.

Parental duties are assigned and the logistics of the child's schedule are worked out so that the parents stay disengaged from one another as much as possible,

This style of coparenting is done so that recently separated or divorced couples can recover from the split or it's done when parents are high conflict and no amount of time will solve their differences. It is also done so that parents can effectively establish their individual role as a parent before beginning to coparent in the traditional way. Some experts believe a parent must learn to parent alone before they can learn to coparent.

The goal is to minimize children from getting caught between the two parents' drama and to prevent any further emotional stress on the child. This way the parents can focus on their role as caregivers separately from their role in the relationship. 

The emotional stress on a child doesn't always happen during the actual conflict. In traditional coparenting, many times after encountering a stressful interaction with the other parent, the parent will be thinking about the negative interaction long after it is over instead of focusing on the child. Parallel parenting prevents this from happening.

Parents who parallel parent do not discuss the following topics; past or present issues in the relationship or divorce, legal issues, criticisms about parenting skills, personal criticisms of any kind, contested custody, issues concerning dating or a new partner in the other parent's life, or any other topic that may cause conflict.

Some parallel parents are using a tool called a "parent communication notebook." The notebook is used to write down the child's activities, behaviors, schedule, diet and any other concerns without criticising the other parent or telling them how they think they should parent the child. The notebook is passed back and forth when the child visits the other parent. Other options are using snail mail, fax, email, and text messaging in the same way that the parent communication notebook is used. 

Not all parents need to to parallel parent. Some are able to coparent effectively right away. These parents are called cooperative coparents.  High conflict parents do what is called conflictual coparenting. The reasons parents have conflict can vary. Sometimes it's because they simply cannot along or have unresolved issues but sometimes it's because they simply have different philosophies about parenting and have different parenting styles.

Parents also do not have to stick to one style of coparenting. Some begin by parallel parenting and as they heal from the divorce they gradually move to a more traditional style of coparenting. Other couples try traditional coparenting from the start but due to never ending drama and conflict they decide change to parallel parenting instead. 

Many parents will naturally progress to parallel parenting simply because after time they simply don't have anything to say to each other unless it's regarding the child. 

It's also possible for only one parent to practice parallel parenting strategies. It's certainly more difficult if both parents aren't in agreement about parallel parenting, but one parent can refuse to engage in the other's drama by disengaging whenever they attempt to discuss anything other than the child. Any attempts to discuss anything unrelated to the child is simply shut down or the person ends the conversation. They may also choose to interact with the other parent only through email or text messaging. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Author is Selling the Rights to Her Book on eBay Part Two

A while back I wrote a post about a published author who is selling the rights to her book on eBay. I never checked back to see if she had sold the rights or not. I never bothered because I knew the answer and believe me, I'm no psychic. 

Today I clicked on the link once more and found something rather unexpected. 

Phoebe Valentine is no longer selling her book right with $100,000 as the starting bid and with the Buy It Now price at $200,000. She has a new eBay listing. Logic would tell you that since it didn't sell, she would lower the price, right?


The bidding now starts at $200,000 and the Buy It Now price is at $400,000!

You would think she had at least taken the time to correct the typos in her item description but she didn't do that either. Would is still spelled "woud" and even her publishing house is also spelled incorrectly as two words when Authorhouse is one word. The very website she describes as being associated with the book is spelled wrong in her item description. She actually calls it

I did another Google search but found nothing more than I had before other than my own blog post about it. 

Phoebe Valentine, if you are reading this, I would love to write an article about you or do an interview with you! I've never met anyone who sold their book rights on eBay before. The whole thing just has me completely fascinated. 

I still wonder if this person is actually Phoebe Valentine. The fact that the price has been raised makes me truly think it's a scam. If I could talk to Phoebe Valentine I could find out if it's really her. And I still want to know if it's actually legal to sell your book rights over eBay.