Untold Stories

frontuseUntold: 12 Stories of Successful American Acupuncturists in the New Millennium which I put together with Jason Stein, LAc is now available on Amazon and other major retailers. It has it’s own website, Untold, which includes the raw video interviews that the acupuncturists gave to Jason.

The goal of the book was to bring hope to acupuncturists. Many people chose the field of acupuncture because they want to help people. They’re looking for ways to do this that get to the root of the health problems people have or they’re looking for a holistic medicine that sees mind and body as one. Upon graduation they have huge student loan debt and making a business successful feels overwhelming.

Starting a business is hard. It’s hard to keep going and it’s even harder when you are struggling to feed yourself and feel like no one is listening to you when you search out patients. Stories come up of how many acupuncturists don’t make it. The numbers are probably not so different from those in any small business but acupuncturists are healers, not business people, so as a profession we don’t have those numbers. Further, the debt taken on adds a further burden. The business of wanting to be a healer feels hopeless.

I wanted to remind people that there were practitioners who had made. There were people who were acupuncturists doing what they loved with acupuncture and making a living. The book branched out and talked to people who had moved on from the profession, from a place of success and not one of failure, to give practitioners ideas about retirement and ending their practice. Jason and I also found people who were inventing their own products and creating new paths.

Over all, I have hope that this book can reignite hope to those working so hard to further the profession.

New Book: Points to Ponder

kindlefrontFinally got my newest book Points to Ponder for the Acupuncturist in Business finished. It wasn’t that it was a long time to write. It’s been done for some time. But getting it edited and then formatted and published while moving took longer than I expected. But it’s finally here. It’s in ebook and print and available at your favorite retailers. Check it out.

Writing the Short Blog Post

There are people out there who insist that to have a good website and to show up well in Google, that you have to blog. I’m not sure if it’s true, but a lot of people worry. And certainly having a blog can help.  Google likes websites that add and change content on a regular basis. This means that the sites are active. There’s also a bit of weight given to how much content a site has, which means that over the long term, blogging can add a lot of content to your site, even if you just write short notes. But there are a lot of factors in Google’s algorhims and they change regularly. There are blogs devoted to getting your website to show up on the top pages of Google. Many of them disagree with each other. They do agree that a blog helps but so does the length of time you’ve had your domain.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to write long blog posts. Some people find that short blog posts work well.

So what do I mean by a short blog post? Well, let’s suppose John Doe, LAc writes a great blog post on his blog Acupuncture Clinic of the USA about acupuncture and holistic healing. His words reflect my own ideas and I want to share.

What I can’t do:

  • I can’t copy and paste his article in its entirety
  • I can’t use the image that he used, unless I have purchased the same image from a stock photo site or I have permission from him to use his image.
  • I can’t claim his words as my own in any way shape or form.

What I can do:

  • I can write a short article that says something like this, “Check out this article from John Doe LAc on acupuncture and holistic healing (insert link to the article here). I agree with his points but as I am not a great writer, I thought I’d let him say this in his own passionate words. Let me know what you think of the article.”
  • I can also write a longer article that may quote the article by John Doe. If I do this, to be really safe, if I quote once sentence, I probably want to write a bit longer article so Google knows that I have something original to say about this.
  • I can add my own image to my site that goes with my own unique article.

What does this do for me or John Doe?

  • It helps John Doe because he’s got a nice targeted keyword link back to his site.
  • It helps me add content to my site with out the agony of writing a long article on a subject I am interested in but don’t want to write about.
  • The question at the end allows me to open a dialogue with my patients and clients.

Another example might be someone quoting a post about acupuncture and insomnia. Maybe a final note would be something like, “Many of you have mentioned friends or family members who have trouble sleeping. I see a lot of patients with this problem. Jane Doe wrote this amazing article on how it can help.(hyperlink to the article).”

When writing short posts like this, you can always find material via Google Notifications. You can set them to notify you about articles about acupuncture or health specialties that are of interest to you, your patients and potential patients.

Short posts aren’t as good as completely original content. Original content where you might write two hundred to five hundred words on a topic allows you to write longer articles that can get indexed for a particular keyword, which can then bring more traffic to your site. If you are not a specialist, this may or may not be helpful to you. After all, if you are across country, chances are, I’m still going to find someone local.

Short articles like this are a great way for acupuncturists to utilize posts that others have written without plagiarizing  the writing. It allows you to offer something good for them, which is a link back. It means you can save most of your time for marketing strategies that work best for you.

Want to learn more about blogging? Go to the experts at CopyBlogger. They have a blog which has a ton of free useful information. They also have books and seminars and webinars for those who want more indepth learning. Whatever your learning style, they undoubtedly have a way to help you learn. And they’ve been around forever so they understand not just websites and SEO but the unique needs of someone writing a blog to sell their sevices.


Recap 2014 and Looking Ahead to 2015

So how did I do on my goals for 2014?

  • Indie publish 3 books.  I did. Websites for Acupuncturists, Little Dog Lost and Death Interrupted all came out last year.
  • Take 4 out of 6 virtual retreats with Mark Silver. I barely got that one. I managed the first four. The next two came after my husband got laid off and I was typically busy or frazzled or both for the last two. I missed that.
  • Take more classes with Dean Wesley Smith. I took two more online workshops and one lecture. It was an easy goal.
  • Join a writer’s organization. I joined the PNW Writer’s Association.
  • Write more shorts and submit four of them to publishers. I did that. I submitted at least two of them to every publisher that seemed a likely candidate. I didn’t get any published but I got them out there. I need to do more of this next year.
  • Deconstruct a book in a genre and write a book in that genre after that. I did that. I took apart a Juliet Blackwell cozy. And then I wrote a steampunk cozy. It wasn’t intended to be a cozy but I wrote it right after I deconstructed Blackwell’s book.
  • Write at least 5 more books. I did that, but barely. Many won’t see the light of day. Others might get out there in a few years.
  • Change the look of my publishing site. I did that. See it here.

So what do I want for 2015?

Well, at the beginning of this year, my husband and I are moving across country. I am hopeful that this won’t set me back too much but it could and I need to allow for that. I also need to remember that goals are things I can do something about. Dean Wesley Smith mentions this in his goals section and it’s important for me to remember. I wanted to start getting my feet wet sending out stories to publishers and I did that. I can’t control if they get published. Chances are if I do more, I’ll have better odds so I need to keep at it. So what do I want for 2015?

  • Attend Anthology Workshop in Lincoln City. This is mostly planned so I should be able to. The move will challenge me though.
  • Send out more short stories. I want to get at least another five out and in circulation.
  • Publish 4 books. I may not make this one, but I have two acupuncture books to get out there and I don’t want to fall behind on the Whisper series either, so two more of those.
  • Find a social arena in my new town. This is often tough for me. I’m keeping it general, whether it’s joining the Unitarian Church or a volunteer group or finding a local book club. We’ll see.
  • Trademark my publishing business (this in addition to changing over business licenses and such when I get to the new living area).
  • Publish either an anthology of shorts or an omnibus edition of Whisper (or both).

I think I can do these. Some of those are things that will be clean up type things for the move and others move my writing and visibility along. I was pleased that I sold something every single month last year. I hope to do that again this next year or at least start selling *more* books. I took out an advertisement and while I didn’t sell as many based on the advertisement as I’d like, I did sell two more sets of the next two books, which suggests that people liked the series enough to try the next two. Which means I’m doing something right!

I’d also like to branch out into other writing projects. Whisper is great and I know those fans like it, but I want to write more pure fantasy and I have other ideas for urban fantasy and sort of cozy type mysteries. We’ll see what happens.

Discussion and Diversity

Every now and then I learn something on Facebook. Not from the articles posted there or from the information someone posts but from the way people act.

What I’ve noticed is a growing trend among people who don’t want to engage in discussion but just spout their views. If anyone disagrees these people do a couple of things. They might start an argument and get very hostile. I’m slightly more comfortable with this overt engagement. They are willing to discuss. I’m not saying that hostility is okay but sometimes what comes across in the written word as hostile may not be hostile when someone is sitting around in a group talking. There is no body language to diffuse something. Things get out of control. I’m an admin on three different groups with three very different focuses and you see this now and again. Someone says something that is triggering to the other person and then suddenly things escalate.

The other way people shut down discussion is by blocking another person. Even if that person was not saying anything particularly offensive. Sometimes you get emails about why someone can’t find a thread they were participating in and you realize that person starting the thread blocked them. And if you go back, you see that they might have been putting forth their own views but the other person didn’t want to engage. Even if those views were not stated in a hostile or confrontational manner (no matter how hard I look). And that makes me sad for the world.

We are so divided on so many things. And here people go starting to shut down any sort of meaningful discussion on topics that really don’t need to be divisive. For all that we are supposed to be so enlightened and looking to ourselves for the issue, what I see on Facebook is that people are acting on those triggers and immediately laying blame to others and refusing to hear other sides to a discussion. That’s a problem for me. That’s a big problem because the discussions on Facebook are not life and death. They don’t mean the end of our world. But if we can’t discuss small things online without deciding that we don’t want to hear a voice that speaks differently than ours, how will we ever discuss the big things?


New Book, “Small Animal Acupuncture Point Locations”

This isn’t a true review. I don’t do animal acupuncture as I’m fortunate to have an amazing veterinarian who works with my cats. She’s well versed in a number of alternative modalities and we primarily use homeopathics with my cats, which I find work wonders.

However, there are many practitioners who want to work on pets. I worked in a veterinary hospital for a long time and I still suffer a certain level of PTSD after that experience. In a pinch I would work on my own cats but no one else’s.

Becca Seitz has a broad background in studying healthcare. She has background working with shelters, forcing to confront animals in intensely stressful situations. She was the person who first talked about compassion fatigue in shelter workers, which led to a series of articles I published on my cat blog. And now she has written a very thorough book called Small Animal Acupuncture Point Locations.

Becca is also involved with teaching a class on animal acupuncture. I highly recommend the course for any practitioner interested in treating pets. If you can’t make the class, then purchase the book. If you ever hope to treat pets, this is a must read.

Websites for Acupuncturists is Here

websites1front1I finally got Websites for Acupuncturists edited and formatted for publication. It’s available on Amazon in both ebook and print.

I wrote this book to address many of the questions I’m seeing in social media. This is less a how to book and more a should you book. It offers some explanations about what you get with a general easy set up site (like Weebly and SquareSpace), what you get in a profession specific managed site (like AcuPerfect Websites and QiSites) and what you have to do to do it yourself.

I think a lot of people start out trying to do it themselves without having any idea of the options or what it means to be on a managed site and what their options are. I’ve kept the price low and offered as much information as I can to help people determine whether they have the time or the interest in creating their own website. Things are getting so much less expensive that there are many more affordable options out there than there were even a few years ago.

Generation Gap

I’m on the other side of the generation gap. I’m 51. It’s not my age that made me stand up and realize that, it was a number of little things. It was realizing that sometimes people were saying things on Facebook that made no sense and I had to ask why. It was having to explain why I said I liked being able to get software more cheaply and easily for a PC than a Mac.

For those too young to remember, back in the 1990s, when real computer nerds like me had Macs, you actually had to go to a store to purchase software or get on a catalog mailing list. Most available software was for PCs and most stores had only an aisle or two  for Mac software. In addition, what software there was typically cost 20 to 30% more than comparable PC software (even if it was by the same manufacturer).  Yes, things have changed.

But what really made me realize I was on the other side looking back, was a young woman stood up at Comic Con. She stood up and talked about how she couldn’t believe anyone thought Nichelle Nichols was a feminist on Star Trek. She was, after all a glorified secretary. Now, point of fact, Lt. Uhura was a glorified phone operator (look it up) and not a glorified secretary. More importantly, she was on the bridge, offering information (if not an opinion) to the captain of the ship. She was not just the wife or mother of someone. She was a strong, unmarried (so we believe) female who had a career and, in 1966 when the show premiered, that was huge.  While I am pleased to say we have come far enough that this has to be explained, I am saddened that those  strides in equality are being forgotten.

There are always things that could have been done better but in 1966, the producers were taking a chance on her. And that’s something that shouldn’t ever be forgotten. I am only informed because I lived it. I am the older generation who took certain things for granted that young people have never heard of. I struggle with things others much younger than I am don’t understand.

I grew up on records and cassette tapes. I dialed phones with a rotary dial and it was great to get a touch tone phone. I worked at places with phones with extra long cords so that you could walk farther from the base (and all the potential tripping and jumping that required).  I typed on a typewriter. I wrote my first stories on typewriters. I submitted typewritten stories only to be horrified when I found a typo when the editor sent it back. Once it was in the title.

I knew how to manage PC DOS as well as MS DOS, but DCL was the command language I was most familiar with. My contemporaries learned Fortran and Cobal, LISP and C. I know Pascal and Basic. I have since learned C#, PHP and of course HTML and CSS. I have used  Amigas (first multiprocessing machine), Macs and now PCs. According to Huffington Post I should be able to program my DVR or my TIVO to record a show, but I no longer know how to do that. I don’t watch much television  and I let my husband program those systems. There is just so much to re-learn.

I still hand install WordPress because I feel more secure that way, although I am often questioned. I don’t sign up for things that I don’t want to. I am suspicious of online software that requires I pay monthly, particularly when it is accounting software.  I am told that nothing is secure by young people. And I remind them I lock my doors too even though that’s perhaps not completely secure.  There are things I learned. While nothing is secure, I don’t know why I shouldn’t lock my doors, why I shouldn’t question who wants my credit info and make choices deliberately.

The worst thing? It’s having the discussion with a twenty year old online and only after you try to explain something obvious do they say something that makes you realize how young they are. Chances are, by the time they are my age, there will be constant images and you’ll no longer hide behind a faceless avatar offering you fake age. Of course the old folks will hate having to show off their older faces and have people know they are elders though. At least I hope so. Because right now, I can show off my cat’s face on my avatar and no one needs to know what I look like this morning.

Crazy Cat Lady: The New Witch

IMG_3717e1I blog as my cat which means I’m in a lot of groups with other women who blog about cats or as their cats. Recently a retailer has had a “Crazy Cat Lady” contest and many of them hate this term and are taking offense. Considering one of them gets to appear in a photo as “the” crazy cat lady, while she stands in a room full of cats (she’s actually at a shelter), I can understand her distress. In the discussions, I started to see some parallels between the concept of the “witch” and the concept of the “Crazy Cat Lady.”

Witches are taking back that term. While there are still Halloween witches with warts on their noses and narrow black hats, we also know that there are lot of women (and men) who practice a nature religion called Wicca and are witches. The term is still often used pejoratively, but there are enclaves where this is an acceptable term and those who practice Wicca tend to know that the “witch” in Halloween terms is really just a cartoon.

For those who don’t take back the term witch, they have chosen the term, “Wise Woman” or “Wise One” to self identify with. The original witch was a wise one who offered healing and aid to those in need.

Today, we don’t have many wise women in shacks selling herbs (to say we have none discounts some wonderful acupuncturists and herbalists I know, although they do not really live in shacks!). Instead, we have compassionate, wise women. And some of these compassionate wise women take care of cats. The mythical Crazy Cat Lady has a lot in common with the witch, both in how it came to be a pejorative term and who she represents. Let’s look at the stereotypical Crazy Cat Lady.

Our mythical Crazy Cat Lady is usually found living alone with a lot of cats. Her hair is either still in curlers or she hasn’t bothered to comb it. If she has bothered to comb it, perhaps the cats have attacked it because it’s a mess. She’s probably in a bathrobe or something equally unflattering.  She’s typically over forty.

We are told that this woman takes to her cats because she can’t find a man to marry her. After finding all these cats, she carelessly lets herself go because as we all know, not having a man is the worst thing that could happen and if you’ve given up, why take care of your appearance? And really what else is there but a cat?

The witch was just an ugly woman who took her shack in the woods living with nature and giving out herbs to try and eek out a living. Surely if she had been nicer or more pleasing to look at, she would have married and had children and be spared living with that ugly wart on her chin and wearing that very unbecoming hat.

The real witches, of course, came in all sizes and shapes. They made choices. They were wise women who understood the healing properties of plants and made the choice to utilize their knowledge for the good of the local people. Some were married. Others weren’t. Some were older but there were younger women who were learning this.

The Crazy Cat Lady might have made choices too. Let’s look at what the cat symbolizes in our culture: feminine independence. Yes, that’s right, the most common thing that cats symbolize is independence, especially feminine independence. If we look at the Crazy Cat Lady like that, perhaps she made a conscious choice not to get married and loves her independence, working at things she wants to work at, rather than what society says she should. Perhaps she is dressed down in her bathrobe or sweats because she has more important pursuits than how she looks. It could be her symbolic way of telling society that she doesn’t care what it thinks of her.

The Crazy Cat Lady is the modern version of the woman who doesn’t set her sights on marrying someone. She does not live her life as a second class citizen. She is taking the world in her hands, embracing her independence (via the cats) and going her own way. She is not going to be told what to do.

Like the Wise Woman, the Crazy Cat Lady can claim another term for her own. How about Compassionate One? Beyond the symbolism of the cats being independent, the woman is caring for something that can return nothing to her. Instead of working her way up in (dare I say it?) this dog eat dog culture of more, she uses her talents to care for those that can offer little back when it comes to material wealth and success. Instead, she takes her successes as saving lives and making the lives of as many of those she comes in contact with, better.

This sort of compassion and love is placed on the feminine side of the scale. As patriarchy took over, men were always competing to see who can be the best. This self aggrandizing pursuit is patriarchy at its worst. The Crazy Cat Lady is the matriarchy at its best. Is there any wonder that the woman who cares for cats is the Crazy Cat Lady? In a society that values competition, caring for another is crazy.

When we hear Crazy Cat Lady, let’s own her positive aspects and remember that the pejorative is merely the latest attempt at a patriarchal society that is floundering about trying to find it’s strength and power again, to negate feminine. While that doesn’t mean embracing the term, it means honoring what the Crazy Cat Lady stands for and proudly standing up to remind them that she, like each of us, is “The Compassionate One” and let her take her rightful place beside the witch/Wise Woman and other powerful feminine archetypes.

Recap 2013 and Looking Ahead

IMG_2549bklac2013Last year I had a list of things I wanted to do and I think I did fairly well in terms of meeting my goals.

  1. I wanted to write at least 5 books this year.  Check.  I actually managed seven new rough drafts
  2. I want to indie publish 4 books. Check. I did one under Bonnie Koenig, EAMP for potential acupuncture patients, three full length books under Bonnie Elizabeth and published one short story. I also finished a short story that was accepted into an anthology.
  3. I want to take at least one class from Dean Wesley Smith. Check. I actually took three classes. Totally worthwhile!
  4. Changing this site to an editing site. Check. I have a bit of a question on this as I seem to have lost the vision for that.
  5. I want to do more editing. No. I was so busy writing that I wasn’t that interested. I didn’t market. I guess that means that with the above, I wasn’t that interested.
  6. Working out a writing coaching program. Not even close
  7. Taking four of six virtual retreats with Mark at Heart of Business. Check. I think I did five!

So what are my goals for next year? I think I want to do more writing but also offering myself time to work with what I’ve done. I also need to market at little more. Clearly I’m more interested in writing than in editing and I’m okay with that.

So for 2014 my goals are:

  1. I want to indie publish 3 books. Lower than last year but I want to make sure I stay on top of quality and perhaps spend time creating systems that will let me feel good about working faster in future years.
  2. I want to take at least four out of six virtual retreats with Mark at Heart of Business. I find this very important to me
  3. I want to take some more classes with Dean Wesley Smith. I already have two of them picked out and I expect this will be an easy goal to make.
  4. I want to join at least one writing organization.
  5. I want to write more short stories and I want to submit at least four of them to magazines (plural) I have no goals about getting them published. I just want the experience of getting them out there
  6. I want to deconstruct a book in a particular genre and write one in that genre
  7. I want to write at least five more books.
  8. I want to change the look of my publishing site.

So there I am. I am also thinking I’ll probably do a little more photography for acupuncturists. I’m finding that although I don’t make much I do get a little money in pretty regularly selling acupuncture products on Zazzle. It’s not a living wage but it is steady and I want to increase that hope. We’ll see.

What are your goals?