Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Unofficial Beginning of Fall

End of Summer 
Have you ever noticed how a slogan will start to be passed around in advertising for a while? As a kid, I remember all the stores that were open late in the fall would call their sales "midnight madness" or something to that effect.  A few years ago the buzz phrase was "Christmas in July". This year is no different. I have heard Labor Day termed "the unofficial last day of Summer" more than a handful of times this year. It doesn't have quite the same charm as Christmas in July but it does give one pause. Ending Summer when living in the Midwest is quite a sobering thought.

But guess what? In Michigan, Summer isn't the only exciting season around here! Fall in Michigan means amusement parks without blistering heat, cider mill and maple tree tours, and...the ARTS!! One way to verify that fall is here is with the Kerrytown Bookfest happening this Sunday.

John F. Buckley
The writing and poetry community is definitely ready to jump back into action. In fact, Thursday is the Fall Season Kickoff for Bookbound's Open Mic and Share Poetry Monthly Event with John F. Buckley.

Just in case you hadn't heard. 

A graduate of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, John F. Buckley has been writing poetry since March 2009, when his attempt at composing a self-help book went somewhat awry. After a twenty-year stint on and near the West Coast, he now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife. His publications include various poems, two chapbooks, the collection Sky Sandwiches, and with Martin Ott, Poets’ Guide to America and Yankee Broadcast Network. His website is

Below, is an excerpt from the Bookbound Newsletter explaining how it all works:

Ann Arbor's new Bookbound Open Mic & Share poetry series

The 2nd Thursday of every month at 7pm.

Bookbound -- 1729 Plymouth Road, Ann Arbor -- in the Courtyard Shops. 

The General Poetry Community: Poets, Aspiring Poets, Published Poets, New Poets, Experienced Poets, Readers of Poetry, Poetry Lovers, Poetry Enthusiasts, Writers and Poetry Community Supporters.

The event structure is simple: 3 to 5 open mic poets read for about 5 minutes each, then we hear from the featured poet for 20 minutes, followed by time for book signing and conversation. 

As a poet, community member, and small business owner specializing in marketing publicity for writers and poets, I saw two distinct needs in our community:
1. Safe venues for poets to hone their craft of presenting, hear their work come from their lips, especially poets who were not connected to a formal program or were a little shy.
2. Places for poets without big book deals or followings to share their work before an audience and extend a low-risk opportunity for bookstores to sell their work.

How does it all work?
I have come a long way since I shared my first poem publicly at a poetry slam. It was such an unsettling experience, I ended up in bed for a day. I couldn't get the cadence of my voice to work like an instrument that wowed fact, I couldn't even remember the words! I pulled out my paper and then couldn't keep my place reading on the page. I was so nervous. Eventually, I got (a little) better and even placed in a slam competition. However, I have found that I prefer the nurturing audience that an open mic can provide, without competition. 

So, when I contacted Megan and Peter from Bookbound I explained the cafe open mic model, but with a twist. It would begin with around 3 people sharing poetry in front of the group.  If they did not have original poetry, poetry lovers in the audience or staff members could share a favorite poem recited or read from the poetry books on the store shelves. Next, the featured, published poet would have 20 minutes to read and discuss their work, followed by 20 minutes for people to buy, sign, browse and socialize. The books the author sold would be available that night and on the shelves on a consignment basis that Megan and Peter constructed to be mutually favorable for all parties.

And that, folks, is how the Bookbound Open Mic & Share Series was born!

If you would like to be an open mic poet, please email: info[at]

If you would like to be considered for the featured poet spot, please email Leslie[at]

Please share your thoughts in the comment section.



Monday, May 25, 2015

The Ways to Keep the Flavor of Memorial Day

The Character of a Community
If you've ever dabbled in culinary arts, you know that one of the key rules when introducing new flavors to recipes is retaining some of the original flavor. You can add all sorts of ingredients to the meatloaf...until it doesn't taste like "meatloaf" anymore. Once that occurs, you will start to offend tastebuds. Similarly, for many Memorial Day can be celebrated, observed, and honored in a host of ways. But, this year the Internet has drawn attention to the fact that we have lost much of the original flavor of Memorial Day.

When I was a young girl, Memorial Day meant getting up early and attending the Memorial Day parade, visiting the grave site of fallen loved ones, followed by food and family. By the time I was a teenager, Memorial Day also included furniture sales and decorations. At some point, over the last twenty years, Memorial Day has become nothing more for some than a "Happy Memorial Day" status, hashtag, or salutation before heading out for barbecue and summertime fun.  Before you head out to the lake, picnic or fire up the grill, here are a few ways to keep some of the original flavor of Memorial Day in tact. For businesses, before you send out the next "Happy Memorial Day Come Buy Some Stuff" E-mail, just think that you could be alienating part of your customer base.

1. Show reverence to fallen soldiers. 
It doesn't need to be an elaborate public speech or graveyard tear jerker, but some sort of acknowledgement to someone who may be hurting or expression of appreciation may be a start...or maybe even  a prayer. The Washington Post published an article today about a veteran who has attended over 75 funerals of friends and comrades since 2001 and how horrible it feels to hear no mention of fallen soldiers in all of the Happy-Memorial-Day-Let-The-Summer-Begin campaigns going.

2. Know and Share Memorial Day History.
Nothing gets someone fired up to share or teach about a subject moreso than knowing about it. A starter would be knowing the difference between Memorial Day (for the fallen) and Veteran's Day (for the survivors). Here are a couple good articles that highlight some of the rich history of Memorial Day.
  1. Memorial Day Origins - Theories, Claims, and Facts.
  2. Memorial Day Meaning - Why Does it Exist?
  3. Memorial Day - Is it okay to say Happy Memorial Day?

3. Go to a Memorial-Day-Focused Event
It'll only take an hour. Seriously. Most communities have a Memorial Day Parade, demonstration or exhibit. Our community has a list of local activities. If you have visiting guests or children, this is a very subtle way to sprinkle a little of the true flavor of Memorial Day into your daily activities. Don't worry: the corn on the cob will await thee.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Facebook: Beyond the Likes


You may have noticed that the number of followers have decreased for your Facebook Brand Page. That is because after March 12, Facebook began purging all inactive accounts. Likes that you obtained through paid advertising or from years ago may be connected to inactive accounts. It makes sense. But, it's also discouraging if you are trying to build your followers. Before you despair, remember that everyone is basically in the same boat. Getting your numbers back up may not happen as quickly as it has in the past, but it is still simple as 1 2 3. #lesgosocial

1. Invite friends. It has probably been a few months or years since you have invited people from your personal friend list to Like your Facebook page.

2. If you are responsible for social media for your business or organization, adjust your success metrics to match what Facebook insights are telling you..beyond the Likes.

3. Love the one you're with: Encourage engagement with existing followers and that will attract more followers. Noone wants to Like yet another "dead" Facebook page. Although hashtags are not as popular on facebook, they are still used in trending search topics. Just be sure to use the social media hashtags that already have a conversation brewing as opposed to attempting to recreate completely new tags.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Too Good To Be True!


Free Ninety Nine!

Doesn't it sound good? Oh boy! Two FREE roundtrip airline tickets to wherever you wish. All just because you just happened to be on Facebook at the right time, connected to the right friend. Have you seen an ad or been tagged on an ad like the one below on your Facebook timeline?

I hate to break this to you...but it is a scam. Perhaps you received something like this in your email inbox?


[Collected via e-mail, November 2011]

Receive 2 FREE Southwest Airline Tickets Today!

[URL elided]

For a limited time you can receive 2 FREE Southwest Airline Tickets good for any travel within the USA! Don't wait, this is a one time free gift offered just in time for the Holidays!

[Collected via e-mail, October 2012]

Planning for the holidays? Lucky you! Southwest Airlines is sending out thousands of complimentary flight vouchers to current Facebook users! To get yours, fly by [URL elided] to follow the on-screen instructions. Happy flight, courtesy of Southwest!

I hate to break this to you...but it is a scam as well. According to Snopes, people who follow the links to these freebies reach phishing sites (counterfeit websites) that can result in the following:

  • Clicking what appear to be Facebook "share" buttons and post comments to the scammer's site (which is really a ruse to dupe users into spreading the scam by sharing it with all of their Facebook friends).
  • Prompts to add a lot of personal information 
  • Prompts to complete lengthy surveys
  • Forced sign up (with monetary commitment) for "Reward Offers" (e.g., Netflix subscriptions, credit report monitoring services, prepaid credit cards)
  • Fine print giving permission for "marketing partners" (telemarketers) to call and text you
  • Malware
  • A Facebook "lifejacking" attack, a malicious script that takes over a user's Facebook profile without their knowledge and propagates itself to their friends' accounts as well.'re welcome:)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Can Professional and Effective Coexist in Social Media?

Good News! Social media does not have to be boring and ineffective to still maintain professionalism.  Many organizations have started to get hop by adding cute photos, taglines, humor, and video. But, a thousand likes on your pictures of cats in cute hats won't necessarily translate into new paying customers or increased awareness for your organization. Below are twelve ways to begin to strike a balance in communicating effectively and professionally the key parts of yourself, brand, or organization. This list comes from years of seeing people and organizations struggle with keeping their online presence professional, yet engaging and effective.

This presentation was created for the University of Michigan's Center for the Education of Women hosted its 33rd Women of Color Taskforce Career Conference, one of the oldest and largest career conferences for the University. We were happy to be a part of this day of learning with the session Communicating Professionally and Effectively Using Social Media.

  1. Start Connections in Person, Continue Online
  2. Know or Learn the basic terminology used in social media
  3. Know who is  on each social media tool that you use
  4. Observe people and platforms before branching out
  5. Use Settings to establish friend groups and privacy
  6. Share valuable resources and info
  7. Content is King; make sure info is accurate, professional and interesting
  8. Humor Shouldn’t Hurt; always strive to be inclusive
  9. Make Information Easy to Share
  10. Mentions, Replies, Tagging, and Conversations; cite sources, but get pics approved
  11. Reach out to your social and professional circles to Shape your online community
  12. Use conversation etiquette in all online Discussions
  13. Rinse and Repeat; grow your network and possibilities

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Driving, Living and Doing Business in Bad Weather

Photo, "A Snowy Day in Michigan" Courtesy of Bryan Johnson, 2011

Yesterday afternoon, I was quietly thinking about how I would spend the rest of my day.  Having the house, and time, to myself after non-stop holiday activity was just too good to not enjoy. I decided to take a nap and just allow myself to wake up when my body told me to. Only problem is, there was this one fly that didn't get the memo. He danced on the ceiling and buzzed between my blinds and the light globe relentlessly. When I got to the height of my irritation, I had a spiritual "bop" upside my head: having to deal with a fly in late December in Michigan is a miracle. The same miracle that allowed me to take a walk on dry land wearing just a sweater, not have to clean off my car, and turn down my heat.

Today, Michigan is looking like Christmas again. I woke up to snowy roads and wet tires on pavement making dirty noises outside my window. As a Michigander, grim forecasts for drivers this time of year is the norm. Oddly enough, however, I heard a lot more firetrucks, screeching tires on the unseasonably warm days we had this weekend. Just like my adventure with the house fly the other day, I think we can take things for granted when things are going smoothly. When driving, living, or doing business, we can afford to do this. Here's a few tips for driving in bad weather that can be applied to life and business:

1. Be prepared for inclement weather at all times, with the flexibility to relax and connect with your surroundings.  Similary, in life and in business we have to reconnect with our vision to gain a sense of direction.

2. Use your rearview mirrors! Look back at what has worked and what hasn't worked for you in the past and see what might be coming back into view or creeping back into your life. Change can save a business, but keeping your best practices in constant view can keep it.

3. Clean the snow and debris off your car so that you can see clearly. Hurt, fear, too much or too little confidence can distract from your view of what lies ahead.

4. Keep Your Eyes on the Road! In other words, Stay Focused!