The Muse: May 2016

The Muse

I used to write a lot of poetry. When I came to the U.S., I even submitted my poems to an organization, World of Poetry I think it was called. And then I started winning. Golden Poet, Silver Poet. They sent me packets in the mail inviting me to these big fancy award shows.

That I couldn't afford to go to.

So they sent me little certificates and I felt so, so proud.

Here I was, 12 or 13, freshly arrived in the U.S., already winning awards for poems written in a language I had just begun to master. I was so proud I even put the awards on my resume later.

Years later I found out World of Poetry was basically an award mill. They would give out poetry honors just to attract people to their expensive events. I felt pretty let down. Betrayed. Off the resume went the awards.

Back then I had no access to web sites like these to warn me of the true intentions of some of these organizations.

My team and I have won plenty of real awards since then. Not a ton, because we just don't apply to everything. But enough to have something "official" to recognize our work, whether it's mobile apps or books. It's always a nice thing to be recognized for your work, your art, your discoveries, whatever it is you do. But it doesn't have to be an award. It can be a review on Amazon or from an influencer. It can be an invitation to speak at a conference. It can be a sincere, unprovoked comment from a friend or colleague. The compliments we've gotten over the years are my personal favorites, because they come naturally, from the heart. Not because we asked or applied.

When you receive an award, you should absolutely let the world know so people can celebrate with you. (That's the whole point with awards: celebration!)

Remember our little photography book about the Tsunami? It was named a finalist for the Montaigne Medal recently. I'm happier for Dan (the photographer) than me because it's all his photography. It's a special book that took ten years to bring to life, and to have it recognized means a lot to us both.

When others are honored, be genuinely happy for them. Spread the love everywhere: like and retweet and repost their good news. I met a cookbook author recently who won a top award from an indie author organization. Her name is Feride Sadikhova Buyuran and she's got a gorgeous cookbook with recipes from her homeland, Azerbaijan. It's called "Pomegranates and Saffron." I still melt just reading the title.

Feride has no idea I'm mentioning her here. Just as another author whose book we featured on a Facebook page we run, had no idea until I told her. And I love that. It really is just as they say: 'tis better to give than to receive.

So go on, shower the world with flowers!

~ Birgitte

Time for the first official "The Muse" survey!

It's been a few years since I started publishing this eLetter, and since so many of you are still with me, I figure something must be working. (Thank you to all who write in to say you look forward to reading it, that really means a lot.)

Still, there is always room for improvement. So I've put together a quick and fun survey on SurveyMonkey. The last question is the best one: you get to help me choose the ancient foods to include in the rest of the "Max and the Code of Harvests" series!

And yes, I will publish the results—but only if I can get a statistically valid number of replies, so please do!

You've heard of Medium, right?

The (no longer so) new online publication that everyone's flocking to. The one started by Evan Williams of Twitter (and Blogger before that). I've been reading it for a while and really enjoy the depth that you can get into (as opposed to 140-character posts, which are great for some things but not others).

I've also been thinking about what to write on my own Medium feed. I am a writer, after all. And I never get writer's block—at least not when it comes to books and other works like that. But when it comes to 'branding'... boy. A part of me shies away from jumping into that self-multiplying sea called online content and contributing more chatter to it.

But there are real gems out there. A lot of thoughtful, caring people who can finally speak their mind to the entire world. And who's to say something you have to say, no matter how simple or unassuming, might not inspire or open someone's mind?

I still haven't figured out what I want to write about on Medium. So I thought I'd go back to my poems. I hadn't written one in a very long time. Then Poets Unlimited put out a call for Mother's Day poems... and I wrote one.

And I'm humbled to say they shortlisted it.

Thank you to everyone who came to all of my past events. It's looking like it will be a busy summer...

We Choose Respect ParentCast podcast with Jed Doherty
Wednesday, May 11, 10am PST / 1pm EST
I'll publish the link to the podcast in next month's issue.

George Wilder Jr. Show on BlogTalkRadio
Tuesday, June 7, 4:30pm PST / 7:30pm EST
Tune into the show here.

FCIA industry event
Saturday, June 24
Join me at Elevate Chocolate, the summer event of the Fine Chocolate Industry Association in New York.
Get tickets here

Sprouts Cooking Club
Multiple dates in June/July
I've been invited to teach a few classes about cacao for children at Sprouts Cooking Club, here in the Bay Area. While these classes are not open to the public, we will post photos afterwards!

The Speculative Fiction Cantina podcast
Friday, August 5 (time and listening info will be announced in July issue)

More is in the works, and will be posted as it solidifies (kind of like good chocolate...)

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