Sometimes when I think about the Internet, it reminds me a little of where the Munchkins live in the Wizard of Oz.  It’s magical.  It’s a techno-color version of real life, a place to escape and try to make sense of what hurts you and scares you.  Sometimes I feel like Dorothy, standing wide-eyed, mouth open, not sure if I should reach out to these strange new people, or run like hell back to what is safe and known.  The Internet can be welcoming and terrifying and embracing and uplifting and ego-shattering and full of hope.  I might not be wearing my ruby red slippers (though I’d kill for a sparkly pair), but I don’t need them.  After 5 years of writing this blog, and 5 years of living in the bizarre beautiful world that is the online community, it’s become so clear to me that it’s a place I want to stay.  Even with the flying monkeys.

I want to stay here because you’re here.  You are the magic in Munchkinland.  Your stories, your words, your comments, your commitment to lifting each other up and supporting your neighbors with essays and the poetry of your truth.  That is the magic of the Internet.  And it’s so nice to sit under a blanket on my couch and find you here.  To find you sharing, listening, and dreaming with me.  But once a year, it’s even better to actually see you.

This year, BlogHer ’14 is going to be in San Jose, CA July 24th-26th.  I am over the rainbow (see how I did that right there?  I know.  Genius!) excited to have the chance to actually laugh and hug and cry and eat and drink and laugh some more with you guys.  For real.  In person.  The BlogHer conference brings the online writing community to life.  It brings the munchkins out of their houses and makes them dance down the yellow brick road.  No wait.  That doesn’t sound right.  BlogHer brings writers together by taking them down a path of learning, problem-solving, and skill-building.  

I attended BlogHer in 2012 in NYC, and it was the first time that I felt like a “real” writer.  I met writers and bloggers that I had read for years.  I saw very important keynote speakers (Martha Stewart and a certain OBAMA….hello?!) who made me realize that other people valued the words that we put online.  BlogHer ’12 was a beginning for me, and I am so excited to be teaming up with them this year to offer all of you a nice little discount on your conference pass.

Why should you go to BlogHer this year?  Let me give you my top 5 reasons:

1.  Your words matter.  You have a story to tell.  I used to think that “If you build it, they will come”, meaning that if you were a great writer, people would find you.  Not exactly true.  You have to help people find you, and BlogHer will help you figure out how.  The workshops there are so valuable.  You can brush up on your writing skills, learn about pitching stories and book proposals, discover tips and tricks for things like photography and videography, and fine-tune your social media skills.

2.  Networking, networking, networking.  I am an introvert, and I was terrified to go to BlogHer at first.  But one of the best parts of writing is telling your story, and hearing someone say “me too”.  The BlogHer conference makes it easy to find your people.  And your people will be your cheerleaders, and your soft place to land, as you go about your writing adventure.

3.  To write well, you must listen to the orchestra around you.  And oh what an awesome symphony there is this year.  Arianna Huffington….THE Ms. Huffington….will be a keynote speaker.  Who better to talk to writers about writing, then one of the most talented editors (publishers, media queens, and more) of all time?  Not to mention, Kerry Washington (perhaps I should actually start watching Scandal like the rest of the world) and Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess).

4.  Great writers are born in the uncomfortable moments.  BlogHer is a safe place, filled with other women (and some brave men) who know what it feels like to share their most intimate thoughts via a keyboard.  But it is also a challenge.  An opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone.  To pitch an idea that you haven’t had the courage to share before.  To walk up to someone you admire and ask them a question.  To meet your blogging family in real life and dance all night together.  To tweet at an editor who you really admire and say the dumbest thing you can imagine, and never hear back from them again.  Don’t ask.  It really happened.  Take a chance.  You’ll thank yourself later, I promise.

5.  It’s 25% off, when you use this link.  And it’s California in the summer time.  (Cue: California Love, on high volume).  And you can sit in the audience and listen to the Voices Of The Year, and have your heart broken and your spirits lifted in ten thousand beautiful ways.

BlogHer 14 is your chance to take your writing to the next level.  To meet your community in person.  To lose yourself in the crowd at lunchtime, and stand out from the crowd with your dynamic elevator pitch and your unique business cards.  Come to Munchkinland with me.  Make your writing a priority.  If you’re planning on heading to BlogHer, please let me know in the comments here!  I want to make sure to hug you when I see you, and thank you for being part of this wonderful community!  I’d offer you a place to stay, but I’ll be shacking up in a hotel room with The Mommy Stop, because I have two young kids at home and well, FREE TIME and GROWN-UP CONVERSATION and NO ONE BOTHERING ME IN THE BATHROOM, you guys!!  I’ll take you to my favorite taco shop and show you the Pacific Ocean and ride a cable car with you instead.  I mean, if you want.  Or we could just stay up really late together and talk about all the things.  Either way.  Go register, right now!!



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