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Day 14 Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway: Lela Davidson

Fasten your seat belts, folks, because here comes Lela Davidson and she has been blacklisted from the PTA. Whether you think we should all be so lucky or you are a loyal PTA volunteer, I think there is a laugh and a nod of recognition in Lela’s first self-published collection of essays for every mom.

Lela is the author of Blacklisted from the PTA, Managing Editor of ParentingSquad.com, and the Parenting Columnist on HubPages.com. She is also the Associate Editor of Peekaboo magazine and represents the publication in the Parenting U segment on ABC affiliate KFSM Wake Up With 5News. Her writing is featured regularly in family and parenting magazines throughout the country and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms. Lela is also a popular teacher of online writing and promotion strategies.

Blacklisted from the PTA captures Lela Davidson’s irreverence. Whether it’s PTA meetings or POA politics, Lela exposes the humor in every awkward moment of familial failure and maternal meltdown. Lela says what the rest of us are thinking. Her hilarious observations and subtle satire are always spot on. She’s not afraid to reveal her screw-ups, along with fleeting delusional moments of wherein she honestly believes she is the best mom ever.

1. How has writing (either just the act of writing or writing this book or both) impacted your self-confidence?

There is nothing so exciting as when someone tells me that something I wrote made them laugh. That has been happening on a regular basis ever since I started writing these essays and posting them online, and then publishing them in a local magazine, and then submitting them beyond my own small circle. I’m always thrilled to get that stamp of approval from a reader. However, there is something very different about seeing them all gathered together in a nice typeface with a catchy cover (and oh, did we agonize over the cover!) But nothing compared to watching my husband read my bound-and-bar-coded review copy and hearing him say, “This is really good!”

2. What are three words that describe your creative book-writing process?

Long, slow, deep. Wait, no – that’s yoga. I would say erratic, fun, and Post-It-Note. When something makes me laugh and I find myself telling the story I write down the key elements. Then I try to get something down on paper before I lose the spirit of what I thought was funny. Sometimes these things translate to the written word and sometimes they don’t. If it’s working and I can make a story of it, I go back over the notes and shape it into something that makes sense. And deadline. No deadline, no essay.

3. What good has your book created in the world?

Smiles, giggles, and a fair amount of LOL-ing. People tell me a lot that they’ve experienced something similar to one or another thing I’ve written. I hope that by presenting mundane or frustrating facts of family life with humor that people (moms especially) will be a little easier on themselves, but if all they do is smile for a second that’s good enough for me.

• • •

Have you written any personal essays for pleasure or publication? Lela’s essays are sassy and funny. But every essay writer has a unique style and tone. How would you describe yours? (If you don’t write essays for publication already, tell us how you imagine yours would be described.)

Answer in the comments in 50-200 words (no less and no more to qualify to win one of today’s books). Please read the complete rules at least once!

Thanks for participating in the Writer Mama Every-Day-In-May Book Giveaway! Please bring a gaggle of friends next time you come. :)

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  • Meryl K Evans May 14, 2011, 1:56 pm

    I don’t do essays as part of my writing business, but I have written several in response to a contest or a writing project. For example, a group of writers wanted to do something for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. We wrote essays  and put them into a book. Profits from the book went to the Red Cross. Orson Scott Card has an essay in the book. Mine was about my relationship with my dad.

  • Jaymie Dieterle May 14, 2011, 2:11 pm

    I haven’t submitted any essays for publication, but I did just finish Abby’s Personal Essays that Get Published class (which was fantastic!), so I have two I am polishing to send off soon (my goal is by the end of May if not sooner).  I would describe mine as amusing rather than out-right-funny. I think my tone is conversational, and I like to write about parenting or personal experiences. Most often my “essays” end up on my blog.

  • Sara May 14, 2011, 2:12 pm

     I have written lots of personal essays, not for publication, although I suppose a lot of them end up on my blog. It’s probably my favorite thing to write, and feels the most natural. My style is utterly sarcastic and sometimes I think the reader might not pick up on it unless they’ve read something from me before, or they know me in person.  I think that by the end it should be pretty obvious though, or they think I’m completely mental.  For me, I believe in a no-line-can’t-be-crossed approach.  I don’t mind pushing people’s boundaries and love reading others that do the same.

  • patricia May 14, 2011, 3:07 pm

    Ah! Writing for pleasure! Thanks for opening that venue up for many Christina, and yes of course in the class you taught I learned how to open up more and more the joy of writing personal essay.  It has always been my most favorite thing to write on.  .  I liked Lela’s comment  “Long slow deep… wait that is…

    And I indentified with that and realize that it is time to get going again, now the hard part, where to start and not feel that I am cheating the rest of me by taking time to celebrate the best of me. 

  • Malia Jacobson May 14, 2011, 3:28 pm

    I’ve been writing for publication for years, but essay-writing isn’t a regular part of my routine yet. I enjoy writing essays, but I also love creating more service-oriented pieces, so that’s where my focus is at the moment. My first humorous (at least, I think so!) essay is awaiting publication this summer. I have a few more in draft stage, and many more rattling around in my head.  One of these days I’ll find the time to get them polished up. Can’t wait to read Lela’s book–I’m sure it will inspire me to get more of those essays out into the world!

  • Maribeth May 14, 2011, 3:53 pm

    I like writing essays. I try to incorporate humor into them. I am what I have been told a “circle writer,” when it comes to essays, the beginning and the end always tie up (if that makes sense to you). A few years ago I got paid for one of mine from ABC studios.
     This book sounds like a good time. 

  • Lela Davidson May 14, 2011, 4:16 pm

     Oh, I love reading all these! @Meryl, one of my first print publications was a short reflection about Hurricane Katrina! And @Sara, a lot of my stuff goes the other direction – from the blog into a full-blown essay. @facebook-593683217:disqus – can’t wait to read it! Writing essays, whether for publication or not, is so valuable. For fun, for self-therapy, for my kids to read in the future. Thank you all for playing!

  • Anonymous May 14, 2011, 4:31 pm

     As a blogger, I consider all of my posts to be essays.  My style is definitely conversational…in fact, I write as if my posts/essays were being read aloud.  I love to use exclamation marks to denote excitement and ellipsis for dramatic pauses.  I do have a degree in Speech/Theatre, so perhaps I imagine all of my readers to be actors in the play of my life! 🙂

  • Kim May 14, 2011, 4:32 pm

     I haven’t written anything creative since college!  I worked for a federal agency for seven years, and there I only wrote formal legal work.  Now the only writing I do is on facebook – haha!  I just really really want to win one of these books, so I am counting my words till they add up to at least fifty!  Sadly, I guess, my style has been to write just what’s required.   I’ll leave the writing to those who are good at it…like Lela!

  • Lara May 14, 2011, 4:46 pm

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    My essays are generally probing and thoughtful. I try to
    pull the larger meaning out of incidents in my life. But I did write one
    humorous essay that actually got published. I was so proud to be able to
    capture the hilarity of one aspect of motherhood (taking preschoolers in public
    restrooms – I mean really, it can be so frustrating that you have to laugh). I
    love reading humorous essays, so it’s gratifying to be able to occasionally tickle
    someone else’s funny bone. Mostly though, I just stick to a more serious tone.
    I can’t help it. It’s how I’m wired. Which makes me thankful for writers like
    Lela who can consistently find the humor in life.

    (And I’m really hoping this time my comment doesn’t have all that funky formatting stuff at the beginning. If it does, sorry. I’ll need to figure out how to cut and paste without that happening).


  • Cara Holman May 14, 2011, 6:03 pm

    I’ve had a number of personal essays appear online and in
    print, including in Chicken Soup for the Soul, a Cup of Comfort and the Voices
    of anthology series, The Oregonian, Oregon Humanities, Literary Mama, WomenBloom,
    Survivor’s Review, and The Fertile Source. My tone varies depending on the
    publication I am writing for, and the topic I am dealing with.

    I have penned
    essays about cancer, my parents’ deaths, middle-age angst, and miscarriage.
    Obviously these are some of my more somber essays, but even there, I try to
    keep the essays from becoming ponderous or preachy. On the other end of the
    spectrum are my lighter and more humorous essays, and here I’ve written about
    raising kids, my wedding, how we got cats, my mom, and laundry.

    My goal in
    writing, is to explore common experiences and look for the humor or bright side
    in them. My style, I would say, is conversational. While my tone varies from
    essay to essay, what I hope doesn’t change is my “voice”!

  • Rhonda May 14, 2011, 7:05 pm

    I love reading essays that are either thought-provoking, witty, or humorous, and I just adore ones that are all three. 

    I’ve written essays for both pleasure and publication. I like them to be all the above, and I especially love it when I can include some epiphany at the end. I would love to master more of the skill of doing lots more showing and much less telling with my essay writing.

    I have read several of the essays in Lela’s book. She tells it like it is, and I can testify to the LOL factor in her family humor writing.

  • Mar Junge May 14, 2011, 7:31 pm

    My style would defintely be humorous.  Life is too strange  not to look at personal issues with a sense of humor. And if you can laugh at yourself you can make others laugh too. Writing humor is not as easy as it seems. You have to be careful and sensitive to politically correct. I don’t try to publish many personal humorous essays now but hope to someday.

  • Judy May 14, 2011, 9:45 pm

     I’ve written a number of personal essays for pleasure and publication. A few are funny, but I have written the majority to process an event and share what I felt and discovered, how I grew. Cathartic, they have helped others. My tone? I’m not really sure how to describe it other tan other do recognize it when they read/“hear” it. Beautifully writen and heartfelt is what I’m typically told…

  • Laura Ackerman May 15, 2011, 12:09 am

     I write a lot of personal stories.  I am not that funny and cannot be successfully sarcastic so my essays tend to be more serious and factual. However, I always try to find the lesson learned.  I want to know what we can do different next time to avoid the negative outcome, enhance the positive, or to maximize the effect.  I homeschooled for a few years, and likely will again next year so I like to look for learning experiences in everything and then discuss and share those learning pearls.  These are also the stories I seek out to read.  I am not yet published, but am working on that!

  • Judy May 15, 2011, 12:37 am

    Yikes! Sorry about all of the typos. Soccer-rain brain. 

  • Suzanne Kamata May 15, 2011, 2:39 am

    I write a column, along with two other expatriate writers, for an inflight magazine in Japan. I usually write about  cultural differences in a light, upbeat way. Nobody wants to read something heavy and serious when they’re flying. I also write longer, heavier, serious essays about social issues, such as wheelchair access, for readers on the ground. 

  • Liz Sheffield May 15, 2011, 4:23 am

    Essays are my favorite type of writing, for two selfish
    reasons. Reason one: I like to process my experiences on the page and writing
    an essay is the perfect excuse. Reason two: reading other people’s experiences
    (yes, mundane or frustrating facts of family life rings a bell) helps me
    navigate my own journey. If I can help someone navigate their experience by
    sharing my own, universal experience, “it’s a great thing” (to quote
    my three-year-old son).

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:14 am

    Hi Meryl,
    One of the first things I ever got published was a brief reflection on Hurricane Katrina. Love the book project! Thanks for entering to win my book 🙂

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:15 am

    I write a LOT about parenting. And Abby’s class is on my list. Thank you so much for entering to win my little book!Lela

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:17 am

    Ah, yes… the sarcasm problem. I sort of love when people on Facebook don’t know if I’m serious or not! My writing often goes in the other direction – from blog post to essay. Keep writing those personal essay. If you’re like me, they’ll keep you sane :)Lela

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:18 am

    Hi Patricia,
    I’m your cheerleader! Yes, do it, write for pleasure. I have to remind myself to do that too when I get too busy. Just start with 5 or 10 minutes a day. Even that much can satisfy. Thanks for entering to win my book!

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:19 am

    I am so looking forward to reading your essay. Beware: making people laugh is addictive 😉
    Thanks for entering the contest. 
    Talk soon,

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:21 am

    ABC Studios? That sounds fancy. And, yes, I know exactly what you mean by circle writing. Sometimes my essays work out that way, and sometimes they don’t, but I always find that a satisfying reading experience. 
    Thank you for entering!

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:22 am

    Hi Brandi!
    Thanks so much for coming by. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you on #pschat. Funny, I’m all about the exclamation point in social media but rarely use them in my essays. 
    Chat with you soon,

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:23 am

    Thank you for the kind words. And thank you for entering the contest. Whether or not you win, I hope you get to read the book and it makes you laugh. I’d bet your work gives you many, many stories 😉

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:26 am

    Hi Lara,
    Thank you. Grass is always greener, right? I often wish I could write deep thougts. Oh well… Taking preschoolers to public restrooms? That’s funny for sure. (Or acutely depressing – take your pick.)
    Thanks for entering!

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:27 am

    Congratulations on your success! I am thrilled that you are interested in reading my humble collection. When you get to read it, I hope it makes you giggle out loud.
    Thanks again,

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:28 am

    Hi Rhonda!
    I know you 🙂 Thank you for the kind words. You have been a great support to me for so long. I appreciate it. Thanks for entering!
    See you soon,

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:31 am

    Hi Mar,
    Hm… I’m not sure about that politically correct part. I guess I just try not to be mean. But my piece about failing at cloth diapering got the local parenting magazine publisher in a bit of trouble with one of her advertisers. Oops 🙂 Keep writing your humor, keep sending it out!
    Thanks for entering,

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:33 am

    That’s wonderful feedback. I rarely get that! I get a lot of feedback that readers can relate, and that I’m funny. Before I started writing, I never thought of myself that way. I still don’t, not really. I’M not funny, but I do find a lot of things that happy to be hiLARious!
    Talk soon,

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:34 am

    Hi Laura,
    Yes, especially with homeschooling, I imagine you have many insights to share. I hope you get a chance to read the book, whether you win or not, and enjoy the essays!
    Thanks for entering,

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:35 am

    That’s a great mix of writing styles. Cultural difference naturally lend themselves to humor, so long as they are presented respectfully. Thank you so much for entering to win the book. I look forward to your thoughts!

  • Lela Davidson May 16, 2011, 1:37 am

    I completely agree. My favorite thing to read is The Sun. I cannot get enough of other people’s lives. Thank you for entering to win the book. I hope the stories make you laugh (and if you have a 3-year-old, I think they will).

  • Meryl K Evans May 16, 2011, 2:33 am

    I instantly related to you and your book… crazy PTA mom here! 🙂 Crazy because I decided to take back a role I started at one school even though I have a very hectic year ahead with two major events in my children’s lives. That, and I still have one other PTA board position.