Platform Upgrade

My Dear Followers,

One of the things often discussed at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference was Platform. Knowing this is a hot topic, I began working on my website before the conference. I considered branding beginning with, what should my domain name be? It’s commonly suggested that authors use their names as their brands. For me, this was a dilemma in itself, considering how many “Taylor Ross”es there are in the world. (I’m friends with two on Facebook alone, and went to elementary school with one of them.) My mentor told me I was lucky to have two middle names and thus two middle initials to choose from, but I didn’t jive with his suggestion that “Taylor W. Ross” is as memorable as “George W. Bush,” and the gmail account that I wanted for my other middle initial was taken.

While it would be impossible for me to know how or if it’s helped me, I’ve been grateful to have a gender-neutral name (once I got over the playground taunting of “that’s a boy’s name”—this was before the days of Taylor Swift), so I was reluctant to announce my gender by using “Lauren.” However, I am writing a book about women, for women, so ultimately I decided to use my feminine middle name. Thus, taylorlaurenross.com was born.

I have learned about web hosting, FTP, uploading various WordPress themes, and Filezilla. I managed to export and import all of my previous blog posts, and create a static homepage. I had a professional author photo taken. Now, I am proud to say, my website is live.

From now on, I will be posting to the blog over at taylorlaurenross.com. My dear followers, it has been a pleasure to write for you, and I am so grateful for your support in my writing journey. I would be honored if you’d follow me over at my new site.

Taylor Lauren Ross website

Next up: a Father’s Day post with more on my experiences at the Santa Barbara Writing Conference, including my BIG NEWS—on the requests I may or may not have gotten for partials—and later, a phenomenal reading list from the SBWC and advice from Stephen Chbosky, writer of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, novel and movie, and Sue Grafton, author of the Kinsey Millhone series, often known as the alphabet mystery series.

Art, the Messenger

I discovered the video “To This Day,” based on a poem by Shane Koyczanwhen reading the blog Synapsis & Synopsis. This well-designed animation tells a clear, powerful story in an aesthetically pleasing way, while sending a strong, accessible message.

Haven’t we all dealt with bullying at one time or another in our lives? If not bullying, exactly, we certainly have all had to find and make friends, enter or leave social groups, and learn how to participate in social dynamics.

This video moved me because of the experiences I have had in my life, and for the messages I would like to send with my own work. My novel features a college girl who must learn to navigate the treacherous social situations in her sorority. Female relationships often include bullying/cyberbullying and back-stabbing while women vie for popularity, and my book incorporates these themes. I know as an artist you cannot control how your work will be viewed or the impact it will have. However, my hope is that the young women who read this book will reconsider how they treat each other. I hope they might change their views and actions, and try to boost each other up, rather than tear each other down.

Recently I picked up Tammara Webber‘s Easy at the library. While the book prominently features a love story, there were several elements of confidence and learning to stand up for oneself, emotionally and physically. The protagonist experiences near-rape within the first few pages of the book, and she spends most of the book in fear of her attacker. *Spoiler alert* She takes self defense classes and ultimately triumphs–in a final confrontation with her attacker at the end of the book, she not only fends him off, she uses her new skills to give him a bloody nose. I had no doubt that she would stand up to him in court. At the close of the book, I enjoyed the way her love story reached a happy ending, but I was more impressed by the way she had grown. 

Easy

In the pages following the story, there were discussion questions. One of them was, “Did reading Easy make you want to learn self-defense?” and my answer was a resounding YES. I absolutely felt a heightened sense of awareness of the issues women who have experienced rape face and wanted to take action to protect myself. I haven’t signed up for self defense classes yet, but I have become much more aware of the message “90 percent of self-defense involves reducing the risk of attack in the first place.”

Visual media and the written word are two powerful forms of art. The video moved me and strengthened my desire to impact the conversation on bullying among women. The book inspired me to take action and change the way I live my life. This kind of impact is what I aspire to in my own work.