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Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Electronic Balancing Act

Ever feel electronic-ed-OUT?  I sure do! Cell phones, IM, texting, skype, facebook, email, online banking, iPhone apps, electronic calendars, maps, recipes, notetaking, software programs, websites full of information that leads me to other websites loaded with more information, manage this, manage that all electronically … It’s all so cool! And it all makes me crazy at the end of the day. And yet, I go into the next day, still intriqued, consistently striving for more, always moving toward more understanding and more skill. The more I learn however, the more I clutch fervently to my old-fashioned spiral notebook.

We need them both.

Yes, it’s all about balance.

I never thought of myself as a die-hard traditionalist, but perhaps I am – at least when it comes to pen and paper.

Pen and paper keep me from running so fast that I spill over myself 
and tumble down the proverbial hill.
The grip on the pen is the connection between muse and mind; 
the feel of the pen is the connection between nature and man.
The act of writing by hand is brainwork I am not willing to relinquish.
The flipping of page still excites me.
Pen and paper keep me grounded in the art of writing
 – the spirit of creating –
 the process of self-discovery.

Nonetheless, we cannot deny the onslaught of electroncis and their many, many benefits. The Demand Media blog recently had a post by Josh Writer highlighting 5 web/mobile apps that he uses frequently. I thought they were worth sharing:

“… jot down story ideas or business plans on my computer or mobile phone … then automatically syncs the note across my account so I see the same thing whether I’m on my phone or sitting on my laptop…”

“… timers that record how much time I spend writing for each of my clients … generate and send out invoices …”

“… chat and make free  phone and video calls from a single interface …”

“… online budgeting tool … can also tag different deposits with custom categories, quickly allowing me to segregate my freelancing income…”

Find your own balance.

I step on the paper; I step on the electronics; 
back to the paper; 
back to the electronics.
Rooted in the paper, 
flailing in the electronics, 
a walk in the woods, …
 thank God I’ve got my spiral notebook with me!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Future of Writing: Predictions

At our recent fiction writer’s meeting one member shared a list of predictions made by author Randy Ingermanson about the future of publishing. I thought they were very relevant to the theme of this blog which has to do with online writing. In particular, Randy predicted that 1) e-books will soon surpass books in print; 2) e-books will soon be the “minor leagues”, meaning that “writers will simply short-circuit the traditional route by e-publishing their first book”; and 3) beginning authors will e-publish first.

I couldn’t agree more based on what I read and hear in the writing and publishing field. This is precisely why I want to encourage you to increase your online writing! People need to know who you are and what your areas of expertise are. No matter what kind of writing you do, you can increase your online exposure in a variety of ways, in particular, through article writing and blogs.

Providing relevant information to a target audience establishes you in the field and that’s where you will be found by fans and publishers alike. To date, I have been published at least 400 times, not including any of my blogs or the work I did when I first got started and didn’t keep track of them. If I include those in my numbers, I have close to 1000 pieces of work out there on the internet. Many of those pieces of work were rewarded monetarily immediately, the rest of them have been rewarded in other ways including leads for more paid work. The other big reward for unpaid writing is promotional – the writing pieces are added to my repertoire and they serve to increase my overall online exposure.

If you don’t want to write articles, that’s fine. There are still many ways to write online to increase your reader base while practicing your art. Everybody is online these days – so that’s where you will find your readers, advocates, fans, and publishers. Blogging is one of the best tools because it is steady and consistent: you write and post regularly and as you do, you and your work get noticed.

The bottom line is this: if you are truly passionate about your writing, you will write. The more you write, the better you become. If you want to keep it all private, then that’s your choice, but when you are ready to be noticed, go online because what Randy Ingermanson says about the future of publishing is hot on the target: the future of publishing is definitely via the electronic avenues whether we want to believe it or not.

Thank you, Judy, for sharing this information with our group. I am happy to pass it on to readers of the Nitty Gritty of Writing.

Here is the link to Randy's website.

Here is the link to Randy's predictions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The "About" Article

The “about” article is similar to the “list” article in that it consists of several aspects of the same topic. The main difference is that in an “about” article, all sections or points are aimed at further describing, explaining, or informing about your topic. This can be done with any topic. Take, for example, spaghetti: the different sections might include 1) the history of spaghetti; 2) the ingredients and/or different kinds of spaghetti (i.e., white, wheat, whole grain, etc.); 3) nutritional value; 4) how it is made; and 5) how it is eaten. Some of the sections in an “about” article can be turned into other articles more easily than others. Back to the spaghetti example: from the how it is eaten section you could write articles that include recipes for spaghetti sauces; the nutritional value section however, is more limited.

“About” articles are easy to produce because you simply need to follow a basic formula: introduction, 3 – 5 sections in the body, and a conclusion. Do your research and collect information from at least 3 different sources. Then read through the information you have and mark possible headings or sections in the margins. Next, go back through the research and write out your different sections as individual paragraphs. Heading your sections is an attractive stylistic feature because it makes the article easier to read. It also helps you incorporate keywords for SEO purposes. Once you have the body written, write your introduction and finally, the conclusion.

It is best to include your sources in an “about: article, so between the conclusion and your bio box, list your references. If possible, sent an email or leave a common on the site of the authors you referenced so they know you’ve linked to their work in your article. Not only is this a courteous gesture, it invites them to check out your blog and/or website and potentially opens up their whole circle of influence to a connection to you and your services.

Following are some “about” articles that serve as good examples for you as you work on crafting your own.

Elegant Aging - Growing Deeper, Stronger And Wiser In Your Years

All About Thai Curry

Baking with Flaxseed

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The List Article

The “List” article is one of the most efficient kinds of articles you can write. The top 5 or 10 best of something, worst of something; 10 reason to do or have something; tips for doing something better; ideas, etc., are all great “list” articles.

The reason I say “list” articles are most efficient is because you can make the most of your research for a list article with the least amount of work. Write out the top 10 ~ whatever ~ then you’ve got the background for 10 more articles: just write more about each of the items in your list focusing on one item for each new article. Post them in article directories with trackbacks to your blog or website, and trackbacks all to the original article, and you’ve got a total of 11 articles out of one basic research session. And all 11 articles will work for you. Each of those articles serves as “free ads” for you, your work, your services and products.

Here are some great examples of list articles. Read them and consider how each item in the list can easily be written into another whole article.

Top 10 Wii Games
Top 10 Worst Movies of the Decade: Romantic Comedy
Tips on Creating a Great Resume
10 Reasons Why I've Decided to Get an iPad
50 Great Date Night Ideas

Monday, July 19, 2010

Guest Post from Sherita Campbell

It’s NASCAR race weekend. 
Sisters in Crime is celebrating with a book signing.

The three Muncie Sisters in Crime are coming to town. And they are bringing their posse with them. Sisters In Crime Speed City Chapter will be in downtown Muncie July 24, from 2-4 to sell and sign BEDLAM AT THE BRICKYARD at The Blue Bottle.

They will have a critique session of Members short stores from 10:00-11:30,a brief business meeting until noon. Come to these to see if you want to become a member, mystery writers, fans all can be members.  Lunch from 12:00 until 2:00, lunch is: buy your own. We?re starving writers you know. You are welcome to listen to the discussion of how we recently got published in short story mags. Then we will sign books.  There will be books there to purchase or order.

All mystery writers novice or established are welcome to come, check us out, visit, and of course buy a book about mysterious happenings at the brick yard track. For more information please call Sherita Campbell 765-749-2329

Sunday, July 18, 2010


DL Hammons, author of the blog “Cruising Altitude” is hosting a blogfest. It’s kind of like a writing contest even with prizes! The deadline is August 7th and the only rules are that the word limit is 500 and the focus is on drama – however you interpret that is fine. He has some other ways you can get points that will tip you in favor of a drawing that will get you prizes as well such as tweet about the blogfest or put a note about it in the sidebar of your own blog.

I think this is a great opportunity to aim for a deadline and submit something you write. You can either edit something you’ve already got going or write something entirely new for this event. Whatever you do, just sign up and enter because the more you write and submit your stuff, the better writer you become and the more practiced you are at taking that next step to actually get readers for your work.

Here’s the link – check it out!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Article Writing

Article writing is one of the most “secure” jobs in the writing field. Absolutely everybody online needs articles. “Article marketing” is one of the biggest buzz words in the online industry.

Think about any Google search you have ever done – if you are looking for information, you find articles. Nearly all those articles include a link to some sort of website. This is how online business people promote their bubusinesses and attract new customers. All these businesses need writers for all these articles.

As a writer, you can do the same thing. Simply post articles in article directories that yu have written and include a short bio box at the end. People will find you.

Article writing is a numbers game: the more you write, the bigger your reprotoire and the more chances you have of being found. So write several articles about the same broad topic so that you have many avenues to one subject. This increases your exposure and over time, establishes you as an expert in the field.

Article writing is also a words game. SEO stands for Search Engine Optomized and is how the search engines rank information on the web. Use SEO keywords in your title and again throughout your article with more concentration on them in your introductory paragraph. This will push your article higher on the list of hits when people search for information related to your article.

Your articles stay online forever, so it’s not like you get one big bang for your buck and then its gone. Online business people know this, so they are constantly adding articles to their business. If you establish yourself as an article writer, you will always have a job!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Social Media Optimization

I found this article about increasing traffic to your blog or website and thought it was very helpful and informative. I’m sharing it here for my readers to enjoy as well. In fact, what happened to this article once it hit the internet is a perfect example of the whole webbing concept. Scroll down to see some of the comments and you will see what I’m talking about. Here's the article: 5 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO)

The blog is called "Influential Marketing" by Rohit Bhargava. The whole blog is pretty cool, so check it out.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Kentucky Women Writer’s Conference

I just found this writer’s conference and it looks really good. It is affordable and full of good workshops and opportunities to network and grow professionally. September 11 and 12 - coming up soon!

Check it out!

Kentucky Women Writer's Conference

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Video: The Machine is Us/ing Us

This is a really good video that shows so precisely what the web is, how it is, and how it has and is changing writing as we know it. Check it out!

The Machine is Us/ing Us

Friday, July 2, 2010

Getting my House in Order

My sister is really good at organizing and decorating rooms. She is an expert. She has training. But beyond that, or rather, before that, she has natural talent. Connie has this amazing ability to blend practical with creative expression. That just flabbergasts me because I tend to think of those two as oil and water, and personally, I find it difficult to think of those two words in the same day, let alone the same concept!

I am always impressed when I see her work, but the last time I saw her in action, I had an epiphany. You see, she is creative; she breathes and bleeds creative ideas. You can’t look at her without seeing the features of her physical being in the same way that she can’t look at space without seeing a kaleidoscope of colors and images and all that magic. The creative stuff just happens simply because she is who she is. I get that because that’s how writing is for me.

The last time I witnessed her at work, I saw those two parts of her as separate components: the creative juices that lubricate and fuel the engine, her methodical thinking, and the engine that makes her excel in her work. It was like suddenly seeing the red and blue that make purple.

The epiphany I got was that I can do that, too! Hell, no, I can’t choose colors and I can’t arrange my furniture so that is actually usable. I can’t even alphabetize my files. But I can bring my methodical thinking skills to the forefront of my work because the creative stuff is just who I am. It just happens.

So I started thinking that if I consider my career as my house full of rooms – projects – I can tackle each one like Connie does rooms. There is the “kitchen”, the room where I create the products that provide my income, the fuel for living. And then there is the “garage” where I keep my tools. The “family room” is for all those family projects and the “living room” is for personal writing. The “guest room” is where I focus on marketing and promotion to get new clients. And the “bathroom”, well, I have to have a place to eliminate waste and keep myself clean and presentable.

My career has a house but it doesn’t have a “home”, my stuff is everywhere and it isn’t very inviting. Watching Connie work made me realize that I need to first do some basic house cleaning – put things where they belong. Then I need to employ the methodical thinking skills to 1) identify problems; 2) identify how I work and what I really need; 3) purge the junk; 4) brainstorm for solutions; and 5) organize instinctively. Then I need to live in it for a few months and then reevaluate to see what still needs to be changed. (I added that last step because I have a hard time with final conclusions.)

OK. I need to go work in the “kitchen” now for awhile.