Guest Posts are Dead, Long Live the Interview

My new idea… (yes, it does need a little intro sort of moment)…

Guest posts have failed but that doesn’t mean we should give up on finding a new way to get ourselves promoted while we mix with other bloggers we want to meet. Instead of offering to write a guest post – offer to interview someone instead. 

First, an interview is flattering. To show enough interest in someone to want to know more about them and to write nice/ good things about them can only go well, in my opinion. Don’t be overly flattering, don’t fawn over them in a sickening way. Just be forthright, tell them why you want to interview them, what you find interesting about the things they are doing, creating or writing about. Be honest. If you can’t be honest then you should be doing research until you have real, honest and sincere answers to the question of why you want to interview the person.

Second, in most cases, the person you interview will mention the interview and link back to your site so that others can read the interview. This is why you don’t write a lame interview. Get good quotes from them – this is much easier when the interview is done through email. It’s very hard to misquote someone when they have typed it in themselves. Make a list of things the person is involved with, projects they are working on, etc. Ask them how the events/ projects are going and if they are any new coming up or any you had not found out about on your own. These are all reasons for them to want other people to read the interview you wrote. Remember, be flattering but not sickening.

Third of all, people will like that this is about them and NOT about you or your sites. This is not a promotional scheme about getting your links on their blog. (Yes, you hope to get a link back). People are more likely to give you a link back out of gratitude for a great interview, out of their own good natures or just because you made the effort to get to know them and you are no longer one of the nameless, faceless masses. Keep in touch with the people you interview. Add them to your Twitter account and whatever social media you tend to watch. This way you might even find yourself getting more interviews with the other people in their social network.

Interviews are not a new idea. But, they have not been given enough credit. Make sure you do some research, put thought into the questions you ask. Have some standard questions, ask more questions than you need and develop a style to the interview as you get good at interviewing. Come up with a theme, or one unique question which you use in every interview. Give yourself some individuality as an interviewer. Most of all, learn something along the way and keep it social and interesting for yourself as well.

Horror Stories for Short Attention Spans

I wrote Fairy Tales for Short Attention Spans, now I’m working on Horror Stories for Short Attention Spans cause it’s good to make your brain work in different directions.

Write something short and twisted and horrifyingly spooky. Keep it to the length of just one paragraph with a beginning, middle and an ending.

Jack was exploring an old, derelict mansion, creating a photo documentary. He tripped over a floor board and found a necklace hidden underneath, it sparkled and glittered in a rainbow of colours. He put it in his pocket. The mansion was creepy. At odd moments he was sure he saw a strange woman from the corner of his eye. Finally he packed up and headed out the front door. But, each time he tried to leave he found himself weirdly turned around and entering the house again instead of leaving. Over and over and over he attempted to exit. It began to make him feel sick with dizziness. He had forgotten all about the necklace in his pocket. Which was a real shame cause that was all she wanted. The ghost watched him struggle for hours, desperate, scared. She wanted her necklace but could only take it when it passed into the realm of the dead. No matter, she’d make sure Jack never left, alive.

Another story. The thing with mirrors has long been a creepy idea for me.

Alice was a little into herself but Stanley loved her all the same. He found a full length antique mirror in a junk shop, brought it home, cleaned it up and gave it to Alice on her birthday. It was weird with gargoyles and other odd characters decorating the iron frame but she loved it. Weeks went by, Alice seemed to spend more and more time admiring herself in the mirror. She even missed important events with her family, friends and sales at her favourite stores. As time went by Stanley noticed Alice was getting thinner. Not in a slender way, like someone losing weight, Alice was becoming transparent. Doctors thought Stanley was imagining it all. They kept him for a few days, in case he became dangerous. When Stanley came home again Alice was gone. He tried to find her, but no one had seen her. After a year Stanley gave up. He packed up all her things and put them into storage. Placing the antique mirror in the storage unit, he left it facing the wall, just too sad to look at it and not see Alice reflected in it. Which was too bad cause Alice was there, trapped inside the mirror. Stanley left the storage locker, shutting off the light.

Life Map

Think of your life as a road stretching out towards your future and back into your past behind you. Create a map for your life, your past. Draw it out starting at your birth and then onto important events in your life. Each point represents a story or an experience in your life. Add more as you think of them. How many stories did you remember once you put your mind into it? Looking back how do you see things differently, with your current perspective?

Make sure to draw your life map with plenty of twists, curves, valleys and peaks, cause that’s what life is like.

Can you create a life map for a character as you plan a fiction story? Or, when you interview someone would it help to put your research about them into a life map and see what really interests you or what you would like to know more about.

Other Resources:

FreelanceCampTO

FreelanceCampTO

Join your fellow Toronto area freelancers for the first freelancecampTO on Sun Oct 3 at the Ryerson Ted Rogers School of Management.

Camp-style events are user-generated conferences that are open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants. freelancecampTO will focus on how to be a better freelancer. The event is free, but registration is required.

Sharing Life Stories

From A Storied Career on Twitter, I found out about International Day for Sharing Life Stories.

…encouraging individuals and organizations to this year’s 3rd International Day for Sharing Life celebration on May 16, 2010!
As in the prior years, we encourage you to consider any number of activities, including:

  • Story Circles in schools, community centers, homes, and churches
  • Public open-microphone performances of stories
  • Exhibitions of stories in public venues as image, text, and audio-visual materials
  • Celebratory events to honor local storytellers, practitioners and organizations
  • Open houses for organizations with a life-story sharing component
  • Online simultaneous gatherings, postings, and story exchanges
  • Print, Radio and Television broadcast programming on life stories, and documentaries that feature oral histories and story exchanges

How much of your life story would you share? It is one thing to tell a friend, quite another to put it out there for anyone and everyone to read or hear. Everyone has things we keep to ourselves. But, the overall story could be shared. Still, if you keep out all the juicy bits, the scary parts and the real emotion, any life story becomes bland.

Think of sharing your life story as a test of your own boldness. Yet, keep in mind that you don’t know who may read or hear it down the road. That is just a sad facet of our digi culture.

Boldness has Genius, Power and Magic

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” – From Faust, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

People write about looking at a blank page and getting started with writing. I think the bigger challenge is to look at what you wrote yesterday, find the thread of your thoughts and press on with it. I think it is easier to just write something new each day, something without a past and lacking any errors or regrets.

But, a story needs a beginning as well as a middle and an ending. Keep working on it.

Addendum: There is a little background about the origins of this quote. I looked it up after I was contacted by Terry Rothermich. I also found there is more to the quote. Here is a fuller version, which I liked.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Hyperlocal, What is It?

I’ve seen the term hyperlocal come up three times lately. I decided to spend some time to find out what it is exactly and how it is being used.
Of course, Wikipedia comes up first in the results I get from Google. : Hyperlocal –

refers to the emergent ecology of data (including textual content), aggregators, publication mechanism and user interactions and behaviours which centre on a resident of a location and the business of being a resident. Hyperlocal content, often referred to as hyperlocal news, is characterized by three major elements. Firstly, it refers to entities and events that are located within a well defined, community scale area. Secondly, it is intended primarily for consumption by residents of that area. Thirdly, it is created by a resident of the location (but this last point is discussed because for example a photo can be hyperlocal but not locally produced).

Hyperlocal World – Developments in news, people and the first law of geography.
HyperlocalBlogger.com – Tips and discussion for local bloggers.
Hyperlocal 101 – Tools and technique for the hyperlocal revolution.

Blog TO is a hyperlocal news blog from Toronto. It comes from a network, Freshdaily.ca (site is not up).

Other hyperlocal blog networks:

Individual hyperlocal content blogs:

If hyperlocal blogging is interesting you take a look at TwitterLocal, which gives you a Twitter feed by location and LocalTweeps which is a directory built with zip codes. Also, look for blog directories based on regional locations, each blog you find there is a possible source of news and events locally. You may find other locals to post their perspectives, advertising, photos and news stories on your hyperlocal blog. Of course everything local is a marketing/ promotion resource for a hyperlocal blog. You don’t need to be in to top rank of international lists for blogs, keep your focus on local in every way.

The links for networks and especially those for individual hyperlocal blogs are just a few I found when I went looking. There are masses of sites once you know what to look for. Some don’t use the term hyperlocal, they may call themselves citizen journalists, or maybe cell journalists.

Storytelling

What the ear does not hear cannot move the heart. — Cape Breton saying

March 25th I am attending a local Storytelling workshop. I’m looking forward to it and I really like Joanne, the woman who does the workshop. Today I looked up storytelling to find out a bit more and see what we might be doing in the workshop, just curious. There are a vast amount of resources for storytelling online.

From Wikipedia: Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images, and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture and in every land as a means of entertainment, education, preservation of culture and in order to instill moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot and characters, as well as the narrative point of view.

Storytellers of Canada

Storytelling Toronto

Vancouver Storytelling

Ottawa Storytellers

National Storytelling Network (USA)

International Storytelling Center

Society for Storytelling (UK)

Australian Storytelling

Professional Storyteller Network

World Storytelling Day is March 20th. Great timing for my workshop.

Digital Storytelling and Digistories

High Brow and Low Brow

Have you heard the terms “high brow” and “low brow” before?

High brow being something elitist and cultured and low brow (a negative term for popular culture)  being something very casual and possibly tacky.

Make a list of things you like yourself or things (events, hobbies, etc) which a character likes. Choose which are high brow and which are low brow. A character with a lot of high brow activities isn’t likely to have a low brow personality. Also, making a list like this gives your character a chance to evolve and be more than words on a page. Introduce some new pop culture or unique event to your readers. Make your story memorable by showing them a whole new world.

The Order of Events

Write down at least 10 things that you did today (or 10 things that happened to you today). Make them a short list in the order they happened, chronological order.

Now jumble the order, randomly. How would your day have been different if things had happened in the new random order?

If you change the order of events in fiction could that give your story a whole new plot or at least a plot twist?