Entitle Your Autobiography

From Creativity Portal, the Imagination Prompt Generator:

Brainstorm 10 titles to your autobiography.

The funny thing is that I do think about titles for my autobiography. Usually while I am writing my personal journal or blog. I think about the people who may read it. More often (these days) I think about my nephew Zack who is also a writer. I think of him sorting through all the bits I have written which could go into a biography. I think of him being the one to find everything, sort it out and pull it all together. Then I think of the note I left him, somewhere, giving him the title I finally picked out for my autobiography, assuming it would ever be written.

What would your titles be, so far?

Here are some I am thinking of:

  • Not Quite the Girl You Once Knew
  • Lost in Her Own Mind
  • Leave the Last Rock for Me
  • A Forest Among the Trees
  • Coffee, Tea and Me
  • I Was Born a Dragon
  • Here Be Dragons…
  • That Canadian Grrl
  • Bewitching Vagabond
  • The Closet Exhibitionist

Crash Blossoms

NY Times: Crash Blossoms

In news writer’s quest for concision, newspaper headlines can lead to some amusing ambiguities.

Funny news headlines which take on a new meaning when written without punctuation. – named Crash Blossoms via Language Log.

Submit any Crash Blossoms you find.

From Wikipedia: Syntactic ambiguity is a property of sentences which may be reasonably interpreted in more than one way, or reasonably interpreted to mean more than one thing. Ambiguity may or may not involve one word having two parts of speech or homonyms.
Syntactic ambiguity arises not from the range of meanings of single words, but from the relationship between the words and clauses of a sentence, and the sentence structure implied thereby. When a reader can reasonably interpret the same sentence as having more than one possible structure, the text is equivocal and meets the definition of syntactic ambiguity.

Proofread… proofread… proofread!

Prepare for Words Matter Week

Words Matter Week – March 6 – 12th.

Try the Blog Challenge Questions. Answer each in your blog on the day they begin.

  • Monday, March 7 – Is there a word that has changed, or could change your life? What is it, and what difference would it make?
  • Tuesday, March 8 – Words can change history. What speech or document do you believe to be most important. Why?
  • Wednesday, March 9 – What is your favorite quote about words. Why?
  • Thursday, March 10 – Words can be mangled, misused, or misunderstood. What is your funniest example of mangling, misuse, or misunderstanding?
  • Friday, March 11 – Words, like moths, are captured by writers who pin them to the page in various forms. What writer’s work most deftly captivates you? Why?

How to Write a Blog Review

If you’re ready to go forth and fearlessly give an honest review of another blog… you need a list to guide you along the way. It helps to have a plan with points which can guide you through the review. You don’t have to mention each point in your final written review but they keep you on track during the actual review.

Do you want a blog reviewed? Go to UP to the D.L. for a review of your blog by experienced blogging women.

Design

  • Is site navigation simple and natural? Do you have to search for buttons, links or archives?
  • Is there any kind of error, script or advertising that makes the site drag while it loads?
  • Does the site use pop up windows, flash, sound or video files which cause the site to load slowly or freeze up?
  • Is the site cluttered in the posting area, the sidebar or the surrounding space?
  • Is there some whitespace to let the reader’s eye have a break from text and images?
  • If the blog uses a premade theme/ template is it obvious or has the blogger made a few customizations so that it feels unique and interesting?
  • Does the site make use of the footer, include links back to the top of the site, contact information, links to other posts which may be of interest, etc.?
  • Were the comments easy to find and easy to use?
  • Is the overall blog design current (versus outdated looking) engaging, energizing or inviting?
  • Is the title of the site clear and easily read, is it located at the top of the site where people would expect to find it?
  • Is the CSS on the site working or do you see any images or text which are cut off or do not otherwise fit on the screen space or space which they are placed?
  • Do all the links in the navigation bar work and does the blog make good use of a navigation bar under the header or places elsewhere easy found and workable?
  • How many times do you scroll down to reach the bottom of the blog? Is there enough to read or too much?
  • Is there something about the design, the overall look of the blog that you especially like and would comment on in the review?

Navigation

  • Does the blog use breadcrumbs so you can select the category to see related posts or skip to the home page, etc.?
  • Can you get from one post to the next without returning to the home page each time?
  • Do the links, on at least the most recent posts, all work?
  • Does the blog redirect to another site?
  • Is there a link back to the home page in the footer and at the top of the blog which is easily found on any page being viewed?
  • Are categories and/ or tags used well?

Focus

  • Is the focus/ purpose of the site easily understood before you go looking for more information or even read a post?
  • Does the site seem to reach it’s intended audience, is it appealing to the target readers?
  • Does it have relevant and current posts and information on the topic?
  • Does the blog use a subtitle and does it make sense with the content and style of the blog.

Content

  • Do the blog posts attract comments/ reader response?
  • Does the content of the site stand out enough from the rest of the site?
  • Is it easy to read the blog posts, do the colours and fonts work?
  • As you begin reading posts is there a post that you especially enjoy or find useful?
  • Does the writer have a voice or style?
  • How is the site for standard spelling, grammar and punctuation?
  • Does the writer need to spend more time proofreading to catch typos?
  • Are the blog posts proactive, give the reader something to think about or come back for?
  • Does the site bring old posts up or related posts which can be read by readers once they finish the current post?
  • Does the site have any broken image files?
  • When graphics are used in a post are they effective, do they go with the post, make sense in their use?
  • Does the blogger tackle a large topic or idea and push it all into one post? Could they use this as a series or a post continued instead?
  • Does the blogger have enough space between paragraphs and ideas in their posts or when you look at a post is it a solid wall of text and not reader friendly?
  • Is the blog sticking to it’s focus or wandering too far off? Are there niche areas which could be used or have been underexplored so far?
  • Knowing many readers will skim posts, are the posts written in the pyramid/ news format?
  • Does the site mix up the format of posts, do they have some lists, some bullet points, some quotes, a bold line to highlight a point or a subheader, maybe even some coloured text or highlighted text in a post?
  • Do the headlines grab reader attention while also letting the reader know what the post will be about?

Site Admin.

  • Is there an About page which clearly explains the purpose and/ or niche of the site?
  • Does the About page explain why the blogger is an authority on the topic with their experience and interests listed?
  • Can you find the site archive and is it easy to navigate?
  • Is there at least one way to contact the blogger, other than leaving a comment on a blog post?
  • Is the blog software up to date or a security risk?
  • Does the site use Creative Commons or some form of copyrights on the blog?
  • Is there too much comment moderation, possibly limiting comments being made?
  • Is there a way to search the site for specific content, using a Search or through categories, tags or an index of content?
  • Does the site use meta tags for title, keywords, description, etc.?
  • When images are used do they belong to the blogger or is credit given when they belong to someone else?
  • Does the blogger give link backs/ proper credit to content they cut and paste from other sites/ sources?
  • If guest posts are used or if the site is looking for writers to contribute are there clear guidelines to what is expected and what the writer will get back from it?
  • Does the blogger have an author resource box at the end of each post, introducing the blogger and the site (a good thing when a post is linked from another blog)?
  • Does the blogger have a posting schedule and is it one which they are able to stick to?
  • Is there a blogroll (list of links), if so, is there some order to the links so readers could know what to expect when they click them?

Social Media/ Networking

  • Are you able to connect to the blogger through social media links like Facebook, StumbleUpon and Twitter?
  • Does the site syndicate, use an RSS feed?
  • Does the writer interact with readers in the blog comments?
  • Does the site use other media to interact or connect with readers: forum, podcast, etc.?
  • If the blogger has other sites, activities like contests or regular events like a weekly podcast are these links and promotions found on the site? Do the links work?

Branding

  • Is there a theme with the blog that carries through to different elements and any social media sites the blogger uses?
  • Would you know this was the same blogger if you found them on Twitter or another social media site or network? Does the site use an avatar in comments or elsewhere?

Finally…

  • Did you learn anything while doing the review?
  • Maybe you found a new site, a new plugin or social media?
  • Would you recommend this blog, link to them or follow them on Twitter?
  • Does the blog feel fresh, like it is still growing and evolving or does it fall a bit flat or feel stagnant even?

Writing the Preface

Do you ever read the preface in books? I do. It seems they should be read as a tribute to the writer, also, there is background to the stories and information about to be given.

Write a preface for whatever you are currently working on. What information would you like to add for the reader before they start to read? What should they know about the process of writing, the interesting things you learned along the way.

Guest Post: Creative Karma

From Bev Walton-Porter at her blog, Elemental Musings.

Creative Karma – Do You Have It?

In the writing life, there are certain intangibles you can’t explain to other writers until they’ve experienced it for themselves. One of those intangibles of the writing life is what I call creative karma. Simply put, creative karma means what you give out, you’ll get back. Giving support and encouragement to other writers will eventually return to you in kind. Publishing is a tough business for writers, so we need to stick together. Back-biting and unhealthy, cut-throat competition doesn’t help the writing community, it only hinders it. Eschewing negativity and using our energies together for the greater good is a win-win situation for everybody.

How can you increase your positive creative karma? Here are five ways to get started!

1. Celebrate others’ successes

Success and accomplishment is good for everyone. It also tends to rub off on others, too! Remember that being a writer isn’t about competing with others; it’s more about competing with yourself. Spread good cheer and encouragement by hailing others’ successes – like selling a first book or getting an agent – and remember that if you haven’t hit your stride yet or haven’t inked your first contract, it’s good to be gracious to others. When your time comes, you’ll find those same writing colleagues will be there to help congratulate and celebrate with you as well.

2. Teach what you know.

You won’t ever know everything about the writing business, but chances are you know something already. Even if you’ve only got a short amount of time under your belt, your trials and tribulations in the publishing industry can help others avoid the same pitfalls. Learned some dos and don’ts about query writing? Discovered a terrific critique group or message board? Found a way to be more productive during your writing day? This information – and more – can be valuable to writers who are just starting out in the craft. Write blog articles or share e-mails with your writing buddies about these things. It’s an easy way to give to others a gift of the knowledge you’ve gained thus far so they won’t make the same mistakes.

3. Share job opportunities.

One of the hardest things to learn as a writer of any kind is where to find writing opportunities or freelance gigs. Do a good deed every day by sharing newly discovered job leads and publishing guidelines with other writers – especially new ones. It may be tempting to keep the information to yourself, but remember that the more you give out, the more you’ll get.

4. Swap resources.

This is along the same lines as sharing job opportunities (above). Got a great lead on a new writers’ resource that’s chock-full of articles, how-to’s and tips? Forward the information to your writing buddies. Got a line on a new imprint for a publisher? Let them in on the tip and guidelines. Know of a new market database? Tell all your writer friends about it. Keep valuable information circulating and your writing network will stay vibrant, healthy and up-to-date!

5. Be a matchmaker.

Introduce the people you know to each other – writers, agents, editors, publishers, readers – so you can help them get in contact with others who may help them find the information they need to move forward on their respective paths to publication and writing success. Networking is a must when it comes to the publishing industry, so take note of your colleagues’ special qualities and play a combination of matchmaker/muse for them.

Keeping good creative karma flowing is one way to do unto others in your writing circle and in your profession. In the publishing business, no one should make a go of it alone – there are too many precarious potholes and dangerous detours to navigate. Offering a helping hand to others builds bridges that won’t be forgotten. In the end, make contact with others and share information you know will reap positive rewards not just for yourself, but for many others as well.

Bev Sninchak (writing as Bev Walton-Porter and Star Ferris) is a professional author and editor who has published hundreds of stories on a wide variety of subjects. She’s also written four books: “Sun Signs for Writers,” “Mending Fences,” “Hidden Fire” and “The Complete Writer: A Guide to Tapping Your Full Potential,” co-authored with three other writers. She has edited and published the award-winning e-zine for writers, Scribe & Quill, for the past 13 years. She is a member of The Authors Guild and is represented by the Meredith Bernstein Literary Agency in NYC and MPL Creative Services of Springfield, MO.

Please visit her websites at: http://www.bevwaltonporter.com and http://editrix.homestead.com

Don’t Slay the Dragon, Untangle It

Most of us could slay dragons if we had to. We can comprehend the urgency of one courageous, ultimate act. What we hate is swatting flies – dealing with the repetitive everyday challenges of life and work.

Most problems in life and writing aren’t solved by slashing decisively through them. They are teased apart, tendril by tendril, until the whole flows freely.

It can help to have a plan.

What obstacles do you anticipate today, in working on the project before you? How could you gently untangle them? What difficulties stand in the way of your life as a writer? What alternatives exist for untwisting them?

I’m going to think, today, of obstacles as tangles to untie. I’ll start with the thread that is nearest me.

Quoted from Susan Shaughnessy, her book, ‘Walking on Alligators’.

I couldn’t find a link to a site, blog or even a Twitter account for Susan Shaughnessy. If someone knows of one leave a link in comments. I always try to find the people behind the books meant to inspire writers to keep writing.

Blog Book Tour

A blog book tour is a virtual book promotion done through weblogs and social media.

Bloggers are asked to make posts about the book on tour. The posts usually contain links to the author and a place where the book is available for purchase. Some posts are author interviews, information on the book’s topic or a straight forward book review (if you were able to read it ahead of time). The more creative and interesting the post the more likely it will stand out and give your blog extra promotion through the book tour. Bloggers may get a review copy of the book.

Although the blog tour is not new online it is still a new concept to many writers. You might hire a blog book tour service or do it yourself. As a blogger you can contact the tour services and offer yourself/ your blog to host a tour.

I’ve done it from the side of the blogger, once, in my personal blog. I didn’t have to do very much. Just make sure I had the post ready to go on the right day with all the right links and formatting. The writer did the real work, including approaching me with the idea, offering me ideas to post and making sure I did post something on the day I was scheduled to post.

Blog Book Tour Services:

ARC Tours depend on bloggers reviewing an author review copy (ARC) of the book and then sending it on to the next person/ blogger to review it. This leaves a lot of time between reviews and it is pretty easy for a tour to be blocked when a book fails to appear at the next destination. They are also limited by mailing distance, the cost of shipping the book to international locations. However, partly because of these things, the ARC blog tour is free or fairly cheap for an author to use in promoting their book.