Enjoyed this post about blogging. It had some great tips and I liked the tip about making a blogging calendar. The link to the blog post calendar also had a great Freelancer work week planner.

J Campbell Social Marketing : Marketing & Social Media Strategy

This post is about my decision to stop blogging… every day. (Not completely. Got ya!)

On March 8, I attended a fantastic seminar at The Enterprise Center at Salem State University called “How To Build A Better Blog”. The presenter was Jennifer Powell from The Excellent Writers Group.

During the two hours session, I took copious notes. Powell discussed how to develop a complete strategy for your blog, how to create goals and objectives, how to identify your target audience, how to create a blog calendar and how to prevent bloggers block.

I realized during this seminar that I don’t have a lack of blog ideas. I certainly don’t have bloggers block. I’ve even blogged about blogging – how to start one and how to promote it.

What I do lack is a strategy. I lack any kind of plan. I don’t know who I’m writing for and…

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Organizing to Write


Organized (Photo credit: Librarian by Day)

Okay, I watched too much “Blue’s Clues” with my daughter when she was a toddler and use the phrase, “handy dandy notebook.”  Can’t help myself.  Well, while perusing my handy dandy notebooks and books about writing, I have been using a bunch of those little flag post its to mark important or interesting things.

I am almost done with the library’s copy of the 2010 Writer’s Market book.  Love the book, but will have to wait to own a copy when budget will allow.  The past few days, I wrote down information for the magazines from the pages I had flagged as possibilities for places to submit articles.  I didn’t write down everything.  Just wrote down things like title, web address, type of writing accepted, word limits, and if accepted poems.

Things do change with time though.  I went to some of the websites and some magazines are no longer accepting submissions or no longer pay for submissions.  I’m updating the list as I go, noting changes, and have gone online to print submission guidelines for some magazines I am really interested in submitting to in the near future.  

In the notebooks I flagged interesting tidbits as well as things I had written, but had not typed into the computer yet.  I’m a little guilty of writing things randomly through my notebooks such as a website link in the margin if I run across an interesting one.  So another project I have done the past few days is try to transfer a lot of the information from my notebooks into the computer in a more organized manner.  I have a form I’m filling out for article writing ideas, a list of writing contests, and another list for helpful websites.  The system I use is after I type the information from a page I flagged, then I remove the flag.  Hopefully, eventually the notebook will be flag free.     

I have still been writing this week, but not really submitted much of anything.  It’s okay though, because I feel the time I am spending on getting somewhat organized will pay off in the long run.  If nothing else, but a little sanity. 

I’ll leave you with a link.  I’ve played around with a few different free organizers and found one I like.  It is HiTask at hitask.com.  It is free, has a calendar, and I can do a to do list for each different project I have I am working on. 

Thoughts on Books about Writing

Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and...

Amazon Kindle DX Graphite displaying Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know I have mentioned before, I love bookstores and love to read!  This week I got a new book on my Kindle from Amazon and also picked up a new book at Barnes & Nobles in the mall on a trip with my daughter.  I have spent way too much time reading this week.

The book I put on my Kindle is Crafting the Personal Essay : A Guide for Writing and Publishing Creative Nonfiction by Dinty W. Moore.  Actually saw it in the mall, but just wrote down the title for future reference.  Well, ended up deciding to get it sooner than later, so did the Kindle version.

The book was so good to me, I have already finished reading it.  It contains so much information on writing personal essays.  Many different types of essays are discussed : memoir, contemplative, spiritual, gastronomical, lyric, nature, travel, and humerous.  I found out there are way more types of essays than I even knew existed.  The author does a good job of providing personal, historical, and more modern examples of essays.  There are also plenty of ideas provided for writing exercises and prompts.

The author shares essays are in a way like poetry as you have the freedom to explore any subject without being forced into a certain mold.  As with other forms of writing, details are important.  Again I saw the recommendation I’ve read in other places of the importance of “show, don’t tell.”  Making a point to try to include the reader of your writing into the world you are sharing with them.

There is general information and recommendations in the book, which would be beneficial to any writer.  Things such as expect the first draft of anything to be bad, expect rejections, and write anything as long as you are writing if faced with writer’s block.  There are sections about blogging, writing groups, and preparing submissions as well.

Even the appendixes in this book are great.  They contained lists of essay examples, books about writing, and places in print as well as online that will accept personal essays.  Overall it was an easy to read book written in a friendly tone and the only sections I occasionally skipped over were if there was a rather lengthy essay example that was not catching my attention.  It is a book I plan on referring to again for pointers and ideas for writing essays.

The other book I got at the mall was Writing The Life Poetic :  An Invitation to Read & Write Poetry by Sage Cohen.  Besides writing essays, I have found a true love of poetry and enjoyed this book on my initial thumb through.  It has 80 short chapters and instead of reading it straight through as I do most books, I’ve started on chapter 56 and read about 10 chapters so far.  So far so good.  Has lots of examples of poetry, good information about writing poetry, and how to share your poetry with others.  I will try to share more once I finish reading it.

Power of Words

*I apologize for little different than usual post, this is more of a venting.*

Words have the power to build up or breakdown.  I read a blog post the other day, which broke my heart.  It was so tragic, I don’t even want to post the link to it here.

The blog post was a book review and the writer of the post was extremely too harsh, in my opinion, to the book author.  Some of the words used were dull and mediocre to describe the book.  This wasn’t enough of a critique, so the post writer had to go on to say they couldn’t read any more of it and how bad it was it was part of a series. 

Even without having read any of the books in the series, I could applaud the book author just for being able to complete a book.  As a fairly new writer with limited experience in rejections it could about make me hesitant to ever publicly offer any writing for critique.  I will though and look forward to feedback.

One day I or any of us may be in a situation to offer feedback on a fellow writer’s writing and I hope we offer honest constructive criticism.  At the same time I hope we are not cruel.  It takes a certain amount of bravery for someone to share their writing with others.

Life experiences with emotional and verbal abuse have also colored my opinion on this subject.  If you’re made to feel you can’t do anything right, where’s the incentive to try.  I guess I could also blame it on living in the South.  I wholeheartedly believe the wise saying many mothers have taught their children, “If you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.”  Guess I’m heading that direction, so I’ll stop my ranting and go write.

Finding a Voice Through Writing

Image of a modern fountain pen writing in curs...

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I read a lot.  Maybe too much for my own good sometimes, but sometimes you learn some interesting things.  Since much of my reading has been about writing, I have found a common thought shared amongst most writers.  It is usually said, “Write what you know.”  It calls out over and over again from writers much like  “use the force” from Star Wars.

Many fiction writers say many of their characters and scenes come from real life.  Topics for many non-fiction writers are derived from situations in writers’ lives.  Many poems have been written throughout history because of something that touched the poet’s life.

Anyhow, sometimes I am one of those people that can know something, but not really get it.  Sometimes my little insecurities keep things hidden from me.  The other day it did dawn on me.  I made the connection.  I do have something to share.

Writing is an amazing outlet to speak what is inside us.  Writing even allows some things to come out, which are not necessarily so easily spoken.  Writing is giving me a voice.  A form of writing I have just become acquainted with is the personal essay.  I am in love with this form of writing.  It tops my list with poetry.

Just this week I have written several personal essays.  Some I will keep to myself, not sure they should be shared yet, but others I want to try to find places to submit.  Here is an online article about writing personal essays : http://www.poewar.com/having-your-say-writing-personal-essays/.

Another type of writing I am becoming familiar with are editorial pieces.  I have submitted one before, but just found out this week my second editorial piece was accepted and I got offered a small payment for it.  Hooray!  Here it is :

It is a slow process, but writing is helping me to find my voice.  Right now I am still exploring and haven’t per se found my niche.  I am trying different types of writing, sometimes out of my comfort level such as writing short stories.  I guess the main thing that matters is I am writing.

Explorations in Social Media

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

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I promise I have been reading and writing quite a bit.  Gracious I’ve even been outdoors a lot the last couple of days as the weather has been so nice.  Somehow though, my mind seems hooked on television today.  Not watching it, just thinking of shows.  Just left some writing I was doing about my thoughts on a television sitcom to come write this post as a matter of fact.

The writing was about a science fiction show, which got my mind clicking and it joined up with thoughts I had while checking emails this morning.  I thought how my explorations into social media reminds me of the beginning of the old episodes of “Star Trek“.  The part where Captain Kirk was talking about venturing forth into “…Space, the final frontier.”  The world of social media seems as vast as space to me and easy to get overwhelmed in, so I try to tread cautiously yet I do find it offers a wealth of information and support.

I’ve kind of found a good rhythm to my days, though no two days are ever set in stone and followed rigidly.  Normally I like to check my emails first thing in the morning, which gets me started in the wide world of social media.  I’m on LinkedIn, so I run through the emails from the groups I’m in and will comment on some discussions if something catches my eye.

If you are not familiar with LinkedIn yet, it would be worth exploring.  You can find it at www.linkedin.com.  It is a great way to share in a community of writers.  I am in several writing and poetry groups.  It is also a great resource for tips and discovering wonderful links.  This morning someone posted a link to www.everywritersresource.com, which I have only briefly visited and will hopefully explore more today.

Another social media my daughter taught me about years ago is facebook, which it seems everyone has heard of now.  I only visit my facebook page a little and enjoy it to keep in touch with family and friends primarily.  It is also connected to my wordpress blogs, so links to each new post show up there.  I do not post everything I write, but will occasionally post a link to something I have written I want to share.

I’m always open to learning and my sister taught me about the latest social media craze, Pinterest, and yes I am hooked.  For me Pinterest is primarily a source of relaxation and occasionally inspiration.  You can create many virtual bulletin boards and pin things from a wide array of images that you find interesting.  Recently I even started a board for books I want to read one day, many of which I have stumbled across from reading blogs.  You can join Pinterest by invitation, I’ll be glad to send you one if you’d like, or you can request an invite by visiting www.pinterest.com.

The last bit of social media I partake in is blogging.  I used to read blogs occasionally, but have really enjoyed blogging myself.  As another blogger posted this week, blogging is in a sense it’s own community.  I enjoy commenting on other blogs and enjoy reading comments left on my blogs.

Well, these are just some of my explorations in social media, enjoy your search into the vast world and find what works for you.  There is so much and everything may not be your cup of tea.  For example, for me there will be no tweeting with twitter.  Not that I dislike twitter, but my cup runneth over.


Searching for Writing Ideas and Motivation

Cover of "How to Get Ideas"

Cover of How to Get Ideas

I am in one of those discouraged moods.  I know I won’t stay there long, but at the moment I am having one of those self pity “woe is me” parties.  I know things take time and I just need to persevere.  Life just doesn’t seem to move as quickly as I want it to at times.  When I am in one of these moods, it zaps my motivation and makes it hard to get things done.

Right now I could either curl up reading a book for hours or watch television without really watching it, but just to distract my mind from thinking about things.  Neither one of those would really be productive choices, when there is so much that needs to be done.  Yes, we all need some down time, but I feel I have had way too much down time this week.

Instead I thought I would write, because usually it seems I feel better when I write.  The only problem is I don’t know what to write about and there is nothing I really have a great desire to write about right now.  I have looked at my list of article ideas, but none of them are interesting to me at the moment.

This blog post may be the only writing I accomplish today, but I am exploring the internet some for article ideas.  I found a website called Quips and Tips for Successful Writers at http://theadventurouswriter.com/blogwriting/how-to-get-ideas-for-magazine-articles-freelance-writing-tips/, which had an article with some useful suggestions on how to get ideas.  If I can get motivated at least maybe I will work on a list of some ideas after answering some of the questions I found there.  Well, away I go to surf the internet some more, but hopefully will not lose myself there too long and will find a spark of motivation.

Writing Magazine Query Letters


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I would like to start to submit articles to magazines, so I have been reading a lot lately about writing magazine query letters.  The Right-Writing.com website had a great article “The Beginner’s Guide to Freelance Writing”, which shared useful information to write queries.  It cleared up definitions about things such as first rights, second serial rights, and kill fees as well as even had a sample letter.  The article can be found at http://www.aboutfreelancewriting.com/2009/08/magazine-query-letter-sample/.   This was just one of many articles I have read online, but it seemed to have the greatest amount of useful information in one place.

Another thing I have done in preparation of sending magazine queries is to look for places to submit articles.  The last few days I have kept a supply of post it flags near my favorite chair as I have perused the library’s copy of the 2010 edition of the Writer’s Market.  I am amazed at the discovery of some magazines I didn’t even know existed as well as the number of places I can attempt to submit some of my poetry.  I know it seems the overwhelming school of thought is you can’t make a living writing poetry, but my poetry makes me happy.

It seems the advice to improve writing is to do more of it and often, so I am hoping this will apply well to writing query letters too.  I have to admit I am a bit nervous as I am not an established writer with multiple clips to prove I can write, but everyone had to begin somewhere.  I plan to start with areas I have experience in such as homeschooling and caregiving.  Well, now I need to quit procrastinating, so away I go to write some magazine queries.



Writing Progress and Plans

Yahoo! symbol design

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It has been a very busy week and different than my usual routine.  I have not done as much writing as I would have liked to, but did manage to finish an editorial piece to submit to the Yahoo! Contributor Network.  I also started working on another couple of articles for next week.  I have really enjoyed writing for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.  I have even taken on some writing assignments there, which were not for pay and just for display only, but gave me some practice writing other things a little out of my comfort zone.  For example, I have not written a short story since high school, yet attempted to write a science fiction story.  It may not have been “great”, but it was fun.  Here is the link and if you have any feedback you are welcome to tell me as I am one of those people who can handle constructive criticism well : http://voices.yahoo.com/alliance-earth-planet-vermilla-sabotaged-11006896.html .

The pieces I usually prefer to write are articles and poetry.  It was nice this week to come in after a horrible day and have good news waiting in my email inbox alerting me some of my writing was published on Yahoo! Voices.  Here are links to two articles from this week :  http://voices.yahoo.com/save-money-through-yourself-repairs-10988874.html and http://voices.yahoo.com/first-person-learning-through-yourself-projects-10988638.html .  So far I have earned close to $12, which may not be much, but everyone has to begin somewhere.  The Yahoo! Contributor Network has been user friendly to submit writing, has good forums for learning more information or asking questions, and I have even had rejected pieces approved if I followed the suggestions offered in the feedback.  If you are a beginner it is a place you may want to give a try.

Another idea I have seen in several places is to keep a list of article ideas you are working on, so I created a chart in Microsoft Works on my computer.  I titled it Writing Idea List.  It has columns for the idea, publication, date sent, and the result.  I took the ideas I had brainstormed in my notebooks and filled in the chart.  I think I will put it in a page protector and keep it near the computer or start a notebook maybe.  I am kind of a notebook queen around the house for organizing.

Finding resources seems to have been my final task for the week.  There were many treasures I discovered in a library visit, which included a 2010 edition of the Writers Market.  At a bookstore I looked through several writers magazines and finally settled on a copy of the Writer.  I decided I couldn’t buy them all(didn’t need to either) and this magazine had more articles I thought offered more helpful information.  Well, that was my writing progress for the week, but next week will hopefully be a fresh start and I plan to tackle magazine queries for some articles I am finishing up.