Monday, June 15, 2015

The Guilt of an Online Writer


For just a moment, I want you to go back in time, to the days before the Internet. As a published writer, you laboriously sent query letters to publishers and agents and waited sometimes as long as six weeks – or longer – to hear from those agents and publishers. And you waited. And you waited.

Always, in the back of your mind or sitting in front of you – on paper – was that next book, that next article, or that next screenplay. As you finished one project, or even before you finished your current book, article, or screenplay, you directed your attention to a new one.

You frequented your local library or book store to purchase and read your favorite authors. Occasionally, you might even send a letter to your favorite authors. But never once did you expect those authors to read your material. You probably wouldn’t have even asked. Most writers back then wouldn’t have considered writing, “Enjoyed your work. Now read mine.”

And yet, as we fast forward to today, the message seems to be that if you write online, you must also read everyone who reads you. This task can become daunting and can cause a lot of guilt if we just want to write for a living. The number of people who call themselves writers has proliferated to the point where anyone who posts a comment considers him- or herself to be a writer. If thousands of people comment on your work, must you then comment on each of theirs? And if you don’t comment on theirs, does not commenting constitute a betrayal of sorts? By not commenting on their material, are you jeopardizing your own future?

I think of Stephen King and J. K. Rowling – just two examples of prolific writers who have fans that number in the millions. Can you imagine writing to them in Blog Land? Yeah. “Um, hi, Stephen King, I just read your book and now I want you to read mine” (multiply that comment by at least a million commenters). Who would expect Mr. King or any famous writer, for that matter, to comment on anything an unknown, fledgling writer wrote?

But that’s the problem. We aren’t famous. Nobody knows us - well, except maybe for a select group of other writers who want us to read their blog posts and articles and where the relationship is consensual. Even famous bloggers, like ProBlogger, Darren Rowse, can’t possibly comment on every blogger who posts a comment on his site.

So what do we unknown writers do – we write, we read, we comment – and we feel guilty if we can’t get to everyone who reads and comments on our work. I guess that’s the price we pay for not yet making it to the “Writers Readers Love To Read” level. But we’ve learned one Golden Rule – don’t beg people to read our work! We can, however, plaster our posts all over Facebook and Twitter and hope that somebody finds us amusing, delightful, informative, profound, or any of the other adjectives people use to compliment amazing writers.

For some of my latest posts, I’d like to direct you to the following:







Thank you for visiting!

Image by click on morgue file



Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When The People You Love Don’t Support Your Writing Career


Previously published last year on and then removed from Persona Paper.

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t know I could make a living by writing, because I was guided down a different path, but from the moment I could hold a pencil in my hand, the urge to write was overwhelming. And when I got a typewriter for Christmas one year (some of you are probably asking, “What’s a typewriter?”) I was elated. But Mom and Dad didn’t encourage me, because, according to my mom, writing wasn’t a secure profession. Secretarial work, on the other hand, was a worthwhile profession, so though she told me I could be anything I wanted to be, even president, she pushed me toward secretarial work, because it was more secure. 

I hated being a secretary.

Eventually I worked as a designer at a newspaper and I was given an opportunity to write my own column, but I still longed for some kind of acknowledgment from my mother. Dad never read anything I wrote. I never even thought to ask him to read my work, but my mom didn’t like anything I wrote. She preferred fiction and I wrote nonfiction. She always told me I should write children’s stories because of my vivid imagination. I should have been J.K. Rowling, I suppose, but I doubt she would have read those types of books, either.

Interestingly, she forwards nonfiction emails to all of her friends and family members; however, when I asked her to send my blogs to her friends, she refused, because she didn’t want to “bother” them. My fiction, however, didn’t work for her either.

My screenplays were fictional, so in the 1980s when I had written what I thought was a humorous screenplay, I let my mother and two of my friends read it. My friends laughed out loud in certain parts. My mother, on the oner hand, found not one sentence funny. She even said out loud, “I didn’t find it funny at all.” I found her comment weird considering that when I worked for several hours on my 4th grade homework assignment, after my mom read it, and while she was reading it, she laughed so hard she cried.

When I read that same assignment years later – 5 chapters of words scrunched into 5 paragraphs – I could see why. I was a child who took everything literally (I still do), so when my teacher instructed me to write one paragraph using every single word in the spelling chapter, and she had taught me that a paragraph was one central thought, I forced a relationship between words that were so different, I called upon every creative faculty in my brain to force them to connect. The results were hilarious, but not intentionally so. I found out later that the teacher meant to say “paragraphs” – plural.

Having no emotional support forced me to rely upon myself. But how can anyone accurately assess themselves by themselves? Friends would tell me I was creative and talented, but I found it hard to believe them. So I attended college in my late 30s – not to get a degree, though I got one – but to find out if anybody there though I had any writing talent. 

When I received glowing comments on all of my assignments, I felt that maybe I really had some talent, and when my assignments were chosen by the instructors as examples for how the class should write them, I beamed. When I became a tutor in the English lab, I felt that maybe I was worthy of calling myself a writer after all.

But I still didn’t have the admiration of my mother. My sisters were more supportive. I don’t think my father ever knew I wrote anything, and unless I wrote encyclopedias, which were the only books I ever saw him read, he wouldn’t have been interested anyway, but I wanted, and never got, the support and encouragement I needed from my mother. I vowed that when I had my own kids I would encourage them to become whatever they wanted to be and I would help them in any way I could. 

So when I asked my oldest daughter what she wanted to be when she grew up, I was surprised when she responded, “A mom.” She got her wish – she had five children. My next oldest daughter wanted to be a fashion designer. She works for an engineering firm, but she still has her eyes set on fashion. My son had no idea what he wanted to be, so in March, 2001, he joined the Marines. My youngest daughter decided to open an upscale consignment boutique and is doing very well. I still think kids flourish when they get support and encouragement from the people who matter most to them. 

I’ll be 63 in 3 days (remember this was written last year). I have written hundreds of blogs and have received thousands of views. I’ve received numerous compliments on my writing ability, too. And I have received awards, so why is getting some encouragement from my mother so important? Why can’t I just let it go? 

I’ll tell you why. Because no matter how old we get, we still long for acceptance, specifically from our parents or maybe from a mentor. If you write and you don’t get the support and encouragement you need from the people who love you, where can you find motivation to continue writing?

For me personally, my need to write surpasses my need for acceptance, so I’ll continue to write and will probably die wishing I still had my mother’s support.


Afterword: Over the past year, on a couple of my blogs, my mother has commented. Above all other comments I receive, I value hers the most.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Want to write a movie or TV show, but can’t afford to take a class? Watch this one video and you might not need a class!


The basis of any movie or television show is the story. I think we can all agree on that. But what makes the story compelling are the characters in the story. We want our audiences to be able to identify with those characters and root for our protagonist. We want believable characters that audiences care about. We want an emotional response from our audience and we want to see physical manifestations of those emotions – from tears to laughter. Above all, though, we want audiences to walk away from our story with a sense of awe and a desire to share their thoughts and emotions about the movie or television show we wrote with their friends and family members and even with casual acquaintances. 

So how do we create characters and story lines that audiences love? 

We may have studied a lot of screenplay writing techniques and read a lot of information about how to make an outstanding movie or TV show, but what we’ve written so far can’t even win us a contest or a few minutes with a producer to explain our movie or television ideas. 

Well, here’s help for all fledgling television or film writers. 

When I watched the video I’m about to present, I felt as if I could have gone to school for four years and not learned as much as I learned in this one hour and sixteen minute presentation offered on Larry Brody’s TV Writer web site.  What the video on the page linked below explains are the most important basics of television and movie writing. In a condensed version of what could have been an entire semester’s worth of classes, you will learn how to capture an audience’s attention and create lovable and empathetic characters audiences will love. TV Writer, by the way, is packed with useful information about television writing.

Because I feel so strongly about this video, I could go on and on about it, but why not just send you right to the source? I think you’ll agree with me that this video is packed with important information any writer venturing into the television or movie industry would need to know. Have a pad of paper and a pen within reach! And ENJOY!



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dreams, Crafts, Death, Karma, Asthma, Honesty, Grudges, Television, Blogs, and More


The following links connect to blogs I’ve been writing lately – if any of the topics interest you, I hope you’ll read them. The titles should be self explanatory and I’ve placed them into as few categories as possible.

CRAFTS







HEALTH






HUMOR







PARANORMAL





PHILOSOPHICAL




Day Care Providers BEWARE! (Of Accepting Payments from a Child Care Resource Service) 




The Grudge Wall (Holding Grudges



Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Make LOTS of Money


Previously published on Yahoo Contributor Network and then stolen by one of those plagiarized sites I mentioned in the following linked blog: WRITERS! This Site is Stealing Your Work! Rather than change the whole thing to past tense, I kept everything in the present and mentioned in various places certain changes that have taken place since I first wrote this article. 

Ah, money! Who doesn't love money? We are in love with the sound of it, the smell of it, the feel of it - and, oh, yes, the everything of money.

We even write songs about it, like Money by Pink Floyd, Can't Buy Me Love by The Beatles, Can't Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones, and For the Love of Money by the O'Jays.

Money, money, money, money - what a melodious word. And oh, what we do for the love of money. With all the romanticism surrounding money, though, you would think money was the answer to every problem. It's not. However, money can be problematic, though usually more because of its absence than because of its presence.

The biggest problem with money, as I see it, is our relationship with money. It's all so one-sided. We love money, but money doesn't love us back. And though we want money, some of us can't seem to find it. When we get money, some of us lose it.

Some of us save it for a rainy day; others lavishly spend it. Some of us give our money away, and some of us hoard it. But more often than not, many of us hunger for it. We need money and money seems to know it.

But money doesn't care, and money doesn't realize its worth. We realize its worth, though, because in our quest for money, some of us resort to illegal activities to obtain it. Money from drugs and gambling can build empires. The trade-off is the constant threat of losing every dollar (and more) we steal, or going to prison - not a risk I'm wiling to take.

The most common way to get money, other than to receive it as a gift, through inheritance, or through any of the methods mentioned above, is to work for it. For instance, right now, because I work as a writer, I make my living writing blogs and articles.

I use the term, "living" loosely. At $1.55 for every one thousand people who read my Associated Content/Yahoo Contributor Network articles, if I wanted to make $2,000 a month, I would have to snag at least 1,290,322.58 readers each and every month. I have been on AC/YCN since June of '08 and as of this posting have received less than 85,000 total reads. (UPDATE: AC/YCN has been kaput for a while now.)

Another way I make money is through Adsense and Amazon (no longer on Amazon). I also write for Xomba where they (used to) share their Adsense revenue with me.

But so far, I haven't even made the minimum $100 needed for a payout. Until I reach $100, I receive nothing, so I check my Adsense growth for some sign of income. So far, since March of 2009, my Adsense earnings from my blogs and, more recently from Xomba, have reached a staggering $43 (in 2010 when I wrote this post).

Writing is obviously not supporting me, so what if I were to change jobs?

If I were a star athlete for the Chicago Cubs in 2010, I could make $2,125,000. Not bad for a season's worth of work.

But with a bad back, a horrible history of asthma, breast cancer, absolutely no athletic skills whatsoever, and, did I mention how old I am (59)? - I can't count on making even a nickel playing sports.

So what about acting? If I were Mariska Hargitay or Christopher Meloni (of Law & Order: SVU), I could expect to make $395,000 per episode. I could live on that.

However, if I were Charlie Sheen (of Two and a Half Men), I could command $1.25 million PER EPISODE (less than the $2 million he supposedly made the year before). Hey! If I were Charlie Sheen, I could even be the philanthropist he is and help those poor prostitutes who have to work hard for a living.

I wonder, though, how Jon Cryer (of Two and a Half Men) feels. He makes less than half of his co-worker's salary, a mere $550,000 per episode (poor man), but I could hone my acting skills if I thought I could bring in half a million dollars.

I don't see myself as an actor though, nor would I ever wanted to be an actor.

Maybe I should report the news. Matt Lauer (of Today) makes more than $16 million a year. Or I could host my own reality show. Ryan Seacrest (of American Idol) makes $15 million a year.

Yes! That's it! I could gather all of my grandchildren together, start my own family show, and, like Kate Gosselin (of Kate Plus 8), bring in $250,000 per episode.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'd probably do better as a talk show host. Contrary to comments I've heard people say, such as, "I wouldn't know what to do with all that money," I would really like to try living on Oprah Winfrey's $315 million salary. I'd even settle for Chelsea Handler's (of Chelsea Lately) meager yearly income of $3.5 million.

Alas, I am only a writer. So what can I expect to make? Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Median annual wages for salaried writers and authors were $53,070 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $38,150 and $75,060. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $106,630."

I've decided I would like to be in the top 10 percent, and I would like to have a more fulfilling relationship with money.

So - I have a request to make of you, my readers: Please contact 69 million of your friends and relatives and ask them to read my articles. To help my Adsense growth, please read my blogs and invite your friends and relatives to read them as well. (For convenience sake, I have included links to all of my blogs and articles at the end of this article.)

Lesson to be gained from reading this article: if you want to make lots of money, prepare for yourself a career in the entertainment field.

By the way, if you are interested in learning the salaries of various sports teams and their stars, click THIS USA Today LINK! Pick a sport, choose a player's name or team, decide which year you would like to investigate, and discover what salary your favorite player made. The site goes back only so far though, so if you're expecting to find Michael Jordan's salary from the 1980s, you're out of luck.

If you've made it all the way to the end - to this paragraph, I want to personally thank you for taking the time to read the entire article. Don't forget to tell 69 million of your closest friends to read my blogs and articles each month - I'm aiming for that top earning status for writers!

So, how can we make LOTS of money? We have to become coveted actors, sports players, or talk show hosts!


Sources http://www.bls.gov/
http://www.usatoday.com/

What follows is a list of my blogs. If you see anything that appeals to you, I invite you to click the link and read some of the blogs. Thank you for visiting!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

WRITERS! This Site is Stealing Your Work!

Sadly plagiarism is alive and well in so many places on the web that every time I am alerted to one web site that has stolen my property, I discover another one. I’ll be honest – I’m INFURIATED! I just found some of my work on a site that calls itself Wet Tub. Absolutely no credit whatsoever is given to the original writer – they just steal what isn’t theirs! And a LOT of articles appear on that site.

So be forewarned – your work might be there too. If you can get the word out, I would appreciate it. Some of us are trying to post our work on other sites, but Google will see this as “duplicate content,” so even if you’ve protected your work, thieves will still steal it from you and you might not be able to post it on venues where YOU could be making money from YOUR writing!

To find your work, just Google either the title or a line from your writing. Let's try to stop plagiarism together!

Interesting observation – these sites all look eerily similar to each other.

UPDATE: Thanks to Tony Payne bringing another one to my attention, I'd like to add Tiny Jump to what I'm sure will be a list of plagiarizers. If you find any more, please let me know.

UPDATE 2: Super Blinky has also stolen my work.

UPDATE 3: From Tony Payne on how to report your stolen work: If you view one of your articles on the site and there is a Google ad on the page, at the top right of the ad is something that looks like a small triangle. Click on that and it opens a Google page. At the bottom of that page you can leave feedback on the website. Add as much as you can to verify yourself as the author/owner, like url's etc.


UPDATE 4: From Davida Chazan: If you get them to remove your article, take the URL to this site and have Google remove it from their archive. That way they can't use a catched version of the article. Oh, and some of these sites also have a place where they note their DMCA policies. If you click on that, they sometimes have an email address (written like "admin at sitename dot com") that you can write to them about it. That way you can send them screen shots to prove that the article is yours (if you have them). Then check the URL again in a few days. If its gone, use the above webmaster removal tool.

UPDATE 5: I just discovered that superItchy.com has also stolen my work.

UPDATE 6: Today, March 17, 2015, I discovered another thief – superpeachy.com and, as I have for the other plagiarizers, I reported this one as well!

UPDATE 7: Today, March 25, 2015, I discovered yet another plagiarized site – beefycow.com. While I've noticed that Google has removed ads from sites I've reported, they have NOT removed the articles! How disappointing!

UPDATE 8: Will this list never end? Here’s another one that has stolen my work: rustybee.com. Again, ALL of these sites look similar – or exactly the same. Could they be the work of one person?

UPDATE 9: Egg Van is another thieving site brought to my attention by one of the commenters below. Thank you, Kim.

Come on, Google, don't just get rid of the ads – get rid of these plagiarists!



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Factors That Contribute to Creativity – Do You Have to be Brilliant to be Creative?


Some people believe that creativity belongs only to talented composers, architects, artists, literary geniuses, and multi-billionaire entrepreneurs. But guess what – we are ALL creative. We might not use our creative talents, because we might not recognize that we have them, but we are all filled with creative potential awaiting the right moment, the right exposure, or the right spark to coax that potential into something extraordinary.

During the summer months of my early years, I spent many days on one of Lake Michigan’s beautiful beaches. My mother would take my sisters and me to Lake Michigan’s southwest side near the Museum of Science and Industry nearly every day during the summer months. 

Memories wash over me of that time – sitting in the sand building my little castles and looking out on the water, daydreaming. I can still feel the kind of peace that calmed my soul and allowed me to become one with the Universe. All of the sights, smells, and sounds around me combined in such a way that my mind could drift into territories previously unexplored. Unbeknown to me back then, there sat my muse, awaiting my recognition of her. 

Even today I find my most creative (and peaceful) moments are the ones that involve water. Water in the form of rain brings on a melancholy mood that allows my mind to quiet and to relax enough to entertain the thoughts my muse introduces to me. Sometimes just the memory of being near water is enough of a catalyst to invigorate my creativity.

My creativity didn’t stop when I grew up, however. Though children are innately creative – give them any medium such as crayons, paints, blocks, or even boxes filled with string and large beads, and you can almost see their minds connect dots where none existed before. And though some people believe they're not creative, we should learn to understand that we are ALL creative IF we allow ourselves to pay attention to what arouses our curiosity, sparks our imaginations, and allows us to recognize relationships we never knew existed. The ability to create comes down to three important factors: curiosity, imagination, and the ability to connect two or more seemingly unrelated ideas.

Curiosity

One of the most important phrases for anyone seeking to create anything is, “What if?” Take an ordinary skein of yarn. Ten different people will look at that one skein of yarn and come up with ten completely different projects, just by asking themselves that all important question – whether they are aware or not that they are asking it –“What if?”

Give a paint set to a child and without the child consciously thinking, “What if?” that child will intuitively ask him- or herself that question with each stroke of the brush.

Give a thousand writers a topic to research and write, and you’ll get a thousand different papers showing several different viewpoints that draw several different conclusions. 

Vivid Imagination

We all dream. Whether we know it or not, we do. And in those dreams we find remnants of our imaginations. 

I was once given an assignment when I was 9 years old. That assignment required me to write one paragraph for each of five chapters in my spelling book. As a child who took everything literally and who was already very interested in writing, I took this assignment very seriously. A paragraph, I had learned, was a section of writing that dealt with one central thought.

The spelling words in each chapter, however, were completely unrelated. Tying them together took a vivid imagination and I think the seeds of my creativity were planted during that assignment. I saw connections I’d never made before, because I was forced to create them. 

And that takes me to the next factor that contributes to creativity.

Ability to Connect Two or More Seemingly Unrelated Ideas

Movies provide a great example of the ability to connect two or more unrelated ideas. Juxtaposition, oxymorons, opposites – creative minds can make connections that others don’t see until somebody points out the relationship between two seemingly unrelated ideas.

How does this method work? Try this writing experiment. Look around you right now and choose one thing in your line of vision. Now close your eyes, turn your head to your right, and open your eyes. What do you see? How can you connect those two things? Now look straight ahead. What do you see, and how can you introduce that third subject into your piece? 

When I look around, I see snowfall. When I close my eyes and then look to my right, I find a beloved picture of a puppy celebrating a birthday with a cake and 2 candles. Coincidentally when I look ahead, I see a refrigerator magnet of a snowman. 

In this situation, the relationships seem obvious. My mind settles on the snowman magnet after viewing the snowfall. I had forgotten the magnet was on my refrigerator, but because I saw the snow, and I knew my mind was going to connect whatever I saw, my eye ignored all of the other magnets on the refrigerator and focused instead on the snowman. 

A dog playing in the snow isn’t a stretch of the imagination, but putting a white cake trimmed with gold and holding two candles into the picture takes a little thought, so I imagine a family of 5 climbing out of their car on a wintry day. The mom carries a birthday cake for their puppy who runs out of the doggy door to greet them. Mom trips and lands belly down on the snow. The dog leaps onto the birthday cake and attempts to devour it, but Dad rescues the cake.

But let’s go further with our creativity – let’s introduce a fourth element, current events. And here’s how my story played out.

Poochie stood by the doggie door when he heard his family’s car approach. After the final door was closed, he raced outside and tripped Mommy. A beautiful white cake trimmed with gold, perched with two candles, toppled out of Mommy’s hands and landed in the snow – upright. Still time for Poochie to devour it! Too late. Daddy swooped it up and brought it into the house where it somehow miraculously changed into a chocolate cake with blue icing. (I took liberties with the change of colors, because I can sometimes be dyslexic. The reference is, I'm sure you've heard, the current debate between the white and gold dress vs. the blue and black dress.)

Once you look for relationships between things you never noticed before, you’ll find them everywhere. They will sometimes seem absurd, but you may find humor in the absurd. Other times, those relationships will be so obvious, you’ll wonder why you never noticed them before.


So have fun! Ask questions! Use your imagination! Be adventurous! And allow yourself the luxury of examining your interests and exploring your skills to discover where your talents lie and where you can be most creative! 

Thank you for visiting!

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