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.






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! 

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 has also stolen my work.

UPDATE 6: Today, March 17, 2015, I discovered another thief – 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 – 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: Again, ALL of these sites look similar – or exactly the same. Could they be the work of one person?

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.


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!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

How To Write How To Articles and How They May Be Your Roadmap to Writing Success!

Most writers know that the words, “How To,” generate a significant number of responses. Plug “How to” into Google and an astounding 8.6 billion results appear! Of everything I’ve written since I started writing online, the posts that get the most reads are the How To articles I’ve written.

So with so many How To articles already on the web, how can a writer compete? 

The short answer is to give your readers what they want. If you want to write How To articles, look at what YOU can contribute that’s different from anything else your readers can find. 

In 2012, when I bought a skein of Red Heart Boutique Sashay Yarn, I read the label for instructions on how to crochet with it. I’d never seen anything like that type of yarn before. The instructions, however, were intended for knitters. So I made up my own technique and I shared my instructions on my All Craft Connection blog. The title I chose was one I looked for in my own search, and it’s the title I gave my blog – How to Crochet with Red Heart Boutique Sashay Yarn. To date, that blog is my most successful All Craft Connection blog.

You don’t have to include the words, “How to” in your title, though. As long as you offer your readers something they need and as long as your title conveys a message that will fulfill their needs, your title can read something similar to this title I wrote, Has Your Work Been Stolen? Here’s What to Do! It’s a How To article without the How To words mentioned in the title. The most important thing to remember in creating How To articles is to include words that your readers will most likely search when they look for someone with your expertise.

Any time you design, create, or innovate something that you know others would appreciate learning, write a How To article and teach them what they want to learn. Time saving, money saving, or life saving techniques are all good examples of How To articles you can write if you can truly offer readers information they’re seeking that they haven’t already found elsewhere. 

Have you come up with a new exercise program that works wonders for your mind, body, and spirit? Think of what someone would enter into a search engine. For example, someone might write, “exercises for mind, body, and spirit.” Your title could read, How to Exercise Your Mind, Body, and Spirit or Exercises That Work Wonders for Your Mind, Body, and Spirit. Anybody looking for that type of information could come across your blog. 

As long as you reveal in your title exactly the information you are trying to convey in your article, and as long as you deliver on the promise you made in your title, you will have targeted your intended audience and you will reap some benefits – readers! 

Still unsure of what you can contribute to the How To world? Think about what you have to offer your readers. Look at your interests, hobbies, skills, and experience. Where, among all these things, are you most passionate? What have you learned that you think you can teach others? How are your methods different from anything else being taught?

Just recently I created a unique style of crochet. I had been thinking about implementing the thought I’d had for a couple of years, when one day, I decide to just try it. Without getting too technical, it involved creating a chain from a ball of yarn, rolling the chain into a new ball of yarn, and then using that chain to crochet a cowl. The effect turned out even better than I thought it would, so I came up with instructions for the new way to crochet and wrote, Chain Crochet – Crocheting With Chains – a Crochet Experiment.  

I didn’t stop there though. I also wrote a blurb on a different blog, my Crystal Butterfly Creations blog – Have You Tried Chain Crochet? I linked to the original article and thereby expanded my readership.

If you have more than one blog and your title fits with the subject matter in your other blog, link your blogs together. Also, if you think your post would generate any interest on Pinterest, Pin It!

To sum up – answer a question or fill a need, choose a title that others would type into a search engine, provide good quality writing with understandable instructions, and make your content unique. If you are writing something that YOU would have wanted to learn before you knew How To do it, you just might have written a winning post!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What's That Word I Want to Use?

Have you ever been stuck on a word? You know what you want to say or write, but you can’t quite get it to come out of your mouth or onto the page? Or maybe you come up with a word, and it sounds almost like the word you want, but it’s not quite right? 

For example, you want to write the word, revolution, but instead you write, evolution. You know that something doesn’t seem write – oops! – right, but you don’t know how to correct yourself. 

Another example – you want to make a reservation for Howl at the Moon, but when you call, what comes out of your mouth is, “Yes, I’d like to make an application – I mean, invitation…” and the person on the other end of the line suggests, “Do you mean reservation?”

Yes! Thank you!

What is happening, you ask yourself? Have the wires in your brain crossed over into some inexplicable portion devoted solely to nonsense? No. Not really. But you have become a victim – a victim of malapropism. 

Comedian Norm Crosby made a living with the malaprop. He is still known today as The Master of Malaprop. I’ll be giving my age away here, but I used to watch him on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Dean Martin Show back in the 60s. And, at the age of 87, Norm Crosby, the master of malaprop, is still making audiences laugh.

So what is a malaprop?

A malaprop is an unintentional (or in the case of Norm Crosby, intentional) word employed when the word you want to use sounds similar to the word you intended to use but doesn’t make sense in the context of your sentence or story.

Use of the malaprop can be quite entertaining, although when you’re trying to make a point, it can be extremely frustrating! Unintentional use of a word in any setting will cause uproarious laughter when the actual meaning of the word you accidentally used is ludicrous in context. Some very famous and some not very famous people have accidentally used malapropism in their speeches and in ordinary conversation. Using malapropism can be both embarrassing and hilarious. provides several examples of the malaprop. Here is just one from their list:

New Scientist, a magazine, reports one of its employees calling his colleague “a suppository (i.e. repository) of knowledge”.

And from Your Dictionary come these examples:

A rolling stone gathers no moths. (moss)

"The police are not here to create disorder, they're here to preserve disorder." - Richard Daley, former mayor of Chicago 

"It will take time to restore chaos and order." (former President George W. Bush)

"The law I sign today directs new funds... to the task of collecting vital intelligence... on weapons of mass production." (former President George W. Bush)

More examples of malapropism: 

To pronounce your words with a specific attention (intention), use the right infection (inflection). 

End your sentences with any of the following punctuation points – periods, question marks, or ejaculation (exclamation) marks. 

She doesn’t care. She’s so intensive (insensitive).

Does the malaprop have a cure? Well, if you are speaking and one pops out of your mouth, you probably won’t realize it until you see the reaction your words have on your intended audience. A simple apology will suffice and, if you have friends like mine, somebody will supply the correct word for you. 

If you’re writing, have somebody else read through your material. It also helps to have a thesaurus nearby if you feel your face scrunch into quizzical mode. I often know immediately when something I’ve written seems a little off. Having a thesaurus allows me to look up a word close to my intended word, and there among the suggestions is usually the word I want! 

Try to come up with your own malaprop and if you are too young to remember Norm Crosby, Ed Sullivan, or Dean Martin, I invite you to watch this YouTube video:

Graphic of Columbo by Prawny on


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