Thursday, March 29, 2007

Make New Friends with Trackback

This is my cat Orangey. She has kept me company many hours while I compose blogs and she is an excellent tracker. Ask any mouse around. Oh, that's right, there aren't any.

Unlike Orangey, most of the time I do more backtracking than trackbacking.

Since I began blogging, I have added approximately 15 blogs to my favorites column. I check these blogs on a mostly daily basis.

On top of that I have added about 16 links to a variety of articles with helpful hints from experienced professionals on writing and blogging.

Within all those links there will invariably be more links to research and digest. Deeper and deeper I go. What’s a girl to do?

My brain freezes and I get overwhelmed. I wail “Iwillneverbeabletodothis!! Iwillneverbeabletodothis!!!!" Then I exhale a long and weary sigh.

There is one word that keeps popping up in regards to linking and blog posts. That is trackback. I Googled it but it confused me more than helping. Then I went to Liz Strauss at Successful Bloggers and read her post on “What New Friends Have You Met and How Have You Made Life Easy for Them?” which prompted me to get brave and ask the question "What the heck is a trackback?"

She not only answered me but also sent me links to access some tools. I’m so thankful to have found such a wonderful community of caring people.


Here are the Links Liz Strauss sent me. I am sure someone may have asked "Where are the links?" :)
Trackback Links here

Who uses trackback? What is a ping? I imagine I will, in time, become more familiar with blogging terminology, but until then I will take baby steps.

Write it down,

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

1,000 Posts and Still Counting

How awesome! Phil Gerbyshak just celebrated his 1,000th post on his Make it Great blog.

Congratulations Phil!!!
AND there is more. I was the 1,000th postee! Hooray!! To celebrate that honor, Phil is sending me the very FIRST second edition of his book 10 Ways to Make it Great! for FREE!
Hop over and visit Make It Great. You will have a lot of fun and get to see Phil's smiling face. Hear, hear to the next 1,000th post.
Phil is a real contest guru. Read about his contest Create some Buzz, win a book to win a copy of Ron McDaniels book Buzzoodle . I know the contest is over but this just shows Phil's dedication to helping others and making it fun.
Write it down,

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What's On Your Desk?

This is the shelf ABOVE my desk because the water bottle would not fit ON my desk.

Today over at The Golden Pencil, author, Anne Wayman wrote about how she worked better when her desk was tidy. This topic motivated me to analyze what I keep on my desk. It's probably safe to say that I won't be needing that spool of Christmas ribbon sitting on the corner.

I am moving my office out of the garage, and am a little obsessed (Yes, I've been promoted to the big house) with organizing files, moving supplies, assembling office furniture (which will be in a later post). I started a new business so I deserve a new office, besides, this way the kids can't move back in.

Anne commented that a tidy, organized desk contributes to her motivation to expand her writing business and is a win-win situation by any standards. This really resonated with me.

However, some people work better in confusion and clutter rather than neatness. What works best for you? I know I am calmer when everything in my office is put away and organized.

Write it down,


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Does Your Blog Sizzle?

The subject of writer’s block has been bantered around a lot and there is even debate as to whether it even exists. I am not going to say one way or the other but occasionally I need a jump start. Thanks to Anne Wayman at the Golden Pencil for listing those 101 Great Posting Ideas that will Make Your Blog Sizzle from Philip Liu who writes the I Help you Blog blog. With a list like that you are sure to have a great supply of jump starters.

Then a few days ago Liz Strauss invited Joe Hauckes over to speak at the SOBCon Virtual Conference March 12 Joe wrote about Why Navigation is Important to You and Your Readers.

This is just two examples of how much information and sharing are going on all over the blogsophere. I have something with a different twist. I am sure there are books lying around your desk right now. Pick one up and turn to…let’s say…page 123. Go to the third paragraph and read. What does it say? What is the name of the book and Author?

I just reached up and grabbed a book I’ve had for quite a few months. The name of the book is “Warlord, No better friend, No worse enemy". Author is Ilario Pantano (with Malcom McConnell). The third paragraph says:

“Then I pulled on the fully modified Kevlar vest, loaded with my ammo and gear. Heavy. It would be hard to run far wearing all this. Even with the insulated roof, the GP tent was hot and I was sweating from the effort. And this was only the end of March. What would July and August be like?”

Did your paragraph make you want to get back to reading or did it spur new ideas?

Write it down,

P.S. No fair to search for a favorite book. Just grab the first one you see.... I'm watching.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Go Underground With Shakerleg

Thanks to Liz Strauss at Successful Blogger and Director Thomas R. Clifford for this video of Shakerleg, the Underground Street Performer. This guy loves what he does. I sense a natural performer who shares his love of his craft. This is exactly what writers do as well. We share our thoughts and a part of our soul.

I am loving this blogging community I have fallen into.

What is it about the rhythmic sound of a drum that begins way down deep in your belly and transforms your entire soul as your body sways and gyrates in motion? Is it our primeval heritage? Listen to the drums. They tell the story.

The first time I witnessed a Cherokee Indian Rain Dance, I almost went into a trance. Not to mention I am proudly one-eighth Cherokee.

Anyway, enjoy the video. Personally, I want more of it. Thank you again Thomas R. Clifford and Liz Strauss.

Write it down,

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Four Legs And An Interview

I have learned that it is always wise to interview a potential client before you hire them. Anne Wayman over at The Golden Pencil commented on how to handle interviews with clients on March 19. I used Rocky's experience to demonstrate that this theory is good in all areas of our lives.

This is my dog Rocky. Legally his name is Rocky II and he is two years old. My husband and I adopted him from a rescue shelter when he was about four months old.

The shelter told us he was a cross between a Labrador Retriever and an Akita. I love the looks of an Akita and almost looked for one, but I settled for half of an Akita.

If you can see half of an Akita in that face then your eyes are better than mine. I must admit I have never had a Labrador Retriever either. Well, I have discovered that Rocky is neither one. There must have been a third party around when he was conceived.

As expected, Rocky immediately bonded with my husband and I and my toddler grandchildren. However, Rocky decided that his bonding duties ended with us. Rocky is afraid of people. It was evident that Rocky was in sore need of some type of training.

I interviewed a trainer from Bark Busters, a dog training franchise. The local franchise in our area advertised they employed an advanced training method which guaranteed the successful training of any breed of dog or they would give you a free session.

When the trainer arrived to demonstrate his advanced dog training method, I thought it was unusal that the trainer began to growl (explaining to me he was speaking Rocky's language). He threw a short piece of link chain on the floor near Rocky with a loud hacking, ack, ack, gutteral sound, akin to clearing your throat before you spit. I began to have second thoughts.

This interview wasn't going too well since Rocky had by that time retreated to his crate. After 30 minutes of coaxing and pleading, the trainer conceded that he and Rocky had obvioulsy got off on the wrong foot. Rocky had a definite advantage with four feet. The idea was for the trainer to leave the house and come back in to start all over.

The minute the trainer went out the door, I noticed his briefcase still sitting next to the chair directly in front of Rocky's crate. I was not the only one in the room who noticed this.

In comes the trainer. Rocky feels secure in his crate and the trainer feels secure in peering into the crate until the growl (Rocky's, not the trainer's). The trainer never did offer me a free training session. I guess he was too much in a hurry to leave.

I love Rocky and his four legs help keep me in shape when we walk to the park and I can feel confident that he will not try to attack anyone.

Is it your practice to interview potential clients? Or do you think they should interview you? I guess it works both ways.

(Disclaimer. I am sure Bark Busters is a fine business. It just was not a fit for me and Rocky)

Write it down,


Sunday, March 18, 2007

What's Your Motivation?

Today I was surfing blogs and I got sort of lost in the blogosphere where so much rich content is available to us. It is impossible, for me anyway, not to click on relevant links in a blog post. If there is any negativity associated with blogging this would be it, but there is nothing negative in helping other people as these links do.

For example Roger at Creative Think, made me think. (That’s a no brainer), but it is not that I thought-- it is that Roger accomplished his purpose which is to engage in a conversation with his readers. Roger invites us to read Tom Haskins post about Different Motivations for blogging. Tom sums up our motives in his concluding paragraph.

Different motives for blogging yield different impacts on the rest of us. Some blogs reflect a consistent motive while others change character often. There are some indications of bloggers evolving from base motivations to higher motives. These possible progressions lend to blogs making bigger and better differences in the world.

Next I go over to visit Suzanne Lieurance at The Lieurance Group where she reminds us of the wonderful world of information at our fingertips every day. For example if you are tired of using the old cliché and they are making your writing boring check out Cliché Finder or if you need a jump start when you are drawing a blank, go to 11 Rules of writing.

My next stop is at Design Your Writing Life, where Lisa Gates is inviting us to pass the SOAP and scratch each others back. Now, I thought blogging was a family affair. Well, we are a family filled with caring and helpful people and this is what I am finding on each and every blog I go to.

My perspective of blogging has undergone quite a change since I became a blogger, but I will reserve that observation for another day.

If you have watched enough Law and Order as I have, you would know that motive is usually considered a negative word. So let's use motive in a positive way this week. What is your motive for writing?

My motive is to express myself intelligently. Also, writing will give me the opportunity to think before I speak. Have you ever written in anger or even excitement and after the words simmer down a little you go back to read them but they don't have the same tone?

Write it down,

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hooray! So You Got Yourself a Harley

This is what I said to my husband when he came home on a brand new Harley Davidson Soft Tail. Up to this point in my life, my relationship with motorcycles was one of afar. I was not looking forward to climbing on the back of this 600 pound over exaggerated, motorized two-wheel scooter, which is capable of traveling at the rate of 100 mph or more. But safety precautions have been established and presumably it is safer to ride motorcycles than before.

Under the direction of our esteemed California law makers, it is mandated that all motorcycle riders and passengers wear a helmet in order to be protected from head injuries. The helmet law surpasses the absence of a seat belt law for motorcycle riders. This thought occurred to me one day, as the bike hit a pot hole and I rose 6 inches in the air while shrieking, I could fall off of this thing! My life span shortened dramatically.

The handle bars on a motorcycle serve a three-fold function, 1) the driver can guide the bike and 2) the driver can balance and hold on to the bike, 3) the driver can apply the brakes. While there are no such accessories for the passenger, (except to hold on to the driver, who at any given moment could be thrown over the handle bars) there is an optional add-on called the sissy bar. This piece of equipment is attached on the top of the back seat and is about 8 inches wide and 10 inches tall with a padded pouch that will fit just in the small of the passenger’s back, when leaned upon to give support to the passenger. Instead of flipping backwards into oncoming traffic, I guess it is better to flip sideways onto the side of the road.

This strengthens my case for seat belts on motorcycles. They strap down their packages and bed rolls, don't they?

It is not my purpose to take the fun out of riding motorcycles. Riding motorcycles can induce a sense of liberation, with the wind in your face and being outdoors in tune with nature, not to mention the camaraderie between bikers. When you ride a bike you are no longer a stranger. In a sense, riding a Harley is like writing on a blog. There are no strangers.

This action falls in line with risk taking. What kinds of risks are you willing to take for fun? As you get older do your risk taking days decline? Come on, live a little. But that’s the crux isn’t it?

Write it down,

Monday, March 12, 2007

Is Your Mortality Speaking?

Inspiration comes when you least expect it. It pops in on me like a surprise and a welcome guest. C. Hope Clark (Funds For Writers) posted on March 11 poignantly stating:

“For years we think we have forever. And we waste it. I don’t think I wasted too terribly much, but that doesn’t mean I need to start now or even slow down. I’m a writer…and no one can write the same words in the same way I can. If I take that with me undone, what have I accomplished?”

Recently I received a letter from my local gym. Congratulations! Your birthday qualifies you for our low senior citizen rates……...I don’t feel any different, then again, my wrinkles are doing more than just smiling back at me lately.

Once you reach the age of eligibility for the senior discount at the local Smorgasbord; as I have, these thoughts begin to plague you. I say it’s time to get busy. It’s crunch time. Don’t wait until you are handed the 10% discount card.

All of this means I need to write…I need to get busy. What about you? I know you are busy, but what kind of busy? We are all unique. Our writing is like a fingerprint. Grab your star while you have the ability.

Write it down,


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Spring Forward but Don't Step in the Pot Hole

A pot hole could be figuratively or literally. What are your pot holes? Have you joined a gym lately or have you begun an exercise routine? Why not? Maybe the following scenario will shed some light on that question.

You know you have seen her. Over there in the corner. The thin, trim, svelte gym-jogger with the sweat stained bathroom hand towel covering the entire treadmill monitor as she treks on with nary a bead of sweat on her botoxed brow.

Not to be intimidated you quickly find an empty treadmill far away from the corner. Eyes focused straight ahead, (you almost wish you had blinders on, the kind they put on horses who pull the carriages around the park) You begin to tread away next to someone who seems to be treading a zillion miles an hour faster than you. Slyly, (lifting up one corner of your blinders) you glance from the corner of your eye (You know what I am talking about ) hoping you are not caught looking. Aha! Just as you expected. The monitor shouts 4.0! The 15 minute mile. Yikes!

In a split second you check to see if anyone is glancing at your measly 3.0. In other words the 20 min mile. Suddenly you feel like a fraud, or worse, like a horse. I mean, who does a 20 min mile on the treadmill at a gym? Certainly not the buffed 30 something who is pounding the treadmill pavement to your left and certainly not the super fit senior citizen to your right who is hanging on for dear life with both hands on the railing. Did I see a 4.0? But there is good news. No one cares!

Can you surpass all this self-induced humiliation and do your exercise outdoors? Perhaps. The main point here is to do cardiovascular exercise. At least for the required 12 minutes to actually work up to your required heart rate; hold it for the requisite 12 minutes, then cool down for 12 minutes. Can you give yourself 36 minutes a day?

What does this have to do with writing? Everything. Exercise stimulates the brain and it is better than standing on your head to grab for those ideas.

Write it down, (or should I say upside down)


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Group Think

I think group think is dangerous. It takes all the fun out of being creative.

From the time a child is 5 years old until they turn, let's say, 11, their mind is like an explosive confetti factory. Ideas and thoughts are everywhere and non stop with all colors. Woe be unto the human who will try to squash this energy.

If you want to be fresh again, spend some time with a 5 or 6 year old and see the world through their eyes. Before it is too late for you or them.

Write it down,

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Writing is Risky Business

At least for me, writing is risky. When I begin to write, there are a whole slew of ideas and possibilities for what to write about. I have to know myself , my perspective and my purpose for writing and have to get a sense of where I belong. Also, I have to know what is important and be able to get the words all down in a format that will be coherent to others. How can I narrow this down? I risk my confidence.

To do this, I have to turn off that voice inside my head that says "you'll never get this right", and calm my anxieties. I risk my own rejection before I even touch the computer keys.

OK, now it's time to take that risk, reach for the keyboard or pen and put the words on paper. Once I get going, the words just flow and I begin to feel connected to that spark, muse, or motivation that resides within me. In fact it resides in all of us. Trust it. Trust yourself.

Write it down,


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Do You Cross Fertilize?

It has been said that writers write about what they know. This may be relevant in the beginning of a career but how many times can you write about your vacation to an exotic hideaway or your short stint as a body guard for some celebrity?

Research is key for any kind of writing and I know I am speaking to the choir on that subject, but I just needed to probe a little, so I picked up the book "A Whack on the side of The Head" by Roger von Oech.

Research doesn't have to be done in a library or online. People are one of the best suppliers of research around. For instance, some of the examples of Cross Fertilization given by von Oech are quite humorous and could be considered excellent ideas for some fiction stories. Let's send these people to lunch and see what they come up with:

1. A policeman and a librarian
2. A circus clown and an air traffic controller (now this one is hilarious, but no more than the next one)
3. A fool and a banker
4. A prostitute and a professional football player.

I'm thinking it may not be a bad idea for me to go get whacked upside the head once in a while.

Write it down


Monday, March 5, 2007

How Positive is Positive Thinking?

A friend of mine shared the movie The Secret with me and lately it has been a hot topic on a couple of blogs. Jennifer Louden had quite a discussion about it and brought up some interesting points. Does positive thinking allow any room for self doubt? Of course it does.

We, as a people, cannot be void of self doubt or indecision, but that does not mean we cannot think positively and be better off for it. To me movies like The Secret and books by people like Napoleon Hill can boost our morale and help us with low self-esteem.

In The Secret, a woman cured herself of cancer and a man became wealthy all because their mind thought it. However, I don't think it is that simple nor am I against the power of positive thinking because "thoughts can become things". It is just that movies like The Secret can cause false hope in some people who may not realize that along with the positive thinking comes hard work.

You guys, Nothing, I repeat, nothing takes the place of hard work. Now timing is another matter. It may take some writers a few years and many, many attempts to write and sell their work and then one person will come along and BAM, sell everything they put out fresh out of the gate. You all have heard the saying (loosely paraphrased) "Man, she can fall in S and come out smelling like a Rose"

I think all of us have used positive thinking and have practiced a little bit of "The Law of Attraction" principles and they may have worked because positive thoughts attract positive actions just as negative thoughts attract adverse reactions. So my advice is DO NOT give positive thinking up. I haven't been around the blog world too long but I can already see how positive this blogging world is. What a special group.

Write it down,

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Where did You Say that Road Lead?

Liz thanks for you thought provoking posts on March 4

When Liz Strauss posted her "Five Goals I Never, Ever Wanted to Pursue" on March 4, she really got my recall juices going. I guess I began to think about traveling roads, when I would sit in the front pew on Sunday morning and Preacher Dan with his bible open in one hand and his other hand raised in defiance would shout out "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

Right then and there I knew I would have to watch my step....literally. For years I dared not to set a goal or desire anything that seemed to rise above my then preceived lot in life. (Which I considered very low at the time) After all, if I could go to Hell for having good intentions, where then in heaven's name was I going to go for not having any intentions for my life. Hmmm?

I think I'll take a little time to revisit some of my roads that I have traveled and reevaluate.

Write it down,

Friday, March 2, 2007

Are You Doing Too Much?

As I was skimming a few blogs today I ran across Yvonne Perry of the Lieurance Group, where she talked about Too Much of A Good Thing. She pondered as to whether she was doing too much within her writing business and if she should step back some. Go on over and read what she has to say. You will be able to relate as I did.

Write it down,


Safeguard the Web for Chidren

Harmony at Writer in the Making, has tagged me for a worthy cause and I am happy to step up and join the fight for protecting our youth. I have entered a comment on the Blogger Power website.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

You Can Write, But Can You Speak?

You can write a great book but if you can’t talk about it in public, it will fail. There will come a time when communicating over email just ain’t gonna cut it.

Your book just made the New York Times Best Seller list. The Today Show has scheduled you for an interview. So far so good, huh? Just as the interviewer asks you that first question your tongue twists into knots and all that comes out of your mouth is something akin to the voice of Peanuts Cartoon Character Charlie Brown’s mother. 0ow—wau---ooo--uuhh—uhhhh—hmmm, shazzaam.

Just recently Neil Chethik, author of VoiceMale: What Men Really Think About Their Marriages, attributed his membership in Toastmasters to his success on the talk show circuit. “Unless I learned to speak in public, I would have never had a successful career as an author” he says.

I belong to a local chapter of Toastmasters and March 5, I am scheduled to give my “icebreaker” speech. This is a speech that will tell my fellow toastmasters a little bit about me. I say, what they don’t know won’t hurt them, but the idea is to learn to speak with confidence. Speaking is like writing, to get good at it you need to practice, practice, practice.

I am not a spokesperson for Toasmasters, but I think it would behoove anyone who has a tendency to clam up or get sweaty palms when talking to a group, to check out a local Toastmaster group. All meetings last only one hour and anytime you are around a group of people, this is a perfect time to get ideas for your writing projects and make contacts.

Write it down,