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Writer's Notes - By Jeanne Dininni

WritersNotes.Net: Helping Writers Follow Their Dreams Through Information, Inspiration, and Encouragement!

Writer's Notes - June 2007

Freelancing Journey, a blog which refers to itself as "The Road to Business Success for Writers & Bloggers," is literally loaded with info, tips, links, leads, techniques, advice, and other resources that can help you, the freelance writer, make the most of your own website or blog. Covering many different aspects of the freelance writer's creative, professional, practical, and even personal development, this site has something for everyone interested in any type of freelance writing.

One post, "Page Rank, Back Links and Blogging," posted June 22nd, 2007, explains why page rank is important and provides tips on how to obtain quality backlinks to your blog. Another, more recent post, titled "Definitive List of Paid to Blog Services," dated June 28th, 2007, links to a very comprehensive discussion of the subject found in a post on another helpful blog. In addition, Freelancing Journey's "Roll of Honour" includes a long list of links to other blogs about writing--and blogging--as well as numerous other writing resources, markets, and marketing blogs.

Freelance writers are busy people, whose time is often severely limited. But taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule today to pick up some timely tips and advantageous advice could just save you a great deal of time and trouble over the long term.

So, check out Freelancing Journey, and see if you don't agree that this blog contains some helpful literary and marketing signposts to guide you along your freelance writing travels.

Bon Voyage!

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I recently wrote a post about a good news site called HappyNews.Com; and today, I'd like to share another such site with my readers. Personally, I am of the opinion that there's far too little positive news in the world today, and I applaud such sites as these which make it their goal to spread the good news far and wide. Bravo, Gimundo! Bravissimo, HappyNews.Com!

Gimundo is a site that can spark a writer's imagination, filling it with noble notions and inspirational ideas for writing projects that can bring out the best in our readers, encouraging them to do what they can to help make the world a better place.

With categories such as Home, News, Heroes, Health, Celebrities, Green, Family, Pets, and Video, Gimundo captures the best news on many different topics, providing stories that are of interest to a wide variety of individuals.

In addition to the stories always posted to the site, Gimundo also offers a free daily newsletter filled with--you guessed it!--more good news. One of the site's founders also writes a weekly blog, "The Good Spin," in which he takes a look at the news and discusses its positive impact on society as a whole.

While Gimundo does offer its readers the opportunity to submit stories to the site, they do not offer payment for them. They also require that those people who desire to contribute their stories register to become members of the site in order to have access to all the site's community features.

I did, however, see an ad once, on one of the writers' job listing sites, asking for writers to contribute to Gimundo for pay. This may have been a one-time thing, or it could happen again in the future. So, if you're interested in this type of writing, keep your eye on the job listing sites, in case this site advertises there again.

(You may also want to check out HappyNews.Com, which also accepts positive news stories from writers, or citizen journalists, offering each contributor a tip jar, whereby readers can make donations to writers whose stories they enjoy.)

Check out Gimundo. It's a great site! You might just get inspired--if not about writing, then maybe about life!

Happy reading!

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While the first week of my two-week training for my new job as a clinician for Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes is proving to be pretty intense--and tiring!--I wanted to touch bases with my readers and give you another helpful link. This post will be short and sweet; but my hope is that you'll get a great deal of good from visiting this site and checking out the resources it has to offer.

WOW! Women On Writing is an e-zine aimed at women on all points of the writing-publishing spectrum. It's packed with articles, information, advice, and links, and its aim is "promoting the communication between women writers, authors, editors, agents, publishers, and readers."

Female freelancers and others whose goals may vary widely, yet whose main focus is the written word, can find a great deal of interest at this site--which appears to be a supportive network of female writing and publishing professionals. Check it out!

Happy Reading!

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I thought I'd post a link to the Science Fiction Writers of America's Writer Beware website, which describes the info presented there as "Warnings About Literary Fraud and Other Schemes, Scams, and Pitfalls That Target Writers."

In its article about Contests and Vanity Anthologies, SFWA cautions writers to carefully evaluate any such so-called opportunities and provides the specific guidelines that writers will need to do just that. There's a good deal of information here, including quite a few links to other helpful resources which also address this and other related issues.

There are links to such info as the following:

~How to increase your chances of winning once you've found a legitimate contest and decided to enter your work

~Personal stories of individuals who have been taken advantage of by some of these unscrupulous contests/groups

~Submitting and selling your work for legitimate publication

You may just find some info here that will save you a lot of grief--not to mention money!

So, why not check it out!

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Words: The Tools of Our Trade

We writers have an almost endless array of words from which to choose in crafting our written works. And, for the most part, we have an amazing degree of latitude in our choice of which of the terms from our (hopefully) wide vocabulary we will use in any given piece.

The problem lies in the inability of many to distinguish between those words in our immense communal bag of literary tricks which bear removing and using often and those which should be seldom used and would, in fact, very likely best be left sitting in the bottom of the bag, conveniently forgotten and undisturbed.

Write With Precision!

There are so many wonderful words which brilliantly advance our themes, expressing our thoughts with precision, painting pleasing (or at least appropriate) literary pictures in our readers' minds, beautifully clarifying our topics, and effectively allowing those who approach our works to grasp the thread of our argument, the gist of our explanation, or the heart of our story--and which do so without unduly and unnecessarily distracting the reader from our topic and forcing him or her to focus, instead, on our annoying word choice.

Don't Sacrifice Your Credibility

One term which I, personally, find extremely distracting and the use of which, in any kind of serious writing, in my view, immensely detracts from a writer's credibility--one of my literary pet peeves, in fact--is the word "sucks" when it is used in its slang form, to mean "is terrible or inferior." I would even venture to say that this use of the word in any type of serious writing and/or in any professional context is itself terrible and inferior--at least to me. (And, no, I won't use the term itself to describe its use.)

Writing Requires Craftsmanship!

I must be honest in saying that, as a writer who takes my craft very seriously--and as a reader who takes my avocation every bit as seriously--whenever I encounter this use of the word in a written work which is non-casual and is intended to be taken seriously from either a literary or a professional standpoint, my critical assessment of the writer (or at least of the writer's craftsmanship/good judgment) instantly drops a few notches.

Don't Drive Your Readers Away!

In fact, to be totally honest, it would take nothing short of a literary miracle to keep me reading beyond that point in a formal, official, literary, or professional piece. (Aside from excessive or extremely vulgar profanity, the use of this irritating term in a professionally written piece is one of the quickest ways for an author to lose this reader in mid-sentence, sending me on my merry way to look for greener literary pastures.)

Write With Purpose, Write On Purpose

I realize that today's younger adults have grown up hearing--and using--this term and it has become almost second nature to many of them. I realize, too, that, as the saying goes, "Old habits die hard." But, if you take away anything at all from this post, let it be this: To write effectively, you must not only write with purpose, you must also write on purpose. If you would truly communicate with your reader and capture his or her attention and interest--and hold it--you must choose your words carefully, targeting them to your audience, your topic, and your venue, and cutting out any terminology which has the potential to alienate your audience and thereby defeat your literary objective.

Is Alienation Your Intention?

(Of course, for some of you, your objective might actually be to alienate your audience--or a portion of it--in which case I would only say that this word should suit your purpose nicely. But this type of writing would not generally tend to fall under the purview of serious literary or professional writing, which is the kind we are discussing.)

So, please think twice about the terms you use in your writing--for your reader's sake--as well as your own! Don't give your reader a reason to stop reading and seek more suitable or appropriate content elsewhere.

Slang: When In Doubt, Leave it Out!

Slang can often be used very effectively; but only if it is used with discretion, if it is not overused, and if the slang terms chosen do not irritate, or lower your credibility with your reader, causing him or her to lose respect for you either as a communicator or as an authority on your subject--or worse yet, both.

Where slang is concerned, the recommended rule of thumb is, When in doubt, leave it out! It simply isn't worth the risk. Alienating your audience over such an unnecessary and easily correctible problem, would be very unwise. After all, it can be hard enough to hold our readers' attention even without throwing such literary stumbling blocks into their path. So, why would we ever want to do that?

May you always write effectively!

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Thought I'd follow my "tradition," started this Mother's Day when I posted some links for writing moms and...well...since it's Father's Day, thought I'd give dads equal status and post some links for writing dads.

Here they are, in no particular order:

The Writing Dad

The Mark Lawrence Blog

Adventure Dad

The BlogFathers: Dads You Can't Refuse

Where Boys Fear to Tread

Child's Play x2


Not for Profit Dad

Relaxed Parents


Daddy Types

How to Be a Good Father

This Next Blog

Best Father's Day Quotes

Father's Day: Thoughts to Inspire All Men

Working Fathers' Quest for Balance

Hope all you writing--or reading--dads will find something interesting, amusing, helpful, or fun here to help round out your Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all dads everywhere!

Till next time,

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Back in March, I penned a post called, A Salute to My Fellow Writers--With Links! One of the links I included in that post pointed to the Funds For Writers website, which I felt at the time--and still feel today--to be a very valuable resource for writers.

One of my blogging buddies has confirmed my belief in the significance of Funds for Writers in the freelance writing marketplace by including an article containing some info about the site in a recent post. So I felt this would be the perfect time to write a post centered solely around the site and what it has to offer the aspiring, developing, or practicing writer.

(For more info about Yvonne Russell's Freelance Writing Rates post, mentioned in the previous paragraph, see my June 14th post, entitled, Buzz from the BlogVine: WritersWeekly Raising Rates--or go directly to her post by using the recent post link, above.)

Funds for Writers, generously presented to you by Hope Clark, offers multiple resources that can help writers in a number of different ways. Some of the site's highlights:

-A list of grants for writers

-A list of writing contests (containing competitions both with and without entry fees)

-A (limited) list of writing markets, with more offered in the site's free newsletters

-Several free newsletters

-An annual writing contest

-A list of other beneficial links (including organizations that can help writers in various ways)

-Lists of books and e-books for reference and/or study

-Publication of--and payment for--your articles about the craft or business of writing

Check out the Funds for Writers site! You'll find a great deal there that can help you reach your writing goals!

Happy Reading!

PS. For your convenience, should you later return to my blog and desire to access the site, a link to Funds for Writers can always be found in my Helpful Sites for Writers list, located in the sidebar on the left side of this web page.

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I learned, a few days ago, from reading my friend Yvonne Russell's Grow Your Writing Business blog, that WritersWeekly.Com is raising the rates it pays writers for their work. According to an article, written by Angela Hoy and reproduced in its entirety (with permission) by Yvonne, WritersWeekly is raising its rates 20% for features and 33% for success stories. This is great news for freelancers!

According to Ms. Hoy's article, the 20% increase for feature articles figures to "$60 for around 600 words for non-exclusive electronic rights only," and she adds, "For freelance success stories, we now pay $40 for around 300 words."

Her article is exceptionally interesting reading for freelancers, as it also contains an explanation of the payment history of several other major online publishers of freelance material, as well as several print publishers, giving us a glimpse into their going rates, and letting us know just how long it's been since each has raised its own rates.

Check out this great article on Yvonne's site! You'll find it in her post, entitled, Freelance Writing Rates. The article, entitled, We're Raising Our Freelance Rates, by Angela Hoy, is also posted on the WritersWeekly website.

Thanks, Yvonne for this fascinating and thoroughly helpful info! We can only hope that all the other publishers of freelance material will follow WritersWeekly.Com's shining example of adopting fairer freelance payment rates and thereby engaging in more responsible business practices!

Happy writing!

P.S. You'll want to visit Yvonne's blog often! Through it, she provides lots of great info and many helpful resources for writers! For your convenience, a link to Grow Your Writing Business can always be found in my blog's sidebar in the Helpful Sites for Writers list.

You'll also want to visit WritersWeekly.Com. Their site is packed with articles, market listings, and other resources that will help you reach your writing goals!

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Here's a short article I've written about poetry. Hope you enjoy it!

Poetry can be somewhat elusive, and therefore, difficult to define. Yet, throughout the centuries, mankind has unceasingly attempted to capture, through the written or spoken word, the essence of verse.

Simonides defined poetry as "speaking painting," vividly illustrating one important aspect of the art. Poe called it "the rhythmical creation of beauty," aptly describing yet another of its facets. Coleridge dubbed it "the communication of pleasure," highlighting still another subtle difference in its manifestation. Carlyle called it "musical Thought," bringing to mind a slightly different picture of its attributes. Painting it with a somewhat broader brush, Shelley referred to it as "the expression of the imagination," pointing out a characteristic that all poetry undoubtedly shares, albeit a general one.

More recently, Judson Jerome has called poetry "order threatening to become chaos," which is perhaps an appropriate description of poetry in some of its more modern experimental and avant garde forms--or possibly simply an expression of the potentially explosive energies inherent in each carefully measured and intricately crafted line.

Wordsworth has said that "poetry is, like love, a passion," highlighting its emotional aspect, which is the golden cord that ties poetry of every type together. Perhaps he expressed it better still when he stated that "all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings...(in) a man who (has) thought long and deeply..."--combining, as he does, the concepts of feeling and thought.

To be sure, neither Wordsworth's nor any of the other great poets' definitions make any reference to poetic "form"--which can be as diverse, from one poem to the next, as each poet's individual life experiences are. And this diversity of form, perhaps more so than any other element, makes a complete, one-size-fits-all definition of poetry impossible. Yet this is precisely what makes poetry the rich reservoir of self-expression that it is.

As intriguing as all the above definitions may be, and as much as we may enjoy exploring the various aspects of the art by attempting to put them into words, we do so knowing that every definition we conceive must fall short in one way or another. But the good news is that we needn't be able to fully define poetry to recognize it--or to enjoy it! We simply sense it when we are in the presence of poetry--at least good poetry. We feel its power, or its sweetness, its simplicity or its grandeur. And it is an encounter that affects us in ways we'll never be able to fully describe--much less understand.

In short, whether or not we can define poetry, describe or even understand it, we nevertheless go away from it knowing that we have come face to face with its magic; and instinct tells us that, as a result of that fortuitous meeting, we will never be quite the same again.

Happy writing!

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You'll notice that I've drastically altered the appearance of my blog--and I have to admit, it is not a format I am particularly fond of, aesthetically. But, if you'll pull up a chair and give me a few minutes of your time, I will explain the reasons behind the change. Perhaps you will agree with them, and perhaps you will not. If you don't agree, I'm sorry, and I respect your right to your opinion; but I can only say that I must follow my own conscience in the matter. If you do agree, I'm happy that you and I have something in common.

Read on and I'll tell you why I felt I had no choice but to change to a blog format that I don't particularly like:

The current format, which I've chosen over the one I used previously, is one which moves the Popular Orble Posts and Breaking Orble Posts lists to the (less-noticeable) bottom portion of the left sidebar--as opposed to their previous highly prominent location at the top of the right sidebar. Many of you will be able to understand why I did so. But for those who haven't a clue, I will tell you: I am sick to death of reading profane, obscene, crude, and/or sexually suggestive titles in the sidebar immediately adjacent to my own blog posts.

I do my best to provide clean, wholesome, informative, professional, and edifying content for my readers--content which is G-rated and family-friendly--and I am thwarted at every turn by the works of other Orble bloggers who choose to do otherwise. As a Christian, I am offended by these titles (though not necessarily by their writers)--and particularly by their appearing beside my own posts. And I believe that many of my readers feel the same way that I do. I feel that, by changing to my blog's current format, fewer people who visit my blog will be forcibly exposed to the offensive post titles, since they have been relegated to a position very far down on my blog's web page. (It is, of course, true that, when one scrolls down far enough on my blog's page, these titles are visible, and for that, I apologize; but there are, unfortunately, limits to what I can do about the matter.)

I want to be very clear here, however, in stating that I have absolutely nothing personal against the individuals who write these titles; and my feeling is that, if Orble chooses to allow them to write such content, under the controversial "freedom-of-speech" covering, the questionable content should be restricted to the inside of their blog posts, where the "Mature Content" flag can actually do some good and where every reader can choose whether or not to read the posts in question.

To my way of thinking, such potentially offensive material should be entirely forbidden in post titles, which are visible to everyone who visits the Orble site--which, I might point out, could include children. In this way, these bloggers would have the freedom to write whatever they liked within their actual blog posts, those who wanted to read those posts would have the freedom to do so, and the rest of us would have the freedom not to be accosted by material we find offensive. This seems, to me, a very fair compromise, as both sides would be giving up a little so that each could still retain a great deal of what they desire from blogging at Orble. After all, it is totally unfair that one group should be expected to make all the concessions so that the other can do whatever it pleases (i.e., indulge its baser instincts in a widely viewed public forum), regardless of what anyone else thinks. (Note: there is a reason--and a very good one--why pornographic materials have traditionally been shipped in plain brown wrappers!)

Aside from the offensiveness issue, I truly feel that, while profane or obscene material may well reflect the viewpoints of its writers--which they are 100% entitled to--in my view, it has little artistic value and totally lacks the class that I, personally, enjoy seeing in the material I choose to read. Suffice it to say that the writing which endures over the long term is generally not of this type.

And I would add that some of the bloggers who post such content are exceptionally good writers, whose work I would so much enjoy reading if it were not focused in the direction that they've chosen to pursue. While I will not go so far as to say that they are wasting their talent, I will say that they are cutting their work off from an entire segment of the reading public, including many very thoughtful and intelligent individuals, who are appreciative, gracious, and generous with praise for writing that they enjoy.

Besides all of the above, a little enforced subtlety in post titles would provide a wonderful creative exercise that would stretch the blogger's imagination, encouraging new, better, more interesting and artistic ways of expressing ideas. It takes zero talent to use profanity in place of other, more exact and more meaningful adjectives, verbs, or nouns--in both writing and speaking--and I am confident that, if these writers would just take the time to give it a little more thought, they could come up with descriptive words and phrases that are vastly superior to the profanity they are currently using (that is, if they should choose to).

I am certain that many will disagree with me on this subject, and, while I don't mean to be self-righteous about it, I am adamant regarding the issue. To be perfectly candid, I am seeking every possible alternative to leaving the Orble community and truly hoping I won't be forced to do so. I strongly believe that Orble needs to become a place where all bloggers have the opportunity to enjoy the blogging experience. While crude, vulgar, obscene, and sensationalistic titles undoubtedly attract more readers--thus becoming more popular than your basic, responsible, mainstream ones--this is not a sufficient reason for allowing them. Doing so is like encouraging a naughty, mischievous child to continue "acting out" because he (or she) receives more attention when doing so.

Therefore, dear Reader, my blog posts, at least, will no longer continue unintentially featuring offensive Orble content. I apologize that, due to the nature of the Orble blog template, I am unable to remove this content entirely, but I promise to do my best to make it as low-key, unobtrusive, and well-hidden as possible.

Another area I will soon be addressing where my own blog is concerned is Comments. Due to the nature of some of the comments my blog has been receiving--from Orble bloggers that I would love to hear from otherwise, since I feel that they have so much of value to say--I am convinced that it will soon be necessary for me to take the situation in hand by beginning to preview comments before they can appear on my blog (which I've been trying to avoid) and disallowing those that contain profanity, crudity, and or sexually suggestive language or subject matter.

I have been hesitant to delete any of my blog's comments, up to now, so as not to insult anyone; but, as I say, I am attempting to provide a family-friendly blog, and this is impossible when the comments my posts receive contain such material. Therefore, I may have little choice but to do a little comment-deleting soon. I truly wish I didn't have to do this--and I wouldn't if those who have left the comments in question would return to my blog and modify them. This way the main point of each individual's comment would, in most cases, be able to be retained. If those who have added such comments to my blog posts would be so kind as to replace the obscenities with asterisks or any other combination of non-provocative symbols and tone down their comments by using less-crude or suggestive language to express their thoughts, I would greatly appreciate it and would be very happy to be able to retain their comments.

I have nothing but good will toward everyone who has seen fit to comment on my blog posts, and I greatly appreciate their taking the time to share their thoughts with me. So, please do not misunderstand: This post, and all that I have said in it, comes totally from my own convictions about the matter of profanity, obscenity, and the like; and it is in no way meant to imply that I do not respect the individuals who see fit to express their opinions in ways that I find personally offensive.

Perhaps, one might think of my blog as one's grandmother's house (though I do realize that all grandmothers are different). If you wouldn't say it in front of your proper, staid, and prudish grandmother--or perhaps better, still, your own mother--then, please, don't say it on my blog. You are welcome back for a visit anytime, and I would love to carry on a conversation with you when you visit--as long as you can respect the rules of my "home".

There, you have it, folks. You now know why I have been forced to change to a blog template I don't really like. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have to do that--but alas, this is the real world and we have to deal with the way things are rather than the way we would like them to be. Though, if we can change them for the better in some small way, I say, "Go for it!"

Thanks for reading!

NOTE: I have, since this post was written, changed my blog back to its previous format for a number of reasons. The design was very cumbersome and difficult to navigate. Visually, its asymmetrical appearance was very unbalanced and hence quite aesthetically displeasing. And, finally, the atmosphere at Orble seems to have mellowed somewhat of late--possibly because Orble is enforcing the use of the "Mature Content" tag--and I have not found anything too offensive in the Orble sidebar lately.

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Do you love to write? Do you also have a passion for a specific subject, one about which you could happily write away for hours and hours and hardly even notice time passing? Or do you have specialized knowledge, expertise, or maybe even credentials, in a specific area or field, as a result of in-depth study or years of experience in a particular line of work? Do you possibly even have more than one area of interest and/or expertise?

If you’ve answered yes to the first question and at least one of the other three, you may just be a natural born “blogger.”

What is a “blogger”? The simple answer is “A blogger is one who writes a blog.” Now, I realize that this definition may not really answer the question for those who don’t know what a “blog” is; so, just in case you may be in this category, let me explain.

The word “blog” is a shortened form of the term “weblog,” which is a personal online journal, or group of regularly updated entries, called “posts,” centered around a particular topic or general subject area.

There are many different types of blogs—as many different types, in fact, as there are different types of writers and different reader needs. Blog types range from an individual’s simple personal musings about a subject, which are much like a diary or personal journal, to a recognized expert’s sharing of knowledge on a particular topic, which can help the blog’s readers effectively deal with specific issues in their own lives.

From inspiration and support for those who are interested in a particular subject or belong to a specific demographic group, to technical or other how-to information for those who need specific knowledge to help them succeed in a certain area of endeavor, a blog can be a simple and convenient way to get the desired information out there before your “public.”

A fairly recent addition to the blogging scene is the company blog, where businesses post news, policy updates, and other company-specific information, as well as industry trends that would interest or benefit their employees and/or customers and help publicize and promote their product or service.

Blogs can be hosted—generally for free—on any one of a number of different blog hosting sites (easily found by doing a Google search), or they may be placed on their own domains, with their own unique IP addresses, in which case the blogger would generally need to purchase a domain name and pay a web hosting fee. (There are, however, some blog hosting sites, such as Orble, that will offer a free domain blog, after a certain period of successful blogging, to those bloggers who they feel will be able to make the grade over the long haul. In these cases, the blog remains part of the hosting site’s blogging community, though hosted on its own domain, which generally brings more search engine traffic to the blog.)

It should be mentioned here, that, in order for your blog to enjoy any degree of long-term popularity and thus develop an appreciably large readership, it must be updated regularly. A minimum of 3-5 posts per week are almost mandatory to keep people coming back.

Blogging is an up-and-coming trend that shows no sign of declining in popularity any time in the near future. So, if you haven’t done so already, why not consider starting a blog of your own? Everything you’ll need to know to enter the exciting world of blogging can be learned via a simple Google search.

So, why not hop on the blogging bandwagon! I think you’ll enjoy the ride!

Happy blogging!

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There are several reasons why I engage in the fine art of blogging. The first, I suspect, is one I share with most other bloggers: I love to write. I relish the process of taking a thought — formless, intangible, invisible, and abstract — and, through the magic of the writer’s art, transforming that ethereal entity into present visual reality, perceptible to both eye and mind. I simply adore creating a polished stream of prose — vibrant … flowing … elegant … pointed … potent. I delight in watching the words, sentences, and paragraphs gradually, magically fill the page and imagining the ways in which they will affect the hearts and minds and lives of those who read them.

Blogging fulfills these intellectual cravings by giving me the opportunity to luxuriate in my love for the written word while nurturing my need for self-expression. And though blogging as an art can at times seem somewhat less refined than other prose forms, it needn’t be. Yet, refinement isn’t really the point. Whatever style a given blogger chooses — whether formal, polished, graceful, and elaborate, or casual, utilitarian, straightforward, and unadorned — that individual, through sharing a bit of his or her personal knowledge, experience, insight, and expertise — of his or her inner self — is nonetheless capable of eliciting from the reader an emotional response, of creating an inner connection … an almost-magical rapport. And that is part of the magnetic appeal of blogging…

… Which brings me to the second reason why I blog …

I blog because I love people! People are what life is all about! Relationships are everything! Connecting with others in good, positive, mutually satisfying ways is truly one of life’s most rewarding experiences! Blogging gives me the amazing opportunity — unheard of before the advent of the internet — to interact daily with a wide variety of wonderful, witty, fascinating, and friendly people that I could never meet any other way!

The individuals we meet through blogging are truly a gift — providing insight, inspiration, encouragement, and appreciation for our literary efforts on their behalf and urging us forward in our desire to let the best parts of ourselves shine through in our writing! (Of course, there are those who are otherwise; yet, happily, they are in the minority.)

Through their comments, our blogs’ readers provide much-needed and much-appreciated feedback in the form of reassuring moral support or stimulating intellectual challenge. They offer valuable opinions and previously unconsidered viewpoints to freshen our outlook and help shape our future approach to a topic or to writing in general — all of which are invaluable to us in the development of our craft! By maintaining open, honest, yet good-natured communication with our readers — and our fellow bloggers — we discover that the shared connections thus forged invigorate our writing, breathing new life into our prose and further fueling our inner drive to speak into the lives of those for whom we write.

My third reason for blogging is related to my second: I blog because I love to share. Giving of oneself to others carries its own unique and often unexpected reward. It far surpasses any return that might result from simply sitting back and taking — though there are, of course, times when this, too, has its place. It was once said, by the One who understood and lived the principle far better than anyone else ever has, that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” This is a principle I continually strive to practice in ever-increasing measure in my own life. And blogging just happens to provide one perfect opportunity to do so!

I do this by sharing information I’ve gathered, lessons I’ve learned, markets I’ve found, links I’ve run across, and tips I’ve picked up through my own experience—in general, anything that might make another writer’s life a little easier, smoother, happier, more productive, or more successful. This is one reason my blog’s outgoing links outnumber its incoming links by a fairly wide margin. I’m quite generous when it comes to giving recommendations for the websites, blogs, and writings of others, never requiring a reciprocal link to my site in exchange for providing one for another writer’s site — though always happily accepting reciprocal links when they come my way! I’m a firm believer that any gift I’ve been given was meant to be shared and not simply hoarded for myself — no matter what the search engine algorithms may say.

The final reason I blog is that I love to help. At first glance, this reason might appear identical to my third reason; but, while sharing and helping are similar and there is certainly some overlap between them, I would submit that there is a distinction. Sharing implies the generous distribution of something of value to others; and while this can certainly be one aspect of helping, helping can consist of so much more. Helping is actively working to meet a need in whatever way may be necessary. We might think of sharing as giving to meet a need and helping as working to meet a need.

Anything I can do to help my blog’s readers is something I’ll consider — and I will often go out of my way for a reader. Yet, I feel that this is the least I can do for someone who chooses to read my blog over all the thousands of other blogs they might read instead. After all, I’d want another writer to do the same for me — and this is a second principle gleaned through the wisdom of the One whose life I seek to emulate, who said, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This doesn’t mean that I expect anything in return for my efforts, but simply that I treat my readers the same way I’d want to be treated.

So, even though blogging has brought me zero monetary returns and requires a great deal of time, concentration, energy, and effort; these factors are inconsequential when compared to the other rewards it offers — because those are the rewards that money can’t buy.

Why do you blog?

Note: This post was written in response to an open invitation to other bloggers, by Diogenes, at Quasi Fictional, to share our thoughts and views on the "Fine Art of Blogging." To learn more about the project--or to become involved in it--you may use the above link to Dio's blog.

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Whether or not you are extremely SEO savvy--or have any particular interest in Search Engine Optimization per se--it would probably behoove you to pay a bit of attention to the frequency with which certain words or phrases (known in SEO lingo as keywords or keyword phrases) appear in your online writing. Why? Because keyword density (or the frequency with which specific topically targeted words and phrases appear in a piece) is one very important factor used by search engines to determine page rank.

If you've written a witty, winning, and wonderful article or blog post, and its keyword infrequency puts it on page 45 of the search results, chances are good that very few people will have either the patience to locate it or the good fortune to actually read it--including those people who are searching for that topic!

Luckily, there are many websites that can not only explain SEO to the technically challenged among us, but also provide us with SEO tools that can greatly simplify our task of making our writing more keyword-friendly.

As a general rule, your main keyword or keyword phrase should (according to those in the know about such things) appear anywhere from 3% to about 8% of the time (give or take a percentage point or so). Anything over 10% is usually considered excessive and can cause your piece to be penalized by the search engines for "keyword stuffing."

One great place to begin your quest for SEO sophistication is to use the Keyword Density Tool at 123 Promotion to see where your piece falls on the keyword density spectrum. This can be done either before or after publishing on the Net and is done by simply copying and pasting your piece into the text box on the screen and inputting the keywords you want to determine the frequency of into the appropriate boxes. The tool then calculates the percentage of the piece that each keyword or keyword phrase represents. You can search for three keywords or keyword phrases at a time with this tool; and if you'd like to search for others afterward, you may simply delete the previous words and replace them with new words for a convenient recalculation.

This is a great way to prep your article or blog post for publication, if you'd like to be sure that it contains enough keywords before posting it online. If it's already appearing online, this is still a great way to check on keyword density so you'll know whether or not to add more instances of your most important keywords to your piece.

For work already published on the internet, however, there are other SEO tools available on various different websites that can make your task even easier and provide more comprehensive keyword and keyword phrase analysis. On these sites, you may simply enter the URL of your piece, and the SEO tool will generate a list of nearly every conceivable word or group of words that might qualify as keywords or keyword phrases, along with the percentage of frequency of each. (Some even allow you to enter the URLs of two sites whose keyword frequency you'd like to compare.)

Bear in mind, though, that the tools that allow you to enter the site's URL will generally calculate keyword density on the entire web page (though some offer options to exclude certain info). So, if, for example, you're calculating keyword frequency on your blog, all info included in your sidebar and elsewhere on the page will generally be included in the results, which might not give you an accurate reading of keyword density within your blog post; whereas with the first-mentioned keyword analysis site listed above, only the text you paste into the box will be analyzed for keyword density, thus enabling you to restrict the analysis to the blog post alone.

Each of the following sites has various highlights in the exact services it offers; therefore, checking them all out will help you determine which one will best meet your specific needs or whether, perhaps, different ones will suit your purposes better for different projects or at different times. These sites also offer a wealth of information on Search Engine Optimization; so don't neglect to do a bit of reading while you're there--particularly if you're somewhat less than SEO savvy.

The following sites are some of the most visible ones on the internet. No doubt there are others; but, I have the feeling that you'll be able to learn most of what you'll need to know and do most--if not all--of the keyword analysis you'll need to do by visiting one or more of these sites:

The SEO Tool Set

LinkVendor Professional SEO Tools

Mike's Marketing Tools

Keyword Density - The Analyzer

On the Worldwide Web today, keyword density is everything! Checking out--and using--some of these convenient online SEO tools can help put your work, your blog, or your website on the seach engine map!

Happy analyzing!

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Are you tired of reading--or writing--bad news? Ready for something positive, uplifting, and edifying for a change? Feel like looking on the bright side? Want to walk on the "sunny side of the street"? Look no further: HappyNews.Com is a place you'll want to visit.

HappyNews.Com is a website where you'll read stories of optimism, kindness, heroism, people helping (instead of harming) people, and myriad other positive things happening around the globe. And one of the best things about this site from the writer's viewpoint is that they are seeking "Citizen Journalists" to "write about news important to their communities."

This is a great opportunity--particularly for those who may be interested in entering the field of journalism--to build a journalism portfolio, gain experience hunting down a story, perfect their interviewing and writing techniques, and meet those fascinating people who are on the front lines of the latest-breaking good news.

While the folks at Happy News don't pay up front for the stories they publish, they offer each freelance Citizen Journalist a tip jar and link to their website on each article posted to the site. This gives readers the opportunity to support the writer's contribution to the good news appearing on the site. (All tip jar payments are automatically transferred into the writer's PayPal account.) Every contributor receives a byline, as well as all the insider hints, tips, and advice they'll need to become a savvy, ethical, credible, competent, and libel-free news journalist.

This link will take you to the HappyNews.Com Submissions Page.

If you have any interest at all in either journalism or good news--or better still, both--check out HappyNews.Com!

Happy reading!

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I'm very excited to announce that my poem, Ashes, was one of this week's Featured Poem Award winners at Creative-Poems.Com! This award is given to as many as ten poems per week (five rhyming and five non-rhyming) which have been entered into the competition by their creators (who are also Creative Poems members).

I'm not certain how many winners there were in this week's competition, though only six are listed in the site's sidebar. (Not sure if that's because of space constraints or because there were only six winners--though I suspect that there likely were more than six, because the last time one of my poems won this award, it wasn't listed in the sidebar.)

Either way, it's an honor to win such an award from a website as credible as Creative-Poems.Com--a site that specializes in poetry and tends to have a fairly significant number of entries each week (though I'm not sure exactly how many there actually were this week.) I have no intention, however, of "looking a gift horse in the mouth," as the old adage warns, and therefore, most graciously and humbly accept my award with great gratitude to those contest judges who thought my work worthy of recognition.

Many thanks, Creative-Poems, for the personal satisfaction of receiving this award in recognition of all the hard work involved in crafting my poem into the dark, but hopefully insightful depiction of a life without purpose or meaning.

If you would like to read my winning entry in this week's Featured Poem Competition, it may be found at the following link: Ashes.

This is actually the third Featured Poem Award I have won at Creative-Poems.Com since January, 2007. (I won in January, for my poem, Childhood Voices* and in April, for The Tempest.)

In January, 2007, I also won the Special Poetry Contest (one of only two winners of this periodic competition, the theme of which was Changes) for my free verse poem, Pennies.

I must say it's been very rewarding to have my poetic creations recognized by the folks at Creative-Poems.Com! If you, too, dabble in poetry, I would highly recommend that you check out this site as an outlet for your poetic talent. Not only will you have a wonderful forum for showcasing your work to an appreciative group of readers, but you, too, will be able to avail yourself of the opportunity to submit your work to the weekly Featured Poem Competition and the occasional Special Poetry Contest. Who knows? Maybe you'll be the next winner!

If you'd like to know more about this great poetry site, check out my earlier blog post, Calling All Poets: More Info About Creative-Poems.Com.

Then pop on over to Creative-Poems.Com and start posting your masterpieces to one of the best poetry sites around! (They don't pay you for your poems at C-P, but you'll get great feedback from fellow poets and regular opportunities to have your work recognized through their various poetry competitions, all of which are free to enter.)

Have fun!

* Childhood Voices is also posted to the Orble Poems blog at

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Are you stumped for a topic for your next article, blog post, or other web content? Suffering from a serious case of writer's block? Feeling as if you'll go mad if you're forced to stare at a blank computer screen even one minute longer?

Have no fear: The New York Times is here! Say, what? The New York Times? That's right! (And you thought they just gave you the latest news!)

If you can't quite figure out where to turn to find ideas for popular, up-to-the-minute content that people are interested in reading right now, The New York Times Most Searched Words and Phrases page can help get your creative juices flowing--and possibly even get some money flowing into your bank account--by providing you with a list of the top 50 words and phrases searched for most frequently by readers of NYTimes.Com.

This page on The New York Times website offers three options for search info, each of which can help you make a better decision on a viable topic for your piece. Offering three different lists, this helpful data includes the 50 top word and phrase searches made during the last 30 days, the last 7 days, and the last 24 hours, listed in order of popularity (with number 1 being the most popular.)

Not only will you find it intellectually stimulating--as well as intriguing--to learn what subjects are being searched for most often on the internet this very day, but you'll no doubt think it equally fascinating to know what the majority of us have thought important enough to search for during the past week, and possibly even more so, what has held our interest for an entire month. But aside from your own intellectual edification, this information will help you target your writing to the topics that the world is interested in reading about today.

So give this eye-opening information a read, let it help you tune in to the collective public consciousness, and see what ideas and images begin to emerge as you ponder the meaning of it all.

It may just help you say good-bye to writer's block...

Happy reading!

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Where can the latest buzz on blogging be found? At Blogg-Buzz.Com! Blog-Buzz is a relatively new site (It debuted in January, '07) where bloggers (and others) can go to find out "what's hot and what's not" in the blogosphere. It's a great place to discover what other blogs are out there and what all those other bloggers are blogging about. It's also a fantastic opportunity for you to let other bloggers know about your own blog and maybe even find some kindred spirits out there, who might eventually become new friends!

The way it works is this: Once you've registered as a member, you can then begin submitting individual blog posts--either those written by others or your own--that are of high quality and contain interesting, helpful, or entertaining content, along with a short description of each post and a link to it. Other members can then check out the posts that interest them (which can bring more traffic to your blog!) and cast their vote for those posts they like (called "buzzing").

Here's what the folks at Blogg-Buzz have to say about their site:

"Blogg-Buzz is a blogger driven community, exclusively for bloggers to share, discover and promote blog posts that they find interesting! After you submit content, other bloggers read your submission and buzz when they like it. If your post rocks and receives enough buzzes, it is promoted to the front page for more bloggers to see..."

They also tell us this about one of the potential benefits of joining:

"Blogg-Buzz can be useful for those who want to find the best content on the Blogosphere and can give your blog (a) good number of readers when you make a good post and reach the front page."

After all, as any blogger who's in the know is well aware: Making the front page of Blogg-Buzz is where it's at!

So, if you'd like to join the ranks of those bloggers who are in the know, check out Blogg-Buzz.Com** and start working your way to the front page!

Hope to see you there!

** Link deactivated 4/6/08. This site no longer exists.

By the way, ranking well on Blogg-Buzz.Com can also help boost your Technorati ranking. I recently found one of my posts that had reached "Popular Stories" status on Blogg-Buzz listed among my Blog Reactions on Technorati, with a simultaneous advance of over 10,000 points in my blog's ranking.

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