Tag Archives: skills

The Five Minute Spanish Lesson


Thank you, Lasesana, for offering this great introduction to Spanish in 15 easy lessons.

http://lasesana.wordpress.com/learn-spanish/

Writers, pay attention. This is the place to grab a little Spanish to spice up your dialogue in your manuscript. Poets, use the language of passion to punch up that poetry.

As a Writer, What If I Am Just Average?


On WordPress, I continue to be amazed by the collection of talent. Sometimes an author’s writing floors me with its power, cleverness, raw emotion or beautiful use of language.

I am none of those things. I am a nerd who can correctly string together a series of words. As a writer–as a word artist–I am average.

How then do I expect to compete in the commercial marketplace? The same way an average employee competes in the workplace. By showing up. By giving my best effort. And like a tidal wave, by sheer volume. A dose of self-promotion is important, too. If I don’t market, I won’t sell. (Please don’t stop reading here. The best of this post is yet to come.)

I’ve said this before and I will say it again: throw enough at a wall and something will stick.

Part of succeeding as an average writer is finding my audience. I do that by writing in all the ways that appeal to me–short stories, haiku, flash fiction and novels. (In 2013, I hope to add internet content to the list.) Then I analyze. Of those things I like to write, what are people reading?

I need to look at my statistics. What do statistics tell me about what readers like in my work? Is it my true confessions? Is it self-improvement or how-to articles? Pop culture? Or factual pieces? Humorous stories? The off-the-wall?

Success is finding the match of my abilities with a need in the marketplace.

Ask the reader.

So I am asking you right now. What do you like best about this blog? Why do you stop by? Is there something which you’d like to see more often? Any answer is a helpful one. Silence hurts. So tell me something, anything, that will make this blog a better experience for you. Even if it is what you don’t like. Say, “Fay, dump this. Keep that.” Bring it on. Help me get better.

For me, that’s what it is all about. The best part is serving, helping, pleasing you, the reader.

The next best part is getting good enough to earn a paycheck! But that’s another post for another day.  🙂

When Quoting the Work of Others


Some authors have questions about how to effectively use quotations of others’ material when writing. The first lesson is identify the source when you use a quote. Make it plain to the reader of the material who is the rightful author/owner of the quotation.

Do not imply or suggest the words you quote are your own. You can mislead by omitting to name a source. Without a source reference, the implication is that the written words are your own.

The following selection from zerohedge.com, authored by George Washington (pen name) and published on July 26, 2012, gives a good illustration of using quotations in an article. Ignore the politics of the article. Study it for quotation usage skills:

Economist James K. Galbraith wrote in the introduction to his father, John Kenneth Galbraith’s, definitive study of the Great Depression, The Great Crash, 1929:

 
 

The main relevance of The Great Crash, 1929 to the great crisis of 2008 is surely here. In both cases, the government knew what it should do. Both times, it declined to do it. In the summer of 1929 a few stern words from on high, a rise in the discount rate, a tough investigation into the pyramid schemes of the day, and the house of cards on Wall Street would have tumbled before its fall destroyed the whole economy. In 2004, the FBI warned publicly of “an epidemic of mortgage fraud.” But the government did nothing, and less than nothing, delivering instead low interest rates, deregulation and clear signals that laws would not be enforced. The signals were not subtle: on one occasion the director of the Office of Thrift Supervision came to a conference with copies of the Federal Register and a chainsaw. There followed every manner of scheme to fleece the unsuspecting ….

 

This was fraud, perpetrated in the first instance by the government on the population, and by the rich on the poor.

 

***

 

The government that permits this to happen is complicit in a vast crime.

In other words, the fraud started at the very top with Greenspan, Bush, Paulson, Negraponte, Bernanke, Geithner, Rubin, Summers and all of the rest of the boys.

 

As William Black told me today:

 
 

In criminology jargon: they created an intensely criminogenic environment.

The government’s special inspector general in charge of oversight of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (the “TARP” bank bailouts) – Neil M. Barofsky – said today:

 
 

It was a “message to the banks ‘if we commit fraud, we break the rules, don’t worry, we’re too big — they’ll never bring the appropriate steps against us,’” Barofsky says in an interview with The Daily Ticker. “And that is why we’ve had scandal after scandal after scandal.”

 

This was a “global conspiracy to fix one of the most important interest rates in the world,” Barofsky continues. “[Geithner] heard this information and looked the other way. Geithner and other regulators should be held accountable, they should be fired across the board. If they knew about an ongoing fraud, and they didn’t do anything about it, they don’t deserve to have their jobs. I hope we see people in handcuffs.“

Government regulators have become so corrupted and “captured” by those they regulate that Americans know that the cop is on the take.  (Even top justice officials are incredibly cozy with Wall Street fraudsters.)

Institutional corruption is killing people’s trust in our government and our institutions, which is one of the reasons the economy is faltering again.

Indeed, polls show that very few Americans believe that the U.S. government has the “consent of the governed”, a higher percentage of Americans liked King George during the Revolutionary War than like Congress today, and people are publicly discussing whether it’s a good or bad idea to “hang bankers”.

Using Video to Sell Your Stuff


Good pep talk from Drew Keller to help you use videography to its best advantage for selling your works via social media. If you are an Independent or Self-publisher, you need to watch this:

Calling all writers who do their own marketing, selling, etcetera. Watch this video.

Getting Real in Order To Learn Something


This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s posting. After I penned “When an Author Offends,” I started thinking that maybe I was mistaken about why a reader leaves.

I decided to contact one of my own long-time readers who recently departed. I wrote:

Hi, dear girl. I can’t help but notice your absence. That leads me to ask you to help me out by explaining what happened? Where did I change as a writer — or change my subject matter — that lost you as a reader? I ask, not because I am hurt, but in order to learn from the experience. You followed a long time. At some point, I no longer was useful to you. I’d like to understand that. It will be helpful to me as an author. Thank you for all the input you gave me. I really appreciated it. (And I miss you.)

This blog is about wanting to be a writer, in every sense of the word. A writer is a creator, a marketer, a brand-builder, a businessman, a human being.

So I need to be transparent about my weaknesses and faults. Doing so may save you, my reader, a misstep of your own.

I hope my blog friend replies. She will do me a great service if she is frank and honest. It will be a valuable learning experience.

Building Friable Soil in Your Garden


Okay. So I am lazy today. I am going to cheat and use something I wrote elsewhere here.

I visited one of my reader’s blogs (he has several) about his raised bed garden. He described how he built it up and what is growing there. He is enjoying eating fresh produce.

As a gardener, I have opinions about creating good garden soil. I decided to express mine to him via a comment on his post. Then I thought I would share it here, in case another gardener out there is like me and looking for new ways to improve the garden dirt. So here goes:

Thanks for visiting my blog and introducing me to yours. Not sure how long you will be gardening where you are, but if you do the following through the winter, you’ll be amazed at the tilth improvement by spring — that is if you have the organisms (like worms) in your clay soil to break garbage into compost.

Anyway, here goes. Take all your PLANT matter kitchen scraps, egg shells, and coffee grounds and dump it into 6-8″ deep holes in your raised beds. Cover the garbage back up with dirt. Mother nature turns it into a rich compost. If you do it for multiple years, your soil turns black and needs no tilling because the soil is friable. I have red clay. You’d never know it to look at the soil in my raised beds.

I also compost horse manure, used chicken coop bedding and spoiled hay in a pile for a couple of years. Once well broken down, I use that to start new raised beds, followed by the winter in-the-ground composting. I grow luscious vegetables with no added fertilizer.

As I re-read what I wrote above, I realize that my writing improves through a similar technique. I keep adding tidbits here and there, letting the matter percolate in my being. Over time, each bit of advice or new skill learned builds my skill set.

How about you? How do you improve either your garden or your writing?