Stoking Your Creative Magic Is Critical For All Bloggers

stoycmcI first started writing, when I was 8, because my cousin Jody wrote. She had a literary name, after Jo in Little Women, and she was two years older than I. I envied her vocabulary. Her characters didn’t go to the bathroom, they went to the latrine and would have found discussion of such matters vulgar. I was so jealous of my cousin’s cleverness, I kept killing off all my characters to get revenge on them for not being as interesting as Jody’s.

During the summer weeks and holidays that we were together, Jody and I sometimes started writing in the morning, pausing only to read aloud to each other, or, impatiently, for food, and then look at the window to discover that the sun had set. I was hooked, in a constant state of inspiration, compelled to turn every scrap of paper, drop of blood, flower, stick or mud puddle into writing materials.

Today, sitting down at my computer, …

Top 5 Anti Snoring Devices

Anti-Snoring-DevicesIt’s been a good year for those who suffer from snoring. Snoring isn’t really something that people enjoy doing or do on purpose. While it may be a normal bodily function that doesn’t mean you have to like it. Many people snore for a variety of reasons such as smoking, drinking, being stressed or overweight. There are those who probably have a combination of all the aforementioned issues and then some. When you sleep, the muscles in your mouth and throat relax which can cause your tongue to fall into the back of your throat thereby blocking the airway. The vibration of the tongue from breathing can cause the sound that we have all come to know.

There are several different types of mouthpieces on the market. They are designed to either push your lower jaw forward to allow more air into the airway or they are designed to hold your tongue in place. There are a few that are designed to do both. With mouthpieces being the more popular tool of choice you can rest assured that there are hundreds of different devices all vying for your time and money. How do you choose? Which one should you go with? Comprehensive reviews of these are at this website. It depends on you, but here is a nice, quick list that goes over the top 5 from Continue reading “Top 5 Anti Snoring Devices”

Writing For Yourself Is The Best

pwritingI started writing stories about people in trailer parks without realizing I was participating in a genre. “Did you grow up in a trailer park yourself?” people have asked me, and the truth is no, I grew up in a small suburban town in northwest Indiana. My father was a doctor, and though we didn’t have a huge or fancy house, our basement alone, if you included the laundry room, could have accommodated a couple of double-wides.

I worked up to trailer parks; what interested me first were rows of identical small frame houses in Hammond and East Chicago. We saw these houses from the South Shore train we took into Chicago, or from the expressway, driving past them. I especially liked passing them at night, when you could see the drawn curtains with the lights shining behind them, or, if you got lucky, the open curtains and a glimpse of the life going on inside. I don’t like …

Good Characters: If You Don’t Have Them, Your Script Is Dead

gciydThough I’m usually not fond of blanket statements – especially those coming from teachers of writing – I make this one with little trepidation: Character is the single most important element in a script. One can have ever-so-many great ideas, story twists and eye-popping effects, but if the characters don’t work …what you have is a big ball of nothing.

Character is the engine that powers the script. All else is chrome.

Stories are about people. What an audience needs when it enters a movie palace or sits blithely before the tiny tube with remote in hand is a tale of human spirits in conflict. Anything less is tantamount to criminal activity.

Characters Beyond Definition

How do writers create strong, solid characters? Random House Dictionary lists no less than 27 different definitions for character, but it’s the very first that I find most appropriate:

Character: the aggregate of features

and traits that form the apparent

individual nature of some person…

The Path To Hard Drive Recovery Is Winding

hdrecoveryNo, this article is not about how to recover from a debilitating illness, abusive relationship or drugs. This article is about how to recover your important data after you’ve suffered a hard drive failure. Failures can be logistical or physical, but recovery is needed for both if you want to see your photos or hear your music ever again. As well, if you do a lot of business on your computer you’ve probably got some pretty important documents you want to see again too.

So your hard drive has suffered failure and you are not a technician. You have zero confidence in your personal technical skills so how can you hope to repair this issue yourself? You also aren’t rolling in money so you want to make sure that if you hire a third-party service to recover your data that you are choosing smartly and that you can trust they won’t mess around with your information.

Hard Drive Recovery Associates is one of the top three when it comes to hard drive recovery. They put their pride on the line every time they accept a hard drive for recovery services and these guys really know how to get the job done. Not only do they have fantastic facilities, you don’t have to worry that it’s all just lip-service and that they may not be 100% honest in the fact that they have all these credentials.

Hard Drive Recovery Associates designates a section of their website to display their certifications where everyone can see. They strive to provide the proof so that you can rest assured they know what they’re doing. Also, they even allow you to take a virtual tour of their cleanrooms so you can see exactly how the rooms are designed for your data recovery. This is really awesome because it allows you to feel confident that you know exactly what is going on with your hard drive. They have had a third party certify their clean room as an ISO 5 Class 100 lab. Not only is their lab amazing, if you have a logistical issue you don’t have to worry about sending in your hard drive. RAID services, meanwhile, are also provided. Good information is here.

Logistical means there is nothing physically wrong with your hard drive Continue reading “The Path To Hard Drive Recovery Is Winding”

Write From Personal Experience And Win

wfpexTwenty years ago, I sat in a crowd of undergraduates inside University of California-Berkeley’s Wheeler Auditorium, listening to Joan Didion deliver the annual Regents’ Lecture. Her topic: “Why I Write.”

“Of course, I stole the title of this talk from George Orwell,” Didion began. “One reason I stole it was that I like the sound of the words: Why I Write. There you have three short, unambiguous words that share a sound, and the sound they share is this:

“I, I, I.

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking,” Didion explained, “what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want, and what I fear.”

In a sense, it’s the oldest advice in the world: Write about what you know. Or rather: Write about what you’re attempting to grasp–and don’t neglect to record the knotty process that’s taking place within your mind, senses, imagination and entrails. But what does the primacy of personal experience …

A Story About Advertising

asabadgTwo years ago, a local printer told me his problem: No one was reading hi Hey-here-we-are, company-name-and address ads in the local daily newspaper. Sure, people saw them, but the didn’t stand out from all the other ads. As a writer, he asked, did I have an ideas?

Absolutely. I offered to write ultra short stories of about 450 words apiece, set in the university town where his business is located. My premise was that no one likes an ad, but everyone enjoys a funny story. Humor and advertising go together like bran muffins and coffee. I wrote the first tale, setting the format for those to come, and Cascade Chronicles began as a monthly fiction column. (I now write it twice a month.

Each column takes between five and eight hours to write and edit, but they’re fun to create, so I charge a flat rate of $100. I fax or mail the one-page manuscript to the printers every …

Paragraphs: Keep ‘Em Tight

pkemtThe other day I was editing an article that had originally appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, adapting it for use in the newspaper. Cullen Murphy, the author of the piece to which we’d bought reprint rights, is a gifted, graceful writer, so in this case “editing” mostly meant deciding what portions of the 7,000-word original to use and what, painfully, to cut.

Besides the delete key, the other spot on the keyboard I found myself using over and over again was the return – to create new paragraphs. In the pages of The Atlantic, the long, uninterrupted blocks of words had looked just fine. On my computer screen at work, however, where I’m used to viewing the choppy, often one-sentence-per-paragraph stories that move on newspaper wire services, the unbroken stream of sentences looked impenetrable. Return, return, return – relentlessly I chopped up the screen-filling paragraphs into more reader-friendly tidbits.

But this hands-on demonstration of the sometimes-arbitrary nature of paragraphing left …

Some Fact Checking Bombs To Avoid

sfcbtaHere’s how to sidestep the most common factual land mines:

* Name spellings. Have the source give you the spelling, not vice versa. Watch for hyphenated names, reversed letters and accent marks.

* Numbers. Figures can add up to devastating errors if reversed or printed with an extra zero.

* Job titles. If you replace a long-winded job title with a simpler description (“cosmetic researcher” instead of “Associate Professor of Clinical Microbiology in the School of Cosmetic Pharmacology at the University of Northern Indiana“), make sure it accurately describes what your source does – is he or she a researcher, a chemist or a pharmacist?

* Ages. Confirm a source’s age directly with him or her, rather than going with hearsay or previously published articles.

* Dates and time. Is your source talking about this summer or last summer? The fall or spring semester? Did she first notice a problem recently or ten years ago?

* Punctuation. Many proper …

Factchecking Should Be First Priority With Any Blogger

csbfpwabGreat writing and factual errors just don’t mix. Here’s how to make sure your articles are error-free, whether you’re working with a magazine’s fact checkers or not.

Most writers wouldn’t dream of turning in a manuscript riddled with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Yet many of us don’t apply the same eagle eye to the facts of the story. Solid facts establish a writer’s credibility. If a source’s name is misspelled, for instance, it casts doubt on the rest of the article.

Publications vary widely in their fact-checking techniques. Some do no checking at all, while many employ several full-time checkers. Fact checkers at The New Yorker have traveled to Nova Scotia and Hawaii to verify a writer’s description. Such extremes aside, many consumer magazines expect writers to turn in reference materials and a list of sources when the finished article is submitted.

As research editor of a national entertainment magazine, I checked hundreds of articles, from record …