Friday, May 29, 2009


LH: How did you get interested in writing?
MH: My mother was a writer, and there were always books and manuscripts lying around the house. She’d get up early and write in her converted garage. Seeing my interest, she taught me to use her electric typewriter and bought me a copy of Writers’ Market. I wrote a truly awful short story about a girl in a mental institution who befriends a white tiger cub, and sent it off to Seventeen Magazine. Needless to say, it did not get accepted for publication.

LH: What was your first success?
MH: At fifteen, I had a short story titled “No Paper Airplanes Flew” in a national kids’ magazine called Scholastic Voice. It was a fictionalized account of a substitute teacher who’d just undergone a radical mastectomy, and how her recounting of the experience tamed an unruly class of junior high students. (I was one of the unruly students.) Scholastic Voice paid me $50, and I felt like a real writer.

LH: What kind of books or articles do you most enjoy writing?
MH: I love writing literary memoir and essays that inspire readers to think about subjects—owls, adoption, lesbian mothers—in a new and different way.

LH: Do you have an agent? Tell us about your experiences with/without agents.
MH: My agent, Michele Andelman, left Andrea Brown Literary agency directly after selling my memoir, Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood. At the moment, I’m actively looking for a new literary agent. Michele approached my writing with insight and helped me to shape Gringa into something that would appeal to editors. I miss her!

LH: What are your thoughts about marketing? Do you have any great tips on how to do it well?
MH: If you can write short articles and essays for magazines and newspapers, whether related to the topic of your manuscript or not, this is a terrific way to get your name out there. Most editors ask for an author bio, in which you can include the name of your book and your contact information. I also love to teach at writers’ conferences, where I can network with other writers, plus agents and editors.

LH: If you could go back in time and start over, tell us one thing you have learned that would help you to succeed better/faster/with less struggle.
MH: I would have asked my professors in my undergraduate and graduate programs for advice on how to begin submitting my shorter and book-length pieces to editors and agents. Believe it or not, I used to be shy, and I didn’t take advantage of my teachers as resources. After earning my Master of Fine Arts degree, I knew how to write, but I had to teach myself the business of publishing.

LH: Any other thoughts to share?
MH: It may sound shallow, but I’ve taken for my motto one used by Ben and Jerry of gourmet ice cream fame. “If it’s not fun, why do it?”
I try to write what I love, what’s fun for me to craft. Even when I’m working on a particularly tedious writing project, I try to change my attitude about it so that it’s pleasurable. If this involves consuming large quantities of chocolate, so be it.
LH: Sounds great to me! Thanks for your thoughts, Melissa.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview with Gordon Grice

LH: Gordon, how did you get interested in writing?

GG: As I soon as I learned to read, I heard narration unfolding in my head. I knew I’d be a writer.

LH: What was your first success?

GG: My first publication was a prose-poem in a literary magazine called Xanadu.

LH: What kind of books or articles do you most enjoy writing?

GG: I like writing that’s beautiful and frightening at the same time, and that’s what I try to achieve in my own work. My best work is about the natural world.

LH: Do you have an agent? Tell us about your experiences with/without agents.

GG: Before I met my agent, I thought of myself as an artistic sort of writer, doomed to make my living at a day job while scribbling on the side. My big accomplishments were publishing a chapbook of poetry, having a couple of my songs played in a night club, and getting paid $50 for an essay in a litmag.
That all changed when Harper’s reprinted one of my essays from a litmag. It was only days after Harper’s hit the stands that a stranger named Elyse Cheney phoned. She asked if I had any ideas for a nonfiction book.
“Well, I have some essays,” I said.
“I was thinking of something more focused,” she said. She grilled me about my writing and my experiences, and before we hung up we’d hashed out a general idea for a book of essays about animals with some philosophical subtext. Over the next few months, we developed a pitch and a few sample chapters. I really had no idea how to build a pitch, because it had never occurred to me to write a nonfiction book. I’d actually pinned my hopes on finishing a novel. I outlined 31 chapters about the animals I’d encountered in the countryside where I grew up. Elyse told me to cut it down to the seven most exciting ones. We called it The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predators.
A week after I sent Elyse the finished pitch, she called to tell me she’d sold it for six figures. After I applied the defibrillator to myself, I told her I was amazed it all happened so fast.
“That’s why you have an agent,” she said.

LH: What are your thoughts about marketing? Do you have any great tips on howto do it well?

GG: The biggest difference between successful writers and unsuccessful ones isn’t talent, but perseverance. My best advice is to keep going. I had a story chosen for Best of the ‘Net a couple of years back that had been rejected 62 times. I kept revising it and sending it back out.
More important, though, persevere with your writing. While you’re waiting to hear about one piece, write a couple more. Always be writing. Besides making you a better writer, it will give you more stuff to send out and thus improve your odds in the marketplace. It will also give you a more realistic sense of the relative strengths of your pieces. Some writers send out one piece, get a rejection, and feel too demoralized to go on. I say, send out a piece, then forget about it and write something better before you even get word on the first one.
Don’t think of the market as a judge of your talent, because it’s not.

LH: If you could go back in time and start over, tell us one thing you have learned that would help you to succeed better/faster/with less struggle.

GG: I’d have written more. When I as young I was easily frustrated. I’d put stories aside because I couldn’t make them work or because my prose was ugly and I couldn’t get it on its feet. Now I know that the only way to get to be a good writer is to do a lot of bad writing. I’d want my younger self to apply ink to paper every chance he got, accepting that clumsy writing is nothing to be ashamed of, that it’s wholesome exercise, that every attempt at improving a line, no matter how lame the result, is a step toward some graceful line later on.

LH: Any other thoughts to share?

GG: My advice for aspiring writers is to find joy in the process. The publishing business is rarely kind to the right people, so if you are only in it for the rewards, you’d probably be happier doing something else. But if you can find the joy in the pursuit of a page that sings, you’ll have your reward, whether you succeed in publishing or not.
(BTW—For UCLA, I’m teaching a short marketplace class again this summer, among other things: )

LH: I sure enjoyed your UCLA online class. Thanks for giving us your insights, Gordon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Interview with Linley Erin Hall

LH: Can you tell us how you got interested in writing? I know you were into science back at Harvey Mudd College.

LEH: I started writing stories in the fourth grade, and although I wrote for the school newspapers in junior high and high school, I mostly wrote fiction. When I went to HMC, I thought I’d become a chemistry professor. I found biochemistry fascinating. But I didn’t enjoy lab work. Putting my science interest together with my writing skills was a great combination for me.

LH: What was your first success with writing?

LEH: I was a graduate student in the science writing program at UC Santa Cruz, and one of my internships was at The Californian, a small newspaper in Salinas. I was assigned to cover the visit of the Olympic Torch to the area, and my article ended up on the front page! That my article was important enough and good enough for the front page gave me a lot of confidence.

LH: What kind of things do you most enjoy writing?

LEH: The in-depth ones. I’ve written a lot of different kinds of nonfiction, but it’s more fun to dig deep into a subject, to tell a real story, than to write a 300-500 word article skimming the surface, although those are important too. I also still enjoy writing fiction, although I haven't had any published yet.

LH: Any experience with agents?

LEH: Not yet. I sold Who’s Afraid of Marie Curie without one. I wrote an essay about the hairs we leave behind, not science at all, for the magazine section of the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle. In the blurb about me at the bottom, I said I write about science and engineering. About two and a half months later, an editor at Seal Books emailed me, said she liked my writing style, and asked if I’d like to write a book for Seal about women in science. That contact grew into Who’s Afraid of Marie Curie. So I basically skipped one of the hardest parts of getting a book published. It’s almost like I cheated.

LH: What are your thoughts about marketing?

LEH: It’s the part of freelancing that I enjoy least. It’s hard to put yourself out there. There are so many people trying to reach your audience, you need to stand out from that background. Target your audience and be creative.

LH: If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

LEH: If you want to be a freelance writer, make a specific, detailed business plan. I sort of made one when I first made the leap into freelancing, but I could have avoided rough places if I’d done more research and planned more carefully up front. As for the writing itself, outline, outline, outline. Having a plan, even if it changes, makes writing both fiction and nonfiction easier.

LH: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on writing with us, Linley.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Interview with Catherine Ipcizade, children’s author

LH: Hi Catherine, how did you get interested in writing?

CI: I’ve always been interested in writing. Poetry was my first love. The first time I remember actually being recognized for my writing was in elementary school. I was in the third or fourth grade and I wrote this poem called A Fluffy White Feather. It was terrible. But my grandmother saw it, loved it, and called the Phoenix newspapers to tell them they HAD to publish my poem. She declared that a star was born and I was the star. Talk about motivation! I was far from a star, but my grandmother’s faith in me inspired my writing from then on. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, none of those papers published my poem.

As far as my career in children’s publishing, I started dabbling in writing books for kids in college. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child though, that I set out to make a career of it.

LH: What was your first success?

CI: My first success wasn’t with book writing. I found success first as a freelance writer. My first publication was a piece called My Turkicans for The United States Turkish Times newspaper. I then went on to write more articles for them, as well as blogs for sites like, and articles for other publications including Chula Vista Living, Avenues, Ladera Ranch Magazine, and STOMP Fashion Magazine. I also dabbled in writing greeting cards for Leap Greetings and started writing web content—all while pursuing my main love—writing for children. My first book success was my picture book, ‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day. After its publication, I began writing a lot for the educational market. By the end of the year, I will have 14 books in print—one from Sylvan Dell Publishing, and 13 from Capstone Press.

LH: What kind of books or articles do you most enjoy writing?

CI: I enjoy so many types of writing. I love writing funny, quirky picture books. I also enjoy writing somewhat serious contemporary novels in free verse. For articles, I prefer clever parenting articles that show the “real,” often fallible nature of life.

LH: Do you have an agent? Tell us about your experiences with/without agents.

CI: No, I am not currently represented by an agent. It’s not imperative for a picture book author to have an agent. Would it be nice? Sure. When my current novel is complete, however, I do plan to begin searching for agent representation.

LH: What are your thoughts about marketing? Do you have any great tips on how to do it well?

CI: My general feeling about marketing is to do all that you can. This is a given when you publish for a small or independent publisher. But even when you publish with a large publisher, doing your own marketing can mean the success or failure of your book. With big publishers, people assume they handle the marketing for you, that they push your book. Sadly, this isn’t often the case. Publishers push the books they think will sell really well. With the others, marketing efforts falter. If you want to gain a wide audience for you book, it’s best to start early, before the book even comes out. Here are some things to consider:

1. Do you have an online presence? This could include a website, a blog, a presence on Facebook or Myspace—anything that gives you a link to the outside world.

2. Do you want to do bookstore signings? If so, become friendly with your nearest independent bookstore. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach the large chain stores—you should, but an independent book store is likely to give you and your book the attention you both deserve. And because some stores book authors up to a year in advance, you’ll want to get a jump start on this.

3. Can you find a niche market for your book? For example, my zoo book lent itself easily to doing visits at zoos or animal parks. If your book has a specialized focus, hone in on that.

4. Have a contest! People love to get things for free, and hosting a giveaway contest on your blog or website will help generate interest for your book.

5. Have a launch party. If your book is out and you want to re-energize sales, have a re-launch party. These can be anywhere. Invite family, friends, and anyone else you think might be interested in your book.

6. Consider school visits. Many children’s book authors make a living doing school visits. There are some logistics to be worked out when pursuing this, but you may find it’s well worth your time, especially if you enjoy kids or teens, depending on the genre of your book.

LH: If you could go back in time and start over, tell us one thing you have learned that would help you to succeed better/faster/with less struggle.

CI: I wish I would have known that there is a support group out there for children’s writers. With organizations like SCBWI and online sites like (check out the Blueboards section), aspiring and established children’s book writers aren’t alone! So much of this business is trial and error. If I could do it again, I would have asked for help sooner and not been afraid to approach those who knew how to navigate the scary, scary world of publishing.

LH: Any other thoughts to share?

CI: Just that I teach online for UCLA Extension. I currently teach Writing for Children: A Beginning Workshop. In the winter, I’ll also be teaching a general non-fiction for the youth market course. Stop by my website at to learn more about me, my books, and my upcoming classes.

LH: Thanks for telling the blog visitors about your interesting experiences with writing, Catherine!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Maralys Wills Interview on Writing

LH: I’ve enjoyed your memoirs and your workshops at writing conferences. I’m pleased you have a book out on writing now, Damn the Rejections, Full Speed Ahead. How did you get interested in writing?

MW: When I was a little girl, I lived on a ranch seven miles from town. I read all the time. Once I ripped all the blank pages out of my mom’s books and tied them together with string so I could write a book of my own. I developed a passion for writing books and it never faded.

LH: What was your first success?

MW: An article for United Airlines’ Mainliner Magazine. I sold them an article on my kids’ hang gliding for $350. That was a lot of money in those days, enough to fly to Hawaii! We took a trip to Hawaii on United, and there was my article in the seat pocket, and it was all I could do not to run up and down the aisle pointing to my page.

LH: What has been your experience with agents?

MW: I’ve been agented for nine books, yet it was something I did myself that sold five of them. You have to be willing to help. Nobody will work as hard for you as you’ll work for yourself. Three different agents tried to sell my biggest success, Higher Than Eagles. Longstreet Press bought it after Richard Curtis and a couple of others gave up and I sent it out myself. Then I got a fourth agent to negotiate the contract. Now, I’m working with Stephens Press. Damn the Rejections, Full Speed Ahead came out with them.

LH: What are your thoughts about marketing?

MW: With all the practice I’ve had, I’m going to write a book on that subject. I’ve had two great publicists and one bad one. They always want to send you to radio and TV interviews, but I’m not convinced that sells my books as well as being a speaker. I love to give workshops. They really connect with the audience better than these short radio talks. People buy the book on the spot.

LH: If you could go back in time and start over, tell us one thing you’ve learned that would help you succeed with less struggle.

MW: You have to take a class. No matter how smart you are or how many books you’ve read, you don’t know how to write without some formal training. It’s like going to piano recitals. You can go to a hundred piano recitals, but you wouldn’t expect to come home and play the piano. Yet a lot of avid readers think they can sit down and automatically write a book. Writing is like creating a brick wall. You want people to see the bricks, but not the mortar. Yet it’s the mortar that holds everything together. All those hidden techniques that nobody notices. Even the smartest readers don’t necessarily know about the mortar. Writing technique is what you learn in classes and critique groups. I wish I’d started taking classes years before I did.

LH: Thanks for sharing your insights with us, Maralys.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This is the next to the last batch of writing tips from HARO, Enjoy! Laura

“Don’t use dialogue to tell something that should be shown. It just makes the character who is speaking sound long winded. Putting quotation marks around exposition won’t draw readers into the scene or involve them more than if you’d left it part of the narrative.” From Patrika Vaughn,

“If I feel I’m having a bad writing day, I’ll re-read some things I’ve written in the past that I really like. Reading my own writing helps to put me in the “zone” I was in when I wrote it.” From Melissa A. Rothermel

“Create a style sheet to ensure you use the same spellings and refer to names the same way throughout. For example, numbers spelled out vs. numerals, and full names (e.g., "Laura L. Hoopes") vs. shorter versions (e.g., "Laura Hoopes").” From Linda Carlson

“My favorite tip for writers comes from author Graham Greene who wrote 500 words a day. NO MATTER WHAT. He was so compulsive about it he was known to stop with a “The” if that was his 500th word. I am a writing coach and workshop leader –– my book, BANG THE KEYS: Four Steps to a Lifelong Writing Practice comes out with Penguin this summer –– and this bit of advice has helped more of my clients than I can say. Additionally, for concentration-challenged 21st century writers, I would also recommend two software programs. One is called Macfreedom ( Right now it’s free, and it allows you to tell it to keep you off of the Internet for as many hours as you wish. Priceless! Writeroom is also wonderful. It allows you to write on a black screen with a green blinking cursor. Writeroom is also wonderful. It allows you to write on a black screen with a green blinking cursor.” From Jill Dearman

“Take at your blog posts over the past year or more; has your opinion changed or do you now hold a completely contrarian point-of-view? Those kinds of posts are great fodder for people afraid to say they’ve changed their mind. Another way to approach it is, even if you still agree with yourself, try to write a post from the opposite perspective. It’s a great way to get the juices flowing.”From Jennifer Lindsay,

“ 1. Identify the audience - visualize a typical reader sitting across from you and your task is to explain something so that they will understand the explanation 2. Define the purpose - What are you going to explain, and why do they need to know about it - or why should they even care 3. Prepare an outline: Tell 'em what you are going to tell 'em; Tell 'em; Tell 'em what you told 'em. 4. Write the piece 5. Review the piece against the purpose - does the piece achieve the purpose? 6. If a fairly extensive rewrite is needed - start over rather than correct or try to fix what is already written - it is very difficult to throw out your hard work, but often the results will be much better.” From Dr. William R. Osgood

“Anyone can take a good idea and give it shape and substance. Some can do it better than you, some not as well. But nobody can take the idea that sings to your soul and perform the kind of alchemy on it that you can. Only you can transform that idea into the one-of-a-kind gem it longs to be. Surrender to that right idea. Perform your magic on it. Let the right idea for you be the idea you write.” From Mark David Gerson

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More Writing Tips

Here's another crop of HARO tips. We're seeing patches of the bottom of the barrel, only two more rounds and then we'll start some author interviews with their best ideas for writing.

“I've learned that there is one way to succeed in every part of blogging. Be authentic. Whether you're asking another blogger to look at a post (and hopefully link to it) or you're writing about a niche topic, authenticity is crucial.” From Thursday R. Bram

“The big problem with writer's block is getting started. If you stop by completing a thought, sentence, paragraph, page or chapter, then you are starting cold the next day. Starting up in the middle of a sentence is starting already warmed-up.” From Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. Author of The Un-Comfort Zone

For a blog, “…the writer must read, and must not write about oneself. There is nothing more boring to readers than stories purely about the writer. Analyze what you see and experience for the benefit of your readers. Show readers a different way of looking at something.” From Elizabeth Ross

“One of the ways I keep inspired about content for my blog is to continuously save things I come across online that I feel passionate about. I save them as PDF or Word files in a blog inspiration folder on my desktop and assign the files short names that remind me why I saved them.” From Karl Johnson

“Read something terrible. I have some favorites, but I feel like this may be more personal. For instance, if I really want to get myself riled up about the state of literature, I’ll skim The Da Vinci Code. The short chapters and constant cliffhangers make me giggle, and they also make me want to do a better job than good old best-selling Brown boy.” Sara Dobie,

“…the best tip I have to offer is to occasionally find ways to meet with your audience. I write non-fiction, so I offer an occasional class through community education, hire out a guest-speaker, appear as a guest expert on social networking sites, or speak at support groups. This puts me in touch with the very people I am trying to help, the very people with whom I am sharing ideas and hope. “ From Maureen McKay

“My tips: be tenacious, check your facts and always do quality work. Refresh your grammar skills. Believe in yourself.” From Joan Fitting Scott, Author of Skinning the Cat: A Baby Boomer's Guide to the New Retiree Lifestyles

“MAKE YOUR DEADLINES! or don't. Because I do. and I'll get all the assignments you drop. “ Brooke Kelley

Friday, May 8, 2009

Writing tips, winding down, preview of new feature coming

Hi WestCoastWriters blog readers,
There are only a few more postings of writing tips coming up, and after that I am planning to post some interviews with writers about writing for you. If you want to suggest people I should interview (including yourself) please post a comment and I will contact you if your idea works for the blog.

More writing tips:

Keep your blog posts short: say what you have to say crisply, then stop. Use lists, and keep the formatting clean. For those who want to read further, include links to more detailed articles. More tips at "Blogging Tips & Techniques" From Jonathan Lockwood Huie

“For fiction: Take inspiration from your life, especially for comedic writing. There is nothing more absurd than reality! Listen to the conversations of friends, family, and strangers. Some of my most successful pieces have been written after overhearing a snippet of conversation!” From Andi Enns

“As for blog tips, linking to other people’s blogs and/or articles is a great way to cross-promote and get traffic you might not otherwise get. Anytime I am published elsewhere or quoted elsewhere, I put up a blog posting about it, linking back to the other website/ blog/ article.” From Caroline Ceniza-Levine,/

Assume your reader won’t read: Online reading is different than print. People skim, skip ahead, and generally avoid the “reading” aspect of reading. People often DON’T scroll down. Put the most pertinent info at the top, and keep your entries to about a page (single-spaced) or less. With your website’s margins, pictures, etc, that one page will look long enough. Be interactive: I hate when bloggers/online magazines basically just post print online. A good blog is interactive, it has helpful links that enable the reader to learn more (a la Wikipedia). It should have pictures or video, if you can and it makes sense. It is not static. A good blog references other blogs. Robin Levinson

My own best tips:
1) Schedule your writing time. Mark it in your calendar just as you would a dentist appointment or regular trips to the gym.
2) Network, network, network. You never know where your next good contact or story lead will come from.” From Flo Selfman President, Independent Writers of Southern California (

Draw! No matter if you're not an artist. Do a quick line drawing of your setting: a living room or restaurant where action takes place, the streets of the town, the configuration of a dresser or significant piece of furniture. This will accomplish at least two things: first, the sketch serves as a "bookkeeping" tool so you won't make an error when you refer to the item/place again. Second, the act of drawing often inspires further description in the book and or more action.” From Camille Minichino/aka Margaret Grace, author of eight books in the Periodic Table mysteries and three in the Miniature Mysteries.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Writing tips continue again

Here is a new set of tips, general as well as blog-related:
“Be realistic. What do you want to accomplish with your blog? Change the world? Sell something? Get a job? Improve your writing? Connect with others who share your interests? It helps to know what your goals are and set reasonable expectations.
Be adventurous. Don't be afraid to experiment. There are no "rules" for blogging. Try something you've never tried. If you "screw up," you'll learn something. Others can learn from your experiment. You never know when you might hit on something that captures the imagination of others.” From Scott Hepburn

“ 1. Write first thing in the morning before you think about anything else.
2. Only share early drafts with people that you know support you and will say positive things, like your mom.
3. Share later drafts with people who will tell you the truth.
4. Write and re-write, a lot.
5. When you've written a book, ask everyone you know if they know an agent. If you find people who know agents, you're halfway through the door."
From Andrea Askowitz

“Notebooks and Pens Everywhere. Have multiple spiral-bound notebooks. Stick pens inside the spirals. Place these notebooks with pens attached anywhere you might be “stuck” for awhile and definitely in your briefcase, purses, or pockets. Always keep a notebook and pen in the bathroom for shower, bathtub, and toilet “light bulb moments.” In other words, you are a writer; never be caught without your notebook.” From Allen and Linda Anderson, Check out their 101 good quick writing tips!

“Have a platform – do talks about your subject prior to submitting your book proposal. That way you have audiences who will be interested in purchasing your books, and you’ll have publishers interested in you (assuming you’re not self-publishing) since you have an audience to purchase your books! We (my co-author and I) did talks at the local level – Rotary, United Way, for the school systems, local university, library, etc. We did these for free at first, and had regular speaking engagements when we submitted our book proposal.” From Jan Cullinane, co-author, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale, 2007)

“So often people come to the task of writing with their energy on 'empty.' That just doesn't work. It often doesn't take much to refuel--a walk in nature, a few deep breaths.” From Lisa Tener,,

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Writing Tips

Today's crop of tips is a mixture for all kinds of writers. The last one below has some great ideas for making your blog visible. Enjoy! Laura

“… my tip for writing fiction is to get dressed in character to get inspired. When writing my book I would get dressed up, put on jewelry to actually make me feel like I was going to a party so I could write about them.” From Beth Dunn

“Stay positive, and maintain your sense of humor. As in any highly competitive field, even the most able-bodied workers are subject to the vagaries of the marketplace.” From Scott Steinberg,

“…in every scene, the characters need to want something from each other--a loan, the clue to a mystery, a kind word, the keys to the car--something that motivates the characters and creates tension in the scene.” From Kristin Mellon, Sylvan Learning, agency website:

Good tip for bloggers: “Build an inventory of posts and images. I'm not the best at this, but having a few posts "in the can" means that when things get hectic in the "real world" I still have fresh, well-written content to post. (See tip #1). Also, get to know the timed publication option on your blog software - this allows you to write and format a post but not publish it until a later date (you choose the date and time that it will go live). This is great if you're traveling, or, as I said, if "life" gets in the way! The same goes for images. If photography is an important component of your blog (which it is for many), then it's also a great idea to build your own library of "stock" images. If I'm shooting a particular recipe or food item for, for instance, I will always get additional angles and shots that I can use as 'generic' images for future posts.” From Emma Williams

“Remember that writing is a business and that paying money for courses, training and activities is an investment, not a cost. Zena Polin

“… under the "viral marketing" aspect: Blog authors need to understand the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and organic search. There are a number of free tools that can help you quickly craft the best version of a post title - based on how people actually search. For example, you can do a quick check in to see what version of a phrase is more commonly used to search. A really simple version of this can be seen here: Pick your categories or tags with just as much care as the articles you write. Since each of these becomes a page on your blog - they also can become major destinations for those searching for the topics you cover on your site. Another must read is Google's free Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide available here: Jeanne Kramer-Smyth

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Writing Tips: now on Blog Writing!

Here is some great advice for writers considering creating a blog. Cheers, Laura

Re Blog writing: “Quality over quantity. It's better to post one great quality post per week than three so so posts per week. Don't pressure yourself to meet X posts per week or else it can set you up for getting stuck.” From Meryl K. Evans
“Please don't apologize for not writing often enough or responding to comments in the body of your blog article.” From Shirley VanScoyk
“I always listen for mention of a news item that would relate to the focus of my blog. For example, when the Attorney General spoke out concerning the reticence of others in regard to race issues, I quickly added something to my blog. My blog focuses on a man who visited the U.S. in 1912. He spoke at the 4th annual meeting of the NAACP.” From Sue Chehrenegar
Several pieces of advice:
“Writing anything can seem like a big task before you start it. Why not create a blog and then write about parts of it every day / other day / whatever. If you do this long enough, then eventually you'll have completed the whole task.
Writing incrementally in a blog also exposes your writing to others and allows them to provide feedback during the process. This can be very valuable.
Just because you publish something in a blog doesn't mean that you can't go back and make changes to it - you own the blog, you can edit / revise old postings as many times as you want.
Depending on what your final goal is, a blog that has developed a following means that you have a ready made audience waiting to purchase your final product...!”
From Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting
“Write about something for which you have passion. I once obtained a great URL on the topic of human resources for businesses. It got immediate traffic based on the URL alone. The problem was that writing about this subject bored me and I ultimately sold the blog.” From Bob Bentz
“ You should check out” From Erin Lariviere,
“The most valuable advice I have is to keep it short and link, link, link. The linking provides context and breaks up a screen of text. Keeping it short also makes it less daunting for the reader. The reader should always be at top of mind for a blog post.” From Sean Wood

Friday, May 1, 2009

Writing Tips continued

Here are more tips, this time a mixture of general advice and blog-specific advice. Enjoy! Laura
“Write about how you have solved problems or overcome obstacles. Readers connect strongly with writing that provides solutions. This need not be personal; explain how to organize an overflowing email inbox, grow an avocado tree, or connect to a SQL database.” From - Jess Johnson writer for GrokCode
Barbara Dana and her newly released book.

“When I have a day when I can’t write, think I’m no good, the idea is stupid, the whole thing should be thrown out, I say to myself. “I’m not going to write today. But if I were going to write I would write something like this. Then I write something that I usually end up developing the next day. Sometimes I end up using it just the way it came out!” From Betsy Model quoting Barbara Dana (, author of A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson.
“Know your audience, write for that audience, and promote to it. Whether it's a commercial project or a novel, know who you're talking to and what you want them to do, and how you'll reach them to tell about it.” From Shel Horowitz,
“My best and perhaps only tip that applies to all writers is to do with getting started. I don't mean what time of day you switch on the computer, I mean getting started when you have something to say - even if it is just for your own satisfaction. Despite doing a lot of work for educational publications I didn't find the courage to start and finish a novel until well into middle age. Why? because all the time I could hear a voice (a parent) saying 'And just who do you think you are - showing off like that?'” From Jane Arredondo (J.G. Harlond)
“Viral marketing tip: Recently, I have been using twitter to try and spread the word a bit. I've followed lots of people in my location and in field of expertise. I set up an auto feed so when I make a new blog post, it automatically sends a tweet out on Twitter. When people see good posts, they re-tweet it, therefore sending the word out to the wide userbase. “ From Anna Moose
Re blog writing: “Post daily! Write ahead! Have a brainstorm list of 50 to 100 blog topics to write about!” From Stacey Kannenberg