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A Writer's Edge

English words, writing, and books--with a tech touch

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Name: Georganna Hancock
Location: San Diego, California, United States

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Personal Productivity Secrets

Writers get productive with organizationLisa Mills, over at the Work at Home Mom Revolution tagged me with a meme asking for secrets of personal productivity. I can see why she might be soliciting such tips as she mothers two teens and works as an online transcriptionist. I still work at home, too, but the mothering years are long gone. I think the best productivity tool I ever found was Stephen Covey's plan (book, organizer) of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Being organized is the key.

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Promote YOUR Book's Website

Writers need websites or blogs about their fiction and nonfiction booksWriters Weekly owner, Angela Hoy, counsels, "Don't put all your sales in one publisher's basket. Before your book goes up for sale, launch your own website or blog and always point potential buyers there." In the article, Promote Your OWN Website, Not Your Publisher's she argues that authors can benefit from having their books' separate websites in several ways: full control of where customers purchase, opportunities to track both visitors and royalties, ease of changing publishers or self-publishing when necessary, access to information for quick updates and instant corrections, persistence if the publisher vanishes, and promotion of upcoming editions or new publications.

I agree with all these reasons and add: information about your book is more easily indexed by search engines if it isn't buried in a huge publisher's website. There is no reason not to have a book promoted on more than one site/page, so make sure nothing in your contract forbids you doing this. O.K., I'll admit to also being a control freak, but in this case, having control of the promotion and sales of your books is beneficial.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Finding Phrases and Meanings

The actual title of the index (home) page for Phrases.org website is this unwieldy list: Meanings and origins of sayings and phrases List of sayings English sayings Idiom definitions Idiom examples Idiom origins List of idioms Idiom dictionary Meaning of idioms. Looks like an SEO specialist gone wild! It offers several interesting and useful tools for writers, including:

  1. The meanings and origins of over 1,200 English sayings, phrases and idioms
  2. Bulletin board with a forum and searchable archive of more than 50,000 postings about sayings and phrases
  3. The currently most popular phrases
  4. A phrase of the week you can receive by email or RSS
  5. A list of popular fallacies about phrases
  6. Basic search engine for phrases on the site and web

The list of The Nonsense Nine most popular phrases about which they receive bogus source information is fascinating. I found myself having fallen prey to one or more of them. Think you know the origin and/or true meaning of these?

1. The whole nine yards
2. Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey
3. POSH
4. The full monty
5. The real McCoy
6. Scot free
7. Golf
8. Raining cats and dogs
9. Dead ringer

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Book of the Future

Future authors may read books on this $100 laptop
Last month at the South by Southwest fest, attendees may have had a look at the book of the future. Brad King reported on it in Technology Review: Future of the Book: The $100 Laptop:

The laptop was small enough that you could tote it around, sit down under a tree with it, and start reading. When you're finished, you simply fold it up and carry it home.
The minicomp is being developed as part of the One Laptop per Child project of the faculty members at the MIT Media Lab. The Internet Archive will provide wireless access to 150,000 books in its Open Access Text Archive.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Awards for Digital Writing

Writers receive awards for online writingEarlier this year the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) gave out its first awards for digital productions by industry members. You can see lists of winners (with links) in an MPA Press Release. What I'd really like to see is a list of all entries. It looks like everybody and his dog won a prize with categories including Web-Only Tool, Online Community, Mobile Strategy (?), Podcast, Video, Blog and five kinds of Websites. Digital Awards.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Cliches and Euphemisms

Fiction and nonfiction writers must judge their writing and condemn cliches
When you're weeding the cliches out of your writing, nonfiction or the narrative parts of fiction, a handy list of euphemisms helps the task. I must admit that I've never heard of these, but they may be indigenous to the UK:

Bash the bishop
Change into your brown trousers
Gordon Bennett!
Not tonight Josephine
Ten one hundred
Wear your apron high

My apologies if some of the examples are a bit rude--many phrases in the list are vulgarisms--but I don't even know what these mean! Now, where is that email I had once from a man on the continent who was searching for a list of cliches?

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Get To The Top Of Search Engines

At the Pay-Per-Click Advertising Information website, Kim Beardsmore offers ten tips to Indirectly Get To The Top Of Search Engines. She says:

There are millions of web sites trying to get listed in the top 20 spots of the major search engines. That amounts to a lot of competition! I say if you can't get listed at the top, indirectly get to the top.
I say you need to be in the top ten, preferably the top three. The higher your website is in the returns, the better. And remember that a blog IS a website or at least a web page. Search engines treat them the same as any other website. Kim's tactics begin by using the search engine to find the top 20 sites with keywords and phrases people would use to find your web site. The simple solution would be to advertise on those sites. The more arduous, but free, fixes include:

* Participate on their discussion boards.
* Trade advertising with top sites
* Propose a cross promotion
* Take advantage of free links and ads pages

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to Sell a Book

After writing the book comes marketingThe most innovative and, perhaps controversial, book marketing website I've seen is Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You. It's a series of images that may load slowly if you have only a dialup Internet connection. Some people love the website's creativity, others complain that it says nothing about the book. I think it speaks reams about the author.

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Write Bestsellers

Writing fiction or nonfiction is a complicated business for authorsAuthors Dee Power and Brian Hill offer insights into ten surprising commonalities among writers who produce bestsellers in What Do Bestselling Authors Have In Common?:
  1. Perseverance Is Key
  2. They Write, And Write And Write
  3. They Like To Write And Write And Write
  4. Promotion Is Constant
  5. Marketing Is An Important Factor
  6. Fans Are An Important Asset
  7. The More Success The More Pressure
  8. They Faced A Key Turning Point
  9. They're Grateful
  10. There Is No Single Profile For A Bestselling Author
They point out that writing talent may not be the most important factor in determining a writer's success, something I've been harping on for a long time. It's a complicated business.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Solution for Writer's Block

Writers and editors get information from their directorsSearching around for a new slant on writer's block to post on the Orkut community I manage, I found Writers First Aid by Kristi Holl. She suggests that treatments for writer's block must fit the ailment. She says, "If you can't identify the origin of your block, treating it is impossible." One of the causes she lists is:

Critical childhood voices: those voices from the past that tell you you're not good enough, you're not creative, you're untalented, or lazy. They might have originated with parents, grandparents, caretakers, teachers, or siblings. While you may no longer hear actual voices in your head, you've incorporated their views of you somewhere along the way, and they crop up at the worst times for your writing. The resulting feelings of anger and self-doubt produce confusion, sap your motivation, and make you wonder if you should just throw in the towel.
Then I skated into Lisa Collazo's article "Writing Out the Gremlin" at the Creativity Portal. Gremlins are what she calls those inner critical voices that sometimes hold us back. Her solution is three-fold: identify, acknowledge and replace. That reminded me of an empowerment technique I learned years ago: we all arrive at adulthood with a mental "board of directors" to help us make decisions. The great part of being an adult is that you can fire anyone you please and appoint positive role models to your internal advisory panel. Determine who is holding you back and take action!

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Earth Day Mother

Celebrate Earth Day 2007Rachel Carson, a writer-scientist, may be considered the philosophical mother of the Earth Day movement (begun in 1970) with the publication of her seminal work, Silent Spring in 1962. I remember reading it right away. I started married life and homemaking in 1965 with a small library that included Carson's book. My peers in the late 60's thought me weird to want to prepare homemade baby food, use cloth diapers, and save water and trees. We moved to Florida, where I wrote about Pelican Island, and the remarkable comeback of the brown pelican from near extinction by DDT, as Carson had warned. That article was one of my first triumphs as a freelancer. By the 80's I went "back to the land", albeit with a microwave and convection oven, and entered my "earth mother" years with a yoga and tofu vengeance. Our organic garden and eggs were wonders (and very expensive). It has been satisfying to see others catch up to my weird ideas, and I can only hope it's not too late to save the earth from the disasters global warming brings (which Carson also predicted). Mother Earth is now the only mother I have, and I celebrate her.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Google Notebook

Writers can use Google Notebook to keep research notes for fiction and nonfiction writing and bloggingNow that the nasty Blogger people arbitrarily jerked my blog into the latest version of the software, I can no longer send clips to my account from other wesites with the "Send to" function in the Google Toolbar. Time to take another look at Google Notebook. A reference at Google Librarian Central announces the graduation of the productivity tool from Google Labs to a full-fledged writer's aide that can:

* Clip useful information. You can add clippings of text, images and links from web pages to your Google Notebook without ever leaving your browser window.

* Organize your notes.You can create multiple notebooks, divide them into sections, and drag-and-drop your notes to stay organized.

* Get access from anywhere. You can access your Google Notebooks from any computer by using your Google Accounts login.

* Publish your notebook. You can share your Google Notebook with the world by making it public.

I was more impressed with the testimonial given by Nancy Sharoff, a teacher in Ellenville, New York:

I'm using [Google Notebook] as my online notebook. I'm finding it particularly useful right now in conjunction with Google Groups. Since I receive posts in digest form and there's no way to single out a single post to refer to later, I simply copy/paste the post into the appropriate section of my notebook; things I want to look into further go into my 'Check It Out' section.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Catalog your books online

Writers can put books onlineYou can see the LibraryThing | Catalog your books online in action on Yuva's page with a post about the cataloging service. Look way down in the right column under the heading "Books" to see the LibraryThing listings displayed. Click on any book's title, and you'll be deep in beaucoup information on that tome at the LT website. Find a different way to show your catalog on Vikk Simmons' Down the Writer's Path under the heading "A Bibliophile's World: My Library", again in the right column. Vikk jumped on the LibraryThing bandwagon when I first mentioned the service, in 2005. My own catalog (nonexistent yet) becomes more pressing as books overflow the shelves, tables, rooms of my house. I must get rid of some of them, and I'm thinking of listing the texts and business books on iTextboox or possibly setting up a bookstore on eBay or listing them with another online service that sells used books. They run through my hands and house like water. A constant stream enters and disperses to various locations. Sometimes I feel like I'm only a conduit for the printed page.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Search Web 2.0

Writers can search for material and resourcesAccording to the French search website, YouVox: SearchTheWeb2 searches are "based on our collective intelligence ... exploits the interrogations of the Net surfers to accelerate a search: when a search is made, one finds on the screen the Google results plus a list of relevant search queries. The list was generated by other Net surfers and dynamically extracted from Google database. The intend of this list, according to the originators of this product, is to improve the performances of search (with the difference with other engines, they are not satisfied only to supply us the most popular, but also give us the rarest). If one takes again the example of Barney Pell, one finds well in the list of the proposals: "books on children" and "books for children" with a classification different from the answers."

The company itself explains that "The queries that people use daily to search online are called as people search language. Vocabulary use in people search language is simple and governed by power law with Zipf distributions. If a query is of two or three word long, it produces a series of relevant keywords with a head and a "the long tail". The head contains several popular terms while the long tail consists of many obscure keywords or longer phrases." []

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Creativity Exercise

San Diego author Georganna Hancock writes from near hereI'm sitting in a bagel shop looking down Murphy Canyon to the south side of Mission Valley (well-known landmark in San Diego). I can also see the edge of the Tierrasanta mesa, where I live, across I-15 and atop the eastern side of the canyon. I feel this location in my mind and imagine myself comfortably oriented. But what if I try to feel farther, farther than I can see?

Just below my view of Mission Valley runs I-8, the road east to Phoenix and Tuscon, where I feel connections to friends. And the other way lies the deep, dark Pacific Ocean. South is Baja, Mexico. I've been to the tip, but only as far north as San Francisco. That's about a thousand miles in both directions. I stretch my feelers out farther, to the places I've been abroad, locating myself on the earth. I have to visualize a globe to grasp the fullness of distances, reaching from here to Sydney, to Paris. Seems to leave half the world uncovered.

Still, I can feel myself, my location. I'm grounded. Because it is almost noon, imagining the earth's orientation toward the sun is also fairly easy, and the vernal equinox just passed, so the tilt of the planet seems within grasp. I lose it as soon as I consider my reference point (am I looking at the earth from the sun or from some other point in space?) Dizzy, spinning, the solar system whirls about, out of control. Stop! I tell myself. Come back to earth.

Writers in SpaceThis is where I always fail, trying to find an offworld viewpoint. Visualization and feeling end as I imagine plunging into the depths of space--or is it flying higher and higher? I would go mad trying to travel outside our solar system. Another notion ... space orientation sickness, perhaps an element for a science fiction story? It could be something like nitrogen narcosis (the diver's disease) more romantically termed "rapture of the deep". Hmm, rapture of deep space ...

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Self-Publishers Print Costs

Authors need to read Fine Print before self-publishing booksAccording to Mark Levine, a 200-page, 5.5 x 8.5 paperback, with a laminated, full color cover costs a self-publishing company about $3.90 (or less, given the volume of business they provide to printers). That includes $.015 per page and $.90 for the cover. In his book The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, Levine compares the cost to print such a book by six big publishers and calculates the profit they make on each book. iUniverse, Lulu.com, Outskirts Press, Trafford, Xlibris and Authorhouse pay $3.90 to print your book, but charge you, respectively, $10.37 (35% off retail price, for orders of 6-19 books), $8.53, $6.16 (when ordering publisher's $999 publishing package), $8.37, $13.19 and $9.71 per copy. Do you really think you could sell a paperback for the price it would take to recoup your cost? $8.99 is about the maximum the public will pay.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Postcards from Hell

Devil of a printer helps writers sell fictionPostcards from Hell: The First Thirteen:

Postcards from Hell are postcard-sized stories mailed once a week to your address. The stories are concise, brilliant glimpses of hell, like a door opened and then quickly shut.
It's a creepy way to sell your work and gain fame and glory, especially considering their pentagram of writers' guidelines.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Poetry Month 2007

To celebrate National Poetry Month in the US, I'm featuring Pudding House, a multi-faceted website for poets. It's also an unattractive, glitchy, old-fashioned design using frames technology; but as with rich old aunts, we'll take it because of the goodies it offers. Don't miss the section on how to market your traditional and self-published chapbook. It has competitions , publishes and maintains a national archive. Worth a look if you're a poet or want to read some poems. Celebrate poetry!

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Geo Tracking

New toy alert! I noticed an attractive revolving globe on some of the "foreign" blogs I visit through MyBlogLogs. Love the name of the company, GeoVisite.

Pick your preferred language by clicking on the teeny weeny itty bitty flags in the upper left corner of the page, under the phrase "Chosen language". Supposedly by including the code offered, you can display on your web page, a ticker or map or globe that shows the location of the IP address of your visitors. When I tried it, I got the same map for all the codes:

counter

It looks suspiciously like the map I had in the past. I want that globe! It's pretty. Unique. Even if the builders think it is masculine: "Geoglobe is also a successful tool of statistics, he books every guest who passes on your site." I'll try putting the Flash version of him in the left column, right above the MyBlogLog list, which seems appropriate, no? Eh? []

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Grammar Tips

Fiction and nonfiction writers need grammar resourcesSome people go ga-ga over Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. She's very plugged into a plethora of social networks. I find the sporadic posts rather dry, long and pedantic, but they are also available as podcasts. The right column lists resources (among the ubiquitous Web 2.0 widgets). She even offers a phone number, 206-338-GIRL, to which you can call your grammar questions. Additionally on the plus side, I like the fact that she sometimes lists reference material for the topic discussed.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Book Sense Winners

Book Sense award writers can celebrate2007 Book Sense Book of the Year Award Winners Announced:

Adult Fiction: Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen (Algonquin)
Adult Nonfiction: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron (Knopf)
Children's Literature: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Knopf)
Children's Illustrated: Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paul Kahumbu; photos by Peter Greste (Scholastic)

The number of women winning shows a nice trend!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Johnny Can't Write!

Students must learn to write better nonfiction for collegeIn yet another indictment of public education, professors in the California State University system are charging that students arrive at colleges unable to write (probably related to the fact that they still don't read well enough). Erin Goldin, director of the Writing Center, which provides tutoring at Cal State San Marcos, said, "A really common complaint from (college) faculty is students not being able to put together a complete sentence properly." A worse turn of events is that, "When students come in here, ... I try to explain the rules, but they don't seem to have learned the structure of a sentence." Not so important for creative writing, but how many students will make a living as poets, novelists or short story writers? The vast majority of writing is nonfiction, in which the ability to construct correct sentences and put them together coherently is of top importance.

The problems are complex, as are most social issues. Research by the ACT reveals a great disparity between what professors and K-12 teachers feel students graduating high school should know as preparation for higher education. In an effort to provide students with broad reviews of subjects, schools seem to have fallen into the "mile wide, inch deep" trap.

What can we do as writers, relatives of students, citizens who fund public schools? One suggestion I have is to give college-bound students deeper training and exposure to the areas of importance for higher studies. We can demand our states change the content standards to match the realities of college work. Any "writer in residence" program" can include experiences with more practical writing skills. What are your ideas to help the situation?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Idea Generator for Writers

Phrasefinder is a small company based in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom. It owns the Phrase Thesaurus service, a searchable database of phrases. The company allows access via online subscriptions. How the project came to be:
Writers need ideas
The Phrase Thesaurus product was developed as part of a computational linguistics project that ran at Sheffield Hallam University from 1997 to 2001. The database was transferred to a commercial server in Nov 2001. That research also produced the Phrase Finder website which provides public access to the meanings and origins of many phrases and sayings in English.
They also indicate that professional writers, language lovers, journalists, advertising copywriters and songwriters find this online thesaurus an invaluable resource when looking for that elusive turn of phrase. You can try out limited sets of one or two-word phrases to see some results for free.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Writing Heads & Titles

bad hed for website or blogCNET's Elinor Mills notes that "Pithy, witty and provocative headlines--the pride of many an editor--are often useless and even counterproductive in getting the Web page ranked high in search engines" in Newspapers search for Web headline magic. Print headlines are routinely modified when stories are added to paper's websites, and many hed (journalism jargon: headline) writers now receive SEO (search engine optimization) training. The article is part of a series with many useful tips. Poynter's News U Access blog summarized fixes thus:

* Use descriptive keywords in the headline
* Use similarly descriptive terms in the title tag
* Take advantage of online tools for suggesting alternatives: Google AdWords, WordTracker.com or KeywordDiscovery.com
And John Foster of the Idaho Business Review describes in a comment how that paper went online and shot up in Google:

On the web, the headline and subhed (critical for us was making both of them part of the URL) are really your old-school news lede. The descriptive, witty, engaging nut graph is now your lede. It's worked very well for us. Once a week or so we'll have the top story on a Google News hit, ahead of papers 100 times our size.
There's no reason the rest of us publishers can't use the same techniques on our blogs and websites to gain Google juice for our productions.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blog of the Day Award

BOTD awards great blogsSeen this website? Nice background, huh? Here's a testimonial from a winner about the power of the prize, by wallysmalls:

Blog of the Day Awards ... are a great way for your blog to be noticed. My blog, The Jack Sack (http://thejacksack.blogspot.com) won the award just a couple of days ago and I've seen a nice bump in my site's traffic. To be eligible, your blog must be nominated via the Blog of the Day Award's site. The instructions are extremely simple. Good luck!

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Writers Balance

Writers seek balance in their writing livesJen at "so you wannabee a Domestik Goddess?" tagged me with the meme "How do you maintain balance in your life?" Ordinarily I don't write much about my personal life in this blog. I save those ramblings for 100 Bloggers. I wondered if this meme about balance, specifically for writers, might allow me to share anything useful to other writers? When I was raising a child, both married and alone, my writing was a problem. Because I had a very unsupportive partner, I had to shoehorn it into all the services performed for others. Now, gazing through the glaring headlights of hindsight, I know I made a deep mistake.

Until recent years I struggled for balance, seldom achieved it, probably because it is a living process of feedback loops and corrections. I'm one whose psychological pendulum naturally swung wide. "Too sensitive!" became the perjorative hurled my way. Coincidentally, my astrological sign is Libra, the scales! Gradually most other responsibilities slipped out of my life, and I've let them go. Fate forced me to focus on another career for a decade, but eventually that ended in early 2001, allowing me to return to commercial writing, editing and helping others get their books published.

Then I was in a position to allow writing to take over my life as much as I wanted. Granted, in 2006 the sudden death of my mother and breast cancer slowed me down. I am, indeed, living in the end times. I feel I have achieved balance at last regarding my life sub specie aeternitatis, a Latin phrase I learned as an adolescent. Looking at events "under the aspect of eternity" or with a cosmic view provides the perspective to see balance achieved. That which was denied to me earlier is now available in abundance, and I am at peace.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Siteless Online Advertising

According to Google AdWords Help Center:

Writers can run ads even without websitesSmall businesses without a website can create hosted business pages so potential customers may find information about the products and services offered by the business. When new advertisers sign up for AdWords through the Starter Edition, they're offered the chance to create a free hosted business page.

Hosted business pages are quick and easy -- no knowledge of HTML or programming is required. The webpage is available almost immediately once the advertiser starts running an AdWords campaign. Keep in mind that hosted business pages are accessible only through links on AdWords ads.
I'm thinking this is perfect for the writer with one note (one book, one service) and no desire to maintain a website, but who wants to take advantage of the power of Internet advertising. I haven't tried setting one up yet, but I wonder if when the page is displayed, you could scrape the source code and use it later on? The "Starter Edition" of AdWords is a simplified version in which only text ads and keyword targeting are allowed and only one ad campaign is possible. Advanced features like conversion tracking, multiple campaigns and ad groups are found only in what Google now calls the "Standard Edition", very complex but powerful. They won't let you go backwards, either, but you can convert a toe-wetting Starter experience into the full Monty.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Delexa

When you're trying to spiff up your website in the search engine rankings, you can use Delexa to see the ranking of domains by topics. The free service "is a web analytics tool combining the top 50,000 U.S. websites with their topic tags, using data from del.icio.us and Alexa. Use it to discover the most trafficked sites for any topic of interest, such as 'videos' or 'education', or by url, such as bookrags.com or seomoz.org." Think Web 2.0 mashup. See the FAQ for more info on how it works and what it does. Although I still doubt the usefulness of Alexa rankings (it only counts hits by people who have the Alexa tool bar installed and active), I tried out Delexa's results on Writer's Edge. I found the following listing of a tag cloud for this site (tags del.icio.us users gave it):

A Writer's Edge tag cloud listing

I'm thinking that to boost this site's Page Rank, which Delexa says should reach all of six (When? Oh, Lord!), I'd search for sites higher ranking higher on those keywords to pester for links. Unfortunately, I don't do pester well.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

SFFY (slash/femmeslash/yaoi/yuri) Genre

Georganna finds a new writing genre, SFFYAre you a fan of manga or anime? It's kind of cartoons or comics for adults. I stick with the kiddie corn I find on Saturday morning TV, about which Bonnie at Ballpoint Wren will no doubt lash me with a word or two. I don't remember how, poking about Live Journal, I found the following kinkier version, SFFY. I learned it is related, however, by following links on the website:

origslash_news: Market Report for January 2007 (Installment 2):

What is slash/femmeslash/yaoi/yuri? Slash and yaoi (male/male) and femmeslash and yuri (female/female) are genres of literature and art featuring same-sex attraction. Slash and femmeslash (also spelled femslash) originated in the West, while yaoi and yuri originated in Japan but is now also created in the West. These genres are noteworthy for their strong emphasis on the emotional connection - good or bad - between the characters. Some of these works take the form of fan fiction, but this market report is only about original (non-fan) fiction.
One of the links I followed lead to Yaoi Suki, a colorful and illuminating (to me) women's website about juvenile homoerotic fiction (boy/boy). It took me the longest time to recognize that the logo is two people kissing.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Medieval Rescue

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana FranklinJust in time, Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death arrived to rescue me from the boredom of Bill Napier's Nemesis and the tedium of studying Dr. Atkins' new diet revolution. Despite the cover copy, I think this novel far more resembles a middle ages' Criminal Minds than CSI. Oh, sure, sure there's some blood and gore upon the floor and minimal poking about dead people's innards. But more efforts are expended on solving the serial murder mystery, though, and attempting to psych out the culprit. Usually I've read about this era in nonfiction works, and everything I know about it rang true in Franklin's book, a middle ages feminist murder mystery. What more could I want?

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Speed Linking

Blog writers rush to the fire exitAndy Beard's article on Speed Linking Slow Linking provides fodder for mental mastication. At first I was nodding my head in agreement that I, too, hate those newsletters and blog posts that display a teaser and then the word more linked to the rest of the article. I recognize it as a marketing technique, a blatant one, but it annoys me so much that I'm inclined often to drop the publication. Then Beard equated Speed Linking with Bad Blogging, and some of the points he made had me squirming a bit, especially the parts about adding value to someone else's content. *hand rises tentatively* Guilty. I tend to refer readers to other blogs and websites and services I think might be useful (or occasionally amusing), but I think I fall down on the job of explaining why. Probably viewers would be better served if I contributed more thoughtful comments around the links, avoiding the type Beard calls the "Fire Exit".

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Writing Software

Add Writeboard to Glypho and Writely, mentioned here last year, and the newer Google Docs by you-know-who. I'm noticing more people on forums using it to post their works for critiques, as well as collaborative writing like Writeboard was designed to handle. Google suggests other uses:

Share and edit with Google Docs & Spreadsheets

We launched Google Docs & Spreadsheets, an online word processor and spreadsheet editor that lets you to create, store and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets in real time. If you or your patrons know how to use any word processing or spreadsheet editing program, you can easily use Google Docs & Spreadsheets. It's great for your library users, since they can work on writing and research without having to save files to a disk; all of their work is stored safely online, and can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection. It's as simple as checking email. Google Docs & Spreadsheets is free and supports all standard formats - DOC, XLS, OpenOffice and more - so you can upload and edit documents and spreadsheets you've created using other programs. And in response to users' requests, we recently updated the spell check feature so you can check your documents in more than 30 languages.

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fool Hoax & Joke

Was the writer a fool for passing off nonfiction as fiction?Writers sometimes write a novel and pass it off as a nonfiction bookThe joke was on Clifford Irving when he wrote a novel about Howard Hughes and sold it to McGraw-Hill publishers as a biography. What began as intellectual one-upsmanship ended in prison. Unfortunately Irving's assistant and wife were also punished for his hubris. Hollywood has seen a great story opportunity and made a movie, not of Irving's bogus biography, but of the book he wrote later. Hoax stars Richard Gere as the jokester, Irving, who declared on CBS this morning that the movie plot is mostly fake. What's the public to believe? In the eternal wisdom of Jewish comedians, "Enjoy! Enjoy!"

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