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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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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Google Wave Tweets

Read these from the bottom up. My tweets as I watched the whole YouTube video. Blew. Me. Away.
  1. Google Wave blog at has only just begun. All this probably makes little sense to my writing Tweeps. Trust me, it's BIG!
  2. tweeted too soon. "Tweetie" or "Tweety" creates the TWAVES.
  3. goes, aaaaawwww! "TWAVE", a Google WAVE of Twitter. How tweet! Oh, there is also "Polly" the form-building pollster in WAVE.
  4. wonders why developers insist on giving useful server-side robots/extensions silly names like "bloggy", "linky" and "spelly"? Gack!
  5. predicts a flood of heavenly new apps, based on Google's
    API *did that work?*
  6. finds out more about Google WAVE at Have I died? Is this heaven? Live collaborative editing? #editorchat
  7. OMG! Check this video out -- Google Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009

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Cat Writer Production

Cat Writer Productions

From Cat Boxes comics.


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Friday, May 29, 2009

Digital Writing Technology

I receive many newsletters about writing and scan them for gems to pass along to readers of A Writer's Edge. Think of it as a concentrated knowledge pill that takes you to the edge of the writing universe. (Trying out branding phrases.)

A couple recent items on digital productions caught my eye:

From Marg McAllister's May 21 Writing4Success Club Tip Sheet No 154 - Writing and Selling Your Own E-Course. Ms. McAllister, who writes and practices in Australia, suggests:

Lots of people with a hobby or special interest have thought about starting up a newsletter or a blog, and this is an excellent way to attract a following. However, if you really know what you're talking about, then you could turn your knowledge into a nice little business - by writing an e-course on it. Or ever a series of e-courses.
She elaborates on the four steps necessary for a successful e-course:

1. WRITE the course
2. put your course ONLINE
3. PROMOTE your course
4. DELIVER your course
The entire article is available at online. No reason why your e-course couldn't be an e-book, too.

From the LNJDawson May 27 The Big Picture newsletter:

Scribd has been getting a lot of press lately after opening its e-bookstore. Authors can upload their titles and reap an 80% royalty (as opposed to Amazon's Kindle store, which forks over merely 30%). What I find most interesting about Scribd's model, however, is how it sells books by the chapter. This is a manifestation of what we've been predicting in the StartwithXML project.

A little over a year ago, Smashwords went live. An e-bookstore that also offers authors an 80% royalty, Smashwords distributes to multiple platforms, offering many formats: ePub, .mobi, PDF, LRF, RTF and plain text. So Smashwords books can be read on the iPhone, Kindle, desktop, and Sony Reader.

These are more places to sell your book as an eBook, unless your contract prohibits such activities. Also, a little birdie told me that now you can publish through Lulu and maybe have your product listed on Amazon by Lulu!

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kindle 2 Lighted Folio

Isn't this Periscope Lighted Folio for the Kindle 2 just the cutest outfit?

Periscope Lighted Folio for the Amazon Kindle 2
Technical Details:

* Built-in Twin Super Bright LED Retractable Reading Light
* Deluxe Leatherette Cover with Secure Magnetic Strap
* 4 elastic straps allow access to all controls and jacks while safely holding your Kindle 2 inside
* Left side cover can be folded behind the Kindle and locked in place with magnetic snap to facilitate one-handed use
* Note Pad and Pen Holder
* Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 1.2 x 7.2 inches ; 13 ounces
* Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
* ASIN: B00279VK9W
* Item model number: 90856

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Frugal Freelancing

How writers can save moneyCut expenses if you can't cut the layoffs, consolidations, foldings, staplings and mutilations of the writing world. In other words, no pay = no play. No income must mean no outgo. Don't be tempted to live on a charge card. That way leads not only to madness, Madam, but also to bankruptcy and/or a lousy credit rating.

The mainline surgery I performed was to give up cable TV. It was the only service I could not justify as being necessary for my work. A combination of the federal coupon and a sale at Fry's provided a DTV converter for only $10. I can still watch my NBC faves, Fox, and PBS. Now I have more time to attack that stack of books needing reading and reviewing.

Disengaging myself from cable TV provided the moment to consider devolving from using a top speed cable modem connection. I reduced bandwidth to the minimum, 1.5 Mbps, same as the lowest DSL or whatever it is that ATT now offers. Mmm. Problems. I could boot it up to 3 Mbps (theoretically) connection for the same cost with ATT. Isn't "U-Verse" really still DSL?


Another cost-holding measure is to continue using my 15-year-old HP LaserJet printer. I've always recycled paper (print on both sides). Most printing is for my own use these days. If I need something to look good, I email the doc to the UPS store a block away. By the time I walk across the boulevard, my pages are nicely printed.

Earlier in the year, I dropped membership in an organization that just wasn't paying off in terms of providing jobs or clients or even contacts that provided leads. Prune your social/business activities to the most productive ones, even if it means taking a year off the fun ones. Take a similar path with any advertising you may have running. If it doesn't pay, don't you pay. Some tests are valid for a week, a month, and others for a year. Don't keep hanging on to the losers, even if it's supporting a favorite cause. Paying your expenses is usually more important than any movement.

A different tack from dropping out is to take up something new, especially if the cost is zip. This year I started producing a brief periodical and plunged into LinkedIn and Twitter. The year isn't half over and I have connections with many, many more potential opportunities. The cross-pollination between Twitter and LinkedIn is fabulous. With the Inspiration mailing, I'm slowly building a group of people who are exposed to my thinking, my help, and my advertising.

Will you share your best cost-cutting measures for freelancers?

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Attributor Sniffs Plagiarism

Remember the rant about sites "stealing" the news from wire services and news providers? Solutions are at hand. Forbes calls them "Content Cops" for newspapers going digital. I looked into Attributor, which works like this:

Of course, it's not enough just to let you know who's been ripping off your stuff. The company provides a plethora of services for tracking and noting uses, especially where ad revenue is concerned and might be lost to the originator. Oh, I can so relate! Remember the time I found this blog scraped to a portal that displayed its own Google advertising around my work? Or the articles scraped from the "Article Marketing" directories, minus the valuable links? Attributor to the rescue:

Links are part of the attribution you are entitled to from sites that copy your content. Here’s how we help build links to your site: First, we identify all pages copying your content but don’t link back to your original article. Next, we automate the request process so you can send Link Requests to all sites that fail to link to you. The end result? More traffic to your site through the links that you secure plus improved rankings with the top search engines.
No more tracking, clicking, checking registries, creating DMCA notices, etc. You can use Attributor to send Removal Notices to unauthorized sites, the companies hosting their content as well as the search engines and ad networks.

Attributor is for anyone who wants to know how, when and where their content is copied across the Web and provides insights for syndication, marketing, and editorial choices. You can use the information to offer licenses, request links, and institute removals, all automated. An impressive list of customers already use the service. Check out the white paper and video demo.


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sites to Help Writers on Web 2.0

Visionary Blogging: Helping you use blogs and social media more intelligently -- a must read blog for anyone intent on using the Internet to promote careers, products, services.

SpringWidgets : Widgets, MySpace Profile Gadgets, Social Network Countdown Badges & RSS Feed Readers: You can create an RSS reader with multiple feeds; badges for your profile on social networks such as MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo; countdown application widgets and other cool gadgets for your blog -- services galore for the blogger and more!

Tweeple, We Hardly Knew You: users with a bio have 8 times the number of followers than those without a bio. Profiles with web links had 7.5 times the number of followers compared to those without links -- article on using social media for career promotion/book sales/contracts/contacts with suggestions for the bare minimum of what to include in Twitter (and other) profiles.

Effective Internet Presence guru Ted Demopoulos gives away an eBook of his wisdom on the subject: If you don't exist on the Web or the search engines can't find you, you basically don't exist! -- available soon from A Writer's Edge.

Excuse me, I need to build an AWE badge and write something a little more intelligent and effective for my Twitter profile @GLHancock

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Monday, May 25, 2009

May Reads, or may not

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Memorial Day for Writers

American "Decoration Day" has morphed into "Memorial Day." People once flocked to cemeteries to decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers, abundant at the end of May. We could not help but think then of our recent and long-gone family members and friends. Some people don't want to recall their roots. They have worked hard to overcome the influences of dysfunctional dynasties or just plain rot.

I suggest that they are still who you are. Members of your family of origin are the characters who people your fiction and color your views of facts gathered for nonfiction. It is those people through whom your feelings are filtered every time you pen a poem. It won't hurt the person you've become to pause a moment and think about where you became from, recall who you've evolved through.

Thinking over old family stories, even the painful ones, can spark your writing career and provide insight to ongoing personal struggles. It wasn't until my mother's death almost exactly three years ago, that I glimpsed a fuller view of my personality's genesis. These are elements that make us writers and form our writing, worthy of remembering, if only once a year.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Author Bites Reviewer

Sometimes miffed authors take umbrage with New York Times reviewers. Finding a response to a review on was a surprise. Take a look at the review of Book Review: Let Me Eat Cake by Leslie F. Miller and see if the first comment seems justified. I'll wait while you read ... Hmmm. Hm, hm, hmmmm, hm, hm. I sound like a locust tree, the mock oranges, or my lavender bush. These days in SoCal, the bees are sooooo busy. You know what they say about a humming tree, don't you?

Back from Blog Critics? Well? How about my response. I did reread the review--hardly one of my finest. Any mix of scholarly research with gossip and college days memoirs is bound to be hard to characterize. It is quite difficult to get a handle on what might better be two or three creative projects, one of them attempted on a stage late at night. Mee Yow!

I just hopped over to the Amazon page for this book and scanned the customer reviews. I see that my response was pretty mild! When I dutifully checked in with the author's handler at the publisher, she was surprised and thanked me for "graciously handling" Miller's little snit. We are amused, but scarcely moved toward any effort to accomplish a print version. I only mentioned it here to proffer a sweet insider tidbit for my cupcakes readers.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Making Rounds, Social Overload

"Making the rounds" holds various connotations, depending on whether you're a doctor, drunk, boxer, reporter, or intrepid onliner. I made up that last one because I can't think what to call that burgeoning aspect of my life. Virtual life has become real life for many of us.

When I worked for a large health care organization, I qualified to attend "Grand Rounds." I had visions of trailing along with interns through hospital wards. Instead, I sat through a presentation about the growing threat of tuberculosis. First and last Grand Rounds.

As a news reporter, making the rounds meant that early in the morning I visited city hall, the police station, the county offices, and the high sheriff to pick up news releases, copy information from any public documents filed or business conducted since the previous morning, and collect tips from informants. Fortunately funeral homes phoned in obituaries, and medical information was private, so those stops were omitted. Then I went to work.

Now I hit my email, blog, Twitter, and accounts at MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog. Each usually involves further actions that glue me to my desk chair, sometimes for hours. Twitter, especially, has tipped making rounds into Web 2.0verload. Am I too, too polite for acknowledging each person who signs up to "follow"? I must look at their information anyway to see if it is someone I want to follow (no, that's is not automatic with me--another social media faux pas?)

Likewise, I try to acknowledge every type of contact that someone makes with my accounts at MBL and BC. Sometimes I trip over myself, posting in haste only to find I have already acknowledged a contact because it appears in the list of visitors to the blog AND I receive an email from the services or find new faces in my accounts as members joining my groups. With one of these hitting 400 members, is it any wonder that I forget now and then? How do the "biggies" manage thousands of followers and daily contacts?

We have a new disease, Social Overload, to add to Blogger's Brain. BB occurs when you post so much that your mind is always in posting mode, moderating all sensory input into a media message. Where's that wireless brain-to-Twitter link? Oh, right! They haven't developed one for blogs either! C'mon technology, I'm way ahead of you this time.

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Comic Shakespeare


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Friday, May 22, 2009

Reading for Writers

writer readingMost advice for writers says to read. Seldom does it say what or how. Yeah, reading everything that passes before your eyes is helpful, because you can learn from others' mistakes (if you notice them and can analyze what they've done wrong). For those with limited reading time, it is crucial to focus on reading items that will enhance a career and improve writing.

Read, read, read, read (ad nauseum). Read about writing, small business, technology that helps your career, and especially read good examples of the kind of writing you want to do. Learn to read those examples with a critical eye so you can learn from them. Keep reading the markets you want to enter or remain in to keep up with their trends. Editors aren't going to email you with the changes they are making, unless you are a columnist or regular contributor. You might learn about some changes if your reading includes industry publications like Publishers Weekly or MediaBistro.

Creative writers need to read the best examples of writing in their fields. Consider reading every piece at least twice: once noting what gives you pleasure in the work, and the second time a critical read for analysis. I like to read pieces a third time, for pleasure but with the analysis in mind, so I can see how different techniques work.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Twitter Crossover Fiction

Some time ago I wrote about the popularity of Japanese novels scraped from chat rooms and read on cell phones. Now it's come to Twitter (which people access on cell phones, too). Barry Yourgrau's piece on Salon explains:

Keitai shosetsu, the so-called cellphone novel, has been touted (in the pages of the New Yorker, among other places) and reviled (by Japanese literati) as the first narrative mode of the txt msg age -- the herald of a written-word future bent by wireless telecom's powers.
Enthralled by the medium, Yourgrau has experimented with a variety of short fiction. Now he thinks Twitter is ripe for such a crossover, partly due to the fact that it is not a teenage phenomenon:

Social interactivity is again a key; doubtless many (most?) users are drawn merely by the possible thrill of Tweeting with undisguised celebs. But beyond this there's emerging energy in the creative potential of Twitter's 140-character micro-format. (Quillpill, one of the new U.S. "cellphone novel" Web sites, also uses a 140-character per post limit.)
Hey, I'd like to see a synopsis of my daily soap, Days of our Lives, in the lower right corner of my Foxfire screen. Hear me, NBC!

There is the "Twiller" movement (Twitter thrillers) and "Twitter Wit" and "wine blogger Gary Vaynerchuk, whose now 300,000-plus Twitter following got him a million-dollar deal. But the Twitter-to-book route is still in infancy." Yourgrau offers three original keitai shosetsu from "I-Mode Stories", but greater value, I think, is the information available in the responses to the article.

Ladies and gentlemen, load your loglines!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Abbreviation, Acronym, Mnemonic

The first two are both mnemonics, aids to memory and made-up words that stand for a longer name or description. When referring to the National Broadcasting Corporation, written as NBC, we are using an abbreviation. Sonar, on the other hand, is an acronym composed of letters from the description -- so(und) na(vigation and) r(anging), a method for echolocation.

So what? Aside from settling bar bets and as an aid to understanding crossword puzzle clues, writers need to be aware of three items concerning the use of mnemonics:

1. don't confuse acronyms with proper names (LASER & Lazar)
2. use a lowercase s to form plurals (LASERs)
3. spell out the word the first time it is used, then enclose the mnemonic in parentheses like this: frequency modulation (FM)

The third usually applies to academic writing. These tips come from the Hypertext Guide to English Grammar, Mechanics, and Usage Rules at Virginia Tech/Norfolk State University.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Top Women in Book Publishing

Book Business magazine lists 50 Top Women in Book Publishing, with interesting information about them. Each honored woman offers a "best tip for succeeding in book publishing."

Thanks to Pat Gundry for bringing this to my attention. She's the list Mom for Publish-L and a woman who is tops on my list!

I was especially taken with the quote from Dominique Raccah, Founder, President and Publisher, Sourcebooks, the largest woman-owned trade book publisher in the country:

The most important thing to remember is that you’re not actually in the book publishing business. You’re in the business of building authors’ careers and connecting those authors to readers. Be amazing! Books change lives.


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Kill My Poem, Kill Me

Remember the article about What Is An Editor? I checked back with Quiche Moraine to see what's happening with that group of writers and found Mike Haubrich's poignant Writing as a Release and a Chore. It contains a horrific (to me) foray into his experience with a spouse who destroyed his poems.

This is an act that is unthinkable for me. I had a spouse who was utterly indifferent to most of my creative efforts, but I never had a whiff of fear that he might ruin any of it. Of course, I never dreamed he would walk out on such a long term relationship, or that terrorists would fly planes into the Twin Towers, or all the other traumatizing events I've experienced. Life continues to surprise me, jaded and ancient as I am.

If your life partner was so jealous or whatever of your creative endeavors that he or she irrevocably vanished them, what would you do? My first reaction would be to find a heavy, blunt object and give into the searing, blind rage. Maybe others are more mature or less involved with their endeavors, but my writing is me. Is poetry a special case? I do seem to feel more strongly about that than any other of my endeavors.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Amazon Publishing Encores

Publishers have a new competitor in Amazon (in addition to the self-publishing options available with the Kindle). Rachael Deahl reported last Thursday in Publishers Weekly that Amazon Launches Publishing Program. In addition to the hardcover, Amazon will release Legacy as an audiobook (through Audible) and as an e-book (as a Kindle edition).

The imprint called Encore specifically targets previously self-published and perhaps out of print books. It begins with the improbable Legacy written by 16-year-old Cayla Kluver, and published with the help of her mother. The ambitious midwesterners call their publishing company Forsooth.


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Huffpo Wants You to Pay

"Jumpstart Your Career in the Blogsphere With An Eye Opening Internship at The Huffington Post in New York or Washington"

After promoting Writers Worth Day yesterday, I couldn't resist a sadly amusing follow-up about the rich blogger wannabee who has bid $13,000 for an internship at the Huffington Post. I'm not kidding! The digipub, according to Nat Ives at the Silicon Alley:

features tons of content generated free by bloggers and celebrities just happy to have a platform. HuffPo did recently start a fund to employ some laid-off investigative reporters, but the company thrives primarily on "citizen" journalism and news that other outlets spend money reporting.
In a cogent comment at Bloggasm, Simon Owens opined:

I know that this is for a charity and so I’m perhaps being too cynical, but given that Huffington Post has raised over $25 million in seed money so that it can continue to profit off the work of thousands of unpaid “citizen journalists,” you would think they could afford to just write a check for the damn $13,000.
Interested in paying to be a writer? You have until May 28, 2009 at 1:16:00 PM EDT to place your bid. If you do -- SUX 2 B U!

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Writers Worth Day Pledge

Today is the second annual Writers Worth Day. This online event is the brainchild of Lori Widmer, a Philadelphia-based writer and editor, who blogs at Words on the Page. The campaign is designed to promote the fair market value of writers through education, awareness, and ongoing support.

The devaluation of writing in the last ten years is appalling. Payment of a penny a word (or even less!) is worth so much incredibly less than it was when I began freelancing around 1970 when it was the standard starting rate. At that time, one cent bought a piece of bubble gum, thirty of them, a pack of cigarettes for the day. You could probably get a cup of coffee for that amount, too. Just consider the expense now for a trip to Starbucks or even the McCafe, if you please.

Low-pay--or even no pay--writing jobs are an insult. Clients who offer those jobs are guilty of abusing struggling beginners and exploiting poor populations. Writers who continue supporting such clients are just as guilty, dragging down the average pay--and value--of us all. If you persist writing for less and less, what happens to the upper end of the scale? When will you ever be able to support yourself by writing?

Take the pledge with me:
I will respect the craft of writing and neither offer nor accept work with unreasonably low compensation.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

More from 2666 Author?

Remember my rants earlier this year about Robert Bolaño's 2666, National Book Critics Circle winner for fiction? If not, see the posts listed below:

Notes while reading the book
How I got into this

"What now, Georganna?" I hear someone sigh. I'm growing skeptical, but I've seen reports of "newly discovered" Bolaño manuscripts: an older novel, short stories(?), even a sixth section for 2666, a five-part novel already 895 pp. long and directed by the dying author to be published individually.

Follow this: quirky foreign author dies. His quirky last work, legacy to his family, comes out, wins a prestigious American award. Voilà! New works come to light. Sure. Oh, and the estate changed literary agents before this.

See NYT archives page for older information. For recent developments, see The Guardian and The Skinny. On the bright side, translations of more Bolaño works can only stir up interest in producing English versions of other literature. We all win!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tell Writers They Are Special

This is Writers Worth Week. I just made that up so that I could refer to Lori Widmer's May 15 special Writers Worth Day. I'm designing a pledge for us all to take. In the meantime, I love Ana's suggestions for Ways To Tell A Writer They Are Special. The whole list is at her blog, The Writer Today. My faves:

  • Buy them a Kindle
  • Take over a time consuming task
  • Pay for a day at the spa
Many of her suggestions are appropriate for Mother's Day, which began this Writers Worth Week. Give a mother-writer a belated, but more personal and targeted, surprise second gift. One on Ana's list is a super no-cost item that we all can appreciate every day: Provide moral support whenever they need it. Give yourself a free weekly motivational message from A Writer's Edge: Email requests for Inspiration or sign up in the form at the top of the webpage.


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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Georganna Hancock (GLHancock) on Twitter

Georganna Hancock (GLHancock) on Twitter: "Writers Worth Day May 15—No more nickel and dime writing: good publishers pay writers what they’re worth; good writers don’t accept less!about 1 hour ago from TwitterFox"

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Writers Born on May 12

  • Nonsense poet Edward Lear (1812; d.1888)
  • Pre-Raphaelite poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti nee Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti (1828; 1882)
  • Singapore-born mystery writer, creator of Simon Templar (The Saint), Leslie Charteris nee Leslie Charles Bowyer Yin (1907)
  • Alabama native, African American novelist and essayist Albert L. Murray (1916), who incorporated a blues aesthetic into his novels
  • writer of animal stories Farley Mowat (1921)
  • Philadelphia-born novelist and poet Rosellen Brown (1939)

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Anti-Tobacco Ad Mondegreen

Mondegreens, tells us, is a "series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. [After (Lady) Mondegreen, a misinterpretation of the line (hae laid) him on the green, from the song “The Bonny Earl of Murray”.] Children come up with some good ones when learning the Pledge of Allegiance or the Star Spangled Banner.

More on the mondegreen in a moment. Listening to advertising increasingly violates my intelligence. Yes, yes, the Mad Men are trying to cram the most into less time, now 10-second spots.

So, as I drowse through breaks in Days of Our Lives, I hear "Friskies wet indoor cat food". Two seconds later the phrase registers, stirs up all sorts of questions concerning wet cats and feeding cats outdoors. I don't hear any more of the advertising for the next 7.5 minutes because I'm trying to remember the humorous flap that made the rounds of Mensa newsletters many years ago. I think it was a campaign by 9 Lives brand cat food to collect can labels to trade for merchandise, as was once done with cigarette wrappers. But the 9 Lives people persisted in calling it the "9 Live Soft Moist Coupon Offer". Yeah, we said, but collecting those soft, moist coupons made such a mess.

Currently I listen to the latest TV spots aimed at preventing underage smoking. It's a hodge-podge of images and sounds that don't quite make sense, even when I try to think like an ad designer. The part that ties back to the beginning of this article comes as a singing voiceover at the beginning of the spot. A gentle mother's voice croons a familiar lullaby by Brahams, Lullaby and Goodnight. It has several verses, but most people know just the first:

Lullaby, and good night,
With pink roses bedight,
With lilies o'erspread,
Is my baby's sweet head.
Lay thee down now, and rest,
May thy slumber be blessed.
Lay thee down now, and rest,
May thy slumber be blessed.

However, the female voice sings the second line as "With pink roses bed light," The baby's bed or cradle is bedecked with lilies and roses, unlike my poor troll's baby buggy. Yes, it is insignificant, but how I spend the days of my life. Amused and sad.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

NYT, IHT, PW Zap Links, Lives

Now this is just plain scary: NYT-IHT and PW link zaps, today's post by David Rothman at TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home. Careers are deleted as The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The International Herald Tribune are erasing or changing links and even pulling articles by former writers.

Sooo....maybe my little hissy fit about the NYT broken link to my post wasn't so paranoid after all. They are out to get me--an it's my own family members! It chills me to recall what I wrote, all unknowing, just last month:
My paranoid side suggests they deliberately mangled the link because I criticized Times' policy.
It also plays havoc with Wikipedia links, Rothman points out [that's a bad thing?] See Thomas Crampton's piece on this. Rothman asks:
Is the above a preview of the damage that Google and Amazon could do someday to e-books when interbook linking becomes common but profit motives and corporate politics win out?
More chills and shivers.

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Mother's Day Poet's Birthday

  • May 10
    • Arizona-born African-American jazz and performance poet Jayne Cortez (1936), whose poetry is concerned with racial injustice and political oppression


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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Readers Experience

Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum

Unshelved comic strip for Sunday, November 27, 2005
Unshelved is a daily comic strip about a library. At you can read the complete archive, buy stuff, or get Unshelved every day for free by Email, RSS feed, and LiveJournal. This is for my book club, which just read a Bryson book, and now we all feel like we've trekked Australia.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Writers' Birthdays May 8

  • children and YA author Irene Hunt (1907; d.2001)
  • Harlem-raised writer of juvenile biographies of black figures Louise Meriwether (1923); she also wrote the acclaimed semi-autobiographical Daddy Was A Numbers Runner (1970)
  • San-Francisco-born Pulitzer-prize winning poet Gary Snyder (1930)
  • NY-born novelist Thomas (Ruggles) Pynchon (1937)
  • NYC-born novelist, author of Jaws and grandson of humourist Robert Benchley, Peter Benchley (1940; d.2006)
  • Mississippi-born playwright Beth Henley aka Elizabeth Becker (1952), who authored 'Crimes of the Heart'


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Worthy Writing Celebrated

Lori Widmer, a freelancer who blogs at Words on the Page, has declared May 15 to be Writers Worth Day. We will protest the ubiquitous devaluation of writers' works by publications seeking to pay even less than a penny a word and amateur writers who take those jobs. See the beginning of Lori's campaign at Words on the Page: Worthy Activities

She's also started a series of posts with tips for getting paid what you're worth:

Beware the Bargain Shopper
Spotting a Raw Deal
Getting Involved in Your Career
Although it has been several decades since I started to establish myself as a freelancer (prior to PCs), I remember well what the beginner endures. I probably did everything Lori eschews, however, my goal was to get beginning clips as quickly as possible and move into markets paying standard rates. In less than a year my first piece appeared in Family Circle magazine, and I'm sure it didn't go for peanuts.

Now I have the luxury (laziness) to pick and choose what work I'll accept. Still, I violated my own principles recently by agreeing to do a cut-rate job for a client. My reward? When the the client returned to have the product expanded and improved, more whining and crying ensued (not me), followed by anger and denial of knowledge of standard rates (which was what I whittled down in the beginning!) As if I were somehow trying to cheat. The lesson learned: never give 'em an inch! Work pro bono or charge full rates.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Amazon's Kindle DX Unleashed

Have you seen/read about Kindle DX: Amazon's 9.7? Here's some details:

Thickness: Just over 1/3 of an inch

Holds up to 3,500 books, mags, docs

Display: 9.7" diagonal e-ink screen

Auto-Rotating: portrait to landscape

Built-In PDF Reader

Text-to-speech feature

3G Wireless: no monthly fees or contracts

Long Battery Life: Read for days without recharging

Available selections: Over 275,000 books

More Than Books: U.S. and international newspapers including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, magazines including The New Yorker and Time, plus popular blogs, all auto-delivered on built-in 3G wireless.

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Writers' Birthdays May 7

  • British poet Robert Browning (1812; d.1889), husband of Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Indian poet and writer, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913
  • Illinois-born poet, playwright, lawyer, farmer, Librarian of Congress from 1939-1944, and winner of three Pulitzer prizes Archibald MacLeish (1892; d.1982)
  • novelist, short story writer and screenwriter (frequently for Ivory-Merchant films) Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (1927), born in Cologne, Germany, naturalised U.S. citizen
  • American editor, critic, anthologist, and poet Darwin T[heodore Troy] Turner (1931; d.1991), an authority on African American literature


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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mini-Review: CauseWired

Doing well by doing good--what does that mean? I use this blog to promote a tiny selection of this world's good charities and other activities to help people in need. I do it only for personal satisfaction. However, a bonus for Blog Action Day participation was a copy of CauseWired: Plugging In, Getting Involved, Changing the World by Tom Watson.

The story of the rise of social networking and using it to promote worthy causes is a fascinating read. It's also a primer for engaging the current generation and a blueprint for positive exploitation of digital possibilities for creating change.

Watson has been connected with many of the biggest movers and shakers in the both arenas, online and causes, and he doesn't hesitate to drop those names left and right. The ways in which these people and events are all interconnected demonstrates the unseen network that makes up all our lives.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Visionary Blogging--Tweet!

Easton EllsworthIf you're serious about blogging for yourself or a business, dip into Visionary Blogging by Easton Ellsworth. Of course the first post that caught my eye was 50 Ways to Mix Your Blog and Twitter--something I should have read before I started tweeting all possible newbie mistakes.

Sure Twitter, like blogging, can be just for fun, social activities, and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. Men like to play games with/on computers. Women like to connect, communicate. Surprise--men like to communicate, too, when they discover that aspect of techiness.

I'm seeing comments about how stupid or useless or time-sucking Twitter is. Others complain about stupid tweets--just as I say about blogging, if that is your reaction you are following the wrong people or blogs. For those of us who want to use new social media for business or education purposes, we can't offer incoherent messages. I look forward to learning all I can from people like Ellsworth and applying it to my offerings.

If you're on Twitter and want to see someone who is a Queen of terse, sane, useful tweets, go @AnnCurry. She is prolific, but I don't want to miss even one of hers! Seeing mine on this blog page will have to wait for the anniversary design update, coming June 1. In the meantime, you can subscribe to my Twitter Feed.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Swine Flu Passed or Past?

In current news, the tide of infection by the H1N1 virus may be abating. What does this have to do with words or writing? It provides an excellent example for clarifying the uses of past and passed. We are starting to hear reports that the worst of the flu may have past. Or is it passed? What about those who died as a result of the infection, have they passed or past?

Most of the confusion of these two words results from the fact that they are homonyms, words that sound alike. In reality, passed ends in a d and past, with a t. The pronunciation difference is subtle. More subtle, the older the hearer.

Rather than depend on your ears, think about the meaning of the word when you're faced with a choice. "Passed" is the past (sorry!) tense of the verb to pass. "Past" is a word that connotes location, usually in time. Unfortunately the verb to pass can have several meanings, and past can be used as many parts of speech.

Several people died after contracting the flu. Have they past or passed. One meaning of the verb to pass is to die. The victims have passed (on). What about the wave of illness sweeping across the world? Has it passed or past, at least in the proposed country of origin, Mexico? While it probably passed by many families without infecting them, the greatest danger is past.

One technique for deciding which word to use: assume you're working with one of the meanings of the verb to pass, and recast the sentence into the present tense, using the verb form pass or passes. For example: " Time [passed or past] him by." In the present, the right form must be "Time passes him by." I specifically chose to use "time" as the subject, because "past" can relate to time.

Whether past is used as a noun, adjective, adverb, or preposition, it always refers to something located behind, in back of, or previously. Passed can indicate movement, extension, ending, happening, getting through, and have many other meanings that often involve some kind of motion or overcoming (like passing a test).

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Copyright and Public Domain

Think you understand copyright? What about term lengths and the date creations become public domain? It's not as simple as you might imagine. That's why it might be a good idea to bookmark the link to Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States for easy reference. And you can download Cornell University's .PDF version of the multiple charts.

The online page will have recent changes and is current as of January of this year. The advantage of having the .PDF file on your hard drive is that it is accessible even if you don't have an Internet connection at the moment you need the information.

Both versions contain useful links to more material from different sources. I find the footnotes infinitely informational and fascinating to the analytic side of my mind. Consider:

7. Not all published works are copyrighted. Works prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person's official duties receive no copyright protection in the US.
When people write about copyright and publication, they usually refer you to the official copyright web pages of the U.S. government. Yes, I've done that, too, because I am neither an expert in this area, an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. However, if you've visited, you'll know how confusing it can be to get a simple question answered. (Truth is, nothing about copyright is simple!) The government does have a useful brochure on discovering the status of a work's copyright in

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Cat Soap Opera

If TV scriptwriters were cats ...


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Friday, May 01, 2009

Writers Born on May Day

  • English essayist and politician Joseph Addison (1672; d.1719)

  • African-American poet, folklorist, and critic Sterling A. Brown (1901; d. 1989), born Washington D.C.

  • Swiss autobiographical fiction writer Niccolo Tucci (1908; d.1999)

  • novelist and Brooklyn native Joseph Heller (1923; d.1999), famous for his novel Catch-22

  • Texan Terry Southern, novelist and scriptwriter (1924; d.1995), who collaborated on screenplays for Dr. Strangelove and Easy Rider, among others

  • Kentucky-born Bobbie Ann Mason (1940), author of In Country and Midnight Magic

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