Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dear Mike: How did you stay disciplined as a freelance writer?

Reader Question: How did you make yourself show up for work when you were a freelancer, when you’re the only one who knows you should be working? Did you put on a suit, rent an office?

Mike: It wasn’t easy sometimes. I admit it. I can easily be a beach bum during the summer and a lazy hermit during the winter. But I also liked to eat and pay my rent and go to a movie occasionally. So I forced myself to be disciplined. I didn’t put on a suit or rent an office, but I did take my laptop into the wee hours of the New York City night, parking it at some 24-hour diner or deli or cafe, and working almost non-stop from around midnight until around six in the morning. I did this, because when I’m about town like that, I couldn’t do anything BUT write. I couldn’t slack off watching TV, couldn’t call anyone (everyone I know is fast asleep), couldn’t take a nap (I guess I could, but I’d probably be thrown out of the place), and I couldn’t chat away the hours on the internet (I don’t have a wireless connection). I was a captive writer. It worked for me. You need to find what works for you.





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Get a Writing Job!

Writing Job Sites

http://www.mediabistro.com/joblistings
Click here

http://www.journalismjobs.com
Click here

http://www.freelancewritingjobs.com
Click here

http://www.pw.org/joblistings
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http://careers.poynter.org/search/results
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http://www.ed2010.com/jobs/whisperjobs
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http://publishersmarketplace.com/jobs
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http://jobs.publishersweekly.com
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http://www.writingcareer.com/writingjobs/index.php
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http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PayingWriterJobs
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http://www.sunoasis.com
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http://www.iwantmedia.com/jobs
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http://www.writerfind.com/freelance_jobs
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http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com
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http://www.tjobs.com/new/writers.shtml
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http://www.online-writing-jobs.com
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http://www.thefreelancewriterslounge.blogspot.com
Click here

http://jobs.mediageneral.com
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http://www.writejobs.com
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http://www.aasfe.org/jobs/index.php
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http://journalism.berkeley.edu/jobs/listings.php?view=job
Click here

http://aboutfreelancewriting.com
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http://www.creativehotlist.com/index.asp
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http://www.gofreelance.com/?AID=10414556&PID=2398750
Click here

http://jobs.problogger.net
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http://jobs.freelanceswitch.com/categories/3
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http://www.blogher.com/forums/blogher-news-forums/job-listings-and-gigs-0
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http://www.poewar.com/jobs-by-category/jobs/
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http://www.indeed.com
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http://www.writersweekly.com
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http://www.bloggerjobs.biz
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http://www.mediajobmarket.com/jobs/index.jsp
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http://allfreelancewritingjobs.com
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http://www.jeffqaulin.com
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http://authorlink.monster.com
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http://www.writingjobroll.com
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http://www.newsjobs.net
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http://www.simplyhired.com/a/jobs/list/o-27304
Click here

http://www.freelancedaily.net
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http://www.wahm.com/jobs.html
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http://www.journalismnet.com/jobs
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http://www.elance.com/p/landing/buyerwriting.html
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http://www.guru.com/index.aspx
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http://www.allfreelancework.com
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http://www.geteditingjobs.com
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http://www.online-writing-jobs.com/
Click here

(Disclaimer: I only recommend these sites as interesting ones to check out. If you decide to purchase any products or services, or become a paid member of a site or apply for a posted job, you do so at your own risk. Please use your discretion and common sense.)





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Great Media Sites for Journalists to Check Out!

http://gawker.com
Click here

http://www.mediabistro.com
Click here

http://www.woodenhorsepub.com/default.htm
Click here

http://www.poynter.org
Click here

http://www.mrmagazine.com
Click here

http://www.iwantmedia.com
Click here

http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/index.jsp
Click here





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Becoming a Fiction Writer: A 10 Step Guide

Becoming a Fiction Writer: A 10 Step Guide
By Rob Parnell

The urge to write fiction seems God given for some, a learned skill for others.

One thing is certain—it requires practice and a particular mindset. But, if you’re a beginner, where do you start?

The following 10 tips will help kick-start your writing habit, whether you’re a complete novice, or perhaps a pro who has lost his or her way!

1. Step Away From the Car, Sir.

Slightly detach yourself from your surroundings. Stop participating and begin observing. In social situations, watch people, see how they act and—more importantly—interact.

Don’t pass judgment. Take it all in—and draw on it later when you write.

2. Look Harder, Homer

Stop and look around you. Consciously notice the buildings, what’s underfoot, overhead, and what’s right in front of you.

At home, look at something you take for granted. An iron, for instance. Find yours and study it.

3. Write Thinking Will Be Rewarded.

A simple technique. Your mother is making tea and you are chatting to her. Take a mental step back and describe the scene.

Similarly, when you’re outside, describe your environment as though you were writing it down.

4. What Reasons Do You Need?

Don’t wait for inspiration—just write!

Force yourself to write anything at all. A shopping list. An overheard conversation. Describe your bedroom.

It doesn’t matter how personal it is, or how trivial, just get it down!

5. Wakey Wakey!

Set your alarm clock for an hour earlier than normal.

When the alarm goes off, get up. Don’t dress, bathe or eat. Don’t even make coffee. Just stagger to your writing space and write the first thing that comes into your head for five minutes.

6. Oh, God—Not That!

Think of the most awful and embarrassing thing you’ve ever done - the more cringe-worthy the better. Now write about it. All of it, in all its gory, horrible detail.

Then hide it away for a year or so before you read it again!

7. Like Your Style, Baby.

Don’t limit yourself. Write poems, songs, dialogue, fact, fiction, even practice writing advertising copy or horoscopes.

Your expertise improves in all areas – an improvement in one area can reap benefits in another.

8. The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Take out a classic book from your bookcase. Copy out a paragraph. Think about the words as you write them. Don’t get intimidated!

9. Wanna See My Invention?

When you’re not writing, string together stories in your mind. Think of plots, characters, settings, dénouements.

Ask yourself what you should do next to improve your writing.

Develop this technique into a habit.

10. It’s a Goal!

When you start writing regularly, set yourself small goals. Anything from 200 words a day, or just a commitment to writing in your diary.

Later extend to finishing a short story, or an article or a poem. Perhaps one in a week.

The trick is to set goals you can achieve easily.

That way you’ll get the writing habit - and you won’t forget to enjoy it.

Rob Parnell is a prolific writer who’s published novels, short stories, and articles in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, and a teacher who’s conducted writing workshops, critique groups, and seminars.

Please visit Mr. Parnell’s Web site at:

http://easywaytowrite.com/





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Writing Promptly

Write about…

The character traits of which you’re most and least proud.

Your fantasy adventure.

What you’d like your last meal to be.

Your favorite hobby.

Your favorite line in a book or poem or song.

Your feelings on the war in Iraq.

The news coverage on TV, radio, and in newspapers.

Your dream job.

The worst mistake you’ve ever made.

The last time you laughed uncontrollably.





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Affirmations To Write By

It’s perfectly fine if my draft isn’t terrific today. Tomorrow, I will fix all the weaknesses and make it as good as possible.

If I stay in the chair and stick with it, I know my writing will turn out right in the end.

My writing is strong enough to deserve high pay, or at least fair pay. I shouldn’t settle for less.

I should always trust my writing instincts and stop occasionally listening to that negative voice in my head.

I need to have discipline and stick to my writing schedule, doing it every day even if it’s only for 15 minutes.





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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Puma Perl's first feature-length collection of poetry, "knuckle tattoos"

Signed books can be purchased through Puma's PayPal account, pumaperl@hotmail.com or unsigned through the erbacce sales page.

http://www.erbacce-press.com/#/pumaperl/4531745901

Cost is $12 plus $3 shipping from me, $12 free postage from erbacce.

Her first chapbook, Belinda and Her Friends, was awarded the erbacce press poetry prize of 2008, beating out over 1400 entries. The prize was a full length collection, "knuckle tattoos." She titled it knuckle tattoos because, she says, "once you have willingly branded yourself in public places there is no turning around. Once it is said, it cannot be unsaid. As the title pome states, 'fisted letters don't hide meanings entwined in lies and butterflies.'"

If you'd like to attend Puma's Book Launch Party, here are the details:

Sunday, March 7, 2010
Time: 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Location: Bowery Poetry Club
Street: 308 Bowery (bet Houston & Bleecker)
City/Town: New York, NY

Hosted by Jackie Sheeler.

Performers include:
word rockers Dawson/Scott, poet/performers Kat Georges, George Wallace, Jane Ormerod, Thomas Fucaloro, Big Mike and Faux Maux, special musical guests RK Scott, Tommy Abousleman, Richard H. Lewis, Robert Gibbons!!

Puma Perl will read from knuckle tattoos and sign books!!!!!

Meet cover model Vera Hellen, who will display and sell her hand-crafted metal jewelry, as seen on the book cover.

DOORS OPEN 5:30!!!!!!
Come in and socialize, have a drink!
Admission is free, 2 drink suggested minimum!





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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Def Poet Shanelle Gabriel @ The Inspired Word



Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!





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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Poet Ainsley Burrows @ The Inspired Word



Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!





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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spoken Word at its Best! Shane Koyczan - We Are More

Brilliant!







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Mike Geffner Presents The Inspired Word - Feb. 26!


The hottest new poetry/spoken word series in New York City @ the hottest club in downtown Manhattan!

Mike Geffner Presents The Inspired Word
Date: Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
Time: 7-10pm
Location: (Le) Poisson Rouge
http://lepoissonrouge.com/
158 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 505-FISH (3474)
Cover Charge: $10
Featuring the extraordinary lineup of Erik "Advocate of Wordz" Maldonado, Timothy Prolific Jones, Howard Treadwell, and The Mighty Third Rail.

*****

Timothy Prolific Jones is a writer and media entrepreneur born and raised in Long Island, New York. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of André Maurice Press, an independent book publishing company. As a poet, he has performed across the country in slams, open mics, community venues, prisons, and faith based institutions. He is writing four books concurrently, earning his stage name one pen stroke at a time. You can visit his blog, CorporateBboyism.com, find him on Twitter (@tprolificjones), or on Facebook.

*****

Paper, stages, mics and chastity belts, Erik "Advocate of Wordz" Maldonado rips them all! This Bronx native's bold and diverse tongue has been touring Poetry, Hip-Hop and theatrical venues for over four years now, as well as playing host to various writing and performance workshops all around New York City for the youth. He is the founder of HipHopPoetry[dot]com, which has received national media attention for its work off and online. Wordz is a member of the 2007 Nuyorican Poets Cafe's National Poetry SLAM team and is co-founder of "21 Poetz", "El Grito De Poetas" and "The Savants". He is a co-producer of the "21 Poetz Mixtape", and is currently in the process of finishing up several projects for the fall of 2007 which include his first 2 solo projects entitled "My Turn" (hip-hop spoken word CD) and "Advocate of Words" (book of self published poetry).

*****

The Mighty Third Rail is a three-man squadron combining the elements of hip hop poetry, beatboxing, violin and upright bass. It features the dashing Darian Dauchan on vocals, the indelible Ian Baggette on Bass, and the charming Curtis Stewart on violin. You can find them here on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mighty-Third-Rail/199808423451?v) and on Myspace (www.myspace.com/themightythirdrail).

*****

Howard Treadwell is a New York native hailing from Mastic and Buffalo, New York. He believes in the beauty of razorblades and roses. A coping Manic-Depressant and survivor of multiple suicide attempts, he finds his reasons for living within the first breath of morning. Howard earned a spot on the Buffalo national slam team for two consecutive years (2006 & 2007), and became the city's Grand Slam Champion in 2006. He also coached the 2008 team. Howard is AMP|Indelible's Co-Editor-in-Chief, and its resident performance coach. He was recently a member of the Spoken Word/Hip-hop group 21poetz. Current literary projects include a chapbook entitled Dreams of Loisaida, and a poetic/prose autobiography entitled Native Blood, Barrio Soul.

*****

Please join us for an awesome night of passionate words.

MUST BE 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER TO ENTER. PLEASE MAKE SURE TO BRING ID.

*****

Inspired Staff

Mike Geffner
Founder/Producer/Director

Marvin Mendlinger
Assistant Director

Sherri Eldin
MC/Host

Justin Woo
DJ/Sound Genius

Marron Cox
Hostess Extraordinaire

Timothy Prolific Jones
Series Consultant

Jerry "Jerry T" Tarantola
Videographer

*****

Catch us on Twitter, YouTube & Facebook!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word happens every second and fourth Friday @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!
7-10pm.





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Dear Mike: Tell Me about The Writing Life

Reader Question: Will you always remember your very first acceptance into publication?

Mike: Not really. In fact, I’m having difficulty remembering it now. I think it was a story about a failed Olympic sprinter named Steve Williams for a small track & field magazine, but I’m not 100 % sure. Strange how I don’t recall, isn’t it? Although, after you’ve published nearly 10,000 stories—a rough estimate of my career output—you definitely blur on a lot of things.

Reader Question: Do you just start writing or outline your idea?

Mike: I think the proper way is to outline, because it clearly tells you where the story is going and prevents egregious ramblings on tangential points. But, please, do as I say, not what I do. I’ve tried hard to outline, many times, and it simply doesn’t work for me. My MO is this: As I’m working on a story, I’m constantly thinking of my opening and ending, and by the time I sit down to write, I usually have one or, hopefully, if I'm especially lucky, both. If I have both beginning and ending, I know I’m “in”; the story will write easily. If I have only the opening, that’s fine too. It jumpstarts me into the piece [BTW—My openings are often anecdotal and very sensual—meaning they include as many of the five senses as possible. I also like movement. The total impact: the reader is pulled right into the story.] If I only have an ending, I’m admittedly concerned, because I know the writing will be a struggle. In the rare case I have neither an opening nor ending, aside from falling into a sweaty panic, I know something’s wrong. I need to go back and research more, or interview more, or observe more.

Reader Question: What is your favorite genre to read?

Mike: That has changed so much over the years. Early on, when I thought I’d be a short story writer or novelist, I read nothing but classic literature. William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, Albert Camus, Leo Tolstoy, to name only a few. In one year, in fact, right after I left college, I read, believe it or not, over 300 short novels - all by the masters! Albeit reading them only to LEARN, not to ENJOY. I was around 20 then. I’d say in all the years since I haven’t read even 50 novels. I hardly read fiction at all anymore. My reading these days is isolated to a few major magazines (Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Time, The New Yorker, The New York Times Sunday Magazine), one NYC daily newspaper (I switch around from one to the other), and 3-5 nonfiction books (usually a biography or about world history).





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The Name of the Game: Naming Your Characters


The Name of the Game: Naming Your Characters
By Jeanne Lyet Gassman

What do Scarlett O’Hara and Holden Caulfield have in common? They are the names of memorable characters. It is your job as the writer, of course, to create a memorable character, but selecting the right name can aid the process. The trick is to give your characters names that are interesting and unusual without tagging them with a moniker that sounds silly or awkward. How do you do this? You can begin by thinking about the origin of names. All names—whether they are first names or surnames—are influenced by ethnicity, celebrity/popularity, ancestry, appearance, or occupation.

Surnames

In ancient times, people had no designated surnames. If there was a need to make a distinction, they were referred to by their occupation, their residence (or place of birth), or their relationship to another person or thing. For example, John the Baptist identifies John as a person who practiced a ritual immersion (baptism) for his followers. Mary Magdalene takes the surname of her hometown. Hebraic names, in particular, often created surnames from relationships. The word “bar” means “son of.” Hence, a name such as Jacob bar Jonah means literally “Jacob, son of Jonah.” This practice of using “son of” to identify a person later evolved into creating actual surnames that have been passed down over generations. “John’s son,” for instance, became the name, “Johnson,” a surname still in use today.

Surnames also show a strong ethnic influence. If you look in the phone book of any small town (an excellent resource, by the way), you will often see a preponderance of surnames indigenous to the area. I grew up in the southwestern United States, a place with a large population of Native Americans and Hispanics. The surnames of “Tsosie,” “Begay,” and “Padilla,” are common in my hometown. However, since they are primarily isolated to a specific region, they become memorable when used for a story with a broad reading audience. If you want to place your story in a particular locale, take a close look at the local residential pages to see what ethnic groups dominate the area.

You can also create your own surnames by combining everyday words with an appropriate prefix or suffix. The name, “Chiselton” could be an excellent choice for the last name of a con man since “chisel” is a slang term for “to cheat.” A good thesaurus is an excellent resource for creating surnames that sound real. Just be careful that you don’t choose the obvious, such as “Barman” for a pub owner.

First Names

Although first names are often influenced by ethnic origin, they are also inspired by the person’s appearance or by popularity. Many first names (and nicknames) refer to a person’s appearance or character. The name, “Alan,” comes from the Celtic, meaning “handsome.” Nicknames such as “Red” and “Akako” (Japanese for red) could both refer to the color of a character’s hair. The Puritans were particularly fond of giving their children names of virtues they felt they should possess. “Silence” and “Temperance” were popular for girls, while “Justice” and “Proper” were favorites for boys.

Almost every generation has had trendy first names that have waxed and waned over the years. My grandmother was named “Frances,” with the nickname of “Fanny,” a once-popular name that now has the slangy connotation of referring to a person’s backside. In the 1930s, thousands of little girls were named “Shirley” after Shirley Temple. Today, you will rarely find that name in the classroom. The 1960s saw a rise in popularity of “John” and “Jacqueline” after President Kennedy and his wife. In the 1980s, there was a swing back to Biblical names for both boys and girls. The obituaries are a great resource for first names and can provide insight into what was popular during a particular generation.

Initials

The use of initials can be a useful substitute for a first name if you want your character to seem powerful or mysterious. For example, if you have a female private eye, the name “T. J. Roberts” sounds much more forceful than “Teresa Joan Roberts.” If your character is a powerful politician or a corporate magnate, the use of initials could indicate that he’s so important people don’t need to know his first name; his initials are good enough. The famous J.P. Morgan is a perfect example of this. Finally, some authors feel that the use of initials imparts an air of mystery to a character. If this is your goal, you may want to keep the reader guessing by never revealing what the initials stand for.

Naming Don’ts

Don’t combine first and last names that rhyme or sound alike. Most readers find this annoying. Example: Jack Stack.

Don’t give your characters names that are impossible to pronounce. This is often a common problem in fantasy or science fiction when an author decides to be clever and give a character a name without any vowels. Example: Grrwkd. The reader spends the rest of the story choking on the word.

Don’t use a person’s real name! If you find a last name you like, use a different first name and vice versa. Never, ever, use the name of a real person, as you open yourself up to charges of libel and/or defamation of character. It’s also a violation of privacy.

Don’t use similar first or last names for different characters. Three characters with the names of Jack, Jacques, and John become confusing for the reader.
Don’t switch back and forth between a character’s first name and last name. If the character goes by his last name, then be consistent and use the last name every time he’s mentioned.

Don’t make first and last names of equal length. If you have a short first name for your character, give her a longer last name. Mix things up a little.

Don’t give your character a full name with initials that spell out an embarrassing word. Georgia Alice Garrison may be a lovely name for a Southern belle, but G.A.G. is not quite so attractive.

Resources for Names

Residential pages of phone books
Obituaries
Baby naming books
Names from spam email (You will find some interesting combinations here; just don’t open the spam!)

Who’s Who in the Bible (Reader’s Digest Books)

http://www.babynameworld.com
(contains the first names for boys and girls for countries from around the world)

http://www.behindthename.com/
(This site has a wonderful random name generator that can help you brainstorm some very creative combinations.)

http://www.ellisislandimmigrants.org/index.htm
(Over 22 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954. The databases at this site have records on almost all of them.)

http://www.last-name.net
(an excellent resource for surnames and their origins)

So, before you label your character with any Tom, Dick, or Harry, stop and think about who he is. Where does he come from? What does she do? What does he look like? What kind of image do you, the author, want to project for your character?

Happy writing!

Jeanne Lyet Gassman is an award-winning writer whose fiction and nonfiction has been published in numerous magazines, newsletters, and anthologies. The recipient of artistic grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Creative Capital Foundation, she is currently studying for her MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in Phoenix and teaches writing workshops and classes in the metro area.

Visit Ms. Gassman at her website:

http://www.jeannelyetgassman.com

Or her blog:

http://jeannelyetgassman.blogspot.com





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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Timothy Prolific Jones @ The Inspired Word



Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!





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Onome @ The Inspired Word



Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!





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Ilya Khodosh @ The Inspired Word



Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!





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Monday, February 8, 2010

Poet Tantra Zawadi @ The Inspired Word





Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!



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Poet Justin Woo @ The Inspired Word in NYC



Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!





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Poet Sabrina Gilbert @ The Inspired Word



Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!






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Poet Yenny Love @ The Inspired Word



Find The Inspired Word on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word dazzles the night every second and fourth Friday, 7-10pm, @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!





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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dear Mike: How did you make it as a freelance writer?

Member Question: How did make it as a freelance writer? Isn’t it a tough way to make a living?

Mike: Tough is an understatement. It’s nearly impossible to survive without doing something else that’s not writing related. I did it by cheating a little. I’ll explain. For most of the 14 years I freelanced solely, I wasn’t a “real” freelancer” in the strict sense. I was never a writer hustling from story to story, publication to publication, fee to fee. I was a “contract freelancer.” Or what you see in mastheads as Contributing Writer or Contributing Editor. Big difference. I was contractually guaranteed a chunk of money and several stories every year. Of course, I earned this privilege. It’s not easy to nail one of these deals. You have to build a reputation and deliver copy so unique that no one else can replace you. That gives you what I call “the hammer.” Without this hammer, you’re always begging for work with pitches and query letters. And that’s an exhausting and, I believe, losing proposition. During my best times, I was signed to as many as three contracts simultaneously. So while I might’ve technically been a freelancer, I never worried about where my next story, or meal ticket, would come from.





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Surviving Journalism


Surviving Journalism
By Coolwateroverstone

Tips for Surviving a Job as a News Reporter

Assemble the reporter’s kit: at least three pens; a fresh notepad; digital recorder; camera; fresh batteries; business cards with your phone numbers, email, and fax; a cell phone as well as the charger; a few dollars in cash for making document copies or unexpected expenses. Keep it all in a briefcase or bag you can snatch up in a hurry, knowing you have everything you need.

Begin by carefully documenting every scrap of information you gather. Be able to go back and find the same information a second time if necessary. Check the spelling of every name, title, age, address, or background. Never assume anything. Spell Smith and Jones? Try Smyth and Joanz. Or Smythe and Jonze. Be sure to ask.

Observe. Report factually and fairly. If further action happens due to the report and the subsequent public awareness it generates, then report what else happens.

If you have no idea what you're walking into, show up early. Just show up and watch, listen, learn. Pay close attention. You have a reason to be there, right? If all else fails, ask a person to educate you on his/her passionate beliefs. Then ask, “Who disagrees with your viewpoint?” It will be all you can do to get out of the room. If your interview subject cannot talk freely at that moment, get a phone number or email address and follow up as soon as possible (which will give you more time to think about what you need to learn from him/her/them).

Be truthful. Be truthful. Be truthful.
Never lie to a source. If it's off the record, it stays off the record.
Never lie to a reader or to your editor. Break trust once and you never get it back.
Play fair. Always play fair.

Double- or triple-source everything you can. Never take one person's word for it. At the very least, this will give you more than one person’s viewpoint of an issue and help balance your reporting -- and keep you from being used as a political mouthpiece, even by the garden club.

Do the job with honor. Show them you are not like “all those other media types.” It takes time, but teach your sources—one at a time—how deeply they can trust you. Treat them well; cultivate them as you would a valued friend in any relationship. Never bribe or threaten. Thank them for their help every time. When you go back for more information, thank them for the last time they helped you.

Ask sources to give you leads for other sources who may know more.

If you burn a source, you cannot go back. Furthermore, the burned source will tell everyone s/he can that you are not to be trusted. Your reliability and trustworthiness are your stock in trade. Practice it every single minute, with everyone. No shortcuts. No half-ways. Tell only the truth you can prove.

Use the most simple, direct, clear, factual language you can find. Let public figures speak through their quotes. Do not tell readers the mayor lied. Let the mayor say her piece, then show someone else proving the mayor wrong. You are the observer. You are the tape recorder, the camera. Let the readers watch the action and hear the dialogue. Hold up the mirror. Do not yank at the petals of the flower; let it bloom naturally before everyone's eyes.

Make no effort to show everyone how smart you are. Instead, let the reader feel smart for figuring it all out from the way you present the scene, the dialogue, the action. Let them discover it as the event unfolds, fact by fact.

Then later, when the wheels fall off and everyone begins bellowing, because they finally understand what’s going on, stand on the rock of documented facts. When outraged people storm into the office to complain, pull out what you wrote. Show them you didn't say it, the mayor said it, or the secondary source said it.

Let the subjects tell their own stories. Give them enough rope and they'll do the hanging all by themselves.

Coolwateroverstone is the pseudonym for a woman newspaper writer/columnist working in rural Virginia. She has won both state and national awards for her coverage of crime, business, and economic news, and for column writing on serious and humorous subjects.





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A Word about Words


Don’t let these commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases trip you up
By Mark Terence Chapman

Here are some more words and phrases that are commonly misused or misspelled. A conscientious writer should use these correctly. More importantly, using these words/phrases correctly will reduce the odds of your writing being rejected by an editor due to excessive errors (Editors don’t want to waste time on pieces that require an inordinate amount of their time to clean up.).

Even if you write only business reports and emails, you still wouldn’t want people chuckling over your misuse of the English language, would you? Just as importantly, using the correct word can better convey the nuance you desire. As Mark Twain once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Solution vs. Solve

Wrong: We need to solution this problem in a hurry.
Right: We need to solve this problem in a hurry.
Right: We need a solution to this problem in a hurry.

Solution is a noun, yet I’ve heard it (mis)used as a verb. But we already have a perfectly good verb to use: solve. Please don’t solution anything!

Conversated vs. Conversed

Wrong: We conversated about that very subject.
Right: We conversed about that very subject.

To converse is to talk informally. Conversate (back-formed from conversation) is a slang version of the verb converse.

Climatic vs. Climactic

Wrong: The climatic scene was intense.
Right: The climactic scene was intense.

Climatic (verb) is to climate (noun) as climactic is to climax.

Pseudo questions

Wrong: I wonder why she did that?
Right: I wonder why she did that.

Sometimes a sentence seems like it should be a question even though it isn’t. In the above example, the word why suggests a question, but in fact the sentence is a statement. Had it been written “Why did she do that?” it would be a question.

Emulate vs. Simulate

Wrong: We’re attempting to emulate emotions in a robot.
Right: We’re attempting to simulate emotions in a robot.

To emulate is to attempt to equal or exceed. If you emulate someone you are trying to be like him or her. On the other hand, if you simulate something you are creating a likeness, assuming the appearance, or copying. A person might simulate, or feign, interest. One way to think of the difference is that emulation is real, while simulation is fake.

Nevermind vs. Never mind

Wrong: Nevermind about that.
Right: Never mind about that.

Nevermind is a noun that means attention, notice, or heed (as in “Pay him no nevermind.”). It can also mean business or affair. (“It’s no nevermind of yours.”) Never mind, however, is an idiom that means “don’t worry” or “it’s of no concern.”

Carat vs. Caret vs. Karat

Wrong: I bought my fiancé a 2 caret diamond ring.
Wrong: This bracelet is made of 14 carat gold.
Right: My necklace is 14 karat gold, with diamonds totaling 2 carats.

It’s easy to get the various spellings confused, as similar as they are. A carat is a measure of weight used for gemstones, totaling 200 milligrams. In the U.S. and Canada, karat is a measure of the fineness, or purity, of gold, with 24 carats being 100% pure. (In some countries, it’s spelled carat.) Of course, at that purity, it’s too soft to be practical as jewelry, hence the more common, sturdier, and less expensive 10K, 14K, and 18K fineness. Silver, copper, and other metals are added not only for strength, but to create different colors as well (such as white gold and red or rose gold). A caret (^) is nothing more than a special symbol used in editing to indicate where something is to be inserted. It’s not as valuable as a carat or karat (except, perhaps, to an editor).

Pompous grass vs. Pampas grass

Wrong: That bush over there? That’s pompous grass.
Right: That bush over there? That’s pampas grass.

Pampas grass, or Cortaderia selloana, is a tall, reedlike, ornamental grass, native to South America. Because it’s pronounced like pompous (POM-pus), it’s easy to understand the misspelling.

Over run vs. Overrun

Wrong: The cabin was over run with rats.
Right: The cabin was overrun with rats.

Overrun, when used as a verb, means to invade, swarm over in great numbers, overwhelm (as an army), exceed (as in a budget or allotted time), or overflow (as a river bank). When used as a noun, overrun can mean a surplus (an overrun of 500 copies) or the amount exceeded (as in a cost overrun). Over run is simply an error.

Revenge vs. Avenge

Wrong: Cough, cough. Promise me you’ll revenge my death!
Right: Cough, cough. Promise me you’ll avenge my death!

The verb avenge refers to doling out punishment as an act of justice or retribution. Revenge, when used as a verb, suggests doing harm or inflicting pain in retaliation for real or imagined wrongs. (The noun revenge refers to an act of revenge.) To avenge is to seek justice; to revenge is to “get even.”

If you’ve ever been confused about any of these words or phrases, tack this column to the wall by your desk. It’ll help you avoid similar errors in the future.

Mark Terence Chapman writes in various genres: He’s a poet, short story writer, novelist, humorist, and even a nonfiction writer tackling computer topics and nanotechnology. To find out more about Mr. Chapman, please visit his Web site at: http://tesserene.com or his blog at: http://tesserene.blogspot.com.





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Rich Story @ The Inspired Word



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The Inspired Word dazzles every second and fourth Friday @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!
7-10pm.





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Saturday, February 6, 2010

5-Time Def Poet Bassey Ikpi Headlines March 12 Inspired Word!


The hottest new poetry/spoken word series in New York City @ the hottest club in downtown Manhattan!

Mike Geffner Presents The Inspired Word
Date: Friday, March 12, 2010
Time: 7-10pm
Location: (Le) Poisson Rouge
http://lepoissonrouge.com/
158 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 505-FISH (3474)
Cover Charge: $10
Featuring the extraordinary lineup of Bassey Ikpi, Jive Poetic, Thiahera Nurse, & Thomas Fucaloro.

Please join us for an awesome night of passionate words.

MUST BE 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER TO ENTER. PLEASE MAKE SURE TO BRING ID.

*****

Bassey Ikpi, a Nigerian born poet/writer who has appeared on HBO's Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry 5 times. Her poetry has opened shows by Grammy Award winning artists. Bassey appeared on the NAACP Image Awards as part of a tribute to Venus and Serena Williams. She has also been a featured cast member of the National Touring Company of the Tony Award winning Broadway show, Russell Simmon's Def Poetry Jam. Bassey was a part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. In the Summer of 2009, Bassey was a featured performer for Johannesburg, South Africa's annual arts festival, Joburg Arts Alive. Bassey has also been seen gracing the pages of magazines such as Nylon, Marie Claire, Glamour and Bust. She also recorded an original poem for the Kaiser Foundations, HIV/AIDS campaign, Knowing Is Beautiful. Bassey's personal and heartfelt work has made her a much sought after performer. She is currently working on various screenplays as well as freelance writing for social media outlets. She is also currently hard at work at her first memoir. She can be found at www.basseyworld.wordpress.com



Jive Poetic received his BA in Media Studies from The University of Buffalo before dedicating all of his time to good poems, classic hip-hop albums, clever t-shirts, blue pitbulls and bodega sandwiches. Jive Poetic is the co-founder of both Jam On It Poetry and The SoundBites Poetry Festival. Currently, he is the host of the Open Slam at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe'. Jive poetic leads poetry and hip-hop workshops in the New York City Public School system and in various community centers throughout the NYC area.



Thiahera Nurse is a 17-year-old poet living in Hollis, Queens. She attends Townsend Harris High School where she is an active part of the student body. In her spare time, she likes to hang out with her friends, listen to music, read, and write. She has been a finalist for the Urban Word Slam, Knicks Poetry Slam, and the first statewide NYC Poet Laureate Slam. She has written and performed in her own one woman show "Daddy Dress Up" at the Dance Theater Workshop. She is also a member of Urban Word NYC’s youth board. Writing and performing is not just a hobby for her, it is the only way she knows how to process her life. Through her art, she only hopes to transform painful and ugly truth into something beautiful.



Thomas Fucaloro has lived in Harlem for 10 years and Harlem has lived in Thomas all his life.




*****

Inspired Staff

Mike Geffner
Founder/Producer/Director

Marvin Mendlinger
Assistant Director

Sherri Eldin
MC/Host

Marron Cox

Hostess Extraordinaire

Timothy Prolific Jones
Series Consultant

Justin Woo
DJ/Sound Genius

Jerry "Jerry T" Tarantola
Videographer

*****

Catch us on Twitter, YouTube & Facebook!

Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

The Inspired Word happens every second and fourth Friday @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!
7-10pm.





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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gabrielle Bouliane's Final Performance - Please Tell the World!

The lovely and amazing performance poet Gabrielle Bouliane performs for the audience at the Austin Poetry Slam.



This would be her last public performance.

Gabrielle was diagnosed with Stage Four Cancer shortly before this video was filmed. Our dear sister fought hard, but she ended her fight January 29, 2010. She was surrounded by family and friends, and her passing was in a very quiet, peaceful room full of love and affection. She was so brave.

Please share this video with everyone you know. I am sure it would tickle her to no end to have this video get as viral as a video can be. Tell the world.





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Erik "Advocate of Wordz" Maldonado @ The Inspired Word



Twitter: http://twitter.com/InspiredWordNYC

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/NYCInspiredWord

Facebook: The Inspired Word

Every second and fourth Friday @ (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC!
7-10pm.





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Monday, February 1, 2010