Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctrow

With words of pen and ink we can change the world!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

15 Minutes a Day can Change Your Life

OK, I'm intrigued.

I've been putting off the exercise game...I tell myself it's too hot. And, at 110 it really is. I am very susceptible to heat related problems.

So, I just came across this article: A Little Exercise Goes a Long Way. Read it...

It says that when compared to people who haven't been doing ANYTHING (that would be me) that by instituting 15 minutes of exercise a day can improve your situation by 14%.  What do I mean by that?  Well, according to the article, you can decrease the likelihood of getting one of the following disease conditions by 14%...

The study included more than 400,000 people in Taiwan who were followed for an average of eight years. Based on their self-reported amounts of weekly exercise, they were placed in one of five categories: inactive, low, medium, high or very high activity.
The people in the low-activity group exercised for an average of 92 minutes per week, or just under 15 minutes a day. Compared to those in the inactive group — who did almost no physical activity — those in the low-activity group were 14 percent less likely to die from any cause, 10 percent less likely to die of cancer, and had a three-year longer life expectancy, on average.
Every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise beyond the minimum 15 minutes further reduced the risk of all-cause death by 4 percent and the risk of cancer death by 1 percent.
So...how can I incorporate 15 minutes of exercise into my day?  I'm on conference calls a good part of the day and then the rest of the time I'm "chained" to my computer writing.

I came up with a great idea.  I have a house that has a continuous loop downstairs...so I've taken to putting my phone on a headset, putting a leash on my dog (who I also will not exercise outdoors in this heat) and we walk.  Sometimes we walk for 15 minutes...sometimes we walk for an hour.  When I'm focused on the call, I don't notice how much time passes (which makes the exercise process easier) and I'm inside in the air-conditioning where I'm not likely to become ill from the heat.

You're right...I'm not outside, but neither are the people who go to the gym.  I've just moved my mindset, and I take my dog for at least one walk a day while I'm on a call.

So, for those of you who think I'm breathing heavy...it's not what you think...I'm actually getting my heart rate up and decreasing my risk of cancer and other serious illnesses...by walking inside every day. 

How cool is that?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SnapIt Screen Capture Review

Dear Readers,

As a writer, there are times when you are doing some research online and have a need to immediately capture what you're seeing.  It usually isn't enough to "cut and paste" because something isn't going to translate into Word or whatever other place you're "pasting" it to.

SnapIt is a program that allows you to quickly and easily capture a screenshot of anything that is on your desktop, save it to a file so that you can use it later.  I've been asked to try this product and write a review of it.

Because I don't use a lot of technology in my line of work, I found that using SnapIt wasn't as intuitive as perhaps it could be.  I had hoped that by downloading the software and installing it, it would open up a Quick-Start window or a Tips page that would tell me right away how to capture a screen shot.

Fortunately, I found this information on their FAQs page of their website. Once I realized that the "hot-button" was the print screen button on my keyboard, immediately the cross-hairs appeared and I managed to capture a shot of the product from SnapIt's website.  By drawing with the crosshairs, I could outline a rectangle of what I wanted to capture.

Here is the screenshot of SnapIt's Overview of the product:

By taking quick screen shots, I have found that my research into particular writing topics has improved because it saves me a great deal of time.  Any tool that saves time is well worth it.

Would you like to get this for free?

If you create a review in any blog/forum/twitter/facebook, etc. and contact julia.taylor@digeus.com with a link to the review, she will issue a registration code and name for you.

Just think how much time this tool could save you when you're putting together your projects.

If you'd like a chance to try SnapIt for free, click here:


Try this and see if screen capture saves you time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Looking for Writing Markets?

Periodically in this blog I will provide links to pertinent markets that, as a writer, you may be interested in.  Here is one that specializes in the personal essay.  As a follower of memoirs, the personal essay falls well within this market, however it is a much shorter narrative.

Participate | The Pedestrian

The above link will send you to their current publication calendar, complete with themes, deadlines, and links to their essay contests that will pay up to $500 for the winning essay.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Your Blogging Personality

On the topic of blogging...

You need to develop your blogging personality. 

This is basically a combination of you, what you believe in and represent...and your audience.  Consider who is going to be "listening" to your rantings.  Your audience is who you're writing for.  If you didn't think you'd be writing for an audience, you wouldn't be writing on the web, you'd be scribbling away in your private notebook or journal in your garret, and no one would ever know you'd penned a word until one day, long after your death they discover your "writings".

Back to your blogging personality...

You want to consider who is going to be reading your blog, and address your posts to that audience.  Generally speaking, you'll be addressing like-minded people who are interested in what you have to say, what you have to share with them.

In the case of Auntie Kit and Cousins, she is blogging to a community of people who hold family life, homespun goodness, and simplicity above all else.  With that in mind, she needed to "decorate" her blog to reflect that audience.  When people land on a blog that makes them feel "at home" they tend to linger a little longer.  There are many ways to get your viewers to linger, but the very first is to make sure their initial exposure to your blog will keep them there.

This means you have to decorate it appropriately.  In "Auntie Kit's" case, she needed to reflect the warm glow of simple yet elegant living with an appropriate wallpaper.  She was able to find one from among the myriad of free offerings available on the internet.  Once she incorporated that wallpaper, her hits began to increase dramatically.  Her first two weeks she got about 50 visitors.  By her third week she was up to 150 visitors.

While I know that she's actively trying to direct more traffic to her site, she is now getting responses based on how her site "feels" to the people who land on it.

If you don't keep your target audience in mind, you're doing no more than scribbling into a notebook.  If you really want your blog to be read, you need to make it visually appealing to the people who land there.  If they're your target audience, make 'em feel comfortable!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who Should Blog?

This is an interesting post.

I'm currently working with a young woman who has decided to use blogging as an outreach to augment her resume for job applications.  This young woman wants to be in the Hotel/Restaurant industry and dearly wishes to get another job in this area.

She had once worked in a small cafe and was quite successful in her position.  She had to resign because she was under-age and her family was relocating to another state.  Once in that new location, the economy tanked and no one was hiring.  In order to fund her college aspirations, she has taken a job at a day-care where she is doing very, very well.  However, this is not the industry she wants to pursue for her career.

In order to make her resume look more attractive, this young woman has decided to approach her new life in a new city as an opportunity to discover new places to go.  One of her pet passions is a coffee shop.  Not long ago she compiled a short list of small, unique coffee shops.  Once a week she would visit a shop on her list, order something that is "what they're known for" and evaluate it.  If she has people who accompany her, all the better because they all order something different and give an even more broad assessment of that establishment.

To the point of blogging, this young woman has started a blog where she identifies the shops she has visited and makes notes about her experience.  How will this help her in her job search?  She will list her blog as something to reference for her future employers.  They will be able to see that her approach is unique, that she truly does have the intention of pursuing a career in the hospitality field, and that she is telling the world about her experiences.

Every person has the right to their opinion, and blogging is one to express that opinion.  When someone takes a blog and uses a laser focus as this young woman is doing, it makes the purpose of a blog even more important.  People who discover her blog will use it as a reference for places they would visit when they come to her town.  Her future employers will see that she has a deep-seated interest in the hospitality field and one of them is going to recognize the initiative that she is showing and snap her up because she is going places!

In answer to the question posed in the title: Who Should Blog?

The answer is:  Anyone who has anything substantial to say.  If people are interested in what you do, you should blog.  Blogging is one way to fight the uniform mediocrity that comes from standardizing our society. America was founded on originality...long live blogging as a way to highlight and celebrate that originality!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Branding a Name

What's in a name?

In some cases absolutely everything.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I am following a new blogger who is writing under the name of Auntie Kit and Cousins.  She said she purchased the domain name about four or five years ago but couldn't find any information about getting that domain name set up into a web site. 

Fortunately, she was able to contact the company (GoDaddy) who she purchased the name from and they are in the process of establishing her identity.  She originally paid for the domain name on a recurring purchase agreement through PayPal.  Unfortunately, she had an identity issue and had to close all those accounts and name new ones.  In the meantime she moved from one state to another.  By the time she decided to use that name, all the documentation from that original web-domain name purchase had been lost.  She couldn't access the information.  Fortunately, a reputable site for purchasing domain names will work with you to establish your identity and verify that you are the correct individual. 

In Auntie Kit's case, she was nearly out of luck, but because she DID own the domain name and actually remembered it, she is currently in the process of re-establishing her identity so that she can legally re-obtain the information so that she can eventually set up a website with the same name as her blog.  We'll continue to follow her escapades because the Branding of a Name is ever so important in today's world of internet commerce.

People may have no idea who you are, but they will certainly remember your name!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Acreage - October 2010

Acreage - October 2010

You might like to see my latest articles in Acreage Magazine...truly a magazine for a rural lifestyle!

This is one way to drive traffic to a blog site.  Linking to other sites. In this case, I'm linking to some of my own articles under the name Kathleen Birmingham so that I can see if it directs traffic to my blog.

The only way to determine this is to try it, test, test, test, and then evaluate the results of the testing.