Great Finds: Online Backup - I Love MozyPro

After years of steadfastly remaining loyal to backup solutions that I could hold in my hand - but which proved time-consuming and frustrating and annoying - I gave in.

I investigated online backup services, where you send encrypted copies of your files to be stored on their servers, and chose MozyPro.

I love MozyPro. It's easy to install. It will backup daily. Hourly. Whenever I tell it to do so. Quietly, in the background, it's protecting me right now.

And, if I want to see what's been stored and when, I just hit the little icon in the toolbar, and I see the long list. There are my emails. There are my Word documents. There is a spreadsheet.

PLUS - and this has to be the best part - if I get confused or scared or have a question, I can call and speak with a real, live human 24/7. 365 days a year. FOR FREE.

And, yes! One that speaks English as their first language. One who is patient and kind and knowledgeable, not a snoot doing his best David Spade impression.

Oh, and price. PRICE!! I'm paying less that $15/month for 20GB of storage.

I love MozyPro. So did lots of impressive reviewers, and I think you will, too.

(There's also a free version, but I'm not sure what bells and whistles you get tho I do know there's no 24/7/365 technical support.)


Great Writers' Rules of Writing: Orwell, Heinlein, Twain & Leonard

George Orwell gave us Animal Farm and 1984. In his 1945 essay, "Politics and the English Language," he discussed writing - and I like PickTheBrain's synopsis of Orwell's teachings to these five rules:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

2. Never use a long word when a short one will do.

3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

4. Never use the passive when you can use the active.

5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an ordinary English equivalent.

Robert Heinlein produced science fiction classics like Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers. His Rules of Writing are so popular, you can buy them on a tee shirt:

1. You Must Write.
2. Finish What You Start.
3. Refrain from Rewriting, Except to Editorial Order
4. You Must Put Your Story on the Market.
5. You Must Keep It On the Market Until It's Sold.

Mark Twain's 18 Rules of Writing are hilarious - and true - and while too long to list here, can be read in their entirety at the PBS site in Twain's 1895 Essay, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses." Here's an excerpt:

12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.
13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.
14. Eschew surplusage.
15. Not omit necessary details.
16. Avoid slovenliness of form.
17. Use good grammar.
18. Employ a simple and straightforward style.

Finally, the well-known rules established by Elmore Leonard in his 1991 essay for the New York Times, "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle," which has been expanded into book form and is currently for sale on his website and elsewhere, if you're interested. They include:

1. Never open a book with weather.
2. Avoid prologues.
4. Never use a verb other than ''said'' to carry dialogue.
7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
11.If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.


Writer Lawyer Tip: Web vs Print - A Must Read Article for Writers

This jewel of an article, written by Paul Gillin and entitled, "How the Coming Newspaper Industry Collapse Will Reinvigorate Journalism," is something that is worth dropping what you are doing, right now, to read the darn thing. Twice.


Google Announces KNOL - Is it a Good Thing, or An Expanding Tool of Evil?

We all know that Google is against Evil: it's part of their posted Corporate Philosophy (see no. 6).

So, yesterday's announcement -- of Google's latest offering, KNOL -- must be a good thing, right? Well, let's ponder this for a moment.

Considering the Source

There are folk out there that just don't trust Google. Last year, Adam Penenberg's well written article at MotherJones.Com described Google as "...the greatest threat to privacy ever known, a vast informational honey pot that attracts hackers, crackers, online thieves, and—perhaps most worrisome of all—a government intent on finding convenient ways to spy on its own citizenry." (I just love how he used the phrase 'honey pot,' don't you?)

There are even websites created and maintained solely for the purpose of monitoring Google as an evildoer, including GoogleWatch.Org and IsGoogleEvil.Com.

GoogleWatch doesn't believe that Google is pure evil, but does state that Google is a "privacy time bomb," and gives some pretty scary arguments supporting its position. They report things like Google hires spooks (Google engineer Matt Cutts used to work for the National Security Agency) and Google records everything it can and doesn't tell what all it knows.

IsGoogleEvil.Com hasn't posted in a year, but their blog has lots of stuff that still makes valid points, like (1) everytime you use your Google Toolbar, Google's expanding its stored information on you, along with the sites you surf; and (2) it's possible that Google can database your hard drive with its Desktop Search feature.

Considering KNOL

First, here's what Google has to say about its new venture: "We believe that many do not share that knowledge today simply because it is not easy enough to do that. The challenge posed to us by Larry, Sergey and Eric was to find a way to help people share their knowledge. This is our main goal."

With KNOL, separate web pages will appear on specific topics with the author being credited for their creation and content. There can be many KNOLs (knols being used as "units of knowledge") on the same topic, and one author can create as many KNOLs as she likes.

It will be free. It will come with lots of helpful tools to make the KNOLs "well organized, nicely presented, ... [with a] distinct look and feel." The author can include lots of links to other sites with info, as well as place advertising on his KNOL.

As for 2.0 issues, readers can submit comments or ask questions, as well as expanding the KNOL by offering edits or additional content. Readers will be able to rank KNOLs, and write reviews of KNOLs.

For a sample KNOL, check out this Google example by author Rachel Manber.

What's Happening Here?

There's a lot of hoopla right now that KNOL is Google's direct challenge to Wikipedia, and lots of online discussion is taking place on the viability of this threat. CNET's got Wikipedia's founder crying bring it on, and Bloomberg's just flat out labeling them direct competitors.

Personally, without having seen KNOL online yet, I don't know that we can be totally sure about KNOL's place in the world - but I tend to think it's more of a competitor to Squidoo and About.Com than Wikipedia, outright.

At Squidoo, you find author-recognized webpages on specific topics, just like KNOL promises. (Squidoo calls them "lenses.") Comments, check. Advertising, check. Ranking, check.

Over at About.Com, you've also got authors providing articles on specific topics, but not everyone is free to write an article (you have to be a selected "guide"). (Of course they're not -- About.Com is owned by The New York Times, and obviously they can't have just anyone writing for it....) However, About.Com does provide for comments, and it claims over 1.7 million articles to date.

It's true that Wikipedians sometimes jerk around and provide bad content, and an author directly responsible for content on that topic's page might serve to decrease this accuracy problem. Copyright infringement concerns could also be handled much better with an author accountable for article content.

Google may have something here, if KNOL's goal is an encyclopedic wiki of all things, everywhere. I'm especially interested in hearing what Eric Goldman has to say, since he's been betting on Wikipedia's demise by the year 2010 for several years now over at his Technology & Marketing Law blog.

However, I appreciate Wikipedia's collaborative approach and I go there all the time. Squidoo, don't go there, don't care to start. About.com, maybe. Sometimes.

I don't trust Wikipedia as more than a starting off-place (kinda like reading TexJur in my young lawyer days) but it's a good one. Google's going to have to give me a helluva lot to change that.

And, I confess that I am wondering why the heck Google sees the need to do this, anyway. Surely they've got more than enough to do when I still go to Google, Yahoo, and Ask in searching, since each engine gives me such different responses to the same query. (And, surely the Watchdogs of Evil will have their theories.)

And maybe that's all this is: two years from now, I'll go to Wikipedia and Knol just like I go to Google and Yahoo and Ask today. We'll see.


What I'm Reading: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Actually, I'm reading several books right now, but the one that made me laugh out loud in the middle of a crowded room this morning was, yep, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


Audio Books - The Great Narrators

I love audio books, if and only if the books are read by an outstanding narrator.

Bad voice, monotone delivery, or over-the-top dramatics, and I pull the CD no matter how great the story may be.

I never substitute a great print read with an audio read; however, I've found that audio books do bring something to the table that I find valuable. I discover more in the work from a good audio narration. And, of course, audio books allow me to "read" while I'm out walking, or driving around doing errands, or even undertaking mundane household chores.

Listening to great writing helps me write. I hear the cadence of conversation more clearly, and I conceptualize the plot points differently than in a standard read. Nonfiction works bring their points home in a distinctly different manner than my standard yellow highlight method (mark it, review it later).

However, it's all in the narrator.

I've learned to skip any book read by its author. Few writers read their work well. Jill Conner Browne was somewhat of an exception, but I still think her Sweet Potato Queens work would be better served with professional narration.

I've also learned to choose audio books by narrator -- for example, I will listen to anything that Barbara Rosenblat has chosen to narrate. She's led me to the discovery of new writers, all because I trust her instincts to not read bad stuff.

Davina Porter is another great narrator; Jay O. Sanders is someone I like, too.

For a list of the top narrators in their field, check out The Golden Voices list. Award winners are listed, along with brief biographies being provided as well as complete audiographies.


Great Writers' Rules of Writing: Vonnegut Has 8

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 rules for writing fiction:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. Now matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Vonnegut adds that American short story writer, Flannery O'Connor, broke all these rules except the first.

-- Vonnegut, Kurt Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction , pp. 9-10(New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 1999).


Wal-Mart Is Cutting 40% Magazines From Racks ( With 01/18/08 Update)

From Meg Weaver at Wooden Horse Magazine:

"WalMart, the chain that accounts for as much as 40% of many consumer magazine's single copy sales, has just released a new authorized list of magazine titles. It seems WalMart has decided to cut back on the number of magazines they will distribute. The exact numbers of titles involved are still not available but rumor has it that the list has been cut from roughly 3,000 titles to about 1,100...."

Surfing just now, I couldn't locate any new WalMart list of authorized titles, either.

JANUARY 18, 2008 UPDATE: This past Tuesday, Wal-Mart apparently released a list of 1000 magazine titles that it is purging from its shelves; however, I have been unable to find the actual list online. All sources seem to go back to one lone story in the New York Post, written by Keith Kelly, referencing the list and reporting the purge includes such big name titles as Better Homes & Gardens, The New Yorker, The Economist, Business Week, Forbes, and Fortune.


Lawyer Writer News Flash: Freelance Writers' Settlement Screwed

The settlement has been nixed by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in a 2-1 decision, and now the Freelance Writers case, which argued that that freelance contracts do not allow for electronic publication (online, in databases) unless it's specifically stated, is back in the frying pan.

It's a 2-year-old settlement, with around $20 million at issue, and a Who's Who of Publishers as defendants: Knight Ridder Inc., Reuters, West Publishing, etc.

There are several well-known plaintiffs, as well: EL Doctorow, Gerald Posner, the National Writers Union, the Authors' Guild, the American Society of Journalists & Authors, etc.

And the basis for this? Jurisdiction.

Yep. The appellate court has found that the district court lacked federal jurisdiction to approve the settlement in this copyright infringement case. (Well, two justices did -- the dissenting judge said he wouldn't nix this settlement on jurisdictional grounds.) The majority opinion:

"The overwhelming majority of claims within the certified class arise from the infringement of unregistered copyrights ....We have held, albeit outside the class-action context, that district courts lack statutory subject matter jurisdiction over infringement claims arising from unregistered copyrights."

Read the opinion here.

So what happens now? Well, I'm betting that the Freelance Writers' counsel request a full-court review of this 3-justice panel decision - which may or may not get granted. After that, the Supreme Court is the next step, procedurally - and while it's very difficult to get heard by the Highest of the High Courts, they did hear Tasini ....


Putting Putter into Your Writing Schedule

A new study is out: exercising is important, but standing -- well, standing is a big, big deal. The study was published this month in Diabetes, and it's been covered over at ABC.COM.

Bottom line: thin people putter around the house, fat people don't. Being vertical allows your body to manufacture enzymes that are important to metabolism; setting all day, and this manufacturing process shuts down.

So, putter, people. Putter.


Looking for a Good Read? The Literature Map

Here's a fun site to discover new authors, and new books to love -- the Literature Map.

Now, I'm not positive that I agree with its results. For example, I don't know that the closest author to Alexander McCall Smith in my mind is Jan Karon (not that I don't enjoy her work, as well), but hey.

The map explains that the closer two names appear on the map, then the higher the likelihood that the reader will enjoy the works of both authors.

It's a very fun site, and after scanning thru Alexander McCall Smith, I'm reminded that I've been wanting to read Christopher Buckley -- so I've put his name on my list for this week.

They may have something here! Check it out -- it's a fun site.


Want Something New to Read? Check Here

Looking to discover a new favorite author, or a book that haunts you for days? Check out out these sites for some suggestions.

I've collected a group of sites that runs the gamut -- from the professionals at NYT to the Average Joe at AllReaders -- because everyone has their own perspective, and sometimes being snooty just cuts you out of some mighty fine things:




New York Times




Lawyer Writer News Flash: Indian Lawyer Outsourcing Co Owned By Americans

Over at Backstreet Lawyer this morning, I posted on Nikki Finke's reporting that several Hollywood Big Kahuna Companies are outsourcing their transactional legal needs over to an Indian company. Legal research, drafting contracts, things like that ....

I've included a link to an Indian blogger who's watching this Indian growth industry -- apparently, they're very excited about it.

Here's the thing that gets me: the Indian outsourcing company is owned by a Manhattan company that, in turn, is funded by Cisco Systems, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Barclay's Capital.


I don't know how many lawyers are truly aware of this development -- we've heard of outsourcing, sure. It's mentioned in hushed tones. I don't know how many attorneys are aware that American companies are actually funding the outsourcing, though.


Kindle Unveiled Today and I Don't Want One

Amazon debuted its three-year old project today -- Kindle gives you e-books, as well as lots of newspapers and blogs and Wikipedia and other stuff automatically uploaded to the device.

It's priced a little over $300 bucks. There's lots of hoopla about it, seems like a lot of people are very excited about replacing books made of paper.


I like books. I like dog-earing pages, I like making notes in margins, I like flipping back and forth -- didn't he leave the gun in the car? -- and I like carrying paperbacks in my tote and having hardbacks on my nightstand.

I like bookmarks. I like cover art.

I like the feel of paper, and the way a book feels in my hand.

Kindle is a cool toy but it's not friendly like a book. Just look at it. And it costs too much, too.

And then, there's bookstores. I like bookstores. I like roaming the aisles, I like ....

May 2011 Update:  Prices went down.  I got a Nook Color for Christmas - it didn't work, so I returned it.  Now, I have a Kindle 3G with WiFi and I like it.  I like paper better, but I do find uses for the ereader.   For more, please refer to the posts under the label "e-books."


Writer Lawyer Tip: Google Toolbar Buttons for Writers

Google Toolbar has lots of nice things - one click and you're reading the news, shopping on Ebay, laughing at their collection of Stupid Videos.

The toolbar gallery also has a selection of buttons that can help you while you're working: there's so many I can't list them all here. Here are some that look to be very handy, tho:



Lonely at the Keyboard: Finding Free WiFi

When you write for a living, it's easy to lose track of time. And, I'm not talking hours here -- I'm talking days. What?! It's already Thursday?!! It can't be! When was it Wednesday?

I won't even go into the wardrobe thing. I'm always presentable for the unexpected guest, but hey: they're taking a risk, too. I'm not guaranteeing make-up, and the days of my weekly manicure are a part of my PastLife. Calling first is in your own best interests, as well as mine.

Which gets me to the Wonders of WiFi. Not all writers need constant internet access, but I do. My writing involves research, and I envy those fiction writers that can escape the internet connection.

WiFi lets me journey out into the world, and keep working. No, it's not as fast as my high-speed connection at home. Yes, I get distracted and my word count suffers.

But it's a wise thing to do -- taking the laptop and mascara and brushing my hair and getting OUT THERE.

Here's a list of sites that can help you find free WiFi in your area:


There's also WiFi at places like Barnes & Noble, but you have to pay for it and I hate that. There's also places that are within Free WiFi areas which are better for writing than the source itself. For example, here in San Antonio, there's free WiFi from Amy's IceCream that cascades into the Border's Coffee Shop next door. It's a good place to work (sometimes) and you don't have to pay for the Border's WiFi option.

Now, as for plugs ... that's another post, for a different day.


Movies I Saw: Elizabeth the Golden Age Disappointed

Okay, it's not new at the multiplex but I just saw Elizabeth: The Golden Age with Cate Blanchett.

Now, except for a couple of times when Cate seems to be channelling her version of Katherine Hepburn in Aviator into this role, I thought she did an excellent job. The costuming was fabulous, the sets were remarkable, and the music was just fine. Clive Owen is a gorgeous man, and he looked good with a tan.

However, the movie was not accurate. This made it distracting, and ultimately, annoying to me. [A great lesson in using creative license. Be careful.]

The last straw was the Armada scene -- where was the big storm? Where was the lightning and the big waves and the WEATHER factor here? Sure, the fire ships were cool but that wasn't the whole story.

Did they really have to edit Queen Elizabeth's speech to her troops which has come to be recognized as one of the greatest speeches of all time?

Was it necessary to combine Sir Francis Drake with Sir Walter Raleigh here? Drake was the one responsible for the fire ships, not Raleigh. Raleigh was on land at Dover watching the whole thing. Then again, Raleigh is credited with discovering Mary Queen of Scot's plot to take Elizabeth's crown. And, he did marry Elizabeth the maid and get himself thrown into the Tower of London -- but that was after the victory with the Spanish. Of course, this isn't shown in the movie.

Likewise, Cate didn't look in her 50s, nor Clive in his 20s, which was their real age difference. Oh, I feel a serious rant coming on....

Geez. Grrrrrr. It was hard not to leave the theatre with all this unnecessary alteration in a very exciting chapter of history. Why not have two handsome men at court -- Drake and Raleigh? Why not use special effects for the storms that came?

Such, such, such a disappointment. I mean, they had pirates and palaces and one queen plotting to take the throne of another, and Catholic vs Protestant .... And they messed with it.

I wish I had skipped this film. Next time, I'll listen to Rotten Tomatoes.

Image: Elizabeth I ordered a commemorative medal to be cast and distributed, reading "God Blew and They Were Scattered," in tribute to the storms that destroyed the Spanish Armada. I am just shaking my head.


What I'm Reading: Susan Conant's Dog Lovers Mystery Series

Well, actually, I'm reading the last three of Susan Conant's Dog Lovers Mystery Series. Over the years, I've read her Rowdy & Kimi books as they've appeared on the shelves - but there was a gap a couple of years back and I admit to moving along and losing track of her.

I re-discovered the Dog Lovers Mysteries when I found a pretty hardcover of her book, Bride & Groom, for sale in the clearance stacks of Barnes & Noble. Now, I'm midway through Gaits of Heaven and All Shots is next.

I already expect some of you to be snooty here. A dog book? A mystery? What light reading, what secondary fare. Well, you're foolish to think so.

Crime fiction still gets snubbed, and I don't care. It wastes too much time worrying about what other people think, and sooner or later cream rises to the top, anyway. Think Mark Twain. Think Raymond Chandler. You know what I mean.

Susan Conant's work reads well, the characters grow over time, and I like the fact that I'm puzzled over why those darn squirrels aren't coming into the crazy therapists' backyard in Gaits. (I've already decided that the murderer has to be either the plumber or Steve's ex, but I am stumped about this squirrel business.)

Another thing that I appreciate about Susan Conant is that she uses these mysteries to teach me about dogs. I learned about the horrors of puppy farms in Bloodlines. I learned about therapy dogs in the Barker Street Regulars. And, interwoven throughout all her dog mysteries are little tidbits about the training and care and actions of dogs: e.g., the best treats to keep in your pocket, why crating works, and what scent-rolling is all about.

I suspect that this Harvard PhD in human development is patiently teaching us all about dogs via the mystery genre -- and that's fine by me. I'm grateful for these books, they make my life better. And they're funny, too.


Lonely at the Keyboard: Online Writer Chats & Forums

 Here's a list from Google of online writer chats and forums (there's tons more if you don't like these):


Spoiled Ink -
Offers writer to writer exchange of feedback, ideas and support.

White Paper Source -

User based forum dedicated to writing and marketing white papers.

Tag You're It - Writing Club -
Tag writing community in which one person starts the piece, and others contribute. Includes related links and FAQ.

Able2Know -
Active writing forum with creative categories.

Talk about Journalism -
Journalism discussion forums with topics like reporting, newspapers, jobs, research, and even gonzo writing.

The Pleasure Dome -
An online club for writers about discussion, debate, personal, professional support.

WritersWall -
Place for writers to exchange creative ideas, share their stories. Includes a monthly ezine, chat forum, and other resource links.

Mindsight Forum -

Forum for authors, writers, agents, publishers, and editors.

Write Here Write Now -

Forum offering weekly prompts, newsletters, critiquing, and writing over a variety of genres.

Literary Escape -
Member based literary community where users can create clubs, writing galleries, blogs and personal websites to get exposure and critique.

WritingForums.com -
Provides a place for writers to meet and chat about the writing craft, post stories, and meet other writers. Also provides tips, contests, markets and original works.

Writer's Waters II -
Free community and forum for writers, artists, poets, publishers and freelancers.

The Writer Community -

Discussion boards, polls, contests, events calendar.


Ye Gads: I DO watch Reality TV

I believe in the written word, and however bad some of the sitcoms out there may be -- they are written. There are scripts. Reality TV avoids this problem. There's no need for a script when you put a group of people on an island to eat horrid things, or have them race around the world for a prize. Ditto, the dating competitions. And the dancing ones. And the singing ones.

Since I avoid these shows I smugly thought that I didn't watch reality TV. I was lying to myself.

I admit it: I watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 periodically, as well as Dog the Bounty Hunter. I discovered this as I wrote a post about coupons after watching Kate shop for her family of 10 at Whole Foods and come away with almost $100 in savings. Awareness had sort of begun when I wrote another post about Dog the Bounty Hunter being on Larry King Live and the ability to email in your questions or comments beforehand.

My Bad. I am a writer who does watch reality shows. Should I feel bad? I am pondering this. And, I'm adding in the fact that any TV takes time away from other things unless I'm watching the tube while folding laundry or something. There are things like books, after all ....


Writers' Strike: All About the Web - & They've Got a Blog, Too

There's a good article about the Writers' Strike over at Forbes.com. Lacey Rose reports:

"Americans now spend nearly 27 hours a month online, up 8% from just two years ago, according to comScore Media Metrix. And advertising dollars are following: Internet ads registered a 17.7% increase in the first half of 2007, to $5.5 billion, while the broadcast networks saw ad spending slip 3.6%, to $11.8 billion, during the same period, according to TNS Media Intelligence, a division of Taylor Nelson Sofres that tracks ad spending."

In this fight for parts of the Web Pie, the striking writers have set up their own blog, United Hollywood. Interestingly, when I jumped to their site, the top post was about the very Forbes article by Lacey Rose that I'd just read. Small world.

At any rate, United Hollywood should prove to be very entertaining. Already today, there's the post about Steve Carell calling in sick to The Office - he was suffering from "enlarged balls."

And, in an earlier post by the Strike Captain, an explanation on why the Web is so important that it's worth this level of fight:

"The other big reality is that the future of ALL film and television is INTERNET bound, a paid advertising medium for which each and every Guild member currently has ZERO financial participation. With entertainment industry executives and studios raking in exponential profits every year and hiding much of those profits through creative accounting and fuzzy math, it is ESSENTIAL that, as members of the WGA, we stand up for what is only reasonable and just. The studios have forced us into this position through their greed and hubris. The attitude at the executive level often is that these movies and TV shows write themselves when in reality the obscene profits they are making always start with us, the writers.?"

I'm going to continue following the writer's strike, since without writers what do you have? Surely all these reruns already appearing everywhere should be making all the Suits sweat ....

Personally, I want the writers to get everything that they want. Period. And while I'm at it (it's my blog, after all) I don't want another reality show - ever - and I'd like someone to just go ahead and formalize the official Law&Order Network. It would make it so much easier for me to find Bobby.

One last thing. As a writer who provides content on a daily basis to various areas of the web, the news that publication on the Internet is apparently akin to the Gold Rush - or here in Texas, wildcatting for oil, well ... it's good news.


Read Print is a Great Find

Read Print is a great site -- it offers lots of free access to classic works of literature, plus the complete works of Shakespeare. An added feature is a list of articles covering a range of writing-related issues: what is a sonnet? how to write a magazine article? Lots of fun, and there are coupons too! Nice.

No compensation has been received for this review.


Writer Lawyer Tip: Great Find - Natural Reader

I use Natural Reader all the time. I use the free version, with the voice that is far from human-sounding. In fact, it sounds so much like HAL that I am always tempted to type the lyrics to "A Bicycle Built for Two" just for a grin ....

Remember that scene from the movie? Dave ... what are you doing, Dave ....

Okay, fine. Look, Natural Reader gives a final, verbal edit before I send the draft out. It's a big help, and I thought I'd share that with you today.


It's NaNoWriMo Time Again

Once again, it's National Novel Writing Month and we're already four days into the month-long process. You're not too late, if you want to sign up online -- you'll get your own page with a tracker of your progress.

What's NaNoWriMo? From the site:

"National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

"Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

"Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

"Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

There are local groups that have writing meet-ups during the month, as well as providing other support (group e-mails, etc.). And, yes, books do get written during NaNoWriMo -- some, ultimately, are even published.

Me? I admit to joining the 2005 NaNoWriMo and it did help me get organized and moving forward on a fiction work. However, no, I didn't finish. This year, I've got my two huge projects, plus a myriad of other assorted projects with deadlines and if I have extra time during this month, I need to focus on getting away from the keyboard ... but I have hopes for NaNoWriMo next year. It was fun.


Writer-Lawyers: Kelly James-Enger

I started watching the career of Kelly James-Enger several years ago, while I was still daydreaming about being a writer while setting at my law desk, and she was out there -- writing magazine articles for a living as well as books telling others how they could, too. Such true encouragement.

Maybe you've read Six Figure Freelancing?

Today, her career continues to evolve. She's written some chick lit, and appears to be having great success as a motivational speaker. Her website is no longer "kellyjamesenger.com," for some time it's been "becomebodywise.com."

If you watch FoodNetwork, you've seen Kelly's work albeit indirectly: she co-wrote Small Changes, Big Results with Ellie Krieger, host of Healthy Appetite.

From her site:

"Kelly James-Enger provides entertaining, motivating conference keynotes, in-service programs, and other group presentations on topics ranging from health to stress management to time management, goal-setting, and pursuing your personal dreams. She customizes her presentations for each audience, and is known as an entertaining, inspiring, and motivating speaker. Review some of her popular speaking topics or check the calendar of upcoming speaking dates.

"As a widely published author of books and magazine articles, Kelly can write, co-write, or ghostwrite for you or partner with you on the road to publication. Take a look at our full list of consulting services.

"Finally, for writers, BodyWise provides resources that teach you the things we had to learn the hard way, including a free monthly newsletter with our latest tips delivered right to your inbox."


Managing Time: SlimTimer

Here's something that you might want to check out -- SlimTimer. It's an online timesheet service. It's free, too.

You get a tasklist and voila! the time shows up on your toolbar, the seconds passing before your very eyes. It will also provide reports for you, which will give you a good idea of how you've been using your time if you've kept up your SlimTimer entries like a good girl.

Me, I didn't like the idea of putting all the gory details of what I'm doing, day in and day out, on the Web. Just a little too spooky for me, but you may feel just fine about it.

I admit to being rather Old School, and I still have a passion for my FranklinCovey binder ....Maybe it's that lawyer in me, and all that early DayTimer training.


The 2007 Writers’ Strike

Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune wrote a great article discussing what appears to be the inevitability of the Writers’ Guild of America Strike. The WGA contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers runs out at midnight tomorrow. Negotiations are not going well, apparently.

This is an especially interesting story to watch for me -- with my dual perspectives of writer and lawyer. There’s been many a settlement on the courthouse steps, so I’m not counting out an eleventh-hour deal here. Then again, writers are stubborn (read that “filled with righteous indignation”) and they’ve got the five-month strike in 1988 to prove that they don’t bluff.

I’m not that interested in the almost-immediate impact upon late night talk shows and daytime soap operas; however, I’m a little worried about The Closer, Burn Notice, Ugly Betty, and Psych.

For more information:

Chicago Tribune

Writers’ Guild of America
http://www.wga.org/ (west)
http://www.wgaeast.org/ (east)


Internet Marketing for Lawyers: All About This Google Page Rank Business

There's lots of chatter on the web about Google's PageRank and how lots of pages have suddenly been "demoted" ... here, I've gathered together a collection of links on the topic:

1. Google's explanation of its PageRank;

2. The ever-changing Wikipedia article on PageRank;

3. Phil Craven's article at WebWorkshop, explaining how PageRank works and introducing the concept of LinkFarms;

4. Matt Cutts' e-mail to SearchEngineJournal, where he confirms that the recent alteration of PageRank was due to paid links (lots of comments here);

5. And now, the blog commentary: Problogger, SearchEngineGuide, and
Entrepreneur's Journey.


Writer-Lawyers: Laura James

From Publishers' Lunch today:

"Attorney, true crime historian, and founder of CLEWS: The True Crime Blog Laura James's THE LOVE PIRATE, the untold story of Dr. Zeo Zoe Wilkins, a wealthy American playgirl and osteopath who shot one husband, experimented with a slow poison on another, drove a lover to suicide, ruined two banks, blackmailed her abortion clients, and dealt in illegal drug and drink during Prohibition, culminating in her unsolved murder in 1924, and evidence suggesting her lawyer, Jesse James Jr., was the one who slit her throat for a fortune in diamonds, to Philip Turner at Union Square Press, by Rick Broadhead at Rick Broadhead & Associates (NA)."

Laura James has a fabulous blog, and I'm thankful to Publisher's Lunch for the discovery. At Clews, The Historic True Crime Blog, James writes, "WELCOME to my study of historic true crime, where the chairs rest at the intersection of history, journalism, law, and murder, and the shelves are filled with the finest true crime literature. PS STEAL FROM THIS LIBRARY AND IT'S PISTOLS AT DAWN."

Her blog is chock full of great stuff, and I'm looking forward to surfing through all of it.

I'm also interested in reading her book on Dr. Zeo Zoe Wilkins. Never heard of this case before. Why am I already imagining a movie with Angelina Jolie in this role? The Jesse James connection? Her role in Original Sin? I dunno. I do know we'll have to wait for the book -- a quick surf for background info on Dr Wilkins doesn't bring up much.


Managing Time: Mary Kay's Rule of 6

Mary Kay Ash began each morning with a list of six things to accomplish that day - things that had to be done. I try and do this, too.

The spin that I put on Mary Kay's rule is while all six tasks must be done, the yuckiest one on the list has to be done first. Get the Yuck out of the way, and the rest of the day is much nicer.


NYTimes Reading Room Blog - Your Online Book Club?

On October 11th, NYT Book Review Editor Sam Tanenhaus announced that the new translation of Tolstoy's War and Peace (by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) would be read and discussed in a blog format, one volume of the tome each week (plus the epilogue), with a panel of bloggers making their contributions and the door open for any and all of us to comment. The blog has been named "The Reading Room."

It's already October 26th, perhaps a little late to play catch-up with a 1200-page work but not too late to watch this baby and see what happens. It's definitely something different on the menu from Oprah's version with its message boards.

Here's the panel, as described by the Blog:

Bill Keller
Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, reported from the paper's Moscow Bureau from December, 1986, until October, 1991.

Stephen Kotkin
Stephen Kotkin teaches history and directs the program in Russian and Eurasian studies at Princeton University.

Francine Prose
Francine Prose's most recent book is Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them.

Liesl Schillinger
Liesl Schillinger, a regular reviewer for the Book Review, studied comparative literature and Russian at Yale, and lived in Moscow in 1993, where she was editor of the English supplement of Moscow Magazine and wrote dispatches for The New Republic.

Sam Tanenhaus (Moderator)
Sam Tanenhaus is the editor of the Book Review.


Number of Visits, Visit Length, Visitor Path

I don't know about you, but I'm more interested in the length of visits to a site, and the path the visitor took to get there, than I am in the number of visits. Sure, it's nice (and important) to have lots of traffic. But if all that traffic amounts to a visit length of zero seconds, and no return visits, then what purpose is being served?


Managing Time: My Dr. Pepper Rule

It's so different.

Practicing law meant watching time to the tenth of an hour, and being available for clients 24/7. Answering the phone, responding to e-mails, and juggling this with the work load -- it became a lifestyle.

I took pride on how well I could multi-task all this, day in and day out. It was also a good excuse to buy new techno-gadgets.

Now that I'm writing? Things have changed. Not that time isn't part of the billing process, of course. I bill by the hour on most projects.

However, I cannot function as a writer and answer e-mails as they pop in, or pick up the phone every single time it rings. I have to have blocks of time to concentrate on the writing, alone. With an occasional break with the dogs out back, in the sunshine, tossing the ball around.

If I start answering the phone or responding to e-mails, willy nilly, then I won't make my daily word count. Word Count. That's my new Magic Number.

So, I've developed the Dr. Pepper Rule. I check voice mail and e-mail, and respond accordingly, at 10, 2, and 4. It works for me.


Yago Starak Made $10,899.83 BLOGGING Last Month

Yes, that's right - $100.17 short of $11K in one month. Is this true? How did he do it? Who is this guy?

Go read all about it for yourself, including checking out his numbers (because he does provide support for his tally) at his blog, Entrepreneur's Journey.

Of course, Starak's post is all about monitizing your blog - and he's also promoting his Blog Mastermind program - but it is a fascinating thing to consider: a Six Figure Blog is, apparently, doable.

From a writing perspective, there's more to it. Darrell Rouse gives us The 4 Pillars of Writing Exceptional Blogs over at Problogger, Jay Rosen of NYU gives out awards at The Best Blogging Newspapers in the US, and Tony Long at Wired.Com remains unconvinced in You, To, Can Right Like a Blogger.


Online Research: Don't Stop At Google

When doing online research, it's tempting to use Google and stop there. Don't.

Check out the different search results I retrieved this morning for the one word search "writing" using Google, Yahoo, and Ask (sponsored links excluded, of course). Only Writing.Com appears within the top 5 results on all three search engines:

Google gave me:

Writers, Writing, Poetry, Creative Writing, Fiction ... Writing.Com is the online community for creative writing, fiction writing, story writing, poetry writing, writing contests, writing portfolios, writing help ...
www.writing.com/ - 45k - Cached - Similar pages

Writing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Writing, is the representation of language in a textual medium; that is with the use of signs or symbols. It is distinguished from illustration such as cave ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing - 61k - Cached - Similar pages

Guide to Grammar and Writing
The Guide to Grammar and Writing contains scores of digital handouts on grammar and English usage, over 170 computer-graded quizzes, recommendations on ...
grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ - 23k - Cached - Similar pages

Advice for Freelance WritersArticles to help you launch a freelance writing career, from a former literary agent and PLAYBOY editor.
www.writing.org/ - 21k - Cached - Similar pages

A quality educational site offering 5000+ FREE printable theme units, word puzzles, writing forms, book report forms,math, ideas, lessons and much more.www.abcteach.com/directory/basics/writing/ - 31k - Cached - Similar pages

Yahoo gave me:

Writing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Illustration of a scribe writing ... Writing is also a distinctly human activity. ... Such writing has been speculatively designated as coincidental. ...
Quick Links: Introduction - Means for recording information - Writing systems
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing - 61k

Online community for readers and writers of all ages, interests, and skill levels.www.writing.com - 44k

Purdue University Writing Lab
Information about services offered, plus handouts for students and teachers.owl.english.purdue.edu - 8k

OWL Handouts Listed by Topic
... have an entire section on using our Writing Lab and our OWL in various courses. ... Coping with Writing Anxiety. Developing an Outline. Sample Outline. Non ...owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/index2.html - 33k - Cached

Pages tagged with "writing" on del.icio.us
... steinmetz to computer writing typewriter typography simple tools ... citizenhelder to moleskine productivity lifehacks gtd hacks writing creativity ...del.icio.us/tag/writing - 16k - Cached

Ask gave me:

Writing articles and resources. Tips about how to become a better writer, get published and find writing markets. From Moira Allen.
www.writing-world.com/ www.writing-world.com/ · Cached

An online community dedicated to fostering writing skills. With a free membership anyone may read, write, rate, and review works.
www.writing.com/ www.writing.com/ · Cached

The Writery
Newsletter of the campus' writing assistance program.

Purdue Online Writing Lab
Collection of handouts on all aspects of writing, from spelling to plagiarism, plus grammar exercises with answer keys, job search workshop, ...
owl.english.purdue.edu/ · Cached

Articles to help you launch a freelance writing career, from a former literary agent and PLAYBOY editor.
www.writing.org/ www.writing.org/ · Cached


Debut: 2 New Magazines 4 Lawyers

From Meg at Wooden Horse Publishing, scoop on two new magazines focusing upon lawyers as their readership:

"PRECEDENT mixes law and lifestyle, offering features on legal news, gossip,
profiles, and fashion and style. Melissa Kluger is editor of this
quarterly Law and Style Media publication, which debuts October 19. 10,000
copies will be mailed to Toronto lawyers and is available by subscription...

"ASSOCIATES is a new Canadian magazine targeting young lawyers and will
appear quarterly starting in 2008. Publisher CLB Media (CANADIAN LAWYER)
bills it as being "sophisticated, lively and somewhat irreverent." It will
go to 10,000 law firm associates nationally. A "preview issue" will be
mailed this week, same as PRECEDENT (above) and with the same target

For more on Precedent, check out the Law & Style Media blog ....and you might want to check out an article discussing how the two are directly competing with each other at Canada.com.

Image shown above: cover of Precedent as shown at Law & Style Media -- this first issue hits the stands on October 19th. Of course, this new mag isn't to be confused with the bi-monthly offering of the Australian Lawyers' Alliance, also called Precedent.


Stickies - Fabulous Freeware by Tom Revell

Tom Revell at Zhorn Software is a friend I've never met.

His Stickies freeware is a fabulous find as well as an award-winning bit of software. It gets Five Stars from users and reviewers alike.

The image shown above is directly from the Zhorn site -- it shows how you can alter the colors and fonts as you prefer. The actual stickies can be sized to fit your screen preferences, of course -- and they can be stacked, or hidden, unlike the example shown above. No, your screen need not be covered with stickies - these things are a help, not a hindrance!

Not only does Stickies 6.0 allow me to place virtual stickies on my computer screen, but it gives me an alarm function as well. I can share stickies with friends. I can hide them, make them opaque, attach them to specific files, and schedule them to open only when I need them.

Tom Revell describes his product this way:

"Stickies is a PC utility I wrote to try to cut down on the number of Post-It notes I was leaving stuck to my monitor. It is a computerised version of those notes.

"The design goal behind Stickies is that the program is small and simple. Stickies will not mess with your system files, or write to the registry. Stickies stores all information in a single text-based ini file.

"Stickies will never support animated dancing figures, or play "Greensleeves". They are instead yellow rectangular windows onto which you can put some text notes. Once created, they will stay on screen until you take them away. Just like a real sticky piece of paper."

I can't recommend this program enough - it's a Must Have, to quote one of the User Reviews at Snapfiles.

For reviews (all Five Star), see: FreewareGenius, Snapfiles, Softsea, CNetDownload.com, VersionTracker.


Perez Hilton v Lindsay Lohan's Friend: Defamation Concerns for a Blogger

All the media coverage today surrounding Perez Hilton being sued by Lindsay Lohan's friend for defamation may give many a blogger pause.

Here's the skinny: bloggers can be sued for defamation not only for their own posts - anonymous or otherwise - but also for the comments left on their blog. Comments, too? Yep.

And, in today's legal arena, remember that while they may not win, they may well be able to pursue a lawsuit against you. In this murky, new area of the law, there's lots of leeway to argue that a cause of action has been established and the suit's not frivolous (even if it's not winable).

While the law is still evolving, here's what is leading the pack:

1. John Doe 1 v. John Cahill. In October 2005, the Delaware Supreme Court held that anonymous bloggers are not immune from being sued, but the standard of proof to reveal their identity is the highest possible burden.

2.The US Communications Decency Act holds that a blogger who repeats someone else's statements is legally responsible for the defamatory content of those statements, just as if the blogger was the original speaker, if the blogger knew, or had reason to know, that the statements were defamatory. The Act protects against liability for online "intermediaries" who merely provide or republish speech by others.

For a nice discussion of this evolving area of the law, check out TCS Daily's 2003 article, The Next Litigation Background; the British blog Internet Defamation which has been posting exclusively on this topic from a world-wide perspective since 2005; the articles at Law.Com, including Charles Toutant's on cult bloggers and the October 2007 Law.Com's online report of the National Law Journal's Roundtable discussion on this issue.


Test Your Grammar & Punctuation

Great, fun, and free: the Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation's collection of free online quizzes. It's addictive. (They also offer a free reference guide to many grammar rules - it's worth bookmarking.)

Another great free site, with lots and lots of quizzes: About.Com's Learning English as a Second Language Quiz Collection.

Finally, if you really love this stuff, check out: UsingEnglish.Com's selection of over 250 free quizzes; and the SAT preparation quizzes for Basic Grammar, Intermediate Grammar, and Advanced Grammar.


Choosing A Digital Marketplace: Is It Zipidee?

The New York Times is reporting today on Red Herring's story of the upcoming debut of Zipidee -- a type of E-Bay site which will let folk sell ebooks, software, games, and the like through its marketplace.

The NYT comments thus far are interesting: David Mitchell writes that Tradebit.com has been doing this for years already, and Kram urges content creators to sell from their own sites, avoiding these marketplace hubs.

Meanwhile, it's Nick Gonzalez at TechCrunch that gives the real skinny on Zipidee: he compares more than just Tradebit.com -- he brings in Payloadz, e-Junkie, Lulu, Edgeio, and eBay. He also discusses horizontal versus vertical, pointing to DocStoc, Scribd, AmieStreet, 5Min, and Snocap.

Gonzales does address several items that distinguish Zipidee from the rest of the pack: more control over pricing; the ability to create your own little virtual store (akin to E-Bay); etc. An important feature: Zipidee will offer its own proprietary DRM protection function.

Meanwhile, over at the Wall Street Journal -- they just like the name.


Great List of Social Bookmarking Sites

Vandalay Website Design has compiled a list of 233 social bookmarking sites which is fabulous -- they're organized well and the list is relatively new.

Wikipedia has an ever-changing list, too, but it's not as nice.