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.