Tag Archives: Authors

1 Concept for writing prowess!

Most often, great thinkers, and great writers use words well. Natural talent helps, of course, but with concentration, anyone may hone his communication prowess in writing and speaking. It is a skill, just as much as it is an art.

Here’s 1 Idea that will IGNITE your writing:

Action Words.

Here’s a great list of good words.

When one pens accurate and powerful nouns and verbs, one’s writing operates on a new axis. An axis of Triumph!

(or at least improvement)

Do you have favorite actions words? (Obviously, I like the word “prowess”!)

I hope this propels your writing. Let me know what you think…

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Open Letter to Online Swipers

Swiping?

To Whom it May Concern (Which is probably most of you),

So, maybe you’ve wondered about using those easy to cut-and-paste photos you’ve seen online–EVERYWHERE. Is it “common law” to take what you find? Finders-Keepers, Losers-Weepers?

Well, copyright law, and creative/intellectual property law is a subject of widespread ignorance. I’ve checked with some people “in the know” to make us aware of the basics.

Simply put: Any content you happen to find online is not, by default, yours to use. It’s. Not. Yours.

By what if I’m not making money from what I swipe, er…um… borrow, like with my blog, for instance; what then, huh?

When in doubt, ask yourself this simple question: “Is it really mine?”

Did you make it? If not, it’s not yours.

If you know the person who made it? Still. not. yours.

That sounds so cut and dry. Perhaps even harsh. It hurts me to have to tell you.

What if I got the content idea somewhere, but change a few words so I can be the author?

Then, ask yourself this question: “Is it really an original twist, created by me, with my unique flavor, not just a bit rehashed?”

A parody is fine, but when your idea is not a true takeoff from the original–Buzzz. Infringement.

What about “fair use”? If something is out there for the taking, why can’t I use it?

Here’s the deal with that:

Creative Common (CC) status is one for fair use, but if an image or video is not explicitly cited this way (“CC”), for instance, one can find these types of images on Flikr), it remains “all rights reserved”. Just because swiping is commonand easy (what some mistakenly may call “common law”) does not mean it is ethical or legal to use it. And try to always cite the source of the piece, no matter what.

Take this example to heart: With FBI warnings we’ve all seen before the feature on our DVDs, it works the same way. Those materials are for private use. One is not allowed to copy, distribute, sell, or publicly use the material. There was an area school, in these parts, that was showing videos to students in the typical way. A School, mind you. A learning institution. A disgruntled student reported them, and FBI agents came and took all their things (videos taped from tv, DVDs that were not purely listed as for educational use, etc) and told them that even as a school, they could use show these things for educational purposes, but only temporarily-30 days. This school, like many people do, infringed on copyright laws. Notice: They weren’t making money doing it either. The same thing goes for music. If you make a DVD copy of songs for a friend, it’s stealing the songs, because they are not paid for. It’s called pirating, whether it’s for images, music, or movies. Do people do it all the time? Oh, yes. But they ought not to.

After 75 years, unless otherwise noted, the copyright goes in the public domain. Dover Publications specializes in items of this nature (art, books, crafts, etc.)

I mention all this, not because I expect people will do the right thing. I’m not the police, and I won’t be making my list, and turning you in. This letter serves as a warning that those who swipe are liable for theft. They could be sued for damages by the creator, production company, and corporation, etc. They could even fined by a governing authority. It’s something to remember if ones chooses to play fast and loose with copyright law.

It’s actually in our best interest as writers, creators, and even as regular citizens, to respect property rights and engage in the highest ethical practice in every case possible.

In a case like youtube, and other webscites like failblog, one uploads the video or photos for sharing and distribution. But if you’ve ever submitted to those websites, you will be asked to agree that you have the rights to upload it. The legal info is all there to read (usually in the terms and conditions section).

Ethics:
Why does it matter?

Especially is Everyone does it!

I don’t, and can’t agree with that sort of  premise for doing what we ought to do what we do (in this case: take or not take). The reasoning that swiping is okay because it does no harm is a purely pragmatic rationale. It is a consequence driven ethic. This is secular and baseless, and because of this, a rather inferior worldview and rationale for our actions. It is a flawed position because we never know the full repercussions of our consequence-based choices. (We cannot know the true consequences.) The ill-effects, or unethical fallout is not comprehensible; therefore, it, in itself, makes a poor foundation for our choices.

A Note to Ethical Folks, Christians (ethical or not), and Idealists:

Secular/Godless reasons for behavior are so mingled in our cultural fabric and common mentality, that we often don’t realize that pragmatics are an illegitimate reason for decision making. (I cover this more in a previous post called “How do we decide things”. To read it click here.) In case you are still confused, I should mention that I wrote it. It’s original writing, so that means I own the copyright and all rights are reserved (by me, the author), just *in case* you feel like doing a quick cut and paste for your purposes…even if you won’t be making $.  : )

Our standard for what we think, say, and do is founded on a perfect and holy God, whose nature and character is the basis for all goodness. We use a vantage point outside our weak, selfish, or flawed one, to order our world. Yes, it is the realm of Ideals that we must aim, though thorough perfection remains out of grasp.

Without this, all we our left with is fickle consensus, or individual and unanchored preference.

-yours truly,

Lisa

(comments? go for it!)

5 Things Readers Wish Bloggers Knew

wifi, coffee, donuts: A bloggers paradise

If you want to have a devoted readership, these 5 ideas will eliminate some common mistakes bloggers make. That means more readership, and more reader loyalty.

1. Be original. Even if you get sparked to write because of someone else, put your own creative twist on it.

2. Use good images. In a recent static that just came to me… more than 90% of regular internet users are visual people. The other 10% squint. A good image attracts attention, and makes your post more memorable. [Double points if it’s funny.]

NOTE: Be ethical. Always use your own photography, or ask permission and credit your photo sources. Link to the original image. Photos belong to the creator, not to you. Swiping them for your uses is what we called stealing.

3. Remember, you’re probably not that interesting. Rarely do people enjoy a personal journal type blog, unless you’re Lady Gaga, David Hasselhoff,Lance Armstrong, Snooki, or someone who is both famous and intriguing–No one cares that you made Mac and cheese, went shopping, took a nap, ate something, or some other stupid thing that chronicles your life. No. One. Cares.

(If that’s all you have to post about, read an interesting book, and blog about it, or skip the postings until you become infamous.)

4. Know when to post. Don’t write and post when you’re tired, quite ill, hungry, or up late because of insomnia. These posts you may live to regret. They won’t be your best work, and if you write during these circumstances often your posts will get very annoying.

5. Don’t linger. If possible keep your word count to 200-500 words. A reader should be able to get through your post in 3-7 minutes. Blogging is a different writing medium than books, or magazines. Don’t get confused and believe that even with good content you can get readers to stay for more than 3-7 minutes on one post. It just doesn’t work that way, my friend.

Sometimes I break this “rule,” but I know my blog suffers for it.

What things bug you about blogs?

Any questions?

UPDATE: In the comments, I post a reply to a reader who defends “swiping images”. Find out what is legal to take from the web, by clicking the Comments button. Thanks for reading and participating!

My Utmost for His Highest

Mr. Oswald Chambers (the copyrights to the photo have expired)

Rarely do devotional classics of the caliber of Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest disappoint.

I’ll have you know, this classic is like the Chuck Norris of devotions.

Each day you can be encouraged my the divine inspiration that came through his pen for these short devotions. (Oh, you know, calm down… I’m not saying it’s The Bible. It’s just, simply put, (in academic terms I learned in graduate school)…. “frickin’ awesome”.

Find it here. Just add it to you bookmarks and be done with the searching, already.

Time needed 3-6 min: Your spiritual challenge today is…

1. Link to MUfHH,

2. Read 1-3 days’ worth of entires, and

3. Comment here, with any sort of insight or thought you’d like.

Thank you and may you enjoy Chambers as much as I have.

Mystically Wired: A book review

A book to change the way you see God and communicate with him.

Thomas Nelson Publishing, through their poorly-named, BookSneeze I review for BookSneeze initiative, sent me Ken Wilson’s book Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer.

This book promised to hit the sweet-spot of my spiritual interests, and I was not disappointed. Wilson was spot on starting out in his book that our first priority in seeking God and utilizing prayer is to pray for the desire to pray. This often overlooked first-things-first way allows us to receive from God a thirst for him (which comes via God, not us). This step invigorates our longing to communicate and be more aware of God.

Wilson gives a thoughtful and careful look at prayer, and our inherent basic need for interaction with God as Spirit shows us that we actually all pray for peace–peace of mind.

A “mystic” sense of God is not a pickled and preserved static view of a far-off Being, but an ongoing dew-kissed refreshment to our souls that adds richness to our spiritual life, our growth, meaning in life, discovery, and general renewal. It is realizing that God is great, mysterious, unfathomable, available, and quite nearby. It’s the beginning of a deep and nourishing relationship.

This way of apprehending God is a critical aspect of a walk with God. It is also a seminal part of Christian history, faith, and ongoing transformation toward holiness.

As a person who’s spent hundreds of hours studying prayer on the graduate level, and enriching my own walk with God through a rich prayer life, I can truly say, “Well done, Mr Wilson.”

Here’s the product page description from the publisher.

To read samples, find out more, or purchase it, you’ll find it here at Amazon.

A Pathway to Publishing, Interview with Ed Cyzewski

A Path to Publishing, by Ed Cyzewski, 2010

Interview with Ed Cyzewski

Author of  A Pathway to Publishing ©2010

1. At the end of each chapter you give Action steps to help a writer move toward concrete goals. Is this what you did when you wrote, or do you wish you had done it? How important is this element?

It’s some of both. Most of the action steps are based on what I have found most helpful, but a few of them come from what I have learned from other writers and publishing professionals. I’ve had some wonderful guides throughout my brief career and they helped me take the right action steps along way, though sometimes I stumbled onto what worked best for me.

Beginning writers need to take themselves and their work seriously, and the best way forward is to take action. Whether it’s something as simple as reading the latest edition of a writing magazine (such as Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, or The Writer) or jotting down ideas for books and magazine articles, we all need to start somewhere.

2.      Which part of the publishing process is a beginner most likely to overlook?

I think there are two things beginners can overlook. The obvious one is the degree to which writers must be able to market their work on their own, but the more subtle one is learning how to write a book that is both true to their vision for it and suited to a specific audience. I believe that getting into the heads of readers is one of the most challenging and important aspects of writing. There are a lot of writers who labor over manuscripts that will not connect with readers because they aren’t asking the questions that readers will be asking. I have made this mistake far too often myself.

3.    From the start of your book, you tell readers to prepare for rejection. Aren’t you afraid you’ll scare them off?

I used to work at an art gallery, and I was in charge of the volunteers who returned work to artists after it was rejected by a jury. About a quarter of them acted surprised, outraged, and suspicious that their work was rejected. I’ve always thought they shouldn’t submit their work unless they are prepared to see it rejected, and that’s how I feel about writing. Publishing hopefuls should not try this unless they are prepared for editors to say “no,” reviewers to say “not quite,” and readers to say, “That book’s not worthy my $15.”

Handling rejection is a necessary and ordinary part of the business for every writer. Even Christian literary legend Fred Buechner shared at an event last year that his regular publisher rejected his latest book proposal. It never ends, but it does become easier to deal with. In addition, if you can keep the big picture of your writing career (and/or ministry) in view, then a few measly rejection letters aren’t too big of a setback. For a bit more about dealing with rejection, I have a series on it at www.edcyz.com.

4.      Do writers really need literary agents in order to succeed?

Agents aren’t exactly required for everyone. I have a friend with a really influential blog, and he was offered a book deal based on this amazing series he posted. No agent necessary. However, for the vast majority of us hoping to secure a book deal with a major publisher, an agent is necessary. Most editors will not even look at a manuscript unless an agent sends it to them.

If you want to try publishing without an agent, keep in mind that you’ll probably make tons of mistakes, some of which may affect your bottom line, control over your material, and future works. One friend I know narrowly avoided legal trouble because of some misunderstood contract terms. I view agents as an insurance policy and as a first line of defense to make sure your proposal/manuscript is as bullet proof as possible.

5.      You mention self-publishing as an option in this book, and the book itself is self-published. This has been thought to not be a legitimate form of publishing in the past. Is that still true, and what makes a self-published book succeed?

As far as legitimacy, let’s note the three major things publishers provide: editorial/design development, distribution/marketing, and authority. Today writers can hire their own editors, designers, and publicists, while selling through online sites instead of book stores. Most nonfiction writers won’t get in the door at a publisher without a marketing platform that will enable them to sell their books anyway.

If an author can make a legitimate case for writing a book and selling it to a specific niche, then I think it has a shot as a self-published work. Many authors are publishing commercially and self-publishing, but they are doing so with an established marketing platform and a degree of authority—Cory Doctorow and Seth Godin come to mind. I have spoken with one very well known editor at a major NYC publishing house who said, off the record, that self-publishing has lost its stigma for the most part. I don’t think self-publishing in and of itself is illegitimate. Authors who skimp on editorial development, design, and building their credibility are the ones who give self-publishing a bad name.

Let’s face it, book covers with clip art and tacky fonts are a tough sell. I hired my brother-in-law (www.joelinmotion.com) who is fresh out of Savannah College of Art and Design to put my cover together. He’s not a professional book designer, but he knows how to pick fonts and colors. The small investment I made in his help made a huge difference in the quality of the book in my opinion.

Having commercially published first, I can say that self-publishing involves a ton more work since you’re doing all of the little things yourself, such as book lay out, sending out press releases, and worrying about how your book appears at online sites. Since I can’t say this self-published book is a success yet, having just released it, I can’t quite answer this question definitively. However, I think the key to success, however you publish, is to market your work until you drop and to contribute to your community of readers.

6. First time writers don’t think too much about marketing their book. You seem to speak to that issue a lot. Was this a surprise to you, and what nuggets did you learn when you published?

I was blown away by how hard it is to sell books. The most effective way to sell books is in person. I’m a big fan of blogging and all that, but when you can hand someone your book and tell its story in 30 seconds, that person will most likely buy it. The personal connections you build online may be significant and may sell books, but selling it in person is quite effective. In addition, I’m a big believer in radio and podcast interviews, as well as online videos. Anything that helps readers make a personal connection with the author will be most effective because we’re all wondering, “Do I trust this person?” Think of the best ways you can answer that question, and that’s how you need to market. Having said all of that, writers need good web sites with stellar blogs in order to stay connected with their readers.

One other nugget is to begin thinking of every personal connection that can help you book speaking events. I find it really tough to find speaking engagements where I can talk about my books, and it can be hard to land events at book stores. Start thinking about this now. If you’re going the self-publishing route, keep in mind that many book stores will not want to host a self-published author, so think up some plan B options.

7.   You offer lots of extra free goodies and resources for new writers, tell us about some.

I think most writers will benefit from the online marketing chapter that I listed online. It covers everything from setting up a web site and writing a blog to using social media. This is a good place to begin building a platform, even if your long-term goal is to integrate speaking engagements and radio/podcast spots. I also have a sample of the book available for those who aren’t convinced by my “brilliant” answers here.

There is a growing list of links at the Resource page, but a glitch in my blogging program erased about 90% of them. I’m adding them again, so keep dropping by there for suggested articles and books on publishing.

Lastly, my writing blog www.edcyz.com has a bunch of series that writers will find helpful. My latest series covers what I learned from the self-publishing process.

Thanks for hosting me on your site Lisa! Happy writing.

Ed

(Nancy Eiesland) ‘The Disabled God’ -How do we define “normal”?

In reality, all of us “healthy” or “normal” people can more aptly call ourselves, “the temporarily able-bodied.”

Theologian, sociologist, and author Nancy Eiesland was wheelchair bound since childhood. She surprised many when she said she hoped to be disabled in heaven. She died at age 44 of congenital lung cancer, but not before she made huge inroads for the Rights and Dignity of the Disabled, and penned a groundbreaking book about understanding disability, and suffering, in light of God, and his nature.

Nancy Eiesland 1965-2009

Article excerpt on Eiesland from the “Scotsman” publication:

By the time of her death, Eiesland had come to believe God was disabled, a view she articulated in her influential 1994 book, The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability. She pointed to the scene described in Luke 24:36-39 in which the risen Jesus invites his disciples to touch his wounds.

“In presenting his impaired body to his startled friends, the resurrected Jesus is revealed as the disabled God,” she wrote. God remains a God the disabled can identify with, she argued – he is not cured and made whole; his injury is part of him, neither a divine punishment nor an opportunity for healing. FULL ARTICLE HERE

Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability