<![CDATA[Writing on Fire - Blog]]>Wed, 21 Feb 2018 03:22:53 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Are People too Dependent on Technology?]]>Sat, 24 Dec 2016 05:07:34 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2016/12/are-people-too-dependent-on-technology.htmlThe human spirit must prevail over technology.

– Albert Einstein smartphoneby Zach Vega via Wikimedia CC By-SA 3.0
I am driven to write about technology because I’m suffering from withdrawal. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve gone through the Five Stages of Grief over the loss of my iPhone. Due to a recent incident I’ve had with the Apple Corporation’s security ─ security that is intended to protect customers.

I was locked out of my Apple ID, which rendered my iPhone unusable. In need of a password reset, my account went into recovery mode. I could no longer access any part of my phone that I had grown dependant on.

I could no longer access my calendar. I had to rely on memory for what I could, and relied on confirmation phone calls to find out the rest (hopefully I didn’t forget anything).

I could not access my contacts. I froze, realizing that I don’t even know my brother’s phone number.

Thankfully my email is available in cloud accounts that I can access separately online.

I even stumbled through the dark bedroom, while my husband slept, wishing I had my trusty flashlight on my phone. Alas, the flashlight won’t even work without an Apple ID.

For the longest time, I avoided technology, preferring to keep an old-fashioned calendar and address book. I didn’t trust technology, after my computer crashed and killed my hard drive. I decided to move to the cloud. Relying on corporate servers and passwords.

So, this Christmas I’m celebrating simplicity without the technology of my Smartphone. At this point I have spent two weeks without access, while Apple’s Account Recovery is in progress. How long? I do not know and neither does anyone in Apple’s support call center.

This experience has me re-thinking technology. I took my son to the library a few weeks ago, and it was a sad sight. Many shelves were bare, yet the computer bank was full of people.

I am reminded of the fact that I can’t work without my internet connection, and I wonder if technology has too much control over our lives. Maybe we need to remember that it only has as much control as we allow it. 

<![CDATA[How to Blog Like a Boss!]]>Wed, 04 May 2016 20:40:09 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2016/05/blog-like-a-boss.htmlPicture of a Boss Bloggerphoto by DaVinciS via freeimages.com
An awesome blog is a great way to establish your online presence and establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Blogging is a form of content marketing that helps you to build trust, enhance awareness of your brand, and build relationships. With billions of blogs and social media feeds, you need to make the content of your blog something that people want to read. People will not waste their time reading something boring, that has no value, or that is riddled with mistakes. These blogging basics will help you to blog like a boss.

Mistakes Will Cost You

“Little mistakes” in your writing can end up costing you. Charles Duncombe, an online entrepreneur, believes that misspellings put off consumers and cause them concerns about a website’s credibility. His website figure analysis showed a single spelling mistake could cut online sales in half. Online dating site Zoosk has research that shows poor grammar can affect your success, or lack thereof, with online dating. Forty-eight percent of the singles that were polled considered poor grammar to be a deal breaker, with spelling errors being a major turn off. Each day I come across spelling and word usage errors in Facebook feeds, blogs, even news articles in mainstream media. If you don’t want to end up with an embarrassing fail, it pays to have someone go over your blogs and other materials.

Rock the Emotions

For your writing to be effective, you need to make an emotional connection with the reader. Tell a story, and use it to draw on emotions. Make your story interesting and memorable. A great storyteller will be able to engage an audience in a discourse about a mundane topic, like septic tank maintenance, and make it entertaining, informative, and even humorous.

Also, use an appropriate tone for the audience. Who is the target of this blog piece? Is a formal business-like tone necessary or an informal conversational tone? Make sure to pick the right words for the occasion.

Your Content Needs to be Epic

Your content must have value. Don't’ rehash something that is already all over the internet; instead, provide a fresh angle.  The reader wants a benefit to reading your blog; over anything else, he or she could spend time reading. Answer a question for the reader or teach the reader something.

My social media feeds entice me with interesting headlines of articles that I think I would like to read. I bookmark several pieces that hopefully contain helpful information to read later (on that magical day that I have time). Once I land on an article, I scan it to see if there is anything worthwhile. Sadly, I often move along because the piece was void of anything worthwhile. You’re probably like me and don’t have much time for surfing the net and reading blogs. Therefore, content must have value to the reader and be interesting.

Don’t Write Like a Newb

Many people don’t have the time, desire, or attention span to read large chunks of text. Often, people scan, rather than read each word of the entire article. Make your blog easy to read by splitting large paragraphs into chunks and using subheadings to make it easier to skim.

Use your headings and subheadings to grab the reader. Incorporate The Four U’s into your headlines: urgency, usefulness, uniqueness, and ultra specific. Create a sense of urgency by giving a reason to act now rather than waiting. Make your headline show the piece’s usefulness by giving the reader some real value -- not empty fluff. You must be unique to stand out from the others. Be ultra specific by being concise and using facts or figures.

What is the purpose of your content? Likely, the first goal is for your blog to be read. Not many people publish, hoping no one ever reads the material they wrote. So, always write with the reader in mind. You have mere seconds to grab attention and keep it. Make your blog easy to read, interesting, and error-free. Remember to do it with style and blog like a boss!

<![CDATA[How Important is Individuality and Expression in Writing?]]>Fri, 22 Apr 2016 05:28:01 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2016/04/individuality-and-expression-in-writing.html"Self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment." Pearl S. Buck Picture
Individuality and expression is important in writing for many reasons. Each writer must find his or her own, unique voice to keep a piece of writing interesting and to connect with readers. Without individuality and expression, a work runs the risk of becoming boring and lifeless. Great writing is special and stands out as being different.

Writing, as an art form, is an expression of individuality and creativity. A good writer uses words to be descriptive, paints a picture to help readers see, and invokes the senses. The goal of writing should be to produce something interesting, different and full of color. Even non-fiction and journalistic writing involve the art of putting the right words together to tell a story - maybe even evoking the emotions of the reader.

Even if one considers writing to be a craft rather than an art, it requires a unique voice and individuality. A writer's job is to make the most inane subject come to life. The craft of writing must be learned, practiced, and polished to make the work shine.
The Writer's Voice
Beginning writers are often urged to find their voice. Voice is a writer's personal style or personality showing, through their writing. Many things work together to make up a writer's voice: vocabulary, sentence flow, stylistic choices, and approach to subjects. Writing shouldn't sound awkward or artificial, but should stay authentic and flow naturally.

The long revered guide for writers, The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White, says that all writers, inevitably, reveal some part of themselves through their work — stating, "No writer long remains incognito."

Being an individual and using self-expression isn't always easy. It is easy to lose confidence, or become confused by oftentimes well-meaning teachers, editors, or critics. It takes a little time, patience, and practice to gain courage and confidence to express oneself.
Stand Out
There are millions of writers out there, putting forth their thoughts and versions of stories. One needs to be different from everyone else to stand out. With so many articles, books, and blogs published, readers have a plethora of material at their fingertips to read. An unoriginal, repetitious work doesn't hold much benefit to the reader. The work must hold some difference from other works on the same topic.

It's important to grab readers' attention, to draw them in and keep them reading. The use of expression is a great tool that helps one to click with the readers. It is important to connect with readers and in order to do that the writer must show that he or she is a real person. We've all read dry, factual textbooks that lack expression from the author — the kind of reading material that puts one to sleep.

By writing with some expression and flair, a writer can entice the reader. William Zinsser explains it in his book On Writing Well, "[Writers] sit down to commit an act of literature, and the self who emerges on paper is far stiffer than the person who sat down to write. The problem is to find the real man or woman behind the tension. Ultimately the product that any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is." Whether one writes fiction, poetry, non-fiction, web content, news or other anything else, fresh writing that is exciting and different to the reader is highly valuable. Some writers may find individuality and expression off-putting, preferring anonymity. Expressing oneself, using one's voice and being unique does not mean that one has to divulge opinions, personal information or one's deepest secrets. A writer should tell a story in a way that only he or she can tell it.

<![CDATA[The Complete Guide to Screenwriting for Children's Film and Television: A Book Review]]>Tue, 21 Apr 2015 04:34:57 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2015/04/the-complete-guide-to-screenwriting-for-childrens-film-and-television-a-book-review.html
"All grown-ups were once children--although only very few of them remember it." Antoine de Saint Exupéry

I likely will never be a screenwriter, but a great resource for anyone who wants to become a screenwriter for children’s television will find the book “The Complete Guide to Screenwriting for Children's Film & Television” helpful. It is also a good read for anyone who likes writing for children in general. Writing for children is a wonderful way to let your creativity make a difference with children, either by educating them or making them happy.

The book enables the reader to understand children, like how they grasp humor and how to reach this target audience. As an adult, there is so much that we take for granted. It’s easy to forget that children are on a different level. The book is well organized and detailed. It is good at explaining children’s cognitive abilities and explains the audience for which you’ll be writing. It contains a wealth of information. Techniques, like rhyming, repetition, and rhythmic patterns, are explained.

The author, Motti Aviram, is an experienced director and content editor of children’s television. He is also a senior lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and design and Israel’s School of Screenwriting.

 “The Complete Guide to Screenwriting for Children’s Film & Television” is a great tool. It is available as a Kindle ebook on amazon.com.

I was provided a free copy of the book in return for my honest review.

<![CDATA[Why Does My Book Not Sell? 20 Simple Fixes by Rayne Hall]]>Wed, 25 Feb 2015 05:44:58 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2015/02/why-does-my-book-not-sell-20-simple-fixes-by-rayne-hall.html
cover of Why Does My Book Not Sell? 20 Simple Fixes
Rayne Hall has written several “Writer’s Craft” books to help authors. This addition to her series is for self-published authors who are trying to promote their books. “Why Does My Book Not Sell? 20 Simple Fixes” is a short book with simple ideas to help increase sales. Rayne Hall has written and sold many books in different genres. In trying to sell her books, she has made many mistakes and learned from them over the years. In this book, Hall shares what she has learned and is sharing it with other writers trying to sell theirs.

Quote form introduction - "Each chapter reveals one area where indie authors are sabotaging their books' success, and shows how you can free yourself from that trap. The focus is on simple fixes, and actions you can take immediately, although sometimes I point out long-term strategies.'"

Hall covers everything from making a book cover that grabs attention, offering sample pages to promoting on social media, and more. This is a great book for anyone who has written a book and is now tasked with trying to get sales. It’s one thing to write and upload a book for sale, but a challenge to get people to be aware of the book and to buy it. There are tons of books for sale, and it is easy for books to become hidden. While things that worked for one person may not work for another, advice to get your book to sell can be helpful.

This book is best for published indie authors or those with a book they are about to publish. “Why Does My Book Not Sell? 20 Simple Fixes” is available as an ebook on Amazon.com.

The ebook mentioned above was received for free in return for an honest review.

<![CDATA[A Review of Twitter for Writer's by Rayne Hall]]>Wed, 25 Feb 2015 04:36:58 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2015/02/a-review-of-twitter-for-writers-by-rayne-hall.html
cover of Twitter for Writers by Rayne Hall
Twitter can be a good, useful tool for writers. It can help writers network, connect with readers, create buzz, and gain insight. Twitter can also be a huge time sucker, since it’s easy to get caught up reading tweets, retweeting, etc. when one could be getting work done. The book "Twitter for Writers" by Rayne Hall is a short, easy read for people new to twitter, and it also has tips for people who are already familiar with Twitter. This book is part of Hall’s "Writer’s Craft" series for writers, and is aimed at book authors, but other writers and bloggers may find the book useful. Hall is an experienced Twitter user and in this book, she offers her advice for optimizing this social media platform.

The book is divided into sections, which make it easy to skip ahead to sections that may be helpful to you — choose basic subheadings if you are a beginner or choose advanced subheadings to get more strategies. The author mentions concentrating on quality followers, rather than the quantity of followers. Among the most helpful offerings of the book are tips to promote your book without annoying your followers. The author lets readers know mistakes that she made, so hopefully the reader can learn things to avoid.

"Twitter for Writers" is available on Amazon.com
. It is a quick read with several ideas about how to use and benefit from Twitter.

The ebook mentioned above was received free, in exchange for an honest review.

<![CDATA[Is Your Website User Friendly?]]>Sun, 01 Feb 2015 04:10:09 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2015/01/is-your-website-usable.htmlPicture
Your website may be the first place potential customers have contact with your business. Your website is an essential tool to promote your business. It needs to be functional with information that visitors can easily find. It is where the customer or client will determine a lot about your credibility. If your site is out-of-date or not functioning, well it can have a negative impact on your business.
Is your content current?
Up-to-date content is a must. Imagine having outdated information about your business hours, and a customer shows up on Monday morning only to be met by a locked door. Oops, you decided to be closed on Mondays but did not update your website.  The most up-to-date information about your hours is essential to have on your website and any social media pages you have. Also, make sure your contact information is current with your address, phone number, etc.
Why Your Website Needs to be Mobile Optimized
It amazes me that so many websites aren’t, yet, optimized for mobile devices. I’ve seen major business sites that are not mobile optimized, so it’s not just a problem of up & coming, small businesses. In today’s modern world, your site needs to be able to be viewed decently on mobile device’s smaller screens. Many people use mobile devices, and their use is on the rise.  
As a user, I can attest to the frustration of clicking a link and ending up on a web page that is awkward to read.  What happens if a customer or client cannot find what he or she needs on your website? Obviously, they’ll go to someone else’s site to get what they need.

Mobile optimization can increase your traffic, enable you to boost sales, and increase engagement. By having your website optimized for mobile, you can reduce the bounce rate. If the visitor has to struggle to read the site, they may not stay around. Employ the use of  redirects that will notice when a visitor is using a mobile device and redirect to the mobile optimized version of your site.
Use Google's Mobile Friendly Test to check your website.
There are even more problems if your site runs Flash or add-ons that aren’t compatible. Apple products don’t support Flash, and many phones don’t support Java. Mobile uses usually are looking for information quickly, so you site needs to have information readily available in a format that is easily accessible.
Is Your Site Readable
It’s important for your website to be user friendly. Help visitors to find what they are looking for on your site with easy to use navigation. Use headings, subheadings and bulleted lists whenever possible to allow people to quickly find the important points.  Put your contact information, phone number, address, and email, in a prominent spot.

<![CDATA[Review of "The List: Shout Out Your Dreams! (Motivation & Inspiration for Success and Happy Life " by Yuval Abramovitz]]>Wed, 07 Jan 2015 07:15:55 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2015/01/review-of-the-list-shout-out-your-dreams-motivation-inspiration-for-success-and-happy-life-by-yuval-abramovitz.html
The List: Shout Out Your Dreams by Yuval Abtamovitz
It is the beginning of a new year, and many of us have made resolutions and goals for 2015. Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, while only eight percent successfully achieve them. If you’re like me, you have a list of goals that sit there, often with many items not being accomplished or maybe even pushed out of mind. “The List: Shout Out Your Dreams (Motivation & Inspiration for Success and Happy Life” by Yuval Abramovitz helps to teach and motivate you to get your goals accomplished.

Yuval Abramovitz is an actor, writer and entrepreneur.  He is also a college lecturer and owns a writing school. Among his many business ventures, he owns the “Made in TLV” chain of memorabilia stores. On top of all that, Abramovitz is also a father.
Through a tragic accident that paralyzed him, the author wound up bed bound at the age of 16. He was confined to a wheelchair, and everyone believed he would be like that forever. His life’s dreams could have disappeared down the drain, while he relegated himself to a life of being crippled. Instead, he used this experience to fuel his fire to achieve his goals. He wrote his life’s dreams in a list. Rather than pity himself, fearing that he would never reach those goals due to his legs being paralyzed, he transferred the yearning to achieve his goals into positive energy. Through writing “The List,” he hopes to help the reader to experience the same phenomena, without the reader having to go through a personal tragedy, as he had.

Many of us make lists, but then something happens. The goals sit there and wilt away, never getting accomplished. Fear, laziness and procrastination stand in the way. These are addressed in the book to help readers figure out what could be holding them back.

In “The List,” Abramovitz shows you the right language to use to break your goals into actionable parts.  Among of the most helpful tools are the included exercises to help get you going. The book is easy to read and enjoyable to due to authors use of humor and stories to illustrate his points. The making of a list is merely the beginning: follow-through and action is essential.

I read the book at just the right time. The end of 2014 left me facing a personal health obstruction over my life. 2015 did not start in a way that I would have liked, and I am putting the pieces of my life back together by applying these practical principles and using Abramovitz’s inspiration.

disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
<![CDATA[Kama Sense Marketing: A Love Affair With Your Customers]]>Sun, 09 Nov 2014 02:05:11 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2014/11/november-08th-2014.html
Kama Sense Marketing: A Love Affair With Your Customers by Jacob Levy
The book “Kama Sense Marketing: A Love Affair With Your Customers” recently caught my curiosity. It is a guidebook for those in marketing, focusing on filling in the key that is missing from most marketing strategies — love. The business world is competitive, so getting your products or services out to people and making sales is crucial to financial success. To do this the author takes a creative spin by using the "Kama Sutra" as his guide, applying it to marketing strategy.

The author states that the "Kama Sutra" is about pleasing your partner more than yourself. His advice is to take this principle, use it in business, and apply it to your customers and prospective customers. The heart of successful marketing is that you must love your customers. You must create a connection on an emotional level, besides offering a product or service that the customer needs. The topics of wooing customers and maintaining customer loyalty are covered. Marketing to females is also dealt with.

To quote the book, “In my search, I drew encouragement from the much -quoted research showing that U.S. women participate in and influence 85 percent of all purchasing decisions in the family— on the other hand, 85 percent of all marketers are men! ” If this statement is true, then marketers do need to aim their marketing strategies to women. After discussing women’s use of their senses and emotions in shopping, Levy does give the advice to appoint women marketers to market to women.

The author, Jacob Levy, holds an MBA from UCLA, which he earned in 1962. Since then, he has had an extensive career in business and is a pioneer of marketing research in Israel.

Aside from unfavorable feelings that I had reading the author’s way of communicating his perspective about women’s shopping process and marketing toward women, I found the book to be a creative take on marketing. It is not another dry guidebook on marketing but rather entertaining, using examples and novel comparisons from the author. This book has some helpful ideas and actionable tips for those in business and marketing.

“Kama Sense Marketing: A Love Affair With Your Customers” is available as an ebook available for download from amazon.com.

disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
<![CDATA[Writing Dark Stories - an ebook review]]>Mon, 20 Oct 2014 02:51:51 GMThttp://writingonfire.us/1/post/2014/10/writing-dark-stories-an-ebook-review.html
cover of Writing Dark Stories by Rayne Hall
Writing Dark Stories by Rayne Hall is part of the Writer’s Craft series. Anyone who enjoys writing fiction, as well as anyone who likes writing in general, will be able find something in this book that is helpful. Even for those who don’t usually write in the dark story genres, there are hints to help your story writing be sharper and more interesting. For a moment, think about what readers want. Readers like their feelings to be aroused. Touch the reader’s senses and keep in mind that suspense keeps them reading. Make a story that they cannot put down, one that will be read until the end, definitely not a story that the reader will get bored with and abandon.

The author, Rayne Hall, is an experienced writer, having written over 50 books in different genres. She has written several instructional books about the writing craft. Ms. Hall holds a college degree in publishing management and a master’s degree in creative writing.

What are dark stories?
According to the author the following are types of dark stories: horror, splatter punk, extreme horror, psychological horror, dystopian, love craftian, thriller, mystery, dark fiction, supernatural, paranormal, paranormal romance, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, gothic, erotic horror, horror comedy, romantic suspense, steampunk, ghost stories, slipstream, speculative fiction, and weird fiction.

The book contains simple advice and writing prompts for anyone wishing to write in the dark story genres. This book is especially helpful for someone starting out or someone who normally does other types of writing. The book is well organized with helpful master plot ideas, tips to build tension and suspense, and marketing tips. I found it useful, since I usually don’t write suspenseful stories or utilize the senses as much as I should.

I found a wealth of information and felt inspired by the time I was done reading this book. Writing Dark Stories by Rayne Hall is a 142-page ebook, available on Amazon.com, for $0.99.

I received a complimentary copy of the book mentioned above for review purposes